Germany

A Quest For 'Personal Freedom' Is No Excuse To Ignore Science

When it comes to human health and the planet's well-being, certain activities are simply untenable. Researchers also know that self-regulation never works.

'Meat consumption is a case in point'
"Meat consumption is a case in point"
Felix Hütten

-OpEd-

MUNICH — Some politicians seem to have a truly agonizing relationship with the term "freedom." But what exactly is freedom? Is it the right to drive down the autobahn (the German highway) at 190 kilometers per hour? Is freedom the right to destroy planet Earth because no one has the right to prohibit you from doing so?

Christian Linder, chairman of the self declared "freedom party" — the FDP (Free Democratic Party) — likes to speak out vociferously against all different kinds of bans and statutory prohibitions that his opponents supposedly or actually do demand.

A fundamental ignorance of scientific, evidence-based research.

He's against rules regarding meat consumption, for example, or frequent flying, or speeding on the autobahn. There's also the issue of sugar and salt content in food items. Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner of the CDU (Christian Democratic Union) is still hoping, in that case, that the food industry will voluntarily self-regulate.

Linder's approach is sensible enough from a political perspective. Why not try to sway voters by convincing them that attempts by other parties to tighten regulations are an attack on basic freedoms?

The problem, though, is that his "me" and "here and now" attitude toward freedom is based on a fundamental ignorance of scientific, evidence-based research. It's shocking, in fact, because at the risk of sounding alarmist, what seems to be at play here is an actual animosity towards science.

Meat consumption is a case in point. There is absolutely no doubt that the global appetite for beef filets and chicken breasts is having a massive impact on the environment. Scientists have warned in countless publications of the dire consequences that intensive livestock farming has on soil, insects, air and, ultimately, on humans.

Another example is sugar. Renowned medical journals have been publishing studies for years about the dangerous consequences of excessive consumption of high-calorie foods. There is, once again, absolutely no doubt that sugar can make you sick!

Only the restriction of personal freedom can ensure global and sustainable freedom.

Science even goes a step further in aiding politics: It can actually demonstrate the effects of concrete policy measures. And all publications to this effect agree on one thing: Self regulation is not effective. Whether it's diet or climate change, a little pressure applied to various industries or even the consumer is, unfortunately, necessary.

Those of us who want freedom in the shape of a healthy planet that will provide a good life for our children should accept, therefore, that sometimes only strict rules and regulations will do the trick. Only the restriction of personal freedom can ensure global and sustainable freedom. Those who ignore scientific evidence, on the other hand, do not fight for freedom. All they're seeking is their own personal albeit temporary gain.

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Pro-life and Pro-abortion Rights Protests in Washington

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Håfa adai!*

Welcome to Thursday, where new Omicron findings arrive from South Africa, abortion rights are at risk at the U.S. Supreme Court and Tyrannosaurus rex has got some new competition. From Germany, we share the story of a landmark pharmacy turned sex toy museum.

[*Chamorro - Guam]

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🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• COVID update: South Africa reports a higher rate of reinfections from the Omicron variant than has been registered with the Beta and Delta variants, though researchers await further findings on the effects of the new strain. Meanwhile, the UK approves the use of a monoclonal therapy, known as sotrovimab, to treat those at high risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms.The approval comes as the British pharmaceutical company, GSK, separately announced the treatment has shown to “retain activity” against the Omicron variant. Down under, New Zealand’s reopening, slated for tomorrow is being criticized as posing risks to its under-vaccinated indigenous Maori.

• Supreme Court poised to gut abortion rights: The U.S. Supreme Court signaled a willingness to accept a Republican-backed Mississippi law that would bar abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, even in cases of rape or incest. A ruling, expected in June, may see millions of women lose abortion access, 50 years after it was recognized as a constitutional right in the landmark Roe v. Wade case.

• Macri charged in Argentine spying case: Argentina’s former president Mauricio Macri has been charged with ordering the secret services to spy on the family members of 44 sailors who died in a navy submarine sinking in 2017. The charge carries a sentence of three to ten years in prison. Macri, now an opposition leader, says the charges are politically motivated.

• WTA suspends China tournaments over Peng Shuai: The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) announced the immediate suspension of all tournaments in China due to concerns about the well-being of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai, and the safety of other players. Peng disappeared from public view after accusing a top Chinese official of sexual assault.

• Michigan school shooting suspect to be charged as an adult: The 15-year-old student accused of killing four of his classmates and wounding seven other people in a Michigan High School will face charges of terrorism and first-degree murder. Authorities say the suspect had described wanting to attack the school in cellphone videos and a journal.

• Turkey replaces finance minister amid economic turmoil: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan appointed a strong supporter of his low-interest rate drive, Nureddin Nebati, as Turkey’s new finance minister.

• A battle axe for a tail: Chilean researchers announced the discovery of a newly identified dinosaur species with a completely unique feature from any other creatures that lived at that time: a flat, weaponized tail resembling a battle axe.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

South Korean daily Joong-ang Ilbo reports on the discovery of five Omicron cases in South Korea. The Asian nation has broken its daily record for overall coronavirus infections for a second day in a row with more than 5,200 new cases. The variant cases were linked to arrivals from Nigeria and prompted the government to tighten border controls.


#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

¥10,000

In the northeastern Chinese city of Harbin, a reward of 10,000 yuan ($1,570) will be given to anyone who volunteers to take a COVID-19 test and get a positive result, local authorities announced on Thursday on the social network app WeChat.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

Why an iconic pharmacy is turning into a sex toy museum

The "New Pharmacy" was famous throughout the St. Pauli district of Hamburg for its history and its long-serving owner. Now the owner’s daughter is transforming it into a museum dedicated to the history of sex toys, linking it with the past "curing" purpose of the shop, reports Eva Eusterhus in German daily Die Welt.

💊 The story begins in autumn 2018, when 83-year-old Regis Genger stood at the counter of her pharmacy and realized that the time had come for her to retire. At least that is the first thing her daughter Anna Genger tells us when we meet, describing the turning point that has also shaped her life and that of her business partner Bianca Müllner. The two women want to create something new here, something that reflects the pharmacy's history and Hamburg's eclectic St. Pauli quarter (it houses both a red light district and the iconic Reeperbahn entertainment area) as well as their own interests.

🚨 Over the last few months, the pharmacy has been transformed into L'Apotheque, a venture that brings together art and business in St. Pauli's red light district. The back rooms will be used for art exhibitions, while the old pharmacy space will house a museum dedicated to the history of sex toys. Genger and Müllner want to show that desire has always existed and that people have always found inventive ways of maximizing pleasure, even in times when self-gratification was seen as unnatural and immoral, as a cause of deformities.

🏩 Genger and Müllner want the museum to show how the history of desire has changed over time. The art exhibitions, which will also center on the themes of physicality and sexuality, are intended to complement the exhibits. They are planning to put on window displays to give passers-by a taste of what is to come, for example, British artist Bronwen Parker-Rhodes's film Lovers, which offers a portrait of sex workers during lockdown.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

"I would never point a gun at anyone and pull a trigger at them. Never."

— U.S. actor Alec Baldwin spoke to ABC News, his first interview since the accident that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the movie Rust last October. The actor said that although he was holding the gun he didn’t pull the trigger, adding that the bullet “wasn't even supposed to be on the property.”

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet and Jane Herbelin

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