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Merkel says Grexit off the table, rules out debt write-off

German Chancellor Angela Merkel rejected the idea of a Greek debt haircut, saying it wouldn't work in a currency union. At the same time, she also ruled out forcing Greece to leave the eurozone. German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday dismissed the idea of writing off part of Greece's debt, but she said Berlin was open to a flexible repayment plan. In an interview with ARD television, she reaffirmed that "a classic haircut of 30, 40 percent of debt cannot happen in a currency union." But Merkel said she was open to discussing ways to lessen the burden on Athens and defended the existing deals with lenders that come with more favorable interest rates, time extensions and other relief. She insisted debt relief talks could only begin after details of Greece's latest bailout program are finalized. On Friday, German MPs voted overwhelmingly to back another financial rescue package, despite being branded senseless by many voters. Grexit off the table Talks are expected to last four weeks to reach an anticipated 85 billion euro ($93 billion) deal over three years, which will include economic targets and further public sector reforms. Asked about Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble's suggestion last week that Greece could take a five-year "timeout" from eurozone, Merkel said the idea of a "Grexit" was no longer on the table. On Friday, she told parliament that a temporary exit would lead to "predictable chaos." On Sunday, German Vice Chancellor and Economics Minister Sigmar Gabriel criticized Schäuble's remarks and defended Germany's handling of the crisis. "In my opinion, it was not wise to present this as a German suggestion," he said in a television interview with public broadcaster ZDF. But Gabriel added that it was unrealistic for Germany to take on so much risk without calling for Greece to implement structural changes.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel rejected the idea of a Greek debt haircut, saying it wouldn’t work in a currency union. At the same time, she also ruled out forcing Greece to leave the eurozone. German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday dismissed the idea of writing off part of Greece’s debt, but she said Berlin was open to a flexible repayment ... Read More »

Germany’s Celia Sasic retires at 27

After a brilliant 2015 World Cup campaign and seemingly with many years ahead of her, the news that Celia Sasic won't be playing any more football comes as a shock to the football world. I've decided to begin a new chapter in my life and call time on my professional football career," read Celia Sasic's statement on her Facebook page on Thursday afternoon, in news that has surprised many football fans. “I was allowed to play in the Women's Bundesliga for eleven years, experienced unforgettable moments with the Women's national team for ten and a half years and was part of an unbelievable development. That makes me proud," continued Sasic, who has nevertheless set her sights on new things: “Football has been a part of my entire life and will continue to be. I want to finish my studies, sort out my career path, start a family and a lot more.” Germany Women's head coach Silvia Neid was saddened to hear of Sasic's decision. "It's a real loss for us because Celia is major character who leaves big boots to fill. She was always a role model, on and off the pitch. We won important games because of her; she took on responsibility and completely fulfilled her role as a leading figure. From the bottom of my heart, I wish her all the best for the next step in her life.” Born in Bonn, Celia Sasic began her career in the Women's Bundesliga in 2005, playing the majority of her games for Bad Neuenahr before she joined up with FFC Frankfurt in 2013, where she won the Champions League last season. Sasic finishes her career having scored 138 goals in 176 Bundesliga games. In the January of the same year she began her Bundesliga career, Sasic also made her first appearance for Germany. Since then, Sasic has gone on to make 111 appearances, scoring 63 goals, as well as winning the 2009 and 2013 European Championships. The striker even collected the Golden Boot at the 2015 Women's World Cup and narrowly missed out on bronze after Germany lost to England in the third-place playoff game.

