The World Today for August 31, 2021

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Erfan Kudusov and many other Tatars fled Crimea when Russia annexed the peninsula in 2014. To many in Kudusov’s community, the Russian takeover evoked Josef Stalin’s mass deportation of Crimean Tatars in 1944. Their fears were not overblown.

Tatar friends of Kudusov who remained in Crimea have faced systematic persecution. Some have been charged and convicted of extremism, separatism and membership in banned organizations and sentenced to prison terms as long as 19 years.

“Russia is enforcing a concentration camp there behind a nice facade,” Kudusov told the Associated Press. “People in Crimea are very scared and fear talking aloud about it.”

Oppression of the Tatars was one issue raised at the recent Crimean Platform, a recent Ukraine-sponsored summit that seeks to address Russia’s internationally condemned occupation of former Ukrainian territory. “I will personally do everything possible to return Crimea so that it becomes part of Europe together with Ukraine,” Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said at the event, according to Al Jazeera.

Speaking to Euronews, Chatham House expert John Lough argued the Platform demonstrated how Ukraine has many allies in its struggle against Russia. Others aren’t so sure. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was absent, potentially due to Zelenskyy’s fears that leaders in Berlin and Moscow were becoming friendlier as they complete the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that will bypass Ukraine to deliver Russian gas to Western Europe.

The need for the summit highlighted how the West has enjoyed little success in foiling the Kremlin’s plans on the Crimean peninsula, wrote Politico.

Russia, meanwhile, insists that historic and cultural links and a questionable pro-annexation referendum in 2014 legitimize its occupation. Russia has issued Russian passports to Crimean residents and spent billions on a new bridge connecting the peninsula and the Russian mainland. A Russian airborne assault unit is to be formed there.

Russian authorities are asserting their hold legally on the region, too. They have also launched an investigation into alleged “ecocide” following Ukraine’s decision to turn off water supplies to Crimea in retaliation for the Russian aggression, Radio Free Europe reported.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said participants at the Platform, which he called a “spectacle,” were divorced from reality. “This is a falsely understood solidarity,” he told Tass.

Some Platform participants appear to agree. A day after the Platform, Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid told Radio Free Europe that she believed “strategic patience” was necessary on the issue.

Meanwhile, Tatars like Kudusov are tired of waiting.



Extra Eyes

South Korean lawmakers are considering a bill that would require hospitals and clinics to install surveillance cameras in their operating rooms, a move that many medical practitioners in the country say will lead to a “collapse” of health care, Sky News reported Monday.

The controversial bill is aimed at fighting medical malpractice and accidents in which doctors delegate surgeries to unqualified staff. If passed, South Korea would become the first developed nation to order closed-circuit cameras to record surgical procedures.

The pressure to add surveillance cameras has gained steam in recent years, particularly following a 2016 botched plastic surgery case: University student Kwon Dae-hee died of a hemorrhage following a 49-day coma as a result of a jawline surgery.

His mother, Lee Na-geum, reviewed footage of the surgery and found that the procedure was performed by an unqualified nursing assistant and an intern doctor. She later sued the hospital and the head surgeon, who was later found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to three years in jail.

South Korea’s Medical Services Act prohibits doctors from delegating surgeries to unlicensed personnel, an act punishable by up to five years in prison and a possible fine.

Many doctors and medical groups, including the 140,000-member Korean Medical Association, oppose the legislation. They argue that the bill would undermine trust in doctors, violate patient privacy and discourage medical practitioners from taking risks to save lives.

Even so, an April poll by the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission showed that more than 97 percent of respondents supported the surveillance bill.


Playing By the Rules

China will ban minors from playing online video games for more than three hours per week, the latest regulation amid an ongoing government crackdown against the country’s large tech companies, the New York Post reported Monday.

The state-run Xinhua news service said that the new measure will require gamers below the age of 18 to only play between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and official holidays. Children will be prohibited from playing games during school days.

Under the new regulations, online game companies will need to register young players using their real identification to avoid children and teenagers from creating fake accounts.

