A Jewish advocacy group is calling on U.S. President Donald Trump to step up federal efforts to stamp out hate crimes after vandalism at a slew of Jewish cemeteries and bomb threats at schools have raised concerns for some in the Jewish community.

Jonathan Greenblatt, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, told VOA he wants to see the federal government take several actions, including a federal hate crime investigation of the recent bomb threats and vandalism to stop the “surge of hate crimes” that have taken place since the election.

“They need to know that the full force of the federal government is prepared to weigh in against their intolerance and hate,” Greenblatt said of those who seek to discriminate against or harm Jewish people.

Greenblatt’s comments came after Jewish Community Centers in at least 12 states received bomb threats on Monday, according to the JCC Association of North America. It was the fifth such day-long campaign of nationwide bomb threats since January.

In addition to the bomb threats, vandals over the weekend damaged hundreds of headstones at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia, some of which dated back to the 1800s. Police, in this case, said they hadn’t confirmed a motive in the vandalism, though they suspect it was targeted at Jews.

A similar incident happened in St. Louis last week, when vandals damaged more than 150 headstones at a Jewish cemetery in the suburbs of the Midwestern city.

Greenblatt said he was unsure whether all the incidents are related or who is responsible for them, though he ascribed them to a rise in anti-Semitic hate stemming from Trump’s election.

“The spike in hate crimes after the election targeted the Jewish community with vandalism, assault, and now since January 1st, bomb threats to Jewish community centers, day schools and the offices of the ADL,” he said.

While Greenblatt said there has been a “spike in hate crimes” since Trump was elected, statistics regarding hate crimes reported by the FBI have not yet been released for 2016 and a count recorded by the Southern Poverty Law Center – which is often cited in news coverage – is populated largely by self-reported, unverified “hate incidents,” which don’t necessarily represent crimes.

In 2015, the most recent year with available statistics, the FBI reported 5,850 hate crime incidents, or roughly 16 per day. In 2010, the FBI reported 6,628 hate crime incidents, or just more than 18 per day. Between 2010 and 2015, hate crime incidents dropped by almost 12 percent, according to the FBI statistics.

The SPLC report shows 220 “hate incidents” reported on November 9, the day after Trump’s election. By November 13, the daily number of reported incidents fell to 52, and by December 12, the last day recorded by the SPLC, the number of daily incidents was one.

While the SPLC tally is likely incomplete, the data doesn’t show any increase in “hate incidents” beyond Trump’s first week in office and is well below the FBI average following his second week.

Though he lacks statistical proof of a spike in hate crimes, Greenblatt said he wants the federal government to institute an inter-agency task force for fighting anti-Semitism, he wants the FBI to provide hate crime training for local police forces, and he wants the Department of Education to provide “anti-bias and anti-hate” materials to schools, in an effort to solve the problem.

Greenblatt said he is “really heartened and grateful” that Vice President Mike Pence visited the Nazi extermination camp at Dachau last week on his first overseas trip and went to the St. Louis cemetery targeted by vandals to help with clean-up, but that is not enough.

“It’s great that he spoke out, but now we need to move beyond words and we need action,” Greenblatt said.

 


Так званий «тріалог» між органами Європейського союзу щодо узгодження візової лібералізації для громадян України завершився успішно, повідомив кореспондент Радіо Свобода у Брюсселі.

Відтак посли країн ЄС формально схвалять рішення про майбутній безвізовий режим для українців 2 березня, ще одна стадія схвалення відбудеться, найімовірніше, у травні.

Напередодні існували побоювання, що в ЄС можуть загальмувати цей процес щодо України, щоб відкласти схвалення на час після президентських виборів у Франції.

Таким чином, це, як і прогнозували раніше, може означати, що громадяни України зможуть після набуття цим рішенням чинності скористатися з можливості безвізових короткотермінових (до 90 днів протягом кожних 180 днів) поїздок до країн «шенгенського простору» для власників біометричних паспортів без права працевлаштування орієнтовно з кінця червня чи початку липня.

Щодо Грузії, стосовно якої рішення про візову лібералізацію вже ухвалене, на набуття ним чинності очікують 28 березня – через 20 днів після офіційної публікації в Офіційному журналі ЄС, що запланована на 8 березня.


