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July 1, 2005

United States Supreme Court Justice O\’Connor to retire

United States Supreme Court Justice O’Connor to retire

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Friday, July 1, 2005

President George W. Bush speaks via phone to Associate Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor Friday, July 1, 2005, shortly after she submitted her letter of resignation citing personal reasons. The letter sits on the desk. White House photo by Paul Morse.

United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, 75, announced Friday her intention to retire from the court. She said she would be stepping down before the beginning of the court’s fall term, or when the Senate confirms a successor.

More than 10 years have passed since the last vacancy on the Supreme Court, the highest court in the United States. Justice Stephen Breyer was the last jurist appointed to the court; Breyer was appointed by President Bill Clinton. This will be President George W. Bush’s first opportunity to appoint a justice to the court.

Soon after the retirement was announced, President Bush held a short press-conference outside the White House where he praised O’Connor’s years of public service. O’Connor has served on the court for 24 years, since her appointment by President Reagan in 1981.

In July 20 2005 President Bush nominated John G. Roberts as the candidate for the post.

O’Connor was the first female justice, as well as the first from the state of Arizona.

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US officials accused of covering up human deaths from BSE and discouraging testing of suspected animals

US officials accused of covering up human deaths from BSE and discouraging testing of suspected animals

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Friday, July 1, 2005

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Dr. Lester Friedlander, a former United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) vet, had been blowing the whistle on the USDA beef inspection practices before the latest case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was confirmed. Dr. Friedlander said that inspectors are allowed only 15 seconds of inspection and that unhygienic practices are common in the meat industry; practices such as cow carcasses with abscesses being hosed off, wrapped up and shipped to the consumer.

Friedlander also claims that some supervisors were more concerned about falsifying inspection documents than protecting consumers and that on June 9, 2005, a cow in Texas with BSE symptoms was sent straight to the rendering plant without testing.

There have also been allegations of a “don’t ask,don’t tell” approach being applied by US health officials when confronted with human deaths which may be caused by eating BSE contaminated meat. The Organic Consumers Association reported last year that hundreds of people are dying in the US each year from Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD or vCJD) (the human counterpart of BSE) and the deaths are being written off as “unexplainable”. The disease causes holes in the brains of the victims.

A New Jersey lawyer, Janet Skarbek is being called “the next Erin Brockovich” for her research into the “Cherry Hill cluster” of 12 deaths she said were caused by people eating BSE infected meat; “I’m up to 12 confirmed cases of CJD, where it says CJD on their death certificates and where they all ate at the same racetrack,” Skarbek said.

New Jersey state officials have said that the 12 deaths did not result from the human form of mad cow disease, but rather from sporadic CJD; but Skarbek says the government’s numbers don’t add up. “If you just take five of the victims from New Jersey that ate at the track most recently, two were out of 100 administrative employees and three were out of 1,000 season-pass holders. So out of that population of 1,100 people, we should see one case of CJD every 909 years.”



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USA lifts remaining sanctions on Serbia and Montenegro

USA lifts remaining sanctions on Serbia and Montenegro

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Friday, July 1, 2005

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U.S. President George W. Bush suspended all sanctions on Serbia and Montenegro by a decree yesterday. Serbia and Montenegro was under various degrees of economic and other sanctions by the United Nations and individual countries since 1992.

Serbia and Montenegro will now enjoy the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences which includes allowing duty-free import of more then 4600 products. Economic relations between two countries were stabilized in 2003 when Serbia and Montenegro gained a status of most favoured nation.

“We did a study and came to a conclusion that free market exists in Serbia, that there are laws to protect American investors, and we based our decision on that,” the U.S. ambassador in Belgrade Michael Polt said.

The President of Serbia and Montenegro, Svetozar Marović, wrote a letter to Bush thanking him for his move.

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UN/WHO making progress in treating HIV/AIDS, but will miss 2005 target

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UN/WHO making progress in treating HIV/AIDS, but will miss 2005 target

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Friday, July 1, 2005

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The World Health Organisation has announced that the number of people receiving anti-retroviral treatments (ART) in developing countries is increasing significantly – more than doubling between December 2003 and June 2005. One million people are now getting the drugs they need, compared to just 400,000 eighteen months ago.

