After bagging a surprising 11.9 percent of the vote in the national elections in 2009, it all went pear-shaped for the Left party. Today, a mere 6 to 9 percent of Germans would vote for Germany's most left-wing major party. At their last convention a year ago, the party just about prevented a major split. Before that, the constant rows between so-called reformers, or pragmatists - who are mainly from the former East Germany - and the radical anti-capitalists - who are mainly from the west of the country, had paralyzed the party for three years. Ahead of this year's party convention in the city of Dresden, general manager, Matthias Höhn, admits the party was still "in permanent catch-up mode since last summer to make up for the shortcomings of the last three years," saying that the situation won't change until the elections on September 22. No more Lafontaine The party will have to manage without its controversial former leader and driving force Oskar Lafontaine, who made the … [Read more...] about Left party struggles to make an impact as elections loom
ESA scientists revealed the unfortunate probable fate of the European-Russian ExoMars Schiaparelli lander on Friday. The space probe was likely destroyed on impact after freefalling at high speed, they announced after reviewing pictures taken by NASA. A low-resolution CTX camera on board NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) gathered images of the expected landing site on Thursday, a day after Schiaparelli's descent. Based on the images, ESA scientists believe the lander likely plummeted from a height of between 2 and 4 kilometers (1.2 to 2.5 miles) and impacted the Martian surface at a speed greater than 300 km/h (186 mph). ESA said it is "possible that the lander exploded on impact, as its thruster propellant tanks were likely still full." A GIF picture of the NASA images posted on the ESA's ExoMars Orbiter Twitter page shows two new features near the surface of the planet. The first is a small white dot in the lower right-hand corner of the zoomed-in shot. ESA officials said this … [Read more...] about ESA: ExoMars lander Schiaparelli ‘possibly exploded on impact’
The expectation that a success at the Copenhagen climate summit could well spill over to other international negotiations, perhaps even inspiring the negotiators at the WTO finally to bring the long-overdue World Trade Round to a successful conclusion, has proved elusive. Instead, on the heels of the failure of the Copenhagen conference, at which China, seemingly intent on becoming a new blockade power, did its best to play the spoiler, the mood in the old industrialized countries could take a turn for the worse. These countries could now induce their governments to opt for a harder line in other negotiations, and ordinary people could be motivated to take things into their own hands, seeking guidance in the following line of reasoning: More regional products instead of imported produce could reduce emissions Products are transported long ways until reaching consumers Would we not be killing two birds with one stone if we resolved, from now on, to buy as much of our food as … [Read more...] about Post Copenhagen: Should citizens be called on to curb climate change?
It is President Hassan Rouhani's first visit to Europe since the EU lifted sanctions against his country. For years, Iran has been struggling under the impact of these sanctions, imposed by the US, the EU and the UN in an attempt to curb its nuclear activities. With the major sanctions now lifted, there is huge excitement among both potential investors and Iranian businesses about a new market opening up. "Iran's economy has declined so much due to sanctions and other problems that any opening, no matter how small, would make a positive difference," said Farhad Alavi, an Iranian-American lawyer and Managing Partner of Akrivis Law Group in Washington, D.C., which focuses on trade sanctions law. "There is a lot of hype around this but it will take quite a while for us to witness a real deep change in Iran's economic and trade situation," Alavi told DW. Potential market On paper, Iran is in many ways an investor's dream. With the second-largest population in the Middle East after … [Read more...] about Post-sanctions Iran split between euphoria and caution
US President Barack Obama announced Monday his entry to social media platform Facebook with a personal page. "Hello, Facebook! I finally got my very own page. I hope you'll think of this as a place where we can have real conversation about the most important issues facing our country," The US president's Facebook page garnered more than 300,000 likes within a couple of hours of being announced. Obama took the moment as an opportunity to discuss the need to combat climate change in a video showing him stroll through the White House's grounds. 'We've got to preserve this planet' "I say this often, but that's because it's always at the front of my mind: We've got to preserve this planet of ours for our kids and grandkids. And that means taking serious steps to address climate change once and for all," the president said in his first Facebook post. "In a few weeks, I'm heading to Paris to meet with world leaders about a global agreement to meet this challenge," Obama said. World … [Read more...] about Obama talks climate change in first Facebook post
