Skip directly to content

World News [External Sources]

Angela Merkel leads ceremony marking 30th anniversary the fall of the Berlin Wall

Yahoo World News Feed - November 9, 2019 - 11:39am

Leaders from Germany, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic attended a Saturday ceremony in Berlin honoring the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which is viewed as one of the pivotal moments in the final stages of the Cold War. The leaders placed roses along the remnants of the barrier that once divided the city between the communist east and capitalist west."The Berlin Wall, ladies and gentleman, is history," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said. "It teaches us: No wall that keeps people out and restricts freedom is so high or so wide that it can't be broken down."> WATCH: German Chancellor Angela Merkel lights a candle at the Berlin Wall memorial to mark the 30th anniversary of the fall pic.twitter.com/t0dCC5zhGj> > -- Bloomberg TicToc (@tictoc) November 9, 2019President Trump congratulated Germany on the anniversary, saluting the "courageous men and women from both East and West Germany" who united to "tear down a wall that stood as a symbol of oppression."But Nov. 9 is not a gleaming day in German history, despite the fall of the wall. It is also the anniversary of Kristallnacht, or the Night of the Broken Glass, in which Nazi paramilitaries carried out a pogrom against Jewish citizens in 1938. And in 1923, Adolf Hitler led the "Beer Hall Putsch," a failed coup attempt against the Weimar Republic. Those anniversaries, coupled with the rise of far right parties in the country, have some German citizens feeling reflective, rather than celebratory this year, The Guardian reports. Read more at The Associated Press and The Guardian.More stories from theweek.com Schiff rejects GOP requests for Hunter Biden, whistleblower to testify The return of honor politics Someone made a font out of gerrymandered congressional districts


Lebanese banks urge calm amid financial crisis, protests

Yahoo World News Feed - November 9, 2019 - 11:20am

The country's financial troubles have worsened since nationwide protests — initially against new taxes — snowballed into calls for the entire political elite to step down. Banks reopened Nov. 1 after a two-week closure amid the protests. The announcement by Salim Sfeir, chairman of the Association of Banks in Lebanon, came after a two-hour meeting between President Michel Aoun, several Cabinet ministers and top banking officials in search of solutions for Lebanon's deepening financial and economic crisis.


Germany urges US to reject 'egoism' in veiled swipe at Trump on Berlin wall anniversary

Yahoo World News Feed - November 9, 2019 - 9:52am

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier urged the United States to be a "mutually respectful partner" and reject nationalism, in a clear salvo aimed at US leader Donald Trump as Germany on Saturday marked 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Recalling the United States' key role in helping to bring down the hated Wall separating communist East Germany from the capitalist West, Steinmeier said he still hears the late American president Ronald Reagan's cry of "tear down this wall" at the iconic Brandenburg Gate. But in a swipe at Trump's America First policy and his insistence on building a wall on the southern border with Mexico, Steinmeier voiced a yearning for a return of the transatlantic partner of the past. "This America as a mutually respectful partner, as a partner for democracy and freedom, against national egoism - that is what I hope for in the future too," said Steinmeier. The German president's sharp words, as he opened festivities at the spot where Reagan once stood, underlined growing tensions between the traditional allies. In November 1989 thousands of young East Berliners crowded on top of the Berlin Wall, near the Brandenburg Gate  Credit: Gerard Malie/AFP Germany has been deeply rattled by Trump's go-it-alone attitude on issues ranging from Iranian nuclear policy to trade with Europe and climate change. From Washington, Trump sent a message of congratulations for the commemoration, adding that the US "will continue working with Germany, one of our most treasured allies, to ensure that the flames of freedom burn as a beacon of hope and opportunity for the entire world to see." At a solemn ceremony in a church standing on the former "death strip" that divided Berlin, Chancellor Angela Merkel, who grew up in East Germany, called on Europe to defend democracy and freedom, warning that such gains must not be taken for granted. The Berlin Wall reminds "us that we have to do our part for freedom and democracy," said Merkel. "The values upon which Europe is founded... they are anything but self-evident. And they must always be lived out and defended anew," she told guests from across the continent.


