Monthly Archives: June 2011

NATO Raid Ends Attack

KABUL, Afghanistan — Several heavily armed attackers stormed one of the capital’s fortified premier hotels on Tuesday night, and sporadic shooting and at least two loud explosions were heard as Afghan security forces battled insurgents for hours afterward.

Coming within a week of President Obama’s announcement of troop withdrawals from Afghanistan, the attack underscored the still precarious nature of security, even in the capital, as the transfer of responsibility to Afghan forces is about to begin in several areas of the country, including Kabul.

In the early hours of Wednesday morning, three attackers on the roof of the Intercontinental Hotel were killed by NATO helicopters, a NATO spokesman said.

There were six insurgents in all, said a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, The Associated Press reported. In addition to the three killed on the roof, two others were killed by hotel guards at the beginning of the assault and another was killed either in the attack by the NATO helicopters or by Afghan security forces, The A.P. reported.

Afghans Report on Kabul Attack

At least seven other people were killed in the attack and eight were wounded, said the Kabul deputy police chief, Daoud Amin, according to The A.P. The assault ended about 3 a.m.

The heavily guarded Intercontinental Hotel, which sits on a hill on the western side of Kabul, has police guards at its base and intelligence officers stationed at the top of the hill and near the entrance. It was not clear how so many attackers could have breached the building’s defenses.

Attacks in Kabul have been relatively rare, although in May there was an attack on a similarly soft target: a bomber detonated his explosives inside a military hospital, killing six people.

In announcing the troop withdrawal, Mr. Obama said he could reduce the number of American forces because the influx of about 30,000 troops that he ordered more than a year ago had succeeded in pushing back the Taliban. Although the insurgents have been set back, particularly in their strongholds in the south, they have proved themselves still capable of carrying out assassinations and suicide bombings even in urban centers.

Also on Tuesday, the White House’s nominee to become the next American commander in Afghanistan faced tough questioning from a Senate panel about President Obama’s plan to pull troops from the country.

The nominee, Lt. Gen. John Allen, said that “surge” of more than 30,000 American troops had halted the Taliban’s momentum in southern Afghanistan, but he added that the fighting remained intense as insurgents were trying to regain lost territory.

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, General Allen echoed comments by other top commanders in recent days, saying that military leaders advised a more conservative drawdown of troops over the next year than the plan that Mr. Obama announced last week.

In the Kabul attack, a NATO spokesman said that the international forces tracked the situation through the night but left the fighting to the Afghans until early Wednesday when the International Security Assistance Force was called in.

“Two ISAF helicopters circled the roof of the hotel and then identified three individuals believed to be insurgents on the roof, and the helicopters engaged the individuals with small arms,” said Maj. Tim James, a NATO spokesman. “They were all wearing suicide vests and were armed and there were at least two explosions which we believe were the suicide vests detonating. Then Afghan National Security Forces who were in the hotel and were clearing the hotel worked their way onto the roof and were securing the roof.”

Samoonyar Mohammad Zaman, a security officer for the Interior Ministry, told The Associated Press that the insurgents were armed with machine guns, antiaircraft weapons and rocket-propelled grenades.

Mr. Zaman said there were 60 to 70 guests at the hotel. One guest, Jawid, told The A.P. that he had jumped out of a first-floor window to flee the shooting. “I was running with my family,” he said. “There was shooting. The restaurant was full with guests.”

The Taliban took responsibility for the attack, saying they intended to kill foreigners and Afghans, said Zabiullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman for northern and eastern Afghanistan.

“Our muj entered the hotel,” he said, referring to the Taliban mujahedeen fighters, “and they’ve gone through several stories of the building and they are breaking into each room and they are targeting the 300 Afghans and foreigners who are staying.” His claims could not be immediately confirmed.

At least six stories high, the Intercontinental is one of the largest hotels in the city and is frequented by foreigners as well as Afghan officials who stay there while they are in Kabul on business. It is also often used for conferences and political gatherings.

A major conference starts Wednesday in Kabul on the transition of NATO military and civilian control to the Afghan government, but none of the official meetings were scheduled to take place at the hotel.

