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An anti-fascist sign hangs on the barricade outside an occupied government building in Donetsk. (NPR)

Leaflets Given To Donetsk Jews Made Waves Worldwide, But Not In Donetsk

Apr 18, 2014 (All Things Considered)

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Flier caption. After evening prayers at this synagogue in Donetsk, Ukraine, earlier this week, a group of masked men in camouflage distributed a stack of leaflets that instructed local Jews to come to occupied buildings to register or face expulsion.

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A development in Eastern Ukraine has set social media on fire and triggered outrage around the world.

In the city of Donetsk, someone distributed fliers ordering Jews to register with the separatists who have taken over government buildings.

Even though nobody in Ukraine believed the leaflet was real, the fliers hit a nerve.

It all started at a Donetsk synagogue after evening prayers two nights ago, when a group of masked men in camouflage showed up. Everyone says they were very polite as they distributed a stack of leaflets. The fliers said local Jews must come to occupied buildings with a passport, family history, a list of possessions and a $50 registration fee — a huge sum in these parts.

According to the leaflet, the penalty for failing to register could be deportation, loss of citizenship and confiscation of assets.

"I didn't believe a word of it. You'd have to really be a fool to write anything like this," says Yaguda Kellerman, deputy chief of the Donetsk Jewish Community Center. "You walk down the street with a beard and kippah [yarmulke], and you never experience any problems here. I was born in Donetsk."

At first, everyone here more or less ignored the flier. But then a few stories about it popped up in local media, and it caught fire online. From a distance, the story didn't seem so hard to believe. These orders have echoes of the Holocaust, and when people in the West think of Jews in Eastern Europe, pogroms and massacres are often the first things that come to mind. This leaflet plays into people's worst fears about the present-day political unrest.

Rabbi Alexander Dukhovny in Kiev leads Ukraine's progressive Jewish congregations.

"I received so many letters from the United States of America, from the U.K., from European countries, even from Australia," Dukhovny says.

He says he received 200 messages in one day. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry made sure the flier got even more attention.

"This is not just intolerable, it's grotesque. It is beyond unacceptable," Kerry said in Geneva.

Of course, Kerry has a political interest in portraying the separatists as Nazis. And the separatists have been working for months to portray the other side as Nazis. Russian President Vladimir Putin often describes himself as a defender of the Jews.

Vitaly Ivanov is a press attache for the rebels in Donetsk. NPR spoke to him in the occupied government building that's covered with signs saying "anti-fascist."

"Excuse me but when we are struggling against discrimination by the Ukrainian government, how can we discriminate against the rights of other minorities?" Ivanov says.

The rebels put out their own flier, calling the accusations of anti-Semitism unbelievable. They urged people to call an emergency hotline if they see anyone distributing the leaflets.

The Jews of Donetsk realize they have become pawns in a political game here. The region's chief rabbi, Pinchas Vyshetsky, says that's unacceptable.

"What I ask all the political leaders in Ukraine [is], leave us alone. We are not a political organization. We're a religious community, and the people who come to the synagogue didn't come to take part in a political meeting," Vyshetsky says.

Vyshetsky says this flier was intended solely as a provocation. And in a way, the fact that it's getting so much attention means the provocation worked.

As for who made the leaflets, no one has been able to answer that question.

One man at the synagogue said the authors should step forward and take some credit. In one afternoon, they created the most famous leaflet in the world.

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A member of the Bayonne ham authority, La Confrerie du Jambon de Bayonne, with a ham on the first day of the 2014 Bayonne ham fair in southern France. (AFP/Getty Images)

Like Ham? There's A Festival For That In French Basque Country

by Cathy Barrow
Apr 18, 2014

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Visitors look at Bayonne hams displayed on the first day of the yearly ham fair. While the judges deliberate, a band keeps the crowd entertained.

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In Bayonne, they take their ham very, very seriously.

This medieval fortress of a town is minutes from the French seaside ports of Barritz and St. Jean de Luz, and not far from Spain's St. Sebastian. It has reigned as a cultural and commercial center for a millennium, according to historian Mark Kurlansky in The Basque History of the World.

Its most famous item since the Middle Ages? The jambon de Bayonne. The town's celebrated ham even has its own festival.

