News briefs:May 18, 2006

The time is 18:00 (UTC) on May 18th, 2006, and this is Audio Wikinews News Briefs.

Contents

  • 1 Headlines
    • 1.1 Nepal Parliament passes resolution to curb King’s power
    • 1.2 Cholera Outbreak Hits Angola
    • 1.3 New Italian government proposes withdrawal of troops from Iraq
    • 1.4 Australian opposition expected to release workplace plan
    • 1.5 FBI searching Michigan farm for clues in disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa
    • 1.6 Indian markets crash: Sensex loses 826 points, Nifty down 246
    • 1.7 Dee Caffari on last stretch of round the world sailing challenge
    • 1.8 Australian rugby league club to have extra police at all NSW games
    • 1.9 Barcelona win Champions League/Temp
  • 2 Closing statements
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24 February

Canadian trio claim South Pole record for trans-Antarctic trip

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A trio of Canadian trekkers said Friday they completed the fastest unaided on-foot trek using the traditional route from Hercules Inlet on the Ronne Ice Shelf to the South Pole in a record time of 33 days, 23 hours and 30 minutes. Ottawa ultra-runner Ray Zahab, age 39, adventure journalist and architect Kevin Vallely, age 44, of Lynn Valley, North Vancouver and North Pole expeditionist Richard Weber, age 49, said they completed the 700-mile (1,130-kilometer) journey, at 10,000 feet altitude, finally arriving early Wednesday morning.

They endured a white-out but survived on a 7,000-calorie-a-day diet of pemmican, Gatorade drink powder, outdated salami, deep-fried bacon, cheese and butter. “If you took a cloud, wrapped it around your head and then duct-taped it, that’s what a white-out is like,” Mr Zahab, explained. The trio also suffered altitude sickness, vertigo, massive, painful blisters, and temperatures as low as minus 40. Zahab had to pull 170-lb (77-kg) sleds of equipment, traveling on foot and on snowshoes while the other two men skied.

According to ExplorersWeb.com’s founder, Tom Sjogren, the trio erased the previous record of 39 days, 7 hours and 49 minutes, which was set by American Todd Carmichael, the first American to cross Antarctica to the South Pole alone, on foot and with no assistance. He arrived at The Pole on December 21, 2008. “They have definitely broken the record,” said Sjogren. Guinness World Records spokesman, Damian Field, in London, however, said that “Guinness monitors a category for fastest unsupported trek to the South Pole, but it has no record currently listed.”

Prior to Carmichael, the record was held by Briton Hannah McKeand. In the fastest journey to the South Pole (600 nautical mile journey), she completed solo and in just 39 days, 9 hours and 33 minutes. In March 2008 she attempted to reach the North Pole alone and unsupported but had to abandon the trip after falling through the ice and badly damaging her shoulder.

Ray Zahab is a Canadian ultramarathon runner, personal trainer, and motivational speaker. He lives in Chelsea, Quebec, and is famous for his 4,300-mile (6,920-kilometer) epic run across the Sahara Desert in 2007, which was the subject of a documentary narrated by actor Matt Damon‘s “Running the Sahara.” He heads Impossible2Possible, a nonprofit organization which advocates planet protection. “I started looking at impossible places on the planet in the past year, and I said Antarctica is one of those impossible places, and if we can create an expedition, perhaps we can inspire a bunch of young people to realize they can achieve,’ Zahab said.

Richard Weber, M.S.M. (born June 9, 1959 in Edmonton, Alberta) is a world-renowned Canadian Arctic and polar adventurer, from Alcove (near Wakefield). From 1978 to 2006, he participated in, lead and organized more than 45 Arctic expeditions. Richard is the only person to have completed six full North Pole expeditions. He has therefore trekked to the North Pole more than anyone in history.

The trio were waiting out a storm before boarding a flight to Chile for Ottawa. “I’m pretty tired, actually,” said Kevin Vallely, calling from Patriot Hills, Antarctica. During the saga, Vallely was solely burdened with carrying the high-tech gear in his sled consisting of video cameras, satellite phones, hand-held computers, different kinds of solar panels, batteries and wires chargers. “Had we not brought all that stuff we probably would have got it done faster because we wouldn’t have had to carry all that weight, but then it doesn’t matter as much,” he explained. Vallely said he also intends to produce a documentary of the expedition.

