News briefs:January 03, 2008
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This is Wikinews News Brief, summarising the current news on the 3rd of January 2008 at 01:49 hours UTC. I’m Nicholas Turnbull.
Kenya election struggles continue 
At least 250 people have died in Kenya in post-election clashes across the nation. Incumbent President Mwai Kibaki was declared re-elected on Sunday by a narrow majority. His opponent Raila Odinga disputes the result of the election and has called for a recount. The clashes between political factions have been along tribal lines, with Kibaki backed by the Kikuyu and Odinga by the Luo. The fighting has been particularly severe in western Kenya, a power base for Odinga. Police have been ordered to shoot looters on sight and have imposed a curfew in Kisumu, Kenya's third largest city. Kibera (key-beara), the slum in Nairobi, has been sealed off by riot police and paramilitary troops to contain the violence. The Kenyan government has banned live television broadcasts and censored news reports in what it claims to be an effort to prevent violence. Odinga also announced that he wanted a mass rally to take place later in the day in the main park of Nairobi. The violence led to an announcement by Kenyan police which stated that any person caught outside their homes in the slums of Nairobi will be shot dead on the spot by police. A mob set fire to a church in western Kenya on Tuesday, killing at least 30 people inside who were seeking refuge from widespread post-election violence. Some reports state that as many as 50 people were killed in the attack. It is believed that approximately half of the dead were children. Witnesses say that the fire was started by a gang of young men who poured fuel on the structure before setting it ablaze.
Three truck drivers killed in Australian woodland fire 
A fire in Western Australia’s Borrabin National Park killed three truck drivers on Tuesday when the convoy they were travelling in became engulfed in flames. A fourth driver escaped with burns to his hands, whilst a fifth was rescued uninjured. The fire has spread across twenty-nine thousand hectares of land between the Southern Cross and Coolgardie areas, intersected by the Great Eastern Highway that carries the majority of traffic from Perth heading towards the East Coast. The convoy that the drivers joined was released from Coolgardie after drivers were told by officials that the road was safe, following a mistaken decision by the Department of Environment and Conservation to reopen the road at 2000 hours local time. Local police have stated that the Great Eastern Highway will remain closed until the fire is under control and the damaged vehicles have been removed from the scene, which is not expected to be completed until Sunday.
USAID diplomat dies in Sudanese shooting 
An American Foreign Service diplomat for USAID, the United States Agency for International Development, was shot and killed in Sudan on Tuesday. John Granville, a former United States Peace Corps volunteer aged 33 from Buffalo, New York was traveling home from a New Years Eve party in Khartoum when his car was ambushed in a residential area of the city. His driver, Abdel Rahman Abbas, was also killed in the attack; aged 40, he was an employee of the U.S. embassy in Sudan. The diplomat and his driver were shot and killed in what the United States embassy described as a 'hail of gunfire'. The Sudanese government has claimed that the vehicle was targeted when a fight between passengers in two other cars that were driving in close proximity to Granville and Abbas worsened into gunfire, causing them to be caught in the crossfire. Abbas was killed instantly by his gunshot wounds, and Granville died later in hospital.
South Australian premier demands apology from former Guantanamo detainee 
South Australian Premier Mike Rann has said that David Hicks, an Australian citizen convicted of terrorism by a US military tribunal and recently released from Guantanamo Bay, should apologise unconditionally to the Australian public for his actions. Hicks, who was released from Yatala Labour Prison in Adelaide, was expected to make an apology upon release, but his lawyer read a prepared statement instead. Hicks served six years’ imprisonment at Guantanamo Bay before being convicted of providing material support to terrorists, a newly codified criminal charge. Mr. Rann stated that he felt would be appropriate for Hicks to apologise to the people of Australia. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has stated that Hicks "should be treated no differently to any other Australian citizen in these circumstances".
Croatia abolishes military service 
The Republic of Croatia has officially abolished compulsory military service as of New Years’ Day. The requirement for military service was an artefact of Croatia’s former membership of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. This decision is in line with that made by its neighbour Bosnia and Herzegovina, which announced abolition of military service two years ago on January the 1st 2006. The legal changes were made as part of a bid by Croatia to be invited into NATO in April 2008, and were approved by the Croatian Parliament on October the 4th 2007.
