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December 24, 2009

UK Wikinews Shorts: December 24, 2009

UK Wikinews Shorts: December 24, 2009 – Wikinews, the free news source

UK Wikinews Shorts: December 24, 2009

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A compilation of brief news reports for Thursday, December 24, 2009.

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Map of Wales with Carmarthenshire highlighted in red.

6-year-old boy dies in agricultural incident in Carmarthenshire, Wales

A six-year-old boy has died as as result of a farming-related incident in the village of Bethlehem in Carmarthenshire, Wales. The incident, which is not being treated as a suspicious one, is currently under investigation from the Health and Safety Executive as well as Dyfed-Powys Police, the police service in Carmarthenshire. A tractor is believed to have been involved in the incident. The child has now been identified as Dafydd Bowen. It was reported that he was involved in a fatal accident at Pengoilan Farm – the boy’s parents’ farm – on Wednesday at around 1430 GMT.

“I went over their and his parents Gareth and Meryl were very upset,” said Jan Hughes. The woman, who has a neighbouring farm, commented on how she heard an air ambulance arriving at the scene of the accident. “They were just about to go to the hospital when I saw them. It is devastating to hear Dafydd has died, he was such a lovely boy. The community here is shocked,” said Jan. The village of Bethlehem is reported to have been struck by a “wave of grief”.

As a mark of respect for the family of the child, a service which was due to be held at midnight on Christmas Eve in Bethlehem Chapel has now been cancelled. Dafydd himself is due to appear as a part of a school choir on a pre-recorded programme that is still expected to be broadcast. Seren Bethlehem, which was recorded in the village, is due to be broadcast on Welsh television channel S4C on Thursday, and will be a tribute to Bowen.

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Ryanair 737 slides off runway in Glasgow, Scotland

A file photo of a Ryanair 737

A Boeing 737 belonging to Irish budget carrier Ryanair came off the runway at Glasgow’s Prestwick Airport in Scotland yesterday. The jet had landed after a flight from Dublin when it slid on a patch of ice. All 129 passengers and six crew were able to leave uninjured, with the aircraft having its forward and right landing gear sunk into the grass alongside the runway.

Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Service attended as a precaution. Ryanair said the aircraft did not appear to be damaged and that they hoped to minimise any delays. Prestwick has one of the longest runways in the UK. The airport was closed from 0900 until 1100 GMT.

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U.S. Senate passes landmark health care reform bill

U.S. Senate passes landmark health care reform bill

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

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The United States Senate has approved a hard-fought measure to overhaul the health care system. The vote will be followed by the difficult process of reconciling the Senate-passed bill with one approved by the House of Representatives, in order to get a final measure to President Barack Obama.

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“The yeas are 60, the nays are 39. H.R. 3590 as amended, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is passed,” Vice President Joe Biden announced. Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky did not show up for the vote leading to the 39 nays. Mike Reynard, a spokesman for Bunning, said in an e-mail that “The senator had family commitments.”

The vice president presided over the Senate at the time of the vote in his role as President of the United States Senate.

As expected, Republicans voted against the bill while all Democrats and two Independents, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, voted for it.

At an estimated $87 billion, the measure would expand health insurance coverage to about 30 million more Americans currently without it, and create new private insurance marketplaces, or exchanges, to expand choice.

And, like the slightly more expensive measure passed by the House of Representatives, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, it would end a practice by private insurance companies of denying coverage to individuals with existing health problems.

Both the Senate and House measures would require nearly all Americans to purchase some form of insurance, while lower-income Americans would receive help from federal government subsidies.

Cquote1.svg This is a victory because we have affirmed that the ability to live a healthy life in our great country is a right and not merely a privilege for the select few. Cquote2.svg

—Senator Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader

In remarks before the vote, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Democrat from Nevada, said opponents had done everything they could to prevent the vote from taking place.

Speaking to reporters, Reid and others hailed the vote as a victory and a major step toward providing millions more Americans with access to health care. “This is a victory because we have affirmed that the ability to live a healthy life in our great country is a right and not merely a privilege for the select few,” Reid said.

Reid and others including Robert Byrd, the 92-year-old Democrat from West Virginia, paid tribute to Senator Edward Kennedy, who died this past August after spending decades of his career in the Senate pursuing health care reform.

When casting his vote Byrd said, “Mr. President, this is for my friend Ted Kennedy. Aye.”

Victoria Reggie Kennedy, the widow of Senator Kennedy, watched the proceedings from the Senate visitor’s gallery, as did Representative John Dingell, Democrat from Michigan, who has been a long time advocate of health care reform and who sponsored and introduced the House version of the health care reform bill.

