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Germany to pay Holocaust survivors

This is the first time that Jews who lived in Algeria between July 1940 and November 1942 have been ..

This is the first time that Jews who lived in Algeria between July 1940 and November 1942 have been compensated by the German government for their suffering under the Nazi-collaborating French Vichy regime. Approximately 25,000 people are eligible for a one-off payment of €2,556 ($3,184), according to the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, an organization that negotiates with the German government on behalf of Holocaust survivors.Germany's Ministry of Finance confirmed the agreement.On Monday, the Claims Conference opened registration centers across France, where an estimated 20,000 Algerian Jews reside, with the first payments expected to be made in July.

Vichy regime

During World War II, northern France was directly occupied by Nazi Germany, and southern France was ruled by the Vichy regime. In Algeria, which was controlled by the Vichy government on behalf of the Nazis, Jews were stripped of their jobs in sectors such as education, media and finance. They were prohibited from owning businesses and their children were excluded from schools.Jews were banned from working for the government or the military and were not allowed to work for businesses that had public contracts. Children were placed in segregated schools with Jewish teachers, and older Jews were sent to labor camps to work on the pan-Saharan railroad line, with camps set up in the Algerian cities of Berrouaghia, Djelfa, and Bedeau.

Claims group: Acknowledgment at last

Greg Schneider, executive vice president of the Claims Conference, says the deal is the last to be struck with a single large group of Holocaust survivors and will at last provide some of acknowledgment of their suffering."For many, many people, as they age, of course they look back at their lives and when they look back at their childhood, they remember the darkest part of the 20th century, just terrible memories," Schneider told CNN.Many other groups of Holocaust survivors have been acknowledged and compensated over the years, and Schneider said the lack of recognition for Jews in Algeria until now had been "a real psychological blow.""When you have all these survivors around you and they've been acknowledged by Germany and you're not, that experience they're not validating is so central to your identity, that really creates another psychological trauma."For people who are very poor, €2,556 obviously helps. But it's also about the historical record in an era of fake news, and facts not being facts, and certainly Holocaust denial, which we think will only increase as survivors pass away."

Survivor: Justice has been done

Daniel Gal, who lived during the war with his family in Oran, a coastal city in northwest Algeria, told CNN he remembers being "kicked out" of his school and sent to learn with other Jewish children."The Jews of the town decided that they would have a small school just for us," he recalled. "The teachers, who were also Jewish, had been expelled from their schools. They had to come and teach us."Gal left Algeria after graduating from high school in 1950, eventually settling in Jerusalem, where he married and had three children.He says the agreement brokered by the Claims Conference means "justice has been done.""I am very happy," Gal told CNN on Monday. "Justice has been done and while it has taken a long time, the Claims Conference has done a very good job. My phone has been going all morning with friends calling me about it."Gal is one of an estimated 3,900 Algerian Jews living in Israel eligible for compensation.

$70 billion paid to Holocaust victims since 1952

The German government has paid more than $70 billion to more than 800,000 Holocaust victims since its first negotiations with the Claims Conference in in 1952, the organization said in a press release.In 2017, the Claims Conference says it distributed in excess of $430 million in compensation to nearly 100,000 survivors in 83 countries.The group says it expects to allocate around $500 million in grants to over 200 social service agencies in 2018 to help ensure Holocaust survivors receive home care, food and medicine.

CNN's Nadine Schmidt in Berlin contributed to this report.

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Europe

Pope expresses support for same-sex civil union laws in new documentary

Issued on: 21/10/2020 – 17:54

Pope Francis says in a film released on Wednesday that homosexuals s..

Issued on:

Pope Francis says in a film released on Wednesday that homosexuals should be protected by civil union laws, in some of the clearest language he has used on the rights of gay people.

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"Homosexual people have a right to be in a family. They are children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it," Pope Francis says in the documentary "Francesco" by Oscar-nominated director Evgeny Afineevsky.

"What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered. I stood up for that," he said.

The pope appeared to be referring to when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires and opposed legislation to approve same sex marriages but supported some kind of legal protection for the rights of gay couples.

Papal biographer Austen Ivereigh told Reuters that the pope's comments in the film were some of the clearest language the pontiff has used on the subject since his election in 2013.

The pope, who early in his papacy made the now-famous "Who am I to judge?" remark about homosexuals trying to live a Christian life, spoke in a section of the film about Andrea Rubera, a gay man who with his partner adopted three children.

Rubera says in the film that he went to a morning Mass the pope said in his Vatican residence and gave him a letter explaining his situation.

