Stellarator vs. Tokamak

Two types of experimental nuclear fusion reactor. Both use magnets to try to keep hydrogen isotopes deuterium and tritium under enough temperature and pressure to fuse their nuclei into helium, but, said the Frankfurter Allgemeine, the tokamak system can only work in pulsed operation while the less common stellarator can do continuous operation, making it useful for research into electricity-generating applications.

Physicists say the bigger a pulsing tokamak is, the better it works. The world’s largest tokamak experimental fusion reactor is under construction in southern France. The “Iter” reactor in Cadarache is a joint project of Europe, Japan, Russia, China, South Korea, India and the U.S., originally budgeted at 4.6 billion euros with completion in 2020 but now expected to cost ~15 billion and be at least two years late. A project manager said the extra costs are because the original estimates were only for construction costs and did not include e.g. insurance, manufacturers’ profit and administration costs. Because each of the seven partners wants to acquire all knowledge related to this reactor so they can build copies at home, many of the parts have been manufactured in factories in multiple countries instead of by one contractor, with the added risks this entails.

The world’s largest stellarator experimental fusion reactor officially completed construction this month in Greifswald, Germany. The Max Planck Institute said since 1995 construction of the “Wendelstein 7-X” has been financed by approx. 201 million euros from the E.U.’s Euratom program, 672 million from Germany and 131 million from the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern; it was originally budgeted at 500 million euros but ended up costing >1 billion.

The stellarator in Greifswald is not intended to fuse hydrogen atoms but is intended to research electricity generation via fusion. The tokamak in Cadarache intends to use 50 megawatts to produce 500 megawatts via fusion, getting more energy out than was put in for the first time said a representative; researchers there are interested in pure physics research but also developing technologies that will be used in the next generation of fusion reactors, probably not available before 2050.

The world’s previous largest tokamak experimental fusion reactor was at Culham, U.K., and only managed to produce 60% of the energy that it fed into the reaction.

Bundesverfassungsgerichtsreform

Reform of Germany’s supreme Constitutional Court.

In an interview given because he wanted to encourage more discussion about the European Union, Constitutional Court president Andreas Voßkuhle indicated there’s talk about reforming the Bundesverfassungsgericht. He said it wouldn’t be a problem if future German supreme court judges were to be elected not by a Bundestag committee, as they are now, but by the Bundestag plenum, as long as the condition is maintained that the candidates do not make statements. Questioning the judges before their election “would threaten to immoderately politicize the Court.” It appears a seat on the Bundesverfassungsgericht is for one term only, because Dr. Voßkuhle said enabling re-election of supreme court judges would be a “stab in the heart” to judicial independence.

(BOON dess fair FOSS oongs geh R-R-R-ICHHTS ray form.)

Perfektion protegiert Pädophilie

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:

  • Cardinal Angelo Sodano at the State Secretariat, who has been accused of leading a “coverup faction” that tried to hide priests’ pedophilia at very high levels. Cardinal Sodano may have had good connections to the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet because “as a nuncio he introduced Maciel into Chilean society during the time of the Pinochet military dictatorship,” according to the F.A.Z.
  • Pope John Paul II’s secretary, Stanislaw Dziwisz, who became the cardinal-archbishop of Krakow.

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.)

Kommunalverbände

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.)

Einheitsstecker

Uniform plug.

The E.U. agreed on a universal adapter for recharging electric cars!

They’ve even chosen the model: in German it’s called the “Type 2” or “Mennekes” plug.

(EYE n heights SHTECK ah!)

Kanzleramtschef, ChefBK, Kanzleramtsminister

“Chief of the chancellory,” Angela Merkel’s chief of staff, whose duties include coordinating and controlling/monitoring Germany’s secret services as the boss of the federal government’s intelligence agencies officer [of the person with the job title Beauftragter der Bundesregierung für die Nachrichtendienste].

