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Found 56 results

  1. Thomas Maria B. in court in Deggendorf, Germany. Image: The Local via DPA BERLIN: A German former Catholic priest was Thursday sentenced to eight and a half years in prison for more than 100 cases of child sexual abuse and other offences. The 53-year-old will undergo years of therapy in a closed psychiatric institution before starting his prison term, a court in the southeastern city of Deggendorf ruled. Whether he will ever be released depends on whether he is still deemed a threat to society, said chief justice Thomas Trautwein. Previously named in media reports as Thomas Maria B., the former priest had previously been jailed from 2003 to 2009 for other sexual crimes. He later obtained new church qualification papers to work as a priest using forged documents. In his latest trial, he was found guilty of sexually abusing five boys in 108 cases since the 1990s. He was also convicted of the attempted rape of an 18-year-old girl, as well as assault and possession of child pornography. The abuses were committed around the German cities of Mainz and Deggendorf as well as in Austria, Switzerland, Italy, and Poland, the court was told.
  2. SIALKOT: German Ambassador to Pakistan Martin Kobler on Tuesday visited CMH Sialkot, where he met patients injured due to Indian state terrorism through continued ceasefire violations, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said. Pakistan has repeatedly lodged formal protests with the Indian high commissioner over the continued violations of the ceasefire agreement between the two countries. In 2018, Indian forces carried out more than 150 ceasefire violations along the Line of Control and the Working Boundary, resulting in the martyrdom of nine innocent civilians, while injuring 40 others. In 2017, Indian forces committed over 1900 ceasefire violations. On Monday, Indian forces targetted civilian population in Jajot village along the LoC, which resulted in martyrdom of an eight-year-old boy. While condemning the incident, the Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson said the Indian forces should comply with the ceasefire agreement of 2003. Pakistan lodges protest with India on killing of minor at LoC Indian deputy high commissioner summoned over unprovoked firing at the de facto border The ISPR denounced Indian brutality, condemning the use of pellet guns in Indian-occupied Kashmir. DG ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor said that the blatant targeting of innocent unarmed civilians across the LoC ?exposes the true Indian face?. Meanwhile, Pakistan Army retaliated to Monday's ceasefire violation and destroyed an Indian post, leaving two Indian soldiers dead.
  3. While, for the rest of the world this Monday is still going to be boring and mundane, there is one guy who is probably flying high on cloud nine and dancing with joy, with no 'blues' to give whatsoever. The guy in question is none other than Karan Johar, whose directorial debut 'Kuch Kuch Hota Hai' is making the world go crazy, even after 20 years of its release. And the Berlin Film Festival only cemented the fact for us. © Yash Raj Films If the Shah Rukh Khan-Kajol-Rani Mukherjee starrer taught us anything, it is the trick of using cheesy pickup lines like a pro, and getting any girl with 'pyaar dosti hai' logic. Seriously, didn't we all try this line, “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai *insert our crush's name*, tum nahi samjhoge”, on people at least once? Well, how can we forget that this is the same movie that gave us Sana Saeed. Yes, we are talking about the hottie from 'Student Of The Year'. The movie also gave us one of the most epic transformation stories, which happened over an unrequited love. © Yash Raj Films The movie also gave one of the coolest Dadis of all time and even today we feel that she possibly time-travelled from the future, because she was clearly way ahead of her time. She even sneaked out with her granddaughter for a summer camp. The movie made us realize how life is not about 'counting dollars' but 'stars', thanks to this kid, who had just one job throughout the movie and that was to look at stars. Lastly, the movie also predicted Salman's future for all of us that he is going to stay single. The movie had something or the other for everyone and no matter how old we grow; we can re-watch this movie every time it pops up on our TV screens. © Yash Raj Films But, we guess it isn't just India that's affected by the charm of this movie. Other countries too love Bollywood as much as we do, and the magic of this iconic movie was witnessed at the Berlin Film Festivals. To pay a tribute to 'Kuch Kuch Hota Hai', the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra played the title track, which was welcomed by a huge round of applause by the audience. Honestly, there couldn't have been a better rendition than this and we can listen to it the whole day on loop. Even Karan Johar was so impressed by it that he took to Twitter to express his joy. Was so excited and honoured to see this!!!!! #KuchKuchHotaHai https://t.co/EKsDTSMVj1 — Karan Johar (@karanjohar) 18 February 2018 It's impressive how after so many years, the movie still manages to flutter many a hearts and make people drown in a pool of nostalgia. Karan Johar is currently gearing up for another kickass movie 'Ranbhoomi' starring varun Dhawan.
  4. A giant logo is seen at Facebook's headquarters in London, Britain, December 4, 2017. Photo: Reuters file BERLIN: A German consumer rights group said on Monday that a court had found Facebook?s use of personal data to be illegal because the US social media platform did not adequately secure the informed consent of its users. The verdict, from a Berlin regional court, comes as Big Tech faces increasing scrutiny in Germany over its handling of sensitive personal data that enables it to micro-target online advertising. The Federation of German Consumer Organisations (vzvb) said that Facebook?s default settings and some of its terms of service were in breach of consumer law, and that the court had found parts of the consent to data usage to be invalid. ?Facebook hides default settings that are not privacy-friendly in its privacy center and does not provide sufficient information about it when users register,? said Heiko Duenkel, litigation policy officer at the vzvb. ?This does not meet the requirement for informed consent.? The vzvb posted a copy of the ruling on its website. A court spokesperson confirmed that a judgment had been handed down but declined further comment. Facebook to appeal Facebook said it would appeal, even though several aspects of the court judgment had been in its favor. In a statement, it said it had already made significant changes to its terms of service and data protection guidelines since the case was first brought in 2015. ?We are working hard to ensure that our guidelines are clear and easy to understand, and that the services offered by Facebook are in full accordance with the law,? Facebook said. Further, Facebook would in the meantime update its data protection guidelines and its terms of service so that they comply with new European Union-wide rules that are due to enter force in June. Facebook, which counts more than 2 billion users worldwide, already faces scrutiny from Germany?s competition authorities over its handling of its users? personal data. The Federal Cartel Office, in an interim update on an investigation into Facebook, said in December that it objected to the way the company gains access to third-party data when an account is opened. This includes tapping information from its own WhatsApp and Instagram products - as well as how it tracks which sites its users access. One concern highlighted by the consumer rights group was that, in Facebook?s app for smartphones, a service was pre-activated that revealed the user?s location to the person they were chatting to. Also, in the privacy settings, ticks were already placed in boxes that allowed search engines to link to the user?s timeline, meaning that anyone would be able quickly and easily to find a user?s profile. ?The judges ruled that all five of the default settings on Facebook that vzvb complained about are invalid,? the group said in a statement, adding that several other of Facebook?s terms of use were found to be illegal.
