Hu Jia erhält Sacharow-Preis

Der Chinese Hu Jia erhält den Sacharow-Preis des Europaparlamentes für Gedankenfreiheit 2008.


Sanktionen gegen Oasen?

Was machen eigentlich die angestammten Kritiker der Finanzmärkte zur Zeit? Eigentlich müssten die doch Konjunktur haben. Und in der Tat, es werden knallige Lösungen vorgeschlagen:

Attac forderte Bundesfinanzminister Peer Steinbrück auf, ab sofort Banken zu sanktionieren, die in Steueroasen Niederlassungen haben oder Geschäfte mit dort ansässigen Instituten machen. "Die Umsetzung ist denkbar einfach: Schließlich benötigen alle Banken eine Lizenz", sagte Detlev von Larcher.

Wie so etwas wohl im EU-Rat ankommen würde. Fragt sich nur noch wann militärische Sanktionen ins Spiel kommen. Es sieht fast so aus, als sei der Finanzsektor der neue Iran oder das neue Cuba. ;-) Minister Steinbrück scheint nicht so weit von Ex-Parteigenosse von Larcher entfernt zu sein. Da wurde gar der deutsche Botschafter von der Schweiz seinetwegen einbestellt.

Öffentlich-Rechtliche Sender im Internet

Der Lackmus-Test für die Sender, Interview in Spiegel Online mit Krautscheid von der CDU:

Richtigerweise hat die Europäische Kommission uns dazu gezwungen, die Rolle des öffentlich-rechtlichen Rundfunks insbesondere im Internet schärfer zu definieren. Das Ergebnis sind völlig neue Spielregeln für den öffentlich-rechtlichen Rundfunk

Rishab's tender argument and OpenOffice adoption

What is the difficulty of Office suite migration, I mean, to switch from one product to another? SUN Microsystem's Simon Phipps recently claimed, the challenge of office software migrations is not about "interoperability" anymore but "substitutability”. An Italian article takes a rather sour view about the SUN backed OpenOffice as a Microsoft Office replacement.

...in many ways, success [of OO.org 3.0] teaches us nothing; what is far more revealing is failure.

The reason mentioned are user dependencies on the legacy product such as macros and office productivity integration. What is often described as a lock-in concerns migration scenarios of Office installations in general. Can you take the freedom to switch to another product? OpenOffice is just one option. Just think of the recent industry trend to migrate to Cloud Computing solutions, Google Docs etc. In the article Rishab is quoted and he highlights alleged public tender discrimination of alternatives as OpenOffice:

"Many people assume there is level playing field and that measures to promote Open Source are no longer needed. In fact, there is widespread bias in favour of proprietary applications" ...According to Gosh, software tenders often have either implicit or explicit bias for software brands or even specific applications.

Those product preferences Rishab Ghosh often talks about are strictly incompatible with existing public procurement laws and of course it is just a matter of enforcement of procurement rules. Public procurement applies only for those parts of the market driven by administrative decision making: governmental institutions. The enforcement of the tender rules is a matter of sound non-discriminatory procurement procedures but does not address the real user needs because products are different and unique. And for the public sector the market leader offers very cheap license fees. As a public administration you have to consider to migrate to alternative products and make much fuzz about it in order to reduce your software procurement costs. Migration scenarios are always part of a procurement negotiation strategy. Public adminstrations have here far more experience to build up procurement pressure.

How does migration affect users? Office migration means migration of trained users from existing Office 2000 - 2003 installations. Users do not really care if the source code of a product is made available or not as Open Source proponents argue. The main reason why persons want to migrate now to alternative products is that they cannot stand the revamped Microsoft Office 2007 interface and a migration to the new generation would cause the institution high retraining costs. As an Office user you don't want to switch to the new unfamiliar MS-Office 2007 product series.

The reason why Office users have to think about migration is that others use MS-Office 2007 and it has a new file format. Files you get sent and you need to be able to read. The cumbersome Word 07 file format docx can be read by older versions of Microsoft Office with a plugin. User need to install a plugin. Here the SUN Microsystems product OO.org comes again into play again. Why download a free plugin when you can download a free next generation office suite that can read the new format. As of the version 3.0 it is able to read DocX, Pptx etc. So the convenient choice is to stay with Office 2003 and have OpenOffice 3.0 installed for reading the docx files your Office 2007 colleagues submit to you. Microsoft seems to understand that docx is not the future format and merely a tool to force users in a maturated market to switch to their new version, and they are nit satified with their format themselves and announced to switch to the international standard ODF file format in the next Office generation that is already supported by OpenOffice.

