German Double Agent Stole Names of 3,500 Spies World-Wide


Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Investigators have found a list reportedly compiled by a BND agent accused of working for the US, containing the names and aliases of 3,500 German intelligences employees, Bild newspaper reports.

The 32-year-old, identified as Markus R., an employee of Germany’s foreign intelligence agency (BND), was arrested by the country’s federal prosecutor last July on suspicion of passing on information to a CIA contact. Investigators seized the hard drive containing the list during a search on his apartment.

For months following the suspect’s arrest, security specialists had trouble cracking his laptop. The suspect reportedly communicated with his CIA handlers using a secure connection that opened up when he checked the weather in New York using a specially installed app, according to The Local.

The suspect, who had been working with the BND at Pullach, is believed to have stolen the document in 2011, according to Bild. The list contains the identities of employees working at Germen embassies across the globe, in addition to those accompanying army missions in Afghanistan, Mali, Lebanon and Sudan. BND agents stationed with troops are often tasked with identifying enemy targets and warning soldiers of possible attacks. The agency has some 6,500 employees. Continue reading “German Double Agent Stole Names of 3,500 Spies World-Wide”

Germany to CIA Chief: Get Out!

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Germany has asked the CIA station chief in the country to leave the country at once, an unusual move that is a very public expression of anger over repeated cases of U.S. spying in the country.

“The representative of the U.S. intelligence services at the Embassy of the United States of America has been requested to leave Germany,” government spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement Thursday.


English: President Barack Obama and First Lady...

Continue reading “Germany to CIA Chief: Get Out!”

Intelligence expert Schmidt-Eenboom: ‘It’s a huge scandal’

According to German media, an employee of Germany’s foreign intelligence agency has been arrested on suspicion of spying for the United States. Intelligence expert Schmidt-Eenboom tells DW why this case is outrageous.


Intelligence expert Schmidt-Eenboom: ‘It’s a huge scandal’ | Germany | DW.DE | 05.07.2014

Erich Schmidt-Eenboom (photo: imago/Müller-Stauffenberg)


Erich Schmidt-Eenboom (photo: imago/Müller-Stauffenberg)


DW: A 31-year-old employee of Germany’s foreign intelligence agency is accused of having spied on behalf of the United States. Is that everyday business for secret services, or is it a huge scandal?

Erich Schmidt-Eenboom: It’s a huge scandal. We’re already in the situation that Germany’s foreign intelligence agency (BND) doesn’t regard American agents in Germany as hostile forces – they are allowed a lot in terms of espionage in Germany – but that a BND employee would be sent to spy on a constitutional body is an outrageous transgression of intelligence cooperation and its boundaries.

Should this suspicion prove to be true, what kind of consequences would that spell for German-US relations? Continue reading “Intelligence expert Schmidt-Eenboom: ‘It’s a huge scandal’”

Nazi Veterans Created Illegal Army

By Klaus Wiegrefe

Newly discovered documents show that in the years after World War II, former members of the Nazi Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS formed a secret army to protect the country from the Soviets. The illegal project could have sparked a major scandal at the time.

For nearly six decades, the 321-page file lay unnoticed in the archives of the BND, Germany’s foreign intelligence agency — but now its contents have revealed a new chapter of German postwar history that is as spectacular as it is mysterious.

English: German soldiers (wearing distinctive ...

The previously secret documents reveal the existence of a coalition of approximately 2,000 former officers — veterans of the Nazi-era Wehrmacht and the Waffen-SS — who decided to put together an army in postwar Germany in 1949. They made their preparations without a mandate from the German government, without the knowledge of the parliament and, the documents show, by circumventing Allied occupation forces. Continue reading “Nazi Veterans Created Illegal Army”

NSA spied on 122 World Leaders

Sunday 30 March 2014

English: Former NSA station on Teufelsberg. De...
Secret documents newly disclosed by the German newspaper Der Spiegel on Saturday shed more light on how aggressively the National Security Agency and its British counterpart have targeted Germany for surveillance.

A series of classified files from the archive provided to reporters by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, also seen by The Intercept, reveal that the NSA appears to have included Merkel in a surveillance database alongside more than 100 others foreign leaders. The documents also confirm for the first time that, in March 2013, the NSA obtained a top-secret court order against Germany as part of U.S. government efforts to monitor communications related to the country. Meanwhile, the British spy agency Government Communications Headquarters targeted three German companies in a clandestine operation that involved infiltrating the companies’ computer servers and eavesdropping on the communications of their staff. Continue reading “NSA spied on 122 World Leaders”

Germans mock new Italian PM – the new Mr Bean?


Friday, 28 February 2014

German newspapers mocked the new Italian PM Matteo Renzi(39) for having women for half of his cabinet Ministers, which is somewhat bizarre since Germany for the past 8 years is ruled by a woman Angela Merkel!? As if this wasn’t strange enough, German newspapers went perhaps a bit too far comparing the Italian PM to Mr. Bean.

renzi bin

remzi-bin-01 Continue reading “Germans mock new Italian PM – the new Mr Bean?”

Eurozone banks face £42bn ‘capital black hole’

– “I expect more bad news coming out of Germany. The strongest German Panzer was unbeatable, but there is only one problem – they have one of the worst  banking systems in the world

Government adviser Davide Serra says this year’s stress tests by European   authorities are likely to find fresh problems in the eurozone banks.

Bronze sculpture of goddess Europa holding up a Euro sign symbol in front of the Europarliament buildings Brussels Belgium

The ECB has hired about 900 people to stress-test banks Photo: Alamy

9:30PM GMT 08 Feb 2014

Eurozone banks are facing a new capital black hole of as much as €50bn (£42bn), according to one of the UK’s most respected financial analysts. Continue reading “Eurozone banks face £42bn ‘capital black hole’”

How Peace Kept WWI Alive

EEV: Excellent article on the coming storm, if things stay their course.

Photo Gallery: From One Catastrophe to the Next

The Thirty Years’ War

By Jan Fleischhauer

On two separate occasions, in 1918 and 1945, the world had to decide what to do with Germany. The second time around, world leaders almost made the same mistakes that failed to keep the Germans down after World War I.

Private Adolf Hitler was in a military hospital near the Baltic Sea when World War I came to an end. His regiment had come under fire in a British poison gas attack on the night of Oct. 13, 1918. While advancing on German positions in the Belgian town of Comines, the British fired off several tons of “LOST,” which soldiers referred to as mustard gas, because of its mustard-like odor.

LOST was one of the most-feared weapons in the war. When the agent comes into contact with the skin, it causes chemical burns and blisters. If the fumes are inhaled, they destroy the bronchial tubes. Hitler apparently suffered severe conjunctivitis and inflammation of the eyelids and he worried he would lose his eyesight. In a letter to a doctor, he mentioned that he had initially been “blinded” but that the symptoms had soon subsided. Continue reading “How Peace Kept WWI Alive”

Italy is wasting away month by month

– its debt ratio ratcheting up towards 140pc of GDP – and all because the country’s ruling elite cannot shake off its slavish assumption that a return to monetary self-rule is impossible

By Economics Last updated: January 31st, 2014

Today’s headline from Italy is that unemployment has at last begun to fall, dropping from 12.8pc to 12.7pc in December.

Drill deeper and the recovery story turns to dust. The number employed in Italy has fallen by 424,000 over the last year. Piangi Italia mia.

As you can see from the chart below (only available on ISTAT’s Italian site), the slide has been relentless. There is no sign of stabilisation. A further 25,000 dropped out of the work force in December alone. Continue reading “Italy is wasting away month by month”

China Japan Diplomacy quickly crossing the Rubicon

China hits back at Abe over World War I analogy

Jan. 25, 2014 – 04:18PM JST

China hits back at Abe over World War I analogy
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi on January 22, 2014 in MontreuxAFP


China has hit back at Japan’s Prime Minister over a claim that current tensions in East Asia are akin to those between Britain and Germany on the eve of World War I.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Friday, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said he believed the analogy employed by Japanese premier Shinzo Abe was misplaced.

In the latest salvo in a simmering diplomatic spat, Wang also reiterated China’s anger over Abe’s recent visit to a shrine which honors the memory of 14 convicted war criminals along with millions of other Japanese war dead. Continue reading “China Japan Diplomacy quickly crossing the Rubicon”

Europe to Ditch Climate Protection Goals

Green Fade-Out

By Gregor Peter Schmitz in Brussels

The EU’s reputation as a model of environmental responsibility may soon be history. The European Commission wants to forgo ambitious climate protection goals and pave the way for fracking — jeopardizing Germany’s touted energy revolution in the process.

The climate between Brussels and Berlin is polluted, something European Commission officials attribute, among other things, to the “reckless” way German Chancellor Angela Merkel blocked stricter exhaust emissions during her re-election campaign to placate domestic automotive manufacturers like Daimler and BMW. This kind of blatant self-interest, officials complained at the time, is poisoning the climate. Continue reading “Europe to Ditch Climate Protection Goals”

Welfare debate stokes Germany-EU tensions

“The German social welfare system is not a self-service convenience store for all the Europeans that come to our country,”

Does the German social welfare system contravene European law? The EU seems to think so. It has made a statement regarding the rights of migrants that has caused quite a stir in Germany.

european union stars
european union stars (Photo credit: notarim)

Christian Social Union (CSU) General Secretary Andreas Scheuer has called the EU Commission’s statement making the rounds in German newspapers since Friday (10.01.2013) “Eurocratic madness.” The document has been interpreted as claiming that Germany should not be permitted to deny immigrants from the EU welfare assistance. Continue reading “Welfare debate stokes Germany-EU tensions”

Austria to conduct search for secret Nazi nuclear weapon laboratory hidden underneath concentration camp complex

  • Readings at site of Gusen camp near St  Georgen show elevated levels of uranium – indications of  subterranean implosions seven decades ago
  • 15 miles of tunnels lie under Gusen, a sub-camp of Mauthausen  where tens of thousands of people were murdered 
  • Hunt to find evidence  of atomic research after documentary by Andreas Sulzer unnerved  locals 

By Allan Hall

PUBLISHED:          08:09 EST, 27 December 2013       | UPDATED:          08:14 EST, 27 December 2013


Austrian authorities have ordered a search of secret tunnels beneath a former concentration camp complex where Nazi scientists are believed to have conducted nuclear research in a bid to build an atomic bomb.

The probe was triggered by a TV documentary which accessed wartime archives containing blueprints and eyewitness accounts of frantic attempts to beat the Americans in the race for the weapon to win the war.

And recently, readings were taken of the area at St Georgen showing elevated levels of uranium  – indications of subterranean implosions seven decades ago.

Readings taken at the site of the Gusen concentration camp near St Georgen, Austria show elevated levels of uranium  - indications of subterranean implosions seven decades ago. There are 15 miles of tunnels under Gusen, a sub-camp of Mauthausen (above) where tens of thousands of people were murdered

China to become world largest economy in 15 years: research report


(Xinhua) 09:18, December 27, 2013


LONDON, Dec. 26 — China is expected to overtake the United States in 2028 to become the world’s largest economy, according to a research report released Thursday. Continue reading “China to become world largest economy in 15 years: research report”

Add the EU to the list of myths we’re brainwashed to believe

Like corks, and turning off mobiles on planes, ‘Europe’ may one day turn out to be pointless

Cork being removed from wine bottle

Cork being removed from wine bottle Photo: ALAMY

<!– remove the whitespace added by escenic before end of tag –>

9:07PM GMT 22 Dec 2013

Amazing, I thought as I looked at the array of bottles. How did we get through that lot, eh? As far as I could tell we had drunk the last drop of the crate of wine that my friend Jeremy Hunt had sent me after I gave a speech in his constituency. And this wasn’t any old wine, folks. This was English wine – the grapes plumped by the zephyrs of Surrey, lovingly picked by migrant labour, and turned into a delicious and fruity and golden and, above all, drinkable little number that had obviously gone down well with everybody.

As I looked at the glinting empties, I realised why it was so drinkable. It wasn’t just the superior Surrey loam, or the skill of Denbies the vintners. There was a reason it was so light and quaffable – a reason why people’s hands reached for it reflexively instead of other more pompous wine; and that was that it was literally easy to drink. The bottles had a screw cap, not a cork, and so there was no faffing around with some piece of 17th-century technology. Continue reading “Add the EU to the list of myths we’re brainwashed to believe”

The gathering storm: A look back on middle-class Europe’s last carefree Christmas before the onset of World War One

From the following summer, Britain, mainland Europe and a large part of the rest of the world changed for ever

” There are “striking and unsettling parallels”, Emmerson says, with the “geopolitics of the world today”. He does not go there, but try casting today’s China as the impatient, rising Germany of 1913; or today’s America as the already declining Britain of that time; or today’s well-meaning, stumbling European Union as a fracturing Austria-Hungary whose collapse unleashed vicious, nationalist hatreds and rivalries”

John Lichfield

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Wilfred Owen spent a lonely Christmas teaching in Bordeaux. He complained that he had received no Christmas cards from his favourite, former pupils in England.

Raymond Asquith spent Christmas Day with his father, Herbert, at the family home at Easton Gray in Wiltshire, “a typical example of dignified English domestic architecture”.

Sandy Turnbull played inside left for Manchester United on both Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Turnbull was a leading player in the first great United team, which was beginning to fall apart. United suffered two defeats by Everton that Christmas, 0-1 and 0-5.

Jack Kipling went to the Christmas shows in London with his famous writer father, Rudyard, and then travelled with him to a chateau in France owned by the American railroad lawyer, Chauncey Mitchell Depew II. Continue reading “The gathering storm: A look back on middle-class Europe’s last carefree Christmas before the onset of World War One”

Devices that fire microwave blasts, scrambling cars’ onboard computers, could soon allow the authorities to rein in suspect vehicles

Police could use radio waves to bring cars to a halt

  • 12 December 2013 by Paul Marks
  • Magazine issue 2947.  Subscribe and save
  • For similar stories, visit the Cars and Motoring and Crime and Forensics Topic Guides


IMAGINE you could disable a car remotely just by pressing a button. It’s not a distant dream: devices that use radio waves to disrupt the control computers of modern cars are already in the pipeline. Police will be able to use them to halt suspect vehicles in their tracks.

At the request of police in France, Spain and Germany, a European Commission-funded consortium is developing such a device. Meanwhile, electronics firm E2V of Chelmsford, UK, is developing a similar system for both the police and the military, and successfully tested its technology last week.

Europe has given €4.3 million to the SAVELEC (Safe Control of Noncooperative Vehicles Through Electromagnetic Means) project. As part of this, engineers at the German Aerospace Center DLR in Stuttgart have pored over automotive Engine Control Units (ECUs) to identify vulnerabilities in microchips that can be exploited using radio signals. The electronics and portable antennas that will transmit those signals are being designed at IMST, a German radio antenna research lab in Kamp-Lintfort. At MBDA, the French missile maker based near Paris, staff are running simulations with large groups of volunteers drivers to gauge how they react when cars cut out at speed.

Continue reading “Devices that fire microwave blasts, scrambling cars’ onboard computers, could soon allow the authorities to rein in suspect vehicles”

Police Devise App to Curb Far-Right Music ( Germany )

German police have developed a Shazam-like smartphone app that allows them to identify far-right rock songs by playing just a brief sample. It could make it harder for neo-Nazis to lure under-18s with music, which is seen as a “gateway drug” into the scene.

