The Week That Was

The Week That Was

May 20 2002
The Week That Was

The Week That Was

May 20 2002

The Week That Was

The continuing search for Osama bin Laden

Canadian troops climbed towering cliffs, crawled inside dark and threatening caves and dug up decomposing bodies in an exhausting effort to find the remains of Osama bin Laden. More than 300 Canadians, along with U.S. special forces and local Afghan fighters, carried out the three-day sweep across eastern

Afghanistan, combing through the terrorist leader’s last known bastion for evidence that the alQaeda chief may have been killed during U.S. bombing last December.

In a graveyard in one river-valley village, the Canadians exhumed the bodies of 23 al-Qaeda fighters.

One grave in particular, very long

{bin Laden is six-foot-five) and covered with flags and pieces of quartz, raised hopes that the terrorist leader had been found.

The corpses, wrapped in shrouds, were pulled out by rope, and tissue samples were taken for possible identification. The bodies were then carefully reburied, but bin Laden’s was not among them.

“We believe these were bin Laden’s lieutenants,” said Capt. Philip

Nicholson, a staff officer from Kingston, Ont.

In another part of eastern Afghanistan, meanwhile, a 1,000strong British-led contingent conducting a sweep of the area discovered four caves that had been used by al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters. The caves, sealed by padlocked metal doors, contained anti-tank and anti-aircraft ammunition.

Passing the buck

Ordered to answer questions under oath about the case of pedophile priest John Geoghan, Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston said he had turned the matter over to his aides. In a question-and-answer session with lawyers for 86 people who claim Geoghan molested them,

the cardinal said he deferred to his advisers when he allowed Geoghan to be reassigned after complaints against him. Law has been under extreme pressure to step down because of the Geoghan case and other instances of alleged pedophiles being shifted from parish to parish. One of those, Paul Shanley,

last week pleaded not guilty to charges of repeatedly raping a boy in the 1980s. Meanwhile, another former Boston-area priest, Ronald H. Paquin, was charged with sexual abuse. Officials said the case involved more than 50 incidents with a preteen boy between 1990 and 1992.

Leaving home

Myanmar's military junta released opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi after 19 months of house arrest.The move, which came as a result of secret talks launched by a UN special envoy in October, 2000-a month after Suu Kyi’s latest detention-raised hopes that

the government may loosen Its hold on power. Myanmar has been under military control since 1962. Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, was also under house arrest from 1990 to 1995.

Panda power

In one corner were The Rock, Hollywood Hulk Hogan and Stone Cold Steve Austin. Who could possibly beat those thick-necked wrestling warriors? Surely not the furry figure in the other corner. But in a battle royal over use of the initials WWfÿThe Panda won In a smackdown. A British court recently ruled that the moniker belongs to the World Wildlife Fund-which trademarked its name in 1961— rather than the World Wrestling Federation, which applied in 1989. Last week, the musclemen and women said they would rename themselves World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., orWWE, with a WW logo. With customary cheek, some TV performers wore WW T-shirts reading “Get the ‘F’ out.”

Deadly mail

Luke Helder, a student at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, was charged in connection with rural mailbox pipe-bombings that injured six people across five states.

The FBI said Helder, 21, described as “sweet” and “laid-back” by some students and professors at the university, had confessed to planting 18 bombs. He was captured on May 7 in Nevada after his father had alerted authorities to a disturbing letter he received from his son.

First, Manhattan

According to documents cited in the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit, Kaiser Wilhelm II ordered detailed plans drawn up for an invasion of the United States a century ago. Striving for worldpower status, the emperor and his admirals developed scenarios for assaults on New York, Boston and other cities, in what would have been a bid to destroy American sea power. The documents were discovered in the southwestern

German city of Freiburg. Numerous experts last week labelled the plan and the Kaiser as “crazy."

‘Non’ to English

Quebec is closing a loophole in its language laws that has allowed some immigrant families to get their children into English-language public schools. Under the current legislation, children of Immigrants must be educated in French, but some wealthier immigrants have gained access to the English system by first sending their children to private English-language schools. Quebec will amend the law to disallow that in time for the new school year.

