Monthly Archive for May, 2005

The Blogosphere At Frankfurter Rundschau

German newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau regularily posts about the blogworld’s reaction to current world events, politics, journalism, changes in society and its relationship to technology:

Frankfurter Rundschau online

Stranded

What to do when you boot up your computer and there’s no internet connection? Two days ago, our phone line went dead for an hour, after that internet was down until a few minutes ago. If you didn’t change your DSL settings, the hardware doesn’t smell or look charred, the software is untouched, then there’s not much one can do: Sit tight and wait. Telekom customer support can check basic DSL availability, so that’s what I did and called them. The storm yesterday night must have broken something since there are outtages all over the country. If you’re lucky and have alternative internet access (a modem or an IT cafe around the corner), take a look at this website next time. Currently there are still some people in my area having DSL blackouts.

The Forgotten Soldiers

Japan Times and Asahi report a surprising story about “forgotten” soldiers. The last time Imperial army soliders were found was in the 70ies – I think they even made a movie about it, but can’t find it at IMDb right now. I found Hell in the Pacific, but that one’s slightly different.

Mountain men in Philippines likely World War II soldiers

Three Projects

I’ve been working on three new projects since wednesday which left little room for writing. The first project was indirectly related to my stay in Japan five years ago. I was so lucky to be supported by the DAAD, without the scholarship, I would have never laid foot on Japanese soil. Some time ago, I found out that there are several alumni organizations in Germany and made contact with two of them. The local group consisted of one active person, but we managed to meet with four former scholarship holders who live in the area. During the first meeting, I offered to help with the technical stuff and that’s how I came to make this. A standard Mambo installation with little content, but that’s hopefully going to change. I didn’t work with Mambo yet, but the first impression was very positive, easy installation, intuitive interface, an internal structure that serves lots of individual tastes – aside from the rather spotty documentation, but the forum makes up for it. The main goal was to create a working site with basic news, poll, forum and calender capabilities as quick and easy as possible. You’ll notice the recycled header image. The only thing that’s bugging me is that useless toolbar on top, I’m not sure yet how to get rid of it – it’s part of a service that provides the subdomain and doesn’t actually have to be retained.

The other two projects are still on a test server, as soon as they’re publicly available I’ll drop a note.

To Boldly Go Where…

…no Man (machine) has gone before: Voyager I is about to leave the solar system after 28 years of travel:

NASA – Voyager Enters Solar System’s Final Frontier

A Girl?

7th sonogramWe were at the doctor’s today. My wife is in her 21st week and it was time for a ultrasound checkup. We asked the gynecologist to keep the answer to the big question to herself, as we chose not to spoil the fun with the search for male and female names, so she didn’t show us – but my wife thinks it’s a girl. What you can see on the picture is the head, torso, right leg and a part of the umbilical cord. The doctor wanted to take the picture when it’s looking into our direction, but the kid ignored us. We could watch the picture being projected on the ceiling, but it was difficult to tell how big it is. The doctor measured the body, it’s 21 cm now (that’s 8.26 inch for the people not blessed with the metric system) and kicking and moving like there’s a party going on and everybody’s invited. My wife doesn’t feel anything yet, but that’ll change soon. I can’t wait for 9th October, but I hope the baby takes all time it needs in there.

Anonymous Blogging

Since people have lost their jobs over blogging, I thought I look around and see what you can do to protect

  1. your privacy
  2. your basic right of freedom of speech

I found two websites that explain in quite simple terms how anonymous blogging can be done:

AnonBlog
EFF

The latter has a few other interesting links. In some countries, weblogging can even lead to people being put into prison. There’s a list of webloggers who have been detained, freed or threatened in various countries. If you speak German, take a look at Teheran Bytes, a blog written by Nahid Siamdoust, reporter for TIME Magazine in Tehran.

UPDATE:
Here are two more useful links…

Private Blogging Wiki
taint.org: Anonymous blogging made simple

The Turnout Report

Düsseldorf’s office for statistics and elections published their report (185 pages) about the Diet parliamentary elections a few minutes ago here.

Update:
The ratio of male to female delegates at the SPD was 43 to 31, CDU 78 to 11, FDP 9 to 3 and Green Party 6 to 6. As far as I know, no other party than the Green established full gender equality in their party manifesto.

