Russia Accuses U.S. Of Enabling “Terrorists”, N. Korea Satellite Fail, NZ Air Weight
👋 Grüss Gott!*
Welcome to Wednesday, where Russia accuses the U.S. of encouraging cross-border "terrorist" attacks, a North Korean military reconnaissance satellite launch fails and New Zealand air travels must weigh in. Meanwhile, Hannelore Crolly and Ricarda Breyton in Berlin-based daily Die Welt unpack reports that Belarus strongman Alexander Lukashenko may be trying to create another migrant crisis in the EU, with Russia’s help.
Assisted dying, the ultimate act of self-care
France's much discussed citizens' convention on assisted dying has just delivered its conclusions, including some proposals the government deems too ambitious. But the freedom to choose one's own death is the ultimate achievement of self-control, says French philosopher Gaspard Koenig in Paris-based daily Les Echos.
The citizens' convention on end-of-life issues has spoken in favor of "active assistance in dying" (assisted suicide or euthanasia), in line with recommendations from the National Ethics Committee and most recent surveys of public opinion. But French Health Minister François Braun has expressed reservations, and proposed a simple strengthening of palliative care.
None of this is likely to calm the democratic crisis over this complicated but crucial issue for society. Why gather 200 citizens for four months and mobilize dozens of experts and significant government resources, if the response is immediately to dismiss their ideas?
Braun is concerned that a law might "profoundly change our society and our relationship to death." Indeed! We remain imbued with Judeo-Christian heritage, which considers suicide a sin so severe as to prohibit burial.
As Saint Paul writes to the Corinthians, "The body is for the Lord, and the Lord for the body." To end one's life is to interfere with divine law. Let us remember that suicide remained illegal until the French Revolution; the bodies of those who defied the prohibition were often judged, hanged and their property confiscated.
This cultural subconscious resurfaces in debates on end-of-life issues, and it explains the intense opposition from people like French author Michel Houellebecq, who, despite having no religious fervor, asserts that a civilization where euthanasia is allowed would lose "the right to respect."
Another, equally respectable, civilization is possible — one that dates back to even older times, whose convictions are based on self-mastery rather than obedience to external injunctions: the Stoic ideal. For Epictetus, the former slave, and for Seneca, the wealthy patrician, voluntary death is the ultimate expression of human freedom.
If we must control what depends on us, and remain indifferent to the rest, then bidding farewell to the world represents the Stoic exercise par excellence: we cannot choose not to die, but we can choose to die well, consciously, rather than dissolve into the fog of "deep and continuous sedation," which is the only option allowed under the law today.
In his "Letters to Lucilius," Seneca writes, "To die earlier or later is indifferent; to die well or ill is not. To die well is to escape the danger of living badly." His disciple Michel de Montaigne found a more vivid expression: voluntary death gives us "the key to the fields" — to open the door to freedom. Armed with this key, we become invincible. The freedom to die also allows us to live a more free life.
Why, then, not figure it out on our own? Why ask medical personnel to break the Hippocratic Oath? First, because they are not instructed to give death, but rather to end life in the name of the care owed to patients. Second, for very practical reasons: Seneca had tried to slit his own veins, but as the blood flowed poorly and his agony continued, he had to resort to the help of his friend and physician, Statius Annaeus, to administer a final poison.
Today, the trafficking of Nembutal, a lethal barbiturate supposed to guarantee a peaceful death, leads to the worst legal entanglements. Can we not simply be accompanied in these final moments like responsible citizens, rather than having to hide like criminals?
In addition to this choice of civilization, there are more utilitarian arguments. First, like any prohibition, the current status quo generates hypocrisies, injustices and suffering, to the point of imposing exile as a means in order for one to die in a country where it is made possible. Charles Biétry, a journalist who suffered from Charcot's disease, recently said that he had made arrangements to end his life in Switzerland.
Secondly, like any legalization, active assistance in dying would allow for finer regulation that deals with the eligibility of patients (adults with serious and incurable illnesses, for example), the collection of consent (interviews, advance directives) and the question of self-administration of the product, which marks the boundary between euthanasia and assisted suicide — always preferable to exercise one's free choice.
Foucault wrote that Stoicism is the art of "self-care." Through the practice of sobriety, the discipline of emotions and the mastery of one's destiny, one gains a form of sovereignty over oneself, and becomes able to participate in political society. It's a philosophy of freedom, in life as in death, which corresponds well to a secularized society in search of moral direction.
