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June 13, 2007

Woman disclosed by newspaper in sex tape commits suicide

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

Woman disclosed by newspaper in sex tape commits suicide

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Debbie Gerbich, who was involved in consensual group sex sessions with former and serving New Zealand police officers in 2001, committed suicide on June 6, 2007. One of those former police officers on a videotape made during the group sex sessions was convicted of rape but acquitted in two high profile trials dating back to historic sex allegations involving police officers serving in Rotorua in the 1980s.

The New Zealand Herald revealed the identity of Mrs Gerbich on Sunday 31 March after she gave a rival newspaper access to the videotape made in 2001. The Sunday News had published information revealing the existence of the videotape but did not reveal her identity. Mrs Gerbich was reported by the Sunday News to have been devastated after her name was subsequently published by the New Zealand Herald. Mrs Gerbich claimed to have received intimidating emails from New Zealand Herald journalist Steven Cook after she refused to speak with them. Two emails sent from Steven Cooks email account were presented and read out to a reporter on the New Zealand current affairs program Close Up, one of them stated;

Quote

“We can play this one of two ways; either with your co-operation or without. We have made enquiries today into your background and have turned up several interesting leads. And I suggest it’s in your interests to discuss those with me.” “If you think you can continue to hide in the shadows, you’re sadly mistaken.”

It is not known how exactly the New Zealand Herald learned her identity and that she was being interviewed as part of police operation Austin investigating the historic sex allegations.

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Wikinews Shorts: June 13, 2007

Wikinews Shorts: June 13, 2007 – Wikinews, the free news source

Wikinews Shorts: June 13, 2007

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A compilation of brief news reports for Wednesday, June 13, 2007.

Imelda Marcos aquitted of tax evasion

Imelda Marcos

Former Philippines first lady Imelda Marcos has been acquitted, due to lack of evidence, of tax evasion charges that date back to the 1980s.

The complaint said Marcos failed to pay 33.734 million Philippine pesos for earning 192.08 million pesos in 1985 and 5.736 million pesos for the Marcos estate in 1989. Without accounting for inflation, the amount tax officials said was owed totals around US$845,000. The case was filed in 1991.

“I thank the Lord that justice for the Marcoses has prevailed,” Marcos was quoted as saying outside the courthouse in Quezon City. “You can be sure that this will be followed by justice for the Filipino people.’’

Sources


Billions of baht missing from Thaksin accounts, Thai officials say

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Thai baht coins and banknotes.

Thailand’s embattled former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra had his assets in Thailand ordered frozen on Monday, but today banking officials are having trouble locating some of it.

The Assets Examination Committee ordered 52.8 billion baht (about US$1.5 billion) in 21 accounts seized, but only 43 billion baht has been found.

According to the Bank of Thailand, more than 8 billion baht was withdrawn between June 4 and Monday, with about 5.6 billion baht withdrawn in the name of Thaksin’s brother-in-law, Bhanapot Damapong.

Related

  • “Wikinews Shorts: June 12, 2007#Thai junta says Thaksin can come home” — Wikinews, June 12, 2007
  • “Ex-Thai PM Thaksin’s assets are frozen” — Wikinews, June 11, 2007

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Television\’s \’Mr. Wizard\’ Don Herbert dies at 89

Television’s ‘Mr. Wizard’ Don Herbert dies at 89

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Don Herbert, known to many as his stage name “Mr. Wizard”, died Tuesday night. Mr. Wizard, who is famous for introducing science to children for over 50 years, died of bone cancer at the age of 89 at his Bell Canyon home in Los Angeles.

Cquote1.svg Using everyday equipment made it something that children should not be afraid of. If you used scientific equipment that’s strange to the child, it’s not going to help him or her understand. Cquote2.svg

—Don Herbert (Mr. Wizard), Interview on Voice of America’s Our World

Mr. Wizard was the host of the program Watch Mr. Wizard in the 1950s and 60s, and later Mr. Wizard’s World in the 80s. His children-themed shows gave viewers a glimpse into the science world by performing experiments with common household objects. Herbert said in an interview on Voice of America’s Our World, a science and technology program, that “Using everyday equipment made it something that children should not be afraid of. If you used scientific equipment that’s strange to the child, it’s not going to help him or her understand. So we used everyday equipment. And especially because we used everyday equipment in new and unusual ways, which helped.” Generations of young scientists tuned in each week to learn about scientific principles and follow along with Mr. Wizard by conducting the same experiments at home.

Herbert, who was born in Waconia, Minnesota, attended the University of Wisconsin in La Crosse. After graduating with degrees in English and general science, he joined the US Army Air Corps, and served in World War II as a bomber pilot in Europe. Post-war, he worked as an actor before becoming the host of Watch Mr. Wizard in 1951. The program ran for nearly 15 years on NBC and CBC.