  5. Photographs are pictured outside the compound of the North Korean embassy in Berlin, Germany, December 1, 2017. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch/Files BERLIN: North Korea has been using its embassy in Berlin to procure parts for its missile program, the head of Germany?s BfV domestic intelligence agency told a German broadcaster. No one at the North Korean embassy in Berlin was immediately available to comment on the allegation. In a program to be aired on NDR television on Monday, BfV head Hans-Georg Maassen said, ?We determined that procurement activities have been carried out from there that are, in our view, done with a view to the missile program and sometimes also for the nuclear program.? He said it was often so-called dual-use goods, which can be used for both civil and military purposes. Comments released by NDR ahead of the broadcast showed Maassen said German authorities prevented such activities when they found them but he added, ?We can?t guarantee that we can detect and prevent this in all cases.? He said it was necessary to presume that parts for North Korea?s launch program ?were acquired via other markets or underground buyers had acquired them in Germany?. North Korea has defied years of multilateral and bilateral sanctions with a weapons program aimed at developing nuclear-tipped missiles capable of hitting the United States.
  6. A general view shows Mosul's Old City, on January 8, six months after Iraqi forces seized the country's second city from Islamic State group militants. Photo: AFP BAGHDAD: An Iraqi court said Sunday it had condemned to death by hanging a German woman of Moroccan origin after finding her guilty of belonging to Daesh. She is one of hundreds of foreign militants held by Iraqi authorities, who in December announced the defeat of Daesh after a gruelling three-year battle. The German was sentenced for providing ?logistical support and helping the terrorist group to carry out crimes? said court spokesperson Abdel Settar Bayraqdar. ?The accused admitted during interrogations that she left Germany for Syria then Iraq to join IS (Daesh) with her two daughters, who married members of the terrorist organisation,? he said. The woman, who was not identified, has 30 days to appeal, after which she could be executed, said legal expert Ezzedine al-Mohammadi. She is believed to be the first European woman to be sentenced to death in Iraq in relation to Daesh. A judicial source told AFP that one of the woman?s two daughters had been killed while with the militants. The German media has reported that a German named Lamia K and her daughter left Mannheim in August 2014 and were arrested by Iraqi forces during the final stages of the battle to oust Daesh from its stronghold Mosul last July. At least two other German women are also in prison in Iraq, whose authorities have not officially said how many militants were taken prisoner during the battle against Daesh. A German teenage girl suspected of joining Daesh was also arrested in Mosul, according to Germany?s justice department. Thousands of militants arrested Baghdad declared victory over Daesh in December, after expelling the militants from second city Mosul in a gruelling months-long offensive. Daesh, which at the height of its power held around a third of Iraq?s territory, had swept across the country?s north and parts of Syria in 2014, calling on Muslims everywhere to head to its ?caliphate?. Iraqi commanders and Iraqi Kurdish fighters say hundreds of Daesh fighters gave themselves up during the battle, while others are said to have escaped by blending in with civilians fleeing the fighting. In the province surrounding Mosul alone, more than 4,000 militants were arrested, police chief General Wathiq al-Hamdani said. Researcher Kim Cragin of the National Defense University wrote on the Lawfare security blog in late November that 5,395 foreigners were in jail in Syria and Iraq. The Soufan Centre, a nonprofit security analysis group, reported in October that 190 German women with 70 children had joined the Daesh ?caliphate?. According to the German intelligence services, 910 people left Germany to join militant groups in Syria or Iraq. About a third of them returned to the country, 70 of whom are considered combatants, while 145 were killed. In December, Human Rights Watch reported that 7,374 people had been found guilty and 92 executed since 2014 under Iraq?s anti-terrorism law. The New York-based group reported numerous accusations that security forces had used torture to extract confessions. In September 2017, the same Baghdad court sentenced to death by hanging a Russian man who was captured in Mosul and found guilty of fighting for Daesh. In December, a Swede of Iraqi origin was among 38 people executed after being convicted of "terrorism". Despite the militants? quasi-state being reduced to tatters, Daesh has continued to carry out attacks including in Baghdad.