He told the pope that he and his partner wanted to bring the children up as Catholics in the local parish but did not want to cause any trauma for the children. It was not clear in which country RuberaRead More – Source

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Popping the digital filter bubble

Issued on: 21/10/2020 – 10:36

Ever wondered why 2 people can search for the same thing online and ..

Issued on: 21/10/2020 – 10:36

Ever wondered why 2 people can search for the same thing online and get 2 totally different results? The answer is online echo chambers and digital filter bubbles – social media and search engines that skew our access to information and algorithms that artificially promote content they think should suit us. Those invisible chains shrink our freedom to learn and be confronted with new ideas. Want to break free? France 24 can help you pop the filter bubbles around you!

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Social networks have revolutionised how we access information. In France, over a quarter of people get their news from social networks – second only to television. And for young people, the change is even more drastic: 47% of the under-35s say their primary source of information is social media (Ifop, 2019). And we’re not just passive consumers of information online now – everyone can also generate content, leading to a vast quantity of news and views online.

Sifting through that ever-growing mountain of information forces search engines and social media to use algorithms – to sort the wheat they think will interest us, from the chaff they assume won’t. For Jérôme Duberry of the University of Geneva, it’s a simple calculation: “if a web-user has a given profile, then they will be fed information of a certain type”. Posts that seem to appear at random on our Twitter or Facebook timelines are in fact carefully chosen according to what the platform already knows about us – interests, friends, “likes”. Highlighting content that is tailored specifically to our interests filters out topics from outside our comfort zone – reinforcing our beliefs.

Online rights are human rights

But social networks are only one aspect of the digital echo chambers. Search engines are also key – once again due to their reliance on algorithms. Google’s search results are generated from our own online history, mixed with that of thousands of other users. The goal for the search engine is to maximise user engagement by finding results that are most likely to prompt interest (and sales) from the user – and so generate advertising revenue.

For Jérôme Duberry, those gatekeepers limit our access to knowledge: “it’s as if there was someone standing in front of the university library, who asks you a bunch of questions about who you are, and only then gives you access to a limited number of books. And you never get the chance to see all the books on offer, and you never know the criteria for those limits.”

The consequences of these so-called Filter Bubbles are far-reaching. For Tristan Mendès France, specialist in Digital Cultures at the University of Paris, “being informed via social networks means an internet user is in a closed-circuit of information”.

Blinkered online views, democratic bad news

For many academics, those echo chambers could threaten the health of our democracies, suggesting the algorithms could contribute to the polarisation of society. By limiting our access to views similar to our own and excluding contradictory opinions, our beliefs may be reinforced – but at the expense of a diversity of opinions.

And that could undermine the very basis of our democracies. For Jerôme Duberry, the Filter Bubbles “could lead to us questioning the value of a vote. Today, we lend a great deal of importance to the vote, which is the extension of a person’s opinion. But that individual’s opinion is targeted by interest groups using an impressive array of techniques.”

That isn’t the only distortion that algorithms have created. They have also allowed more radical views to predominate. Youtube’s algorithm is blind to the actual content of a video – its choice of what will be most visible is made according to which videos are viewed all the way to the end. But for Tristan Mendès France, “it is generally the most activist or militant internet users that view videos all the way through”. That provokes “extra-visibility” for otherwise marginal content – at the expense of more nuanced or balanced views, or indeed verified information.

Escaping the echo chamber

So what happens to the spirit of debate in a world where your online habits reinforce your beliefs? Is the echo chamber a philosophical prison? And how easy is it to get back out into the fresh air of contradictory views?

In the US, the movement opposing algRead More – Source

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Europe

‘Well, this is Iceland’: Earthquake interrupts Prime Minister’s interview

Katrin Jakobsdottir was discussing the impact of the pandemic on tourism with the Washington Post wh..

Katrin Jakobsdottir was discussing the impact of the pandemic on tourism with the Washington Post when her house started to shake, visibly startling the Icelandic leader."Oh my god, there's an earthquake," she said with a gasp. "Sorry, there was an earthquake right now. Wow."But Jakobsdottir quickly pivoted back to the matter at hand, laughing: "Well this is Iceland" and continuing her response to the question."Yes I'm perfectly fine, the house is still strong, so no worries," she later added.Jakobsdottir, 44, has been Iceland's Prime Minister since 2017.The 5.6 magnitude earthquake struck on Tuesday afternoon 10 kilometers southwest of Hafnarfjordur, a coastal town near the capital of Reykjavík, according to the United States Geological Survey, which measures quakes worldwide.The tremble led to reports of damage around the capital. Earthquakes are common in Iceland, which boats a sweeping landscape dotted with dozens of volcanoes. Jakobsdottir isn't the first world leader to be interrupted by a quake this year; in May, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was discussing lifting coronavirus restrictions

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