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Germany

Hey Pig! Germany's Steep Fines For Animal Insults ('Stinkefingers' Ain't Cheap Either)

Humans often hurl animal-based insults at each other. But in Germany, crass language can be costly, especially if you call someone an “alte sau.” Silly goose, not so much.

Germany's language police prefer cows to pigs
Germany's language police prefer cows to pigs

Every year, thousands of German drivers learn the hard way that it's just not OK to call someone a "dumb pig." The insult risks a fine of between 500 and 2,000 euros.

Call someone an "alte sau" or "old sow" – the highest level of verbal abuse – and the fine is even stiffer: 2,500 euros. On the other end of the scale are tamer insults like "silly goose" or "stupid cow." German authorities consider these to be less serious than pig-based affronts, and fines only cost around 300 euros.

Those who research cursing and swearing, called maledictologists, tend to see outbursts of this type as a verbal way of letting off steam and reducing stress. British researchers at Keele University conducted experiments in which test subjects were asked to immerse their hands in ice water and insult the researchers all they wanted while so doing.

"Hurling insults caused the release of endorphins that dulled the pain," said project head Richard Stephens. "Swearing can be good not only for the soul but for the body as well." In other words, yelling "stupid cow" is the equivalent of taking a verbal painkiller.

In Germany, however, getting caught doing this is only going to land you in hot water. And verbal insults are not the only ones German laws take umbrage with – insulting gestures prompts fines as well. Caught suggesting that someone is crazy by putting a finger to your head will cost a sliding percentage of monthly income. If this works out to 1,500 euros net per month, for example, then das Zeigen des Vogels can cost anywhere between 1000 and 1500 euros.

Giving somebody the Stinkefinger -- as in raising the middle finger -- is considered a higher-grade insult than the Vogel; the fine for that is also based on income, and can really break the bank.

Read the full article in German by Silvia Meixner

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Geopolitics

How Ukraine Keeps Getting The West To Flip On Arms Supplies

The open debate on weapon deliveries to Ukraine is highly unusual, but Kyiv has figured out how to use the public moral suasion — and patience — to repeatedly shift the question in its favor. But will it work now for fighter jets?

Photo of a sunset over the USS Nimitz with a man guiding fighter jets ready for takeoff

U.S fighter jets ready for takeoff on the USS Nimitz

Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

PARIS — In what other war have arms deliveries been negotiated so openly in the public sphere?

On Monday, a journalist asked Joe Biden if he plans on supplying F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine. He answered “No”. A few hours later, the same question was asked to Emmanuel Macron, about French fighter jets. Macron did not rule it out.

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Visiting Paris on Tuesday, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksïï Reznikov recalled that a year ago, the United States had refused him ground-air Stinger missiles deliveries. Eleven months later, Washington is delivering heavy tanks, in addition to everything else. The 'no' of yesterday is the green light of tomorrow: this is the lesson that the very pragmatic minister seemed to learn.

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