Archive | July, 2016

MONIKA’S PICTURES FROM BERLIN, END OF JUNE 2016

27 Jul
The World Clock (Weltuhr) am Alexander Platz

The World Clock (Weltuhr) am Alexander Platz

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Arriving at Platz der Luftbrucke

Arriving at Platz der Luftbrucke

This is where Peter grew up as a child

This is where Peter grew up as a child

Lucas stands where Peter may have stood more than 70 years ago.

Lucas stands where Peter may have stood more than 70 years ago.

The family meets cousin Corinna.

The family meets cousin Corinna.

In a park in Kreuzberg

In a park in Kreuzberg

Peter gives Alexander a swing in that Kreuzberg park.

Peter gives Lucas a swing in that Kreuzberg park.

Lucas is admiring the flowers.

Lucas is admiring the flowers.

Lucas, Peter and Uta

Lucas, Peter and Uta

Ilse with Lucas and Alexander

Ilse with Lucas and Alexander

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We are on the way to visit Ilse.

We are on the way to visit Ilse.

Kaiser Wilhelm Gedachtnis Kirche in the background

Kaiser Wilhelm Gedachtnis Kirche in the background

Ryan and Ebony with Lucas

Ryan and Ebony with Lucas

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A left over part of the Berlin Wall

A left over part of the Berlin Wall

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Ryan with Alexander touching a Berlin Bear

Ryan with Alexander touching a Berlin Bear

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Natasha with Lucas

Natasha with Lucas

Peter Uwe with Ilse on the day of the great Family Meeting

Peter Uwe with Ilse on the day of the great Family Meeting

This picture was taken at 9 in the evening on Saturday, 25th of June. The whole family had met for dinner. Some people are missing.

This picture was taken at 9 in the evening on Saturday, 25th of June. The whole family had had dinner at this restaurant in Friedenau. Some people are missing: Some had not been able to come at all or had to leave early. Still it is a nice large group.

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Peter’s Iphone Pictures from our recent Berlin Visit

27 Jul
Haxenhaus in Tegel (Northern Suburb of Berlin)

Haxenhaus in Tegel (Northern Suburb of Berlin)

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Matthew, Caroline and Martin

Matthew, Caroline and Martin

Inside of Haxenhaus

Inside of Haxenhaus

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House in Tegel

A House in  Friedenau

Caroline in Klaudia's apartment

Caroline in Klaudia’s apartment

Klaudia and Caroline

Klaudia and Caroline

Martin in Klaudia's apartment

Martin in Klaudia’s apartment

Sakorn, Matthew, Caroline and Daniel in Alt-Spandau   Sakorn, Matthew, Caroline and Daniel in Alt-Spandau (Western Suburb of Berlin)


Sakorn, Matthew, Caroline and Daniel in Alt-Spandau (Western Suburb of Berlin)

It had been Daniel’s birthday and he invited all his family for lunch in Alt-Tegel.

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Some more pictures of that family lunch I’ll publish in another blog.

We had tickets for the Komische Oper in Berlin.

We had tickets for the Komische Oper in Berlin. We saw a modern production of the “Magic Flute”

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This sign we saw outside a charity shop in Rubensstrasse.

This sign we saw outside a charity shop in Rubensstrasse.

We went with Martin to U-Bahnhof Rathaus Schoneberg.

We went with Martin to U-Bahnhof Rathaus Schoneberg.

Quite a collection close to where  we came out of the underground station.

Quite a collection close to where we came out of the underground station.

View down Innsbrucker Strasse towards Inssbrucker Platz.

View down Innsbrucker Strasse towards  Bayerischer Platz.

 

It was a rainy day. None the less we walked passed the duck pond through the Stadpark towards our destination: Die Pusteblume Cafe!

This duck pond is close to where I used to live as a child.

This duck pond is close to where I used to live as a child.

Another U-Bahnhof (Underground Station)

Another U-Bahnhof (Underground Station)

An interurban train (S-Bahn) arriving at Sudkreuz Station

An interurban train (S-Bahn) arriving at Sudkreuz Station

The next three pictures show some of the food we had at a restaurant in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern:

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Red cabbage, rouladen (meat-rolls) and dumplings

Red cabbage, rouladen (meat-rolls) and dumplings

In the midst of the Sony Centre (Potsdamer Platz, Berlin Centre)

In the midst of the Sony Centre (Potsdamer Platz, Berlin Centre)

 A birch-tree  near the Sony Centre


A birch-tree near the Sony Centre

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Potsdamer Platz underground station

Potsdamer Platz underground station

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They showed here the State of Origin Game from Australia.