У «Штабі блокади торгівлі з окупантами» заявили про трьох постраждалих під час нападу на блокувальників біля станції Кривий Торець. Вони покладають відповідальність за його організацію на поліцію та керівництво МВС. Відповідне повідомлення розміщено на сторінці штабу у Facebook.

За словами учасників блокади, їх атакували у двох точках – у Бахмуті та Кривому Торці на Донеччині, однак у першому випадку вдалося уникнути силового протистояння. Обидва інциденти вони називають провокаціями з метою змусити їх застосувати зброю і «отримати моральне право на силовий розгін редуту».

«Спочатку з’явилось телебачення, потім – групи «бабусь» із закликами припинити блокаду. Потім, під прикриттям «бабусь», була спроба силового захоплення підготованими групами «тітушок». До місць інцидентів заздалегідь були підігнані пожежні машини та карети швидкої допомоги. Поліція в інцидент не втручалась», – йдеться у повідомленні.

28 лютого у поліції Донеччини повідомили про затримання 37 осіб, які здійснили напад на учасників блокування залізниці.

Цього ж дня міністр внутрішніх справ Арсен Аваков закликав керівників Антитерористичного центру ухвалити рішення для зняття блокади.

27 лютого з боку ватажків угруповань «ДНР» та «ЛНР» надійшов ультиматум: якщо блокаду не знімуть до 1 березня, вони будуть вживати заходів у відповідь. Зокрема, йдеться про «націоналізацію» підприємств.

У СБУ вважають, тим часом, що «націоналізацію» сепаратисти оголосять у будь-якому випадку.

У січні активісти, серед яких депутати Верховної Ради та люди, що називають себе ветеранами АТО, розпочали блокаду деяких ділянок залізниці з вимогою припинити, за їхніми словами, торгівлю з окупованими районами Донбасу. У Києві після цього відбулося кілька акцій протесту зі схожими вимогами. Учасники блокади на Донеччині неодноразово заявляли про підготовку штурму їхніх позицій, які вони називають «редутами», силовики ці заяви спростовували.

15 лютого уряд ухвалив рішення про запровадження надзвичайних заходів в енергетиці на місяць, починаючи з 17 лютого.

 


У Службі безпеки України оприлюднили аудіозапис, як вони стверджують, розмови між ватажком угруповання «ДНР» Олександром Захарченком та його підлеглим Дмитром Трапєзниковим. У записі чути, як співрозмовники вирішують оголосити блокаду у відповідь безвідносно до того, чи припинять блокування залізниці з українського боку.

В СБУ вважають, що блокаду залізниці на Донбасі угруповання «ДНР» хоче використати для «націоналізації» підприємств, які залишилися на їхніх територіях, йдеться у повідомленні на сайті відомства.

Напередодні 27 лютого на «офіційних» інформаційних ресурсах угруповань «ДНР» та «ЛНР» синхронно була оприлюднена спільна заява ватажків цих угруповань – Олександра Захарченка та Ігоря Плотницького: «Якщо до 00:00 середи (1 березня 2017 року) блокада не буде знята, то ми запровадимо зовнішнє управління на всіх підприємствах української юрисдикції, які працюють в «ДНР» і «ЛНР». Ми припинимо постачати вугілля до України».

28 лютого у поліції Донеччини повідомили про затримання 37 осіб, які здійснили напад на учасників блокування залізниці.

Цього ж дня міністр внутрішніх справ Арсен Аваков закликав керівників Антитерористичного центру ухвалити рішення для зняття блокади.

У січні активісти, серед яких депутати Верховної Ради та люди, що називають себе ветеранами АТО, розпочали блокаду деяких ділянок залізниці з вимогою припинити, за їхніми словами, торгівлю з окупованими районами Донбасу. У Києві після цього відбулося кілька акцій протесту зі схожими вимогами. Учасники блокади на Донеччині неодноразово заявляли про підготовку штурму їхніх позицій, які вони називають «редутами», силовики ці заяви спростовували.

15 лютого уряд ухвалив рішення про запровадження надзвичайних заходів в енергетиці на місяць, починаючи з 17 лютого.

