Germany halts treason charges against journalists – for the present


Andre Meister and Markus Beckedahl

A treason investigation into two journalists who reported that the German state planned to increase online surveillance has been suspended by the country’s prosecutor general following protests by leading voices across politics and media.

Harald Range, Germany’s prosecutor general, said on Friday he was halting the investigation “for the good of press and media freedom”. It was the first time in more than half a century that journalists in Germany had faced charges of treason.

Speaking to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Range said he would await the results of an internal investigation into whether the journalists from the news platform netzpolitik.org had quoted from a classified intelligence report before deciding how to proceed.

His announcement followed a deluge of criticism and accusations that Germany’s prosecutor had “misplaced priorities”, having failed to investigate with any conviction the NSA spying scandal revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden, and targeting instead the two investigative journalists, Markus Beckedahl and Andre Meister.

In a scathing attack, the leading Green MP Renate Künast, who is also chair of the Bundestag’s legal affairs committee, called the investigation a “humiliation to the rule of law”. She accused Range of disproportionately targeting the two journalists, whilse ignoring the “massive spying and eavesdropping [conducted] by the NSA in Germany”.

Künast told the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger: “Nothing happened with that. If it wasn’t for investigative journalism, we would know nothing.”…

In articles that appeared on netzpolitik.org in February and April, the two reporters made reference to what is believed to be a genuine intelligence report that had been classified as confidential, which proposed establishing a new intelligence department to monitor the internet, in particular social media networks.

The federal prosecutor’s investigation was triggered by a complaint made by Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) over the articles, which it said had been based on leaked documents…

In an act of solidarity, the research website Correctiv reported itself to the general prosecutor’s office on Friday, saying that it too was “guilty of treason”, at the same time as republishing the controversial documents originally published by netzpolitik.org.

“They should be investigating the whole lot of us!” said Correctiv’s editor-in-chief, Markus Grill. Meanwhile, German lawyers called for the abolition of the offence “journalistic treason”.

The uproar against NSA-style security measures seems to have had the desired effect for now. German justice minister, Heiko Maas, is requesting the dismissal and retirement of the chief federal prosecutor, Harald Range, who initiated the charges against the journalists.

Of course, I wouldn’t expect the same to happen here in the GOUSA. And it hasn’t. Much of our Free Press is owned by entertainment media corporations. They aren’t about the rock the boat. The Democratic Party couldn’t turn out a united demonstration for Free Speech if it threatened the military-industrial complex. Republicans would start wearing armbands if requested. And American Greens don’t seem able to generate a grassroots movement with the energy and smarts to grow into a national party.

Yup. Still a cynic. Mail me a penny postcard when Obama invites Ed Snowden to return home.

Are your kids picky eaters? Could be worse. It may be worse.

Children who were classified as “selective eaters” had a higher risk of social anxiety or depression, according to the results of a small population-based study of North Carolina preschoolers.

Nancy Zucker, PhD, of Duke University, and colleagues found that children with severe selective eating (SE) were more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with social anxiety…or depression…and experience high levels of depression, social anxiety and generalized anxiety symptoms compared to children without SE.

However, while children with moderate SE experienced high levels of symptoms, moderate SE was not associated with increased likelihood of psychiatric diagnoses, they wrote in Pediatrics.

Even after controlling for baseline psychiatric symptoms, these associations predicted changes in anxiety symptoms. Children with both severe and moderate SE had an almost twofold risk of generalized anxiety disorder…or symptoms of general anxiety…

These issues did not remain confined to their home life, as children with severe SE were twice as likely to have behavior problems outside the home…

Co-author William Copeland, PhD, also of Duke University, told MedPage Today that while “picky eating” is a relatively common parental concern, it also means that clinicians need to gather more information about the child’s emotional functioning and it is something to keep an eye out for during subsequent visits.

He added that if a child has SE, he would be the most comfortable making a referral to a behavior modification specialist for the child and the parent in order to determine the best course of treatment.

“When you’re working with children this young, it’s not about applying some treatment to the child – it’s about learning parent response to the child and what they can do that might be helpful in resolving this situation,” said Copeland. “It’s more sort of a dynamic intervention and that may require more time than the pediatrician has.”

Griggs said that a family-based approach was essential to reducing selective eating and that clinicians should continue to provide support and structured guidance to reduce family conflicts around food.

Oh, boy. I have to wonder if we’re witnessing some overdiagnosing? Especially if there are missing economic factors. I didn’t see any reference in the whole article.

Of course, reflecting on changing times, what’s available even in the most mediocre neighborhood supermarket is so much more varied and affordable than when I was a kid – maybe my question isn’t as acute as it used to be.