Update on 25 Jul 2013: After Bundeskanzleramtschef Ronald Pofalla testified secretly before the Parlamentarisches Kontrollgremium, the parliamentary committee that is pro forma in charge of Germany’s intelligence services, he made a statement to the press saying absolutely everything done so far by Germany’s spy agencies had been legit and in compliance with German law. Also that German data protection law had not been reinterpreted. Supervisory committee members from opposition parties (parties that were in the ruling coalition when the information exchange began between German and U.S. intelligence agencies, as far as we know so far) gave counterstatements to the press indicating they were not satisfied with Mr. Pofalla’s responses to their catalog of questions about the U.S.A.’s Prism program.

Amusingly, artists at one news show edited Mr. Pofalla’s sound bite into their report to begin just he was saying “This statement is clearly false…”

(KANT’s lah omts chef,   CHEF bay kah,   KANT’s lah omts minn iss tah.)

Parlamentarisches Kontrollgremium, PKG

“Parliamentary supervisory committee” whose eleven Bundestag members are said to supervise Germany’s intelligence agencies Bundesnachrichtendienst, Militärischer Abschirmdienst and federal Verfassungsschutz. The P.K.G. is a German parliamentary committee presumably similar to e.g. the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee. Its meetings are secret, held in a supposedly unsnoopable room, and its members cannot discuss what they learn, even with other Bundestag members.

This committee is the nominal control of Germany’s intelligence agencies. Spiegel.de wrote there can be disagreement between the eleven committee members and the intelligence agencies about what is worth reporting to the committee about the activities of the agencies’ tens of thousands of employees, quoting P.K.G. member the excellent Christian Ströbele (Green party) as saying in frustration “How are we supposed to control the secret services when we get no information?”

Update on 10 Jul 2014: Clemens Binninger (C.D.U.), a former policeman, is apparently chairing the PKG.

(Pah lah men TAH rish ess   con TROLL gray me oom,   pay kah gay.)

Cuando bandoleaba

“When I was a bandit,” according to Eric Hobsbawm*. These “violent popular heroes” in “individual or minority rebellion within peasant societies” may have been aspirational to crooked central bankers.

Bankers at England’s central bank may have been among those manipulating currency exchange rates to line their own pockets, said Süddeutsche.de. Several members of the “Chief Dealers Subgroup” of the Bank of England’s “London Foreign Exchange Joint Standing Committee” were among >20 currency dealers recently suspended from large banks around the world. The dealers have been accused of using chatrooms and nicknames such as “The Cartell” or “The Bandits Club” to discuss prices for currency markets.

Süddeutsche Zeitung said there’s gossip that UBS, which also suspended a currency dealer who was a member of the subgroup, might again seek immunity in return for testimony in a potential trial, as it did in the L.I.B.O.R. scandal.

“What’s hanging in the air is whether this central bank knew about the manipulation for years and whether its employees were involved in the affair,” wrote Süddeutsche.de, saying [corruption] at a central bank would add “a new dimension” to recent banking scandals. The Bank of England published minutes of the subgroup’s meetings from 2005 to 2013 this week that are said to be of interest in possible shenanigans. The subgroup last met in February 2013.

In the U.K., the Bank of England acts as a regulator to help ensure financial stability, Süddeutsche.de said. The government body investigating possible currency market manipulation is Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority.

“Currency markets,” said a Süddeutsche.de op-ed, “are the world’s biggest financial market, with a daily turnover of US$5.3 trillion. …London is the center, [where] about half the world’s currency business is transacted. That’s also where the London Fixing is calculated. It is a fixed exchange rate between currencies, the most important one is published every day at 4 p.m. The business is controlled by a few major banks.” Investigations of about 15 banks for currency manipulation began in fall 2013, but the Bank of England was supposedly warned about a potential problem in 2006.

* Eric Hobsbawm’s book Bandits describes three subtypes: noble robbers like Robin Hood, avengers like the Brazilian cangaçeiro Lampiao and haiduks or “primitive resistance fighters.”

Selbstschutz

“Self protection,” i.e. self-policing groups that the Ukrainian opposition organized in multiple cities to “arrest” plunderers and actual and accidental provocateurs during the protests.