Germany, allies mark 30 years since Berlin Wall fell

Yahoo World News Feed - November 9, 2019 - 9:40am

Germany marked the 30th anniversary Saturday of the opening of the Berlin Wall, a pivotal moment in the events that brought down Communism in eastern Europe. Leaders from Germany, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic attended a ceremony at Bernauer Strasse — where one of the last parts of the Berlin Wall remains — before placing roses in the once-fearsome barrier that divided the city for 28 years. "The Berlin Wall, ladies and gentlemen, is history," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said later at a memorial service inside a small chapel near where the Wall once stood.


Egypt officials: 2 security forces killed in Sinai blast

Yahoo World News Feed - November 9, 2019 - 9:23am

EL-ARISH, Egypt (AP) — Egyptian officials said a roadside bomb has killed two members of the security forces on Saturday in the restive northern Sinai province. The explosion hit their armored vehicle in Rafah, a town on the border with the Gaza Strip. Two other security force members were wounded.


Merkel Champions Democracy as Germany Marks Wall Anniversary

Yahoo World News Feed - November 9, 2019 - 9:13am

(Bloomberg) -- Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Europe to fight harder for its values as Germany marked 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall on Saturday.“The values on which Europe is based -- freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law, safeguarding human rights -- these are anything but self-evident,” Merkel, who grew up in communist East Germany, said in a speech at the wall memorial in the center of the once-divided capital.“They must be experienced and defended anew again and again,” said the 65-year-old. “In times of far-reaching technological and global change, this is more relevant than ever.”German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Bundestag President Wolfgang Schaeuble and heads of state from Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic also attended the ceremony.“The Berlin Wall is gone and that teaches us that no wall that excludes people and restricts freedom is so high or so wide that it cannot be broken through,” Merkel said.U.S. President Donald Trump said the fate of the wall should be “a lesson to oppressive regimes and rulers everywhere.”“The Cold War has long since passed, but tyrannical regimes around the world continue to employ the oppressive tactics of Soviet-style totalitarianism,” Trump said in a statement released by the White House.“We will continue working with Germany, one of our most treasured allies, to ensure that the flames of freedom burn as a beacon of hope and opportunity for the entire world to see.”(Adds Trump comments from sixth paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Iain Rogers in Berlin at irogers11@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Chad Thomas at cthomas16@bloomberg.net, Marion Dakers, James AmottFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Iraqi security: 4 protesters killed more than 100 wounded

Yahoo World News Feed - November 9, 2019 - 8:59am

Iraqi security forces fired live ammunition at anti-government protesters in central Baghdad on Saturday, killing four and wounding more than 100 others, medical and security officials said. The deaths came hours after security forces cleared three flashpoint bridges of protesters, using stun grenades and tear gas amid heavy clashes. Protesters have tried to force their way across on an almost daily basis.


The Latest: Iraq officials: 4 protesters killed, 100 wounded

Yahoo World News Feed - November 9, 2019 - 8:33am

Iraqi medical and security officials say four anti-government protesters were killed and 108 wounded in the capital Baghdad. The officials said the deaths and injuries occurred Saturday afternoon when protests intensified in Baghdad after security forces cleared three main bridges over the Tigris river. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, say three protesters were shot dead while the fourth was killed by a tear gas canister that hit him in the head.


GOP Unveils Wild Wishlist of Impeachment Witnesses Including Hunter Biden and the Whistleblower

