Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Polish Fears Of Russia Run High On War Anniversary

A monument to Polish victims of Stalin stands as a reminder of one of the worst Polish tragedies at Moscow’s hands in Warsaw, Poland, on Monday, Sept. 15, 2014. The Soviets killed 22,000 Polish officers in 1940 in an attempt to wipe out a swath of the Polish elite. On Wednesday Poles commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland at the start of the war. The anniversary comes as some Poles are again fearful of Russia due to its aggression in Ukraine.


WARSAW, POLAND (AP) — It was an unexpected question from a woman hoping to sell me her Warsaw apartment: "Are you sure you want to buy now, when war could be coming?"
Though she was half joking, her comment revealed an anxiety Poles express frequently these days — that Russian aggression in Ukraine could spread, upending this NATO and European Union member's most peaceful and prosperous era in centuries.
The woman was the third Pole in the past couple weeks to advise me to think twice about investing in Polish real estate, forcing me to start wondering if it really is wise for me, an American, to risk my savings here.
Anxieties hang in the air as Poland marks the 75th anniversary Wednesday of the Soviet invasion of Poland at the start of World War II, one of several Russian attacks on its neighbor over the past centuries. With President Vladimir Putin showing renewed imperial inclinations, some Poles can't help but wonder if the 1939 invasion by the Red Army really was the last time Russia will make an unwanted foray here.
It's not that most Poles believe Russian troops will cross the border again; in fact, many believe Putin will probably limit his aggression to Ukraine. And there is a sense that NATO does enhance Poland's security. But now, suddenly, the long theoretical notion of war has entered people's minds as a concrete possibility.
For older Poles war isn't even a theoretical notion. They remember well atrocities inflicted by Germans and the Soviets during World War II. One of the most painful episodes of all was the Soviet killing of 22,000 Polish officers in the Katyn forest, an attempt to eliminate a swath of the country's elite.
While Polish leaders have been asking NATO to do more to protect them, regular Poles ponder how far Putin will go in Ukraine. They ask: If the West doesn't put up a more forceful front, will Putin feel empowered to meddle in the Baltic states, which have sizeable ethnic Russian minorities? If so will Poland be next? And if things get really bad, will NATO be there for us?
I witnessed the emotion at a recent dinner with a Polish friend and her American husband. They clashed over whether NATO offers Poland any real protection — she accusing him of naivety for believing the alliance would go to war to protect Poland, he arguing that Poland was much safer because of NATO's Article 5 that requires members to come to the aid of any fellow member subject to attack.
Where they agreed was on their gratitude that they both held U.S. passports — allowing them to escape if the worst ever happened. This is the tense mood that has defined the summer of 2014 in Warsaw. It's a stark contrast to the summer of 2012, when Poland and Ukraine teamed up to host the European football championships.
On match days during the tournament, my Polish partner Pawel and I would stroll among the football fans just to enjoy the upbeat vibe even though we don't care much about the sport. We kept exclaiming to each other that Poland finally felt like a normal, optimistic Western country, after so many years of struggle to overcome the devastating legacy of World War II and communism.
But since the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Pawel keeps trying to make plans for what we should do if war breaks out, talk I dismiss because the prospect of war in Poland feels impossible to me. "Rush to the airport with the baby and get on the first plane out of Poland," he told me again this week. "After that I'll figure out how to join you."
"OK, whatever," I replied. There have been some anecdotal cases reported in the media of Poles preparing for war by making sure passports are updated, getting some of their savings out of Polish banks and stockpiling food.
But those appear to be isolated cases. Economists say that there are no signs of a panicked sell-off of the currency or stocks. Konrad Wierzbicki, 23, said rage toward Russia is a more appropriate emotion than fear, and that he ultimately feels that Poland now is much safer than it was on the eve of World War II.
Still, Poles should remain on alert, he argues. "And if something happens in the Baltics and NATO doesn't react, then we know we will be alone," said Wierzbicki, who is completing a master's in psychology.
I suppose my American optimism — and my desire to get out of a rented apartment that is starting to feel too small with a baby — motivates me to keep on looking for a place to buy. But after looking for many months, I do find myself putting less energy into the search now.
This is partly because the market seems overpriced — but also because it's hard not to be affected by the anxiety I sense all around me.
Vanessa Gera has reported from Poland since 2004. You can follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/VanessaGera

Blacks, Hispanics Have Doubts About Media Accuracy

Graphic shows poll on news on minorities; 2c x 6 1/2 inches; 96.3 mm x 165 mm;


WASHINGTON (AP) — A new study shows a large majority of African-American and Hispanic news consumers don't fully trust the media to portray their communities accurately, a statistic that could be troubling for the news industry as the minority population of the United States grows.
Three-fourths of African-American news consumers and two-thirds of Hispanics have doubts about what mainstream media report about their communities, according to a survey released Tuesday by the Media Insight Project. And while most say it's become easier to get news generally in the last five years, few feel the same way about news regarding their own community, the survey said.
African Americans and Latinos currently make up a third of the U.S. population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. By 2043, the number of minorities is expected to eclipse the number of non-Hispanic whites, with the total minority population reaching 57 percent by 2060.
People of color who are "seeking out news about their communities, they can't find it. And what they see, they don't think is accurate," said Tom Rosenstiel, executive director of the American Press Institute, which teamed with The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research on the project. The survey was funded by the American Press Institute and the McCormick Foundation.
When asked whether they thought news about their communities was accurate, 75 percent of blacks said only "moderately" or "slightly/not at all." When Hispanics were asked the same question, 66 percent replied "moderately" or "slightly/not at all."
Tia C. M. Tyree, a Howard University professor and the assistant chair of the university's department of Strategic, Legal and Management Communications, said the stereotyping of African-Americans and Hispanics in the media, and a distrust of systems in the United States that used to be rife with racism contribute to the distrust.
"Many will believe there is embedded racism in many of America's systems: the media system, the legal system, the educational system," she said. "Many will believe that minorities aren't treated fairly in those systems, and because of that, any products that come out of it will be problematic."
Tyree also pointed at the small number of African-Americans and Hispanics in the media, saying that affects the viewpoint of the product. "It matters who the owners are, it matters who the producers are, it matters who the editors are, because that's often the agenda or the slant of the media and the news coverage," she said.
Part of the reason for the differing levels of skepticism between Hispanics and blacks, the survey said, is that Hispanics have access to a sizable amount of Spanish-language media on television, including Univision, as well as media from other countries. There are no longer any African-American daily newspapers, and few cable channels aimed at African-Americans offer daily news programs.
African-American consumers felt they could find the largest amount of news about their communities on local media. Twenty-three percent named a local television station as providing the most news about their communities, 15 percent named the black press, and 9 percent named newspapers. Hispanics by far — 41 percent — view Hispanic-specific news sources as the most frequent providers of information about their communities, 10 percent named 24-hour news stations 7 percent named a local news station.
"There isn't an analogous, what you might call 'ethnic' press (for blacks) that has evolved as the Internet has evolved — it's been more of a disruptive medium — while the Hispanic media has sort of adapted and grown," Rosenstiel said.
More blacks get their news from television and on cellphones than non-Hispanic whites or Hispanics: 95 percent of blacks said they got their news from television versus 87 percent of non-Hispanic whites and 86 percent of Hispanics; and 75 percent of blacks said they got news on their cellphone versus 64 percent of Hispanics and 53 percent of non-Hispanic whites.
The news industry needs to figure out how to reach these consumers of color, Rosenstiel said. "They're affluent, they're attractive to advertisers, there's a market there," he said. The Media Insight Project is an initiative of the American Press Institute and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
NORC, at the University of Chicago, conducted the survey Jan. 9 through Feb. 17, 2014. It involved landline and cellphone interviews in English or Spanish with 1,492 adults nationwide, including 358 Hispanic adults and 318 African American adults. Results from the full survey have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points; For Hispanics, the margin was 8.5 percentage points and for African Americans, 7.9 percentage points.
AP Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta contributed to this report.
Online: Media Insight Project: http://www.MediaInsight.org
Follow Jesse J. Holland on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/jessejholland

2014 'MacArthur 'Genius Grant' Winners Unveiled

Provided by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, poet Terrance Hayes poses for a photo at his home in Pittsburgh. Hayes was named Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014, as one of 21 people to receive a "genius grant" from the Chicago-based MacArthur Foundation.

CHICAGO (AP) — A professor whose research is helping a California police department improve its strained relationship with the black community and a lawyer who advocates for victims of domestic abuse are among the 21 winners of this year's MacArthur Foundation "genius grants."
The Chicago-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced on Wednesday the 2014 recipients, who will each receive $625,000 to spend any way they like. The professor and lawyer, part of an eclectic group that also includes scientists, mathematicians, historians, a cartoonist and a composer, are among several recipients whose work involves topics that have dominated the news in the past year.
"I think getting this (grant) speaks to people's sense that this is the kind of work that needs to be done," said recipient Jennifer Eberhardt, a Stanford University social psychologist who has researched racial stereotypes and crime.
Her work prompted the Oakland, California, police department to ask for her help studying racial biases among its officers and how those biases play out on the street — topics that have been debated nationally in the wake of the police shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old in Missouri. Eberhardt, who is also studying the use of body cameras by police — another topic of particular interest since Brown's shooting — said, "I hope this will show the work matters, holds value and promotes social change."
The justice system is also at the heart of Sarah Deer's work as a legal scholar and advocate for Native American women living on reservations, who suffer higher-than-average rates of domestic abuse and sexual violence.
Deer, a Native American who teaches law in Minnesota, met with women who simply stopped reporting such attacks because their tribal governments had been stripped of the authority to investigate and because federal authorities were often unwilling to do so, she said. The foundation pointed to her instrumental role in reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act by Congress in 2013 that restored some of those abilities to tribes.
"For the first time since 1978 ... tribes (can) prosecute non-Indians who have committed acts of sexual assault and domestic violence on reservations," she said. Like Deer, fellow recipient Jonathan Rapping has worked to improve the lives of others.
A former public defender, Rapping founded Gideon's Promise after seeing a legal system that he said valued speed over quality representation of the indigent. The organization trains, mentors and assist public defenders to help them withstand the intense pressure that can come with massive caseloads.
Today, the program that began in 2007 for 16 attorneys in two offices in Georgia and Louisiana has more than 300 participants in 15 states. The foundation recognized Khaled Mattawa, an associate professor at the University of Michigan, for his poetry and translations of Arab contemporary poets.
Mattawa, who said he started translating the poetry as way to teach himself to write poetry, said the work can connect people from different cultures. "The poets are bearing witness not only to the humanity of their own people but of a shared humanity," he said.
The awards, given annually since 1981, are doled out over a five-year period. This year's class brings the number of recipients to more than 900. Shrouded in secrecy, the selection process doesn't involve applications. Instead, anonymous groups make nominations and recommendations to the foundation's board of directors.
Most winners are not widely known outside their fields, but the list has over the years included such writers as Susan Sontag and Karen Russell and filmmaker John Sayles.

Monday, September 15, 2014

US Won't Rule Out Working With Iran Against IS

Top row from left, Japanese Ambassador to Iraq Kazuka Nashida, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong, British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond, Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, Qatari Foreign Minister Khaled Bin Mohamed al Attiyah, Turkish Foreign Minister Melvut Cavusoglu, Secretary General of the Arab Ligue Nabil al Arabi, middle row from left, Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird, Jordanian Foreign Minister, Sheikh Sabah Khaled al Hamad, Foreign Minister of United Arab Emirates Sheik Abdullah Bin Zayed al Nahyan, unitentified, Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, Norwegian Foreign Borge Brendem, Czech Republic Foreign Minister Lubormir Zaoralek, German Foreign Minister Frank-Waltyer Steinmeier. Front row from left, Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al Jaafari, Iraqi President Fouad Massoum, French President Francois Hollande, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and U.S. Secretary of States John Kerry, Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini and Belgian

PARIS (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says he won't shut the door on the possibility of working with Iran against a common enemy in the Islamic State militant group, but the two nations won't coordinate on military action.
Kerry also ruled out coordinating with the Syrian government, although he vaguely described ways to communicate to avoid mistakes should the U.S. and its allies begin bombing the Sunni extremist group's safe haven there.
He spoke to a small group of reporters Monday after international diplomats met in Paris, pledging to fight the Islamic State group "by any means necessary." Neither Iran nor Syria, which together share most of Iraq's borders, were invited to the international conference, which opened as a pair of French reconnaissance jets took off over Iraqi skies.
During the meeting, Iraq asked allies to thwart the extremists wherever they find sanctuary. "We are asking for airborne operations to be continued regularly against terrorist sites. We must not allow them to set up sanctuaries. We must pursue them wherever they are. We must cut off their financing. We must bring them to justice and we must stop the fighters in neighboring countries from joining them," Iraqi President Fouad Massoum said.
With memories of the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq still raw, the U.S. has so far been alone in carrying out airstrikes and no country has offered ground troops, but Iraq on Monday won a declaration by the conference's 24 participant nations to help fight the militants "by any means necessary, including military assistance." An American official said Sunday several Arab countries had offered to conduct airstrikes, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive issue.
A French diplomat, speaking only on condition of anonymity after the conference because of protocol, said Paris was awaiting a "formal request" from Baghdad about possible French airstrikes. "The threat is global and the response must be global," French President Francois Hollande said, opening the diplomatic conference intended to come up with an international strategy against the group. "There is no time to lose."
The killing of David Haines, a British aid worker held hostage by the militants, added urgency to the calls for a coherent strategy against the brutal and well-organized Sunni group, which is a magnet for Muslim extremists from all over the world. The group rakes in more than $3 million a day from oil smuggling, human trafficking, theft and extortion, according to U.S. intelligence officials and private experts.
Massoum called for a coordinated military and humanitarian approach, as well as regular strikes against territory in the hands of the extremists and the elimination of their funding. Details of the military options have not been made public.
After the conference ended, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met privately with Massoum at the Iraqi Embassy in Paris, telling him that the drive for an inclusive Iraq government had been key to Monday's pledges.
"So I hope you feel that the push and the risk was worth it," Kerry said. "We are beginning to feel it," Massoum said through a translator. Fighters with the Islamic State group, including many Iraqis, swept in from Syria and overwhelmed the Iraqi military in the Sunni-dominated Anbar province, capitalizing on long-standing grievances against the Shiite-led government in Baghdad.
When the militants arrived in Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, the U.S.-trained military crumbled and the militants seized tanks, missile launchers and ammunition, steamrolling across northern Iraq. The CIA estimates the Sunni militant group has access to between 20,000 and 31,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria.
Muslim-majority countries are considered vital to any operation to prevent the militants from gaining more territory in Iraq and Syria. Western officials have made clear they consider Syrian President Bashar Assad part of the problem, and U.S. officials opposed France's attempt to invite Iran, a Shiite nation, to the conference in Paris.
Iranian Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, speaking on Iranian state television, said his government privately refused American requests for cooperation against the Islamic State group, warning that another U.S. incursion would result "in the same problems they faced in Iraq in the past 10 years."
But Kerry said the U.S. and Iran have discussed whether there was any way they could work together against IS. "I'm just going to hold open the possibility always of having a discussion that has the possibility of being constructive," Kerry said.
A French intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, last week told The Associated Press that "it would please a certain number of countries for Iran to step in to establish order" in Syria. He said that was the view of some Western powers.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov insisted Monday that Syria and Iran are "natural allies" in the fight against the extremists, and therefore must be engaged, according to Russian news agencies. "The extremists are trying to use any disagreements in our positions to tear apart the united front of states acting against them," he said.
Iraq's president, who has said he regretted Iran's absence, appeared ambivalent about Arab participation, saying his country needed the support of its neighbors — but not necessarily their fighter jets or soldiers.
Gulf states, particularly Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have some of the region's best-equipped militaries, and they could theoretically provide air support to a broader international coalition. U.S. officials say the Emirates and Egypt were behind airstrikes against Islamic-backed militants in Libya last month.
Asked about those countries in an AP interview Sunday, Massoum said: "It is not necessary that they participate in air strikes; what is important is that they participate in the decisions of this conference."
Speaking in his first interview since becoming Iraqi prime minister, Haider al-Abadi told state-run al-Iraqiyya in comments aired Sunday that he had given his approval to France to use Iraqi airspace and said all such authorizations would have to come from Baghdad.
Two French fighter planes carried out France's first reconnaissance missions over Iraq on Monday, allowing for the collection of digital images and video at high-speeds, the French Defense Ministry said in a statement. It said similar missions could continue in the coming days.
"This was about French military forces acquiring intelligence about the terrorist group Daesh (Islamic State) and to reinforce our ability to carry out an independent analysis of the situation," the statement said.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said his country would continue offering logistical help to U.S. forces and that counterterrorism efforts will increase, describing the Islamic State group as a "massive" security threat. NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the threat goes beyond just the recent killings.
"This group poses even more of a danger as it risks exporting terrorists to our countries," he said in his outgoing speech as NATO's top civilian official. "It also controls energy assets. And it is pouring oil on the fire of sectarianism already burning across the Middle East and North Africa."
Associated Press writers Jamey Keaten, Sylvie Corbet and Angela Charlton in Paris, Ali Akbar Dareini in Tehran, and John Thor-Dahlberg in Brussels contributed to this report.
Follow Lori Hinnant at : https://twitter.com/lhinnant

