Category:July 29, 2010

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Today on Wikinews : Police in Gibraltar investigate yet another suspicious death; Tennessee's Lieutenant Governor suggests that Islam is a 'cult'; the president of Iran sharply criticizes an octopus and, in history, the USS Forrestal incident becomes one of the worst US Naval disasters.

Today is Thursday, July 29, 2010. I'm Dan Harlow and this is Wikinews.


Gibraltar police investigate suspicious death (0:41)

The Criminal Investigation Department of the Royal Gibraltar Police (RGP) is carrying out investigations following the discovery of a body at a house in Cumberland Road in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

An RGP spokesman confirmed that a body, that of a British woman in her 50s who lived in Gibraltar had been found, but he refused to give further details, telling reporters that the victim's next of kin had not yet been informed. He went on to say that the RGP "are dealing with this as a suspicious death". The Gibraltar Chronicle reported that the woman had sustained a wound.

Local residents became aware of the activity of the police and ambulance services around midnight.

Forensic investigators were on the scene until mid morning, and several people are believed to be helping the police with their enquiries. A man was arrested on suspicion of murder late Wednesday evening and was being held for questioning, but has now been released on Police bail pending ongoing investigations. Under local law in Gibraltar, he could be held for up to 24 hours without charge after which time, he must be released or charged.

This is the fourth death in Gibraltar in the last week, others have included a man found hanged in Upper Town, another who was found on a Ministry of Defence base in a secure area, and drowned himself in the harbor, and a third man whose body was found severely decomposed in Varyl Road.

Six killed in Sadr City bombing (2:04)

Iraqi police report a bomb explosion killed five civilians, one security official, and injured at least another twelve Wednesday at 9:15 a.m. The bomb was planted near a state-operated bank in a Shi'ite slum.

The blast occurred while retirees waited in lie to receive their pension checks.

According to Naval officer Admiral Mike Mullen, violence in Iraq is at its lowest since 2003, however, Baghdad remains an area where low-level violence still occurs.

Tennessee Lieutenant Governor suggests that Islam is a 'cult' (2:36)

A Tennessee politician has been criticized by Islamic groups and Islamic leaders by suggesting that Islam is a cult and is therefore ineligible for protection under the first amendment of the United States constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion.

Though Tennessee Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey, at a campaign stop in Chattanooga earlier in the month, said he's "all about freedom of religion", he also said that "[y]ou could even argue whether that being a Muslim is actually a religion, or is it a nationality, way of life, cult or whatever you want to call it".

Lt. Gov. Ramsey had been asked about a proposed Islamic mosque and community center that has been slated for construction in the town of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and also about the "threat that is invading our country from Muslims".

Ramsey's comments have been scrutinized by groups all over the country, while Ramsey's rivals for the lieutenant governor position tried to avoid the controversy.

Ibrahim Hooper, national communications director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, called Ramsey's remarks "part of an unfortunate trend in our society" and part of "a disturbing trend in our nation in which it is suggested that American Muslims should have fewer or more restricted constitutional rights than citizens of other faiths." Hooper also encouraged Ramsey to find people "who can offer him balanced and accurate information about Islam."

Ramsey's Republican rivals, U.S. Representative Zach Wamp and Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam, both tried to avoid the controversy about the cult comments. According to campaign spokesman Sam Edelen, Wamp declined to comment as he was "busy with voting". Meanwhile Bill Haslam's campaign spokesman Dave Smith stated in an e-mail that "The mayor's faith is very important to him, and he respects the right of others to practice their faith, so long as they are respectful of the communities in which they live and the laws of the land."

Later, Ramsey clarified his position by stating that he has "no problem — and I don't think anyone in this country has a problem — with peace-loving, freedom-loving Muslims that move to this country and assimilate into our society." However, Ramsey said he's concerned that "far too much of Islam has come to resemble a violent political philosophy more than peace-loving religion. It's time for American Muslims who love this country to publicly renounce violent jihadism and to drum those who seek to do America harm out of their faith community."

According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, there are 1.2 billion Muslims in the world and 7 million in the United States. The U.S. Religious Landscape Survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life has stated that there are 63,000 Muslims in Tennessee, or 1% of that state's population.

Oldest user of Twitter, Ivy Bean, dies at 104 (6:19)

Ivy Bean, thought to have been the oldest person using the popular social networking site Twitter, has died at age 104.

