Thousands of protestors gathered in Paris on Tuesday, Feb. 9 to march in protest against a series of anti-Semitic attacks, including the desecration of one hundred Jewish graves in a cemetery with swastikas, defacement of portraits of Holocaust survivor Simone Veil and the cutting down of a tree that was planted in memory of a young Jew tortured to death by a gang. France has a Jewish community of 550,000, the biggest in Europe. The number of anti-Semitic attacks in the country has risen from 311 in 2017 to 541 in 2018—a rise of 74 percent. Jewish groups have warned that far right groups across Europe have been increasingly promoting anti-Semitism and hatred of other minorities.
One person has died in an avalanche at the Crans-Montana ski resort in the Swiss Alps. The avalanche was unexpected, as the snow around the area is carefully monitored to avoid risks. The avalanche covered 1,300 feet of slopes marked out for skiers. Rescue crews searched through the night, but the search was called off Wednesday after failing to find anyone and no missing person reports had been filed. The single casualty was a 34-year-old French national who had been working in the Crans-Montana ski patrol service and died in the hospital.
The Bramble Cay melomys, a small rodent indigenous to a tiny island near Papua New Guinea, has officially been declared extinct by the Australian government. The rodent has not been recorded since 2009. The government reported that the extinction was caused by rising ocean levels which overtook the small island, causing habitat loss and flooding. The report also says that this is likely the first recorded extinction of a mammal due to climate change. Experts warn that Australia’s biodiversity is being threatened by climate change. (BBC)
Poet Abdirahman Abees has been detained in Somaliland following his recitation of poems criticizing the Somaliland government in the capital, Hargeisa. The poem calls on the government to reform the criminal justice system and prisons. Human rights organization Amnesty International has demanded his release and called for authorities to investigate the mistreatments described in Abees’ poems rather than detaining critics. Abees could face three years in prison if he’s found guilty.
Fan Fenghui, the former Chief of Joint Staff of the People’s Liberation Army, was sentenced to life in prison this past week. Fang was found guilty of corruption for bribery. According to President Xi Jinping, this is part of an ongoing anti-corruption drive within the government which has punished over a million officials since President Xi took power in 2012. The country is particularly focusing on the military, in a modernization campaign of the world’s largest military. Fang has been under investigation for corruption since 2017. Some have described the campaign as an internal purge of opponents. (BBC)