Ian Stuart Donaldson Skrewdriver

Posts Tagged ‘Associated Press’

North Alabama walk-on football player dismissed after racist tweet about Barack Obama

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

FLORENCE, Ala. — The University of North Alabama says a walk-on football player won’t be allowed back on the team after sending a tweet about President Barack Obama.

Sports publicist Jeff Hodges said Monday coaches have informed lineman Bradley Patterson of Red Bay that he’s no longer welcome because of his social media comment.

Barack
Obama’s speech bumped Sunday Night Football off NBC briefly, resulting in a racist tweet from a North Alabama walk-on player who was quickly dismissed. (AP Photo)

“Take that (expletive) off the tv, we wanna watch football!” Patterson posted on Twitter.

Hodges says coaches acted after being informed of a message that refers to Obama by a racial epithet. The tweet complained that Obama’s speech about the Connecticut school massacre pre-empted an NFL game Sunday night.

Hodges says the school found that there’s no question the tweet was issued by Patterson. Patterson couldn’t be reached by The Associated Press for comment Monday.

http://aol.sportingnews.com/ncaa-football/story/2012-12-17/north-alabama-football-player-racist-tweet-barack-obama-bradley-patterson?icid=maing-grid7%7Cmaing10%7Cdl10%7Csec3_lnk2%26pLid%3D247058

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Company owner fined for hiring illegals

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

KOTA KINABALU: An owner of a company was fined a total of RM40,000, in default, eight months’ jail by the Sessions Court here yesterday for allowing four illegal immigrants to enter and work at a construction site in Tamparuli.

Judge Azreena Aziz meted out the fine on Lee Jyh Yeong, 45, who was unrepresented, after the latter pleaded guilty to the offence.

Lee admitted to allowing four Filipinos aged between 19 and 38, who have no valid document or pass to enter and work at the proposed reconstruction of two-storey shophouses on Lots 8 to 14, in Jalan Bontoi, Tamparuli about 10.48am on October 24, this year.

The offence under Section 55E (1) of the Immigration Act 1959/63 punishable under Section 55E(2) of the same act carries a fine of between RM5,000 and RM30,000 or a jail term of up to 12 months, or both, for each illegal immigrant.

In this case, Azreena fined Lee RM10,000, in default, two months’ jail per illegal immigrant.

Earlier in mitigation, Lee applied for a minimum fine to be imposed on him.

Prosecuting officer Norlyah Stoh urged the court to impose a deterrent sentence taking into consideration the public interest, seriousness and rampancy of the case.

She also said that a deterrent sentence would serve as a lesson to the accused and would-be offenders.

The facts of the case stated that Immigration enforcement officers conducted an operation dubbed “Ops Mahir” at the construction site and detained four illegal immigrants who have no valid document or pass to be present in the State.

The accused was later arrested and further investigation revealed that he was the owner of Syarikat J.Y Enterprise dealing with marketing and operation of the company, and acting as supervisor for workers.

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Illegal immigrants could get Ga. driver’s licenses

Friday, August 24th, 2012

Illegal immigrants who are granted permission to stay in the country under an Obama administration policy announced in June will be eligible for driver’s licenses in Georgia, the state’s attorney general wrote in a letter to the governor.

“While I do not agree with the actions of the President in issuing the directive, it has been implemented by the Department of Homeland Security, USCIS, and state law recognizes the approval of deferred action status as a basis for issuing a temporary driver’s license,” Attorney General Sam Olens, a Republican, wrote in a letter obtained Thursday by The Associated Press.

Olens said illegal immigrants with this special status would not, however, be eligible for a state identification card. He says such cards are considered public benefits which are not available to illegal immigrants.

Under the new policy — which was announced in June and took effect last week — eligible immigrants must have arrived in the U.S. before their 16th birthday, are 30 or younger, have been living here at least five years, are in school or graduated or served in the military. They also must not have a criminal record or otherwise pose a safety threat. They can apply to stay in the country and be granted a work permit for two years, but they would not be granted citizenship.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed an executive order Aug. 15, the day the new policy took effect, telling state agencies not to give driver’s licenses or other benefits to illegal immigrants who obtain work authorizations under the deferred status.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said earlier this month that each state could determine whether to issue driver’s licenses or extend benefits such as in-state tuition to immigrants who are granted deferred status.

A Georgia Department of Driver Services spokeswoman said last week that Georgia law considers those with deferred action status eligible for driver’s licenses and added that the agency would issue them unless it got other instructions. Deal last week asked Olens for guidance on the matter.

The young illegal immigrants who qualify for the new program are not the only illegal immigrants eligible for deferred action on their cases. Federal immigration authorities can also grant deferred action status at their discretion.

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Germany pursues Nazi charges against 87-year-old

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

The German special prosecutors’ office that pursues Nazi-era crimes said Wednesday it was recommending charges be filed against an 87-year-old man on allegations he served as an SS guard at the Auschwitz death camp complex.

The man is accused of involvement in the killing of 344,000 Jews at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp in occupied Poland from April 1944 until shortly before it was liberated by the Soviet army in January 1945, head prosecutor Kurt Schrimm told The Associated Press.

The suspect, whose name wasn’t released, is a non-German living outside Germany, but Schrimmwould give no other details.

Schrimm said charges of accessory to murder can be filed under the same legal theory that Munich prosecutors used to try former Ohio autoworker John Demjanjuk, who died in a Bavarian nursing home in March while appealing his 2011 conviction on charges he served as a Sobibor death campguard.

Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk was the first person convicted in Germany solely on the basis of serving as a camp guard, with no evidence of involvement in a specific killing. Under the new legal theory, anyone who was involved in the operation of a death camp was an accessory to murder. Demjanjuk steadfastly maintained that he had been mistaken for someone else and never served as a camp guard.

Even though the Demjanjuk verdict is not considered legally binding because he died before appeals were exhausted, Schrimm said the same legal principle can be applied in the case of the alleged Auschwitz guard.

About 1.5 million people, primarily Jews, were killed at the Auschwitz camp complex between 1940 and 1945.

“I can’t say when he was where in the camp, but all of these guards were stationed at times on the ramps, at times at the gas chambers and at times in the towers,” Schrimm said.

Efraim Zuroff, the top Nazi hunter at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said he welcomed the news of the investigation but cautioned that even if the suspect is charged, bringing him to Germany for trial could present challenges.

He noted, for example, that the Australian high court last week ruled that 90-year-old Charles Zentai could not be extradited to Hungary to face accusations he tortured and killed a Jewish teenager during World War II.

“A lot will depend on whether or not his country of residence has the political will to extradite him to Germany,” Zuroff said in a telephone interview from Israel.

Schrimm’s office has turned the case over to prosecutors in Weiden, in Bavaria, to determine whether to file charges. Weiden has jurisdiction over the area where the suspect last lived in Germany.

Weiden prosecutors’ spokesman Norbert Dietl said the files were received on Monday, and that it would probably take at least a month to make a decision on the case.

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Zimbabwe church orders doctor out of the country

Monday, August 20th, 2012

Officials of the Salvation Army in Zimbabwe said Sunday they have given a Canadian doctor 48 hours to leave the southern African nation after he was fired from a mission hospital.

Dr. Paul Thistle’s departure was moved forward from Sept. 1 after villagers incited violence at the medical facility on Thursday to demand his reinstatement, said Vinece Chigariro, head of the church group in Zimbabwe. Thistle was the chief medical officer at the Howard hospital about 80 kilometers (50 miles) northeast of Harare. After 16 years at the mission, Thistle had clashed with church leaders over fund raising for the hospital and local aid projects.

He said the order to leave was “not a legal decision” by Zimbabwean immigration or police authorities.

Twelve people were arrested after Thursday’s unrest and eight nurses were held for questioning on allegations of incitement to violence.

“The nurses are people who treat and care for the victims of trauma and don’t create it,” Thistle said.

Chigariro said Thistle had challenged church leaders and he was being reassigned “for the good of the church.” Ordained Salvation Army officers “sign a covenant with God and make an undertaking to be loyal to the church leadership,” she said.

Thistle told The Associated Press on Sunday he will leave Zimbabwe after conferring with his Zimbabwean family members. He is married to a Zimbabwean nurse.

He left the mission Saturday. Disruptions at the hospital, including a heavy police presence since Thursday, have left the facility running at about one quarter of its capacity, he said. Patients were transferred to other facilities unable to treat them adequately, he said.

“People are suffering and dying and the church doesn’t care. I can live a safe life in Canada but the professional staff we have worked with for nearly 20 years are suffering now too. That’s not right,” said Thistle, a fluent speaker of the local Shona language who was born in Scarborough in Canada and qualified as a doctor at the Toronto university.

His work at the hospital and his far reaching programs to treat AIDS sufferers in the impoverished Chiweshe district have won accolades from medical professionals in Zimbabwe and worldwide.

The popular and well-loved physician was carried shoulder high by villagers during a week of dispute over his future. Community elders said they wanted him to stay.

“The people have spoken but they have been overruled,” he said.

Thistle said he differed with church leaders over donor aid and some private donor funding and project materials for the mission went unaccounted for.

“I don’t want to tarnish the name of the Salvation Army worldwide, but we have a crisis in the church leadership in Zimbabwe,” he said.

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Four-Star General Under Investigation ‘For Lavishing Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars on Hotel Rooms and Travel for His Family’

Saturday, August 18th, 2012

A four-star Army general who was the first head of the U.S. African Command is under investigation for possibly lavishing hundreds of thousands of dollars improperly on travel and hotels.

Gen. William ‘Kip’ Ward, who at four stars has the highest rank in the Army, could be demoted if the imminent results of the 17-month investigation reveal he spent money inappropriately.

Gen. William ‘Kip’ Ward

Officials told the Associated Press that Ward, 63, is facing allegations that he allowed unauthorized people, including family members, to fly on government planes.

There are also accusations that he spent excessively on hotel rooms, transport and ‘other’ expenses – all while traveling as head of Africa Command, a role he started in 2007 on its creation.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will make a final decision on the matter and Ward’s potential demotion before the end of the month, defense officials said.

He had sought to retire last year and carried out the paperwork to make it possible, before attending his retirement ceremony in April 2011 at Fort Myer, Virginia.

But the Army has since put his retirement on hold as the investigation is under way – and he will only be allowed to retire once they conclude which rank he will be.

He has been working in Northern Virginia, serving as a special assistant to the vice chief of the Army.

