First, click on John Lennon and enjoy the montage, or continue reading with the music

For many of us who are privileged to have lived a lifetime without war as a daily experience, we can gently drift away to this iconic song, with images so appropriate for this time of year, and a world filled with troubled waters... and to empathize, from within the safety of philosophical distance, with all those millions fleeing our escalating wars-from-a-safe-distance, and other behaviors, such that this time of year offers them only deeper suffering and trauma.

A recent Danish news segment briefly focused on refugee fathers in Sweden, who'd fled the Islamic State horror in northern Iraq. They'd spent grueling months, with death along the way, to seek refuge for their children, still trapped back there...

This is a Danish public TV (DR) synopsis of that reportage. Since it's in Danish, here is a translation of the significant sentences:

"The [Swedish] migration authorities," says Omar Ali to SVT, "have explained to me just how difficult it is for an Iraqi to obtain a residence permit, and to then bring my family [still in worn-torn Iraq] to be here with me. It feels awful to go back to Iraq, but I'm forced to do it...

"I risked my life for my children's future [to come to Sweden]. I do not want my kids to have to experience the same life I did with war, death and failed governments."

Sweden, like Denmark, and ever more in Europe, has just passed laws that will forbid family reunions for refugees until 1 or more years have passed, pretty much cuts in half all public support, and even concentrates refugees into police-monitored camps. It's rather difficult for those of us with a fact-based conscience not to feel sadness and anger as grieving parents described what they were feeling as they decided to take a flight back to that horror, so they could at least try to care for and protect their children.

This was from November, just before Sweden passed its anti-immigration/refugee racist laws

And now, as we approach Christmas, Scandinavia's biggest consumer pig-out

From the Dec.18, 2015 Washington Post
For the full story, click on the title
Denmark wants to seize jewelry and cash from refugees

"In recent months, Denmark has taken a fairly harsh stance toward refugees. In September, for example, authorities published an ad in Lebanese newspapers carrying an unmistakable message to foreigners who might think about seeking asylum: Don't come to Denmark.

Now, the country is debating another and even more extreme step: The government is considering a law that would allow authorities to confiscate jewelry from refugees entering the country. The proposal is almost certain to pass Parliament.

"It is pretty telling about the current Danish policies that [some] are not quite sure whether this is a hoax or not," said Zachary Whyte, an asylum and integration researcher at the University of Copenhagen. In this case, it's real.

"The bill presented on 10 December 2015 provides the Danish authorities with the power to search clothes and luggage of asylum seekers — and other migrants without a permit to stay in Denmark — with a view to finding assets which may cover the expenses," the Danish Ministry of Integration said in an email to The Washington Post.

The law would also impact refugees already in the country. It is included in an asylum policy bill that is expected to pass Parliament in January and would be set to take effect by next February. Police authorities would be allowed to seize valuables and cash amounts they deem expensive enough.

According to the Integration Ministry, "the new rule on seizure will only apply to assets of a considerable value." Foreigners are expected to be able to "keep assets which are necessary to maintain a modest standard of living, e.g. watches and mobile phones. Furthermore, assets which have a certain personal, sentimental value to a foreigner will not, as a main rule, be seized unless they have [considerable] value."

A story from Germany... (click on image to go to "
Thousands of refugees crammed into airport hangars in Berlin, Germany")
Thousands of refugees crammed into airport hangars in Berlin, Germany By Verena Nees 16 November 2015



Bent Lorentzen

Bent Lorentzen

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