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February 3, 2010

Wikinews Shorts: February 3, 2010

Wikinews Shorts: February 3, 2010 – Wikinews, the free news source

Wikinews Shorts: February 3, 2010

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A compilation of brief news reports for Wednesday, February 3, 2010.

Christmas day bomber cooperating

Photo by US Marshal Service.
Image: E54987.

The Nigerian man accused of trying to blow up a Detroit-bound jetliner on Christmas day with hidden explosives is cooperating with investigators and providing fresh intelligence after the U.S. enlisted the help of his family, an administration official said. His family persuaded him to cooperate.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab has been providing information to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents questioning him, the official told reporters on the condition of anonymity.

The official declined to provide details on what kind of information Abdulmutallab was providing.

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Fire in Hyderabad hospital; 1 dead

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Somajiguda
Somajiguda on the map of India

One person died and 41 were injured, including three nurses who are critically injured, in a major fire at Park Healthcare Hospital in Somajiguda, a suburb of the Indian city Hyderabad, on Tuesday morning.

The fire engulfed a major portion of the five-storey hospital’s first floor, along with some medical equipment and furniture on the other floors.

City police commissioner A K Khan said that a criminal case had been registered against the hospital management. “It is also being determined whether safety standards were followed by the hospital,” he said.

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China begins urgent sweep for tainted milk

Stripped shelves in a supermarket in China as a result of the contamination (September 2008)
Image: Kollision.

Chinese authorities say they are preparing to launch a crackdown on melamine-laced milk after the scandal over tainted products, which made hundreds of thousands of children ill two years ago and damaged China’s brand reputation overseas, resurfaced.

China has dispatched inspectors to sixteen provinces to urge local governments to thoroughly investigate cases concerning food safety.

The decision comes after milk products tainted with the industrial chemical melamine were removed from sale in Shanghai and the provinces of Shaanxi, Shandong, Liaoning and Hebei, the state-run Xinhua News Agency said.

Related news

  • “Contaminated baby’s milk induces wave of child illness in China” — Wikinews, September 22, 2008

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Karachi violence escalates, section 144 imposed

Map of Karachi, Sindh province

At least twenty-six people have been killed in Karachi, Pakistan after four days of ethnic killings, according to police officials. The officials said that nine people were killed on Monday in the city’s Orangi western neighbourhood, which has a majority ethnic Pashtun community.

The Sindh government has awarded special powers to the Pakistan Rangers under Section 5 of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 and imposed Section 144 in the limits of 26 police stations for a month.

At least forty people were killed as ethnic clashes erupted across the city in early January.Home minister of Sindh province, Dr Zulfiqar Mirza has called upon the Army to restore peace and order.

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Poland issues EU warrant for Swede suspected of stealing Auschwitz sign

Poland issues EU warrant for Swede suspected of stealing Auschwitz sign

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The sign has been replaced by a replica.

A court in Poland has issued a European Union arrest warrant for 34-year-old Anders Högström, the alleged mastermind involved in the theft of the infamous Arbeit Macht Frei sign from Auschwitz. The sign, later recovered cut into three pieces, was stolen from the entrance of the death camp in December last year. Five Poles have been arrested for the theft of the sign, that translates to “work sets you free”. The wrought-iron sign weighs 40kg and is five metres long, and was unscrewed and ripped from above the gate of the infamous site in the heart of Poland. The theft caused outrage around the world, in particular in Poland and Israel.

Spokesman for the court of the Polish city Krakow, Rafał Lisak, said that the Swedish national is suspected of “incitement to commit theft of a cultural treasure”. Höngström is the founder of a Swedish neo-Nazi group, National Socialist Front. However, he later quit the group and reeled against the extreme right-wing movement. The warrant issued for him obliges any European Union constituent country to arrest the suspect and return him to Poland for a trial.

Between 1940 and 1945, over one million Jews and other minority groups were killed in the gas chambers of, or died of starvation in, the three camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau.


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NATO oil tanker torched in Pakistan

NATO oil tanker torched in Pakistan – Wikinews, the free news source

NATO oil tanker torched in Pakistan

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Pakistan
Other stories from Pakistan
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Location of Pakistan

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The area east of the Khyber pass (pictured) in Pakistan has seen very frequent attacks.
Image: Agnte.

