Geopolitics

The Latest: Belarus Olympic Clash, COVID Surges In Florida And Nanking, Panda Twins

Welcome to Monday, where a Belarusian athlete is now under UN protection at the Tokyo Olympics, China suffers its worst coronavirus outbreak in months and a French zoo welcomes rare twin panda cubs. German daily Die Welt also asks who is doing most of the work to kill the virus: summer or social distancing and vaccines?

The Latest: Belarus Olympic Clash, COVID Surges In Florida And Nanking, Panda Twins

A giant panda named Huan Huan has given birth to two twin cubs at the ZooParc de Beauval in France

Anne-Sophie Goninet


Belarus athlete under UN protection: Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, the embattled sprinter who alleges Belarusian team officials tried to forcibly send her back home from the Tokyo Olympics, is now under protection from the UN refugee agency and local police. Tsimanouskaya was due to compete in the women's 200 meters, but was removed from the team after criticizing coaches. She is now seeking asylum in Poland fearing imprisonment back home under the regime of strongman Alexander Lukashenko.

COVID-19 update: China has imposed new travel restrictions in the face of suffering its most widespread coronavirus outbreak in months, including a cluster linked to Nanjing airport. In Florida, the southern U.S. state, the Delta variant has led to a new record of daily 21,683 cases on Saturday. The surge came a day after Governor Ron DeSantis signed an executive order prohibiting school districts from mandating masks. Meanwhile, Indian domestic workers are losing their jobs as wealthier citizens fear COVID infections.

Hong Kong activist/singer arrested: Anthony Wong, a singer and prominent pro-democracy activist, has been arrested and chargedwith "corrupt conduct" by Hong Kong's Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). In a statement, the ICAC said Wong had provided "entertainment to induce others to vote" for a pro-democracy candidate.

Madagascar makes 21 more arrests over coup plot: Madagascar has arrested 21 more suspects, including 12 military personnel, in connection with a plot to kill President Andry Rajoelina. Last month, six people were arrested on suspicion of involvement in the plot as well.

Wildfires spread in Italy, Turkey, Greece: The death toll from wildfires in Turkey has risen to eight as firefighters battle for a sixth day to contain the blaze. In neighboring Greece, five people have been hospitalized with breathing problems and in Italy 800 people, including tourists, have been evacuated from their homes and stays as more flare-ups broke out.

Simone Biles to take part in balance team final: Team USA gymnast Simone Biles will be taking part in Tuesday's balance beam final at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, USA Gymnastics has announced. Biles withdrew from the individual competition last week, citing mental health concerns.

Two Sumatran tigers recovering from COVID: Two rare Sumatran tigers in an Indonesian zoo became infected with COVID and are now recovering. Nine-year-old Tino first got symptoms on July 9 and shortly after, 12-year-old Hari, became ill as well. Sumatran tigers are the most critically endangered tiger subspecies.

Italian sports daily Corriere dello Sport celebrates the two Olympic gold medals in athletics won by Gianmarco Tamberi in high jump and Lamont Marcell Jacobs in 100 metres. Jacobs became the first Italian in history to be crowned champion in the sprint, breaking both the European record in 9.80 seconds and retired Jamaican athlete Usain Bolt's 13-year hold on the event.

Summer revisited: Does warm weather reduce COVID-19 spread?

The number of infections is decreasing across many European countries, even as restrictions are eased. But one question remains for the time being: What is doing most of the work to kill the virus: vaccines? Social distancing? Hot summer weather? Birgit Herden weighs the factors in German daily Die Welt.

It's not really because of the cold weather that people catch colds. Various factors influence the spread of respiratory viruses, with humidity playing an important role. Cold air can absorb less humidity than warm air. If you warm up dry winter air in heated rooms, it contains much less water than it could absorb at warm temperatures. The relative humidity the maximum amount of water that can be stored is often below 40%. Beyond temperature and humidity, solar radiation also affects the spread of cold viruses: UV rays destroy viruses.

All of these factors affect the virus's occurrence. In the tropics, for example, there are no flu seasons, but a slight risk of infection all year round. In New York, the spread of flu viruses will be reduced by 40% in the summer, in Florida by only 20%. Things are made even more complicated by human behavior. If, for example, many people are in air-conditioned rooms in hot summers, this can probably weaken the summer effect. So, it's no wonder that it has been difficult to predict how the seasons would affect the pandemic.

Summer is here, the public mood is improving and some people forget the reasons that led to restrictions: they keep no distance, no masks, and organize parties. The German left-leaning member of Parliament and epidemiologist Karl Lauterbach warns the people have become too reckless and expect a fourth wave of infections to take Europe by storm in the fall. "To assume that the measures play no role at all would be nonsensical, just like the idea that seasonality has only a very small or no influence on the number of infections," says Berlin epidemiologist Kai Schulze.

Read more on Worldcrunch.com

$85 million

According to a preliminary settlement, Zoom has agreed to pay $85 million to settle a class action lawsuit charging that it violated the privacy rights of its users. Despite denying any wrongdoing, the U.S. communications tech company also agreed to reinforce its security measures, including alerts to users when online meetings participants are using third-party apps.

I am afraid that in Belarus they might put me in jail.

— Belarus sprinter Kristina Timanovskaya said after she announced on Instagram Sunday she was seeking protection from Japan after Belarusian authorities tried to forcibly send her home. The athlete had criticized her coaches for registering her for the wrong event at the Olympics. On Monday, the International Olympic Committee announced it had taken measures against the Belarusian committee in the run-up to the Games.

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

Reuters
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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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