Posts Tagged ‘Frankfurt’

Leaked UK memo accuses Paris of wanting to sink City of London

July 17, 2017

AFP

© Leon Neal, AFP file picture | The City of London financial district, including the Gherkin (right) and the ‘Walkie Talkie’ (front) towers.

Text by FRANCE 24 

Latest update : 2017-07-17

France is pushing for a hard Brexit in a bid to weaken the City of London, the British finance sector’s EU frontman warned in a leaked report published on Sunday.

“They are crystal clear about their underlying objective: the weakening of Britain, the ongoing degradation of the City of London,” Jeremy Browne, a former government minister who is now the City’s Brexit envoy, said in a memo.

The leaked report, published by the Mail on Sunday tabloid, was written as a summary to ministers of a trip made by Browne to France in early July.

“The meeting with the French Central Bank was the worst I have had anywhere in the EU. They are in favour of the hardest Brexit. They want disruption,” he said.

Browne acknowledged there may be political benefits to France of playing “bad cop” in the negotiations on Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, which began last month and resumed in Brussels on Monday.

But “we should nevertheless have our eyes open that France sees Britain and the City of London as adversaries, not partners”.

According to Browne, this approach was not confined to a few officials, but was a “whole-of-France collective endeavour, made both more giddy and more assertive by the election of (Emmanuel) Macron” as president in May”. Aside from his meeting with the French Central Bank, he did not specify which other officials he had spoken with.

Browne added that “every country, not unreasonably, is alive to the opportunities that Brexit provides, but the French go further”.

He said they are “seemingly happy to see outcomes detrimental to the City of London even if Paris is not the beneficiary”.

Many cities in running to replace London

Paris is competing with Amsterdam, Dublin, Frankfurt, Madrid and Luxembourg for an expected shift in finance jobs out of London as a result of Brexit.

With Britain at risk of losing the “passporting rights” financial firms use to deal with clients in the rest of the bloc, employees in direct contact with customers may need to be based on EU territory in future.

The day after Britain voted to leave the EU in June last year, Valérie Pécresse, the head of the Paris regional government, sent out hand-signed letters to 4,000 small, medium and large international enterprises in London, underscoring the benefits of moving their businesses to Paris.

And in October, Paris’s financial centre La Défense launched the PR-campaign “Tired of the fog? Try the frogs” aimed at attracting companies across the Channel. In November, the city of Paris, the Paris regional government and the French chamber of commerce also set up a so-called “Brexit cell”, dubbed Choose Paris Region, a team exclusively dedicated to responding to queries — many of them anonymous — from companies considering a potential move from London to Paris in the light of Brexit.

Earlier this month, French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe laid out a raft of measures aimed at boosting Paris’s attractiveness, including eliminating the top income tax bracket.

Browne, who was an MP for the pro-European Liberal Democrats until 2015, served as a junior foreign office minister in former prime minister David Cameron’s coalition government.

He was appointed special representative to the EU by the City of London Corporation, which represents the financial sector, in September 2015.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Pushback: Thousands of Kurds protest against Turkey’s Erdogan in Frankfurt

March 18, 2017

Reuters

People carry flags during a demonstration organised by Kurds, in Frankfurt, Germany, March 18, 2017. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

Around 9,000 Kurdish supporters demonstrated in the German city of Frankfurt on Saturday against Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and an April referendum that would give him sweeping new powers.

Protesters chanted “Erdogan terrorist” and “freedom for Ocalan”, referring to Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), with many waving flags featuring Ocalan’s face. The European Union and United States consider the PKK a terrorist group and it is banned in Germany.

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Abdullah Ocalan

“The Europeans should hear us, empathize with our suffering and help us. It would be best if they imposed economic sanctions on Turkey,” demonstrator Sinan Anin said.

Several hundred police officers were deployed at the demonstration, which police said was peaceful.

On Wednesday Martin Schaefer, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, said the German government had approved voting by the estimated 1.4 million Turks living in Germany who are eligible to cast ballots in the April 16 referendum.

