World Notes

May 22 2000

World Notes

May 22 2000

World Notes

Wildfire rages through Los Alamos

Fanned by raging winds, a fire set by workers to remove brush near Los Alamos, N.M., went out of control and burned through 13,000 hectares of forest. About 300 homes were destroyed and 25,000 people evacuated from the town, the site of the nuclear weapons laboratory where the first atomic bomb was developed. Buildings housing radioactive material were spared.

The student behind the ‘Love Bug’

A 23-year-old computer-school student in the Philippines stepped forward to say he may have accidentally unleashed the so-called Love Bug virus that afflicted computers around the world on May 4. Onel de Guzman, who once submitted a thesis on how to steal free Internet time, did not directly accept responsibility for the incident. But in a news conference held in Manila, he acknowledged that he and his friends had been trying to create a “gimmick”—a term used by young Filipinos to describe something excit-

ing—and that “it is possible” he may have transmitted the virus.

Earlier in the week, spokesmen for the Philippine National Bureau of Investigation confirmed that they had traced the e-mail address used to spread the virus to a flat in Manila inhabited by de Guzman, his sister, Irene, and Reonel Ramones, a bank employee. Millions of computers around the world were afflicted by the Love Bug virus, which caused an estimated $15 billion in damage. It arrived as an e-mail attachment entitled “ILOVEYOU,” then destroyed user files, stole passwords and replicated and spread itself through the user’s email address book.

A liberal prime minister for Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin formally nominated Mikhail Kasyanov, 43, a pro-reform economist, to be the country’s prime minister. The Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, is expected to approve the choice. The nomination of Kasyanov, who has been serving as deputy prime minister, was welcomed in the West, where he is known for his skilful restructuring of Russia’s $60billion foreign debt. Kasyanov is expected to streamline Russia’s complicated tax system in an effort to improve the investment climate in the country.

Protesting a killing

In Spain, thousands of people protested the assassination of newspaper columnist José Luis Lopez de la Calle. The 63-year-old, who wrote for the Madrid daily El Mundo, had been an outspoken opponent of the Basque guerrilla group ETA. He was shot outside his home in the Basque town of Andaoin on May 7, the fourth person killed by the rebels since December.

In the money

Larry Ross, a Michigan swimmingpool installer, claimed half of a $363million jackpot—the largest ever won in U.S. lottery history. He chose to take his share of the May 9 prize in a onetime, lump-sum payment rather than spread it over 26 years. The second winner has yet to come forward.

India passes one billion

India’s population officially hit one billion on May 11 with the birth of a baby girl named Astha Arora in New Delhi. The government marked the milestone with a campaign to encourage Indians to have smaller families. With an estimated 42,000 births a day, India is expected to surpass China as the most populous nation by 2036.

Giuliani’s sex scandal

In a surprise TV statement, New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said that he is separating from Donna Hanover, his wife of 16 years. The announcement came a week after the mayor acknowledged he has been seeing Judith Nathan, 44, a divorced nurse who he described as a “very good friend.” In her own statement, Hanover said the marriage had been in trouble, but said it was because of another woman later identified as Cristyne Lategano, formerly communications director in the municipal government.

McCain endorses Bush

Arizona Senator John McCain endorsed George W. Bush’s bid for the White House. The two fought a bitter campaign in the Republican primaries earlier this year. Bush said McCain’s decision will finally unify the party in the race for the presidency this November.