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November 6, 2009

Zimbabwe prime minister Tsvangirai ends cabinet boycott

Zimbabwe prime minister Tsvangirai ends cabinet boycott

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Friday, November 6, 2009

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Morgan Tsvangirai

Morgan Tsvangirai, the prime minister of Zimbabwe, said on Thursday that he was calling off his boycott of the coalition government with president Robert Mugabe. The prime minister said he was giving Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party 30 days to work on “the pertinent issues we are concerned about”.

Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party had pulled out of the coalition government three weeks ago, protesting what they called harassment of Mugabe opponents and accusing the president of not fulfilling the power-sharing agreement agreed to in February.

“We have suspended our disengagement from the GPA [Global Political Agreement] with immediate effect and we will give President Robert Mugabe 30 days to implement the agreement on the pertinent issues we are concerned about,” Tsvangirai said. His move came after he attended a meeting in Mozambique with the Southern African Development Community.



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Wikinews discusses the H1N1 pandemic with the CDC

Wikinews discusses the H1N1 pandemic with the CDC

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Friday, November 6, 2009

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is a US government agency. In an interview with Wikinews, Jeff Dimond, a member of the Division of Media Relations for the CDC, answered a few question regarding the current situation of the H1N1 swine flu pandemic.

The CDC reported that during week 42 (October 18–24) of this year, the swine flu activity increased in the United States with 19 confirmed deaths by swine flu, while week 43 (Oct. 25–31) faced 15 confirmed deaths.


Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.pngHow does the CDC feel the media has handled the H1N1 flu pandemic?

Jeff Dimond: Media coverage has been quite good.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngWhat measures are the CDC taking to combat the swine flu?

JD: Public health information is being distributed nationwide, scientists worked hard to identify the H1N1 virus and produce a vaccine in record time.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngWhat areas around the world are affected most by the swine flu?

JD: This is a question for the WHO (World Health Organization).

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngAre the current anti-flu vaccines effective and how sufficient is the current supply?

JD: All current anti-flu vaccines are effective. Manufacturers are producing doses as fast as possible. Spot shortages may occur, but there is not an overall shortage of vaccine. For the most severe cases, a drug called Peramivir has been authorized for emergency use by the FDA.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngHow can one avoid infection and how deadly is this disease?

JD: Proper hand sanitation and avoidance of individuals who have flu-like symptoms is the best way to avoid becoming ill. To date more than 1000 Americans have died from LABORATORY CONFIRMED cases of H1N1 and of those 129 are under the age of 18. The most at-risk populations are pregnant women, younger people in the 18–49 age group and those with other complicating conditions such as asthma, COPD, diabetes and morbid obesity.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngWhat efforts have the CDC made to insure vaccines are available for those with no or poor health-care?

JD: Distribution of vaccine is up to the state health departments. CDC is not a regulatory agency.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngIf someone suspects they have swine flu what would the best course of action be?

JD: They should seek medical attention.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngWhen will the swine flu die down and cease being a pandemic?

JD: No idea.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngBesides the CDC, what other entities, governmental and private, are involved in stopping this disease and how?

JD: All public health and medical agencies with a stake in H1N1 are cooperating to control the spread of H1N1.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngIs there a significant risk of H1N1 mutating and becoming more deadly?

JD: Flu viruses are unpredictable so there is no way of answering this question. The CDC is constantly monitoring these viruses.



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WHO states H1N1 swine flu world\’s most dominant virus

WHO states H1N1 swine flu world’s most dominant virus

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Friday, November 6, 2009

The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) stated that the H1N1 virus, more commonly known as swine flu, has become the dominant flu strain in the world.

False color image of the H1N1 virus.

In a briefing with reporters Thursday, WHO Special Pandemic Influenza Advisor Keiji Fukuda said the virus has been particularly active in the Northern Hemisphere in recent months. He added that he expects the trend to continue through the winter months, with more severe cases and even deaths.

Fukuda said the vaccine currently in use in some 20 countries around the world remains effective and safe, and that no rare or dangerous side effects have been reported.

“East Asia is one of the parts of the world where seasonal influenza viruses have remained in reasonably high circulation. But even in that part of the world, the pandemic virus is becoming dominant,” Fukuda commented.

He noted that it was difficult to predict the activity of the virus. “We really are not going to know what the future is going to bring, and so the main focus of our effort here is […] what steps are needed to make sure countries are as prepared as possible to deal with disease levels,” he said.