In 1983, the show’s format was revived with Mr. Wizard’s World, which aired on the Nickelodeon cable network for 7 years. He also appeared on the talk shows of David Letterman (including the premiere episode of Late Night with David Letterman), Johnny Carson, and Regis Philbin, as well as staring as a panelist on the game show Hollywood Squares 5 times in 1986.

Herbert is survived by his wife and six children and step-children.

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Proposed New Zealand Day opposed in Parliament

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Proposed New Zealand Day opposed in Parliament

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

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The New Zealand Day bill has been opposed 117 votes to two in Parliament tonight. The bill would have replaced New Zealand’s founding day, Waitangi Day with New Zealand Day.

Cquote1.svg The timing is right for New Zealand to actively and positively advance our national identity – starting with a new national day. Cquote2.svg

—Peter Dunne

Waitangi day is on February 6 each year and celebrates the signing of New Zealand’s founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi (Te Tiriti o Waitangi).

The Select Committee that reviewed this bill on February 23 recommended that the bill was not passed. The vote tonight was a formality. They stated that the bill would have created disharmony within society.

Peter Dunne’s United Future party lead the bill by Judy Turner and were the only votes tonight.

Peter Dunne said that a New Zealand Day would not encourage racism unlike Waitangi Day.

Dunne is now drafting up a new bill that would retain Waitangi Day, but either change Queen’s Birthday or start Dominion Day back up.

Related news

  • “New Zealand’s “Waitangi” holiday to stay” — Wikinews, February 23, 2007
  • “Waitangi day or New Zealand day? United Future calls for a change” — Wikinews, January 28, 2007

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Not enough names to go around in China, ministry says

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Not enough names to go around in China, ministry says

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Chinese singer and actress Faye Wong, also known as Wang Fēi, is among the 93 million people in China with the surname Wang.

Some Chinese children.

There are too many people named Wang in China – around 93 million. Also, there are too many with the name Li, about 92 million, and 88 million people named Zhang.

For 85 percent of the population of 1.3 billion in China, there are just 100 surnames, the Ministry of Public Security says, and, according to a report in yesterday’s China Daily, that’s not nearly enough.

The dearth of surnames creates too much confusion and problems in daily life, leading to many cases of mistaken identity, officials say.

The solution, the ministry says, is combined surnames, which it is proposing in a draft regulation. For example, the China Daily said, if a father’s family name is Zhou, and the mother’s is Zhu, their son or daughter could have four options for a new surname, Zhou, Zhu, Zhouzhu or Zhuzhou.

The move could make for up to 1.28 million new surnames, said Guan Xihua, a household registration officer with the Beijing public security bureau.

In addition to the popular Wangs, Lis and Zhangs, there are around 20 million each of people named Chen, Zhou and Lin, according to the ministry.

Combine these family names with popular given names, and the result is 100,000 people with the name Wang Tao, according to the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Du Ruofu, a retired researcher on Chinese surnames from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told the China Daily that the hybrid surnames are already popular with young couples, even though they are not strictly allowed.

China’s Marriage Law says that a newborn can have the surname of either the father or the mother, but does not yet mention a combined surname.

The combined surname would also promote gender equality, Du said. Additionally, Du said people from ethnic minority groups should be encouraged to use traditional surnames, instead of adopting Han Chinese names, which dilutes cultural heritage and diversity.

The ministry’s draft regulation allows ethnic minority letters or characters, but bans any foreign letters, self-made characters, pinyin, numerals or the complex form of simplified Chinese characters.

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NASCAR\’s Earnhardt Jr Signs 5-year Contract with Hendrick Motorsports

Filed under: Archived,Auto racing,NASCAR,Sports — admin @ 5:00 am

NASCAR’s Earnhardt Jr Signs 5-year Contract with Hendrick Motorsports

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced today that he will drive for Hendrick Motorsports in the 2008 NASCAR season, ending a month-long stint as a free agent. Earnhardt will replace Kyle Busch in the team.

However, whether his symbolic number 8 or longtime sponsor Budweiser will move as part of the deal is yet to be firmed up, Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick said at the Mooresville, N.C., press conference where the announcement was made.

“None of that’s in place yet,” he said.

Earnhardt’s contract with Hendrick is set for five years — until 2012.

Hendrick indicated that sponsorship deals for Earnhardt’s ride are currently in discussion, but nothing is finalized.

“As far as the sponsorships, we haven’t even begun to work around that,” Earnhardt said.

Earnhardt’s longtime sponsor, Budweiser, previously was with Hendrick Motorsports from 1995 to 1999.

