TURKEY SHOOTS DOWN RUSSIAN JET
Two Turkish jets shot down a Russian warplane this morning near the Syrian border after the Turkish military repeated warnings about airspace violations. This is the first time the armed forces of a NATO member shot down a Russian or Soviet aircraft since the 1950s, Reuters reports. The Turkish military claimed the jet had been warned 10 times in five minutes about the violation. Officials also said a second plane approached the border and had been warned. Russiaâ€™s Defense Ministry confirmed a Su-24 fighter-bomber was shot down on the Turkey-Syria border, Sputnik reports, but it contested the air violation claim, saying it could prove the aircraft had not left Syrian airspace. A Kremlin spokesperson said it was a â€œvery serious incidentâ€ but that it was too early to draw conclusions. A video shows the jet going down in flames. The two pilots reportedly ejected before the crash. The Turkish military intercepted Russian jets in its airspace last month.
PARIS FLIGHT BOOKINGS DROP 27%
The number of flights booked for Paris between Nov. 14 and 21, the week after the terror attacks that shook the French capital, plummeted 27% compared to the same week last year, Les Echos reports. The number primarily represents tourist bookings, as business reservations remain about the same.
BRUSSELS REMAINS LOCKED DOWN
Photo: Eric Lalmand/Belga/ZUMA
Belgian authorities announced last night that Brussels would remain under high alert today for the fourth consecutive day and at least until the end of the week, Le Soir reports. The aim is to prevent a terrorist attack similar to the one that left at least 130 dead in Paris on Nov. 13. Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said schools, transportation and markets would remain closed today but would gradually reopen starting tomorrow.
- Of the 21 people Belgian police have taken in for questioning since Sunday, 17 have been released, three remain in custody for further questioning and one has been charged for terror-related activities.
- Police still havenâ€™t found Salah Abdeslam, a suspect in the Paris terror attacks.
- A belt of explosives was found yesterday in a garbage bin in Montrouge, a Paris suburb where Abdeslamâ€™s cell phone was traced after the attacks, Le Parisien reports. The belt reportedly contains the same material as those used by seven suicide bombers in the French capital on Nov. 13.
- French police conducted a search in Artigat, a village in southern France that is home to 69-year-old salafist imam Olivier Corel, known as the â€œwhite emir.â€ He is close to jihadist Fabien Clain, who claimed the Nov. 13 attacks in the name of ISIS.
HOLLANDE VISITS OBAMA IN D.C.
After receiving British Prime Minister David Cameron in Paris yesterday, French President François Hollande will meet U.S. counterpart Barack Obama this morning in Washington to discuss a coalition against ISIS. According to Le Monde, Hollande hopes Washington will strengthen its airstrikes against the terror organization in Syria and Iraq, increase its support to anti-Assad and non-ISIS groups and heighten monitoring of the financial resources fueling the jihadist groups. Hollande will also meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow Thursday.
Argentina's next president, the center-right Mauricio Macri, must be deft in reforming the economy of a society that has moved beyond a developmental stage to one that sees itself as â€œat risk,â€ Dante Caputo writes for Clarin. â€œThis defensive agenda includes two particularly relevant issues: Firstly, the new president must stop the economic deterioration bequeathed by President Cristina Kirchner, reduce the spending deficit and inflation rate, ease domestic and external trade, and recreate conditions in which the market will work reasonably well. Secondly, the need to order the economy must consider a chief aspect of the risk society: the fear of ungovernability, which carries more weight in our country than any specific values or ideologies.â€
Read the full article, Macriâ€™s Challenge: How To Lift A Defensive, Fearful Argentina.
NORTH SINAI BLAST KILLS 4 POLICE
At least four Egyptian police officers were killed and 12 people were injured when a car bomb exploded today outside a hotel in al-Arish, the provincial capital of North Sinai, Al Arabiya reports. The attack targeted a hotel hosting election judges charged with supervising a second round of parliamentary elections in Egypt. No group has claimed the attack, but an ISIS affiliate in Egypt has carried similar violence in the region.
For the first time ever, U.S. law enforcement seized more property from American citizens than burglars did in 2014: $5 million worth versus $3.5 million worth, according to the blog Armstrong Economics.
BRAZIL MUDSLIDE REACHES OCEAN
Brazil is facing its greatest ecological disaster in memory after a huge wave of mud, caused by the Nov. 5 collapse of a dam at an iron ore mine, reached the ocean, pouring toxic waste into the Atlantic, Folha de S. Paulo reports. Read more about it on Le Blog.
ON THIS DAY
Farewell Freddie Mercury, hello Lucy. That and more in todayâ€™s shot of history.
WEST BANK CAR ATTACK LEAVES 4 INJURED
Four people, including two Israeli soldiers, were injured in a car attack early today at a West bank junction, The Jerusalem Post reports. The attacker, a 21-year-old Palestinian man, was shot and wounded by border police before receiving treatment at the scene. This is the latest of a series of almost daily anti-Israeli attacks in the West Bank and Jerusalem. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Tel Aviv this morning for talks with Israeli and Palestinian authorities about the wave of violence that has killed at least 92 Palestinians and 17 Israelis.
MY GRAND-PÈREâ€™S WORLD
After The Sunâ€™s controversial front page yesterday in which the British tabloid reported that one in five British Muslims sympathize with ISIS jihadists, people have taken to Twitter to ridicule the claim with the hashtag #1in5Muslims.
"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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