Because Ward’s alleged offenses occurred while he was a four-star general, he could be forced to retire as a three-star, which officials said could cost him as much as $1 million in retirement pay.

It was not immediately clear whether Ward also could face criminal charges.

It is unlikely he would be demoted as far as two-star rank; investigators would have to conclude that he also had problems before Africa Command, and officials said that does not appear to be the case.

The investigation has dragged on so long that Ward technically has been demoted from his four-star general rank to two-star general. Under military guidelines, if a general is not serving in a four-star command or office for more than 60 days, he or she is automatically reduced to two-star rank.

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Greek Olympian Booted From Games for Tweeting Racial Joke

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

Greek Olympian Voula Papachristou has been kicked off her country’s Olympic team for a racial joke she posted toTwitter.

The triple jumper posted this tweet earlier this week, which roughly translates to: “With so many Africans in Greece…at least the West Nile mosquitoes will eat homemade food!!!”

Papachristou later apologized for the message with a post that read in part, “My dream is connected to the Olympic Games and I could not possibly participate if I did not respect their values. Therefore, I could never believe in discrimination between human beings and races.”

According to Isidoros Kouvelos, the head of Greece’s Hellenic Olympic Commission, Papachristou wasn’t contacted before or after the committee issued a press released booting her from the Games.

Papachristou’s gaffe also had repercussions for Greece’s remaining athletes: a spokesperson told theAssociated Press that Greek Olympians are now banned by the country’s Olympic committee from talking about anything not related to the Games on social media for the remainder of the event.

While the IOC has a series of social media rules restricting what athletes are allowed to post to social media during the Games, Papachristou’s message doesn’t violate any of those and her punishment appears to be an independent decision by her Olympic team.

American swimmer Ricky Berens — an active social media user and advocate for Olympians’ ability to post freely during the Games — told Mashable in an email that he could see why the Greek committee took the action it did.

“I myself am enjoying what everyone has been posting and seeing what other Olympians are doing,” he wrote. “I hope that it stays that way and people aren’t freaked out by this. There is a line that you don’t cross and she crossed it.”

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Groups call on Hungary to try war criminal suspect

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Hungary said Monday it is investigating whether a Holocaust-era war criminal has been living in the capital, Budapest, as international and domestic groups clamored for him to be placed on trial.

Budapest prosecutors said in a statement that they were investigating a case based on information received from Efraim Zuroff, head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center‘s Jerusalem office, but did not name the suspect.

The center has told prosecutors that a man named Laszlo Csatary living in Budapest is believed to be the same Laszlo Csatary who was police chief in 1941 in the Slovakian city of Kosice, then part of Hungary, where he played a “key role” in the deportation of 300 Jews to Ukraine, where they were killed.

Csatary, who the center says would now be 97 years old, is also suspected of helping to organize the 1944 deportation of some 15,700 Jews to Auschwitz.

A group of students held a protest Monday at an apartment building in Budapest where Csatary is thought to have lived until recently, while the opposition Socialist Party called on Chief Prosecutor Peter Polt to indict him for war crimes.

Csatary was nowhere to be seen, and officials have not provided any information as to his whereabouts.

In April, a man named Ladislaus Csizsik-Csatary was placed at the top of the Wiesenthal Center’s list of its most wanted war crimes suspects.

Csizsik-Csatary had been convicted in absentia for war crimes in Hungary in 1948 and sentenced to death. He arrived in Nova Scotia the following year, became a Canadian citizen in 1955 and worked as an art dealer in Montreal.

In October 1997, Canadian authorities said the 82-year-old had left the country, apparently bound for Europe, before they had the chance to decide his fate in a deportation hearing. His citizenship had been revoked in August and the deportation order was based on his obtaining citizenship through “false representation or fraud or knowingly concealing material circumstances.”

Zuroff, the center’s self-described chief Nazi hunter, said a paid informant had provided the information last September that Csatary was living in Hungary and apparently had done so since leaving Canada in the 1990s.

“His information has been super-reliable,” although he will not receive any money unless Csizsik-Csatary is convicted and punished, Zuroff said Monday in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

He declined to name the informant, or say how much he would receive.

Some 40 protesters gathered at the Budapest apartment building Monday, among them members of the European Union of Jewish Students. They formed a line by binding their wrists to each other with tape and shouted “Never again!” One of the protesters put a crossed out swastika sticker on the door of the second floor apartment where Csatary is thought to have lived.

“We came here because we want the Hungarian organs of justice to start a process against this war criminal,” said Krisztian Szilberhar, a young lawyer who participated in the protest. “He is responsible for the death of many innocent people.”

Considering Csatary’s age, “it would be enough justice if they declared him guilty and he had to continue to live here,” Szilberhar said.

Deborah Abisror of the European Union of Jewish Students said she was disappointed that they were not able to find Csatary.

“He’s not here, obviously,” she said. “He shouldn’t move anymore. He just should confront what he did. Maybe just to say sorry.”

Zuroff said that thousands of Nazi collaborators from Eastern Europe made their way to English-speaking countries after World War II, lying about their wartime past to gain refugee status.

Rabbi Slomo Koves, of the Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation, said that members were “pretty shocked that somebody like this is living in Budapest … and living between us.”

“But I think it is also in a way some relief that there are still organizations that do these jobs and that find these people,” he said.

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Human Rights Group Urges Crackdown on Race Crimes in Greece

Friday, July 13th, 2012

A leading human rights organization is urging Greece’s new government to take “urgent action” to curb an “alarming” increase in attacks against Asian and African immigrants, including brutal assaults by gangs on teenage boys and pregnant women.

In a 100-page report issued Tuesday, U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said xenophobic attacks, including stabbings and serious beatings, in the capital Athens have increased over the past two years, leaving dozens of confirmed victims and possibly many more.

It called on the government to create a national strategy to combat race-related crime, including obligatory training for police officers, and surveillance methods used to fight terrorism.

“It is very shocking to see that scale of violence, of that frequency and that brutality in a European country . . . People face certainly the risk of an attack on a daily basis,” Judith Sunderland, the lead researcher and author of the report told The Associated Press.

“We spoke with 79 migrants and asylum seekers and out of those 59 had experienced some kind of an attack. And 51 had experienced an attack that caused actual harm. We are convinced this is the tip of the iceberg. Most people don’t report the violence . . . Undocumented migrants fear they will be arrested and deported,” she said.

Greece, suffering a fifth year of recession, is the European Union’s busiest transit point for illegal immigration. In Athens, many immigrants live crammed in small apartments in squalid conditions, in central neighborhoods that have seen a sharp rise in crime since the financial crisis began in late 2009.

Racially-motivated attacks, including raids on immigrants’ homes and stores as well as streets assaults, have surged in the past two years, and often follow public outcry over a violent crime blamed on immigrants, the report said.

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Euro 2012: UEFA formally charges Croatia with racism against Italy’s Mario Balotelli

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

WARSAW, Poland —  UEFA made its first formal charges of racism at the European Championship on Saturday, opening a case against the Croatian soccer association after receiving reports that fans made monkey chants at Italy forward Mario Balotelli.

Croatia is charged with “improper conduct” of supporters, including “racist chants, racist symbols” at a game in Poznan on Thursday, the European soccer governing body said in a statement.

UEFA received reports from anti-discrimination monitors working with Football Against Racism in Europe, who wrote that Croatia fans made monkey noises and displayed far-right nationalist flags.

Balotelli, who is black, started the game for Italy against Croatia, and was replaced in the second half of the 1-1 draw.

“It was fairly consistent throughout the game,” FARE executive director Piara Powar told The Associated Press. “It was at its most intense as he was substituted and left the field.”

The charge also relates to fireworks thrown on the field after Croatia scored, which delayed Italy’s kickoff to restart the game.
UEFA said its disciplinary panel will judge the case against Croatia on Tuesday.

The Croatia soccer association (HNS) said it condemned the incident and “distances itself from all deviant behaviour on the part of the fans.”

Those responsible were “not supporters, but hooligans who should be isolated from all sports events,” the Croatian organization said in a statement, appealing to UEFA “not to punish the Croatian national team.”

UEFA rules make national associations responsible for their fans’ behavior. Punishments range from warnings and a sliding scale of fines to points deductions and even expulsion from Euro 2012.

Four years ago, UEFA fined Croatia about $20,000 for its fans’ neo-Nazi flags and chants during a Euro 2008 quarterfinals loss against Turkey in Vienna.

Also in 2008, FIFA fined Croatia $27,700 after England forward Emile Heskey was subjected to racist abuse during a World Cup qualifying match in Zagreb.

UEFA is also studying reports that a banana was thrown toward the field from a section housing Croatia fans.
Balotelli has been the target of reported abuse at both Italy matches at Euro 2012.

UEFA is investigating claims by a Spanish fans’ group that some Spain followers made monkey chants at him during a Group C match last Sunday in Gdansk.

In a separate investigation, UEFA is seeking evidence to support claims that Russian fans made monkey noises at Czech Republic defender Theodor Gebre Selassie in Wroclaw.

UEFA pledged zero tolerance of racism in Poland and Ukraine during the three-week tournament.

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Orthodox Jewish counselor on trial in sex abuse case

Monday, June 11th, 2012

The abuse went on for nearly three years before the schoolgirl told anyone that her spiritual adviser was molesting her while he was supposed to be mentoring her about her religion, authorities said.

But in Brooklyn’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, 53-year-old Nechemya Weberman has been embraced and defended as wrongly accused. The girl has been called a slut and a troublemaker, her family threatened and spat at on the street.

The rallying around Weberman, who goes on trial this month, and ostracizing of his accuser and her family reflects long-held beliefs in this insular community that problems should be dealt with from within and that elders have far more authority than the young. It also brought to light allegations that the district attorney was too cozy with powerful rabbis, a charge he vehemently denies.

“There are other people that claim misconduct and they can’t come out because they’re going to be re-victimized and ostracized by the community,” said Judy Genut, a friend of the accuser’s family who counsels troubled girls.

Brooklyn is home to about 250,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews, the largest community outside of Israel. Step onto a Williamsburg street and tall guys in skinny jeans and tattoos are mingling with a flush of men in dark coats and hats carrying prayer books and speaking Yiddish. The Hasidic Jews appear to outsiders as though they come from another time; embracing centuries-old traditions, they wear black clothes, tall hats, long beards and earlocks. Women wear long skirts and cover their heads after they marry.