  7. Social Democratic Party (SPD) parliamentary group leader Andrea Nahles arrives for talks to form a new government in Berlin, Germany, December 20, 2017. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke/Files BERLIN: Germany?s largest union grouping on Thursday recommended the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) vote to start formal coalition talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel?s conservatives, bolstering an all-out drive by the party to rally support. The DGB Confederation of German Trade Unions ? which represents some 6 million workers ? said a blueprint agreed by the two political blocs would result in advances for workers. The SPD is racing to overcome resistance to another ?grand coalition? among rank-and-file members ahead of a party congress on Sunday, even as leading conservatives warned that failure to endorse coalition talks would result in political chaos. Nearly four months after the election, Merkel has still not managed to form a government. The uncertainty has eroded her public standing after 12 years as the dominant leader of Europe, and she is now counting on the SPD, her coalition partner from 2013 to 2017, to once again agree to a tie-up. Refusal by SPD delegates to hold further talks could lead to new elections or a minority government for the first time in Germany?s post-war era. Many in the party are reluctant to rejoin the government, arguing that the party needs to reinvent itself in opposition after posting its worst election result in September since 1933. However, DGB chief Reiner Hoffmann said all eight of the trade unions in the association backed further coalition talks. ?We have reviewed the results of the exploratory talks and there is much substance there for workers in Germany,? he said. Six hundred delegates will vote on Sunday on whether to embark on full-blown coalition talks. All SPD party members will vote by mail on a final coalition deal if there is one. Germany?s oldest political party expanded by a net 10,500 members in 2017, an increase that exceeded any since German unification in 1990 and pushed total membership to just over 443,000, a party spokesman said. Horst Seehofer ? Merkel?s top Bavarian ally ? said Thursday an SPD vote against coalition talks would be ?a political disaster for our country?, leading to a new election that would likely be followed by even more arduous coalition negotiations. ?I can only appeal to everybody to get their act together and enable the formation of a government. Anything else would be disastrous for Germany.? Rental cap The SPD?s parliamentary leader, Andrea Nahles, said about a third of delegates were still undecided, but she was optimistic a majority would vote to endorse the talks. Nahles told the Funke Mediengruppe newspaper chain the blueprint agreed with conservatives would benefit members by boosting pensions, phasing out a solidarity tax imposed to help poorer eastern states, and averting an upper limit on migration. While she conceded the SPD had not won all its demands in the negotiations, including a call for a universal health insurance, she said other important projects were within reach. The SPD?s youth and left wings oppose coalition talks and say the blueprint does not contain enough SPD hallmarks. A Forsa poll published on Thursday showed the SPD slipping to 18 percent, below the 20.5 percent it achieved in September?s election. Support for Merkel?s CDU/CSU bloc rose to 34 percent, slightly above its election result of 32.9 percent. Ralf Stegner ? the deputy leader of the SPD ? told Focus magazine his party would adopt a tougher approach in any new tie-up with conservatives after Merkel?s party reneged on several key labour and pensions pledges during the last coalition government. ?We will not accept that type of contractual violation again,? he said, seeking to assuage concerns by party members who do not trust Merkel or her conservatives. SPD leader Martin Schulz and Michael Groschek, the party leader in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), which accounts for about a quarter of the delegates to Sunday?s vote, on Wednesday both forecast a positive outcome. Schulz also told reporters that some areas such as healthcare and rental caps could be added during formal coalition talks, and highlighted the fact that negotiators had agreed to review the deal after two years.
  8. A memorial dedicated to WWII soldiers near the construction site where German WWII graves were found in Tallinn, Estonia January 10, 2018. REUTERS TALLINN: Building workers at a construction site close the Estonian capital Tallinn have discovered the unmarked graves of an estimated one hundred German soldiers who died during World War Two. The previously unknown individual graves were found near the Baltic coast near a German military cemetery. They are thought to be an undocumented section of the larger burial site. ?The builders stopped their work when they discovered the remains, and the situation is being looked into,? Arnold Unt of the Estonian War Museum told public broadcaster ERR. Several battles were fought between Soviet troops and retreating Nazi Germany forces on Estonian territory during the war. Every year the remains of combatants from both sides are found in unmarked graves and are exhumed and reburied in military cemeteries.
  9. Germany?s justice minister Heiko Maas. Photo: German media BERLIN: Germany?s justice minister has fallen victim to the rules he himself championed against online social media, as one of his tweets was deleted following several complaints, Bild daily reported Monday. The tweet dated back to 2010, when Heiko Maas was not yet a minister. In the post, he had called Thilo Sarrazin, a politician who wrote a controversial book on Muslim immigrants, "an idiot". Maas told Bild on Monday that he "did not receive any information from Twitter about why the tweet was deleted, or whether it would be deleted from Twitter." But he added that "there are things that I would no longer tweet today." "I?ve learnt that over the years," he said. A new law that came into force on January 1 requires social media giants to remove hate speech and other illegal content, or risk fines of up to 50 million euros ($57 million). Under the legislation, companies like Twitter and Facebook would have 24 hours to remove posts that openly violate German law after they are flagged by users. Germany adopted the measure, one of the toughest in the world, after a surge in racist and incendiary speech online, particularly since the arrival of more than one million asylum-seekers since 2015. Far-right politician Beatriz von Storch became the first high-profile individual to run afoul of the new rules and saw one of her posts deleted from both Twitter and Facebook. Von Storch, deputy leader of the anti-immigration AfD party?s parliamentary group, had criticised Cologne police for sending a New Year?s greeting in Arabic on Twitter. But critics of Maas? new law argue that it stifles freedom of speech. Several parties, including the AfD, the pro-business FDP, far-left Linke as well as Chancellor Angela Merkel?s Bavarian allies CSU, want the law scrapped or amended. Maas? party, the Social Democrats, however, are holding firm.
