Category:July 16, 2010

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Today on Wikinews : An earthquake rattles Washington D.C. though there's no word on its political affiliation; West Virginia's governor names Carte Goodwin to replace Robert Byrd as that state's new Senator; researchers discover a common ancestor of apes and monkeys and, in history, Miss Macao is hijacked!

Today is Friday, July 16th, 2010. I'm Dan Harlow and this is Wikinews.


Magnitude 3.6 earthquake shakes Washington, D.C. (0:40)

A magnitude 3.6 earthquake occurred on Friday near Washington, D.C., capital of the United States. Initial reports state that the quake shook windows on buildings in the area, including the White House, but did not cause any major damage.

According to the United States Geological Survey, the tremor occurred 05:04 a.m. local time, at a depth of 5 kilometers with the epicenter was located 35 kilometers northwest of the capital.

The earthquake is the largest to strike within 50 kilometers of the capital in the 35 years that seismographic recordings have been taken. The previous strongest tremor in the area was a 2.6 magnitude tremor in 1990. According to the USGS, "Most of North America east of the Rocky Mountains has infrequent earthquakes [...] The earthquakes that do occur strike anywhere at irregular intervals".

Even though nobody has yet been able to find a way to blame him for Friday's earthquake,

US freezes assets of suspected terrorist (1:33)

The United States Department of the Treasury has frozen the assets of terror suspect, Anwar al-Awlaki. He is wanted in Yemen for his alleged participation in the Christmas Day bombing of a Northwest Airlines flight.

Al-Awlaki was denoted as a "key leader" of al-Qaeda. According to US Treasury Undersecretary Stuart Levey, al-Awlaki "...has sought to encourage his supporters to provide money for terrorist causes."

Al-Awlaki was jailed in 2006 in a Yemen prison for kidnapping for ransom. He was released in 2007 and afterwords he went into hiding.

This move by the Treasury placed al-Awlaki onto a list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists. This freezes his assets, prevents American citizens from sending him money, and disallows him from traveling to the United States.

Finances in the US, however, should finally to begin to start moving again as

West Virginia governor names Carte Goodwin as new Senator (2:28)

Joe Manchin, governor of West Virginia, named attorney Carte Goodwin to replace the late Robert C. Byrd, who died at the age 92 on June 28, in the U.S. Senate until a special election is held. Goodwin will be sworn in next Tuesday.

The special election has not been scheduled; however, it could occur as early as November 2. Senator Jay Rockefeller, member of the Democratic Party in West Virginia, says that the appointment of the Senate's 59th Democrat is crucial to passing an unemployment benefits bill that has been blocked by members of the Republican Party.

"My responsibility [is] to work very hard every day to maintain the trust of the people of West Virginia," Goodwin said. "My sole objective will be to make West Virginia proud. I'm excited about the challenge. I'm looking forward to it," he added.

Goodwin, who is 36, will become the youngest member of the Senate. He served as an adviser to Governor Manchin from 2005-2009. Before this assignment was announced, Goodwin worked as an associate in his family's Charleston-based law firm.

First international flight lands at Delhi airport's new Terminal 3 (4:21)

An Air India Boeing 777 from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport was the first international flight to land at Delhi's new Terminal 3 at Indira Gandhi International Airport.

However, this was only one of nine “terminal process proving flights” that landed or departs from the brand-new steel and glass T3 on either Wednesday or Thursday. Seven of the proving flights departed or arrived on Wednesday and two on Thursday. The new terminal was inaugurated by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on July 3. Terminal 3 is designed to handle large international aircraft like the Airbus A380, which landed as one of the terminal process proving flights on Thursday.

Though Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), which operates the airport, had planned earlier to commission the new terminal for international operations on Wednesday, the commissioning was pushed to July 28 due to unfinished construction.

However, the proving flights proceeded as planned, and DIAL, with 450 employees from 13 airlines, conducted a full trial of all operations on Tuesday.

In addition to the Air India arrival from New York, United States, the first departure in the new Terminal was a Jet Airways international flight to Kathmandu, Nepal. The first domestic flight that departed from T3 was an Air India flight from Jaipur, Rajasthan.

On Tuesday, before the Air India 777 was slated to arrive, an official from that airline said that “All the 220 passengers and 18 crew members of the New York flight (AI-102) would clear their emigrations at the new terminal. It is going to be a real test for all the agencies at T3."

The terminal process proving flights aimed to make sure that everything, including airlines, air traffic control, ground handling agencies, duty free shops, flight caterers, aviation oil companies, customs, and immigration, are all in working order.

As India puts the finishing touches on it's new civillian airport,

Canada announces $9 billion plan to purchase 65 F-35 fighters (6:19)

Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay announced on Friday morning a C$9 billion dollar plan to buy 65 F-35 "Joint Strike" fighter jets. It would be the largest military purchase in the history of Canada. "I'm convinced the F-35 is good for Canada, good for Canadians, good for the Forces and good for Canadian industry," said MacKay during a press conference.

