NASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter hovers over Mars for the first time

Welcome to Tuesday, where Chad's president is reportedly killed on the front lines, Minnesota braces for a verdict in the George Floyd murder trial and Switzerland celebrates its mountain-climbing cat. Indian news website The Wire also takes us to Delhi, where real estate dealers are pushing Muslim families to sell their houses and move out, increasing segregation and even ghettoization.

• Doubts over India's COVID death count, France launches travel pass: In India, constant cremations in some states cast doubts on the real number of COVID-related deaths. Meanwhile, France is launching a COVID health pass for travel to its overseas territories, hoping it will be extended to European Union member states.

• Chad's president Idriss Deby reportedly killed: Chad's veteran president was killed while visiting troops fighting rebels in the north of the country, army officials said. The announcement comes just one day after Idriss Deby won a sixth term in office.

• Pakistan weighs expulsion of French envoys: Pakistan's parliament will consider a resolution to expel French diplomats following French President Emmanuel Macron's defense last year of the right to publish satirical cartoons depicting Islam's Prophet. This debate comes amid negotiations with the now-banned far-right and anti-France TLP party, after days of violent protests that saw four policemen killed and over 800 wounded.

• Derek Chauvin trial in jury's hands: Thousands of National Guard members and hundreds of police officers have been deployed in Minneapolis, as the whole nation awaits the verdict in the trial of former police officer Chauvin, charged with murder in the death of George Floyd. Cities across the country are already bracing for protests.

• Former U.S. VP Walter Mondale dies: Jimmy Carter's vice president and longtime Minnesota senator Walter Mondale died Monday at the age of 93. Mondale lost in a landslide to Ronald Reagan in the 1984 presidential election.

• German chancellor election: Leader of Germany's ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Armin Laschet has been elected as his party's candidate to succeed Angela Merkel in the Chancellery in September's election. Annalena Baerbock has also been selected as Green Party's candidate, as the Greens' popularity keeps rising.

• To the top of the meowntain: A cat lost on the slopes of a mountain in Switzerland tagged along with two hikers and arrived at the top of their 3,000-meter (10,000-ft) climb, before being reunited with its owners at a lower altitude.

Granma, the official newspaper of the Cuban Communist Party, features the party's new first secretary Miguel Diaz-Canel, who was chosen to replace Raul Castro, marking the end of six decades of rule by the brothers Raul and Fidel Castro.

How the real estate market ghettoizes Muslims in India

In February 2020, 53 people were killed and thousands more were injured or displaced during some of the worst communal riots in Delhi's history since the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom. A year later, Muslims are being forced out of their neighborhoods, reports Flavia Lopes, a Land and Governance Research Fellow at Land Conflict Watch, in Indian news website The Wire.

This past year, the number of Muslim families selling their homes in riot-hit neighborhoods has increased. Muslims families sold their houses fast at reduced prices — at least 25% below market rates, according to several testimonies including from property dealers, some of whom appear to have encouraged the sales. Mohammed Rizwan, a property dealer who operates from an office near Gali no. 13, a low-income neighborhood in North-East Delhi, said he is looking for buyers for nearly 40 homes put up on sale by Muslim families. He is so busy, he is barely in his office.

The segregation in neighborhoods like in Delhi can result in future violence, as research across the world has shown. "As long as you live in a mixed colony, there is a greater chance to intermingle," says Harsh Mander of the Centre for Equity Studies in Delhi. "Now, the next generation will not even have the opportunity to call a member of the other community as their friend. Then the manufacturing of hatred becomes easy."

Within the last year, real estate dealers have encouraged Muslim families to sell their houses, stoking fears of demographic change within the neighbourhood, said Mukhim, a resident of the lane. Mukhim, who lived in Gali no. 13, said the moment he decided to move out, real estate dealers were badgering him to sell his house even if it meant doing so at a loss. They kept saying, "Shift to your gad (fort), why do you want to risk your own safety," he said. Mukhim hasn't sold his house as it is getting rebuilt. But the property agents are still pushing him to sell, he says.

➡️


Germany's CDU and Green Party have both picked their candidate to succeed Angela Merkel, as the Kanzlerkandidatur (candidacy for Chancellor) moves forward, ahead of September's federal election.


The number of migrant children reported in Mexico has increased sharply since the start of 2021 according to a report by UNICEF, with a current average of 275 additional migrant children entering the country every day with the aim of traveling north to cross into the United States. These children, who mostly come from Central American countries, represent at least 30% of the migrant population in Mexican shelters, with an estimated half of them traveling without their parents.

The world wants justice, not hegemony.

— Chinese president Xi Jinping said at the annual Boao Forum for Asia, amid growing tensions between the United States and China over several issues, including human rights, intellectual property and Chinese expansion in the South China Sea.

Support Worldcrunch
We are grateful for reader support to continue our unique mission of delivering in English the best international journalism, regardless of language or geography. Click here to contribute whatever you can. Merci!

Merkel's Legacy: The Rise And Stall Of The German Economy

How have 16 years of Chancellor Angela Merkel changed Germany? The Chancellor accompanied the country's rise to near economic superpower status — and then progress stalled. On technology and beyond, Germany needs real reforms under Merkel's successor.

