New From Klaus Johann Grobe: Spagat der Liebe

From das neue album Spagat der Liebe:

Aquarium Drunkard sez:

Krautpop. Speaking of Trouble In Mind Records, earlier this month the Chicago label released Spagat der Liebe, the Zürich based Klaus Johann Grobe’s second LP. Comprised of Sevi Landolt (organ/synths/vocals) and Daniel Bachmann (drums/vocals), the pair continue down the path set out on their initial self-produced singles and 2014’s Im Sinne der Zeit – a groove laden Autobahn equally rooted in their German krautrock forebears, ’90s Stereolab explorations and lo-fi jazz/funk.

Activism Wage, Oppression, Self-Harm, The Capitalist Process

Fine, long, fairly neutral piece by Nathan Heller in the New Yorker about student activism at Oberlin, a small liberal-arts college in Ohio. This transcription of a conversation with three activists is -- well, you can decide for yourself:

"It was, like, one day I was at college having fun, and the next day someone called me the N-word, and I had no avenue,” she says. She has on a red flannel button-down shirt, open over a tank top. There’s a crisp red kerchief around her head, knotted above a pair of hip blue-and-brown-tortoised glasses. “My parents don’t have the funds to drive to Oberlin when I’m crying and ready to self-harm. The only way that I can facilitate those conversations is to advocate for myself. That in itself makes me a part of a social-justice climate.”

Adams supported the fourteen-page letter of demands that was submitted to Oberlin’s president in the winter. “At that meeting, about the demands, there were a hundred people, literally,” she says.

“Even those who didn’t write it had things to put into it,” Taylor Slay, a fellow Abusua member, says. She is sitting next to Adams, taking notes.

Adams goes on, “Me trying to appeal to people? Ain’t working. Me trying to be the quiet, sit-back-and-be-chill-and-do-my-work black person? Doesn’t work. Me trying to be friends with non-black folks? Doesn’t work.” She draws out her final syllables. “Whatever you do at Oberlin as a person of color or a low-income person, it just doesn’t work! So you’re just, like, I’ve got to stand up for myself.”

“I have to be political,” Slay says.

“I have to be political in whatever form or fashion,” Adams says. “Because I have nothing else to do.

There were negative responses to the fifty demands (which included a request for an $8.20-an-hour activism wage, the firing of nine Oberlin employees deemed insufficiently supportive of black students, and the tenuring of black faculty).

But the alumni reactions were the worst, according to Adams. “They are quick to turn around and call twenty-year-old students the N-word, and monkeys, and illiterate uneducated toddlers, and tell us to go back to Africa where we came from, and that Martin Luther King would be ashamed of us,” she says. “We knew realistically that most of those demands were not going to be met. We understand legality. We understand finances—”

“We see the pattern of nonresponse,” Slay says.

Zakiya Acey furrows his brow. “The argument was ‘Oh, so students ask for this, but it’s not legal,’ ” he says. “But it’s what I need. And it’s what this country needs, and it’s my country. That’s the whole point. We’re asking—”

“We’re asking to be reflected in our education,” Adams cuts in. “I literally am so tired of learning about Marx, when he did not include race in his discussion of the market!” She shrugs incredulously. “As a person who plans on returning to my community, I don’t want to assimilate into middle-class values. I’m goinghome, back to the ’hood of Chicago, to be exactly who I was before I came to Oberlin.”

Like everyone else at the table, Adams believes that the Oberlin board’s denunciation of Joy Karega’s Facebook posts shows hypervigilance toward anti-Semitism and comparative indifference toward racial oppression. “We want you to say, ‘Racism is not accepted!’ ” Adams says.

Acey ... thinks professors often hide their racial biases. “But they’ll vote in a way that does not benefit the students,” he says. “Like, the way the courses are set up. You know, we’re paying for a service. We’re paying for our attendance here. We need to be able to get what we need in a way that we can actually consume it.” He pauses. “Because I’m dealing with having been arrested on campus, or having to deal with the things that my family are going through because of larger systems—having to deal with all of that, I can’t produce the work that they want me to do. But I understand the material, and I can give it to you in different ways. There’s professors who have openly been, like, ‘Yeah, instead of, you know, writing out this midterm, come in to my office hours, and you can just speak it,’ right? But that’s not institutionalized. I have to find that professor.”

