World and Nation

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CIA Says it Used British Territory for Renditions

In tones freighted with frustration, Britain’s foreign secretary, David Miliband, told the House of Commons on Thursday that, “contrary to earlier explicit assurances,” the Central Intelligence Agency had confirmed using an American-operated airfield on a British island in the Indian Ocean for refueling two “rendition” flights carrying terrorism suspects in 2002.

The American acknowledgment contradicted previous assurances by the United States to Britain’s government that no such flights had landed on British territory or passed through British airspace. Each flight carried a single detainee and stopped on the island of Diego Garcia.

Although the CIA attributed its earlier denials to a “flawed records search,” the admission could add to the animosity the government here has aroused over its alliance with the United States in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Miliband’s statement prompted protests from members of Parliament of various parties and from British-based human rights groups that have contended for years that Britain was a knowing or unknowing partner in the American use of rendition flights. The term gained much of its notoriety from the American practice after Sept. 11, 2001, of transporting terrorism suspects secretly to other countries for interrogation.

The director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, informed British officials of the 2002 flights last week during a visit to London. He issued a statement Thursday to the agency’s staff in Washington saying a fresh review of agency records had shown that the CIA had erred in assuring Britain previously that “there had been no rendition flights involving their soil or airspace” since the Sept. 11 attacks.

At Toyota, Global Giant Reaches for Agility

At Toyota’s training center inside its Motomachi assembly complex here, workers use golf balls to limber up their fingers before they learn new tasks on the factory floor.

Holding two balls in either hand, they try to make them revolve in opposite directions, which requires a surprising amount of concentration.

The exercises are just a small part of Toyota’s plan to search continually for ways to streamline methods to build its cars, breaking down the steps used in thousands of tasks on the assembly line in order to teach them to new employees and managers.

Toyota sees the training centers — one here and another in Georgetown, Ky., as well as more planned for elsewhere in the world — as an important tool as it gears up for its next major phase of growth.

With plants in 27 countries, more new factories under construction and workers speaking languages that include Russian and Turkish, Toyota’s top executives are trying a difficult balancing act — replicating the company’s success and operating principles in other countries while ceding more control to these new outposts at the same time.

Such thinking represents not just a challenge of reconciling conflicting goals — to control and let go simultaneously — but also a fundamental shift for Toyota, where senior management jobs are held entirely by Japanese executives, and whose major operations, from engineering to design to strategic planning, remain based in this city about 200 miles west of Tokyo.

Microsoft Will Share More Secrets

Seeking to satisfy European antitrust officials, Microsoft said on Thursday that it would open up and share many more of its technical secrets with the rest of the software industry and competitors.

Microsoft executives, in a conference call, characterized the announcement as a “strategic shift” in the company’s business practices and its handling of technical information. They also portrayed the moves as only partly a nod to the continuing challenge Microsoft faces from Europe’s antitrust regulators.

The broader goal, they said, was to bring Microsoft’s flagship personal computer products — the Windows operating system and Office productivity programs — further into the Internet era of computing. Increasingly, people want a seamless flow of documents, data and programming code among desktop PCs and the Internet, especially as they make the shift from using software on a PC to using services on the Web.

“These steps are being taken on our own,” said Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s chief executive. The move, he said, was a recognition of Microsoft’s “unique legal situation,” but it was also the company’s effort to adapt to “the opportunities and risks of a more connected, more services-oriented world.”

Scientists Measure What it Takes to Push a Single Atom

IBM scientists have measured the force needed to nudge one atom.

About one-130-millionth of an ounce of force pushes a cobalt atom across a smooth, flat piece of platinum.

Pushing the same atom along a copper surface is easier, just one-1,600-millionth of an ounce of force.

The scientists report these minuscule findings in Friday’s issue of the journal Science.

IBM scientists have been pushing atoms around for some time, since Donald M. Eigler of the company’s Almaden Research Center in San Jose spelled “IBM” using 35 xenon atoms in 1989. Since then, researchers at the company have continued to explore how they might be able to construct structures and electronic components out of individual atoms.

Knowing the precise forces required to move atoms “helps us to understand what is possible and what is not possible,” said Andreas J. Heinrich, a physicist at Almaden and an author of the new Science paper. “It’s a stepping stone for us, but it’s by no means the end goal.”