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October 16, 2008

Thai-Cambodian generals in talks after border clash kills two

Thai-Cambodian generals in talks after border clash kills two

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Preah Vihear Temple (Kao Phra Viharn)
Image: Henry Flower.

Today saw high-level talks between Thai and Cambodian military leaders following a border skirmish yesterday which left two Cambodian soldiers dead, injuries on both sides, and ten Thai troops captured. Several hours of talks have led to an agreement for joint military patrols along the disputed border.

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Wednesday’s exchange of fire in the disputed border region surrounding Preah Vihear Temple is the latest in a dispute over an area of scrubland which both Cambodia and Thailand claim. While each side claims the other initiated the clash, government officials in both capitals have sought to downplay the seriousness of the incident and stress that a negotiated settlement is the only reasonable solution. The disputed territory is a little under five square kilometres and was, in 1962, awarded to Cambodia by the International Court of Justice. The decision caused resentment in Thailand which continues to this day.

Downplaying the incident, Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong spoke of the negotiations in positive terms, stressing the skirmish was, “an incident between soldiers and not an invasion by Thailand”. Thai Prime Minister, Somchai Wongsawat stressed the need for the dispute over territory to be resolved peacefully.

According to officials, apart from the two Cambodian soldiers who died in the skirmish, an additional two Khmer troops and five Thais were injured. Thailand has denied the claim by Cambodia that ten soldiers were captured in the disputed territory. On the other side of the border, Cambodian officials have said the captives will be returned upon request.

Location of Preah Vihear Temple.
Image: Matthew Edwards from CIA World factbook maps.

The dispute over the contested territory flared up in June; UNESCO awarded the Hindu Preah Vihear Temple the status of World Heritage Site as a Cambodian property, bringing the issue back into the spotlight. The 900-year-old temple sits at the centre of a military build-up on both sides of the border and despite an agreed pull-back in August the situation deteriorated when Cambodia asserted that Thai troops had returned to the entrenched positions that now see around 1,000 soldiers from both sides facing each other. The return of Thai military forces saw the Cambodian Prime Minister, Hun Sen threaten to turn the area into a “death zone”.

United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon spoke yesterday on the incident, expressing grave concern over the escalation of the conflict and loss of life. A spokesperson for the Secretary-General said, “He calls on both parties to exercise utmost restraint and urges them to expedite bilateral talks so that their differences can be resolved peacefully”. This is not the first time Ban Ki-moon has spoken on the issue; previously calls for restraint have been issued as the military build-up in the area has continued.

The ongoing dispute and yesterday’s escalation have seen moves to take civilians out of harm’s way. The government in Bangkok urged Thai citizens in Cambodia to leave the country if they were not there on urgent business. Over 400 returned on a Thai Airways flight following the call to evacuate Thai nationals. With a 2003 dispute and unrest having seen Thailand’s embassy in Phnom Penh torched, Cambodian authorities deployed riot police around the building yesterday in case the dispute led to violence. In the disputed region, thousands of Cambodians have left due to the build-up of forces on both sides of the border and increased tensions.

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The current flare-up along the border is the second incident this month; on October 3 there was a clash where Thailand claims Cambodian forces crossed the border and fired on Thai rangers causing two injuries. That incident saw both sides exchange protest letters. Thailand claimed that rangers patrolling on their side of the border encountered Cambodian troops and demanded they return across the border. The alleged response was apparently orders from superiors for the Cambodians to begin firing. The strongly-worded complaint stated, “the above-mentioned intrusion of the Cambodian soldiers into Thailand’s territory is a serious violation of Thailand’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Furthermore, the shooting by the Cambodian troops against the unarmed Thai para-military rangers is regarded as a brutal and aggressive act and is contrary to the spirit of friendly relations between Cambodia and Thailand.”

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Spanair mechanics to be questioned under criminal suspicion over Flight 5022 crash

Spanair mechanics to be questioned under criminal suspicion over Flight 5022 crash

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

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Three Spanair mechanics—including the head of maintenance for the airline in the area—are to be questioned under suspicion of manslaughter in connection to the Spanair Flight 5022 disaster. The other two workers checked the plane, a MD-82, before the failed takeoff at Madrid that killed 154 and left only eighteen survivors.

Map showing crash location.

The aircraft, destined for the Canary Islands, failed to maintain altitude after takeoff from Barajas Airport.

A preliminary report concluded that the wing flaps were not correctly set for takeoff, and an alarm that should have sounded to alert the flight crew to this problem failed. No reasons have been determined for these occurrences.