German authorities are considering using software akin to a smartphone app that would help them identify neo-Nazi music in seconds, SPIEGEL has learned.

The interior ministers of the country’s 16 regional states will meet this week to discuss an new method dubbed “Nazi Shazam,” in reference to the mobile phone-based music identification service Shazam, which can identify music bands and song titles from a short sample picked up via the phone’s microphone.

Continue reading “Police Devise App to Curb Far-Right Music ( Germany )”

‘Germany No Longer a Role Model for Europe’



11/28/2013 03:13 PM

World from Berlin

Germany’s next government is expected to shower the country with goodies including a minimum wage and an earlier retirement age. Editorialists warn the extra spending sends the wrong message and will be costly for the next generation.

Germany’s conservatives and left-leaning Social Democrats reached an agreement this week to create the next federal government after weeks of negotiations following the Sept. 22 election. With Chancellor Angela Merkel of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) at its helm, the coalition government has agreed to a number of joint policy initiatives that will see the establishment of Germany’s first-ever legally mandated minimum wage and generous changes to the country’s pension system, including the option of retirement at 63. At the same time, the CDU, its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) are pledging to deliver these gifts without raising taxes.

Continue reading “‘Germany No Longer a Role Model for Europe’”

Germany warns US facilities could be targeted in wake of NSA leaks

Published time: November 12, 2013 22:13                                                                             

The entrance to the US Airbase is pictured in Ramstein, southern German (AFP Photo / Daniel Roland) The entrance to the US Airbase is pictured in Ramstein, southern German (AFP Photo / Daniel Roland)

Officials in Germany have cautioned authorities to prepare for possible attacks against United States facilities overseas as revelations continue to emerge about America’s secretive National Security Agency.

As leaked classified documents continue to disclose the covert  operations of the NSA, a domestic intelligence warning obtained  by Germany’s Der Spiegel suggests the revelations made possible  by former contractor Edward Snowden’s leaked files are inspiring  potentially violent protests.

Der Spiegel, an outlet which has worked closely with Snowden and  some of the leaked documents since earlier this year, announced  on Monday that it had received a domestic intelligence memo from  Germany’s Federal Office  for the Protection of the Constitution – the contents of which  cautioned officials that “an emotional response from certain  segments of the population cannot be ruled out.”

According to the magazine, the government office said that a   “potential threat” had emerged following the information  disclosed by the NSA leaks, adding that “security measures aimed at  protecting US facilities in Germany should be  increased.”

Anti-American sentiment has spread across the globe in recent  weeks as Snowden’s leaks continue to expose evidence of  questionable surveillance operations conducted by the NSA –   including recent revelations in which the agency was linked to  violating the privacy of German citizens and even the country’s  chancellor, Angela Merkel.

A poll published in the wake of those revelations by public  broadcaster ARD suggested that only 35 percent of German citizens  still see the US as a reliable partner. At the dawn of US  President Barack Obama’s first term as president, more than  three-quarters of Germans polled in a similar survey said they  trusted America.

Earlier this week, Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) called for the  head of the NSA to leave office. Snowden’s leaks have caused much  embarrassment in Washington since June, and former friends of the  US have demanded answers after being told through leaked  documents that they’ve been subjected to surveillance.

“The head of the NSA, the president of the United States, the  Congressional Intelligence Committees [and] all of these  contractors we pay that were responsible for performing the  background checks” should be considered for   “wholesale housecleaning,” McCain told Der Spiegel in an  interview published over the weekend.

Friends spy on friends. We all know that, but there  have been certain boundaries,” added McCain. “Those  boundaries were probably, to some degree, there because we didn’t  have the capabilities we have now. But when you go to the point  where you invade someone’s privacy…one of the most foremost  leaders in the world, Angela Merkel, then it was a  mistake.

According to Der Spiegel, the head of Germany’s Office for the  Protection of the Constitution demanded “urgent  clarification” with regards to the heightened security alert,  but had not received a reply from federal authorities as of  Tuesday.

Virtually numbed: Immersive video gaming alters real-life experience

Role-playing video games can alter our experience of reality and numb us to important real-life experiences, study finds

Spending time immersed as a virtual character or avatar in a role-playing video game can numb you to realizing important body signals in real life. This message comes from Ulrich Weger of the University of Witten/Herdecke in Germany and Stephen Loughnan of Melbourne University in Australia, in an article in the journal Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, published by Springer.

The researchers studied what happens when gamers take on the role of – and identify with – a nonhuman character such as an avatar during immersive video gaming, and how it especially influences their experience of pain. Avatars often have automaton-like, robotic characteristics such as mechanistic inertness, rigidity and a lack of emotion and warmth.

Participants were asked how much time they spend each week playing video games. Their responses were then correlated with a measure of pain tolerance by counting the number of paperclips that they could retrieve from ice-cold water. In a second experiment, participants played either an immersive or a nonimmersive computer game before taking part in the same pain-resistance task. The immersive video-game players exhibited a reduced sensitivity to pain and removed significantly more paperclips from ice-cold water. They were also more indifferent to people depicted as experiencing displeasure than were the nonimmersive players.

Weger and Loughnan found that by taking on and acting from the perspective of an automaton-like avatar, people are desensitized to pain in themselves and in others. The point of view adopted during video gaming appears to have implications that extend beyond the virtual environment, into real life.

Dr. Weger points to what he sees as a misleading development: that the human–machine boundary is increasingly being blurred, either by humans entering virtual machines/robots, or by anthropomorphizing, in other words adding human qualities to animated figures and toys. Machines are being programmed to attract human inclinations, while virtual characters and robots have started to perform tasks or roles that were traditionally held by humans, such as that of robot counselling therapists. In such an environment it becomes increasingly easy and normal to regard artificial beings as being akin to human beings.

“We see this blurring as a reality of our time but also as a confused and misleading development that has begun to shape society,” says Weger. “We believe this should be balanced by other developments, for example, by working on our awareness of what it really means to be human. We should also look into how we can best make use of the beneficial applications of robotic or artificial intelligence advances, so as to be able to use our freed up resources and individual potentials wisely rather than becoming enslaved by those advances.”


Weger, U.W., Loughnan, S. (2013). Virtually numbed: Immersive video gaming alters real-life experience. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review DOI 10.3758/s13423-013-0512-2

The full-text article is available to journalists on request.

Europe Furious Over US Spying Allegations ” Worse than Orwell’s 1984 ” Emergency meeting Called

‘Out of Hand’

The newest allegations of US spying have unleashed a torrent of criticism and concern in Europe. If suspicions unearthed by SPIEGEL that the US tapped Chancellor Merkel’s cell phone turn out to be true, the ramifications for trans-Atlantic ties could be immense.

Leading politicians and media commentators in Germany expressed serious concern on Thursday following allegations that US intelligence agencies had tapped Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone. Merkel’s spokesman confirmed that she placed an angry call Wednesday night to United States President Barack Obama to discuss the suspicions, which arose from an inquiry by SPIEGEL.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle took the unusual step Thursday morning of summoning the US ambassador, John B. Emerson, who was set to meet with the minister in the afternoon. A source at the Foreign Ministry told SPIEGEL ONLINE on Thursday that Westerwelle will meet with the ambassador “in person.”

The news agency Reuters reported that representatives of both Merkel and French President François Hollande said the two would have a one-on-one meeting on the US spying issue Thursday afternoon before the start of a two-day EU summit in Brussels.

And the German Federal Prosecutor’s office in Karlsruhe is also looking into the new allegations of US spying, setting up a so-called “monitoring process,” and requiring the appropriate federal agencies to supply them with relevant reliable information. The agency started a similar process at the end of June to look into possible activities by the NSA in Germany. That process is still ongoing, a spokesman said.

Worse than Orwell’s 1984

Claudia Roth, the outgoing co-leader of the German Green Party, told SPIEGEL ONLINE that the alleged bugging of Angela Merkel’s cell phone is a “terrible, terrible scandal” that will lead to a “meltdown” in German-US relations.

“It is impossible to negotiate when the other side of the table knows all the strategy,” she said, adding that the allegations, if proven, are a more extreme invasion of privacy than those imagined in George Orwell’s 1984.

Sharp criticism also came from German Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière. “If what we are now hearing is true, that would be really bad,” he told broadcaster ARD. “The Americans are and remain our closest friends, but this is completely unacceptable.”

De Maizière went on to say that he had assumed for years his own phone had been tapped. “However, I did not expect the Americans,” he added. Asked about possible effects on US-German and US-European relations, de Maizière said: “We can’t simply return to business as usual. There are allegations in France, too.” Diplomatic relations between France and the US have been strained following reports that millions of French calls had been monitored by US intelligence agencies.

‘Our Fears Have Been Confirmed’

“The allegation shows once again that our fears have been confirmed,” said Thomas Oppermann, chairman of the Parliamentary Control Panel, which is responsible for monitoring Germany’s federal intelligence services. “The NSA’s monitoring activities have gotten completely out of hand and evidently take place beyond all democratic controls,” continued the center-left Social Democrat, who called an emergency meeting of the Control Panel for 2 p.m. on Thursday.

Oppermann said the allegations of US spying would be an issue during the talks surrounding the building of a governing coalition with Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Christian Social Union (CSU). “The protection of citizens in the digital age will be one of the important topics,” Oppermann said Thursday in Berlin. If the allegations are true, he said, it would be a “clear violation of German interests.”

German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger has called for Merkel’s government to suspend the SWIFT deal between the EU and US, which governs the transfer of some bank data from the EU to anti-terror authorities in the United States. “The new suspicion exceeds all bounds. The NSA affair is not over,” she said, calling for EU bodies to “decide quickly” on the matter.

German media commentators also reacted angrily on Thursday. “A greater affront by a friendly country is hardly conceivable,” wrote the prominent center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung in a front-page commentary that criticized Merkel’s government for initially downplaying the US spying scandal. “But the new allegations also cast a new light on Obama and the US intelligence community. During his visit to Germany, the US president grandly promised a trustful cooperation. But even Merkel now seems to have lost her belief in that. It’s hard to even imagine how Obama’s intelligence services deal with hostile states when one sees how they behave toward their closest allies.”

The conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung cautioned readers that nothing had yet been proven regarding the chancellor’s mobile phone, but it also emphasized the extent to which the US spying scandal has already damaged diplomatic relations. “As Obama’s cool reaction shows, the government in Washington has apparently not yet understood the level of damage that continues to be caused by the activities of American intelligence agencies in Europe. They have diminished the trans-Atlantic relationship — even to a major degree.”

Outrage Ahead of EU Summit

Elsewhere in Europe, other editorialists also reacted with outrage to the latest spying allegations. Conservative Paris daily Le Figaro called the news “a warning shot in the direction of the US and a call for a resolute response from the EU. Europe is not discovering the NSA wiretapping scandal now. But with a personal accusation from Angela Merkel, the matter takes on a spectacular new scale.”

Even if the cell-phone allegation turns out to be false, writes right-leaning Milan daily Corriere della Sera, “it doesn’t change anything of the substance. … The real central issue is that a threshold has already been crossed. No one can and must be indignant that a global power like the US has such an efficient information-gathering service. But, in the sensitive area of security, the monstrous possibilities offered by modern technologies oblige states to work alongside friendly and allied countries with the maximum degree of coordination, with respect to the limits and rules that should govern such activities.”

“With each leak, American soft power hemorrhages, and hard power threatens to seep away with it,” wrote Britain’s left-wing Guardian newspaper on Wednesday evening. The commentary went on to question what it means “to be an American ally in the 21st century.”

The revelations are likely to overshadow the other issues on the agenda at an EU summit due to take place Thursday afternoon in Brussels. The summit was originally meant to address Europe’s economic recovery and immigration, as well as the EU’s digital economy and innovation. Now, however, it’s quite likely American spying in Europe will steal much of the spotlight.

— Charly Wilder with wires. With reporting by Rupert Neate.


Why the Germans can’t help being rude: Historic divisions mean they are used to being surrounded by enemies

EEV: ???



  • Germans  like ‘stability and structure’ because of nation’s fractured  past
  • Respected German institute produce video showing the difference between them and their foreign counterparts

By  Hayley O’keeffe

PUBLISHED: 23:40 EST, 17  October 2013 |  UPDATED: 07:20 EST, 18 October 2013

As the old stereotype goes, German people are  always first to bag the sun loungers, and always last to say thank  you.

The Goethe Institute, which is Germany’s  equivalent of The British Council, claims that a number of factors could  explain away the  stereotype.

Famed for their punctuality, they also have a  reputation for getting straight to the point – which can be perceived as rude by  the British.

Scroll down  for video

Germans are stereotypically thought of as the first with their towels on the sunloungers (posed by models)Germans are stereotypically thought of as the first with  their towels on the sunloungers (posed by models)



The explanation is that the country’s  centuries old divisions may make some feel like they are ‘surrounded by  enemies’.

Because of the nation’s fractured past,  Germans hold stability, structure and order in high regard.

The Goethe Institute have produced a video  which explain the misconceptions – and how Germans differ from people of  different nationalities.

In the clip, a German man is seen standing  upright and to attention with a handful of documents while the foreigner –  possibly British – sits in a slouched position.

Christine Jansen of the Amsterdam branch of  the Goethe Institute told website The  Local: ‘We  produced the films as a starting point of a discussion about cultural  differences when doing business with Germans.’

She added: ‘The video-makers attribute  Germans’ tendency to avoid personal matters in favour of getting straight to the  point to history.

‘They say the historic division of Germany  into several smaller states meant Germans were constantly surrounded by enemies  and they kept themselves to themselves.’

But Jansen told The Local that the mention of  Germany being surrounded by enemies was not a reference to the Second World War  and that there had been some criticism of that part of the video.


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UN’s naked male sculpture hidden ahead of Iran talks

Monday, Oct 14, 2013

GENEVA – A relief carving of a naked man at the UN’s Geneva headquarters was covered up on Monday, apparently to spare the blushes of Iranian diplomats ahead of fresh talks on the country’s nuclear drive.

UN officials would not comment on why the wall relief, inspired by Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam”, had been masked by a large white screen, referring questions to the Swiss authorities.

But Swiss newspaper Tribune de Geneve claimed that the aim was to avoid offending the Islamic republic’s delegation for the talks taking place on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Iranian men are expected to cover their arms and legs in public, with women further obliged to cover their hair and wear loose clothing in line with the hardline interpretation of Islam endorsed by powerful clerics in the country.

Donated by Britain to the UN’s forerunner the League of Nations in 1938, the larger-than-life reclining figure was sculpted by Eric Gill, and tops the entrance to the building’s Council Chamber where the talks are due to take place.

Swiss officials declined to address the newspaper’s claim, telling AFP that the aim was to provide a neutral backdrop at the entrance to the meeting hall. Although the talks are to take place in the UN’s 1930s-era Palace of Nations, the world body is not their official host.

Instead, Switzerland was asked to organise the meeting by the so-called P5+1 group made up of the five permanent UN Security Council members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, plus Germany.

