Sunday, May 28, 2017

German Non-News News

So I'll have to tell this story in a particular way.

Yesterday, a small bit came up over the radio from the regional public radio service....over an event in a Hessen city where a couple of men were detained from Friday night for really bad behavior (I won't go into details but it's safe to say that women did police reports and it's serious enough that you'd normally get some jail-time), and the moderator of the radio news said the magic phrase 'migrant' or 'non-German'.

I thought this was curious and tried to do a search on the city and the event. There are roughly six sources to the story....newspaper-related, commercial TV news, and public-TV news.  Five of the six do not mention 'migrant' to the four guys detained.  It simply lists their ages, and the bad behavior situation.  So you'd read their description and just wonder why it made it into regional or national news.  The sixth news group did mention the 'migrant' side of the story and you can understand the reason why it was written for regional or national news.

So I wanted to take that story and put it up on Facebook via my S-R point, and comment on this.  'URL not found' then occurred when I attempted this.  Through the sixth source and FB....they had ensured that it'd be awful hard to cite this and pass it out to others.

This 'URL not found' gimmick has occurred about 20 times now to me over the past month.  Generally, its always a controversial story which appears to be OK to report, but not OK to pass.

How did this start up?  At some point in 2016, the German press association went and did an update to their membership recommendations.  They generally have this list of things that you are supposed to do, when writing up the news.  It's not just clear and concise wording, and accuracy that make a good news piece.  So they added this phrase, which basically says you need to think about how people might take and use your news for a discussion in an entirely different way.  In effect, you need to leave out items to the story if it might read in a negative way over something.

An example would be a story with six facts attached to it.  The story relates to some migrant who got arrested for bad behavior or criminal activity.  So you write the six facts into this...pull out the press association checklist and eventually agree that the story might be misused and anger some Germans (maybe a lot of Germans).  So you decide rather than NOT reporting any of this.....you will report it with five facts and leave out the part that the guy detained was not a German citizen.

Where this dedication takes you?  Well, the public will eventually realize that censorship in some fashion is occurring.  They can't be sure about your intentions or the truth....so they regard your news activity to be untrustworthy.

Over the last decade in the US, this went from being a routine but minor problem to being a major and daily problem.  The news media in the US is laughed at because of their method of telling news stories.  No one believes them.

You see the same trend going on in Germany.

As for the detained guys in this German story?  Four months down the line, some quiet court appearance will occur, with what I expect to be a zero-journalist coverage activity.  The women who reported this to the cops will shake their heads over the situation, and the cops from this city will mostly laugh because they all know the key facts to the story.  It's a non-news story to tell to the public though.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

German News Bits (Sun Morning)

Because of the increasing amount of 'URL cannot be found' on a number of German news sites when you try to post a story to Facebook....I've come to the decision that it's an unusual timing that this started in the last four weeks.  It'll usually revolve around a controversial story which the news media will report, but they don't want you to cite it or pass it around.

So my new strategy is to post one single essay per day with the dozen odd short 'essay-notes' via Schnitzel Republic and just post that 'news collection' in one single Facebook listing.  I'd prefer to cite the source of the news.  I've become particular about real citings....refusing to use fake news listings.

So for Sunday, the 28th, I noted the following news items:

Boat migrants off Libya: Yahoo-Australia reports 10,000 migrants on rafts have had to be rescued within the past four days off Libya.  At least 1,200 were rescued by Libya vessels and taken back to Libya.  This may be the start of the summer season migrant bulk-movement that BILD talked about last week.  Course, if you paid a $1,000 expecting the charity folks or Italian navy to rescue you...dragging to European land.....you might be kinda upset that you got dragged back to a Libya port.

RV spots booked: SWR reports that most all RV sites around Lake Constance (to the far south) are fully booked up.  When you start to notice real warm weather....the RVers go full-blast turbo now for weekends.

Facebook and naked butts: One of the immortal statues around Germany....is the Hercules up at Kassel....on top of the hill.  One of the local tourist accounts wanted to post up a picture of the Hercules statues (which has a naked butt) and FB said no.....so they had to invent some swim-wear fake insert....to make sure FB was happy.  Picture of the 'before' and 'after' at the HR site.  Bit amusing but people really can't handle naked statue butts.

False German narrative.  Focus wrote up an entire piece to tell the alternative story to why German car-makers are getting negative coverage in this Trump episode.  Oddly, they don't bring up BMW-Mexico.

