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February 10, 2012

Wikinews Shorts: February 10, 2012

Wikinews Shorts: February 10, 2012 – Wikinews, the free news source

Wikinews Shorts: February 10, 2012

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A compilation of brief news reports for Friday, February 10, 2012.

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Russian scientists contact Lake Vostok

Lake Vostok cross-section.
Image: U.S. National Science Foundation.

Russian scientists say they have made first contact with Lake Vostok, one of several hundred subglacial lakes beneath the solid ice surface of Antarctica. It is estimated the lake has been separate from outside conditions for about 20 million years. Its size is comparable to Lake Ontario. The lake is located in the East Antarctic Ice Sheet with one of the lowest recorded temperatures on Earth.

Scientists believe the study of such subglacial lakes can provide them with an in-depth look into the White Continent’s history, as well as the possibility of finding live microorganisms that can live under extremely cold conditions.

Sources


New U.S. airport program provides speedy security check

The Transportation Security Administration is to allow 35 U.S. airports to operate a faster way to get through airport security screeing.

The new Pre-Check program allows air passengers to keep on their shoes, carry-on their computers, and wear a light jacket. Passengers participating in the Pre-Check program are screened before reaching the security point on their way to the plane. To participate in the program, travelers are required to be citizens of the U.S. and pass a background check.

The program is already in place at seven national airports, such as Atlanta, but is to expand to 28 more large city airports like New York‘s three airports, Chicago, and Boston this year.

Sources


Somalia’s rebels align with Al-Qaeda

Somalia’s Al-Shabaab formally allied itself with Al-Qaeda in separate audio and video announcements.

Rebel leader Mukhtar Abu al-Zubair praised Al-Qaeda’s leader and congratulated the organization on its victories in its wars with the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ayman al-Zawahiri, leader of Al-Qaeda, acknowledged the development and said, “The Arab region is slipping from America’s grip”.

UK defense think tank Royal United Services Institute, and US House committee on homeland security chairman Peter King, warn that Somali terrorists may try to strike inside both countries.

Sources



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German judge orders life sentence for nation\’s \’first Islamic-motivated terror attack\’

German judge orders life sentence for nation’s ‘first Islamic-motivated terror attack’

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Friday, February 10, 2012

Germany
Other stories from Germany
…More articles here
Location of Germany

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File photo of Frankfurt Airport, where the killings occurred.

A judge in Germany has ordered a man from Kosovo to be jailed for life for carrying out the “first Islamic-motivated terror attack” within the country. Arid Uka, 22, killed two US Air Force (USAF) men and wounded two more in a gun attack on their bus in Frankfurt. He was convicted today.

Uka, a Kosovan who has lived in Germany since he was four, worked in Frankfurt Airport‘s mail room. He became attracted to Islamic radicalism in a matter of months and would later cite a video appearing to show US soldiers raping women in Afghanistan as his motive for the attack. The video was not genuine.

Uka approached a USAF bus at the airport, asking a serviceman for a cigarette. Upon learning the group was bound for Afghanistan he fatally shot the man in the head before boarding the bus with a cry of Allahu Akbar (God is Great). There, he opened fire upon more USAF airmen, killing a second and injuring two others. The remaining eleven passengers escaped injury when his 9mm pistol jammed. The team had been loading their bus in front of the airport during a trip that began in the United Kingdom.

The fatalities were Nicholas Alden, 25, and Zachary Cuddeback, 21. Cuddeback had been the driver. Edgar Veguilla received arm and jaw wounds while Kristoffer Schneider was left requiring reconstructive surgery for his face. Uka’s weapon failed whilst pointed at a fifth man’s head. Schneider has ongoing pain, blindness in one eye, a missing section of skull and a face rebuilt from titanium. Schneider testified via videolink from a USAF base in his homeland.

Prosecution evidence included songs and text from Uka’s computer, phone, and music player. He was said to have radicalised alone through access to material such as the fake rape film, which was actually a scene from the anti-war movie Redacted.

