The world at a glance . . . Americas


Vancouver, B.C.

Ex-Nazi deported: Canadian authorities last week deported an 83-year-old former Nazi prison camp guard to Italy, where he will serve a life sentence for murder. In 2000, an Italian court convicted Michael Seifert in absentia of nine counts of murder for crimes committed in Bolzano in Northern Italy, where the Nazis imprisoned Jews, resistance fighters, and German deserters. Witnesses at his trial described how Seifert, dubbed “the butcher of Bolzano,” starved one prisoner to death, gouged out another’s eyes, and tortured a woman before killing her and her daughter. Seifert, who immigrated to Canada in 1951, admitted to having worked at the camp but denied having committed the crimes. Because of his age, he will likely serve his sentence under house arrest.

DeKalb, Ill.

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Student kills five: A former Northern Illinois University graduate student opened fire in a lecture hall at the school last week, killing five students and injuring 16 others before killing himself. Steven Kazmierczak, 27, a former sociology student, entered the hall with four guns, spraying 54 rounds as students dived for cover. “He had a blank stare on his face,” said student Kevin Sundstrom, “like there was nobody there.” Campus Police Chief Donald Grady said that Kazmierczak was “revered” by fellow students and faculty but had recently become “erratic” after he stopped taking Prozac for an unspecified emotional disorder. Days before the shootings, Kazmierczak bought gun accessories from the same online dealer that sold an assault weapon to Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho.

Accokeek, Md.

Carnage at street race: A 20-year-old man drove into a group of spectators at a late-night, illegal street race last week, killing eight people and injuring six others. Police in Accokeek, 20 miles outside Washington, D.C., say that about 50 people were watching two cars race on a deserted road at about 3 a.m. Just after the cars sped past, another car plowed into the crowd. Smoke from the racing cars likely obscured the driver’s view, police said. “There were just bodies everywhere,” said Crystal Gaines, 27, whose father, 61-year-old William Gaines, was killed. The driver of the car that ran into the crowd, Darren Bullock, suffered only a bruised lip; police questioned him but have not filed any charges. Authorities were still trying to locate the drivers of the cars that had been racing.

Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Atlantis touches down: The space shuttle Atlantis landed safely at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center this week, clearing the way for a planned shoot-down of an errant U.S. spy satellite. NASA made extra efforts to land the shuttle on schedule so that the Pentagon could safely fire a missile at an out-of-control, 5,000-pound satellite carrying a tank of hydrazine fuel, which can be fatal if inhaled. The shuttle completed a 13-day mission that focused on making repairs to the International Space Station and attaching a European laboratory module to the orbiting complex. The $2 billion module, built in Italy and equipped in Germany, is Europe’s main contribution to the international project.

Washington, D.C.

Wiretap suit rejected: The U.S. Supreme Court this week declined to take up a challenge to the Bush administration’s warrantless domestic wiretapping program. The suit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a group of lawyers, writers, and political organizations, which said the eavesdropping inhibited communications with clients and overseas contacts. But the high court declined to review a lower court decision that held that since the plaintiffs could not prove they had been spied upon, they couldn’t sue. The ACLU argued that because the government refuses, on national security grounds, to name the targets of the spying, it is impossible to find plaintiffs who can prove they were harmed.

Bogotá, Colombia

Soldiers guilty of murder: Fifteen Colombian soldiers were convicted this week of murdering 10 undercover narcotics officers, in a case that highlighted suspected ties between Colombia’s military and cocaine traffickers. Lt. Col. Byron Carvajal and 14 soldiers under his command were found guilty of ambushing an anti-narcotics squad patrolling the town of Jamundi. The soldiers claimed they mistook the agents for leftist rebels. But investigators turned up evidence that the unit was in cahoots with the drug gangs, protecting them from rivals and sharing in their profits. Tens of thousands of people have died in the decades-long conflict among Colombia’s military, leftist guerilla groups, and drug traffickers.

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