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July 18th, 2009

In The News: "German mass swine flu vaccinations start in September" @ 06:32 pm


Health | 17.07.2009
Source: http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,4496394,00.html

German mass swine flu vaccinations start in September

22.5 million people can be vaccinated in the first stage of a massive anti-swine flu scheme that starts in September. Health and public workers, as well as chronically ill people will get the flu shots first.

The German health ministry announced on Friday that an estimated quarter of Germany's population will be eligible to receive the flu shots. This confirms reports earlier this week that the government had plans to order 50 million vaccine units against swine flu. The vaccines will be available from September, to coincide with an expected surge in flu cases.

Health state ministers late on Thursday agreed that chronically ill patients, health care workers, police officers, fire fighters, public workers and pregnant women can receive the injections first. Two shots are needed for the vaccination to be effective against the (A)H1N1 virus.

"The vaccinations are a precautionary measure," said health ministry spokesman, Klaus Vater. "No one can tell how the new virus will develop in the coming weeks."

Despite the priority immunization list, Federal Health Minister Ulla Schmidt insists that everyone who wants to be vaccinated against swine flu, will be able to do so. Protecting the entire population is expected to cost health insurers an estimated two billion euros. Around 800 infections - none fatal - have been reported in Germany. That's the third-highest number in Europe after Britain and Spain.

Berlin has not said when the remaining population can be vaccinated. This largely depends on how fast pharmaceutical companies can produce the vaccine. The World Health Organization (WHO) said up to 4.9 billion doses could be produced in 12 months. 

The UN health body has meanwhile announced that it was no longer counting individual cases of swine flu. It said the virus is spreading so fast, it cannot keep up with all the figures and is now asking national health authorities to only report clusters of severe cases, deaths caused by the new virus, or unusual clinical patterns.

This is following the trend in many countries where mass vaccinations will also take place. Personally, I'm not sure what to think about this move.

How do you feel about it? Would you get vaccinated? Are you getting the general flu shots?


July 17th, 2009

Austrians fail to see funny side of Bruno @ 10:05 am


An article from the British newspaper the Daily Telegpraph about Sacha Baron Cohen's new film Bruno, where he portrays himself as a gay Austrian fashion designer.

They were both bemused and appalled as they poured over newspaper pictures of Bruno, the outrageously camp Austrian fashion journalist and latest alter ego of the British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen.

The lederhosen-wearing character who declares he wants to be "the most famous Austrian since Adolf Hitler" as he sets off to seek fame and fortune in America in the eponymous new film would find few customers keen to buy him a beer in his home town.

"I haven't seen the film yet, but from what I've read I'm outraged. He looks absolutely appalling - and to think that he is prancing around the world in the name of Austria," said one customer.

Another drinker at his table examined a picture of Bruno wearing a skin-tight leather cut-off jacket and Mohawk haircut. "To think that people would allow their children to dress like that - those tight clothes," he said.

"Bruno shocks Vienna" was the headline in the Österreich newspaper the morning after the film's London premiere this week. Baron Cohen may have amused the tourists in Leicester Square with a high-energy dance routine, but many Viennese are far from happy.

At the Restaurant Smutny, which serves traditional Austrian dishes, the barman, Josef Bannik, had a blunt response when asked if he would go to see the film when it goes on release in Vienna next month.

"Definitely not," he said. "I find it disgusting that a gay man should be parading around like that. I wouldn't go near it if you paid me."

Leopold Brunner, who works in the tourist industry, explained: "Austria is a very conservative country. I'm afraid most people here will fail to see the ironic side to this new film."

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See the original article here!

June 30th, 2009

Pina Bausch @ 09:20 am


Pina Bausch, German choreographer and dancer, dies

Chris Wiegand
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 30 June 2009 17.02 BST

The German choreographer and dancer Pina Bausch died this morning at the age of 68, five days after being diagnosed with cancer.

