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Aug 22, 2017, 07:02 AM
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 on: Aug 18, 2017, 04:34 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
How Norway is selling out-of-date food to help tackle waste

Supermarkets selling out-of-date produce and apps that identify food at risk of being binned are part of an ambitious plan to slash the nation’s food waste

Daniel Boffey in Oslo

“They might not taste quite the same,” says Naeeh Ahmed, 37, holding up for inspection a pack of Old El Paso soft tacos. The tower of boxes in front of him are three weeks past their best before date but Ahmed, operations manager at the Best Før supermarket in Oslo, says they’ll stay on display for a good few weeks yet. The same goes for the chocolate biscuits precariously piled up in the display – four weeks past their best before date – and the packs of Tassimo coffee pods that should have been sold in April. But all the prices reflect the product’s age: half-price for the tacos, two-thirds off the biscuits and, at 30 kroner (£3.66) for 32 pods, the coffee is also less than half its regular price.

It would be hard to find cheaper food in Oslo than that sold at Best Før. They flog the stuff that no one else has been able to get rid off. Products whose season has passed, or which have been overproduced, have been arriving at this small store since October last year when the mainstream Lentusgruppen supermarket chain heeded the call of the Norwegian government and decided to take food waste seriously. They established an offshoot in Oslo, the first of its kind in the city, selling the stuff other stores and suppliers throw away. It’s all up front – the shop looks like any other, but a large sign informs customers of the slightly different nature of the food down their aisles and in the chillers, which includes chicken fillets frozen a couple of days before going off.

“Most supermarkets won’t buy products that are within 10 days or so of their expiry date – it often has to be wasted,” Ahmed explains. “We thought, ‘Why don’t we make a place that has that kind of product, that will be beneficial to every party: the consumer, the supplier, and us. A win-win for everybody,” he says.

“Some who believe in the cause are very positive but, any new concept takes a little time in the market. It is going well though … every person in Norway knows these days that now is the time to do something before it is too late.” One customer, asked why he is shopping in this store, puts it succinctly: “I’m hungry.”

Best Før is the latest concept that has taken root in Norway, where collaboration between industry and the government to tackle food waste has sparked a range of innovations designed to make the most of what the country produces. A platform called bestfø, helps supermarkets identify food at risk of becoming inedible through a digital record of products’ sell-by dates, allowing stores to locate the food that needs a lower price, or alert charities of a load of produce coming their way, without the fuss of searching through the shelves. A new app, foodlist, encourages people to take photographs of food in stores coming to the end of its shelf life, to alert people that it needs to be eaten and where it can be found. A company called SNÅL frukt & grøn has popped up selling wonky vegetables, or odd coloured eggs, with a 30% discount. And the Norwegian government says they want more of this, and quickly.

It was 2010 when the food industry in Norway first started to take the issue seriously, with the encouragement of the state. A country dedicated to tackling climate change was waking up to the fact that its food waste corresponded to emitting 978,000 tonnes of CO2, or about one-quarter of the emissions from Norway’s cars. Industry started to collect statistics on waste through the food chain, from field or factory to the kitchen bin. Labels on products were adapted. “Use by” was changed to “best before”. Smaller packs of food were sold. Consumers were educated by people in stores about the best way to keep food fresh, and the costs of waste to their household budgets.

By 2015, edible food waste had been reduced by 12% per person, having risen for the previous five years. But a target of reducing waste 25% by the end of 2015 had not been met. Waste in the country still amounted to 355,000 tonnes a year, 42.1kg of food per person. Norwegians were still throwing away over 11% of fruit and vegetables and about 4% of solid dairy products.

In 2015 the UN agreed on reducing per capita food waste by half by 2030, and the Norwegians decided to go further. “Our goals are more ambitious than the UN because we are going to reduce food waste by half, all the way down the value chain,” said Norwegian minister for climate and the environment, Vidar Helgesen, of an agreement struck this summer with the food industry.

“We discussed a ban on food waste but it was decided legislation wasn’t enough,” he added. “It could lead to the problem being pushed down the value chain. We are collaborating with all the actors in the food industry and we are encouraging people to smell and taste their food before throwing it away. We are setting targets and how the industry gets there is up to them. We are unleashing innovation.”

The government is insisting that businesses and consumers reduce their waste by 15% by 2020 compared with 2015 levels, and secure a 30% reduction by 2025 to achieve the 50% goal by 2030. Some of what will happen in the coming years, Helgesen says, involves a compromise. “Packaging is important and that leaves us with a dilemma because we want to reduce the use of plastic. A lot of it is about just being sensible.” Helgesen believes people in Norway want to get this right.

Back in the Best Før store, Ahmed agrees with the minister that more traders are getting in on the act. There are a couple of similar stores just outside Oslo, he says. He is proud that Norway is pushing the issue. “We are environmentally friendly people,” Ahmed said, before explaining the idea of a website he is working on with a developer in his spare time. Called Savefood, it would allow individual households to advertise produce that needs to be eaten – almost like eBay.

“Somebody has to be first,” Ahmed adds, “and it is good if we are the one’s leading the way.”

 on: Aug 18, 2017, 04:28 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
‘Snowball Earth’ helps explain the origin of complex life

by Chuck Bednar
Red Orbit

Biological life made the leap from simple, one-celled microbes to complex multi-cellular plants and animals following a period of glaciation that began around 700 million years ago, geologists from the Australian National University reported online Wednesday in the journal Nature.

Scientists have long searched for the potential catalyst in the evolution of complex life, and now, lead author Jochen J. Brocks and his colleagues have discovered that the same conditions that led to the phenomenon known as “snowball Earth” may have also led to multi-cellular organisms.
Approximately 700 million years ago, the Earth was almost entirely covered in snow following an event known as the Sturtian glaciation, Ars Technica explained. That period lasted around 50 million years and was followed by an intense period of heating that lasted for around 15 million years before giving way to another period of glaciation.

It was during the 15 million year period between ice ages that Brocks and his colleagues believe that multi-cellular life began to emerge, as dust from huge mountain ranges that were pulverized during the Sturtian glaciation found its way into newly formed oceans, providing nutrients which allowed blue algae to thrive and essentially kick-starting the evolutionary process.

Those nutrients, along with the period of global cooling that followed, provided ideal conditions for the algae to thrive, Brocks explained in a statement. As the algae spread, it marked the end of the dominance of ocean-based bacteria and the start of the transition to more complex life.
How the glaciation causes changes that led to multi-cellular organisms

The study authors based their claims on an analysis of ancient sedimentary rocks that they found in central Australia and pulverized into a powder, which enabled them to extract the molecules of ancient organisms. Their analysis revealed the significant effect that “Snowball Earth” had on the ecosystem, suggesting that it served as a catalyst for the rise of multi-cellular organisms.