They have their own ambulances and schools, called yeshivas, their own civilian police and rabbinical courts. Members are encouraged to first speak to a rabbi before going to secular authorities — and as a result, cases rarely make it to outside law enforcement.

The topic has been studied and reported in the Jewish media for years and has recently made headlines in New York papers.

“They think that anyone who turns over anyone to the outside authorities is committing a transgression to the community at large,” said Samuel Heilman, a professor of Jewish studies at Queens College.

The girl, now 17, was sent to Weberman at age 12 because she’d been asking theological questions and he had a reputation for helping people back on the spiritual path. He often counseled people, though he had no formal training. But during sessions, authorities say, he forced the girl to perform sex acts.

The girl started dressing immodestly, was deemed a troublemaker and removed from her school — one Weberman was affiliated with — and sent to another, family friends said. The allegations surfaced in 2011 when she told a guidance counselor there she’d been molested.

The Associated Press typically doesn’t identify people who say they are the victims of sexual assault.

Weberman has pleaded not guilty, and articles in Hasidic newspapers have proclaimed his innocence and begged the community for support. More than 1,000 men showed up for a fundraiser aiming to raise $500,000 for his legal fees and, if he’s convicted and jailed, money for his family.

“It’s very hard for the town to believe the things that he’s being accused of because he has a reputation of doing good and being good,” Genut said.

George Farkas, Weberman’s lawyer, said his client isn’t guilty but is damned regardless because the allegations will taint his reputation.

The family has said they would’ve preferred to handle the allegations within the community. But when accusations are managed from the inside, victims are rarely believed and abusers aren’t punished — in part because the word of an elder is respected over the word of a child, victims and advocates say.

Joel Engelman said he tried to work with yeshiva officials, finally confronting them at age 22 about a rabbi who abused him as a child. Engelman was given a lie detector test and encouraged to keep quiet about the allegations, and the rabbi was temporarily removed — long enough for Engelman to turn 23, making him too old under state law to file a complaint.

“It’s that they don’t want to believe that the rabbis that they’ve been raised to respect could be so cruel and could be so criminal,” said Engelman, now 26.

His mother, Pearl, herself an activist, said the community is overwhelmingly good and believes people must be educated about the crime to start standing up for the victims.

“I’m not an anarchist, I’m not a rebel,” said the 64-year-old mother of seven. “I love this community, and I want to change it for the better and make it safer for children.”

Outside law enforcement has also had a difficult time. Before 2009, only a handful of sex abuse cases were reported within the ultra-Orthodox community. Then, District Attorney Charles Hynes created a program called Kol Tzedek (Voice of Justice) aimed at helping more victims come forward about abuse, an underreported crime everywhere.

Part of the deal, along with a designated hotline and counseling, is that prosecutors don’t actively publicize the names of accused abusers. The cases are still tried in open court, where the names are public.

Before Kol Tzedek, Hynes said, he struggled to mount a successful prosecution. “As soon as we would give the name of a defendant … (rabbis and others) would engage this community in a relentless search for the victims,” he said. “And they’re very, very good at identifying the victims. And then the victims would be intimidated and threatened, and the case would fall apart.”

Since then, 100 of the total 5,389 cases in the borough have come from the ultra-Orthodox community, the district attorney’s office said. Hynes also started a task force to combat intimidation attempts — and has said rabbis have a duty to come forward if they have been told of abuse.

But victims’ rights advocates say Hynes has purposefully ignored some cases and hasn’t pushed as strongly for full prosecutions of others — bowing to powerful rabbis in exchange for political support, a charge he strongly denies.

“He doesn’t take care of victims,” said Nuchem Rosenberg, a rabbi who says he was ostracized for speaking out about abuse. “He takes care of those in power, so they can all keep power.”

Genut said the accuser is ready to testify. Her family, though, is looking for a higher judgment than criminal court.

“They believe that God’s going to take revenge on him,” she said. “They’re suffering a lot and they say one nice day God’s going to show us that he did stick up for us.”

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Idaho death row inmate to be executed Tuesday

Monday, June 11th, 2012

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — More than a quarter century after Danette Elg’s mutilated body was found on a punctured waterbed in her bedroom, her family still declines to publicly talk about her and what happened.

The southeastern Idaho woman was a licensed private pilot who loved the outdoors, fishing and hang-gliding. At the time of her death, she had been the only female to graduate from the Idaho State Aeronautical School, according to her obituary.

Her convicted killer, Richard Leavitt, 53, is scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection June 12, barring any last-minute court intervention.

In the days before the scheduled execution, Elg’s family kept their grief private. She was raised by her mother, Thelma, who died in 2006, and her stepfather, Richard Bross, who currently resides in Boise. Bross declined comment and other relatives didn’t return phones calls from The Associated Press.

Leavitt’s immediate family, including his parents and son, still reside in the small southeastern Idaho town of Blackfoot, where Elg was murdered.

Tim Leavitt, who at 31 is the same age as Elg at the time of her death, told the AP on Friday that he was just four years old when his father, who goes by “Rick,” was arrested. The son maintains that his father is innocent, though he has never read the case.

“I’m my dad‘s kid. I know I’m not capable of murdering someone. There’s no way I could take someone’s life, so I don’t think there’s any way he could either,” said Tim Leavitt, who as a young adult was briefly incarnated with his father.

On Sept. 25, 1985, a jury in Bingham County found Richard Leavitt guilty of attacking, sexually mutilating, and murdering Elg at her home. She had been stabbed 15 times with exceptional force on or about July 17 of the previous year, prosecutors said.

A day or so before her death, she called 911 to report a prowler had tried to enter her home and told police she suspected Leavitt, an acquaintance. When police arrived they found signs of attempted entry but nothing else.

There were four days between Elg’s murder and the discovery of her body and during that time, authorities said Leavitt was exceedingly interested in her whereabouts. He claimed Elg’s co-workers had called him after she didn’t show up at work, though authorities couldn’t confirm those phone calls.

Leavitt finally received permission to enter Elg’s home with police and the body was discovered. Leavitt’s blood was found in the bedroom, and he later claimed that he’d gotten a nosebleed when he was at Elg’s house several days before her death.

Additionally, prosecutors said, Leavitt received medical treatment for a serious cut to his finger on or about the same night Elg is believed to have died at her home and gave “shifting versions” of the story behind his injury, according to court documents.

Tim Leavitt was also imprisoned after pleading guilty to statutory rape, he said, and was incarcerated with his father at the Idaho State Maximum Security Institution south of Boise. The Idaho Department of Correction confirmed that both Leavitts were being held at the institution from February 2003 to April 2004.

In prison since the age of 19, Tim Leavitt said he had just turned 22 when he joined his father at the same facility. While incarcerated, they talked about how the execution day would eventually come, he said, and now it appears to have arrived.

“For me, it’s more of a relief,” he said. “I’m glad dad’s not going to be in prison anymore.”

But for many others, though, that day will bring justice, maybe some closure. Retired U.S. attorney Tom Moss was Bingham County prosecutor in 1984 and said what Leavitt did to Elg is an image that has yet to escape him.

“It was the ugliest crime scene I’ve ever seen,” Moss told KTVB-TV.

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UEFA charges Russia for fan violence

Sunday, June 10th, 2012

UEFA charged the Russian football association on Saturday after fans were filmed fighting with stadium stewards after a European Championship match.

UEFA also is seeking more evidence to investigate reports of ”alleged abuse directed at Czech Republic players” during Russia’s 4-1 win in Wroclaw on Friday.

”UEFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against the Football Union of Russia for the improper conduct of its supporters,” it said in a statement.

Anti-racist experts appointed by UEFA to monitor matches reported Saturday that fans verbally abused Czechdefender Theodor Gebre Selassie, who is black.

UEFA’s disciplinary panel will review the case against Russia – using ”security reports and available images” – on Wednesday.

The alleged improper conduct relates to ”crowd disturbances, the setting off and throwing of fireworks and the display of illicit banners,” UEFA said.

Four stewards at the Euro 2012 stadium in Wroclaw were hospitalized and later discharged after being attacked by Russia fans, city police said.

Online footage showing fans punching the security staff in a stadium concourse area. One steward was punched to the ground and then kicked before the fans walked away.

Earlier Saturday, UEFA released a statement calling it ”a brief and isolated incident involving a small group of around 30 fans who attacked a handful of stewards.”

Police and a witness who took video footage said the Russia fans became aggressive when stewards tried to capture a man who had thrown firecrackers toward the pitch.

Monitors from the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) fans’ network reported to UEFA that Russia fans also displayed a nationalist ”Russian Empire” flag.

The symbol was one ”we take as evidence of far-right sensibilities,” FARE executive director Piara Powar told The Associated Press.

A Russia team spokesman, Nikolai Komarov, said the federation declined comment on details of the reported incidents.

However, Komarov told The Associated Press in a telephone interview: ”The federation has many fans. You don’t have control over them all.”

UEFA rules make national football bodies responsible for the actions of team supporters.

The 16 competing countries at Euro 2012 would likely be fined by UEFA before facing possible expulsion from the competition for repeated offenses.

Four years ago, UEFA fined Croatia 20,000 Swiss francs (then $19,600; ?12,450) for its fans’ neo-Nazi flags and chants during a Euro 2008 quarterfinals loss against Turkey in Vienna, Austria.

No arrests were made Saturday, but police said they had examined security footage and have photos of 12 of the people involved in the attack on the stewards. Police said this information was being given to Polish border guards and Russian authorities in an attempt to capture the men.

In a separate incident in central Wroclaw, four Russians were detained for questioning for allegedly beating up another Russian, who was hospitalized, another Wroclaw police spokesman, Krzysztof Zaporowski, said. The man was treated and later discharged.

The suspects were under the influence of alcohol and police would question them later, Zaporowski said.

In the Ukrainian city of Lviv, a fight broke out between about 10 supporters of Russia and Ukraine outside the football fan zone after Russia beat Czech Republic 4-1, police spokeswoman Svitlana Dobrovolska said.

About six Russia fans waving the black, yellow and white flag of the Russian empire and four supporters of the Ukrainian team dressed in the national colors of blue and yellow grappled and punched each before police intervened to stop the fight. The fans were separated, told to behave and released, Dobrovolska said.

”It was nothing serious,” she said.

Tensions are high between the two ex-Soviet neighbors as Ukraine seeks to move out of the shadow of its former imperial master and forge closer ties with the European Union.