A judge has now summoned the head of Spanair maintenance at Barajas and the two mechanics who checked the aircraft. They were summoned by Juan Javier Perez of Madrid’s Superior Court, who heads the judicial enquiry into the accident.

Aircraft manufacturer McDonnell Douglas—which has since merged with Boeing—has suggested that operators should check the wing flaps before every flight. However, Spanair only checked them every morning and after each change in flight crew. The recommendation came after the 1987 crash of Northwest Flight 255.

So far, no one has been charged with a crime.



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Oversight Committee: White House attempted to influence Congressional elections

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Oversight Committee: White House attempted to influence Congressional elections

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

A report released by the US House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform today found that the White House had “used the political affairs office to orchestrate an aggressive strategy to use taxpayer-funded trips to help elect Republican candidates” during the 2006 Congressional elections. The actions of the White House may have breached the Hatch Act, which prohibits government involvement with taxpayer dollars in political affairs.

The Office of Political Affairs coordinated the efforts, and while it has been used in the past to support political parties, the Committee called the level of involvement “unprecedented” and a “gross abuse of public trust”. A total of 99 Republican candidates were supported by the actions.

Political Affairs requested that its officials attend events of and support key members of the 2006–2007 Congressional race. Administration officials attended a total of 425 events, including parties, fundraising dinners, speeches, and appearances with Republican candidates — an average of more than an event each day of the election season. A third of the events were paid for with tax dollars.

White House emails used in the report referred to the taxpayer-funded events as “top priorities”.

Former Political Affairs director Ken Melhman said during an investigative interview that it was a “big part” of his job was to “help elect allies of the President”. The job was legal, he said, because it promoted executive allies. Mehlman had discussed his actions with the White House Counsel of the time, Alberto Gonzales, who approved of the efforts.

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The Committee noted that the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, John Walters, helped with nineteen events though his position was restricted from campaign activities.

Mehlman said that his department had worked directly with the National Republican Congressional Committee on the strategy. They had worked together to pick “vulnerable Republican incumbents”, “battleground races” and “places where they agreed the most help was needed”. The White House kept a ‘target list’ of ‘allies’ who were in tight races.

Investigators also questioned Sara Taylor, a former director of Political Affairs and Karl Rove aid. According to the report, Taylor resisted questioning and “misled the Committee about her actions”. Taylor said the trips were efforts to be helpful but could not remember why some were helped and others not.

The report recommended an amendment of the Hatch Act and for the Political Affairs department to be abolished.

Republican Representative Tom Davis, a senior member of the Committee, said that every administration since Eisenhower has done similar things. He said the Democrats had set out to find banned activity and had “feigned shock”, calling their response “righteous indignation”.

A White House spokesman accused the Committee of trying to “score political points”, and that the report was a waste of time and taxpayer money.

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Oil prices drop as inventories grow

Oil prices drop as inventories grow – Wikinews, the free news source

Oil prices drop as inventories grow

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

  • Nymexlogo.JPG NYMEX/WTI: $70.61/barrel Loss $-3.93 (-5.27%)
  • ICE LOGO.jpg ICE/Brent: $65.43/barrel Loss $-4.15 (-5.96%)
16:00, 16 October 2008 (UTC)
Prices displayed in U.S. dollars.

International oil prices sank on Thursday as investors worried that a looming global recession will lower demand.

File:Refinery.jpg
Oil has dropped more than $70 since July.

Crude oil for future delivery fell to below US$71 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, its lowest price in more than a year. In London, Brent crude oil for November dropped below $66 a barrel.

Oil prices have dropped more than 50 percent since hitting a record high of $147 a barrel in July. A report released today showed an unexpected increase in inventories. Analysts expected only a 1.9 million barrel increase last week, but the actual amount was 5.6 million barrels

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) cut its estimate for crude oil demand next year in a report released Wednesday. OPEC, which was planning on having an emergency meeting next month on the issue of lower oil prices, pushed forward the meeting to next week. The cartel is expected to cut production by 500,000 barrels a day, in a bid to boost oil prices. Saudi Arabia, which initially did not support the cut a few weeks ago, now supports such a move.

Some Asian governments are under pressure to reduce domestic fuel prices in light of the decline of the price of oil. In China, some drivers are paying more for gas than drivers in the United States, which last occurred several years ago. India, China, and Indonesia appear to be to content to keep the price at the same level; however, some other Asian governments have lowered the price already. Malaysia and Vietnam have cut prices and are expected to do the same if oil drops some more.



