Vandals in Berlin dig up grave of Reinhard Heydrich, who helped plan Holocaust

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Vandals in Berlin dig up grave of Reinhard Heydrich, who helped plan Holocaust

German police say it appears nothing was removed from burial site of Nazi Gestapo head, who hosted Wannsee Conference and was regarded as cruel even within the Third Reich

The grave of Reinhard Heydrich, powerful head of Hitler's Reich Security Office during World War II, in Berlin on December 16, 2019.  (Odd ANDERSEN / AFP)

The grave of Reinhard Heydrich, powerful head of Hitler’s Reich Security Office during World War II, in Berlin on December 16, 2019. (Odd ANDERSEN / AFP)

BERLIN — The grave of a top Nazi who helped plan the Holocaust and was assassinated by British-trained agents during World War II has been dug up in Berlin, German police said on Monday.

The grave of Reinhard Heydrich was “dug up in the night between Wednesday and Thursday” and an investigation has been opened on charges of disturbing a burial site, a police spokeswoman told AFP.

German media said it appeared nothing was removed.

Heydrich was the powerful head of Hitler’s Reich Security Office, which included the Gestapo.

Less well known than other Nazi leaders, he was nevertheless highly influential and was marked out for his cruelty even within the Third Reich elite.

The grave of Reinhard Heydrich, powerful head of Hitler’s Reich Security Office during the World War II, is pictured in Berlin on December 16, 2019. (Odd ANDERSEN / AFP)

Adolf Hitler admiringly used to refer to him as “the man with the iron heart,” according to the biography “Heydrich: The Face of Evil” by Mario Dederichs.

Heydrich hosted the Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942, when leading Nazis discussed the extermination of the Jews in German-occupied Europe.

During the Nazi occupation of what is now the Czech capital, he became known as “the Butcher of Prague.”

His car was attacked with an anti-tank mine in the city on May 27, 1942, by Czechoslovak agents trained by Britain’s secret Special Operations Executive.

Gestapo head Heinrich Muller, SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich, Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, head of German criminal police Arthur Nebe and chief of state police and Gestapo in Vienna, Franz Joseph Huber, meet in Munich, Germany, in November 1939. (photo credit: German Federal Archives/Wikimedia Commons)

Heydrich died of his injuries a few days later.

His body was brought back to Berlin and buried in the city’s Invalidenfriedhof, a military cemetery.

Nazi leader Reinhard Heydrich in an unknown location sometime in 1942. (AP Photo)

During the Cold War, the cemetery became a no-man’s land along the Berlin Wall and his tomb — along with the ones of other top Nazis — was dismantled.

But Heydrich’s remains were never disinterred and the location of the grave was an open secret.

In 2000, a group of anti-fascists said they had opened up the grave of Nazi stormtrooper Horst Wessel in Berlin, taken his skull and thrown it into the Spree River, according to the Tagesspiegel newspaper.

Police at the time said no remains were stolen.

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Germany: Merkel at Auschwitz

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

‘I BOW MY HEAD BEFORE THE VICTIMS OF THE SHOAH’

Merkel at Auschwitz: Remembering Nazi crimes inseparable from German identity

Making her first visit to Nazi death camp as chancellor, German leader speaks of ‘deep shame’ and vows fight against anti-Semitism and all hatred is priority for her government

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, from left, visit the former Nazi death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oswiecim, Poland on Friday, Friday, Dec. 6, 2019. Merkel attend an event in occasion of the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Auschwitz Foundation. (Photo/Markus Schreiber via AP)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, from left, visit the former Nazi death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oswiecim, Poland on Friday, Friday, Dec. 6, 2019. Merkel attend an event in occasion of the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Auschwitz Foundation. (Photo/Markus Schreiber via AP)

OSWIECIM, Poland (AFP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday said acknowledging Nazi crimes was part of Germany’s national identity in a message aimed at far-right calls for a shift away from a culture of remembrance.

Merkel crossed the gates of the former Auschwitz Nazi death camp in Poland on Friday for the first time in her 14 years as chancellor, promising to battle a new wave of anti-Semitism.

Merkel is only the third German chancellor ever to visit the Nazi camp where a million Jews were killed between 1940 and 1945 and which has come to symbolize the Holocaust as a whole.

Members of the Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD) party have said there should be less apology for Germany’s Nazi past and other periods of its history should be celebrated instead.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel walks in front of the main railway entrance to Birkenau as she visits the former German Nazi death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oswiecim, Poland on December 6, 2019. (John MacDougall/AFP)

“Nothing can bring back the people who were murdered here. Nothing can reverse the unprecedented crimes committed here. These crimes are and will remain part of German history and this history must be told over and over again,” she said.

“Remembering the crimes… is a responsibility which never ends. It belongs inseparably to our country,” Merkel said.

“To be aware of this responsibility is part of our national identity, our self-understanding as an enlightened and free society, a democracy with rule of law,” she said.

Merkel said Auschwitz “demands that we keep the memory alive”.

She expressed Germany’s enduring “deep shame in the face of the barbaric crimes committed by Germans here” in Auschwitz-Birkenau, where a million Jews lost their lives between 1940 and 1945.

“There are no words to express our sorrow,” she said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel commemorates in front of the death wall during a wreath laying ceremony in the former Nazi death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oswiecim, Germany, Friday, Dec. 6, 2019. Merkel attend an event in occasion of the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Auschwitz Foundation. (Photo/Markus Schreiber via AP)

Addressing Holocaust survivors present, she added: “I bow my head before the victims of the Shoah.”

