Saturday, October 22, 2016

Post-Card in the Mail

This week in my German mailbox, I got a postcard advertisement from Scientology.  Basically, they wanted to let me know that I'm only using 10-percent of my full brain-power.  I could be doing so much more.....if I'd just contact them, discuss my options, and sign up with their religion.

It's a new method of trying to reach out into the German community and drum up more 'business'.

Scientology had a rough start in Germany.  For a number of years, they were 'branded' as a non-religion and that tax-free status was not available to them.  At some point a couple of years ago, they finally convinced the government to give them the tax-free religion status.  Some people suggest that various foreign government entities (pointing back at the US) got involved and put pressure on the topic.

Since that change, it's safe to say that they haven't advanced far in recruiting Germans.  Few news outlets figure the number but I'd take a rough guess that it's in the 4-digit range.

The issue of getting acceptance among Germans goes to three key factors about Germans.

First, there's a large segment of the population who are middle-class or working-class, and they really don't have cash to throw at some religion or enhancement-service.  If we were talking about 40 Euro a month, then maybe....but it's hard to find any Scientology service which rates at such level.  The intended target has to be the upper class.

Second, Germans are a bit skeptical about religions anyway.  It doesn't matter if we are talking about a dozen different religions....they would sit and ask questions....expecting some reasonable answers.  In a group of 50 Germans, with some Scientology guy doing his sales-pitch....I doubt if he'd find more than one or two people (with ample money to spend) who'd be willing to listen to more than 10 minutes of the pitch.

Third and final, there's the problem of state-run TV news.....which has done pieces on Scientology and questioned it as a religion.  Germans watch these and accept the pitch by the news people.  Convincing them to go against the news pitch?  It would be difficult.

As for this post-card influencing me?  I'm using all the brain-power I have and am fairly satisfied with my output.  Maybe if I were doing rocket-science might interest me but if I got so smart.....might I question this as a religion and ask more questions?

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Topics of the 2017 German Election?

This is my list of what the general public will say that they are concerned about and want political dialog.

1.  Immigration and integration.  As long as the 250,000 entry level continues.....the public will be happy and lessen this topic of immigration.  If Turkey decides to open the door and allow more refugees to make the crossing....with half-a-million hiking up in 2017, then it moves to the top of the list.  As for integration?  It's a cost factor mostly.  By the time you add up the shelter, the care, the language classes, and much is it and is it worth the money?

2.  Crime.  Robbery and break-ins are up.  The public wants more cops.  More cops have been hired.  My guess is that by mid-summer of 2017.....the public will even MORE cops hired and the parties will have to address this problem.

3. Terrorism. It leads back to Jihadists and most parties would prefer not to discuss this.

4.  Pension reform.  Frankly, in about fifteen to twenty'll be a problem.  They need to restructure and make people pay more.  You can guess the reaction of the general public.

5.  The Solidarity Tax.  It's supposed to end in 2019.  Almost no political party wants it to end.  The general public.....I'm guessing.....over 90-percent want it ended.

6.  Affordable housing in urbanized areas.  If you go to Frankfurt or Stuttgart or's a major issue.  But it's generally not the government's job to build and lease apartments.  They could make it financially interesting by leasing gov't property for 100-year periods to developers or finding some method to build high-speed rail out to outlying rural areas.

7.  School renovation funds.  Lately, a fair amount of talk has occurred with the condition of schools across Germany.  Frankly, they need billions and the money just isn't there for the amount of work they are talking about.

8.  State-run TV.  Politicians have no desire to mess with the structure or the tax.  The general public?  If you sat at some bar and brought this up.....half of society would like to see changes (like consolidation of ZDF and ARD).

9.  Press on for BREXIT to occur.  German politicians may wake up to find that several neighbors aren't willing to give the Brits a one-star exit deal, and that all this tough talk is worthless.

10.  Job growth needs to stay on track.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Reich Citizens?

For decades in Germany, this splinter oddball group....called "Reich citizens"....existed.  No one can say with any real evidence how many there are.  It might be might be might be thousands.

Out of the late 1930s....some individuals adapted to the Nazi-style behavior, and after the war ended....they didn't fall into line with the new German republic or accept the rules as most Germans did.

This week, a couple of cops were sent to a house in Georgensmund, a fairly rural town just south of Nuremberg.  They were supposed to evict a 49-year-old guy from the property.  Things didn't go well, and shots were fired (by both parties).  One cop is dead, and the other three wounded,

The shooter is a "Reich citizen".  He had a gun collection, and was prepared to meet any situation.

