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December 6, 2006

US Senate confirms Robert Gates as new Secretary of Defense

US Senate confirms Robert Gates as new Secretary of Defense

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Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Robert Gates

The United States Senate voted overwhelmingly today to confirm Robert Gates as the new Secretary of Defense, replacing outgoing Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The vote came a day after the Armed Services Committee voted unanimously to recommend Gates’s confirmation.

Senators from both parties praised Gates for bluntly stating that the United States was not winning the war in Iraq, and that new strategies were needed. “Dr. Gates spoke with candor — a candor that has been sorely missing from the Department of Defense under this administration,” said Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA). “He recognized the high price that our troops are paying for the current policy.” Republican Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania said that Senators saw “the possibilities of a new chapter … but it is up to the commander in chief to structure a change in policy.”

Gates was approved by a vote of 95-2, with dissenting votes coming from Republican Senators Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Jim Bunning of Kentucky.

President Bush named Gates, now aged 63, who had served as Director of the CIA under his father, President George H.W. Bush, the day after Democrats won control of both houses of the incoming 110th Congress in an election marked by frustration over the continuing war in Iraq.

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France24 non-stop news channel on air today

Filed under: Archived,France,Media — admin @ 5:00 am

France24 non-stop news channel on air today

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Wednesday, December 6, 2006

The launch of France’s new 24 hour TV news channel, France 24, saw the new jointly owned channel start by going online. A streaming broadcast became available on the internet from 19:29 GMT today. Future plans are to have the new channel available on cable and satellite with English and French reporting. Coverage in Arabic and Spanish is among the ambitious future plans for the channel.

Founded by a joint venture between private group TF1 and the public France Télévisions the new channel is managed by Alain de Pouzilhac, former Havas head. Employing 170 journalists and a total of 380 people, France 24 is funded by 86 million euro of public money.

The motto of the new freely-available international channel is “un regard français”, aiming to promote a French world-view the channel was a project with the blessing of the country’s president, Jacques Chirac.

As a free channel streaming over the Internet and available by satellite the following are the carriers who have agreed to broadcast transmissions: Hot-Bird 7A, Astra 1KR, EuroBird (Europe), ArabSat, NileSat (Maghreb, Middle-east), NSS7 (bandeC) (Africa). In the United States it will be available on the Comcast network, and over the air into Washington D.C. A variety of government Internet sites such as the Department of State, and international entities will carry the channel’s content. It is not known when it will be available in Canada.

The content sources will be from France 2 and TF1 desks, AFP, RFI and RFO.

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This story incorporates translated text from a story in French Wikinews: “Lancement de la chaîne d’information continue France 24 ce soir” (December 6, 2006) which has a license that is compatible with English Wikinews.
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Australian MPs suggest Australia and New Zealand unification

Filed under: Archived,Australia,New Zealand,Oceania,Politics and conflicts — admin @ 5:00 am

Australian MPs suggest Australia and New Zealand unification

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Wednesday, December 6, 2006

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A committee of Australian MPs have suggested that Australia and New Zealand become a single nation in the future. The suggestion follows an investigation into harmonising the countries’ legal systems.

The two countries are separated by 1900 km (1200 miles) of sea. Australia has a population of 20 million, while New Zealand has a population of 4 million.

Prior to 1901, New Zealand was considered one of the seven British colonies of Australasia, six of which united to form Australia in 1901.

The committee, which had representatives from both sides of Australian politics found that there were close ties between the two countries. People are free to move between the two countries without visas and there is a high-degree of co-operation between governments. The committee’s report said “While New Zealand ultimately chose not to join the federation, it is still included in the definition of the states in the Australian constitution.

“This historical context forms a backdrop to the closeness and breadth of the relationship between Australia and New Zealand today.

“While Australia and New Zealand are, of course, two sovereign nations, it seems to the committee that the strong ties between the two countries – the economic, cultural, migration, defence, governmental, and people to people linkages – suggest that an even closer relationship, including the possibility of union, is both desirable and realistic.”

Chairman of the committee, Peter Slipper said Australia now wished for another committee to be established to look at integration between the two nations in the future. Such a committee would be poised to look at monetary and national union.

The committee acknowledged that despite legal harmonisation being relatively easy, the merger of the two countries could be difficult. “The committee is also mindful that the harmonisation of laws is very much the art of the possible. Thus the merger of Australia and New Zealand or the progression to a unitary system of government in Australia, however desirable, might not be easy to achieve,” the committee’s report said.

The suggestion has received a cold reception in New Zealand. New Zealand’s citizens have regularly rejected suggestions that their country be part of Australia, a sentiment echoed by Prime Minister Helen Clark. Mrs Clark said she had no intention of placing the proposal on the government’s agenda.

“It won’t be on our agenda 105 years later”, she said.

New Zealand’s Foreign Minister, Winston Peters dismissed the proposal calling it a case of “parliamentary adventurism”. He said despite the two countries close relationship, the two countries were too geographically separated. “New Zealand is 1200 miles (1900 km) away from Australia and that’s 1200 reasons why I don’t go along with that committee, nor will New Zealanders,” Mr Peters said.