Cyprus and Malta adopt the Euro 
On New Years’ Day, the Republic of Cyprus and the Republic of Malta adopted the euro as their official currency. These countries are adopting the currency less than four years after becoming members of the European Union. In both countries the introduction of the Euro was celebrated with outdoor celebrations, including a fireworks display in Malta's capital Valletta. Cyprus and Malta are the 14th and the 15th country to join the Eurozone, which all EU members states are required to join once certain conditions are fulfilled, except Denmark and the United Kingdom which have negotiated a so-called opt-out that allows them not to adopt the single currency. The single currency has replaced the Cypriot pound and the Maltese lira at a rate of one euro to 0.585274 Cypriot pounds and 0.4293 to the Maltese lira, or 1.71 euro per Cypriot pound and 2.33 per Maltese lira. This conversion rate was fixed on the 10th of July 2007 by Ecofin, the council comprising the finance ministers of the EU Member States.
Markku Peltola dies at 51 
On New Year’s Eve, Finnish actor Markku Peltola died at 51 years old. Peltola was most well known for starring in the 2002 Aki Kaurismäki-directed film The Man Without a Past, which won a Grand Prix award at the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. In total he had played over 30 roles in film and television at his death. Helsinki-born Peltola, son of a taxi driver, was also a guitarist in a band as well as a film director. His most recent film roles were a small role on the 2006 film Jade Warrior and the Estonian movie I Was Here, which will premiere in that country in September this year. Peltola died in his Tampere home yesterday. According to local media, he had suffered poor health for some time.
Scientology unlikely to be banned in Germany 
Responding to a request of the chairman of the German Minister of Interior Conference, the interior affairs chief of the German state of Saxony, Mr. Albrecht Buttolo, told the Associated Press (AP) on Tuesday that he believes that there is hardly any chance that a ban the German Church of Scientology will occur in Germany. The Church of Scientology and its associated organisations have been under investigation by the German government for over a decade by the German Office for the Protection of the Constitution. A spokesperson of the Office stated recently that a ban of the organization would be "not realistic" at the present, adding that there is insufficient evidence to support freezing its activities. German domestic security services came to the decision that the organization does operate in ways that may be perceived as hostile to the German constitution, but at present the Church of Scientology has failed to successfully infiltrate German society. Investigators will carry out more intense surveillance through the Autumn of 2008 before deciding on whether to take further action against the organisation.
Peace award posthumously given to Benazir Bhutto 
In Ireland, the Tipperary Peace Convention will be posthumously awarding its 2007 Peace Prize to former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Bhutto was assassinated during a rally for democracy on December the 27th. She was shot by a suicide attacker in the neck and chest, who then detonated explosives that he was carrying in a suicide attack that killed 21 others in the vicinity. The award will be presented in her honor in April of 2008 during the organization's International Festival of Peace in Tipperary Town. Past recipients of the prize include former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani in 2001, former United States President Bill Clinton in 2000 and Nelson Mandela in 1989.
Pakistan's election saga continues 
Pakistan's election commission is expected to announce a new date for the January 8 election after the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto last week triggered nation-wide violence. Election officials say that it is impossible to hold the vote on January the 8th because polling offices and voting materials have been damaged in riots that followed the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Analysts expect the vote to be delayed until mid-February or March. The two main opposition parties want the vote to be held as originally planned, saying they will take to the streets if the government postpones the elections. Political analyst Talat Masood says delaying the elections would be ill-advised for the government of President Pervez Musharraf.
Police station in Algeria bombed 
A police station was bombed yesterday in Naciria, northern Algeria, approximately 50 km east of the Algerian capital Algiers, at approximately 0700 hours local time. A witness at the scene said that the majority of injuries hit police officers and not the general public. According to reports, at least 4 people have been killed and several are injured. It is unclear whether the bombing was caused by a car bomb or a suicide attack. The bombing, although less serious than the December bombings which killed 40 people, is likely to raise suspicions that violence has not ended in Algeria. Frequent terrorism first hit Algeria after measures were carried out by the government to stop a Muslim fundamentalist party from winning the elections.
Penguins beat Sabres by 2 to 1 
In sports, on New Year's Day, the Buffalo Sabres and the Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League played in the AMP Energy NHL Winter Classic, an outdoor game held at Orchard Park, part of New York's Ralph Wilson Stadium. This was the second outdoor game in league history and the first outdoor game held in the United States. The Pittsburgh Penguins won the game 2 to 1 after a shootout in which captain Sidney Crosby made a goal between the legs of the Sabres’ goal-keeper Ryan Miller. Colby Armstrong of the Penguins scored a goal 21 seconds into the game, and Brian Campbell scored the single goal of the match for the Sabres in the 2nd period.
This concludes the Wikinews News Brief. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation, and can be accessed at the following URL: http://en.wikinews.org. This recording is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic License, available at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/.
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