Atheist shoes experience a miraculous transformation

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Atheist Shoes (previously), the stylish German shoes whose souls soles bear atheist messages ("Ich Bin Atheist") are getting ready to relaunch with a tweaked new design called DAS SNEAKER, which sports more cushioning and thinner soles for greater flexibility, as well as a retro turn-up toe. Read the rest

Snowden's lawyer says he'll testify about German surveillance...if Germany gets him safe passage out of Russia

An official German government committee of inquiry investigating the illegal surveillance that Edward Snowden revealed has asked Snowden to testify before it, the German Federal Court of Justice has ordered the German government to offer Snowden safe passage to Germany to do so, or admit to illegal spying. Read the rest

Germany investigates Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook over failure to remove hate posts

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and CEO. REUTERS/Jose Miguel Gomez

Prosecutors in Germany have launched a formal investigation of Mark Zuckerberg and other executives at Facebook, the Munich prosecutor's office said Friday, over a complaint that Facebook broke German laws against hate speech and sedition by failing to remove racist hate-posts on the social media service.

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Delft plates with images of nuclear power stations

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The Atomteller plates update the Dutch tradition of plates that feature windmills with more up-to-date power-generation -- nukes: "Monuments of error - hope of yesterday - folklore of tomorrow." €39 each, 20cm in diameter. (via Crazy Abalone) Read the rest

German prosecutors drop investigation against comedian who insulted Turkish president

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German prosecutors have dropped an investigation into comedian Jan Boehmermann over a ribald poem he wrote about Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, reports the BBC.

Boehmermann's televised performance quipped that Erdogan fucked goats, among other insults, leading to an official complaint and an investigation.

Boehmermann is a satirist and television presenter well-known for pushing the boundaries of German humour.

The poem was broadcast on ZDF television. The comedian was later given police protection.

Mr Erdogan has drawn much criticism in Turkey and internationally for attacking political opponents, including harassment of journalists. Many accuse him of authoritarian methods, stifling legitimate dissent and promoting an Islamist agenda.

The Turkish government cited an ancient lese-majeste law making it illegal to insult foreign heads of state. Though saying the law should be scrapped, German Chancellor Angela Merkel approved the inquiry and was critical of Boehmermann.

In the resulting uproar over free speech, however, both Merkel and prosecutors came under withering criticism—and stories about Boehmermann and his work only proliferated.

Other people who have quipped about Ergodan's alleged affection for quadrupeds include UK foreign minister Boris Johnson.

Previously: German chancellor allows prosecution of satirist who insulted Turkish president Read the rest

Netzpolitik publishes more damning, leaked German surveillance reports, despite previous treason prosecution

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Netzpolitik is an amazing German activist/journalist organization; in 2015, they braved a treason investigation by publishing Snowden docs that showed that the German intelligence services were conducting illegal surveillance and illegally collaborating with the NSA; now they've done it again, publishing a new leaked oversight report on spying at the Bad Aibling surveillance station. Read the rest

Designer makes clothes out of German transit upholstery fabric, rides trains

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Public transit upholstery is a marvel of stain-resistance, long-wearing durability and bizarre abstract patterns meant to deny the shifting conventions of fashion: all these make it (semi-)perfect for "Bustour," German artist Menja Stevenson's 2008 transit couture project, which has her creating lovely -- if stiff and uncomfortable -- outfits out of transit fabric and then riding trains, documenting the reactions of people who encounter her chameleonsuit look. Read the rest

Compounds in human exhalations during movies vary in response to suspense and comedy

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Researchers from German's Max Planck Institute and Johannes Gutenberg University have published a paper in Nature documenting the phenomenon whereby the volatile organic compounds exhaled by cinema audiences change in synchrony while the movie plays, with specific cocktails of chemicals exhaled in response to comedy and suspense. Read the rest

Mass shooting at Munich shopping mall leaves multiple victims dead

Police secure a street near mass shooting in Munich, July 22, 2016.  REUTERS

Reports of yet another mass shooting, this one at a shopping center in Germany. In Munich late Friday afternoon, a man with a gun shot people at mall in Munich. Local news reports that several people were killed, and several more wounded.