Bausch was the artistic director of the Tanztheater Wuppertal, which she founded in 1973. She had a formidable international reputation as one of modern dance's greatest innovators. Her dance-theatre works include the melancholic Café Müller (1978), in which dancers stumble around the stage crashing into tables and chairs, and a thrilling Rite of Spring (1975), which required the stage to be completely covered with soil. Nelken (2005) was performed on a floor covered in flowers, while Palermo Palermo (1989) featured a line of dancers with apples balanced on their heads. Another of her works, Kontakthof (1978), was performed by an ensemble aged between 58 and 77.

Excerpts from Bausch's Café Müller and another of her works, Masurca Fogo, reached a wider audience when they were featured in Pedro Almodóvar's film Talk to Her (2002). Bausch also appeared in Federico Fellini's 1983 film And the Ship Sails On. In recent months, she had been preparing a 3-D cinema project with Wim Wenders; shooting was slated to commence in September.

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A video of Pinsa Bausch's Wuppertal Tanztheater performing the Rite of Spring:


June 12th, 2009

In the News: German Boy Hit by Meteorite @ 02:38 pm

Current Music: Lhasa - Soon This Space Will Be Too Small | Powered by Last.fm

i found this amusing. imagine... lolz

space.com – Fri Jun 12, 9:45 am ET

A 14-year old German boy was hit in the hand by a pea-sized meteorite that scared the bejeezus out of him and left a scar.

"When it hit me it knocked me flying and then was still going fast enough to bury itself into the road," Gerrit Blank said in a newspaper account. Astronomers have analyzed the object and conclude it was indeed a natural object from space, The Telegraph reports.

Most meteors vaporize in the atmosphere, creating "shooting stars," and never reach the ground. The few that do are typically made mostly of metals. Stony space rocks, even if they are big as a car, will usually break apart or explode as they crash through the atmosphere. There are a handful of reports of homes and cars being struck by meteorites, and many cases of space rocks streaking to the surface and being found later. But human strikes are rare. There are no known instances of humans being killed by space rocks.

According to a SPACE.com article on the topic a few years back:

- On November 30, 1954, Alabama housewife Ann Hodges was taking a nap on her couch when she was awakened by a 3-pound (1.4-kilogram) meteor that crashed through the roof of her house, bounced off a piece of furniture and struck her in the hip, causing a large bruise.

- On October 9, 1992, a large fireball was seen streaking over the eastern United States, finally exploding into many pieces. In Peekskill, New York, one of the pieces struck a Chevrolet automobile owned by Michelle Knapp. Knapp was not in the car at the time.

- On June 21, 1994, Jose Martin of Spain was driving with his wife near Madrid when a 3-pound (1.4-kilogram) meteor crashed through his windshield, bent the steering wheel and ended up in the back seat.

- In 2004, a 2,000-pound space rock bigger than a refrigerator exploded in the late-night sky over Chicago, producing a large flash and a sound resembling a detonation that woke people up. Fragments rained down on that wild Chicago night, and many were collected by residents in a northern suburb.

Photo Gallery: Shooting Stars


June 5th, 2009

In the news: Obama & his German Ancestry @ 11:21 am

Current Music: Maryam Mursal - Kufilaw | Powered by Last.fm

Hey all,

I have an article to share that relates to Barack Obama's visit to Germany. I'm curious as to what German reaction is to Obama, his Cairo speech and today's visit? What do Germans think about our new president?

The article: Utah Genealogy Firm digs up Obama's German roots
Mother's side: Longtime mayor and an army medic show up among his European ancestors

As President Barack Obama meets with German leaders Friday in Dresden, he may be walking among distant relatives. Provo-based Ancestry.com has found that Obama's lineage -- on his mother's side -- can be traced to Germany. Using online sources and microfilm from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, genealogists hunted down a document that went as far back as Obama's eighth great-grandfather.

"One of the things that I love about this find is it really illustrates what you can find out about your family history," said Anastasia Tyler, lead genealogist on the project. "World history is our history. It's a personal thing. The decisions of your ancestors shape who you are and where you are."

