United Nations

Heading toward a showdown with Saddam

November 18 2002

United Nations

Heading toward a showdown with Saddam

November 18 2002

United Nations

Heading toward a showdown with Saddam


Seven days. That’s how long the world is giving Saddam Hussein to make up his mind. Either submit to a UN resolution demanding that the Iraqi dictator give weapons inspectors unfettered access to his country, or risk an allied military attack. “The debate about whether we’re going to deal with Saddam Hussein is over,” said a triumphant George W. Bush. “This time it’s for real—this time something happens.”

The U.S. and Britain had tried to hammer out a proposal that would be acceptable to the 15-member Security Council for weeks. But France and Russia objected to a resolution that specifically called for a military response if Saddam does not acquiesce. A compromise was reached in phone calls between Bush and French President Jacques Chirac. Now, the final resolution, passed by all 15 council

members, threatens unspecified “serious consequences” if Saddam does not comply.

The issue of Iraq was only one element in Washington’s ongoing war on terror. Another was the U.S.-Canada border, where officials have been toughening controls. Last week, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft said “no country is exempt,” and that Canadian citizens born in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan and other Arab countries the U.S. has linked to terrorism will be photographed and fingerprinted before being allowed into the U.S. While Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham said he would seek clarification of the new rules, Canadian Muslims were outraged. “Yesterday it was Jews and Japanese Canadians,” said Mohamed Elmasry, president of the Canadian Islamic Congress. “Today it happens to Muslims.”

Diana’s ‘rock’ talks

Paul Burrell repeatedly said he would never divulge the royal family’s secrets, gleaned from two decades of service. But then Burrell, called “my rock” by Diana, Princess of Wales, was paid $1 million by two media outlets. The stories began flooding out: how Diana, in love with a Muslim heart surgeon named Hasnat Khan, met him at the door dressed only in sapphire and diamond jewellery and a fur coat; how Diana’s lovers were smuggled into Kensington Palace in car trunks. Burrell began spilling the goods after being acquitted of stealing nearly 300 items from the princess’s estate. Describing a meeting with Queen Elizabeth II shortly after Diana’s 1997 death, Burrell also claims she cryptically warned of danger, saying “there are powers at work in this country about which we have no knowledge.” Maybe in Burrell’s case it was the power of money.

Pickton’s trial sputters

The scene was finally set. Accused mass murderer Robert Pickton, 53, sat behind bulletproof glass in a Port Coquitlam, B.C., court as the relatives of many of the 15 women he is accused of killing took their seats. But within minutes the trial stalled in a battle over legal aid funding. Because the case is so complicated—the pig f armer could face further charges as more human remains are recovered from his ramshackle farm in the Vancouver suburb-defence attorney Peter Ritchie wants the province to pay for a team of six lawyers. The judge adjourned the case, allowing Ritchie to take the funding issue to the B.C. Supreme Court, but that hearing was also abruptly halted when Ritchie announced that he had entered into direct talks with the province. They reached a tentative deal, and Pickton’s trial is now expected to resume in early 2003.

Unravelling a Titanic mystery

For years residents of Halifax placed teddy bears and toys at the grave of the unknown child who died along with almost 1,500 others when the Titanic sank in 1912. But DNA extracted from a tooth taken from the tiny victim’s exhumed corpse has revealed that the dead boy is 13-month-old Eino Viljami Panula. The discovery was part of a fouryear effort that included taking DNA samples from the living relatives of people who sailed on the doomed ship. DNA taken from 68-year-old Finnish citizen Magda Schleifer

confirmed that Eino was the son of her greataunt, who died along with all five of her sons while they were en route to meet her husband in Pittsburgh. Schleifer said that, as a child, she was told the heartbreaking story of how Eino’s mother refused to board a lifeboat because she was looking for her sons. “Now it was not just a distant story,” she said as she stood by Eino’s grave last week, “ft came nearer. It makes you sad.”

Talking, but not face to face

It seems everyone in Toronto wants to talk about race relations—they just don’t want to sit down together. Former Ontario chief justice Charles Dubin was supposed to hold an inquiry into how the Toronto police treat racial minorities, after a series of articles in the Toronto Star suggested they deal more harshly with blacks than whites. But Dubin pulled out after Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantino said he was launching his own internal inquiry. An umbrella organization of 30 black community groups, meanwhile, argued that race relations have already been extensively studied in the city and refused to meet with either Fantino or Dubin. That

leaves former Ontario lieutenant governor Lincoln Alexander, the first black to hold the post, to resolve the issue. Alexander, who stepped into the fray on his own, wants to finally get all the parties together sometime before the end of the year.

