Sunday, July 15, 2007


Giant telescope begins search

TENERIFE, Canary Islands — One of the world’s largest and most powerful telescopes opened its shutters yesterday, turned its 34-foot-wide mirror toward the skies and captured its first light on a mountaintop on one of Spain’s Canary Islands.

The $179 million Great Canary Telescope, designed to take advantage of pristine, clear skies at the Roque de los Muchachos observatory atop the Atlantic island of La Palma, should be fully operational by May 2008.

On a crystal-clear night, Spain’s Crown Prince Felipe keyed in the computer codes that brought the observatory’s complex machinery to life.

Slowly, 12 of the telescope’s eventual 36 mirrors aimed at a twin star close to the Earth’s northern axis, near the North Star. Twelve images merged into one as the telescope focused.


Sarkozy celebrates first Bastille Day

PARIS — French President Nicolas Sarkozy yesterday led his first Bastille Day celebrations since taking office, giving pride of place to regiments from across Europe in the traditional military parade.

Mr. Sarkozy waved and smiled to the crowd as he rode in an open-top military vehicle down the Champs Elysees in central Paris, escorted by mounted regiments of the Republican Guard.

He momentarily brought the procession to a halt and stepped down from the vehicle to shake hands with bystanders, breaking with protocol and causing a bit of commotion in his entourage.


Three found dead in refrigerated truck

ROME — Three men thought to be Iraqis were found dead early yesterday in a refrigerated truck transporting watermelons in northern Italy, police said.

A fourth would-be immigrant was taken to a hospital in serious condition, the ANSA news agency said.

The truck, bearing Czech license plates, had come from Greece and was headed to Germany.


Prisoner repeats helicopter escape

MARSEILLES — A French criminal jailed for having organized a helicopter-assisted prison break escaped yesterday evening from a French prison, again using a helicopter.

Pascal Payet, 43, escaped from Grasse prison, southeast France, after a helicopter hijacked by four masked men landed on the roof of the prison.

In 2001, Payet used a helicopter to escape from the Luynnes prison in southern France. And last January, he was convicted of organizing another spectacular escape, using a helicopter, from the same prison in 2003. He was sentenced to seven years.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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