Thursday, February 28, 2008

Right to Privacy of Electronic Data in Germany Ensured

Das Bundesverfassungsgericht, Germany's supreme court on the constitutionality of laws in the country, yesterday struck down a state law allowing government agencies to use "trojans" to spy on private computers via internet without court order or establishment of due cause in a dire situation.
This is being hailed as the establishment of a new civil right to bring the right to privacy and freedom of expression and research into the 21st Century and the Internet Age.
The link above is to the court's own press release, where there is also a link to the full text of the decision. Here, an excerpt from the press release:

§ 5 Abs. 2 Nr. 11 Satz 1 Alt. 2 VSG, der den heimlichen Zugriff auf informationstechnische Systeme regelt ("Online-Durchsuchung"), verletzt das allgemeine Persönlichkeitsrecht in seiner besonderen Ausprägung als Grundrecht auf Gewährleistung der Vertraulichkeit und Integrität informationstechnischer Systeme und ist nichtig. Die Vorschrift wahrt insbesondere nicht das Gebot der Verhältnismäßigkeit. Angesichts der Schwere des Eingriffs ist die heimliche Infiltration eines informationstechnischen Systems, mittels derer die Nutzung des Systems überwacht und seine Speichermedien ausgelesen werden können,verfassungsrechtlich nur zulässig, wenn tatsächliche Anhaltspunkte einer konkreten Gefahr für ein überragend wichtiges Rechtsgut bestehen.Zudem ist der Eingriff grundsätzlich unter den Vorbehalt richterlicherAnordnung zu stellen. Diesen Anforderungen wird § 5 Abs. 2 Nr. 11 Satz 1 Alt. 2 VSG nicht gerecht. Darüber hinaus fehlt es auch an hinreichenden gesetzlichen Vorkehrungen, um Eingriffe in den absolutgeschützten Kernbereich privater Lebensgestaltung zu vermeiden.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Playpen to Lapdog's Successor in Government: Oops, we lied!

Not only did they violate British and European law by using British bases to "render" suspects to secret cia prisons, the playpen (bushbaby & cunninglizard) also claimed never to have done so, putting the British government in the positon of lying to the British Parliament.
Today they corrected it. Just a mix-up.
OOOPS ! Sorry! Won't happen again!
(It would never happen if they would simply abide by recognized standards of justice: charge suspects, bring them to a court for arraignment and trial, let a jury determine a verdict, and, if guilty, let the court impose a sentence...)
Easy. And no more OOPS !

Miliband admits US rendition flights stopped on UK soil
In its Report on Rendition the ISC (28 June 2007) said 'we are satisfied that there is no evidence that US rendition flights have used UK airspace (except the two cases in 1998 referred to earlier in the report) and that there is no evidence of them having landed at UK military airfields'. The Government welcomed these conclusions in its response to the Report in July 2007. Parliamentary answers, interviews and letters followed this evidence. I am very sorry indeed to have to report to the House the need to correct these and other statements on the subject, on the basis of new information passed to officials on 15 February 2008 by the US Government.
Contrary to earlier explicit assurances that Diego Garcia had not been used for rendition flights, recent US investigations have now revealed two occasions, both in 2002, when this had in fact occurred. An error in the earlier US records search meant that these cases did not come to light. In both cases a US plane with a single detainee on board refuelled at the US facility in Diego Garcia. The detainees did not leave the plane, and the US Government has assured us that no US detainees have ever been held on Diego Garcia. US investigations show no record of any other rendition through Diego Garcia or any other Overseas Territory or through the UK itself since then.
U.S. says sorry to U.K. on rendition flights
"We came up with fresh information that in short order we shared with the British government," said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack. "We regret that there was an error in providing initially that inaccurate information to a good friend and ally," he told reporters.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice telephoned Britain's Foreign Secretary David Miliband on Wednesday to express U.S. regret over the error, he told reporters.
Miliband told Britain's parliament earlier on Thursday that contrary to earlier U.S. assurances, two planes used for "rendition flights" in 2002 had refueled at a U.S. base on the British Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia.
The British government had previously insisted it was not aware of any British territory being used to transfer terrorism suspects outside normal extradition procedures since U.S. President George W. Bush took office in 2001.
McCormack strongly denied there was an initial cover-up in providing information to the British government about the flights and attributed it to an "administrative error" by the Central Intelligence Agency.
A recent history of the US programme of moving suspects from one country to another without due process (from the Guardian online)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Miscellaneous Good News

