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November 05 2013

‘Women Should Be Submissive', and Other Google Autocomplete Suggestions

A series of ads by UN Women, revealed in late October, used the Google Autocomplete feature to uncover widespread negative attitudes toward women. Global Voices followed reactions to the UN Women campaign and conducted its own experiment in different languages. The results of searches conducted both within the UN Women campaign and Global Voices revealed popular attitudes not only about women’s social and professional roles, but also about their sexuality, appearance and relationships with men.

UN Women ad featuring Google autocomplete suggestions for the phrase

UN Women ad featuring Google autocomplete suggestions for the phrase “women shouldn't”

The creators of the UN Women ads used search phrases like “women cannot”, “women shouldn’t”, “women should” and “women need to” completed by genuine Google search terms to highlight overwhelmingly negative stereotypes, sexist and highly discriminatory views held about women by society globally. The ads quickly went viral and sparked a heated discussion online. Last week, creators have announced that they are planning to expand the campaign in response to the mass online reaction.

The auto-complete function for searches, according to Google, predicts users’ queries based on the search activity of all users of the web as well as the content of indexed pages. The predictions may also be influenced by past searches of the particular user if they are signed into their Google account.

Global Voices asked its contributors from around the world to carry out Google searches using the same or similar phrases as those used in the UN Women campaign, in their own languages. The searches done between October 19 and October 25, 2013, revealed attitudes about the roles women are expected to take in society, often demonstrating the same global prejudices, but sometimes showing contradictions in different countries. Below are searches in 12 languages from different countries and continents:



“Women should not…”. A screenshot by Silvia Viñas. October 21, 2013.

Women should not…
Women should not preach
Women should not work
Women should not talk in the congregation
Women should not drive


“Women cannot…” A screenshot by Juan Arellano. October 21, 2013.

Women cannot…
Women cannot preach
Women cannot be pastors
Women cannot donate blood
Women cannot live without man

Puerto Rico

“Women should…”. A screenshot by Firuzeh Shokooh Valle. October 21, 2013.

Women should…
Women should be submissive
Women should use the veil
Women should preach
Women should work



“Women should…”. A screenshot by Suzanne Lehn. October 21, 2013.

Women should…
women should stay at home
women should work
should women preach
women should wear skirts
women should be submissive
women should know
women should vote
women should stay at home
should women work
women should do the cooking

“Women don't know…”. A screen shot by Rayna St. October 21, 2013.

Women don’t know…
women don't know how to drive
women don't know what they want
women don't know how to be in love
women don't know how to read cards


Egypt (similar results in Jordan)

“Woman cannot…”. A screenshot by Tarek Amr. October 21, 2013.

Woman cannot…
Woman cannot live without marriage
Woman cannot live without a man
Woman cannot keep a secret
Woman cannot interpret man's silence


“Women cannot…”. A screenshot by Gloria Wang. October 21, 2013.

Women cannot…
Women cannot be too smart
Women can't drive
Women cannot give birth
10 topics women cannot discuss with their husbands


“Women should not…”. A screenshot by Diana Lungu. October 21, 2013.

women should not…
women should be loved not understood
women should not be understood
women should not wear pants
what women should not do in bed



“Women should…”. A screenshot by Gaia Resta. October 22, 2013.

Women should…
Women should stay at home
should play hard to get
should stay in the kitchen
should be subdued

“Women should not…”. A screenshot by Gaia Resta. October 22, 2013.

Women should not…
Women should not be understood
should not work
should not be understood but loved
should not read



“Woman should not…”. A screenshot by Katrin Zinoun. October 21, 2013.

Woman should not…
Woman should not teach
My wife should not work

“Woman can…”. A screenshot by Katrin Zinoun. October 21, 2013.

Woman can….
Woman cannot come
Woman cannot get pregnant
Woman cannot cook
Woman cannot get a baby


“Women don't…”. A screenshot by
Gilad Lotan. October 21, 2013.

Women don't…
Women don't work
Women are not modest
Women don't know how to drive
Women don't want to have kids


“A woman should be…”. A screenshot by Marietta Le.
October 21, 2013.

A woman should be…
a woman should be a chef in the kitchen
a woman should be pretty and ruthless


“Women cannot…”. A screenshot by Solana Larsen. October 20, 2013.

Women cannot…
Women cannot drive
Women cannot control vagina
Women cannot be color blind
Women cannot barbecue

In Danish, the searches for “women cannot” and “women can” yielded the same results.


“Women should not…”. A screenshot by Veronica Khokhlova. October 19, 2013.

Women should not…
Women should not be believed
Women should not lift heavy things
Women should not drink
Women should not be trusted


The UK

“Women should…”. A screenshot by Annie Zaman. October 25, 2013.

Women should…
Women should be seen and not heard
Women should stay at home
Women should know their place

 Not all searches carried out by members of Global Voices community turned up negative terms. Nevertheless, the results of the experiment largely confirm UN Women’s worrying conclusion that a great deal of work still remains to be done in order to advance women’s rights and empowerment around the world.

October 31 2013

Ballett Dortmund's Red Dream Ballet Censored in Hong Kong

The Dream of the Red Chamber, a ballet co-produced by the Hong Kong Ballet and German company Ballett Dortmund and choreographed by Wang Xin Peng, Artistic Director of Ballett Dortmund, is caught up in a censorship scandal involving mainland Chinese authorities in Hong Kong.

Inspired by a famous novel in the Qing Dynasty written by Cao Xueqin, the Ballet Dream of the Red Chamber, is about China's modern history. As choreographer Wang Xin Peng experienced the Cultural Revolution in China and left his country after witnessing the June 4 Tiananmen Crackdown, he has injected his personal reflections onto the Ballet. Below is a video uploaded by Ballett Dormund showing some scenes from “The Dream of the Red Chamber”.

A censored ballet scene depicting the Red Guard's campaign to destroy the Four Olds during the Cultural Revolution was removed by the Hong Kong Ballet before first night. In addition, a 12 minute background projection of a scene with Pao Yu, the main protagonist of the story, reflecting on the history of Grand View Garden or Daguanyuan, a metaphor of Chinese history in Wang's Ballet, was removed after the opening show. The projection carries images from Ming and Qing Dynasties to contemporary China and it has snapshots showing the Cultural Revolution as well. Such abrupt post-production censorship has outraged the cultural circle in Hong Kong and many believe that the Beijing government is behind the scene.

Online news commentary portal site, the House News, quoted an email reply from the Ballet Dortmund on the significance of the two censored scenes:

We are not informed of any cuts on purpose made in the production – and we haven't given permisson to do so.

We have been officially informed though that there were serious technical problems in the venue, which concerned the video and text in the performances after the opening night. We sincerely hope that these problems are being solved for further performances!

The elements of the third act are important to understand the intention of choreographer Wang Xin Peng. He wants to focus on the the relevance of the story for our present age. The third act shows Chinese history from the Emperor time up to today: The cosmic stone seeks the experience of eternal love. Since eternal is the essence of life as a whole, the stone goes through not only one human life, but through the lives of 300 years in history. This time-journey through 300 years in history from the middle kingdom up to today is shown in the 3rd act as well through videos and costumes. Without any valuation but rather as a reflection of the history of Mr. Wang's home country, this final part of his work is essential and makes it complete.

The Hong Kong Ballet denied that any political censorship was involved and insisted that the decision to change the Cultural Revolution costumes and remove the projection of 12 minutes of Chinese history was based on artistic and technical consideration.

However, an audience member who had attended the pre-opening rehearsal disclosed that the Cultural Revolution scene was included in the pre-opening show. She described what she saw to on the evening of 24 October 2013, just one day before the opening [disclosure - the report at is written by author of this article]:

Scene of red guards denouncing the capitalist in the Dream of the Red Chamber. Screen capture from Theater Dortmund's Youtube video.

Scene of red guards denouncing the capitalist in the Dream of the Red Chamber. Screen capture from Theater Dortmund's Youtube video.


In the rehearsal of October 24, in the latter half of the ballet performance, the background of the stage was Tiannanmen and Mao Tsedong's portrait was hanging on the wall. Some dancers dressed as Red Guards appeared on stage, they had the little red books in their hands and waved them to Mao's portrait. The next episode was “destroy the four olds”, dancers were tearing apart paintings, burning old books that represent feudalism, denouncing the capitalists etc.

Under the comment thread of the House News’ story in Facebook, Joey Kong pointed out that art groups in Hong Kong, because of the government's direct sponsorship policy, are easily manipulated by political forces:

HK ballet,以至 香港舞蹈總會,以至香港整體藝術發展資助政策:都很腐爛、很親中很紅。<明報>香港芭蕾舞團原由藝發局提供資助,2007年起,與其他八大藝團一同歸入民政事務局的資助之下,資助額明顯增加,例如07年藝發局資助1346萬元,08年民政局資助2491萬元,到2012年資助額為3158萬元,該年度的盈餘為833萬元。 〜「民政事務局的資助」??曾德成 wor! 統戰部黎架!

