News Trending

Germany’s lower house of parliament recently passed a bill legalizing cannabis for limited recreational use, despite facing opposition and warnings from medical authorities. The legislation allows adults to possess small amounts of cannabis for personal use, with strict regulations in place to prevent access by minors. The bill received significant support from 407 lawmakers, while 226 opposed it, with four abstentions. Germany now joins the ranks of Malta and Luxembourg as the third European country to legalize recreational cannabis, marking a significant shift in drug policy.

Under the new legislation, adults in Germany will be permitted to cultivate a limited number of cannabis plants for private consumption. Additionally, they will be allowed to possess specified amounts of cannabis both at home and in public spaces. Licensed not-for-profit clubs will also have the authority to distribute cannabis to adult members, further regulating its availability and distribution channels.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach has emphasized that the primary objective of the law is to prioritize child and youth protection. Despite the legalization of cannabis for adult use, strict measures will be implemented to prevent minors from accessing the drug. Lauterbach reiterated that while cannabis consumption is being legalized, it is essential to acknowledge its potential dangers and risks.

However, the legalization of cannabis in Germany has faced opposition from various quarters, including the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU). Critics argue that the legislation undermines efforts to protect children and young people from the harms of drug use. CDU lawmaker Tino Sorge criticized the government, likening its actions to that of a “state drug dealer.”

Furthermore, medical authorities, such as the German Medical Associations (GMA), have expressed concerns about the potential consequences of cannabis legalization. GMA President Klaus Reinhardt warned that legalization could lead to increased consumption and trivialize the associated risks. Reinhardt emphasized the addictive nature of cannabis and its potential to cause serious developmental damage, advocating against its legalization in Germany.

Picture Courtesy: Google/images are subject to copyright

News Trending

Maria Pevchikh, an ally of Alexei Navalny, revealed that plans were underway for Navalny’s release in a prisoner exchange deal. The exchange was intended to involve Vadim Krasikov, a Russian serving a life sentence in Germany for murder, along with two detained US citizens in Russia. Negotiations for this swap had been ongoing for two years but gained momentum after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Concrete plans for the exchange were reportedly made in December, with American and German officials involved in the talks.

However, according to Pevchikh, Russian President Vladimir Putin changed his mind at the last minute, leading to Navalny’s sudden death in prison. Pevchikh claimed that Putin’s deep-seated animosity towards Navalny, driven by the perceived threat he posed to Putin’s power, motivated the decision to sabotage the deal. Despite the existence of a firm agreement, Putin allegedly opted to eliminate Navalny rather than allow him to be released.

These revelations come amid continued speculation and international scrutiny surrounding Navalny’s death. While the German government has refrained from commenting on Pevchikh’s claims, the Kremlin has yet to provide an official response. However, Dmitry Peskov, President Putin’s spokesperson, had previously dismissed allegations of government involvement in Navalny’s death as absurd.

Picture Courtesy: Google/images are subject to copyright

News Trending

France has taken decisive action by announcing the ban of 28 Israeli settlers who stand accused of perpetrating attacks against Palestinian civilians in the occupied West Bank. This move aligns with similar measures enacted by other nations, including the United States and the United Kingdom, which have also imposed restrictions on individuals involved in comparable activities. The French government’s decision comes amidst escalating violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, prompting a firm condemnation of such actions.

In a statement issued by the French foreign ministry, the country emphasized the gravity of the situation, denouncing the unacceptable violence perpetrated against Palestinian civilians. France, along with Poland and Germany, collectively announced sanctions against Israelis implicated in attacks within the West Bank. This concerted effort underscores the international community’s recognition of the need to address the escalating tensions and safeguard the rights of Palestinians in the region.

The French government reiterated its stance on the illegality of colonization under international law, emphasizing the imperative to halt such activities. It emphasized the necessity of ending colonization to pave the way for the establishment of a viable Palestinian state, thereby enabling Israelis and Palestinians to coexist peacefully and securely. France also expressed its intention to pursue sanctions at the European level, highlighting the importance of a coordinated approach among European Union member states in addressing the ongoing conflict.

While the individuals affected by these measures have not been publicly named, the broader context underscores the gravity of the situation. The imposition of sanctions by France and other nations reflects a concerted effort to address the escalating violence and promote stability in the region. As the international community continues to grapple with the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, such actions serve as a testament to the importance of upholding human rights and seeking avenues for peaceful resolution.

Picture Courtesy: Google/images are subject to copyright

News Trending

The composition titled “Organ²/ASLSP (As Slow as Possible),” known for being the longest and slowest music piece in existence, reached a noteworthy moment on Monday as it changed chord for the first time in two years. Avant-garde composer John Cage initiated this experimental project in 2001, employing a specially-built organ for its performance. The composition, set to conclude in the year 2640, attracted crowds to a church in Germany, where volunteers added a new pipe to the mechanical organ to introduce the latest chord.