However, access to treatment is not growing as fast as demand, and the UN is unlikely to reach its target of treating three million people by the end of 2005 – just over half the people who need it. The longer-term target of universal treatment by 2010 is still likely to be met.

The figures show that the number of people receiving ART is increasing in every part of the globe, but not as quickly as people are contracting HIV. The numbers getting treatment in sub-Saharan Africa, the part of the world worst affected by HIV/AIDS has increased threefold on a year ago, and doubled in the last six months. The same rate of growth as also been seen in Asia, the second-worst affected area.

The WHO’s report highlights that the best progress has been made when governments have worked together with the WHO, the UN and other parterners. The report goes on to make recommendations for simplifying the process to enable treatment levels to be increased even faster.

The UN’s target was based on what was hypothetically possible if all possible steps to provide treatment were taken. The report shows the while financial, political and technical steps have been made, other areas are falling short.

Pressure groups said that countries were reacting too slowly to the pandemic and called on the G8 to provide more sustainable funding for universal treatment for Aids.

UK international development minister Gareth Thompson said: “We are committed to universal access to HIV treatments by 2010. We will spend £1.5bn in the next three years on Aids, including £150m on orphans.”

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Spain legalizes same-sex marriage

Spain legalizes same-sex marriage – Wikinews, the free news source

Spain legalizes same-sex marriage

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Friday, July 1, 2005

Spain, a predominantly Catholic country, Thursday became the world’s third nation to legalize same-sex marriage following The Netherlands and Belgium. Canada, whose lower house has voted in favor of same-sex marriage, is widely expected to have that bill pass also in the upper house, making Canada the fourth country to legalize the marriage of gay couples.

By a vote of 187-147 with four abstentions, the 350-seat Congress of Deputies approved the measure to give same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual ones, including the right to adopt children and inherit each others’ property. The bill, which became law immediately, says, “Matrimony shall have the same requirements and effects regardless of whether the persons involved are of the same or different sex.”

Catholic leaders and the conservative opposition People’s Party lobbied heavily against the bill “calling it an assault on the institution of marriage and a threat to social stability.” The Roman Catholic Church endorsed a June 18 opposition rally in which about two hundred thousand marched through Madrid, including twenty bishops.

Recent polls suggest Spaniards support gay marriage, saying 62 percent of Spaniards support the government’s action on gay marriage while 30 percent oppose it.

According to an Associated Press report, Beatriz Gimeno, a longtime leader of Spain’s gay rights movement, held back tears as she hugged her partner Boti after the vote.

“It is a historic day for the world’s homosexuals. We have been fighting for many years,” Gimeno said. “Now comes the hardest part, which is changing society’s mentality.”

Gay couples can get married as soon as the law is published in the official government registry as early as Friday or within two weeks at the latest, Parliament’s press office said.

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Schröder loses motion of confidence

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Schröder loses motion of confidence – Wikinews, the free news source

Schröder loses motion of confidence

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Friday, July 1, 2005

This article is part of the series
Germany
German federal elections 2005
Prelude
Election Day
Aftermath
Background
  • Politics of Germany
  • German federal election, 2005

The German Federal Chancellor (Bundeskanzler), Gerhard Schröder, deliberately lost a confidence vote in the German lower parliamentary house, the Bundestag. Schröder had aimed to lose the vote of confidence in order to dissolve the Bundestag and to achieve earlier elections. In debate, Schröder argued, that there is no safe majority for his policy in the Bundestag. In his second term as Chancellor, he tried to start a reform agenda (Agenda 2010) which aimed to cut the budget deficit and unemployment in Germany, which has been criticised as neo-liberalism by several supporters of his party.

