Archive for April, 2009
Two weeks ago in my article What is “green” in Green Gene Technology I still praised the decision from germanys Minister of Agriculture, Mrs. Ilse Aigner, for her change of opinion which lead to the ban of the genetically altered Monsanto MON 810 corn. Now I have to read in Spiegel Online’s article CSU-Ministerin Aigner düpiert Seehofer that she allowed BASF, a german company, to sow the genetically altered potato Amflora.
It seem that I missunderstood Mrs. Aigners intentions thoroughly! Instead of getting her act together towards a natural agriculture which is able to supply us and our children with healthy food also in the future it seems that it is all only about politics and money, as always!
Mrs. Aigner, is this your contribution to the german economy in times of the crisis or is it already part of your election campaign for the upcoming election in Germany or are there other economic reasons which lead to this decision?
The 60′s of the last century have been a time of breakup in Germany and many other countries in the world. Young people didn’t agree any more with the moral and political ideas of the elder generation and cried for radical changes in the society.
In my eyes this was only natural regarding that they were born after the second world war in a fast changing time with nearly overwhelming progress in natural but also social sciences which has left them with the feeling that their parent generation was left far behind in its understanding of the new generation, which has perhaps in fact been so.
In this time in germany the young political activists gathered together in the APO (Außerparlamentarische Opposition) a political opposition apart from the normal circus of political parties, elections and government because they had the feeling that not a single of the existing parties represented their political positions. The reaction of the establishment was high pressure and control of the activists by police forces and other measures. This extreme course of action from the authorities split the APO and the sympathisers in their surrounding into two parts. The majority could be silenced and later found themselves in other activities and finally a political home in the Green Party but a minority was driven into the political underground which established the base for the RAF (Rote Armee Fraktion) a terror organisation which threw her dark shadow over Germany from the 70′s up into the 90′s.
When I read the articles about the new laws for control and law enforcement in Germany which are against all democratic and federalistic rules as you can read in the latest articles on netzpolitik.org (Warum wir dem BKA nicht vertrauen können und was das mit dem Föderalismus zu tun hat) which describes why the BKA laws are against the german federal constitution and from Jens Scholz Warum es um Zensur geht which analyses why the new anti child pornography law is not established to fight against child pornography, as it is not the right instrument for this goal anyway, but only to establish a control infrastructure in the german part of the internet, I have to ask myself:
Is there not a single politician in Germany who has learned anything from the german History?
Before you go and start to criminalise our youth which grew up with technology as internet, handy, copies of music and films in original quality … only because you don’t understand them and get yourself heared by them, you should be exchanged by a younger generation of politicians as fast as possible! You cannot put everyone in germany under suspect of crime without thinking that this will not have far reaching consequences for our future.
It seems that Germany and China are going in opposite directions when it comes to the freedom of their people.
While China is willing, at least according do their communiques, that they want to strengthen the human rights in their country which also includes the right of information, the German Government is just establishing a law Entwurf eines Gesetzes zur Bekaempfung der Kinderpornographie in Kommunikationsnetzen which allows the police to establish internet filters within their own discretion and without the normal rule of right controls of a democracy.
All articles in the german press and on politically active blogs like Bundesregierung beschließt Zensurgesetz and Gesetzesentwurf zu Web-Sperren beschlossen are shocked and ask themselves if the politicians are really ruling the country unhampered by any knowledge of which consequences the technical measures they are establishing will have for the future. I am sure that this will not only cut back the democratic rights of the internet users in germany but also have an effect on the economy, as all control measures which were established in the past have shown.
German politicians are always on a high horse when they look down upon the chinese governments dealing with their population when it comes to human rights and personal freedom. I think it is high time for them to step down!
Does anybody recall the novel Catch 22 from Joseph Heller? One of the main characters in the novel is the army B-25 bombardier Yossarian who tries to escape the war by playing crazy which is the reason why he is found to be perfectly healthy by the doctors and qualified to attend the war.
In one word:
Within the book, “Catch-22″ is a military rule, the self-contradictory circular logic that, for example, prevents anyone from avoiding combat missions.
Why do I refer to this book?
In Germany the authorities are exactly playing a Catch 22 against all internet users!
With the argument to fight against child pornography german authorities forced the biggest internet providers in germany to sign a contract according to which they have to establish internet filters according to a list from the german BKA (highest police in germany) as stated in BKA filtert das Web on Spiegel Online. As everybody in this circus knows, all arguments why these measures are not leading to the desired results and are therefore only duped to establish a control mechanism can be read in the article Die Argumente für Kinderporno-Sperren laufen ins Leere.
Now the content of a draft of the bill for the fight against child pornography is published in Kinderporno-Sperren: Provider sollen Nutzerzugriffe loggen dürfen. Further thoughts about this subject are expressed in Zensursula: Gesetzentwurf am Mittwoch & Gedanken zur medialen Wahrnehmung.
