Die größte und bedeutendste Steuerkonferenz in Deutschland, die es je gegeben hat

“The biggest and most important tax conference ever held in Germany,” which will be in Berlin in October 2014 to sign, seal and deliver the new international agreement for the automatic exchange of tax data, after it is approved by the G20 finance ministers in September 2014.

67 countries and legal regions are on board; 40 want to implement the new O.E.C.D standard in 2017. Countries implementing the standard include Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Singapore, the British Virgin Islands, the Bermuda Islands and the Caymans.

This achievement was accomplished by pressure from the U.S., whose “Fatca” law required banks outside the U.S. to provide tax information about customers who had to pay tax in the U.S. The U.S. negotiated this in bilateral agreements. Then five E.U. countries said if the U.S. could do it, the E.U. should as well.

“The task of automatically exchanging the many billion data that could be relevant for the financial authorities across borders is considered extremely complex. It has already been decided that all sorts of income will have to be reported, including interest, dividends, income from insurance contracts but also capital gains [from sales]. Banks will be involved but also brokers, investment funds and insurers. This will cover the accounts held by natural persons and by trusts and foundations and the natural persons who control them. Finally, guidelines on implementation and specific details on the safe transfer of data were worked out.” —Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

(Dee   GRISS ta   oont   bed OY tend sta   SHTOY ah cone fah RENTS   inn   DEUTSCH lonned,   dee   ess   yay   geg GAY ben   hot.)

Zuverlässigkeitsprüfungsverfahren

Reliability verification procedure.

This month the responsible federal bureaux apparently stopped processing Sig Sauer’s applications for weapons export permits while investigations continue into how Sig’s guns were found in Colombia and Kazakhstan despite export permits that said “United States.”

(Tsoo fair LESS ichh kites PROO foongz fair FAR en.)

Spähspirale

A “spying spiral,” falling into an espionage arms race. Süddeutsche Zeitung echoed Chancellor Merkel when they wrote, on 10 Jul 2014,

Despite everything: Permanently spying on each other is wasteful.

“Intelligence agencies are always insatiable. They take as much money, personnel and technology as they can get. Whether this really makes the world a safer place is hard to prove. Of course there are threats, such as international terrorism, against which Germany must effectively defend itself. Including by working with the U.S.A. The energy spent on permanently spying on each other in addition to all that is wasted energy.”

On 16 Jul 2014, Chancellor Merkel’s spokesperson said it again:

“It seems to the Chancellor, and surely to the entire federal government as well, that it’s not sensible for everyone to be spying on everyone, as if we were still in the Cold War. Especially not among friends and allies.”

(SHPAY shpee RAH lah.)

Manipulation der öffentlichen Meinung, Rufmordkampagnen, Realitätsverzerrung

“Manipulation of public opinion, calumny campaigns and reality distortion… rigging online polls and altering view counts for websites.”

How Spiegel.de described some of G.C.H.Q.’s “weaponized capabilities” from a July 2012 list that Glenn Greenwald published on Bastille Day, 2014.

(Mon EEP eula SEE OWN   dare   if ent lichh en   MINE oong,   ROOF moahd comp ON yen,   ray all lee TATES faired SERR oong.)

Klopper

Whoppers,

what Spiegel.de called the two World-Cup Snowden revelations in its “Eleven Things That Happened While You Were Watching Soccer” article:

  • That most of the Americans whose communications data have been collected by the N.S.A. were not suspects.
  • That the N.S.A. etc. have been suspecting Muslim Americans just because they’re Muslim.

(KLOPP ah.)

Waffenstillstand

“Weapons standstill,” a cease-fire.

(VOFF en SHTILL shtond.)

Als Quellen benutzt

Used as sources.

On Sunday, 13 Jul 2014, it was revealed that the C.I.A. had used more than a dozen German government employees in four ministries “as sources.” Also that there had been hacking attacks on the phones on members of the Bundestag’s N.S.A. investigation committee.

Although the Bundestag is in its summer recess, its N.S.A. investigation committee met on 15 Jul 2014. The heads of all three German intelligence agencies attended. Most of the meeting was secret.

The heads of the intelligence agencies praised their organizations for finding all these U.S. spies in the German government. The opposition said the spies were found accidentally and wondered how many more spies haven’t been found yet.

(Awls   KVELL en   ben OOTS t.)

Surely…

How the awesome Univision commentators said “Schürrle” during their wonderful free webcast of la gran final de la Copa Mondial. That’s probably how the English commentators said it as well, but my search results showed no free English webcast.