In the final hours of debate on the Senate bill, Republicans asserted it would be ineffective and add sharply to the U.S. budget deficit.

Cquote1.svg Mr. President, this is for my friend Ted Kennedy. Aye. Cquote2.svg

—Senator Robert Byrd

Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican from Alabama said of the bill, “This legislation may have a great vision, it may have a great idea about trying to make the system work better. But it does not. These are huge costs [and] it’s not financially sound.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed to defeat the bill when the Senate reconvenes in January saying, “This fight is not over. This fight is long from over. My colleagues and I will work to stop this bill from becoming law.”

Senator Olympia Snowe, a moderate Republican from Maine who helped approved the Senate Finance Committee‘s version of health care reform, the America’s Healthy Future Act, earlier in the year and who remarked she may not vote on the final bill, said, “I was extremely disappointed,” noting that when the Democrats reached their needed 60 votes to overcome a filibuster, “there was zero opportunity to amend the bill or modify it, and Democrats had no incentive to reach across the aisle.”

Ahead are difficult negotiations with the House of Representatives to craft a final bill President Obama would sign into law. These talks, which will formally get under way early in the new year, will take place amid anger among many liberal House Democrats the Senate bill failed to contain a government-run public health insurance option.

Cquote1.svg This fight is not over. This fight is long from over. My colleagues and I will work to stop this bill from becoming law. Cquote2.svg

—Senator Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader

Members of the House Progressive Caucus have vowed to fight to keep this public option in any final legislation that emerges, along with other provisions they say are needed to protect lower and middle-income Americans and hold insurance companies accountable.

In a statement, the Democratic chairmen of three key House committees said while there are clear differences between House and Senate bills, both will bring fundamental health care coverage to millions who are currently uninsured.

Obama administration officials have been quoted as saying they anticipate negotiations on a final bill would not be complete until after the President’s State of the Union Address in January, and could slip even later into the new year.

Cquote1.svg If passed, this will be the most important piece of social policy since the Social Security Act in the 1930s, and the most important reform of our health care system since Medicare passed in the 1960s. Cquote2.svg

—President Barack Obama

President Obama issued a statement to the press in the State Dining Room in the White House saying that the vote is “legislation that brings us toward the end of a nearly century-long struggle to reform America’s health care system.”

He also pointed out the bill’s strengths, noting, “The reform bill that passed the Senate this morning, like the House bill, includes the toughest measures ever taken to hold the insurance industry accountable. Insurance companies will no longer be able to deny you coverage on the basis of a preexisting condition. They will no longer be able to drop your coverage when you get sick. No longer will you have to pay unlimited amounts out of your own pocket for the treatments you need. And you’ll be able to appeal unfair decisions by insurance companies to an independent party.”

He also noted how historic the bill is, saying, “If passed, this will be the most important piece of social policy since the Social Security Act in the 1930s, and the most important reform of our health care system since Medicare passed in the 1960s.”

Obama noted the potential social impact, saying, “It’s the impact reform will have on Americans who no longer have to go without a checkup or prescriptions that they need because they can’t afford them; on families who no longer have to worry that a single illness will send them into financial ruin; and on businesses that will no longer face exorbitant insurance rates that hamper their competitiveness.”

Obama afterwards made phone calls to various Senators and other people, including Victoria Kennedy and David Turner of Little Rock, Arkansas. Mr. Turner had his health insurance rescinded in January of last year, after his insurance company went back into his record and alleged that he failed to disclose his full medical record at the time he applied for coverage. Turner was First Lady Michelle Obama’s guest during her husband’s speech to a joint session of Congress on health care reform back in September.


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Two killed, 47 injured in coach crash in Cornwall, England

Two killed, 47 injured in coach crash in Cornwall, England

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

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Two people have been killed and 47 people have been injured as the result of a coach crash in Cornwall, England. The vehicle, which was carrying 48 passengers as well as the driver, were travelling back from a journey to the village of Mousehole to see Christmas lights. The accident occurred at 2215 GMT yesterday in the village of Townshend, not far from the town of Hayle. Road conditions at the time were icy, which may explain why the accident occurred. The first police car that arrived at the scene lost control on the icy road and crashed into the already overturned coach. The two officers in the car were uninjured, however the earlier crash had caused the deaths of two women. One of them died at the scene of the accident and the other was later killed as a result of the injuries suffered. 47 people were injured, five of them seriously.

