Saturday, October 19, 2019

The Next Thing to Worry About

Around 3 AM on Friday morning....the city cops of Wiesbaden got this call.  They are prepared for about 99-percent of the calls that come in.

This one?  Someone was reporting 20 wild boar in the middle of town.

This was down near Wilhelmstrasse (the main avenue of the city) near the Casino and high-end hotels.

The wild boar were making a run through the city park, the theater building grounds, and the Casino park.

Within an hour, the boar were gone.  No shots fired....they just wandered away into the wooded region on the north end of the city.

Around eight years ago, boar were noted in the city as well. 

Hunters to be brought in?  I doubt it.  No one is going to sign off on hunters (professional or otherwise) to be brought into the city.

It just adds onto the hundred-odd things that people worry about within the city.

365 Euro Ticket Chatter

There is a discussion underway here in the Frankfurt-Wiesbaden area over starting a 365 Euro-365 Day transport ticket. 

A couple of areas around Germany have opened up to the experimental program, which requires some funding by the federal government, in order to work.

The basic deal?  You would go in and start a card-ticket.  You could travel within that 'zone' all year, free of extra cost, on any bus, tram, or train, for the 365 Euro involved. 

How much money would the region 'lose' going this way and not charging the normal ticket price?  They figure around 190-million Euro.  So that's the amount that the federal government would have to cover.

A permanent thing?  No one is really saying that.  They are simply hoping to convince more people to leave their car home, and use the transport system.

If the federal government doesn't cough up the money?  Well, it's hard to see how this would work.

Personally, I think they could make it a 730 Euro-365 Day transport ticket (double the price) and you'd get the same number of people. 

The one odd question may later center on how big this 'zone' will be.  They may decide that you are limited to just 10 km.  So the idea of taking a bus from village, onto a station in Wiesbaden, and then to Frankfurt....probably won't work with this ticket. 

Friday, October 18, 2019

Diplomatic Status

Around six weeks ago, at a RAF base in central England (near Northamptonshire)....an American dependent wife exited the based and got on the main road....unfortunately, on the right-hand side (remember, they drive on the left there).

Within like a minute, she hits some 18-year old British kid on a motorcycle....killing him.   Brit cops come....do a examination of the scene, and write up a report. 

The gal has American authorities from the base come over, and because her husband has diplomatic status...there's this brief talk.  No one knows what was said or how it was conveyed.  But they pull the papers out, and she gets on a plane rather quickly....departing the UK under diplomatic status.

The parents of the kid?  Furious.  Politically, it's being hyped up on a daily basis.  They want the lady to return and face justice. 

So you stand back and look over this landscape.

Even if she returns, the case would revolve around involuntary manslaughter.  If you can't establish drugs or alcohol in the matter (no one has suggested either in this case), then the case starts to lessen.  If they could establish that she was under care by a doctor and having had some prescription drugs....then the case might gather steam.

For sentencing, if guilty, in the UK?  Typically, it's a range of two to ten years.  A lot depends on the incident, severity, and court appreciation of your explanation.

The fact that a video is around and show her on the wrong side of the road when exiting the base?  That hinders her position, especially if she traveled more than 300 feet while on the wrong side. 

Having been to the UK, Australia and New Zealand....I can vouch that it takes a lot of effort to force yourself to drive on the left side of the road. 

So where this goes now?  I think Boris Johnson, upon early November and having BREXIT lessen as a problem, will come back to this episode, and ask for her to return to the UK. 

The family wants justice but I just don't see her getting more than one to two years max.  That's probably not the justice they want. 

'VSCO Girl'

There's a trending word going around German youth, and likely to be staying for a number of years.  The term?  VSCO girl.

What it means or defines?  It's a girl or girl group (gang) that is hyped up on fashion....to the degree that they seek a certain brand-group that is connected to environmental sustainability.   Green label, green production, green slogans, green hype.  But that's not the end of the meaning....the girl or girl group then drives this fashion trend, with absolute determination and driving the slogan or trend into the ground.  Yes, being almost cynical, without realizing. 

