Obama inspires fight against racism
PARIS | Inspired by Barack Obama, the French first lady and other leading figures say it’s high time for France to stamp out racism and shake up a white political and social elite that smacks of colonial times.
A manifesto published Sunday - subtitled “Oui, nous pouvons,” the French translation of Obama’s campaign slogan “Yes, we can” - urges affirmative action-like policies and other steps to turn French ideals of equality into reality for millions of blacks, Arabs and other alienated minorities.
Nations across Europe rejoiced over Mr. Obama’s victory, seeing it as a triumph for American democracy and a world weary of President Bush. But Mr. Obama’s election also illustrated an uncomfortable truth: how far European countries with big minority populations have to go in getting nonwhites into positions of power.
Grass-roots groups in France and Britain are trying to turn Mr. Obama’s election into electoral gains for minorities at home. Sunday’s manifesto suggests that France’s elites are taking notice, too.
Mr. Obama is extremely popular in France, yet blacks and other minorities are nearly invisible in national or local politics here. The lower house of Parliament has 555 members from the French mainland; just one is black.
Libya cash sent to terror victims
SHANNON | The U.S. said Sunday that it has begun transferring more than $500 billion in Libyan compensation money to the families of American victims of the 1988 Pan Am 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland.
More money is on the way to complete the settlement, but $504 million of $536 million to be distributed was moved from the Treasury to a private account administered by Lockerbie families’ lawyers on Friday, the top U.S. diplomat for the Mideast said.
David Welch said he expected the rest of the Lockerbie payments would be made soon as soon as administrative details were worked out.
The cash comes from a $1.5 billion fund for U.S. victims of Libya-linked terrorism in the 1980s that Libya finished paying into last month.
In addition to paying compensation for the Lockerbie victims, the fund will distribute an additional $283 million to the victims and families of victims of a 1986 attack on a Berlin disco. The remainder will go to settle claims for other deaths, injuries and damage caused by Libyan agents.
Vigil honors victims of Nazi-era pogrom
BERLIN | “We must not be silent” about condemning anti-Semitism, German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared Sunday as Germany and Israel commemorated the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Nazi-incited riots against Jews.
With concerts, prayers and ceremonies, participants vowed to honor Kristallnacht victims with renewed vigilance. The riots are seen by many as the first step leading to the Nazis’ systematic murder of 6 million Jews in the Holocaust.
Mrs. Merkel recalled the Nov. 9, 1938, riots in which more than 91 German Jews were killed and more than 1,000 synagogues damaged, telling Germans that the lessons of the nation’s past were crucial in confronting a current increase in xenophobia and racism.
At Israel’s weekly Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Kristallnacht - which means night of the broken glass - was “the turning point toward the inevitable destruction of a greater portion of the Jewish people in Europe between 1939 and 1945,” adding that Israel “will never forgive or forget” the crimes of the Nazi regime.
Some 30,000 Jewish men and boys were arrested and sent to concentration camps during the pogrom that left the streets of Germany littered with shards of glass from the smashed windows of Jewish homes and shops. From wire dispatches and staff reports