English News Archive

News between January 5th and January 2nd, 1999, reversely ordered by date (i.e.: the newest can be found on top). For other News look into our News Archive.


January 05, 1999:

January 04, 1999:

January 03, 1999:

January 02, 1999:


Saturday January 2 1:03 AM ET Flowery Flashback for Rose Parade

Flowery Flashback for Rose Parade

By MICHAEL FLEEMAN Associated Press Writer

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) - With everything from a flyby of fighter jets to a sobering tribute to the city of Jerusalem, the 110th Rose Parade saluted the 20th century as thousands watched under brilliant skies.

Twenty-two marching bands and 25 equestrian units on the ground were joined by Navy aviators in the sky to entertain 750,000 people along the 51/2-mile parade route, while 450 million people in 102 countries watched the New Year's Day spectacle on television.

``It's amazing! Ten times better in person,'' said ``7th Heaven'' TV actress Beverley Mitchell as she jockeyed for a curbside view and aromatic sniff of 56 ``Echoes of the Century''-themed floats covered with flowers, leaves, grass, seeds and spices.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center's Museum of Tolerance entered ``Jerusalem, City of Peace'' in honor of the holy city's three religious traditions of Judaism, Islam and Christianity.

The 55-foot-long float had a floral replica of Jerusalem's Western Wall containing some 10,000 messages from school children from around the world. The notes will be sent to Jerusalem to be wedged into the actual wall, following age-old custom.

``With what's going on in the Middle East, we thought we should remind the world that Jerusalem is the home of the world's great religions and it was a time to pray for Jerusalem,'' said Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Wiesenthal Center.

The grandstands contained a sea of Wisconsin red sweatshirts worn by fans in town for the afternoon Rose Bowl college football game against UCLA, which Wisconsin won 38-31.

More than 1,200 police officers and sheriff's deputies kept the peace. There were 95 arrests, mostly minor violations such as public drunkenness, fighting and vehicle code violations, said police spokeswoman Janet Pope.

Computer buffs could catch the parade on the Internet thanks to floatcams and a laptop-equipped parade staff.

Grand marshal honors were shared by astronaut Buzz Aldrin, diplomat and former child star Shirley Temple Black, film producer David Wolper and the late baseball legend Jackie Robinson.


Saturday January 2 3:29 PM ET Springer Doesn't Defend Virtue

Springer Doesn't Defend Virtue

NEW YORK (AP) - Jerry Springer doesn't think his trashy talk show is evil. Still, don't expect him to spend a lot of effort defending its virtue.

``I would argue against it being bad, but there's certainly nothing of sustaining value,'' Springer says in the January issue of Esquire magazine. ``It's chewing gum. I could hardly with a straight face say anything else. I don't think I could even concoct a speech saying this is important for America to watch.''

Springer, the son of German-Jewish Holocaust refugees, came to the United States from England when he was 4 years old. The lawyer-turned-politician became mayor of Cincinnati before turning to television.

His talk show that often features spurned lovers, cross-dressers and meddling relatives is known for onstage fighting between guests.

``It's kind of funny, because I've never been in a fight in my life,'' Springer said. ``I mean, Phoebe Nelaboff pushed me into the bushes in third grade on the way to school. But short of that, I honestly don't remember being in a physical fight in my life.''


Sunday January 3 12:49 AM ET Israel Asked To Honor Forgotten Holocaust Hero

Israel Asked To Honor Forgotten Holocaust Hero

By Paul Majendie

LONDON (Reuters) - Israel was urged Saturday to honor a British spy in Berlin who helped at least 10,000 Jews to flee Nazi Germany and escape the Holocaust.

The call to recognize forgotten hero Frank Foley was made by Britain's Holocaust Educational Trust after the publication of a book by journalist Michael Smith on Foley's exploits.

Foley helped to rescue even more Jews than Oskar Schindler -- famed subject of an Oscar-winning film -- and grateful survivors echoed the plea for him to be honored.

Zeev Padan, whose father was taken out of a Nazi concentration camp by Foley, told the Daily Telegraph from his home in Jerusalem: ``If it hadn't been for him, my father would have died in the Holocaust. There is no doubt he should be honored.''

Smith, author of ``Foley: The Spy Who Saved 10,000 Jews,'' told BBC Radio: ``It became something of a personal crusade to get this man recognized.''