Hong Kong Ballet and even Hong Kong Dance Federation Limited, as well as the direct sponsor policy of arts development, are very rotten, pro-Beijing government. According to Ming Pao [a local newspaper] Hong Kong Ballet was sponsored by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council (ADC). But in 2007, it was put under the direct sponsorship of Government Home Affair Bureau among 8 other performing arts groups. The funding amount has increased under the new policy. For example in 2007, ADC only funded Hong Kong Ballet HK 13,460,000 dollars [US 1,736,083 dollars], the amount was raised to 24,910,000 [US 3,212,915 dollars] in 2008 and 31,580,000 [US 4,073,219 dollars] in 2012. The company made 8,330,000 [US 1,074,411] profit last year. – “Funded by HAB”? Tsang Takshing is in charge! It is like a defacto unit of the United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist Party.

October 07 2013

Oktoberfest in Lomé, Togo

Beer Fest in Togo in Lomé, Togo via Togo actualités

Beer Fest in Togo in Lomé, Togo via Togo actualités

The month of October is most often associated with Beer fest in Germany. Yet it seems that it is also slowly becoming a tradition in Togo. LoveJoyce Amavi, a blogger in Lomé, The capital city of Togo, denounces the absurdity of such a fest in his city. He writes in “L‘âge de la bière” (the age of beer) [fr]:

Si en Allemagne, pays inventeur, ou tout au moins, grand producteur de bière, la fête de la bière (die Oktoberfest), est cette rencontre coutumière, conviviale, cordiale, chez nous, l’excès suprême d’alcool, et les débordements nuisibles, sont le lot de chaque année [..] D’imaginer près de 100.000 jeunes, à la fête de la bière, et à peine 300, au forum de l’emploi des jeunes, est une blessure profonde.

In Germany, a major producer of fine hops, Oktoberfest is a traditional gathering where people have good, harmless fun. But here every year, the open access to alcohol is an opportunity for drunken obnoxious behaviors [..] To see 100,000 youngsters come to Beer Festival and then merely 300 show up at job fairs saddens me a great deal.

September 23 2013

Social Media Week Discusses Principles for a Collaborative World


Follow @socialmediaweek on Twitter or the hashtags for the event: #SMW13 (general), #SMWBerlin#SMWBog (Bogota), #SMWChicago#SMWLDN (London), #SMWLA (Los Angeles), #SMWMumbai#SMWSP (São Paulo), #SMWTo (Toronto).

Social Media Week, a worldwide event which ”brings people, brands and organizations together to explore how we connect and communicate as a society”, starts today, September 23, 2013.

In the second edition of this year's global conference, with the cities of Berlin, Bogotá, Chicago, London, Los Angeles, Mumbai, São Paulo and Toronto as hosts, more than 1,000 events are expected to take place ”exploring the social, cultural and economic impact of social media”.

The global theme that marks the fifth year of Social Media Week is “Open & Connected: Principles for a collaborative world”.

Related post on Global Voices - Italy: Social Media Week in Milan and Worldwide (2010)

Xenien zur Bundestagswahl 2013 - 22.-24.September 2013

Dienstag, 24.09.2013

Koalieren - wozu? Soll sie sich um Mehrheiten kümmern!
"Wo ist mein Karma, mein Flair? Raute, ... wo meine Magie?"

Montag, 23.09.2013

Medien, na klar doch, die Quoten im Auge, macht Ihr zum Verlierer
Jeden, der Inhalt verspricht, fachmännisch längst vor der Wahl.

Sonntag, 22.09.2013

Deutschland quo vadis? Mit leuchtendem Auge ob einer Raute
Treffen die Deinen die Wahl, postdemokratisch entrückt.

Pythias Orakel im Abseits! stand neulich im Delphischen Boten,
Marktorientiert lalle jetzt eine Frau M. in Berlin.

Fünf-Prozent-Hürde, wer unterschlägt gern verweisend auf Weimar
Unsrer wie viele, ja rät laufend zur Wahlabstinenz?

(Änderungen vorbehalten! Letze Änderungen 02-10-2013)

- Eingehenderes zu Xenie bzw. Distichon: Versmaß und Betonung
Orakel von Delphi

Creative commons lizenzvertrag
Xenien zur Bundestagswahl 22.09.2013 von oAnth stehen unter einer Creative Commons Namensnennung-NichtKommerziell-KeineBearbeitung 3.0 Deutschland Lizenz.
Über diese Lizenz hinausgehende Erlaubnisse können Sie unter erhalten.


oAnth, 07.08.2013:

August 10 2013

Rewire: the Francophone Community on Cosmopolitanism and Serendipity

The book “Rewire: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection“ written by Ethan Zuckerman, co-founder of Global Voices, examines why the extraordinary potential for communication that technology brings doesn't necessarily translate into stronger connections between people. In “Rewire”, Zuckerman describes in particular the important role translators play in facilitating a better understanding of world events in context.

“Rewire” explains that despite the remarkable progress that has been made in information technology, with the entire world accessible to us in one click, the fact remains that the web that we use is still unintegrated and limited to those spheres with which we are most familiar.

Rewire: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection by Ethan Zuckerman

Rewire: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection by Ethan Zuckerman

In order to resolve this problem of self-segregation, Zuckerman proposes a few steps to “reconnect/rewire the web”. One of these suggestions is to encourage the discovery of new spheres of thinking by following what he refers to as “bridge figures” or “curators”.

One of the concept that Ethan Zuckerman discusses in depth is serendipity. He argues that our consumption of content on the internet tends to revolve around the same media outlets. To expand our intake of news online, we need to allow  serendipity to guide us towards a more diversified media consumption.


The concept of serendipity is not easy to define. It is what happens when we make new discoveries through a confluence of fortunate events. Many important scientific achievements have been serendipitous, such as the invention of penicillin, the Post-it, the Rosetta Stone, and Velcro.

The Rosetta Stone in the British Museum, discovered accidentally by a French soldier during the Napoleonic Campaign in Egypt - Wikipédia CC-BY-NC

The Rosetta Stone in the British Museum, discovered accidentally by a French Stoldier during the Campaign in Egypt carried out by Napoleon Bonaparte – Wikipedia CC-BY-NC

Hubert Guillaud, editor-in-chief of, a website dedicated to news, current events, and innovations on the World Wide Web, wrote the following comment on an article by Christian Faure: “How to quickly know what you don't know:” [fr]:

J’aime aller dans les librairies que je ne connais pas et quand elles me perdent, c’est-à-dire quand je ne reconnais rien de ce que je connais dans leur rayon, alors je me dis qu’elle semble intéressante. Je vais souvent au rayon des essais et mon plus grand plaisir est d’y découvrir ce que je ne connais pas et plus il y en a, qui semble de qualité, et plus ça m’intéresse en fait ou plus je considère la librairie. Ca ne signifie pas qu’en faisant ainsi on ne procède pas pour autant par induction, effectivement. Nous avons tous une tendance forte à l’induction, mais peut-être plus parce que nous avons toujours un avis singulier (par essence), une première impression, qu’une expérience multiple. J’ai même tendance à penser que concevant le monde ainsi, nous avons forcément tendance à construire des outils dans lesquels nous nous reflétons ou qui voient le monde tel qu’on le voit. Nos outils d’agrégation, nos outils de personnalisation ont tendance à voir le monde par la lorgnette où on le regarde

I like to go to unfamiliar bookstores, and when I get lost in them, meaning, when I don't recognize anything on the shelves…that's when it get's interesting. I often go to the essay section and my greatest pleasure is to discover something previously unknown to me. The more quality new material I discover, the more my interest is piqued, and in fact I hold the store in even higher regard. This doesn't actually mean that by doing this that one doesn't end up drawing general conclusions any way. We all are predisposed to draw larger conclusions, but perhaps we do this more because we each have our own unique point of view (essentially), a first impression, rather than a varied experience. I even have a tendency to think that viewing the world like this, we inevitably tend to create tools through which we reflect ourselves and our way of seeing the word. Our web aggregation and personalization tools have a tendency to see the world through the prism of our perspective.

Sylvie Catellin, an associate professor of information technology and communication, explains how serendipity is an important factor in all discoveries and is also a “tool of reflexivity” [fr] that gives rise to the conditions for it to occur:

L’intuition scientifique est définie comme une idée unifiante ou clarifiante, laquelle surgit dans la conscience en tant que solution d’un problème qui préoccupe intensément le chercheur. Elle survient de manière inattendue, de quelque étrange univers extérieur, lorsque l’on est absorbé par des problèmes urgents ou bien pendant le sommeil.  Parmi ces conditions, il faut notamment retenir le profond désir de savoir, le stock de connaissances en mémoire reliées au problème, le sentiment de liberté, l’aptitude à briser la routine, la discussion du problème avec d’autres chercheurs [..]  C’est peut-être justement lorsque les scientifiques réfléchissent à leur expérience de la créativité et de la sérendipité que les sciences dites « dures » sont les plus susceptibles d’entrer en dialogue avec les humanités, les arts, les sciences humaines et sociales, devenant plus réceptives à leurs discours et à leurs approches. La réflexivité (en supplément à la sérendipité) implique la liberté et l’émancipation par rapport aux dogmatismes épistémologiques.

