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December 31, 2007

World\’s oldest orangutan dies

World’s oldest orangutan dies – Wikinews, the free news source

World’s oldest orangutan dies

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Monday, December 31, 2007

Nonja in 2006.
Image: Scotto Bear.

A 55-year-old orangutan named Nonja, who was believed to be the oldest living orangutan in the world both in captivity and the wild, has died at the Miami MetroZoo in Miami, Florida.

“Everybody’s very sad, especially with an animal like an orangutan. You see a lot of yourself in these animals. The great apes are our closest relatives. She was really a grand old dame,” said zoo spokesman Ron Magill.

Nonja, which means ‘girl’ in Dutch, was born in 1952 in Indonesia on the island of Sumatra. She arrived at the Miami MetroZoo in 1983. Her death is believed to have been caused by a small brain tumor or aneurysm which ruptured.

According to the zoo, an orangutan normally only lives about 40-50 years. Orangutans are part of an endangered species and in 2003, only about 7,300 were believed to be left living in the wild.



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Wikinews\’ overview of the year 2007

Wikinews’ overview of the year 2007 – Wikinews, the free news source

Wikinews’ overview of the year 2007

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Monday, December 31, 2007

Wikinews year overview 2007 animated.gif

What would you tell your grandchildren about 2007 if they asked you about it in, let’s say, 20 year’s time? If the answer to a quiz question was 2007, what would the question be? The year that you first signed on to Facebook? The year Britney Spears and Amy Winehouse fell apart? The year author Kurt Vonnegut or mime Marcel Marceau died, both at 84?

Let’s take a look at some of the international stories of 2007. Links to the original Wikinews articles are in bold.

2007: the stories

Flag of Portugal.svg Portugal: Madeleine McCann goes missing

Madeleine McCann (3) disappeared on May 3 in Praia da Luz, Portugal. Initially, a local man called Robert Murat was mentioned as a suspect, although on August 7, Kate and Gerry McCann became suspects based on forensic evidence.

Wildfire photographed overnight in Canyon Country, Santa Clarita, California.
Image: Jeff Turner.

Flag of the United States.svg United States: Virginia Tech shooting, California wildfires

On April 16, 33 dead, 15 injured in Virginia Tech shootings: A single gunman entered the campus and opened fire on students and faculty in two separate incidents, first in the West Ambler Johnston Hall dormitory, then again two hours later at the Norris Hall classroom building, killing 33 people, including himself. It became the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history. The shooter was identified as Cho Seung-Hui, a 23-year old South Korean national. He was studying English and lived on the university campus. Between the two shootings, Cho sent a mail package to NBC News with his manifesto, pictures and videos.

In early September, adventurer Steve Fossett went missing. Fossett reportedly took off in a single engine plane to look for a suitable site in the Nevada playas for his planned land speed record attempt. His former crewmate and rival, Sir Richard Branson remained confident he would be found: “Steve is a tough old boot. I suspect he is waiting by his plane right now for someone to pick him up.”

On October 12, The 2007 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The Nobel committee cited “for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change” as the reasons for awarding the prize.

In late October, 1,000,000 fled their homes in California due to wildfires strengthened by the Santa Ana Winds. A state of emergency was declared by President Bush and California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. At a last-minute FEMA press conference with regards to the wildfires, FEMA employees posed as reporters asking what were regarded as overly friendly questions.

Bills and coins.svgEconomy: Subprime mortgage crisis

Many banks in the USA saw their share prices falling after people were found to be unable to pay back many of their mortgages. The mortgages lent to people who may not be able to afford to pay back their loans are known as subprime mortgages.

This spread across the stock markets internationally and UK bank Northern Rock had thousands of people queuing outside their bank after they borrowed money from the Bank of England, which is known as “the lender of last resort.”

An Iraqi and American soldier conducting a raid in Baghdad. The graffiti on the wall reads “Allah is great”.

