WORLD

World NOTES

January 16 1995
WORLD

World NOTES

January 16 1995

World NOTES

DNA EVIDENCE CLEARED

0. J. Simpson’s lawyers abandoned their efforts to block the admission of DNA evidence, a key element of the prosecution’s case against him for the murder of his former wife, Nicole. As a result, opening arguments in the trial could begin as early as Jan. 18. Chief prosecutor Marcia Clark said that the defence’s surprise retreat over the admissibility of DNA evidence gave a major boost to the state’s case against the former football star. “They have now given us everything that we want,” she added.

FRANCE WARMS TO IRAQ

British officials lashed out at the French government for announcing that it intends to re-establish a diplomatic presence in Iraq for the first time since the 1991 Gulf War. The announcement followed a meeting in Paris between French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s right-hand man, Tariq Aziz. But a spokesman for the British government criticized France and said it was not the time to relax pressure on Iraq’s militarist regime.

THE UN ASKS FOR MORE TROOPS

The United Nations issued a request for another 6,000 peacekeeping troops to monitor the latest ceasefire in Bosnia. Currently, there are about 23,000 peacekeepers in Bosnia, including 800 Canadians, but UN commanders say this is not enough to monitor the front lines. In Ottawa, a spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister André Ouellet said that Canada had not yet received the request.

USER GUNS IN THE BIG APPLE

Hoping to discourage subway crime, New York City unveiled an experimental program to equip transit police with laserequipped handguns. The guns project a small dot of red light that shows exactly where a bullet fired at that instant would strike. Transit police Chief Michael O’Connor said the new weapons would make “bad guys” think twice before breaking the law, while reducing the danger to bystanders by helping police shoot more accurately.

A DISEASE'S TOLL

According to the Geneva-based World Health Organization, the number of AIDS cases worldwide has topped the million mark for the first time, with 1.025 million cases reported by 192 nations by the end of 1994. Citing incomplete reporting and under-diagnosis, WHO estimated the actual number of people suffering from the disease at 4.5 million.

Careless whisper

It was down to business in Washington last week for eager Republicans, who in November’s midterm elections secured majorities in both houses of the U.S. Congress for the first time in 40 years. Much of the focus was on the House of Representatives, where newly elected Speaker Newt Gingrich has promised a 100-day legislative blitz to fulfil promises made in a conservative campaign pledge list titled “Contract with America.” Among the proposed Republican measures: cutting taxes, passing a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget, reforming welfare, strengthening defence, overhauling productliability laws, toughening up a crime bill passed last year and limiting the number of terms members of Congress may serve.

But Gingrich’s day in the sun was quickly overshadowed by controversy. During a TV interview on CBS’s Eye to Eye with Connie Chung, his 68-year-old mother, Kathleen, of Dauphin, Pa., was asked what her son thought of First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. Initially, Kathleen Gingrich said she could not give his views. But after Chung persisted—“Why don’t you just whisper it to me, just between you and me?”—Mrs. Gingrich whispered: “She’s a bitch.”

The new Speaker said Chung’s decision to broadcast that portion of the interview was “despicable.” But he declined to say whether he had made such a remark, even when asked by reporters if his mother was a “liar.” For their part, the Clintons brushed off the flap. Sitting in a meeting with Gingrich and other congressional leaders, the president was asked by a reporter, “just between you _ and me,” if there would be £ a compromise or combat 1 between Democrats and Republicans. “My answer to that,” the President joked, “is that Mr. Gingrich will whisper into your right ear and I will whisper into your left ear.” And CBS News, quoting an unnamed White House source, reported that the First Lady had written to Newt Gingrich saying she understood how these things happen—adding that he and his mother were welcome to visit the White House.

A death in Texas

A leading Vatican theologian attacked as “monstrous and absurd” the execution last week of a Texas inmate for a 1986 killing that prosecutors now ascribe to his sister. Jesse Dewayne Jacobs, 44, was originally accused of firing the gunshot that killed a friend’s former wife, but after his conviction prosecutors changed their account and accused Jacobs’s sister of pulling the trigger. Nevertheless, the U.S. Supreme Court twice rejected Jacobs’s motions for a stay of execution, stating that it could not overturn the jury’s determination of fact. In a subsequent editorial in the semi-official Vatican newspaper, Catholic theologian Gino Concetti described Jacobs’s execution by injection as “not only incredible, but monstrous and absurd.” Concetti, whose views are close to those of Pope John Paul II, added that the Supreme Court’s refusal to grant a stay of execution was inhumane. Texas officials, for their part, said that the question of who had actually carried out the ldlling was irrelevant because Jacobs had at the very least been a willing accomplice.

Castle drilling

A Canadian oilman has received the go-ahead for a controversial plan to drill for oil on the grounds of Queen Elizabeth’s Windsor Castle. By a vote of nine to three, councillors in the southern English county of Berkshire gave former Calgarian Desmond Oswald permission for eight weeks of exploratory drilling near the famous national monument. Officials estimate there is a one-in-eight chance of the company finding oil or gas. But Oswald believes that up to 100 million barrels of oil could be found near the castle. If he is right, the profits will go to the British treasury, not to the monarch. But the money will certainly come in handy. The castle was ravaged by fire two years ago, and repair costs could easily exceed $90 million.