Yahoo World News Feed - November 9, 2019 - 8:08am

Jonathan Ernst/ReutersRepublicans on House Intelligence Committee unveiled their wishlist for impeachment witnesses on Saturday rolling out a group that appears to be more about pushing far-right conspiracy theory talking points than actually investigating Donald Trump’s interactions with Ukraine. The list, which Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee handling the impeachment are only required to take as a suggestion, appears to be aimed at reviving old Fox News storylines from the Robert Mueller investigation, including allegations that the Ukrainian government interfered in the 2016 election. For example, Republicans want to call Nellie Ohr, whose job at opposition research firm Fusion GPS and marriage to a Justice Department official made her the subject of fevered speculation on the right during the Mueller investigation. Republicans claim that interviewing Ohr buttresses their claims that Trump’s request for the Ukrainian government to investigate the United States’ 2016 presidential was legitimate and not an effort to dig up dirt on Democrats.“Given President Trump’s documented belief that the Ukrainian government meddled in the 2016 election to oppose his candidacy, which forms the basis for a reasonable desire for Ukraine to investigate the circumstances surrounding the election and any potential Ukrainian involvement, Ms. Ohr is a prime fact witness who can assist Congress and the American public in better understanding the facts and circumstances surrounding Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 election,” the letter reads.Inside the Republican Plan to Deep-Six the Trump Impeachment HearingsThe witness list is the latest GOP move to bolster Trump ahead of the first public impeachment hearing on Nov. 13. Earlier this week, Republicans moved famously combative Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) to the intelligence committee this week in an apparent effort to boost Trump’s impeachment defense on the committee.Other witnesses Republicans want to call include former Democratic National Committee staffer Alexandra Chalupa, who figures prominently in right-wing conspiracy theories about Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election. Chalupa has denied collecting opposition research for the DNC. Republicans also want to interview Hunter Biden, former Vice President Joe Biden’s son. Trump’s attempt to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate the younger Biden’s seat on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma have played a key role in the Democrats’ investigation into Trump and Ukraine. But Republicans say that interviewing Biden and former Burisma board member Devon Archer will help them understand “Ukraine’s pervasive corruption”—a talking point popular with Russian President Vladimir Putin.“Mr. Biden’s firsthand experiences with Burisma can assist the American public in understanding the nature and extent of Ukraine’s pervasive corruption, information that bears directly on President Trump’s longstanding and deeply-held skepticism of the country,” the letter reads.Republicans also want to interview the anonymous whistleblower whose complaint about Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky led to the investigation. Additionally, Republicans want anyone involved in the drafting of the whistleblower complaint to be called, alluding to right-wing claims that the whistleblower complaint was orchestrated by anti-Trump forces.“It is imperative that the American people hear definitively how the whistleblower developed his or her information, and who else the whistleblower may have fed the information he or she had gathered and how that treatment of classified information may have led to the false narrative being perpetrated by the Democrats during this process,” the letter reads. While Democrats have said they’ll only consider Republican witness requests, Republican Ranking Member Devin Nunes, of California, claimed in the letter that refusing to request the witnesses Republicans want would mean denying Trump “fundamental fairness.”“Your failure to fulfill Minority witness requests shall constitute evidence of your denial of fundamental fairness and due process,” Nunes wrote.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.


Egypt says inflation drops to 2.4%, lowest in 2 decades

Yahoo World News Feed - November 9, 2019 - 8:01am

Egypt says its annual inflation rate dropped to its lowest in nearly two decades, down to 2.4% in October from 4.3% the previous month. The figures, announced Saturday by the state statistics bureau, were driven by a decline in food and beverages prices. Khaled el-Sayed, who heads the bureau's statistics department, tells The Associated Press that the Oct. 2019 rate was the lowest since the year 2000.


Report: Heavy fighting between Syrian and Turkish troops

Yahoo World News Feed - November 9, 2019 - 7:38am

Intense clashes broke out Saturday between Syrian government troops and Turkish-led forces in northeast Syria, the country's state media and an opposition war monitor reported. Several people were injured, including a cameraman for state-run Syrian TV, according to both SANA and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The Observatory and Kurdish news agency Hawar said a Syrian major general and a colonel were also wounded.


Pompeo slams Iran 'intimidation' of IAEA inspector as 'outrageous'

Yahoo World News Feed - November 9, 2019 - 7:36am

The top US diplomat said Iran "detained" the inspector, who the International Atomic Energy Agency has said had been briefly prevented from leaving Iran. Iran said Thursday it had cancelled the inspector's accreditation after she triggered an alarm last week at the entrance to the Natanz uranium enrichment plant. The alarm during a check at the entrance to the plant in central Iran had raised concerns that she could be carrying a "suspect product" on her, Iran's Atomic Energy Organization said in a statement posted online.