  10. Photo: Reuters BERLIN: Germany?s opposition parties on Sunday called for the abolition of a new law that aims to rid social media of hate speech, saying it was wrong for private companies to be making decisions about whether posts are unlawful. The legislation, which came into force on January 1, can impose fines of up to 50 million euros ($60.1 million) on sites that fail to remove hate speech promptly, raising fears that Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms could block more content than necessary. So far Twitter has deleted anti-Muslim and anti-migrant posts by the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) and also blocked satirical magazine Titanic?s account after it parodied the AfD?s anti-Muslim comments. Nicola Beer, general secretary of the liberal Free Democrats (FDP), told Welt am Sonntag newspaper that prosecuting authorities needed to be equipped with tools to enforce the law on the internet rather than leaving decisions about the legality of posts to platform operators. ?The past few days have clearly shown that private providers aren?t always able to make the right decision about whether suspected criminal statements made online are unlawful, satirical or a tasteless expression of opinion that nonetheless needs to be tolerated in a democracy,? she said. Beer added that the existing law needed to be replaced with a ?proper? one. Simone Peter, leader of the Greens, told the same newspaper that it was not acceptable that US companies such as Twitter were able to influence freedom of opinion and the press in Germany, referring to the suspension of Titanic?s account. She said networks such as Twitter need to take some responsibility for posts on their platforms but ?without being given the role of judge?. After the Titanic account was blocked a Twitter spokesman said the company did not comment on individual accounts for reasons of privacy and security. Sahra Wagenknecht, parliamentary leader of the radical Left, told the Funke group of newspapers that her party supported initiatives to abandon the law. ?The law is a slap in the face for all democratic principles because, in a constitutional state, courts rather than companies make decisions about what is unlawful and what is not,? she said. The AfD has already announced that it will consider filing a complaint against the law. On Thursday Germany?s top-selling Bild newspaper also called for the law to be scrapped, saying it was stifling free speech and making martyrs out of anti-immigrant politicians whose posts are deleted. ($1 = 0.8314 euros)
  11. A damaged car is pictured inside the party headquarters of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) after it crashed into the building in Berlin - Reuters BERLIN: A man drove a car at the entrance of the Berlin headquarters of Germany?s Social Democratic Party (SPD) late on Sunday evening, lightly injuring himself, later telling police that he had intended to commit suicide. Police said the car, which crashed through the first set of glass doors of Willy Brandt House, the SPD?s headquarters, was laden with petrol canisters and gas cartridges. The building?s sprinkler system extinguished the resulting blaze. Authorities did not identify the man, in part because of a policy of limiting public communications in cases involving suicide, attempted or otherwise, saying only that he was 58 years old. A police spokeswoman said investigators had found nothing to cast doubt on the man?s claim that he had been attempting to commit suicide. The incident did not appear to be an attack, she added. It was unclear why he had chosen the SPD, which is about to start negotiations on governing for another four years in coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel?s conservatives, as his target. The man was taken to hospital for treatment for superficial injuries to his head. Nobody else was hurt. Police launched an arson inquiry and state security services were also investigating.
  12. German police secure the main train station in Munich, Germany, January 1, 2016. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle/Files BERLIN: German police arrested a 29-year-old man they said was an active member of Daesh who was plotting a truck attack on an ice rink. The arrest comes a year after Anis Amri ? a failed Tunisian asylum seeker with extremist links ? hijacked a truck and drove it into a Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 people. The detention comes amid security services' warning of growing numbers of radical extremists in Germany. ?He was considering an attack on the ice rink on the Schlossplatz in Karlsruhe,? police in the south-western state of Baden-Wuerttemberg said, adding that the suspect was a German citizen whose name they gave only as Dasbar W. ?To that end, he was assessing areas around Karlsruhe Castle and, from September 2017, had begun seeking employment as a delivery driver ? without success,? the police statement said. In 2015, the suspect travelled to Iraq to fight for Daesh, receiving weapons training and working as a scout seeking potential attack targets in the city of Erbil, police said. He returned to Germany the following year. Before leaving for Iraq, Dasbar worked for Daesh from Germany, producing propaganda videos and proselytizing to converts in online chat rooms, police said. Earlier this month, Germany?s security service warned that the number of followers of a radical extremist ideology had risen to an all-time high of 10,800, though the number prepared to mount attacks was in the order of hundreds.
  13. Turkey has released German journalist Mesale Tolu after nearly eight months in prison on the condition that she does not leave the country, German government officials said on Monday. Ankara has charged Tolu with being a member of a terrorist organisation and publishing terrorist propaganda following a failed military coup in July 2016. Her husband, Suat Corlu, a journalist who had been detained earlier, was released last month. Both continue to face charges in Turkey. Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed the news with reservations, given curbs on Tolu?s ability to travel. ?Regarding Ms Tolu, it is good news given that she will be freed, but not completely so, because she can?t leave the country and the trial continues,? Merkel told reporters. Tolu?s father, Ali Riza Tolu, was jubilant outside the courthouse, but said Ankara had ?stolen? nearly a year of his daughter?s life and there was no proof of any wrongdoing. ?My daughter is free,? he said. ?We are now a happy family.? The decision to release Tolu came two weeks after German federal prosecutors dropped an investigation against a dozen Muslim clerics sent from Turkey who had been suspected of spying in Germany on behalf of the Turkish government. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel told broadcaster ARD that Turkey seemed to be gradually making some limited progress in terms of the rule of law but the German government still had many concerns such as about human rights and press freedom. He said Berlin and Ankara, between whom ties have been strained of late, were trying to find ways to deal with their disputes appropriately and that was proving tough but: ?Small steps are better than none?. Merkel?s spokesman Steffen Seibert said Berlin would continue to press for the release of German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel. Germany has urged Ankara to release Yucel, Tolu and other journalists detained after the abortive coup in July 2016, saying their detentions are unfounded and political. Including Tolu, Ankara is preventing a total of 28 German citizens from leaving the country, she said. Tolu was first detained on April 30. German Green party co-leader Cem Ozdemir, who is of Turkish descent, welcomed the news, but said it did little to change the ?miserable state of the rule of law in Turkey?. ?I demand that the Turkish government release all political prisoners and immediately allow German citizens like Mesale Tolu to leave the country,? Ozdemir said in a statement. Heike Haensel, a member of Germany?s far-left Left party who attended Tolu?s hearing in Istanbul, said on Twitter that Tolu was required to check in with Turkish authorities every Monday. ?I would say it is a second-class release,? Haensel told Reuters TV. Germany?s mainstream parties have been outspoken critics of Turkey?s security crackdown since the abortive military coup. Tens of thousands of Turks have been jailed since then, including around a dozen who hold German citizenship. Germany is home to some 3 million people of Turkish heritage. Turkey has criticised Berlin for not handing over asylum seekers it accuses of involvement in the would-be coup. Ankara has blamed US-based cleric Fetullah Gulen for masterminding the failed coup. Gulen denies any involvement.