Generation Gap: Young Scots Favor Independence

YES campaigner Bobby Docherty demonstrates outside the BBC building in Glasgow, Scotland, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. Throughout the country houses are divided over the issue of separation from the UK with younger voters more inclined to back Yes and the older generation in favor of the union in Thursday’s landmark vote. Support for keeping the UK together is strongest among the over-60s who are worried about pensions, health-care and the value of their savings while much of the pro-independence movement is being driven by the under-40s. With both sides neck-and-neck in the polls, the rival campaigns have called on their core supporters to make a last ditch attempt to swing the vote.

GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) — Across Scotland, dinner table talk is getting heated as families argue over how to vote in Scotland's independence referendum. A generation gap has opened up, with younger voters more inclined to back independence and their elders tending to say they want to remain in the United Kingdom.
Support for the status quo is strongest among the over-60s, who worry about the consequences that breaking free would have on pensions, health care and savings; the pro-independence movement is largely being driven by under-40s. Neck-and-neck in the polls, the rival campaigns have called on core supporters to make a last ditch attempt to swing the vote by making the debate a family affair.
The young have been urged to visit parents and grandparents to explain why they should support separation. The No camp has launched a counteroffensive by asking seniors to win young hearts and minds with their wisdom.
"I was so proud of my grandpa when he told me he was voting Yes that I burst into tears," said 23-year-old Miriam Brett, a campaigner for Generation Yes. "A Yes vote means so much to my generation. We want to let all our grandparents know that their future is secure in our hands, and with a Yes we can build a better future for ourselves and for our children."
The No camp is trailing in every age group except the over-60s. Polls indicate more than 63 percent of that age group is expected to vote in favor of the union. As older people are more likely to be on the electoral roll, there has been a huge drive to get younger people engaged in the Yes campaign.
Interest in the referendum is sky high. A total of 4,285,323 people, or 97 percent of the voting-age population, have registered to vote in the referendum. That's an increase of 300,000 compared to registration figures in 2012.
The turnout for Thursday's ballot could exceed 85 percent, compared to the just over 50 percent who voted in the last Scottish Parliament elections in 2011, and the 63.8 percent who turned out for the 2010 UK election.
Among the electorate are 124,000 16- and 17-year-olds who will be voting for the first time. Many of these new voters are expected to support independence. But conventional wisdom holds that older voters are more likely to actually cast their ballots, a factor that could help the Better Together campaign.
First Minister Alex Salmond described the Generation Yes campaign as "inspired" and said young voters now have a great excuse to pop around their grandparents' house for a traditional Sunday lunch. However, with polls suggesting that as many as 40 percent of families are divided over the referendum — and with at least 20 percent saying the debate has led to heated family arguments — the art of friendly persuasion has not exactly been easy.
"My Dad stopped talking to me when I said I was going to vote Yes," said 21-year-old student Laura Brown. "He even blocked me as a friend on Facebook." The Better Together camp says older voters have a wealth of experience to impart on younger ones.
"Scotland's 1 million pensioners should use their vote and their voice to remind their children and grandchildren of how the National Health Service and pensions were secured by the power of working together," said former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, a major figure in the Better Together effort.
"I urge you to use both your vote and your voice to remind your children and grandchildren of suffering endured together, sacrifices made together and achievements earned together with friends, neighbors and relatives in England, Wales and Northern Ireland," Brown said. "Tell them how we fought and won two world wars together."
It's a message that resonates with older voters. "They haven't lived long enough to see what we have," said Liz Mullen, a 68-year-old retired office worker. "A lot of young people think independence is going to be some sort of miracle cure. ... They think it is some kind of adventure without any risks, but this is not a video game."

