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A WWII veteran watches a landing by paratroopers in Ranville, Normandy
A WWII veteran watches a landing by paratroopers in Ranville, Normandy

Friday, June 6, 2014

This morning, French President François Hollande launched commemorations for the 70th anniversary of D-Day, describing the Normandy landings as a day that “began in chaos and fire, would end in blood and tears, tears and pain, tears and joy at the end of 24 hours that changed the world.” Speaking alongside him, U.S. President Barack Obama honored veterans, praising those who "gave so much for the survival of liberty at its maximum peril." America’s claim to liberty “is written in blood on these beaches, and it will endure for eternity,” Obama said.
Today’s newspapers are filled with coverage of D-Day, but a particularly notable piece comes fromThe New York Times, which published the poignant memories of four veterans who recall their experiences on the longest day.

Former WWII paratrooper Frederick Glover, 88, of the 9th Parachute Battalion from Brighton watches a landing by paratroopers in Ranville, Normandy, during events commemorating the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

Fighting in eastern Ukraine is continuing, with attacks by separatists on border posts, which were repelled by air strikes, killing 15 pro-Russians. Ukrainian troops have reportedly resumed artillery strikes around Sloviansk one day before the planned inauguration of President Petro Poroshenko. He has vowed to immediately present “a plan for the peaceful resolution of the situation in the east.” Yesterday, Obama said he had urged France to "press the pause button" on delivering two helicopter carriers to Russia, but French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius replied this morning on Twitter: "The contracts were agreed in 2011, they represent many jobs and they will be carried out."

A Russian poll conducted last month suggests 71% of Russians have negative feelings towards the U.S., the highest figure since such polls started in 1990.

As Sylvie Barot and Andrew Knapp write for Le Monde, an estimated 2,500 French civilians were killed during the first 24 hours that followed the dawn of D-Day. “Most were killed by Allied bombs,” they write. “Hundreds lost their lives in Caen, Saint-Lô, Lisieux, Condé-sur-Noireau, Vire, Flers, and Argentan — towns devastated by rains of fire and steel. “... The Allies' bombing of France is still remembered, and with good reason, by those who lived it as an indelible trauma, by the descendants of victims and by regional historians. But it is still too often marginalized in the ‘grand narrative’ of France's dark years under Nazi occupation from 1940 until the end of the war.”
Read the full article, Innocent French Civilians, D-Day's Forgotten Victims.

One student was killed and at least two others were wounded after a gunman opened fire late yesterday afternoon at Seattle Pacific University, before being pepper-sprayed by a student while reloading his weapon, The Seattle Times reports. The suspect was arrested by the police and questioned, but his motive is still unclear.
Meanwhile in Canada, the police arrested a suspected gunman who killed three police officers Wednesday.


Sixty migrants from Somalia and Ethiopia and two Yemeni crew members drowned last week in “the largest single loss of life this year of migrants and refugees attempting to reach Yemen,” AFP quotes the United Nations’ Refugee Agency as saying. The news comes as Italy announced it had rescued more than 2,500 migrants from 17 boats since early Thursday.

A team of researchers in China and the U.S. have discovered that the reason why sleep improves learning and memory formation is that the brain forms new connections between neurons while we sleep.

Sources close to negotiations between U.S. authorities and BNP Paribas told Reuters that the former are considering a record penalty of $16 billion on France’s largest bank over its evasion of U.S. sanctions. The figure is $6 billion more than previously expected. In an article translated and published by Worldcrunch, French business daily Les Échos wrote that the fine was “a declaration of war” and that the figure amounted “to the proverbial nuclear option.”

Suor Cristina, Italy’s singing nun who became a worldwide sensation after performing expand=1] Alicia Keys’ "No One" and Bon Jovi’s "Livin’ expand=1] on a Prayer" on the Italian version of The Voice, won the television contest yesterday and a record contract with Universal Music. "My presence here is not up to me. It's thanks to the man upstairs!" she said after her victory.

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Chinese Students' "Absurd" Protest Against COVID Lockdowns: Public Crawling

While street demonstrations have spread in China to protest the strict Zero-COVID regulations, some Chinese university students have taken up public acts of crawling to show what extended harsh lockdowns are doing to their mental state.

​Screenshot of a video showing Chinese students crawling on a soccer pitch

Screenshot of a video showing Chinese students crawling

Shuyue Chen

Since last Friday, the world has watched a wave of street protests have taken place across China as frustration against extended lockdowns reached a boiling point. But even before protesters took to the streets, Chinese university students had begun a public demonstration that challenges and shames the state's zero-COVID rules in a different way: public displays of crawling, as a kind of absurdist expression of their repressed anger under three years of strict pandemic control.

Xin’s heart was beating fast as her knees reached the ground. It was her first time joining the strange scene at the university sports field, so she put on her hat and face mask to cover her identity.

Kneeling down, with her forearms supporting her body from the ground, Xin started crawling with three other girls as a group, within a larger demonstration of other small groups. As they crawled on, she felt the sense of fear and embarrassment start to disappear. It was replaced by a liberating sense of joy, which had been absent in her life as a university student in lockdown for so long.

Yes, crawling in public has become a popular activity among Chinese university students recently. There have been posters and videos of "volunteer crawling" across universities in China. At first, it was for the sake of "fun." Xin, like many who participated, thought it was a "cult-like ritual" in the beginning, but she changed her mind. "You don't care about anything when crawling, not thinking about the reason why, what the consequences are. You just enjoy it."

The reality out there for Chinese university students has been grim. For Xin, her university started daily COVID-19 testing in November, and deliveries, including food, are banned. Apart from the school gate, all exits have been padlock sealed.

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