“Nuclear Power Whiteout,” a non-native speaker’s inadequate translation of the title of the bestselling Japanese thriller
Genpatsu Whiteout. It’s a story about a fictional terrorist attack on a nuclear power plant in Japan. The pseudonymous author seemed so well-informed that there was speculation about the area of government in which he or she might have been employed.

Philip Brasor wrote, “Though it sounds like a conventional thriller, the novel’s overarching theme is the government’s determination to resume the nation’s nuclear power network after the Fukushima accident, a mission it carries out so heedlessly that it neglects to enact safety standards that would mitigate the effects of such an attack.”

Apparently the fictional novel also mentions an entrenched system of power companies’ adding 10% over the market value to purchases made for the electricity industry in that country, with some of the extra money being distributed among networks of politicians and their affiliates. And possible post-tsunami attempts in response to the engineering disasters at Fukushima Daiichi to pass legislation that supposedly increased safety, transparency and competition but doesn’t really. Bribe costs ultimately get paid by electricity consumers in their utility bills; reforms that don’t fix the corruption problem might make Japanese voters more amenable to restarting dangerously engineered nuclear power plants if they’re told it will supposedly reduce electricity prices.

(CAIRN croft   VICE blend oong.)

Veteranen wissen um den Wert des Lebens

Veterans know how valuable life is.

Military veterans among the protesters in Ukraine have been quietly doing excellent work. They help calm down the angriest protesters. They started cleaning up Kiev’s convention center the day after protesters stormed it. The night protesters took over the convention center, veterans organized the peaceful retreat of a hundred police who had been assigned to defend it.

The very well-spoken Ukrainian veteran of the Soviet war in Afghanistan who said soldiers know life’s value also told reporters, “There were some who said let’s beat the police, take their clothes away, humiliate them. But I said let’s not be like they are. Let’s set our own example.”

(Vet tare ON en   VISS en   oom   dane   VAIR t   dess   LAY benz.)

“Verhandlungen alle zwei Monaten”

“Negotiations recurring every two months.”

“What Putin is offering is to renegotiate the [price] every two months, to exert new pressure, and that’s the case for energy prices. The first billion Russia delivered, they fulfilled maybe 750 million of that, to pay old Ukrainian debts. That means, and Janukovytsch knows this, that if he continues to go with Russia based on prior experience he’ll get more and more knotted up in it, and that’s when he’ll really lose his power. To Moscow this time.”
—Elmar Brok (C.D.U.), chair of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs, speaking briskly but interestingly in an interview from Kiev.

(Fair HOND loong en   oll ah   tsvy   moan AH ten.)

Schauspieler und Schausteller

“Show players and show putters/placers.” Actors and traveling carnival people, two professions whose names sound similar in German. reported about a lady from a traveling fair family whose dad pulled her out of school at age 14 to help with the family business. When her son died in 1991 she looked around for something different to do. She finished an academic high school diploma in two years and did a master’s degree in art history on the changing styles of models and decorations on German carousels since 1883. She was the first person to study the subject. There was so much material, she said, that she went ahead and finished her Ph.D. on the topic at age 62.

“Until the Second World War,” wrote, “nearly all decorations on fairground rides and businesses were citations of baroque themes: illustrated panels, frames that look like ornamental plasterwork, pastel tones. ‘After 1945, the modern era took hold, with paintings that had no subject, and neon lighting,’ Frau Dr. Ramus said.

“Since then,” the Spiegel article continues, “carousel decoration and construction has followed the trends in architecture and art: Bright colors and dream motifs based on Salvador Dalí in the 1960’s, flower power images and bands like the Beatles or Abba in the 1970’s, followed by pop art, comics adaptations and street art. ‘The great thing is that in fairgrounds today you can see all these epochs standing next to one another, and even identify individual painters and designers,’ said Dr. Ramus. ‘You can time travel through a hundred years of decoration and architectural history.'”

(Shao SHPEEL ah   oont   shao SHTELL ah.)

Wer wirklich wissen wolle, welche Wagen am bestgewertet seien…

“Anyone who really wants to know what vehicles are the most highly rated ones…” should not consult Germany’s Munich-based A.D.A.C. automobile club’s car rankings, because “someone who has lied before, you don’t believe any more” as put it.

A giant in German consumer protection has fallen. The Süddeutsche Zeitung saw documents indicating Germany’s equivalent of the A.A.A. car club had manipulated the numbers of readers’ votes received for its “Yellow Angel prize.” Auto industry pundits are now questioning all the group’s data: blue book car values, European tunnel safety evaluations, accident statistics. “If you want to know the most popular cars on German roads, we can only recommend now that you consult the government’s reliable statistics on new registrations,” Spiegel said a competitor car club, the Stuttgart-based Auto Club Europa (A.C.E.), announced in a written statement.

