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January 31, 2010

US government stops Haiti evacuations

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US government stops Haiti evacuations

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Sunday, January 31, 2010

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The US military has halted the evacuation of victims of the Haiti earthquake for medical care, reportedly due to uncertainty about who will pay for the costs.

A military official told the New York Times that flights to the US were stopped on Wednesday, as some hospitals didn’t want to receive the refugees.

“Apparently, some states were unwilling to accept the entry of Haitian patients for follow-on critical care. We manage air evacuation missions, but without a destination to fly to we can’t move anybody. If we don’t have permission to bring them, or they won’t take them in, we can’t fly the mission. It’s pretty simple,” US Transportation Command spokesman Capt Kevin Aandahl said yesterday. He did not say, however, which states specifically refused more evacuees.

The New York Times reports that five hundred victims of the quake have been treated in Florida so far. A spokesman for Floridian governor Charlie Crist, however, commented that he wasn’t aware of any hospitals in the state refusing to accept more evacuees. In a letter to US Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius earlier this week, however, the governor commented that “Florida’s healthcare system is quickly reaching saturation, especially in the area of high-level trauma care,” and asked for the National Disaster Medical System to be activated. That system is primarily used to help fund victims of domestic disasters.

A doctor in the earthquake-ravaged country, however, remarked that many of his patients could die if not airlifted soon. “We have 100 critically ill patients who will die in the next day or two if we don’t med-evac them,” said Doctor Green, chairman for the University of Miami’s Global Institute for Community Health and Development, to the Associated Press.

An earthquake, with a magnitude of 7.0, struck Haiti on January 12, killing as much as 200,000 people and largely destroying the capital Port-au-Prince; another million have been left without homes.



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Snow causes German travel woes

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Snow causes German travel woes

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Sunday, January 31, 2010

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Heavy snow combined with high winds has caused at least three deaths, with major travel disruption throughout much of Germany. Several motorways were closed, with long traffic jams on many others. As flights were delayed and rail travel cancelled, the police of North Rhine-Westphalia recorded over three hundred accidents, with a total of 42 injured people, during Friday night and into Saturday, with one death as a result of a man stepping out of his car and into the path of another after a motorway accident.

Cars were abandoned, and even the gritters were stranded. In the north of Germany, as much as 25cm of snow immobilised the transport network whilst police and other emergency services struggled to cope. Football matches have been cancelled across the entire nation, and ferry services to the Baltic Sea islands cancelled, with at least one completely cut off.

The Alster Lake in Hamburg froze over, prompting hundreds of citizens to skate across it, in what meteorologists say happens just once a decade.



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Roger Federer wins Australian Open

Roger Federer wins Australian Open – Wikinews, the free news source

Roger Federer wins Australian Open

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Sunday, January 31, 2010

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Roger Federer today defeated Andy Murray 6–3 6–4 7–6 (13–11) in the final of the Australian Open, winning the tournament for a fourth time. The Swiss Federer, who is ranked world number one in men’s tennis, has now won a total of sixteen Grand Slam titles.

Cquote1.svg I can cry like Roger, it’s just a shame I can’t play like him. Cquote2.svg

—Andy Murray

Going into the final Murray had won six of the ten matches where the two players had met before, and had hopes of becoming the first British man to win a Grand Slam title in 74 years. The last was Fred Perry, who won the US Open in 1936. In 2008 Federer and Murray met in the final of that tournament, where the Swiss player won an easy victory.

This time the match was closer, with Murray fighting hard in the third set and at one point leading it 5–2. Federer pulled back to force a tie break, where he eventually triumphed after 2 hours 41 minutes of play.

After the match an emotional Murray said: “I can cry like Roger, it’s just a shame I can’t play like him. I loved every minute of it and hopefully one time I can come back and win here.”

Federer said he was “over the moon” to win again, and congratulated Murray on his performance in the tournament, saying he was “too good a player not to win a Grand Slam.”

The Australian Open, held on hard courts at Melbourne Park, is the first Grand Slam tennis tournament of the year. The top prize is A$2,000,000. Federer previously won in 2004, 2006 and 2007.



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Man found dead after car crash in Shetland

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Man found dead after car crash in Shetland

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Sunday, January 31, 2010

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A man has been killed after a crash in Shetland, off the north-east coast of Scotland. 66-year-old James Leask, known locally as James Coal, was driving a rented Renault Clio on a countryside road between Laxfirth and Vatster when he crashed the vehicle.

According to the Northern Constabulary, the vehicle lost control due to icy road conditions. The burnt-out car was discovered by the police at approximately 0600 UTC on Saturday. A statement issued by Northern Constabulary says that an “extensive search in blizzard conditions” was initiated to find Leask.

A variety of techniques were used, including door-to-door enquiries, checks on public transport and a public appeal, a Coastguard helicopter finally discovered the body in some moorland at approximately 1600 UTC on Saturday. His dead body, which was found roughly 300 metres from where the vehicle was discovered, was partially covered by snow.