Univision’s guys also thoroughly enjoyed saying “Schweinsteiger” and “Mertesäcker.”

Partido = match, pelota = ball, grito = the yelling of the crowd.

Blittscreeg bub

How the famous Ramones hit sounded in German news tributes to Tommy Ramone.

That’s exactly how the Ramones pronounced it.

Achtung vor Argentinien

Respect for Argentina!

A July 12 headline in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

(Achtung   four   Awg en TEEN ian.)

Militärphilosoph

Military philosopher.

A taz.de description of Donald Rumsfeld.

(Meal eat ERR feel ose OFF.)

Einbestellen

“Ordering in,” what you do to important diplomats after an affront by their country. They can try to explain what was meant. You can express displeasure and show voters you are responding to an event that is important.

German media regularly report that this or that ambassador has been “ordered in,” e.g. to the Foreign Office, in response to such-and-such an event. But I think U.S. reporting of these matters only begins when diplomats are expelled from a country, which may be why it made sense to so many Americans when George W. Bush announced we were no longer going to talk to regimes we had serious differences of opinion with.

(EYE n beh SHTELL en.)

Glockenhelle A-capella

An a-capella song sung in a voice as bright and clear as a bell.

From Spiegel’s review of Dolly Parton’s concert in Cologne last week, describing how she sang “Little Sparrow.” They said she captivated the crowd with her openness to the world and self-irony.

“The bigger the hair, the closer to God.”

(Glaw ken HELLA   ah cah PELLA.)

Europäisches Unternehmensregister

European register of companies, to prevent letterbox companies from obscuring who’s behind an enterprise.

The E.U. law mandating a new European companies register is being worked out in Brussels. Sven Giegold (Green party) said the current draft would only allow officials to view the register. Süddeutsche Zeitung confirmed it did not explicitly say everyone will be allowed to see the information. “Insiders said this was because publicly naming companies’ and foundations’ economically authorized persons would violate privacy.”

Sven Giegold said you don’t have to publish their names and addresses, but the public has a right to know who’s behind things. To prevent abuse of the companies register, there could be a register documenting the people who want to view the companies register.

An activist from a group called One said Africa loses 44 billion euros each year that are diverted and laundered through anonymous trusts and letterbox companies.

(Oy roe PAY ish ess   oon ta NAE MON’S ray GISS ta.)

Ausbau der globalen Regierungsbeziehungen unterstützen

“Provide support for the expansion of global governmental relations.”

This is from Rheinmetall’s description of Dirk Niebel’s new job.

Dirk Niebel (F.D.P.) was a federal development and foreign aid minister. He was probably on the Bundessicherheitsrat when it approved Rheinmetall’s billion-euro deal to sell a tank factory to Algeria. Now he is going to become Rheinmetall’s top lobbyist.

(OW! sb OW!   dare   glo ball ah   re GEAR oongs bets EE oong en   oon tah SHTIT zen.)

Rüstungsexportbericht

Arms exports report.

The Bundessicherheitsrat is a government board that meets secretly to approve German arms exports. Each deal must be separately approved as an exception to the Peace Clause in Germany’s constitution, yet so many are approved that Germany is the world’s #3 weapons exporter after the U.S.A. and Russia.

The permits issued by the Bundessicherheitsrat have been being published once each year in the annual arms exports report. The 2013 report was just published in June 2014, for example.

Reforms are under discussion. Critics of the current system say the report is being published too late and too infrequently. Now it was found that it’s too incomplete as well: The 2013 report did not mention a billion-euro deal to sell tanks, howitzers, mortars and masses of ammunition to Qatar that the previous coalition approved in March 2013.

Apparently it’s an accounting problem that happens to divide the reporting of these large arms deals up into the years of their partial deliveries, making them look smaller. It also happens to obscure when the Bundessicherheitsrat permitted these large deals.

(RISS toongs ex POT bear ICHH t.)

Maulwurf

Mole.

It was announced on July 4 that a U.S. spy was caught in the German foreign intelligence service (BND).

The federal prosecutors in Karlsruhe are investigating a 31-year-old BND employee for selling secret documents to an American contact man. The BND employee also offered his services to the Russians. It’s still not clear whether the person he thought was his American contact man was actually American and from a U.S. intelligence agency.

Update on 05 Jul 2014: Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, Verfassungsschutz, is responsible for protecting the country from foreign spies. Apparently when Verfassungsschutz started investigating this mole they asked the U.S. for help.

Update on 09 Jul 2014: Military Intelligence (MAD) may have found a second U.S. spy inside the Defense Ministry.

