English News Archive

News between February 25th and March 1st 1999, reversely ordered by date (i.e.: the newest can be found on top). For other News look into our News Archive.


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March 01

February 27

February 25


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Israel Honors Holocaust Hero

By Mark Lavie
Associated Press Writer
Thursday, February 25, 1999; 11:08 p.m. EST

JERUSALEM (AP) -- Frank Foley, a British diplomat who defied the Nazis and saved thousands of Jews from death, was honored Thursday by the Israeli Holocaust Memorial after a public request from a prominent British Jew.

Foley, a former MI6 agent, was the head of the passport and visa section at the British embassy in Berlin in the 1930s, when Hitler rose to power in Germany.

Disregarding British government regulations, he issued visas to thousands of Jews, allowing them to escape from Germany before Hitler's forces could send them to death camps.

Yad Vashem, the national Holocaust memorial, awarded Foley the title of ``Righteous Among the Nations'' 40 years after his death.

As of Jan. 1, 16,526 people had received the title reserved for non-Jews, according to Yad Vashem spokeswoman Iris Rosenberg. Only 11 were from Great Britain. Most lived in countries on the European continent, risking their lives to shelter and help Jews.

Last month, after the book ``Foley: The Spy who saved 10,000 Jews,'' was released in Britain, Jewish leader Greville Janner called on Israel to officially recognize Foley.

Yad Vashem officials said they knew of Foley's actions for years but could not award him the title because they had no eyewitness reports.

In a statement Thursday, they said that a month ago they received a list of people Foley helped, including Jews he hid in his own home. The list helped them verify details of his activities.

Six million Jews were killed during the Holocaust.

© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press


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Poland Wants Slave Compensation

By Andrzej Stylinski
Associated Press Writer
Thursday, February 25, 1999; 6:20 p.m. EST

WARSAW, Poland (AP) -- Poland wants greater compensation from Germany for Poles forced into slave labor for the Nazis, including those forced to work on farms, an official said Thursday.

Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek's chief of staff, Wieslaw Walendziak, sent a letter Wednesday night to his German counterpart, Bodo Hombach, outlining Poland's position on compensating more than 500,000 Poles forced into slave labor by the Nazis.

Germany agreed in October 1991 to pay former slave laborers and camp prisoners from Poland about $230 each, while many victims from western countries received much higher compensation.

Jacek Turczynski, head of the Polish-German Reconciliation Foundation, said former slave laborers expressed willingness to give up legal action against German companies if a satisfactory agreement is reached soon.

Tens of thousands of Poles are suing or are planning to sue German companies for compensation in German and U.S. courts, officials said.

Twelve of Germany's largest companies pledged last week to set up a fund to pay reparations to slave laborers starting Sept. 1, partly to settle a number of U.S. lawsuits. The fund could total up to $4.6 billion, said Michael Witte, a German lawyer representing slave laborers.

But Poles called on other German companies with roots in the Third Reich to join the fund.

Turczynski estimated that 150,000 German employers benefited from forced labor. More than half of the 3 million Polish slave laborers worked on German farms.

Polish officials estimate that unpaid salaries for Polish slave laborers amounted to $20.9 billion.

Turczynski said Poles expect compensation of about $4,700 for each of the 500,000 surviving slave laborers, many of them aged 80 or older.

In the former Eastern bloc nations, the communist regimes barred individuals from seeking payment. Poland agreed in 1953 not to seek World War II reparations, but began pressing Germany for compensation in the late 1980s.

© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press


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Once Again, AJCongress Calls on Republican National Committee to Expel David Duke From Party
(Last updated 6:16 PM ET February 25)
WASHINGTON, Feb. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- With the campaign to succeed Louisiana Representative Robert Livingston in Congress moving forward, the American Jewish Congress today once again called on the Republican National Committee to expel white supremacist David Duke, a candidate for the seat, from the party.

Besides running for office, Duke has classified himself as "an elected official of the Republican party," in the New Orleans area.

Last month AJCongress called on Republican National Chairman Jim Nicholson to expel Duke, but has not received a response.

In a second letter to Nicholson, AJCongress President Jack Rosen and Executive Director Phil Baum declared that with the campaign in progress, "it is more urgent than ever that the Republican Party does everything in its power to disavow Mr. Duke and the racist and anti-Semitic impulses he brings to his campaign."