Merkel Successor Hit by Fresh Poll Blow as Party Congress Looms

Yahoo World News Feed - November 9, 2019 - 6:53am

(Bloomberg) -- Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer’s chances of succeeding her mentor Angela Merkel as German chancellor took another hit Saturday as she scored poorly against potential rivals in a poll.Less than a year after picking Kramp-Karrenbauer to head the CDU, consensus is building among party officials that she’s not suited for the top job, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg earlier this week. The Christian Democrats, who also saw dwindling support in Saturday’s survey, face the prospect of an open power struggle at the party’s national convention starting on Nov. 22 in Leipzig.The party lost two percentage points from the previous week to reach 26% support in the latest Forsa poll for RTL/n-tv, with the Greens gaining one point to 21%. The embattled Social Democrats, Merkel’s junior coalition partners, remained stuck on 13%, level with the far-right AfD party.Only 13% said they backed Kramp-Karrenbauer for chancellor in a head-to-head with Social Democrat Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, who scored 34%. Against Greens co-leader Robert Habeck, she scored 14% to his 31%.While Kramp-Karrenbauer, who is also defense minister, was popular in her home state of Saarland, she has struggled to connect with voters on the national stage.Basic PensionOriginally, the CDU planned to nominate its chancellor candidate next year ahead of the election scheduled for late 2021. But if the Social Democrats decide to leave the coalition earlier, the party may be forced to pick a candidate by the end of 2019.In an Emnid survey last week over who would be the best CDU candidate, Kramp-Karrenbauer’s support was 19% compared with 31% for Friedrich Merz, who narrowly lost to her in the CDU leadership vote last December.Coalition negotiations on a basic pension are a key test of relations and leaders are due to meet Sunday in Berlin to try and hammer out a deal. If the SPD fails to push through its plan for minimum retirement benefits, it could hasten the government’s collapse.Forsa polled 2,501 people Nov. 4-8 and the survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 points.To contact the reporter on this story: Iain Rogers in Berlin at irogers11@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Chad Thomas at cthomas16@bloomberg.net, Marion Dakers, Namitha JagadeeshFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Iran says prepared to show footage of inspector incident

Yahoo World News Feed - November 9, 2019 - 4:50am

Iran said Saturday it is prepared if necessary to release footage of an incident with a UN nuclear inspector last week that led to it cancelling her accreditation. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Iran of "an outrageous and unwarranted act of intimidation," while the European Union voiced "deep concern". Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said that a check at the entrance gate to the Natanz uranium enrichment plant "triggered the alarm multiple times, showing (the inspector) was either contaminated with certain materials or had them on her".


Iran defends its decision to block UN atomic inspector

Yahoo World News Feed - November 9, 2019 - 4:43am

Iran defended on Saturday its decision to block an U.N. inspector from a nuclear site last week. A spokesman for Iran's atomic agency, Behrouz Kamalvandi, said that the Iranian government "legally speaking" had done nothing wrong in stopping the female inspector from touring its Natanz nuclear facility on Oct. 28. Iran alleges the inspector tested positive for suspected traces of explosive nitrates.


Germany celebrates 30th anniversary of Berlin Wall's fall

Yahoo World News Feed - November 9, 2019 - 4:22am

Germany on Saturday marked the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall that separated East and West Germany, with President Frank-Walter Steinmeier thanking Eastern European neighbours for enabling a peaceful revolution. The toppling of the wall, which had divided the Communist-ruled East and the capitalist West in Berlin for nearly three decades and became a potent symbol of the Cold War, was followed a year later by the reunification of Germany in 1990. "Together with our friends, we remember with deep gratitude the events 30 years ago," Steinmeier said during a ceremony at the Bernauer Strasse Berlin Wall Memorial, which was also attended by Chancellor Angela Merkel and heads of state from Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.


Inside Russia’s Shady Seduction Schools, Where Desperate Women Learn How to Lure Rich Men

