Trial ordered for 5 men in plot to kidnap Michigan governor
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Five men were turned over for trial Wednesday on charges involving a foiled plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Michael Null, William Null, Eric Molitor and Shawn Fix, all from Michigan, are accused of providing material support for terrorist acts as well as a gun crime. Brian Higgins of Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, was charged with providing material support for terrorist acts. District Judge Michael Stepka ruled that evidence presented in a preliminary hearing justified a trial in Antrim County, where Whitmer’s Elk Rapids vacation home is located and prosecutors say the abduction was to happen.
BERLIN (AP) — An alleged plot to topple the German government, led by a self-styled prince, a retired paratrooper, and a Berlin judge, had its roots in a murky mixture of post-war grudges, antisemitic conspiracy theories, and anger over recent pandemic restrictions, experts say. © Jens Schlueter Police on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022 secured the grounds of Waidmannsheil hunting lodgenear Bad Lobenstein, Germany. The lodge is owned by Heinrich Reuss, a German aristocrat with the title Prince Heinrich XIII, who was among 25 people arrested yesterday in nationwide raids against what Germany's prosecutor general says is an insurrectionist group that was planning a violent coup against the German government. The prosecutor identifies Reuss as the leader of the group that also includes former military and police members. The group reportedly met on several occasions at the hunting lodge.
Police detained 25 people Wednesday described as being part of Germany’s Reichsbuerger, or Reich Citizens, movement.
Twitter’s suppression of Hunter Biden’s laptop isn’t a conspiracy theory — it’s a conspiracy
“Conspiracy theorist” is one of the great insults of our day. It was thrown at me onstage the other night by the popular pseudo-guru and full-time intellectual fraud Malcolm Gladwell. Debating in front of 3,000 people about the trustworthiness (or otherwise) of the mainstream media I brought up the Hunter Biden laptop story as an example of how much of the media cannot be trusted. “Oh my God,” wailed Gladwell, like an Upper East Side teenager, flailing his arms around in horror. His colleague — New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg — almost fell off her chair. Both rocked back and forth with laughter and forced histrionics.
While the name might suggest a link to the Nazi era, it actually refers to the first modern pan-German nation formed when Prussia’s King Wilhelm I and his chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, united numerous smaller states into a single empire, or Reich, in 1871.
Reich Citizens consider the partition of Germany by Allied powers after World War II and the subsequent democratic states that followed to have been illegal, arguing instead that the original Reich still exists.
“To some extent they distance themselves from the Third Reich,” said Johannes Kiess of the Else-Frenkel-Brunswik Institute for Democracy Studies in Leipzig, referring to the German dictatorship under Adolf Hitler from 1933 to 1945. “But (they) have very little problems working together with any outright neo-Nazi groups.”
How dangerous are Germany's far-right Reichsbürger?
In a large-scale raid, German police targeted dozens of individuals from the far-right Reichsbürger scene who were suspected of planning a coup. What kind of movement is this — and what threat does it pose to democracy? © Fricke/NEWS5/AFP German special police forces conduct raids on extremist Reichsbürger affiliates A group of "Reichsbürger" allegedly spent months preparing for a "Day X," on which they wanted to overthrow the government. In a large-scale raid on Wednesday morning, several suspects have now been arrested, including ex soldiers and a former member of the Bundestag.
Kiess said Thursday that the rise of the Reich Citizens movement reflects the shifts that have taken place on the far-right end of the political spectrum in recent years. Whereas outright opposition to the existing order was once a fringe position, anger at the restrictions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic has proved fertile ground for anti-government sentiment, he said.
“We now really have the middle classes being open to all sorts of conspiracy theories,” Kiess said.
He likened the development in Germany to that in the United States, where white supremacist movements joined with those who believe a “deep state” is controlling government in opposing the peaceful transition of power following the last presidential election.
Martina Renner, a member of the opposition Left party in Germany, concurred.
“What we saw with the storming of the Capitol in the United States is like a blueprint for what’s happening here,” she said. “It’s being strongly taken up here and there are attempts to repeat it.”
