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Germany

Three (German) Cheers For The Ever Underestimated Angela Merkel

Op-Ed: Germany's relative economic strength and Angela Merkel's steady leadership on the debt crisis are being lauded around the world. Now it's time that Merkel gets some overdue respect from her own citizens.

Three (German) Cheers For The Ever Underestimated Angela Merkel
Ulf Poschardt

BERLIN - The world views Germany right now with more than a little envy. The country weathered well the 2008 global economic crisis, its budget is pretty much on-track, unemployment is shrinking, and the head of government is a woman who has both the ambition and the disposition to show badly indebted countries a minimum of economic decency in bailing out the euro.

But little value is attached to these efforts in Germany. In fact, something of a grousing, even supercilious tone is to be heard in criticisms of Angela Merkel and her government. Put simply, one could speak of a basic lack of respect for the nation's chancellor even as she works tirelessly to ensure that the foundations of Germany's prosperity are not lost.

In presenting the facts to the Bundestag before leaving for Brussels, Merkel once again used an unemotional, factual tone in sharp contrast to the excitability of many experts and populists. Stoically, with just a trace of leavening humor, she presented the outlines of her approach with every effort to be as clear as possible.

The tendency of states to leave the tab for someone else to pick up must come to an end, conditions for sustainable growth have to be created, while at the same time the European Central Bank's ominous tendency to print more and more money has to be stopped, Merkel said.

The bailout plans were admirably presented by her not as some kind of wise final decision, but as a result of realistically arranged and workable compromise strategies.

Germans have to trust their chancellor – trust that she will savvily represent their interests that cannot be separated from those of Europe. There is plenty to criticize about Merkel, such as her marked preference for flying by sight. But in the present situation, it is in Germany's interest to wish her luck, endurance and perseverance.

Read the original article in German

Photo - Bundeswehr-Fotos Wir.Dienen.Deutschland.

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Society

Colombia Celebrates Its Beloved Drug For The Ages, Coffee

This essential morning drink for millions worldwide was once considered an addictive menace, earning itself a ban on pain of death in the Islamic world.

Colombia's star product: coffee beans.

Julián López de Mesa Samudio

-Essay-

BOGOTÁ — October 1st is International Coffee Day. Recently it seems as if every day of the calendar year commemorates something — but for Colombia, coffee is indeed special.

For almost a century now we have largely tied our national destiny, culture and image abroad to this drink. Indeed it isn't just Colombia's star product, it became through the course of the 20th century the world's favorite beverage — and the most commonly used drug to boost work output.

Precisely for its stimulating qualities — and for being a mild drug — coffee was not always celebrated, and its history is peppered with the kinds of bans, restrictions and penalties imposed on the 'evil' drugs of today.

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