World in brief: Satellite shootdown called secret test
Russia said Saturday that U.S. military plans to shoot down a damaged spy satellite may be a veiled test of America’s missile defense system.
The Pentagon failed to provide “enough arguments” to back its plan to smash the satellite this week with a missile, Russia’s Defense Ministry said in a statement.
“There is an impression that the United States is trying to use the accident with its satellite to test its national anti-missile defense system’s capability to destroy other countries’ satellites,” the ministry said.
The Bush administration says the operation is not a test of a program to kill other nations’ orbiting communications and intelligence capabilities. U.S. diplomats around the world have been instructed to inform governments that it is meant to protect people from 1,000 pounds of toxic fuel on the bus-size satellite hurtling toward Earth.
Dozens protest Nazi-era singer
Several dozen people protested outside a theater Saturday where a 104-year-old singer who once performed for Adolf Hitler took the stage in the Netherlands for the first time in four decades.
Johannes Heesters was never accused of being a propagandist or anything other than an actor who was willing to perform for the Nazis, and the Allies allowed him to continue his career after the war. But in his native country he is viewed by some as irredeemable.
“He kept singing for the Nazi regime, for the Wehrmacht, and he earned millions,” said Piet Schouten, representative of a committee formed to protest Heesters’ performance at De Flint theater in Amersfoort.
“Those are facts and we have a problem with that on behalf of all the victims,” he told national broadcaster NOS.
In 1964, Heesters was booed off the stage in Amsterdam when he tried to appear as Nazi-hating Captain von Trapp in “The Sound of Music.”
No disturbances were reported during Saturday’s concert in Amersfoort, where Heesters was born in 1903.
Heesters, who lives in Germany, has been a popular figure in German-language cabaret since the 1930s.
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Singular plate fetches millions
A license plate with nothing but the number “1” on it went for a record $14 million at a charity auction Saturday.
Saeed Khouri, a member of a wealthy Abu Dhabi family, wouldn’t say how many automobiles he owned or which of them might carry the record-breaking single-digit plate.
“I bought it because it’s the best number,” said Khouri, whose family made its fortune in real estate. “I bought it because I want to be the best in the world.”
The oil-rich UAE began auctioning off vanity license plates last May.
Ordinary automobile license plates issued to drivers here – and even most other vanity series plates – carry both Arabic and Western numerals and script, defining the issuing city and country.
Khouri’s plate, however, has only the Western numeral and no letters.