The attack was reminiscent of several other recent ones in which multiple insurgents have converged on a public place. More than 27 attackers converged on downtown Kandahar in May, killing four people, and in February seven gunmen wearing suicide vests entered the Kabul Bank branch in the eastern city of Jalalabad and killed 18 people.

Similarly, in October 2009 several suicide bombers and gunmen stormed a United Nations guest house in Kabul. By the end of the siege, at least eight people were dead along with three attackers.

And in January 2008 a suicide bombing at the Serena Hotel in Kabul killed at least six people.


Copyright 2011 by The New York Times


Space Shuttle Endeavour ends final mission with smooth landing

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla.–Signaling the beginning of the end for NASA’s storied shuttle program, the Endeavour plunged back to Earth today, closing out its 25th and final flight.

The baton is now passed to its sistership, Atlantis, which was hauled to the launching pad a few hours earlier for it July 8 blastoff on the program’s final voyage.

With commander Mark Kelly and pilot Gregory Johnson at the controls, Endeavour dropped out of a moonless sky and into the glare of powerful xenon floodlights after a fiery descent from orbit, settling to a ghostly touchdown on runway 15 at 2:34 a.m. EDT. Barreling down the 300-foot-wide landing strip at more than 200 mph, Johnson deployed a large red-and-white braking parachute, Kelly brought the nose down, and Endeavour coasted to a stop on the runway centerline.

“Houston, Endeavour. Wheels stopped,” Kelly radioed in a traditional call to Houston.

“122 million miles flown during 25 challenging space flights, your landing ends a vibrant legacy for this amazing vehicle that will long be remembered,” astronaut Barry “Butch” Wilmore replied from mission control. “Welcome home, Endeavour.”

The shuttle Endeavour drops out of a moonless sky and swoops to a ghostly night landing to close out the orbiter's 25th and final voyage

“Thank you, Houston,” Kelly said. “You know, the space shuttle is an amazing vehicle, to fly through the atmosphere, hit it at Mach 25, steer through the atmosphere like an airplane, land on a runway. It is really, really an incredible ship.” He thanked “every person who’s worked on Endeavour,” saying “it’s sad to see her land for the last time, but she really has a great legacy.” While engineers and technicians swarmed around the orbiter for post-flight “safing,” Kelly, Johnson, European Space Agency flight engineer Roberto Vittori and spacewalkers Michael Fincke, Gregory Chamitoff, and Andrew Feustel doffed their pressure suits and joined senior NASA managers on the runway for a traditional walk-around inspection before departing for crew quarters and reunions with friends and family. Before leaving the orbiter, Johnson shut down the ship’s three hydraulic power units and a moment later, their fiery exhaust plumes flickered out for the last time, a stark reminder the shuttle’s flying days are over.

During the course of Endeavour’s 16-day mission, Kelly and his crewmates attached a $2 billion cosmic ray detector to the International Space Station, installed a pallet of spare components, staged four spacewalks to conduct needed maintenance, and helped the station crew repair a U.S. oxygen generator and a carbon dioxide scrubber.

Mission duration was 15 days 17 hours 38 minutes and 23 seconds, a voyage spanning 248 complete orbits and 6.5 million miles since blastoff May 16. Over the course of its 25-mission career, Endeavour logged 122,853,853 million miles, 4,671 orbits, and 299 days in space, carrying the first and last U.S. components to the International Space Station.

A few miles from the shuttle runway, a powerful Apollo-era crawler-transporter was slowly moving Atlantis into position atop pad 39A after a six-hour 3.4-mile trip from NASA’s Vehicle Assembly Building.

The final four shuttle astronauts

A throng of space center workers, many of them facing layoffs after Atlantis’ flight, turned out to witness the last shuttle “rollout,” cheering as the shuttle emerged into the light of powerful floodlights around 8:45 p.m. ET yesterday. Atlantis’ crew–commander Christopher Ferguson, pilot Douglas Hurley, Rex Walheim, and Sandra Magnus–mingled with the crowd and chatted with reporters about the looming end of the shuttle program.

