Friday, February 28, 2003

SLEEPING ON THE JOB: Interesting post today from Eamonn Fitzgerald on a German bank's financial troubles...
AMIS ON THE MOVE: Lots of chatter today about the relocation of American troops to bases in the East.

Spiegel is citing reports from Bulgarian News Agency (BTA). The Foreign Minister of Bulgaria, just back from a trip to the US, is apparently talking up four to five possible bases for American troops.

And Die Welt mentions Hungary, in addition to providing quite a few details about possible plans in Poland.

Die Welt is citing the Hungarian newspaper Népszabadság. The article says that the airport in Biala Podlaska, Poland (not far from the Belarus border), could serve to replace the pivotal role that the Frankfurt airport now plays for US forces in Western Europe.

Can anyone out there read Hungarian?

EVEN ASHCROFT WAS PLEASED: Kudos to the Washington Post editorial page for this:
"It is a harsh sentence, but I think it is justified," said German Interior Minister Otto Schily in response to the conviction last week of Mounir Motassadeq on 3,066 counts of accessory to murder. Is 15 years in prison a "harsh" punishment for willfully aiding mass murder? ... Mr. Motassadeq will spend 1.8 days in prison for each count on which he has been found guilty -- unless, that is, he is released early.
We understand that European countries have different visions of just sentencing than those that prevail in this country; in many areas, the European reluctance to lock people up for long periods offers a healthy example. But as Mr. Motassadeq's case demonstrates, inflexible maximum sentences can produce offensive absurdities in terrorism cases. Fifteen years is not enough time for more than 3,000 dead.
My gut feeling when the sentence was handed down last week was pretty much the same.

Most German headlines at the time called it a "long sentence." The dpa reported that Motassadeq had "hardly expected" to receive "the full severity of the law."

The official American reaction that I've seen -- from John Ashcroft even -- has also been quite positive.

The WaPo makes its point with balance: we understand that German sentencing laws are different, and we even see this as positive, but come on: 15 years for knowingly aiding in mass murder?

Thursday, February 27, 2003

HOW GERMANY LOOKS AT SPAIN: This isn't a German-Spanish blog, but I thought I'd pull this bit from the International Herald Tribune today:
Guenther Grass, the Nobel Prize-winning novelist, German Social Democratic Party member and a signer of a declaration backing Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's position of no war even with United Nations backing, accused Aznar in Madrid on Wednesday of returning Spain to "pre-democratic" circumstances (read the Franco era) and serving as "a vassal" to the United States. According to Grass, whose politics over the years included rejection of German reunification, "Europe says no to the United States."
Maybe John over at Iberian Notes can give us some more insight into this IHT piece on Spain and Prime Minister Aznar...

UPDATE: John has posted a few remarks here. Thanks.

WHAT'S THE FRENCH WORD FOR IRRELEVANT: A couple days ago, Diablogger recounted an episode in a Florida restaurant, starring some highly sophisticated professors with European blood. During a discussion about Iraq, the German-accented Herr Doktors just couldn't imagine "how someone who can't read French and German newspapers can possibly be informed on this matter."

Ignoring what the French might say about the comparison of their (journalism) culture with Germany's, it appears that these profs were actually right.

In today's Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer notes:

However, winning the peace [in Iraq] will mean not just the reconstruction of Iraq. It will mean replacing an alliance system that died some years ago, but whose obituary was written only this year. In French, with German footnotes.
Dust off those dictionaries. It's time to translate the new world order...
DON'T QUOTE ME ON THAT: Did German Defense Minister Peter Struck really put it this way...?
I think that we've done enough for Turkey.
At least that's how Spiegel quotes him. Sure, Germany had already said no to further support, and a government spokesman did say something about "others showing solidarity." But is such a confrontational stance really the German strategy?

In an interview with television station ZDF (although I can't find it online), Foreign Minister Fischer apparently contributed to this less-than-diplomatic course:

From our perspective, that's enough defensive support [for Turkey].
I have to admit, when I first read the initial report in Die Welt (translated by Jabba in a post below), where Germany said it wouldn't deliver additional Patriot missile batteries, I didn't see it as such big news. First of all, it was just a spokesman doing the talking.

