Fire Torches Saxony Switzerland on both Czech and German Sides

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Forest Fires Forces Evacuation of the Region along the River Elbe at the Czech-German Border

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DRESDEN, GERMANY/ USTI NAD LABEM, CZECHIA- “A few years ago, we followed the forest fires that were devastating California and Greece. Now they are here and right at our footsteps.” Those were the comments made by Martin Dulig, Assistant to the Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer who governs the German state of Saxony.

Less than one week after the fire at the Basteibrücke in the Saxony Switzerland National Park near Lohmen, as covered by sister column The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles, a second, more powerful set of forest fires are wreaking havoc on the Elbe River Valley, flanked with forests extending from Pirna (SE of Dresden) to Teplice in Czechia, forcing residents to flee the region, and drawing in fire crews and even the police from different regions on both sides of the border, with heavy equipment and helicopters to battle the blazes and get people out of the region. A total of more than 1300 hectares of land on both sides of the border have burned, charring much of the rock cliffs that were until now become popular attraction for rock climbers and hikers. The steep cliffs combined with a rugged landscape plus lack of trails have hindered much of the progress. Because of the lack of rain, combined with high winds, it may be a few weeks until the flames are completely extinguished.

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The cause of the fire is unknown, though arson has not been ruled out. It started on the Czech side on Sunday in the Bohemian Switzerland National Park. Over the course of two days, fires spread, forcing residents in towns like Vysoka Lipa, Hrensko and Menza to evacuate. The fires then crossed the border into the German state of Saxony on Monday and has since put the Saxony Switzerland National Park as well as the region in the vicinity of Bad Schandau in a dire situation. Smoke from the fires have reached as far as Dresden and Prague causing haze and problems with visibility. Extremely dry weather in connection with an exceptional drought this year has played a role in this blaze and has already been tied together with global warming, which had triggered forest fires in much of Europe. Fires have been frequent in other German states, such as North Rhine-Westphalia, Saxony Anhalt and Brandenburg. At the same time as this blaze there has been another forest fire at the Saxony-Brandenburg border in the Elbe-Elster District.

Already the District of Saxony Switzerland/ East Ore Mountain (OSE) and the District of Usti Nad Labem, where the national parks are located have already created an ordinance banning people from entering a forested area for any reason. For OSE, violators can face fines of between 2,500 to 10,000 Euros ($2,600 to $11,000). Train routes and shipping services along the Elbe in and around the area have been suspended until further notice. People are being advised to avoid the area at any cost and allow for crews to put out the blaze. Furthermore because of the extreme drought, people are advised to refrain from using any type of fire as the dry vegetation can serve as fuel for the fire. Already, cities like Chemnitz, have banned grilling in open spaces and districts in Saxony have odered residents not to draw water from the rivers and lakes for gardening.

After the droughts of 2018-2020 which dried up much of Germany and Europe, 2022 is shaping up to be the drought of the century. And even though this drought is a dwarf compared to the ones in California dn southern Europe, with global warming taking hold, this may be an overture of what is yet to come. And while governments are working on a plan to conserve water and plant greens in areas needed, including cities, it is up to the consumers to do their part in reducing global warmng. Should it not be successful in the coming decade, fires like this will be an annual occurrance, multiplying hundred fold and ten times in intensity.

With Germany being one of the most forested countries, can a person imagine it being the next California like we have over there, right now?

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The New Traffic Penal Code in Germany: It will cost you more for your actions!

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In the past 10 years, we have seen an exponential increase in the number of cars and bicycles on German roads and highways. And with them, we have lawless behavior, whether it was speeding and distracted driving or it was using the rescue lane as a driving lane and hindering crews in the process. There’s also passing in a no passing zone and disregarding the handicapped and those with E-cars in parking areas. We must also not forget the profanity and lewd language from the drivers onto the police officers and/or other drivers, which has caused a lot of stress on both sides.

Since 9 November 2021, if one does one of more of the above-mentioned examples, it will cost the person dearly. The new traffic laws catalogue (Bußgeldkatalog) is now in place and if one violates the traffic laws, one has to dig much deeper to pay up. In addition to that, it will be much easier to get a point or two from the German Department of Vehicle Registration (BKA) in Flensburg for each violation and the chances of getting a ban from driving is greater. Basically, the new catalogue will cause extensive pain to the driver while at the same time, provide painful lessons for the ages with the goal of bringing driving behavior back to levels where people should drive professionally and be courteous to others.