The H1N1 virus differs from the normal seasonal flu in that it has persisted during the summer months and affected relatively healthy people under the age of 65. The WHO says most people recover without hospitalization, although Fuduka pointed out that people with severe health complications and pregnant women were most at risk.

The World Health Organization has declared the swine flu outbreak a pandemic. As of October 25, 2009, the WHO says there have been more than 440,000 laboratory confirmed cases of H1N1 influenza and more than 5,700 deaths reported to the UN agency.



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UN endorses Israel-Palestinian war crimes report

UN endorses Israel-Palestinian war crimes report

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Friday, November 6, 2009

After two days of debate, the United Nations General Assembly has overwhelmingly endorsed a report from the Human Rights Council calling for domestic investigations into alleged war crimes committed by both Israel’s military and Palestinian armed forces during the Gaza conflict that began last December.

The controversial report concluded that Israel used disproportionate force in the war, deliberately targeted Gaza civilians, used them as human shields, and destroyed civilian infrastructure. One of the 31 chapters of the report discussed crimes by Hamas for firing rockets into Israeli towns.

The remains of a mosque and an orphanage after being shelled by Israeli forces

The final vote was 114 in favor, 18 against and 44 abstentions. Strong support came from the Arab and non-aligned countries, many of whom co-sponsored the draft resolution.

Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour welcomed the vote, saying the implementation of Justice Richard Goldstone’s report will now begin in stages.

Ali Treki, the General Assembly president, called the vote “an important declaration against impunity. It is a call for justice and accountability”. Without justice, there can be no progress towards peace. A human being should be treated as a human being, regardless of his or her religion, race or nationality,” he said.

“In three months we will come back to General Assembly to consider the report of the Secretary-General for further action, including in all parts of the United Nations, including in the Security Council,” said Riyad Mansour, a Palestinian-American diplomat.

The non-binding resolution requests the secretary-general report to the General Assembly within three months on the implementation of the resolution, with a view to considering further action, if necessary.

Israel’s deputy ambassador to the UN, Daniel Cameron said that the resolution, “endorses and legitimizes a deeply flawed, one-sided and prejudiced report of the discredited Human Rights Council and its politicised work that bends both fact and law”.

Cquote1.svg “In three months we will come back to General Assembly to consider the report of the Secretary-General for further action, Cquote2.svg

—Riyad Mansour, Palestinian-American diplomat

Of the countries abstaining or voting no, several said that although they agreed with the essence of the resolution – that the parties should conduct their own independent, credible investigations into alleged violations as called for in the Goldstone report – they could not vote in favor because they had difficulty with two specific items in the resolution.

Another point of some contention is that the resolution leaves the door open for future action in the UN Security Council. The Palestinians have made clear they plan to pursue that option, but most of the council’s five permanent members opposed the idea, saying the right forum for the Goldstone report is in the Human Rights Council in Geneva, where it started.

The United States was the only permanent Security Council member to vote against the resolution. Deputy Ambassador Alejandro Wolff said that although it opposed the resolution, the US strongly supported accountability for human rights and humanitarian law violations relating to the Gaza conflict.

“We believe that the Goldstone report is deeply flawed-including its unbalanced focus on Israel, its sweeping conclusions of law, the excessively negative inferences it draws about Israel’s intentions and actions, its failure to deal adequately with the asymmetrical nature of the Gaza conflict, its failure to assign appropriate responsibility to Hamas for its decision to base itself and its operations in heavily civilian-populated urban areas, and its many overreaching recommendations,” said Alejandro Wolff.

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Israel, which did not cooperate with the Goldstone commission, voted against the resolution, saying that it legitimised a “deeply flawed, one-sided” report, and disregarded Israel’s right to defend its citizens.

“The results of the vote and the large number of member states who voted against or abstained, demonstrate clearly that the resolution does not have the support of the ‘moral majority’ of UN members,” read a statement on the website of Israel’s ministry of foreign affairs. “Israel rejects the resolution of the UN General Assembly, which is completely detached from realities on the ground.”

During the three-week-long Israeli military incursion into the Gaza Strip, at least 1,400 Palestinians died according to Palestinians and human rights groups, although Israel says 1,166, and 13 Israelis also died. The Goldstone Commission criticized both sides for violations of international humanitarian law.



