Saturday, March 17, 2018

Frankfurt Airport Story

When you discuss air travel in Germany....Frankfurt is usually hyped up and noted as the number one airport in the country, and near the top three in Europe itself.

HR (our regional public TV network) brought up this topic about the Frankfurt Airport today.

Back before 2014, it was rare (if ever) that the Frankfurt Airport handled 200,000 passengers in one single day.  In 2017, there were 140 days where the passenger traffic crossed the 200k passenger line.

All of this traffic is bringing capability issues within the airport.  You can figure roughly thirty days out of each year where holiday travel will occur, and it's strongly recommended that you get to parking at least three hours prior to the flight.  I would even go and suggest four hours if this were the couple of days prior to Christmas or New Year's Eve.

All of this is leading to passenger complaints to the airlines.

Some examples of what I've experienced:

1.  On hectic days, and trying to get through the border-control can take up to thirty minutes.  The last time I went took two minutes.  So it really matters on the time of year that you make a trip.

2.  On hectic days and trying to get through the bag security can anticipate a minimum of forty-five minutes.

3.  Trying to eat something at a airport cafe or restaurant on a hectic day?   You might be standing there for at least 20 minutes before you get your order turned in.

The airport is in desperate need of more cops, and they are waiting on new recruits to arrive.  Just on airport operations personnel.....there are openings for around 2,000 additional folks....which they are having trouble finding them they've gone to Greece and Croatia to recruit more workers.

Danish TV Update

Focus carried a brief article this morning, talking about Denmark and this new law passed late in the week.  The Danish government had a lot of public pressure put on them and so they decided to saddle-up with the public.

Danish public TV has been for several decades....a monthly tax deal upon each household.  The amount per house....was 335 Euro yearly (2492 DKK).  This basically paid for various radio stations and six public TV channels.

So the new law is that the money will come straight out of the national budget.....that DR (the controlling organization) must take a 20-percent pay-cut.  No one says where the cut will might assume that one of the networks (of the six) will disappear, and some folks will lose their jobs.

The basic problem in Denmark, which is the same problem in have more and more young people who are avoiding public TV entirely and think the monthly household tax is unfair. 

What was the monthly deal created in the first place?  Everyone felt that as governments come and go.....that political folks would attach themselves to the networks and try to manipulate them. The fact that networks might go on their own, and create their own slant on things....siding with various politics or campaigns?  Well....yeah, that was the other situation to this discussion.

All of this will come to affect the German public TV system eventually.....that's my humble opinion. 

Seehofer versu Merkel Comments

Somewhere in the middle of this past week....our new Secretary of the Interior (Seehofer, CSU) came out in an interview and said that Muslims were 'not part of Germany', and the next day, the Chancellor (Merkel, CDU) said 'yes, Muslim are part of Germany'.  All of this has apparently triggered some public debate. 

Some forums over the next week or two....will center on this topic and intellectuals/journalists will be throwing themselves at Merkel's side and trying to convince the public of good intentions. 

It's a debate that goes nowhere in the end. 

I would suggest that about a quarter of the population rallies around Seehofer, and sees long-term problems.  On the Merkel-side, I would suggest near 40-percent are pro-Islam.  The fact that four million Muslims now exist in the country (of 82-million), means that industry and job-wise....they are definitely part of the hub.  As for the remaining thirty-five percent?  Somewhere in the middle with questions being asked and trust being a problem. 

This is a public debate that goes nowhere in the end.  The Germans cannot effectively run their job-system without this massive participation. 

Friday, March 16, 2018

VW in the News

Yesterday in Hamburg, a special court decision occurred which might have huge implications.

Around three years ago, when the diesel car business became front-page news....this German had just recently purchased a diesel vehicle....brand new.

As NDR (the public network from the region) tells the short story.....the car owner (a German) was pretty peeved over the situation, the lessened value in the car, and took this to court.

A Hamburg court examined all the facts, and yesterday came to this conclusion....VW has to give him a new car that meets the emissions situation.  My guess is that he wants a gas-car, instead of a diesel vehicle, but in the end here....VW has to accept the old car back and provide a brand-new car.

What happens now?  Some people think that the template will be used over and over, and that thousands of Germans....maybe into the millions....will play out the same court situation.  Course, you could be looking at court activity taking an entire decade. 

My view is that VW should have come out with some joint activity with the Berlin leadership and found some way to avoid this court activity early on. 

The Soccer World Cup in Trouble

In a couple of months....the World Cup would have unfolded in Russia, and folks would be hyped up on soccer for an entire month.

