Sex abuse scandal in German Catholic Church sparks celibacy debate

GERMANY

German bishops have begun meeting in Fulda to discuss a study on widespread sex abuse by Catholic priests. Some are calling for celibacy to be overhauled, while others want the church to focus on victim compensation.

    
A priest holds his hands together in prayer (picture-alliance/dpa/A. Weigel)

German Cardinal Reinhard Marx opened a widely-anticipated meeting of the Bishops’ Conference on Monday by saying that the issue of sexual abuse had reached an “important turning point for the Catholic Church” both in Germany and beyond.

“I feel we have reached a turning point about the issues such as prevention and the treatment of victims, but also about how the Church will deal with its own future,” Marx said in the German town of Fulda.

The bishops are due to discuss a large-scale study on sex abuse on Tuesday. The “Study on the Sexual Abuse of Minors by Clergy,” commissioned by the German Bishops’ Conference in 2014, were published on September 11 in the German newspaper Die Zeit and the magazine Der Spiegel. The study has already prompted severe reactions in Germany.

On Monday, Cardinal Marx told the bishops: “We must do more: listen, understand and take appropriate measures.”

‘Shameful’

Many bishops have expressed their shock and described the numbers as “shameful.” Commenting on the revelations, Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck wrote of a “great failure” by the church: “Above all, this includes the alarming indications that some concepts and aspects of our Catholic sexual morality, as well as some power and hierarchical structures have facilitated and are still facilitating sexual abuse.”

Overbeck, the Bishop of Essen, has given the most forthright description yet of the impact unleashed by a report into sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

Over 70 members of the Bishops Conference are due to make an official comment after discussing the study in Fulda.

According to reports currently available, the investigation covers the period from 1946 to 2014 in Germany, and for the first time specific numbers are given: 3,677 victims of sexual assaults by at least 1,670 accused, the overwhelming majority of them priests. The total number of assaults is presumably exponentially greater. It’s also impossible to say how many cases went unreported. The investigation didn’t even look into all the Catholic Church’s institutions: Religious orders, along with all the schools and children’s homes they run, were not included.

Watch video01:53

Church abuse highlighted in German media leak

‘Radical self-criticism’

Overbeck intends to take the experts’ recommendations extremely seriously on behalf of his diocese. He says the church must “truly take a new path,” for the sake of the victims. The Bishop of Passau, Stefan Oster, has also called for a “radical form of self-criticism with regard to the institutions.”

Read more: Opinion: Pope Francis and the Catholic Church’s moral bankruptcy

The church will also need to face up to the discussion about topics like changes in sexual morality, or the abolition of celibacy. It’s not clear what concrete steps the German bishops meeting in Fulda will decide to take: Whether, for example, they will also propose reconsidering the way priests are trained, the issue of celibacy, or the current practice according to which priests generally live alone in a parsonage.

For a long time now there has been argument within the church in Germany about the obligation for priests to remain unmarried. The sexual abuse scandal has reignited the discussion. A celibacy debate could tear the Catholic Church apart. But perhaps the impetus for reflection about the obligation to remain celibate is not in fact coming from academic reflection or long conferences of German bishops, but from the other side of the ecclesiastical world.

Read more: Australian archbishop sentenced for sex abuse cover-up

Initiative from the Amazon

The Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes recently gave an interview to DW in which he talked about the ministry among the indigenous people of the Amazon. The Catholic Church has only 38 bishoprics in the whole of the vast region of Brazil, meaning that there are limits to how the church is able to work there. “We need a different model of clergy,” said the 84-year-old, who for a long time was the prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy in the Vatican. “In this context, we must also consider the obligation to remain celibate.”

Claudio Hummes (AFP/Getty Images)Cardinal Hummes has called for priest celibacy to be reconsidered

Matthias Katsch, the founder and spokesperson of the survivors’ association Square Table Foundation (“Eckiger Tisch”) takes a critical view of this. He himself was the victim of sexual violence at the Canisius-Kolleg, a Jesuit school in Berlin, and for several years now he has been active in calling for the abuse issue to be properly addressed. “Catholics from both the right and left of the spectrum have been debating these questions of the church’s structure for what feels like half a century,” he told DW. This, he said, was “right and important,” but not, as far as he is concerned, the main issue.

“In my view, what is important is that those affected should now be offered help quickly, and that there should finally be compensation that feels like compensation, commensurate with the damage that was done.” The crucial thing, he says, is “that the focus is now on the victims.” Katsch himself, incidentally, believes that the key issue with abuse is not celibacy but the distribution of power within the church.

Matthias Katsch stands outside a Jesuit school building in Berlin (picture-alliance/dpa/Stephanie Pilick)Matthias Katsch outside a Jesuit school building in Berlin

From Fulda to Rome

Rome could take this as a signal. A few days ago, it became clear that Pope Francis intends to discuss the subject of abuse in February with the heads of all the Bishops’ Conferences worldwide. Australia, Chile, France, the Philippines, the Netherlands, Germany — more and more countries are reporting a stream of cases of sexual violence perpetrated by men of the church.

Matthias Katsch, the survivors’ spokesman, has very specific expectations of the meeting in February. The pope, he says, should invite not only the heads of the Bishops’ Conferences but the victims as well. “There is hardly a single country in which the Catholic Church is active where there has not been sexual violence by clerics against children and young people,” he says. “It would therefore send the right signal — that the church is finally prepared to listen, and not always to have answers to the questions already.”

Each evening at 1830 UTC, DW’s editors send out a selection of the day’s hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.

COURTESY: DW

France orders last private migrant ship to ‘nearest safe port’

Operators of the Aquarius 2 has announced it is bringing 58 migrants to the French port of Marseilles. The rescue ship has been repeatedly turned away by Italy and forced to stop in Malta and Spain in recent months.

    
French NGO SOS Mediterranee chiefs Sophie Beau and Francis Vallat (Reuters/C. Hartmann)

The French government wants the ship Aquarius 2 to take the migrants picked up off the coast of Libya to “the nearest safe port” rather than continue its journey to the southern French port of Marseilles.

The ship — run by SOS Mediterranee and Doctors without Borders (MSF) — has 58 migrants on board. Currently near the Libyan coast, it is the last private rescue vessel operating along the trafficking route in the central Mediterranean.

France has repeatedly said that under international law, rescue ships saving people at sea must dock at the closest port. The United Nations says Libya — where armed militias have fought for influence and control since 2011, when an uprising evolved into a civil war — does not qualify as a safe place for rescued migrants.

European solution

France’s government spokesman, Benjamin Griveaux, tweeted that the solution will come from “cooperation with our European partners.”

Benjamin Griveaux

@BGriveaux

L’humanité, c’est de faire accoster le navire dans le port le plus proche et le plus sûr. C’est par la coopération avec nos partenaires européens que nous apporterons une solution. Ne tombons pas dans le piège que certains nous tendent. @canalplus

SOS Mediterranee said on Monday its “only option” was to head to Marseilles where the NGO is headquartered.

“We alerted other countries but we find it hard to imagine that France would refuse, given the humanitarian situation,” said the NGO’s head of French operations, Francis Vallat.