As far as the police service are concerned, the circumstances of the accident are not considered to be suspicious. A report is to be given to a Procurator Fiscal later on.


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Gaddafi loses African Union chair

Gaddafi loses African Union chair – Wikinews, the free news source

Gaddafi loses African Union chair

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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Gaddafi at last year’s African Union summit, where he became president.

File photo of Mutharika, who is taking the presidency.

Muammar Gaddafi, leader of Libya, has not been able to win his bid to stay as chairman of the African Union, losing out to Malawian president Bingu wa Mutharika, who was backed by several eastern and southern states.

Gaddafi used his final speech to highlight the need for political unity between African states. Libya has been chairing the African Union for the last year, and the job of chair was due to go to a southern African representative. However, Gaddafi wished to retain the presidency, which was backed by Tunisia, and had allegedly won over other countries by paying their membership fees.

The African Union summit, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, involved a speech to the African leaders by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, who called for the countries to strive for national union in Sudan, where the southern part of the country may secede from the north. In addition, the Secretary General highlighted the various achievements of the African Union. He said that they had “seen a sharp decrease in malaria and measles deaths across the continent, virtual gains in primary school enrolment [and] marked improvement in child health”, stating that “we must build on these successes and help spread them around the world”.

The three-day summit involves topics such as the state of affairs in Somalia, and a Senegalese proposal to resettle Haiti earthquake victims.


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China threatens to take action over US-Taiwan deal

China threatens to take action over US-Taiwan deal

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Sunday, January 31, 2010

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China has stated that they will cease all military exchanges with the United States in response to a US$6.4 billion (NT$204 billion) weapons deal with Taiwan going ahead. He Yafei, Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister, said that there would be a “serious negative impact” with regards to the relationship between the US and China.

Cquote1.svg …a seriously negative impact on many important areas of exchanges and co-operation between the two countries… Cquote2.svg

—He Yafei, Vice-Foreign Minister for China

Taiwan and mainland China have been ruled by separate governments since 1949, and neither recognize each other’s independence. In an effort to regain control of Taiwan, the government in Beijing has been open to running the island like Hong Kong, in a “one country, two systems” manner, but people in Taiwan support the status quo. The Chinese defense ministry said that they had “decided to suspend planned mutual military visits”. They “strongly demand” that the United States “respect the Chinese side’s interests,” calling for the proposal to be rejected.

China summoned the US Ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, to warn the US Government about the consequences, and to urge for cancellation of the deal. The Pentagon proposed the deal, that was first promised during the later days of the Bush administration, to Congress earlier.

Yafei issued a statement on the Foreign Ministry website stating that “the United States’ announcement of the planned weapons sales to Taiwan will have a seriously negative impact on many important areas of exchanges and co-operation between the two countries.”

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However, the US is defending itself. “Such sales contribute to maintaining security and stability across the Taiwan Strait”, Laura Tischler, spokeswoman for the US State Department, said.

Beijing is threatening to review co-operation on major issues and impose sanctions on companies selling arms, even though US companies are banned from selling arms to China as a result of the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, so it is not clear what the effect will be. A Chinese defence ministry spokesman said that the sanctions reflected the “severe harm” the deal would have. A foreign ministry spokesman stated that there would be “repercussions that neither side wishes to see” if the deal went ahead.

Taiwan, one of Asia’s few functioning democracies, welcomed the proposal, with Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou being quoted as saying “It will let Taiwan feel more confident and secure so we can have more interactions with China.”

The arms deal includes UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, communications equipment and MIM-104 Patriot missiles, but does not include the F-16 fighter jets that Taiwan’s military were looking for. The US is legally obliged to supply Taiwan with defensive weapons under the Taiwan Relations Act 1979.

In 2003, an unnamed US briefing stated that “[the US] would have to get involved if China tried to use coercion or force to unilaterally change the status of Taiwan”.

Related news

  • “Pentagon proposes Taiwanese arms sale” — Wikinews, January 30, 2010
  • “China enacts historic “anti-secession” law” — Wikinews, March 15, 2005

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January 30, 2010

Woman dies after being struck by fire truck hose in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Woman dies after being struck by fire truck hose in Cambridge, Massachusetts

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Saturday, January 30, 2010

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A woman has died after being struck by a hose attached to a fire truck in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Gertrude King, aged 82, came from the town of Somerville.

On Tuesday, she was standing on a median strip on a road to allow a fire truck to pass through. As the truck passed, the fire hose attached to it dislodged and was left dragging behind the vehicle; the elderly woman was struck in the knees by the trailing hose. According to Cambridge Police, Gertrude died in Massachusetts General Hospital on Thursday. Deputy Superintendent Jack Albert of Cambridge Police stated, “[w]e do know the hose is 200 feet long and we believe that the hose was completely off the truck and being dragged at the time it struck.”

An investigation is underway. The police have said that, at present, they are unable to determine the cause of the loose hose. Gertrude was said to be unable to get out of the way in time. Elanor Raniri, who lives in the same apartment complex as Gertrude, said, “[s]he was very special. It’s unbelievable. It’s hard to take in.”