(M OW! L voorf.)

Autovervollständigungsfalle

The “autocomplete trap.”

Goldman Sachs is suing Google to force deletion of an email containing confidential customer information that Goldman’s contractor’s employee accidentally sent to a gmail account. Goldman also wants to know who has had access to the information in the email.

(Ow! toe fair FOAL shtenned ee goongs FALL ah.)

Eine Traube bilden

“Forming a grape,” meaning forming a cluster or bunch.

What crowds do in German.

Queues in Germany can take the form of a triangle, with the desired goal at the midpoint of the longest leg of the triangle. Old ladies also have their own rules, especially at the twice-weekly open-air markets.

(Eye na   TROU ba   BILL den.)

Frühstück als kunstvolles Festmahl

A breakfast festival feast full of art.

How an Englishman living in Berlin described German breakfasts, according to Frankfurter Rundschau’s excerpt from the German translation of his English book about German culture.

“At weekend breakfasts, every square centimeter of the table is covered by an enormous assortment of cheeses, cold cuts, fruit, jams, honey, spreads and other things.” Fresh rolls from the corner bakery! Well-made croissants. Ripe tomatoes, herbs from the balcony, good yogurt, a warm soft-boiled egg to carefully dismantle in an egg cup, sometimes smoked salmon and inexpensive caviar. Excellent coffee.

(FROO shtook   olls   KOONST foal ess   FEST mall.)

Ameisenverkehr

Ant traffic.

Now that Swiss, Austrian and Liechtenstein banks are about to stop allowing anonymous accounts for foreign tax evaders, Bavarian police and customs officials have been catching more people trying to transport large amounts of cash. They are also suspicious of attempts to bring expensive boats into Germany across Lake Constance. Wristwatches can transport wealth out of Switzerland.

Police said they’re calling the Eurocity train between Munich and Zurich the “black money express.” Transporting large sums of cash in small quantities is “ant traffic.” They watch for wealthy-looking retirees who are behaving suspiciously.

(OM eye zen fair CARE.)

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.)

Scheindebatte

A fake debate.

The German defense ministry will be presenting their case Monday, 30 Jun 2014, in the Bundestag for why they must be allowed to buy and co-develop armed drones, unmanned airborne weapons platforms. But they’ve already decided, according to an “Einzelplan 14,” to buy Medium Altitude Long Endurance armable surveillance drones by late 2014. There are no longer M.A.L.E. drones that cannot be armed, said taz.de.

The Bundeswehr is currently staying in Afghanistan until 2016, and they said they need to tool up with drones and close some “capability gaps” because they’re staying in Afghanistan.

One of the evening news shows said the new supermajority government’s coalition agreement promised a debate about drones. They said this in a way that implied that the coalition agreement only promised a debate.

Update: After the Bundestag talk, the defense minister announced the German military won’t be buying killer drones. It will be leasing them, from Israel.

(SHINE day BAT ah.)

Schweinsgalopp

“A pig’s gallop.” Quick and dirty.

This week the supermajority coalition was in a hurry to pass Sigmar Gabriel’s reforms to Germany’s switch to renewable energy sources. The Bundestag vote was scheduled on Friday, 27 Jun, and the Bundesrat vote two weeks later.

But on Friday, 20 Jun, the E.U.’s competition commission threatened to torpedo the reform. On Monday Sigmar Gabriel’s state secretary went to Brussels with a revised draft, and returned with four demands from Joaquín Almunia. Sigmar Gabriel’s ministries decided they could implement three of them, though at “enormous extra costs for industry,” but not the fourth, which was to exempt imported electricity from the renewables contribution.

Meanwhile, it was Tuesday, 24 Jun, and the Bundestag’s Law and Consumer Protection committee had no draft to analyze for constitutionality and consumer protectiveness. The ministry wanted to try to get them copies of ~200 revised pages by Tuesday afternoon; the Law and Consumer Protection committee said that was too much to get through in time for a vote on Friday.

The Bundestag’s Economy committee also had no draft of the law when they met to analyze it on Tuesday.

Though the Bundesrat doesn’t have to pass the reform law, the federal states can delay it there as well.

If the reform law doesn’t get passed in time to go into effect by 01 Aug 2014, companies that use high volumes of electricity will not be able to apply in time for their 2015 exemptions freeing them from contributing to the switch to renewable energy sources.

