Home' Greymouth Star : July 2nd 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
8 - Thursday, July 2, 2015
‘English Schindler’ Nicholas Winton dies at 106
Nicholas Winton, a Briton who
saved hundreds of Jewish children in
Prague from the Nazis in the run-up
to World War Two, has died at the
age of 106, his family says.
Son-in-law Stephen Watson
said overnight Winton had died
peacefully in his sleep at Wexham
Hospital in Slough, west of London.
Born in London of German-Jewish
parents, Winton travelled to Nazi-
occupied Czechoslovakia — which
split into the Czech Republic and
Slovakia in 1993 — as a young
employee of the London Stock
It was there that he organised trains
that transported some 669 children,
most of them Jews, to Britain in 1939,
saving them from concentration
camps and near-certain death.
An additional train was set to leave
on September 3, 1939, the day Britain
declared war on Germany, but the
borders were already sealed. None of
the 250 children were seen again.
Winton’s efforts earned him the
nickname “English Schindler” in
reference to Oskar Schindler, the
German industrialist who rescued
hundreds of Polish Jews during the war.
“A good man, Sir Nicholas Winton,
has passed away. He will remain
forever a symbol of courage, deep
humanity and incredible modesty,”
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav
Sobotka said on Twitter.
British Prime Minister David
Cameron tweeted: “ The world has lost
a great man. We must never forget Sir
Nicholas Winton’s humanity in saving
so many children from the Holocaust.”
Winton kept quiet about his
mission for 50 years until his wife
found evidence of it in their attic.
He was knighted in 2003, and his
Czech supporters have repeatedly
petitioned for him to receive the
Nobel Peace Prize. — AFP
A former bookkeeper at
Auschwitz who is accused of
assisting in the mass murder
of at least 300,000 people told
a German court overnight he
could only ask God to forgive
him as he was not entitled to ask
this of victims of the Holocaust.
Oskar Groening, 94, did not kill
anyone himself while working
as a clerk at the notorious Nazi
death camp but prosecutors
say his role made him a part of
the machinery that allowed the
systematic killing to take place.
“I can only ask my Lord God
for forgiveness,” Groening said in
a statement read out by one of his
lawyers at what is likely to be one
of the last big Holocaust trials in
In April, on his first day in
court, Groening said he felt
morally guilty for his work at
Auschwitz but that it was up to
the court to decide whether he
was legally guilty.
Holtermann, told reporters that
accounts given by the victims
and their families had left a
strong impression on the former
“In his statement he said he
couldn’t ask for forgiveness
because for him, the crimes
committed at Auschwitz were on
such a scale that he can’t expect
either the victims or their relatives
to even think about the question
of forgiveness,” Holtermann said.
During his time at Auschwitz,
Groening was required to collect
the belongings of deportees after
they arrived at the camp by train
and had been put through a
selection process that resulted in
many being sent directly to the
Irene Weiss was one of the Jews
who went through that selection
process in 1944 before being
chosen for forced labour. She said
she was disappointed with what
she had heard from Groening.
“ I would have liked to have
heard a truer confession and
explanation,” she said outside the
“ I would have liked to have
asked him questions — how
could you not have been aware
when you actually saw what
results your contribution had?”
Thomas Walther, a lawyer for
the plaintiffs, said Groening had
merely said sorry for using words
that sur vivors found offensive.
“ He only apologised about
something he did in 2015,
namely using words from the
SS jargon so he said: ‘Sorry that
I used the wrong words, I didn’t
think it would hurt you so much’
and if I may say so, that’s
missing the point.”
It was not immediately clear
which words had caused offence.
‘can only ask God
The mercury is pushing 40degC
across much of northern Europe as a
blistering heatwave caused blackouts in
France and emergency ice-cream was
handed out to lemurs at a D utch zoo.
As the hot front continued its sweep
up from Africa, the United Nations
warned heatwaves were growing
more frequent and intense because of
climate change, and called on more
countries to put warning systems in
place to inform people of the dangers.
At the Safaripark Beekse Bergen
zoo in The Netherlands, staff had
already put their emergency procedures
in place — including ice cubes
for baboons, cold showers for the
elephants, and special meat and fruit-
flavoured ice-cream for the ring-tailed
About a million homes in western
France were left without power on
Tuesday night after the heatwave
moved in from Spain, and another
blackout struck the western Vannes
region yesterday, cutting electricity to
“At this temperature, we can’t stay on
a roof. It ’s over whelming,” said Laurent
Floux, a roofer in Paris, who got his
team working at the crack of dawn to
avoid the worst of the heat.
Many schools across Europe shifted
their start times to keep children out of
the sun’s glare.