A potentially volatile clash between Russia and Poland looms in Warsaw on Tuesday – a Russian national holiday when fans plan to march from the city center to the stadium.

Powar expressed concern at nationalist flashpoints, even if Warsaw city authorities deny Russia fans permission to go ahead.

”There is a feeling that the Russians will do it anyway,” he said. ”We have got a lot of people out and we will be looking.”

Powar said Polish feelings were agitated by Russia basing its players in a Warsaw hotel neighboring the country’s presidential palace, close to a shrine commemorating the Smolensk air disaster.

Poland’s then state president, Lech Kaczynski, was among 96 people who died on April 10, 2010, when their plane crashed in Russia. Conspiracy theories persist in Poland that Russia was complicit in the crash.

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George Zimmerman’s bond revoked; prosecutors say he, his wife conspired to lie about donations

Saturday, June 2nd, 2012

A judge revoked the bond of the neighborhood watch volunteer charged with killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin and ordered him returned to jail within 48 hours.

Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester said Friday that George Zimmerman and his wife, Shellie, misled the court about how much money they had available when his bond was set for $150,000 in April. Prosecutors claim Zimmerman had $135,000 available that had been raised by a website he set up.

Zimmerman’s wife testified at the bond hearing that they had limited funds available since she was a nursing student and Zimmerman wasn’t working.

“He can’t sit back and obtain the benefit of a lower bond based upon those material falsehoods,” Lester said.

Defense attorney Mark O’Mara said the fact that Zimmerman and his wife never used the money for anything indicated “there was no deceit.”

Prosecutor Bernie De la Rionda described the Zimmermans’ testimony as “misleading.”

“This court was led to believe they didn’t have a single penny,” said De la Rionda. “It was misleading and I don’t know what words to use other than it was a blatant lie.”

Read the prosecutors’ motion to revoke Zimmerman’s bond

Prosecutors also said Zimmerman had failed to surrender a second passport, but the judge dismissed that concern as the equivalent of someone who has lost a driver’s license, applies for a new one and then finds the old driver’s license.

Zimmerman is pleading not guilty to second-degree murder and claims self-defense. Zimmerman shot Martin in February during a confrontation at a gated community of townhouses in Sanford, Fla., where Zimmerman lived and where Martin was visiting his father’s fiancee.

The delay in an arrest for 44 days prompted protests nationwide and led to Sanford’s police chief stepping aside so emotions could cool down.

At Friday’s court hearing, De la Rionda and O’Mara also asked a judge to stop the public release of witness names and statements made by Zimmerman to police officers. Those documents normally are part of the public record under Florida law.

“What’s occurring, unfortunately, are cases are being tried in the public sector as opposed to in the courtroom,” De La Rionda said. “We are in a new age with Twitter, Facebook, and all these things I’ve never heard of before in my career. Everybody gets to find out intimate details about witnesses that never occurred before. Witnesses are going to be reluctant to get involved.”

A consortium of more than a dozen media groups, including The Associated Press, asked the judge to ignore the request, saying such records are presumed to be publicly available under Florida law.

Rachel Fugate, an attorney for the Orlando Sentinel, cited the Casey Anthony trial as an example of a highly publicized case in which a jury was able to be seated despite intense media coverage. The Florida mother was acquitted last year of killing her 2-year-old daughter.

“Discovery in Florida has traditionally been open … and Florida hasn’t encountered problems seating juries and giving defendants fair trials,” Fugate said.

O’Mara said Friday on a website that he doesn’t expect the case to be ready for trial until next year.

O’Mara said he expects to call on 50 witnesses who need to be deposed before he decides whether to file a “stand your ground” motion which would ask for a hearing before a judge without a jury. At the hearing, Zimmerman would argue self-defense under the Florida law which gives wide latitude to use deadly force rather than retreat in a fight if people believe they are in danger of being killed or seriously injured.

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Anti-migrant rally stirs global media storm

Saturday, May 26th, 2012

 

Earlier this week, Hezbollah mouthpiece Al-Manar claimed that Israel has “declared war against African migrants,” accusing Israeli officials of “racist incitement.” The report suggesting that the migrants have been wrongfully held responsible for crimes in southern Tel Aviv.

 

Meanwhile, headlines in the Lebanese newspaper As-Safir and the London-based pan-Arab newspaper claimed that Israeli xenophobia and racism have triggered attacks on African asylum seekers.

 

 

About 1,000 people gathered in south Tel Aviv’s Hatikva neighborhood Wednesday evening to protest against the government’s handling of the flow of African border jumpers into the Jewish state. Several Knesset members spoke at the event.

 

 

Some of the demonstrators shattered the windshield of a vehicle in which three African migrants were riding. Twelve people were arreseted for rioting and looting migrants’ shops.

 

 

 

‘Surging anti-African violence’

Wire reports, which have been picked up by news sites and papers from Washington to Bangkok, initially featured dry reports about Wednesday’s violent rally, but have since offered a deeper look into immigration and the ties between Israelis and migrants.

 

Reuters described the situation as “surging street violence against African migrants, including a rampage that an Israeli broadcaster dubbed a ‘pogrom.'”

 

 

The Associated Press spoke about a “political and emotional backlash” against the ballooning numbers of the illegal refugees, suggesting that the violence was ignited by the “recent rapes blamed on African migrants.”

 

 

The report notes Israel’s inability to expel the refugees due to the state’s commitment to an international refugee treaty, and ponders the implications of the situation for other countries.

 

 

“It has raised questions, relevant all over the developed world, about how much is owed to the impoverished migrants who manage to sneak in,” the article reads.

 

 

 

The French wire service, AFP, called Wednesday’s demonstration a “race riot” that has prompted senior officials to call for the migrants’ deportation.

 

‘Israeli Kristallnacht’

News sites that have chosen not to pick up the wire stories opted for even bolder phrasing and commentary. The website Russia Today called Wednesday’s events the “Israeli Kristallnacht,” referring to the 1938 pogroms across Nazi Germany in which Jews were killed and Jewish institutions were destroyed. The night is regarded as marking the beginning of the Holocaust.

 

 

“The rage of those who attended the rally seems to reflect a growing intolerance of the incoming African asylum seekers and migrant workers, even among those in the highest ranks of power,” the author claimed. The site quoted several politicians who spoke at the rally, including MK Miri Regev who called the migrants “a cancer in our body.”

 

 

While the UK’s Guardian dedicated at least three articles to the issue, The New York Times addressed the situation with a blog post.

 

 

The Daily Beast released an opinion piece by Peter Beinart, who pointed out the disproportionate media coverage that the violent incidents have received due to the fact they took place in the Jewish state.

 

 

“I doubt there’s a single first world nation where an influx of migrants from the global south has not sparked public hatred,” Beinart wrote.

 

 

“So yes, what happened yesterday in the Hatikva neighborhood of Tel Aviv has happened in other countries with swelling immigrant populations, some of which don’t get as much international flak as does Israel, which is unfair,” he added.

 

 

Meanwhile, the US-based Christian Science Monitor stressed the fact that Israel once was a nation of refugees.

 

 

“In an ironic twist, Israel’s most tolerant city erupted in violent riots against African migrants last night, eliciting comparisons with ‘pogrom’ attacks on European Jewish communities in the 19th and 20th centuries,” the popular site wrote.


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Immigrant Smugglers Sentenced For Killing 70-Year-Old Woman, Bertha Gonzalez, In Texas

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Three men have been sentenced to prison in an immigrant smuggling ring for crashing through a Texas home in an SUV, killing a 70-year-old woman, Bertha Gonzalez, according to the Associated Press.

On August 6, 2011, a police officer pulled over the SUV, a Chevrolet Suburban, in Falfurrias, Texas. As he approached the vehicle, the vehicle sped off, crashing into the Gonzalez’s home while she was sleeping. The men were trying to smuggle undocumented immigrants when officers pulled them over.

While the Border Patrol‘s “apprehensions of migrants [have reached] 40-year lows“, the crackdown on undocumented immigrants at federal and local levels has also created an environment of greater risk and danger. Just last month, 9 undocumented immigrants were killed in a car crash, as their driver also tried to flee from authorities.

According to the local Fox network in Falfurrias, Gonzalez’s body was throw into the backyard killing her instantly. Gonzalez is survived by her 6 children and over 20 grandchildren.

Falfurrias Chief of Police, Eden Garcia, told Fox 2 News that “illegal aliens are always being ushered through our towns and our cars.” Garcia says human smuggling is a problem in Falfurrias, Texas. In regard to Gonzalez’s death, Garcia said, “Community wise, everyone is upset. Naturally I’m upset. Again, no one deserves to die like this.”

Prosecutors say the immigrants pleaded with the driver known as “Perico” to stop before he crashed through Gonzalez’s home. Everyone inside the vehicle fled the crash scene. Authorities later found seven undocumented immigrants hiding in a nearby truck. Adrian, one of the smugglers, tried to escape by foot but was tracked down in the area. The driver, “Perico”, was never caught.

Romeo Cantu was given 8 years in prison, Marcos Adrian 4 years in prison and Everardo Hernandez-Salazar 5 years in prison.

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Mass. student defends Norwegian massacre suspect

Saturday, April 21st, 2012

A senior at a Roman Catholic college in Massachusetts who has written letters of support to a Norwegian mass murder suspect will not be on campus “for the foreseeable future,” according to school officials.

Officials at Assumption College in Worcester wouldn’t say Friday whether student Kevin Forts would graduate in May. Renee Buisson, the school’s public affairs director, released a statement saying that Forts has a right to express personal opinions as a U.S. citizen, but that his conduct was “under administrative review.”

The review includes the English major’s comments to a Norwegian news outlet in support of Anders Breivik, as well as an arrest for an alleged assault on campus this year.

Breivik is standing trial in Norway in a shooting and bombing massacre in July that killed 77 people, including children. He confessed but rejects guilt by claiming he was trying to protect Norway and Europe by targeting political forces he says opened the country to immigration. He has said an anti-Muslim network he is part of will lead a revolt with the aim of deporting Muslims.

An English-language video interview on the website of VG Nett shows Forts defending Breivik’s actions. Forts called the deaths of the children “a necessary political sacrifice that is not necessary again.” Forts said people need to look at Breivik’s political platform, “rather than his atrocious actions.”

The student also called Breivik a patriot whose act “demonstrates a sense of nationalism and a moral conscience.”

“He’s fighting against cultural Marxism and an Islamization of Norway and he found that the most rational … way to accomplish that was through terrorist actions on Utoya and in Oslo,” Forts said.

