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Crime & Litigation



Public artwork vandalized, stolen in Midland, Mich.

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Written by Associated Press   
Wednesday, 25 June 2014 09:06
Midland County Courthouse in downtown, Midland, Mich. Built in 1925, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Image by Calvin Beale, courtesy of Wikimedia, Commons.

MIDLAND, Mich. (AP) – Officials say some artwork on display in downtown Midland as part of an annual sculpture series has been vandalized.

The Midland Daily News reports police are seeking tips after damage to the works for the 2014 Pondering Downtown Summer Sculpture Series.

Surveillance images also are expected to help police.

A piece called Below the Surface, showing a sailboat on water, was vandalized June 17 to 18. The sailboat was torn from its base. Meanwhile, a portion of a sculpture called Loon Magic on Golden Pond featuring mother and baby loons was stolen between Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon.

The city's Community Affairs Director Selina Tisdale says it's “disappointing that a few senseless acts can ruin a fun community event for everyone.”

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Information from: Midland Daily News, http://www.ourmidland.com

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-06-24-14 1129GMT



ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE
Midland County Courthouse in downtown, Midland, Mich. Built in 1925, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Image by Calvin Beale, courtesy of Wikimedia, Commons.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 June 2014 09:21
 

Redwood poaching spreads to national forests of Ore., northern Calif.

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Written by Associated Press   
Monday, 23 June 2014 15:14

Redwood with a large burl in Humboldt Redwoods State Park south of Eureka, California. The park contains the Rockefeller Forest, the world's largest remaining contiguous old-growth forest of coastal redwoods. Photo by WolfmanSF, Creative Commons by ShareAlike 3.0 License.

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — The poaching of knobby growths on ancient redwood trees has spread to national forests in northern California and Oregon.

The growths, known as burls, appear at the base of redwood trees, where they send out sprouts. Their intricate grain is prized for furniture and decorations.

The poaching has been a problem in northern California's Redwood National and State Parks for years. Two men recently were convicted in a case there after rangers tracked slabs cut from a tree by chain saw to a redwood burl shop.

Wendell Wood of the conservation group Oregon Wild says he was out hiking recently and found two redwood trees with burls cut off.

One was along the South Fork of the Smith River on the Six Rivers National Forest near Crescent City, California. The other was along the Winchuck River on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest near Brookings, Oregon, in a stand that represents the northernmost reach of coast redwoods.

"I just casually stumbled into them," Wood said.

Each scar was about 2 feet square or less, he said. At the Oregon site, the poachers cut down nearby trees so they could turn their vehicle around on the narrow road.

Oregon Wild wants the forests to close old logging roads that poachers drive to reach the remote trees. Besides protecting the trees, it would stop people from dumping garbage on the roads, which are barely passable, even by four-wheel-drive vehicles, Wood said.

He noted that with few rangers to patrol for poachers, the National Park Service imposed a nighttime closure on a road running by the most recent poaching discovery on the park.

"We are not telling the Forest Service how they should best protect it," Wood said. "But we want them to recognize that the national park is clamping down on this and managing their resources more strategically. This problem has moved into Oregon and onto the national forest. So the forest needs to be looking at it."

The U.S. Forest Service had no comment on whether it might close roads, but said it is investigating.

"We take damage to natural resources on national forest system lands very seriously and are investigating the theft of the burls," regional spokesman Tom Knappenberger said in an email. "This potentially is a felony violation."

A redwood tree can survive a burl being cut off, but the legacy of an organism that could be 1,000 years old is threatened, because the burl is where it sprouts a clone before dying. Sprouting from burls is the prevalent method of redwood propagation.

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ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE

Redwood with a large burl in Humboldt Redwoods State Park south of Eureka, California. The park contains the Rockefeller Forest, the world's largest remaining contiguous old-growth forest of coastal redwoods. Photo by WolfmanSF, Creative Commons by ShareAlike 3.0 License.

Last Updated on Monday, 23 June 2014 15:53
 

US trade officials: Poached wildlife may be financing terrorism

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Written by VERENA DOBNIK, Associated Press   
Thursday, 19 June 2014 09:07

Despite the global embargo on elephant ivory that has been in place since 1990, the rate of elephant slaughter for tusks is at the highest point in a decade. In this picture, three female African bush elephants travel as a small herd in Tanzania. Photo by Ikiwaner, taken July 29, 2010, licensed under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2.

NEW YORK (AP) – The U.S. government is stepping up its crackdown on the illegal trafficking of wild animal products across the nation's borders, saying some may be linked to terrorists, federal officials said Monday.

“Poaching in Africa is funding terrorist groups,” U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman told a news conference at Kennedy International Airport.

