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Saturday, Aug 18, 2018
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Minority groups decry rising aggression, anti-Semitism in Poland; Italian right-wing extremist shows no remorse for shooting 6 Africans; more in world news


Thousands protest over Macedonia

Well over 100,000 Greeks took over Athensí main square Sunday to protest a potential compromise with neighboring Macedonia over the former Yugoslav republicís official name. Chanting "Macedonia belongs to Greece!" the protesters converged in front of parliament, many waving flags bearing the Star of Vergina, of the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedonia. A spokesman said he didnít know whether the Macedonian government would react. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was dismissive of the event. About 700 left-wing and anarchist protesters set up a counter-demonstration nearby, bearing banners calling for Balkan unity. "Macedonia belongs to its bears" read one banner. Suspected far-right supporters attempted to attack the counter-demonstration, but were prevented by police. The name dispute broke out after Macedonia gained independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. The country is recognized by international institutions as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, even though about 130 countries refer to it as Macedonia. Many Greeks refer to it by the name of its capital, Skopje. Greece argues use of the name implies territorial claims on its own province of Macedonia, home of Alexander the Great. Skopje officials counter their country has been known as Macedonia for a long time.


Minority groups decry rising aggression, anti-Semitism

Minority group representatives have written to the president to express concern about a rising wave of aggression based on nationality, race and religion. The leaders of Ukrainian, Tartar, Jewish and other groups said in a letter published by the Polish Press Agency late Saturday they especially oppose recent "numerous and loud manifestations of anti-Semitism." They attributed anti-Semitic remarks to lawmakersí passage of legislation seeking to outlaw statements blaming Poles as a nation for World War II crimes committed by Nazi Germany. Israel and international Jewish organizations have strongly criticized the proposal. Historians say some Poles were complicit in the killings, denouncing Jews to the Germans or taking part in killing themselves. Although the bill exempts artistic and research work, Israel and the U.S. say it would infringe on free speech. The opposition to the bill sparked anti-Semitic comments in Poland. Members of the ruling Law and Justice party, including deputy parliament speaker Beata Mazurek, retweeted some of those comments. The minority group leaders called on President Andrzej Duda, lawmakers and the government to "counteract all forms of xenophobia, intolerance and anti-Semitism." Duda has about three weeks to sign into law or reject the Holocaust speech bill.


20 dead migrants pulled from sea

Authorities in Spain and Morocco extended a search-and-rescue operation at sea Sunday after recovering the bodies of at least 20 African migrants a day earlier off Melilla, a Spanish enclave in northern Africa. Most of the bodies, spotted Saturday by a Spanish passenger boat, were recovered by Moroccan authorities. One was found in a separate location by a Spanish police boat and was taken to Melilla for an autopsy. Rescue boats began patrolling "a wider radius" Sunday with the support of a Spanish police helicopter, said Irene Flores, a spokeswoman for the Spanish government in Melilla, amid fears the strong winds and currents that made the seas dangerous would lead the bodies to drift farther. Authorities have not been able to determine exactly when the tragedy occurred, Flores said, nor the migrantsí exact route. Melilla is roughly 100 miles from the Spanish mainland and attracts many seeking the promise of life in Europe. It has a land border with Morocco, and refugees try to enter Spain by that border, often by climbing over fences. Spanish authorities are grappling with an increase in attempted sea crossings spurred in part by a clampdown on other migratory routes.


Right-wing extremist shows no remorse for shooting 6 Africans

A right-wing extremist suspected in the drive-by shooting spree that wounded six Africans in a central Italy city was "lucid and determined" and exhibited no remorse for his actions, an official said Sunday. Luca Traini, 28, remained jailed as police investigated him on multiple counts of attempted murder with the aggravating circumstance of "racial hatred" for the two-hour Saturday night attacks in Macerata. The five men and one woman wounded were from Nigeria, Ghana, Gambia and Mali, according to RAI state television. Authorities seized Adolf Hitlerís Mein Kampf, other publications linked to Nazism and a flag with a Celtic cross from Trainiís home Sunday. Traini, who is Italian with a neo-Nazi forehead tattoo, was an unsuccessful candidate last year in a local election for the anti-migrant Northern League party. ANSA news agency quoted acquaintances saying he previously had ties with two neo-fascist parties. One of the people wounded Saturday, a 29-year-old woman identified only as Jennifer, told La Stampa that she no longer feels free to walk around the city "with peace of mind." Five victims, including Jennifer, remained hospitalized and were in stable condition Sunday. ó tbt* wires

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