Confusion over erection of mysterious posters in West Donegal

first_imgA Donegal county councillor has reacted after dozens of posters thanking him and a well-known Donegal GAA star for working for the gay community appeared on lamp-posts.The posters, which depict both Cllr Micheal Mac Giolla Easbuig and footballer Eamonn McGee appeared in West Donegal today.Cllr Mac Giolla Easbuig said he does not know who is responsible for erecting the posters. But he added “I would like to thank the “anonymous” people who put up posters in Gaoth Dobhaire acknowledging my support for the gay community in Donegal.“I will continue to do whatever I can to support oppressed, marginalised communities throughout the county, but it’s nice to get some recognition for that support.”Cllr Mac Giolla Easbuig is seeking to retain his position as a county councillor in the local elections this weekend.Mr McGee is a well-known commentator and activist but is not standing for election. Confusion over erection of mysterious posters in West Donegal was last modified: May 20th, 2019 by Staff WriterShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:Cllr Micheal Mac Giolla EasbuigpostsWest Donegallast_img read more

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Meet a top social entrepreneur

first_imgPaul Matthew visits a roadside wellness centre in Kenya and talks to Kenyan truck drivers. (Image: Virginie Lepetre) The North Star clinics are open after hours when drivers have parked for the night. (Image: North Star Alliance) North Star staff go “door to door” to raise awareness about the services offered at the roadside wellness centre in Mwanza, Malawi (Image: North Star Alliance) MEDIA CONTACTS • Robin Landis  Marketing and Communications   +254 (0) 736 300 413 RELATED ARTICLES • Software speeds HIV diagnosis • SA’s second health train rolls out • Board game makes Aids education fun • SA’s first green transport service Wilma den HartighSouth African social entrepreneur Paul Matthew’s pioneering work in HIV/Aids prevention in the road freight industry is making an important contribution to finding innovative healthcare delivery models for Africa.Matthew’s commitment to this cause has just won him a place among the continent’s top five social entrepreneurs, named by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, a sister organisation of the World Economic Forum (WEF).Speaking from Addis Ababa where the proceedings of the 2012 WEF Africa are underway, Matthew says that the recognition of his work – which spans over 20 years – is a great honour.“There was such a build up to the awards ceremony last night, and it is only this morning that it is all starting to sink in. Only now I have been able to reflect on it,” he says.Matthew received the prestigious accolade for his foresight in establishing an organisation, known as the North Star Alliance, to address the impact of HIV/Aids on mobile workers such as truck drivers in Africa.The North Star Alliance is a cross-border HIV prevention initiative that has set up a network of roadside wellness clinics along key transport routes in Africa, such as border posts or transit towns where large numbers of trucks stop and sex work and other informal trades flourish.What makes this particular initiative so important is that it is very much in line with the WEF’s objective to find new ways to deliver healthcare to communities in Africa.But many years ago when Matthew first got the idea to establish a project that could take HIV education to the road where truck drivers spend most of their time, he had no idea that it would achieve success of this scale.“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would stand on a stage and receive this award,” he says.North Star’s wellness clinics are open to everyone, but they are designed for the specific health needs of truck drivers and other mobile populations. They provide prevention and treatment services such as HIV counselling and testing; treatment for sexually transmitted infections; basic health services; information and education and behaviour change communication.“South Africa is ahead of the rest of the continent when it comes to HIV prevention in the freight industry, but elsewhere in Africa there is a major need for such services,” he says.Small beginnings on a cold nightHe remembers the humble beginnings of the project, particularly the very cold nights on the N3 highway, one of South Africa’s most popular transport routes.“While I was at the ceremony last night, I remembered sitting in an ambulance next to the road on the N3 highway near Harrismith,” he recalls. “I remember asking myself what I was doing.”This was the first pilot project to gauge how truck drivers responded to the idea.“I was with a nurse and we set up a tent near one of the popular truck stops to encourage drivers to come in,” he says.At first only a few drivers made use of the facility, but by the end of the week as the trucks travelled further news got out about what was on offer and more people were visiting their tent.