Pure sardonicism?  Yes, and they don't even grasp it. 

Their associates or young guys around them?  They are mostly laughing and utilize the word 'VSCO girl' to label the young 'maiden'. 

An insult?  It's on the borderline, but I think it's just another label that youth use to be sarcastic about modern society.

I came to notice in August, as school started back up in the Hessen region of Germany....that the big fashion trend of young ladies (say ages 12 to 15) was Greta-style clothing (flannel shirts).  On a bus returning from the city....you'd see a dozen such girls in this attire, and the Greta-fashion is catching on.

It's an odd word, but it does represent a changing society and how people consume a passion. 

Perceptions Matter

There was a piece in Focus magazine this morning.....talking over this study done in Germany by a foundation group (Shell Youth Study).

The group went out and polled young people around Germany.....ages 15 to 25 years old.

So the question centered on people and their feeling of freedom to speak on topics.  When the topic came up about foreigners in Germany....roughly two-thirds of the polled folks said in plain language.....they can't suggest anything negative because if they did, they'd be accused of being racist. 

It's an interesting discussion.   It would suggest that three dynamics are at work in Germany:

1.  Young people have learned to keep negativity contained and just not say it in public.

2.  If people do want to converse on the topic, then they are likely looking for like-minded people.

3.  The political folks are in serious trouble because they can't craft a message that will be accepted by this youth group and still be pro-asylum. 

If you were looking ahead for the 2021 and 2025 German national elections, this particular youth group poses a serious problem for political strategists.  When some journalist suggests that polling is telling you the national priorities....it's untrue to some degree because this youth group knows better than discussing their frustrations on asylum and migration in public. 

Whether it's a sign of things to come....is the big unknown. 

Thursday, October 17, 2019

43, or 12,700, or 25,000?

There's a numbers game being played by the Merkel coalition and journalists, and it involves right-wing extremists.

So someone within the Bundestag went and asked the national police.....just how many Germans are on the right-wing extremist 'Constitutional-watch' list?  It's the list that requires the police to monitor on a routine basis, conduct judge-ordered searches as necessary, and ensure the safety of the public.

For the record, there are 688 Islamic extremists on this national watch-list.  This is the newest number from the past month.  So across Germany, if you are considered a major threat, you get 'tagged'.

So back to the right-wing guys....well, there are a total of 43.  Yes, that's it.

A number of political folks are confused because this 12,700 number and 25,000 number get thrown around a lot.

The Interior Ministry will quote documents to say that there are 12,700 right-wing extremists capable of violence.  But the police only say 43 are a threat?  Yes.  These two groups....obviously don't talk much.

The 25,000 number?  Again, the Interior Ministry will say in public that around 25,000 right-wing extremists exist across all of Germany.  But the bulk of these aren't apparently capable of violence?  Yes, that's the key phrase.

So could you have an Islamic right-wing extremist?  Please don't bring this up with a German.  It'd totally confuse them, and it'd irk the Interior Ministry if Ali was on both the Islamic extremist and right-wing extremist list.  It might also get Ali in trouble with both groups.

So who is right, or what is right?

There's another issue to this chat as well.  Each state has it's own situation.  Like NRW (northwestern Germany).....they've got 15 of the 43.  Hessen?  They only have four total.  Hamburg (the state) and the Pflaz?  Zero for both states.

Why suggest 12,700 extremely violent right-wing enthusiasts, when the cops say only 43 are worth viewing?  I might go and suggest that it's a good political topic to throw around, and talk more security....more cops....more protection.  You obviously wouldn't go and hire 10,000 more police nationally.....if the threat for Islamic or right-wing extremists were less than a thousand over the whole nation.

So if I used this rational made-up number of 12,700....shouldn't the same logic hold that 18,000 radical Islamist thugs existing?  Please don't suggest that to a German....they'd freak out.  Or if I use the 25,000 right-wing math situation.....then 38,000 radical Islamic characters exist?  Skip it.

I look and ponder over my situation in Hessen.  A grand total of four guys in all of Hessen who are a threat to me and public safety in terms of far right-wing extremism?  Are they right about this?