Crime and parole

In a case that has once again put the National Parole Board under fire, Conrad Brassard, 54, was charged with armed sexual assault and murder in the death this spring of Cécile Clément of Trois Rivieres, Que.-only three months after he was released on parole. Brassard has a lengthy history of violence: in 1971, he was convicted of murder, then convicted of attempted murder after escaping from prison in 1982, and convicted in 1988 of yet another attempted murder while out on parole. Solicitor General Lawrence MacAulay promised a “full and thorough review of this very unacceptable incident.”

Clément’s family will likely sue the government, which over the past 12 years has faced some 35 lawsuits claiming negligence over paroled or supervised prisoners.

Death in Pakistan

A suicide bomber struck a shuttle bus outside a luxury hotel in Karachi, killing 14 people. Eleven of them were French engineers working on a controversial submarine project. Pakistani officials said the crime could have been committed by members of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network or local Muslim militants opposed to the government’s role in the U.S.-led anti-terrorism coalition. Some officials, though, speculated that India, which is at

odds with Pakistan over the disputed region of Kashmir, could have been behind the attack.

Indian officials angrily rejected those suggestions.

Putting on the pounds

An epidemic of obesity is spreading through the country. Statistics Canada reports that in the six years from 1994-1995 to 2000-2001, the proportion of adults who are obese-measuring at least 30 on a formula of height and weight known as the body mass indexrose to 15 per cent from 13 per cent of the population. StatsCan found the trend to be more pronounced among men than women, and more prevalent In rural areas than in cities.

A tough serve from Anna Kournikova

“il month late and $10 million r\ short.” That’s how the lawyer for Judith Soltesz-Benetton described Penthouse’s apology for publishing topless photos of the daughter-in-law of fashion designer Luciano Benetton and identifying them as pictures of tennis starlet Anna Kournikova. Soltesz-Benetton, 28, who is suing the porn magazine for US$10 million in damages, said she was shocked to learn a photographer had snapped a dozen topless shots without her knowledge seven years ago in Florida.

Kournikova is no happier. The 20-

year-old favourite of the paparazzimore for her beauty than her backhand-is also suing over the pictures that appeared in the magazine’s June issue. She filed suit in Los Angeles for, among other things, defamation and misappropriation of identity (no damages were specified). A U.S. district judge ordered the magazine to temporarily stop distributing the issue to newsstands and blocked it from putting pictures on a Web site. Penthouse described the mix-up as an “unintentional error"-but that raises the question: was no one looking at the face in the photos?

The Week That Was

Remembering Westray

In New Glasgow, N.S., hundreds of people gathered to remember the 26 miners who died when an explosion ripped through the nearby Westray coal mine on May 9, 1992. “I’ve accepted the fact that no one will be held accountable despite the fact there’s plenty of blame to go around,” said Allen Martin, whose brother, Glenn, died in the accident. In 1997, a provincial inquiry described Westray as an accident waiting to happen; charges were eventually laid against Curragh Inc., the company that owned the mine, and mine officials. But all charges were

stayed in 1995 when a judge criticized the prosecution for failing to disclose evidence.

Putting Mom away

Quebec Hells Angels boss Maurice I (Mom) Boucher was found guilty of two counts of murder and one ; of attempted murder and sentenced to three concurrent life terms in prison. In 1997, Hells Angels members murdered two prison guards-Diane Lavigne and Pierre Rondeau-on Boucher’s orders. The attempted murder conviction was in the case of Robert Corriveau, Rondeau’s partner. Boucher must serve 25 years

before being able to apply for parole. He is also facing 13 other murder charges arising from the deaths of rival gang members.

Looking for credits

Canada continued to push its controversial plan for clean energy credits under the Kyoto accord to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2012. At a UN-sponsored summit in Whistler, B.C., on global warming, Canadian delegates said Canada wants up to 30 per cent of its agreed-to reductions to consist of credits it gets for exporting cleaner natural gas and hydroelectricity to the United States. Meanwhile, attending a Canada-European Union summit in Madrid, Jean Chrétien told participants that Canada was not in a position to ratify the accord “until some of these elements are clarified.”The EU has scorned Canada’s demands for clean energy credits.

