Fortsetzungsfeststellungsklage

“Continuation determination complaint.”

A complaint before a German administrative court, financial court or social court asking the court to declare that an administrative act that was performed by an organ of the government was not lawful.

On 01 Jun 2013 police in Frankfurt used clubs and pepper spray to force their way into a permitted march of 10,000 demonstrators and kettle 1000 of them for about ten hours. The then-Hessian interior minister* defended the action by saying those particular protesters’ masks and passive weapons looked threatening.

Individual protesters’ Fortsetzungsfeststellungklagen asking to find that the police’s banning them from being where the protest was [Platzverweis] was illegal are being heard by the Frankfurt Administrative Court [Verwaltungsgericht], while individual protesters’ lawsuits asking the court to find that the police’s kettling act was illegal are being heard by the Frankfurt District Court [Amtsgericht]. Many criminal proceedings against the demonstrators are still ongoing.

* Now Boris Rhein (C.D.U.) is in charge of Hesse’s universities, as the Hessian State Minister for Science and the Arts.

(FOTT zets oongs FEST shtell oongs CLAW gah.)

Kali-Kartell

“Potassium cartel.”

Update on 05 Aug 2013: Supposedly ~70% of the world potassium trade has been controlled by two export alliances, BPC in Russia and Canpotex in North America. The world price for potassium was kept at a “comfortable” ~$400/ton. Last summer a Russian potassium company, Uralkali, made a surprise exit from the BPC export alliance (BPC stands for Belarus Potash Company), and the potassium price then fell to ~$300/ton. The stock price of e.g. the K+S potassium and salts company in northern Hesse fell precipitously as well.

Update on 24 Oct 2013: Spiegel.de posted an amazing potassium follow-up: “A kingdom for a cartel. Lukaschenko’s battle with the oligarch.” After the Russian firm Uralkali abruptly ended their BPC cooperation with the Belarussian firm Belaruskali last summer, Belarussian Prime Minister Lukaschenko had Uralkali’s C.E.O., Wladislaw Baumgertner, arrested in Minsk, where he is still held by authorities though he was moved to house arrest in late September.

Since the split it’s been shown how dependent the White Russian state company was on its Russian partners: exports to India and China were considerable but have nearly ended because, White Russian sources said, Belaruskali’s sales personnel don’t have the English to keep their Indian and Chinese deliveries on Russian trains running? In addition to its dependence on Russian trains, White Russia remains dependent on Russian oil and gas. White Russian potassium mines have been experiencing temporary closures since the cartel ended. As the company’s revenues fall so do the state’s; Mr. Lukaschenko had been using the potassium company’s money to fill the government’s budget gaps.

Spiegel.de wrote that Uralkali and Belaruskali started working together in 2005 to help keep international potassium prices high, together controlling ~40% of the world market in 2012 for potassium salts, which are used to make artificial fertilizers. World potassium prices had peaks of as much as $900/ton, yet White Russia is now forced to try to attract nearby customers in Russia with prices around $140/ton, forcing the Russian competitor Uralkali to counteroffer $160/ton for domestic customers.

More historical background provided in the article: Uralkali is controlled by major shareholder Suleiman Kerimow (worth >$7 billion) who bought his interest from another oligarch in 2010. He was also interested in acquiring Belaruskali from Mr. Lukaschenko, who not only did not sell but announced that Mr. Kerimow had offered a purchase price of $10 billion to the government plus an additional $5-billion bribe to Mr. Lukaschenko. When the purchase offer was made is unclear from the Spiegel.de article but the nature of the gossip flying indicates it was before the BPC alliance ended.

(CAWL ee   cawt ELL.)

Is des Des des Des, des des Des soi soll, oddä is des Des des Des, des des D soi soll?

Music joke in a Hessian dialect:

Is that D flat major the D flat major that’s supposed to be D flat major or is that D flat major the D flat major that’s supposed to be D?

(Iss   dess   DESS   dess   dess,   dess   dess   DESS   zoy   zoll,   oh deh   iss   dess   DESS   dess   dess,   dess   dess   DAY   zoy   zoll.)

Ellenbogen und Solidarität

 

“Elbows and solidarity,” this year’s Hessian S.P.D. candidate’s description of how his party will fight to win the Hessian state election occurring simultaneously with the federal Bundestag parliamentary election on 22 Sep 2013. The C.D.U. manages to win the state of Hesse rather consistently.

(Ellen BO gen   oont    zoh lee dar ee TATE.)

