COLUMN

A character test for cities

Allan Fotheringham June 3 2002
COLUMN

A character test for cities

Allan Fotheringham June 3 2002

The Week That Was

Levy’s body is found, but questions linger

The bones hidden under a pile of leaves in Washington’s Rock Creek Park answered a question that had baffled police for more than a year: what had become of intern Chandra Levy? A man taking his dog for a morning walk discovered the remains on a steep, wooded slope in a remote area of the park when the dog began tugging on a human skull. The man called police and, within minutes, detectives recovered much of Levy's remains, which were quickly identified through her dental

records. “This is no longer a missing persons investigation," said the city’s police chief, Charles Ramsey. “It’s being handled as a death investigation.”

Way back before Sept. 11, the Levy case dominated headlines.

Early on, it emerged that the 24-yearold intern from Modesto, Calif., was having an affair with congressman Gary Condit. She was last seen on April 30,2001, at her health club and is thought to have disappeared sometime the following day. When police searched her apartment they

found her wallet, credit card, computer and cellphone, but not her keys. Although foul play has not been established,

Ramsey raised the possibility that Levy’s body might subsequently have been moved to the secluded hill where police had searched in the weeks after her disappearance.

While police insist Condit is not a suspect, they have interviewed him four times and could well question him again. The publicity surrounding the case cost him dearly: in March the once-popular

congressman lost the Democratic primary in a constituency that includes Levy’s hometown. A grand jury has also been reviewing Levy’s disappearance and whether Condit or his aides obstructed the investigation. Last week, he issued a statement saying that he and his family “express their heartfelt sorrow to the Levy family.” In Modesto, Levy’s parents were devastated. Family spokeswoman Judy Smith said that “up until the point when they received the news, they were always hopeful.”

Bush looks for support

George W. Bush travelled abroad to gather support for continuing the war against terrorism. Speaking in Berlin and Moscow, where he signed a treaty dramatically reducing the number of nuclear weapons

in the U.S. and Russian arsenals, the President warned that such weapons could soon be obtained by outlaw states like Iraq. But Bush rejected holding an inquiry into how much the White House knew about terrorists planning the

Sept. 11 attacks. Senate Majority LeaderTom Daschle is pushing for an independent commission after disclosures suggested the White House missed a series of ominous hints last year from the FBI and CIA.

Those fragile cod

A federal advisory council has found that the 10-year crackdown on fishing for northern cod failed to rebuild the fish stock off Newfoundland. Scientists and fishermen still can’t explain why the population

The Week That Was

of cod-once the world’s most abundant fish—simply collapsed, putting 31,000 Newfoundlanders out of work. Some experts say stocks were overfished to the point where recovery is impossible, but others argue the fish are following different migratory patterns because of the changing climate.

Harper is in the House

No wetsuits and no karate kicks— just a few barbs at Prime Minister Jean Chrétien marked Stephen Harper’s debut in the House of Commons as Canadian Alliance leader. More subdued than his predecessor, Stockwell Day, Harper

responded In kind to Chrétien’s jab that he was the eighth official leader of the Opposition to tackle his government. “I will be Chrétien’s last Opposition leader,” Harper said.

Klansman convicted

A Birmingham, Ala., jury convicted former Ku Klux Klansman Bobby Frank Cherry of first-degree murder in a church bombing that killed four black girls in 1963. The 71-year-old Cherry, who faces an automatic life sentence, was part of a group of Klansmen who exploded a bomb on Sept. 15,1963, in the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, a rallying spot for protests against racial

segregation. Two other men were convicted of the bombing in 1977 and 2001, while a fourth suspect died in 1994 without being charged.

Taming the mosquito

Scientists working in Cleveland may have found a way to use mosquitoes in the fight against malaria, a disease they carry. Mosquitoes injected with a man-made gene that blocks development of the tiny malaria parasite inside the insect were unable to pass the virus along. Scientists suggest spreading such genes among mosquitoes could help control the deadly disease.

The bombers return

Despite Israel’s military

crackdown on the Palestinian territories, suicide bombers appear to be stepping up their attacks on the country. A car loaded with pipe bombs exploded just outside a crowded Tel Aviv dance club after a security guard shot and killed the driver; there were no other injuries. A young Palestinian man with bleached-blond hair blew himself up at a park gazebo in Rishon Le Zion, just south of Tel Aviv, killing two Israelis and injuring 27. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades took responsibility for both bombings,

claiming they were avenging two Israeli attacks last week, including one that killed Mahmoud Titi, a 30-year-old leader of the Brigades in Nablus.

