Overture

The Week That Was

August 27 2001
Overture

The Week That Was

August 27 2001

The Week That Was

Overture

ROLLING INTO THE WEST BANK

Israeli forces squared off against Palestinian fighters near the West Bank town of Beit Jala on Aug. 14 as clashes continued in the Middle East. Israeli tanks and bulldozers also thrust into the West Bank town of Jenin and destroyed a police headquarters in the deepest incursion into Palestinian territory in 10 months of violence. The move was in retaliation for a number of terrorist attacks the government claimed had been launched against Israeli targets from Jenin.

Demanding an inquest

Ontario’s opposition parties demanded a coroner’s inquest into the unusual circumstances surrounding the death of Kimberly Rogers, a pregnant Sudbury woman whose body was discovered in her apartment two weeks ago during a sweltering heat wave. The 40-year-old Rogers, who was sentenced to six months’ house arrest after pleading guilty in April to defrauding the welfare system, had lost her eligibility for welfare and was in her eighth month of pregnancy. An autopsy was inconclusive and the cause of death was still under investigation.

Ramming at sea

Canadian authorities in St. John’s, Nfld., arrested three Russian sailors who were in charge of the tanker Virgo when it allegedly rammed a smaller U.S. fishing trawler on Aug. 5, killing three crew members. According to a criminal complaint filed with the U.S. district court in Washington, the Russian officers then failed to respond to

calls for help immediately after the accident. An extradition hearing for the men, who face involuntary manslaughter charges in the United States, will likely be held this fall. Moscow reacted angrily to the arrests, claiming Canada was

persecuting the sailors and saying other ships in the area could have been responsible for the accident.

The fight over Rodin

On the eve of a special exhibition of its Auguste Rodin col-

lection at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, the MacLaren Art Centre of Barrie, Ont., was forced to defend the authenticity of the sculptures after Antoinette Romain, the director of the French sculptor’s namesake museum in Paris, said the collection of more than 70 works cannot be considered genuine. The complex debate centres on whether the plaster and bronze Rodins are part of an original series, or merely reproductions using the same moulds employed to make the originals. Romain called for a boycott of the show, which includes such famous works as The Kiss and The Thinker and will open at the ROM on Sept. 20. The MacLaren says it has overwhelming documentation to prove the authenticity of its $40million collection.

Change of heart

Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, 71, who shocked the Vatican by marrying in a New York City mass wedding held by Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church in May, has renounced his life with South Korean acupuncturist Maria Sung and returned to the Roman Catholic Church. Milingo had been criticized by the Vatican for his colourful exorcisms and healing ceremonies before he married the woman Moon chose for him. Sung last week started a hunger strike to get her husband back.

Future Shop in the past

In the grand tradition of WalMart and Home Depot, another major U.S. retailer is roaring into Canada to redefine an entire market sector. Electronics giant Best Buy Co. Inc. of Minneapolis said it will buy Burnaby, B.C.based Future Shop Ltd. and its 88 stores for $580 million. Consumers thereby miss out on the predicted long war between the

two-and the potential price cutting-but Best Buy will still have a lotto offer. Although similar in format to Future Shop, its U.S. stores are far bigger-veritable cathedrals of gadgetry. Future Shop’s reclusive owner, Hassan Khosrowshahi, said the all-cash deal for his 19-year-old company was “bittersweet” but ultimately a business decision.

The Mounties step in

Toronto police Chief Julian Fantino called in the RCMP to take over an internal investigation of alleged corruption within the force. Since 1999, the probe has resulted in charges of theft, fraud, forgery and breach of trust against eight members of a downtown drug squad and implicated more than a dozen officers in misappropriating funds meant for informants. As a result, at least 115 investigations have unravelled.

Controversial visit

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi faced criticism at home and abroad after he paid homage at Yasukuni, a controversial Shinto shrine to Japans 2.5 million war dead that also honours 14 “class A” war criminals. In an attempt to dampen the backlash, Koizumi made the visit on Aug. 13—not, as originally planned, on Aug. 15, the anniversary of Japans surrender in the Second World War. The last prime minister to make an official visit to the shrine was Yasuhiro Nakasone in 1985.

A fragile peace

Sporadic clashes undermined a fragile peace agreement between Macedonia and ethnic Albanian rebels as NATO deferred until this week a final decision on deploying 3,500 troops in the troubled Balkan country. NATO troops would be expected to collect rebel

arms—a key part of the peace deal. An initial 400-member contingent was to be in place by early this week to determine if the ceasefire would truly hold.

Drugstore outlaw

In Kansas City, the FBI arrested Robert Courtney, a wealthy pharmacist, on charges of selling diluted versions of the chemotherapy drugs Taxol and Gemzar. That prompted a flood of calls from worried cancer patients concerned they had not received adequate medication during their therapy. “We don’t know how long this has been happening and how many people may have been affected, but it literally could be hundreds,” said an FBI spokesman.

Some nerve

Scientists at McMaster University in Hamilton say they have have prompted damaged spinal nerves in rats to regenerate by injecting them with specialized intestinal cells. In a potentially major step in the quest to cure spinal cord damage, lead researcher Dr. Michel Rathbone said the rats grew new nerve fibres after the damaged area was exposed to enteric glia cells from the same animal’s intestines.

Tragedy in an Alberta sand pit

It’s a typical childhood activity.

But for Vincent Phillips, 13, and his sister, Riana, 11, digging in the sand proved a tragic pastime. The two were visiting their grandparents, Dan and Maria Lah, in Bowden, Alta., about 100 km northwest of Calgary, when they set off barefoot, empty coffee tins in hand, to play and watch birds. When the youngsters didn’t return, the Lahs searched for several frantic hours before calling the RCMP Along with dozens of volunteers, the Mounties scoured trails, a beaver dam and nearby marshes before a set of footprints were discovered leading into, but not

out of, a local sand pit with a seven-metre-high embankment. Front-end loaders sifted through nearly a tonne of sand before the bodies of the two-buried so deep police dogs hadn’t detected them-were recovered. Lah, who said he’d never thought of the sand pit as dangerous, believed his grandchildren were probably doing what normal, healthy kids do. “What they didn’t expect,” he added, “was that the cave they were digging in would collapse on them.” RCMP Cpl. Ed Plitz said even if someone had been with the children when the sand started to shift, it might not have been possible to rescue them. Added Plitz: “I don’t think even 10 minutes would have made a whole lot of difference.”

Heading towards a day of reckoning

Stockwell Day’s official day of reckoning will come sometime in mid-March-if, that is, he chooses to continue his fight to hold on to the leadership of the Canadian Alliance. Last week, the party’s ruling council decided on an early leadership convention instead of, as some had suggested, waiting until mid-June. Will Day run? He has promised to step down as leader three months before a convention. Sources said he may

announce by the end of September, whether he will be a candidate.

In the meantime, the party’s chaos continued. Stephen Harper, the head of the National Citizens’ Coalition, said he’s interested in the a. job. Talks between the I Tories and dissident Al| liance members kicked I off at a Quebec resort with a friendly game of golf-the efforts buoyed by an endorsement from Preston Manning. And controversy continued to swirl

around a leaked letter suggesting that some of Manning’s supporters promised to destroy Day even before he won the party leadership in July, 2000.