Palin meets Karzai, other leaders at U.N.
NEW YORK, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was in New York for a two-day crash course in foreign affairs Tuesday, starting with a meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
The Republican vice presidential nominee was scheduled to meet nine world leaders on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly. She spent a half hour with Karzai at the Intercontinental Hotel, followed by a stop at the Colombian U.N. Mission residence to meet President Alvaro Uribe, Newsday reported.
Two senior foreign policy advisers to Republican presidential nominee John McCain accompanied Palin on her rounds.
Palin, who had never held a passport before last year, has had little exposure to the world outside Alaska. Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, the Democratic pick for vice president, is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Palin also scheduled meetings with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and four more heads of state as well as former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Bono, the U2 rocker turned international philanthropist.
11 killed in Finnish campus shooting
KAUHAJOKI, Finland, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- The death toll from a shooting at a Finnish vocational school climbed to 11 Tuesday, after the gunman died of self-inflicted wounds, officials said.
The assailant, identified as Matti Juhani Saari, shot himself in the head after his shooting spree at the Kauhajoki school in western Finland. He was transported to a hospital where he died of his wounds, Helsingin Sanomat reported.
The 22-year-old man apparently entered the school armed with an automatic weapon and fired on a class of adult students before turning the gun on himself, officials said.
Police said they thought Saari shot and killed nine people and that another person may have died of carbon monoxide poisoning from a fire that broke out during the shooting.
Officials evacuated the building, which had about 150 students, faculty and staff in it at the time of the late-morning incident.
At least one person with gunshot wounds was hospitalized in serious condition, Helsingin Sanomat said. Most of those hurt sustained minor injuries, officials said. Authorities weren't sure how many were injured.
Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE reported police were investigating whether a bomb may have been planted in a building near the vocational school.
Stevens doesn't have to be at trial daily
WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- A federal judge granted a waiver to U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, to miss court days for Senate business, warning his absence could leave a bad impression.
Tuesday was the second day of jury selection in the corruption trial of the Senate's longest-serving Republican. Stevens, who is seeking re-election in November, pleaded not guilty to seven felony counts of making false statements.
When granting the waiver, U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan noted Stevens's absence could be interpreted erroneously, The Hill reported.
"We don't want to have any negative impressions going on," Sullivan said. "People reach the wrong impressions for the wrong reasons."
Stevens' attorney said he thought the potential for his client missing court appearances wouldn't last long since the Senate is schedule to adjourn Friday.
Stevens, 84, is accused of failing to disclose in financial reports $250,000 in improvements at his Alaska home as well as other gifts. Stevens said he never intentionally violated the Senate reporting requirement.
The trial is being heard in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Poll: More Palestinians favor Fatah
NABLUS, West Bank, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza support the Fatah movement over Hamas by a 36 percent to 14 percent margin, a poll released Tuesday indicates.
The poll, conducted Al-Najah University in the West Bank city of Nablus, also found 30 percent of respondents held no preference between the two groups while 2 percent supported Islamic Jihad, the Israel newspaper Haaretz said.
The results, first reported by Israel Army Radio, also found unexpectedly strong support for the idea of establishing a joint Palestinian-Jordanian independent state. Some 27.6 percent of respondents favored that idea, the newspaper said.
There was also strong backing for continuing the temporary cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Fully 71.5 percent of the poll's respondents said they were in favor of a continued cease-fire.
The pollsters said the survey of eligible Palestinians voters was conducted Sept. 18-20, with a total of 1,380 of Palestinians taking part. Its margin of error was not reported.
Myanmar journalist released from prison
YANGON, Myanmar, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- Myanmar journalist U Win Tin was released after 19 years in jail Tuesday as part of an amnesty announced by the country's military junta, advocates said.
Win Tin, 78, the political mentor of Myanmar democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, walked out of Insein Prison near Yangon still dressed in prison clothes, the journalists advocacy group Reporters Without Borders said in a release.
The country's longest-serving political prisoner was let go as part of an amnesty program for 9,000 detainees ahead of elections promised for 2010.
"I am going to continue practicing politics because I am a political man," Reporters Without Borders quoted Win Tin as saying. "I did not sign document 401, which would have forced me to give up that role. Starting today, I am going to continue supporting Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy."
Win Tin was arrested in 1989 and sentenced to 20 years on various charges including anti-government propaganda, the group said. He had been the editor of the daily newspaper Hanthawaddy and was vice president of the Burma Writers Association.
U.S. soldier killed in Iraq attack
BAGHDAD, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- A U.S. soldier died Tuesday in a small-arms attack near Baghdad, military officials in Iraq said.
U.S. officials said the incident happened near the town of Salman Pak, about 19 miles east of the Iraqi capital, CNN reported.
Earlier in the day, an Iraqi civilian was killed and six others were wounded in two explosions in Baghdad, security officials said.
A bomb exploded near al-Rusafa in the eastern part of the city as a civilian vehicle was passing, killing the driver and wounding two passengers, a security source told KUNA, the Kuwait News Agency.
A second blast occurred in the al-Aathamaia suburb of Baghdad, wounding four civilians seriously, KUNA said.
Both explosions damaged nearby cars and buildings, officials said.