Nazis offered peace with the Allies in 1941… but only if they were allowed to invade Russia

  • The  high-ranking Nazi was carrying out orders from the Fuhrer
  • Offered the  British a deal that would see Germany pull out of Western Europe – so long as  the fascists could attack the USSR without  intervention

By  Anna Edwards

PUBLISHED: 12:16 EST, 26  September 2013 |  UPDATED: 12:36 EST, 26 September 2013

Rudolph Hess, Hitler's Deputy, offered peace for Western Europe - in exchange for a clear path to attack the SovietsRudolph Hess, Hitler’s Deputy, offered peace for Western  Europe – in exchange for a clear path to attack the Soviets


The Nazis attempted to broker a peace  offering with Britain – if they were allowed a free path to attack the USSR, a  new book has revealed.

Rudolf Hess’s flight to Britain during World  War Two to sign a peace deal ordered by Adolf Hitler has long been recorded as a  bizarre one man mission to try and reconcile warring West Europe and the  Nazis.

But the high-ranking Nazi was actually  carrying out orders from the Fuhrer when he flew to Messerschmitt to Scotland in  May 1941.

He was to offer the British government a deal  that would see Germany pull out of Western Europe – so long as the fascists  could attack the USSR without intervention.

But historian Peter Padfield has discovered  evidence he claims proves that the deputy Fuhrer held a detailed peace  treaty.

It proposed that the Nazis would withdraw  from western Europe, in exchange for British neutrality over a planned attack on  Russia, the Daily Telegraph reported.

The researcher claims in a new book that a  German-speaking unnamed informant told him he was called in to translate the  documents that showed Germany wanted a clear path to attack the Soviets within  five weeks.

Hess’ mission began with him parachuting out  over Renfrewshire where he was arrested by a farmhand with a  pitchfork.

The Third Reich deputy wanted to contact the  Duke of Hamilton to set peace talks with Winston Churchill in motion.

No deal: Sir Winston Churchill refused to agree to Hitler's peace deal offered by Hess1934: German dictator Adolf Hitler

No deal: Sir Winston Churchill refused to agree to  Hitler’s peace deal offered by Hess


But despite the offer, Churchill’s morals  were not swayed by the offer.

He refused to allow the Third Reich a clear  path to attack the Eastern Front – because he did not trust Hitler’s promises  and it would have jeopardised his efforts to involve the U.S in the raging war,  Mr Padfield says.

The author claims the Prime Minister was  determined to beat Hitler and he did not want to destroy a coalition of European  governments, so the offer was not made public.

Mr Padfield, who makes the claims in a new  book, Hess, Hitler and Churchill, said: ‘This was not a renegade plot.

‘Hitler had sent Hess and he brought over a  fully developed peace treaty for Germany to evacuate all the occupied countries  in the West.’

Hess survived the war and was tried at  Nuremberg for war crimes.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment and  spent more time behind bars than any other Third Reich leaders before taking his  own life in Spandau Prison near Berlin in 1987, aged 93.

At Nuremberg Hess appeared to be the  delusional, forgetful, mentally ill figure that Hitler claimed he was after the  abortive mission.


David Maclean, the ploughman who caught Rudolph Hess 

David Maclean, the ploughman who caught Rudolph  Hess


It was an act recorded as a one-man mad  mission.

Hess was, apparently, trying to set peace  talks with Winston Churchill in motion under his own initiative.

Hitler was even supposed to have scrambled  aircraft to try to stop Hess, his deputy, from leaving Germany.

But a 28-page notebook discovered in a  Russian archive in 2011 disputes this theory and indicates that Hitler was in on  the mission.

It was written in 1948 by Major Karlheinz  Pintsch, a long-time adjutant to Hess.

He was captured by the Soviets and spent  years undergoing  torture and interrogation at  their  hands.

In the notebook he writes that Hitler hoped  that an ‘agreement with the Englishmen would be successful’.

Pintsch notes that Hess’s task – five weeks  before Germany launched its invasion of Russia – was to ‘bring about, if not a  military alliance of Germany with England against Russia, then to bring about a  neutralisation of England’.

Pintsch’s interrogation transcripts found in  the same archive in Moscow show that Hitler was not surprised when news came  through of Hess’s capture.

The relevant section reads: ‘Nor did he rant  and rave about what Hess had done.

Instead, he replied calmly: ‘At this  particular moment in the war that could be a most hazardous  escapade.’

‘Hitler then went on to read a letter that  Hess had sent him.

‘He read the following significant passage  out aloud: “And if this project . . . ends in failure . . . it will always be  possible for you to deny all responsibility. Simply say I was out of my  mind”.’

This is what would happen after the mission  failed, with both Hitler and Churchill claiming Hess was deranged.


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World’s top climate scientists told to ‘cover up’ the fact that the Earth’s temperature hasn’t risen for the last 15 years

  • Leaked United Nations report reveals the  world’s temperature hasn’t risen for the last 15 years
  • Politicians have raised concerns about  the final draft
  • Fears that the findings will encourage  deniers of man-made climate change

By  Tamara Cohen, Political Correspondent

PUBLISHED: 14:40 EST, 19  September 2013 |  UPDATED: 14:41 EST, 19 September 2013

Scientists working on the most authoritative  study on climate change were urged to cover up the fact that the world’s  temperature hasn’t risen for the last 15 years, it is claimed.


A leaked copy of a United Nations report,  compiled by hundreds of scientists, shows politicians in Belgium, Germany,  Hungary and the United States raised concerns about the final draft.

Published next week, it is expected to  address the fact that 1998 was the hottest year on record and world temperatures  have not yet exceeded it, which scientists have so far struggled to  explain.

The report is the result of six years’ work  by UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is seen as the  world authority on the extent of climate change and what is causing it – on  which governments including Britain’s base their green policies.

Concerns: Scientists have been urged to cover up the fact that the Earth's temperature hasn't risen for the last 15 years amid fears it would provide ammunition for deniers of man-made climate change 

Concerns: Scientists have been urged to cover up the  fact that the Earth’s temperature hasn’t risen for the last 15 years amid fears  it would provide ammunition for deniers of man-made climate change


But leaked documents seen by the Associated  Press, yesterday revealed deep concerns among politicians about a lack of global  warming over the past few years.

Germany called for the references to the  slowdown in warming to be deleted, saying looking at a time span of just 10 or  15 years was ‘misleading’ and they should focus on decades or  centuries.

The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has changed its tune after issuing stern warnings about climate change for years  

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has  changed its tune after issuing stern warnings about climate change for years


Hungary worried the report would provide  ammunition for deniers of man-made climate change.

Belgium objected to using 1998 as a starting  year for statistics, as it was exceptionally warm and makes the graph look flat  – and suggested using 1999 or 2000 instead to give a more upward-pointing  curve.

The United States delegation even weighed in,  urging the authors of the report to explain away the lack of warming using the  ‘leading hypothesis’ among scientists that the lower warming is down to more  heat being absorbed by the ocean – which has got hotter.

The last IPCC ‘assessment report’ was  published in 2007 and has been the subject of huge controversy after it had to  correct the embarrassing claim that the Himalayas would melt by 2035.

It was then engulfed in the ‘Climategate’  scandal surrounding leaked emails allegedly showing scientists involved in it  trying to manipulate their data to make it look more convincing – although  several inquiries found no wrongdoing.

The latest report, which runs to 2,000 pages,  will be shown to representatives from all 195 governments next week at a meeting  in Stockholm, who can discuss alterations they want to make.

But since it was issued to governments in  June, they have raised hundreds of objections about the 20-page summary for  policymakers, which sums up the findings of the scientists.

What it says will inform renewable energy  policies and how much consumers and businesses will pay for them.

The report is expected to say the rate of  warming between 1998 and 2012 was about half of the average rate since 1951 –  and put this down to natural variations such as the El Nino and La Nina ocean  cycles and the cooling effects of volcanoes.

A leaked copy of a United Nations report, compiled by hundreds of scientists, shows politicians in Belgium, Germany, Hungary and the United States have raised concerns about the final draft. Above, the United Nations headquarters building in New YorkA leaked copy of the United Nations report, compiled by  hundreds of scientists, shows politicians in Belgium, Germany, Hungary and the  United States have raised concerns about the final draft. Above, the United  Nations headquarters building in New York


A German climate scientist – Stefan  Rahmstorf, who reviewed the chapter on sea levels – yesterday admitted it was  possible the report’s authors were feeling under pressure to address the  slowdown in warming due to the ‘public debate’ around the issue.

The draft report, which is not new research  but a synthesis of all the work being done by scientists around the world, is  likely to be highly disputed at the three-day meeting.

It will make the case that humans are causing  global warming with carbon emissions even more strongly upgrading it from ‘very  likely’ in 2007 to ‘extremely likely’ it is manmade.

But scientists are under pressure to explain  why the warming has not exceeded 1998 levels although the decade 2000-2010 was  the hottest on record.

Alden Meyer, of the Union of Concerned  Scientists based in Washington, said yesterday: ‘I think to not address it would  be a problem because then you basically have the denialists saying: ‘Look the  IPCC is silent on this issue.’

Jonathan Lynn, a spokesman for the IPCC said  yesterday: ‘This is the culmination of four years’ work by hundreds of  scientists, where governments get a chance to ensure the summary for  policymakers is clear and concise in a dialogue with the scientists who wrote  it, and have the opportunity to raise any topics they think should be  highlighted

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Existence of new element confirmed

Contact: Dirk Rudolph 46-462-227-633 Lund University

An international team of researchers, led by physicists from Lund University, have confirmed the existence of what is considered a new element with atomic number 115. The experiment was conducted at the GSI research facility in Germany. The results confirm earlier measurements performed by research groups in Russia.

“This was a very successful experiment and is one of the most important in the field in recent years”, said Dirk Rudolph, Professor at the Division of Atomic Physics at Lund University.

Besides the observations of the new chemical element, the researchers have also gained access to data that gives them a deeper insight into the structure and properties of super-heavy atomic nuclei.

By bombarding a thin film of americium with calcium ions, the research team was able to measure photons in connection with the new element’s alpha decay. Certain energies of the photons agreed with the expected energies for X-ray radiation, which is a ‘fingerprint’ of a given element.

The new super-heavy element has yet to be named. A committee comprising members of the international unions of pure and applied physics and chemistry will review the new findings to decide whether to recommend further experiments before the discovery of the new element is acknowledged.

The new evidence for the chemical element with atomic number 115 will be presented in the scientific journal The Physical Review Letters on 27 August.

Alibi Agencies Help Create Double Lives

By Barbara Hardinghaus

An episode of Germany’s top crime show recently highlighted a secretive business: helping clients create and maintain lies. Now one such agency is struggling to keep up with the demand.

For his best clients, Patrick Ulmer says he goes out and arranges the lie personally. In one instance, he got into his car and drove south to Cologne, where he rang the doorbell at an apartment.

The door opened to reveal his client. The client’s clothing was scattered around the apartment. His cologne and even the cloths he used to clean his glasses were there. The refrigerator contained his favorite foods, from chocolate pudding to melons. All the signs suggested that this was where the client lived.

But appearances can be deceiving. The truth is that this man leads a double life and doesn’t want his wife to know.

The client told his wife his work requires him to be in Cologne during the week. Because she occasionally wants to visit her husband there, Ulmer rented this apartment for him, filling it with the man’s belongings to lay a false trail. He even drops by, presenting himself as a colleague from work, when the man’s wife is visiting. During his visit, he asks innocently where the bathroom is, as if he didn’t already know.

The Business of Lies

Ulmer laughs when talking about it. He finds stories like this one amusing. Sitting in a café called Garbs am Markt, in Weyhe, near Bremen, he lights a cigarillo. The 28-year-old is a tall, rotund man who doesn’t seem to find anything about his job disturbing. And perhaps he has no reason to.

Ulmer runs an agency that specializes in fabrications. His clients can purchase lies both small and large, from a text message to get them out of a tight spot to an entire package of assistance in managing a complicated double life. Ulmer considers this an ordinary service, much the same as driving a taxi. His clients include men and women in equal measure. Most of them come from southern Germany or Austria, more conservative regions where there is apparently a great need for keeping secrets.

Leaving his client’s Cologne apartment, Ulmer offered a cheery goodbye. “The colleague thing makes it especially believable,” Ulmer says. His home visit is part of the package.

Ulmer’s client paid for 12 months up front at the start of the year, a flat-rate, all-inclusive price for which Ulmer organizes the man’s double life. The truth is that this man doesn’t work in Cologne at all. Cologne is his alibi.

In reality, he works in Switzerland. He also lives in Switzerland, with his wife, the one who sometimes visits him in Cologne. But he also has a second wife and a second child in a different Swiss city. He doesn’t want either family to learn of the other’s existence, so he tells one he’s working in Cologne when he wants to visit the other.

Ulmer also set up a telephone number with a Cologne area code for his Swiss client. The client can call both his wives from this number and both of them can also reach him — their calls are routed, via the Internet, to his cell phone. And when one of the women expresses a desire to visit her husband in Cologne, he moves into his alibi apartment there for a few days.

Television Spotlight

“All the client has to do is open the door, everything else is done,” Ulmer says. The price of such an alibi varies according to the amount of work it requires, but falls in the four-figure euro range. Ulmer’s other services come at a set price. A text message costs €9 ($12), while an address and accompanying mail service is €59 a month. Booking a vacation costs €89. An invitation is €69, or €99 if the person issuing the invitation should also be reachable by phone.

Ulmer also recently added a “car service” to his offerings, in which he racks up the mileage on a client’s car. This is useful, for example, for someone who lives in Stuttgart and claims he has to travel regularly to the Ruhr region for work, but in fact only goes as far as Mannheim to visit a lover there.

Ulmer has been running his agency for five years, but business only recently took off after the German broadcaster ARD aired an episode of the popular crime series “Tatort” that featured an alibi agency and a man with two families.

Frank Koopmann, one of the two screenwriters of the “Tatort” episode, was 22 when he found out that his father had a second family, including a daughter. His father described how difficult it had been to keep his other family a secret, such as the time when he accidentally left his wallet in a telephone booth in a city where he had no reason to be. Wondering how people these days deal with similar problems, the “Tatort” writer did a Google search for companies specializing in such cases.

Dreams of Making It

There are just three such alibi agencies in Germany, none as professional as the fictional one featured on “Tatort.” Since that episode aired, though, people now know that such a thing as lies for hire really does exist, and that purchasing such a service is an option.

Once again, Ulmer has worked through the night to keep up with the many requests he receives. He does everything himself, serving as director, webmaster, layout designer and head of marketing. He works from home, under a sloping attic roof that grows hot in the summer.

The agency on “Tatort” operated out of a large, bright office, with a boss who wore elegant suits and directed beautiful secretaries and a host of other employees. That’s where Ulmer wants to end up.

Ulmer’s father worked as a scaffolder and his mother worked in retail. He spent most of his time on his computer and rarely left his room. He started training to be a pastry chef, but quit before he had finished the program. He has worked for a butcher, in dry wall construction, in a warehouse and at a call center. He never completed a degree, but he met a lot of people over the course of those years and he studied their behavior.

Ulmer came to understand that many lives don’t run a straight course. Some wind up in dead ends, others in labyrinths. He himself stumbled into a marriage and then met his second wife by chance online. He and his second wife now live together with two children in a rowhouse with a wading pool in the backyard.