And in any case, Germany pretty much has no further support to offer.

The German Bundeswehr (military), believe it or not, is overextended. They have round about 8,000 servicemen and women participating in different missions all over the world. They simply don't have much more.

To me, that would've been a legitimate reason why they can't (or don't want to) provide any more support to Turkey. But using the line that it's now time for others to show solidarity is, in my opinion, a thin one.

Part of the problem, especially if you listen to Germany's Greens, appears to be that Turkey is by its own choice allowing the US to move troops through their country. This is the logic: if you support an illegitimate war in Iraq, then you forfeit your right to NATO defense.

Obviously, this argument doesn't stand up, especially for Germany, which has indeed (and rightfully) allowed the US to move troops through their country.

So now, what should happen if Hussein gets off one those missiles that he doesn't have, and it lands in Germany? Should NATO refuse its support?

UPDATE: The AFP is quoting Struck's categorical no as well: "Ich denke, wir haben genug getan für die Türkei." ... And Reuters made a subheader out of it.

IF MARX HAD BEEN GROUCHO: Who even needs The Online when you've got Reuters?
HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba's communist authorities can't get enough of Marx, the German guy Karl. It's Groucho they won't allow into the country.
A shipment of 5,100 books sent by the U.S. government to Cuba for the island's independent libraries -- including Groucho's "Memoirs of a Mangy Lover" -- have been held up at customs.
"Karl and Groucho. Both brought tears to the eyes of millions, but for very, very different reasons" (USA Today).
NOT A DAY MORE: Condoleeza Rice has an interview in Friday's issue of Die Welt. She doesn't break any new policy, but instead repeats the maxim that US forces will remain in Iraq as long as necessary -- "but really not a minute longer."

Andrew Sullivan and his readers have been discussing the meaning and import of this strategy, first made policy in President Bush's speech on Wednesday night.

LOOK IN THE MIRROR: Presidents Putin and Bush had an apparently cooperative and constructive telephone call today, resulting in this classic subhead from Spiegel:
At first, Russian President Putin made himself out to be a friend of peace, now all of sudden he's fiddling with the US President.
Well, if Spiegel is worried about Putin, then I'm not worried about a veto...
THE GOOD OLD DAYS: This is not from The Onion:
BERLIN (Reuters) - Hoping to capitalise on a wave of nostalgia for Communist East Germany, a Berlin company is planning to build a theme park that revives life behind the Iron Curtain in the country that disappeared nearly 13 years ago.
Nostalgia for East Germany has lingered ever since reunification in 1990. Known as "Ostalgie", a play on the German words for east and nostalgia, the spirit has given rise to scores of "GDR parties", books, songs and popular films.
Ostalgie is for real, comrade. I've even been thinking about dressing up as Erich Hönecker for Karneval this year.
GIVE AND TAKE: I was glad to see that the AP picked up on Germany's plans to deploy 30 more troops to Kuwait next week. The Defense Minister made the announcement yesterday. The deployment includes members from Germany's crack nuclear-biological-chemical (ABC-Abwehr) detection and decontamination team.

Germans often argue -- rightly -- that they are indeed involved in international affairs.

And Schröder, even considering his problematic no on Iraq, is largely the reason for this involvement. In his Regierungserklärung [address to parliament] this month, Schröder said:

Germany -- and this must be made clear to the world -- has taken on international responsibilities to a degree that would have been unimaginable only a few years ago..."
And he's right.

This increased presence in Kuwait, while made strictly under the banner of Operation Enduring Freedom, can surely be seen as preparation for a possible biological or chemical attack from Iraq, especially in the case of war.

The Chancellor just can't put it that way. Indeed, the Defense Minister said, "This is simply to provide better maintenance possibilities." But he also confirmed that German troops would stay if war broke out.


At the same time, Germany is drawing the line at its current involvement in the NATO defense of Turkey. Amiland reader Jabba sent in the following translation of an article in today's Die Welt:

The Federal Government wants to refuse further military support for Turkey. Acting Government Spokesman Thomas Steg made this clear on Wednesday. He was reacting to the new requests by NATO for the defense of Turkey in case of war in Iraq. The corresponding memorandum was sent to NATO member states on Wednesday and received by the Federal Ministry of Defense.
Steg stated that "no addition to the promised support is foreseen" and referred to the participation of German crews on AWACs flights over Turkey. Germany supplies a third of the crews.
Primarily at issue are six additional Patriot missile systems, which would require German soldiers to man them. The question, then, is whether NATO is still able to provide these systems without Germany's participation.

