Category: Debts

Nazi Crime: New Charges Against Former SS Guards

The public prosecutor’s office in Dortmund has brought charges against two men who had belonged to the SS guards in the National Socialist concentration camp Stutthof. They are accused of murder.

The entrance to the former concentration camp Stutthof near Gdansk. The entrance to the former concentration camp Stutthof near Gdansk.

More than 72 years after the end of the Second World War, there could be a further trial in Germany for Nazi crimes : the public prosecutor’s office in Dortmund filed charges against two former SS men who had been members of the guards at the concentration camp Stutthof near Gdansk. A 92-year-old from Wuppertal and a 93-year-old from the Borken district is accused of aiding and abetting the murder of several hundred people. The Münster district court must now decide on the opening of a procedure.

Both men were responsible both for the guarding of the camp and for the supervision of labor commands outside the camp, according to a statement of the district court Münster. On 21 and 22 June 1944 more than 100 Polish prisoners were murdered in the gas chamber in Stutthof. A little later, at least 77 wounded Soviet prisoners of war and several hundred Jews were killed in the same way. In the camp itself, the living conditions at the behest of the SS leadership and the camp management had been so bad that several hundred prisoners died of diseases such as typhus and typhus or by lack of medical care, the prosecutors emphasized. Inmates not classified as “fit for work” were killed by shots. More than 140 people, including many Jewish women and children, were murdered through injections.

Defendants admitted guard duty in Stutthof

The prosecutors assume that the two defendants knew all this – and that they were aware that “in this way and with this regularity, it could only be killed if the victims were guarded by assistants like them”. The two men have admitted to have been guards in Stutthof, but they deny having participated in the murder of the prisoners. Of the 110,000 prisoners in the concentration camp, at least 65,000 died. Shortly after the German invasion of Poland in 1939, the first prisoners were taken to the Stutthof camp, mainly Polish intellectuals from Gdansk. In 1944, deportation trains from Hungary arrived there, Stutthof became one of the crime scenes of the mass murder of European Jews.

Another former SS man charged in Frankfurt

In the names of the two men who were now being charged, the Central Office for the Investigation of National Socialist Crimes had come to Ludwigsburg, as it evaluated lists of SS guards. After the trial of the former SS guard in Sobibor, John Demjanuk, and especially after the final verdict against the former “Auschwitz accountant” , Oskar Gröning, the investigators had begun to search for other guards.

Cabinet meeting in Potsdam: In artificial intelligence, the human must be the focus – Politics – Tagesspiegel

The curator Judith Spickermann is in the exhibition: "Artificial Intelligence and Robotics" in the Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum in front of a service robot named Pepper. The curator Judith Spickermann is in the exhibition: “Artificial Intelligence and Robotics” in the Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum vor … Photo: Guido Kirchner / dpa

If you want to have your liver spots checked, you have to go to the dermatologist today. The waiting time is often long, the worry big if a stain looks unusual. Is this skin cancer? In the future, it should be possible to check it from home via a smartphone app: take a picture of the spot, wait a minute, the result will come – this is possible with artificial intelligence (AI) , with which data can be evaluated in seconds. For this to work, the program has to learn how a harmless spot looks and how evil. Around 70,000 pictures are necessary for this. Only: where should the app developers get the photos?

The government wants to make such data much easier for researchers and developers to use as part of its Artificial Intelligence strategy. Because only then can products such as the app in Germany be developed – before it makes the competition in China, where there is almost no privacy. Or one of the tech platforms from the US, which can rely on gigantic amounts of data like Facebook or Google.

On Thursday, the government will therefore decide on an AI strategy in its Cabinet meeting in the Hasso Plattner Institute, which will make Germany the world leader in AI. The strategy for this could come just in time, so that Germany is not left behind in the race for innovation leadership. Against China, where the state spends billions on AI research and development. And the US, where the Silicon Valley companies themselves invest billions in AI.

Even today, business models are increasingly data-driven, but in the future there will hardly be a product that is not “intelligent”: autonomously driving cars, sensors that warn their wearer half an hour before a heart attack, digital voice assistants who manage the networked household by acclamation.

