Daily Archives: February 6, 2009

Alaska Natives expand sex-abuse suit against Jesuits

Twenty more plaintiffs and a defendant were added to a lawsuit filed by dozens of Alaska Natives who say they were abused as children and teens by Jesuits or those supervised by Jesuits.

Seattle Times | Feb 5, 2009

By Janet I. Tu

Twenty more plaintiffs and a defendant have been added to a lawsuit filed by dozens of Alaska Natives who say they were abused as children and teens by Jesuits or those supervised by Jesuits.

In the original suit, filed last month, 43 Alaska Natives said they had been abused in remote villages in the state. The suit named several defendants, including various Jesuit entities and the head of the worldwide Roman Catholic order.

The suit also named Seattle University President Stephen Sundborg, saying that as a former provincial — or head — of the Jesuits in the Northwest, he knew or should have known about an abusive priest. Sundborg denied those allegations.

The amended lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Alaska Superior Court’s Bethel Judicial District, adds as a defendant the Rev. Francis Case, who served as provincial from about 1986 to 1990. The suit claims Case would have had access to the personnel files of all priests, including so-called hell files containing damning information about certain priests.

As such, the suit claims, Case knew or should have known about the Rev. Francis Nawn, who is accused in the lawsuit of abusing three of the plaintiffs during the years Case was provincial. Nawn is deceased, according to plaintiffs’ lawyers.

The lawsuit describes Case as Seattle University’s head of campus ministry, and the school’s Web site lists him in the faculty and staff directory as being involved in campus ministry.

But university officials said Case, who had been on assignment in Rome for 18 years, moved to Seattle in 2008 while on a sabbatical and is not employed at Seattle U and has no formal role or duties with campus ministry. Seattle University spokesman Casey Corr said the information on the Web site is not correct.

Case could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Though Seattle University is not named in the suit, plaintiffs’ attorney Ken Roosa said “there’s no doubt that we are going after Seattle University assets,” contending the Jesuits own the school’s assets, even though the school is a separate corporate entity.

“Seattle University had no role in the events alleged to have occurred in Alaska,” Mary Petersen, Seattle University vice president and general counsel, said in a statement.

“The University is not owned, operated or governed by the Oregon Province,” the formal name of the Jesuits in the Northwest.

“The entire Seattle University community is committed to compassion and healing for all victims of clerical sexual abuse,” Petersen said.

The Very Rev. Patrick Lee, provincial of the Oregon Province, said it would be inappropriate to comment on Wednesday’s suit since the province has not reviewed it.

“The province remains committed to justice and healing in all cases of misconduct and child abuse,” Lee said.

The Oregon Province agreed last year to pay $50 million to settle an earlier suit filed by 110 Alaska Natives abused in remote villages.

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Winter so far is coldest in Dublin since 1991

Irish Times | Feb 5, 2009

By ELAINE EDWARDS

Amid grim news on almost every front, it appears parts of Ireland are also experiencing the coldest winter in 18 years.

Met Éireann said today that while there was nothing unusual about the current bout of sleet, snow and general wintry weather in February, it was indeed the coldest winter in the capital since 1991.

Meteorologist Gerry Murphy told The Irish Times that the main feature of the weather in recent days was cold air from Siberia, resulting in many heavy snowfalls in Britain and in the east of Ireland.

“In the next couple of days it will come from the north, which will keep conditions very cold but the wintry showers will be mainly in the west and north of the country,” he said.

Mr Murphy said February was still part of the winter season in meteorological terms. He said the Casement Aerodrome weather station had recorded its coldest December and January since 1991 and the coldest December and January since 1997 had been recorded at weather stations in Cork Airport and Birr Co Offaly.

“This winter we have had quite a few nights with sharp frost and it’s been a while since the Dublin region has had such significant falls of snow. It’s unusual in that sense, but on the other hand it’s winter weather.”

Today, parts of the country are experiencing wintry showers of sleet and snow.

“The places that are getting most of them are Donegal and Mayo in the north and west, and then east Ulster, east Antrim and right down the east coast and in as far as parts of Kildare, Tipperary and Waterford,” Mr Murphy said.

