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Billings Gazette Newspaper Archive: May 15, 1975 - Page 1

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   Billings Gazette (Newspaper) - May 15, 1975, Billings, Montana                                30 of ship's crew are returned WASHINGTON (AP) A Cambodian vessel wav- ing a white flag surrendered 30 American crew members from the captured merchant ship Mayaguez to an American destroyer In the Gulf of Thailand, the Pentagon reported Wednesday night. WASHINGTON (AP) Marines stormed on board the U.S. merchant ship Mayaguez held captive by Cambodia for three days and fought their way onto an island where the vessel's 39 American crewmen were believed prisoner. A White House statement issued at p.m. MDT Wednesday said that President Ford had ordered the Mayag'uez seized, even as Phnom Penh radio broad- cast a n offer to release t lie ship. According to Pentagon officials the Marine assault force met heavy resistance on Koh Tang Island and had to call for air strikes by U.S. fighter-bombers. It was understood the' Marines took some heavy losses, but no details were available. Pentagon spokesmen speaking on the record said "a couple hundred Marines" were used to take the ship and land on the island. Maj. Gen. Wynant Sidle told reporters at the Pen- tagon that he had no word of the imprisoned crewmen, but he said the ship had been found empty of either Americans or Cambodians. Congressional sources said they were told in a special briefing that contingency plans called for American bombing of mainland Cambodian targets, including the major port city of Sihanoukville. However, the planes were kept to the island target when opposition appeared limited to that area. As the Marines dropped onto their targets by helicopters, President Ford was sitting in the ornate State Dining Room of the White House, entertaining the Dutch prime minister and assorted guests. Earlier in the day, U.S. warplanes had sunk three Cambodian gunships when efforts were made to move the crewmen from the island. Presidential Press Secretary Ron Nessen called newsmen into the White House briefing room and issued this statement: "The President has directed the following military measures, starting this evening, Washington time: Marines to board theS.S. Mayaguez, Marines to land on Koh Tang Island in order to rescue any crew members as may be on the island. from the carrier The Coral Sea to un- dertake associated military operations to regain the vessel and members of the crew." Nessen then added that the operation was in progress and Marines had stormed the ship. Nessen's briefing came about an hour after a broadcast was monitored in Washington from Phnom Penh radio saying that "our Royal Government of National Union in Cambodia will order the Mayaguez to withdraw from Cambodian territorial waters and will warn it against further es- pionage or provocative activities." Nessen took note of this and responded. "We have Nessen said in reading a message sent to Cambodia, "a radio broadcast that you are prepared to release the S.S, Mayguez. We welcome this development, if true. "As you know, we have seized the ship. As soon as you issue a statement that you are prepared to release the crew members you hold unconditionally and immediately, we will promptly cease military operations." (Turn to Marines on P. 10) 90th Year-No. 13 .Billings, Montana, Thursday Morning, May Land swindle case may be largest ever TALLAHASSEE, State officials said Wednesday they have uncovered what may be the largest land fraud swindle history of the nation, involving thousands of victims and up to billion in lost in- vestments. Details of the alleged fraud were disclosed on the eve of a strategy meeting between fed- eral, state and local authorities called by state Atty'. Gen. Robert Shevin and Comptroller Gerald Lewis "to coordinate a massive in- vestigation of mortgage fraud allegations." "This thing is so big and we've got so many overlapping jurisdictions involved that we're just now getting a picture of what's going said Lewis. "But the Postal Service thinks it may be the biggest frqud in the history of the country." The scheme allegedly involves the pyramid- type sale of fake first mortgages on property. Lewis, who is responsible for enforcing Florida's security laws, said the investigation so far involves 56 land developments which allegedly have defrauded between and 80.000 people out of ?350 million to billion through the sale of unsecured high interest rate corporate notes. Lewis said investigators have discovered in- terlocking ownerships in many of the corpo- rations and said some of the principals "have known links with organized crime." "What we have uncovered here Is probably one of the .worst frauds encompassing more of Florida's citizen.? and unwary s peculators irony outside' 'df'frie'state'tha'ri we have ever said Shevin. "It is going }o demand all of the resources in people power and money that we can musier at all levels of government, to t bring the worst and most flagrant offenders to justice." Florida has a history of land fraud