The chancellor also addressed a rise of anti-Semitic and other hate crimes in Germany in recent years, saying they had reached an “alarming level”.

“To combat anti-Semitism, the history of extermination camps has to be shared, it has to be told,” she said.

Her trip, which comes ahead of the 75th anniversary of the camp’s liberation by Soviet troops on January 27, is being seen as an important political message.

On the eve of her visit, 65-year-old Merkel said that “the fight against anti-Semitism and against all forms of hate” was a priority for her government.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel lays down a wreath at the death wall in the former Nazi death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oswiecim, Germany, December 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

She also hailed a new 60 million euro ($66 million) donation for the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation that was approved by Germany’s federal states on Thursday.

Merkel began her visit by walking under the Nazi slogan “Arbeit macht frei” (Work will set you free) that still hangs over the gates of the camp.

She also held a minute’s silence by the Death Wall where thousands of prisoners were shot dead and visit the site of a gas chamber and a crematorium.

The visit “is a particularly important signal of attention and solidarity at a time when Auschwitz survivors are victims of anti-Semitic insults and hate-filled emails,” said Christoph Heubner, deputy chairman of the Auschwitz International Committee.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, center, and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, right, visit the former Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oswiecim, Poland on December 6, 2019 (Markus Schreiber via AP)

Merkel was accompanied during the visit by a survivor of the camp, 87-year-old Bogdan Stanislaw Bartnikowski, as well as Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.

Josef Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, and Ronald Lauder, head of the World Jewish Congress, also took part in the visit.

In total, 1.1 million people were killed at Auschwitz-Birkenau, including Jews, non-Jewish Poles, Soviet prisoners of war, Roma and anti-Nazi fighters.

Many were killed the same day they arrived at the camp.

“There is no other place of memory that demonstrates with such precision what happened during the Shoah,” Schuster told AFP ahead of the visit.

‘Break with civilization’

Merkel follows in the footsteps of previous German chancellors Helmut Schmidt, who came in 1977, and Helmut Kohl, who visited in 1989 and 1995.

She has already visited several of the former camps in Germany over many years and has been to Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial center five times.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel lays a wreath during a ceremony at the Hall of Remembrance at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem on October 4, 2018 (Oren Ben Hakoon/POOL)

In 2008, she became the first German leader to address the Israeli parliament. In that speech, she spoke of the “shame” that Germans still feel.

Merkel has called the Holocaust a “break with civilization” and has voiced concern about the rise of anti-Semitism in Germany.

People place flowers in front of a synagogue in Halle, Germany, Oct. 10, 2019 (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)

Her visit comes two months after an attack aimed at a synagogue in the eastern city of Halle in which two people were killed — part of a growing trend.

Police figures show that anti-Semitic offences rose by almost 10 percent in Germany last year from the previous year to 1,646 — the highest level in a decade.

Germany’s far-right AfD party, some of whose members have been accused of using anti-Semitic rhetoric, has called for a rethink of the way Germany remembers its Nazi past.

Senior AfD lawmaker Bjoern Hoecke has called for a “180-degree shift” in the culture of atonement.

The timing of the visit is also significant because of questions over Merkel’s political future as tensions persist within the governing coalition.

German media reported that she wanted to make the trip ahead of any potential political crisis.

Merkel intends to step down at the end of her mandate in 2021 but there is a chance that the date could be brought forward if her junior coalition partners, the Social Democrats, pull out of the government.

AP contributed to this report

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Israel: In surprise change, 13 countries vote against pro-Palestine UN resolution

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

In surprise change, 13 countries vote against pro-Palestine UN resolution

States led by Germany change their voting pattern in favor of Israel, opposing Division of Palestinian Rights, although motion still passes by wide margin

View of the United Nations General Assembly during a vote the US-imposed embargo on Cuba on November 7, 2019. (Evan Schneider/ UN)

View of the United Nations General Assembly during a vote the US-imposed embargo on Cuba on November 7, 2019. (Evan Schneider/ UN)

Over a dozen countries on Tuesday abruptly changed their voting pattern at the United Nations in Israel’s favor, opposing an annual resolution expressing support for a pro-Palestinian UN agency traditionally critical of the Jewish state.

Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Lithuania, Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia, Brazil and Colombia for the first time voted against the resolution regarding the Division of Palestinian Rights at the UN Secretariat.

In past years, these countries had abstained on the resolution.

“I am pleased that this significant group of countries has decided today to voice a clear moral stance against discrimination toward Israel at the UN,” Foreign Minister Israel Katz said in a statement. “This represents an important step in the long struggle against the prejudiced bias toward Israel at the United Nations. Particularly noticeable is the shift in the stance of several member states of the European Union and I trust that the remaining EU members will adopt this position soon.”

The UK, France and Spain abstained, as they do every year.

The resolution — co-sponsored by Comoros, Cuba, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, United Arab Emirates and Yemen — still passed with a comfortable majority, with 87 “yes” votes, 54 “no” votes and 23 abstentions.

UN Watch

@UNWatch

The resolution titled “Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine” was adopted by a vote of 147 – 7 – 13.

The U.S., Canada, and Australia voted No.

