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Mapping the Northwest Territories

Question: Can you settle a discussion? Have the Northwest Territories been combined or split in some way? I thought there were three districts _ Franklin, Mackenzie and Keewatin _ but my son says there are only two.

Answer: The three you mention are former administrative districts used by the government of Canada. Today, the NWT has five administrative regions: North Slave, South Slave, Deh Cho, Sahtu and Inuvik.

Over the years, the Northwest Territories have undergone some boundary changes. At one point or another, the NWT has included all of Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Yukon, and most of Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.

The most recent change _ the one that your son may be referring to _ occurred with the creation of Nunavut on April 1, 1999. It made two territories out of one and reduced the area of the former Northwest Territories by about two-thirds.

A map of the administrative regions is at


Remember Mitt's father?

Question: All the attention focused on Mitt Romney during the Winter Olympics made me remember when his late father, George Romney, ran for president and then dropped out. Why did he drop out?

Answer: Many people thought Romney's bid for the 1968 Republican nomination for president was doomed by a remark he made on TV that he had undergone a "brainwashing" by the U.S. military during his visit to Vietnam in 1965. He said the "brainwashing" led him to support the war and to believe that U.S. involvement was morally right and necessary.

His quote: "I just had the greatest brainwashing that anyone can get when you go over to Vietnam, not only by the generals, but also by the diplomatic corps over there, and they do a very thorough job."

He later changed his mind, calling U.S. participation in the war "the most tragic foreign policy mistake in the nation's history."

At a press conference the next year, Romney defended his comments. "I'm glad I used that word that went around the world," he said. "Nobody will forget it. The hard facts are that this country has been brainwashed on Vietnam, and the situation in Vietnam is much more serious than anyone in this country now realizes."

In a 1989 interview with the Associated Press, Romney insisted his comments about having been brainwashed had nothing to do with his withdrawal from the presidential race. "It was because Nelson Rockefeller became a candidate, and there was no way I could get the nomination fighting both Rockefeller and Richard Nixon," he said.

An update on Jerri Nielsen

Question: Jerri Nielsen, the American doctor who was airlifted from the South Pole because of her breast cancer, hasn't been in the news lately. Can you give us an update?

Answer: Nielsen, who now lives in Naples, Fla., goes around the country talking about her experiences as a cancer survivor and South Pole resident.

She made worldwide headlines in 1999 after she performed two biopsies on herself and then was airlifted during the fierce Antarctic winter in a risky rescue mission that required a plane to land in whiteout blizzard conditions. She underwent a mastectomy and chemotherapy, and the cancer hasn't returned, according to a recent article in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

In the interview, Nielsen revealed some bitter feelings against the media for reporting on her condition and for writing about her life since she returned to the United States. " "A divorced mother of three.' That's how my hometown paper started their story on me," she said.

Meanwhile, her former husband, Dr. Jay Nielsen of suburban Toledo, Ohio, has sued her and her publishers for defamation of character and invasion of privacy. He contends that she made false statements about him in her book, Ice Bound: A Doctor's Incredible Battle for Survival at the South Pole, and he seeks $6-million in damages.

The Nielsens were divorced in 1998 after a 24-year marriage.

Reagan's birthday vote

Question: Both TV and radio reported that four members of Congress wouldn't sign a birthday card for Ronald Reagan. Who were they?

Answer: There was no birthday card. You may be referring to a resolution to recognize the 91st birthday of the former president, which the House approved Feb. 6 by a vote of 408 to 0.

Four Democrats voted "present" rather than "yea" or "nay": Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas and three Californians, Barbara Lee, Fortney "Pete" Stark and Diane Watson.

There were 23 "not voting": 15 Republicans, seven Democrats and one independent.

Have a question about the news? Colin Bessonette will try to get an answer. Call (404) 222-2002 or write to him at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, P.O. Box 4689, Atlanta, GA 30302, or e-mail him at q&