Posts by Marc Young

  • Mike Bloomberg takes public innovation initiative to Europe

    Marc Young at Yahoo News 1 yr ago

    The billionaire businessman turned politician came to Berlin on Thursday to support the work of his Mayors Challenge initiative, which encourages municipal officials to come up with fresh ideas that can improve the lives of urban denizens everywhere.

    “I believe cities are the solutions to most of mankind’s problems,” Bloomberg told representatives from 21 European cities gathered in the German capital to vie for 9 million euros ($11.8 million) from his philanthropic foundation.

    “It’s about whether the garbage gets picked up and the kids are educated,” Bloomberg said. “State and federal governments are too far removed from the day-to-day issues.”

    After making the cut from an initial 155 cities, the participants of the two-day workshop in Berlin hope to hone their proposals for the final round of a competition designed to spark innovation in the normally stodgy public sector.

    Private money for public projects

    “Governments don’t innovate because you can’t spend the public’s money without knowing what the result will be. People will complain if you try to innovate,” explained Bloomberg. “That’s the great thing about private philanthropy — you can prove it works first.”

    Space to take risks

  • Cold War kids Merkel and Putin square off over Crimean crisis

    Marc Young at Yahoo News 1 yr ago

    BERLIN - Could a fateful meeting between a doughty physicist, a steely ex-KGB agent and a slobbery black Labrador retriever hold the key to defusing Ukraine’s Crimean crisis?

    As Russia’s de facto annexation of the Black Sea peninsula threatens to plunge Europe towards a new Cold War, focus has shifted to the tetchy ties between two leaders whose earliest political experiences were forged as the Iron Curtain crumbled: Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin.

    With the United States and Europe struggling to come up with a response to Moscow’s Ukrainian land grab, the German chancellor is considered one of the few world leaders the Russian president will deign to hear out – even if he dislikes what she’s saying.

    “Merkel’s personal rapport with Putin has never been very good,” Dr. Susan Steward, a Russian expert at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, told Yahoo News. “But their relationship is still professional and not unproductive.”

    That’s largely because Germany remains Russia’s most important European economic partner, with last year’s trade balance of €76 billion roughly split between exports from both countries.

    Related video:

  • U.S. spying on Merkel sparks scorn and bugged-phone jokes in Germany

    Marc Young at Yahoo News 2 yrs ago

    BERLIN - Henry Kissinger once famously quipped that he wished he had a single telephone number for Europe. Apparently, the National Security Agency’s creative solution to the problem was to make it unnecessary to call at all.

    This week, revelations that the NSA had tapped German chancellor Angela Merkel’s personal cell phone sparked a major diplomatic kerfuffle, spurring Merkel to call President Barack Obama to demand an explanation as Berlin summoned the American ambassador to lodge a formal protest.

    As the alleged U.S. spying continued to make waves on both sides of the Atlantic on Friday, the affair was also spawning a plethora of bugged-phone jokes and general derision in Germany.

    Though Obama has been getting his share of the ridicule, much scorn is being directed at Merkel and her apparent outrage over the breach of privacy. That’s because many Germans feel Merkel too blithely put aside concerns about widespread NSA surveillance, largely giving Obama a free pass on the matter during his visit to Berlin in June.

    “Basically, everybody always hears the same thing from me,” she told reporters.

  • More Merkel: The upshot of the German election

    Marc Young at Yahoo News 2 yrs ago

    BERLIN -- People across crisis-weary Europe looked toward Germany on Sunday, as Chancellor Angela Merkel won re-election in a landslide. The victory cements her position as the most important leader in the European Union and the most powerful woman in the world.

    Merkel’s popularity secured her conservative Christian Democrats their best result in 23 years (41.5 percent), as voters gave her credit for steering Germany away from the economic troubles affecting much of the rest of the continent.

    “It was a strong vote to take responsibility in Germany, but also in Europe and the world,” the 59-year-old Merkel said at a press conference in Berlin on Monday.

    Those developments, along with the rise of an upstart party skeptical toward Europe (more about that in a moment) were among the biggest surprises in an election campaign Merkel dominated from the start.

    Her strong electoral mandate makes Germany’s chancellor central to resolving Europe’s economic crisis and a crucial partner for achieving President Barack Obama’s foreign policy aims.

  • Germans favor 'Mommy' Merkel as crisis-battered Europe faces vote

    Marc Young at Yahoo News 2 yrs ago

    BERLIN — Many Germans believe Angela Merkel deserves to be re-elected for shielding them from economic crisis. But for millions of Greeks, Spaniards, Irish and other Europeans, Merkel is the crisis.

    Poised to win a third term on Sunday, Germany’s chancellor remains immensely popular at home. But elsewhere in Europe, Merkel has become synonymous with the draconian austerity measures she has insisted are necessary to solving Europe’s festering sovereign debt problems.

