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Biologists on the hunt for new medicines to fight a growing epidemic of drug resistance said Wednesday they found an antibiotic in an unexpected place -- the human nose. The promising compound is produced by a nose-dwelling bacterium, and is able to kill a disease-causing, antibiotic-resistant superbug, they reported. "It was completely unexpected to find a human-associated bacterium to produce a real antibiotic," said study co-author Andreas Peschel of the University of Tubingen in Germany.


news.yahoo.com | 7/28/16
By Kate Kelland LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists in Germany have discovered a bacteria hiding out in peoples' noses that produces an antibiotic compound that can kill several dangerous pathogens, including the superbug MRSA. The early-stage finding, reported in the journal Nature on Wednesday, could one day lead to a whole new class of antibiotic medicines being developed to fight drug-resistant bacterial infections, the researchers said. As well as being a focal point for many viral infections, the nasal cavity is also a rich ecosystem of 50 or so different species of bacteria, lead researcher Andreas Peschel of the University of Tuebingen told reporters in a telephone briefing.
news.yahoo.com | 7/27/16

Biologists on the hunt for new medicines to fight a growing epidemic of drug resistance said Wednesday they found an antibiotic in an unexpected place -- the human nose. The promising compound is produced by a nose-dwelling bacterium, and is able to kill a disease-causing, antibiotic-resistant superbug, they reported. "It was completely unexpected to find a human-associated bacterium to produce a real antibiotic," said study co-author Andreas Peschel of the University of Tubingen in Germany.


news.yahoo.com | 7/27/16
By Kate Kelland LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists in Germany have discovered a bacteria hiding out in peoples' noses that produces an antibiotic compound that can kill several dangerous pathogens, including the superbug MRSA. The early-stage finding, reported in the journal Nature on Wednesday, could one day lead to a whole new class of antibiotic medicines being developed to fight drug-resistant bacterial infections, the researchers said. As well as being a focal point for many viral infections, the nasal cavity is also a rich ecosystem of 50 or so different species of bacteria, lead researcher Andreas Peschel of the University of Tuebingen told reporters in a telephone briefing.
news.yahoo.com | 7/27/16
The bacteria, called Staphylococcus lugdunensis, could be used as part of a nasal probiotic say researchers from the University of Tubingen in Germany.

In eight of ten countries surveyed by Pew research at least half think incoming refugees will increase the likelihood of terrorism in their country.

This figure, from the spring 2016 global attitudes survey, highlights a connection that exists in many European minds between the refugee crisis and terrorist attacks, such as the ones in Paris, Brussels and Nice, where 84 people died as a single attacker drove his lorry into a crowd after the Bastille day firework display on the Promenade des Anglais.

This causal link is most thought of in Hungary (76 percent), Poland (71 percent), the Netherlands and Germany (both 61 percent). In France, 46 percent think the arrival of refugees increases the risk of terrorism. In the UK this figure is at 52 percent.

“Amongst Europeans, perceptions of refugees are influenced in part by negative attitudes toward Muslims already living in Europe,” Pew Research says. “In Hungary, Italy, Poland and Greece, more than six-in-ten say they have an unfavourable opinion of the Muslims in their country – an opinion shared by at least one-in-four in each nation polled.”

But according to the study, “there is less alarm that Muslims already living on the Continent might sympathise with extremists.”

Most attackers in Paris and Brussels where French or Belgian nationals.

Pew Research also highlights sharp ideological divides on the refugee question: “In Greece, 81% of those on the right express an unfavourable view of Muslims, compared with 50% of those on the left,” the study shows.

“Significant right-left gaps in attitudes toward Muslims are also found in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Spain, France and the United Kingdom,” Pew Research adds.

Even if ideology is a driving factor, so is the level of education: “older people and less-educated individuals expressing more negative opinions about refugees and minorities,” the study shows.

Resentment also shows on diversity: over half of Greeks and Italians and about 40 percent of Hungarians and Poles say growing diversity makes things worse. Sweden had the highest percentage (36 percent) of people believing diversity makes their country a better place to live.

The survey was conducted in 10 EU nations and the United States among 11,494 respondents from April 4 to May 12, 2016.

www.voxeurop.eu | 7/27/16

In eight of ten countries surveyed by Pew research at least half think incoming refugees will increase the likelihood of terrorism in their country.

This figure, from the spring 2016 global attitudes survey, highlights a connection that exists in many European minds between the refugee crisis and terrorist attacks, such as the ones in Paris, Brussels and Nice, where 84 people died as a single attacker drove his lorry into a crowd after the Bastille day firework display on the Promenade des Anglais.

This causal link is most perceived in Hungary (76 percent), Poland (71 percent), the Netherlands and Germany (both 61 percent). In France, 46 percent think the arrival of refugees increases the risk of terrorism. In the UK this figure is at 52 percent.

“Amongst Europeans, perceptions of refugees are influenced in part by negative attitudes toward Muslims already living in Europe,” Pew Research says. “In Hungary, Italy, Poland and Greece, more than six-in-ten say they have an unfavourable opinion of the Muslims in their country – an opinion shared by at least one-in-four in each nation polled.”

But the study says “there is less alarm that Muslims already living on the Continent might sympathise with extremists.”

Most attackers in Paris and Brussels were French or Belgian nationals.

Pew Research also highlights sharp ideological divides on the refugee question: “In Greece, 81% of those on the right express an unfavourable view of Muslims, compared with 50% of those on the left,” the study shows.

“Significant right-left gaps in attitudes toward Muslims are also found in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Spain, France and the United Kingdom,” Pew Research adds.

Even if ideology is a driving factor, so is the level of education: “older people and less-educated individuals expressing more negative opinions about refugees and minorities,” the study shows.

Resentment also shows on diversity: over half of Greeks and Italians and about 40 percent of Hungarians and Poles say growing diversity makes things worse. Sweden had the highest percentage (36 percent) of people believing diversity makes their country a better place to live.

The survey was conducted in 10 EU nations and the United States among 11,494 respondents from April 4 to May 12, 2016.

www.voxeurop.eu | 7/27/16

WASHINGTON ― Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump set off panic Wednesday night by suggesting he would torpedo America’s commitment to its partners in the strongest mutual defense alliance in the world, NATO.


Trump’s comment that he would judge NATO members’ spending on security before helping them face down a potential invasion ―  a remark initially made to The New York Times ― took over the news cycle for hours. It played perfectly into widespread doubts about the self-described billionaire’s volatility and seemingly reckless views on foreign policy. For his opponents, it was an ideal opportunity to try to turn voters against him.


Have they taken that opportunity?


Nope. 


Instead, key anti-Trump forces are offering evidence for the Republican standard-bearer’s argument ― that U.S. elites are so hung up on past commitments that they can’t embrace fresh thinking.


The Clinton campaign, the Obama administration and top Democratic national security figures like Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.) have chosen to attack Trump by describing his remarks as out of line with the history of Republican presidents, notably GOP hero Ronald Reagan. They’re trotting out classic boilerplate about upholding American promises to NATO.


While this might satisfy worried foreign leaders, it means very little to many U.S. voters on the right and left, who are signaling that they couldn’t care less about the traditions of the past. Republican primary voters have already demonstrated their anger with America’s historic foreign policy, including that of the previous GOP president. Now, widely followed activists on the left are describing the Trump critics’ line as further proof that Hillary Clinton is essentially a war hawk who has abandoned progressive principles.


This could easily become the narrative that sticks ― that there’s really no reason for the U.S. to give money to an “imperial” alliance that supposedly provokes needless tension and and that Trump has it right. Bashing other NATO members for failing to meet their defense spending target (2 percent of their annual budget) has appeal across the political spectrum because it reinforces the sense that America is unfairly over-extended in the world. And talk about NATO’s recent track record ― notably the unpopular 2011 intervention in Libya, with which Clinton is widely associated ― only prompts more vitriol.


But there are a lot of good reasons why the vitality of the Western alliance should matter to regular voters. We’re simply not talking about them. Rather than just calling his remark reckless, Trump’s opponents need to set forth those reasons.


They could, for instance, make a case for NATO that dovetails with the growing war-weariness across America. Clinton and her advocates could explain why a strong NATO makes war with Russia less likely, by giving the country’s autocratic president an incentive to recognize his limits and stop short of prompting global conflict for his local gain.


For Vladimir Putin, adventures into the former Soviet world are an easy way to ignite nationalist sentiment by evoking memories of lost Russian stature. That’s a big reason why he invaded Ukraine in 2014, after that country’s people made clear they wanted to move closer to the West. The resulting crisis has claimed thousands of casualties and dealt deep economic damage to the rest of Europe and to Russia itself. But it’s also helped Putin win even more domestic support.


Mark Galeotti, a former New York University professor and an incoming senior research fellow at the Institute of International Relations Prague, argued Thursday that this shows why conflict will not be prevented by NATO backing off from regions Putin is interested in. Galeotti’s conversations with Russian insiders have him convinced Putin does not truly want to grab territory. Instead, the Russian president wants to project fear abroad for the sake of his power at home. By undermining his capacity to do that ― by proving that his threats against neighbors are necessarily empty because of NATO’s commitment to those countries ― the defense alliance helps keep Russian belligerence in check and encourages peaceful engagement.


Laying out the current nature of Russia’s threat to peace is key because the classic “The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!” argument no longer works. With the rise of isolationist thinking across the political spectrum and the spread of Russia-sponsored “news” that encourages the world to see all international crises as Washington’s fault, many voters are willing to back off and let Moscow do what it pleases. Democrats mocked Mitt Romney for talking of Russia as a top geopolitical threat in 2012 ― and many still think that’s an overstatement. Can Trump critics hoping to woo voters convince them that this thinking is off?


Equally important, Trump critics need to argue that there’s more to NATO than opposing Russia. The alliance was there for the U.S. after it was attacked on 9/11 and continues to provide essential support in Afghanistan as the U.S. tries to slowly exit that war.


Helping voters understand the need for friends abroad means countering the pernicious argument that the greatest threats to American national security today are simply the results of Washington’s war-mongering abroad. The forces determined to target the U.S. arose for a complex mix of reasons, including, but not limited to, the sometimes brutal mistakes of America and NATO. They won’t spare groups of people in NATO countries just because those folks criticize the alliance or other “imperialism.” The alliance’s defenders need to remind Americans that NATO partners work with Washington to face many of these foes, including the self-described Islamic State and other militant groups. 


