Desegregation, U.S.-style: Faced with unprecedented racial and ethnic divisions, education officials in Amsterdam have turned to the U.S. for advice on desegregating schools. “Segregation is a big issue here, and it is getting worse,” said education policymaker Petra Coffeng. Nearly a third of Amsterdam residents have non-Western backgrounds, and they are increasingly concentrated in minority neighborhoods. Officials are particularly keen on a pilot program, based on a model used in Boston, Seattle, and Little Rock, Ark., in which parents rank their top four school choices. Then classroom seats are distributed based on a combination of preference and demographic mix. But the very notion of mandated integration is foreign in the Netherlands, and policymakers are treading lightly. “We can not force it on people,” said Coffeng, “but I think it is going to happen.”
A Nazi’s friends: An Austrian politician caused a stir last week when he praised an indicted Nazi war-crimes suspect as a “treasured” neighbor. Milivoj Asner, 95, is ranked fourth on the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s most-wanted list, for allegedly sending hundreds of Serbs, Gypsies, and Jews to a death camp in his native Croatia. Austrian officials have said Asner is too ill to stand trial in Croatia, where he was indicted for war crimes. But critics raised new doubts about the health claims when he showed up at a soccer match looking fit. Then, when asked about his past, Asner replied, “My conscience is clear.” After far-right political leader Joerg Haider offered warm words about Asner in a newspaper interview, Nazi hunters expressed their outrage. “This could only happen in Austria,” said the Wiesenthal Center’s Efraim Zuroff.