“For the past two years, European leaders have claimed that people should not die at sea, but at the same time they have pursued dangerous and ill-informed policies that have brought the humanitarian crisis in the Central Mediterranean and in Libya to new lows,” said MSF’s head of emergencies, Karline Kleijer, in a statement.

This year, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), at least 1,730 migrants have died in the Mediterranean Sea while attempting to reach Europe.

Read more: Aquarius migrant ship has registration revoked 

Troubled waters

The future of the Aquarius rescue mission is uncertain after Panama said on Saturday it had begun procedures to remove the ship’s registration after Italy complained that the vessel’s captain failed to follow orders.

“We never did anything which was not authorized by Italian authorities,” Vallet told reporters during a news conference on Monday. He asked European countries to “find a solution, whatever it is. We can’t stop. We don’t want to stop. We will only yield to force and constraint.”

In June the Aquarius was forced to sail a further 700 nautical miles (1,296 kilometers) through the Mediterranean with more than 600 migrants on board to the Spanish port city of Valencia after it was denied a safe harbor by Italy and Malta.

Italy’s populist interior minister Matteo Salvini, who campaigned on an anti-immigrant platform, accuses the Aquarius of offering a “taxi service” to Europe for migrants in Libya.

Salvini has made good on an election promise by forbidding NGO ships carrying refugees to dock in Italy’s ports. Malta says it can’t handle large numbers of migrants.

Read more: Outcry as Italy’s Salvini submits draft anti-migrant decree

kw/kms (AP, AFP)

Each evening at 1830 UTC, DW’s editors send out a selection of the day’s hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.

COURTESY: DW

Florence pummels the Carolinas

LIVE UPDATES

By Brian RiesVeronica RochaMeg WagnerPaul P. Murphy and Eric Levenson, CNN

Updated 2 hr 51 min ago11:19 p.m. ET, September 15, 2018

PlayMuteMute

Current Time2:04
/
Duration Time2:04
Loaded: 0%

Progress: 0%

Fullscreen

JUST WATCHED

Here’s what’s next for Tropical Storm Florence

Here’s what’s next for Tropical Storm Florence

NOAA

LIVE UPDATES

Florence pummels the Carolinas

By Brian RiesVeronica RochaMeg WagnerPaul P. Murphy and Eric Levenson, CNN

Updated 2 hr 41 min ago11:19 p.m. ET, September 15, 2018

Share

2 hr 41 min ago

13,000 US soldiers assigned

The US Army is committing troops to help with Hurricane Florence recovery efforts, providing soldiers and engineers, as well as planes and amphibious vehicles.

More than 13,000 service members have been deployed to provide support in affected areas, from the US Army and the National Guard as well as teams from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Army is also freeing up 4,500 cots, 200 medical beds and 18 water purification systems.

In a news release the US Army said it was also supplying:

  • Over 70 rotary wing aircraft plus another 200 additional aircraft available within 24-72 hours if necessary.
  • Approximately 30 watercraft and 3,000 Army High Water Vehicles from Fort Stewart, Georgia; Fort Drum, New York; and Fort Campbell, Kentucky for ground search and rescue, commodities distribution, citizen transportation, and patient movement.
3 hr 9 min ago

Hurricane death toll rises to 13

Two more deaths in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence were recorded in Horry County, in South Carolina, late Sunday, taking the total toll from the storm to 13. The latest deaths involve a man and woman who died from carbon monoxide poisoning, according to the SC Department of Public Safety.

Here’s how the numbers break down:

10 in North Carolina

  • A 41-year-old woman and her seven-month-old son died in Wilmington on Sept. 14 when a tree fell on their home.
  • A 68-year-old man in Lenoir County died when he was electrocuted while plugging in a generator on Sept. 14.
  • A 77-year-old man in Lenoir County fell and died due to a cardiac event while outside checking on dogs during the storm on the night of Sept. 13/14.
  • An 81-year-old man in Wayne County fell and struck his head while packing to evacuate on Sept. 14.
  • A husband and wife died in a house fire in Cumberland County on Sept. 14.
  • Duplin County has had 3 fatalities due to flash flooding and swift water on roadways.

3 in South Carolina 

  • A 61-year-old woman lost her life when her car struck a tree that fell down during the aftermath of Hurricane — she’s been named as Mrs. Amber Dawn Lee from Union County.
  • Two fatalities occurred when a man and woman died in Horry County due to carbon monoxide poisoning, according to the SC Dept of Public Safety.
5 hr 56 min ago

Update: Over 732,000 customers without power in the Carolinas

According to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, there are  704,483 statewide power outages. Electric cooperatives of South Carolina report 28,328 outages.

That brings the total number of customers without power to 732,811 across both states.

5 hr 29 min ago

Lumber River in North Carolina now at 17.6 feet

From CNN’s Cassie Spodak

Corey Walters, City of Lumberton deputy director of public works, tells CNN the Lumber River is currently at 17.6 feet. When the water reaches 26 feet, it is projected to overwhelm the barriers and flood the nearby communities. The area has already been put under a mandatory evacuation order.

There is flooding “everywhere in the city… the rescues are non-stop,” Walters said, adding that there have been “hundreds of rescues.”

“This is our worst-case scenario,” Walters said.

The deputy director said city has received 19 inches of rain since the start of Florence and it is projected to get over 25 inches total.

6 hr 47 min ago

Hurricane baby born after parents flee North Carolina

From CNN’s Dakin Andone

As Florence battered the Carolina coast, one couple who evacuated their home in New Bern, North Carolina, welcomed a baby girl.

Rachel and Levi English left the state to seek refuge at a relative’s home in Pennsylvania, and it wasn’t long after arrived that baby Matilda made her entrance.

Read more here.

6 hr 52 min ago

Death toll rises to 11

Florence has killed at least 11 people in both North Carolina and South Carolina, officials from both states have reported. Duplin County, North Carolina, has had 3 fatalities due to flash flooding and swift water on roadways, according to the Sheriff’s Office, bringing the state’s storm-related deaths to ten people.

North Carolina’s Chief Medical Examiner’s office has details on the 7 deaths in that state:

  • 41-year-old female and her seven-month-old son died in Wilmington, NC, when a tree fell on their home
  • 68-year-old male in Lenoir County, NC, who died when he was electrocuted while plugging in a generator
  • 77-year-old male in Lenoir County, NC, who fell and died due to a cardiac event while outside checking on dogs during the storm
  • An 81-year-old man in Wayne County, NC, who fell and struck his head while packing to evacuate
  • A husband and wife died in a house fire in Cumberland County, NC

In South Carolina, Governor Henry McMaster released the name of the woman who died.

  • Amber Dawn Lee, 61, from Union County, SC, died when her car struck a tree that fell down during the aftermath of Florence, according to a South Carolina Office of Emergency Management official
3 hr 16 min ago

Man arrested for allegedly looting in North Carolina

A man was arrested for allegedly looting an Exxon gas station and convenience store in Wilmington, North Carolina, on Saturday, according to the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office.

New Hanover Sheriff@NewHanoverSO

NHSO has just arrested a man for looting the Exxon Store at 810 N College Rd. Sheriff McMahon said if you break into someone’s home or business we will arrest you!