The student told the Norwegian news outfit that he started writing letters to Breivik in February. Forts said he wanted to show support for Breivik’s ideology and tell the prisoner he believed he was “not the terrorist neo-Nazi that the media portrays him to be.”

Assumption officials also condemned the violence in Norway and extended sympathies to the families of massacre victims. No one returned phone messages The Associated Press left at the home of Forts’ family in Shrewsbury and with another relative.

The Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported that Forts pleaded not guilty after police arrested him in February for assault and battery after he allegedly grabbed his girlfriend on campus during an argument.

Buisson said Forts doesn’t live on campus.

He was on the school’s tennis team in the past and also has been on the college’s student-athlete honor roll, according to a sports bio from the college’s website.

That profile said Forts was born in Rhode Island, attended a religious high school and has one sibling.

The college website also shows Forts was part of an Assumption trip to Europe in May 2010. Students toured Venice, Italy, as part of a program integrating “the study of politics, arts, literature, philosophy, theology and history to help students reflect upon the heritage of the Western world.”

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Anti-‘Genocide’ Protests Around Nation Were Organized by Neo-Nazis

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Small protests against the “genocide” of white South Africans took place in 11 states Monday, drawing a smattering of media accounts that noted that some leftist counter-protesters accused the demonstrators of being white supremacists.

But the Sacramento (Calif.) Bee quoted Michael Myers, a coordinator for the South Africa Project (SAP) from Oakland, Calif., denying that SAP was racist and complaining that “when a white person tries to stick up for an issue based on race, they’re automatically labeled racist, neo-Nazi Klan members.” The Bee did note that the SAP page later “chided ‘those of you who call yourselves White Nationalists’ who didn’t participate,” but did not further explore the nature of the group beyond noting one marcher’s anti-Semitic comment. The Associated Press alsoreported that counter-protesters accused SAP of being white supremacist, but, like the Bee, did not report any further on the allegation.

They might have dug a little deeper. The first quote on the SAP website comes from Morris L. Gulett —an infamous neo-Nazi leader and key Aryan Nations official who has served prison terms for assaulting a police officer and for conspiracy to rob banks. A few inches below that is a video of David Duke, the neo-Nazi and former Klan leader, bemoaning the fate of whites in post-apartheid South Africa. The page rails on about the “GENOCIDE of our race” and, a little farther down, proposes a solution for the killings by “racist blacks.” “Why, oh why are we not avenging these deaths? Why are we letting the bastards get away with this?” it asks. “The killing is only going to stop if we hit back and make a few examples out of them.”

SAP says it held rallies Monday in Little Rock, Ark., Los Angeles and Sacramento, Calif., Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Philadelphia, Nashville, Tenn., and Spokane, Wash. Photos on its website show groups of up to about 30 people in most of those locations — images of dozens of men with shaved heads, many sporting tattoos and symbols like the triskelion, used by neo-Nazi groups around the world. One photo caption notes that the Arkansas SAP protest was led by Billy Roper, who once led the neo-Nazi White Revolution group.

The protests might not even have gotten the attention they did were it not for counter-protesters in Sacramento, who pelted SAP protesters and police with objects, resulting in two officers being injured and three counter-protesters being arrested. The counter-protesters who were arrested, according to the AP and the Bee, were members of the left-wing populist Occupy Oakland movement.

The South Africa Project shares a Louisiana mailing address with the current “world headquarters” of Aryan Nations, a tiny remnant of a once-important group that is headed by Gulett. Gulett was a lieutenant in Aryan Nations chapter led by the lateRay Redfeairn, the incredibly violent Ohio state leader whose chief claim to fame in the movement was his near-fatal shooting of a police officer. In 2002, after a Southern Poverty Law Center suit bankrupted Aryan Nations, Gulett and Redfeairn founded the Church of the Sons of Yhvh, a group that explicitly supports “white racial supremacy” and the creation of violent “warriors for God.”

Gulett has a serious history with the law. In 1997, he was convicted of assault on a law enforcement officer after he rammed his vehicle into a police cruiser during a high-speed chase. And, in 2005, he pleaded guilty to various conspiracy charges in an armed bank robbery plot. He was sentenced in 2006 to 72 months in prison and only released last September. Most recently, Gulett has been in the news because he recently returned to Louisiana (Gulett is originally from Monroe) where he plans to open a “world Aryan headquarters” in Converse. Local community leaders and residents have not been supportive of his efforts, but in a statement released to the press, Gulett said that he is going ahead: “I or Aryan Nations will not be run off or discouraged by the Jews, Negros, Queers, Mestizos or Mulattoes of the diversity cult,” he said. “As I said of this once great Christian Republic in the interview, diversity is NOT our greatest strength, but our greatest weakness.”

While the South Africa Project is not a pleasant organization, it is true that violence has long been a problem in South Africa. But that violence began among whites.

Between 1948 and 1994, the apartheid government forcibly resettled millions of black people to maintain racial separation, ensured that black citizens would live in poverty, and regularly assassinated and tortured to death its political opponents.  Government officials poisoned and bombed their enemies and encouraged strife in other African countries. The post-apartheid Human Rights Commission found that some 21,000 deaths were the result of political violence under apartheid.

Since 1994, some 3,000 white farmers have been killed, according to a 2010 BBC article, although in 2009 The Economist put the figure at 1,650 since 1991. The magazine reported that the primary motive of the killings was robbery, not racial hatred or any attempt to carry out an anti-white “genocide.” In 2001,Human Rights Watch released a report about the violence in South African farmlands that reported that post-apartheid violence toward black farm workers from employers and law enforcement and government officials was widespread, as well, but less likely to be investigated. The report noted, like The Economist, that common criminality like robbery seemed to be the primary motive in the killings of white farmers.

In his comments to the Bee, Michael Myers’ whiney lament was typical, suggesting that anyone who stands up for whites would be called a racist, a neo-Nazi or a Klan member. In the case of the Monday protests orchestrated by Myers, Gulett and their co-religionists, at least, such a characterization would be entirely accurate.

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Inquest may resolve 30-year-old ‘dingo baby death’ mystery

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

SYDNEY – The fourth inquest in 30 years may finally resolve the mystery of whether a dingo could have stolen a baby from a tent 30 years ago or whether the family murdered the child, The Australian reports.

The 9-week-old baby, Azaria Chamberlain, disappeared from a campsite in August 1980.

Michael Chamberlain, visibly moved, told the Darwin Magistrates court today that “a dingo stole a little girl from our humble tent and killed her,” referring to Australia’s wild native dog.

Court testimony today showed that there have been 239 recorded attacks by dingoes in Queensland from 1990 to 2011, and at least three children had died from dingo attacks since 1982.

Rex Wild, a lawyer assisting the coroner, describes several of the attacks and says he believes the evidence shows that a dingo could have been responsible for Azaria’s death, the Associated Press reports.

“Although it (a dingo killing a child) may have been regarded as unlikely in 1980 … it shouldn’t be by 2011-12,” he says. “With the additional evidence in my submission, your honor should accept on the balance of probabilities that the dingo theory is the correct one.”

The first inquest in 1980 said a dingo was probably responsible for Azaria’s death, but those findings were later quashed.

Then the girl’s mother, Lindy Chamberlain, who has since remarried, was jailed for murder and Chamberlain found guilty of being an accessory after the fact and given a suspended sentence.

It was only after Azaria’s jacket was found in 1986 that a royal commission was held in which both parents were exonerated, the newspaper says.

A third inquest in 1995 listed the cause of death as unknown.

The BBC reports that the court will present its finding next week.

A lawyer for Lindy Chamberlain said the couple had been victims of innuendo, suspicion and the “most malicious gossip ever witnessed in this country,” The Australian reports.

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Missouri Meth Lab Seizures Hit New Record; State Leads Nation Again

Friday, February 24th, 2012

Once again, Missouri has the dubious distinction of leading the nation in the number of meth labs seized in 2011. Law enforcement uncovered 2,096 labs in Missouri last year, an increase of six percent over the 1,960 discovered in 2010.

Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana and Oklahoma rounded out the top five states for meth lab seizures in 2011, though none of them came close to Missouri. Tennessee, with the second-most meth busts, had 1,687 lab seizures in 2011 — or 20 percent fewer than Missouri. The Show-Me State has led the nation in meth lab seizures every year in the past decade except for 2010 when Tennessee briefly captured the title.

Captain Tim Hull with the Missouri Highway Patrol tells Daily RFT that the reason for Missouri’s escalating number of meth lab discoveries is threefold.

First, Missouri’s law enforcement is aggressive in locating and seeking out meth labs and following up on investigations. Second, Missouri has self-sustaining funding for the disposal of hazardous waste created from meth labs. Other states rely on federal grants for cleaning up meth lab toxins, and that federal funding dried up last year.

And, finally, meth makers are finding ways around regulations in Missouri designed to restrict the purchase of pseudoephedrine, the active ingredient found in cold medicines such as Sudafed that is the key ingredient to meth. While some counties and cities have made pseudoephedrine a prescription-only medication in recent years, others (including St. Louis and St. Louis County) use a tracking system designed to limit how much of the drug any single person can purchase. The tracking system is easy to abuse, say law officials, with meth makers hiring other people to purchase pseudophedrine on their behalf.

“Pseudoephedrine is the one ingredient that cannot be substituted with something else in meth production and there still exists ways for meth makers to circumvent the law,” says Hull.

Meth lab seizures in Missouri over the past five years:
2007 – 1,285
2008 – 1,487
2009 – 1,774
2010 – 1,960
2011 – 2,096

*Source: Missouri Highway Patrol

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Poland, US museum tussle over Auschwitz barracks

Friday, February 24th, 2012

Polish and U.S. officials are engaged in intense talks to determine the fate of a sensitive object: a barrack that once housed doomed prisoners at the Nazis’ Auschwitz death camp and is now on display at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

WARSAW, Poland

Polish and U.S. officials are engaged in intense talks to determine the fate of a sensitive object: a barrack that once housed doomed prisoners at the Nazis’ Auschwitz death camp and is now on display at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Poland is demanding the return of the artifact, which has been on loan to the Washington museum for more than 20 years and is an important object in its permanent exhibition. But the U.S. museum is resisting the demand, saying the valuable object shouldn’t be moved partly because it is too fragile.