  14. German Ambassador to Pakistan Martin Kobler (L). Image via Martin Kobler's Twitter account (@koblerinpak); Chief Minister of Punjab Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif1 LAHORE: Martin Kobler ? the German Ambassador to Pakistan ? on Saturday declared the Chief Minister of Punjab a "visionary leader", citing his leadership of the provincial government, which has worked swiftly with regard to measures for development. Kobler was speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the Punjab Gas Power Plant in Jhang. ?For your vision, chief minister, for your energy, for your dynamism, for making this part of your effort to improve the power situation of this country, thank you very much,? the German Ambassador said. "Congrats for the #jhang power plant of 1263 mw," he wrote about the project "powered by #siemens" on Twitter. "Great day for Pakistan and Punjab. PM #ShahidKhaqanAbbasi and CM #ShahbazSharif graced the occasion. I attended with Chinese ambassador Yao Jing. Historic day!" The German Ambassador said Shehbaz Sharif took a personal interest in the completion of various progressive projects and, under his praiseworthy leadership, Punjab had notably advanced. Sharif's vision, capacity to work, and determination are praiseworthy, he said, adding that the CM Punjab had made a solid effort to eliminate load shedding. Kobler also commented on how German companies should benefit from projects under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The day was a historic one for Pakistan, Punjab, and Jhang, as well as for Germany, he noted. The German envoy said Sharif had a great vision of development in the country and spoke a few words in Urdu, reiterating the slogan of "Long Live Pakistan, Germany, and China". On this occasion, Stefan Halberstadt ? the chief financial officer at Siemens AG (Siemens Aktiengesellschaft) ? mentioned that the best performance turbine would be installed for the project. Halberstadt said Punjab had taken praiseworthy measures to eliminate the power crisis. Yao Jing ? the Chinese Ambassador who was also present at the occasion ? said Sharif was giving excellent support for projects under the CPEC or otherwise and had given a lot of facilities.
  15. File The leader of Germany?s Social Democrats (SPD) said on Monday he would launch talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel?s conservatives on forming a government next week if members of his center-left party gave him the green light at a congress this weekend. The remarks by Martin Schulz raised hopes that the two parties that suffered losses to the far right in an election in September could renew an alliance that has ruled Germany since 2013 and end the political deadlock in Europe?s largest economy. Merkel turned to the SPD after failing to form a three-way alliance with the left-leaning Greens and the pro-business Free Democrats, plunging Germany into a political impasse and raising doubt about her future after 12 years in power. ?We?ll explore whether and how the formation of a government is possible in Germany,? Schulz told journalists. The SPD party board leadership had earlier set down its key demands for coalition talks with the conservatives. On the divisive issue of immigration, one of the main reasons for the collapse of Merkel?s first effort, the SPD said it opposed a conservative plan to extend a ban on the right to family reunions for some asylum seekers. ?Family reunions and family cohabitation lead to good integration,? the SPD document said. ?That?s why we are against extending the suspension of family reunions.? In a sign of the tensions likely to bubble up between the parties, Horst Seehofer, leader of the arch-conservative Bavarian sister party to Merkel?s Christian Democrats (CDU), warned the SPD not to try to prevent attempts to extend the ban on family reunifications. ?That would lead to such a huge migrant influx again that Germany?s ability to integrate them all would be completely overstretched,? Seehofer, leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU), told Bild newspaper. CONSERVATIVE TROUBLES Merkel could also face complications from her own camp. Her arch-conservative CSU allies in Bavaria on Monday named right-winger Markus Soeder to be their candidate for the state premiership in a regional election next autumn, potentially weakening her hand as she negotiates with the SPD. Merkel?s CDU and the CSU bled support to the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) in September?s federal election because of anger at the chancellor?s decision in 2015 to open Germany?s door to more than a million asylum seekers. The CSU now fears losing more votes at regional level. The future of Seehofer had been in question since the election. After the losses, Merkel reluctantly accepted a CSU demand to put a limit on the number of asylum seekers Germany will accept each year. Asked why he was clearing the stage for Soeder to lead the CSU in next year?s vote in Bavaria, Seehofer said: ?The past doesn?t win you any elections.? Soeder, who has accused Merkel of pulling the conservatives to the left and took a hard line on Greece during the euro zone crisis, is likely to be a bigger thorn in Merkel?s side than Seehofer, who is expected to remain party leader. SPD RELUCTANCE For its part, the SPD, which has governed in coalition under Merkel since 2013, suffered its worst election result in postwar history in September, and had been reluctant to join another ?grand coalition?. It dropped its pledge to go into opposition only after Merkel failed to form a government, bowing to pressure from President Frank-Walter Steinmeier to ease the deadlock. The SPD will hold a party congress in Berlin this weekend, where it is expected to debate its position on coalition talks. Kevin Kuehnert, the head of the SPD?s youth wing - which opposes another grand coalition - told Die Welt newspaper that the outgoing CDU-CSU-SPD government had been characterized by ?cheap and often quite bad compromises, such as on urgently needed investment in education and infrastructure?. The SPD did not stake out a position on the conservatives? upper limit on refugees in its policy document. But it did say Germany should work with French President Emmanuel Macron on strengthening the European project through policies geared to fight high youth unemployment. It did not mention key proposals by Macron that the euro zone should have its own budget and finance minister, but it did refer to his plan for closer defense cooperation. On the economy, the SPD?s proposals for more rights for workers and employee-friendly regulation of the large temporary work sector could draw fire from the CSU. The long political impasse is starting to worry investors. An investor sentiment survey tracking Germany fell in December. The research group Sentix said investors wanted to know how expensive a tie-up with the SPD would be.