From the New Hanover Sheriff’s twitter account:

“If you break into someone’s home or business, we will arrest you!”

 

7 hr 24 min ago

NOAA Satellites show Florence’s slow march inland

NOAA Satellites

@NOAASatellites

The center of is still slowly making its way across eastern South Carolina, as seen by . Heavy rains and catastrophic flooding persist across parts of the Carolinas. Latest: http://go.usa.gov/xPgvE 

NOAA says in a tweet:

“The center of #Florence is still slowly making its way across eastern South Carolina, as seen by #GOESEast. Heavy rains and catastrophic flooding persist across parts of the Carolinas.”

7 hr 29 min ago

Hazardous situation near Lumber River in North Carolina

From CNN’s Polo Sandoval

The situation is quickly growing more dangerous for people in the low-lying areas near the Lumber River in Lumberton, North Carolina.

The message below was sent out by the Robeson County PIO.

“ALL SHELTERS ARE OPEN. St Pauls High School, Purnell Swett High School, Lumberton High School, Fairmont Middle. Please evacuate NOW if you are living in a low-lying area or your home is flooding. Please share this important!!!!!”

7 hr 34 min ago

1 additional storm-related fatality in North Carolina

Duplin County, North Carolina, has had three fatalities due to flash flooding and swift water on roadways, according to the sheriff’s office.

This brings storm-related fatalities to nine. Eight people have died in North Carolina while one person died in South Carolina.

7 hr 32 min ago

Trump and Pence receive update on storm at the White House

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence receive an emergency preparedness update call on the impact of Hurricane Florence in the Treaty Room of the White House.

8 hr 56 min ago

The Lumber River is rising faster than officials expected

From CNN’s AnneClaire Stapleton

The water in the Lumber River is rising faster than officials in Lumberton, North Carolina, expected, Corey Walters, City of Lumberton deputy director of public works, tells CNN’s Cassie Spodak.

It’s estimated the water is now close to 15 feet — flood stage is 13 feet.

The city has spent the last 24 hours frantically trying to build up a barrier in a gap in the levee system here, where a train track runs under I-95, that helped lead to the devastating flooding after Hurricane Matthew, he said.

Lumberton public information officer Emily Jones told CNN the water is rising faster than expected and has already reached 14 feet. It is expected to reach 24 feet by lunch time tomorrow.

There is no mandatory evacuation but residents in the low-lying areas that were flooding during Hurricane Matthew should leave now.

8 hr 40 min ago

Out-of-state travelers should avoid driving through NC, DOT says

From CNN’s Keith Allen and Greg Wallace

People wait in line to fill up their gas cans at a gas station that was damaged when Hurricane Florence hit the area, on September 15, 2018 in Wilmington, North Carolina.

North Carolina Department of Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon is asking out-of-state travelers to avoid driving through North Carolina, as much of the state is dealing with rising flood waters from Florence.

“We could see this for several days,” Trogdon said at a Saturday press conference. “This is what we need to do today to make sure motorists are safe in North Carolina.”

“Stay off the roads in most parts of North Carolina,” NC Governor Roy Cooper echoed. “All roads in the state are at risk of floods.”

All lanes of Interstate 95 are closed in both directions between Exit 81 near Raleigh-Durham and Exit 65 near Godwin, due to flooding, according to NC DOT.

While a portion of Interstate 95 near Dunn, North Carolina, is expected to re-open tomorrow, NC DOT anticipates additional closures in the Fayetteville area, near the Cape Fear River. Those closures could last a week.

Drivers from neighboring Georgia and Virginia are being asked to use alternative routes, NC DOT says.

Detours for through traffic have been established. Here’s a hotline for navigation assistance: 1-833-786-7618.

10 hr 1 min ago

Water Rescues completed in the city of New Bern

The City of New Bern has completed all of its water rescues, the city posted on its official Twitter account.

City of New Bern@CityofNewBern

We have completed all of our water rescues & want to sincerely thank all of the volunteers who helped us save lives. You rock! We couldn’t have done it without you! If boaters are looking to help, pls reach out to other communities who might still have needs.

According to CNN meteorologists, as of Friday evening, New Bern had already seen more than 10 feet of storm surge and likely more than 10 inches of rain, and hundreds of people had to be rescued.

As of Saturday morning, 100 remained waiting for help.

New Bern, home to approximately 30,000 people, sits about 37 miles northeast of Jacksonville, North Carolina, on the banks of the Neuse River. Thursday, a CNN team in the area watched as the water spilled over the edge of the river and flooded Union Point Park in a matter of hours.

12 hr 6 min ago

Fayetteville police warn everyone within a mile of the river to evacuate

Residents of Cumberland County, the city of Fayetteville, and the town of Wade, have been ordered to evacuate as officials fear rising river waters will lead to widespread flooding.

“All residents within one mile of the banks of the Cape Fear and Little River should leave IMMEDIATELY,” the police department tweeted, as the city’s communications director told CNN “the worst is yet to come.”

“We’re starting to see the waters rise rapidly. It’s something we’ve seen before with hurricane Matthew. It’s going to be a little bit worse this time around,” Kevin Arata said.

“What we’re telling people is the worse is yet to come. Really the rains are starting to collect because it’s hitting harder up north. When it goes into those banks or tributaries up there and then comes down, that’s where trouble starts. While we haven’t seen it rise all the way yet, it’s going to happen here in the next 24 to 48 hours,” he said.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Fayetteville Police

@FayettevillePD

*****MANDATORY EVACUATIONS*****

There is a mandatory evacuation in place for citizens of Cumberland County, City of Fayetteville, and the town of Wade. All residents within one mile of the banks of the Cape Fear and Little River should leave IMMEDIATELY

12 hr 24 min ago

The Carolina coast has at least 12 more hours of rain to go

Play Video

Florence is traveling westward, but it’s not done dumping rain on the Carolina coast.

CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar said some coastal areas of North and South Carolina should prepare for another 12 hours of rain — or more.

“That question of when does it finally end is on a lot of folk’s minds. The problem is for the majority of them, you still have at least probably a good 12 hours to go, if not longer,” she said.

That’s because Florence is moving at a speed of about 2 mph. That’s slower than most people walk.

“You could probably walk faster than this storm has been moving. The good news is it is still moving,” she said.

12 hr 47 min ago

1 dead in South Carolina

From CNN’s Chuck Johnson

A 61-year-old woman died in South Carolina when her car hit a tree that fell in Hurricane Florence, according to South Carolina Office of Emergency Management spokesman Antonio Diggs.

Diggs said the woman was driving in Union County on Friday but did give any additional details.

This is the first death reported in South Carolina linked to the storm. Five people have died in North Carolina:

  • A mother and her infant child died in Wilmington after a tree fell on their house, the city’s police department said.
  • In the town of Hampstead, a woman in cardiac arrest was found dead after emergency responders found their path blocked by downed trees, assistant county manager for Pender County, said.
  • Two men in Lenoir County also died: One who was hooking up a generator and another who was checking on his dogs outside.
12 hr 53 min ago

More than 150 blood drives were canceled because of Florence

The American Red Cross says more than 150 blood drives have been canceled through early next week in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia because of Florence.