“Due to the barrack’s size and the complexity of its installation, removing and transporting it to Poland presents special difficulties, including potentially damaging the artifact,” the U.S. Holocaust museum said in a statement to The Associated Press. “Both the Museum and our Polish partners have been actively discussing various proposals, and we remain committed to continue working with them to resolve this matter.”

The issue has arisen because of a Polish law aimed at safeguarding a cultural heritage ravaged by past wars, particularly World War II. Under the law, passed in 2003, any historic object on loan abroad must return to Poland every five years for inspection. While Poland appears open to renewing the loan, it says the barracks must return – at least temporarily.

Because of the rule, the U.S. museum in recent years has already returned thousands of objects dating to the Holocaust, including suitcases, shoes and prosthetic limbs, often in exchange for new, temporary loans of similar or identical items.

The barracks on view in Washington are, in fact, just half of a wooden building where prisoners slept in cramped, filthy and often freezing conditions as they awaited extermination, often in gas chambers. The remaining half still stands at Birkenau, a part of the vast Auschwitz-Birkenau complex.

The two camps, Auschwitz and Birkenau, are about two miles (three kilometers) apart but were part of the same machinery of death during the war and the complex is typically referred to simply as “Auschwitz.”

The director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau museum, Piotr Cywinski, accuses the U.S. institution of violating the terms of a 20-year loan on the barracks, saying the loan expired in 2009.

“We have indicated many times that this half of the barracks must return, that there is no other solution in accordance with the law,” Cywinski said. “It’s a very important object, not just for Washington but for the integrity of Birkenau, the last authentic site of Holocaust remembrance among all the major death camps.”

Many of Poland’s paintings, churches and other cultural gems were stolen, burned or otherwise destroyed during World War II, when Nazi Germany occupied the country, killed 6 million Polish citizens and built death camps across the country where they brought Jews and others from across Europe for extermination.

The legacy today is that the country possesses few old Polish treasures but has many Holocaust relics – including the sprawling site of Auschwitz-Birkenau in the south of the country that is one of the most visited Holocaust remembrance sites in Europe.

The memorial site, in fact, has many personal items that belonged to victims and frequently loans them out to institutions across the world, including Yad Vashem in Israel.

The matter between the Polish and U.S. institutions is extremely delicate and officials on both sides have resisted giving many details, or saying how the matter might be resolved. Poland’s ministries of foreign affairs and culture are also involved in the matter but did not respond to AP requests for comment.

Although the problem might appear intractable, the U.S. Holocaust museum and the Auschwitz-Birkenau museum have cooperated well in the past and share similar missions of Holocaust remembrance – leading to expectations they will reach an eventual compromise.

The U.S. Holocaust museum confirms that the 20-year loan on the barracks began in 1989, but says that it was a renewable loan – and notes that Polish law was changed since then.

The fate of Cywinski, the Auschwitz museum director, is at stake in the matter. Under the law on protecting historic artifacts, he could be jailed for up to two years if he fails to obtain the return of any object on loan.

Roman Rewald, a Warsaw-based lawyer who has represented the U.S. Holocaust museum in the past on a pro-bono basis and has knowledge of the current discussions, says the matter comes down to Polish law, which is rigid and hard to work around.

The law would do a good job, for instance, of stopping an official from giving away a precious 16th century painting, but isn’t as well-suited to regulating Holocaust artifacts, which probably shouldn’t be moved so often.

“The Polish law is designed to make sure that nobody has any leeway in allowing Polish artifacts to leave the country permanently,” Rewald said. “Poland is trying to protect its artifacts, all of them. Unfortunately Holocaust artifacts, which Poland has an abundance of, fall into the same category as all the other artifacts which Poland has been robbed of during wars, especially World War II.”


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Hungarian far-right politician and writer dies

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Istvan Csurka, a Hungarian anti-Soviet dissident playwright and later far-right nationalist politician who was criticized at home and abroad for his anti-semitic articles, died Saturday at age 77.

Csurka’s death was announced by his family. He had been hospitalized in recent weeks with an undisclosed illness, but no other details were immediately available.

Often compared to France’s xenophobic National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, Csurka opposed Hungary‘s membership in NATO and the European Union, but his political activities dwindled after a stinging defeat in the 2006 elections. Still, he kept writing vitriolic articles in his Magyar Forum publications.

Just weeks ago, he spoke at a rally in the southern city of Szeged in defense of Prime Minister Viktor Orban‘s government, which has been severely criticized by the European Union for laws seen curtailing civil liberties and upsetting the democratic system of checks and balances.

Csurka also hit the headlines late last year when his nomination — later withdrawn — as artistic director of a Budapest theater was criticized in Hungary and abroad by theater professionals and Jewish groups.

On Thursday, a letter from Csurka was read to the staff of the New Theater by Gyorgy Dorner, who took over as director this month, in which he asked members of the theater to work together in harmony despite their political differences, state news wire MTI reported.

One of Csurka’s last works, “The Sixth Coffin,” a play about Trianon, the post-World War I treaty which forced Hungary to give up two-thirds of its territories and half its population, is planned to be staged at the theater later in 2012.

Born in Budapest on March 27, 1934, Csurka wrote more than 20 plays, some satirizing the communist regime and especially former dictator Janos Kadar, and published many volumes of essays and short stories. His newspaper and magazine articles often blamed Jews and international powers for Hungary’s problems.

After the 1956 anti-Soviet Revolution, he spent six months in an internment camp for leading a college militia during the uprising.

During his detention, Csurka was recruited as an informant for Hungary’s secret police. Shortly after the fall of the communist regime, Csurka was among the very few who admitted having been part of the dreaded network who often informed on friends and relatives, claiming he had been coerced into accepting the role and had never written any reports.

The secret police eventually declared him unfit for the task because of his refusal to cooperate.

Csurka was twice silenced by Hungary’s cultural authorities during communism, first in 1972 for anti-Semitic and subversive statements.

In 1986, while on a tour of the United States, he published an article in the emigre press dealing with the plights of the ethnic Hungarian minorities living in Hungary’s neighboring countries — a mostly taboo subject during communism — for which he was given a year’s ban.

By this time, he was openly part of the dissident underground and democratic opposition.

Csurka was a founding member of the Hungarian Democratic Forum, a conservative party that led the first post-communist government in 1990-1994. He was expelled from the party in 1993 and later formed the nationalistic Hungarian Justice and Life Party, which was in Parliament between 1998 and 2002.

One of the party’s best-known slogans was “Neither right, nor left — Christian and Hungarian.”

Csurka is survived by a son and two daughters.

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Arizona Inmate Arrested for Refusing to Leave His Cell..LOL

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) – Most people can’t wait to leave jail, but one northern Arizona inmate has been charged with trespassing after refusing to leave the Coconino County lockup.

The Arizona Daily Sun reports 44-year-old Martin Batieni Kombate was arrested in Flagstaff last week for trespassing and was scheduled for release Monday on his own recognizance on the charge.

According to the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office, the inmate was released and was waiting in the waiting area for his ride.

Apparently, the inmate left his wallet in another area and wanted to go back to cell to get it.

The guards would not let him and he made a big scene — it was not that he wanted to stay in jail.

Police were called and Kombate was arrested. Kombate remains in jail.

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Jury in AZ bombing case see informant’s racy pics

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

PHOENIX (AP) — Defense attorneys for two white supremacist brothers accused of bombing a black city official in Scottsdale showed jurors racy photos Friday of a government informant chosen in hopes her good looks would get the men to talk.

Identical twin brothers Dennis and Daniel Mahon, both 61, have pleaded not guilty in the 2004 bombing, which injured Scottsdale’s diversity director and a secretary.

Defense attorneys spent much of Friday trying to criticize the conduct of the government informant, a civilian who works at a motorcycle shop and is identified in court records as Rebecca Williams.

Among the photos Daniel Mahon’s attorney showed jurors was one that showed the pretty brunette from behind, wearing Confederate flag bikini bottoms, a black leather vest, ripped fishnet stockings and thigh-high black boots. Another showed her in a white bikini with a grenade hanging between her breasts as she posed in front of a pickup truck and a swastika.

Williams mailed the photos to Dennis Mahon to allay his fears that she was working with the government, investigators said.

A third photo shown to the jurors was taken by Dennis Mahon himself at a hotel in Tempe. It shows Williams sitting on a towel, wearing a Confederate flag bikini and smiling — a photo the defense said was as an example of the kind of clothes Williams wore around the brothers.

Defense attorney Barbara Hull has told jurors that all the Mahons are guilty of is participating in “a conspiracy of lust,” and that they only made some admissions to Williams to impress her.

She also has called Williams a “trailer park Mata Hari,” comparing her to a Dutch exotic dancer who was convicted of working as a spy for Germany during World War I.

Prosecutors have defended the informant’s behavior, saying she often flirted with the brothers but never had sex with them or crossed any other lines.

On Friday, Hull continued to question Tristan Moreland, the lead investigator in the Mahon case for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

She asked him why Williams sent the Mahons the racy photos and letters in which she referred to the Scottsdale bombing.

Moreland said that the letters — also known as “ticklers” — are designed to get suspects to start talking about a certain subject.

“What about the Christmas card with a half-naked picture of the informant?” Hull asked Moreland. “What was that supposed to tickle?”

Hull continued to reiterate to jurors that Williams was compensated for her meetings and conversations with the Mahons — about $45,000 over a five-year period — and she was promised $100,000 should the brothers be convicted.

Hull also questioned Moreland’s investigative techniques, saying that the box and batteries used in the bombing were uncommon brands used by the city of Scottsdale — an argument she made to back up her assertion in opening statements that a city employee most likely committed the bombing.

Prosecutor John Boyle has told jurors that the brothers belonged to the White Aryan Resistance, a group that encourages members to act as “lone wolves” and commit violence against non-whites and the government to get their message across.

Boyle played a recording of a message left at the diversity office by Dennis Mahon five months before the bombing, criticizing Scottsdale for holding a Hispanic heritage event and using a racial epithet for Hispanics.

“The white Aryan resistance is growing in Scottsdale,” Dennis Mahon said angrily. “There’s a few white people who are standing up.”

Boyle also has played recordings of the brothers using racial slurs for black people and pointing out the bombing site to Williams while they were in Scottsdale under a ruse that she had to pay a speeding ticket.

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Anti-Putin protests draw tens of thousands

Sunday, December 25th, 2011

Vladimir Putin

MOSCOW — Tens of thousands of Russians jammed a Moscow avenue Saturday to demand free elections and an end to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin‘s 12-year rule, in the largest show of public outrage since the protests 20 years ago that brought down the Soviet Union. Gone was the political apathy of recent years as many shouted “We are the Power!”

