Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Bull-Fighter Story

At some point in the 1300s....a lonely Spanish guy from Bilbao, Spain (on the northern edge of the country, ended up walking from this coastal town....to a small village in central Germany.....by the name of Naurod.  It's an hour's walk northeast out of Wiesbaden to reach this valley of sorts.  There's not much in Naurod or the valley to get all peppy about.  No castles, no fortresses, no rivers, no wine districts.....not even a fancy church (at least in that period of time.

Why he left Bilbao?  No one knows.  It is along the way to Saint James....the trail that Catholics took for showing their dedication to the religion.  You had to stop in Bilbao....on the way to Saint James end-point.

Maybe some tired and worn-out traveler reached a point of doubting his ability to make and complete the trip, and this lonely Spanish guy volunteered to escort him back safety.

Upon arrival in Naurod....remember, it's not much of a town in those days, with a population of probably no more than 150 villagers....the guy probably stood there and watered his horse.

I doubt if they had that many strangers pass through, and there might have been a thousand questions that were thrown at the guy.

No one today knows the name of the guy.  He might have been Ricardo Sanchez, or Hugo Garcia, or Ernesto Perez.

What ended up happening is that the villagers took some liking to the guy....offering up some hospitality, and for some odd reason, he stayed.

The thing is....whatever name he gave them.....just wasn't easy to remember or pronounce.  So, they decided that he was the "bull-fighter" and gave him the German translation for the word.

So as the months and years went by.....his old name went by the wayside, and he accepted this nickname of sorts, which became his new Germanized name.  In some ways, I would imagine that he admired the name after a while, and it probably helped in terms of catching admiration from the ladies.  You know how it is with German ladies.....a regular common roofer, or a farmer, some plain old butcher....well....that's not that special.  But a bull-fighter, in the midst of a German village?  Oh, that's different.

So, the months, years and decades passed.

Today, it is probably one of the least known names in Germany today.....although they've been around over five-hundred years.  If you did a phone search?  Well....there is one such person appearing in Baviara, and a handful around the Wiesbaden area, and maybe a dozen-odd folks in Naurod itself.  Because of the declining birth-rate, fewer and fewer of this name-sake will exist.

The bull-figher clan?  I doubt if any of them really grasp that or take it serious.

Somewhere in the back of this whole story, there probably is some five-star story ready to be made into a movie.  But you will never why this guy packed up and left, and why he stayed.....or his original name.  

(Note: I am married to the descendant of the bull-fighter, but it's best not to bring this up.  She gets all testy when I challenge her Germanness).

What Are the Improvements of the German Safety Plan?

Based on the Chancellor's comment today, these are the nine areas to be improved to save Germany from the terrorists:

1.  An early warning system.  Somehow, they want some mechanism built to warn them of radicalization in the asylum process or integration process.  Someone within the political players apparently thinks they can invent this process to ID radicals.  Even if they did.....then what?  Would they immediately go and lock the guy up or would they spend six months trying to get him to leave? This is one of those ideas that look good on paper but never works in real life.

2.  Personnel.  There is to be some order going down to improve staff personnel and improve technical equipment on hand.  I imagine they mean computer and internet security.

3.  Decryption staffs improved.  More efforts to decode messages are somewhere in this mix.  It'll cost money, but Germany has some of the best computer geeks in the world.....why not turn them loose and pay them a check for real services.

4.  Bundeswehr.  The Chancellor hints that it's time to write some clear piece down and pass it via the Bundestag that allows the German Army to work with the Police, when required.  The SPD?  They've stood against this, as well as the Green Party, in the past.  It's hard to say if this will occur now or not.  The one issue that will come up.....you might have some German Army people who say they won't work against their "own" people, and that will really hype up the general public about who these people think they are serving.

5.  Research / prevention.  They want every single possible idea laid out on the table, and bright ideas to get funding for research.  Anything that seems to indicate a positive solution.....will get funding to go ahead.  Again, it'll be curious what comes out of this idea.

6.  Europe-linked.  Every single source of terror data needs to be linked and available across the EU.  If the cops in Prag know something about this one guy sitting in Koln.....the cops in Koln ought to have access to that folder of data.  Getting them all to share this?  The EU would have to invent something and force everyone to play.  I have doubts that they'd all agree to this.