F-35 aircraft would replace the current fleet of CF-18s, however, the Liberal Party officially opposed the deal, saying that it required further review and that they would place the deal on hold if elected.

Canada is one of several nations that assisted in the development of the F-35 and has invested over US$150 million into the program for over a decade. The new fighters would replace current aircraft from 2017 onward.

While Canada prepares to evolve its fleet of military craft,

Researchers discover last common ancestor of apes and monkeys (7:19)

Researchers have unearthed a new fossil primate that they think may be closely related to the common ancestor of apes and Old World monkeys, collectively known as catarrhine primates (primates (including humans) that have nostrils that are close together and directed frontward or downward). The new species, Saadanius hijazensis was discovered near Mecca in Saudi Arabia, and gives new insights into human evolution.

The specimen, a partial skull, dates to the Oligocene, a geologic epoch approximately 29 to 28 million years ago and exhibits puncture wounds from a large predator that may have killed it. Saadanius is thought to have been a tree-dweller and lived at a time when the Arabian peninsula had not yet split away from the African continent, forming the Red Sea. The discovery may help resolve the dating of the split between Old World monkeys and apes. Paleoanthropologists have traditionally dated the divergence to between 25 and 23 million years ago, based on early fossils of the two groups. Genetic studies, however, date it to between 30 and 23 million years ago.

Although Saadanius shares some features with living catarrhine primates, such as a bony ear tube, called an ectotympanic, it also possesses other features more common in the fossils of primitive or basal catarrhines, from which Old World monkeys and apes did not evolve. These basal features include a longer face and the lack of a frontal sinus.

Finally, speaking of old bones,

Robbie Williams rejoins British musical group Take That (8:56)

singer Robbie Williams has rejoined and recorded a new album with British musical group Take That, having departed from the group in 1995. The four other members of Take That are Gary Barlow, Howard Donald, Jason Orange and Mark Owen.

Robbie Williams decided to leave Take That in 1995 to begin a solo music career; the group subsequently disbanded in 1996. In 2005, Take That was reformed as a four-piece band.

The last album the group released before the disbanding was entitled "Nobody Else", which was released in 1995. A single entitled "Shame", sung by Robbie Williams and Gary Barlow, is expected to be released on October 4, 2010. The new album from Take That, which has now been recorded, is anticipated to be available from November 2010. All five members of Take That have composed songs for the album, which has currently not yet been given a title and will be issued by Polydor Records.

On this day in history (9:57)

In 1948, the Miss Macao, a Catalina seaplane, owned by Cathay Pacific Airways and operated by a subsidiary, became the victim of the first ever hijacking of a commercial aircraft. The hijacking was carried out by four men including Huang Yu, a rice farmer, Chiu Cheong, and Mexican born Chiu Tok, who led the group as he knew how to operate an airplane after training in the Philippines.

The men had decided that piracy might afford them a better lifestyle since the Pearl River Delta was very much a lawless zone rampant with piracy and kidnappings for ransom, and so the men pooled their resources to put together the operation.

This particular flight was chosen because it was known to carry wealthy passengers between Hong Kong and Portuguese Macao. Dressed in western style business suits, the men boarded the plane and immediately after takeoff, Chiu Tok, who had been seated behind the pilot, demanded that he surrender the controls. Though three of the hijackers were armed, the pilot, Dale Warren Cramer, refused to surrender as the co-pilot, the Australian Ken McDuff, attacked one of the intruders with a flag-post rod.

In the confusion, Cramer was shot dead, and collapsed onto the flight controls sending the plane into an uncontrolled dive where it crashed into the Pearl River Delta. Twenty-five of the twenty-six people aboard died in the crash, one of whom was the millionaire bullion dealer Wong Chung-ping who had actually been carrying a substantial quantity of gold in his luggage.

The sole survivor actually turned out to be one of the hijackers, Huang Yu, who was found unconscious in the water by a couple of fishermen who witnessed the crash from their boat and took him to the hospital. Initially, Huang Yu remained silent about what had happened, but when another body was found in the water, this one with a bullet wound in it, piracy became the prime theory. However, because of Huang Yu's silence, police hid audio recording equipment in his hopsital room to record conversations he had with family members. Baed on these tapes, the police were able to piece together the true narrative and Huang Yu's involvement in the events.

Upon his arrest, he was brought to court by the Macau police, but a strange twist occurred. The Macau court suggested that the prosecution should actually be brought in Hong Kong since the plane was registered in Hong Kong and most of the passengers were from there. However, the British colonial government in Hong Kong stated that the incident happened over Chinese territory in which the British have no jurisdiction. Since no state claimed authority to try him, Huang was released without trial from a Macau prison three years afterwords on June 11, 1951, and was then deported to China - never to be heard from again.


And those are the top headlines for Friday, July 16th, 2010

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