Militants in north-west Pakistan blew up a fuel tanker carrying supplies to NATO forces in Afghanistan on Monday. More than ten armed men shot at the tanker and fired a rocket at the vehicle outside Peshawar city, and the driver and a passenger were injured in the attack, although no loss of life is reported.

Head of the north-western city’s administration, Sahibzada Anees, said “About ten armed people fired at a tanker carrying petrol for NATO forces and later lobbed a rocket at the vehicle, which set alight some 78,000 litres (17,000 gallons) of fuel”.

According to witnesses, the tanker was quickly in flames. The residents of the areas were successfully rescued by police and fire fighters and the blaze was brought under control. Police have launched a search operation in nearby areas, although with no success.

Nobody has yet claimed responsibility for the attack. Oil tankers and trucks bringing goods from port city of Karachi for allied forces battling the Taliban in Afghanistan have been regularly attacked. About 80% of supplies destined for the more than 113 thousand NATO troops in Afghanistan have to pass through Pakistan. The coalition forces bring 70% of supplies through Pakistan every month, from a total of two thousand truckloads.



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IPCC chief refuses to apologize for glacier error

IPCC chief refuses to apologize for glacier error

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Climate change

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Rajendra K. Pachauri, the chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) at a conference in Vienna, 22 June 2009.
Image: Evstafiev.

The chief of the UN climate change panel, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, admitted on Wednesday that a mistake in a 2007 report had raised questions about the body’s credibility, in an interview with The Guardian.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) landmark Fourth Assessment Report in 2007 said the probability of glaciers in the Himalayas “disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high.”

There is no evidence the claim was published in a peer-reviewed journal, thus calling into question its credibility.

Cquote1.svg “I think this (glacier) mistake has certainly cost us dear, there’s no question about it,” Cquote2.svg

—Rajendra Pachauri

He refused to apologize in the interview with The Guardian for the unverified claim. “I think this (glacier) mistake has certainly cost us dear, there’s no question about it,” Pachauri told the newspaper. “Everybody thought that what the IPCC brought out was the gold standard and nothing could go wrong.”You can’t expect me to be personally responsible for every word in a 3,000 page report,” he said.

The IPCC issued a statement expressing regret for the mistake, but Pachauri said, “I don’t do too many populist things, that’s why I’m so unpopular with a certain section of society,” defending his refusal for an apology.



Related news

  • “IPCC claims about Himalayan glaciers were not based on science” — Wikinews, January 22, 2010

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Ex-minister says UK Cabinet was \”misled\” about legality of Iraq war

Ex-minister says UK Cabinet was “misled” about legality of Iraq war

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Iraq
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In this 2009 file photo, Clare Short is speaking at a rally in Birmingham.
Image: Faizan Bhat.

Clare Short, the United Kingdom’s then-Secretary of State for International Development, appeared before the Iraq Inquiry yesterday, and told the panel that the Cabinet was “misled” about the Iraq War’s legality prior to the 2003 invasion. The three-hour session was held in the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London’s City of Westminster.

Short, an outspoken critic of the war, retired from the cabinet to become an independent MP two months before the invasion. She claimed to have been “conned” into staying on despite her doubts about the war and told the inquiry that the Cabinet, of which she was a part, was not a “decision-making body”, and that Parliament was simply a “rubber stamp”.

Lord Goldsmith’s decision

She also claimed that Tony Blair “and his mates” had acted “on a wing and a prayer”, having “leaned on” then-Attorney General for England and Wales Lord Peter Goldsmith, pressurising him to change his mind about the invasion. She did, however, admit that she had no evidence to support these claims. Goldsmith gave a verdict that the war would be legal only shortly before the invasion, having firmly held the belief that it would not be without a further United Nations Security Council resolution.

Short was applauded as she concluded her testimony, in which she said that she was “shocked” at how a definitive statement about the legality of the war circulated only as late as March 17, 2003 — just three days before the invasion began — that this state of shock led her to be “jeered at” by other ministers. Said statement, according to Short, contained no hint that Goldsmith had previously had any doubts whatsoever.

