Holocaust's Golden Train
The U.S Justice department has now confirmed that it will pay $25.5
million to the Hungarian Jewish community in America after evidence
indicated that American army officers confiscated a train with Jewish
valuables during WWII and kept most of the goods for themselves.
The train was first seized by the Nazis from Jewish families in
Hungary, but was taken over by American officers after the war ended. The
goods were supposed to be stored and later, item by item, given back to the
families. Its contents were so valuable that it was labeled "the golden
train." Items included works of art, suitcases of gold dust, religious
artifacts, diamonds and silverware.
Not only did many U.S soldiers steal from the train, but it is also
alleged that the U.S government auctioned off remaining treasures in New
York in 1947 to cover refugee costs at the end of the war.
The U.S government has pledged to declassify the documents involved in
the case and have them archived.
A Love That Dared Not Speak Its Name
Ahmed al-Enezi and Shahir al-Roubli, two gay Saudi Arabian men, were
executed last weekend after it was discovered that the lovers conspired to
kill Malik Khan in order to keep their relationship secret.
When Khan threatened to reveal their relationship, the two men ran over
Khan with a vehicle, beat him with stones and set his body ablaze in an
effort to make the body unrecognizable to authorities.
Saudi Arabia is certainly not unique among civilized nations in its
institutionalized, religious-based homophobia, but this situation is unique
in that gays were not the victims, but were instead the perpetrators of the violence. They were possessed of such self-loathing that they resorted to murder rather than allow the nature of their love to be discovered.
The two men were beheaded for their murderous actions, although they
may have suffered the same fate if their relationship had been made public.
Malawi's President Hunting Ghosts or Journalists?
Last week several international press organizations picked up the story
that Malawi's President Bingu wa Mutharika had temporarily abandoned his
controversial palace because he was being haunted by ghosts.
The story read that he had been hearing strange noises that kept him
awake, and that he felt rodents crawling all over his body in the night, but
when he turned on the lights, he saw nothing.
Reverend Malani Mtonga, a senior advisor on Christian affairs to the
president, was quoted as saying, "It's true that the president is no longer
staying there and we have asked clerics from several Christian churches,
including the Roman Catholic, to pray for the new state house to exorcise
The Malawian President however is not fond of seeing his name in such a
context. Earlier this week, the Roman Catholic told the press that his
political enemies had planted these allegations in the press. He had no
intention to move out of the exclusive New State House in Lilongwe, he
insisted. Also Reverend Malani Mtonga denied the reports after they appeared.
Instead of hunting ghosts, the Malawian government decided to get to
the root of the problem: the press. Journalists Tenthani and Banda were thus
arrested yesterday by police at their homes in the commercial capital of
Blantyre, in southern Malawi. They are currently being detained at police
headquarters in the capital, Lilongwe.
Poll Shows Concern About U.S. Gov't Secrecy
Americans feel strongly that good government depends on openness with
the public, with 7 out of 10 people concerned about gov't secrecy, a new
The poll, conducted by Ipsos-Public Affairs for Sunshine Week, a
coalition of media organizations and other groups pressing for gov't access,
found that more than half of Americans believe gov't should provide more
access to its records. Even more,70%--are either "somewhat concerned" or
"very concerned" about gov't secrecy. Nearly as many felt access to public
records was "crucial" to good gov't.
Since 1998, many federal departments have been reducing the amount of
information they release to the public?even as the gov?t fields and answers
more requests for information than ever, an Associated Press review has
found. The locations of stores and restaurants that have received recalled
meat, the names of detainees held by the US overseas and details about Vice
President Dick Cheney's 2001 energy policy task force are all among the
records that the gov't isn't sharing with the public.
The tightening began even before the Sept. 11 attacks, and now gov't
defenders say the nation needs protection from its enemies in the war on
terror. But open gov't advocates worry that US citizens' freedom is eroding
with every file they can't access.
Rising Drug Market
It might not come as a surprise that worldwide illegal drug trafficking
is rising to record highs.
Globally, over 200 million people used illegal substances last year.
Although many countries are funding anti-drug measures, the marketplace does
not show signs of decreasing.
Some administrators who advocate a war on drugs are skeptical because
they believe recent events like the war on terror focuses attention away
from the drug problem. Low-cost drugs still pose the greatest threat in over
30 countries where heroin consumption use is on the rise.
Robert Charles, an American official, states that the world should
remain positive as long as there is "steady progress," such as the decline
of cocaine manufacture in South America and opium production in the
Terror at Sea
Two of the most dangerous al-Qaida-linked groups in Southeast Asia are
working together to train militants in scuba diving for seaborne terror
attacks, according to the interrogation of a recently captured guerrilla.
An Abu Sayyaf suspect in a deadly bus bombing in Manila on Feb. 14,
Gamal Baharan, described how he and other seasoned guerrillas took scuba
lessons as part of a plot for an attack at sea.
Concerns about seaborne terrorist strikes aren?t new. For three years,
the FBI has been investigating whether al-Qaida operatives took scuba
training to help blow up ships at anchor, power plants, bridges, depots or
other waterfront targets.
Authorities fear these scuba divers could target ships with more
accuracy than a small explosive-laden boat like the one used in the USS
Cole blast that killed 17 sailors in 2000 in Yemen.
The report also noted an increased collaboration among the Muslim
militants in other areas, including financing and explosives, as extremists
plot new ways to strike. In the past year, the Indonesia-based Jemaah
Islamiyah has given Abu Sayyaf militants in the Philippines at least $18.500
for explosives training alone. As a protective measure for the nation?s
ports, the U.S. Coast Guard is developing a sonar system that can
distinguish human swimmers from dolphins.
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Holocaust's Golden Train