Erdogan is seeking support among Turks abroad for the referendum. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has said Erdogan is taking advantage of a sentiment many people of Turkish origin have in Germany that they are neither accepted nor welcomed.

Demonstrator Mustafa Bostan said if Erdogan won the referendum, things would worsen: “It could be that he’ll say: ‘I’ve won again’ and then he’ll start fighting again and destroying Kurdish towns or killing Kurds.”

Relations between Ankara and Berlin have been burdened by the arrest of a Turkish-German journalist in Turkey and by Erdogan’s description of bans on planned rallies by Turkish ministers as “fascist”.

(Reporting by Reuters Television; Writing by Michelle Martin; Editing by Dale Hudson)

German Prosecutors Examining WikiLeaks Report on CIA Base

March 8, 2017

BERLIN — Germany’s federal prosecutors say they are examining a WikiLeaks report suggesting that the Central Intelligence Agency used the U.S. consulate in Frankfurt as a base for covert hackers.

The federal prosecutors’ office says the reports published Tuesday are being reviewed, but that this is a standard procedure.

Prosecutors said Wednesday that “if it turns out there is an initial suspicion of a concrete crime committed by a specific person then a preliminary investigation may be opened.”

German foreign ministry spokesman Sebastian Fischer said authorities were trying to verify the authenticity of the alleged CIA documents published WikiLeaks.

“The rest remains to be seen,” he said.

Relations between Berlin and Washington took a hit after Edward Snowden’s revelations about NSA eavesdropping. It later transpired Germany had partly cooperated with the NSA.

Related:

Frankfurt used as remote hacking base for the CIA: WikiLeaks

March 8, 2017

WikiLeaks documents reveal CIA agents were given cover identities and diplomatic passports to enter the country. The base was used to develop hacking tools as part of the CIA’s massive digital arsenal.

Image may contain: sky, plant and outdoor

WikiLeaks released a trove of CIA documents on Tuesday that it claimed revealed details of its secret hacking arsenal.

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The release included 8,761 documents that it claimed revealed details of “malware, viruses, trojans, weaponized ‘zero day’ exploits, malware remote control systems and associated documentation.”
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Wikileaks reveals CIA spy techniques

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The leaks purportedly revealed that a top secret CIA unit used the German city of Frankfurt am Main as the starting point for numerous hacking attacks on Europe, China and the Middle East.

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Frankfurt base

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WikiLeaks reported that the group developed trojans and other malicious software in the American Consulate General Office, the largest US consulate in the world. The programs focused on targets in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

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The documents revealed that CIA experts worked in the building under cover and included advice for life in Germany.

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“Do not leave anything electronic or sensitive unattended in your room,” it told employees, also advising them to enjoy Lufthansa’s free alcohol “in moderation.”

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The Frankfurt hackers, part of the Center for Cyber Intelligence Europe, were said to be given diplomatic passports and a State Department identity. It instructed employees how to safely enter Germany. A WikiLeaks tweet published an section of the Frankfurt information.

View image on Twitter

CIA tips for its hackers going to the covert CIA hacking base hidden in the US consulate in Frankfurt https://wikileaks.org/ciav7p1/cms/page_26607630.html 

 

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The consulate was the focus of a German investigation into US intelligence capabilities following the 2013 revelation that NSA agents had tapped Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone.

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German daily “Süddeutsche Zeitung” reported the building was known to be home to a vast network of intelligence personnel including CIA agents, NSA spies, military secret service personnel, Department of Homeland Security employees and Secret Service employees. It reported the Americans had also established a dense network of outposts and shell companies in Frankfurt.

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Televisions turned into bugs

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An intelligence expert who examined the dump, Rendition Infosec founder Jake Williams, told news agency Associated Press the documents appeared legitimate.

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Bob Ayers, a retired US intelligence official currently working as a security analyst told AP the release was “real bad” for the agency.