In the town of Lviv this week, in western Ukraine, police and military buildings and barracks were occupied and then guarded by Selbstschutz volunteers, said ZDF heute journal. “Anyone whose blood is boiling can go to Kiev,” said one such guard, speaking into a megaphone.

After protesters stormed President Janukovytsch’s huge country residence at Mezhyhirya on 22 Feb 2014, the paramilitary Selbstschutz found themselves guarding it as well. “Why should we plunder what belongs to us?” At first they tried to admit only small groups of people but, when the students and families with children massed outside threatened to tear the gates off the hinges, they let everyone in after asking them not to trample the lawns. Amazing photos resulted of Ukrainians wandering bemused around the giant hunting lodges, zoos and one fake 16th-century? Spanish galleon.

(ZELBST shətz.)

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.)

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 Spiegel.de 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 Süddeutsche.de 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 Süddeutsche.de.

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, Spiegel.de 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: Spiegel.de 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)

Sittenpolizei

“Morals police.”

For over thirty years, professional and amateur morals police in Iran have beaten women who appeared outside the home in clothing the morals police felt was inappropriate.

Now, new president Rouhani has said, women will no longer be arrested for appearing unveiled in public.

“Good manners [Sittsamkeit] is more than just wearing the hijab. The way the guardians understand modesty awakens contradictions in our society. It has negative consequences, contradicts the teachings of Islam and is unconstitutional.” —Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

Iran’s chief of police, General Ismail Ahmadi-Moghaddam, “confirmed that women’s clothing will no longer be a law enforcement matter,” Süddeutsche.de reported, adding that the general was concerned about the bad reputation Iran’s police had accrued from this since 26 organizations had been tasked with the “Gaschte Erschad project,” he said, with millions budgeted for their work.

Update on 22 Nov 2013: A leader in the dreaded Basij militias, Sardar Naghdi, said at Friday prayers at the University of Teheran, where hardcore defenders of the 1979 Revolution governments have been meeting, that Facebook, YouTube and Google are instruments the U.S. has been using to subjugate Iran. He said this because President Rouhani’s government was considering allowing internet-based social networks in the country again.

(ZITT en pole eats eye.)

Rundfunk-Staatsvertrag

“Broadcaster’s treaty,” also short for the name of a law, the Staatsvertrag für Rundfunk und Telemedien or German Interstate Treaty on Broadcasting and Telemedia.

The broadcasting treaty regulating one of Germany’s two big public broadcasters, ZDF, is being reviewed by the supreme Constitutional Court [Verfassungsgericht] in Karlsruhe after a political fight in 2009 about firing ZDF’s editor-in-chief. Germany’s other big public broadcaster, ARD, reported that the case’s core question is whether governments and political parties have too much influence in ZDF’s current setup. The states of Rhineland-Palatinate and Hamburg brought the lawsuit to the supreme Constitutional Court in the form of a complaint about who’s on two boards that control ZDF.

“I believe that we have, step by step, walked ourselves into too much dominance by the government-influenced members of the Administrative Council [Verwaltungsrat] and Television Council [Fernsehrat].” –Kurt Beck (S.P.D.) former Rhineland-Palatinate governor and chair of the ZDF Administrative Council [Verwaltungsrat] who, after trying and failing to make legislative changes, co-brought the suit.

Former Hessian governor Roland Koch (C.D.U.) led the 2009 fight in the Administrative Council [Verwaltungsrat] to not renew ZDF editor-in-chief Nikolaus Brender’s contract.

