Tagged: Germany

Germany 1 – 0 Argentina

-efbb21f25ce4603c
Mario Goetze scores the winning goal, 111th minute, 2nd of double overtime

I’m exhausted. The end of one of the best World Cups I’ve watched since [I'd say] 1982. Plenty of real sports columnists, proper football fans will write pages of stuff I’ll appreciate as much as you may.

Let me congratulate the German team, their coach, the national coaching scheme that brought them to this victory.

Political animal I am, let me note in passing a completely unremarkable moment in the stands photographed at the beginning of the match. Vladimir Putin sits next to Sep Blatter, Dilma Rousseff next to Angela Merkel. With the exception of Blatter all leaders in their own nations, all preparing for the BRICS Summit which starts tomorrow morning in Brazil.

The agenda ranges from trade to the establishment of a $100 billion commercial bank for the BRICS nations. Xi Jinping will probably kick in the lion’s share from China.

The folks in the photo below realize they all have something to gain in sorting economic and political futures together. Most educated adults in the world outside the United States are aware of the same. Our government, our nation continues down the primrose path of a dying imperial nation, a standard we took up from the Brits after World War 2. Our nation, our people, the TweedleDee and TweedleDumb parties that represent our wishes, our “style”, haven’t any more clue about what’s going on in this crowd than Fox & Friends or some Tea Party candidate in Texas. Football, economics or foreign policy.

The folks in the photo – know that.

About these ads

Apologists say NSA spying won’t harm US business — Germany cancels Verizon!

Germany favors Deutsche Telekom AG to replace Verizon Communications as a network provider after deciding to end the American company’s contract in the wake of reports about spy surveillance by the U.S…

Germany is using an option in the current Verizon contract to end the arrangement next year, Tobias Plate said, declining to confirm whether the government had any evidence that the provider handed information from the network to the U.S. National Security Agency.

The move is the clearest sign yet that concerns in Europe about spying by the U.S. may harm the business of American companies in the region. The decision doesn’t bode well for communications providers such as Verizon and Dallas-based AT&T which have sunk billions of dollars into winning large clients outside the U.S., said Roger Entner…at Recon Analytics…

“Verizon is the victim here — they tend to be faster, more flexible and cheaper than local providers,” Entner said. “But now security is the trump card in the deck and that’s why Deutsche Telekom wins…”

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government plans to combine three separate networks under one service provider, Plate said. A proposal to award the contracts to Deutsche Telekom has already been discussed in the parliament’s budget committee, though no contract has been signed yet, he said…

German prosecutors and lawmakers have begun investigating allegations that U.S. intelligence agents tapped Merkel’s phone, underscoring the effect on U.S.-German relations of documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Merkel and President Barack Obama failed to end the dispute during talks at the White House in May, with Merkel saying “differences of opinion” persist and require further discussion.

It has pained me to see the degree to which the Snowden disclosures have created strains in the relationship” with Germany, Obama said…

It pains me to see how frequently our elected officials lie to the whole world, lie to our allies, lie to us. Yes, I know that’s nothing new; but, part of how Barack Obama was elected derived from his promises of change. Foreign policy and deceit worthy of a John Foster Dulles is not change. Protecting scum ranging from Countrywide Mortgage lenders to CIA torture specialists worthy of a Joe McCarthy is not change.

RTFA for a more expansive treatment. The fact remains that our liberal president is whining about the truth coming out, our corrupt practices exposed. That’s not progressive leadership. That’s business as usual in the White House.

Student gets stuck in giant vagina

What was meant to be a funny dare turned into an utter embarrassment for an American exchange student, who found himself trapped in a giant stone vagina in Germany.

Firefighters had to be called in to deliver the man, head-first, to safety after his feet became trapped in the large marble sculpture at Tubingen University in Germany.

The unnamed man is believed to have been dared to climb inside the sculpture, which sits outside the university’s institute for microbiology and virology.

But his legs soon became wedged in the carving and, despite labouring to free himself, the experts had to be summoned…

A total of 22 firefighters, five fire engines and a number of paramedics were sent to the scene, and quickly freed the man “by hand without use of equipment”, the newspaper reported… “The fire department was not really amused, and he was really embarrassed.”

The sculpture, by Peruvian artist Fernando de la Jara, has sat outside the university for 13 years and was not damaged.

The few students of Freudian psychology remaining in the world get to use their smug looks.

Thanks, Honeyman

LEDs to revolutionize hi-tech greenhouse farming

It won’t come as a surprise to discover that consumers all over the developed world are increasingly demanding seasonal vegetables all year round, even when the local climate simply doesn’t allow that kind of growth. Particularly sought-after are tomatoes, cucumbers, and leaf vegetables. Which is why greenhouse farming has become a major factor in the food supply of the developed world.

Consequently, the number of commercial greenhouses and the area they occupy is rocketing. In the Netherlands, for example, greenhouses occupy around 0.25 percent of the land area of the entire country. And the Netherlands isn’t even the largest producer of greenhouse vegetables in Europe. That position is held by Spain. And the largest producer of greenhouse vegetables in the world is now China…

So an important question is how to minimize the energy it takes to grow these crops. One obvious answer is to convert greenhouses from the traditional incandescent lighting, usually high pressure sodium lamps, to more energy-efficient LEDs.

