2002-03-22 03:44:06

Hells bid adios to T.O. But fuss over mayor’s handshake lingers

The Hells Angels roared out of Toronto yesterday, leaving in their dust plenty of cash, defiant police and a red-faced mayor.

More than 400 bikers checked out of the downtown Holiday Inn on King St. W. after a weekend of shopping, sightseeing, dining, drinking and ogling strippers. Many left the hotel wearing white sweatshirts celebrating the Hells’ first anniversary in Ontario.

While the biker convention is over, the controversy may have just started for Mayor Mel Lastman, whose front-page handshake with a Hells Angel in The Saturday Sun made headlines for a second day across the country.

Quebec Public Security Minister Serge Menard told Le Journal de Montreal he was shocked when he heard about the incident.
Menard is heading the fight against the Hells Angels, their puppet gangs and the Bandidos after a five-year turf war that has left 160 dead, 200 wounded and 13 others missing.

Lastman insists he had no intention of welcoming criminals to Toronto. He said he was in the neighbourhood and dropped in on the hotel to check on things when he was approached by bikers with outstretched hands. (BRODIE FENLON)

Taiwan’s Move on Passports Step towards ‘Independence’

Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian said Sunday that he had given the go-ahead to add “Taiwan” to the cover of local passports.

His move has drawn criticism from both the mainland and Taiwan. The practice was described by Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office as “inching towards Taiwan independence.”

Chen Shui-bian’s Excuse
Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian said Sunday that he had given the go-ahead to do so.

Chen said the move was necessary to distinguish the island in the international community and offer convenience to Taiwan residents.

Practice “Inching” Towards Independence: TAC
Chen’s practice was described by Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office as “inching towards Taiwan independence.”

A spokesman of the Taiwan Affairs Office said Sunday that this was only an “excuse,” as the main purpose was to “realize the concept of Taiwan independence” and it is worth “paying attention to the move” in the future.

Move to Split the Country: Taiwan Parties
Taiwan’s “lawmaker” Fung Hu-hsiang, who is from the island’s New Party, said that the Taiwan authorities’ practice is “walking towards Taiwan independence”.

Cao Yuanzhang, who is from the People First Party of Taiwan, said it is the new move taken by Taiwan authorities to implement the policy of “Taiwan independence” and split the country step by step.

Details of Alteration Not Fixed
“Foreign ministry” spokesman of Taiwan Chang Siao-yue said Sunday that details of the passport alteration had not yet been fixed.

Chen Shui-bian, from the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, grabbed power after defeating the Kuomintang party in the election in 2000.

Hard-hats hear hard talk from Bush

Wrapping up a two-day tour on economic issues Tuesday, President Bush stepped up pressure on Democrats in the Senate to approve legislation that is pending on trade, energy and a stalled economic stimulus package.

In recent weeks, the president has sparred with the Democrat-controlled chamber on economic issues. He continued the tussle in a speech to workers at the Port of New Orleans, Louisiana.

“It’s about time they focused on creating jobs in America and get me a trade bill and an energy bill for the good of the American people,” Bush said of the Senate.

“An energy plan will help create jobs, a trade bill will create jobs,” he continued. “And we need a stimulus plan that says, ‘Let’s be smart. Let’s encourage entrepreneurs and people who buy equipment and let’s accelerate the tax relief so that this economy will grow so that people who want to work can find work.’ ”

Bush’s comments to the hard-hat clad workers came on the last leg of a tour in which he also visited workers Monday at a John Deere heavy-equipment plant in Illinois and farmers at a Missouri feed mill.

The stops, he said, were meant to highlight how the U.S. economy is linked. The industrial equipment produced in Illinois and the products grown by Missouri farmers, he noted, pass through the Louisiana port for export overseas.

“This isn’t a Republican issue. This isn’t a Democrat issue,” he said. “Trade is a jobs issue, and the United States Senate needs to hear the voices of the working people and get me a bill I can sign.”

The trade bill, known as “fast track” or “trade promotion authority,” passed by a single vote in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives last month, but only after Bush and other top Republicans engaged in an intense, last-minute push for votes.


Good drug/ bad drug

The widely used acne drug Accutane(acne medication), already controversial because of accusations it can lead to depression and even suicide, is once again a subject of fierce debate with the report it had been prescribed to Charles Bishop, the teenager who recently crashed a small airplane into an office building in Tampa, Fla. While critics believe Accutane is over-prescribed and should be more closely monitored, some dermatologists are resisting attempts to limit a medication they believe is an essential tool of their practice.

McLellan brings hope for health reform

Anne McLellan launched her tenure as Minister of Health yesterday by defending the record of her home province of Alberta, declaring public health care should not be “frozen in time” and stating she is “open” to changes to the Canada Health Act.

Americans to patrol Canadian ports

Global News on BCTV has learned U.S. customs officials will be stationed at Canadian ports in the near future, including the Port of Vancouver.

The unprecedented concession by the Canadian government is a direct result of September 11. The agents will be able to search Containers being sent to the United States for contraband, weapons and possible terrorist threats. And it just became a whole lot more difficult trying to sneak across the Canadian-U.S. border. Thirty-two surveillance cameras have been installed by the United States border patrol covering about 70 kilometres along Zero Avenue.

Ontario Power Generation to cut 2,000 jobs

Ontario Power Generation, the province’s biggest electricity producer, said Wednesday it will cut 2,000 jobs – or about 17 per cent of its work force – over the next two years.

Hidden caves found near U.S. base in Afghanistan

U.S. troops have discovered a cache of weapons in tunnels and caves just half a kilometre from the American air base at Kandahar airport in Afghanistan.