China Creates Its First No-Cellphone Sidewalk Lane

Residents look at a sign with the words "China's First Cellphone Lane" explaining the use of a lane which separates those using their phones as they walk from others in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality. The Chinese city took a cue from a U.S. TV program and created a sidewalk with a separate lane for those with heads tucked into smartphones, as a reminder not to tweet while walking the street.

BEIJING (AP) — Taking a cue from an American TV program, the Chinese city of Chongqing has created a smartphone sidewalk lane, seemingly offering a path for those too engrossed in messaging and tweeting to watch where they're going.
But the property manager says it's intended to be ironic — to remind people that it's dangerous to tweet while walking the street. "There are lots of elderly people and children in our street, and walking with your cellphone may cause unnecessary collisions here," said Nong Cheng, the marketing official with Meixin Group, which manages the area in the city's entertainment zone.
Meixin has marked a 50-meter stretch of pavement with two lanes: one that prohibits cellphone use next to one that allows pedestrians to use them — at their "own risk." Nong said the idea came from a similar stretch of pavement in Washington D.C. created by National Geographic Television in July as part of a behavior experiment.
She said that pedestrians were not taking the new lanes seriously, but that many were snapping pictures of the signs and sidewalk. "Those using their cellphones of course have not heeded the markings on the pavement," she said. "They don't notice them."

A Scottish 'Yes' Also Means Exit From EU, NATO

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond, center, leaves a hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland, Sunday Sept. 14, 2014 after his appearance on a BBC current affairs program ahead of the Scottish Referendum vote on Thursday Sept. 18.

BRUSSELS (AP) — If Scottish voters this week say Yes to independence, not only will they tear up the map of Great Britain, they'll shake the twin pillars of Western Europe's postwar prosperity and security — the European Union and the U.S.-led NATO defense alliance.
In breaking away from the rest of the United Kingdom, Scotland would automatically find itself outside both the EU and NATO, and have to reapply to join both, officials from those Brussels-based organizations have stressed.
For the EU especially, Scottish re-entry could be a long and arduous process, with other countries dead set against letting the Scots retain the privileges awarded Britain: the so-called opt-outs from being required to use the euro single currency and to join the multination Schengen zone where internal border controls have been scrapped.
For NATO's admirals and generals, the current Scottish government's insistence on a sovereign Scotland becoming free of nuclear weapons would pose enormous strategic and operational headaches, even if a transitional grace period were agreed on. A new home port would have to be found for the Royal Navy's four Trident missile-carrying submarines and their thermonuclear warheads, currently based on the Clyde.
This "risks undermining the collective defense and deterrence of NATO allies," Britain's Ministry of Defense has said. In what might be read as a warning to the Scots, the ministry has said a nuclear-free stance could constitute a "significant" hurdle to Scotland being allowed back into NATO.
Until Scotland rejoined the alliance, to which it's belonged with the rest of Britain for 65 years, new arrangements would also need to be found to patrol vital shipping routes in the North Atlantic and North Sea. If Scotland were to choose not to rejoin, it would pose a conundrum for NATO for which there is no real precedent: what to do following the loss of a developed, democratically governed part of alliance territory that has opted for neutrality, said Daniel Troup, research analyst at the NATO Council of Canada.
Emergence of a new Western European country of 5 million inhabitants with roughly the land area of the Czech Republic or the U.S. state of Maine or would also set in motion political and social forces whose effects are impossible to predict. Because of British voting patterns, the political groups in England, Wales and Northern Ireland that are seeking Britain's exit from the European Union would become proportionately stronger in Parliament.
Meanwhile, on the continent, from Catalonia in Spain to the Dutch-speaking Flemish areas of Belgium, other European peoples that do not have their own states would likely be emboldened to follow the Scots' example.
Loss of Scotland would also weaken the influence of Britain inside the 28-nation European Union. For the moment, the British, along with the Germans and French, constitute the trade bloc's Big Three. Without Scotland's population, Britain would drop to No. 4, behind Italy.
That would mean fewer British members of the European Parliament, as well as a reduced say in population-weighted decision-making in the EU's executive. "In the European Union, size matters," said Almut Moeller, an EU expert at the German Council on Foreign Relations. "It will be a rump United Kingdom."
This would have major policy implications. A whittled-down Britain would have a weaker hand in pressing for the kind of EU it favors: more of a free market, and less of a political union. Simultaneously, said Professor Richard G. Whitman, director of the Global Europe Center at the University of Kent, politicians and civil servants in London would be "massively preoccupied" for years in disentangling England from Scotland, following more than three centuries of political and economic unity.
The result would be "a much-reduced bandwidth for defending a more liberalistic agenda" in Europe, Whitman said, including the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the EU and the United States.
Under both NATO and EU rules, any existing member could blackball Scotland's application for admission, and some might find domestic political cause to do so. Spain, for example, might want to discourage independence-minded Catalans. For the English, divvying up the common assets with the Scots might turn as acrimonious as a Hollywood divorce, Whitman said.
If Scotland sought special arrangements while trying to get back into the European Union, that could provide a wedge for other countries to demand renegotiation of their own terms of membership, and calls to revise the treaties that are EU's constitutional basis, Moeller said. Germany, the bloc's richest and most influential nation, would be adamantly against that, she said.
A dissenting prediction comes from a Swedish expert on the EU. The 18-month interlude between Thursday's vote and the start date of actual Scottish independence would be enough to allow the Scots and EU to negotiate a deal so that on the very day it became a country, Scotland could seamlessly become an EU member in its own right, said Niklas Bremberg, a research fellow at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs.
The most fateful consequence of a Scottish vote in favor of independence could be very close to home: in neighboring England. The English have already soured sufficiently on the European Union to the extent that in the March elections for the European Parliament, they cast more votes for the anti-EU UKIP party than any other.
Fabian Zuleeg, chief executive of the European Policy Center, a Brussels-based think tank, predicted the Scots this Thursday could set an example of sorts_for the English. "The exit of Scotland from the UK would increase the chances of the exit of the UK from the EU," Zuleeg said.
Associated Press writer Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed to this report.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Merkel Leads Berlin Rally Against Anti-Semitism