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Jonathan Liu, a spokesman for the CIA, told AP: “We do not comment on the authenticity or content of purported intelligence documents.”

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According to WikiLeaks the documents revealed that the CIA could remotely activate certain Samsung smart televisions equipped with cameras and microphones to turn them into bugs.

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Smartphones hacked

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WikiLeaks also claimed that if the CIA had hacked a cell phone, it could then bypass encryption methods used by popular chat programs such as Whatsapp, Telegram, Signal and Confide. This prompted some concern at first online that all such messaging “Apps” were no longer effectively encrypted – but the exploit only applied to people whose phones are already compromised. According to the leaks, the CIA has undocumented exploits on popular smartphone models.

In a series of tweets NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden said deliberately leaving vulnerabilities in software and hardware open left public users susceptible to attacks.

If you’re writing about the CIA/@Wikileaks story, here’s the big deal: first public evidence USG secretly paying to keep US software unsafe. pic.twitter.com/kYi0NC2mOp

The CIA reports show the USG developing vulnerabilities in US products, then intentionally keeping the holes open. Reckless beyond words.

Evidence mounts showing CIA & FBI knew about catastrophic weaknesses in the most-used smartphones in America, but kept them open — to spy. https://twitter.com/wikileaks/status/839188928313851904 

 

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Snowden said the documents appeared to be genuine.

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The documents also revealed that the CIA had the ability to conduct false flag attacks using malware stolen from other nations.

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According to WikiLeaks the trove showed that the CIA had lost control of its arsenal of hacking tools.

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WikiLeaks said it was given the files by an anonymous source who wanted to shed public light on the hacking programs.

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The collection of documents vastly outnumbered the trove on the NSA released by Snowden.

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aw/msh (dpa, AP)

http://www.dw.com/en/frankfurt-used-as-remote-hacking-base-for-the-cia-wikileaks/a-37841830

European cities ramp up security for New Year after Berlin attack

December 30, 2016

Reuters

German policemen patrol with submachine gun at the Brandenburg Gate, ahead of the upcoming New Year’s Eve celebrations in Berlin, Germany, December 30, 2016. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
By Oliver Denzer and Geert De Clercq | BERLIN/PARIS

European capitals tightened security on Friday ahead of New Year’s celebrations, erecting concrete barriers in city centres and stepping up police numbers after the Islamic State attack in Berlin last week that killed 12 people.

In the German capital, police closed the Pariser Platz square in front of the Brandenburg Gate and prepared to deploy 1,700 extra officers, many along a party strip where armored cars will flank concrete barriers blocking off the area.

“Every measure is being taken to prevent a possible attack,” Berlin police spokesman Thomas Neuendorf told Reuters TV. Some police officers would carry sub-machine guns, he said, an unusual tactic for German police.

Last week’s attack in Berlin, in which a 24-year old Tunisian ploughed a truck into a Christmas market, has prompted German lawmakers to call for tougher security measures.

In Milan, where police shot the man dead, security checks were set up around the main square. Trucks were banned from the centres of Rome and Naples. Police and soldiers cradled machine guns outside tourists sites including Rome’s Colosseum.

Madrid plans to deploy an extra 1,600 police on the New Year weekend. For the second year running, access to the city’s central Puerta del Sol square where revellers traditionally gather to bring in the New Year will be restricted to 25,000 people, with police setting up barricades to control access.

In Cologne in western Germany, where hundreds of women were sexually assaulted and robbed outside the central train station on New Year’s Eve last year, police have installed new video surveillance cameras to monitor the station square.

The attacks in Cologne, where police said the suspects were mainly of North African and Arab appearance, fueled criticism of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to accept nearly 900,000 migrants last year.

The Berlin attack has intensified that criticism.

In Frankfurt, home to the European Central Bank and Germany’s biggest airport, more than 600 police officers will be on duty on New Year’ Eve, twice as many as in 2015.

