Category:February 27, 2008

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Wikinews News Brief, February 27 2008 0430 UTC

Please note: this script may differ slightly from the content of the spoken recording.


[Opening music] This is Wikinews News Brief, summarising the current news on Wednesday the 27th of February 2008 at 0430 hours UTC. I’m Nicholas Turnbull.

Events of worldwide notability, military action, disasters etc.

In Kenya, discussions aiming to negotiate agreement between the ruling Party of National Unity and the opposing Orange Democratic Movement have been put on hold. The talks aimed to end violence caused in protests that have killed over 1,500 people since they began in December 2007. The talks between ruling president Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga have been mediated by Kofi Annan, former head of the United Nations, who has stated that the talks have not broken down. Despite continued acrimony between the two political parties, it has been agreed that Odinga will be appointed to a newly-created post of Prime Minister, which is dependent on power sharing agreements being made.

Frank Walker, the Chief Minister of Jersey, has denied that a cover-up took place following the discovery of a child's remains during building work at the Haut de la Garenne children's home. Jersey has called in special police from the United Kingdom following an inquiry that located 140 sources verifying the claims of routine child abuse at the home. Stuart Syvret, the former Minister for Health and Social Services, spoke of a culture of cover-up and concealment within Jersey's government, and described the recent discovery as a manifestation of this culture. Syvret claims he was sacked from Jersey's cabinet after drawing attention to the abuse of children aged 11 to 16 in the island's care homes. The deputy police chief of Jersey, Lenny Harper, has stated that no evidence of a cover-up has been found, although added that allegations of government agencies not adequately handling reports of assault are currently being looked into. The investigation continues.

In Nigeria, a judge ruled yesterday that the country's 2007 election results will not be annulled, despite claims by opposition parties that the incumbent People's Democratic Party fixed the election results, of which current president Umaru Yar'adua is leader. Judge Abdulkadir Abubaka Jega ruled that there was no evidence that the polls had been rigged. Opposition parties have both declared an intention to take the matter to the Supreme Court. Concerns were raised by the international community as to the legitimacy of the electoral process, and the recent ruling could potentially cause instability between political rivals and spark protests.

The Iraqi government has demanded the immediate withdrawal of Turkish troops from Kurdish areas in the north of Iraq, describing the five-day incursion as threatening to otherwise cordial relations between the two countries. The Iraq Council of Ministers views the Turkish military as violating Iraq's sovereignty by the incursion. The Turkish forces entered Iraq in an attempt to force out Kurdish rebels from the Kurdistan Workers' Party, who have used bases inside Iraq to launch attacks on Turkish military forces. A spokesman for the Iraqi government acknowledged the threat posed to Turkey by the rebels, and affirmed that the government stands ready for dialogue. The president of the Iraqi parliament, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, has asked the Turkish government to resolve the situation peacefully and suggests that Turkey should hold a referendum to grant the Kurdish population the rights that they desire.

Non-disastrous local events with notable impact and dead celebrities

Florida has been hit by massive blackouts which occurred throughout the state at around on Tuesday afternoon, when two pieces of equipment at an automated substation west of Miami failed at the same time. Approximately 680,000 residents served by the Florida Power and Light Company were affected, with over two million others affected in other parts of the state. Outages were reported from the south in the Florida Keys to as far north as Orlando and Daytona Beach. The most severe loss of power was experienced in Miami-Dade, and parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties. Engineering work is in progress to restore power across the state.

Thousands of people took part in a protest yesterday in New South Wales, Australia, against government plans to privatise the state's electricity industry. Members of parliament opposing the decision included Paul Gibson, Upper House president Peter Primrose, and former members Kerry Hickey and Grant McBride. The state government appears to be continuing with plans despite these protests, in which a related walk-out by members of the Electricity Trade Union took place in Tamworth.

Pakistan has lifted its ban on the video-sharing website YouTube, which was allegedly implemented when a video that was deemed offensive to Islam was posted to the site. The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority stated that the offending material was related to a trailer for a film by Dutch politician Geert Wilders [pr: ghrart vildersh]. An order had been placed by the agency to the country's 70 internet service providers to block access to the site, and the subsequent actions undertaken by the providers mistakenly prevented access from international ISPs, preventing some users' accessing the site from outside Pakistan for approximately two hours. Wilders is expected to release a movie about violence in Islamic culture that has caused concern amongst United States security agencies regarding a possible worldwide surge of violence.

The United Kingdom has experienced a minor earthquake of magnitude 4.9 today, at 00:56 hours UTC. The epicentre of the earthquake appears to be in the East Midlands Region at 15 miles north-east of Lincoln. Tremors were reported across a wide area of England, covering Manchester, Sheffield, Middlesbrough, Cambridge, London and Birmingham. No reports of damage or injury have been issued.

Business, commerce and academia

A vault located 800 kilometres from the North Pole on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, received its first deposit of seeds on Tuesday. The vault is designed to contain millions of seeds from across the world, each sample originating from a different farm or field in order to ensure the best biological diversity. It is designed to withstand earthquakes, nuclear warfare and floods, and according to Norwegian prime minister Jens Stoltenberg it is intended to be an insurance policy against these disasters. The seeds, being stored at air-conditioned temperatures of minus 18 degrees Celsius, have been said by experts to be capable of remaining fertile for over a millennium.

Michael Jackson's Neverland Valley Ranch is to be sold at auction on March the 19th this year unless Jackson repays debts to the trustee of the property of over $24 million US dollars. Financial Title Company, the trustee of Jackson's home and amusement park, has foreclosed on the property following a default on Jackson's deed of trust. The foreclosure auction will take place in front of the Santa Barbara Courthouse unless the money is repaid by the date of the auction. Jackson has not lived at Neverland since mid-2005, when he moved to Bahrain.

Many users of Microsoft's live Internet services, including Hotmail, Windows Live Messenger and Xbox Live, have been reporting an inability to log in to their accounts on the network. Problems are said to have begun at around 6:30am eastern standard time yesterday. Microsoft made a statement to the press in which they assure customers that action is being taken to remedy the technical fault, although did not give an indication as to when the problem will be solved. The exact number of users affected by the issue is not known.

The popular video hosting website Stage6 is to be shut down by its American owner, DivX Inc., as a consequence of the company having insufficient resources to continue running the site. Universal Music Group filed a federal lawsuit in October last year against the company, alleging copyright infringement after hundreds of music videos were uploaded to the site. Stage6 has been operational since 2006, and hosted movie clips, television shows and music videos in addition to self-made content uploaded by individual users. Uploads to the site are now no longer possible, although existing videos will continue to be able to be watched and downloaded until tomorrow.

Arts and culture

In Pyongyang, North Korea, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra performed at the East Pyongyang Grand Theatre in a televised concert aimed at improving relations between the Communist nation and the Western world. This unprecedented diplomatic gesture takes place at a time where tension between the United States and North Korea remains high, whilst a deal on the issue of nuclear disarmament continues to be negotiated between the two countries. The government of North Korea allowed access to the country for over 300 people and provided almost unrestricted Internet access and international telephone calls for the visitors, freedoms not generally granted by the Government's strict attempts at suppressing dissent.

Thank you very much for joining me, Nicholas Turnbull, for this Wikinews News Brief. [Intro music] Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation, and can be accessed at the following URL: This recording is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic License, available at Goodbye. [Outro music] [END]