After a brilliant 2015 World Cup campaign and seemingly with many years ahead of her, the news that Celia Sasic won’t be playing any more football comes as a shock to the football world. I’ve decided to begin a new chapter in my life and call time on my professional football career,” read Celia Sasic’s statement on her Facebook page ... Read More »

Top German court restraints prosecutors on home searches

State prosecutors who initiated searches of homes without judicial consent have been censured by Germany's top court. It's ruled that crime-fighters cannot simply enter premises citing "imminent danger." The Federal Constitutional Court agreed with three complainants on Wednesday that searches of their homes were unlawful because prosecutors had gone ahead instead of waiting for judges to decide. Paragraph 13 or Germany's Basic Law or constitution says a person's home is inviolable. Authorities should only carry out a home search on judges' orders or within the tightly prescribed term "imminent danger," the court ruled. In the three cases, prosecutors went ahead after phoning judges, who delayed their decisions, however, to await the delivery of documents. One case involved suspected arson. Another centered on a murder threat. In its ruling, the court based in Karlsruhe said searching a home was a substantial breach of the constitution which guaranteed the right to be "left in peace." 'Danger' rule quickly void The investigators should have waited for the judges' decisions. Prosecutors could not simply decide to proceed, it said. The "imminent danger" justification became null and void as soon as prosecutors lodged an immediate search application, the court concluded. In a parallel case on Tuesday, the Constitutional Court began scrutinizing German law introduced in 2009 to counter terrorism. The law allows Germany's federal investigative police bureau, the Federal Criminal Office (BKA), to conduct online searches and monitor telecommunications to foil international terrorism. The complainants want better safeguards to protect lawyers, psychologists, doctors and journalists who have responsibilities toward clients, patients and informants.

State prosecutors who initiated searches of homes without judicial consent have been censured by Germany’s top court. It’s ruled that crime-fighters cannot simply enter premises citing “imminent danger.” The Federal Constitutional Court agreed with three complainants on Wednesday that searches of their homes were unlawful because prosecutors had gone ahead instead of waiting for judges to decide. Paragraph 13 or ... Read More »

Report: Evidence of 2011 US cyberattack on defense giant EADS in Germany

According to German newspaper "Bild am Sonntag," evidence linking an attack on European defense group EADS from American soil has surfaced. The news outlet claims it is the first of its kind. "Bild am Sonntag" said on Sunday that it inspected a "confidential letter" provided by Germany's foreign intelligence services - the BND - to the domestic intelligence agency - the Verfassungsschutz - outlining a "suspected" attack on European arms manufacturer European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) from American soil. "From a foreign intelligence service, the BND received information about a suspected data tap at EADS Germany," the letter is reported to have said. The German news outlet claimed that it was the first shred of evidence of a 2011 cyberattack on the French-German manufacturer, headquartered in Munich, since the onset of collaboration between the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the BND. "Bild am Sonntag" reported that on November 2, 2011, hackers planted a spy program on the computers of EADS, during which 5,116 "connections" were said to have been found between the company's computers and the US-based "aggressors." Germany's Protection of the Constitution committee informed EADS - now known as the Airbus Group - that their networks may have been compromised by the apparent attack, which had been initially traced to a server in Los Angeles. The German periodical added that EADS has been a target of US intelligence services "for years." However, the news outlet said it was still "unclear" who was behind the attack in 2011 and which foreign intelligence services warned the German spy agency. The report comes amid a backdrop of high-profile leaks published by whistle-blowing organization WikiLeaks, detailing collaborative efforts between the BND and NSA as well as the latter's surveillance of European officials, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and former French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

According to German newspaper “Bild am Sonntag,” evidence linking an attack on European defense group EADS from American soil has surfaced. The news outlet claims it is the first of its kind. “Bild am Sonntag” said on Sunday that it inspected a “confidential letter” provided by Germany’s foreign intelligence services – the BND – to the domestic intelligence agency – ... Read More »