  16. German authorities investigating the delivery of a package containing powerful firecrackers, wires and nails to a pharmacy near a Christmas market in the city of Potsdam said on Sunday it was criminal activity rather than ?terrorism.? Karl-Heinz Schroeter, interior minister of the state of Brandenburg where Potsdam is located, told a news conference criminals were behind the package which they had used to try to extort millions of euros from logistics firm DHL, which had delivered the package. Police said it was highly likely that the package could have exploded. Staff at the pharmacy in Potsdam, just outside Berlin, called the police on Friday after they discovered the suspicious package. The Christmas market was evacuated and the package was made safe by a police robot. DHL warned the public not to open packages if they did not recognize the sender?s address or if the sender?s address was suspicious. ?As we find ourselves approaching Christmas, which is not only a time of peace, but also a time when many presents are sent, such an act of extortion is reprehensible,? Schroeter told the news conference. He said all efforts were being made to catch those who sent the package. Authorities said the people who sent the package most likely lived in Berlin or in the state of Brandenburg, which surrounds the German capital. They did not say how much money they had demanded, but said they had told DHL they would send more packages that could kill or injure if DHL, owned by Deutsche Post, refused to pay up. Brandenburg police chief Hans-Juergen Moerke said that a QR barcode that can be read using a smart phone was found on a piece of paper inside the package. The extortion letter addressed to DHL was found in the barcode.
  17. Police vehicles parked near the Christmas market in Potsdam after a suspicious object prompted its evacuation. -AFP BERLIN: German police on Friday found an "explosive" containing nails close to a Christmas market in Potsdam, reviving fears of a repeat of last year´s terror attack that struck at the height of the festive season. The device was uncovered in a package found at a pharmacy just off the Christmas market in central Potsdam, a picturesque city near Berlin that was once a residence for the kings of Prussia. Police said a pharmacist had sounded the alert after finding a canister with wires inside the package. "Suspicions of an unconventional explosive device have been confirmed," police in Brandenburg state said on Twitter. "There were apparently not only nails but also powder in the canister, and that must be investigated, could it be plaster, or something that doesn´t explode or is it something explosive," said Brandenburg interior minister Karl-Heinz Schroeter. He added that investigators were unlikely to be able to give "binding results" on the device today. After clearing parts of the city centre and Christmas market, bomb disposal units defused the device shortly before 6pm. "It's not easy when you're on the scene, we're shocked," Christmas market organiser Peter Klemm told broadcaster NTV. "But the people here understand what's going on and take the measures very seriously." High alert Germany has been on high alert for possible militant attacks after last December's deadly assault at a Christmas market in central Berlin. The attacker, Tunisian asylum seeker Anis Amri, hijacked a truck and murdered its Polish driver before killing another 11 people and wounding dozens more by ploughing the heavy vehicle through the festive market in the centre of the city. He was shot dead by Italian police in Milan four days later while on the run. Germany has since been targeted again in attacks with terror motives. In July 2017, a 26-year-old Palestinian asylum seeker wielding a knife stormed into a supermarket in the northern port city of Hamburg, killing one person and wounding six others before being detained by passers-by. And at the end of October, German police arrested a 19-year-old Syrian identified only as Yamen A. suspected of planning a "serious bomb attack" using powerful explosives. Daesh also claimed responsibility for a number of attacks in 2016, including the murder of a teenager in Hamburg, a suicide bombing in the southern city of Ansbach that wounded 15, and an axe attack on a train in Bavaria that left five injured. Germany remains a target for militant groups, in particular because of its involvement in the coalition fighting Daesh in Iraq and Syria, and its deployment in Afghanistan since 2001. German troops in the anti-Daesh coalition do not participate in combat operations but support it through reconnaissance, refuelling and training. Germany's security services estimate there are around 10,000 radicals in Germany, some 1,600 of whom are suspected of being capable of using violence. Chancellor Angela Merkel has also come under fire for allowing in more than one million asylum seekers in the past two years, with the decision fueling the rise of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which claims the influx spells a heightened security risk.
  18. Andreas Hollstein, mayor of the German town of Altena, survived a stabbing attack on Monday allegedly for holding a pro-refugee stance. Hollstein, member of Chancellor Angela Merkel?s party, was stabbed in the neck in a kebab shop and was later shifted to the hospital for treatment, BBC reported. "The security authorities believe that there was a political motive," said North Rhine-Westphalia premier Armin Laschet. The assailant was taken into custody after the attack. Merkel condemned the attack and said: "I am outraged by the knife attack on Mayor Andreas Hollstein, and very relieved that he is able to be back with his family. Thanks also to those who helped him." Immigration has became a divisive top in the country over the past years, with Angela Merkel at some occasions facing criticism from her own party for a liberal policy regarding refugees. Germany continues to accept a large number of refugees though calls to limit the intake have strengthened lately.
  19. The German car industry risks running short of key raw materials for automotive batteries, hampering a planned boost in the production of electric vehicles (EVs), Germany?s largest industry association BDI warned. ?The risk of running into bottlenecks in raw material supply is increasing because demand is growing faster than production capacity,? Matthias Wachter, head of security and raw materials at the BDI was quoted as saying by Sunday paper Welt am Sonntag. ?Without sufficient supplies for instance of cobalt, graphite, lithium or manganese there won?t be any future technology ?made in Germany?,? he added. Demand for these materials is expected to soar as carmakers rush to embrace EVs in response to governments around the world cracking down on pollution. German carmaker Volkswagen said it is pushing to secure long-term supply contracts to avoid material shortages as it aims to invest 34 billion euros (30.42 billion pounds) in battery-powered cars by 2022 to challenge Tesla Daimler?s Mercedes brand plans to offer an electric version of every model it sells by 2022, while rival BMW, a pioneer in electric cars with its i3 model, has vowed to achieve mass production by 2025 with 12 fully electric models. Recycling companies such as Belgium?s Umicore or US group Retriev Technologies are preparing to extract metals from old batteries so they can capitalise on an expected shortfall in materials.