The highest turnout was in Essen (area IV) with 72,7%, the lowest one in Duisburg III with 51,8%. The number for Düsseldorf, my area: 65,5%. The SPD recieved the highest percentage in Unna III – Hamm II with 55,9%, the lowest in Paderborn I with 21,3%. The CDU in contrast was most popular in Paderborn I 65,2% and only 28,3% in Cologne III. In the latter electorate area, the Green Party revieced their highest percentage with unbelievable 18,6%. Paderborn is obviously the conservative stronghold in NRW, I’d like to know why…

This election could not only have consequences for all of Germany, but also for the European Union. The close friendship between the French and German government is partly based on the relationship between Chancellor Schröder and President Chirac – with a CDU-led government in Berlin, this important pillar will vanish in thin air.

Yesterday was Yesterday

It looks like Chancellor Schröder’s strategy to deviate the voters’ attention from the outcome of the election to the big question of the CDU/CSU “K-Frage” (who is going to be the conservatives’ candidate in the upcoming election?). News at 9. a.m. this morning reported first about the advance of the national election, the outcome of the Diet election in NRW was secondary already. Prime Minister of Hesse Roland Koch has been quoted that It’s not a big surprise that we want to go into the campaign with Mrs Merkel as our candidate, the leaders of the CDU/CSU (Christian Social Union) will hold a joint session later this day. The CDU doesn’t have a manifesto for the election, so they’re under pressure to pass many internal compromises (between CDU and CSU). This might lead to new quarrels and weaken the opposition. As I wrote yesterday, Schröder has no alternative – beside that he seems to be convinced that against a candidate like Mrs Merkel, in direct comparison, he might have a better chance (49% vs 21%). Also, German magazine Stern reports that Lower Saxony Prime Minister Christian Wulff would be a more promising candidate than Angela Merkel. Yet, Mr. Wulff said “No” when asked whether he’d like to run for office, but that could change quickly, if the prospects are good enough.

Local radio, Antenne Düsseldorf, reported that the CDU gained 13% with workers and unemployed. Also, looking at the results below, the Green Party and Liberals both recieved less votes than in 2000 – since the tune of the campaign of CDU was in the spirit of change, this seems to have hurt the smaller parties as well. The FDP lost one of its popular local political leaders, Jürgen Möllemann and didn’t build up new faces fast enough. The Green Party didn’t recover yet from the Visa Affair earlier this year.

The interim results of the election in NRW:

Diet election on 22.05.2005

number %
eligible voters 13 239 170 100,0
voters 8 334 561 63,0
invalid votes 91 189 1,1
valid votes 8 243 372 100,0
therefrom
SPD 3 059 074 37,1
CDU 3 695 806 44,8
FDP 508 354 6,2
Green 509 219 6,2
REP 67 282 0,8
PDS 72 982 0,9

Diet election on 14.05.2000

number %
eligible voters 13 061 265 100,0
voters 7 409 399 56,7
invalid votes 72 988 1,0
valid votes 7 336 411 100,0
therefrom
SPD 3 143 179 42,8
CDU 2 712 176 37,0
FDP 721 558 9,8
Green 518 295 7,1
REP 83 296 1,1
PDS 79 934 1,1

At noon, the office for statistics and election is going to publish a PDF-file with all relevant information.

Candidates, Manipulations and Wikipedia

CDU und SPD: absolute (dark color) and relative (light) constituency gainsLast update for today. As you can see, the major constituencies for the SPD were in the Ruhr Area, a metropolitan area (actually the most dense population area in Europe) and still the SPD stronghold in NRW. The rest of the state chose CDU this time, but it will probably take the SPD longer than the coming legislative period to retake it.

On another note, factor menos reports about a Reuters that the German Wikipedia entries for Jürgen Rüttgers and Peer Steinbrück have suspiciously many changes in the last days. German magazine Spiegel Online wrote about it, too. Taking a closer look, there are 50 changes only for today, but also revisions by other Wikipedia users – the encyclopedia cleans itself, as usual.

Last extrapolation update for today (it’s almost midnight): It’s identical to my former post. I guess the numbers won’t change much anymore.

Good fight, good night.