See text here: https://undocs.org/en/A/74/L.15 

View image on Twitter

UN Watch

@UNWatch

The resolution titled “Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat” was adopted by a vote of 87–23–54.

A group of EU states who last year abstained switched their votes to No, including:

🇩🇪 Germany
🇳🇱 Netherlands
🇩🇰 Denmark
& more

See text here: https://undocs.org/en/A/74/L.16 

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Katz also thanked the United States, Canada, Australia, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Nauru and Kiribati who again voted against the resolution.

The New York-based Division for Palestinian Rights is notorious among Israeli officials and pro-Israel advocates for its harsh criticism of Israeli policies. It serves as the Secretariat of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and organizes international conferences that usually focus on bashing Israel. It is also responsible for the annual observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on November 27.

The resolution passed Tuesday states that the Division for Palestinian Rights “continues to make a constructive and positive contribution to raising international awareness of the question of Palestine and of the urgency of a peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine in all its aspects.”

“This body represents the structural discrimination against Israel in the UN arena and uses UN manpower and budgetary resources to promote a Palestinian narrative while simultaneously encouraging a distinctly anti-Israel agenda,” Katz said.

According to Hillel Neuer, the executive director of Geneva-based UN Watch, the surprising change in the voting pattern of 11 EU states has to do with “an unprecedented focus” on Germany, whose Foreign Minister Heiko Mass earlier this year pledged to oppose the unfair treatment of Israel at the UN.

“I think Germany felt the need to modify some of its anti-Israel votes, and that this rare EU split at the GA allowed Netherlands, Austria and others to follow,” Neuer told The Times of Israel. “We were disappointed that countries like the UK, France and Spain did not join this principled opposition.”

“With it’s ‘no’ this year, Germany expresses its criticism on the disproportionally high number of resolutions that are critical of Israel,” Germany’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The ministry further said that there was no reason for the special status enjoyed by the Division for Palestinian Rights.

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Germany: Jewelry of ‘immeasurable worth’ stolen in dramatic Dresden museum heist

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE UK GUARDIAN NEWS)

 

Jewelry of ‘immeasurable worth’ stolen in dramatic Dresden museum heist

German police say thieves on the run after ‘cultural treasures’ stolen from Green Vault

The Jewel Room at the Green Vault in Dresden
 The Jewel Room at the Green Vault in Dresden’s Royal Palace. Photograph: Sebastian Kahnert/dpa/AFP via Getty Images

Thieves in the German city of Dresden have broken into one of Europe’s largest collections of art treasures, making off with three sets of 18th-century jewelry of “immeasurable worth” in what German media has described as the biggest such theft since the second world war.

The dramatic heist took place at dawn on Monday, after a fire broke out at an electrical distribution point nearby, deactivating the museum’s alarm and plunging the area into darkness.

Despite the power cut, a surveillance camera filmed two men breaking into the Grünes Gewölbe (Green Vault) at Dresden’s Royal Palace.

Volker Lange, the head of Dresden police, said the thieves smashed a window and cut through a fence before approaching and breaking open a display cabinet in the Grünes Gewölbe’s Jewel Room in “a targeted manner”.

Officers were at the scene within minutes of being alerted to the robbery shortly before 5 am local time, but the suspects had escaped. A burning car found in Dresden early on Monday may have been the getaway vehicle, police said. They have set up roadblocks on motorway approach roads around the city in an attempt to prevent the suspects from leaving. But the close proximity of the gallery to the autobahn is likely to have helped the thieves’ speedy escape, police said.

German media reported the losses from the burglary could run into the high hundreds of millions of euros, but the director of Dresden’s state art collections, Marion Ackermann, said it was impossible to estimate the value of the items.

“We cannot give a value because it is impossible to sell,” she said, appealing to the thieves not to break the collections into pieces. “The material value doesn’t reflect the historic meaning.”

Ackermann said the stolen items included three “priceless” sets of diamonds, including brilliant-cut diamonds which belonged to an 18th-century collection of jewelry assembled by the museum’s founder.

Created by Augustus the Strong, the Elector of Saxony, in 1723, the Grünes Gewölbe is one of 12 museums which make up the famous Dresden state art collections. It got its name because some rooms were decorated with malachite-green paint.

One of the oldest museums in Europe, the Grünes Gewölbe holds treasures including a 63.8 cm figure of a Moor studded with emeralds and a 547.71-carat sapphire gifted by Tsar Peter I of Russia.

The museum is now made up of two sections, one historic and a newer part. It was the historic section, which contains around three-quarters of the museum’s treasures, that was broken into on Monday.

Entrance to the historic vault must be reserved in advance, and there is a strict limit on the number of daily visitors. Exhibits are arranged into nine rooms, including an ivory room, a silver gilt room and the central Hall of Treasures.

Michael Kretschmer, the leader of Saxony, of which Dresden is the capital, said he was devastated by the losses. “Not only the gallery has been robbed, but also the Saxonians,” he said. “You cannot understand the history of our country, or the free state of Saxony, without the Grünes Gewölbe and the state art collections of Saxony.”

Historic Grape Cups were among the treasures on display in the Green Vault, where burglars carried out a heist.
Pinterest
 Historic Grape Cups were among the treasures on display in the Green Vault, where burglars carried out a heist. Photograph: Ralf Hirschberger/EPA

The Grünes Gewölbe alone consists of 10 rooms teeming with about 3,000 items of jewelry and other masterpieces. The building was heavily damaged during the second world war but has been successfully restored, reopening to great international fanfare in 2006. It has been a tourist magnet since 1724, when it first opened to the public.