According to Die Welt, only Germany, Greece, Holland and the United States are able to supply the needed Patriots.

UPDATE: The AP also has an English-language report on Germany's apparent decision to decline additional requests for assistance from Turkey.

The government spokesman is quoted as saying, "We are providing the solidarity requested, and expect now that the other countries will make their contribution." I guess he's just sick and tired of carrying the burden for the international community.

But I found this bit most interesting: the article says that Germany leases the Patriot missile systems from the United States. Maybe it's time to call in the Special Forces Repo Team...

NEWS THAT CAN USE YOU: Andrew Sullivan pointed out the interestingly different headlines from AP and Reuters yesterday, both covering the antiwar vote in the House of Commons.

But Spiegel wins the prize for being the most creative: "Revolt against Warlord Blair."

On the other hand, Germany's leading news agency, the Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa), has pretty much covered the whole spectrum since yesterday:

  • Weds -- 17:23 -- Sharp Criticism in British Lower House for Blair's Iraq Policy
  • Weds -- 20:47 -- Antiwar Proposal Defeated in British Lower House
  • Weds -- 22:24 -- Majority in Lower House for Blair's Iraq Policy
  • Thurs -- 10:38 -- Blair Stays on his Iraq Course Despite Resistance from his own Party
  • Thurs -- 11:29 -- Analysis: "Mass Mutiny" against Blair
There's pretty much something for everyone here...

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

AMERICA ON COURSE FOR WAR: This week's title page from stern...

The title story -- USA: A Country in a State of War -- is available here (in German).

They are also running a multi-part series on the history of Iraq, From Babylon to Baghdad. Part three is from 1918 to 1963. Here are parts one and two.

The start page of the special section is here, with background reading and lots of pictures.

I'm not sure, but I don't know of an English-language publication that has offered anything similar.

QUESTION AND ANSWER SESSION: In what Germans call the Kanzlerfrage [the chancellor-question] -- which asks, "Who would you directly vote for as chancellor?" -- Angela Merkel is currently edging Gerhard Schröder, 41% - 36%.

Even though the Kanzlerfrage is somewhat irrelevant, because Germans don't directly elect the chancellor, it is a strong indicator of public sentiment.

In the federal election last fall, for example, the CDU/CSU often polled quite strongly as a party (in the so-called Sonntagsfrage, which asks, "If elections were held this Sunday, which party would you vote for?") but was relatively weak in the Kanzlerfrage.

But now, according to a new poll from the Forsa Institute, the CDU/CSU is leading in both the Sonntags- and the Kanzlerfrage.


What does this mean? Well, it could mean that IF early elections were held -- a big if, but some scenarios could still lead to it happening -- Angela Merkel and the CDU/CSU would have a reasonable chance of assuming the majority in government.

BUT: The poll was conducted February 17-21, so it probably doesn't include any possible backlash from Merkel's WaPo op-ed last week. Since then, she's been taking a pretty sound beating in the media here.

DIPLOMATIC TRAFFIC: Although her op-ed in last Thursday's Washington Post caused quite a stir over here in Germany -- rightly so, in my opinion -- Angela Merkel hasn't been making headlines in the US.

I've been following the (lack of) press reaction to her visit this week, which has included meetings with Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Wolfowitz, McCain, Hagel (R-NE), Greenspan and others.

The New York Times seems to be the first major to run a feature piece on her visit:

It is not every foreign leader who, in 48 whirlwind hours in Washington, gets to meet with the vice president, the secretary of defense, the national security adviser, the deputy secretary of state, the United States trade representative, influential senators and the chairman of the Federal Reserve.
When the visitor is leader of her country's opposition party, such treatment is all but unheard of.
Merkel also gave a speech at Georgetown University last night. Next stop is New York, where she has appointments with Henry Kissinger and Hans Blix. A trip to Ground Zero is also planned.