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Toyota recalls up to 1.8 million automobiles

Toyota recalls up to 1.8 million automobiles

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Saturday, January 30, 2010

The automobile manufacturer Toyota has said that it will recall up to 1.8 million cars across Europe, after a problem with the accelerator pedal was discovered.

According to the firm, eight models were affected by the problem — AYGO, iQ, Yaris, Auris, Corolla, Verso, Avensis, and RAV4 — after it was discovered that the accelerator may become stuck in a depressed position, resulting in uncontrollable speeding.

On Thursday, Toyota said it would recall 1.1 million cars in the US; a day previous, it had suspended eight models from sales. Last week, 2.3 million cars in the US were recalled due to the pedal issues.

The chief executive of Toyota Motor Europe commented on the recall. “We understand that the current situation is creating concerns and we deeply regret it,” said Tadashi Arashima. The firm, however, noted that it wasn’t aware of any accidents resulted by the malfunctioning accelerator pedals, and not many pedal problem incidents were reported in Europe. “The potential accelerator pedal issue only occurs in very rare circumstances,” Arashima added.

The National Automobile Dealers Association, meanwhile, commented that Toyota showrooms could lose as much as US$2.47 billion worth of revenue due to the incident.

“Toyota veterans will likely hear the news with disbelief and keep faith in the brand, but new customers could definitely be scared off,” remarked Robert Rademacher, who is the president of the trade group ZDK, as quoted by Business Week. “This recall has a dimension which we’ve never seen before.”

There are concerns that the problem may result in reduced consumer trust in Toyota. Hans-Peter Wodniok, an analyst for Fairesearch GmbH & Co. in Germany, noted: “If this is a one-time event, huge as it is, Toyota may be forgiven. But if something happens again in the next months and years, they will have gambled away customer trust in Europe as well.”

Analysts for Morgan Stanley, however, said they believed Toyota would not suffer much from the incident. “The company’s actions to correct the situation are timely enough to avoid major brand damage,” they remarked in a note to investors.



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Ten confirmed dead, scores missing as overcrowded boat capsizes in India

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Ten confirmed dead, scores missing as overcrowded boat capsizes in India

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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Ten pilgrims, four of them women were drowned in the Godavari river in India today. This incident occurred when an overcrowded boat capsized in the Andhra Pradesh river, which is the second largest in the country.

A police officer said ten bodies had been discovered as yet, among the 70 people the boat was ferrying. Local people rescued 40 passengers; the remaining twenty are missing. There are four women and four children among the dead.

The mishap occurred near Upputeru in Narsapuram mandal of West Godavari district of the state. This section is located near the mouth of the river. The pilgrims were headed for Lakshmi Narasimha Swami temple (also called Antarvedi temple) in the district, on the other side of the river. Officials stated that the victims, most of whom were from fishermen families from the nearby villages, were headed for the temple for a holy dip, when the incident occurred.

Police sources claimed the boat was carrying in excess of its capacity, thus leading to the incident. Before capsizing, it had allegedly hit an empty boat.

The boat capsized at around 07:00 AM (local time) near Biyyaputeppa village, 190 kilometers from Vijaywada, said A Vani Prasad, the West Godavari District Collector.

Rescue and relief operations have been initiated by the government. Divers commenced the search for the missing people as special rescue boats arrived from Visakhapatnam and Rajhamundry.

Joint collector Ronald Ross was met by the angry relatives of the victims when he arrived at the scene. The former assured that all efforts were being put in the search for those missing.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, K Rosaiah expressed shock and sorrow over the incident. He ordered district minister-in-charge, Vatti Vasant Kumar to go to the scene and monitor relief and rescue work.



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Suicide bomber hits checkpoint in Pakistan

Suicide bomber hits checkpoint in Pakistan

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Saturday, January 30, 2010

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At least sixteen people, including two paramilitary soldiers, have been killed today, and 25 people injured, after a suicide bomber attack on a checkpoint in Khar, in the Bajaur region of north-west Pakistan, according to officials. Initial reports suggested that the bomber was in a vehicle, and a local official states that the bomber was wearing a suicide vest.

It is thought that the bomber detonated the vest when security forces stopped him for a search at the checkpoint, situated in a marketplace. After the attack, a curfew was imposed and all bazaars in the city shut down. The bomber was said to be headed towards military barracks before he was stopped.

Pakistani Prime Minister, Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani condemned the bombing, and expressed deep grief and sorrow, according to a statement issued by his office. He called for an immediate inquiry. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but government officials blame the Taliban.

Pakistani forces have been attacking militants in the Bajaur region, which, close to the Afghan border, is suspected to be the hiding place of Osama Bin Laden, as well as other al-Qaeda leaders. At least 24 suspected militants have been killed in the fighting, according to government officials.

In February 2009, the army announced that Bajaur had been cleansed of Taliban militants, following a ground offensive launched in October 2008. However, the situation is getting worse, with numerous attacks in the last six months.


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