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22 February

New fossils from 10 million year old ape found in Ethiopia

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Researchers say that new, ten million-year-old fossils found in Ethiopia, prove that the theory that humans may have evolved from a species of great apes eight million years ago, may not be true, but that humans may have split from apes as long as 10.5 million years ago.

At least nine fossilized teeth, one canine tooth and eight molars, of a previously unknown species of apes found in Africa were discovered by a team of researchers from Ethiopia and Japan who then compared the 3-D make up of the teeth to other fossils that date back as far as 8 million years and found that the fossils are likely a “direct ancestor” of apes currently living in Africa and that the new ape fossils were that of a species of gorilla who ate mostly plants high in fiber.

Current fossils and research say that the evolutionary split from apes to humans occurred at least eight million years ago. The new fossils say that the split may have happened as long as 10.5 million years ago.

“Based on this fossil, that means the split is much earlier than has been anticipated by the molecular evidence. That means everything has to be put back,” said researcher at the Rift Valley Research Service in Ethiopia and a co-author of the study, Berhane Asfaw.

Despite the finds, other researchers are not convinced that the findings are correct.

“It is stretching the evidence to base a time scale for the evolution of the great apes on this new fossil. These structures appear on at least three independent lineages of apes, including gorillas, and they could relate to a dietary shift rather than indicating a new genetic trait,” said a Professor at the London Natural History Museum in the United Kingdom, Peter Andrews who also added, “but the fossil evidence for the evolution of our closest living relatives, the great apes, is almost non-existent.

Researchers have named the newly discovered species Cororapithecus abyssinicus whose remains were found in the Afar Region of Ethiopia, the same place where the remains of Lucy were discovered in 1974.

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22 February

How the Army Corps of Engineers closed one New Orleans breach

Friday, September 9, 2005

New Orleans, Louisiana —After Category 4 storm Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans, on the night before August 29, 2005, several flood control constructions failed. Much of the city flooded through the openings. One of these was the flood wall forming one side of the 17th Street Canal, near Lake Pontchartrain. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is the primary agency for engineering support during such emergencies. A USACE team was assessing the situation in New Orleans on the 29th, water flow was stopped September 2nd, and the breach was closed on September 5th.

Contents

  • 1 Background
  • 2 August 27: Before the storm
  • 3 August 29: Day of the storm
  • 4 August 30: Flood
  • 5 August 31: Recovery begins
  • 6 September 1: Construction
  • 7 September 2: Water flow stopped
  • 8 September 3
  • 9 September 4: Almost done
  • 10 September 5: Breach closed
  • 11 September 6: Pumping and moving on
  • 12 See also
  • 13 Sources
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21 February

Osama bin Laden killed in U.S. operation in Pakistan, White House says

Monday, May 2, 2011

U.S. officials last night said Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader and orchestrator of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and embassy bombings in 1998, had been killed by U.S. special forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan near the capital Islamabad.

White House officials say that four others were killed in the forty-minute raid that began at 2000 UTC yesterday—including a woman said to have been used as a human shield. One of those shot is thought to be bin Laden’s son. An American helicopter was lost due to mechanical failure, but no U.S. forces or civilians were killed.

U.S. President Barack Obama announced the news in a statement late last night. “I can report to the American people and to the world, that the U.S. has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden,” Obama said. He confirmed he had been told in August of a lead to the location of bin Laden, and approved the operation last week. The operation involved a “small team of Americans”, Obama said.

The operation, led by the CIA, occurred nearly ten years after the 9/11 attacks. CIA director Leon Panetta notified U.S. legislators Sunday about the news. His body was verified using several methods, including DNA testing with DNA from a dead sister’s body, stored in a Boston, Massachusetts hospital, as well as facial recognition. However, staff at the hospital in question—Massachusetts General Hospital—have not been able to “find any evidence” of the body ever being stored there. U.S. officials said his body was then buried at sea at around 0600 UTC today, “in accordance with Islamic law and traditions” and because of the difficulty of finding a country that would accept the remains of the world’s most wanted man. Saudi Arabia, the country in which Osama bin Laden was born, refused a U.S. offer to take the body.

