Brandon Sun (Newspaper) - June 29, 2002, Brandon, Manitoba
BRANDON SUN, Saturday, June 29, 2002
Israeli troops demolish Palestinian HQ
HEBRON, West Bank — Israeli forces blew up the fortress-like Palestinian headquarters where the army said wanted Palestinians were holed up, taking down one-quarter of it in one blast and leaving only rubble with a second early today, said nearby residents.
“I saw hills of rubble,” said Mohammed Maswadeh, whose windows were blown out by the blast about 120 metres away.
“There’s nothing called the headquarters anymore.”
The Israel army would only say its
operations were continuing in Hebron but Palestinians living in three other homes around the compound all said the building was no longer standing.
Before the second blast, the Israeli army commented on an earlier explosion that sent sparks and flames into the night sky. The army said then its forces had rigged a part of the building where it believed the wanted men had been hiding, ignoring four days of calls to surrender.
Military officials have said about 15 wanted men were believed to be holed up in the building. The army
spokesman’s office refused to say whether soldiers had confirmed any deaths or if there were any fresh indications of the number of people inside.
Heavy fog settled in over the area before the second blast and electricity failures in the area made it difficult to see the extent of damage. Curfews and an Israeli military order barring journalists made it impossible to approach.
A former Palestinian cabinet minister had been allowed in by the army yesterday to negotiate the surrender of the 15 wanted men who Israeli military officials have said were believed to be inside
but Talal Sidr said he couldn’t find the men.
The army said afterward its soldiers were certain the men were still inside, four days after surrounding the compound as part of a military offensive on the West Bank of the Jordan River.
The offensive has confined 700,000 Palestinians to their homes while soldiers search for Palestinians suspected of involvement in terror attacks. The open-ended campaign, prompted by twin suicide bombings that killed 26 Israelis, began IO days ago.
Also yesterday, Israelis expressed
anger about an Israeli army-released photograph showing a Palestinian baby dressed up like a suicide bomber with apparently fake ammunition belts and explosives strapped to its body.
Palestinian Labour Minister Ghassan Khatib said it was understandable Palestinians would teach their children violence toward Israelis.
The Israeli army, he said, distributed the picture to “tell the world that the Palestinians are teaching their children how to hate Israel and how to act against Israel — and I just want to say this is correct.” — Associated Press
Manson famfty^nember denied parole for 14th time
FRONTERA, Calif. — A parole board refused yesterday to grant freedom to former Charles Manson disciple Leslie Van Houten after a lengthy and emotional hearing at which she said she would always bear the sorrow of the cult killings that landed her in prison 33 years ago.
The ruling came after a prosecutor and the family of the victims urged the Board of Prison Terms never to grant parole to the now 52-year-old woman who was described as a model prisoner.
“This was a cruel and calculated murder and a matter that demonstrates a disregard for human suffering,” said Sharon Lawin, the board commissioner who chaired the hearing.
It was Van Houten’s 14th appearance before the parole board and had been considered her best chance yet of winning release. A judge earlier this month strongly admonished the board for flatly turning her down every time based solely on the crime, without taking into account her accomplishments in prison.
“My heart aches and there seems to be no way to convey the amount of pain I caused,” Van Houten told the state parole board during the hearing yesterday. “I don’t know what else to say.”
Charles Manson, his chief lieutenant Charles (Tex) Watson and three women — Van Houten, Susan Atkins and Patricia Krenwinkle — were convicted and sentenced to death for their roles in the 1969 slayings of actress Sharon Tate, Leno and Rosemary La Bianca, and four others. The sentences were later commuted to life when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the death penalty in the 1970s.
All five Manson “family” members are still behind bars.
Louis Smaldino, nephew of Leno La Bianca, told the board yesterday that Van Houten should stay in prison for the rest of her life.
“Miss Van Houten should already be dead for her part in these unprovoked murders,” he said. —Associated Press
WorldCom starts cutting workforce by 17,000
CLINTON, Miss. — WorldCom Inc. began laying off 17,000 workers worldwide yesterday, ending a week that saw the telecommunications giant disclose a massive accounting scandal that could force it into bankruptcy.