Scientific intuition is seen as one unifying or illuminating idea, which comes about as a solution to a problem that engrosses the researcher. It emerges unexpectedly from some strange parallel universe, while one is consumed by pressing problems, or sleeping. In these conditions, it is essential to have the following: the profound desire to know the answer, the arsenal of memorized facts that are related to the problem, a sense of freedom, the ability to break through routine, the discussion of the problem with other researchers [...] It is perhaps precisely when scientists reflect on their experiences of creativity and serendipity that the so-called “rigid” sciences are most likely to find common ground with the humanities, the arts, the human and social sciences, becoming more receptive to their speeches and their approaches. It is there that reflexivity (in conjunction with serendipity) involves freedom and breaking free in the face of dogma and epistemology.


Cosmopolitanism is a concept that is fairly limited on the French-speaking Web. In the most general sense, it indicates an interest in foreign populations and countries. What this definition leaves out is the fact that the concept of cosmopolitanism also embraces the idea of belonging to a community of origin that has its own unique qualities. It is often discredited as a utopian concept, those who believe in the idea of a global citizenry are often in favor of a world that is unified on the basis of collaboration rather than competition.

This ideological approach to the world is not Zuckerman's aim. Instead, he emphasizes the need to become conscious of our narrow consumption of media and to open ourselves to other spheres of thinking in a progressive manner.

Rodrigue Coutouly, contributor on the French-language website Les échos, notes that in light of the growing complexity of human societies, [fr] it would perhaps be wise to try to open oneself as much as possible to diversity:

Il est devenu impossible de comprendre de l'extérieur, des organismes ou des sociétés humaines travaillés par des enjeux de plus en plus complexes et contradictoires, ayant accumulé des compétences et des modes d'actions foisonnants et d'une grande diversité.[..] La masse sans cesse renouvelée d'informations brutes finit en effet pour empêcher toute tentative cohérente d'analyse lucide des événements, elle renforce les stéréotypes et ne permet pas une compréhension distanciée, elle n'autorise aucune prise de hauteur, de prise de recul, dans le temps et dans l'espace.[..] (Il est primordial) de relier le particulier au général, le local au global.

It has become impossible to understand things from an outside perspective. To examine organizations, or societies that are challenged by increasingly complex and conflicting issues, after having built up a multitude of skills and modes of behavior and a great deal of diversity. [...] The perpetual stream of uncurated news ends up preventing any coherent attempt to analyze events. It reinforces stereotypes and does not allow for objective understanding. There is no room for a broader perspective or taking a step back in time and space. [...] (It is instinctive) to draw conclusions from the specific to the general; from local to global.

German Sociologist Ulrich Beck, who coined the term “risk society” and who and advocates for a cosmopolitan society, argues for a new face [fr] of cosmopolitanism:

Le cosmopolitisme est la prise de conscience du destin commun qui lie désormais toutes les parties du monde dans le partage des mêmes risques. [..] Il ne s’agit donc pas là d’un cosmopolitisme qui vient d’en haut comme celui incarné par les Nations unies ou par la Cour internationale de justice. Cela ne veut pas dire non plus que tout le monde devient cosmopolite, amateur de diversité culturelle ou polyglotte, ou que nous sommes tous conscients de ce phénomène. Cela signifie simplement qu’il y a de fait une cosmopolitisation qui vient d’en bas et qui change notre vie quotidienne, notre mode de consommation, notre vie politique, ou nos relations à l’intérieur même de nos frontières nationales. On peut parler en ce sens d’un « cosmopolitisme banal ». [..] Le risque global peut être l’une des forces aptes à produire des institutions cosmopolitiques capables de surmonter les intérêts appréhendés seulement à l’échelle nationale. Car les gens et les États peuvent apprendre qu’il faut résoudre les problèmes nationaux dans une société cosmopolitique. Cette perspective cosmopolite est réaliste ; c’est le nationalisme qui dans ce contexte est idéaliste : il regarde en arrière et n’apporte pas de vraies réponses aux sociétés.

Cosmopolitanism is the awareness of a common destiny that, from this moment on, unites all parties of the world in sharing the same risks. [...] Therefore, it is not a question of a cosmopolitanism that is imposed by some authority, as embodied by organizations such as the UN or the International Court of Justice. Nor does it mean that the world is becoming cosmopolitan and more accepting of cultural diversity and increasingly polyglot, or that we are all more aware of this shift. It simply means that there is in fact, a cosmopolitan movement that is emerging from the ground up and that is changing our everyday lives, our habits as consumers, our political lives, even how we view things within our own borders. You can sort of call it an “everyday cosmopolitanism” [...] The overall risk may be one of the forces that is capable of producing cosmopolitan institutions that can overcome those interests normally understood only on the national level. Because people and countries can learn that national problems need to be resolved in the context of a cosmopolitan society. This cosmopolitan perspective is in fact realistic, it's nationalism in this context that is idealistic. It looks to the past and doesn't offer any real solutions to societies.

August 06 2013


Bundestagswahl 2013 - 40 plus: Apathie und Resignation als Methode und Erbe der DDR-Sozialisation lassen sich problemlos mit den Vorgaben neoliberal orientierter Medienkonzerne in Einklang bringen:

1) Wer sich inhaltlich außerhalb der vorgegebenen Argumentationslinie und eines allgemein verbindlich angesehenen Lebensstils profiliert, wird massenpsychologisch stillschweigend ausgelesen und findet sich unversehens in einer von der überwiegenden Mehrheit unrealistisch bzw. unhaltbar extremistisch bewerteten Außenseiterposition wieder.

2) das Kalkül zur Mehrheitsbeschaffung setzt als Teil der Wahlkampfstrategie auf das Scheitern an der 5%-Hürde kleiner inhaltlich Neues riskierender Parteien und baut auf eine möglichst niedrige Wahlbeteiligung, woraus folgt, dass aus der Sicht von Frau Merkel jegliches Aufsehen im Wahlkampf zu vermeiden und inhaltlich diskutierbare und ins Detail gehenden Aussagen zu politisch brisanten Themen strickt aus dem Weg zu gehen ist, was selbstredend alle im Wahljahr 2013 virulenten Fragen u.a. zum Verlust des Europagedankens, der Meinungsfreiheit, zur Bedrohung und rechtlichen Enteignung der Privatsphäre, desgleichen zur Energiewende, zur Rechtsentmündigung durch Arbeitsverträge, zur extremen Schere in der Einkommensentwicklung, ferner zu ökonomischen und sozialpädagogischen Fragen bei der Kinderbetreuung, bei Schul- und Berufsausbildung, bei Fragen zur Wissenschaftsethik mit einschließt.

3) Zu den medial als lenk- bzw. kalkulierbar eingestuften Wähler/Inne-n, die für die Wahl der Volksparteien in Frage kommen, zählen gemeinhin diejenigen, die dem Status Quo nichts entgegenzusetzen haben oder dies in irgendeiner Form als erstrebenswert halten könnten; es kommen ferner all diejenigen hinzu, die sich, aus welchen Gründen auch immer, grundsätzlich bei ihrer Stimmabgabe vorab auf eine Partei, das heißt auf eine der 4 Volksparteien (einschl. der Grünen), festlegen;

Aus den 3 hier aufgeführten Prämissen lässt sich als Zielsetzung bzw. Wahlprognose unschwer ausmachen,

a) dass sich an Person und Regierungsstil im Kanzleramt koalierend allein mit der SPD, oder in der Trias mit der SPD und den Grünen (wohl kaum mehr mit der FDP), so gut wie nichts ändern wird;
b) dass jede Partei in der Koalition dem bisher innenpolitisch und außenpolitisch eingeschlagenen europafeindlichen und wirtschaftspolitisch neoliberalen Weg nolens volens mitzutragen hat. Sie hat sich dabei inhaltlich, will sie die Koalition mit der CDU/CSU ernsthaft eingehen, auf den unweigerlichen Verlust der von wem auch immer zu verantwortenden Glaubwürdigkeit gegenüber ihrer Wählerschaft einzurichten;
c) dass durch Inanspruchnahme einer medial verhängten Omerta dafür gesorgt ist, dass sich in der aktuellen Situation die Piratenpartei unter keinen Umständen der 5%-Hürde nähert, und es diesbezüglich nicht etwa zu einer Parteiabsprache zwischen der Partei Die Linke und den Piraten kommt [sic]; nur für den Fall, falls beide Seiten eine Vereinigung ihrer Kandidaten mit entsprechenden inhaltlichen und personellen Vereinbarungen für die kommende Legislaturperiode im Rahmen einer gemeinsamen Wahlliste anstreben sollten - meines Wissens ließe sich dergleichen zumindest in den skandinavischen Ländern entsprechend handhaben.

- Den genannten wahltaktischen Prämissen haben sich dank unterstützender Präsenz der Medien alle Volksparteien, einschließlich der Grünen, in enger Übereinstimmung mit den medial vermittelten Vorgaben des Kanzleramts zu fügen; dem Interesse des Kanzleramtes ist es, wie gesagt, dienlich, gänzlich ungeniert eine möglichst geringe Wahlbeteiligung zu erzielen, was die Position der Kanzlerin hinsichtlich der Mehrheitsverhältnisse im Bundestag stärkt; dergleichen kann sich zwar nicht im Einklang mit den Interessen der Grünen, der FDP und der SPD (wohl auch nicht der CDU/CSU als Partei) befinden, aber genannte Parteien bestimmen bekanntlich weder Themen, argumentative Tiefe, noch Tempo des Wahlkampfs, die alle drei schon seit Beginn der Ära Merkel in Abstimmung mit dem Kanzleramt in den versierten Händen der Medienkonzerne der Familien Mohn und Springer liegen, deren strategische Kompetenz wohlweislich in beratender und unterstützender Funktion auf das beieinflussbare Wahlverhalten der politsch am geringsten Versierten im Lande abzielt; wobei sich bisher bei dieser Art medial gezielt inhaltsleer versprechender, nationale Untertöne evozierender und persönliche Freiheitsrechte hintanstellender Einwirkung auf die Massen, die Stimmen der zuletzt Genannten als Mehrheits-Garant für Kanzleramt und Regierungsbildung erweisen.

oAnth . Muc 2013-08-06

July 25 2013

Alle regierenden Parteien wussten dies und müssen sich über die langfristig verhehrenden politischen und entwürdigenden Konsequenzen klar gewesen sein, wohlweißlich, ohne darüber jemals dem Volk Rechenschaft gegeben zu haben; die sogenannte Kanzlerakte und die himmelschreiende Tatsache, dass sich einige CDU/CSU-Abgeordnete am Anbeginn der Regierungszeit Willy Brandts zu einer geheimdienstlich agierenden Einheit als parlamentarischer Ableger des BND bzw. BAVerfS erklärten (die Einheit bestand bis zum Amtsantritt Helmut Kohls), gibt jene zynisch-anbiedernde Haltung der deutschen politischen Klasse zu erkennen, die sich bis heute nahtlos fortsetzt.    

July 11 2013

France Sees Shades of its Revolutionary Past in Turkey's Revolt

The recent unrest in Turkey has left eight dead and more than 4,000 injured as well as exposed political divides and ineptitudes in the country that straddles Europe and Asia.

But the consequences of the massive protests, which grew from a movement to stop the destruction of Istanbul's Gezi Park for a redevelopment project in Taksim Square, have extended far beyond the borders of Turkey.

Members of the European Union, led by Germany, have used these clashes as an excuse to postpone negotiations on Turkey's entry into the European Union from late June until autumn. The website Cameroonvoice [fr] specified:

La chancelière Angela Merkel a déclaré la semaine dernière que les événements en Turquie ne correspondaient pas aux “notions européennes de la liberté de réunion et d’expression”.

The Chancellor Angela Merkel declared last week that the events in Turkey do not correspond to “European ideas of freedom of assembly and expression.”

At the same time, the events in Turkey seem to have generated questions about identity in France and throughout Europe tied to the prospect of Turkey's entry into the European Union. The French are asking themselves variations of, “Do we share the same values?”

Erdogan Twitter

Erdogan: The demonstrations are Twitter's fault, by khalid Albaih on Flickr, CC by-nc-sa/2.0

Not so different? 

Many French media outlets have based their analyses of the EU matter on the events of June in Turkey, trying out a number of different analogies. As if this large neighbour, who might soon become part of the family, and its revolts offered the French a mix of complete exoticism and familiar reality. As Henri Goldman writes on his blog [fr]:

Un peu partout, on compare Taksim à Tahir, le Printemps turc au Printemps arabe. Sur les images qui circulent, ce sont les mêmes couches sociales,– étudiants, classes moyennes instruites… – qui tiennent le haut du pavé. Celles-ci nourrissent leurs aspirations à partir du kit culturel cosmopolite qui se diffuse par internet et constitue désormais le bagage commun des courants « branchés » des sociétés en transition. Le mode de mobilisation aussi les rapproche : des mots d’ordre lancés à travers la toile et qui essaiment en réseaux sans quartier général où n’importe quelle consigne est reprise pour autant qu’elle réponde à l’attente, indépendamment de qui la lance.”

Everywhere, Taksim is being compared to Tahir, the Turkish spring to the Arab spring. In the images making the rounds, we see the same social groups – students, educated middle classes… – leading the field. They feed their ambitions with the cosmopolitan cultural kit spread over the Internet and which now forms the stock ideas of the “fashionable” schools of thought in societies in transition. The means of mobilisation brings them together too: slogans begun on the Internet which spring up in networks without headquarters, where any instructions are repeated so long as they correspond to expectations, no matter who starts them.

Others, particularly in France, have seen the protest as a new “May '68“, referring to the Paris social revolution of 1968, sometimes in a desire to identify with the protesters. Chems Eddine Chitour's blog [fr] does just that:

“Les médias occidentaux pensaient et pensent  que le dernier «domino» allait tomber. Ils ont présenté cette colère comme celle d’une Turquie ultralaïque qui en a marre de l’AKP et tout est fait pour forcer l’analogie avec les places Tahrir et partant avec les tyrans arabes. Pas un mot d’une analogie avec mai 1968 en Europe au sortir des trente glorieuses bâties sur la sueur des émigrés. Quand Daniel Cohn-Bendit et ses camarades avaient mis à mal le gouvernement de De Gaulle ce n’était pas pour du pain comme la plupart des révoltes dans les pays arabes, mais c’était pour secouer un ordre ancien en interdisant d’interdire…”

Western media outlets thought and think that the last ‘domino’ was going to fall. They have presented this anger as that of an ultra-secular Turkey, fed up with the AKP, and the analogy with Tahrir Square and the doing away with Arab tyrants is pushed to its limits. Not once has the analogy been drawn with May 1968 in Europe, at the end of the so-called golden years, built on the sweat of immigrants. When Daniel Cohn-Bendit and his fellow students took action against De Gaulle's government, it was not because they were starving, like most of the uprisings in Arab countries, but to shake up an old order by not allowing it to suppress them…

The European Parliament officially condemned the brutal repression of the demonstration. But Ex-Expat [fr] commented on a France 24 article which describes the ongoing demonstration:

Les seuls Européens en Turquie sont ceux au Taksim et leurs sympathisants!”

The only Europeans in Turkey are those in Taksim Square and their supporters!

A video showing the protesters in Taksim Square singing “Do you hear the people sing?” taken from the musical Les Misérables about the Paris uprising of 1832, demonstrates the link between the protesters and Europe:

From Gezi Park to Turkey's EU integration

Taksim ist überall

“Taksim ist überall!” – “Taksim is everywhere!” Hamburg, Germany, 8 June, 2013. By Rasande Tyskar on Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0

The “European values” Angela Merkel spoke of are the values picked up by online media outlets, sliding almost systematically from the subject of the Gezi and Taksim demonstrations to that of Turkey's integration into the EU. Franck Proust [fr], a member of the European Parliament for the French UMP Party, reiterated the position of the French right-wing. Coralie Morallet explains [fr] on the regional  news website Objectif Gard (Southern France):

Un accord de partenariat: oui, mais l’adhésion à l’Europe : Non! La Turquie n’a rien d’européenne. Nous ne partageons pas la même culture, ni les mêmes racines judéo-chrétiennes, ni les mêmes aspirations politiques“

A partnership agreement: yes, but accession to Europe: no! Turkey is not European. We don't share the same culture, nor the same Judeo-Christian roots, nor the same political aspirations.

A comment from Joël Toussaint [fr] responded:

L’Europe partage des racines judéo-chrétiennes qui ont été plantées… en Turquie! Le premier Concile de Nicée date de 325 et le premier Concile de Constantinople fut tenu en 381. (…) L’arrogance trouve sa racine dans l’ignorance… M. Proust saute à pieds joints sur le prétexte que lui fournit Erdogan et met ainsi le pied dans le plat. Il procède à un exercice d’amalgame entre le peuple turc et ses dirigeants. La démagogie politique dans toute sa splendeur!”

Europe shares Judeo-Christian roots which were sown… in Turkey! The first Council of Nicea was in 325, and the first Council of Constantinople took place in 381. (…) Arrogance is rooted in ignorance. Mr. Proust jumps feet first into the pretext given by Erdogan, and ends up putting his foot in it. He is conflating the Turkish people with their leaders. Political grandstanding in all of its glory!

The majority of comments were very pessimistic [fr] as to the outcome of the integration process:

(…) Vouloir absolument européaniser le digne successeur de l’empire ottoman est une vue de l’esprit, une vision idyllique de la future Union européenne. Ce n’est pas parce 5% de la population adhère aux idées et valeurs de l’UE que les 95% d’anatoliens vont le faire, ni parce que Constantinople est devenu Ankara que la mentalité des dirigeants ottomans  – kémalistes ou islamistes (modérés ?), a changé.”

solidarity occupygezi Wroclaw

Demonstration of solidarity with #OccupyGezi in Wroclaw, Poland. By David Krawczyk on Flickr – CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

(…) Insisting on europeanising the worthy successor of the Ottoman Empire is an illusion, an idyllic vision of the future of the European Union. Just because 5 percent of the population adhere to the ideas and values of the EU doesn't means that 95 percent of Anatolians will do so. Just because Constantinople has become Ankara, it doesn't means that the mentality of the Ottoman leaders – whether Kemalist or (moderate?) Islamist – has changed.