Rule Britannia

British forces captured the 420-m-high Rock of Gibraltar from Spain in 1704, and the Spanish have been unsuccessfully trying to get it back ever since. They got no closer last week, when a proposal to place Gibraltar under joint Spanish-British rule—the result of negotiations between Madrid and London —was rejected by nearly 99 percent of the 21,000 people who voted. “Today Gibraltar Votes No” blared a front-page Gibraltar Chronicle headline. Across the old garrison town, buildings were bedecked with Union Jacks, and plastered with posters reading “Give Spain No Hope.”

Big Mac goes slack

McDonald’s Corp., the company that loves to supersize, will downsize a bit. Jack Greenberg, the fast-food chain’s chairman and CEO, said it would close 175 restaurants in 10 unnamed countries, and restructure or shut down operations in seven countries in the Middle East and Latin America. Canada will not be affected, however. Canadian CEO Bill Johnson said the company will open more than 100 new restaurants across the country next year.

Israelis to the polls

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called an election forjan. 28 that could take Israel’s politics further to the right. The political crisis was triggered on Oct. 30 by the Labour party pulling out of Sharon’s coalition government over the continued expansion of Jewish settlements on the West Bank. Sharon tried unsuccessfully to put together a new coalition before setting a date for the vote. He now faces a stiff challenge from former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is expected to run against Sharon for the leadership of the Likud Party prior to the January vote. Netanyahu wants to take an even harder line against Palestinians.

Facing death in Virginia

In an attempt to ensure that teenage sniper suspect John Lee Malvo, 17, faces the death penalty, he will stand trial with John Allen

Muhammad, 41, in a Virginia court. Muhammad is accused of murdering Dean Harold Meyers on Oct. 9 while Meyers was pumping gas in Manassas, Va., while Malvo is alleged to have shot Linda Franklin, 47, an FBI analyst, on Oct. 14 while she was putting packages into her car in Falls Church, Va. The pair, who will be tried separately, are suspects in a total of 13 shootings in the suburbs of Washington, 10 of them fatal. In Virginia, unlike Maryland or the federal court system, Malvo could be executed if found guilty, even though he is a juvenile.

Assault and punishment

Lucille Poulin, 78, a former Catholic nun, was sentenced to eight months in jail for assaulting children in the religious commune she presided over on Prince Edward Island. During Poulin’s trial last month, five children who were under the age of 12 when the abuse took place in the 1990s testified that Poulin had regularly beaten them with a wooden paddle and forced them to work long hours. In sentencing Poulin, Justice David Jenkins of the P.E.I. Supreme Court said “people cannot assault children without criminal law consequences.”

Out of the Pitt

For most of his troubled 15 months as chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Harvey Pitt ignored the First Rule of Holes—when you are in one, stop digging. Finally, he got in too deep, and on mid-term election night, he resigned. The

end came after the disclosure that William Webster, Pitt’s choice to lead a new board overseeing accountants, had headed the audit committee of a company accused of fraud. Pitt had withheld that information from his fellow SEC commissioners until after they approved Webster’s appointment. The political firestorm resulted in four investigations of Pitt’s actions, including one by his own agency (sparking an already classic Wall Street Journal headline, “Pitt Launches SEC Probe of Himself ”). It was the last gaffe in a string of judgment errors—he was already under criticism for his ties to the scandal-plagued accounting industry and his slow response to market crises fuelled by the collapse of Enron, WorldCom and Tyco.

Zapping those bills

Amid rising consumer anger over high electricity bills, the Ontario government said it would bring in measures to take the sting out of deregulation. The program was expected to include rebates, initially averaging $45 per household. The government’s electrical strategy has been in crisis since April, when the courts halted the privatization of Hydro One Inc., the provincial transmission company. Ontario went ahead with electricity price deregulation in May. A hot summer and growing power demands resulted in wide price fluctuations on the spot market. Bills for some householders tripled. But the rebate program may not calm consumers for longforecasts are for more energy shortages in Ontario next year.