COLUMBINE MASSACRE, AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY
LITTLETON, Colo. _ Two young men in fatigues and black trench coats attacked fellow students with guns and explosives in a suicide mission at Columbine High School in Denver's suburbs, killing 12 students and one teacher.
The gunmen were later found dead in the library.
On that horrible day, tears often welling in my eyes, there was one spot of brightness. First a small batch, then another, followed by a cascade of flowers that buried a small tree in Clement Park. I felt like I was at Lourdes.
Washington PostBULLETIN: Two suspects in Colorado school shooting dead, police say.
By Robert Weller
Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, April 20, 1999; 6:03 p.m. EDT
LITTLETON, Colo. -- Two people whom witnesses described as young men dressed in long, black trench coats opened fire in a suburban Denver high school today, scattering students as gunshots ricocheted off lockers. At least 20 people were injured, including one girl shot nine times. Others wounded were trapped inside for hours.
Two suspects in Colorado school shooting dead, police say.
During a two-week period in November of 1971 two planes were hijacked over Montana, where I was working for United Press International. They were among the first of a wave of hijackings. The first skyjacker, Paul Cini, was overpowered by the crew. The second was by the legendary D.B. Cooper, who parachuted from the back of a jet and was never seen again.
Ten years later, legendary mercenary Col. Mad Mike Hoare, traveling with 40 men disguised as a rugby team, attempted a coup in the Seychelles and when it failed hijacked an Air Indian jet and forced the pilot to fly it to South Africa, where he and his men were arrested. I flew to Durban on a small plane owned by a CBS cameraman and dear friend. When I phoned the desk in Johannesburg and told them there were 40 hijackers they inititally didn't want to believe me until I told them the source was a security policeman I knew from previous encounters.
LEADVILLE, Colo. _ In 1882, Oscar Wilde visited this rough-and-tumble mining town high in the Rockies and read the works of Renaissance author Benvenuto Cellini to a group of townspeople.
The crowd liked it so much they asked Wilde why he hadn't brought the writer along. Wilde explained that Cellini was dead.
"Who shot him?" someone in the crowd asked.
As of Friday, the mines that made Leadville a tough and pitiless Wild West outpost are all gone. But while the place is a far cry from its heyday, when 40,000 people packed the city, Leadville is no ghost town.
In fact, Leadville is booming again, a growing middle-class community of charming Victorian homes.
"Leadville will never die because living here becomes the most important thing in your life," said Stephanie Olson, who gave up her law practice to care for her kids and run a small scenic railroad in Leadville, at 10,430 feet the nation's highest incorporated city.
BLACK SWAN EVENTS
The Black Swan theory holds that rare events awake world consciousness Hopefully, the BP oil spill will turn out to be what some call a “black swan event.”
Latin poet and satirist Juvenal used the term 2,000 years ago. “A good person is as rare as a black swan,” he said.
The idea is that sometimes things happen that are so bizarre and impossible to predict they are “black swan events,” and some in the oil industry would say the Deepwater Horizon is one of those. Rare it may be, unprecedented it's not on some occasions. Just unheard of.
Also, Australia has black swans. And, according to author Nassim Nicholas Taleb, sometimes black swan events can help wake people up.
While the 9/11 terrorist attacks qualify, so does the rise of the personal computer. The Lebanese-born Taleb talked about them in his “The Black Swan Theory,” written in 2007. It is possible that it is an offshoot of "Chaos Theory." These are what are called “outliers,” events outside normal experience. For those appalled by the spill, it may be of some comfort to know that these rare events seem to have much more effect on the collective consciousness than day-to-day events.
ESKIMOS RISK LIVES IN HUNT FOR BOWHEAD WHALE
"Robert Weller, Chief of the Associated Press bureaus in Alaska, had the rare experience of joining Eskimo whale hunters in 1978 their pursuit of the bowhead whale on the Bering Sea. Here is his account."
Only walrus hide a quarter-inch thick separates the whaling crew from the icy Bering Sea. At times you can see the water through the skin of the boat.
Leonard Apangalook, the captain works the sails skillfully to search in silence for the bowhead whale.
Preston Apangalook - the crew is made up of the four Apangalook brothers - is ready to toss the harpoon if a whale draws near. Paul stands lookout.The other brother, Mike, helps Leonard monitor CB radio traffic in Eskimo dialect on whale sightings.
As a long-time skier I had considerable experience with cold. And I wore a $500 Arctic World AP had bought for me in 1976. Still, sitting still, I felt like I would only be warm if I was cremated like Robert Service's Sam McGee.
FROM SHANTI VANA TO ETERNITY
SHANTI VANA, India _ Rajiv Gandhi, dutiful son, circled his mother's body seven times and touched her face lightly with a burning piece of sandalwood. Then, as hundreds of thousands watched, he lighted the butter-soaked logs beneath her. The 40-year-old Gandhi, who had already taken over his mother's office as prime minister, was now fulfilling his role as sole, surviving son, consigning her to eternity in the ancient Indian rite of cremation.
As the flames leaped higher, he and other mourners erected a pyramid of logs over her flower-covered red sari, and Hindu priests chanted mantras and prayers beseeching that her remains be scattered to the air and ground, the wind and water. White smoke curled into the air.
The estimated 400,000 Indians swarming over the grassy flats beside the Yamuna River raised cry after cry of tribute to the assassinated government chief, the woman who had led the country for 15 years.
*The entire staff, the late Foreign Editor Nate Polowetzky and visiting writers, including and legendary photographer Horst Faas helped.
STORM KING FIRE KILLS 14 FIREFIGHTERS
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. _ Flames trapped firefighters battling a fierce wildfire on Wednesday, killing at least 14.
About 50 firefighters were trapped and overcome by flames as they fought the 500-acre (200-hectare) fire on Storm King Mountain west of here, said Garfield County Undersheriff Levy Burris.
The WeatherService had warned deadly winds could cause the fire to erupt, but somehow the message didn't reach everyone. And some of the victims, from Oregon, were not familiar with the vegetation and how readily it burned.
A SMILE AS WARM AS A CAMPFIRE ON A COLD WINTER NIGHT
STARWOOD, Colo. _ John Denver could make himself understood with a smile, whether in the Soviet Union during the Cold War, Africa during a famine or with Kermit the Frog. Stuck in an African town on the other side of the world from his beloved Aspen he couldn't resist taking out a guitar and playing “Darcy Farrow” when this reporter mentioned how much he loved it.
Our friendship didn't end in Africa. I met him again in Alaska and several times in Colorado. I also covered his funeral and musical made as a tribute, "Almost Heaven."
JUST A FRIEND FROM ANOTHER STAR
VAIL, Colo. _ Christopher Reeve DIDN'T walk by the time he turned 50, as he once vowed, but giving up wasn't in the vocabulary of the articulate former Juilliard student.
Instead, he kept speaking around the country, finishing a second book, battling to lift
restrictions on research that could lead to a cure to his paralysis, and
exercising almost daily.
"There will be a cure. It is very important for me to stay in the best
possible condition to be prepared," he said in an interview at a weekend
fund-raising event for the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation.
IN THE TENERE REGION OF THE SAHARA (AP) First it appeared like confetti in the endless sand. Then big chunks of fuselate shattered in the crash that killed all 171 aboard, came
into view. It was hard to imagine in a low-level flight over the scene that the
pieces ever came together to form a jumbo jet.
Investigators in the Tenere Desert, the heart of the Sahara, worked in 113-degree
heat Thursday to determine a cause for the crash of the Paris-bound DC-10
two days earlier. They recovered the flight and voice recorders from
the wreckage, a spokesman at the French Foreign Ministry in Paris
said Thursday night.
Blackened bodies were scattered across the desert.
The dead included seven Americans, among them Bonnie Pugh, wife
of the U.S. ambassador to Chad, Robert L. Pugh. Other victims
included a Chadian Cabinet minister, two Swiss priests and eight
More than 20 years later Gaddafi was paid back when he was killed by his own people, rebelling against his tyranny.
ASHES OF DREAMS IN MOUNTAIN PINES
PINE JUNCTION, Colo. _ Down the mountain road, freshly scrawled signs thank firefighters "for saving our dreams." Patsy and Steve Kruzek have only memories. "This place may be beautiful again, but not in my lifetime," said Patsy, standing outside the stone basement of what had been a three-story home. It was all that was left of a 35-acre holding probably worth $350,000.
Smoke tufted up next to the statue of a howling coyote, who almost seemed to be feeling the couple's pain.
DR. STRANGELOVE RUSSIANS IN WAR ROOM, SORT OF, BUT WORLD WAR III AVOIDED
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE _ American and Russian officers claimed success Friday in their joint effort to make certain their were no accidental nuclear missile launches because of the Y2K computer bug.
There was a little rush of excitement when U.S. monitors detected a Russian missile being launched at Chechna.
But we all went home early because once no missiles had been launched in the first hours of Russian time we knew the threat was over.
ENCOUNTER WITH LOWLAND GORILLA
Although I had once covered a Hollywood gorilla, during the making of King Kong outside the World Trade Centers, later in Gabon I met the real thing. A primatologist accidentally let a lowland gorrilla out of its cage. It threw a forearm at me, cracking the lens case on my Nikon. Meanwhile, the primatologist slid under a baboon cage for shelter. She told me to close the gate and go get help. I was torn, could I leave her there within reach of the gorrilla? I certainly didn't think I could help. But I wasn't sure I could even close the gate and didn't want to be the next target of the gorrilla. So I ran up the hill screaming in French that the guerrilla had escaped. All ended well when the boss came down and tranquilized the 400-pound animal. This did not become a news story but made the AP Log, and I was reimbursed for the cracked lens filter. I later met apes on two different assignments, without getting smacked.