7.  Waffenrecht.  Basically another round of EU gun laws.  At the minimum, they want trade/purchase across country lines to be impossible.  I would take a guess that most in the EU would agree, and this one simple request would go through.  Everything else related to more gun laws?  Forget it.

8.  News services.  They want across the board in Europe and the US.....news sources to limit comments about names or accomplishments of the terrorists.  It would be Mr X and very limited information about the act accomplished.  In essence.....the public would find little out about these acts....so some folks will be hostile about this and say that it's to hide the screwed up policies of political figures from the public.

9.  Finally....moving failed applicants along.  They want the system to work, and get folks as quickly as possible on a plane out of Germany.  On this, the public would support this, and there's no reason why a guy couldn't be told on a Monday afternoon that he failed the application, and he'd be on the Tuesday plane back to his country.  The Green Party and Linke Party won't support this, and no one from the SPD said much.

Will any of the nine things really improve much?  Each has a positive and if they were all passed and working.....I think in six to twelve months....they would have some affect.  But right now?  Zero effect.  The first one which could be passed in a matter of the next month?  Both the Waffenrecht idea for the EU folks and the moving applicants on quickly within the Bundestag....both would be easy to accomplish.

If I were a German.....I would at least be happy they invented some ideas out of thin air.  But I would be asking why they didn't do these last month?  And I would be facing this reality.....there really isn't much left that they can invent if these fail....except to get rid of religious freedom and allowing the public to be armed.....which really change Germany if we ever get down to that degree of acceptance.

Resigning Isn't Part of the Game

There was a quickly arranged news conference for Chancellor Merkel today.  Normally, she'd do one at the end of the summer vacation period for the Berlin leadership.  Because of the attacks....they pushed this forward.

So, toward the end of this.....after she'd said a bit about the improvements they were going to push forward on security....some reporter finally got to the "resignation" question....which was asked in a friendly way....more or less....when such an event would be planned.  The Chancellor was more or less.....annoyed and answered little to nothing on the question.

Can she resign?  Well.....if you ask the public....it's somewhere near 50-percent (or was back in Jan/Feb timeframe) of German society that felt it was the right time to go.

But there's this big problem.....even if she goes....who comes up next to save Germany and refocus things?

Almost all of the top ten CDU members after Merkel are pro-asylum and pro-immigration. If you go to the opposition party....the SPD....their top ten people are also of the same 'flavor'.

If we had to go to a national election right now?  That's another curious thing.....other than the AfD Party......no other major party is suggesting massive changes on immigration.

The public?  I would take a reasonable guess that almost fifty percent of the public wants a major change, but half of them are UNWILLING to vote AfD.  This is mostly because of the limited to marginal platforms that exist after immigration and security.  Plus there is this maturity problem of the AfD.....they just don't have a dozen-odd characters ready to go at the national level.

If you went and asked the top people in the CDU Party out of Berlin.....none of them would agree that she should resign....but mostly because no one has any idea how to craft a different platform and NOT seem Nazi-like if they went anti-immigration.   It's almost telling some comedian that they want some funny jokes but then tell the guy of 14,000 things that you can't make fun or joke about.

We are almost 15 months away from the national election, and leaving via some resignation just won't work.  So, as painful as it sounds, and frustrating Germans almost weekly.....this leadership situation will remain the same.

The Multiculturalism Fairy Tale

Multiculturalism in Germany.....also starts off with "once upon a time".  Depending on who tells the story, it gets weaved into a positive story for about two minutes, and then they hit some point where the rest of the story can't be told, or it's some woeful tale that dissolves to the point where the story-teller is looking at the floor...mumbling about a lost fantasy.

I've waited for a long time for some German mind (Helmholtz, Kepler, Humbolt, Einstein, etc) to sit down and give some wit and brilliance at a televised political chat forum on German state-run TV on the history and spiral of multiculturalism in Germany.  It's yet to happen.

So, let me offer some observations.

Since the period of enlightenment, Germans have been open-minded and looking for inspiration, wisdom, and culture from other lands (for long period, that meant bringing in people from France, Russia, England, and Italy).

When they said multiculturalism in the original period....what they were talking about was great music, opera, art, literature, science, and technology.  Having some great adventurous Brit come and give a two-hour talk over his expedition to deepest Africa at the University in Frankfurt....was a great positive of multiculturalism.  Hearing a recital of some Austrian composer....was a great positive of multiculturalism.  Having a display in Koln of great Japanese erotic art....well, it was a great positive of multiculturalism.