The unique musical endeavor began with 18 months of silence, and the first notes were only heard in 2003. The score, spanning eight pages and intended for piano or organ, carries the instruction to be played as slowly as possible without specifying an exact tempo. This recent chord change marked the 16th alteration in the composition, with the last one occurring exactly two years ago on 5 February 2022. According to the project’s website, the next scheduled chord change is set for 5 August 2026.

John Cage, an American composer who played a pivotal role in experimental and avant-garde music during the 20th century, passed away in 1992. His most famous piece, “4’33”,” is unconventional in that it instructs musicians to refrain from playing their instruments. Instead, listeners experience the ambient sounds of their surroundings during the four minutes and 33 seconds of the performance. The extended rendition of “Organ²/ASLSP” was born out of a meeting of musicians and philosophers following Cage’s death, employing a mechanical organ designed for practicality using an electronic wind machine and sand bags to create a drone-like sound.

Picture Courtesy: Google/images are subject to copyright

News Trending

Hans-Georg Maassen, formerly in charge of countering neo-Nazis in Germany, is now under investigation for suspected right-wing extremism by the intelligence agency he led until 2018. Maassen revealed a letter from the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) confirming the investigation, but the agency, citing data protection rules, cannot comment on individual cases. Maassen, critical of the inquiry, accuses Interior Minister Nancy Faeser of using intelligence services against political opponents.

The investigation points to Maassen’s alleged belief in far-right and antisemitic conspiracy theories, anti-migrant rhetoric, and a supposed sympathy for the far-right Reichsbürger movement. His tenure as head of domestic intelligence was marked by accusations of downplaying the far-right threat, and over time, he became known for extreme comments on social media. In 2018, he left office after questioning the authenticity of a video depicting xenophobic far-right violence in Chemnitz.

Maassen’s rhetoric has since intensified, with comparisons of migrants to cancer in an article titled “Chemotherapy for Germany.” Experts suggest he may have become radicalized, ironic given his previous role in combating radicalization.

Maassen recently confirmed that his new party, the Values Union, launched in January, is open to cooperation with the far-right AfD to gain power after upcoming regional elections. This departure from the established “firewall” against collaboration with the AfD signals a shift in German politics. Members of the Values Union attended a controversial November meeting where mass deportations were discussed, sparking nationwide protests against the far right with the slogan “We are the firewall.”

Picture Courtesy: Google/images are subject to copyright

News Trending

Train drivers across Germany have initiated a strike, set to endure six days, making it the longest stoppage in their history. The GDL rail drivers’ union called for the walkout, impacting both passenger and goods-train services starting at 02:00 on Wednesday. This move exacerbates an ongoing dispute with the state-owned Deutsche Bahn, leading to the fourth round of strikes since November.

The union’s demands include higher wages to counter inflation and a reduction in the working week from 38 to 35 hours without a salary decrease. Deutsche Bahn has implemented an emergency timetable until the strike concludes at 18:00 on Monday, affecting passenger trains for an unprecedented 136 hours, including a weekend for the first time. The strike has caused significant disruptions, with 80% of long-distance trains canceled and substantial delays in regional and suburban S-Bahn rail services.

The extended industrial action has prompted complaints from the rail company and ministers, asserting its adverse effects on both the German economy and the public. Tanja Gönner, head of the Federation of German Industries, estimated that the six-day strike could cost the economy up to €1bn. Transport Minister Volker Wissing urged the union to seek a compromise through mediation, acknowledging the current deadlock in negotiations.

Amid the strike, a YouGov survey revealed that only 34% of over 4,000 German adults understood the reasons behind the strike, while 59% expressed a lack of understanding. Talks between the GDL union and Deutsche Bahn have been ongoing since November, with the company rejecting the union’s proposal for a three-hour reduction in the working week. Instead, Deutsche Bahn suggested an optional model involving one hour less work with no pay cut or a 2.7% pay raise, an offer rejected by the GDL.

Picture Courtesy: Google/images are subject to copyright

News Trending

German music producer Frank Farian, best known as the founder of the disco band Boney M, has died at the age of 82. His family confirmed the news through a statement released by Farian’s agency on Tuesday, revealing that he passed away at his residence in Miami.

Boney M, formed in 1976, rose to fame with a series of hit singles, including popular tracks like Daddy Cool, Rasputin, and Rivers of Babylon. Farian, born Franz Reuther in 1941 in Kirn, Germany, initially pursued a career as a singer before transitioning into the role of a successful producer.

In addition to Boney M, Frank Farian founded the duo Milli Vanilli, which gained notoriety in 1990 due to a lip-synching scandal. The revelation that Milli Vanilli did not sing on their records led to the revocation of their Grammy Award for best new artist. Farian’s career also included collaborations with artists such as Meat Loaf and Stevie Wonder, contributing to an estimated 800 million records sold worldwide.

In 2022, Frank Farian shared details about undergoing heart surgery, during which a pig heart valve was inserted. He credited this medical intervention with saving his life, reflecting on his health struggles in later years.