Amid coup, counter-coup claims – what really went down in Peru and why?
Peru has a new president following the ouster of former leader Pedro Castillo at the hands of the country’s Congress. His removal followed an attempt by Castillo to cling to power by dissolving a Congress intent on impeaching him. Castillo’s opponents accused him of attempting a coup – a charge his supporters similarly levied in regards to his removal from office. The day ended with the former president in detention. The Conversation askedHis removal followed an attempt by Castillo to cling to power by dissolving a Congress intent on impeaching him. Castillo’s opponents accused him of attempting a coup – a charge his supporters similarly levied in regards to his removal from office.
Federal prosecutors said some of those arrested had concrete plans to enter the German parliament with weapons. Such an attack would have been made easier by the fact that one of the alleged plotters, Birgit Malsack-Winkemann, was a former lawmaker for the Alternative for Germany party with intimate knowledge of the Bundestag building.
Prosecutors said the group had intended to make Malsack-Winkemann justice minister after their coup, while the new government would be headed by Heinrich XIII Prince Reuss. The 71-year-old member of the House of Reuss, who continues to use the title of “prince” despite Germany abolishing any formal role for royalty more than a century ago, was identified as one of the ringleaders of the plot, officials said.
Some in Germany have questioned whether the suspected extremists would actually have been able to pull off any serious attack.
But the country’s top security official, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, said it would be wrong to underestimate such groups, especially if their members include people trained to use firearms, such as soldiers or police officers, as was allegedly the case.
How QAnon Inspired Attempted Coup in Germany
Germany has the second-largest number of QAnon followers outside the U.S., according to researchers.German authorities stunned the world this week when they announced 25 members of an eclectic conspiracy movement allegedly plotted the overthrow of the federal government to install a monarch as the head of state.
Olaf Sundermeyer, an investigative journalist with German public broadcaster RBB who specializes in political extremism, said authorities had long played down the threat posed by Reich Citizens until one shot and killed a police officer six years ago.
In addition to having a “history of radicalization,” many Reich Citizens share an affinity for Russia and are open to disinformation spread by Russian news outlets, said Sundermeyer — whose view was echoed by Renner, the German lawmaker.
But he questioned those who claim there is outright collusion with Moscow to topple the government.
“I don’t see any evidence of structural, systematic cooperation between these groups and Russian authorities,” said Sundermeyer, who had tracked the movement for many years.
Still, federal prosecutors said Prince Reuss reached out to Russian officials to discuss his plans, and the only non-German detained Wednesday was identified as Vitalia B., a Russian citizen.
Georg Maier, the top security official in Thuringia state, told public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk on Thursday that he expects a second wave of people to be detained as authorities review evidence seized.
The head of Germany’s Federal Criminal Police, Holger Muench, said officers searched about 150 locations across the country. At about 50 locations they found weapons, he told public broadcaster ZDF late Wednesday, without elaborating.
Thomas Haldenwang, who heads Germany’s domestic intelligence agency BfV, said authorities had been monitoring the group since the spring of this year.
Germany is highly sensitive to far-right extremism because of its Nazi past and repeated acts of violence carried out by neo-Nazis in recent years, including the killing of a regional politician and the deadly attack on a synagogue in 2019.
Two years ago, far-right extremists taking part in a protest against the country’s pandemic restrictions tried and failed to storm the Bundestag building in Berlin. Earlier this year, authorities arrested four people who allegedly planned to cause a long nationwide blackout and kidnap the country’s health minister.
Scholz inaugurates 1st liquefied gas terminal in Germany .
BERLIN (AP) — Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Saturday inaugurated Germany's first liquefied natural gas terminal, declaring that the speed with which it was put into service is a signal that Europe's biggest economy will remain strong. The top three officials in the government — Scholz, Economy Minister Robert Habeck and Finance Minister Christian Lindner — attended the inauguration in the North Sea port of Wilhelmshaven in a sign of the importance that Germany attaches to several new LNG terminals that it is scrambling to build following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.