Opinion | Macron Puts Germany on Trial – By Sylvie Kauffmann – The New York Times

Sylvie Kauffmann

By Sylvie Kauffmann

Ms. Kauffmann is the editorial director of Le Monde.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President Emmanuel Macron of France last month in Berlin, where he criticized German policies in unusually blunt terms.CreditAbdulhamid Hosbas/Anadolu Agency, via Getty Images

“PARIS — Two days after he took office as France’s president, Emmanuel Macron flew to Berlin. It was May 16, 2017, and France and Germany needed a reset. Joined at the hip, the two nations cannot make Europe work if they don’t work together. Mr. Macron had been elected to transform France, and he was convinced that real change in his country would happen only through better European integration.

Hope was in the air as the young, ambitious but untested French president met Angela Merkel, the stern three-term German chancellor. Ms. Merkel quoted the German poet Hermann Hesse: “A magic dwells in each beginning.” Ever the realist, however, she cautiously added, “Charm lasts only if there are results.”

Two years on, the results are nowhere to be seen and the charm has given way to exasperation. When Ms. Merkel and Mr. Macron met on the sidelines of a Berlin summit on the western Balkans, on April 29, their talk was kept to a strict minimum — 15 minutes. Asked at a news conference about the French-German relationship four days earlier, Mr. Macron answered in unusually blunt terms. He openly admitted for the first time that France disagreed with Germany on Brexit strategy, energy policy, climate change, trade negotiations with the United States — and the list could have been longer. Though he chose to stop there, he vowed to voice his differences firmly for the sake, he said, of “fruitful confrontations.”

Mr. Macron went on to suggest that “the German growth model has perhaps run its course.” In his view, Germany, having made belt-tightening reforms that were right for its own economy, had fully benefited from the imbalances created within the eurozone; especially hard hit were the Southern economies like Spain, Greece and Italy, for which austerity was bitter and destabilizing. These imbalances have worsened, Mr. Macron pointed out, and they now “run counter to the social project” he supports.”

Overlooked No More: Mabel Grammer- Whose Brown Baby Plan Found Homes for Hundreds – The New York Times


By Alexis Clark

“They were called “brown babies,” or “mischlingskinder,” a derogatory German term for mixed-race children. And sometimes they were just referred to as mutts.

They were born during the occupation years in Germany after World War II, the offspring of German women and African-American soldiers. Their fathers were usually transferred elsewhere and their mothers risked social repercussions by keeping them, so the babies were placed in orphanages.

But when Mabel Grammer, an African-American journalist, became aware of the orphaned children, she stepped in. She and her husband, an army chief warrant officer stationed in Mannheim, and later Karlsruhe, adopted 12 of them, and Grammer found homes for 500 others.”

via Overlooked No More: Mabel Grammer, Whose Brown Baby Plan Found Homes for Hundreds – The New York Times

Opinion | Is Merkel to Blame for Brexit? – by Jochen Bittner – NYT


For those of us who still want to see a vibrant, unified Europe, our best hope for the moment is the faint chance for a second referendum on Brexit. If Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan on how to leave does not find approval in Westminster, the question of whether to leave with no deal at all could be put to the British people: Look, is this really what you want?


It is a remote possibility, yet it offers Ms. Merkel her own second chance — an opportunity to do everything she can to show British voters that the European Union is worth keeping. She could begin by endorsing limits — even slight ones — on the free internal movement of labor. Done right, it would send a signal that Brussels and Berlin are listening to voters, while doing minimal harm to Europe’s labor markets.

This would not hurt the principle of free movement as such. It would also be a move that the Germans themselves might find attractive, given that a new batch of countries — this time in the western Balkans — are lining up for membership. Whatever her answer, the choice is pretty clear for the European Union: reform, or face the next revolt.

Jochen Bittner is a political editor for the weekly newspaper Die Zeit and a contributing opinion writer.

via Opinion | Is Merkel to Blame for Brexit? – The New York Times

The East Germans of the 21st Century – by David Brooks – NYT

Every few years I try to write a column staking out a reasonable middle ground on immigration. After all, most big, important issues are clashes in which both sides have a piece of the truth.

The case for restricting immigration seems superficially plausible. Over the last several decades we’ve conducted a potentially reckless experiment. The number of foreign-born Americans is at record highs, straining national cohesion, raising distrust. Maybe America should take a pause, as we did in the 1920s. After all, that pause seemed to produce the cohesive America of the 1940s that won the war and rose to pre-eminence.

Every few years I try to write this moderate column. And every few years I fail. That’s because when you wade into the evidence you find that the case for restricting immigration is pathetically weak. The only people who have less actual data on their side are the people who deny climate change.

