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Iraqis abused ‘just for fun’, court told
Fort Bragg, N.C., August 4
US troops who abused Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison did it “just for fun”, a military investigator testified on Tuesday in a hearing for a female soldier photographed holding a naked Iraqi on a leash.

NASA names supercomputer after Kalpana
Kalpana Chawla Washington, August 4
NASA has dedicated a new supercomputer in memory of India-born astronaut Kalpana Chawla, one of the seven crew members aboard space shuttle Columbia, which crashed on February 1, 2003. The dedication ceremony was held at NASA Ames Research Centre, Moffett Field, California.

Israeli on mission India
Jerusalem, August 4
A select group of 12 Israeli youngsters, aged 16-18, will be leaving for Delhi this week on a unique humanitarian mission, to impart knowledge on maintaining personal hygiene, the use of first aid and the importance of health awareness among their Indian peers.


A sniffer dog from Hefei's police dog unit takes part in a show in central China's Anhui Province on Wednesday
A sniffer dog from Hefei's police dog unit takes part in a show in central China's Anhui Province on Wednesday. Different units from the local police participated in a ceremony to show the results of a series of vigorous training sessions this year. 
— Reuters

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
Statue of Liberty reopens
New York, August 4
The Statue of Liberty reopened for the first time since September 11, 2001, amid new threats of attack, but some visitors complained they were not allowed to climb to the crown of America’s best-known symbol.




As the national anthem is played, a park ranger and a police officer salute near the Statue of Liberty after it was
re-opened in New York on Tuesday. —
Reuters photo
As the national anthem is played, a park ranger and a police officer salute near the Statue of Liberty after it was re-opened in New York on Tuesday

Chandrika resigns as UPFA chief
Colombo, August 4
Sri Lanka’s President Chandrika Kumaratunga today resigned as the head of the ruling minority United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) “due to pressure of work,’’ a statement from the President’s office said.

EARLIER STORIES

 

9 die of diarrhoea in Bangladesh
Dhaka, August 4
As many as nine persons died and 7,445 others contracted diarrhoea in the past 24 hours in flood-hit areas of Bangladesh, raising the total number of those affected to 67,718.

Petition to Indian Embassy
London, August 4
The UK-based family of a retired Indian teacher handed a 2,300-name petition to MPs and the Indian High Commission, seeking help for his release.

Two native Australian Pelican watch for fish from atop a street light pole on a misty morning in the coastal town of Bawley Point Two native Australian Pelican watch for fish from atop a street light pole on a misty morning in the coastal town of Bawley Point, 300-km south of Sydney, on Wednesday. — Reuters

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Iraqis abused ‘just for fun’, court told

Lynndie England walks with her mother Terri England at Fort Bragg in North Carolina on Tuesday
Lynndie England (left) walks with her mother Terri England at Fort Bragg in North Carolina on Tuesday. England, 21, was charged along with six other US military police reservists in a scandal that prompted an apology from US President George W. Bush.
— Reuters photo

Fort Bragg, N.C., August 4
US troops who abused Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison did it “just for fun”, a military investigator testified on Tuesday in a hearing for a female soldier photographed holding a naked Iraqi on a leash.

Pfc. Lynndie England, visibly pregnant, appeared on the opening day of the military-court hearing yesterday, which will determine whether she will be tried for the prisoner abuse that outraged the Arab world.

England wore a camouflage uniform, black boots and beret as she entered the Fort Bragg courthouse moments before the hearing began, ignoring media cameras and reporters.

Inside the courtroom, she answered “Yes Ma’am” and “No Ma’am” to simple questions from Col Denise Arn, the investigating officer, about the charges.

England did not appear in court for the afternoon session. Her lawyer said she had made an unscheduled visit to the doctor but would not discuss her condition.

Chief Warrant Officer Paul Arthur, the lead investigator into the Abu Ghraib abuse, told the court that England said in a sworn statement in January that one of her superiors, Spc. Charles Graner, put the leash on the naked Iraqi prisoner and told her to pose for the infamous photograph.

But in an effort to shoot down defence claims that the abusers were acting on orders from above, Capt. Crystal Jennings, the lead prosecutor, asked if Chief Warrant Officer Arthur had determined why the troops had abused the prisoners. “Basically it was just for fun ... and to vent their frustration,” Chief Warrant Officer Arthur said.

England (21), was charged along with six other US military police reservists in a scandal that prompted an apology from US President George W. Bush, who placed the blame on a small group of soldiers.