The ZDF Administrative Council [Verwaltungsrat] has 14 members, of whom five represent German states and one represents the federal government. The remaining eight Administrative Council members are selected by the 77-member ZDF Television Council [Fernsehrat]. That board is supposed to “set guidelines for ZDF shows and advise directors about programming questions” and to consist of 77 people from societally important groups, namely

1 person from each of the German states signing the Staatsvertrag, 3 people sent by the federal government, 12 people sent by the political parties proportionate to their proportions in the Bundestag, 2 sent by the Protestant church, 2 sent by the Catholic church, 1 from the Central Council of Jews in Germany, 1 from the German association of unions [Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund], 1 from the association of service job unions ver.di [Vereinte Dienstleistungsgewerkschaft e.V.], 1 from the bureaucrats’ union [Deutscher Beamtenbund], 2 from the federal association of employers’ unions [Bundesvereinigung Deutscher Arbeitgeberverbände], 1 from the national chambers of commerce association [Deutscher Industrie- und Handelskammertag], 1 from the German agriculture central committee [Zentralausschuss der Deutschen Landwirtschaft], 1 from the central association of German craftsmen [Zentralverband des Deutschen Handwerks], 2 from the association of German newspaper publishers [Bundesverbandes Deutscher Zeitungsverleger], 1 from the German journalists’ association [Deutschen Journalistenverbandes e.V.], 1 from the media section of the service jobs union ver.di, 4 from the Free Welfare Associations [Freie Wohlfahrtsverbände] (and that should be 1 from the German Protestant church’s Diakonie Werk, 1 from the German Catholic church’s Deutscher Caritasverband e.V. umbrella association of charities, 1 from the German Red Cross, 1 from the central committee of the German workers’ welfare group Deutsche Arbeiterwohlfahrt e.V.), 1 from the German cities’ council [Deutscher Städtetag], 1 from the German association of cities and communities [Deutscher Städte- und Gemeindebund], 1 from the German counties’ council [Deutscher Landkreistag], 1 from the German sports association [Deutscher Sportbund], 1 from Europaunion Deutschland e.V., 1 from the German association for the environment and protecting nature [Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland e.V.], 1 from the German nature protection association [Naturschutzbund Deutschland], 1 from the association of displaced persons [Bund der Vertriebenen], 1 from the coalition of victims of Stalinism [Vereinigung der Opfer des Stalinismus] and 16 from education, science, the arts, culture, the film economy, the free professions, family work, child protection, youth employment, consumer protection and animal protection.

Yet ARD tagesschau.de legal correspondent Frank Bräutigam’s chart broke these 77 members down into only three main groups: 45.4% board members from governments/political parties, 27.3% from unions, 20.8% from professional groups. The current judicial review will be casting a sharp eye on the complaint that the 27.3% unions and 20.8% professional groups are also nominated by the political parties. In fact, said ZDF heute journal, a considerable portion of them are selected by state governors, adding that informally the television council actually breaks down into two large groups: the C.D.U.’s allies and the S.P.D.’s allies. Usually, said people defending the current system, the duopoly controlling the ZDF television council is balanced enough to prevent the appearance of violation of the German Constitution, which guarantees freedom of reporting in broadcasting and film (Grundgesetz, Art. 5).

ZDF heute journal said the supreme court cannot change the Staatsvertrag but can define criteria limiting it.

ARD tagesschau.de calmly concluded their report by noting that the German supreme court in Karlsruhe has been issuing decisions that help define Germany’s media landscape for decades now. A verdict is expected in 2014.

Update on 25 Mar 2014: The court issued its verdict, invalidating the ZDF charter because it allows too much political influence to be taken. Germany’s public broadcasters must not become state broadcasters, said the judges. In future, the 44% of ZDF’s board members who are politicians or “part of government or close to government” must be reduced to 33%, and political parties must stop exerting “determining influence” on the naming of the other board members (who are supposed to be “far from government” but were in part being named by e.g. state governors).

Germany’s public broadcasters must also remain available to the public and not be allowed to wither by being restricted to obsolescing technology.

The judges demanded a cultural change at German public broadcasters, to become more of what they were always intended to be, said Süddeutsche.de: an institution for the entire society, reflecting diversity and variety in that society. Freedom of broadcasting as it is guaranteed in the German constitution is based on ensuring variety of content that cannot be achieved via a free market alone, the judges said. One judge’s minority opinion said these measures were too lenient, that 33% was still too high, and he called for emancipation of the public broadcasters from government entirely.