The Jewish leaders noted that the Republican National Committee cannot prevent like-minded voters from supporting Duke, but said "it certainly can and should disabuse the voting public of the view that Mr. Duke is part of the Republican leadership. "Failure to do so," they added, "allows the inference that Mr. Duke's views are not incompatible with those of the Republican Party."

To make absolutely clear the party's "rejection of David Duke and all the hateful and repugnant things he stands for," expulsion is necessary, Rosen and Baum said. "If anything, the need for such a clarification is now more urgent than ever."

The full text of the letter is as follows:

Last month the American Jewish Congress wrote to you urging the Republican National Committee to deny to David Duke the privilege of serving as an officer of the Republican Party. To date we have received no response.

Now that Representative Robert Livingston has resigned, and Mr. Duke is actively campaigning to succeed him, it is more urgent than ever that the Republican Party does everything in its power to disavow Mr. Duke and the racist and anti-Semitic impulses he brings to his campaign. The Republican National Committee cannot stop those voters who share Mr. Duke's views from voting for him in the upcoming primary, but it certainly can and should disabuse the voting public of the view that Mr. Duke is a part of the Republican leadership. Failure to do so allows the inference that Mr. Duke's views are not incompatible with those of the Republican Party.

As we said in our earlier letter, "Nothing would make clearer the Republican Party's rejection of David Duke and all the hateful and repugnant things he stands for, than his expulsion from the party." If anything, the need for such a clarification is now more urgent than ever.

We look forward to hearing from you.


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AP Clarifies Council-Citizens Story

Thursday, February 25, 1999; 7:10 p.m. EST

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- An Associated Press story on Feb. 7 said critics of the Council of Conservative Citizens had complained of anti-Semitic postings on the group's Web site. The anti-Jewish e-mails actually appeared in an electronic ``mailroom'' that was accessible through the CCC Web site and open to anyone who wished to write comments. Gordon Baum, chief executive of the St. Louis-based group, said the CCC does not endorse anti-Semitic views. The mailroom has since been shut down because of the volume of postings, Baum said.

© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press


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Painting's Ownership Is Challenged

Thursday, February 25, 1999; 10:48 p.m. EST

BOSTON (AP) -- The Museum of Fine Arts is prepared to return a painting believed to have been taken from Holland by the Nazis, but it's unclear who rightfully owns the work.

The 16th-century Flemish landscape by Herri met de Bles has been in the museum's collection for more than 50 years.

Dutch officials initially claimed ownership in 1948, but the museum sought ``definitive'' evidence of ownership.

Correspondence between the museum and the Dutch government eventually waned but was renewed last year, after an Amsterdam woman claimed ownership of the work.

Christine Koenigs said her grandfather owned the piece until 1940. She filed her claim for it last July.

``We're waiting for indication of who the rightful owner is and then we'll return it,'' museum spokeswoman Dawn Griffin said.

In November, the museum faced a similar dispute over another piece of apparently Nazi-pilfered art.

The museum faced scrutiny after learning a Claude Monet piece on loan from the French government was likely stolen from collector Paul Rosenberg when he fled France as the Nazis overran it during World War II.

The Rosenberg family is pursuing ownership of the Monet.

© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press


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Report: Net Increases Hate Groups

By Ashley Estes
Associated Press Writer
Thursday, February 25, 1999; 5:15 a.m. EST

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- White supremacists are relying on the Internet to find potential recruits, fueling dramatic growth among the nation's hate groups, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

``The Internet is allowing the white supremacy movement to reach places it has never reached before -- middle- and upper-middle class, college-bound teens,'' said Mark Potok, a researcher for the center, which released its 1998 Intelligence Project report this week.

``The movement is terribly interested in developing the leadership cadre of tomorrow,'' he said Wednesday. ``As a rule, they're no longer interested in recruiting street thugs, people to beat up blacks and gays in bars.''

While the number of hate groups in the United States increased to 537 in 1998, up from 474 in 1997 -- about 13 percent -- Internet hate sites increased by 56 percent, from 163 to 254, the center said.

Groups also used tools such as radio broadcasts, periodicals such as WAR, the newspaper of the White Aryan Resistance, and telephone hot lines, the report said.

``The Internet has, in a sense, empowered the white supremacy community,'' Potok said. ``Very often, a `hater' was an isolated person, standing in their living room and shaking their fist at the sky.

``That same person, instead of feeling like an isolated retrograde, wakes up in the morning, turns on the computer and he's got 25 messages,'' Potok said. ``He feels like he is part of a movement that is happening.''