None of this is to say that Trump’s critics should not acknowledge legitimate complaints about what’s not working in that partnership. Surely it’s not impossible for Clinton and her allies to point out that NATO nations are well aware they could share the burden of collective defense more fairly. Bolstering defense spending is simply politically harder for their governments than it is in the U.S., where even pseudo-isolationist Trump talks about more military money. But they’re trying, as Germany recently proved.


To anyone listening to voters’ thoughts about how America should engage the world, it’s clear that the best case against Trumpian pseudo-isolation consists not of invoking long-dead leaders but of talking plainly about U.S. needs today. Now it all depends on whether Trump’s rivals can make that case ― and, ahem, not blow this.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Shawki Ibrahim Allam, the Grand Mufti of Egypt was a guest at the University of Bonn in Germany. In a panel, he called for inter-religious dialogue; however, political issues were not addressed.
www.dw.com | 7/17/16

Theresa May

Prime Minister of the U.K.

May was automatically appointed prime minister on Monday following the withdrawal of opponent Andrea Leadsome. Former prime minister David Cameron announced that he would formally resign by Wednesday. May will be responsible for leading negotiations with the European Union after Britain voted to leave the union.

Along with Margaret Thatcher, May is Britain’s second female prime minister. She will formally be appointed by Queen Elizabeth II.

Angela Merkel

Chancellor of Germany

Merkel has been leading Germany since 2005 and the Christian Democratic Union of Germany since 2000. A former research scientist, Merkel is also the first female chancellor of Germany and the longest-serving incumbent government head in the European Union. She is ranked as the most powerful woman in politics on Forbes’ 2016 list.

Tsai Ing-wen

President of the Republic of China

Tsai, who assumed office on May 20, is the first female president of Taiwan. Before winning in a landslide victory, she formerly served as the chair of Democratic Progressive Party. She has also publicly endorsed same-sex marriage and LGBTQ rights on her Facebook page.

Bidhya Devi Bhandari

President of Nepal

Elected last year, Bhandari is Nepal’s second president and first female to take on the position. She is a member of the Communist Party of Nepal and had been campaigning to secure women’s rights in the country’s new constitution.

Park Geun-hye

President of South Korea

Park — who is the first woman to be elected as South Korea’s president — previously served as the chairwoman of the Saenuri Party (formerly called the Conservative Grand National Party) and was a member of the Korean National Assembly. Her father, Park Chung-hee, was the president of South Korea from 1963 to 1979.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

President of Liberia

In 2011, Sirleaf was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with Leymah Gbowee of Liberia and Tawakkol Karman of Yemen for their “non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.” She is the first woman to be elected as a head of state in Africa and the chair of the Economic Community of West African States.

Sirleaf also happens to be the aunt of actress and comedian Retta, who portrayed Donna on “Parks and Recreation.”

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović

President of Croatia

Grabar-Kitarović assumed office in 2015 as Croatia’s fourth president. She is the first woman and youngest person to be elected to the position. She previously has served as Croatia’s minister of European affairs, minister of foreign affairs and European integration, assistant secretary general for public diplomacy at NATO, and ambassador to the United States.

Michelle Bachelet

President of Chile

Bachelet has won the Chilean presidential elections twice and currently serves as the 37th president. She was the inaugural executive director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and served as the health minister and defense minister under previous Chilean president Ricardo Lagos.

Sheikh Hasina Wajed

Prime Minister of Bangladesh

As a leader of the Bangladesh Awami League, Hasina has served as prime minister three times. Her first term lasted from 1996 to 2001 and the second term between 2009-2014. She began her third term in 2014 after winning the election, which was boycotted by the main opposition alliance.

Ameenah Gurib-Fakim

President of Mauritius

Gurib-Fakim, a biodiversity scientist, was elected to as president in 2015. She is the first woman elected to the position and is currently the managing director of CIDP Research & Innovation, where she studies the medicinal and nutritive uses of Mauritius’ indigenous plants. She was a professor at the University of Mauritius and was awarded the L’Oréal-UNESCO Award for Women in Science in 2007.

Dalia Grybauskaite

President of Lithuania

As Lithuania’s first female president, Grybauskaite was inaugurated in 2009 and re-elected in 2014. She previously served as the vice minister of foreign affairs, minister of finance, and European commissioner for financial programming and the budget. Along with presidents Barack Obama, Joachim Gauck and François Hollande, Grybauskaite boycotted the Sochi Winter Olympics.

www.thewrap.com | 7/12/16

As political and social turmoil rocks the Western world, we’re increasingly looking to women to clean up the mess ― the U.S., the U.K., Germany, the IMF and the United Nations may all be run by women come January.


At least one woman isn’t the least bit surprised, but she is worried: Are the coming leaders facing down impossible situations? Are we setting up women to fail, discouraging a generation of women from vying for leadership roles?


More than a decade ago, Michelle Ryan, an organizational and social psychologist at the University of Exeter, along with a colleague, coined a term ― the Glass Cliff ― to describe the situation when women, and sometimes minority men, ascend to power during times of organizational decline, crisis and turmoil. It’s the natural corollary of the “glass ceiling,” the invisible barrier women face when trying to make it up the top of the ladder. Those who crack the ceiling, the reasoning goes, step out onto a fragile ledge at the top and face down various crises.


Years of further research and analysis ― as well as boatloads of anecdotes ― have reinforced these findings. Though some argue they don’t hold up. And these days, from her perch in a village just outside her university, Ryan is bearing witness to a political situation that seems ripped right out her research.


“There are glass cliffs everywhere right now,” Ryan told The Huffington Post by phone on Friday. “Women are popping out of the woodwork.”



The U.S. looks again likely to walk a president out onto the glass cliff ― as we did in 2008, electing a black man to the White House for the first time during a time of financial crisis ― with Hillary Clinton leading the polls.


In the U.K., as male leaders back away from running the country in the wake of the disastrous Brexit vote to leave the European Union, women are stepping in. Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom are the remaining two contenders for prime minister. 


Indeed, the British press is looking to these women as saviors.



May v Leadsom? We just need someone to lead us out of this mess https://t.co/mPpPU3cspl

— The Guardian (@guardian) July 4, 2016



“At this time when Britain is really precarious, you see these men aspiring to power suddenly stepping away and you don’t see many men stepping up. Women see an opportunity and rise,” Ryan said.


Of course, getting more women into positions of power ― in arenas where they’re still minorities ― is a good thing and the raft of women now vying to lead us through crisis are certainly qualified and capable. The danger is you’re putting these women into extremely difficult jobs, with very little guarantee of success.


Because there are so few female CEOs, prime ministers and presidents, each one who ascends to power serves as a symbol for her entire gender. If they fail, women leaders don’t fail just as people ― they fail as “women.” 


Their individual failures can serve to reinforce the notion that men are the only truly capable leaders. That also discourages a younger generation of women from seeking top jobs, Ryan said.


“You don’t want to see women set up for horrible falls,” Ryan said. The alternate metaphor for the glass cliff? “The poisoned chalice,” she said.


A Great Opportunity Or The Edge Of ‘Doom’?

Ever since Ryan and S. Alexander Haslan, now at the University of Queensland, coined the phrase, the glass cliff has been getting crowded: Marissa Mayer took the reins at Yahoo, as the company faced ongoing decline in 2012; Mary Barra came to lead General Motors right before the company was forced to face the music on a massive recall scandal in 2014; Iceland elected female leaders after the country was devastated by the financial crisis; the United States in 2008 turned to a black man to clean up one of the worst financial disasters in the country’s history.


Taking on a leadership role is never simple; taking it on when a company or country is facing a big crisis is really tough.


Over in the U.K. a new prime minister will have to appease a population where essentially neither side is happy, Ryan points out. The people who voted to leave the EU are upset that the leaders of the Brexit movement are backing away from their promises ― more money for health care! No more immigrants! Those who voted to stay in the EU. Well, they lost.


Leading the country is “a great opportunity, but it will be difficult,” Ryan said in a gentle understatement.


In the U.S., some are already saying that even if Clinton wins, she will ultimately fail because of the extreme political climate and the country’s rising suspicions of “elites.” 



“Doomed,” is how Felix Salmon described her in a recent piece for Fusion.


Mayer is still hanging on at Yahoo, but no one is sure how much longer she’ll last as her company continues to face challenges. But Barra meanwhile has managed to triumph. And she’s considered an exceptional female leader, Colleen Ammerman, the director of Harvard’s Gender Initiative, told HuffPost.


So Much For Smashing The Glass Ceiling

Ryan and Haslam were inspired to do their research after reading a report in the London Times in 2003, which claimed companies with declining share prices had more women in their boardrooms. 


“So much for smashing the glass ceiling and using their unique skills to enhance the performance of Britain’s biggest companies,” the article read. “The triumphant march of women into the country’s boardrooms has instead wreaked havoc on companies’ performance.” 


The pair suspected something else might be at play. After analyzing the 19 public companies on the London Stock Exchange that actually had women on their boards, Ryan and Haslam found that after a company’s stock price went down women tended to be appointed to the boardroom.


“Over the last 10 years, we’ve tried to understand why,” Ryan said. She and Haslam, as well as academics in the U.S., have spent years analyzing the phenomenon.


Researchers at Utah State University recently studied CEO changes at Fortune 500 companies over the past 15 years, finding that businesses typically put women and minorities in the CEO job in times of poor performance.


More intriguing, those researchers found that when women and minorities do not succeed in those roles, they are typically replaced by a white male leader who exhibits strong hyper-masculine qualities: something they call the “savior effect.”


It’s possible that we’re seeing that play out right now, after eight years of Obama’s stint on the glass cliff. Voters who view Obama’s presidency poorly might gravitate toward former reality TV star and consummate elite white man Donald Trump as a sort of “savior,” Ammerman said.


But those who view Obama favorably, and want four more years of leadership that falls outside of conventional norms, would gravitate to Clinton. 


Women As Caretakers And Scapegoats

So why do we turn to women and minorities in times of crisis? A few things are at play. At these moments, people are more willing to take risks, which opens up the field to candidates that aren’t typically considered for powerful positions.


There’s also a feeling that trying out a woman in a leadership role is “innovative,” Ammerman said.


In lab research where participants were asked to consider whether a woman or man ― with equal qualifications ― should be appointed CEO of a company, women were more likely to be chosen if the company was doing poorly.


“We’ve seen that in lots of studies,” Ryan said. Indeed, others have replicated her findings.