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NHL: Montreal Canadiens open 100th season

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NHL: Montreal Canadiens open 100th season

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Montreal Canadiens will use the 100th anniversary logo all season.

The Montreal Canadiens, the oldest and most successful National Hockey League team, played their 100th home opener against Original Six rivals the Boston Bruins on the night of October 15, 2008. The Canadiens won the game in a shootout, 4-3.

Pre-Game Ceremonies

During the opening ceremonies the Canadiens brought out 12 Hall of Famers onto the ice. The players were Emile “Butch” Bouchard, Elmer Lach, Jean Beliveau, Dickie Moore, Henri Richard, Yvan Cournoyer, Guy Lafleur, Bob Gainey, Guy Lapointe, Steve Shutt, Larry Robinson and Dick Duff. While they were on the ice, the Canadiens unveiled a new installation in their home arena, the Bell Centre: a “ring of honour” that stretched around the top of the entire arena above the last row of seats, depicting in a mural the 54 former Montreal Canadiens who are now in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Bouchard and Lach, the two oldest Canadiens Hall of Famers, were chosen to drop the ceremonial puck to start the game.

The Game

Barely two minutes into the game, newly acquired enforcer Georges Laraque got into his first fight as a Canadien, fighting Scott Thornton. Both players were given five-minute majors for the incident.

Montreal opened the scoring with three quick goals in the first period. Alexei Kovalev scored first on the power play, collecting a rebound off his own shot 15 minutes into the game, and scoring from the crease. Team captain Saku Koivu scored less than two minutes later by stuffing a loose puck from the side of the net. Another two minutes after that, Maxim Lapierre scored a short-handed goal to give the Canadiens a three-goal lead.

But after that, it was all Boston as the Bruins would hold an advantage in shots in every period thereafter. David Krejci scored in the second period, and it would have been more except for some terrific saves by Canadiens goaltender Carey Price.

In the third period, Marc Savard struck twice, first on a power play goal seven minutes into the frame. Then in the last minute of regulation, Price was fooled by a fluke bounce off the boards, and Savard easily guided the puck into the vacated net to tie the game.

There was little action in the extra frame, leading to a shootout. Phil Kessel, Patrice Bergeron, and former Canadien Michael Ryder were designated for the Bruins, while Andrei Markov and Alex Tanguay replied for the Habs. Tanguay scored the only goal, ensuring that Montreal’s 100th home opener would go down as a victory for the home team.

Future Celebrations

The Canadiens will continue to celebrate their 100th year all season long, with future highlights expected to be the retiring of former Habs great Patrick Roy’s number 33 in November, and the NHL all-star game in January. As well, the Canadiens are considered to be strong contenders for the Stanley Cup this season, so it is possible the Bell Centre will see one more celebration in June.



Sources

  • David Amber, Matthew Barnaby, John Buccigross et al. “2008-09 NHL Predictions” — ESPN.com, October 8, 2008
  • Montreal Gazette staff. “Happy at home” — Montreal Gazette, October 16, 2008
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Medical helicopter crashes near Chicago, Illinois killing four

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Medical helicopter crashes near Chicago, Illinois killing four

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

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A medical helicopter has crashed near Chicago, Illinois killing three crew members and the patient, a thirteen-month-old baby girl. The crew aboard the helicopter included the pilot, a nurse and a paramedic.

The helicopter, operated by Air Angels Inc., was transporting the baby to Children’s Memorial Hospital from Valley West Hospital, when it hit a wire connected to a 734-foot (224-meter) radio tower in Aurora and burst into flames around 12:00 a.m. (EDT). The baby was suffering from epileptic seizures.

The cause of the crash is not known, and there were no reported problems with the helicopter before it took off. An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is ongoing.

This is the third crash which involved an Air Angels helicopter. In 2003, a pilot was killed when his chopper crashed. An investigation concluded that the cause was pilot error, and bad weather. Another chopper crashed in 2007, but there were no injuries.



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Ilham Aliyev claims landslide victory in disputed Azerbaijani elections

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Ilham Aliyev claims landslide victory in disputed Azerbaijani elections

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

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Ilham Aliyev in Poland, earlier this year.
Image: Polish Senate.

Incumbent President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, has claimed victory by winning 89% of the vote in the recent Azerbaijani presidential election, which were boycotted by all major opposition parties.

The major opposition parties boycotted the election due to claims that the government was limiting people’s democratic rights and restricting freedom of the press. These parties described the elections as nothing more than a charade.