“These large and nutritious organisms at the base of the food web provided the burst of energy required for the evolution of complex ecosystems,” Brocks explained in a press release, “where increasingly large and complex animals, including humans, could thrive on Earth.”

He and his colleagues identified traces left behind by cell membranes in those rocks, noted Ars Technica. Specifically, they found that chemical changes in these biomarkers revealed the rapid increase of larger organisms in the post-Snowball Earth oceans – including eukaryotes that had developed a nucleus. That is a key development in the rise of multi-cellular life, they said.

Of course, such organisms could not develop without changes to the ecosystem after the end of the Sturtian glaciation, and those molecular changes came about as a result of the nutrients that made their way into the water thanks to rocks from mountains which eroded during the ice age. Those nutrients would have plummeted to the bottom of the sea, which resulted in a release of oxygen into the atmosphere and set off a chain of events that led to the rise of complex life.

“The rise of oxygen...very likely led to the rise of phosphorous in the water, which is a key building block in DNA, and the energy-rich molecule ATP that provides fuel for our bodies,” said Ars Technica. This led to the proliferation of algae, then to the evolution of lifeforms that used said algae for food. Those changes persisted even after the Minoan glaciation once again covered the world in ice, and when the climate eventually stabilized, it facilitated the evolution of animals with heads and internal organs, the website explained.

 on: Aug 18, 2017, 04:26 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Here’s why NASA is launching bacteria into the eclipse on balloons

by Chuck Bednar
Red Orbit

As you may have heard, there’s a little thing called the Great American Solar Eclipse coming up next week , and while most people are excited because it will be the first total solar eclipse to be visible across the entire contiguous US in nearly a century, NASA plans to seize the opportunity to do a little bit of science using giant hot-air balloons during the event.

Yes, while all of us will be gleefully donning out eclipse glasses to watch this rare phenomenon, the boffins at the American space agency plan to use the occasion to conduct several experiments by launching balloons from multiple locations as part of their Eclipse Ballooning Project.

According to Gizmodo, NASA plans to send up a fleet of around 75 balloons, each of which will launch from different locations along the path of the eclipse. At least 30 of those balloons will be carrying samples of  Paenibacillus xerothermodurans, an extremely resilient strain of bacteria, to altitudes of more than 80,000 feet to mimic the conditions on the surface of Mars.

The plan is to observe how the microbe might behave on the Red Planet, just in case the bacteria should accidentally hitch a ride there as part of a future mission, Angela Des Jardins, Director of the Montana Space Grant Consortium (MSGC) and leader of the project, told the website.

“While most of these tiny forms of life that exists in abundance around us won’t survive the trip through space, it’s understood that some resilient types could ‘go dormant’ on the trip and then survive on the surface of the other planet. Therefore, in order to be prepared to keep planets we visit absolutely pristine, it’s important to understand how bacteria might behave there,” she said.
Agency to test microbe survivability while conducting eclipse research

The Eclipse Ballooning Project, which Astrobiology Magazine noted is a citizen science project involving 55 teams, also plans to capture the first ever images and video of an eclipse from near space by attaching camera equipment to the balloons and live-streaming the footage online.

The goal is to send these balloons into the stratosphere, to an altitude of approximately 100,000 feet (30,000 meters), where they will also gather data on how the planet’s atmosphere responds to the solar eclipse and conduct observations of the Sun’s corona, which is normally obscured.

As for the bacteria experiment, it involves equipping the balloons with sensors and a lightweight, thin “coupon” made of aluminum that contains spores of the P. xerothermodurans, NASA said. Once they are lifted into the stratosphere, those samples will be exposed to low-wavelength UV radiation and extremely cold and dry conditions similar to those found on Mars.

“This bacterial strain is harmless to the environment and to humans. Nothing hazardous is going to be hovering over our heads,” assured NASA microbiologist David J. Smith. Once the balloons land, scientists will check to see how many bacteria survived the voyage. Smith, who said that he is “consistently surprised by the resilience of life,” said that he believes that at least some of the microbes will be able to withstand the harsh environment.

We may have to wait a while to find out, however. Although Jardins said that NASA officials “anticipate having high-quality video and images back from the balloons flights within a day or two,” analysis of both the bacteria experiment and the atmospheric response data will take time, meaning that it will likely be “a month or two” before the results are ready.

 on: Aug 18, 2017, 04:25 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Scientists discover how magic mushrooms make psilocybin

17 Aug 2017 at 18:44 ET 

Scientists have long wondered how and why magic mushrooms create psilocybin, a psychoactive chemical that causes hallucinations when ingested. Two new papers published this month provide some answers, one of which paves the way for an easier way to create the psychedelic compound.

Around 200 types of mushrooms produce psilocybin, and they’ve been used ceremonially for millennia. Since trip-inducing fungi were introduced to Western audiences by financier and author Gordon Wasson in a Life magazine article in 1957, people have been using them for recreational purposes throughout the world. Albert Hofmann, the Swiss chemist who synthesized LSD, identified psilocybin as the active ingredient in magic mushrooms and determined its structure in 1959. At that time, he also figured out how to synthesize it using biochemistry.

However, nobody knew—until now—how mushrooms themselves make psilocybin. In a study published in the journal Angewandte Chemie, Dirk Hoffmeister and colleagues sequenced and mapped the genes in the “magic” mushroom Psilocybe cubensis. Scientists have known for a while that these genes produce several enzymes that combine to create psilocybin, but nobody knew the sequence and order of this seemingly mystical process. Through a series of trial-and-error type tests, Hoffmeister and colleagues figured out the correct order. “There was some Wow! in the air” when the team finally figured it out,” says Hoffmeister, with the University of Jena in Germany.

One of the most surprising findings is the simplicity of the process, says David Sherman, a medicinal chemist at the University of Michigan who wasn’t involved in the paper. In only five steps, the mushroom’s enzymes convert tryptophan, a widely occurring amino acid (a building block of protein) into psilocybin.

The paper could pave the way for people without advanced knowledge to produce psilocybin on their own, using commercially available synthetic biology kits, Sherman says.

Hoffmeister says the finding could theoretically make the mass-production of psilocybin easier and less expensive, though he expects “it will take quite some effort until we make headway.” He also notes that this scientific study was done for the purpose of better understanding nature’s “elegant” way of making psilocybin, and is not intended as “a ‘drug endorsement’ or "get-high-quick" kind of thing.” Using naturally occurring enzymes would avoid the expensive and difficult biochemical tools currently required to make the compound.