WorldCom revealed Tuesday that its internal auditors had found that $3.8 billion US was wrongly listed on its books as capital expenses in 2001 and 2002. That means WorldCom may have actually lost millions of dollars when it was reporting profits.
Yesterday, the company eliminated about 1,300 jobs in Virginia, 1,000 in Texas, nearly 700 in Maryland, 500 in Colorado and 250 in California. In other states, the numbers ranged from a few to a few hundred. The cuts account for about 20 per cent of the workforce of the Clinton-based company, which operates in 65 countries.
WorldCom’s Canadian operations consist of offices in Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver for a total workforce of just under 300 people.
Only about IO to 20 people were laid off across Canada, where no offices will be closed, said a worker at WorldCom Canada’s Toronto offices who wouldn’t give his name.
WorldCom was unavailable to confirm the Canadian layoffs.
Analysts have speculated that WorldCom’s Canadian operations — which sell Web hosting and high-speed Internet services mainly to business clients — could be in jeopardy if the company enters bankruptcy and is forced to sell off assets.
In Mississippi, the company employs 2,000 people. That number was reduced by about IOO yesterday.
“I’m going to miss the friends that I have inside, and I’m worried about what they’re going to do,” said Kimberly Spencer, a 31-year-old mother of two who lost her job in the accounting department at WorldCom headquarters.
Spencer, who cned as she described the sombre mood of her co-workers, said she and others were frustrated and angry.
WorldCom’s largest employment base — about 9,000 — is in the Washington, D.C., area, where MCI Communications had its headquarters and where chief executive John Sidgmore has his office. WorldCom bought MCI in 1998 for $30 billion US.
— Associated Press
Xerox admits revenues overstated by billions
Members of the Sierra Hothot crew, of Oakhurst, Calif., maintain the fire line during a back burn near Cibucue, Ariz., yesterday. The defensive measure was used to combat the Rodeo-Chediski fire that has spread across 439,000 acres. A third of the firefighters protecting the mountain town of Show Low shifted to another front yesterday as the blaze slipped into rugged canyon terrain south of a small community.
Experts say police aren’t dragging heels in search for missing Utah girl
By Patty Henetz
- Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY — For more than a week, investigators looking into the disappearance of Elizabeth Smart urgently wanted to talk to a drifter they said might have information about the mysterious abduction.
But once Bret Edmunds was found, recovering from a drug overdose in a hospital about 2,900 kilometres away, police appeared to Jose interest. And Richard Rica, an ex-convict who once worked as a handyman in the Smart home, went to the top of the list of potential suspects.
There were earlier dead ends in the three-week-old case — the man with a missing front tooth and a multicoloured Rastafarian-style knit hat, the apparently fruitless search of neaiby Emigration Canyon for the girl.
So does this mean the Salt Lake City police are floundering, much as Boulder, Colo., police were accused of doing in the JonBenet Ramsey case?
Not at all, some experts say. They say
Salt Lake City investigators appear to be doing what they need to do to build a case.
To Mike King, a criminal justice instructor, investigator for the Utah attorney general’s office and co-ordinator of the Utah Criminal Tracking and Analysis Project, it is methodical police work.
In fact, he said, police investigating a crime should not come to a conclusion too soon.
“We can sometimes develop a theory before we have all tile lacb,” King said. “Then we can spend all our time adjusting our facts to fit the theory.”
Police say 14-year-old Elizabeth was taken at gunpoint from her bedroom rn the early-morning hours of June 5.
The early stages of the case were marked by misinformation.
Police initially reported that Elizabeth’s nine-year-old sister, Mary Katherine, was threatened by the kidnapper. But after police talked a fourth time with the younger girl, they changed their account and said that Mary
Katherine had pretended to be asleep through much of the abduction and that the kidnapper may not have realized she was watching.
Investigators say that during the first couple of days, police had to move fast — and chase down all sorts of possibilities — because the chances of finding the teen unharmed diminished as the hours passed.