Some examples of what the new catalogue introduces for measures for driver violations include the following:

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Speeding:

For the most part, the fines have doubled for those who are caught speeding. For example, if you drive 10 km/h or less in town, instead of 20 Euros, the fine is 40 Euros. Between 11 and 15km/h, it’s 60 Euros and one can get a point from 16 km/h onwards. Two points are received if a person goes 26 km/h or more too fast and have to pay 235 Euros or more.  In the countryside, it’s 30 Euros for up to 10, 50 Euros for 11-15 km/h and 70 Euros for speeds up to 20 km/h. One point rule remains in effect for speeds between 21 and 30 km/h too fast but a 1-month driving ban is enforced if a driver goes 26 km/h or more too fast.  Fines for speeding can go as high as 800 Euros, up 120 Euros from the maximum fine in the old catalogue

More on the speeding catalogue here:  https://www.bussgeldkatalog.org/geschwindigkeitsueberschreitung/

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Parking:

The sharpest increase in fines happen to be for parking violations. Instead of 15 Euros for parking in a no parking zone, the fine for this violation is now 110 Euros. One has to remember: Red ring with one slash means a three-minute stopping period but a red ring with the X means absolutely no parking or stopping. For parking in a handicapped zone as well as a reserved spaces for E-cars and car-sharing, the fine for such violations is 55 Euros, up 20 from the last catalogue.

More on the parking catalogue here: https://www.bussgeldkatalog.org/halten-parken/

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Red Light Violation:

Regardless of how many seconds you go through the red light and which vehicle, going through the red light has become a costly factor for not only costs but also the driving bans have gone up. For the time span of up to one second the fine is 90 Euros and 1 point. When even having a close call with other drivers, one can face fines of more than 200 Euros, receive two points and be banned from driving for 1 month.  If the red light was for longer than a second, the driver could face a one month ban and 200 Euros even if he/she didn’t cause an accident or force cars to stop to avoid one.  For cyclists who commited the red light violation, regardless of how many seconds, the fine has nearly doubled to 100 Euros and 1 point. Previously, it had been 60 Euros and a point.

More on the Red Light Violation here:  https://www.bussgeldkatalog.org/rote-ampel/

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Profanity and Vulgar Language:

While driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs has considerably one of the stiffest penalties, which includes the loss of license and possible jail time, the use of profanity and insulting police officers and other passers-by definitely can be considered a crime and can cost a person dearly both in the pocket books as well as in court. The least expensive penalty is 150 Euros for sticking out the tongue. However, the use of certain degrading words can range from 200 Euros for calling someone a “Girl” (Du Mädchen), to 1500 Euros for calling someone an “Idiot.” Call someone an “A**hole”, it’s 1600 Euros. If you consider a police officer an “Old sow” (Altes Sow), you can face a penalty of 2500 Euros.  Even hand gestures can cost a person in the thousands. The classic index finger to the forehead (der Vogel) can cost you 750 Euros. The hand-windschield-wider across the forehead (Scheibenwischer-Geste) can lead to a 1000 Euro fine. The middle finger is the costliest of penalties. You flip the bird, you can expect a fine of 4000 Euros!  Furthermore, a date with the judge and possible jail time for one year can be in store.  Because of the increase in insults and assaults on police officers within the past five years, such penalties are necessary and serve as notice to drivers to behave themselves in a professional manner. As one person mentioned: Money is the most painful punishment you can impose.

More on the Penalties involving Profanity, Vulgar Language and Illegal Gestures can be found here:

https://www.bussgeldkatalog.org/beleidigung-im-strassenverkehr/

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New, stiffer penalties also include 320 Euros fine, one month driving ban and 2 points from Flensburg for driving in and/or blocking the rescue lanes during an accident. One can get a point and a fine between 60 and 120 Euros for driving with the wrong set of tires. And for cyclists and E-scooters, using the sidewalk and pedestrian paths and getting caught means at least 55 Euros. Distracted driving, which includes texting/phoning while driving is one of a few that have remained the same. Those caught can receive 1 point and a fine of at least 100 Euros.