This "Reich citizen" thing then popped up big-time in mainstream German news (at least with the state-run TV crowd).  The political folks are all hyped up and noting that this has gone for long enough.  They want intelligence collection and arrests.

I've done a fair amount of research on the "Reich citizens".  They are an independent crowd.....or at least they claim that.  Generally, they will try to avoid paying taxes whenever possible.  For the most part, they state that German law simply doesn't apply to them.

 Neo-Nazis?  Yeah, in the basic sense of the term.....they want the standard laws that were in effect in the 1930s to be observed.

Oddly, if you think about it....the Nazis desperately wanted limited to marginal gun ownership.  With the Reich citizens.....most all of them are gun enthusiasts and all participate in the German gun license program, which means they have to obey the current German law....not the 1930s law.

The numbers?  In each region, there is a "club" or association in existence, and this is the connection of one group to another.  ARD says that for the Brandenburg region of Germany....there are roughly 200 members of the "Reich citizen" club.  But across all of Germany?  Only estimations exist and it's put at roughly a couple thousand.

Why any of this really matters?  The intellectuals and journalists have branded these "Reich citizens" as extremists and pressing for some police action.  As for arresting thousands?  No, that would look extremely foolish.  But they would go and invent a massive intelligence collection apparatus that would go and look upon private citizens.

So you sit there......pondering this massive intelligence collection apparatus and wonder.....who else might they then view, and might this broaden out?  Strangely enough....they would have gone and created the exact same intelligence collection apparatus that the Nazis of the 1930s would have created.  The obvious question is....who is the real Nazi?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Less Hours Story

I noticed in Yahoo Finance today that this got reported.  Americans (we aren't saying which variety)....are working more hours than Europeans.  The same study....conducted by economists at Arizona State University, Goethe University of Frankfurt, and McMaster University of Ontario....came to say that the average guy in Europe works 19-percent less than an American.

All of that equals 258 fewer hours a year.....per person.

The same study even indicated fewer vacation days taken by the Americans.

For years, I've observed this phenomenon and just scratched my head.

What do Germans do with the extra time?  That's another part of this story but left out by the university research team.

Germans can be divided up into three groups on this 'free' time deal:

1.  Sports.  I would take a guess that 10-percent of the people in my village....from age 30 to 65....have some sport deal built into their week (swimming, mountain-biking, workouts, tennis, soccer, etc).

2.  Gardening and landscaping.  I'd take a guess that a quarter of the population have some continuing project involving their garden or renovation for their house.

3.  Arts, culture, and 'clubs'.  A lot of Germans still dabble in painting, or language classes, or participate with their 'club'.

So, is there a negative to this?  A factory that has 3,000 employees in Germany....will take longer to build a product than in the US.  You can say it's unfair competition for the Germans because they can't produce the product at the same price.  But then you look at quality, and the German product will be better made than the US product in most cases.  Why the better quality?  The better lifestyle, less stress, less chaos, and happier prospective on life.

If you gave the American less hours and same pay?  I'm not sure it'd work.  Americans would probably go and find a second part-time job, or find something to get themselves into trouble (an affair, dangerous sport, etc).

Is it this way all over Europe?  The research team didn't really say that.  It might be interesting to compare the Germans against the Greeks, or the French against the Brits.  We might find some strange differences between the various cultures.

So the bottom line?  Huns, the German, is definitely working less than Larry, the American.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

"Terror", My Judgement

Last night on ARD (8:15) they ran "Terror, Your Judgement".  It was a 90-minute theater-like fictional piece where a Jihad-like character had taken over a German passenger plane, and was taking 160-odd passengers toward a soccer stadium with 70,000 fans sitting there.  A fighter jet was sent and had roughly a minute to assess things, and eventually the Captain on the fighter jet made the decision to shoot down the passenger jet.  A court hearing (which is what the whole 90 minutes took up) was to assess innocence or possible guilt of murder charges (160-plus dead).

I tuned in at the 9:00 point.....having spent three hours hanging wall-paper.

Bluntly, it would have taken me 3 seconds to make the same decision as the fighter-pilot.

So after this show ended, there is a vote opportunity.  You call in and vote.  Naturally my spend-thrift wife dictated in strong terms....that I couldn't vote (I think it would have been a 50-cent vote).  I would have voted 'not-guilty'.

