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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
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Kurd genocide trial resumes
Baghdad, December 4
Saddam Hussein’s trial on charges of genocide against the Kurds resumed today, four days after an American forensic expert testified that an examination of hundreds of Kurdish remains found in mass graves showed they were gunned down and buried where they fell almost two decades ago. Saddam and his six co-defendants were present in the courtroom today.
Saddam Hussein sits in court during the continuation of the trial in Baghdad on Monday. The trial relates to the ‘Anfal’ offensive against the Kurds. Lawyers for Saddam and two former aides sentenced to death lodged appeals on Sunday, the Iraqi chief prosecutor said, following a trial slammed by some human rights experts as unfair and flawed.
Saddam Hussein sits in court during the continuation of the trial in Baghdad on Monday. The trial relates to the ‘Anfal’ offensive against the Kurds. Lawyers for Saddam and two former aides sentenced to death lodged appeals on Sunday, the Iraqi chief prosecutor said, following a trial slammed by some human rights experts as unfair and flawed. — Reuters photo

US Marine convicted of rape, gets 40
years in jail
Protesters burn a replica of the US flag outside a court in Manila on Monday. A Philippine court found Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, one of four US Marines who were on trial, guilty of raping a Filipino woman inside a van at a former US navy base last year, sentencing the 21-year-old sailor to life in prison for “bestial acts”.Manila (Philippines),  December 4
A US Marine was convicted today in a landmark rape case and sentenced to 40 years in prison, ending a long, emotional trial that has strained US-Philippine ties and tested a joint  military pact.

Protesters burn a replica of the US flag outside a court in Manila on Monday. A Philippine court found Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, one of four US Marines who were on trial, guilty of raping a Filipino woman inside a van at a former US navy base last year, sentencing the 21-year-old sailor to life in prison for “bestial acts”.  — Reuters photo




EARLIER STORIES


Music maestro Zubin Mehta gets elite US award
New York, December 4
India-born Western classical music conductor Zubin Mehta was among the five stalwarts from the arts and entertainment field honoured by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts this year for their lifetime contribution.

Caretaker govt offers ‘package’ 
Dhaka, December 4
Bangladesh's caretaker government appeared upbeat about ending the long political stand-off after coming out with a "compromise package" even as the crippling transport blockade by the 14-party alliance to press for electoral reforms continued for the second day today.

Red Cross seeks aid for typhoon-struck Philippines
Legaspi (Philippines), December 4
The Red Cross sent out an urgent plea for water, food and medicine today as Philippine officials said more than 1,000 persons were dead or missing after mudslides swallowed up whole villages.

 

 

 

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Kurd genocide trial resumes

Baghdad, December 4
Saddam Hussein’s trial on charges of genocide against the Kurds resumed today, four days after an American forensic expert testified that an examination of hundreds of Kurdish remains found in mass graves showed they were gunned down and buried where they fell almost two decades ago.

Saddam and his six co-defendants were present in the courtroom today.

Michael Trimble, a forensic archaeologist with the US Army Corps of Engineers, described several of the recovered bodies — a pregnant woman shot through her belly, killing the foetus; a young girl wearing little green boots whose leg had been shattered by bullets; an infant apparently smothered under the body of his mother.

Trimble’s account last Thursday was the third consecutive day of testmony by US forensic experts in the trial of Saddam and six co-defendants, who face possible execution if convicted for a 198-88 military offensive against the Kurds of northern Iraq.

The prosecution estimates that 180,00 Kurds were killed in the campaign, codenamed Operation Anfal, in which Saddam’s army allegedly destroyed hundreds of villages and killed or scattered their inhabitants in a scorched earth campaign against separatist guerrillas.

Trimble investigated the three mass graves in 2004 on behalf of the Iraqi tribunal prosecuting Saddam and members of his regime. — AP

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US Marine convicted of rape, gets 40 years in jail 

Manila (Philippines), December 4
A US Marine was convicted today in a landmark rape case and sentenced to 40 years in prison, ending a long, emotional trial that has strained US-Philippine ties and tested a joint military pact.

Three other Marines were acquitted of complicity.

A 23-year-old Filipino woman, known publicly by her pseudonym "Nicole", accused Lance Cpl Daniel Smith of sexually assaulting her while she was drunk last November one, while Staff Sgt Chad Carpentier, Lance Cpl Keith Silkwood and Lance Cpl Dominic Duplantis allegedly cheered him on.

Smith, 21, from St Louis, Missouri, had testified that the sex was consensual. Instead, he became the first American soldier to be convicted of wrongdoing since the Philippine Senate ordered US bases shut down in the early 1990s and joint training was established under a treaty, the Visiting Forces Agreement, in 1998.

"He was the one who was on top of the complainant, who resisted his kisses, pushed him and fought him back until she lost consciousness because of alcoholic drinks she had taken," said the lengthy verdict, read by a court employee as the proceedings were televised live nationwide.

The verdict said Nicole was so intoxicated that she could not have consented to sex, pointing to testimony that Smith carried her to a van where the incident occurred.

Some cheers and applause broke out in the courtroom, and Nicole began weeping as supporters embraced her.

It was unclear whether Smith would serve the sentence in the Philippines or elsewhere. He also could appeal the verdict. — AP

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Music maestro Zubin Mehta gets elite US award

New York, December 4
India-born Western classical music conductor Zubin Mehta was among the five stalwarts from the arts and entertainment field honoured by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts this year for their lifetime contribution.

