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The financial crisis can't touch them - Germany's richest just keep getting richer. Top earners' salaries are up, but the bottom 40 percent of full-time employees are earning less after wages were adjusted for inflation.

The richest ten percent of German households have more than half of the total assets, the report said - taken to include real estate, investments, land or claims from company pensions. And the poorest fifty percent of households have just barely one percent of the net wealth.

The net wealth of German households has doubled in the past two decades, from €4.6 billion to more than €10 billion.

Süddeutsche Zeitung said the report also showed that there was still a wealth gap between people in former eastern Germany and western Germany. West German households had an average net wealth of €132,000, east German households just €55,000.

Private citizens may be getting richer, but the report showed the state was getting poorer. The Labour Department report claimed that net assets of the German state fell by more than €800 billion between early 1992 and early 2012.

It also noted that as part of the rescue efforts during the financial crisis there was "an observable shift of private assets and liabilities in state budgets."

The report defended the increase in non-traditional employment, including part-time work, and temporary or contract positions, saying these jobs were not created at the expense of normal working conditions.

But the Ministry of Labour did note that: "hourly wages which are insufficient to secure the livelihood of a single person who is working full-time, exacerbates the risk of poverty and weaken social cohesion."

The Local/sh

Steel managers who were fixing prices and dividing up the railway track market took Deutsche Bahn employees to brothels after talking business over dinner, spending more than €71,000 on “entertaining” over five years.

Court documents seen by the Handelsblatt newspaper show that a former manager of a Voestalpine subsidiary spent €71,276 between 2005 and 2009 on his “track friends”. Much of the money was spent in the Berlin brothel “Bel Ami”, the paper said.

While Voestalpine confirmed the existence of the 35 bills paid by the manager, it stressed these had nothing to do with the railway track cartel.

Yet a former manager who was at the price- and market-share-fixing meetings told the Handelsblatt that employees from Voestalpine and ThyssenKrupp had met colleagues from Deutsche Bahn several times. They had discussed prices over dinner, and then gone to the brothel.

ThyssenKrupp was fined €103 million in July, while Vossloh and Voestalpine were fined €13 million and €8.5 million respectively. All admitted to fixing prices and sharing out the market for railway tracks.

The steel managers are only the latest to have been caught spending company money on prostitutes.

Insurance firm Ergo repeatedly sent top-selling agents on trips involving paid-for sex, including one well-documented three-day weekend in Budapest.

The Local/hc

A rabbi was attacked in broad daylight by four youths in front of his six-year-old daughter, police in Berlin said Wednesday, apparently because he was wearing traditional Jewish headgear.
Four youths, thought to be of "Arab descent" confronted the 53-year-old in the Schöneberg district of Berlin in the early evening of Tuesday, asking him "Are you a Jew?" according to a police statement.

One of the men blocked his path, while three others stood behind the rabbi and his daughter. The man blocking his path suddenly hit the rabbi repeatedly, injuring his head.

"There were then insults directed towards the man, his beliefs and his mother, as well as a death threat in the direction of his daughter," the police said in a statement.
The youths fled after the attack and the rabbi was taken to hospital. Police said he was wearing "a traditional Jewish head covering."
Prosecutors have launched an investigation.
Berlin's mayor Klaus Wowereit condemned the attack "in the strongest possible terms," saying it was "an attack on the peaceful co-habitation of all people who live in our city."
The Jewish forum for democracy and against anti-Semitism said it was "very shocked by the act of violence."
Group spokesman Levi Salomon said the victim was "one of the first rabbis to be ordained in Germany after the Holocaust" when six million Jews were murdered by Adolf Hitler's Nazis.

He teaches religious studies at a Jewish school and has pushed for years for dialogue with Christians and Muslims, Salomon said.


A German state gave €1 million to a former circus director's assistant and an ex-hotel manager to find investors for the troubled Nürburgring race track – and then paid extra for luxury stays in Zurich, complete with brothel visits.

The government of Rhineland-Palatinate is under increasing pressure as revelations emerge about its handling of the Nürburgring disaster. It went bust last month after investors could not be found for a pleasure park and holiday complex opened there in 2009.

Social Democrat State Premier Kurt Beck, is reported to have pumped at least €330 million of public money into the park to keep it afloat. Six people, including Rhineland-Palatinate's former Finance Minister Ingolf Deubel, face a court case in Koblenz in October for their part in the costly fiasco.

Deubel was under extreme pressure from 2007 onwards to find private investors for the project, and is said to have put his faith in two financial negotiators who promised to get the investment for him, the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper reported on Monday.

The two men, who have not been named, have been called as witnesses in the court case. One was once a hotel director in Wiesbaden, while the other was an assistant to a circus director.