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While the stiffer penalties are designed to rein in driver misbehavior on German roads, there has been criticism to the plan, which includes not introducing the speed limit on German motorways. Germany is the only EU-country that has no such limit, while other countries have that in force, mostly between 120 and 140 km/h. In America, speed limits on Interstate highways are between 70 mph and 85 mph. Some experts fear that the penalties are not dependent on the income of those affected and stiff penalties could ruin one’s finances for those with lower incomes, and be treated as a tip by the “super rich.”  Nevertheless, the police unions have welcomed the new plan which clarifies how to penalize someone for exact violations. Especially for verbal and gestural behaviors are being stressed because of the treatment of police officers by those violating the rules.  While policing is a hard job, it makes it harder when someone ignores the other persons and endangers them.

If there is a slogan for the new penal catalogue that is now in place, it is this: “Behave Yourself or Lose Your Car, Your Money and even Your Freedom.”  After years of “me and me too,” it’s time to look after the other person and simply be nice.  That is the plea from all parties involved from patrolmen to politicians, to the common people.

Details of the new guide can be found here:  https://www.bussgeldkatalog.org/neuer-bussgeldkatalog-2021/

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End of the Line: Schalke 04

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How can a professional soccer team go from being in the top 20 of the richest in the world to the one that is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy- all within one year’s time?  This is the question that the soccer team Schalke 04 is trying to answer.  Yet with each answer comes more questions, some of which include the roles of Covid-19, management, the main sponsor GasProm, the hangover after many seasons playing in the UEFA Champions League and lastly, the decline in the number of fans.

All of this came to a head on Tuesday, as the team lost to Arminia Bielefeld 1-0, thus securing their first exit out of the top tier of the German soccer Bundesliga for the first time in three decades. Thanks to FC Cologne’s 2-1 upset of RB Leipzig that same evening, Schalke, with only 13 points in the standings, will spend the remaining four games of the 2020-21 season in last place.  This was enough for fans to attack the players after the game, but that was just the tip of the iceberg.

The team, located in Gelsenkirchen, accross the River Rhine from Cologne, will definitely be in the top ten of the worst teams in the history of German professional soccer. It will definitely not top Tasmania Berlin, whose disasterous 1965/66 season and the all-time records are well out of reach (see the bottom ten compiled by NDR here), but it is right in range to overtake Wuppertal SV for its poorest showing in 1974/75 on all accounts, which would make them the second worst team in a season on record! . Given their performance this season, that is almost a sure lock.

What will be interesting is the future of Schalke 04 once this season is over. They will have half the revenue for the second league, yet their finances as a whole, especially in light of Covid-19 combined with substantial debt, could make them vulnerable to bankruptcy, which could ultimatively doom them from professional play. And the trend is not on their side, when looking at the Bottom 10 teams and their records, plus the current trends.  The average amount of time needed to return to the top tier has been five years if the finances and sponsors are available, and the team can recover.  Others, like Dynamo Dresden, TeBe Berlin and even though it has avoided any of these records, Hamburger SV, have yet to return to premier play.  There is the danger that if Schalke goes into receivership, it could end up reorganizing and starting from the very bottom of the German soccer chain or in the case of VfL Leipzig, dissolve and reincarnate as other teams. Should this happen, then the soccer team with its 117-year tradition would be the oldest to fall from grace and into Dante’s inferno, this shaking the soccer world beyond Germany’s borders.

Schalke 04’s fall from grace should force the soccer federation DFB and all its members in the top 3 leagues, plus the women’s division to take stock in their liquidity, their players and staff and lastly the fans and consider reforming the system from the bottom up to ensure that what Schalke 04 is facing will not be repeated by the other teams. How this is done should be discussed once the last second of the last game of the season is ticked. With German soccer on the decline, even when looking at the German national team under Joachim Löw, reforms are well past due to ensure that soccer remains part of the country’s culture.

Germany goes into Hardest Lockdown yet over Easter

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Merkel and the state ministers agree to measures after a 15-hour, emotionally charged conference.

Five-day complete shutdown over Easter planned

BERLIN- Fifteen hours, highly charged emotions from multiple sides, multiple long breaks and what Bavarian minister Markus Söder calls a hard, difficult birth. Businesses, especially in the hotel and restaurant sector  bank on hope for customers over Easter. Parents hope that their children will soon go to school. Families hope to travel to see relatives and friends. Sadly, the Corona Virus does not pause on the holidays and especially the British mutated version 1.1.17 is infecting the younger population at a rate that is twice as fast as the original virus on the elderly.

