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Austrian report Austrian report
by Euro Reporter
2012-11-02 09:13:35
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Rat poison terror alert

Anti-terror police are investigating whether nine tonnes of rat poison stolen together with an Austrian firm's lorry might be used to make explosives. RDX is not only one of the main explosives in torpedoes, rockets, and bomb warheads and also in use in very specialized detonators, blasting caps, and demolition charges - but is also used as a rat poison.

An Austrian firm had been conned into transporting the poison after getting a request from a Ukrainian company that wanted it collected in Italy. But the logistics company from Kufstein, Tirol, lost contact with the load shortly after the rat poison was collected in Italy on 25 October. The company said the intention was for the load to be delivered to France. Shortly after the vehicle was loaded, it was no longer possible to reach the Ukranian company or the lorry driver.

It is believed the driver was organised by the Ukrainian company. The company said they negotiated 30,000 transportations per year and had never experienced anything like this. The company has suffered losses amounting to roughly 25,000 Euros from the missing a lorry.


Austria probes gruesome fate of Nazi-era disabled

Forensic crews scraping away dirt from the remains of the Nazi-era psychiatric patients were puzzled: The skeletal fingers were entwined in rosary beads. Why, the experts wondered, would the Nazis — who considered these people less than human — respect them enough to let them take their religious symbols to their graves? It turns out they didn't. A year after the first of 221 sets of remains were exhumed at a former Austrian hospital cemetery, investigators now believe the beads were likely nothing more than a cynical smokescreen, placed to mislead relatives attending the burials into thinking that the last stage of their loved ones' lives was as dignified as their funerals. But skeletons don't lie. Forensic work shows that more than half of the victims had broken ribs and other bone fractures from blows likely dealt by hospital personnel. Many died from illnesses such as pneumonia, apparently caused by a combination of physical injuries, a lack of food and being immobilized for weeks at a time.

Neither do medical records, which show that medical personnel cursed their patients as "imbeciles," ''idiots" and "useless eaters." Indeed, there is now little doubts that for many of the dead — mentally and physically disabled people considered by the Nazis to be human garbage — their final months were hell on Earth. Nazi extermination of the mentally and physically deficient has been documented since the end of World War II. But information gathered from the hospital cemetery in Hall, an ancient Tyrolean town of narrow, cobble-stoned alleys, cosy inns and graceful church spires east of Innsbruck, has filled out the picture in chilling new ways. Historians, anthropologists, physicians and archaeologists say the Hall project represents the first time that investigators can match hospital records with remains, allowing them to identify, for example, cases in which patients had broken ribs, noses and collarbones that were not listed in their medical histories, suggesting that the patients had been beaten by those responsible for their care. Faced with the horrors of the findings, those involved in the probe struggle to maintain the detached attitude of an investigator.

"At first, I sat here and worked through these documents in a relatively dry manner from the point of view of a scientist," psychiatrist Christian Haring said. "But as you read on at some point, you suddenly find yourself in a world where the goose-bumps appear." Anthropologist George McGlynn said more than half of the sets of remains have broken bones, many of them unexplained in the patients' medical records. "Why is a stubbed toe talked about in three different (documents), but six rib fractures that cause terrible pain isn't even mentioned?" he asked. While such injuries did not kill directly, they may often have led to death. Many of the patients are listed as dying of pneumonia, and McGlynn said the "scary conclusion" is that rib injuries combined with sedation and forced immobility — patients are suspected to have been strapped to their beds for weeks at a time — may have generated fatal incidences of the disease. "Nobody is being executed here, like you see in concentration camps," he said. "It was done in a more sinister, insidious way — people are loaded up with drugs until they get a lung infection." Forensic examination of the bones shows infection that started at the skin level then "goes right into the muscle and all the way to the bone," McGlynn said. Others apparently starved — if not to death, then to the point where they were susceptible to diseases that then killed them. "We can assume that the patients suffered massively from hunger," said Haring, the psychiatrist, speaking of "enormous" losses in weight. The Nazis called people deemed too sick, weak or disabled to fit Hitler's image of a master race "unworthy lives," in the terrible culmination of the cult of eugenics that gained international popularity in the early 1900s as a way to improve the "racial quality" of future generations. "Patients, who on the basis of human judgment are considered incurable, can be granted mercy death after a discerning diagnosis," Hitler wrote in a 1939 decree that opened the flood gates to the mass killings.


Austrian bishops, in pastoral letter, suggest limits of dissent

Responding to pressure from Rome, the bishops of Austria have released a lengthy pastoral letter calling for unity in the Church. The bishops’ 15-page letter, entitled Jahr des Glaubens (“Year of Faith”), is largely a response to the demands for radical reforms put forward by the Austrian Priests’ Initiative, a dissident group that has challenged Church authority in a public “Call to Disobedience.” In the pastoral, the Austrian bishops say that they understand the calls for reform, but warn that radical changes would fracture the unity of the universal Church, and they as bishops are “bound to preserve and promote that unity.”

In an interview with John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter Austria’s leading Catholic prelate, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna, said that the proposals of the Priests’ Initiative “fall short” of the goal of reviving Catholicism and enabling the Church to respond to the challenges of contemporary society. “For example,” he says, “the whole question of secularization doesn’t appear in their proposals, and that’s astonishing to me.”  Nevertheless, Cardinal Schönborn says, the Austrian bishops plan to continue their dialogue with dissident priests: In our dialogue with the Roman Curia, which is going very well and is very cordial, that’s been upheld, especially in light of what the Holy Father said in his Holy Thursday homily. He said there is only one possibility, which is to go forward together.

“Of course, there have to be limits,” the cardinal adds. He notes that the bishops of Austria have agreed that “you can’t call for disobedience and also hold a major diocesan job.”

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