The hundred-year-old advocacy group, at ~19 million members one of Germany’s largest associations and Europe’s biggest car club, was a mixed-purpose, highly entrepreneurial group that did lobbying work, tested products and services, published a magazine and promoted its magazine, but also did business as an insurer, travel agent, car rental agency, long-distance bus company and of course provided much-appreciated roadside emergency aid to members with car trouble via a large fleet of highly recognizable yellow autos. They also own some small planes and 51 helicopters, apparently, supposedly for airlifting patients to hospitals but not always. Although it certainly has defended drivers well on some issues in its lobbying work, including supporting the environmentally-friendly side of some pollution questions, its interactions with Germany’s auto manufacturers have at times been problematically “symbiotic,” a Sü op-ed commented. The survey for which readers’ interest was faked was apparently part of the group’s self-promotion work: the A.D.A.C. awarded its “Yellow Angel” prize as usual in a lavish evening ceremony at a royal residence in Munich on Thursday, 16 Jan 2014, calling the Süddeutsche’s publication two days before about the possible manipulations “a scandal for journalism,” only to admit to the accusations two days afterward. The magazine’s editor fell on his sword.

The A.D.A.C. had recently disagreed with the statistics cited by Germany’s new transportation minister Alexander Dobrindt (C.S.U.) and his colleagues in support of the C.S.U.’s biggest goal from the recent election: to impose a car toll on non-German drivers entering Bavaria. Now the A.D.A.C.’s statistics are no longer considered reliable.

Update on 24 Jan 2014: Critics are calling for restructuring of the sprawling “anachronistic” A.D.A.C., saying a car club that takes in 2 billion euros annually can no longer be run like a pigeon fanciers’ association.

Update on 17 Feb 2014: Auditor Deloitte only had access to data going back to 2009, but there appeared to be some general trends in how A.D.A.C. manipulated the automobile brands that were made the official winners of the “readers’ choice” Yellow Angel award. No car manufacturer had two models among the top three winners, even though that did happen several times. Preference appears to have been given to new models. When they announced the auditor’s findings, both A.D.A.C. and Deloitte were still sticking with their theory that the results were manipulated by lone gunmen acting alone, said Sü

Update on 25 Feb 2014: A.D.A.C.’s business manager has now resigned, after the club’s president resigned, after the communications director-and-magazine editor fell on his sword. >200,000 members have cancelled their memberships.

Update on 09 Mar 2014: Income tax is collected by the states in Germany so I presumed it was the Bavarian tax authority that examined the A.D.A.C.’s tax returns from 2007 to 2009 and decided the club owed 500 million euros in back taxes. The club did not pay an insurance tax even though it “provided grounds for an insurance relationship relevant to insurance tax law” [“ein versicherungssteuerrechtlich relevantes Versicherungsverhältnis begründet“]. But apparently this announcement was made by the federal finance ministry [Bundesfinanzministerium]. The ministry said there would be no criminal trial if the A.D.A.C. paid the half billion. The Registration Court at the Munich Local Court [Registergericht beim Amtsgericht München] is examining whether A.D.A.C. still fulfills the requirements for Verein status, in view of its business activities.

Meanwhile, described a Wirtschaftswoche article reporting that federal highways money that was allocated but not spent in time in other states got sent to Bavaria, to the tune of an extra 140 million euros in 2013. Four other relatively wealthy states also received extra highways funding in 2013 that poorer states such as Berlin had to give back after not managing to spend it building highways: Lower Saxony (+80 million euros), Hesse (+47 million euros), Rhineland-Palatinate (+40 million euros), Saxony (+38 million). Bavaria’s total federal highways funding in 2013 was 1240 million euros (including the extra 140 million).

Update on 04 May 2014: has received information that the A.D.A.C. auto club owned about 3.5 billion euros in 2012 in stock, bank accounts and real estate. With its dozens of subsidiaries, the A.D.A.C. auto club had a 2012 gross of nearly 1 billion euros, with about 85 million euros profit. Their next project is to open a car repair franchise, with 150 workshops.

Structurally, a Beirat has been added to the association’s management, whose members include someone from Transparency International and a former judge from Germany’s Constitutional Court. Apparently the A.D.A.C. did not and does not have a supervisory board, despite the enormous wealth and power controlled by the club. After the recent manipulation scandal became public, they added the new Beirat or additional advisory board in lieu of a more powerful supervisory board.

Spiegel wrote that the new Beirat, “at their first meeting before Easter, did not have the impression that the club was starting a transparency offensive. Rather, the top management at A.D.A.C. seemed motivated by the question of what actions would have to be taken for the club to retain its legal form of an e.V. registered association. The Munich Registration Court has been reviewing this privilege, which gives the A.D.A.C. certain advantages, for weeks now.”

(Vay ah   VEE ah click   VISS en   VULL ah,   VELL chh ah   VOGG en   om   best gah VAY ah tett   zye en)


Passengers association.

The European Passengers’ Federation warned in an August 2013 article that the airlines’ lobbying efforts in Brussels were getting their proposed rule changes into drafts of new guidelines that would make passengers pay for airlines’ management mistakes.

Specifically, it looked like airlines might be pushing successfully to raise the threshold of a three-hour delay, after which airlines owe up to 600 euros to each delayed passenger, up to five hours or even longer.

A Christmas 2013 article said 36% of European flights experience delays but only 2% to 4% of delayed European air passengers with a right to the >3-hour money were claiming it because the airlines were making the procedure as difficult as possible, e.g. by requiring each passenger to go to court.

Apparently private companies are stepping up to help. Firms like and (“No disadvantages without advantages!”) will prosecute your claim for you, taking 30% of any money obtained but not charging you if they lose.

(Far GHAST fair bond.)


The emergency-like urgency of having to follow orders, one of several excuses 22 S.S. officers used as their defense when put on trial on
20 Dec 1963 in Frankfurt for having helped to commit mass murder at Auschwitz. “22 out of more than 8000, who together killed more than one million people,” said ZDF heute journal moderator Claus Kleber. “This trial marked the beginning of the end of the suppression of what happened during the war.”

