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March 27, 2008

Wikinews Shorts: March 27, 2008

Wikinews Shorts: March 27, 2008 – Wikinews, the free news source

Wikinews Shorts: March 27, 2008

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A compilation of brief news reports for Thursday, March 27, 2008.

Argentina farmers strike enters third week

The farmers strike in Argentina has entered its third week. The strike is protesting against higher taxes on soybeans and various other exports. As a result, grain exports from Argentina, an agricultural powerhouse, is affecting importers in Europe and China. It has become a major crisis for President Cristina Fernández.

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US President George Bush discusses \’war on terror\’

Filed under: United States — admin @ 5:00 am

US President George Bush discusses ‘war on terror’

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

George Bush before the speech

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The President of the United States, George W. Bush, today discussed the “global war on terror,” at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. In the speech Mr. Bush discussed the surge in Iraq. He said, “Over the past year, we [the US government] have seen significant security gains result from the surge.”

Bush also claimed that the United States had achieved many things in Iraq. He stated that “the military achievements in Iraq have been accompanied by a political transformation. It can feel like distant history, but it was only five years ago that Iraq was one of the most brutal dictatorships on Earth – a totalitarian nightmare where any election was a sham, and dissenters often found themselves buried in mass graves. In a matter of 15 months, the Iraqi people reclaimed their sovereignty. They went on to choose an interim government, and to ratify the most democratic constitution in the Arab world. And in December 2005, 12 million Iraqis elected a government under that constitution – a display of courage that defied the terrorists, disproved the critics, and should always inspire the world.”

He continued, saying that, “Tragically, the [democratic] progress [in Iraq] threatened to unravel in 2006. The new government Iraqis elected took months to form. In the meantime, a terrorist attack on a Shia shrine in Samarra drove sectarian tensions past the breaking point. Sunni extremists, including al Qaeda terrorists, and Shia extremists, some backed by Iran, slaughtered innocent Iraqis in brutal attacks and reprisal killings. And across the country, political and economic activity was set back.”

President Bush did, however, say that the US coped well with the situation in Iraq. “We took a hard look at the situation, and responded with the surge. This dramatic shift in policy had two primary goals. The first was to improve security conditions. So I ordered 30,000 additional soldiers and Marines into Iraq, and gave them a new mission, to focus on protecting the Iraqi people, and to hold the gains that had been made,” he said.

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U.S. accidentally delivered nuclear missile components to Taiwan

U.S. accidentally delivered nuclear missile components to Taiwan

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Test launch of an LGM-30 Minuteman at the Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The Pentagon made a public statement on Tuesday saying that four ICBM detonation fuses were accidentally delivered to Taiwan by the United States military back in 2006.

According to the Pentagon’s official statement, the Taiwanese government had purchased helicopter batteries from the U.S, but instead received four nose cone fuses by accident in the autumn of 2006. The U.S. government was notified of the mistake by Taiwanese officials earlier in 2008, and the full extent of the mistake was finally realized last week.

On Tuesday, the fuses were returned to the United States, and an investigation was launched to determine the cause of the accidental shipment. A U.S. government official cited an error in labeling as a possible cause of the incident.

Taiwan has disputed parts of the Pentagon’s claim. While the Pentagon stated that Taiwan only alerted the U.S. of the error recently, a spokesperson for the Taiwanese military argued that the United States military was notified by Taiwanese officials immediately after the delivery of the fuses. The U.S. responded by saying it was informed of the mistake, but was not told that Taiwan received the nose cone fuses and was therefore not aware of the full extent of the situation.

China has issued a statement in response to the incident, criticizing the U.S. for its negligence and demanding for the cessation of arms sales to Taiwan.

The accidentally-delivered nose cone fuses are designed to be employed in the LGM-30 Minuteman, an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.