Yahoo World News Feed - November 9, 2019 - 3:25am

DOCNYCAccording to School of Seduction, working-class women have few options in patriarchal Russia, and all of them involve finding a man. To aid young ladies in that quest, there are seduction schools where they can learn the timeless art of bumping, grinding and butt-wiggling their way into a prospective partner’s heart and pants—in particular, the pocket where he keeps his wallet.Focused on a trio of women navigating this warped and sexist landscape, Alina Rudnitskaya’s documentary (premiering on Nov. 9 at the DOC NYC festival) is an eye-opening snapshot of gender dynamics in modern Russia. Praised by President Vladimir Putin as a place where “a man is a man and a woman is a woman,” it’s a country that instills in its female population the belief that independence is a pathway to ostracization and sorrow, and that marriage and parenthood is the primary means by which happiness can be attained. As a result, there can be no greater aim than to land a man willing to put a literal ring on it—regardless of whether love is also part of the matrimonial package.That’s where the schools of seduction come in. In crowded classrooms, scores of women dressed in underwear and revealing outfits follow the instructions of a middle-aged male teacher who guides them through exercises in which they must bend over a chair in order to receive some rear-end grinding, wiggle their asses in the air, and participate in dance routines where they’re grabbed by the neck and thrashed about, crotch-to-crotch, in a display of intense macho attention (the more violent, the more genuine, apparently). The overarching lesson is clear: self-worth only comes from the interest of a man, and women should use whatever sexual tools they have at their disposal to catch one. With a shamelessness that’s almost as startling as its chauvinism, the program strives to turn women into veritable Venus flytraps.Alex Gibney: How Donald Trump Is Morphing Into Vladimir PutinThe Russian Sleazeball Peddling Girls to BillionairesThe first of Rudnitskaya’s subjects, Lida, isn’t especially gung ho about the shady methods promoted by the School of Seduction. However, stuck living with a mother she can’t stand, and mired in a relationship with a married man, Sergei, who’s initially unwilling to leave his wife for her, she has few alternatives. Lida blames her problems on the fact that she “never had an example of a good family.” Still, TV and radio broadcasts that play intermittently throughout School of Seduction—providing macro context for the micro action at hand—suggest that the root cause of her predicament is the widely disseminated and accepted notion that women aren’t whole unless they’re the subservient half of a marital couple. That concept is backed by the school itself, where Lida nods in agreement as her teacher states that men want women to have brains in a business context but in other things, “no one needs them.”Lida’s subsequent marriage to Sergei and—four years later—dreary housewife existence with a daughter proves the lie that domesticity guarantees bliss. On the contrary, Rudnitskaya’s clear-eyed vérité gaze reveals that, in these circumstances, it just brings about marginalization (once a professional, Lida now cooks and cleans), victimization (she suspects Sergei is cheating on her), and crushing displeasure. Unhappiness similarly plagues Vika, a student trapped in a loveless union with husband Denis, with whom she’s opened a lingerie shop. Vika admits to her therapist that she wants to leave Denis but fears being lonely and scorned by her peers. Meanwhile, she only feels truly alive (and on “fire!”) when partaking in hypersexualized dance classes at the school.Economics play a significant factor in both Lida and Vika’s cases. Aware that they can’t earn as much as their male counterparts, and endlessly told that marriage is the end “goal” (as Vika’s mom outright states to her), Russian women are socially conditioned to feel bad for having independent desires—even though marriage itself, forged out of convenience and necessity more than love, is often a one-way ticket to regret, resentment and despair. Images of Lida’s daughter prancing around in her mother’s high heels underline the inherited corrosiveness of such an ideology, where sexual attractiveness is celebrated above all other qualities, because it’s what allows women to conform to their prescribed (if frequently unrewarding) role as dutiful wives and mothers.School of Seduction most strikingly addresses the consequences of Russia’s misogyny via Diana, a young single mother introduced being chastised by Vika for her schoolgirl outfit and blonde pigtails (which Vika says would, if she wore it, make her “feel like a prostitute”). While that dig may be unduly nasty, there’s some truth to the idea that Diana—and those like her—are intent on selling themselves as sexual objects in direct exchange for financial support. Diana is depicted turning down a boyfriend because he can’t offer her the apartment and money she bluntly claims she requires. And she eventually marries an author who gives her those very things, and yet still fails to satisfy her, as illustrated by her attempt, six years later at a gala ball, to accept a stranger’s offer to take her on vacation sans husband.In late scenes of Diana attending an etiquette school where she dresses in regal gowns and performs a scene from the Nicole Kidman-headlined Grace of Monaco, Rudnitskaya’s film provides a candid view of the brainwashing that’s been perpetrated against these women, all of whom have been led to believe that they can achieve their “fairy tale” by becoming appealing enough to nab a suitor. School of Seduction incisively exposes that idea as a carefully-constructed trap designed to keep them in their place as material “decorations,” striving for emotional fulfillment they can’t possibly attain, and then forced to settle for whatever affection and support they ultimately receive from their less-than-well-suited mates.The fundamental futility of this paradigm is finally expressed by Diana’s son Sascha, who at film’s conclusion tells his mom that, no matter how hard she tries to be cheerily elegant, “your attitude changes” when the camera is off and no one is looking. In Russia, women may be trained to think that securing lifelong joy comes from transforming themselves into sexual temptresses or majestic queens. Yet as School of Seduction illustrates, both reductive guises only lead, in the end, to the same old everyday misery.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.