Around the summer of 1914, it can be said that a bump in the road occurred and for five years....multiculturalism was defeated....mostly non-existent.

After the war, for a decade....various characters were in some stage of rebuilding the charm and character of multiculturalism.  By the mid-1930s.....it was put on ice.

After WW II....for roughly a decade or two.....multiculturalism was something you talk about as ancient history....as German museums were being rebuilt, and opera houses were being reassembled "brick by brick".

It is in the 1960s that you can see and appreciate some return to the multicultural world.  Universities are inviting guest lecturers from Russia.  Art exhibits are being shown from various collections.  Germans are chatty about such-and-such singer from Italy or Spain who is warming their heart.  Opera is coming back.  Journalists are hyping up exhibits, shows, and the latest in literature from South America or Asia.

All the way through the 1980s....there's these wonderful things being delivered to German society with multiculturalism.  There are few questions asked or suggestions of braking on the topic.

So the movement of migrants starts to occur.  There is rapid acceptance of Italians, Greeks and Spaniards in Germany.  To some degree, even the Turks brought in for the industrial jobs are readily accepted.

My humble view is that around the 1990s....as you looked at various urbanized areas of Germany....the term "ghetto" started to be used.  Intellectuals refused to use the term, but cops and regular people did use it.

In the last fifteen years, what can be said is that a number of cultures and societies moved into Germany who had no art, no literature, no music, and no science to share.  The intellectual crowd and politicians still conveyed the term multiculturalism, but it was a fraudulent connection to the term.

Since the hyped up period of immigration, refugees, and migrants (2013)....more than half of German society don't buy into multiculturalism anymore.  Even the Chancellor noted about two years ago, that it's now a failure.  Intellectuals won't go and admit it much.....but it's not hyped by the press quiet as much anymore.

As long as multiculturalism could deliver art, music, literature, and science.....it had sense to it.  Without those things, it makes no sense.

In the sense of a fairy tale, this is where you'd like to say that Snow White woke up and married the prince, but in this case....Snow White realized the Prince was a loser....got on her horse, and took off to the next kingdom for another potential prince.....ending there at that point, without any real solid conclusion.  It's a sad way to end such a story, but that's one of the limitations of being an intellectual....some things just don't work out.

Crime in Simple Terms

If you had been an American stationed around in Germany in 1989 and had a good view of crime in Germany at the time.....then came back today, I think you would be shaking your head and astonished at the different environment which exists today.

On the topic of pick-pockets....you rarely saw any German urbanized area with this problem in 1989.  Today?  I'd say almost all of the urbanized areas have this problem....some more....some less.  Snatch and go crimes are common in every significant German city now....with cellphones stolen at hefty rates.  Young thugs from Romania and gypsy gangs are mostly the ones blamed for the upswing.  You have to pay attention to those around on a constant basis.

On the topic of stolen cars....it's typically Audi, Mercedes and BMWs that get stolen.  They've figured out the signal technology to unlock the doors.  Most of these episodes occur between 11PM and 4AM.  On the rare occasions that the thieves are caught....it usually leads back to very small groups of thieves from eastern Europe.  The cars?  Cops tend to say they go toward Czech, and disappear.  The suggestion is that they get into Russia....get registered into the system there and cops just look the other way.  The other game played is parts stolen (tires, safety airbags, GPS systems, etc)....always from Audi, Mercedes and BMW.  In my village of 4,000 people....if you go back to 1989, there were zero cars stolen.  In 2015, around 11 cars that disappeared overnight (my renter had her Audi stolen from in front of the house).

On the topic of assaults....it's generally always at night.  It might be one or two guys who just want to take a swing at you.....or some type of robbery intent.

On the topic of fake cops....it happens on a unpredictable basis.  Three days ago right before sun-down, a car pulls up in Wiesbaden with three guys who flash a badge and ask a German woman to allow them to view her purse.  After they handed the purse back.....they drove off.....she was missing a couple hundred Euro.  Typically it's against tourists.

On the topic of break-in's....it's a regular event now in urbanized areas....almost like a candy store door has been left open.  People are starting to install alarms at a significant rate.  Cops who do catch these folks....usually determine they are east European in nature....Bulgarian or Romanian.

