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Is the pope his brother's keeper?

VATICAN CITY — The two Ratzinger brothers have always stood together. They were both ordained as Catholic priests the same day in the same small German town where they came of age. And they both rose up through the German hierarchy of the Catholic Church, with Joseph eventually joining the Roman Curia and elevated as Pope Benedict XVI, and his brother Georg Ratzinger named a Monsignor.

Meet the fat cats' defender: Josef Ackermann

BERLIN, Germany — Most of Wall Street's “fat cats” seem resigned to silently taking their lumps as politicians follow President Barack Obama's lead in lashing big business on behalf of “Main Street." In Germany, by contrast, one voice has rung out most clearly during the fallout of the financial crisis — and it belongs to a “fat cat” banker with a penchant for the status quo.

Carnival: When Cologne expresses its difference

COLOGNE, Germany — Prior to this past weekend, I'd not yet seen residents of any German city gather densely by the thousands in a central square for the purpose of sharing a sincere, if awkward, communal dance to live a capella music. And though Berlin, where I make my home, offers plentiful tableaux of young people lined up outside of clubs, shivering to stay warm while they wait to enter, I'd never, prior to last week, had the opportunity to see that sort of anonymous line transform spontaneously into a swaying, singing conga line.

Opinion: Greek debt crisis a hazard for EU

WASHINGTON — The Greek membership of the eurozone has never been easy. While other EU countries either adopted the euro or chose not to do so, Greece was the only EU country that wanted to join the common currency area at the outset, but could not. The Greeks were keen to jettison the drachma because of their past experience with inflation and devaluation. Giving monetary authority to the European Central Bank would eliminate those two problems.

Germany: How to fight neo-Nazis?

BERLIN, Germany — The government of the state of Bavaria has said it will soon request that Germany's highest courts ban the country's largest far-right party, the National Democratic Party (NPD), for subverting the tenets of the national constitution. It's a policy that is popular among most of the public, and has earned backing from both of the country's major parties. But it's also a course of action that most political elites acknowledge has little chance of success.

Poor, Poor Europa

At each stage of the seemingly endless expansion and integration of the European Union, the world is promised a more rational system will be installed for important functions like foreign policy, trade and setting interest rates. Yet each expansion added primarily fog to these processes, and now a crisis looms that may for the EU to look its hydra-headed self squarely in the mirror.

The US-Germany divide on Iran

BERLIN, Germany — A narrative has attached itself to the American "carrot-and-stick" policy toward Iran, the broad outlines of which go something like this: With Iran failing to bargain in good faith over its nuclear program and China refusing to back meaningful penalties through the United Nations Security Council, the United States and Europe are going to be left on their own with the task of imposing sanctions that are tough enough to persuade Iran to change its behavior.

How the industrial Ruhr Valley became a Cultural Capital

ESSEN, Germany — Before the age of globalization rudely consigned its identity to the trash heap, Germany's Ruhr Valley was Germany's industrial heartland, synonymous with coal mines, steel mills and a proud blue-collar work force. When global trade marginalized the region's production, and its labor unions more often found themselves on the dole than on the night shift, the Ruhr's problems were more than economic — they were existential.

Europe's airport security dilemma

BRUSSELS, Belgium — When the Obama administration ordered airport security ramped up after the December bombing attempt aboard an Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight, it allocated a billion dollars in federal funding for that effort. 

Photos: Snowboarding in snow-covered Berlin

BERLIN, Germany — For most Germans, the blizzard that hit the country over the weekend was a true nightmare. Hundreds of flights were canceled and airports and highways were closed. At the French border trucks were delayed for hours. On the Baltic Sea, some car drivers found themselves stranded in the snow overnight, and the Red Cross intervened to provide them with blankets and warm drinks until the police could reach them. The government declared an emergency and instructed the population to stock up on basic supplies for up to four days.
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