Flag of Iraq.svg Iraq: US troop surge

On January 10, 21,500 more troops to bring Operation Law and Order to Baghdad was made public. The U.S. forces began to collaborate more intensely with Iraqi troops.

On February 21, the UK and Denmark announced troop withdrawals from Iraq. “The next chapter in Basra’s history can be written by Iraqis,” said Tony Blair. Following a reduction in violence and troop deaths in the second half of 2007, the U.S. announced troop reductions in November. Meanwhile, Turkey said it would use military action against PKK rebels attacking the country from neighboring Iraq, which the U.S. pledged support for and “hoped to avoid”.

File:Kasparov arrested.jpg
Garry Kasparov gets arrested on May 17, 2007 at the Moscow Airport.
Image: 2007.urtea.

Flag of Russia.svg Russia: Vladimir Putin and Boris Yeltsin

Vladimir Putin was named “man of the year” by Time Magazine. He would finish his 2nd and last term as President in 2008, although he said he would accept to subsequently become Prime Minister. Under Putin, Russia strove to increase its position as a geopolitical superpower, for example by claiming the North Pole. During 2007 former chess grandmaster Gary Kasparov, now a political activist, drew the attention of the international media.

Boris Yeltsin, former president of Russia, died at 76 on April 23. Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin (Russian: Бори́с Никола́евич Е́льцин) was the first President of the Russian Federation from 1991 to 1999. The Yeltsin era was a traumatic period in Russian history— marked by widespread corruption, economic collapse, and enormous political and social problems. Yeltsin maintained a low profile since his resignation, making almost no public statements or appearances. However, on February 1, 2006, Yeltsin celebrated his 75th birthday. He used this occasion as an opportunity to criticize a “monopolistic” United States foreign policy, and to state that Vladimir Putin was the right choice for Russia.

Flag of Afghanistan.svg Afghanistan: opium production, David Hicks

More British troops were sent into Afghanistan, where the war that started after the 9/11 attacks continued with a large number of news events. In late August, it was reported that opium production in Afghanistan reached record highs. Australian David Hicks would become the first Guantánamo Bay prisoner to be sentenced, after which he returned to an Australian prison to serve out his time and was released on December 29.

Flag of France.svg France: Sarko for President

May 6: Sarkozy wins 2007 French Presidential election, defeating Ségolène Royal. Both separated from their partners afterwards. Sarko’s style and self proclaimed openness is proved different from his predecessor Jacques Chirac. His confrontation with the unions came in the second half of November.

On October 30, the French NGO Zoe’s Ark was accused of trying to kidnap hundreds of Chadian children they described as Darfur orphans –Sarkozy travelled to Chad to hold talks with local officials.

Benazir Bhutto.

Flag of Pakistan.svg Pakistan: Bhutto assassinated

After a previous attack in October and house arrest, former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was killed in a suicide attack on 27th December, when an attacker fired 2 gun shots at her then exploded a bomb. This assassination occurred just weeks after Musharraf lifted the state of emergency that he had instated in November in his country. Her son and husband assumed her place at the top of the Pakistan People’s Party.

In March, Musharraf sacked Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, but he was reinstated in July.

Ahmadinejad addresses the University.
Image: Daniella Zalcman.

Flag of Iran.svg Iran: President Ahmadinejad’s controversial rule

On March 23, Iran captured 15 members of the British Navy and held them for alleged espionage. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad pardoned them after 12 days, saying:

Cquote1.svg On the occasion of the birth anniversary of the great prophet of Islam, and on the occasion of Easter and Passover, I would like to announce that the great nation of Iran, while it is entitled to put the British military personnel on trial, has pardoned these 15 sailors and gives their release to the people of Britain as a gift. Cquote2.svg

While the President of Iran was in New York City for the United Nations General Assembly in September, he was invited to a controversial debate at Columbia University. When challenged by the University President about Iran’s treatment of LGBT’s, Ahmadinejad stated that: “In Iran we don’t have homosexuals like in your country,” drawing laughter from the audience. “In Iran we do not have this phenomenon, I don’t know who has told you that we have it.”