Update on 25 Jun 2014: The S.P.D. and C.D.U. were able to deny the opposition’s request for a hearing to discuss the complex new changes because the opposition is so tiny that its right to such hearings is not guaranteed under German law. It looks like the Bundestag will pass this reform despite not understanding it.

Update on 27 Jun 2014: The committees waved the changes through. The Bundestag passed the reform package. A C.D.U. politician said, “After the reform is before the reform.”

Update on 09 Jul 2014: The superministries reached an agreement with Joaquín Almunia on the fourth of the competition commission’s four last-minute demands. Germany will start paying the eco premium for green electricity imported from E.U. countries, starting in 2017, but for no more than 200 megawatts.

(SHVINE’S gall OPP.)

Spesenritter

A Knight of the Expense Account.

(SHPÆ zen RITT ah.)

Prinzipienreiter

Someone who rides his principles as if they were a horse.

This is translated into English as a dogmatist, pedant or stickler.

(Prints EEP ee en RYE tah.)

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.)

Weltweit grösstes Salzkavernenlager

The world’s biggest underground salt-cavern storage site, in Münsterland, where oil recently started flowing into a farmer’s fields.

Germany stores reserves of oil and natural gas in huge hollow spaces rinsed out inside large underground salt deposits.

ZDF heute journal’s report showed a discreet fence sign indicating that the utility Eon has such projects. However, the 50-year-old Münsterland site appears to be under a “public corporation” [Körperschaft des öffentlichen Rechts] tasked with making sure Germany has oil and gas reserves for 90 days, which rented the underground salt cavern from a salt extraction company that’s a joint venture of the chemical companies Solvay, Vestolit and Bayer.

A geologist told ZDF there are a lot of cavern storage sites in the world now and accordingly there are a lot of cases where salt caverns have “collapsed, leaked, exploded, burned…”

Germany has 230 in use now and another 130 are planned. Most are filled with natural gas.

Two Bonn attorneys who specialize in mining law said environmental impact testing was not required for these storage caverns until 2010, and then only for caverns above a certain size.

(VELDT vight   GRISSED ess   zaults caw VERNE en LOG ah.)

Rumpelwunderkammerspiel

Rumpelkammer + Wunderkammer + Kammerspiel

Junk room + cabinet of wonders + a chamber play, an intimate drama set in a small space.

From the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung’s reviews of Orhan Pamuk’s Museum of Innocence novel and of the Museum of Innocence they created in Istanbul’s Çukurcuma neighborhood. It was just declared Europe’s museum of the year.

(ROOM pell VOON da CALM ah SHPEEL.)

Filigrane Fußballkunst

Delicate, sophisticated, filigree soccer art.

(Fill ee GRAH nah   FOOSS ball KOONST.)

Feder

Feathers, but it can also mean springs or shock absorbers.

taz.de reported that the big utility Eon is pushing for a fast restart to a nuclear power plant in Grohnde, Lower Saxony, despite safety concerns. The plant would have restarted on 11 May 2014 but there was generator damage. Then foreign bodies turned up in the reactor core—springs or shock absorbers [Feder] had broken off 9 of 131 throttle bodies, which regulate the flow of cooling water around the radioactive fuel rods. Other pressurized-water nuclear reactors in Germany use the same throttle bodies, said taz, but neither Lower Saxony’s environmental minister (Green party) nor the federal environmental minister (S.P.D.) wanted to say which plants these were.

Lower Saxony’s environmental minister has asked Hannoverian prosecutors to investigate tips the ministry received that cracks in the reactor’s secondary circuit had been fixed with temporary welding. Eon was said to have put pressure on the company doing the repairs to even get them to take on the job.

Half the throttle bodies in the Grohnde reactor core have now been replaced. And Eon says calling their welding inadequate is an “abstruse assertion.”

The Grohnde nuclear plant is scheduled to be restarted on Monday, 23 Jun 2014.

Update on 22 Jun 2014: Eon announced today that they restarted the Grohnde nuclear power plant yesterday, after Lower Saxony’s environmental ministry issued the permit to restart on Friday.

Built in 1984, the plant is scheduled to be the last Lower Saxony nuclear power plant taken offline in 2022.

(FEY da.)

Fortsetzungsfeststellungsklage

“Continuation determination complaint.”

A complaint before a German administrative court, financial court or social court asking the court to declare that an administrative act that was performed by an organ of the government was not lawful.

On 01 Jun 2013 police in Frankfurt used clubs and pepper spray to force their way into a permitted march of 10,000 demonstrators and kettle 1000 of them for about ten hours. The then-Hessian interior minister* defended the action by saying those particular protesters’ masks and passive weapons looked threatening.