One of the museum’s most famous and precious treasures, the Dresden Green Diamond, is currently on loan with other valuable pieces to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York for an exhibition.

Saxony’s interior minister, Roland Wöller, said: “This is a bitter day for the cultural heritage of Saxony. The thieves stole cultural treasures of immeasurable worth – that is not only the material worth but also the intangible worth to the state of Saxony, which is impossible to estimate.”

Wöller said police had already set up a special team of investigators to pursue the case. “We will do everything in our power not only to bring the cultural treasures back, but to capture the perpetrators,” he said.

Leading international theft experts speculated about the thieves’ motives.

The Dutch “art detective” Arthur Brand, who made headlines earlier this month after uncovering a long-lost gold ring belonging to the writer Oscar Wilde, said the objects might have been stolen by people hoping to sell them, who would soon realise there was little hope of doing so.

“But the second and worst scenario would be professional robbers who just want the objects for their material value, the melted down gold or silver, who would take out the diamonds and sell them separately,” he told Der Spiegel. “But as soon as the works are destroyed, they are of course lost forever.”

Police in Dresden are investigating how thieves broke into the Green Vault.
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 Police in Dresden are investigating how thieves broke into the Green Vault. Photograph: Filip Singer/EPA

Bernhard Pacher, manager of the art auction house Hermann Historica, told the tabloid Bild that if the objects stolen had a value of a billion euros, as initially estimated by police, “even when they are broken down and melted they can still deliver a 100-200 million euro return, which still makes it worth stealing them.”

Ackermann said that security at the state collections would now undergo a thorough review after what appeared to have been a meticulously planned heist.

“An incident like this naturally raises the question as to what can be improved, what can be done differently in future,” she said. “But there’s no such thing as 100% security.”

The theft is the second high-profile heist in Germany in recent years, after a 100kg, 24-carat gold coin was stolen from Berlin’s Bode Museum in 2017.

Agence France-Presse contributed to this report

World’s biggest heists

  1. £100m diamond ‘heist of the century’In 2003, £100m in diamonds were stolen from the Diamond Centre in Antwerp, Belgium. Some of the diamonds have since been recovered.
  2. £90.5m Cannes film-like robberyA thief in Cannes made off with over £90m in jewels in a 2013 smash and grab at a temporary exhibition in the Carlton Hotel, where Alfred Hitchcock filmed To Catch a Thief. The jewels have yet to be found.
  3. £58m airport heistIn 2005, a £58m diamond theft took place at Amsterdam’s Schipol airport. Though the police have recovered some, £43m worth of diamonds are still unaccounted for.
  4. £56m Paris theftIn 2008, Harry Winston’s boutique near Paris’ Champs-Elysees was raided by a group of men in make-up, who lifted £56m of gems and watches.
  5. £40m Mayfair robberyIn 2009, Graff’s Diamond Store in Mayfair was stripped of its rings and diamonds worth more than £40m. It is likely that the jewels have been broken down and sold onto unregulated international markets. Oliver Taylor
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China: 2020 launch for Shanghai-Deutsche Stock Connect

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

2020 launch for Shanghai-Deutsche Stock Connect

Preparations for a Shanghai-Deutsche Stock Connect program is well under way.

The new scheme linking the Shanghai and Frankfurt stock exchanges will be launched in 2020 with the China Europe International Exchange (CEINEX) currently in charge of its establishment.

The scheme will promote German listed blue-chip companies to issue Chinese depositary receipts on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, and support certain qualified Chinese listed companies, especially those in the manufacturing sector, to issue global depositary receipts on the Frankfurt bourse in order to strengthen the interconnection between Chinese and German stock markets, according to CEINEX.

“In the next step, through the issuance of depository receipts, CEINEX will make efforts to build closer links between the capital markets and the real economy in China and Germany,” Chen Han, Co-Chief Executive Officer of CEINEX.

The CEINEX is a joint venture established in 2015 by the Shanghai Stock Exchange, Deutsche Börse Group, and China Financial Futures Exchange. It is the first dedicated trading venue for investment products related to China and the yuan outside the Chinese mainland.

The stock connect program, which first launched five years ago with a pilot project linking Shanghai with Hong Kong, has been a success in China’s progress in opening up the mainland’s equity market to overseas capital.

The program has led to sustained growth in two-way capital flow, as it enabled offshore capital to invest in the mainland market and also give a way for Chinese investors to reach overseas markets.

Data showed that by the end of October, the total cumulative northbound (to the mainland) trading turnover on stock connect was 17.41 trillion yuan (about US$2.48 trillion), bringing net capital inflows of 860 billion yuan into the A-share market.

Meanwhile, total cumulative southbound (to Hong Kong) trading turnover reached HK$8.75 trillion (about US$1.12 trillion) over the past five years, bringing net capital inflows of HK$987 billion into the Hong Kong market, according to Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing.

Pope Francis compares politicians who rage against gays to Hitler

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Pope Francis compares politicians who rage against gays to Hitler

Pope Francis did not name any politicians or countries as the targets of his criticism.