The “Protect your Republic” protests.
Image: Miguel Carminati.

Flag of Turkey.svg Turkey: Hrant Dink and Abdullah Gül

On January 19, Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was assassinated in front of the Agos newspaper office where he worked as the editor. Dink was known for writing about the controversial issue of Armenian genocide and the mass killings of Armenians by Turks under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. His assassin was then treated by some Turkish security troops as a “national hero”.

In April and May, several large protests were held across the country by pro-secular Turks, out of fear that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan would run for President, then due to concerns about Presidential Candidate Abdullah Gül, whose wife wears the islamic headscarf. Gül was not appointed in the first parliamentary round, when opposition lawmakers boycotted the vote. The opposition also appealed to the Constitutional Court to declare the process unlawful. General elections followed and Gül became President on August 28.

Monks protesting in Myanmar.
Image: racoles.

Flag of Myanmar.svg Burma: protests

In Myanmar (formerly Burma) government forces arrested hundreds of monks in September after several days of peaceful demonstrations, but despite the violent treatment from military personnel, the monks returned to the streets. Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, had called “the continued detention of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and over one thousand political prisoners” unacceptable. Pro-democracy leaders were arrested and a death toll of more than 1000 was reported. In late October, Myanmar opposition leader and 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi left her house arrest to meet with government official.

Flag of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom: Gordon Brown succeeds Tony Blair, floods, and lost discs

On June 24 this year Gordon Brown took over from Tony Blair as leader of the UK labour party and therefore Prime Minister after a long period of time where reporters were predicting the date of Blair’s departure.

After this the UK was hit by its worst floods in 50 years. In late November, two computer disks were lost containing the entire Child Benefit database, estimated to contain the names, addresses, dates of birth, child benefit and National Insurance numbers, and sometimes the bank or building society account details of 25 million individuals, in what has been described as “one of the world’s biggest ID protection failures”.

Northern Ireland: home rule, end of Troubles

Ian “Dr. No” Paisley and former IRA commander Martin McGuinness agreed to share power and have home rule return to Northern Ireland after four years of central rule from London. “I believe we’re starting on a road which will bring us back to peace and to prosperity,” said Paisley, who took the post of First Minister of Northern Ireland.

Just one day after a car bomb was defused in central London on June 29, a Jeep was driven into the Glasgow International Airport terminal and burst into flames in an unsuccessful terrorist attack. Several people aided the police in detaining the assailants, including baggage handler John Smeaton who received the Queen’s Gallantry Medal for his actions.

Australian-Election-2007.jpg

Flag of Australia.svg Australia: Kevin Rudd

On December 3, Kevin Rudd was sworn in as Prime Minister of Australia after John Howard and the Liberal Party and Coalition were defeated in the election. After the ceremony, Mr. Rudd signed documents to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change calling it the first official act of the new Australian government.

Oxfam protesters dressed as and wearing masks of the G8 leaders.
Image: Craig Owen/Oxfam.

Flag of Germany.svg Germany: G8 summit in Heiligendamm

A post-Kyoto agreement on climate change and combating poverty in Africa were the main topics at the summit of the 7 richest industrialised countries and Russia in Heiligendamm in June.

While France and Germany were calling for quantifiable greenhouse gas emission cuts, the U.S. and Japan believed that growing economies such as India and China would need to join in on such efforts. Advocacy groups were critical about the aid promised to Africa: “Do they think we can’t read or count?” asked musician/activist Bono. “We are looking for accountable language and accountable numbers: we didn’t get them today.”

The G8 Summit was preceded by mass demonstrations, such as the one in Rostock, where several hundred protesters were arrested.