In another study published this month in the online journal bioRXiv, though not yet peer-reviewed, researchers sequenced genomes from three different mushroom species and found the cluster of psilocybin-producing genes in each. The way the small cluster apparently traveled between species, without alteration, suggests that it was passed through a peculiar process called horizontal gene transfer. In this process, a gene can literally move between different species by physical contact, Sherman explains. This transfer could have happened when, for example, a spore of a psilocybin-producing mushroom physically landed on top of another mushrooms species, and was incorporated into its genome, Sherman says. Because the gene cluster is so small, it can be absorbed and then passed on.

Sherman says horizontal gene transfer of psilocybin-producing genetic bits still happens and will likely enable more mushrooms to produce this psychedelic compound.

Its wide distribution in unrelated species and endurance over time suggests that the psilocybin gene may give mushrooms a survival advantage, says Jason Slot, an assistant Professor at the Ohio State University and study lead author. Other research shows that psilocybin confuses predators by mimicking the neurotransmitter serotonin, and that its effects in humans is an coincidental byproduct of this ability.

Sherman marveled at how simple it is for mushrooms to make psilocybin, especially considering many useful compounds like antibiotics—derived from fungi and bacteria—take more than 50 steps. “Mother nature makes it quite elegantly,” Hoffmeister says.

 on: Aug 17, 2017, 11:49 AM 
Started by Cantewasake - Last post by Cantewasake
Hola Gonzalo,

Sip, es decir, todos los signos están entre dos casas , algunas exactamente partidas por mitad en el signo y otras menor diferencia, está por metodo Placidus. Esto está mal entonces?

hay algún software o programa online que me recomiendes para sacar las cartas?

Y , quería preguntarte, sobre la interpretación de Astrología Vedica, Tiene mucha validez interpretativa? Porque, me he visto cartas, que por la forma occidental da unos datos y en la védica cambia mucho la información, desde la posición de los nodos o planetas por signo y casa. 
En esos casos qué sucede?

Ojalá que se de algún curso-taller online pronto, estaría muy contenta de tomarlo.

Gracias por responder , Gonzalo.
Saludos y bendiciones!

 on: Aug 17, 2017, 08:07 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Donald Trump's ex-wife once said Trump kept a book of Hitler's speeches by his bed

Business Insider Duetschland

According to a 1990 Vanity Fair interview, Ivana Trump once told her lawyer Michael Kennedy that her husband, real-estate mogul Donald Trump, now a leading Republican presidential candidate, kept a book of Hitler's speeches near his bed.

"Last April, perhaps in a surge of Czech nationalism, Ivana Trump told her lawyer Michael Kennedy that from time to time her husband reads a book of Hitler's collected speeches, My New Order, which he keeps in a cabinet by his bed ... Hitler's speeches, from his earliest days up through the Phony War of 1939, reveal his extraordinary ability as a master propagandist," Marie Brenner wrote.

Hitler was one of history's most prolific orators, building a genocidal Nazi regime with speeches that bewitched audiences.

"He learned how to become a charismatic speaker, and people, for whatever reason, became enamored with him," Professor Bruce Loebs, who has taught a class called the Rhetoric of Hitler and Churchill for the past 46 years at Idaho State University, told Business Insider earlier this year.

"People were most willing to follow him, because he seemed to have the right answers in a time of enormous economic upheaval."

When Brenner asked Trump about how he came to possess Hitler's speeches, "Trump hesitated" and then said, "Who told you that?"

"I don't remember," Brenner reportedly replied.

Trump then recalled, "Actually, it was my friend Marty Davis from Paramount who gave me a copy of 'Mein Kampf,' and he's a Jew."

Brenner added that Davis did acknowledge that he gave Trump a book about Hitler.

"But it was 'My New Order,' Hitler's speeches, not 'Mein Kampf,'" Davis reportedly said. "I thought he would find it interesting. I am his friend, but I'm not Jewish."

After Trump and Brenner changed topics, Trump returned to the subject and reportedly said, "If, I had these speeches, and I am not saying that I do, I would never read them."

In the Vanity Fair article, Ivana Trump told a friend that her husband's cousin, John Walter "clicks his heels and says, 'Heil Hitler," when visiting Trump's office.

 on: Aug 17, 2017, 06:55 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Longtime Trump business partner ‘told family he knows he and POTUS are going to prison’: report

David Edwards
Raw Story
17 Aug 2017 at 08:31 ET                   

Felix Sater, one of Donald Trump’s shadiest former business partners, is reportedly preparing for prison time — and he says the president will be joining him behind bars.

Sources told The Spectator‘s Paul Wood that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s deep dive into Trump’s business practices may be yielding results.

Trump recently made remarks that could point point to a money laundering scheme, Wood reported.

“I mean, it’s possible there’s a condo or something, so, you know, I sell a lot of condo units, and somebody from Russia buys a condo, who knows?” the president said.

Sater, who has a long history of legal troubles and cooperating with law enforcement, was one of the major players responsible to for selling Trump’s condos to the Russians.

And according to Wood’s sources, Sater may have already flipped and given prosecutors the evidence they need to make a case against Trump.

    For several weeks there have been rumours that Sater is ready to rat again, agreeing to help Mueller. ‘He has told family and friends he knows he and POTUS are going to prison,’ someone talking to Mueller’s investigators informed me.

Sater hinted in an interview earlier this month that he may cooperating with both Mueller’s investigation and congressional probes of Trump.

“In about the next 30 to 35 days, I will be the most colourful character you have ever talked about,” Sater told New York Magazine. “Unfortunately, I can’t talk about it now, before it happens. And believe me, it ain’t anything as small as whether or not they’re gonna call me to the Senate committee.”

Sater is not the only one rumored confidante to have turned against Trump. An attack on former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort by the National Enquirer — a friendly outlet for the president — suggests that he may have already turned over damaging evidence to authorities.

 on: Aug 17, 2017, 06:41 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja

‘Nazis must be confronted’: World leaders accuse Trump of ‘glossing over’ racist violence

By Amy B Wang
August 17 2017
Wa Post

President Trump's off-the-rails Tuesday news conference — in which he once again blamed “both sides” in Charlottesville, effectively undoing his earlier conciliatory remarks — earned him another wave of backlash from world leaders Wednesday.

British Prime Minister Theresa May didn't call Trump out by name but said in a statement Wednesday there was “no equivalence” between the two sides.

