Europe's refugee crisis: "This could change everything".

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Europe's refugee crisis: "This could change everything".

Postby Storyteller » Fri Sep 04, 2015 1:22 pm

So I talked to my mom today and she voiced some serious fears for the future of Germany.

My mom lives in a small German town and works in a kind of charity shop which receives soon-to-expire food and distribute it to people on welfare, mostly immigrants. It's the second week that new Syrian and Afghan refugees have been showing up at her shop. They're part of the 800 000 refugees - the equivalent of 1% of Germany's total population - which Germany committed to absorbing this year. And my mom is terrified. "This could change everything", she said.

The refugees, she says, are mostly young people and families with children. Their women often can't read and write; the woman with four children at her shop today couldn't sign her name on a document. They're culturally different in ways that Germans are not accustomed to - one woman was breastfeeding right in the shop (which apparently Germans find unacceptable, another was grabbing with her hands at the food as she was choosing, even after having been repeatedly asked to not do that. The small town is expected to absorb 400+ refugees this year, and many people worry that there will be a huge negative impact on the quality of life.

The consequences for an average German are not hard to predict. Greater strain on public healthcare, social security, education system, higher crime, more social tensions. People are not happy to say the least, and no amount of humanitarian rhetorics is going to remedy that. Worse yet, if Germany absorbs 1% of its population per year for another few years, then we're essentially talking about population replacement. Not absorbtion of an immigrant group but a complete demographic overhaul of a country in a single generation. People find it distressing.

My mom says that many of the people she talks to - native Germans and immigrants alike - don't want these refugees there one bit. They want them sent home, or put on ships and sent to America which they say started all the trouble. Most agree that it does not bode well for Europe in general and for Germany as the refugees' most desired destination in particular.
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Europe's refugee crisis: "This could change everything".

Postby Jnyusa » Fri Sep 04, 2015 9:05 pm

The problem is not new to Germany. The drowning of tidy German culture by Turkish and Balkan gästarbeitern was the hysterical topic in the news when we lived there in 1981, and that continued to be a topic of discussion among our German friends for two decades afterwards. Now it's a refugee problem ... but the children born in the new country (or who are raised there from a very young age) do assimilate. America knows what it's like to be 'the most desirable destination' and our immigration rates are still awfully high, including the illegal economic refugees. But ... we absorb them, with their vendettas and drug wars and revolutions in the home country and weird food and all.

Funny, I was thinking about this topic earlier in the week. About 40% of my students are from other countries, and probably a third to a half of them will stay here after graduation ... they all want to stay but the competition for jobs that will win them a green card is INTENSE. They are all totally valuable citizens and I wouldn't mind a bit of population replacement if they are the replacements.

But that's not what I was thinking about, actually. What I was thinking about was the fact that you don't see hordes of European or American natives emigrating to Afghanstan or Iraq or Syria. The migration phenomenon is not neutral; it is all in one direction. We tend to gloss over the significance of that in the West, I think. When people vote with their feet they do vote the "best" population to live in, the superior culture if you will, in terms of wealth and freedom and opportunity and security and fairness. And I think that makes our demand for assimilation a legitimate demand.

We are enriched by the diversity that our immigrants bring, and this is something I value very much, so I'm not talking about expunging the foreign cultures that arrive in their suitcases, but there are core values about which there needs to be consensus and I'm not queasy about insisting that immigrants adopt those values as their own ... in the US right now, for example, separation of church and state being one of those ideals that it is important to defend, imo.
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Re: Europe's refugee crisis: "This could change everything".

Postby Storyteller » Fri Sep 04, 2015 11:43 pm

Jnyusa wrote:The problem is not new to Germany. The drowning of tidy German culture by Turkish and Balkan gästarbeitern was the hysterical topic in the news when we lived there in 1981, and that continued to be a topic of discussion among our German friends for two decades afterwards. Now it's a refugee problem ... but the children born in the new country (or who are raised there from a very young age) do assimilate. America knows what it's like to be 'the most desirable destination' and our immigration rates are still awfully high, including the illegal economic refugees. But ... we absorb them, with their vendettas and drug wars and revolutions in the home country and weird food and all.

Oh, it's different, alright. These people aren't coming in as foreign workers, they're an uncontrollable flood that is essentially demolishing the EU as an institution.

EU immigration controls are in complete collapse. The refugees reach Greece in alarming numbers. The tiny Greek island of Kos gets approximately 500 to 1000 new refugees a night; there's currently some 30 000 refugees on the island with total native population of 33 000. Local authorities have nowhere to house them, no resources to feed them and - most importantly - no means of containing them to isolate them from the tourists. Kos lives off of summer tourism, and this season is essentially ruined. They have one more month to make money off of which they'll live the rest of the year, and that money isn't coming anymore.

Same thing is going on in the rest of Greece, so they bus the refugees onwards to Macedonian border where Macedonia has two choices. Attempting to enforce the EU immigration laws gets them violent confrontations with hundreds of thousands of refugees and a nasty reputation in the media. The refugees don't want to stay in Greece, Macedonia or Hungary, they want to go onwards to Germany. Letting them through is the easy choice, but it means that EU laws essentially cease to apply. If it goes on, the Schengen agreement won't hold. Everything comes at a price.

But that's not what I was thinking about, actually. What I was thinking about was the fact that you don't see hordes of European or American natives emigrating to Afghanstan or Iraq or Syria. The migration phenomenon is not neutral; it is all in one direction. We tend to gloss over the significance of that in the West, I think. When people vote with their feet they do vote the "best" population to live in, the superior culture if you will, in terms of wealth and freedom and opportunity and security and fairness. And I think that makes our demand for assimilation a legitimate demand.

"Superior culture in terms of wealth" is a fascinating absurdity.

It's got nothing to do with culture. Nothing whatsoever. It's got everything to do with wealth. The refugees don't choose by culture, they choose the country where social services are reported to be more generous. That's why they march through culture-rich Greece to Germany and that's why in Germany, they will concentrate in the West and not the East.
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Europe's refugee crisis: "This could change everything".

Postby Jnyusa » Sat Sep 05, 2015 5:41 am

Well ... also ... they choose the country they can get to. And get into. And also the country that will not inflict upon them more of the things that created their refugee status to begin with. Else why not Saudi Arabia?

Don't you think that the ideal of wealth accumulation is a cultural ideal? I submit that I do think so.
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Re: Europe's refugee crisis: "This could change everything".

Postby Storyteller » Sat Sep 05, 2015 8:59 am

Jnyusa wrote:Well ... also ... they choose the country they can get to. And get into. And also the country that will not inflict upon them more of the things that created their refugee status to begin with. Else why not Saudi Arabia?

Because Saudi Arabia does not accept refugees, while Europe does. And because Saudi Arabia is pretty harsh on non-citizens. Ease of access and how much the welfare pays.

But it's ridiculous to try to paint it as some sort of ideological migration to a culturally superior or more moral society. That's just outright deception.

Don't you think that the ideal of wealth accumulation is a cultural ideal? I submit that I do think so.

In a word, no. Although I am open to being corrected if you name me a country where getting rich is not a common desire.

One thing that Germans have found deeply disturbing is reports about huge brawls between Syrian, Pakistani, Afghan etc. refugees in camps. If the refugees can't get along with each other, people wonder how they are going to get along with the locals.
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Europe's refugee crisis: "This could change everything".