“Gewährung von Befreiungen und Vergünstigungen an Unternehmen, die mit Dienstleistungen auf dem Gebiet analytischer Tätigkeiten für die in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland stationierten Truppen der Vereinigten Staaten beauftragt sind”

Frontal 21 investigative reporters discovered that Germany’s governments issued permits to private-sector U.S. firms to spy on German soil at least as far back as August 2003, when the Foreign Office under Joschka Fischer (Green party) happened to create the earliest documentation found for this so far by publishing in the German Federal Gazette [Bundesgesetzblatt, BGB] some proposed amendments to what looks like a 2001 permit issued to the U.S.A.:

“Granting of exemptions and advantages to companies commissioned with services in the field of analytical activities for United States troops stationed in the Federal Republic of Germany” [Translation of the German BGB version.]

This English text from another news program might be a less-translated version closer to the original:

“Granting of exemptions and benefits to enterprises charged with providing services in the field of analytical activities to the United States Forces stationed in the Federal Republic of Germany”

The show’s reporters said they found a 2011 document saying the German government had issued spying licenses to 207 intelligence private-contractor companies that apparently have included, to name just a few, Booz Allen Hamilton, L3 Services Inc., Military Professional Resources Inc. (M.P.R.I.), Galaxy Scientific, The Analytic Sciences Corp. (T.A.S.C.), Science Applications International Corporation (S.A.I.C.), R4, Pluribus International, Bevilacqua Research Corp., Silverback, Information and Infrastructure Technologies (I.I.T.), Electronic Warfare Associates (?? E.W.A.), D.S.R. (?), General Dynamics, D.P.R.A. (?), Computer Sciences Corporation, CACI, GeoEye Analytics, Lockheed Martin. The 2011 document was mentioned because Germans were incensed by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s C.D.U./C.S.U. + F.D.P. coalition government’s claim that it only found out about Prism via the newspapers.

The Frontal 21 report opens with a local mayor’s delightful driving tour around an area called the Dagger Complex in the Hessian town of Griesheim, only 30 km from Frankfurt/Main. Frankfurt apparently has the world’s largest node for internet traffic, operated by a German company called De-Cix. A representative from De-Cix reminded the reporters that any U.S. companies involved with manufacture or operation of the Frankfurt node’s cables or computers could have been forced by U.S. law to violate German law and grant access to the data flowing through them, and ditto for Chinese companies and Chinese law, et cetera. The U.S. firm Level 3 Communications, apparently the world’s biggest data network operator, runs an important computer center for the Frankfurt node. (It said it runs five Germany data centers actually, in Berlin, Hamburg, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt/Main and Munich.) Frontal21 narrator: “Like all U.S. network operators, [Level 3] had to agree to let its data be saved off to America and to give American intelligence agencies access to it.” Commentary from pundit historian Josef Foschepoth concluded the report by saying post-W.W.II German law still provides some outdated protections to allied countries spying on German citizens in violation of German law. He said they used to call it the Alliertes Vorbehaltsrecht and now they’re calling it “legal obligations of the German government.”

(Geh VARE oong   fon   beh FRYE oong en   oont   ferg IN stig oong en   on   oon ta NAME en,   dee   mitt   DEENST lye stoong en   ow! f   dame   geh BEET   on oll it ish ah   TATE ichh kite en   foor   dee   in   dare   BOOND ess ray poob leek   DEUTSCHLAND   shtah tee own EAR ten   TROOP en   dare   fare EYE nichh ten   SHTOT en   beh OW! f trog t   zint.)

Cum-Ex-Geschäfte

“Cum/ex transactions.” A lucrative tax loophole that major German banks have been using. Spiegel reported the story on 28 Apr 2013, saying it had been broken by the Berlin Sunday version of Die Welt (Die Welt am Sonntag, WamS) but so far search results for it online are only turning up in Der Spiegel. The loophole, estimated to have cost the German government 12 billion euros so far, was created by corporate tax reform legislation of the SPD + Green Party coalition in 2002. Though discovered by officials shortly thereafter in 2002, and reported all the way up the chain of command, the loophole was not fixed by Hans Eichel (SPD) or his successor Peer Steinbrück (SPD, currently running against Angela Merkel for chancellor of Germany). Amendments to the law in 2007 made the situation worse, Spiegel reports that WamS reports. Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) appears to have waited several years to fix the problem as well, though now the order appears to have gone out.