Therefore, the toughest measures to combat the virus yet is going into effect. Aside from the fact that Germany has extended its lockdown to April 18, guidelines at Easter will turn Germany into a ghost town, with empty highways and streets and market squares being occupied by doves and pigeons instead of people and produce stands. There will be a mandatory five-day shutdown of all elements of life in the country. From April 1 to April 5, all businesses will be forced to shut down operations. Restaurants with outdoor dining will be closed during that time. Even in the supermarkets and gas stations they will be allowed to open only on Easter Saturday. The rest of the time they will stay shut. Gatherings at public places will be banned. And family gatherings are reduced to households with a maximum of five persons, minus children aged 14 years and younger. Churches will be asked to hold virtual Easter Sunday services.

And despite pleas from the northern states (Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Pommerania and Lower Saxony) to allow for overnight stays for guests travelling inland, all hotels and restaurants will remain closed to tourists during Easter and through April 18th.  Travelling will be considered unwelcomed and those traveling in foreign countries will be forced to go into quarantine for 10 days for areas not high risk and 14 days for areas that are high risks. This is in response to the sharp increase of travelers going to Mallorca in the past week.

These guidelines are the toughest ones that have been put into force since the start of the Corona pandemic in March of last year. But it sends a clear message to the population that the virus is a serious issue and one that must be paided attention to, closely. In the past month, there have been numerous protests in almost every city with more than 10,000 inhabitants throughout the country, demanding that the Corona lockdown be lifted, businesses be reopened, children be sent to schools and there is a return to normalcy. This included the latest protests in Kassel, Berlin and Dresden involving tens of thousands of demonstrators, many of them not wearing masks and disobeying Corona guidelines. 

There has been pressure on the German government in Berlin and especially Chancellor Angela Merkel and the state ministers from not only within the political party of the Grand Coalition of the CDU/CSU and the Social Democrats, but also from the Greens, AfD, the Leftist Party Linke, and especially the FDP and its chairperson Christian Lindner, who recently challenged Merkel to make a pledge to have the majority of the population innoculated before the summer break, using US President Joe Biden’s campaign to have most of the Americans vaccinated before the July 4th celebrations.  Yet with the delay in having tests available for use and the delay in vaccinations, frustrations are brewing and there have even been calls for Germany to deviate from the course of the European Union and go it alone, like it is being done in Hungary.

Still, with the seven-day incidence rate skyrocking on a daily basis, together with the number of new infections, and the sharp decrease in the number of intensive beds available, the measures are necessary to break the third wave, something Germany is right in the middle of. The current incidence rate is 108.7 per 100,000, up from 83 a week ago and from 60, two and a half weeks ago when the government introduced the limited openings on March 3rd which included the Click and Meet strategy, where shopping was allowed with an appointment and the emergency brake was applied if the incident rate is over 100 in a seven-day timespan. The number of new infections have increased by 35% in the past week, ranking Germany in the top five together with France, Brazil and India. Similar percentage rates can be found in the number of intensive station beds in hospitals nationwide.  And with these new measures, it is hoped that the general population will come to their senses and understand the severity of the new Corona variant that is effectively wreaking havoc on the younger populations, including school children. Furthermore it should serve as an incentive to save traveling until the summer, where it is hoped that the rates will decrease to a point where restrictions are eased up, while at the same time, half the population will have received at least their first Covid-19 shot.

Still, this will not be the last total shutdown due to the Corona pandemic. Researchers have revealed that there are hundreds of new Corona variants discovered, several of which are capable of adapting to the immune system including those who are vaccinated against the virus itself. Already known are the British, South African and Brazilian variants, but there are several more that will be more dangerous than the one Germany and the rest of Europe are fighting at present.  It is highly expected that Covid-19 will be part of normal life and with that, we will have to introduce long-term solutions to the pandemic. There will never be a return to the pre-Corona normalcy like many are wishing for, but there will be more of these pandemic restrictions, such as limited crowds at markets as well as sports and cultural events, click and meet concepts for shopping, daily virus testing and total shutdowns. It’s a question of how this can and will be integrated into the societal landscape.

And this will lie in the responsibility of the next governmental coalition in Berlin once Angela Merkel retires from politics after the September 22nd elections. And that in itself will feature new faces with new ideas on how to get the country running in a new corona society.