Chaos erupted in Charlottesville over the weekend after white supremacist groups that had gathered for a “Unite the Right” rally clashed with counterprotesters. After the planned rally was canceled, a car plowed into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing one person and injuring 19 others. Police later arrested 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr. of Ohio, who was identified by a former teacher as being a longtime Nazi sympathizer.

“I see no equivalence between those who propound fascist views and those who oppose them,” May said. “I think it is important for all those in positions of responsibility to condemn far right views wherever we hear them.”

Trump's remarks renewed calls by some British leaders and activists for his state visit to the country to be canceled, according to the Guardian.

    #Breaking Prime Minister Theresa May comments on Donald Trump's Charlottesville remarks - says "far right views" should be condemned

    — Press Association (@PA) August 16, 2017

Similarly, the European Commission mentioned neither Trump nor Charlottesville but, in a tweet Wednesday morning, reiterated the European Union's founding principles: liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamentals, and the rule of law.

“We reject and condemn all forms and manifestations of racism and xenophobia,” the commission stated. “They are incompatible with the values and principles upon which the E.U. is founded.”

    The EU is founded on the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights & fundamental freedoms, & the rule of law #ThisIsTheEU

    — European Commission (@EU_Commission) August 16, 2017

Others were more explicit in their criticism of Trump. Germany Justice Minister Heiko Maas blasted Trump's Tuesday news conference as one that sugarcoated the racist violence from the weekend.

“It is unbearable how Trump is now glossing over the violence of the right-wing hordes from Charlottesville,” Maas said in a statement, according to Reuters. “No one should trivialize anti-Semitism and racism by neo-Nazis.”

    Trumps verhamlosende Reaktion auf #Charlottesville ist unerträglich. Das war Antisemitsmus u Rassismus, Da gibt es nichts zu relativieren.

    — Heiko Maas (@HeikoMaas) August 16, 2017

Martin Schulz, leader of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (of which Maas is also a member), didn't mince words.

“Nazis must be confronted decisively,” Schulz said. “What Trump is doing is highly incendiary. Those who downplay violence and hate betray the values of the West!”

    Nazis muss man entschieden entgegentreten. Was Trump macht ist brandgefährlich. Wer Gewalt & Hass verharmlost, verrät die Werte des Westens!

    — Martin Schulz (@MartinSchulz) August 16, 2017

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei implied in a tweet that the Charlottesville violence was evidence the United States needed to get its own house in order before intervening in other countries' affairs.

    If US has any power,they better manage their country,tackle #WhiteSupremacy rather than meddle in nations’ affairs. #Charlottesville

    — (@khamenei_ir) August 16, 2017

Trump’s initial public remarks on the violence in Charlottesville were criticized by many, including members of his own political party, for being insufficient and vague. On Monday, the president specifically called out “the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups” in unscheduled remarks at the White House, though some criticized Trump's comments as too little, too late.

However, on Tuesday, Trump seemed to revert to his original sentiments in a terse exchange with reporters at what was supposed to be a news conference about infrastructure:

    Reporter: Mr. President, are you putting what you’re calling the alt-left and white supremacists on the same moral plane?

    TRUMP: I’m not putting anybody on a moral plane. What I’m saying is this: You had a group on one side and you had a group on the other, and they came at each other with clubs — and it was vicious and it was horrible. And it was a horrible thing to watch. But there is another side. There was a group on this side. You can call them the left — you just called them the left — that came violently attacking the other group. So you can say what you want, but that’s the way it is.

    TRUMP: Yes, I think there’s blame on both sides. If you look at both sides — I think there’s blame on both sides. And I have no doubt about it, and you don’t have any doubt about it, either. And if you reported it accurately, you would say.

    Reporter: The neo-Nazis started this. They showed up in Charlottesville to protest —

    TRUMP: Excuse me, excuse me. They didn’t put themselves — and you had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides. You had people in that group.

Politicians in the United States have reacted with varying degrees of outrage to Trump's shifting remarks on Charlottesville. Trump's unscripted speech reportedly caught senior White House aides by surprise.


‘We have drawn a different lesson from history’: How the world is reacting to violence in Charlottesville

By Isaac Stanley-Becker and James McAuley
August 17 2017
Wa Post

BERLIN — Much of the world looked on in horror and puzzlement as a demonstration by torch-wielding white nationalists in an American college town ended in violence and the arraignment of a 20-year-old man on charges of second-degree murder.

James Alex Fields Jr. is accused of ramming a car into a crowd of counterprotesters, leaving one dead and 19 injured. That the suspect was a Nazi sympathizer, according to a former teacher, made the weekend’s events particularly wrenching in Germany, a nation still seared by the darkest chapters of its past.

Steffen Seibert, a spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said Monday that the violence that unfolded in Charlottesville was “sickening.” He described the symbols and slogans employed in “the right-wing extremist march” — including swastikas and chants of “Blood and soil,” a Nazi-era motto — as “diametrically opposed to the political goals of the chancellor and the entire German government.”

Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, said in a tweet, “We know Canada isn’t immune to racist violence & hate.”

Nigel Farage, a former leader of the anti-immigrant U.K. Independence Party, observed on Twitter: “Cannot believe we're seeing Nazi salutes in 21st century America.”

In countries such as Germany and France that have adopted strict codes policing hateful speech, there were also questions about why people carrying guns were allowed to assemble and propagate a message targeting racial and religious minorities.

“Most people in Germany have difficulty understanding that gatherings like in Charlottesville are possible in the U.S., because we have drawn a different lesson from history,” said Matthias Jahn, chairman of criminal law at Goethe University in Frankfurt. “Our German law centers on the strong belief that you should hinder this kind of speech in a society committed to principles of democratic coexistence and peace.”

That sense of shock was reflected in the media coverage, much of which focused blame on the Trump administration.

“President fails to blame white supremacists,” observed the British newspaper the Guardian. Trump on Monday ultimately condemned neo-Nazis and other groups, saying, “Racism is evil.”

A front-page headline in the French daily Libération blared, “The White House,” suggesting that the center of racial animus was the executive branch of the American government.

Chinese state media seldom misses a chance to train a harsh spotlight on American society and governance, and the China Daily newspaper opined of unrest in Virginia, “Sickness in U.S. society will not be easy to cure.” Russia’s state-run RIA Novosti news agency attributed the violence not to racism but to the growing gap between rich and poor, and blamed “the American political and media elites” for stoking the violence.

In a mostly isolated show of solidarity with white-supremacist factions in Charlottesville, Greece’s far-right group Golden Dawn praised the rally as a “dynamic demonstration against illegal immigration” by “American patriots.”