But there are some who turn the spotlight on the values shared with the protesters themselves across European borders: against police violence, arbitrary detention of protesters and journalists, and for freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. As Cameroonvoice [fr] affirmed:

De l’Azerbaïdjan au Sénégal tout le monde compatit avec les manifestants de la place Taksim, pas avec Erdogan”, conclut Hakan Günes, professeur de politologie à l’université de Marmara.”

“From Azerbaijan to Senegal, everyone sympathizes with the protesters in Taksim Square, not with Erdogan”, concludes Hakan Günes, Professor of Political Science at the University of Marmara.

And the more that Turkey's Prime Minister's Recep Tayyip Erdoğan turns to conspiracy theories [fr] to denounce the influence of the European Union, Western media, social networks (especially Twitter), the more he risks isolating himself on the world stage. It is ironic, then, that it it is precisely with regards to the fear of the other and conspiracy theories that Sema Kaygusuz, a Turkish writer [fr], sees similarities between Turkish and American societies:

La Turquie est un pays où tout le monde a peur de l’autre. Les Kémalistes ont peur des islamistes, les islamistes ont peur des laïques, les femmes ont peur des hommes, les enfants ont peur des adultes… C’est la mentalité américaine : on est toujours en danger.”

Turkey is a country where everyone fears the other. Kemalists fear Islamists, Islamists fear secularists, women fear men, children fear adults… It's the American mentality: we are always under threat.

July 01 2013

Hypocrisy all around and why industrial espionage is not comparable to mass surveillance :

Hypocrisy all around and why industrial espionage is not comparable to mass surveillance:

While I happily keep giving the #USA the bashing they deserve about mass #surveillance of citizens, you won't hear me cast the first stone about industrial #espionage – for well-known reasons.

While direct evidence of my own country's industrial espionage activities rarely surfaces, we sometimes hear echoes of what goes on under the tables – take for example the testimony of Orbital High-Technology Bremen (#OHB) CEO, Berry #Smutny to the US Embassy in Berlin ( on 2009-11-20:

Smutny frankly said “#France is the evil empire stealing technology and #Germany knows this”, but Germany´s decentralized government is not willing to do much about it. Going on at length of his despise of the French, Smutny said French IPR espionage is so bad that the total damage done to the German economy is greater the that inflicted by China or Russia.

Sure, this quote being in the context of sales by OHB to the US government, it is likely to be biased toward exaggeration – but such open expression of defiance from very close allies of France is nevertheless a strong hint that righteous outrage from French sources about industrial espionage is laughably hypocritical.

In addition, industrial espionage should be kept in perspective : it is not even comparable to mass surveillance – let's not dilute the evil of mass surveillance by amalgamating it with industrial espionage ! While corporate actors are strong enough to thrive on their own in a state of information warfare, citizens are not – they need political diligence toward a strong framework of laws and regulations consistent with human rights and ensuring adequate protection of the rights to privacy and freedom of expression:

June 30 2013

June 28 2013

Composer's Ode to Turkish Protesters

German musician Davide Martello performed live during the protests in Istanbul's Taksim Square.

This track is dedicated to the Soldiers of Light, the victims of this insane violence by the turkish government. Composed during the protests in Istanbul two weeks ago… live in the crowds on Taksim Square.

That's how the musician describes his composition which is available for download on Soundcloud.

June 19 2013

An Open Letter to the Cultural Foundation of the Republic of Germany

Safia Dickersbach (@ArtsSafia) challenges a new programme dedicated to foster “German-African cultural relations”:

3. The Kulturstiftung claims to support the new African initiatives in the area of contemporary and innovative art. But on the other hand:

a. Africans are not allowed to apply for the funds directly.

b. The African partners are only allowed to apply together with an institutional partner in Germany. The funding guidelines reveal the reason to this: “The German partner, as the project coordinator, has to assume responsibility for ensuring that all funds are expended as contractually agreed upon with the Federal Cultural Foundation.” In other, simpler, words: The Africans are not trustworthy.

April 12 2013

Three Options for Cyprus to Escape the Financial Crisis

The small island of Cyprus continues its race against bankruptcy. Following the European decision to tax all depositors, [fr] the Mediterranean republic faces a critical situation. Three options are emerging for the island: to carry out an agreement with Europe, to turn to Russia, or to declare bankruptcy and leave the Eurozone.

Origins of the crisis

This crisis arose after a significant loss in assets of the Popular Bank of Cyprus and the Bank of Cyprus, from the March 2012 debt restructuring plan in Greece. After which the two Cypriot banks found themselves obligated to seek recapitalization in capital city Nicosia [fr].

Private-sector solution?

Greek banks are closely tied to Cyprus. The Bank for International Settlements, [fr] or BIS, estimates the Greek banks’ investments in Cyprus to be up to 12.6 billion euros. This amount is about 28% of all Cypriot banks’ investments. Given this already high participation of Greek banks in the Cypriot private sector,  it rules out the possibility of further participation from the private sector in the island's recovery plan.

Les bureaux de Bank of Cyprus à Aglandjia via wikipédia CC-BY-2;0

The offices of the Bank of Cyprus at Aglandjia, via Wikipedia CC-BY-2;0

So, if Cyprus could contribute from its banks the sum of 7 billion euros, refused to them by Europe, out of the 17 billion euros which it owes, Europe would be obligated to give one more time to Greece [fr], further weakening the country. A renegotiation, particularly in the plan of the troika, would be risky. This is also partly why the Greek economy is affected by tax on deposits.

Furthermore, organizing a private-sector intervention in Cyprus might be frowned upon by investors. It should not be forgotten that “the Greek case” is expected to remain unique. Otherwise, it would be tempting for other countries now experiencing a complex economic situation, such as Spain, Italy or Portugal, to seek private-sector assistance as well.

The consequences of this would be irrevocable. For the market to finance vulnerable states would become complex, even impossible, and restructuring of public debt for other countries, and of the European Central Bank, would loom dangerously on the horizon. In fact, regarding the deposits, this is another “unique case” which Europe hopes to create.

The Social Democratic Party of Germany [fr], or SDP, wants to make an example of Cyprus, in order to stop the vote in favor of European aid in the Bundestag [fr], which is essential to Chancellor Angela Merkel. So, aid for Cyprus is not likely to occur without the support of the Bundestag. The SDP sees a reserve of money in Cyprus which is noted to be of Russian origin, and suspected to belong to the “mafia”. The private sector intervention did not really hit the wallet of Russia, so the European solution should focus on deposits. Since Cyprus refused to accept a drain of deposits more than 10%, so as not to ruin the reputation of its economic system, it was necessary to broaden its tax base, and to spread the impact across all depositors, including residents. But this could still be enough to push Cyprus into the abyss. This is why it rejected the European plan.

At this point, Cyprus finds itself faced with several possibilities. Given the intense reactions in Europe, and especially in Cyprus, during recent days, some of the European decision-makers seem to want to backtrack, regretting their original choices. We see attempts to reduce the participation of Cyprus in its own bailout. However, Europe may not accept an attempted renegotiation. The debate about the complete participation of the ESM (European Stability Mechanism) [fr], which oversees 5.8 billion euros in aid, still remains.

Alliance with Russia

The second solution would be for Cyprus to ally itself with Russia. Indeed, Putin wants to defend Russian assets on the island, asking, in exchange, for large concessions on gas, Russian military facilities, not to mention the recent discovery of an oil deposit off the island. Russia could repurchase Cypriot banks [fr], notably the Laïka Bank, the second-largest banking establishment on the island, in order to save 2.5 billion euros in recapitalization. Russian aid would probably be complementary to European aid, and undoubtedly there would not be any actual rupture between Cyprus and the Eurozone. For its part, Russia would gain significant influence in strategically important Cyprus. The island would safeguard the interests of Moscow in Europe, but would risk creating some problems in the future.

But Russia is apparently in no hurry to make a decision. Andrei Kostin, director of VTB Bank [formerly the Vneshtorgbank], announced on March 21 that his institution was not at all interested [fr] in buying bank assets on the island:

Sur place, il y a deux banques dans une situation critique qui ont besoin d'être assainies. Il serait absurde de prétendre que nous aurions un intérêt là-dedans. Notre seul intérêt, c'est de retrouver au plus vite la faculté d'effectuer les paiements et de gérer les comptes de nos clients.

First, there are two banks in critical condition that would need to be cleaned up. It would be absurd to suggest that we would have an interest in those. Our only interest is to regain the ability to make payments as quickly as possible, and to manage the accounts of our clients.

And he added that his bank would need to:

arrêter son activité et quitter purement et simplement le marché chypriote” en cas de “décisions violant le droit, dictées par la politique.

 cease its activity entirely, and simply leave the Cypriot market” in the event of “decisions which violate the law, dictated by politics.

Last resort – Bankruptcy

Finally, Cyprus can opt for the extreme but inevitable solution, if Russia and Europe deliver no proper support – bankruptcy. Then, recapitalization in Cyprus would be accomplished by banks issuing money.

That would mean leaving the Eurozone [fr], instituting strict controls over the flow of money, and blocking current accounts during the period of conversion to the new Cypriot currency. The island would be ruined, and its financial credit would be permanently damaged. This would be followed by a period of economic reconstruction under complex circumstances. And for the Eurozone, it would be a failure, and a disturbing precedent.