WORLD Updated: Nov 16, 2019 06:54 IST

Reuters

Reuters

Vatican City
Pope Francis says that the habit of persecuting Jews is beginning to be reborn which is neither human nor Christian.
Pope Francis says that the habit of persecuting Jews is beginning to be reborn which is neither human nor Christian.(AP Photo)

Pope Francis said on Friday politicians who rage against homosexuals, gypsies and Jews remind him of Hitler.

“It is not coincidental that at times there is a resurgence of symbols typical of Nazism,” Francis said in an address to participants of an international conference on criminal law.

“And I must confess to you that when I hear a speech (by) someone responsible for order or for a government, I think of speeches by Hitler in 1934, 1936,” he said, departing from his prepared address.

“With the persecution of Jews, gypsies, and people with homosexual tendencies, today these actions are typical (and) represent ‘par excellence’ a culture of waste and hate. That is what was done in those days and today it is happening again.”

During the 1933-45 Nazi regime in Germany, six million Jews were killed and homosexuals and gypsies were among those sent to extermination camps.

Pope Francis did not name any politicians or countries as the targets of his criticism.

In Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro had a history of making homophobic, racist and sexist public remarks before he took office on Jan. 1. He told one interviewer he would rather have a dead son than a gay son.

In May, Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah extended a moratorium on the death penalty to incoming legislation prohibiting gay sex, seeking to temper a global backlash led by celebrities such as George Clooney and Elton John.

The United Nations had warned Brunei it would be violating human rights by implementing Islamic laws that would allow death by stoning for adultery and homosexuality.

In recent weeks, Pope Francis has also denounced a resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe.

On Wednesday, in improvised remarks at his general audience, he said: “Today the habit of persecuting Jews is beginning to be reborn. Brothers and sisters: this is neither human nor Christian; the Jews are our brothers and sisters and must not be persecuted! Understood?”

Last week, a Vatican cardinal said he was “disgusted” by anti-Semitic abuse directed at an 89-year-old Italian senator and Holocaust survivor, who was given police protection after receiving death threats.

In July, a European Union study said young Jewish Europeans experience more anti-Semitism than their parents, with a rise in abuse coming in emails, text messages and social media postings.

More than 80% of Jews of all ages said they felt anti-Semitism had increased on the Internet over the past five years and around 70% said they faced more hostility in public, the study found.

30 Years Since Berlin Wall Fell, Now It Is All At Risk

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNBC NEWS)

 

  • This weekend’s 30th anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s fall provides a good moment to reflect on four reasons that event has failed to deliver on its full potential, writes Frederick Kempe.
AP: Berlin Wall pulled down 891111
East German border guards look through a hole in the Berlin wall after demonstrators pulled down one segment of the wall at Brandenburg gate Saturday, November 11, 1989.
Lionel Cironneau | AP

The most significant hopes and gains unlocked by the Berlin Wall’s fall, which was 30 years ago Saturday, are all at risk.

They included a historic expansion of democracies and open markets, a wave of globalization that created the greatest prosperity and largest global middle class the world has ever seen, and the enlargement the European Union, to 28 from 12 members, and NATO, to 29 from 16 – deepening ties among the world’s leading democracies.

That all brought with it the hope of what then-President George H.W. Bush called in 1989 “A Europe Whole and Free,” in which Russia could find its proper and peaceful place. Bush went even further in September 1990, after the UN Security Council had blessed the U.S.-led coalition’s war to free Kuwait from Iraqi invasion, envisioning a New World Order, “an era in which the nations of the world, East and West, North and South, can prosper and live in harmony.”

The idea had been hatched a month earlier by President Bush and General Brent Scowcroft, his national security adviser, while fishing near the president’s vacation home at Kennebunkport, Maine. They came home with three bluefish and an audacious vision that the Cold War’s end and the Persian Gulf Crisis presented a unique chance to build a global system against aggression “out of the collapse of the US-Soviet antagonisms,” in the words of General Scowcroft.

Reflecting on those heady days, Scowcroft recently told me that he felt everything he had worked for in his life was now at risk. If U.S. and European leaders don’t recover the common purpose they shared at that time – and there is yet little sign they will – this weekend’s Berlin Wall anniversary is more a moment for concern than celebration.

“Look at what is happening in the world,” French President Emmanuel Macron said in a freshly published interview in the Economist. “Things that were unthinkable five years ago. To be wearing ourselves out over Brexit, to have Europe finding it so difficult to move forward, to have an American ally turning its back on us so quickly on strategic issues; nobody would have believed this possible.”

This weekend’s 30th anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s fall provides a good moment to reflect on four reasons that event – one of freedom’s greatest historic triumphs – has failed to deliver on its full potential. Understanding that, might unlock a better path forward.

1. China’s authoritarian turn

Another thirtieth anniversary this year, the crushing of the Tiananmen Square protests in June 1989, might have had even more lasting consequences.

The regime’s attack on the pro-democracy movement, at a time when the Communist Party could have chosen greater liberalization over repression, ensured that the most important rising power of this century would be increasingly authoritarian in nature.

The lesson Beijing took from the Cold War’s end was that the Soviet Union had failed because it had liberalized its economy too little and its politics too much – a fatal combination. Economic liberalization and a growing Chinese middle class failed to bring with it the Western-style democratic freedoms that some thought would follow.

That doesn’t mean a New World Order can’t still be built with Beijing, but it will take considerable vision and patience to knit the two most important countries of our times together simultaneously, as strategic competitors and collaborators.

