Posts tagged ‘pirate party’

August 18, 2010

The Holy Google Empire: Is “Street View” going too far?

GOOGLE HAS NEVER BEEN known for half-measures. A digital Napoleon, its corporate goal appears to be to drag the entire planet, with all its inhabitants, kicking and screaming under the heal of its own cyber empire – but only for our own good, of course. 

Take Google’s latest global campaign. The company’s “Google Street View” service promises to bring close-up, full-frontal images of your house (plus local information and advertising) onto computer screens from Tierra del Fuego to Tipperary. Now you can no longer just inspect the roof of Aunty Em’s bungalow in Wichita from outer space, you can even peer into her parlor window and wave to her while she sits – frozen – drinking tea with her lover Bobby Joe from the…


January 11, 2010

German Pirate flashmobs protest enhanced airport scanners

THE GERMAN PIRATE PARTY burst on the scene last spring and received a promising but ultimately unremarkable 2 percent in the September Bundestag election. At the time I thought this event was worthy of a thorough write-up in an OS post, but I also assumed the movement had peaked. I may well be right about that, but the group is still out there capturing headlines the way it does best: through calculated provocations and a keen sense of drama.

As I wrote yesterday, the German police union has reversed its policy against backscatter security scanners, which virtually strip air passengers naked as they pass through airport security checkpoints. The German government is likely to overturn its ban some time soon and the rest of the European Union is set to follow.

As it turns out, this is just the sort of news that brings the Pirates – who have transformed the struggle against “glass people” into the battle cry of the digital generation – out of their winter hibernation. On Sunday, January 10, dozens of Pirates flocked to the main airports of Frankfurt/Main, Berlin, and Düsseldorf to stage demonstrations against the future deployment of the new scanners. The buccaneers stripped down to their underwear and marched through the airports chanting “You don’t need to scan us – we’re already naked!” They also claimed to be heading for Flight GO1984, a refererence to George Orwell’s dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four…


September 28, 2009

Liberals, Pirates, and other winners: Germany has voted


Angela Merkel and Guido Westerwelle

Angela Merkel and Guido Westerwelle

THE VOTES ARE COUNTED, the champagne bottles stand empty, the tears of triumph and despair have been dried, and Europe’s most populous country is awakening to a new political dawn.

After four years of a grand coalition with the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) under Angela Merkel are about to return to their traditional coalition with the liberal (i.e. business-oriented)  Free Democratic Party (FDP) under its leader Guido Westerwelle, who will likely become foreign minister. The FDP achieved an astonishing triumph vis-à-vis 2005, climbing from 9.8% to a previously unimaginable 14.6%. Angela Merkel’s CDU slipped from 34.2% to 33.8% but remains the largest party. The future Conservative-Liberal government is expected to pursue privatization and deregulation, tax cuts, higher university fees, enhanced family benefits, tougher law and order policies,  increased domestic surveillance, and a more muscular foreign policy. This will come at the expense of social welfare programs, personal freedom, and environmental protection.

The SPD saw its worst result since the founding of the Federal Republic in 1949, plummeting from an anemic  34.2% in 2005 to an appalling 23% this year. …


September 27, 2009

Who I’d vote for: Election day in Germany

IT’S ELECTION DAY IN Germany, and even though I’m not allowed to vote, the country’s saturation with election posters and slogans could drive anyone half crazy. Thank god it will all be over tonight.

Who would I vote for? I’d be tempted to go with the Greens for old time’s sake, although the Pirates intrigue me and my conscience tells me I should really vote for the Animal Protection Party, if only to please my cat. But today I saw a poster that almost made me want to apply for a passport and make a mad dash to the nearest polling station…