One of many good aspects to the story of these Auschwitz trials is hearing again about the “fearless prosecutor,” Fritz Bauer, himself a concentration camp survivor. He forced people to start looking at what their government had done. On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of that belated yet difficult undertaking, German news programs showed archival footage of court guards secretly saluting the defendants, the S.S. officers’ arrogant assertions that they weren’t aware what the killing machinery was for, that they’d forgotten about the deaths, that they were only following orders.

(Beh FAILS NOTE shtond.)

Denkende Drohnen

“Thinking drones,” a wide spectrum of autonomous unmanned flying weapons systems, large and small, described in the Pentagon strategy paper for 2013 to 2038 called the Unmanned Integrated Systems Roadmap.

From a summary of the 168-page document: Short-term, the Pentagon wants to add weapons to existing drones, including arming unmanned helicopters. Medium-term, developing smaller and more precise weapons specifically for drones. Long-term, autonomous “thinking” unmanned systems.

There will be drones that are weapons, such as the “Switchblade” minidrone and a “swarm of intelligent munitions” called L.O.C.A.A.S., low-cost autonomous attack system, to find and blow up moving targets.

(DENG kenned ah   DRONE en.)

Aus die Maus

A cheerful way to say “off,” a status that may have become quantum in home computing.

Off means off, and offline means offline, except in your computers and similar devices since at least as far back as 2008.

(Ow! ss   dee   mouse.)


Mummery ban.

On 17 Jan 2014, Ukrainian president Viktor Janukovytsch signed into law bills “limiting freedom to demonstrate and freedom of opinion” passed quickly in parliament by a show of hands from his affiliated M.P.’s. Newly forbidden: setting up tents, stages or loudspeakers in public without a permit, “slandering” government officials (now punishable by a year of “corrective labor”), blocking public buildings (up to five years in prison), car protests involving more than five cars (“Automaidan”!). The ruling coalition also harshened punishments for the crime of mummery.

Apparently the Ukrainian parliament usually votes electronically, leaving the government parties open to accusations that they knew they didn’t have the votes to pass this.

After the new legislation, and after a court arbitrarily banned protests in downtown Kiev until 08 Mar 2014 without citing grounds for the decision, opposition leaders said a Staatsstreich, coup d’état, had occurred. Protests quickly got more violent.

One wonderful bright aspect was the costumes protesters wore to make fun of the “mummery” ban. German news showed an elegant red construction helmet decorated with black feathers and a black velvet Venetian carnival mask trimmed in gold. A lady was interviewed who wore a black-brimmed winter hat wreathed in colorful plastic flowers and berries, and long silk ribbons, with a large fur hood. Beautifully painted flames on an army helmet. One photo showed even rugose mummery, with what looked like ceratopsian dinosaur horns.

Opposition protesters took to the freezing streets wearing cooking pots, metal colanders, kitchen sieves and cardboard boxes on their heads, “to make the new sanctions laughable” said

Update on 23 Jan 2014: The U.S.A. threatened Mr. Janukovytsch’s government with sanctions if the new antidemocratic laws aren’t recalled. Chancellor Merkel’s government told reporters she too phoned the Ukraine to urge the government to enter into dialog with protesters: “That includes examining and recalling quickly-passed laws used to restrict burgher rights.”

Update on 28 Jan 2014: Ukrainian prime minister Mykola Azarow resigned, and Ukraine’s Rada parliament rescinded the anti-demonstration laws. In post-WWII Germany’s version of parliamentary democracy, a prime minister would be more powerful than a president. But throughout these protests Mr. Janukovytsch has seemed to have more power than Mr. Azarow.

(Fair MOOM oongs fair BOAT.)

Mit Militär gegen die Müll-Mafia

Using the military to police the garbage mafia.

The Italian government announced it will instruct the military to proceed against illegal waste dumping south of Naples, in the region between that city and Caserta. said the area has been nicknamed “the deadly triangle” and “fireland” because so much toxic waste is illegally burned there, “estimated at around ten million tons of industrial waste between 1991 and 2013, brought in under cover of darkness by thousands of trucks, though open trash dumps are illegal in the European Union.”

“The garbage business has been a lucrative source of income for the neapolitan mafia since the late 1980’s. The Camorra lets people dump even poisonous garbage, such as asbestos, solvents, car tires and refrigerators, onto the fields and sets it on fire. Companies throughout the entire country would rather pay bribe money to the mafia than hire serious companies to dispose of their refuse.

“This practice not only releases gases that are harmful to health but also poisons the ground and ground water. Many of the crops harvested there contain arsenic and heavy metals. In the region in question, cancer rates are 47% higher than the national average among males and 40% higher among females.”

An English-language article quoted a mafia whistleblower who said the dumped garbage included truckloads of nuclear waste from Germany. A local U.S. Navy base is said to follow strict rules to avoid the poisons, after the conclusions drawn by a 2011 study they commissioned that was entitled “Drink Naples and die.” The Navy recommends using bottled water for everything and avoiding ground-floor apartments.

(Mitt   meal ee TARE   gay gen   dee   MILL   mafia.)

Neue E.U.-Grenzen für Spekulation mit Nahrungsmitteln

New E.U. limits on food speculation.