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Two NATO soldiers reported missing in Afghanistan, search underway

Filed under: Afghanistan,Asia,Middle East,NATO — admin @ 5:00 am

Two NATO soldiers reported missing in Afghanistan, search underway

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Friday, November 6, 2009

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The NATO-led force in Afghanistan issued a statement on Friday saying that that two of its troops went missing on Wednesday while on a routine supply mission.

The statement said a search operation is under way, but did not give many details. A NATO press officer said that “We continue exhaustive search and rescue operations to locate our missing service members. We are doing everything we can to find them.”

Local police said that the soldiers were likely swept away by a river in Badghis, a western province, while they were trying to get to an airdropped food parcel that had fallen into the river. Officials said it was not likely that they were taken captive.

“The families of these service members have been notified about their loved ones’ status and we will continue to keep them informed as information becomes available,” a press officer said.



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Stolen minibus recovered 35 years after theft

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

Stolen minibus recovered 35 years after theft

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Friday, November 6, 2009

A 1965 Volkswagen minibus that was stolen in 1974 has been recovered by customs agents in Los Angeles. The vintage minibus was in pristine condition, valued at $25,000, and was found during a routine inspection of a shipping container scheduled for departure to The Netherlands. A routine computer database search on its vehicle identification number flagged it as having been stolen from a vehicle upholstery shop in Spokane, Washington on July 12, 1974. A custom restoration business in Arizona was attempting to deliver it to overseas clients last month when authorities intercepted the vehicle.

Cquote1.svg “Pretty amazing, isn’t it?” Cquote2.svg

—United States customs spokesman Jaime Ruiz

The theft appeared on the National Insurance Crime Bureau database, which is used by border authorities and contains all stolen vehicle records. Most police databases remove unsolved vehicle thefts after five years.

The California Highway Patrol does not suspect the restorer of wrongdoing, according to investigating officer Mike Maleta. Possession of the vehicle apparently changed several times. Police in Spokane have not yet located the rightful owner, whose identity has not been released to the press. Maleta hopes that a trail of registration documents and interviews will uncover the thief.

Cquote1.svg “[The restoration firm owner is] a victim himself. He was an innocent purchaser…” Cquote2.svg

—California Highway Patrol investigator Mike Maleta

The Allstate insurance company paid $2500 shortly after the theft occurred and wants to take possession of the vintage minibus. Allstate spokeswoman Megan Brunet expects that after the necessary paperwork is processed the firm will sell it at auction.



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Shooting rampage in Orlando, Florida leaves one dead, seven injured

Shooting rampage in Orlando, Florida leaves one dead, seven injured

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Friday, November 6, 2009

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At least one person was killed after a shooting rampage at the Gateway Center office building in Orlando, Florida, at around 11.30 EST (16.30 UTC), according to authorities.

The gunman, who has been identified as Jason Rodriguez, aged 40, surrendered at his mother’s house, after police received reports that he had fled there. He is now in custody. He was described as wearing a light blue polo shirt and jeans. The building where the incident occurred was locked down, and police officers evacuated the building.

A resident living near the house where Rodriguez was arrested witnessed the police confront the gunman. “I just heard screaming. They [the police] said, Come out with your hands in the air. He didn’t resist,” he said, as quoted by the Los Angeles Times.

Barbara Jones said that Rodriguez used to work at the building. “I would consider him armed and dangerous,” she said, as quoted by the Press Association news agency.

“This is a tragedy no doubt about it, especially on the heels of the tragedy in Fort Hood that is on our minds,” said local police chief Val Demings. “I’m just glad we don’t have any more fatalities or any more injuries than we currently have.”

“We understand the shootings did take place in our office,” said Ken Jacobson, a spokesperson for the company owning the building, Reynolds, Smith & Hill. “People were shot in our offices.”

Some office workers reportedly barricaded themselves in their offices following the incident, fearing the gunman to be nearby. “We’ve got everybody in one office, with the door barricaded with a chest of drawers. There are about 20 of us in here. We’re scared,” said one woman, as quoted by the Los Angeles Times. “We’re watching TV, trying to see what is going on, but we really don’t know. We’re scared. We’re safe right now, but we’re scared.”

Several police cars, ambulances, and other emergency vehicles were dispatched to the scene. According to the ABC news network, agents from the FBI were also sent, and police officials said that SWAT teams also were on the scene. Traffic near the building was diverted, and there is a heavy police presence.



