10 January 2018   Leave a comment

The German newspaper, Bild, conducted an interview with the Hungarian leader, Viktor Orban, on the issue of refugees coming into the member states of the European Union.  The EU had required each of its members to accept a certain number of refugees from the Middle East, but Poland and Hungary have refused to do so and several other EU members have admitted far fewer than their allotted quota.  Orban has been hostile to immigrants and refugees for some time and considers the EU decision to be a violation of Hungarian solidarity.  Orban is quoted in this way in the interview:

And why don’t the Hungarians want refugees?

Orban: “We do not consider these people to be Muslim refugees. We consider them to be Muslim invaders. For instance, somebody who wants to come from Syria to Hungary must cross four countries that are not as rich as Germany, but stable. So they are not running for their lives there. They are economic migrants who are looking for a better life.“

Are they therefore less valuable as human beings?

Orban: “When somebody would like to come to your house, first they knock on the door and then ask: can we come in, can we stay? But they didn’t do that; they crossed the border illegally. That was not a wave of refugees, but an invasion. Concerning the migration issue, I never understood how it is possible that in a country like Germany – which is the best example of discipline and the rule of law – the chaos, anarchy, and illegal crossing of borders could be celebrated as a good thing.”

According to Deutsche Welle, the EU has fallen far short of its goals for refugee resettlement: “A total of 22 countries involved in the resettlement scheme fell short of their “legal commitment.” Although Germany took in more refugees than any other involved in the program with 9,169, it still fell short of its quota of 27,536.”

Viktor Orban

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (picture-alliance/NurPhoto/K. Dobuszynski)

 

The Environmental Data & Governance Initiative is a private, non-profit group that has been monitoring the US government’s treatment of the issue of climate change.  It has issued a report that indicates that the generally open and easily accessible information about climate change that had characterized the websites and publications of most Federal agencies has changed dramatically over the last year.  The key findings of the report paint a dismal picture of the efforts to raise public awareness of this crucial public policy issue:

● The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) removal and subsequent ongoing overhaul of its climate change website raises strong concerns about loss of access to valuable information for state, local, and tribal governments, and for educators, policymakers, and the general public.
● Several agencies removed or significantly reduced the prominence of climate change Web content, such as webpages, documents, and entire websites, and the White House omitted climate change as an issue  highlighted on its website.
● The Department of State, Department of Energy (DOE), and the EPA removed information about the federal government’s international obligations regarding climate change, downplaying U.S. involvement.
● Descriptions of agency priorities shifted to emphasize job creation and downplay renewable fuels as replacements for fossil fuels. At the DOE, mentions of “clean energy” and explanations of harmful environmental impacts of fossil fuels were also removed .
● Language about climate change has been systematically changed across multiple agency and program websites. In many cases, explicit mentions of “climate change” and “greenhouse gases” have been replaced by vaguer terms such as “sustainability” and “emissions”.

There is no question that the current US Administration does not share the views of previous administrations on the issue of climate change and it is not surprising that it has altered many of the websites and publications to reflect that change in policy.  But the deliberate attempt to make previously accessible public information paid for by US taxpayers more difficult to find and access goes beyond an attempt to reflect policy preferences.  The attempt to deny access to information is not consistent with a democratic polity.

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Posted January 10, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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