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by Euro Reporter
2013-10-31 11:27:36
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Germany wants a German Internet as spying scandal rankles

As a diplomatic row rages between the United States and Europe over spying accusations, state-backed Deutsche Telekom wants German communications companies to cooperate to shield local internet traffic from foreign intelligence services. Yet the nascent effort, which took on new urgency after Germany said on Wednesday that it, had evidence that Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone had been monitored, faces an uphill battle if it is to be more than a marketing gimmick. It would not work when Germans surf on websites hosted on servers abroad, such as social network Facebook or search engine Google, according to interviews with six telecom and internet experts. Deutsche Telekom could also have trouble getting rival broadband groups on board because they are wary of sharing network information.

More fundamentally, the initiative runs counter to how the Internet works today - global traffic is passed from network to network under free or paid-for agreements with no thought for national borders. If more countries wall themselves off, it could lead to a troubling "Balkanisation" of the Internet, crippling the openness and efficiency that have made the web a source of economic growth, said Dan Kaminsky, a U.S. security researcher. Controls over internet traffic are more commonly seen in countries such as China and Iran where governments seek to limit the content their people can access by erecting firewalls and blocking Facebook and Twitter. "It is internationally without precedent that the internet traffic of a developed country bypasses the servers of another country," said Torsten Gerpott, a professor of business and telecoms at the University of Duisburg-Essen.

"The push of Deutsche Telekom is laudable, but it's also a public relations move." Deutsche Telekom, which is 32 percent owned by the government, has received backing for its project from the telecoms regulator for potentially giving customers more options. In August, the company also launched a service dubbed "E-mail made in Germany" that encrypts email and sends traffic exclusively through its domestic servers.

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US ambassador to Germany summoned over Merkel phone monitoring claims

For the second time in less than a week, the American ambassador to a major European ally has been summoned by that country's Foreign Ministry to explain published reports of surveillance by American intelligence.  The German Foreign Ministry confirmed Thursday morning that it had summoned U.S. Ambassador John B. Emerson to meet with Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle in the wake of allegations that American intelligence may have targeted Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone.  Fox News is told Emerson will be informed of Germany's displeasure "in no uncertain terms."  German officials emphasized to Fox News how unusual this is. In any previous cases of displeasure with Washington, the session would have been handled at a lower level than the German foreign minister would. One official said this kind of treatment usually is reserved for Syria and Iran.  German officials are not saying, if they even know, how long the surveillance on Merkel's phone went on for -- but they did indicate that they know more about it than what they read in the open press. The German government "would not have come out with the statements it has if there were not a basis for it," one German official said, adding that the episode has led to "a serious breach of trust" because the monitoring of a foreign head of state poses grave issues of violation of sovereignty, an intrusion into "the most inner sanctum of governance." 

The officials noted the statement in Wednesday's briefing by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney that "the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of the Chancellor" -- flagging the fact that Carney did not address past behaviour.  Merkel complained to President Obama on Wednesday after learning of the suspected targeting, and said that would be "a serious breach of trust" if confirmed, her government announced.  The White House denied that the U.S. is listening in on Merkel's phone calls.  The German government said it responded after receiving "information that the chancellor's cell phone may be monitored" by U.S. intelligence. It wouldn't elaborate but German news magazine Der Spiegel, which has published material from NSA leaker Edward Snowden, said its research triggered the response.  Merkel spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement the chancellor made clear to Obama in a phone call that "she views such practices, if the indications are confirmed ... as completely unacceptable."  Merkel said among close partners such as Germany and the U.S., "there must not be such surveillance of a head of government's communication," Seibert added. "That would be a serious breach of trust. Such practices must be stopped immediately." 

In Washington, White House spokesman Jay Carney said "the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of the chancellor."  Merkel raised concerns over electronic eavesdropping issue when Obama visited Germany in June, has demanded answers from the U.S. government and backed calls for greater European data protection. However, Wednesday's statement was much more sharply worded and appeared to reflect frustration over the answers provided so far by the U.S. government.  Merkel called for U.S. authorities to clarify the extent of surveillance in Germany and to provide answers to "questions that the German government asked months ago," Seibert said.  On Monday, the U.S. ambassador to France, Charles Rivkin, was summoned to the French Foreign Ministry to discuss a report published by the newspaper Le Monde that the National Security Agency had accessed the phone records of over 70 million French citizens over a 30-day period. 