The Catch 22 in this is: Not only the criminal content is targeted in this new law but also the filter lists are secret because the content of the domains on these lists is criminal and because the filter lists are secret nobody is allowed to check if the content which shall be filtered is really about child pornography because as soon as you try to check the doing of the BKA you are a criminal too!
To go further, the internet providers are allowed to store all connection data concerning the domains on these lists which means when you are stumbling on such a website, automatically you are under suspicion to be a criminal.
The german constitution stipulates the separation of executive, judicial power and legislation. This means that normally measures which effect the basic law of the people in Germany cannot be decreed by the police without the agreement of a judge. Now the basic law of information and free communication can be restricted by the police without control by the judicial powers or anybody else! This especially because only the police decides about which domain is set on its list. In my eyes this is a violation of the german constitution!
Please keep in mind:
- The filtering of the internet does not prevent a single case of child abuse!
- The filtering of the internet does not erase the criminal content!
To make this clear, I am the first one to fight against child pornography or abuse for I have children on my own! Therefore it is even more horrible for me that this argumentation is used to suppress the opposition against establishing internet control mechanisms.
Sometimes I ask myself if in the fight for a political position nowadays everything is allowed because in my eyes a major part of all this is already the fight for the next election.
As I mentioned earlier, once the possibilities for gathering informations about you over the internet are established, they will be used!
I just read an article in the New York Times about the NSA: N.S.A.’s Intercepts Exceed Limits Set by Congress. This fits very well together with the plans in Germany about data retention which can be found under http://www.bundesnetzagentur.de and which is explained in the Heise article Entwurf zur technischen Umsetzung der Vorratsdatenspeicherung veröffentlicht.
The British Telekom even tested their Phorm-System which does Deep Packet Inspection to analyse the user behaviour of their internet customers without even asking them what they should have done according to the law, as can be read at Golem.de in EU geht wegen Phorm gegen Großbritannien vor.
And South Corea just implemented a “three-strikes law” even for web forums, to punish internet users when attending filesharing as can be read on netzpolitik.org in the article: Südkorea implementiert “3 Strikes” – auch für Webforen.
When we assemble all these informations we get the following image:
- We will have the technical conditions for the control of the internet established
- There will always be someone, even in good intent, who will use these instruments to their maximum possibility
- And the punishment will be at least to be kicked out of the internet which means the loss of the basic democratic right of information or even more
Once Pandora’s Box is opened it cannot be closed again!
Now is the moment to stop all these things or one day we will find ourselves in a world where all informations and all our doing is controlled. I don’t think that then we will still be able to diskuss these things open.
In Germany a big political discussion is going on about the establishment of internet blockers to fight the spread of child pornography. Netzpolitik.org is calling for a picket against internet blocks in Berlin on friday Mahnwache am Freitag: Keine Scheuklappen fürs Netz!
As studies about the actual situation show, nearly all of the servers with denounced content could be legally taken from the internet without any collateral damage which would be caused by internet filtering. Based on a list from https://scusiblog.org/ who set the published blocking lists from Finnland, Norway and Australia into relation of the position of the servers where the content is hosted, Rochus Wessel went one step further and analysed these countries according to a study from the Internatinal Centre for missing & exploited Children about the legal possibilities to ban these contents in compliance with the local laws in these countries “Netzsperren sind Vermeidbar“.
Interesting in this context is the conclusion Rochus Wessel took:
The analysis shows that the predominant part of blocked content is hosted on servers in countries which would allow a complete deletion of the content. This lesser intervention should by all means be preferred because it causes no collateral damage and is more effective because deleted content cannot be accessed any more while filtered content is always still accessible by bypassing the filtering mechanisms.
How is it possible that in country A, which prohibits child pornography, content is still continously available while in country B these contents are already known to and blocked by the police?
- The classification in country B as child pornography was wrong
- Country A has less strikt laws then country B
- The public authorities in country B did not inform country A
- The public authorities in country A did not act in spite of their knowledge
Supposed that country A would be the USA these contents would be deleted within 1-3 days so that case (4) can be ignored. As well case (2) can be ignored because in this case the USA has perhaps the most restrictive laws in the world. Remains case (3) which would show a drastic lack of international cooperation which should be eliminated at once or case (1) which would state that all raised fears of opponents of internet filters were legitimate.
I can only add that this kind of blind political actionism which is produced by germans minister Ursula von der Leyen is only good to distinguish herself but in the matter completely contra productive. To exploit the rule of law possibilities and strengthen the international cooperation might be politically less sexy but would be in my eyes a much more effective way if the real goal is a fight against abuse of the internet.
Otherwise, you can call me paranoid, the reason for these campaigns might be simply to establish internet filtering as legal instrument to control the internet and therefore us all.
In one word: nothing!
Green Gene Technology describes the genetic manipulation of plants in contrast for example to the Red Gene Technology which describes the genetic manipulation of organisms with red blood like animals or humans. It has nothing to do with biological agriculture.
