US probes to capture Sun’s image
Afghan leader seeks Pak politicians’ help
24 Iraqi cops killed
Pak ex-President Ishaq Khan dies
Hooch claims 13 lives in Pak
Alabama killer executed
Al-Jazeera to honour fallen scribes
Liz denies plans for ninth marriage
Cape Canaveral, October 27
The Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory, or STEREO, is designed to take three-dimensional pictures of the solar outbursts so that scientists can, for the first time, pinpoint where the storms are heading.
The eruptions, called coronal mass ejections, can shut down communications and navigational satellites, affect aircraft near the Earth’s poles and zap electrical grids as billions of tonnes of charged particles are sent streaming into the space.
“Right now we can only see the Sun, essentially, in just two dimensions,” said STEREO deputy project scientist Terry Kucera. “We can’t tell in some cases whether coronal mass ejections are moving toward us or away from us. That’s pretty fundamental.”
“With 3-D, we’ll be able to tell basic things like how fast is it going, is it speeding up or slowing down?” he added.
“These are important things that we need to know if we’re going to be able to predict what the impact of a particular event is going to be.”
The satellites were launched on a Boeing-built Delta rocket, which lifted off at 8:52 p.m. EDT (06.22 a.m.IST).
They were placed in a temporary, looping orbit around the Earth. On December 15, lunar gravity will slingshot the first spacecraft into a solar orbit just ahead of the Earth’s path. The second satellite will be flung into an orbit lagging the Earth on January 21. — Reuters
Islamabad, October 27
Karzai, a Pashtun himself, has sent letters to Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman, leader of the opposition in Pakistan’s National Assembly and a leading pro-Taliban cleric, and to Pashtun nationalist leader Asfandayar Wali Khan, urging them to help restore peace in southern Afghanistan.
“He has asked me to use my influence to cope with the situation in eastern and southeastern parts of Afghanistan,” Rehman told Reuters today.
“I have not yet responded to his letter and will do so after consulting my party leadership.” Despite the presence of almost 40,000 NATO and US-led troops in Afghanistan, thc country is suffering the worst period of violence since the Taliban was ousted from power by US-backed forces in the late 2001.
Rehman heads his own faction of Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam, a party of Islamic clerics, which is part of the government in both North West Frontier Province and Baluchistan, the two Pakistani provinces bordering Afghanistan.
His party has influence among madrasas, or Islamic schools, that the Taliban movement sprang out of in the early 1990s.
Pakistan and Afghanistan have been blaming each other for the growing challenge mounted by insurgents in the Pashtun belt straddling their long and porous border.
More than 3,000 people have been killed so far this year, including 150 foreign soldiers, and critics often refer to Karzai as the “mayor of Kabul” because of his government’s lack of control over the rest of the country.
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has warned that the insurgency could turn into “a people’s war” unless Karzai, wins over the Pashtuns, and both governments fear ethnic nationalism could fuel ideas of a “Pashtunistan” state.
Karzai, and Musharraf, key allies of the United States in its war on terrorism, last month agreed to call tribal gatherings or jirgas on both sides of the border to win support against the Taliban, but no dates have been fixed.
Khan, head of the Pashtun nationalist Awami National Party (ANP), said Karazi wrote to him and spoke with him yesterday.
“Right now two forces are operating in the region. One is promoting war, hatred and isolation while the other is trying for peace and harmony,” Khan told Reuters.
“We are in the latter camp and I have assured Karzai that we are ready to play our role in making the jirga successful.” Pakistan has already started calling jirgas in semi-autonomous tribal areas to counter Taliban influence.
Last month, a peace pact was signed at a jirga in North Waziristan and similar accords are expected in neighbouring South Waziristan and Bajaur, another tribal region to the northeast.—Reuters
24 Iraqi cops killed
Baguba (Iraq), October 27
An American reaction force of troops and aircraft was diverted to an area near Khan Bani Saad after an Iraqi police unit was ambushed.
