U.S. Challenges China, Taliban Urges Quake Aid, The Hugshake

U.S. Challenges China, Taliban Urges Quake Aid, The Hugshake


A U.S. Navy ship sailed close to artificial islands built by China in the disputed South China Sea waters early today, The Washington Post quoted a U.S. defense official as saying. The move is a direct challenge to China’s territorial claims to this area, which the U.S. considers international waters. The USS Lassen, a guided-missile destroyer, reportedly approached the Subi Reef and Spratly Islands accompanied by Navy surveillance planes. This drew anger in China, where the foreign ministry characterized the action as “illegal” and the official news agency Xinhua described it as “an irresponsible game of brinkmanship dangerous to regional stability.” Beijing officials said the “relevant authorities” monitored, followed and warned the ship as it entered the disputed waters, Reuters reports. “China will resolutely respond to any country’s deliberate provocations," the foreign ministry later said in a statement.



“The Islamic Emirate calls on our goodwilled countrymen and charitable organizations to not hold back in providing shelter, food and medical supplies to the victims of this earthquake,” the Taliban of Afghanistan and Pakistan said in a statement, Reuters reports. The two regions were struck by a magnitude-7.6 earthquake yesterday that killed at least 300 people, mostly in Pakistan, and injured more than 2,000. “And it similarly orders its mujahideen in the affected areas to lend their complete help,” the Taliban statement continued. Search and rescue teams have been sent to remote mountainous areas, where the impact of the quake is still unclear. But the relief effort has been complicated by unstable security caused by the Taliban insurgency.


There is “strong evidence” that the ruling, military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) in Myanmar is guilty of genocide against the Muslim Rohingya people for political gain, according to an investigation by Al Jazeera and the Yale University Law School. “Given the scale of the atrocities and the way that politicians talk about the Rohingya, we think it’s hard to avoid a conclusion that intent to commit genocide is present,” Yale’s Lowenstein International Human Rights Law Clinic has concluded. The Myanmar government allegedly triggered deadly communal violence between Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya people before displacing tens of thousands of the Muslim minority to refugee camps and burning their homes.


There are currently 366,000 Syrian refugees in the Turkish capital of Istanbul, which is more than in all of Europe combined, International Rescue Committee head David Miliband told the AP Monday. He also said that the “iconic” image of the refugee living in a camp had changed and that most now want to earn a living while being displaced, even if that means working on the black market. According to the British Labour politician, 60% of refugees are now living in cities.


A Yemeni hospital run by Doctors Without Borders was hit by several Saudi-led airstrikes last night while patients and staff were still inside the facility, the medical aid group said on Twitter Tuesday. Hospital director Ali Moughli told Le Figaro that the airstrikes lightly injured several people and destroyed everything inside, including medical instruments and supplies.


“His Royal Drugs,” reads Tuesday's front page of Lebanese Arabic-language daily Al-Akhbar, one day after a Saudi prince and four others were arrested at the Beirut airport when authorities found more than two tons of illegal drugs on a Saudi-bound private jet. Read more in Le Blog.



Turkish police arrested 65 people suspected of being linked to ISIS today in operations in the Konya, Kocaeli and Istanbul provinces, Daily Sabah reports. In the central city of Konya, which is considered an Islamist bastion, 30 people were detained.


Are new technologies making the wage system obsolete, turning employees into independents? No, writes Les Echos, workers aren’t so much freelancing as moonlighting. “Looking at the creation of companies, the data confirms the impression that we're seeing an entrepreneurial revolution,” the newspaper writes. “But looking at employment statistics, the so-called end of the wage system that has been forecast so many times sure is taking a long time to become apparent. How do we reconcile the contradictory notions that the statistics suggest? The answer is simple. The new paradigm is diversification, entrepreneurship as a complement to the wage system.”

Read the full article, No, It's Not The End Of The Wage System.


It’s been 10 years since a series of riots in Paris and other cities across France began, prompted by tensions over youth unemployment. Time for today’s 57-second shot of history.


Greeting an acquaintance can sometimes lead to awkward situations in which one person goes for a handshake and the other for a hug, or even a kiss on the cheek. This is known as the hugshake. Luckily, researchers from the University of Oxford and Aalto University in Finland conducted a study about what it is socially acceptable, or not, when saying hello. They found the handshake is always the safest option.

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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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