The demonstration, bigger and better organized than a similar one two weeks ago, and smaller rallies across the country encouraged opposition leaders hoping to sustain a protest movement ignited by a fraud-tainted parliamentary election on Dec. 4.

The enthusiasm also cheered Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader who closed down the Soviet Union on Dec. 25, 1991.

“I’m happy that I have lived to see the people waking up. This raises big hopes,” the 80-year-old Gorbachev said on Ekho Moskvy radio.

He urged Putin to follow his example and give up power peacefully, saying Putin would be remembered for the positive things he did if he stepped down now. The former Soviet leader, who has grown increasingly critical of Putin, has little influence in Russia today.

But the protesters have no central leader and no candidate capable of posing a serious challenge to Putin, who intends to return to the presidency in a March vote.

Even at Saturday’s rally, some of the speakers were jeered by the crowd. The various liberal, nationalist and leftist groups that took part appear united only by their desire to see “Russia without Putin,” a popular chant.

Putin, who gave no public response to the protest Saturday, initially derided the demonstrators as paid agents of the West. He also said sarcastically that he thought the white ribbons they wore as an emblem were condoms. Putin has since come to take their protests more seriously, and in an effort to stem the anger he has offered a set of reforms to allow more political competition in future elections.

Kremlin-controlled television covered Saturday’s rally, but gave no air time to Putin’s harshest critics.

Estimates of the number of demonstrators ranged from the police figure of 30,000 to 120,000 offered by the organizers. Demonstrators packed much of a broad avenue, which has room for nearly 100,000 people, about 2.5 kilometers (some 1.5 miles) from the Kremlin, as the temperature dipped well below freezing.

A stage at the end of the avenue featured banners reading “Russia will be free” and “This election Is a farce.” Heavy police cordons encircled the participants, who stood within metal barriers, and a police helicopter hovered overhead.

Alexei Navalny, a corruption-fighting lawyer and popular blogger, electrified the crowd when he took the stage. He soon had the protesters chanting “We are the power!”

Navalny spent 15 days in jail for leading a protest on Dec. 5 that unexpectedly drew more than 5,000 people and set off the chain of demonstrations.

Putin’s United Russia party lost 25 percent of its seats in the election, but hung onto a majority in parliament through what independent observers said was widespread fraud. United Russia, seen as representing a corrupt bureaucracy, has become known as the party of crooks and thieves, a phrase coined by Navalny.

“We have enough people here to take the Kremlin,” Navalny shouted to the crowd. “But we are peaceful people and we won’t do that — yet. But if these crooks and thieves keep cheating us, we will take what is ours.”

Protest leaders expressed skepticism about Putin’s promised political reforms.

“We don’t trust him,” opposition leader Boris Nemtsov told the rally, urging protesters to gather again after the long New Year’s holidays to make sure the proposed changes are put into law.

He and other speakers called on the demonstrators to go to the polls in March to unseat Putin. “A thief must not sit in the Kremlin,” Nemtsov said.

The protest leaders said they would keep up their push for a rerun of the parliamentary vote and punishment for election officials accused of fraud, while stressing the need to prevent fraud in the March presidential election.

Former world chess champion Garry Kasparov was among those who sought to give the protesters a sense of empowerment.

“There are so many of us here, and they (the government) are few,” Kasparov said from the stage. “They are huddled up in fear behind police cordons.”

The crowd was largely young, but included a sizable number of middle-aged and elderly people, some of whom limped slowly to the site on walkers and canes.

“We want to back those who are fighting for our rights,” said 16-year-old Darya Andryukhina, who said she had also attended the previous rally.

“People have come here because they want respect,” said Tamara Voronina, 54, who said she was proud that her three sons also had joined the protest.

Putin’s comment about protesters wearing condoms only further infuriated them and inspired some creative responses. One protester Saturday held a picture montage of Putin with his head wrapped in a condom like a grandmother’s headscarf. Many inflated condoms along with balloons.

The protests reflect a growing weariness with Putin, who was first elected president in 2000 and remained in charge after moving into the prime minister’s seat in 2008. Brazen fraud in the parliamentary vote unexpectedly energized the middle class, which for years had been politically apathetic.

“No one has done more to bring so many people here than Putin, who managed to insult the whole country,” said Viktor Shenderovich, a columnist and satirical writer.

Two rallies in St. Petersburg on Saturday drew a total of 4,000 people.

“I’m here because I’m tired of the government’s lies,” said Dmitry Dervenev, 47, a designer. “The prime minister insulted me personally when he said that people came to the rallies because they were paid by the U.S. State Department. I’m here because I’m a citizen of my country.”

Putin accused the United States of encouraging and funding the protests to weaken Russia.

Putin’s former finance minister surprised the protesters by saying the current parliament should approve the proposed electoral changes and then step down to allow new parliamentary elections to be held. Alexei Kudrin, who remains close to Putin, warned that the wave of protests could lead to violence and called for establishing a dialogue between the opposition and the government.

“Otherwise we will lose the chance for peaceful transformation,” Kudrin said.

Kudrin also joined calls for the ouster of Central Election Commission chief Vladimir Churov.

Putin has promised to liberalize registration rules for opposition parties and restore the direct election of governors he abolished in 2004. Putin’s stand-in as president, Dmitry Medvedev, spelled out those and other proposed changes in Thursday’s state-of-the nation address.

Gorbachev, however, said the government appears confused.

“They don’t know what to do,” he said. “They are making attempts to get out of the trap they drove themselves into.”

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Hundreds of Nazi Cases Reopened

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

BERLIN –  Prosecutors have reopened hundreds of dormant investigations of former Nazi death camp guards and others who might now be charged under a new precedent set by the conviction of retired U.S. autoworker John Demjanjuk, The Associated Press has learned.

Given the advanced age of all of the suspects — the youngest are in their 80s — the head of the German prosecutors’ office dedicated to investigating Nazi war crimes told the AP that authorities are not even waiting until the Demjanjuk appeals process is over.

 

“We don’t want to wait too long, so we’ve already begun our investigations,” prosecutor Kurt Schrimm said.

Meantime, the Simon Wiesenthal Center‘s top Nazi-hunter, Efraim Zuroff, told the AP he would launch a new campaign in the next two months — a successor to his Operation Last Chance — to track down the remaining Nazi war criminals.

He said the Demjanjuk conviction has opened the door to prosecutions that he had never thought possible in the past.

“It could be a very interesting final chapter,” he said by telephone from Jerusalem. “This has tremendous implications even at this late date.”

Demjanjuk, now 91, was deported from the U.S. to Germany in 2009 to stand trial. He was convicted in May of 28,060 counts of accessory to murder for serving as a guard at the Sobibor death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.

It was the first time prosecutors were able to convict someone in a Nazi-era case without direct evidence that the suspect participated in a specific killing.

In bringing Demjanjuk to trial, Munich prosecutors argued that if they could prove that he was a guard at a camp like Sobibor — established for the sole purpose of extermination — it was enough to convict him of accessory to murder as part of the Nazi’s machinery of destruction.

After 18 months of testimony, a Munich court agreed and found Demjanjuk guilty, sentencing him to five years in prison. Demjanjuk, who denies ever having served as a guard, is currently free and living in southern Germany as he waits for his appeal to be heard.

Schrimm said his office is now again going over all of its files to see if others may fit into the same category as Demjanjuk.

He could not give an exact figure, but said there were probably “under 1,000” possible suspects who could still be alive and prosecuted, living both in Germany and abroad. He would not give any names.

“We have to check everything — from the people who we were aware of in camps like Sobibor … or also in the Einsatzgruppen,” he said, referring to the death squads responsible for mass killings, particularly early in the war before the death camps were established.

It has not yet been tested in court whether the Demjanjuk precedent could be extended to guards of Nazi camps where thousands died but whose sole purpose was not necessarily murder.

Murder and related offenses are the only charges that aren’t subject to a statute of limitations in Germany.

Even the narrowest scenario — looking at the guards of the four death camps used only for killings: Belzec, Sobibor, Chelmno and Treblinka — plus those involved in the Einsatzgruppen could lead to scores more prosecutions, Zuroff said.

“We’re talking about an estimated 4,000 people, to round it off,” he said. “Even if only 2 percent of those people are alive, we’re talking 80 people — and let’s assume half of them are not medically fit to be brought to justice — that leaves us with 40 people, so there is incredible potential.”

Immediately after the war, top Nazis such as Hermann Goering were convicted at war-crimes trials run by the Allied powers, while investigations of the lower ranks eventually fell to German courts.

But there was little political will to aggressively pursue the prosecutions, and many of the trials ended with short sentences, or acquittal, of suspects in greater positions of responsibility than Demjanjuk allegedly had.

For example, Karl Streibel — the commandant of the SS camp Trawniki where Demjanjuk allegedly was trained — was tried in Hamburg but acquitted in 1976 after the judges ruled it hadn’t been proven that he knew what the guards being trained would be used for.

But the current generation of prosecutors and judges in Germany has shown a new willingness to pursue even the lower ranks, something applauded by Zuroff.

“Our goal is to bring as many people to justice as possible,” Zuroff said. “They shouldn’t be let off if they’re less than Mengele, less than Himmler … in a tragedy of this scope their escaping justice should not in any way mean that people of a lesser level would be ignored.”

Working in favor of the new investigators is the fact that most suspects would likely have lived openly under their own names for decades, thinking they had no prosecutions to fear.

Those who are harder to locate will be the focus of the Wiesenthal center’s new appeal, which Zuroff said would include unspecified reward money for information that helps uncover a suspect.

On the other hand, Schrimm said it only makes sense to try to bring new cases to trial once the Demjanjuk case is through the appeals process, rather than expend all the resources needed to charge a suspect only to have the case thrown out if Demjanjuk wins. But the appeal could still take at least another six months to a year — or longer — and the suspects are not getting any younger.

“It’s very clear that they’re old, that’s why we’re preparing everything now so that as soon as there is a final decision, we can move immediately with charges,” Schrimm said.

Zuroff said he hoped that the appeal could somehow be fast-tracked so that new charges could be filed before it is too late.

“This … is a test for the German judicial system to see if they can expedite this in an appropriate manner to enable these cases to go forward,” he said.


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Ukrainians back Demjanjuk, convicted and stateless

Monday, May 30th, 2011
John Demjanjuk hearing his death sentence. Dem...