Flag of Finland.svg Finland: Jokela highschool shootings

Eight people were killed in a school shooting in Jokela, Finland. The shooter, an 18-year-old male student named as Pekka-Eric Auvinen, was arrested after a siege situation, but died due to a gunshot wound from an apparent suicide attempt. The killer had uploaded a home-made movie to YouTube announcing the “massacre” one day prior to the shooting. His profile featured several movies regarding an ongoing depression and unsuccessful treatment with SSRIs. Additionally, some movies of him shooting his new gun had been uploaded weeks prior to the shooting. Auvinen also had a personal website which featured images, music and documents, including a manifesto.

After the incident, Finland considered toughening gun legislation. Until then, Finland had actively resisted plans for all European Union member states to limit gun ownership to persons aged 18 and over. The law stipulated that Finns could apply for a gun permit at the age of 15.

Cristina de Kirchner next to Néstor Kirchner celebrating her electoral victory.
Image: Presidencia de la Nación Argentina.

Flag of Argentina.svg Argentina: Kirchner and Kirchner

Cristina Kirchner was the favourite candidate to succeed her husband as President. Néstor Kirchner decided not to run for a second four-year term, without giving an explanation. Mrs Kirchner consistently used her first name during her electoral campaign, which is a similarity to United States presidential candidate Hilary Clinton. However Cristina told the media: “I don’t want to be compared with Hillary Clinton or with Evita Perón, or with anybody… There’s nothing better than being yourself.”

Flag of Indonesia.svg Bali: Climate conference

The two-week long ended with an agreement on the so-called Bali roadmap, which was welcomed with cautious optimism. The roadmap details the process for a post-2012 climate change agreement. European Union Commission President José Manuel Barroso stated: “We have worked hard to achieve this result. It is a very important step forward.” The European Commissioner for Environment made it clear that Bali had only been the start of things: “Now the real hard work must begin. It is essential that the agreement to be worked out over the next two years is ambitious enough to prevent global warming from reaching dangerous levels.”

Flag of Belgium.svg Belgium: long government formation

More than half of the year in Belgium focused on politics, as the general elections on June 10 promised some difficult coalition talks. PM Verhofstadt recognised his defeat by Christian-Democrat Yves Leterme of Flanders, while the liberals broke the socialist hegemony in Wallonia. Orange-blue coalition talks failed to produce a government for 192 days, when it was Verhofstadt who gathered consensus for an interim government.

Earlier in the year, Belgium’s first black city registrar organised a mass wedding against racism that caught international media attention.

Flag of Canada.svg Canada: RCMP under scrutiny

The RCMP, received a negative spotlight in 2007, particularly for their handling of a distraught passenger at Vancouver International Airport in November.

Robert Dziekanski, 40, was immigrating from Pieszyce, Poland to live with his mother, Zofia Cisowski, in Kamloops, British Columbia. Since Dziekanski did not speak English airport security guards were unable to properly communicate with him. He started yelling at the airport staff because of this. He used chairs to prop open a door between a customs clearing area and a public lounge, he then threw a computer and threw a small table at a luggage section window. The police tasered him twice and he died.

Following the shooting deaths, in separate incidents, of two mounties stationed in northern communities, there were calls for policy changes related to how and when individual officers should call for back-up.

Flag of Italy.svgItaly: Pavarotti dies

One of the world’s best-regarded tenor singers, Luciano Pavarotti, died 6th September. His funeral drew thousands including Bono of U2, and fellow tenors Plácido Domingo and José Carreras. Pavarotti succumbed to pancreatic cancer which was diagnosed in July 2006.

Bills and coins.svgEconomy: Apple’s iPhone

In January, Apple announced its iPhone, which hit U.S. markets on July and made customers queue in the U.K. in November. Apple’s decision to lock the phone to use one network exclusively was criticized as “anti-competitive”, and hackers started circumnavigating the restrictions imposed on the phone.

Flag of Europe.svg European Union: Eastern-European expansion and Lisbon Treaty

On January 1, 2007, Slovenia adopted the euro currency, and Romania and Bulgaria joined the European Union. In December, E.U. leaders signed the Treaty of Lisbon, a landmark document which is to redefine foreign policy for the E.U. and creates an E.U. president. The treaty is a replacement for the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe which was abandoned after suffering defeats in referendums in France and the Netherlands. United Kingdom Prime Minister Gordon Brown arrived late and added his signature later.