The final agreement reached in Brussels, with the intention to dismantle the largest bank of the country, and to tax bank deposits greater than 100,000 euros, is an ineffective hybrid solution, according to American economist Tyler Cowen:

 What will the price of a Cypriot euro be, relative to a German euro?  50%?  I call this Cyprus leaving the euro, but keeping the word “euro”, to save face.

March 25 2013

Attention! Baby on Board: An Interview With a Travelling Blogger Family

An interview with The Family Without Borders: Anna and Thomas Alboth, parents, travellers and bloggers who've been around the Black Sea and around Central America with their two small daughters.

In 2010, a young couple from Berlin – Anna, a Polish journalist, and Thomas, a German photographer – decided to live on their globetrotting dream – and they decided to do it with their 6-month-old daugther Hanna on board. With a fully-packed Renault Espace they made a half-a-year-long road trip around the Black Sea, through the Caucasus to the Caspian Sea. The idea worked out so well that in 2012, already with their second daughter Mila, they travelled in Central America from Mexico down to Guatemala, Belize and Honduras.

From their first trip on they decided to share their unusual experiences through their blog, The Family Without Borders [en; Facebook]. The interest turned out to be so significant that in 2011 the blog was named the Best Travel Blog by the Polish edition of the National Geographic.

Global Voices (GV): Let’s imagine 25 years forward. Your daughters have their own children and want to go travelling with their babies. What is your reaction?

Mexico (yukatan), Holbox Island. Picture used with the permission of Thomas Alboth. Copyright: Thomas Alboth

Mexico (Yukatan), Holbox Island. Photo © Thomas Alboth, used with permission.

Anna (A): I hope it will be this way. Recently, we've had some discussions about parents, kids and grandkids and how it all can change. We were a bit afraid that maybe they will choose a totally other way of life than we did and that it would be hard to accept it if they would start saying things like, “I want to go to a hotel.” But on the other hand, the more they grow up the more I feel that I’m scared that something can happen to them, all these mother-ish things.

Thomas (T): I would have wanted it. But I’m also not so sure if they will like this lifestyle, I have friends who grew up in a community flat and then they turned into the opposite. I’m also pretty happy to be completely different from my parents. So maybe one day they will stay in a hotel, will have nice rolling suitcases and that’s ok.

GV: You received the National Geographic title for the Best Travel Blog in 2011. Why do you think your blog became so successful?

A: I think it was two things. First, we didn’t plan for it to be big, so we were just doing what we liked, and I think these things are always going bigger when you just do what you love. We have known all these travel bloggers who had business plans, but for us it was basically writing for the grandparents, so that they could see Hanna safe and smiling. That was the beginning. After a while we started to check the statistics and we saw that people from 20, 40, 50 countries were visiting the blog, and we were like, “wow”. There is this generation of young Europeans who are studying abroad, travelling, making international couples and they think that if they have kids it will be all over. I think when they see what we did, they see hope that it all really doesn’t have to be over.

The whole family in their flat in Berlin. Photo by Kasia Odrozek

The whole family in their flat in Berlin. Photo by Kasia Odrozek

GV: Did you have a clear work division: who is writing, who takes pictures and so on?

A: Yes, we had clear divided tasks. It happened that I made some pictures but not often, normally the camera was in his hands all the time. I was writing the posts, Thomas wrote maybe two posts in these three years. For the blog he does all the technical things and I do all the human communication work. And on the road Thomas usually drives and I usually tell him where we are going [laughing]. The whole thing works when we are doing it together. A couple of weeks ago, he was in Burma and I was in Palestine and we didn’t post anything on the blog, and it felt strange.

GV: Would your experience be different without the blog?

A: For me having the blog was very motivating to get more knowledge about everything. On the second trip, I was writing in a much more journalistic way, so I was noting many more things, asking for more context while talking to people, taking leaflets in museums and so on. I don’t know if I would do all of this without knowing that I will publish it.

T: I was a bit jealous, because writing means reprocessing, while editing pictures is not the same experience, you don’t need more knowledge, you don’t have to understand the situation to make a picture.

At Lake Sevan in Armenia. Photo © Thomas Alboth, used with permission.

At Lake Sevan in Armenia. Photo © Thomas Alboth, used with permission.

GV: What is your favorite memory when you look back at your travels?

T: More than a memory it is a feeling of being self-paced, that you decide about your own life. When you stay in one place you get into this daily rhythm, you get up, grab a coffee in the morning, you take a tram or metro and you go to your office, and 80 percent of your day is predictable. That’s what I liked about the trip, for a half of the year you decide what you want to do.

GV: Was there a moment when you thought, “This was a mistake”?

A: There was one such moment when I was scared and I thought that all these people saying that we were irresponsible parents were right. It was the night at a hotel in Guatemala where we saw three big men with guns passing by the corridor, talking angrily on the phone. We had to do something to feel better, so we asked them if they were dangerous. We didn’t speak too much Spanish but, luckily, we knew the word peligroso, dangerous. They answered “yes, but not for you and not here.” Then we learned that in Guatemala everybody has guns because they hadn’t been disarmed after the civil war.

GV: You say that your travels were about people and their stories. What was the craziest thing you heard or experienced?

T: If you come from a different world, even just the way people live their everyday lives seems interesting and sometimes strange.

The family has a hard time to say goodbye to their hosts in Guatemala, Chilasco Waterfall. Photo © Anna Alboth, used with permission.

The family has to say goodybe to their hosts in Guatemala, Chilasco waterfall. Photo © Anna Alboth, used with permission.

A: During the second trip, in Guatemala, we were hosted by a Mayan family in their small house with plastic chairs and a TV. After we talked to them, they were surprised, but not by the fact that we were travelling for so long – but that we could live without a TV for so long. Then in the evening, when I started to cut potatoes for a soup, all these small girls immediately started to help me because that’s what they do, they do everything together. When we were leaving, they were asking when we would come back and it was heartbreaking, we wanted to say that we would call but they didn’t have a phone, they wanted to write a letter but they didn’t know how to write.

GV: Any plans for the future?

A:We have to go on a trip again, of course. But before we do it, I need to finish my book on Central America, then we will go travelling again.

On March 26, 2013, The Family Without Borders will share their pictures and stories at a slideshow presentation at the Globetrotter shop in Berlin. For more details, please visit their blog or Facebook.

March 10 2013

Taiwan Denies Entry to Anti-Nuke Visitor Ahead of Protest

A German man who marched in an anti-nuclear protest two years ago [zh] in Taiwan was detained at Taiwan's international airport and denied entry [zh] into the country on March 8, 2013, a day before protesters planned to hold a large-scale anti-nuclear demonstration there.

Daniel Andres Helmdach is scheduled to be deported from Taiwan, a suspected consequence of his participation in an anti-nuclear demonstration in Kaohsiung on April 30, 2011 [zh] while he was in Taiwan working as a volunteer on conservation projects.

This is not the first time that Taiwan has zeroed in on the participation of foreigners in anti-nuclear activities in Taiwan, where the recent construction of the fourth nuclear power plant in Taiwan has been met with strong criticism because of security concerns. Two Japanese people from Fukushima were warned by the country's immigration office [zh] immediately after they gave a speech at an anti-nuclear demonstration on April 30, 2011.

Daniel helped to collect rubbish along the coastline of Tainan in 2011. Image from Rui-Kuang Huang's Facebook.

Image from Rui-Kuang Huang.

The country's premier, Yi-Hua Chiang, has called for a referendum to be held on the construction of the Fourth nuclear power plant in August 2013.

After becoming aware of Helmdach's detention, Helmdach's friend Rui-Guang Huang put out a call for help on his Facebook page:


Our good friend arrived in Taiwan this evening for sightseeing. His entry was rejected at the Tauyuan International Airport because he joined our environmental education observation activity two years ago in Taiwan. To our surprise, he was targeted and is now prepared for deportation without any notice in advance.

Legislator Shu-Fen Lin called the head of the immigration office and requested them to explain the deportation of Daniel. The immigration office said [zh] that the National Security Council made the decision in 2010 that should a foreigner conduct anything not described in his or her visa, the person would be denied entry to Taiwan three years.

Helmdach worked as a volunteer in Taiwan for one year during 2011 through arrangements made by the International Culture Youth Exchange (ICYE). Rui-Guang Huang explained the nature of Helmdach's volunteer work at that time:


He helped the Linluo church’s communication reconstruction project after Typhoon Morakot and joined the surveillance activities of the waste on the beach and related nature conservation activities. He worked very hard in Taiwan and fulfilled his responsibility as an international volunteer. He cooperated with us and helped complete our projects. He did not conduct anything unseemly.

After the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan, Daniel studied issues related to nuclear power and walked with his friends from the Community College in Tainan City during the anti-nuke demonstration [zh] in Kaohsiung on April 30, 2011. Soon after the demonstration, special agents visited the Community College in Tainan City and the Tainan branch of ICYE, but they did not mention anything about Daniel's involvement in unlawful activities.