First, some background. Bayonne may be technically in France, but its people call themselves Basque and claim ancestry from four Spanish states and three French states. It is said, in this case, 4+3=1.

Above all, the Basque have a rich culinary tradition combining sea exploration, the spice trade and foods raised in the fertile valleys of the nearby Pyrenees. And since 1464, the Foire au jambon de Bayonne or Ham Fair, has celebrated this remarkable food.

Three distinct elements — pigs bred for marbled and meaty back quarters, a rich diet of grains and nuts and a dry constant breeze called the foehn that blows down from the mountains — ensure a complex, fruity, silky Bayonne ham.

The air at the fair is thick with the scent of cured meat. Local farmers present their pride and joy - in this case, enormous hams - to be judged.

Each ham is aged for a year or more. After salting and partial air drying, the hams are coated in a panade - a flour and lard-based paste, then put into affinage, or an aging space. For presentation, they are coated with varying quantities of pimente d'Espelette, a local chili pepper powder.

Eric Ospital, one of the three judges, says that most of these farmers are amateurs who make just two hams a year. They raise one pig, which provides two hams: one for the family, the other for the contest.

In the old town square, long tables are arranged just steps from the riverbank. The sun is bright and the ham glistens. Each ham weighs between 12 and 15 kilograms (about 26 to 33 pounds).

Some are presented on patches of moss, grass and clover, to show where the pigs were pastured. One is nestled in a complex diorama with a hearth, fireplace tools, and slices of ham in a skillet with eggs. But most are simply arranged on a piece of classic linen, striped in the Basque red, white and green.

All of the judges are artisan Bayonne ham producers, each with a long family history of charcuterie. They are joined by the members of La Confrèrie du Jambon de Bayonne — the keepers of the ham standards — a dozen men and women wearing long red velvet capes adorned with gold braid and medals, red white and green satin berets and sashes. Evidently, not much has changed in decades.

The judges each carry a probe made from a horse's leg bone to test the ham. But they don't taste it. They judge on smell alone.

Without disturbing the coating, the probe is inserted into three spots: near the hip joint, in a thick part of the meaty upper section between two muscles and near the hock. These three spots indicate if the ham is evenly and properly cured.

The probe is inserted and twisted, removed and quickly raised to the nose; the scent is strong and robust, but fades rapidly. The slim end of the probe is wiped clean, and the hole where the ham was pierced is pounded firmly with the broad flat end to reseal the insertion spot. From time to time, the judges blow their noses to keep their olfactory senses clear.

One ham has turned foul, and the ammonia scent sends the judges reeling. Most of the time, the probe is raised to the nose and is met with a slight nod of the head.

Hours go by. The judges move deliberately from ham to ham, then retire to a local bar to confer. Over glasses of cold beer, they discuss the individual hams and determine the top twelve. Then they return to the table for another round of judging and then another round of beer. Five hams are set aside as the best examples.

This year, the winner receives a fancy plancha, or griddle, as well as a cash prize, not to mention pride. In all, four ham makers out of the 27 entries will take home prizes. With much pomp and circumstance, the winners are announced and celebrated.

Next, the crowd moves to the tents where more than 30 Bayonne ham producers have set up booths. It's lunchtime, after all. Ham sandwiches are sold at each booth. Cones filled with sample charcuterie and ham are offered to attendees.

While the Ham Fair falls on Easter weekend, beginning the Thursday before Good Friday and concluding on Easter (after a Mass that includes the blessing of this year's hams), there is not a specific tradition of serving ham at the Basque Easter dinner.

Ask a Basque when ham is consumed and you will be greeted by a puzzled look. Here, ham appears at nearly every meal.

For now, you have to go to Europe to get a true Bayonne ham. But the trip just might be worth it

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A member of the Bayonne ham authority, La Confrerie du Jambon de Bayonne, with a ham on the first day of the 2014 Bayonne ham fair in southern France. (AFP/Getty Images)

Keystone XL Pipeline Review Extended By State Department

by Dana Farrington
Apr 18, 2014

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The State Department is giving federal agencies more time to review the Keystone XL Pipeline project. The additional time was given "based on the uncertainty created" by an ongoing legal battle in Nebraska, according to a State Department statement.

