BERLIN/VIENNA/BERN/VADUZ/LUXEMBURG | | oesterreichschweizluxemburg

BERLIN/VIENNA/BERN/VADUZ/LUXEMBURG (Own report) - Berlin is advancing its political positions in the middle of Europe by coordinating exclusive meetings of the four German speaking countries' foreign ministers. Last Friday's "quadripartite meeting" of the German foreign minister and his counterparts from Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein was also focused on the political crises in North Africa and the Middle East. Over the past few years, special meetings of ministers of the German speaking countries have been systematically intensified. They are based on the extraordinarily close economic ties, which secure Germany a predominating position. By way of its ties to the media market, Germany achieves a significant ideological influence within the German speaking countries. These meetings of the alpine countries have now been extended to include the participation of Luxemburg. This growing cooperation has been justified with the assertion that these countries constitute a "unitary cultural realm." However, the integration is not determined by culture, but is the result of German domination, supplanting the previously strong French influence in Luxemburg and Switzerland. more…

BERLIN/ATHENS | | griechenland

BERLIN/ATHENS (Own report) - The reorganization of the Greece's health system, under German direction, is advancing. "A final timetable is to be presented in the second half of this year," declared the German Health Ministry (BMG). The German government sees deficits also in the lack of an "effective cost management," but most of all in the lack of "competitive elements." In a "Memorandum of Understanding" (MoU), the BMG and the Task Force for Greece (TFGR) have reached an agreement with the Greek government on the introduction of the highly criticized German-modeled so-called case flat-rates. The criticisms stem from the fact that patients are not being treated in response to their medical needs but on the basis of economic efficiency. The massive consequences the austerity measures are having on the public health in Greece are becoming more evident. A growing number of Greek citizens are losing their health insurance, due to unemployment and therefore must pay medical costs themselves. The shortage of medical aid, for example, has caused an increase of 40 percent in the child mortality rate since 2009. Diseases such as malaria or AIDS are spreading more rapidly. The German government continues to insist on its austerity course in spite of these ramifications. more…

COLOGNE/BERLIN | | usa

COLOGNE/BERLIN (Own report) - Recent media reports have confirmed the involvement of German domestic intelligence services in the cooperation with US internet espionage. According to these reports, not only Germany's foreign Federal Intelligence Service (BND) but also the domestic intelligence gathering "Federal Office for the Defense of the Constitution" (BfV) has access to special NSA XKeyscore software permitting comprehensive surveillance measures. The talk is of "total surveillance." The BfV had already been closely integrated in the transatlantic intelligence service cooperation. This service had participated in interrogations of various German victims - or victims residing in Germany - of the CIA's abductions. Prisoners held in Syria, for example, had complained of having been tortured, but had been ignored. There is proof of interrogations of a German citizen by a BfV official in a prison in Afghanistan - notorious for its torture - at least for the year 2010. The former Swiss special investigator of the European Council, Dick Marty, has reiterated his view that the NSA internet espionage - which is currently being sharply criticized, like the CIA's abduction policies - are based on the October 4, 2001 NATO - Mutual Defense agreement. The German Bundestag confirmed, most recently in December 2012, that a case of Mutual Defense is still in effect. more…

BERLIN/WASHINGTON | | usa

BERLIN/WASHINGTON (Own report) - New reports are confirming the close cooperation of the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) with the National Security Agency (NSA). According to these reports, BND agents have repeatedly visited the NSA headquarters at Fort Meade to discuss technical issues. The NSA has also furnished the BND instruments for analyzing intercepted data. A former head of the Austrian intelligence service has confirmed that it was a "common understanding among all European intelligence services" to be "aware" of the NSA Prism surveillance program. Already years ago, officials of the US military have been quoted saying that the US military espionage center that is being established in the Hessian capital Wiesbaden - and that will reportedly also be used by the NSA - is destined to gather information "on the current situation of friend and foe, and everything that can influence our mission." The German government has also admitted that the Western block's cooperation of the intelligence services - which includes abduction and torture of suspects in the so-called war on terror - dates back to secret agreements between the leading NATO powers during the post-WW II decades. more…

BERLIN/WASHINGTON | | usa

BERLIN/WASHINGTON (Own report) - Already 25 years ago, the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) had had extensive knowledge of the wide-ranging espionage activities of the NSA in West Germany. This has been exposed in a rather recent reprint of a 1989 news article. According to this article, the NSA was already feeding information to German intelligence agencies that they, themselves, were unable to generate. As experts confirm, the BND is today not operating so fundamentally different from the NSA. In fact, like the US agency, the German agency not only has wiretapping installations installed directly at domestic service providers, it also spies on governments of sovereign nations, for example, on Afghanistan and possibly Syria. The new telecommunications law, which took effect at the beginning of the week, opens to the agencies also access to so-called inventory data of German users. Experts consider parliamentary control over the agencies to be totally insufficient. Just a few years ago, the current Minister of Finances had made a plea to abolish parliamentary control commissions. more…

BERLIN/WASHINGTON | | usa

BERLIN/WASHINGTON (Own report) - The German Chancellor has announced initial measures in the scandal surrounding the comprehensive internet and telephone surveillance by the US American and British intelligence services. In view of the most recent reports of US espionage, including in EU facilities, Angela Merkel declared through her spokesperson, "that is unacceptable." After all, "the cold war is over." Other ostentatious signs of protest had been initiated yesterday. What still remains a mystery is to what extent German authorities have been involved themselves in this telephone and internet surveillance. For years, it has been known that cooperation between western intelligence agencies had been greatly intensified as the result of an October 4, 2001 NATO decision. The German government still remains silent on the channels and extent of the transfer of secret data, as well as on the legwork Germany is suspected to have provided for US authorities. Recent reports point to old intelligence agency cooperation accords concluded in the cold war period. These were secret agreements, which remain in force to this day. more…