Far-right AfD to launch own ‘newsroom’ in order to bypass German media’s ‘fake news’

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Far-right AfD to launch own ‘newsroom’ in order to bypass German media’s ‘fake news’
AfD leaders Alice Weidel and Alexander Gauland. Photo: DPA
The Association of German Journalists accused the Alternative for Germany (AfD) of opening their own propaganda wing, after Focus magazine reported on Thursday that the far-right party are to set up their own newsroom in Berlin.

AfD co-leader Alice Weidel described the initiative as “an innovative turning point in the Federal Republic of Germany.”

According to Weidel, the reason behind it is the party’s ambivalent relationship with the media.

“As long as the AfD is ignored by many media outlets or targeted and run down by fake news, this can be the only approach,” Weidel told Focus.

In addition to the set-up of a traditional press office, about 20 other employees are to be responsible for communications, Focus reported based on insider information. The operation of the ‘newsroom’ will moreover be similar to that of those run by journalistic editorial staff.

Emphasis will be placed on the sharing of AfD content on social media. Employees will work around the clock in shifts. Three of them will specialize in research and identify topics that Weidel says “are swept under the carpet that they can prepare in a journalistically wholesome way for the general public.” For this purpose, AfD parliamentary group quarters at the Jakob Kaiser House in Berlin – not far from the Reichstag – will also have their own TV studio.

But the decision was quickly dismissed as “propaganda” by a journalists’ association.

“We see this very critically,” a spokesperson from the German Federation of Journalists told The Local.

With this newsroom, the AfD “want to have their own form of truth,” the spokesperson added. “But this smells like propaganda.”

The federation moreover questions how the party will be able to finance the “really expensive” operation with 20 employees working around the clock.


Source :  The Local Germany

How I made friends during my first year in Germany

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How I made friends during my first year in Germany
It’s not a secret – making friends in Deutschland as a newcomer can be tough. Here’s how The Local’s Shelley Pascual managed to build up her social circles during her first year in Germany back in 2012.

Recent surveys have indicated that upon arriving in Germany, foreigners can experience loneliness as they find it hard to make friends, partly because Germans are perceived as unfriendly.

I lived in Braunschweig, Lower Saxony, in my first few years in Germany, where I found it wasn’t too terribly difficult to make friends. But this probably had to do with several factors – such as the cosy size of the city and the fact that I put a lot of time and effort into it.

As soon as I landed on German soil in early 2012, I was keen on having some sort of a social life and made it a priority to get to know people; I didn’t want my partner – whom I’d essentially moved to Germany for – to be my sole source of companionship.

At the time, everything was new and exciting and I had just begun to learn German. As I wanted to see whether I could teach myself the language in a freestyle fashion without taking lessons, I didn’t attend a German class and thus couldn’t make friends in this way.

I also didn’t live in a shared flat, or a Wohngemeinschaft (WG), which can also be a great way to establish friendships.

Still, this didn’t stop me from attempting to make friends with locals and I found alternative ways to do so. Looking back, my beginner level of German was actually an advantage during those early stages.

This is because – through Sprachentandem arrangements – I was able to get acquainted with Germans, some of whom would eventually become friends.

At the language centre at the local university, the Technical University of Braunschweig, I signed up as a native English speaker looking to meet someone whose native language was German.

Many other institutions across the country, such as Humboldt University in Berlin, organize similar tandems for language learners. The Geothe Institut does so too. And though I can’t vouch for this website as I haven’t made use of it myself, TandemPartners.org is also meant to put language learners in touch with one another.

The idea behind these exchanges is that, through regular meetings, a person interested in learning their partner’s native language can do so in an informal way. And after a few months of weekly meetings with the handful of tandem partners I had, not only did my German slowly improve and so did their English, a few of us started to hang out in our free time as well.


Another way in which I was able to make friends during my first year in the Bundesrepublik was through colleagues at work. This was rather easy to do, I’ll admit, since the majority of my colleagues were fellow native English speakers; we could relate with one another well and shared similar experiences as foreigners in our adopted country.

Eventually I befriended many of my colleagues, who introduced me to their friends and acquaintances – non-Germans and Germans – and my network quickly grew.

But I didn’t stop there.

I utilized platforms like Couchsurfing.com and Internations.org to find out about events going on in the city; I’d randomly show up and ended up meeting loads of different types of people.

One Couchsurfing member for instance had posted onto the platform that she was offering a Turkish food cooking workshop, and all those interested needn’t do more but pitch in for ingredients. I remember having a lovely time with the handful of people I met that day, not to mention that I enjoyed delicious food in good company.

Today Couchsurfing and Internations members still actively post events and users can filter their search based on city. With a variety of events for users to choose from that are more specific to one’s interests, Meetup.com has also become a popular site for those looking to meet new faces.

I should mention too that there were several grassroots organizations and NGOs in Braunschweig while I lived there that organized meetups for those looking to practise their German; I befriended a few of the people I met on these occasions too.

Now – five years since I moved to Germany – I no longer live in Braunschweig, but I’m pleased to say I’m still in touch with many of the friends I made there – the majority of whom are expats. On the other hand, plenty of friendships have fallen by the wayside.

But this doesn’t bother me at all. As the German saying goes: so ist das Leben.

I’ve since moved to Berlin; the capital city is essentially my oyster in terms of friendship-building opportunities. I’ve been here almost seven months and have already met people I can foresee building long-term friendships with.