    “Many Spanish are really feeling the cuts. We’re having German policies forced upon us,” Daniel Correa, a 33-year-old Madrid resident, told Yahoo News. “Spain’s economy is totally stagnant. And austerity won’t get it going again.”

    Normally, Correa would have to stand by and watch as German voters go to the polls Sept. 22 to elect a new parliament. But the crisis has inspired him to take part in an unusual project encouraging Germans to give their vote to citizens of particularly hard hit member states of the European Union.

    “I’m European with all my heart,” she said with uncharacteristic passion. “Sometimes politics is about reaching people’s hearts.”

  • Syria crisis exposes rifts in U.S.-German ties

    Marc Young at Yahoo News 2 yrs ago

    BERLIN — Angela Merkel may not personally like Vladimir Putin very much, but the German chancellor is surely pleased the Russian president’s diplomatic efforts have temporarily averted U.S. plans for a military strike against Syria.

    Constrained by Germany’s jingoistic past and a looming election, the leader of the largest country in the European Union has been decidedly reluctant to follow President Barack Obama’s call for a robust response to the apparent use of chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war.

    And Merkel’s aversion to getting involved in the conflict has exposed rifts in the transatlantic alliance by often leaving Berlin seemingly more in agreement with Moscow than Washington.

    “Is Germany drifting away from the West? There’s an interesting shift in thinking in Berlin,” Hans Kundnani, the editorial director of the European Council on Foreign Relations, told Yahoo News.

    “There’s a small glimmer of hope that diplomacy and politics will be given a chance. We must make use of this,” said Merkel on Wednesday at a campaign rally ahead of the German election on Sept. 22, according to the DPA news agency.

  • The view of Obama’s Berlin visit from the street

    Marc Young at The Ticket 2 yrs ago

    Editor's note: Marc Young is a Berlin-based freelance journalist covering President Barack Obama's visit for Yahoo News.

    Ever since John F. Kennedy made his legendary “Ich bin ein Berliner” address almost 50 years ago to the day, Berlin has been a place to which  U.S. presidents come when they have something important to say.

    In 1963, JFK set down a marker that America would not yield West Berlin to the Soviets just two years after the Berlin Wall had been built. And Ronald Reagan made one of his most memorable speeches in the still-divided city in 1987, demanding that Mikhail Gorbachev tear down that very same Cold War barrier.

    Keenly aware of the gravitas a Berlin visit can lend, Barack Obama as a presidential candidate in 2008 made a passionate plea for a better world to a huge crowd of 200,000.

    Now leader of the free world, President Obama gave an eagerly awaited foreign policy address in front of Berlin’s symbolic Brandenburg Gate on Wednesday morning. But with the entire center of the German capital on lockdown for the duration of his whirlwind 24-hour visit, Obama will have little opportunity to mingle with Berlin’s denizens.

    5:05 p.m. at the Victory Column


  • Obama loses German hearts and minds ahead of Berlin visit

    Marc Young at The Ticket 2 yrs ago

    Editor's Note: Marc Young, an American journalist based in Berlin, is covering President Barack Obama's visit for Yahoo News.

    BERLIN—When Barack Obama last visited Berlin back in 2008, Constanze Fröhlich felt like she was part of history.

    “He was about to become the first black president—I wanted to support that,” the 35-year-old university researcher told Yahoo News. “It was really amazing so many people were there.”

    Back then, in a surprising outpouring of Teutonic affection for Obama, a euphoric crowd of 200,000 turned up to hear the Democratic presidential contender speak in the German capital.

    “People of the world: Look at Berlin, where a wall came down, a continent came together, and history proved that there is no challenge too great for a world that stands as one,” he told the rapturous masses. “This city, of all cities, knows the dream of freedom.”

    But five years later, Germany’s love affair with the U.S. president has gone cold.

    “I thought it was great that he became president. But there’s more distance now. He’s been consumed by daily politics,” said Fröhlich.

  • Is Edward Snowden hiding in the wrong country?

    Marc Young at The Ticket 2 yrs ago

    Editor's Note: Marc Young is an American journalist based in Berlin. He is covering President Barack Obama's visit to Germany for Yahoo News.

    BERLIN—While NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden recently went underground in Hong Kong, he could have chosen from countless of locations in Germany, including my own home, that simply don’t exist—at least not online.

    Germans take their data protection extremely seriously—making their country perhaps the worst possible place for President Barack Obama to visit this week in the aftermath of Snowden’s exposure of the National Security Agency’s massive surveillance program.

    The NSA affair threatens to overshadow what was meant to be a pleasant visit for both Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel following the G8 summit in Northern Ireland. Obama plans to mark the 50 th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s historic “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech, while Merkel is looking for a presidential photo-op just three months before an election.

    My missing home is just one example of how strongly Germans feel about protecting their online identities.