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Jihadi John Killed?, Beirut Bloodied, Algorithm Culture

Jihadi John Killed?, Beirut Bloodied, Algorithm Culture

“JIHADI JOHN” BELIEVED DEAD AFTER U.S. AIR STRIKE, ISIS STRIKES BEIRUT

ISIS terrorist Mohammed Emwazi, better known by the nickname “Jihadi John,” was the target of a U.S. airstrike in the Syrian city of Raqqa and U.S. officials believe with a “high degree of certainty” that he was killed, the BBC reports. “Jihadi John,” a British citizen born in Kuwait, is believed to be responsible for the beheadings of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff as well as British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning. At least one other person is believed to have died in the airstrike.

  • ISIS has claimed responsibility for a Beirut bombing that killed at least 43 in what is being described as the most deadly attack since Lebanon’s civil war ended in 1990. See coverage from Beirut daily L’Orient Le Jour in our Extra! feature.
  • The U.S. and its allies in the anti-ISIS coalition are also stepping up their airstrikes against Syrian oil fields controlled by the terrorists,The New York Times reports. The sale of crude oil is believed to bring about $40 million a month to ISIS’ war chest.
  • Kurdish fighters are making quick progress in their fight to retake the northern Iraqi city of Sinjar, having entered the town and begun clearing it of ISIS jihadists, according to theBBC. The Iraqi army meanwhile has renewed its attempts to recapture the town of Ramadiand said they were advancing on three fronts.

LANDSLIDE VICTORY FOR MYANMAR’S SUU KYI

Photo: U Aung/Xinhua/ZUMA

Myanmar’s National League for Democracy party, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, was today officially declared the winner of last Sunday’s national elected, obtaining 348 of the Parliament’s 657 seats, The Irrawaddy reports. The announcement comes on the five-year anniversary of Suu Kyi’s release from house arrest, where the 70-year-old Nobel Peace Prize Winner was detained for 15 years.


ON THIS DAY

Happy birthday Whoopi Goldberg! This and more in your 57-second shot of history.


VERBATIM

“Avalanches can be triggered if any careless skier hits the slopes and moves a little snow,” German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said in thinly-veiled criticism of Angela Merkel’s “migrants welcome” policy. Schäuble, one of the most powerful members of Merkel’s cabinet, has grown critical of the ongoing migrant crisis, describing it as a “rendezvous of our society with globalization,” and urged more European cooperation. EU leaders meanwhile agreed to offer 3 billion euros to Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in exchange for his country’s help in stemming the flow of refugees.


HOLLANDE AND KERRY CLASH OVER COP21 DEAL

French President François Hollande insisted yesterday that the COP21 climate conference, which will start at the end of November in Paris, must result in an agreement that is legally binding, in response to comments from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry stating the opposite, Radio France Internationalereports. “If the agreement is not legally binding, there will be no agreement,” Hollande said. In an interview published on Wednesday in Financial Times, Kerry said there were “not going to be legally binding reduction targets” like that agreed in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which the U.S. Senate actually never ratified.


WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

Music, books and other intellectual artifacts are increasingly being produced automatically by machines. A new book explores the ways in which artists exploit this new reality, called “robotic dadaism,” Nic Ulmi reports for Le Temps: “After flourishing in the margins of artistic and intellectual production, robotic dadaism and uncreative writing are now becoming mainstream. David Cope participated in the creation of the JamBandit app, which enables users â€" even those who can't play an instrument â€" to improvise baroque, jazz or hard rock music with the cheek of a virtuoso.”

Read the full article, When Algorithms Create Our Culture.


$1.6 BILLION

An office tower became Hong Kong’s most expensive ever after its billionaire owner, Joseph Lau Luen-hung, sold it for $1.6 billion Thursday. This was the second record broken in two days by the fugitive tycoon found guilty of bribery in Macau. On Wednesday, he spent a whopping $48 million on “Blue Moon,” now the world’s most expensive diamond, for his 7-year-old daughter. Read more from the South China Morning Post.


MY GRAND-PERE’S WORLD



B-52 BOMBERS IN SOUTH CHINA SEA

Two U.S. B-52 bombers flew near artificial Chinese islands in disputed areas of the South China Sea claimed by Beijing and continued their mission despite warning by Chinese air controllers not to enter what they believe is China’s airspace, the Pentagon said Thursday. This comes amid growing U.S.-China tensions in the area, over what Beijing perceives as American provocations. President Barack Obama is expected to visit the region next week for Asia-Pacific summits where, according to Reuters, he will reassert his commitment to freedom of navigation and overflight in the disputed area.


SCARY 13

Today’s the worst day for anybody suffering from paraskevidekatriaphobia. We’re hoping this list of a few things to know about the Friday the 13th superstition will help. Good luck!

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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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