Women, and to some extent minorities, may also be stereotyped to have certain traits ―  empathy, caretaking ― that people feel make them suited to sensitively manage people through a crisis.


Other follow-on research has shown that women are sometimes appointed in crisis situations to serve as scapegoats. One thinks of Erin Callan, the first-ever chief financial officer of the investment bank Lehman Brothers. She was appointed just months before that firm went under, during the runup to the financial crisis, serving as its public face. Callan resigned as it became clear the investment bank was in dire straits, essentially taking the hit for decisions made by the men at her firm long before she took the top spot.


Each time someone falls off the glass cliff, that failure has the potential to reinforce stereotypes about all women’s capability as leaders. Ryan thinks that slows down the growth of the number of women leaders at companies.


Instead of focusing on the problem of appointing women only in times of crisis, in a recent paper Ryan and her coauthors ask a different question: Why not consider why we are more likely to appoint white men when things are going along super-well?


“Men are given preferential access to cushy leadership positions,” they write. We may need to “start focusing our attention on men’s privileged access to the glass cushion.”


They also probably need a slightly better term. 

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


Germany throws out 11 million kilograms of food every year and Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt has a plan to halve that amount by 2030.


Expiry dates printed on food product labels have a lot to with food waste, according to Schmidt. “Too much food ends up in the trash, even though it’s still edible,” he told HuffPost Germany.


Schmidt, who belongs to the conservative Christian Social Union, became Germany’s agriculture minister in 2014.


His vision is for food products to use smart packaging that can inform consumers when it is no longer edible. A computer chip in a yoghurt-cup could measure if it’s still consumable, for example.



We need conscious consumers who know where food belongs -- in your mouth and stomach, not in the garbage bin.
Christian Schmidt


Schmidt has promised to dedicate 10 million euros to fund research projects and startups that will work toward his goal of finding better ways to determine the freshness of food.


HuffPost Germany spoke with Schmidt about his idea for this project, which he has titled: “Too good for the garbage.”


Mr. Minister, when was the last time you caught yourself throwing away food that was still in decent condition?


It was a half-torn biscuit that I couldn’t finish. Usually I’ll have that packed up and take it with me. I’m strict with myself.


Well, you have to say that now.


No, I actually always feel guilty when food is thrown out. As someone who grew up in a baker’s family, I was raised that way ― bread wasn’t just tossed out. And I grew up at a time when food wasn’t easily discarded. We have to return to an appreciation for food.


Are younger generations more wasteful?


Yes, there is a generation gap. Those over 60 throw away less food than the under-30s. 


Why do you think that is?


It’s an abundance frame of mind ― people think it’s no longer necessary to conserve food. Waste has almost become an “everyday” thing. That’s why I’m also fighting for nutrition education to become firmly anchored into our curriculums. We simply need a different approach to our food. This needs to start early. 


How would educating children help the food waste problem?


It is sometimes the case that the parents aren’t raising the children, but that the children are raising the parents. Sometimes, this is a good thing. We need conscious consumers who know where food belongs ― in your mouth and stomach, not in the garbage bin.


Is it really that simple? A big part of food waste is produced by households.


Each of us, on average, throws out 82kg of food each year ― that’s way too much. That’s why we can, and we must, do a great deal to combat food waste. But it’s not just about the consumers. The problem is much more complex. For example, we live in a “packaging culture.” Everything is packaged in portions ― but these are not always appropriately sized for singles or for quick purchases. People go for the bigger packages, because there’s nothing in the smaller packages. This gives rise to additional waste.


My goal is to cut food waste in half by 2030.


About three months ago, you announced that you would reform the expiration date. When will consumers notice a difference at the supermarket?


As part of my innovation funding program, there are now around 10 million euros available for the development of “smart packaging,” among other things. These packages would display the information about the quality of the food and help to replace the expiration dates printed on packages in the long term.


And, in my opinion there shouldn’t be an expiration date on non-perishable products such as coffee, noodles and flour. I’m working on that at the EU level. I will also hold talks with businesses to develop criteria to give expiration dates to specific foods. I assume reforms could be on the way within the next two years.


Do you think that this decision could be postponed because of Brexit?


I don’t believe so. We must free ourselves from thinking that all issues need British approval. Frankly, the expiration date issue has no copyright. If the United Kingdom wants to join, I would have no problems with that. The 27 remaining countries will move forward with this issue anyway.


France has taken it one step further: French supermarkets are no longer allowed to throw anything out. Perishable food must be donated, decaying food composted or processed into animal feed. More and more Germans want to see a similar initiative in Germany.


There will be no such law in Germany. First, German supermarkets are much more likely to give food to social institutions just before the expiration date than French supermarkets. We don’t need to over-regulate here. Secondly, the change in regulation changes nothing about the root problem, namely, the surplus. Too much food is tossed out despite being edible. 


Is it enough to cut the amount of food thrown out in half by 2030? Germany has committed to this goal before the United Nations.


With the federal prize for the engagement against food waste, we’re finding businesses and projects. In the past year alone, we’ve had hundreds of submissions and good ideas ― that was a pleasant surprise. A new round of the competition started in early July.


Many people in Germany are already committed to combating food waste ― whether through volunteering, unusual business ideas, trade innovations, gastronomy or food production.


I want to strengthen and promote this engagement. I’ll also turn the initiative “Too good for the garbage” into a national strategy to combat food waste. To achieve this, we need the participation of people in the food industry, as well as people in the different states and NGOs.


This piece originally appeared on HuffPost Germany and has been translated into English.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Proponents of the Paleo philosophy, a popular diet based on foods believed to have been eaten by cavemen, are overlooking a gruesome staple of their meals: other people. Researchers at the University of Tübingen in Germany found that Neanderthals had a taste for human bones and meat. The study published in the journal Scientific Reports...
nypost.com | 7/7/16

This couple left a historic legacy.


Holocaust survivors Howard and Lottie Marcus gifted $400 million from their estate to Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, according to a university release.


The donation is likely the largest single charitable gift in Israel’s history, reports the Wall Street Journal, and is expected to more than double the size of the university’s endowment. 


What’s more, 10 percent of the money will go to BGU’s Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research, according to The Jewish Week, which studies water sustainability in arid regions, including desalination, wastewater reuse and water recycling.


“They believed that peace could come to the Middle East if water scarcity could be addressed,” Phillip Gomperts, regional director of BGU’s American fundraising organization, AABGU, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.



Lottie Marcus died in December 2015, two months before her 100th birthday, according to the release, and Howard Marcus died in 2014 at the age of 104.


Both had fled Nazi Germany in the 1930s and lost most of their family members in the Holocaust.


“Their legacy is a triumph over the forces of evil that very nearly erased them from the face of the earth more than 70 years ago,” AABGU President Lloyd Goldman told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.


In the U.S. they made their fortune as early investors in the 1960s in a young Warren Buffett’s partnership, which later became major conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway.


It was only in the late 1990s that Lottie and Harold Marcus learned about Ben-Gurion University’s research in water sustainability, according to the release. They gave donations to support university laboratories and student scholarships, finally leaving the institution its biggest gift yet of $400 million.


“Knowing them, it comes as no surprise that they elected to use their financial success to enhance the lives of thousands of Israeli young people,” Warren Buffett said in the release.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Aqilah Sandhu, a star student at Augsburg University law faculty, began a traineeship with the Bavarian judicial system after completing her state law exams, but was told in a letter that she was not allowed to interrogate witnesses or appear in courtrooms while wearing her headscarf.
Or at least they don't need more apps.

That much is evident from the implosion of the "I Sea" app, which has sent waves through the "refugee tech" cottage industry.

It turned out that the prize-winning app, which claimed to lets users help save migrants crossing the Mediterranean by broadcasting real-time satellite footage of the ocean, was a sham. It didn't scan in real-time, but rather used a static image of the ocean. After the revelation last week, it was pulled from the app store.

I Sea is not an anomaly but the most visible symptom of "app creep" in the humanitarian crisis du jour, that of Syrian refugees migrating to Europe.

Is there an app for that?
Ever since the Syrian refugee crisis crested to public attention, it has become a favorite subject of well-intentioned "hackers" and "disruptors." For every vector of the monstrous crisis -- housing, first aid, food, education -- we were told, "There's an app for that ."

The apps, entrepreneurs, and startups certainly filled some gaps created by governments and large nonprofits, which can be slow to act because of their size. But after the initial enthusiasm for these "miracle apps," many peter out, both because the realities of helping refugees are so tough, but also, perhaps, because the media appeal has waned.

The "Refoodgee" app to connect Germany refugees with food has fewer than 500 downloads and hasn't been updated since October, when it was written up in news outlets. A founder of the ClinicFinder app , which connects refugees to medical services, told HuffPost he had no idea how many people downloaded it or have successfully used it. Services Provider, a Canadian smartphone app that sought to connect refugees in Jordan to basic services, is currently in limbo as it waits for feedback from the UNHCR; no refugee is currently able to access it.

"We put roughly 75,000 volunteer hours towards the app," Renee Black, a founder of Services Provider, told HuffPost. "And UNHCR gave us $3000 in funding." These are the odds that even well-designed apps face on the ground.

The apps that have stuck it out face tough circumstances. One website that was widely heralded as "AirBnB for Refugees" faced growing pains after its glowing reception last fall. Refugees Welcome matches refugees with spare rooms or sublets in European countries.

"The demand is far, far higher than the supply," Sophie Mirow, project manager of RW Germany, told HuffPost in April. In Hamburg, for instance, there were just ten room listings for over 1000 refugees seeking accommodation.

It's a sharp turn from last fall, when it was reported that Refugees Welcome was "overwhelmed" with offers from people who wanted to house refugees. Mirow said they saw a "sharp decrease" in rooms offered over the past six months, perhaps as initial enthusiasm over the refugee crisis has waned. Plus, although their website states they will help "all refugees irrespective of their residence status," i.e. whether or not they have a residence permit, the majority of refugees they have been able to help are the ones with official permits, said Mirow. It has been harder than they initially expected to figure out how to accommodate refugees without residence permits -- who are perhaps the ones most in need of a place to stay.

Silicon Syria
The problem of refugee tech is exemplified in the hackathon series called TechFugees. The first hackathon took place in Sydney last November. But so far, not a single idea from the event has been enacted. A TechFugees representative said several "mentoring relationships" formed during the weekend.

TechFugees does have one visible byproduct, though: more hackathons. It has replicated in New York, London and Melbourne in recent months. Across the board, even the best hackathon ideas remain in development.

