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March 31, 2006

Lethal earthquakes rock western Iran, 70 or more die

Lethal earthquakes rock western Iran, 70 or more die

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Friday, March 31, 2006 At least 70 people are dead and hundreds more injured after three earthquakes and several aftershocks rocked western Iran between Doroud and Boroujerd in the Lorestan province at 11:06 p.m. local time (1936 GMT) on Thursday. Some estimates of those injured currently range between 700-1,200 people.

The first earthquake measured a 4.7 on the Richter magnitude scale and was in a mountainous area and the second measured a 5.1. The third quake measured a 6.0 and hit Doroud and the villages surrounding the area at 4:47 a.m. local time (0117 GMT) on Friday.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, however, a 5.7 magnitude quake occurred at 0117 UTC followed by an earthquake of 4.7 magnitude fifteen minutes later. They also report that the previous day, a quake measuring 4.7 in magnitude occurred in the same area.

Power has been cut to some areas and there are reports of at least 330 villages that have been severely damaged. Some reports say that at least 20 villages have been destroyed. Thousands have been left homeless as a result.

In December of 2003, a magnitude 6.6 earthquake killed over 31,000 people and in February of 2005 a 6.4 eathquake killed 600 people near Zarand in the Kerman province.

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Canada freezes aid to Palestine

Canada freezes aid to Palestine – Wikinews, the free news source

Canada freezes aid to Palestine

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Friday, March 31, 2006

Canada has become the first western country to freeze aid and cut diplomatic ties to Palestine after the Palestinian Legislative Council installed a government led by Hamas. No other country has yet followed through on threats to end aid to the Palestinian Authority. Aid may still go to Palestine through the United Nations.

The Canadian Arab Federation head, Faraj Nakhleh, later expressed his dismay at the decision, which he says will harm the interests of the 3.5 million Palestinians who are at risk of starvation.

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Sewage spill fouls Waikiki Beach

Filed under: Archived,Environment,Hawaii,North America,United States — admin @ 5:00 am

Sewage spill fouls Waikiki Beach – Wikinews, the free news source

Sewage spill fouls Waikiki Beach

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Friday, March 31, 2006

Signs were posted at various points along Waikiki Beach warning beachgoers to stay out of the water. Source: KeithH

More than 48 million gallons (180 million L) of untreated sewage that flowed into the ocean from a sewer spill on Friday, March 24, have forced city officials in Honolulu, Hawaii, United States, to post signs warning tourists on Waikiki Beach to stay out of the water.

A 42-inch pressurized sewer line in Waikiki cracked on Friday, March 24, sending untreated sewage into the Ala Wai Canal on the inland (mauka) side of Waikiki. Engineers believe that heavy rains since February 19 overwhelmed the sewer line, which was constructed in 1965.

City officials say that they had no alternative but to pump the raw sewage into the Ala Wai Canal, which empties just west of Waikiki, to prevent the wastewater from backing up into homes and hotels. Repair crews worked around the clock to fix the sewer break. The spill was finally stopped on Thursday.

At first, tides and winds took the sewage spill out to sea, but southerly winds sent the sewage back toward Waikiki Beach, forcing city officials to take action. Signs were posted on beaches on the west side of Waikiki. Bacteria tests taken on the 29th showed levels of bacteria from three to sixty times acceptable levels.

Health officials will continue to test bacteria levels daily, but there is no estimate as to when the contamination will dissipate; warning signs may be in place for as long as several months.

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Rainy weather in Hawaii enters sixth week

Rainy weather in Hawaii enters sixth week

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Friday, March 31, 2006 Heavy rains have hit the main Hawaiian Islands for nearly six weeks, contributing to flooding in many places in the islands: a deadly dam break in northern Kauai, a sewage spill in Honolulu’s Waikiki district, and record rainfall totals in many areas of the state.

A series of upper-level storm systems have formed northwest of the island of Kauai, drawing tropical moisture from the south over Hawaii and forming areas of heavy rain and thunderstorms.

The island of Kauai, on which an earthen dam broke on March 7 killing seven people, has been hardest hit. Mount Waialeale, in the center of the island, has received 90 inches of rain during the month of March and 126.69 inches since the weather pattern began on February 19. 34.31 inches of rain had fallen at Lihue airport, the most rain in a single month since records started in 1950.

Tourism officials are concerned about the long-term effect that the heavy rains may have on tourism, and they expect to launch a marketing campaign once the weather improves.