Giving People ‘Freedom’

From the café in Weyhe, Ulmer gazes out at a large parking lot, where families are packing groceries into their cars. “Believe me,” he says, “there’s nothing that doesn’t exist somewhere.”

Ulmer believes he’s making the world better in his role as a liar for hire. As he sees it, the people who book his services are the liars, not him. He is simply the one who organizes things, a specialist in tangled lives.

Liars, scientists say, are not prepared to accept the truth. The people most likely to have affairs are those with low self-confidence. And often it is people with high incomes who tell lies, people who can afford to buy anything, but feel no internal security — people who can’t stand to see their dreams not come true.

“I give people the freedom they need,” Ulmer says. He created business cards and a letterhead for an unemployed man who wanted to create the impression that he still had a job. Ulmer sent a retiree, who wanted to travel without his wife, an invitation to a fictional IT seminar.

People need lies, psychologists say, when desires and reality diverge. For example, last year about 3.5 million Germans a month went online to look for “erotic contacts.” Such “casual dating” is all about “fulfilling intimate fantasies. Love and sex are kept strictly separate,” promises one such website.

“If we can control our secrets, making sure they occupy the place we want them to, then our lives can seem manageable,” writes American psychologist Gail Saltz. “But when our secrets start to control us — and far too often they do — then a normal life clicks over into something else: a secret life.” Feelings of guilt develop, sometimes even making the person sick. Typical symptoms include stomach problems, breathing difficulties and heart trouble.

Famous Second Lives

A year and a half a go, a supermarket manager in England killed himself after it came to light that for 21 years he had maintained a second family just a 20 minutes’ drive away. On Long Island, in the US state of New York, a doctor’s biggest secret emerged when he was in car accident and his two girlfriends ran into each other in the hospital emergency room. Not until long after his death did it come out that the pilot Charles Lindbergh had, in addition to his family in the US, a second life in Germany. François Mitterrand, former president of France, had his official family but also a mistress and a secret daughter, Mazarine Marie, who wasn’t allowed to call her father “papa” when they went out to restaurants or on outings together.


There are advantages to telling lies. Doing so gives the liar a feeling of being in control of his or her complicated life. And telling a lie means not having to entirely deny the normal degree of ambivalence that everyone feels. In this sense, Ulmer is right when he says he’s doing something good.

“Here,” Ulmer says, laying a piece of paper on the café table. The subject line reads, “Alibi request.” The client is a married man who also had a girlfriend, but is no longer with her. That former girlfriend is now in a relationship with one of the client’s colleagues. The client can’t stand seeing the two of them together at the office and wants to break them up.

He believes his colleague is quick to jealousy and looking for a stable relationship. He also believes the girlfriend is looking for adventure. The client called Ulmer, asking for someone to call his former girlfriend and propose an orgy. The client feels certain that his ex would be interested, and that throwing out this bait would compromise her current relationship with his colleague.

“Target: R., current lover, still married, quiet but arrogant, tendency to jealousy,” reads the paper. “Goal: to draw him out.” Ulmer sends this assignment to Munich, to one of his 43 freelancers.

An Actor for Hire

The freelancer in question is waiting in a beer garden, with a beer-and-lemonade mixture in front of him. His name is Florian, and he is an actor by trade. He spent the morning rehearsing for his role as the soldier Beckmann in a production of “The Man Outside.” In a moment he will call the target and propose an evening of group sex.

It’s a sunny afternoon and Florian is wearing a black T-shirt. His thumbs are stained yellow from smoking. He had a position at Munich’s National Theater until last October. At first he was just curious when he came across an ad for Ulmer’s agency on eBay.

He takes out a cell phone, checks to make sure it is set to block his number and takes a deep breath. But when he calls, someone other than the intended target answers, and says the man Florian is trying to reach isn’t there and won’t be back for an hour.

Florian says he’s learned a lot from this job about the things people have to put up with. One time, his task was to accompany a lesbian to a company party. He says that at first he thought, “Why don’t you just tell them you’re not into guys?” But as he walked to the salad bar hand in hand with the client, past a horde of testosterone-driven men, he found himself understanding why the woman didn’t want to come out to this group. He has learned that lies can protect people.

He calls the target’s phone number again. “Hello,” he says. “I ran into Martina recently, at a hotel, and it occurred to me that we could…” But then he breaks off. “Damn, he hung up.”

‘What about morality?’

The next weekend, standing at Gate C 08 at Hamburg Airport, Ulmer says that failing sometimes is simply part and parcel of intruding on strangers’ lives. Today, Ulmer is flying to Vienna to meet with a woman working for his company’s new Austrian branch. He rarely flies and he’s nervous. Onboard, he videos the takeoff with his iPhone, then takes pictures of the flight data, the plane’s elevation and speed. Perhaps he’ll show these pictures to his wife later, to set her mind at ease. She’s taking the children to the playground alone today, something the family usually does together every Sunday. Ulmer says his family’s well-being is very important to him.

He meets with his new employee at a Starbucks in downtown Vienna. Both of them order coffee with ice cream, then settle down to talk shop. “You should always give the client the impression that anything is possible,” Ulmer says. “You need to find a solution right there during that first conversation. You need to be unscrupulous.”

His employee is silent for a bit. Previously, she worked at a wholesaler, selling lamps, and she has three children. She pokes holes in the whipped cream on her ice cream with her straw, then asks, “What about morality? What if we’re destroying families?”

“We aren’t destroying them, we’re maintaining them,” Ulmer says.

They sit there quite a while longer, haggling over the price of “morality.” In the past, she says, people kept their secrets locked away in a box. These days, that box is the Internet. People find advice there, friends, lovers, sex. People don’t need anyone anymore — they have their computer, their iPad or their cell phone. But what is morally defensible?

Avoidance of Reality

Not far from Vienna, Peter Stiegnitz walks into a health resort in the small Austrian city of Bad Vöslau. He is 76, a dapper gentleman, a psychologist with his own practice in Vienna. For the last 30 years, he has concerned himself with the dividing line between justifiable lies and those that are not.

Stiegnitz is married and his wife is currently undergoing treatment in Bad Vöslau. He has accompanied her here. “Look,” he says, “a lie is nothing more than an avoidance of reality.” And that avoidance, he adds, can sometimes do us good.

Stiegnitz researched why people lie and found that about 40 percent lie to spare themselves trouble or punishment, about 14 percent lie to be polite and avoid insulting someone, and 6 percent do it out of laziness. He also found that older women in particular also lie to be loved.

He says women blush when they lie, stare at their conversation partner and are quick to change the subject. Women lie somewhat less often than men, because they are better at coming to terms with reality. Men become agitated when they lie, cross their legs, scratch themselves and sweat.

Being Honest about Lies

What would happen if people didn’t lie anymore? “Then this planet would end up completely deserted. There would be 100 wars,” Stiegnitz says. “Truth fanatics lie to themselves,” he adds, saying that in claiming to know the truth, such people are actually running away from reality. Stiegnitz advises, “Let us be honest about our lies!”

Why, then, does lying have such a bad image? “Lying has limits,” Stiegnitz says, and not all people abide by them. “The limit comes when I cause harm to myself or someone else with my lies.”

As in the case of an affair? “Oh,” he sighs, “if it doesn’t become an ongoing relationship, that’s not overstepping the line.”

A double life, then? “People who lead a double life feel powerful for a while, they’re flying. But no one can keep that up very long. No person has two lives in them.”

What about an alibi agency? “Well, that says something about our condition,” Stiegnitz says. “When we lived in a hierarchical society — with family, church, job — we had less freedom, but we also didn’t have to learn how to handle freedom. Now, we no longer know where we stand. And what do we do? We flee further into freedom.”

In closing, Professor Stiegnitz offers a piece of advice meant to protect people: “Never love too much!”

A Woman’s Double Life

Is this truly all that the clients in Ulmer’s files are doing, then, protecting themselves?


What are we to think, then, of a client of Ulmer’s who has been leading a double life for the past couple of years? This woman, let’s say, comes from the western German city of Bielefeld. Let’s also say her name is Sarah. She chose to travel to Hamburg for this conversation. When she walks in the door of a bar called “Schönes Leben,” which translates to “Wonderful Life,” nothing seems particularly unusual about her, a doe-eyed, cool-looking woman in her mid-40s. She answers every question, but doesn’t want all of her answers to appear in print. She doesn’t want too much information revealed — not when her double life is running so smoothly.

Man number one is a manager from southern Germany, divorced, with a house and children, a freedom-loving guy who enjoys the good things in life. Man number two is a police officer, down-to-earth and funny, who likes bread and butter and is right now waiting at a hotel for Sarah to return. Man number one sent her flowers the day before, with a card wishing her a good time on her “little trip.” She has a long-distance relationship with man number one. Man number two lives very close to her.

She spends a couple of days with one man, then a couple of days with the other. She generally takes her vacations with friends or with man number one, because man number two doesn’t like to fly. She celebrates her birthday with friends and Christmas with her mother. And when she finds herself in a tight spot, with both men wanting to see her, she decides at the spur of the moment which man to see and asks Patrick Ulmer to call the other one. Ulmer or one of his assistants then plays the role of Sarah’s supervising officer, telling the man in question that Sarah, who often travels for work, was urgently needed at the last minute for a project and is already on the plane. Sarah pays the agency €2,000 a year to organize this life. Even her wardrobe is neatly divided between elegant skirts and heels for man number one, jeans and sneakers for man number two.

Who knows about her double life? “Two friends.”

What precautions does she take? “My cell phone is password-protected, and I take it with me into the bathroom when I shower.”

With which man does she have more fun? “Man number two.”

In whose arms would she rather be lying? “Man number one.”

Sex? “Not much with either of them.”

Guilty conscience? “I block it out.”

Why is she doing this at all? “Because I’m so happy. I love man number one, and one of the things he loves about me is how free I am.”

She doesn’t worry about losing him? “No, I do. I worry something will happen to me while I’m out somewhere with man number two and I’ll end up in the hospital. I know both of them would want to visit me.”

Does she think about ending this? “I think about it sometimes, but then I go on with it.”

Honest within Limits

Sarah talks calmly and laughs here and there as she tells her story. She is clearly at home in this life. She feels independent and wanted. She’s grown used to gazing into the eyes of both men, waking up next to both of them, telling both of them, “I miss you.”

Earlier, when she was at the hotel, she says, man number one wrote and asked, “Nice hotel?” She answered, “Riverside.” As she got in the elevator, she realized that hadn’t been particularly smart. Man number one might try to reach her on her cell phone or even on the room phone, in which case under no circumstances could she let man number two, who came with her here to Hamburg, pick up the phone. But she found a simple solution: “I went to the reception and asked them not to put any calls through.”

Sarah says she tries to lie as little as possible, so there’s less to keep track of. She wants to be honest within the existing limits. As for the bigger lies, the ones that are too much work, she lets the agency take care of them. Lying is exhausting.

Sarah, too, is not entirely able to say where the line between good and bad lies falls. Perhaps the limit comes when people who love each other cause each other harm. Or is it no longer love as soon as you hurt the other person?

Or are people happier not knowing some things? Does happiness come from truth, from knowing everything?

Active Versus Passive

Couples therapist Andrea Bräu talks not about people being “victims” and “perpetrators,” but rather of them being “active” or “passive.” In the case of a double life, she says, everyone involved suffers — including the active party, who at some point is no longer able to please everyone, least of all him or herself. Bräu knows that two out of three couples won’t survive a long-term affair, because in the course of the arguments and discussions that follow its revelation, they learn their relationship isn’t as stable as they thought. Often, Bräu says, it is not so much the affair itself that is so hurtful, it is the tangle of lies that destroys trust.

In his attic office in his family’s rowhouse, Ulmer is at his computer. He’s having problems with his website, but he’s also already working on his next client’s alibi. A man wants to travel to the Philippines for two weeks without his wife, so Ulmer is preparing an invitation for him to a course on “burnout prevention” in northern Germany.

Typing away, Ulmer sets out arrival and departure dates and times, a telephone number and a note that course costs will be covered by the participant’s employer. He also encloses a flyer from the clinic offering the course. The clinic is in on the plan and its reception has been informed, just in case the man’s wife calls. For this assistance, Ulmer says, the clinic receives “a small fee.”

Outside, Ulmer’s wife and children are playing with a ball in the backyard, then they have ice cream. On the trip to Vienna, Ulmer related in passing that his wife also once had an affair. He says it took him a year and a half to come to terms with that. In fact, he says, it sometimes still haunts him.

Translated from the German by Ella Ornstein

Anger in Athens as Merkel says Greece should never have been allowed to join the euro

Angela Merkel says Greece should never have been allowed to join the euro

German leader blames predecessor, Gerhard Schroder – and sparks anger in Athens

Nathalie Savaricas

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Greece’s former Finance Minister, who steered the country into the single currency, has chided Angela Merkel after the German Chancellor said the debt-strapped country should have never been allowed to join the euro.

“She [Angela Merkel] should be more careful in what she is saying,” Yannos Papantoniou told The Independent. “I don’t really think Ms Merkel really believes what she says – it’s part of the party games played ahead of [German] elections.”

Ms Merkel, pictured, has been on the campaign trail for weeks now as she battles to win a third term when Germany holds its general election on 22 September. Speaking to supporters in the northern German river town of Rendsburg on Tuesday, Ms Merkel criticised her predecessor, Gerhard Schröder, for admitting Athens into the single currency.

“The crisis emerged over many years, through founding errors in the euro. For example, Greece should not have been admitted into the euro area,” she said.

Mr Papantoniou, who served as Greece’s Finance Minister from 1994 until 2001 under successive socialist Pasok governments, pointed out that Germany – alongside France and Italy – was among the first eurozone member countries, to break the fiscal rules that regulate the common currency.

While Greece has often come under fire for the accuracy of its statistics, Mr Papantoniou rebuffed claims that the acceptance of Greece in the bloc was undeserved and that membership was approved on the basis of false data provided by Athens.

“Full answers have already been provided and have not been challenged,” the former minister said, attributing a numerical discrepancy to a 2004 change of accounting rules for registering defence expenditure.

As her political rivals criticise her handling of the Greek crisis, Ms Merkel’s Finance Minister Wolfang Schäuble inflamed her critics when he recently admitted that Greece would be needing another loan – albeit much smaller than the two it has already received.

Greece’s current Finance Minister, Yiannis Stournaras, calculated the cost of a potential fresh bailout at about €10bn.

The German Chancellor was quick to allay angry voters who feel the German taxpayer continues to foot the bill for Greece’s financial mistakes. According to recent polls conducted by the Forsa institute, Ms Merkel remains the most popular German political leader by some distance.

Ms Merkel’s campaigning has been focused on her successful safeguarding of the German economy while she maintained a tough stance over the euro crisis.

Experts say Ms Merkel’s recent remarks over Greece reflect her overall electoral strategy to highlight differences between her party and the centre-left political rivals that supervised the admissions of the euro members.

