The world at a glance . . . International
SeoulCloning faker convicted: A South Korean court has convicted the scientist at the center of a cloning research scandal of taking grant money under false pretenses, as well as embezzling some of the funds. But critics said the lenient sentence he received won’t discourage scientific fraud. Hwang Woo-suk briefly became a national hero in 2004 when he claimed to have successfully cloned human stem cells, raising hopes that the breakthrough would produce cures for Alzheimer’s and other diseases. But a review panel later concluded that Hwang had falsified his research. The court, saying the scientist had “truly repented,” cleared him of a separate fraud charge and suspended two years of his three-year sentence. He lost his license to conduct stem-cell research in 2006.
Peshawar, PakistanMore mayhem: A car bomb tore through a busy market in northwestern Pakistan this week, killing at least 90 people only hours after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had arrived in the country to pledge support for its campaign against Islamist militants. More than 200 people were wounded in the Peshawar blast, among the deadliest in a surge of attacks in recent weeks. The government blamed the assault on militants seeking to avenge an ongoing army offensive against al Qaida and the Taliban in their stronghold near the Afghan border. “I heard women and children crying,” said Mohammad Usman, who was wounded in the shoulder. “There was the smell of human flesh in the air.” Clinton was a three-hour drive away in Islamabad when the blast took place. “I want you to know this fight is not Pakistan’s alone,” she said.
Kabul, AfghanistanU.S. casualties spike: Three helicopter crashes in Afghanistan killed 14 Americans this week and eight more U.S. soldiers died in bomb attacks, raising October’s death toll to 53—the highest monthly count since the war began eight years ago. The deaths came as Afghanistan is scrambling to prepare for a runoff presidential election Nov. 7. The White House is reportedly closing in on a new Afghanistan strategy that will increase U.S. troops but fall short of a full-scale assault on the Taliban. It includes protecting the 10 largest population centers, training more Afghan soldiers, and seeking reconciliation with less radical Taliban members. “We are no longer thinking about just destroying the enemy in a conventional way,” said an administration official.
Kandahar, AfghanistanOn the CIA payroll: Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of the Afghan president, who is suspected of being a major player in the country’s opium trade, has gotten regular payments from the CIA for the past eight years, reported this week. Quoting current and former American officials, the newspaper said that Karzai has helped the U.S. by recruiting an Afghan paramilitary force that operates at the CIA’s direction around his home base in Kandahar and that he has served as a liaison between Americans and the Taliban. Some administration officials are reportedly seeking to end the arrangement, arguing that it fuels suspicions that the Karzai government is a U.S. puppet and undermines efforts to curb the opium trade. “The only way to clean up Chicago is to get rid of Capone,” said Maj. Gen. Michael Flynn, the senior American military intelligence official in Afghanistan.
BaghdadDeadly bombings: Two massive car bombs exploded in central Baghdad this week, destroying the Justice Ministry and the headquarters of the city’s government and leaving at least 155 dead and 600 wounded. A group called the Islamic State of Iraq, an ally of al Qaida, claimed responsibility for the attacks. The same group took responsibility for August bombings at other Bagdad government buildings that resulted in more than 100 deaths. Government officials warned that insurgents would intensify their efforts to destabilize Iraq before the elections in January. “They are targeting the government and the political process in the country,” an Iraqi official said.