Individual protesters’ Fortsetzungsfeststellungklagen asking to find that the police’s banning them from being where the protest was [Platzverweis] was illegal are being heard by the Frankfurt Administrative Court [Verwaltungsgericht], while individual protesters’ lawsuits asking the court to find that the police’s kettling act was illegal are being heard by the Frankfurt District Court [Amtsgericht]. Many criminal proceedings against the demonstrators are still ongoing.

* Now Boris Rhein (C.D.U.) is in charge of Hesse’s universities, as the Hessian State Minister for Science and the Arts.

(FOTT zets oongs FEST shtell oongs CLAW gah.)

Weggelobt

“Praised off.”

After Austria’s cabinet passed a special law creating an unusual haircut for some of the enormous debt incurred by the bank Hypo Alpe Adria, Austria’s finance minister appeared on an evening talk show to discuss the decision. The show’s host, said the Frankfurter Rundschau, is “loved and feared for his critical questions and his tendency to bring things precisely to the point.” The finance minister was not pleased with the broadcast.

Then an Austrian tabloid Österreich, said to have good connections to the chancellor’s office, reported that voices in government were pushing for the moderator’s removal. “It was supposed to happen in a typically Austrian style: Apparently he was to be ‘praised away’ into the post of a senior commentator or television director.”

The finance minister’s party, Ö.V.P., said the rumor was untrue. The ORF moderator responded to the wave of solidarity flowing in his direction by tweeting a Mark Twain quote.

Later, in a newspaper interview, the moderator said his questions weren’t that tough. The finance minister just reacted “unusually emotionally” to a “necessary interruption.”

“And when a guest doesn’t answer my questions, or answers with false facts, I have to interrupt. I know that bothers some spectators. But if I didn’t care whether my question got answered, I wouldn’t have asked it.”

(VECK geh LOBED.)

Verbraucherschutztag-Vortrag

Address to the German Data Protection Conference.

On 03 Jun 2013, F.A.Z. feuilleton publisher Frank Schirrmacher gave a talk titled “Information as a fetish: Consumer protection in the new information economy” at Germany’s national Data Protection Conference. Some of his thoughts:

“Data protection in the information economy will become a job that is very politically important. It will have… to develop into an instrument that secures freedom.”

“It’s become normal for us, we journalists and you [data protection officers] too, some of you, to talk about spying. About spying on people in every possible way in the internet. About tracking, about data hunters and data kraken. It’s no accident that we use all this vocabulary from intelligence services and spy agencies. In this sense, data protection must be intelligent counter-intelligence. It must disclose the operational and systemic rationality of the algorithms, so people can understand at all what texts are being written elsewhere about their lives and what conclusions can be drawn from those texts. … We must thus end a kind of illiteracy about these matters.”

He said today’s situation isn’t Orwellian because Orwell described an open suppression system. It’s more Brave New World: “In Orwell they burned books; in Brave New World books just aren’t read.”

“Data protection in our world’s future will have the actual task of becoming personality protection. The inviolability of the person, which all of us believe in as a basic principle, presents completely new challenges in a digital age. To quote again from Eric Schmidt’s book, and he is entirely right about this, when he writes, ‘Identity,’ in other words personality, ‘will be the most important raw material for burghers of the future, and identity will primarily exist online.’”

“Consumers don’t just buy a product. …They are actually becoming products. …They are read when they buy things, they are read when they move around, they are even read when they are reading, paying, even thinking as we now know. …In the age of ‘big data’ everything has the potential to be a market, including politics and social life. When even the most private acts, as is possible today, make people into market participants, such as reading an ebook, then conversely it’s clear that even the most private space can become the object of market research, and increasingly at a stage before the consumer is aware of it.”

He said we can’t go back to analog. We can’t switch the tracking off either. Even if we manage to not be recorded by our own devices, other people’s devices are recording us. Also, some companies keep lists of everyone who chooses to opt out.

The question of anonymity is in many cases already over because of the patterns that can be spotted now (last year): so many behaviors can be a fingerprint or a voice print. Consumers must learn what patterns of theirs are being read.