Rotterdam’s football club Feyenoord
said it was shifting training to later in
Meanwhile in central London, public
fountains became impromptu beaches,
with parents sunbathing on benches
and children playing in the water in
their swimming costumes behind
King’s Cross station.
The first death linked to the heatwave
was reported in the British press after a
father drowned while trying to save his
young daughter cooling off in a river in
the northern Cumbria region.
The Muslim Council of Britain
warned people fasting for Ramadan
to take extra care, and said Islamic
law allowed the sick and vulnerable to
break the daytime fast during extreme
The last major hot spell in 2003
caused an estimated 70,000 deaths
in Europe — particularly among the
elderly, sick and very young.
The elderly, sick and those on certain
medications are vulnerable because
their bodies’ heat regulation system can
be impaired, leading to heatstroke.
“ Young children produce more
metabolic heat, have a decreased ability
to sweat and have core temperatures
that rise faster during dehydration,”
said Britain’s National Health Ser vice
in a report.
The UN called for heatwave warning
systems that would highlight the
health hazards and inform people what
they should do to protect themselves.
France and Belgium are among
the countries that introduced such
a system after the deadly 2003
But elsewhere, such systems are
not common, Diarmid Campbell-
Lendrum of the World Health
Organisation said, voicing concern
about places like Pakistan, where more
than 1200 people have died amid
soaring temperatures in the south of
That crisis came a month after
neighbouring India suffered its own
deadly heatwave that killed more than
2000 people. — AFP
Ice-cream for animals, blackouts for humans in heatwave
Lemurs chill out with a large fruit-filled ice block at Safaripark Beekse Bergen in Holland.
A Jerusalem family has found
a 2000-year-old Jewish ritual
bath under their house while
renovating the living room floor,
Israel’s Antiquities Authority said
Pottery vessels inside the rock-
hewn bath helped archaeologists
date the discovery to the 1st
century. The house is in the
village of Ein Karem, the
traditional birthplace of John
the Baptist and now a Jerusalem
A rug-covered trapdoor, built
into the new floor after the bath
was found, now marks the spot
where stone stairs descend into
the ancient chamber, which is
3.5m long, 2.4m wide and 1.8m
The Antiquities Authority said
that despite New Testament
references to the “City of Judea”,
believed to be where Ein Karem
is now located, archaeological
remains from Jesus’s time have
rarely been found in the village.
Renovations lead to discovery of ancient bath
Ein Karem resident Tal stands in a ritual bath that was discovered under his family’s house in
Jerusalem. The family found a 2000-year-old Jewish ritual bath under their house while renovating the
living room floor, Israel’s Antiquities Authority said.
50 years on
The United States and Cuba formally
agreed overnight to restore diplomatic
relations on July 20, setting up a trip
to Havana by John Kerry, who would
become the first US Secretary of State
to visit the country in 70 years.
Sealed by an exchange of letters
between US President Barack Obama
and Cuban President Raul Castro, the
deal fulfills a pledge the former Cold
War enemies made six months ago. It
also attempts to end the recriminations
that have predominated ever since Fidel
Castro’s rebels overthrew the US-backed
government of Fulgencio Batista on
January 1, 1959.
The letters set a date of July 20 for
the re-establishment of relations, and
embassies could be opened at that time
Kerry, speaking from Vienna, said he
would visit Havana to raise the US flag
outside the future US embassy, currently
labelled an interests section.
“The progress that we mark today is
yet another demonstration that we don’t
have to be imprisoned by the past,”
Obama said from the White House
Rose Garden. “ When something isn’t
working, we can — and will — change. ”
Obama noted that ties were severed in
the year he was born, 1961.
A long battle of subterfuge and
outright aggression followed as Cuba
closely aligned with the Soviet Union,
nearly leading to nuclear war in 1962
over Soviet missiles stationed on the
Isolating Cuba had been a foreign
policy pillar under 10 US presidents,
continuing long after the fall of the
Soviet Union in 1991. Washington’s
allies repeatedly condemned the policy,
and Obama declared it had failed to
promote democracy or improve the lives
of Cubans living in a one-party state.
“It hasn’t worked for 50 years. It shuts
America out of Cuba’s future, and it
only makes life worse for the Cuban
people,” Obama said while noting
stark differences between the two
governments would remain.
controls the media and represses political
opponents, a policy it has justified
based on US attempts to destabilise
the government and Washington’s open
support of dissidents.
Castro, 84, Fidel’s younger brother and
Cuban president since 2008, welcomed
diplomatic ties that he said should
reinforce the principles of sovereign
equality and non-interference in his
“Cuba is encouraged by the reciprocal
intention to develop respectful and
cooperative relations between our two
peoples and governments,” Castro wrote
in his letter to Obama.
