German public broadcaster complains about exclusion from AfD event, forgetting it excluded AfD from televised debate

By Vincent van den Born
AfD's leader Frauke Petry / @Facebook page Dr. Frauke Petry

A “massive interference with the freedom of the press.” That is what German broadcaster ARD calls the Alternative für Deutschland‘s (AfD) decision to deny it press accreditation. It refutes the ground for its exclusion, which is AfD MEP Marcus Pretzell’s conclusion that their news coverage of the party has not been up to journalistic standards. “The damage is done to our public,” ARD recons, “which we now cannot inform about the meeting of rightwing populist parties in Europe.” Other media outlets, similarly banned from attending, follow suit, with the Frankfurter Allgemeine bemoaning the fact that “public service broadcasters” are excluded. ARD lets its public know, that it “reserves the right to take legal action against its exclusion.

Marcus Pretzell, chairman of AfD North Rhine-Westphalia, meanwhile is oblivious to any infringement of the freedom of the press: “The ZDF wanted to know if they could come, after we excluded the ARD.” he tweeted, “No [they can’t]. They can follow the livestream.” In an earlier tweet, he mentioned that those “that were in charge of invitations for the Presseball are now whining.”

It is hard to see what case ARD, whose members (regional broadcasters SWR and MDR) excluded AfD from appearing in televised debates, has.

The meeting in Koblenz on 21 January will be between the respective heads of the parties that work together in the ERF-faction in the European Parliament, and will include Front National‘s Marine Le Pen, Partij van de Vrijheid‘s Geert Wilders and AfD‘s own Frauke Petry.

Leaked report: actual Dutch crime rates much higher than government claims

By Willem Cornax
Dutch SWAT team / @Facebook page Arrestatieteam in Actie

A leaked report shows crime in the Netherlands to be severely more prevalent than reported. The reliability of statistics that were previously used to paint a less gloomy picture are called into question. The report was supposed to be presented to the Dutch government after the parliamentary elections of March 2017, but it is now in the hands of the Dutch newspaper Trouw

The researchers behind the report fear a continuing downward trend of public trust in the rule of law within society. Criminals are now “acting like there’s no chance of getting caught“.

This leak is in sharp contrast with statements made by the country’s Justice Minister, Ard van der Steur. He closed prisons in early 2016, and recently noted the number of burglaries to have dropped significantly. Van der Steur’s view seems to be supported by the chief economist of the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), Peter van Mulligen. The research he mentions shows a consistent downward trend in crime rates, and reports that people now feel safer than before.

However, statistics are only as good as the data that is used. The newly leaked report shows great insight into the statistical workings of these favourable downward trends portrayed by the government. 

The perceived and factual lack of personnel in all branches of law enforcement is the main reason civilians are no longer bothering to report crimes. The past decade shows a 23% drop in willingness to report burglary and theft.

A drop in reported crimes, therefore does not necessarily correspond with a drop in actual crime, as Van der Steur falsely suggested. Researchers infer that civilians have grown accustomed to burglaries and inaction by police. Based on the Safety Monitor for 2015, there were an estimated 4,500,000 crimes in the Netherlands. However, only 960,000 crimes were registered by the police. 57% of the crimes that were reported, were never investigated, mainly due to lack of leads. Only 186,000 cases eventually made it to court, approximately 18% of registered crime and a mere 4,1% of the estimated overall crime in 2015. 

These researchers are not alone in their concerns. In March 2016 both mayors of the largest Dutch cities, the head of Dutch police, as well as one the largest Police Unions voiced their concerns about proposed further budget cuts.

Germany plans to deport migrants to Greece, but it’s unlikely to succeed

By Benjamin de Wolf
Migrants and refugees protesting against deportation and for better conditions camp out next to Sendlinger Tor city gate on September 13, 2016 in Munich, Germany / Getty

According to German Minister of Interior Thomas de Maiziere, the Germans are likely to reinstate the Dublin III regulations, obligating refugees to make their asylum application in the European country they first arrived in. Spokesman Tobias Plate further elaborated: “In line with the European Commission’s recommendation, Germany believes that such transfers will be possible from March 15th. This would mean most of Germany’s asylum seekers could be sent back to Greece around that time.