Germany’s Steinmeier proposes EU border assistance for Tunisia

German FM Frank-Walter Steinmeier has proposed EU border assistance for Tunisia to curb militant movement, according to a media report. The proposal is said to be backed by the UK and France. According to the German "Süddeutsche Zeitung" newspaper, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has proposed to provide Tunisia with an EU border assistance mission. The proposal is said to strengthen the North African country's borders with Libya and Algeria - countries that have witnessed increased militant activity, including the presence of the "Islamic State" militant group. The initiative would bolster Tunisian border guards with training and equipment, expanding on a similar enterprise Germany undertook in 2012. The proposal - understood to be backed by Steinmeier's British and French counterparts - is expected to be on the table at the next EU foreign ministers meeting due to take place on July 20. Germany's move to bolster Tunisian borders with EU assistance follows attacks on a beach resort in the coastal city of Sousse as well as the Bardo National Museum, which combined left more than 55 dead, many of whom were European tourists. Imminent threat? The UK on Thursday urged more than 3,000 British nationals in Tunisia to leave the country immediately since local authorities could not provide "adequate protection" in case of an attack. "If you're in Tunisia and you don't have an essential need to remain, you should leave by commercial means," said British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond. However, Tunisian minister Kamel Jendoubi said his government regretted the UK's decision to repatriate British nationals since "there is no evidence suggesting the imminence" of an attack. "Since the [Sousse] attack, the security forces have carried out more than 700 operations resulting in the arrests of 127 suspected members of terrorist gangs," Jendoubi said. The government minister added that 3,000 security personnel were protecting sites frequented by foreigners, including beaches, hotels and archeological sites. "Today, more than 100,000 police, national guard and civil protection officers in addition to the army" have been deployed, Jendoubi noted. Tunisia's bolstering of security comes amid increased militant activity on its borders, most notably by the "Islamic State," which began operating in Libya earlier this year.

German FM Frank-Walter Steinmeier has proposed EU border assistance for Tunisia to curb militant movement, according to a media report. The proposal is said to be backed by the UK and France. According to the German “Süddeutsche Zeitung” newspaper, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has proposed to provide Tunisia with an EU border assistance mission. The proposal is said to ... Read More »

WikiLeaks says NSA spied on top German politicians ‘for decades’

Documents released by WikiLeaks appear to show the US spied on close aides of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other officials for years. The leaks show Merkel's private and professional opinions on a range of issues. The WikiLeaks report, released on Wednesday, suggests NSA spying on German officials went on far longer and more widely than previously thought. The website published a new list of German phone numbers it claims showed the NSA targeted the officials for surveillance. The list of 56 partially redacted phone numbers includes those belonging to staff of the former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder as well as his predecessor, Helmut Kohl. Also on the list were numbers attributed to former diplomat Geza Andreas von Geyr, who now works for the Ministry of Defense, and Ronald Pofalla, who was the former head of Angela Merkel's chancellery between 2009 and 2013. WikiLeaks also gave a cell phone number it claimed was used by the German leader up until 2013. The website published what it said were three intercepts by the US National Security Agency (NSA) of conversations involving Merkel. These included discussions such as "Chancellor Merkel's plans on how to respond to the international financial crisis and the eurozone bank bailout." An intercept from 2009 details Merkel's criticism that the US Federal Reserve was "taking risks" concerning the previous year's global financial crisis. Also disclosed were Merkel's private opinions on US President Barack Obama's involvement with Iran, from conversations she had with Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan. 'Explicitly targeted for long-term surveillance' These latest disclosures come barely a week after WikiLeaks posted documents from the 1990s revealing contact details of various officials in Germany's Finance Ministry, as well as staff in the Ministry of Agriculture, European policy advisers and an official working in the European Central Bank. The leaks display a special interest in Merkel's handling of the financial crisis in Greece, and her thoughts on the heads of key financial institutions. The secret-spilling site says both sets of reports illustrate that "the NSA explicitly targeted, for long-term surveillance, 125 phone numbers for top German officials, and did so for political and economic reasons." It claimed the lists were updated for more than a decade after 2002, and a "close study" of it reveals it evolved from a previous list in the 1990s. By publishing these communications, WikiLeaks is threatening the already fragile relationship between Germany and the United States, still struggling to recover from reports two years ago that Chancellor Merkel's own cell phone was tapped. It also led to allegations the German government turned a blind eye to, and even helped, the NSA spy on European businesses and officials. Last week the chancellery called in the US ambassador to Germany to ask for an explanation on the WikiLeaks disclosures.