Angela Merkel: Greece should never have been allowed in the euro

Angela Merkel has said Greece should never have been allowed into the euro and put the blame on former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

German Chancellor Merkel delivers her speech during an election rally with Schleswig-Holstein's Christian Democratic (CDU) chairman and top candidate de Jager in Flensburg

Angela Merkel said a strong single currency can only be achieved through reforms in struggling countries such as Greece Photo: Reuters

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10:00PM BST 27 Aug 2013

The German leader’s outburst came as she attempted to prove to voters she maintains a tough stance on struggling euro countries, just a month before facing key elections.

“Greece shouldn’t have been allowed into the euro,” Ms Merkel told around 1,000 supporters of her Christian Democratic Union in Rendsburg on Tuesday.

“Chancellor Schroeder accepted Greece in [in 2001] and weakened the Stability Pact, and both decisions were fundamentally wrong, and one of the starting points for our current troubles.”

Ms Merkel reiterated her desire to see a strong single currency, but warned that this can only be achieved through reforms in struggling countries such as Greece.

“That [a unified euro area] is such a treasure, such a boon, that we can’t place it in doubt,” she told her supporters. “That’s why the euro is more than a currency. For this reason we’ve shown solidarity, but solidarity always linked to responsibility for reforms in those countries that experience our solidarity.”

Ms Merkel’s finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, admitted last month that Greece will need another bailout, raising fears among Germans that they will have to foot the bill.

On Sunday, the Chancellor refused to rule out another aid package but dismissed debt haircuts, which would hurt Germany as the country with the largest exposure to Greece.

“I am expressly warning against a haircut,” she said. “It could create a domino effect of uncertainty … in the eurozone.”

On Monday, Greek finance minister Yannis Stournaras said his country may have to renegotiate its bailout terms in a bid to ease its debt burden.

He told a German newspaper this could involve lower interest payments and more time to repay €240bn in loans.

Greece also faces a finance black hole of up to €10bn (£8.6bn).

The Chancellor is tipped to win a third term in the September 22 poll partly because voters approve of her management of the eurozone crisis and her tough line with struggling states.

Crisis: another 40,000 stores shuttering in Greece, report

27 August, 18:42

(ANSAmed) – ATHENS, AUGUST 27 – While Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras says the country is on a course to begin a recovery by the end of next year, the lingering effects of austerity measures are continuing to kill businesses with another 40,000 expected to close by the end of the year, as GreekReporter website writes citing a survey published by the Institute of Small Enterprise of the General Confederation of Professionals, Craftsmen and Merchants (GSEVEE). The report also showed that business is falling for 75% of them and they expect it will get worse, not better as Samaras has predicted. The federation said that number of bankrupt businesses will surpass 90,000 this year although other estimates have it as high as 110,000. With the closings, the country’s record unemployment rate is growing too with nearly 1.4 million people out of work and the government planning to fire as many as 40,000 more over the next two years. The report was based on a sample of 1,200 very small and small enterprises, so as to paint a much clearer picture of the financial state in the sectors of manufacturing, trade and services. Such businesses reflect 99.6% of enterprises in Greece. (ANSAmed).

Spicy food on the menu 6000 to 23,000 years ago


Even in prehistoric Denmark, some liked it hot. Residues scraped from the inside of 6000-year-old pots found in the Baltic show they were used to cook meat and fish that was seasoned with a peppery, mustard-like spice.

Exactly when humans began to season their food is something of a mystery, says Oliver Craig at the University of York, UK. “Spices grow in the wild as part of the background flora,” he says. “So if you find the botanical remains of spices at a site you don’t know whether they were actually used in food or whether they just came from plants growing nearby.”

So although coriander seeds have been found at a 23,000-year-old site in Israel, we cannot be sure that they were used to flavour food.

Craig and Hayley Saul, also at York, have now found clear evidence that spices were intentionally added to food used in northern Europe by around 6100 years ago – the earliest known evidence of spiced food in Europe, and perhaps anywhere in the world.

Mustard me up

Their team analysed deposits left inside 74 cooking pots from prehistoric sites in Denmark and Germany. They contained chemical signatures consistent with the presence of meat or fish, and phytoliths – mineral traces of food – similar to those associated with seeds of garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata), a local plant with a strong peppery flavour but little nutritional value.

There were significantly more phytoliths in the pot residues than in the sediment at the site. This suggests the garlic mustard had been brought in from outside the site and deliberately added to the pots.

“In Europe we see spices coming in as imports a few thousand years ago, but what we’ve found is that Europeans were putting spice in food long before that,” says Craig.

In fact, the pots predate the arrival of agriculture in the region, says Craig: the chefs at work in Germany and Denmark were hunter-gatherers. “Quite often we associate the arrival of farming with the first use of new plants and spices,” he says. “But people were putting spice in foods before then. It’s probably always been part of our cuisine.”

Hot and healthy

That raises an obvious question: why are humans so keen on spicy food? There are a few possible explanations. We know, for instance, that even the Neanderthals exploited a variety of plants in their environments for their medicinal properties. So it might be significant that garlic mustard was once used medicinally as a disinfectant.

Another idea, first suggested by Paul Sherman at Cornell University in the 1990s, is that people began seasoning their food because some spices are antimicrobial and guard against food spoilage. In other words, humans may have learned to love spicy food for evolutionary reasons – because it was safer to eat.

“One of the things Hayley found is that there seems to have been a preference to put the garlic mustard in pots that contained fish,” says Craig. “That might be associated with covering the smell, or even have had a role in preserving the fish.”

Still, he prefers a simpler explanation. “I think there may not have necessarily been a functional role here,” he says. “It might simply be down to the aesthetic of taste. We just like these spices.”

Journal reference: PLoS One, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0070583

When a copy is NOT a copy: University researcher notices that Xerox machine CHANGES documents after scanning

  • Documents were changed when they were  compressed, Xerox found
  • Company posts a blog by its senior engineer  to explain why it happens
  • Xerox criticised for not ordering a recall  when implications could be colossal

By  Helen Collis

PUBLISHED: 12:48 EST, 8  August 2013 |  UPDATED: 04:05 EST, 9 August 2013


A researcher in Germany has discovered a  major glitch in Xerox copier machines which have shown to substitute the wrong  numbers when scanning documents.

After scanning a blueprint document from an  architect, David Kriesel, a computer science researcher at the University of  Bonn in Germany, thought the firm was pulling his leg when they accused him of  altering some figures.

But sure enough, on three occasions, the  number six had been replaced with an eight.

Changing numbers: David Kriesel noticed that in some of the numbers he scanned in with a '66' sequence (pictured on the left) they had changed to '86' (pictured on the right) 

Changing numbers: David Kriesel noticed that in some of  the numbers he scanned in with a ’66’ sequence (pictured on the left) they had  changed to ’86’ (pictured on the right)

Technical error: Again, the numbers which feature a 6 on the original document (left) have been changed to an 8 (pictured right). The table shows that 54,60 (left) turns into 54,80 (right) and 65,40 (left) becomes 85,40 (right) 

Technical error: Again, the numbers which feature a 6 on  the original document (left) have been changed to an 8 (pictured right). The  table shows that 54,60 (left) turns into 54,80 (right) and 65,40 (left) becomes  85,40 (right)

Outrage: When Mr Kriesel noticed the error and the company explained, he took to Twitter to spread his alarm 

Outrage: When Mr Kriesel noticed the error and the  company explained, he took to Twitter to spread his concern

He told ABC  News: I thought they were kidding.  But I tried it myself.. and the numbers changed (after being  scanned).’

Alarmed, Mr Kriesel contacted the U.S. firm,  but found no one knew anything about it.

In response,  the company’s principle  engineer posted a five paragraph blog on its website explaining the situation  and how to avoid it.

Frances Tse said the issue had been detected  in certain machines when scan- quality and resolution settings were altered;  when files were compressed, and the quality reduced.

Each page is scanned as a number of small  patches, and the machine replaced each patch with one that best fits from a  library of symbols.

However, when the file quality is reduced,  there is a subsequent ‘tradeoff’ in accuracy, Mr Tse said.

He wrote on his blog: ‘The Xerox design utilizes the recognized industry standard JBIG2 compressor  which creates extremely small file sizes with good image quality, but with  inherent tradeoffs under low resolution and quality settings.’

He explains that for ‘data integrity  purposes’, the company recommends using the factory default settings for  scanning, with quality level set to ‘higher’.

‘In cases where lower quality/higher  compression is desired for smaller file sizes, we provide the following message  to our customers next to the quality settings within the device web user  interface: “The normal quality option produces small file sizes by using  advanced compression techniques. Image quality is generally acceptable, however,  text quality degradation and character substitution errors may occur with some  originals.”,’ he said

Coverage: Mr Krisesl said he thinks the glitch should get some airtime on a late night satirical programme 

Coverage: Mr Krisesl said he thinks the glitch should  get some airtime on a late night satirical programme

Numerous Xerox machines are affected by the glitch, including this ColorQube a 87XX / 89XX model 

Numerous Xerox machines are affected by the glitch,  including this ColorQube a 87XX / 89XX model


The potential implications of the Xerox scanning glitch could be very serious, especially if they affect construction documents or medical developments, customers point out 

The potential implications of the Xerox scanning glitch  could be very serious, especially if they affect construction documents or  medical developments, customers point out (stock image of an office)

Mr Tse’s blog, titled ‘Always Listening  To Our Customers: Clarification On Scanning Issue‘  has not been well received however, by  those who fear the potential fallback from this issue could be  colossal.

S. Basinger questioned what will happen when  people find engineering documents are released for construction with numbers  switched by Xerox’s machines, or medical documents have used with switched  figures.

‘A lame response like this suggests that some  of the ignorance of the consequences may be willful and that your senior  leadership is hoping that this will somehow go away,’ the comment continues.

‘Heaven forbid as time continues to tick away  and you delay a proper recall that people die as a result of your  inaction.’

Others criticise the company for failing to  explicitly say which machines are affected, another points out that the warning  message did not show up on his machine when he followed the  instructions.

When one client called the customer services  for advice, he found no one knew what he was talking about.

In response, Mr Tse later added some extra  details in answer to his blog comments.

He pointed out that the product families  affected were numerous: ColorQube 87XX / 89XX, ColorQube 92XX / 93XX, WorkCentre  57XX, WorkCentre 76XX, WorkCentre 58XX, WorkCentre 77XX, WorkCentre 5030/5050,  WorkCentre 6400, WorkCentre 78XX, WorkCentre 51XX, WorkCentre 7220/7225,  WorkCentrePro 2XX / BookMark 40/55, WorkCentre 56XX and WorkCentre  75XX

He also drew attention to the fact that  unless default settings had not been changed, the problem would not  arise.

He said the company was taking the issue very  seriously. He said from people’s feedback ‘we will look for ways to help our  customers better manage their scanning application needs’.

German researcher Mr Krisesl, who has spoken  to both Mr Tse and Xerox’s vice president Rick Dastin, is still concerned about  the consequences.

He told ABC News: ‘This problem is dangerous.  If something is compressed with JBIG2 and I claim it’s incorrect, you can’t  prove me wrong.’


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Hungary Warns of German EU Leadership

Hitler-Stalin Pact?

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told diplomats on Tuesday that closer ties between a Germany-led EU and Russia were enough to make people check to see if their “children are still in the yard” — an oblique yet unmistakeable reference to the Hitler-Stalin pact.

The latest remarks by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán are unlikely to improve his fractured relations with Germany or the EU. Speaking on Tuesday, he invoked the memory of World War II to warn against German leadership of the European Union.

“When a person reads about a rapprochement between Russia and an EU led by Germany, he looks out to see whether his children are still in the yard,” Orbán said on Tuesday in remarks to an annual meeting of Hungarian ambassadors, according to the German news agency DPA.

Orbán made the comment in answer to a question by one diplomat about relations between the EU and Russia.

Many people in Central and Eastern Europe are wary of any signs of closer ties between Moscow and Berlin because they remember the Hitler-Stalin non-aggression pact which carved up much of Eastern Europe into German and Soviet spheres of influence.

Orbán has drawn widespread international criticism for weakening Hungary’s democratic institutions through the introduction of a new constitution and a host of other controversial laws.

In May, Orbán had made a remark about Nazi tanks in the context of Germany’s policy towards Hungary, drawing an unusually sharp rebuke from German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.

cro — with wire reports

Related SPIEGEL ONLINE links:


© SPIEGEL ONLINE 2013 All Rights Reserved Reproduction only allowed with the permission of SPIEGELnet GmbH

Russian Agency Seeks Typewriters for Secret Documents

With the NSA spying scandal still making headlines, a Russian paper reports that agencies in that country have turned to typewriters to help keep their documents secret.

It sounds like a Luddite response to recent revelations from Edward Snowden — a low tech way to avoid America’s prying eyes. Are Russian intelligence agencies going back in time to ensure that their top secret documents stay out of the public eye in this new era of whistleblowing?

According to a report in the Russian newspaper Izvestia, the Federal Guard Service (FSO), which is responsible for the security of the Russian president and several high-ranking officials, is looking to buy 20 typewriters. They would be used to ensure that particularly sensitive documents existed only on paper and would not be electronically archived in ways that anyone with a security clearance could quickly make off with them.

This practice is reportedly not just common in the intelligence agencies, but also in the defense and civil defense ministries. Russian officials have long been somewhat wary of using modern technology to store secret data. The former head of the Russian Federal Security Service, Nikolai Kovalyov, told Izvestia that writing secret documents by hand is also common.

German Models

According to the newspaper, the German model Triumph-Adler Twen 180 is especially popular with Russian intelligence. The German company Olympia confirmed to the news agency DPA that it had made an offer to the Russian government for the 20 typewriters.

The typewriters, which should have Cyrillic and English letter keys, were requested on July 3, and must be delivered by August 30. The typewriters should also have handles to make them easier to transport. In addition to the 20 typewriters, the agency needs 800 ink cartridges for three different types of typewriters.

The Russian agency is willing to spend 200 euros per typewriter, or about 11,600 euros for the machines and ink.

A spokesman for the FSO told the news agency Itar-Tass that old secure telephone lines would also continue to be used for secret conversations between heads of government. The first such line was set up in June 1963, for conversations between the Soviet Union and the United States, he said.

— mbw, SPON, with wires.


© SPIEGEL ONLINE 2013 All Rights Reserved Reproduction only allowed with the permission of SPIEGELnet GmbH

NSA ‘In Bed Together with the Germans’

In an interview, Edward Snowden accuses the National Security Agency of partnering with Germany and other governments in its spying activities. New information also indicates close working ties between the German foreign intelligence agency and the American authority.

In an interview to be published in this week’s issue of SPIEGEL, American intelligence agency whistleblower Edward Snowden criticizes the methods and power of the National Security Agency. Snowden said the NSA people are “in bed together with the Germans.” He added that the NSA’s “Foreign Affairs Directorate” is responsible for partnerships with other countries. The partnerships are organized in a way that authorities in other countries can “insulate their political leaders from the backlash” in the event it becomes public “how grievously they’re violating global privacy.” Telecommunications companies partner with the NSA and people are “normally selected for targeting” based on their “Facebook or webmail content.”

The interview was conducted by American cryptography expert Jacob Appelbaum and documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras with the help of encrypted e-mails shortly before Snowden became known globally for his whistleblowing.