In Brussels, where Islamist suicide bombers killed 16 people and injured more than 150 in March, the mayor was reviewing whether to cancel New Year fireworks but decided this week that they would go ahead.

PARIS PATROLS

In Paris, where Islamic State gunmen killed 130 people last November, authorities prepared for a high-security weekend, the highlight of which will be the fireworks on the Champs-Élysées, which some 600,000 people are expected to attend.

Ahead of New Year’s Eve, heavily armed soldiers patrolled popular Paris tourist sites such as the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and the Louvre museum.

Across France, more than 90,000 police and thousands of soldiers will be on duty for New Year’s Eve, authorities said.

On Wednesday, police in southwest France, arrested a man suspected of having planned an attack on New Year’s Eve.

Two other people, one of whom was suspected of having planned an attack on police, were arrested in a separate raid, also in southwest France near Toulouse, police sources told Reuters.

In Vienna, police handed out more than a thousand pocket alarms to women, eager to avoid a repeat of the sexual assaults that blighted Cologne’s New Year’s Eve in 2015.

“At present, there is no evidence of any specific danger in Austria. However, we are talking about an increased risk situation,” Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka said.

“We leave nothing to chance with regard to security.”

In Ukraine, police arrested a man on Friday who they suspect was planning a Berlin copycat attack in the city of Odessa.

(Additional reporting by Maria Sheahan in Frankfurt, Kirsti Knolle in Vienna, Teis Jensen in Copenhagen, Isla Binnie in Rome, Sarah White in Madrid and Robert Muller in Prague; Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Louise Ireland)

Tension in Germany After Frankfurt Attack: Four people injured in stabbing at rail station

October 30, 2016

Four people have been injured in a stabbing attack
From AFP, AP, and Reuters

German police say four people have been injured in a stabbing attack at a commuter rail and subway station in downtown Frankfurt.

Frankfurt police spokeswoman Chantal Ench said the attack took place on Saturday afternoon inside the Hauptwache station.

Ench says four people were taken to the hospital with stab wounds, but she didn’t have details beyond that.

The knifeman was reported to still be on the run.

She says police are investigating to find out how many people were involved. She also didn’t have any details on the ages and genders of the injured.

According to Hessenschau, a local news outlet, one person was seriously hurt in the incident while the three others sustained light injuries.

It said the incident, which involved youths aged between 16 and 18 erupted at about 17.40 local time.

Blood stains were seen on the concourse of the station.

The motive for the attack remained unclear. Police in Frankfurt urged the public to avoid fear mongering.

“We are asking to refrain from speculation… You are scaring your fellow citizens. There is no danger,”  Frankfurt police said on their official Twitter account.

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Four hospitalized after stabbing in Frankfurt train station

Police are investigating how many attackers were involved in the stabbing attack in the Hauptwache station in Frankfurt city center. They have assured the public there is no further danger.

Four people were injured in a stabbing attack at a train station in Frankfurt city center on Saturday.


Frankfurt police spokeswoman Chantal Ench said the attack took place inside the Hauptwache station during the afternoon.

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She said all four victims were taken to hospital but did not provide further details.

Police said they were investigating how many perpetrators were involved in the attack.

Following the incident, Frankfurt police tweeted “There has been a knife attack at the Hauptwache in Frankfurt. That is why so many colleagues and rescue services are there,” followed by “Four people were injured during a stabbing incident in Frankfurt. All four are currently in hospital.”

The police also urged the public to refrain from speculating about the incident, reassuring them that there was no threat of further danger.

Security alerts

While Germany has been spared large-scale terror attacks, the country has been hit by a number of incidents in which asylum seekers – some linked to the “so-called “Islamic State,” (IS)” – have carried out attacks.
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Last summer, a 17-year-old Afghan refugee in Würzburg attacked passengers on a train with an axe, injuring five, while 15 people were injured at a music festival in Ansbach after a Syrian refugee blew himself up.