Those cancelations will result in more than 4,400 uncollected blood and platelet donations, the organization said.

“We need platelet blood donations now, and in the coming days, to recover the donations canceled by the storm,” the Red Cross said in a statement.

The organization is encouraging residents in unaffected areas to donate blood to help.

13 hr 11 min ago

North Carolina governor: If you’re safe, stay put

Florence is unloading “epic amounts of rainfall,” North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said in a press conference Saturday.

“The flood danger from this storm is more immediate today than when it made landfall 24 hours ago,” he said.

Cooper also offered advice for residents:

  • “If you are safe, stay put. We know that people are anxious to get back home. But don’t go back until this storm passes and you get the official all clear.”
  • “Water is rising fast everywhere, even in places that don’t typically flood. Many people who think that the storm has missed them have yet to see its threat.
  • “Remember, most storm deaths occur from drowning in fresh water, often in cars. Don’t drive across standing or moving water.

On top of the advice, Cooper shared some words of hope and inspiration.

“We in North Carolina have been through tough storms and this one is sure testing us,” he said. “But now is the time for us to persevere. I have never known North Carolinians to quit in the face of a challenge and we’re not about to start.”

Watch more:

CNN Newsroom

@CNNnewsroom

NC Governor Roy Cooper’s advice to those affected by Tropical Storm Florence:

– “If you are safe, stay put”

– “Know that the water is rising fast, everywhere”

– “Many people who think that the storm has missed them, have yet to see its threat” http://cnn.it/2My4tGr 

13 hr 24 min ago

These are the top wind speeds recorded across North Carolina

A volunteer rescue truck drives underneath a fallen tree in New Bern, North Carolina.

The National Weather Service is tracking wind speeds across North Carolina.

Here’s a look at some of the peak gusts recorded across the state:

  • New River inlet: 112 mph
  • Fort Macon: 105 mph
  • Wilmington International Airport: 105 mph
  • Cape Lookout: 97 mph
  • Cedar Island: 89 mph
  • Cherry Point: 87 mph
  • Jacksonville: 86 mph
  • Frisco Woods: 80 mph
  • Ocracoke: 80 mph
14 hr 2 min ago

How the government is responding to Florence, by the numbers

From CNN’s From Greg Wallace and Lauren Fox

Officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency just gave an update on how they’re handling Florence. They said they believe they have adequate supplies including meals and generators.

Here are the latest numbers FEMA provided:

  • 6,500 National Guard have deployed. Another 2,900 active duty are also standing by.
  • 7,500 Coast Guard have deployed.
  • 43 helicopters are in use, and the Coast Guard is beginning to conduct flights to assess damage and the situation on the ground.
  • The military has 1,300 high-water trucks working and available in the region.
  • The Army Corps of Engineers has 120 generators available in the region and more are on the way.
  • US Health & Human Services has 560 personnel deployed, mostly assisting individuals at shelters with their health care needs.
  • The one number we don’t have? There’s no cost estimate from FEMA for this storm. However, “This is going to be a costly storm,” officials said.
14 hr 7 min ago

Almost 1 million customers without power in the Carolinas

More than 960,000 power outages have been reported in North and South Carolina due to the storm.

809,665 power outages have been reported in North Carolina. 155,097 power outages have been reported in South Carolina.

That’s 964,762 customers total without power.

But keep in mind: These numbers reflect the customers without power, not people. A lot of those customers might have multiple people in their households, meaning the number of people without power could be even higher.

14 hr 30 min ago

These are the rain totals across North Carolina (from reporting stations that didn’t break in the storm)

From CNN’s Judson Jones

Parts of North Carolina have seen more than two feet of rain. The city of Swansboro alone has gotten more than 30 inches — which breaks the all-time record for rainfall in a tropical system in the state of North Carolina.

Here’s a breakdown of the top rain fall reports across the state. But note: These are only from stations that are still reporting. It’s unclear how many stations broke during Florence.

  • Swansboro: 30.58 inches
  • Hofmann: 25.87 inches
  • Newport/Morehead City: 23.75 inches
  • Emerald Isle: 23.49 inches
  • Elizabethtown: 20.17 inches
  • Croatan: 19.89 inches
  • Cedar Point: 19.25 inches
  • Mount Olive: 16.80 inches
  • Jacksonville: 16.13 inches
  • Kinston: 16.01 inches
14 hr 38 min ago

South Carolina official: We’re expecting flooding next week

From CNN’s Paul Vercammen

Horry County spokesperson Kelly Brosky said her South Carolina county has some localized flooding but is otherwise doing pretty well. That might change soon though.

“We anticipate more serious flooding next week,” she said.

For now, the situation seems to be under control. There aren’t any major road closures and officials are getting crews on the field to focus on fallen trees and power restoration.

About 87,000 people are without power, and 2,700 people are in shelters, Brosky said.

15 hr 9 min ago

Florence is about 40 miles away from Florence, South Carolina

From CNN’s Judson Jones

Tropical Storm Florence now has maximum sustained winds of 45 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

It’s still crawling westward across South Carolina at just 2 mph, which is about as fast as you walk.

“Heavy rains and catastrophic flooding continue across portions of North Carolina and South Carolina,” the service said in an update.

Of note: Florence is about 40 miles south of Florence, South Carolina.

15 hr 14 min ago

All the ponies on this North Carolina island survived the storm

All of the ponies on North Carolina’s Ocracoke Island are safe, the National Park Service tweeted.

Even the pony pen remained intact.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore

@CapeHatterasNPS

We are happy to announce that all of the Ocracoke ponies are safe and that the pony pen did not sustain any damage from Hurricane Florence.

Horses were first documented on Ocracoke Island when European colonists settled there in the 1730s. Since then, they’ve been a major part of its history.

We’re not sure how wild horses in other areas are doing, but we’ll keep you posted here as soon as we learn more. Ahead of the storm, experts suggested that North Carolina’s wild horses would be OK.

Meg Puckett, herd manager of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, said the ponies were built to weather storms like Florence.

“These horses have been here centuries,” she told CNN earlier this week. “They are probably better equipped to handle this kind of weather than anybody else on the Outer Banks right now.”

15 hr 21 min ago

2 deaths reported this morning are not actually storm-related, officials say

From CNN’s Chuck Johnston in Atlanta

Two deaths characterized this morning by North Carolina’s Carteret Office of Emergency Services as being “storm related” are not related to Florence, according to the Sheriff’s Department in Carteret County.

On Friday, the Carteret County Sheriff’s Department responded during active hurricane conditions to investigate the reported deaths of residents there, according to a release from the Sheriff’s Department.

A preliminary investigation confirmed the deaths of couple Pauly and Alicia Lewis to be murder-suicide, according to a statement from the department.

Carteret County Emergency Services spokeswoman Amanda Tesch says there are no storm related deaths in the county.

The death toll for Florence stands at 5 people.

  • A mother and her infant child died in Wilmington after a tree fell on their house, the city’s police department said.
  • In the town of Hampstead, a woman in cardiac arrest was found dead after emergency responders found their path blocked by downed trees, assistant county manager for Pender County, said.
  • Two men in Lenoir County also died: One who was hooking up a generator and another who was checking on his dogs outside.
15 hr 32 min ago

This is the most rain North Carolina has ever seen during a tropical system

From CNN’s Brandon Miller

Florence has dumped 30.58 inches of rainfall in Swansboro, North Carolina.

