U.S. Ambassador to Germany John Emerson (C) is surrounded by body guards as he arrives at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, July 2, 2015. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
The chief of staff for German Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet with the ambassador for the United States today to talk about allegations that U.S. spies bugged senior government ministers.
"The Chancellor's Chief of Staff has invited U.S. Ambassador John Emerson to a meeting because of the new bugging revelations. The conversation is due to take place on Thursday afternoon," a source told Reuters.
My great-grandmother, Hedwig Nietzsche Koerth, never spoke English. My Grandpa Gustav didn't learn the language until he entered first grade. But, by the time I was in grade school — and was going through a brief fling of learning German — Grandpa no longer remembered much of what had once been his first language. Today, nobody in my immediate family speaks any German, much less the dying dialect of Texas German that my great-grandmother spoke. The BBC has an interesting story about the history and linguistics of Texas German, which will probably die out in the next couple generations — largely because the German Germans started a couple world wars in a row and changed the idea of what was and wasn't socially acceptable speech in America.
This kleige maidel* appeared on a German TV show where she demonstrated her remarkable talent for identifying Star Wars minifigs by putting them in her mouth. The blindfold is what makes this. And the minifigs. Oh, and the waistcoat.
Check out this German TV clip highlighting the failure of the new, privacy-violating full-nude scanners going in at an airport near you. As Bruce Schneier notes, "The scanner caught a subject's cell phone and Swiss Army knife -- and the microphone he was wearing -- but missed all the components to make a bomb that he hid on his body... Full-body scanners: they're not just a dumb idea, they don't actually work."
The German government has allocated a secret budget to fund call-centers to help Windows users
whose PCs are infected with malware. Microsoft's support costs are thus being borne at taxpayer
I can understand why a government would want to create anti-malware programs. After all,
malware's costs could easily exceed the cost of this program (think of the social cost of identity
But the state could intervene in other ways. For example, it could establish penalties for software
vendors whose users have their identities stolen, where those vendors don't offer this kind of service, forcing companies to internalize the cost of the security vulnerabilities they're responsible for.
Yes, it's not clean-cut (who's responsible for the recent SSL bug -- the OS vendors? The free software project?) and how it would apply to a free software project like GNU/Linux is unclear. But surely there's a more equitable solution than simply offloading the expense of cleaning up software vendors' messes on the taxpayer.
This approach raises a number of concerns. First, it leaves the software manufacturers out of the equation. Therefore, there will be little incentive to write secure code, as the cost of additional support will be passed (at least partly) to the government. Second, it also discourages the users from switching to more secure products. Both aspects can be interpreted as a direct subsidy for Microsoft. The timing of the initiative could also not be better: last week Microsoft's Internet Explorer, the attack vector number one, lost its leadership in Germany to rival Firefox. Additionally, the plan establishes questionable practices for IT security. Malware infections are seen as something inevitable, which is definitely not the case.
Illustrator Michæl Paukner, whose poster art I've blogged a few times now, has started a terrific series of images paying tribute to the über-kitschy German science fiction television show Space Patrol (Raumpatrouille). Shown here, the Orion 7 craft. If you're unfamiliar with the show, this fan-site is a great place to start. Video clips and links to past appreciations of the TV series on Boing Boing after the jump.