Following the President’s announcement, people started gathering in front of the White House in Washington, D.C., Times Square and Ground Zero—the site of the World Trade Center—in New York, to celebrate; singing the national anthem. Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York City, said he hoped the death of bin Laden would “bring some closure and comfort to all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001”.

The U.S. government is reportedly expecting al-Qaeda to soon release what they are likely to call a “martyr tape”—an audio recording made by bin Laden to be broadcast after his death.

Although the death of the 54-year-old bin Laden, who was the most wanted person in the world, was greeted with celebration in the U.S., analysts have warned that al-Qaeda will “undoubtedly” launch a retaliatory attack. “I think the significance of what has happened cannot really be overstated,” John Gearson, director of the Centre for Defence Studies at King’s College London, said.

“There will be concerns that there could be some sort of retaliation, that al-Qaeda may well want to demonstrate that they are still strong and still in the game.” He warned that U.S. officials may “lose their focus” after such a major victory, “and that will provide an opportunity for the remnants of al-Qaeda to reform and grow stronger.”

I can report to the American people and to the world, that the U.S. has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden.

Hillary Clinton, the U.S. Secretary of State, appealed to Islamic militant fighters to use the opportunity of bin Laden’s death to abandon their groups. “Our message to the Taliban remains the same, but today it may have even greater resonance: you cannot wait us out,” she said. “You cannot defeat us. But you can make the choice to abandon Al Qaeda and cooperate in a peaceful political process.”

The president of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, said that “we have waken up in a safer world”, with the news bringing “safety to millions of people”, whilst U.S. senator John McCain sought to remind the American people to “be mindful that al-Qaeda and its terrorist allies are still lethal and determined enemies”. The Kremlin reiterated that “revenge is inescapable for all terrorists”, and that “only a joint struggle against global terrorism can bring a result”.

The United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary, William Hague, sought to remind people bin Laden was “the world’s most prominent leader”, going on to say that “it was of great importance that he was still alive and active, and it is unequivocally a good thing that he is no longer able to pursue terror, murder and mayhem in the world”. Mentioning that security at British embassies worldwide have been increased in the wake of the news, he reiterated that the death of the al-Qaeda leader was a “serious blow”, and that, “like any organisation that has suffered a serious blow, they will want to show in some way that they are still able to operate”.

Nicolas Sarkozy, the president of France, welcomed the news, along with many other European countries. He praised the “tenacity” of the U.S. attack, congratulating the “major blow” the move dealt to al-Qaeda. Eight French citizens were killed last week in a bomb blast in Marrakesh, and, although no group has yet claimed responsibility, it is speculated that al-Qaeda were behind the attack. Sarkozy paid homage to them, as well as other around the world, saying the “victims received justice today and France has thoughts for them and their families”.

It is unequivocally a good thing that he is no longer able to pursue terror, murder and mayhem in the world.

Pakistani officials were not informed of the planned raid, with the White House saying this was “essential to the security of the operation and our personnel”. However Obama emphasised that cooperation with Pakistan had helped in finding bin Laden. The operation, described by one senior White House official as “a surgical raid by a small team designed to minimise collateral damage”, was not intended to take bin Laden alive. “It was a kill mission”, said one security official. Bin Laden died after being shot in the head.

Witnesses in Abbottabad have described how the U.S. forces carried out the raid on the compound, which had significant security features, including walls up to 18-foot high topped with barbed wire. “We saw four helicopters at around 2am. We were told to switch off lights of our homes and stay inside,” one witness, who lives in the town of Bilal in Abbottabad, said. The man confirmed he had seen the wreckage of the U.S. military helicopter which crashed after experiencing mechanical difficulties.

Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that the U.S. “operation was conducted [by] U.S. forces in accordance with declared U.S. policy that Osama bin Laden will be eliminated in a direct action by the U.S. forces, wherever found in the world”, noting that almost “30,000 Pakistani civilians” had been killed in terrorist attacks in recent years, with the “nation fully united in [its] resolve to eliminate terrorism”.

We saw four helicopters at around 2am. We were told to switch off lights of our homes and stay inside.