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Ousted Honduran president says crisis deal has failed

Filed under: Archived,Central America,Honduras,Politics and conflicts — admin @ 5:00 am

Ousted Honduran president says crisis deal has failed

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File photo of Manuel Zelaya
Image: Ricardo Stuckert.

An aide to ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya said that a deal designed to end the country’s political crisis has failed, after interim leader Roberto Micheletti announced the formation of a new cabinet.

Micheletti said late on Thursday that he is installing a national unity government without the participation of Zelaya, who has declined to name any cabinet members. The two signed an agreement last week to resolve the four-month political standoff. A new government was set to begin Thursday.

Zelaya warned on Thursday the accord was at risk of collapsing unless the Honduran Congress held a vote to restore him to power immediately to serve out his term that ends in January. Honduras elects a new president on November 29.

Congress must vote on Zelaya’s restitution, but has not yet done so. The recently signed pact does not stipulate a deadline for the Congressional vote.

The United States, a major broker in the mediation efforts, said this week the next step in the political crisis is up to Honduras. The governments of several countries have threatened not to recognize the presidential elections if Zelaya is not first returned to power.

Zelaya was ousted in a military-backed coup in June, but returned to Honduras in September, where he has taken refuge in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa.



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Olympic condoms auctioned: \”faster, higher, stronger\”

Filed under: Archived,China,Health,Olympics,Wackynews — admin @ 5:00 am

Olympic condoms auctioned: “faster, higher, stronger”

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Sports memorabilia collector Zhao Xiaokai has amassed 5,000 condoms left over from the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and is offering them for sale at auction. Each condom is stamped with the motto of the Olympics in English and in Chinese: “faster, higher, stronger”. The Beijing Olympics condoms are offered for sale as part of an auction of Olympic memorabilia. Starting price is one yuan, which is equivalent to US$0.15 or £0.08. The condoms will be sold as a batch.

Participating nations in 2008 Summer Olympics
Image: Gradient drift.

Cquote1.svg “The move is to grab the attention of the public to promote the awareness of safe sex and the prevention of HIV/Aids.” Cquote2.svg

—Guo Lei, Sport Collection of China Collector Association

The 5,000 Olympic condoms are the remainder of a 100,000 production run that were distributed free of charge to athletes who competed in the games. Olympic organizers have been providing free condoms to athletes since the Barcelona Olympics of 1992.

This is the first time that condoms have been sold at public auction in China. Guo Lei of the Sport Collection of China Collector Association, which hosts the auction, told the press that the condom portion of the auction is intended to raise public awareness of HIV and AIDS, although he also expressed concerns that potential buyers may be too embarrassed to bid.

Zhao Xiaokai is offering several other items for sale in the same auction, including an Olympic torch signed by Brazilian footballer Pelé. Neither the collector nor the auction organizers have disclosed which athletes provided the unused condoms.



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Local community on Australian Sunshine Coast compromises with McDonald\’s

Filed under: Archived,Australia,Food,Oceania,Original reporting — admin @ 5:00 am

Local community on Australian Sunshine Coast compromises with McDonald’s

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Friday, November 6, 2009

The 24 hour McDonald’s at Mooloolaba
Image: Patrick Gillett.

Residents of the suburb of Minyama, Australia have come to a compromise with restaurant chain McDonald’s.

A 24 hour store was planned for the suburb but the fast food giant backed down agreeing that the store will only open overnight on Fridays and Saturdays. Every other day it will be open from five in the morning to eleven at night.

As part of the compromise, a walkway connecting the suburb’s main road to the residential area near the new McDonald’s has been closed off. “They will all be restricted to Nicklin Way,” said John Meyer-Gleaves, a spokesperson for protest group Say No To McDonald’s, referring to late night customers.

The group also managed to get a higher wall placed between the store and the residential area to cut noise and light pollution.

In December, Sunshine Coast Regional Council knocked backed the then-proposed store with mayor Bob Abbot expressing concern about its proximity to a residential area.

“I’m pretty sure I’m the only councillor who already has a 24-hour McDonald’s in my division, we have enough issues with that one, and this is overkill,” Councillor Chris Thompson, Division 4 in the Sunshine Coast Regional Council, had said about a 24 hour seven day a week store at Minyama.

The 24-hour McDonald’s in Councillor Thompson’s division, Mooloolaba, is part of a larger complex and does not back onto residential premises.



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