The best way to explain the effect of BMW-Mexico?  Imagine that VW stock dropped big-time (for a fine or diesel troubles) and General Motors decided to take profits and buy control of VW.  It would not be a happy event for the Germans.  But imagine six months later that VW announces that two new VW vehicles (in planning stages for three years) were to be finally produced...but in Romania, under a creation of VW-Romania.  They'd naturally produce the vehicles at 30-percent less cost, and import them into Germany.  Hostility at not only losing the job potential, but having these vehicles sold with the profits going to VW-Romania and possibly avoiding the German tax structure.  How angry and frustrated would Germany get with that type of commercial activity?

Helene Fischer soccer game 'concert'.  Last night, I sat and watched the Frankfurt-Dusseldorf soccer game (championship game) on TV.  At the half-time point, they dragged out the legendary Helene for a ten-minute period and she sang a couple of songs.  Sound?  Extremely lousy.  I don't think the guys at the stadium (probably 95-percent men) really cared or not.  Total waste to even put on a half-time show at a soccer game.  Probably a quarter of the audience is lit up on alcohol or beer anyway.

G7 Coverage.  It's safe to say....German public TV (ARD) labeled the G7 meeting a massive failure, and blamed it on Trump.  The curious thing though, if you went and examined the last dozen G7 meetings....nothing of any real significance was ever accomplished except a lot of talking and some joint dinner.  It's amazing how one can tell the story and think that any of these G7 meetings ever turn into productive work.

Spain and unemployment.  Excellent N-TV piece on Spanish protests from yesterday (Sat).  For several years, Spain has been sitting in the midst of bad economic times.  In the last quarter, they've finally been able to edge the unemployment rate down to 19-percent, which is a positive but it means a heck of a lot of people are just sitting around.  Lot of blame goes toward the various political figures that have come and gone.

Former SPD candidate for Chancellor finally speaks.  The last guy to run for Chancellor from the SPD Party was Peer Steinbrucke.  After that loss, he retired from politics.  So, N-TV did an interview with him and he labeled the current SPD-Schulz effort in this campaign as mostly going nowhere.  He particularly noted that this idea of a SPD-Linke Party-Green Party coalition was the wrong thing to advertise in the western part of Germany.  He's suggesting that this will be a fairly massive loss for the SPD in September as the national election comes.

Public TV Pay Scale Story

Rarely are salaries at German public TV ever discussed in public.  It's not something that the two main networks or the sub-networks want to be part of any discussion.

Focus came up today and published a story on this.

Oddly, they didn't get it via the normal means.  This story started out in a Christian news type publication....Chrismon.  Chrismon pulls this from an internal public media document, which wasn't widely publicized....for whatever reason one can imagine.

WDR director Tom Buhrow: 399,000 Euro

BR-director Ulrich Wilhelm: 367,000 Euro

NDR director Lutz Marble: 348,000 Euro

SWR Director Peter Boudgoust: 338,000 Euro

HR Director-General Manfred Krupp: 275,000 Euro

MDR director Karola Wille: 275,000 Euro

RBB Director Patricia Schlesinger: 257,000 Euro

Radio-Bremen director-in-chief Jan Metzger: 257,000 Euro

SR-Director Thomas Kleist: 237,000 Euro

Shocking amount?  No.  I would not classify as such.  Some of the chiefs probably are surprised at the level they are paid compared to an associate under NDR or SWR.....like the HR chief looking at a substantial difference in pay compared to his associate in WDR or BR.

Oddly though....this mention covers everyone outside of the ZDF or ARD empire....just NOT ARD or ZDF themselves.  A separate page or document for the big chiefs?  Maybe.

To the question why a Christian news media site published this?  That also is an odd part to the story.  You would think that they wouldn't really deal with stories like this.

One Manchester Detail

If you were looking for a in-depth profile of the Manchester bomber....Salman Abedi....then I would strongly recommend reading over the The Guardian piece from yesterday.

One particular detail which does stand out, and generally always comes up in these bomber attacks....unemployment.

Abedi, 23 years old, never held a regular job in his life.

If you go look at most of these episodes over the past four years....these are mostly individuals who held some shadow-like position as a small-time drug-thug, or pretender-student at some school.  Beyond that....very few of these individuals are ever gainfully employed.  You will be hard-pressed to find anyone who was a welder, a carpenter, or some trade-craft guy....in the middle of some terror act.

It's an odd trend that you just stand over and observe.

You can write up excuses and say that by attending university or a trade occupation school....you are progressing to a point of getting a job.  But if you are mostly a pretender-student, and still unemployed at age 21....what's really going on in your life?  Are you a loser?  Are you just aiming at some worthless life position?

