Germany’s Refugee Joy Sours

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Obama praises influx; will he bring it to America?


Just a few weeks after throwing open the doors of her country to hundreds of thousands of Middle Eastern refugees, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is facing a huge backlash.

Serving up the slogan, “We can do it,” the chancellor won praise as “Mama Merkel” for stepping forward and making Germany the only European nation willing to take significant steps toward providing relief for the millions of people driven from their homes by civil war in Syria, and by the brutality of ISIS terrorists.

The German public initially approved, and there is even talk of a Nobel Peace Prize.

But as German President Joachim Gauck met Wednesday with President Barack Obama, who himself is under pressure to admit more refugees, the German public has soured on Merkel’s initiative. Local officials are overwhelmed, and her own governing coalition is splintered.

Obama has already increased the number of refugees the U.S. will take by some 45,000 over the next three years. It’s unclear whether it stops there.

In his meeting with the German president Wednesday, Obama praised Germany’s willingness to take in refugees and called it a model, according to a report by German broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

Related: Will Refugees Bring Terror?

But Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, said the German experience both demonstrates the limits of the West’s ability to solve the refugee problem and offers a cautionary tale for U.S. policymakers who would follow suit.

“I think what we’ve seen is we’re never going to be able to deal with a crisis like that,” he said. “The numbers are just too overwhelming.”

About 200,000 refugees responded to Merkel’s call in September alone. By some counts, 5,000 foreigners every single day — and up to 10,000 on peak periods — arrive in Germany. Merkel initially estimated that Germany would receive 800,000 refugees. Some estimates now range as high as 1.5 million.

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Cities and towns throughout Germany have complained they lack the resources to house and feed the newcomers. The German government is seizing unoccupied residential space, and even commercial space, to house the many refugees.

It used to take a few hours to photograph and fingerprint each migrant, issue temporary documentation, and find homes, according to The Atlantic. But the wait period has ballooned to two days or more. Some refugees have been sleeping on the streets in Berlin.

German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel of the center-left Social Democratic Party, recently told the German magazine Der Spiegel that he was “very worried” about the situation.

Related: What Candidates Say About Refugees

“Anyone who speaks with Germany’s mayors and district councils has observed this: In Germany we are rapidly approaching the limits of our abilities,” he told the magazine. “In other words, in addition to confidence, we also need realism.”

Ralf Jäger, the interior minister for the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, told Der Spiegel that people helping the refugees were “at wits’ end.”

Merkel’s policy has strained relations with the Christian Social Union (CSU), the governing partner with her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party. Horst Seehofer, leader of the CSU, said over the weekend in an interview with public broadcaster Bayerische Rundfunk that the prime minister should reverse her policy.

“We cannot continue,” he said, warning of a “collapse” by winter if the flow continues unabated.

It is not just coalition partners. Thirty-four politicians from Merkel’s own CDU last week signed a sharply worded letter to her.

“The ‘open borders policy’ we are now implementing is not in line with either European or German law, nor does it reflect the CDU’s program,” the letter states.

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Perhaps they are reading the polls. A survey last week by Infratest Dimap for German public broadcaster ARD indicated 51 percent of Germans are “scared” about the number of refugees entering the country, up from 38 percent last month.

A poll by German-based Forsa Institute suggested the entire conservative bloc that controls the German government has taken a hit since the most recent federal election. The right-wing Alternative for Germany, meanwhile, stood at 7 percent in the poll — a record high this year.

Merkel’s personal popularity dipped to 47 percent, her lowest showing in the polls this year.

Although far less than the scale as experienced by Germany, critics warn that the United States could face similar problems.

“These are the incubators of terrorism,” said Mehlman. “Obviously, not everyone is a potential terrorist. But we do have to be aware of it.”

In Germany, meanwhile, even some refugees appear to be having second thoughts.

“I wish I’d stayed in Syria and not come here,” one 26-year-old told Reuters through an interpreter. “I dreamed Germany would be better, but it’s so bad. We’ve been sleeping in the cold. Now my baby is sick.”

TPP leaked: Wikileaks releases intellectual property chapter of controversial internet and medicine-regulating trade agreement

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Wikileaks has released the Intellectual Property Rights chapter of the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, which they claim contains rules and regulations that would have “wide-ranging effects on internet services, medicines, publishers, civil liberties and biological patents.”

The idea behind the TPP is free trade – amongst the member states, it aims to lower trade barriers, create a common standard for intellectual property, enforce labour and environmental law standards and promote economic growth.

The agreement has come under severe criticism and scrutiny, however, for the policy of total secrecy during the years-long negotiations.

Others have criticised the more stringent intellectual property laws it would introduce, which could extend copyright terms and mean harsher penalties for file-sharers.

Wikileaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange is currently holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has lived since June 2012 in an effort to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces sexual offences charges

A number of trade unions and economists, such as Joseph Stiglitz, have said the agreement “serves the interest of the wealthiest”, and caters to the needs of corporations rather than the citizens of member nations.

Concerns have also been raised over the effect it could have on the cost of medicines – by extending the intellectual property rights of certain branded drugs, delays in the development of cheaper, ‘generic’ versions of these drugs could ensue, potentially leading to poorer people having to wait much longer than the wealthy to get access to the newest medicines.

The chapter on these intellectual property issues is what has been leaked by Wikileaks, and is one of the more controversial chapters in the whole agreement.

Peter Maybarduk, the program director at Public Citizen’s Global Access to Medicines, said that if the TPP is ratified, “people in the Pacific-Rim countries would have to live by the rules of this leaked text.”

“The new monopoly rights for big pharmaceutical firms would compromise access to medicines in TPP countries. The TPP would cost lives.”

The document, dated 5 October, was apparently produced on the day it was announced that the 12 member states to the treaty had reached an agreement after five and a half years of negotiations.

The nations of Vietnam, Peru, Mexico, Malaysia, Japan, Canada, Australia, USA, Singapore, New Zealand, Chile and Brunei are all prospective member states to the free-trade agreement, between them representing over 40 per cent of the world economy.

Despite the leak, the final text of the TPP is reportedly being held until after the Canadian general election, on 19 October.

While, as Wikileaks says, there still needs to a be a final “legal scrub” of the document before it is finished, negotiations on the document between signatories have now ended.

Boehner blasted for delaying vote…

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House conservatives accused Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) Friday of acting like a dictator by delaying the election for his successor because his favored candidate, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), suddenly dropped out of the race.

Reps. Tom Rice (R-S.C.) and Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) stood up during Friday’s closed-door GOP conference meeting and confronted Boehner about his decision to postpone Thursday’s election immediately after McCarthy’s shocking announcement, according to sources in the room

Boehner spokeswoman Emily Schillinger said the Speaker was well within the conference rules to ask that the elections be delayed. “He made a motion to adjourn the conference meeting, and no member objected,” she said in an email.

But Rice reportedly argued that the Speaker and his leadership team would not have delayed the election and quickly gaveled Thursday’s meeting to such an abrupt end if one of McCarthy’s rivals, such as Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.), had said he was dropping out of the race, the sources said.

“He basically challenged the Speaker’s authority to end the meeting,” said one Boehner ally in the room. Boehner made the motion to adjourn Thursday, and Conference GOP Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) quickly banged the gavel, leaving lawmakers stunned and confused.

Rice “is complaining on behalf of himself and others that some rules were violated,” the lawmaker added. “I have sympathy that a lot of big things don’t get discussed by enough people to at least take that argument off the table.”

Boehner told Rice that it would have been ill-advised to move forward with the election given the disarray, sources said, and a majority of the conference erupted in applause agreeing with the Speaker’s remarks.

“I was as shocked as you were about Kevin’s announcement yesterday,” Boehner told his colleagues in the private meeting, sources said. “To allow the shock to wear off a bit, I believed it was in the best interests of everyone here to delay the conference election for Speaker.”

Rice and Gohmert weren’t the only ones griping to leadership. After Friday’s meeting, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) was also furious at Boehner, saying the Speaker “called off the election because he didn’t like the result.”

“What’s this tell the American people? It looks like a banana republic here,” Massie told reporters. “If your man doesn’t win the GOP primary in a presidential race, are you going to reopen the filing date and move the election?”

