Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Germany's Merkel announces plan to deport 100,000 migrants
ANGELA MERKEL today announced plans to deport 100,000 migrants who arrived in Germany last year as she continues to backtrack on her controversial open door asylum policy.
The beleaguered Chancellor said authorities would significantly step up the rate of forced returns as she battles to arrest an alarming slump in her popularity which has fuelled a surge in support for the far-right.
Mrs Merkel, whose decision to roll out the red carpet to migrants from across Africa and the Middle East spectacularly backfired, has taken an increasingly tough tone on immigration in recent months.
And in her toughest rhetoric yet the German leader told MPs from her party this week: ”The most important thing in the coming months is repatriation, repatriation and once more, repatriation.”
The stance marks an astonishing U-turn from the once pro-refugee Chancellor, who has been widely pilloried by critics at home and abroad for her decision to throw open Germany’s borders to millions of migrants.
Her extraordinary change of heart has been prompted largely by a series of catastrophic local election results for her ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, which was trounced by the populist Alternative fur Deutschland in both her home state and the capital Berlin.
The party’s slumping poll ratings have sparked alarm amongst her allies in both the CDU and its coalition partner, the Christian Social Union (CSU), with talk that senior officials would try to oust her.
But instead Mrs Merkel last week announced her intention to stand for a fourth term as leader of Germany, and now she is striking an increasingly anti-immigrant tone as she attempts to restore her battered reputation ahead of next autumn’s election.
Speaking at a conference of conservative MPs in Neumünster yesterday evening the Chancellor revealed that she expects 100,000 migrants to leave Germany this year, of which a third will be forcibly removed.
And employing a tough new form of rhetoric, she warned local regions to deport all migrants whose asylum applications are rejected, using force if necessary.
She warned them: "If state governments refuse to forcibly deport migrants, then of course everyone will say, 'I will not do this voluntarily, because they will not do anything anyway’.
And in a stunning U-turn on her open borders policy, she added: ”It can not be that all the young people from Afghanistan come to Germany.”
Her rhetoric this week is a far cry from the now infamous rallying cry of Wir Schaffen Das - ‘we can do this’ - which the beleaguered leader has now dropped after issuing a statement verging on an apology.
It is estimated that some 215,000 migrants have been denied the right to stay in Germany over the last 18 months, most because they come from countries in eastern Europe and north Africa which are not ravaged by war.
Mrs Merkel is now insisting that resources must be concentrated on refugees fleeing war and turmoil who genuinely needed support, and that public acceptance for asylum seekers can only be maintained by deporting economic migrants trying to abuse the system.
On taking offence
One of the rules I try to live by is not to take offense when no offense is intended. A corollary to that rule is to presume, whenever possible, that no offense was intended. This is not, I admit, a discipline I've mastered perfectly. But it's not as hard as you might think. Make a daily point of affirming that you harbor no ill will, and you tend not to smolder with resentment and unresolved umbrage. At a time when Americans by the millions seem to go out of their way to keep themselves in a state of high dudgeon, choosing not to be offended can be wonderfully refreshing.
Not taking offense isn't the same as not having pet peeves. (I've got a bunch of those.) Nor does it mean never condemning shameful, foolish, or destructive behavior. (Where would newspaper columnists be if we never uttered any criticism?) It does mean recognizing that being offended is always a choice, and that other people's words and views can bend you out of shape only if you choose to let them have that effect.
This isn't a column about politics, but during last week's "Hamilton" kerfuffle, Vice President-elect Mike Pence provided a pitch-perfect demonstration of how not to take offense. Rather than bristle and fume when he was booed by audience members and pointedly addressed by the cast during the curtain call, Pence took it all with gracious equanimity. "I wasn't offended," he said afterward. He praised the "great, great show" and the "incredibly talented" cast, and made clear that actor Brandon Dixon's impassioned statement from the stage didn't trouble him or require any apology.
"I nudged my kids," Pence told Fox News, "and reminded them, 'That's what freedom sounds like.'"
And that, in turn, is what a mature emotional perspective sounds like. It would be nice to encounter more of it in our national discourse.
