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Travel to Israel discouraged by U.S. State Department

Sat., April 9, 2005

Washington The State Department cautioned Americans on Thursday to reconsider any plan to travel to Israel, to defer unnecessary travel to the West Bank and to avoid Gaza entirely.

While terrorist attacks have declined, the potential for further violence remains high, the department said in a travel warning.

Resentment against efforts to promote peace and ongoing Israeli military operations on the West Bank and in Gaza could incite violence, the statement said.

The planned evacuation of Jewish settlers from Gaza this summer could prompt settler groups to hold demonstrations that could turn violent, the department said.

Without providing any details, the warning said the U.S. government has received information that indicates American “interests” within Israel could be the focus of terrorist attacks.

Rain clears up ash on Saipan

Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands Overnight rain washed away a dusting of ash from Anatahan Volcano, which continued to erupt on an uninhabited island just north of this tiny U.S. territory in the Pacific, authorities said Friday.

“We had a pretty good rain last night,” which dissolved the ash that had settled on the capital island of Saipan, said Benjamin Cepeda, a public information officer with the commonwealth’s Emergency Management Office.

The volcano on Anatahan Island erupted Wednesday morning, sending a plume of ash 50,000 feet into the air.

“The eruption didn’t stop. But it has slowed down,” said Juan Takai Camacho, a geophysical seismic technician with the emergency management office.

The eruption is at least the fourth in the past two years. The Northern Mariana Islands, about 3,800 miles southwest of Hawaii, have nine active volcanoes. They are home to about 70,000 people.

Stolen Picasso painting recovered

Paris Police found a Pablo Picasso painting hidden at a drug trafficker’s home outside Paris nearly a year after it was stolen from one of the city’s best known museums, officials said Friday.

The Pompidou Center said an inventory check in May revealed that the oil-on-canvas “Nature Morte a la Charlotte,” painted in 1924, was missing from a warehouse where it was awaiting restoration.

Investigators located the painting Tuesday hidden behind an armoire at the family home of a drug trafficker in Antony, south of Paris, said Catherine Driguet, a police spokeswoman.

The painting had been stolen by another drug trafficker who gave it for safe keeping to his friend, identified only as Robert, Driguet said. Robert is currently in prison for drug trafficking.

The suspected thief, also a drug trafficker who was not identified, was given access to the warehouse by a security guard who took drugs, according to the police official.

The painting, which police said was worth some $3.2 million, was returned to the Pompidou Center on Friday.

“The painting is not damaged,” Driguet said. “It needs a little cleaning, but that’s all.”

Court: Berlin Wall replica must go

Berlin A partial replica of the Berlin Wall at the former Checkpoint Charlie border crossing must be torn down, along with 1,065 crosses commemorating people who were killed trying to escape former communist East Germany, a court ruled Friday.

The head of a private group that put up the memorial at the former east-west crossing in downtown Berlin said she would appeal.

“We will not give up responsibility for this historic place,” said Alexandra Hildebrandt, who heads a Checkpoint Charlie museum.

The museum put up the crosses and the rebuilt concrete barrier on leased land. The lease expired at the end of last year and the bank that owns the land has sued to have the memorial removed.

East Germany’s communist regime built the Wall in 1961 to keep citizens from fleeing to the West through then-West Berlin. It fell on Nov. 9, 1989, in the popular uprising that peacefully toppled the communist regime, which enforced shoot-to-kill orders at the Wall and elsewhere on the east-west German border.

Whistled anthem in film costly

Paris “The Internationale,” the rousing workers’ anthem adopted by communists and socialists from France to China, has turned out to be a pricey tune.

French movie director Jean-Christophe Soulageon is being asked to pay $1,283 because the song was whistled without permission in his 2004 film “Insurrection Resurrection,” the daily Le Monde reported Friday.

The organization that watches over intellectual and artistic property in France sent a letter to the filmmaker explaining that one of its inspectors heard the whistling at a Paris theater, Le Monde reported.

Soulageon neglected to formally notify officials he had used the song in his film, the newspaper reported. The 19th-century revolutionary hymn was written by Eugene Pottier in 1871 and set to music by another Frenchman, Pierre Degeyter, in 1888.

Under French law, “The Internationale” won’t fall into the public domain until 2014 – 70 years of post-mortem protection plus extra time to cover the world war. Degeyter died in 1932.

Degeyter spent years obtaining the musical rights in court but died poor, despite the fact “The Internationale” was – and still is – sung at leftist political rallies around the world.

A final irony: “Insurrection Resurrection” hardly paid its own way, opening briefly in a single Paris theater and selling just 203 tickets, Le Monde reported.

Score possibly by Mozart scrutinized

Vienna, Austria The Musikverein, one of Europe’s most prestigious concert houses, is investigating whether it has discovered a previously unknown score by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, state television reported Wednesday.

Using high-tech equipment and archival research, international experts are examining note sheets that bear his name to determine if they are authentic.

“Some things are for it and some against it,” Otto Biba, archive director of the Society of Musical Friends of Vienna, was quoted by state television as saying.

The Musikverein, traditionally a showcase for classical performances, was not immediately available for comment. It did not say how the note sheets were discovered.

The experts hope to deliver their assessment by next year. Austria has designated 2006 as a year of festivities to mark the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth.

Biba insisted the discovery had nothing to do with the upcoming celebrations.

“This is in no way a gag for Mozart year,” Biba said.


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