P sport.png Sports: Formula One spying controversy

Following alleged espionage, McLaren (the team of Fernando Alonso and newcomer Lewis Hamilton) was initially cleared but then in September fined $100 million and excluded from the Constructor’s championship. The highly controversial and enthralling 2007 season came to an when Kimi Räikkönen won the 2007 Championship.


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This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
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Pakistani general election likely to be postponed

Pakistani general election likely to be postponed

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Monday, December 31, 2007

Pakistan
Other stories from Pakistan
…More articles here
Location of Pakistan

A map showing the location of Pakistan

To write, edit, start or view other articles on Pakistan, see the Pakistan Portal
Flag of Pakistan.svg

The electoral commission of Pakistan held a meeting today to decide whether the general election of the country will go ahead as planned next week on Saturday January 8, 2008. A firm decision is expected on Tuesday; however, according to CNN, Election Commission Secretary Kanwar Dilashad told The Associated Press that a recommendation has been made to the Government to delay the election. It has not been stated how long this electoral delay will be, as no new projected date for the election has yet been proposed.

Violent civil unrest has occurred across Pakistan following the assassination of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Benazir Bhutto; although this is now drawing to a close, its impact threatens to jeopardize the general election, combined with the aftermath of the state of emergency only recently lifted by President Pervez Musharraf.

Prior to her death Bhutto had accused Musharraf of attempting to rig the balloting and had called for a boycott. However, leaders of the PPP and other parties sympathizing with Bhutto’s view have now indicated that they will not boycott the election when it is held. It was announced yesterday that nominal control of the PPP will be held by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Mrs. Bhutto’s son; however his father, Asif Ali Zardari, has declared an intention to handle party affairs on behalf of his son, on the grounds that he is still “of a tender age” at 19 years old. Mr. Zardari has stated that the PPP will contest the poll.



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Pakistani general election, 2008
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Netscape navigating the World Wide Web no more

Netscape navigating the World Wide Web no more

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Monday, December 31, 2007

The Wikipedia home page as viewed on a Netscape browser.

AOL has decided to discontinue development of the Netscape web browser which brought surfing the Internet to the masses, until its user base began to erode during the “browser wars” of the mid-1990s and resulted in the birth of Mozilla project.

Tom Drapeau, the director of Netscape inside AOL announced on the Netscape blog that support for the recently released Netscape Navigator 9 and all of Netscape’s browsers back to version 1.0, will end because it was unable to gain market share and a low number of users that continues to dwindle. Drapeau noted, “AOL’s focus on transitioning to an ad-supported web business leaves little room for the size of investment needed to get the Netscape browser to a point many of its fans expect it to be,” and that “the success the Mozilla Foundation has had in developing critically-acclaimed products, we feel it’s the right time to end development of Netscape branded browsers, hand the reins fully to Mozilla and encourage Netscape users to adopt Firefox.”

Netscape’s origins lie at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where Netscape’s co-founders, Marc Andreessen and Eric Bina wrote their first copy of NCSA Mosaic which became the first popular web browser and opened up the web for the first time to the general public and started the rise of the Internet in everyday life.

Andreessen along with Jim Clark, the founder of Silicon Graphics, started the Mosaic Communications Corporation and released their first product Mosaic Netscape 0.9 in October 1994. A month later the company became the name it is today, the Netscape Communications Corporation to avoid legal problems from NCSA. A year later, had a successful IPO on August 9, 1995 and the stock closed the day at $75.

Netscape’s early success and virtual monopoly of the browser market was short-lived however as Microsoft viewed Netscape’s idea of a consistent browser across various operating systems a threat and quickly began development of its own browser, Internet Explorer.

