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June 5, 2009 at 10:00 PM
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Obama: Buchenwald 'ultimate rebuke'

DRESDEN, Germany, June 5 (UPI) -- The Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany is the "ultimate rebuke" to Holocaust deniers and reminds others to dispel lies, U.S. President Barack Obama said.

"To this day, there are those who insist that the Holocaust never happened -- a denial of fact and truth that is baseless and ignorant and hateful," Obama said Friday during a visit to the camp with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Eli Wiesel. "This place is the ultimate rebuke to such thoughts, a reminder of our duty to confront those who would tell lies about our history."

About 56,000 people, mainly Jews, were worked as slaves or killed in gas chambers at the former concentration camp during World War II.

"This place teaches us that we must be ever-vigilant about the spread of evil in our own time, that we must reject the false comfort that others' suffering is not our problem," Obama said, "and commit ourselves to resisting those who would subjugate others to serve their own interests."

Words are inadequate to convey what is felt when seeing "the suffering inflicted so cruelly upon so many people" at concentration and extermination camp during World War II, Merkel said.

"We, the Germans, are faced with the agonizing question how and why, how could this happen, how could Germany wreak such havoc in Europe and the world?" she said. "It is therefore incumbent upon us Germans to show an unshakable resolve to do everything we can so that something like this never happens again."

Wiesel, who was liberated from Buchenwald, said the concentration camp provided a memory "of bringing people together."

"Memory must bring people together, rather than set them apart ... not to sow anger in our hearts, but on the contrary, a sense of solidarity with all those who need us," he said.

Obama and Merkel conducted bilateral talks on a range of subjects before visiting Buchenwald.

Obama, who arrived in Paris late Friday, is scheduled Saturday to mark the 65th anniversary of D-Day -- June 6, 1944, when Allied forces invaded Europe in the campaign to defeat Adolf Hitler.

Couple accused of spying for Cuba

WASHINGTON, June 5 (UPI) -- A former U.S. State Department official and his wife have been arrested on charges of spying for Cuba for nearly 30 years, the Justice Department said Friday.

Walter Kendall Myers, 72, allegedly known as "Agent 202" to Cuban officials, and his wife, Gwendolyn Steingraber Myers, 71, allegedly known to Cuban officials as "Agent 123" and "Agent E-634," were indicted on charges of conspiracy to spy for the Cuban government and passing along classified information, an indictment and criminal complaint unsealed Friday in Washington said.

FBI agents arrested the Myers Thursday and the Washington couple made their first appearance in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Friday.

"The clandestine activity alleged in the charging documents, which spanned nearly three decades, is incredibly serious and should serve as a warning to any others in the U.S. government who would betray America's trust by serving as illegal agents of a foreign government," said David Kris, assistant attorney general for national security.

The affidavit said Kendall Myers, who had top secret clearance, traveled to Cuba in December 1978 after being invited by an official at the Cuban mission to the United States in New York. This trip allegedly provided the Cuban Intelligence Service a chance to assess or develop Myers as a Cuban agent.

The Cuban mission official contacted the Myers six months later, when they couple agreed to act as spies. Kendall Myers retired in 2007, officials allege.

The FBI launched an undercover operation in April 2009 to convince the couple they had been contacted by a Cuban intelligence officer and to ascertain the scope of their activities for the Cuban Intelligence Service, the affidavit said.

Among other things the FBI source allegedly learned from the Myers was how they transferred material to Cuban operatives and how careful they were to avoid arousing suspicion, the department said.

"Any compromise of classified information is a serious threat to the security of our nation, and the State Department will aggressively investigate any such activity to the fullest extent possible," Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Eric J. Boswell said.

U.S. to probe Tiller slaying

WICHITA, Kan., June 5 (UPI) -- A federal investigation into the shooting death of abortion provider, Dr. George Tiller, is under way, the U.S. Justice Department said Friday.

The department's Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Kansas began the probe into possible federal crimes in the death of Tiller, who was shot and killed May 31 at the Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, Kan., the Justice Department said in a news release.

Scott Roeder, 51, was arrested and charged in the shooting.

Among other things, the federal probe will include a review of the evidence and an assessment of any potential violations of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, the department said. The federal investigation will be coordinated with the Sedgwick County, Kan., district attorney.

Meanwhile, members of a Kansas church will attend Tiller's funeral Saturday to offer religious warnings, a protester told USA Today.

Shirley Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., said 18 members of the church will be on hand at the service. Other abortion opponents said protesting Tiller's funeral would be ill-advised.

"It would be morally reprehensible if anybody shows up" to protest, Operation Rescue President Troy Newman said. Newman's group staged protests at Tiller's abortion clinic.

Phelps' organization is best known for staging demonstrations at funerals of U.S. military personnel, claiming that military deaths are God's punishment for U.S. acceptance of homosexuality.

Death sentence in wildfire that killed 5

RIVERSIDE, Calif., June 5 (UPI) -- A Southern California auto mechanic was sentenced to death Friday for setting a wildfire that killed a U.S. Forest Service firefighting crew in 2006.

Raymond Lee Oyler, 38, heard the penalty pronounced in a hearing in Riverside Superior Court, The Contra Costa Times reported. Judge W. Charles Morgan said he had no reason to override the recommendation the jury rendered in March.

Oyler was found guilty March 6 of five counts of first-degree murder and 37 other felonies for setting the Esperanza fire in the San Jacinto Mountains and other arsons. Two weeks later, the jury recommended the death penalty.

During the Friday hearing, relatives of the five firefighters spoke of their loss.

"It's never going to end for us," said Gloria Ayala, mother of Daniel Hoover-Najera, weeping as she addressed the judge.

Heather Oyler, 22, said she believed in her father's innocence.

The October 2006 fire spread across 41,000 acres. The firefighters who died were overrun by flames as they tried to protect a house -- three of them were killed immediately and the others died at a hospital.

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