"Deploying stuff on the ground is very hard because there's multiple agencies involved and there's almost certainly no internet access," Mike Butcher, a TechFugees founder, told Londonist.

Well, sure it's hard. That's why it's a crisis.

Refugee app creep reflects the Silicon-ificiation of the whole world, where every problem is a profit opportunity, words are robbed of meaning (RIP "disrupt;" "mobile;" "interface") and phones are more reliable actors than humans.

The I Sea debacle throws this into sharp relief, but we almost can't blame them. It was developed, tellingly, by an ad agency, Singapore-based called Grey Group, for a Maltese nonprofit that surely thought a buzzy app would raise its profile. And if even one person donated money based on that, wouldn't it have been worth it? Tech entrepreneurs create app creep, but the media enables it.

Here's a modest proposal: we don't need more flashy refugee apps. Why not, instead, work on capacity-building for organizations that are already on the ground? The Red Cross, Oxfam, Amnesty International, and so many others. Or contribute tech knowledge towards state-led efforts, like Germany's popular app for incoming refugees.

Excess goodwill towards the refugee crisis is hardly a bad thing. But turning the refugee trail into an arena for fame and unfulfilled glory -- making Syria and the Greek islands stand in for Mountain View and Palo Alto -- is a fool's errand.

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Brexit will wilt the long-standing alliance between the U.S. and the U.K., as Americans turn to other European countries such as Germany, and President Obama faces the likelihood of an ideological opposite as new British prime minister.

“The U.S. will take the U.K. much less seriously now,” said Klaus Larres, an expert on trans-Atlantic relations from the University of North Carolina. “The U.S. will increasingly look to Germany, not just as economically the most successful country in Europe, but the only one of the largest countries still pro-Europe.”

By Georgina Prodhan MUNICH, Germany (Reuters) - Robots that work as assistants alongside people are set to upend the world of industrial robotics by putting automation within reach of many small and medium-sized companies for the first time, industry players said this week. Ostergaard and his co-founders were already working on robotics at university together when the Danish ministry of food launched an initiative to get more robots into the Danish food industry to be more competitive.


news.yahoo.com | 6/24/16

By Georgina Prodhan MUNICH, Germany (Reuters) - Robots that work as assistants alongside people are set to upend the world of industrial robotics by putting automation within reach of many small and medium-sized companies for the first time, industry players said this week. Ostergaard and his co-founders were already working on robotics at university together when the Danish ministry of food launched an initiative to get more robots into the Danish food industry to be more competitive.


news.yahoo.com | 6/24/16

Berlin's parliament voted Thursday to pull its money out of coal, gas and oil companies.


The new investment policy, part of the German capital's goal of completely weaning off carbon by 2050, will force the city's pension fund -- worth $852.8 million, or €750 million -- to divest from shares of German oil giants RWE and E.ON, as well as the French behemoth Total.


The move comes a week after Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, vowed to end its investments in fossil fuels companies, making Berlin the seventh major Western city to join a divestment movement that already includes Paris, Copenhagen, Oslo, Seattle, Portland and Melbourne. In September, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio urged the city's five pension funds -- worth a collective $160 billion -- to sell their $33 million exposure to coal, by the far the dirtiest fossil fuel.


A handful of smaller U.S. cities have pledged to curtail fossil fuel investments, too. 



“Berlin’s decision to blacklist fossil fuel companies is the latest victory for the divestment movement, which serves to remove the social license from companies whose business model pushes us into climate catastrophe," Christoph Meyer, a campaigner with environmental nonprofit 350.org's Fossil Free Berlin project, said in a statement. "We will keep a close eye on the administration to make sure it upholds today’s commitment and urge the city to now take quick steps to break its reliance on coal power.”


The decision, hailed as a victory for environmentalists, comes as the divestment movement gains steam in the wake of the historic climate treaty brokered in Paris in December. About 170 nations signed the accord at the United Nations in New York two months ago. More than 500 institutions -- including well-endowed universities, pension funds and religious organizations collectively representing $3.4 trillion -- have agreed to stop investing in fossil fuels since the campaign began. 


The divestments put pressure on fossil fuel companies to take serious steps to reform their businesses as world leaders try to dramatically slash carbon emissions. Without that, global temperatures are likely to rise well above 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, by the end of the century, altering the climate enough to jeopardize the future of human civilization. 



It's not a particularly contentious move for Berlin. For much of the last decade, Germany has aggressively pushed to transition from an economy powered by fossil fuels to one propelled by clean energy under a policy called Energiewende. As of 2014, the country -- considered the economic powerhouse of Europe -- generated 26.2 percent of its power from renewables, according to Strom-Report, a project run by a group of German data journalists.


“We’re not alone anymore,” Charly Kleissner, the founder of the KL Felicitas Foundation, a group pushing for divestment from fossil fuels, told the German business newspaper Handelsblatt last week. “The next generation is all in.”

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Germany's new education report shows that children of immigrant background are gaining more access to education, but mainly in younger years. There is still room for improvement at the high school and university level.
www.dw.com | 6/17/16

Islamophobia has risen markedly in Germany, a study published on Wednesday showed, underscoring the tensions simmering in German society after more than one million migrants, mostly Muslims, arrived last year.


Every second respondent in the study of 2,420 people said they sometimes felt like a foreigner in their own country due to the many Muslims here, up from 43 percent in 2014 and 30.2 percent in 2009.


The number of people who believe Muslims should be forbidden from coming to Germany has also risen, the study showed, and now stands at just above 40 percent, up from about a fifth in 2009.


The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Leipzig in co-operation with the Heinrich Boell Foundation, the Rosa-Luxemburg Foundation and the Otto-Brenner foundation.


The influx of migrants has fueled support for the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party that wants to ban minarets and the burqa and has described Islam as incompatible with the German constitution.


The number of attacks on refugee shelters has also risen. 



Supporters of the AfD were most likely to favor stopping Muslims from coming to Germany while Green voters were most likely to disagree with the statement that Muslims made them feel like foreigners, the survey found.


On Monday German President Joachim Gauck warned against demonizing Muslims and against polarization along religious and ethnic lines in German society when he joined a Ramadan dinner in Berlin.


Germany is home to nearly four million Muslims, about five percent of the total population. Many of the longer established Muslim community in Germany came from Turkey to find work, but those who have arrived over the past year have mostly been fleeing conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.


The study also examined extreme right-wing views towards other groups in Germany.



"While general prejudice against migrants fell slightly, the focus of resentment towards asylums seekers, Muslims as well as Sinti and Roma, increased," the study's authors said.


The number of those surveyed that believed Sinti and Roma peoples tended towards criminality rose to nearly 60 percent, while slightly more than 80 percent of respondents wanted the state not to be too generous when examining asylum applications.


Almost 40 percent of those surveyed in east Germany agreed with the statement that foreigners only came to Germany to take advantage of its social welfare benefits, compared to about 30 percent of those in the west of the country.

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Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on Monday called the massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in which 50 people died, a "very serious tragedy," but said it was wrong to see all Muslims as potential terrorists.


Asked in an interview with Reuters about U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's reiteration of a call after the shooting for a ban on Muslims entering the country, the Dalai Lama said the billionaire businessman was entitled to his opinion.


However, he added that if he had a chance, he would ask Trump "What's his reason? More detail."


The Dalai Lama said that in every religious community, including Buddhist ones, "there are some mischievous people."


"But you cannot generalize," he said. "Some individual Muslims may carry out some terrorist activities, but better we should not say 'Muslim terrorists.' I think that's wrong."


Fifty people, including the gunman, the U.S.-born son of Afghan immigrants who had declared his allegiance to Islamic State militants, were killed in the attack at the Orlando nightclub on Sunday morning. It was the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.



Trump and his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton are at odds over how to respond to such attacks, with the latter warning against demonizing Muslims and calling for tougher gun safety measures.


Speaking earlier at Washington's U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP), the Dalai Lama said that by nature, women were more compassionate and if more world leaders were female, "there may be less trouble, less violence."


"Of course, some ladies, females, are exceptional," he added. "Equally, some males are very compassionate."


Asked by Reuters if it was time for a female leader in the United States, he said, "that's up to the people of this country," although he added that past female world leaders such as India's Indira Gandhi, Israel's Golda Meir, Britain's Margaret Thatcher and Germany's Angela Merkel had set good examples.


Asked if he would meet President Barack Obama during his three-day visit to Washington, the Dalai Lama said it was "not finalized, but some friends say he may meet me."


Obama met the Dalai Lama when the latter visited Washington in 2014 and vowed "strong support" for Tibetans' human rights, angering China which sees the spiritual leader as an anti-Chinese separatist.



Asked how Beijing (Peking) might respond this time, the Dalai Lama said: "I don't know - you should ask them. I think in Peking, we cannot as of now … generalize. In Peking there are different views. Some people there have a more realistic view. Some are more hardline, which is more narrow-minded."


At the start of the USIP event, the Dalai Lama called on the audience to observe a moment of silence for the Orlando victims.


"Yesterday, very serious tragedy, Orlando. So let us (say) some silent prayer, OK," he said, while adding afterwards: "Although, one Buddhist monk grows quite skeptical about the effects of prayer."


Real change, he said, required serious action, including better education, to ensure more compassion and tolerance in the world, and it was important not to lose "determination or courage."


"Then on top of that, some prayer is OK, no harm," he said.

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By Andrew M. Seaman (Reuters Health) - Drug labels sometimes warn that the medications may disrupt sleep, but a new study suggests these drugs don't cause troubled sleep for most people. The researchers found "barely" any link between medications that warned about potential sleep disturbances and actual sleep problems among thousands of people interviewed for the study. "Sleep disturbances are a frequent problem especially in older people and we wanted to find out whether this might be due to the intake of sleep disturbing drugs," said lead author Anna-Therese Lehnich, of the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany, in email to Reuters Health.


news.yahoo.com | 6/11/16




The silver ribbon of stars that wraps the night sky has long been an awe-inspiring sight for anyone who cares to look up. But that’s not the case anymore for people who live under a fog of light pollution.


A new analysis using satellite data and sky brightness measurements has found that the Milky Way is hidden from more than one-third of humanity, including 60 percent of Europeans and nearly 80 percent of North Americans. The research was reported Friday in the journal Science Advances.