But then came the second show.....Hart Aber Fair....where they discussed the matter with a political figure, a retired chief prosecutor, a theologian, and a retired fighter pilot.

Buried in the Basic Law, the German Constitution, is a statement that all people are entitled to life, period, no exception.

So the retired chief prosecutor went with the guilty view, and hyped that for the whole hour.  You can't get around this statement of all people entitled to life.  There is no waiver or by-pass.  Course, once they crashed into the stadium and killed the 70,000.....well....they were entitled to life to and how avoiding the take-down of the passenger jet is beyond me.

The vote?  Roughly 87-percent of Germans voted "not guilty".  Course, you have to factor in that probably few if any people under the age of 25 watched the movie or voted.  You also have to ask how many Germans watched this odd movie.  My humble guess is roughly 1 to 2 million, and then you have to ask how many actually voted, or how many were in spend-thrift homes (like me).  Maybe this entire vote is based on 80,000 people just don't know.

I should note this as well (which isn't much of a shock).....this morning, lots of people were noted in complaining that the call-in connection or vote-capability was over-whelmed and did NOT function perfectly.  So the vote? might have gone higher or lower.....but again, you just don't know.

I came to three conclusions by the end.

1.  This was created as an intellectual tool to introduce the topic to the public and let them participate in the judgement call.  Maybe it's just me, but why not allow other topics to be used as integration, over-spending by governments, state-run television, taxation, etc.  But I guess I'd be opening up a Pandora's Box.

2.  The Jihad-guy who triggered this fantasy airline disaster?  Never for a single minute on trial.  It was very obvious that they didn't want to discuss much of him, or how he took the plane, or his beliefs.  He's the one that should have been in the hot-seat.

3.  The Spock Rule is the bottom line: "The needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few".  You can value the lives of the 160-odd people on the plane, but their situation is determined by a crazed-half-wit Jihadist with no appreciation of life, the Basic Law, or human dignity.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The DNA Story

Toward the end of the week.....the cops came out and noted a DNA analysis episode, where they connected the murder of a young girl to a Nazi-thug (he's dead from a suicide five years ago).  It is a bit of a shocker.

A number of folks are asking stupid questions over this DNA connection and if it's screwed up.  German cops have this remarkable 'phantom-killer-DNA' episode that sits there in the past which makes them question this story.

The 'phantom-killer'?   Back around eight years ago, the German cops had one of their folks killed in some parking-garage and the DNA results led to a special folder.....a person who had murdered at least a dozen individuals.  There were a number of cops assigned to this case and major analysis was involved.

There were probably forty separate episodes.....where a break-in occurred and DNA was collected....ID'ing the phantom-killer in each one of these.  So eventually, a map was created.  Based on one single observer having seen the remarkable killer.....they felt they were dealing with a young lady who was probably 18 by that point, but she might have been as young as 15 when this killing episode started up.

Finally, one detective sat there and put a blank DNA swab in for test.  It was straight out of the touching anything.

Oddly, it came back with the phantom-killer DNA.

Naturally, this would make people suspicious.

The lab swore up and down.....they went precisely by the rules and had a clean lab.

So, they looked at the box of DNA swabs and decided to visit the factory....down in Austria.   They walk in and the manager is all happy and them a tour.  What they come to notice is that at some point.....the swabs are taken in a big handful by some Austrian gal, with her arms touching the swabs.  They asked the manager if he knew these were being re-packaged as DNA swabs.  Well, no.....he wasn't aware of that.  He sold their swabs to various companies and they used them in different ways.

The cops sat there.....all these hours.....thousands of hours.....spent on the phantom-killer episode, which is totally bogus.  Every single murder in this group?  They had to be set aside and investigated purely as a one-time event by one single person.  It was probably the most embarrassing event that the cops in Germany have ever had to admit.

The story itself?  Up until the visit to the swab factory.....I think the phantom-killer story was probably a five-star story waiting for a writer to collect everything, and it'd make a great movie.  Murders all over the country, some in a vicious way.....done by a teenage killer girl....who remarkably got away each and every time.

So, back to the Nazi-guy who murdered this young girl.  If the test is might suggest that his file needs to be reviewed in detail, and I'm going to take a guess that they might find more than just this one single young girl dead.  Who knows.....maybe in five years.....two or three more deaths might be attributed to this guy.  The supporters behind the Nazi-guy?  I would imagine they are shaking their heads because this really leads down a dark path and maybe they guessed wrong about this young guy.