For obvious reasons Athens disapproves the ruling. Still dealing with their economic crisis, Minister Yannis Mouzalas replied by saying they are “unable to respond to the historic migration flows and leaves the burden to the member states that migrants first arrive in.” 

The German government expects the new policy to have a positive effect on the amount of asylum seekers coming to Europe, with German numbers already dropping from admitting 280.000 in 2016 compared to the 890.000 in 2015.

However, considering that in 2016, of the 8,363 rejected asylum seekers from Northern-Africa, Germany only managed to deport 368, one can doubt Germany’s actual capacity to track down and collect those migrants eligible for deportation to Greece.

Additionally, in 2017, a major increase in asylum seekers is expected. According to an example by Welt, unemployment in Africa is likely to remain at eight percent, but the absolute number of people looking for job searches is likely to rise from 37.1 million to 38.3 million. In North Africa alone, nine million are unemployed. In Africa – Sub-Saharan – around a third of people would be willing to leave their homeland.

So, the Germans take yet another step back from their initial refugees-welcome policy, this time solving their problems by morphing wir shaffen das into Die Griechen shaffen das. And with Greece’s $366 billion debt, an influx of asylum seekers pending, it might become harder for them to resist the temptation of the Turkish business model, boiling down to: ‘give us cash, or we send waves of migrants your way.’

After Le Pen, Czech president Milos Zeman too is invited to meet with Trump

By Vincent van den Born
Czech President Milos Zeman arrives for the Warsaw NATO Summit on July 8, 2016 in Warsaw, Poland / Getty

The Washington Post recently published an edited interview with Czech president Milos Zeman, on his invitation to the White House in late April. Formerly a member of the Social Democratic Party and serving as prime minister (1998-2003), Zeman was elected president of the Czech Republic in 2013.

When asked how the invitation came about, Zeman answers: “Donald Trump called me,” continuing that it was a private conversation: “He said that he knows the Czech Republic. He visited the Czech Republic because of his former wife [the Czech-born Ivana]. And that is why he said that the Czech Republic is a very beautiful country. And I have agreed.” 

Zeman blames the fact that he has not been invited earlier, on his differing views on Israel and Obama’s US foreign policy in the Middle East, which he holds responsible for destroying structures and countries in the area. His invitation by Trump is the natural outcome of Zeman’s early support: “I was the single European head of state who publicly supported Trump before the presidential elections.” Elaborating on this support, Zeman notices Trump’s courage: “Political correctness is to say ‘international terrorism’. Courage is to say ‘Islamic terrorism’.”

Of course, The Washington Post‘s Anthony Faiola presses him on his stance on Putin and Russia, alleging he has been called ‘pro-Russian’ and has pleaded for an end to sanctions against the country.

Zeman answers deftly that “this is the standard slogan of my opponents. (…) Do you know why I am against sanctions? Because they represent a lose-lose strategy (…) because I am against the sanctions, they understand me as a pro-Russian politician. That’s all. (…) I am not financed by Russia, no vodka from Russia, no money from Russia. (…) They say that I am even paid by Russians, but in fact I am only an agent of Czechia, the Czech Republic.

During the Crimean Crisis in 2014 however, Zeman drew a clear line against Russian expansion beyond the Crimea, saying: “The moment Russia decides to widen its territorial expansion to the eastern part of Ukraine, that is where the fun ends. “There I would plead not only for the strictest EU sanctions, but even for military readiness of the North Atlantic Alliance, like for example NATO forces entering Ukrainian territory. (…) Even for me – and I am no hawk – it would be a sort of red line to attempt to annexe the eastern part of Ukraine. That is where I would change from a dove to a man who calls for very harsh sanctions.