The researchers calculated several degrees of light pollution, starting from the level at which artificial light obscures astronomical observations up to the level at which the midnight sky is as bright as it is at twilight. Their calculations show that more than 80 percent of the world and more than 99 percent of U.S. and European populations live under light-polluted skies. 


This level of pollution may have negative consequences, ranging from harming animals’ life cycles to affecting human health and even psychology by taking away one of the most positive experiences that’s naturally available, experts said.



There Are Now People Who’ve Never Seen The Milky Way

The proliferation of light pollution started in the 1950s and 60s and has continued to expand every year, said Chris Elvidge, a scientist with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and a co-author of the study.


"For several generations, people in large urban centers have had their view of the Milky Way blocked," Elvidge told The Huffington Post. “This is an aesthetic loss, and perhaps a spiritual loss in terms of feeling a connection to the cosmos.”  


Losing that connection could have major consequences when it comes to psychological health. The night sky presents one of the few universal situations in which all humans can experience a profound sense of awe. And awe, psychologists are increasingly finding, is a special emotion that can impact our cognition and behavior in unique and unexpected ways.


“Fleeting and rare, experiences of awe can change the course of a life in profound and permanent ways,” wrote Dacher Keltner and Jonathan Haidt in 2003 in one of the first psychological looks on this long-neglected emotion. Reviewing historical examples of people whose lives were transformed thanks to awe, Keltner and Haidt suggested that “awe-inducing may be one of the fastest and most powerful methods of personal change and growth.”


That’s why losing the chance to gaze at a vast sky may not be a small matter.


“The bright night sky and its stars has long been a profound source of awe and inspiration, which we know to stir creativity, generosity, good will and innovation,” Keltner told HuffPost. “Losing a clear night sky will harm our capacity for wonder and put a dent in our spirit of common cause.”



For several generations, people in large urban centers have had their view of the Milky Way blocked. This is an aesthetic loss, and perhaps a spiritual loss in terms of feeling a connection to the cosmos.
Chris Elvidge, NOAA scientist


In more recent investigations of the effects of awe, researchers have elicited the emotion in the lab and observed that people’s perception of time appears to expand. Compared with people experiencing other emotions, those who experienced awe felt that they had more time, said Melanie Rudd of the University of Houston. “As a result, they started doing things that are good for your subjective well-being, like helping others and choosing experiences over material goods.” Having a greater perception of time and being present is particularly important in today’s culture, because people often feel rushed, Rudd said.


Rudd and her colleagues have also found that the best way to elicit awe in people is by putting them in nature -- at the foot of the Swiss Alps or on top of the Grand Canyon, for example. But for people who live in large, populous cities and don’t have a canyon in their backyard, looking at the night sky is one of the few ways to evoke the feeling of awe.


“The sky is right there. It's very accessible,” Rudd said. “But if the light pollution is getting in the way, then you are taking away a very nice source of awe for people."


Where Can We Still See The Milky Way?

Even at a distance, pollution from large cities casts a wide curtain of brightness on surrounding areas. “Light pollution is one of the most pervasive forms of environmental alteration,” the researchers wrote in their analysis of global light pollution. “It affects even otherwise pristine sites because it is easily observed during the night hundreds of kilometers from its source in landscapes that seem untouched by humans during the day.”


Even protected areas such as national parks are not entirely safe from glimmering cities far away. For example, light from Las Vegas and Los Angeles can be seen from Death Valley National Park, the researchers wrote.





The researchers created an atlas of global light pollution that can be seen above, using dark gray to mark light-polluted sites that should be protected from future light increases. If sites are marked in blue, that means the sky is too bright for astronomical observations. Areas marked in yellow are places where people can’t see the Milky Way in the winter, and orange means even the brighter summer Milky Way is obscured by artificial light.


In areas marked in red, the night sky is as luminous as it is at twilight. “This means that, in places with this level of pollution, people never experience conditions resembling a true night because it is masked by an artificial twilight,” the researchers wrote.


The most light-polluted country is Singapore, where people live under skies so bright that the eye cannot fully adapt to night vision, the researchers said. Other countries with high levels of light pollution include Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Israel, Argentina, Libya, and Trinidad and Tobago. Countries with populations least affected by light pollution are Chad, the Central African Republic and Madagascar.


In Western Europe, only some areas -- most of them in Scotland, Sweden and Norway -- still enjoy a dark night. Among G-20 countries, Saudi Arabia and South Korea have the highest degree of light pollution, while India and Germany are exposed to the least light pollution.


In the United States, "the western U.S. and Alaska have the largest blocks of undeveloped, unpopulated lands where the night sky has largely been preserved,” Evlidge said.


For those who’d like to take a short break from the city for a stargazing trip, Elvidge suggests getting about 100 miles out.

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A new large-scale European study has found that men with a higher body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference are at a higher risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer. The research was carried out by researchers from the Cancer Epidemiology Unit, Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, UK, who presented their findings at this year's European Obesity Summit, taking place in Gothenburg June 1 to 4. A total of 141,896 men with a mean age of 52 years were recruited for the study across eight different European countries, including Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Greece, Germany, Sweden, and Denmark.


news.yahoo.com | 6/3/16
Representatives of Germany's 50,000-strong Armenian community have welcomed Thursday's Bundestag resolution. But they say relations with German Turks are still strained - and schools could help.
www.dw.com | 6/2/16
Apple today launched its annual Back to School promotion in the U.S. and Canada, offering a free pair of Beats Solo2 Wireless Headphones to qualifying students, parents of students, educators, and select others that purchase an eligible Mac with education pricing, including the iMac , MacBook, MacBook Pro , MacBook Air , and Mac Pro . As usual, the Mac mini and refurbished Macs are excluded from the deal.


Apple is also offering a free pair of Powerbeats2 Wireless Headphones with the purchase of an eligible iPhone or iPad Pro with education pricing, including the iPhone 6 , iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s , iPhone 6s Plus, and both the 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro. Those who purchase a qualifying iPhone or iPad Pro can also upgrade to the Beats Solo2 Wireless Headphones for $100, or $110 in Canadian dollars.

Apple will apply an instant credit in the amount of $299.95 in the U.S., or $329.95 in Canadian dollars, to cover the full cost of the Beats Solo2 Wireless Headphones in Black, Blue, Red, White, Gold, Rose Gold, Silver, Space Gray, Blue Active, Red Active, or Yellow Active. Apple will similarly apply an instant credit of $199.95, or $219.95 in Canadian dollars, for the Powerbeats2 Wireless Headphones in Red, Black, Black Sport, White Sport, Red Active, Yellow Active, or Blue Active.

Apple has outlined the full eligibility requirements for the program in its terms and conditions for the U.S. [PDF ] and Canada [PDF ] on its website.

Apple's Back to School promotion runs from today through September 5, 2016 at Apple retail and campus stores in the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Canada. The deal is also available on Apple's online store or by calling 1-800-MY-APPLE. Apple has not yet officially announced the promotion in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Denmark, or other European countries where it is typically offered.

Four bodies were found floating in homes in France and Germany on Wednesday in flash floods that left people stranded on rooftops, cut roads and forced schools to close their doors. French weather forecasters warned of more to come on Thursday.

Four bodies were found floating in homes in France and Germany Wednesday in flash floods that also left water lapping at the doors of one of the Loire Valley's most famous chateaux. Heavy rains lashing parts of France, Germany and Austria cut roads, stranded people on rooftops and forced schools to close their doors. Three people who had been trapped in a house at Simbach am Inn in southern Germany were found dead, local authorities said, while the body of an 86-year-old woman was found in her flooded house in Souppes-sur-Loing in central France.


news.yahoo.com | 6/1/16
Torrential rain has hit Germany, France and Austria leaving hundreds of pupils stranded in their schools and families have been forced to scramble to their rooftops to escape the rising deluge.

The head of the Protestant Church in Germany has called for Islam to be taught in state schools across the country as a way to make young Muslims impervious to the "temptation of fundamentalists."


Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm told the Heilbronner Stimme newspaper that teaching Islam in schools nationwide would give Muslim pupils a chance to take a critical approach to their own religion.



Seven of Germany's 16 federal states offer some form of Islamic religion classes in their schools, similar to the Catholic and Protestant religion classes they have traditionally had. Germany has about four million Muslims, about five percent of the total population.


Attitudes towards Islam have hardened following militant attacks in Europe and the arrival of more than a million migrants last year, most of the Muslims.


The influx has fueled the rise of anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany (AfD), which maintains that Islam violates the constitution and wants a ban on minarets and face veils. Almost two-thirds of Germans think Islam has no place in their country, according to a survey published this month.



In addition, hundreds of Germans have left the country to join the radical Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq since 2012, according to the interior ministry.


Bedford-Strohm said all faiths in Germany must be compatible with the country's democratic constitution. "Tolerance, religious freedom and freedom of conscience must apply to all religions," he said in the interview published on Friday.


He said Islamic associations in Germany should be responsible for these courses and hoped they would organise themselves to be a "clear partner" for the German state.


Rivalries and disputes among Islamic associations have complicated efforts to manage religious instruction for Muslims in some areas and strained relations with some universities that train teachers for existing Islam classes.

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Austria's Freedom Party candidate Norbert Hofer lost his country's presidential elections by just a few thousand votes last week, narrowly missing out on becoming the European Union's first-ever far-right head of state. 


Despite Hofer's defeat, the rattled Austrian government announced a day after the election results that it would make its asylum policy stricter and closer in line with the anti-immigration Freedom Party's platform. Observers said the ruling coalition made the move because support for Hofer forced it to appease some of the Freedom Party's demands, in an attempt to turn voters away from the radical right.


Austria's effort to mollify the rising right-wing populism within its borders reflects similar situations in other European countries. While failing to actually win elections, far-right parties have long succeeded in guiding the political discourse and bringing previously extreme ideologies into the mainstream. 


“The real political danger from far-right parties in Europe is not that they will come to power, because that’s only now beginning to seem possible, but that they will dominate the agenda,” Martin Schain, a New York University professor whose work focuses on European politics, told The WorldPost.



Europe's Far-Right Reframes The Debate

Far-right populist parties in Europe are not a monolith, and contain diversity in their policies as well as their backgrounds. Britain's UKIP, for example, is far more moderate than Greece's violent and neo-fascist Golden Dawn. There are a number of aspects that right-wing populist parties in Europe have in common, however, including the ability to undercut traditional right- and left-wing parties and reframe the political debate.