“The police under fire fought back in intense house to house fighting,” a US statement said. “Iraqi and coalition forces engaged AIF (insurgents) with direct fire, killing 18 AIF, wounding eight and capturing 27 more.”
One Iraq civilian and 24 police men were killed “in action” while seven police men were wounded and taken to a US base for treatment, it added.
Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman Brigadier General Abdel Karim Khalaf said the pre-dawn clash began when insurgents ambushed a police squad responding to an intelligence report of a death squad hideout.
“The clashes took place over an area 25 km long. All nearby police units were involved, including the rapid response squad,” the ministry spokesman told AFP.
Islamabad, October 27
Khan (91) had been suffering from pneumonia for the past three months, his son-in-law Irfanullah Khan Marwat said.
A bureaucrat-turned-politician, Khan came to prominence in 1985 when he was made Chairman of the Senate by former military ruler Zia-ul-Haq.
He took over as Acting President in 1988 after Zia’s death in a plane crash and was later formally elected to the position.
Khan’s presidency was marked by controversy as he dismissed the governments headed by former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif on the charges of corruption, mismanagement and nepotism.
The dismissal of the Sharif government exacerbated institutional and political opposition to Khan, leading to his resignation in 1993, and later to a constitutional amendment that reduced the presidency to a figurehead.
Khan retired from public life after his resignation and never spoke to the media.—PTI
Multan, October 27
Multan’s Nishtar Hospital began admitting drunken patients on Monday evening as the Eid holiday began, marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.
“The patients were drowsy and short of breath,” said Dr Imran Rafiq, adding that they had been poisoned by drinking contaminated liquor.
Although alcohol is officially banned for Muslims in Pakistan, both locally made and black-market imported liquor can be bought. Poor people often resort to “kuppi”, an illegally distilled spirit.
Police raided an illegal outlet early on Friday and arrested five persons after a shootout, district police chief, Munir Ahmed Chisti said.
The poisonous alcohol was believed to have come from more than one source, and police expected to make more arrests. — Reuters
Atmore (Alabama), October 27
Hutcherson apologised to the victim’s family in a brief final statement yesterday and asked for forgiveness.
“I’m so very sorry for hurting you like this. It’s been a long time coming. I hope this gives you closure and someday find forgiveness for me.”
A chaplain knelt beside the gurney and held Hutcherson’s left hand and both prayed as he died.
The US Supreme Court had rejected Hutcherson’s appeal yesterday afternoon. Hutcherson’s attorney, Al Pennington, said Hutcherson did not want to ask Governor Bob Riley for clemency. Pennington said Hutcherson “didn’t want to beg.” — AP
Doha, October 27
The 16.5 metre memorial, to be unveiled on the channel’s 10th anniversary on November 1 at its Doha headquarters, is “an ongoing recognition of the dangerous work that many journalists are required to do”, Al-Jazeera said in a statement yesterday.
More than 630 names are etched on the memorial, which was designed by Iraqi-Canadian artist Mahmud Al-Obaidi.
“Journalists today are placed in hazardous situations either as a consequence of covering wars or giving voice to opinions that are condemned by political regimes,” the channel said. — AFP
Liz denies plans for ninth marriage
Los Angeles, October 27 Taylor, 74, is being linked romantically with artist and photographer Firooz Zahedi — who in the mid-1970s became the star’s personal photographer on her film projects. Responding to what she called stories “regarding my private life and future plans,” Taylor described Zahedi as “an old and dear friend.” But she added in a statement: “We are not, have never been and will never be romantically involved. My private life and my plans, at this time remain private.”
Los Angeles, October 27
Taylor, 74, is being linked romantically with artist and photographer Firooz Zahedi — who in the mid-1970s became the star’s personal photographer on her film projects.
Responding to what she called stories “regarding my private life and future plans,” Taylor described Zahedi as “an old and dear friend.”
But she added in a statement: “We are not, have never been and will never be romantically involved. My private life and my plans, at this time remain private.”