The World Today for June 13, 2024

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Tinted Lenses


Bombs and bullets are flying in the Gaza Strip even as both sides mull a ceasefire deal. Even so, the battles over hearts and minds are just as intense.

As a result, what Israelis see is a very different war than is broadcast to the rest of the world, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Israeli television, for example, covers the bloodshed on a daily basis as Israeli forces have pounded Gaza to destroy Hamas, the Palestinian group that perpetrated the deadly Oct. 7 attacks on Israel. The coverage, however, rarely covers the human suffering in the tiny region of the Mediterranean that has been described as an open-air prison.

“There is virtually no footage of dead Palestinians and only some scenes of the destruction,” wrote the newspaper. “Many Israeli Jews, who usually consume news in Hebrew, also say they rarely come across explicit footage of Gaza on their smartphones, though they are aware there has been widespread destruction and a high death toll.”

When Palestinians are covered, like when an Israeli air strike killed 35 in the southern Gazan city of Rafah recently, right-wing Israeli media dehumanizes them, reported the left-leaning Haaretz, comparing the fiery carnage to the traditional bonfires that many Israelis light on the Jewish holiday of Lag Ba’Omer.

In this environment, the reality on the ground is difficult to discern – unless government officials want the public to see their version of it. At the behest of the Israeli government, for example, Israeli courts have been increasingly issuing gag orders to prevent the press and others from exposing the government’s embarrassing or compromising policies, as this Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University explained.

The suppression is not always legal, however. One Haaretz reporter recently complained that “unnamed senior security officials” threatened him if he reported on a former Mossad official who allegedly tried to intimidate a prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, according to the Guardian. The court is now considering war crime charges against Israel.

At other times, the censorship is overtly political. The Israeli government shut down Al Jazeera because the news outlet is deemed to be a threat to national security under a new law, reported the New York Times. Al Jazeera is a private media outlet funded partly by the Qatari government and is even a main source of news for Israeli officials such as right-wing justice minister Yariv Levin, Israel Hayom reported. Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates – all autocratic countries – have also shut down local offices or banned the organization, the Associated Press noted.

That same law has been used to threaten Israeli journalists and confiscate the broadcasting equipment of the Associated Press.

Now, Israeli legislator Zvi Sukkot wants to propose amending the law that banned Al Jazeera to include imprisonment for anyone helping such channels to broadcast which include journalists, service providers and sources, the Israeli media-focused magazine The Seventh Eye, reported.

Israeli journalists say the selective programming reflects the mood in the country – there is no appetite for anything but pro-war programming.

Officials meanwhile point out how Al Jazeera has shown very little on the Oct. 7 attacks, leading most in the Palestinian enclave to doubt the veracity of the massacres on that day.

Critics of Israel, however, say these moves to sanitize the coverage reflect the mindset of an authoritarian government that acts with impunity.

But supporters of Israel say it has unfortunately contributed to the development of a situation in which many Israelis feel isolated and misunderstood by most of the rest of the world in the wake of the attacks, especially with the International Criminal Court case of genocide against Israel, the global protests against the war and condemnation of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

“We are slowly becoming outcasts, and that is a very difficult feeling,” Amit Schwartz, a tech employee in Tel Aviv told the Christian Science Monitor.

“I really disagree with the opinion that we are committing genocide,” he said, adding that many in the West are “disconnected from reality.” “I feel frustration that there is such misunderstanding about the situation here. Islamic extremists are trying to take over, and Israel is fighting this.”


Shifting Gears


The European Union raised tariffs on electric vehicles (EVs) imported from China in a move aimed at protecting the bloc’s automotive industry from unfair competition – but drawing a sharp rebuke from Beijing that could potentially escalate into a trade war, CNN reported.

The new tariffs, ranging from 17.4 to 38.1 percent, are in addition to the existing 10 percent levy – bringing the maximum duty close to 50 percent.

The new duties follow an investigation by the European Commission into Chinese state support for its EV industry last year. The commission concluded that the EV industry in China “benefits from unfair subsidization, which is causing a threat of economic injury.”

BYD, one of the world’s largest EV sellers, faces the lowest additional duty at 17.1 percent, while Geely and SAIC are hit with 20 percent and 38.1 percent, respectively. Other Chinese EV manufacturers cooperating with the investigation will face a 21 percent duty, while non-cooperators will incur 38.1 percent.

Analysts explained that the tariff hike reflects the EU’s protective stance against cheap Chinese imports that threaten local jobs and industries. It coincides with similar actions by the United States, where President Joe Biden recently increased tariffs on Chinese EVs to 100 percent.

Beijing criticized the EU’s decision, accusing it of escalating trade tensions and harming European consumers, according to CNBC.