You can't really write up a decent resume at age 21 and include the fact that over the last year or two....most of your income either came from the family, or via illicit drug sales.

This is the odd continuing aspect of most of these 'gentlemen'.....they've become early-age pot-smokers and gotten into some loser attitude.  Then they get all religious and driven into some mental process where nothing makes sense.....except a quick route to some great beyond.

Suicide in this situation simply relieves them of the pain of continuing a loser situation.  It's a sad end for a human life, and the fact that they just drag other people along into their misery makes it ten times worse.

The 'Evil' Comment by Trump

This week as President Trump visited Germany.....he had a meeting with the top EU official, and hyped up the 'evil' nature of Germany and it's export situation.

How does this get picked up and dramatically hyped in Germany?

First, let's be honest about German exports.  Fifty years ago, there would have been a long list of things that might have been imported into the US from Germany.  Over the past fifty years....a lot of German companies went down, and various things shifted to China, Asia, or eastern Europe.

The list of the primary things that come from Germany into the US?  Four items mostly, cars, chemicals, electrical items, and machinery.

If you want precise equipment for manufacturing purposes....you go to Germany and buy their equipment.  If you want high quality cars, you buy German.  If you want chemicals that are on the cutting edge of technology, then you mostly buy German.

The typical average American?  Other than some Craftsman-like tool set, the average guy has never bought anything German in his life.  If you had a decent income, you might have bought a German car.

Second, where the Trump leads onto is this one odd feature of the US-Canada-Mexico trade agreement where BMW built a factory in Mexico.  Does BMW-Mexico sell beyond the US?  Yes.  It's an international situation that has developed.  Lower pay scale attracted BMW to Mexico?  Yes.  BMW vehicles imported into Germany?  No.....that will probably never occur.  You can ask the Germans about this who are aware of the situation, and they will mostly grin and say nothing.

Third, global manufacturing and trading have created this fairly screwed up situation, which I tend to see as being unfixable.  This BMW-500 series vehicle made in Mexico and sold in the US?  If you were to compare the German version and the Mexico version.....it's the same vehicle, just made by two different folks.  The cost difference is never discussed in public but I would take a humble guess that it's at least 25-percent cheaper if Mexican-made.  The thing is....there's nothing wrong with a cheaper manufacturing profile.  It's not unethical or illegal.

So, you come to the Trump comment to the EU guy....'evil' is uttered.  What Trump refers to is the way that BMW is taking advantage of the trade agreement with Mexico.  One might look at the trend, and suggest that in twenty years....dozens of major brand names from Europe will also have Mexico plants and eventually....Mexico might be some dynamic player in car manufacture through North and South America.....at the expense of the US.  "Evil" has a way of fitting into this discussion if you look long-term.

Germans hyped up?  Well....the German news media, particularly the public news media (ARD/ZDF) might have a fairly negative view.  They've yet to go and really profile into the topic of BMW-Mexico and the jobs siphoned off from Germany to Mexico.  I doubt if this is something that BMW would openly like to discuss.

US plants in Germany?  Well....yes.  Ford has been around for decades.  Oddly, Ford has increased it's production line in Romania where they find cheaper cost values.  So, in the same way....various companies are finding Romania and Bulgaria somewhat like Mexico.  Nokia moved it's German cellphone production line out of Germany more than a decade ago....into Romania.

There's a lot of 'evil' stuff going on, and being driven by commercial desires of a cheaper product.  It's that simple.

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Netflix Topic

I'm one of those people in Germany....signed with Netflix.  My son (German and 26) is a Netflix-devotee as well.

Why?

My typical logic is that there are various US-produced shows and movies....which simply fit to what I want to watch.  At 10 Euro a month, it simply makes sense.  I'm not that thrilled or overwhelmed over what German public TV offers....that kinda fits into this logic as well.

My son will say it comes down to three basic issues.  First, German public TV has a formula that is roughly fifty years old and designed mostly for people over the age of forty.  Second, this documentary and news format amuses him to a fair degree....being biased or designed to bring you to some anticipated conclusions. Third, sports-wise, it's such a wide placement that you just kind of shake your head over 90-percent of what is offered (he has no interest in boxing, Olympics, bike races, track and field, women's soccer, or ski events).

I kinda agree with the fundamental issue of German public TV and the movie creation crowd.  They basically go out and find the top sixty romance/murder/comedy books sold over the last year or two, and buy the movie rights.    Then they assign a couple of German actors to the project, tape up a 90-minute movie, and out of a hundred average Germans....you find roughly fifteen to twenty who might be curious enough to watch.  The bulk of German society....has zero interest.

