N. Korea’s nukes, First HIV remission, French Scrabble champ‏

N. Korea’s nukes, First HIV remission, French Scrabble champ‏

Photo: Li Jing/ZUMA


The Turkish government is set to bolster its security along the border with Syria after a suspected ISIS bombing in the town of Suruc killed 30 people, mostly students, yesterday. At a news conference, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said “measures on our border with Syria will continue, and will be increased,”Al Jazeera reports. But he added that Turkish “citizens should consider that countries experiencing tension, instability and clashes in the region could turn out to affect Turkey's inner peace." Meanwhile, Turkish daily Hürriyet reports that Turkish security forces had repeatedly warned about seven ISIS fighters who crossed into Turkey illegally and were planning to stage deadly attacks. But security forces failed to reach the jihadists.


"We do not have any interest at all on dialogue for unilaterally freezing or giving up our nukes,” North Korea’s foreign ministry said in a statement today, referring to potential Iran-like nuclear talks with the United States, Reuters reports. It added that the country’s nuclear program was an “essential deterrence” against U.S. foreign policy toward the reclusive country. “It is not logical to compare our situation with the Iranian nuclear agreement because we are always subjected to provocative U.S. military hostilities, including massive joint military exercises and a grave nuclear threat,” the statement said.


At least two people, a police officer and a civilian, were killed shortly before the start of the presidential election in Burundi this morning, Al Jazeera reports. A string of explosions and gunfire hit the country’s capital Bujumbura, after what has already been three months of anti-government protests. Almost four million Burundians are eligible to vote, but the opposition and civil society groups are pushing the population to boycott the election, which incumbent President Pierre Nkurunziza is expected to win for a third consecutive time.


A BBC investigation has found that African soccer players as young as 14, especially from Western Africa, are being trafficked to Asian academies and clubs and forced to sign contracts. Under FIFA regulations, players under the age of 18 cannot be moved to foreign countries. But some underage players interviewed by the BBC say they were forced to sign year-long contracts without being paid and had to sleep on the floor of a club’s stadium. According to the international NGO Culture Foot Solidaire, about 15,000 teenagers are moved out of West Africa every year to play soccer, but many of them are illegally trafficked.


A wave of simultaneous killings struck the northwestern Brazilian city of Manaus over the weekend, Globo reports, suggesting that at least some of the attacks were coordinated. The violence started after a police officer was shot dead outside a bank. Authorities are investigating whether the surge is linked to drug wars or police officers avenging the death of their colleague.


What is being hailed as the world's first known case of long-term remission from HIV, in an 18-year-old French woman born with the virus, is featured on the front page of today's Paris-based newspaper Libération.


Josh Greenberg, who in 2006 co-founded the music streaming website Grooveshark, which is now defunct, was found dead Sunday evening in his home in Gainesville, Florida, local authorities reported on Twitter. There was no evidence of foul play or suicide, police said. Grooveshark was shuttered in April as part of a settlement with major music labels, thus avoiding hundreds of millions in damages for copyright infringement.


The last book in author J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series went on sale eight years ago today. Your shot of history is here.


Hisao Tanaka, chief executive and president of the Japanese company Toshiba, has resigned after an independent panel appointed by the company said it had overstated its profit by $1.2 billion over the past six years, The Mainichi reports. "It has been revealed that there has been inappropriate accounting going on for a long time, and we deeply apologize for causing this serious trouble for shareholders and other stakeholders," the company said in a statement.



NASA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR), which has recently reached its destination 1.6 million kilometers away in gravitational balance between the Earth and the sun, has sent a new high-quality photograph of our planet, as The Guardian reports. It will be among the first of many such photos.


Discovering new methods and habits to help us become a little happier every day has become a veritable science. And big business, Ernesto Vieitez writes for Clarin. “One of the pioneers of the field is the Israeli-born psychologist Tal Ben-Shahar, who teaches at Harvard University and is the author of several widely read books, including The Pursuit of Perfect, wherein he calls perfectionism a kind of neurosis. He argues that the modern human condition pushes us to work toward attaining the impossible. The antidote he proposes is to replace this perfectionism with optimism, noting how perfectionists simply reject flaws, while optimists humbly accept them.”

Read the full article, The Everyday Science Of Striving For Happiness.


New Zealand’s Nigel Richards has just won the French-language Scrabble world championship. The twist? He speaks no French at all.

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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


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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