These are some of the options for Office users:
  1. Stay with Office 2003 and install a Microsoft plugin for dealing with the new 2007 file format.
  2. Stay with Office 2003 and install the free OpenOffice 3.0 for the new 2007 file format, ODF and PDF export
  3. Switch to Office 2007 and try to migrate existing dependencies as Macros and get retrained to abandon the user interface of Office 2003
  4. Switch to OpenOffice 3.0 and try to migrate existing office productivity solutions
  5. Switch to the Cloud.
As we see a gradual transition scenario with parallel installations is the most likely one. Think back how Firefox broke the solid Internet Explorer dominance. You don't need to uninstall the product you were used to but users will gradually switch to what serves them best and find out that they don't need the legacy product anymore. Sure institutional migration works differently and parallel installation is often not considered.


Robin Oakley explains Sarah Palin

Robin Oakley explains Americans why the Alaskan candidate for the American vice presidency does not appeal well to a European audience. Of course that is a way to praise the candidate. He puts forward all the sound bites. I find his analysis of the imaginary European view of Palin like what he described the European view on Sarah Palin: half-baked.

For Europeans, who were alienated during George W. Bush's first four years by a president who showed little interest in their continent and patently cared nothing for the opinions of its leaders, the turning point probably came with the appearance on the Katie Couric show when Palin confessed to not having had a passport until 2006.

A few days ago I got me a passport again. It is about 60 Euro and you need ugly biometric images. As a German you hardly need to provide a passport, most states accept identity cards and within the Schengen area you get hardly checked. That is why my citizen office advised against a pass port. For me a pass port is old fashioned tradition. For Palin a passport is a symbol of foreign experience. I think no one in Europe would even care. And diplomats get their own diplomate passports, right? The ones where the police cannot stop the drunk driving (Russian) diplomates.

But something else sounds frightening and naive and Americans just don't seem to care. Asked about the role of the foreign policy of her state she described the United States as a force for good in the world, as a beacon of light. While Americans hate their state bureacracy the appreciation for their foreign policy and their state sounds like a Monty Python joke for European listeners. John Cleese mocked Palin as a parrot. This may be true for all of the candidates. The question is what he or she does parrot. You won't find a European who regards "good" and "evil" as categories of professional foreign policy. The notion of realpolitik is just too strong as is the scepticism of the Levithan. [insert European state] as a force for good? Sounds like a defamatory joke.

European probably also understand the strategic cold war role of Alaska and the battles over the Arctic Sea. It sounds stupid why a person who is qualified to lead a gigantic state should not be qualified to run the United States. After all most EU member states are much smaller. US interiour policy is not that much different from pan-European foreign policy. For foreign policy all you need to understand is that the policy field requires you to play conservative. And when powerful parties do freaky stuff the diplomats call that a 'doctrine'.

Her real strategic problem for the elections is one of self-presentation. Palin's team presented her as the 'hockey mum', the Washington outsider. Her problem is not an alleged lack of qualifications but that her team was so cynical to present her as an unqualified person, as "one of them" to appeal to voters. A rhetorical understatement on purpose which leads to silly and disrespectful questions like which newspapers she reads.


OpenOffice 3.0

Mein Freund Charles richtet morgen in Paris die Veröffentlichungsfeier für OpenOffice.org 3.0 aus.

Das Officepaket OpenOffice ist schon zum Herunterladen in der Version 3 verfügbar. OpenOffice basiert auf dem Code der Hamburger Firma StarDivision und wurde von SUN als Open Source vor ein paar Jahren freigeben. Seitdem wurde die Software signifikant verbessert. Mit Version 3 erreicht sie eine bisher nicht gekannte Stabilität. Selbst Entwicklerversionen waren hervorragend zu benutzen. Auch unter MacOS X wird nun eine native Benutzeroberfläche bereitgestellt, was zu größerem Interesse von Mac-Nutzern führen dürfte, die bislang den Fork Neooffice genutzt haben.

Währenddessen kritisiert Michael Meeks von Novell den Entwicklungsprozess und weist auf einen schleichenden Rückzug von SUN aus dem Projekt hin, ohne dass der Entwicklungsprozess sich liberalisiere. Novell hatte dieses Jahr OO.org geforkt.