2. Revanchist Russia and the ‘Gray Zone Conflicts’

There’s a lot of finger pointing still about “who lost Russia” after the Cold War, whether it was Westerners who didn’t offer enough of an embrace or Russians who missed the opportunity.

Wherever you stand in that debate, the U.S. and its European allies failed to appreciate the potential or staying power of Putin, who has made it his life’s purpose to redress what he considered the biggest disaster of the 20th century, Soviet collapse.

At the same time, the enlargement of the European Union and NATO left behind a “gray zone” of 14 countries like Ukraine that were no longer in the Soviet bloc or Warsaw Pact but hadn’t been integrated into Western institutions.

French leader Macron has argued that it would be a huge mistake not to work to find more common ground with Russia. The difficulty is how to do so without selling out the democratic, sovereign hopes of Russia’s neighbors.

3. Europe’s lost momentum

Bill Emmott argues in Project Syndicate this week that the European Union’s biggest problem “is not Euroskepticism but indifference.”

He’s partially right: some 72% of French respondents in an opinion poll based on interviews with over 12,000 respondents across the 28 EU countries don’t think they would miss the EU as well as 67% of Italians and 60% of Germans.

That said, the EU also suffers from not having addressed design flaws that hobble it even as it has grown to its current size of 28 member states with 513 million citizens and a GDP of $18.756 trillion.

They include a monetary union without a fiscal union, immigration policies that allowed free movement inside the so-called Schengen Zone but too-porous external borders, and a failure to envision a world where the U.S. is losing interest, Russia remains a problem, and China is remaking global politics and economics.

Europe is “on the edge of a precipice,” Macron told the Economist. “If we don’t wake up … there’s a considerable risk that in the long run we will disappear Geo-politically, or at least we will no longer be in control of our destiny. I believe that very deeply,” he stated.

4. The lack of U.S. vision and strategy

The Berlin Wall’s fall in 1989 – taken together with Soviet collapse and the Cold War’s end – marked an inflection point of history for U.S. leadership globally that one can compare to 1919, the end of World War I, and 1945, the end of World War II, in its potential historic consequences.

U.S. and European leaders failed after 1919 to prevent the rise of European fascism, and then the Holocaust and World War II. The US got it more right than wrong in 1945 after World War II, creating the institutions and principles that paved the way for one of the world’s most sustained periods of relative peace and prosperity.

In his 1989 “A Europe Whole and Free”, President H.W. Bush underscored how “too many in the West, Americans and Europeans alike, seem[ed] to have forgotten the lessons of our common heritage and how the world we know came to be. And that should not be, and that cannot be.”

Thirty years later, the jury is still out on what the post-Cold War period will bring, but none of the post-Cold War presidencies – from President Bill Clinton to President Donald Trump – have yet recognized the stakes or laid out a strategy commensurate to the risks.

Germany: City Of Dresden Declares “Nazi Emergency”

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CBS NEWS)

 

German city declares “Nazi emergency”

A city in eastern Germany has declared a “Nazi emergency” to tackle the rise of the far-right. Dresden is the capital of Saxony, which is considered a stronghold of the far-right movement.

“‘Nazinotstand’ means – similar to the climate emergency – that we have a serious problem. The open democratic society is threatened,” local councilor Max Aschenbach, who tabled the motion, told BBC News.

Dresden’s city council approved a resolution Wednesday night to 39 votes to 29 to pass the motion that declared “anti-democratic, anti-pluralist, misanthropic and right-wing-extremist attitudes and actions, including violence in Dresden, are occurring with increasing frequency.”

The motion was opposed by Germany’s governing Christian Democrats (CDU), who said it was “primarily an intended provocation.”

“‘State of emergency’ means the collapse or a serious threat to public order,” Jan Donhauser, chairman of the CDU City Council Group, told BBC News. “That is not given rudimentary

. Furthermore, the focus on ‘right-wing extremism’ does not do justice to what we need. We are the guardians of the liberal-democratic basic order and no violence, no matter from which extremist side it comes, is compatible with it.”

Pegida Gathering Coincides With Merkel Visit
Supporters of the anti-Muslim Pegida movement march in their 187th weekly, Monday night gathering not far from the venue where German Chancellor Angela Merkel was speaking on July 15, 2019 in Dresden, Germany. SEAN GALLUP-GETTY IMAGES / GETTY IMAGES

Aschenbach, who is a member of the left-leaning satirical political party Die Partei, said the city was not obliged to take any action following the adoption of his resolution, but that “theoretically, existing measures should be given a higher priority and future decisions should follow this.”

The anti-Islam and xenophobic movement PEGIDA, which stands for German for Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West, began in Dresden in 2014, according to Deutsche Walle. The group regularly holds rallies in the city.

According to Deutsche Walle, Saxony is a stronghold for the far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD), which came in second in state elections in September.

5 Cities With the Most Bridges

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

5 Cities With the Most Bridges

There is some dispute over which city in the United States can claim the nickname of the City of Bridges. Portland, Oregon, claims the name in honor of the 12 bridges in the city limits that span the Willamette River, according to Open Oregon. While Portland’s bridges are well-traveled, those 12 bridges pale in comparison with fellow contender Pittsburgh. The Pennsylvania city disputes Portland’s claim to be the City of Bridges. They want the nickname for themselves, according to WBUR, because of the 446 bridges crisscrossing the Pittsburgh city limits. But are 446 bridges enough to earn them the claim to fame of having the most bridges in the world? Check out the five cities in the world with the most bridges.