Germans Ministry for Agriculture in the person of Ilse Aigner denied the permission to cultivate the genetic manipulated Monsanto Corn MON 810 in spite of all efforts and lobbying which Monsanto did to push the genetic Corn into the german market, as can be read on Spiegel Online in (Deutschland demütigt den Agro-Giganten and Anbau von umstrittenem Genmais gestoppt.
Why are companies like Monsanto manipulating plants? First of all to make them resistant specially against their own products from their pesticide product categories. For example a Monsanto manipulated Corn is resistant against the Monsanto Roundup herbicide with the desired effect that a farmer growing Monsanto Corn naturally will buy Monsanto Roundup for his weed control.
From the economic point of view of Monsanto this makes perfectly sense. Only there are studies which at least leave the doubt that genetic manipulated corn even as forage will have an impact on humans who enjoy the end product like milk or meat. As studies show the genetic material of the forage passes the food chain and finally will end in us all.
Which effects will this have? Genetic Engineering cannot predict the effects of a manipulation as many tests in the past have shown! It is more or less a game of try and error that even the desired effects show up. So everybody should ask himself if he really wants to gamble his own health and that of his children for the sake of the product line of some big enterprises which try to dominate the agriculture market with promises of higher harvests?
At last I would like to point you to the following report about risks in genetic engineering from the german part of the Greenpeace organisation: Risiko Gentechnik
As the chinese news agency Xinhua reported, yesterday the chinese government published for the first time a human rights action plan for China. During the next 2 years human rights shall be protected and promoted with an focus on:
- Civil and Political Rights
- Rights and Interests of Ethnic Minorities
- Education in Human Rights
- Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
- Performing International Human Rights Duties
As stated in Spiegel Online, specially the promise of better social benefits would be highly welcome from a vast majority of the population.
It is arguable how many of these good intentions can be realised and in which time frame because it takes a lot of time until a governmental policy in China becomes reality in local government decision making. But for the first time at all the chinese government approved that there might be a need for change in the human rights policies in China.
One of the first things which should be changed is the disparity between countryside and city citizens as explained in Lizhens article about the chinese Hukou. This disparity in my eyes is a shame for an communist country where all brothers should be seen as equal.
The full text of the action plan can be found here: National Human Rights Action Plan of China (2009-2010) .
For me as computer scientist I am specially interested to see the implementation of II. Guarantee of Civil and Political Rights, (5) The right to be informed. Will this point cover a less strickt filtering of the internet as well?
As far as the chinese government does not exactly explain what they want to change and how they want to achieve these goals a slight suspiciousness about this program is indicated.
For the first time I played a little bit with HDR photography and tried some programs like Photomatix, Dynamic Photo HDR and QtPfsGui. The results were not always as I expected but one of the results of my living room, made with QtPfsGui, looks quite interesting.
More to come …
I just came back from Guangzhou where I had to go for a week. Guangzhou is a city with about 10.5 mio. habitants and when you arrive there coming from Haikou the impression is that of a very busy and dirty city. There is much more traffic and the air is simply not comparable to the fresh sea air in Haikou.
The pace in Guangzhou is much higher than in Haikou. You can see it when you have a look at the people who are hurring into the Metro or when you see the speed of the cars and busses in the streets. Even in the restaurants I have seen that during a normal lunch which took us about 30 min. on our neighbour table three groups of people have been serverd their lunch during the same time.
But luckily you can feel very safe when you are guarded even by the police during a coffee break at KFC
One thing I really liked in Guangzhou are all the good restaurants. There are plenty of them and in all chinese and even many stranger country styles. Fortunately we didn’t have the time to visit more than two of them per day There were also some restaurants which offer specialties where I had to pass. For example one famous snake restaurant, … Therefore we found a very small but extremly good goose restaurant and got very big and yummy goose dishes for 25 RMB.
And Guangzhou is ideal for shopping. We have seen shopping malls which were bigger than half of the shopping malls of Haikou together.
Wherever you go in Guangzhou, its crowded. I have been in several big chinese cities but I think Guangzhou is only comparable to Shanghai when it comes to the crowds walking through the streets and shops and if you try to find a table in a restaurant during normal lunch time be prepared that you might wait for some minutes until one becomes free. But as I stated already you don’t have to wait for long
Transportation is always a subject in China. Guangzhou has a very modern and fast Metro which covers already the main directions and is continuously extended. The regions of the city you cannot reach by Metro are very good covered by many bus lines.
Even though the traffic is already full of trucks and small transporters with supply you can still find the more traditional chinese transport systems as well. I had the luck to see this bicycle transporter with empty boxes which even found a solution against the rainy weather.
At last we found an old european quarter. The houses are still more or less in the old european style which I am used to from Germany and old houses are repaired in the same way to conserve the unique style of this little island. We spent a nice an quiet afternoon on the terrace of the Starbucks with a good coffee and many muffins.
On this little island you can find restaurants from Italy and Germany but be prepared for the more european prices as well.