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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Protesters in Dresden Block Neo-Nazi March on Anniversary of Deadly Allied Firebombing

A BBC News interview with Victor Gregg, 92, who was a prisoner of war in Dresden on Feb. 13, 1945 when it was firebombed by British and American planes for 37 hours.

Thousands of anti-fascist protesters blocked a neo-Nazi march in Dresden, Germany, on Wednesday night, on the 68th anniversary of the British and American air campaign that killed an estimated 25,000 people in 37 hours of bombing.

In recent years, the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle eports, anti-fascist activists “have outnumbered neo-Nazis who previously had used Dresden’s bombing anniversary to stage large ‘funeral’ marches to recall the demise of Hitler’s Third Reich.” On Wednesday, about 800 neo-Nazis were prevented from marching by a human chain of more than 10,000 anti-fascists.

Thousands of Germans formed a human chain to block a neo-Nazi march in Dresden on Wednesday, the 68th anniversary of the firebombing of the city by British and American planes.Arno Burgi/European Pressphoto Agency Thousands of Germans formed a human chain to block a neo-Nazi march in Dresden on Wednesday, the 68th anniversary of the firebombing of the city by British and American planes.

As the B! ritish historian Frederick Taylor has explained, the Allies dropped “more than 4,500 tons of high explosive and incendiary bombs” on Dresden on Feb. 13, 1945, as part of an effort to crush German resistance and morale through the “indiscriminate ‘area bombing’ by night of all German cities with populations exceeding 100,000.”

In an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel in 2009, Mr. Taylor said:

The neo-Nazis use the anniversary in two ways. First, as a straight propaganda bludgeon against the victors of World War II, an exemple of the Allies’ allegedly criminal conduct of the war against Germany. Second, more subtly, as a tool to relativize Adolf Hitler’s Holocaust. They refer to a “bomb holocaust”of the Allies against the civilian inhabitants of German cities, wildly inflating the figures involved and, of course, underplaying the number of Jews, Sinti, Roma, homosexuals and political prisoners, and other millions of victims of the real Holocaust. It is this two-fold advantage of the Dresden anniversary protests that is especially attractive to the neo-Nazis and their associates. Plus, many otherwise respectable people in Dresden and elsewhere, many of whom grew up with the post-war myths, continue to believe in the inflated casualty figures and in the criminality of the Allied bombing campaign.

As Anthony Grayling, an English moral philosopher noted in his book “Among the Dead Cities: The History and Moral Legacy of the World War II Bombing of Civilians in Germany and Japan,” just five weeks after the destruction of Dresden, the British prime minister, Winston Churchill, expressed reservations in a letter! to the B! ritish Air Marshal Charles Portal, Chief of the Air Staff. “It seems to me that the moment has come when the question of bombing German cities for the sake of increasing the terror, though under other pretexts, should be reviewed,” Churchill wrote. “Otherwise, we shall come into control of an utterly ruined land. The destruction of Dresden remains a serious query against the conduct of Allied bombing.”

Earlier this week, the BBC broadcast a rare post-war interview with the man who ran the British area-bombing campaign, Air Marshal Arthur Harris, discovered recently in the archives of the Royal Air Force. Speaking in 1977, the man nicknamed “Bomber” Harris insisted that he had simply carried out orders. “The directive when I took over was that I wasn’t to specifically aim at anything unless ordered to do so, except to blast the German cities as a whole.”

After the broadcast, copy of the BBC report on the interview was uploaded to a YouTube channel devoted to British far-right groups by an anonymous blogger who referred to the attack on the German city as “the Dresden Holocaust.”

Excerpts from an interview with Arthur Harris, the Royal Air Force commander who directed the area-bombing of German cities during World War II.

In Tech, Does I.T. or Marketing Rule

Doesn’t anyone want to talk with the Chief Information Officer

PricewaterhouseCoopers, the big consulting firm, on Tuesday published its fifth annual survey of “Digital IQ,” or how well executives understand the capabilities of modern technology. It also tries to identify what it will take to realize those capabilities (often, not surprisingly, with the kind of services a big consulting firm can provide).

The key technologies in this year’s survey included mobile, social media, big data and cloud computing. The goal, the report said, is not just to employ these emerging technologies to automate or streamline processes, but to use them in innovating faster and better, and to create more valuable products and services. Making this happen, the authors said, requires open and effective communication at the highest ranks.