The sequence of events that is believed to have happened, according to Devon and Cornwall Constabulary, is that the coach went off the road, collided with a tree, going through a hedge before finally overturning, causing the vehicle to end up on its side. 60-year-old Ann Ellis, who comes from the village of Illogan in Cornwall, was physically involved in the crash. Desribing her experience of this incident, she said: “All I can remember is a big bang and we just went over. I got trapped under somebody else and there was someone on top of me. It was difficult to breathe but two gentlemen dragged me out. I was shaken, really shaken. I think we all were. It was horrific.”

Cquote1.svg I was shaken, really shaken. I think we all were. It was horrific. Cquote2.svg

—Ann Ellis

Derek Smith, lives near where the accident occurred. He said that “[w]e were just going to bed when we heard a knock on the kitchen door. She was covered in mud and had no shoes or socks on and was shaking as she stood there. I could hear this commotion going on.

Townshend, Cornwall, England

She said to ring the police and ambulance as their coach had turned over and there were 50 people in it and some of them were injured. My wife rang 999 and the lady was in a real panic. We gave her some socks and boots straightaway because she was freezing as she had nothing on her feet.”

75-year-old Charles Parker, who is living in St. Agnes in the county, was also injured in the accident, suffering injuries to his leg and his head. “The roads were so icy,” he explained. “I heard a cracking noise and all of a sudden we had turned over. I remember later being helped out of the coach through a window. We were close to a house and they took most of the people in there. Then helicopters turned up. It was very frightening.”

Inspector Matthew Shaw, who comes from Devon and Cornwall Constabulary, explained “[i]t seems from initial investigations that the coach has slipped on ice. The road is covered in a sheet of ice, it’s treacherous, it’s difficult to even walk down there.” The amount of time taken to transport the injured passengers to a hospital was four hours.



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Mexican helicopter crash leaves soldier dead

Mexican helicopter crash leaves soldier dead

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

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This file photo shows a similar aircraft performing forestry work in California.
Image: Akradecki.

A soldier identified as flight mechanic Sgt. Dan Neftali Botello Ramos has died after the helicopter he was travelling in crashed yesterday in Guerrero, Mexico. Two other airmen among the ten on board have been hospitalised with serious injuries after the Bell 212 went down.

A defense department statement said that the helicopter was conducting operations related to “the permanent campaign against drug trafficking” and attributed the accident to a mechanical problem without elaborating. An officer and six other soldiers received less severe injuries in the crash.

President Felipe Calderon has commanded the military to provide assistance to the dead man’s family. The accident occurred near the town of Vallecitos de Zaragoza, which is roughly 50 kilometers (30 miles) southwest of Ciudad Altamirano.



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Israeli forensic institute illegally harvested organs in the \’90s

Filed under: Archived,Crime and law,Health,Israel,Middle East — admin @ 5:00 am

Israeli forensic institute illegally harvested organs in the ’90s

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

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In an interview conducted in the year 2000, Dr Yehuda Hiss, former head of the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute near Tel Aviv, admitted that in the 90’s pathologists at the institute harvested the organs of Israeli soldiers, Israeli citizens, Palestinians, and foreign workers.

In 125 cases, Dr. Hiss and his subordinates removed organs, bones, and tissue without the permission of, and often against the wishes of, the families of the deceased.

Abu Kabir included a “museum of skulls” set up by Dr. Hiss that included the skulls of IDF soldiers that had been shot in the head. He has additionally been investigated for selling organs and falsifying testimony.

Hiss was fired from his position as Director of the institute shortly after the courts became involved, but has since remained the Chief Pathologist at the Institute.

In the interview, Hiss claims that, “body parts were used by hospitals for transplant purposes — cornea transplants. They were sent to public hospitals.” Facts from the interview were later confirmed by an Israeli military statement on the issue which claimed, “This activity ended a decade ago and does not happen any longer.”

What is still not confirmed, however, is whether or not the Swedish newspaper, Aftonbladet, was correct when it claimed that Israeli soldiers were stealing organs from both dead and living Palestinians, and whether or not Israelis were intentionally killing Palestinians for their organs. In the controversial article published in Aftonbladet, it was alleged that Israeli soldiers stole the organs of Palestinians after killing them. Israeli officials have vigorously denied the charge that Palestinians are being killed for their organs and have called the article in Aftonbladet “anti-semitic”.