“The model works well because the clinics are where the drivers pull up,” he explains. Along South Africa transport routes, the centres are set up at truck stops but in other countries, they are stationed at border posts and hot spots along the transport routes.Why truck drivers?Matthew, who is North Star’s Africa director, has been working in the education and health sectors most of his career. He realised that taking HIV prevention to the road, where the drivers are, is vital.The issue of health and mobility came under the spotlight during the 2003 – 2005 Southern Africa food crisis, when world food programmes struggled to find enough truck drivers to deliver relief food to communities.In terms of freight transport, truck drivers are important for the economy as many businesses in Africa rely on them as a resource.North Star’s observation at its inception was that with the incidence of disease being so prevalent, the numbers of drivers available to transport freight has, over time, decreased dramatically.Their research showed that simple factors such as limited operating hours and the location of health services are huge barriers to healthcare provision. For instance, there may not be suitable large vehicle parking or the health facility may be closed in the evenings.The North Star clinics are open after hours when drivers have parked for the night.“The life of a truck driver is harsh. Once a driver leaves the depot, he is away for up to three weeks on the road without access to healthcare,” explains Matthew.He says that once started the project, he quickly realised that the clinics couldn’t only provide healthcare for truck drivers exclusively – sex workers on route and surrounding communities also needed help. “Now our clinics are also providing treatment to these people.”Working with governmentsThe initiative has the support of many transport companies and because it is a public- private partnership, North Star also works closely with governments in various countries to align its healthcare offering with local state programmes.“Whenever we set up a new clinic in a specific area, we sign a memorandum of understanding with the ministry of health in that country,” explains Matthew. “In some countries our clinics complement their healthcare provision services by acting as a satellite to what they are doing.”Sometimes the respective governments provide staff and medical supplies for the clinics, but otherwise it is up to North Star to raise funds to employ nurses and buy medication.Expanding its reachNorth Star operates in 19 countries including Burundi; Côte d’Ivoire; Benin; Zimbabwe; The Democratic Republic of Congo; Nigeria; Rwanda; Swaziland and South Africa.Since opening its first centre in 2005 in Malawi, North Star has set up 22 additional centres in 10 countries across the continent.“North Star has exciting new projects on the card,” he says. “In the next 12 months we will upscale the clinics to include mobile container clinics that can travel around.”Matthew says they are setting up a commercial arm of the project, in partnership with fleet safety management company Fleet Forum, that will focus on safe driving practices such as driver skills and managing fatigue.The initiative, which launched in a pilot phase at the beginning of May, makes use of an innovative training approach that communicates with drivers via CDs that can be played in trucks – an ideal means of communication for drivers who are always on the road.The recording on the CD is structured to sound like a radio programme with a disk jockey that plays music, carefully selected, based on research, to find out what type of music drivers enjoy.“The training module comes where radio stations usually play adverts between songs. Instead of adverts, quick information on driver safety will be played,” he explains.Bringing about social changeSelected from more than 500 candidates, the work of Africa’s social entrepreneurs has been set apart as examples of how entrepreneurship in the public interest can transform the continent.Matthew’s groundbreaking work in area of HIV/Aids and healthcare provision, two of the continent’s biggest challenges, is making a significant difference to the lives of thousands of people in Africa.last_img read more

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A strong safety net is critical for all farmers

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Imagine that you’re a young tobacco and grain farmer in Kentucky. Despite low commodity prices and a tough agriculture market, you’ve been doing alright. As a beginning farmer, you’ve relied on trusted advisors, access to reliable credit and strong farm policies for support. You’ve mitigated risk with smart decision-making and a solid crop insurance policy that provides protection and peace of mind at a time when there’s no room for loss.Now, imagine you are planning to put in a new crop, but you’ve had to drop your coverage level because the premium is no longer affordable. You manage to buy the seed and other inputs you need to plant and care for the crop, despite limited access to credit, but it’s a catastrophic year. Severe weather destroys your entire crop and you have a limited safety net in place to mitigate risk. The success you’ve realized in past years is