The entire state remains under a flash flood watch until at least Saturday. Weather forecasters expect a return to normal weather patterns early next week.

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Judge sentences Ali to 30 years for Bush assassination plot

Filed under: AutoArchived,Crime and law,North America,United States — admin @ 5:00 am

Judge sentences Ali to 30 years for Bush assassination plot

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Friday, March 31, 2006

Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, a 25-year-old U.S. citizen, was sentenced by a U.S. district court judge to 30 years in prison on Tuesday for plotting to assassinate United States President George W. Bush. Ali, a self-proclaimed member of Al Qaeda, was arrested by Saudi officials in 2003 at the Islamic University of Medina.

Prosecutors had originally asked for a life sentence, but the judge said that the 30-year sentence was adequate, comparing the case to the “American Taliban” John Lindh. In addition, the judge pointed out that Ali’s actions “did not result in one single actual victim. That fact must be taken into account.”

Ali had given a statement to Saudi officials after his capture stating that he had joined Al Qaeda and talked with its senior members about plots to assassinate the President and to establish a terrorist cell in the United States. He asserted that his confession had been obtained through torture.

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Faust seeks Murphy disqualification in PA Congressional primary

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 5:00 am

Friday, March 31, 2006

Jane Faust, former Republican committeewoman once convicted of forging signatures, was a plaintiff yesterday in Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court (state court). Her lawyer, Larry Otter, argued that Patrick Murphy should be thrown off the ballot for the Democratic primary election in the eighth congressional district of Pennsylvania. The eighth district is primarily located in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

Otter argued that during the period of election petition signature collection, Murphy had signed his name as the circulator on two petition sheets, but was not present for each signature that was signed on those sheets, and thereby breaking Pennsylvania state law. Pennsylvania law states that whoever signs a petition sheet as a circulator must be present for each signature and see each signature placed on the sheet.

Murphy admitted that he was not at the sheet for every signature, and he agreed that the 96 signatures on those two sheets should be invalidated. He also stated that he was unaware of that particular election statute. Otter argued that the candidacy should be thrown out because when Murphy presented his signatures he was required to sign an affidavit stating he would “not knowingly violate any election law.” It was Otter’s contention to Judge Robert Simpson, Jr., that it is unbelievable that Murphy would not know the law, as Murphy is a lawyer.

“Mr. Murphy is a member of the bar of this court. He can’t say he doesn’t know what the law was. He’s been campaigning over a year,” Otter said. He then continued, arguing that since Murphy knowingly falsified his name on those two circulation petitions, he also failed to fulfill his candidate affidavit, which according to state law is a criminal offense.

The campaign manager for the Murphy campaign, Josh Nanberg, said, “Under Otter’s argument, any candidate who has a meeting and puts a clipboard at the front table and … goes to the bathroom should be thrown out. That’s ridiculous.”

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Condoleezza Rice visits the United Kingdom

Condoleezza Rice visits the United Kingdom

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Friday, March 31, 2006 Condoleezza Rice the United States Secretary of State has been visiting the North West England as a guest of Jack Straw the United Kingdom Foreign Secretary. She has been staying in Liverpool and travelling to Blackburn, Mr Straw’s constituency.

Her meeting has been followed by street protests outside her hotel on Hope Street and earlier visit to a Mosque was cancelled after public order fears.

Her visit is scheduled to last from March 30, 2006 to April 1, 2006.

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March 30, 2006

U.S. actor Charlie Sheen questions 9/11 theories

U.S. actor Charlie Sheen questions 9/11 theories

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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Charlie Sheen, appearing on cable television news network station CNN on March 24, questioned the credibility of the theory that 19 hijackers caused all of the destruction to the World Trade Center.

Sheen said; “It seems to me like, you know, 19 amateurs with box cutters taking over four commercial airliners and hitting 75 percent of their targets, that feels like a conspiracy theory… I am an American citizen that loves my country…. People want the truth. They want the truth. And what’s been offered to us resembles nothing of the sort.

In recounting his reaction on the day of the event, Sheen said,”I was up early and we were gonna do a pre-shoot on Spin City, the show I used to do. I was watching the news and the north tower was burning. There was a feeling, it just didn’t look like any commercial jetliner I’ve flown on any time in my life and then when the buildings came down later on that day I said to my brother, ‘Call me insane but did it sorta look like those buildings came down in a controlled demolition?’