Asked about Czech intelligence’s fear of Russian disinformation, Zeman proves to be a believer in democracy and common sense: “If you have some views, for instance, Russians have some views and you want to formulate it publicly in the media, it is not misinformation, it is not propaganda. Let us take, for instance, political parties. There are exchanges of arguments, sometimes politician’s slogans. I understand it is a normal situation because I believe in the common sense of citizens, in the Czech Republic and in America.”

Belief in European values and democracy is also present in his Parthian shot. When asked about his earlier statements on the incompatibility of Islam and European culture. “There is a strong difference between American and European culture and Muslim culture. And this is the attitude toward women. For Muslims, the women are, well, inferior, inferior beings. So, this is unacceptable in European culture. I could give you other examples, but I think this concerns a half of the population.

Danish government to clamp down on jihadist websites

By David Frankenhuis

Denmark is planning to launch an ambitious array of measures in an effort to counter violent Islamist extremism. The four-point plan, that the government presented to parliament yesterday, aims at blocking “websites with propaganda for terror organisations”. People involved in spreading online hatred will be dealt with under criminal law, according to the plans of the Justice Ministry.

The bill furthermore targets the financial resources of jihadist fighting abroad and tries to prevent radicalization in prisons, writes The Danish Local.

It is feared that the new measures could restrict free speech. They are nevertheless required, according to the Ministry, since there exists a “significant threat to our free and open society that comes from radicalised Islamists who have been exposed to terrorist propaganda. We must prevent vulnerable young people from becoming radicalised and supporting the vile ideology of terrorist organisations. With the new bill, we will work to prevent the spread of propaganda. This applies both online, where it will be possible to block websites that terrorist organisations use to spread propaganda, and in prisons, where inmates must be motivated to break free from the radical environment”, Justice Minister Søren Pape Poulsen said.

The police are tasked with providing information on the terrorist propaganda websites to courts, who will then decide on whether the online medium is to be blocked or not.

Another interesting element of the bill is aimed at healing extremist prisoners of their religiously inspired homicidal tendencies. The Ministry hopes to achieve this goal through compulsory exit programs as a parole requirement.

The problem of radicalised inmates drew attention after the twin attacks in the Danish capital of Copenhagen two years back. In February of 2015, terrorist Omar El-Hussein went on a shooting spree, targeting a meeting at a cultural centre and a synagogue as well. Two people were killed by El-Hussein, who supposedly embraced jihadist ideology while in jail. Since the twin shootings the Danish Prison and Probation Service (Kriminalforsorgen) watches the Islamists leaving their penitentiaries with a vigilant eye.

There are ‘hard’ times ahead for the so-called ‘foreign fighters’ as well. If the Ministry’s plans are approved, they will no longer be able to live off the Danish welfare state. This measure is now considered after the emergence of disturbing reports mentioning Danish Jihadists abroad that received unemployment benefits.

At least 135 Danish citizens have left their home country to murder and pillage in Syria, according to intelligence reports. In comparison with other Western countries and relative to its size, only Belgium performs worse as a ‘cultivator’ for foreign fighters.

Merkel receives honorary doctorate in Brussels. Rectors compare her to Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks

By Vincent van den Born

Yesterday, the Belgian Universities of Leuven and Ghent saw fit to award the German chancellor Angela Merkel for her open door policy. She was the first to ever receive an honorary doctorate from the two largest Belgian universities.

And to emphasise European unity, it was done in the EU’s capital of Brussels. Some excerpts from the speech by the Rector of Leuven University Rik Torfs, in which Merkel was all but declared holy, below:

You have been the world’s most powerful female politician for years, according to Forbes. Time declared you Person of the Year in 2015. And an increasing number of people consider you the stronghold of democracy, build their hope on you as leader of the Free West.

But you have always been consistently European, and continued – and continue – standing up for a unified Europe with unflagging zeal. You finalized the Treaty of Lisbon, thereby providing the European Union with a solid institutional foundation. As a result, solid European thinking and acting became possible. This proved to be very necessary a couple of years later, with the euro crisis.

