When photographer Lincoln Clarkes began taking portraits of heroin-addicted women in a Vancouver drug ghetto, he realized many risked an untimely end. He did not know he was recording the last days of the victims of Canada's worst serial murders. \nFive of the women he hoped to have helped with his poignant portraits of femininity amid squalor are among scores still missing. \nHe expects many more to be named as police examine DNA evidence. \n"I just don't want to think about the final number," he said. \nPig farmer Robert "Willie" Pickton, 53, has pleaded not guilty to 15 murders, but is suspected in up to 65 cases of women who vanished from Vancouver's downtown eastside, known as Low Track. It is one of North America's worst areas for poverty, drugs, prostitution, Aids and crime. \nPickton was arrested last year and his committal hearing resumes on June 30 after a recess, while police continue excavating the grounds of his 4,5-hectare farm. He allegedly lured the women to the farm, 35km east of Vancouver's shiny skyscrapers and its seedy 10-block Low Track neighborhood. He is alleged to have entertained them in a building he called Piggy's Palace and then killed them. \nReports persist that he ground up the bodies and fed the remains to his pigs. \nClarkes, 45, once a fashion photographer in London and Paris, lives three blocks from Low Track. One summer day in 1997 he caught sight of Patricia Johnson, then a 20-year-old mother of two children she had abandoned, and a heroin addict and prostitute. They talked and Clarkes took her picture with two female friends. \nWhen he saw the prints, he wept. He was to spend Sunday afternoons for the next five years photographing what, in a new book of the portraits of beauty in a beastly place, he called Heroines. \nIn 1997, a Low Track prostitute told police she had been handcuffed and stabbed by Pickton, but he claimed self-defense and was never charged. \nA year later, police heard that bloody clothing, identity cards and handbags were seen at the farm. But officers were unconcerned by vanishing addicts -- even while the numbers increased each month. \nClarkes first heard of a missing woman in 1998, when he showed to her best friend a portrait of Sheila Egan, 19, who had disappeared a fortnight earlier. \n"She grabbed it and clasped it to herself, and burst into tears," he recalled. "She said she knew Sheila was dead because she hadn't called. That's when I realized something was happening, but I didn't know what." \nEgan never reached her twentieth birthday. With Johnson, she is among the 15 named in the murder charges. \nJohnson became Clarkes' friend and left him a phone message days before vanishing in 2001. Although addicted to heroin, Egan seemed to Clarkes "so fresh and young, she should have still been in school. But she was also a bit of a fashion plate and a party girl who didn't know when to stop partying, I guess." \nAnother Clarkes heroine was Julie Young, 31, last seen in October 1998. She was "heroin sick" when Clarkes first saw her. "She was hurting badly for a fix, but she still managed to pose." The women loved the portraits because, he said, "here was someone with a genuine interest in them, not for sex or drugs, but for art and photography."
The US and the Philippines plan to announce new sites as soon as possible for an expanded Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), which gives the Western power access to military bases in the Southeast Asian country. Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr last month granted the US access to four military bases, on top of five existing locations under the 2014 EDCA, amid China’s increasing assertiveness regarding the South China Sea and Taiwan. Speaking at the Basa Air Base in Manila, one of the existing EDCA sites, US Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall said the defense agreements between the two countries
‘DUAL PURPOSE’: Upgrading the port is essential for the Solomon Islands’ economy and might not be military focused, but ‘it is not about bases, it is about access,’ an analyst said The Solomon Islands has awarded a multimillion-dollar contract to a Chinese state company to upgrade an international port in Honiara in a project funded by the Asian Development Bank, a Solomon Islands official said yesterday. China Civil Engineering Construction Co (CCECC) was the only company to submit a bid in the competitive tender, Solomon Islands Ministry of Infrastructure Development official Mike Qaqara said. “This will be upgrading the old international port in Honiara and two domestic wharves in the provinces,” Qaqara said. Responding to concerns that the port could be deepened for Chinese naval access, he said there would be “no expansion.” The Solomon
CONFLICTING ACCOUNTS: The US destroyer’s routine operations in the South China Sea would have ‘serious consequences,’ the defense ministry said China yesterday threatened “serious consequences” after the US Navy sailed a destroyer around the disputed Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) in the South China Sea for the second day in a row, in a move Beijing claimed was a breach of its sovereignty and security. The warning came amid growing tensions between China and the US in the region, as Washington pushes back at Beijing’s growingly assertive posture in the South China Sea, a strategic waterway it claims virtually in its entirety. On Thursday, after the US sailed the USS Milius guided-missile destroyer near the Paracel Islands, China said its navy and
Seven stories above a shop floor hawking cheap perfume and nylon underwear, Thailand’s “shopping mall gorilla” sits alone in a cage — her home for 30 years despite a reignited row over her captivity. Activists around the world have long campaigned for the primate to be moved from Pata Zoo, on top of a Bangkok mall, with singer Cher and actor Gillian Anderson adding their voices in 2020. However, the family who owns Bua Noi — whose name translates as “little lotus” — have resisted public and government pressure to relinquish the critically endangered animal. The gorilla has lived at Pata for more