World

World NOTES

April 8 1996
World

World NOTES

April 8 1996

World NOTES

World

STANDOFF IN MONTANA

About 100 FBI and other officers played a tense but low-key waiting game with an armed group of ultrarightist radicals holed up on a ranch in a remote part of Montana. Authorities arrested two members of the group, known as the Freemen, early in the week, but were at pains to avoid a repeat of the disastrous Waco and Ruby Ridge shootouts. The Freemen took over the ranch just before a member was to lose it to foreclosure. They say they do not recognize the U.S. government and will not pay taxes.

DOLE WINS THE RACE

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole won the California primary and two others, sealing his grip on the Republican party presidential nomination. The victories put him over the top in the needed convention delegate count. Far-right challenger Pat Buchanan congratulated Dole, but vowed that “the cause goes on.”

MONKS KIDNAPPED

Seven French Trappist monks were kidnapped from their monastery in Algeria by gunmen suspected to be Muslim extremists. The group was taken late at night from their cloisters in the Islamist stronghold of Medea. Some 50,000 people, including 100 foreigners, have died in the vicious war fought between Islamic militant groups and the government.

CLOSER TO MOSCOW

Four former Soviet republics vowed to integrate their economies much more closely, but denied that the Soviet Union was making a comeback. Russia, its European neighbor Belarus, and two Asian republics, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, said they would allow the free flow of goods and labor. Analysts saw the deal as a move by Russian President Boris Yeltsin to blunt calls by his Communist rivals to rebuild the Soviet Union.

SCHINDLER'S LOST

The widow of Oskar Schindler, the man film-maker Steven Spielberg portrayed as a hero who saved 1,300 Jews from Nazi death camps, says her husband was merely greedy. In a new book, Emilie Schindler, 88, says Spielberg’s Schindler’s List is “packed with lies.” Her husband, she says, worked to keep the Jews from the camps only so he could keep his factory going with cheap labor.

Gloomy tidings for Hong Kong

Hong Kong Governor Chris Patten called it “a black day for democracy.” After years of warnings, Beijing confirmed that it would dismantle Hong Kong’s elected legislature after Britain hands back the colony to China in 1997. At the same time, Chinese officials issued a series of hardline statements that led some diplomats to call it the gloomiest period since Beijing’s bloody Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989. Meeting in Beijing, the China-appointed Preparatory Committee formally decided that a new, appointed legislature would be set up after July 1, 1997. When a single, Hong Kong-based member of

the 150-strong committee voted against the decision, a Beijing official said he should not be allowed to participate further. China also declared that senior Hong Kong civil servants must pledge loyalty to the new body, although their current bosses oppose it. China has long denounced Patten’s democratic reforms.

The series of controversies arose just as China’s confrontation with nearby Taiwan was ending. A day after the re-election of Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui, the mainland wrapped up its high-profile military exercises close to the island. Both sides made gestures indicating a desire to ease tensions.

Washington says no to concessions on Cuba

Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy expressed hope that the United States may soften elements of its new Cuba policy, which could penalize Canadian businesspeople. But he gained no official concessions after talks with U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher in Washington. The new law allows U.S. nationals to sue foreigners who use property in Cuba that an American has a claim on, and would deny the foreigners entry visas to the United States. Christopher said Washington was developing procedures that would show that the visa issue was “somewhat less sweeping” than had been feared. But a state department spokesman added that there were no plans to change the law to exempt Canada.

SAFE AGAIN: Canadian tourists arrive in Cairo after an Egypt Air jet carrying 145 passengers was hijacked to Libya.The plane, with 59 Canadians from Quebec and Ontario aboard, was headed to Cairo from the tourist centre of Luxor when three armed Egyptian hijackers demanded to meet Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. Running low on fuel, the pilot landed at a desert airstrip in Martubah, in eastern Libya.The hijackers surrendered five hours later, and the passengers were bused to Benghazi, where they met Gadhafi. Flown back to Cairo after a 25-hour ordeal, they were treated to a gala dinner by Egyptian officials concerned that extremist Muslim unrest has hurt tourism.