She said any discussion of legality was stopped at the same pre-war cabinet meeting. She accused Blair of standing in the way of such discussion, and said, “Everything that’s happened since makes me know that there was deliberate blockage and there were also all sorts of secret, private meetings”, and that normal cabinet communications were “closed down” as the invasion approached. “There was never a meeting that said ‘what’s the problem, what are we trying to achieve, what are our military, diplomatic options?’ We never had that coherent discussion … never.”

Cquote1.svg I think [Goldsmith] misled the cabinet. He certainly misled me, but people let it through Cquote2.svg

—Clare Short

Goldsmith responded to her inquiries about the lateness of this statement by saying “it takes me a long time to make my mind up”, and that he had made his decision after consulting foreign legal professionals. She said that Goldsmith’s “doubts and his changes of opinion” made her “think for the attorney general to come and say there’s unequivocal legal authority to go war was misleading.” She said that “I think he misled the cabinet. He certainly misled me, but people let it through”.

Cquote1.svg [I]f we got a Palestinian state and a UN lead on reconstruction, that will be much better Cquote2.svg

—Clare Short

She claimed that the government, having failed to secure a required UN resolution, started the “untrue” rumour that France had vetoed it. She said that she “believed them at the time. You don’t want to disbelieve your Prime Minister in the run-up to war and you want to believe the leader of your party. You want to be loyal”.

UN involvement

When asked why she had not resigned earlier than she did, she said that she “was conned” by Blair’s promises of a strong role for the UN in the reconstruction of Iraq, as well as more attempts to resolve the conflict about Israel. She said that she “thought that if we got a Palestinian state and a UN lead on reconstruction, that will be much better … I took a lot of flak for it. I still think, if we had done those things, it would have been a heck of a lot better.” She says that this lack of UN involvement in the post-invasion reconstruction effort was her main reason for retiring from the government.

Short said that she “was seeing the intelligence” about Iraq at the earlier stages of preparation for an invasion, but that in late 2002 “asked for a briefing… This just didn’t come and didn’t come… it became clear there was some sort of block on communications.” Apparently, the intelligence reports she say said that “Saddam Hussein didn’t have nuclear [weapons] … [he] would if he could but he was nowhere near it. It wasn’t saying there was some new imminent threat”.

Tony Blair, 9/11, and post-war planning

Short asserted Blair’s evidence, given to the inquiry on Friday, was “historically inaccurate”, since “[t]here was no evidence of any kind of an escalation of threats” after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre. This is contrary to Blair’s claims that attitudes towards the threat Iraq posed “changed dramatically” after the attacks, and that Saddam Hussein “threatened not just the region but the world”.

Cquote1.svg We could have gone more slowly and carefully and not have had a totally destabilised and angry Iraq Cquote2.svg

—Clare Short

She said, “We could have gone more slowly and carefully and not have had a totally destabilised and angry Iraq. The American people were misled to suggest that al-Qaeda had links to Saddam Hussein. Everybody knows that is untrue – that he had absolutely no links, no sympathy, al-Qaeda were nowhere near Iraq until after the invasion and the disorder that came from that.” Short criticised the military for not meeting the obligations laid out for them, as an occupying force, by the Geneva Convention.

Background and response

Lord Boyce, the former head of the British armed forces, said in an earlier hearing that officials from the Department for International Development — Short’s department — let their opposition to the war prevent them from cooperating fully with the rest of the government immediately after the invasion. Alistair Campbell, Blair’s former spokesman, said that Short had been “difficult to handle” in the run-up to the invasion, and that there was fear that she may leak pieces of information that she did not agree with. Lord Andrew Turnbull, former Secretary of the Cabinet, however, said that these concerns were unfair, and that minority voices had been unfairly pushed to the sidelines.

Hilary Benn, who took over Short’s post after her resignation, is scheduled to give evidence before the inquiry today.



Related news

  • “Tony Blair tells Iraq Inquiry he would invade again” — Wikinews, January 29, 2010
  • “UK Attorney General Lord Goldsmith admits to changing mind over Iraq war” — Wikinews, January 27, 2010
  • “UK cabinet minister Jack Straw ignored advice that Iraq invasion was illegal” — Wikinews, January 27, 2010

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Concorde crash trial begins

Concorde crash trial begins – Wikinews, the free news source

Concorde crash trial begins

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Aviation

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Concorde, a joint Anglo-French project, withdrawn from service in 2003.

A French court Tuesday launched the trial of five men and a US airline over the Concorde disaster. 113 people were killed when the supersonic jet struck a hotel near Paris in 2000.

The prosecution case agrees with the facts set out in the final accident report, which, by international law, was written from an entirely different investigation and thus cannot be introduced in court. It alleges that improper maintenance of an American airliner and failure to detect design flaws with the Concorde were responsible for the Air France jet’s crash, to an extent that makes the six defendants guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

Both official investigations found that a Continental Airlines McDonnell Douglas DC-10 had taken off five minutes before Concorde with an improvised repair. A metal strip had been machined by mechanics instead of using a certified part. This strip dropped off the aircraft, leaving a 43cm (17in) piece of titanium on the runway.

Prosecutors and investigators concluded that as Concorde struck the part on takeoff a tyre burst and ripped apart, sending chunks of rubber flying. A large piece slammed into the underside of the wing hard enough to trigger a pressure wave that ruptured the fuel tank. Damaged wiring is believed to have been responsible for igniting this, creating a trailing fireball as the aircraft took off bound for New York.

Concorde’s pilots attempted to circle round for an emergency landing back at Charles de Gaulle Airport, but instead struck a hotel approximately three kilometres (two miles) from the airport. All 109 passengers and crew were on board, as well as four people in the hotel, were killed. The majority of victims were Germans heading to meet up with a cruise liner for a Caribbean holiday, the remainder of the 100 passengers were from Austria.

John Taylor, the Continental mechanic who is alleged to have built and fitted the nonstandard part, and his boss Stanley Ford, have been targeted for prosecution. Both individuals and their employer deny responsibility. Also charged are two members of the UK-French firm behind Concorde – Aérospatiale, who have since merged into Airbus parent EADS. Henri Perrier was head of testing for Concorde and the aircraft’s chief engineer was Jacques Herubel; both have been charged for a perceived failure to locate and rectify design flaws with Concorde. The former chief of civil aviation, Claude Frantzen, is facing charges on the same basis.

Each individual can be imprisoned for up to three years and fined up to €50,900 (US$71,000. Continental face a fine of up to €375,000 (US$520,000). The airline’s defence claims the part on the runway had no role to play in the accident. TV channel Canal+ previously suggested the investigations and prosecution were a coverup of more serious issues with Concorde.

Cquote1.svg Nothing was allowed to disturb Air France […] orders came from very high in the administration Cquote2.svg

—Michel Bourgeois, air accident investigator

The broadcast alleged Concorde erupted into flames long before getting as far down the runway as the strip. Continental’s lawyers say they can call 28 witnesses to give similar evidence and told the Le Parisien that they would seek a dismissal of the charges today. The case opened with judge Dominique Andreassier reading out every one of the 113 names of the deceased, followed by the charges against the six, in the court in Pontoise.

There are 80,000 pages of documents to be presented at trial, and 543 items are to be presented as evidence. The case is split into 90 volumes and is expected to take four months. The judge cautioned against losing touch with the human aspect of what is anticipated to be a very technical trial. The estimated cost is expected to be in excess of 3 million Euro (US$4.2 million).

The investigation found some contributory causes that can be linked to Air France. Four days before the crash an important tyre spacer was left off the Concorde by mechanics, and the plane was overloaded. The airport itself was also criticised for having cancelled a scheduled sweep of the runway. Air France lawyer Fernand Garnault, an aviation specialist, was adamant that Continental did play the main role in the accident; “[i]t is clear that a piece from a Continental plane fell on the runway. It is clear that the origin of the accident was this. This is my personal conviction and of course that of Air France.”

Few families are represented at the trial, because all the passengers struck a deal with Air France to accept compensation in exchange for waiving their right to take legal action, leaving only those killed in the hotel and the crew. However, French group Fenvac are representing the families, and spokesman Stephane Gicquel said that the families would be observing keenly, that “[t]his tragedy is part of their personal history and of their family history.”