There was another incident in the Tel Aviv area as well. A bomb attached to a tanker truck exploded at Israel’s biggest fuel depot, sending diesel fuel pouring onto the pavement. The depot is close to three major highways and is surrounded by residential areas, but the fire was extinguished before anyone was hurt. “A huge disaster has been averted,” said Tel Aviv police chief Yossi Sedbon. Security officials said they also uncovered

a plot to explode trucks laden with explosives under Tel Aviv’s twin Azrieli Towers, Israel’s tallest buildings.

Both the U.S. and Israel called on Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat to arrest the organizers behind the attacks. Criticism of Arafat is also increasing among his own people. “He has failed on two challenges-ending the Israeli occupation and building a democratic state,” said Khalil Shikaki, a leading Palestinian pollster. So far Arafat seems unable, or unwilling, to stop the suicide bombings-or his own escalating slide into irrelevance.

A mouse in court

The Supreme Court of Canada reserved judgment on the thorny ethical question of whether a mouse genetically modified at Harvard University to develop cancer can be patented in this country. Should the court, which is expected to rule this fall, side with Harvard, it would be the first time Canada has allowed a patent for an animal. But federal lawyers warned that granting such protections would lead to the patenting of all manner of genetically altered plants and animals.

Signing off Kyoto

Alberta suffered a setback when Ottawa rejected its alternative to the Kyoto Protocol at a meeting of energy and environment ministers in Charlottetown. Alberta fears the protocol, which calls for Canada to cut greenhouse emissions by six per cent by 2012, will curb the growth of its energy industry. It reacted to the rebuff by refusing to sign the meeting’s joint communiqué and by resigning as co-chair of a federal-provincial committee struck to manage consultations on climate change. The ministers will meet again in October, but did not set any deadline for ratifying the treaty.

Terrorists in Ontario

Bob Rundirían, Ontario’s Minister of Public Safety and Security, raised more questions than he answered when he inexplicably announced that a cell of Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda terrorist network had recently been driven out of the province when they came under surveillance by the Ontario Provincial Police. But citing security reasons, he refused to elaborate. Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty chastised Runciman. “The minister provides that kind of information just to frighten people,” he said. “Now he has a responsibility to provide us with more details.”

Cleaning up the water

The final report of an inquiry into one of Canada's worst public health disasters urges the Ontario govern-

The Week That Was

ment to spend millions of dollars to ensure clean tap water and to provide a legal guarantee of its safety. The inquiry, headed by Justice Dennis O’Connor, was struck following the deaths of seven people in Walkerton, Ont., in May, 2000, after they drank water contaminated with the E. coli bacteria. Among the 93 recommendations, which could cost $280 million to implement, O’Connor called for creation of a Safe Drinking Water Act. It would ensure the right to safe water by forcing government to plan and oversee provincial water systems.

Loonie tuned

The long-suffering Canadian dollar has risen by nearly five per cent in recent weeks, topping 65 U.S. cents. The loonie’s strength is primarily

One man’s garbage...

If life really does imitate art, some Hollywood insiders are living a very bad B movie. Producer Steve Bing, 37, has launched a $1.5-billion lawsuit against MGM studio mogul Kirk Kerkorian-over some purloined dental floss. The used string was taken from Bing’s trash can by a private investigator working for Kerkorian, 84, who’s embroiled in a vicious child-support case. Former tennis pro Lisa Bonder Kerkorian, 38, who separated from her husband in September, 1999, is demanding $490,000 a month in child support for her four-yearold daughter, Kira. But DNA on the floss, says the billionaire’s lawyer, proves the child is Bing’s offspring, not his client’s. In launching his invasion of privacy suit, Bing did not comment on the girl’s paternity. But he called the “non-consensual harvesting” of his DNA “a disgusting effort [by Kerkorian] to publicly smear and disparage his ex-wife at the expense of their child so Kerkorian could avoid his financial obligation to an innocent little girl.”

But perhaps no one told Bing the one about people who live in

MAKING A COMEBACK

Canadian dollar, In U.S. cents

due to the greenback’s weakness: the long reign of the U.S. dollar is fading, and all major currencies have risen against it. Currency traders are focusing on American problems, such as the large U.S. deficits in trade and borrowing with other nations. At the same time, they are noticing Canadian advantages, such as a trade surplus, declining debt and improved commodity prices. But there's a long way to go: even just five

glass houses. Model and actress Elizabeth Hurley says Bing is the father of her two-month-old baby, Damian Charles-a claim he denied when he first learned of the pregnancy in November.