Obama's mother was a white woman born in Kansas, his father was Kenyan. Ancestry.com has pursued his lineage through his mother's side and previously found Irish ancestry, but decided to look into his German roots in time for his visit to the European nation.

Both civil and military service show up in Obama's blood. His eighth great-grandfather, Conrad Wolflin, served as a mayor in Orsingen, Germany, for 30 years. His son, Johann Martin Wolflin, was an Army medic for years and fought in the Austro-Turkish War in 1916-17 and was involved in the famous siege of Temesvar. In that raid, Habsburg Imperial armies led by Prince Eugene of Savoy took the last important Ottoman-Turk stronghold in Hungary, which today is the Romanian city of Timisoara. During the siege, the document notes, Wolflin was injured with an arrow shot from the fortress. It also states he was captured at some point in his military career by the French for a period of time.

His son, Obama's sixth great-grandfather, was born Johann Conrad Wolflin on Jan. 29, 1729 in Besigheim, Wuerttemberg, Germany. In 1750, he boarded the ship "Patience" and resettled in Pennsylvania with fellow German immigrants. It was there his last name changed to Wolfley. He married and had children, including Ludwig Lewis Wolfley, the first U.S.-born relative in that branch of his family tree.

The breakthrough came when researchers exhausted their online resources and sifted through microfilmed records at the Family History Library, which is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There, researchers found a document called a "Seelenregister" -- Registry of Souls -- that had the name of Johann Conrad Wolfley, and information about his father and his grandfather. "We had searched for a birth record," Tyler said, "but this was better because it had information about other relatives."

Besigheim Deputy Mayor Klaus Schremps told the Associated Press Television Network he was "very surprised" that Obama could have a connection to his city. But he tracked down a copy of the parish Seelenregister himself, and located Wolflin's name. "If this turns out really to be the case," Schremps said, "we will extend an invitation to Mr. Obama and if he would come and visit at some stage, it would be a great joy for the city and for the people."

The quaint city dates back to at least 1153 and today has 11,400 residents. Rivers surround the town on three sides, and two medieval towers and a late-Gothic church give it a picturesque silhouette. At the time of Johann Conrad Wolflin's birth, it was part of the duchy of Württemberg. Bernhard Kober, who runs the Cafe zum Hirsch in the old city center, said he always thought Besigheim was "something very special." "I took it for granted that some great person came from Besigheim," the 47-year-old told APTN. "That it is Barack? That is great for us."

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune. http://www.sltrib.com/utah/ci_12522012


May 13th, 2009

THE HAMBURGER - Etymology & History @ 01:04 pm

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Precursors and origins
The word "hamburger" originated in Hamburg, Germany. In Hamburg it was common to put a piece of roast pork into a roll, called Rundstück warm, although this is missing the "essence" of the modern hamburger, which is ground meat.

In the Middle Ages, Hamburg was an important center of trade between Arab and European merchants. The theory is that Arab traders introduced Kibbeh, which is ground lamb mixed with spices, often eaten raw. The locals then adapted the dish by replacing the lamb with pork and/or beef, and more significantly, by cooking it to make a fillet of ground meat, i.e., a "Hamburg Steak" or "Hamburger" as it eventually came to be known, and from this they made a new and unique kind of Rundstück warm that came to be strongly associated with the city.

There is still a north German tradition of making ground beef sandwiches, thought to descend from the original "Hamburg Rundstück," and which tend to be elongated like an American sub sandwich, and feature very different condiments than the typical modern hamburger. These are often referred to as "German hamburgers" outside of Germany, and are served in many German-food restaurants. Within Germany, the specific connection between the food and the city of Hamburg became lost as the sandwich spread throughout the country and became a somewhat common dish, while in other countries the historical term "Hamburger" remained in popular usage to describe ground meat rolls and sandwiches. In actuality, hamburger refers to the ground beef used to make the sandwich, rather than the sandwich itself.