dating to the boom of the 1920s, but the current investigation'differs from past cases "because here, it is investors in these 14-per cent notes being stuck and not the people buying said Lewis. "Its typical'victim is not the well-heeled, sophisticated Lewis added. "He's the middle-class retiree who stands to lose everything he's worked a lifetime for. "In that sense it's not just one of the biggest frauds in history, it's also one of the most cynical." Shevin and Lewis gave the following ex- planation of the complicated workings of the alleged fraud, which they said surpasses similar schemes uncovered in Arizona. A land development corporation buys a large tract of land with money borrowed from a bank or, in many cases, an investment group, (Turn to Swindle on P. 10) Electric power ample By LOUISE COOK Associated Press Writer The nation's utilities say they are in good shape for summer, with most companies reporting that they have the ability to generate more electricity than they expect customers to use. Higher prices rather than short supplies will be the main -problem this year. Officials contacted in an Associated Press survey said Wednes- day their optimism depended on continued conservation and nor- mal weather, but added that the situation has improved from last year. "We think we'll be in good shape this said Bryan Gosling, a spokesman for the New York Slate power pool. "We're forecasting energy requirements for 1975 to be about 4.1 per cent above he said, adding that the system which provides virtually all the electricity used in the state has a generating capacity 10 per cent higher than it did last year. Gosling said, "We think we have an adequate operating margin, barring contingencies (like) an extended period of hot weather." Gary Reeves, information officer for Public Service Co. of Colorado had a similar view. "We expect to have about a 15 to 20 per cent reserve capacity which ought to handle any emergen- said, (Turn to Power on P. 10) Index (Six sections) Classified .............16-51 Comics, Landers.........42 Deaths, weather.........10 Entertainment...........46 Family living.........22-23 Markets...................38 Opinion................20-21 Sports..................29-33 Sunny Mostly sunny and warmer Thursday with variable cloudiness and widely scattered showers and thunderstorms Thurs- day night and Friday. More weather on Page 10. Eye opener Have you noticed how irrelevant relevancy has suddenly become? Another Colstrip ruling due HELENA (AP) A court session set for Monday in Helena should determine if the Board of Natural Resources will proceed the following day wilh its scheduled hearing on the propos- ed construction of two electrical .generating plants at Colstrip. Last Friday, the Northern Cheyenne Indian Tribe asked the courl lo order lhat the hearing be delayed until the Board of Health determines If the two 700-mcgawatl, coal- fired plants would not violate stale and federal air-ami water- quality standards. The Monday court' session was ordered by Judge Gordon H. Bennett for the various par- lies to the issue lo demonstrate why the tribe's petition should not be granted. Among those named as re- spondents to the petition are the Board of Natural Re- sources, Ihe Board of Health and the five utility companies seeking lo construct the plants. The tribe contends that it would be useless for the Board of Natural Resources lo consid- er the project until the environ- mental questions are settled by the Board of Health. The peti- tion says state law prohibits the Natural Resources Board from approving the project unless health authorities determine that the plant operations would not violate pollution regu- lations. The project is a venture of the Montana Power Puget Sound Power and Light, Port- land General Electric, Wash- ington Waler Power, and Pacif- ic Power nnd Lighl. Thailand issues threat to U.S. BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) Thailand threatened its long- time ally, the United States, with "drastic action" unless Marines sent here because of the Mayaguez crisis leave immediately. A Foreign Ministry official angrily called the U.S. air attacks on the Cambodian vessels "piracy" and "madness an action taken with no thought for the consequences of Thailand." Official tempers also rose over the use of U.S. bases in Thailand for the sinking of three Cambodia gunboats. The demand for the removal of the Magines came from Prime Minister Kukrit Prambj who said he wanted them out by Thursday morning (Wednesday night New York time) or his government would take "drastic action." He did not elaborate nor did he cite a specific hour for withdrawal of the Marines. Thailand is 11 hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time. "What if Cambodia decides to asked the ministry official. "It cannot retaliate against the Americans; they are too far away. But it tan retaliate against Thailand which is right next door. "The United States must pay for whatever consequences fol- low from this." The Pentagon reported in Washington that U.S. Air Force planes sank three Cambodian navy patrol craft and crippled four others to prevent attempts to take the 39 crewmen of the Mayaguez from Koh Tang, an island off the Cambodian coast, to the mainland. The fate of the crewmen was not known. Koh Tang is about 200 miles from the U.S.