In contrast, west Munster and a good part of Connacht are “dry and bright with lovely sunshine”.

Mr Murphy said temperatures will continue very cold today and over the next few days, rising no higher than between 3 and 6 degrees in general.

Showers will continue tonight in the north west and the north, but should gradually clear away from the east and south east.

“They will be fairly slow to clear, but they should clear from the Dublin region some time during the afternoon. And then from places like Wexford this evening or early tonight.”

Tonight, tomorrow night and Saturday night will be very cold with a sharp, severe frost and it will also be very cold during the day, said the forecaster.

Further wintry showers should be expected tomorrow, mainly in the northern half of Ulster and the northern half of Connacht.

Dublin and a good part of Leinster and Munster should be dry and bright tomorrow, apart perhaps from “one or two rogue showers”, said Mr Murphy. Saturday will bring more of the same.

Bill Gates Unleashes Swarm of Mosquitoes on Crowd

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“There is no reason only poor people should be infected.” Bill Gates opens a jar of mosquitoes at TED2009. ( James Duncan Davidson)

There is no reason only poor people should be infected says Gates.

Fox News | Feb 5, 2009

Microsoft founder turned philanthropist Bill Gates released a glass full of mosquitoes at an elite technology conference to make a point about the deadly disease malaria.

“Malaria is spread by mosquitoes,” Gates said while opening a jar onstage at the Technology, Entertainment, Design Conference — a gathering known to attract technology kings, politicians, and Hollywood stars.

“I brought some. Here I’ll let them roam around. There is no reason only poor people should be infected.”

First reported on social networking site Twitter, Facebook’s Senior Platform Manager Dave Morin blogged, “Bill Gates just released mosquitos into the audience at TED.”

Gates then waited a minute or so before assuring the audience the freed insects were malaria-free.

The unusual presentation on malaria prevention was confirmed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s media office. A spokesman said the insects released were not carrying malaria.

Gates retired as head of Microsoft last year to focus more on his foundation. One of its key projects is ending malaria and it has spent millions on fighting the disease.

The philanthropist has been pushing to reduce malaria deaths through the nonprofit. In September, Gates announced that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation would provide $168.7 million to the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative to help develop a vaccine for the deadly disease.

Blair hails ‘God’s love’ in extraordinary speech as he stands alongside Obama at prayer breakfast

Obama

‘My good friend’: Barack Obama applauds Blair’s speech to the Prayer Breakfast in Washington

Daily Mail | Feb 6, 2009

By Michael Lea

Tony Blair famously ‘didn’t do God’ during his decade in Downing Street, fearing he would be viewed as a religious fanatic.

But the former Prime Minister lectured the world yesterday on the need to put faith at the heart of global affairs.

In an impassioned ‘sermon’ in the U.S. he made no fewer than 31 mentions of God, and declared: ‘In surrendering to God we become instruments of his love’.

Mr Blair also scored a diplomatic coup as the first ‘world leader’ to shake hands with President Barack Obama, who hailed him as ‘my good friend’.

He said Mr Blair ‘did it first and perhaps did it better’ and had been an example to so many people around the world ‘of what dedicated leadership can accomplish’.

The exchanges will cause frustration in Number 10, where Gordon Brown is still awaiting an invitation to Washington.

The former Premier was speaking in the U.S. capital at the annual National Prayer Breakfast.

In a sharp departure from his days in power – his spin doctor Alastair Campbell once told reporters ‘We don’t do God’ – he spoke passionately of his faith.

Although traditionalists will welcome the remarkably frank and passionate speech, others will also point out that for 10 years Mr Blair led a Government addicted to the casual lying that comes with political spin and took the country into a disastrous war on the flimsiest of evidence.

Mr Blair, who converted to Roman Catholicism after leaving Downing Street, gave a revealing insight into how he felt unable to discuss religion there.

He said: ‘I recall giving an address to the country at a time of crisis. I wanted to end my words with “God bless the British people”.