While Jewish leaders in the United States expressed shock at the events in Charlottesville and criticized President Trump’s response to the violence as halfhearted, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a close ally of Trump’s, remained notably silent. Meanwhile, Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, warned in a statement, “The anti-Jewish ideology of the Nazis was a precursor to the eventual murderous policy and extermination of six million Jews.”

Even in denouncing the message of neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members, free-speech advocates such as the American Civil Liberties Union defended groups’ right to stage the Unite the Right rally, at the site of a Confederate statue scheduled for removal.

“Even as we protect free speech and assembly, we must condemn hatred, violence and white supremacy,” tweeted former president Bill Clinton.

For some Western democracies, the tension is not as acute.

Germany curtails speech in an effort to keep Nazi ideology at bay. The German constitution, approved after World War II, codifies individual rights such as equality before the law and freedom of speech, but postwar changes to the penal code prohibit a range of expression linked to the Third Reich.

The statute that would have criminalized the far-right demonstration in Charlottesville, said Jahn, the criminal-law professor, is a prohibition on assembly that “disturbs the public peace in a manner that violates the dignity of the victims” by venerating Nazi rule. German hate-crime law, he said, was recently strengthened by a 2015 amendment requiring courts to consider racial motives as an aggravating circumstance.

Despite these statutes, crime motivated by right-wing ideology has surged in Germany, according to a report issued this year by the Interior Ministry.

Hajo Funke, a political scientist at the Free University of Berlin, said right-wing extremism crested last year — after months of anger over a seemingly limitless flow of asylum seekers into Germany — and has begun to abate in 2017.

“One factor is Trump, and people looking at the U.S. and saying, ‘This is not the right way,’ ” Funke said. “The other factor is that the euro crisis and the refu­gee crisis are to a degree under control.”

Like Germany, France criminalizes certain types of speech, largely in an effort to combat Holocaust denial.

The 1990 Gayssot Act limits an individual’s ability to question the size, scope or nature of “crimes against humanity.” While critics allege that the parameters of the legislation are too broad, — it also prohibits “any discrimination founded on membership or non-membership of an ethnic group, a nation, a race or a religion” — the measure has led to several high-profile convictions.

At the same time, French law has hardly done away with hate speech.

In 2013, in what would become one of the most high-profile cases in recent years, the Franco-Cameroonian comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala began encouraging a gesture that resembled a Nazi salute. Despite innumerable convictions and fines, he has continued with versions of these routines.

Another case is that of Jean-Marie Le Pen, the 89-year-old co-founder of the far-right National Front. Since the late 1980s, the elder Le Pen has continually referred to the Nazi gas chambers as a “detail” of history. Under the Gayssot Act, Le Pen also has been convicted and fined on numerous occasions — but he has continued to repeat his remark. As recently as March, he told The Washington Post that he still did not regret the comment.

McAuley reported from Paris. Luisa Beck in Berlin, William Booth in London, Simon Denyer in Beijing, David Filipov in Moscow, Loveday Morris in Jerusalem and Brian Murphy in Washington contributed to this report.

 on: Aug 17, 2017, 06:11 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja

Ex-CIA Head Says Trump’s Response To Charlottesville Has Done ‘Lasting Harm To American Society’

By Sean Colarossi on Wed, Aug 16th, 2017 at 8:33 pm

"If allowed to continue along this senseless path, Mr. Trump will do lasting harm to American society and to our standing in the world."

Responding to Donald Trump’s despicable response to the racially driven violence and hate in Charlottesville, Virginia, former CIA director John Brennan pulled no punches, saying the president is doing “lasting harm to American society.”

In a letter to CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer, Brennan said called Trumps’s recent comments defending white supremacists “ugly and dangerous.”

The full letter:

    Just watched your interview with Senator Blumenthal when you mentioned that you lost all four of your grandparents to the unspeakable evil of Nazism. I just want to extend my sympathies not only for their deaths but also to you and your family–and countless others–for the pain inflicted today by the despicable words of Donald Trump. Mr. Trump’s words, and the beliefs they reflect, are a national disgrace, and all Americans of conscience need to repudiate his ugly and dangerous comments. If allowed to continue along this senseless path, Mr. Trump will do lasting harm to American society and to our standing in the world. By his words and his actions, Mr. Trump is putting our national security and our collective futures at grave risk.

The fact that a former CIA leader – a figure who likely wouldn’t engage in political arguments with a sitting president – is calling out Trump speaks volumes about the line this president has crossed over the past week.

It’s not just Democrats and independents now breaking with this president over his support of white supremacists and Nazis, but Republicans, the intelligence community, and members of the military have also had enough.

As Jason Easley wrote a short time ago, outlining the growing number of military leaders speaking out against racism, “Never have military leaders so openly disagreed with views put forward by a president.”

This week hasn’t just been a dark stain on Donald Trump’s presidency but also on American democracy, and everybody with a shred of decency is quickly distancing themselves from it.


The Entire US Military Has Now Openly Broken With Trump And Denounced Racism

By Jason Easley on Wed, Aug 16th, 2017 at 6:40 pm

The men in charge of all the branches of the US military have denounced racism and broken with President Trump’s encouragement of racists.

Army Chief Gen. Mark Milley tweeted:

    The Army doesn't tolerate racism, extremism, or hatred in our ranks. It's against our Values and everything we've stood for since 1775.

    — GEN Mark A. Milley (@ArmyChiefStaff) August 16, 2017

Gen. Joseph Lengyel of the National Guard tweeted:

    I stand with my fellow Joint Chiefs in condemning racism, extremism & hatred. Our diversity is our strength. #NationalGuard

    — Gen. Joseph Lengyel (@ChiefNGB) August 16, 2017

The Chief of Staff of the Air Force tweeted:

    I stand with my fellow service chiefs in saying we're always stronger together-it's who we are as #Airmen

    — Gen. Dave Goldfein (@GenDaveGoldfein) August 16, 2017

Gen. Robert Neller of the Marine Corps tweeted:

    No place for racial hatred or extremism in @USMC. Our core values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment frame the way Marines live and act.

    — Robert B. Neller (@GenRobertNeller) August 15, 2017

Adm. John Richardson of the US Navy tweeted:

    Events in Charlottesville unacceptable & musnt be tolerated @USNavy forever stands against intolerance & hatred…

    — Adm. John Richardson (@CNORichardson) August 13, 2017

The Joint Chiefs have to protect their branches of the military while still respecting the chain of command, which is why none of them personally condemned Trump, but it was clear that all of them were concerned about Trump inspired racism infecting the military.