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Convicted of Nazi war crimes, in failing health at age 91 and lacking a country to call home, John Demjanjuk lives in a world with few allies, save for the fellow Ukrainians who are determined to help a man many of them say was a victim.

Supporters of Demjanjuk — who lived for years in suburban Cleveland and worked in an auto plant before accusations arose that he hid his past as a Nazi death camp guard — have spoken out against his conviction, nudged Ukraine to help, promised to lobby Congress and hope to see his U.S. citizenship restored.

“If there’s any way that we can help him get his citizenship reinstated, we will do anything that we possibly can,” said Tamara Olexy, president of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, an umbrella group of Ukrainian-American organizations.

“He should be with his family,” she said. “Our heart goes out to him and his family being separate. It’s terrible.”

His son, John Demjanjuk Jr., said such support has been important.

“My father is and has always been very grateful for the support of the Ukrainian community here and abroad,” he told The Associated Press in an email. “Indeed, if it were not for the unwavering support of the Ukrainian community seeking fairness and justice, Israel would most likely have executed an innocent man years ago.”

Demjanjuk was convicted in Munich on May 12 of 28,060 counts of accessory to murder as a guard at the Sobibor death camp. He was sentenced to five years in prison but was released to await an appeal that could take years. He’s since been living in a nursing home on the German dime.

Pending the appeal, one of Demjanjuk’s few options appears to be fighting to regain his U.S. citizenship based on a 1985 FBI document, uncovered in April by the AP, calling into question the authenticity of a Nazi ID card used against the Ukraine native at his trial.

The German trial and U.S. citizenship issue are separate, and the federal judge in Cleveland who might handle the citizenship matter has said Demjanjuk must serve his sentence in Germany.

Olexy said her organization will lobby Congress on Demjanjuk’s behalf, possibly for help regaining his citizenship, and urged Ukraine to help him with a May 18 statement calling his trial a case of selective prosecution that left him stateless.

No immediate help seems forthcoming from Demjanjuk’s Ukrainian homeland. One official’s comments are open to interpretation.

“Ukraine as a state that suffered huge human losses in World War II of course cannot remain indifferent to the case of Ivan Demjanjuk,” said Hanna Herman, deputy chief of staff to Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, using the Ukrainian version of Demjanjuk’s first name.

Demjanjuk lost his U.S. citizenship twice before, the first time after the Justice Department alleged in 1977 that he hid his past as a Nazi death camp guard known as “Ivan the Terrible.” He ultimately was convicted in Israel and sentenced to die, but the case was overturned.

Demjanjuk has always maintained he was a victim of the Nazis — first wounded as a Soviet soldier and then captured and held as a prisoner of war.

Frustration among Demjanjuk’s backers is partly fueled by a common feeling in the Ukrainian community that their native land was oppressed in succession by Stalin, Hitler and then the Soviets.

“Ukraine was ravaged by the Second World War,” said Askold Lozynskyj, former president of the Ukrainian World Congress. “Russia wrote our history, so as a result, we’ve been scapegoats for a lot.”

From his vantage point after decades of legal proceedings, Demjanjuk must know any resolution is years away. The Ukrainian community has been a steadfast source of moral support and financial help, but considering his age and multiple health problems, interest in helping him this time around is somewhat tempered.

Since the conviction in Germany, neither Demjanjuk nor his family has asked for help from the Ukrainian community, Lozynskyj said.

With Demjanjuk ensconced in the nursing home, Lozynskyj said, it’s not clear how much help he really needs.

Demjanjuk’s stateless status is a rarity. Some detainees at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have been described as stateless, and modern-day pirates have operated as stateless individuals, marauding the high seas outside national borders.

Immigration attorneys in the U.S. said it was doubtful that Demjanjuk would be allowed back in the country unless he regains his citizenship.

An American judge has suggested that a public defender recently appointed in Cleveland to represent Demjanjuk’s interests could revive his U.S. denaturalization case using the FBI report that challenged the authenticity of the ID card that was trial evidence.

The file indicated the FBI believed the card, purportedly showing that Demjanjuk served as a death camp guard, was a Soviet-made fake.

Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the chief Nazi hunter of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said it was disturbing to hear about support for Demjanjuk.

“I think this is a very upsetting phenomenon because the Ukrainian community has consistently supported Demjanjuk even though there was serious evidence from the very beginning that he was a participant in the Final Solution,” he said.

Reaction was mixed in the Ukrainian community in Munich. Some pointed out that higher-ranking Germans have been acquitted.

“He was a victim himself and had to react in this way, because he needed to survive,” said Rosalia Pankiewicz, a 64-year-old of Ukrainian heritage.

Minutes from Demjanjuk’s neat ranch-style home in Seven Hills, Ohio, his ordeal hasn’t been a big topic in Parma’s Ukrainian Village, a quaint neighborhood of ethnic shops, cathedrals and Ukrainian gathering spots, according to butcher George Salo.

Among his Ukrainian-American friends and customers, Salo said there’s a sense that the decades-long saga “is what it is,” with little to be done on Demjanuk’s behalf.

“The guy is 91,” Salo said, noting that Germany was the architect of the Holocaust and continues to allow former Nazis to live there: “They’re having a double standard.”

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Lawsuit and Arrest Leaves Ku Klux Klan Group In Turmoil

Monday, May 30th, 2011

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A $2.5 million civil judgment and the prison sentence of its founder has left a western Kentucky-based Ku Klux Klan group with an uncertain future.

The Imperial Klans of America, based in Dawson Springs, has publicly banished members and scaled down its traditional Memorial Day weekend Nordic Fest. Ron Edwards was sentence on Thursday to four years in federal prison on gun and drug charges. 

Southern Poverty Law Center President Richard Cohen told The Associated Press the group, once considered to be among the largest in the country, has apparently shrunk in recent years.

Edwards says IKA is still thriving without him.

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Neo-Nazi Father Shot Dead by 10-Year-Old Son

Friday, May 6th, 2011
A neo-Nazi father was shot dead by his son. The son is only 10 years old, yet he is charged with murder. “This is extremely rare. It is almost unheard of — until today,” said district attorney Ambrosio E. Rodriguez.

Authorities say the shooting was intentional, but the current speculation is that the father’s beliefs were not the catalyst. So what would cause a 10-year-old to shoot his neo-Nazi father?

Jeff Hall, a husband and father of five, was not just a racist; he was the regional leader of the National Socialist Movement. Can a stable mind take on such a vocal position of hate? Do people of sound mind go to such measures to hate non-European races, Jews and homosexuals?

A mind that is consumed with hate cannot also be the mind of a loving dad. Hall was a neo-Nazi father who appears to have failed to satisfy a goal that NSM claims it has – “strengthening family values.”

Allegedly, since 2003, Hall’s family had been monitored by child welfare against allegations of abuse and neglect. If Hall’s beliefs were not the cause of the death, could it be that the 10-year-old boy had enough of the abuse and neglect? A 10-year-old boy is not a 2-year-old boy. He is capable of acting out on his feelings in dangerous ways, even though it is rare to see extreme violence from a child.

The son of the neo-Nazi father has had a history of violent behavior. Authorities may seek the insanity defense.
Aryan Guard 05

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US gov’t opposes public defender in Nazi case

Friday, May 6th, 2011
John Demjanjuk hearing his death sentence. Dem...

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U.S. prosecutors asked a judge Friday to reject a federal public defender‘s request to represent a retired Ohio autoworker who is on trial in Germany for alleged Nazi war crimes.

John Demjanjuk, 90, already has a U.S. attorney willing to work for free, so he doesn’t need a public defender, prosecutors said in a U.S. District Court filing.

The public defender asked last week to be appointed co-counsel, citing a 1985 FBI report recently uncovered by The Associated Press that challenged the authenticity of a Nazi ID card used as evidence in the trial.

The German court is nearing a verdict on more than 28,000 counts of accessory to murder against Demjanjuk on allegations he served as death camp guard. He denies the charges.

Federal prosecutors said there are no current U.S. proceedings requiring representation for Demjanjuk. They said Demjanjuk hasn’t requested a public defender and said it was odd for the public defender to seek to have itself appointed when Demjanjuk could ask for one through his German or U.S. attorneys.

The government also said the public defender’s request focused on speculation that the U.S. might be withholding evidence that could clear Demjanjuk in his German trial. The documents in question have been provided to the German court, prosecutors said.

“Thus, to the extent that the documents are relevant, they have been and will be appropriately considered by the German court,” prosecutors wrote.

The filing said the public defender’s allegations of tainted evidence “appear to have been included solely to sensationalize this motion and criticize the government.”

The public defender, Dennis Terez, said his office would respond to prosecution comments in a court filing. No timetable was mentioned.

The AP reported in April that the 1985 file indicated the FBI believed a Nazi ID card purportedly showing that Demjanjuk served as a death camp guard was a Soviet-made fake.

His defense attorneys have repeatedly claimed that the card and other evidence against him are Soviet forgeries. The FBI report provides the first known confirmation that American investigators had similar doubts.

In three decades of U.S. hearings, an extradition, a death sentence followed by acquittal in Israel, a deportation and the German trial, the arguments have relied heavily on the photo ID from an SS training camp that indicates Demjanjuk was sent to the Sobibor death camp in occupied Poland.

The German court rejected a defense request to suspend the trial so that defense attorneys could travel to the U.S. to examine the new material.

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Neo-Nazis in Moscow demand deportation of non-Slavic migrants

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Hundreds of neo-Nazis have gathered in Moscow to protest Kremlin policies in the violence-ridden Caucasus and to call for the forced deportation of non-Slavic migrants from Russia. Approximately 300 demonstrators, including activists from banned and unregistered groups espousing white supremacy, waved red and white banners with the eagle of Nazi Germany on them and shouted “Long live Russia! Let’s stop feeding the Caucasus!”

The Associated Press reports that the mountainous, predominantly Muslim Caucasus region is the home to hundreds of ethnic groups including Chechens, who have conducted two separatist wars against Moscow since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. According to political scientists, the Chechen conflict has involved the commission of violence against civilians by both militant Islamists and Russian forces and has led to a rise in neo-Nazism and xenophobia in Russia. The conflict is also said to be the cause of growing ill-feeling among people from the Caucasus against ethnic Russians and the government in Moscow.

Roughly 70 000 neo-Nazis are currently active in Russia. At the start of the 1990s there were only a few thousand of them.

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