‘This caused complete consternation. Emergency meetings were convened. The system was aghast. Finally, a senior civil servant said, with utter disdain: “Really, Prime Minister, this is not America you know”.’

Yesterday he threw off those inhibitions and said: ‘I believe restoring religious faith to its rightful place, as the guide to our world and its future, is itself of the essence.

‘The 21st century will be poorer in spirit, meaner in ambition, less disciplined in conscience, if it is not under the guardianship of faith in God.’

Mr Blair, now the international peace envoy to the Middle East, said his new job meant he spent a great deal of time in the Holy Land.

He said: ‘It is a good place to reflect on religion – a source of so much inspiration, an excuse for so much evil. Today, religion is under attackfrom without and from within. From within, it is corroded by extremists who use their faith as a means of excluding the other.

‘From without, religious faith is assailed by an increasingly aggressive secularism, which derides faith as contrary to reason and defines faith by conflict.

‘Thus the extreme believers and the aggressive non-believers come together in unholy alliance.’

Mr Blair recalled an incident when he was just ten and his father Leo suffered a stroke. A teacher wanted to pray for him, but Mr Blair confessed that his father did not believe in God. The teacher reassured him: ‘That doesn’t matter, God believes in him.’

The former Premier said: ‘That is what inspires – the unconditional nature of God’s love’. Leo Blair, now 85, survived the stroke.

A humorous Mr Blair charmed his audience with self deprecation but also by displaying his passionate Christianity.

He told Mr Obama: ‘As you begin your leadership of this great country, Mr President, you are fortunate, as is your nation, that you have already shown in your life, courage in abundance.

‘But should it ever be tested, I hope your faith can sustain you and your family.’

By return, the President praised ‘my good friend Tony Blair – who did it first and perhaps did it better’ at the head of a list of personal acknowledgments.

Mr Blair ended his speech: ‘By the way, God bless you all.’

How ‘Doctor Death’, the world’s most wanted Nazi war criminal, became a Muslim

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The ovens at Mauthausen. Up to 320,000 people were killed in the camp

Daily Mail | Feb 5, 2009

By Ryan Kisiel

Nazi hunters who have spent decades searching for a death camp doctor who performed hideous medical experiments on inmates expressed ‘serious doubts’ yesterday over claims that he is dead.

GERMANY-WWII-NAZIS-WARCRIMES-HEIM-OBITPolice in Germany also said they would continue to investigate whether Dr Aribert Heim, the perverted physician of the Mauthausen concentration camp known as ‘Dr Death’, did indeed die in Cairo 17 years ago to be buried in a pauper’s grave.

An American newspaper and a German TV station broke the news of his ‘death’ and his conversion to Islam – but it has not shaken those still on his trail.

Heim has headed the list of ‘Operation Last Chance’ – the name given to the hunt for the top ten surviving war criminals from Nazi Germany – for the last two years.

“The story raises more questions than it answers,’ said Efraim Zuroff, head Nazi hunter of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Israel.

‘There’s no body, no corpse, no DNA, no grave – we can’t sign off on a story like this because of some semi-plausible explanation.

‘Keep in mind these people have a vested interested in being declared dead – it’s a perfectly crafted story; that’s the problem, it’s too perfect.’

Zuroff said ‘there was no doubt’ Heim had lived in Egypt.

‘But the question is whether he died in Egypt. We have serious doubts about that.’

He said German police had told him they had also not shut the case on Heim, the most notorious of surviving perpetrators of the Nazi killings of 6million Jews during the war, who has been missing since evading German police in 1962.

Heim has been accused of killing hundreds of inmates at the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria by injecting petrol into their hearts, performing surgery and severing organs without anaesthesia, crimes which he documented himself, Zuroff said.

German TV station ZDF, in footage from a documentary being aired yesterday, showed Heim’s son Ruediger saying his father had died of cancer on August 10, 1992, after having spent 30 years in Cairo under an assumed name.

Zuroff said news of Heim’s death came as the Wiesenthal Centre was preparing to triple its reward for locating him to 1million euros, but that he was sceptical due to the lack of evidence and family interests in seeing the case closed.