I hope to have more coverage of her trip -- from both sides of the Atlantic -- soon...

GERMAN REINHEITSGEBOT: Anyone who has been to this beautiful country knows that Germans take their beer seriously. In 1516, in the Duchy of Bavaria, Duke Wilhelm IV passed the German Reinheitsgebot [Purity Law], which is still reverently followed today.

Along with setting sizes and prices for a Mass and a Kopf of beer, the Purity Law mandates: "The only ingredients used for the brewing of beer must be Barley, Hops and Water."

Today, in 2003, I read this from Reuters:

A German priest has developed a novel way to brew beer -- in a washing machine. Michael Fey, 45, a Catholic priest from the western city of Duisburg, came up with the idea of converting his 35-year-old toploader to provide beer more cheaply for youth outings he organises.
German engineering at its finest!

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

PRESIDENT AND SLAVE OWNER: In the post directly below, I summarized an article for the masses from the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Rise up and tear down those aristocratic palaces that are five times bigger than your average house! Socialism and populism at its best.

But the most telling part of the article comes already in the second sentence, where we learn:

Just outside the town of Potomac, a good 20 kilometers northwest of Washington, you reach the so-called mansions with a living area of more than 1,000 square meters -- about the size 200 years ago that was enough for the entire plantation of President and slave owner George Washington.
Excuse me? Did they really print that in one of the most respected newspapers in Germany?

Ok, if we give them the benefit of the doubt, I suppose they were trying to suggest that it's such a large tract of land -- not only big enough for a President, but big enough even for a President and his slaves. Talk about big!

But I don't know. What would happen if the Washington Post started referring to Germany's current head of state as Chancellor and bed-hopper Gerhard Schröder...?

UPDATE: Yes, I do know the history of "my Founding Fathers," as a couple readers have jeeringly asked. But don't even start with me if you're trying to defend this reference in this article. It's out of place and line.

German reader Tobias puts it well: "It is these fine lines of manners among friends that are currently being overstepped by both sides." I agree.

And yet another reader reminds me that Schröder would bring a lawsuit and restraining order against the Washington Post if it dared to print such a comment. Good point.

REFRIGERATOR ARTICLE FOR THE MASSES: The current confrontation with Iraq and the resulting diplomatic strife between the USA and Germany have provided plenty of fodder for Amiland. But even when the German media aren't writing about standing up to Goliath, sometimes all you can do is shake your head in disbelief...

Take today's Seite Drei article in the Süddeutsche Zeitung: "Kind of Far to the Refrigerator."

I wonder what this article's about, you might ask. Then comes the subhead:

Although they are already privileged, millionaires will profit the most from Bush's proposed tax cuts -- and they are building [houses] like princes and kings once [did].
Hmm. Interesting combination they've come up with here...

The frame of the piece is a portrait of the Jaeger family and their six million dollar home, located northwest of Washington, DC. To be sure, the Jaegers are rich -- Steinreich -- and Mr. and Mrs. do say a few things in the article that sound less than modest. Some people might even find them unsympathisch -- not very likeable.

For instance, the title comes from Mrs. Jaeger's complaint that, in her enormous new house, she does have to walk farther from the refrigerator to the kitchen table. Basically, the piece is a story about an obscenely rich American family -- scorn, scorn.

The moral of the story is that America is becoming a plutocracy, and all of its rich rulers are building "aristocratic palaces" that are "five times bigger than the average American home." Skandal.

Oh, and Bush is acting as chief architect with his proposed tax plan.

Check out this segue, moving from a description of the Jaeger's house to...well...well, just read it:

There are six full baths, five bedrooms, 13 telephones, seven open fireplaces and not less than nine toilets. Mr. Jaeger said that he is pleased with the result: "A brilliant interpretation of our wants/needs."
Mr. Jaeger is George W. Bush's man. The one who will profit the most from the planned tax cuts because he belongs to the richest [class], which should pocket 60% [of the cuts] from the economic program. It hasn't gone this well for the richest of the rich in American since the Roaring Twenties.
Note that I have put no ellipses between the two paragraphs.

We do learn at the end of the article that it "has crossed Mr. Jaeger's mind" to be more philanthropic. You know, a few coins for the common people and the working masses.

