The world’s disturbing inaction as the Genocide Convention turns 70

This month marks the 70th anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. This is a foundational piece of international law that was born out of the mass atrocities committed by the Nazi regime against European Jews during the Second World War.

Despite the passage of time, we can still find inspiration in the example of Raphael Lemkin. After fleeing to the United States when he lost his family to the Holocaust, Lemkin campaigned for the establishment of an international law to define and forbid genocide. When his resolution proposing the Genocide Convention was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, it became the UN’s first human rights treaty.
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Polens Staatspräsident Andrzej Duda ehrt in Luzern gemeinsam mit Geretteten den polnischen Diplomaten Konstanty Rokicki, der über 800 Juden rettete

Der polnische Konsul Konstanty Rokicki rettete gemeinsam mit seinen Mitstreitern der sog. „Berner Gruppe“ in den Jahren 1942/43 über 800 Juden in den Niederlanden, Polen, Deutschland, Österreich, Frankreich, der Slowakei und anderen europäischen Ländern das Leben. Mindestens 20 von ihnen leben noch heute. Am 9. Oktober 2018 wurde auf dem Friedhof von Luzern Rokickis neues Grabmal eingeweiht. An der Zeremonie nahmen auch der polnische Staatspräsident Andrzej Duda sowie mehrere Dutzend Überlebende mit ihren Familien sowie Nachkommen ihrer Retter teil.
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Kofi Annan: a complicated legacy of impressive achievements, and some profound failures

Kofi Annan (80) was an important historical figure who played a critical role in many key events of the 1990s and 2000s. His death is therefore an opportunity to both celebrate his life and to begin honestly assessing his contributions to the world.

The Ghanaian diplomat’s legacy is complicated. He served as both head of the United Nations peacekeeping and as Secretary General of the UN. His tenure in these high offices – from 1992 to 2006 – were marked by great human tragedies as well as episodes of progress. His role in these events raises difficult questions about individual responsibility and the role of international organisations and their leaders in creating a more peaceful and just world.
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Kofi Annan understood the limits of diplomacy, as well as why it’s important never to give up

Kofi Annan served as United Nations Secretary-General during a pivotal decade in modern world history – from 1997 to 2006. I would argue that his most important legacy was to focus the UN more on preventing and resolving deadly conflict within its sovereign members, while still trying to maintain peace and security among them.

How he developed and pursued ways and means to do this began much earlier in his UN career and persisted until his untimely death last week.
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Why B-Movies Never Won Oscars | How To See B-Movies with Dave Kehr

The term « B » movie has come to mean low-budget films, but originally it meant something very specific in the Golden Age of Hollywood. Although the films were never designed to break the box office or win Oscars, there are many enjoyable and stylistically sophisticated filmmaking techniques to reclaim from this era. Ahead of the Academy Awards this Sunday, MoMA Film Curator Dave Kehr explores the films of the Republic Pictures Library, recently restored by Martin Scorsese and Paramount.

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Racism impacts your health

Outside in public: Smiling, dressed real fine, manners on point. I am well schooled on how to be respectful, how to take up space, how to use silence when necessary. Travelling home on transit listening to music to drown out my day — filled with injustices from the minute I left my “sanctuary” ten hours earlier. Fumbling for keys, nearly pushing the door down to my home. All I experienced outside threatens to crash down my door and engulf my insides and swallow me whole. My breath struggles to calm itself. Grief shadows me through the hallway. I self-talk my way into the kitchen, slipping my armour off; my thick silver bangle hits the floor, the sound awakening me to reality. I am home. I sit still for a minute and contemplate how I will go out again to face the monster of anti-Black racism. I drink my tea quickly, and begin to make dinner. – Feb 9, 2018, author’s journal.
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Remembering Hugh Masekela: the horn player with a shrewd ear for music of the day

Trumpeter, flugelhorn-player, singer, composer and activist Hugh Ramapolo Masekela has passed away after a long battle with prostate cancer.

When he cancelled his appearance last year at the Johannesburg Joy of Jazz Festival, taking time out to deal with his serious health issues, fans were forced to return to his recorded opus for reminders of his unique work. Listening through that half-century of disks, the nature and scope of the trumpeter’s achievement becomes clear.
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La « cli-fi », une nouvelle façon de parler du changement climatique

Au tournant des années 2010, la presse américaine relatait l’apparition d’un nouveau genre littéraire, la « cli-fi » (pour climate fiction), terme inventé en 2008 par l’écrivain et blogueur Dan Bloom. Les romans de « fiction climatique » prennent généralement la forme de récits post-apocalyptiques où des personnages évoluent dans un monde ravagé par les effets du changement climatique.

Si les romans de cli-fi sont encensés par la presse américaine aux sympathies écologistes, ils restent cantonnés en France à un public de niche.
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African voices raised in support of people with albinism

On the remote East African island of Ukerewe in the middle of Lake Victoria, people with albinism whose voices have been largely unheard, are now writing and voicing their experiences into songs. Ukerewe is the largest inland island in Africa and is part of Tanzania.
This East African country has the highest prevalence of albinism in the world: about one in every 1,400, compared to the US’s one in 17,000. In Africa the prevalence is estimated to range between one in 1100 to one in 15,000.
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TIFF 2017: Movie magic from math and science

Math and science are hot topics with contemporary filmmakers. Think of the brilliant portrayal of African-American mathematicians and scientists in 1960s NASA in Hidden Figures or the tale of mathematical genius, Srinivasa Ramanujan, and his groundbreaking work with Godfrey Hardy at Cambridge University in The Man Who Knew Infinity.
The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), underway this month, is not immune to the charms of math and science, with past crowd-pleasers such as The Theory of Everything and The Martian. As a mathematics professor with a love for film and a Patron’s Circle membership that offers access to many of the festival’s premieres, I go on an annual search for STEM-centric movies.
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