Development of modern hamburgers
Although Hamburg, Germany is credited for the precursor to the hamburger, the origins of the first "modern" hamburger is debated among scholars. Of much debate is what exactly constitutes the "modern" hamburger, although there is general consensus that it refers to a hamburger patty's placement in a hamburger bun (not just any piece of bread). The bun is said to have been invented in 1916 by J. Walter Anderson, a short-order cook, who went on to found White Castle in 1921. Before the bun, hamburgers are said to have been served between two pieces of bread. In fact, a ground beef patty was known as "Hamburger steak" (first mentioned in an American cookbook in 1891); when this was put between bread or in a bun it was called a "Hamburger sandwich".

One claim of inventing the Hamburger sandwich comes from Charlie Nagreen of Seymour, Wisconsin, U.S.. In 1885, he tried selling fried meatballs at the Outagamie County fair, but customers found them hard to eat while walking around the fair, so Nagreen flattened it and made it into a sandwich he called the "hamburger". (Seymour is home to the Hamburger Hall of Fame and the world's largest hamburger, weighing in at 8,266 pounds [3,749 kg].)

Hamburg, NY, U.S. (not to be confused with the previously mentioned German city) also claims credit for the invention of the hamburger. This village celebrates a "Burgerfest" every summer, held to mark the anniversary of the hamburger's creation at the Erie County Fair in 1885 by the Menches brothers.

Another claim is made by a small lunch counter in the town of New Haven, Connecticut, U.S., named Louis' Lunch. It is sometimes credited with having invented this quick businessman's meal for busy office workers in 1900. Louis' Lunch was serving hamburgers from its closet-sized original location in the 1970s until it had to be re-located to make room for a high-rise. Their burgers are made the same way they were since the beginning, which means toasted bread instead of a bun and no condiments; the only permitted garnishes are cheese, tomato, and onion.

Due to widely prevalent anti-German sentiment in the USA during the First World War, an alternative name for hamburgers ("salisbury steaks") became more common for the duration; hamburgers' popularity even after the war was severely depressed until the White Castle chain of restaurants created a business model featuring sales of large numbers of small hamburgers (later sometimes called "sliders") in the mid-1920s. The original "Salisbury steak", however, was simply well-cooked plain, bunless hamburger, and was "invented" in 1888 by Dr. James H. Salisbury, an English physician. Today, Salisbury steak usually contains egg, bread crumbs or other extenders, and seasonings and is topped with gravy. A thin, fried, hamburger steak is sometimes referred to as a "minute steak". In many parts of the U.S., the same term is used for a thin, mechanically tenderized (nearly chopped) piece of round steak.

Hamburgers today
The fast-food burger began its ascent to modern popularity when Ray Kroc purchased the McDonald's hamburger chain from the McDonald brothers in California, and opened his first McDonald's franchise in Illinois in the mid-1950s. Richard and Maurice McDonald had started the chain in San Bernardino, California, in 1948.

The "cheese hamburger," now simply called cheeseburger, is said to have first appeared in 1924, and is credited to grill chef Lionel Steinberger of The Rite Spot restaurant in Pasadena, California. The term "burger" has now become generic, and may refer to sandwiches that have ground meat, chicken, fish, or vegetarian fillings, but share the characteristic round bun. By the mid 20th century both terms were commonly shortened to "hamburger" or simply "burger." A "hamburger" today can also be made with finely chopped beef as well as ground beef.

The McDonald's chain sells the Big Mac -- the world's best selling burger. Other US-fast-food chains – such as Burger King, Whataburger, Carl's Jr., Hardee's, Wendy's, Jack-In-The-Box, White Castle, In-N-Out, Fatburger, and Sonic – also rely heavily on hamburger sales. Fuddruckers is a popular chain that specializes in the higher-end "restaurant-style" variety of burgers. The "slider" style of mini hamburger is still popular regionally in the White Castle and Krystal chains. 

Shamelessly stolen from:

Hungry yet? I don't eat much beef but here in Los Angeles, I see a trend for "mini gourmet burgers" at the moment. Even the big chains are starting to make them; it seems like they're all the rage. How about where you all live?