Playing on ethno-nationalist sentiment, and using the refugee crisis to capitalize on fears over Islamism, national security and loss of government benefits, many of these long-established parties have risen in the polls in countries across Europe last year. Casting themselves as defenders of the nation against immigration -- as well as opposing trade policies and the EU -- has been a successful strategy.


Schain and other experts say establishment parties often try to quell far-right movements in places where they're growing by adopting some of their policies.


In Denmark, the success of the far-right Danish People's Party and the need for the ruling Liberal Party to rely on conservative support in parliament contributed to the country passing harsh new immigration laws in January. France's Socialist government, too, proposed legislation that same month to strip citizenship of dual citizens convicted of terrorism -- an idea that originally came from the country's far-right. While these bills didn't arise solely as a result of the far-right's presence, terror attacks and the refugee crisis have given radical parties an opportunity to push them into the mainstream.


In Hungary, the already nationalist and conservative Fidesz party has been pushed even further to the extreme as a result of rising support for the ultranationalist, anti-refugee Jobbik party. Jobbik, the largest opposition party, has previously called for Jewish citizens to be put on registration lists. Observers contend that fending off Jobbik is one of the reasons that Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban has taken such an aggressive anti-refugee and anti-EU stance in recent years.





Austria And The Far-Right

Like many of Europe's far-right parties, the Freedom Party has been an active part of its country's politics for decades, and has dictated Austria's political discourse during the peaks of its popular support. Former Nazi SS officers founded the party around 60 years ago, but it wasn't until the 1990s under charismatic leader Jorg Haider that it became a mainstream political contender.


One of the reasons behind the Freedom Party's breakthrough was an influx of migrants and refugees, who were then leaving eastern bloc countries after the fall of the Soviet Union. Experts say the Freedom Party used similar rhetoric to describe European migrants during the 1990s as it now uses against refugees from the Middle East and Africa.


The Freedom Party used “the fear of young men, the fear of losing jobs, the fear of being ‘overwhelmed’ by masses of foreigners and metaphors -- much like we see now -- of invasion, tsunami and floods," Professor Ruth Wodak, an author on right-wing populism, told The WorldPost.


The party positioned itself early on as a defender of national identity, releasing a popular "Austria First" petition in 1992 that stated "Austria is not an immigration country." The government's response to the Freedom Party's rise, Wodak explains, was to eventually cater to the far-right and implement a number of measures that included restrictive citizenship laws and obligatory German language classes for work permits. 



The Austrian far-right's latest spike in popularity again comes during a migration crisis, as well as at a time when Europe's anti-EU sentiment is high. While the government initially pursued an open-door policy for Syrian refugees similar to Germany's, it later reversed its decision and closed Austria's borders amid mounting public discontent. This switch in border policy bolstered the Freedom Party's support, observers say, making traditional parties appear to be political opportunists and the far right look like it had been correct to have opposed refugees.


Even though support for the Freedom Party fell just short of getting Hofer elected to the largely ceremonial position of president, his candidacy has undercut the two centrist parties and furthered anti-refugee, anti-EU sentiment in Austria. 

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Paris, 13 April 2016 — On 23 March, the European Commission launched a consultation on the role of publishers in the copyright value chain and on the 'panorama exception'. While this consultation reflects the will of the Commission to tackle possible exemptions to copyright, it is far less progressive than the recommendations made by the European Parliament through the Reda report. Even worse, the questionnaire is directed towards creating a new kind of "editor's right", at the expense of authors and users, a path that the Parliament rejected at the time.

The consultation first considers the opportunity to create a new neighbouring right for editors. Then it asks about the possibility to modify certain aspects of the existing copyright exemption for the freedom of panorama, already present in the 2009 Directive.

Previous experience of creating a neighbouring right for editors, tried out in several European countries 1, show that it is an ineffective means to protect the rights of content creators:

  • On the contrary, a new related right would tilt the balance even more in favour of editors, making it even harder for authors to exercise their rights;
  • Adding a new related right would be reflected either in the final sale price at the expense of consumers, or in a decrease on the royalties paid to authors;
  • The implications for education and research uses will be negative;
  • The creation of a related right on press content is likely to limit the development of smaller actors (news aggregators, search engines, monitoring services), for the benefit of existing dominant services such as Google News;
  • Introducing new related rights to benefit editors could help to erode the use of hyperlinks or quotations, which actually are the "building blocks" of the functioning of the Internet.

By committing to create a related right for editors, the European Commission could very well further weaken the position of authors and make the already lopsided system even more unequal. As such, this new right would hinder the freedom of access to information or freedom of expression.

The exception of panorama considered in the second part of the consultation would be an exception to copyright that for example allows for everyone to take pictures of buildings that are under copyright, whether for commercial purposes or not. Rejecting this exception implies that everyone needs to know whether the photographed buildings are still under copyright or not, which is a complex requirement for most buildings. The Commission's consultation tends to point towards limiting this exception to non-commercial purposes, which would be a step backwards from current national legislations in many EU member states, that do include commercial purposes in the exception of panorama. However, freedom of panorama can only be fully functional if commercial purposes are included, because considering current digital practices, the division between commercial and non-commercial is often not crystal clear. In order to ensure that images may be shared under a free licence, it also essential to include commercial purposes.

Establishing a EU-wide exception of panorama including commercial purposes would be a major step towards improving legal security and the reappropriation of public space. This issue has actually already been discussed in the French Senate in relation to the Digital Law, although some of the suggested restrictions make us fear that even if the exception of panorama is included, it will remain mainly useless except for some very specific cases.

La Quadrature du Net publishes its answers to the consultation and encourages as many people as possible to also answer before June 15, 2016.

BERLIN: The head of the Protestant Church in Germany has called for Islam to be taught in state schools across the country as a way to make young Muslims impervious to the "temptation of fundamentalists". Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm told the Heilbronner Stimme newspaper that teaching Islam in schools nationwide would give Muslim pupils a chance to take a critical approach to their own religion.

www.topix.com | 5/28/16

Not a lot of people know this, but the North Sea is one of the most beautiful places in the world to make a dive. On a perfect day, the visibility is endless, the water is a beautiful blueish green and – if the tide is calculated right – there is almost no current.

On the seabed, you can find hundreds of old wrecks. Some heavily damaged, some still looking like a ship. They are almost magical time capsules. They are little paradises, full of life. Without exception the wrecks are heavily overgrown with anemones: brilliant white and soft orange colours. You see schools of fish swimming between throughout the wrecks. in nooks and crannies you find the homes of hundreds of big North Sea crabs. Sometimes you see impressive lobsters as well. And if you look closer, you’ll see all sorts of colourful little animals: nudibranchs for example, or fragile looking tube worms.

I have been diving since 2001, after I took a course during a holiday in Malawi. After I got my first diving c-card I made some dives in tropical waters. But it didn’t take long to learn to appreciate the wonderful cold waters of Northern Europe. My first North Sea dive was in 2002 and from that moment I was hooked.

Unfortunately, since those early dives I have seen a big change. The schools of cod disappeared from the wrecks. We started to find more and more lost fishing gear. And sometimes, when you arrived at a wreck, it was like entering a graveyard. There would be big lengths of lost gillnets, draped over the body of the sunken ship. In them, the last cod that can be found in this area. Dead, rotting… Of course this would attract other animals. Scavengers, like the North Sea Crabs. They also get stuck, and die very slowly.

In 2009, with a group of volunteer divers, we started to clean up this mess. Removing the nets and fishing lines, so no more animals could get stuck. But also documenting - taking pictures -so that everybody could see the problem, and maybe even more importantly, show them the beauty of our cold waters. If nobody knows how special the North Sea really is, there will be no change, and this fragile nature won't get the protection it needs. When in 2012 the Ghost Fishing Foundation was founded, I joined immediately.

And here we are today, onboard the Arctic Sunrise, one of the famous Greenpeace ships. Greenpeace Germany is targeting the big pile of lost and abandoned ghost nets on Sylter Aussenriff, a beautiful area of the North Sea that desperately needs the protection it deserves. This is a protected area, but in reality the protection is only on paper. The Greenpeace campaign team asked the Ghost Fishing Foundation to help. Of course we said ‘Yes!’

We are here with nine volunteers divers. The conditions are almost perfect, except for the visibility. At the moment, blooming algae are a bit of a problem, but hopefully they will disappear soon. It is sunny, no wind, the sea is as flat as a mirror. Twice a day we jump out of the pilot door, into the water (eight degrees at the moment). Today we were hunting ghost nets on an unknown steel wreck at a depth of 23 meters. It's old - it has a steam engine. And yes, there are ghost nets. As a matter of fact, we have hit the jackpot. There is a big lost trawlnet hooked on the sharp steel parts of the wrecks. But also many gill nets. We have put lift bags on the big trawlnet and are carefully cutting it loose from the wreck. It is a special feeling when you see big parts of the net leaving the wreck and floating to the surface of the North Sea. Bye bye, good riddance.

Tomorrow we will go down again. The hunt for ghost nets is not over. If you are looking for them, you will find them on every wreck. The coming days, we would like to show you the problem. Hopefully, we can also show you the beauty of the North Sea and Sylter Aussenriff.

Annet van Aarsen, 47, from Leiden, the Netherlands is a volunteer diver onboard the Arctic Sunrise.

Researchers in Germany are developing an artificial nervous system that would teach robots to feel and react to pain, with the intent of helping them to avoid damage to their systems and warn their human co-workers, which could help prevent accidents. A team of researchers from Leibniz University in Hannover, Germany, described their research at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation last week in Stockholm, Sweden.

www.topix.com | 5/28/16

Peter Thiel has admitted to bankrolling anti-Gawker lawsuits in an attempt to shut down the website that once tried to out him as gay. But who is Thiel — and how did he make his billions?

For starters, Thiel is currently worth $2.7 billion, according to Forbes. He’s No. 10 on the 2016 Midas List of the world’s smartest tech investors and known as a Libertarian with outspoken political views.

The 48 year old also co-founded PayPal and was an early investor in Facebook, and then sold the majority of his 10 percent stake in the social media giant following its 2012 IPO, but remains on its board to this day.

Also Read: Gawker, Hulk Hogan and the One Percenters' War on News

Thiel co-founded and chairs Palantir, a CIA-backed data company, and also has significant investments in Airbnb and Stripe (an Irish tech company that allows both private individuals and businesses to accept payments over the Internet).

Born in Frankfurt am Main, West Germany, to German parents, Thiel moved to the U.S. when he was one year old and was raised in Foster City, California. He currently lives in San Francisco and is a well-known figure around Silicon Valley.