Also, things are trickier now than in the past. “In the sixties and seventies, you saw an attack on oppression,” Acey says. “How do we stop this from happening ever again? Then you have the introduction of multiculturalism: Let’s satisfy this. Let’s pretend we’re going to be diverse. Whereas what college does now is—”

“It separates us,” Adams says.

“It separates us, but it makes us busy. 24/7.”

“Also, we’re the generation that has more identities to encompass in our movement,” Adams says. “No shade to civil rights, but it was a little misogynistic. It had women in the back. A lot of other identities—trans folks and all that—were not really included. And we’re the generation that’s trying to incorporate everybody.”

“And we’re tired!” Slay says.

“That takes work,” Adams agrees.

“We do our work in the middle of the night,” Slay says.

“We meet at 11 p.m., and stay up till two o’clock in the morning doing work, and go to nine-o’clock class, and do that over and over and over,” Adams says. “We don’t sleep. We rarely eat the food at—”

“We’re not even compensated financially, so that’s a lot,” Slay says.

“The older generations have been desensitized,” Acey adds.

“Desensitized!” Adams says.

“It’s, like, ‘This is what the world is.’ ”

“ ‘It’s been this way since the fifties.’ ”

Acey says, “We understand this institution to be an arm of—”

“Oppression,” Adams offers.

“The capitalist process,” Acey goes on. “We go through this professionalization through the university. And this professionalization is to work really unnecessary jobs.”

“When I came here, I’m, like, ‘Where are the people who are disabled?’ ” Adams says. “I know so many disabled people at home.”

She shakes her head. “It does not reflect the real world.”

If this is what's headed toward German universities over the next decade, I'm glad I got out when I could.

Germany's Police and Pols to Women: No Alcohol or High Heels, Stay Home After Dark

Mainstream German politicians are doing something very clever. Slowly and surely, drip-by-drip, they are getting German women used to the fact that they are unsafe in their own country because of violent crime by migrants.

Of course they don't mention the last part. 

They have begun to issue new warnings informing German females about things they are no longer able to do in their own country. One example is the police in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein. Responding to attacks in which groups of 15-20 young Arab, Turkish and Afghan males surround women and then beat, grope, rob, and/or rape them, police gave advice to women such as scream loudly, take detours around groups of men, tell others to call the police if you're attacked. An article about the police instructions added the following list of behavior guidelines (g) (not from the police).

To women, mind you, not to criminals:

  • Always travel in groups of at least two or three.
  • Wear sneakers instead of high heels, so you can run away.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Drink out of bottles and open them yourselves.
  • Don't just stare at your cellphone, be aware of your environment.
  • In case of attack, don't act like a victim, act like an opponent: choose genitals, joints, eyes, nose and ears as defensive goals, because pain is greatest here.

The CDU Mayor of the Bad Godesberg neighborhood of Bonn, where a 17-year-old boy named Niklas P. was recently randomly murdered by a 20-year-old man of Moroccan extraction who had a criminal record, said casually (g) during a recent neighborhood meeting: "In any case, women should stay out of parks after dark." One of her political opponents immediately spoke up to say: "Bad Godesberg should be safe for everybody at all times."

The mayor of Bad Godesberg, Simone Stein-Lücke, is a woman from the purportedly conservative party in Germany. Yet faced with increases in violent crimes which are directly affecting the lives of her constituents, she decides to impose behavior limitations on the victims. Not the criminals.

Are you beginning to see why more and more Germans are voting for right-wing populist parties?

An Open Letter to the EU's External Action Service


Did you know that the EU has a foreign ministry? Very few people do, since it it does very little. The number of foreign-policy priorities all 28 EU member states can agree on can probably be counted on one hand. So they do things like this:

Brussels, 12/05/2016

Statement by the Spokesperson on LGBTI rights in the United States

"The recently adopted laws including in the states of Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee, which discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons in the United States contravene the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the US is a State party, and which states that the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection.

