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Updated: 10 hours 26 min ago

Heirs of holocaust survivors compete to sue Lehman Foundation over $7 million watercolour

November 9, 2019 - 10:03am

The heirs of two Holocaust victims have sued the Lehman Foundation in New York over a multi-million dollar painting, both claiming their families owned the painting before the Nazi era.  The 1917 painting by Egon Schiele, Portrait of the Artist’s Wife, was purchased by Robin Owen Lehman – the son of late the banker Robert Lehman – from the Marlborough Gallery in London in 1964. It is now estimated to be worth between $5 and $7 million.  In 2016, Mr Lehman tried to sell the painting through Christie’s auction house to raise money for his charity foundation. However, the move notified the two rival claimants to the painting’s whereabouts and all three parties have been stuck in a legal stalemate ever since. According to the heirs of Karl Mayländer, a Jewish businessman in Vienna who was killed in Auschwitz, he owned the watercolour before he was deported to the death camp. His family trust now cites a long distant relative, 98-year-old Eva Zirkl who lives in New York, as the rightful owner of the painting. But the family of another Holocaust victim, Heinrich Rieger, who was Egon Schiele’s dentist, believe the watercolour belonged to Mr Reiger before he was killed.  The Lehman Foundation now faces two separate claims from the Rieger and Zirkl families’ respective trusts in New York.  Lawyers representing Mr Lehman tried to settle the dispute in “good faith” outside of the courts, but claim that neither parties were willing to meet in person to discuss their positions.   Thaddeus Stauber, a lawyer in Los Angeles who is representing Mr Lehman in the case, told the Daily Telegraph: “We are trying to establish whether either of these claimants have a legitimate claim. Based on what they have submitted at the moment, we don’t believe either of them do. “I reached out to all the parties individually and invited everyone to New York to try and reach an agreement in good faith. But for the past three years they have refused to talk to each other.” The painting is currently being held in Christie’s in New York and cannot be sold until the dispute is settled.  The case is due to be heard in the coming month at Monroe County Supreme Court in Rochester, New York state, where a judge is expected to decide who the rightful owner of the piece is.  Raymond Dowd, a lawyer in New York representing the Rieger family trust, accused the Lehman Foundation of “procedural lawfare” by insisting that the case be heard outside of New York City.  “When you are a large, rich plaintiff you can afford to engage in procedural lawfare,” he said, adding that the Reiger family trust have been willing to “engage in good faith discussions”.  The legal action was originally started by the Lehman Foundation in September, when its lawyers filed court papers in an attempt to establish whether either family was telling the truth.  The Robert Rieger Trust in New York have since filed a claim on the watercolour, which they say “was always regarded as a special piece of the Rieger collection”. But The Susan Zirkl Memorial Foundation Trust, representing 98-year-old Ms Zirkl, claim that she is the rightful owner.   The case comes after Ms Zirkl was returned two other Schiele paintings from an Austrian museum three years ago, after reportedly spending two decades trying to reclaim the drawings.  Vienna's famous Leopold Museum agreed to return two watercolours, including a self-portrait of Schiele, to the New York-based heiress of Mayländer in 2016. Lawyers representing Ms Zirkl on Saturday denied the “blatantly false” allegation that they have not engaged in good faith discussions, adding: “Mr. Lehman’s counsel is soliciting publicity to manufacture a narrative, and we will not engage in that process.”

Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmakers charged, student mourned

November 9, 2019 - 8:39am

Police in Hong Kong said Saturday that they have arrested and charged six pro-democracy lawmakers, a move that could escalate public fury a day after the death of a university student linked to months of anti-government protests in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory. The 22-year-old died Friday, succumbing to injuries four days after falling from a parking garage when police fired tear gas during clashes with protesters. Police said they arrested six lawmakers and charged them Saturday with obstructing the local assembly during a raucous May 11 meeting over a now-shelved China extradition bill that sparked the five months of protests calling for democratic reforms.

Hospital Identifies Source of Infections That Killed 3 Infants

November 9, 2019 - 8:07am

The infants at the Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pennsylvania, neonatal intensive care unit were tiny, with some born 27 weeks premature.In July, some started to get ill. One by one, the number of sick babies climbed to eight. Between August and September, bacterial infections claimed the lives of three of them.At a news conference last month, officials at the hospital, which is about 150 miles northwest of Philadelphia, said they were at a loss about the source of the infections.But Friday, the hospital announced that it had found the root cause: the process it used to prepare donor breast milk."Our infection control team has traced the bacteria to the equipment used in measuring donor breast milk, which helps premature infants with their nutritional needs," Dr. Edward Hartle, executive vice president and chief medical officer at Geisinger, said in a statement."We would like to extend our sincere apologies to the families who have been affected by this incident," he said, adding that the hospital knows "that the public holds us to the highest standards."The bacteria, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, likes moist environments and grows in water but only presents a danger to extremely fragile patients, such as underdeveloped babies who already have a compromised immune system.Of the five surviving infants who got sick, one has been discharged, and the others remain hospitalized.The hospital, with the help of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, used DNA testing to determine the cause of the infections, Hartle said.The hospital said it changed the breast milk preparation procedure Sept. 30 to "single-use equipment to measure and administer donor breast milk.""We have had no new cases of infants becoming ill from pseudomonas in the NICU since making this change," Hartle said, emphasizing that "the donor breast milk at Geisinger is safe, and we are certain the milk itself was not the cause of the exposure."The hospital, which was already diverting care of some premature babies to other local hospitals while it investigated the infections, said that it was continuing to divert mothers "delivering at less than 32 weeks and babies born prematurely at less than 32 weeks" while it consulted with health authorities about resuming normal operations.At least one of the families whose child died has filed a lawsuit against the hospital. Matt Casey, a lawyer representing two out of the three families whose infants died, said the hospital's statement "raises more questions than it answers.""They haven't told these families anything about the details of when they knew about this and what they did about it prior to their babies being admitted to that NICU," he said.Abel Cepeda was born to Casey's clients, Zuleyka Rodriguez and Luis David Cepeda, of Hazle Township, Pennsylvania, on Sept. 24. He died Sept. 30, the same day that the breast milk process was changed."His parents were told that they didn't know why he died," Casey said.A day before the October news conference in which the infections were announced, the parents got a call telling them the cause of their baby's death was a bacterial infection, he said."We are going to get wholly to the bottom of who knew what, when," he said.The hospital declined to comment on the lawsuit.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company

Roman Catholic Priests Will Not Break Confession to Report Child Abuse, U.K. Inquiry Told

November 9, 2019 - 6:56am

The Roman Catholic Church says it would reject any recommendation that would require priests to break confession to report child sexual abuse.

Ukraine, Russian-backed rebels begin Donbass village withdrawal

November 9, 2019 - 3:53am

Ukrainian government forces and Russian-backed rebels began withdrawing from a village in the disputed Donbass region on Saturday, one of a series of measures that could pave the way for a summit between Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany. Fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed fighters in the eastern region has killed more than 13,000 since 2014, with both sides accusing each other of violating a ceasefire that was agreed in the Belarus capital Minsk in 2015. Relations between Ukraine and Russia collapsed following Moscow's annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014, which prompted Western sanctions.

The Vietnamese victims of UK truck tragedy

November 9, 2019 - 3:44am

British police on Friday confirmed the names of the 39 victims, who are all Vietnamese nationals, found dead in a refrigerated truck in southeast England last month. After Tiep dropped out of high school, he told his family he wanted to work overseas instead of becoming a fisherman in his coastal home province. On October 21, two days before the truck was found, he wrote to his family asking them to get $13,000 to pay to smugglers for his trip to the UK, the last they heard from him.

Indian court rules in favor of Hindus in dispute at heart of tension

November 9, 2019 - 2:44am

The ruling paves the way for the building of a Hindu temple at a site where a mosque once stood

Iran says case open on ex-FBI agent missing there on CIA job

November 9, 2019 - 1:47am

Iran is acknowledging for the first time it has an open case before its Revolutionary Court over the 2007 disappearance of a former FBI agent on an unauthorized CIA mission to the country, renewing questions over what happened to him. In a filing to the United Nations, Iran said the case over Robert Levinson was "on going," without elaborating.

What's Behind Socialism's New Appeal Among Americans?

November 9, 2019 - 1:08am

Multiple forms of socialism, from hard Stalinism to European redistribution, continue to fail.

Meet the U.S. soldier whose portrait hangs over Checkpoint Charlie

November 9, 2019 - 12:37am

When he saw himself immortalized above the well-known crossing point, he was "shocked"

U.S. seeks to charge asylum seekers and hike fees for immigration

November 8, 2019 - 11:59pm

For the first time in U.S. history, the Trump administration is looking to impose an application fee for those seeking protection from persecution

Indian court rules in favor of Hindus in explosive row with Muslims

November 8, 2019 - 9:34pm

India's Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Hindu group on Saturday in a centuries-old dispute with minority Muslims over a place of worship in northern India that has been a lightning rod for tension between the two communities. The court said the disputed land be handed over to a Hindu trust to build a temple while Muslims will be provided a separate parcel of land. A lawyer for a Muslim group said the decision was disappointing and the group was likely to file a review petition.

UPDATE 2-China factory prices falter, while inflation soars to near 8-yr high

November 8, 2019 - 8:28pm

China's producer prices fell the most in more than three years in October, as the manufacturing sector weakened on declining demand and a knock from the Sino-U.S. tariff war, reinforcing the case for Beijing to keep the stimulus coming. The producer price index (PPI), seen as a key indicator of corporate profitability, fell 1.6% in October from a year earlier, marking the steepest decline since July 2016, National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) data showed on Saturday. Analysts had tipped a contraction of 1.5% for the PPI.

South Korea to End Intel-Sharing Pact With Japan as Planned

November 8, 2019 - 7:27pm

(Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. South Korea reiterated its plans to terminate a military intelligence-sharing pact with Japan, a symbolic deal between the two major U.S. allies.“Our position on the termination of GSOMIA hasn’t changed,” according to a presidential Blue House official who declined to be identified, confirming the Nov. 23 termination of the General Security of Military Information Agreement signed three years ago. “We don’t think the termination would weaken the alliance with the U.S.”The report followed Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha’s comments at parliament earlier in the day, where she said the decision “disappointed” the U.S., and Seoul would reconsider the termination of the pact if Japan cancels its July move to restrict exports to South Korea.Relations between the two U.S. allies have soured to the worst level in decades since the South Korean Supreme Court ordered a Japanese company to compensate former Korean workers conscripted during the 1910-1945 colonial times. Japan, which says all such claims were settled under a 1965 treaty, responded with tighter checks on exports to South Korea, citing national security concerns. Seoul has also stripped its neighbor from a list of trusted export destinations.To contact the reporter on this story: Kanga Kong in Seoul at kkong50@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Shamim Adam at, Ville HeiskanenFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Protesters in Chile set fire to university, loot church

November 8, 2019 - 7:10pm

Demonstrators in Chile set a university building ablaze and ransacked a church Friday at the close of an otherwise peaceful rally marking three weeks of unprecedented protests against social and economic inequality. Protesters clashed with police who had set up barricades to protect private Pedro de Valdivia University, and shortly thereafter the wooden roof of its 100-year-old administration building began to burn, witnesses said. Nearby, hooded protesters looted the church of La Asuncion, which was built in 1876, dragging furniture outside and setting it alight.

Top Iowa aide to Steyer's campaign resigns after AP report

November 8, 2019 - 6:55pm

A top Iowa aide to businessman Tom Steyer resigned Friday, a day after The Associated Press revealed he had privately offered campaign contributions to local politicians in exchange for endorsing Steyer's White House bid. Steyer's Democratic presidential campaign announced the resignation of Pat Murphy, a former House speaker who served as a top adviser on Steyer's Iowa campaign. "After the conclusion of an investigation alleging improper communications with elected officials in Iowa, Pat Murphy has offered his resignation from the campaign effective immediately," Steyer's campaign manager Heather Hargreaves wrote in a statement.

No coalition troops hurt in rocket attack at Iraq base

November 8, 2019 - 5:57pm

A barrage of Katyusha rockets targeted an Iraqi air base that houses American troops south of the city of Mosul on Friday, officials said. The rocket fire appears to have originated in Mosul and struck the Iraqi army base in Qayyara, about 60 kilometers (38 miles) south of Mosul, where coalition forces are helping the Iraqis battle remnants of the Islamic State group, Iraqi security officials said. Iraqi officials did not immediately say whether there were any casualties, though a coalition spokeswoman later said no coalition troops had been injured.

U.S. seen as 'exporter of white supremacist ideology,' says counterterrorism official

November 8, 2019 - 4:24pm

After an upsurge in racially motivated attacks around the world, other countries are beginning to regard the United States as an exporter of white supremacism, a senior U.S. counterterrorism official said Friday.