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Showing posts from August, 2007

Revisiting Virginia Tech: The Conclusion

Three students, fighting for their lives, had kept Seung Hui Cho out of German class where he had come to finish them off. ( ) Cho pumped five or six shots into the door in frustration. Then he turned and walked across the hall to Room 204/ Solid Mechanics class. He was in for a surprise. The class had been in high alert from the moment Prof. Liviu Librescu saw Cho, gun in hand, leaving the room next door, Room 206, about three minutes earlier. Librescu told his students to get to the back of the room while he kept watch by the door. Two male students had bolted for safety, only to wind up right in front of Cho, who shot one of them twice. Back in Room 204, the students were doing what they could. "Everybody just got down on the ground," said Richard Mallalieu, 23. "We used desks to shield ourselves. One of my friends (Alex Calhoun - ed.) called 911." "Somebody went up to the do

Revisiting the Virginia Tech massacre Part Two

Review, rethink and revise Blame our obsessive need to know the truth. To achieve our goal of providing the very best account of what happened April 16, 2007 at Virginia Tech we've had to constantly review our source material and, if necessary, rewrite our story to incorporate new information. We have to do it again. The transcript of a 911 call from Room 211/French class gives us a rough timeline to what happened in the last eight minutes of the massacre. While preparing this piece, we came across an obscure first-hand account by a student in Room 205. The story ( 'It was the most horrifying sight' , April 19, 2007, Times News Network, Times of India) was attributed to "a computer engineering student at Virginia Tech who was present in the Norris Hall that day. He wants his name to be withheld because the university has barred students from talking to the media." A little bit of detective work matching quotes identified the student as Zach Petkewicz, whose sug

The War in Afghanistan 2007 Week 33

1-2-3. The cut and thrust of war was the story in Afghanistan last week. 1. The American launched a furious offensive in the Tora Bora region of eastern Afghanistan. The air assault on the first day was unlike anything seen all year. 2. Five Nato soldiers were killed in separate attacks. 3. A disappointing lack of progress in rebuilding the vital Kajaki Dam Tora Bora You want shock and awe? You got it. The Americans got wind in July that 300 Arab, Chechen, and Pakistani insurgents had moved into the mountains of Tora Bora a month earlier. The Tora Bora cave complex is "an entrenched network of caves and tunnels carved into the Safed Koh mountain range on the Nangarhar-Pakistan border." It's where many believe Osama Bin Laden and his Al Qaeda followers made their final stand against a U.S. air assault before escaping into Pakistan in 2001. On Sunday, Aug. 12, U.S. airpower returned to Tora Bora with a vengeance. The skies over Nangarhar province were full of Air Forc

Revisiting the Virginia Tech massacre: Breath-taking new information

Virginia Tech began its fall semester Monday. We're going to mark the return to classes by revisiting that dark hour in April when Seung-Hui Cho roamed the halls, killing 25 students and 5 staff members and wounding over a dozen. By incorporating vital new information we can correct mistakes in our previous stories and put the events into a better perspective than was possible before. The Rosetta Stone to the story is a transcript of a 911 call from Virginia Tech which was released to the Washington Post in June. It allows us to orient the happenings at the school and to correlate various time estimates by students. The results are often breath-taking. Cho's rampage started much later than we thought and took much less time than we imagined. He killed 30 people in four classrooms in the space of only 11 minutes. And, we now know that the shots caught on a student's videophone and broadcast on CNN were Cho's final rampage, the exact moment when he was killing students

O'Learygate: Follow The Money

continued... A school board headed by the NDP's former campaign chairman uses public funds to engage in an unauthorized, illicit land development scheme and loses $300,000 while the NDP Minister of Education turns a blind eye. And the provincial Auditor General hasn't a word of condemnation for either man in her so-called "special audit." What's wrong with this picture? Auditor Carol Bellringer says because she couldn't find that anyone in government or at the school board personally profitted from the land deal, nothing is wrong with this picture. The ethics of misusing taxpayer dollars and then covering it up escaped her. The political connections between the parties was the farthest thing from her mind, and her audit. She also spent as little time as humanly possible examining the fishy accounting that supposedly tells the financial story of the Seven Oaks School Board's short experience as land developers. WE didn't. Here's the sorry story unra

Auditor gives O'Learygate a makeover

Come one. Come all. See the amazing contortionist Auditor General of Manitoba bend and twist herself into unnatural and painful positions as she tries to shape a new reality from the scandal known as O'Learygate. In fact, the role of Brian O'Leary, who gives his name to the scandal, is not even explored in Auditor Carol Bellringer's "special audit". O'Leary, the superintendent of the Seven Oaks School Division --- and former NDP campaign manager --- guided the division's illicit foray into illegal development of Swinford Park with public money. And he still gets a pass in Bellringer's books. The special audit took 20 months--yes, that's twenty months--to answer three main questions. Q: Was the Seven Oaks School Division's land development project lawful? A: No. Q: When they got caught, did they admit what they were doing? A: No . Q: Who's to blame? A: Ah, there's the rub... Bellringer worked long and hard to massage that answer. First s

The War in Afghanistan 2007 Week 32

What's that saying about not seeing the forest for the trees? Well, that perfectly describes how the mainstream media is covering the mission in Afghanistan. This past week we read how five Canadian soldiers were injured when their RG-31 Nyala armoured vehicle struck an IED in a Taliban ambush. The reporter for Canwest News, Andrew Maueda, couldn't help himself from making the snide comment "The attack came only hours after a top Canadian military commander touted the progress Canada has made in securing the province against insurgents." But here's a story that didn't make the news: the Taliban have abandoned their 29 training camps in North and South Waziristan, the border area of Pakistan. That's right. The pressure got too great and they split for the hills (literally in some cases). Anticipating military strikes from the American and Pakistani forces, the Taliban ran. They didn't chose to leave. They were forced to. In other words, another victor