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Illinois high school girls basketball: Geneva wins Benet-Naperville North tournament

Illinois high school girls basketball: Geneva wins Benet-Naperville North tournament

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

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The Geneva High School girls basketball team defeated Glenbard West High School 68–41 last Tuesday, winning the championship title in the tournament hosted by Benet Academy and Naperville North High School. It was the Geneva Vikings’ 41st consecutive regular season victory since the 2007–2008 season, bringing their undefeated record up to 14–0.

After the first half of the game, in which both teams had trouble with the other’s zone defense and had little offensive flow, the Glenbard West Hilltoppers brought their score to within 22–28 in the third quarter, forcing the Vikings to call a timeout. After eight straight possessions in which they scored at least two points each, the Vikings had a 19–7 run that brought their score up to 47–29 before the end of the third quarter.

“We seem to be more of a second half team — that’s when we come out and put pressure on people,” said Viking Kat Yelle. Senior center Lauren Wicinski scored 17 out of her 21 points in the second half after spending a lot of time on the bench in the first half due to foul trouble. The second half also saw an emphasis on unselfish passing; of the Vikings’ 17 field goals in the second half, ten came on assists.

Geneva will play it’s next game against arch-rival and host Batavia High School on January 2 at 6 pm.


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Closure of Guantánamo prison will take longer than expected

Closure of Guantánamo prison will take longer than expected

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

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Detainees at Camp X-Ray in January 2002

The New York Times said on Wednesday that the Obama administration may not be able to close the United States military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba and transfer terrorism suspects held there until 2011 at the earliest.

The administration announced plans last week to acquire an under-utilized state prison in the Midwest state of Illinois to house up to 100 Guantánamo detainees. However, The Times says the United States Bureau of Prisons does not have enough money to pay the state for the facility, which would cost about $150 million.

The report says the White House approached lawmakers on the United States House of Representatives Appropriations Committee several weeks ago about adding $200 million to the 2010 military spending bill for the project. Democratic leaders refused, defeating the request due to the project’s controversial nature.

The administration wants to buy the prison as part of efforts to fulfill President Obama’s order to close Guantánamo Bay. The president has acknowledged that the January 2010 deadline for closing the prison will not be met. The plan to close the prison and house the terror suspects in the U.S. has been met with fierce opposition by some members of Congress. Republicans say the closure of the prison and moving of inmates to American soil will make the country a greater target for terrorists.

The White House contends that the current prison at Guantánamo has become a terrorist recruiting symbol. It also pointed out that it would save taxpayers money as the Department of Defense currently pays $150 million to run the Guantánamo prison, while it will only cost $75 million to run the prison in Illinois.

However, some moderate Democrats have also raised concerns, Representative Loretta Sanchez, Democrat from California cited security concerns saying “[p]articularly making something on U.S. soil an attraction for Al Qaeda and terrorists to go after — inciting them to attack something on U.S. soil — that’s a problem, and we need to think it through.”

Senator Jim Webb, a Democrat from Virginia recently stated that suspects of terrorism “[d]o not belong in our country, they do not belong in our courts, and they do not belong in our prisons.”

Guantánamo, which now has some 200 inmates, has been harshly criticized by human rights advocates for the alleged abuse and mistreatment of detainees.

The Times says the Obama administration will not have another opportunity to secure funding for the Thomson Correctional Center until Congress takes up a supplemental appropriations bill for the war in Afghanistan. The bill is expected to be finished in March or April.

However, the newspaper says the administration is more focused on securing funding for the Illinois facility in appropriations bills for the 2011 fiscal year, which will not be debated until late 2010. Officials told the Times it could take eight to 10 months to install new fencing, towers, cameras and other security upgrades to the Thomson Correctional Center before any transfers take place.



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American actor Arnold Stang dies at age 91

American actor Arnold Stang dies at age 91

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

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American actor Arnold Stang, famous for playing the voice of cartoon character Top Cat, has died at the age of 91 from pneumonia. JoAnne Stang, his wife of 60 years, announced that he had died in Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Massachusetts, United States on Sunday.

Some of his famous roles included being the sidekick to Frank Sinatra in The Man with the Golden Arm, a film released in 1955, and It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, a film that was released in 1963. In addition to these roles, Stang voiced the lead character in Top Cat, a television cartoon which ran from 1961 to 1962.

On Tuesday, JoAnne Stang said about her husband: “He was really unique, because he could perform in any role, comedy or drama, he just loved it all. He always thought of himself just as an actor, not any particular kind of actor, but just an actor who would play whatever he was asked to play. I remember how smart he was, and how hardworking, and how disciplined he was, no matter what the role.”



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