Nazi stolen art found in Germany: A collection of 1,500 works of art by famous painters such as Picasso, Matisse and Chagall has been found in the city of Munich, according to German media. The value of the works is thought to be $1.35bn.
4 November 2013
The collection of works the Nazis stole from Jews was consigned to a dealer to be sold before the war. But the paintings then vanished; presumed destroyed.
The works consist of what the Nazis deemed ‘degenerate art’, that is, modern art. It now transpires that two years ago the authorities discovered this amazing and priceless collection in darkened rooms at the home of a reclusive relative of the pre-war dealer.
It seems the relative had been selling paintings occasionally when he needed money. One work by the German expressionist Max Beckman was sold two years ago for more than three quarters of a million Euros ($1m).
The authorities have kept quiet, partly because ownership would be disputed. A mountain of litigation is no doubt on the way.
Eleven new Alzheimer’s ‘risk genes’ : Scientists have identified 11 new genes linked to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. The discovery was brought about by the largest study into the disease, and has used information gathered from more than 50,000 people across 15 different countries.
1 November 2013
Alzheimer’s disease is a growing burden around the world. Yet basic questions such as what causes it or how to diagnose it remain unanswered. A global team of scientists searched through the DNA of more than 50,000 people in the hunt for clues. The study, published in Nature Genetics, identified 11 new genes on top of the ten already discovered. All can increase the chances of developing the dementia.
One of the lead scientists, Professor Julie Williams from Cardiff University, said working out the genes’ role in Alzheimer’s could lead to treatments. “It’s not, you know, 21 different theories about Alzheimer’s. They are forming patterns so we can look at a few different processes and try and understand those and then produce treatments from there.”
Those patterns centre on the immune system, how the body deals with cholesterol and how cells in the brain transport material. But this is the first step. Further studies are now needed to identify precisely what is going wrong and to begin the slow process of converting the findings into treatments.
Activists go on trial in China: The trial has begun in China of three activists who were campaigning for government officials to reveal how wealthy they are. The case is being watched closely as a sign President Xi Jinping’s administration appears to be more rigorous than his predecessor against political activists.
28 October 2013
Lines of police blocked roads in the grimy eastern city of Xinyu as the three activists were brought to court. Liu Ping, Wei Zhongping and Li Sihua were unknown outside their hometown before now.
But their trial is being seen as highly significant. Their crime: to gather a dozen, mostly elderly, people in the courtyard of their apartment block last April, and unfurl a banner, calling on President Xi Jinping to make Chinese officials publicly disclose their wealth. They’re charged with illegal assembly.
Since he took over the leadership of the Communist Party a year ago, President Xi’s government has launched its own anti-corruption drive. But Mr Xi has also overseen the broadest crackdown China has seen in recent years. Dozens of campaigners and lawyers have been detained, many linked to a loose group called the New Citizens’ Movement that’s been calling for greater civil and political rights for ordinary Chinese.
President Xi appears to be taking a tougher line even than his predecessors on any who publicly challenge the authority of the Communist Party.
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