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Apple launches iTunes in New Zealand

Filed under: Archived,New Zealand — admin @ 5:00 am

Apple launches iTunes in New Zealand – Wikinews, the free news source

Apple launches iTunes in New Zealand

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Wednesday, December 6, 2006

New Zealand
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Screenshot of Apple welcoming New Zealand to its online stores.

Apple Computers announced today that it’s long awaited iTunes store is available to New Zealanders. They also launched the online Apple Store New Zealand which provides Apple products, such as iPods, Mac minis, etc. New Zealand is number 22 on the number of countries who have the iTunes store and the tenth music download store in New Zealand.

The launch means that New Zealanders can now download music to transfer to their iPods, legally. However the music is only available to iPod’s as converting the music to the MP3 standard for other MP3 players is illegal in New Zealand. Some music download sites in New Zealand support MP3 formats, like Digirama which sell their music tracks for $1.75.

The New Zealand iTunes store provides the most digital music tracks in New Zealand at around two million and each song costs NZ$1.79 or a music video costs $3.59 of which there around thousands, an album will usually cost about $17.99 and a game will cost $7.99. The music tracks also include New Zealand artists such as Brooke Fraser, Tim Finn, Fat Freddy’s Drop, etc and also includes international exclusive albums such as Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ben Harper, etc.

Eddy Cue, vice president of Apple, said: “We’re thrilled to bring the iTunes Store and the online Apple Store to our customers in New Zealand just in time for the holidays.”

There were rumours surrounding the launch of a New Zealand iTunes store this week.

The podcast section on iTunes also covers a wide range of podcasts, equalling over 65,000. The New Zealand podcasts include such companies as TVNZ (Television New Zealand), Radio New Zealand and The Voice Booth.

It is commonly believed that the reason the store was halted until now was because Apple has to make separate contracts with each recording company in each country.

iTunes is likely to become the dominant music download store in New Zealand, following the trend of other countries.

The special edition iPod nano has also been released in New Zealand. The special edition is red in colour instead of the normal white and black colours. The special iPod is available only on the online store at the same price as the normal iPod nanos but some of the profit goes to help fight HIV/AIDS in Africa.

Renaissance is New Zealand’s distributor of Apple goods and will still keep its contract despite Renaissance not being directly involved in both of the new online stores. Renaissance said: “New Zealand will now come under Apple’s worldwide pricing model.”

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Texas Tech coach may move to University of Miami

Filed under: Archived,Miami, Florida,North America,Sports,United States — admin @ 5:00 am

Texas Tech coach may move to University of Miami

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Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Texas Tech coach Mike Leach is reportedly interested in taking the vacant head football coaching job at the University of Miami, numerous sources have reported.

As early as Dec. 1, reports were filtering out that Leach was open to discussing the job. Over the weekend, message boards and blogs were openly discussing the possibility that the coach, known for his wide-open offenses while at Tech, will make the jump to the Hurricanes.

Leach, whose Red Red Raiders went 7-5 this season, is slated to coach in the Insight Bowl on Dec. 29.

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Iraq Study Group Report: Iraq could be on a slide towards chaos

Filed under: Archived,Middle East,Politics and conflicts,United States — admin @ 5:00 am

Iraq Study Group Report: Iraq could be on a slide towards chaos

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Wednesday, December 6, 2006

The Iraq Study Group presented its report at 12.00 GMT today. It warns No one can guarantee that any course of action in Iraq at this point will stop sectarian warfare, growing violence, or a slide toward chaos.

The Report opens with plea for open debate and the formation of a consensus in the United States about the policy towards the Middle East.

The Report is highly critical of almost every aspect of the present policy of the Executive towards Iraq and it urges an immediate change of direction. First among its 78 recommendations is that a new diplomatic initiative should be taken before the end of this year to secure Iraq’s borders against hostile interventions and to re-establish diplomatic relations with its neighbors.

The Group points out that it is in the interest of its neighbors, that there should be stability in Iraq. To this end, it proposes the formation of an Iraq International Support Group to include not only those countries, but also key states in the region, the member states of the UN Security Council and other countries such as Germany, Japan and South Korea. The US contribution should be led at least by the Secretary of State or even the President himself. Urgent attention should be directed to establishing Arab-Israeli peace on all fronts.

The Study Group recognizes that the establishment of permanent US military bases in Iraq would be a major impediment to establishing stability in the country. The role of the armed forces should be redefined and between 10,000 and 20,000 troops (compared with 3,000 to 4,000 now) should be deployed to the task of developing the combat capability of Iraq armed forces. The aim should be to withdraw all US combat forces early in 2008.

The Report is critical of the US intelligence services and urges that more resources should be devoted to training those about to serve in the theatre in the language and culture of the region. It asserted that government is still largely ignorant of the insurgency in Iraq or of the role of the militias.

The Group considered, but rejected, options involving the partitioning of Iraq and asserted the importance of creating and maintaining a democratically elected government of Iraq as an independent sovereign state.

Related news item

Kofi Annan: Iraq situation much worse than civil war Wikinews December 4, 2006

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