So far, US aid, for example for Ukraine, has only been temporarily blocked, US President Joe Biden is fighting for the money – and deserves international support

The proud Roman Julius Caesar, with whose supposedly easy-to-translate writings I tormented myself quite a bit in Latin class, is said to have once said: "We have neither eternal allies nor eternal enemies. We only have long-term interests." That's what a lot of people in the U.S. seem to think. The Republicans have blocked new aid for Ukraine and Israel, at least for the time being, in a so-called test vote in the Senate.

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US President Biden:


Almond Ngan / AFP

US President Joe Biden had asked for a financial package of 106 billion dollars, which includes 61.4 billion dollars for Ukraine, 14.3 billion dollars for Israel and aid for other allies. Among Republicans, there is support for new aid to Israel, but resistance to new funding for Ukraine. The United States is the main supporter in the war against the Russian invasion forces.

My colleague Roland Nelles comments on the Senate's decision – and writes about the desire of many US citizens for their own government to concentrate on protecting their own territory. It's a dangerous wish for the rest of the world, he thinks. "A question that critics of America's role as the world's policeman have never been able to answer is: Who else is supposed to maintain anything like order in the constant chaos of international relations if the US doesn't? Maybe the UN, the Russians or the Europeans? I haven't laughed like that for a long time."

The world would not be a better place without America's efforts, but a worse place, Roland says. It is becoming increasingly difficult for the US under Biden to be a positive force for democracy and peace in various hot spots. Donald Trump and his Republicans thought it would be best for the country to abandon its role as a global power of order altogether.

Biden needs help if he is to assume his country's international responsibility against all odds, Roland believes: "It needs much more support from like-minded states, including the Europeans. A new way of thinking is needed in this respect, especially in Germany.«

  • Read more here: The overtaxed world policeman

2. The power of Credit Bureau, for example in lending, was too great, the European Court of Justice rules – consumers can hope for more transparency

Among the traditional German institutions, Schufa is certainly one of the most unpopular. It has been in existence since 1927 and used to be called the "Protection Association for General Credit Protection". The private company has stored information on 68 million people in Germany, which is 80 percent of the population. With the help of huge amounts of data, Schufa calculates so-called scores, which show how likely it is that someone will service a loan - and how high the risk of a payment default is.

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Schufa: How important is the score when concluding a contract?

Photo: Jens Kalaene / dpa

Today, the European Court of Justice ruled that the use of the Schufa score, for example by banks, is only permitted under strict conditions. If the credit bureau rating is given a decisive role in the context of the granting of credit, it is an "automated decision" that is generally prohibited under data protection law, the Luxembourg judges ruled.

What does this mean for consumers? My colleague Katharina Koerth writes that, thanks to the decision of the European Court of Justice, citizens can hope for more transparency in the future. The ruling affects the entire industry. Roughly speaking, it was about data protection issues – and about how powerful the credit bureau is.

The Administrative Court of Wiesbaden had referred a case to the European Court of Justice in which the plaintiff had been denied a loan. She did not see herself as appropriately evaluated and asked the credit bureau to delete an entry and give her access to the data. The credit bureau sent the woman her score value and general information about the calculation, but did not give any information about the calculation of the score. After today's ruling, however, the Schufa must provide concrete information on how the exact score was obtained in this individual case.

Now it is clear that "companies and banks are currently not allowed to make contractual decisions solely on the basis of the Schufa score," writes Katharina. But how long does this last? "The credit bureaus and other credit agencies are apparently working towards a change in their interest: According to the current draft bill of the law, a sentence is to be inserted according to which credit agencies can invoke their trade and business secrets in order to refuse to provide information to consumers."

  • Read more here: What the Schufa ruling means for consumers

3. The traffic light dispute over the budget continued today – and a curious petition from Friedrich Merz, whose CDU caused the financial hardship in the first place, became public

Today it became clear that a budget for 2024 is unlikely to happen anytime soon. According to the SPD, it cannot be done that it will be adopted this year.

This means that the so-called provisional budget management will come into force from the turn of the year until the budget is actually adopted. In the meantime, the individual ministries are only allowed to spend the bare minimum, and no new projects are allowed to begin. Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) indirectly confirmed the news from the SPD parliamentary group leadership. "The state is fully capable of acting," Lindner assured in Brussels. "No authority is going to close. No salary will not be paid. No one who expects support will not receive it."

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CDU party leader Merz, Economics Minister Habeck at the Employers' Day 2022


Michele Tantussi / REUTERS

I don't know if the CDU chairman Friedrich Merz knows the wisdom supposedly coming from Benjamin Franklin: "Beware of small expenses. A little leak can sink a big ship." The CDU/CSU parliamentary group, led by Merz, has destroyed the traffic light budget with its successful lawsuit. My colleagues Gerald Trauffetter and Florian Gathmann are now reporting that Merz, of all people, wants money for his constituency from Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck (Greens) – from the special fund that is now blocked.

