Daily briefing

Violence continues in Chemnitz while fearmongering grows

Chemnitz
Source: DPA

Regulators want to see more competition among phone providers and have called for a new, fourth operator to join in 5G network auctions next year. The new frequencies will enable massive data transfers that underpin autonomous driving and digitized industrial production. So United Internet, a major internet service provider and cellular reseller without its own network, is hoping to bid alongside Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Telefonica. While the big three charge that United is a “freerider,” the upstart’s boss calls them an “oligopoly.” Watch this space as onlookers say Germany’s very future will be determined in the next six months.

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There’s more innovation in the bus market, with that rarest of things, a German unicorn. Flixmobility is the company behind the bright green buses that zip along Europe’s motorways and autobahns. Now, the company is taking its low-cost platform model to the US, starting in California. It’s a business with lean margins, but a promising model has been created by three besties, data junkies and algorithm obsessives. Their promise is to stay surprising – their success is already pretty unexpected.

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Metro, a German retailer which started out selling coal and now runs warehouses, supermarkets and consumer electronics stores, may wind up in the hands of a Czech billionaire. Metro’s story was transformed by Haniel, a wealthy German family whose own history spans colonial trading to private equity. Now, moving into the hands of Daniel Křetínský, who otherwise runs Czech coal mines alongside malls and investment vehicles, Metro enters a new chapter.

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The violence in Chemnitz continues to send shock waves through Germany and beyond after a German man was killed on Sunday and a mob went on the rampage threatening people of color. Last night, after a minute of silence for the man who was killed, clashes erupted between right-wing demonstrators and concerned locals gathering in opposition. Protestors were injured and intimidated as 5,000 neo-Nazis gathered, barely contained by police who underestimated the situation and complained they were understaffed.

But even before the facts emerged, rumors were multiplying online with claims from around the world alleging there had been three deaths, that the victim was defending a woman being attacked by immigrants, that he was killed by refugees and that there was a coverup by, yes, the liberal media (note from inside the liberal media – there is no coverup).

Later Monday, the police applied for warrants to arrest two young men, one from Syria and one from Iraq. And leaders and security forces appealed for calm, given the hatred roiling the web.

But right-wing commentators had already spread rumors online that the killers were migrants and allowing people asylum was a mistake. One former Daily Mail writer took to Twitter to report crowds that said they were “sick of the media defending migrants” and shouting “lying press,” a phrase the Nazis used in their propaganda.

Alongside the incendiary voices, there were appeals to reason. Angela Merkel condemned the violence and Germany’s central council of Jews said citizens have a duty to unite against the mob and to act before it is too late.

But those appeals are easily lost in the deafening echo chamber of social media. The lies coming from abroad, and politicization of these events engender mob violence. And that can be organized ever faster online. German researchers said older neo Nazis in Chemnitz were able to connect with a younger generation, raising the numbers who took to the streets. Failing to recognize how hatred gains momentum online from around the world, and respond, is costing people’s lives.

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