“Despite the boycott by some opposition parties, the Azeris made their choice in favour of Ilham Aliyev,” said Ali Akhmedov, a press spokesperson for Aliyev’s New Azerbaijan Party.

Aliyev faced six opponents in a presidential election. None of these competitors were considered a serious competitor by the newly re-elected president.

Isa Gambar, leader of the Musavat party, which was the main opposition party until it entered the boycott, commented on the result. “It’s a farce, a tragicomedy,” he stated. “The authorities were trying to force people to vote.”

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Authorities state that there was a 78% turnout in the election.

At 15:00 UTC today, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) criticized the election, but said that progress had been made. The organisation said in a press release that “yesterday’s presidential election in Azerbaijan marked considerable progress, but did not meet all of the country’s international commitments.”

“The election was conducted in a peaceful manner, but was characterized by a lack of robust competition and vibrant political discourse facilitated by the media, and thus did not reflect all principles of a meaningful and pluralistic democratic election,” continued the OSCE. “Regrettably, some opposition parties boycotted the election, citing longstanding obstacles. This further limited the scope for meaningful choice for the electorate.”



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Azerbaijani presidential election, 2008
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Studying the evolution of sexual attractiveness? Try yeast.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Sexual attractiveness has been considered one of the basic drivers of evolution since Darwin’s day, but the genetic basis of why some displays, such as the peacock’s tail, are so effective at attracting the opposite sex remains unknown. However, biologists David Rogers and Duncan Greig have shown that sexual preference can be found even in simple yeasts, and have developed methods for tracing the genes that influence such preferences throughout the population.


Sources

  • Natasha Gilbert “Yeast reveals sexual selection in action”. Nature News, 16 October 2008, doi:10.1038/news.2008.1168
This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

Ilham Aliyev claims landslide victory in Azerbaijani elections, international group says election was not free

Filed under: Asia,Azerbaijan,Elections,Politics and conflicts — admin @ 5:00 am

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Other stories from Azerbaijan
…More articles here
Location of Azerbaijan

A map showing the location of Azerbaijan

To write, edit, start or view other articles on Azerbaijan, see the Azerbaijan Portal
Portal:Azerbaijan

Ilham Aliyev in Poland, earlier this year. Image: Polish Senate.

Ilham Aliyev in Poland, earlier this year.
Image: Polish Senate.

Incumbent President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, has claimed victory by winning 89% of the vote in the recent Azerbaijani presidential election, which were boycotted by all major opposition parties.

The major opposition parties boycotted the election due to claims that the government was limiting people’s democratic rights and restricting freedom of the press. These parties described the elections as nothing more than a charade.

“Despite the boycott by some opposition parties, the Azeris made their choice in favour of Ilham Aliyev,” said Ali Akhmedov, a press spokesperson for Aliyev’s New Azerbaijan Party.

Aliyev faced six opponents in a presidential election. None of these competitors were considered a serious competitor by the newly re-elected president.

Isa Gambar, leader of the Musavat party, which was the main oppoisition party until it entered the boycott, commented on the result. “It’s a farce, a tragicomedy,” he stated. “The authorities were trying to force people to vote.”

HAVE YOUR SAY
Should Aliyev be internationally accepted as president?
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Authorities state that there was a 78% turnout in the election.

At 15:00 UTC today, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) criticized the election, but said that progress had been made. The organisation said in a press release that “yesterday’s presidential election in Azerbaijan marked considerable progress, but did not meet all of the country’s international commitments.”

“The election was conducted in a peaceful manner, but was characterized by a lack of robust competition and vibrant political discourse facilitated by the media, and thus did not reflect all principles of a meaningful and pluralistic democratic election,” continued the OSCE. “Regrettably, some opposition parties boycotted the election, citing longstanding obstacles. This further limited the scope for meaningful choice for the electorate.”


Sources

  • “Azerbaijan’s president re-elected in landslide, to opposition parties boycott”. The Canadian Press, October 16, 2008
  • Matt Robinson “Azeri look to monitors after Aliyev victory”. Reuters, October 16, 2008
  • “Azeri ruling party claims victory for Aliyev”. International Herald Tribune, October 15, 2008
This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

Spanish judge opens inquiry into deaths and disappearances during the Spanish Civil War

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Spanish judge has opened an investigation of García Lorca’s death, among many others executed and disappeared during the Spanish Civil War and the Franco years.


Sources

Reuters, “Spanish judge opens case into Franco’s atrocities”, International Herald Tribune (October 16, 2008)

This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.
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