Let's take a look at Donald Trump's tax policy first, as it's not uncommon for US leaders to make attractive pledges on the tax front in a bid to reap electoral benefits. Over the next four years now, Americans will see how far Trump will be able to fulfill his promise of a drastic overhaul of the country's tax system. During the campaign for president, the Republican leader vowed to implement a huge tax cut, the biggest in decades, should he win the race. The plan foresaw US citizens paying income taxes at rates of 10, 20 and 25 percent, depending on their total income. It's touted as reducing the tax burden on both low- and high-income earners at the same time. Americans earning less than $25,000 (22,600 euros) a year and couples making below $50,000 would pay no taxes on their income, while the top tax rate for high earners would drop from the current 40 percent to about 25 percent, according to the plan. If Trump manages to get his tax reform through Congress, over … [Read more...] about A look at Trumponomics and its possible economic impact
Artist Wang Qingsong was born in 1966, just after China's Cultural Revolution had begun, so he only experienced it as a young child. Although the revolution ended more than four decades ago, the artist feels that it still continues to shape China. "We're still inclined to extremes. We always have to obey somebody and assemble behind someone. That's how we're raised," says Wang. "And that's true in all areas of life, including work, education and the economy. On the surface, it may look different, but the ideology is still the same." Wang Qingsong is currently presenting a large-scale work "Competition" as part of the exhibition "Working on History. Contemporary Photography and the Cultural Revolution" at the Museum for Photography in Berlin. The gigantic photo depicts roughly a dozen people pasting countless posters on the walls of a huge hall, leaving no space between them. Hundreds of ads appear on the posters, all from well-known companies like … [Read more...] about How China is still impacted by its Cultural Revolution
Petrobras' net loss widened to $10.2 billion (9 billion euros) in the last quarter of 2015, the oil giant reported Tuesday, as it struggled to cope with tumbling oil prices. Last year alone the price of a barrel of crude fell more than 40 percent. The shortfall was steeper than predicted and turned Petrobras' full-year result - which had remained in the black until September 2015 - into an overall loss. "It was an extremely difficult year for the oil industry in general, " Petrobras CEO Aldemir Bendine said. The public company also attributed its losses to downgrades by credit rating agencies and the devaluation of Brazil's currency, the real. Scandal still eats into earnings By its own admission, a massive price fixing and bribery scandal which reached the highest rungs of government also impacted Petrobras' results, although not to the same extent as last year. A year earlier, writedowns related to the fallout from the expanding corruption case, which fuelled calls for the … [Read more...] about Brazil’s Petrobras posts record loss
Noor Ebrahim used to live in Cape Town's District Six. He remembers the day the bulldozers came. "I was standing right there when they demolished my home in front of me," he told DW. 50 years ago, on February 11, 1966, the South African government declared District Six a white-only area under the Group Areas Act. This was the name given to apartheid legislation, first passed in 1950, which condemned non-whites to live in the less desirable, underdeveloped areas. Residing in an area to which you were not allocated was a criminal offense. District Six was once a vibrant multicultural community. "We had Jews, we had Muslims, Christians, Indians, Hindus, Africans, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, you name it. We had no problem with color or religion, but the apartheid government didn't like it," Ebrahim said. Under the Group Areas Act, hundreds of thousands were evicted from valuable land in inner city districts across South Africa, tearing friends and families apart. Those who were … [Read more...] about Post-apartheid District Six slow to rise again
The Polish goalkeeper "Most of my English work colleagues voted to the leave the EU," Polish forklift driver Piotr Warzoch told DW a month to the day that the bombshell result was announced. "Even my boss!" Warzoch, who has lived in the English town of Luton, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of London for over a decade, initially felt a sense of betrayal that many of the people he'd worked with for many years had voted for the UK to reduce immigration from the European Union. "I was a bit upset because I thought: 'Maybe they don't want us here in the UK,'" Warzoch said. "But then I talked to them, and they explained that I'd been here a long time, my kid was in a local school, and they said I should be fine." Despite a 20 percent rise in reported cases of hate crimes in the wake of the June 23 referendum, Warzoch - who hails from Rzeszow in southeastern Poland - said he'd not experienced any additional harassment. Having already faced a small amount of ongoing xenophobia from … [Read more...] about Has the public’s initial post-Brexit denial passed?