As part of the reforms to the E.U.’s Markets in Financial Instruments Directive [much more comprehensible in German: financial markets guideline, Finanzmarktrichtlinie], negotiators from the E.U. Commission, Member States and Parliament agreed to create new upper limits capping possible food speculation, in an attempt to calm the markets and prevent investment-driven hunger around the world. Now that this agreement has been reached, it will take about 2.5 years for the Member States to implement the new caps in their national laws.

The British government under Prime Minister David Cameron (Tory party) held out for a long time against putting limits on commodities markets, even for foodstuffs. Proponents for the limits included some banks that voluntarily announced they would stop trading in food commodities. ARD reported 100,000 people also signed a petition to the E.U. last year asking for this reform.

(NOY ah   eh OO grents en   fooeah   shpeck oo lah tsee OWN   mitt   GNAW roongz mitt elln.)

Neue tunesische Verfassung

New Tunisian constitution.

Three years after the Arab Spring started in Tunisia, the country’s Constituante, a constitution assembly elected in fall 2011, was voting on the articles of a new constitution that, ARD said, was “modern” and guaranteed a civil society, equal rights for men and women and freedom of religion.

The new constitution may be passed as early as by the end of January 2014, after which new elections are to take place as quickly as possible.

The islamic Ennahda party voluntarily gave up power to clear the way for new elections, ARD reported.

“Certainly, the events in Egypt led to increased dialog and negotiation successes here in Tunisia,” said a spokesperson for the Ennahda party.

(NOY ah   too NAE zish ah   fair FOSS oong.)

Fliegen und Tiger sind vom Pferde gefallen

“Flies and tigers fell off the horse.”

Both low-ranking and now at least nine high-ranking officials from the government and top executives from the economy have been investigated for corruption in China.

China’s General Secretary Xi Jinping warned in 2012 that corruption “spreads like worms in a cadaver” and that his government was going to go after the tigers in addition to the flies, both low-ranking and high-ranking officials.

In autumn 2013 reported that corruption cases had been prosecuted against several tigers, including the top overseer of China’s hundred largest companies and former boss of the giant China National Petroleum Company and its subsidiary PetroChina, “the most valuable company in the world after ExxonMobil” (Jiang Jiemin, Sep. 2013), a former deputy C.P. party chief of Szechuan (Lu Chuncheng, Dec. 2012), a manager of the phone company China Mobile (Xu Long, May 2013) and a former railroad minister (Liu Xhijun, Jul. 2013), in addition to Bo Xilai, C.P. party boss of the city-state of Chongqing and former trade minister.
Update on 19 Apr 2014: Song Lin, chief executive officer of the state-owned China Resources Holdings—which owns a large number of companies from different industries, such as energy generation, real estate and retail sales—for laundering money in Hong Kong.
Zhou Yongkang, Politbüro standing committee member, former boss of the giant state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation, then Communist Party chief for the province of Sichuan, then head of China’s security apparatus from 2007 to 2012. Zhou Yongkang is under house arrest, and about 300 people from the oil company, the Sichuan government and the Chinese security apparatus have been arrested in this investigation, with ~$14 billion in property and bank accounts frozen.

Update on 05 Jan 2014: reported that the Xinhua official press agency announced China investigated nearly 37,000 functionaries for >27,000 cases of corruption between January and November 2013.

(FLEAGUE en   oont   TEAGUE ah   zinned   fom   FEAH dah   geh FALL en.)


“Multiple party system,” what Iranian president Hassan Rouhani has called for to replace the country’s current single-party political system, according to Iran’s official press agency I.R.N.A. “Until now, Iran has only had fractions and political wings,” said ZDF heute journal.

(MAYOR pah TIE en zissed AIM.)

Bussgeld gegen Brauereien

Fines to brewers.

The German cartel authority and several major German brewers have confirmed that >100 million euros in fines for pricing collusion have been issued so far as a result of investigations into the “biggest beer cartel in German history” ever caught, going on for “umpteen” years according to testimony from a Veltins manager. The Belgian beer giant InBev that bought Budweiser and Becks ratted the German brewers out and will thus be the only participant not fined. Some other brewers’ fines were also reduced from the maximum possible 10% of annual gross, depending on their cooperation.

By Scandinavian and U.S. standards, even illegally inflated German beer prices were relatively low because of Germany’s low sin taxes on alcohol. (Alcohol is not considered the spark in the societal powder keg in Germany. Beer, especially, is thought to have some redeeming qualities of bringing people together socially, and possibly some of the nutritional aspects of bread.) The cartel’s agreements would have raised the price of a 20-bottle case of beer by 1 euro in 2008, explained.

Investigations are still ongoing against two more corporate brewers and four regional (i.e. smaller) brewers, who have not yet been named for that reason.

(BOOSS geld   gay gen   BROW ah WRY en.)

“Gute Gründe”

“Good reasons.”

In his gentle, well-spoken statements and interviews since his recent coming-out announcement, retired national German soccer star Thomas Hitzlsperger said he thinks Germany is heading in the right direction when it comes to not tolerating homophobia.

“Some folks still discriminate against minorities though. They should ask themselves if they have good reasons for doing so.”

(GOOT ah   GRINNED ah.)

Minderung der Monokulturen

Reduction of monocultures in E.U. agriculture.

