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U.S. deports accused Nazi collaborator as hunt continues for last surviving WWII fugitives

A closer look at the day's most notable stories with The National's Jonathon Gatehouse: U.S. deports accused WWII Nazi collaborator; WHO warns of measles outbreak in Europe; Berlin railway station weaponizes atonal classical music to drive off loiterers

Newsletter: A closer look at the day's most notable stories

Jakiw Palij, a 95-year old New York City man believed to be a former guard at a labour camp in Nazi-occupied Poland, is pictured in a 1949 visa photo. Palij was sent to Germany Monday night, nearly a decade and a half after a judge ordered his deportation. (U.S. Department of Justice via Reuters)

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  • U.S. immigration officers deport accused 95-year-old Nazi collaborator Jakiw Palij to Germany as hunt continues for dwindling list of WWII war-crimes suspects
  • Measles cases in Europe have hit a modern high, warns the World Health Organization
  • Berlin railway station goes to war with local drug users, and atonal classical music is its weapon
  • Missed The National last night? Watch it here

Tracking Nazis

American immigration officers have deported an accused 95-year-old Nazi collaborator to Germany, and Donald Trump is claiming it as a personal victory.

Polish-born Jakiw Palij arrived in the United States in 1949 and obtained his U.S. citizenship in 1957. But a judge revoked his passport and ordered him deported in 2004, because he had lied about his war-time activities.

The U.S. Justice Department says that Palij admitted to having entered an SS training unit in occupied Poland in 1943, and then serving as a guard at the Trawniki Labor Camp. On Nov. 3, 1943, approximately 6,000 Jewish men, women and children were shot to death at the camp in one of the largest "liquidations" of the Holocaust.

In this frame from a video, Jakiw Palij, said to be a former Nazi concentration camp guard, is carried on a stretcher from his home into a waiting ambulance in the Queens borough of New York on Monday. (ABC via AP)
Palij acknowledged being conscripted by the Nazis, but denies having taken part in atrocities, saying he spent most of the war guarding roads and bridges.

It took 14 years to remove him from the U.S. because Germany had long maintained that it wasn't able to accept him since he was never a citizen.

But the Trump administration redoubled efforts to rid America of one of its last accused World War II Nazis, and Germany changed its position. Although it's still unclear if Palij will face charges.

"President Trump commends his Administration's comprehensive actions, especially ICE's actions, in removing this war criminal from United States soil," reads the White House press statement. "Palij's removal sends a strong message: The United States will not tolerate those who facilitated Nazi crimes and other human rights violations, and they will not find a safe haven on American soil."

This 1942 photo provided by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum shows Heinrich Himmler, centre left, shaking hands with new guard recruits at the Trawniki concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland. Trawniki is the same camp where Jakiw Palij trained and served as a guard. (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum via AP)
News footage showed the frail and toothless Palij being taken from his Queens, New York, home yesterday in a wheelchair and loaded into a waiting van. He did not answer reporters' questions.

It is estimated that more than 10,000 Nazi war criminals found new homes in the United States in the years after the war. Just 137 of them have been subject to legal proceedings, and only 67 were ultimately deported or left voluntarily.

Palij was the last accused Nazi facing an active deportation order, but in March, U.S. authorities began the process of trying to extradite Michael Karkoc, a 99-year-old Minnesota man. The Ukrainian-born Karkoc is accused of having been the commander of a SS-led unit that burned Polish villages and massacred civilians during the war. He and his family deny the charges.

In this May 22, 1990 photo, Michael Karkoc is seen in Lauderdale, Minn. The retired carpenter is accused of being a former commander in a Nazi SS-led unit, an allegation he denies. (Chris Polydoroff/AP)
Earlier this summer, German prosecutors announced a renewed push to find and try the last remaining members of the Einsatzgruppen, mobile Nazi death squads that were responsible for the murders of more than 1 million civilians. But with the youngest surviving Nazis now in their 90s, time is running out.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center's Operation Last Chance, which focuses on the dwindling Nazi ranks, notes that there have been just six convictions of World War II criminals since 2013, and approximately 50 new investigations opened. Their list of "possible prosecutions" for 2018 had just six names, including Palij and a Canadian resident, Helmut Oberlander.

