Tag Archives | Germany

Germany To Use Anti-Graffiti Drones

droneWill drones render petty crime a relic of the past? The BBC reports:

Germany’s national railway company, Deutsche Bahn, plans to test small drones to try to reduce the amount of graffiti being sprayed on its property.

The idea is to use airborne infra-red cameras which could then be used to prosecute vandals who deface property at night. The drones would have infra-red sensors sophisticated enough for people to be identified, providing key evidence.

German media report that each drone will cost about 60,000 euros and fly almost silently, up to 495ft above ground. A company spokesman said drones would be tested at rail depots soon.

It is not yet clear how Germany’s strict anti-surveillance laws might affect their use. Using cameras to film people surreptitiously is a sensitive issue in Germany, where privacy is very highly valued.

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Is Psychedelic Toad Licking Trending Among German Teens?

So claims an article in the country’s paper of record. The point is that fighting a war on drugs will become increasingly surreal as the ways in which people get high multiply. From Der Spiegel:

“Toad-licking, that’s the latest thing,” says Willi Stier, a police officer from Mannheim. He points to a photo of the toad he’s referring to, a stocky creature from America that can be ordered online.

The toad has glands that can be induced to secrete a psychoactive substance with squeezing. Young people pass the animals around at parties like joints. “Get high, have fun,” says the police officer.

Stier says that some 80 to 90 new drugs have spread in recent years. He believes that 28 new substances were classified under Germany’s narcotics law over the last year, but there are more than that.  ”Drug users look for alternative products or modify the recipes, keeping themselves a step ahead of lawmakers,” says Stier.

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Amazon Cuts Ties with “Neo-Nazi” Security

Disinfonaut Russell Grant tipped us that Amazon.com will no longer employ alleged Neo-Nazi security firm Hess.

Via Salon:

An Amazon spokeswoman in Germany, Ulrike Stoecker, said Monday the online retailer has ended its relationship with Hensel European Security Services “with immediate effect.”

A documentary shown on ARD public television last week showed staff of the security company – whose initials spell out the name of Adolf Hitler’s deputy Hess – wearing clothes linked to Germany’s neo-Nazi scene. It interviewed people claiming they were mistreated by the staff.

Stoecker told The Associated Press that Amazon has a “zero tolerance limit for discrimination and intimidation and expects the same of other companies it works with.”

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Amazon Uses Neo-Nazi Guards To Control Immigrant Workers In Its German Warehouses

Has fascism been privatized? The Independent writes:

Amazon is at the center of a deepening scandal in Germany as the online shopping giant faced claims that it employed security guards with neo-Nazi connections to intimidate its foreign workers.

Germany’s ARD television channel made the allegations about Amazon’s treatment of more than 5,000 temporary staff from across Europe working at its German packing and distribution centers. ARD’s film showed omnipresent guards from a company named HESS Security wearing black uniforms and boots with military haircuts. They were employed to keep order at hostels and budget hotels where foreign workers stayed. “Many of the workers are afraid,” the program-makers said.

ARD said Amazon’s temporary staff worked eight-hour shifts packing goods at the company’s logistics centers in Bad Hersfeld, Konstanz and Augsburg. Many walked up to 17 kilometers per shift and all those taken on could be fired at will. On arrival in Germany, most were told their pay had been cut to below the rate promised when they applied for jobs at Amazon.

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Berlin’s ‘House Of Doom’ Has Had Nine Unnatural Deaths In 15 Years

The world’s worst feng shui? Germany’s Local writes:

A building in the leafy suburbs of Berlin has been dubbed the house of doom after it emerged that nine people died unnatural deaths there in the last 15 years.

Built just 25 years ago in the Gatow district of Spandau, the large house has been home to a brothel owner who ended up decapitated while flying down the nearby Autobahn on his motorbike in 2003, the suicide pact of a British journalist and his lover, and the murder-suicide of an entire family. The most recent was scientist Lorin W., died in a car crash.

In summer 2012 Berlin police were called to the building’s maisonette apartment, where they found the bodies of 69-year-old Kristian B., his wife Kathrin, 28, and their two sons aged six and three. The debt-riddled asset consultant had suffocated them all before killing himself with a plastic bag.

