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Archive for Sunday, May 12, 2002

Briefly

May 12, 2002

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Arizona: Mafia kingpin of '50s, '60s dies of heart failure at 97

Joseph Bonanno, the notorious gangster known as "Joe Bananas" who ran one of the most powerful Mafia groups in the 1950s and '60s, died of heart failure Saturday in Tucson. He was 97.

At the height of his power, Bonanno directed one of the five original crime families in New York City. The public knew him as "Joe Bananas" a nickname he detested.

By his own admission, he was a member of "the Commission," which acted as an organized crime board of directors in New York and other major U.S. cities. He denied engaging in such "unmanly" activities as narcotics trafficking or prostitution, though authorities said otherwise.

United Arab Emirates: Missile-launching equipment found near Saudi air base

Saudi soldiers found an empty tube from a shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missile near a military base used by U.S. warplanes, Saudi military officials said Saturday.

The officials said a patrol had discovered the missile launcher tube about a half-mile from the remote Prince Sultan Air Base, south of the Saudi capital Riyadh "at the end of the week."

The Saudi comments came after the Pentagon reported on Friday that a launcher tube had been found about 2 miles from a base runway, inside its outer perimeter fence, raising speculation that a missile may have been fired at aircraft using the desert facility.

The Saudi officials said they had no details of how the launcher came to be near the base.

Pakistan: U.S. presses Pakistan for attack on al-Qaida

U.S. intelligence analysts have concluded that the major remaining concentrations of al-Qaida fighters are in western Pakistan, rather than in Afghanistan, but Pakistan has resisted U.S. pressure to launch large-scale attacks against them, officials in Washington and Pakistan said.

U.S. officials have pressed Pakistan to act against what they believe are groups of al-Qaida fighters concentrated in the Waziristan area of western Pakistan, near the Afghan border.

"We know where there is a large concentration of al-Qaida," one Pentagon official said last week, noting that there were several hundred in one border town, which he asked not be identified. But, he added, "Our guys haven't been getting the cooperation" requested from the Pakistani government.

Los Angeles: Church of Scientology pays $8.67 million to settle suit

The Church of Scientology has agreed to pay a former member more than $8.6 million to resolve a lawsuit filed nearly 22 years ago.

In his 1980 lawsuit, Lawrence Wollersheim accused the church of causing him to develop bipolar disorder and to contemplate suicide. A jury in 1986 awarded him $30 million, an amount reduced on appeal to $2.5 million.

The court award collected 10 percent interest over the years and eventually grew to $8,674,843, which church officials handed over in a check Thursday.

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