October 27 1997


October 27 1997


ONTO SATURN: A rocket launching the controversial Cassini space probe pierces early morning clouds as it climbs into space from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on a seven-year voyage to Saturn. It blasted off despite fierce opposition from anti-nuclear activists, who fear the 32 k of plutonium fuelling the craft could accidentally scatter back to Earth when it flies by—800 km away—in August, 1999. NASA insists the risk is less than one in a million.The $4.7-billion Cassini mission, the most ambitious NASA exploration, is the last of the agency’s big-budget projects. The spacecraft is to tour Saturn and its moons for four years beginning in July, 2004. It will also drop a European-made probe on Titan, the largest moon.

A call for action on Algeria

The brutality that is terrorizing Algerian civilians last week reached the village of Fidjel, west of Algiers. A group of men claiming to be from the militant Armed Islamic Group rounded up residents after nightfall and asked who in the group had not yet prayed that evening. When two adolescent boys tentatively raised their hands, the militants slit their throats. A third man, known in the village as someone who did not pray regularly, was also shot, according to a witness.

As Oct. 23 local elections neared, Islamic militants appeared to be stepping up a campaign of massacres in a war that has killed some 75,000 people in the past five years. Just two

days before the Fidjel attack, more than 30 people were murdered when rebels stopped a bus at a fake road block near the Moroccan border. Shortly before, assailants stopped an ambulance on the same road, slitting the throats of a nurse and a midwife in the vehicle. As the government in Algiers admitted its security measures were not working, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and two other international groups called for a UN-led probe of abuses in the country. “People have been killed behind a virtual wall of silence,” they said in a statement. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright ordered officials to review what Washington could do.

Alberta's Klein in hot water over China

On a visit to Beijing, Alberta Premier Ralph Klein provoked anger at home by urging Canadians to put the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre behind them in dealings with China. “If you want to keep living and reliving those events, then I guess nothing will be accomplished,” Klein said after meeting Chinese economic planners. “In China, very few people forget about it,” countered University of Calgary anthropologist Alan Smart, “and people elsewhere should not forget.” Klein, on his eighth trip to China, signed an accord expected to bring Alberta at least $100 million in new business in the next 10 years. Alberta-China trade reached $1 billion last year.


Controversy dogged Queen Elizabeth on a 10-day tour of Pakistan and India marking the 50th anniversary of their independence from Britain. The Queen was criticized for not apologizing sufficiently for a 1919 British massacre of Indians in Amritsar. An aide was accused of meddling for suggesting Britain could mediate between India and Pakistan over disputed Kashmir. And New Delhi cancelled a royal speech in Madras, citing protocol.


After a four-month war among militias, former dictator Gen. Denis SassouNguesso took over Brazzaville, capital of the Congo Republic. Ousted president Pascal Lissouba went into hiding, refusing to give up his title until a successor is “democratically elected, as I was.” The country borders the former Zaïre, now also known as Congo.


Tony Blair became the first British prime minister in more than 70 years to meet an Irish republican leader, when a. he shook hands with Sinn Fein chief | Gerry Adams in Belfast. Angry Protes| tants donned rubber gloves, saying t Blair was “contaminated” and a traitor, 'i


A powerful truck bomb blamed on Tamil Tiger guerrillas ripped through the business district of Sri Lanka’s capital, killing 18 people and wounding more than 100. President Chandrika Kumaratunga said she was willing to continue peace talks with the Tigers if they stopped such violence.


Outspoken Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad blamed the country’s economic woes on a Jewish “agenda,” saying Jews are “not happy to see the Muslims progress.” He had previously accused financier George Soros, who is Jewish, of deliberately hurting Asia through “immoral” currency speculation. A top U.S. official called the remarks “utter nonsense.”


A British car known as Thrust became the first to break the sound barrier, setting a new world record for fastest land vehicle. In a remote Nevada desert, driver Andy Green reached 1,228.49 km/h, 24 km/h faster than sound travels.