As a consequence, cultural, traditional or religious values cannot be invoked to justify any form of discrimination, including discrimination against LGBTI persons. These laws should be reconsidered as soon as possible.

The European Union reaffirms its commitment to the equality and dignity of all human beings irrespective of their sexual orientation and gender identity. We will continue to work to end all forms of discrimination and to counter attempts to embed or enhance discrimination wherever it occurs around the world."

I decide to send the three names credited with this statement the following open letter:

Dear Ms. Ray, Ms. Kocijancic, Mr. Kaznowski,

This is an open letter which I have also posted on my blog,

I read with interest your pronouncement of May 12, 2016 calling on the states of Mississippi, North Carolina, and Tennessee to 'reconsider' laws requiring persons to use bathrooms which accord with the sex on their birth certificates. You promised to "continue to work to end all forms of discrimination and to counter attempts to embed or enhance discrimination wherever it occurs around the world."

I am a citizen of the United States, but I have lived in Germany for over a decade. I have paid German taxes which, ultimately, help to fund the EU. I am curious about your reasons for making this pronouncement, and have a few questions which I would like to pose and a few points which I'd like to bring to your attention.

The first question is, of course, why are the decisions of democratically-elected legislatures in American states important to the EU? With all the other crises engulfing Europe these days, who decided to give this issue priority? Do you have any proof that these laws will ever have any significant effect on EU citizens? Can you name one transgender EU citizen living in the State of Mississippi, for instance?

Do you have any evidence that your views reflect the will of a majority of EU citizens? Do you have any public-opinion polls showing that large numbers of EU citizens care about these laws? Did you check the legislation of all 28 EU member states to determine whether those countries have similar laws? Do you believe that the bathroom choices available to transgender persons in 3 states of the United States are an important issue to the people of, say, Hungary? Poland? Romania?

Can you point to any treaty provision or legal precedent that supports your interpretation of the ICCPR'S non-discrimination clauses, which mention only discrimination on the basis of 'sex'? Specifically, do you have any legal precedent for the view that that gender-segregated bathrooms -- the overwhelming policy and practice of every society and every nation -- is unlawful discrimination on the basis of ‘sex’?

I have found no legal authority whatsoever to support your interpretation. I would be much obliged if you could show me any.

To take a much more fundamental issue than bathroom choice, marriage is now available to gays in every state of the United States. Are you aware that the largest EU member state, Germany, continues to deny gay people the right to marry, and has no plan to change that policy? And that the majority of EU member states denies gays the right to marry? Are you aware that large majorities of the populations of Eastern European states oppose gay marriage? Are you aware that just three years ago, one of the largest demonstrations in the history of France took place in Paris to oppose laws granting French homosexuals the right to marry?

Given the continuing controversy over this fundamental issue within the EU, why do you believe it is appropriate for the EU to take a stand on transgender bathroom rights in federal states in faraway lands? In particular, do you have any proof that your statement reflects the values of European citizens? 

I believe that a reliable representative poll would certainly show that a majority of EU citizens favors maintaining gender-segregated bathrooms. I challenge you to show me any evidence that this is not the case.

To sum things up, I believe it is the case that your statement (1) is backed by zero legal authority; (2) reflects a view which would be rejected by the overwhelming majority of the people whom you claim to represent; and (3) is directed at an issue that has no meaningful effect on EU citizens; and (4) is far too insignificant to be worthy of the time and attention of EU officials.

I think you should withdraw the statement and focus on issues that actually matter to the people of Europe.

Goodness knows there's no shortage of those, is there?


Andrew Hammel

Düsseldorf, Germany

Crimes in the Times

Whenever I blog about crimes by migrants, most of my German readers shift uncomfortably in their seats. They maintain utter silence about the issue, never commenting one way or the other, and privately wonder if I've finally drunk das Kool-Aid of neo-Nazism. The reason for this is a simple cultural misunderstanding: most educated Germans perceive a strong taboo against discussing migrant crime, but I don't.

Nor does the New York Times. An article about the influence of violent crimes on today's election in Austria begins with this picture of the bruises inflicted on a grandmother when she was raped by a young Afghan male:


By any measure, the string of crimes has been terrible. A grandmother of three, walking her dog, raped along a riverbank. A 10-year-old boy sexually assaulted at a public swimming pool. A 21-year-old student gang raped near the giant Ferris wheel at Vienna’s famed Prater park. A 54-year-old woman beaten to death on the street.

The fact that the crimes were committed by recent migrants from war zones and an immigrant who had lived illegally in the country for years added an especially volatile element to the political climate ahead of the presidential election on Sunday, when Austria could become the first European country to elect a far-right candidate as head of state since the end of Nazism.


Ms. Bubits is also the daughter of the woman, now 72, who was raped while walking her dog on Sept. 1. Since the attack, Ms. Bubits said, her mother has gone from being healthy to ridden with anxiety and requiring close attention.

“It goes up and down,” Ms. Bubits said, but “it’s basically as if she was suddenly 90.”

On a visit to her home on Friday, her mother could barely shuffle a few steps without assistance. Ms. Bubits said she and her mother wanted to speak out about what had happened to emphasize that despite the problems many Austrians want to help refugees and make a place for them in their country.

According to court documents, her mother was walking her 13-year-old dog by the Schwechat, a river where refugees and residents often bathe. A young man helped her up a slope, but then, the documents said, “exploited her physical weakness,” threw her to the ground, “held her mouth shut, ripped her clothes and forced her to engage” in sex.


“It is all getting whipped up politically,” said Martin Mahrer, a lawyer who is defending one of three young Afghans who have confessed to raping a female Turkish student in a park on April 22. “People now want offenders to be really severely punished.”

Mr. Mahrer said some of these young migrants had arrived from war zones, with completely un-Western views about women.

“They do not respect the same things we do,” Mr. Mahrer said. But, he asked, are foreign offenders less equal before the law than Austrians?

If this article had appeared in German newspapers which consider themselves comparable to the New York Times -- well, actually, it wouldn't have in the first place. Respectable broadsheets don't publish photos of bruises caused by vicious rapists. Only tabloids would stoop so low. Respectable broadsheets don't let victims of crimes by ethnic minorities tell their stories -- that privilege is reserved for victims of right-wing attacks. If respectable broadsheets mention violent crime at all, it is only to tell their readers what things are permissible to think and say about the issue. 

In other words, respectable broadsheets are ignoring a problem that's obvious to everyone living in Western Europe. Serious crime by migrants is a vitally important public-policy issue in Europe today. It is literally changing the political face of Western Europe. Statistics are one thing, but anyone who underestimates the potential explosive impact of random violence against strangers in public places is a fool. And respectable broadsheets are full of these fools, which is why they are so surprised by the rightward lurch in European national politics.

Erdogan: A Strong Leader Governing in his Country's National Interest

If there's one thing German mainstream journalists excel at -- and I'm tempted to say there is just one thing -- it's to point the finger of moral judgment at other countries. About half of all mainstream German press coverage consists of some reporter you've never heard of denouncing of country X's domestic policies, even though these have nothing to do with Germany.

The latest example is Turkish President Erdogan's decision to lift parliamentary immunity (g) for dozens of politicians in Turkey's parliament. We are assured by German journos that this is an unprecedented step in hollowing-out Turkey's democracy, that it's the hallmark of authoritarian rule, etc. Which it may be, who knows?

And more importantly, who cares? Certainly not the average German. In fact, the average German doesn't know what parliamentary immunity is. Being rational humans, average Germans pay most attention to things that matter in their daily lives, not legal abstractions. As Bryan Caplan pointed out almost a decade ago in his book The Myth of the Rational Voter, no more than 10-20% of people in most democracies bother to stay informed about the issues. They are the educated elite who have plenty of leisure time. The rest of the population views keeping up with the issues as a waste of time.

One thing that actually does affect Germany is who gets to enter the country. And here, Erdogan is showing his talent for statecraft. After successfully extorting billions of Euros from Europe by exploiting the migrant crisis, he is now setting his sights on offloading problem cases onto Europe. Under the recent agreement between the EU and Germany, the EU has agreed to resettle one Syrian refugee for every refugee sent back from Greece to Turkey by boat.

And Turkey is doing something clever. Relying on rights it was granted as part of the agreement, Turkey is yanking healthy Syrians with college degrees and/or valuable skills out of the 'Resettlement to Europe' line (g) and canceling their exit permits. The uneducated and those with expensive diseases, on the other hand, are free to go. They will land in Germany and promptly integrate into the German welfare state, racking up billions in medical costs -- yes, billions -- that the German taxpayer -- not the Turkish taxpayer -- will have to finance.

One might denounce this policy as cruel or cynical, and no doubt German journalists will. But of this there's no doubt: it is in Turkey's national interest. Turkish voters are no doubt just as ignorant as voters anywhere else. But they understand that inviting skilled workers who will find jobs or create jobs and pay taxes is in Turkey's interest.

Erdogan has a plan, and is pursuing it. Germany's immigration priorities seem to change every week. Germany is as ruthless as any other country in economic policy (see Bayer contemplating the purchase of Monsanto, the punching-bag of German journalists since 1985). But for some reason, Germany cannot seem to figure out what its interests are in refugee policy, or how or even whether to pursue them.

As Machiavelli said: "He who neglects what is done for what ought to be done, sooner effects his ruin than his preservation."

Erdogan is playing Germany like a two-dollar violin. No wonder he's so popular in Turkey. And Merkel's so unpopular at home.

Remedial Asylum Law for Naïve, Unworldly Germans

Germans travel a lot, but apparently don't bother opening their eyes. Which accounts for a tendency some Germans have. As soon as they notice an aspect of a foreign country which they think is kind of sad and so terribly unlike Germany, they immediately declare that anyone from that country deserves political asylum in Germany, because it's so sad and disturbing what's happening in Country X.

This of course entails the assumption that anyone who has illegally entered Germany from country X must have done so only because of the sad and disturbing things which happened in Country X. All sentient adults can immediately spot the flaw in this train of reasoning, but there are still millions of Germans who cannot. So here is the lesson they need:

The fact that a country is not a democracy is not a valid legal reason to grant any random illegal immigrant from that country political asylum.

  • Example: China.

The fact that a country has suffered a recent terrorist attack is not a valid legal reason to grant any random illegal immigrant from that country political asylum.

  • Example: France.

The fact that there is some kind of regional insurgency in some part of a country is not a valid legal reason to grant any random illegal immigrant from that country political asylum. 

  • Examples: Central African Republic, Afghanistan, Pakistan PhilippinesColombia, Myanmar (bet you didn't know about those last three, did you?)

The fact that a country is poor is not a valid legal reason to grant any random illegal immigrant from that country political asylum.

  • Example: 2/3 of all nations in the world.

The fact that a attitudes toward women in a particular country are not very progressive is not a valid legal reason to grant any random illegal immigrant from that country political asylum.

  • Examples: Too many to name.

The fact that a country is currently undergoing a major political crisis is not a valid legal reason to grant any random illegal immigrant from that country political asylum.

  • Example: Brazil.

The fact that a country's human-rights policies have been criticized by NGOs is not a valid legal reason to grant any random illegal immigrant from that country political asylum.

  • Examples: France, Germany, Russia, and every other nation on earth.

The fact that there are high levels of political corruption in a country is not a valid legal reason to grant any random illegal immigrant from that country political asylum.

  • Example: Nigeria, and about 150 other nations.

The fact that a country may have a poor crop yield is not a valid legal reason to grant any random illegal immigrant from that country political asylum.

  • Example: Ethiopia, Sudan.

There is one, and only one, single, solitary, exclusive reason to grant a person political asylum in Germany. 


That is, that an individual can demonstrate a "well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country." That is the definition found in Article 1 of the 1951 UN Refugee convention and in Section 3 of the German Asylum Law (g).

People from some or all of these countries may indeed be entitled to political asylum. But not because they simply stumbled across the German border in 2015. They must show that they, individually, face severe persecution.

This is not my opinion, it is the law.

I hope this helps!

Spiegel Sets a Record: Six Migrants, No Reasons for Being in Germany

The Spiegel looks at what's on the smartphones (g) of six migrants. The whole article reads like an anodyne puff-piece from the heyday of Willkommenskultur.

We hear from Limamou from Senegal; Ahmad Hamed from Afghanistan; Hassan from Somalia; Ahmed from Pakistan; Ishan from Afghanistan; and Khaled from Eritrea. 

All male, all young. Not one from Syria. 

Let's do the basics here. Currently, in Germany, only migrants from Syria are accorded what's known as 'subsidiary protection' -- that is, because they are from a country currently engaged in civil war, they are essentially presumed to be entitled to legal residency in Germany.

Illegal immigrants from all other countries are not entitled to this blanket protection. This means that each of them, in order to obtain legal authorization to live in Germany, must prove that they, as individuals, face severe persecution on the basis of their religious beliefs, nationality, ethnicity, or political affiliations. The persecution must be severe enough to present a serious threat to health or life.

The lazy German reporter, violating one of the basic tenets of journalism, fails to ask the most important question of all: why are these men here? What valid legal reason do they have to justify their illegal border entry?

Pakistan is a peaceful, stable constitutional democracy. Afghanistan is also generally democratic. The Taliban is in control of somewhere between 20 and 30% of the country, depending on who you ask, and is waging an insurgency in some other areas. Nevertheless, the majority of the country is still under government control. And even in Taliban areas, it's hardly the young males who suffer.

And let's have a look at Senegal:

Currently, Senegal has a quasi-democratic political culture, one of the more successful post-colonial democratic transitions in Africa. Local administrators are appointed by, and responsible to, the president. Marabouts, religious leaders of the various Muslim brotherhoods of Senegal, also exercise a strong political influence in the country especially during Wade's presidency. In 2009, however, Freedom House downgraded Senegal's status from 'Free' to 'Partially Free', based on increased centralisation of power in the executive. However, it has since recovered its Free status by 2014.

In 2008, Senegal finished in 12th position on the Ibrahim Index of African Governance. The Ibrahim Index is a comprehensive measure of African governance (limited to sub-Saharan Africa until 2008), based on a number of different variables which reflect the success with which governments deliver essential political goods to their citizens. When the Northern African countries were added to the index in 2009, Senegal's 2008 position was retroactively downgraded to 15th place (with Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco placing themselves ahead of Senegal). As of 2012, Senegal's rank in the Ibrahim Index has decreased another point to 16 out of 52 African countries.

And Somalia? After years of lawlessness, Somalia is steadily regaining stability after the government was re-organized in 2012. It now has a central government recognized by a growing list of other countries:

Djibouti re-opened its embassy in Mogadishu in December 2010. The following year, India also re-opened its embassy in the capital after a twenty-year absence, as did Turkey.Iran and the United Kingdom followed suit in 2013, as well as Qatar and China in 2014.Italy maintains a special diplomatic delegation and a Technical Mission to Mogadishu, and is scheduled to re-open its embassy in the city. In 2013, Egypt likewise announced plans to re-open its embassy in Mogadishu.

In January 2013, the United States announced that it was set to exchange diplomatic notes with the new central government of Somalia, re-establishing official ties with the country for the first time in 20 years.

Migrants from Somalia not fleeing a country that is plummeting into civil war and chaos, they are fleeing a country that is recovering from civil war and chaos. 

Which leaves only Eritrea. Eritrea is a pretty messed-up place, even by Third World standards. The Eritrean man is most likely to have some genuine legal justification for staying in Germany. But we'll never know, since the reporter didn't ask.

Any German journalist who interviews a non-Syrian migrant without asking the most pressing question -- why do you think you have a right to stay here? -- is producing propaganda.