Writer Marc Jacobson, of the New York magazine, who co-appeared with Sheen on the same program said in response: “Well, I think he’s doing a reasonable rendition of what other people that believe in this stuff say. And when he says he has his facts straight, I mean, I think the facts are in question. I mean, I think, just because you know what it says on all of these different Web sites doesn’t mean that that’s necessarily the fact. That’s the reason why the United States government, with their endless amounts of resources, let us down by not doing the proper work on the 9/11 Commission. That’s a real problem. Well, you know, but, I mean, it’s just one of those kind of things where you do this work and nobody really cares, but then Charlie Sheen is interested, so then everybody is interested, and that’s fine. You know, obviously, this material needs to be looked at again, because there’s been a lot of problems with the 9/11 Commission report. People feel it’s not adequate. Most of the people who had lost people during that time feel it’s not adequate. And it’s just I think we’re living in a truth vacuum, in a sense, that any time there’s a truth vacuum, these ideas — because people are smart. They put two and two together. Sometimes they get five; sometimes they get 12, but sometimes they get 11, like 9/11, but sometimes they get four. And the thing is that, if you have a situation where the so-called facts are covered up and aggressively covered up, then you’re going to get these conspiracy theories.” One website is claiming that Google had been censoring out any news articles relating to Sheen and 9/11 from it’s search engine.

Regarding the plane that hit the Pentagon, Sheen also has questions: “Just show us how this particular plane pulled off these maneuvers… It is up to us to reveal the truth. It is up to us because we owe it to the families, we owe it to the victims, we owe it to everyone’s life who was drastically altered, horrifically, that day and forever. We owe it to them to uncover what happened.

Some supporters of Sheen’s theories have complained about the lack of mainstream media coverage. They point to CNN’s recent cancellation of Ed Asner’s interview on Showbiz Tonight, where he was expected to support Sheen’s position, as an example of the “media blackout”.

Marina Hyde of The Guardian proposed a theory of her own with regard to Sheen: “Frankly, with dentistry as expensive as yours, you simply can’t afford to let The Man stamp his jackboot down on your face, and so it is that when faced with the inquiry ‘did Lee Harvey Oswald act alone?’, you find yourself thinking: ‘God, I mean… do any of us? Like, he had to have people, you know? At least an agent and a publicist.'”

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9/11 conspiracy theories

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Optus B1 outage leaves all New Zealand Sky TV digital subscribers without service

Optus B1 outage leaves all New Zealand Sky TV digital subscribers without service

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Thursday, March 30, 2006 An outage of Optus B1, believed to have occurred due to a problem during realignment of the satellite has resulted in a loss of service to all subscribers of Sky TV New Zealand’s Digital pay TV service, an estimated 550,000 people [1]. Sky TV’s terrestrial UHF service is unaffected.

Users of the digital service see a rain fade error message which is the standard error message that occurs when signal is lost on Sky’s Digital set-top boxes. Sky has temporarily removed the scrambling of their terrestrial UHF Sky Sport channel, allowing anyone able to receive the signal to view the channel (regardless of whether they are subscribers to any of Sky’s services). There are 3 other pay TV UHF channels operated by Sky but none of the others have been unscrambled. Original media reports suggest the unscrambling of Sky Sport 1 was done as the NZ cricket award ceremony was being held that evening, however the channel remains unscrambled after the end of the awards ceremony. Sky Sport 1 is probably one of the most popular Sky channels and provides coverage of rugby including Super 14 matches which will be played during the weekend beginning in the evening of 31 March 2006.

The outage began at around 30 March 2006 1850 NZST and is ongoing as at 31 March 2006 0755 NZST. However service has been partially restored as of 0820 NZST. It appears the satellite is still under realignment as not all channels work and with some the signal quality is poor. Certain channels that were available as of 0820 NZST were no longer available as of 0835 NZST.

Sky’s website [2] briefly went down and when it returned has been modified to include a special front page mentioning the outage [3]. Their phone service was frequently overloaded (engaged) and plays a message mentioning the outage in a continuous loop with normal voice prompts removed.

According to Sky’s media release [4], the Optus B1 is still contacting Optus’s ground stations and Optus is currently attempting to realign the satellite. Early media reports had indicated the satellite could be uncontactable [5] and a report on TV3’s nightly news programme quoted experts suggesting that it is possible the satellite potentially could not be properly realigned. Earlier reports had also quoted a Sky spokesperson suggesting the problem could be fixed by midnight [6].