-run Utapao air base on the south coast of Thailand, to which the Marines were flown before dawn without the permission of the Thai government or consultation with the U.S. Embassy here. The Thai military command, which clears all international military flights in and out of the country, apparently was notified in advance of the arrival of the Marines. But a communication Rap has existed between the government and the military since the military dictatorship was overthrown in October 1973. (Turn to Thailand on P. 10) O.S. is target for Laotian mob VIENTIANE, Laos (AP) A student mob ransacked an American'agency Wednesday in the town of Savannakhet and took three staff members captive, a U.S. Embassy official reported: The anti-American disorders coincided with Laos' shift toward communism. The Americans were believed unharmed and being held in the province governor's house in the Mekong River town just across from Thailand. The mob, apparently demonstrating against both high food prices and the U.S. presence, broke into the compound of the Agency for International Development and ransacked it of rice and other food supplies. U.S. Charge d'Affaires Christian A. Chapman presented an of- ficial protest over the attack and the capture of the Americans to Prernier Prince Souvanna Phouma. The coalition government, in which the Communist-oriented Pathet Lao recently gained dominance through the resignations of important rightists, was to send investigators from both its right and left wings to Sav- annakhet on Thursday. A similar student mob sacked the AID compound in Luang Prabang, the royal capital 200 miles north of Vietniane, but the four Americans there were thought to be safe, embassy sources said. The disorders made the position of Americans more pre- carious in this landlocked Indochinese nation of 2.7 million per- sons. The U.S. Slate Department said in Washington it will begin cutting the size of its embassy staff in Laos by the end of the week. Spokesman Robert Funseth said there are no plans to close the embassy, but all American officials have been called into Vientiane from countryside posts. In Vientiane an embassy spokesman said reduction in staff has been going on for some time and will now possibly be speeded up. Fragmentary radio reports from Luang Prabang said a mob of about students, teachers and pcdicab drivers ransacked the AID compound there and raided its rice supplies. They also reportedly seized food from stores in the city of The reports said the mob occupied the provincial governor's of- fices and began to distribute the rice taken from American stocks, apparently in protest against the country's 70 per cent in- flation and skyrocketing prices. Reports circulated that similar demonstrations would be held in Vientiane on Thursday or Friday. Prison ends ban on pornography MISSOULA (AP) A U.S. district court judge in Missoula has taken under advisement the suit of a Montana State Prison in- male who alleges that prison officials scrutinized his mail and barred him from receiving pornographic materials from a national magazine. Inmate Gary Quigg claims prison officials withheld books and magazines and interfered with his mail. Warden Roger Crisl testified that the prison no longer controls sexually oriented materials addressed to prisoners. Crist told Judge Russell E. Smith pornographic materials were withheld from Quigg under what officials believed were valid laws. "Under the present rules and regulations, we would deliver the hooks to Crist said. Quigg said he subscribed to the Evergreen Review magazine in May 1971. He said books were promised as a subscription bonus, hut that he received only two. He said James Blodgett, a deputy warden, told him he could not receive other books because they "dirty." Dlodgetl said the prison officials no longer felt Ihey had a basis for such censorship. "We turned down only one book in the lasl year. II advocated rebellion in the prison and killing of correc- lions he said. Quigg also testified he was denied the right to subscribe to several West Coast publications He said the prison had delayed his legal and regular cor- respondence and photocopied his Incoming nnd outgoing mail. President Ford waits to begin a meeting of congressional leaders to brief them on U. S. steps to reclaim the Mayaguez "First raid was news fo Congress leaders (C) New York Times WASHINGTON The White House said Wednesday that President Ford had consulted witli Congressional leaders before ordering an attack on Cambodian gunboats. At least some of those leaders later insisted, however, that they had not been consulted but merely in- formed of a presidential decision already taken. The conflicting views could rekindle the long-smoldering dispute between Congress and the White House over (he war-making powers of the President. Tuesday the White House press secretary, Ron Nessen. told reporters