Picture Courtesy: Google/images are subject to copyright

News Trending

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has condemned an alleged far-right meeting where plans to deport millions of people, including German citizens, were discussed. The secret gathering, reported by Correctiv, included senior figures from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) and neo-Nazis from Germany and Austria.

The focus was on “remigration,” the removal of individuals with non-German ethnic backgrounds. Despite the AfD officially rejecting remigration, participants reportedly expressed doubts about its feasibility, with some supporting the idea for years. Chancellor Scholz emphasized that discrimination based on ethnic origins would not be tolerated in Germany, and participants may face investigation by the intelligence agency.

Correctiv investigative outlet revealed that around 20 individuals, including senior AfD members and neo-Nazis, attended a secret meeting near Berlin to discuss the deportation of people with non-German ethnic backgrounds, even if they are citizens of Germany. The meeting reportedly took place near Potsdam last November, with Correctiv noting the participation of two members of the center-right Christian Democrats (CDU) party. Although the AfD officially rejects remigration, internal contradictions were exposed by Gerrit Huy, an AfD member of the German Parliament, who affirmed the party’s commitment to remigration. The AfD confirmed the attendance of Roland Hartwig at the meeting but denied any shift in its migration policy.

Chancellor Scholz, responding to the report, stated that Germany would not allow differentiation based on immigrant backgrounds and that participants in the alleged meeting could face investigation by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the domestic intelligence agency. He underscored the importance of learning from history and emphasized that discrimination based on ethnic origins would not be tolerated in the country. The far-right AfD is currently the second-largest party in Germany, trailing behind the CDU, and has faced scrutiny over its stance on immigration and alleged ties to extremist groups.

Picture Courtesy: Google/images are subject to copyright

News Trending


A former interior minister from The Gambia, Ousman Sonko, is facing trial in Switzerland on charges of crimes against humanity. Sonko fled to Switzerland in 2016, just before the fall of Gambian President Yahya Jammeh’s repressive regime. He is accused of involvement in killings, rape, and torture, with evidence presented by NGOs leading to his arrest. Sonko’s defense argues that he was not responsible, claiming the National Intelligence Agency was behind the alleged crimes and was not under his authority.

Switzerland is utilizing universal jurisdiction to prosecute the case, allowing countries to try individuals for crimes committed elsewhere. Sonko is the highest-ranking government official in Europe to be prosecuted under this principle. The trial is seen as a potential warning to repressive governments, emphasizing that they can be held accountable even outside their borders. The extensive charges against Sonko include ordering killings, torture, and rape against political opponents, potentially constituting crimes against humanity under Swiss law.

Swiss investigators gathered evidence in The Gambia, interviewing numerous victims and witnesses. The trial marks only the second instance of Switzerland using universal jurisdiction for crimes against humanity. Human rights groups believe it serves as a precedent for accountability. Sonko, who was a key figure in Jammeh’s regime, fled to Switzerland and claimed asylum, leading to his arrest after Trial International provided details of his alleged abuses. The trial is expected to last a month, with a verdict scheduled for March. Other countries are also pursuing cases against members of Jammeh’s regime, contributing to efforts for accountability in the face of widespread abuses during his rule.

Picture Courtesy: Google/images are subject to copyright

News Trending

Chancellor Olaf Scholz expressed deep concern and condemnation over recent antisemitic attacks in Germany during an event commemorating the anniversary of the November pogroms of 1938, also known as “Kristallnacht.” Despite Germany’s historic responsibility and diplomatic support for Israel, social discord has arisen, particularly amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.

The rise in antisemitism in Germany, exacerbated by incidents like the throwing of petrol bombs at a Berlin synagogue, has heightened anxiety due to the nation’s Nazi past. Cases of antisemitism were already increasing before the Hamas attacks, with a significant number attributed to the far right.

Senior politicians have called for people, especially from the political left and Muslim backgrounds, to distance themselves from Hamas actions. Germany’s commitment to Israel’s security, a fundamental aspect of its foreign policy, is facing challenges on the streets, as evidenced by protests with placards expressing dissent.

Some individuals, like Nadim Jarrar, advocate for a more open discussion on Israel’s actions, while others, such as Sami, emphasize the need to express pain about the situation in Gaza. Germany’s vice-chancellor, Robert Habeck, acknowledges that criticism of Israel is allowed but emphasizes the non-negotiable nature of Israel’s right to exist.

However, there are concerns about the integration policy in Germany, with instances of antisemitic and anti-Israel sentiments surfacing during protests. Felix Klein, the government’s Commissioner for Jewish life in Germany, highlights the problem when criticism turns into hate denying Israel’s right to exist.

Despite the genuine anguish felt in Germany over the safety of Jewish people, there is also anger in some communities about the perceived reluctance of political classes to criticize Israel, contributing to a complex and evolving societal debate.

Picture Courtesy: Google/images are subject to copyright