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Europe

German Press Review: Brave New Digital World

German papers on Wednesday commented on the opening of the computer trade fair CeBIT and a German Supreme court decision to strike down a federal ban on breeding dangerous dogs.

On the day of the opening of the annual German computer trade fair CeBIT, German editorials reflected on the state of affairs in the computer industry. The CeBIT neither glitters nor shines anymore – that’s the somewhat sober verdict of Der Tagesspiegel in Berlin. But now that both visions and depressions are being wiped away, the path is open to take a look at the changes brought into people's lives in recent years by mobile phones and the Internet, Laptops and digital cameras, the paper noted. At the height of Internet euphoria everyone believed that the new medium would radically alter people's lives – but luckily that hasn’t occurred, wrote the paper.

The message of this year’s CeBIT is clear, stated the Handelsblatt in Düsselorf: In order to compete on a global scale, enterprises would be well-advised to outsource their hard- and software, because computer companies could provide much cheaper solutions drawing on the help of Indian or Chinese IT-specialists. But as plausible as that sounds, it might be useful to rethink this piece of advice, suggested the paper. After all it was the same computer industry which once claimed that Internet and e-business would radically alter the laws of the business world. But things developed differently, concluded the paper.

Other German dailies comment on a supreme court decision to end a federal ban on breeding dangerous dogs such as pit bulls or Staffordshire terriers while prohibiting their import. In the summer of 2000 politicians were destitute but yet determined to do something to protect society from dangerous dogs, recalled the Kölner Stadtanzeiger. The supreme court decision now reveals equal helplessness, the paper wrote. The court disclaimed lists of dangerous races, charging they were unscientific and lacked statistical evidence, while at the same time contending these lists were nonetheless justifiable. With its verdict, noted the Cologne-based daily, the court has failed to take the opportunity to find a new path to contain excess in dog breeding.

Some editorials looked at the aftermath of the Madrid bombings. The Spanish election results don’t have to be a victory for the terror network al Qaeda, wrote the Frankfurter Rundschau. And yet, it might still be seen as just that. The paper believes that the Spanish threat to withdraw its troops from Iraq – unless the U.S. agrees to a UN mandate – doesn’t mean the country is caving in to terrorists. Whoever believes that to be the case hasn’t followed what the new Spanish Prime Minister has said, the daily wrote: First, he has declared the fight against terrorism to be his top priority. Second, by calling for a UN resolution, he has found a way of spoiling the chance for al Quaeda to turn the withdrawal into a victory for the organization.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung commented on Tuesday’s meeting between German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder with his French colleague Jacques Chirac in Paris, where both leaders agreed to help streamline the European answer to terrorism. That the two leaders want to make the fight against international terrorism a top priority in Europe is reasonable and long overdue, the daily noted. The German Chancellor is probably right in saying that terrorism is here to stay for some time, agreed the paper. That’s exactly what Washington has been saying for two years. It’s about time that Europe and the U.S. find a common strategic answer to the challenge, concluded the paper. Otherwise the West will be taken hostage by terrorism.