England has said she was following orders when she appeared in the pictures, which also included one in which she pointed at a prisoner’s genitals, a cigarette dangling from her lips.

England returned from Iraq after becoming pregnant and is due to give birth in the fall. Media reports have said Spc. Graner, who is also charged with prisoner abuse, is the father, but her lawyers declined to confirm that.

Special Agent Warren Worth, another military criminal investigator, said he found no evidence that orders came from higher in the chain of command than Spc. Graner and Staff Sgt. Ivan Frederick, another of the seven soldiers charged.

But England’s lawyer, Capt Jonathan Crisp, repeatedly asked Worth what role military intelligence personnel had played in the abuse, as he sought to bolster the notion that troops were urged to rough up prisoners before questioning.

Most of the abused prisoners had no military intelligence value, Special Agent Worth said. The Pentagon has denied sanctioning rough treatment.

The two witnesses said England never raised any objections to the treatment of the prisoners.

Defence lawyer Richard Hernandez told a news conference that yesterday’s testimony bolstered his belief that the Abu Ghraib abuse was part of a wider pattern of US military behaviour. — Reuters

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NASA names supercomputer after Kalpana

Washington, August 4
NASA has dedicated a new supercomputer in memory of India-born astronaut Kalpana Chawla, one of the seven crew members aboard space shuttle Columbia, which crashed on February 1, 2003.

The dedication ceremony was held at NASA Ames Research Centre, Moffett Field, California.

Before joining the astronaut programme, Kalpana Chawla worked as an aerospace engineer at Ames from 1988 to 1995. The first Indian woman to fly in space, she served as a flight engineer and mission specialist aboard Columbia.

“It is indeed an honour to name NASA’s new SGI(r) Altix(tm) 3000 supercomputer after Kalpana Chawla,” said Ames Center Director G. Scott Hubbard. “She was not only a member of the NASA family, but also a special member of our own Ames family. We all miss her and her many contributions to the agency.”

At Ames, Chawla had the challenging task of computing the airflow surrounding a jet-supported delta-wing aircraft during landing.

During an interview in 1995, she had predicted that her exposure to a wide variety of computer systems at Ames would be especially useful to her as an astronaut. Of several experiments successfully conducted by the Columbia crew, Chawla’s favourite was the Israeli Mediterranean dust experiment, which involved pointing a camera at Earth to study the effects of dust on weather and the environment.

“The SGI(r) Altix(tm) 3000 supercomputer that will be named Kalpana is being used to develop more capable simulation models to assess the evolution and behavior of the Earth’s climate system,” said Ghassem Asrar, NASA’s associate administrator for earth science.

“With the addition of the SGI Altix system, NASA’s high-end computing testbed activities in support of the agency’s science and engineering missions are greatly enhanced,” said Dr Walt Brooks, chief of the NASA Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) Division at NASA Ames.

“Thanks to its outstanding performance capabilities, this supercomputer is helping NASA achieve breakthrough results to meet major challenges in climate and ocean modelling and aerospace vehicle design,” Dr Brooks added.

The new supercomputer is being used for a group effort by the NASA Headquarters, the NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif., NASA Ames and NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre, Greenbelt, Md, to deliver high-resolution ocean analysis in the framework of the ECCO (Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean) Consortium, which involves the JPL, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass, and the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, La Jolla, Calif. — UNI

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Israeli on mission India

Jerusalem, August 4
A select group of 12 Israeli youngsters, aged 16-18, will be leaving for Delhi this week on a unique humanitarian mission, to impart knowledge on maintaining personal hygiene, the use of first aid and the importance of health awareness among their Indian peers.

The specially trained members of the team were chosen after a process of strict screening and success in demonstrating specific tasks. They participated in volunteer work during the year in different Israeli medical aid organisations and various health care facilities.

The trip will be the third such journey to India under the auspices of Pirkei Refuah (the Israeli Medical Cadet Organisation).

The team will be visiting several schools in and around Delhi at the invitation of an NGO Ritanjali headed by Arun Kapoor. — PTI

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Statue of Liberty reopens

New York, August 4
The Statue of Liberty reopened for the first time since September 11, 2001, amid new threats of attack, but some visitors complained they were not allowed to climb to the crown of America’s best-known symbol.

Lady Liberty was reopened only after $36 million was raised in private funds to pay for security improvements. Visitors cannot climb to its highest point for security and safety reasons.