That might seem like an economic no-brainer but the industry has been slow to make this change because of the high initial cost of LEDs. The question that farmers have pondered over is whether they will ever recoup the upfront cost of a brand-new system of lighting.

Today, they get an answer thanks to the work of Devesh Singh and pals at the Hannover Centre for Optical Technologies at the University of Hannover in Germany. These guys have compared the life-cycle costs of traditional high pressure sodium lamps against those of LEDs for greenhouse lighting.

And they say the advantages are clear. They calculate that the cumulative cost of high pressure sodium lamps surpasses that of LEDs after just seven years and that after 16 years the cumulative cost of high pressure sodium lamps is more than double the equivalent cost of LEDs.

It’s not hard to see where this saving comes from. Although high pressure sodium lamps are individually cheaper than LEDs, they have to be changed every year compared to every 19 years for LEDs. And, of course, LEDs use considerably less electricity, wasting little as heat.

But the most interesting part of Singh and co’s analysis is in the potential of LEDs to change the way that vegetables are grown. High pressure sodium lamps emit light across the entire visible part of the spectrum and well into the infrared where much energy is lost as heat. By contrast, LEDs can be adjusted to emit light in very specific parts of the spectrum.

Plant physiologists have long known that chlorophyll absorbs mainly in the blue, green and red parts of the spectrum but absorbs a little in the orange and yellow. So it makes sense to produce light only in these parts of the spectrum. That’s easy with LEDs, of course, but impossible with sodium lamps.

The strategy seems clear: convert to LED lighting as quickly as possible. Conversion will pay for itself in a few years and the advantages influencing yields and the quality of output start with flipping a light switch – and taking the resulting veggies to market.

RTFA for a few more ways in which crop quality is improved – while saving on the cost of production.

German spies demand $400 million to catch-up to the NSA

Confidential documents from the BND, Germany’s answer to the NSA and GCHQ, suggest the agency could soon get major funding to improve its online surveillance and hacking capabilities.

Ah, Germany: the home of data protection law; a bastion for the privacy-minded in these crazy days of international surveillance and hackery. Or is it? The German government and intelligence services have already been sued over alleged privacy violations in cooperation with the NSA, and now leaked documents have described plans for monitoring social networks in real-time.

Süddeutsche Zeitung, NDR and WDR have turned up secret documents belonging to the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany’s counterpart to the NSA. It seems the BND is jealous of the digital espionage capabilities of the NSA and the U.K.’s GCHQ, and wants to up its game.

The documents warn that, if the BND doesn’t get the €300 million [$409 million] it needs to run expanded surveillance activities until 2020, Germany will fall behind even Italy and Spain in the spook stakes. They also suggest the spies hope to get their funding in the coming weeks.

According to the reports, the BND wants to analyze streaming data in real-time from forums and services such as Facebook, Twitter and Flickr, collect and store more mobile metadata, and use software vulnerabilities for targeted hacking. The reports state targets would be outside Germany — indeed, targeted data must have a foreign element if the spies are to remain compliant with German law…

They play the same games with semantics and ethics in Germany as American spies and politicians.

Earlier this week…it emerged that there would be no full investigation into mass surveillance nor the bugging of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone, due to lack of evidence. Prosecutors were unable to get any answers out of American or German spies, who pointed out that the most damning revelations about German surveillance came from one newspaper, Der Spiegel — and the newspaper refused to identify its sources (sometimes assumed to be Edward Snowden’s cache, but never confirmed or denied as such.)

Having lived through the missile gap, the space gap, sitting back and watching the self-serving creeps of counter-intelligence and their latest rationale – the Worldwide War on Terror – watching them demand more money to fund the subversion of basic human rights in order to keep up with the Big Brother Joneses of the NSA — it would be laughable if they weren’t all such hypocrites and liars.

U.S. won’t agree to a deal with Germany to end spying



The effort to remake the intelligence relationship between the United States and Germany after it was disclosed last year that the National Security Agency was tapping Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone has collapsed, according to German officials, who say there will be no broad intelligence sharing or “no-spy” agreement between the two countries when Ms. Merkel visits the White House on Friday.

The failure to reach a broader accord has led to some bitter recriminations on both sides, with sharply diverging accounts from officials in Berlin and Washington about who was responsible for what was supposed to be a political solution to an embarrassing disclosure. But it also raises broader questions at a moment that President Obama and Ms. Merkel will attempt to show that they are in general accord on a strategy for both punishing Russia for its actions in Ukraine and containing President Vladimir V. Putin in the years ahead…

While the disclosure that the N.S.A. had listened to Ms. Merkel’s conversations for more than a decade was a passing story in the United States — one of many from the files that Edward J. Snowden took with him when he left Hawaii with the agency’s crown jewels — it has remained an issue in Germany. After the disclosure, Mr. Obama said the United States would not monitor Ms. Merkel’s communications, but he made no such commitment for any other German officials. And he said nothing about the future of the N.S.A.’s operations in Germany, including whether a listening station based in the American Embassy in Berlin, would stay intact.