Earlier this month, the town of Chemitz was on lockdown after police raided the apartment of 22-year-old Syrian refugee Jaber Albakr. After his capture and arrest on suspicion of planning an attack on a Berlin airport, Albakr committed suicide in his jail cell.

dm/jm (AP)

http://www.dw.com/en/four-hospitalized-after-stabbing-in-frankfurt-train-station/a-36199814

Germans Protests Against Trade Deals — ‘TTIP threatens our way of life,’ say Berlin protesters

September 17, 2016

Rarely has an issue caused such outrage: Protesters have turned out across Germany to demonstrate against the TTIP and CETA trade deals with the US and Canada. They say they won’t stop until both are scrapped.

German retiree Maud Kellerhals has never been to a demonstration in her life. But on Saturday, the 79-year-old former school secretary from Berlin decided to make an exception. She marched through the city, together with many thousands of other people.

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“I have nothing against the Americans, but I don’t think they should be able to tell us what to do,” she said, explaining her decision to join the mass protest against Europe’s controversial trade deals with the US and Canada, TTIP and CETA.

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“I don’t want to eat their genetically modified food. And the idea that big US companies can take our government to court is just dreadful.” Kellerhals said she had been reading up on the issues on the internet.

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“CETA and TTIP – poison for societal welfare,” reads this banner

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Growing opposition

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Opposition to the two trade deals has been growing steadily in Germany. A poll conducted in May 2016 by the public broadcaster ARD showed that 70 percent of Germans thought TTIP – the proposed deal between Europe and the US – would bring “more disadvantages” than advantages. That figure was up from 55 percent in June of the previous year.

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The Berlin demonstration testified to the strength and breadth of the opposition. The 29-year-old ecology student Stefan Meurer from Potsdam said he rarely went to demonstrations. However, he was so outraged at the prospect of TTIP and CETA being approved and coming into force in Germany that he had decided to attend the Berlin rally.

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“I am not against free trade,” he said. “But in this form it would undermine our democracy and our standards.”

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As with many of the protesters on Saturday, one of his fears was that standards for food and other products such as medicines would be dropped if TTIP became law.

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“In Europe we have to prove that a product is safe before it can be released on to the market,” he said. “In the US they can sell something until someone says it is harmful.”

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People dressed as cleaners at anti-TTIP protest in Berlin

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These “cleaners” want to cleanse the world of CETA

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‘We elect politicians, not companies’

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Meurer was also worried the market would be “flooded with cheap, substandard goods which don’t conform to our rules.”

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For 51-year-old sales assistant Anna Berger, this was also a key issue.

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“I feel this is a threat to our way of life,” she said. “We will be swamped with cheap products from around the world. We will not be able to compete. Our own farmers and small-business owners will go bankrupt.

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And the truth is I don’t need cheap apples from South Africa. I would rather have apples from this area.”

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The majority of demonstrators DW spoke to were similarly alarmed by the idea of bad food suddenly appearing on the shelves of German supermarkets – even though it is unclear if this would really happen.

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Another oft-cited concern was the provision in TTIP allowing foreign companies to sue governments if their profits are threatened.

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“You cannot transfer power to unelected companies like this,” said 51-year-old Ralf Grossmann, who described himself only as an employee. “We elect politicians. Not companies.”

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Anti-TTIP protest in Berlin

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Many protesters are worried that profit-making drives governments’ policies

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Worrying secrecy

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Some demonstrators, such as 67-year-old Angela Schulze, admitted to being unsure of the details contained within TTIP and CETA and what they would entail for their day-to-day lives.

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“If I am honest, I don’t know what it all really means,” said Schulze. “But that is the problem. It has not been explained to us. It has all been negotiated in secret, behind closed doors. That is not right.”

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Despite such worries, the atmosphere at the march in Berlin was decidedly festive. There were booming techno floats, followed by dancing teenagers with multi-colored mohawks, as well as drumming bands and transvestite choirs – all melded together with a common sense of purpose.