1. Berlin mom home a week after chemo and doing splendidly well! No complaints whatsoever!
2. Stitches removed from heel of palm of right hand without difficulty, healing fine, sometimes bandaid free.
3. US Congress passed measure against torture in interrogations, even by the CIA (even if the playpen and its newly outed playmate McCANE are against it).
4. The German DA charged the multimillionaire head of the "Post AG" here with tax fraud in the millions, and others are about to get whacked!
5. Danish papers republished the mohammed caricatures in response to the murder plot against one of the cartoonists.
6. Beautiful sunny cold day here in Berlin.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

weekend update

The Berlin mom is doing extraordinarily well! 5/8 finished with her first course of chemo, Edith was happy to see us, is ready to go home Monday morning after her last infusion Sunday evening, has to relieve her bladder more often than usual and is a bit puffy faced from all the fluid she's getting, but has yet to have any queasiness, perhaps due to the anti-nausea meds she's receiving, and consumed a big bowl of green-bean soup in front of us to prove it, is joking that she doesn't even need the wig yet, and announced we should head on out so she can have some peace & quiet.

May she continue just as spunkily and go on being spared side effects!

She even sympathized with me about my hand; admonished me for not having scrubbed every last trace of the surgical disinfectant paint from my hand, then accepted the explanation that I can't wash it freely and only today did the first home-change of bandages - a real hassle -but thereby had the opportunity to preserve photographically the stitchs for posterity.


Friday, February 8, 2008

Glass Out, Stitches In, Sleepless Infusee

It looked dramatic enough, with the surgical disinfection paint and the gauze wound around my entire lower hand, to frighten Koko and make him temporarily a left hand sitting bird, but the 3 glass splitters are gone (I did NOT save them.), the zigzag incision with 7-8 stitches is healing fine, the surgeon was pleased when he changed the bandage to a smaller one this morning, which no longer frightens Koko and which I can finally replace with a waterproof bandaid to be able to wash again, and (sorry Sis) it hasn't really hurt much at all. Just pulls a little with a slight burning sensation. A week from today, the doc will remove the stitches and, as he put it, I'll finally be finished with this story.
Our Berlin mom finally got her first infusion yesterday beginning at 3 in the afternoon, running until this morning at 3; the only disturbance she reports till now is that she couldn't sleep as long as the stuff was running (she uses any excuse not to sleep), so we told her the nurses can watch it without her help, but she wants them to start earlier today so she can fall asleep around 10. Tomorrow we're going to visit her, which she has forbidden us to do today. Then we can report more, and are of course hoping she continues to cope well...
Should we take the camera? Or should I photograph my stitched up hand the next time I change the bandage? Time will tell.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Big Tuesday Primaries

If you are registered to vote in any of the 24 states holding primaries today, be sure and do so. Citizens of democracies who do not bother to vote have not understood what privilege they have to live in a system where their voices count! Stand up for your rights and fulfill your duty to participate in decisions concerning the state you live in!

Another step on the slow but steady road to the end of the playpen....

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Protect Ayaan Hirsi Ali !

