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Happy Birthday, Freedom! Print E-mail

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Let’s drink a toast, let’s have a party, let’s light 25 torches of freedom! 25 years ago on November 9, the Wall that imprisoned Berlin died, and freedom was reborn.
This is a birthday party in print. You’re invited!

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Trademark: brutal terror Print E-mail
A Syrian-Kurdish refugee who has fled Islamic State persecution prays on arriving safely in Turkey.
A Syrian-Kurdish refugee who has fled Islamic State persecution prays on arriving safely in Turkey.

The Islamic State terrorist militia now controls a territory as large as Britain. How did they get this far?

By Markus Bickel 

September 26, 2014

The self-styled caliphate’s “sovereign” area is huge. As of this summer, the territory that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s militants control starts at the Turkish border near Aleppo and ends 30 kilometers away from Iran. And the Islamic State’s (IS) thirst for expansion is nowhere near being quenched.

In mid-September, the terror militia attacked the Syrian-Kurdish town of Kobane and tens of thousands of refugees fled to the Turkish side of the border. In August, IS launched a campaign of ethnic cleansing in the Sinjar Mountains against the Yazidis – a Kurdish ethno-religious minority. Now it is directly targeting the Kurds.

Hunger for power and brutal terror are the trademarks of the IS terrorists. But that is an inadequate description of the goals of the al-Qaeda-successor organization in Iraq.

Not there yet Print E-mail

Despite isolated pockets of growth, living standards in the former East still lag behind the West

By Mark Schieritz 

September 26, 2014

Flourishing landscapes” – fast. That was Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s promise to East Germans following reunification. But initially, the exact opposite happened. Economic output in the “new federal states” – the politically correct term for the former East – diminished. Companies folded, towns and cities went into decline.

Twenty-five years after the Fall of the Wall, living standards in eastern Germany still fall short of those in the “old federal states” – the former West. GNP per capita in the five new eastern German states is around 70 percent of the western level. Even the highest-income eastern German district, Potsdam-Mittelmark, only ranks in the mid to lower part in a table of national averages, according to calculations by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) in Berlin. Still, progress has been significant – and that provides hope for the future.

Initial conditions were anything but ideal. At the time the Wall came down, East Germany was in economic ruin. Public infrastructure was ailing and businesses were incapable of keeping up with the competition in the West. The then-East German Prime Minister Lothar de Maizière later conceded that the state’s entire assets had been “obsolete and in disrepair.”

On horseback through Germany Print E-mail
A journey of discovery through Germany on horseback: from Bavaria, across the Lüneburger Heath to the North Sea coast.
A journey of discovery through Germany on horseback: from Bavaria, across the Lüneburger Heath to the North Sea coast.

Breathtaking, gorgeous, unparalleled – photographer Florian Wagner rode from the Alps to the North Sea and has been brimming with superlatives ever since

By Anne Hansen 

September 26, 2014

Florian Wagner is a veritable globe-trotter. The Munich-based photographer has visited the Eskimos in Greenland, and been to the furthest-flung corners of Mongolia, to the mountains of Tibet and the Kenyan steppe. But if anyone had ever asked him about the exact route of the Danube through Germany – Europe’s second largest river – he would have had to pass. “I actually only knew the Germany you could see from the autobahn,” he said.

Last year, Wagner decided this would have to change. He wanted to inspect Germany, in a decelerated manner – from the back of a horse. To explore his unfamiliar homeland using nothing but horsepower.

Wagner learned to ride as a result of a fatherly ruse. His dad hadn’t believed that his son would pass his high school graduation exams and encouraged him with an offer: If he passed his Abitur, he would buy him a flight to Australia. Wagner gratefully rose to the challenge and a short time later found himself on the other side of the world. By chance he stumbled upon a ranch looking to hire some cowboys to help out. Wagner, an adventurous type from birth, signed up. Straight in at the deep end, as a complete beginner. “But if you’re driving cattle from A to B for eight hours a day every day, you can do it after three weeks,” said Wagner. After his time as an Australian cowboy it was clear that he could no longer be re-socialized, he added, laughing. There was now no question of him taking an office job.

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