OREGON MILITIA MEMBER KILLED AMID ARRESTS
Photo: Mike Albright/ZUMA
Robert â€œLaVoyâ€ Finicum, an Arizona rancher and one of the leaders of the armed militia that had been occupying a federal wildlife reserve in eastern Oregon since Jan. 2, was killed in a shootout with federal officers Tuesday, The New York Times reports. The militia leader Ammon Bundy and seven other members were arrested. Authorities provided few details about the incident, but Reuters quoted the FBI as saying that gunshots rang out after officers stopped a car carrying protest leader Ammon Bundy and others near the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The right-wing militia named â€œCitizens for Constitutional Freedomâ€ had occupied the wildlife reserve to protest the federal governmentâ€™s regulations of public lands.
DENMARK REPORTS FIRST ZIKA VIRUS CASE
A Danish man who travelled to South and Central America has been tested positive for the mosquito-borne Zika virus, the Jyllands-Posten reports. The virus has been linked to a birth disorder that results in babies being born with severely undersized heads, causing major development issues and even death. There is currently no vaccine against the disease. Three British travellers who travelled to Colombia, Suriname and Guyana have also been reported to have been infected, according to Sky News. South and Central American countries are suffering a major outbreak of the virus, with at least 4,000 cases in Brazil alone since November. Cases have also been reported in the U.S. via infected tourists.
MY GRAND-PERE'S WORLD
FRENCH JUSTICE MINISTER RESIGNS OVER ANTI-TERROR MEASURE
French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira announced her resignation Wednesday morning, amid controversial government plans to strip people convicted of terrorism of their French citizenship if they are dual citizens. Taubira, a frequent target of the center-right opposition, will be replaced by Jean-Jacques Urvoas, French daily Libération reports.
A Paris court has ordered Uber to pay 1.2 million euros to the National Taxi Union to â€œcompensateâ€ for the excesses of the U.S.-founded mobile ride request company, Le Monde reports. This comes as taxi drivers in France went on strike for a second day Wednesday, causing major disruptions in circulation in large cities.
KURDS TO STAY OUT OF SYRIA TALKS
The Kurdish PYD party, which controls a part of the Syria-Turkey border and has been engaged in intense clashes with ISIS, will not attend Syria peace talks set to start Friday in Geneva, the French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told the radio network France Culture on Wednesday. The preparations for the negotiations have been undermined by disputes which groups should be present. Fabius said the United Nations special envoy Staffan de Mistura told him the PYD had caused the most problems and would not be invited. The talks would instead be led by a Riyadh-formed opposition group, with their opponents also present.
ON THIS DAY
From Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to Steve Jobs, here is your 57-second shot of history.
ROUHANI IN FRANCE
After three days in Italy, the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is set to arrive in France Wednesday for the second leg of his European states visit. In what is the first visit of an Iranian president in France in 17 years, Rouhani is expected to meet some 20 business managers to secure new trade deals following the lifting of international sanctions over Iran's nuclear program, before meeting the French President François Hollande, Le Monde reports. Among the potential trade deals is an agreement with the French airbus manufacturer Airbus for more than 100 aircraft, as well as contracts with the car manufacturers Peugeot and Renault.
On the first leg of his European trip, Rouhani met Tuesday with Pope Francis.
Car-sharing in France has gotten complicated. Though Uber was forced to shut down its amateur driver service UberPop, another app is antagonizing competitors, Lionel Steinmann reports for French daily Les Echos: â€œHeetch is based on a model similar to that of Uber. It connects clients with non-professional drivers using their own cars, but with a little twist: It only operates between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m., and at the end of the ride there is a suggested price that users are free to augment. Heetch was targeted by a national decree that banned Uber's app UberPOP. But the company has refused to be painted with the same brush, continuing its business despite the arrests of some of its hobbyist drivers. And it has built itself a growing customer base that has taxis and other driving services equally worried.â€
Read the full article, Uber And Taxis Have A Common Enemy: Say Hello To Heetch.
TRUMP TO BOYCOTT IOWA DEBATE
The Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump announced Tuesday he would boycott a Fox News GOP debate scheduled to take place Thursday, just days before the crucial first Iowa caucuses, The Washington Post reports. Trump said he will instead host a separate event to raise money for wounded war veterans. The Republican frontrunner claimed Fox News and other television networks took advantage of him by selling advertisements during their high-premium debates. A Fox News spokesperson said Tuesday evening the debate would still take place and that Trump was still welcome to participate.