German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivers her speech at a rally against anti-Semitism near the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. Thousands of protesters attended the public rally organized by Germany’s Jewish community at the capital’s Brandenburg Gate after tensions over the Gaza conflict spilled over into demonstrations in Europe that saw anti-Jewish slogans and violence. The slogan reads: Stand Up! - Jew hatred - never again!', and the name of the organizer: Central Council of Jews in Germany.

BERLIN (AP) — Chancellor Angela Merkel led a rally against anti-Semitism in Berlin on Sunday, telling several thousand people that Jewish life is part of Germany's identity and she wants to ensure that Jews feel safe here.
Germany's Jewish community organized the rally at the capital's Brandenburg Gate after tensions over the Gaza conflict spilled over into demonstrations in Europe that saw anti-Jewish slogans and violence.
President Joachim Gauck joined ministers and Germany's top Protestant and Catholic clerics at the event along with Muslim community leaders. Jewish leader Dieter Graumann said the summer saw "the worst anti-Semitic slogans on German streets for many, many decades."
"We won't let ourselves be intimidated," he said. "But we would have liked a bit more empathy in the last few weeks. Many of us still come from Holocaust families ... how do you think we feel when we hear on German streets today, 'Jews to the gas?'"
Merkel said it is "verging on a miracle that well above 100,000 Jews live in Germany today," seven decades after the Nazi Holocaust. After the end of World War II, only around 15,000 remained in Germany.
"It is a monstrous scandal that people in Germany today are being abused if they are somehow recognizable as Jews or if they stand up for the state of Israel," she said. "I will not accept that and we will not accept that."
Merkel said it pains her to hear of young Jewish parents asking whether they can raise their children in Germany or older people asking whether it was right to stay. "We are making unmistakably clear with this rally that Jewish life belongs to us — it is part of our identity and culture," she said.
"We want Jews to feel safe in Germany," Merkel said. "They should feel that this country is our common home, in which they like all people who live here have a good future." The president of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald Lauder, pointed to the danger from Islamic extremist and other anti-Semitic propaganda.
"Let us not allow this group of agitators to tear down 70 years of good work," he said.

Holocaust Experts Work To Preserve WWII-Era Items

A worker scans documents at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial digitization laboratory during a tour for visiting international experts and others participating in a workshop devoted to the physical and digital preservation of documents, in Jerusalem. Over three days, the experts discussed the ethical and technical challenges of both conserving originals for history's sake while creating a vast digital archive to make them more accessible and user-friendly.