Postby portia » Sat Sep 05, 2015 9:21 am

This has a very strong "deja vue" element from the worker's migration in the 80s. In those days, all the workers' could do was the unskilled, or maybe semi skilled work and the local workers who had been depending on such work were SOL. Now, I am sure that many--probably most-- of these new workers will be the same, after a short period of settling.
I suppose I sympathize with the Germans who feel overwhelmed, but the world is getting smaller in many ways; not just ways that leave the local population undisturbed.

It will be an effort to re-enforce the core values of the Society. ("You came here to get away from you own country; do not try to bring the values from there, here. We have our own")

Our past experience with these waves of immigration tells us that most of the 1st generation will be mostly assimilated. the job will be complete in the 2d or 3d generation.
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Re: Europe's refugee crisis: "This could change everything".

Postby RoseMorninStar » Sat Sep 05, 2015 10:57 am

Storyteller wrote:My mom says that many of the people she talks to - native Germans and immigrants alike - don't want these refugees there one bit. They want them sent home, or put on ships and sent to America which they say started all the trouble. Most agree that it does not bode well for Europe in general and for Germany as the refugees' most desired destination in particular.


I agree with your mother, to some degree. Our hawkish policies in the Middle East have created some of this mess and that is why I have such a problem with our country/our military being the 'world police'. People may want a dangerous despot taken out or a difficult country 'dealt with', but there are always unforeseen consequences and complications which are equally difficult to deal with.


Jnyusa wrote: (...) in the US right now, for example, separation of church and state being one of those ideals that it is important to defend, imo.

Amen. I mean, 'so be it'. :D
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Re: Europe's refugee crisis: "This could change everything".

Postby Jnyusa » Sat Sep 05, 2015 11:03 am

Storyteller wrote:Because Saudi Arabia does not accept refugees, while Europe does.


Isn't that exactly what I said? If it were only money they would go to Saudi ... and it's also culturally more comfortable for them to go to a Moslem country. But maybe it's not personally more comfortable for them to go to a fundamantalist Moslem county, and there are some wealthy countries that won't let them in.

... how much the welfare pays.


Yes, that explains all the Jews in Israel. And in America.

But it's ridiculous to try to paint it as some sort of ideological migration to a culturally superior or more moral society.


Try not to erect the cheapest strawman, please. My time is worth as much as yours, and probably more. Very few groups have ever emigrated strictly on these terms ... so few we can almost count them on our hands. We can practically name them as individuals. Groups of People undergo the stress of migration to escape something, usually. But then where they chose to go says something deeper about what they are trying to escape.

If you live in Syria, there are lots of countries that are closer than Germany. I don't know the details of this migration in terms of how many people each EU country agreed to take in and how much financial responsibility is being underwritten by the UN, but it's pretty obvious that no one in Syria, having watched the 70-decade plight of the Palestinians on the West Bank and in Lebanon (formerly in Jordan) and scattered elsewhere in the Moslem world, is going to walk into that same situation if they can avoid it. There a difference between "they only want money" and "they don't want to be starved, enslaved, shot dead or stoned." They want to live as ordinary human beings, most of them, and amazing as it is in the 21st century, there are still precious few places where you can do that if you arrive with everything you own strapped to your back.

In a word, no. Although I am open to being corrected if you name me a country where getting rich is not a common desire.

Social wealth accumulation is not the same thing as 'getting rich.' I will explain the difference but can't do it right now.

Portia wrote:It will be an effort to re-enforce the core values of the Society. ("You came here to get away from you own country; do not try to bring the values from there, here. We have our own")

Yes, that's what I was trying to say. Plus, it is an effort that we have a right to make.
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Re: Europe's refugee crisis: "This could change everything".

Postby Storyteller » Sat Sep 05, 2015 11:52 am

Jnyusa wrote:
Storyteller wrote:Because Saudi Arabia does not accept refugees, while Europe does.


Isn't that exactly what I said? If it were only money they would go to Saudi ... and it's also culturally more comfortable for them to go to a Moslem country. But maybe it's not personally more comfortable for them to go to a fundamantalist Moslem county, and there are some wealthy countries that won't let them in.

If a fundamentalist Muslim country accepted refugees and had generous welfare for them, they'd go. As things stand, Germany has been the country into which fundamentalist Turkish Muslims emigrated so that they could make their women wear veils, which were illegal in Turkey for a while.

... how much the welfare pays.


Yes, that explains all the Jews in Israel. And in America.

America mostly yes, Israel mostly no. Tempted as you are to conflate, the Jews who had the choice to emigrate to America yet moved to Israel, made an ideological or cultural choice in full knowledge that it would economically disadvantage them, while those who chose the other way round - and those who emigrated to Israel in order to enable themselves further emigration to USA, Canada or Western Europe - made an economic choice. The Syrian refugees are not making an ideological or cultural choice by preferring Germany over Hungary, they're going after the best economic conditions.

Try not to erect the cheapest strawman, please. My time is worth as much as yours, and probably more. Very few groups have ever emigrated strictly on these terms ... so few we can almost count them on our hands. We can practically name them as individuals. Groups of People undergo the stress of migration to escape something, usually. But then where they chose to go says something deeper about what they are trying to escape.

Or about the range of choices they have at the moment of escaping.

If you live in Syria, there are lots of countries that are closer than Germany. I don't know the details of this migration in terms of how many people each EU country agreed to take in and how much financial responsibility is being underwritten by the UN, but it's pretty obvious that no one in Syria, having watched the 70-decade plight of the Palestinians on the West Bank and in Lebanon (formerly in Jordan) and scattered elsewhere in the Moslem world, is going to walk into that same situation if they can avoid it. There a difference between "they only want money" and "they don't want to be starved, enslaved, shot dead or stoned." They want to live as ordinary human beings, most of them, and amazing as it is in the 21st century, there are still precious few places where you can do that if you arrive with everything you own strapped to your back.

If all they wanted was to not be starved, enslaved, shot or stoned, Greece or Hungary or any place within the EU borders would do fine. The thousands of people who rioted at the shutdown of Budapest train station waving tickets to Germany and Austria did not want just food, shelter and safety, they wanted the richest EU country they could get.
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Europe's refugee crisis: "This could change everything".

Postby portia » Sat Sep 05, 2015 2:43 pm

So. . . what?

Why not make the richest available country your goal? Makes sense to me.

Story. . . . your perspective, and your mother's are very different from mine. I am from Southern California, and my neighbors growing up were a large Mexican family. More of them were born in Mexico than in the US. One Uncle celebrated an advanced birthday and was proud of the the fact that he had fought with Pancho Villa--against the US. yet the family was a perfectly upstanding one. One cousin was County Clerk for San Diego for years, another was a Judge. Our neighbor was a successful cement contractor and put in the foundations for many houses. They have all assimilated nicely. I speak better Spanish than they do. This "invasion"is not overwhelming. They will assimilate, or--when they can--leave. They will add a lot of interesting aspects to Germany. And that may not be amiss.
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Re: Europe's refugee crisis: "This could change everything".

