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Nepal Violence, Trump’s Tirade, Big Ben’s Lost Time

MORE VOLATILITY IN CHINA

Chinese stocks continued to fall for a fifth consecutive day, despite the People's Bank of China cutting its key lending rate in a bid to restore calm to the stock markets. A volatile Shanghai Composite index eventually fell by 1.3%, after rising by as much as 4.3% and dropping 3.9%. After trading closed, China’s central bank announced it would inject 140 billion RMB ($22 billion) into the economy to try and stop an economic slowdown. According to Market Watch, the news of more stimulus from China will push U.S. stocks higher at today’s open, despite yesterday’s late sell-off. But European shares have fallen further this morning. Read more from Reuters.


VERBATIM

“Go back to Univision,” GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump told Jorge Ramos, an Emmy-winning journalist for Spanish-speaking broadcaster Univision, before having him removed from a news conference last night. Ramos wanted to question Trump about his plan to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants, but Trump argued that he hadn’t been called upon. The journalist was later allowed to return to the room, and Trump told him he would deport the immigrants “very humanely.” Meanwhile, the billionaire renewed attacks against Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, prompting the network’s chief to demand an apology.

For more on Trump, a Latin American view from America Economia: Hey Donald Trump, Hugo Chavez Would Be So Proud.


SERBIA, KOSOVO SIGN LANDMARK DEAL

Serbia and Kosovo took a significant step towards reconciliation yesterday when the two countries signed what EU chief diplomat Federica Mogherini characterized as a “landmark agreement” 16 years after the war between the two sides, EU Observer reports. The deal covers vast policy areas, including energy and telecommunications, and will also grant some level of autonomy to Serbian populations in areas of Kosovo where they are a majority, Balkan Insight explains. The move also removes hurdles in the two countries’ paths to entering the European Union.


ON THIS DAY


The late Mother Teresa, Nobel Peace Prize winner and humanitarian, was born on this day in 1910. More in today’s shot of history.


NEPAL DESCENDS INTO VIOLENCE

At least eight people were killed in Tikapur, Nepal, Monday, after violent protests against government plans for a new Constitution. Seven police officers were killed by the crowd and one of them was burned alive, The Nepali Times reports. The other victim was an 18-month-old boy who was shot dead while playing in the courtyard of his parents’ home. Speaking to reporters, the parents said they didn’t believe their son had been “collateral damage” but that the gunmen intentionally targeted him. “The way he shot my son dead from 30 feet away shows he was not an ordinary villager,” the boy’s father said. Nepal is still struggling to recover from a violent earthquake that devastated huge parts of the country, killing more than 9,000 people.


5,000,000

As many as five million Syrians, most of them in Aleppo and Damascus, have been affected by sometimes deliberate water shortages that UNICEF says are used by parties to the conflict to “achieve military and political gains.” According to the agency’s report, there have been at least 18 deliberate water cuts this year alone, with some of them lasting as long as a month.


PEACE DEAL IN SIGHT FOR SOUTH SUDAN

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir is expected to sign a final peace agreement today that will hopefully end a 20-month conflict with his former deputy and rebel leader Riek Machar, Sudan Tribune reports. A week ago, Kiir had refused to sign the deal, which includes power-sharing measures and a return of Machar as vice president. But UN pressures and fears of U.S.-backed sanctions seem to have convinced him, despite uncertainties over the army’s reaction.


WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

The suspected terror attack thwarted by American and British passengers aboard a high-speed European train has brought railway security sharply into focus. The alleged gunman, believed to be a 25-year-old Moroccan named Ayoub El Khazzani, boarded the Amsterdam-to-Paris train equipped with an assault rifle, automatic pistol, nine cartridge clips and a box-cutter. More than a decade after the 2004 Madrid train bombings that killed 191 people, and days after what could have been another such massacre, how can authorities in Europe and across the world rethink railway security? There are five key points to bear in mind.

Read the full article, After French High-Speed Rail Attack, Time To Step Up Train Security?


ISIS PHOTOS OF PALMYRA DESTRUCTION

ISIS-affiliated social media accounts have published images purportedly showing the destruction of Palmyra’s 2,000-year-old temple of Baalshamin. The ancient Syrian city was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1980.


RED CROSS SUSPENDS WORK IN YEMENI CITY

The International Committee of the Red Cross announced yesterday it was suspending its activities in Aden, Yemen, after gunmen stormed its offices on Monday and stole cars, equipment and cash. The port city of Aden is technically under the control of forces loyal to exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi since they retook it from Houthi rebels, but the country’s al-Qaeda branch has recently been able to deploy fighters to parts of the city.


THE WAY OUT OF A BLACK HOLE

Stephen Hawking’s new theory about black holes is that they could be a passage to another universe. “But you couldn’t come back to our universe,” he said. “So although I’m keen on space flight, I’m not going to try that.”


MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD



BIG BEN LOST TRACK OF TIME

The worst came to pass. Big Ben recently went “temperamental” and wasn’t telling time properly, causing disruptions to a BBC radio station. The 156-year-old clock’s “little fit” has now been solved and Londoners are hoping it will keep time and carry on.

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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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