"Between Ingeniousness and Harakiri"

I just watched Tagesthemen at ARD. Ulrich Deppendorf, program director of WDR commented on the election Chancellor Schröder’s strategy to advance the national election is somewhere between ingeniousness and harakiri. I think it’s the former not only because there’s simply no alternative: Since it will be harder to run the country, the government would go down in flames and slowly lacerate itself – a political stalemate is the worst that can happen to any government. Also, Chancellor Schröder challenges the opposition, they have to act now and show that they’re fit for government. First they’ll have to agree on one candidate: Germany might elect its first female Chancellor (Mrs. Angela Merkel) this fall, but there’s still the possibility that one of her rivals tries to take over (as happened before the last national election). Another side effect is that people won’t be talking long about the election in NRW and more about the upcoming national one. A risky move, but the SPD is cornered.

updated extrapolation at 10:44 p.m.:
CDU 44,8% +7,9% and 89 seats
SDP 37,1% -5,7%            74
Green 6,2% -0,9%          12
FDP 6,2% -3,7%             12
others 5,7% +2,4%

The CDU's Plans for NRW

Excepts from the CDU program for NRW:

“Initiative for more economic growth and reduction of bureaucracy:

  • rejection of anti-discrimination law and against “Green” gene technology
  • 1:1 conversion of federal and EU laws
  • elimination of SPD-Green “commissary inflation”

Also, the CDU wants to initiate a law against heads scarfs by teachers in public schools and several laws in regard to universities and school education. The CDU also plans to support start-up enterprises by lowering legal obstacles and increase Public-Private-Partnerships. Another main point is the creation of 1,000 new traineeships (elderly nursing). They also plan to improve several laws for child care, re-introduce equestrian police squads, increase controls against graffiti (how is not clear though) and grow 100 avenues in NRW.”

updated extrapolation:
CDU 44,6% +7,6% and 86 seats
SDP 37,6% -5,2%          72
Green 5,8% -1,3%          11
FDP 6,3% -3,5%          12
others 5,7% +2,4%

Full Frontal Attack

The election in NRW has an impact on national politics which is indeed unprecedented in Germany. If Chancellor Schröder really wants to advance the national election to fall 2005 he’ll have to overcome another obstacle: First his party will have to issue a motion of no-confidence against his government, which will have to succeed, then the Bundestag will be dissolved within three weeks (article 68 of the basic law), a new election will then be held within 60 days. There’s no alternative to Prime Minister Schröder in that case, this move is indeed a bold, full frontal attack.

Update: The SPD won’t issue the motion of no-confidence alone, but reaches out to the CDU, if they want advanced elections, all parties together will have to vote against the government. Interesting move.

The First 200 Days

reaction by voters and campaigners at the CDU branch office (source: dpa)What’s happening next? The CDU will form a coalition with the FDP, we’ll how they’ll try to solve problems like unemployment in NRW. For poor students, it’ll become more difficult to study at all, the CDU already announced to easen dismissal protection – read their program for the first 200 days here.

The SPD and the Green party combined have less seats than the CDU in parliament.
N-TV asked the future NRW Minister of Economics and Labour how much they want to lower the unemployment rate. His response was that he won’t answer that question in detail and specify any numbers, since “others already got into a scrape before with that” – hinting to Chancellor Schröder’s statement at the beginning of his government in 1998 that he doesn’t deserve to be reelected if he can’t lower the employment rate drastically (I think he said he wanted to decrease it by half). Anyway, some numbers for you:

CDU 44,1% +7,1% and 85 seats
SDP 37,4% -5,4%     73
Green 6,1% -1,3%     11
FDP 5,9% -3,7%     12
others 6,6% +2,2%

The NRWSPD reports in their own weblog here.

National Elections in 2005?

Mr Rüttgers gave his first statement after the first extrapolations, translation courtesy by me:

“We knew the surveys were good, we mobilized our voters, 10,000 people alone in the NRW team, the halls were full, the seats were full, the Red-Green government has to go. And therefore I thank everybody, everybody at home and here in our branch office.

I know that the voters put confidence in us, gave us a mandate that NRW comes back, in the following five years with a coalition of the middle. To create security, for the unemployed, for the ones who are afraid to loose their work, for the women to help them to combine work and family – our policy will make NRW a state of a new chance. […] If we continue to fight as we did in the past weeks, I’m confident we will suceed.”

A big surprise: The SPD or more exactly, Mr. Müntefering, the SPD’s chairman, thinks about advancing the national election to this year’s fall. Since they just lost the election in NRW, this is really a blowoff. Chancellor Schröder is fighting back.