Deubel gave these two men a million euros in advance for their work, the paper said, citing internal state documents dated May 2009.

Despite this substantial advance, the two men apparently said they did not have enough money for their business trips to Zurich, the paper said, so the state-owned Nürburgring company continued to fork out.

An outraged worker wrote in the 2009 report that these journeys "developed more and more into excessive trips."

The negotiators reportedly stayed at Zurich's Dolder Grand Hotel for 490 Swiss francs (€408) per night - not including breakfast. They ate at top restaurants, running up bills that occasionally exceeded 2,000 francs, and even hired taxi drivers to fetch them cigarettes at night, the Süddeutsche Zeitung said.

One of the men also had a contact to a Zurich pimp, who organized prostitutes to visit their hotel rooms, and on another night, hosted a diamond mine owner from South Africa at a local brothel.

Lawyer Bernd Schneider, who is representing one of the men accused, said that the entire state cabinet knew what was happening at the time.

The Local/bk


The owner of an Indian clothing store said Wednesday that he would only change its name from "Hitler" if he was compensated for re-branding costs, amid a growing row over the new shop.

The outlet, which sells Western men's wear, opened 10 days ago in Ahmedabad city in the western state of Gujarat with "Hitler" written in big letters over the front and with a Nazi swastika as the dot on the "i".
"I will change it (the name) if people want to compensate me for the money we have spent -- the logo, the hoarding, the business cards, the brand," Rajesh Shah told AFP.
He put the total costs at about 150,000 rupees ($2,700).
Shah insisted that until the store opened he did not know who Adolf Hitler was and that Hitler was a nickname given to the grandfather of his store partner because "he was very strict".
"I didn't know how much the name would disturb people," he told AFP by telephone from Ahmedabad. "It was only when the store opened I learnt Hitler had killed six million people."
Members of the tiny Jewish community in Ahmedabad condemned the store's name, while a senior Israeli diplomat said the embassy would raise the matter "in the strongest possible way."
"People use such names mostly out of ignorance," Israel's Mumbai Consul General Orna Sagiv told AFP.
Esther David, a prominent Indian writer in Ahmedabad who is Jewish, said she was "disturbed and distressed" by the shop, but added that some Indians used the word "Hitler" casually to describe autocratic people.
David said Jewish residents had sought to change Shah's mind about the store's name and told him about the Holocaust.
The row evoked memories of a controversy six years ago when a Mumbai restaurant owner called his cafe "Hitler's Cross" and put a swastika on the hoarding, claiming Hitler was a "catchy" name.
The restaurant owner eventually agreed to change the name after protests by the Israeli embassy, Germany and the US Anti-Defamation League.
Hitler attracts an unusual degree of respect in some parts of India, with his book "Mein Kampf" a popular title in bookshops and on street stalls.
Gujarat schoolbooks issued by the Hindu nationalist state government were criticised a few years ago for praising Hitler as someone who gave "dignity and prestige" to the German government.


Explosives experts in Germany have detonated the remains of a 250kg World War Two bomb in central Munich. The dapd news agency cited a police spokesman as saying the bomb was successfully destroyed on Tuesday evening (local time).

Still, burning debris caused fires in several nearby buildings that had been evacuated after the bomb was discovered on Monday in the Schwabing district.

Efforts to defuse the bomb failed and experts decided to pack it with explosives and detonate it rather than risk an uncontrolled explosion.

Allied airplanes dropped millions of tonnes of ordnance on Germany during World War Two in an effort to cripple the Nazi war machine.

Tens of thousands of unexploded bombs are believed still to be lying in the ground in Germany.

Source: Dapd News

A woman who was charged more than €40 by an electrician for a trip of around 40 metres to her house has been told by a German court she will probably have to pay the fee.  

Elke Frenzel asked the electrician to fit new sockets and light switches in her flat in the Haidhausen area of Munich, the Die Welt reported on Friday. 

The job took about half an hour, for which the electrician charged her €29.63. What Frenzel was not ready for was the travel fee, which the electrician billed at €41.65. “I am happy to pay for the service that was actually performed,” she told theMünchner Abendzeitung newspaper. 

“But more than a euro per metre is absurd.”

She said she paid him part of the fee demanded, but refused to pay the entire amount, saying she had not been told of any travel costs. 

But the electrician said she fell into the category of “within 10 kilometres” and had to pay accordingly. After three reminders had failed to result in payment, he sued.

Frenzel said, “I told him I lived just over the way. We never spoke about costs.”

Yet while even the trade guild said that such a short distance should not be charged for, the court in Munich suggested Frenzel pay up – the small print on the job note she signed had included notice of the charge. 

The Local/hc

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