They showed here the State of Origin Game from Australia.

This was a great meeting place for Australians who happened to be in Berlin at the time!

Our daughter Monika had arrived in Berlin with her children and two grandchildren.

Our daughter Monika had arrived in Berlin with her children and two grandchildren.

Natasha pushing her two nephews along. Mum Ebony looks on.

Natasha pushing her two nephews along. Mum Ebony looks on.

Kids having fun

Kids having fun

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Peter took the above pictures near the Brandenburg gate where the kids were entertained with chasing soap bubbles.

This is our great-grandson Lucas.

This is our great-grandson Lucas.

This is along the avenue "Unter den Linden"

One of the statues on the Schlossbrucke symbolizing peace. All along the way we saw some building sites.

Here again Natasha with the kids and the kids' parents, Ryan and Ebony, looking on.

Here again Natasha with the kids and the kids’ parents, Ryan and Ebony, looking on.

This is also "Unter den Linden"

This is die Neue Wache which is “Unter den Linden” a famous avenue.

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A mother holding her dead son, a sculpture by Kathe Kollwitz inside of the “Neue Wache”

 

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Martin enjoys Berlin

Martin enjoys Berlin

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Our family in a Mexican restaurant in Berlin-Kreuzberg

Our family in a Mexican restaurant in Berlin-Kreuzberg

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Nadine, Monika and Troy have come for a visit to our apartment on one of our last evenings there.

Nadine, Monika and Troy have come for a visit to our apartment on one of our last evenings there.

And here are some more of Peter’s Iphone pictures from the first week of our stay in Berlin:

Caroline and Matthew

Caroline and Matthew

My brother  Peter Uwe and Astrid

My brother Peter Uwe and Astrid

When terror goes viral it’s up to us to prevent chaos

27 Jul

When terror goes viral it’s up to us to prevent chaos

Brian McNair, Queensland University of Technology

The scent of chaos hangs heavy in the air. Donald Trump evokes it in Cleveland. Islamic State sows it in Nice, Brussels, Paris, Orlando. Britain is immersed in it after Brexit, while the EU struggles to prevent its onset amid mounting crises of migration and political legitimacy. Ukraine and Syria are being torn apart by it, and Turkey looks fragile after a failed coup.

To apply a metaphor from the science of chaos, we are, it seems, in a moment of phase transition. A state of relative global order – the Long Peace, as Steven Pinker describes it in The Better Angels Of Our Nature – has existed since 1945. We’re now moving into a new configuration of competing powers and ideologies, the structure of which we cannot predict, except to assume it will be very different from what we have known.

The intervening period of transition, which we may have entered, could be chaotic, destructive and violent to a degree that no one born after 1945 in the industrialised countries that constructed the post-war order can imagine.

The great battles of the era now underway or emerging are not those which dominated the late 20th century – left versus right, east versus west, communist versus capitalist. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, these binaries have had less and less relevance. It is the dark forces of nationalism and religious sectarianism that now drive global politics, fuelling the rise of a crude, xenophobic populism in the advanced capitalist world that we have not seen since the 1930s.

Trump is the most vivid manifestation of it, but we see it everywhere we look in formerly stable social democracies – Germany, Denmark, the UK, France, Greece, even Australia, where the demagogue Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party was returned to the Senate in the recent election. Appeals to nationalism and fear of the “other” are replacing notions of collective security, common interest and the moral duty to care for those in need such as asylum seekers.

Trump openly praises Putin and Saddam Hussein for their leadership and effectiveness (which in Saddam’s case, lest we forget, included the use of chemical weapons on his own people). NATO, he declares, is past its sell-by date, as are all international climate change and trade agreements which he judges to be against America’s interests.

People continue to flee violence from forces loyal to Islamic State.
Rodi Said/Reuters

The internet destabilises

In 2006, two years before the global financial crisis, and five years after al-Qaeda’s September 11 attacks on New York and the Pentagon, I wrote about the cultural chaos then emerging as an unforeseen, unintended consequence of the internet.