â€œA mosquito isnâ€™t stronger than a whole countryâ€ will be the slogan of a soon-to-start nationwide campaign on Brazilian radio, TV and social networks against the virus Zika, which continues to spread with 200 new cases every week, reports O Globo. The mosquito-borne virus has already provoked close to 4,000 cases of microcephaly, a normally rare condition that causes babies to be born with brain damage and abnormally small heads. Health Minister Marcelo Castro described Zika as Brazilâ€™s â€œNumber one enemy,â€ but the disease is expected to spread across Latin America, the World Health Organization said. And it may be years until a vaccine is found.
The Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has spent more than 500 hours addressing his country since his election nearly three years ago, demonstrating a loquacity reminiscent of his late predecessor Hugo Chavez, Reuters reports.
'Xi Jinping Thought' ideas on socialism have been spreading across the country since 2017. But now, Beijing is going one step further by making them part of the curriculum, from the elementary level all the way up to university.
BEIJING — It's important to strengthen the "determination to listen to and follow the party." Also, teaching materials should "cultivate patriotic feelings." So say the new guidelines issued by the Chinese Ministry of Education.
The goal is to help Chinese students develop more "Marxist beliefs," and for that, the government wants its national curriculum to include "Xi Jinping Thought," the ideas, namely, of China's current leader.
Xi Jinping has been the head of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for almost 10 years. In 2017, at a party convention, he presented a doctrine in the most riveting of party prose: "Xi Jinping's ideas of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new age."
Behind this word jam is a plan to consolidate the power of the nation, the party and Xi himself. In other words, to make China great again!
Communist curriculum replaces global subjects
This doctrine has sent shockwaves through China since 2017. It's been echoed in newspapers, on TV, and screamed from posters and banners hung in many cities. But now, the People's Republic is going one step further: It's bringing "Xi Jinping Thought" into the schools.
Starting in September, the country's 300 million students have had to study the doctrine, from elementary school into university. And in some cities, even that doesn't seem to be enough. Shanghai announced that its students from third to fifth grade would only take final exams in mathematics and Chinese, de facto deleting English as an examination subject. Beijing, in the meantime, announced that it would ban the use of unauthorized foreign textbooks in elementary and middle schools.
But how does a country that enchants its youth with socialist ideology and personality cults rise to become a world power? Isn't giving up English as a global language the quickest way into isolation?
The educational reform comes at a time when Beijing is brutally disciplining many areas of public life, from tech giants to the entertainment industry. It has made it difficult for Chinese technology companies to go public abroad, and some media have reported that a blanket ban on IPOs in the United States is on the cards in the next few years.
Targeting pop culture
The regime is also taking massive action against the entertainment industry. Popstar Kris Wu was arrested on charges of rape. Movies and TV series starring actor Zhao Wei have started to disappear from Chinese streaming platforms. The reason is unclear.
What the developments do show is that China is attempting to decouple from the West with increasing insistence. Beijing wants to protect its youth from Western excesses, from celebrity worship, super wealth and moral decline.
A nationalist blogger recently called for a "profound change in the economy, finance, culture and politics," a "revolution" and a "return from the capitalists to the masses." Party media shared the text on their websites. It appears the analysis caused more than a few nods in the party headquarters.
Dictatorships are always afraid of pluralism.
Caspar Welbergen, managing director of the Education Network China, an initiative that aims to intensify school exchanges between Germany and China, says that against this background, the curriculum reform is not surprising.
"The emphasis on 'Xi Jinping Thought' is being used in all areas of society," he says. "It is almost logical that China is now also using it in the education system."
Needless to say, the doctrine doesn't make student exchanges with China any easier.
Dictatorships are always afraid of color, pluralism and independent thinking citizens. And yet, Kristin Kupfer, a Sinology professor at the University of Trier, suggests that ideologically charged school lessons should not be interpreted necessarily as a sign of weakness of the CCP.
From the point of view of a totalitarian regime, she explains, this can also be interpreted as a signal of strength. "It remains to be seen whether the Chinese leadership can implement this so thoroughly," Kupfer adds. "Initial reactions from teachers and parents on social media show that such a widespread attempt to control opinion has raised fears and discontent in the population."
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