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT: DC\696833EN.doc PE399.291v01-00 / 2004-2009 / 10.12.2007 0110/2007
WRITTEN DECLARATION pursuant to Rule 116 of the Rules of Procedure by Benoît Hamon, Ana Maria Gomes, Véronique de Keyser and Harlem Désir on the EU taking over the protection of Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Lapse date: 26.3.2008 / PE399.291v01-00 2/2 DC\696833EN.doc / EN 0110/2007
Written declaration on the EU taking over the protection of Ayaan Hirsi Ali
The European Parliament,
– having regard to Articles 6, 10(1) and 11(1) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights,
– having regard to Rule 116 of its Rules of Procedure,
A. whereas Mrs Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Netherlands citizen, is under threat of death for having exercised her freedom of expression as guaranteed by the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and whereas Article 6 of the Charter states that ‘everyone has the right to liberty and security of person’,
B. whereas the EU is founded on the values of democracy and the rule of law, and whereas religious fundamentalism, when it threatens death to anyone who dares to criticise the symbols or ideology of a religion, is a direct threat to the fundamental freedoms of the individual, and whereas therefore European citizens should be protected from it, particularly when they have sought refuge from this danger in the EU,
C. whereas, whatever one’s opinion of what Mrs Ali says, she has the right to express herself freely, including on religious, political and philosophical matters,
1. Calls for the EU to take the necessary measures to take responsibility for protecting Mrs Ali, since such protection is no longer afforded by the Netherlands, whatever country she chooses as her country of residence, so that her liberty, already infringed by threats, is not further restricted;
2. Instructs its President to forward this declaration, together with the names of the signatories, to the parliaments of the Member States, the Council and the Commission.
PARLEMENT EUROPÉEN: DC\696833FR.doc PE399.291v01-00 / 2004-2009 / 10.12.2077 0110/2007
DÉCLARATION ÉCRITE déposée conformément à l'article 116 du règlement par Benoît Hamon, Ana Maria Gomes, Véronique De Keyser et Harlem Désir sur la prise en charge par l'UE de la protection d'Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Échéance: 26.3.2008 / PE399.291v01-00 2/2 DC\696833FR.doc FR 0110/2007
Déclaration écrite sur la prise en charge par l'UE de la protection d'Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Le Parlement européen,
– vu l'article 6, l'article 10, paragraphe1, et l'article 11, paragraphe 1, de la Charte des droits fondamentaux,
– vu l'article 116 de son règlement,
A. considérant que Mme Ayaan Hirsi Ali, citoyenne néerlandaise, est menacée de mort pour avoir exercé sa liberté d'expression, garantie par la Charte des droits fondamentaux, laquelle dispose en son article 6 que "toute personne a droit à la liberté et à la sûreté",
B. considérant que l'Union européenne se fonde sur les valeurs de la démocratie et de l'État de droit et que l'intégrisme religieux, dès lors qu'il menace de mort quiconque ose critiquer les symboles ou l'idéologie d'une religion, menace directement les libertés
individuelles fondamentales; qu'en conséquence, il faut protéger les citoyens européens contre un tel intégrisme, a fortiori quand ceux-ci ont fui ce danger pour trouver refuge dans l'Union européenne,
C. considérant que, quel que soit le jugement que l'on puisse porter sur les propos de Mme Ayaan Hirsi Ali, cette dernière a le droit de s'exprimer librement, y compris sur des questions d'ordre religieux, politique ou philosophique,
1. demande que l'Union européenne prenne les mesures nécessaires à la prise en charge de la protection de Mme Ayaan Hirsi Ali – qui n'est plus assurée aujourd'hui par les Pays-Bas –, quel que soit le pays où celle-ci a choisi de résider, afin de ne pas restreindre davantage sa liberté, déjà entravée par les menaces;
2. charge son Président de transmettre la présente déclaration, accompagnée du nom des signataires, aux parlements des États membres, au Conseil et à la Commission.
EUROPÄISCHES PARLAMENT: DC\696833DE.doc PE399.291 / 2004-2009 / 10.12.2007 0110/2007
SCHRIFTLICHE ERKLÄRUNG eingereicht gemäß Artikel 116 der Geschäftsordnung von Benoît Hamon, Ana Maria Gomes, Véronique De Keyser und Harlem Désir zur Gewährleistung des Schutzes von Ayaan Hirsi Ali durch die EU
Fristablauf: 26.3.2008 / PE399.291 2/2 DC\696833DE.doc DE 0110/2007
Schriftliche Erklärung zur Gewährleistung des Schutzes von Ayaan Hirsi Ali durch die EU
Das Europäische Parlament,
– gestützt auf die Artikel 6, 10 Absatz 1 und Artikel 11 Absatz 1 der Charta der Grundrechte,
– gestützt auf Artikel 116 seiner Geschäftsordnung,
A. in der Erwägung, dass Ayaan Hirsi Ali, niederländische Staatsangehörige, aufgrund der Ausübung ihres von der Charta der Grundrechte garantierten Rechts auf freie Meinungsäußerung mit dem Tod bedroht wird und dass gemäß Artikel 6 dieser Charta „jeder Mensch das Recht auf Freiheit und Sicherheit“ hat,
B. in der Erwägung, dass die Europäische Union auf den Werten der Demokratie und der Rechtsstaatlichkeit beruht und der religiöse Fundamentalismus, indem er jeden mit dem Tod droht, der es wagt, die Symbole oder die Ideologie einer Religion zu kritisieren, die grundlegenden persönlichen Freiheiten unmittelbar bedroht und den europäischen Bürgern daher Schutz zu gewähren ist, was umso mehr gilt, wenn sie bereits vor einer solchen Gefahr geflohen sind und in der EU Schutz suchen,
C. in der Erwägung, dass Ayaan Hirsi Ali unabhängig von den Auffassungen, die zu ihren Äußerungen bestehen mögen, das Recht auf freie Meinungsäußerung zusteht, einschließlich der Äußerung zu religiösen, politischen oder philosophischen Fragen,
1. fordert, dass die Europäische Union die erforderlichen Maßnahmen zum Schutz von Ayaan Hirsi Ali ergreift, der von den Niederlanden derzeit nicht mehr gewährleistet wird, und zwar unabhängig von dem Land, das sie zu ihrem Wohnsitz erkoren hat, um ihre bereits durch die Bedrohungen beeinträchtigte Freiheit nicht noch weiter einzuschränken;
2. beauftragt seinen Präsidenten, diese Erklärung mit den Namen der Unterzeichner den Parlamenten der Mitgliedstaaten, dem Rat und der Kommission zu übermitteln.