Only now is DNA testing underway. And last week, Britain’s press watchdog rejected Bing’s complaint that the tabloid Daily Mirror had violated his privacy when it printed his phone number and urged readers to call and berate him for his treatment of Hurley. The Press Complaints Commission ruled the number was in the public domain.

years ago, the loonie bought 73 U.S. cents.

Big money

Eugene Melnyk, chairman and CEO of Biovail Corp., was the best-paid executive in Canada lastyear-by a long shot. A circular from the Torontobased drug maker showed Melnyk . cashed in US$78.6 million worth of stock options, in addition to receiving a salary of US$552,644for total compensation, in Canadian dollars, of about $121.5 million. That far surpassed the next highest known earner, Magna International Inc. boss Frank Stronach, who took in $56.6 million.

Voisey’s deal

Labrador’s native groups made a deal with mining firm Inco Ltd. that could jump-start development of the long-delayed, $3-billion Voisey’s Bay mineral megaproject. Leaders of the 5,000-member Labrador Inuit Association and the 1,800-member Innu Nation endorsed terms of an impact benefits agreement spelling out what they will receive if the project goes ahead.The Newfoundland and Labrador government must still reach a deal with Inco.

Doubting an alibi

It seemed like a surefire alibi when a cousin and a brother of accused killer Michael Skakel testified that Skakel was with them the night 15-year-old Martha Moxley was murdered. Moxley was beaten to death 27 years ago with a golf club at her parents' home in an exclusive neighborhood of Greenwich, Conn. But prosecutors at Skakel’s murder trial say the defendant, who is a nephew of Robert Kennedy’s widow Ethel Kennedy, and was also 15 at the time, has already admitted being on Moxley’s property the night she died. To prove their point, they played a recording in which Skakel, speaking to a writer, said he had been masturbating while perched in a tree, peering into Moxley’s window. Skakel, 41, could face life in prison if found guilty of killing his teenage neighbour.

The Week That Was

Canadian troops to depart Afghanistan

Proud and bloodied, Canada’s troops will pull out of Afghanistan this summer, despite pleas from the American high command that they stay longer to help root out al-Qaeda terrorists. The decision, welcomed by members of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry in dusty, tension-filled Kandahar, nonetheless created a firestorm in Parliament. Opposition critics and retired generals said the Liberal government was letting down its most important ally and paying the price for decades of neglecting the armed forces. Canadian troops should remain in combat in Afghanistan rather than be “directing traffic in Bosnia” as peacekeepers, said retired Maj.-Gen.

Lewis Mackenzie, the former United Nations commander in Sarajevo. Only a full commitment of ground forces, he argued, will assure Canada the respect it deserves at the international table.

Defence Minister Art Eggleton fended off the criticism, saying Canadian forces are already stretched too thinly around the globe to justify sending another infantry contingent to Afghanistan. Nearly 850 Canadian soldiers will return to their Edmonton base in late July and early August after fulfilling the standard six-month tour of duty. About 40 commandos and snipers from Canada’s elite Joint Task Force 2 will replace them In the region. But with nearly 3,800

peacekeepers already serving overseas from the Golan Heights to Bosnia, Canada has no large groups of fresh soldiers to take over from the Patricias.

In their first combat role since the Korean War, Canadian troops have served under U.S. command and been deployed both to guard the international base at Kandahar and to scour the Tora Bora mountains of eastern Afghanistan for al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters. They rounded up an undisclosed number of prisoners, but the operation was marred by tragedy. Four soldiers were killed when mistakenly bombed by a U.S.

F-16 fighter during a night training exercise in April. Last week, six more were hospitalized briefly after an explosive on the road

outside Kandahar blew up their armoured carrier.

In the days before the announcement of the Canadian withdrawal, the overall Western forces commander in the region, American Gen. Tommy Franks, noted that the fight against terrorism there is far from over. He singled out the Patricias for a firstrate contribution to the war effort. “They’ve done an absolutely wonderful job,” he said. While the troops will be going, Canada will keep three warships in the Arabian Sea as well as three Hercules transport planes and a pair of Aurora patrol planes to assist with surveillance and supply. But that isn’t enough to satisfy critics, who say Canada is pulling out because it can’t afford to stay.