For a number of months, German officials said the chancellor could not visit Washington until there was a resolution, including what they called a “restoration of trust” between the allies.

But the talks hit the rocks as soon as they began. Germany demanded a no-spy agreement that would ban the United States from conducting espionage activities on its soil. That led to a series of tough exchanges between the president’s national security adviser, Susan E. Rice, and her German counterpart, Christoph Heusgen.

Ms. Rice, according to American officials, said that the United States did not have no-spy agreements with any of its close allies, even with the other members of the so-called Five Eyes — the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand — which share virtually all of their intelligence. She said any such agreement with Germany would set a precedent that every other major European ally, along with the Japanese, the South Koreans and others, would soon demand to replicate.

American officials said that in January, the Germans terminated…talks, saying that if an accord could not include a no-spy agreement — a political necessity for Ms. Merkel — it was not worth signing.

Democracy, transparency, constitutional freedoms. Big words used so often by our politicians – who haven’t the slightest inclination to honor them other than by deceit and arrogance – rejecting their meaning.

German cabinet agrees on $11.75/hr minimum wage


Demonstration by Confederation of German Trade Unions for minimum wage

Germany’s cabinet agreed on Wednesday to a national minimum wage of 8.50 euros ($11.75) per hour – a flagship project for the Social Democrats who share power with Angela Merkel’s conservatives.

The minimum wage will take effect in Europe’s biggest economy from 2015 but will not cover minors, trainees and some interns. Some employers can continue to pay their workers less until the end of 2016 if they are covered by certain collective agreements…

The Bundestag lower house of parliament is due to debate the law in June before passing it in July. The Bundesrat upper house is expected to wave it through after the summer break.

Employer lobbies say blah, blah, blah.

Of the 28 states in the European Union, 21 have minimum wages. EU states without minimum wages tend to have smaller low-wage sectors than Germany and a bigger proportion of their workers are covered by collective wage deals between unions and employers.

Then, we have the United States where our courageous Democrats are considered too radical for Republicans and the rest of the right-wing crowd for offering a proposal that wouldn’t match inflation since the last update years ago – by the time the change took place. Assuming it ever gets past the Party of No in Congress.

Just one more moment to look back over the half-century or so since the end of WW2 and consider our victory in the War in Europe and what the losers have achieved compared to the winners.

Uh, which way does your dog face when (s)he poops?


Apparently true even for very, very big dogs

Dogs have been found to be sensitive to Earth’s magnetic field, and apparently align themselves along the magnetic north-south axis before they defecate.

Czech and German researchers studied 70 dogs during 1,893 defecations and 5,582 urinations over the course of two years, and found that when the Earth’s magnetic field was stable the dogs chose to align themselves with it. When it was unstable, such as during a solar flare, the dogs would become confused.

Their findings, published in the journal Frontiers in Zoology, show that the dogs were sensitive to the polarity of the field, though not as much to its intensity.

Dogs on leashes, however, do not consistently align themselves as such, mainly doing so when they are free to choose. Researchers are yet to figure out why dogs exhibit this preference.

Other animals have been found to exhibit similar behavior. Many of the scientists who worked on this study had previously researched similar behavior seen in common carps. They found that the common carp also used geomagnetic lines to align themselves in a north-south direction…

I was sufficiently bemused by this article to go and check on Sheila’s favorite pooping spots. Where she goes to poop when solo around Lot 4 – not when on an official walk with her people.

Sure enough, just about all of her poops are laid out along a north-south axis.

Cache of art looted by the Nazis discovered in Munich


Reproduction of Picasso’s “Guernica” – homage to civilians killed in 1930′s deliberate air strikes

A collection of 1,500 artworks confiscated by the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s has been found in the German city of Munich…

The trove is believed to include works by Matisse, Picasso and Chagall…

Some of the works were declared as degenerate by the Nazis, while others were stolen from or forcibly sold for a pittance by Jewish art collectors.

If confirmed, it would be one of the largest recoveries of looted art…Investigators put the value of the works at about one billion euros, Focus magazine said.

The magazine said the artworks were found by chance in early 2011, when the tax authorities investigated Cornelius Gurlitt, the reclusive son of an art dealer in Munich.

He was suspected of tax evasion, and investigators obtained a search warrant for his home in Munich…There, they found the cache of some 1,500 artworks which had vanished from sight during the Nazi era.

The younger Mr Gurlitt had kept the works in darkened rooms and sold the occasional painting when he needed money, Focus reports…

There are international warrants out for at least 200 of the works, Focus reports. The collection is being held in a secure warehouse in Munich for the time being.

Nazis considered most modern art as degenerate, especially if the artist was Jewish or anti-fascist. Not that the habit of destroying artwork, books or music has disappeared from the repertoire of the hate-filled and ignorant.

This creep apparently considered the cache of stolen art to be his own private trust fund.