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May 31, 2006

Yangtze river in China polluted

Filed under: Asia,AutoArchived,China,Environment,Health,Shanghai — admin @ 5:00 am

Yangtze river in China polluted – Wikinews, the free news source

Yangtze river in China polluted

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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Yangtze River, the third longest river in the world, is polluted. It supplies water to 186 cities. The river takes 40% of China’s waste, 80% of which is untreated. It is the only source of drinking water to Shanghai, a city with 20 million people.

“Many officials think the pollution is nothing for the Yangtze, but the pollution is actually very serious,” said Yuan Aiguo, a professor with the China University of Geosciences.

In China 300 million people do not have access to drinkable water. Clean up campaigns have made limited progress because of inconsistent law enforcement.

The Yangtze is part of a plan to move 45 billion litres of water by 2050 to the north via canals. Environmentalists fear the water may not be safe to drink.

The pollution has caused a fall in the biodiversity of the Yangtze. Animal species have fallen from 126 in the mid 80s to 52 in 2002.

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Tourist bus attacked by militants in Kashmir

Filed under: Asia,AutoArchived,India,Manmohan Singh,Tourism — admin @ 5:00 am

Tourist bus attacked by militants in Kashmir

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Wednesday, May 31, 2006 Terrorists in Kashmir threw a grenade at a tourist bus in the heart of Srinagar, killing one person and injuring 21 others. Eyewitnesses say that the vehicle, in which were travelling tourists from West Bengal was attacked near the Dal Gate. The injured are being treated at the Kashmir Institute for Medical Sciences.

No terrorist outfit has yet claimed responsibility for this attack, which is the fourth incident this week. This is also the second time tourists were the targets. The number of militant attacks this month has increased after Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh decided to hold a round table conference with the moderate parties in Kashmir.

State Tourism Director Farooq Ahmed Shah condemned the attack saying, “It is a very unfortunate incident and we are trying our level best to improve the situation. However, it is unfair to say that tourists are unsafe in the Valley. Such incidents take place all over the world.” Tour operators however are concerned that attacks such as this one will result in customers calling off trips to Kashmir.

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Thousands protest tuition in Gießen, Germany

Thousands protest tuition in Gießen, Germany

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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Blocked Berliner Platz

Between 3,000 (police estimate) and 8,000 people (organiser’s estimate) took to the streets in Gießen, Germany today, protesting the planned introduction of tuition fees at Hessian universities.

Beginning at 1pm CEST (1100 UTC) students, pupils and ordinary citizens marched through much of downtown Gießen, accompanied by a massive police presence, in the largest demonstration the city has seen in years.

They occupied the office of the Regierungsbezirk and the city office.

From 4 to 7pm, at least 200 people also blocked the Berliner Platz, the most important inner city crossing, bringing most of the downtown bus and car traffic to a standstill. The crowd dispersed after the police threatend several times to clear the crossing by force.

Protesters in front of the city office

Students unions from all parts of Hesse called for the joint demonstration in Gießen.

In July, the Hessian state legislature is due to pass a bill that would require all undergraduate students to pay a tuition fee of 500€ per semester; graduate students could be charged up to 1,500€.

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Third GayFest begins in Bucharest

Third GayFest begins in Bucharest – Wikinews, the free news source

Third GayFest begins in Bucharest

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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Bucharest GayFest, organised annually by ACCEPT, is the largest LGBT festival in Romania

The third edition of Bucharest’s gay pride festival, GayFest, opened yesterday, May 30. The festival, which will last until June 4, consists of a series of LGBT cultural events, including film screenings, theatre and photographic exhibitions, as well as public debates about LGBT issues, and a gay pride parade on June 3, expected to attract hundreds of people. GayFest is organised by ACCEPT, Romania’s largest LGBT organisation, and supported by the Romanian Government and Ministry of Health, as well as various private organisations.

The main theme of the third GayFest is the legalisation of same-sex civil unions and marriages in Romania. Florin Buhuceanu, the executive manager of ACCEPT, said that, “The time has come for Romania to acknowledge the rights of all its citizens. Guaranteeing the equality of rights through the recognition of gay marriage… is just a step forward.” He added that, “The [GayFest] activities mark the most focused drive yet to change opinions on gay marriage in Romania.” Same-sex couples currently have no legal recognition in Romania. Legalisation of either civil unions or marriage between people of the same sex would be possible through an amendment of the Family Code, if approved by a majority in parliament.

