News briefs:April 20, 2010
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From Wikinews, the free news source, this is the audio Wikinews brief for Tuesday, April 20th, 2010. I'm Dan Harlow and here are today's top stories:
A joint military operation by Iraqi and American forces has killed two senior al-Qaeda leaders in Iraq, according to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Malaki and US officials.
The leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, and the leader of an affiliate group, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, were killed by Iraqi military forces with assistance from US troops in a night-time attack on a safe house in Thar-Thar, in the province of Salaheddin, 50 miles west of Iraq's capital, Baghdad.
Al-Masri, along with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed in 2006, formed the first al-Qaeda cell in Baghdad, which have been responsible for many attacks since the US invasion of the country in 2003. Al-Baghdadi was the leader of an umbrella group, the Islamic State of Iraq, a group that is partly composed of radical Sunni militant groups.
The American commander of military forces in Iraq, General Raymond Odierno, said in a statement that "the death of these terrorists is potentially the most significant blow to al-Qaeda in Iraq since the beginning of the insurgency."
At least 24 people were killed in two separate suicide bombing attacks in Peshawar, the capital of the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan. In the more damaging of the two blasts, a suicide bomber attacked police officials who were guarding a protest rally against the frequent power cuts in the city. A schoolboy was the victim of the earlier and less damaging attack, which injured ten. These attacks take the death toll in the North-West Frontier Province to 73 in three days, after two blasts in the city of Kohat killed 49 people during the weekend.
A magnitude 5.2 earthquake hit the Western Australian mining town of Kalgoorlie-Boulder this morning.
It is the strongest earthquake in 50 years to hit the area. The Goldfields region of Western Australia is considered one of the more geologically stable regions of Australia, in comparison to the southwest corner of the state, which lies in a more geologically active zone.
Kalgoorlie is located 600 kilometres (370 miles) east of the capital — Perth — and is historically the largest gold producing centre of its type in Australia. Kalgoorlie is also the largest urban centre in the goldfields region, and has the largest number of buildings that would be vulnerable to such an earthquake.
Minor casualties and building damages have been reported, and the local miners and schoolchildren have been evacuated.
A Long Island, New York teen has been found guilty of murdering Ecuadorian immigrant Marcelo Lucero. The teen, 19-year-old Jeffrey Conroy, faces eight to 25 years in prison. The case exposed racial tensions in Long Island and received national media attention.
Lucero was attacked on the night of November 8, 2008 when he was approached by a group of people, beaten, then stabbed by Conroy.
Conroy was not convicted with murder, but rather manslaughter as a hate crime, however, he was also convicted of three other counts of gang assault for other racially charged beatings on Long Island.
Toyota has agreed to pay a record $16.4 million fine to the US government over allegations that the automaker concealed defects in its vehicles.
US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood made the announcement Monday, saying in an e-mailed statement that "Toyota has accepted responsibility for violating its legal obligations to report any defects promptly." Toyota has still not admitted any wrongdoing, and said that it disagreed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which levied the fine against Toyota.
Toyota is still at risk of lawsuits from those affected by cars that crashed due to a safety defect in the accelerator pedal. Numerous such lawsuits have been filed, and analysts said that the total cost of the lawsuits could be upwards of two billion dollars in 2010, and possibly as much as ten billion in total. While the government fine is largely symbolic, as the amount was limited by US law, it could provide support for lawyers who are filing legal charges against Toyota.
According to NATO, one of its service members has died from a bomb attack at an army base in southern Afghanistan. In addition, an Afghan soldier reportedly died and the blast left three others injured.
The International Security Assistance Force released a statement yesterday, saying that "[the soldier] died today following an explosion at an Afghan National Army facility in Kabul." An anonymous official said that the blast occurred when a mortar fuse exploded while a training exercise was underway. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the incident, saying that an infiltrator had caused the explosion.
This latest death brings the total death toll of foreign soldiers in 2010 to 166 in Afghanistan.
McLaren driver Jenson Button won the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday and took a ten point lead in the driver's championship in the 2010 Formula One. Teammate Lewis Hamilton finished second in the race, followed by Nico Rosberg for Mercedes.
Ferrari's Fernando Alonso initially took a lead in his Ferrari, but was later penalized for beginning before the race commenced. Rosberg's teammate, Michael Schumacher finished tenth in the race.
Admitting that his performance was disappointing, Schumacher said that the race was one of the "frustrating" ones.
Felipe Massa of Ferrari slipped to sixth from the top position in the driver's championship after a ninth-placed finish. Renault's Robert Kubica was fifth while his teammate Vitaly Petrov finished seventh.
After four races this season, Button is at the top of the driver's championship with 60 points, followed by Rosberg who has 50 points. Hamilton and Alonso are third with 49 points each.
McLaren now leads constructors' standings, with 109 points. They are followed by Ferrari with 90, Mercedes with 78, and Red Bull with 73.
On this day in history (6:51) 
In 1653 Oliver Cromwell dissolved the Rump Parliament of the Commonwealth of England by force, eventually replacing it with the Barebone's Parliament.
And those are the top headlines for Tuesday, April 20th, 2010
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