Heim earned his position as the most wanted on Zuroff’s list with a CV that sends shivers down the spine.

At Mauthausen, Heim moved like a veritable angel of death among the prisoners who were terrified of falling ill and having to be treated by him.

Survivor Karl Lotter, who worked in his clinic as an orderly, told war crimes investigators after the war about a young prisoner not earmarked for death who came to see Heim with a swollen foot.

‘I think I have an infection,’ said the young man.

‘An infection, ah, well, we’ll see what we can do about that,’ said the doctor.

What he did about that was to anaesthetise him. He then castrated the boy, dissected a kidney and removed the second, then decapitated him.

The head was boiled to remove the flesh so the doctor could use the skull as a paperweight.

Lotter said: ‘Of all the camp doctors in Mauthausen, Dr Heim was the most horrible.’

Dr Aribert Heim, at the time, was just 27 years old.  So steeped was he in the twisted ideology of the Third Reich that he was known to all inmates simply as ‘Dr. Death’.

Aided by an SS pharmacist, Erich Wasicky, he murdered hundreds of inmates by injecting them with various liquids, including petrol, phenol, water and poison, all in the interests of seeing which killed them fastest.

He used a stopwatch to time the results, recording them meticulously in a ledger.
Heim, whose experimentation was compared to that of the Auschwitz doctor Josef Mengele, also carried out amputations on prisoners without anaesthetic to see what level of pain a human could endure before expiring.

Organs were removed from conscious patients, including one case where the liver, spleen and bowel were excised.  In another case, Heim removed the tattooed flesh of a prisoner to make seat coverings for the camp commandant’s flat.

A court that sentenced him in absentia in 1979 said he ‘wallowed in the fear of death suffered by his victims while performing lethal operations on them without anaesthetics’.

Justice evaded Dr Death at war’s end, as it did for so many of his countrymen.  He didn’t even bother to flee at first, returning to Germany where he took up gynaecology.

But the past did catch up with him eventually.  In the 1960s, he was forced to flee Germany as prosecutors finally pieced together his crimes.

Ever since, he has been on the run, leaving behind an intriguing fortune, property and a divided family – divided between those who accuse his pursuers of a witch-hunt and those who want to know the truth, however painful that may be.

Following the allegations of his death back in 1992, the Baden-Wuerttemberg state police unit that investigates Nazi-era crimes is preparing a request asking Egyptian authorities to allow them to pursue the case in Cairo.

‘We want to attempt to find the body,’ said a spokesman for the German sleuths.
Heim’s son Ruediger told Germany’s ZDF television that his father fled to Egypt after authorities tried to arrest him at his Baden-Baden home.

The younger Heim contradicted previous statements that he had never had any contact with his father since that time, telling ZDF that he had met with him several times in Cairo, starting in the mid-1970s.

Last summer, Ruediger tried to have his father declared legally dead so that he could take control of an estimated €1.2million in investments in his name, saying that he would donate the money to charity.

The report said Heim was living under a pseudonym and had converted to Islam by the time of his death from intestinal cancer.  If still alive, he would be 94 today.

It was reported yesterday that a certified copy of a death certificate obtained from Egyptian authorities confirmed witness accounts that the man called Heim is believed to have used the name Tarek Hussein Farid.

The Egyptian official record states that Farid died in 1992.

‘Tarek Hussein Farid is the name my father took when he converted to Islam,’ said Rüdiger Heim.

In an interview in the family’s villa in Baden-Baden, Mr Heim, 53, admitted publicly for the first time that he was with his father in Egypt at the time of his death from rectal cancer.

He said: ‘It was during the Olympics. There was a television in the room, and he was watching the Olympics. It distracted him. He must have been suffering from serious pain.’

Guy Walters, author of Nazi war criminal book Hunting Evil, said: ‘Heim is one of the major criminals of the last century, and if true this revelation is hugely significant.

‘His experiments that he carried out on concentration camp victims were disgusting and he was currently being hunted for his crimes.