After reading the article a couple times now, I'm only left to wonder whether Mr. and Mrs. Jaeger know how their portrait in the Süddeutsche Zeitung finally turned out. Did they hang up this article on their refrigerator?

DAVID VERSUS GOLIATH: Great title page from stern magazine...

One of the title articles is available online: End of a Friendship. I haven't read it yet, so let me know what you think.

Just remember that stern, in the opinion of many Germans, is not seen as "high journalism" -- like Der Spiegel. The article starts off by talking about the German ambassador's appearance on The O'Reilly Factor...

P.S. The little guy there is the Chancellor.

UPDATE: My matey Mrs. T. at T6I has the goods on this stern article. Check it out.

Monday, February 24, 2003

BANNING GERMAN TOURISTS: According to the AP, a restaurant owner in Denmark is banning German and French guests from eating at his place, Aage's Pizza.
Aage Bjerre has three rules for dining at his pizzeria on the Danish island of Fanoe: No dogs. No Germans. No French.
The AP also reports that 60% of the island's guests are German, but that tourist season starts after Easter.
On Friday, [Bjerre] put two homemade pictograms on the shop door, much like the ones that show the outline of a dog with a bar across it. One featured the silhouette of a man colored red, yellow and black — the colors of the German flag. The second was painted blue, white and red — the French Tricolor colors. Both silhouettes had a bar across each man.
"I do what my conscience tells me to do," he said.
Hey, I don't write this stuff, I just blog it...
REFORMS FROM THE PEACE-CHANCELLOR: Yesterday the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung reported that Chancellor Schröder will give a Regierungserklärung [an official government address] to the Bundestag on March 14. According to press reports, the speech will propose bold reforms in labor laws and the social welfare system.

Amiland generally doesn't concern itself with the domestic politics of Germany, but lately there's been a fine line between what's domestic and foreign policy here.

And that's why the Regierungserklärung caught my eye. According to the FAS, and reported in several papers today, the title of the address will be: Courage for Peace -- Courage for Change.

UPDATE: An English-language summary of the announced address is available from the AP.

CLOONEY IN GERMANY: For the most part, I didn't even read what so many of the American actors had to say about President Bush during a recent film festival in Berlin. It was the usual from the usual suspects.

But George Clooney's interview on a German talkshow tonight (Monday) has been getting quite a bit of press over here. It's on a show that I never catch -- last week one of the guests was Eugen Drewermann -- but I had intended to watch tonight. Now I don't need to.

Thanks to Amiland reader John for sending in the Reuters report of tonight's show, where Clooney offers his expertise on winning wars, among other things.

"I believe [Rumsfeld] thinks this is a war that can be won, but there is no such thing anymore," said Clooney, who starred in a film about the 1991 Gulf War "Three Kings" that took a dark look at the war to drive Iraq out of Kuwait. "We can't beat anyone anymore," added Clooney, who has called it unfair that Americans opposed to war are being branded unpatriotic.
I mean, he did star in "Three Kings." Maybe Rumsfeld should set up a special commission with Clooney, Mark Wahlberg and Ice Cube, which could study international issues for him.

Sunday, February 23, 2003

ALIEN TRANSLATIONS: Amiland reader Godmar -- who doesn't need to use an online translator for help -- provides yet another dumb or dishonest headline from Spiegel Online.

Reporting on a speech by US Senator Byrd (D-WV) from nearly two weeks ago, Spiegel Online still couldn't translate it honestly.

For its headline, Spiegel chose, "Bush's Policies Lack Any Wisdom Whatsoever," which they put in quotation marks. Did Senator Byrd really say that?

Of course not. Here's what he said:

High level Administration figures recently refused to take nuclear weapons off of the table when discussing a possible attack against Iraq. What could be more destabilizing and unwise than this type of uncertainty, particularly in a world where globalism has tied the vital economic and security interests of many nations so closely together?"
So what he said, in fact, was that the uncertainty caused by the Bush administration's refusal to rule out the use of nuclear weapons was unwise. Godmar summarized the alien translation:
Spiegel out of nowhere puts "unwise" in its superlative: "lacking any wisdom whatsoever." Then they change the object of discourse from "this type of uncertainty" to "Bush's policies."
Stick all of that inside (!) double quotation marks -- to make it seem that Byrd actually said it -- and there you get the title: Bush's Policies Lack Any Wisdom Whatsoever.
This is sad and embarrassing for Spiegel. When will they learn that even online translators will catch their dumb or dishonest translations.