This breaks the all-time record for rainfall in a tropical system in the state of North Carolina.

The previous record was 24.06 inches, and it was set during Hurricane Floyd in 1999.

And remember: This number — and all rain totals — are preliminary and subject to change.

15 hr 53 min ago

FEMA: This storm isn’t over. There’s still a lot of rain to come.

Jeff Byard, with FEMA’s Office of Response and Recovery, urged residents along to Carolina coast to stay vigilant as Florence begins to move away from the area.

While the storm’s winds may be weakening, water — in the form of heavy rainfall, flash flooding and storm surge — is still a concern.

“Wind can hurt you,” Byard said at a Saturday morning news conference. “It is the water, it’s the surge, it’s the rain that … can kill you more than the wind can.”

Water has accounted for more than 75% of all hurricane-related fatalities in the US from 1963 to 2012. Wind, on the other hand, is only responsible for 8% of all deaths.

“There’s a lot of rain to come. There’s a lot of rain that’s fallen,” Byard said.

Watch more:

Play Video

16 hr 13 min ago

North Carolina is still bracing for possible flooding

While Tropical Florence is starting to move away from North Carolina, its effects aren’t over. Many communities are bracing for flooding.

CNN’s Polo Sandoval is reporting from Lumberton, North Carolina.

“The real threat could still be ahead for many communities, because all of that water has to go somewhere,” Sandoval said.

He continued: “Many people here believe that the worst could still be ahead. Yes, they were spared the wind damage, but the floodwaters — that could still be in their future.”

CNN Newsroom

@CNNnewsroom

“The real threat could still be ahead … all that water has to go somewhere,” says @PoloSandovalCNN in Lumberton, North Carolina, where communities face a serious risk of flooding after Tropical Storm Florence http://cnn.it/2NhOsJW 

15 hr 38 min ago

100 people still need to be rescued from one North Carolina city

About 100 people in New Bern, North Carolina, still need to be rescued from the floodwaters brought on by the storm, the city’s mayor Dana Outlaw told CNN.

Rescuers have already plucked about 400 people out of the waters since Friday afternoon.

The city has seen more than 10 feet of storm surge and likely more than 10 inches of rain as of Friday evening, according to CNN meteorologists.

New Bern is home to approximately 30,000 people and sits about 37 miles northeast of Jacksonville, North Carolina.

16 hr 51 min ago

You could walk as fast as Florence is moving

From CNN’s Judson Jones

Tropical Storm Florence is moving at 2 mph. That’s about as fast as you could walk.

Since making landfall yesterday in North Carolina, Florence has only moved about 100 miles. That is an average of just about 4 mph for 24 hours.

For comparison: The average speed for an Atlantic hurricane at Florence’s latitude is 16.9 mph.

Why the speed matters: Florence’s slow crawl is why the flooding has been — and will continue to be — catastrophic. As the storm continues to slowly move west, it is close enough to the coast to pick up moisture and energy from the ocean (therefore allowing extreme feeder bands of rain to continue to pour over the same saturated areas of South and North Carolina).

17 hr 10 min ago

Meanwhile, rescues from a super typhoon are under way in the Philippines

From CNN’s Gianluca Mezzofiore


Aquino Lord, who shot the video before rushing to help the rescue team, said the team was able to get him out safely.

“The man in the video is safe,” he told CNN. “He attempted to pass across the flowing water but he failed. He is from our neighboring Barangay. At the moment that this incident happened, we were not yet there. We just came to help.”

17 hr 21 min ago

At least seven dead in North Carolina

From CNN’s Chuck Johnston

Two people in Carteret County, North Carolina, have died due to the storm, according to the Carteret County Office of Emergency Management Services.

Officials say the Carteret County Sheriff’s Department will release additional details this morning.

This brings the total storm deaths to seven people.

  • A mother and her infant child died in Wilmington after a tree fell on their house, the city’s police department said.
  • In the town of Hampstead, a woman in cardiac arrest was found dead after emergency responders found their path blocked by downed trees, assistant county manager for Pender County, said.
  • Two men in Lenoir County also died: One who was hooking up a generator and another who was checking on his dogs outside.
15 hr 57 min ago

President Trump approves North Carolina’s disaster declaration

President Trump has approved a disaster declaration for eight North Carolina counties, the White House said in a statement Saturday.

The approval makes available federal funding, which can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low cost loans to cover uninsured property losses as well as other aid both for homeowners and business owners.

The counties included in the declaration are:

  • Beaufort
  • Brunswick
  • Carteret
  • Craven
  • New Hanover
  • Onslow
  • Pamlico
  • Pender
17 hr 40 min ago

A tree fell into this North Carolina man’s bedroom (and missed hitting him by 3 feet)

From CNN’s Gianluca Mezzofiore

A North Carolina man went to sleep during Florence — and woke up to tree branches in his bedroom.

Harry Mathias III said his father was sleeping in his New Bern home when a tree came crashing through the ceiling.

“About an hour after he fell asleep, a piece of drywall came in from the ceiling woke him, along with the rest of us, with a loud bang,” he told CNN. “After taking a look we realized rain water was coming in and tree branches were coming in from the attic.”

He added: “If the tree had fallen about 3-4 more feet, it would have crushed my father to death.”

Despite the harrowing experience, Mathias said he dad went out to cut up other fallen trees in the rain, just 10 hours afterward.

Here’s the footage:

Shaboom Banana@ShaboomBanana


Tree in my dad’s bedroom. ~New Bern, NC

18 hr 1 min ago

Here’s where Florence is now and where it’s heading next

The National Hurricane Center just released it’s latest forecast advisory for Tropical Storm Florence. It has maximum sustained winds of 50 mph, and it’s moving westward at 2 mph (that’s a walking pace).

The storm is expected to travel northwest through South Carolina today and tomorrow morning. After that, it will keep curving to the north, the latest potential track shows.

Here’s the latest projected path:

18 hr 18 min ago

It’s been 24 hours since Florence hit

It’s officially been 24 hours since the eye of hurricane Florence made landfall on the coast of North Carolina yesterday.

While Florence has since been downgraded to a tropical storm, it still packs a powerful punch. It is expected to hover over the Carolinas today, dumping tons of rain, and flash-flooding is still possible. (Remember water — not wind — is the deadliest storm hazard).

Here’s what has unfolded in the 24 hours since Florence made landfall:

  • Flooding for miles: Up to 40 inches of rain and storm surges pushing water inland will produce catastrophic flash flooding, the National Hurricane Center says.
  • Water rescues: There have been hundreds of rescues specifically in the city of New Bern, North Carolina. 
  • Rising rivers: Rivers in North Carolina are expected to crest higher than during 2016’s Hurricane Matthew in some areas, emergency officials said.

Watch more:

Play Video

17 hr 32 min ago

It’s morning on the East Coast. Here’s what you need to know about the storm.