Since 9/11, racists and rightwing nutballs kill more Americans than do jihadists

In the 14 years since Al Qaeda carried out attacks on New York and the Pentagon, extremists have regularly executed smaller lethal assaults in the United States, explaining their motives in online manifestoes or social media rants.

But the breakdown of extremist ideologies behind those attacks may come as a surprise. Since Sept. 11, 2001, nearly twice as many people have been killed by white supremacists, antigovernment fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims: 48 have been killed by extremists who are not Muslim, including the recent mass killing in Charleston, S.C., compared with 26 by self-proclaimed jihadists…

The slaying of nine African-Americans in a Charleston church last week, with an avowed white supremacist charged with their murders, was a particularly savage case.

But it is only the latest in a string of lethal attacks by people espousing racial hatred, hostility to government and theories such as those of the “sovereign citizen” movement, which denies the legitimacy of most statutory law. The assaults have taken the lives of police officers, members of racial or religious minorities and random civilians…

If such numbers are new to the public, they are familiar to police officers. A survey to be published this week asked 382 police and sheriff’s departments nationwide to rank the three biggest threats from violent extremism in their jurisdiction. About 74 percent listed antigovernment violence, while 39 percent listed “Al Qaeda-inspired” violence, according to the researchers, Charles Kurzman of the University of North Carolina and David Schanzer of Duke University…

“Law enforcement agencies around the country have told us the threat from Muslim extremists is not as great as the threat from right-wing extremists,” said Dr. Kurzman…

…What about mass killings in which no ideological motive is evident, such as those at a Colorado movie theater and a Connecticut elementary school in 2012? The criteria used by New America and most other research groups exclude such attacks, which have cost more lives than those clearly tied to ideology…

Some Muslim advocates complain that when the perpetrator of an attack is not Muslim, news media commentators quickly focus on the question of mental illness. “With non-Muslims, the media bends over backward to identify some psychological traits that may have pushed them over the edge,” said Abdul Cader Asmal, a retired physician and a longtime spokesman for Muslims in Boston. “Whereas if it’s a Muslim, the assumption is that they must have done it because of their religion.”

On several occasions since President Obama took office, efforts by government agencies to conduct research on right-wing extremism have run into resistance from Republicans, who suspected an attempt to smear conservatives…

The contentious question of biased perceptions of terrorist threats dates back at least two decades, to the truck bombing that tore apart the federal building in Oklahoma City in April 1995. Some early news media speculation about the attack assumed that it had been carried out by Muslim militants. The arrest of Timothy J. McVeigh, an antigovernment extremist, quickly put an end to such theories.

The bombing, which killed 168 people, including 19 children, remains the second-deadliest terrorist attack in American history, though its toll was dwarfed by the roughly 3,000 killed on Sept 11.

An American tradition. If you’re white, you’re right. Attackers must either be foreigners or mentally “different”.

Couldn’t be your cranky uncle who whines about too much government – every waking hour. Eh?

Average US vehicle age continues to rise — up to 11½ years

Ruff Boy with a spool of kindling
21 tears old and counting

The combined average age of all light vehicles on the road in the U.S. has climbed slightly to 11.5 years, based on a snapshot of vehicles in operation taken Jan. 1 of this year, according to IHS Automotive, a global provider of critical information and insight to the automotive industry…

Registrations for light VIO in the U.S. also reached a record level of 257,900,000. That’s an increase of more than 5.3 million (2.1 percent) since last year and the highest annual increase the auto industry has seen in the U.S. since IHS began tracking VIO growth. New vehicle registrations also outpaced scrappage by more than 42 percent – the highest rate seen since the statistic has been tracked, according to the analysis…

Helping age the fleet is the fact that consumers are holding on to their vehicles longer than ever before.

Looking ahead, IHS forecasts that average age is likely to hit 11.6 years in 2016 but not reach 11.7 until 2018. The rate of growth is slowing as compared to 2008-2013 due to the recovery in new vehicle sales. IHS Automotive has expected this and has been preparing customers and industry leaders in the aftermarket to respond to this slowdown in growth…

Because of improved quality and consumers holding their cars and light trucks longer, vehicles 12-plus years old continue to grow and will increase 15 percent by 2020.

And that – after all – is the point. The critters are built better and last longer. Recalls aside. Between lawyers, insurance companies and politicians running for re-election, recalls are way up. Some of that is from increased complexity. Some from special areas of lousy QC – like airbags.

But, most families are probably like mine. My wife got her first shiny new car ever a year-and-a-half ago. Part of preparation for early retirement. She only drives about 2000 miles per year since retiring.

My 21-year-old pickup had over 200K miles on it when I retired but [1] it didn’t seem likely to self-destruct from wear – now driving about 800 miles per year and [2] only driving about 800 miles per year, it didn’t make sense to buy a new or newish used truck. Ruff Boy, keep on rolling!