Documents released by WikiLeaks appear to show the US spied on close aides of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other officials for years. The leaks show Merkel’s private and professional opinions on a range of issues. The WikiLeaks report, released on Wednesday, suggests NSA spying on German officials went on far longer and more widely than previously thought. The website ... Read More »

Germany hit by record-setting heat, severe thunderstorms

Germany's weather service has reported the highest temperature on record. At least 12 have drowned in mishaps as people sought to escape one of the worst heat waves to hit central Europe in years. The DWD German weather service reported on Sunday that it had recorded a temperature of 40.3 degrees Celcius (104.5 degrees Fahrenheit) in the Bavarian town of Kitzingen. This was the highest temperature measured in Germany since the widespread recording of temperatures began in 1881, just slightly above the previous record of 40.2 degrees. In a country in which rain and chilly temperatures are often the norm in summer months, many people struggled to endure the hottest weekend that Germany has experienced in years. This led many people to try to cool off in public swimming pools and natural bodies of water. This ended in tragedy for some, with the authorities reporting at least 12 swimming-related deaths over the weekend. In the southern state of Bavaria, a four-year-old child drowned in a man-made lake, while a six-year-old child was swept away by the current of the River Rhine in Cologne. In the western town of Siegen, a boy drowned in an outdoor pool. Other drowning were reported in the states of Baden-Württemberg, Hesse, Hamburg and Brandenburg. Several other people were still reported to be missing on Monday morning. The high temperatures also contributed to severe thunderstorms in many parts of Germany on Sunday, uprooting trees and blocking some major train lines and autobahns. Some homeowners were forced to contend with flooded cellars and at least two people were injured in lightning strikes. Germans, though, could look forward to more moderate conditions as they started their working week on Monday, with the DWD predicting a mix of sun and cloud with highs below 30 degrees for most of the country.

Germany’s weather service has reported the highest temperature on record. At least 12 have drowned in mishaps as people sought to escape one of the worst heat waves to hit central Europe in years. The DWD German weather service reported on Sunday that it had recorded a temperature of 40.3 degrees Celcius (104.5 degrees Fahrenheit) in the Bavarian town of ... Read More »

England beat Germany in bronze medal play off at Women’s World Cup

England's women beat Germany for the first time in 21 attempts in the third place playoff at the women's soccer World Cup. The match went to extra time before England secured the win with a penalty. Germany attacked from the start of the game with a Tabea Kemme cross causing England skipper Steph Houghton to clear off the line after 8 minutes. Celia Sasic had a shot on target saved by goalkeeper Karen Bardsley a minute later. With six goals Sasic won the Golden Boot of top scorers in the competition. Germany also nearly scored when a Bianca Schmidt header across goal was cleared by Houghton after Bardsley had failed to gather the ball. But then England started to get into the game and Ellen White headed over the bar after 26 minutes. Germany kept up the pressure and Sara Daebritz saw her shot blocked by defender Jo Potter just before halftime. After the break Germany had the best scoring chance on 53 minutes when Sasic crossed to Daebritz, though her volley was kept out by a diving Bardsley. The game went into extra time and Germany came close with a series of corners. A minute into the second period of extra time Kemme was judged to have pulled down substitute Lianne Sanderson. Fara Williams had scored a penalty in the Lionesses' loss to Japan in the semi finals. Williams stepped up again, sent keeper Nadine Angerer the wrong way, and converted. Former world goalkeeper of the year, Angerer was playing her final match for Germany. A Sophie Schmidt header and Anja Mittag freekick failed to find an equaliser for Germany in the final World Cup game for coach Siliva Neid. The world number one ranked team, Germany, winners in 2003 and 2007, lost 2-0 to the United States in their semi-final. Japan play the United States in Sunday's final in Vancouver in a rematch of the 2011 championship game.