 


Protesters planned marches Tuesday in downtown Vancouver as President Donald Trump’s two eldest sons attended the grand opening of their company’s new hotel and condominium tower in a city known for diversity and progressive politics.

Security officers in black suits surrounded the building’s entrance while police gathered on sidewalks at the soaring tower, which has drawn praise for its sleek design but has raised ethical concerns about the business interests of the new U.S. president. Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and other city officials chose not to attend the ceremony in protest of Trump’s policies on immigration and other matters.

“The name Trump has now become synonymous not with luxury and lifestyle, but with racism, sexism and intolerance,” City Councilman Kerry Jang said.

Constable Jason Doucette said Monday that authorities expected “a number of marches” downtown throughout the day and police would ensure things remained under control.

The anti-Trump protests were set to take place outside the building while brothers Donald Jr. and Eric Trump attend opening events inside. Early Tuesday morning, several protesters crowded the building’s entrance, including Henry Ho, who brought signs with messages that included “Dump Trump,” ”Is it 2020 yet?” and “Love Trumps Hate.”

“I believe a president should be at his core a good person,” the Vancouver resident said. “I don’t feel like that comes from Donald Trump.”

While the Trump-branded tower is a source of anger for many, the new hotel and its namesake do have some support in the region.

“President and hotel owner are two different things. If he can separate the two, all the power to him,” said Joe Taylor, a resident of British Columbia. “At least he’s got the nerve to say what’s on his mind. If people don’t like it, well, they’re not used to that.”

A Trump Organization tweet late Monday said the 69-story tower will be “the first property to open in the city” in over six years. But the city’s former planning director, Brent Toderian, said that wasn’t true.

“I’m the former chief planner for #Vancouver. That’s so far from being true, it’s laughable,” Brent Toderian tweeted.

Located along an upscale six-lane downtown thoroughfare, the tower is the second-tallest in Vancouver and offers majestic mountain and ocean views. A one-bedroom apartment, at 699 square feet, starts around $1 million and the average 1,153-square-foot two-bedroom condo went for $1.7 million but has since gone up. Hotel rooms in the slow season start at around $228 ($300 Canadian).

The building’s Malaysian developer, Joo Kim Tiah, said he was “extremely stressed” after Trump entered politics well after he signed the partnership agreement with the Trump organization.

“I was terrified,” Joo Kim of the Canada-based Holborn Development company told the Associated Press. “The people who ran the city were not happy with me. I was scared, but I think they understand. They understand that I’m trapped into – not trapped, locked into – an agreement.”

The chief White House ethics lawyers under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama have criticized Trump’s turning over control of his business to his sons, saying it does not eliminate potential conflicts of interest. Legal experts also say Trump’s overseas businesses could violate the “emoluments clause” of the U.S. constitution, which bars public officials from accepting payments or gifts from foreign governments or companies they control without the consent of Congress. A liberal-funded watchdog group has filed a lawsuit against Trump citing the clause.


More than 120 retired U.S. military generals and admirals are urging Congress not to cut spending on diplomacy and foreign aid, two government functions that may be targeted in President Donald Trump’s first budget proposal.

When he unveils his budget proposal Tuesday before Congress, Trump is expected to call for a $54 billion boost in military spending while offsetting the increase by slashing domestic spending, particularly at the State Department and the Environmental Protection Agency.

In a letter Monday to Republican and Democratic congressional leaders, the retired officers wrote that “elevating and strengthening diplomacy and development alongside defense are critical to keeping America safe.”

The former military leaders wrote that experience has taught them that many of the nation’s crises cannot be solved by military action alone.

“The State Department, USAID, Millennium Challenge Corporation, Peace Corps and other development agencies are critical to preventing conflict and reducing the need to put our men and women in uniform in harm’s way.”

Some of the most prominent retired U.S. military leaders signed the letter, including General David Petraeus, commander of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq and Navy Admiral James Stavridis, the former supreme allied commander of NATO.

The annual U.S. military budget is about $600 billion. In comparison, the United States spends about $54 billion annually on international initiatives.

Congress is not required to accept Trump’s budget proposal and is expected to have hearings on Capitol Hill to explain it.

The letter was coordinated and published Monday online by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, a diplomatic and foreign aid advocacy group.


The last time the entire Sistine Chapel was photographed for posterity, digital photography was in its infancy and words like pixels were bandied about mostly by computer nerds and NASA scientists.

Now, after decades of technological advances in art photography, digital darkrooms and printing techniques, a five-year project that will aid future restorations has left the Vatican Museums with 270,000 digital frames that show frescoes by Michelangelo and other masters in fresh, stunning detail.

“In the future, this will allow us to know the state of every centimeter of the chapel as it is today, in 2017,” said Antonio Paolucci, former head of the museums and a world-renowned expert on the Sistine.

Michelangelo’s ceiling frescoes include one of the most famous scenes in art – the arm of a gentle, bearded God reaching out to give life to Adam.

The Renaissance master finished the ceiling in 1512 and painted the massive “Last Judgement” panel behind the altar between 1535 and 1541.

The last time all Sistine frescoes were photographed was between 1980 and 1994, during a landmark restoration project that cleaned them for the first time in centuries.

The new photos were taken for inclusion in a new three-volume, 870-page set that is limited to 1,999 copies and marketed to libraries and collectors.

The set, which costs about 12,000 euros ($12,700), was a joint production of the Vatican Museums and Italy’s Scripta Maneant high-end art publishers.

Post-production computer techniques included “stitching” of frames that photographers took while working out of sight for 65 nights from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m., when the chapel where popes are elected is closed.

The project was known to only to a few people until it was unveiled in the chapel on Friday night.

The set includes the entire chapel, including the mosaic floor and 15th century frescoes by artists who have long languished in Michelangelo’s giant shadow.

More than 220 pages are printed in 1:1 scale, including ‘The Creation of Adam’ and Jesus’ face from the Last Judgement. Each volume weighs about 9 kg (20 pounds) and fold-out pages measure 60 by 130 cm ( 24 by 51 inches).

The old photos taken during the last restoration were done with film.

“We used special post-production software to get the depth, intensity, warmth and nuance of colours to an accuracy of 99.9 percent,” said Giorgio Armaroli, head of Scripta Maneant.

“Future restorers will use these as their standards,” he said, adding that each page was printed six times.

Brush strokes are clearly visible as are the “borders” delineating sections, known as “giornate,” or days. Since frescoes are painted on wet plaster, artists prepare just enough for what they can complete in each session.

The photographers used a 10-meter-high (33 feet) portable scaffold and special telescopic lens. The results are now stored in a Vatican server holding 30 terabytes of information.

($1 = 0.9450 euros)


The U.S. Embassy in Croatia on Monday strongly denounced a march by far-right nationalists in the Croatian capital of Zagreb who also waved an American flag and reportedly voiced support for President Donald Trump.

The embassy said in a statement it “rejects, in the strongest terms, neo-Nazi and pro-Ustasha views expressed during the demonstration of a few people in Zagreb on Sunday.”

The protesters, dressed in black and chanting slogans used by Croatia’s pro-Nazi World War II Ustasha regime, are members of the small, far-right A-HSP party which is not represented in the country’s parliament. As they marched through the center of the city, they waved an American flag, as well as the flags of Croatia and the far-right German NPD party.

The Ustashas killed tens of thousands Jews, Serbs, Gypsies and anti-Nazi Croats in concentration camps during World War II.

“We condemn any attempt to link the United States to this hateful ideology,” the U.S. Embassy said. “Such a suggestion is an affront to the memories of the 186,000 U.S. soldiers who died in Europe fighting Nazi Germany and the many millions of innocent victims killed during World War II.”

Police arrested the leader of the extremist A-HSP party after the protest, whose participants also called for the expulsion of “all enemies” from Croatia and its departure from the 28-nation European Union.

Croatia is facing a rise in far-right sentiments, especially against minority Serbs who remained in the country after a war between the two neighbors in the 1990s during the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia.

Stickers featuring a drawing of a “Serbian family tree” showing people hanging from its branches appeared over the weekend in Croatia’s border town of Vukovar.

Croatia’s government has condemned both the far-right march and the stickers, saying they are “offensive and shameful.”