- - Sunday, April 3, 2011


Far-right renews anti-Gypsy campaign

HEJOSZALONTA | Hungary’s far-right Jobbik party is losing support. To fight the trend, it is doing what far-right parties often do in Europe: pick on the Gypsies.

Exploiting anti-Gypsy fears and enduring unemployment in villages hit hard by the economic crisis, Jobbik entered parliament for the first time in 2010 with nearly 17 percent of the vote. Recent polls, however, show its support has slipped to 13 percent among likely voters.

So after months of focusing its political energy in the legislature, Jobbik has renewed its campaign against Gypsies, also know as Roma, with rallies in villages across the country.

Jobbik lawmakers and some 600 supporters, including 50 in camouflage gear and military boots, demonstrated Saturday evening against “Gypsy terror,” in Hejoszalonta, a small village 100 miles east of Budapest, the capital.

The protest was sparked by the March 22 murder of a local woman. Two of her Roma tenants and a third suspect have been apprehended by police.

Hungary’s Roma make up about 6 percent to 8 percent of the country’s population of 10 million and are among its poorest and least-educated residents, facing discrimination at all levels, from education to employment to health care.


Renaissance synagogue set to reopen

ZAMOSC | Seventy-two years after the Nazis arrived, the Polish town of Zamosc is getting its synagogue back.

One of the most important surviving synagogues in Poland, a Renaissance gem looted by the Nazis and suffering from decades of neglect, is reopening this week after a meticulous restoration, part of an effort to reclaim the country’s decimated Jewish heritage.

The refurbishing of the synagogue in Zamosc, an eastern Polish town near the border with Ukraine, comes as Poland’s tiny remaining Jewish community is struggling to preserve some of the most important Jewish sites that survived the Holocaust before they fall into irreversible decay.

But in a sign of how thorough Adolf Hitler’s genocide was, there are almost no Jews left in the town. The cream-colored house of prayer now will serve largely as a place for art exhibitions, concerts and other cultural events in the largely Catholic area.

“The people, they are gone,” said Michael Schudrich, Poland’s chief rabbi. “But at least in their memory, we can do the best to preserve that which remains.”

The population of Zamosc, an exquisite Renaissance town recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site, was 40 percent Jewish on the eve of World War II. Today, there could be a handful of Jews in the town of 65,000, but nobody really knows for sure, since people here often still hide their Jewish roots, scarred by the trauma of the war and the anti-Semitism of the communist era that followed.


Osprey delights birders on return to Scotland

LONDON | Birders are waxing poetic over a female osprey named Lady: She has lived three times longer than average and has returned faithfully to the same Scottish loch for more than two decades.

More than 130,000 people watched the imposing bird of prey on a webcam the day after she returned last week to the banks of the Loch of the Lowes, a lake in Perthshire, Scotland. Lady had completed an annual 3,000-mile migration from West Africa to the banks of the same Scottish lake for the 21st consecutive year.

Most ospreys have an average life span of around eight years, but Lady is estimated to be 26. The raptor dines on fish and can reach nearly 2 feet tall with a wingspan up to 6 feet.

On Sunday, Lady’s most recent mate — an 11-year-old male who first appeared at the Loch of the Lowes last year — came back and settled himself into her nest. Ospreys usually mate for life, but Lady’s long life span means she has outlived most of her partners.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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