However, Pervez Musharraf, a former president of Pakistan, criticised the U.S. involvement, describing the operation as a “violation of [Pakistani] sovereignty,” and saying the raid was a “a failure of both Pakistani and U.S. intelligence”; he stressed it would have been “far better” if the Pakistani Special Services Group had carried out the attack. Musharraf went on to say he was “surprised” bin Laden was found in Abbottabad, but added the terrorist leader “had declared war against Pakistan”, and that the news came as a “victory for the people of Pakistan and all the peace loving people of the world”.

The news that bin Laden was hiding just a few hundred metres from Pakistan Military Academy, a similar institution to the U.S. West Point Academy or the UK Sandhurst, has been met with embarrassment on behalf of the Pakistani government, and scepticism from others. “This is a serious blow to the credibility of Pakistan”, according to one Pakistani security analyst. Earlier today, Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai maintained he knew bin Laden was in Pakistan: “For 10 years we told NATO and the world community but for ten years they didn’t listen to our voice. They burned Afghanistan for ten years but Osama was in Islamabad.”

Whilst many governments worldwide welcomed the death of bin Laden, more than 800 people marched in the Pakistani city of Quetta, paying homage to bin Laden and burning a U.S. flag. According to the organizer, “Bin Laden was the hero of the Muslim world and after his martyrdom he has won the title of great mujahed”. At the march, pro-Taliban and anti-United States sentiments were chanted, before the protesters dispersed peacefully.

Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan have denied that bin Laden has been killed, although in a conference call to several Pakistani media outlets, a rebel spoksperson threatened to seek revenge: “If Bin Laden attained martyrdom, then we will avenge his death and we will attack the governments of Pakistan and the United States and their security forces”.

Although no images of bin Laden’s body have been released, the Obama administration is, according to ABC News, in possession of gruesome photographs: a “massive head wound” where he took a bullet, with “blood and brains clearly visible”.

The price of oil has dropped following the announcement after speculation that the death of bin Laden will lower the risk of supply disruption in the Middle East, with a barrel of crude oil for June delivery falling by $1.92.

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21 February

Australian National Archives release Loans Affair documents

Saturday, January 1, 2005

The National Archives of Australia have, as part of their standarddocument release cycle, released thirty year old documents from theWhitlam government.

The centre piece of the 1974 archives are a series of documents fromthe Australian Cabinet and the Treasury pertaining to the attempt toobtain a $US4 billion loan by the Whitlam government from the MiddleEast. The obtaining of these loans and the scandal generated becamecollectively known as the “Loans Affair,” and contributedsignificantly towards the dismissal of the Whitlam government by SirJohn Kerr the following year.

The documents from Treasury, which include descriptions of both theloan itself and the people involved in arranging them, are scathing.The “Points that might be made” document of December 13, 1974 clearlystates that Treasury believed the distinct possibility that the loansmight be part of “a confidence trick of major proportions”. Minutesfrom another meeting five days later state the “incredulity” on thepart of the Bank of England and the Federal Reserve Bank of New Yorkregarding the viability of the loan.

Those documents now available comprise the beginning of the LoansAffair, from the initial offers to the end of 1974. The remainder ofthe Loans Affair documents, as well as everything else from 1975 willbe released on January 1, 2006.

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21 February

Flash floods hit Australia’s eastern coast

Thursday, June 30, 2005

6,000 residents of Lismore in NSW have been told to evacuate their homes.

A couple is missing on the Gold Coast in Queensland. State Emergency Services (SES) workers are currently preparing to evacuate a number of nursing homes in the suburbs of Southport and Burleigh.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) have said that South East Queensland has recorded rainfalls of 368mm in the last 24 hours and that the Gold Coast suburb of Coolangatta has been averaging 80mm per hour for at least two hours. The Coolangatta airport was closed due to flooding.

Further south the city of Lismore has been inundated. A recently constructed levy has held back the waters of the Wilson river, protecting the town’s central business district.

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19 February

Looted, possibly contaminated body parts transplanted into USA, Canadian patients

Monday, March 20, 2006

Fears of contaminated bone and skin grafts are being felt by unsuspecting patients following the revelation that funeral homes may have been looting corpses.