Apart from Mehta, others who were honoured for their contribution to American culture are musical theatre composer and producer Andrew Lloyd Webber, country singer and songwriter Dolly Parton, singer, songwriter and producer Smokey Robinson, and film director and producer Steven Spielberg.

While the awardees were presented with a medal at a reception Saturday hosted by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, top Washington politicians and celebrities gathered Sunday evening at the Kennedy Center in Washington for a star-studded function in which the five legends were formally honoured.

"America thanks you. We thank you for showing your creative gifts and enriching the cultural life of our country," US President George Bush was quoted by the Los Angeles Times as saying at Saturday's reception.

"What makes America great is not the idea of power but the power of ideas," Rice said.

Now a resident of Los Angeles, Mehta was born in Mumbai in 1936. He received his early education in music from his father Mehli Mehta, a violinist and co-founder of the Bombay Symphony Orchestra and later music director of the American Youth Symphony in Los Angeles.

He initially intended to study medicine but eventually became a music student in Vienna at the age of 18, under the eminent instructor Hans Swarowsky.In 1958, he made his conducting debut in Vienna. That same year he won the International Conducting Competition in Liverpool and was appointed assistant conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.

His rise as a conductor has been swift. After Liverpool, he became the music director of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and then of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.

In 1978, Mehta became music director of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, where his 13-year tenure would become the longest in the orchestra's history.

In 1981, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, with whom he had been associated with since 1969 in various capacities, made him their music director for life. He has conducted over 2,000 concerts with this orchestra.

Since 1985, he has been revitalising opera as chief conductor of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino.

A recipient of the Padma Vibhushan, India's second highest civilian honour, his life has been documented in Terry Sanders' film 'Portrait of Zubin Mehta' and in a book by Martin Bookspan and Ross Yockey entitled 'Zubin: The Zubin Mehta Story'.

This year saw the publication in Germany of Zubin Mehta's autobiography, "Die Partitur meines Leben: Erinnerungen" (The Score of my Life: Memories).

Earlier, when the five honorees were named, Mehta had stated, "Anyone who has worked and dedicated himself for over 30 years to the arts in the US as I have, knows the immense honour that the Kennedy Center awards signify. In this spirit I humbly accept this most prestigious award and am proud to be in the company of so many of the world's foremost artists that I have admired and grown up with."

In Sunday's function, the toast to Mehta was raised by former World Bank president Jim Wolfensohn. — IANS

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Caretaker govt offers ‘package’ 

Dhaka, December 4
Bangladesh's caretaker government appeared upbeat about ending the long political stand-off after coming out with a "compromise package" even as the crippling transport blockade by the 14-party alliance to press for electoral reforms continued for the second day today.

Three members of President Iajuddin Ahmed's cabinet held talks with Bangladesh Nationalist Party leader Khaleda Zia and Awami League chief Sheikh Hasina Wajed, who is leading the 14-party alliance, and presented the package late last evening.

Appearing upbeat after the talks, Information Advisor Mahbubul Alam said the leaders' response was "positive".

He said they discussed matters relating to the general elections, due in January, and the Election Commission, but refused to give further details.

The caretaker government headed by President Iajuddin came out with the "package" after a six-hour cabinet meeting . — PTI 

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Red Cross seeks aid for typhoon-struck Philippines

Legaspi (Philippines),December 4
The Red Cross sent out an urgent plea for water, food and medicine today as Philippine officials said more than 1,000 persons were dead or missing after mudslides swallowed up whole villages.

The government's National Disaster Coordinating Centre confirmed 425 dead from the mudslides around Mayon volcano trigged by typhoon rains.It listed a further 599 people as missing in the same eastern region of Bicol.

Executive officer Glenn Rabonza said more than one million people had been affected by the disaster with damage to property alone estimated at about $5.48 million.

The Red Cross revised its figure on the number dead from 406 to 333 today, saying it had counted some bodies twice, but has warned it expects the toll to rise.

The deadly mudslides were triggered by torrential rains from super typhoon Durain which mixed with volcanic ash on the slopes of Mayon volcano.

President Gloria Arroyo has declared a "state of national calamity" and authorised the immediate release of $ 20 million to rehabilitate affected areas.

“The situation is still pretty chaotic with communications still down in most of the affected areas on Bicol," a Red Cross spokesman said. — AFP

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BRIEFLY

Suicide bomber kills Pak cop
Islamabad: A suspected Al-Qaida suicide bomber blew himself up at a checkpoint in a remote Pakistani town near the Afghan border, killing a policeman and injuring another, the police said on Monday. The man, believed to be from Uzbekistan, was travelling in a taxi from the northwestern city of Peshawar to the town of Bannu late Sunday. When the police at the checkpoint flagged the cab to stop, he came out of the vehicle and fired pistol shots injuring a policeman, senior police officer Abid Ali said. The police, however, surrounded him and the militant detonated explosives strapped to his body, Ali told reporters. — AFP

Dinosaur nest auctioned for $ 420,000
Los Angeles: An unusually well-preserved 65 million-year-old dinosaur nest containing fossil eggs sold in an auction for nearly $ 420,000. Auction house Bonhams and Butterfields had estimated the raptoid nest, which contained exposed embryos of the predators, would go for between $ 180,000 and $ 220,000 auction officials said. Details of the buyer in yesterday's transaction would be kept under wraps, said Jannelle Grigsby, a Bonhams spokeswoman. The Cretaceous-era nest was unearthed in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong in 1984 and eventually was sold to an American collector in 2003. The collector restored the nest to museum quality, revealing embryonic remains of 19 eggs. — AP 

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