The World Today for October 28, 2021

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Justice’s Clock

GERMANY

Seventy-five years ago, the victorious allies of World War II concluded the trials in Nuremberg that resulted in 12 Nazis receiving death sentences for war crimes and crimes against humanity related to the Holocaust, or the extermination of six million Jews and millions of others in Europe, the Scotland-based National newspaper wrote.

The job is still not over. In February, the US extradited 95-year-old Friedrich Karl Berger from Tennessee to Germany for his alleged work as an armed guard at the Neuengamme concentration camp, according to the US Department of Justice. German prosecutors eventually dropped the case due to a lack of evidence, the Agence France-Presse reported.

Meanwhile, German prosecutors recently put a former SS guard, 100 years old, on trial as an accessory to more than 3,000 murders. Alongside that case, a German court started proceedings against a 96-year-old woman who worked as a secretary in a Nazi concentration camp. As the BBC explained, Irmgard Furchner fled from her nursing home to avoid appearing in court but was found in nearby Hamburg. Furchner was a “stenographer and typist” who allegedly helped commanders at the Stutthof concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland murder more than 11,000 people, wrote CNN.

Less than one percent of Nazi war criminals have ever faced justice even though it’s estimated that up to a million people were directly or indirectly involved in holocaust atrocities. That statistic understandably galls the descendants of Holocaust victims like Robin Lustig, who recently penned a piece in the Guardian about a new documentary, “Getting Away With Murder,” that shows how “unpunished Nazi war criminals who escaped after 1945…lived the rest of their lives undisturbed.”

The Financial Times described the sensation of watching a scene in the documentary where a drone flies over the notorious concentration camp, Auschwitz, in Nazi-occupied Poland. “The obscene scale is made new,” the newspaper wrote. “The death camp seems to go on forever. As a metaphor, the moment fits a film that argues that there can be no end to the Holocaust when so few of its perpetrators ever saw a courtroom.”

One might legitimately ask what’s the purpose of prosecuting elderly folks who participated or became caught up, willingly and unwillingly, in the Nazi death machine. Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff has no time for these arguments. In the Irish Times, he explained how war criminals who escaped the consequences of their horrific actions should never get off scot-free. “The passage of time in no way diminishes the guilt of the perpetrators,” he wrote.

Humiliating Nazis is an end in itself, too, wrote ethicist Zachary Goldberg in the Washington Post. It gives society a chance to reaffirm values, identifies what is beyond the pale and elevates victims who suffered unspeakable crimes.

There is great value to never forgetting.

THE WORLD, BRIEFLY

The Shades of Accountability

BRAZIL

A Brazilian Senate committee recommended President Jair Bolsonaro be charged with crimes against humanity and other charges over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, Axios reported Wednesday.

The 11-member committee voted seven to four in favor of the charges, which included crimes against humanity, misuse of public funds and “charlatanism.” The report’s lead author, Senator Renan Calheiros, accused the far-right president of being “on the side” of dictators.

The vote follows the closure of a six-month investigation into Bolsonaro’s response to the pandemic: The populist leader has been accused of continuously underplaying the severity of the pandemic and has spoken out against lockdowns, masks and vaccinations.

The Senate report holds him responsible for many of Brazil’s more than 600,000 coronavirus-related deaths – the second-highest death toll after the United States worldwide.

The case is expected to go to Prosecutor-General Augusto Aras, who will determine whether to pursue the charges. Aras is a Bolsonaro appointee and is widely viewed as someone who will shield the president from prosecution.

Meanwhile, the charges of crimes against humanity will need to be pursued by the International Criminal Court, according to the Associated Press.

All-Inclusive

ISRAEL

Israel’s government approved a plan this week to spend billions of dollars on improving conditions for its Arab Israeli citizens, following years of complaints about being marginalized, the BBC reported.

The spending plan includes more than $9 billion that will be used to improve housing, infrastructure and employment opportunities for the minority community. Nearly $1 billion will be earmarked to tackle the high crime rate in Israeli-Arab areas.

The government said the funds will also focus on Israeli-Arab women’s health and facilitate their access to the labor market.

Parliament will vote on the plan, which is part of the overall budget, next month.

The Arab Islamist Raam Party, which is part of the governing coalition, welcomed the move: Party leader Mansour Abbas noted that although the spending plan “will not erase years of neglect, (it) will go a long way to close the gaps between Jewish and Arab sectors.”

Arabs make up about 20 percent of Israel’s population of 9.3 million and have long complained that their communities receive less funding than Jewish ones.

Crime and violence have also been problematic in the community: More than 100 Israeli Arabs were killed by other members of their community this year.

Israeli Arabs attribute the high crime rate to police inaction, but authorities say that investigations have been hindered by mistrust and a lack of cooperation.

ID, Please

AUSTRALIA

The Australian government issued a draft law this week that would order social media platforms to require parental consent for users under the age of 16 to join, the latest in a series of regulations aimed at big tech companies, Newsweek reported.

Under the new rules, social media platforms need to take reasonable steps to verify the user’s age and must first consider the interests of young users when dealing with their personal data.

Officials noted that the bill also seeks to help Australian youth with mental health issues, saying that social media is “part of the problem” for “a consistent increase in signs of distress and mental ill-health among young people.”

They added that the bill also aims to protect Australian netizens and enforce privacy laws. Failure to comply will result in fines of $7.5 million.

The draft law comes after former Facebook product manager and whistleblower, Frances Haugen, accused the social media giant of unethical practices and of putting profit before user safety, Euronews reported.

Even so, the new online rules are not surprising – Australia has repeatedly called for imposing international regulations on big tech firms.

This year, the country passed a law that could imprison social media executives if platforms display violent images. Another bill required Google and Facebook to pay for the journalism it places on the networks.

DISCOVERIES

En garde!

French women are fighting back against breast cancer by picking up swords, according to France 24.

Breast cancer patients in Lyon have been signing up for fencing classes as a way to battle their common enemy and get some exercise in the process. Most of the participants are recovering patients but others are still going through chemotherapy, such as Natalie, who was diagnosed in March.

“Fencing is a good activity to let off steam and unload,” she said. “Often we associate the invisible enemy in front of our sword with the cancer. With our swords we chase it, we slay it and smash it into a million pieces.”

Besides boosting their confidence, the martial art is also helping patients build up strength in their arms after operations.

“We work on the side that has been operated on,” explained Laure Sibué, the fencing teacher.

Studies have shown that regular physical exercises can reduce the risk of cancer recurring and improve survival rates, according to the National Cancer Institute.

For fencers like Martine, the classes have helped her gain more mobility in her right arm.

“We come to the class tired and leave full of energy,” she said.

The World Health Organization has designated October as “Breast Cancer Awareness” month to spread awareness of a disease that affects up to one in eight women.

Weekly World Quiz

COVID-19 Global Update

Total Cases Worldwide: 245,058,083

Total Deaths Worldwide: 4,973,384

Total Vaccinations Worldwide: 6,888,779,374

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

  1. US: 45,704,110 (+0.19%)
  2. India: 34,231,809 (+0.05%)
  3. Brazil: 21,766,168 (+0.08%)
  4. UK: 8,938,965 (+0.50%)
  5. Russia: 8,220,975 (+0.43%)
  6. Turkey: 7,935,977 (+0.34%)
  7. France: 7,242,180 (+0.10%)
  8. Iran: 5,888,100 (+0.18%)
  9. Argentina: 5,284,485 (+0.03%)
  10. Spain: 5,006,675 (+0.05%)

Source: Johns Hopkins University

*Numbers change over 24 hours

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