News briefs:May 06, 2010
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From Wikinews, the free news source, this is the Audio Wikinews Brief for Thursday, May 6th, 2010. I'm Dan Harlow and here are today's top stories:
2010 UK general election results (0:16)
While results have yet to be determined in today's elections in the UK, exit polls are suggesting a small Conservative Party majority over the incumbent Gordon Brown's socialist Labour Party. When this swing is projected nationally, it would cause a hung parliament. This would be a favored result by the third party, the Liberal Democrats, whose support has surged following the first national televised leaders' debates. However, the party's support is still not strong enough, according to polls, for them to form a government, so their most realistic aim is to hold the balance of power in a hung parliament.
In the general election, people over the age of eighteen around the United Kingdom vote for a candidate at their local polling booth, and Members of Parliament are elected to each constituency based on the first past the post system, which means an election is determined by the highest polling candidate. Whichever party has a majority of MPs after all constituencies have announced their results has the opportunity to form a government.
For the latest developments, visit wikinews.org for up to date coverage of the UK elections as they happen.
Athens bank fire kills three as Greece goes on strike, Greek demonstrators protest austerity measures, Greek parliament passes austerity bill (1:26)
The Greek parliament has approved an austerity bill proposed by the government to help rescue the country's ailing economy.
The proposal, which includes increases in taxes, as well as salary and pension cuts, needed at least 151 votes to pass in the 300 seat parliament. The vote comes after a debate that took the entire day and was passed with 172 members of parliament supporting, 121 opposing, and several abstaining.
Prime minister George Papandreou described the situation to parliament ahead of the vote, saying "The future of Greece is at stake. The economy, democracy and social cohesion are being put to the test."
The Eurozone and the International Monetary Fund had asked for austerity plans, an economic measure in which a government reduces its spending and/or increases user fees to pay back creditors, to be implemented so that Greece can access a rescue loan package worth US$146 billion in order not to default on their debts. The austerity program is estimated to save $38 billion. Greece also aims to lower the public deficit to less than 3% of the GDP in four years; at the moment it is at 13.6%.
Meanwhile, rallies and strikes have been held across the country, particularly in Athens, to protest against the measures.
During the first day of the protests, demonstrations were mostly peaceful, though some protesters threw stones at riot police, who responded with pepper spray. Members of the Greek Communist Party, the KKE, broke through locks securing the Acropolis in Athens and hung up banners saying "Peoples of Europe — Rise Up".
Present at the protests were 150 members of the armed forces, who protested having their bonuses lowered and they were joined by teachers, hospital workers and other public servants.
However, on the second day of protests, yesterday, an apparent firebombing at the Marfin Bank bank killed three, including a pregnant woman, as the sweeping 24-hour strike shut down most services, including schools, hospitals, public transport and government-run offices.
Up to 100,000 people were reported to have taken part in the demonstrations, the largest since Greece's economic crisis began last year. In addition to the bank bombings, protesters attempted to storm riot police guarding the parliament building, using broken marble torn from buildings as weapons. Protesters have also reportedly set fire to other buildings, cars and bins, as well as setting up barricades in the streets. Police responded by using tear gas and water cannons against the protesters.
The Greek Communist Party has indicated to Wikinews reporter Iain Macdonald that they are willing to provide an exclusive interview about the current situation. The interview is likely to appear on wikinews.org within the next few days. Please stay tuned to wikinews.org for all the latest developments in this story.
Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua reported dead, Nigeria swears in new president after death of Umaru Yar'Adua (4:36)
Presidential aides and state television announced yesterday that the Nigerian president, Umaru Yar'Adua, died.
Yar'Adua ascended to the presidency in 2007, but was later taken ill, and had not been publicly seen for the last few months. He was hospitalized in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to get treatment for inflammated tissue around his heart.
According to the BBC, Nigerian reports indicated the president died between 21.00 and 22.00 local time (20.00 to 21.00 UTC) in Abuja, the capital.
Goodluck Jonathan, the vice-president, became the acting president this February and was formally sworn in today. According to the constitution, Jonathan will be the country's leader until next elections next April; he is also to nominate a vice president, who must be approved by the senate.
Tomorrow is to be a national holiday, and Nigeria will observe a week of mourning for the deceased president. In his statement, acting president Jonathan said: "Nigeria has lost the jewel on its crown, and even the heavens mourn with our nation tonight."
According to French officials on Thursday, the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder, or "black boxes", from an Air France plane that crashed on June 1 last year in the Atlantic Ocean, have been localized to within about 2 square miles (5 square kilometers). The French government and military officials have urged caution, however, saying there is no guarantee the flight recorders will be found.
The aircraft, an Airbus A330-200, carrying 216 passengers and 12 crew members, crashed in the Atlantic Ocean after flying in bad weather. The pitot tubes, which measure airspeed, are considered likely to have been a contributing factor to the crash. However, the actual cause has yet to be determined.
Ajmal Amir Kasab, the only surviving terrorist from the 2008 gun and grenade attacks in Mumbai, India, has been sentenced to death by hanging, on 86 charges, including conspiracy, murder, terrorism, and waging war against India.
The sentence was handed down after being in the courts for over a year, and after a 90-minute sentencing hearing. Kasab can still appeal to the high Mumbai court, that nations Supreme Court, and the Indian president to have the sentence reversed. According to the Christian Science Monitor, people on death row frequently are not actually executed for years; the last available data from 2007 indicates 308 people are on death row.