“Its roots,” I wrote then, “lie first in the destabilising impact of digital communication technologies … Not only is there more information out there, the speed of its flow has increased. The networked nature of the online media means that an item posted in one part of the world immediately becomes accessible to anyone with a PC and an internet connection, anywhere else – linked, signposted, rapidly becoming part of the common conversation for millions”.

As a consequence, I argued, established elite power was leaking away, becoming more porous. As 9/11 showed, we had entered a world where affluent, stable democracies were vulnerable as never before to disproportionate disruption by terrorism. A world where policy – as in the case of the EU and the current migrant crisis – was driven not by rational calculation so much as the power of testimonies, narratives and images captured and shared on digital media.

No one doubts the humanitarian impulse underpinning Angela Merkel’s decision to offer open house to millions of refuges from the Middle East. This policy was fuelled by distressing, globally networked accounts of desperate people drowning in Mediterranean waters, and pictures of children dead on the tourist beaches of southern Europe.

But if it contributes to the rising influence of anti-immigrant party AfD and the rise to power of its equivalents in France, Italy, the Netherlands, it will come to be seen as having hastened the fragmentation of the European Union; to have been an ill-considered response to a crisis amplified and intensified by 24-hour, always on, real time news and social media culture.

Supporters of anti-immigration right-wing movement PEGIDA demand the resignation of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
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Notwithstanding the huge benefits brought to people and societies all over the world by the internet, then, it also presents challenges to the capacity for the good governance and rational decision making on which our collective well-being depends. In a world where information of all kinds – nasty as well as nice, false as easily as true – travels faster, further, and with fewer possibilities for censorship than ever before in human history, authority and the exercise of power are uniquely precarious.

Greater transparency and accountability of governing elites – what Sydney University professor John Keane calls monitory democracy – remains a positive benefit of digital technology. The internet made WikiLeaks, and the revelations of Edward Snowden and the Panama Papers possible. It gave every digitally networked individual on the planet all nine volumes of Sir John Chilcot’s report with its devastatingly forensic details of how and why Tony Blair took Britain to war with Iraq in 2003. You may choose not to read it, but it will be your choice, and no-one else’s.

If power is built on knowledge, and effective democracy requires that citizens be informed about their environment, the age of digitalisation has also been one of global democratisation. It has made popular challenge to authoritarian rule easier to organise (if not necessarily to succeed). Cultural chaos, like chaos in nature, can be a constructive as well as destructive force.

Fear is contagious

This media environment sees isolated events which would once have been of mainly local importance, such as the Lindt Café siege in Sydney (a “lone wolf” terrorist attack in which two people were killed), become global in their impacts through the immediacy and visceral nature of their media coverage. But it is also an efficient way to disseminate anxiety, panic and fear.

Donald Trump understands this, and uses Twitter like no other presidential candidate before him. He is able to further stir up his already enraged constituency with simplistic, authoritarian solutions to complex social problems like illegal migration and global terrorism.

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IS, like al-Qaeda before it, understands it. Jihadi John cuts off the head of an American or Japanese journalist, and the uploaded, socially networked video becomes a weapon of mass psychic torture, spreading virally.

Some Britons voted for Brexit because they had seen those videos, or heard about them. They believe they can be quarantined from radical Islamism by rejecting Merkel’s humanitarianism and closing the doors on the continent.

9/11 cost al-Qaeda $500,000. It cost the world trillions in military expeditions, heightened airport security and other responses, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of deaths inflicted in the “war against terror” since 2001. IS atrocity videos are well produced, but cheap to make, and the communicative power of digital networks does the rest. They are at the heart of a new kind of asymmetrical warfare.

The chaos Edward Lorenz described in nature applies also to our globalised, digitised societies. From small bifurcations in the social fabric emerge catastrophic, potentially system-destroying consequences.

One crisis feeds into another. Trump’s success fuels French National Front leader Marine Le Pen. The UK Independence Party’s Nigel Farage encourages Putin in his dream of winning back Ukraine and the Baltic states. And as the mass murderer of Nice follows the attack at Ataturk airport, both outdone by the atrocity of Bataclan, we enter a period of cascading, interconnected crises, where “black swan” moments become part of everyday life, and the unthinkable becomes mainstream.