gone with one turbulent season, and you have no choice but to walk away from farming.With a strong, affordable safety net in place, this scenario is merely a cautionary tale. But with recent proposals to slash budgets for federal crop insurance programs, this could become a reality for young farmers, who won’t have access to the resources that protect them from market and weather volatility.Crop insurance through the years Putting a crop in the ground is risky business. Without crop insurance to protect investments, it would be nearly impossible for farmers to succeed. Federal crop insurance was first authorized by Congress in the 1930s to help agricultural communities recover from the effects of the Great Depression and Dust Bowl years. The program expanded and evolved over time to protect farmers from losses due to adverse events such as inclement weather and market downturns. Today, farmers must purchase crop insurance to be eligible for certain farm loans and government disaster benefits. National Crop Insurance Services reports that in 2016, 1.2 million crop insurance policies were sold, protecting more than 130 crops on more than 290 million U.S. acres. Those crops had an insured value of $100 billion.The crop insurance program hasn’t come without pushback from those outside agriculture. Budget cuts to the federal program have been proposed by several administrations over the years, but have been soundly rejected by Congress. Recently, we’ve seen a proposal to cut federal crop insurance programs by $29 billion over the next decade. These destructive cuts would be catastrophic for farmers, rural economies and the agricultural industry. And those who stand to be most affected are young and beginning farmers with limited cash reserves who rely on crop insurance to access credit.Budget cuts could change the risk pool Crop insurance is actuarially sound, meaning that including more participants (and more acres) in the program spreads risk, which keeps premiums and costs down for all participants. One of the current proposed budget cuts would cap crop insurance premium subsidies at $40,000 (there is currently no limit) for growers with an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $500,000 or less. Producers above that income level would lose premium subsidies completely.Without subsidies to help pay premiums, lower-risk established farmers with large operations may be inclined to opt out of purchasing crop insurance. Depending on where the AGI limit is set, more than half of U.S. acres could be left unprotected by proposed cuts. This puts more pressure on the program and on younger, higher-risk farmers who’ll be left funding it. In short, cuts to crop insurance would be detrimental to farms of all sizes, not just the large ones.Crop insurance helps rural economies At Farm Credit, our mission is to secure the future of rural communities and agriculture, so policy decisions that support a stable future align with our core purpose. Crop insurance is a cornerstone of U.S. farm policy. It keeps the pool of farmers large and provides a safety net to ensure their investments are protected. In a time when rural economies are struggling and the average age of farmers is rising, we must have strong policies and support to continue producing affordable food, fuel and fiber for a growing population.The success of young farmers depends on affordable, reliable crop insurance and access to credit. Today, the average age of a farmer is 58, and 78 percent of principal farm operators have been on their farms for more than 10 years. In the coming years, many of these farms will need to be passed on to a younger generation who’ll likely face more risk with tighter margins and lower cash reserves to cushion them through tough years. Affordable crop insurance will make it possible for the next generation to maintain financial stability during difficult times.Crop insurance doesn’t help only farmers. A trickle-down effect supports all of agriculture and even those outside of rural communities. Since 2000, farmers have paid $50 billion out of their own pockets for crop insurance. In turn, they were able to secure capital that ultimately was reinvested in their communities through the acquisition of labor, products and services.In the absence of affordable crop insurance, the cost of crop losses would fall directly on taxpayers. Agriculture accounts for 5 percent of the U.S. economy and 10 percent of U.S. employment, so it’s easy to see why a stable agriculture sector is good for everyone.What can you do? We’ve seen four consecutive years of declining farm income. The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts that in 2017, farmers will take home half the pay they did in 2013. Current budget and farm bill discussions are more important than ever to ensure that reliable, affordable crop insurance and financing options remain in place to protect farmers, especially those now stepping up to take on the risk-intensive business of farming. Remember to stay informed when it comes to ag policy decisions and stay connected to what’s going on in Congress.last_img read more

