PBS NewsHour

Migrant-magnet Sweden strains to shelter unexpected influx


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JUDY WOODRUFF: But, first, Sweden has received more refugees per capita than any other European country, and the government is proud of its open-door policy.

But, as special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports from Sweden, the country’s generosity has left it struggling to cope with an influx that’s far greater than anticipated.

MALCOLM BRABANT: Twenty-one-year-old student Abed Allmugharbel has found sanctuary in the historic town of Ystad, a continent away from Homs in Syria, where his home and much of the city has been destroyed.

Sweden’s offer of granting asylum to all Syrian refugees was irresistible.

ABED ALLMUGHARBEL, Syrian Refugee: I never imagined myself outside of Homs city. Now I’m from Sweden — I’m in Sweden. It’s very happy to be in a very peaceful country, where I’m being treated like a human, respect to human life. Very friendly people here. It’s very happy to be here.

MALCOLM BRABANT: We first encountered Abed last month in the Turkish coastal city of Izmir, where smugglers arranged passage to Europe. On that day, Abed had just met a trafficker who had promised to get him to Greece.

ABED ALLMUGHARBEL: It might be my best day or might be my salvation day.

MALCOLM BRABANT: Thankfully for Abed, it was his salvation day, but for hundreds of others, such deals are death sentences.

Abed’s odyssey to Sweden from Lebanon took 17 days and cost $2,500. He sailed from Tripoli in Lebanon to Mersin in Turkey and then traveled to the people-smuggling center of Izmir next to the Aegean Sea.

An overcrowded inflatable carried him and other migrants to the Greek island of Lesbos. From there, he took a ferry to Athens, and then a bus to the Macedonian border. All the way, his path and that of tens of thousands of others was facilitated by the U.N. Refugee Agency through border crossings in Serbia, Croatia, Hungary and Austria.

Eventually, he reached Bavaria, where he was told by the Germans that he could apply for asylum or carry on. Abed continued his journey north to Hamburg and onto the Baltic port of Sassnitz, where he took a ship that enabled him to bypass Denmark and landed in Trelleborg in Southern Sweden. And there he began the process of claiming asylum.

The most perilous part of Abed’s odyssey was the crossing to Lesbos. The legal ferry takes just under an hour and costs about $30. Abed paid $1,200 for a place in a crowded inflatable whose engine broke down halfway across and started to leak.

ABED ALLMUGHARBEL: After like 25 minutes, under the engine, there was a hole. The hole was getting the water in the boat. You can imagine how a woman can scream of — frightening, of how children can scream of being afraid.

Yes, at that point, we thought we are going to die. Happily, the boat made it to the shore. I don’t want to go through this suffering all again. I don’t wish it for anyone, even my enemy. But there was no other way. I had to take this way to get to here.

MALCOLM BRABANT: He promises to give something back to a country which has taken the moral high ground over Europe’s migration crisis, but is struggling to cope.

WOMAN (through interpreter): And 398, 399, very big family, many people. Can I see? Oh, that’s perfect.

MALCOLM BRABANT: This is a registration center in Gothenburg, Sweden’s second city. The system is straining at the seams, as genuine refugees and economic migrants alike seize the opportunity for a new life.

The numbers coming into Sweden far exceed those anticipated by the government. The latest figures today show that, in the past seven days, there have been 8,300 people who have applied for asylum. Now, during the course of a whole month, that amounts to more than 30,000 people. Over three months, it equates to 1 percent of the whole Swedish population.

The head of the migration board says, we’re coming to the end of the road. Sweden regards itself as the humanitarian conscience of the world and there is genuine pride that the country is trying to provide the newcomers with a soft landing. But the sheer volume of asylum seekers has taken the authorities by surprise.

PERNILLE WALLIN, Head, Asylum Application Service: We are working from 8:00 in the morning to 7:30 p.m. in the evening seven days a week now.

MALCOLM BRABANT: Do you see an increase in the numbers coming or is it dying down?

PERNILLE WALLIN: It’s an increase. It’s getting more and more every day. Last week, we had 250 altogether. Now we have 310 with them. So, it’s getting more, more and more people.

MALCOLM BRABANT: And how do you anticipate it will grow?

PERNILLE WLLIN: I think it will get higher for a couple of weeks, and then maybe slowly getting fewer seeking protection because of the weather situation in Southern Europe.

MALCOLM BRABANT: Haidar, a 22-year-old videographer from Iraq, is one of the newest arrivals. He spent time in Mosul occupied by the so-called Islamic State and recently escaped from kidnappers. He asked not to be identified.

HAIDAR, Iraqu Journalist/Refugee: I am grateful for the Sweden — for Sweden people and for the government, because they are opening their doors for us, because we had no home, no nothing. We don’t have money. We don’t have a home. We don’t have a place to go. So, we are so grateful for them.

MALCOLM BRABANT: In Trelleborg, a small port town with direct ferry links to Germany, the local council is struggling to accommodate a surge in unaccompanied minors, mainly boys aged under 18 from Afghanistan.

MAN: In my country is Taliban war.

MALCOLM BRABANT: In the past week, Trelleborg has taken in almost 1,000 children, which represents a 2 percent increase in the town’s population.

CECILIA LEJON, Trelleborg Council: Oh, it was another world before. Before, we had, like, two new kids every week, and we thought that that was really a lot. We thought that was a pressure on Trelleborg. And now there are 100 a day. So, we have got some new perspective on this.

MALCOLM BRABANT: Her deputy, Patrik Mullerstrom, is having to be inventive to try to find enough places to accommodate the unaccompanied minors.

PATRIK MULLERSTROM, Trelleborg Council: We have people working on getting properties for new housings. And they’re looking at every single housing in the city, old abandoned offices, like this, the museum. We’re staying away from school gymnasiums, because we don’t want to disrupt the regular city activities. But we’re really looking around.

MALCOLM BRABANT: Malmo, Sweden’s third city, is seeing the biggest influx. This is a magnet for newcomers because the city already has a large migrant population.

And again here, the council is trying to find shelter for 1,000 unaccompanied minors and is competing with the migration board to find accommodation.

Center-right economist Tino Sanandaji, originally from Iranian Kurdistan, is highly critical of the Social Democrat government’s open-door policy.

TINO SANANDAJI, Economist: I think it’s quite disastrous, and especially if it continues. If it continues, this is an irreversible social experiment that no wealthy state has ever attempted. And there is a palpable sense of crisis, but there is really almost no ideas or visions and so on about how this can be solved.

They’re just sort of postponing it to the future. And, temporarily, they are using, I would argue, politically correct spin to calm the public.

MALCOLM BRABANT: Sweden’s immigration minister, Morgan Johansson, wasn’t available for interview this week, but I spoke to him just over a month ago.

What do you say to those people who think that your immigration policy, your open-door policy, is naive?

MORGAN JOHANSSON, Migration Minister, Sweden: I say that this is — we are now suffering from one of the worst humanitarian crises in our time, seeing the people running, fleeing from Syria, over 12 million people, from the war.

And I would say, if you say like that, if you put it like that, just turn on your television set and see for yourself what these people are fleeing from. We, as a country, has an obligation to help.

MALCOLM BRABANT: The government has acknowledged that Sweden will have to implement extraordinary measures. It forecasts a difficult autumn, although it insists the country can cope.

In Ystad, Abed has a message for worried Swedes.

ABED ALLMUGHARBEL: I hope one day to go back to Syria when the war is over. Everyone here will hope — hoping — is hoping to go back to Syria when the war is over.

MALCOLM BRABANT: Abed hopes to be an asset to Sweden. But amongst the growing number of skeptics, there is a fear that many of his fellow newcomers will be a drain on society.

For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Malcolm Brabant in Sweden.

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The secret Pentagon command that tried to plant a fake bomb in D.C.

In September 2003, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal was appointed commanding general of the Joint Special Operations Command.
         Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

In September 2003, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal was appointed commanding general of the Joint Special Operations Command. Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

The Joint Special Operations Command has become one of the most important cogs in the U.S. war machine.

Known as JSOC, it is part of the Department of Defense. It oversees the army’s elite Delta Force fighters, the Navy Seals and a fleet of drones. It has played a major role in the U.S. response to 9/11 — and in every theater of the Global War on Terror: Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, now Syria.

But where did it come from? How has it grown? And what role does it play in the fight against ISIS? We turn to Sean Naylor, author of a new book, “Relentless Strike: the Secret History of Joint Special Operations Command.

P.J. Tobia interviewed Naylor for this week’s Shortwave.

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China unveils the world’s largest 3-D printer

Photo by Beijing Design Week.

Photo by Beijing Design Week.

VULCAN, the world’s largest 3-D printed architectural structure, was recently unveiled during Beijing Design Week 2015.

The pavilion, which is displayed in Beijing’s Parkview Green was constructed from 1,023 individually printed 3-D units and measures 26.5 feet in length and 9.5 feet in height, according to Inhabitat. Twenty large-scale 3-D printers were used to complete the units that assemble the pavilion, as described on the site Designboom. The white undulating lattice structure resembles a volcano, hence the name Vulcan, the Latin term for volcano. Silkworm cocoons inspired the architects behind the design, Yu Lei and Xu Feng of the Laboratory for Creative Design.

3-D printing creates three-dimensional objects from computer-generated designs. A design can be made using digital or animation modeling software like computer-aided design, which can then be sent to a 3-D printer, as explained in Mashable. Rubber and plastic can be used to make these designs.

Previously, only small-scale objects from industries ranging from fashion to medicine could be 3-D-printed. There has been much discussion about how 3D printing could transform the architecture and construction industries.

VULCAN was just awarded the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest 3-D printed structure.

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News Wrap: Russia launches missile strikes in Syria

SOCHI, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 06: Russian President Vladimir Putin awaits to greet
         Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon during their meeting at Bocharov Ruchey State Residence on October 6, 2015 in Sochi, Russia.
         (Photo by Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)

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HARI SREENIVASAN: In a moment, Judy’s and Gwen’s headline interviews with Hillary Clinton and Bill and Melinda Gates, but first the day’s news, starting with Clinton’s decision to oppose the Trans-Pacific trade agreement. It’s her biggest break yet with President Obama, but she says the deal does too much for big drug companies and not enough to create jobs.

Russia sharply escalated its military campaign in Syria today, adding missile might to an aerial assault. It came in conjunction with a new ground offensive. They launched from Russian warships in the Caspian Sea, as seen in Russian military video, 26 medium-range cruise missiles streaking toward Syria.

Russian animation showed the missiles flew more than 900 miles, crossing Iran and Iraq, aimed at targets in Raqqa and Aleppo provinces, plus Idlib province to the northwest. Amateur video appeared to show some of the missile strikes were timed to coincide with a Syrian ground assault in Idlib and Hama provinces.

From Moscow, meeting with his defense minister, President Vladimir Putin praised the results.

PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN, Russia (through interpreter): The fact that we have performed strikes with precision weapons from the Caspian Sea area to the distance of 1,500 kilometers and hit all the planned targets means good advance preparation of the military industrial sector and good training of the staff.

HARI SREENIVASAN: But plenty of questions remained about who’s taking the brunt of Russia’s air campaign. Turkish leaders claimed again today the real targets are moderate rebels fighting the Assad government.

AHMET DAVUTOGLU, Prime Minister, Turkey (through interpreter): These airstrikes are not carried out against the Islamic State. Russian air forces carried out 57 airstrikes, and according to the information we received, only two of these airstrikes are against Islamic State.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The head of one American-trained rebel faction confirmed that Russian planes have bombed his weapons depots in Aleppo and Homs.

And in Italy, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter echoed the complaint.