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Researchers in Germany hold

If Germany wants to participate in this lucrative market , it needs more than easier access to data. The strategy must therefore also provide an answer to how researchers can be better kept in Germany. Leading AI institutes complain that they are wooing the best people from companies and laboratories in China and America on a weekly basis. One million dollars is supposedly paid there for top executives, a supply package for the family is added. How should the TVÖD keep up?

Maybe in the end it will not always be the one with the heaviest check – but the one with the most attractive overall package. That’s where the government has to go with its strategy. For example, it must enable researchers to use hybrid models to develop products and services alongside their research. For this they need test fields that are not down to the last detail. And data that the state will make available to them in the future – at first free of charge, before he opens his hand to get his share of the potential business success.

But these data alone will not be enough. It needs a kind of trustee or data pool, in which the citizens confidently bring in and control their – anonymous – data. But they will only be willing to do that if they understand how not only the society as a whole but also individuals as individuals can benefit. Communicating this remains an essential task for the government even after the decision of the strategy.

Working conditions at Ryanair

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Hubertus Heil and Frank Bsirske are equally horrified. “There are working conditions here that I did not think possible. We meet the 19th century, “says the head of the services union Verdi. “Here fundamental workers’ rights are trampled on and globalization equated with exploitation,” adds Bundesarbeitsminister Heil (SPD) on Friday morning at Frankfurt Airport. Both have been talking intensively with employees of the Irish low-cost airline Ryanair .

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary express his employees like a lemon, the visitors say. Half a dozen flight attendants nod in agreement as Heil, Bsirske and the Hessian SPD leader Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel describe their impressions. And keep up signs on which they claim their rights. Also the abolition of paragraph 117 of the Works Constitution Act. The stating that the staff of an airline in the cabin as well as in the cockpit can form a works council only if there is a collective agreement.

Because this is not the case with Ryanair, the employees can not choose a substitute, making it difficult to assert their rights. “We will close this gap by the end of the year,” promises Heil. He launched a corresponding initiative in the Federal Cabinet.

According to Bsirske, the cabin crew at Ryanair are working on the verge of subsistence and face repression and threats. Most young people have worse working conditions than their grandparents. “When I started my job a year ago, I had a gross monthly wage of 900 euros,” says a 20-year-old Italian, who is based in Frankfurt as a flight attendant. Before that, she paid 3000 euros for her education. In the beginning she was employed by an agency, today she has a contract with Ryanair and gets 1200 Euro gross; Half of it goes for the rent.

Cansel Kiziltepe: SPD MP accompanies Ryanair stewardess to scare-date

A machine of the Irish low-cost airline Ryanair landing in Frankfurt am Main. The Kreuzberg member of parliament Cansel Kiziltepe (SPD) wants to support a flight attendant of Ryanair on Tuesday at a very unpleasant appointment. Kiziltepe, since 2013 for the SPD in the Bundestag and deputy fiscal spokeswoman for her group , plans to visit the headquarters of the low-cost airline in the Irish capital Dublin on Tuesday afternoon. This confirmed the MP to the Tagesspiegel on Monday evening. She will travel with a flight attendant from the airline who was quoted for the Dublin call. An exact reason was not called her, said employee Janina Schneider *. After discussions with colleagues, however, she expects to receive her notice.

She was only half a year with Ryanair, in two weeks, their contract would be terminated, Schneider said. In the meantime, she had to get sick three times for a total of seven days. She also participated in strike action. For experience, Ryanair shows little understanding for this. Therefore, Schneider’s concern is to be fired. “They’re always finding new people so they can just throw us away,” she said.

Complaints about “temporary workers in chain contracts”

Representative Kiziltepe has regularly met with Ryanair staff as a “godmother” of the Verdi union in recent months. These are currently dealing with their employer a fierce conflict. It is about things that are taken for granted in most German Airlines: Regulated working hours, employment contracts that do not feel like fake self-employment, a universal collective agreement, the approval of works councils.

The new Karstadt owner: René Benko, the golden boy from Tyrol

Image result for René Benko

René Benko has a flair for the business. He has become rich with real estate. The Tyrolean does not even have a high school diploma. At the age of 17, the son of a community official and an educator dropped out of school to build dusty attics into luxury apartments. In 1999, at the beginning of 20, he founded his first company called Immofina. A year later he bought his first objects: two attics in Vienna. This then became the company group Signa with a real estate assets of 6.5 billion euros. His projects include, among others, the “Golden Quarter”, for which Benko in Vienna built some streets in the city center into a Nobel shopping mall with luxury apartments.

“It’s not just talent, but also the consequence of working hard, not giving up, not leaving the path and moving and doing more than others want to do,” Benko said three years ago when he spoke with the Austrian Caesar was named Real Estate Manager of the Year. He does not only rely on his own strength, but also knows how to engage the right people. He has, for example, brought the former Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer, the management consultant Roland Berger and former Porsche CEO Wendelin Wiedeking onto the advisory board of his Signa Group.

His 37-year-old’s success is due not only to his flair for luxurious apartments, but also to his talent for convincing wealthy and influential people, such as the Greek shipowner George Economou, whom he met in 2008 and the 50 percent of Signa stops (see page 8). Gladly shows Benko with celebrities from politics, business, sports and entertainment, it can be seen on the Signa website with Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier and in a video on Youtube with Tina Turner. Benko has long been a star himself.

But the success of the golden boy, as he called “time Austria”, also has a dark side. His good contacts did not prevent him from being sentenced to a one-year probation sentence in a corruption trial: he was accused of using his tax adviser to bribe politicians who should intervene in favor of Signa in a tax matter. The Supreme Court in Vienna confirmed the judgment recently.

The flight attendant companion

Image result for Cansel Kiziltepe of the SPD

It was a special business trip for the Kreuzberg member of parliament Cansel Kiziltepe of the SPD. On Tuesday she accompanied three Berlin employees of the Irish low-cost airline Ryanair, which had been cited in the headquarters to Dublin. The reason for this “invitation” was not very clear. All three, two men and one lady, work as flight attendants and had previously participated in strike action. As a rule, this employer is allergic, also allegedly with dismissals. Where he leads in different cases, other reasons.

Kiziltepe wanted to support the three, see what she had heard only by hearsay in her capacity as a volunteer “godmother” for the service union Verdi. And preferably the opinion of the management of this airline. “It can not be the case that companies cross-borderly violate workers’ rights. That’s why I would like to personally support and accompany the employee on her difficult date, ” she told the Tagesspiegel before leaving for Dublin.

And as a precaution, she also published a short video on her Facebook page , in which the slightly more prominent Federal Labor Minister and SPD party colleague Hubertus Heil stands by her side. “The employees at Ryanair have our support,” says Heil in the film. “The job situation at this company has moved me deeply, because I have experienced that cabin crew members not only have bad wages, not only bad working conditions, but, when they started arguing for their rights, were downright harassed.” ( Read here a report from a visit to Salvation by Frankfurt Ryanair staff).

The federal government and countries are aiming at a change in the law

From this one would have to draw conclusions. “We will change a law in Germany. There will also be a works council guarantee for the airspace, “Heil announced, opening doors for some of the federal states to launch a corresponding Federal Council initiative. Apparently, salvation seeks to amend paragraph 117 of the Works Constitution Act before the end of the year. This states that aviation companies do not necessarily have to make their employees working in flight available through a works council.

Heil explains in the film that Kiziltepe accompanies the Ryanair staff to make it clear in Dublin that “who confuses globalization with exploitation, the resistance not only of employees, but the entire German social democracy and European politics.”

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About this concentrated social democratic support, the three were pleased by the Ryanair crew. Colleague Janina Schneider, said she was barely half a year with Ryanair, in two weeks, her contract should be time-limited. During that time, she had to get sick three times for a total of seven days. She also confirms her participation in strike action – and flew to Ireland with a queasy feeling. “They’re always finding new people so they can just throw us away,” she said. For 13 years she worked for various employers and never had a similar conflict. “We went on strike because we just want our rights. That means, for example, a German employment contract . That’s not asking too much, is it? “

Everything was over after ten minutes

Tuesday afternoon, the group arrived at the Ryanair headquarters. All three colleagues had one-to-one interviews – none of them lasted more than five to ten minutes, reported the MP, who had to wait in an anteroom. “Extremely friendly”, everyone had been treated. However, probably hard in the matter. So the Irish wanted to learn from the employee Schneider also the reason for their sick leave.