(ROOND FOONK shtots fair TROG.)

Festnahmeersuchen

Arrest request.

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.)

Büro für Berufliche Verantwortung

“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.)

Aufsichtsrat für Privatsphäre und Freiheitsrechte

“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.)

Unabhängiger Revisor für die Terrorismusgesetzgebung

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.)

Diskutierbare Leitungsstrukturen

“Discussable management structures.” Shortly after the Offshore Leaks trove went public, in April 2013, Spiegel let go its two co-editors-in-chief, one for the excellent hourly-updated internet presence Spiegel-Online (who had started out as a journalist for the print edition) & one for the excellent weekly print edition (who started as a journalist at Spiegel TV), citing “differences of opinion on strategic orientation” and “effective immediately.” The new sole editor-in-chief is a former Spiegel-Online guy. Spiegel.de’s blog post about the shuffle indicated that the magazine’s top management structures are flexible when it mentioned that the duarchical online-and-print editorship eliminated in 2013 was established in a 2011 reorg.

Update on 26 Aug 2013: Complaints at der Spiegel because the tabloid Bild Zeitung’s deputy editor is going to become the new deputy editor at Spiegel, under new editor-in-chief Wolfgang Büchner. Büchner said the title is just a shoulder pat, that Nikolaus Blome won’t have as much influence on the news magazine as previous deputy editors, that he will in fact just run the Berlin branch office where Büchner is and not be at Hamburg headquarters, that he won’t be able to give instructions to department heads.

50.5% of Spiegel stock is owned by its journalists via Mitarbeiter KG [“Employees Inc.”], which read a statement at the (tough) meeting repeating its strong objections to Blome and to hiring Blome anyway after Mitarbeiter KG’s objection.

Süddeutsche.de wrote that the Mitarbeiter KG consortium of shareholder journalist employees’ co-management at Spiegel is based on arrangements made at the print half, which has falling circulation. The online half is apparently doing better, though it’s unclear whether SZ means that as measured by unique hits or by net profits, but its journalists find themselves in a “weaker position” than the print side’s journalists.

(Diss coo TEA ah bah rah   LIGHT oongs strrrooc TOUR en.)

Akteneinsicht

“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.)

Schlichtungsstelle für Flugreisende

“Arbitration board for air passengers.” Created on 03 May 2013 by the Bundesrat to support consumers traveling by air. Starting November 2013, passengers in Germany can contact this office to seek information about passenger rights and financial remuneration from airports and airlines after e.g. delayed connections, missed connections and/or lost luggage. What airlines owe passengers after which screwups is also being defined in regulations.

Update on 01 Nov 2013: German air passengers can now contact the Schlichtungsstelle für den öffentlichen Personenverkehr [German Conciliation Body for Public Transport] to start arbitration proceedings in disputes with airlines. German rail, bus and ship passengers already had this right from that office. Costs for the proceedings will be paid by German transport companies; passengers requiring arbitration in a transport dispute will only have to pay their own costs.

The söp’s charming and helpful English page stated,

“A traveller can get help with a complaint about delays and missed connections, train and plane cancellations, damaged or lost luggage, faulty information, tickets and reservations, and/or bad service. The main task of the söp is the out-of-court settlement of individual disputes between travellers and the transport companies. Within this, söp also helps to strengthen the customer satisfaction with the transport company. […]”

“The söp follows a service and practical approach, as intermodal (‘verkehrsträgerübergreifende’) settlement scheme. It is common for travellers to use more than one form of transport (e.g., train to plane), which can take up a lot of time in a dispute by investigating the whole chain of transport, including the responsible contracted partners. With the söp the consumer does not have to deal with the question of responsibility and can, independent from the transport of choice, just deal with one contact person at söp (one-face-to-the-customer-approach).”

(SCHLICHH toongz shtell ah   foor   FLOOG rye zen dah.)

