- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 15, 2008


Da Vinci hand seen in chess puzzle

ROME — Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci, whose interests included painting, mathematics, music, engineering, anatomy and botany, may have illustrated the puzzles in a long-lost chess treatise recently recovered in the library of an aristocratic family in northern Italy, experts say.

The manuscript was penned around 1500 by Luca Pacioli, a mathematician and friend of da Vinci’s. Franco Rocco, a Milan-based architect and sculptor who studied the illustrations, believes the artist may have drawn the elegant pieces that illustrate the chess puzzles discussed in the treatise.

The treatise, “De Ludo Schaccorum” — Latin for “Of the Game of Chess” — includes more than 100 chess problems that challenge the player to reach checkmate in a certain number of moves. The sole copy of the treatise was found in 2006.


Pakistani held in terror plot

AMSTERDAM — Dutch authorities have arrested a 26-year-old suspected Islamist militant from Pakistan who they believe was planning attacks in Western Europe, the public prosecutor’s office said yesterday.

The man, arrested in the southern town of Breda, belonged to the same group behind a thwarted suicide attack in Barcelona, according to Spanish police. The group was also planning attacks in France, Britain, Portugal and Germany, although there was no evidence of a planned operation in the Netherlands, officials said.


U.S. soldier killed in standoff with police

BERLIN — A U.S. soldier who took his ex-girlfriend hostage in a south German town was fatally shot in a confrontation with authorities, police said yesterday.

The 30-year-old soldier, stationed in Schweinfurt, tied up his ex-girlfriend in her apartment in the southern town of Koenigsberg and threatened her. She managed to escape and alert police. When police commandos found and confronted the soldier late Thursday night, he threatened them with an M4 rifle.

U.S. Army V Corps said the soldier was from the 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division. His name was being withheld until his relatives are notified.


Leader demands release of hostages

BRUSSELS — Austria’s Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer yesterday demanded the immediate and unconditional release of two Austrian tourists whom al Qaeda’s branch for North Africa claims to have kidnapped in Tunisia. He said he would not negotiate with terrorists about hostages.

A new Internet statement by al Qaeda in Islamic North Africa on Thursday said the group would set the two tourists free if some of its members were released from jails in Tunisia and Algeria within three days.


Chavez dares U.S. over terror list

CARACAS — President Hugo Chavez dared the U.S. yesterday to put Venezuela on a list of countries accused of supporting terrorism, calling it one more attempt by Washington to undermine him for political reasons.

He said the “threat to include us on the terrorist list” is Washington’s response to his government’s successes.

“We shouldn’t forget for an instant that we’re in a battle against North American imperialism,” Mr. Chavez said. “On this continent, they have us as enemy Number 1.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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