German crime rate lowest since 1992

Scare claims of escalating crime in Germany after recent influxes of refugees are contrary to what has been happening there. But the good news comes with a warning.

Deutsche Welle: Crime rate in Germany lowest since 1992, but Seehofer still issues stern warning

“Germany has become safer,” Interior Minister Horst Seehofer proclaimed on Tuesday morning in Berlin, as he presented the latest crime statistics for the first time since taking over the post in the new German government.

The latest figures show that some 5.76 million crimes were reported in 2017, 5 percent fewer than in the previous year and the lowest number since 1992. Taken as a percentage of the population, the crime rate is actually at its lowest in 30 years, Seehofer said.

However, Seehofer’s press briefing still had a somber tone to it. The interior minister acknowledged that the latest trends come at a time of public wariness, fueled largely by an increase in terror attacks in recent years, coupled with the influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees.

The latest figures show that 44 percent of the German population feels less secure today than they did a few years ago.

“There is no reason to sound the all-clear and much remains to be done” Seehofer said, adding that rule of law must protect itself against all forms of extremism and terrorism.

However, Andre Schulz, the head of Germany’s Federation of German Police Officers, described the differentiation between German public sentiment and actual safety as “a paradox,” adding that the two had no bearing on one another.

These numbers support that:

The statistics separately list the number of offences perpetrated by non-German nationals. Here the number of incidents perpetrated by migrants also dropped significantly — by 23 percent from around 950,000 to just over 700,000. However, Seehofer pointed out that this sharp drop was mostly due to fewer instances of illegal migrants arriving and settling in Germany.

Politically motivated crimes fell for the first time in four years and made up just 0.7 percent of all reported criminal incidents.

Attacks on asylum and refugee shelters dropped significantly by 69 percent to just over 300 reported incidents. The number of attacks on immigrants returned to the level recorded before the 2015 migrant crisis and the influx of some 1 million refugees into Germany.

Anti-Semitic attacks are increasing, mainly due to right wing extremists.

Worryingly, however, there was a notable 2.5 percent increase in the number of anti-Semitic attacks, taking the total number in 2017 to 1,504 cases. Seehofer acknowledged a rise in so-called “imported anti-Semitic crimes,” referring to attacks on Jews perpetrated by Muslim migrants.

However, the minister stressed that the vast majority of such incidents, some 94 percent, were perpetrated by right-wing extremists.

More: Germany: Crime rate drops, but fear rises

Proud grandchildren of Dutch immigrants

New Zealand has been a pot pourri of cultures after waves of immigrants have come here over the last two hundred years, mainly from Europe, the Pacific Islands and more recently in numbers, from all over Asia, most notably from India and China.

Dunedin was founded by Scottish people who were concerned that the country would be dominated by the English. That is part of the city’s heritage, and bag pipes and haggis still feature in ceremonies.

But the Chinese New Year is also celebrated, and there are a variety of cultures represented in other events.

The last mayor of Dunedin was born here but had distant Chinese heritage, and the mayor before that was born in India.

One culture that is barely noticed these days is that of the Dutch, but when I was young that was more evident. We had Dutch visitors (I don’t know what connection they had with our family), and in the seventies I worked with the son of Dutch immigrants. Another generation or two on it’s barely noticeable, but there will have been a definite impact in New Zealand from Dutch culture.

Martin van Beyen writes Dutch immigrants of the 50s fading away

I bought a new suit the other day. The suit got its first outing this week at my Uncle Theo’s funeral. He died, aged 90, surrounded by his family last Friday.

Uncle Theo came to New Zealand in 1953 and was followed three months later by his bride-to-be, Afra. His sister (my mother, who is still alive) arrived two years later with my father, who died about 10 years ago.

A pastry cook by trade, Uncle Theo went on to own a number of bakeries in Christchurch including a wholesale pie business.

Some would say Uncle Theo (we called him Ome Dick) was a typical Dutchman. He was hardworking, routine-driven, stubborn, socially conservative, a natural contrarian and knew the value of a dollar. He would have seen my new suit as a waste of money.