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Teräsbetoni\’s \’Myrskyntuoja\’ tops Finnish album chart

Teräsbetoni’s ‘Myrskyntuoja’ tops Finnish album chart

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Teräsbetoni performing at Germany’s Wacken Open Air in 2005

Myrskyntuoja, the third album from Finnish heavy metal band Teräsbetoni, has topped the charts in the Nordic country. The album was produced by the famed Hiili Hiilesmaa, whose past credits include HIM, Apocalyptica, The 69 Eyes and Lordi.

Both of Teräsbetoni’s previous albums reached number two, making this their first number one album.

The lead single from the album, Missä Miehet Ratsastaa, is Finland’s entry at the 2008 instalment of the annual Eurovision Song Contest. The song reached number two on the Finnish singles chart and is currently number four.

Missä Miehet Ratsastaa will be performed at the Eurovision semi-final on May 20. If enough other nations vote for the entry, it will proceed to the final in Belgrade, Serbia.


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Space Shuttle Endeavour completes STS-123 mission

Space Shuttle Endeavour completes STS-123 mission

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Endeavour rolls out after landing

The Space Shuttle Endeavour landed on runway 15 at the Kennedy Space Center’s Shuttle Landing Facility in Florida at 00:39 GMT this morning. Endeavour’s landing marks the completion of the STS-123 mission, which saw two new components installed aboard the International Space Station during a 15 day, 18 hour, 10 minute and 54 second mission. Endeavour had travelled 6,758,000 miles, and orbited the Earth 250 times.

During the mission the JEM ELM-PS module was installed, and the Dextre robotic arm component was assembled during a series of spacewalks. Dextre was delivered to the Station aboard a Spacelab pallet. This British-built component, which was first flown aboard the Space Shuttle in the early-mid 1980s as part of the European Spacelab programme, was making its final flight. It was returned to Earth by Endeavour.

Landing aboard Endeavour were astronauts Dominic Gorie, Gregory H. Johnson, Robert L. Behnken, Michael Foreman, Richard M. Linnehan, Takao Doi and Expedition 16 crewmember Léopold Eyharts. The landing was waved off on the first attempt due to overcast skies at the landing site. This resulted in a 90 minute delay to landing.

Main gear touchdown occurred at 00:39:08 GMT, followed nine seconds later by nose gear touchdown. Wheels-stop occurred at 00:40:41.

This mission was the 21st for Endeavour, the 122nd Space Shuttle mission, and the 25th and longest Shuttle mission to the ISS. The next Shuttle mission is STS-124, which will be flown by Discovery. This is currently scheduled to launch in late May. Before this, Soyuz TMA-12 will be launched, in early April, with the Space Station’s Expedition 17 crew, and Yi So-yeon, who will become the first South Korean in space. Endeavour’s next mission, STS-126, is planned for October.



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South Park episodes available free online

South Park episodes available free online

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Trey Parker in 2007.
Image: ensceptico.

Episodes of the Colorado-based cartoon comedy television series South Park have been made available for free via streaming video on the website SouthParkStudios.com. Full-length episodes from the past 12 seasons of South Park can be seen on the site, as well as behind-the-scenes clips and information on upcoming episodes.

After new episodes of the program air on Comedy Central they will be added to the site for one week, but will then be unavailable for the next 30 days before being added to the site’s archives, due to contractual obligations. SouthParkStudios.com was relaunched with free streaming episodes on March 19, and as of Comedy Central’s announcement Tuesday the site had three million hits, two million video plays and one million full-episode streams. 168 of the series’ 169 episodes are currently available on the site.

The site is currently in a beta format and is ad supported, but visitors can watch an unlimited number of episodes. Streaming episodes are uncensored, and each episode will have between three and four advertisements. The website also has news, games, blogs and a feature where users can create South Park avatar characters in their likeness. Fans can also choose from 3,000 episode clips from the show to embed on their blogs or websites. The website was created by WPP agency Schematic, with Toyota and Virgin as launch sponsors.

Matt Stone in 2007.
Image: ensceptico.