The outage has also affected other services using the Optus B1 satellite believed to include some air traffic control functions, some interbank transmissions and also the New Zealand Fire Service in-fill paging service [7]. Other broadcasters using the satellite include TVNZ who offer both their TV channels free to air via the satellite and the Australian ABC and SBS. JuiceTV, a free-to-air terrestrial UHF music channel provided by Sky is also not broadcasting instead displaying the rain-fade error message. NASA TV which is community broadcast in Auckland is also affected as it originates from a free to air broadcast from the satellite.

It has also been reported that the Radio Network analog radio channels have been affected throughout the country [8] and that users of Sky’s MySky PVR box are unable to use the box even to watch prerecorded shows as the box needs a connection to the satellite to operate [9].

The TV3 nightly news programme report also mentioned that several pubs had had reduced patronage due to the loss of the sport broadcasting or racing. The New Zealand Herald reported loss of patronage in at least one pub [10]. However the TAB channel which provides coverage of racing events also broadcasts free to air on UHF in cooperation with Sky TV and appeared unaffected at 2245 NZT.

The New Zealand Herald [11] have quoted Sky TV as saying they will consider refunds when the problem is fixed. Legally, most ordinary consumers would potentially be entitled to refunds of some sort under the Consumer Guarantees Act including for any foreseeable losses, although this would not apply to most businesses. At 0700 NZST, the Sky TV website was updated to include the statement “A credit will be applied to all customers whilst the satellite is off air.” A link was also included providing instructions for tuning in to Sky Sport via UHF.

The Optus B1 satellite is 14 years old and is considered in urgent need of replacement as it lost its primary SCP on 21 May 2005 [12] and is now running on the one and only backup SCP. It has an intended lifespan of between 10 to 15 years. However the launch of the replacement satellite of the Optus D class was delayed in August 2005 [13] but are now intended to be launched in June 2006 [14].

Sky TV is the predominant pay TV broadcaster in New Zealand and the only one who use satellite. The only other pay TV broadcaster of any significance is TelstraClear who operate a cable network in Wellington and Christchurch reaching an estimated 160,000 households with a reported 62,000 subscribers to their network (this figure likely includes customers who do not subcribe to their TV service). They also provide access to several of Sky’s channels. World TV [15] offers several Asian channels using the Sky Network. Mirchee TV [16] offer several channels targeting the south Asian market via a terrestrial setup using satellite receiving equipement.

At present, an auction on TradeMe is attempting to sell the satellite.

Wikinews
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.

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EU warns Microsoft: forthcoming Vista risks antitrust breach

EU warns Microsoft: forthcoming Vista risks antitrust breach

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Thursday, March 30, 2006

The integrated search function in Internet Explorer 7 could breach European antitrust laws.

The European Commission is concerned about the inclusion of Windows Defender in Windows Vista.

The European Commission has warned Microsoft that features the company intends to include in its next version of Windows known as Windows Vista may breach the European Union’s antitrust laws.

The EU’s commissioner in charge of competition, Neelie Kroes, wrote to Steve Ballmer CEO of Microsoft last week informally warning him that Microsoft’s plans to include security features, search tools, copyright protection services and an application to create documents similar to Adobe’s PDF files into Vista would violate European antitrust laws, according to her spokesman Jonathan Todd.

Mr. Todd said that the commission was worried that features Microsoft plans to include in Vista may prevent customers from choosing their own software combinations. He emphasised that the letter was not a signal of a formal antitrust inquiry into Windows Vista.

The commission wrote the letter following a letter from Microsoft asking them to indicate if there were any possible competition issues with the new system. Mr. Todd said: “We assume that Microsoft has its own interests at heart. It wants to launch another product without having to worry about the Commission instituting various actions under antitrust law.”

Microsoft’s top lawyer in Europe, Horacio Guttierez, said Wednesday that adding such functions into the operating system was essential if Microsoft was to meet customer demand. “I know consumers want more secure computer systems,” he said.

Windows Vista includes software called Windows Defender, which seeks out and removes spyware and adware. Guttierez claims that forcing Microsoft to sell Windows without Defender “is a bit like forcing BMW to sell cars without airbags”.

“We have a responsibility to make our products better and more secure for our customers,” he said.

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