The Night the Cold War World Turned Upside Down

Yahoo World News Feed - November 9, 2019 - 3:23am

Gerardy Malie/GettyThe scene was Potsdamer Platz in the heart of divided Berlin at about 5 a.m. on Nov. 12, 1989. On the far side of the Wall that had become the quintessential symbol of Moscow’s brutal domination in Eastern Europe the first hint of dawn was breaking.I’ve always thought I remembered it well, but it’s been a long time.Floodlights had been brought in on the western side, the free side, where U.S. President Ronald Reagan had stood more than two years before and called on the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.” But it had stood until this moment, and it was covered with the graffiti of anger, of despair, of hope, messages on top of messages. Someone had written “Free Estonia” with a rough outline of that captive Baltic republic. On top of that, someone else had drawn a bold equation: the hammer and sickle = the swastika.The first breaches in the infamous barrier that symbolized so perfectly the Iron Curtain had come a couple of days before, but they were more a matter of gates opening than walls falling. Berlin was still divided, West Berlin was still a sealed-off island of freedom in the heart of oppressive East Germany. But we had heard that the communists were going to open up a passage here in Potsdamer Platz—truly open up the city—so we waited in freezing air that was filled with our vaporizing breaths and expectations and, every so often, a spray of sparkling wine. The top of a small crane appeared on the East German side and we could see men in uniforms attaching it to a segment of the Wall. Sparks flew as acetylene torches burned through the rebar holding the pieces together. The crowd waited, and chanted, and waited.* * *Two and a half days earlier, on Nov. 9, 1989, thanks in part to a fumbled press statement by the spokesman for the East German government, the narrow checkpoints long manned by fearsome guards had suddenly opened up, and the people of the East, trapped for so long, had started flooding through. Grim-faced border guards began to smile. Some ripped the insignia off their uniforms. Was it all ending? Was their long captivity over? People started driving their sputtering East German Trabant cars into the land of BMW and Mercedes. Young men climbed the wall to dominate it and beat it, sometimes pounding it with their fists as if they could break it apart with their bare hands.Prize-winning photographs by my friends, the great photographers David Turnley and Peter Turnley, convey the emotions of those days as well as anything I have ever seen. But nobody knew how long the moment would last. Could the checkpoints close again? Would new guards be brought in to reimpose the Soviet communist order? Whether for good or evil, anything seemed possible. I had arrived late to the party, flying in from Paris on Friday, Nov. 10, but through the weekend, day and night, I did not sleep and neither did the city. For our team of Newsweek magazine reporters and photographers, there was a blur of logistics and filing issues. Media were flooding to the Wall, the major networks built stages in front it, famous anchors were flying in. But by the night of the 11th, with our magazine deadlines past, there was a chance to explore.Under a full moon, with my fellow Newsweek correspondent Karen Breslau as a guide, we walked in the Tiergarten, following the path that the Wall cut through the park. A blind man could have done the same, just listening to the noise of picks and hammers and screwdrivers as people chipped away at the barrier. They were not looking for souvenirs that night, they were looking to break into the prison of East Berlin, to tear it down like a vast Bastille, hammering at the idea of the Wall. But it resisted. It would not give way.We went to Checkpoint Charlie, made famous in countless Cold War spy movies as the entrance for foreigners passing from what was once the American zone into what had remained, essentially, the Russian zone of the city. We just walked through. On the western side, and even on top of the Wall, the mood was riotous, a dance of shadows backlit by the television lights. But in the east there hung in the air, still, a menacing stillness.So much had happened so quickly, and so much was left unresolved.* * *Slightly more than half of the world’s population today was not yet born in November 1989, and even those who were 10 or 15 years old at the time have no idea, really, what the Cold War was like for people on both sides of that great divide. Some of the recent binge fare on television gives an inkling. Chernobyl, about the nuclear disaster in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in April 1986, is a devastating and largely accurate picture of the stultifying, ultimately self-destructive qualities of Soviet communism. The Polish film Cold War is a love story set against a more subtle but equally enervating and ominous background. The Americans is full of evocative anachronisms, but The Lives of Others (2006) is a more realistic portrayal of the way the police state of the KGB and the East German Stasi insinuated themselves into every aspect of life and love. Even in the faraway United States, whole generations grew up in a Strangelovian world of nuclear confrontation, an anxious peace based on the idea that humans could stumble into an apocalypse as the governments of the West and of the Soviet Union pursued policies under the rubric MAD, for Mutually Assured Destruction. Berlin was always at the center of it.