He said such illegal trade is a threat to global security because it's driven by criminal elements, including terrorists using profits from items such as rhinoceros horns and elephant tusks to finance their activities.

On display in an airport cargo warehouse operated by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection was a collection of wildlife products seized at Kennedy – from ivory disguised to look like a wooden statue and the stuffed heads of a lion and leopard to handicrafts, artworks and musical instruments hiding animal parts.

The single priciest item was a rhino horn. It fetches $30,000 per pound – or about 30 percent more than its weight in gold.

Paul Chapelle, the agent in charge of New York for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said one horn case resulted in 16 arrests, including that of a mobster from Ireland now serving 13 months behind bars.

A dead elephant is worth about $18,000 – mostly from the tusk. Also seized was a small rhino horn libation cup worth tens of thousands of dollars.

Kennedy handles the largest cargo volume of any U.S. airport, about $100 billion a year, said Patrick Foye, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the airport.

And the wildlife element plays an especially powerful role in national security, said Froman, the chief U.S. trade negotiator and adviser to President Barack Obama.

More than 20,000 elephants were killed last year along with about 1,000 rhinos, meeting a rising world demand resulting in declining populations across Africa, according to officials with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

This treaty was signed by more than 170 countries to protect animals that end up as contraband including live pets, hunting trophies, fashion accessories, cultural artifacts and medicinal ingredients.

U.S. trade officials believe that groups benefiting from the poaching include the militant Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda and South Sudan, the Janjaweed comprised of Sudanese Arab tribes, and al-Shabab, a jihadist group based in Somalia.

In February, Obama approved a new strategy for fighting trafficking through enforcement, as well as partnerships with other countries, communities and private industry. For the first time, U.S. officials are asking trading partners to agree to conservation measures for wildlife and the environment in return for signing agreements.

Kennedy customs officials are reaching out to local businesses, plus auction houses like Christie's and Sotheby's and even Carnegie Hall to alert them to illegally traded valuables that may come their way.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-06-16-14 2346GMT



ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE

Despite the global embargo on elephant ivory that has been in place since 1990, the rate of elephant slaughter for tusks is at the highest point in a decade. In this picture, three female African bush elephants travel as a small herd in Tanzania. Photo by Ikiwaner, taken July 29, 2010, licensed under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2.

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 June 2014 09:16
 

Heritage Auctions files suit against Christie's over hirings

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Written by Associated Press   
Monday, 16 June 2014 10:14
Heritage Auctions sold this Hermes Birkin bag in April for $13,500. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com archive and Heritage Auctions.

NEW YORK (AP) – One elite auction house is suing another for hiring away members of its staff, including an expert on high-end French handbags.

Dallas-based Heritage Auctions sued Christie's International for $40 million on Friday.

The suit was filed in Manhattan Supreme Court. It charges that the more famous Christie's persuaded Hermes handbag expert Matthew Rubinger and two associates to break their contracts with Heritage.

A Christie's spokeswoman said the suit was “without merit.”

The suit offers a peak at the rarefied world of Manhattan auction houses like Christie's and Sotheby's.

Both auction houses have been branching out from just moving art and have had a new focus on luxury accessories.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-06-14-14 2025GMT



ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE
Heritage Auctions sold this Hermes Birkin bag in April for $13,500. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com archive and Heritage Auctions.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 June 2014 08:08
 

Germany awards Jewish family $68M for lost assets

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Written by Associated Press   
Friday, 13 June 2014 09:55
The former Schocken department store in Chemnitz, Germany. Designed by architect Erich Mendelsohn in 1930, it is considered a milestone in modern architecture. Image by Shaqspeare. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license. BERLIN (AP) – A Berlin court has ordered Germany to pay the heirs of Jewish owners of a department store chain an additional 50 million euros ($68 million) in compensation for property seized by the Nazis.

The Berlin administrative court said Thursday that the Schocken family lost its chain of stores, primarily in Saxony, during the Nazis' so-called "Aryanization" of businesses in the 1930s.

The family was paid about 15 million euros for one building in the 1990s, but said the others were undervalued. In the ruling, the court ordered the heirs, who live in Israel and the U.S., receive an additional 50 million euros.

The best-known building involved was built in the eastern city of Chemnitz by architect Erich Mendelsohn in 1930. It now houses the State Museum of Archaeology.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-06-12-14 1400GMT



ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE
The former Schocken department store in Chemnitz, Germany. Designed by architect Erich Mendelsohn in 1930, it is considered a milestone in modern architecture. Image by Shaqspeare. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license.
Last Updated on Friday, 13 June 2014 10:22
 
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