ASHTON CARTER, Secretary of Defense: They continue to hit targets that are not ISIL. We believe this is a fundamental mistake. Despite what the Russians say, we have not agreed to cooperate with Russia, so long as they continue to pursue a mistaken strategy and hit these targets.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Meanwhile, Russia’s military buildup in the Eastern Mediterranean has escalated over the last week, now including 10 navy ships, a number described by NATO officials as out of the ordinary.

A rebel group supported by the U.S. says Russian soldiers are taking part in the Syrian ground offensive. The Russians deny sending in any ground troops.

There’s word the FBI has foiled repeated attempts in Eastern Europe to smuggle radioactive material to Middle Eastern extremists. The Associated Press reported the findings today. It cited four incidents in the past five years, the latest in February involving gangs with suspected Russian ties. In that case, a smuggler sought a buyer from the Islamic State group.

President Obama apologized today for a deadly airstrike in Kunduz, Afghanistan. Last Friday’s attack killed at least 22 people at a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders. Mr. Obama telephoned the group’s president today.

JOSH EARNEST, White House Press Secretary: He believed that it was appropriate for the United States to do what we have done before, which is to acknowledge that a mistake had been made, to offer an apology, to do so in a transparent way, to own up to our mistakes, and to vow to carry out a full investigation of to get to the bottom of what exactly happened, so that we can learn from this incident.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Doctors Without Borders has called for an independent investigation, but the White House says the president didn’t directly address that demand today.

A defense bill worth $612 billion is headed to the president’s desk, despite a veto threat. The Senate approved it today 70-27, enough to override a veto. It already has passed in the House. The president objects to the way Congress provided the money by padding a war-fighting account and denying new money for domestic agencies.

France and Germany joined forces today, urging the European Union not to fracture under the strain of debt and refugees. French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel appeared before the European Parliament, and Hollande warned against returning to go-it-alone nationalism.

PRESIDENT FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, France (through interpreter): Focusing on sovereign interest is a road to decline and it’s also dangerous not to give a people hope, not to build anything together, but to turn in on each other, without any future. Faced with these trials, I am convinced that if we don’t go further, it will be the end of the European project.

HARI SREENIVASAN: For her part, Merkel said Europe faces a test of historic proportions.

The flood disaster in South Carolina surged toward the coast today. One swollen river crested at record levels in Kingstree, and Conway and Georgetown braced for bad news as well. Back around Columbia, crews worked to shore up the 52-year-old Beaver Dam. But the governor rejected criticism that many of the state’s dams have fallen into disrepair.

GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R), South Carolina: You have got a 1,000-year flood. And out of thousands of dams, right now, we’re watching 62 of them; 13 have failed. Look at the proportion of that. And even of the ones they’re working on, when you have floods of this magnitude, it is really amazing that we have not had more issues than we have had.

HARI SREENIVASAN: More than 400 roads and bridges are also being checked and remain closed for now. Long-distance traffic on part of Interstate 95 is having to make a 170-mile detour.

Authorities in Roseburg, Oregon, have issued a detailed new account on how a gunman died after killing nine people at a community college. They say Chris Harper Mercer was wounded by police, then shot himself in a classroom in front of his dead and wounded victims.

Meanwhile, “People” magazine is publishing the names and phone numbers of every member of Congress in an effort to encourage action to decrease gun violence.

The Nobel Prize for Chemistry was presented today to three scientists who discovered how the human body repairs its own DNA. The honorees are Tomas Lindahl of Sweden, Aziz Sancar of Turkey and American Paul Modrich. Nobel officials say their research is leading to new treatments for cancer and other diseases.

GUNNAR VON HEIJNE, Secretary, The Nobel Committee for Chemistry: It is based on the idea that cancer cells already have kind of a weakened DNA repair system. So then if you can come in with a drug that makes the DNA repair systems even less functional, the cancer cells will really go bad, because they cannot repair at all their DNA anymore. And very quickly, this will degrade the DNA and the cancer cells cannot survive.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Scientists estimate human DNA is damaged daily by everything from solar radiation to cigarette smoke to pollution.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 120 points to close at 16912. The Nasdaq rose more than 40 points, and the S&P 500 added 16.

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