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German Interior Minister Criticizes Merkel On Immigration

Minister of the Interior Thomas de Maizière in Brussels on Sep. 22.
Minister of the Interior Thomas de Maizière in Brussels on Sep. 22.

BERLIN — German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière has leveled harsh criticisms of Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to allow refugees to enter the country from Hungary earlier this month, describing the migrant situation in the country as chaotic, the weekly Der Spiegel reports.

Speaking on the television network ZDF (at 33:30), de Maizière, a member of the Merkel-led Christian Democratic Union, said the situation "had gotten out of control because of the decision to bring people from Hungary to Germany."

He added that "it was such a large number that it became impossible to count." In early September, Merkel allowed thousands of refugees blocked in Hungary, mostly fleeing the violence in Syria and Iraq, to enter Germany, before closing the border with Austria in mid-September.

"We will now do things in a more orderly way," de Maizière explained. This includes limiting the influx of asylum seekers into the country and respecting migrant quotas across EU countries.

At a summit in Brussels on Wednesday, EU leaders agreed on closer cooperation to stem the flow of refugees into the EU, and pledged at least $1.1 billion to help UN agencies handle the refugee crisis. "If we reach full quotas, then we say that they cannot come to Europe for now, maybe next year," said de Maizière.

With the current law, he added: "there is no limit for asylum seekers."

Merkel also faced criticism on her decision to welcome refugees by its sister party the Christian Social Union earlier this month. The head of the party Horst Seehofer described it as a "mistake that will we will have to deal with for a long time."

Seehofer has also led an anti-Merkel movement regarding immigration, supported by Hungary's conservative-nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

Merkel later strongly rejected this criticism and refused to apologize for welcoming refugees: "If we now have to start apologizing for showing a friendly face in response to emergency situations, then that's not my country."*

Thursday night, the German Länders and the federal government agreed on several measures to address the refugee situation. Additional funds — 670 euros per refugee and per month — will be released for the German regions in charge of taking in refugees. Merkel also promised an acceleration of the asylum seeking process and a reduction "disincentives."

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Inside Copernicus, Where All The Data Of Climate Change Gets Captured And Crunched

As COP28 heats up, a close-up look at the massive European earth observatory program 25 years after its creation, with its disturbing monthly reports of a planet that has gotten hotter than ever.

A photo of Sentinel-2 floating above Earth

Sentinel-2 orbiting Earth

Laura Berny

PARIS — The monthly Copernicus bulletin has become a regular news event.

In early August, amid summer heatwaves around the Northern Hemisphere, Copernicus — the Earth Observation component of the European Union's space program — sent out a press release confirming July as the hottest month ever recorded. The news had the effect of a (climatic) bomb. Since then, alarming heat records have kept coming, including the news at the beginning of November, when Copernicus Climate Change Service deputy director Samantha Burgess declared 2023 to be the warmest year on record ”with near certainty.”

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Approaching the dangerous threshold set by the Paris Agreement, the global temperature has never been so high: 1.43°C (2.57°F) higher than the pre-industrial average of 1850-1900 and 0.10°C (0.18°F) higher than the average of 2016 (warmest year so far). Burgess, a marine geochemistry researcher who previously served as chief advisor for oceans for the UK government, knows that the the climate data gathered by Copernicus is largely driving the negotiations currently underway at COP28 in Dubai.

She confirmed for Les Echos that December is also expected to be warmer than the global average due to additional heat in sea surfaces, though there is still more data to collect. “Are the tipping points going to be crossed in 2023,?" she asked. "Or is it just a very warm year part of the long-term warming trend varying from one year to the next?”

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