May 6th, 2009

"German Comedians Play Up to Stereotypes in UK Show" @ 11:53 am

Current Music: Prototypes - Je Ne Te Connais Pas | Powered by Last.fm

German Comedians Play Up to Stereotypes in UK Show

After enduring ridicule for many decades with typical stoicism and quiet disgust, a couple of Germans have tapped into the British view of their countrymen and have turned the comedic tables on the well-worn stereotypes.

The Fawlty Towers episode "The Germans" is, rightly or wrongly, held up as the epitome of the British attitude towards, well, the Germans. It is well known for the politically incorrect goose-stepping of maniac hotel owner Basil Fawlty and his proclamation that his erratic behavior is all the fault of his Teutonic guests: "They started it ... They invaded Poland!"

Fawlty's crazed reaction to visitors from Britain's war-time adversary sums up the inability of a generation (or two) to move on from events which happened, at the time the show was first aired, some 30 years previously. Sadly, more than 60 years after the end of World War II, similar attitudes still remain in less progressive pockets of resistance on the island.

However, what is less quoted is the uptight, humorless portrayal of the German guests in the classic sitcom. While actor John Cleese nails the stereotypical British reaction, the dour quartet that is forced to endure Fawlty's insults encapsulates the view the Brits have of the citizens of Deutschland. Now a couple of comics have harnessed the power of these stereotypes to create a hugely successful show based on the image of boring, efficiency obsessed Germans.

Wurst, Hitler and penalty kicks

Comedians Otto Kuhnle and Henning Wehn have been going down a storm on the island with their stage show "1000 Years of German Humor." The hour-long show is full of jokes about sausages, references to soccer rivalry, wars and "Mein Kampf." There are also many reminders that life is far more efficient in "the fatherland" than in the United Kingdom, emphasized by the opening routine where Kuhnle shakes his head at late entrants to the show and mutters to the crowd that this would not happen in Germany.

The duo don't only make light of their own nation. A section of the show is conducted between the two stars entirely in German -- a sly dig at the Brits for their habit of talking in their own language wherever they are in the world, only louder than usual.

"But we do it without shouting," Wehn says, emphasizing the point. "You should try that."

"When I came over here six years ago, I couldn't believe the stereotypes which were held against Germans," said Wehn in an interview with the BBC. "People would say, 'Oh, you're from Germany -- you must love David Hasselhoff then?' At first you think they must be someone who is a bit crazy. But when the twentieth person comes up to you and says it, you realize there's a pattern."

No shortage of new material

Just because the duo are now a successful comedy team making light of the stereotypes held by both nationalities, it doesn't mean that the jibes have stopped. When handing out flyers for their recent run of shows in Edinburgh, the duo were exposed to some of their own material but delivered in all seriousness by passers-by.

"They said we had no sense of humor," said Wehn. "They asked if the show starts on time. Oh, and they said, 'You bombed my chip shop.'" But despite that, the duo have found that their act is very popular north of the border -- more so than in London.

"The Scots and the Germans have a lot in common," Kuhnle explained. "Yes, we all hate the English,"*** Wehn replied quick as a flash. Taken from: http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,3591998,00.html

***For the record, I don't think Germans "hate the English", quite the opposite. And what the hell is that Hasselhoff thing? LOL


March 13th, 2009

In The News: "Berlin Launches Charm Offensive" @ 04:12 am


Berlin Launches Charm Offensive 

Smiley face button
Berlin wants to welcome visitors with a smile

People heading to Berlin are often warned to brace themselves for the locals' rather abrasive demeanor. But a new charm offensive launched by the Berlin Senate hopes to spread an aura of friendliness about the capital.

Grumpy, sarcastic, and none too shy about piping up with a flippant comeback -- that's the attitude known as the "Berliner Schnauze" or "Berlin snout" to use its literal English translation.

