News In Focus: A Look At This Week’s Most Interesting Stories

A remembrance, a hostage demand, and an interesting coalition. Here’s a look at this week’s most interesting stories:

Poland:  300 Holocaust survivors returned to the Auschwitz concentration camps on 27 January to commemorate their liberation 70 years ago.  The ceremony attracted European dignitaries – including French President François Hollande, German President Joachim Gauck, Britian’s Government Secretary Eric Pickles – as well as US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Russia’s Sergei Ivanov, and kings and queens of European royalty.

With the recent spate of worldwide violence, this year’s anniversary bears special meaning – as Auschwitz’s last survivors told their stories, paid tribute to the dead, and stood once more as shining examples of human perseverance and spirit.

Kudos to the BBC, by the way, for recording this drone-shot footage of the empty grounds of Auschwitz. Reading the viewer comments on YouTube, however, shows that much of humanity has miles to go.


Japan:  Kenji Goto, a Japanese freelance journalist held hostage by the terror group ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) in Syria, now faces uncertainty of his own fate.

ISIS, an al-Qaeda offshoot, first demanded the release of Sajida al-Rishawi in exchange for Kenji’s life. (Rishawi is a convicted terrorist sentenced to death in Jordan for participating in a deadly 2005 bomb that killed 60 people.)

Then ISIS switched up their demands, saying they’d trade Muath al-Kasabeth — a Jordanian pilot captured by ISIS in December after his plane crashed during a bombing raid over Syria — for Rishawi.

The Jordan government is willing to negotiate, but its priority is Kasabeth.  The ball is again in Japan’s court to explore a new channel to bargain on the price tag for Goto’s freedom.

To learn more about ISIS, watch this FRONTLINE special:


Australia:  Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott sent his country into an uproar with his decision to knight Prince Philip, spouse of the United Kingdom’s Queen, and Australia’s former sovereign.  The Opposition ridiculed the Prime Minister for reviving an archaic custom, while Aussies questioned the wisdom of awarding the nation’s highest honor to a non-national.  But Mr. Abbott insists that Prince Philip deserves the knighthood given his contribution to Australia “throughout the Queen’s 62-year reign”.

This isn’t the first questionable move by the Prime Minister – and with dwindling support one news site has already pondered who would become the next prime minister.

To see the best of Abbott’s goofs, click below:


Greece:  Alexis Tsipras-led Syriza won a landslide victory in Greek election on Sunday.  The left-wing populist party, defiant of the European Union-imposed austerity programme, will form a new coalition government with the right-wing Independent Greeks.  Their political marriage will guarantee them a majority in the parliament – while worrying their EU brethren, who are concerned that the country will default on their debts.

Here’s Tsipras’ brief bio, courtesy of the BBC:


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Lead-In Image Courtesy of Mykhaylo Palinchak /