In The News

Taliban Government, Paris Attacks Trial, Lazy Tax Advisor

Welcome to Wednesday, where the Taliban unveil their government, crypto is plummeting after El Salvador embraces bitcoin and one lazy Swedish tax advisor gets busted. In Mexico, we meet the nurse who has become the face of pandemic fatigue.

Taliban Government, Paris Attacks Trial, Lazy Tax Advisor

Thousands of Salvadorans took to the street in the country's capital city to protest the adoption of bitcoin as a legal currency .

Meike Eijsberg, Bertrand Hauger and Anne-Sophie Goninet



• Taliban names government: The Taliban formally names new Afghanistan government, nearly 20 years after being pushed from power by the post-9/11 U.S.-led invasion. The government includes posts filled by an associate of the group's founder as premier and a man on the U.S. terrorism wanted list as interior minister. The Supreme Leader of the Taliban, in a statement following the capture of Kabul on August 15, said the Taliban is committed to international laws and treaties that are not in conflict with Islamic law.

• Start of November 2015 Paris attacks trial: The biggest trial in France's modern history is starting today as prosecutors seek conviction over the November 2015 terrorism attacks in Paris that killed 130 people.

• Mexico decriminalizes abortion: Mexico's Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that it is unconstitutional to punish abortion as a crime. The landmark ruling clears the way for the legalization of abortion across the country, the world's second-biggest Roman Catholic country, and follows the historic legalization of the right in Argentina earlier this year.

• Hong Kong police arrest organizers of Tiananmen vigil: Hong Kong police arrest senior members of the group that organized the city's annual Tiananmen Square massacre vigil, accusing them of foreign collusion. The arrests early Wednesday come amid an increasing crackdown on political, professional and civil society groups accused of unpatriotic conduct or national security offences.

• At least 41 dead in Indonesian jail fire: A fire broke out at the overcrowded Tangerang prison in Jakarta, killing at least 41 inmates who were sleeping at the time. There were far more inmates in the affected prison block than was allowed; the guards unlocked some of the cells but had to leave as the fire raged. The cause remains unknown.

• Cryptocurrencies values tumble: Bitcoin nursed its immense losses on Wednesday after plunging amid El Salvador's historic adoption of the crypto currency as a legal tender. The downdraft also swept across other tokens, such as Ether, Dogecoin and the Bloomberg Galaxy Crypto Index.

• Swedish tax advisor calls own number to avoid working: We can all feel unmotivated about work sometimes, but this Swedish tax advisor may have taken it too far. Instead of taking calls from customers, the 28-year-old called himself on his own personal number for a total of 55 hours until he was eventually unmasked by his superiors.



"Quarantine again?," asks Ukrainian daily Vesti after Ukraine's health minister announced the country would likely move to a yellow level and tighten lockdown restrictions next week, following a surge in coronavirus cases and low vaccination rates.


Nurse in Mexico "too tired" to inject COVID vaccine

A nurse in the eastern Mexican port of Veracruz has become the poster child for "pandemic fatigue" after a video showing her jabbing a patient but failing to actually inject the COVID-19 vaccine made the rounds of social media.

Her excuse? The healthcare worker says she was simply "too tired" to administer the dose, the newspaper Excelsior reported this week. She noted that staff working at the vaccination point, in the state's Luis Pirata Fuente stadium, had been working long days for the vaccinations.

The incriminating video led authorities to investigate and summon the nurse. State officials later said the woman was removed from the vaccination module.

Mexico has been one the countries hit hardest by the pandemic, with more than 260,000 deaths to date, fourth among all nations behind the United States (645,000), Brazil (583,000) and India (440,000), according to the latest Johns Hopkins University figures.

As of Sept. 3, just over 34.6 million people, or some 27% of Mexico's population, is reported to have been fully vaccinated.




1,780

The trial over the terror attacks of November 13, 2015, which opens today in Paris, is the largest ever staged in France. Here are some measures of its size: 20 defendants, including Salah Abdeslam, the only survivor of the Belgium-based group of ISIS followers that opened fire in the Bataclan concert hall and multiple Parisian cafes and restaurants, killing 130. Unprecedented in scale, the trial in the French capital will involve 1,780 plaintiffs of 20 different nationalities, and is expected to hear more than 300 witnesses during the 145 days of hearing that are scheduled through May 25, 2022. In purely paper terms, the case file runs to one million pages collated in 542 volumes.



Only god will take me out of Brasilia.

— A defiant Jair Bolsonaro told a crowd of 114,000 supporters in Sao Paulo. Protests rallied tens of thousands of people in cities across Brazil during yesterday's Independence Day celebrations. The Brazilian president had called his supporters to demonstrate against the Supreme Court and Congress which he said took unconstitutional decisions against his government.



✍️ Newsletter by Meike Eijsberg, Bertrand Hauger and Anne-Sophie Goninet



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Society

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

-Essay-

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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