“That’s essentially what they did,” he added. “That was disgusting.”

Massied pointedly told reporters, according to the Washington Examiner, that a motion to vacate that would remove Boehner as Speaker could still be brought to the floor. Conservatives had considered moving such a motion before Boehner’s own decision to resign as Speaker last month.

“The motion to vacate is still in the hopper, it still has five sponsors and it can still be brought to the floor for a vote within two days,” Massie said.

Minutes before the vote for Speaker Thursday, McCarthy told his colleagues he didn’t have enough support on the House floor and was bowing out of the race. Boehner, who announced last month he planned to resign from Congress Oct. 30, told rank-and-file members Friday that he would stay on as Speaker until the conference can unify around a successor, people in the room said.

House lawmakers will head home Friday for a previously scheduled weeklong recess, when they’ll be challenged by constituents to explain this week’s chaos in the Capitol.

So far, Republicans say Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is the only person who can bring the warring factions of the GOP together, but he’s repeatedly said he’s not interested in the job.

“Paul Ryan is the person who needs to do it. We just got to wait on him to make a decision,” said Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.), who himself is looking at the Speaker’s race if Ryan takes a pass.

— This story was updated at 1:41 p.m.

Bradford Richardson contributed. 

Obama Threatens To Defund The Military We Don’t Set Muslim Terrorists Free

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Barack Obama has no respect for the U.S. military, but what he did this time goes beyond insanity.

The Obama administration announced this week that the president plans to veto a defense authorization bill if it does not shut down Guantanamo Bay. According to Breitbart, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters that the bill would be vetoed, “principally because…of the irresponsible way that it funds our national defense priorities, but also because of the efforts to prevent the closure [of] the prison at Guantanamo Bay.”

Earnest went on to say that Democrats would then back up Obama’s veto, and the defense bill that was meant to help our soldiers would die.

Mr. conservative commenting on the issue:

It’s sickening that Obama is using putting Muslim terrorists ahead of the wellbeing of American soldiers. His stance on Guantanamo shows that he would not hesitate to defend our national security, and therefore put the lives of millions of Americans at risk.

Shame on you, Mr. President!

Britain to send troops to Eastern Europe in display of force against Russia

Britain will station “a small number” of troops in the Baltic in a show of force amid tensions between the West and Russia, the country’s defense minister, Michael Fallon, has revealed.

Speaking ahead of a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels, Fallon said the deployment is designed to show the military alliance is still strong.

This is further reassurance for our allies on the eastern flank of NATO – for the Baltic States and for Poland,” he said.

That is part of our more persistent presence on the eastern side of NATO to respond to any further provocation and aggression.”

The troops will be part of a NATO training, evaluation and capacity-building mission in Eastern Europe that will take place in Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

They will be part of a more persistent presence by NATO forces,” Fallon said.

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The UK has already sent RAF Typhoon jets to patrol Baltic States’ airspace. In June, RAF jets were scrambled from an Estonian airbase to shadow two Russian planes across the Baltic Sea.

The NATO defense ministers are meeting in Brussels amid escalating tensions over the Russian bombing raids in Syria, which have largely been condemned by the West.

Russia is making a very serious situation in Syria much more dangerous,” Fallon said.

“We will be calling on Russia specifically to stop propping up the Assad regime, to use their influence constructively to stop Assad bombing his own civilians and themselves to avoid the use of unguided munitions in areas that are not being controlled by ISIL,” he said.

Russia began launching airstrikes in Syria against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) on September 30, making 120 combat sorties that hit 110 targets in just over a week, according to the Defense Ministry.

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Russian military intelligence claims the assault has destroyed numerous ISIS bases and strategic facilities across Syria.

Among the objects destroyed are 71 armored vehicles, 30 other vehicles, 19 command facilities, two communication centers, 23 depots with fuel and ammunition and six plants used to make IEDs, including car bombs.

But western powers believe Russia is targeting other rebel groups, thereby propping up Syrian President Bashar Assad.

“If Russia wants to help here, the single most helpful thing they can do is use their influence on Assad to stop barrel-bombing his own civilians, their children, his own cities and villages,” Fallon said. “That’s how Russia could help to resolve this conflict.”