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Interview Story

I sat last night and watched the state-run ZDF 9:45 PM news.  They went to a live interview with the chief prosecutor of the Saxony region and ran through roughly a dozen questions over the Syrian bomber dude, who is dead now (suicide) after the cops got help in catching him.

Personally, if you look at what the news media has put out over the past five's awful weak and marginal information.

You could tell by the third question....that the ZDF journalist wasn't going to let this be an easy question and answer episode.  Each question became more difficult and you could see some "sweat" developing with the prosecutor.

From an American prospective, you reach four observations:

1.  While the federal cops were watching this guy for months and knew the implications of his behavior.....they quietly waited in hopes of connecting him to others.  When the moment finally came with what they felt was sufficient evidence to issue an arrest warrant.....the federal level prosecutor hinted that he wasn't totally satisfied.  No one says why.  Maybe there were more questions handed back....but the federal cops decided twelve hours later that they needed a warrant badly.....and went to the state prosecutor instead.  Why?  This isn't clear and part of the overall problem, I think.

2.  How'd the federal cops allow him to escape?  This ends up being a one-liner and no one wants to explain the details.  They really screwed up badly letting him escape from the scene.

3.  More thugs in the background?  No one knows.  One single guy by himself?  No one really believes it.

4.  Then this suicide thing.  The prosecutor did one of those stupid moments in his comments where he said that 'most suicidal bombers want to commit suicide'.  He gives the impression it's not a big deal.  But then you sit and's a in special cell....with cameras set up.  Yet the cop watching this....does nothing?  Why bother with the cameras then?

By the end of these impression is that the state prosecutor of Saxony just wants to wrap this up and forget about the whole thing.  The federal cops who allowed him to escape.......same thing.  My guess is that in six months, most residents of Saxony will have almost forgotten about this episode.

On the positive side.....the guy is off the street and there's a lesser threat existing right now.  But you just sit and wonder.....things about this episode just don't fit too well.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

In the Dumpster Business?

Last night, HR (our regional Hessen state-run network) ran an interesting piece on clothing dumpsters.

So, everywhere you go in Hessen (other states as well), there are these dumpsters in various parking lots or beside the road where you can dump your used clothing and the sign on the side chats about these poor African folks which they are helping with clothing donations.  Germans are in the habit now of dumping their old clothing into the container and feeling good about where the clothing is going.

So HR's journalist went and analyzed the whole thing.

You see....none of these dumpsters ever get approval by the local government or property owners.  Yeah, that was a bit of surprise.  When you call the number on the side of the goes to a cellphone but no one ever answers.  Every couple of weeks, someone comes by and empties the can.

Where does the clothing go?  The pick-up guy will deliver everything to some warehouse guy who pays X-amount per kilogram for the clothing.  Cash.

So this all goes to Africa?  No.  There is some small part of the profit which does make it to Africa but the majority of this profit is plowed into the dumpster owner and the middle-guy.

So where does the clothing go?  Most of the time to Polish or eastern European counties where it's sent into second-hand clothing shops and sold for roughly 60-to-80 percent of the original value.  And this second-hand clothing shop guy makes his profit as well.

The cost of a dumpster?  Roughly 400 Euro.  You don't have to have a license or make any just buy dumpsters and put them out.  You could have forty dumpsters spread around an entire area with a refugee-worker guy hired up for minimum wage and picking up every week or two.  I did the math and figure that with forty dumpsters and just an average haul from could make at least 6,000 Euro every month, after paying for the hauling expense/driver.  Here's the big real it's all tax-free.  72,000 Euro a free, and the only real cost is the 400 Euro to buy each dumpster and the truck/driver?  Yeah.

Illegal?  Well...if you find the dumpster illegally in your grocery parking can call the cops but generally this is on the bottom of their list.  You could "steal" the dumpster and then what?  Where would you dump it?  Cops readily admitted that there needs to be some better system but the political folks don't seem to be that interested.  Small-time crime, but in some's not really illegal except for the placement of the dumpsters.

How many exist in Hessen? People only take guesses.  Around the city of Wiesbaden, I'd take a humble guess that at least 250 dumpster exist within the city limits.  You can figure at least six to eight guys or groups are making a tax-free situation with these stupid clothing dumpster.  You'd think the tax office would be all over this but even they seem to lack any interest.

I must admit, it's a brilliant way to clear money under the table.