The majority of us don’t want to build walls.
Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

Is it too late?

Have we reached the tipping point between order and chaos at the global level? Is it too late to stop this slide backwards into the vortex of violent nationalism, sectarian hatred and authoritarianism that caused World War II? After a century of unparalleled progress in democratisation and the extension of human rights to women, ethnic and sexual minorities, are we now at the top of the ladder, the peak of a cycle, with nowhere to go but down?

No one knows, because by definition the onset of chaos is non-linear and unpredictable. Its precise causes are impossible to identify, and its consequences unknowable.

Personally, I think not. I believe not, because I am an optimist and I have confidence in the essential goodness of most people.

We – that is, those of us who don’t wish to build walls, or erect borders where there were none, or to prevent others from harbouring beliefs, religions or values different to our own – are still the majority, as far as I can see. Our law governed liberal states still define the rules and set the tone for global culture and politics. Barack Obama won two elections with convincing majorities.

If we can engage in this global struggle with the same confidence and commitment as the other side engage in their jihads and nationalist hate-mongering and fascistic public gatherings, not with military hardware but with ideas and words, it is not too late.

The journalists of Charlie Hebdo did that, and paid the price. Human rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali called for reformation of islam, and has been condemned not only by the mullahs who regard her an apostate but by some western non-muslims for doing so. We must support voices like Ali’s, and add to them, at the same time as we challenge the racists and xenophobes who are feeding off fundamentalist islam’s excesses.

That the global system is under unprecedented stress is by now undeniable. The role of the digital media in increasing that stress is also clear, as is its potential to be utilised for progressive reform and democratic accountability. We have to be wise in responding to the first, and smart about fulfilling the second. As to their impact on political outcomes, that remains stubbornly unpredictable. The Arab Spring failed to become a summer.

With that knowledge, all we can do is what we must do. Resist the censors, the haters, the authoritarians, religious and secular, the builders of walls, and declare them the enemy of us all, this human race, which will not be dragged against its will into a new dark age.


Brian McNair is the author of Cultural Chaos (Routledge, 2006). His new book is Communication and Political Crisis (Peter Lang, 2016).

The Conversation

Brian McNair, Professor of Journalism, Media and Communication, Queensland University of Technology

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Our first Sunday in Berlin

26 Jul

Above is the video that was taken in the Volkspark am Weinberg.

We had arrived on Saturday, the 4th of June. Ilse’s sons had come to Tegel-Airport to pick us up and drive us with all our luggage to our apartment in Rubensstrasse. It was so good to have the two cars waiting for us. Klaudia as well as Ilse and Finn had also come along and we took off on the Autobahn that took us from the airport to our apartment in just a few minutes! Once we were settled in our apartment, we were given huge amounts of food, especially Ilse and Finn had brought a lot of food along. So all of us stayed together for quite a while, talking about lots of things and having a nice meal.

Strangely enough we did not feel too tired to go out to the Brandenburg Gate after our Berlin family had left us. So it was the five of us from Australia, namely Martin, Caroline, Matthew, Peter and me, exploring Berlin on our own on our first day in Berlin after we had only just arrived on our very long trip all the way from Australia.

The following morning we went out for breakfast. Die “Wolke” was just around the corner. They were doing pretty good business on a Sunday morning. We noticed a constant stream of customers. So we had a good breakfast sitting down in the Wolke Cafe.

PETER LOVED THIS BUN

PETER LOVED THIS BUN

Steak tartare is a meat dish made from finely chopped or minced rawbeef.

 

This what I had

This is what I had

Streusel-Schnecke is what we liked too.

Streusel-Schnecke is what we liked too.

I did not take pictures of all the food, but here is some more of the food that was on offer.

I did not take pictures of all the food, but here is some more of the food that was on offer.

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I seem not to have taken any pictures from that afternoon we spent near Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor) and where we had gone to by public transport.
But on Sunday the five of us did – also by public transport –  go to Alexander Platz and from there on the U-Bahn to Rosenthaler Platz to meet my niece Corinna and her son Carlos for lunch.

Am Alexander Platz

Am Alexander Platz

Martin, Caroline, Peter and Matthew

Martin, Caroline, Peter and Matthew

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The above picture I still took at Alexander Platz. After Alexander Platz we took off to ROSENTHALER PLATZ.