On the topic of drugs....it goes now to all extremes.  Meth can be easily bought....it gets brought into the country from small labs in Czech (the cops say this anyway). Cocaine can be easily bought.  Heroin, LSD, etc.....all within the grasp of German society today.  The users aren't at the same level or rate as you'd see in the US....at least not yet.

On the topic of snatch and go at stores....it's now interfering with normal operations.  Stores are having to spend money on theft-control.  We aren't talking about the normal or big shops....I'm talking about the small two-person operation grocery store.  Even they are getting hit.

On the topic of murders....they might be lucky and see this rate at some similar range of the 1980s.  These usually fall into the jealous relationship area, or just some bad luck in the midst of a robbery.

Germans are a bit hyped up and the political folks are reacting.....hiring more cops.  When you go into a train-station these days in Germany, you will see at least one foot-patrol on duty.  In a station like Frankfurt, there's probably two patrols roaming the station.  If you go to the Frankfurt airport, there are probably five or six foot-patrols roaming the airport now.  

The blame?  Germans will tell you that when the wall came down....it started up around this era.  They will also talk about the cutbacks on cops in the 1990s....to save money.  And Germans will be critical about the foreigners involved in the escalation of crime.

All of this pumps up the agenda of politicians and forces some conversations that never seem to go anywhere or fix anything.  That's the sad part about this story.....nothing is going away.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

News From the Weekend

Criticism has come after the long weekend in Germany, with several terrorist acts accomplished and the various news networks....state-run and commercial....covered these in various ways.

First, I will say, from my own view....the commercial networks (N-TV and N-24) did a better job.  RTL News on Monday night....did a great job in summing up everything.

Second, the state-run news from ZDF and ARD showed a limited amount of video from the scene, and simply repeated what the police spokesperson basically said.....with little else.

What has come over the last day or two....are complaints from the general public.

Some Germans are very unhappy that real video of shooting was shown on the commercial networks.  Their feeling is that sensationalized the news.

Some Germans are disturbed at the amount of speculation that was allowed to feed into the news....mostly from the commercial networks.

Some Germans just wanted the simple facts....no big four-star story.

One of the things that I've come to notice over the years of viewing state-run news in Germany is that they package everything into a simplified story.  There's a short video shown....twelve lines max of information....bit-size, as you might say.  Maybe a map with just a city, maybe a river, and the outline of the state or country.

If you ask me....the bulk of German society got used to plain menu selection of the news.  But then you have to ask yourself.....why did they flip away from the state-run news and watch it via the commercial news networks instead?  Were they like me.....feeling like the state-run news service was marginally telling you much of anything?

I would make five observations about Germans and news delivery:

1.  If this story is complicated and requires more than five minutes to tell the whole thing, then it needs to be spoon-fed process, with a story-teller reporter instead of the typical journalist.

2.  If there is a slant to the story.....the network has to stick to the slant and not change this later with an update saying "sorry, we led you to a deceitful conclusion which we were wrong to do".

3.  Public chat forums on state-run are for getting public persuasion to go in a certain way.  That comes later after the nightly news.  This is where you can focus five guests on getting things leading the public to believe a particular version of the story.

4.  Use of comical photos of various world leaders will be used on a frequent basis with state-run TV news.  The commercial network news groups rarely if ever, do something that immature.

5.  It's rare that anyone from the university or foundation systems ever look at public consumption of the news and how they get their daily news.  It would be interesting but I think they don't really want to spill the beans that fewer than 20-percent of the public watches state-run news (my speculation).

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

How Open-Carry Would Work in France or Germany

First, to relieve a German who might get all frustrated and hostile that it's against the law, and absolutely wrong for a stupid American to suggest such behavior or lawlessness to occur.....let's get the fact out there.  Open Carry does not exist in Germany or France....it is absolutely against the law.  It would absolutely change the nature and character of people in a terrible way if this had to occur.

Now, take a deep breathe.

Let's assume over the next 18 months that several things happen.  First, more random attacks with knives, swords, cars, dynamite, and guns occur.....with two people here, ten people there, and occasionally forty to sixty people killed.  Let's assume that the spring election in France for the office of President goes badly and the right-wing wins a dramatic vote.  Then let's assume that a vast amount of hostility and frustration exists in Germany with politics and inability to make the nation safe.  Then let's assume the shocker in November of 2017, with the AfD actually getting 37-percent or more of the national vote, and partnering with a junior party to run Germany.