What Netflix did is a challenge to the German public TV crowd.  They went to writers and producers, and asked....what's the gravy-project that you'd really like to make into a movie?  So they have shows like Fargo and Orange is the New Black....which German public TV managers can look at and just shake their heads over.  Netflix is like a decade ahead of the power curve.  For that matter....shows like Arrow, Flash, and Big Bang Theory.....are all way beyond the imagination capability of the German public TV crowd.  They can't produce what the 15-to-25 year old Germans want.

It's an odd thing.  German teens now....ask for birthday gifts of a year's subscription to Netflix or Amazon.  They want choice.  They want imagination.

I sat today....amazed over a EU regulation which got dreamed up and apparently passed this week.  They want to force Amazon and Netflix to carry 30-percent of it's inventory....as EU-produced shows.  Fines would be tossed into the mix, if they don't cooperate.

Can Netflix fit into this?  If you go and look....around 15-percent (my humble guess) of the offerings are European  movies or German comedians. There are various projects in the books at present to make some German TV shows in the future.  Thirty-percent?  It might difficult to meet that requirement....unless Netflix just goes out and buys viewing rights to some 1980s Polish soap operas, or 1990s Italian 'Baywatch-like' series.  Netflix viewers won't watch the crap but the EU regulation doesn't care.

Why did the EU go and do this?  They seem to think that American influence will occur via the television shows offered.  To some degree, I think they also worry that US production companies will benefit more than European companies....unless you regulate this.

A new Marvel series based on some German super-hero, produced by Netflix?  One might laugh about that.  It's practically impossible to get German public TV to make a science fiction series....hasn't been done since the 1960s.  Space Patrol Orion....one season....seven episodes....1966.  That's it.  You can go and ask the public TV mafia about this and they just can't imagine making anything like that....ever again.

It's two entirely different cultures at work.  Netflix has creativity and dreamers.....German public TV has a 50-year formula and no desire to change.  One has virtually everyone under 25, and the other everyone over forty.

Spiegel Article

Spiegel article worth a read.

Heavy on Trump criticism. Odd thing about this German article though.

Trump had a private conversation with EU's chief, Juncker.  Angry comments over German export profits.  Well, three months ago....France was uttering the exact same thing.  A lot of European countries are angry over the German profits and how it screws them.  Some pretender comments about Trump being the only one talking over German exports.

Note one other thing....if you tried to go and just link this direct to Facebook....it won't work.  It says the URL is not there.  Another comical effort to lessen the passage of German articles around in public.  So you just type up a five-liner essay, and link it via Blogger.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Apartment Regulation Efforts

There's a piece in Focus today which talks on the issue of affordable apartments.

So for probably a decade, there's been this issue brewing in metropolitan cities in Germany...affordable apartment dwindling.  This goes toward three central issues.  First, while rural regions of Germany are decreasing in size....it's the opposite effect in cities like Hamburg, Berlin, Frankfurt, etc.  Second, building owners have figured out that if you renovate a building (say for the first time since 1960)....you can probably double the rental income of 700 Euro a month (which tends to make the place unaffordable to half of the normal city residents).  Third, whether the politicians like to admit it or not....income levels over the past twenty years have been mostly stagnant....even in urbanized zones.

Up in Koln, folks have noticed this odd trend.  There are tons of applications to build apartments in the region.  If you look back two years ago as an example in Berlin, they had 22,000 apartments on the city books to be built.  A large majority of these would have been in the affordable category.

But here's this funny thing....just because you have a permit to build on such-and-such property....an apartment building, it does NOT mean that you will build in the time cycle that you described, and that you might take the slow path to such a degree....that maybe someone will see a better speculation deal, and offer to buy the lot, and get the permit with the deal....then build non-affordable apartments or condos.

So there is this suggestion....once you earn a permit to build...it needs to state a period (probably two years but that is only suggested).

The chance to speculate or stall?  Gone....if this were to be adapted by the city.

There are continual efforts to invent city regulations and rules throughout Germany....to satisfy the need for affordable apartments.  It's safe to say that very few of these efforts are working.

Getting cities to do their own investing and building (like they did decades ago in Vienna)?  You'd end up borrowing a fair amount of money via a bond program, and the affordability rates would be in relationship to what people can actually pay.  You might start to see ghetto-like neighborhoods go up because that was the customers that the housing was designed for.  None of the political parties really want that reputation hooked to them.

This rule change to hinder the companies hooked onto speculation?  I suspect that they'd go and find great legal ways to challenge the time limits and have the legal system draw this out for three to seven years.