According to a report in Der Spiegel, the NSA has cracked the protection on Android, iOS and Blackberry devices, and can access protected files, including contacts and location history. Slashdot also notes a WashPo report stating that Obama's justice department had secretly granted permission for the NSA to deliberately spy on Americans' phone calls, and to retain stored phone calls for extraordinary lengths of time.
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"Überwachungsstaat - Was ist das?" is a short animation narrated in German (with English subtitles) that does a very good job of explaining the evils of mass surveillance. Being German, the narrator is allowed to make comparisons to the Nazis without invoking Godwin's Law, which turns out to be surprisingly useful.
Überwachungsstaat - Was ist das?
(editor of the Pirate Party's No Safe Harbor book
) says, I've been translating old public domain German-language books
that I have been finding on Gutenberg.org. So far I have done two - a book of Japanese Fairy Tales and an old never-before-translated science fiction novel from 1909. The science fiction novel, The Red Comet (or Der Rote Komet), is interesting because it takes place in the year 2439, there's a comet on its way to crash upon the Earth. A comet. Not a meteor. Also, the most noteworthy invention is a special camera created by Romulus Futurus (now that's a Sci-Fi name)."
"Shitstorm" has been inducted
, the official German dictionary. It was a favorite among linguists
, who admired its applicability to the plagiarism scandal that led to the resignation of Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg. Strangely, an equivalent German word was not created by stringing together 75 other German words. (via The Mary Sue
"Lost in Translation," my latest Publishers Weekly column, looks at SiDiM, a new DRM scheme developed by the German Booksellers Association and the Fraunhofer Institute (with funding from the German government). The idea is to produce random variations in the text of ebooks so that each customer's ebook can be uniquely identified.
As I point out, this is an old and long-discarded idea, trivial to break (just compare two copies of the book); but more importantly, it rests on the silly idea that finding "my" copy of an ebook being shared illegally will somehow be bad for me:
The idea that copyright owners might convince a judge, or, worse, a jury that because they found a copy of an e-book on the Pirate Bay originally sold to me they can then hold me responsible or civilly liable is almost certainly wrong, as a matter of law. At the very least, it’s a long shot and a stupid legal bet. After all, it’s not illegal to lose your computer. It’s not illegal to have it stolen or hacked. It’s not illegal to throw away your computer or your hard drive. In many places, it’s not illegal to give away your e-books, or to loan them. In some places, it’s not illegal to sell your e-books.
So at best, this new “breakthrough” DRM scheme will be ineffective. But worse, what makes anyone think this kind of implicit fear of reprisal embedded within one’s digital library is acceptable, or, for that matter, preferable to old-school DRM?
Lost in Translation
A doe-eyed look would not have won over judges at a contest in Germany this week: it was for cows only. The bovine beauties, 250 of them, even had their own hairdressers at the annual German Holstein Show in Oldenburg
: "That way one can display the veins better," said stylist Astrid Ostkämper. There's more from Spiegel
Photo: ICE HSI. Click to enlarge.
In Washington today, US officials and U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum representatives announced the seizure of a long-lost diary maintained by a close confidant of Adolf Hitler.
The recovery of this historical document was the result of an extensive investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The author of the so-called "Rosenberg Diary" was Alfred Rosenberg, a leading member of the Third Reich and of the Nazi Party during World War II.
Rosenberg was one of the intellectual authors behind key Nazi beliefs, including persecution of Jewish people, expansionist “lebensraum” (living space) ideology, the "master race" theory, and the rejection of modern art as "degenerate." He was tried at Nuremberg, sentenced to death, and hanged on October 16, 1946, after having been convicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The diary will eventually be displayed in the Holocaust Museum. More photos, video from the press conference where the seizure was announced, video of Rosenberg speaking, and more of the story behind this important historic artifact are below.
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Apropos of yesterday's post about punks in Myanmar, Rene from Nerdcore sez, " German Journalist Alexander Dluzak did a documentary about the Burma punk scene a few months ago, here's the trailer (with English Subs), he also sent me some pretty awesome pics for my blog which you can see here. They also did a successful crowdfunding campaign and the DVD should be out sometime soon.
Rene from the German site Nerdcore sez, "A friend of mine who is staying in Istanbul right now contacted me this morning and I had the opportunity to interview a girl who is occupying Gezi Park in Turkey right now. The situation calmed down, but she told me that actually the whole city of Istanbul is up on their feet roaming the streets."
D: The protests started with only a bunch of people who sat on at Gezi Parc so they don’t turn the only green area at Taksim so it becomes a mall. I must say they have reason. I never go to that parc unless i have to walk through but from Şişhane to where I live there are already 8 shopping malls! it’s crazy. The protestors are aware of that this is not against a shopping mall. It started like that but when the police attacked a bunch of people and continued the second day, the people rised against the brutality of the government. And now it is about the force that he uses against his people, the rules he makes because he wants to and that he bans all kind of freedom for the Turkish people.