Unfortunately, picking at scabs has become a national pastime. Americans have lost their ability to shrug off other people's obnoxious comments or insensitive gestures or politically incorrect views. Instead of rolling their eyes and letting it pass, they proclaim: "I'm offended." They demand apologies. They insist on "trigger warnings" and "safe spaces." They howl about "microaggressions" and whinge about "mansplaining" and compile lists of banned words. When they get offended, they expect heads to roll or companies to be blackballed. They even take offense on behalf of people who don't take offense.
Remember Frank Costanza? He was the character on "Seinfeld" who invented Festivus, an idiosyncratic family holiday commemorated with a dinner, an aluminum pole, feats of strength, and — the high point — an Airing of Grievances. "I got a lot of problems with you people!" bellows Costanza to those at his Festivus table. "And now you're gonna hear about it!"
It was funny as a sitcom shtick. As a national pastime, perpetual outrage is exhausting and debilitating. America could do with a little less Frank Costanza and a little more Mike Pence.
As Mike Pence knows but Frank Costanza doesn't, offense is never really given. It's taken.
Waxing wroth when we're offended may feel temporarily satisfying, but the weight of all those chips on our shoulders does long-term damage. "In my work treating alcoholics," writes Abraham Twerski, a psychiatrist and founder of the renowned Gateway Rehabilitation Center in Pittsburgh, there is "great emphasis on divesting oneself of resentments," since "resentments are probably the single greatest factor responsible for relapse." Twerski quotes one recovering alcoholic's insight: "Carrying resentments is like letting someone who you don't like live inside your head rent-free." No lasting benefit comes from that, but all kinds of misery do.
In a society that often seems to thrive on taking offense — just turn on talk radio, or read an online comments section, or follow Donald Trump and Elizabeth Warren on Twitter — it can't be overemphasized that nursing a grievance is always optional. You may not be able to control other people's opinions, ignorance, bad jokes, or political loyalties. But you alone determine how you react to them.
Everyone knows the biblical injunction to "love thy neighbor as thyself." Less well known is the first half of the verse: "Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge." That's excellent counsel, for believers and nonbelievers alike.
“Fake News” Is In The Eye Of The Beholder
For whatever strange reason, the entire failed pundit class became interested in the notion of purging so-called “fake news” all at once, immediately following an election that produced an outcome they despise. I’m sure it was just a big coincidence that they all suddenly coalesced around this potential solution.
Back in August I wrote on the folly of obsequiously begging Silicon Valley tech titans to attain social progress on your behalf. That was in the context of the craze around curtailing so-called “targeted harassment” on Twitter, but the same concept applies here: if you’re requesting that Mark Zuckerberg and @jack use the blunt instruments of censure and extirpation to suppress phenomena you dislike, you’re ensuring that the phenomena won’t actually be curtailed. It will just manifest elsewhere. You’re also ensuring that people with conspiratorial inclinations will assume that the “powers that be” are maliciously restricting their ability to consume information, thus increasing their level of alienation from the existing political/media order. You’re also demanding that these tech princes be endowed with extraordinary power — they already have a ton, but you want them to have more, and you want them to exert their power in service of removing certain types of information from the free internet. That’s what you want done.
These are fundamentally authoritarian impulses. Maybe not “authoritarian” in the sense of explicitly violating citizens’ civil liberties — authoritarian in a softer, but still insidious, sense. You want these all-knowing tech demigods to solve social problems for you, instead of undertaking the hard work of solving them yourself. How to solve them? How about helping to remake presently-loathed institutions such that they’re not automatically distrusted by wide swathes of the populace. That might help. How about trying to reform the political system such that the anxieties of ordinary people are actually addressed substantively, so they don’t feel the need to latch onto “fake news” floating out there in cyberspace to explain why they are incredibly disillusioned.
I can also guarantee you, with 100% certainty, that the specter of “fake news” will be wielded as an ideological cudgel. I already have evidence for this, as the Washington Post has published a ridiculous report citing a team of unvetted “independent researchers” who have produced “a list” (love that neo-McCarthyite sloganeering) of all the worst offenders on the internet in terms of propagating “fake news” at the behest of sinister Russian agitators.
Included on the list that the Washington Post trumpeted, and which was breathlessly promoted by cartoonish political elites such as Neera Tanden, are several reputable media outlets of longstanding provenance that happen to diverge from the mainstream pundit consensus, and are therefore viewed as unconscionable:
That’s just a small selection. You’ll notice that the “blacklisted” media entities include examples from both the left and right, proving that the operative ideological function of the “fake news” crusade is about discrediting media that deviates from the establishmentarian consensus, rather than enforcing any kind of traditionally “ideological” goal in the sense of the hoary liberal/conservative dichotomy.