In sentencing Uka for murder Judge Thomas Sagebiel agreed with prosecutors there were aggravating circumstances that amounted to “particularly severe guilt,” a move likely to prevent parole after fifteen years as is normally possible with German life sentences. It is the maximum possible sentence. The judge said the attack was aggravated by its ambush nature, that unarmed men were attacked and Alden was also attacked from behind, and that the wounds inflicted were serious.

Sagebiel also noted Uka’s refusal to explain how he acquired the gun. There was no drug or alcohol use involved, and no evidence Uka had been trained for the attack.

The killer described himself to the court as spending much of his time on computers, with few friends and a largely non-religious family background. He sat motionless with his eyes down and arms folded during the 70-minute verdict and sentencing hearing.

Uka had not joined any radical organisations and the defence claimed he was not a terrorist. Last year he blamed inaccurate propaganda for having influenced him and apologised, claiming not to understand his own actions. His defence lawyer, Michaela Roth, also sought to have his youth, admissions, and a troubled childhood considered.

Roth had suggested sexual abuse when Uka was six had led to a return of trauma when he saw the falsified rape video. This was undermined by psychiatric expert opinion, a report finding the abuse — and the video — of no “decisive relevance”. He was aware when he killed, and did not have a personality disorder although he was of “an immature personality,” it concluded.

“The attack was not only cowardly and perfidious, but also damaged Germany’s reputation,” said Sagebiel, telling victims and their relatives he “hoped that by our bringing the perpetrator to justice swiftly, you can find some comfort… and will not harbour any rancour towards Germany.” Alden’s brother Joe was in court and later said “justice has been served.”



Sister links

Wikipedia-logo.png 2011 Frankfurt Airport shooting on Wikipedia.

Sources

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Egypt struggles to recover tourism, investment

Egypt struggles to recover tourism, investment

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Friday, February 10, 2012

Egypt
Other stories from Egypt
  • 16 February 2015: Islamic State execute 21 Coptic Christians held in Libya
  • 27 January 2015: Greek singer Demis Roussos dies aged 68
  • 23 December 2014: Egypt opens Rafah border crossing for additional day
  • 16 December 2014: Freighter hits fishing boat in Gulf of Suez; thirteen dead
  • 24 November 2014: Sisi: Egypt willing to send stabilizing forces to future Palestinian State
…More articles here
Location of Egypt

A map showing the location of Egypt

To write, edit, start or view other articles on Egypt, see the Egypt Portal
Flag of Egypt.svg

The Egyptian pound is currently falling in value.
Image: Mabuhelwa.

Standard & Poor’s downgraded Egypt’s currency rating for the second time in four months based on the country’s shorfall in foreign reserves and shaky political transition. It’s the latest development for a nation facing mounting economic diffuclties.

Egypt’s foreign reserves fell by over 50 percent last year to about US$16 billion. Egypt has requested US$3.2 billion from the International Monetary Fund to bolster its reserves and prevent a devalation but that could take months.

Experts say that Egypt’s problem of attracting foreign investment and tourists, which are two sources that would increase reserves, has already caused the Egyptian pound to lose 1 percent of its value and if the country doesn’t solve the shortfall in foriegn currency, it could even lead to a further currency devaluation within the next two to three months.

The long-term solution is to restore tourism and foreign investments but both are suffering because of the continuing unrest.

Tourism

The Sphynx was said to guard the city of Thebes by killing anyone who couldn’t answer a riddle.
Image: Schreibkraft.

Egyptian tourism suffered this past year as a result of a revolution, a transition to an elected government, and continuing signs of unrest and instability.

The Egyptian Revolution began on January 25 last year and President Hosni Mubarak resigned over two weeks later on February 11. The protests have continued as Egyptians grew uncomfortable with the military’s control over the transition. At the start of this month, 79 people were killed at a soccer event in Port Said.

