Germany Caught Between Its Past And Turkey

Turkey, past and present, is a particularly tough balancing act for Angela Merkel. On the one hand, Germany’s own past means its leaders face a bigger responsibility than those of other nations to officially recognize the 1915 killings of 1.5 million Armenians as a genocide. But Berlin knows that it is an immensely sensitive topic for Ankara, which has steadfastly denied that the historical event should be classified as “genocide,” and Turkey is both the homeland of Germany’s largest immigrant group, as well as a key partner in stemming the flow of migrants into the European Union that exploded last year.

A few days ago, the German weekly Der Spiegel revealed that Merkel’s government had agreed to “distance” itself from a resolution voted by the parliament in June to recognize the killings as a genocide. The motive behind Merkel’s declaration that the resolution was “not legally binding” was to encourage Turkey to lift its ban on German lawmakers visiting the German air base in Incirlik, southern Turkey â€" a retaliatory move that came after the June vote.

But negotiations with Ankara are no easy tasks. “If Germany continues to behave as it does now, we will consider it,” Turkish foreign minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu told Die Welt in an interview published today. But, he added, “if Germany tries to treat Turkey badly” then the ban would remain in place, insisting Ankara wouldn’t tolerate being considered a “second-class country.”

Berlin has big plans for its air base, which plays a key part in the fight against Islamic terror group ISIS, but many are wondering how far they must go to make sure that Ankara plays ball. With her leadership increasingly questioned, including in her own party, and general elections a year away, the line Merkel is walking both at home and abroad grows finer every day.



Activists are accusing the Syrian government forces of having used chlorine gas in barrel bombs dropped on an opposition-held neighborhood of Aleppo, Al Jazeera reports this morning. The activists say the attack yesterday killed one person and injured more than 100. A video obtained by the Qatari network shows children being treated for breathing difficulties.


The lower house of the Irish Parliament, the Dáil, will debate today the government’s decision to appeal the European Commission’s $14.5-billion Apple tax ruling, The Irish Examiner reports. The company was accused last week of passing a “sweetheart tax deal” with Irish tax authorities that resulted in Apple paying virtually no tax on its European earnings.


Includes 1930s footage of the last thylacine. The last what now? Check it out in your 57-second shot of history.


Nearly 50 million children have been uprooted worldwide, 28 million of them forced to flee their homes because of wars and conflicts, a new UNICEF report reveals. It also shows that children make up about half of all refugees around the world.


Frustration is the lifeblood of dictatorship, writes Jorge Eduardo Espinosa in Bogota-based El Espectador. The reference is to embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who wants to revoke lawmakers’ immunity from criminal prosecution. “Maduro has argued that opposition lawmakers are abusing their immunity to commit a range of offenses and abuses. And he's right: In a dictatorship like his, criticizing and acting in opposition to the existing power is an offense and an abuse. This is not Maduro's first such ploy against the opposition. Since taking their seats in parliament, he has repeatedly refused to recognize the mandate given them by millions of Venezuelans through the ballot box. Every day, it seems, he is prepared to go further.”

Read the full article, Venezuela: Maduro Turns To Police Power To Silent Dissent.


Danny Heinrich, a 53-year-old man who pleaded guilty to child pornography charges, confessed to abducting and killing 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling in Minnesota, almost 27 years later, The Star Tribune reports.


A low-intensity earthquake of magnitude 4.9 shook Tokyo earlier today, but there were no reports of casualties or damages, according to Reuters.


Shutterbug â€" Audincourt, 1960


Dilma Rousseff left the Palácio da Alvorada, the presidential residence in Brasilia, for the last time yesterday, less than a week after her impeachment. She was greeted by a group of supporters with flowers after she reached Porto Alegre, where she owns a house. According to Folha de S. Paulo, the ex-president will follow closely anti-impeachment protests scheduled for today, on Brazil’s Independence Day, but is planning to rest for the next two weeks.


Isabelle Dinoire, a French woman known for being the first face transplant recipient 11 years ago, has died, Le Figaro reports. The drugs she had to take to prevent a transplant rejection put her at risk of developing cancer, which was the reported cause of death. She was 49.



Ten months after the terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 130 people, including 89 at the Bataclan concert hall, it is now possible to virtually "conquer" the tragic music landmark thanks to the latest distasteful twist to the augmented-reality mobile game Pokémon Go. Read more about it here.

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Queen Elizabeth II with UK PM Boris Johnson at a reception at Windsor Castle yesterday

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Hej!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where chaos hits Syria, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro is accused of crimes against humanity and a social media giant plans to rebrand itself. For Spanish daily La Razon, reporter Paco Rodríguez takes us to the devastated town of Belchite, where visitors are reporting paranormal phenomenons.



• Syrian violence erupts: Army shelling on residential areas of the rebel-held region of northwestern Syria killed 13 people, with school children among the victims. The attack occurred shortly after a bombing killed at least 14 military personnel in Damascus. In central Syria, a blast inside an ammunition depot kills five soldiers.

• Renewed Ethiopia air raids on capital of embattled Tigray region: Ethiopian federal government forces have launched its second air strike this week on the capital of the northern Tigray. The air raids mark a sharp escalation in the near-year-old conflict between the government forces and the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF) that killed thousands and displaced over 2 million people.

• Bolsonaro accused of crimes against humanity: A leaked draft government report concludes that Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro should be charged with crimes against humanity, forging documents and incitement to crime, following his handling of the country's COVID-19 pandemic. The report blames Bolsonaro's administration for more than half of Brazil's 600,000 coronavirus deaths.

• Kidnappers in Haiti demand $17 million to free a missionary group: A Haitian gang that kidnapped 17 members of a Christian aid group, including five children, demanded $1million ransom per person. Most of those being held are Americans; one is Canadian.

• Putin bows out of COP26 in Glasgow: Russian President Vladimir Putin will not fly to Glasgow to attend the COP26 climate summit. A setback for host Britain's hopes of getting support from major powers for a more radical plan to tackle climate change.

• Queen Elizabeth II cancels trip over health concerns: The 95-year-old British monarch has cancelled a visit to Northern Ireland after she was advised by her doctors to rest for the next few days. Buckingham Palace assured the queen, who attended public events yesterday, was "in good spirits."

• A new name for Facebook? According to a report by The Verge website, Mark Zuckerberg's social media giant is planning on changing the company's name next week, to reflect its focus on building the "metaverse," a virtual reality version of the internet.


"Oil price rise causes earthquake," titles Portuguese daily Jornal I as surging demand coupled with supply shortage have driven oil prices to seven-year highs at more than $80 per barrel.



For the first time women judges have been appointed to Egypt's State Council, one of the country's main judicial bodies. The council's chief judge, Mohammed Hossam el-Din, welcomed the 98 new judges in a celebratory event in Cairo. Since its inception in 1946, the State Council has been exclusively male and until now actively rejected female applicants.


Spanish civil war town now a paranormal attraction

Ghosts from Spain's murderous 1930s civil war are said to roam the ruins of Belchite outside Zaragoza. Tourists are intrigued and can book a special visit to the town, reports Paco Rodríguez in Madrid-based daily La Razon.

🏚️ Between August 24 and September 6, 1937, during the Spanish Civil War, more than 5,000 people died in 14 days of intense fighting in Belchite in north-eastern Spain, and the town was flattened. The fighting began on the outskirts and ended in house-to-house fighting. Almost half the town's 3,100 residents died in the struggle. The war annihilated centuries of village history. The town was never rebuilt, though a Pueblo Nuevo (or new town) was built by the old one.

😱 Belchite became an open-air museum of the horror of the civil war of 1936-39, which left 300,000 dead and wounds that have yet to heal or, for some today, mustn't. For many locals, the battle of Belchite has yet to end, judging by reports of paranormal incidents. Some insist they have heard the screams of falling soldiers, while others say the Count of Belchite wanders the streets, unable to find a resting place after his corpse was exhumed.

🎟️ Ordinary visitors have encountered unusual situations. Currently, you can only visit Belchite at set times every day, with prior booking. More daring visitors can also visit at 10 p.m. on weekends. Your ticket does not include a guaranteed paranormal experience, but many visitors insist strange things have happened to them. These include sudden changes of temperature or the strange feeling of being observed from a street corner or a window. Furthermore, such phenomena increase as evening falls, as if night brought the devastated town to life.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


We still cling to the past because back then we had security, which is the main thing that's missing in Libya today.

— Fethi al-Ahmar, an engineer living in the Libyan desert town Bani Walid, told AFP, as the country today marks the 10-year anniversary of the death of dictator Muammar Gaddafi. The leader who had reigned for 42 years over Libya was toppled in a revolt inspired by the Arab Spring uprisings and later killed by rebels. Some hope the presidential elections set in December can help the country turn the page on a decade of chaos and instability.


Iran to offer Master's and PhD in morality enforcement

Iran will create new "master's and doctorate" programs to train state morality agents checking on people's public conduct and attire, according to several Persian-language news sources.

Mehran Samadi, a senior official of the Headquarters to Enjoin Virtues and Proscribe Vices (Amr-e be ma'ruf va nahy az monkar) said "anyone who wants to enjoin virtues must have the knowledge," the London-based broadcaster Iran International reported, citing reports from Iran.

The morality patrols, in force since the 1979 revolution, tend to focus mostly on young people and women, particularly the public appearance for the latter. Loose headscarves will send women straight to a police station, often in humiliating conditions. Five years ago, the regime announced a new force of some 7,000 additional agents checking on women's hijabs and other standards of dress and behavior.

Last week, for example, Tehran police revealed that they had "disciplined" agents who had been filmed forcefully shoving a girl into a van. Such incidents may increase under the new, conservative president, Ibrahim Raisi.

Speaking about the new academic discipline, Samadi said morals go "much further than headscarves and modesty," and those earning graduate degrees would teach agents "what the priorities are."

Iran's Islamic regime, under the guidance of Shia jurists, continuously fine tunes notions of "proper" conduct — and calibrates its own, interventionist authority. More recently the traffic police chief said women were not allowed to ride motorbikes, and "would be stopped," Prague-based Radio Farda reported.

Days before, a cleric in the holy city of Qom in central Iran insisted that people must be vaccinated by a medic of the same sex "as often as possible," and if not, there should be no pictures of mixed-sex vaccinations.

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

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