Foley was head of the British M16 intelligence station in Berlin during the Thirties. He controlled visas to Britain but had no diplomatic immunity and could have been arrested at any time.

Foley, who died in 1958, flouted strict British immigration rules to get visas for Jews. He hid in his home Jews hunted by the Gestapo, helped people to find false passports and even went into concentration camps.

Lord Janner of the Holocaust Education Trust wrote to Yad Vashemn, the Israeli Holocaust Memorial Museum, that ``Frank Foley should be recognized and his memory honored as one of the Righteous Among Nations.

``He carried out thousands of rescues when one can be enough to qualify. He risked his own life and position and did not seek any remuneration for his actions.''

Asked why Foley's story had stayed buried for so long, Smith said: ``He was not allowed to talk to people when he came back to Britain as his life in Berlin had to remain secret.

``The Israelis were asked to honor him by some of the aid workers who worked with him but the Prime Minister's office blocked it. I don't quite know why, but I suspect it was because he had worked with M16 and at that stage the British were so hated in Israel.''

Stephen Ward, associate director of the Holocaust Educational Trust, heaped praise on Foley for his courage, telling BBC Radio: ``He had this queue of people stretching round and round the block for miles in Berlin.

``Everybody he signed a visa for was saved. Everybody he didn't was probably going to their deaths.''

Sabine Comberti, whose family were given visas by Foley, told The Daily Telegraph: ``He saved our lives. If anybody deserves a place in Yad Vashem, he does. He was a wonderful man.''


Israel Detains Denver Cult Members

Sunday, January 3, 1999; 11:31 a.m. EST

JERUSALEM (AP) -- Israeli police detained eight adults and six children belonging to a Denver-based apocalyptic Christian cult on Sunday, and accused the group of planning violent acts in Jerusalem.

The cult members -- comprising three families -- did not resist arrest when police raided two apartments in suburbs outside Jerusalem, police spokesman Shmuel ben Ruby told The Associated Press.

``The arrests were carried out to protect certain sectors of the Israeli population and members of the cult themselves who blindly follow'' a leader who is now overseas, a police statement said.

The cult's leader has been identified as Monte Kim Miller.

Seventy members of the ``Concerned Christians'' cult disappeared from Denver in October and were believed to be living in the Jerusalem area.

The Shin Bet, Israel's internal security service, had information that cult members planned ``extremist acts'' in the streets of Jerusalem toward the end of 1999, the police statement said.

The cult members hoped such acts would accelerate the second coming of Jesus Christ, the statement said.

The 78 members of the Concerned Christians who vanished in October include members who are white and black, married and single, white-collar professionals and unemployed laborers.

They range in age from infancy to 68.

Miller is the 44-year-old former Denver resident who has said he's one of the final two witnesses prophesied in the Bible in Chapter 11 of the Book of Revelation. He claims he is destined to die in the streets of Jerusalem in the final days of December 1999.

© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press


Monday January 4 10:38 AM ET Ex-Member Criticizes French Party

Ex-Member Criticizes French Party

PARIS (AP) - Bruno Megret, expelled from the far-right National Front party, says inflammatory statements by its leader, Jean-Marie Le Pen, have held back the party's growth.

Megret, the National Front's former No. 2 man, told the Le Parisien daily Monday that Le Pen's 1997 comments calling the Nazi gas chambers a ``detail'' of history have ``slowed the expansion of the movement and kept it in the ghetto of 15 percent.''

The National Front typically wins 15 percent of the vote in national elections, but has never exceeded that level of support.

Megret, now challenging Le Pen's leadership, said he hoped to attract 30 percent of French voters to the party by appealing to all those who have voted ``at least once for the National Front.''

Megret has defiantly called for a party congress at the end of January.

Megret also accused Le Pen of striking a deal with sports tycoon Bernard Tapie in 1993 elections that allowed Tapie, a member of a leftist party, to be elected to parliament in Gardanne, a region in southern France.

Tapie, the former owner of the Olympique de Marseille soccer team, was later convicted of committing several corruption-related crimes.

A spokeswoman for the National Front, who declined to be named, said Le Pen had no comment on the accusation.

In December, Le Pen expelled Megret and six others from the National Front after the rebels called for an emergency party congress.

The feud between Le Pen and Megret has split the party in two. Megret is considering forming his own slate for European Parliament elections next June, while Le Pen plans to lead the Front's ticket.

