Internet trolls

What happens when you talk, and really listen, to a right-wing ‘hater’

Our most passionate commenter on Facebook has repeatedly slammed us for being “fake news.” One of our editors decided to hear him out in person. The lesson: Don’t judge a book by its cover. And also: Stand up for what you believe in.

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News Bites

In her pre-vacation press conference, Chancellor Angela Merkel answered questions about Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and European refugee policy, as well as the spat with her interior minister over asylum, the NSU trial and other domestic policies.

Responding to questions about NATO, Ms. Merkel said Germany must step up to its responsibilities in a changing world. But she insisted it is important to maintain close ties to Washington and that she would continue to support the trans-Atlantic alliance.

Of the talks between the leaders of Russia and the US, Ms. Merkel said dialogue was good, and that she is glad relations between the two countries were normalizing.

Asked about her disagreement with Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, Ms. Merkel said it was an important question about refugee policy within Europe, and an effective compromise had been found, allowing Germany to remain a reliable EU partner.

Ms. Merkel underlined her backing for boats run by NGOs who rescue refugees from the Mediterranean, but said they should stick to international law.

Ms. Merkel said she has no intention of resigning. When asked, she acknowledged the year had been busy but interesting, and that she was happy to be going on holiday.

Bilfinger is demanding a sum in the triple-digit millions back from 12 board members, for failing to halt corruption. The company has now improved compliance to a similar standard at other companies, according to Louis Freeh, the former FBI boss who advised the German construction conglomerate.

Ministers in North Rhine-Westphalia’s state parliament faced questions from opposition parties about the deportation of Sami A., who was flown to Tunisia despite a court order he could stay in Germany.

A test of banks’ ability to protect themselves from cyberattacks showed much room for improvement among German financial institutions, compared to those in Belgium and the Netherlands. (WiWo)

Today, Germany commemorates those who took part in Claus von Stauffenberg’s attempt to assassinate Hitler 74 years ago.

Ireland, the Netherlands and Denmark would be worst hit by a “no-deal scenario” if the EU and UK do not agree on the terms of Brexit, an IMF report said.

Italy doesn’t want any more ships bearing refugees as part of the European Commission’s ‘Sophia’ rescue mission to dock on its shores, its foreign ministry told the EU. (Die Welt)

In a draft law, Health Minister Jens Spahn will propose paying doctors more to hold longer walk-in hours, in order to reduce patient wait times. (Deutsches Ärzteblatt)

Berlin raised the monthly benefits to relatives of those killed in the 2016 Christmas market terror attack, after criticism the payments were too low.

The head of the Protestant Church in Germany, Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, criticized the lack of empathy shown by the CSU in discussing refugee policy. (Die Welt)

German show jumpers won the top prize for the third year in a row at the international CHIO horse-riding championship in Aachen.

Germany’s finance ministry said a reduction in the assumed 6% interest rate for companies’ pension liabilities could cost up to €40 billion. The high rate is controversial given the low interest rate environment.

The online fashion portal About You attained unicorn status as a new capital injection from the Danish holding company Heartland valued the Hamburg-based startup at more than a billion dollars.

A man in small-town Thuringia crawled under a bed to hide from police who had a warrant for his arrest. But he got stuck, requiring the help of police, who were all too happy to oblige. (Spiegel)

Christian Bittar, a former star trader at Deutsche Bank, was sentenced to five years and four months in prison for his role in fixing interest rate benchmarks. (Reuters)

Spain has withdrawn its extradition requests for ex-regional president Carles Puigdemont, who is in Germany, and other Catalan separatist politicians.

Person of the day Last day of work In Angela Merkel's traditional Q&A session with journalists before summer break, one question addressed her relationship with Donald Trump: Could agreements with the US still be trusted? The German chancellor said “our familiar framework has come under tremendous pressure,” but cooperating is crucial. She also said if US tariffs on European cars cannot be averted, Europe should retaliate. Ms. Merkel welcomed Mr. Trump’s invitation to Russian President Vladimir Putin to come to DC. Source: AP
Quote of the day Head to head Echoing comments by Ms. Merkel, the head of the German Chambers of Commerce and Industry said the European Union should respond in kind if the United States decides to slap tariffs on imported cars. US auto duties would reduce German GDP by around €6 billion, Eric Schweitzer told public broadcaster ZDF. The levies would not only hit jobs in Europe but in the US as well, he said.
Picture of the day Remembering resistance German politicians are commemorating the failed bomb attack on Adolf Hitler 74 years ago, planned from army headquarters in Berlin, now known as the German Resistance Memorial Center. Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, left, planted a bomb at a meeting in modern-day Poland, but Hitler was only lightly injured. He and his accomplices were executed within hours of the failed assassination. Source: © Gedenkstätte Deutscher Widerstand
Graphic of the day Powerful and typically male These five men are Germany’s most powerful non-executive directors, who have the power to hire and fire executives and drive strategy. The top 10 are only men, and all are former CEOs of DAX-listed firms, but the number of female and non-Germans is on the rise. Seven women are listed in the top 30, up from just three last year.