Cansel Kiziltepe asked for an appointment with Ryanair’s personnel manager, with whom she apparently already had contact. He was not there. Another conversation partner, who would have been eligible, was not on the fast. “I did not sign up,” admits Kiziltepe. Whether their escort helped these three flight attendants in the end or even harmed, was not clear by Tuesday night. While other colleagues in Dublin are said to have received immediate notice of termination, Ryanair’s staffers consoled these three for the next few days.

High rents – Expensive real estate: housing prices become a risk of poverty

More and more Germans are overindebted. Especially the elderly are affected

In Germany, people are gorgeous, one should think. Unemployment is low and the economy is good. Nevertheless, more and more people are unable to pay their bills on a long-term basis and are over-indebted. This year, the number of over-indebted consumers in the Federal Republic has risen by around 19,000 to more than 6.9 million, the credit agency Creditreform reported on Tuesday in Dusseldorf. In other words, in just over one in ten adults, total expenditure is consistently higher than revenue. Overall, the Germans are now in debt with 208 billion euros.

This development particularly affects seniors from the age of 70 years. 263,000 of them are in debt – 35 percent more than last year. The situation is similar for the 60 to 69 year olds. The increase in employment at retirement age is an indication that the pension is often no longer sufficient, said the head of economic research of Creditreform, Michael Bretz. On the other hand, there is also a ray of hope: Consumers under the age of 30 have noticeably less debt.

Cause of the increasing debt are, among other things, the high housing prices . The development of income and housing costs has decoupled especially in structurally strong regions such as the big cities. While purchasing power is slow to settle, the cost of rents and real estate has soared. The Creditreform Debt Atlas states: “At least in German cities, housing has become a risk of poverty, in any case an over-indebted risk.” At the same time, the study warned that over-indebtedness, caused by high housing costs, would only be visible with a time lag Real estate boom abated. ” Moreover , if the economic situation deteriorates , which is to be expected in view of the global conditions and the economic cycle, the number of cases of over-indebtedness will increase noticeably in the near future.”

Although unemployment is still the most common cause of debt, it is becoming less important as a booming job market. Instead, uneconomic housekeeping is developing into a new main trigger.

Key interest rate remains at zero: ECB chief Draghi sees no problem in Italy’s debt

Related imageThe key interest rate in the eurozone remains at the record low of zero percent, at least until the summer of next year. This was confirmed by ECB President Mario Draghi on Thursday after the meeting of the Council of the Central Bank. However, the ECB is sticking to its plan to end purchases of government and government bonds issued by eurozone countries at the end of the year.

Draghi was also confident that a solution could be found for the dispute between the EU Commission and Italy over the country’s budgetary policy. But he made clear that the ECB insists on compliance with the rules of the Stability Pact.

In addition to the zero interest rate , which has been at a record low since March 2016, the Governing Council of the ECB also left the interest rate that banks must pay on deposits at the central bank at minus 0.4 percent. In recent months, the ECB has halved its bond purchases to a level of 15 billion euros per month. In total, since March 2015, it has purchased more than € 2.5 trillion worth of paper.

At most, the economy is experiencing a period of weakness

The aim is to boost lending in the euro area, which in turn boosts growth and ultimately inflation. The ECB is aiming for an inflation rate of two percent. Draghi has not yet reached that, although it was at 2.1 percent in September. However, the ECB is responsible for the widely fluctuating prices for energy and food.

New procedure: Middelhoff should have deceived creditors by millions

Against the former Arcandor boss Thomas Middelhoff runs according to media reports a new procedure. He should have made fortunes before his personal bankruptcy.

Ex-Arcandor boss Thomas Middelhoff. The prosecution Bielefeld has initiated after investigations by WDR and ” Süddeutsche Zeitung ” a new procedure against the former top manager Thomas Middelhoff and his lawyer Hartmut Fromm. Middelhoff is said to have moved before his personal bankruptcy sums of money and have deceived creditors so. Fromm should have supported him. The prosecution had confirmed this on request, reported WDR and “Süddeutsche” on Tuesday. The two accused therefore denied the allegations.