‘We like to think of South America as being the sanctuary of Nazis, but this proves that Islamic states were just as happy to play host to them after the war.

‘This was partly because some Islamic states agreed with the Nazis’ hatred of the Jews and also these people were wanted for their scientific knowledge.

‘There were always rumours during the 1950s that Egypt had Nazi scientists and they were working on weapons to launch against Israel.’

Although he was captured in a general round-up of leading Nazis by US forces in March 1945, he was released because his name did not appear on any of the lists of war criminals the Allies had quickly drawn up.

Heim became a gynaecologist in West Germany until 1962, when his past caught up with him in the form of the Austrian police, who were finally investigating him for his war crimes.

Heim was tipped off and he escaped, reportedly to Spain and then to Uruguay, where he opened up a gynaecological practice.

Since the 1960s, Heim had been able to live a relatively unmolested life, and quietly amassed a small fortune.

Leading Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff from the Simon Wiesenthal Centre said he had not seen the documents, but if true, would be ‘earth shattering’ news.

Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal tipped of Israeli intelligence that Adolf Eichmann, credited for being the architect of the Holocaust, was living in Argentina.

In 1960, Mossad agents captured Eichmann, smuggled him to Israel where he stood trial and was executed for war crimes.

US Army suicides to outstrip combat deaths

Army Reports Rise in Suicides Will Likely Outnumber Combat Deaths

Fox News | Feb 5, 2009

WASHINGTON —  The Army is investigating a stunning number of suicides in January — a count that could surpass all combat deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan last month.

According to figures obtained by The Associated Press, there were 24 suspected suicides in January, compared to only four in January of 2008.

Yearly suicides have been rising steadily since 2004 amid increasing stress on the force from long and repeated tours of duty to America’s two ongoing wars.

The alarming monthly count follows an annual report last week showing that soldiers killed themselves at the highest rate on record in 2008. The toll for all of last year — 128 confirmed and 15 pending investigation — was an increase for the fourth straight year and even surpassed the suicide rate among civilians.

“The trend and trajectory seen in January further heightens the seriousness and urgency that all of us must have in preventing suicides,” Gen. Peter Chiarelli, Army vice chief of staff, said of the new monthly report Thursday.

The 24 suspected January suicides include seven confirmed and 17 still being investigated. Usually the vast majority of suspected suicides are eventually confirmed, and if that holds true it would mean that self-inflicted deaths surpassed the 16 combat deaths reported in all branches of the armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan last month.

In announcing the 2008 figures last week, the Army said it would hold special training from Feb. 15 to March 15 to help troops recognize suicidal behaviors and to intervene if they see such behavior in a buddy. After that, the Army also plans a suicide prevention program for all soldiers from the top of the chain of command down.

Yearly increases in suicides have been recorded since 2004, when there were 64 all year. Officials said they found that the most common factors were soldiers suffering problems with their personal relationships, legal or financial issues and problems on the job.

Czech president attacks Al Gore’s climate campaign

AFP | Jan 31, 2009

DAVOS, Switzerland (AFP) — Czech President Vaclav Klaus took aim at climate change campaigner Al Gore on Saturday in Davos in a frontal attack on the science of global warming.

“I don’t think that there is any global warming,” said the 67-year-old liberal, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the European Union. “I don’t see the statistical data for that.”

Referring to the former US vice president, who attended Davos this year, he added: “I’m very sorry that some people like Al Gore are not ready to listen to the competing theories. I do listen to them.

“Environmentalism and the global warming alarmism is challenging our freedom. Al Gore is an important person in this movement.”

Speaking on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum, he said that he was more worried about the reaction to the perceived dangers than the consequences.

“I’m afraid that the current crisis will be misused for radically constraining the functioning of the markets and market economy all around the world,” he said.

“I’m more afraid of the consequences of the crisis than the crisis itself.”

Klaus makes no secret of his climate change scepticism — he is also a fierce critic of the European Union — and has branded the world’s top panel of climate experts, the UN’s IPCC, a smug monopoly.