On May 3, hundreds of LGBT people are expected to take part in the pride parade through the streets of Bucharest, a key part of the GayFest

Last year’s GayFest, which included the country’s first gay pride parade, attracted a significant amount of controversy from right-wing groups, as well as the Romanian Orthodox Church. It was initially not given authorisation from the Bucharest City Hall, which claimed that it could not guarantee its security. Approval was, however, later given due to pressure from the Romanian President, Traian Băsescu and the Justice Minister, Monica Macovei, both of whom support LGBT rights.

Unlike recent gay pride parades in Poland and Moscow, which ended in violence and were actively opposed by government officials, this year’s Bucharest GayFest parade was authorised by the City Hall without controversy, even though the Romanian Orthodox Church is once again expected to protest its organisation. In the past few years, Romania has significantly changed its gay rights record, introducing an anti-discrimination law in 2000 that includes sexual orientation, and repealing its last anti-gay law, Article 200 of the Penal Code, in 2001.

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The Pirate Bay and Piratbyrån raided

The Pirate Bay and Piratbyrån raided – Wikinews, the free news source

The Pirate Bay and Piratbyrån raided

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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Pirate Bay logo

A raid involving 50 members of the Swedish National Criminal Police has taken the servers of The Pirate Bay and Piratbyrån (the Pirate Bureau) — a Swedish lobby organisation that originally developed The Pirate Bay — into custody. The search warrant was given on grounds of alleged copyright violation and assisting copyright violation. This move comes as a bit of a surprise, as the legality of the site has been under public debate for over three years, with the operators frequently issuing public press releases.

WiredFire, in an interview with Rickard Falkvinge, head of the Swedish Pirate Party, is reporting that police arrested three staff members, ultimately taking only two into custody. The Associated Press, however, is reporting that Ulf Goranzon, a police spokesman, is claiming that none were arrested, they were just under suspicion of violating copyright law.

The site operators speculate that the police wish to test the legality of the operation. Purportedly, this move comes due to political pressure exerted by United States media corporations. Swedish public broadcaster Sveriges Television has backed this claim. Rickard Falkvinge has stated that the Svenska antipiratbyrån (Swedish Anti-Piracy Bureau) has admitted to being behind the police action, and he suspects the IFPI is also involved. Tobias Andersson, of Piratbyrån agrees, claiming that The Antipiratbyrån “has clearly misled the police” and “has fooled the police into shutting down its antagonists, the Piratbyrån. The Antipiratbyrån previously gained notoriety by paying an infiltrator to plant copyrighted material on the Swedish ISP Bahnhof’s servers.

Dan Glickman, CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), has applauded the move, citing it as a reminder that “there are no safe harbors for copyright thieves”. Kori Bernards, an MPAA representative, claimed The Pirate Bay to be “one of our No. 1 targets.” The MPAA allege that The Pirate Bay made available over 150 thousand files, including summer blockbusters such as “Mission: Impossible III” and “X-Men 3”.

However, The Pirate Bay claimed that as they only host .torrent files and not copyrighted material, they are not in contravention of copyright laws. The Pirate Bay also served as a distribution point for freely licensed material such as some Linux distributions and independent music and film.

The Pirate Bay claims to be the world’s largest BitTorrent tracker.

In the raid, the police also took several private servers unconnected to The Pirate Bay. Some have claimed that there is no legal basis for these seizures.

Initially, there were also rumors that this could be another stunt by The Pirate Bay to promote awareness. This possibility, however, has been already dismissed and only had some credibility given the fact that approximately one year ago today they claimed something similar like this, but instead were simply updating their servers. At current there are already some publications made available by officials confirming the authenticity of the raid.

On June the 1st The Pirate Bay site changed its “Site down” note to “Site down – will be up and fully functional within a day or two”.

Gottfrid Svartholm, owner of webhotel PRQ said “I was arrested for interrogation, and they begun to ask question about Pirate Bay, what I knew and what connections I had to it. I got no public defender, and my regular legal representative was also under arrest, so I said nothing at all”. According to Mr. Svartholm, the police told him that they were not obligated to provide a public defender, as the crime he was accused of doesn’t lead to jail sentence if he is found guilty.

The day after the raid, Mr. Svartholm is trying to limit the damage for PRQ’s other customers that also had their servers confiscated, even if they didn’t have any connections to The Pirate Bay.