Obama said the agreement would
increase US contact with ordinary
Cubans, permit a larger staff of
diplomats and grant them more freedom
of movement across the island.
Since 1977, both countries have
protected by the Swiss government.
While critics including Republican
presidential candidates have accused
Obama of capitulation, the Cuba deal
marks a major achievement for him.
Obama has been criticised for foreign
policy stumbles, especially in the Middle
Public opinion polls show majority
support for engaging with Cuba, even
among Cuban-Americans who had
historically been firm supporters of the
embargo. — Reuters
An employee-owned British coalmine
has been forced to close with the loss
of 430 jobs, following a plunge in coal
prices and the switch to renewable
energy sources, a spokesman said
The Hatfield Colliery in Yorkshire,
northern England, which opened
in 1916, was one of only three deep
coalmines remaining in operation in
Workers were told the news on
Monday and operations will be gradually
shut down over the next month.
The government had given it a £20
million ($46.53 million) subsidy to stay
open until 2016.
O’Sullivan said “market conditions”
made continued operations impractical.
“A perfect storm worked against
Hatfield, because in addition of the coal
prices falling through the floor, at the
same time gas prices have been at their
lowest for many years, which allowed
the switch to renewables,” he said.
“Adding to the complications the big
power stations in the United Kingdom
built up very large coal stocks some while
ago because they knew the government
carbon tax was going to increase in April
this year,” he said.
The carbon tax doubled earlier this
year and power stations are now “fully
stocked”, he said.
Coal from Hatfield was sold only on
the British domestic market, making it
highly dependent on purchases by major
power stations in Britain.
A final failed attempt to save the mine
from closure was backed by Ed Miliband,
the local member of parliament and
former leader of the Labour Party, who
lost out to Conser vative Prime Minister
David Cameron in a general election
Both the last remaining coalmines in
England in Kellingley, also in Yorkshire,
and Thoresby in central England, are
expected to close this year.
Britain was once one the world’s
biggest producers of coal, which powered
the Industrial Revolution.
The industry has been in decline since
the 1980s. — AFP
430 jobs lost as British coalmine closes
From revolution to restoration
The United States and Cuba formally
agreed overnight to restore diplomatic
ties that had been severed for 54 years
and to reopen embassies in each other’s
Here is a brief summary of US-Cuba
relations since Fidel Castro seized
power in a 1959 revolution. —
January 1, 1959: Cuban Revolution.
Castro and his rebel army take power
after former US-backed dictator
Fulgencio Batista flees island.
October 19, 1960: United States
begins partial economic embargo
January 3, 1961: Washington breaks
diplomatic ties with Cuba.
April 19, 1961: Castro’s troops defeat
CIA-backed Cuban exile invasion force
at Bay of Pigs.
Februar y 7, 1962: Full US trade
embargo imposed on Cuba.
October 1962: Cuban missile crisis.
The presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba
provokes stand-off between Moscow
and Washington. Many fear a nuclear
war, but Russia reaches a compromise
deal with the US and withdraws the
March 1, 1982: The US State
Department adds Cuba to its list of
State sponsors of terrorism.
December 14, 2014: US President
Barack Obama announces plan to
restore diplomatic relations in major
policy shift. He says the US will open
an embassy in Cuba and relax some of
the restrictions on commerce and travel
between the two countries. Raul Castro
praises Obama for agreeing to an
exchange of prisoners and pushing for a
new relationship with Cuba.
July 1, 2015: Obama and Raul Castro
exchange letters agreeing to reopen
embassies in each other’s capitals as
soon as July 20. The Cuban government
says that for normal overall relations,
the US must rescind its comprehensive
economic embargo, return territory
occupied by the U.S. naval base at
Guantanamo Bay and stop radio and
television broadcasts beamed into the
country. — Reuters
Tunisia identifies massacre victims
Clinton raises record
$66m for campaign
All 38 victims of the Tunisian beach
resort massacre have been formally
identified, among them 30 Britons.
On Saturday, 23-year-old student
Seifeddine Rezgui went on a bloody
rampage in Port El Kantaoui, shooting
38 foreigners with a Kalashnikov rifle
at the popular resort ’s five-star Riu
Imperial Marhaba hotel.
“All the bodies have been identified.
Among them are 30 Britons,” the health
ministry’s director of emergency ser vices,
Naoufel Somrani, said overnight.
Of the remaining victims, three were
from Ireland, two from Germany and
one each from Belgium, Portugal and
Britain was flying home the bodies
of eight nationals today, with more
repatriations expected in the coming
The three Irish victims were also set for
repatriation today, the Tunisian health
The death toll was the worst loss of life
for Britain in a jihadist attack since the
July 2005 bombings in London.