SPIEGEL reporting also indicates that cooperation between the NSA and Germany’s foreign intelligence service, the BND, is more intensive than previously known. NSA, for example, provides “analysis tools” for the BND’s signals monitoring of foreign data streams that travel through Germany. Among the BND’s focuses are the Middle East route through which data packets from crisis regions travel. In total, SPIEGEL reported that the BND pulls data from five different nodes that are then analyzed at the foreign intelligence service’s headquarters in Pullach near Munich. BND head Gerhard Schindler confirmed the partnership during a meeting with members of the German parliament’s control committee for intelligence issues.

The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, which is responsible for counter-espionage, is currently investigating whether the NSA has gained access to Internet traffic traveling through Germany. According to information provided by Hans-Georg Maassen, the president of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, an initial analysis failed to provide clarity on the issue. “So far, we have no information that Internet nodes in Germany have been spied on by the NSA,” Maassen told SPIEGEL.

At the same time, a new US Army base being built in Germany that is also to be used by the NSA has been approved by German authorities. Currently, a new Consolidated Intelligence center is being built in Wiesbaden. The bug-proof offices and a high-tech control center are being built for $124 million. As soon as the Wiesbaden facility is completed, a complex currently being used in Darmstadt wil be closed. The facilities are being built exclusively by American citizens who have security clearances. Even the material being used to construct the buildings originates from the United States and is guarded throughout the shipping process to Germany.


© SPIEGEL ONLINE 2013 All Rights Reserved Reproduction only allowed with the permission of SPIEGELnet GmbH

Germany’s top security official: stop using American websites if you fear US eavesdropping

German minister: drop Google if you fear US spying

Wednesday Jul 03, 2013   |   The Associated Press

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s top security official says Internet users worried about their data being intercepted by U.S. intelligence agencies should stop using American websites such as Google and Facebook.

Leaked revelations about the U.S. National Security Agency’s wholesale information on foreign web users has prompted outrage in Europe and calls for tighter international rules on data protection.

Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich told reporters in Berlin on Wednesday that “whoever fears their communication is being intercepted in any way should use services that don’t go through American servers.”

Friedrich says German officials are in touch with their U.S. counterparts “on all levels” and a delegation is scheduled to fly to Washington next week to discuss the claims that ordinary citizens and even European diplomats were being spied upon.

Key US-EU trade pact under threat after more NSA spying allegations

Reports in Der Spiegel that US agencies bugged European council building ‘reminiscent of cold war’, says German minister

in Brussels, in Berlin and,  Sunday 30 June 2013 08.39 EDT

The Justus Lipsius building in Brussels

The Justus Lipsius building in Brussels, home of the  EU council – and subject to a US survellance programme, according to documents seen by Der Spiegel. Photograph: Don McPhee for the Guardian

The prospects for a new trade pact between the US and the European Union worth hundreds of billions have suffered a severe setback following allegations that Washington bugged key EU offices and intercepted phonecalls and emails from top officials.

The latest reports of NSA snooping on Europe – and on Germany in particular – went well beyond previous revelations of electronic spying said to be focused on identifying suspected terrorists, extremists and organised criminals.

The German publication Der Spiegel reported that it had seen documents and slides from the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden indicating that US agencies bugged the offices of the EU in Washington and at the United Nations in New York. They are also accused of directing an operation from Nato headquarters in Brussels to infiltrate the telephone and email networks at the EU’s Justus Lipsius building in the Belgian capital, the venue for EU summits and home of the European council.

Without citing sources, the magazine reported that more than five years ago security officers at the EU had noticed several missed calls apparently targeting the remote maintenance system in the building that were traced to NSA offices within the Nato compound in Brussels.

The impact of the Der Spiegel allegations may be felt more keenly in Germany than in Brussels. The magazine said Germany was the foremost target for the US surveillance programmes, categorising Washington’s key European ally alongside China, Iraq or Saudi Arabia in the intensity of the electronic snooping.

Germany’s justice minister, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, called for an explanation from the US authorities. “If the media reports are true, it is reminiscent of the actions of enemies during the cold war,” she was quoted as saying in the German newspaper Bild. “It is beyond imagination that our friends in the US view Europeans as the enemy.”

France later also asked the US authorities for an explanation. France’s foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, said: “These acts, if confirmed, would be completely unacceptable.

“We expect the American authorities to answer the legitimate concerns raised by these press revelations as quickly as possible.”.

Washington and Brussels are scheduled to open ambitious free trade talks next week following years of arduous preparation. Senior officials in Brussels are worried that the talks would be overshadowed by the latest disclosures of US spying on its closest allies.

“Obviously we will need to see what is the impact on the trade talks,” said a senior official in Brussels. A second senior official said the allegations would cause a furore in the European parliament and could then hamper relations with the US.

Robert Madelin, one of Britain’s most senior officials in the European commission, tweeted that EU trade negotiators always operated on the assumption that their communications were listened to.

A spokesman for the European commission said: “We have immediately been in contact with the US authorities in Washington and in Brussels and have confronted them with the press reports. They have told us they are checking on the accuracy of the information released yesterday and will come back to us.”

There were calls from MEPs for Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European council – who has his office in the building allegedly targeted by the US – and José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European commission, to urgently appear before the chamber to explain what steps they were taking in response to the growing body of evidence of US and British electronic surveillance of Europe through the Prism and Tempora operations.

Guy Verhofstadt, the former Belgian prime minister and leader of the liberals in the European parliament, said: “This is absolutely unacceptable and must be stopped immediately. The American data collection mania has achieved another quality by spying on EU officials and their meetings. Our trust is at stake.”

Luxembourg’s foreign minister, Jean Asselborn, told Der Spiegel: “If these reports are true, it’s disgusting.” Asselborn called for guarantees from the very highest level of the US government that the snooping and spying is immediately halted.

Martin Schulz, the head of the European parliament, said: “I am deeply worried and shocked about the allegations of US authorities spying on EU offices. If the allegations prove to be true, it would be an extremely serious matter which will have a severe impact on EU-US relations.

“On behalf of the European parliament, I demand full clarification and require further information speedily from the US authorities with regard to these allegations.”

There were also calls for John Kerry, the US secretary of state, to make a detour to Brussels on his way from his current trip to the Middle East, to explain US activities.

“We need to get clarifications and transparency at the highest level,” said Marietje Schaake, a Dutch liberal MEP. “Kerry should come to Brussels on his way back from the Middle East. This is essential for the transatlantic alliance. The US can only lead by example, and should uphold the freedoms it claims to protect against attacks from the outside. Instead we see erosion of freedoms, checks and balances, from within.”

Within senior circles in Brussels, however, it has long been assumed that the Americans were listening to or seeking to monitor EU electronic traffic.

“There’s a certain schadenfreude here that we’re important enough to be spied on,” said one of the officials. “This was bound to come out one day. And I wouldn’t be surprised if some of our member states were not doing the same to the Americans.”

The documents suggesting the clandestine bugging operations were from September 2010, Der Spiegel said.

A former senior official in Brussels maintained that EU phone and computer systems were almost totally secure but that no system could be immune to persistent high-quality penetration operations.

“I have always assumed that anyone with a decent agency was listening, hacking if they could be bothered,” he said. “It doesn’t bother me much. Sometimes it’s a form of communication.”

Der Spiegel quoted the Snowden documents as revealing that the US taps half a billion phone calls, emails and text messages in Germany a month. “We can attack the signals of most foreign third-class partners, and we do it too,” Der Spiegel quoted a passage in the NSA document as saying.

On an average day, the NSA monitored about 20m German phone connections and 10m internet datasets, rising to 60m phone connections on busy days, the report said.

Officials in Brussels said this reflected Germany’s weight in the EU and probably also entailed elements of industrial and trade espionage. “The Americans are more interested in what governments think than the European commission. And they make take the view that Germany determines European policy,” said one of the senior officials.

Jan Philipp Albrecht, a German Green party MEP and a specialist in data protection, told the Guardian the revelations were outrageous. “It’s not about political answers now, but rule of law, fundamental constitutional principles and rights of European citizens,” he said.

“We now need a debate on surveillance measures as a whole looking at underlying technical agreements. I think what we can do as European politicians now is to protect the rights of citizens and their rights to control their own personal data.”

Talking about the NSA’s classification of Germany as a “third-class” partner, Albrecht said it was not helping to build the trust of Germans or other Europeans. “It is destroying trust and to rebuild that, [the US] will need to take real action on legislation,” he said.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that at least six European member states have shared personal communications data with the NSA, according to declassified US intelligence reports and EU parliamentary documents.

The documents, seen by the Observer, show that – in addition to the UK – Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy have all had formal agreements to provide communications data to the US. They state that the EU countries have had “second and third party status” under decades-old signal intelligence (Sigint) agreements that compel them to hand over data which, in later years, experts believe, has come to include mobile phone and internet data.

Under the international intelligence agreements, nations are categorised by the US according to their trust level. The US is defined as ‘first party’ while the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand enjoy ‘second party’ trusted relationships. Countries such as Germany and France have ‘third party’, or less trusted, relationships.

The data-sharing was set out under a 1955 UK-USA agreement that provided a legal framework for intelligence-sharing that has continued.

It stipulates: “In accordance with these arrangements, each party will continue to make available to the other, continuously, and without request, all raw traffic, COMINT (communications intelligence) end-product and technical material acquired or produced, and all pertinent information concerning its activities, priorities and facilities.”

The agreement goes on to explain how it can be extended to incorporate similar agreements with third party countries, providing both the UK and the US agree.

Under the third party data-sharing agreements each country was given a codename. Denmark was known as Dynamo while Germany was referred to as Richter. The agreements were of strategic importance to the NSA during the cold war.

However, Simon Davies, an intelligence expert and project director at the London School of Economics who writes the Privacy Surgeon blog, suggested the NSA’s role had been given a sharper focus following amendments to the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (Fisa).

In an interview published in full last night on Davies’ blog, former NSA director General Michael Hayden said: “The changes made to Fisa in 2008 were far more dramatic – far more far-reaching than anything President Bush authorised me to do.”

Davies told the Observer that confirmation of the secret agreements showed there was a need for the EU to investigate.

“It’s clear that the European parliament must intervene at this point through a public inquiry,” Davies said. “MEPs should put the interests of their citizens above party politics and create meaningful reforms.”

The covert data-sharing relationship between leading European countries and the US was first outlined in a 2001 report by the European parliament.

The report stated: “Germany and the United Kingdom are called upon to make the authorisation of further communications interception operations by US intelligence services on their territory conditional on their compliance with the ECHR (European Convention on Human Rights).”

Atlas of Prejudices

Each person has a different way of looking at the world, but these views are...

Each person has a different way of looking at the world, but these views are often bundled in the form of prejudices. In his new book, “Atlas of Prejudice,” recently published in Germany, Bulgarian designer Yanko Tsvetskov, 38, has created satirical maps based on national and historical clichés. In Germany, the book has been published by Knesebeck Verlag. An English edition is expected soon. In Germany, apparently, when people think of Sweden, it is IKEA that comes to mind.

According to Tsvetskov's satirical map, when Spaniards think of Germany, it's a...

According to Tsvetskov’s satirical map, when Spaniards think of Germany, it’s a caricature of “Cruella De Merkel” that comes to mind

And when Poles think of neighboring Germany, they think of a "Western Bully"....

And when Poles think of neighboring Germany, they think of a “Western Bully”. It’s perhaps not surprising given that Germany long tried to keep its labor market closed to its Eastern European neighbor.

Yanko Tsvetskov /

Paper: NSA gets data from UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, France


Sunday, 30 June 2013

The NSA has been working with at least seven European other countries to collect personal communications data, according to Wayne Madsen, a former NSA contractor who has come forward because he does not think the public should not be “kept in the dark.” According to Madsen, Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain and Italy all have formed secret agreements with the US to submit sensitive data.

The Guardian reports:

Under international intelligence agreements, confirmed by declassified documents, nations are categorised by the US according to their trust level. The US is first party while the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand enjoy second party relationships. Germany and France have third party relationships.

In an interview published last night on the blog, Madsen, who has been attacked for holding controversial views on espionage issues, said he had decided to speak out after becoming concerned about the “half story” told by EU politicians regarding the extent of the NSA’s activities in Europe.

He said that under the agreements, which were drawn up after the second world war, the “NSA gets the lion’s share” of the sigint “take”. In return, the third parties to the NSA agreements received “highly sanitised intelligence”.

The news could be potentially damaging to countries, particularly Germany, whose chancellor Angela Merkel has vocally condemned the NSA program that recently came to light by whistleblower Edward Snowden.


Hollywood helped Adolf Hitler, academic claims

Historian Ben Urwand says he has cache of documents that prove Tinseltown enthusiastically cooperated with Nazis’ global propaganda effort

Jonathan Paige

Friday, 28 June 2013

Hollywood is not widely thought of as providing much support to Hitler’s regime, instead producing a wealth of anti-Nazi films during the Second World War, ranging from Casablanca to The Great Dictator.

But now a young historian says that in the years before the war, Tinseltown was marching to a very different tune. Ben Urwand, 35 has written a book, The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact With Hitler, in which he cites documents that prove, he says, US studios acquiesced to Nazi censorship of their films actively cooperated with the regime’s world propaganda effort.

“Hollywood is not just collaborating with Nazi Germany,” Urwand told the New York Times. “It’s also collaborating with Adolf Hitler, the person and human being.”

Urwand, reportedly a folk musician from Australia who has become a member of the Society of Fellows at Harvard, said his interest was first aroused as a student in California when he read an interview with the screenwriter Budd Schulberg referring to meetings between the MGM boss Louis Mayer and a representative of the Nazi regime to discuss cuts to his studio’s films.

The book describes many Jewish studio bosses not only censoring films to suit the regime, but also producing material that could be inserted into German propaganda films and even financing German weapons manufacturing. The collaboration of Hollywood with the regime began in 1930, says Urwand, when Carl Laemmle Jr of Universal Studios agreed major cuts to the First World War film All Quiet On The Western Front after riots in Germany instigated by the Nazi party.

“I would say there were a few shocking moments, probably starting with the document I discovered in the National Archives in Washington which explained how MGM was insulating its profits,” Urwand told the Times of London.

“There was a law in Germany that foreign businesses couldn’t export currency. They made an exception for MGM because they were financing the production of German armaments.”

After Hitler came to power, the book details regular studio visits by representatives of the regime, including Georg Gyssling, the special consul assigned to monitor Hollywood, who watched films and dictated scene-by-scene requests for cuts. In June 1939 MGM gave 10 Nazi newspaper editors a tour of its studio in Los Angeles, and during the 1930s hardly any Jewish characters appeared in Hollywood films.

Despite some raised eyebrows from other academics over the book’s title, Urwand is unequivocal about it:

“Collaboration is what the studios were doing, and how they describe it.”

EU bank bail-out talks – EU suggest stealing from the peoples Savings accounts of all 27 EU states.

EU bank bail-out talks deadlocked over saver protection

The European Union has failed to agree rules on who should pay in the event of a global banking collapse after eurozone countries clashed with those outside the single currency over how flexible the system should be.