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“No means NO!” A look at the many ways to reject an offer in English

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Imagine this scenario: a stranger offers a child a ride to school, or offers a woman to a cup of tea, or offers a group of people to go to a free show in a theater, etc. You want to say no, but you want to find a creative alternative to the words “No thank you.” Furthermore, you would like to know which of the expressions are more forceful than the polite versions. It’s like in the commercial produced in 2015 on the issue of consent and, like in the picture above, the offer for a cup of tea:

Of course, we could accept the offer and say sure, we can do that. Germans would use the word annehmen and the English equivalents are below:

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For the enquivalent to the German word, ablehnen, the expressions are on the same level as this traffic light:

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The green light represents the polite way of saying no, the yellow light is the more stern way, and the red light is the most forceful way. The most commonly used words to describe “No!” are decline, reject and refuse. Like the traffic light, the difference among the three verbs is as follows:

As a hint, each of the words also have an equivalent, whose meanings are different, but they are in reference to the actual meaning of the word.

Decline: Two meanings come to mind when it comes to this word. The first has to do with deteriorate, the other to go down. While it is OK to politely decline to the offer a friend gives you, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the friend doesn’t like you. Yet if you reject your friend’s offer multiple times, then you might want to ask why, for it could be a sign that a friendship is deteriorating.

Reject: There are several words that come to mind when it comes to rejecting something sternly. One can repeal, annul or back out of an offer. Yet you can reject an offer and at the same time end a relationship and leave someone behind. As a hint, when you reject something plainly and to the point, it is a sign that you want to end something and move on. Reject is a tool used to end a partnership but on a professional basis.

Refuse: Two words are used to describe the harshest form of a “No” word: refuse and waste. Refuse is British and means garbage in American English as well as Abfall in German. The stress is on the first syllable. Waste is the same as garbage as a noun, but as a verb it means using time in a worthless manner. If you use the word refuse, your implying that the other person is wasting your time and you want nothing to do with him/her. If you use refuse, then the person is being tossed into the pile of garbage, full of disappointments, but in the clearest (and hopefully) verbal manner.

Review:

Decline <=> deteriorate, go down

Reject <=> repeal, annul, back out, end, leave behind

Refuse <=> refuse (noun), garbage, waste (noun/verb)

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A. Look at the expressions below. Determine whether they represent a red light (severe), yellow light (stern but moderate) or green light (polite). Please keep in mind that both the three words plus their synonyms are featured in the examples.

  1. I refuse to talk to my dad. He’s such a racist!
  2. Patricia declined to comment on the incident.
  3. Sam rejected Torsten’s request for a paid leave of absence
  4. The police officer apprehended the driver after he refused to show him his driver’s license.
  5. The teenager refused to show his tatoo to the leader of the gang and was subsequentially beaten.
  6. Anna declined Ted’s offer for a beer after work.
  7. I refuse to be a victim to this abuse!
  8. The President rejected the proposal to sign the treaty, citing high costs to carry it through.
  9. The clerk rejected the form because there was missing information.
  10. The opposite team declined the offer to penalize the home team for the foul.
  11. The marriage was annulled due to irreconcilable differences. Annul is the same as which of the three words: ______________________
  12. I’ve decided to leave the group because of the contract and I wanted to go solo. Leave is the same as which of the three words: ___________________.
  13. The relationship has deteriorated recently because of cultural differences between the couple. Deteriorate is the same as which of the three words:_______________________
  14. I will not speak with that piece of garbage. Not after what he did. He’s a waste of time. Waste and garbage are in reference to which of the three words: _____________________
  15. I passed up on the offer to work in Auckland for family reasons. Pass up is the same as which of the three words: __________________________.
  16. The bishop shunned the couple for same-sex marriage. Shun is the same as which of the three words: ______________________.
  17. We renounced our citizenship because we didn’t want to pay double taxes. Renounce is the same as which of the three words: ____________________.
  18. Scott sat out during the game because of a nose bleed. Sit out is the same as which of the three words:_____________________.
  19. The plaintiff’s lawyer objected to the defendant’s claims in court. Object is the same as which of the three words: ____________________.
  20. People in the hall protested at the proposal to tear the historic building down. Protest is the same as which of the three words: ________________________.

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B. Complete the following sentences, using either decline, reject or refuse. Pay attention to the details!

  1. Charles _______________ to apologize to his brother for the fight because he had started it.
  2. The cat ________________ to come down from the cupboard. So Sam took a broom and chased him down.
  3. Georgia _________________ Harlow’s offer to dinner at the diner in town. She was not interested in him and he understood.
  4. I _________________ to comment on the story because I’ve only heard it for the first time. Please give me time to digest the news.
  5. The Senate ________________ the proposal calling for the increase in taxes among the wealthy.
  6. The wedding proposal was __________________ because she didn’t love him. She loved someone else.
  7. The protesters _________________ to leave the town square, so the police sprayed water on them.
  8. I _________________ to back down to Mr. Henning because his argument for me clearing my classroom was not justified.
  9. My boss _________________ the offer for a higher position because he loves his job.
  10. She __________________ the draft because it was irrelevant.

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C. Look at the following sentences and convert them using the antonyms.

Example: I refuse your apology! <=> I accept your apology!

  1. I decline the offer to marry you. <=>
  2. I refuse to talk to him. <=>
  3. The proposal was rejected by a unanimous vote. <=>
  4. The fine for speeding was rejected. <=>
  5. The peace treaty has been refused by both parties. <=>
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After watching the video and reading (as well as doing) the examples, you should have an idea on the ways to express yourself if someone offers you something in English and you want to accept or deny the offer. Regardless of severity vs politeness, the main factor is: “No means no!” If a person declines, rejects or refuses something, then there is a reason for that. It is only OK with the consent of the other and NOT based on your assumptions. What was learned in your childhood that “No means yes.” is no longer the norm in this day and age.

When it’s no, it means no. Regardless of how no is interpreted.

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Jan Hofer Retires as News Anchor for Tagesschau

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Eight o’clock Newsman leaves German Public TV Station after 35 years anchoring for Tagesschau.

BERLIN/ HAMBURG- He had many nicknames. He was the King of the 8:00pm News. The Man with many ties, one different one each Tagesschau episode. He was a professional- honest, calming and thorough. He made sure everyone got the information that was expected, which was truthful, monologue and not much emotion. Last night, the King of the Nightly News Hour made his last bow and the timing could not have been any more perfect:

Jan Hofer was known as Mr. Tagesschau, having been at the helm every evening at 8:00pm on German Public TV station ARD (and its affiliates) since 1985. And despite the changes age and appearance over the years, there was one legacy that remained the same throughout his term. That was his informative and professional character.

Hofer has been in the broadcasting business for half a century. Born in Büderich (NRW), he grew up in Wesel and studied business economics in Cologne before entering the TV and radio broadcasting business after graduation. Before being the voice of the 8:00pm news in 1985, Hofer had worked in many TV and radio stations. He became managing editor of Tagesschau in 2004, the post which will now become the care of fellow colleague Jens Riewa, in addition to the coming of two more anchors come 2021, Julia-Niharika Sen and Constantin Schreiber to support the 8:00 news team that features Riewa, Susanne Daubner, Judith Rakers, Torsten Schröder and Linda Zervakis.

Hofer had also done the news for Tagesthemen, a late night news show, and whose last night on the air was December 14 with host Caren Miosga.

The departure of Hofer from Tagesschau comes as symbolic, given the fact that it on this day 30 years ago that the last broadcast of Aktuelle Kamera took place:

It was the former TV newscast of the German Democratic Republic. from 1952 until 1990 and like Tagesschau, AK presented its news with a key figure, Angelika Unterlauf who was known as the Face of the GDR. Its broadcast was objective but had a socialist-leaning taste.

Jan Hofer for ARD is for the three evening news anchors that dominated the American news scene: Tom Brokaw for NBC, Dan Rather for CBS and Peter Jennings for ABC. He was the face of German broadcasting and one who got to every story and addressed it to the public in a way that they understood it and talked about it. For people who (have) learned German, its language and culture, his name has come up many times and his simplicity made watching the news for people learning German easy. Hofer had what the three anchors in America had during their broadcasting days, which was integrity, honesty and objectivity, which made watching Tagesschau a must.

And with that, the tie comes off for the last time. Machen Sie gut! (Take care!). And to Mr. Hofer, a million thanks for your years of contributing to the 8:00 news. You and your many colorful ties will be missed. Take care and happy trails to you and your family! 🙂

Photo Flick Nr. 34

This Photo Flick takes us to Flensburg and to the Museumsberg. We were at the museum complex a couple weeks ago, where one of the main exhibits that took place was the topic of Borders- in connection with the German-Danish border of 1920. And while the 100th anniversary series will appear in the Files later on this fall, I couldn’t help but look at the children’s art exhibits that dealt with borders- not just between Germany and Denmark, but also borders based on race, ethnicity, religion, social and economic backgrounds and even personalities. Borders don’t have to include the destruction of crossings and the like, as what happened to Germany at the end of World War II and during the Cold War period that followed and divided Germany up for 45 years, as we saw in the article on the Dömitz Railroad Bridge over the Elbe. Yet borders have include two classes of people and how they should be treated accordingly.