that Ford would "consult" with Congress before ordering any military action to rescue the seized American frei ghter, Mayaguez, or i Is c rew. He quoted the Congressional War Powers Resolution of 1973, which states, in part, that "The President in every possible instance shall consult with Congress before introducing United States armed forces into hostilities or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is tlearly indicated..." At Wednesday's news briefing, Nessen said that the President, through his Congressional relations staff, "did consult" with Democratic and Republican leaders of the House and Senate between and 6 p.m. Tuesday, "three hours before the fact." The statement issued by the Defense Department Wednesday indicated that the attack began shortly after p.m. EOT. However, Sen. Mike Mansfield, Democratic leader of the Senate and one of those listed by Nessen as having been con- sulted, said in a telephone interview Wednesday: "1 was not consulted. 1 was notified after the fact about what the Administration had already decided to do." In a statement released later, Mansfield said. "I did not give my approval or dis- nppros'aJ because the decision (about the (Turn to Congress on P. 10) Did U.S. intelligence miss danger signals? (C) Washington Star WASHINGTON The capture of an American ship by the new Communist regime in Cambodia may have resulted from a major blunder of U.S. intelligence. The U. S. government had received a number of danger signals before the merchantman Mayaguez was boarded by arm- ed Cambodians Monday and taken with its 39 U. S. seamen to a Cambodian port. In answer to questions, officials could find no indication that the danger signs had registered sufficiently to cause precautionary steps to be taken. This suggested a situation comparable to the capture of the Pueblo by North Korea in 1968 afler Pyongyang had warned against the U. S. spy ships's operations off its coast. The warnings were ignored. In the case of the Mayaguez, however. Hie White House said that the vessel was not a spy ship. The danger signs known here before Ihe Mayaguez's capture include the following: Cambodia's major seaport of Kom- pong Som was taken over by the Khmer Rouge, at least one U.S.-supplied gunboat had been put into operation by the Communists. Cambodian gunboat had slopped a Panamanian ship last Thursday in the' same area approximately 60 miles offshore where the Mayaguez was captured. It was later released. least three ships in which Cambodian refugees fled after Phnom Penh fell are now at the U.S. naval base at Subic Bay in the Philip- pines, giving the new regime a motive to lake a U.S. vessel for barter purposes. claims the Wai Islands, about eight miles from the point of capture, and therefore claims the territorial waters around it. The island is also claimed by Vietnam. to one report received at the Pentagon some days ago, the new Cambodian regime has also claimed territorial'waters up to 90 nautical miles from shore, which would include not only the Wai islands but also a sizable stretch of the shipping lane around Vietnam and Cambodia to Thailand from the east. -Perhaps most important in adding all these up, the new Cambodian regime has shown bitter hostility to the United States. Some of the danger signs, officials disclosed Monday after the capture; were buried in secret intelligence reports. Others were registered in collections of material on the changing situation in Cambodia. Use of force favored by Mayaguez officer (C) Chicago Dally News CHICAGO The chief male of the merchant ship Mayaguez was watching a soap opera in his suburban Ml. Prospect home when a television bulletin told him that the Cambodians had seized his ship on the high seas. Capl. John N. Hill would have been on hoard, except for a leave he began last Friday to be home wilh his prcgant wife Patti, Hill says he knows what he would want the United States lo do, if lie were on board that ship. "We should go in there wilh Ihrce Marine divisions and 100 B-52s lo gel Ihcm Hill said Tuesday night. "We should set a deadline of a day or two lo have them bring Ihe ship to a point on the high seas for ii rendezvous. II they don't, we should go in there and gel (hem. "I don't think they (the Cambodians) un- derstand anything but force." "Il's just a dlrecl act of provocation un- mitigated Hill slid. He compared the Cambodian ship's seizure of (lie vessel wilh "n mugger with a revolver coming up to a little old lady." Hill said he sometimes talked wilh Capt. Charles Miller about the possibility of .seizure, Relief skipper John Hill likened the seizure to "an armed robber mugging a little old lady." hut "came lo no real conclusions." "Wi> realized there's nothing you could do. You don't have any strength and your prime objective is to keep the ship going, not to he a filory boy." Docs he feel lucky to have made such a narrow escape from the fate now faced by his crewmatcs? "No, in a way feel like a cheater, not be- ing with my Hill said. "Rut of course I'm pretty happy lo be home with my wife."   

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