During the debate, opposition leader Angela Merkel explained that her party, the Christian Democrats, supports early elections. However, she did criticise the coalition government of the Social-Democrats and the Greens, for the country’s high unemployment rates (which have peaked at 5 million) and low economic growth. A Green deputy, Werner Schulz, attacked Schröder’s using the vote of confidence in order to achieve early elections, which is from his point of view unconstitutional. Franz Müntefering, leader of the Social Democrats had invited members of the ruling coalition to abstain from voting. 151 deputies supported Schröder, 296 voted against him and 148 abstained from voting.

After the lost motion of confidence, the German President Horst Köhler can examine Schröder’s arguments for three weeks and dissolve the Bundestag while setting a date for early elections. At least one deputy has announced he intends going to the Federal Constitutional Court to appeal against Schöder’s way of using the vote of confidence. The court will then have to decide whether it was constitutional or not.

All parties know that there might be early elections by September. At the moment, opinion polls are showing a majority for conservative opposition.

Audio Summary

(The following summary was included in the audio release of Wikinews for 7/2):

Chancellor Gerhard Schröder of Germany asked parliament to dissolve the government and order new elections to be held next year, one year earlier than otherwise would be required. Schröder decided to take the move to demand a vote of no confidence in view of his inability to solve his country’s current economic problems. It is predicted that if the request is approved by the German Supreme Court and German President Horst Köhler, that Schroeder’s government would not return to power, and the most likely person to become Chancellor will be Angela Merkel, who would become the first female chancellor in the country’s history.

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News briefs:July 1, 2005

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News briefs:July 1, 2005 – Wikinews, the free news source

News briefs:July 1, 2005

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Audio Wikinews transcript – 2005 07 01 – 21:30 UTC[]

As reported by Paul Robinson It isFriday, July 1, 2005 at 2130 UTC, and this is Wikinews: News Briefs.

Here are the stories that are being covered.

Pro Democracy Protests in the capital of the Congo.
Spain to legalize same-sex marriages.
The World Health Organization is making some progress in the treatment of AIDS
United States Supreme Court Justice O’Connor to Retire
The government of the state of Minnesota shuts down.

Breaking News[]

Deaths as Congolese government cracks down on pro-democracy protests Thousands of protesters are marching through the streets of Kinshasa demanding that the government resign over delayed elections. They were met by security forces who shot in the air and threw tear-gas grenades.

Spain legalizes same-sex marriage Spain, a predominantly Catholic country, became the third nation Thursday to legalize same-sex marriage following The Netherlands and Belgium. By a vote of 187-147 with four abstentions, the 350-seat Congress of Deputies approved the measure to give same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples, including the right to adopt children and inherit each others’ property.

UN/WHO making progress in treating HIV/AIDS, but will miss 2005 target The World Health Organisation has announced that the number of people receiving anti-retroviral treatments (ART) in developing countries is increasing significantly – more than doubling between December 2003 and June 2005. One million people are now getting the drugs they need, compared to just 400,000 eighteen months ago.

However, access to treatment is not growing as fast as demand, and the UN is unlikely to reach its target of treating three million people by the end of 2005 – just over half the people who need it. The longer-term target of universal treatment by 2010 is still likely to be met.

United States Supreme Court Justice O’Connor to retire United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, 75, announced today her intention to retire from the court. She said she would be stepping down before the beginning of the court’s fall term, or when the Senate appoints a successor. The last appointment to the Supreme Court was Justice Stephen Breyer more than ten years ago.

Minnesota state government shuts down Nine thousand state employees in the U.S. State of Minnesota were left jobless Friday after state legislators failed to pass a spending bill that would have kept the state government up and running. It is not uncommon for states to miss their budget deadlines, but Minnesota, in contrast to other states, has no law that automatically extends the previous budget if lawmakers fail to approve a new budget. A court order earlier this month requires the state to continue to provide services essential to “health, safety and property.”

Closing Comments[]

Thank you for joining us today. To receive more up-to-date news items as they occur, please visit wikinews.org.

And, be sure to check out our daily full-length audio news program, called Audio Wikinews: Full Report.

I’m Paul Robinson for wikinews.org, have a good day.

If you wish to contact the staff of this broadcast, please send an email to audiowikinews@gmail.com. If you wish to contribute to Wikinews, please call our United States telephone number, area code 206, 339-WIKI, that’s 206-339-9454. Wikinews is a nonprofit independent news site run by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation.