* * *At the end of World War II, Europe had been divided between the Allied forces coalescing as NATO and the Soviets under Joseph Stalin. Defeated Germany was split between East and West, and Berlin itself partitioned. In the summer of 1948, Stalin imposed a blockade to try to bring the Allied-occupied part of the city to its knees, but the United States responded with a massive airlift that lasted almost a year, before, finally, a secure land corridor was opened. That was the good news. The bad news: later that same summer, the Soviets exploded their first nuclear weapon and the race toward MAD began.Men and women now in their sixties and seventies grew up drilling in schools to survive nuclear attacks by hiding under their desks in the improbable hope that it might help them make it through the first blast, then rushing into well-marked fallout shelters where they were told they might be able to live for weeks or months underground protected from radioactive dust. In fact, the generation now quaintly dubbed “boomers” grew up thinking the entire planet could be blown straight to hell. When the East Germans first started building the Berlin Wall in August 1961 to keep their people from crossing to the West, the sense of crisis, echoing the earlier blockade, was enormous and a huge test for the new U.S. administration of President John F. Kennedy. It came just four months after the abortive Bay of Pigs attempt to overthrow the Soviet-backed regime of Fidel Castro and was part of a succession of aggressive tests by the Soviets that seemed to have the world on the brink of destruction. The omens of apocalypse culminated in the crisis of October 1962 when Kennedy confronted the Russians over nuclear missiles placed in Cuba. Remarkably, the Soviets backed down in public in exchange for certain assurances Kennedy made in private and the world stepped back from assured destruction. But it was not until the summer of 1963 that Kennedy went to West Germany and then to West Berlin. In a kind of victory lap, he declared, “All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words ‘Ich bin ein Berliner.’” I am a Berliner.1989 was 26 years later and mutually assured destruction had given way to gradual efforts at arms control, but the threat remained, and despite the invocation of Reagan (who was consciously trying to build on Kennedy’s speech), the Wall remained.That weekend in November, we did not know for certain if the world of the Cold War was ending, but we could feel it being turned upside down. The Soviet Union’s grip on Europe had been loosening for months, and now the harshest of its satellites seemed to have lost control completely.* * *Through the many years since then, certain images and moments have come back to me often. But I made no pictures and took few notes at the time, thinking foolishly that such an experience would live forever in my memory. But I know too much now about how we remember things to be confident that what has stayed with me as recollection and anecdote has real validity as fact. We imagine history more often than we remember it.Sometimes I wonder how Vladimir Putin, a Soviet KGB officer serving in East Germany at that time, imagines what happened that weekend in November. Everything suggests he has twisted it into a vast plot by nefarious Western governments, and in the 20 years he has ruled the remnants of the Soviet Union, now called the Russian Federation, he has devoted his cunning and intelligence to rebuilding the old empire, reviving the Cold War, challenging successive American administrations until, in the present one, he found a friend and, often, an advocate.None of that could be foreseen in 1989 or even in the first few years that followed, although there were hints. Americans are dangerously careless about the dignity of those they defeat, and so it was with Russia, where some sentiment of revindication and revenge was inevitable. In societies where “free enterprise” had been deemed a crime, as one East European businessman long exiled in the West told me, it was like girls in a strict boarding school suddenly discovering they could kiss a boy and the sky would not fall, so why not go all the way? Democracy was an alien ideal, kleptocracy became the norm.For me, images come back from that full-moon Saturday night traveling through the two sides of Berlin with Karen Breslau as if I were being shown the way from the Inferno to Purgatory. We descended into the U-Bahn, the subway, in hopes we could get back to the West that way, but no luck. We went back to the surface again, and it was getting late, really late–it must have been about four in the morning–but cars were still heading toward some passage to the West. Was it Checkpoint Charlie? I can’t be sure. But what I do remember is that we stuck out our thumbs and we were picked up by two Palestinians who’d been studying in East Germany. Having spent a lot of time in the Middle East, I suspected they were connected to one of the many organizations dubbed terrorist by the U.S. government, but they got us close enough to where we wanted to go, which was Potsdamer Platz.* * *A few days ago I called Karen, who now lives in San Francisco, and whom I had not seen or talked to for many years. On FaceTime we reminisced about that night. And her memories were not mine at all. She recalled the big political developments she was writing about at the time, the invasion of the network anchors, the befuddled guards, the sense of celebration, the cold of that night, but not the Palestinians, not the U-Bahn. OK. She lived in Berlin. What was special to me on a brief visit was not so unique for her. But there was one particular moment that I wanted to confirm, and as I described it there were glimmers of recognition, but the memory wasn’t quite there.The image that had stayed with me was the East German crane on the far side of the Wall fighting to lift out the first segment. It was reinforced concrete 3.6 meters high, almost 12 feet, and L-shaped, and even when the rebars connecting it to the rest of the Wall were severed it had to be rocked back and forth like a tooth fighting extraction before, finally, it broke out, was lifted high, and an East German officer stepped through to shake hands with a West German counterpart.What struck me that night was the graffiti on that particular piece of concrete. The image was too perfect, even though the East Germans working the crane could not have known. But Karen didn’t remember and I wondered if I misremembered.So I did what one does these days and googled videos of Potsdamer Platz on Nov. 12, 1989.They are grainy and lines of static cut across them every so often. The time stamps run beneath, counting the minutes and seconds after 5 a.m., and the images I remember in bold relief, I see, would not have been so clear as I recall them though the fog or my breath and the spray of champagne. But they are there. High in the morning sky, sliced out of the old graffiti context and given a whole new one, floated the broken hammer and sickle, and the word “Free.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.