Proposals:

  • “The question of how to handle data I think must be anchored in our society as firmly as the status of a physician’s confidentiality and responsibility. We know that a huge number of people are being educated for big data, who will evaluate these data for companies. On the whole, we need in our society an awareness that these data are a judgment about personality. Whether a consumer will get a loan, has a future at his job, etc.”
  • “We need what the Americans call ‘external algorithmicians.’ Meaning, we can’t all understand what’s going on there. So, as was the case for nuclear power for example, scientists will have to verify, from the other side so to speak, what’s working and what isn’t working. Or Stiftung Warentest, the consumer testing magazines, who use their fantastic technical expertise in counter-intelligence, so to speak. That’s what I mean by counter-intelligence: countercheck how a system is functioning. And we need this for algorithms too. We will need people who are capable, if it’s possible at all, of decoding these algorithms and then telling people, okay. If you just spent ten days messing around on Facebook, you can assume that this and this are now known about you.”
  • “Finally, at the European level: We are all seeking a vision for Europe. We can see that in the information economy, together with globalization, two supersystems are arising. Of course the U.S.A. on the one hand, and the second one is Asia, especially China. Europe is looking so hard for its own task, vision and identity. We have a different history, after all. Admirers of Silicon Valley should always be told that it was subsidized by the state for decades. Into the 1980′s. Silicon Valley did not arise from entrepreneurship alone. In that sense, one should ask whether we want to continue to make ourselves dependent on systems that exclusively come from the U.S.A., or whether we in Europe might not also want to use government subventions… whether we might not want, as some other countries are doing, to build up our own search engine, our own social networks, which would have the advantage that they could be new designs.”

 

(Fair BROW chh ah shoo uts tah chh   FORE trah chh.)

Preußisches Heeresarchiv in Potsdam, Zentralnachweiseamt für Kriegerverluste und Kriegsgräber in Berlin

The “Prussian Military Archive” in Potsdam and the “Central Registry Office for Warrior Losses and War Graves” in Berlin.

These archives were destroyed by bombing in 1945, making it harder to research German participation in World War I. This according to historian Jesper Zedlitz.

Mr. Zedlitz analyzed 31,000 pages of official “losses lists” from W.W.I by crowdsourcing them to hundreds of volunteers who were interested in learning about their ancestors. The 700 volunteers indexed about 90% of the pages.

The German Reich published these lists from 1914 to 1919. They contained the names of people killed, wounded, missing and captured. The names weren’t in alphabetical order, but sorted by military unit: regiments, batallions, companies, etc. Also, the Prussian, Bavarian, Württembergisch and Saxon armies, the Kaiser’s Navy and the Kaiser’s Protective Troops all kept their own counts and published separate lists. The lists were in tiny print, in the difficult obsolete “Fraktur” fonts, in three columns with about 300 entries per page.

Mr. Zedlitz said during the war many errors were made in the many steps between dictating the names in the field and publishing the losses lists in Berlin. Handwriting was involved. Typesetting keyboards were also different from today’s qwerty keyboards, and so typical typesetting errors involved switching different letters.

Observations from the accessed data:

In 1917 they stopped publishing the identifying date of birth, presumably because this would tell the enemy that the German army was sending soldiers into the field who were too old and too young. The Navy’s losses lists included very sad descriptions of unidentified dead sailors who washed up on beaches, with details to help in possible identification.

Unknown No. 191. On 26 Aug 1917, a body washed ashore on the seacoast near Bangsaa (Thisted district, Denmark), floating in a white-striped unmarked lifesaver. The dead man wore a shirt, embroidered wool suspenders, underpants, gray wool socks, jackboots, blue jacket, and blue trousers with a buttoning trapdoor, whose buttons were stamped ‘Kaiser’s Navy.’ On the outside of the right forearm was an anchor and a figure supposed to represent the bust of a woman. On the inside of the same arm, was a complete portrait of a woman, extending from the elbow to the wrist. The middle finger of the left hand was tattooed with a signet ring. On the middle finger of the right hand was a wedding ring engraved with ‘T. Henne 07.’”

(PROYSS ish ess   HAIR ess archh eef   in   POTS dom,   tsen TRALL NOCHH vice omt   fir   CREE gah feah LOOSE tah   oont   CREEGS gray bah   in   beah LYNN.)

Überwachungstour

Surveillance tour of Berlin.

A Danish artist and media conference organizer has created a Snowden-inspired bus tour in Berlin, taking visitors to historic sites of surveillance.

High points of the “Magical Secrecy Tour” include:
A guided tour of the Stasi museum and archive, a look at the outside of the giant new headquarters of Germany’s foreign intelligence agency (BND), Berlin’s Google office, the bridge where they used to exchange spies, the giant white golf ball listening stations atop the Teufelsberg (great views!) and some surprises.

(Ü bah VOCHH oongz TOO ah.)

Multilateration

Planespotting technique that tracks aircraft by measuring the latency in pings from their transponders.