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Camover: A Game to Destroy CCTV Cameras

Picture: Quevaal (CC)

Oliver Stallwood writes at the Guardian:

As a youth in a ski mask marches down a Berlin U-Bahn train, dressed head-to-toe in black, commuters may feel their only protection is the ceiling-mounted CCTV camera nearby. But he is not interested in stealing wallets or iPhones – he is after the camera itself. This is Camover, a new game being played across Berlin, which sees participants trashing cameras in protest against the rise in close-circuit television across Germany.

The game is real-life Grand Theft Auto for those tired of being watched by the authorities in Berlin; points are awarded for the number of cameras destroyed and bonus scores are given for particularly imaginative modes of destruction. Axes, ropes and pitchforks are all encouraged.

The rules of Camover are simple: mobilise a crew and think of a name that starts with “command”, “brigade” or “cell”, followed by the moniker of a historical figure (Van der Lubbe, a Dutch bricklayer convicted of setting fire to the Reichstag in 1933, is one name being used).

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Internet Connection Is Civil Right, German Court Rules

In the near future, in certain regions of the world, denying someone internet will be considered a barbaric, criminal act. Computer World UK reports:

Internet access is crucial to everyday life and the loss of connectivity is deserving of financial compensation, the German Federal Court of Justice has ruled. Because having an internet connection is so significant for a large part of the German population, a customer whose service provider failed to provide connectivity between December 2008 and February 2009 is entitled to compensation.

The plaintiff was erroneously disconnected and demanded that the unnamed telecommunications company pay for costs that incurred in switching to a new provider. The plaintiff also demanded compensation of €50 per day for the period his was unable to use his DSL service.

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German Zoophiles Outraged Over Plan To Prohibit Sex With Animals

Is bestiality the world’s strangest civil rights issue? Der Spiegel reports:

The German government plans to ban zoophilia — sex with animals — as part of an amendment to the country’s animal protection law, but faces a backlash from the country’s zoophile community, estimated to number over 100,000. They say there’s nothing wrong with consensual sex and that the true violations of animal rights are taking place in the farming industry.

Zoophilia was legalized in Germany in 1969 and animal protection groups have been lobbying for a ban in a campaign that has been fuelled by heated debate in Internet forums in recent years. In the future, having sex with an animal could be punished with a fine of up to €25,000 ($32,400).

“We will take legal action against this,” Michael Kiok, chairman of zoophile pressure group ZETA (Zoophile Engagement for Tolerance and Information), told SPIEGEL ONLINE. “We see animals as partners and not as a means of gratification.

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Western Drug Companies Paid East Germany To Use Its Citizens As Guinea Pigs

At least a handful of the unwitting subjects died as a result of the pharmacological experiments. An instance of capitalist and communist collaboration during the Cold War, via the Independent:

Communist East Germany allowed Western drug companies to use its medical patients as unwitting guinea pigs for tests with untried pharmaceuticals in return for hundreds of thousands in hard currency, a television documentary by Germany’s ARD television channel has revealed.

The disturbing disclosures about the former communist state’s patients-for-cash scheme comes only weeks after an admission by the Swedish furniture giant Ikea that East German political prisoners were used to make its products before the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989.

Using information gleaned from East German Stasi files, the film shows how, in 1983, Communist Party Central Committee members hatched a secret deal with Western drug companies enabling them to test their unlicensed products on unwitting patients by using specially selected doctors and clinics.

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Germany Army In Trouble For Propaganda Ads In Teen Magazines

It’s intriguing that marketing the military to kids is considered illegal and unethical in parts of the world, as it seems a normal part of life here in the United States. Via Russia Today:

The German Army has been accused of unethical recruitment practices, after it placed ads in a teen magazine promising “crazy water battles” and flights “in a real army plane” at its “Adventure Camps” that encourage youngsters to join the army.

The colorful adverts, showing smiling young teens, were published online and in the printed edition of Bravo, Germany’s most popular teen magazine. Under the slogan “Action, Adrenaline Adventure!” the German army, known as the Bundeswehr, is offering paid-for trips to Sardinia and the Alps for underage teens, where they are told about a possible career in the army once they come of age. Legally, the Bundeswehr cannot recruit people under the age of 18.

Ralf Willinger, a children’s rights consultant at Terre des Hommes [said] “The armed forces should be limited to recruiting adults, so that they do not attract young people who are easily influenced and can hardly appreciate what an obligation military service and the related foreign missions can entail.”

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