Kasab's defense lawyer had argued that his client carried out the attack under pressure from the Lashkar-e-Taiba, a terrorist organization blamed for the attacks but today's ruling rejected the position prompting the public prosecutor to state "Terrorism and terrorists like Kasab cannot be tolerated. The death penalty is the only option."
At least 166 people in Mumbai were killed and 234 injured when several hotels, a rail station, and other locations were attacked by terrorists over a 60-hour period in November 2008.
New York City's Triborough Bridge was shut down yesterday while bomb squads investigated a suspicious vehicle. A toll booth operator noticed a strong smell of gasoline coming from a U-Haul rental truck which had been abandoned nearby.
Witnesses told police they saw a man flee the vehicle last night. No bomb was found. The incident comes just three days after a failed bombing in the city's Times Square.
Russian special forces aboard the Marshal Shaposhnikov warship stormed an oil tanker that was recently seized by Somali pirates.
The forces boarded the Moscow University tanker, where they freed the 23 crew members, who had been hiding in a secure room on the ship after disabling the vessel's motor. There was a shootout between the pirates and the forces, after which one pirate was killed and ten others taken into custody.
The Moscow University was carrying 86,000 tons of crude oil, which was valued at US$50 million.
A political candidate for the United Kingdom Independence Party has been injured in a polling day plane crash. Nigel Farage, the former leader of the party, was a passenger on a two-seater plane when it crashed at an airfield in Winchester just one hour after voting began.
The pilot received serious injuries while Farage's were not thought to be life-threatening, although a fellow UKIP member stated that Farage has been drifting in and out of consciousness. The plane was towing a UKIP banner to be flown over Buckinghamshire, the constituency for which Farage is a candidate. Initially, UKIP said unconfirmed reports stated the banner had become snagged or that crosswinds were a factor, but stated that after contacting an aviation expert they believed the banner was not a factor.
An investigation into the crash has been launched.
A British oil firm has claimed to have discovered oil off the coast of the Falkland Islands in the North Falkland Basin. Rockhopper Exploration would be the first company to strike oil in the Falklands if the claim is proven.
After the discovery, Rockhopper Exploration’s shares doubled. Other oil companies in the Falklands, including Desire Petroleum, also saw shares rise after the discovery.
The sovereignty of the Falkland Islands have always been disputed. Both the United Kingdom and Argentina claim the islands.
The African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA), consisting of leaders from 26 African countries, are beginning a drive to eradicate malaria from the continent by distributing medication, insecticides, and bed nets. In a budget announced at the World Economic Forum yesterday, US$100 million will be spent in the countries worst affected by the disease.
Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete told the World Economic Forum that the strategy of mass-covering beds with nets to keep out disease-carrying mosquitoes, distributing plenty of medicine and the use of insecticides has already reduced Zanzibar's malaria incidence from 40% to 1%. Ray Chambers, a special envoy for malaria with the United Nations, said the US President's Malaria Initiative will provide the money. Chambers also commented that ALMA has recently purchased 50 million "long lasting" insecticidal nets.
Malaria costs the continent an estimated US$40 billion every year in lost work time and medical care.
An NBC employee won US$266 million from the California Lottery's Mega Millions drawing.
The winner, wishing to remain anonymous, will receive $165 million in total, after federal taxes.
David Reese, a KNBC assistant manager, was informed by the winner around 2:30 local time Wednesday. Reese told the employees working the night shift to keep the name a secret until the winner wishes to step forward.
Reese said the winner worked for NBC as a freelancer for four years, and her husband was laid off two weeks ago.
L & L Hawaiian BBQ in Pico Rivera, California, sold the winning ticket with the numbers 9, 21, 31, 36, 43, and the "Mega Number" 8. Danny He, the owner of the BBQ, will receive $1 million from the lottery for selling the winning ticket.
According to lottery officials, there was a 1 in 175,711,536 chance in winning with all six numbers with 38 other states and the District of Colombia playing as well.
In our final story today, Peruvian bolero singer Lucho Barrios died in a Lima, Peru hospital, of renal failure and respiratory problems. Barrios was well-known through all the South American countries.
Barrios, who was a diabetic, was taken to the Dos de Mayo Hospital on Monday due to a pulmonary thromboembolism. He remained in the intensive care unit in a serious condition, until his death on Wednesday at 7:32 AM local time.
Here is Barrios singing "La Joya Del Pacifico (The Jewel Of the Pacific)"
According to his daughter, Milagros Barrios, she said of her father after he had recovered from his first thromboembolism almost a year ago, that "He was okay, he was healthy, and he started singing again because he told me, 'I'm gonna die on the stage',"
Barrios was 75.
- Music credit La Joya Del Pacifico (The Jewel Of the Pacific)
On this day in history (13:53)
In 1937, the German passenger airship LZ 129 Hindenburg caught fire and was destroyed as it was attempting to dock with its mooring mast at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station. Of the 97 people on board, 35 people died in addition to one fatality on the ground. The disaster was the subject of spectacular newsreel coverage, photographs, and Herbert Morrison's recorded radio eyewitness report from the landing field, which was broadcast the next day.
The actual cause of the fire remains unknown, although a variety of theories have been put forward for both the cause of ignition and the initial fuel for the ensuing fire.
The accident served to shatter public confidence in the giant, passenger-carrying rigid airship, and marked the end of the airship era.
- Audio Credit The Internet Archive
And those are the top headlines for Thursday, May 6th, 2010
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