The key I’ve found to making friends here (or in any other country, for that matter) is to go in with an open mind and to leave expectations and perceptions you might have at the door. So what if surveys show other foreigners think Germans are unfriendly?

As with life in general, I believe that if you put yourself out there and push through with a positive attitude, you’re capable of overcoming anything – even the challenge of making friends in good old ‘Schland.


Source :  The Local Germnay

Schulz abandons bid for Foreign Ministry as SPD power struggle heats up

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Schulz abandons bid for Foreign Ministry as SPD power struggle heats up
Photo: DPA
Germany’s embattled centre-left leader Martin Schulz said Friday he would abandon a bid to become foreign minister in a new coalition government with Chancellor Angela Merkel, after massive resistance from his own party.

“I hereby renounce joining the federal government and at the same time implore that this should be an end to debates about personalities” within the Social Democratic Party (SPD), Schulz said in a statement.

“My own personal ambitions must be placed behind the interests of the party.”

According to Bild, the SPD party leadership had given Schulz an ultimatum of Friday noon to announce that he would give up his goal of a cabinet post. The hierarchy had reportedly become concerned by growing unrest among the party base, particularly in the heartland state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

DPA reported serious concern at the top of the party that members will reject the coalition deal struck with Angela Merkel’s CDU earlier this week. Party leaders have become increasingly worried that arguments surrounding personnel will distract from the work of convincing members to vote when it is put to an internal referendum in three weeks.

One party official told DPA that “things are seething right now.”

Earlier in the day, Schulz’s predecessor as SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel accused him of breaking his word.

“What’s left is regret at how little respect there is in the Social Democratic Party in our dealings with one another, and how little someone’s word counts for,” Gabriel told the Funke newspaper group.

The rare public broadside at his comrades came after the SPD and Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU bloc announced a hard-fought coalition deal Wednesday in which Schulz was set to claim the foreign ministry.

It was Schulz’s second major U-turn since September elections that ground the storied centre-left party down to just 20.5 percent of the vote.

He had previously ruled out both repeating the “grand coalition” for a third time under Merkel, and serving as a minister in her cabinet.

With the coalition deal subject to a yes-or-no referendum by all 460,000 of the SPD rank and file, the sound of activists’ teeth grinding at Schulz’s apparent move to secure himself a cosy job had by Friday become impossible to ignore.

It has been only a year since Gabriel gave up the SPD leadership to make way for Schulz, who was then seen as the better candidate to challenge Merkel in September’s election.

Although Gabriel is one of Germany’s most popular politicians — scoring a 57-percent approval rating in an ARD television poll this month — there appeared on Friday to be no job waiting in Merkel’s fourth government. It remains to be seen if that will change after Schulz’s dramatic announcement.

“I enjoyed taking on the office of foreign minister, and in the eyes of the public I apparently did a good and successful job,” Gabriel said.

“I regret that it’s clear the public’s esteem for my work means absolutely nothing to the SPD leadership.”

Gabriel is still in office in a caretaker capacity while the proposed coalition deal is put to a referendum of SPD members.


Source :  The Local Germany

Russian Helicopters eyes opportunity to construct service center in Thailand

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The center is expected to perform all kinds of scheduled maintenance and repair activities

BANGKOK, February 9. /TASS/. Russian Helicopters holding and Thai’s Datagate company are viewing an opportunity of building a service center in Thailand, the Russian embassy in the kingdom told TASS on Friday.

The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding at the Singapore Airshow 2018 on February 6, the embassy said. “The document sets out an opportunity of providing assistance in organizing a service center for Russian helicopters in Thailand,” the embassy noted. The center is expected to perform all kinds of scheduled maintenance and repair activities.

The Thai Army operates several Mi-17V-5 multirole helicopters. A new contract for supply of two more helicopters of this type was signed with the Armed Forces of Thailand, the Russian Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation told TASS last November.

Source : TASS

Russian Navy to get large amphibious assault ship by late spring

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The warship can carry 13 main battle tanks or 36 armored personnel carriers, or up to 300 marines

© Vitaliy Nevar/TASS

MOSCOW, February 9. /TASS/. The large amphibious assault ship Ivan Gren is scheduled for delivery to the Russian Navy by the end of spring, Head of the United Ship-Building Corporation Alexei Rakhmanov told reporters on Friday.

“We are expecting any minute, so to speak. The task is to complete all the measures. I won’t give any specific timeframe but I believe that we are to complete everything by the end of spring,” he said.

Sergei Mikhailov, spokesman for the Yantar Shipyard on the Baltic coast, which is building the Ivan Gren, earlier told TASS that the warship’s state trials were expected to be completed in late February.

The Project 11711 large amphibious assault lead ship Ivan Gren was developed by the Nevskoye Design Bureau in St. Petersburg in northwest Russia. It was laid down by the Yantar Shipyard in Kaliningrad in west Russia in December 2004 and launched in May 2012. Its sea trials began in June 2016.

 On November 30, 2017, the large amphibious assault ship Ivan Gren started undergoing state trials in the Baltic Sea.

The warship can carry 13 main battle tanks or 36 armored personnel carriers (infantry fighting vehicles), or up to 300 marines. The amphibious assault ship can also transport a reinforced marine infantry company with organic military hardware and land it with the use of pontoons.

The amphibious assault ship Ivan Gren is armed with 30mm six-barrel artillery systems and two Kamov Ka-29 transport/attack helicopters in its deck hangars.

Source : TASS