England’s women beat Germany for the first time in 21 attempts in the third place playoff at the women’s soccer World Cup. The match went to extra time before England secured the win with a penalty. Germany attacked from the start of the game with a Tabea Kemme cross causing England skipper Steph Houghton to clear off the line after ... Read More »

German unemployment falls to historic low

The number of unemployed people in Germany fell for the ninth consecutive month in June, dropping to a level unseen since the country reunited about 25 years ago. Also, the number of job vacancies rose to new heights. The current acceleration of business activity in Europe's largest economy created 50,500 new jobs in June, driving down the German nominal unemployment rate from 6.3 percent in May to 6.2 percent in June, according to new figures published by the German Labor Agency (BA) on Tuesday. BA data for June showed that about 2.71 million Germans were looking for work - the lowest number since December 1991, about a year after German reunification. In terms adjusted for seasonal variations, however, the number of unemployed fell only by about 1,000 to 2.78 million - slightly fewer than expected by analysts. The German economy is expected to have picked up steam in the second quarter after a brief slowdown in the first three months of 2015. Noting that the growth outlook had "clouded over somewhat" for the second half of the year, the German labor office said the trend on the labor market "remains favorable" nonetheles. Vacancies rising Further proof that the German economy was gaining jobs in the past months was BA's jobs index released by the agency on Monday. The BA-X barometer for June climbed two points higher than in May, reaching 191 points. Any reading above 100 indicates there are more jobs than qualified job seekers. The Labor Office said the high number for June represented "current robust economic growth." Vacancies were especially high in the health and social services sectors, BA data show, where every tenth position was open. Another 8 percent of unfilled jobs were registered in wholesale and retail businesses. Also sought were economic analysts, business consultants, advertising executives and market researchers. Germany's BA-X index was established in 2004 and has been above 100 points ever since its creation, except for a five-month period in 2004.

The number of unemployed people in Germany fell for the ninth consecutive month in June, dropping to a level unseen since the country reunited about 25 years ago. Also, the number of job vacancies rose to new heights. The current acceleration of business activity in Europe’s largest economy created 50,500 new jobs in June, driving down the German nominal unemployment ... Read More »

UFO cancels planned Lufthansa strike

After progress in talks with Lufthansa executives, a planned strike by flight attendants has been postponed until mid-July at the earliest. At issue in the negotiations is the airline's pension scheme. Germany's flight attendants' union UFO announced Tuesday it was canceling a strike it had announced for Wednesday after progress in negotiations with Lufthansa, the country's largest carrier. Lufthansa had been facing a June 30 deadline to make concessions to cabin crew regarding pensions and pay or potentially deal with a strike during the busy summer holiday season. UFO official Nicoley Baublies said early on Tuesday that any potential strike will now be pushed back until at least the middle of July. "We must now see in the negotiations in the next weeks, whether it gets to the point where something can be signed that is really is a collective agreement that can permanently avert the strikes," Baublies told German news agency dpa. Lufthansa had been in the midst of difficult negotiations with staff groups over cost cutting measures designed to help it compete with Gulf airline rivals and low-cost carriers. Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr told journalists Monday he was optimistic a deal with the flight attendants' union could be reached. At issue in the negotiations is Lufthansa's pension program, which cost an estimated 3.7 billion euros ($4.1 billion) last year and which the airline says is unsustainable. Cabin crew are able to take early retirement beginning at the age of 55 due to the toll of frequent flying. Lufthansa wants its cabin crew to contribute a greater portion of their salary to their pension, a proposal UFO has resisted. UFO is holding out for higher pay and improved pensions and had threatened implementing a series of one-day strikes beginning on July 1 if Lufthansa did not make a better offer.

After progress in talks with Lufthansa executives, a planned strike by flight attendants has been postponed until mid-July at the earliest. At issue in the negotiations is the airline’s pension scheme. Germany’s flight attendants’ union UFO announced Tuesday it was canceling a strike it had announced for Wednesday after progress in negotiations with Lufthansa, the country’s largest carrier. Lufthansa had ... Read More »

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