Thiel has a foundation that encourages young entrepreneurs to skip college, and even pays them to forgo higher education. Seriously. The Thiel Foundation awards $100,000 over two years to select Millennials to opt out of higher education and pursue their business dreams.

Although he encourages other people to choose their own unique route by passing over college, Thiel didn’t follow his own advice. He attended Stanford University, earning a Bachelor of Science and a Doctor of Jurisprudence, which means he studied the theory of philosophy of law.

Thiel initially got upset with Gawker when it ran a story headlined, “Peter Thiel is totally gay, people,” in 2007 before the billionaire came out publicly on his own.

Also Read: Nick Denton Is 'Impressed' by Peter Thiel's Strategy to Ruin Gawker

Here’s another fun fact: Thiel is reportedly the inspiration for the character named Peter Gregory on HBO’s “Silicon Valley,” who is an eccentric techie billionaire played by Christopher Evan Welch. HBO writers reportedly molded Gregory after Thiel, but he was written out of the show when Welch tragically died of complications from lung cancer.

The Thiel-based character made a lasting impression, famously ordering everything on the Burger King menu and then parlayed his curiosity into a fortune from an investment in sesame seed futures. The real Thiel didn’t profit off sesame seeds, but he is known to be equally as eccentric as his HBO counterpart.

The New Yorker ran a lengthy profile of Thiel back in 2005, mentioning everything from his Mercedes SL500 to a $27 million oceanfront property he owns in Maui.

This week, Thiel went from being identified as an eccentric Silicon Valley billionaire to the center of an on-going theme of the ultra wealthy using their cash to control how they are covered in the media.

Also Read: Writers Guild Demands That Anti-Gawker Lawsuit Funder Peter Thiel Reveals Additional Secrets

The Writers Guild of America, East has publicly asked Thiel to reveal what other lawsuits he’s secretly funding after he admitted his attempt to take down Gawker by funding lawsuits against the media empire, including Hulk Hogan‘s suit that resulted in a massive $140 million payout.

“Peter Thiel has all but confessed that his primary objective is Gawker’s demise. Plutocrats already have outsized power in this country, and we cannot allow them to use their vast fortunes to silence media companies,” WGAE said in a statement.

“It’s less about revenge and more about specific deterrence,” Thiel said in an interview with The New York Times the day after he was identified.

Also Read: Gawker Responds to Sale Report: 'Everyone Take a Breath'

Gawker founder and CEO Nick Denton challenged Thiel to an “open and public debate” about journalism’s role in society in his open letter on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the New York Post reported that Denton has begun soliciting bids for the company because the Thiel-funded trial is leaving him strapped for cash.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Nick Denton Is 'Impressed' by Peter Thiel's Strategy to Ruin Gawker

Writers Guild Demands That Anti-Gawker Lawsuit Funder Peter Thiel Reveals Additional Secrets

Gawker, Hulk Hogan and the One Percenters' War on News

www.thewrap.com | 5/27/16
State-sponsored lessons in Islam could protect young Muslims from radical ideologies, the Evangelical Church's head bishop has said. The pontiff has called for all schools in Germany to teach the religion.
www.dw.com | 5/27/16
State-sponsored lessons in Islam could protect young Muslims from radical ideologies, the Evangelical Church's head bishop has said. The pontiff has called for all schools in Germany to teach the religion.
www.dw.com | 5/27/16
The murder of a Chinese university student has shocked locals in the eastern German town of Dessau. Amid reports of growing xenophobia, DW's Kate Brady headed east to talk to the region's Chinese population.
www.dw.com | 5/27/16

E band transmitters with parabolic antenna. The installed integrated circuits achieve particularly high performance.
Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics / © Photo: Jörg Eisenbeis, KITWith a data rate of 6 Gigabit per second over a distance of 37 kilometers, a collaborative project in Germany including researchers from the University of Stuttgart and the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF, has exceeded "the state of the art by a factor of 10" — equivalent to transmitting the contents of a conventional DVD in under ten seconds.

"The extremely high data rates of 6 Gbit/s was achieved by the group through efficient transmitters and receivers at a radio frequency of 71 — 76 GHz in the so-called E band, regulated for terrestrial and satellite broadcasting. Only in this frequency range of millimeter waves are the required high effective bandwidths available. Only here can the enormous data rates be realized. A further difficulty is the weake­ning of the signals over larger dis­tances."

www.circleid.com | 5/24/16
Tofu schnitzel, tofu bratwurst, tofu kebab. It all exists in Germany and is easier and easier to come by. Popular as vegetarian options may be, a German court has ruled that veganism is too risky as a school meal option.
www.dw.com | 5/19/16



The International Monetary Fund is asking Europe to approve an ambitious debt relief plan for Greece, its most substantial move yet to ease the terms of loans that are widely viewed as untenable.


The IMF’s proposal, the details of which the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, marks the beginning of an intense negotiation process aimed at avoiding a replay of last summer’s crisis when Greece, brought to the brink of economic collapse, was nearly forced out of the eurozone.




Greece faces a major debt repayment deadline in July, which it may not be able to make, raising the possibility of another round of high-stakes brinksmanship.


Under the IMF's plan, the earliest loans issued by the eurozone nations wouldn't be due for repayment until 2040. The plan would also freeze the interest rate on those loans at 1.5 percent for 30 to 40 years, according to the Journal. 


The Journal characterized the proposal as an “opening bid,” given the certainty of German opposition to it in its current form.


The political leaders of Germany, the eurozone’s most powerful nation and Greece’s single largest sovereign lender, are deeply resistant to the idea of restructuring Greece’s debts. Not surprisingly, Germany's hardline finance minister Wolfgang Schaüble has already rejected the proposal out of hand.


The prospect of German taxpayers sustaining greater losses on loans to Greece is unpopular and raises the threat of political turmoil. The dominant center-right party of chancellor Angela Merkel is already confronting the resurgence of a hardline populist party sparked by the country’s welcoming policies toward refugees. 


The IMF, however, has consistently argued that Greece will never be able to repay its debts to eurozone nations and resume financial independence, let alone recover economically, if it does not receive more debt relief.


That difference of opinion was evident in the IMF’s projection of how Greece’s economy will perform in the coming years, which is much more pessimistic than that of the eurozone.


Germany has typically called the shots in negotiations related to Greece. But the IMF has one trump card: its very participation in the bailout program.


The IMF’s hand in the bailout was crucial to securing German political support for emergency loans to Greece to begin with, since the Fund is viewed as a stricter and more capable enforcer of fiscal reforms than the various European government bodies. If Germany does not compromise on debt relief, the Fund could withdraw from the arrangement altogether.


Whether the IMF is willing to call Germany’s bluff, however, is an open question.


“If they are really credible and sincere … then yeah, they’ll have to walk away," said Mark Blyth, a political scientist and IMF watcher at Brown University. "But given that the IMF is the writer of its own rules,” that's far from guaranteed, he said.


That the current talks center on a tactical showdown between the IMF and Germany speaks to the degree to which Greece has lost a say in the decisions that will shape its future.


Greece’s economy has shrunk by some 25 percent since 2008 in the wake of a financial crisis and a fiscal austerity regime implemented at the behest of its lenders in 2010. The resulting economic pain endured by Greece’s citizens and their elected officials' inability to do anything about it has pushed the country into a seemingly endless series of political crises.


The current Greek government, led by Syriza, a party once viewed as radically left-wing, capitulated to creditors’ new austerity demands last July after the European Central Bank shut off aid to Greece's troubled banks, effectively bringing the country’s economy to its knees.


Syriza was re-elected in September on the promise of distributing creditor-imposed austerity more equitably, but the Greek government has struggled to fend off cuts to a scaled-down pension program that plays an increasingly vital role as a source of income. Now the Greek parliament is set to vote on Sunday on a new package of tax hikes and pension cuts.


Meanwhile, new polling shows Syriza now trails its center-right rival in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city.


Blyth likened the talks between the IMF, Germany and Greece to a lopsided card game in which Greece has by far the weakest hand. 


“You’ve got three guys playing poker. One of them has aces and kings, one in principle has a flush and one has two pair,” he said. “You shouldn’t even have to guess who has two pair.”

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


A top Israeli general’s comments earlier this month that appeared to compare the Israeli political climate to that of Nazi Germany continue to spark controversial debate in the small Middle Eastern nation.


The uproar over the military leader’s remarks is about more than an isolated case of tactless speech, however. The incident reflects Israeli military leaders’ increasing willingness to speak out against an uptick in xenophobia and illiberalism that Israeli progressives worry threatens Israel's democracy -- and could, in turn, undermine the country's critical bond with the United States.


The controversy began with a speech that Israel’s second-highest military official, Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Yair Golan, gave on the eve of the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day, which fell on May 5 this year. (The day of commemoration and mourning observed by Jews around the world has a set date on the Hebrew calendar that varies on the secular calendar from year to year.)


“It's scary to see horrifying developments that took place in Europe begin to unfold here,” Golan said, according to The Jerusalem Post.


“The Holocaust should bring us to ponder our public lives and, furthermore, it must lead anyone who is capable of taking public responsibility to do so,” Golan went on. “Because if there is one thing that is scary in remembering the Holocaust, it is noticing horrific processes which developed in Europe -- particularly in Germany -- 70, 80, and 90 years ago, and finding remnants of that here among us in the year 2016.”


The general said the obligation for introspection extended to the military. He invoked the case of Sgt. Elor Azaria, an Israeli soldier who was captured on video in March shooting a wounded and apparently disarmed Palestinian assailant. Although Azaria is set to face a military tribunal for manslaughter, his arrest prompted protest in Israel from people who believe his actions were justified.


Golan concluded by calling on the country to use Holocaust Remembrance Day as an opportunity to “uproot the first signs of intolerance” of foreigners.


The comments immediately drew withering criticism from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and several cabinet ministers for likening Israeli society to Nazi Germany in any way.


“They do injustice to Israeli society and cause a belittling of the Holocaust,” Netanyahu said.


By contrast, the center-left Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog praised Golan, saying “this is what morality and responsibility sound like.”


Golan clarified his initial comments the following day.


“It is an absurd and baseless comparison and I had no intention whatsoever to draw any sort of parallel or to criticize the national leadership,” Golan said in a statement.



