Home' Greymouth Star : February 20th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
8 - Thursday, February 20, 2014
Rabbi Baruch Oberlander shows how a Torah is used in a synagogue at a news conference in Budapest.
A Hungarian rabbi said he had
uncovered 103 Torah scrolls stolen from
Hungarian Jews during World War
Two and stashed in a Russian library,
adding he planned to restore and return
them to the Jewish community.
Slomo Koves, chief rabbi of
the Unified Hungarian Jewish
Congregation, said he had found the
scrolls while following up a previous
recovery of Hungarian war loot in the
Lenin Scientific Library in Nizhny
Novgorod, 400km east of Moscow.
In 2006, Russia returned to Hungary
more than 100 antique books,
including some from the 15th century,
that had been brought to the same
library in Nizhny Novgorod from the
Sarospatak Calvinist College in eastern
e Torah scrolls, which are still in
Russia, have a long way to go until
they too can be returned, not the least
because Russian authorities have just
begun to consider what to do with
them, Koves said. He said he wants
to restore them anyway, and worry
later about where they wind up in a
Koves told a press conference in a
Budapest synagogue that he had no
doubt the Torah scrolls had belonged
to Hungarian Jews, although they had
been stripped of markings that would
indicate their origins clearly.
He showed photographs and videos of
the scrolls, some of which he said were
centuries old and in poor condition.
He called it an historic find and added
that once the scrolls are restored he
would try to take them on tour around
the world, including to the United
States and Israel.
"I think it s the first time in history
when such a large collection of Judaica
with 100 Torah scrolls in one place was
discovered," Koves said.
" e fact that those scrolls are from
Hungary has a special significance
this year, which is the 70th year from
1944 when most Hungarian Jews were
deported to Auschwitz."
More than 500,000 Hungarian Jews
perished in World War Two, most
of them deported to concentration
camps in a two-month stretch in 1944.
Virtually every city in Hungary except
Budapest lost nearly all its Jews.
About 100,000 Jews, mostly in the
capital, escaped the deportations and
today Budapest is home to one of the
largest Jewish communities in Europe,
Koves told Reuters.
"For us, finding these Torah scrolls
that were connected to our forefathers
has a great significance of showing
continuity in this community," he said.
Koves said Russian restitution
law was partial to artefacts that had
belonged to religious groups or anti-
Nazi groups, so ownership of the
scrolls would not be hard to determine,
but saving the scrolls was more
important than owning them.
"For seven decades they have
been laying naked in those archives,
while their only value is for a Jewish
community to see them and use them
every day," he said.
"We have initiated talks with the
Russians, and we asked them that
before we even talk about ownership we
be allowed to restore them."
Koves said he had secured the support
of the Hungarian government and
the American State Department, and
that the regional authorities in Nizhny
Novgorod were now taking his request
to save the scrolls more seriously than
"Right now we re not speaking about
the ownership of the Torah scrolls
because for the Jewish community
that s not the most important question.
ose Torah scrolls spiritually belong to
us and no one can take it away from us.
e most important question is who is
going to use these Torah scrolls."
Hungarian rabbi uncovers stolen scrolls
Fear of wolves grips
German police reached the
accident to find what news
stories would describe as a scene
from a horror show: seven horses
on a dark highway had been
ripped to pieces by two cars. e
drivers had been badly injured.
Investigators found pieces of
auto wreckage and horse flesh
scattered around the site.
But the reason the December
accident has remained national
news for weeks has only a little
bit to do with the carnage. What
has made the accident the talk
of Germany is its suspected
cause: wolves, which reportedly
spooked the horses into the
paths of the oncoming cars.
It is difficult to capture the
fear and excitement that wolves
generate in this country. e
predator has played a role in
many a German fairytale, and
for nearly 150 years it was
considered extinct in Germany.
Now, however, wolves have
made a comeback, growing over
the past two decades to a stable
population of 35 packs, about
150 wolves in all. at has set off
a furore over whether Germany
is big enough for both people
Critics say that Germany is
too populated for a large, wild
carnivore to be allowed to roam
freely. Fans and scientists say
they are simply part of the
natural order, and signs of an
ecosystem in need of a predator.
How far apart the two
camps are is highlighted by
the December accident. e
Hunters Association of Saxony
says wolves caused the horses to
flee their pen and head onto the
"With great concern we are
following the uncontrolled spread
of the wolf," the organisation
wrote to the Interior Ministry.
