Iran Rattles Sabers Again;
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif threatens that Iran will further curb its adherence to the international agreement limiting its nuclear program next week.
“The third phase (of freezing nuclear obligations) will start on September 6,” Zarif tells the German Sueddeutsche Zeitung in an interview published today, according to Iran’s Tasnim news agency.
He is quoted adding Iran will reassess the move if it reaches an agreement with European powers before then.
Iran has accused the EU signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal — Britain, France and Germany — of failing to provide sufficient economic relief since US President Donald Trump pulled out of the accord last May and reimposed sanctions on Tehran.
Trump has faulted the agreement, which was also signed by China and Russia, for not addressing Iran’s ballistic missile program or support of militant proxy groups in the region.
Amid the growing bite of US sanctions, Iran has twice scaled back its commitment to the nuclear deal in recent months and in June the UN’s atomic watchdog did not explicitly state that the Islamic Republic is in compliance, the first time it has not done since the accord was inked.
The publication of the interview came as Zarif ruled out the possibility of a meeting between Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Trump, after the latter said yesterday alongside his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron that such a sit down could soon be in the works if the right conditions were met.
Iran has again threaten an all out war. Would that mean that Iran has built enough fallout shelters for its citizens. Has in place enough workers in radiation protection training.
Maybe that is not the type of war Iran think is winnable against the US.
Italy's bars rescue ship;
On Tuesday, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini banned a German humanitarian ship carrying migrants rescued off Libya from entering Italian territorial waters. The boat took aboard 100 people from a a rubber lifeboat sinking roughly 50 kilometers (30 miles) off the Libyan coast on Monday.
Captain Claus-Peter Reisch said that Monday's rescue had taken place "literally in the last second." However, he added, "we still haven't received a positive response from EU states."
The charity Lifeline, which operates the 20-meter (65-foot) ship, Eleonore, has urged Germany's government to help identify a safe harbor. Should there be an emergency, representatives said, the boat will have to dock somewhere — permitted or not.
"The politicians should deal with it quickly," Lifeline spokesperson Axel Steier told Germany's Catholic news agency, KNA, on Tuesday. "Otherwise, we'll have to deal with it."
Rescuers said Libya's coast guard threatened the boat, coming within 50 meters on the open sea, stirring the nerves of passengers who had just escaped the country. Steier said the people on the ship were undernourished and dehydrated. There are about 30 minors, including 15 unaccompanied children.
Decrees such as the one signed Tuesday have become routine in Salvini's bid to prevent humanitarian rescue ships from bringing migrants to Italy. He has often complained that other EU countries do not take in their fair share of displaced people.
Though Italy and Malta have the EU ports closest to Libya, the countries have constructed policies to exclude humanitarian ships. Malta generally has accepted migrants rescued in its recognized area of responsibility. The positions have led to numerous standoffs.
Crews have also reported electronic interference that has hindered their searches for shipwrecks and cut into the time required to rescue survivors. Mission Lifeline reported disturbances in its GPS.
Last week, after being stranded at sea for days, more than 350 migrants aboard the Ocean Viking charity ship entered Malta, where officials assigned them to other EU countries.
Six EU countries have said they will accept more than 300 migrants from a rescue ship stranded in the Mediterranean. The Maltese prime minister said none would stay in Malta, where they will disembark.
Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on Friday that six EU member states had agreed to take in 356 migrants from the rescue ship Ocean Viking, which has been stranded for nearly two weeks amid a new standoff over permission to disembark.
Muscat named Germany, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal and Romania as the willing countries, saying the migrants would be transferred to land in Malta by Maltese navy boats before being relocated.
"None will remain in Malta," he wrote on Twitter.
The Ocean Viking, which has picked up several groups of migrants since it set sail in early August, has spent 13 days sailing between Malta and the Italian islands of Lampedusa and Sicily, remaining out of sight of land to prevent the passengers becoming excited.
The vessel had been refused permission to land in Malta, and Italy's hard-line Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has made it clear that no humanitarian rescue ship will be allowed in an Italian port, with fines of up to €1 million ($1.1 million) for any vessels defying him.
Such standoffs are becoming more common, with the EU member states at odds among themselves about how to deal with the influx of migrants seeking a new life in Europe by making the perilous journey across the Mediterranean from Africa, notably Libya.
Italy and Malta, two of the countries that have borne the brunt of a wave of migrants over the past four years, have adopted hard-line approaches to the issue, with Salvini in particular indulging in anti-immigration rhetoric.
On Wednesday, more than 80 migrants aboard the Spanish charity vessel Open Arms were finally allowed to land on Lampedusa after some of them had spent nearly three weeks on board. Those migrants will also be relocated to five EU countries, including France, Germany and Spain.
Infomation from Deutsche Welle
Another wave of immigrants is about to leave Turkey to enter the EU.
Background Checks in Germany
While refugees catch the headlines, most migrants come from other parts of Europe. Only 15% of 20.8 million people with an immigrant background came as asylum-seekers.
Nearly one quarter of Germany's population of 82 million has an immigrant background, according to statistics released Wednesday.
Germany's statistical agency Destatis said 20.8 million people in 2018 had a so-called "migrant background," defined as a person who is a migrant or has at least one parent not born as a German citizen. That's an increase of half a million people, or 2.5%, from 2017.
In 2018, 52% of those with a migration background were German citizens while 48% had a foreign passport. Of the 10.9 million with German citizenship, about half received it at birth.
The top reasons for immigration were for family (48%), employment (19%) and education (5%). Of those who came for family or employment reasons, 72% and 85% respectively came from European countries led by Poland, Romania and Italy.
Only 15% of migrants, half of whom are from the Middle East, came as refugees seeking asylum.
The number of migrants and refugees failing Germany's integration and language classes has risen. Germany's migration office has been under fire for the quality of the courses.
Around 45 percent of migrants taking part in language and integration courses in Germany do not pass, according to media reports citing the response to a request for information by the far-right AfD party.
Of the roughly 202,000 people taking a course in 2018, 93,500 failed, according to government data cited in the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung daily. One in four failed even after doing additional classes.
The course is aimed at teaching participants a lower to intermediate level of German, classified as B1. It also requires people to sit an exam titled "Life in Germany."
According to figures quoted in daily Die Welt nearly 40,000 of those taking part last year were Syrians, followed by Afghans, Iraqis, Romanians, Turks and Bulgarians.
Nearly 45,000 participants were illiterate when they started their classes.
Migration office under fire
Germany's Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) has been criticized for the quality of the courses, with inspections stepped up.
Media reports say that BAMF ran checks on nearly 90 percent of course providers in 2018, which was one reason for an increase in the office funds despite the number of course participants remaining roughly the same as the year before.
Some providers sued
Welt reported Friday that some providers are being sued by the BAMF for fraud and the falsifying of documents. The paper says one course provider is even suspected of aiding and abetting the subreption of citizenship by letting participants pass without the required language skills.
The report says 16 providers had seen their license revoked or not renewed last year. BAMF is to publish definitive figures in May, the paper states.
The report says one issue is that no clear guidelines have been set to assess what constitutes "orderly, regular attendance" of courses, leaving it up to the individual teacher to decide if a participant has attended often enough to pass.
Making New Comers German
German conservatives are set to push for new lessons that would teach both German language and values to children of refugees, the Rheinische Post newspaper reported in its Monday edition.
According to the report, senior lawmakers from the ruling CDU and CSU parties have prepared a draft document on the so-called "values lessons" in schools. The children would learn about issues such as the rule of law, gender equality, and the state monopoly on the use of force.
"The integration of those who can stay in Germany is a priority issue, not least in order to preserve peace in our society," says the draft report cited by the paper. "The goal of these lessons should be to allow refugees to learn about our values and the rule of law, and, at the same time, teach them the limits and duties of our legal system."
The paper is due to be presented in Frankfurt on Monday, where the heads of the parliamentary groups of the CSU and CDU in Germany's state and federal legislatures are set to meet.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is also expected to attend.
Values over culture and religion
The values to be discussed in the proposed classes, such as gender equality, press freedom, and protection of human dignity should "stand as indispensable values above divergent cultural or religious views," the draft says.
The idea of "values lessons" was floated last month by Bavarian Premier Markus Söder from the CSU and by his Hesse counterpart, Volker Bouffier, from the CDU. Talking to the German Spiegel magazine, Bouffier said that a similar integration project has been employed in refugee centers for the last two years.
"The project is very successful," he told the magazine. "That is why we want to use this experience and expand the classes in the upcoming legislative term."
Both Bavaria and Hesse are set to hold state elections in October.
If you really want to make a life in Germany, one thing is paramount: you have to speak German. That's the only way to tackle everyday tasks and get to know your neighbors. Here are some tips on how to go about that.
Do I have the right to attend a German language class?
Not as long as you are an asylum applicant. But it changes once you're a recognized refugee, have been granted asylum and are allowed to stay in Germany long-term.
Then you actually have to participate in a so-called integration course.
There you mainly learn German, but you'll also learn about your rights and obligations and the basics of German politics and society.
Information how to get into one of those integration classes are provided by the local immigration office.
There are special regulations for young refugees: Asylum applicants who have been to school for less than years or more fall under Germany's compulsory education law in almost all federal states. They usually have to start school six months after their arrival. Most German schools have so-called welcome- or integration classrooms. Here, children also learn German and teachers tell them about German way of living and culture.
Who helps me learn German?
If you want to learn German while your asylum application is being processed, the best thing to do is look around for local opportunities. There are often volunteers like teachers, who offter German classes in refugee homes. These courses are free.
If you want to learn German like that, you can also turn to the local refugee aid centers or representatives of the state refugee councils.
If you have the money, you can of course also take conventional German classes. One of the most well-known providers is the Goethe-Institute. But their classes, which last between two and eight weeks, cost between 610 and 2,140 Euro.
More affordable classes are offered by the so-called adult education centers ("Volkshochschule" or VHS). Classes, however, only start twice a year, usually in March and September. On the VHS website, you can look for classes all over Germany:
//www.vhs.de/ (information in German)
Many universities now also offer special German classes for refugees. Check whether the university closes to you has any such German courses available. Offers vary from city to city.