Cypriots protest against the ratification of a tax on bank deposits in Nicosia on March 18

Germany wants to ensure the tax on savings that formed part of the Cyprus rescue in March is repeated in al future bail-outs Photo: EPA

11:18AM BST 22 Jun 2013

Talks in Luxembourg aimed at ensuring shareholders and bondholders bear the brunt of bank failures rather than taxpayers, failed in the early hours of yesterday morning after almost 20 hours of negotiations. They were described as “chaotic”.

The talks were split over how savers should be treated, with Germany and other eurozone countries insisting on rigid rules that would impose losses on those with more than €100,000 (£85,000) in their account. France and Britain, together with other non-eurozone EU members, want more flexibility to tailor action on failing banks to protect savers.

European finance ministers will reconvene on Wednesday in an attempt to break the deadlock.

“I think we can reach a deal if we take a few more days,” said Michel Barnier, the European commissioner in charge of banking regulation.

“We are not far off now from a political agreement.”

But Michael Noonan, the Irish finance minister who chaired the talks, said there were “still real issues, core issues outstanding”.

“It is principally an issue of the non-euro and the euro,” he said, adding that the gulf between negotiators was so wide there had been no point in continuing. One official at the meeting described it as “chaotic”.

Both sides of the debate are aiming to avoid a repeat of the bank bail-outs that cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of pounds between 2008 and 2011. Agreement is seen as vital to stabilising the European financial system amid continuing recession and political instability in southern Europe.

Earlier at the talks, eurozone financial ministers had agreed rules for how a €500bn central bail-out fund should operate. Non-eurozone countries will not be part of that system and when they joined the negotiations on Friday argued they should not be bound by rigid rules on who pays when banks fail.

Britain, France, Denmark and Sweden insist there should be more leeway to take account of differences in national regulatory regimes. Sweden’s finance minister, Anders Borg, called a one-size-fits-all approach “very dangerous”.

The German-led group sought to use the tax imposed on savers in Cyprus – part of the rescue of the island’s banks in March – as a template for all future bank failures across the 27 EU states.

German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said the new rules should not vary because that could put some banks based in smaller, poorer countries at a competitive disadvantage. Wealthier countries could continue to prop up their banks with public funds, he argued.

Spain’s economic minister, Luis de Guindos, said agreement was vital. “What’s fundamental is there is agreement over the bail-in hierarchy and the protection of small depositors,” he said.

Mr Barnier sought to encourage a compromise. “We need a clear hierarchy for the bail-in while allowing flexibility for national resolution authorities – but it should be constrained,” he said.

Britain was represented at the meeting by Conservative Treasury minister Greg Clark. A spokesman said he remained hopeful of an agreement by Wednesday.

Is there an invisible tug-of-war behind bad hearts and power outages? ( chimera state )


Posted June 17, 2013; 10:30 a.m.

by Morgan Kelly, Office of Communications


Systems such as a beating heart or a power grid that depend on the synchronized movement of their parts could fall prey to an invisible and chaotic tug-of-war known as a “chimera.” Sharing its name with the fire-breathing, zoologically patchy creature of Greek mythology, a chimera state arises among identical, rhythmically moving components — known as oscillators — when a few of those parts spontaneously fall out of sync while the rest remain synchronized.

Whether chimera states exist in the real world has remained an imminent question since their discovery in theoretical studies 10 years ago. Now, researchers from Princeton University and Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization (MPIDS) report the first purely physical experimental evidence that chimera states can occur naturally and under a broad range of circumstances.

They report in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that a surprisingly simple experiment demonstrated that chimera states naturally lay at the crossroads of two types of synchronized motion — in-phase and antiphase. Imagine two groups of pendulums that swing in the same direction at the same time — that’s in-phase. Under antiphase, the pendulums move at the same pace, but one group goes left as the other goes right.

Furthermore, the researchers found through mathematical models that the phenomenon can strike any process that relies on self-emergent synchronization, or the natural tendency of components to fall into the same rhythm. A range of things that swing, blink or pulsate share this quality, including clock pendulums, lightning bugs and heart cells.

Researchers from Princeton University and Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization report the first purely physical experimental evidence that chimera states can occur naturally within any process that relies on spontaneous synchronization, including clock pendulums, lightning bugs and heart valves. A chimera state arises among identical, rhythmically moving components when a few of those parts spontaneously fall out of sync while the rest remain synchronized. The researchers developed a simple apparatus made of two swings, each fitted with 15 metronomes (above). A spring connected the swings so that they moved together. When the swings were set in motion, the metronomes would eventually move together. Yet if the connecting spring was at a certain tensity, the symmetry spontaneously broke so that the metronomes on one swing stayed in lockstep (left) while the metronomes on the other swing moved erratically (right) despite the metronomes all being set to move at the same pace.
Shashi Thutupalli, co-corresponding author on the paper and a postdoctoral research fellow in Princeton’s Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics, explained that chimera states have recently been the topic of a lot of study and numerous computer models explore them. Nonetheless, there was a lack of experimental investigations into how they occur, and whether chimera states need specific conditions in order to crop up, Thutupalli said.

“We hope this will prompt scientists to look for chimeras where they haven’t before,” Thutupalli said. “Our experiment captures elements such as friction and inertia, the direct analogs of which occur in a wide range of natural systems. There may be many processes that are chimera-like. We just don’t recognize them and so don’t know how to control them.”

Daniel Abrams, a Northwestern University assistant professor of engineering sciences and applied mathematics, said that these findings are significant for researchers exploring the applications and natural occurrences of chimera states. Abrams, who is one of the first researchers to identify chimera states in theory, is familiar with the Princeton-MPIDS research but had no role in it.

Possible systems susceptible to a chimera state include electric-power grids, which rely on synchronized generators to avoid breaks in power transmission, Abrams said. Also, certain patterns of intense heart-tissue contraction — known as “spiral waves” — in certain types of heart attacks have been observed in simulations of chimera states. Forms of chimera state may also be connected to large-scale synchronization patterns of neurons that have been observed during seizures, Abrams said.

“A better understanding of the behavior of coupled oscillators could be useful for understanding a variety of biological activity,” Abrams said.

Yet, two obstacles have long hindered the physical observation of a chimera state, Abrams said. On one hand, before the state’s theoretical discovery, scientists didn’t think that a hybrid of synchrony and asynchrony could exist — chimera states were dismissed as an anomaly, Abrams said. Secondly, it was not clear until this latest work that they could exist in a simple system.

“The big point of the paper — that chimera states can occur in simple systems that have not been explicitly designed to find them — is an important one,” Abrams said. “Before this work, the only experimental examples of chimera states were in fairly complicated systems with computers in the loop. Here the authors have constructed an extremely simple mechanical system that shows a chimera state.”

The Princeton-MPIDS researchers developed an apparatus made of two swings, each fitted with 15 metronomes. A spring connected the swings so that they moved together. The research was largely conducted at MPIDS, and included first and co-corresponding author Erik Martens, now a postdoctoral researcher at the Technical University of Denmark; Antoine Fourrière, a postdoctoral researcher at Max Planck; and Oskar Hallatschek, now an assistant professor of physics at the University of California-Berkeley.

The device was inspired by the work of Dutch physicist Christiaan Huygens, who in 1665 observed that the pendulums of two clocks suspended on a beam would automatically synchronize their motion, Martens said. “We drew inspiration from this classic experiment, but we took it quite a few steps further,” he said. “This allowed us to find a system based merely on swings, springs and gears that displayed these mysterious chimera states.”

Similarly, as the swings on the researchers’ apparatus were set in motion, the metronomes would start moving willy-nilly then eventually move together. If the spring connecting the swings was taut the metronomes on both swings moved with in-phase synchrony, i.e., left and right in unison. If the spring was loose, antiphase movement developed so that metronomes on one swing moved left as the others moved right, yet always in time.

A chimera state arose when the spring’s tensity was in between. The symmetry spontaneously broke so that the metronomes on one swing stayed in lockstep with one another while the metronomes on the other swing moved erratically. The researchers used mechanics equations to develop a mathematical model and simulate various scenarios under which a chimera state arose.

The paper, “Chimera states in mechanical oscillator networks,” was published online June 12 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The work was partially supported by a grant from the Human Frontier Science Program.

Chinese supercomputer world’s fastest – Processor designed by U.S. firm Intel

Technology Jun. 18, 2013 – 07:00AM JST ( 12 )


A Chinese supercomputer is the fastest in the world, according to survey results announced Monday, comfortably overtaking a U.S. machine which now ranks second.

Tianhe-2, a supercomputer developed by China’s National University of Defense Technology, achieved processing speeds of 33.86 petaflops (1,000 trillion calculations) per second on a benchmarking test, earning it the number one spot in the Top 500 survey of supercomputers.

The tests show the machine is by far the fastest computer ever constructed. Its main rival, the U.S.-designed Titan, had achieved a performance of 17.59 petaflops per second, the survey’s website said.

Five of the world’s 10 fastest computers are installed in the U.S., the survey said, with the two in China, two in Germany and one in Japan.

The recognition of Tianhe-2, meaning Milky Way-2, as the world’s fastest computer marks the return of the title to China after the machine’s predecessor, the Tianhe-1 was ranked the world’s fastest in November 2010, only to be overtaken by a machine from the U.S.

Unlike some of its Chinese predecessors, most of the Tianhe-2’s parts are developed in China, except for its main processors, which are designed by U.S. firm Intel.

“Most of the features of the system were developed in China…the interconnect, operating system, front-end processors and software are mainly Chinese,” the list’s website quoted editor Jack Dongarra as saying.

But the U.S. still dominates the overall supercomputer rankings, with 252 systems making the top 500. The number of European machines, at 112 systems remains lower than the number of Asian machines, at 119, the list’s website said.

The supercomputers on the Top 500 list, which is produced twice a year, are rated based on speed of performance in a benchmark test by experts from Germany and the United States.

Added benefit of dapagliflozin is not proven

Manufacturer’s dossier did not contain suitable data for any therapeutic indication

Dapagliflozin (trade name: Forxiga) has been approved in Germany since November 2012 for the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus. In an early benefit assessment pursuant to the Act on the Reform of the Market for Medicinal Products (AMNOG) the German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG) examined whether this new drug offers an added benefit over the current standard therapy. No such added benefit can be derived from the dossier, however, because the drug manufacturer did not present any relevant data for any of the possible therapeutic indications of dapagliflozin.

Monotherapy or combination therapy possible

Dapagliflozin is approved both as monotherapy and in combination with other blood-glucose lowering drugs, including insulin. As monotherapy it is an option for patients who do not tolerate metformin. Dapagliflozin can also be used as combination therapy, either together with metformin or with sulfonylureas if either of these two drugs alone is insufficient to control blood sugar. Dapagliflozin can also be combined with insulin if the target blood sugar levels cannot be achieved with insulin alone. Other combinations with oral antidiabetics are possible, but these were not presented by the manufacturer in its dossier.

G-BA specified appropriate comparator therapy

The Federal Joint Committee (G-BA) specified a sulfonylurea (glibenclamide or glimepiride) as appropriate comparator therapy for the dapagliflozin monotherapy. The combination therapy of dapagliflozin and metformin was also to be compared with one of these two drugs (each supplemented with metformin). The combination of dapagliflozin with a sulfonylurea was to be tested against metformin in combination with one of the sulfonylureas glibenclamide or glimepiride. According to the G-BA‘s specifications, the combination of dapagliflozin and insulin was to be compared either with human insulin and metformin, or, if metformin was unsuitable, with human insulin alone.

Monotherapy: patients did not receive approval-compliant treatment

The manufacturer did not submit any direct comparative study between dapagliflozin and one of the sulfonylureas. Instead, it conducted an adjusted indirect comparison based on several studies. In principle, such indirect comparisons can be suitable to prove an added benefit. But the patients in the studies used by the manufacturer were not treated according to the approval status of dapagliflozin as monotherapy because the vast majority were not intolerant to metformin.

Combination with metformin: manufacturer compared with glipizide

Regarding the combination therapy with metformin, the pharmaceutical company did not submit any study that compared dapagliflozin with glibenclamide or glimepiride as the G-BA had specified. Instead, it cited a study that compared dapagliflozin plus metformin with glipizide plus metformin. However, this sulfonylurea has no longer been approved in Germany since 2007. In addition, the manufacturer did not provide sufficient proof in its dossier that glipizide is equivalent to the other two sulfonylureas.

Combination with sulfonylureas: studies were unsuitable

As to the combination therapy with sulfonylureas, the company did not draw on a direct comparative study, but on an adjusted indirect comparison. However, the studies it used were unsuitable: in one case, the glibenclamide dose exceeded the maximum dose approved in Germany, in another case, the drug glipizide, which is not approved in Germany, was used.

Combination with insulin: therapy could not be optimized for the individual patient

Regarding the indication dapagliflozin combined with insulin, the manufacturer used three studies. However, the results of these studies cannot be used for the assessment of the added benefit. The main reason for this is that the insulin therapy could not be tailored sufficiently to the individual patient: even though their current insulin therapy was insufficient, patients were neither supposed to change the insulin nor to adapt the dose. But to be able to draw conclusions about the added benefit, the combination with dapagliflozin would have to be compared with other strategies for optimizing treatment, for example optimizing insulin use.

Not tailoring treatment to the individual patient does not meet the current standard of diabetological practice anyway. In fact, insulin therapy is optimized for the individual patient so that hyperglycaemia and hypoglycaemia do not occur in the first place. So in the studies insulin was not used in a way that would be necessary and appropriate in this indication.

Hence the dossier did not contain study results for any of the four therapeutic indications that would be suitable to prove an added benefit.

G-BA decides on the extent of added benefit

The dossier assessment is part of the overall procedure for early benefit assessments supervised by the G-BA. After publication of the manufacturer’s dossier and IQWiG‘s assessment, the G-BA conducts a commenting procedure, which may provide further information and result in a change to the benefit assessment. The G-BA then decides on the extent of the added benefit, thus completing the early benefit assessment.

An overview of the results of IQWiG‘s benefit assessment is given by a German-language executive summary. In addition, the website, published by IQWiG, provides easily understandable and brief German-language information on dapagliflozin.

The G-BA website contains both general English-language information on benefit assessments pursuant to §35a Social Code Book V and specific German-language information on the assessment of dapagliflozin.

Aflibercept in AMD: no proof of added benefit

Manufacturer’s dossier did not contain any usable data for the comparison with ranibizumab

The drug aflibercept (trade name: Eylea) has been approved in Germany since November 2012 for the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). In an early benefit assessment pursuant to the Act on the Reform of the Market for Medicinal Products (AMNOG) the German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG) examined whether this new drug offers an added benefit over the current standard therapy. Such an added benefit cannot be derived from the dossier, however, as the manufacturer did not submit any suitable data for this comparison.

Patients in control group did not receive approval-compliant treatment

The Federal Joint Committee (G-BA) specified the drug ranibizumab as appropriate comparator therapy. In its dossier the pharmaceutical company cited two approval studies of aflibercept that directly compared aflibercept with ranibizumab. But in these studies, ranibizumab was not used according to its approval status. For instance, the continuation or discontinuation of treatment was not made dependent on whether the patients had achieved stable visual acuity or not. Although the manufacturer cited other documents in its dossier, these cannot be used for the benefit assessment, as they do not allow any reliable conclusions to be drawn on the comparison of aflibercept and ranibizumab. Overall, no added benefit of aflibercept can be derived from the data presented in the dossier.