Democratic U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner said, “If we do not reopen the Statue of Liberty’s crown, the terrorists will have won.’’

The reopening came as New York was identified in government warnings on Sunday as a potential target of truck and suicide bombs.

Intense security accompanied the reopening. People were asked to remove their belts and all belongings for a close screening before boarding ferries from Battery Park for Liberty Island and being screened again before entering the structure.

Coast Guard and New York police boats zigzagged through New York Harbour on patrol, armed guards stood watch and police helicopters circled overhead.

Lady Liberty, a gift from France in 1886, was closed nearly three years ago as a security precaution. — Reuters

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Chandrika resigns as UPFA chief

Colombo, August 4
Sri Lanka’s President Chandrika Kumaratunga today resigned as the head of the ruling minority United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) “due to pressure of work,’’ a statement from the President’s office said.

“The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), the main constituent party in the ruling alliance will decide upon a person to fill the vacancy,’’ the statement said without giving further details.

President Kumaratunga will continue to be the head of State, Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, head of the Cabinet as well as the head of the SLFP.

The President’s resignation as the head of the UPFA came exactly two days after she headed the executive council meeting of the ruling minority coalition party at the President’s house.

It is reported that during the three hour meeting she got tough with the leaders of the radical Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), the major coalition partner, for going ahead with the public campaign against issues relating to the peace process, such as the LTTE’s interim self-governing authority (ISGA).

Although President Kumaratunga has stated clearly that she is prepared to resume the talks with the LTTE to discuss the organisation’s ISGA proposal, the JVP has warned that if the President agreed to resume talks on ISGA, it would mean the end of the UPFA government. — UNI

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9 die of diarrhoea in Bangladesh

Dhaka, August 4
As many as nine persons died and 7,445 others contracted diarrhoea in the past 24 hours in flood-hit areas of Bangladesh, raising the total number of those affected to 67,718.

Some 39 fresh flood-related deaths were reported from across the country till yesterday, raising the total official death toll to 628 since the floods began engulfing vast areas of the country three weeks back, according to official sources.

UNB news agency said large numbers of people were still facing great hardship with the outbreak of different water-borne diseases, including diarrhoea, though the flood situation continued to improve with steady recession of water.

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Petition to Indian Embassy

London, August 4
The UK-based family of a retired Indian teacher handed a 2,300-name petition to MPs and the Indian High Commission, seeking help for his release.

The family of Mr Pratul Deb, a London-based teacher, yesterday submitted the petition to the Indian High Commission.

Mr Deb was kidnapped on March 17 in Assam. Although he was a UK citizen, he still held an Indian passport. The family was facing problems with the governments of both countries and had accused them of ‘’passing the buck.’’

Mr Deb (67), from north London, was on one of his regular visits to see his mother. — UNI

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BRIEFLY


US actress Halle Berry smiles after attending the UK premiere of her latest film, Catwoman
US actress Halle Berry smiles after attending the UK premiere of her latest film, Catwoman, in Leicester Square, London, on Tuesday.
— Reuters

Doorman stabs 15 children
BEIJING: A doorman at a kindergarten went on a rampage on Wednesday, stabbing 15 children and two teachers, the official Xinhua news agency said. One child died, while one child and one teacher sustained serious neck wounds and were in critical condition. — Reuters

6 US troops killed in Iraq
Baghdad
: Insurgents killed seven Iraqi security personnel in a car bombing and other attacks, and the US military announced the death of six Americans, including four killed by guerrillas. The American dead included two soldiers killed by a roadside bomb on Tuesday, two Marines on Monday and two others died in non-combat-related incidents. — AP

13 held in anti-terror drive
LONDON: Thirteen men were arrested under Britain’s main anti-terrorist law in an ongoing operation in London and other parts of England, the Metropolitan Police has said. They were arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000 on Wednesday on the suspicion of being concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism, the police said. — AFP

9 killed in car bomb attack
BOGOTA: A car bomb planted by suspected Colombian rebels ripped apart three passing police vehicles on Wednesday killing nine officers. The victims had been rushing along a mountainous highway to reinforce colleagues battling a rebel attack in Andinapolis, when the bomb hidden inside a parked car exploded. — AP

8 inmates die in Brazil prison
Rio De Janeiro
: Riots in a Rio de Janeiro prison killed eight inmates, a prison official said. The two-hour uprising began on Tuesday when prisoners took two guards hostage while they ate breakfast, took their keys, opened one of the hallways and stabbed eight fellow inmates to death. — AFP

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