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Germany Saved Workers From Pandemic Unemployment — With Great Success At Low Cost

Reprinted with permission from ProPublica.

The global coronavirus pandemic threw Petra Hamann's job into peril faster than just about any other. She is a physical therapist, a profession that is all about close proximity to others, with a clientele that leans toward older people, exactly the population most vulnerable to the virus. In March, she and the rest of the 10-person therapy group that employed her lost virtually all of their clients, first as a result of clients' fears about coming in for appointments, then as a result of government stay-at-home orders.

But neither Hamann nor anyone else in her group lost their job. Instead, they were kept on and, even while having zero clients, received 60 percent of their normal pay. As about half her clients gradually started to return in recent weeks, she began making 80 percent of her usual pay (including compensation for the clients who had not come back). And she was able to do so without having to negotiate any paperwork or online bureaucracy; she and her co-workers simply signed a form from their employer.

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Danziger: Death’s Head

In Germany, the murder of conservative politician Walter Lübcke by a neo-Nazi is an ominous sign of the state’s failure to control violent extremism.

Watch Ivanka Trump’s Mortifying Moment During Merkel’s Speech In Munich

The Munich Security Conference on Saturday drew a lot of attention as Vice President Mike Pence’s fiery calls for Europe to stand with President Donald Trump was awkwardly met with zero applause whatsoever.

But another moment that was awkward for the president came when German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivered a scorching condemnation of the U.S. trade war and Trump’s daughter Ivanka, sitting in the crowd, could only look on in stone-cold silence as the leader of one of America’s major allies ripped her father’s economic policy to pieces.

“Apparently, the American secretary of trade says German cars are a threat to America’s national security,” said Merkel. “We’re proud of our automotive industry, and, I think we can be, we’re proud of our cars. They are built in the United States of America. South Carolina is one of the largest  it’s actually the largest BMW plant. Not in Bavaria. South Carolina is supplying China.”

“So when these cars that, because they’re built in South Carolina, are not becoming less threatening, rather than the ones that are built in Bavaria, are supposed to be a threat to the national security of America, it’s a bit of a shock to us,” said Merkel, to thunderous applause  and silence from First Daughter Ivanka.

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Germany Says U.S. Under Trump Must Abide By Trade Deals

BERLIN (Reuters) – Washington must stick to international agreements under the presidency of Donald Trump, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on Friday, but does not expect a major trade war despite the President-elect’s attack on German car makers.

Trump – now hours away from his inauguration – has vowed to make sweeping changes to U.S. trade policy, and economists see his protectionism as the biggest risk to U.S. growth.

“The United States also signed international agreements,” Schaeuble told magazine Der Spiegel.

“I don’t think a big trade war will break out tomorrow, but we will naturally insist that agreements are upheld,” he said.

Trump criticized German auto makers this week for failing to produce more cars in the U.S. and warned that he would impose a tax of 35 percent on vehicle imports.

U.S. companies employ more than 600,000 people in Germany, the United States’ biggest European trading partner, and German firms employ roughly the same number in the U.S.

Schaeuble said he wished Trump luck if he wanted to tell Americans which cars to buy. “That’s not my vision of America and I don’t think it’s his either,” he said.

He also recommended not taking Trump’s practice of tweeting policy changes too seriously.

“One shouldn’t confuse Trump’s form of communication with statements of government policy. We will not participate in that,” he said.

Trump has triggered concern across German industry.

“Protectionism will not secure jobs in the medium- to long-term,” Dennis Snower, president of the Institute of World Economy, said in a statement.

“Trump is making foreigners the scapegoat for the fact that the American dream of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps isn’t working anymore.”

Marcel Fratzscher, head of the DIW economic institute, said Trump’s protectionism would not bring any jobs back to the U.S.

“On the contrary, he will destroy even more jobs,” he told German broadcaster MDR.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Germany also urged Trump to stick to free trade agreements, underscoring the importance of U.S.-German trade relations.

“Protectionist measures like tariffs and or the cancellation of international trade agreements have no place in a globalized world,” said the group’s president, Bernhard Mattes.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Louise Ireland)

IMAGE: German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a news conference following talks with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke