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Heartbreaking Migrant Images, China Troop Cuts, 3 Trillion Trees

Heartbreaking Migrant Images, China Troop Cuts, 3 Trillion Trees

HEARTBREAKING IMAGES SHOW HORROR OF MIGRANT CRISIS

Shocking photographs of the body of a Syrian toddler, whose body had washed up on a Turkish beach after his family’s failed attempt to reach Europe, are sparking global outcry. The first of the images shows a Syrian boy identified as Aylan Kurdi, 3, face down on the beach of the southwestern resort town of Bodrum. A subsequent shot shows a Turkish police officer carrying the boy’s lifeless body. The photos made the front pages of some newspapers around the world today, though some editors chose not to publish the images in line with longstanding journalistic practice to avoid shocking readers. See how some of the world’s top newspapers chose to feature them.

  • Meanwhile, hundreds of migrants stormed Budapest’s main railway station, which reopened its doors today after a two-day standoff, Die Welt reports.
  • But an announcement said that international trains to Western Europe had been suspended “indefinitely.”
  • About 3,000 people â€" mostly people fleeing war in the Middle East â€" are camping around Budapest’s Keleti station, a Libération reporter on site says.
  • Hungary’s anti-migrant Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said the refugees couldn’t leave Hungary without being registered, the BBC reports. Most of the migrants in Hungary have been refusing to register there, hoping to reach Germany before seeking asylum.

YEMEN MOSQUE BOMBING KILLS 32

Two ISIS suicide bombings against a Shia mosque in Yemen’s capital Sanaa have left 32 people dead and 92 wounded, Al Arabiya reports. A man wearing an explosive belt reportedly blew himself up as worshippers were leaving the mosque, before another man detonated his vehicle packed with explosives as people came to rescue the victims.


ON THIS DAY


Writer and abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass escaped slavery 177 years ago today. That and more in your shot of history.


MALAYSIA BOAT CAPSIZES, KILLS 14

At least 14 people died when an overloaded wooden boat reportedly carrying dozens of immigrants sank off the Malaysian coast today, Reuters quoted maritime officials as saying. The boat was believed to be heading to Indonesia after leaving Malaysia’s Selangor state. Southeast Asia has been facing a huge migrant crisis since May, when Thai authorities launched a crackdown on people-smuggling gangs.


GUATEMALAN PRESIDENT RESIGNS

Photo: Luis Echeverria/Xinhua/ZUMA

Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina resigned from office late yesterday, hours after police issued an arrest warrant against him and days before a presidential election, The Guardian reports. Guatemala’s parliament voted to withdraw his immunity amid a growing corruption scandal in which he is accused of being part of a customs fraud ring that gave discounts on important tariffs to companies, in exchange for kickbacks. He has denied these allegations, suggesting he’s the target of a plot. His current whereabouts are unknown, but his lawyer said that, if charged, Pérez Molina would turn himself in to authorities.


WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

Conventional business wisdom now calls for employee “flexibility.” But too often that leads to work and rest becoming so intermingled that a hard-earned freedom gets lost, Alexander Hagelüken writes for Süddeutsche Zeitung. “Germany’s Employer’s Association wants to abolish the eight-hour working day, which has long been used as a benchmark as to how long an employee can be expected to work,” he writes. “Business leaders insist that they do not want staff to work any longer than eight hours a day, but rather create more flexibility in view of changing lifestyles and growing global competition. But the question remains as to what that will mean for employees in Germany, where the boundaries between work and rest are becoming increasingly blurred. Some 16% of Germans complain about the fact that their gainful employment is increasingly leading to an overlapping of work and time spent with family.”

Read the full article, From Germany, A Call To Save The Eight-Hour Work Day.


CHINA ANNOUNCES MASSIVE TROOP CUTS

China is set to cut the number of its troops by 300,000, Xinhua quoted President Xi Jinping as saying today as the country held a military parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of China’s World War II victory over Japan. “Prejudice and discrimination, hatred and war can only cause disaster and pain,” Xi said. “China will always uphold the path of peaceful development.” The number of Chinese troops has been cut three times since the 1980s. The defense ministry said the cuts would be effective by the end of 2017. According to Reuters, the move is likely part of military plans that aim to spend more money on high-tech weapons for the navy and air force. A report by the Taiwanese defense ministry says that China is currently building two aircraft carriers, which could be the same size as its sole 60,000-ton carrier, Reuters reports.


MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD



3 TRILLION

That’s a 3 followed by 12 0s, and it’s approximately the number of trees on Earth, according to the science journal Nature. That’s eight times more than what was previously estimated (about 400 billion). A team of scientists from Yale University found that most of these trees (1.39 trillion) were located in the tropics and subtropics. They also say about 15 billion trees are cut down every year, with only 5 million being planted back.

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Society

What It Means When The Jews Of Germany No Longer Feel Safe

A neo-Nazi has been buried in the former grave of a Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender – not an oversight, but a deliberate provocation. This is just one more example of antisemitism on the rise in Germany, and society's inability to respond.

At a protest against antisemitism in Berlin

Eva Marie Kogel

-Essay-

BERLIN — If you want to check the state of your society, there's a simple test: as the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, John Jay McCloy, said in 1949, the touchstone for a democracy is the well-being of Jews. This litmus test is still relevant today. And it seems Germany would not pass.


Incidents are piling up. Most recently, groups of neo-Nazis from across the country traveled to a church near Berlin for the funeral of a well-known far-right figure. He was buried in the former grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender, a gravesite chosen deliberately by the right-wing extremists.

The incident at the cemetery

They intentionally chose a Jewish grave as an act of provocation, trying to gain maximum publicity for this act of desecration. And the cemetery authorities at the graveyard in Stahnsdorf fell for it. The church issued an immediate apology, calling it a "terrible mistake" and saying they "must immediately see whether and what we can undo."

There are so many incidents that get little to no media attention.

It's unfathomable that this burial was allowed to take place at all, but now the cemetery authorities need to make a decision quickly about how to put things right. Otherwise, the grave may well become a pilgrimage site for Holocaust deniers and antisemites.

The incident has garnered attention in the international press and it will live long in the memory. Like the case of singer-songwriter Gil Ofarim, who recently claimed he was subjected to antisemitic abuse at a hotel in Leipzig. Details of the crime are still being investigated. But there are so many other incidents that get little to no media attention.

Photo of the grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

The grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

Jens Kalaene/dpa/ZUMA

Crimes against Jews are rising

Across all parts of society, antisemitism is on the rise. Until a few years ago, Jewish life was seen as an accepted part of German society. Since the attack on the synagogue in Halle in 2019, the picture has changed: it was a bitter reminder that right-wing terror against Jewish people has a long, unbroken history in Germany.

Stories have abounded about the coronavirus crisis being a Jewish conspiracy; meanwhile, Muslim antisemitism is becoming louder and more forceful. The anti-Israel boycott movement BDS rears its head in every debate on antisemitism, just as left-wing or post-colonial thinking are part of every discussion.

Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

Since 2015, the number of antisemitic crimes recorded has risen by about a third, to 2,350. But victims only report around 20% of cases. Some choose not to because they've had bad experiences with the police, others because they're afraid of the perpetrators, and still others because they just want to put it behind them. Victims clearly hold out little hope of useful reaction from the state – so crimes go unreported.

And the reality of Jewish life in Germany is a dark one. Sociologists say that Jewish children are living out their "identity under siege." What impact does it have on them when they can only go to nursery under police protection? Or when they hear Holocaust jokes at school?

Germany needs to take its antisemitism seriously

This shows that the country of commemorative services and "stumbling blocks" placed in sidewalks as a memorial to victims of the Nazis has lost its moral compass. To make it point true north again, antisemitism needs to be documented from the perspective of those affected, making it visible to the non-Jewish population. And Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

That is the first thing. The second is that we need to talk about specifically German forms of antisemitism. For example, the fact that in no other EU country are Jewish people so often confronted about the Israeli government's policies (according to a survey, 41% of German Jews have experienced this, while the EU average is 28%). Projecting the old antisemitism onto the state of Israel offers people a more comfortable target for their arguments.

Our society needs to have more conversations about antisemitism. The test of German democracy, as McCloy called it, starts with taking these concerns seriously and talking about them. We need to have these conversations because it affects all of us. It's about saving our democracy. Before it's too late.

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