I plan to send this post to the Senator. He might be interested that his words are being grossly distorted in the foreign media.

UPDATE: Several Amiland readers have sent in emails about Senator Byrd's remarks in the Senate. My post is not about whether I agree with the Senator or not. Some consider his remarks brave. Others not.

My post is strictly concerned with the quotation-headline in the Spiegel Online article about the remarks.

I reread Senator Byrd's speech, and it is full of quotations that Spiegel Online could have picked out for its title. The whole speech is very critical of Bush and his policies, and Spiegel Online translated most of it. On a quick read-through, the translation in the article itself is accurate.

But the headline they chose, which is in quotation marks, is simply nothing that Senator Byrd said. It is dishonest.

RHINELANDERS ARE AMERICA: In response to my post below, Rhinelanders Conquer America, Amiland reader Richard sent in the following comment:
It would be fairer to say Rheinlanders are America. I recall reading, but cannot cite a reference, that more Americans have German blood coursing through their veins (40%+) than any other brand. I believe there was German language instruction in the Cincinnati public schools until 1917. Because of Germany's brilliant foreign policy in the early 20th century, Germans are now the most assimilated ethnic group in the U.S.
Thanks, Richard. Now let's all go out and have a Beck's beer!
IT JUST FLEW OUT: Who'd have thought that Secretary Rumsfeld's "Old Europe" remark wasn't a pre-plotted strategic attack. According to William Safire's On Language today:
When I asked Rumsfeld how he came to use the phrase Old Europe, his major diplomatic coinage, he replied, modestly, "It just flew out of my mouth."
Well now, there you have it...
RHINELANDERS CONQUER AMERICA: Visiting friends today, we went to an exhibit in the Rheinsiches Freilichtmuseum, a sort of open-air museum with authentic homes from 15th century Germany -- it reminded me of the sod house museums we used to visit on trips across the plains. Good stuff, actually.

A permanent exhibit at the museum is called, "Schöne Neue Welt: Rheinländer erobern Amerika" -- Brave New World: The Rhinelanders Conquer America.

It traces a number of families from the Lower Rhine region who picked up and traveled to the new world with William Penn. It is an interesting exhibition, with a large collection of documents and "artifacts." It also includes life-size models of the people, part of the immigrant ship from London, houses and taverns in the new world, as well as a printery.

One of the most influential inhabitants of 18th century Germantown, Penn., was Christoph Sauer, who founded his printery in 1738. He published two periodicals, The High-German American Calendar and The High-German Pennsylvanian Story-Writer, both printed in German Gothic script. In 1743, his printery put out one of the first foreign language Bibles to be published in the new world.

The exhibit today reminded me of the deep roots that so many of us Americans have with the people of Germany. It reminded me how absurd and even sad much of the talk is today. But it also reminded me that those roots are strong, and that these differences from today will work themselves out.

In any case, I can recommend the exhibit as a pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon in Rhineland Germany.

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY: This isn't a personal blog, but... One month ago, on January 23, I made the first post to Amiland. It has been an interesting and exciting month. More than a single late night and the occasional early morning have allowed me to make a post on every day.

Special thanks to Andrew Sullivan, who linked to me on my first day, and to Glenn Reynolds, who has been kind with a few links so far.

Other have also noticed. Thanks guys.

Even the big media in Austria -- the ORF -- picked up my post about Der Spiegel's hatchet job on Tom Friedman's op-ed. (Alas, Tom never wrote me back...)

But I'm most thankful to those readers who have continued to come back, and especially to those who have peppered me with comments, criticism and tips. (I hope you'll keep writing, even though I've decided against a comments section for now.)

Oh, and of course a loving thanks to my girlfriend, who has seen less of me because of this new hobby.


Today also marks another rite of passage for Amiland: The first hate mail.