This painting, found at Museumsberg shows the problem of borders when one minority is degraded to second or third class in favor of the superior white race. It shows the mistreatment of a black person as he is violently submitted by police. This was done in connection with the current protests in the US, where Black Lives Matter has been at the absolute forefront, especially in light of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25th. While racism has been systemic and systematic in the United States since the end of Civil War in 1865, it is only now that everything is at the forefront and the quest for equality has not been stressed as much as it is right now. The question is whether the US government will act to restore equality. That will have to wait until November 3rd, yet even if that happens, we may have another Civil War on our hands, given the sharp divisions the US has, going beyond the political and racial aspects.

This painting was one of many that were done by elementary school students of German and Danish backgrounds in Flensburg and neighboring Harrislee, as the schools came together to exhibit their paintings, most of which dealt with current events affecting Germany, Europe, the USA and the rest of the world. They included issues, such as racism, democracy, Trump and of course, the topic of borders- all done in German, English and Danish. They were an eye-opener to the tourists, especially those, like yours truly, who have worked with this topic in the classroom and in this column. It’s good that children get exposed to current events so they can understand the world and interpret the situation from their perspectives. By watching the news every day, listening to stories from their parents and other elders and even talking about critical topics, children will get an insight into the problems affecting us and can tackle them- developing them to their liking and to benefit others.

ACTIVITY: IN MY WORLD,……

One of the activities that should be taught in the classroom is to have children and students create a painting/drawing and/or write a story about how the world should look like from their perspectives. Starting with the sentence “In my world,…..” allow your children/students to create a world to their liking, to be presented in front of class. They should explain how the world should be created, what is allowed or banned and how people should treat their world.

An example of how a world should be created can be something like this:

In my world, we would have a green environment. All buildings must be operated with renewable energy (solar, wind, etc.) and have greens on roofs. There would be only e-cars and lots of forests and lakes. Only people who are environmentally conscious would live there, etc.

This can be used in not only Ethics and Social Studies, but also in foreign language class or any classes where civics is taught. By allowing the student to be created, you will be amazed to see what a world should look like from the eyes of the one who presents it and it would create an interesting conversation in the classroom and eventually at the dinner table if the child presents his/her own world. Who knows, if your school has a wide array of topics in conjunction with this, you could have a display like the one in Flensburg.

But even if not, similar activities like the activity or in this Photo Flick will enhance the child’s creativity and expose them to the environment and society that will get them to think, using the following important question: “What can I do better to help myself and others around me?

By answering that question and finding solutions that help, we will be on our way to making things happen, while at the same time, eliminate the barriers that keep us from achieving these goals.

This is something that I hope to see happen with our problems of racism and borders between two people of different backgrounds. We have seen this go on for almost two centuries and given the multitude of problems we have, this is one where we must work to eliminate as they will need us as much as we need them and their knowledge for support.

Photo Flick Nr. 33- Corona Special

Corona – Mouth Mask-Version of Hopper’s Nighthawk Scene.

Edward Hopper was a household name when he painted scenes on the streets of large cities, including restaurants and apartments. Hopper has become a household name this year for reasons that his paintings are being used as parodies to describe society during the age of Corona.

We presented a Photo Flick on April 10th with the empty restaurant scene, describing how the virus closed down all businesses and brought the world to a virtual standstill, at the expense of profit and normalcy- meeting people in public, engaging in outdoor activities or even venturing out. The scene was based on the 1942 painting Nighthawks.

This Photo Flick uses the Nighthawk backdrop but describes the restaurant scene again- this time with social distancing, mouth masks and the Smartphone. In short- communication on a totally new level.

I wonder if Hopper had been alive today how he would interpret this scene, as well as the other paintings he did that have been used as backdrop to describe what we’re dealing with today. If I was in his shoes, I would be…..

……speechless.

Photo Flick Nr. 32- Corona Special

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The 32nd Photo Flick is a photo courtesy of Brian McCully, showing a scene that would have been considered normal. It was a photo of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which took place this year from August 7 to August 16 on the streets of Sturgis, South Dakota. As many as 460,000 motorbikers and tourists visited the town and participated in rock concerts and other contests. No masks, no social distancing, but many comments by people who saw no problem sitting next to another person, elbow to elbow, drinking a good beer.