At long last

Testimony began in the murder trial of Michael Skakel, 41, accused of killing his 15-year-old neighbour Martha Moxley 27 years ago in the wealthy Connecticut town of Greenwich. Prosecutors allege that Skakel, the nephew of Robert F Kennedy’s widow Ethel, bludgeoned Moxley to death with a golfclub. Her body was discovered under a tree on her parents’ property. The golf club was later traced to a set owned by Skakel’s mother.

Victory Day bombing

Thirty-nine people died when a remote-controlled mine exploded during a Victory Day parade in the Caspian Sea port of Kaspiysk in Russia’s Dagestan region. President Vladimir Putin condemned the perpetrators, calling them “scum for whom nothing is sacred" and likening them to the Nazis. Officials suspected that the bombing, which came as people across Russia celebrated the Second World War defeat of Hitler, may have been the work of Islamic extremists.

The smoking gun

They used code names like “Fat Boy,” “Get Shorty” and “Death Star.” Their tactics drove up electricity prices during California’s power crisis of 2000 and 2001, which cost consumers tens of billions of dollars amid blackouts and shortages. And according to documents revealed last week, the energy traders at Enron Corp. may have used Canadian companies in their massive manipulation of the California electrical grid.

To state officials, a raft of internal Enron documents provided smoking-gun confirmation of their long-held suspicion that Enron, which treated deregulated electricity as a commodity, had been gaming the system.

Strategies outlined in the documents-other code names included “Load Shift” and “Ricochet”-

showed how traders could make demand seem to suddenly spike, then come in and relieve it at great profit. The crisis led California to remove price caps on electricity, further disrupting the system and allowing more manipulation. Temporary caps were reinstituted last June, and the memos fuelled arguments to keep them.

According to the Wall Street Journal, memos also showed that Enron worked with companies such as Powerex, the trading subsidiary of B.C. Hydro, to provide “dummied up” load schedules to California. A U.S. order required 150 companies, including Powerex and Calgary firms TransAlta, Enmax and TransCanada Pipelines, to report whether they took part in such strategies. A B.C. Hydro spokeswoman said the company was unaware that Enron may have inflated load figures.

A violent end for a far-right politician

Pim Fortuyn loved to lob verbal bombs at the normally placid world of Dutch politics. Earlier this year he enraged the Netherlands’ growing Muslim community when he dismissed Islam as a “backward” religion. He then turned on the country’s strong green movement, saying he was “sick to death” of environmentists. But the openly gay leader of the political party that carried his name, Pim Fortuyn’s List, saved his harshest criticism for the country’s immigration policies. Among his suggestions: cutting immigration by 75 per cent and repealing the anti-discrimination clause in the constitution. His message struck a chord-opinion polls predicted his

party would likely receive as much as 23 per cent of the popular vote in the May 16 general election.

But the 54-year-old iconoclast was silenced as he left a building in Hilversum on May 6 when an assailant shot him five times in the chest and head.

His death shocked a country that has always prided itself on tolerance. Thousands, regardless of whether they supported him, lined up to view his body as it lay in state in Rotterdam’s Roman Catholic cathedral. Fortuyn’s coffin was carried in a procession through his home city, then back to the cathedral, where Prime Minister Wim Kok led mourners at a funeral mass. (In what they called a

gesture of respect, the country’s political leaders agreed to stop campaigning.) “He had the guts to kick the establishment in the ass,” said Erik Schulp, a Fortuyn supporter from Rotterdam as he waited outside the church. “For years, it’s been the politics of compromise. But he had an opinion and he stood up for it.”

With emotions running high, the country’s immigrant community was relieved two days after the shooting when animal rights campaigner Volkert van der Graaf, 32, was arrested. He was chased down and caught with a pistol moments after the shooting, and the public prosecutor said ammunition found at the suspect’s house matched the calibre of the bullets that killed Fortuyn. Police

were also investigating vandalism at two cattle farms that van der Graaf, a radical vegetarian who refuses to even eat honey, may have been involved in.

Fortuyn had been compared frequently to French far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, who plunged France into turmoil when he qualified for the May 5 presidential runoff vote. But French voters turned out massively to support President Jacques Chirac, who received 82 per cent of the popular vote. Still,

Le Pen received 18 per cent, his highest total ever-marking an increase of about one million votes over his first-round total. His National Front Party is expected to make a strong showing in the National Assembly elections set for June 9 and 16.