IRAN VIOLATED MISSILE BAN, UN SAYS
A United Nations Security Council's Panel of Experts has accused Iran of violating a UN resolution by test-firing a missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead on Oct. 10, Al Jazeera reports. â€œOn the basis of its analysis and findings, the Panel concludes that Emad launch is a violation by Iran of paragraph 9 of Security Council resolution 1929,â€ Reuters quoted the panelâ€™s report. This could trigger new Security Council sanctions on Iran, although they would require Russia and Chinaâ€™s agreement. Tehran has disputed the assessment that the missile could carry a nuclear warhead and says that the rocket test was not a violation of the historic nuclear deal signed in July by Iran and world powers. Iran added that new sanctions would jeopardize the deal.
NIGERIA ACCUSED OF SHIA MASSACRE
Nigerian authorities have been accused in recent days of having killed hundreds of Shia protesters on Saturday in the northern town of Zaria, as France 24 reports. Police spokesman Zubairu Abdullahi, quoted by Al Jazeera, has denied these killings, instead accusing the protesters of attacking a police station. â€œWe only repelled the sect who attempted to attack our station," he said. Some reports mention â€œhundredsâ€ of Shia Muslims killed by Nigerian authorities in three days, others say up to 1,000 protesters may have been killed. The television network Press TV in Shia-dominated Iran describes the situation as a â€œplot to exterminate African Muslims.â€
U.S. REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES DEBATE SECURITY
The fifth Republican presidential debate took place last night in Las Vegas, focusing on national security, foreign policy, surveillance and immigration in the wake of the Paris and San Bernardino attacks. Among the many heated exchanges between candidates, Donald Trump stood by his declaration that he would ban Muslims from entering the U.S. if elected. Rival Jeb Bush called Trump the â€œchaos candidate,â€ who would be a â€œchaos president.â€
The Washington Post writes that the candidates â€œframed their final debate of the year around a single question: Which of them is best equipped â€" by background, tough-mindedness and leadership abilities â€" to protect the country against terrorism?â€
ON THIS DAY
Dasvidaniya, Rasputin â€¦ Moscowâ€™s mad monk is in your 57-second shot of history.
FED WATCH: INTEREST RATES TO RISE AFTER 7 YEARS
The U.S. Federal Reserve is set to raise interest rates for the first time since 2008, when they were cut to almost 0% in response to the financial crisis, Bloomberg reports. The rate is expected be raised gradually, at 0.25 percentage points at a time. Federal Reserve officials have been signaling the move for several weeks as to not cause turmoil in markets around the world.
An Indonesian woman works in a field in Probolinggo, East Java, as Mount Bromo spews columns of ash up to 1.5 km high. The volcano, one of Indonesiaâ€™s 129 active volcanoes, erupted Tuesday, and though it caused no damage, authorities warned residents about the risks of an ever larger eruption.
PAKISTAN REMEMBERS PESHAWAR SCHOOL MASSACRE
Pakistan is observing the first anniversary of the Peshawar school massacre in which Taliban gunmen killed 144 people, including 122 children, on this day last year. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif declared Dec. 16 a day of â€œnational educational resolve,â€ The Express Tribune reports. This is how national daily Dawn covered the news.
A slow, half-hearted response to Brazil's worst-ever ecological disaster is producing immeasurable damage to the environment and to the indigenous communities, Thiago Amâncio writes for Brazilian daily Folha de S. Paulo: â€œMining company Samarco, which controlled the dam, has taken some measures since the Nov. 5 collapse. But the response has been piecemeal, and came only after the company â€" a joint-venture owned by Vale and the Anglo-Australian BHP Billiton â€" was pressured to do so by the Brazilian Justice Department, local authorities, environmental organizations and the prosecutor's office. Samarcoâ€™s actions have been mostly aimed at limiting the impact caused by the toxic mud. ... But the concrete actions to try and ease the damage and destruction only came after urgent calls by environmental officials in the neighboring coastal state of Espirito Santo, where the mud was flowing.â€
Read the full article, After Brazil Dam Burst, Mining Companyâ€™s Feeble Response.
U.S. DEFENSE CHIEF IN BAGHDAD TO STEP UP ISIS FIGHT
The U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter arrived in Baghdad Wednesday morning to meet with his commanders on the ground about stepping up the fight against ISIS, NBC News reports. Carter is also set to ask U.S. allies for a greater contribution in the anti-ISIS military campaign. The visit comes after U.S. authorities announced plans earlier this month to deploy elite teams to carry out raids against ISIS positions in Iraq and Syria.
LOS ANGELES SCHOOLS REOPEN AFTER THREATS
Authorities in Los Angeles decided the cityâ€™s 900 schools would reopen Wednesday after shutting them down Tuesday due to what was described as a credible terrorist threat, the Los Angeles Times reports. The threat, mentioning explosive devices, assault rifles and machine pistols, had been made via email to the Los Angeles Board of Education. Authorities in New York had dismissed a similar threat from the same sender as a hoax. This comes less than two weeks after two Islamic extremists killed 14 people in nearby San Bernardino.
MY GRAND-PÈREâ€™S WORLD
A restaurant in the Chinese city of Zhangjiagang, near Shanghai, has decided to make its customers pay a â€œclean air feeâ€ of 1 renminbi, or about $0.15, according to The New York Times. Clean air appears to be turning into a luxury in the over-polluted country.
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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