In a letter dated November 17, 2023, two days after the supplementary budget for 2021 was ruled unconstitutional by the Federal Constitutional Court following a lawsuit by the CDU, the CDU chairman asked for money for his constituency. It was supposed to come from the very climate and transformation fund that the ruling declared illegal. All funding from the fund that has not been approved by the time of the verdict is blocked. "Doesn't the Union man know that Habeck is not allowed to pay out these funds?" my colleagues ask. "Or does Merz even want special treatment for his constituency – budget crisis or not?"

  • Read more here: Why Merz is now writing a letter of entreaty to "dear Robert Habeck"

News and background information on the war in the Middle East can be found here:

  • Israeli army clashes with Hamas militants in Khan Yunis: Israeli forces have completely encircled the Hamas stronghold of Khan Yunis. The house of the terrorist organization's Gaza chief is said to be surrounded. The developments.

  • Hamas killed Danny and Caro – now friends are exhibiting their photos: In Israel, Hamas murdered two Berlin friends on October 7: Danny and Caro. He took photographs, and she was often his subject. An exhibition commemorates who they were.

  • The War in the Middle East and the Failure of Feminism: Fortunately, there has been a lot of progress in the fight against sexualised violence in the past. All the more disturbing is the long silence of feminist organizations on the rapes of Hamas.

What else is important today

  • Number of asylum applications in Germany rises by about 60 percent: More than 300,000 people have applied for asylum in Germany for the first time this year – significantly more than in the same period last year. In addition to Syria, most of those seeking protection came from a NATO country.

  • RSV wave in Germany has begun: In Germany, many people are currently infected with the RS virus, reports the Robert Koch Institute. The condition can be dangerous for certain age groups.

  • Fridays preferably: At the beginning and end of the week, many offices are empty: A study shows when most employees stay in the home office – and also which model works best for employees and employers.

My favorite story today: Why Europe's right-wing populists are so successful

The decisive factor for the electoral success of the right is a middle class that wants to distinguish itself from the top and the bottom, my colleague Nadja Pantel quotes a sociologist in her report from the Netherlands. The populist Geert Wilders has won the elections in our neighbouring country. In every major European country, a party has now been established that stands for a clearly nationalist, anti-EU policy, including openly racist anti-immigration rhetoric.

"Are those who justify the rise of right-wing populists above all the fact that politicians have failed to take citizens' concerns about migrants seriously?" asks Nadja. The main concerns of Dutch voters are the barely affordable and scarce housing and deteriorating health care, a majority wants immigration to be controlled more strongly and strictly. Both Wilders and Marine Le Pen in France were described by the media as having "normalised". Geert Wilders, for example, visited an animal shelter in his constituency and took baby cats in his arms. But the ideological core has not changed despite "normalization," according to Nadja. Whether Wilders, Le Pen or the AfD, all European parties that can be summarised under the broad term of right-wing populism are united by the basic idea that a 'true people' defined by them must be protected from foreigners and left-wing media."

  • Read the full story here: Crisis of the bourgeois centre

What we recommend today at SPIEGEL+

  • "The climate crisis is acting as an accelerant in the Middle East": In Yemen, people are shooting each other for access to wells, in Iraq they are fleeing heat waves to the cities. Security expert Stefan Lukas warns: The climate crisis is exacerbating conflicts in the Middle East.

  • The stock markets celebrate interest rate party – will the ECB become a killjoy? Inflation is falling more sharply than expected, and euphoria is spreading on the financial markets because investors are betting on falling interest rates. But the European Central Bank is hesitating.

  • Reading material for Christmas: A Christmas Eve without books is possible, but pointless. These five new releases offer fun holidays for people aged three and up.

  • The dirt behind the shine: After years of hesitation, the Hertie Foundation has now come to terms with its history and that of the department stores of the same name. The new study shows that the Hertie owners profited massively from the expropriation policy of the National Socialists.

What is less important today

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Sebastian Gollnow / dpa

Mia san Nia: Former soccer world champion Nia Künzer, 34, will become the new DFB director. In 2003, she scored a header to decide the World Cup final between Germany and Sweden and, after a historically weak year for the women's team, is now to clarify the successor to interim national coach Horst Hrubesch, 72, as sporting director for the German women's soccer team. Today, she said: "It's essential that we get back on the road to success and win titles again."

Mini Concave Mirror

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And tonight?

Could you delve into the beauty of the country of Italy and maybe dream of your next vacation by reading up on the history of the city of Bologna, for example. The Austrian band Wanda has dedicated a very catchy song to the city, which Dante has already written about it.

Currently, there is a lot of news about the city because of the threat of the collapse of a famous so-called gender tower, the Garisenda Tower. Today, Bologna's mayor Matteo Lepore said that it would cost at least 20 million euros and take around ten years to save the 48-meter-high tower. The building from the Middle Ages is now tilted 3.20 metres to the side. This corresponds to about four degrees. This makes it about as crooked as the world-famous Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Have a nice evening,

Yours sincerely, Wolfgang Höbel, Author in the Department of Culture