Racing in the number 8 car, part of Earnhardt’s symbolic image, is still an unknown. The number is currently owned by Dale Earnhardt, Inc., the team Earnhardt is leaving.

“I’d like to be number 8, but I’d have to talk to Teresa [Earnhardt] about that,” Earnhardt said.

For the 2004 Daytona 500 winner, relations at his team, Dale Earnhardt Inc., became strained during the past two seasons. Earnhardt, racing for a team set up by his late father — seven-time NASCAR champion Dale Earnhardt — has little control over the team, which is owned by his step-mother. Souring relations affected the decision to leave, Earnhardt said.

“For me personally, it had a huge impact on my decision. A lot of people don’t know a lot of the inside relationships in the garage,” and he had to think about his situation during that time. Earnhardt credited Rick Hendrick as one of the people he could go to for these decisions.

With Earnhardt entering the team, it also was announced Kyle Busch would be leaving at the end of the year, Hendrick confirmed.

“Kyle Busch and I, we have been negotiating an extension on his contract … and it became obvious to me other people were talking to Kyle at the time.” During the weekend of the Coca-Cola 600, “it became obvious to both of us that maybe a fresh start would be good for both of us,” Hendrick said. However, he waved off suggestions from the press that Busch would leave early during the season.

“His goal is to finish this year with that car in first place,” Hendrick said, noting that Busch is currently in the top ten in points.

Earnhardt’s move to Hendrick puts the son of Dale Earnhardt, Sr. at the same team as his 1990s championship rival, Jeff Gordon. It also gives the team a powerhouse stable of drivers that includes championship winners Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson.

Earnhardt, Jr. is currently 14th in the NEXTEL Cup championship. Earnhardt entered the NEXTEL Cup series in 2000.

Hendrick Motorsports, which owns the #5, #24, #25 and #48 cars in the premier level of NASCAR, has won six NASCAR NEXTEL championships in its 23-year history.

Sources

All quotes and most information: Live press conference, as shown uninterrupted on Speed Channel TV, 13 June 2007

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Mars was once covered by oceans, study says

Mars was once covered by oceans, study says

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

University of California, Berkeley scientists have published a report in Nature that says Mars was once covered by massive oceans.

In the 1980’s the Viking spacecraft sent back images to NASA that had shown thousands of kilometers of ancient shorelines, known as Arabia and Deuteronilus, on the north and south poles of Mars, but the Mars Global Surveyor got a closer look of the shorelines and photographed a 300 meter length of the two shorelines in the 1990’s. Those images had shown that the alleged shorelines were too warped and rugged to have been created by water or an ocean.

But the new study now shows that due to a tilting in the axis of Mars by nearly 3,000 kilometers over a period of 2 or 3 billion years, the shorelines might actually have to be more rugged as the water settled, creating land formations that would rise and fall during this process.

“When the spin axis moves relative to the surface, the surface deforms, and that is recorded in the shoreline,”said Michael Manga, a UC Professor and a co-author of the study.

“On planets like Mars and Earth that have an outer shell, or lithosphere, that behaves elastically, the solid surface will deform differently than the sea surface, creating a non-uniform change in the topography,” said Taylor Perron the primary author of the study and who is now attending classes Harvard University’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences to receive his postdoctoral degree.

Mars is said to have an elastic crust and the study shows why the shorelines vary so much in elevation with Arabia at 2.5 kilometers and Deuteronilus at 0.7 kilometers.

“This is a beautiful result that Taylor got. The mere fact that you can explain a good fraction of the information about the shorelines with such a simple model is just amazing. It’s something I never would have guessed at the outset. This really confirms that there was an ocean on Mars,” said Mark Richards, a professor at UC Berkley of earth and planetary science and study co-author.

The study says that as little as a 50 degree shift in the Martian axis, could cause a significant change in the elevation of the shorelines of Arabia, as much as 3,000 k.m.. As little as a 20 degree shift could do the same with Deuteronilus, but with a 700 k.m. change in the shoreline elevation.

It is estimated that the shorelines on Mars were created between 2 and 4 billion years ago.

Sources

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Large earthquake strikes off Guatemala\’s Pacific coast

Filed under: Archived,Disasters and accidents,Earthquakes,Guatemala — admin @ 5:00 am

Large earthquake strikes off Guatemala’s Pacific coast

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Shake map showing epicenter and quake intensity.

At 19:29:46 UTC (2:29:46 local time), an earthquake estimated by the United States Geological Survey at a magnitude of 6.8 struck just off the Pacific coast of Guatemala, approximately 115 km (70 miles) south-southwest of Guatemala City. The USGS estimates the depth at 64.8 km (40.3 miles).

