World

World NOTES

August 3 1998
World

World NOTES

August 3 1998

World NOTES

ARREST IN ULSTER ARSON

Police in Northern Ireland arrested a 23-year-old salesman, Thomas Gilmour, for the arson attack that killed three young Catholic brothers last month. Jason, Mark and Richard Quinn burned to death in their beds when gasoline bombs were thrown into their home in a predominantly Protestant public housing complex in Ballymoney. Gilmour denied the charges.

JAPAN PLAYS IT SAFE

Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic party stuck to form by choosing cautious Foreign Minister Keizo Obuchi as its next leader. The move disappointed foreign investors eager for bolder economic reform. Obuchi is almost certain to win this week’s parliamentary vote to replace Ryutaro Hashimoto, although some young party members remain unhappy with his selection.

IRAN TESTS MISSILE

Iran tested a medium-range missile that could reach Israel, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. A U.S. spy satellite detected the launch of the Shahab-3, which is modelled on North Korea’s Rodong missile. Washington said the test was evidence of Iran’s campaign to build up its military strength.

LORDS DEFY BLAIR

Gay activists chained themselves to railings and jeered members of Britain’s House of Lords after they overturned legislation passed in parliament that would lower the age of consent for homosexual sex from 18 to 16—the age of consent for heterosexuals. Critics accused the predominantly Tory lords of thumbing their noses at Tony Blair’s Labour government, which plans to reform the non-elected body.

GOING TO BEATLELAND

Tourists can now visit the modest Liverpool row house where Paul McCartney grew up and wrote his first hits with teenage chum John Lennon. The pair wrote Love Me Do and / Saw Her Standing There in the front room of the two-storey home. Britain’s National Trust—which normally preserves much older heritage homesrestored the McCartney house to its 1950s state. McCartney lived in the house from 1955, when he was 13, until 1964, when the constant presence of groupies in the front yard forced him to flee.

Deadly tide in New Guinea

Aftershocks rattled the north shore of Papua New Guinea last week. Geological tremors echoed from a July 17 undersea earthquake, which measured 7 on the Richter scale and triggered massive waves that killed at least 1,500 people. But survivors also faced the emotional shock of dealing with a staggering number of wounded, dead and missing. At least 2,000 of the 10,000 people who once lived in three coastal fishing villages are still unaccounted for, many of them children, most swept away by the waves or buried under piles of debris. Soldiers, aid workers and missionaries gathered what bodies they could find and buried them, without ceremony, in shallow graves in the sand. But other bodies continued to rot in the sun and had to be cremated in gasoline fires. Crocodiles, pigs and wild dogs scavenged among the dead, and authorities warned survivors not to return to their former villages because drinking water is contaminated.

Some outbreaks of disease were already being reported. Gangrene caused by bacteria-filled coral sand infected some wounds and required surgeons to amputate many limbs. International

relief agencies scrambled to get help to the remote region, and Ottawa sent $100,000 in relief aid, mostly in emergency supplies of clothing, blankets and cooking utensils. But Bill Skate, prime minister of the country of four million people, hinted a full evacuation of the area might still be necessary.

While most of the physical wounds were being treated, it will be harder to find balms for the anguish and emotional trauma the tsunamis left behind. Survivors told horrifying stories of children being torn from their grip in the cascade of water. A few people did return to their ruined beachfront homes, sifting through piles of twigs for their possessions. But others refused to come down from surrounding hills where they had fled in fear of more waves. “We are afraid the sea will come again,” said Kaiyus Rome as he built a new home in a makeshift camp on higher ground. Fabian Tombre, whose wife and three daughters were killed in the wave, insisted his former town of Arop would be rebuilt. “The people will go back,” he said, but also expressed respect for the power and violence of nature. “We will build new homes away from the sea.”

UNITED STATES

Death on Capitol Hill

The shooting, at the Capitol building in Washington, broke out at 3:40 p.m. on Friday, July 24. When it ended, only minutes later, two veteran Capitol Hill police officers, Jacob Chestnut and John Gibson, lay dead, one female tourist was seriously injured, and a man—Russell Weston, 41, of Rimini, Mont., later identified as the suspect in

the attack—critically wounded. According to witnesses, the gunman burst through the metal detector at the front entrance and shot Chestnut with a .38-calibre handgun when the 18-year police veteran told him to come back and pass through the detector. After another officer returned fire, the gunman ran into a suite of offices, where he was confronted by Gibson, also an 18-year veteran. Both men went down in the ensuing exchange of gunfire.

In the wake of the tragedy,

as police searched for a motive for the attack, Washington sources said that Weston had a history of mental problems and had been investigated two years ago as a “low-level threat” to President Bill Clinton. Reached in Montana, Westin’s father told reporters that his son had been a drifter who mined for gold and “doesn’t have too many friends”— and that he had recently kicked his son out of his home after he shot more than a dozen cats with his father’s shotgun.