At 40% of their annual expenditures, agriculture is the E.U.’s biggest budget item, and it underwent some rational-sounding changes in 2013. The E.U. agricultural reforms agreed in the Agricultural Committee on 26 Jun 2013 started a shift in subventions, disincentivizing “ecologically problematic and optically wasteland-like monocultures,” according to ARD Subventions to large monocultures were to be reduced, with small and medium-sized farms being required to plant at least three different crops. “Greening” actions will have to be carried out by farmers in order to receive the 30% of subventions newly contingent on “environmentalization” steps, penalizing farmers who don’t enact the measures by two years after the new rules come into effect. Apparently the new measures encourage grasslands, and 5% of farmers’ land is to be kept free of artificial fertilizers and pesticides. Individual countries will now have the right to reduce subventions paid to large agribusinesses receiving >150,000 euros/year and increase subventions to small and mid-sized farms and young farmers <41 years old. Bug fixes: A blacklist will be drawn up of landed entities such as airports and sports clubs (i.e. golf) that will now have to prove they get substantial income from farming before they can receive farming subsidies in future. Previous erroneous multiple extra payments to farmers, so-called “double funding,” should now be eliminated. The European Parliament’s press release on the agreement concludes with the next steps for the reform: the long-term financial framework (M.F.F., multiannual financial framework) for the reform has to be worked out, after which the reform can move on to the Council for the countries’ leaders to approve. ARD said in June 2013 that their approval was considered certain.

These reforms passed at the E.U. level on 25 Sep 2013.

Update on 05 Nov 2013: E.U. farm subventions are to be distributed in Germany according to a new system (Schlüssel: key or code) agreed by the German state agricultural ministers. ARD said the size of the farm is no longer supposed to be the main criterion. This will shift subvention money from large farms in the former East Germany to small and medium-sized operations (“<46 hectares”). Brussels will now be sending 6.2 billion euros in farm subsidies to Germany per year, a reduction of about 10%. Also, “new environmentally-friendly programs will be paid for from the highly-contested budget for direct payments.” German farmers and their union, the Deutscher Bauernverband, said the security of knowing what monies will be coming to them in the next few years helps make up for the fact that it’s less money.

Update on 12 Nov 2013: The E.U. Parliament and E.U. Member States passed a budget planning to spend ~135.5 billion euros total in 2014, that’s ~9 billion euros less than in 2013, with >43 billion going directly to farmers.

(MINNED ah roong   dare   mon oh cool TOUR en.)

Nachrichtendienstlicher Schattenhaushalt

A non-native speaker’s attempt to translate
“intelligence agencies’ black budget”
into German, after the non-native German speaker was
very impressed by the clarity of’s
succinct presentation showing where ~$50 billion goes that the U.S. government allocates annually to agencies in its National Intelligence Program.

One reason the C.I.A. is the top recipient (at ~$14 billion annually) is because e.g. they’ve been modding aircraft and G.P.S.-controlled 500-pound smart bombs and giving them to e.g. the government of Colombia. This is also from an excellently explained article, with a well-designed timeline of the history, map of the area, blueprint of the missile and scaled drawings showing the relative sizes of the aircraft and bombs used in the four-step attacks on the F.A.R.C.

(NOCHH richh ten DEENST lichh ah   SHOTTEN house halt.)

Einheitliches Handy-Ladekabel

“Common recharger.”

After compromising five years ago by having manufacturers voluntarily provide an extra U.S.B. phone recharger port in addition to their mutually incompatible plugs, the E.U. parliament has now reached a “provisional deal” for a mandatory common device that can recharge all mobile phones (and all tablet devices) sold in Europe, effective in three years. This requirement will be added to the radio equipment rules package that hasn’t been entirely negotiated yet. Before the three-year countdown can be started (estimated possibly March 2014) it must still be approved by the Member States’ governments and the European parliament’s plenum, and get past some officials from the Industry Committee [Industriekommission] thought to be against mandating universal chargers though their boss, Antonio Tajani, is for it. Officials from the Industry Committee would also be responsible for deciding which device would become the universal charger, said Sü

(Eye n HEIGHT lichh ess   HEN dee   lodd ah cobb ell.)


Single-family house the Technical University in Munich is planning to build in Fürstenfeldbruck that will combine passive energy conservation with a rooftop photovoltaic array that can produce about 6000 kW/year, Sü wrote, and thus take care of the family’s energy needs. About one-quarter of the electricity generated will be surplus to the house’s requirements and could be sold back into the grid or used e.g. to recharge an electric car. In good weather, the family could thus be able to drive approx. 150 kilometers/day on rooftop sunlight alone, totalling ~11,000 km/year in Germany’s climate.

A four-person family is scheduled to move in and test drive the house for one year after construction has finished in August 2014 and the engineers have checked all the systems.

Construction is projected to cost about 350,000 euros.

(En air GHEE   PLOOSS   EYE g en high m.)

Eine perfide Erfindung

A perfidious invention: barrel bombs the Assad government is throwing out of helicopters onto residential urban areas of Syria. The steel barrels contain accelerant and e.g. nails, for large possibly napalm-like explosions that distribute sharp shrapnel. Opposition sources indicated these hardware-store bombs are being used for terrorism of civilians living in rebel-controlled areas; one was dropped near a school for example.

Meanwhile, the peaceful protesters who tried to oust the violent Assad family by nonviolent means and then understandably fled the country in droves suffered in an unusual blizzard last month, which dropped ~40 cm of snow on Jerusalem in early December 2013. German news showed footage of families living in tents on frozen dirt floors, with plastic tarp walls not even keeping out the wind, in Jordan, or a dozen people crowded into one unheated room with a weeping wet ceiling in Lebanon. Asking for several billion dollars in aid, especially from wealthy neighbors like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the United Nations estimated the number of Syrian refugees would increase to several million in the next year, while three-quarters of Syria’s population might experience food shortages. There’s talk too of a lost generation because, it was estimated in a U.N.H.C.R. report, ~3 million Syrian children aren’t attending school because of the war.

Update on 29 Dec 2013: said a “rebel-friendly human rights organization” reported that Syria’s air force used the dreaded barrel bombs to blow up an open-air fruit-and-veg market in Aleppo’s old city on a Saturday morning.

Update on 19 Apr 2014: ZDF heute journal said the Assad troops dropped >300 barrel bombs from helicopters in March 2014; it’s unclear whether that was just over Aleppo or all battle zones in Syria.
For what it’s worth, a London-based Arabic-language newspaper said the Assads are hiring foreign mercenaries as pilots, possibly because some Syrian troops have refused to fly these helicopters.

(Eye nah   peah FEE dah   eah FINNED oong.)

Russische Raketenstationierung

Russian missile emplacement.

Moscow confirmed on 16 Dec 2013 that it had put short-range mobile SS-26, “Iskander” or “Stone” missiles on its western borders that could travel approx. 500 kilometers. From Kaliningrad in the island territory formerly known as East Prussia, an ARD graphic showed for example, a circle with a 500-km radius could reach all of Poland and Lithuania and even pieces of Sweden and Finland, though perhaps not quite Berlin.

These missiles travel at several times the speed of sound and were first deployed against Georgia in 2008, said.

(ROOSS ish ah   rock ATE en shtah tsee own EAR oong.)

Bibliothekarische Bücherkette

“Library book chain,” across the city of Riga to celebrate the opening of Latvia’s new national library after twenty years of construction. Twenty-five years ago, Latvians formed a Menschenkette, a human chain, to protest the Soviet dictatorship.

Riga, Latvia, and Umea, Sweden, will be the European Capitals of Culture for 2014. Umea will be focussing on the regional Saami heritage, while Riga will be celebrating music and theater.

Update on 18 Jan 2014: Fireworks and dancing in the frozen streets kicked off the three-day opening celebration in Riga. Since the start of WWI a century ago, said ZDF heute journal, the twentieth century was a torture for Latvia of one dictatorship after the other, including occupation by the Nazis. Which is why Riga scheduled a cheeky performance of what is said to be Adolf Hitler’s favorite Wagner opera this week, Aufstieg und Fall eines Tyrannen, in very bright costumes and with a live horse.

(Beeb lee oh tay CAR-R-R ish ah   BEE chheah ket tah.)


“‘Paving the way’ payments” in Russia. Rapprochement geld, smoothing-the-path-between-us money, also translated as “bribes” according to a Sü article about Germany’s third-largest power company, Energie Baden-Württemberg, saying some German prosecutors have thought for some years now the nuclear power provider used unworkable, improbable “fake contracts” [Scheinverträge] to move money into “shadow accounts” [schwarze Kassen] in Switzerland to form a pool of bribe money doled out to powerful Russian decision-makers, such as politicians or high-ranking military officers, for more access to the Russian nuclear energy and natural gas sectors. At the time, about half of EnBW was government-owned: by an association of county governments from the German state of Baden-Württemberg and by the French “energy giant” EdF, which itself was also “government-dominated.”

EnBW is said to have been aided in these endeavors by Moscow lobbyist Andrej Bykow, transferring ~280 million euros to Mr. Bykow’s Swiss companies over the course of several years.

Sü’s anthropological explanation of krysha said auditors from the accounting firm KPMG found that “questionable contracts with Mr. Bykow and his companies were being used to pay ‘initiation costs'” and that the auditing company’s confidential research had found that depending on the sector such expenses could run to 2% to 5% of the total cost of a project in Russia. That would make Russia one of the least corrupt countries in the world according to the experience of Siemens executives prosecuted for paying international bribes at about the same time: Siemens accountant Reinhard Siekaczek testified for example that, when he managed transfers of approx. $65 million dollars in illegal bribe money through offshore accounts from 2002 to 2006, his unit found that in the most corrupt countries bribes could be ~40% of a project’s budget, while 5% to 6% was about normal. A retired Greek official who was Greece’s defense department’s procurement director from 1992 to 2002 and recently spoke to Athens prosecutors about ~14 million euros found in his secret accounts around the world said from Russian arms deals his kickback was a “very generous” 3%, because 0.5% to 1% was his usual fee.

Germany has some rules against companies’ paying bribes in other countries, even where corruption is supposedly endemic, as can be seen from the billion-euro fines imposed on Siemens for bribery in 2008. Reporting on possible investigations into the corruption is confused by the use of tax investigations to obtain convictions or evidence in non-tax crimes and EnBW is apparently under investigation for a completely different type of tax fraud (the “carousel” sales tax scheme for avoiding value-added tax and/or collecting refunds of advance V.A.T. payments that were never made) now suspected to have become widespread in European electricity trading. Shortly after the utility’s “opaque business deals” with Mr. Bykow became known in 2011, several tax offices told S.Z., they quickly began looking for improprieties.

The passage of years since the start of these investigations, which state, federal and European offices of which types of investigators, and what pieces of this apparently large and sprawling puzzle they were examining, remains unclear to me.

Mannheim prosecutors are said to have been investigating six former EnBW managers and one current EnBW manager since 2012 for tax evasion and “breach of trust” [Untreue] though not for corruption. That could change now that the Karlsruhe tax office has started looking into the questionably documented filling and emptying of the company’s clandestine accounts in Switzerland.

Tax-wise, the power company has already offered to file adjusted German returns for the years 2000 to 2007 and has already transferred an additional 60 million euros to German tax authorities (about what the company saved in taxes by incorrectly labeling some payments to Mr. Bykow as “business expenses,” Mannheim prosecutors said). But new threads to pull keep getting teased out of EnBW’s data.

Sü described a strange nonprofit charity Mr. Bykow founded called “St. Nikolaus the Miracleworker”—whose board members included EnBW managers at times—which made donations to Russian churches, young Russian musicians and Russia’s Air Force, Navy, Border Patrol and “landing troops” [Landungstruppen; amphibious assault?].

“Thus, the Russian Pacific fleet’s submarine squadron Wilutschinsk Kamtschatskij Kraj named a boat after the Nikolaus charity. The charity, in its turn, gave the submarine personnel a minibus and donated a car to their commander, a vice-admiral. For the ‘maintenance of the fighter bomber SU 34, “Holy Nikolaus the Miracleworker,”‘ the foundation donated the construction of a heated airplane hanger. And every year the regiment’s top member received an automobile.”

Though it’s unclear how these arrangements were reached, with Mr. Bykow’s help EnBW ended up receiving military uranium taken e.g. from decommissioned Russian submarines. The utility was said to have used similar methods to increase its access to Siberian gas fields.

(Krysha   TSOLL oong en.)


“Separated banks law,” proposals for which are in the works in Brussels. wrote that financial industry lobbyists can no longer induce many significant changes to the E.U.’s banking union but they’ve been trying so hard to affect the bank separation law now under discussion that interior commissioner Michel Barnier has ordered E.U. officials to stop meeting with bank lobbyists. That phase of the process is now officially over, he said, and the industry was abusing the system.

“In view of our workload and the sensitivity of our current dossier, until instructed otherwise Market D.G. employees should not meet with bankers, their representatives or their associations.” “Thank you for conscientiously following this order from our commissioner.” –From excerpts of an email sent by Mr. Barnier’s general director Jonathan Faull to his employees in early December 2013.

Mr. Barnier’s spokesperson told the magazine he wants to implement the new bank structure reforms currently being drafted before the E.U. parliamentary election in May 2014. said the new rules would be based on the 2012 report of group of experts under Finnish central bank chief Erkki Liikanen that found banks “ought to separate their own securities trading, derivatives trading, loans to hedge funds and loans to private equity companies from the rest of their ‘customer business.'”

Trennbanken and Universalbanken [separated banks and universal banks] are two German ways to differentiate between “consumer banks” and post-deregulation’s sprawling “investment banks” or “speculating banks.”

It would be nice if the discussion introduced a new word for the investment banks’ term “Chinese walls” to describe their in-house arrangements for artificially blocking information flows that could generate in-house profits. “Chinese walls” seems insulting to China.

(TR-R-R-ENN bonk en geh ZETTS.)

Legislativer Fussabdruck

Legislative footprint.

A article about the financial industry’s efforts to lobby officials in Brussels mentioned that the E.U. has voluntary self-registration of lobbyists in its “transparency register.” The authors said the U.S.’s “legislative footprint” to register lobbyists and their undertakings is a better system in that Washington’s is mandatory.

Update on 06 Jan 2013: The U.S.A.’s archives of lists of lobbyists and political donations may have been hacked.

The Federal Election Commission’s inspector general’s 2013 audit report said the F.E.C. was, briefly describing two examples of “intrusions” that were discussed in the audit. “In May 2012, the FEC was a victim of a network intrusion by an Advanced Persistent Threat (APT). Several FEC systems and a Commissioner’s user account were compromised by this specific threat. For approximately eight months, the Commissioner’s computer contained malware…” [p. 8].

(Ledge iss lah TEEV ah   FOOSS ob drook.)

Parlamentarische Trickkiste

“Parliamentary box of tricks,” what an ARD journalist amusingly called a Green party Bundestag M.P.’s attack on the new coalition’s proposal to not reduce current workers’ monthly contributions to government pension plans as required by law and agreed by the previous government, now that the pensions’ coffers are full, but instead to use the additional income to fund pension reforms such as giving pension points to mothers for each child born before 1992. (German mothers weren’t receiving points for non-earning time spent caring for children born before 1992, one of many reasons why elder poverty primarily affects women even in wealthy welfare states.) The Green M.P. said everyone approving the proposal would be increasing their own mother’s pension, and thus any “yes” votes weren’t disinterested.

Not reducing the contributions by the 0.6% of income scheduled for 2014 means working people’s pension contributions will remain at 18.9% of their gross income, even when their income is very low. Yet about 7 million of Germany’s current ~42 million workers, including e.g. judges, bureaucrats, many self-employed people and Bundestag members, are exempted from having to make these pension contributions. Thus the second point of the Green party member’s criticism, that any M.P.’s voting to not reduce pension contributions would be helping their own mothers and grandmothers on other people’s dime, at no cost to themselves.

Update on 21 Feb 2014: The grosse Koalition voted to increase mothers’ pensions at the same time it voted to give itself a pay raise of ~10% in 2014.

(PAH lah men TAH rish ah   T-R-R-RICK kiss tah.)


Giving the wrong candidate the job.

Leftists party members (~10% of the Bundestag) tried and failed to delay the 19 Dec 2013 vote that confirmed Andrea Voßhoff (C.D.U.) as Germany’s new national data protection officer, replacing Peter Schaar (Green party?). The position is supposed to be party-neutral and is currently bossed by the interior minister (Thomas de Maizière, C.D.U.).

Jan Korte (Leftists) said because Andrea Voßhoff voted to support Vorratsdatenspeicherung, online searches—apparently meaning police searches of people’s tech—and expanding the powers of Germany’s intelligence agencies, she probably was not the best choice to become the country’s top advocate for protecting burghers’ data privacy.

A speaker for the Green party (~9% of the Bundestag) said they too are worried about Ms. Voßhoff as the national data protection officer, but recent revelations about mass electronic spying by e.g. the N.S.A. have shown the whole world how important these rights are. Even an enemy of these rights would now have to support reforms increasing protections of these rights, the Green party member said. Right?

(FAIL bezz ZOTS oong.)


The name of Ukrainian President Viktor Janukovytsch’s “residential compound” along the Dnieper river, which apparently features 345 acres of park land, a golf course, fancy buildings, helipads, pet ostriches, a gold-plated “large barge,” other sports facilities, fruit and vegetable greenhouses and serious government security guarding both the property and a nearby village. Mr. Janukovytsch has been accused of illegally privatizing the manse via the two companies that were granted a 49-year lease on the park and have been tearing down Soviet-era C.P. buildings and doing a lot of new construction.

Journalist Tetyana Chernovil climbed the wall and wandered around the inside of the park taking photographs for about three hours in 2012 before getting caught by guards and dogs. She questioned how Mr. Janukoyvch was able to afford what she saw on his annual government salary of about $115,000.

Update on 22 Feb 2014: Unbelievable photos from inside Mezhyhirya after protesters stormed it today, despite warnings of booby traps and sharpshooters. said Mr. Janukovytsch first built up the park and then privatized it by selling it off to companies based in London and Vienna, companies that he presumably controls.

Innenminister Vitaliy Zakharchenko

Minister of Internal Affairs Vitaliy Yuriyovych Zakharchenko, responsible for security forces in the Ukrainian government headed by President Viktor Janukovytsch (Independent Party) and Prime Minister Mikola Asarow (Party of Regions).

Journalist Tetyana Chernovil wrote about police brutality and corruption among government officials, including Mr. Zakharchenko, questioning among other things where the head of Ukraine’s police forces got the money to pay for his luxurious estate, a “country manor” in the village of Pidhirtsi. “Mr. Zakharchenko is the most senior government official with direct authority over the police units involved in the [violent crackdown on protesters in Maidan square on 30 Nov 2013], and there have been repeated calls by the opposition for his dismissal,” wrote

In the middle of the night on Christmas, several men in a black Porsche S.U.V. chased Ms. Chernovil down, rammed her car, pulled her from it and beat her terribly. The Guardian said she was in intensive care where doctors were going to try to rebuild her face. But it’s hard to get it bilateral again after the cheekbones get crunched. said Mr. Zakharchenko has been tasked with investigating this beating that might have been carried out on behalf of Mr. Zakharchenko. On 27 Dec 2013, the reported, Mr. Janukovytsch’s government said Mr. Zakharchenko’s police found “strong” evidence linking protest leaders to the suspects the police were investigating for the crime.

Der breuer’sche Barolo

“Mr. Breuer’s Barolo,” in this case not a decent Italian red wine but possibly a secret project at Deutsche Bank in 2002 to deliberately bankrupt media magnate Leo Kirch’s empire and profit from breaking up and selling off his businesses. Leo Kirch claimed this happened until he died. Now supposedly an email has turned up containing evidence of at least some perjury. “Project Barolo” would have been the name of the secret undertaking, which took place when Rolf E. Breuer was the head of Deutsche Bank. The found email from a London investment division was cc’d to Mr. Breuer and dated January 2002.

ZDF heute journal’s Sina Mainitz said the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported prosecutors are now investigating whether four former members of Deutsche Bank’s management board [Vorstand] and the C.E.O. Jürgen Fitschen lied in the Kirch trial when they said they never made plans to break up the media empire. Mr. Kirch’s conglomerate collapsed after Mr. Breuer accidentally let slip in a February 2002 interview that Deutsche Bank thought the conglomerate, a Deutsche Bank client, might no longer be solvent. Mr. Kirch’s ability to obtain new loans was curtailed and his companies began filing for bankruptcy in April 2002.

(Dare   BROY ahsh eh   bar OH lo.)

“Im Karneval ist es wie im Fussball: Jedes Jahr muss man mehr investieren.”

“Carneval is like soccer: Every year you have to invest more,” said a Brazilian carnevalesco interviewed by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

(Imm   CANNES é voll   issed   ess   vee   imm   FOOSS boll:   YAY dess   YAH   moose   mon   MARE   inn vest EAR en.)

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