Europe’s Refugee Crisis, Palin’s Gaffe, Super Stonehenge

Europe’s Refugee Crisis, Palin’s Gaffe, Super Stonehenge


Photo: Ray Tang/Rex Shutterstock/ZUMA

The Austrian government has warned it could close its border to undocumented refugees after some 15,000 crossed the border from Hungary to Austria this weekend alone, Wiener Zeitung reports. But in neighboring Germany, the government has dedicated an extra 6 billion euros ($6.7 billion) to cope with the unprecedented influx of refugees, Deutsche Welle reports. Munich police estimated that 20,000 asylum seekers reached the Bavarian city over the weekend. They were welcomed at the train station by hundreds of Germans. According to Süddeutsche Zeitung, 10,000 more could arrive today.

  • There are now doubts about the origin of some refugees after German police seized packages Friday that contained fake Syrian passports to be sold to migrants. The EU’s border agency Frontex had warned before that smugglers had been selling fake Syrian documents in Turkey. Forged Syrian identities would give non-Syrians automatic eligibility for refugee status.
  • In his Sunday sermon, Pope Francis urged religious communities across Europe to take in refugee families, which he said would be a “concrete act of preparation” for the Jubilee Year of Mercy starting in December. The pontiff announced that two families will be offered shelter at the Vatican.
  • The United States, meanwhile, came under pressure from David Miliband, the head of the International Rescue Committee, to help Europe deal with the crisis.
  • Pressed by his opposition, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected calls for his country to take in refugees, arguing that Israel is “a very small country, with neither demographic or geographic depth.” Instead, he said work to erect an 18-mile fence on the border with Jordan would begin immediately, The Jerusalem Post reports.
  • Read more about what’s next for Austria’s refugees in our Extra! feature.


“When you’re here, let’s speak American.” That’s Sarah Palin’s call to immigrants who want to live in the United States. The debate was sparked by the fact that Republican candidate Jeb Bush recently answered a question in Spanish.


French President François Hollande has announced plans to expand French participation in the anti-ISIS coalition by launching reconnaissance flights over Syria starting tomorrow in preparation for an airstrikes campaign, Le Figaro reports. The French government has been actively supporting “moderate” rebels since the beginning of the Syrian war, and has also repeatedly called for President Bashar al-Assad to go. Hollande recently said that Assad’s “neutralization” was a pre-condition for peace. This comes amid signs that the U.S. and Russia, the latter an Assad supporter, could soon be fighting on opposite sides in Syrian skies.


The first Miss America pageant was held 94 years ago today. That and more in today’s shot of history.


It’s not just the economics of the media that’s putting traditional news photographers out of business. It’s our troubled relationship with images themselves, Michel Guerrin writes for Le Monde. “Photojournalist used to be a well-established occupation,” he writes. “You don’t hear about it now. ‘We’ve become invisible,’ says Christian Ducasse, of the French Union of Professional Photographers. In France, 36,000 people currently hold a press card, of which only 800 are photographers. And yet, there are still as many photographs in the media. The difference of course is that they now come from all over.”

Read the full article, The Inevitable Death Of Professional Photojournalism.


Israel is planning to destroy 17,000 Palestinian buildings, constructed without permits, in the occupied West Bank, plunging poor families into a “state of chronic uncertainty,” a UN report says.


Jimmy Morales, a TV comedian-turned-politician, appears to be the clear leader of Guatemala’s presidential vote yesterday, with Prensa Libre putting him at almost 26%. Early results suggest he will face center-right businessman and longtime politician Manuel Baldizon in a runoff to be held Oct. 25. The vote comes after a difficult week for Guatemalan democracy, which saw President Otto Pérez Molina resign and arrested over corruption charges.



An independent investigation by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights into the disappearance of 43 Mexican students nearly a year ago has rejected the government’s findings, El Universal reports. According to the international experts, there’s no evidence to support the government’s claim that the students’ bodies were burned beyond recognition at a landfill, which the families had also dismissed. While the report stops short of saying what exactly happened on Sept. 26, 2014, it presents several possible explanations, including the theory that the group of students, who were joining a mass demonstration, may have interfered with a drug shipment in which high-ranking officials were involved. The parents of the missing students have asked President Enrique Peña Nieto for an interview and called for a national demonstration.


Archaeologists have found a larger version of the prehistoric Stonehenge monument just one mile away, which they believe could have been buried as part of a religious revolution. Read more from The Independent.

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Chinese Students Now Required To Learn To Think Like Xi Jinping

'Xi Jinping Thought' ideas on socialism have been spreading across the country since 2017. But now, Beijing is going one step further by making them part of the curriculum, from the elementary level all the way up to university.

Children from Congtai Elementary School, Handan City, Hebei Province

Maximilian Kalkhof

BEIJING — It's important to strengthen the "determination to listen to and follow the party." Also, teaching materials should "cultivate patriotic feelings." So say the new guidelines issued by the Chinese Ministry of Education.

The goal is to help Chinese students develop more "Marxist beliefs," and for that, the government wants its national curriculum to include "Xi Jinping Thought," the ideas, namely, of China's current leader.

Xi Jinping has been the head of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for almost 10 years. In 2017, at a party convention, he presented a doctrine in the most riveting of party prose: "Xi Jinping's ideas of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new age."

Behind this word jam is a plan to consolidate the power of the nation, the party and Xi himself. In other words, to make China great again!

Communist curriculum replaces global subjects

This doctrine has sent shockwaves through China since 2017. It's been echoed in newspapers, on TV, and screamed from posters and banners hung in many cities. But now, the People's Republic is going one step further: It's bringing "Xi Jinping Thought" into the schools.

Starting in September, the country's 300 million students have had to study the doctrine, from elementary school into university. And in some cities, even that doesn't seem to be enough. Shanghai announced that its students from third to fifth grade would only take final exams in mathematics and Chinese, de facto deleting English as an examination subject. Beijing, in the meantime, announced that it would ban the use of unauthorized foreign textbooks in elementary and middle schools.

But how does a country that enchants its youth with socialist ideology and personality cults rise to become a world power? Isn't giving up English as a global language the quickest way into isolation?

The educational reform comes at a time when Beijing is brutally disciplining many areas of public life, from tech giants to the entertainment industry. It has made it difficult for Chinese technology companies to go public abroad, and some media have reported that a blanket ban on IPOs in the United States is on the cards in the next few years.

photo of books on a book shelf

Books about Xi-Jinping at the 2021 Hong Kong Book Fair

Alex Chan Tsz Yuk/SOPA Images/ZUMA

— Photo:

Targeting pop culture

The regime is also taking massive action against the entertainment industry. Popstar Kris Wu was arrested on charges of rape. Movies and TV series starring actor Zhao Wei have started to disappear from Chinese streaming platforms. The reason is unclear.

What the developments do show is that China is attempting to decouple from the West with increasing insistence. Beijing wants to protect its youth from Western excesses, from celebrity worship, super wealth and moral decline.

A nationalist blogger recently called for a "profound change in the economy, finance, culture and politics," a "revolution" and a "return from the capitalists to the masses." Party media shared the text on their websites. It appears the analysis caused more than a few nods in the party headquarters.

Dictatorships are always afraid of pluralism.

Caspar Welbergen, managing director of the Education Network China, an initiative that aims to intensify school exchanges between Germany and China, says that against this background, the curriculum reform is not surprising.

"The emphasis on 'Xi Jinping Thought' is being used in all areas of society," he says. "It is almost logical that China is now also using it in the education system."

Needless to say, the doctrine doesn't make student exchanges with China any easier.

Dictatorships are always afraid of color, pluralism and independent thinking citizens. And yet, Kristin Kupfer, a Sinology professor at the University of Trier, suggests that ideologically charged school lessons should not be interpreted necessarily as a sign of weakness of the CCP.

From the point of view of a totalitarian regime, she explains, this can also be interpreted as a signal of strength. "It remains to be seen whether the Chinese leadership can implement this so thoroughly," Kupfer adds. "Initial reactions from teachers and parents on social media show that such a widespread attempt to control opinion has raised fears and discontent in the population."

Die Welt
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