World and Nation

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New Accusations Are Raised About Firing in Jewish Group

The controversy surrounding the World Jewish Congress, the tiny nonprofit organization that won billions for Holocaust survivors, continued this week, as its chief patron, Edgar M. Bronfman, accused its former leader, Israel Singer, of misusing funds and concealing "significant information."

"I learned that a man I called my rabbi, my friend and even my son had undermined the very principles of morality and integrity we fought together to preserve around the world," Bronfman, the group's president, wrote in a March 30 letter to World Jewish Congress affiliates in Europe and elsewhere. The letter also accused Singer of spending the organization's money for his personal use and of lying to Bronfman.

Singer's lawyer, Stanley S. Arkin, denied the accusations in the letter. "The allegations, in so far as a claim that he did anything which was morally or legally wrong, are themselves dead wrong," Arkin said.

He said any World Jewish Congress money Singer used was for the purposes of the organization.

"You have to understand that this was not a company that kept pristine books," he said. "In many ways, the WJC was a powerful, kind of unique operation that was the spirit and energy of Israel Singer and the money and status of Edgar Bronfman."

Bronfman's announcement last month that he had fired Singer upset some Jewish leaders, and Bronfman wrote that his latest letter was aimed at responding to their concerns.

British Envoy and Palestinian Premier Discuss Abducted Reporter

A senior British diplomat met with the Palestinian prime minister in Gaza on Thursday to discuss the fate of a kidnapped BBC correspondent, Alan Johnston.

It was the first meeting between a senior Hamas official and an official European Union envoy since the new Palestinian unity government was formed in mid-March. European Union countries, along with the United States and Israel, have said they would not deal with Hamas because they consider it a terrorist group.

The meeting on Thursday between the Palestinian prime minister, Ismail Haniya of Hamas, and the diplomat, Richard Makepeace, the British consul-general in Jerusalem, was described by a British diplomat as having taken place on "humanitarian grounds" and not as a change of policy.

Israeli officials were initially critical, saying the meeting could send the wrong message to Hamas. "This undermines our policy and opens the door to further abductions," Reuters quoted one Israeli official as saying.

Group Urges Investors Not to Back N.Y. Times Co. Board

An independent corporate advisory group is urging shareholders of The New York Times Co. to withhold their support for board members to pressure the company over dissatisfaction with its performance and ownership structure.

The recommendation, from Institutional Shareholder Services, raised the likelihood that The Times Co. could face another rebuke from shareholders at its annual meeting on April 24. At last year's meeting, a group of investors including Morgan Stanley Investment Management withheld roughly 30 percent of their votes for company directors.

At issue is The Times Co.'s dual structure of stock ownership, which gives members of the Ochs-Sulzberger family control of the company. The family, whose ancestor Adolph S. Ochs acquired The New York Times in 1896, holds 89 percent of the Class B stock. Class B shareholders elect nine members of the board, while Class A shareholders — the shares owned by the general public and institutional investors like Morgan Stanley — elect the remaining four.

For that reason, withholding votes for directors would be a largely symbolic gesture. However, if the disgruntled shareholders withhold more than 28 percent, it would be seen as a further admonishment of the company's management. The report also criticized the company for combining the roles of chairman and publisher.

Is Romney a Hunter? Depends on What Hunt Is

In seeking their support for his presidential campaign, Mitt Romney has struggled over the last few months to reassure Republican conservatives that he is one of them.

When asked on Tuesday about his stance on guns, Romney, as he had in the past, portrayed himself as a sportsman, a "hunter pretty much all my life," who strongly supported a right to bear arms.

He even trotted out some remembrances, recalling that in hunting with his cousins as a teenager, he struggled to kill rabbits with a single-shot .22-caliber rifle. When they lent him a semiautomatic, it got a lot easier, he said, drawing laughs from an appreciative crowd in Keene, N.H. The last time he went hunting, he said, was last year, when he shot quail in Georgia and "knocked down quite a few birds."

"So I've been pretty much hunting all my life," he said again.

But on Wednesday, The Associated Press reported that Romney had in fact been hunting only twice: once during that summer when he was 15 and spending time at a relative's ranch in Idaho, and again on the occasion last year, a quail shoot at a fenced-in game preserve in Georgia with major donors to the Republican Governors Association.

On Thursday, with Romney facing reporters' repeated questions about the AP account, his campaign was forced to address his hunting resume. A campaign spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom, said Romney had gone hunting repeatedly during his teenage summer at the ranch. Romney has also shot small game on his Utah property, said Fehrnstrom, who added that he did not know how often.