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Dutch government offers first apology for WWII persecution of Jews

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Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Sunday made the Netherlands’ first government apology for the war-time persecution of Jews.

“Now the last survivors are still with us, I apologise today in the name of the government for what the authorities did at that time,” Rutte said.

He was giving an address in Amsterdam in memory of victims of the Holocaust on the eve of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz.

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Only 38,000 of the 140,000 Jews who lived in the Netherlands survived World War II, but no government apology had been offered for the role the authorities played.

The question of an apology was raised in 2012 when Rutte was also prime minister. He said then that not enough information was available about government action during the war and there was “not broad enough support” for an official apology.

In 1995, Queen Beatrix said in a speech to the Israeli parliament that the Dutch had done enough to help their Jewish compatriots during the war.

In 2000, then prime minister Wim Kok apologised for the “icy welcome” Nazi camp survivors received on their return to the Netherlands, which the Nazis occupied from 1940-1945.

– ‘A pity we had to wait’ –

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On Sunday, Rutte went further saying: “Our government institutions did not act as guardians of justice and security. Too many civil servants carried out the orders of the occupiers.

“The bitter consequences of the drawing up of registers (of Jews) and of the expulsions have not been adequately recognised, nor recognised in time,” Rutte added.

“On the whole, it was too little too late. Too little protection. Too little help. Too little recognition.”

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“Seventy-five years after Auschwitz, anti-Semitism is still amongst us. That’s exactly why we fully recognise what happened and say it out loud,” Rutte said.

A number of Holocaust survivors were present at the ceremony to hear Rutte’s apology.

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“I lost everything during the war,” said Zoni Weisz, in comments to Dutch broadcaster NOS.

Weisz, who was a child during the war, lost his parents, brother and sisters, all of whom perished in the Nazi death camps.

“They cannot have died in vain,” said the 82-year-old. “In this respect, it is important that apologies be made. And for myself, I accepted them.

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“A pity we had to wait 75 years,” he added.

Holocaust survivors will gather in Auschwitz on Monday to mark 75 years since Soviet troops liberated the camp, while world leaders held a sombre remembrance ceremony in Jerusalem last Thursday.

More than 1.1 million people, mainly Jews, were killed at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

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Trump tapping social media ‘clown’ Grenell to lead intelligence agencies even has Trump allies concerned: MSNBC’s Morning Joe

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MSNBC's Joe Scarborough walloped President Donald Trump's pick for acting director of national intelligence.

The president tapped controversial German ambassador Richard Grenell to oversee the all 17 intelligence agencies, despite having no experience in intelligence or running a large bureaucracy -- among other disqualifying characteristics.

"People that know Grenell do say that he lacks intelligence, he lacks discretion, he lacks knowledge of the subject," Scarborough said. "He especially lacks judgment."

"His role as ambassador in Germany was disastrous by all accounts," Scarborough added, "and the largest German newspaper said this of him: 'Grenell is vain, narcissistic, he dishes out aggressively but can barely handle criticism. His brash demeanor hides a deep insecurity. Grenell knows little about Germany and Europe, and that his knowledge of the subject matter is superficial.'"

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Congress fixes – just a bit – the unpopular, ‘unfair’ rule that stopped injured service members from suing for damages

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Members of the military who have long been barred by law from collecting damages from the federal government for injuries off the battlefield will finally be able to do so after Congress stepped in to amend the law.

The legislation represents progress for injured service members – but still limits who among them may press for damages.

Up until the end of World War II, the U.S. government enjoyed “sovereign immunity,” a vestige of British rule when “the king could do no wrong” and the government could not be sued.

But in 1946, faced with the prospect of World War II veterans returning from the front only to be hit and killed in an accident on base, Congress enacted the Federal Tort Claims Act. Congress felt that it was only fair to allow people to recover damages for personal injury from the government when the government was negligent or irresponsible about caring for people’s safety.

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2020 Election

Minnesota pastor leads campaign to try to shift evangelical vote away from Trump

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MINNEAPOLIS — The Rev. Doug Pagitt jumped on stage at his former Minneapolis church with a message that he and his entourage are repeating across the country: Evangelical voters, you can stay true to your Christian faith but not vote for President Donald Trump.Their “Vote Common Good” campaign, conducted from a bright orange bus making stops at every Democratic state primary, represents the small cracks in the evangelical base that helped propel Trump into office. More than 80% of white evangelical Christians voted for Trump in 2016, and continue to support him in his bid for reelection.Pagitt... (more…)

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