Florence, now a tropical storm, is hovering over South Carolina after making landfall as a Category 1 hurricane yesterday morning. Here’s what to expect today:

  • Florence’s effects: The storm will continue to trigger “life-threatening, catastrophic” flash floods in North and South Carolina, south-central Virginia and West Virginia in the coming days, the US National Weather Service said in a tweet on Saturday morning.
  • The victims: At least five people have died in the storm, including an infant. 
  • Power outages: Nearly 950,000 customers are without power in the Carolinas
  • Where it’s going: Forecasts show Florence traveling westward through South Carolina today. Tomorrow, it will begin to turn north.
18 hr 56 min ago

More than 780,000 people are without power in North Carolina

North Carolina Emergency Management says 786,769 customers are without power statewide.

The good news? This is approximately 3,000 less power outages than reported late last night.

19 hr 7 min ago

Here’s what’s next for Tropical Storm Florence

19 hr 28 min ago

Family trapped in Florence floodwaters kept hearing people screaming for help

Volunteers from the Civilian Crisis Response Team help rescue three children from their flooded home in James City, North Carolina.

Annazette Riley-Cromartie and her family decided against evacuating their home in eastern North Carolina after noticing that the massive storm appeared to be weakening.

“It came in slowly, but then it steady kept rising,” Riley-Cromartie told CNN.

The family quickly retreated to higher areas of the house but then heard the unmistakable sounds of people crying out for help.

“You just keep hearing people yelling, and you can’t do anything,” Riley-Cromartie said. “It’s the worst feeling in the world.”

Read the full story behind their rescue here.

19 hr 43 min ago

Storm knocks out power to nearly 781k in NC

At least 780,964 residents in North Carolina have been left without power around the state, according to North Carolina Emergency Management.

The highest concentration of outages are in Brunswick, New Hanover, Carteret, Cumberland, Johnston, and Robeson counties, the agency tweeted.

Volunteers from all over North Carolina are helping rescue residents from their flooded homes in New Bern, North Carolina.
20 hr 1 min ago

Officials release latest weather forecasts

Tropical storm Florence will continue to trigger “life-threatening, catastrophic” flash floods in North and South Carolina, south-central Virginia and West Virginia in the coming days, the US National Weather Service said in a tweet on Saturday morning.

NWS WPC

@NWSWPC

[UPDATE: 530 AM Saturday] Here is the latest information on the life-threatening, catastrophic flooding from Florence.

Separately, the US National Hurricane Center also warned of storm surges as the extreme weather event continues to lumber inland.

National Hurricane Center

@NHC_Atlantic

Tropical Storm continues to cause catastrophic flooding in portions of North and South Carolina.

20 hr 21 min ago

In photos: Florence’s trail of devastation

Storm surges, punishing winds and torrential rain are turning some towns in the Carolinas into rushing rivers.

Volunteers from all over North Carolina help rescue residents and their pets from their flooded homes on Friday.
Hundreds of trees have collapsed after water-logged soil could no longer bear the weight.
Broken from their moorings, boats are wrecked against a railroad bridge that crosses the Neuse River.
20 hr 34 min ago

What a rescue crew saw when then-Hurricane Florence made landfall

New Jersey Emergency Management posted a video on their official Twitter account of the moment then-Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina.

The footage was captured looking out of the front of one of their high-water vehicles and shows the heavy rain lashing the surroundings as the road ahead begins to flood.

NJOEM

@ReadyNJ

Early morning views from one of our high water vehicles as made landfall in North Carolina.

Are you prepared for hurricane season? Visit http://ready.nj.gov  today!

20 hr 47 min ago

More than 165k without power in South Carolina

In South Carolina, the storm has knocked out power to more than 165,000 homes across the state, according to a tweet from South Carolina Emergency Management on Saturday morning.

The organization also warned people to use flashlights rather than candles and never to use a generator inside their residences.

SCEMD

@SCEMD

More than 165,000 households are without power across SC due to . If you lose power try to use flashlights instead of candles. Never use a generator inside your home or garage. Keep it more than 20 feet away from your home, doors, and windows for safety.

21 hr 2 min ago

Rescuers work to save people from rising water

Lieutenant Mitchell Ruslander and his team from Swift-water rescue have been working around the clock to help residents caught in the storm.

“We were out all night last night actually cutting holes in people’s roofs because the water levels rose so high, so quick,” he tells CNN.

“It’s just way more than I expected … Absolute worst is the flooding.”

An area in downtown Wilmington, North Carolina, usually meant for street parking and relaxing on park benches is inundated by water from the swollen Cape Fear River.

And although the hurricane has been downgraded, he warns that people shouldn’t get complacent and immediately assume that they can return home. He suggests that residents who evacuated continue to monitor the storm.

“It’s going to take several days for all of this water to go away,” he adds.

21 hr 7 min ago

Two deaths reported from Typhoon Mangkhut

From journalist Jinky Jorgio and CNN’s Jo Shelly and Alexandra Field in Santiago, Philippines

A woman holds her umbrella against the heavy rains pounding Manila on Saturday.

As Florence continues to release a deluge upon the Carolinas, another massive storm is wreaking havoc in Southeast Asia.

Two people have died in the hours since Mangkhut made landfall, according to the Philippines’ national disaster agency.

Ricardo Jalad, Executive Director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said two first responders were found dead in the Cordillera Administrative Region on the island of Luzon.

Jalad also reported 51 landslides across the region as a result of the storm.

Read more on Typhoon Mangkhut here.

Salisbury poisoning suspects’ story: What doesn’t add up?

After the UK identified two men wanted for the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, they went on TV to claim their innocence, saying they only visited Salisbury to admire its Gothic architecture. But several things don’t add up.

    
Petrov and Boshirov in Salisbury (picture-alliance/Met Police UK)

The men claiming to be Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov, suspected of the attack on double agent Sergei Skripal in the southern UK city of Salisbury, denied any wrongdoing at their television debuton RT on Thursday.

The UK believes the two to be operatives of the Russian military intelligence agency GRU. Last week, investigators published mugshots and CCTV images of the two men, putting them near Skripal’s home at the time of the poisoning. Traces of the agent Novichok have also been found in the room the two men stayed in in London, according to the investigators.

On Thursday, the pair denied the allegations from London and claimed to have had no knowledge of Skripal at the time of their visit to Salisbury. They also said they traveled to “wonderful” Salisbury as tourists.

DW takes a closer look at what the two suspects said.

1. Stealthy ‘businessmen’

During the interview, Petrov and Boshirov claim to be “middle men” dealing in nutritional supplements, fitness, and health foods. Entrepreneurs in this industry usually advertise their services far and wide, including via an extensive social media presence. However, searching for their names on social networks gives scant results. While there are online accounts of people named Ruslan Boshirov, none of them indicates any link with fitness or other supplements.

2. They spent more time traveling to Salisbury than staying there

Petrov and Boshirov spend a bit over two days on UK soil, arriving in London from Moscow on the afternoon of Friday, March 2, and leaving late on Sunday. They made two trips to Salisbury, once on Saturday and once on Sunday. The Russian nationals say their friends recommended them to visit Salisbury and “enjoy its Gothic architecture.”