To fight video game addiction, China imposed a rule in 2019 that would limit gaming hours for minors: Previously, gamers under the age of 18 could play 90 minutes per day on weekdays and about three hours per day on weekends and holidays.

It’s unclear when the new rules will take effect but the announcement comes a few weeks after Chinese state media labeled online games as “spiritual opium.” The provocative comment sent the shares of many game-makers plummeting.

Monday’s new regulations also scared investors, causing the New York-traded shares of gaming giant NetEase to fall 8.8 percent when US markets opened. Tencent, another tech giant, saw a drop of 2.5 percent.

The stricter rules are part of the Chinese government’s crackdown against multiple tech firms, including e-commerce giant Alibaba.

Earlier this month, the government took a board seat and stake in a China-based subsidiary of TikTok maker ByteDance, prompting calls from at least one US lawmaker for TikTok to be banned.



The European Union issued a recommendation Monday to reinstate restrictions on American travelers to the 27-nation bloc, a move that could raise transatlantic tensions, the Washington Post reported.

Under the recommendation, bloc officials urged states to remove the US from the EU “safe list” of countries whose residents don’t face travel restrictions. The recommendation would mainly affect unvaccinated travelers. The recommendation is not legally binding.

The EU’s move follows a spike in cases in the US in August, sparking concerns of another surge: According to the bloc’s official recommendation, countries should be removed from the “safe list” if they exceed 75 new coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents over the past 14 days.

Earlier this month, the US recorded nearly 400 new cases per 100,000. By the end of the month, that number has reached more than 620 cases per 100,000 people.

The decision marks the latest chapter in an ongoing spat between the US and the EU over travel restrictions. While the bloc lifted restrictions for US travelers in June, the Biden administration continues to restrict European travelers from entering the US.

The airlines and travel trade groups criticized the EU’s recent move, saying it would hurt European economies.

Even so, European countries could leave things as they are: It is now up to individual EU nations to implement restrictions, analysts said. Observers noted that countries with a large tourism sector, such as Greece and Spain, would most likely ignore the new rules.


Till Death…And After

Archaeologists in northern China came across a tomb occupied by two skeletons holding each other in a loving embrace, USA Today reported.

Researchers wrote in their study that the remains belonged to a man and woman that lived around 1,500 years ago during the Northern Wei period.

“The message was clear – husband and wife lay together, embracing each other for eternal love during the afterlife,” the authors said in their paper.

The team added that the couple was found with more than 600 other tombs at a cemetery uncovered during construction in the city of Datong, in Shanxi province.

They explained that such burials are not uncommon but noted that “evidence of direct materialization of love in burials (such as Taj Mahal) has been rare, and rarer in skeletal forms.”

Scientists aren’t sure who died first but the male had signs of an unhealed injury – meaning there’s a likelihood the woman might have sacrificed herself to be with the man. The two also could have died together.

Study author Qun Zhang suggested that the couple was buried during a period when Buddhism was beginning to spread and people were increasingly focused on the afterlife.

“This discovery is a unique display of the human emotion of love in a burial, offering a rare glimpse of concepts of love, life, death and the afterlife in northern China during a time of intense cultural and ethnic exchange,” he wrote.

COVID-19 Global Update

Total Cases Worldwide: 217,129,451

Total Deaths Worldwide: 4,510,299

Total Vaccinations Worldwide: 5,245,483,160

Countries with the highest number of confirmed cases worldwide as of 4 a.m. ET*

  1. US: 39,057,459 (+0.67%)
  2. India: 32,768,880 (+0.09%)
  3. Brazil: 20,752,281 (+0.05%)
  4. France: 6,834,834 (+0.11%)
  5. Russia: 6,803,323 (+0.26%)
  6. UK: 6,789,189 (+0.39%)
  7. Turkey: 6,366,408 (+0.58%)
  8. Argentina: 5,178,889 (+0.10%)
  9. Iran: 4,960,744 (+0.69%)
  10. Colombia: 4,907,264 (+0.04%)

Source: Johns Hopkins University

*Numbers change over 24 hours

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