Nation digest 10/29/01

Odyssey delays photo shoot of Red Planet

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft has delayed its first photo shoot of the Red Planet until at least Tuesday after scientists decided to slow the spacecraft's entry into the atmosphere, a mission official said Sunday.

The slowing is not because of problems with the unmanned probe that reached Mars and entered orbit last Tuesday, said mission manager David A. Spencer.

Scientists are trying to avoid problems caused by friction from Odyssey's descent into the atmosphere. Too much friction could hurt the winglike 75-square-foot solar array that powers Odyssey.

Yugoslav chief blasts war crimes report

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- Yugoslavia's top general denounced as "idiotic ranting" a report by a U.S. human rights group that accuses him of a leading role in the systematic killings of thousands of ethnic Albanians during the Kosovo conflict, a news agency reported Sunday.

Gen. Nebojsa Pavkovic called the report "unfounded gossip and calculations," the work of people "who suffer from an inferiority complex," the private FoNet news agency reported.

Human Rights Watch says it has collected detailed evidence to prove that the deaths of up to 10,000 ethnic Albanians in the Kosovo conflict were part of a planned campaign of terror engineered by former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and associates.

Bodies of Kursk sailors sent home for burial

MOSCOW -- The bodies of seven sailors retrieved from the wreck of the Kursk nuclear submarine were heading for hometowns across Russia on Sunday, more than 14 months after the disaster that killed them.

The bodies were among 37 pulled out of the Kursk since it was lifted from the Barents Sea floor and towed to a dry dock earlier this month.

Lined up in seven identical coffins, the men were honored at a memorial service late Saturday night at the military hospital in nearby Severomorsk, the Kursk's home port. The bodies were then flown home overnight.

Levine to lead Boston Symphony Orchestra

BOSTON -- James Levine will be the first American-born music director of the 121-year-old Boston Symphony Orchestra after the symphony's board Sunday approved a five-year contract.

Levine, 58, is expected to shuttle between Boston and New York, where he remains music director of the Metropolitan Opera through 2007. Meanwhile, he'll be the symphony's music director designate effective next September.

No other American has been entrusted to direct the famed orchestra.

-- From wire reports