Postby Jnyusa » Sat Sep 05, 2015 8:10 pm

Social Wealth Accumulation: I think of this as being embodied in several core ideas/pursuits:

-- financial success in the present life is a positive ideal and not something to be ashamed of, nor is poverty an ideal that will be rewarded in the next life. This distinguishes Protestants and Jews from Catholics and Moslems, on the whole (among monotheisms), hence "the Protestant Ethic." Among the Asian philosophies, Confucianism seems to come closest to the Protestant Ethic.
-- infrastructure that serves economic sustainability is an obligation of the society. This distinguishes largely cultures that evolved in temperate zones from cultures that evolved in tropical zones because of planning for winter. (Economists in general under-appreciate the importance of winter to the form taken by an economy.)
-- sustainability requires assiduous savings. Rule of thumb: rate of savings and net investment should equal the rate of population growth. (Panning for more than one winter.) This can be shown mathematically to maximize consumable income across all time periods, and of course it is tougher to achieve for cultures that value high birth rates unless there is a correspondingly high infant mortality rate.

Cultures that have made wealth accumulation one of their cultural ideals tend to be "superior" in the standard of living they provide. That's all. There is not necessarily any moral superiority associated with this (or artistic superiority, say, or mythic superiority), but for people struggling for survival it will definitely look like a better way of life. And it is diametrically opposed to the idea of getting rich now as fast as you can, which pretty much always involves liquidation of wealth rather than creation of wealth.

I don't think Western Civ can take terribly much credit for our intrinsically higher standard of living, as I believe that much of it comes down to habits of thought imposed on us by winter. But very diverse cultures have come up with wonderful infrastructural solutions to environmental disadvantages, and some countries (like Russian) know all about winter but cannot seem to achieve the comfort that the West has achieved. So there is some element of imagination and inclination involved as well. And luck.
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Re: Europe's refugee crisis: "This could change everything".

Postby Storyteller » Wed Sep 09, 2015 10:06 pm

portia wrote:So. . . what?

Why not make the richest available country your goal? Makes sense to me.

It does, if one migrates for economic reasons. Jnyusa appeared to claim otherwise.

Story. . . . your perspective, and your mother's are very different from mine. I am from Southern California, and my neighbors growing up were a large Mexican family. More of them were born in Mexico than in the US. One Uncle celebrated an advanced birthday and was proud of the the fact that he had fought with Pancho Villa--against the US. yet the family was a perfectly upstanding one. One cousin was County Clerk for San Diego for years, another was a Judge. Our neighbor was a successful cement contractor and put in the foundations for many houses. They have all assimilated nicely. I speak better Spanish than they do. This "invasion"is not overwhelming. They will assimilate, or--when they can--leave. They will add a lot of interesting aspects to Germany. And that may not be amiss.

Some of my friends speak better Hebrew than Russian, too. And some don't. That's how it goes with anecdotes from personal familiarity.

Assimilation happens when immigrants are a negligible minority among the total population- the sheer pressure of surrounding culture powers the melting pot. As that pressure declines, the melting pot begins to glitch. Legal AND illegal Mexican immigrants to the USA currently number something like 11 million, which is 3% of total population, so it still works. In France, census by ethnicity is prohibited but the available polls indicate that the share of only the Maghrebi immigrants - North African Muslim Arabs - is between 6% and 9% of total population, reaching up to 20% in some districts. 40% of all French newborns have one or more foreign-born parents. The native French are no longer assimilating immigrants, they're being assimilated INTO the immigrants. Why should a new immigrant in France adopt the French culture in such conditions? Nothing compels them and there is no benefit to be derived from it.
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Europe's refugee crisis: "This could change everything".

Postby portia » Thu Sep 10, 2015 7:57 am

Do not know where your figures come from but the % of Mexican and Latin American immigrints is well above 3%.

Assimilation is progressing nicely. Of course some people and older people have trouble, but assimilation is OK. Many are like my neighbors, who do not speak Spanish. And how do you count a Mexican American who works in a Sushi restaurant?
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Re: Europe's refugee crisis: "This could change everything".

Postby Storyteller » Fri Sep 11, 2015 9:35 am

portia wrote:Do not know where your figures come from but the % of Mexican and Latin American immigrints is well above 3%.

Figures are all over the place. WIkipedia with its footnotes is a wealth of information.

There's about 11.6 million Mexican-born immigrants in the USA, about half of them illegal. That makes about 3.6% of the country's 300 million population.

. And how do you count a Mexican American who works in a Sushi restaurant?

As a Mexican American working.
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Europe's refugee crisis: "This could change everything".

Postby RoseMorninStar » Fri Sep 11, 2015 11:10 am

According to U.S. Census Bureau population estimates as of July 1, 2013, there are roughly 54 million Hispanics living in the United States, representing approximately 17% of the U.S. total population, making people of Hispanic origin the nation's largest ethnic or race minority.


An estimated 55 Million as of June 2015

The 3.5% / 11.3 million figure refers to illegal immigrants (of all ethnicities) in the US according to Pew Research.
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Re: Europe's refugee crisis: "This could change everything".

Postby Storyteller » Sat Sep 12, 2015 12:04 am

RoseMorninStar wrote:
According to U.S. Census Bureau population estimates as of July 1, 2013, there are roughly 54 million Hispanics living in the United States, representing approximately 17% of the U.S. total population, making people of Hispanic origin the nation's largest ethnic or race minority.


An estimated 55 Million as of June 2015

The 3.5% / 11.3 million figure refers to illegal immigrants (of all ethnicities) in the US according to Pew Research.

1 - "Hispanics" does not necessarily refer to Mexican immigrants. Most of them are not, in fact, immigrants; people of Mexican descent have been living in the USA for centuries. Many aren't of Mexican origin, too.

2- There are 5.9 million illegal Mexican immigrants out of the total of 11.6 million.

Back to Europe, though.

Islamists in Germany trying to recruit young refugees.
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Europe's refugee crisis: "This could change everything".

Postby Storyteller » Sat Sep 12, 2015 1:12 am

The Breaking Point? Germany's Asylum System Struggles to Cope

The images were almost surreal. There were people who had just completed a brutally difficult journey, exhausted, but happy. And there was the crowd, lined up on both sides, cheering and clapping as though they themselves had made the trip.

Such scenes have played out across Germany in recent days, and they are more than a little reminiscent of the finish lines at marathons in Hamburg, Cologne, Berlin and elsewhere. The mood was almost festive, euphoric. One could almost forget that the refugees arriving at train stations around the country were not running against the clock. They were running for their lives. The expressions on some faces made it clear that they hadn't yet been able to completely grasp what was happening to them.
The scenes, which included dozens of people holding up signs reading "Refugees Welcome," were quite remarkable. The Germans -- not all, but enough that they are now seen as being "the Germans" everywhere else in the world -- were celebrating the Syrians, the Eritreans, the Iraqis and the Afghans who had made it to their country. And they were celebrating themselves.

It is as though the Germans are standing up and saying: "We are not who you have long thought we were." We are not closed hegemons. We are open-hearted. It was half-truth and half-staged, but it was appealing enough that one could bask in the feeling without pangs of guilt. Even Chancellor Angela Merkel, the perennial skeptic, was moved.

But what will happen if the influx of refugees doesn't abate? What will be left when the initial euphoria wears off and everyday life returns? How will Germans react when the celebratory images of this week are replaced with the reality of housing tens of thousands of newcomers?

The chancellor has made her decision: more help, which likely also means more refugees. Refugees Welcome. It is a position that will be difficult to back away from should the public mood shift, and it is a position she will be judged on in the next election in 2017.