Tourism in Egypt accounted for US$12.5 billion in 2010 but fell 30 percent, or US$8.8 billion, in 2011, according to Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour, Egypt’s tourism minister. Tourism accounts for 11.6 percent of Egypt’s GDP.

Tourists visit The Valley of the Kings in Egypt. It holds 63 tombs and chambers for Pharaohs and nobles of the New Kingdom era. The valley is on the west bank of the Nile across from Thebes.
Image: Markh.

Last week, two U.S. female tourists and their Egyptian guide were abducted in the Sinai peninsula by Bedouin tribesmen and released shortly afterward.

The kidnapping took place in broad daylight on a busy road while the tourists travelled after a visit to St. Catherine’s Monastery. Masked tribesmen stopped their bus, abducted the tourists by gunpoint, and escaped into the mountains. Three other tourists of unknown nationalities were left on the bus. Local authorities organized a search which ended in negotiations with local Bedouin tribesmen. The Bedouin demanded the release of recently apprehended tribesmen, who had been detained for drug trafficking and robbery. The US hostages were released unharmed, Abdel Nour said.

As a location, Egypt boasts ancient pyramids, the Nile River, Biblical sites like Mount Sinai, museums, and Red Sea coastal resorts. Last year the number of tourists plunged from fifteen million people down to nine million, which is a 40 percent drop.

A camel resting between rides at the Pyramids in Egypt.
Image: Crashsystems.

The low amount of tourism to Egypt has also affected tourism in other countries. Stas Misezhnikov, Israeli tourism minister, said that Israeli tourism is down because the flow of tourism from Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh resort is “almost nonexistent right now.”

Investment

Egypt’s current investment climate is also severely hampered by the perception that the climate is not yet right for investment.

Mulyani Indrawati, managing director of the World Bank, said investors were not ready to get back into the markets of the Arab Spring countries until stability is restored but the situation has also been exacerbated by the precarious state of the regional and international economy.

Egypt’s domestic politics is threatening one of the country’s largest stable sources of foreign investment. The United States’ annual military aid to Egypt accounts for US$1.5 billion. U.S. politicians have threatened to withhold that aid package, however, because of an investigation into pro-democracy NGOs that involve 19 American citizens and more U.S. money. Senator John Kerry said the Egyptian investigation is a “dangerous game that risks damaging both Egypt’s democratic prospects and the U.S.-Egyptian bilateral relationship.”

Faiza Abou el-Naga, who is the Egyptian minister who distributes Egypt’s aid money, a former Mubarak loyalist who survived through the transition, and one of Egypt’s most visible female politicians, claims the NGOs are meddling in her country’s sovereignty. Both the Muslim parties who won the election and the generals in power are backing those hearings. Her argument that foreigners are meddling in Egypt also has a populist appeal.

The military government’s slow transition is also stalling foreign investments. Khaled bin Mohamed al-Attiya, foreign minister of Qatar, said a few weeks ago his government is holding back from making US$10 billion in investments because power has not been transferred to an elected government. The other Middle Eastern countries that pledged investments, such as Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates are also waiting.

The Egyptian government announced this week that it was investigating Yasser el-Mallawany, an investment banker with EFG Hermes based in Cairo, for allegedly paying soccer fans to riot at Port Said, a charge which el-Mallawany dismissed and attributed to gossip.

Meanwhile, investors within Egypt are looking for other investment vehicles such as real estate as they fear holding cash in a period of devaluation.

Florence Eid, who is an expert on Middle Eastern economies at U.K. Arabia Monitor, said the situation throughout the Middle East could get worse. “People are frustrated because the reasons that they revolted against to begin with, are still there,” Eid said. “Whoever said this was going to be smooth was naive.”

Related news

“One year on: Egyptians mark anniversary of protests that toppled Mubarak” — Wikinews, January 25, 2012

Sources

External links

Egyptian Pound (EGP) in US Dollar (USD)

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This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

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