While this would have been normal, it is not, especially in times of the Corona Virus! Since the end of the motorcycle rally, as many as 260 cases have been reported from people originating from 15 states. The outbreaks have been spreading ever since with more cases to be recorded in the next weeks.

As one person quoted in this picture, “I see dead people.” Another mentioned the prospects of 25% of the attendees dropping dead by the end of this year.  As carefree as the United States has been with the handling of the Corona Virus cases, it is not a surprise that over 6 million Americans have been infected since the beginning of February and 185,000 people have succumbed to the illness, which has affected everyone of all ages, gender and race.  Another memo worth noting is that the European airspace is still closed off to Americans wishing to travel there.

While Donald Trump has been using “Law and Order” as his campaign platform to try and defeat his challenger, Joe Biden in what is considered the dirtiest Presidential Elections in American history, while ignoring his failed policies on Corona Virus and how it has laid waste to the economy, someone ought to tell him straight out this sentence:

“Explain your policies to the 185,000 people who died of the Corona Virus.”

This photo of the scene in Sturgis will forever be the poster boy of Trump’s failed policies in that aspect and the need for change.  And this is just a fraction of all of his failures in the past four years…….

 

Fl Fi USA

A Note to Those Wishing for Trump as President

muffin with miniature us flag and coke bottle placed on white table
I found this message through a friend of a friend and it has been floating around in social media lately. It has to do with the current situation the US is facing on multiple counts and the misinterpretation of those who have been vying for peace and the restoration of law and order, but also equality among all groups regardless of race and background.  After watching both conventions-Democratic and Republican, it’s time to set things straight about those who are misinterpreted as anarchists but have a message to the people who labeled them as such- most notably those who are conservative and plan to vote for Trump in November, but also those who are not sure which of the Presidential candidate to choose because of all the chaos. 
Read this message and feel free to spread it. It will help you decide better:
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I believe in a growth mindset so I watched most of both conventions and I listened, actively listened.
  • They say the current left candidate leaning want to disband police departments (and that we hate the police): we don’t, that’s a lie. We want to weed out racism and unnecessary police brutality and for those who abuse their power to be held accountable.
  • They say we want to release all prisoners: we don’t, that’s a lie. We want to weed out racism and ensure the punishments match the crimes and to deprivatize prisons.
  • They say we want open borders: we don’t, that’s a lie. We want asylum seekers to be given their chance to seek asylum. We want to help people who are coming from unimaginable terror and poverty help to give them the chance we have. We want to ensure children aren’t separated from their parents and that nobody is kept in cages. But we do want proper vetting.
  • They say we want to take away your guns: we don’t, that’s a lie. We want logical gun control to help prevent mass shootings.
  • They say we want to wage a war on Christianity and Christian values: we don’t, that’s a lie. We want people of all religions to be able to practice and worship freely.
  • They say we want to get everything for free: we don’t, that’s a lie. We want to work hard and make sure that healthcare and education are affordable for all.
  • They say we want a war against traditional marriage: we don’t, that’s a lie. We want people of all sexual orientations to be able to love freely, no matter who you love.
  • They say we want to destroy or rewrite history: we don’t, that’s a lie. We want to recognize the ugly parts of our past and do everything we can to say “that’s not okay, let’s not honor those aggressors, let’s not let those things happen again”.
  • They say we want to take away your constitutional rights: we don’t, that’s a lie. We choose to believe science and wear masks and try to prevent the spread of this disease.
  • They say we are somehow involved or are not doing our part to end the horrific human trafficking, that’s a lie and quite frankly the most absurd one I have heard yet. I have not spoken to one human who does not want this stopped now. A very large left backed non-profit is making huge strides in ending actual real life cases and bringing victims home.
  • They say we hate America: we don’t, that’s a lie. We just recognize our faults and want us to do better, be better.
Stop with the us vs. them. Our position is one of empathy, compassion, and logic. Please stop believing the hype. Stop with the division.
Just because we want equality for all doesn’t mean we want to take anything away from you. There is plenty of love to go around my friends, if we open our hearts and minds and question what our gut is telling us to rethink.

 

 

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Some food for thought as we are two months away from making the most important decision in our lives- something that will determine which direction the US and the world are going.

 

 

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