March 06 2013

Activists Worldwide Mourn French Author Stéphane Hessel

Writer, human rights advocate, and French resistance fighter Stéphane Hessel, whose bestselling manifesto on peaceful uprising inspired the disenchanted of Europe and the United States to organize into protest, died on the night of February 26, 2013. He was 95.

Hessel came to the worldwide recognition with the 2010 publication of his short pamphlet ”Indignez-vous!” (Time for Outrage!), which quickly became a publishing phenomenon – the work has sold some 4.5 million copies in 35 countries including China and been translated into 34 languages. The manifesto became the bedrock of global protests, including Spain's Indignants movement and the international Occupy movement.

Following the news of his death, more than 500 people paid homage to him at the Place de la Bastille in Paris. A peaceful march is planned on March 7, 2013, the day of his funeral.

A man who spoke meaningfully in simple words, Hessel sought to impart optimism to a disillusioned generation. He was the quintessential European, starting with his birth in Berlin, then his childhood in Paris, and right up to his latest European tour presenting and commenting on his book “Time for Outrage”. Hessel says that he found out what being European meant in the Buchenwald concentration camp, where he had been deported in 1944 for acts of resistance:

Cette expérience m’a ouvert politiquement. Nous étions là, solidaires, à partager un douloureux quotidien entre des milliers d’Européens. Il y avait là un brassage, une génération qui a inventé un monde nouveau dans son opposition au nazisme.

This experience was a political awakening. There were a thousand of us, fellow Europeans, sharing a very painful lot, and supporting each other. It was a melting pot, a generation whose opposition to Nazism had given rise to a new world.

He became a diplomat with the United Nations and worked for development aid, making the fight for human rights his daily struggle. But it was after his retirement in 1983 that he fought his most outstanding battles. Called upon to defend the rights of undocumented foreigners in France in the 1990s, he also gained attention for defending the right of self-determination of peoples, alongside the Sahrawi and the Palestinians. He explained his point of view [fr] to Philosophie Magazine:

J’ai le sentiment d’appartenir à l’histoire des Juifs, d’autant que la Shoah m’a touché de près. Je me suis enthousiasmé pour le sionisme et la création d’Israël. Mais je ne partage pas le repli d’une partie de la communauté juive. Je déteste l’entre-soi communautariste. Depuis 1967, je refuse la politique de colonisation et de territoires occupés par Israël. Gaza est une prison à ciel ouvert.

I feel that I am a part of Jewish history, especially having been so personally affected by the Shoah. I was enthusiastic about Zionism and the creation of Israel. But I do not share the inward-looking attitude of a certain part of the Jewish community. I abhor self-centered isolationism. Since 1967, I have rejected the settlement policy and the occupied territories of Israel. Gaza is an open-air prison.

Today this pro-Palestinian stance has earned him severe posthumous criticism from the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France [fr].

He penned “Time for Outrage!” in 2010, a 32-page pamphlet promoting non-violent uprising, which would become a source of inspiration for hundreds of thousands of activists around the world [fr]:

Aussi, appelons-nous toujours à une véritable insurrection pacifique contre les moyens de communication de masse qui ne proposent comme horizon pour notre jeunesse que la consommation de masse, le mépris des plus faibles et de la culture, l'amnésie généralisée et la compétition à outrance de tous contre tous. A ceux et celles qui feront le XXI ème siècle, nous disons avec notre affection : CRÉER, C'EST RÉSISTER. RÉSISTER C'EST CRÉER.

So, let us all commit to a truly peaceful insurrection against mass media, whose only offer to our youth is mass consumerism, contempt for the weak and for culture, widespread amnesia and merciless competition pitching everyone against everyone else. To those who are going to create the 21st century, we say, with all our affection: TO CREATE IS TO RESIST. TO RESIST IS TO CREATE.

Hessel believed that society must always push itself to be better. In December 2010, he confided to Le Monde des Religions (The World of Religions) [fr]:

Nous ne sommes nous-mêmes que lorsque nous essayons de nous dépasser, lorsque nous ne nous contentons pas de l’acquis.

We only come into our own when we seek to surpass ourselves, when we are not satisfied with what has already been achieved.

Hessel understood well the social and ideological leanings of the younger generations and the opportunities opened up by modern means of communication and information. What he saw was the possibility for the young activists to consolidate their revolt [fr]:

Je constate avec plaisir qu’au cours des dernières décennies se sont multipliés les organisations non gouvernementales, les mouvements sociaux […] qui sont agissants et performants. Il est évident que pour être efficace aujourd’hui, il faut agir en réseau, profiter de tous les moyens modernes de communication.

I am pleased to note that over the past few decades, more and more active and efficient NGOs and social movements have appeared [...] These days, it seems quite clear that in order to be efficient we need to network and make the best use of all modern means of communication.

And thus, demonstrators in France, Spain, Greece, Italy, and Portugal throughout 2011 and 2012 began to call themselves The Indignants, or in the case of New York, Occupy Wall Street, in line with Hessel's writing. The pamphlet also found a significant place in the recent uprisings against dictatorial regimes in the Arab world.

A video posted on YouTube on February 27, 2013 honors Hessel, combining readings of his appeals to the younger generation in English, French, and German with footage of demonstrations all over Europe:

In Spain, some have wrongly labeled Hessel as the “father” of the 15-M movement, where his book has lent a name, notoriety, and media coverage to activists going under the name of “Los Indignados“. Juan-Luis Sanchez commented [es] on the connection between Hessel and the 15-M movement:

La aportación más importante de Hessel al 15-M fue la de transmitir, con su edad y trayectoria política, un tipo de credibilidad que los grandes medios necesitaban para poder hablar de las movilizaciones en calle sin sentir que daban voz a lo que caricaturizaban como un latido antisistema. [...] Su palabra, “indignación“, fue un regalo: un ejemplo perfecto para la nada y el todo a la vez. Para esa militancia inclusiva que usaba términos que no dejaran a nadie fuera.

Stephane Hessel's main contribution to the 15-M movement is that, due to his age and political career he has conferred a necessary credibility to mainstream media, so that they may speak of citizen mobilization without having the impression of giving voice to what they caricature as being a wave of anti-system sentiments [...] the word “indignation” was a gift : a perfect example of everything and nothing all in one, for this all-inclusive activism using expressions that leave nobody out on the cold.

The German online magazine called Hessel the “ideological father” of global protest in a headline [de]:

Der 95-jährige Stéphane Hessel war der ideologische Vater der demokratischen Aufstände weltweit. Von Arabellion bis Occupy Wallstreet kamen die Menschen seiner Aufforderung nach Entrüstung und Einmischung

At 95, Stephane Hessel was the ideological father of the pro-democratic rebellion that shook the world. From the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street, people have answered his call for insurgence and commitment to a cause.

Hommage des Indignés à Marseille- Photo anonyme partagée sur facebook Par millions rendons hommage à Stéphane Hessel

Homage of the Indignants in Marseille. Photo shared on the Facebook page One million to pay hommage to Stéphane Hessel

ALL JUX wrote on his blog [fr]:

Stéphane Hessel a réveillé l'esprit critique, le sens humain et la raison. Il a encore su initier le mouvement d'indignation politique qui se répand sur les continents en publiant un tout petit livre par le nombre de ses pages mais d'une puissance sans mesure par la portée de ses propos.

Stéphane Hessel has awakened critical awareness, human sense, and reason. He has also implemented a worldwide movement of political indignation by publishing a book: a very small book, going by the number of pages, but containing powerful comments of immeasurable impact.

Portuguese blogger Helena Araujo described why youth should listen to Hessel in her blog 2 dedos de conversa [pt]:

Indignez-vous! Engagez-vous! – é a consciência do século XX que nos fala, a voz de um homem livre que atravessou o pior e o melhor que o século passado nos legou”

Get Angry! Get Involved! – the conscience of the 20th century is talking to us, the voice of a free man who has lived through the best and the worst of what the last century has bequeathed us.

Rassemblement en mémoire de Stéphane Hessel à Bastille (Paris) le 27/02/2013- Photo de Célia Bonnin pour Par millions rendons hommage à Stéphane Hessel

Gathering in memoriam of Stéphane Hessel at Bastille (Paris) on 27/02/2013- Photo by Célia Bonnin for the facebok pageOne million to pay hommage to Stéphane Hessel

On the Facebook page Par millions rendons hommage à Stéphane Hessel [fr] (One Million Pay Homage to Stéphane Hessel), Rüdiger Bender expressed his gratitude:

Wir denken voller Dankbarkeit an Stéphane Hessel …dankbar für ein Leben exemplarischer Menschlichkeit und tapferen Engagements für die unantastbare und gleiche Würde aller Menschen … dankbar für seine Fragen und Anstöße und noch mehr für seine Ermutigung für uns und sein Vorschußvertrauen auf uns: dem gilt es nun gerecht zu werden.

We owe a debt of recognition to Stéphane Hessel…recognition for a life of exemplary humanity and courageous commitments in favor of the inviolable and equal dignity of all human beings…recognition for his questioning and motivation and even more so for his encouragement and trust in us:  it is now up to us to rise to the challenge.

On the Facebook page en Hommage à Stéphane Hessel [fr], Sweekitt Carlson exclaimed:

Un résistant est mort, pas la Résistance!