British planespotters told the Register.co.uk they used this method to follow a C.I.A. “rendition aircraft” as it crossed Britain during last year’s hunt for Edward Snowden. The Gulfstream jet hadn’t filed a flight plan and was flying at 45,000 feet, above the mandatory air traffic reporting zone.

Interestingly, the Register reported that this plane used to be a U.S. Air Force general’s “gin palace.”

Kaufen Sie jede Woche vier gute bequeme Pelze xy 12345467890

“Buy four good comfortable furs every week.”

A German version of the test sentence “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”

Still readable on telex printouts in 17 kilometers of underground Cold War bunkers built in the Eiffel region. The largest complex was built in the Ahr valley near Bonn as an underground city for the federal government to move to in case of nuclear war, in two former railroad tunnels, with room for several thousand people.

Some of the bunkers have been opened to visitors. There will be several guided tours this summer and in the summer of 2015, visiting the federal government’s complex, an underground communications center and a shelter built for North Rhine-Westphalia’s central bank.

(Cow fen   zee   YAY da   VOCHH ah   fear   GOOT ah   beck VEM ah   PELTS ah.)

Der Igel hat gelandet.

“The hedgehog has landed,” from a tweet by Claus Kleber.

(Dare   EAGLE   hot   geh LOND et.)

Rote Hosen

Red Pants, the name of the soccer team from the S.P.D. fraction of Saarland’s state parliament.

(ROTE ah   HOSE en.)

Künstlersozialkasse

“Artists’ Social Fund,” an institution that manages health insurance, pension and nursing insurance contributions for artists, musicians and writers, including journalists.

To be accepted into the K.S.K., applicants must show documentary evidence that they earn a significant portion of income from music, art or writing.

(KIN stlah zoh tsee ALL coss ah.)

Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels e.V.

German Publishers and Booksellers Association.

They are calling for new cartel laws that reflect life in the digital books market.

Nationale Cyber-Abwehrzentrum

National Cyber Defense Center, created in 2011. It is managed by representatives from core agencies and associate agencies. The three core members are the Federal Office for Security in Information Technology (B.S.I.), the federal office of the domestic intelligence agency (Verfassungsschutz) and the Federal Office for Population Protection and Catastrophe Aid (B.B.K.). The satellite agencies include: the foreign intelligence agency (B.N.D.), military intelligence (M.A.D.), customs police (Zollpolizei) and the police (Bundeskriminalamt). Customs police only showed up once, the auditors said.

Süddeutsche Zeitung said they, NDR and WDR have seen a classified audit of it from the German Federal Court of Auditors (Bundesrechnungshof) that is highly critical: not only is the new center unsuited to bundling the necessaries for cyber defense, it’s not even doing a good job as an information disseminator. The auditors said they thought creating an institution like this was not justified if its only defined work process was a daily briefing and if “recommended actions on a political strategy level” were only issued once a year in an annual report.

The auditors said they were not blaming the dozen or so I.T. experts working for the Cyber Defense Center. They were blaming the politicians.

In February 2014, the Süddeutsche said, the politicians responded to the federal auditors’ (repeated, apparently this is not the first) written criticisms. The way the center is set up, with core members and associate members, should be examined.

The interior ministry said they thought the auditors were wrong about the perceived need for defined work processes, because what to do was decided at the daily briefings. Also, they said, the Cyber Defense Center’s spokesman informed the Cyber Security Council (??) about the danger level. The Federal Office for Security in Information Technology has an I.T. situation room and the federal government’s computer emergency team; both would be able to inform the Cyber Defense Center in the case of an emergency. The auditors said a Cyber Defense Center should have its own competencies.

(Knots ee own AWL ah   SIGH bah OB vair TSEN troom.)

Bericht zur Überwachung

Surveillance report.

This was one German newspaper‘s translation of Vodafone’s Law Enforcement Disclosure Report, which the telecom said will be published annually.

Vodafone’s pioneering Law Enforcement Disclosure Report said that in some of the 29 countries where it does business the governments have connected directly to the telecom’s networks and can listen to its customers’ phone conversations live without involving or informing the company.

Also, in the countries of Albania, Egypt, Hungary, India, Malta, Qatar, Rumania and South Africa, it is illegal for telecommunications providers to publish how many requests for wiretapping they have received from the government.

(Bear ICHH t   tsoo ah   üb ah VOCHH oong.)