Others have strong doubts that
wolves were in any way involved.
ey note that no evidence of
the presence of the animal was
found at the scene.
It is hardly the first time
Germans have voiced such fears.
One need look no further than
Grimm Brothers tales such as
Little Red Cap --- the Grimm
version of Little Red Riding
Hood --- and e Wolf and
the Seven Young Kids. In those
tales, the wolf was depicted as
voracious and dangerous.
How seriously the Germans
took the wolf threat was evident
about the time those stories were
published. In the early 19th
century, for example, Germans
organised a wolf hunt on the
Rhine River, where thousands
of "drivers" crashed through the
wilderness pushing the wolves
before them to the hunters.
Each time a region cleansed
itself of the threat, hunters
erected a "Wolfstein" or a
tombstone in the field where the
last one was killed.
e Tiger of Sabrodt was
officially the last wolf killed in
Germany, in 1904, but the animal
had been considered extinct in
the country since before the
original unification of Germany
in 1871. --- AAP
to be freed
e chief minister of an Indian State
has ordered the release of all seven people
jailed for plotting the assassination of
former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.
J Jayalalithaa, chief minister of Tamil
Nadu, announced the decision yesterday,
one day after the country s top court
lifted the death sentences on three of
those convicted over Gandhi s killing in
a 1991 suicide bomb attack.
"Considering that they have spent over
23 years in prison, the cabinet decided to
immediately release Santhan, Murugan
and Perarivalan under the powers vested
with the state government," Jayalalithaa
said, according to the Press Trust of India
news agency, after a cabinet meeting.
Jayalalithaa said she would also release
four others, including a woman, who are
serving life sentences for their roles.
Gandhi was killed by a female Tamil
suicide bomber in the southern state of
Tamil Nadu. Jayalalithaa said the cases
would be sent to the federal government
immediately for its approval of the
release. --- AAP
PICTURE: Getty Images
Police form a line against anti-government protesters in Independence Square, in Kiev, as the Trade Unions Building, which ser ved as the de facto
headquarters of the protest movement, burns behind them.
French Alps murders remain mystery
Former British prime minister Tony
Blair advised a key executive in Rupert
Murdoch s newspaper empire over phone
hacking, a London court has heard.
Blair also offered to be an "unofficial"
adviser to Murdoch and his son James
at the height of the scandal which led
to the closure of the News of the World
newspaper in July 2011.
An e-mail written by Rebekah Brooks,
then chief executive of Murdoch s British
newspaper group, News International,
described an hour-long phone call with
Blair in which he allegedly told her to
e e-mail was shown to the jury at the
end of almost four months of prosecution
arguments in the phone-hacking trial,
in which Brooks is expected to take the
stand later this week.
e 45-year-old denies charges of
conspiring to illegally access voicemails,
bribing public officials and trying to hide
evidence from police.
Brooks e-mail was addressed to James
Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch s son and
then chairman of News International.
Brooks described how Blair allegedly
told her: "Keep strong and definitely
sleeping pills. Need to have clear heads
and remember no rash short-term
He also reassured her that "it will pass.
Brooks wrote that Blair said he was
"available to you ( James Murdoch),
KRM (Rupert Murdoch) and me as
an unofficial adviser but needs to be
e e-mail also says Blair recommended
that Brooks set up an independent
inquiry to investigate senior News of the
Brooks is expected to give evidence
today when lawyers for the seven
defendants begin making their case.
She is among three defendants facing
charges of phone hacking, including her
former lover and deputy at the News of
the World, Andy Coulson, who replaced
her as editor in 2003. --- AAP
e mystery over the 2012 murders
of a British-Iraqi family and a cyclist
in the French Alps has not been
solved following the arrest of an ex-
policeman, the local prosecutor says.
e case is "not cleared up" and
"there is no obvious link" between the
48-year-old and the murders, Annecy
prosecutor Eric Maillaud told a press
e man remains in custody for
questioning, Maillaud said, adding
he was suspected of being involved in
arms trafficking with an accomplice.
Maillaud said a second person close
to the arrested man had been detained
after "trying to flee".
e ex-policeman was detained
yesterday in the first arrest in France
in the case.
Sources in the investigation had
expressed caution over his possible
involvement in the murders.
