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Germany

Why Cologne Attacks Have Killed Taboo On Muslim Immigration

It has been considered not politically correct to talk about challenges of integrating Muslim immigrants in German society. That has changed forever after the New Year's attacks on women in Cologne.

Cologne's cathedral, where violence happened on NYE
Cologne's cathedral, where violence happened on NYE
Jacques Schuster

-Op-Ed-

BERLIN — This day will make history.

For the first time, German politicians are talking straight. What we are now witnessing is nothing less than the beginning of a reversal in Germany's entire approach to refugee policy.

To understand just how dramatically Germany's attitude has changed, consider the Nov. 23 interview with the chairman of the Central Council of Jews in Germany. Meditative, calm, carefully searching for the right words, Josef Schuster explained how important it was to support people in trouble.

But he also said the day would come when it would be necessary to consider restrictions and boundaries. In the long run, he continued, it wouldn't be feasible to absorb all of the refugees, especially considering that among them were people with a cultural background much different from ours, who would have to move toward the acceptance and incorporation of gender equality, equal rights for homosexuals and Jews.

Schuster never said anything that could be considered immoral or offensive. But in the weeks after the interview was published, he faced the kind of hostile backlash that no other chairman of the organization has ever had to endure. Politicians all across the country denounced his self-evident and rather tepid comments as scandalous, politically incorrect, a derailment from history. One even accused Schuster of "polluting the climate," and another said his organization should be renamed the Central Council of Racist Jews.

But what was considered scurrilous and "far right" less than two months ago is suddenly conventional wisdom all across Germany.

There's no politician, no commentator today who would dare to contradict the basic ideas Schuster laid out. More than that, Social Democrats are now adding to the debate by saying Germany should make it easier to deport refugees under certain circumstances, even though they considered this idea right-wing extremism just days ago. Nobody hesitates now to name which countries refugees suspected of crimes originated — which, until New Year's Eve, had for years been considered in terribly poor taste.

No more walls

Katarina Barley, a Social Democrat leader, now says Germany should take "take drastic measures." Another, Sigmar Gabriel, says the country should "exploit all of options of international law."

Some may mock this sudden turn, while others deplore or welcome it, but one thing is sure now: Jan. 6, the day the official police reports concerning the events of New Year's Eve in Cologne were published, will make history in Germany. That was the official turning point in the country's immigration policy.

It's now finally acceptable to point out the dangers that come with mass immigration from primarily Muslim countries. We have marked the end to the taboos that were, after all, nothing but the prohibition of intelligent reflection.

Decades ago, Social Democrat thinker Peter Glotz characterized major political parties as "tankers," in contrast to the more agile sailing crafts of smaller parties. They were less flexible, he noted, requiring more time to set in motion any kind of change. We can say that the same is true for democracy as a whole. It's difficult to get it moving, and it often remains stagnant for years. And yet, fortunately, democracy is the only political system with the gift of self-criticism and the power to repair its errors.

It's a message that should ring true as well for those demanding a more authoritarian regime in Dresden and the East German regions, where rallies by the far-right Pegida movement want to discard democratic ideals to safeguard the well-being of residents. Now our leaders have the means to achieve the necessary corrections in immigration policy without having to build new walls in our society. Ever since Jan. 6, this is our new reality. Finally.

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Future

Livestream Shopping Is Huge In China — Will It Fly Elsewhere?

Streaming video channels of people shopping has been booming in China, and is beginning to win over customers abroad as a cheap and cheerful way of selling products to millions of consumers glued to the screen.

A A female volunteer promotes spring tea products via on-line live streaming on a pretty mountain surrounded by tea plants.

In Beijing, selling spring tea products via on-line live streaming.

Xinhua / ZUMA
Gwendolyn Ledger

SANTIAGO — TikTok, owned by Chinese tech firm ByteDance, has spent more than $500 million to break into online retailing. The app, best known for its short, comical videos, launched TikTok Shop in August, aiming to sell Chinese products in the U.S. and compete with other Chinese firms like Shein and Temu.

Tik Tok Shop will have three sections, including a live or livestream shopping channel, allowing users to buy while watching influencers promote a product.

This choice was strategic: in the past year, live shopping has become a significant trend in online retailing both in the U.S. and Latin America. While still an evolving technology, in principle, it promises good returns and lower costs.

Chilean Carlos O'Rian Herrera, co-founder of Fira Onlive, an online sales consultancy, told América Economía that live shopping has a much higher catchment rate than standard website retailing. If traditional e-commerce has a rate of one or two purchases per 100 visits to your site, live shopping can hike the ratio to 19%.

Live shopping has thrived in China and the recent purchases of shopping platforms in some Latin American countries suggests firms are taking an interest. In the United States, live shopping generated some $20 billion in sales revenues in 2022, according to consultants McKinsey. This constituted 2% of all online sales, but the firm believes the ratio may become 20% by 2026.

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