Grundrechte-Report

Fundamental rights report, an annual critique of the treatment of burgher rights and human rights guaranteed by Germany’s constitution. The report is published by eight human rights organizations, including Pro Asyl [For Asylum], Humanistische Union [Humanist Union], Neue Richtervereinigung [New Association of Judges] and the Republikanische Anwältinnen und Anwälteverein [Republican Attorneys Association]. The 2014 edition consists of 42 essays and is sold in bookstores.

Süddeutsche Zeitung reminds us that these basic German human rights include “personality rights, the right to free expression of opinion, letter secrecy, postal secrecy and the right to asylum.”

(GROONED rechh tah   ray PORT.)

Das bäuerliche Flughöhenbarometer

The farmer’s flight height barometer, from the trove of German “farmer wisdom.”

Some beautifully acrobatic birds that summer in Germany feed on flying insects that stay near the ground in low pressure systems but may venture much higher in warm rising air. Watching the birds swoop and spin to catch them can thus tell you about the weather.

(Doss   BOY ah lichh ah   FLOOG hə en bah roh MAY tah.)

Begabtenförderungswerke

Foundations for providing scholarship money to “gifted” students.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine said in addition to the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes [Studies Foundation of the German People], there are 12 smaller foundations in Germany that also provide scholarships to “gifted” students. The twelve are anchored in core society groups such as the political parties, religions, labor unions and employers. The smaller foundations receive some or all of this scholarship money from the federal Education Ministry and pass it on to the students they select, after taking 14% for administrative costs.

1% of German university students receive money from these groups, nearly 26,000 students in 2013.

In the past, the gifted scholarships consisted of a need-based monthly allowance, calculated using Bafög data, plus a monthly supplement called “books money” [Büchergeld] that has now been renamed [Studienkostenpauschale, "study expenses grant"] after it was announced in February that it would be increased to 300 euros/month effective September 2014.

A similar merit-based scholarship of 300 euros/month—150 from the Education Ministry, 150 from a sponsor— that was seen as competition to the books money is called the Deutschlandstipendium, Germany Scholarship, available to any German university and to qualifying students from any nationality.

(Beh GOB ten fir-r-r dare oongs verk ah.)

Bafög

Bafög is need-based assistance given to German high school and university students until they complete their first degree. The need-based calculation contains a bewildering variety of factors that include the parents’ income and the student’s expenses. High school students don’t have to pay it back, and university students have to pay half back, without interest. The word comes from the abbreviation for the law that established the scholarship, the Bundesausbildungsförderungsgesetz [German education/training assistance act].

Update on 27 May 2014: After weeks of discussion about spending more on education, the federal government has announced it will start paying 100% of Bafög, rather than the current 65% federal money, 35% state money. The states will have to invest the 35%, ~1.17 billion euros each year, in schools and universities, though Wolfgang Schäuble said there are no control mechanisms in place to enforce this. Bafög is to be reformed again in 2016/17.

Update on 21 Jul 2014: The federal government announced they will be increasing Bafög by 7%, the Elternfreibetrag [?] by 7% —which will increase the number of students qualifying to receive Bafög by >110,000 university and school students—and the rent stipend to 250 euros/month. The increases will go into effect in the winter semester 2016/2017. The last time Bafög was increased was in 2010.

(BAFFIG.)

Viel wenig bringt viel

A lot of not very much can accomplish a lot.

What a tour guide said while collecting small donations at the Berlin Palace’s Day of the Open Construction Site, when people were invited in to see how work is going on recreating the façade of a giant Baroque palace. Stonecarvers showed how they are chiselling fresh 18th-century sculptures and garlands for around the windows and to ornament the roof. Inside will be a cultural conference center, with modern architecture.

(Feel   VANE ichh    brinked   FEEL.)

Institut für Archäologische Prospektion und Virtuelle Archäologie

The Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archeological Prospecting and Virtual Archeology, in Vienna. Their methodology page said they want to avoid “destruction by excavation.”

A National Geographic writer’s article in der Spiegel described how this Institute cooperated in a project to learn about, without fully uncovering, Bronze Age houses on the Greek island of Santorini that were buried by a massive eruption around 1600 B.C.E. The project partners laser-scanned the village from 850 positions. The University of Vienna did ground-penetrating radar measurements of unexcavated areas. A firm in Vienna helped process the data into artist’s renderings and presumably maps. German National Geographic called the renderings “photogrammetrically created 3D models.”

They found third floors.

(Inn stee TOOT   fir   aw chh ae oh LO! gisch ah   pro specked SEE OWN   oont   vee ah two ELLE ah   aw chh ae oh logue EE.)

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