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Venice, Italy

Venice, Italy

Credit: zoom-zoom/ iStock

Number of Bridges: 391

According to Venezia Autentica, there are an incredible 391 bridges in the city of Venice. It’s no wonder Venetians need all those bridges. They’ll need them to cross the more than 150 canals within city limits. Bridges in Venice were originally built from wood and laid flat across the canals, making it easy for horses and carts to traverse the city. But when residents found that boats were a more efficient means of transporting goods in the watery city, it changed the way they built bridges. Builders altered bridge designs to include an archway to allow boats to pass underneath.

The most famous bridge in Venice is the Rialto Bridge. According to Best Venice Guides, the bridge was incredibly expensive to build. But determined wealthy merchants of the time wanted to create a stand-out piece of architecture. It’s been one of the hallmarks of the Grand Canal for more than 400 years since it was completed in 1591.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

Credit: Konstantin L/ Shutterstock

Number of Bridges: 446

Pittsburgh might want to claim that it has the most bridges in the world, but it only comes in at number four on our list. Still, according to the BBC, it has an impressive 446 bridges. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation spends more than $150 million each year keeping all those bridges in good condition. It’s no surprise that steel makes up those bridges, either, as Pittsburgh is often called “Steel City.” The name doesn’t come from the bridges, though. Rather, it’s due to the area’s history with the steel industry. That’s also why they named the local football team the Steelers.

According to Visit Pittsburgh, the most recognizable bridges in the city are the Three Sisters. Said to be the only trio of identical bridges in the United States, this set of bridges crosses the Allegheny River, connecting the two halves of the city.

New York City, New York, USA

New York City, New York, USA

Credit: FilippoBacci/ iStock

Number of Bridges: 789

The New York City Department of Transportation says they manage 789 bridges within the city. The actual number of bridges in NYC could be higher, though. There are many bridges in the city that aren’t under the department’s control. But 789 bridges is still an impressive number. Possibly the most famous bridge in the city is the Brooklyn Bridge. The bridge opened in 1883, according to History.com, and cost more than $320 million to build (in today’s dollars).

While crossing the Brooklyn Bridge is a rite of passage for most visitors to the city, it isn’t the busiest bridge in the city. That honor goes to the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge, according to the NYC Department of Transportation. Also known as the 59th Street Bridge, it spans the East River and carries more than 170,000 vehicles each day. The bridge originally opened in 1909 and was renamed in honor of former mayor Ed Koch in 2010. Whether you call it the Queensboro Bridge, the 59th Street Bridge, or the Ed Koch Bridge, it’s an impressive cantilevered bridge that’s served the city for more than one hundred years.

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Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Credit: Veronika Galkina/ Shutterstock

Number of Bridges: 1281

Venice isn’t the only city with an impressive network of canals and bridges. The Venice of the North, Amsterdam, surpasses it in number of bridges. According to Amsterdam for Visitors, the city has 165 canals and an amazing 1281 bridges. That network developed because Amsterdam sits on what was originally swampland. As people moved into the city, they drained sections of the swamp to create dry land on which to build. The canals surrounded the new areas, allowing the residents to get around via small boats. They were also handy for defensive reasons, making it harder to attack the city.

There are a lot of beautiful bridges in Amsterdam, and the pedestrian-friendly city makes it easy to get around to see them all. Hopping on one of the canal tours may be the best way to see the bridges, though, as you can glide under them while a guide tells you about the history. If you are lucky, you’ll see a few of the most famous bridges, including the Torensluis Bridge. According to I Am Amsterdam, this bridge was built in 1648, making it the oldest bridge still standing in the city.

Hamburg, Germany

Hamburg, Germany

Credit: nilsz/ iStock

Number of Bridges: More than 2300

Hamburg takes the number one spot on this list. The Telegraph reports that the German city has more than 2300 bridges. The bridges of both cities were born from a similar issue: too much water. Practically surrounded by water, Hamburg sits at a marshy fork in the Elbe. It’s thanks to that location that Hamburg is the second busiest port in Europe, according to Amusing Planet. Large container ships come in and out of the city every day. So while all that water helped to build a strong economy in Hamburg, it also meant those bridge builders had to get busy creating ways for vehicles and pedestrians to get around. And get busy they did, as the city has more bridges than all the other cities on our list combined.

Not only is the number impressive, but the architecture of the bridges themselves is pretty incredible, too. One of the most famous bridges in Hamburg is the Kolbrand Bridge, which was completed in 1974. The bridge carries more than 38,000 vehicles each day, according to Hamburg Port Authority. The bridge was never intended to handle that much traffic, though. So if you want to see this beautiful bridge, you’ll want to book your tickets to Hamburg soon. Authorities are in talks to start replacing the bridge in the next few years.

The 10 Countries With The Most Billionaires

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

The 10 Countries With The Most Billionaires

 

Countries With the Most Billionaires

The world is home to about 2,754 billionaires who together control $9.2 trillion in wealth, according to the 2018 Billionaire Census, compiled annually by Wealth-X.

While billionaires are spread out all over the globe, that wealth is concentrated in a small handful of countries. As it turns out, 40 percent of the world’s billionaires reside in the countries below.