More recently, with the refugee crisis, however, it became painfully clear how little this solid European thinking and acting has thus far taken hold. This was probably the low point in the recent history of our continent, which proved incapable of adequately responding to a crisis that concerns all of us – whether we start from our values and humanitarian duties, or from the interests we are pursuing.

A world without role models goes insane. That’s where the wretched hive of scum and villainy thrives. That’s where they are in their element. They put thousands of people to the sword, steal the past, abort the future, murder and burn and plunder. That is their legacy. Truly great figures, by contrast, don’t usually do great deeds. They perform small deeds, but these little sparks kindle great fires. Martin Luther King had a dream. Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat. Gandhi made salt. Nelson Mandela went through the gate and greeted people. I believe that you still feel too young and modest to be counted among these heroes, but with Wir schaffen das – attainable or not – you nevertheless stand a good chance in a couple of decades from now. Not with the words themselves, perhaps, but with the nobility of soul that gives these words their strength. Wir erwarten das.

But we’re not that patient. KU Leuven and UGent already want to show their appreciation now. They do so by conferring a joint honorary doctorate.

But we’re not that patient,” indeed,  Rector Torfs is in a hurry to praise Merkel for a phrase she herself now considers “an empty phrase, devoid of meaning,” one which she doesn’t want to hear repeated. As mass immigration is pushed on the peoples of Europe, this praise must be heaped on Merkel by an unelected in-crowd. In a cynical political game, Merkel is lauded before her time, while the consequences of her actions have not yet truly materialised.

The full transcript of the speech can be read here.

Mario Monti presents plans for EU federal tax system to be implemented in 2021

By Timon Dias

In 2014 the EU knew it couldn’t keep up with its own spending, and the people of EU member states were getting less and less enthusiastic about paying for the life support of an unelected and unaccountable European super state. So it tasked Mario Monti, the former European Commissioner (1999 – 2004) and Italian prime minister (2011 – 2013) to write a report on how to keep Brussels from going bankrupt, without further burdening individual member states, who already account for 80% of the EU’s budget.

The current system of raising funds for the EU budget predominately from Member State contributions is inefficient and leads to horse-trading and public disagreement. This undermines the EU’s ability to function effectively and has a negative impact on the way citizens perceive the Union,” the summary (PDF) of the report states.

Further on the summary states that “Any form of taxation on the European level should not constitute an additional tax burden, and thus has to be coupled with a reform of taxes on other levels.

All sounds pretty noble, right? But what the EU actually means by ‘not constituting an additional tax burden’, is creating an EU tax system over which national member states have next to no control, because it is levied at a federal level by federal institutions instead of by national institutions controlled by national parliaments.

The report states that the EU should levy its own: Financial Transaction Tax, Carbon Tax, European VAT, European Corporate Income Tax and Aviation Tax, while at the same time it should sell Eurobonds and assure that “the yearly profit of the European Central Bank could be transferred to the EU“.

The report is seen as the foundation of the EU’s next seven-year spending plan, which will take off in 2021.

The EU is broke, but the two most expensive crises the EU currently faces – the migration crisis and euro crisis – are both of its own making. Merkel’s open invitation has caused a migration flow costing Europe billions – Germany alone is estimated to spend 86 billion euro on the crisis during the coming four years.

The EU’s policy of rescuing stranded migrants at sea, which instead of returning them home, brings them into Europe to apply for asylum, only protracts this crisis ― simply because this policy encourages migrants to take the risk. Indeed, like Jim Molan, Australia’s migration architect implies: Europe is not even trying to halt this crisis.

Then there’s the euro crisis, costing the EU many hundreds of billions of euros. All because countries like Greece, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus and now Italy― that were in no way fiscally qualified to join the euro in the first place, but were admitted anyway on ideological grounds― are expected to maintain a fiscal discipline similar to that of the Germans.

In short, the EU got itself into crises that it can no longer afford, so in an attempt to stay afloat, it’s now seeking to expand its tax levying capacities beyond the grasp of member state populations.

Oh, what’s that? Did someone just whisper “no taxation without representation“?