Well....there's talk now that the British team will not show up because of the toxic poison episode in the UK, triggered by some Russian folks. 

So there's more talks going on, and the hint that various nations in the EU might not show up.  FIFA, the controlling authority over soccer and they run the games.....seems to be a bit worried now.  There's ton's of money at stake over the games, and the televised events.

The least that might happen?  The UK pulls out and FIFA goes to a replacement team....without much of a worry.

The most that would happen?  There is some speculation that the German and French teams might pull out, and a secondary group (Sweden, Switzerland, Iceland, Denmark, and Belgium) will at least discuss the matter. 

Without those major teams?  It's strictly a Brazil or Argentina series, and I would see a major problem with viewership. 

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Bannon and the European 'Kingdom'

I sat the last decade looking over Breitbart (at least since 2010, but it's been around since 2007 in some form or another).  The original guy carrying the weight was Andrew Breitbart, and after that, Steve Bannon. 

What Breitbart did was reshuffle the entire perspective of people to ask more difficult questions.  They asked questions that conservative political figures really weren't prepared for.  They asked questions that liberal political figures really didn't want to answer in public forums.  They asked journalists questions which pushed the general slant or tactics of the reporter into a tailspin. In some ways, we needed this thought process to occur and make people simply think about politics as something beyond theatrics or just acting.

Bannon was let go by Trump, for several reasons.  My suspicion is that Trump had his vision going ahead and really didn't want to complicate it with Bannon-like questions.

Most folks thought that Bannon would just kind of slide off, and disappear.  Last month....he started to appear in Europe.  He's talking of a European publication.  He's talking with various groups.  Some liberal journalists are hyped up.....Bannon 'needs to be stopped'.  Bannon will wreck stability within Europe.  You can find various ways that the story is spun.

Why any of this matters now? have only 15 months until the EU election.  For Bannon....he might actually be able to influence 25-percent of the outcome, and put various conservative political parties into the EU mix of things.  That would mean a number of EU folks would have to return home, and find real jobs.  It also might mean that it gets tougher to arrange votes and bring change to the EU.

Bannon a threat?  Bannon brings skeptical nature to a room.  If things are ought to appear that way, but when you admit things aren't that swell....well, then you need to ask why.

"Whisperer and Manipulator"? 

That was part of the description given by ARD (German public TV) journalists back in January over Bannon.  He whips up the public.....he gives them funny ideas.....he causes people to be skeptical....he openly labels some conservatives as fakes....he suggests that the news media might actually slant the news or lie to your face.  The list goes on and on.

So, the kingdom is in disruption.  Fear is flowing around Europe and Bannon might bring his 'circus' in and whip some enthusiasm.  The fact that the circus has been active for fifty-odd years?  The fact that folks already believe most of European politics is fake?  Well....yeah, it's best not to bring these factors.  Bannon is simply reshuffling the deck of cards and triggering people to ask more questions.  And the folks at the top would prefer not to answer the questions.

The end result?  Bannon has around fifteen months to go around and talk to people.  The result will be what happens in the EU election, and it might surprise some people. 

The CDU-Merkel Recovery Phase?

ARD (public TV, Channel One in Germany) had an article they covered early today.....mostly entitled 'Merkel wanting to recover AfD voters'.  So it was a 40-line piece and mostly centered on an interview with the Chancellor talking about how the CDU would step up over the next four years and recover all the voters that had slipped away and voted AfD in September 2017's national election.

The key phrase in this chat?  'Resolving people's problems'.   If you resolve them.....then all of the AfD voters return to their original parties (one has to admit that voters from the CDU, the CSU, the SPD, the Linke Party, the FDP, and the Green Party.....walked away and sent a message back about a sour feeling concerning immigration and migration). 

It's a piece worth reading, although short on what exactly the Chancellor intends to do.

I've sat for the past six months looking at the vote, and how the general public in Germany has reacted to current events.  In my mind, there are four 'waves' which are influencing the public and causing the disenchanted voters to depart from normal voting trends:

1.  Crime.  It ranges from street crime, onto drug sales, including car theft, and home-break-in's.  In the minds of most Germans....the migrants and immigrants are the root cause (whether true or not). 

2.  Roughly 550,000 immigrants have failed the via application and remain in Germany. The public knows this, and will bring it up on random occasions.  With that number, the public will also bring up that almost 650,000 migrants (on a temp visa or long-term visa) are on Hartz IV (German welfare).  Both numbers frustrate the general public.

3.  Trust with the national public TV situation has decreased.  I would suggest the positions taken from summer of 2013 to spring of 2016....infuriated a good quarter of the population, with another quarter lacking plain trust in the public news organizations. 