Related news

  • “US accused of sinking The Pirate Bay” — Wikinews, June 2, 2006
  • Hackers hit Swedish police website” — Wikinews, June 2, 2006
  • “The Pirate Bay back online” — Wikinews, June 3, 2006

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Racist scuffle on Anti-OBE Teachers\’ forum

Filed under: Australia,AutoArchived,Education — admin @ 5:00 am

Racist scuffle on Anti-OBE Teachers’ forum

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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A Western Australian teachers’ website has come under fire by the Education and Training minister for publishing racist comments. Education and Training Minister, Ljiljanna Ravlich, today expressed concern about racist, abusive and offensive comments appearing on the anti-outcomes based education website PLATO.

Minister Ravlich said she was disgusted by some of the highly offensive comments made by members belonging to the group, People Lobbying Against Teaching Outcomes.

‘Some of the comments are obscene and, quite frankly, I worry that these people might be teaching our children,’ she said.

PLATO has since confirmed a teacher who is employed in the non-government education sector in Western Australia made the abusive comments.

The PLATO website was established to express dissent about the controversial Outcome Based Education system after Minister Ravlich insisted it continue to be used despite claims it was ineffective.

Last month the ongoing controversy even prompted a response from Prime Minister Howard who criticized the OBE method of teaching school children used in WA, describing it as ‘gobbledegook’ and that it could be ‘dumbing down’ the high school English syllabus.

One member from the school teachers’ forum named, ‘Fed up teacher,’ launched a vicious and racist verbal attack on a member who posted a comment supporting the OBE system.

When the member objected to being labelled a ‘nazi’ and the use of the term because her parents had suffered under the nazi regime, her response drew a further personal attack.

The posting by Fed up teacher said, ‘the nazis had the right idea, it is a pity they didn’t get to your parents before you were conceived, you really are a pathetic piece of trash that somehow escaped the final solution.’

Minister Ravlich condemned the attacks as disgusting and said it was just one of many offensive postings appearing on the website.

‘The website is littered with insults, foul language and abusive and racist comments,’ said Ms Ravlich.

The minister said PLATO has only about sixty members and as such was not broadly representative of the ‘thousands of dedicated and professional teachers in Western Australian schools.

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Iraq to investigate alleged massacre in Haditha

Iraq to investigate alleged massacre in Haditha

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Wednesday, May 31, 2006 The Iraqi government is to launch a formal investigation into claims that United States Marines murdered civilians in the Iraqi town of Haditha in November 2005.

Insignia of the US Marine Corps.

In an interview with the BBC, the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said: “It is not justifiable that a family is killed because someone is fighting terrorists.” and speaking to the Reuters news agency, said “We will hold those who did it responsible.”

Following the announcement, on Tuesday, May 30, the White House spokesman Tony Snow said they would make the details of the US investigation into the incident public.

Initial reports from the Pentagon stated the gun battle that ended in 15 civilian casualties, as well as 8 terrorist deaths, was a fight with militants.

Eyewitness reports claim that US Marines went house to house gunning down innocent men, women, and children without cause or provocation. The Wall Street Journal reports that there is evidence to support these claims.

Lance Corporal Roel Ryan Briones of Hanford, California, who was in Haditha on that day, told the Los Angeles Times, “They ranged from little babies to adult males and females. I’ll never be able to get that out of my head. I can still smell the blood.”

While some politicians sounded a note of caution that not all facts are yet known for conclusions to be drawn, John Murtha, a Democratic Congressman, said in an interview with CNN “It is as bad as Abu Ghraib, if not worse.”

The United States President, George W. Bush, is said to have learned of the Haditha incident from a journalist earlier this year and has already had a briefing on it from his national security advisor, Stephen Hadley.

Related news

  • “US marines may face death penalty for “massacre” of civilians in Iraq” — Wikinews, May 26, 2006
  • “Rep. Hunter calls for hearings about alleged “cold-blooded killings” of civilians by U.S. Marines” — Wikinews, May 20, 2006
  • “Time: 15 Iraqi civilians dead; U.S. Marines under investigation” — Wikinews, March 22, 2006

Sources

External links

Wikipedia Learn more about the Haditha massacre on Wikipedia.


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French \’iPod bill\’ seeks digital music player interoperability

Filed under: AutoArchived,Europe,France,Internet,Science and technology — admin @ 5:00 am

French ‘iPod bill’ seeks digital music player interoperability

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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Legislation pending in the French Parliament would require that music purchased online for use on digital music players be compatible across all players. It has become popularly known in France as the “iPod bill,” after the popular music player made by Apple Computer, and could pit France against Apple and other distributors of online music.