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Peter with my niece Corinna and her son Carlos

Peter with my niece Corinna and her son Carlos

I with Caroline, Matthew and Corinna

I with Caroline, Matthew and Corinna

This lunch is to my liking

This lunch was to my liking

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After lnch we went to this place.

After lunch we went to this place.

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When we left this interesting place we were heading for the park where – as Corinna promised – there would be some dancing on display together with great swing music from the 1940s. Carlos had made his good-buys in the meantime. (After all, it is only a certain amount of time a fifteen year old is willing to spend with the ‘oldies’!)

Corinna had been right, there was some dancing going on here.

Corinna had been right, there was some dancing going on here.

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Peter and I found the music quite electrifying. It reminded us of old times and the swing music that we used to like. During the 1950s, when we would often go dancing, swing was still quite popular.On that Sunday afternoon in the park inspired by the music  Peter and I actually tried a little bit of dancing of our own. To our amusement, somebody videoed us while we were doing this! (See video at the beginning of page) We found this absolutely hilarious. Later on we watched for quite some time the dancing of the very young people. They seemed quite familiar with this type of dance music and danced very well indeed. A lot of these young people had dressed up in the 1940s style. There was even one young guy who had dressed in something that reminded us of the post WWII period when the young Americans of our occupation forces looked in their  uniforms a bit like this guy did. Quite amazing!

I took a picture of our little group before we were sitting down for some drinks.

I took a picture of our little group before we were sitting down for some drinks.

It was a balmy early summer afternoon. We enjoyed our drinks, listening to the music and watching the young people dancing. The place is called “Volkspark am Weinberg”.

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House of my Grandparents

25 Jul
Golden Wedding (2)

The grandparents Golden Wedding in November 1943

In this picture of the Golden Wedding are the three daughters and the three sons of the grandparents, all with their spouses. There are also a number of grandchildren (including me next to grandma!). Some of the younger grandchildren are not in the picture.

Western Democracy

25 Jul

Bread and Caucuses: US primaries, Brazilian coups, and the depressing irrelevance of Western democracy.

A 2013 Princeton University study by Martin Gilens entitled Affluence & Influence suggests that the US is no longer a democracy but an oligarchy, in which power rests with a small number of wealthy elites. Hillary’s decision to back the 2010 Citizens United bill which protects multi-million dollar political donations as the exercise of “free speech” confirms this. It doesn’t take an IQ of 180 to realise that under a capitalist system the political class exist to serve the interests of capitalists.

In scenes reminiscent of the 1930s the euro is rapidly dissolving and we are seeing the rise of fascism across Europe. While NATO surrounds Russia’s borders, the US continues to run destabilising coups in Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa. Currently there are some 250,000 US military personnel deployed to over 725 military bases throughout the world. As the popular meme goes, that’s not self-defence; that’s an empire.

Rubensstrasse, Berlin-Friedenau

24 Jul

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Martin, Peter and Caroline on the way to our apartment in Rubensstrasse

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Martin, Caroline and Matthew walk ahead to our apartment.

This is a visitor in our apartment.

We have a visitor!

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Locally grown fruit that we could buy at ALDI's

Locally grown fruit that we could buy at ALDI’s

It was about 1 km to walk to the ALDI shop.

It was about 1 km to walk to the ALDI shop.

A few steps away from the ALDI shop is the entrance to S-Bahnhof Friedenau. We used the S-Bahn (city-train) frequently. Martin often went to do some shopping at ALDI’s for us. He did not take very long to go there and back. I probably needed at least twice as much time to walk there for I walk so much slower than Martin.

We had also an EDEKA  store very close by to where we lived. Martin would quite often do some shopping there as well. The following pictures I took close to Rubensstrasse.

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We always bought a good selection of bread.

We always bought a good selection of bread.

We were one floor above ground-level and had this view into a courtyard from our living-room window.

We were one floor above ground-level and had this view into a courtyard from our living-room window.

During the day often would come trucks and/or workers into the courtyard.

During the day quite often trucks and/or workers would come into the courtyard.

 

 

Peter and Martin

Peter and Martin

This is the window with a view to the courtyard.

This is the window with a view to the courtyard.

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