JERUSALEM (AP) — With survivors dying in growing numbers and their live testimonies soon to be a thing of the past, Holocaust commemoration efforts are increasingly focused around preserving the belongings that contain their stories.
This week Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial held a first of its kind workshop devoted to the physical and digital preservation of documents. Over three days, visiting international experts discussed the ethical and technical challenges of both conserving originals for history's sake while creating a vast digital archive to make them more accessible and user-friendly.
"The two approaches are not mutually exclusive," said Doris A. Hamburg, director of preservation projects at the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. "Accessibility is a major goal for so many institutions and conservation helps to facilitate that."
In the underground Yad Vashem archive containing stacks upon stacks of original documents, books and microfilm, its director Haim Gertner carefully slipped on a pair of white gloves before sifting through a pile of cracked yellowing pages from a diary rescued from a burning synagogue on Kristallnacht — the notorious Night of Broken Glass in November 1938 when Nazi-incited riots marked the start of a campaign to destroy European Jewry.
The brittle pages were falling apart; their corners still had traces of soot. From it he read the following meticulously handwritten phrase: "Memory is the only heaven from which you cannot be expelled."
It's the central challenge for Yad Vashem and other Holocaust museums around the world — keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive after its last survivors pass away. The German Nazis and their collaborators murdered 6 million Jews during World War II, wiping out a third of world Jewry. In addition to rounding up Jews and shipping them to death camps, the Nazis also confiscated their possessions and stole their valuables, leaving little behind. Those who survived often had just a small item or two they managed to keep. Many have clung to the sentimental objects ever since.
In recent years, Yad Vashem has embarked on a last-ditch effort to collect as many items as possible from Israel's aging population of less than 200,000 survivors and their relatives. The goal of the "Gathering the Fragments" project is to collect as many artifacts as possible before the survivors — and their stories — are gone forever.
The diary in Gertner's hands was just one such item to be recently acquired. But for such a relic to survive, the museum can't allow every visitor to get his or her hands on it. Upon arrival at Yad Vashem, the items go through a sorting process. They are then disinfected and scanned for posterity before it is decided whether they are in good enough condition to go on display in the museum or whether they should be stored in the archives.
The institute's paper conversion laboratory is often referred to as the "hospital" for fragile documents and items, where they are treated and preserved with an attempt to maintain their original feel. Then they go to the digital services department where they are scanned, photographed and filed.
The scanning provides a secure copy in case the original deteriorates and allows the documents to be posted online for those unable to visit the museum. Gertner said Yad Vashem scans nearly 20 million documents a year and has accumulated 350,000 hours of audio and video testimony. Within four to five years, all of Yad Vashem will be digitized, he said.
But for many wanting to connect emotionally, the virtual experience is not enough, said Jane E. Klinger, the chief conservator at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. "In a typical digitization program, the focus is to capture information on a page without necessarily capturing the context of that information and the context of the page," she said.
"If digitization were enough why is it that, at least in the United States, in this digital age, museum attendance is increasing overall?" she asked. "It's because people want to see the original. They want to get the material sense of it. Artifacts, whether they are documents, manuscripts, photographs, bowls from Auschwitz — I see them as memory in a concrete form, in tangible form. Somebody can tell you a memory, you can remember something, but you can't really hold it or see it."
Follow Heller on Twitter @aronhellerap

Jewis Leader: Far-Right Votes Risk Nations' Name

Ronald Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Berlin, Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014. Lauder is warning that European voters risk giving their countries a bad name by electing far-right politicians and says he is worried that Islamic extremists are trying to “use all means” to stir up hatred. Berlin on Sunday will host a rally against anti-Semitism, which comes after tensions over the Gaza conflict spilled over into demonstrations in Europe that saw anti-Jewish slogans and violence.

BERLIN (AP) — European voters risk giving their countries a bad name by electing far-right politicians, the leader of the World Jewish Congress warned Saturday ahead of a major rally against anti-Semitism.
WJC president Ronald Lauder also voiced concern that Islamic extremists are trying to "use all means," particularly online, to stir hatred and pointed to the threat posed by radicalized Muslims returning from Syria and Iraq.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and Lauder are to speak at Sunday's rally in Berlin, organized after tensions over the Gaza conflict spilled over into demonstrations in Europe that saw anti-Jewish slogans and violence. In May, European Parliament elections brought successes for far-right parties, particularly in France.
"One person representing a country who is extreme will give their whole country a bad name," Lauder told The Associated Press. "When people vote who goes to the parliament they have to say to themselves, 'who do we really want to represent us, who do we really want to be the face of what people see of our country?'"
Lauder said that, while only a small percentage of Muslims in Europe took part in recent demonstrations, "what worries me very, very much are the political agitators on the part of the Muslim extremists who are trying to use all means, particularly through the Internet, to get people angry."
Europe countries are worried about the return of citizens who fought with the Islamic State group or others who might commit attacks at home. Lauder said that "this is the major threat." Officials say at least 400 people from Germany have gone to Syria and Iraq to fight with extremist groups.
The government Friday banned all activity on behalf of IS, including the distribution of propaganda. "It should have been taken off the air sooner," Lauder said.

North Korea Sentences American Man To 6 Years

Matthew Miller, an American detained in North Korea, speaks to the Associated Press, in Pyongyang, North Korea. A trial has been held in North Korea for Miller, who had been detained since April. The trial was held Sunday morning, Sept. 14, 2014. Details were not immediately available. Miller, 24, of Bakersfield, California, was detained for violating his tourist status when he entered the country. The specific charges or punishment he could face were not announced before the trial. He is believed to have torn up his visa at Pyongyang's airport and demanded asylum.

PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA (AP) — North Korea's Supreme Court on Sunday sentenced Matthew Miller, a U.S. citizen, to six years of hard labor for entering the country illegally and trying to commit espionage.
At a trial that lasted about 90 minutes, the court said Miller, 24, of Bakersfield, California, tore up his tourist visa at Pyongyang's airport upon arrival on April 10 and admitted to having the "wild ambition" of experiencing prison life so that he could secretly investigate the North Korean human rights situation.
Miller, who waived the right to a lawyer, was handcuffed and led from the courtroom after his sentencing. The court ruled that it would not hear any appeals to its decision. Earlier, it had been believed that Miller had sought asylum when he entered North Korea. During the trial, however, the prosecution argued that it was a ruse and that Miller also falsely claimed to have secret information about the U.S. military in South Korea on his iPad and iPod.
Miller is one of three Americans now being held in North Korea. A trial is expected soon for Jeffrey Fowle, who entered the North as a tourist but was arrested in May for leaving a Bible at a provincial club. The third American, Korean-American missionary Kenneth Bae, is serving out a 15-year sentence for alleged "hostile acts."
All three have appealed to the U.S. government to send a senior statesman to Pyongyang to intervene on their behalf. During a brief interview with The Associated Press in Pyongyang last week, Miller said he had written a letter to President Barack Obama but had not received a reply.
Fowle, a 56-year-old equipment operator for the city of Moraine, Ohio, said his wife, a hairstylist from Russia, made a written appeal on his behalf to Russian President Vladimir Putin. He said the Russian government responded that it was watching the situation.
The U.S. has repeatedly offered to send its envoy for North Korean human rights issues, Robert King, to Pyongyang to seek the freedom of the detainees, but without success. Former President Bill Clinton came in 2009 to free a couple of jailed journalists. Jimmy Carter made the trip in 2010 to secure the release of Aijalon Gomes, who had been sentenced to eight years of hard labor for illegally crossing into the country to do missionary work.
In 2011, the State Department's envoy for North Korean human rights managed to successfully intervene in the case of Korean-American businessman Eddie Yong Su Jun.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Fashion Hub Raids Target Cartel Money Laundering

Law enforcement agents stand outside a clothing store after a raid in the Los Angeles Fashion District Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014. U.S. agents raided dozens of businesses in the fashion district of Los Angeles early Wednesday as part of an investigation into suspected money laundering done for Mexican drug cartels.



LOS ANGELES (AP) — Federal authorities arrested nine people and seized about $90 million Wednesday in raids in the fashion district of Los Angeles, marking an unprecedented crackdown on Mexican cartels' increasing reliance on international trade to launder money from drug sales in the United States.
About 1,000 law enforcement officers fanned out across the city's downtown to search dozens of businesses suspected of taking bulk cash funneled by drug cartels for clothing exported to Mexico. The raids came after three separate federal indictments in the biggest investigation to date into trade-based drug money laundering, said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles.
Of the approximately $90 million seized, some $70 million of it was in cash, he said. Since Mexican authorities tightened financial regulations in 2010, U.S. officials say drug cartels have sought new ways to launder proceeds from sales of cocaine, methamphetamine and other drugs in the U.S. and are increasingly turning to international trade.
Los Angeles is a shipping point for narcotics and also a hub for traffickers to consolidate proceeds once the drugs are sold, said Robert E. Dugdale, chief of the criminal division at the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles. Officials believe money laundering is prevalent in the city's 3,000-business fashion district because of the sheer volume of trade with Mexico, he said.
"They produce cheap wares that can be sold down in Mexico," Dugdale said. "The fashion district in particular seems to be where this is thriving at the moment." During the sweep, agents searched approximately 50 businesses and seized massive amounts of cash stored in cardboard boxes and duffel bags, officials said.
Kent Smith, executive director of the LA Fashion District, said most businesses in the district are legitimate and the area generates more than $10 billion a year in economic activity, according to a 2009 study. He also said most businesses sell clothing within the United States.
"All of us are very surprised by this," he said. The three indictments announced Wednesday include charges related to money laundering and other financial violations — for example, breaking up large sums of money into smaller deposits in an attempt to elude authorities.
Outside the nine people arrested, authorities were searching for four others accused in the scheme, including three in Mexico, federal prosecutors said. "We are stepping up our efforts to go after their money, which is the lifeblood of these criminal organizations," Dugdale said.
In one case, the Sinaloa Cartel had $140,000 in ransom payments funneled through businesses in the fashion district for a hostage who was beaten and tortured in Mexico, said Bill Lewis, assistant director in charge of the FBI's office in Los Angeles.
Fashion district wholesaler QT Fashion Inc. is accused of taking the cash and channeling it through 17 other district businesses at the direction of a Mexican company tasked with laundering the money, officials said.
Messages left for lawyers for QT Fashion's owner, Andrew Jong Hack Park, and business manager, Sang Jun Park, weren't immediately returned. Another man authorities say was affiliated with the business, Jose Isabel Gomez Arreola, was not involved and will plead not guilty, said his attorney, John Targowski.
In another case, the chief executive and financial officers of Pacific Eurotex Corp., one of their relatives and an employee were accused of receiving $370,000 in cash and splitting up the funds into smaller deposits in an effort to avoid detection by authorities, said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement's homeland security investigations.
Arnold said the defendants accepted the money even after two of them attended an outreach meeting with ICE and Internal Revenue Service officials to review financial reporting requirements. He said agents began investigating after noting businesses in the fashion district were dealing in large amounts of cash.
A message left for Pacific Eurotex's lawyer, Ariel Neuman, wasn't immediately returned.