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Holland for my German friends

I have been on my way in Holland again for the last 12 Months. A lot of things happen in this small country where I was born. When I left in 2000 the country was a pretty open society where people were proud to live together with a lot of cultures. Although Holland is still known for its ‘open atmosphere’ the reality has changed since then.

Due to a couple of incidents, most notably the assassination of Theo van Gogh and the planned attacks of the “Hofstad Groep” Holland is struggling big time with its multi-culture values. It seems like a lot of people I meet here have a hard time keeping up the old concept of tolerance, Holland was so proud to have. Things have even become so bad that the right-wing populist Geert Wilders has become salon-fähig.

When I come back home in Germany I often have a hard time explaining what exactly is going on and why I think Holland is changing. The German magazine Spiegel today posted an article about the state of Holland, in which they describe in a very clear way the changes that are happening.


Dolphin ‘Moko’ saves whales

CNN Asia has a story about a Dolphin that saved two pygmy whales (a mother an a calf).

A dolphin swam up to two distressed whales that appeared headed for death in a beach stranding in New Zealand and guided them to safety, witnesses said Wednesday.

The actions of the bottlenose dolphin — named Moko by residents who said it spends much of its time swimming playfully with humans at the beach — amazed would-be rescuers and an expert who said they were evidence of the species’ friendly nature.

The two pygmy sperm whales, a mother and her calf, were found stranded on Mahia Beach, about 500 kilometers (300 miles) northeast of the capital of Wellington, on Monday morning, said Conservation Department worker Malcolm Smith.


Schneier versus Brin

Bruce Schneier (of Schneier on security) posted an essay on wired about what he calls:
The Myth of the ‘Transparent Society’. In his essay he tries to explain why the ‘Transparent Society’, as defined by David Brin, is a failing concept:

When I write and speak about privacy, I am regularly confronted with the mutual disclosure argument. Explained in books like David Brin’s The Transparent Society, the argument goes something like this: In a world of ubiquitous surveillance, you’ll know all about me, but I will also know all about you. The government will be watching us, but we’ll also be watching the government.

If I disclose information to you, your power with respect to me increases. One way to address this power imbalance is for you to similarly disclose information to me. We both have less privacy, but the balance of power is maintained. But this mechanism fails utterly if you and I have different power levels to begin with.

An example will make this clearer. You’re stopped by a police officer, who demands to see identification. Divulging your identity will give the officer enormous power over you: He or she can search police databases using the information on your ID; he or she can create a police record attached to your name; he or she can put you on this or that secret terrorist watch list. Asking to see the officer’s ID in return gives you no comparable power over him or her. The power imbalance is too great, and mutual disclosure does not make it OK.

You can think of your existing power as the exponent in an equation that determines the value, to you, of more information. The more power you have, the more additional power you derive from the new data.

Very interesting is David Brin’s reply.

Living in a western society now has become a sin.

With unendless wisdom the vatican today declared seven new (possibly deadly) sins. These sins basically make it impossible to live in any western kind of society (if you share the negative view that we are rich because they are poor).

The New “Social” Sins

  1. “Bioethical” violations such as birth control
  2. “Morally dubious” experiments such as stem cell research
  3. Drug abuse
  4. Polluting the environment
  5. Contributing to widening divide between rich and poor
  6. Excessive wealth
  7. Creating poverty

For those who forgot, here are the original deadly sins:

  1. lust
  2. gluttony
  3. greed
  4. sloth
  5. wrath
  6. envy
  7. pride


I finally found my way to Wikileaks is a website for whistleblowers, it accepts classified, censored or otherwise restricted material of political, diplomatic or ethical significance. I read a lot about it during the time they were brought offline by the Swiss bank, but never found a moment to just have a look at the site. Until today that is. Apart from a description of the US equipment in Iraq in 2007 they have a report desribing how former Stasi employees help out to classify the old Stasi reports.

 However from November 2006 allegations started to circulate, most notably in the German news paper Die Welt that the BStU, tasked to guard the Stasi files, had been infiltrated by a number of former Stasi officers and informers. In response the German government commissioned an investigation.

By June 2007, the investigative team, led by Prof. Hans Hugo Klien, a former judge of the German Federal Constitution Court and CDU politician, had completed its confidential report into the infiltration.

The report has been obtained by Wikileaks and is the subject of this analysis.