1. Nonsense in the US election campaign

Thought experiment: Imagine if Helene Fischer were in a relationship with Niclas Füllkrug (#Fischkrug). I know it's asking a lot, but please imagine if his BVB were playing for the German championship. She would accompany him to the decisive game, sing there, cheer him on, the ratings would multiply. And now imagine if a party, say the AfD, were to take on both, the most popular singer in the country, perhaps the most popular footballer, and the entire Bundesliga. The far-right politicians would spread conspiracy myths that Fischer is a secret agent for the Office for the Protection of the Constitution and is corrupting the league in order to somehow ensure that Olaf Scholz remains chancellor.

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Pop star and president: Swift got the nerve?

Photo: [M] Jacquelyn Martin / AP; Mario Anzuoni / REUTERS

Sounds crazy, but this is the strategy the US Republicans around Donald Trump are pursuing, as my colleague Marc Pitzke reports. Trump's supporters and prominent commentators on Fox News are increasingly attacking Taylor Swift and her boyfriend, football star Travis Kelce, who may win the Super Bowl in a week and a half (more here). They fear that Swift could call for the election of Joe Biden, as he did in 2020. Above all, they fear that this could convince young voters who might otherwise stay at home disgusted by politics. Or it could discourage football fans from voting for Trump. “The megastar is the new enemy of the right-wing scene, even before it has even commented on Biden,” writes Marc. "This shows how seriously Trump's supporters take a possible election recommendation from her." They have therefore declared a "holy war" against Swift, as a Trump advisor told Rolling Stone magazine.

And Helene Fischer? Expresses himself politically: »The coming elections, in Germany and in Europe, will decide which country we will live in in the future. Do the right thing, vote! For democracy and against the extremists.” You don’t have to imagine that, she just told “Stern”.

  • Read more here: The Taylor-Swift Effect 

2. Orbán, the lonely one

It looked like a scandal - but then Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán gave in surprisingly quickly at the summit in Brussels. This paves the way for 50 billion euros in aid to Ukraine (more here).

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Orbán Legends: Hard negotiations, but still failed


Olivier Hoslet / EPA

It took less than an hour and a half before Orbán gave in to the massive pressure from all other 26 EU countries, as my colleague Markus Becker reports from Brussels: "The agreement, especially at this speed, came as a surprise." Orbán, so far as tough but more pragmatic According to diplomats, the negotiators have been acting erratically recently. He kept coming up with new reasons why he supposedly couldn't agree to aid to Ukraine. "In the end, no one wanted to help him anymore - neither the Slovakian Robert Fico, who was seen as Orbán's new ally after Poland's national-conservative PiS party was voted out, nor Italy's right-wing populist Giorgia Meloni." Rarely has a country within the EU been as isolated as Hungary . Orbán's method has reached its limits.

  • Read more here: Orbán lays down his arms 

3. Payment card for refugees - I'll take your freedom

Are asylum seekers allowed to control their money? The debate about payment cards for refugees is not going away. There is also disagreement within several state governments as to how yesterday's decision should be implemented. Berlin's Social Senator, for example, does not want any restrictions on withdrawing cash, but Berlin's Governing Mayor is more reserved. And the Greens in Hamburg warn against discrimination.

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A refugee accommodation in Dresden: The introduction of the payment card is getting closer

Photo: Sylvio Dittrich / IMAGO

My colleague Henrik Bahlmann explains how the payment card works and why there is such strong criticism. The countries are concerned with reducing the number of refugees. “However, the argument that so-called pull factors would be abolished with the payment card is controversial,” he writes. Asylum seekers should be prevented from sending money home, but many already receive benefits in kind and only a kind of pocket money.

Henrik quotes an asylum counselor who finds it cynical to criticize when people already have less than the citizen's allowance and save an additional 20 or 30 euros for their relatives.

  • Read more here: Smart card or devoid of all reason?

What else is important today?

  • Ukraine claims to have sunk another Russian warship:

    According to its own information, the Ukrainian military intelligence service has once again succeeded in striking the Russian naval forces. The weapons used: small remote-controlled boats full of explosives.

  • Dispute over leaving the church goes to the European Court of Justice:

    Is leaving the church a reason for termination? The Federal Labor Court is now presenting the case of a social worker to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

  • Spanish holiday region Catalonia declares a water emergency:

    Barcelona and 201 other municipalities lack water. The regional government limits water consumption and washing cars is prohibited. Farmers are hit particularly hard.

What we recommend today at SPIEGEL+

  • Employee of an AfD MP is said to have a connection to a Russian FSB agent:

    AfD employee Vladimir Sergijenko sought support in Moscow for a lawsuit against German arms deliveries to Ukraine. He was apparently in contact with the Russian domestic secret service.

  • »Crying was forbidden. They wanted us to be happy":

    Chen Goldstein-Almog and her children were in the hands of Hamas for 51 days. Here she talks about hunger, fear of death, conversations with her guards - and why she can't really be happy about being free again.

  • Why the Andretti team is not allowed to compete in the premier class:

    In American racing, the name is considered a heavyweight, but Michael Andretti is not allowed to compete with a new team in Formula 1 (for the time being). The reasons for this cause criticism.

Which is less important today

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“Barbie” star and producer Margot Robbie

Photo: David Swanson / EPA

And no Oscar goes to:

"Barbie" actress

Margot Robbie

, 33, has commented for the first time that she was not nominated for the role, nor has director

Greta Gerwig

, 40. According to the industry service "Variety", the actress said, she could hardly be sad given the success of this film. However, she qualified: "Of course I think that Greta should be nominated for directing."

Mini concave mirror

You can find the entire concave mirror here.

Cartoon of the day

And tonight?

You could give in to your retro urges and travel to the eighties, at least on Netflix. The documentary “The Greatest Night in Pop” tells how the charity single “We are the World” was recorded and produced in a studio in 1985. The charts served as the guest list: stars such as Michael Jackson, Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Paul Simon, Tina Turner, Dionne Warwick, Lionel Richie, Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen took part.

If you're feeling a little more infantile, I recommend the animated series "Masters of the Universe: Revolution": He-Man, the strongest of the strong and hero of my childhood, is back to defend Eternia against Skeletor. When I read the announcement, I briefly thought of the first foreign word I learned as a seven-year-old: confiscate. My parents locked up my He-Man figurines because I didn't stick to their unilateral agreement to clean my room. For a week I had to do without Hordak, Battlecat, Man-E-Faces and all the others (more on the cult of the barbarians with plastic muscles here). I'm not sure if educators still recommend the method today. (If you need advice on how to react if your child comes home with poor mid-term grades, my colleague Swantje Unterberg has ten tips here.)

I wish you a relaxing evening, even if you don't belong to the target group of gray-haired Grayskull fans.

Warm regards,

Oliver Trenkamp, ​​Blattmacher in the editor-in-chief