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Post-Apocalyptic geocaching — Red Sands Fort (GC1DVNY) — Geocache of the Week

first_imgFort Red Sands Photo by geocacher DrsdoolittleGeocache Name:Red Sands Fort (GC1DVNY)Difficulty/Terrain Rating:3/5Why this is the Geocache of the Week:Geocaching takes us to some pretty amazing places and can teach us the history of a location. This geocache takes you 8 miles out to see to a group of abandoned World War 2 era forts that were used to protect London from invasion. The history is incredible, but the view is what makes it worth it. Coming up to these forts evokes an almost post-apocalyptic feeling. The photos remind me of something I would read about in a zombie-survival novel. They’re quite creepy and awesome at the same time.What geocachers have to say:“Brilliant cache thanks for bringing me out here. Pics of course and a fav too. Unbelievable that this has only 3 favs so far! Don’t know what it must take for some people to fav a cache!!” – maattmoo“Ive been after this ever since seeing it existed. Gutted that we didn’t think about the tide and as you can see from the photo, there was no way we were ever going to get on the platform. Out of interest, without any ladder in place is it ever possible? Great cache, which was almost touching distance away!” – Rhinoback“Thanks for the cache – we are really pleased to be able to give Red Sands it’s 1st favourite point!” – The_BuffsWhat the geocache creator, LostInTheWoods! , has to say:A colleague and I travelled out on the X-Pilot boat. The skipper had arrange the trip so that we could easily access the landing platform. We viewed the radio station and my colleague met many guys that he had visited during his earlier Pirate Radio Chaser years. He recognised them, and they recognised him, immediately. All friends now, thankfully, or we may have had to walk a hastily erected plank. We then had an amazing tour of the WW2 Gun Platform, upper, level. Lovely views that day but not so lovely if you were being straffed by a WW2 figher way back in the 1940’s. It was here that we met the Fort’s sponsor. He was so keen to promote the existance of the Red Sands Fort that he eagerly accepted my request to place a geocache on it. Share with your Friends:More Like most cache owners, it’s always appreciated when I get detailed descriptions in Found its, DNFs, and Notes relating to this cache and all of my other caches.I have certainly enjoyed reading all of the Red Sands Fort cache’s logs.If you fancy going for this cache, make sure that you go properly prepared and check the tide times. Perhaps go as part of an organised group. Read the main page and logs to find out more. Photos:Close-up of one of the towers. Photo by geocacher maattmoo50% creepy, 50% awesome. Photo by geocacher jimbo-ugkNearing the fort. Photo by geocacher palmercolWhat “unreal” places has geocaching taken you? Tell your story and post photos in the comments.Continue to explore some of the most engaging geocaches around the globe. Check out all the Geocaches of the Week on the Geocaching blog. If you would like to nominate a Geocache of the Week, just fill out this form. Thanks! SharePrint RelatedStep inside my geocache. — Tschröuwe-Galari (GC3V52D) — Geocache of the WeekOctober 2, 2014In “Geocache of the Week”Epic Adventure, — Wet Surprise (GC1YV80) — Geocache of the Week Video EditionAugust 20, 2014In “Community”{GHQ} Heidelberg Redux (GC2GA9Y) – Geocache of the WeekJuly 9, 2015In “Geocache of the Week”last_img read more

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High-Performance and Net-Zero Homes — Part 5

first_imgIn the prior installment in this blog series, I proposed a rationale for the adoption of integrated project delivery (IPD) and promised to follow with suggestions regarding its implementation, along with some resources.Meanwhile, that last blog generated a great dialogue (and a few diatribes – always a plus!) about that classic IPD bugaboo, the design-bid-build model. Many of the commenters echoed my own very strong sentiments in favor of involving contractors during early design stages, and gave some great suggestions for how to do that. I won’t reiterate those here, but do encourage anyone who hasn’t read them to do so. Several other types of resources can support IPDContracts. In many discussions of IPD, the issues of responsibility and liability come up. Understandably, this is of paramount concern when project teams deviate from the standard approach to project delivery. A number of relatively new contract forms have evolved to address this need, including the following:AIA A195/B195/A295 Standard Form of Agreement Between Owner and Contractor/ Owner and Architect for Integrated Project DeliveryAIA C195 Standard Form Single Purpose Entity Agreement for Integrated Project DeliveryConsensus DOCS 300 Standard Form of Tri-Party Agreement for Collaborative Project DeliveryMeeting Resources. As prosaic as it sounds, meeting logistics can be one of the biggest challenges an IPD team faces. There are a number of free online scheduling utilities; I find Doodle to be particularly user-friendly. When an in-person meeting isn’t possible, a conference call (e.g., FreeConference) or web-based meeting is often a good compromise. Skype provides not just free and low-cost calling, but also has a remote desktop sharing feature which is very easy to use. There are numerous web-based meeting services; among the more popular are Webex, GoToMeeting, and Adobe Connect.Information Resources. While not explicitly targeted to IPD teams, these resources can help teams more quickly arrive at sound decisions on high-performance projects:Building America 50% savings packages (climate-specific packages of energy features that will yield 50% energy savings compared with code-built homes)Building Green product reviews, case studies, and in-depth articlesGreen Building Advisor case studies on net-zero and other highly energy-efficient residential projects (and much more, of course!)National Renewable Energy Laboratory information on solar thermal and solar electric systems, among many other resourcesFlorida Solar Energy Center research, case studies, and much moreCollaboration Utilities. There is a diverse and rapidly increasing variety of online utilities that can help support good teamwork. One type is mind-mapping software such as Mindjet, which allows users to create online bubble diagrams and attach myriad types of information to them, including documents of all types, images, emails, urls, etc. This is a very dynamic tool for visually organizing information and ideas, and all team members can contribute. Houzz and Pinterest are representatives of another emerging class of utilities that are designed to allow users to create and share collections of visual information. The Siamese twins of IPDBefore moving on to the discussion of IPD implementation, I’ll share a couple of fundamental principles I’ve derived from my own experience – realizations resulting from shortcomings in process (failures have a way of providing teachable moments, don’t they?!) that have strongly shaped my views about implementation.Principle #1: Sound Process. If your process is sound, good outcomes will follow. In other words, it’s kind of tough to produce a lousy project if you’re observing a well-crafted (integrated) process. RELATED ARTICLES High-Performance and Net-Zero Homes — Part 1High-Performance and Net-Zero Homes — Part 2High-Performance and Net-Zero Homes — Part 3High-Performance and Net-Zero Homes — Part 4 IPD means following some rulesMy principles, above, were the result of observations about things that were working well, and some things that weren’t. Further observation and reflection on those principles over many years has led me to a set of basic rules for implementing IPD:Rule #1: Committed Leadership. Committed leadership is absolutely crucial. If either the purse-strings are controlled by a party who is not committed to IPD or the project team leader is not committed to IPD, it simply can’t happen. A sound process won’t be observed, and you may be unable to engage the right players.Rule #2: Designate a Champion. It’s critical to have an IPD champion within the project team. IPD is not the normal way building projects are developed; hence, someone needs to be responsible for its care and feeding. This may be anyone on the team, but ideally a seasoned professional with prior IPD experience or someone who is enthusiastic about the prospect of fulfilling this role and who is very organized.Rule #3: Be Inclusive. As much as you can, include every team member in your IPD process from the earliest possible date (or, by definition, it’s not so integrated). There’s a very practical reason for this: the person left out is the one who will cause problems – not out of malice, stupidity, or laziness, but typically because of a lack of understanding of the project’s goals or of the reasoning that underlies particular decisions. (Hearken back to part 4 in this blog series.)Rule #4: Establish Communication Protocols Early. As a team, identify the range of systems, materials, and issues that will need to be addressed as the project progresses, and the team members who should be involved in communications about each of these areas. Often it’s a pretty comprehensive matrix; the sample shown below arguably is missing some dots.Rule #5: Use an Online Workspace. There are a number of online workspace options, ranging in sophistication from the fairly rudimentary (e.g., Buzzsaw, Google Docs) to the more fully-featured such as Central Desktop and Basecamp, which I use because it offers a reasonably good balance between functionality and price. The two principal values of these utilities are:• Version control – everyone should have access at all times to the most current version of all project documents;• Email conversation archive – dialogue among team members about particular issues should be easily accessible from one central point without having to mine individuals’ sent or received email boxes. Principle #2: Right Players. A sound process, carried out by the right people, all but guarantees a good project (or product). The “right people” are qualified, committed, and creative. By qualified, I mean having prior relevant experience – ideally on other high-performance projects, and projects that are