This competition between Netscape and Microsoft became known as the browser wars, where both companies tried to outdo each other with their increasingly unstable browsers including: new features that did not always work, not providing bug fixes, deviating from Web standards (including the infamous blink and marquee HTML tags), program crashes and security holes.

Cquote1.svg …the success the Mozilla Foundation has had in developing critically-acclaimed products, we feel it’s the right time to end development of Netscape branded browsers, hand the reins fully to Mozilla and encourage Netscape users to adopt Firefox. Cquote2.svg

—Tom Drapeau, Netscape Director

By the end of 1997, Netscape’s glory had run out and it experienced it’s first bad quarter, which resulted in layoffs in January 1998. The new year also brought the world with the arrival of what would eventually become Mozilla and later Firefox, when Netscape decided to make the source code for their browser open source. A year later, Netscape was out of steam and was no longer an independent company but now a subsidiary of America Online.

The most recent version of the Netscape browser, Navigator 9, was for the most part was a re-skinned version of Firefox developed internally by a small group of people inside AOL. Netscape’s actual browser development division was closed back in July 2003 and the workers laid off.

However, AOL continues to run Netscape as a brand including a web portal, including a Digg-like social news aggregator which was branded as Netscape.com from June 2006 till September 2007, when it was spun off into a renamed site called Propeller. Netscape.com is now a dually branded AOL Netscape web portal, which is a duplicate of AOL.com. Netscape is also used as a brand by AOL as a low-cost dial-up Internet service provider.

Firefox’s third version is currently available as a beta and Microsoft is expected to release Internet Explorer 8 sometime in 2008.



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Grandfather held in Guantanamo dies of cancer

Grandfather held in Guantanamo dies of cancer

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Monday, December 31, 2007

Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO) reported a fifth Guantanamo captive, named Abdul Razzak, died in captivity, on December 30, 2007.

JTF-GTMO asserted that Razzak had complained of abdominal pains in September 2007, and had begun to receive cancer therapy in late October 2007. JTF-GTMO estimated that he was born in 1939.

According to the JTF-GTMO press release that announced his death:

Abdul Razzak was assessed to be an experienced jihadist with command responsibilities and was assessed to have had multiple links to anti-coalition forces. He was detained in Guantanamo as an enemy combatant, consistent with the international law of Armed Conflict.

Abdul Razzak was one of the few Guantanamo captives who continued to attend his Combatant Status Review Tribunal and his annual Annual Review Board hearings.

Abdul Razzak had disputed all but one of the allegations against him, at each opportunity, and had provided his JTF-GTMO interrogators and the officers who sat on his CSR Tribunal and ARB hearing with easily verifiable corroborated details. At each of his Administrative review the officers were unaware of the exculpatory details he had provided.

The one allegation that Abdul Razzak acknowledged was that he had been subjected to involuntary conscription, and had served the Taliban for three months out of every year for the five years they were in power before he fled Afghanistan. He had, however, not served in the Taliban’s armed forces, but had been a truck driver, delivering non-military supplies.

One of the main allegations against Abdul Razzak was that he had plotted to help free Taliban leaders. Abdul Razzak testified that, on the contrary, two years prior to al Qaeda’s attacks on September 11th, 2001, he and his son had played a key role in a successful plot to free three imprisoned senior Northern Alliance leaders, who he identified as “Ismail Khan, Haji Zahir, son of vice president Haji Qadir and General Qassim.” — Ismail Khan is currently the Minister of Energy.

Abdul Razzak testified that his son, one of the relatively few Afghans who was fluent in English, had been conscripted by the Taliban, so he could provide some computer support. His son had contacted anti-Taliban forces, secured funds to purchase a four-wheel drive vehicle. His son, using the trust the Taliban had placed in him, due to his computer support, had lead the three men out of their imprisonment. Abdul Razzak had driven the four by four. The vehicle was damaged by a land mine. Abdul Razzak’s hand was injured. His son lost a foot. But the Northern Alliance leaders were rescued.