Geschäftsführung und Aufsicht in einer Hand

“Management and management oversight in one hand.” Combining monitoring and management roles into one job held by one manager supposed to check themselves.

There can be overlap in groups as well. Apparently the board of directors running a German company and the supervisory board (Aufsichtsrat) that monitors the board of directors may not contain the same people, but this exclusion does not apply in the USA where, writes the F.A.Z., e.g. when the supervisory board approves the compensation of the management board, people who happen to be in both groups will at best merely abstain from voting.

(Geh SHEFTS foor oong   oond   OW! f sichht   in   eye ner   Hond.)

Generalsekretariat für Staatseinnahmen

“General Secretariat for Revenues,” a newly created department in the Greek government responsible for checking government income. Its head used to be in charge of the Greek General Secretariat for Information Systems (GSIS). In response to the “Offshore Leaks” data release last week, the Greek Revenues office will be investigating, among other things, a chain of offshore companies that have been providing military technology to Greece and the USA but whose actual ownership remains a mystery.

The Süddeutsche Zeitung reported: “Interoperability Systems International Hellas S.A. […] was co-awarded a 190-million euro order in 2003 for kitting out Greek F-16 fighter jets. The company also delivered hardware and software to the US Marines. In 2003, 33% of ISI belonged to Bounty Investments Ltd., which in turn owned part of another offshore company. Over that company there was a third veil as well. An attorney for ISI Hellas said Bounty Investments ‘fulfilled all requirements of the Greek tax authorities.’ Some experts think companies in the defense sector fundamentally ought not to be messing around in cloudy offshore waters.”

Update on 10 Apr 2013: This highly entertaining* SZ article about a British family that managed letterbox companies (Briefkastenfirmen) in New Zealand and includes Miami, Moscow, Pyongyang, Teheran and Vanuatu notes that it becomes impossible to trace ownership after only three to four “dummy companies” (Scheinfirmen). “After three, four dummy companies in a row the track gets lost in a thicket of commercial registers (Handelsregister, HRB).”

(Genn er OLL seck rett arr ee OTT   foor   SHTOTS eye nom men.)

 * highly entertaining until the deaths of two Russian reformers at the very end of the piece: Sergej Magnitskij (37) and Alexander Perepilitschnij (44).

 

Monarchische Kirche vs. demokratische Kirche

“Monarchic church versus democratic church.” German schools have to teach religion by law, and apparently this is the kind of discussion students are having about the Catholic church there.

(Moan ARCHH ish ah   kir chh ah   verse ooss   dame oh CROT ish ah   kir chh ah.)

Saustall

“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.

(ZOW! shtoll.)

Minister für Nationale Aussöhnung

Syria’s Minister of State for National Reconciliation Affairs responded positively on 12 Feb to the Syrian opposition-in-exile’s 10-Feb offer of dialog, agreeing to direct talks if they might result in elections in Syria.

(Min EASTER   fir   ow! ss LEN dish eh   ow! ss ZÖ noong.)

Bausoll

Though this word looks like it might mean “obligation to build” it’s actually a “construction targets” document describing precisely what has to be done in a construction project, documents apparently neglected in three prestige enterprises recently gone awry in Germany: the Elbphilharmonie riverfront concert hall in Hamburg, the new Berlin-Brandenburg airport, and the expansion of the Stuttgart train station underground (“Stuttgart 21”). ZDF heute journal reported part of the systemic problem is that responsible parties include politicians, absent in 15 to 20 years when the project finishes, who absolutely want to build the shiny thing and construction firms that absolutely want to obtain the building contracts without, apparently, feeling constrained to submit realistic bids. Also, planners’ fees apparently are a percentage of the project’s ultimate cost?

(BOW zollll.)

Erfolgsmodelle sammeln

“To collect successful models.” E.g., the EU’s plan to implement Austria’s “youth guarantee” program to counter long-term unemployment in today’s young people. Looking around the EU and the world for government projects that work well, and then implementing similar projects in other countries.

(Er FOLLLGZ moe dell eh   ZOM ellln.)