Captain Christian Marty’s family’s lawyer, Roland Rappaport, said outside court today that, “[t]his accident should have been avoided. The weaknesses of the Concorde had been known for twenty years,” while Air France’s lawyers stated the inquiries had not located any evidence to suggest that Concorde had indeed encountered problems before reaching the metal debris.

Daniel Soulez Larivière, who represents Frantzen, said, “this accident was unforeseeable,” and the original investigations should have agreed. Concorde suffered a string of similar incidents in the 1970s including one in Washington that came close to triggering a fire. “They [the authorities] wanted to protect Concorde, the image of France that it projected. They should have stopped service then [1979],” said Olivier Metzner, representing Continental. The plane was not grounded until after the accident, although it returned to service before being retired in 2003.

Metzner told the court that former French air accident investigator Michel Bourgeois was to be a key witness. Bourgeois recently alleged that authorities were indeed hiding flaws with the airliner, saying “[n]othing was allowed to disturb Air France […] orders came from very high in the administration,” and that investigations into Concorde’s safety were shut down by the government.



Related news

  • “Continental Airlines to face charges over Air France Concorde disaster” — Wikinews, July 3, 2008

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At least seven dead after bomb blast in Northwestern Pakistan

At least seven dead after bomb blast in Northwestern Pakistan

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Pakistan
Other stories from Pakistan
  • 18 February 2015: Pakistan releases 173 Indian prisoners at Wagah border
  • 18 December 2014: Nation mourns, world condemns Taliban attack on Pakistan army school
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According to reports, at least eight people, including three United States military personnel and four schoolgirls, were killed earlier today by a roadside bomb near a girls’ school in north-western Pakistan. Another 62 were injured. The incident occurred in a village in the Lower Dir district, near Swat Valley.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the US troops were travelling to the area in a convoy to attend the opening ceremony of the school for girls when the explosion occurred.

In a statement, the US embassy in Pakistan commented that “three Americans were killed and two injured in a terrorist bomb explosion at about 11:20am today in the Lower Dir district of Pakistan’s federally-administered tribal areas.

“The Americans were US military personnel in Pakistan to conduct training at the invitation of the Pakistan Frontier Corps. They were in Lower Dir to attend the inauguration ceremony of a school for girls that had recently been renovated with US humanitarian assistance,” it added.

Mohammed Wakeel, the chief doctor at the local hospital, confirmed that some of the dead were schoolgirls, saying: “We have four dead bodies [in the hospital]. They are schoolgirls aged ten to fifteen. We have received 65 injured; most of them are girls.”

Rema Bibi, a sixth-grader, was in the school when the explosion happened. She recalled her experiences, stating that “We were all busy with classwork when the a part of the roof collapsed,” as quoted by the Los Angeles Times.

The Taliban, meanwhile, claimed responsibility for the attack. “We claim responsibility for the blast,” said a Taliban spokesman, Azam Tariq.

The US does not officially have stationed troops in Pakistan, although there a few personnel are there. Their duties are primarily to train and advise Pakistani security forces over tactics against local rebel groups.



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Actor Justin Mentell dies in road accident at age 27

Actor Justin Mentell dies in road accident at age 27

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Obituaries
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  • 4 June 2015: Charles Kennedy, former Liberal Democrats leader, dies aged 55
  • 30 May 2015: U2 tour manager, Dennis Sheehan dies in Los Angeles hotel room at 68
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Justin Mentell in 2007.

Actor Justin Mentell, known for his role in US television drama Boston Legal, has died as the result of a road traffic accident aged 27.

Iowa County Sheriff’s Department, who confirmed the death, stated that Mentell was driving without wearing a seatbelt when he crashed his 4 X 4 vehicle into two trees placed on an embankment. He was killed in the collision at 0300 local time.

One of the roles that Justin Mentell played was Garrett Wells in Boston Legal in 2005 and in 2006. William Shatner, who also appeared in the programme, paid tribute to the actor on his Twitter page on Wednesday. He wrote: “I’m deeply saddened to hear about Justin Mentell. There’s no telling how far up the ladder he may have climbed. My sympathies to his family.”

One of the other appearences that Mentell made was in 2009 film G-Force, where he played the role of Terrell.



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