comparable in nature (building type) and scope (size, complexity). Committed players are also crucial, and in fact, a team member who lacks an ideal background but who is hugely enthusiastic about the undertaking can be a great asset. And finally, a spirit of creativity and innovation are essential. Ultimately, attitude trumps experience, if you can’t have both.These two principles are Siamese twins; one can’t exist without the other. Closing thought: integrated ≠ linearIn Part 4 I described the conventional or predominantly linear handoff process by which buildings are designed and constructed. Integrated project delivery, by contrast, is iterative rather than linear. And while a certain amount of iteration is inevitable even in a normal process, it’s a defining feature of IPD. For those new to IPD, this may seem inefficient, evoking sensations of déjà vu – didn’t we already discuss this? Didn’t we already decide? However, the nature of IPD is such that deeper discussion and more intensive collaboration reveals more nuance and therefore a more thoughtful and carefully considered approach to design and construction. Hence revisiting some ideas and decisions is inescapable. I like the metaphor of the spiral staircase to represent this phenomenon – although the landscape may be strikingly familiar as you move from one stage of a project to the next, in fact you are progressing towards your goal. And paradoxical as it may seem, this spiraling process is the quickest route from the start of design to your destination – a highly efficient and resourceful building. Many of my colleagues who have been involved in designing high-performance projects attest to this, perhaps none so succinctly as Scott Shell of EHDD Architects in San Francisco:“Integrated design can reduce construction cost while providing significant sustainable design benefits. On the CSU [California State University] Monterey Bay Library, by comparing a number of integrated structural, mechanical, and architectural schemes, we found that tradeoffs from one discipline more than offset added costs in another, while achieving energy savings of almost 40 percent.”last_img read more

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FIFA 2014: German team that lifted the World Cup is emblematic of a country that has shed its horrid past

first_imgGerman players celebrate after winning the FIFA World Cup.Rainer Fassbinder’s classic 1979 movie The Marriage of Maria Braun is an allegorical tale about the moral complications and emotional cover-ups that surround Germany’s re-emergence as a strong state after World War II. Set between the war and 1954, the film’s,German players celebrate after winning the FIFA World Cup.Rainer Fassbinder’s classic 1979 movie The Marriage of Maria Braun is an allegorical tale about the moral complications and emotional cover-ups that surround Germany’s re-emergence as a strong state after World War II. Set between the war and 1954, the film’s heroine, Maria, thinks she has lost her husband at war, becomes the darling of a victorious American GI, kills him when the husband returns alive from the front, becomes the mistress of a wealthy industrialist as the German economy recovers, inherits his fortune in the 1950s and is set to be reunited with her first husband and about to live a life of luxury when she is suddenly killed in a gas explosion at her home.The explosion is the final scene of the film, and as the credits run one can hear football commentary for the 1954 World Cup final where West Germany won their first championship. ‘Deutshland ist Weltmeister’ screams the delirious commentator-while in the shot we see Maria Braun’s home go up in flames, her short life with all its sad secrets over, a new country reborn which can forget about the sins and complications of the past, rising again on the wings of the Wirtschaftswunder, ‘the German economic miracle’. In Germany, the World Cup is always about much more than just football.Germany first fancied themselves with a shot at the World Cup in 1938. After Adolf Hitler’s Anschluss of Austria excellent Austrian players were incorporated into a ‘Greater Germany’ team (though perhaps the greatest Austrian player of all, Matthias Sindelar, refused to take part in the Hitler-Mannschaft [football team] and went on to commit suicide in 1939). As with other areas of Nazi sports, the German football team had a strong ideological dimension, meant to prove Aryan superiority over inferior races. However, the German team had only managed fourth place in the 1934 World Cup, and were knocked out by minnows Norway in the 1936 Olympics. 