Zentrales Waffenregister

Central weapons register. Gun owners in Germany currently have to register their guns at several hundred (~550) small separate offices that don’t coordinate with one another. Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich (CSU) says the government has scheduled the creation of a central gun registry in Germany, which police will be able to use to check weapon ownership starting in early 2013. The central registry is being created in response to an EU guideline that would have allowed two more years for implementation.

Update on 15 Nov 2013: Research by Süddeutsche Zeitung and the Norddeutsche Rundfunk has discovered that development of the Waffenregister (and development of a central registry of personal I.D.’s, Personalausweisregister), were two of ~100 jobs the German government outsourced in the past five years to a German subsidiary of Computer Sciences Corporation (C.S.C.), a U.S. company very firmly entwined with the U.S. intelligence sector whose software probably can’t be trusted. C.S.C. helped develop surveillance software for the N.S.A. and was, Süddeutsche.de reported, involved via another subsidiary in the C.I.A.’s Verschleppung of the German citizen Khaled el-Masri in 2004.

Süddeutsche.de said C.S.C. helped test the Bundestrojaner malware of the Bundeskriminalamt and support the introduction of electronic files into the German courts. It helped with the introduction of a nationwide “electronic passport” and Germany’s recent “secure email” project known as De-Mail.

“The company is part of the American shadow army of private companies that work cheaply/favorably [günstig] and invisibly for the military and secret services. The company belonged to a consortium, for example, that was awarded the N.S.A.’s so-called Trailblazer Project, which was said to include development of the recently disclosed Prism program. Some of these problematic involvements have been known for years, yet supposedly not within the Ministry of the Interior, which signed the framework contracts with C.S.C.”

Interior Ministry spokespeople said the ministry had no “own knowledge” of these entanglements but that the framework contracts “usually” included clauses forbidding transmission of confidential data to third parties.

(Tsen TRALL ess   VOFF en reh GIST er.)

Falschfahrer, Geisterfahrer

“Wrong drivers,” “ghost drivers.” Wrong-way drivers, people who enter the wrong side of the German autobahn, proceeding against traffic. I’ve never understood how they manage this, but you hear over and over on German radio traffic warnings about someone driving the wrong direction on this-or-that autobahn. After a recent accident, ADAC (German AAA) estimated there are about two wrong-way drivers per day in Germany. It sounds like autobahn entrances have the potential to be redesigned into somewhat safer sluices. Technical solutions are already being tested: Austria has installed tire barriers at its autobahn entrances that pop the tires of vehicles going the wrong direction, though this is said to hinder ambulances rushing to accident scenes. BMW is testing alarms.

Apparently there’s more “Bourne”-type driving the wrong way down one-way roads in Germany than I knew: this ZDF heute journal report from 22 Nov 2012 shows cars with diplomatic plates doing it pretty consistently in Berlin.

Update on 02 Jan 2013: Technical recommendations include better signage on autobahns and warnings in cars about dangerous driving ahead. ADAC recommends “dass Falschfahrermeldungen unbedingt in die Navigationssystem eingespeichert werden,” that wrong-way driving messages absolutely must be stored in the on-board navigation system. It’s unclear to me whether this means the navigation system should inform drivers or report them when they’re driving the wrong direction.

(FOLSH far err,   GUY ster far err.)

Anti-Terror-Datei

Central federal file of police and intelligence services’ information about potential and actual terrisss but also possibly about innocent burghers. Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich has said this central file is Germany’s most important tool in the fight against tare. The “anti-terror file” is now being evaluated by the highest court (Bundesverfassungsgericht, Federal Constitutional Court) to see whether it violates the German Civil Code. Questions also include what information goes into the file and which German institutions and foreign intelligence services have access to it.

(AUNTie   TERRor   dot EYE.)

Zettelwirtschaft

“Notes economy.” Type of self organization system that leaves you drowning in a sea of notes, probably including, but not limited to, a cascade of sticky notes around your computer monitor.

(TSETT el virt shoft.)

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