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German free school teaches without grades, timetables or lesson plans

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The Evangelical School Berlin Centre is a private "free" school -- that is, it costs money to go there, but the tuition is on a means-tested sliding scale, and the students enjoy enormous educational freedom -- that has drawn attention thanks to the exceptional performance of its graduating students. Read the rest

Stasi radio monitoring department, hard at work, 1980s

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Here's a small gallery of the East German secret police's 26th Division, hard at work during the 1980s. Read the rest

Mermaid tights with silicone shin-scales

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Daniel "Tinkercast" Struzyna, a designer in Dusseldorf, sells these tights with handmade silicone scales: $72.09 a pair, comes in aqua or coral. (via Seanan McGuire) Read the rest

Masked man opens fire in German movie theater, is shot dead by police

The cinema complex where the shooting took place [echo-online.de]
A mass shooting took place in Viernheim, Germany, near Frankfurt today. A gunman wearing a mask opened fire in a movie theater complex in the small western German town, German media reported.

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How "German mistrust" of the public turned Mein Kampf into a bestseller again

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Mein Kampf was about to enter the public domain in Germany, removing the country's preferred copyright-based method for keeping it away from readers' hearts and minds. There's no chance of them just letting it be available (as is done in the UK, US and Israel), but they didn't want to ban it outright, martyring Hitler afresh. Instead they favored what the BBC describes as "a heavily paternalistic approach": publishing a nigh-unreadable "critical edition" in the hopes that it would be too cumbersome to be popular. This not only failed, but ensured a constant stream of discussion and drama to keep it on the bestseller list.

[The publishers'] director, Andreas Wirsching, declared that it would be irresponsible to hand over Mein Kampf "free of copyright and commentary", because in that case everybody could do whatever they wanted with Hitler's book. ...

If anything public interest in the book was fanned unnecessarily by keeping the aura of the forbidden alive. By mid-April, Mein Kampf had managed to move to the pole position of Germany's influential Spiegel bestseller list, where it remained for several weeks. Even now it stands in 14th place, though many bookshops do not have the book on display and others only order the book on request.

This renewed calls to stop being so controlling and just let Hitler's long, boring rant die in the public domain. Read the rest

German court hands Kraftwerk its ass, rules sampling is legal

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Today, Kraftwerk lost its vindictive, 19-year-long copyright suit against Sabrina Setlur, whose 1997 song "Nur mir" looped a drum sequence from Kraftwerk's 1977 "Metall auf Metall." Read the rest

German court bans Erdogan insult poem

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When German chancellor Angela Merkel allowed the prosecution of a comedian who had insulted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, some thought it was strategic: that by doing so, it exposed the country's ancient ban on insulting heads of state to broad legal scrutiny.

A court in Hamburg, however, has now banned most of the insulting poem from being read in public there, further rattling those worried about free speech in Germany.

In Tuesday's ruling the court found that "Erdogan does not have to put up with the expression of certain passages in view of their outrageous content attacking (his) honour."

The court found that such material overstepped the boundaries of decency in attacking the Turkish leader.

[Comedian Jan] Boehmermann has indicated his poem was a response to Ankara's decision to summon Germany's ambassador to protest a satirical song broadcast on German TV which lampooned Erdogan in far tamer language.

This line, from the court, really sums up the problem: "Through the poem’s reference to racist prejudice and religious slander as well as sexual habits, the verses in question go beyond what the petitioner [Erdogan] can be expected to tolerate.”

"Germany's Ai Weiei," Boehmermann's clever self-appellation, has a good ring to it, but is surely inaccurate. How often does China interpret its laws for the tolerance of a foreign head of state? Read the rest

German publishers owe writers €100M in misappropriated royalties

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In Germany, media that can make or store copies (drives, copiers, blank optical discs) is subject to a "private copying levy" that is meant to compensate rightsholders for the works that will be copied to it (in return, the levy confers a limited right to make those copies to the purchaser). Read the rest

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