Scott Robinson, a Denver defence attorney who closely watched the 1996 JonBenet case, said police in Boulder were accused of sloppy police work and were criticized for their refusal to quickly call in the FBI and for what was seen as arrogance when anyone asked a tough question.
In contrast, Salt Lake City investigators appear to be highly professional, Robinson said. If they are withholding investigative details, the lawyer said, that is exactly what they should be doing.
Certain crime-scene details known only to the police and the suspect can be used to confirm whether investigators have the right man.
STAMFORD, Conn. — Xerox Corp. announced yesterday that it had overstated revenue by billions of dollars over the past five years, including $1.9 billion US that should properly be recorded in the future.
The news, which comes in the wake of a series of recent reports of corporate accounting irregularities, sent Xerox shares sharply lower. They fell $1.16 a share, or 14.5 per cent, to $6.84 US in midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
The restatement was required under a settlement Xerox reached with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The SEC said in April that accounting improprieties increased the copier company’s pretax profits by $1.5 billion US from 1997 through 2000.
Without admitting or denying wrongdoing, Xerox settled with the SEC by paying a $10 million civil penalty, the largest levied against a company for financial-reporting violations.
The adjustments announced yesterday cover an additional year beyond those examined before the SEC settlement and reduce revenues and pretax
income for 1997, 1998 and 1999 while increasing revenues and pretax income for 2000 and 2001.
Xerox said it would file a IGK statement reflecting the restatement for 1997-2000 and adjustments to 2001.
“Xerox today closes a difficult chapter in the company’s history. And, we are firm in our resolve to ensure the highest integrity of the company’s financial reporting,” said Anne Mulcahy, chairwoman and chief executive of Xerox.
Xerox said total, pretax income over a five-year period declined by $1.4 billion from previously reported amounts.
About $1.9 billion of revenue that was recognized over past years has been reversed cmd will be recognized in the company’s future results, beginning this year. Revenues for 1997-2001 have been reduced by two per cent to $91 billion.
For 1997 through 2001, the company reversed $6.4 billion of previously recorded equipment sale revenue. That figure was offset by $5.1 billion of revenue that has been recognized and reported during the same period as service, rental, document outsourcing and financing revenues. — AP
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Bush, advisers met twice on terrorism before attacks
WASHINGTON — President George W. Bush’s national security leadership met formally nearly IOO times in the months prior to the Sept. 11 attacks yet terrorism was the topic during only two of those sessions, officials say.
The White House acknowledged the dearth of top-level meetings devoted to the subject of terrorism by the “principals committee” of the National Security Council. Yet it has aggressively defended the level of attention, given only scattered hints of al-Qaida activity.
One current security council official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that intensive planning of anti-terrorism strategies was largely the role of midlevel committees at the NSC — not the cabinet-level players.
The description of the 90 to IOO meetings was confirmed by three White House officials.
Critics said the low number of terrorism meetings by the most senior members of the security council indicated the administration’s priorities were elsewhere.
“What were the principals doing to bring this to the attention of the president?” asked P. J. Crowley, council spokesman for the Clinton adminibttation. “Given our growing under
standing of this threat that we built in ’90s about the emerging threat of terrorism, they just didn’t seem to get it."
Clinton officials said their council principals met every two to three weeks to discuss terrorist threats after mid-1998. Those meetings increased during times of heightened terrorist concerns, such as immediately prior to the millennium celebrations, when the principals met nearly every day to discuss threat levels.
Bush’s principals committee was focused on missile defence, Iraq, China, international economic pokey, global warming and the U.S. stance toward Russia, a subject of particular interest to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, a Russian expert who has now worked for both Bush presidents.
One discussion on terrorism occurred July 3, amid escalating concerns about a likely attack by al-Qaida, one official said. But experts believed al-Qaida would attack American targets overseas, not inside the United States.
The other terrorism meeting occurred Sept. 4 as the security council put finishing touches on a proposed national security policy review for the president. — Associated Press
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