A resistance fighter is dead, but Resistance is not!

A petition requests his entering in the Pantheon in Paris [fr] (where distinguished dead French citizens are kept):

Nous souhaitons ardemment que la pédagogie civique et la mémoire collective témoigne de l’importance de l’esprit de résistance. Parce qu’avec Stéphane Hessel, c’est une vie consacrée à l’intérêt général et au service d’une certaine idée de la France qu’il s’agit d’honorer.

We fervently hope that our civic awareness and collective memory bear witness to the importance of the spirit of resistance. Because in the case of Stéphane Hessel, it means honoring a life devoted to the well-being of all and in the service of a certain idea of France.

[This text was written with the help of contributions by Pauline Ratzé, Paula Goes, Katrin Zinoun and Thalia Rhame.]

March 01 2013

Eine allzu lange unterschätzte Gefahr

Olaf Sundermeyer erzählt in seinem Buch „Rechter Terror in Deutschland“ eine erschreckend lange „Geschichte der Gewalt“.

zu Olaf Sundermeyer: Rechter Terror in Deutschland. Täter, Opfer und der hilflose Staat.
Verlag C. H. Beck, München, 2012.

Rezension von H.-Georg Lützenkirchen (28.02.2013)

Der Skandal des Umgangs mit rechter Gewalt in Deutschland liegt darin, dass diese Gewalt lange Zeit überhaupt nicht angemessen wahrgenommen wurde. Gerne wurde sie kleingeredet, es war dann von wahlweise bedauernswerten oder erschreckenden Einzelfällen die Rede, oft wurde ein rechtsextremer Hintergrund nicht wahrgenommen und die Tat ging als ‚normale‘ Gewalttat in die Statistik ein. Eine verfehlte Extremismustheorie, die rechte und linke Gewalt gerne gleichsetzte, verhinderte zudem den Blick auf die spezifischen Bedingungen rechter Gewalt in Deutschland. Nicht auf dem rechten Auge blind war der Staat, er war schlicht nicht informiert.

Entsprechend groß war der Schock, als 2011 die rechte Terrorgruppe „Nationalsozialistischer Untergrund“ (NSU) eher zufällig aufgedeckt wurde. Über zehn Jahre war das Trio Uwe Mundlos, Uwe Bönhardt und Beate Zschäpe sowie das sie unterstützende rechtsextreme Netzwerk unerkannt geblieben. In dieser Zeit verübten sie mehrere Gewalttaten, zwischen 2000 und 2006 ermordeten sie in verschiedenen Städten neun Menschen, allesamt Menschen mit Migrationshintergrund. 2007 erschossen sie in Heilbronn eine Polizistin.

Warum? Olaf Sundermeyer leitet sein Buch „Rechter Terror in Deutschland“ mit der Antwort eines ehemaligen NPD-Funktionärs ein: „Die haben ja das umgesetzt, von dem die meisten anderen in der Szene nur träumen, weil sie selbst zu feige sind, es ihnen gleichzutun. Aber grundsätzlich sehnen viele eine Endlösung für Ausländer herbei.“ Denn Rechtsextremisten fühlen sich in einer „permanenten Notwehrsituation“. In ihrer Logik sind ‚Ausländer‘ Beweis für eine bedrohende Überfremdung; Linke und andere „Gutmenschen“ leisten dieser Überfremdung Vorschub und bedrohen damit zudem die „weiße Rasse“. Überall Bedrohung, gegen die man sich mit Taten statt Worten wehren muss. „Und Taten“, so schreibt Sundermeyer, „sind Gewalttaten“. Sie gehören zum Rechtsextremismus – den Sundermeyer als eine Ideologie beschreibt, „die von der Ungleichwertigkeit der Menschen ausgeht und Gewalt als Mittel der Politik sieht“. Diese Ideologie, so stellt Sundermeyer klar, speist ebenso die rechtsextremen Terrortaten wie „beispielsweise die Politik der NPD“. Die Ziele sind die gleichen, nur dass die NPD sie zuweilen mit „strategischer Rücksicht auf die Anerkennung, die sie für Wahlen benötigt“, zurückhaltender formuliert. Dankenswert klare und richtige Aussagen, die der Autor hier trifft.

Sundermeyers „Geschichte der Gewalt“ beginnt in den 1980er-Jahren. Als markantes Datum steht das „Oktoberfestattentat“ in München, bei dem am 26.September 1980 13 Menschen ums Leben kamen – unter ihnen auch der mutmaßliche Attentäter. Bis heute ist der Hintergrund dieses Anschlages nicht vollständig aufgeklärt. Spuren führen aber zur „Wehrsportgruppe Hoffmann“. Deren ehemaliger „Chef“ Karl Heinz Hoffmann ist nach wie vor in der rechten Szene aktiv. Sundermeyer berichtet von einem bizarren Besuch bei Hoffmann, der ihm die „wahren Hintergründe“ des Attentats in München zu erläutern versucht. In Hoffmanns Wehrsportgruppe waren jedenfalls viele, die mit Gewalttaten auffielen. Der Autor nennt sie alle. [...]

Reposted from02mysoup-aa 02mysoup-aa

February 27 2013

Germany: Twitter's First Local Blocking Case

In February 2012, Twitter introduced a policy that enables individual tweets and accounts to be blocked on a country-by-country basis. If a government submits a court order to Twitter, asking for a tweet or account to be blocked, Twitter will comply. But the blocking will only occur in the country in question — to users throughout the rest of the world, the affected content will look no different.

Screenshot of @hannoverticker page

Screenshot of @hannoverticker page


This past October, Twitter enacted this policy for the first time to block tweets from the account of the German extreme right-wing group, Besseres Hannover (@hannoverticker). The  German government has formally banned and seized the assets of the group, and some of its members have been charged with inciting racial hatred and creating a criminal organization. The group is also suspected to have sent threatening video messages to Aygul Ozkan, a German-born conservative politician of Turkish origin.

The group announced that it would challenge the blocking in court, but as things stand, Twitter’s move to block the group’s tweets was in accordance with local German law –- something Twitter needs to comply with in order to be able to operate in the country.

Twitter’s general counsel, Alex MacGillivray, announced the issue on Twitter and linked to a copy of the request from German police to block the @hannoverticker account in Germany. Consistent with Twitter’s previous statement regarding its use of technology and reluctance to withhold content, the Twitter account of Besseres Hannover was not deleted — it was merely made inaccessible in Germany.

The case presents a good example of how Twitter will use this new policy, especially in the face of international criticism, which Twitter faced when it first announced this shift. The “one country only” ban has the advantage of ensuring that tweets are not deleted outright.

This case alone does not, however, address all concerns regarding this policy. Germans who wish to get around the ban could probably go through virtual private networks (VPNs) – a technique commonly used in countries like China. At the same time, in the case of critical tweets of dissidents — as occurred during the Arab Spring – while the tweets would have been available internationally, they would not have been able to reach their countries’ local populations. While Twitter's policy is certainly more rights-protective than one that would block the tweets altogether (an alternative that would lead to far more censorship in specific countries), it still limits speech that may be important to local and national-level interests or movements.


This post is a modified version of a post that originally appeared on the Oxford-based research blog Free Speech Debate.

February 22 2013

Wenn Minister Persönlichkeitsrechte verletzen

Dass der bayerische Innenminister keine gute Figur macht, ist nicht neu. Neu ist vermutlich aber, dass er die Rechte einer Bürgerin direkt und unmittelbar durch seine Aussagen verletzt.

Über die junge Frau, die unlängst in München Opfer von brutaler Polizeigewalt wurde, hatte Innenminister Herrmann im Landtag behauptet, bei ihr habe bereits vor Monaten einmal eine vorläufige Unterbringung in der Psychiatrie im Raum gestanden.

Wenn diese Behauptung wahr ist, handelt es sich hierbei um die Preisgabe einer sensiblen Information aus der Privatssphäre der Frau und damit um eine schwerwiegende Persönlichkeitsrechtsverletzung. Sollte die Aussage unwahr sein, wäre zudem eine üble Nachrede gegeben.

Ungeachtet dessen stellt sich natürlich die Frage, was uns der Minister mit dieser Information eigentlich sagen will. Dass Polizeigewalt eher zu tolerieren ist, wenn sie sich gegen psychisch Kranke richtet?

Jetzt hat hier auch keine Privatperson gehandelt, sondern ein Minister im Rahmen seiner Amtsausübung. Und das macht die (zivilrechtliche) Persönlichkeitsrechtsverletzung zugleich zu einem Grundrechtseingriff. Es ist daher mehr als verständlich und auch dringend notwendig, wenn jetzt die Wellen hochschlagen.

Nur unwesentlich besser sind die Aussagen des Abgeordneten Florian Herrmann – der mir als Anwaltskollege aus Freising bekannt ist – der den Anwalt der jungen Frau der Lüge bezichtigt.

In Bayern drängt sich einmal mehr die Schlussfolgerung auf, dass der Fisch vom Kopf weg stinkt. Der Filz wird schlicht und einfach zu dick, wenn eine Partei irgendwo zu lange regiert. Und das gilt allgemein, unabhängig von der Couleur.

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