“Berlin continues to fall short of NATO defense spending targets”
“Trump’s attacks on Berlin’s modest military spending may trigger outrage in Germany, but in the U.S., they are viewed as among his less controversial outbursts.
That might be because, like Obama before him, he has a point. Why should the U.S. continue to bear the financial brunt of protecting Europe’s richest country? That question becomes even tougher to answer when considering Germany’s continued engagement with Russia — such as via the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline — despite the loud objections of the U.S. and other allies.”
“what exactly is Germany getting right?
What’s often cited is an effective deployment of technology, such as a contact tracing app, to fight the pandemic. There’s the frequently praised mass testing program, which rivals South Korea’s, and the oversupply of ICU beds — controversial before the coronavirus, now lauded. It also helps that Angela Merkel has a doctorate in quantum chemistry and heads a country that treats scientists, like the Berlin-based virologist and podcaster Christian Drosten, like superstars.
Yet this is far from the whole story of Germany’s relative success.”
“Over the past few weeks, I talked to doctors, health officials, and researchers in Germany— including some of the country’s first Covid-19 responders — and elsewhere to get a deeper perspective on why Germany has had better-than-average pandemic performance in Europe.
I heard, again and again, four explanations for the country’s coronavirus success. They had nothing to do with tech, Merkel, or hospital beds. And they’ve been largely overlooked.
Let’s call them the L’s: luck, learning, local responses, and listening. While the pandemic certainly isn’t over, and Germany is facing a pivotal moment with a record number of new infections, these factors may be the reason Germany bends the curve quickly once again.”
“”Germany’s Network Enforcement Law, or NetzDG … requires social media companies to block or remove content that violates one of twenty restrictions on hate and defamatory speech in the German Criminal Code,” Diana Lee wrote for Yale Law School’s Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic. “In effect, the NetzDG conscripts social media companies into governmental service as content regulators,” with millions of euros in fines hanging over their heads if they guess wrong.
That model of delegated censorship has proven to be as infectious as a viral outbreak, taking hold in over a dozen other countries.”
“expected to encourage even more “overblocking” by platforms worried that they’ll face a financial death penalty if they guess wrong as to content’s legal status.”
“The U.S. faces its own speech- and privacy-threatening legislation in the form of the Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies (EARN IT) Act of 2020. The legislation, which was introduced in the House of Representatives last month, invokes children and the dangers of child pornography on its way to threatening platforms with the loss of Section 230 protection against liability for content posted by users if they don’t adopt government-dictated “best practices.”
“The EARN IT bill would allow small website owners to be sued or prosecuted under state laws, as long as the prosecution or lawsuit somehow related to crimes against children,” warns the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “We know how websites will react to this. Once they face prosecution or lawsuits based on other peoples’ speech, they’ll monitor their users, and censor or shut down discussion forums.”
This world-wide wave of censorship legislation piggy-backs on pandemic-related concerns about the quality of information and the safety of communications available to people confined to their homes. It has sometimes been passed by legislatures empowered by health-related states of emergency. Yet again, a crisis eases the way for governments to accumulate powers that would face greater resistance in happier times.”
“France and Germany, Europe’s two most powerful countries, have been hit hard by the coronavirus, with each approaching 150,000 confirmed cases. But as of April 17, France has near 18,000 dead from the infection, while Germany’s death toll has passed 4,000.
Which raises the question: How did two similarly sized countries, located right next to each other and with comparable levels of wealth and resources, end up with such starkly different outcomes?
The answer has a lot to do with how their respective governments responded to the crisis.
France had the continent’s first confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, but the French government failed for weeks to take decisive action to impose strict social distancing measures or promote large-scale testing. Germany, on the other hand, immediately began aggressively testing and tracking people with symptoms.
Now, France is under lockdown and has just extended it until at least May 11. Meanwhile, Germany plans to reopen part of its economy next week.”
“Germany isn’t out of the woods yet. But it’s in a better position than most because it had good fortune and the good sense to start testing early and often.
France, on the other hand, had none of that.”
“February came and went with little action. Health officials advised citizens to wash their hands, keep a safe distance from others, cover their mouths when sneezing, and stay away from retirement homes. And even as Macron held video conference calls on the virus and inspected hospitals and clinics to see how his country was coping, few concrete actions were taken to impose strict social distancing measures or promote large-scale testing.
In fact, in early March, the government still allowed gatherings of up to 1,000 people to proceed. Macron, for his part, attended a theater performance on March 6, partly to show that life could continue unperturbed. He also visited a retirement home that same day, even as the number of coronavirus infections in the country was at least doubling.
To make matters worse, France couldn’t get a clear picture of the growing problem due to a lack of tests. As Politico reported last week, the country doesn’t manufacture its own testing kits, but rather “relies on China for their main components.” With China paralyzed by its coronavirus outbreak at the time, France was unable to quickly get more tests. That severely limited the country’s ability to do widespread testing early on, which public health experts say is critical to slowing an outbreak.
Macron, in effect, seemed to be sleepwalking toward disaster.”