The National Assembly (lower house) and Senate (upper house) have passed two separate versions of the legislation. Both would reduce the penalties for piracy, require software companies to provide details on how their programs work, and create an agency that would have jurisdiction over digital copyright issues, including how often music can be legally copied by a customer for personal use and ensuring compatibility across devices.

Unlike the Assembly version, the Senate version does not contain provisions that would require manufacturers such as Apple and Sony to open all music sold on their platforms to work on players other than their own. Currently, the stores for Apple and Sony sell music only for use on their own players. Critics of the changes say that the Senate’s changes would defeat the purpose of the bill.

The two versions must now be reconciled in conference committee, a process that could take months.

Speaking in support of the bill, Assembly member Christian Paul said, “We oppose the idea that the seller of a song or any kind of work can impose on the consumer the way to read it, forever, and especially in the consumer’s home. Can we allow a couple of vendors to establish monopolies tightly controlling their clients and excluding competition?”

Christian Vanneste, the National Assembly sponsor of the iPod bill, said, “In France, there are two distinct mentalities. On one side is the backwards left, which is anti-American, and on the other is the right, which thinks that the U.S.A. shouldn’t be the only one with good ideas, and who want to compete with them.”

After the National Assembly’s vote in March, Apple denounced the measure as “state-sponsored piracy.” They refused to comment on the legislation after the Senate’s vote on May 10.

Francisco Mingorance, European policy director for the Business Software Alliance, said that the Assembly’s proposal is “about ripping off technology from those who developed it and putting it in the public domain.” The Business Software Alliance represents Apple, Dell, Microsoft Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and other major computer hardware and software companies.

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Taiwan MP shoves proposal in mouth

Filed under: Asia,AutoArchived,Taiwan,Wackynews — admin @ 5:00 am

Taiwan MP shoves proposal in mouth – Wikinews, the free news source

Taiwan MP shoves proposal in mouth

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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

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Amid chaos in the Legislative Yuan over a proposal about creating direct transport links with Mainland China, Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party deputy, Wang Shu-hui, snatched the written proposal and shoved it into her mouth. Opposition members failed to get her to cough it up by pulling her hair. She later spat the proposal out and tore it up. This is the third time that the DPP’s actions have stopped a vote over this issue.

During the incident another DPP members, Chuang Ho-tzu, spat at an opposition member.

The amendment to the Statute Governing the Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area would have permitted direct transit between mainland China and Taiwan, which now has to be routed through an intermediate—usually Hong Kong. Opening such links is supported by the opposition pan-blue alliance, which controls the legislature, but opposed by the independence leaning DPP government.

Direct transport links between Taiwan and Mainland China have been banned after the two sides split amid a bloody civil war in 1949. The Communist government in the mainland and opposition politicians in Taiwan supporting Chinese reunification have vowed to lift the ban, but their efforts have repeatedly been blocked by the ruling DPP, which cites national security concerns.

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States Challenge IR laws in High Court

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States Challenge IR laws in High Court – Wikinews, the free news source

States Challenge IR laws in High Court

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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

High Court proceedings have commenced with every Australian state challenging the legality of the Howard Government’s radical new industrial relations workplace reforms.

Acting Employment Protection Minister John Kobelke said the new laws reduced the pay, employment conditions and job security of many Western Australian workers and their families.

The minister said the proceedings challenged the validity of John Howard’s Work Choices legislation that came into effect on March 27, this year.

All the state governments have objected to the legislation on the basis that it is unconstitutional and New South Wales led the combined states’ legal challenge.

Mr Kobelke said it would remain to be seen whether the Howard government has the right to overrule established constitutional practise by its reliance on the corporations power to underpin its Work Choices legislation.

The corporations power of the Constitution enables the Commonwealth to regulate foreign, trading or financial corporations but the Acting Minister disputed the corporations power gave the Commonwealth ‘a blank cheque’ over industrial relations.

John Kobelke said, ‘contrary to assertions from Canberra, the scope of the corporations power has yet to be judicially settled.’

“No other Federal Government has attempted to do what the Howard Government has done with the corporation’s power,’ the minister also said.

Mr Kobelke said he believes the High Court challenge will be one of the most significant constitutional cases in modern history and that the Carpenter government opposes the potential ill-effects of the legislation on workers and their families.

“The laws threaten the very essence of federalism and if the Howard Government has its way, the corporations power will be used to sideline the States.”

The High Court proceedings concluded yesterday, with a decision not expected until next year.

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