Chinese officials vowed to defend the interests of Chinese companies, with observers hinting at potential retaliatory measures: These would include increasing tariffs on EU vehicle imports from 15 to 25 percent, as well as targeting other European exports of wine and other luxury goods.

Business analysts noted that European automakers, especially those with significant manufacturing operations in China, face increased costs due to these tariffs. They added that Germany’s car industry heavily relies on China for sales and faces more risks from Beijing’s potential retaliatory actions than other countries.

The EU must decide by November whether to make these tariffs permanent, even as the bloc is divided over them. While France and Spain support the tariffs, Germany opposes them.

No Good Deed …


A Bangladeshi court on Wednesday indicted Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus and 13 others on embezzlement charges, the latest accusations against the respected economist that many of his supporters say are politically motivated, the Associated Press reported.

The prosecution accused Yunus and other defendants of embezzling around $2 million from the employees’ welfare fund of Grameen Telecom, one of the many companies he founded. The defendants are also accused of money laundering.

The trial against them will take place next month.

Yunus and others have denied the allegations and accused authorities of “harassing” him and his colleagues. His lawyer told Agence France-Presse that the charges against him were serious and he could face “up to a life term in prison” if found guilty.

Yunus is well-known around the world for pioneering a microfinance bank to help impoverished populations, especially women. For his work, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.

But Yunus has previously clashed with the Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who has accused him of “sucking blood” from the poor.

In January, Yunus and three colleagues from Grameen Telecom were sentenced to six months in prison for violating labor laws.

Yunus is also facing more than 100 other charges related to labor law violations and alleged graft.

His supporters – including more than 170 world leaders and Nobel laureates – have urged Hasina to suspend legal proceedings against Yunus, as well as accused the government of targeting him politically.

The government has denied the accusations.

Making an Example


A United Nations-affiliated body is reviewing allegations that Canada’s Human Rights Commission discriminated against Black and other minorities, potentially impacting the commission’s role in UN human rights activities, Reuters reported.

The Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions, which accredits national human rights bodies, announced the special review in a report published Friday.

The review follows findings by Canada’s Senate and Treasury Board Secretariat of systemic racial discrimination within the commission. These findings highlighted higher dismissal rates of race-based complaints and the exclusion of Black employees, as well as employees of color being disproportionately denied promotions.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission claimed it has made significant progress in supporting race-based discrimination complaints and is committed to creating a diverse, respectful workplace. It welcomed the review and plans to provide information on its efforts to address systemic anti-Black racism.

The commission manages human rights complaints against the federal government, and its responsibilities include representing the public interest in litigation, conducting research and reporting to Parliament.

It received an “A” status accreditation in 1999 and again in 2006, 2011, 2016 and 2023. A downgrade to “B” status would strip the commission of its independent participation rights at the UN Human Rights Council.

The Black Class Action Secretariat, which filed the complaint in February, cited systemic discrimination as the basis for the review.

Executive Director Nicholas Marcus Thompson warned that a downgrade would significantly impact Canada’s international standing, adding that the Canadian government “cannot claim to be a global leader in human rights while discriminating against its own right here at home.”



Living creatures who carry fetuses to term experience an energy spike, long thought to be caused by the fetus.

But now, a team of Australian researchers found that it is the bearer’s own body that demands such high amounts of energy, according to a new study.

While energy invested in the offspring – the direct cost – was well documented, the energy expended to make babies – the indirect cost – was “unquantified but often assumed to be small,” researchers wrote in the study.

The scientists combined data from thousands of previous studies covering a wide range of species including goats, snakes, insects, lizards, and humans.

In the end, researchers examined the costs of reproduction for 81 species and found that the size of an animal has a big influence on how much energy it needs to reproduce.

Microscopic animals called rotifers need less than a millionth of a calorie to produce an offspring, while a white-tailed deer doe needs more than 112,000 calories to do so.

The metabolism of a species also plays a part, for example, warm-blooded mammals use three times the energy than coldblooded fauna of the same size do

Their most striking finding was that the direct cost of bringing an offspring to term was typically smaller than the indirect one. Even by excluding lactation, they estimated that the metabolic load of bearing a baby represented around 90 percent of total reproductive costs for mammals.

“We went back to the sources many times because it seemed astonishingly high based on the expectation from theory,” co-author Dustin Marshall, who teaches evolutionary biology at Monash University in Melbourne, told the New York Times.

The researchers understood that for mammals and other warm-blooded animals, energy was also spent on keeping up their temperature – and of course, that of the womb.

They also found that placentas were “metabolically expensive.”

Overall, they established that pregnancy costs a human nearly 50,000 calories not necessarily spread evenly across the pregnancy term.

That equals about 75 steak dinners, or 219 Mars bars.

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