NC: What’s the Military doing right now? Can they play a bigger role, although Erdogan pretty much deprived them of power?
D: Well, the military is silent. I don’t know wether they can play a role. If that happens it already sounds very scary. But as you said, Erdoğan did deprive them of power. I have heard that the military house in Harbiye took some people in to protect them but they don’t interfere.
Interview with an Occupy Gezi-Protester in Istanbul
German railway operator Deutche Bahn is to target graffiti artists with surveillance drones
: "The idea is to use airborne infra-red cameras to collect evidence, which could then be used to prosecute vandals who deface property at night."
Here's a little visual aid for any inflation hawks out there who're looking for just the right graphic to stick in a powerpoint decrying stimulus packages or extolling gold's virtue: a group of Weimar-era kids using bundles of devalued
Deutsche marks Reichsmarks as building blocks.
German children using marks as building blocks, when Germany tried to pay its war debts by printing money, causing hyper-inflation. 1923.
(via Dark Roasted Blend)
Benjamin Mako Hill writes, "Last year, I participated in a discussion on Wikipedia that led to the deletion of an article about the "Institute for Cultural Diplomacy."
Because I edit Wikipedia using my real name, the ICD was able to track me down. Over the last month or so, they threated me with legal action and have now gotten their lawyers involved. I've documented the whole sad saga on my blog. I think the issue raises some important concerns about Wikipedia in general."
Donfried has made it very clear that his organization really wants a Wikipedia article and that they believe they are being damaged without one. But the fact that he wants one doesn’t mean that Wikipedia’s policies mean he should have one. Anonymous editors in Berlin and in unknown locations have made it clear that they really want a Wikipedia article about the ICD that does not include criticism. Not only do Wikipedia’s policies and principles not guarantee them this, Wikipedia might be hurt as a project when this happens.
The ICD claims to want to foster open dialogue and criticism. I think they sound like a pretty nice group working toward issues I care about personally. I wish them success.
But there seems to be a disconnect between their goals and the actions of both their leader and proponents. Because I used my real name and was skeptical about the organization on discussion pages on Wikipedia, I was tracked down and threatened. Donfried insinuated that I was motivated to “sabotage” his organization and threatened legal action if I do not answer his questions. The timing of his first letter — the day after the ICD page was recreated — means that I was unwilling to act on my commitment to Wikipedia and its policies.
The Institute for Cultural Diplomacy and Wikipedia
A German startup called Nanoscribe says it will ship a nanoscale 3D printer in the second quarter of 2013, and that its device will run 100 times faster than similar devices currently in the market:
The technology behind most 3-D microprinters is called two-photon polymerization. It involves focusing tiny, ultrashort pulses from a near-infrared laser on a light-sensitive material. The material polymerizes and solidifies at the focused spots. As the laser beam moves in three dimensions, it creates a 3-D object.
Today’s printers, including Nanoscribe’s present system, keep the laser beam fixed and move the light-sensitive material along three axes using mechanical stages, which slows down printing. To speed up the process, Nanoscribe’s new tool uses a tiny moving mirror to reflect the laser beam at different angles. Thiel says generating multiple light beams with a microlens array could make the process even faster.
The smallest features that can be created using the Nanoscribe printer measure about 30 nanometers, says Julia Greer, professor of materials science at the California Institute of Technology.
Micro 3-D Printer Creates Tiny Structures in Seconds [Prachi Patel/MIT Technology Review]
(via Beyond the Beyond)
German fashion brand URB sells a series of "melting" hosiery -- tights and socks -- that appear to be running down your legs.
URB — Home
This tetris of vehicles was constructed by a Polish truck driver, who conceived of it as a clever means of transporting several trucks and a car in one go. His plan was foiled by a spoilsport German cop, who made him destack it. I say that if there was a problem with this construction, it was in its lack of ambition: why not a motorcycle atop the car? Why not a bicycle atop the motorcycle? Why not a strapping lad in rollerskates on a pogo-stick bouncing on the bicycle?
So was hatte Krefelds Polizei noch nicht gesehen: Hochstapler-Laster gestoppt! - Düsseldorf
On the road, the officers stopped the breakdown field daredevil transport (on the way to Belgium). On the Iveco car carrier (1) there was a large truck (2, on the deck again, a smaller VW MAN truck (3 And on the deck one Mercedes (4)!
Police spokesman Acor Kniely: "This tower contradicted all road traffic legislation. Especially as he to make matters worse the trailer still wanted to charge another truck! "
[Ulrich Altmann/Bild.de/Google Translate]