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Music of Germany's migrant workers revived in new compilations

The song Deutsche Freunde (German Friends) by Ozan Ata Canani starts with a furious riff on the electric saz, a traditional Turkish string instrument. Its refrain, sung in German, is a quote by the Swiss writer Max Frisch, summing up the ambivalence with which German-speaking countries met Gastarbeiter, or guest workers, from southern Europe: "We asked for workers. We got human beings instead." In the 1970s and 80s, the song was a hit among Turkish expat workers in Germany – now it is practically unknown. Canani, who arrived in North-Rhine Westphalia from Turkey as 12-year old in 1975, is part of a generation of migrants whose hard work – as steel workers, bin men or musicians – got little recognition. But things may be changing: two compilations released this week pay tribute to the cultural contribution made by the first wave of migrants to Germany. While Songs of Gastarbeiter concentrates on music made in Germany by Turkish-born artists, Heimatlieder aus Deutschland (Folk Songs from Germany) casts its net even wider.

Based on a sold-out concert at Berlin's Komische Oper earlier this year, it collects the songs of Vietnamese workers' choirs, Portuguese fado, marrabenta from Mozambique and Cuban salsa. The only criteria were that songs had to be found in modern Berlin and originate in a country that used to have a guest-worker agreement with West or East Germany. Mark Terkessidis, one of the curators of the Heimatlieder project, remembers tracking down a Vietnamese workers' choir at the Dong Xuan supermarket in the Lichtenberg area of Berlin. "Our jaws just dropped. There's a real lack of genuine feelings in modern music, but these songs had a really raw emotional edge." To Imran Ayata, the German-Turkish novelist who helped compile Songs of Gastarbeiter, the trend is indicative of a wider shift in attitudes towards multiculturalism: "Germany has no choice but to reinvent itself. The days of the homogenous state that would occasionally decide to open or close its doors is over. "And one way to achieve this reinvention is to rediscover the forgotten achievements of the first wave of migrants," Ayata said.

"We celebrate the achievements of second-generation migrants like [Arsenal football player] Mesut Özil, [novelist] Feridun Zaimoglu or [film-maker] Fatih Akin as if they've come out of nothing. "But there were creative struggles and achievements among the first generation too". Ayata and the musician Bülent Kullukcu, spent a year and a half leafing through their relatives' record collections to track down retired artists from Turkish expat labels such as Türküola and Minarici. Ozan Ata Canani's Deutsche Freunde had to be pulled back into the studio, because all the original recordings had got lost. "I hated Turkish folk music when I was a child," said Ayata, who preferred listening to Fugazi and The Smiths instead. "But when I sat down with an old record by a forgotten artist like Ali Avaz, I was like: 'Wow, what a beat'." His compilation brings together more traditional sounds with less familiar hybrids such as Derdiyoklar's Anatolian disco folk, Cem Karaca's dive-bar rock and Asik Metin Türköz's anarcho-pop.

Germany's first wave of migrants were dubbed "guest workers" mainly because the expectation was that they would eventually leave again. In August this year, previously unseen documents revealed that Helmut Kohl had planned to halve the population of Turks in Germany in 1982. As part of this plan, the state even funded the preservation of folklore traditions in migrant communities – to stop the new arrivals from feeling too much at home. More recently, policy has switched to a focus on a programme of "cultural integration" – a strategy that is just as far off the mark, said Terkessidis. "When it comes to migration, Germany nowadays doesn't need to translate foreign cultures, it needs to rediscover them in the first place," said Terkessidis, who is Greek-German. "It's about ending our ignorance." When David Bowie lived in Berlin, said Terkessidis, he picked up on the sounds of the Turkish communities and incorporated them into songs such as Neuköln and Yassassin.

 


         
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