Germany: Local leader of far-right party attacked, wounded

Frank Magnitz, above, a lawmaker in Germany’s national parliament who leads the party’s local branch, was found by two workers who were loading a car nearby. (AFP)
Updated 08 January 2019

Germany: Local leader of far-right party attacked, wounded

  • Bremen police said they believe the attack on German lawmaker Frank Magnitz was politically motivated
  • Magnitz was beaten over the head with an unidentified object by at least three men wearing dark clothing and hoods or hats

BERLIN: A local leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany was attacked and seriously wounded by several men in the northwestern city of Bremen, an assault that drew condemnation Tuesday from some of the party’s fiercest opponents.
Bremen police said they believe the attack on Frank Magnitz, a lawmaker in Germany’s national parliament who leads the party’s local branch, was politically motivated. They called for witnesses to the attack around 5:20 p.m. Monday near a city theater to come forward.
Magnitz was beaten over the head with an unidentified object by at least three men wearing dark clothing and hoods or hats, who then fled, police said. Two workers who were loading a car nearby found him lying on the ground and called an ambulance. The 66-year-old was hospitalized.
The party, known by its German acronym AfD, said earlier Tuesday that Magnitz was ambushed after he left a local newspaper’s new year’s reception, beaten unconscious with a piece of wood and then kicked in the head as he lay on the ground.
Bremen, Germany’s smallest state, holds a regional election on May 26, the same day as European Parliament elections in which AfD hopes to make gains.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, wrote on Twitter that “the brutal attack on lawmaker Frank Magnitz in Bremen must be strongly condemned. Hopefully police will quickly succeed in catching the perpetrators.”
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, a center-left politician who has been a strong critic of AfD, tweeted that “violence must never be a means of political confrontation — no matter against whom or what the motives are.”
“There is no justification for this,” he said, calling for those responsible to be punished.
That was echoed by other politicians from established parties, including prominent Green party politician Cem Ozdemir, who said that AfD must be countered by legal means, not violence. “Anyone who fights hatred with hatred always lets hatred win in the end,” he wrote on Twitter.
AfD is represented in all of Germany’s 16 state parliaments. It entered the national parliament in 2017 and is currently the biggest opposition party there.
AfD views the country’s established political parties with contempt, and the feeling is mutual.
“The cowardly and life-threatening attack against Frank Magnitz is the result of constant agitation against us by politicians and media,” party co-leaders Alexander Gauland and Joerg Meuthen said in a statement.
AfD took 10 percent of the vote in Bremen in the 2017 national election, below its nationwide result of 12.6 percent. Bremen is not considered a stronghold of the six-year-old party, unlike three states in Germany’s ex-communist east that hold regional votes in September and October.
Germany has seen other attacks on politicians in recent years.
In 2015, a far-right extremist stabbed in the neck a leading mayoral candidate for Cologne, who at the time was in charge of housing refugees. Henriette Reker was elected mayor the following day while in an induced coma and took office about a month later.
In 2017, a man with a knife attacked the mayor of Altena in western Germany. The mayor was known for voluntarily taking in more asylum-seekers than the small town was obliged to.


Elizabeth Warren decries Trump as ‘corruption in the flesh’

Updated 21 min 43 sec ago

Elizabeth Warren decries Trump as ‘corruption in the flesh’

  • Warren, a Massachusetts senator, has emerged as a leading Democratic presidential contender
NEW YORK: Facing thousands of cheering supporters in the nation’s largest city, Democratic presidential contender Elizabeth Warren on Monday decried President Donald Trump as “corruption in the flesh” and outlined her plans to root out corruption in the White House, Congress and courts.
“Corruption has put our planet at risk. Corruption has broken our economy. And corruption is breaking our democracy,” said Warren, a Massachusetts senator who has emerged as a leading presidential contender.
While aggressive, the message was a familiar one. Warren has embraced corruption as a central campaign theme from the beginning of her 2020 presidential bid. But rarely has Warren addressed such a crowd with such a symbolic backdrop.
The crowd — which exceeded 20,000 people, according to the Warren campaign — filled almost the entirety of the 10-acre (4-hectare) Washington Square Park, wrapping around a massive fountain and clogging the pathways that connect the street chess games to the classrooms of New York University to the giant marble arch the downtown park is best known for.
It was a younger audience, racially diverse and packed with women. One of the biggest applause lines of the night: “We’re not here tonight because of famous arches or famous men. In fact, we’re not here because of men at all.”
The event was set close to the site of the Triangle Shirtwaist Co. fire, which killed more than 140 workers in 1911.
She framed those deaths as the direct result of corruption. Many women died because factory owners neglected safety features to save money, with the implicit support of local elected officials who declined to intervene.
Warren charged that the same thing is happening today.
“Giant corporations have bought off our government,” she said.
Specifically, her anti-corruption plan would “end lobbying as we know it” by instituting a lifetime ban on members of Congress and White House Cabinet secretaries from ever becoming lobbyists. At the same time, corporate lobbyists would be blocked from working for the federal government.
Both practices are common today.
She also would prohibit federal judges from avoiding misconduct investigations by leaving their posts, prevent courts from sealing settlements in public health and safety cases and ban class-action waivers for all cases involving employment, consumer protection, antitrust and civil rights.
And taking direct aim at issues involving the Trump administration, Warren would require candidates for public office to post their tax returns online. Presidents, Cabinet secretaries and members of Congress would also be prohibited from owning businesses on the side.
Trump, of course, has refused to release his tax returns years after promising to do so, and the Trump organization continues to do business around the world.
“Donald Trump is corruption in the flesh,” Warren said. “He is sworn to serve the people of the United States, but he serves only himself and his partners in corruption.” Warren noted, however, that Trump is only a symptom of the corruption that has infected the US political and economic systems.
Warren has long argued that the nation’s modern government only works for “the wealthy and the well-connected” like big energy, health care and insurance companies that employ lobbyists to advance their priorities over the best interests of ordinary citizens.
She wrote that popular policies championed by the Democratic Party’s progressive wing — and many in its crowded field of presidential hopefuls — like universal child care, an overhaul of the federal criminal justice system, gun reform and plans to promote affordable housing have been “stymied because giant corporations and billionaires who don’t want to pay taxes or follow any rules use their money and influence to stand in the way.”
Warren’s campaign noted that she already proposed a series of anti-corruption measures in Congress last year, but it says the proposal released Monday goes farther.
Warren has emerged as a central player in the broader fight for the direction of the Democratic Party in the age of Trump.
Like her Democratic rival Bernie Sanders, Warren is demanding transformational change that Trump and his allies deride as socialism. Warren and Sanders are up against Democratic front-runner Joe Biden, a favorite of the party’s establishment wing.
Warren didn’t identify any of her Democratic opponents by name.
She noted, however, that “too many politicians in both parties have convinced themselves that playing the money-for-influence game is the only way to get things done.”
Warren doesn’t participate in high-dollar fundraising events as a 2020 candidate, though she did before launching her presidential campaign.
On Monday, looking out at the swelling crowd, Warren noted that she typically takes selfies with everyone who wants one at her events.
“Tonight is a little something different,” Warren said.