The statements by the military leaders were another example of institutions trying to save themselves from destruction at the hands of this president. Never have military leaders so openly disagreed with views put forward by a president.

Trump has weakened every other major aspect of the presidency, so it isn’t surprising that he has also diminished the presidential role of commander in chief.

Even the military is trying to protect itself from the vile toxicity of Donald J. Trump.


Trump Busted In Huge Lie As CEOs Forced Him To Shut Down Business Councils

By Jason Easley on Wed, Aug 16th, 2017 at 3:50 pm

It wasn’t Donald Trump who shut down the presidential councils, but CEOs who shut Trump after they decided in a conference call to collectively resign.

Trump tweeted:

    Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!

    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 16, 2017

However, The Wall Street Journal reported the real story, “One of the councils had planned to disband after a conference call of its executives on Wednesday morning, a person familiar with the matter said. Mr. Trump’s tweet came after reports that council was disbanding. Blackstone Group LP Chief Executive Stephen A. Schwarzman, who led the Strategic and Policy Forum, phoned the president on Wednesday to inform him the group was being disbanded, according to people familiar with the call.”

After the CEOs decided to disband the council, Trump put out his tweet in a pathetic effort to save face.

Trump’s capacity to lie is limitless, and as time passes, it is clear that Donald Trump lies to boost, protect, and service his own ego. Trump’s lies aren’t about becoming more popular, or a means to a political end. Donald Trump is lying because that is the only way he knows how to make himself look good.

Doing the work and being a good president would require time and effort. It is much for Trump to lie and feel good about himself.

Trump isn’t just failing at being president. He is also failing at being a human being.


German politicians accuse Trump of trivializing Nazi violence

By Reuters on Wed,
Aug 16th, 2017 at 10:48 am

Senior German politicians on Wednesday accused U.S. President Donald Trump of trivializing violence by white supremacists in Virginia and called for a clear rejection of their ideology.

BERLIN (Reuters) – Senior German politicians on Wednesday accused U.S. President Donald Trump of trivializing violence by white supremacists in Virginia and called for a clear rejection of their ideology.

Governments could only win the fight against hatred, racism and anti-Semitism by rejecting such ideology and the willingness to use violence, said Martin Schulz, the center-left candidate for chancellor, adding that this applies to Germany and the United States.

“The trivialization of Nazi violence by the confused utterances of Donald Trump is highly dangerous,” said Schulz, leader of the Social Democrats (SPD).

“We should not tolerate the monstrosities coming out of the president’s mouth,” he told the RND newspaper group in an interview.

Republican leaders criticized Trump for saying leftist counter-protesters were also to blame for violence last Saturday in Charlottesville that left one person dead and several injured. His comments won praise from white far-right groups.

Schulz is the main challenger to Chancellor Angela Merkel at a Sept. 24 election. The SPD, junior partner in Merkel’s grand coalition, trails Merkel’s conservatives in polls.

Schulz’s comments were echoed by Justice Minister Heiko Maas, another senior member of the SPD.

“It is unbearable how Trump is now glossing over the violence of the right-wing hordes from Charlottesville,” Maas said in a statement, reflecting concern across the German political spectrum about the Trump presidency.

“No one should trivialize anti-Semitism and racism by neo-Nazis,” said Maas, senior member of the co-governing SPD.

Schulz and Maas are the highest-ranking German politicians to criticize Trump’s rhetoric about the violence.

The country has tough laws against hate speech and any symbols linked to Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, who ruled from 1933 until their defeat in 1945.

Merkel told broadcaster Phoenix on Monday that clear and forceful action was required to combat right-wing extremism, noting that Germans had also seen a rise in anti-Semitism and had “quite a lot to do at home ourselves”.

Trump has come under increasing pressure over his stance on the violence, with many members of his own Republican party and U.S. business executives distancing themselves from him.

Trump on Tuesday said his original reaction was based on facts he had at the time and said both sides were to blame.

The violence erupted during a protest by white nationalists against plans to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee, commander of the pro-slavery Confederate army during the American Civil War.

Protesters and counter-protesters clashed in scattered street brawls before a car ploughed into the rally’s opponents, killing one woman and injuring 19 other people.

(Reporting by Michael Nienaber and Andrea Shalal; Editing by Andrew Bolton and Matthew Mpoke Bigg)


Q&A: What are Trump and the White House's links to the far right?

We break down how the White House, Breitbart News, Steve Bannon and Trump’s cabinet are all connected to recent events in Charlottesville

David Smith in Washington DC

Activists say so. A group of civil rights and faith leaders called on Donald Trump to directly disavow the white supremacists marching in Charlottesville on Saturday and fire White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, deputy assistant Sebastian Gorka and senior adviser Stephen Miller, whom they say “have stoked hate and division”.

Why is Bannon a key figure?

The former executive chairman of the rightwing website Breitbart News has an outsized influence on Trump. As chief executive of the Trump campaign, he reportedly encouraged Trump to portray rival Hillary Clinton as part of a global conspiracy made up of the political, financial and media elite, a message that many felt carried antisemitic overtones.

In Devil’s Bargain, a book about his role in the Trump campaign, Bannon is quoted as saying that attempts by Clinton to tie Trump to the “alt-right” and nationalists did not worry voters. “We polled the race stuff and it doesn’t matter,” Bannon said, according to the book.

Last November, when Bannon was appointed White House chief strategist, US House minority leader Nancy Pelosi said: “There must be no sugarcoating the reality that a white nationalist has been named chief strategist for the Trump administration.”

Adam Jentleson, a spokesman for then Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, said: “It is easy to see why the KKK views Trump as their champion when Trump appoints one of the foremost peddlers of white supremacist themes and rhetoric as his top aide.”

In a sworn court declaration following their divorce in 2007, Bannon’s ex-wife Mary Louise Piccard said Bannon had objected to sending their twin daughters to an elite Los Angeles academy because he “didn’t want the girls going to school with Jews”. Bannon denies saying this.

But Bannon’s days in the White House could be numbered as he is reportedly locked in a factional battle with national security adviser H R McMaster; far-right media have run a series of articles calling for McMaster’s head. On MSNBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, McMaster was asked three times to defend Bannon; three times he ducked the questions.

Is Bannon a one-off?

No. Senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, 31, was the primary architect of the first travel ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries (later revised to six and still locked in a legal wrangle). Miller is a former aide to then senator Jeff Sessions and set out his hard-right, anti-immigration views in numerous writings. Recently he drew criticism by downplaying the famous poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty that welcomes immigrants.