“Merkel must go!” say banners along Merkel’s route to Brussels

By Vincent van den Born

Merkel must go!” is the message that banners on multiple access roads leading to Brussels have been conveying for a week. Written in Dutch, they are presumed to be the work of Flemish supra-nationalist group Voorpost. Although the German and Dutch languages show strong similarities, it is unclear whether Merkel would be able to understand the sentence (which would be rendered Merkel muss weg in German) even if she saw it, though she might be able to hazard a guess.

Merkel has been invited to Brussels to receive an honorary doctorate for “her diplomatic and political efforts to build up the political strength of Europe, and to defend values that allow our continent to find unity in diversity.” Uniquely, the doctorate will be presented to her by two universities, the University of Leuven and Ghent University. 

Excited by this “making of history“, the University of Leuven enthusiastically tweets about the gown it has commissioned for the occasion, which prominently features the University seal. Leuven and Ghent are considered to be the better universities in Belgium and are place in the upper echelons of European universities.

Filip Dewinter, leader of, and Federal parliamentarian for, the Flemish separatist party Vlaams Belang, sarcastically describes the banners as a “warm welcome,” taking to Twitter to advocate closing the Belgian borders. This is a reference to Merkel’s famous quote “wir schaffen das” (we’ll manage) which Voorpost reckons is partly responsible for the influx of a million of migrants into Germany, and by extension, Europe.


French leftwing professor gathers over 76.000 signatures in one week for petition demanding Juncker’s resignation

By Timon Dias

Using the petition platform Change.org, the French professor of economics Jacques Nikonoff has gathered over 75.000 signatures for a petition demanding Juncker to step down, the French daily Le Figaro reported today.

At the time of writing, the petition which was launched only last week, reached over 76.000 signatures. The petition is still 73.463 signatures away from its intended 150.000, after which it will be presented to the “President of the French Republic, National Assembly and European Commission.

According to the petition, Juncker’s obstruction of EU tax evasion regulations during his time as prime minister of Luxembourg, was the final straw. “Consequently, Mr Juncker must leave his position as President of the European Commission. Either, if he has a little decency, he resigns himself, or the European commissioners appoint another president.

In 2001, Nikonoff was a board member of the French Communist Party, and in 2008 he was involved in founding the anti-globalist Political Movement for Popular Education (M’PEP), calling for the French disengagement from the EU, the euro and NATO.

Somali gang war forces Sweden to change hand grenade laws

By David Frankenhuis

Sweden is going to quadruple the minimum sentence for the possession of hand grenades, says the Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven. This past year, the Scandinavian country witnessed several attacks in which this type of weapon was used. The violence in the city of Gothenburg arose from a gang war involving criminal groups made up of Somali migrants.

One of the attacks took place in Biskopsgarden neighbourhood in August, killing a Somali boy named Yuusuf Warsame, who lived in the British city of Birmingham. The 8-year-old was visiting relatives in Sweden when the grenade exploded in the bedroom where he slept. According to a police statement, one of the people registered at the address was a person convicted of murder by a district court.

That same month, Gothenburg suffered more casualties relating to a turf war between rival migrant gangs, when several masked gunmen burst into a local restaurant and opened fire with automatic weapons. Two people were killed in the shooting and eight were wounded. The prosecutor called the shoot out “a pure massacre”. Eight people were sentenced in this case. The city has become so violent immigrants are now considering whether it’s not just safer to return home to Somalia.

Löfven yesterday defended his bolstering of the law when addressing a party leaders debate at the Riksdag, in the Swedish capital Stockholm. He also announced tougher punishment for crimes committed with weapons. “We are now tightening the punishment for weaponised crimes. Those who go out with a weapon should know that it could be several years before they are allowed to see their family outside of a prison again. In our way of building communities, organised crime will be thrown off our streets and into prison,” Löfven said. The PM added that “many will remember 2016 as a year of fear”, even though the Sweden’s economy is doing fine and its educational system performs well.

For the time being, Swedish law still considers hand grenades to be ‘flammable and explosive products’ instead of weaponry, writes the Swedish Local. Crimes involving these ‘products’ can therefore only result in jail sentences up to a maximum of four years.