The report counts Klan, neo-Nazi, skinhead, Christian Identity and black separatist groups as hate groups. Included on the list were 33 chapters of the Council of Conservative Citizens, which gained attention last month following reports that Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., was a speaker at one of its functions.

The CCC in the past has denied it is a racist organization. Lott has denied any affiliation with the group.

Florida led the nation in 1998 with 38 hate groups, followed by California with 36 and Texas with 31, the report said. Pennsylvania had 27 s groups, Alabama 25, Michigan 24, North Carolina and Ohio 22 each, and Georgia 20.

``Typically, hate groups go down when the economy is doing well,'' Potok said. ``Just the opposite has happened.''

© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press


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German Rightists Demonstrate

Saturday, February 27, 1999; 3:50 p.m. EST

MAGDEBURG, Germany (AP) -- About 1,000 rightists demonstrated against foreigners in Magdeburg on Saturday, while police arrested 25 leftist counter-demonstrators for throwing stones and bottles at officers guarding the demonstration.

The rally, organized by the rightist National Party of Germany, was held under the motto ``no German passports for foreigners,'' to protest Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's proposal to liberalize Germany's citizenship law to allow dual citizenship.

About 500 leftists marched to Magdeburg's Domplatz where the neo-Nazis had assembled, carrying banners that read ``Dual passports instead of racial hate,'' and ``No one is illegal.''

Steffen Hupka, Saxony Anhalt state chairman of the radical rightist party, complained that police had refused to let them march and limited the demonstration to a square at the city's cathedral.

In protest against the neo-Nazis, the cathedral bells were rung every 10 minutes, making it nearly impossible to hear during much of the demonstration.

In the eastern town of Wurzen, 12 miles east of Leipzig, police said 22 rightists were arrested after they leaned out of windows and threw manure and bags of paint into a crowd of 250 leftists marching in a protest against neo-Nazis.

Schroeder's government has already backed down from plans to offer dual nationality to foreign residents to better integrate them into society. Germany's 1913 citizenship law is based on bloodlines rather than place of birth.

Conservative opponents have collected 1 million signatures in a petition drive against the dual nationality plan, and the issue was blamed for the government's loss of a majority in the upper house of parliament in a state election this month.

Government officials now say they will try to negotiate with the opposition on a new citizenship plan.

© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press


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Gallery Looking for Nazi Connection

By Graham Heathcote
Associated Press Writer
Monday, March 1, 1999; 3:21 p.m. EST

LONDON (AP) -- Britain's National Gallery issued today a list of 120 paintings in its collection that it is investigating to make sure they were not confiscated or stolen in the Nazi era.

The move is part of an unprecedented search -- agreed at a 44-nation conference organized by the United States in December -- for valuable paintings taken from Jews by the Nazis during World War II.

The National Gallery said it was the first to issue a detailed list of works that it acquired by bequest or purchase after the end of World War II in 1945 -- but which have gaps in the ownership records during the 1930s and through the war.

The list, published in the March issue of the Art Newspaper, included works by Caravaggio, Anthony van Dyck, Claude Monet and Sir Peter Paul Rubens.

The National Gallery said, however, that only eight of the paintings needed ``investigation with care'' because they appear to have been in continental Europe in unknown collections during the 30s.

The eight are two landscapes by Claude Monet, a seascape by Willem van de Velde, a crucifixion by Eugene Delacroix, a still life of apples by Gustave Courbet, a flower piece by Ambrosius Bosschaert, a woman's portrait by an imitator of Gonzales Coques and a depiction of Cleopatra by an unknown 16th-century French artist.

``We haven't received a single claim to any one of them or even a suggestion that there might be a claim,'' director Neil MacGregor told reporters. ``But we thought it sensible to find out more about their ownership in the 1933-1945 period because of gaps about them for that period in our files.''

Similar searches are under way in other European countries, including the Netherlands, Austria and France. The main transfers to art during the Nazi era took place in France and Switzerland.

Guidelines endorsed at the December conference provide for any confiscated paintings to be returned to their prewar owners or heirs, or sold to benefit Holocaust survivors.

The gallery is one of 26 British national cultural institutions ordered by the government to make similar searches. They include libraries and the British museum.

The U.S. conference followed investigations in Swiss holdings of Nazi gold.

© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press


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Auschwitz Protest Organizer Charged

By Beata Pasek
Associated Press Writer
Monday, March 1, 1999; 6:47 p.m. EST

WARSAW, Poland (AP) -- Prosecutors in southern Poland filed an indictment Monday against a conservative Catholic activist who rallied others to erect crosses just outside the former Nazi death camp at Auschwitz.

The indictment filed in the Oswiecim local court charges Kazimierz Switon with inciting hate against Jews and with insulting Jews and Germans. If convicted, the charges carry a maximum sentence of three years.

Reached on his mobile phone at the site where dozens of crosses have been erected, Switon called the charges ``absurd.''

``I only said the truth and will prove it in the court,'' he said.

Prosecutors cited leaflets distributed by Switon in his campaign to prevent authorities from removing a 25-foot papal cross that has stood at the site in commemoration of Polish resisters executed there by the Nazis.

The leaflets include a statement issued on June 28 that urged residents to erect crosses at the site, saying ``the time has come for us, Poles, to wage merciless war on Jewish-communist-masonry, the biggest enemies of the Polish state.''

The leaflets described Israel and Germany as ``satanic-pagan forces aiming at extermination of the Polish nation,'' according to PAP news agency.

Prosecutors began investigating the statements in October after receiving complaints from residents.

Switon launched his campaign last summer to prevent removal of the large wooden cross, used in a 1988 papal Mass, inspiring other conservative Catholics to erect dozens of smaller crosses in protest.

Jews have long objected to the presence of the larger cross, which is visible inside the camp, as an insult to the memory of Jews killed at Auschwitz. Jewish organizations around the world renewed their outrage after the smaller crosses began appearing, and the Israeli government urged Poland to solve the dispute.

© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press


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Group Won't Recommend Circumcision

By Eric Fidler
Associated Press Writer
Monday, March 1, 1999; 4:14 p.m. EST

CHICAGO (AP) -- The nation's most influential group of pediatricians has concluded that the benefits of circumcising newborns aren't significant enough to recommend it as a routine procedure.

The American Academy of Pediatrics stopped short of advising against circumcision. But the group recommended for the first time Monday that newborns get pain relief for it.

``The weight of the evidence would have to be significant for the academy to recommend an elective surgical procedure on every newborn male, and the evidence is not sufficient for us to make such a recommendation,'' said Dr. Carole Lannon, chairwoman of the task force that wrote the new policy statement for the academy, which has 55,000 members.

Over the last 15 years or so, a grass-roots anti-circumcision movement and debate in the medical community have stirred new doubt and discussion about the procedure, with opponents saying it leaves long-term psychological scars and diminishes sexual pleasure.

``I think what that means is the medical debate is over,'' said Ronald Goldman, director of the Circumcision Resource Center, an anti-circumcision organization. ``I think circumcision is now an ethical issue. It challenges us to empathize with newborn infants.''

The new policy statement, outlined in a report in the March issue of Pediatrics, the academy's journal, says parents should take into account cultural and religious traditions as well as the advice of a pediatrician when considering circumcision.

In its last policy statement on the issue, in 1989, the academy said circumcision has potential medical benefits as well as risks and should be carefully explained to parents.

After reviewing scientific evidence, the task force did find some medical benefits of circumcision:

--Boys who have not been circumcised are as much as 12 times more likely to get urinary tract infections than those who have been circumcised. Uncircumcised boys had a 1-in-100 chance of developing such an infection in their first year of life; for circumcised boys the chance was 1 in 1,000.

--Some evidence shows penile cancer is more prevalent among uncircumcised males. But the disease is so rare, striking just 1 in 100,000 American males a year, that the researchers found any added risk insignificant.

The academy's report said pain relief is recommended because studies have shown that infants circumcised without anesthesia experience pain and bodily stress.

The task force reviewed three forms of pain relief. One involves applying a local anesthetic in a cream about an hour before the procedure. The two others involve injecting anesthetics into the penis. One of those, a subcutaneous ring block, was deemed the most effective.

Rabbi Gerald Chirnomas of Boonton, N.J., who estimates he has performed 12,000 circumcisions, said that anesthesia is unnecessary and that injections are more painful than the circumcision. He allows an infant to suck a little wine from his finger, then gives him some sugar water from a bottle after the circumcision for pain relief.

He also said the policy statement should not affect observant Jews.

``Jewish people don't do circumcision because it's a healthy thing,'' he said. ``We do it because it's a covenantal ritual ordained by the Bible.''

© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press

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