NEPAL DEATHS EXCEED 6,000
The death toll in and around Nepal, where a devastating earthquake struck Saturday, now exceeds 6,200 people, Reuters reports. More than 14,000 people were also injured, and at least 600,000 homes were destroyed in the disaster.
- Disposing of bodies still being found six days after the earthquake is becoming a problem for authorities, as morgues and hospitals are beyond capacity.
- According to Nepal Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat, the country will need at least $2 billion for reconstruction. It has appealed for help from international donors.
- According to the United Nations, at least eight million people have been affected by the earthquake, and two million people will be in need of tents, water, food and medication over the next three months.
A laborer works at an iron factory on International Workers' Day in eastern Pakistan’s Lahore.
RUSSIA READYING FOR NEW OFFENSIVE
Russia may be exploiting the lull in fighting between national Ukraine forces and pro-Russian separatists to restrategize and reposition itself for a new offensive there, I.S. NATO Commander Philip Breedlove told Congress yesterday. “Many of their actions are consistent with preparations for another offensive,” Reuters quotes him as saying. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which is monitoring the ceasefire, reports that there is significantly less fighting since a February ceasefire agreement was reached in Minsk, Belarus. But the United States says Russia now has its largest force on the border since October and has deployed additional air defense systems, Reuters reports.
“It's a sign that decent people in Indonesia appreciate the anger that Australians feel at these cruel and unnecessary deaths, and it's a sign that in time the good and strong friendship between Australia and Indonesia can be resumed,” Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said during a press conference today, ABC reports. He was referring to Wednesday’s firing squad executions of two Australians, alongside six other convicts, in Indonesia. They were charged with drug trafficking, an offense punishable by death in the country.
Progressive Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Congressional independent, has announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for president, acknowledging in so many words his long odds against Hillary Clinton but characterizing himself as a politician with “the most unusual political history of anyone in Congress,” The New York Times reports. A self-described “Democratic socialist,” the Times calls the 73-year-old a “grumpy grandfather-type,” and liberals hail his candidacy as a way to keep Clinton from veering too far to the right. “Having Bernie Sanders in the race, calling for populism, will help open the political space for people like Hillary Clinton and others to take bold stands,” Adam Green, a co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, told the newspaper.
One week ahead of Britain's national elections, polls are too close to call between the two leading candidates, the Tories' incumbent Prime Minister David Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband. The Economist divides its cover between the two, casting the election as a choice between risks: for the economy (Miliband) and for a possible UK exit from the European Union (Cameron). Read more in our Extra! feature.
MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD
HOUTHI ATTACK STOPPED AT SAUDI BORDER
The Saudi Arabian military repelled a major attack by Houthi rebels on its border yesterday, according to a statement by the state-controlled Saudi Press Agency. It would have been the first major assault on Saudi territory since the March 25 beginning of an airstrike campaign by a Saudi-led coalition against the Yemeni rebels. The state media says “dozens” of rebels were killed in the attack, which happened on the southern Saudi border, near the town of Najran.
Süddeutsche Zeitung asks why so many modern couples find it difficult to work out division of labor within their households. After all, even Paleolithic people had it figured out. “What we can learn from these bygone days is that women were not just sitting outside their caves all day, baby at the breast and sewing leather loincloths with bone needles waiting for the men to return from their daily hunt with a nice piece of bloody mammoth meat,” the newspaper writes. “If you believe archeologist and Paleolithic expert Linda Owen, things were, well, much more evolved than that. Even Ötzi, who lived around 3,300 BCE, was more progressive than some modern men who so zealously attempt to play the roles of spouse and father. Why else would the frozen remains of the glacier mummy have been found with a sewing kit?”
Read the full article, Worse Than Cavemen, Dads Today Do Even Less Than In The Stone Age.
NASA’S MESSENGER SMASHES INTO MERCURY
NASA’s Messenger spacecraft smashed into Mercury’s north pole yesterday, after 10 years in space and four in the planet’s orbit left its fuel tanks empty, NASA officials say. The crash occurred at 12 times the speed of sound, reportedly obliterating the car-sized spacecraft. Launched in 2004, Messenger sent back more than 270,000 images and 10 terabytes of scientific measurements of Mercury.
EARTHQUAKE HITS PAPUA NEW GUINEA
A 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck off Papua New Guinea today, according to Reuters. No immediate casualties or damage have been reported.
ON THIS DAY
The first Batman comic hit the streets 76 years ago today. More now in your 57-second shot of history.
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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