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Deutschland Berlin Protest in Berlin gegen TTIP

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Grossmann: “People have had enough”

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Generalized anger

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The demonstrators were strikingly diverse in appearance and background, with the likes of employee Ralf Grossman with his big bushy beard and woman’s skirt walking alongside shop assistant Anna Berger and the odd besuited middle-aged man.

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“You can see it is not just the usual suspects – the eco-freaks and left-wing punks – who care about this issue,” said Berger. “It’s ordinary people like me, too.”

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Grossman, for his part, said he felt that the anger went beyond TTIP and CETA. “Obviously, people are galvanized by these trade issues, that is why we are here today. But there is also a feeling that everyone is being worked into the ground and exploited. It is something really basic. People have had enough.”

http://www.dw.com/en/ttip-threatens-our-way-of-life-say-berlin-protesters/a-19559338

Related:

Protests in Germany against transatlantic TTIP and CETA trade deals

September 17, 2016

BBC News

Consumer rights activists take part in a march to protest against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) in Berlin, Germany, 17 September, 2016.

About 80,000 people turned out in Berlin alone. Reuters

Tens of thousands of people have been protesting in cities across Germany against a proposed transatlantic trade deal between the EU and the US.

Protesters say the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will lower European standards on food and environmental protection, and could lead to outsourcing and job-losses.

Supporters of the deal say it promises to lower tariffs and promote growth.

The demonstrators are also protesting against a similar deal with Canada.

There were large crowds carrying flags and banners in seven German cities, including Berlin, Munich, Hamburg and Frankfurt, all braving cool and wet weather.

TTIP: The EU-US trade deal explained

TTIP: Are US-Europe trade talks tanking?

Would Canada’s CETA deal with the EU be a good model for the UK?

“I want us to get rid of TTIP and for European social and environmental standards to be respected, maintained and improved,” said Peter Clausing in Berlin.

Many demonstrators think the deal would lead to exploitation of people by businesses on both sides of the Atlantic.

“It will be the enterprises and banks that will have power over people worldwide”, said Tobias Kuhn. “That is a no-go. People need to know that and we will protest until there’s no chance of that happening anymore.”

Protesters hold a giant snake with dollar notes in its mouth to demonstrate against the TTIP and CETA free trade agreements with a giant puppet on 17 September, 2016 in Berlin, Germany.

A snake swallowing dollar notes is how these demonstrators in Berlin see the deal. GETTY IMAGES

Protesters dressed as America and Europe march to demonstrate against the TTIP and CETA free trade agreements on September 17, 2016 in Berlin, Germany.

Figures representing Europe and America carry a banner in Berlin. Other slogans read “democracy instead of TTIP” — Getty Images

The EU and the US began negotiating the trade deal in 2013, aiming to create the world’s biggest free trade market with 850 million consumers.

A new round of talks is due to start in October, and President Obama says he wants the deal to be concluded before he leaves office in January.

A similar but smaller trade deal between the EU and Canada, called the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA), is due to be signed in October.

Demonstrators protest against the massive transatlantic trade deals CETA and TTIP on 17 September 2016 in Munich, southern Germany.

Many people braved the weather in the southern city of Munich. AFP

A man with a mask of United States Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump attends a demonstration against the planned Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, TTIP, and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, CETA in Berlin, Saturday, 17 September 17, 2016.

There appeared to be a certain apprehension of a deal with a possible future Trump presidency. AP

The objective of the proposed TTIP deal is to remove or reduce barriers to commerce between the US and the EU. Negotiators are working towards eliminating most tariffs.

But the plans face opposition in Europe from citizens as well as some governments.

The French government has strongly opposed it, with President Francois Hollande casting doubt on when the deal would be reached.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel backs TTIP, but Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel last month said the talks on TTIP had “de facto failed”.

Mr Gabriel, who is the chairman of the CDU’s junior coalition partner, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) does support the CETA deal with Canada, which he sees as a counterweight to China’s increasing economic power.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-37396796

After Brexit, Does The Merger of Deutsche Boerse and London Stock Exchange Still Make sense?