Saad al-Hilli, a 50-year-old Iraqi-
born British tourist in France, was
gunned down along with his 47-year-
old wife Iqbal and her 74-year-old
mother in a woodland car park close
to the village of Chevaline in the hills
above Lake Annecy.
e couple s two daughters sur vived,
but 45-year-old French cyclist
Sylvain Mollier was also killed after
apparently stumbling upon the scene.
Investigators had said the arrested
man bore a strong resemblance to an
identikit image released in November
of a mysterious motorcyclist seen near
where the quadruple murder occurred.
Several weapons were seized during
a raid on the man s home. --- AAP
Crackdown after Kiev chaos
Western powers are threatening
sanctions over the death of 26 people
in the worst violence since Ukraine s
independence from the Soviet Union,
pressuring President Viktor Yanukovich
to compromise with his pro-European
Yanukovitch, backed by Russia,
denounced the overnight bloodshed in
central Kiev as an attempted coup and
his security service said it had launched
a nationwide "anti-terrorist operation"
after arms and ammunition dumps were
In the western bastion of Ukrainian
nationalism, a regional assembly
declared self-rule and crowds seized
European Union leaders condemned
what they called "the unjustified use
of excessive force by the Ukrainian
authorities" and said they were urgently
preparing targeted sanctions against
officials responsible for the crackdown.
EU officials said Yanukovich himself
would not be on the list to keep channels
of dialogue open. e foreign ministers
of Germany, France and Poland will
visit him today, hours before an
emergency EU meeting to decide on the
e United States, going head to
head with Russia in a dispute heavy
with echoes of the Cold War, urged
Yanukovich to pull back riot police, call
a truce and talk to the opposition.
Neighbouring Poland s prime minister,
Donald Tusk, said Ukraine faced civil
war, even partition, if dialogue fails:
"What if no compromise is achieved?"
he asked in parliament. "We will have
anarchy and perhaps division of the state
or civil war, the beginning of which we
may now be witnessing."
Protesters have been occupying central
Kiev for almost three months since
Yanukovich spurned a far-reaching trade
deal with the EU and accepted a $15
billion Russian bailout instead.
e sprawling nation of 46 million,
with an ailing economy and endemic
corruption, is the object of a tug-of-war
at a global level between Moscow and
the west. But the struggle was played
out at close quarters, hand to hand, in
fighting through the night on Kiev s
Independence Square, or Maidan.
After night fell, fires blazed along
the barricaded front line between the
protesters and riot police but there was
no immediate sign of a repetition of
yesterday s violence.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and
Yanukovich spoke by telephone during
the night and both denounced the
events as an coup attempt, a Kremlin
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei
Lavrov blamed the west for encouraging
opposition radicals "to act outside of the
Moscow announced on Monday
it would resume stalled aid to Kiev,
pledging $2b hours before the crackdown
began. e money has not yet arrived
and a Ukrainian government source said
it had been delayed until tomorrow "for
Ukraine s hryvnia currency, flirting
with its lowest levels since the global
crash five years ago, weakened to more
than nine to the dollar for the second
time this month.
After a night of petrol bombs and
gunfire on Independence Square, a trade
union building that protest organisers
had used as a headquarters stood
blackened and gutted by fire.
Security forces occupied about a
third of the square --- the part which
lies closest to government offices and
parliament --- with protesters reinforced
their defences on the remainder of a
plaza they have dubbed Euro-Maidan .
In a statement posted on-line in the
early hours, Yanukovich said he had
refrained from using force during three
months of unrest but was being pressed
by "advisers" to take a harder line:
"Without any mandate from the people,
illegally and in breach of the constitution
of Ukraine, these politicians --- if I
may use that term --- have resorted to
pogroms, arson and murder to try to
seize power," the president said.
He declared a day of mourning for the
dead. e State security service said it
had opened an investigation into illegal
attempts by "individual politicians" to
One opposition leader, former world
champion boxer Vitaly Klitschko,
walked out of a overnight meeting
with Yanukovich, saying he could not
negotiate while blood was being spilled.
When fighting subsided at dawn, the
square resembled a battle-zone, the
ground charred by Molotov cocktails.