4.  Fixing or resolving things?  I hate to say it's a joke but a fair number of Germans now believe that the Berlin national leadership is inept and mostly lacking the skills resolve most problems.  The word 'skeptical' probably would be thrown out there a good bit by working-class Germans.

So, what is this all hyped up by Merkel to take back the votes?  I see it in three major ways:

First, there's this EU representative election next June, and the Chancellor would be highly embarrassed if 20-percent of the vote went AfD.  The general hope, I to keep this voting trend for the EU at less than 10-percent for the AfD Party.

Second, if this trend were to continue, then in four years when the next federal election'd probably see the AfD getting closer to 18-percent, seeing the combined CDU-CSU-SPD vote slide below 50-percent (something that has never occurred).

Third, there's this legacy issue.  If Merkel hands over the reigns of the party in three years, and the CDU drops to around 28-percent on the national vote, with the AfD nearing's Merkel left with a dismal legacy of causing the party to be this weakened.

So, now to the critical to fix this?

1.  You need massive pressure on district attorneys, judges and the cops to get results for the next three years.  Crime clans need to be taken apart.  Cases need to be won.  Break-in's need to show arrests and sentences accomplished. 

2.  They need minimal radicalization episodes occurring throughout the nation. 

3.  Those 550,000 folks who failed the visa application?  You probably need this number to be resolved down by a minimum of 50-percent.  The high number of migrants on welfare?  That needs to be resolved as well.  On this episode, I don't see how it'll occur without massive law changes, and court enthusiasm to just end cases, and ensure the deportation actually occur.

Beyond that, it's hard to see how trust can be restored to the national public news media. 

If this isn't resolved?  The legacy for Chancellor Merkel is then called into question and people will still be discussing the blame here even twenty years into the future. 

The Topic That Came Up Yesterday

I sat in a German language class yesterday, which of course of composed of all non-Germans.  We had sub-teacher....because the flu thing is going on strong. 

So in the middle of this class, we come to this topic area of homelessness or street-people in Germany.  It was a side-topic and you find side-topics pop up at least once per hour in these language classes. 

After the sub-teacher had done some short chat....the Syrian in the group asked a direct question.  With all this 'free-assistance' that Germany has.....why can't they help to take the street-people or the homeless the streets?  Obviously, this person had noted the dynamics of the German assistance program and like most of the people in the room....was extremely positive over the German culture.

You could sense that she'd picked a topic that triggered the sub-teacher into pausing for a moment. 

If I were to answer, it'd be some hour-long explanation about the street-people, the guys who live under bridges, the Tipplebruder adventurers, etc.

The sub-teacher lead to just a simple explanation....this group of people liked living on the streets.  It was their kind of atmosphere. 

I don't think the group really bought into the explanation.  For me, it was a marginal answer to explain the phonenmum. 

About eight years ago, I arrived in the Washington DC area and one of the odd characteristics of the region are the various homeless folks....lots of them.  After coming back to Germany, I began to notice the same trends here....perhaps in lesser numbers, but still noticeable.

I've come to this observation that you can divide the street-folks or homeless folks into five categories:

1.  The individual who whacked themselves out on drugs or the extent that it's affected their ability to reason or think.  So they live in some halfway-world, with little stress or demands.

2.  The individual who had a trade or craft that marginally worked in real life, and with one single stumble....they 'fell'.  If the resources, coaching and help were to be put into place....this group could return and be productive people in society. 

3.  The paranoid schizophrenic crowd.  These are the people who know that they might be put into some institution because they really can't control themselves.  So they live off the street....mostly to enjoy what freedom they have left. 

4.  The weeded-out crowd.  This is the group that felt stress and pressure....reaching a relief point with marijuana, and relied upon to be the end-all answer to their problems.  So they eased themselves out of a job eventually and are basically unable to cope with a normal world....and this street-world is pretty simple and uncomplicated. 

5.  The nuts crowd.  These are certified folks who are just plain crazy and the free lifestyle is their last chance in life before being detained or permanently put away.

The problem here....if you tried to explain this to the non-German crowd, they'd be in mostly disbelief.  You didn't see much of this issue in Syria or Iraq.  Course, they had facilities to house mental folks, and the leadership through the decades utilized the facilities.  They also hyped up a anti-alcohol and anti-drug philosophy.  And there's just not any marijuana much in that region. So they had less of a problem to deal with or notice in a public episode.

For some reason, I don't think the sub-teacher's answer will resolve much for these 'new' Germans.