In February, a Nebraska judge struck down a 2012 law that allowed part of the pipeline to run through the state. The pipeline would extend from Canada to the Gulf Coast.

Waiting for a final ruling in Nebraska could push a federal decision on the pipeline past the midterm elections in November, Politico reports. In its release Friday, the State Department did not say how much more time it would give agencies.

The State Department is also reviewing roughly 2.5 million public comments on the matter, NPR's Jackie Northam tells our Newscast.

As It's All Politics has reported, the contested project became even more complicated after the State Department released an environmental assessment in January. The agency found that Canada's production of tar sands crude was unlikely to be affected by the pipeline.

Nebraskans are split over the issue, The Associated Press reported in March, particularly as some landowners have already reached financial settlements with the pipeline company.

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The Costa Concordia ran aground off the Italian coast in 2012, killing 32 people. Its captain was accused of manslaughter and abandoning the 4,200 passengers and crew on the night of the wreck. (AFP/Getty Images)

Captains Uncourageous: Abandoning Ship Long Seen As A Crime

Apr 18, 2014

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Family members of passengers on a South Korean ferry that sank look at lists of survivors on Wednesday. While the judges deliberate, a band keeps the crowd entertained.

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Cowardice comes in many forms, but there's a special sense of shame reserved for captains who abandon ship.

South Korean prosecutors have arrested Capt. Lee joon-Seok, who was one of the first to flee from the ferry as it sank on Wednesday.

"I can't lift my face before the passengers and family members of those missing," Lee told reporters.

The incident came two years after Francesco Schettino, the captain of the wrecked cruise ship Costa Concordia, was charged with manslaughter and abandoning ship — charges he denies. The ship ran aground off the Italian coast in 2012, killing 32 people.

Has the old idea that captains should not abandon ship itself been abandoned?

"I'm kind of flummoxed that a master of a passenger ship anywhere in the world would not understand his obligation extends until that last person is safely off the ship," says Craig Allen, director of the Arctic Law & Policy Institute at the University of Washington.

The Victorian notion that a captain should actually go down with the ship has become archaic. But his or her responsibility extends to executing the evacuation plan that all passenger ships are required to have and practice.

"It comes from the tradition that the captain has ultimate responsibility and should put the care of others ahead of his own well-being in the discharge of his duties," says David Winkler, program director with the Naval Historical Foundation.

Women And Children First

In the middle of the 19th century, there were a number of incidents in which ships foundered and captains and their crews were either celebrated for leading the rescue or reviled for saving themselves while passengers drowned.

One of the most famous involved the HMS Birkenhead, which wrecked off the coast of South Africa in 1852 while transporting British troops to war.

"The captain called the men to attention," says William Fowler, a maritime historian at Northeastern University. "They were to stand at attention on the sinking ship until the women and children — their wives and children — were led off the boats."

The moment was immortalized by Rudyard Kipling as the "Birkenhead drill." Reinforced when Capt. Edward Smith went down with the Titanic, the notion that a captain must stay with his ship became part of folklore.

"A lot of this is candidly still more lore than law," says Miller Shealy, a maritime law professor at the Charleston School of Law.

A Breach Of Duty

In the U.S., case law indicates that a ship's master must be the last person to leave and make all reasonable efforts to save everyone and everything on it.

"It is not just unseemly for a captain to leave a ship," Shealy says. "In Anglo-American law, you would lose your license and make yourself liable."

After Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger crash-landed a flight in the Hudson River in 2009, he twice walked the plane to make sure no one was left onboard before leaving himself.

International standards for sea captains vary. Often, as in the case of Schettino, charges are brought based not on dereliction of maritime duty but for offenses that might pertain on land as well, such as negligence and manslaughter.

In 1991, Capt. Yiannis Avranas not only abandoned the Greek cruise ship Oceanos after it suffered an explosion off the coast of South Africa but cut ahead of an elderly passenger to be hoisted aloft by a helicopter.

"If the master is simply looking out for himself or herself, you've breached your duty both legally and morally, to your ship, your crew and your passengers," says Allen, the University of Washington law professor.

Part Of The Culture

In last year's Star Trek Into Darkness, the bad guy taunts Captain Kirk by saying, "No ship should go down without her captain."

The image of a captain staying with a sinking vessel has recurred again and again, in literature and real life. It remains so potent because of the almost mythic authority invested in ship captains, Allen suggests.

At sea, there's no question about who's in charge, so there's no doubt who is responsible for safety.

"His duty as the highest authority available short of God himself was to make sure his crew was safe before he left the ship," says Craig Symonds, a retired Naval Academy historian.

The sense that captains are beyond the law — that they are the law, or at least they were, during the age of sail — is why they make such great bad guys.

"When they go bad, they're evil," Shealy says.

Think of Bligh, or Queeg, or the autocratic captains who drive many of the novels and stories of Herman Melville.

In Moby-Dick, Captain Ahab sets off to hunt the whale, leaving the capable Starbuck in charge. When his "death-glorious ship" sinks, Ahab mourns that he's been denied the "pride" of having gone down with her.

"Ahab is a great example in the sense that he knows a captain should go down with his ship," says Wyn Kelley, a Melville scholar at MIT. "He deeply regrets not being with his crew."

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Cover to Modern American Music ... Period! The Criteria Sessions (Omnivore Recordings)

Why Metallica's Bassist Is Producing A Jazz Documentary

by Adam Ragusea
Apr 18, 2014 (Georgia Public Broadcasting)

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The late virtuoso bassist Jaco Pastorius enjoyed only a relatively brief career, but was influential to musicians across genres. Robert Trujillo of Metallica is funding a Jaco Pastorius documentary and a new archival album.

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It seems an unlikely match.

In one corner, you have Metallica's Robert Trujillo. The most popular heavy metal bassist alive, he prowls beast-like across arena stages, rumbling guts with the low B on the 5-string instrument he slings to one side like a battle ax.

In the other, there's the cult favorite fretless player Jaco Pastorius. Physically slight, manic depressive and dead almost 30 years, his long fingers danced and darted across the instrument's neck on his self-titled 1976 debut — regarded as one of the best jazz bass albums ever.

The two never spoke. Yet Pastorius has posthumously become Trujillo's partner in business and music.

A lifelong fan, Trujillo has spent much of his time since Metallica's last album cycle shepherding and personally bankrolling new Pastorius projects. A documentary film, simply titled Jaco, is slated for release in November. And an album of never-before released Pastorius material, Modern American Music . . . Period! The Criteria Session, comes out Saturday on Omnivore Recordings. Both the movie and the album are official releases of Record Store Day this weekend.

The Criteria Session release came unexpectedly from a lunch meeting Trujillo had with Pastorius' eldest son Johnny, Record Store Day co-founder Michael Kurtz and Omnivore Recordings co-founder Cheryl Pawelski.

"We're talking about, 'Oh, you know, it'd be great if there was some music that could be released,'" Trujillo says. "And Johnny says, 'Oh yeah, you know, we got the original acetate from the Criteria sessions.' And it was like, what?"

The sessions at Miami's Criteria Studio generated Pastorius' 1974 demo recordings for his legendary debut. Many of his signature phrases and techniques can be heard coalescing into compositions. Some of those compositions have become standard repertoire among elite electric bass players of all styles. He was only 22 years old at the time.

"It's Jaco, just full of fire and with amazing creative spirit," Trujillo says. "It's amazing that someone could play with that precision and that feel, ranging from the funk to the dynamic melodic voice that he had through his instrument, at a young age."

Trujillo, who will turn 50 this year, says his love of Pastorius shouldn't come as a surprise. He studied jazz at the Dick Grove School of Music in Los Angeles in the mid-1980s before going on to play with his punk-influenced bands Infectious Grooves and Suicidal Tendencies — "always driven by the funk, though," he adds.

And Pastorius is often referred to as "the punk of jazz," Trujillo says. "If Slayer is playing somewhere, and the time is right, I think Jaco would have been the first one to jump in the slam pit."

Pastorius' career plunged into decline over the last few years of his life, marred by substance abuse, mental illness and estrangement from his family. He fell into a coma and died following an altercation with a bouncer at a Miami-area club in 1987.

Johnny Pastorius, the bassist's son, says his family is delighted by Trujillo's advocacy.

"For us to have him as the flag-bearer and the spokesman for anything new with our father is ... I mean, you couldn't ever ask for anything more," Pastorius says. "Robert and my father, I think, had a destiny to meet in the end."

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