SouthParkStudios.com launched this past summer with games and other media content, in a deal between South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker where their contract with Comedy Central was extended for three years and the cable television channel agreed to split online ad revenue 50-50. Matt Stone commented on the three-year contract to produce more episodes of the series: “Three more years of South Park will give us the opportunity to offend that many more people … And since Trey and I are in charge of the digital side of South Park, we can offend people on their cellphones, game consoles, and computers too. It’s all very exciting for us.”

Cquote1.svg We got really sick of having to download our own show illegally all the time, so we gave ourselves a legal alternative. Cquote2.svg

—Matt Stone and Trey Parker

Parker and Stone released a statement about the website: “We got really sick of having to download our own show illegally all the time, so we gave ourselves a legal alternative.” Parker and Stone don’t think that the move will affect DVD sales of past seasons, because fans will still want to own episodes in a “hard copy” format.

The website is managed by South Park Digital Studios LLC, a joint venture of Parker and Stone and Comedy Central. Anne Garefino, general manager of South Park Digital Studios stated: “One goal in moving forward is to make every episode of South Park available worldwide … Currently, full episodes are not available in the U.K., Australia and a few other foreign territories, but we’re not far off from making that happen. We have some contractual issues to sift through but we’re getting there.”

On the move to make the episodes available for free, Sam Thielman of Variety wrote: “It’s a good time for Parker and Stone to distance themselves from the YouTube community given Comedy Central parent Viacom’s protracted lawsuit against the Web-based video distrib, which features clips from the show.” Viacom is suing YouTube for US$1 billion in damages relating to video clips displayed on the video-sharing website. Richard Menta of MP3 Newswire wrote: “With all their content already out there Stone, Parker and Viacom realized offering South Park episodes online directly is a low risk proposition. They might as well draw some ad revenue from it.”



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Ryanair executives pay frozen over increased fuel prices

Ryanair executives pay frozen over increased fuel prices

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Company Boeing 737-800 at Bristol International Airport, Bristol, England, United Kingdom

Thirty-eight members of the senior management of Irish airline Ryanair, including chief executive Michael O’Leary, have seen their pay frozen in light of the increasing price of fuel, driven by rising oil prices.

O’Leary, who owns 4.2% of the airline and earned €992,000 (£780,000) last year including €565,000 basic pay, said “I think it’s inappropriate for managers to be awarding themselves pay increases if profits are falling,” and that pay would only be unfrozen if oil significantly decreased in price and “we can see some prospect of profits being increased.”

Ryanair has currently hedged oil prices at US$68 per barrel, but this is set to expire, leaving the no-frills airline paying full market prices. “Our hedging finishes next week and we go from about $70 to about $100. Next year’s fuel bill is going up by €400m. We only have around 10% hedged in the high $70s for next year and I wouldn’t be hedging now. We’ll take our chances in the markets,” explained O’Leary.

UBS analyst Tim Marshall estimates Ryanair’s fuel bill is set to increase €732m this financial year to €1.01bn. UBS predicts a profit of €485m for this year, but O’Leary says profits could be down to €235m between now and March 2009, dependent on “oil prices and average fares”. In light of the news, shares in Ryanair fell 2¾ cents to €2.96½ each.

Ryanair is trying hard to reduce costs, O’Leary saying they were “renegotiating airport contracts, handling contracts, maintenance contracts. We [Ryanair] want to reduce costs in every area of our operation.” He said prices for passengers are set to go up, as “bag charges will keep going up until we can persuade half of our passengers to travel without checked-in luggage so we can get our handling charges down”. At present, around 40% do this.

He said that to fill an extra 30% of seats the airline will keep fares relatively low. “We won’t have to cut the fares like hell but they are not going to go up… More will fly with Ryanair than British Airways, Air France and all the other high-priced airlines.”



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National Hockey League news: March 27, 2008

National Hockey League news: March 27, 2008

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

There were 4 games played in the National Hockey League on March 26, 2008.