By the end of her life, Bean had 53,535 followers (a term used on Twitter to indicate you are watching a person's posts) on the site and was something of an internet phenomenon. In 2008, she became known as the oldest person on Facebook, a title held previously by a 97-year-old French man. Bean frequently updated her Twitter page with videos and descriptions of activities in her daily life that included her winning of the Gold Medal in Frisbee in the Over-75 Olympics in Bradford, Northern England as well as recipes and meeting former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

At the beginning of July, Bean was admitted to hospital suffering from jaundice. On July 23rd, Bean returned to the care home where she was a resident, but was no longer able to operate her Twitter account. Manager of the care home, Pat Wright, took over the account and began posting on Bean's behalf.

It was posted on July 26th that Bean was in a poor condition and yesterday, Wright posted "Ivy passed away peacefully at 12.08 this morning".

Many of Bean's followers posted messages of condolence, making Bean the second-most discussed topic on the Twitter yesterday. Among her followers were Peter Andre and Chris Evans.

Ivy Bean was born November 8, 1905, seven years before the telephone network was established.

While Ms. Bean made excellent use of today's electronic communication tools,

Loneliness unhealthy as smoking and alcoholism, new study says (7:48)

a recent scientific review involving more than 300,000 people across several previous studies has revealed that inadequate social networking and frequent isolation can have negative effects on a person's health equal to that caused by smoking and alcohol abuse. It was found that those who experience sufficient social interactions were 50 per cent more likely to be alive when re-examined eight years later than those who were more socially isolated.

The scientists on the project ranked having low-quality relationships with friends and family as equivalent to frequent substance abuse (that is to say, 15 cigarettes a day or heavy alcohol consumption) but worse for a person's health than not participating in exercise and being obese.

Timothy Smith, project leader from Brigham Young University (BYU), in Utah, claims that "the importance of having a network of friends and good family relationships is comparable to quitting smoking and exceeds many risk factors of mortality such as obesity, physical inactivity."

Related studies have shown that quality relationships stimulate mental and physical health. Smith went onto suggest that General Practitioners should also examine a patient's social network to promote good health.

"Physicians, health professionals, educators and the public media take risk factors such as smoking, diet and exercise seriously. The data presented here make a compelling case for social relationship factors to be added to that list," he continued.

And speaking of people who may be a little too isolated,

Ahmadinejad criticizes Paul the octopus (9:18)

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claims Paul the octopus, who correctly guessed the outcomes of eight matches of the World Cup, is a sign of decay of Western culture.

Ahmadinejad said in a speech at a youth festival in Tehran, "Those who believe in this type of thing cannot be the leaders of the global nations that aspire, like Iran, to human perfection, basing themselves in the love of all sacred values."

"We are after constructing Iran, but this does not mean viewing the matter from nationalist angle and singling out the Iranian race. Today the name of Iran is synonymous with prestige, justice seeking, monotheism, anti-despotism, and the entire blessed values that are dear for the world nations," he continued.

An Irish journalist, Rory Fitzgerald, wrote a satirical piece in response to the president's remarks. "A visibly shaken Paul spoke out earlier today saying: 'As an octopus, I can claim some objectivity in my view [of] human affairs,'?" Fitzgerald wrote.

The mollusk correctly predicted the outcome of Germany's seven matches and picked Spain over the Netherlands for the World Cup final.

Paul currently lives in a tank at the Oberhausen Sea Life Centre in Germany.

On this day in history (10:41)

In 1967, during the Vietnam war, the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal had been launching air strikes against North Vietnam from the Gulf of Tonkin. For four days, 150 missions had been flown off her flight deck until on the morning of July 29, while preparations for the second strike of the day were being made, an unguided 5 inch "Zuni" rocket located in a rocket pod under the wing of a F4 Phantom fighter jet was accidentally fired due to an electrical power surge during the switch from external power to internal power.

The rocket then flew across the flight deck, striking a wing-mounted external fuel tank on another plane which was awaiting launch. Though it is still unclear exactly which plane the rocket hit, one of the planes directly involved was being piloted by a young LCDR named John McCain, the now well known US Senator from Arizona and 2008 Presidential Candidate.

What happened next was a series of cascading disasters, many of which were preventable, but due to lack of training and communication, poor equipment maintenance and confusion, the accident become one of the worst accidents in US Naval history, an incident still used in US Navy training schools today.