She has already lost one close ally: Horst Seehofer, head of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party to Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU). Seehofer, who is also the governor of Bavaria, has invited Hungary's hardline nationalist prime minister, Viktor Orbán, to the next conference of his party's state parliament group. Seehofer says the invitation gives the CSU an opportunity to "find a solution together with (Orbán)," but it is also a clear affront to the chancellor. Seehofer says it was wrong for Merkel to circumvent existing EU asylum rules by encouraging refugees in Hungary to continue on to Germany. "That was a mistake that will be with us for a long time. I don't see a way to put the cork back in the bottle," Seehofer says. "We will soon find ourselves in an emergency situation that we will no longer be able to control."

'Uncoordinated Influx'

Meanwhile, Hannelore Kraft, the Social Democratic (SPD) governor of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's most populous state, made clear at the beginning of the week that the number of refugees to be expected this year will likely rise from the 800,000 the federal government forecast in August. She also made clear that the effort needed to deal with the influx will be much greater than previously thought.

Just how great that effort might be became clear on Thursday morning during a conference call of all state interior ministries in addition to the federal Interior Ministry in Berlin. As part of the meeting, states indicated how much shelter capacity they possessed, and the results, according to the phone conference's protocol, were not particularly promising. Seven states -- including Baden-Württemberg, Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate -- reported that they had no remaining capacity whatsoever. Bavaria complained of "uncontrolled access pathways." And Schleswig-Holstein lamented the "uncoordinated influx into the reception facilities." The Interior Ministry in Berlin also had an alarm bell to sound: Austria, through which refugees must travel on their way from Hungary to Germany, is beginning to diverge from the joint approach.

The conference call provides a small insight into the immense challenges facing Germany this year and in the years to come. Indeed, the effects are likely to remain with the country for decades to come -- and will have consequences for Germany's identity, its prosperity and for its self-image. Against that backdrop, the question arises: Can we handle the crisis? Or will the crisis handle us?

Either is possible. It could be that Germany, with its gleeful welcoming party, is currently sowing the seeds for problems that the country will face in 2040. It could be that the foreigners will remain foreign, that they will create a new, parallel underclass. Simultaneously, it could also be that Germany is currently solving those problems that would, without immigration, face the country in 2040: Labor market problems, pension fund problems and old-age care problems.

It will take many years before it becomes clear in which direction the pendulum is swinging. But if Germany wants the opportunities to win out over the dangers, then that state will have to confront the chaos and do all it can to integrate the newcomers, the majority of whom are likely to stay. And that project will have to begin soon, even if the state is currently having difficulties accelerating asylum procedures, providing therapy to traumatized children and training adults for the labor market.

'Grotesque'

Indeed, even the very first requirement -- that of finding shelter -- is proving a challenge. Many cities are running out of facilities that can be quickly transformed into asylum hostels. And shelters made of containers, an idea that many have sought to apply, are in short supply, as became clear during a refugee summit held by CDU lawmakers in Rhineland-Palatinate earlier this week. And if they can be bought, the prices are high and the waiting list is months long. By then, winter will long since have set in, rendering insufficient the tents where many refugees are currently being sheltered.

German bureaucracy and building ordinances, not surprisingly, are exacerbating the challenge. "At times, it is grotesque what is being blocked," complains Olaf Kühn, mayor of the small Hesse town of Seeheim-Jugenheim. He relates a case where the banister of a staircase was just a few centimeters too low. Another time, he says, steps were just a tiny bit higher than allowed. But the most common hurdle is fire protection regulations. That was even a problem for three apartments belonging to the protestant charity Diakonie in the town of Mühltal near Darmstadt. The apartments had earlier provided housing to the disabled, but fire protection rules are stricter for apartments housing refugees -- as Mühltal Mayor Astrid Mannes was shocked to learn.

Still, some things are likely to change. As part of the new "German flexibility" that Merkel recently called for, an "expediting law" will be on the agenda of the state-federal refugee summit planned for Sept. 24. Preparatory meetings have already established widespread agreement that more refugee hostels could be built in industrial areas and that noise and proximity regulations could be "modestly relaxed." Lawmakers also want to relax standards that apply to the conversion of former schools or hospitals.

It's not just municipal politicians who are waiting eagerly for such changes. States, which are responsible for reception facilities, are also facing extreme difficulties that could be slightly alleviated by even the smallest change made to the regulations. Recent weeks in Berlin, for example, have seen refugees being forced to sleep out in the open in front of the main reception center there.

The situation in Dortmund isn't quite that bad, but the path to a bed is long. First, those arriving by train are taken to a hall near the main train station, where aid workers are waiting with water and, should it be needed, clothing. But they are only allowed a few hours rest before being bused out to an emergency shelter somewhere else in the state, usually a tent, a gymnasium or an unused school.

A Free Bed

It used to be that refugees arriving at the train station were able to rest for five days at a reception center. But the closest such facility, in the Dortmund neighborhood of Hacheney, only has 350 beds. Today, that is barely enough to shelter pregnant women, families with small children and the sick. Everyone else, those who are assigned to emergency shelters strewn about the state, must be bused to Hacheney to register and then bused back. Not long later, they are relocated to a central shelter before, finally, being sent to one of the more permanent facilities located in a town, provided a free bed can be found.

"It's all worse than a conveyor belt," says Wahed Kabir, the deputy director of the facility in Hacheney. And already this year, that conveyor belt has come to a screeching halt nine times and asylum seekers who had arrived for registration found themselves standing in front of a locked door. The reason: With 1,000 people on the premises, the facility had reached capacity.

The situation may soon become even worse. Merkel's cabinet recently agreed on a procedure aimed at speeding up the repatriation of migrants from the Balkans, who have virtually no chance of being granted asylum status. Part of that plan foresees not distributing such migrants among smaller facilities in towns and villages. Bavaria has already opened a special hostel for such migrants. But other states are simply intending to keep them in normal, central reception facilities for longer. That, though, will mean a shortage of beds for refugees from Syria and other countries whose applications are likely to be accepted.

The new procedure explains why Hesse's central reception facility is overcrowded. Indeed, the state is constantly being forced to open new shelters in other cities and towns. The problem, though, is that the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), which has been charged with rapidly processing migrants from the Balkans, doesn't always have branch offices in such towns. And that makes the government's new plan largely worthless.

BAMF President Manfred Schmidt, for his part, has cast blame at the states -- for continually opening up new reception facilities. His agency, Schmidt says, "can't keep up by constantly opening up new branches."

It is the same old blame game. Though in this instance, the federal government and the German states are largely in agreement that BAMF is to blame. "BAMF isn't up to the task," said North Rhine-Westphalian Governor Kraft. A leading SPD politician in Berlin said that the agency "is definitely not a problem solver."

A Quarter Million Unresolved Cases

And the problem isn't getting any easier to solve. There were 150,000 unresolved cases last October. By April of this year, that number had risen to 200,000 and now the total is more than a quarter million. Every month, BAMF adds more unresolved cases to the pile. The result is that those refugees with good chances of obtaining asylum status have to wait extended periods before they can start their new lives and the deportations of the others are repeatedly delayed.

Somewhere in these statistics, Tesfalem Beyene, a 31-year-old asylum applicant from Eritrea, can be found. For the last 13 months, he has been sitting in a refugee hostel in Anklam, a small town just inland from the Baltic Sea coast, waiting for his case to be resolved. But nothing happens, even though most Eritreans are granted asylum.
Beyene would like to restart his life, move into his own apartment and find work. He envisions himself driving construction machinery, like he used to, or working in a care home. At the end of August, he finally received a letter from BAMF. But it wasn't the long-awaited decision. "Because of the increased number of asylum applications," the letter read, he would have to continue waiting patiently.