“It’s going to be a long time until you see a vehicle roll out to the pad that looks as beautiful as that,” Walheim said, pointing toward Atlantis. “How can you beat that? An airplane on the side of a rocket. It’s absolutely stunning. So I think we lose a little bit of grace, of beauty, and also a little bit of majesty” when the shuttle fleet is retired.

With Atlantis on its way to the pad, Kelly and his crewmates closed Endeavour’s 60-foot-long payload bay doors at 10:45 p.m. Two hours and 45 minutes later, at 1:29 a.m. ET today, Kelly and Johnson carried out a two-minute 38-second firing of the shuttle’s orbital maneuvering system rockets, slowing the ship by about 201 mph to drop it out of orbit for an hourlong glide back to Florida.

After a half-hour free fall, Endeavour plunged into the discernible atmosphere at an altitude of about 76 miles. A few minutes later, the orbiter entered the zone of peak heating, experiencing temperatures of more than 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit on its reinforced carbon carbon nose cap and wing leading edge panels.

Approaching Florida from the southwest, Endeavour streaked high above the Yucatan Peninsula, across the Gulf of Mexico, and then over the west coast of Florida above Naples, descending steeply toward the Kennedy Space Center.

Taking over manual control at an altitude of about 50,000 feet, Kelly guided Endeavour through a sweeping 245-degree left overhead turn to line up on runway 15, settling to a tire-smoking touchdown a few moments later.

Over the next few months, Endeavour, like the shuttle Discovery before it, will be decommissioned and prepared for museum display.

Discovery, which completed its last flight in March, is going to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Washington, D.C., while Endeavour is bound for the Los Angeles Science Center. Atlantis will remain in Florida and go on display at the Kennedy Space Center’s visitors complex.



Copyright by News/

Illustrator CS5 Tutorial_part 1

In this lesson, you will complete several exercises and receive an introduction to some of the important capabilities of Adobe Illustrator. Have fun with this lesson—these features are covered in more detail in later lessons. If you feel uncomfortable jumping right in to creating a project, you can skip to Lesson 2, “Getting to Know the Workspace” and come back to this lesson later.

The project

In this lesson you will create a comp (rough design) of a web page using some features that have been around for years, as well as new features recently added to Adobe Illustrator CS5.

1] Launch Adobe Illustrator CS5.

2] Choose File > Browse in Bridge or press the Go to Bridge button (Sample Lesson Image) in the application bar at the top of the workspace.

By pressing the Go to Bridge button, you launch a separate application called Adobe Bridge. Bridge is an indispensable application that acts as the central command center for all your CS5 Suite applications and helps you to organize your Adobe Illustrator projects. You can use Bridge to help you easily locate files. With Adobe Bridge, you can see a preview of every file within any folder.

3] Once Bridge opens, navigate to the ai01lessons folder within the ailessons folder that you copied to your computer and double-click to open it. If an embedded Profile Mismatch dialog box appears, leave it at the defaults and press OK. The artwork for a rough design of a web page appears. You can keep this completed file open for reference, or choose File > Close to close it. If you are asked to save the file, choose No.

4] The Illustrator CS5 workspace is consistent with the other applications in the Creative Suite 5, which helps you to find the tools you need faster, no matter which application you are using.

5] For this lesson, you want to have multiple panels showing at the same time. To make sure that you can follow the lesson more easily, choose Window > Workspace > Essentials, or click on the Essentials button in the upper-right of the application bar.


Setting up the artboard

You will set up the artboard to create your comp for a web page.

1 Choose File > New. The New Document dialog box appears. Type ai0101_work into the Name text field.

2 Choose Web from the New Document Profile drop-down menu. By choosing the Web preset your default colors, patterns, and gradients are built from RGB (Red, Green, and Blue) colors.

3 Make certain that 800 x 600 is selected from the Size drop-down menu, and verify that Pixels is selected in the Units drop-down menu. Press OK; the new document is created. The document window contains a blank artboard, which represents the region that contains printable artwork.


Copyright 2011 by