Deputy assistant Sebastian Gorka has been seen in photos wearing a medal from Vitézi Rend, a group with historical links to Nazi Germany and the murder of Jews during the Holocaust. Gorka has claimed that he only wore the medal to honour his father.

London-born Gorka, 46, said last week: “It’s this constant, ‘Oh, it’s the white man. It’s the white supremacists. That’s the problem.’ No, it isn’t.” In November 2014, Gorka wrote an article for Breitbart that was headlined: “Muslim Brotherhood overruns National Cathedral in DC.”

While running Breitbart, Bannon proudly declared: “We’re the platform for the alt-right.” The “alt-right” movement is associated with efforts to preserve “white identity”, defend “western values” and oppose multiculturalism.

On Bannon’s watch, the site was accused of aggressively pushing stories against immigrants, linking minorities to terrorism and crime and publishing a call to hoist the Confederate flag high and “fly it with pride” only two weeks after the racist Charleston church massacre in 2015.

Breitbart’s website still carries a March 2016 article co-authored by notorious activist Milo Yiannopoulos that sets out what the far right stands for. It says: “The alt-right’s intellectuals would also argue that culture is inseparable from race.

“The alt-right believe that some degree of separation between peoples is necessary for a culture to be preserved. A mosque next to an English street full of houses bearing the flag of St George, according to alt-righters, is neither an English street nor a Muslim street – separation is necessary for distinctiveness.”

One headline described conservative commentator Bill Kristol as a “Republican spoiler, renegade Jew”. Another referred to Democratic congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was shot in the head during a massacre five years ago, as “the gun control movement’s human shield”.
And what about Trump’s cabinet?

It is dominated by white conservative men. The attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has faced accusations of racism for much of his career. About a dozen members of the Congressional Black Caucus spoke out against Sessions at his confirmation hearing. Democratic senator Cory Booker of New Jersey testified: “He will be expected to defend voting rights, but his record indicates that he won’t. He will be expected to defend the rights of immigrants and affirm their human dignity, but his record indicates that he won’t.”
The Guardian view on Donald Trump and racism: a moral failure that shames America
Editorial: No previous US president of modern times would have failed to condemn his country’s white nationalists. This one did

In a September 2016 interview he claimed: “I am the least racist person that you have ever met. And you can speak to [African American boxing promoter] Don King, who knows me very well. You can speak to so many different people.”

Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, the grandson of Holocaust survivors, and daughter Ivanka, who converted to Judaism, have defended the president against charges of antisemitism.

But Trump’s background in liberal, diverse New York does not get him off the hook. Early in his career as a property developer, he fought accusations of bias against black people seeking to rent at his family-owned apartment complexes.

He spent $85,000 to take out ads in four daily newspapers calling for the reintroduction of the death penalty in 1989 after five African American and Latino teenagers were accused of assaulting and raping a white woman in Central Park. Even after the five were cleared by DNA evidence, Trump continued to insist: “They admitted they were guilty.”

More recently, Trump was a key proponent of the “birther” movement, pushing the lie that Obama was not born in the US and therefore an illegitimate president. During his election campaign he retweeted a post from accounts that appeared to have links to white nationalist groups, attacked a Muslim gold star family and called Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who was born in the US but is of Mexican heritage, a “hater” and a “Mexican”. In one interview, Trump refused to condemn the Ku Klux Klan and subsequently blamed a faulty earpiece.

Little has changed since he took office. His inaugural address was shot through with Bannon/Miller nationalism and pushed a theme of “American carnage”. One of his first actions was the travel ban targeting Muslims. A speech in Poland portrayed a clash of civilisations.

The White House issued a statement to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day that made no mention of Jews or antisemitism. The former press secretary Sean Spicer was forced to apologise after claiming that Adolf Hitler, who gassed millions of Jews during the Holocaust, did not use chemical weapons.

Now Trump has belatedly condemned neo-Nazis, white supremacists and the Ku Klux Klan, two days after instead blaming “many sides” for Saturday’s carnage in Charlottesville, Virginia.

His choice of language on Saturday delighted some on the far right who took it to be an expression of support. The president did declare racism was evil on Monday, but still stopped short of describing the Charlottesville events as an act of domestic terrorism. Even while the president sought to make amends on Monday with a clearer statement, critics say he will not truly lance the boil until he removes the company he keeps at the White House.


Steve Bannon brands far right 'losers' and contradicts Trump in surprise interview

White House figure tells the American Prospect magazine there is no military solution to North Korea and warns of a China trade war

Sam Levin in San Francisco
Thursday 17 August 2017 03.14 BST

White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has given an unusual interview in which he claimed there was no military solution for North Korea, the far right was a “collection of clowns” and the left’s focus on racism would allow him to “crush the Democrats”.

Bannon, who has been called the mastermind behind Donald Trump’s nationalist agenda, made the controversial and unsolicited remarks to Robert Kuttner, co-founder and co-editor of the American Prospect, a leftwing political magazine, in an interview published Wednesday.

The seemingly candid comments – which included the claims that he would oust his rivals in the federal government, who were “wetting themselves” – come at a time when Bannon faces an uncertain future at the White House. There have been increasing calls from the left and the right for the removal of the former editor of Breitbart News. When Trump was asked at a press conference this week if the chief strategist would remain in his position, the president said: “We’ll see.”

It is unclear why Bannon chose to call Kuttner, who wrote that he had not requested the interview and was “stunned” to hear from him. However after publication stories circulated that Bannon was unaware he was providing an interview.

There have been recent reports of internal conflicts and power struggles within the administration, and Bannon made the call amid an intense backlash related to Trump’s links to the far right and the president’s comments that there were “very fine people” at a violent white nationalist protest in Charlottesville.

In the American Prospect story, headlined “Steve Bannon, unrepentant”, Trump’s top aide said: “We’re at economic war with China. It’s in all their literature. They’re not shy about saying what they’re doing. One of us is going to be a hegemon in 25 or 30 years and it’s gonna be them if we go down this path. On Korea, they’re just tapping us along. It’s just a sideshow.”

Contradicting Trump’s threats of “fire and fury” on North Korea, Bannon said: “There’s no military solution [to North Korea’s nuclear threats], forget it. Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that 10 million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no military solution here, they got us.”

Bannon also discussed his “battle inside the administration to take a harder line on China trade”, Kuttner wrote. Asked about his adversaries at the US departments of state and defense, Bannon responded, “Oh, they’re wetting themselves.”

He continued: “I’m changing out people at east Asian defense; I’m getting hawks in. I’m getting Susan Thornton [acting head of east Asian and Pacific affairs] out at state.”

