The Auschwitz concentration camp, one of the most haunting symbols of the horrors of Nazism, is today a firm fixture on the tourist trail. Thousands of people, including many school children, visit each year to learn about the gas chambers that were part of the Nazi's "final solution". This despite the fact that from the summer of 1942 "information about the massacres of the Jews in territory occupied by the German army was complete," said French historian Georges Bensoussan. Governments at the time have been accused of turning a blind eye to the Nazi death camps.
By P.J. Huffstutter CHICAGO (Reuters) - U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has directed agency staff to create and deliver an updated Animal Welfare Strategy plan within 60 days, according to an internal email reviewed by Reuters. The emailed memo from Chavonda Jacobs-Young, head of the agency's Agricultural Research Service, was sent to all Animal Research Service employees on Friday afternoon in response to recent media reports over controversial animal welfare conditions at its U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Nebraska. The new strategy will include updated training for government employees and others who work with animals in the service's research labs, according to the email. In addition, an independent panel will be convened to review the group's animal handling protocols, policies and research practices.
By Lawrence Hurley WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to review Oklahoma’s method of execution by lethal injection, taking up a case brought by three death row inmates who accuse the state of violating the U.S. Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The high court just last week allowed the execution of a convicted killer to go ahead in Oklahoma over the objection of its four liberal members. The three-drug process used by Oklahoma prison officials for carrying out the death penalty has been widely debated since the April 2014 botched execution of inmate Clayton Lockett, a convicted murder. The inmates challenging the state’s procedures argue that the sedative used by Oklahoma, midazolam, cannot achieve the level of unconsciousness required for surgery and was therefore unsuitable for executions.
(Reuters) - Moody's Investors Service slashed Atlantic City's credit rating six notches deeper into junk territory on Friday, a day after New Jersey Governor Chris Christie appointed an emergency manager with a mandate to consider a debt restructuring. Atlantic City has about $344 million of long-term debt outstanding. Moody's dropped the city's general obligation rating to Caa1, down from Ba1, indicating that the credit rating agency thinks there is a substantial risk of default over the next five years. The order from Christie to consider a restructuring also marks a "rapid, dramatic" change from the usually strong oversight New Jersey provides its local governments, including the requirement that they pay their bond debts, Moody's said.
By Barbara Goldberg NEW YORK (Reuters) - Up to 8 inches of snow is expected to fall over parts of the Northeast this weekend, and a wintry mix could make for a messy Monday morning commute in New York, Boston and other cities, the National Weather Service said on Friday. Rhode Island, parts of Connecticut and central Massachusetts were expected to be hit the hardest from twin snowstorms, beginning Friday evening and followed by a second storm late Sunday. "Bring it on!" said Tom Meyers, spokesman for Wachusett Mountain Ski Area in Princeton, Massachusetts, about 50 miles west of Boston. The weather service said the same system that brought heavy snow to the southern Plains would bring a wintry mix to the mid-Atlantic and New England at the start of the weekend.
By David Beasley ATLANTA (Reuters) - One of two lawsuits involving the children of the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. has been dropped, possibly signaling a thaw in their tense relations as they continue to fight over the sale of his Bible and Nobel Peace Prize. Bernice King said in a statement late Thursday that her father's estate had voluntarily dropped its August 2013 lawsuit against the non-profit Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, which she heads. King's sons, Dexter King and Martin Luther King III, acting as majority board members of their father’s estate, had sought to revoke the center’s right to use King's name and image unless Bernice King was removed as CEO. Bernice King said the estate's decision to drop the suit vindicated the King Center's position on its licensing rights and offered a promising sign that the feud pitting the children against one another was on the road toward reconciliation.
By Richard Weizel MILFORD, Conn. (Reuters) - Gunmaker Remington won a bid to move a lawsuit by families of the victims of the Sandy Hook school massacre from state to federal court, officials said on Thursday. The move could help Remington by taking the suit out of the hands of a state system that might be influenced by local issues, said Timothy Lytton, a professor at Albany Law School. "The defendants must believe they have a better chance of stopping the lawsuit in federal court than in state court," he said, adding that federal courts have a track record of rejecting gun manufacturer liability cases. Ten families of the victims of the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, filed suit in state court in December against Remington, owner of Bushmaster Firearms International, which manufactured the AR-15 rifle used in the attack.
The mother of one of the Japanese men being held by Islamist militants on Friday urged the Tokyo government to pay the jihadists' $200 million ransom and pleaded that her son's life be spared. As the extremists' deadline passed, there was no news from the prime minister's office on the fate of Kenji Goto, a freelance journalist, or Haruna Yukawa, the self-employed contractor who he had gone to rescue from the clutches of extremists. Reporters waiting for any announcement on the two men's fate said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe looked tired and drawn as he rushed from one committment to the next. Hours earlier, Junko Ishido launched an emotional appeal for mercy for Goto, her son.