Helmeted young activists used pickaxes,
and elderly women their bare hands, to
dig up paving to stock as ammunition.
e Health Ministry said 26 people
were killed in fighting in the capital,
of whom 10 were police officers. A
ministry official said 263 protesters were
being treated for injuries and 342 police
officers, mainly with gunshot wounds.
e interior ministry said five of the
dead policemen were hit by identical
sniper fire in the head or neck.Journalists
saw some hardline protesters carrying
guns at the barricades.
European Council President Herman
Van Rompuy said the 28-nation EU,
at an emergency meeting today, would
impose asset freezes and visa bans on
those blamed for the bloodshed.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, on a
visit to Paris, said Washington was ready
to impose similar sanctions.
Diplomats cautioned that any sanctions
would be largely symbolic, noting that
similar Western measures had long failed
to sway or unseat the rulers of Belarus or
Zimbabwe. --- Reuters
A Victorian coalmine fire spewing
potentially toxic smoke over a nearby
town could continue to burn for another
Authorities are monitoring the air
quality in Morwell amid concerns of
high levels of carbon monoxide in the
smoke pouring from the blaze in the
Hazelwood opencast mine.
Fire Services Commissioner Craig
Lapsley said an evacuation plan was
briefly considered over the weekend, as
carbon monoxide levels spiked. But he
said not all the smoke hovering over the
town, in Victoria s east, contained high
levels of the potentially deadly gas.
"I haven t seen any triggers that
would indicate evacuation would be
required from carbon monoxide," he told
reporters in Morwell yesterday.
"We ve seen a couple of spikes but they
haven t been sustained.
"If you stood at a set of traffic lights
in Melbourne for five minutes you re
probably exposed to maybe 20 parts per
million of carbon monoxide.
"We re not seeing that. It s in the 200,
the 300, the 400 parts per million. It s
been in the tens of for short periods of
e grass fire that spread into the mine
started on February 9 and Mr Lapsley
estimated it would continue to burn for
at least a further 10 to 14 days before it
was controlled. --- AAP
Mine may burn for weeks
A self-cleaning adhesive tape inspired
by the feet of geckos has been developed
that stays sticky even on dusty surfaces.
Scientists followed nature s lead to
come up with a dry material covered in
clinging microscopic hairs.
Like a gecko s toe pads, they
automatically rid themselves of larger
dust particles through friction, while
smaller grains disappear into grooves
between the hairs.
In future, the tape could be used
as an alternative to Velcro hook and
loop fasteners, or to produce first aid
bandages that can be opened and closed
several times, say the researchers.
It took scientists many years to figure
out how geckos are able to scurry up
vertical walls and even hang upside
down from ceilings. e lizards employ
no glue or suction devices.
Instead, millions of tiny hairs on each
toe exploit an electrical quantum effect
that maintains a firm grip even on
Molecules and atoms exert a weak
attraction when they are brought
extremely close together due to Van der
Waals forces which involve the random
movement of electrons. Because of the
large number of microhairs on its feet,
the gecko is able to amply the effect until
it greatly outweighs gravity. --- AAP
Geckos inspire sticky tape
Colorado Governor John Hicken-
looper has announced a plan to start
spending nearly $US100 million
($NZ12million) in marijuana tax money,
in the first sign of how much Colorado
is reaping from recreational pot sales.
e governor announced plans
yesterday to spend $S99m next fiscal
year on six priorities.
ey include $45.5m for youth use
prevention, $40.4m for substance
abuse treatment and $12.4m for public
e money comes from a 10% sales tax
on recreational pot sales, which began
ursday is the first deadline for
Colorado retail pot shop to report
January sales taxes.
An additional 15% pot excise tax
already is designated for school
e governor s pot tax proposal must
be approved by the state legislature.
Pot tax spending plan unveiled
A leopard has killed a five-year-old boy
in central India in what is thought to be
the beast s second such deadly attack.
e animal attacked the boy in the
evening while he was going to the toilet in
the courtyard of his home in Mendrapara
village in Chhattisgarh State, senior
district police officer Vijay Pandey said.
His family raised the alarm after seeing
the animal drag the boy away, sparking
a search by villagers who discovered the
body, Pandey said.
He said the same beast killed a 10-year-
old boy in December near Ram Tekri
village in the same area, and was also
believed to have attacked livestock.
" e forest department has already
launched a massive hunt to capture the
leopard," he said. --- AAP
Killer leopard takes boy
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