What a difference a language makes

I accidentally went on Spiegel Online’s English-version site yesterday after not having been for a long while, and was very surprised about the difference of tone from the mindlessness of the German site. The top items included

Egyptian elite Succumb to the hate virus which is more unambiguous than anything the sister site has produced as comment on the coup in Egypt so far:

Egyptian Amir Salim has the classic profile of a revolutionary. As a politically engaged young lawyer, he specialized in human rights cases, a focus which earned him nine trips to jail under Hosni Mubarak. When the revolt against the aging despot gained traction in 2011, Salim quickly became one of its spokesmen.

And what is Salim doing? Sitting in a popular café in the Cairo city center, he says things like this: “The Muslim Brothers are a sickness and the police have to eradicate them.” And: “The police and the army were only defending themselves.” He adds that “the problem will only have been solved when the last Muslim Brother who causes problems is locked away in prison.” When asked about the obvious human rights violations perpetrated on the dead and wounded, he said: “And what about the rights of those who live near the protest camps? What about their right to be able to enjoy their apartment?”

Daud says though that such views are not widespread. “The majority of Egyptians think the Brotherhood should be dealt with even more severely,” he says, adding that few have understanding for Mohammed ElBaradei, the opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate who resigned from the transition government as a result of the bloodbath on Wednesday. Since then, Egyptian liberals have been blasting him as a traitor.

and this is followed up with An Arab Nightmare: West Dithers Over Taking a Side in Egypt which is more critical of the role of the so-called western democracies:

When historical turning points present themselves, there’s no avoiding the need for decisive action. Now that the Egyptian armed forces — with the backing and the approval of a subservient civil government — has brutally clamped down on protests by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Western world is at a crossroads. It is irrelevant if the number of casualties is 500 or over 1,000, depending on which source is to be believed. The reaction to this week’s massacre in Cairo will be key to the reputations of the United States and Europe in Arab states and the Muslim world in general for years to come. Its credibility and influence are at stake.

Do we want to issue stern diplomatic warnings and return to dialogue with a strongman at the top of the Egyptian government with blood on his hands but the clout to bring a modicum of stability to the country and the region, and a foreign policy stance that dovetails with ours?

Or do we want to issue stern diplomatic warnings against pushing the Muslim Brotherhood underground, thereby turning them into martyrs, and instead call for them to be supported in their rights — even though the fundamentalist ideology of these bearded men is so alien to us and undoubtedly at least partly responsible for the current political turmoil?

“In the end, the West will back the winning side,” Emad Shahin, a professor of politics at the American University in Cairo, told the New York Times. “That is how dictators think, and to a certain extent it is true.”

“If it looks like the US effectively colluded in a counterrevolution, then all the talk about democracy and Islam, about a new American relationship with the Islamic world, will be judged to have been the height of hypocrisy,” Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst and counter-terrorism expert who now advises President Obama, told the New York Times.

Unfortunately, they are buying a bit more into established narratives when they write about Germany but running a piece called Social justice elusive in Germany despite campaign pledges is a start. They fall mainly into the trap of doing reporting without interpretation which includes

More Low Paying Jobs

Unemployment rose steadily in Germany until 2005, with each new downturn leaving behind a higher number of people without prospects. Then the trend was reversed, and even the numbers of the long-term unemployed shrank. But success has its price. The normal employer-employee relationship, with a secure and open-ended contract, was supplemented with the relentless principle behind the Hartz IV welfare reforms undertaken in the 1990s: Poorly paid work is better than no work at all.

The number of low-paying jobs has grown since then. They include part-time work, temp work and mini jobs. This has reduced unemployment. But the new, flexible jobs formed fewer bridges to traditional forms of employment than anticipated. Even today, the unemployment rate among poorly qualified workers is still close to 20 percent. Those affected are also confronted with anxiety and hardships.

Oliver Schneider is 32. He obtained the entrance qualification for a university of applied sciences and completed a training program as an automobile electrician at Daimler in Sindelfingen in southern Germany. Later on, he moved to a Peugeot repair shop. When one of the employees had to be let go after two years, Schneider was chosen. “I was the youngest and I didn’t have a family,” he says.

At the end of 2003, the employment office sent him to a temp agency. Since then, Schneider hasn’t managed to escape temporary work. When one temp agency let him go, the employment office send him to another one, or sometimes even back to the same agency that had just let him go.

“I’ve already had at least 30 different jobs in 45 companies,” says Schneider. During a recall campaign, he was working as a temp at Daimler again. He has worked as a mover and construction helper, in an office and in factories. “When I had been in a company for a longer period of time, I worked extra hard to be hired full-time,” says Schneider. The strategy never worked.

but unfortunately doesn’t them serve them well in making the connection with

About two-thirds of Germans believe that social conditions have become more inequitable in the last legislative period. At the same time, the share of Germans who view the tax system as unfair has increased sharply. Only 21 percent of those polled consider income distribution to be the most important problem. A majority of 57 percent believes that justice mainly signifies a balance of opportunities — which is something completely different.

The polls coincide with findings among academics. The gap between rich and poor has been widening since the 1980s. But since about 2005, income differentials have narrowed slightly, largely because of the booming labor market, concludes the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW).

In contrast, the barriers between social classes have grown. Between 1996 and 1999, close to 70 percent of people in West Germany managed to work their way up and out of the lowest income bracket. Between 2006 and 2009, however, only 52 percent — and only 45 percent in former East Germany — were able to make the same upward move. DIW researcher Markus Grabka notes a “tendency to remain in place,” and says: “Upward mobility from the lower edge of society to the center is flagging.”

Finally, there’s Merkel 3.0: Stasis you can believe in:

With federal elections taking place in September, a visitor to Berlin might expect the city to be a hotbed of controversy, with a lively campaign focused on the euro-crisis policies of incumbent Chancellor Angela Merkel and competing visions for the European Union of the 21st century.

That visitor would be disappointed. Even as Berlin is at the heart of a drama which still has the potential to tear the euro zone apart, the city is oddly detached. The euro is absent from the debate. Instead, the campaign ahead of the Sept. 22 general election has focused on US intelligence surveillance, the rising cost of energy, childcare facilities and Defense Ministry bumbling. And that is about it.

Since the euro crisis began, many governments across Europe have been swept from power. France last year saw a presidential campaign heavily focused on Europe, and calls for alternatives to austerity have grown ever louder. So why is it that Germany, the country key to solving the euro crisis, seems immune to this polarization of views on the future of economic and monetary union?

Partly it has to do with the Greens and the Social Democrats, two opposition parties struggling to differentiate their euro policies from Merkel’s government, a coalition of her conservatives and the business friendly Free Democrats (FDP). Both the Greens and the SPD have supported all major euro rescue measures thus far.

This is a very accurate description, especially when it comes to the failings of the so-called “center-left” opposition. Unfortunately, the cool-aid has been drunk when it comes to said opposition’s past endeavors:

One decade ago, that same Schröder-led government coalition pushed through a heavily contested welfare and labor-market reform package, called Agenda 2010, to modernize the German economy. The eventual success of this program helped the Merkel government guide Germany through the crisis.

The piece hints at the fact that the German government’s economic policies will worsen the Euro-crisis without becoming explicit what the negative effects actually are and also without connecting them to Schröder’s neo-liberal reforms. But yeah – that’s German press for you.

Still, positively surprised – maybe all the dissidents are demoted to the English-language site?

This entry was posted in democracy, developed countries, economic policy, election campaign, eurocrisis, geostrategy, media, neo-liberalism. Bookmark the permalink.

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