The tightening of the laws will come into effect during this summer. It does not only involve grenades but other types of explosives as well. The bill emerged this past December when the government declared it wished to classify hand grenades as weapons instead of mere ‘products’.

“Today, the gang environment is… I don’t want to exactly call it the Wild West, but something in that direction,” Amir Rostami, an expert on organised crime, commented. “Some years ago, it used to be very strong groups controlling the criminal world, but today we’ve got more and a lot smaller groups fighting for control of their areas – and that has increased the number of conflicts we see between groups and individuals.”

EP’s Presidential Debate shows EU parliamentary democracy is on life support

By Timon Dias

Good morning. Here’s a 1,5-hour video of Politico‘s debate between the seven candidates for the Presidency of the European Parliament – three of whom seem unable to speak English. You probably won’t watch it. Good call. Because more than anything, it shows the absolute vegetative state of European parliamentary democracy. Although this concerns the presidency of a parliament that is supposed to present 508.000.000 Europeans, apart from a few inner-circle EU correspondents, no one seems to care.

In fact, Martin Schulz, the EP’s current president who will step down on January 17, didn’t care either. When he was re-elected as president in 2014, he didn’t even attend the EP’s debate on the matter.

Technically – as President of a parliament that doesn’t even has the authority to propose legislation – the seat’s function is largely ceremonial. But it’s not as if the job is void of prestige. The President earns well over €200.000 a year, has a staff of 33 assistants, two ushers dressed in black tails to greet guests and two limousines with drivers.

And as the EP’s ambassador to the outside world, the president does have a far-reaching informal opportunity to leave his mark on the way the EU is perceived. Lest we forget that in 2012, on behalf of 508 million Europeans, Martin Schulz bent the knee to two delegates of the Gulf Cooperation Council, in the wake of the Innocence of Muslims movie controversy.

The Netherlands first NATO country to test Israeli made Active Protection Systems for armoured vehicles

By Vincent van den Born

Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reports that the Dutch Ministry of Defence has contracted the Swedish company BAE Systems to begin testing an Active Protection System (APS) for use by the Dutch Army. Simply put, APS works by detecting and destroying (hence active protection) Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGM), Rocket-Propelled Grenades (RPG) and even – in some systems – High Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) rounds. This negates the need to ‘up-armour’ lighter vehicles and offers greater crew and vehicle survivability, especially in urban operations.

Specifically, BAE will lead the integration of the Israeli company IMI Systems’ Iron Fist APS on BAE’s CV90 Infantry Fighting Vehicle. “Iron Fist will give the Dutch Army a highly sophisticated defensive tool on its CV90s to counter threats and improve the safety of the vehicle and its crew,” said Tommy Gustafsson-Rask, managing director of Sweden-based BAE Systems Hägglunds.

Iron Fist is one of multiple APS currently deployed or under development, with other notable systems being the Soviet era Drozd and its Russian successor Arena, the Israeli Trophy and Germany’s AMAP-ADS.

Having sold all its 116 Leopard 2A6 main battle tanks, The 193 CV90’s are currently the most numerous and powerful armoured fighting vehicle owned by the Dutch Army. Equipping four armoured infantry brigades, it is armed with the Bushmaster III 35/50mm rapid-fire cannon, an FN MAG 7.65mm machine gun and is capable of ferrying seven fully equipped infantrymen into battle.

Though it is unclear whether or not the Netherlands will end up acquiring the system, if it does, it would be a first.

During this test phase we will pre-qualify the active system against our threat specification, and together with our partners analyse system safety and prepare for its integration onto our CV9035NL vehicles,” said Hans de Goeij, project manager at the Netherlands Defence Materiel Organisation, Ministry of Defence. “We expect to make a decision on the next phase by early 2018. With Iron Fist, the Netherlands is expected to become the first NATO country with an Active Protection System of its kind on combat vehicles.

A different brand of Israeli APS, Rafael’s Trophy system, can be seen below during live action in Gaza, 2014.

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