Petrov and Boshirov during the RT interview (Reuters/RT)The two suspects refused to do an interview in a TV studio and talked to RT’s Margarita Simonyan in her office instead

However, with the snowfall causing traffic disruptions on Saturday, the two men reportedly spent more than two and a half hours traveling from their London hotel to Salisbury train station. They only stayed there for about two hours. In the interview, the men say that they only walked around for less than an hour before getting soaked, giving up, and going back to the train station for a coffee.

Their second trip to Salisbury took almost four hours on Sunday, and they stayed for about the same length of time. This time, they apparently managed to see the famous Salisbury cathedral.

3. Visiting the cathedral, missing out on Stonehenge

Speaking of the Salisbury cathedral, Petrov and Boshirov very precisely cited its height and provided facts about its medieval clock, as if reading them from Wikipedia. They also said they wanted to see the world-famous Stone Age monument Stonehenge, but decided against it due to the bad weather.  However, the weather in Salisbury was much better on Sunday, and Stonehenge was open to visitors.

Watch video02:29

UK charges two Russians in Novichok poison case

4. Russians afraid of British winter

Petrov and Boshirov explain their short stays in Salisbury with the bad weather – slush and snow. While the UK did suffer a snowstorm in early March, many Western observers ridiculed the claim that two Russians were deterred by the UK’s chilly climate. While the temperature in Salisbury only reached 5 degrees Celsius (41 degrees Fahrenheit) on Saturday, it was still 12 degrees Celsius warmer than in Moscow. By Sunday, it was 9 degrees in Salisbury, and the snow had melted almost everywhere, which CCTV images showing Petrov and Boshirov clearly shows.

Read morePutin says Skripal poisoning suspects are ‘civilians’

5. To the cathedral, via the Skripal house

The Salisbury Cathedral is only a 15-minute walk from the local train station, heading northwest. However, the two took exactly the opposite route, moving southeast – directly to Sergei Skripal’s neighborhood. A CCTV camera recorded them at a petrol station minutes away from his house. UK investigators believe they applied Novichok to his door handle. Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a park bench in the city center later that day.

Read more: Novichok came in ‘expensive’ looking perfume bottle

Watch video00:59

Yulia Skripal: ‘We are so lucky to have both survived’

Confusion also persists around the UK’s claims that that the names Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov are merely aliases, and separate reports that they had traveled under specially issued passports.

Ahead of the interview, according to the RT’s editor-in-chief, Margarita Simonyan, the men established their identity by showing her regular Russian IDs, but refused to show their passports or provide any detail on their places of origin, families, or place of work beyond the vague description of “fitness industry.” The reason, according to the men, is that they are afraid for their safety and reluctant to provide the press with any more “fuel.”

COURTESY: DW

A massive sheet of rock sloughed off a cliff onto vacationers at a Greek island

Rock slide causes waves of damage in Greece

At least one person was injured when a section of a cliff collapsed on the Greek island of Zakynthos on Sept. 13. 

September 13 at 3:28 PM

One moment, tourists were sunning themselves in the sand of Shipwreck Beach, or taking in the massive rock formation while bobbing in the remote cove in western Greece.

Then there was an “almighty cracking sound,” in the words of one vacationer, as a section of limestone broke off from the cliffside. The ensuing landslide rained rocks on terrified tourists and caused a large wave that capsized small boats in what is usually a peaceful cove.

In all, seven people were injured in the hail of rocks, including a 34-year-old woman from the Czech Republic who suffered a fractured vertebra, according to the Associated Press. Two of her children and her husband were also treated for minor injuries.

The rock face apparently came down in three sections, collapsing in a mound in the cove that is only accessible by boat.

Lynette Bridges, a 58-year-old vacationer from Essex County, England, told the Evening Standard her boat had just pulled up to the beach when “we started to hear this almighty cracking sound and the first lot came down quickly followed by the second lot.”

“The noise and the sound and the amount of rock that came down was unbelievable,” she added.

Video from the scene showed tourists scurrying to escape the falling rock, then trying to check on briefly trapped loved ones or chasing after overturned boats.

Josh O’Connell, a 21-year-old Irish man who works for a tour company, told the newspaper there were more than 400 people in the area and more than a dozen tourist boats.

“The rock that fell, oh gosh, it would be like a four-story building falling onto the beach,” O’Connell said.

Fire department rescue crews scrambled to the beach in boats, bringing a sniffer dog to try to detect anyone who might have been trapped beneath the rubble.

A short time later, authorities told the AP, everyone who had arrived at the beach on tourist boats had been accounted for. None of the injuries were life-threatening.

For decades, Shipwreck Beach was best known for the crash of the MV Panagiotis, a ship that ran aground off the picturesque coast of Zakynthos in the fall of 1980.

Zakynthos is also featured in the South Korean drama “Descendants of the Sun,” which prompted savvy travel companies to start tours to the remote island, according to the Korea Bizwire.

On Thursday, authorities cordoned off the beach as they worked to determine whether there was any more danger from falling rock.


People enjoy Shipwreck Beach on the western island of Zakynthos, Greece, on Sept. 8, 2017. On Thursday, a landslide at the popular tourist destination resulted in multiple injuries. (Petros Karadjias/AP)

Read more:

People thought this iconic Oregon rock formation fell on its own. Then a video emerged.

‘He hurt the heroes’: The Iraq War veteran who lied his way to a Purple Heart and $750,000

They met on a dating site and went bowling. It was a setup, police say, and now he’s dead.

This couple didn’t tip their Latina server. They left a hateful message instead.

By signing up you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

Lehman Brothers: Looking back at the basics

BUSINESS

The demise of Lehman Brothers shook the finance world and had enormous knock-on effects globally. Even those who had never heard of the investment bank were impacted. Ten years on, we answer some fundamental questions.

    
Lehman Brothers headquarters in New York City

The collapse of the US investment bank, Lehman Brothers, 10 years ago was a shock that still reverberates today. It was itself an escalation of the financial crisis that started a year earlier and its massive repercussions cannot be downplayed. “The crisis shook the foundations of the Western financial system,” says Axel Weber, the former president of Germany’s central bank, the Bundesbank, and current chairman of Swiss banking giant UBS.

What led to the bankruptcy?

Like many other banks, Lehman Brothers was hit by the real estate crisis that had been going on for well over a year. On September 10, 2008, Lehman CEO Richard Fuld announced a loss of $3.9 billion (€3.3 billion) for the third quarter. This increased worries about insolvency; soon all trust was gone.

Read moreCentral banks and the question of independence

Despite hectic negotiations a buyer for the bank could not be found and the only way out was declaring bankruptcy. On September 15, 2008, the bank filed the necessary paperwork.

Was the bankruptcy really a surprise?

Just a short time before the crash of Lehman Brothers, the then head of Deutsche Bank, Josef Ackermann, could not imagine such a thing happening. But politicians and the financial community were aware of their responsibility. At the time he said, “The collapse of a bank of this magnitude would lead to another wave of upheaval and thus to further losses and write-downs in probably all banks.”

Read more: Saving Deutsche Bank: A tall order

But the political pressure was great and after saving three banks there was little appetite for another billion-euro rescue package. Looking back though, Hans-Walter Peters, president of the Federal Association of German Banks, said that was a mistake. “The bankruptcy of the bank triggered first a financial and confidence crisis and then a severe recession.”

