Fri, Sep 04, 2009 - Page 6 News List

World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ISRAEL

Program can decipher texts

Researchers say they have developed a computer program that can decipher previously unreadable ancient texts and possibly lead the way to a Google-like search engine for historical documents. The program uses a pattern recognition algorithm similar to those law enforcement agencies have adopted to identify and compare fingerprints. But in this case, the program identifies letters, words and even handwriting styles, saving historians and liturgists hours of sitting and studying manuscripts. By recognizing such patterns, the computer can recreate with high accuracy portions of texts that faded over time or even those written over by later scribes, said Itay Bar-Yosef, one of the researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

■ITALY

Qaddafi orders rocket car

How do you celebrate a coup that gave you 40 years in power? For Muammar Qaddafi, the answer is simple: Order a rocket car. An Italian company said on Wednesday that the Libyan leader wanted an ultra-safe car as sleek as a rocket to celebrate the anniversary of the 1969 coup that brought him to power — so that’s what they made for him. The “Rocket” is an “elegant sedan” 5.5m long and 1.8m wide, with a 3 liter, V-6 gasoline engine. It can go hundreds of kilometers on a flat tire. Car design company Tesco TS SpA said Qaddafi asked that Libyan materials including marble, leather and fabric be used. The car was unveiled earlier this week in Tripoli at the end of an African Union summit. Qaddafi already owns one rocket car, which he bought 10 years ago when he marked 30 years in power. At the time, Libya said the vehicle was the safest in the world.

■RUSSIA

Moscow may banish show

The fabled beauty of the Kremlin’s golden onion domes dusted with winter snow may be a thing of the past under a scheme by the Moscow mayor reported by newspapers yesterday to banish snow. “Why don’t we keep this snow outside the Moscow city limits?” the Izvestia and Gazeta dailies quoted Mayor Yuri Luzhkov — who has a well-established track record of micro-managing Moscow’s weather — as saying this week. “For the countryside, this means more moisture and bigger harvests. And for us, less snow,” Luzhkov said, adding that Moscow already relies on cloud-seeding techniques to guarantee clear skies on holidays. Under Luzhkov’s proposal, the skies would be cleared whenever snow-laden clouds approach Moscow.

■SPAIN

Referendum raises hackles

Lawyers representing the government have lodged a legal appeal against plans by a village in northeastern Catalonia to stage a referendum on independence for the region, judicial sources said on Wednesday. Arenys de Munt, a village of just 8,000 near Barcelona, has called the non-binding referendum for Sept. 13. The initiative — launched by a separatist association — is backed by all parties in the village council bar Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s Socialists. The villagers were to be asked whether Catalonia should become an independent state within the EU. Villages cannot call popular votes on anything except local matters, the state lawyers argued, saying that a local vote on a question of national importance could encourage other localities to organize similar polls.

■UNITED STATES

Kennedy writes of remorse

In a posthumous memoir, Massachusetts senator Edward Kennedy writes of fear and remorse surrounding the fateful events on Chappaquiddick Island in 1969, when his car accident left a woman dead, and says he accepted the finding that a lone gunman assassinated his brother, president John F. Kennedy. The memoir, True Compass, is to be published on Sept. 14 by Twelve, with the New York Times obtaining an early copy. Kennedy says his actions on Chappaquiddick on July 18, 1969, were “inexcusable.” He says he was afraid and “made terrible decisions” and had to live with the guilt for more than four decades. Kennedy also wrote that he had a full briefing by Earl Warren, the chief justice on the commission that investigated the Nov. 22, 1963, Dallas shooting. He said he was convinced the Warren Commission got it right and he was “satisfied then, and satisfied now.”

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