Game summaries

Chicago Blackhawks @ Columbus Blue Jackets

  1 2 3 Total
Chicago Blackhawks 0 0 0 0
Columbus Blue Jackets 0 1 3 4

Joakim Lindstrom scored first for the Blue Jackets, breaking a scoreless tie 4:49 into the second period on a power play. In the third period, Clay Wilson scored his first career NHL goal 7:13 into the period. David Vyborny scored just over a minute later, then Michael Peca gave Columbus a 4 goal lead over Chicago with about 8 minutes remaining. Fredrik Norrena made 17 saves and earned his second shutout of the season. Wilson also scored his first NHL career assist, when he helped on Lindstrom’s goal in the second.

Edmonton Oilers @ Minnesota Wild

  1 2 3 Total
Edmonton Oilers 0 0 1 1
Minnesota Wild 2 1 0 3

Branko Radivojevic scored first for the Wild 3:01 into the game. Sean Hill scored his second of the season, and his second in consecutive games, on a Minnesota power play a few minutes later. Over halfway through the second period, Brian Rolston scored a short handed goal. Fernando Pisani put the Oilers on the board 4:40 into the third. Niklas Backstrom made 32 saves on 33 shots, earning his thirtieth win of the season. Mikko Koivu assisted on all three Minnesota goals.

Vancouver Canucks @ Colorado Avalanche

  1 2 3 Total
Vancouver Canucks 2 1 0 3
Colorado Avalanche 1 4 1 6

Jordan Leopold’s power play goal 5:10 into the first period put the Avalanche on the board. Daniel Sedin scored at 9:59 to tie the score for the Canucks. Vancouver took the lead before the first intermission after Taylor Pyatt scored his 16th goal of the season. Colorado would score four goals in a 6:37 span of the second period. Paul Stastny, Cody McLeod, Milan Hejduk, and Ben Guite each scored, which meant the end of the night for Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo. Sami Salo would score with 10 second left in the second period, but Colorado opened the third period with Hejduk’s second goal of the night. Jose Theodore made 28 saves and earned his 25th win of the season. Peter Forsberg, Stastny, and Hejduk each had three point nights for Colorado.

Los Angeles Kings @ Anaheim Ducks

  1 2 3 OT SO Total
Los Angeles Kings 1 0 0 0 1/6 1
Anaheim Ducks 0 1 0 0 2/6 2

Patrick O’Sullivan scored to give the Kings the lead 9:29 into the first period. Bobby Ryan tied the score 12:25 into the second period. The score remained tied through the rest of regulation, thanks to the goaltenders on each end of the rink, which meant this game required overtime. In the shootout, Dustin Brown scored for LA in round 2, but Teemu Selanne tied the shootout in round three. Mathieu Schneider had the decisive shootout goal in the 6th round, which gave the Ducks the win, which clinches a playoff spot for Anaheim, and also gives them their 10th consecutive home win.

Player of the Day

Today’s Player of the Day is Milan Hejduk of the Colorado Avalanche. Hejduk scored a pair of goals and also earned an assist. He scored the game winning goal 10:29 into the second period, the third goal in Colorado’s 4-goal flurry.

For information on the selection process of the Player of the Day, see this page.



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Kosmos-3M rocket launches fourth SAR-Lupe satellite

Kosmos-3M rocket launches fourth SAR-Lupe satellite

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

A Kosmos-3M rocket was used to launch SAR-Lupe 4.

A Russian Kosmos-3M rocket has launched the German SAR-Lupe 4 reconnaissance satellite into low Earth orbit. Lift-off, from area 132/1 at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Northern Russia, occurred at 17:15 GMT. The launch, which was originally scheduled to occur today, was moved up to Tuesday, and subsequently delayed twice due to strong winds at an altitude of 13 kilometres, which prevented launch.

SAR-Lupe is a German reconnaissance satellite constellation, consisting of five spacecraft. The first of these was launched in December 2006. The next satellite, SAR-Lupe 5, is scheduled for launch sometime around October 2008. The spacecraft are equipped with Synthetic Apperture Radar (SAR), which allows them to produce imagery at night, and through cloud cover.

The carrier rocket which was used, Kosmos-3M, is a derivative of the Soviet R-14 missile. It first flew in 1967, and the launch of SAR-Lupe 4 marks its 442nd flight. It is also the 900th launch of a member of the R-14 family of rockets.