He was also one of the last of his generation of about 11,000 Dutch immigrants who came to New Zealand between 1951 and 1954. Well over 100,000 New Zealanders now have some Dutch heritage.

A small but significant minority, possible accentuated by the short surge in Dutch immigration.

I wonder how we will regard the legacy of that wave of Dutch immigrants who came to New Zealand in the 50s and who are now fading away. Mostly blue collar workers and tradespeople (my dad was a mechanic), they made a major economic contribution, already often acknowledged, and brought a not always welcome brand of Europeanism to the racing, rugby, beer-orientated New Zealand society. Although their skin was the right colour, locals often found their accent strange, their manner brusque and their thrift ungracious.

Although some immigrants tried to preserve their Dutchness, most knuckled down and assimilated aggressively.

Perhaps they took to heart the attitude of senior immigration official Dr Reuel Lochore: “We must make new Britishers: by procreation, and by assimilation; by making suitable aliens into vectors of the British way of life.”

But some things were hard to suppress. Uncle Theo worked as a storeman when he first arrived and was told off by his fellow workers for working too fast.

It was clear the Dutch work ethic came as a shock to the strongly unionised New Zealand workforce where British work to rule was more the custom. Maybe some of that Dutch work ethic did rub off and it was certainly instilled in their next generation. Well, mostly.

I learnt a strong work ethic when I grew up, but it was in a rural area with no sign of union locally.

However in Central Otago the work ethic wasn’t universal, as there were frequent references to the shovel sucklers of the ‘sunshine gangs’, Ministry of Works workers were not known fore their industriousness.

Making fun of them probably reinforced the work ethic I learned.

As I was growing up I didn’t get the impression being Dutch was highly regarded and at high school it was definitely nothing you would want to advertise.

After Uncle Theo’s funeral I was sitting with some of his grandsons having a beer and asked them what they thought about their Dutch heritage.

They seemed proud of it, to the extent they emphasised their Dutchness over the other backgrounds flowing through their veins. A very different attitude to my generation and one that Uncle Theo and Aunt Afra can take a lot of credit for.

You can talk a lot about material contributions but you know the Dutch have truly arrived when the legacy of people like Uncle Theo lives on in the pride his grandchildren have in their heritage.

In contrast, I have English heritage. One grandmother was a Great War bride (from Chelsea) who married my grandfather, son of an immigrant from Liverpool and a grandson of a family who arrived (ex rural Bedfordshire) as part of the  Canterbury settlement in 1852.

I have a bit of historical interest but little empathy for my English heritage. I don’t back any English sports team, and feel nothing for the English royal family – to me they are foreign not just in country but also in what they stand for.

On my other side my mother was born a couple of years after her parents and five siblings immigrated from northern Wales (from near Caernarvon). As far as I saw they almost entirely they left their culture behind,

My teidiau (I just looked that up online and don’t know if it’s correct) died before I was born, but I’ve been told he learnt to speak English when serving in World War 1. Twice, both times reluctantly on request, my nana (that’s what we called her) said just one Welsh word – Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.

That is the only reference to my Welsh heritage I can remember apart from my mother recalling being taunted with ‘Taffy was a Welshman’ as a child.

This may not have been just a family thing, I have seen little sign of Welsh culture in New Zealand. I think the Welsh wanted to distance themselves from being seen as second class to the English.

Perhaps as a result I don’t feel subservient, nor superior. I am a product of the Kiwi melting pot – much like those with Dutch ancestry. I’m a proud Kiwi – and part of that pride is due to a general acceptance of a range of co-existing and overlapping cultures in Aotearoa.

I’m interested in other cultures – it makes a welcome change for the narrow mono-culture I grew up in.

Refugees detained after Trump ‘executive order’

There has been immediate collateral damage after US immigration has acted on an executive order signed by President Trump putting an immediate stop to refugees from seven Muslim countries. Some refugees in transit when the order was signed have been detained at US airports.

And a department of Homeland spokeswoman has advised that the ban on entry also applies to green card holders (legal permanent US residents) trying to enter the US.

BBC: Trump executive order: Refugees detained at US airports

Entry to the US for nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries has been stopped for 90 days by Donald Trump.