Still, four new application processing centers are to be built soon in Nuremberg, Unna, Berlin and Mannheim, which should speed things up, BAMF President Schmidt hopes. Cases such as Beyene's -- where the outcome is largely clear -- are to be sped up in particular. By the end of 2016, the agency is to make 2,000 new hires, including several hundred people authorized to make case decisions.

But even that is too little, says migration expert Dietrich Thränhardt. "We need to make a much bigger effort," he says. According to his calculations, BAMF decided on an average of 20,000 applications a month during the first half of the year. But even if that number were to be doubled, the number of unresolved cases would continue to grow. To work through the 250,000 pending cases, in addition to handling the new ones to come, Thränhardt says, thousands of new decision-makers, and not hundreds, would be necessary.

'The Situation Is Too Serious'

Such numbers could help explain why Schmidt sometimes seems so despondent. They also, though, provide insight into the deepening conflict between the federal government and the German states. The situation is such that one agency leader is no longer a large enough scapegoat.

"How are things going to end?" groans a refugee official from one of Germany's three city-states. "The Federal Interior Ministry is doing nothing except for sending us new numbers every day." Many state governors are bristling for a fight and are angry at the results of a recent meeting on the refugee crisis among leaders of Merkel's governing coalition. "The money won't be enough," says Torsten Albig, governor of Schleswig-Holstein.

Berlin Mayor Michael Müller is even more explicit. "We don't have any more time. The situation is too serious. The federal government must finally abandon its stalling tactics," he says. The response to the crisis has been too limited, too parsimonious and too tentative, he believes. "In July, we agreed with the chancellor on flexible help from the federal government," Müller says. "Fixed amounts don't help us when the number of refugees is climbing by the day."

Meanwhile, the federal government in Berlin is disappointed in the states. "Now is not the time to complain. It's time to roll up your sleeves" and get to work, says Ole Schröder, a state secretary in the Interior Ministry. He says that SPD complaints about a coalition agreement made on the watch of Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, who is also head of the SPD, and Hamburg's SPD Mayor Olaf Scholz are the height of hypocrisy.

The anger on both sides is more than just bravado. But no matter how intense the differences between Berlin and the German states become, the decisive battle in the refugee crisis is being fought elsewhere: in Brussels. For the first time, Germany opened the door for refugees in Hungary. But if the majority of EU states continue to keep their doors locked, Germany's "Refugees Welcome" project is in trouble.

A New Cold War

On Wednesday, Denmark suspended train connections with Germany in order to prevent asylum-seekers from traveling through the country on their way to Sweden. The political signal was clear: Even if Germany has softened to the plight of refugees in Hungary, Denmark is not going to play along.

According to an internal European Commission paper from the beginning of July, the EU executive expects an additional 2 million Syrians to leave their homes by the end of this year. Greek diplomats fear that more than 100,000 refugees are planning to head to Greece from Turkey in the coming weeks. On the Greek island of Lesbos alone, there are 18,000 refugees hoping desperately that they will soon be able to continue their journeys. They are sleeping in parks and on the streets -- and they don't have enough to eat and drink.

Most are hoping to make it to Germany. Which is why Germany is hoping to establish a quota requiring refugees to be distributed among all EU states.

Many countries are continuing to reject the plan, despite European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker's emotional speech on Wednesday in which he accused some EU member states of being too selfish in the crisis. The Committee of Permanent Representatives in Brussels -- made up of ambassadors from each member state -- is deeply divided. On the one side are those countries in favor of a quota, like Germany, France and Austria. The other side is made up primarily of Eastern European countries like Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland. East vs. West: One Western European diplomat even referred to it as a "Cold War."

A Chance of Integration

Juncker and Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, whose country currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Council, would like to obtain a decision on the quota as early as Monday at a meeting of European interior and justice ministers. "Monday is an important meeting and, because voluntary commitments don't appear to be enforceable, we should agree on a quota. We don't have to wait for European heads of state and government to do so," Bettel says.

There's a reason for the haste. EU leaders generally make their decisions unanimously, but within the circle of interior and justice ministers, those seeking to block a proposal can be overruled. And if that doesn't work? Then two hopes would be lost at once -- the idea that Germany's burden could be shared. And that the refugees have a realistic chance of integration in the country.

Quickly providing a roof over people's heads alone isn't necessarily going to win hearts. Successful integration hinges on what happens over the longer term in the schools, on the labor market and through the efforts of social workers. In all of those respects, the number of refugees cannot be permitted to get so large that the integrative momentum crumbles -- when it comes, for example, to helping return stability to the life of a minor who has been traumatized and has fled on his or her own to Europe. A related and urgently needed law will go into effect on Jan. 1 that will make it possible to distribute young migrants among all German states. This group, too, has grown so large that major cities like Berlin and Munich are no longer able to care for all of them.

In 2014, German youth welfare offices were responsible for a total of 10,400 children who fled their country without a guardian. But this year, Munich alone has already registered 6,000 children and youth, with most coming from Afghanistan, Eritrea and Somalia. The German states have pledged to provide care for these children based on youth welfare policy standards, but it's a big promise and one that is already being broken in thousands of cases.

'Can You Really Call that Child Welfare?'

Some 700 youth, for example, are currently being cared for according to "bare minimum standards" at Munich's Bayern-Kaserne military barracks, laments Andreas Dexheimer, the social education worker with Diakonie, the social welfare organization of Germany's Protestant churches, in charge of social services at the refugee center. He says that youth are only transferred to social care homes or homes for curative education after it is determined where they came from, how old they are and their name. In those facilities, each social worker is responsible for caring for a maximum of five youth. But in and around Munich right now, social workers are caring for an average of 10 youths each, with the number rising.

"Can you really call that youth welfare?" Dexheimer asks before answering the question himself. "No, the system has been collapsing for the past year and a half." Meanwhile, Klaus Honigschnabel of Munich's Inner Mission, likewise a Protestant social services organization, adds, "It's as if the ocean were being emptied out and all the water has to be captured in a test tube." It isn't money that's the problem, either. "Working together with politicians is going very well," he says. The problem is a lack of workers.

The market for social workers in Germany's metropolitan areas is virtually empty. Yet hundreds are needed to address the youth issue alone. If you add to that the remainder of the refugees, then thousands of social workers are required. But there aren't any and there won't be a fresh supply of social workers available anytime soon.

Even the 10,000 positions the federal government is creating in the Federal Volunteer Service won't do much to alleviate the situation. What are needed are real experts equipped in dealing with youth suffering from serious psychological problems, not volunteers keen to help.

Daniela Schneckenburger, the head of youth welfare in Dortmund, is sitting in her office on the eighth floor of city hall and trying to bring order to the almost uncontrollable chaos. By the end of the year, she estimates that 1,400 unaccompanied refugee children will arrive in her city, almost four times as many as last year. Currently, the city is taking incoming youth as far away as the state of Lower Saxony if there is a bed free. "We want to manage this and we will manage, but nobody knows how," says Schneckenburger, who admits to moments of pure despair. Even youth welfare offices are running out of personnel for dealing with the situation. In Munich right now, each guardian is required to take responsibility for 60 unaccompanied young refugees. Even the best of good will and good intentions by all the volunteers isn't enough to tackle the problem. Ultimately, it's the professionals who will have to step up to the plate -- in schools, too.