I don’t think there is any propaganda phrase that has done more damage to the state of Israel.
Jeffrey Herf, University of Maryland


Jeffrey Herf, a historian at the University of Maryland, has studied anti-Zionist movements’ attempts to depict Israel as Nazis, particularly on the radical left. Golan’s remarks struck a raw nerve because of the sordid history of analogizing the Jewish state to history’s most infamous perpetrators of genocide, according to Herf.


“I don’t think there is any propaganda phrase that has done more damage to the state of Israel,” Herf said. “Netanyahu knows all that -- he grew up with it. For a general, it was a stupid thing to say.”


But Golan’s inflammatory framing may be less significant than the fact that he chose to admonish his fellow citizens so passionately on one of the country’s most solemn holidays. He is part of a growing trend of Israeli military leaders leveraging the considerable prestige they enjoy in Israeli society to condemn what they see as the reactionary excesses of the Israeli public and political class.


Dan Arbell, a former senior Israeli diplomat and a scholar-in-residence at American University’s center for Israeli studies, called Golan’s speech part of “a battle for the soul of Israeli society.”


It is a fight, he said, between “those who support settlements, continued occupation, a continued tough approach on Palestinian issue, very strong nationalism, and the other camp, which is for the two-state solution." That second camp is "more willing to make compromises, for a less nationalistic approach, for international values and acceptance of others, rather than stark Jewish dominance.”


The military has not become more liberal, according to Arbell -- its leaders have just become more vocal about their views in response to Israel’s rightward drift. 



The Army is joining, or adding to the Supreme Court in playing this role of protector of Israel’s vibrant democracy.
Dan Arbell, former Israeli diplomat


After all, in a country where almost all citizens must serve in the military, top generals have a stake in the political climate. They hope to avoid a situation in which they can no longer control their troops, Arbell ventured.


Although the Israeli military is often the target of international criticism for its practices in wars against Palestinian militants as well as its day-to-day operations in the occupied West Bank and blockaded Gaza strip, Arbell said it now functions as a de facto check on the country’s worst impulses.


“The Army is joining, or adding to the Supreme Court, in playing this role of protector of Israel’s vibrant democracy,” he said.


Since October, Palestinians have killed 30 Israelis and two Americans in a wave of stabbings and other crude attacks that were initially prompted by a belief that Israel was asserting sole control over the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem. Israeli security forces have killed over 200 Palestinians over that period, either during alleged assaults or in other clashes.


The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem has called Israel’s approach to the alleged Palestinian attackers, many of them minors, “trigger happy,” arguing that the knife-wielding individuals can often be neutralized without shooting them to death.  


Perhaps more surprisingly, Israel’s senior-most military figure, chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, drew right-wing condemnation after a February speech to high schoolers in which he emphasized the importance of avoiding shooting Palestinian assailants whenever possible.


And Israel’s chief of military intelligence, Maj. General Herzl Halevi, told Israel’s governing cabinet in March that the Palestinian youth trying to harm Israelis are motivated, at least in part, by despair over their poor prospects in life. The assertion contradicted Netanyahu's position that incitement in Palestinian media, and its tolerance by Palestinian leaders, are the sole drivers of the attacks. A cabinet minister reportedly criticized Halevi during the meeting for not emphasizing incitement enough.


The incidents suggest that Israel’s democratically elected political leaders -- and the voters who elect them -- have moved so far to the right that even military leaders, who have historically enjoyed revered status, are not immune to the scorn once reserved for the country's activist left wing.


“It is one thing when people ignore B’Tselem, it is another thing when you have IDF generals being dismissed as bleeding heart liberals,” said Dov Waxman, a specialist in Israeli politics at Boston’s Northeastern University and author of Trouble in the Tribe: The American Jewish Conflict over Israel.



The belief in the shared values of democracy has been the glue that has held the Israeli-U.S. relationship together.
Dov Waxman, Northeastern University


At times, however, the military leaders have prevailed over the more hardline political leaders. The objections of Israeli security officials reportedly played a role in the Israeli government’s decision to reverse a new policy of refusing to return the bodies of Palestinian assailants killed during attacks.


In addition, Netanyahu likely decided against a potential military strike on Iran due to the the vocal opposition -- and active resistance -- of top Israeli military and intelligence leaders, including then-Mossad chief Meir Dagan.


Israeli chief of staff Eisenkot has also undercut Netanyahu’s apocalyptic warnings about the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran. Eisenkot said in January that the accord contained “many risks but also opportunities.”


Looming in the background of all these events is the effect of the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian territories on the country’s democratic character. Jewish critics of the occupation have argued virtually since 1967, when Israel captured the territories in the Six-Day War, that ruling over an entire group of non-Jewish people without granting them citizenship would corrupt Israel from within.


Those warnings have grown increasingly dire in recent years as the growth of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and historically Palestinian areas of Jerusalem have made it harder to imagine a two-state solution or other separation-based remedy to the conflict.


Whether Israeli military leaders succeed in preserving some of Israel’s liberal norms may ultimately matter less for Israel’s future than whether the country is able to provide political rights to the roughly 3.5 million Palestinians who live under its effective rule.


That is especially true since Israel relies so heavily on the financial and diplomatic backing of the United States.


“The belief in the shared values of democracy has been the glue that has held the Israeli-U.S. relationship together,” Waxman said.


Polls show that while Israel continues to enjoy the support of Americans, the rate of sympathy declines the younger Americans are.


“If Israeli society is becoming increasingly illiberal, then that can jeopardize the relationship between the United States,” he concluded. “And that includes American Jews.”

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Name: Michael-Robert Buechsner Title: Vice president and general manager for occupant safety systems Company: ZF TRW Automotive Location: Alfdorf, Germany Age: 41 Family: Partner, Christine; son, David, 18; daughters, Nadine, 16, Isabell, 11 Born: Salzburg, Austria Nationality: Austrian Languages: German, English, Spanish Education: MBA, SGMI Management Institut, St. Gallen, Switzerland; doctorate in mechanical engineering and economics, Technical University Graz, Graz, Austria; master's degree in chemical engineering, Technical University Graz My first job in the automotive industry was in technical services at TRW in Salzburg, Austria, when I was a student.

www.topix.com | 5/17/16

Zanzu, the website launched by the Flemish Expertise Centre for Sexual Health and the German Federal Centre for Health Education. A website launched by the German government earlier this year aims to show refugees and other foreign visitors the right ways and the wrong ways to have sex -- but critics now warn it could do much more harm than good.

www.topix.com | 5/16/16

BERLIN The German government is rushing to integrate hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers, offering them language classes and the prospect of work. But in a country known for its matter-of-fact acceptance of public nudity and creative forms of lovemaking, it is also trying to teach the mostly-Muslim migrants about the joy of sex.

www.topix.com | 5/14/16

The responsibility for the German education system lies primarily with the states (Bundesländer) while the federal government plays only a minor role. Optional Kindergarten education is provided for all children between three and six years of age, after which school attendance is compulsory, in most cases for 11 to 12 years. The system varies throughout Germany because each state (Land) decides its own educational policies. Most children, however, first attend Grundschule from the age of six to ten or 12. German secondary education includes five types of school. The Gymnasium is designed to prepare pupils for university education and finishes with the final examination Abitur, after grade 12 or 13. The Realschule has a broader range of emphasis for intermediate pupils and finishes with the final examination Mittlere Reife, after grade 10; the Hauptschule prepares pupils for vocational education and finishes with the final examination Hauptschulabschluss, after grade 9 or 10 and the Realschulabschluss after grade 10. There are two types of grade 10: one is the higher level called type 10b and the lower level is called type 10a; only the higher level type 10b can lead to the Realschule and this finishes with the final examination Mittlere Reife after grade 10b. This new path of achieving the Realschulabschluss at a vocationally-oriented secondary school was changed by the statutory school regulations in 1981 - with a one-year qualifying period. During the one-year qualifying period of the change to the new regulations, pupils could continue with class 10 to fulfil the statutory period of education. After 1982, the new path was compulsory, as explained above. Other than this, there is the Gesamtschule, which combines the approaches. There are also Förderschulen/Sonderschulen. One in 21 pupils attends a Förderschule. Nevertheless the Förderschulen/Sonderschulen can also lead, in special circumstances, to a Hauptschulabschluss of both type 10a or type 10b, the latter of which is the Realschulabschluss. German children only attend school in the morning. There is no provision for serving lunch. There is a lot more homework, heavy emphasis on the "three R's" and very few extracurricular activities. A very low-cost or free higher education could lie beyond a German Abitur. Many of Germany's hundred or so institutions charge little or no tuition. But, students must prove through examinations that they are qualified. In order to enter university, students are, as a rule, required to have passed the Abitur examination; since 2009, however, those with a Meisterbrief (master craftman's diploma) have also been able to apply. Those wishing to attend a "university of applied sciences" must, as a rule, have Abitur, Fachhochschulreife or a Meisterbrief. Lacking those qualifications, pupils are eligible to enter a university or university of applied sciences if they can present additional proof that they will be able to keep up with their fellow students A special system of apprenticeship called Duale Ausbildung allows pupils on vocational courses to do in-service training in a company as well as at a state school. Recent PISA student assessments demonstrated serious weaknesses in German pupils' performance. In the test of 43 countries in the year 2000, Germany ranked 21st in reading and 20th in both mathematics and the natural sciences, prompting calls for reform. In 2006, German schoolchildren improved their position compared to previous years, being ranked (statistically) significantly above average (rank 13) in science skills and statistically not significantly above or below average in mathematical skills (rank 20) and reading skills (rank 18). The PISA Examination also found big differences in achievement between students attending different types of German schools. According to Jan-Martin-Wiadra: Conservatives prized the success of the Gymnasium, for them the finest school form in the world – indeed, it is by far the number one in the PISA league table. But what they prefer to forget is that this success came at the cost of a catastrophe in the Hauptschulen. Some German teachers' representatives and a number of scientists disputed the PISA findings. Claiming among other things that the questions have been ill-translated, that the samples drawn in some countries were not representative, that Germans (most of whom had never done a multiple choice tests in their lives before) were discriminated against by the multiple choice questions, that the PISA-questions had no curricular validity and that the PISA was "in fact an IQ-test", which according to them showed that dysgenic fertility was taking place in Germany. A 2008 statistic from Nordrhein-Westfalen shows that 6.4 percent of all students did not earn even the Hauptschulabschluss, however not all of them were high school dropouts, as many of them were children with special needs, who received special school leaving certificates. Only 3.3 percent dropped out of school without earning any kind of diploma.


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