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FEBRUARY 14, 2000 VOL. 155 NO. 6

Milestones
By PENNY CAMPBELL

HOSPITALIZED. KURT VONNEGUT, 77, social satirist and cult writer most noted for his 1969 anti-war novel Slaughterhouse-Five, which captured America's growing disenchantment with the Vietnam War, after a fire broke out at his home; in New York City. Vonnegut, in critical condition from the effects of smoke inhalation, was pulled from his burning East Side townhouse by a neighbor after trying to put out the fire himself.

NAMED. ELIZABETH ISRAEL, 125, as the world's oldest living person; in Dominica. The daughter of a slave, she started working on a plantation at the age of 25 and retired 79 years later. She ascribes her longevity to her diet--including lots of dumplings and bush tea.

DIED. FRANCIS STUART, 97, controversial Irish novelist and poet whose life was dogged by suspicions that he was a Nazi sympathizer because of broadcasts he made from Germany to Ireland during World War II; in County Clare, Ireland. Stuart, whose first wife was Iseult Gonne, the society beauty who broke the heart of poet W.B. Yeats, won critical but not popular acclaim for his 20-odd novels. In 1996, he was elected one of the five Saoithe, or "wise men" of Aosdana, the Irish arts academy, but nearly had the honor withdrawn when allegations of anti-semitism resurfaced in 1997. Last year Stuart won a libel case against the Irish Times, which printed the allegations.

DIED. ALLARAKHA KHAN, 81, Indian tabla maestro who introduced the percussion instrument to the West and founded a tabla-playing dynasty; in Bombay. Breaking out of the confines of Indian classical music, Khan traveled the world, playing with musicians as diverse as Ravi Shankar, Sir Yehudi Menuhin and Mick Jagger. His three sons are also tabla players; the eldest, Zakir Hussain, is widely regarded as the best of his generation.

SENTENCED. JAYALALITHA JAYARAM, 52, former Chief Minister of India's Tamil Nadu state, to a year in jail for violating building regulations in allowing the construction of a seven-story hotel in a local hill resort; in Madras, India. A former movie star with an Imelda Marcos-quality shoe collection, she is the highest-ranking person to be convicted under India's sweeping anti-graft laws. When the verdict was announced, supporters rioted: three girls died when a bus was set alight, and one man committed suicide.

CONVICTED. HAROLD SHIPMAN, 54, unassuming British doctor, of murdering 15 mostly elderly women patients by giving them lethal injections of diamorphine; in Preston, Manchester. Dubbed "Dr. Death" by the tabloids, Shipman, who faces life in jail, is Britain's most prolific serial killer: police say he may have murdered as many as 150 people over the past 25 years. Soft-spoken and bespectacled, Shipman maintained a pillar-of-the-establishment respectability that allowed him to evade suspicion.

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