If only.

“We asked business leades and information technology professors how strong the relationship was between the chief information officers and others at the top of the organization. Then we had them rate it, on a scale of one to five,” said Chris Curran, one of the study’s authors. “We were looking for the characteristics of companies that had a 4.5 or more.”

Of 1,100 companies surveyed, with both information technology and nontechnical executives surveyed in equal measure, just 13 percent had that strong relationship. At least you can’t accuse these respondents of grade inflation.

If your company is among these top performers, it is four times more likely to be in the top 25 percent of your industry in profit margins, revenue, and innovation, the report found. Or, putting that another way, 87 percent of companies face long odds of having those pleasant outcomes.

The greatest top-level disconnect, Mr. Curran said, appears to be between corporate chief information officers and chief marketing officer! s. “Which is weird, because there is so much energy around big data and analytics,” he said. “It’s creating a conflict.”

Part of the explanation may be in what’s happened to marketing departments. All the emphasis on Web commerce and mobility have flooded these offices with data, and has drawn a lot of techies. Eric Horvitz, a senior member of Microsoft Research, recently told me that marketing has now drawn almost as many quantitative specialists as Wall Street.

There’s probably some impatience among that crowd at how fast corporate I.T. is delivering what they need. On the other side, there may be fear and suspicion from IT that marketing departments want to take over the most glamorous part of their jobs.

How will this get fixed Like many things, it may not. It will just muddle along, the way much technology already does at many companies. But Mr. Curan also sees this conflict as “an opportunity for the C.I.O. to step up.

“C.M.O.’s say, ‘I want to own all the external data,’” said Mr. Curran. “But they’re not managers and integrators of I.T. They’ll see it’s hard.”

At that point, a techie who can also speak basic marketing might yet become a hero. Or at least a 4.5.

TimesCast Media+Tech: Spanish-Language Media Reacts to Rubio

A mixed reaction from Spanish-Language media for Senator Marco Rubio. The origins of computer matchmaking. Streaming services create original content for children.

Dramatic Video of California Shootout Captured by CBS News Crew

While the final stage of the manhunt for Christopher Dorner, the former Los Angeles police officer, unfolded on live television Tuesday evening â€" with local news channels broadcasting helicopter views of the cabin in the San Bernardino Mountains engulfed in flames â€" the authorities pressed the media to keep reporters at a distance, because, they suggested, the suspect could have been monitoring broadcasts of the operation as it unfolded.

Before the request was made, however, a crew from the local CBS News affiliate KCAL-TV recorded close shots of a gun battle between officers and the suspect that ook place directly in front of them. CBS News has posted that video online, with a partial transcript of the report Carter Evans, the KCAL correspondent pinned down by the exchange of fire, phoned in from the scene.

Daily Report: Silicon Valley and Immigrant Groups Find Common Cause

Silicon Valley executives, who have long pressed the government to provide more visas for foreign-born math and science brains, are joining forces with an array of immigration groups seeking comprehensive changes in the law, reports Somini Sengupta of The New York Times.

And as momentum builds in Washington for a broad revamping â€" President Obama called for reform in his State of the Union address Tuesday â€" the tech industry has more hope than ever that it will finally achieve its goal: the expanded access to visas that it says is critical to its own continued growth and that of the economy as a whole.

“Real reform means fixing the legal immigration system to cut waiting periods, reduce bureaucracy, and attract the highly-skilled entrepreneurs and engineers that will help create jobs and grow our economy,” Mr. Obama said in Tuesday’s State of the Union peech.

Signs of the industry’s stepped-up engagement on the issue are visible everywhere. Prominent executives met with President Obama last week. Start-up founders who rarely abandon their computers have flown across the country to meet with lawmakers.

This Tuesday, the Technology CEO Council, an advocacy organization representing companies like Dell, Intel and Motorola, had meetings on Capitol Hill. On Wednesday, Steve Case, a founder of AOL, is scheduled to testify at the first Senate hearing this year on immigration legislation, alongside the head of the deportation agents’ union and the leader of a Latino civil rights group.

“The odds of high-skilled passing without comprehensive is close to zero, and the odds of comprehensive passing without high-skilled passing is close to zero,” said Robert D. Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a nonpartisan research group based in Washington.