It seems that a certain "alien7" has taken offense to a post of mine from February 11, where I drew attention to a Spiegel Online article with the headline, "Rumsfeld Threatens Sanctions."

I said the translation must be dumb or dishonest, because nowhere in the sources cited by Spiegel Online did Rumsfeld say any such thing. Specifically, the Spiegel Online article references a German television interview that Rumsfeld gave. Nowhere in the interview does Rumsfeld "threaten sanctions" either, as Spiegel Online would like its German readers to believe.

One hardly has to make up provocative remarks for the US Defense Secretary. But the headline from Spiegel Online was pure anti-American crap.

Anyway, let's get back to alien7, who seems to have taken my post rather personally -- do we finally have Spiegel's ear?! The alien wrote:

I am writing in concern to one of your artcles [sic] at this address...
In particular, this statement...
"Take for instance the article with this headline: Rumsfeld Threatens Sanctions [Sanktionen]. The summary of the piece also states, "Rumsfeld is threatening consequences" [Konsequenzen]. The way it's written suggests that the US is threatening someone, presumably Germany, with sanctions and serious consequences. ... Huh?!"
First off, alien7 (I'll call alien7 a he) provides the wrong stinking link. His URL is to a post that has come to be known for its dog poop analysis. But I'll presume alien7 meant this link, which actually contains the comment he cites. Not an impressive start. Alien7 continues:
I am from Australia and I am living in Germany now. It also sounds like you don't even know German hence, " threatening someone, presumably Germany...". So you make presumptions on an article you cannot even understand?
It appears alien7 has a problem with my presumption in the cited text. My presumption is that Spiegel Online is trying to dupe its readers to believe Rumsfeld is threatening Germany with sanctions. If my presumption is wrong, what is the headline saying? If not Germany is being threatened, then Turkey? Or who? Alien7 doesn't say, but he goes on:
Look up presumption and check the first description of the word.
Here alien7 loses the thread a bit, I presume because he has no argument, and he attacks me personally. To spare you the suspense, here's the "first description" of the word, presumption: "Behavior or attitude that is boldly arrogant or offensive; effrontery."

I have to admit, that bit with the link to is quite clever. It gets better:

Sounds like you ran it through an online translator and tried to piece together some ammo on a German newspaper. Online translators are very, very questionable pieces of technology especially with some languages in particular.
Very, very good point. Online translators don't work well at all. I presume that's why Spiegel Online thinks that it can continue to deliver dishonest translations to its German reading public.

The fact is that Spiegel Online named the ARD-Interview with Rumsfeld as its source. As a test, I ran "ARD-Interview" through a number of different online translators, and every time I came up with "ARD-Interview." So it seems quite clear where they are getting their (dishonest) information.

Oh, and as the final "argument," alien7 provides a link to the recent Observer article titled, "US to punish German 'treachery'." That's it, just the link. At least he got the right one.

Now I'm presuming that alien7's point is that America is indeed threatening Germany with sanctions. I mean, it does say as much in the Observer piece. Basta.

If this presumption of alien7's argument is correct, then he unfortunately continues to go wrong on several points. The first is that he contradicts himself. Earlier, alien7 mocked my presumption that Spiegel Online was trying to infer Germany as the target of sanctions. But now, alien7 wants to further prove my "behavior or attitude that is boldly arrogant or offensive" by demonstrating that America is in fact threatening sanctions on Germany.

As I said in the original post: Huh?!

And with regard to sanctions, even if the US did impose sanctions on Germany -- an entirely preposterous idea that would never come as the result of the Germans not supporting a war in Iraq -- the Observer article, written on February 16, has absolutely nothing to do with the Spiegel Online article from a full week before, on February 9.

Finally, the Observer article is written like a piece from The Onion. It offers no sources and is full of unsubstantiated conjecture. It is an equally invaluable anti-German article, as Spiegel Online's is anti-American. Citing crap to substantiate crap is, if you'll allow my effrontery, crap.

Unless you can find somewhere else in the interview -- or anywhere in the Spiegel Online article for that matter -- where the preposterous title "Rumsfeld Threatens Sanctions" could find its root, I stand by my assertion that the headline is either dumb or dishonest. And maybe even both.

But thanks for writing in for my anniversary...