  20. The leader of Germany?s Social Democrats came under growing pressure on Thursday to drop his opposition to a new ?grand coalition? with Angela Merkel?s conservatives, with senior politicians arguing the party had a duty to promote stability. Merkel is facing the biggest political crisis of her career since efforts to forge a three-way coalition with the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) and Greens collapsed last weekend. That has raised worries across Europe of a prolonged leadership vacuum in the continent?s economic powerhouse. The Social Democrats (SPD) have governed in coalition under Merkel since 2013. But leader Martin Schulz said the party must heed the will of voters by going into opposition after achieving its worst result of the postwar period in the Sept. 24 election. Pressure is growing on the party to revisit his decision, either by agreeing to prop up a conservative-led minority government by not voting against it, or by forming a renewed coalition. In either case, the position of Schulz as party leader could become untenable. If changing course and teaming up with the conservatives requires a change of leadership at the SPD, that would be unlikely before a party conference on Dec. 7-9. Schulz held a lengthy meeting with President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a former SPD lawmaker and foreign minister, on Thursday afternoon before heading to party headquarters to consult senior party members. Steinmeier is trying to help facilitate a coalition government and avoid fresh elections. ?We will talk about if and how one can get a federal government in Germany,? a senior SPD member said ahead of the meeting, adding that one option on the table was to support Merkel only indirectly by not blocking a minority government. But Stephan Weil, the SPD premier of the state of Lower Saxony, one of the party?s most influential figures after he defied polls by winning re-election this year, implied a full coalition would preferable to a minority government. ?Minority governments are fragile constructs,? he told the RND newspaper consortium. The SPD had to chart a path between a party rank-and-file reluctant to repeat the bruising experience of a grand coalition and its democratic obligations. ?Everyone understands that the stakes are high, involving the stability of an extremely important member of the European Union,? he added. Volker Kauder, leader of the conservative parliamentary group and a key ally Merkel ally, echoed the sentiment, calling for the grand coalition to be reprised. WAITING FOR AN ANSWER ?Europe is waiting for a Germany capable of acting so that it can finally respond to the questions raised by French President (Emmanuel) Macron,? he said, referring to Macron?s call for fiscal reforms to strengthen the euro zone. Germany, the world?s fourth largest economy, has long been a bastion of stability in the EU, and officials in Brussels and Paris fear months of political uncertainty could harm plans to reform euro zone governance and EU defence and asylum policies. Merkel, who remains acting chancellor until a new government is agreed, has said she would prefer to work with the SPD, but if that option fails, she would favour new elections over an unstable minority government. Another election would also provide no speedy resolution. Under Germany?s constitution, the president could call another election only after Merkel had lost several votes in the Bundestag -- a process that could take several months. The mass-circulation Bild newspaper reported on Wednesday that 30 members of the SPD?s 153-strong parliamentary group this week had questioned Schulz?s preference for going into opposition during a meeting of the parliamentary party. Speaking to ZDF television on Thursday, SPD deputy leader Karl Lauterbach said his party might have to rethink its opposition to another ?grand coalition?, but added he was still sceptical about joining one led by Merkel. The SPD supports Macron?s proposal to give the euro zone the power to spend money to protect members of the single currency bloc against external shocks. If the SPD changes tack about a ?grand coalition?, however, the leader of Merkel?s sister party in the state of Bavaria, the Christian Social Union (CSU), said on Thursday it should not expect the conservatives to grant any significant concessions. ?We can?t be blackmailed,? said Horst Seehofer, who is himself fighting to hang on as CSU leader in the face of internal opposition.
  21. German police presents stolen diaries and other items belonging to former Beatle John Lennon that were recovered, during a news conference in Berlin, Germany. Photo: Reuters BERLIN: German police presented on Tuesday diaries, pairs of glasses and other items belonging to late Beatle John Lennon that were stolen from his widow Yoko Ono in 2006 and eventually ended up in Berlin. Police arrested a man in Berlin on Monday suspected of receiving the 86 stolen items, which include Lennon?s last diary that ended on the day he was shot and killed in New York on December 8, 1980. ?This day contains the entry that on that morning John Lennon and Yoko Ono had an appointment with Annie Leibovitz to take a photo which I think is world famous,? Berlin prosecutor Michael von Hagen told a news conference. The Leibovitz portrait of a naked Lennon curled up around Ono on their bed ran on the January 1981 cover of Rolling Stone magazine. Hagen rejected suggestions that Ono might have lent or given away the objects: ?The diaries especially ... were also treated by Yoko Ono as something sacred. And the idea that she would have given away three original diaries, especially the one that ends on the very day Lennon died, can be completely ruled out.? Beatles for sale: German police recover John Lennon diaries The items were stolen from Lennon?s widow Yoko Ono in New York in 2006 Carsten Pfohl, head of property crime for Berlin police, said investigators had found one of the pairs of glasses and a receipt in Lennon?s name hidden in the trunk of the car of the accused on Monday. Police suspect that the items were stolen by Ono?s former driver and then taken to Turkey and were only brought to Berlin in 2013 or 2014. Another suspect lives in Turkey, they said. The Berlin police was alerted after they were found by the administrator for a bankrupt auction house, which had previously valued the objects at 3.1 million euros ($3.64 million). ($1 = 0.8519 euros)
  22. German police on Monday arrested a 58-year-old man in Berlin on suspicion of handling stolen items from John Lennon?s estate, including the late Beatle?s diaries. Photo: AFP file BERLIN: German police on Monday arrested a 58-year-old man in Berlin on suspicion of handling stolen items from John Lennon?s estate, including the late Beatle?s diaries. The items were stolen from Lennon?s widow Yoko Ono in New York in 2006 and have been seized as evidence, Martin Steltner, a spokesman for the Berlin prosecutor?s office, said. The unidentified man was taken into custody suspected of fraud and handling stolen goods. A second suspect, who lives in Turkey, ?is unattainable for us at the present time,? Steltner said in a recorded statement posted on Twitter. The stolen goods consisted of ?various items from the estate of John Lennon, including several diaries that were written by him,? Steltner added. The items resurfaced in the German capital about three years ago. They were confiscated this year as part of the investigation and it is unclear when they will be returned to the estate. ?The release of the seized evidence cannot yet be decided,? Steltner said. Lennon, who along with Paul McCartney penned some of the Fab Four?s biggest hits including ?Help? and ?With a Little Help from My Friends?, was shot dead by a troubled fan in New York in 1980. His possessions have since become collectors? items. A leather jacket supposedly worn by Lennon sold for £10,400 (11,700 euros; $13,800) at an auction in England in February.