You don’t have to rely on pointy-headed academics. Get in your car. If you start in rural New England and drive down into Appalachia or across into the Upper Midwest you will be driving through county after county with few immigrants. These rural places are often 95 percent white. These places lack the diversity restrictionists say is straining the social fabric.

Are these counties marked by high social cohesion, economic dynamism, surging wages and healthy family values? No. Quite the opposite. They are often marked by economic stagnation, social isolation, family breakdown and high opioid addiction. Charles Murray wrote a whole book, “Coming Apart,” on the social breakdown among working-class whites, many of whom live in these low immigrant areas.

via The East Germans of the 21st Century – The New York Times

Challenging piece with good comments after, such as:


Upstate NY 13 hours ago

Rural areas have been declining, and have done worse economically than urban areas, for decades, and it’s not because of immigration. Small farms were driven out by big industrial farms. Jobs moved South to take advantage of cheap non-union labor, lower taxes (coupled with less government service), snow-free winters and air-conditioned summers. Manufacturing moved to the South, to Mexico, and overseas. The Rural Electrification Agency brought electricity to rural areas in the 1930, but Republicans have refused to force telecom companies to provide internet service to these areas today.

I could go on. The point is, it’s not the fault of some ingrained anti-immigrant attitude. Attitudes didn’t cause economic decline. Decline causes the attitudes. Obama was right when he said that when a community suffers hard times year after year, people cling to their guns and their religion. They also cling to their clans. My guess is that David Brooks has never experienced hard financial times, or lived in a struggling rural community, and I don’t think he’ll ever understand it. But these folks aren’t going away, even if Trump does, and they’ve got an electoral college advantage that coupd swing elections for decades.

David Lindsay Jr.

Hamden, CT 

Excellent column. David Brooks is basically right, but leaves this writer with questions. Immigration helps local populations historically, but only while there are adequate natural resources for the growth. Brooks avoids the need for world zero population growth, or negative population growth, which makes him a bit of an anthropocentric dinosaur. Many scientist who look at these issues agree that 7.5 billion humans is unsustainable, not to mention 13 or 14 billion humans, which is were we are currently headed. For this environmentalist, the most interesting piece in the NYT this week, was of the 14 year drought in Iran, and forecasts by the CNA.org that 50 billion Iranians might well become refugees trying to leave the country in the near future. Iran is heading to becoming like Syria, torn asunder by drought and then civil war. Its aquifers are running dry. Source: “Warning, Water Crisis, Then Unrest: Iran Fits a Pattern.” NYT 1/19/18 The news gets worse. “The World Resource Institute warned this month of the rise of water stress globally, “with 33 countries projected to face extremely high stress in 2040.” “

A sophisticated and future looking immigration policy would be joined with a call for negative population growth in the world. The US will have to avoid taking in millions of climate change refugees, if not teathered to world negative population policies.


David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at The TaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNewsWorldwide.wordpress.com

Germany and the Age of Political Absolutism – by Anna Sauerbrey – The New York Times

“When asked during a news conference on Monday afternoon why he dropped out of the talks, Mr. Lindner listed areas where the negotiations didn’t yield the results his party wanted. The other parties would agree only to a gradual elimination of the “Soli,” a tax used to help the economies of former East German regions. The Free Democrats had also sought limits on immigration, but the Greens insisted on exceptions for humanitarian reasons. These are completely normal and necessary compromises — but the Free Democrats apparently feared that their voters would be told by the AfD that the party had sold them out for a chance to rule.

The sudden end of the talks is a huge blow to Germany’s global image as a stable, responsible power. Compared to what is at stake on the global level, the discussion on when to end the Soli looks tiny. But then it is exactly this, the disdain for what seem like petty concerns in the name of compromise, that has fed the rise of populism in the first place.

Mr. Lindner and others need the political courage not just to compromise, but to explain to the public why compromise is vital to German democracy.”

via Germany and the Age of Political Absolutism – The New York Times

Thank you. This is useful, and important information.

Angela Merkel’s Anti-Ideology – The New York Times


“BERLIN — She’s running again. Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced that she will once again lead her party, the center-right Christian Democrats, in Germany’s national election next September. If the party wins, she will capture a fourth term, running a country increasingly rived by populism and xenophobia.

But in starting the battle, she has also, in a way, called it off. Hillary Clinton made her campaign about defending America against the evils of populism and retrograde nationalism; Ms. Merkel will pretend there is no such war. As her campaign, just a week old, has already made clear, she will do everything she can to avoid standing against ideologies, or for them. And this might be a very smart move.”

Source: Angela Merkel’s Anti-Ideology – The New York Times