That will be the function of the coming “fake news” expurgation campaign — not to instate any kind of objective measures of determining what is “fake” news and what is “real,” but mandating conformity, and punishing those who defy conformist standards.
If these people were sincerely interested in doing away with “fake news,” the first thing to do would be to look inward. They would be reprimanding many of their own esteemed colleagues and demanding that they permanently withdraw from public life. But of course they won’t do this, even though there was plenty of flagrant misinformation propagated by the more conventional “mainstream” press over the course of this election cycle — you won’t see the Washington Post demand that those responsible be purged.
Furthermore, the Washington Post itself propagated a veritable avalanche of fake news, notably by way of its lunatic “columnist” Anne Applebaum, who repeatedly spread debunked and fake conspiracies that Trump was a knowing conspirator of the Russian intelligence apparatus.
Joy Reid of MSNBC spread one of the most egregious examples of fake news that I have ever seen, but she never retracted it or apologized, and (to the best of my knowledge) was never sanctioned by MSNBC higher-ups. Her fakery was then amplified by neoconservative speechwriter and Hillary supporter David Frum.
Much like the word “terrorism,” the phrase “fake news” will be manipulated to accord with whatever pre-existing ideological commitments its newfound opponents already espouse. There really is a problem with false information circulating on the internet, but the main perpetrators are failed media elites.
Farmers left feeling 'very threatened' and unable to sleep after a new animal rights campaign group abuses slaughterhouse staff and writes anti-Semitic graffiti on the walls
Farmers have reportedly been left unable to sleep and 'very threatened' after a new animal rights campaign group has started to invade slaughterhouses in the UK.
The vegan group, called The Save Movement, now has 24 branches in the UK from Cornwall in the south to Scotland in the north. They have 'Save groups' in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Italy, USA, Sweden and Poland and they claim to use a 'love-based approach'.
The description of the movement also adds that they focus on 'non-violence' and they believe animals are individuals which have rights.
But some groups have taken a different approach and it is 'only a matter of time' before a protester or worker gets hurt, according to an industry spokesman.
The movement - which has a 'zero tolerance approach to animal exploitation' - has staged around 60 demonstrations, reports Andrew Gilligan at the Sunday Times.
And it seems the number of protesters ranges from a handful of people to more than 50 activists.
Their demonstrations included an invasion of a kosher abattoir in London and anti-Semitic graffiti was plastered on the walls.
A video of the East London Chicken Save - a branch of The Save Movement - shows activists enter the Kedassia kosher abattoir in Hackney Wick earlier this month.
They pushed past security and abused staff because they were 'helping to kill babies', reports the newspaper.
Police were called and a group spokesman criticised the arrival of officers. They said the police presence stopped them 'from liberating these innocent chickens'.
The 12-minute video, which was uploaded to YouTube, has been viewed more than 5,000 times.
A caption underneath the video said: 'East London Chicken Save were able to get inside the slaughterhouse and the kill room.
'The pipes were filled with guts and the stench of death and faeces was overwhelming. 'The chickens in the truck were extremely disfigured and many had huge sores on their bodies.'
And following a second demonstration last week, anti-Semitic graffiti was daubed on the walls of a London abattoir. A Star of David was drawn on the walls along with refences to Nazism, reports the newspaper.
The Save Movement said: 'We have a strict code of conduct which rejects any form of violence, intimidation,and racism, including anti-Semitism.'
Lizzie Wilson, from the National Pig Association, told the newspaper: 'It has grown up very quickly. In the main, they are a peaceful protest and entitled to their views. 'It's when they start to become more aggressive that it's obviously a concern.'
She added that some farmers felt 'threatened' and can't sleep at night after some groups turned up at farms and slaughterhouses at night.
This resulted in extra police patrolling the areas surrounding the farms because people are worried the protests will 'continue to escalate', reports the paper.
A British Meat Processors Association spokesman said campaigners were jumping in front of lorries in order to get their point across. He said: 'It is only a matter of time before a protester of a member of plant staff is injured.'
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.