July 6, 2016

AFP

© AFP/File | Stock market operators Deutsche Boerse and London Stock Exchange (LSE) had hoped to manage both exchanges from London following a planned merger

BERLIN (AFP) – The Frankfurt and London stock exchanges will not base a merged headquarters in London, German media reported on Wednesday, in the latest fallout from Britons’ shock vote to leave the EU.

Stock market operators Deutsche Boerse and London Stock Exchange (LSE) had hoped to manage both exchanges from London following a planned merger.

But bosses have come under pressure from regulators and politicians to base the new company within the European Union since the June 23 referendum on British EU membership ended with a win for “Leave”, business daily Handelsblatt reported.

Instead, the merged businesses could create a “double holding” company, allowing them to get around clauses in the legally-binding merger agreement that specify London as the HQ.

“A structure like that does cost money, but that way the merger could succeed despite the threat of Brexit,” a major Deutsche Boerse shareholder told Handelsblatt.

Deutsche Boerse chief Carsten Kengeter has “promised” shareholders that the double holding structure will allow the deal to go ahead, Munich-based daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported.

Handelsblatt further suggested that the company was examining placing the joint HQ in Frankfurt alone — or even in a third, “neutral” city such as Amsterdam.

Deutsche Boerse and LSE have sought to calm fears that their third attempt at a merger will fall through because of the British vote, saying in a statement on Tuesday that “the combined group will meet all regulatory requirements”.

An overwhelming majority of LSE shareholders backed the deal on Monday.

Storm ahead by photographer Santiago Borja

France’s Francois Hollande Says Despite Brexit, The EU Still May Enlarge If Balkan States Continue Aspiring to EU Membership

July 4, 2016

The Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — The Latest following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union (all times local):

7:10 p.m.

French President Francois Hollande says the British vote to leave the European Union won’t threaten eventual enlargement of the bloc.

Hollande, speaking after a summit with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and leaders from Balkan states aspiring to EU membership, acknowledged uncertainty in the Balkan region in particular around their EU membership bids.

“The British decision does not in any way put into question commitments made toward countries in the Balkan region. They will be respected,” he said in Paris.

Balkan integration into the EU is considered key for stability of the volatile region. The EU’s current troubles are emboldening pro-Russian groups in Serbia who favor closer ties with Russia instead of the West.

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic was disappointed by an EU decision last week to delay further membership talks. Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Bosnia, Kosovo and Albania, all at different stages in trying to join the EU, say the British exit vote will not diminish their membership efforts.

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4:35 p.m.

Britain’s immigration minister says he can’t guarantee that European Union citizens who live in the U.K. will be able to stay after the country leaves the bloc.

James Brokenshire has told the House of Commons that “EU nationals continue to be welcome here” and “their right to enter, work, study and live in the U.K. remains unchanged” since the vote last week to leave the bloc.

But he said a guarantee that they would be allowed to remain after Britain negotiates its EU exit “would be unwise without a parallel assurance” from other EU countries that British citizens can continue to live there.

A final split from the EU is likely several years away. Opposition politicians are demanding the government ease the uncertainty of some 3 million EU citizens by guaranteeing they can stay.

Labour legislator Gisela Stuart said Monday that it was wrong to make them “bargaining chips” in negotiations.

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1:30 p.m.

Luxembourg’s foreign minister is describing Nigel Farage’s decision to quit as leader of the U.K. Independence Party as “very cowardly.”

Farage’s announcement Monday made him the third major British political figure to say he is stepping aside rather than taking ownership of the country’s turbulent political future.

Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn was quoted Monday as telling German daily Tagesspiegel: “All of a sudden, politicians like Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage are withdrawing back into their snail shells.”

Asselborn added: “I hope this can be a lesson against falling for political opportunists like the (anti-migration) AfD in Germany or Geert Wilders in the Netherlands.”

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1:10 p.m.

Police say a memorial to former Labour Party leader Michael Foot has been defaced with far-right graffiti.

