With angela merkel into the ice age

The 2007 Cologne Rose Monday procession is to be bolder and more political than in previous years. "It is one of the main tasks of the carnival jester to hold up a mirror to the public," said train leader Christoph Kuckelkorn on Tuesday at the topping-out ceremony for the
99 pageantry and persiflage floats. Also the religion is not left out this year.

Last year, the Cologne Jecken had still imposed restraint on themselves because of the controversy over the Mohammed cartoons. Now, among other things, the parade float of the "Schnusse Tring" society takes a clear stand: Here, Christian fundamentalism in the U.S. is just as much a block on the leg of world peace as fundamentalism in the Middle East. On the same float, Bible, Torah and Koran stand side by side in harmony. And the carnival society, whose name recalls a legendary and particularly quick-witted Cologne maid, points out that the word peace can be found in all three holy books.In general, international politics has been playing a greater role in the "Zooch" for several years again. This is how the Cologne revellers rejoice at the birth of a male heir to the throne in Japan. During the presidential campaign in France, the Gallic rooster faces a boxing-glove-armed hen for the first time, which was implemented quite convincingly with a lot of cardboard, paint, wire and plywood.German conditions are also critically commented on during the procession, which is about seven kilometers long. The very first persiflage float pays homage to the "Pirates of the Caribbean" with a bitter reckoning with job cuts in the Cologne region. The original Cologne characters Tunnes and Schal are sent over the "compensation plank" by a nasty pirate captain. The names Bayer, Gerling and Allianz on the skull and crossbones of the pirates are a reminder of job losses.Another float shows well-heeled managers rejoicing over success bonuses and rising stock prices, while workers hold the de-longing papers in their hands. Also the value added tax increase and the release of the store opening times provide for mockery on the Persiflagewagen.Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) finds herself several times in the Rosenmontagszug. In a black-red-gold bikini, she wants to lure procrastinating Germans to take the plunge into the "reform pool". In the style of the hit movie "Ice Age," she also appears as the notoriously hapless squirrel Scrat, who has to fight with Franz Muntefering (SPD) over the thaw in the grand coalition government. And finally, it gazes unenthusiastically at the gas tap being turned by Russian President Putin. Ex-Chancellor Gerhard Schroder (SPD) sat down on the valve with well-filled pockets.Otherwise, the Cologne float builders focus on local themes. The cathedral city's popularity with Chinese tourists is made fun of, as are the enervating subway construction sites. A recurring theme is the rivalry with Dusseldorf. While the Neanderthal from the state capital is already failing at walking upright, his Cologne neighbor has long since succeeded in inventing the "Flonz" (Rhenish blood sausage). Cologne also solves the doping problem with aplomb. Where other cycling professionals resort to chemistry, the Rhinelander only has to suck on the "Pittermannchen" (small barrel of Kolsch).ddp correspondent Markus Peters

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