Sex, Drugs and Crime in the Gritty Drama ‘Babylon Berlin’

The New York Times, Nov. 7, 2017

BERLIN — It’s the spring of 1929, and this city is a fast-moving modern metropolis where artistic and sexual experimentation flourishes against a backdrop of organized crime, political street battles and a fragile democratic order.

Welcome to the world of “Babylon Berlin.”

This new epic crime drama, set during the Weimar Republic, the chaotic 15-year era that preceded the Third Reich, is widely predicted to become an international television sensation. Reportedly the most expensive German-language TV show ever produced, “Babylon Berlin” aims to build on the success of other recent German hits, like “Deutschland ’83” and “The Same Sky.”

This ambitious 16-part, two-season show has already been sold to 60 TV markets. It had its British premiere on Sunday night on Sky Atlantic and will begin streaming on Netflix in the United States on Jan. 30.

Based on the best-selling novels by Volker Kutscher, the show centers on Gereon Rath, a police detective from Cologne played by Volker Bruch, who arrives in the unfamiliar capital to investigate a blackmail plot involving a sadomasochistic porn film.

To read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/07/arts/television/sex-drugs-and-crime-in-the-gritty-drama-babylon-berlin.html

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Merkel’s win heralds uncertain time

EUobserver, September 25, 2017

Angela Merkel’s election on Sunday (24 September) for a fourth term might open her most difficult period yet as chancellor, while limiting her room for manoeuver in talks on EU reform.

She will have to muster all her powers of diplomacy to keep a fractious multi-party coalition in line, whilst facing sniping from a eurosceptic right-wing populist faction in parliament, as well as jockeying within her party by those vying to replace her.

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German election: More of the same for EU?

EUobserver, September 23, 2017

The German election campaign has been – without doubt – a dull, lacklustre affair. In fact, for months, it has felt like a long set-up for a foregone conclusion in Sunday’s (24 September) vote: A fourth term for Angela Merkel.

The chancellor’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) along with their Bavarian allies, the Christian Social Union (CSU), are striding towards victory, polling at around 36 percent – a significant stretch ahead of their coalition partners and main rivals, the Social Democrats (SPD), who are currently on less than 23 percent.

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Martin Schulz, down but not out against Merkel

EUobserver, May 16, 2017

“I’m no magician,” admitted a visibly deflated Martin Schulz on Sunday night (14 May) after it became clear that his centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) had suffered what he called a “crushing defeat” in their traditional heartland and his own home state, North Rhine-Westphalia.

By Monday, he and SPD were back in fighting form, saying the federal campaign was only just beginning.

To read more: https://euobserver.com/elections/137924

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Macron victory fires up German campaign

Next week, Angela Merkel will welcome the fourth French president of her chancellorship to Berlin.

In Emmanuel Macron, she will meet the man who staved off the far-right threat and possibly saved the European Union from breaking apart, but also a man whose ambitious ideas for shaking up the eurozone are anathema to many in Germany, particularly in her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party.

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In a multiparty landscape, Schulz searches for paths to power

EUobserver, April 15, 2017

The initial hype surrounding Martin Schulz has faded somewhat since his surprise appointment as the new leader of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) back in January.

Yet, in Germany’s increasingly multiparty political landscape, the former European Parliament president is still in with a shot of unseating the current chancellor, Angela Merkel, in September’s elections.

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Merkel’s Enemies Line Up

The populist AfD was first to attack Chancellor Merkel after a truck smashed into a crowded Berlin Christmas Market on Monday night. The act of terrorism will increase pressure on her as she heads into an election year.

It was the attack that Germany had been bracing itself for.

And it could have far-reaching political implications, particularly for Chancellor Angela Merkel, already fighting off a challenge from right-wing populists.

On Monday night, shortly after 8 p.m., a truck smashed into a crowded Christmas market in the heart of West Berlin, killing 12 people and injuring dozens more.

While the authorities were initially extremely careful not to jump to conclusions about the circumstances leading to the awful carnage, by Tuesday the Berlin police said that they were dealing with a “presumed terror attack,” stating that their investigators were working on the assumption that the truck was intentionally driven into the crowd.

If that is confirmed, it would be the first time that a terror attack has been carried out in the German capital, and on a symbolic and also relatively soft target: the traditional Christmas market, where locals and tourists gather to drink mulled wine amid glittering fairy lights.

The anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany was quick to single out who they blamed. Immediately after news of the incident emerged on Monday night, Marcus Pretzell, a member of the European Parliament for the party and partner of AfD leader Frauke Petry, tweeted: “When will the German rule of law strike back? When will this cursed hypocrisy end? These are Merkel’s dead!”

The deputy leader of the Social Democrats, Ralf Stegner, called the comment “unbelievable and disgusting!”

“Instead of respect for the victims, again disgusting political exploitation of this tragedy by the AfD and other right-wing agitators,” he tweeted.

Yet, for all the outrage heaped on the AfD, there is little doubt that the party is likely to profit from an attack in the heart of the German capital.

To read more: https://global.handelsblatt.com/politics/merkels-enemies-line-up-664868

 

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