Rob Souness of Devon and Cornwall Police says the force is investigating the “disgusting act of vandalism” to the stone memorial in Foot’s home town of Plymouth, southwest England. Foot, who died in 2010, led the left-of-center Labour Party between 1980 and 1983.

The monument was defaced with swastikas and the initials of the British National Party and English Defense League, both far-right groups.

Police have reported an increase in racially motivated hate crimes since Britain voted to leave the European Union in a June 23 referendum.

The current member of Parliament for Plymouth, Conservative Johnny Mercer tweeted: “Tragic. Unacceptable. Michael Foot was a proud son of Plymouth. This is not us, not Plymouth.”

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11:45 a.m.

British Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom has launched her bid to lead the Conservative Party, pitching herself as a passionately pro-“leave” candidate who can both unite a divided Britain and strike a good deal with the European Union.

Leadsom is one of the least-known among the five candidates to replace Prime Minister David Cameron, but she gained attention as one of the strongest voices for a vote to leave the EU in the referendum campaign.

She’s targeting her pitch at Conservatives who think the next prime minister must be someone from the winning side of the referendum. The front-runner, Home Secretary Theresa May, was on the losing “remain” side.

Leadsom, who went into politics after a career in financial services, says she would keep the negotiations on an exit deal with the 27 other EU countries as short as possible, because “neither we nor our European friends need prolonged uncertainty.”

And, unlike May, she says EU citizens living in Britain would be guaranteed the right to stay. She says “we must give them certainty. There is no way they will be bargaining chips in our negotiations.”

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11:35 a.m.

A top law firm may institute a legal challenge to make certain that Britain’s Parliament votes on whether or not the U.K. should leave the European Union.

The law firm Mishcon de Reya argues that the referendum approving an exit from the EU was not legally binding.

The firm, acting on behalf of a group of anonymous clients, says that it is up to Parliament to have their say before the prime minister invokes Article 50, triggering the start of negotiations for a U.K. departure from the bloc.

While outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron has insisted that it will be up to the next prime minister to enact Article 50, the law firm is adamant that Parliament must have its say first. It says that it would go to court without government assurances.

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11:20 a.m.

British companies’ pension liabilities have jumped to a record high in the wake of the vote to leave the European Union.

Consultancy Mercer said Monday that a survey of the 350 biggest listed U.K. companies shows their liabilities in defined benefit pension schemes jumped to 813 billion pounds ($1.08 trillion) by the end of June from 761 billion pounds a month earlier.

The worsening in the companies’ pension accounts is due to the fact that returns on investments like bonds have dropped since the vote. That is due to expectations that the economy will weaken and that the Bank of England will cut its benchmark rate further toward zero this summer.

While low rates can help the economy by making borrowing cheaper, they weigh on the growth of savings and pension funds. Low returns on savings and pension investments are a problem across Europe, where central banks have slashed rates to help the economy.

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10:20 a.m.

UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage says he is resigning as the head of the party, arguing his political ambition to have Britain leave the European Union has now been achieved.

It is the second time Farage resigns as the leader of the party, but he says this time it is definite.

Farage said Monday he will retain his seat in the European Parliament to see out the negotiations for Britain’s exit from the EU following the country’s June 23 vote to leave the bloc.

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9:45 a.m.

Britain’s Treasury chief plans to cut U.K. corporation tax to less than 15 percent to encourage companies to invest and ease business concerns about the country’s vote to leave the European Union.

Treasury chief George Osborne says the cut is meant to underscore that Britain is “still open for business,” despite the referendum results. A cut of about 5 percentage points brings Britain in line with Ireland’s 12.5 percent rate.

Osborne told the Financial Times it was time to “make the most of the hand we’ve been dealt.” He is urging the Bank of England to use its powers to avoid “a contraction of credit in the economy.”

Some businesses based in London are considering leaving for other cities like Dublin, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Paris to benefit from the large EU common market.