Former Saxon Finance Minister Stanislaw Tillich was elected as the new chairman of the Saxon CDU at the CDU's state party conference in Zwickau with 97.7 percent of the vote. The 49-year-old replaces Georg Milbradt. Milbradt had announced his resignation six weeks ago in the wake of the near-collapse of Landesbank Sachsen LB and proposed Tillich as his successor as party leader and Minister President.

Politely, Osama Bin Laden addresses the American people: "I am going to talk about some important things that concern you. Therefore, please lend me your attention." Thus begins the head of the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda his message on the sixth anniversary of the attacks in New York and Washington on 11. September 2001. The "terror phantom" is putting on a downright "statesmanlike" act.

"We must show steadfastness in Iraq" In the video, he urges American citizens to convert to Islam if they want to end the war in Iraq. Bin Laden, unlike in the past, does not threaten attacks. US President George W. Bush promptly countered. The videotape is a reminder of how dangerous the Islamists are to the world. "We must show steadfastness in Iraq."It is the first video in three years in which bin Laden shows himself for 30 minutes with a beard dyed black. The "emir," as his followers reverentially call him, turned 50 in the spring, according to Interpol. He appears slightly battered and visibly aged in the new footage.

U.S. "on the losing track" In the video Bin Laden presents a tour d`horizon, which is politically, historically and also morally mixed. Of the U.S., he paints a picture of a nation "on the losing road. Although the Americans are militarily superior, they cannot win in Iraq despite "all moral arguments" "because in reality they are only following the interests of international corporations". The Americans would repeat in Iraq their mistakes from the Vietnam war and those of the Soviets from the Afghanistan campaign and "shirk the better judgment to give up". In his appeal to Americans to convert to Islam, Bin Laden even lists passages in the Koran in which Jesus and Mary are mentioned. CIA experts believe that bin Laden's new public appearance is primarily intended to document "that he is still the ideological leader of al-Qaeda," although the terrorist organization is no longer the "hierarchical cadre organization it was before the 11th century. September 2001 is". The terrorists now operate independently and "on their own" in many groups and cells. This has just been shown again with the new arrests of Islamists in Germany.

Signal for common departure

The Order of Malta is currently in a "transitional phase," according to its Grand Chancellor Albrecht von Boeselager. Expression for it is the election of a governor instead of a grand master for life.

East comes closer to west

More than 25 years after reunification, pensions in east and west are to be equalized. Improvements to the reduced earning capacity pension are also planned. But there are still a few steps to go before implementation.

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.

Preventing slipping into the abyss of history

The Patriarch of Moscow: Cyril I. © Sergei Chirikov

The Russian cleric Cyril I. Apparently sees the end of the world approaching. Humanity is in a "critical" phase, the church leader said Monday evening in Moscow, according to media reports.

The Federal Council has cleared the way for strengthening voluntary activities. On Friday, the state chamber approved a bill passed by the Bundestag to promote civic engagement in Germany with tax relief amounting to almost half a billion euros. For some politicians, however, this does not go far enough. – In addition, the discussion about a statutory minimum wage went into the next round.

Tax-free allowance in the amount of 500 Eu per year After that, the so-called exercise leader allowance will increase from 1848 euros to 2100 euros per year. In addition, a general tax allowance of 500 euros per year will be introduced for all persons who take on voluntary responsibility in associations. The expense allowance granted to them for this purpose should be tax-free up to an amount of 500 euros, without the need to present individual proof of this.The maximum limits for the tax deduction of donations of previously five and ten percent of total income will be raised to a uniform 20 percent. In addition, the maximum amount for endowment of foundations with capital should be increased from 307 000 euros to one million euros.The taxation limit for economic activities of non-profit corporations and the so-called special-purpose business limit for sporting events will also be raised from 30,878 euros to 35,000 euros in income per year. Debate about honorary office During the debate, Saarland's Minister President Peter Muller (CDU) called for improvements for volunteer caregivers. He pointed out that the number of people in need of care in Germany was rising. It is in the public interest that this additional care effort be carried out primarily by volunteer caregivers. The honorary active ones here may not be put worse than those, which exercise an honorary office in the sport or culture range.The Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Finance, Barbara Hendricks (SPD), said that it should be examined whether the new tax allowance of 500 euros could also be applied to voluntary caregivers. At the same time, it opposed the inclusion of people who take over the legal care of their parents in a tax allowance. Otherwise, they would first have to take 500 euros from the parents in order to be able to make them tax-free afterwards. One should therefore "consider the voluntary legal guardians outside the family circle, but not those within the family circle".

Beck campaigns in the Bundesrat for a statutory minimum wage Meanwhile, the SPD continues to press for a statutory minimum wage. The Bundesrat also discussed a corresponding legislative initiative by the SPD-led government of Rhineland-Palatinate. The state chamber also had before it motions for resolutions by the red-red Berlin Senate and the red-green state government of Bremen to introduce a statutory minimum wage of at least 7.50 euros per hour. The bills are now to be discussed further in the relevant Bundesrat committees.SPD chairman and Rhineland-Palatinate premier Kurt Beck said the question was whether the principle should be upheld that those who do good work full time should also be able to live on it. In Germany, he said, there are about 2.5 million full-time employees who receive less than half the average income. Although a considerable number of them have a professional qualification, they receive wages "on which one cannot live". Beck pointed out that this affects an above-average number of people in eastern Germany.

From the patriarch to the roma

Francis at Rome-Fiumicino airport © Gregorio Borgia

Less than four weeks after his visit to the Balkans, Francis travels to the land of the Carpathians. Here, too, he will take a look at Europe from the sidelines, promote ecumenism and celebrate liturgy in a different way, as he did when he was an altar boy.