The National Front advocates sending home France's millions of immigrants and reserving jobs and welfare for French-born citizens. It is widely accused of racism and anti-Semitism.


Monday January 4 8:14 AM ET Jewish Official Recalls Holocaust

Jewish Official Recalls Holocaust

By CLARE NULLIS Associated Press Writer

GENEVA (AP) - In August 1942, he tried to alert the West about the Nazi plan to annihilate Europe's Jews. No one responded.

Now, more than half a century later, Gerhart Riegner says the world is still unwilling to accept reports of brutality and mass killings. And worse, he says, the world is still reluctant to act.

``News of the extermination of Jews was so awful that people didn't believe it. Even people who did know were very reluctant to do anything.

``It's the same today,'' Riegner said, in reference to recent horrors like the 1994 genocide in Rwanda in which an estimated half million people were killed.

Riegner, 87, spoke to a small group of journalists recently about his newly published memoirs, which he wrote to show how difficult it was to get the public to accept the truth.

The 680-page book, ``Ne Jamais Desperer,'' (Never Give Up Hope), describes his life as a World Jewish Congress official, including the dispatch of the now-famous ``Riegner cable,'' which contained his early account of the systematic killing that became known as the Holocaust.

He maintains that many of the 6 million Jews killed in Nazi concentration camps could have been saved if the United States and Britain had acted when he sounded the alarm.

Although there had been earlier reports of deportations and slayings of Jews, Riegner's telegram was the first authoritative word that the Nazis actually had a coordinated extermination plan.

``Never did I feel so strongly the sense of abandonment, powerlessness and loneliness as when I sent messages of disaster and horror to the free world and no one believed me,'' Riegner wrote.

Born into an intellectual Jewish family in Germany, Riegner's first experience of anti-Semitism came at age 5, when another schoolboy called him a ``dirty little Jew.''

Years later, in 1933, Nazi thugs stood outside his parent's Berlin house yelling ``Jews out! Jews out!'' while Riegner sat in the bath, frozen in terror.

Eventually, Riegner, a trained lawyer, moved to Geneva and staffed the office of the newly founded World Jewish Congress.

He was in neutral Switzerland during the war, with a ``rucksack filled with basics ready to flee into the mountains'' in case of German attack, a false Bolivian passport and an emergency visa for the United States.

Then, on July 29, 1942, Riegner received reliable intelligence from a top German industrialist about Hitler's plan to deport an estimated 4 million Jews to the East to kill them.

On Aug. 8, 1942, Riegner gave the cable to U.S. representatives in Switzerland, with details of the plan.

U.S. Vice Consul Howard Elting immediately relayed the cable to Washington. But the State Department said it would not transmit telegrams from private sources and so refused Riegner's request to forward the news to World Jewish Congress President Stephen Wise - a personal friend of then-President Franklin Roosevelt. Because of wartime restrictions, Riegner had no direct contact with the Jewish Congress.

The State Department checked with the Vatican and Red Cross, who conceded they were aware of deportations and maltreatment of Jews but not of a plan to annihilate them.

In his book, Riegner criticizes the silence of the Red Cross in the face of atrocities. While he praised the courage of Roman Catholic bishops and priests in some countries, he denounced the failure of the Vatican and the Catholic church in Germany to take a decisive stand against the persecution of the Jews throughout the Nazi era.

By the fall of 1942, graphic witness accounts from a variety of sources and British intelligence helped convince even the skeptics in the State Department about the horrible truth.

But it was only in January 1944 that Roosevelt created the War Refugee Board to try to save Jews.

``Since my first telegram, 18 months had passed during which time the inexorable massacre continued and millions of Jews were sacrificed,'' Riegner wrote.


Tuesday January 5 4:37 PM ET Hungary Replacing Wallenberg Statue

Hungary Replacing Wallenberg Statue

By ALEX BANDY Associated Press Writer

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) - A statue commemorating the heroism of Raoul Wallenberg in saving Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust will be unveiled in Budapest in April, 50 years after it mysteriously disappeared.

The giant statue depicting a man slaying a snake disappeared just days before it was to have been dedicated on April 9, 1949. It was discovered years later at a pharmaceutical firm in eastern Hungary.

On Tuesday, the battered original was taken down so a bronze copy could be cast and erected in a Budapest park.