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Multiple deaths as Congolese government cracks down on pro-democracy protests

Multiple deaths as Congolese government cracks down on pro-democracy protests

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Friday, July 1, 2005

Protesters in Congo

Thousands of protesters are marching through the streets of Kinshasa demanding that the government resign over delayed elections.

Kinshasa – a city with nine million residents – is the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

They were met by security forces who shot in the air and threw tear-gas grenades at the protesters. Army helicopters flew overhead as protestors threw stones at soldiers.

The UN in Congo have said that four people may have been killed in Kinshasa, but that is not yet confirmed. A journalist in the area saw bruised and bandaged protestors who said they had been beaten by police, and a local TV station broadcast images of a protester who they said had been shot dead. The station was raided shortly afterwards by police.

Another six people were killed in Tshikapa, a town 700 km southeast of Kinshasa. In another province, heavy weapons were fired at protesters. Casualties are as yet unknown. The Congolese government has declined to confirm or deny any casualty figures.

Unrest has been growing among the 60 million residents in Congo – a former Belgian colony – over delays to the first democratic elections to be held for forty years. The elections – which should have been held before last Thursday – were agreed upon as part of a peace treaty that ended a five year civil war in 2003 – a war that had seen the deaths of four million people.

The current President made a television address to the nation the night before the deadline appealing for calm and re-iterating his desire to see elections.

Protest organisers say the people were just peacefully demonstrating their desire to see the interm government resign, but were attacked without provocation by security forces. The government had recently announced another six month delay before elections could take place.

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Minnesota state government shuts down

Minnesota state government shuts down – Wikinews, the free news source

Minnesota state government shuts down

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Friday, July 1, 2005

Nine thousand state employees in Minnesota were left jobless Friday after state legislators failed to pass a spending bill that would have kept the state government up and running.

“I’d like to say I’m sorry to the people of Minnesota,” said Republican state Rep. Rod Hamilton of Mountain Lake. “This is disgusting.”

It is not uncommon for states to miss their budget deadlines, but Minnesota, in contrast to other states, has no law that automatically extends the previous budget if lawmakers fail to approve a new budget.

Governor Tim Pawlenty accused Democrats of intentionally shutting down the government in order to hurt the Republican governor’s chances in the 2006 gubernatorial elections.

“The Senate wanted to shut down government from the beginning,” said Steve Sviggum, the leading Republican in the Minnesota House of Representatives.

Due to the shutdown, highway rest-stops will not be staffed during the busy July Fourth weekend. Lawmakers agreed, however, to a bill that would keep the state’s parks open.

A court order earlier this month requires the state to continue to provide services essential to “health, safety and property.”

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Man calls for seizure of Justice Souter home, under eminent domain ruling

Man calls for seizure of Justice Souter home, under eminent domain ruling

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Friday, July 1, 2005

In the wake of a United States Supreme Court ruling in Kelo v. New London on eminent domain last week, a California man has proposed that Justice David Souter’s New Hampshire home be seized by the state and a hotel be built on the site. Logan Darrow Clements faxed a letter to town officials in Weare, New Hampshire June 28, 2005 that justified the action as such:

“The justification for such an eminent domain action is that our hotel will better serve the public interest as it will bring in economic development and higher tax revenue to Weare.”

Justice Souter, who was in the majority ruling in the Kelo case, has lived at the farmhouse in Weare since he was 11 years old. Clements indicated that it was necessary to build on that location because “it is a unique site being the home of someone largely responsible for destroying property rights for all Americans.” The action has given rise to a great deal of support nationwide, as many are writing to the councilors of the small town of Weare to voice their approval for the proposal.

The proposal for the “Lost Liberty Hotel”, as it is to be called, features a number of components which seem to focus on the libertarian leanings of its designer. A dining room, called the “Just Desserts Cafe” and a museum based on the “loss of freedom in America” are two such components. Instead of a Bible provided by the Gideons (a standard item placed in most American hotel rooms), each guest will receive a free copy of Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged.



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