The federal government is now in the midst of its fourth attempt to strip Oberlander, a 94-year-old Waterloo pensioner, of his Canadian citizenship.

Helmut Oberlander has said he was forcibly conscripted by the Nazis when he was 17 years old. (CIJA)
Oberlander, an ethnic German who was raised in Ukraine, served as an interpreter for an SS-led death squad that massacred more than 20,000 people between 1941 and 1943. He has denied that he personally participated in the crimes, and prosecutors have failed to produce any evidence to the contrary.

Via an Access to Information request, the Waterloo Record determined that Ottawa has spent more than $2.1 million on the case since 1995.

A decision on the fourth attempt to revoke Oberlander's citizenship is pending.

Measles outbreak

Measles cases in Europe have hit a modern high, warns the World Health Organization, as major outbreaks in Ukraine and Serbia spread across the continent.

Over the first six months of 2018, there were more than 41,000 recorded cases of the highly contagious illness in Europe, and 37 deaths. That's almost double the 23,927 cases reported in 2017, previously the worst post-vaccination year on record.

Ukraine has been responsible for the most cases — 23,000 — so far this year. It's followed by Serbia, which recorded 5,718 cases and 14 deaths between last October and this August.

The WHO says the outbreak of measles in Europe is linked to a rise in the number of people opting not to get vaccinated. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)
Five other countries — France, Georgia, Greece, Italy and Russia — have reported at least 1,000 measles cases each.

The WHO blames anti-vaxxers for the uptick in the disease, which gives most people a rash and flu-like symptoms, but can cause potentially deadly complications such as encephalitis, pneumonia and hepatitis.

Now-discredited research published in a British medical journal 20 years ago suggested a possible link between the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) Vaccine and autism in children. The article was retracted and declared "utterly false" in 2010, but its repercussions continue to be felt as some people avoid getting immunized.

In March, a Serbian prosecutor started an investigation into more than 40 high-profile public figures, including writers, doctors and a famous folk singer, who had been speaking out against the MMR vaccine. The country previously had an immunization rate of greater than 95 per cent, but it has dipped dramatically since parents were granted the ability to opt out of the MMR shot.

In Italy, the surge in measles has been tied to the rise of political populist movements like Five Star and the League, which now form the government. Earlier this month, the country's upper house rescinded a law that made 10 vaccinations mandatory before children started school. It had been passed only last March, following 5,000 measles cases and four deaths last year.

European nations recorded just 5,273 measles cases in 2016, their lowest-ever number.

This image from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows an electron microscope view of a measles virus particle. (The Associated Press)
So far, there are no indications that the disease is picking up strength in North America.

A mid-August report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control catalogued 107 cases across 21 states since the beginning of 2018, mostly contracted via foreign travel.

Health Canada's most recent weekly surveillance report listed no active cases, and a total of 19 reported this year.

Vaccination programs are credited for an 84 per cent drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2016 worldwide, according to the WHO, but measles still infects more than 20 million people worldwide each year and remains a leading cause of death among young children. In 2016, the WHO reported 89,780 deaths internationally due to the disease — the first year the fatalities have ever fallen below 100,000.

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Junkies face the music

A Berlin railway station is going to war with local drug addicts, using atonal classical music as a weapon.

The Hermannstrasse station in the central Neukölln district is a busy transit hub that also attracts junkies looking for a sheltered spot to shoot up.

So Germany's national rail service, Deutsche Bahn, has decided to pump classical music into the station concourse in an effort to make it a less pleasant place to hang out. And more specifically, the atonal works of early 20th century composers such as Arnold Schoenberg and Alban Berg.

Classical music has a soothing reputation, but increasingly it's being used as a weapon to drive loiterers away from locations ranging from transit stations and parks to store parking lots. (Morteza Nikoubazl/Reuters)
"Few people find it beautiful — many people perceive it as something to run away from," Friedemann Kessler, a railway executive, explained to Berlin's Tagesspiegel newspaper.

(So much so, that the music won't be played where passengers wait for trains, for fear of offending the paying customers.)

Playing classical music to drive away loiterers isn't a new idea. It has been tried in places ranging from bus stations in New York City, to city parks in Anchorage, Alaska.

Municipalities across the United Kingdom are particularly keen proponents of what is sometimes referred to as the "weaponization" of symphonic works. For example, the railway station in Tyne and Wear in the north of England clears out teens by blasting Shostakovich and Rachmaninoff.

It was Canada that apparently pioneered the idea of soothing sonic assaults.

In her 2012 book Music in American Crime Prevention and Punishment, Lily Hirsch traces the practice to a group of 7-Eleven stores in British Columbia that were looking for a way to disperse kids from their parking lots back in 1985. It worked so well that corporate HQ exported the technique to its U.S. outlets. The company continues to aggressively deploy classical music even today, as in this story about an Edmonton store that is hoping to get panhandlers to "Bach" off.

A group of 7-Eleven stores in British Columbia is said to have pioneered the idea of using classical music to disperse kids from their parking lots in 1985. (Tim Boyle/Getty Images)
Other fed-up locales have turned to a commercially available device called The Mosquito, which emits an annoying high-frequency buzz that only 13-to-25-year-olds can hear. There's also a version called the Music Mosquito that combines both the buggy hum and classical tunes.

Atonal music, however, might work even better.

Scientific studies suggest that such compositions are intrinsically annoying, since the human brain equates structure and patterns with musical enjoyment.

Assuming, of course, that the people you are targeting aren't listening to something else in their headphones.

A few words on …

Drake's mysterious cancellations of a hometown gig.

Quote of the moment

"In today's global society, social media is an inevitable part of our children's daily lives. It can be used in many positive ways, but can also be destructive and harmful when used incorrectly."

- U.S. First Lady Melania Trump gives a speech stressing the need for "safe online habits" on a day when her husband was busy lashing out in all directions on Twitter.

U.S. first lady Melania Trump delivers remarks at the Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention (FPBP) Cyberbullying Prevention Summit in Rockville, Maryland, on Monday. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

What The National is reading

  • Air Canada strikes deal to buy Aeroplan (CBC)
  • Microsoft halts Russian political hack (BBC)
  • A Parkland survivor returns to the hospital that saved her (NY Times)
  • Montreal calls for ban on private handguns, assault weapons (CBC)
  • Image conscious China appoints new global propaganda czar (Japan Times)
  • Iran unveils new fighter jet with Washington in mind (Fox News)
  • Is Duterte dying? (Asia Times)
  • Usain Bolt starts chasing his soccer dream (AFP)

Today in history

Aug. 21, 1967: Bob Cole explains how to pronounce Newfoundland

Live television has its charms. Like these two-and-a-half minutes of Elwood Glover and the future voice of Hockey Night in Canada making chit chat during a broadcast from the CNE. Cole, then a not-so-youthful 34-year-old, was stuck in Toronto for the summer and wistful about missing salmon season. And he's not having any of Glover's mangling of his home province's name. It's Newfoundland, he instructs, emphasis on the third syllable.

Bob Cole explains how to pronounce Newfoundland

3 years ago
Duration 2:48
The broadcaster from St. John's talks to Toronto's Elwood Glover on the set of a CNE edition of Luncheon Date in 1967.

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Jonathon Gatehouse

CBC Investigative Journalist

Jonathon Gatehouse has covered news and politics at home and abroad, reporting from dozens of countries. He has also written extensively about sports, covering seven Olympic Games and authoring a best-selling book on the business of pro-hockey. He works for the national investigative unit in Toronto.