Putting German Schools to the Test

Take the example of Schifferstadt, a town in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate. At the Nord Elementary School, students in class 4D recently conducted a test of bicycle riding skills that involved navigating an obstacle course. Only one boy required assistance from the teachers to get on his bike. He began wobbling and then fell over, scratching on his elbow. Teachers at the school must now determine what the 10-year-old is capable of doing, but also what he can't do. It may be that the next few days are less painful, but they certainly won't be easy.

Ibrahim came to Schifferstadt with his mother and two siblings, and school attendance was mandatory upon his arrival. "That happens overnight," says school director Merten Eichert. The government ministries and teachers are facing a unique challenge: They have to absorb thousands of refugee children within a matter of days whom they hadn't even known about before departing for summer vacation.

They must now teach them German and slowly integrate them into normal classrooms. They also have to be incorporated into meal planning as well as the day-care and recreational offerings of all-day schools. At the same time, they have to help these children overcome the horrors they have escaped in their home country.

During her work on her doctoral thesis, Munich psychologist Seval Soykök came to the conclusion that 22 percent of Syrian refugees aged 14 and under suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. An additional 16 percent suffer from other psychological effects of the terrible things they have experienced. Teachers told Schifferstadt principal Eichert that some refugee children had reacted to a fire drill as though a bombing raid had begun.

'We'll Have to Wing It'

It's a massive task for the schools. Is it too big? In the state of North Rhine-Westphalia alone, 10,000 more children showed up in classrooms this year than expected. And that doesn't include those who are still in reception centers or who only just arrived by train from Hungary. "We can't plan for the future," says Sylvia Löhrmann, the state's education and research minister. It is estimated that one-third of all refugees are under the age of 18.

"Immigrant children are not a novelty for us," school director Eichert says calmly. He says the schools will just be fuller now. But he also adds that the "range of the students abilities will also widen, creating a more difficult teaching environment."

Educational professionals are thus warning against putting three or more refugees in a single class. Stefani Droll, the head of the Koblenz's Integrated Comprehensive School (IGS) says the refugees provide an excellent opportunity at German schools for both sides. During this school year, IGS Koblenz took in 11 children from Syria and two from the Balkans. They receive new queries from interested people every day. Droll says that the education levels Syrian children already have assure they will be successful learners in German schools.

At the same time, she warns, "that only works up to a certain threshold." She says it's easy to integrate two students in each classroom but beyond that it gets difficult.

'Initial Costs Are Enormous'

Vocational schools are being particularly challenged and overwhelmed. Many refugees are arriving at the doors to these schools in order to prepare for working life. "The young refugees are motivated and want to learn German," says Herbert Huber, the chairman of the Association of Vocational School Teachers in the state of Baden-Württemberg. "But integration requires considerable time, money and effort." He says that if you include preparation courses and the actual professional training, then the time it takes for a refugee to complete everything is five to seven years. "The initial costs are enormous," says Huber. "And politicians are doing too little to explain this."

For vocational schools in his state alone, his organization is calling for 200 new teaching positions per year. Meanwhile, the national association of vocational school teachers is calling for 20,000 such positons across the country, not including social workers and interpreters. If you estimate that each position will cost at least €55,000 per year as the Education Ministry in Baden-Württemberg does, then it quickly becomes clear that the government is facing billions in costs.

The same also applies to the labor market authorities -- the only difference being that they have a little more time to prepare than the schools do. Under current rules, refugees are allowed to start working after three months, but only if an EU citizen is not interested in the position. Most end up being the responsibility of the Federal Labor Office. And it takes months before the job center is responsible for making welfare payments.

If you go by the current official forecast that 800,000 refugees will come to Germany this year -- one that is already considered by many to be out of date -- and that as many will arrive next year, then the Federal Labor Office will require an estimated 3,300 additional staff members. But as with almost all figures these days, this one too will likely be obsolete in a matter of weeks, if not days.

'Early Intervention'

The hope of many at the job centers, but also their greatest burden, is that public opinion in Germany won't shift. There is no single argument that can quiet skeptics as quickly as the one that Germany urgently needs workers. Many expect the job centers to quickly help refugees find work so that they won't have to rely on state welfare payments in the first place.

Still, the Federal Labor Office is no different from the rest of the government's agencies in the sense that its staffers know very little about the refugees who have arrived. They know their ages, their gender and their nationality -- assuming the information provided is correct. But they know little else. That's why the agency has sent people into the refugee accommodations in order to learn more -- like the languages spoken by the refugees, what kind work they would like to have and the skills they might bring to those jobs. The pilot program, called "Early Intervention," has been tested in nine cities since 2014 and will become the national standard in January 2016.

The aim of the project is to help prevent disappointing both refugees' and German expectations. But the early results have been sobering. In an analysis for the Federal Interior Ministry, the Federal Labor Office wrote that, of the 850 refugees who participated in the project, only 65 found work immediately.

The most common problem is insufficient knowledge of German. When asked what they would do to remedy the situation, Labor Office staff said they would like to see German language courses offered to all from the moment their asylum procedures start and not only at the point when refugees are given residence permits.

So what will happen to Germany and its refugees? Will the majority opinion hold, or will it begin to shift? The country still has 2.8 million unemployed. What happens if these people start to believe that they are being passed over for jobs in favor of refugees? And what happens if, when they get asylum protection, the refugees start competing with locals for apartments in the low-price market in major cities, for which the demand is already highest?
On Monday, many conservative parliamentarians returned to Berlin after visits to their electoral districts. "Normally, all we hear is praise for the chancellor," says one CDU politician. "This time, there was quite a bit of skepticism mixed in."

It was the fear of having begun something that can no longer be stopped -- and the unpleasant feeling of not knowing where things are heading. One thing is clear though: Regardless how the refugee crisis proceeds, it will definitely continue.
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Europe's refugee crisis: "This could change everything".

Postby Storyteller » Sun Sep 13, 2015 9:26 am

Germany to reinstate border checks with Austria

Germany is to reintroduce border controls and will exit temporarily from the Schengen system, the interior minister has said, after the country’s regions said they could no longer cope with the overwhelming number of refugees arriving from Austria.

Thomas de Maizière announced the measures after German officials said that record numbers of refugees, most of them from Syria, had stretched the system to breaking point.

Germany has also stopped all trains entering the country across its southern border with Austria, the principal conduit through which some 450,000 of refugees have arrived in Germany this year.

The emergency measures are designed to give some respite to Germany’s federal states who are responsible for looking after refugees. There is also discussion inside the government about sending troops to the border with Austria, to reinforce security, Der Spiegel reports.

The move comes amid extraordinary scenes at Munich’s main train station over the weekend and a growing backlash inside Germany over the decision last week by the chancellor, Angela Merkel, to allow unregistered refugees to enter the country.

On Saturday, 13,015 refugees arrived at the station on trains from Austria. Another 1,400 came on Sunday morning. The city’s mayor, Dieter Reiter, said Munich was “full”, with its capacities completely exhausted. Some refugees slept on the station concourse on Saturday night.

Germany’s surprise move comes amid bitter division inside the EU over how to deal with the tens of thousands of refugees arriving in Europe, in the continent’s worst refugee crisis for 70 years. On Sunday, east European countries again insisted they would not accept a plan for mandatory refugee quotas.

Interior ministers from the EU’s 28 states are meeting in Brussels on Monday. They will discuss a plan set out last week by Jean-Claude Juncker, the European commission chief, to redistribute 160,000 asylum seekers across the bloc. The refugees would be allocated to each country on the basis of its size and wealth.