Here's the bottom line.....there's more paranoid schizophrenic nutcases out there, than the total Islamic and right-wing extremists combined, and they'd go and kill you only because you wore a Bee-Gees shirt, or hummed the tune 'Poker-Face'.  Just something to think about.

Note: Why such round numbers for the 12,700 or 25,000?  Usually, someone quotes something and it has a round number....it's a high-percentage chance that it's a bogus or fake number.  I hate to suggest such foolishness with the German authorities with this....but it just looks fake.

Propaganda Discussion

Last night, via HR (our public TV network of Hessen)....they ran the weekly MEX Show.  I would describe MEX (a 45-minute show) as being a consumer, health, public safety, and commerce show.  It's safe to say that viewership isn't that high (it's at 8:15 PM) and most viewers are over the age of forty-five.

So in the midst of last night's show....the moderator came to the Halle attack and laid out the description of this young guy being under the influence of right-wing extremist propaganda.  A video-piece then started up and various figures talked of gamers, their being influenced by propaganda material, and the threat to society.   After that video, then came the one-on-one interview with a IT-security guy and propaganda was bumped up on the six to eight questions that followed.

In the mind of journalists, the public needs to be made aware of propaganda and the affect it has on a free and open society.

I sat back after the episode ended and reflected upon it.  In my earlier days, in the intelligence school, we had the basic introduction to propaganda....so it's not a unknown topic to me.  After three years in Panama, I had a vast amount of understanding over the tool (used by the Noriega regime), and how it affects society.  Over the past twenty years, I can cite literally hundreds of propaganda efforts (some by the US, some by companies or banks, some by journalists, some by British lobby groups, and some by German political parties).  There's hardly a week that goes by where I don't see at least three or four examples of this effort.

The majority of Germans probably don't think much about this.  If you are over the age of ninety, you probably do remember some of the Nazi-theme propaganda efforts.

For the typical German watching the ten minutes of this discussion last night, it probably shocked them to some degree.  On their list of one-hundred things to worry about.....propaganda was never on that list, and probably never even made it to the top thousand 'worries' for a German.  Now?  Well.....you have to wonder about gamers, their political philosophy, and the ongoing propaganda that appears daily to influence people.

But then as the show came to conclude....my German wife and I engaged on the topic of propaganda, and I observed that HR itself....might sometimes be dishing out propaganda, which she amusingly agreed.  In the end, we all have to be vigilant....over all sources of information. 

When Blockades Don't Work

It's a story worth telling and being amused over.

For those who didn't grasp this....up in the Netherlands, there's been a farmer's protest going on, and they've gone to a massive number of farmers getting on the autobahn roads around major cities (mostly Den Haag). 

The protest target?  There's a EU agenda underway, and if the government goes along with this....farmers will be told how many cows they can handle on x-amount of property.  It's about nitrogen oxide production (via the cows).  The farmers kinda hint that they are operating under a business model, and if you interfer with this.....the whole farmer thing will eventually collapse.

On this, they have a blunt point.  Most politicians and journalists (whether in the Netherlands, Germany, or even the US) simply don't grasp the business model, and how much or how little profit is tied into the overall farming 'business'. 

So I come to Monday's tractor event. 

The Dutch authorities decided 'enough was enough', and ordered up the police, along with some elements of the Dutch Army to block roads.  The Army came with trucks and did their job.  You can imagine this scene....twenty police standing around at a blockade, with five or six heavy-duty Army trucks in position. 

So the farmers approach....look at the blockade, and then with all-wheel capability....they go around the blockade, and proceed on.

I can envision this moment with the Dutch Army guys telling the Dutch police....that's precisely what they would have done, and this mandate for them to appear and be part of public order....is a waste of time and resources.

Where this goes next?  I might go and suggest that more Monday action is being contemplated, and the EU 'cow-action' is on some public discussion stage.  Maybe someone will step in and explain the farmer business model concept, and ask the EU folks if they know much about business plans or models. 

More to come?  Obviously.