The State Department and the White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday night. At the time of writing Susan Thornton was still listed in her position.

Kuttner also asked Bannon about the “ugly white nationalism epitomized by the racist violence in Charlottesville and Trump’s reluctance to condemn it”. Heather Heyer, a civil rights activist, was killed when a man alleged to be a white nationalist drove a car into a crowd of counter protesters on Saturday.

Bannon dismissed the far right as “irrelevant”, Kuttner wrote, quoting the Trump aide as saying: “Ethno-nationalism – it’s losers. It’s a fringe element. I think the media plays it up too much, and we gotta help crush it, you know, uh, help crush it more … These guys are a collection of clowns.”

Regarding the Democrats, Bannon said: “The longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em. I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.”

Kuttner wrote that he had never spoken to Bannon before and that the question of whether the call was on or off the record never came up.

Anthony Scaramucci, Trump’s short-lived communications director, was recently fired after he called up a reporter and launched a foul-mouthed rant against senior colleagues, including Bannon.

Bannon has attracted significant controversy during his time at the White House, where he was blamed for the failed implementation of the travel ban, which was quickly blocked by the courts.

It has been reported that the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his wife, Ivanka Trump, have long urged Bannon’s dismissal.

The president tried to downplay Bannon’s influence on his campaign at the recent press conference, saying, “I like Mr Bannon. He’s a friend of mine. But Mr Bannon came on very late.”

 on: Aug 17, 2017, 05:56 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Put to the vote: German nursery where children make the decisions

Dolli Einstein Haus in Pinneberg is run on a democratic basis, with votes on everything from food to nappy changes

Philip Oltermann in Pinneberg

At the Dolli Einstein Haus, constitutional crises are usually solved before breakfast. When one delegate’s motion in favour of rice pudding with cherry compote was roundly defeated the delegates were left facing a hung vote over the choice of french toast or pancake with apple puree. Another council member then demanded sausages with spaghetti. But a second-round runoff broke the deadlock: 12:4 in favour of pancakes, an absolute majority that everyone could live with.

At most nurseries, parents worry that their child will pick up nits, a runny nose or bad language. At the Dolli Einstein Haus in Pinneberg, however, parents hope that their offspring catch a different kind of habit: a taste for democracy.

The nursery, which was certified as Germany’s first “democracy nursery” earlier this year, is run on a mission to test how far decision-making processes can be devolved to the under-sixes, by giving children a vote on anything from breakfast menus to nappy changing.

Three and a half years into their experiment, the brains behind the project are not only discovering that democratic ideas remain surprisingly contagious even in an era of populist revivals, but that the compromises required are often more challenging for adults than children.

Educators at the daycare centre in northern Germany tell the story of six-year-old Pia, who recently objected to her parents telling her to go to sleep by citing the kindergarten’s “constitution”, which is prominently displayed in each playroom: “I can decide when I go to bed. It’s my right.”

The centre’s charter lists seven basic rights: I have the right to sleep; I decide what and how much I eat; I decide what I play with; I decide where I sit; I am allowed to voice my opinion any time; I decide who I want to cuddle with; and I decide who changes my nappies.

Yet the nursery head, Ute Rodenwald, and her deputy, Heike Schlüter, are quick to reject being bracketed with the non-conformist educational models associated with Germany’s 1968 student movement – the word “anti-authoritarian” elicits howls of denial.

“Anti-authoritarian education assumes that any group of children will in mysterious ways learn to regulate and structure itself,” said Schlüter. “But since we’ve had our constitution and children have been involved in the decision-making, we have had more rules than before, not fewer.”

Children at the Dolli Einstein Haus may get a say on who changes their nappies, but after several amendments the small print of the centre’s founding document makes clear that the right to decide when a nappy needs changing rests exclusively with the educators.

Rodenwald sees her project’s mission less in empowering children than equipping them with the skills to cope with with a rapidly changing modern world: “Democracy is not just about elections. For us it is about people – or children – being taken seriously, and learning to make decisions in a way that doesn’t leave other people behind,” she said.

As more and more households are made up of two working parents, Rodenwald argues, the pressure has grown on on preschool establishments to take a more active role in educating young people.

Originally conceived by a group of educators in the state of Schleswig-Holstein in 2001, the project only truly clicked into gear after Angela Merkel’s first cabinet voted to triple the number of day care places for children in 2007. Most children at the Dolli Einstein Haus, which is run by the non-profit charity Workers Welfare Institution and named after a talking bird from a children’s book, are registered from age one and stay there from 8am until 4pm on weekdays.

Once a week, each group at the nursery meets for a session at which there are two rounds of votes: one on the topping of the afternoon cake, and one on the Friday morning breakfast menu. The former is essentially a referendum, with the educators for example offering a choice between lemon and chocolate cake, while for the latter the children can nominate four meal options.

The options are drawn on pieces of paper which are placed in the middle of a circle of children, each of whom sits down on a cushion after listening to the sound of a quiet gong, facing outwards to allow an anonymous vote. When their names are called, the children take turns placing coloured pebbles, known as Muckelsteine, underneath their preferred option.

In both votes, the result is strictly first past the post and constitutionally binding. The nursery chef has to act out the will of the voters even if it seems disgusting or unhealthy – a principle which has tested the resolve of parents and educators alike. In the past, the Dolli Einstein Haus has served up pizza and stewed beef with beetroot for breakfast.

Rodenwald and her team argue that the onus is on the adults to learn to accept the children’s decisions, rather than the other way around: “It’s about creating alternatives,” she said. “Our experience is that children will eventually eat spinach, salad or rye bread if you keep on offering it and they see other children eat it.”

Bigger decisions, such as investment in new toys or rule changes in the playground, are made at a monthly children’s council attended by pairs of boys and girls nominated as “passers on”. At one recent such meeting, delegates took their leaders to task after Rodenwald made the unilateral decision to buy a pair of new tricycles.

“It was such a good offer and we knew the kids liked tricycles, so I had just gone for it,” she said. “But the children told us in no uncertain terms that we had not been authorised to make that decision. That was one of those moments where we felt: yes, we are on the right path.

“I don’t know if children are the better democrats, but they are certainly less calculating. They don’t say things just in order to please people.”

In spite of the potential power struggles these democratically trained toddlers may cause at home, the head of the programme at the Workers Welfare Institution said she was not aware of any parents who had pulled out of a democracy nursery so far.

On the contrary: after seven nurseries were certified in February, a further 12 are to follow by the end of the year. By 2020, the charity wants all of its 58 nurseries in Schleswig-Holstein to be run on a democratic basis.

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