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Austrian museum uncovers Nazi loot

2019年3月17日 | 苏州美甲 | Permalink

An Austrian museum has uncovered some unpleasant surprises while cleaning out its cupboards.



The Salzburg Natural History Museum says it has found around a thousand books, hundreds of African hunting trophies and many animal specimens including the bones of ice-age mammoths, which were looted by its founder and director during the Nazi era.


Eduard Paul Tratz looted and confiscated across a broad sweep of Central and Eastern Europe, with churches, libraries and museums his main targets.


The “House of Nature” Tiger exhibit at Salzburg’s natural history museum is a popular attraction with children.


But behind the exhibits that are fascinating youngsters are stored books, trophies and animal bones looted by the museum’s founder, Eduard Paul Tratz.


The museum’s head curator, Robert Lindner, led the research which uncovered the stolen objects.


He says the founder sought out scientific and historical objects to support his ideology of racial superiority.


“He was involved in the confiscation of Catholic organisations here in Salzburg and in the vicinity,” Mr Tratz said.

“He also was involved in the looting of organisations in the areas that were occupied by Nazi Germany and got objects from collections that were formerly owned by Jewish citizens. And he had no moral doubts whether this was OK or not. He just collected.”


Eduard Paul Tratz was an officer in Hitler’s notorious combat unit, the Waffen S-S, as well as a member of the Ahnenerbe – a Nazi research organisation.


Stephan Roth from the Documentation Centre of Austrian Resistance says his collecting was ideologically driven.


“Eduard Paul Tratz, he had a little bit of power, and it was in the interest of the Ahnenerbe to get people like him to get more information about the things they are interested in.

“It was a kind of historical and anthropological research institution of the SS, which was focussed on the superiority of the Arian race and they were empowered to involve or integrate institutions like the Haus der Natur in Salzburg and other institutions in the so-called German Reich.”


Many illegally-acquired objects were returned in the years immediately after the war.


But this latest discovery means that museums in Ukraine and Poland will now have animal samples and book collections restituted.


For the descendants of Alphonse and Clarissa Rothschild, a big collection of African hunting trophies is heading their way.


Robert Lindner says finding so many looted objects was unexpected.


“It wasn’t a total surprise but we weren’t 100 per cent sure so we had to check everything. The biggest surprise probably was that we found more cases than we expected.”


The museum says it’s not finished dealing with its Holocaust legacy.


It will mount an exhibition about its history later this year and says it wants to understand why its Nazi founder came back to his job as museum director after the war.

Aussie business confidence lifts

2019年3月17日 | 苏州美甲 | Permalink

Australian business confidence has lifted to its highest level in more than two and a half years.


And, business conditions during the three months to December were at their strongest in more than 12 months, lifting from -7 to -3, the National Australia Bank quarterly business survey has found.

The post-election honeymoon continued well into the December quarter, helping to prop up confidence, which has risen to +8 from +5, the findings indicate.

But the positive sentiment was also helped by a stronger housing sector (driven by investors), higher asset prices, a lower Australian dollar and interest rates.

However, while confidence rose in the quarterly business survey, the monthly survey suggests it has lost some momentum.

The NAB says business investment growth may lift modestly in the next 12 months, based on business capital expenditure, but warns that mining was under-represented in the survey.

“The degree of slowing in mining investment may not be fully captured,” it said.

The survey found that business activity is starting to respond to signs of improvement in pockets of the economy, although broader conditions remain at lacklustre levels.

The mining sector’s conditions index rose most sharply although, NAB says, the reading remained “uninspiring,” suggesting ongoing consolidation of Australian mining operations.

It also says green shoots in the housing sector has not offset the passing peak in mining investment.

Activity improved in the transport and utilities sector, a bellwether of demand, but overall conditions were described as subdued.

Conditions were weakest in wholesale, where the depreciating local currency can be most damaging, the survey said.

Vic drug tests an attack on workers: union

2019年3月17日 | 苏州美甲 | Permalink

The introduction of a drug- and alcohol-testing regime on taxpayer-funded building sites amounts to an attack on construction workers, their union says.


Companies bidding for a government contract will need to have a comprehensive drug- and alcohol-testing plan in place by mid year under the Victorian government plan.

Premier Denis Napthine said the tests will boost safety and crack down on outlaw motorcycle gangs dealing drugs on the sites.

He said reports of illicit drug use and distribution on Victorian construction sites are widespread, and the presence of intoxicated and drug-affected workers on building sites is a safety risk.

Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) Victorian secretary John Setka said the proposal unfairly singled out construction workers.

“There is no epidemic of drug taking on construction sites,” he said.

“Our health and safety representatives who look out for workers’ health and safety are not reporting a problem.”

Dr Napthine described building sites as potentially dangerous environments.

“We want people operating major machinery in dangerous environments to be drug- and alcohol-free, just the same as we demand pilots to be drug- and alcohol-free, drivers of trucks and heavy vehicles to be drug- and alcohol-free,” he told Fairfax Radio.

“The Masters Builders Association have been lobbying for this, it’s been comments from the police expressing concern about drugs through outlaw motorcycle gangs being dealt on building sites, but most of all it’s been driven by a need for occupational health and safety.”

CFMEU occupational health and safety manager Dr Gerry Ayers said there is no evidence of drug dealing on the sites.

“If the police have information about bikies selling drugs on sites then they should investigate and act on illegal activity,” he said.

The plan will also force companies bidding for government projects to install CCTV monitoring, biometric scanning and smartcard technology on their sites.

Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews said construction workers could be asking why the laws will apply to them and not the premier.

He said he would support an alcohol-free parliament.

Planning Minister Matthew Guy says he hopes the CFMEU will support mandatory drug testing on building sites.

“We believe it’s something that should be welcomed by the CFMEU and other unions because we’re trying to make workplaces safer for workers on building sites across Victoria,” he told reporters.

He said similar tests were already in force on many private building sites.

By-election road test for ballot security

2019年3月17日 | 苏州美甲 | Permalink

New ways to secure ballot boxes and papers will be trialled at Saturday’s Griffith by-election to help avoid the errors of the Western Australian Senate election count in 2013.


The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) faced a grilling at a Senate inquiry on Thursday over the flaws that led to 1370 ballot papers going missing in WA.

The inquiry heard that the commonwealth auditor-general had warned the commission at least four years ago about problems.

Last year’s WA debacle, for which the AEC has apologised, could lead to a fresh Senate election being run in that state and change the federal government’s prospects of getting laws passed.

An inquiry last year by former federal police chief Mick Keelty was inconclusive about how the ballot papers went missing during the WA Senate election recount, but made 32 recommendations.

Mr Keelty’s investigation revealed that ballot papers had been found in rubbish piles and ballot boxes had been unsealed without proper authority.

Acting electoral commissioner Tom Rogers told a Senate committee no one would ever know the fate of the missing ballot papers unless someone eventually came forward with them.

However, he said processes had been put in place for the Griffith by-election – to replace former prime minister Kevin Rudd – to prevent the error reoccurring.

These included police checks of staff, enhanced tracking and control of ballot papers, new security guidelines and improved materials management processes.

But Mr Rogers told the inquiry he could not give a guarantee errors would not occur.

“We’ve taken significant steps … (but) it doesn’t mean the steps we take will prevent a recurrence of that issue.”

His evidence came after Auditor-general Ian McPhee told the hearing the commission had been warned at least four years ago about problems.

Mr McPhee said his office had conducted audits of the commission’s processes in 2002, 2004 and 2010.

The most recent audit found the AEC needed to address the recruitment of suitable staff, reconciliation of ballot papers and the breaking of ballot box seals without witnesses.

The Senate committee heard that last year 60 per cent of election officials in WA were doing the job for the first time.

Brian Boyd, an Australian National Audit Office officer involved in the 2010 audit report into the AEC, told the inquiry the issue of ballot paper security was not merely academic.

“A changed result in one seat can change the government of the nation. It is more important now than ever,” he said.

Mr Rogers told the hearing he was surprised at the comments of the auditor-general as the audit office was represented on its business assurance committee and no issues had been raised in recent years.

Liberal MP and committee chairman Tony Smith said it was clear from the evidence there had been “alarm bells ringing”.

When Mr Smith asked whether it was the greatest failure in the history of the AEC, Mr Rogers said: “Indeed it is.”

But the acting commissioner added that the AEC had shown itself over many decades to be a “highly competent and trusted custodian” of federal elections whose skills in running elections were sought by other countries.

The inquiry continues.

Black Caps rack up runs in Auckland

2019年3月17日 | 苏州美甲 | Permalink

Centuries to skipper Brendon McCullum and Kane Williamson have lifted New Zealand from a precarious start to a solid position in the first cricket Test against India in Auckland.


The Black Caps, sent in to bat at Eden Park, reached 4-329 at stumps on the opening day.

McCullum remained unbeaten on 143, while Corey Anderson was not out 42.

Williamson made 113 before he was caught behind off seamer Zaheer Khan while trying to glance a leg-side delivery.

He and McCullum came together with the Black Caps struggling at 3-30 and they swung the momentum with a 221-run stand.

After negotiating their way to lunch, they lifted the tempo, as cloud cover gave way to sunshine and a green-tinged pitch appeared to settle.

McCullum was content to find his way early on before producing some controlled aggression.

He brought up his eighth Test century by lofting spinner Ravindra Jadeja for a six over long-on.

Williamson got to his fifth Test ton 10 balls later.

His innings continues his excellent form against the tourists, against whom he scored half-centuries in each of the five one-dayers.

He had a let-off on 32, edging a Mohammed Shami delivery to first slip, where Murali Vijay spilled a knee-high catch.

But Williamson showed plenty of fine strokeplay, such as a classy cover drive for four that brought up the hundred partnership.

He and his skipper added 125 during the middle session, with McCullum showing his increasing aggressive intent when he cut seamer Ishant Sharma for successive fours.

Williamson followed up in the next over by hooking a Shami delivery for six to bring up the New Zealand hundred.

He again cleared the rope to reach his 50, top-edging a Khan bouncer over the short fine-leg boundary.

India skipper MS Dhoni, who won all five tosses against McCullum in the one-day series, continued that run as the two-Test series began.

Dhoni’s decision to bowl got early reward with openers Hamish Rutherford (6) and Peter Fulton (13), and danger man Ross Taylor (3) all out cheaply.

During a cold, windy morning session, a lively Ishant claimed two of the wickets to fall.

He was the pick of the Indian bowlers, ending the day with 2-62, while Khan had 2-98.