“It has not caused any damage, there is no damage reported,” said emergency services spokesman for Guatemala’s emergency response team, Benedicto Giron.

Despite the claims of no damage, the swaying of buildings, damages to houses, collapsing buildings and mudslides are being reported in Guatemala. Buildings also swayed in El Salvador. There are no reports of injures or deaths, but the USGS reports that damage in the area could be moderate to heavy.

“[There are] no reports of damage or casualties at this time; however, this earthquake may have caused damage due to its location and size,” said a statement posted on the USGS website.

A Red Cross spokesman in El Salvador, Carlos Lopez says that there are no reports of damage or injuries in El Salvador.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a bulletin stating that there was little risk of a tsunami; the bulletin listed the magnitude of the earthquake at 7.0.

“The earthquake was too deep to generate a tsunami hazard. We don’t think there is going to be a dangerous Pacific-wide tsunami but we will monitor the situation,” said spokesman for the NOAA Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, David Walsh.

On June 8, a magnitude 5.8 earthquake struck off the coast of Guatemala in the same region 100 km (60 miles) south-southwest of Guatemala City.

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Judges agree on rules for Khmer Rouge tribunal

Judges agree on rules for Khmer Rouge tribunal

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A map of Cambodia, made of skulls, at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in 1997 in Phnom Penh.

After months of infighting, rules governing the proceedings of the first-ever trial of leaders of the genocidal Khmer Rouge in Cambodia have been unanimously agreed upon by Cambodian and international judges in Phnom Penh.

“These rules will ensure us fair and transparent trials,” co-prosecutor Robert Petit told reporters. “Now that the rules are adopted, we can move forward.”

Backed by the United Nations with a budget of US$56 million, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia was expected to start this year. But since being sworn in last July, the panel of foreign and Cambodian jurists have disputed the rules that govern the court, which stipulate such details as lawyer’s fees and the height of the judge’s chairs. The court is expected to start holding hearings next year and last for three years.

One of the key issues holding up the trial was the insistence of the Cambodian Bar Association that foreign lawyers in the trial pay a fee of $2,700. International judges disputed the fee, which they said was too high and would place an undue burden on volunteer defense lawyers. As a compromise, the fee has been lowered to $500.

The Khmer Rouge, a Maoist communist regime, ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. Led by Pol Pot, the regime’s plan was to redevelop Cambodia into an agrarian utopia that had no money, religion, schools or social classes. As many as 2 million people died of starvation or overwork in labor collectives and in genocidal purges.

Pol Pot died in 1998, but two other high-ranking Khmer Rouge officials, Khieu Samphan and Ieng Sary, are still alive and living freely in Cambodia. Both men, as are many other Khmer Rouge leaders, are old and suffering from health problems. Another leader, the military commander Ta Mok, died last year while in prison. One other leader, Khang Khek Ieu, the administrator of the Tuol Sleng torture center, is in prison awaiting trial.

Many members of the current government of Cambodia are former Khmer Rouge, including Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Critics of the trial say the $56 million pricetag is too much.

Among the critics is John Gunther Dean, who was U.S. ambassador to Cambodia when Phnom Penh fell to the Khmer Rogue in 1975.

“I think the $56 million which has been collected to convict half a dozen people, would it not be much better to use that to build some hospitals under the name of ‘Lest We Forget?'” he said in a recent interview with Voice of America.

Youk Chhang, director of the non-profit Documentation Center Cambodia, which collects and archives Khmer Rouge records, said the money for the trial has come from voluntary donations, and does not take funds away from such things as building schools or hospitals, and will help Cambodia rebuild its rule of law.

Related news

  • “Khmer Rouge “Butcher” dies ahead of trial” — Wikinews, July 21, 2006

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Indonesia arrests Jemaah Islamiyah leader

Indonesia arrests Jemaah Islamiyah leader

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

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Map of Java and Bali by Pieter van der Aa in 1720.

Police in Indonesia say they have arrested Abu Dujana on Saturday on the island of Java. Dujana is alleged to be the military leader of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) which stands accused of a number of attacks, including the 2002 Bali bombings.

The 38-year-old Dujana was Indonesia’s most wanted fugitive. Police say it took days to identify him because of his many aliases. DNA and fingerprinting were both used to make the final confirmation.

“With this arrest we have successfully stopped acts of terrorism in the future,” said police spokesperson Sisno Adiwinoto. “He was a key figure in the terrorist network in Indonesia.”

Adiwinoto described Dujana as a field commander, a strategic planner and a bomb expert. “He was involved generally in the first Bali bombing, Poso and others.” said the police spokesman.

Dujana is likely to be charged under anti-terrorism laws, and as such, could face the death penalty.

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