Tanks a lot: Germany wins Strong Europe Tank Challenge

Leopard 2A6 tanks helped Germany win the Strong Europe Tank Challenge 2016! (Image: US Army/public domain)

Leopard 2A6 tanks helped Germany win the Strong Europe Tank Challenge 2016! (Image: US Army/public domain)

Sure, Germany may have come last in the Eurovision Song Contest but at least other countries know to watch out on the battlefield. That's because Germany came out on top in the 2016 Strong Europe Tank Challenge!

The competition was hosted in Bavaria by the US Army and the German Bundeswehr as an opportunity to train and show off the firepower of six NATO nations. 

Tank crews are tested in categories such as vehicle identification, battle damage assessment, mounted orienteering, camouflage and dealing with improvised bombs. 

Germany's Mountain Panzer Battalion 7, Panzer Brigade 12 were the top team using the Leopard 2A6 - a model which improves upon the Cold War-era Leopard 2. The United States failed to gain a place on the winner's podium.

“It was challenging, but it was a lot of fun,” said German tank commander Staff Sgt. Tim Walter, according to Stars and Stripes. “We’re all happy... we worked so hard for this.”

Meet the manga girl singing for Germany's honour at Eurovision 2016

It's Eurovision time again! The song contest where practically every country in Europe (plus Australia, for some reason) competes in a live television musical extravaganza. 

Singing for Germany tonight is Jamie Lee, whose song 'Ghost' is slick, tame but interesting enough. Weirdly, she's dressed like a Japanese manga creation, despite the lack of any oriental style to the song. 

Lena Meyer-Landrut proved simple, catchy pop songs can breakthrough the camp craziness of the Contest when she won Eurovision for Germany in 2010

Can Jamie do the same? Judge for yourself by watching her performing 'Ghost' below! Don't worry if you're not in Europe, the grand final will be broadcast worldwide online from 9pm Central European Time.



Jan Böhmermann slams RTL in his comeback show

Satirical superstar Jan Böhmermann used his first show after the Schmähkritik scandal to stir up more trouble among the establishment. 

This time his target was trash TV in the form of RTL's Schwiegertochter Gesucht ('Wanted: Daughter-in-Law'). The dating show puts presenter Vera Int-Veens on the case of 'hopeless' romantics who are desperate to find love. The trouble is, many of the candidates are down on their luck and aren't always fully aware of how the show will depict them.

Böhmermann saw satirical fruit ripe for the picking and so planted two actors in the programme. Using hidden cameras, it was revealed that participants in the show only get €150 compensation for up to 30 days of contracted filming and that producers stage interviews to depict them as ridiculous.

Perhaps worse, they ignored the seemingly alcoholic tendencies of one Böhmermann mole.

For years, satire in Germany was simply standing on stage and saying mildly offensive things about German politicians in a tradition known as Kabarett. Now, with Jan Böhmermann, satire has finally grown up by adhering to television's golden rule: don't just tell us, show us. 

Watch his Schwiegertochter Gesucht feature below (in German):

Here's why calling Turkey's president a "goat f-er" can land you in German prison

Image: Wikimedia / kremlin.ru

Image: Wikimedia / kremlin.ru

The president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has once again tried to meddle with press freedom in Germany. Not satisfied with pursuing prosecution for comedian Jan Böhmermann's slanderous satirical poem under an outdated German law from the Kaiserzeit, Erdoğan has now tried to silence commentary about the poem itself. 

The CEO of Axel Springer, which publishes some of Germany's most popular newspapers, came out in defence of Böhmermann's poem. In an open letter published in Welt am Sonntag, Mathias Döpfner said he stood by the star's words, noting that the piece from the Neo Magazin Royale TV show was intended to be extreme in order to prove a satirical point. 

"That's about as original and meaningful as accusing a Formula 1 carmaker that his cars are too fast," Döpfner said. "If I understood it correctly, the whole point of your poem was to be tasteless, primitive and insulting."

Shortly after the letter was printed, Erdoğan submitted an injunction request to stop Döpfner repeating some of the phrases used in the poem. This request was rejected on freedom of expression grounds. 

Yet the same relief has not been awarded to Jan Böhmermann, who faces prosecution for 'insulting a foreign leader', a law which German politicians are already scrambling to scrap. It comes with a maximum sentence of five years behind bars. While it's extremely unlikely Böhmermann would face such serious consequences if he were prosecuted, the threat of jail is enough to make any writer think twice. Journalists speak of a 'chilling effect' whenever their freedom of expression is seen as under threat due to heavy-handed regulation or an easily-offended foreign leader with lawyers on retainer. 

In fact, damage has already been done. Clearly, Erdoğan is not content with chasing after journalists 1,800 times in Turkish courts since 2014, so much so that he has to threaten writers and broadcasters in other countries too. 

The argument put forward by the president's lawyer in Germany, was that the first article of Germany's Basic Law (constitution) guarantees the right to "human dignity" above all else, including freedom of expression. 

Article One was created as a reaction to the humiliation Nazi Germany imposed on jews and other minorities, which viewed them as sub-human. It is not a tool by which foreign leaders should run from criticism, as if it were "the right not to be offended". 

Both the Böhmermann and Döpfner cases were preceded by a diplomatic spat over a song about the president for the comedy show Extra 3 and journalists have recently been thrown out of Turkey or banned from entering, including ARD's Volker Schwenck under the pretence of "security". After this latest twist, German journalists will be asking themselves whether to avoid writing about Erdoğan, so to avoid legal consequences. It's unacceptable that a foreign leader should be allowed to intimidate Germany's press.