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War on Terror: Germany Debates Computer Spying

The German equivalent to the Department of Homeland Security has designed a Trojan to help spy on the computers of terror suspects. Spiegel International writes about the debate:

Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble insists that such cyber spying would only be carried out in a handful of exceptional cases and would only target those suspected of planning terror attacks. Nevertheless, a debate has erupted in the press as to whether Schäuble -- known for his provocative, America-esque anti-terror tactics -- may have once again overstepped his bounds.
In July, the minister ruffled feathers with suggestions that Germany should consider targeted assassinations of suspected terrorists.

Reuters reports that according to one German paper the proposed law even allows temporary computer spying without a court order.

Once again, similar challenges, suggestions, criticism and debates on both sites of the Atlantic, right?

Who's Got the Best Plan for Iraq?

The Atlantic Community presents a comparative overview of the most discussed strategies for Iraq.

We cut right to the point on suggested troop numbers, reconstruction plans, ideas for diplomatic initiatives and for solving domestic problems as well as suggestions for the time after the withdrawal of most US troops.

Get the lowdown on the original Baker-Hamilton report, a standout strategy from a presidential candidate, a few maverick think tankers, and that Bush Administration favorite, the Surge: "Iraq: Who's Got the Best Plan?" At this link you also have the option to download a concise matrix of these plans as a PDF file.

We would appreciate your thoughts on these plans or any other plan you would like to see implemented. Criticism and other feedback is also appreciated. Registration for commenting on Atlantic Community is real fast and provides networking opportunities as well.

Rise in Racist Crime in Europe

After last week's attack on eight Indian men in Germany, there have been more media reports about additional racist crimes in various German cities, see for instance the German newspaper Rheinische Post.

Today, the
International Herald Tribune reports about a racism statistics for the EU:
Racist violence and crime have been on the rise in at least eight of the European Union's 27 member states in the last six years, the bloc's human rights agency said Monday. The figures were in a report that identified ethnic discrimination and unequal employment opportunities as serious EU-wide problems. The Vienna, Austria-based Fundamental Rights Agency said it was impossible to present a full picture of racist violence for all of the EU due to a severe lack of national data.

The Too Much Cookies Blog

Too Much Cookies Network is a great German language blog run by Omar in Hannover since November 2004. He loves cookies, but writes about German politics and media, focusing on civil liberties, Islam, and the war on terror.

In particular, check out this post about a German radio correspondent in the US "Siegfried Buschlüter beendet Korrespondententätigkeit in Washington" and this audio enhanced post on Afghanistan Erfolg des "War on Terror".

Here's a great video in English: "Stating the Obvious" and here is an American cartoon: Bipartisan Surveillance Bill

Omar has also hosted the German edition of the last Carnival of German-American Relations.

Prostitution in Iraq

Two Iraqi mothers tell CNN they turned to prostitution to help feed their children: "It's a taboo that no one is speaking about," says Yanar Mohammed, head and founder of the Organization for Women's Freedom in Iraq, and adds:

"There is a huge population of women who were the victims of war who had to sell their bodies, their souls and they lost it all. It crushes us to see them, but we have to work on it and that's why we started our team of women activists." Her team pounds the streets of Baghdad looking for these victims often too humiliated to come forward.
"Most of the women that we find at hospitals [who] have tried to commit suicide" have been involved in prostitution, said Basma Rahim, a member of Mohammed's team. The team's aim is to compile information on specific cases and present it to Iraq's political parties -- to have them, as Mohammed puts it, "come tell us what [they] are ... going to do about this."
Rahim tells the heartbreaking story of one woman they found who lives in a room with three of her children: "She has sex while her three children are in the room, but she makes them stand in separate corners." According to Rahim and Mohammed, most of the women they encounter say they are driven to prostitution by a desperate desire for survival in the dangerously violent and unforgiving circumstances in Iraq.
Can you imagine anything worse? Are family and government safety nets not working anymore? Why isn't there (more) support for widows? Why can't coalition forces and the Iraqi army hand out enough food for all hungry women and children? Continue reading "Prostitution in Iraq"

Worried About Russia

Evidence is staggering of a deepening rift between Putin's Russia and the West, especially the US. Putin, deeply suspicious about NATO's intentions towards Russia as well as the US' proposed missile defense system in Poland and Czech Republic, hasn't spared harsh words and cold war rhetoric in the process. He's hinted at parallels between today's USA and the Nazis and "asserted that there are fewer black pages in the history of the USSR than in the past of the United States, citing racism, the atomic attacks on the civilian populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the use of Agent Orange in Vietnam," writes the International Herald Tribune.

Russia has recently suspended its involvement in the 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty; it has blocked a "crucial reform" aimed at improving the European Court of Human Rights efficiency and -- according to an expert's opinion cited in International Herald Tribune --  is "trying to undermine the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe" (Vienna). It has called for an alternative to WTO and escalated a diplomatic spat with Britain following the murder of Alexander Litvinenko there. Just one way Russia has been flexing its muscles amidst a vast military build-up that is financed by its newly-earned petro-rubels: Continue reading "Worried About Russia"