The country responded generously as Angela Merkel threw open the borders, but as 1,000 people a day arrive in the capital alone some doubts are being voiced

Germany, Austria and France support the proposal. But they face opposition from other EU states including Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland. On Sunday, the Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, said: “I think it is impossible to retreat. Our position is firm.”

Greek authorities, meanwhile, say 28 people have drowned, half of them children, after their wooden smuggling boat capsized in the Aegean sea. The incident happened before dawn on Sunday off the Greek island of Farmakonisi. The Greek coastguard pulled 68 people out of the water. Another 30 managed to swim to land.

Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán, has blamed Berlin for the crisis, and Merkel’s decision to open Germany’s borders. Budapest is racing to complete a fence on its border with Serbia, where 4,330 people crossed on Saturday. On Tuesday, it introduces tough laws which make crossing the border punishable with jail.

“These migrants are not coming our way from war zones but from camps in Syria’s neighbours. So these people are not fleeing danger and don’t need to be scared for their lives,” Orbán told Germany’s Bild newspaper. European leaders were “living in a dream world”, he added.

Orbán’s hardline populist stance has exasperated his neighbours. Austria’s chancellor, Werner Faymann, said Hungary’s harsh treatment of refugees was reminiscent of the second world war. “Piling refugees on trains in the hopes that they go far, far away brings back memories of the darkest period of our continent,” he told Der Spiegel.
Faymann suggested that if no consensus was reached on Monday in Brussels, Germany and its allies could try to force through a vote on quotas with a qualified majority. He also warned that Austria and Germany – both net contributors to the EU budget – would consider sanctions against countries stubbornly refusing to share the refugee burden.

This might include axing some EU structural funds from which “east European states profit most of all”
, Faymann said. As well as quotas, Juncker’s proposal includes establishing hotspots at EU frontiers, including Greece and Italy, where refugees can be registered under a unitary system.

Germany’s federal regions, meanwhile, have said that they are struggling to cope with an unprecedented human influx. Berlin’s city government has commandeered two sports halls next to the Olympic stadium to house new arrivals. It is considering making use of a velodrome, empty hangars in a trade fair building, and the iconic Tempelhof airport.

The CSU, the Bavarian sister party to Merkel’s Christian Democrat CDU, has accused the chancellor of making an “unparalleled historical mistake” in opening Germany’s borders. On Sunday, Christoph Hillenband, the president of Upper Bavaria, said the system for dealing with refugees was close to collapse. Sixty-three thousand people had arrived in Munich since late August, he said.

Dedicated trains were now taking refugees north to other parts of Germany, with regular passengers shunted on to alternative services. “It’s not feasible for us to take in the equivalent of a small town’s population every day. It’s simply not doable logistically anymore,” Hillenbrand said.

Mustafa Alomar, a refugee from Manbej, near Aleppo in Syria, said he had sympathy with Europeans who said the refugee crisis was not their problem. But he added: “At the end of the day if you stay in Syria you will be killed. That’s true regardless of whether you are poor, middle class or rich.”

Alomar, a former student of English literature at Aleppo University, was living at a refugee hostel in Berlin. His family were in a camp in Syria near the Turkish border. He said three of his friends drowned after their boat from Libya to Italy sank. He was the only one who survived.

“We are not angels or Satan. We are simply human beings,” he said.
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Europe's refugee crisis: "This could change everything".

Postby portia » Tue Sep 15, 2015 7:52 am

Well, we can complain as much as we like, but the people are still on the move. They are real, not theoretical constructs, and have to be fed and dealt with.
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Re: Europe's refugee crisis: "This could change everything".

Postby Storyteller » Tue Sep 15, 2015 9:36 pm

portia wrote:Well, we can complain as much as we like, but the people are still on the move. They are real, not theoretical constructs, and have to be fed and dealt with.

All true, and not the least bit helpful. Where is Germany going to get a million new job openings?

Angela Merkel has done an Obama, promising that no taxes will be raised to pay for absorbing the refugees. No one apparently believes it.

Meanwhile, Germany seems to be readying to compensate for the acceptance of Syrian migrants by rejecting anyone and everyone who isn't Syrian. They've just pushed through the EU court the right to deny social security benefits to deny social assistance to any migrants, including those who have legally worked in Germany before claiming benefits.

The crisis is shaping up to become an existential challenge to the existence of the European Union as an institution. The "temporary" pullouts from the Schengen agreement are just the beginning. In the previous article, a divide emerged between the states who want to distribute refugees "fairly" across the EU states and the states who want no part in the whole affair, and the possibility of economic sanctions for refusal is being raised. Hungary is walling itself off from the rest of the EU with a razor wire border fence, so Croatia and Romania may become the next route to Germany.

Train stations in Salzburg and Vienna are so overwhelmed they may have to be shut down.
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Europe's refugee crisis: "This could change everything".

Postby portia » Wed Sep 16, 2015 9:34 am

"When in trouble or in doubt, run in circles scream and shout."

When there are more customers, there are more jobs. You are likely to have more Middle Eastern restaurants, stores, etc. But they will be absorbed.
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Re: Europe's refugee crisis: "This could change everything".

Postby Storyteller » Wed Sep 16, 2015 8:28 pm

portia wrote:"When in trouble or in doubt, run in circles scream and shout."

When there are more customers, there are more jobs. You are likely to have more Middle Eastern restaurants, stores, etc. But they will be absorbed.

You mean more paying customers, I'm guessing. Working customers generating wealth rather than getting paid 5 Euros a day (plus free lodging and food) for having successfully arrived to Germany.

Because that kind of customers will only generate jobs in one category - refugee handling.
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Europe's refugee crisis: "This could change everything".

Postby portia » Thu Sep 17, 2015 8:48 am

I am surprised that a person from Israel has so little experience with refugees.

There will always be jobs for people who are willing to work. They may be make work, or very low level, but they are work and people will do them. Parents will both work, and other children will be cared for by older kids. Money will be saved and spent; children will be educated and very soon it will not be a surprise to shop at a store owned by Mr and Mrs. Hamid; or to be given a shot by Mr. or Ms. Abdullah. It has happened over and over again.
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Re: Europe's refugee crisis: "This could change everything".

Postby Storyteller » Thu Sep 17, 2015 11:55 am

A philosopher once had the following dream.

First Aristotle appeared, and the philosopher said to him, "Could you give me a fifteen-minute capsule sketch of your entire philosophy?" To the philosopher's surprise, Aristotle gave him an excellent exposition in which he compressed an enormous amount of material into a mere fifteen minutes. But then the philosopher raised a certain objection which Aristotle couldn't answer. Confounded, Aristotle disappeared.

Then Plato appeared. The same thing happened again, and the philosophers' objection to Plato was the same as his objection to Aristotle. Plato also couldn't answer it and disappeared.

Then all the famous philosophers of history appeared one-by-one and our philosopher refuted every one with the same objection.

After the last philosopher vanished, our philosopher said to himself, "I know I'm asleep and dreaming all this. Yet I've found a universal refutation for all philosophical systems! Tomorrow when I wake up, I will probably have forgotten it, and the world will really miss something!" With an iron effort, the philosopher forced himself to wake up, rush over to his desk, and write down his universal refutation. Then he jumped back into bed with a sigh of relief.