Janet Evans of Marion Ohio was told by her surgeon, “The bone grafts you got might have been contaminated”. She reacted with shock, “I was flabbergasted because I didn’t even know what he was talking about. I didn’t know I got a bone graft until I got this call. I just thought they put in screws and rods.”

The body of Alistair Cooke, the former host of “Masterpiece Theatre,” was supposedly looted along with more than 1,000 others, according to two law enforcement officials close to the case. The tissue taken was typically skin, bone and tendon, which was then sold for use in procedures such as dental implants and hip replacements. According to authorities, millions of dollars were made by selling the body parts to companies for use in operations done at hospitals and clinics in the United States and Canada.

A New Jersey company, Biomedical Tissue Services, has reportedly been taking body parts from funeral homes across Brooklyn, New York. According to ABC News, they set up rooms like a “surgical suite.” After they took the bones, they replaced them with PVC pipe. This was purportedly done by stealth, without approval of the deceased person or the next of kin. 1,077 bodies were involved, say prosecuters.

Investagators say a former dentist, Michael Mastromarino, is behind the operation. Biomedical was considered one of the “hottest procurement companies in the country,” raking in close to $5 million. Eventually, people became worried: “Can the donors be trusted?” A tissue processing company called LifeCell answered no, and issued a recall on all their tissue.

Cooke’s daughter, Susan Cooke Kittredge, said, “To know his bones were sold was one thing, but to see him standing truncated before me is another entirely.” Now thousands of people around the country are receiving letters warning that they should be tested for infectious diseases like HIV or hepatitis. On February 23, the Brooklyn District Attorney indicted Mastromarino and three others. They are charged with 122 felony counts, including forgery and bodysnatching.

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19 February

Claims from British quake may run into “low tens of millions of pounds” – Insurance association reps

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Representatives from the British insurance industry have said that the cost of the earthquake which hit Britain early yesterday could be over 10 million GBP. The Association of British Insurers has said in a statement that the cost for the earthquake is “likely to run into the low tens of millions of pounds.”

The Senior claims manager at the UK bank Norwich Union has described the damage by saying that at the moment most insurance claims regarding the earthquake describe “minor damage such as tiles off roofs, breakages inside the homes and brick walls collapsing.” It has also been reported that approximately 1,200 insurance claims were made in the first twelve hours after the earthquake hit Britain.

These reports come one day after the United Kingdom was hit by a 5.2 earthquake. Tremors were reported as widespread as Edinburgh, Manchester, Sheffield, Middlesbrough, Cambridge, London, Birmingham and Southampton .

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19 February

Israel attacks Hamas leadership targets in the Gaza Strip

Friday, August 1, 2014

The violent conflict between the armed factions in Gaza and the Israeli military stepped up another level on Tuesday. On a day when at least 100 Palestinians were reported killed, Hamas symbolic targets were hit, including reportedly the power plant in Gaza city, Hamas radio and television broadcasting stations, and the homes of Hamas leaders, while Hamas continues to attack through its tunnels and launch rockets at Israeli cities.

On that day, Al-Aqsa, Hamas’ radio and television broadcasting stations, were attacked. The television broadcast continued, but the radio broadcast was interrupted. The Israeli military claimed the stations were used by Hamas to convey its messages to the population in Gaza, including the denial of the Israeli military’s warnings to the people before bombings close to civilian homes. Additionally on Tuesday, a main mosque in the city of Gaza was bombed, as well as several Hamas leaders’ homes in Gaza, including the house of Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas prominent leader in Gaza.

During the Israeli attack Tuesday morning, the power plant supplying most of the electricity to Gaza was badly damaged. Most — eight of ten — of the power lines carrying electricity from Israel to the Strip have already been damaged in the conflict. After the last time the power plant was attacked, a week ago, electricity supply to the residents of Gaza had dropped to only a few hours a day. According to The Boston Globe, a spokesman for Gaza’s Electricity Distribution Company says the plant, which supplies electricity to most of the Gaza Strip, was attacked by an Israeli tank.

The Israeli military claimed to have bombed well over 100 terror targets on Tuesday. Resistance organizations in the Gaza Strip continued to launch rockets aimed at the Tel Aviv area and other areas of Israel; some of these rockets were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome system.

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18 February