Brazil culture secretary fired after echoing words of Nazi Goebbels

Roberto Alvim set off a storm of outrage with comments about culture that were eerily reminiscent of Hitler’s propaganda chief

Brazil’s culture secretary, Roberto Alvim has been fired after he appeared to paraphrase the Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels in an online video to promote a national arts prize.

“Brazilian art in the next decade will be heroic and national,” said Alvim, to the music from Wagner’s Lohengrin, said to be Hitler’s favourite opera, with a portrait of the far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, and a Brazilian flag in the background.

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Hungary PM under fire for Roma minority comment

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban drew fire from rights groups and the Roma minority Friday after he blasted a court award of compensation to Roma families over a school segregation case.

Orban said a recent court ruling awarding compensation to the families of some 60 Roma children in the eastern Hungarian town of Gyongyospata for being taught separately from other children was "deeply unfair".

Questioning the definition of segregation of pupils Orban told a press conference in Budapest Thursday that "people's sense of justice has been infringed".

"I'm not from Gyongyospata but if I lived there then I too would also ask how this is possible, that for some reason, members of an (...) ethnic group living in the same community, the same village as me receive large amounts of money without doing any kind of work for it," he said.

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Russian domestic violence: Women fight back

Two years ago, many Russians were shocked when the parliament significantly reduced penalties for domestic violence. Since then, women have been fighting back - demanding new legislation to restrain abusers, demonstrating in support of three sisters who took the law into their own hands, and finding new ways of tackling outdated attitudes on gender.

On a blustery, grey afternoon, Margarita Gracheva takes her small sons to the playground. They run ahead then jump on to the swings and shoot down the slide. "They're pretty independent for their age," she says. "They know I can't do up their buttons or tie their shoelaces, so they've learned to do it themselves."

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MEPs vote to condemn Poland's anti-sex education bill

The Brief: MEPs vote to condemn Poland's anti-sex education bill

Members of the European Parliament have voted to condemn a a bill in Poland which they believe will criminalize sex education in schools.

It’s one line of the bill in particular, that a majority of MEPs took issue with:

Anyone who promotes or approves sexual intercourse or other sexual activity by a minor, in connection with performing the position, occupation or performing activities related to upbringing, education, health care or care of minors, or operating on school premises or other educational or child care institution, is liable to imprisonment up to 3 years.

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Safety fears after Philippines names Oxfam a front for communist terror

Safety fears after Philippines names Oxfam a front for communist terror

  • A national council of churches and women’s political advocacy group were likewise singled out by the country’s defence establishment this week

  • Critics say the practice, known locally as ‘red-tagging’, has been used to silence dissent and puts people’s lives at risk

A decision by the Philippines’ armed forces to label 18 groups, including the local arm of the charity Oxfam, a federation of churches and an organisation that advocates for women’s rights as fronts for “communist terrorism” risks the lives of their members, a prominent human rights lawyer and activist has claimed.

While in other countries, identifying someone as a communist militant might be written off as “besmirching” their good name, in the Philippines “red-tagging” – as the practice is known locally – “causes death”, said Neri Colemnares, chairman of the leftist political group Bayan Muna and head of the Philippines’ National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL).

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California wildfires: how bad are they and is the climate crisis linked?

California wildfires: how bad are they and is the climate crisis linked?

Firefighters across the state are racing to control flames exacerbated by extreme winds. Is this normal?

A firefighter stops to look at a wall of fire while battling a grass fire on East Cypress Road in Knightsen, California, on Sunday, 27 October 2019.
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OP: My thoughts are with any Californians reading this. I hope you stay safe.

OP #2: In a sort of related plug, I am trying to get a petition started to get my country (Canada) to commit to transitioning to electric vehicles on our roads, since this is one change that is long overdue which could have a substantial impact on greenhouse gas emissions. Here is a link to the petition, if you would like to sign and forward (you don't need to be Canadian to sign, international pressure works just as well!).

Turkey says Rebel Girls children's book should be treated like porn

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls must only be sold to adults, government says

Turkey has ruled that the million-selling book Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls should be partially banned and treated like pornography because it could have a “detrimental influence” on young people.

The book, which has been published in 47 languages, offers a series of inspiring stories about women from history for young children. But in a decision published last week, the Turkish government’s board for the protection of minors from obscene publications said: “Some of the writings in the book will have a detrimental influence on the minds of those under the age of 18.”

That means it can only be sold to adults and must be concealed from view in shops.

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Climate strikes: Why Russians don't get Greta's message

For 30 Fridays on the trot, a young Russian violinist has stood in central Moscow in a one-person protest.

Arshak Makichyan is not picketing about free elections, police violence or political prisoners. His big concern is the planet and his inspiration is Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg.

"This is about our future," the 24-year-old explains, echoing the teenage campaigner. He says he began to read about climate change after seeing her protests, and realised the threat.

"Russia is the world's fourth biggest emitter of greenhouse gases and our government won't act without pressure. So it's important to strike for the climate."

But it seems many Russians have a problem with Greta.

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Australia waters down Pacific Islands plea on climate crisis

Forum’s chair describes leaders’ 12 hours of talks as ‘very, very tough struggle’

Australia stands in opposition to other Pacific Islands nations after distancing itself from language calling for urgent action on climate change at a regional meeting in Tuvalu.

Eighteen leaders including Australia’s Scott Morrison, New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern and Fiji’s Frank Bainimarama met for almost 12 hours at the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), and its chair, Enele Sopoaga, the Tuvaluan prime minister, described the talks as “a very, very tough, difficult struggle”.

Some attending nations had hoped all 18 members would commit to policies to limit temperature rises to no more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, but the leaders agreed to an opt-out from specific measures they opposed.

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Pacific islands will survive climate crisis because they 'pick our fruit', Australia's deputy PM says

Exclusive: Michael McCormack says island nations want Australia to shut down industry ‘so they can survive’

Pacific island nations affected by the climate crisis will continue to survive “because many of their workers come here to pick our fruit”, Australia’s deputy prime minister has said.

Michael McCormack’s comments were made after critical talks at the Pacific Islands Forum that almost collapsed over Australia’s positions on coal and climate change.

Fears are growing the situation might come at a diplomatic cost for Australia in a region where China has become increasingly influential.

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