The next morning when he awoke, he went over to the desk to see what he had written. It was, "That's what you say."

Your answers, portia, increasingly remind me of that philosopher.

I'm Israeli and I have experience with immigrant absorption, as first-hand as it gets. I also have a fair knowledge of Germany's experience with immigrants, since all of my first-degree family lives there. There are notable differences in the way immigrants are integrated in both places, most of them stemming from the nature of their respective immigrations, their affinity towards the host state and the state's attitude towards them. Israel's model works, for both Jews and Arabs. The Arab refugees from South Lebanon who fled into Israel in 2000 are as well integrated as the Jewish Israeli imigrants of the same vintage. There's a guy in our sales center whose parents are former SLA veterans; his Hebrew is better than mine. But in Germany it's not uncommon for young, healthy immigrant men to spent 10-15 years on welfare benefits without work, speak little to no German and feel no need to change that situation.

I also don't think you realize the sheer difference between the social systems of USA and Germany. In Germany, welfare pays more than a full-time minimum wage job. Employers offering minimum wage jobs actually advise employees how to work just enough to stay on welfare and gain (if you make too much, it is deducted from welfare so you gain little to nothing).
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Europe's refugee crisis: "This could change everything".

Postby portia » Fri Sep 18, 2015 9:01 am

I agree that our experiences are different. I also come from an area where there are a lot of newcomers. Germany is, possibly different, being more homogeneous, and--possibly-- having a more self-respecting attitude.

I was surprised by the comment that the dole pays more than a minimum wage job. What do they expect when young people prefer the dole? Of course people will stay on it, forever. That is a self-inflicted wound by Germany.
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Re: Europe's refugee crisis: "This could change everything".

Postby Storyteller » Sat Sep 19, 2015 1:47 am

portia wrote:I was surprised by the comment that the dole pays more than a minimum wage job. What do they expect when young people prefer the dole? Of course people will stay on it, forever. That is a self-inflicted wound by Germany.

It's complicated but it works about like this.

In Germany's welfare system, there is no expiration date. They can't cut your welfare off completely if you don't get a job for too long (after all, no one should be left behind), so they do two things- they periodically send people on welfare to obligatory temporary jobs (so-called "1 Euro jobs", meaning you make a symbolic one Euro per hour in addition to your welfare during the one month or so period that you do it), and they allow people to work part-time while on welfare in order to get them to contribute at least something. One can make up to 450 Euros (upwards of $500) per month from this type of "mini-jobs" tax-free, without getting off welfare and without deductions from the welfare being received. Industries like retail, restaurants, taxi services etc. make wide use of mini-jobs like that. The reasoning is twofold: the mini-jobs were originally intended to enable stay-at-home moms some additional income and later came to be seen as a "stepping stone" towards a real job for welfare recipients in general. But the end result is that jobs suitable for this kind of mini-job employment cease to make sense for full-time employment and become traps for people who want full-time jobs while enabling people without much ambition to live quite comfortably while working very few hours. Employers can pay mini-job workers wages of under 7 Euros per hour for working 15- 30 hours a week, and they do not have to offer benefits as that's taken care of by welfare, so it no longer makes sense for them to hire anyone full time. About two-thirds of all people working such mini-jobs (something like 7.5 million people) are on welfare because they would lose a lot of money by taking the same job full time or several such mini-jobs (just income tax alone would bring their income well below what they get on welfare).
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Europe's refugee crisis: "This could change everything".

Postby Storyteller » Thu Oct 08, 2015 8:48 pm

Angela Merkel hit by leaked forecast of 1.5 million migrants

Chancellor Angela Mer­kel is facing open dissent from members of her coalition government amid predictions that the number of migrants arriving in Germany this year could reach 1.5 million.

The figure — almost double the official forecasts — added to the impression Ms Merkel had lost control of the issue amid polls showing her popularity ratings, which had defied gravity for so long, were beginning to plummet.

Ms Merkel has refused to talk about limits to the number of refugees Germany can accommodate but Sigmar Gabriel, her deputy and the leader of the Social Democratic party, has declared that the time has come to reduce arrivals.

The new estimate of 1.5 million came in a confidential government paper leaked to the newspaper Bild. It is widely believed the source of the leak was the interior ministry.

The secret document said each refugee had a “family factor” of four to eight people, meaning they could be expected to arrange for up to eight relatives to join them once settled in Germany, as they were entitled to do if granted refugee status. As Bild pointed out, this could mean that 7.36 million eventually arrived as a result of this year’s influx. Germany’s population is now 80 million.

“We believe that in the fourth quarter of the year there will be between 7000 and 10,000 illegal border crossings every day,” the document stated.

“These high figures for asylum-seekers threaten to put extreme pressure on the (German) states and communities.”

The document put a figure on potential arrivals from October to December of 920,000, Bild said. In contrast to some expert views, it did not foresee a reduction during the winter months despite the harsher weather and more difficult travelling conditions.

Fewer asylum-seekers were expected from the Balkan states after Germany’s information campaign to deter people from that region but an increase was foreseen from conflict zones, especially Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere called last week for annual limits on refugees and proposed that any arrivals above the quota should be sent to somewhere safe in their region.

He added these were his personal views and not those of the government.

He is seen as one of Ms Merkel’s closest advisers and she later praised his work while refusing to place a limit on migrant numbers. Now she also faces open dissent from Mr Gabriel.

“We must urgently achieve a clear reduction in the number of refugees in the coming year in Germany,” the deputy chancellor told Suddeutsche Zeitung.

He added: “We must also think about the cohesion of German ­society.”

Ms Merkel’s stance towards asylum-seekers is said to have made her a contender for this year’s Nobel peace prize, which will be announced on Friday, but it has also led to the shine coming off her popular support.

A poll last week showed that her personal support rating had fallen to 54 per cent, down nine points in a month.

Thousands took to the streets of the eastern city of Dresden yesterday, accusing Ms Merkel of “crimes against the German ­people” and “treason”.

“It won’t stop with 1.5 or two million,” said Lutz Bachmann, the co-founder of the anti-Islam ­PEGIDA movement, which organised the march. “They will have their wives come, and one, two, three children. It is an impossible task to integrate these people.”

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged the EU to consider a no-fly zone and safe haven area in Syria during talks to address Europe’s migrant crisis.

Speaking after discussions in Brussels, Mr Erdogan said Turkey was bearing the brunt of the crisis and pressed the bloc to act against “state-sponsored terrorism” in Syria as President Bashar al-Assad’s regime battles rebels and militants.

The EU said Turkey must do more to stop the flow of refugees who have landed on its shores. “It is indisputable that Europe has to manage its borders better. We expect Turkey to do the same,” the EU president, Donald Tusk, said.

The “root cause” of the refugee crisis was the “state-sponsored terrorism actually carried out by Assad himself,” Mr Erdogan said, saying three things needed to be done to end the crisis.

“One is to focus on training and equipment, the second is to declare a safe zone that would be protected from terrorism and the third is a no-fly zone,” Mr Erdogan said.

Western officials had previously cast doubt on the Turkish proposals for a no-fly “safe zone” in northern Syria where refugees could take shelter from the bloody conflict.

Brussels and Ankara also reportedly discussed a European Commission plan that would see Turkey join Greek coastguard pat­rols in the eastern Aegean, co-­ordinated by EU border agency Frontex. Any migrants picked up would be taken back to Turkey where six new camps for up to two million people would be built, co-financed by the EU.
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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