  23. Germany?s would-be coalition partners appeared to have reached an impasse over immigration policy as a self-imposed Sunday evening deadline for agreeing the outlines of a government programme passed with no deal. A deadline of 1700 GMT passed with no announcement being made, suggesting Chancellor Angela Merkel?s conservatives, the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) and the Greens had been unable to agree the painful compromises needed to wrap up talks, which appear set to continue. The reluctant partners were forced to pursue the three-way tie-up, untested at national level, by voters who deserted the main parties of left and right in a September election, returning a highly fragmented parliament. Failure could precipitate Germany?s worst political crisis in decades, since the Social Democrats (SPD) have already said they intend to go into opposition after coming second. Options include new elections or a minority government, unprecedented in the country?s post-war history. ?Everyone has to take a success back home,? said Julia Kloeckner, deputy chair of Merkel?s Christian Democrats (CDU), highlighting the difficulty of compromise. ?People must ask themselves if they are prepared for this to fail over details.? The tie-up represents Merkel?s only realistic chance of securing a fourth term. But the FDP, freshly returned to parliament after four years in the wilderness, and the Greens, out of power for 12 years, are reluctant to put their hard-won return at risk by alienating their rank-and-file. ?The FDP is now waiting for the Greens and the conservatives to see how far they are prepared to go and if we can then look each other in the eye,? said Greens chairwoman Nicola Beer, suggesting it was now for the others to make concessions. For Merkel?s own arch-conservative allies in Bavaria?s Christian Social Union (CSU), the stakes are existential. The CSU fears that a failure to secure an immigration cap could fuel a far-right surge in a regional election next year, perhaps even unseating the CSU after 60 years in power. While the FDP continues to demand tax cuts, the trickiest sticking point concerns immigration, where the CSU insists on capping new arrivals at 200,000 a year. The cap is opposed by the Greens, who also want to preserve a rule allowing successful asylum seekers to bring family members to join them - though the CDU?s Kloeckner implored the Greens to acknowledge this as only a ?subsidiary right?. Failure to reach a deal could lead to a new election, something all the parties are anxious to avoid as they fear this could lead to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) making further gains after surging into parliament in September.
  24. Germany?s three would-be coalition partners went deep into overtime in talks on Saturday as they sought enough common ground in climate and migration policy to form a government and stave off the prospect of a repeat election. Incumbent chancellor Angela Merkel?s only realistic hope of securing a fourth term after suffering losses in September?s election is an awkward three-way conservative-liberal-Green alliance. But after four weeks of talks, the parties remained far apart as they adjourned for the night. The biggest sticking points are climate change, where the Greens want emissions cuts that the other parties see as economically ruinous, and immigration, where Merkel?s arch-conservative allies in Bavaria insist on stricter rules. With the pro-business, tax-cutting Free Democrat (FDP) liberals freshly returned to parliament after four years in the wilderness, and the Greens out of office for 12 years, neither is keen to give ground. A self-imposed deadline of Thursday for wrapping up exploratory talks and starting formal coalition negotiations passed without agreement, forcing the conservatives to promise further concessions on emissions cuts to the Greens. FDP leader Christian Lindner said the talks now had to be wrapped up by 1700 GMT on Sunday. But President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a former foreign minister who now plays an apolitical role, said brinkmanship was to be expected. ?Before the formal talks start, there are always attempts by parties to drive prices up,? he told the weekly Welt am Sonntag. ?What we?ve seen in the past weeks isn?t so different from previous coalition negotiations.? WIDE DIVISIONS Greens chairwoman Simone Peter said much that had earlier been agreed on emissions policy had been undone, without giving details. Bavaria?s Christian Social Union (CSU) faces regional state elections next year, and fears the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) could unseat it after 60 years if it fails to secure tough immigration rules - which are anathema to the left-leaning Greens. Among its demands are a cap of 200,000 per year on the number of refugees Germany will take, and an end to the practice of allowing successful asylum seekers to bring their immediate families to join them. All parties are anxious to avoid a repeat election, which they fear could boost the AfD, which surged into parliament for the first time in September?s national election. But the heterogeneous three-way coalition, made necessary after the conservatives and the centre-left suffered punishing election losses, is untested at national level.
  25. A coal power plant is seen during a thunderstorm in the western city of Weisweiler, Germany, June 9, 2014. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender/Files BERLIN: Environmental policy dominated negotiations on forming a new German coalition on Monday, as the Greens pushed their would-be partners for a quicker exit from coal power. Chancellor Angela Merkel?s conservatives, who lost seats in last month?s election, hope a deal with the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) and the Greens will keep her in office, but the unlikely partners are far apart on a host of issues. Merkel urged party leaders at the weekend to show more willingness to compromise after three weeks of exploratory talks also failed to paper over differences pertaining to transport, immigration, and eurozone governance. ?What?s lying on the table isn?t enough for us,? said Greens chairwoman Simone Peter in response to a suggestion by the two other camps that 10 coal-fired power stations be shuttered. The Greens are holding out for carbon dioxide emissions cuts that would require the closing of 20 coal plants. Earlier, a discussion paper seen by Reuters showed that the two more pro-business partners wanted to cut coal power by 3-5 gigawatts by 2020. The ecologists wanted an 8-10 gigawatt cut. Peter told reporters that the Greens disagreed on the size of cuts in carbon dioxide emissions that were needed by 2020. The conservatives and the FDP believed cuts of up to 66 million tonnes were needed by 2020, while the Greens believed cuts of up to 120 million could be needed.