The Berlin Senate is hoping to counteract its residents' innate churlishness by appointing 4,000 civil servants, including police officers, public transport workers, waiters and trade fair hostesses to be "good-mood ambassadors." They'll receive red buttons singling them out as friendly sources of information for newcomers and visitors to the capital. The goal is "to make the city a little more friendly," said Rene Gurka of Berlin Partner, the company behind the campaign, which kicked off this week in conjunction with the start of the annual ITB tourism trade fair.

"A few years ago, we did a study that showed that non-Germans considered Berlin a place full of grumpy people," senate spokesman Richard Meng told news agency AFP. "We need to show the world that this isn't true."

Confronting stereotypes
As part of the campaign, which is expected to cost 200,000 euros (US$255,000), civil servants will also hand out postcards printed with prime examples of Berliners' unique brand of sarcasm -- and written in the local dialect, of course. The phrases are meant to be a light-hearted poke in the ribs of the stereotypical Berliner, while also showing that it is possible to do service with a smile.

"These cards are fantastic, they show we don't always take ourselves too seriously and that we can laugh at ourselves, too," said Meng.

Berlin is visited by more than eight million tourists annually, and is expecting an increase in tourism this year as it celebrates the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

It's not the first time officials have been after locals to put a shine on the city's image. When Germany hosted the soccer World Cup in 2006, Berlin taxi drivers were offered extra training in English and courteous service as part of a national friendliness campaign. And a multi-million-euro campaign launched last year under the motto "Be Berlin" encouraged locals to project a more positive image to foreigners and tourists.

As yet, there are no statistics to attest to whether or not such campaigns bring about lasting, real change. But organizers such as Gurka say there's not really much changing to do: beneath their rough exterior, most Berliners already are "service-oriented, hospitable and cosmopolitan people." 

Source: http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,4092625,00.html


So what do YOU think?

Have you been to Berlin? What was your impression?

May all this be a German thing or a Berlin thing in particular (similar to, say, the rude New Yorker stereotype in the USA)?

Who are the "Berliners" in YOUR country? :)


January 30th, 2009

In The News: "German citizenship is put to test" @ 09:09 am


German citizenship is put to test

Tristana Moore - BBC News Berlin: Germany has introduced a multiple-choice citizenship test that every immigrant has to pass to gain a German passport. Across the country, schools and adult education centres have already started offering citizenship classes.

As well as taking the test - introduced on 1 September, 2008 - migrants must fulfil other conditions such as having sufficient command of the German language, no criminal record and an income independent of social welfare.

At a school in Berlin's Reinickendorf district, a few immigrants have gathered in a large classroom. A German flag hangs on the wall, and a teacher has written some of the questions on the blackboard: Who was the first chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany? What is the German constitution called? What is the emblem of Germany? What kind of a state is Germany? When were the Nazis and Hitler in power? When did the Second World War end?

The immigrants - who have come to Germany from Chechnya, Pakistan and Turkey - would all like to get a German passport, but first they have to do their homework and learn as much as they can about German politics, history and culture. In all, there are 33 questions which will be chosen from a catalogue of 310. Ten questions are related specifically to the region where the applicant is currently living. Would-be citizens have to answer 17 questions correctly.


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Over the past few years, there has been a steady drop in the number of immigrants granted German citizenship. According to the latest figures, in 2006, a total of 124,566 foreign residents became German nationals, compared to 186,688 given a German passport back in 2000.

Most people who become German citizens are from Turkey and former Yugoslavia.

Immigrants' rights groups are concerned that the new test will simply deter many people from applying for German citizenship in the future.



What do you think about this? Good/bad, fair/unfair?


'Valkyrie' Press Conference in Moscow @ 10:53 am


Hollywood star Tom Cruise and director Bryan Singer came to Moscow to promote their brand new movie 'Valkyrie'. Tom attended the press conference and answered the questions of journalists. It’s interesting to mention that the questions about his family and religion were strictly forbidden.

Valkyrie is a historical thriller film set in Nazi Germany during World War II that depicts the July 20, 1944 plot by German army officers to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Tom Cruise appears as Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, one of the key plotters.


All you ever wanted to know about GERMANY!

Deutsche Kultur