1938 was meant to right all this-only for the Germans to draw 1-1 in their opening game against the Swiss in their first game, and then humiliatingly knocked out 4-2 in the replay.advertisementBut the tournament had some solace for fascism: Benito Mussolini’s Italy beat Hungary 4-2 in the final to win their second World Cup on the trot (football was much more important to Mussolini than Hitler, who saw more value in boxing and individual sports).West Germany were barred from taking part in the 1950 World Cup, and the 1954 edition was the first time the national anthem was played at an international sporting event since the War (though the stanza about ‘Deutschland Uber Alles’ was cut). In the final, the German team were expected to be defeated by the all-conquering Hungarian team lead by the greatest player of his generation, Ferenc Puskas; the Hungarians had already thrashed them in a qualifying round. But after the Hungarians streamed ahead 2-0, the Germans pulled the game back to 2-2. They had no stars like Puskas but the weather was on their side: it was raining heavily and the Germans had the advantage, thanks to a new type of boot with innovative screw-in studs designed by a little-known company called Adidas. The Germans scored again after the break, and Puskas had a late equaliser ruled out for off-side. In Germany the match became known as the ‘Miracle of Bern’, the triumphant sporting symbol of Germany’s ‘Economic Miracle’. West Germany’s next World Cup Final win came in 1974 when they again managed to get the better of the greatest player of his generation, Holland’s Johan Cruyff, with a tenacious team display. But the most important political game in the 1974 World Cup had actually come in the first round, when West Germany played East Germany in a showdown between Communism and Capitalism. The tournament was overshadowed by the Cold War: the USSR had dropped out after refusing to take part in a match against a Chile where the US-allied General Augusto Pinochet had just ousted the Soviet sympathetic Salvador Allende in a coup d’etat; there was intense security as Germany was terrorised by the ultra left group Rote Armee Fraktion. The West Germans were clear favourites in their game: they were European Champions, with a core from the European Champions Cup-winning team of Bayern Munich, captained by Franz Beckenbauer. But the East Germans managed to frustrate their Western ‘brothers’ and won the match 1-0. Both teams had qualified for the next round by that point-but it was still a great moment for East German pride.advertisementThroughout the Cold War decades the West German team was one of the few ways Germans could confidently express their patriotism without feeling WW II awkwardness, and with Germany essentially barred from the geopolitical scene it became not so much a continuation of politics as its substitution. The West German team that evolved towards the end of the Cold War was everything Germany could never dare to be in diplomacy: Teutonic, powerful, self-confident. They peaked in 1990, in time with the West’s victory in the Cold War, with the man-machine Lothar Matthaus leading a Valkyrian team to beat Argentina: the losers again featuring the world’s greatest player, Diego Maradona, who like Cruyff and Puskas before him, could not conjure a victory against the less spectacular but more united Germans.1990 was the high water mark of West German postwar success. After the two Germanies were reunited, both the economy and the national team were expected to become superpowers: an idea that made many surrounding countries uncomfortable. Were we about to see a re-emergence of bad, bullying Germany? Instead the German economy slowly slumped, dragged down by costs of paying for the East and a burdensome welfare state. The team dwindled too: they reached the 2002 World Cup Final by luck and were easily blown away by Brazil. It was as if a reunified Germany was almost scared of being too successful and overbearing.Slowly, since 2004, a new German team has been reemerging. Except it’s a different type of Germany, not Aryan at all but made good with immigrants like Mesut Ozil, Sami Khedira, Jerome Boateng, Mario Gomez, Miroslav Klose. By winning the 2014 World Cup with such a globalised team, the demons of 1938 have been put to bed (though some things never change: again a unified German team beat the world’s best player, Lionel Messi). This globalised Germany is one which the nation can back with no remnants of Nazi hangups, it becomes acceptable to be patriotic as the patria (homeland) becomes less German. And at the same time Germany has re-emerged as the superpower of Europe. Except it’s no longer a case of other countries wanting to hold them back: “I will probably be the first Polish foreign minister in history to say so, but here it is: I fear German power less than I am beginning to fear German inactivity,” Radek Sikorski said in 2011, as he hoped for Germany to be more assertive in the Eurozone crisis, and as he no doubt hopes now that Berlin will stand up to Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Germany is reclaiming its geopolitical status, but that will mean letting go of some of the benefits of being diplomatically neutral- such as being able to do business with everyone and never thinking of the geopolitical responsibilities (the German business lobby is the most involved in Putin’s Russia, is among his greatest supporters and has been vocal in stopping Berlin from sanctioning the Kremlin). Let’s just hope German Chancellor Angela Merkel is as good at her job as its football team’s coach Joachim Low is at his.advertisementlast_img read more

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