In Paris, there will be an important meeting to help achieve this goal on February 10th:
Avec Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Protégeons la liberté de penser
Le Meeting aura lieu le 10 février à 20 H à l’Ecole normale supérieure (annexe, amphi Jules Ferry), 29 rue d’Ulm 75005 (venir dès 19h en raison du dispositif de sécurité).
La soirée est organisée par : La Revue ProChoix, La Règle du Jeu, Libération et Charlie Hebdo
En présence de Darina al-Joundi, Monique Canto-Sperber, Caroline Fourest, Benoît Hamon, Laurent Joffrin, Dominique Sopo, Bernard-Henri Lévy, Mohamed Sifaoui, Pascal Bruckner, Philippe Val, Ségolène Royal, Rama Yade, et bien sûr Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

One Year Ago / Two Days from Now

Unbelievable, but one year ago today I was arriving to visit the Countess, still at the Ducal station, and then to accompany her and the Lady-in-Waiting to Chicora Court for the following month.
Just as unbelievable is that the Berlin mom will begin chemo two days from now, having completed her six radiation doses in three weeks without noticeable impairment. She's already bought a wig, was out with Steffi to do so today. She'll be in the hospital for three-four days for the chemo, then released, barring infection danger, to return three weeks later to repeat the process, a total of five-six times. So we're talking 15-18 weeks total, close to the Chicora Court duration.
But this story is different, heading in another direction. And the Berlin mom's in top spirits and ready for the ordeal to ensure full cure.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Biking in the Wind

Thanks to the BVG strike of subway, buses, trams, and ferries today we headed to work on our bikes. The strike will continue till tomorrow around 3pm, because the BVG refuses to make any decent offer of wage increases to its employees for the new contract period.
We have no problem whatsoever with them striking for their demands. Employees have no other power with employers, especially such who these days would prefer to have employees pay for the privilege of working rather than give any money at all.
Without its employees, the BVG would have a lot of empty useless immobile trains and buses, as they did today. We all want a decent living, so lets be willing to pay those whose services we use.
The DB train company's locomotive engineers managed to get a new contract only after months of occasional strikes, which includes the S-Bahn, the only transit system operating in Berlin today. Hopefully the BVG management will negotiate a decent contract with its workers more quickly!
They can't outsource transit workers to some third-world country! It's time "globalized" firms begin to learn that personnel is their most important resource. And every member of the personnel is also, if he receives enough money to buy anything, a potential customer. If they don't get paid for their work, they aren't anybody's customers anymore.