Prime Minister David Cameron has
promised to back a full investigation,
calling for “a response at home
and abroad” to violent Islamic
British police have also sent forensic
experts to Tunisia to help local teams
probing the attack.
The 25 British tourists who were
wounded have already been flown home,
while 4000 terrified holidaymakers were
repatriated at the weekend. Another
1900 are due to return home in the
coming days. — AFP
Hillary Clinton has announced
she raised a record $US45 million
($66.86 million) in the first
quarter of her US presidential
bid, putting the Democratic
frontrunner in prime financial
position in the opening months
of her 2016 campaign.
“Here’s what we know: In the
first quarter of this campaign,
supporters gave more than
$45m,” Clinton wrote in a tweet.
Final figures will be released
once her campaign files its
fundraising report in July.
Signalling successful grassroots
efforts to raise modest amounts
across a broad platform of
supporters, her campaign said
that 91% of the donations from
April through June were $US100
Clinton officially launched her
White House run on April 12.
In an overnight fundraising
e-mail, campaign manager Robby
Mook described it as “a new record
for this early in a campaign.”
It surpasses the $41.9m raised
by President Barack Obama
in 2011 at the start of his re-
election campaign, according to
The Washington Post.
The donations, capped at $2700
per individual, are to be used in
the primary race for the party’s
nomination. — AFP
Saudi prince pledges $47b to charity
Saudi tycoon Prince Alwaleed bin Talal
has promised his entire $US32 billion
($47.52 billion) fortune to charitable
projects in coming years, in one of the
biggest ever such pledges.
The overnight pledge is “maybe . . .
the first such big announcement ” of its
kind in the region, and is modelled on a
charity established by Microsoft founder
Bill Gates in the United States, the
prince told reporters.
Alwaleed said his charity “will
help build bridges to foster cultural
understanding, develop communities,
empower women, enable youth, provide
vital disaster relief and create a more
tolerant and accepting world”.
Alwaleed said he would head a board
of trustees tasked with spending the
funds, which would still be used after
his death “for humanitarian projects and
The 60-year-old magnate belongs to
the Saudi royal family and is a nephew
of King Abdullah, who died on January
In the conser vative Muslim kingdom,
Alwaleed, who holds no government
rank, is unusual for his high profile and
periodic comments about economic
“This is very much separate from
my ownership in Kingdom Holding,”
and there should be no impact on the
publicly listed company ’s share price,
Alwaleed told reporters on the 66th-
floor headquarters of the firm which he
As well as media stakes, Kingdom
Holding has interests ranging from
the Euro Disney theme park to Four
Seasons hotels and Citigroup.
Alwaleed said he announced his
pledge now, after years of preparation, to
institutionalise the process “so they can
continue after my lifetime”.
“I believe that a person should take
dramatic and drastic decisions at his
Alwaleed said, proclaiming
himself to be in good shape.
“I’m very healthy, enough to bike every
day three hours,” he said. “I assure you
my health is good.” — AFP
Hydro dams ‘disaster for wildlife’
Hydro-electric dams may cause 70% of
wildlife in the nearby area to go extinct,
according to a study that raises new
concerns about what is often touted as a
green energy source.
The study published in the journal
PLOS ONE overnight focused on how
animals in the tropical rainforest were
coping as a result of the Balbina Dam in
the central Amazon in Brazil.
The dam has helped create one of
the world’s largest hydro-electric
reser voirs, known as the Balbina Lake,
by flooding an area that used to be
continuous forest and making it into
On all but the biggest islands, the
change has meant a drastic loss of
mammals, birds and tortoises over the
past 26 years, and is likely to wipe out
nearly three quarters of all wildlife in the
region, the study found.
“ We predicted an overall local
extinction rate of more than 70% of
the 124,110 wildlife populations of the
species we studied occurring in all 3546
islands across the entire archipelago,” co-
author Carlos Peres, a researcher at the
University of East Anglia, said.
“ We found that only a few islands
larger than 475ha still contained a
diverse community of animal and bird
species, which corresponds to only 0.7%
of all islands in the reser voir,” lead author
Maira Benchimol, of the Universidade
Estadual de Santa Cruz, Bahia, Brazil,
Not only was it harder for some species
to find mates, but wildfires also exacted a
deadly toll on some of the islands during
an El Nino-driven drought in 1997 and
1998, researchers found.
Since Brazil plans to build even more
hydroelectric dams in the coming years,
researchers urged the government to
incorporate their findings into future
studies of environmental impact. —AFP
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