The former Arcandor boss Middelhoff was sentenced in November 2014 by the district court of Essen to three years imprisonment , among other things for embezzlement of corporate assets. He was released in November 2017. On 31 March 2015, he submitted a request for private insolvency proceedings, according to the report.

It is undisputed that in the years before the personal bankruptcy more and more of the Middelhoff assets flowed into companies that his lawyer Fromm controlled, wrote the “Süddeutsche”. In return, these companies regularly paid money to Middelhoff to finance his private life and his legal fees.

Middelhoff’s insolvency administrator Thorsten Fuest has sued Fromm and his Berlin law firm Bielefeld district court for payment of 5.1 million euros, reported the “Süddeutsche”. The content of this action had also triggered the prosecutor’s investigation.

Strategy of the Federal Government: Germany wants to be a leader in artificial intelligence

When the Cabinet meets on Wednesday and Thursday for the closed-door meeting in Potsdam, nothing less than Germany’s future viability is on the agenda. The Artificial Intelligence strategy is to be decided. The paper in the Tagesspiegel, with its 80 pages, is almost a small coalition agreement. Although some concrete measures can be found in it – in some points the strategy shows weaknesses.

It wants to invest three billion euros by 2025 in order to make Germany “one of the world’s leading locations for AI”. That may sound like a lot, but can be seen in an international comparison: France is 1.5 billion euros in AI by 2023, China wants to create by 2030 a government-sponsored 150-billion-dollar industry.

For the time being, only € 50 million is earmarked for AI research in 2019, € 450 million for subsequent years. 116 million euros are added to the Agency for Jump Innovations – that even more money is added is not excluded. The government is already demonstrating its ambition with the strategy to apply for additional funds. In any case, it assumes that its funding will also trigger investment in industry, science and in the federal states, so that it will “at least double the funds made available by the federal government”.

AI research itself is already excellent in Germany . To keep it that way, at least twelve centers should join together to form a network. From the originally announced German-French research center in physical form, however, only a “virtual center” is left in the end.

Government wants to tie up overall package

In order to hold top researchers and attract them from abroad, the government wants to create an attractive “overall package”. So there should be a dual-career model, which makes it easier for them to switch between science and industry. This addresses one of the big sticking points: Excellent research has so far rarely and too slowly found its way into marketable products and services by German companies – just like the MP3 player, whose technology was developed in Germany, but the money is companies from Asia.

But no concrete solution is found in the strategy of how KI top researchers can be better paid in the future. This would require an adjustment of the civil service collective agreement (TVöD), but so far there have been no allegations of any talks between Verdi and the civil servants’ union with the Ministry of Economy. Here the government would have to reload.

Researchers not only need good working conditions, but above all data. Therefore, the government wants to promote research for pseudonymization and anonymization. If convincing models are developed here, more citizens should also be prepared to make their data available for research purposes. In addition to real data, the government also wants to push ahead, however, that data can be generated more easily in the future synthetically. Companies themselves are to enter into “data partnerships” with the involvement of the antitrust authorities.

The middle class should profitImage result for Deutschland will bei Künstlicher Intelligenz führend sein

This should then also benefit the middle class, who should get in the matter of AI tuition from so-called “AI trainers”. At least 20 such trainers should advise and assist the small and medium-sized companies with the implementation of AI. The effect of such measures is so far difficult to measure. This should change now: With an AI monitoring, the government wants to determine the penetration of AI applications.

A German AI observatory is also to be founded, which should in particular observe how AI affects the world of work. In the future, it could also act as a supervisory body and, for example, check application and personnel planning software for discrimination. There was no agreement between the ministries on a separate employment data protection law. Here is probably 2019 refilled.

In any case, at the beginning of 2020, one year before the end of the current legislative period, the government intends to review how the strategy works and whether and how it has to be adapted to the new developments – so that “KI – made in Germany” becomes a seal of quality.'[‘