From Hunter to Hunted
Volkswagen: Its share price is hovering, its stock market value comparatively low. The Volkswagen Group would be an attractive prey for competitors if it werent for the German governments involvement. But now the EU wants to deprive the company of that protective shield. Since the government in Berlin is withholding its support for the EUs intended take-over laws and wants to protect German companies from hostile take-overs, the European Commission in Brussels has launched an attack on one of Piëchs protective shields the Volkswagen Law. The Volkswagen Law, which offers special protection to a single company, will hardly be able to endure in a united Europe. Piëch wants to ensure that the Volkswagen Group can if necessary remain independent even without the protective legal shield. In that case, the most urgent need is for a distinct rise in the price of shares.
Wheres the Logic?
SPIEGEL interview with the head of the Commerzbank Martin Kohlhaussen, on his strategy and the hostile attack by the investment group Cobra:
We dont know the composition of the group. We only know the 40 individuals who recently called for an extraordinary general meeting on behalf of Cobra. Those 40 represent as much as 5 percent of the Commerzbanks capital. At the moment the market is saying that a deal is to take place between Cobra and the Commerzbank before the general meeting. But thats totally unthinkable. Its impossible. Its simply calculated propaganda seeking to persuade other shareholders to join in. So far they have no investor. Cobra has specifically enlisted the services of an investment bank. Just about every name has been mentioned in this context. Again and again its been claimed to be the Hong Kong Bank, also Credit Suisse, BBVA and sometimes Crédit Agricole, too. All of them have been named. The one thing that all these rumours have in common is they are untrue.
The Federal Prosecutors Office believes that a new Red Army Faction (RAF) is being set up in Germany.
The securities management company Clearstream is coming under increasing pressure. Aside from money laundering, the judiciary is also investigating charges of possible illegal payments via the tax haven of Jersey.
No Intercourse without a Condom
SPIEGEL interview with Ghanas former president Jerry Rawlings on sex and promiscuity, male abuse of power and his crusade against Aids in Africa:
We Africans take so many liberties towards our women. We are unfaithful to them, allow ourselves girlfriends and concubines. And then we potentially even infect our partners. Thats the ultimate in disrespect. Many men abuse their position and exert pressure on women: If you dont sleep with me, you wont get the job. And all this in the age of Aids, in which not only marriages but entire societies are being destroyed. But the situation is dramatic enough. In most African countries the health care system was already hopelessly inadequate even before the outbreak of Aids.
We Have a New Doctrine
Interview with Belgian foreign minister Louis Michel on ways of dealing with right-wing governments in the European Union and on the mechanism of sanctions for preserving European values:
I am shocked that people like Umberto Bossi and his racist and xenophobic party are able to participate in a government in Europe. But there is a crucial difference to Austria, where Haider is playing the game on the same level with Chancellor Schüssel. Bossi will never obtain that strong an influence on the government in Italy. The second difference to Austria is that we have a new European doctrine concerning the way to deal with the extreme right. An early-warning system has been installed and we have a mechanism of sanctions. If one of the member states infringes upon EU contracts or European values, it can be stripped of EU rights.
The Caravan Moves On
Libya: From rogue state to holiday destination. Revolutionary leader Muammar al-Qaddafi is opening up his country to tourists. In the vicinity of Tripoli, package tourists can visit some of the most impressive monuments of Roman times. But they need to have strong nerves. Beds, in particular, are lacking. At most 10,000 of them meet international standards corresponding to about 5000 rooms. No alcohol just because Christians are used to it. No night-life just because theres plenty of action elsewhere. Few cheap souvenirs, little commercial pushiness, certainly no attempts to curry favour. But no beach tourism either, along the almost 2000 kilometre long coast so far. The latest five-year-plan is to change this. The state wants to invest 35 billion dollars into the tourist sector, to decrease its dependence on oil.
Children as a Commodity
Adoptions: A baby from abroad for thousands of desperate couples this is only way out of childlessness. The Internet is perfecting the placement of children from all over the world, often resorting to dubious methods. Even recognised German agencies have become involved. The global players in the world-wide child market are the US agencies. Hundreds of them arrange families for children from Eastern Europe, Asia and South America all over the industrialised world including Germany. In most cases, the procedure is perfectly legal: reserving a child for adoption before it has even been born is not considered offensive in the USA. Children are becoming a catalogue commodity, some are even a bargain offer. By the end of this year, Germany wants to pass the legislation for implementing the Hague International Convention on the Protection of Children. These laws are to make adoptions more transparent. In addition, the new laws are to improve the supervision of German agencies so that the dividing line between child trafficking and correct adoption does not become blurred. But even if everything is done correctly in formal terms, the difficulties faced by the children themselves remain.
Harvesting Electricity at Sea
Energy: Thousands of windmills off the coast of Germany are to take the place of coal and nuclear power plants. Investors are racing each other to secure the best off-shore locations. Remote areas beyond the mud flats and nature reserves, with water depths of 15 to 35 metres have suddenly become coveted building sites. The developers of wind parks have to show that their gigantic wind turbines will not interfere either with shipping or with the marine environment. Not an easy task: applicants and licensing authorities are breaking new ground.
Invasion of the Voracious Feeders
Wildlife: Poisonous giant toads brought in by man are threatening the wildlife in Australias Cockatoo National Park. Lizards, snakes and predatory marsupials are at risk from the amphibian which is armed with venom glands and can reach sizes of up to 20 centimetres. The undoing of many of the indigenous animals is that they mistake the toads for potential prey. The zoologists are at a loss what to do. The threatening disaster in the swamps has even brought the Australian government into the arena.
Bloodbath in Cleanspace
Computers: The software giant Microsoft is pressing onto the fiercely contested market for videogame consoles a risky game involving high stakes.
Dream of the Giant Woman
Art: The eccentric sculptor Alberto Giacometti, one of the true greats of the 20th century, would have turned 100 on October 10. Museums and books are already celebrating him now. His brother Bruno, the last surviving member of the family of artists, reveals intimate details of Giacomettis life to SPIEGEL writer Gero von Boehm.
Broken Glass in His Heart
Authors: The record price that has been paid for a manuscript by Céline is reopening old wounds. At the same time, it marks a belated triumph for the widow of the controversial genius. Céline, the Horseman of the Apocalypse, a traitor to his fatherland and collaborator during the Second World War, the raving anti-Semite, has found his place in the inner sanctum of the literary pantheon.
The Old Misgivings
One of Gerhard Schröders most important experiences as chancellor is that Germans cannot escape their past that quickly. Joschka Fischer recommends prudent self-restriction as long as the allies remain sceptical. 57 years after the victory of the Allied Forces over the Third Reich and Nazi terror, the reunited Berlin republic is once again firing peoples imaginations. At times, even close European partners openly display their misgivings about the largest nation on the old continent, with its 83 million inhabitants. During his two and a half years in office, foreign minister Fischer has had to recognise that the collective memory is such a strong structure that it is impossible to negate.