From the cradle to the bier: forms to fear, forms to fear.
(Fonn dare VEE geh biss tsoor BAH rah: foam you LA rah, foam you LA rah.)
From the cradle to the bier: forms to fear, forms to fear.
(Fonn dare VEE geh biss tsoor BAH rah: foam you LA rah, foam you LA rah.)
The state parliament of Schleswig-Holstein commissioned a study of the legal protections accorded to whistleblowers who are German government employees. It found they have no protections, even when they report crimes.
Although Germany’s laws do end a whistleblowing official’s obligation to maintain secrecy about her job if she sees corruption crimes, they do not end her obligation to trustworthy behavior or her duty to advise and support her superior and to follow the chain of command, wrote Heribert Prantl in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. The study’s authors regretted that the current legal framework pertaining to public whistleblowers is plagued by “uncertainties” and “interpretation problems” and “to the greatest extent unclarified.”
In 2011, a decision by the European Court of Human Rights gave some protection to whistleblowers who are ordinary workers but not public employees.
The parliamentary assembly of the European Council has urgently advised the member states to pass a law protecting informants.
(Fair TROU enz VIRRED igg ess Fair HAULED en.)
Perfection sponsors pedophilia.
In its thousand-year-old quest for perfection, the Vatican under St. Pope John Paul II was staffed with high officials who were supporters of a group called the Legion of Christ and of its charismatic founder, Marcial Maciel (born 1920 in Mexico, died 2008 in U.S.A.), a man who sexually abused children. German newspaper articles said Marcial Maciel raped children, using his Legionary students and priests as “lustknaben” [lust boys], weekly but possibly daily since the 1940’s. He used to summon young people to his bed at night to massage his stomachaches; after ruining their lives he reportedly told them the pope had given him permission to assuage his ills in this manner to enable him to continue his marvellous good works. He switched to women in the 1970’s and was known to have fathered several children. When he was 56, he used a false identity to seduce a 19-year-old girl, founding a family with her, then founding a second family ten years later. “According to his women, of his four children he didn’t sexually abuse only one of them,” said the F.A.Z. [“Nur eines seiner vier Kinder missbrauchte er nach Angaben seiner Frauen nicht.”: a bit convoluted].
Marcial Maciel’s qualification as a priest and his education have been called into question, because he was kicked out of several Catholic education institutions as a teenager in Mexico despite the support of several bishop uncles before being ordained by one of those uncles.
Mr. Maciel apparently had a serious opiate addiction since the 1940’s, and used to send confidants hundreds of miles with faked prescriptions to obtain medications for him, and get nuns to administer shots and tablets to him.
The high point of Marcial Maciel Degollado’s power was in 1994, said the F.A.Z.
The Legion of Christ—which still exists and e.g. has a location in Germany, in Bavaria—has been described, in its conservative attitudes and rigorous discipline, as a bit similar to the Opus Dei and Pius Brothers groups. Founded in 1941, the organization also used anti-communism as a way to surf to power during the Cold War. It’s said to have been close to the Franco dictatorship in Spain. The Legion successfully recruited wealthy aristocrats as supporters throughout the 20th century, apparently in countries like Spain, Austria and Germany. Süddeutsche Zeitung said the Italian l’Espresso newspaper and Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal reported that the Legionaries have had huge financial resources, possibly due to Marcial Maciel’s close involvement with Carlos Slim, possibly the richest man in the world, and the German branch’s recruitment of the former “C.E.O. of the United Nations’ Refugee Agency and chair of the German Fundraising Association” [Deutscher Fundraisingverband, it’s not clear who that is or for whom they raise funds]. The Legionaries have an organization for laypeople called Regnum Christi that’s been said to have or have had 50,000 members.
Supporters of Marcial Maciel inside the Vatican included:
Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi published a book in 2012 about the discoveries he made in materials revealed by the Vatileaks Vatican whistleblowing. In Süddeutsche Zeitung, Mr. Nuzzi said that Marcial Maciel’s secretary, Pater Alfredo Moreno, met with Pope Benedict’s secretary in 2011 and reported that he had destroyed documents containing evidence of Mr. Maciel’s crimes. According to the Vatileaks information, at the 2011 meeting Pater Moreno said he was refused an audience by John Paul II’s Vatican when he tried to report this in 2003. Other German-language newspaper articles show there were decades of notifications to the Vatican about this man’s crimes. The Swiss Tagesanzeiger said a victim was refused an audience with John Paul II to discuss Mr. Maciel’s abuse in 1983. In the late 1970’s a victim sent the Vatican a letter describing what had happened to him and some of his brothers but there was no response, said the Frankfurter Rundschau. In 1956 the Vatican investigated accusations against Mr. Maciel (which they had now also received from the U.S. and Spain, in addition to Mexico); that report too has disappeared in the Vatican archives, “as have all other letters and reports containing information on Maciel’s practices,” said the F.A.Z., adding that since the 1950’s Mr. Maciel’s strategy of favorably influencing key cardinals with money and gifts created an impenetrable armor around him.
The first newspaper report about this was apparently published in the U.S.A.’s Hartford Courant in 1997 by journalists Jason Berry and Gerald Renner. Then there were reports in Mexican media. All were heavily squashed: “Libel lawsuits, advertizing boycotts, freezing out journalists who dared to take up the topic, getting personalities from public life to defend Maciel—nothing was not tried,” said the F.A.Z. Before dying mysteriously, a former Legionary well-known in Mexico asked the priest Alberto Athié to ensure that justice was served, and in 1998 Fr. Athié filed a lawsuit in Rome with eight former Legionaries against Mr. Maciel for abusing the sacrament of confession by hearing his victims’ confession after a shared night, issuing the victims absolution with an order to maintain silence. But the head of the department responsible for hearing Fr. Athié’s lawsuit, the Congregation of the Faith’s Cardinal Josef Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI), decided not to allow the 1998 proceedings despite the fact that his department at the Vatican was not the one in which previous complaints against Mr. Maciel had always disappeared and despite the fact that Cardinal Ratzinger was not known to have been one of the cardinals accepting envelopes full of money from Mr. Maciel’s network. In 1999, the archbishop of Mexico City stripped Fr. Athié of all his church functions.
(Peah FECKED shown pro tej jeert pay dough feel EE.)
Paris has ~2.3 million inhabitants and the surrounding Île de France region nearly 12 million inhabitants, said FAZ.net. For years France’s capital city has outsourced problems to its periphery, yet Paris’s mayor is only one among many mayors in the region, of communities that have to work together. All large French cities except Paris have communal associations [Kommunalverbände] where politics for neighboring communities can be worked out and some competencies shared; Paris and its neighbors are finally going to create one in 2016, called “Métropole du Grand Paris.”
“The national government will have a say as will the Île de France region, seven surrounding départements, 400 municipalities and numerous associations of municipalities. The planned local government reform is supposed to bring simpler structures, more efficiency and thus savings. In the past, the old administrative structures and their many bureaucrats always managed to live on, however, after a new agency was created. Because of that experience, the French talk about the ‘mille-feuille‘ of their administrative apparatus—thousand papers, thousand doors, as in Kafka.”
(Com yune AWL fair BEND ah.)
“New S.E.P.A. payment transfer system.”
A new bank transfer system for making payments is scheduled to go into effect in 33 European countries on 01 Feb 2014 for companies and associations and at a later date for individual people. S.E.P.A. transfers will use new 22-digit I.B.A.N. bank account numbers. There were concerns that some businesses hadn’t updated their forms in time to fit in the extra digits. On 24 Oct 2013 the Bundesbank warned that some firms were starting late and their mistakes could hurt their employees.
The new transfers between accounts in any of the 33 countries are supposed to cost no more than a domestic transfer and arrive no later than the next business day.
(NOY ess ZAY pah TSOLL oongs iss taym.)
“To make yourself a more detailed/precise picture.” When German politicians are photographed flying over a flood or hurricane looking out the airplane window, they are “making themselves a picture” of the phenomenon.
In a more positive-sounding example, the troika put together from the E.U. Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund that audits the austerity measures of financially strapped member states’ governments before allowing them to borrow more money is now being audited itself by the E.U. Parliament. Particularly the M.E.P.’s from countries subject to the troika are examining their work in detail, with criticism and questions and reporting back to their home newspapers.
(ZICHH eye n geh n OW! air ess BILLED mochh en.)
“Residency permit” vs. “residency permit.”
The names of the documents that are so important for noncitizens living in a German-speaking country have changed over time and space. Some are preliminary documents acquired in order to acquire the documents you need to acquire the main permit. Some are obsolete. Some have been Swiss or Austrian, or, perhaps one day, could be an official German-language translation of an E.U. residency document.
German<>English legal dictionaries list several other names of German-language residency permits:
Aufenthaltsbefugnis, Aufenthaltsberechtigung, Aufenthaltsbewilligung, Aufenthaltsgestattung; and Aufenthaltstitel has been an umbrella term for these docs since 2005 in Germany.
An Aufenthaltsduldung [“residency toleration”] is a temporary stay of deportation.
(Ow! fenned HALL ts geh NAME ee goong vair seuss ow! fenned HALL ts erroll OW! b niss.)
Edward Snowden cannot apply for German asylum before entering German territory. Members of the government could then issue him an Aufenthaltserlaubnis but it might not prevent his deportation to the U.S.A., because that country prudently filed a Festnahmeersuchen [“(intergovernmental) arrest request”] with Germany last summer. There are deportation agreements [Auslieferungsabkommen] between the E.U., Germany and the U.S.; to prevent deportation under those agreements an “obstacle reason” or estoppel [Hinderungsgrund] must be cited, “for example, that Germany considers the deed he is accused of to be a political crime,” said Frank Bräutigam, ARD law reporter, who added that the decision or “last word” lies with the Justice Ministry, of course in coordination with the entire cabinet. The Justice Ministry would have to make a clear statement that “Germany will not deport him.” Heribert Prantl wrote in Süddeutsche.de that the Interior Ministry is responsible for issuing Mr. Snowden’s Aufenthaltserlaubnis, but the courts and Justice Ministry are responsible for the more important question of deportation.
Bundestag member Petra Pau (Leftists; she appeared to do a great job in the parliamentary committee investigating the investigations of the neonazi serial killers) said on Nov. 1 that she could not recommend that Mr. Snowden travel to Germany under current circumstances, “because at the moment I see no one who can guarantee his safety.” Süddeutsche.de’s Heribert Prantl reminded his readers of the story of reformer Jan Hus in 1414 C.E., who received a letter of safe conduct, “sicheres Geleit,” from the Holy Roman Emperor yet was burned at the stake as a heretic.
ARD tagesschau.de showed residency-relevant paragraphs from what appeared to be a 2008 version of a residency law [Aufenthaltsgesetz, AufenthG]:
|“565. Gesetz über den Aufenthalt, die Erwerbstätigkeit und die Integration von Ausländern im Bundesgebiet (Aufenthaltsgesetz, AufenthG). In der Fassung der Bekanntmachung vom 25 Feb 2008 (BGBl. I S. 162). […]”||565. Law on residency, employment and integration of foreigners in Federal German territory (Aufenthaltsgesetz, AufenthG). In the version promulgated 25 Feb 2008 (Federal Gazette I p. 162). […]|
|“Abschnitt 5. Auftenthalt aus völkerrechtlichen, humanitären oder politischen Gründen.||Section 5. Residence due to reasons of international law [Völkerrecht, “peoples law”], humanitarian reasons or political reasons.|
|“§22 Aufnahme aus dem Ausland. (1) Einem Ausländer kann für die Aufnahme aus dem Ausland aus völkerrechtlichen oder dringenden humanitären Gründen eine Aufenthaltserlaubnis erteilt werden. (2) Eine Aufenthaltserlaubnis ist zu erteilen, wenn das Bundesministerium des Innern oder die von ihm bestimmte Stelle zur Wahrung politischer Interessen der Bundesrepublik Deutschland die Aufnahme erklärt hat. (3) Im Falle des Satzes 2 berechtigt die Aufenthaltserlaubnis zur Ausübung einer Erwerbstätigkeit.”||§22 Admittance or acceptance from outside Germany. (1) An Aufenthaltserlaubnis can be issued to a foreigner for acceptance into Germany from abroad for international law reasons or urgent humanitarian reasons. (2) An Aufenthaltserlaubnis is to be issued when the Interior Ministry or the office they nominate has declared acceptance to protect political interests of the Federal Republic of Germany [emphasis of ARD tagesschau.de and ZDF heute journal]. (3) In the case of (2), the Aufenthaltserlaubnis shall include a work permit.|
Another possibly fruitful area or “construction site” ARD tagesschau.de mentioned is the possibility that the federal prosecutor [Bundesanwalt] in Karlsruhe might use the Criminal Code [Strafgesetzbuch] to investigate certain individuals for spying on Germany.
|“§99. Geheimdienstliche Agententätigkeit.||§99. Secret service agent activity.|
|“(1) Wer||(1) Whosoever|
|“1. für den Geheimdienst einer fremden Macht eine geheimdienstliche Tätigkeit gegen die Bundesrepublik Deutschland ausübt, die auf die Mitteilung oder Lieferung von Tatsachen, Gegenständen oder Erkenntnissen gerichtet ist, oder||1. performs a secret service activity against the Federal Republic of Germany for the intelligence service of a foreign power, said activity being directed toward the communication or delivery of facts, objects or knowledge, or|
|“2. gegenüber dem Geheimdienst einer fremden Macht oder einem seiner Mittelsmänner sich zu einer solchen Tätigkeit bereit erklärt,||2. declares himself or herself willing to perform such an activity to the intelligence service of a foreign power or one of their middlemen|
|“wird mit Freiheitsstrafe bis zu fünf Jahren oder mit Geldstrafe bestraft, wenn die Tat nicht in § 94 oder § 96 Abs. 1, in § 97a oder in § 97b in Verbindung mit § 94 oder § 96 Abs. 1 mit Strafe bedroht ist.||will be punished with imprisonment [Freiheitsstrafe, “freedom punishment”] of up to five years or with a fine if the action is not punishable in accordance with §94 or §96 section 1, in accordance with §97a or in accordance with §97b in conjunction with §94 or §96 section 1.|
|“(2) In besonders schweren Fällen ist die Strafe Freiheitsstrafe von einem Jahr bis zu zehn Jahren. Ein besonders schwerer Fall liegt in der Regel vor, wenn der Täter Tatsachen, Gegenstände oder Erkenntnisse, die von einer amtlichen Stelle oder auf deren Veranlassung geheimgehalten werden, mitteilt oder liefert und wenn er […]”||(2) In especially severe cases, the punishment shall be imprisonment from one year to up to ten years. An especially severe case is usually a case where the offender communicated or delivered facts, objects or knowledge kept secret by an official office or upon their order, or when the offender […]|
und so weiter und so fort.
Tagesschau.de reported, “The federal prosecutor in Karlsruhe recently reconfirmed to ARD that relevant German authorities had been requested to send in their knowledge/ideas/facts [Erkenntnisse] regarding the bugging of the chancellor. No official preliminary investigative proceedings have been opened yet. Only after that happened would it be possible for Mr. Snowden to testify as a witness in criminal proceedings.”
(FEST nom eh eah ZOO chh en.)
Shadow budgets of many Catholic bishoprics in Germany.
An incident made the news which in turn made people aware that Catholic bishops in Germany appear to have large discretionary funds, sometimes, whose contents and disposition are not transparent.
The incident happened to be the scandalous new bishop’s residence in Limburg, originally approved for 2.5 million euros but now at 31 million and possibly costing up to 40 million ultimately as the digging and draining that proved so unwieldy and expensive for the site itself may turn out to be endangering the stability of historical buildings around it. Limburg has been settled since at least the Stone Age and has Roman ruins dating back to before the Roman empire became Christian in 380 C.E.
In tumultuous economic times, especially when Germans see more reasons to worry about their traditional issue of inflation, moving cash into real estate may be a wise investment. But the Limburg bishop’s motivations appear not to have been entirely practical ones. He was also caught subsequently perjuring himself about church finances, according to procecutors in Hamburg.
An ecclesiastical friend gossiped to me that the Limburg bishop’s shadow budget or discretionary fund was about 90 million euros because his predecessor was a saver.
In addition to reporting details about the bishop’s construction projects, which were hidden behind an expensive high stone wall and included designer gardens, conference rooms, housing for nuns (as domestic servants?), a chapel, the bishop’s own apartment and an underground relics room, reporters have also used this opportunity to explain the history of how Germany got to its strange semi-separation of church and state whereby the states collect a “church tax” and distribute it to the dioceses (income tax is collected state-by-state in Germany). After Napoleon invaded some German principalities and enacted legal reforms, in 1803 the so-called Reichsdeputationshauptschluss or “German mediatization” according to Wikipedia stripped the officially recognized churches of their property but set up annual payments—almost pensions—to the churches to compensate for the loss. Now, two hundred years later, the government still pays compensation [Staatsleistungen] to the bishoprics—my ecclesiastical friend said these obligations were eliminated for dioceses smaller than bishoprics during the last decade or so—for the church property technically confiscated in 1803. The state also pays churches Staatsleistungen for the social services the churches provide, such as day care. Also, anyone who ticks a box marking themselves as Catholic or Protestant on their mandatory registration form with the local police will automatically owe church tax [Kirchensteuer]. People voluntarily do this because they feel religious, they want to get married in a church in addition to the standard civil marriage in the town hall, or, especially, they are desperate for preschooler day care which was mandated but not provided in Germany until 2013, when actual penalties went into effect for towns that didn’t provide enough day care. Money for saving and maintaining wonderful old church buildings, bells and organs also comes from the state in these forms. Such income streams are how German cathedrals are kept heated in winter despite being giant stone piles with ceilings 20 meters above the floor ducts.
German news reported that the transparent public budget of German Catholic bishoprics includes taxpayers’ voluntary church tax [Kirchensteuer], collected and handed over by the government, for free, and the government’s own payments [Staatsleistungen, several hundred million euros annually] as rent on the property seized in 1803. Bishoprics’ untransparent private budget includes income from e.g. real estate, stocks, bonds, legacies willed to the church and interest income. ARD’s tagesschau.de reported e.g. that the Catholic bishopric of Würzburg said its private property was 271 million euros, and Cologne said it had 166 million euros. A political scientist and journalist disagreed with these numbers however, telling tagesschau.de that the Cologne diocese had three billion euros in cash and property, including an investment in a company that owned ~23,000 apartments, he told ZDF heute journal. The researcher, Carsten Frerk, published a 2010 book estimating annual subsidies of German churches at 19 billion euros and accusing churches of “false labeling” because, he said, nearly all the religious business they carried out was subsidized by government funds, taxpayers’ direct church tax and even N.G.O.’s such as Germany’s health insurance schemes. Mr. Frerk also noted that churches in Germany are exempted from paying property tax or tax on interest income and from many fees as well, while taxpayers can take church tax as a 100% deduction for which the government also receives no compensation.
Tagesschau.de reported that Hildesheim is the only Catholic bishopric that is fully financially transparent. Their books are published in their entirety, and kept according to the German Commercial Code [Handelsgesetzbuch]. ZDF heute journal reported that in the wake of the Limburg scandal 14 of Germany’s 27 Catholic bishoprics started publishing financial statistics about themselves that they hadn’t disclosed before.
To finally financially separate church and state in Germany, governments would have to make large 1803-concluding lump payments to the bishoprics which they feel they can ill-afford right now. Thus the situation continues.
Update on 09 Feb 2014: A report is expected soon from the Catholic church’s five-member commission investigating the financial scandal in Limburg. It doesn’t look good, said Spiegel.de. Construction costs of the bishop’s 2.5-million-euro residence will exceed the most recent estimate of 31 million euros. Some church foundation money [Stiftungsgelder] was diverted into the project; apparently this is mentioned because it was done improperly. Spiegel.de’s source used interestingly arcane words: The investigators managed to document possibly prosecutable [justitiabel] offenses, based among other things on information found in a “secret registry” [Geheimregistratur] found in a “conspiratorial apartment” [konspirative Wohnung] rented separately in Limburg, where the “most important documents” on the church construction project were found together with financial papers bearing the bishop’s signature which could be used as evidence. The commission’s report is supposed to go to the catholic bishops’ conference and the Vatican, but it would be nice if it were shared with the general public as well.
(SHOTTEN house halt ah FEEL ah cot OLE ish en BISS toom ah.)
“Cost/price analysis group,” what retired inspector-general pricing & logistics director Harry Kleinknecht said the U.S. Army doesn’t have, “much less an experienced one.”
A recent inspector general report’s criticized that the Boeing company, the Pentagon’s number two supplier after Lockheed, tried to overcharge the military billions of dollars, discovered in four audits over the past five years. Boeing apparently misinterpreted an inflation formula ~$2 billion in its own favor, for example. The audits caught them e.g. invoicing for new helicopter parts but installing used ones, a situation so old it sounds like how Harry Truman said he rose to F.D.R.’s attention as a congressman during World War II: by driving a congressional committee investigating lethal waste, fraud and abuse committed by military contractors (and not by being a machine politician).
Retired I.G. Boeing auditor Harry Kleinknecht also criticized that the military’s tactics and force preparedness were insufficient “in complex negotiations” with its contractors and that it did not properly inspect, evaluate and respond to the quality of results delivered, or not delivered. When the military failed to know how many items they needed of a part while ordering it, they would let Boeing oversell them, millions of dollars. When they failed to know a part’s market price or what Boeing’s manufacturing costs were for it, they would let Boeing overcharge them, millions of dollars (~$2000 each for a ~$12 part, ~$600 each for a ~$10 part). Contracting officials lacked the engineering? accounting? criminal justice? experience to discern what some of the problems that needed fixing were, Harry Kleinknecht indicated. Bloomberg.com said the inspector general’s report deemed the military’s contract management “lax.” A spokesperson for the inspector general’s office mentioned that the wording of the military procurement contracts could have but did not prevent some of the more expensive and possibly dangerous suppliers’ misunderstandings in the suppliers’ favor, a situation that can hopefully be improved by leveraging the experience accumulated in this area for >100 years.
(COST en PRIZE on ah LEEZ en grue peh.)
“Office for Professional Responsibility,” an in-house ethics watchdog. In the U.S.A.’s federal government, e.g. the I.R.S., F.B.I., Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the Department of Homeland Security each has one, and the Justice Department has one. Serious criticisms written by U.S. judges are apparently supposed to be reported in the Justice Department to your supervisor and then on to Justice’s Office for Professional Responsibility.
A Freedom-of-Information-Act request by USA Today found that the Justice Department’s Office for Professional Responsibility not only did not investigate the scathing criticism of the N.S.A. written by at least two judges on the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court supposed to monitor the agency, but Justice’s Professional Responsibility office had no record of having heard about it.
The F.I.S.A. judges objected to the N.S.A.’s lying to the F.I.S.A. court.
(Byoo ROE foor beh ROOF lichh eh fer AUNT vort oong.)
“Privacy & Civil Liberties Oversight Board,” oversight in this case meaning not overlooking but supervising, or at least providing their boss with advice. The White House has had one of these since 2004 when Congress established it in response to a recommendation in the 9/11 Commission Report. The advisory board has five members, nominated by the President and approved by Congress. They “serve at the President’s pleasure.”
FederalRegister.gov lists some of the board’s history and the following responsibilities.
“The Board advises the President and other senior executive branch officials to ensure that concerns with respect to privacy and civil liberties are appropriately considered in the implementation of all laws, regulations, and executive branch policies related to efforts to protect the Nation against terrorism. This includes advising on whether adequate guidelines, supervision, and oversight exist to protect these important legal rights of all Americans. In addition, the Board is specifically charged with responsibility for reviewing the terrorism information sharing practices of executive branch departments and agencies to determine whether guidelines designed to appropriately protect privacy and civil liberties are being followed[.]”
What changes could have been made to this board or other institutions that might have prevented the last decade’s vast growth in U.S.-led collection—by U.S. government agencies, international private-sector companies and friendly foreign governments’ agencies—of domestic and foreign communications? What would have kept our intelligence industry manageable and monitored and transparent enough for a democracy?
(OW! f zichh ts rot foor pree VOT s fare eh oont FRYE heights rect eh.)
“Joint Terrorism Defense Center.” Apparently the German police and secret services have been working together at this institution since its founding in 2004 under poor Otto Schily. Many Germans are terrified by the idea of police and spies working together.
If the reasonable, brave, intelligent, energetic and left-leaning defense attorney Otto Schily, cofounder of the German Green party in 1980, could as interior minister in an S.P.D. + Green party coalition federal government help set up the “antiterrorism” cooperations that Otto Schily apparently did, then institutions in governments around the world could use a good hard review by politicians who don’t want to see themselves forced into similar stances in the very near future.
A recent review of Germany’s antiterror laws by the interior ministry and the justice ministry, examining in particular who has what authorities and who checks their work, has concluded and published its nonbinding report. Interior minister Hans-Peter Friedrich (C.S.U.) was satisfied with the current laws but justice minister Sabine Leutheusser-Scharrenberger (F.D.P.) is not: she is calling for a new law providing uniform and limiting rules for antiterror centers where police and intelligence services exchange information.
“When we’re talking about intervention authorizations that go deep, precisely the ones that penetrate into the privacy and personality spheres of individual people, then there have to be definitive rule-of-law procedures, mandatory notifications, inspection and controls, transparency.”
(Geh MINE zom ess TARE or OB vare tsent room.)
The U.K.’s “independent reviewer of terrorism legislation,” who is looking into the police’s invocation of Britain’s “antiterror” laws when they interrogated David Miranda for nine hours without a lawyer after he tried to change planes at Heathrow—a difficult connection airport even when you’re not terrorized by authorities. They confiscated Mr. Miranda’s computer, phone and all other electronic gear.
David Anderson, Q.C., has also been called “U.K. Terror Law Watchdog” in English-language headlines.
(OON ob HENG iggah reVISor foor dee tare or IZ moose geh ZETZ gay boong.)
Independently avoid, autonomously avoid.
The airspace regulation problem cited for why the European Aviation Safety Agency and the U.S.A.’s Federal Aviation Administration refused to allow the at-one-time largest remotely operated drone, the U.S./German Euro Hawk, to fly over U.S. and European airspace was the agencies’ requirement for “sense-and-avoid” technology ensuring drones avoid collisions with other aircraft as well as a human pilot would do. Wouldn’t guaranteed collision avoidance be impossible without first implementing Isaac Asimov-like laws of robotics to the extent that the drone would “want” to survive and protect just as much as a human pilot? Even Asimov’s laws of robotics might not fix drones’ vulnerability to remote hacking that could deliberately crash them, armed or unarmed. Supplementary to the air traffic rules preventing collisions with other aircraft, what regulations might help keep hacked or broken drones from colliding with objects on the ground or in orbit?
The situation may be evolving and toward deregulation of anticollision requirements in the U.S.A.: an FAA.gov press release dated 26 Jul 2013 announced a “giant leap” and “milestone” had been achieved because the Federal Aviation Administration was for the first time “type-certifying” unmanned aircraft for flight: the Scan Eagle X200 from Insitu and the PUMA from AeroVironment, each weighing ca. 55 pounds with ~3-meter wingspans. “A falcon flying blind,” that cannot “see” without its ground stations, the Euro Hawk was said to weigh 15 metric tons and be 40 meters wide. Its delivery flight was supposed to be at 20,000 meters altitude.
Germany’s Euro Hawk surveillance drone program was canceled in May 2013—and the sudden course correction may only have been caused by a concerned whistleblower who informed Bundestag member Hans-Peter Bartels (S.P.D.) in whose district they were going to base the crash-prone drones. Since then, Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière (C.D.U.) was caught lying about when he knew the Euro Hawk was a bust yet didn’t report this and continued paying for the program. If the German defense ministry under Thomas de Maizière (C.D.U.), Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg (C.S.U.), Franz Josef Jung (C.D.U.) and Peter Struck (S.P.D.) ignored internal warnings for years saying this seemingly-unsolvable safety problem was unsolvable under the planned budget and schedule, then people in government appear to have been several hundred million euros certain they could eliminate the air traffic regulations rather than fix the engineering issue.
The Euro Hawk prototype delivered from California to Germany in 2011 twice lost contact with its operators, according to FAZ.net, for about ten minutes each time. When found again it had deviated from course and “even lost altitude.”
German voters already experience a frisson of angst if they see or hear military jets in the air because it reminds them of when hundreds of spectators were sliced and burned in the firey crash of fighter jets flying in formation at an air show over Ramstein air base. The notorious industrial band took the name Ramstein after the disaster as an act of provocation.
(ZELL bst shten dick OW! ss vye chhen, EYE geh n shten dick OW! ss vye chhen.)
“View into the files,” access to files, to audit records and check documentation systems. What inspectors and transparency advocates request.
(OCT en EYE n zichh t.)
“History of everyday life,” history of ordinary people and ordinary things they did and made. Alltag in the present is considered rather gray and oppressive in a special way in Germany, at an intensity only made possible by festivals, so another English explanation of Alltagsgeschichte might be history of the LDG, loathsome daily grind, rather than of DWM, dead white males.
Most people who ever lived have been forgotten. The ordinary events in their ordinary lives might have been considered the most unworthy of documentation because ubiquity gives an air of permanence, because the literate few didn’t know how normal people lived or because chroniclers wanted to erase or deny aspects of it. Accidents are thus the source of much of the little we know in Alltagsgeschichte and related branches of historical study. Such as the preservation of medieval clothing cast aside in mountain salt mines, the preservation of Stone Age bodies in Alpine glacier ice, the Viking custom of sacrificing things valuable to them in anaerobic peat bogs. It took an unusual event to bring details of common people’s lives into written forms that were preserved: in witch trial documents clerks wrote down where women were and what they were doing when bedeviled, old coroner’s reports contain information about peasant work, Samuel Pepys’s diary is a unique source of day-to-day detail, and Ken Starr’s report accidentally tells us more about White House routine than any political memoire. Anything that causes secret services to violate people’s rights to privacy will record details of everyday life otherwise lost to posterity. On a lighter note, today’s Bundestagsfloskeln websites, where people can submit examples of classic German parliamentary speech phrases, real or “pastiche,” are accidentally excellent teaching aids to people unfamiliar with parliamentary democracy or the intense German “discussion” tradition.
One wonders what technology, customs and rules might lead to a future Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy-type encyclopedia in which important events are narrated in 3D video with realistically embarrassing detail.
(OLL togs geh SHICHH teh.)
“Construction deficiencies.” The factory building that recently collapsed in Bangladesh, in which thousands of people were working despite cracks in the walls having been spotted the day before, had insufficient steel in its framework, insufficient cement in its concrete, and whoever was responsible had added three extra stories to the number of floors allowed on its construction permit.
There were reports that, after the cracks were spotted, fire inspectors closed the building. But factory owners ignored them and ordered people in to work the next day.
(B OW! main gell.)
“Greyhound method” for first-come-first-serve allocation of press seats in the small state courtroom where the last surviving member of the neonazi serial-killing terrorist cell will go on trial this month. The foreign press didn’t find out about signing up until half an hour after local journalists had gotten the last seat. There has been serious shouting, ernsthafte Diskussion and a rapid decision by the constitutional court in Karlsruhe, and now the trial has been delayed a couple weeks and seats will be redistributed.
(VIND hoond fer FAR en.)
“Sow sty.” In German, the sow is a more intensive metaphor for the pig. Pigs are pigs, but the sow is the SOW. After a six-month investigation of the Saxony state Verfassungsschutz office (Saxon LfV), the investigating committee (of “independent experts” under a former German Attorney General) has said the place wasn’t a complete sow sty but they still have some recommendations for reform. The commission proposed creating a permanent “Verfassungsschutz commissioner” for Saxony, a position that does not yet exist in any other German states and would be similar to the state “data protection commissioners” who are already widespread. The Verfassungsschutz commissioner should have an intelligence background, investigate independently, and not be dependent on which parties control majorities in state parliaments or on legislature election periods.
The investigation was started half a year ago by the CDU governor of Saxony after some Saxon LfV files relevant to the serial-killing neonazi terror cell turned up but no one knew whence or how. Although the independent commission did not discover the origins of those files either, they did find many problems with the Saxon LfV’s filing system and also recommended “tightening things up” organizationally inside that authority, leaving power structures as they are but sending “the best people” to federal centers.
“Spy spies on spy.” A quote from left-wing Thuringian state parliamentarian Martina Renner (Die Linken) and the subheadline to this Spiegel-Online article reporting that the Thuringian state parliament’s investigating committee now calculates there were about 40 “V-people, spies or informants” in the 1990’s group whence came the Thuringian neonazi cell that murdered people with immigrant backgrounds for years without getting caught. Thus it appears the Thuringian state Verfassungsschutz, the federal Verfassungsschutz and other agencies paid about one out of every four people in the cell’s source group for information.
Thuringian Verfassungsschutz violated its criteria in selecting these paid informants and apparently also in evaluating the results obtained from them (cf. updated V-Mann, V-Frau).
The investigating committee in Erfurt has had access to V-people acquisition and evaluation files since last week. The investigating committees in Erfurt and Berlin now have access to about 2000 files, including 795 from Verfassungsschutz and 685 from the police.
The three secret services dealing with this problem at the time were the Thuringian state Verfassungsschutz (LfV), the federal German Verfassungsschutz (BfV), and the Militärischer Abschirmdienst (MAD), a new one to me.
(SHPITS el beh SHPITS elt SHPITS el.)
German Federal Networks Agency for Electricity, Gas, Telecommunications, Post and Railroads, a federal regulation authority tasked with maintaining and promoting competition in “so-called network markets,” according to Wikipedia.
(BOON dess NETZ ah gen tour foor elek tree tsee TATE, goz, tay lay com MOON ee ka TSEE OWN, post oond EYE zen bonn en.)
Prebendary, a type of canon in the Catholic or Anglican church. Now used in German to mean someone who receives a stipend without having to work for it. A sinecure holder.
The European Electricity Exchange runs platforms for trading in many power-related markets. It is located in Leipzig and was created by a fusion of Leipzig’s LPX and Frankfurt/Main’s EEX in 2002.
A study commissioned by Germany’s Green Party has announced that while for years now electricity prices have been steadily falling on the EEX, electricity prices have been steadily rising for Germany’s small private consumers. Cost reductions have not been passed along to private consumers and cost increases have. German consumers are paying an estimated EUR 0.02/kilowatt hour too much, totalling three billion euros this year. High-volume customers, such as industrial clients, have meanwhile negotiated lower electricity prices with the utilities and lower environmental contributions with the government. The Bundesnetzagentur has now calculated e.g. that Germany’s biggest electricity customers consume 18% of its electricity but pay only 0.3% of the alternative energy law costs.
Responding to the report, the power companies blamed the flawed system, which they say is politicians’ fault. Also, they say, high prices are caused by taxes and environmental contributions.
ZDF heute journal reports that small private consumers aren’t switching electricity providers enough to create a sense of market competition.
Nationale Anti-Doping Agentur, Germany’s national agency for combating illegal substances in sport. A recent Spiegel-Online editorial felt NADA could learn from the excellent recent work of its U.S. equivalent, USADA, which after years of investigations has successfully placed a lifelong ban on cyclist Lance Armstrong for doping.
“USADA has shown… in an exemplary manner, what is possible when an agency does not succumb to the pressure from sports, politics and sponsors, but instead investigates autonomously, fulfills its core task and wants to get close to the truth. With the spectacular Armstrong case, the USADA has emancipated itself, in an outstanding way. …Tygart and the USADA have shown what is possible when you’re interested in clarifying a matter and you use all the information at your disposal.” By which he means tax information from the IRS, inter alia.
“Four-eyes principle,” sometimes called the two-man rule in English. Important decisions are not made and important activities are not carried out by just one person.
“Accelerated distribution process.” A paperwork system at least one physician, working at Göttingen and Regensburg university hospitals, was caught manipulating to artificially improve some statuses in lists of patients awaiting organ transplants. It turns out a suspiciously high percentage of hearts and livers has been allocated using the alternate, accelerated procedure in Germany. Records are now being re-examined and the organ allocation system will be overhauled. More transparency has been promised, to restore public confidence. This will be accomplished via “more intensive inspections” (unannounced and “end-to-end”), publication of inspection reports and implementing an “extra eyeballs” principle ensuring more than one person will be checking steps executed in the process.
The responsible medical administrators do not want government involvement additional to these agreed changes to be superimposed on these ethical decisions. Patient rights organizations do, however, and have asked for a central authority to be created to oversee related medical ethics considerations. Both sides agree that the penalties for such manipulation should be made tougher.
Update on 03 Jan 2013: Munich was also caught doing this. Now Leipzig University Hospital physicians have been implicated in a similar scandal. The Leipzig problem was discovered by the Göttingen, Regensburg and Munich reforms, which included a review or audit commission (Prüfkommission), “extra eyeballs” principle and increased risks and penalties for tricksing.
Update on 04 Sep 2013: The investigation has found that Münster was also doing this. There is a discussion about the incentives to doctors and hospitals for performing organ transplants in Germany. It’s more subtle than just money, examining ego but also structures that encourage competition among medical departments. Meanwhile, burghers have shown they have less incentive to opt in as organ donors until these issues are clarified.
(Beh SHLOY nick tess fer GOB eh fer FAR en.)
“No celebrations without Meier.” Title of a 1932 movie about a guy who ran a combination marriage bureau and divorce service.
(Kine eh FIRE oh neh MY er.)
The new “Market Transparency Office,” under the auspices of the German Federal Cartell Authority. The MTO is intended to gather and evaluate data from electricity companies and especially gas stations to ensure there is no price fixing. These data will not be shared with the public. It is not clear whether this new office will be functional or grandstanding.
Update on 12 Sep 2013: Starting today, drivers will have access to the price data ~13,000 German gas stations have been sending to the federal cartel authority [Bundeskartellamt] since 31 Aug 2013. The bundled data are forwarded to several phone apps and “registered consumer protection centers” or “consumer portals” drivers can use to compare gas station prices in real time; price changes are updated to the market transparency office every five minutes. Beta testing is scheduled to end 01 Dec 2013.
The following consumer portals have been approved for this so far:
Spiegel.de reported another eight “information services” have been approved to help share the price data with consumers and another hundred have applied for approval.
The Green party called this a placebo office, criticizing inter alia that it does not fix inflationary pricing malheurs committed by the refineries (which have the same ownership as some large gas station chains in some cases). Also, it doesn’t cover all fuels or 100% of the market because the smallest gas stations can apply to be exempted. Germany has about 14,000 gas stations, so ~1000 are not participating as the service is launched.
(MARKED trons par ENTS shtell ah.)