Heated discussion about Jewish eruv in London
There is currently a heated discussion underway in Hampstead
and Golders Green, suburbs of London, about the arrival of an eruv,
an area where orthodox Jews are allowed to push prams and wheel
chairs on the Sabbath. Orthodox Jews are forbidden to transport
any vehicles outside the house on the Sabbath. An eruv, which already
exists in nearly 200 cities throughout the world, is an area partially
fenced in by high poles with wire, and partially by existing borders
such as railway lines. The organisationThe
United Synagogue has requested that an eruv be constructed so
that invalids and mothers with young children can participate in
the collective celebration of the Sabbath.
The plan has created resistance from all sorts of groups. One group
believes that it is improper in principal that some people have
to be dependent on a fence in order to be permitted to go outside.
Another group is afraid that the Jewish inhabitants are trying to
appropriate the neighbourhood with this type of 'fence', and fears
an influx of new Jewish inhabitants and thus possible anti-Semitic
attacks. A third organisation considers dozens of telephone-type
poles an eyesore.
Meanwhile the first poles have already been set.
Open criticism by Cuban rappers
A few young rappers have dared to openly criticise their lives
on the socialist island during the annual Cuban hiphop festival.
Singer Papa Humbertico and members of the group Alto Voltaje criticised
the economic malaise, the boredom among the youth, and the display
of power by the Cuban police, and all this was enthusiastically
received by the thousands of spectators present. Cuba has had a
strong hiphop movement for some ten years and currently has approximately
five hundred hiphop groups.
UNESCO requests support for flooded cultural treasures
Koïchiro Matsuura, director-general of UNESCO,
has asked the international community for help to restore devastated
cultural treasures in Europe. Floods have damaged historical buildings,
libraries and archives, primarily in the Czech Republic and Germany.
Matsuura is particularly concerned about damage to the monuments
on the List
of World Treasures, such as the historical centre of Prague
and the local Jewish neighbourhood dating from the Middle Ages.
In Dresden part of the Semper Opera, the Frauenkirche and the Zwingerpaleis
have been damaged by water. The famous baroque buildings had just
been restored. Denis MacShane, the British minister of Foreign Affairs,
has called on art students in his country to lend a helping hand
to the areas affected.
More information: UNESCO
Russians angry at British author
A few Russian opinion makers have reacted angrily to passages from
the new novel by Martin Amis. In Koba the Dread, Laughter and
the Twenty Million the British author compares the regime of
Stalin to a black comedy. Stalin's regime cost twenty million people
their lives. According to Amis the absurdity of that regime gives
the period almost a comic character. In Amis’ opinion that
hilarious element is precisely the reason that Stalin’s lust
for murder has never been so sharply criticised as Hitler’s
holocaust, while it was responsible for many millions more victims.
The Russian critics say it is scandalous to compare tragedies of
this magnitude to a literary genre.
New calendar in Turkmenistan
Saparmoerat Niazov, president of the Central-Asiatic republic of
Turkmenistan, is going to rename the months of the calendar. Names
such as January, February and March will be replaced by more nationalistic
names such as 'Independence' and 'The Flag'. Niazov, who, human
rights organisations say is conducting a dictatorial regime, also
wants to name one month after himself, one after his deceased mother
and one after a book he has written. Not long ago the president
forbade all ballet performances in the capital because he says he
does not understand them.
Fuss about pygmies in Wallonian zoo
An exposition dealing with pygmies’ way of life has been
set up in a zoo in the Wallonian city of Yvoir. Eight Pygmies from
Cameroon came over for this event; they wanted to give the public
a taste of their culture through song and dance. Belgian organisations
for development aid and migrants are extremely indignant about the
exhibition. It reminds them of the country’s colonial history,
when inhabitants of the Belgian Congo were put on display at the
World Fair as oddities. Moreover, they find a zoo a denigrating
location for such an exposition. The organisers have pointed out
that the funds collected as entry fees will be used to improve the
Indian in Mexico declared a saint
Pope John Paul II has declared Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin a saint
in Mexico City. It is rare for an Indian to be honoured in this
way. In 1531 Cuauhtlatoatzin - 'he who speaks like an eagle' –
had two visions of the Virgin Mary, known in Mexico as the Virgin
of Guadelupe. The shroud on which the Virgin left her impression
has been on display in the Basilica of Guadelupe in Mexico City
ever since. This was the beginning of a cult that brings twenty
million pilgrims to the site each year.
The fact that God was willing to reveal himself to a simple Indian
contributed to the large-scale conversion of the Mexican peasantry
since that time. Critics have always claimed that the Catholic Church
concocted the story precisely for this reason. The recent declaration
of sainthood is also seen by some as a papal trick to try to counter
the rise of Protestantism in Mexico.
More information: First
indigenous Saint of the American continent, papal address
Will the American amusement industry soon become hackers?
American civil rights organisations such as Electronic
Frontier Foundation have reacted to the Peer-to-Peer Piracy
Act with concern. This legislative proposal gives the American amusement
industry far-reaching tools against piracy. Film and music companies
have been given the right to use hacker-like tools to combat illegal
copying. This gives them authorisation to obstruct exchange services
and randomly search hard disks for illegal files.
More information: Peer
to Peer Piracy Act
New Yorkers consider a design for 'Ground Zero'
More than four thousand people have critiqued all the designs for
'Ground Zero', the devastated area in New York City. Six project
offices have submitted sketches for the area where the WTC towers
were the target of a terrorist attack nearly a year ago. The large-scale
involvement was organised by the Civic
Alliance to Rebuild Downtown New York, in which over 75 societal
organisations, environmental organisations and companies participate.
The participants found all the plans too commercial. Because 20,000
victims were never found, many surviving relatives would prefer
to see a commemorative monument at that site instead of office buildings
or shops. Project developers are trying their best to create business
space, because the city has lost twenty percent of its commercial
space since the attack.
More information: Gotham
Gazette's Rebuilding NYC
Gazet van Antwerpen,
Le Soir, The
The Ham&High Network,
The New York Times,
Nueva Cuba, BBC
News, BBC Online,
Street Newsroom, The
Art Newspaper, ET
Muslim News, The