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World briefly for Oct. 15

POSTED: October 15, 2012 8:39 a.m.

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (AP) — A U.S. military judge is considering broad security rules for the war crimes tribunal of five Guantanamo prisoners charged in the Sept. 11 attacks, including measures to prevent the accused from publicly revealing what happened to them in the CIA's secret network of overseas prisons.

Prosecutors have asked the judge at a pretrial hearing starting Monday to approve what is known as a protective order that is intended to prevent the release of classified information during the eventual trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who has portrayed himself as the mastermind of the terror attacks, and four co-defendants.

Lawyers for the defendants say the rules, as proposed, will hobble their defense. The American Civil Liberties Union, which has filed a challenge to the protective order, says the restrictions will prevent the public from learning what happened to Mohammed and his co-defendants during several years of CIA confinement and interrogation.

The protective order requires the court to use a 40-second delay during court proceedings so that spectators, who watch behind sound-proof glass, can be prevented from hearing — from officials, lawyers or the defendants themselves — the still-classified details of the CIA's rendition and detention program.

"What we are challenging is the censorship of the defendant's testimony based on their personal knowledge of the government's torture and detention of them," said Hina Shamsi, an ACLU attorney who will be arguing against the protective order during the pretrial hearing at the U.S. base in Cuba.

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Daredevil skydiver breaks sound barrier in record 24-mile leap over New Mexico desert

ROSWELL, N.M. (AP) — In a giant leap from more than 24 miles up, a daredevil skydiver shattered the sound barrier Sunday while making the highest jump ever — a tumbling, death-defying plunge from a balloon to a safe landing in the New Mexico desert.

Felix Baumgartner hit Mach 1.24, or 833.9 mph, according to preliminary data, and became the first person to reach supersonic speed without traveling in a jet or a spacecraft after hopping out of a capsule that had reached an altitude of 128,100 feet above the Earth.

Landing on his feet in the desert, the man known as "Fearless Felix" lifted his arms in victory to the cheers of jubilant friends and spectators who closely followed his descent in a live television feed at the command center

"When I was standing there on top of the world, you become so humble, you do not think about breaking records anymore, you do not think about gaining scientific data," he said after the jump. "The only thing you want is to come back alive."

A worldwide audience watched live on the Internet via cameras mounted on his capsule as Baumgartner, wearing a pressurized suit, stood in the doorway of his pod, gave a thumbs-up and leapt into the stratosphere.

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Turkey asks Syria-bound Armenian plane to land in northeast, inspects cargo

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey's foreign ministry spokesman says Turkish authorities are searching the cargo of an Armenian plane bound for Syria.

Selcuk Unal says Turkey granted the plane carrying aid for the Syrian city of Aleppo a permission to fly over its airspace only on condition it can search its cargo for possible military equipment.

Uncal said: "If nothing turns out it will be allowed to continue on its route."

Turkey forced a Syrian passenger plane flying from Moscow to Damascus to land in Ankara last week. Turkey says the Syrian Air plane was carrying military gear. Russia said that the equipment was spare parts for radar systems.

Syria and Turkey barred each other's aircraft from flying over their territory over the weekend.

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Over 100 militants attack Pakistani police station, behead 2 policemen and kill 4 others

ISLAMABAD (AP) — A Pakistani official says over 100 militants have attacked a police station in the northwest, killing six policemen. Two of the killed policemen were beheaded.

Police officer Ishrat Yar says the attack near the main northwest city of Peshawar started late on Sunday night and triggered a gunbattle that lasted for several hours. The militants were armed with heavy machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, hand grenades and assault rifles.

Yar also says 12 policemen were wounded in the attack in the small town of Matni, some 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of Peshawar.

One of the beheaded policemen was a senior official who commanded several police stations in the area.

Yar says the militants burned the police station and four police vehicles before they escaped.

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Euphoric but cautious, Muslim rebels ink Philippine pact as step to peace in strife-torn south

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Muslim rebels and the Philippine government overcame decades of bitter hostilities and took their first tentative step toward ending one of Asia's longest-running insurgencies with the ceremonial signing of a preliminary peace pact Monday that both sides said presented both a hope and a challenge.

The framework agreement, also called a roadmap to a final peace settlement that is expected by 2016, grants minority Muslims in the southern Philippines broad autonomy in exchange for ending more than 40 years of violence that has killed tens of thousands of people and crippled development.

It was signed in Manila's Malacanang presidential palace by government negotiator Marvic Leonen and his counterpart from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Mohagher Iqbal. Also on hand to witness the historic moment were President Benigno Aquino III, rebel chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim — who set foot in the palace for the first time — and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, whose country helped broker the deal.

"We are men and leaders who want to make a difference and we have decided that the time has come for us to choose the moral high ground," Najib said. He said the deal "will protect the rights of the Bangsamoro people and preserve the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Philippines."

He cautioned it "does not solve all the problems, rather it sets the parameters in which peace can be found.

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US cancels scholarship program for Gaza students amid battle involving Israel and Hamas

JERUSALEM (AP) — Amal Ashour, 18, loves Shakespeare and American pop music. One of the brightest students in the Gaza Strip, she studied her senior year of high school in Minnesota through a U.S.-government funded program.

She had planned to study English literature this fall at a university in the West Bank through another U.S.-sponsored program, but just a month before school started, she was informed the scholarship was no longer available.

"When you live in Gaza, you're a pawn in a greater political game," she said in a telephone interview. "There's nothing we can do about it." She is now enrolled at Islamic University, a stronghold of Gaza's ruling Islamic militant Hamas.

Under Israeli pressure, U.S. officials have quietly canceled a two-year-old scholarship program for students in the Gaza Strip, undercutting one of the few American outreach programs to people in the Hamas-ruled territory. The program now faces an uncertain future, just two years after being launched with great fanfare by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton during a visit to the region.

The program offers about 30 scholarships to promising but financially challenged Palestinian high school seniors from Gaza and the West Bank to study in local Palestinian universities.

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Arlen Specter, longtime Senate centrist from Pa. died in fight for political moderation

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Arlen Specter, a pugnacious and prominent former moderate in the U.S. Senate who developed the single-bullet theory in President John F. Kennedy's assassination and played starring roles in Supreme Court confirmation hearings, lost a battle with non-Hodgkin lymphoma at a time when Congress is more politically polarized than anyone serving there — or living in America — can remember.

Specter, 82, died Sunday, after spending much of his career in the U.S. Senate warning of the dangers of political intolerance.

For most of his 30 years as Pennsylvania's longest-serving U.S. senator, Specter was a Republican, though often at odds with the GOP leadership. His breaks with his party were hardly a surprise: He had begun his political career as a Democrat and ended it as one, too.

In between, he was at the heart of several major American political events. He drew the lasting ire of conservatives by helping end the Supreme Court hopes of former federal appeals Judge Robert H. Bork and the anger of women over his aggressive questioning of Anita Hill, a law professor who had accused Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. He even mounted a short-lived run for president in 1995 on a platform that warned his fellow Republicans of the "intolerant right."

Specter never had his name on a piece of landmark legislation. But he involved himself deeply in the affairs that mattered most to him, whether trying to advance Middle East peace talks or federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. He provided key votes for President Barack Obama's signature accomplishments, the health care and economic stimulus bills.

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Vaccine for cancer-causing sexually transmitted disease doesn't make girls promiscuous: Study

CHICAGO (AP) — Shots that protect against cervical cancer do not make girls promiscuous, according to the first study to compare medical records for vaccinated and unvaccinated girls.

The researchers didn't ask girls about having sex, but instead looked at "markers" of sexual activity after vaccination against the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus, or HPV. Specifically, they examined up to three years of records on whether girls had sought birth control advice; tests for sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancy; or had become pregnant.

Very few of the girls who got the shots at age 11 or 12 had done any of those over the next three years, or by the time they were 14 or 15. Moreover, the study found no difference in rates of those markers compared with unvaccinated girls.

The study involved nearly 1,400 girls enrolled in a Kaiser Permanente health plan in Atlanta. Results were published online Monday in Pediatrics.

Whether vaccination has any influence on similar markers of sexual activity in older teens wasn't examined in this study but other research has suggested it doesn't.

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Tigers head home with 2-0 lead in ALCS after Sanchez beats Yankees 3-0, umpire misses call

NEW YORK (AP) — Anibal Sanchez gave a performance against New York that the Detroit Tigers have come to expect from Justin Verlander.

The Tigers' ace is next in line for a chance to toy with the Yankees' suddenly dreadful offense.

Sanchez shut down a Yankees lineup minus the injured Derek Jeter, Detroit scored twice after a missed call by an ump and won without any extra-inning drama, beating New York 3-0 Sunday for a commanding 2-0 lead in the American League championship series.

"Sanchez showed what we know about our starters, that they're really good," Tigers outfielder Quintin Berry said. "A lot of people outside our clubhouse stop at Verlander when they talk about our starting pitching, but we just hope they all keep doing what they're doing."

Game 3 in the best-of-seven series is Tuesday night in Detroit, with Verlander, the reigning AL MVP, starting for the Tigers against Phil Hughes. Verlander went 2-0 in the division series versus Oakland, including a four-hit shutout with 11 strikeouts in the decisive Game 5.

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Aaron Rodgers sets career and ties franchise mark with 6 TDs in 42-24 rout of Texans

HOUSTON (AP) — This is more like it for Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

The reigning MVP set a career high and tied a franchise record with six touchdown passes and the Packers played their best game of their so far inconsistent season, beating previously unbeaten Houston 42-24 on Sunday night.

Jordy Nelson caught three touchdown passes and James Jones had two, including a beautiful, diving one-hander in the fourth quarter for the Packers (3-3). Tight end Tom Crabtree had the other, a 48-yarder that Rodgers released just before taking a hit from Texans' outside linebacker Brooks Reed.

Rodgers completed 24 of 37 passes for 338 yards. He tied Matt Flynn's game record for TD passes, set in last year's regular-season finale against Detroit with Rodgers resting on the sideline in advance of the playoffs.

The Packers heard criticism from fans in Green Bay all week after blowing a 21-3 halftime lead to the Indianapolis Colts last week. Another loss would have dropped them to 2-4 for the first time since 2006, and they missed the playoffs that season.

 

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