Chancellor Angela Merkel looks at the presentation of the current 2 Euro commemorative coin ''Brandenburg''

Daniel Eckert

BERLIN — Germans are doing better than ever. By many standards, the economy broke records during the reign of outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel: private households' financial assets have climbed to a peak; the number of jobs recorded a historic high before the pandemic hit at the beginning of 2020; the GDP — the sum of all goods and services produced in a period — also reached an all-time high.

And still, while the economic balance sheet of Merkel's 16 years is outstanding if taken at face value, on closer inspection one thing catches the eye: against the backdrop of globalization, Europe's largest economy no longer has the clout it had at the beginning of the century. Germany has fallen behind in key sectors that will shape the future of the world, and even the competitiveness of its manufacturing industries shows unmistakable signs of fatigue.

In 2004, a year before Merkel was first elected Chancellor, the British magazine The Economist branded Germany the "sick man of Europe." Ironically, the previous government, a coalition of center-left and green parties, had already laid the foundations for recovery with some reforms. Facing the threat of high unemployment, unions had held back on wage demands.

"Up until the Covid-19 crisis, Germany had achieved strong economic growth with both high and low unemployment," says Michael Holstein, chief economist at DZ Bank. However, it never made important decisions for its future.

Another economist, Jens Südekum of Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf, offers a different perspective: "Angela Merkel profited greatly from the preparatory work of her predecessor. This is particularly true regarding the extreme wage restraint practiced in Germany in the early 2000s."

Above all, Germany was helped in the first half of the Merkel era by global economic upheaval. Between the turn of the millennium and the 2011-2012 debt crisis, emerging countries, led by China, experienced unprecedented growth. With many German companies specializing in manufacturing industrial machines and systems, the rise of rapidly industrializing countries was a boon for the country's economy.

Germany dismissed Google as an over-hyped tech company.

Digital competitiveness, on the other hand, was not a big problem in 2005 when Merkel became chancellor. Google went public the year before, but was dismissed as an over-hyped tech company in Germany. Apple's iPhone was not due to hit the market until 2007, then quickly achieved cult status and ushered in a new phase of the global economy.

Germany struggled with the digital economy, partly because of the slow expansion of internet infrastructure in the country. Regulation, lengthy start-up processes and in some cases high taxation contributed to how the former economic wonderland became marginalized in some of the most innovative sectors of the 21st century.

Volkswagen's press plant in Zwickau, Germany — Photo: Jan Woitas/dpa/ZUMA

"When it comes to digitization today, Germany has a lot of catching up to do with the relevant infrastructure, such as the expansion of fiber optics, but also with digital administration," says Stefan Kooths, Director of the Economic and Growth Research Center at the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW Kiel).

For a long time now, the country has made no adjustments to its pension system to ward off the imminent demographic problems caused by an increasingly aging population. "The social security system is not future-proof," says Kooths. The most recent changes have come at the expense of future generations and taxpayers, the economist says.

Low euro exchange rates favored German exports

Nevertheless, things seemed to go well for the German economy at the start of the Merkel era. In part, this can be explained by the economic downturn caused by the euro debt crisis of 2011-2012. Unlike in the previous decade, the low euro exchange rate favored German exports and made money flow into German coffers. And since then-European Central Bank president Mario Draghi's decision to save the euro "whatever it takes" in 2012, this money has become cheaper and cheaper.

In the long run, these factors inflated the prices of real estate and other sectors but failed to contribute to the future viability of the country. "With the financial crisis and the national debt crisis that followed, economic policy got into crisis mode, and it never emerged from it again," says DZ chief economist Holstein. Policy, he explains, was geared towards countering crises and maintaining the status quo. "The goal of remaining competitive fell to the background, as did issues concerning the future."

In the traditional field of manufacturing, the situation deteriorated significantly. The Institut der Deutschen Wirtschaft (IW), which regularly measures and compares the competitiveness of industries in different countries, recently concluded that German companies have lost many of the advantages they had gained. The high level of productivity, which used to be one of the country's strengths, faltered in the years before the pandemic.

Kooths, of IfW Kiel, points out that private investment in the German economy has declined in recent years, while the "government quota" in the economy, which describes the amount of government expenditure against the GDP, grew significantly during Merkel's tenure, from 43.5% in 2005 to 46.5% in 2019. Kooths concludes that: "Overall, the state's influence on economic activity has increased significantly."

Another very crucial aspect of competitiveness, at least from the point of view of skilled workers and companies, has been neglected by German politics for years: taxes and social contributions. The country has among the highest taxes on income in Europe, and corporate taxes are also hardly as high as in Germany anywhere in the industrialized world. "In the long run, high tax rates always come at the expense of economic dynamism and can even prevent new companies from being set up," warns Kooths.

Startups can renew an economy and lay the foundation for future prosperity. Between the year 2000 and the Covid-19 crisis, fewer and fewer new companies were created every year. Economists from left to right are unanimous: Angela Merkel is leaving behind a country with considerable need for reform.

Support Worldcrunch
We are grateful for reader support to continue our unique mission of delivering in English the best international journalism, regardless of language or geography. Click here to contribute whatever you can. Merci!