Abdul Razzak testified that when they arrived in Iran the Afghanistan Council paid his living expenses. But, when Hamid Karzai assumed power, following the ouster of the Taliban, he was told that the pension would be discontinued, because Afghanistan now had a democratic government.

Abdul Razzak testified that he then returned to Afghanistan, where he was falsely denounced by a distant cousin named Mohammed Jan. Mohammed Jan’s branch of the family was engaged in a feud with his branch, that had lead to the death of his father, two uncles, and three of his sons.

Abdul Razzak was also accused of being a leader of anti-coalition forces, and of being a member of the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin, an older militia, which was first founded to oppose the regime of Mohammed Daoud Khan, the politician who had ousted Mohammed Zahir Shah, the last King of Afghanistan, in 1973. In 1979 this militia split, and has been lead, since then, by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s militia played a major role in the resistance to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. This militia acquired a reputation for ruthlessness, and disregard for civilian life.

Abdul Razzak testified that his only contact with the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin militia was early in the war against the Soviets. He testified he was imprisoned for four and a half months in an underground pit. They had captured him because he had served as a driver for a member of the communist regime.

American intelligence analysts assert that, when Osama bin Laden was leaving Sudan, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar offered him sanctuary in the areas of Afghanistan under his control.

Although not part of the Northern Alliance the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin militia fought with the Taliban, prior to their ouster. When the USA allied with the Northern Alliance and other resistance forces to oust the Taliban the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin militia fought against the USA. In 2003 the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin formed an alliance with the rump of the Taliban.

Abdul Razzak was also accused of being the Abdul Razak who had been the second in command of the Taliban’s 40-man unit, even though witnesses described Abdul Razak the commander as a much younger man, with a full black beard. Americans held five other men in Guantanamo named Abdul Razak.



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Egyptian woman becomes third to die of bird flu in a week

Egyptian woman becomes third to die of bird flu in a week

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Monday, December 31, 2007

Avian Flu
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Mallard in flight
More information on H5N1:
  • Avian flu
  • H5N1
  • H5N1 genetic structure
  • Transmission and infection of H5N1

A woman in Egypt has died of the H5N1 strain of bird flu. H5N1 has killed two other Egyptian women already this week, bringing the total dead of the virus in Egypt to 18.

Fardous Mahammed Hadad was taken into hospital on Sunday after having difficulty breathing and developing a high fever, and subsequently tested positive for bird flu. She died today, at the age of 36.

As well as Hadad, who was from Menoufia, this week saw the deaths of Fatima Fathi Mohammed from Daqahliya and Ola Youness Mohammed from Beni Suef. They all died from H5N1; Ola Youness Mohammed’s case was Egypt’s first since July. In addition, the World Health Organisation says two further woman are infected without giving any further details; the United Nations health agency says that on December 24 a 50-year-old woman was hospitalised and remains in critical condition, whilst a chicken seller, 22, is recovering from the infection in intensive care.

Egypt’s Ministry of Health has recorded a total of 42 confirmed cases of H5N1 infection, including the 18 fatal cases. Most of the cases, including the latest death, were females who had daily contact with chickens or turkeys, most keeping the animals in their back yards. Egypt’s first case of bird flu was in February 2006.

Bird flu began in Asia in 2003, and since then has spread across 45 countries worldwide, killed at least 212 people of 340 infections and triggered the killing of millions of birds. Egypt is one of the worst-hit non-Asian countries, due in part to a combination of its location along the paths taken by many migratory birds and the fact that many people keep fowl close to their homes. It is feared that if the virus mutates into a form that can be easily transferred from human to human the result could be a global pandemic causing millions of deaths.



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Sperm whale stranded off coast of Florida in the US

Sperm whale stranded off coast of Florida in the US

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Monday, December 31, 2007

Officials and biologists for several federal state and local agencies including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Mote Marine Laboratory are currently observing a 30 foot Sperm whale off Florida’s west coast that may be stranded. It was first spotted by a fisherman.