— Gaspard Koenig / Les Echos
• Russia accuses U.S. of encouraging terrorism: Russia accuses the U.S. of encouraging Ukraine to launch cross-border "terrorist" attacks, according to a Russian official after the series of drone strikes launched in Russia's Bryansk region. President Vladimir Putin described the attack as an attempt to intimidate Moscow residents, and in response announced that the capital's air defenses would be reinforced.
• Qatar and Taliban secret talks: Qatar's Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani and reclusive Taliban leader Haibatullah Akhunzada have reportedly met secretly to discuss Afghanistan and the resolution of tensions with the international community. Among the topics discussed were the need to end the Taliban's ban on girls' education and women's employment and humanitarian crisis.
• Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes goes to prison: Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes has entered Bryan Federal Prison in Texas to serve an 11-year sentence for fraud related to the failure of her blood-testing start-up. Holmes had promised a medical technology that never worked, leading to the collapse of her company and numerous false diagnoses.
• U.S. penalizes Kosovo after troubles: The U.S. has announced measures against Kosovo following violent unrest, accusing the Balkan country of "forcibly" placing ethnic Albanian mayors in Serb-majority northern regions. Among the measures is Kosovo’s exclusion from American-led military exercises in Europe.
• North Korea spy satellite launch fail: North Korea has failed to launch a military reconnaissance satellite into space as, according to the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the rocket's second-stage engine failed to start as expected. An urgent investigation has been launched to determine what led to the mission failure, with a second launch is planned as soon as possible.
• Saudi, U.S. astronauts splash down: The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule with Saudi and American astronauts on board splashed down safely in Florida's Gulf of Mexico on their return to the space station, after a 12-hour re-entry flight and 10 days in orbit. The landing was broadcast live by the Axiom Space webcast.
• Step on the scale: Air New Zealand will now weigh passengers before boarding at the request of New Zealand's Civil Aviation Authority as part of an investigation into passenger weight, which will run until July 2.
German daily newspaper Die Tageszeitung reports on the clashes in North Kosovo between police, NATO troops and Serb protesters. Ethnic Serb minority boycotted the local elections in April, and are now demanding the removal of Kosovo special police forces, and rejecting Albanian mayors as their true representatives.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced plans for the country to set aside close to 3.5 trillion yen ($26 billion) for its child care annual budget, in an effort to tackle Japan's diminishing birth rate. This exceeds Kishida’s previous announcement of doubling the amount allocated to childcare.
Belarus may be pushing migrants into the EU again — this time with Russian help
In 2021, Belarus strongman Alexander Lukashenko triggered a migration crisis when he actively drove asylum seekers to the European Union. According to the German government, those numbers are on the rise again, write Hannelore Crolly and Ricarda Breyton in Berlin-based daily Die Welt.
🇧🇾 In the nine months between July 2022 and March 2023 alone, Germany's Federal Police registered 8,687 people who entered Germany undocumented after a Belarus connection. The migration pressure on the Belarus route — which was now supposedly closed after a huge crisis in 2021 that saw Belarus strongman Alexander Lukashenko threatening to "flood" the EU with drugs and migrants — has thus increased significantly again.
🛃 “Apparently, about half of the people who enter the EU illegally every month via the German-Polish border enter the EU via Belarus,” MP Andrea Lindholz told Die Welt. In an autocratic state like this, border crossings on this scale are certainly no coincidence, she said. “It is obvious that these illegal entries are part of a strategy to destabilize the EU.”
✈️ A particularly large number of people are apparently arriving in Belarus by plane from Egypt in order to move to the EU by land. According to Germany's Federal Police, among the nearly 8,700 undocumented migrants who entered Germany via Belarus, 1,330 alone are said to have Egyptian citizenship. This was the third largest group after Syria (3,000) and Afghanistan (1,632).
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➡️ Watch the video: THIS HAPPENED
“Mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war.”
— Artificial intelligence poses a “risk of extinction” that calls for global action, leading computer scientists and technologists have warned in a brief statement released Tuesday by the Center for AI Safety, a San Francisco-based research and advocacy group. The warnings come after an open letter signed by Elon Musk and other high-profile figures earlier in March that called for a six-month pause on the development of AI more advanced than OpenAI’s GPT-4.
📸 PHOTO DU JOUR
A low-resolution photograph provided by the South Korean military of the reported recovery of debris of a North Korean military reconnaissance satellite that crashed into the sea off Eocheongdo island following a launch failure. — Photo: South Korea's Defense Ministry/ZUMA
✍️ Newsletter by Marine Béguin, Emma Albright, Sophie Jacquier and Anne-Sophie Goninet
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