Milestones

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HANNAH BEECHCONFESSED. ABDUL RAHIM NOOR,Malaysia's former police chief, to beating a handcuffed and blindfolded ex-Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim in police custody last September; in Kuala Lumpur. Testifying during an inquiry into Anwar's injuries, Rahim said he lost [his] cool when Malaysia's former No. 2 taunted him as the father of all dogs.ARRESTED. TA MOK,72, the last Khmer Rouge leader on the run, by government troops in the jungles of Northern Cambodia. The one-legged Mok, known as the Butcher for his brutality, was an influential member of the Khmer Rouge government blamed for the death of more than 1 million people during its 1975-'79 killing fields rule. He took over the rag-tag guerrilla group by purging leader Pol Pot in 1997. Mok is high on the list of Khmer Rouge commanders that a U.N. panel is recommending be put on trial for crimes against humanity.DIED. SHEIK ISA BIN SALMAN AL-KHALIFA, 65, Emir of Bahrain; after a heart attack in his palace. Soft-spoken but stern during his 37-year reign over the Persian Gulf nation, Sheik Isa was a key ally to the West in the 1991 Gulf War, providing a base for the U.S. Navy. His biggest test came in 1995 when often-restless Shi'ite Muslims revolted against the ruling Sunni minority. Human-rights groups charged that in supressing the rebellion, the regime held opponents without trial.DIED. DUSTY SPRINGFIELD,59, soulful British pop songstress; in Henley-on-Thames, England. Sporting a blond beehive and mascara-swathed eyes, Springfield enjoyed longevity in the usually fickle pop world, hitting the top of the charts in 1966 with the tear-drenched You Don't Have to Say You Love Me and relishing a comeback with the 1994 Pulp Fiction soundtrack inclusion of her sultry Son of Preacher Man. (See Eulogy, below)DIED. BING XIN,99, whimsical Chinese novelist and her nation's great hope for its first Nobel Prize for Literature; in Beijing. Purged during the anti-intellectual Cultural Revolution of 1966-'76, Bing Xin was later lauded for children's books like Ode to a Cherry Blossom, enjoying such acclaim that she even received a personal house call from Chinese President Jiang Zemin on her 99th birthday.DIED. HARRY BLACKMUN,90, former U.S. Supreme Court Justice, who galvanized a fiery national political debate by writing the landmark 1973 opinion legalizing abortion; in Washington. Although appointed by Richard Nixon in the hopes of moving the court in a more conservative direction, Blackmun left a largely liberal legacy, fighting against the death penalty, upholding separation of church and state and arguing for the plaintiff in the Roe v. Wade abortion case. That decision earned him the vitriol of pro-lifers, who peppered Blackmun with more than 600,000 pieces of hate mail.RE-ELECTED. ABDULLAH OCALAN,jailed but defiant long-time leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), as chairman of the insurrectionist group; by a 350 delegate-strong party congress. Even though Ocalan, the PKK's founder and its chief for 14 years, was captured in Kenya last month and is now under guard on the island of Imrali, facing charges of treason, the Kurdish rebels have vowed to escalate a bitter separatist war in Turkey's southeastern region.By LESLEY GOREI met DUSTY SPRINGFIELD in 1963 on the BBC TV show Top of the Pops. I was promoting It's My Party, and Dusty was one of the show's hosts. Her talent was obvious the moment she opened her mouth--a sound so unique that she could take someone else's song and make it her own. She sang live with the band and sounded totally awesome. I lip-synched and felt somewhat foolish.Our paths crossed again in Los Angeles in the '70s. We both enjoyed watching women's tennis and developed quite a friendship at the matches. She was very bright, with a great sense of humor. And I got to know her musically when she recorded a song I wrote, Love Me By Name. Dusty knew exactly what she wanted. She hand-picked the musicians and worked with the arranger for weeks. When she went into the vocal booth, put on the headset and closed her eyes, she reached down into the depths of her soul and made magic. As Dusty is wailing and the record is fading, she adlibs two little words: sweet baby. She reserved this phrase for the songs she most loved. It was like getting the Dusty Springfield seal of approval.

It's sad that she should pass just a few weeks before she was to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But she'll be there, I'm sure, so the rhythm section had better be tight.