All of these things are impossible, but realistically, we are heading down this road.

So my proposition here....is that you will reach a stage by the end of 2017, where normal fixes and solutions won't work.  The public reaches the stage where Open Carry is now an open topic and to be discussed.

This is how it would work.

You continue the normal license paperwork, and authorization that exists currently.

You extend out the option of being a reserve police member of your nation, which will require a review of a police authority.  If you are on some watch list, or have arrests.....you don't go any further in the process.  If you have military or police training in your background....you go to the front of the line.

Once given a reserve police badge (of any variety), you are deputized by the local police commissioner to provide support to his organization.  You are now allowed to apply for a normal gun permit.  Once granted (it may take three months to achieve the course, requirements, etc).  You are now authorized to carry a weapon in public....at any time.  It can be a pistol, rifle, or shotgun.

This police reserve duty will carry one simple rule.....you cannot drink or use illegal narcotics while on duty and carrying a weapon.  If you break such a rule.....you permanently lose your license.

The public now has to accept the fact that on such-and-such bus each morning....there are twelve retired guys on it, four with shotguns, and the rest with pistols.

In the first year of this, I would anticipate fifty-odd individuals who are shot in some way while violating the safety of the public.

Journalists will hate this situation and demand an end to this.  Somewhere around the second year, you start to notice fewer and fewer terrorist incidents.  Reporters will try to claim that weapons are no longer required, but the public won't buy off on their message.

Ten years down the road.....the number of reserve duty members will be cut back and curtailed.

I'm not saying this is the best solution....but if you had across France today.....two million people armed with shotguns....it might send a message and lessen the threat to some degree.  I do agree....this is not how civilization should enabled.  But we apparently have some uncivilized people who've arrived and very determined to lessen the existence of civilization.  What exactly should we do then?  Let them succeed?

Ten German Things That Will Never Be Introduced into the US

This is my list of things which are typically German but just won't make it or be introduced into the US.

1.  Wine and beer consumption at age 16.  The Germans don't see a problem with this.  Go try and convince some American community to allow it.

2.  Unlimited speeds on interstates.  Germans allow on approximately fifty percent of all autobahns....unlimited speeds.  Because of the vehicle inspections and standards set....it works.  In the US?  Never.

3.  Massive use of trams.  I'd take a guess that about forty major urban areas of Germany use trams as part of their public transportation. Various suburbs are closely connected to major cities.  In the US, very few urban communities want to utilize the idea.

4.  Multi-party politics.  The Republicans and Democrats don't want anything to threaten the system they have in place.  The one key feature of the German system is that you tend to find a party that will fit your comfort zone on 90-percent of platform features.  Most Republicans and Democrats will admit....there's always a third of their party's platform which they simply cannot be happy about.  The other unique feature to this is that you have to build coalitions to run a government, which means you have to limit the amount of insults that you use in some political campaign.

5.  Kinder-eggs (the chocolate).  Americans freak out that these toy pieces might be eaten by a two-year old kid.

6.  Tough TUV car inspections.  It's hard for a 15-to-20 year old German car to pass a vehicle inspection unless the owner really makes an effort to keep up the car.  Americans would freak out if the same stringent rules fell into place and they had to go and spend $1,200 to make it qualified for another two years on the road.

7.  Two cops in a patrol vehicle.  You just won't find one single German cop in a patrol vehicle by himself.  They travel and patrol in pairs.  American communities would cite the cost of too many cops and it's just too much for a community to plan around and pay for.

8.  Tough laws on DWI.  When you get cited for a DWI, there's virtually no defense you can offer.....you will lose that license under the German system.  Even if your work is 40 miles away.....tough luck. Go and suggest the same stringent system in the US and watch how everyone gets hyped up against that kind of system.

9.  Liberal drinking standards.  You walk into any German cafe, restaurant, or imbis.....and they offer up beer and wine options.  The most that German communities might limit is the opening or closing hours.  There is simply no such thing as a dry country in Germany.  Go and try to suggest that across the US.

10.  Mandatory chimney inspections.  If you live in a German village or town....their standards for fire safety will require you get a chimney inspection on a routine basis.  A guy will come out and you have to allow him access to the roof and the chimney has to inspected and possibly cleaned.  Go try and mandate to a US community.