For a while on Sunday, the whale, which is believed to be juvenile, was stuck on a sandbar near the city of St. Petersburg. Currently it is swimming in just nine feet of water less than half a mile off shore and officials are determining how to proceed with the situation. Its sex has not yet been determined.

“They’re assessing the situation to decide what they need to do. A sheriff’s office boat is there to keep the interested public at an appropriate, safe distance. We don’t want anybody to get hurt, and we don’t want to stress the whale any more than it is,” said spokeswoman for Mote, Nadine Slimak.

It is rare for a Sperm whale to come to shore. In the past 10 years, two dead whales washed up on the western shores of Florida. In 2003 a live whale had to be put to sleep after researchers determined it was ill and came ashore to die.

Sperm whales are the most common of all the whales in the Gulf of Mexico.



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Sara Jane Moore, who tried to assassinate Gerald Ford, out of jail

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

Sara Jane Moore, who tried to assassinate Gerald Ford, out of jail

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Monday, December 31, 2007

Sara Jane Moore, 77, who tried to assassinate Former United States President Gerald Ford in 1975 was paroled from prison in California this afternoon.

Moore tried to assassinate Ford outside of the St. Francis Hotel in downtown San Francisco on January 15, by firing one shot, which missed because a bystander grabbed Moore’s arms just seconds before she fired the gun. The bullet missed hitting Ford in the head by inches.

It is not yet known why she was released or what the conditions of her release were.

In 2006, Ford died from natural causes. He was 93.

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World’s oldest orangutan dies

Filed under: Archived,Florida,Obituaries,United States,World records — admin @ 5:00 am

Monday, December 31, 2007

Nonja in 2006.
Image: Scotto Bear.

A 55-year-old orangutan named Nonja, who was believed to be the oldest living orangutan in the world both in captivity and the wild, has died at the Miami MetroZoo in Miami, Florida.

“Everybody’s very sad, especially with an animal like an orangutan. You see a lot of yourself in these animals. The great apes are our closest relatives. She was really a grand old dame,” said zoo spokesman Ron Magill.

Nonja, which means ‘girl’ in Dutch, was born in 1952 in Indonesia on the island of Sumatra. She arrived at the Miami MetroZoo in 1983. Her death is believed to have been caused by a small brain tumor or aneurysm which ruptured.

According to the zoo, an orangutan normally only lives about 40-50 years. Orangutans are part of an endangered species and in 2003, only about 7,300 were believed to be left living in the wild.


Sources

  • “World’s oldest Sumatran orangutan dies in Miami”. Reuters, December 31, 2007
  • “55-Year-Old Orangutan Dies in Miami Zoo”. Associated Press, December 30, 2007


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Moldovan government proposes awareness-raising strategy on EU integration

Moldovan government proposes awareness-raising strategy on EU integration

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Monday, December 31, 2007

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This week the government of Moldova approved an awareness-raising strategy on Moldova’s integration into the European Union.

The strategy was proposed to the Government by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration; the Ministry has argued that Moldova’s citizens must be educated about the impact of the forthcoming European integration.

The draft strategy document states that Moldova does not currently have any organised system for distributing information about the European Union to its populace, and that the Government has failed to perform any targeting of information to specific demographic groups. Taking into consideration the priority placed on EU integration by the current government of Moldova, the strategy document suggests methods to improve the situation and proposes a mechanism to enable the Moldovan public to participate actively in the European integration process. It is intended that an integrated system for providing information on EU integration will provided by the Government as a result of this draft.

The new information provisions will include such projects relating to EU – Moldovan cooperation such as information centers, a free-of-charge phone line, a website, information bulletins, improvement of information held in public libraries, etc. The strategy also proposes the instruction of journalists, press officers, and functionaries working in the local public administration on the topic of EU integration.

Public tender will be invited to select the businesses that will supply key components of these projects, as the government lacks the resources needed to fully finance the implementation of the strategy from the current budget. The strategy was planned with the support of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Eurasia Foundation.

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