G-BA decides on the extent of added benefit

The dossier assessment is part of the overall procedure for early benefit assessments supervised by the G-BA. After publication of the manufacturer’s dossier and IQWiG‘s assessment, the G-BA conducts a commenting procedure, which may provide further information and result in a change to the benefit assessment. The G-BA then decides on the extent of the added benefit, thus completing the early benefit assessment.

An overview of the results of IQWiG‘s benefit assessment is given by a German-language executive summary. In addition, the website, published by IQWiG, provides easily understandable and brief German-language information on aflibercept.

The G-BA website contains both general English-language information on benefit assessment pursuant to §35a Social Code Book V and specific German-language information on the assessment of aflibercept.

More English-language information will be available soon (Sections 2.1 to 2.6 of the dossier assessment as well as subsequently published health information on If you would like to be informed when these documents are available, please send an e-mail to

Germany: Microsoft’s Xbox is twisted nightmare for spying


Monday, 03 June 2013

When Microsoft launched its new Xbox One console last week, rave reviews calling it “awesome” and “stunning” were quickly forgotten when gamers began complaining about how the device doesn’t work with their old favorites (among other things). Now Microsoft has a new Xbox-related headache courtesy of Germany’s privacy chief, who is alarmed by its potential intrusive surveillance capabilities.

The complaint stems from the latest version of the motion-sensing Kinect technology. The Kinect device designed for the Xbox One can monitor users’ movements with a camera that sees in the dark, picks up voice commands with a microphone, and reads your heart rate using infrared cameras that track blood flow underneath the skin.

Because the device is connected to the Internet, malicious hackers could potentially hijack the console and use it for spying. In addition, Microsoft has filed a patent that suggests it is interested in using Kinect to count the number of people in a room in order to charge each person for providing pay-per-user content. The patent outlines how a camera could be used with face and gesture recognition as part of a Kinect-style system to enforce “age and identity restrictions” on certain kinds of content, effectively granting copyright holders virtual access to private dwellings, as Wired described it.

Microsoft has attempted to play down the privacy fears, claiming that it is “a leader in the world of privacy” and adding that it is not “using Kinect to snoop on anybody at all.” But this has not convinced officials in Germany. In an interview published Sunday by Der Spiegel, the country’s federal data protection commissioner, Peter Schaar, said he was unsettled by how the Xbox One “records all sorts of personal information” that would be “processed on an external server” and possibly passed on to third parties. “The fact that Microsoft is now spying on my living room is just a twisted nightmare,” Schaar told the newspaper.

Some reports have claimed that the microphone and the camera for the Kinect device would be “always on” and “constantly listening and watching.” Microsoft told gaming website Kotaku that this isn’t the case and that “you can turn the system completely off.” The company also says that the new Kinect will have “simple, easy methods to customize privacy settings, provide clear notifications and meaningful privacy choices for how data will be used, stored and shared.”

But you can bet that it will take more than these vague assurances to satisfy Germany’s aggressively privacy-protective officials. And if Microsoft fails to substantively address the privacy concerns, it could well find itself facing legal action in Germany—as Facebook has discovered on more than one occasion.

How JFK secretly ADMIRED Hitler: Explosive book reveals former President’s praise for the Nazis as he travelled through Germany before Second World War

EEV Note: We need second confirmation on these claims






  • A new book  reveals President Kennedy was a secret admirer of the Nazis
  • Embarrassingly close to visit being paid to Berlin  next month by Obama
  • Comes one  week before 50th anniversary commemorations of JFK’s memorable ‘Ich bin ein  Berliner’ speech pledging US solidarity with Europe

By  Allan Hall

PUBLISHED: 06:39 EST, 23 May  2013 |  UPDATED: 10:24  EST, 23 May 2013

A new book out in Germany reveals how  President Kennedy was a secret admirer of the Nazis.

The news comes embarrassingly close to a  visit being paid to Berlin next month by President Obama – one week before 50th  anniversary commemorations of JFK’s memorable ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ speech  pledging US solidarity with Europe during the Cold War.

President Kennedy’s travelogues and  letters  chronicling his wanderings through Germany before WWII, when  Adolf Hitler was  in power, have been unearthed and show him generally in  favour of the movement  that was to plunge the world into the greatest  war in history

President kennedyUNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1920: Adolf Hitler (1889-1945), German statesman. (Photo by Roger Viollet/Getty Images)

Secret: A new book out in Germany reveals how President  Kennedy was a secret admirer of the Nazis

‘Fascism?’ wrote the youthful president-to-be  in one. ‘The right thing for Germany.’

In another; ‘What are the evils of fascism  compared to communism?’

And on August 21, 1937 – two years before the  war that would claim 50 million lives broke out – he wrote: ‘The Germans really  are too good – therefore people have ganged up on them to protect themselves.’

And in a line which seems directly plugged  into the racial superiority line plugged by the Third Reich he wrote after  travelling through the Rhineland: ‘The Nordic races certainly seem to be  superior to the Romans.’

The future president’s praise is now  embarrassing in hindsight – a few years later he fought in War  War Two against  the Nazis and his elder brother Lt.  Joseph Patrick ‘Joe’ Kennedy, Jr was killed.

Revealing: Presidential diaries and photographs are among more than 500 items from a collection John F. Kennedy documents and artifactsRevealing: Presidential diaries and photographs are  among more than 500 items from a collection of John F. Kennedy documents and  artifacts
John F. Kennedy juggles on a street in Amsterdam during a trip to Europe,1937 --- John F. Kennedy recovers from jaundice in a London hospital in 1937. --- Image by CORBIS

Tour: Kennedy recovers, right, from jaundice in a London  hospital in 1937 and left juggles on a street in Amsterdam during a trip to  Europe

Trip: Kennedy and one of his sisters ride camels in Egypt in 1939Trip: Kennedy and one of his sisters ride camels in  Egypt in 1939


Framed together are the Navy Marine Corps Medal and the Purple Hearttial

As a young man, the future president had  desperately wanted to go into the Navy but was originally rejected – mainly due  to a back injury he sustained playing football while attending  Harvard.

In 1941, though, his politically connected  father Joe P Kennedy used his influence to get him in to the service and he  joined the Navy.

In 1942, Kennedy volunteered for PT  (motorized torpedo) boat duty in the Pacific.

On 12 June 1944 he received the Navy’s  highest honor for gallantry for his heroic actions as a gunboat pilot during  World War II.

The Navy Marine Corps Medal and the Purple  Heart were presented to Lt. Kennedy for his heroics and injuries sustained in  the rescue of the crew of PT 109 during on August 2, 1943 when the motor torpedo  boat was struck by a Japanese destroyer.

His back was hurt during duty and Kennedy was  released from all active duty and finally retired from the U.S. Naval Reserve on  physical disability in March 1945.

‘I can  imagine  no more rewarding a career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he  did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond  with a good deal of pride  and satisfaction: I served in the United  States Navy.’

John F Kennedy


Other musings concern how great the autobahns  were – ‘the best roads in the world’ – and how, having visited Hitler’s Bavarian  holiday home in Berchtesgaden and the tea house built on top of the mountain for  him.

He declared; ‘Who has visited these two  places can easily imagine how Hitler will emerge from the hatred currently  surrounding him to emerge in a few years as one of the most important  personalities that ever lived.’

Kennedy’s admiration for Nazi Germany is  revealed in a book entitled ‘John F. Kennedy – Among the Germans. Travel diaries  and letters 1937-1945.’

When World War II did arrive, the future  president’s father, Joe P Kennedy, strongly opposed going into battle with  Germany and made several missteps that severely damaged his political career.

He adopted a defeatist,  anti-war stance and tried to arrange a  meeting with Adolf Hitler without the approval of the Department of  State.

The reasons for this are unclear – some  speculate he was eager to do anything to avoid war because he feared that  American capitalism – which he profited from – would not survive the country’s  entry into the conflict.

In his role as US ambassador to Britain he  also opposed providing the UK with military and economic aid.

He said in an interview ‘Democracy is  finished in England. It may be here [in the US].

During the World War II, JFK’s older brother  Joe volunteered for a secret mission testing an experimental drone plane packed  with explosives – a weapon the Allies hoped to use as a guided missile.

On the first test flight, the explosives  detonated prematurely and the plane exploded – his body was never  found.

Studies: The future American president sits at a typewriter, holding open his published thesis, 'Why England Slept'Studies: The future American president sits at a  typewriter, holding open his published thesis, ‘Why England Slept’
John F. Kennedy and his father, Joseph P. Kennedy, US Ambassador to Great Britain, board an Air France plane at Croydon AirportJohn F. Kennedy and his father, Joseph P. Kennedy, US Ambassador to Great Britain, board an Air France plane at Croydon Airport

March 1939, London, John F. Kennedy and his father,  Joseph P. Kennedy, US Ambassador to Great Britain, board an Air France plane at  Croydon Airport. He accompanied his father to Rome, where he will be  representing President Roosevelt at the coronation of Pope Pius XII

Pals: Kennedy and Lem Billings, right, who was a classmate from the Choate School and Princeton University, outside a drugstore in the mid 1930sPals: Kennedy and Lem Billings, right, who was a  classmate from the Choate School and Princeton University, outside a drugstore  in the mid 1930s
ca. 1932 --- John F. Kennedy, Travel companion: Kennedy, Dunker the dog, and Lem  Billings at the Hague, during their Europe trip

The youthful president carved his own place  in history when he stood  outside the West Berlin town hall of Schoeneberg on  June 26 1963 to  declare US solidarity with the city and the continent with the  immortal  words; ‘Ich bin ein Berliner.’

The fact that, strictly speaking, he was  referring to himself as a doughnut – a Berliner – did not diminish the wild  enthusiasm for him.

But his praise of Hitler in a country still  struggling to come to terms  with his legacy may prove awkward for Obama who  will visit Berlin for  wide-ranging talks with Chancellor Merkel on June 18 and  19.

President kennedyUS President John F. Kennedy at the Schoeneberg Town  Hall during his visit to Germany. The youthful president carved his own place in  history when he stood outside the West Berlin town hall on June 26 1963 to  declare US solidarity with the city and the continent with the immortal words;  ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’
Infamous: One of President Kennedy's speech cards carrying his famous remark 'Ich bin ein Berline', which he delivered in a speech that electrified an adoring crowd in BerlinInfamous: One of President Kennedy’s speech cards  carrying his famous remark ‘Ich bin ein Berline’, which he delivered in a speech  that electrified an adoring crowd in BerlinFans: Thousands of citizens lined the main street in West Berlin as the president arrived flanked by police and bodyguards

Fans: Thousands of citizens lined the main street in  West Berlin as the president arrived flanked by police and bodyguards

Farewell: President John F. Kennedy waves goodbye as he leaves Berlin for Ireland

Farewell: President John F. Kennedy waves goodbye as he  leaves Berlin for Ireland

But his praise was not entirely without  caveats.

‘It is evident that the Germans were scary  for him,’ said Spiegel magazine in Berlin.

In the diaries of the  three trips he made  to prewar Germany he also recognised; ‘Hitler seems  to be as popular here as  Mussolini in Germany, although propaganda is  probably his most powerful  weapon.’

Observers say his writings ranged between  aversion and attraction for Germany.

The book also contains his impressions when  walking through a shattered  Berlin after the war: ‘An overwhelming stench of  bodies – sweet and  nauseating’.

And of the recently deceased Fuehrer he said;  ‘His boundless ambition for his  country made him a threat to peace in the  world, but he had something  mysterious about him. He was the stuff of legends.’

The book editor’s believe that he was ‘eerily  fascinated’ by fascism.

 US President Barack ObamaLeading lady: German chancellor Angela Merkel has been named the most powerful woman in the world by business magazine Forbes for the third year running

Bad timing: The news comes embarrassingly close to a  visit being paid to Berlin next month by President Obama – one week before 50th  anniversary commemorations of JFK’s memorable ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ speech  pledging US solidarity with Europe during the Cold War

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Markets erode moral values

Contact: Dr. Armin Falk 49-228-739-240 University of Bonn

Researchers from the Universities of Bamberg and Bonn present causal evidence on how markets affect moral values

Many people express objections against child labor, exploitation of the workforce or meat production involving cruelty against animals. At the same time, however, people ignore their own moral standards when acting as market participants, searching for the cheapest electronics, fashion or food. Thus, markets reduce moral concerns. This is the main result of an experiment conducted by economists from the Universities of Bonn and Bamberg. The results are presented in the latest issue of the renowned journal “Science“.

Prof. Dr. Armin Falk from the University of Bonn and Prof. Dr. Nora Szech from the University of Bamberg, both economists, have shown in an experiment that markets erode moral concerns. In comparison to non-market decisions, moral standards are significantly lower if people participate in markets.

In markets, people ignore their individual moral standards

“Our results show that market participants violate their own moral standards,” says Prof. Falk. In a number of different experiments, several hundred subjects were confronted with the moral decision between receiving a monetary amount and killing a mouse versus saving the life of a mouse and foregoing the monetary amount. “It is important to understand what role markets and other institutions play in moral decision making. This is a question economists have to deal with,” says Prof. Szech.

“To study immoral outcomes, we studied whether people are willing to harm a third party in exchange to receiving money. Harming others in an intentional and unjustified way is typically considered unethical,” says Prof. Falk. The animals involved in the study were so-called “surplus mice”, raised in laboratories outside Germany. These mice are no longer needed for research purposes. Without the experiment, they would have all been killed. As a consequence of the study many hundreds of young mice that would otherwise all have died were saved. If a subject decided to save a mouse, the experimenters bought the animal. The saved mice are perfectly healthy and live under best possible lab conditions and medical care.

Simple bilateral markets affect moral decisions

A subgroup of subjects decided between life and money in a non-market decision context (individual condition). This condition allows for eliciting moral standards held by individuals. The condition was compared to two market conditions in which either only one buyer and one seller (bilateral market) or a larger number of buyers and sellers (multilateral market) could trade with each other. If a market offer was accepted a trade was completed, resulting in the death of a mouse. Compared to the individual condition, a significantly higher number of subjects were willing to accept the killing of a mouse in both market conditions. This is the main result of the study. Thus markets result in an erosion of moral values. “In markets, people face several mechanisms that may lower their feelings of guilt and responsibility,” explains Nora Szech. In market situations, people focus on competition and profits rather than on moral concerns. Guilt can be shared with other traders. In addition, people see that others violate moral norms as well.

“If I don’t buy or sell, someone else will.”

In addition, in markets with many buyers and sellers, subjects may justify their behavior by stressing that their impact on outcomes is negligible. “This logic is a general characteristic of markets,” says Prof. Falk. Excuses or justifications appeal to the saying, “If I don’t buy or sell now, someone else will.” For morally neutral goods, however, such effects are of minor importance. Nora Szech explains: “For goods without moral relevance, differences in decisions between the individual and the market conditions are small. The reason is simply that in such cases the need to share guilt or excuse behavior is absent.”


Publication: Morals and Markets, Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.1231566


Prof. Dr. Armin Falk University of Bonn Institute for Applied Microeconomics Ph.: +49 228 739 240 Email:

Prof. Dr. Nora Szech University of Bamberg Department of Economics Ph.: +49 951 863-2637 Email: