German Word and Rule of the Week: Knöllchen

A Düsseldorfer on Facebook recently found this underneath her windshield:

Knoellchen

It reads:

"You're parked illegally!

Ticket!

Joke we're just kids playing

we're sorry"

I found this pretty adorable. Almost makes me want to reproduce.

There are a few errors on the ticket, though. For one thing, there's no thorough explanation of your legal rights and the deadline for submitting an objection. For another, they describe the ticket as a 'Knolle'.

Knolle means bulge, lump, or more technically nodule. There is a slang expression for a traffic ticket here in the Rhineland, but that is Knöllchen, the diminutive form of lump. You get a 'little lump' on your windshield if you park illegally. Ain't that cool?

I'd be willing to bet the German kid who wrote this actually no-shit dreams of growing up to be a parking cop. Job security, civil servant status, reasonable hours, a tiny little bit of authority to exercise -- what's not to love?


Genetic Confounds and the Causes of Crime

Criminologist Brian Boutwell on the genetic influences on behavior, including criminal behavior:

Variety in our gene pool matters when we seek to understand why some people can dunk a basketball or compose a sonnet, and why some people persistently break the law. The effects of genetic differences make some people more impulsive and shortsighted than others, some people more healthy or infirm than others, and, despite how uncomfortable it might be to admit, genes also make some folks more likely to break the law than others.

...Imagine that you’re curious whether certain parenting styles influence self-control in children. It’s not hard to find evidence that the way parents treat their children is associated with the child’s level of self-control later in life. But parents don’t just pass on life lessons for learning self-control to their kids, they also pass along their genetic material. Half of your genetic material was inherited from Mom and half came from Dad. If you ignore the element of genetic transmission, you might falsely attribute any correlation between parent and child as being due to social transmission.

The way parents treat children is, in part, a product of their own personality and temperament. Personality is partly heritable, so the observation that parents and children tend to have similar levels of self-control could be due to social transmission, genetic transmission, or both.

Most of the evidence about the causes of crime overlooks genetic transmission. Yet, some research has found that once you account for genetic influences on self-control, previously identified social transmission effects (read: parenting) on the child’s self-control become unstable. In other words, when you control for genetic transmission (the alternative explanation that most criminologists overlook), the effect of parenting on self-control diminishes or goes away entirely.

Consider another type of parenting effect — one that shows up in the news frequently — spanking. Not long ago, we examined the relationship between spanking and behavioral problems in children. Once we controlled for genetic transmission, there was no spanking effect in the way that most scholars think about spanking effects. Put another way, our evidence did not support the conclusion that spanking causes behavioral problems in the sense that most psychologists would argue.

The conundrum of heritability transcends parenting. For instance, it’s obvious that crime isn’t randomly distributed across neighborhoods. It seems to be a relatively stable factor that defines an area over many generations. Equally nonrandom, though, is the process by which people sort themselves into neighborhoods. People cluster into areas based on a host of factors, including the primary factor of income. Here’s the kicker, if any of the traits that affect residential choices are heritable and you ignore that influence, your findings regarding the impact of neighborhood factors on crime could be in jeopardy.

A remarkable study in Sweden recently found that highly disadvantaged neighborhoods had more crime. Yet that neighborhood effect disappeared when risk factors concentrated within certain families were taken into account. Once again, social transmission effects weakened (and, in this case disappeared) when other factors like genetic transmission were controlled for. Does this finding guarantee that similar results will emerge in other samples around the world? No. But criminologists rarely consider the possibility that their own studies could be polluted by hidden genetic effects.

The more technical term for this phenomenon is genetic confounding, and there is reason to believe that it is endemic to much of the research coming out of the social sciences in general, and criminology in particular. Our own research into the issue suggests that even a modest amount of unmeasured genetic influence can pollute and infect your findings. As a result, much of what we think we know about the causes of crime could be overstated or just flat wrong.

I first became interested in genetic influences on behavior and opinion when I was writing my book on the death penalty. I wanted to know what kinds of argument and information change peoples' views on capital punishment, and found that the answer was, basically, none. The typical arguments people use against capital punishment are human rights, cost, reliability, deterrence, possibility of executing the innocent. And study after study showed that these arguments usually only changed a small percentage of peoples' minds, and that the changes were often temporary.

One reason for that is that your views on capital punishment are influenced by your genes. Since the sequencing of the human genome in 2003 -- the most important scientific achievement of the past 20 years -- researchers have been able to tease out the genetic influences on all sorts of behavior and personality traits. There's no reason that should exclude crime -- in fact, the kinds of personality traits which lead to a higher likelihood of crime are well-known to be heritable.

Every time you read about a social-science survey on the effects of education, parenting, or environment on this or that human trait, you should scan the report for any signs that the authors took genetic confounds into account. If they didn't the report is worthless. It's that simple.


The History of the German Press "No Ethnicity" Policy

Okinawa

(source)

Given that recent migrants have been committing a goodly number of crimes in Germany since 2015, the question facing reporters and editors is whether to tell their readers when crimes are committed by foreigners.

The German Press Code, a non-binding voluntary code of conduct put forward by the German Press Council, contains the famous Guideline 12.1, which specifies that news reports should not mention a that a criminal suspect is a member of an ethnic or religious minority unless there is an "objective reason" to do so linked to the specific circumstances of the crime. The rule further warns journalists that violating the guideline can "stoke prejudices against minorities".

This provision has come under a lot of scrutiny lately, with critics claiming it is a form of politically-correct censorship which patronizes readers. Readers can be trusted not to generalize, these critics say, and deserve a full picture of serious crimes. A few smaller German newspapers, including the Rhein Zeitung (g) and the Sächsische Zeitung (g), declared that they would no longer observe the guideline in their reporting. Most national press outlets have stuck by it, although they stress that they reserve the right to decide for themselves whether a suspect's ethnicity or nationality is relevant.

Yesterday I found out the interesting origins of this provision, thanks to this Deutschlandfunk (g) article. This long article (g) at the German Protestant Church's website gives an even more detailed history of the guideline's origins.

It turns out the provision goes back to a 1971 suggestion by Federation of German-American Clubs. They were dismayed that whenever black American soldiers were arrested for crimes in Germany, they were identified on the basis of their race. The Press Council incorporated the first "anti-discrimination" provision into the Press Code in 1973, and it's been updated several times since.

I found this enlightening and a bit surprising. I don't have all that much to add, except that the original context giving rise to Article 12.1 is hardly relevant anymore. There's a difference between merely identifying the skin color of a criminal suspect who is and will always remain a foreigner and who will certainly leave your country in a few years, and identifying the ethnic background of a person who is either living in your country for the foreseeable future, has its citizenship, or is actively claiming a a legal right to live there indefinitely (by getting asylum).

Tourists and soldiers on 2-year rotations are one thing, but Germans have every right to accurate information about whether people who have been invited to permanently resettle into their country or are seeking the right to do so are adapting well and contributing. And the amount of crime foreigners are responsible for is a legitimate indicator.

Yet even if this distinction doesn't convince you, gentle reader, I still think papers should ignore this guideline. Everyone already knows that certain kinds of crime are much more frequent in majority-black American ghettos and in heavily-immigrant areas of German cities. When flash-mobs pour into the streets of German cities (g) to attack policemen stopping cars or parking cops giving tickets, there is not a German alive who thinks the young men beating the cops have names like Ulf, Karlheinz, Alexander, and Torsten. Merely reporting what everyone is already going to suspect -- or (rarely) surprising them by showing the suspicion was false -- is hardly a breach of ethics.


"Arabs Enjoy the Suffering of Others"

Almost every day, something happens which reminds me of an interview (g) the Rheinische Post newspaper did with a Swiss woman, Gaby Zweng, in January of 2016. She has lived in Egypt for 17 years, and has had relationships with both Christian and Muslim men. She stressed that she herself felt safe in Egypt, and that the vast majority of Egyptians condemned the sort of sexual harassment that happened in Cologne.

But she also had a few other things to say:

You have surely heard of the attacks on New Years' Eve in Cologne. Does it surprise you that Muslims did something like that?

Zweng: Let's just say that it doesn't surprise me that men from Arab countries could do something like that. 

Why not?

Zweng: I am constantly aware here that events which are ascribed to Islam by the West happen just as often among Christians as among Muslims. Both religions live here alongside one another, and I think it's more a question of mentality than religion.

So the problem is not Islam but Arabic culture?

Zweng: Yes.

...

Could you imagine that something like what happened in Cologne might also happen in Cairo?

Zweng: Yes, that happened during the revolution in Cairo in Tahrir Square. Women went onto the streets and protested. I think that such things happen so that Arabic people can enjoy the suffering of other people, and that men especially want to raise their profile, especially in a group

Why do you think that Arabs, in particular, enjoy the suffering of others?

Zweng: Arabs love videos in which other people have accidents and suffer misfortunes. They find it funny. This has caught my attention, as well as that of some of my friends.

You mean videos of silly accidents and pratfalls like ones in Germany, or ones in which people are seriously injured?

Zweng: No, these are certainly serious videos. This is probably a result of the fact that here, you teach children what's right and wrong by hitting them, and people as a whole are much more likely to resort to violence than we are. That's how they are raised.

The latest incident that made me think of this interview was the arrest of seven young men -- six from Iraq, one from Libya -- for setting a homeless man on fire in a Berlin subway station.


Chicago's Bloody Christmas Makes International News

The BBC Newsbrief yesterday mentioned the shooting of 27 people over Christmas in Chicago. So did th Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Canoe.ca, and Le Monde.

One thing none of these newspapers mentioned was the demographic profile of the shooters and victims. There was talk of 'gangs' and 'high-crime neighborhoods', which all Americans can immediately decipher. But in case my foreign readers are wondering, this is what it's all about:

Chiav morr

(source). Although the majority of assailants has yet to be identified (it's hard to investigate crimes in black neighborhoods because witnesses distrust police and fear retaliation from the shooters, who are often well-known), nobody is assuming they're white.

Violent crime has always been a disproportionately black / Hispanic affair in the U.S., but it appears to be getting even more extremely concentrated. Not necessarily because black and Hispanic crime rates are going up -- they are, in some cities, but not dramatically overall -- but because U.S. urban whites and Asians are quickly becoming one of the most law-abiding groups in human history.

Thanks to gentrification and rising costs of living, the white populations of major U.S. citizens are becoming quite rich. This means the only groups left in cities who continue to commit any kind of violent crime at all are blacks and Hispanics. Despite a record wave of 750+ homicides in Chicago this year overall, some predominantly white neighborhoods had no homicides at all.

So feel free to visit Chicago, which is a delightful place. The locals will tell you which neighborhoods to avoid. Even if you visited them, you probably won't have a problem, since most of these killings are gang-related, and you're not in a gang. But you could be hit by a stray bullet.


Terrorism Set to Increase in Europe

Terrorism analyst Thomas Hegghammer predicts attacks will increase:

Abstract

This article presents a ten-year forecast for jihadism in Europe. Despite reaching historically high levels in recent years, violent Islamist activity in Europe may increase further over the long term due to four macro-trends: 1) expected growth in the number of economically underperforming Muslim youth, 2) expected growth in the number of available jihadi entrepreneurs, 3) persistent conflict in the Muslim world, and 4) continued operational freedom for clandestine actors on the Internet. Over the next decade, the jihadi attack plot frequency in Europe may follow a fluctuating curve with progressively higher peaks. Many things can undercut the trends and lead to a less ominous outcome, but the scenario is sufficiently likely to merit attention from policymakers....

The last few years have seen historically high levels of jihadi activity in Europe. There has been a negative development on a range of indicators, including:

  • Deaths: Between 2014 and 2016, jihadi attacks killed 273 people, more than in all previous years combined (267).[1]
  • Attacks: In 2015 and 2016, there were 14 jihadi attacks, about 3.5 times more than the biannual average (6) for the preceding fifteen years.[2]
  • Plots: In 2015 and thus far in 2016, there were 29 well-documented attack plots, about 2.5 times more than the biannual average (12).[3]
  • Execution rate: In 2015 and 2016 about half of the serious plots reached execution, compared with less than a third in the preceding fifteen years.[4]
  • Foreign fighters: Between 2011 and 2016 over 5,000 European Muslims went to fight in Syria; about five times more than the number that went to all previous destinations combined.[5]
  • Arrests: Between 2011 and 2015, almost 1,600 people were arrested in jihadism-related investigations in the EU (excluding the UK); an increase of 70% compared with the previous five-year period.[6]

....The first macro-trend is that the main demographic pool from which European jihadis have historically been recruited, namely economically underperforming Muslim youth, seems to be growing. We know that the majority of European jihadis are young Muslim men of immigrant background from the lower half of the socioeconomic ladder. We do not yet know whether or not their economic underperformance has a causal effect on radicalization, but we know that a majority of them are drawn from this demographic. Tens of large-n studies have found European jihadis, as a group, to score worse than national averages on indicators such as education level, employment rate, and criminal conviction rate.[19]

We also know that the size of the European Muslim population is increasing as a result of immigration and relatively high (but declining) fertility rates. According to Pew Research, the Muslim population in Northern, Western and Southern Europe is set to increase with around 50% from 2010 to 2030, from around 25 million to 37 million.[20] The highest relative increase is expected in Northern and Western Europe, with a 98% and 45% increase respectively (3.8 to 7.5 million in Northern Europe, and 11.3 to 16.4 million in Western Europe). The share of the total population is expected to increase from 3.8% to 7% in Northern Europe, from 6% to 8.6% in Western Europe, and from 6.9% to 8.8% in Southern Europe.

Pew also projected the Muslim population in all European countries except the Balkans to have a male surplus in 2030, albeit a slightly smaller one than in 2010. Some countries such as the UK, Norway, Spain and Italy expect sex ratios of over 120 men per 100 women in 2030. The Muslim population is also generally younger than the non-Muslim population, and although the gap is expected to decrease slightly compared with today, the proportion of the European Muslim population under age 30 in 2030 is expected at around 42%, compared with 31% for non-Muslims. The Pew analysis was conducted before the refugee crisis in 2015, which brought around 1 million asylum seekers from Muslim-majority countries to the European Union, over 60% of whom were men under 35.[21]

Most important, we have good reason to expect the European Muslim population to continue to be economically underperforming on average. In most European countries, Muslims are the most economically disadvantaged major religious group.[22] This is likely the result of three factors: first, that many Muslim immigrants arrived with low education; second, that social mobility in the EU is generally mediocre (except in Scandinavia)[23]; and third, that there is documented anti-Muslim discrimination in the labour market.[24] Put more simply, many early Muslim immigrants entered the labour market as working class, and their children were not able to climb the social ladder. This situation is likely to persist, because first-generation Muslim immigrants continue to arrive with relatively low education on average, and there is little to suggest social mobility will increase or anti-Muslim discrimination will decrease in the EU in the coming decade. We therefore have good reason to believe that the number of economically disaffected Muslim youth in Europe will be larger in 2030 than today.

It strikes me as highly likely that the hundreds of thousands of young Muslim males who arrived in Germany in 2015 will present an even higher risk of terrorism than Muslims who've been here longer. Young Muslim males in Germany have not carried out successful terror attacks at anywhere near the rate of ones in France and Belgium, despite being "economically underperforming" to a certain degree. Most observers attribute that to the fact that the modal Muslim male in Germany is Turkish, not Arabic. Something about Turkish Muslims seems to make them less susceptible to radicalization in Europe than Muslims from other countries.

But of course the demographic composition of German Muslims has been permanently changed by the 2015 influx. There are now hundreds of thousands of new arrivals from Arabic countries, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Unlike longer-settled Turkish Muslims, these new arrivals don't know and will likely never learn German. They also don't have local families and communities to watch over them and worry about them.

And as we're seeing every single day, they are becoming bitterly disappointed at life in Germany. They "promised" jobs and apartments haven't materialized. Learning German is a hopeless task for most of them, and living without language skills is always a bitter pill. They're young and full of testosterone, but can't find girlfriends. In addition to the fact that they can't speak German and have no jobs or money, there's also the fact that so many new young Muslim males entered Germany in 2015 that they have created a significant gender imbalance in their age group. There are now way too many males 18-34 in Germany chasing the same number of females as there were in 2013.

Add to that the very real possibility that they have a higher than average rate of mental illness.

These hundreds of thousands of disaffected, alienated, frustrated young males in Germany will be easy pickings for Jihadists in the coming years. Unless, that is, the German authorities manage to deport them. I'm not holding my breath.


'Lessons of History' Taught to Empty Classrooms

Many aspects of German life, people will tell you, have been shaped by the 'lessons' Germans have learned from things which happened 80 years ago.

'We' learned, you'll hear everywhere, that state killing is wrong, which is why 'we' adopted Art. 102 of the post-war German constitution, which bans the death penalty. And which is why 'we' lecture other countries on why they, too, should end executions.

Whenever you hear a German saying something like this, ask them: Who's 'we'? They'll be puzzled at first, never having given this question a moment's thought. But then you can Socratically lead them to the realization that 'we' refers only to the educated upper class. When the Basic Law was being debated in the late 1940s, the death penalty was still wildly popular in Germany, with approval routinely between 70 and 80 percent. And the man who proposed that abolishing the death penalty be part of the German constitution was Hans-Christoph Seebohm, a right-winger who also wanted a constitutional ban on abortion.

Which brings us to video surveillance of public places in Germany. Once again, the amorphous 'we' raises its head: 'We' suffered through two dictatorships during the 20th century in which governments spied relentlessly on their citizens, which is why 'we' don't trust or want surveillance cameras. 

Except that a recent poll shows 83% of Germans do want more surveillance cameras (g) in public places.

When History was teaching its Lessons, the people -- like German university students today -- skipped class.


Unblocked Photos, Video Surveillance, and Other Concessions to Reality

There are any number of German privacy laws that restrict the ability of German police to solve crimes. Cops are not allowed to use DNA to create profiles of criminal suspects. Major political parties continue to resist putting surveillance cameras in public places, or upgrading the ludicrously outdated ones that are already there. 

And police often wait days or months to publish photos of criminal suspects. Even when they do, the photos are often blurred out of concerns for "privacy".

Which leads to what the rest of the world sees as a ludicrous charade: a manhunt for a dangerous wanted terrorism suspect in which the public is not allowed to see the man's face.

This is the photos of Anis Amri, the Tunisian asylum-seeker suspect in the Breitscheidplatz Christmas market attack, as show on the front page of the German Bild tabloid:

Bildredc

And here is the photo of the suspect as shown on the Daily Mirror tabloid site:

Fff

As the Mirror notes, with barely-disguised incredulity:

Despite an unfolding international manhunt the first pictures of him released in Germany have his eyes deliberately covered, thought to be because of strict privacy laws there. MailOnline has uncovered unblurred images.

In case you were wondering, the website of the Daily Mirror can be accessed from anywhere inside Germany, so the unblurred photo is just a mouse-click away.

When Germans bother to ask why these photos are so often blurred, or not even released in the first place, authorities mumble something about 'privacy concerns' and 'data protection'. The restrictions have just been around forever, they're taken so much for granted that nobody seems to actually understand why they still exist. It's like asking why pretzels are folded the way they are. Who knows? We've always just done it that way.

If pressed, Green Party members (the most vociferous opponents of updating police laws) will probably say something like "Well, if you release the entire photo, the man will be marked for life. Maybe some vigilante will try to attack him." Yet there is no proof that these things happen with regularity in other countries which do release unedited photos. Of course there might be isolated cases, but by and large, people in those countries -- i.e. the rest of the world -- understand that suspects are just suspects, and that it's wrong and illegal to take the law into your own hands. And that the public interest in apprehending dangerous violent criminals also has to be taken into account, and is very high.

Allow me to make another one of my predictions: most of these outdated policies will crumble within the next few years. The moderate, cautious, kid-gloves approach to law enforcement in Germany was designed for a bygone era, in which Germany was much more homogeneous and even criminals shared a language, culture, and set of expectations with the society in which they lived.

When Dieter the local bartender robs a bank with a plastic pistol because he lost his job and can't pay his mortgage, he's probably going to turn himself in and confess ('I just drank a bottle of Schnaps and lost control.'). Everyone knows Dieter and his family, Dieter showed he understands what he did was wrong, nobody was hurt, and Dieter will not only promise to repay the money, he will actually do so. Because Dieter is German, and has roots in the community, and can anticipate regaining some place in it if he shows genuine remorse. The same even goes for Dieter beating his wife after a violent argument. Of course that crime is much more serious, and Dieter will go to prison, but the crime is still comprehensible and (conditionally) forgivable within the pattern of assumptions and practices that make up German culture. 

The sort of crime happening in Germany has changed completely. The laws will need to change as well. There will still be vigorous rear-guard resistance to these changes, but it will eventually fail. As Herbert Stein once said, if something can't go on forever, it will stop.


Greece Sends Thugs on Their Merry Way North

Hussein K., the suspect in the rape and murder of a 19-year-old medical student in Freiburg, was convicted of attacking a woman in Greece in 2014 and sentenced to 10 years in prison. But in 2015, he was released from prison and joined the throng of migrants entering Germany. Even though he violated the conditions of his early release, his name was never entered into the Europe-wide database of wanted criminals.

Why was this allowed to happen? Because of a Greek law nominally intended to reduce prison overcrowding. One of the consequences of the law, however, was that Greece was able to empty its prison of foreign criminals, most of whom seem to have promptly joined the migrant exodus to the greener pastures of Northern Europe. The Badische Zeitung reports (g, my translation, h/t MM):

A high-ranking [Greek] police official said on condition of confidentiality: "Everyone we had who were rapists, robbers, and violent criminals from Afghanistan, Morocco and Algeria as of 2015 is now gone. They were released because of the law of Justice Minister [Theodoros] Paraskevopoulos and joined the stream of refugees. We just exported the problem, rather than arresting them or leaving them in prison."

It's hard to blame the Greeks. After all, they were left to deal with the brunt of the migrant influx, even though their economy teeters on the brink of collapse. All the while Germany was welcoming anyone who managed to enter the country, from anywhere, for any reason, without any pesky background checks or verification.

The temptation to get rid of a bunch of nasty foreigner criminals must have been just too hard to resist. I can imagine the judges chuckling as they warned the rootless foreigners, just released from prison, that they really must check in with their local Greek police station once a month as a condition of their parole -- while just a few blocks away, hordes of random people are being ferried to a new life in the promised land of safe, stable, welcoming Germany.


Sex Crimes in Bavaria

No, not a Fassbinder film. This chart, from a recent Don Alphonso column:

Bavaria sex

From the annual crime statistics of the German state of Bavaria. From 2014-2015, there was an increase of 3.4% in reported serious sex crimes (825 to 853); an increase of 8.5% in suspects found (from 709 to 769). The number of non-German sex offenders increased by 40.8%, from 233 to 328. The percentage of sex crimes committed by non-Germans increased from 32.9% to 42.7%.

Yet another data point supporting the thesis that imported young males are directly counteracting the trend toward less violent crime among aging native Germans. If it hadn't been for the 95 additional sex crimes committed by foreigners in 2015, there would have been a decrease in the total number of sex crimes from 825 to 758 -- an 8.1% decrease. Instead, the number of sex crimes by foreigners increased by 95, driving the overall incidence of sex crime up by 3.4%.

Almost all the statistics I've seen tell exactly the same story. Germany was on the road to becoming an increasingly safe society, a natural consequence of its aging population. Then the government began importing large numbers of random young males from failed states. They are pretty much single-handedly ensuring that the level violent crime in Germany remains stable or goes up.

Unless you're a fan of violent crime, I wouldn't exactly call this a policy success, would you?