The launch was declared successful, with the satellite reaching orbit at 17:43 GMT. It is the fourteenth orbital launch of 2008.



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Iraqi forces battle militants in Basra for second day

Iraqi forces battle militants in Basra for second day

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Iraq
Other stories from Iraq
  • 27 May 2015: Pro-government forces in Iraq launch operation to reclaim Ramadi from Islamic State
  • 19 April 2015: ISIS attacks United States consulate in Irbil, Iraq
  • 11 September 2014: John Kerry visits Iraq to build regional support against Islamic State
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  • 24 August 2014: Islamic State capture Syrian airbase
…More articles here
Location of Iraq

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Location of Basra

On Wednesday, Iraqi security forces (ISF) battled militants who have been described as loyal to Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in Basra, Iraq’s main seaport and the country’s third largest city. Reports indicate that at least sixty people have been killed and hundreds have been wounded. This marked the second day of intense fighting.

Combat is reported to have spread to other southern cities and also to Bagdhad. Agence France-Presse reported that two United States soldiers were killed in the capital city.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been in Basra since Monday to personally supervise Operation Sulat al-Fursan (Knights Charge) which the authorities described as designed to reimpose law and order. Today, he gave an ultimatum to the militants, giving them 72 hours to surrender. “Otherwise, they will face the most severe penalties,” Maliki said in a televised statement.

Observers see the Basra operation as a test of the Iraqi government’s ability to assert its control over a region that is not administered by foreign military forces. United Kingdom forces patrolled Basra from the onset of the invasion until they turned it over to Iraqi authorities in December of 2007.

US spokesperson Major-General Kevin Bergner said that, “These are Iraqi decisions, they are Iraqi government forces and these are Iraqi leaders implementing and directing these decisions.” He added that a year ago, the ISF would not have been able to conduct an operation of this scale.

Basra’s oil terminal in June 2007

Anthony Cordesman, a security analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies told Bloomberg via e-mail: “The current fighting is as much a power struggle for control of the south and the Shiite parts of Baghdad” as it is an attempt to establish government authority. The Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council is “clearly positioning itself for a power struggle with Sadr and for any elections to come,” Cordesman added.

Bergner further said that the fighting in Basra is neither a battle against the Mahdi Army, nor is it a proxy war against Iran. Rather it is “to deal with criminals in the streets with weapons,” he said. “We [the US] shall continue to show restraint on those who have undertaken Muqtada al-Sadr’s pledge.” A 2006 US report, however, called al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army a “most dangerous accelerant of potentially self-sustaining sectarian violence in Iraq.”

Cquote1.svg We have been living for the last hours in hell … We haven’t seen anything like this since the foreign troops arrived in 2003 Cquote2.svg

—Faris Hayder

Aides of Muqtada al-Sadr say that the cleric’s cease-fire, which was declared in August 2007, is still in force. On Tuesday, al-Sadr called for a non-violent “civil revolt” and supporters have been protesting the Maliki government forcing schools and shops to close.

“There are ongoing negotiations with the prime minister. Maliki asked to meet Sadr officials in Basra,” Harith al-Ithari, head of al-Sadr’s Basra office, told Reuters.

Muqtada al-Sadr was seen as instrumental in Maliki’s rise to power, but al-Sadr broke from Maliki in 2005. According to Iraqi political analyst Hazem al-Nuaeimi, Sadr is a thorn in the side of other Shia groups that currently support Maliki. “There is a need to minimize the Sadrists’ strength and influence and to draw the lines before they get any stronger,” he said.

“We have been living for the last hours in hell. We have spent most of the time hiding under the staircase,” said Faris Hayder, a 28-year-old resident of Basra to Reuters. “We haven’t seen anything like this since the foreign troops arrived in 2003.”

“No one wants to see a return to the violence of a year ago,” Bergner said Wednesday on television from Baghdad. “This has been a difficult and challenging few days, it’s also been a period of significant effort for the Iraqi security forces.”


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