Ex-GI Keeps U.S. Debt in Check

World War II veteran Ben Kamin’s last wish was to do something for his country. When he died last year at age 71, he left a will declaring that his estate be turned over to the U.S. government to apply to the national debt. In keeping with Kamin’s bequest, Cook County Circuit Judge Benjamin E. Novoselsky presented a check for $271,956.38 to Assistant U.S. Atty. Nancy K. Needles in Chicago. Novoselsky, presiding judge of the county’s Probate Division, described Kamin as “a very valiant ex-GI who loved this country.” The donation was reportedly the largest of its kind in American history. Transfer of the money was delayed until the Treasury Department provided written assurance that it would be used solely for reducing the national debt--now more than $2.1 trillion. Kamin’s only surviving relative, his brother Albert, decided not to contest the will.

--Fresh from six weeks of living on the streets of the nation’s capital, Beulah Lund returned to her 165-acre farm in Deer Park, Wash., full of “gripes, grudges and consternation against the system.” The 50-year-old mother of three dressed in rags and carried $2 wrapped in a wool sock as she wandered among the homeless, sleeping in a tattered sleeping bag in shelters and in bushes. She wanted to experience their plight firsthand, and what she saw shocked her. “There’s a misconception that the people on the streets want to be there. That’s the furthest thing from the truth,” she said. “These people are there either because of their own mistake or a mistake of the system.” Lund, who called home every day to let her family know she was all right, had sharpened scissors held to her throat and was attacked in the shadow of the FBI building. She said she chose the streets of Washington because it “represents a lot to me. It’s where the rights of human beings and individuals are upheld.” But her experience disillusioned her. “I feel the government is shirking its responsibility,” she said.

--Today may be Halloween to ghosts and goblins, but to witches it’s New Year’s Day. According to Laurie Cabot, “the official witch of Salem, Mass.,” Samhain is the beginning of the new year in the ancient Celtic religion practiced by witches. “We celebrate by doing rituals, like the magic circle,” said Cabot, who will lead Salem’s 2,000 witches in their celebration. “We dress up as what we want to become in the New Year--never scary or ugly things.” Because it is harvest time, “we go around from house to house to taste every family’s harvest. That’s the origin of ‘trick or treat'--but there are no tricks.”