Poland Picks Ex-Banker as Fifth Finance Minister Since July

Yahoo World News Feed - November 9, 2019 - 1:58am

(Bloomberg) -- Explore what’s moving the global economy in the new season of the Stephanomics podcast. Subscribe via Apple Podcast, Spotify or Pocket Cast.Poland’s Premier Mateusz Morawiecki picked Tadeusz Koscinski, a former banker, to become the country’s fifth finance minister in as many months as the ruling Law & Justice party shuffles its cabinet after last month’s election.London-born Koscinski worked at the lender now known as Santander Bank Polska SA, where Morawiecki used to be the chief executive officer, as well as several other Polish banks. Before his promotion, which is set to officially take place next week, Koscinski served as a deputy finance minister and a government official tasked with luring foreign investors, according to his official profile.Morawiecki has made a number of changes to his finance team since minister Teresa Czerwinska left in July following clashes over election-year stimulus. The prime minister said Friday that Jerzy Kwiecinski, the latest incumbent, has left the government without specifying the reasons behind the move.Koscinski’s nomination comes as Poland’s economic growth looks set to decline next year as Germany, its biggest trading partner, loses momentum. Senior ruling party officials have signaled that a budget deficit is becoming more likely, despite Morawiecki’s proposal ahead of the elections to balance the books in 2020.Morawiecki used the slowdown argument when appointing Jacek Sasin, the current deputy prime minister, as a minister in charge of state-run companies, the supervision of which was spread among several ministries.“Jacek Sasin will look for synergies among the companies,” Morawiecki said. “There’s a significant economic slowdown around Poland, so using all possible reserves is in our utmost interest.”Morawiecki also dissolved the Energy Ministry, creating a Climate Ministry for the first time. It will be in charge of fighting air pollution, setting renewable energy goals and talks with the European Union on environmental policies, an area in which Poland wants to agree additional subsidies to finance its transition away from coal. Morawiecki has said Michal Kurtyka, head of last year’s United Nations climate conference in Katowice, will run the ministry.“We want a full focus on climate negotiations, which in the next 12 to 24 months will be incredibly hard and very important for our economy and society as a whole,” Morawiecki said.(Updates with details of other appointments from fifth paragraph.)To contact the reporters on this story: Dorota Bartyzel in Warsaw at dbartyzel@bloomberg.net;Maciej Martewicz in Warsaw at mmartewicz@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Andrea Dudik at adudik@bloomberg.net, Marion Dakers, James AmottFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Iran says case open on ex-FBI agent missing there on CIA job

Yahoo World News Feed - November 9, 2019 - 1:47am

Iran is acknowledging for the first time it has an open case before its Revolutionary Court over the 2007 disappearance of a former FBI agent on an unauthorized CIA mission to the country, renewing questions over what happened to him. In a filing to the United Nations, Iran said the case over Robert Levinson was "on going," without elaborating.


Pages


Advertisements