When the Zuni rocket hit the external fuel tank of the waiting aircraft, the warhead's safety mechanism prevented it from detonating, but the impact tore the tank off the wing and ignited the resulting spray of escaping JP-5 fuel, causing an instantaneous conflagration. Other external fuel tanks overheated and ruptured, releasing more jet fuel to feed the flames which spread along the flight deck, leaving pilots in their aircraft with the options of being incinerated in their cockpits or running through the flames to escape.

At the time, because of a shortage of 1,000 lb bombs, the older style Composition B bombs had been loaded from the ammunition ship USS Diamond Head, instead of newer Composition H6 which capable of withstanding higher temperatures. One pilot, LCDR Fred White, leaped from his burning aircraft but was killed instantly (along with many firefighters) by the cooking off of the first bomb. LCDR Herbert A. Hope jumped out of the cockpit of his aircraft between explosions, rolled off the flight deck and into the starboard man-overboard net. He then made his way down below to the hangar deck, and took command of a firefighting team. McCain escaped by climbing out of the cockpit, walking down the nose and jumping off the refueling probe.

The fire team's chief, Gerald Farrier (without benefit of protective clothing) immediately smothered two of the 1,000 lb bombs which lay in the burning fuel with a PKP fire extinguisher, a dry chemical fire suppression agent, in an effort to knock down the fuel fire long enough to allow the pilots to escape.

According to their training, the fire team normally had almost three minutes to reduce the temperature of the bombs to a safe level, but the chief did not realize the older Composition B bombs were already critically close to cooking-off until one split open. The chief, knowing a lethal explosion was imminent, shouted for the fire team to withdraw but the bomb exploded seconds later - only one and a half minutes after the start of the fire.

The detonation destroyed McCain's aircraft (along with its remaining fuel and armament), blew a crater in the armored flight deck, and sprayed the deck and crew with shrapnel and burning jet fuel. It killed the on-deck firefighting contingent, with the exception of three men who survived with critical injuries. Two bomb-laden aircraft which were in line ahead of McCain's were riddled with shrapnel and engulfed in the flaming jet fuel still spreading over the deck, causing more bombs to detonate and more fuel to spill.

Nine bomb explosions occurred on the flight deck, eight caused by the Composition B bombs and the ninth occurred as a sympathetic detonation between an old bomb and a newer H6 bomb. The explosions tore large holes in the armored flight deck, causing flaming jet fuel to drain into the interior of the ship, including the living quarters directly underneath the flight deck, and the below-decks aircraft hangar.

Sailors and Marines finally controlled the flight deck fires within about two hours, and continued to clear smoke and to cool hot steel on the 02 and 03 levels until all fires were under control by 1:42pm. They finally declared the fire defeated at 4:00am the next morning, due to additional flare-ups. Throughout the day the ship’s medical staff worked in dangerous conditions to assist their comrades including HM2 Paul Streetman, one of 38 corpsmen assigned to the carrier, who spent over 11 hours on the mangled flight deck tending to his shipmates.

In all, the fire left 134 crewmen dead and 161 more injured. Many planes and armament were jettisoned to prevent them from catching fire or exploding. Twenty-one aircraft also sustained enough damage from fire, explosions and salt water to be stricken from naval inventory.

Though there were many firefighting tools available on Forrestal, including emergency respirators, the general crew were not trained in their use and either failed to use them correctly or did not coordinate their efforts correctly. For example, there were damage control teams spraying foam on the deck to contain the flames, which was the correct procedure, yet crewmen on the other side of the deck sprayed seawater, washing away the foam and worsening the situation by washing burning fuel through the hole in the flight deck into the decks below; burning fuel is not easily extinguished and can in fact be spread by water. Due to the first bomb blast killing nearly all of the specially trained firefighters on the ship, the remaining crew, who had no formal firefighting training, had to improvise.

The Navy still commonly refers to the fire aboard Forrestal, and the lessons learned, when teaching damage control and ammunition safety. A large portion of basic training is dedicated to firefighting and prevention tactics and every US Navy sailor is considered a firefighter first, a job your host once had when he served in the US Navy 25 years after the USS Forrestal, or Forrest Fire, incident.


And those are the top headlines for Thursday, July 29, 2010

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