The exact implications of his order remain unclear. The US State Department has told the BBC it is working on the immediate implementation of the ban.

People fleeing Syria are banned until further notice.

The other countries affected are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

The two Iraqi refugees detained in New York, one of whom had worked as a US Army interpreter, were in transit when the executive order was signed on Friday.

The National Immigration Law Centre (NILC) told the BBC that it was suing President Trump and the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

It described the two Iraqis as “courageous Haneed Khalid Darweesh, who interpreted for US army & Haider Sameer Alshawi also targeted for aiding US military”.

That appears to mean that people with permanent resident status who were out of the country when the order was signed may not be allowed into the US.

The executive order includes the following measures:

  • The suspension of the entire US refugee admissions programme for 120 days
  • A ban on all refugees from Syria until “significant changes” are made
  • A 90-day suspension on anyone arriving from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen, except certain visa categories such as diplomats
  • Priority for future refugee applications from those persecuted for their religion – but only if the person is part of a minority religion in their home country
  • A cap of 50,000 refugees in 2017 – less than half of the upper limit under Barack Obama

Mr Trump signed the order on Friday, which was International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The president’s statement to mark that occasion, on the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, made no mention of Jews or anti-Semitism.

This just popped up on my Twitter feed:

At least 4 grandparents

There’s been a lot of bizarre things about the US election, and there was one very odd tweet today.

If only people with at least 4 grandparents born in America were voting, Trump would win in a 50-state landslide.

At least 4 grandparents? How many can you have?

Trump wouldn’t be able to vote for himself, his mother was an immigrant from Scotland, so at least two of his grandparents were not born in the US. And his father’s parents came from Germany, so that’s another two not born in the US.

Trump’s children wouldn’t be able to vote for him.

Wikipedia on Coulter “All eight of her paternal great-great-grandparents were immigrants”. That can’t be right, you usually have up to eight. But whatever, there won’t be many Americans who don’t have immigrants in their family.

Only one of my grandparents was born in New Zealand. In a decent democracy that shouldn’t exclude me from voting here.

Another weird story (that has been mentioned here):

Top prize for their weirdest story of the campaign? That would probably have to be last week’s conspiracy theory about a Satanic child trafficking cabal linked to HRC’s chief of staff John Podesta, and allegedly operating out of the Comet Ping Pong Pizza Parlour in Washington DC.

 The story is here.

And if you’re up for some deep diving in the wingnut mindset, you could also check out the Twitter account of Pizza Party Ben (the chief theorist behind the pizza–is-code-for-child-trafficking story) right here. PPB’s pizza evidence cache can be found here.

Refugees for Dunedin

Dunedin has been chosen as another refugee settlement destination to cater for the influx  from Syria.

Dunedin chosen as new refugee settlement location

Dunedin has been selected as a new refugee settlement location following a whole of Government assessment.

The assessment included looking at employment, housing and Government services available alongside the support provided by the local community.

The decision to choose Dunedin was made by the New Zealand Refugee Resettlement Strategy Senior Officials’ Group – made up of representatives from Immigration New Zealand (INZ), Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Social Development, Office of Ethnic Communities and Department of Internal Affairs.

There are currently five settlement locations in New Zealand where quota refugees are settled after they have completed the six week reception programme at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre – Auckland region, Waikato, Manawatu, Wellington region and Nelson.

INZ General Manager Steve McGill says an extra settlement location is needed following the Government’s decision to welcome 750 Syrian refugees over the next two and a half years in response to the ongoing conflict in Syria.

Dunedin was considered alongside New Plymouth, Hastings / Napier, Invercargill and Tauranga.

Mr McGill says all the locations had certain advantages but Dunedin was selected for a number of reasons.

“Dunedin has a strong set of services and is a well-connected city where a number of government agencies have a presence,” he says. “There are good employment opportunities in the area, suitable housing is available and there is excellent support from the community.”

The university will be a benefit to some of the refugees – and the university coud benefit from some of the refugees as well.

I think this is a good thing for Dunedin. We could do with a little bit of positive news that involves mainating a population here.

An I have no worries at all about any security issues. They will only be a small number in comparison to the annual influx of students from around the world.