Matthias Wissmann war mal Verkehrsminister. Jetzt arbeitet er für den Verband der Automobilindustrie. In der NWZ vom 29. September gibt es auf Seite 2 ein Interview:

Das Signal aus dem Umweltausschuss des Europaparlamentes [bzgl. CO2 Emissionen] ist kontraproduktiv - für den Klimaschutz wie für die Industrie. ... Die Bundesregierung muss nun zusammen mit allen vernunftsorientierten Partnern in Europa auf eine sinnvolle Balance zwischen Ökonomie und Ökologie drängen.

So weit mir der Prozess des Europaparlamentes bekannt ist, werden alle Ausschussvorlagen im Plenum abgestimmt. Die Bundesregierung hat im innerparlamentarischen Prozess auf supranationaler Ebene natürlich überhaupt keine Rolle.


Offical translation of Article 10 German Basic Law

Article 10
[Privacy of correspondence, posts and telecommunications]
(1) The privacy of correspondence, posts and telecommunications shall be inviolable.
(2) Restrictions may be ordered only pursuant to a law. If the restriction serves to protect the free democratic basic order or the existence or security of the Federation or of a Land, the law may provide that the person affected shall not be informed of the restriction and that recourse to the courts shall be replaced by a review of the case by agencies and auxiliary agencies appointed by the legislature.

Now compare this with Amendment 138 of the Telecom package...


Sarkozy letter regarding Amendment 138 written by Henrard?

Benjamin analysed the respective letter that was sent by Sarkozy to Barroso.

$ pdfinfo Lettre_Barroso.pdf
Title: Cabinet de la ministre
Author: Olivier HENRARD
Creator: Writer
Producer: OpenOffice.org 2.2
CreationDate: Sun Oct 5 12:11:58 2008
Tagged: no
Pages: 2
Encrypted: no
Page size: 595 x 842 pts (A4)
File size: 45386 bytes
Optimized: no
PDF version: 1.4

He seems to be the author of the letter that had so embarrassing consequences for the French presidency: Olivier Henrard. But it only means that the PDF was generated with OpenOffice, it does not say anything about the original software used to write the letter. As the OSOR pointed out the French ministry of culture uses OpenOffice instead of Microsoft Office. OpenOffice has a pdf export functionality. Writer is the word processing component.

Others mention that the EU press release disappeared but it is still available via a direct link.


Reding fences off French Presidency intervention

Everybody knew that when the French under N. Sarkozy assumed Presidency of the Council strange things would happen. Indeed, Aigrain mocked it in his blog. Sarkozy intervened at Commissioner Reding or precisely at the Commission president not to accept Amendment 138 of the Trautmann report (Telecom Package) which was voted by Parliament. The Sarkozy "short circuit" didn't succeed. Good for constitutional reasons. Slashback ahead:

Press release of the spokesperson for Commissioner Reding:

Commission position on Sarkozy letter on Amendment 138 adopted by the European Parliament in plenary vote on 24 September

The Commission takes note of the letter received by President Sarkozy last Friday asking the Commission to reject Amendment 138 adopted by the plenary of the European Parliament on 24 September in its vote on the EU Telecoms Package.

The amendment referred to by President Sarkozy was initiated by several Members of the European Parliament. It was amended orally right before the final vote in order to secure a broad cross-party majority.

The amendment, in its version adopted by the plenary of the European Parliament, requires telecoms regulators to apply the principle:

“that no restriction may be imposed on the fundamental rights and freedoms of end-users, without a prior ruling by the judicial authorities, notably in accordance with Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union on freedom of expression and information, save when public security is threatened where the ruling may be subsequent.”

This version of the amendment was adopted by the European Parliament in an open vote with a large majority of 573 votes in favour and 74 votes against.

The European Commission respects this democratic decision of the European Parliament. In the Commission’s view, this amendment is an important restatement of key legal principles inherent in the legal order of the European Union, especially of citizens’ fundamental rights. The language of the amendment is deliberately drafted in order to leave Member States scope for reaching a fair balance between several fundamental rights, namely the right for the respect of private life, the right for property and effective remedies, and the right of freedom of information and expression. The Commission can therefore accept the amendment proposed by the European Parliament.

The Commission understands that this issue is of high political importance in the domestic debate in France, where legislation is in preparation proposing the establishment of a new national Internet authority that could have a role in monitoring, and possibly restricting, internet traffic of French citizens in order to combat violations of intellectual property rights. The European Commission invites the French government to discuss its views on Amendment 138 with ministers of the other 26 Member States. As the EU Telecoms Package is decided under the co-decision procedure, agreement of Parliament and Council is required before an amendment can become law.

The Commission stands ready to act as facilitator in this debate, once the Council has also decided on its view on the matter.