LIBYA POLICE SCHOOL BOMBED
At least 65 people were killed this morning after a truck bomb exploded at a police training center in Zliten, Libya, the BBC reports. Reuters reports that hundreds of recruits were gathered at the center when the explosion occurred. Martin Kobler, the UNâ€™s special representative to Libya, characterized the blast as a suicide attack. No organization has claimed responsibility yet, though various terrorist groups, including ISIS, have been fighting in Libya since the 2011 revolution.
ATTACKER TARGETS PARIS POLICE ON HEBDO ANNIVERSARY
As France marks todayâ€™s one-year anniversary of theCharlie Hebdo terrorist attack that left 12 people in Paris dead, a man armed with a knife and wearing a fake suicide vest charged a Paris police station this morning yelling â€œAllahu Akbar,â€ Arabic for â€œGod is great,â€ France's Interior Ministry said. Police shot and killed him before he hurt anyone, and are now considering the would-be attack an act of terrorism.
Last yearâ€™s deadly blitz on the satirical newsweekly was carried out by two gunmen whoâ€™d pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda's branch in Yemen. They killed eight staff members in retaliation for the publication of caricatures depicting the Prophet Mohammed. Hereâ€™s a sample of recent Worldcrunch coverage:
- The Paris correspondent of Swiss daily Le Temps offers a troubling view of growing Islamic radicalism in France.
- Le Monde reports on the state of French comedy in the year since the attacks.
- French newspaper Lâ€™Humanité dailyâ€™s front page Thursday is here on Le Blog.
IRAN ACCUSES SAUDI IN YEMEN ATTACK
Tensions between arch-enemies Iran and Saudi Arabia escalated further today after Tehran accused Saudi warplanes of attacking its embassy in Yemenâ€™s capital of Sanaa, where both countries have been fighting a cold war of sorts. Iran and Saudi Arabia have been at odds since Saturdayâ€™s Saudi execution of a Shia cleric and the subsequent mob attack on the Saudi embassy in Tehran. Sanaa experienced its heaviest attacks from the Saudi-led coalition today in the months-long war against Iran-supported Shia Houthi rebels, Reutersreports. Human Rights Watch has denounced the coalitionâ€™s use of cluster bombs on residential areas, saying the â€œreckless useâ€ of such weapons in populated areas â€œamounts to a war crime.â€
Photo: Damien N via Instagram
For the first time in 14 years, the popular Canal Saint-Martin in Paris is being drained for cleaning and rebuilding purposes. In the muck, cleaners found innumerable bicycles belonging to the cityâ€™s popular Velib bike-sharing program, and even a motor scooter.
ISRAELI TOURIST BUS TARGETED IN CAIRO
Two masked gunmen on a motorcycle fired at a bus transporting Israeli tourists outside their hotel in Cairo,Haaretz reports. Early reports said they were no casualties.
Five centuries after Spanish conquistadors took over Mexico, Mexican billionaires are busy buying up chunks of Spain, Hebe Schmidt reports for America Economia. After four years of recession, it was the perfect match between cash-rich customers and a needy economy. â€œMexican investors are sinking their pesos both in strategic sectors, and on a scale that is leaving local observers awed. Antonio Hernández, an energy and international strategy partner at the Spain offices of international consultants KPMG, says Mexico has become the sixth-largest foreign investor in Spain and No. 2 outside of the European Union. A 2013 study estimated accumulated investments valued at almost $21.5 billion.â€
Read the full article, Mexican Money (Big Money!) Goes Shopping in Spain.
S. KOREA TO RESUME PROPAGANDA
South Korea will resume its cross-border propaganda broadcasts against the North Korean regime in response to Pyongyangâ€™s nuclear bomb test, officials announced today. The broadcasts are expected to resume beginning tomorrow, Yonhap news agency reports, explaining that the decision could â€œfurther escalate tensionsâ€ between the two countries. North Korea had previously threatened â€œstrong military actionâ€ against such broadcasts. The United Nations has condemned what North Korea claimed was a hydrogen bomb test conducted yesterday anddemanded the country cease all nuclear activities.
Just 20 days after its release, J.J Abramsâ€™ Star Wars: The Force Awakens has overtaken James Cameronâ€™sAvatar to become the highest-grossing film of all time in North America. Disney hasnâ€™t released the official figure, simply announcing that the seventh installment in the Star Wars series had passed Avatarâ€™s record of $760.5 million, established in 34 weeks. But Avatar still leads the global box office with $2.79 billion worldwide.
CHINA HALTS TRADING AFTER STOCK DROP
For the second time this week, China trading was halted this morning, this time after just 29 minutes that saw the CSI 300 index plunge by more than 7% following the biggest devaluation of the countryâ€™s RMB currency since August 2015, Bloomberg reports. The much-criticized automatic â€œcircuit breakerâ€ was also triggered Monday, increasing worries over the state of Chinaâ€™s economy.
MY GRAND-PÈREâ€™S WORLD
L.A. SUBURBâ€™S METHANE EMERGENCY
California Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency over a massive methane gas leak that started in a Los Angeles suburb three months ago,PBS reports. Yesterdayâ€™s decision to take â€œall necessary and viable actionsâ€ came after numerous requests from people in the community of Porter Ranch. An estimated 80,000 metric tons of methane have leaked since late October.
VENEZUELAâ€™S POLITICAL DRAMA CONTINUES
The newly elected, opposition-dominated Venezuelan Congress has sworn in three lawmakers that had been barred from their seats by the countryâ€™s Supreme Court over allegations of electoral fraud. Itâ€™s the latest development in the confrontation between the right-wing opposition and the government of President Nicolás Maduro. The new lawmakers also had all portraits of late leader Hugo Chavéz removed from the National Assembly building.
ON THIS DAY
On the first anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo attack, today's 57-second shot of history remembers the Paris shooting.
EBOLA TREATMENT INEFFECTIVE
An experimental treatment against the deadly Ebola virus, which consists of blood plasma transfusions from survivors and was believed to be very promising, has proved to be ineffective, scientists have announced. Read more from The New York Times.
LEMMYâ€™S FUNERAL TO BE AIRED LIVE
Lemmy Kilmister, Motörheadâ€™s late leader, will go out in röck â€˜n röll style with a Los Angeles funeral broadcast live on YouTube.
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.
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.
The grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender
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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