Risk Cover

ECB’s new rules for bad loans make good sense

Germany approves of the new regulations on how banks can deal with bad debt and reduce risk, as introduced by the euro zone’s chief banking watchdog.

Voicing concerns

Alexa, the scourge of German retailers

Voice commerce, or selling goods using virtual assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home, is on the rise in Germany, prompting fears among traditional and small retailers.

Editors’ Pick

vicious circle

EU imposes tit-for-tat steel tariffs, threatens retaliation for US car levies

Europe imposed a tariff on steel imports and could target coal, pharma and chemicals from the United States if Washington taxes European cars. Critics say protectionism is spiraling.

Dive In

Fighting talk

Why Europe should heed Trump’s NATO warning

Forget Donald Trump’s rantings over European allies’ defense spending – the real danger is what they’ll do when America no longer comes to their aid.

B for bubble?

Glut in BBB bonds fuels warnings of market dangers

Bayer’s €20 billion bond sale in June was in line with a trend: A debt issue in the medium-grade range. But some worry that an economic downturn could turn BBB debt into junk bonds.

Android smartphone

EU antitrust fine of Google is big but too late

The US search giant has already cemented its market dominance in Europe's smartphone sector and rejects charges it is anti-competitive.

rubber to the road

Continental splits into three units amid shifts in auto industry

The world’s second-largest car parts supplier is looking for greater flexibility as it transitions to e-mobility and autonomous driving. At least one business will get a separate listing.

german universities international students

Degree of certainty

Foreign students flocking to German universities

The number of foreigners choosing to study for degrees in Germany is increasing. The country now ranks fifth, behind the US, Britain, Australia and France, as students' destination of choice.

eu japan free trade agreement, jefta

JEFTA

EU, Japan sign free-trade accord in rebuke to US

After the US withdrew from the Pacific trade pact, the European Union and Japan quickly joined forces to create the world’s largest free-trade zone.

Cleaned up

Germany overhauls chaotic anti-money-laundering unit

After a year of backlogs and delays in handling urgent money-laundering tip-offs, Germany’s new Financial Intelligence Unit is getting hundreds more staff, new powers and a new boss. 

Pipeline Defense

Nord Stream 2 takes center stage in Trump’s NATO performance

Trump is right that Germany’s reliance on Russian gas is worrying, but he is wrong to conflate the pipeline with NATO spending, write two policy experts for Handelsblatt Global.

Ask a German

Handelsblatt explains

Much about Germany is confusing or surprising to foreigners - and even to Germans. Our editors provide clarity.

All change

ThyssenKrupp shares soar as top-level departures signal breakup

With the departure of the CEO and chairman, activist investors appear to have won a boardroom battle over the future strategy of the conglomerate. It could be a turning point in German corporate governance.

Against the law?

Germany divided over illegal deportation of man linked to Al Qaeda

A former bodyguard for Osama bin Laden was deported despite a court order saying he could remain in Germany. Now, many are asking who ordered the deportation.

Surprise Comeback

SUV boom drags diesel out of the doldrums

Fueled by surging SUV demand, German diesel sales are edging up again after three years of decline. Driving ban fears are subsiding and the need to meet EU emissions targets is helping.

Win-win deal

German gas firm Messer profits from Linde-Praxair selloff

Linde and Praxair are selling assets to meet antitrust concerns over their merger. German family-owned industrial gas firm Messer has swooped in to purchase American operations, turning it into a global player.

eco charm offensive

E-car service Uber Green to launch in Berlin despite misgivings

Uber hopes its electric ride hailing service will find friends among environmentalists, but Germany will be a tough nut to crack.

middle kingdom

EU and China find new rapport in Beijing, amid US trade disputes

At last year’s summit, the EU and China had so little in common they didn’t even issue a joint statement. This year, the two parties are upholding “free trade and the multilateral order” in the face of the what appears to be a new common enemy.

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