Wallenberg led a rescue mission to save Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary by issuing them Swedish passports and providing them ``safe houses.'' Nearly 100,000 Jews were saved through his efforts.

He disappeared in 1945 after being arrested by Soviet occupation forces and taken to the Soviet Union.

In 1946, Budapest officials granted permission for a statue dedicated to Wallenberg's memory to be built by Hungarian sculptor Pal Patzay, historian Janos Poto said. But the statue was toppled from its pedestal and carted away before its dedication, said Poto, who has researched its history and disappearance.

Poto said the city's communist authorities were behind the removal, but he was unable to track down who issued the order. ``At one point, the written documents end and orders were by word of mouth,'' he said.

The damaged statue was taken to the basement of the Municipal Gallery. It resurfaced in 1953 in Debrecen, 125 miles east of its original site.

The copy will be made by sculptor Sandor Gyoerfi, and the unveiling will take place on April 9, 50 years after the original dedication date.

About 600,000 of Hungary's 1 million Jews were killed in Nazi death camps between March 1944 and the war's end in May 1945.


Tuesday January 5 10:19 AM ET Israel Sued Over Auschwitz Trips

Israel Sued Over Auschwitz Trips

By DINA KRAFT Associated Press Writer

JERUSALEM (AP) - Hoping to force Poland to remove a church at the Auschwitz death camp, a U.S. Jewish group asked the Supreme Court today to order the Israeli government to stop sending high school students on tours of the site.

Rabbi Avi Weiss, who heads the Coalition for Jewish Concerns, a New York-based advocacy group, said he hopes the court will rule to block the trips of Israeli high school students until the church is dismantled.

Weiss said that by withholding hundreds of thousands of dollars in tourism revenue from the student trips, Israel might succeed in pressuring the Polish government to remove the church, which he called an affront to the memory of the Holocaust.

``The revenue is very important to the Polish government and we very much want Jewish students to visit the camps,'' Weiss said. ``But my sense is that the only language the Poles understand is this kind of pressure.''

The church was established in a former Nazi headquarters building in 1983 in the Birkenau section of the camp. Weiss said the establishment of the church violates a 1972 U.N. declaration ordering the camp to be left intact.

In addition to the church, dozens of crosses have been erected in memory of Christians killed in Auschwitz. More than 1.1. million people perished in the camp, 90 percent of them Jews. The crosses have also angered Jewish groups.

The Israeli Education Ministry said it would only comment on the case once court proceedings begin.

Joanna Topinska of Poland's Education Ministry said today the government had no reaction to the lawsuit. She said the ministry was working with the Israeli government on a new program of youth visits that would be ``more centered on the future and less centered on the past.''

Polish officials have criticized the Israeli trips in the past for focusing exclusively on the death camps and the Holocaust, while ignoring what they term more positive points in the history of the Jews in Poland.

Weiss said he was compelled to file the suit as part of his efforts to ensure the Holocaust would not fade from the world's memory. Six million Jews died at the hands of the Nazis during World War II as part of a systematic plan of extermination.


Tuesday January 5 10:14 AM ET Lithuania Nazi Trial Postponed

Lithuania Nazi Trial Postponed

VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) - A Nazi war crimes trial was postponed Tuesday after the 92-year-old defendant failed to appear in court for the first day of proceedings.

Kazys Gimzauskas' lawyer, Valentinas Staugaitis, told the court his client was seriously ill and confined to bed. Judge Viktoras Kazys said he would resume the trial Wednesday, at which point he would decide whether to call for a medical examination of the defendant.

Gimzauskas, a former resident of St. Petersburg, Fla., is charged with turning over scores of Jews to a Nazi execution squad when he was a top security police official in Vlinius, the Lithuanian capital, during the 1941-44 German occupation.

About 90 percent of Lithuania's 240,000 Jews died during the occupation.

Gimzauskas was a deputy to Aleksandras Lileikis, who faces similar charges and whose trial has been repeatedly delayed on the grounds of poor health.

Some Jewish groups have been sharply critical of Lithuania for its slowness in bringing alleged Nazi war criminals to trial, saying officials appear to want to delay proceedings until the defendants die.

Gimzauskas emigrated to the United States after the war and worked as a machinist. He returned to Lithuania in 1993 as the U.S. government looked into stripping him of his American citizenship for lying about his past.


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