The problem was this: under certain circumstances capital gains tax could be reimbursed multiple times. After e.g. stocks or bonds were sold short but before they were bought back to conclude the transaction, German bureaucracy sometimes obscured to whom the stocks or bonds belonged: the person loaning the stock, the short seller or the end customer. The question would be trivial, say financial reporters, were it not for the fact that sometimes if the sale occurred right before a dividend the German IRS would erroneously issue more than one get-your-tax-back certificate for capital gains on the stock. Honest people would ignore the unearned get-your-tax-back certificate, but others would deliberately game the system to get the treasury to reimburse them these taxes even conceivably more than five times, said professor Heribert Anzinger of the University of Ulm.

This looks like the dividend stripping loophole HypoVereinsBank and others were reported in 2012 to have used to extract money from the German fiscus. Etymologically, Wikipedia contributors explain, when a company’s general assembly of shareholders decides to issue a dividend, the dividend is usually issued the day after the assembly meeting, called the “ex day” (“Ex-Dividende”). The day before the ex day is called the cum day, for arcane reasons.

(COOM   ECKS   geh SHEFF teh.)

Inländische Steueroasen

“Domestic tax oases” inside a country. The head of the largest opposition party to Chancellor Merkel’s government coalition has accused the states of Bavaria and Hesse of acting like tax paradises within Germany by hiring low numbers of tax officials, reducing tax auditing frequencies and bruiting that about in order to attract businesses. It’s probably no coincidence that Bavaria and Hesse recently filed a lawsuit seeking to break the decades-old post-WWII reconstruction “solidarity pact” in which German states that are doing well financially pay money to German states that are not.

US state Delaware was mentioned in a “Planet Money”-style ZDF report that said it has very low taxes, very business-friendly courts, 800,000 inhabitants and 900,000 companies and is where most of the world’s firms “organize their America business.”

(E’en LEND isch ah   SHTOY er oh OZ en.)

Piemont-Kirsche

The famous Piemont cherry® found floating in highly alcoholic cherry liqueur and surrounded by good dark chocolate in German Mon Chéri bon-bons. The Piemont cherry does not come from Italy though, and it has its own entertaining chapter in the charming book Hessen verfälscht (“Hessian Fakes”).

(Pee AYE moant   KIRR sha.)

“Eine kluge Erinnerungskultur”

“A smart memory culture,” what every society needs to devise in order to teach new generations about the past. What history shall we share, how will we communicate it, how will we refresh it? The theme of this year’s Buber-Rosenzweig award was “Giving the future a memory” [“Der Zukunft ein Gedächtnis“]. In her interesting speech at the ceremony, Dr. Charlotte Knobloch talked about “eine kluge Erinnerungskultur.” She quoted Hessian general district attorney Fritz Bauer, whose hard work made the Auschwitz trials happen, as saying “Nothing belongs to the past. Everything is present-day and can become the future again” [“Nichts gehört der Vergangenheit an. Alles ist Gegenwart und kann wieder Zukunft werden.”] and called for mehr Mut! More courage.

(Eye neh   clue geh   err IN err oongs cool tour.)

Bouffier

The slightly creepy governor of Hesse, which includes the financial metropole Frankfurt am Main. The guy he replaced, Roland Koch, was also slightly creepy.

Bouffier it turns out was Hesse’s interior minister when the bank-robbing neonazi serial killers shot someone with an immigrant background in Kassel in 2006. Bouffier forbade direct interrogation of any V-people in the matter, even though a V-man of the Hessian Verfassungsschutz happened to be sitting in the café at the time of the murder.

Update on 02 Oct 2013: The “V-man” in question, Andreas T., was not a “Vertrauensmann” or police snitch being “run” and paid by the Hessian Verfassungsschutz but was in fact a Verfassungsschutz official who worked for that domestic intelligence agency. This week he testified at the Munich trial of the surviving neonazi terrorist cell member. He, and two other customers who were there when café operator Halit Yozgat was shot, said they didn’t hear the sound of the shot or thought a computer had been dropped in the next room. The Verfassungsschutz official walked out of the café without noticing or helping the dying man. At the neonazi’s trial, Halit’s father described how he found his son lying on the floor and held him as he died.

After the murder was announced in the news, Andreas T. still didn’t report in that he’d been at the café when it happened. In his trial testimony, he said this was because he’d been flirting with several women online while his wife was pregnant. For years, Kassel police suspected the victim’s family and friends of having committed the murder. Now German voters suspect state and federal police and/or spies of a cover-up, because their actions taken together made it look like that might be a possibility.

(Boof yay.)

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