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10. United Arab Emirates

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The United Arab Emirates, or UAE, is an oil-rich Arab nation on the Persian Gulf. It’s also home to 62 billionaires who together have a total wealth of $168 billion.

Dubai, the capital city, is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, thanks to architectural wonders like the Burj Khalifa — which is currently the tallest building in the world. Dubai is also home to 65 percent of the nation’s billionaires, according to Wealth-X data.

9. Saudi Arabia

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Saudi Arabia is a mecca for billionaires, literally and figuratively. The country ties its neighbor for the total number of billionaires with 62, but it’s got the UAE beat in terms of shared wealth. Saudi billionaires hold a total of $169 billion, $1 billion more than their Emirati counterparts.

Saudi Arabia is the largest economy in the Middle East, thanks to the more than 266,000 barrels of untapped oil lying beneath its desert sands. The nation exports more oil than any other country, and the size of its reserve is second only to Venezuela.

8. United Kingdom

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The United Kingdom is home to 90 billionaires at last count, who together hold $251 billion.

You might be surprised to learn that Queen Elizabeth II isn’t among them; she’s worth only half a billion. The U.K. billionaire club includes a diverse list of business people such as steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal ($18.9 billion), bagless vacuum inventor Sir James Dyson and family ($12.3 billion), and Virgin Atlantic founder and space cowboy Richard Branson ($4.1 billion).

But you’ve probably never heard of the U.K’s richest man: Jim Ratcliffe, CEO of London-based chemical manufacturer Ineos. Ratliffe is entirely self-made, mortgaging his house to buy his first chemical assets.

7. Hong Kong

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We know, we know. Hong Kong isn’t really a country, per se. It is a semi-autonomous region of China. But its high concentration of billionaires makes it worthy of distinction. The city-state has a total of 93 billionaires worth a combined $315 billion.

In terms of billionaire cities, Hong Kong is ranked second, nestled between New York (#1) and San Francisco (#3). Hong Kong owes its wealth to more than a century of British rule, which came to an end in 1997. Possessing one of the world’s busiest shipping ports, Hong Kong became a manufacturing powerhouse.

The country’s richest person is 90-year-old entrepreneur Li Ka-shing. A high school dropout, Li made his fortune in plastic manufacturing, port development, and retail.

6. Russia

Credit: Mordolff / iStock

Russia is home to 96 billionaires worth a combined $351 billion. That number doesn’t include the net worth of President Vladimir Putin, who is rumored to be the world’s richest man with $200 billion in secret assets. But according to documents filed with the Russian election commission, Putin only claims to earn an average annual salary of $112,000.

Officially, Russia’s richest man is Leonid Mikhelson at $23.6 billion. Mikhelson is CEO of Novatek, Russia’s largest independent natural gas company. He’s among the politically powerful Russian oligarchs who rose to power after rapidly gobbling up assets when Russia’s state-owned companies went private.

5. Switzerland

Credit: AleksandarGeorgiev / iStock

Switzerland has 99 billionaires worth a total of $265 billion. That’s a high concentration of billionaires for such a small country, and once a year it gets even more concentrated. CEOs and heads of state from all over the world descend upon the snowy ski-town of Davos at the beginning every year for the World Economic Forum.

Many Swiss billionaires owe their riches to the banking and financial industry. Provided the country’s neutral status during both World Wars, and its centuries-long tradition of secrecy, Swiss banks became a global favorite. In 2018 it was estimated that Swiss banks held $6.5 trillion in assets, which is a quarter of all global cross-border assets.

4. India

Credit: Leonid Andronov / iStock

India is a country of extremes. About 58 percent of the population lives in extreme poverty, surviving off less than $3.10 a day. It is also home to one of the fastest-growing economies and 104 billionaires in total. Together India’s billionaires are worth $299 billion.

The country’s richest man is Mukesh Ambani, who is worth an estimated $49.6 billion. He owns 43 percent of Reliance Industries, which owns a little bit of everything: energy, oil, textiles, retail stores and telecom. Ambani also owns a professional cricket team, the Mumbai Indians.

3. Germany

Credit: bkindler / iStock

With 152 in total, you might be asking why Germany has so many billionaires. The answer is cars, machines, chemicals, electronics and groceries.

As it turns out, that “Germany engineering” you always hear about is a real thing, and it’s worth a lot of money. German billionaires control a total of $466 billion in assets, much of it earned from industrial and chemical manufacturing companies.

But the country’s richest person is Dieter Schwarz, whose company owns Europe’s largest supermarket chains, Lidl and Kaufland. At 79, Schwarz is worth a whopping $24.9 billion.

2. China

Credit: bjdlzx / iStock

At 338, China is home to 12 percent of the world’s billionaires who together possess $1 trillion in total wealth. Deng Xiaoping, who served as leader from 1978 to 1989, paved the way for the country’s growth by drastically reforming the economy. Flash forward to today where China generates a new billionaire every two days, according to UBS. The richest among them is Alibaba founder Jack Ma, with a net worth of $40.1 billion.

1. The United States

Credit: FilippoBacci / iStock

The United States is far and away the leader when it comes to billionaires with a total of 680. That is 25 percent of all billionaires in the world. U.S. billionaires have more than $3.16 trillion in assets combined.

America’s four richest billionaires are household names: Amazon founder Jeff Bezos ($120 billion), Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates ($95.5 billion), investing genius Warren Buffett ($82.5 billion) and Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg ($65.9 billion).

 

 

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