Watch video26:03

Moving on? 10 years after Lehman Brothers

What were the direct consequences?

A crash of the financial markets. Because the banks could no longer rely on being saved by governments they were no longer willing to lend each other money in the short term as is customary in normal times. Many worried that the markets could dry up, so central banks pumped a lot of money into the markets worldwide. In the first few months of the crisis, the US and the six largest EU countries together provided €800 billion to support the financial sector.

In order to avoid a run on German banks, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and the then-minister of finance, Peer Steinbrück, gave a guarantee that bank deposits were safe. This, however, did not prevent the severe economic collapse that followed. Millions of people worldwide lost their jobs; in Germany 1.5 million jobs were saved only by reducing working hours and with it pay packages.

How were investors affected?

Around 50,000 investors had bought certificates from a Dutch subsidiary of Lehman Brothers. This money was lost even though the securities had been sold as safe investments. But they were not the only victims of the bankruptcy. Consumers and savers are still paying the bill. Today, bank deposits hardly earn any interest, so savers need to save even more so that they can be financially secure in their retirement.

“These are repercussions that step over into the area of social policy,” says Michael Heise, chief economist at insurance and asset management giant Allianz. And that has serious consequences, but not only materially. Recently, this dissatisfaction has increased and manifested itself in the rising electoral success of populist parties throughout Europe.

Are the banks safer now?

In short, partially. The US government recapitalized its banks during the crisis and today they are once again in great shape, says Christoph Schalast, a professor at the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management. In Europe, however, the taxpayer should no longer be held hostage by banks in the event of a systemic crisis: “There were different strategies that led — especially in Germany — to a downsizing of the banks,” said Schalast.

At least Europe has created a single banking authority, though many banks say it regulates too much. “Many leading bank managers now act more like administrative managers, not entrepreneurs,” says Professor Dirk Schiereck, a banking expert at the University of Darmstadt.

Watch video04:00

Ex-Lehman analyst: Banker without a bank

Too little has happened, warns the economist Martin Hellwig. In order to stabilize the financial sector in the long-term, banks should be required to have a higher equity ratio. Occupy, a group of globalization critics, agrees and will protest again this Saturday the 10-year anniversary of Lehman’s collapse.

Did bankers really learn anything?

Many of those responsible at the time have moved on to other lucrative jobs. The then boss of Lehman, Richard Fuld, now works for the financial advisory firm Matrix Private Capital. Many others have also had soft landings. This Saturday they are reportedly meeting in London, not to ‘celebrate’ the bankruptcy of course, but to “cultivate the network,” as one of them said recently.

Are we safe from another crisis?

Today there are many risks like high real estate prices, increased sovereign debt — for example in Italy — and the currency crises in Turkey and throughout emerging markets. Hedge fund manager Steve Eisman, who was one of the first to bet on the demise of Lehman Brothers and made $1 billion in the process, sees substantial risks in cryptocurrencies, American car loans and in Tesla.

Last but not least, the current monetary policy is a risk, warns UBS Chairman Axel Weber: “Central banks would do some good if they slowly turned the system back towards normalcy. I see this happening very slowly and that in itself can be another risk to stability.”

COURTESY: DW

European Parliament approves controversial new copyright law in blow to tech firms

EUROPE

An alliance of tech giants and internet activists lost a battle against content creators seeking more protection for their work. The vote by European lawmakers to reform EU copyright law could redefine internet freedom.

    
Music apps

A multi-year battle that saw media organizations and creative individuals seeking content protection face off against against big tech and internet-freedom activists came to a head in Strasbourg on Wednesday, when the European Parliament voted to update copyright legislation for the age of content-sharing platforms.

MEPs voted 438-226 with 39 abstentions in favor of the EU Copyright Directive that is set to give more power to artists, news and traditional media companies as opposed to tech giants like Facebook, Microsoft and Google.

“This is a good sign for Europe’s creative industry,” said German MEP Axel Voss, who helped move the bill along through parliament.

MEPs voted on a range of conflicting amendments prior to the vote, making the make-up of the final draft law not immediately clear.

Two contentious articles

Two contentious proposals were at the heart of the drama: Article 11, which covers the rights of press publishers, would see newspapers, magazines and other such agencies receive a fee when content platforms link to their stories, so-called “neighboring rights”; and Article 13, which would hold content distributors like YouTube liable for copyright infringement committed on their platforms, an attempt to ensure content producers don’t get ripped off.

The law’s critics fear that Article 11 will be unworkable and Article 13 could lead to “upload filters,” or algorithms that would give tech giants control over what content appears on their platform, effectively censoring information. They warn that overly cautious algorithms could also ban content even when it does not breach copyright law, known as “overblocking.” They also warn of the cost that such a requirement would have for smaller publishing platforms.

Internet activists additionally worry that if the directive were to go through in its unaltered form, it would run counter to the web’s founding principles of free-flowing information — and, as the rap artist Wyclef Jean suggests, make it harder for people to find new culture and talent.

Artists on both sides

Since it was first proposed in 2016, the copyright directive has become a battleground for artists. Many want to stop internet platforms from freely hosting their content, and internet activists, who fear the vaguely-worded rules will crush freedom of expression on the internet.

Jean, a former member of American hip-hop group The Fugees, was present in Strasbourg on Tuesday ahead of the vote. As a musician, he unusually stands on the side of the tech giants and internet activists in the fractious debate that has generally pitched the tech giants against media organizations and artists.

Watch video00:46

Using Google to make music

“I’ve worked with so many young artists … who have sampled my music and succeeded,” Jean said in a press briefing on EU copyright at the European Parliament on Tuesday. “Upload filters or anything else that restricts this will stop artists from making and creating the future.”

Jean-Claude Moreau, chairman of the Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers of Music, which supports the reform, said artists would “prefer no directive to a bad directive.”

“Freedom means we have to respect also the authors … because the creators must [make] a living off their works,” Moreau said at a protest outside the European Parliament on Tuesday.

“We want the internet to be an accelerator, not a brake,” he added.

Watch video01:46

The most streamed music artists on Spotify

Former Beatles musician Paul McCartney has also been an outspoken supporter of the copyright reform, highlighting the “value gap… between the value these platforms derive from music and the value they pay creators.”

Last-minute amendments

On Wednesday, more than 200 amendments to the bill were discussed in a flurry of effort to find compromise between the demands of content creators and the rights of users.

“I think last time most members rejected the proposal because they were convinced Article 13 is bad and that it’s not a good idea to scan content prior to the upload,” said Tiemo Wölken, a German member of the European Parliament, who brought forth his own amendments.

“My idea is to say if a platform is performing actively — so, organizing and optimizing content to earn money — they are liable,” Wölken said. “And, if a right holder requests to conclude a license agreement with the platform, the platform has to enter into a fair an appropriate licensing agreement.”

Before existing copyright laws can be updated, however, the approved copyright law bill will now pass for approval to the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, and the leaders of the EU’s 28-member states.

Every evening at 1830 UTC, DW’s editors send out a selection of the day’s hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.

COURTESY: DW

%d bloggers like this: