Bundestagsabgeordnetendiäten

“Bundestag members’ diets,” but apparently this means their pay. In February 2014 the Bundestag discussed reforms to raise its members’ remuneration, changing it “to about that of a federal judge, with regular pay raises thereafter,” said ARD tagesschau.de. Their last raise was in 2013.

Update on 11 Feb 2014: Leftists and Green party members criticized the grosse Koalition’s plan to give Bundestag members a ~10% pay raise by the end of 2014, calling it “masslos und überzogen,” immoderate/self-indulgent/exorbitant and excessive. Gregor Gysi (Leftists) said it did not match or fit current trends in wages, pensions, and social welfare payments. At 19% of the Bundestag, the opposition will be unable to stop the bill, which looks like it will be proposed and passed in about one week.

The regular pay raises after the 10% bolus are to be linked to trends in the labor market, said the C.D.U./C.S.U. and S.P.D. proponents. Süddeutsche said this includes matching downward trends in German workers’ pay too, though those rarely happen.

The plan is to raise Bundestag members’ monthly salary from 8252 to 8667 euros on 01 Jul 2014 and then to 9082 euros on 01 Jan 2015.

Masslos überzogen,” immoderately/self-indulgently/exorbitantly excessive, is what ZDF heute journal said the new interior minister Thomas de Maizière (C.D.U.) called the government workers’ unions’ concurrent negotiation demands for a pay raise of 3.5% and 100 euros more per month (ca. 7% total) for federal and county public sector employees, about 2.1 million people in Germany.

Update on 21 Feb 2014: The Bundestag passed its pay raise to itself. 115 no’s, 10 absentions. A C.D.U./C.S.U. politician arguing for the pay raise said it was “courageous.” Green party member Hans-Christian Ströbele said the haste with which the supermajority grosse Koalition whipped the pay raise through was an indication of their guilty conscience about it.

Update on 28 Jun 2014: It’s become known that Bundespräsident Gauck is not signing the Bundestag’s pay raise to itself yet. He said his jurists are still examining some questionable points in the changes. The Bundespräsident’s signature is the last hurdle before a new law can go into effect, but the signature can only be delayed or refused if there are constitutionality questions.

Update on 29 Jun 2014: A taz.de op-ed cited a 1975 decision by Germany’s supreme Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe that Bundestag members’ pay should not be linked to civil service pay [Beamtenbesoldung] and their pay raises should have to be approved publicly, i.e. in the plenum of the Bundestag. The process for giving themselves raises should be “transparent for the burghers and decided before the eyes of the public.”

Update on 11 Jul 2014: Bundespräsident Gauck signed the Bundestag raise package, including the automatic raises to come. The 01 July 2014 raise will be implemented retroactively.

(BOON dess tochhs ob geh ORD net en dee ATE en.)

Lang kurz kurz lang

Long short short long, the ship’s horn signal sounded by Bundespräsident Gauck to launch the annual Kieler Woche sailing festival, the world’s largest regatta with >4000 vessels.

It means “Leinen los!”

(Long Kurtz Kurtz Long.)

“Bürger sind mehr als nur Verbraucher.”

“Burghers are more than just consumers.”

“Being a burgher also means helping co-design your society,” said Bundespräsident Joachim Gauck in his official speech at a lunch with visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping.

(Burgher zinned MARE alss noor fair BROW chh ah.)

“Datenschutz muss so wichtig werden wie Umweltschutz”

“Data protection must become as important as environmental protection,” said Bundespräsident Joachim Gauck in his German Unity Day speech on 03 Oct 2013.

Recalling similarites between how they discovered ways to deal with the difficulties of Germany’s reunification and how the world must discover ways to deal with today’s difficulties, he said, “Everyone involved back then was a learner—and sometimes an errer!—but they were, we were, all creators! October 3 does not just remind us of powerlessness overcome. It is also witness to the will to create freedom in freedom.”

(DOT en shoots   MOOSE   zoh   VICHH tichh   VAIR den   vee   OOM velt shoots.)

Die Verharmloser

“The harmlessers.” Pejorative hurled in June 2013 at ruling-coalition German politicians who said the U.S.A.’s spying on domestic and international emails, phone calls, video chats, text chats and search histories, in addition to snail mail, in-house company computer networks, the ubiquitous traffic and security cameras in public spaces, and even medical, financial and toll records, is okay with them. Even if this data was used to track and kill people via extralegal drone assassination.

German media have also said the ruling coalition is “talking the N.S.A. problem small,” “veiling” and “down-moderating” it, using “placating” and “appeasing” language to angry voters, especially but not exclusively before the Bundestag election on 22 Sep 2013. Data protection officers remain unappeased, vociferously warning about these issues at their national meetings. Bundespräsident Joachim Gauck invited federal data protection officer Peter Schaar to discuss the problem and its implications at the presidential palace of Bellevue on 06 Sep 2013.

Spiegel.de reminds us the imbroglio includes tapping international fiber optic cables, forcing companies to give up their customers’ data, commissioning back doors in software and hardware advertised as secure and the N.S.A. and G.C.H.Q.’s ability to use brute computing force to break encryption. Presumably satellite communications aren’t immune either.

U.S. government intelligence agencies are also spreading this behavior around the world like an antidemocratic virus to friends, neutrals and foes alike as they share technology and illicitly-gathered information with allied intelligence agencies, pay telecoms and cable companies to codevelop snoop technology and render services and outsource much of their own sensitive work to private-sector companies. Non-allied countries will feel forced to invest in similar strategies as well. Companies are being perfectly reasonable if they decide to sell to everybody. Ignoring even light regulation sets a poor example and paves the way for disaster under bad leadership, anywhere in the world.

(Dee   feh HOM loze ah.)

Tag der deutschen Einheit

“German unity day.” Celebrated on June 17 for years in West Germany to remember the popular uprising against the East German government 60 years ago this week.

The German unity holiday was changed to October 3 when East and West Germany signed the agreement to reunify on Oct. 3, 1990.

Bundespräsident Joachim Gauck, a regime-critical East German pastor who after the Wall fell led the so-called Gauck-Behörde, the agency created to figure out what to do with the Stasi files left behind by the secret police, said,

“Today it remains essential, everywhere around the world, to stand by / provide backup for those people who, though discriminated against and marginalized, courageously take a stand for freedom, democracy and justice.”

“Es gilt auch heute, überall auf der Welt, jenen beizustehen, die sich obwohl diskriminiert und ausgegrenzt mutig für Freiheit, Demokratie und Recht einsetzen.”

(TOG   dare   DEUTSCH en   EYE n h eye t.)

“Wissen, wie es war”

“To know what it was like.” Motto for the twentieth anniversary of the museum for the Stasi documents, the files and systems of the East German secret police, that were saved from destruction, reconstructed despite destruction, archived, read, evaluated, reread and shown to visitors from all over the world.

The decision to preserve the files was not as obvious now as it may seem in retrospect. Some well-meaning West German deciders wondered if finishing the Stasi’s destruction of the files might not be a benison to the Stasi’s victims, in the extremely short term. Fortunately for victims, for voters who in the decades since might otherwise have elected candidates with an “inoffizielle Mitarbeiter” (“unofficial coworker,” “unofficial employee”) past, for people living in police states who are making plans about what to do when the dictatorship falls, and for people living in potential police states, the documents were not destroyed, systems were developed to work with them while preserving privacy for the innocent, and the people at these archives are happy to share what they’ve learned with visitors.

(VISS en   vee   ess   vahr.)

Bellevue-Forum

Former rebel East-German pastor, then after reunification the head of the office maintaining and investigating the Stasi archives, now Bundespräsident, Joachim Gauck is carefully and sympathetically using his symbolic role as Germany’s president to put some good suggestions in motion. The F.A.Z. reported that Gauck said in a recent interview with the “Real Change”-type newspaper straßenfeger that he considers the President of Germany “as a type of translator between operative politics and the burghers” and that he would listen to burghers’ questions and concerns and then debate them with M.P.’s; candidly, he saw that “he can also motivate people by inviting them or giving them awards,” and he wanted to open up the presidential palace and encourage discourse. On 20 Feb 2013 the Bundespräsidential web page announced that Gauck wanted to create and drive forward public discussion via “new types of events for dialog with burghers” that will be held at the presidential palace of Bellevue, to be called the “Bellevue Forum.”

The Bellevue Forum series began Friday, 22 Feb 2013, with a touching, rousing, humble, insightful speech about Europe at Bellevue Palace before about 200 invited international guests. In the text of the speech Gauck talked about values, European Union design features that have to be corrected, the complexity of solutions to complicated problems, and practical suggestions that included creating a common European television/internet channel—like the wonderful German-French Arte, plus C-Span—to broadcast news stories from around Europe. Television highlights of the 22 Feb speech focussed on the warmth of how he reached out to people of other nationalities and faiths, how he said that to Germans more Europe does not mean a German Europe but instead a European Germany (which sounds much less lonely!), and particularly how he spoke to the UK:

Dear people of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, dear new British citizens! We would like you to stay with us! We need your experience as the oldest parliamentary democracy, we need your traditions, your pragmatism and your courage! During the Second World War, your efforts helped to save our Europe – and it is also your Europe. Let us continue to engage in discussion on how to move towards the European res publica, for we will only be able to master future challenges if we work together. More Europe cannot mean a Europe without you!

The speech concluded with a manifesto:

  1. Do not be indifferent!
  2. Do not be lazy!
  3. Recognize your ability to make a contribution!

(Bell VÜ   fore OOM.)

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