Morning Briefing

Free Citizens or Fair Game?

The terrorist attack in Manchester has enraged the western world. The Queen is “shocked”; German President Frank Walter Steinmeier is “shaken.” While anguish is understandable, it’s not a policy. The question of security – of how the state protects its people, their property, their integrity and their lives – is once again at the center of a social debate that will be with us for a long time. Terrorism overshadows all other issues, including social justice. There is no greater injustice than losing children who, on a mild May night, just wanted to hear some music and dance.

The tremors of this latest terrorist attack have shaken politicians and voters engaged in the German federal election as well. Their public space is jeopardized.  Rather than feeling free, people feel like fair game. So policymakers need to respond to the real danger and the perception of danger, which is just as important. They need to deliver an answer that doesn’t fit snugly into their party program. Put another way, if the state can’t guarantee security, then it shouldn’t ban surveillance cameras. This isn’t about protecting data – it’s about protecting people.

Daimler, the maker of Mercedes cars, had some unexpected visitors yesterday. Twenty-three German prosecutors and more than 200 state and local police officers searched offices in the Stuttgart headquarters, Berlin and nine other locations. The raids are part of an investigation into whether the automaker evaded emission rules with its diesel motors. Daimler says it’s clean, but authorities smell something dirty. The time has come to let the facts do the talking.

It’s a meeting today in the Vatican of two of the world’s most intriguing, complex and contradictory figures: the populist poltergeist Donald Trump and Pope Francis, the holy man in white who has repeatedly questioned the president’s humanity. The head of the Catholic Church rejects Trump’s positions on women, the environment and refugees. He recently urged world leaders to be “gentle and humble” on these issues.  The problem is that Trump has good ears but doesn’t understand anything, least of all the meaning of “gentle” and “humble”.

While Trump basks in the global limelight of the Holy See, one of his not-so-buddy Republicans, Senator John McCain, is grabbing the national headlines back home. Yesterday, he cornered Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence. McCain pressed the former US ambassador to Germany on the validity of a Washington Post report alleging that the president had asked him to push back on the FBI’s probe into whether there was any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Coats’ answer: “I don’t feel it’s appropriate to characterize discussions and conversations with the president.” That’s one way to tie a hangman’s noose.

Picture of the Day

headdress
A model wears a floral headdress at the Royal Horticultural Society's Chelsea Flower show in London. Source: Dylan Martinez/Reuters
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