Category:June 2, 2010

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Today on Wikinews : Israel plans to release all remaining activists from the Gaza incident; twelve people are killed in the UK during a series of violent shootings; Al and Tipper Gore decided to end their marriage and, in history, Rome is sacked - again.

Today is Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010. I'm Dan Harlow and this is Wikinews.


Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu has decided that Israel will not prosecute or continue to hold the activists it captured from the six ship "Gaza Freedom flotilla", seized in the Gaza flotilla raid by Israeli naval forces in international waters. Israel plans to release all of the activists it arrested in its raid sometime today, as it comes under fire for its actions in the incident.

Although some reports indicated that more had died, it's now believed that nine people were killed in the Israeli attack on the convoy, although one witness had put the death toll as high as sixteen. The details of the raid still remain unclear and repatriated flotilla activists have challenged the Israeli version of the deadly raid.

The origins of the raid are still unclear; Israel says that their troops had opened fire in self-defense after being attacked when they boarded a ship. Other reports from witnesses said that there had been only wooden sticks on board the vessels under the control of activists, however, and an Israeli official said that troops had attacked while still overhead the ships in helicopters.

The attack has been widely condemned by the international community, especially Turkey, whose prime minister called the incident a "bloody massacre." A statement from Turkey's Parliament said that "[t]his attack was an open violation of United Nations rules and international law." Turkey has already recalled its ambassador to Israel, a move that came on Monday, and according to the Israeli media, families of Israeli diplomats are being evicted from Turkey.

Israel's defense minister, Ehud Barak, visited troops who had been involved in the incident, saying that "[w]e need to always remember that we aren't North America or Western Europe, we live in the Middle East, in a place where there is no mercy for the weak and there aren't second chances for those who don't defend themselves."

Meanwhile, hundreds of Gazans are using the newly opened Egyptian Rafah Border Crossing which is allowing in food and medical supplies as well as sick and injured Palestinians out who are seeking medical treatment.

As Israel attempts to deal with the international fallout from the violence off the coast of Gaza, police in the UK have confirmed that twelve people had been killed with a further twenty five injured, three critically for a series of shootings that occurred in Whitehaven, Seascale and Egremont at a total of thirty different crime scenes.

After an intensive manhunt, police found the body of the prime suspect, 52 year old local man Derrick Bird, a taxi driver. The first of Bird's victims was a fellow taxi driver shot in Whitehaven at about 10.30 local time, with the following victims being shot at random as Bird drove down the west coast. Originally driving a Citroën Picasso, he was later said to be on foot when he crashed his vehicle.

Members of the public were advised police to stay indoors and for those who saw him not to approach but rather to inform police. During the incident, the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant was locked down for the first time in its history. The manhunt covered the Boot and Scafell Pike area and around 2:00pm local time, the Deputy Chief Constable of Cumbria reported that a body believed to be Bird was found in a wood near Boot with a firearm, apparently having turned the weapon on himself.

The affected area is popular with hikers, and currently, many schools across England are on half term, meaning pupils have no classes.

Home Secretary Theresa May is due to make a statement on the incident to the House of Commons tomorrow.

In a 5–4 decision on Tuesday, the US Supreme Court ruled that once a suspect of a criminal investigation is informed of his right to remain silent, he must specifically invoke that right if he does not want his words to be used against him.

The case involved a fatal shooting in 2000 in Michigan committed by Van Chester Thompkins. Before questioning, he was informed of his rights, including the right to remain silent and the right to consult an attorney, but Thompkins did not tell the officer he wished to invoke those rights. During questioning, the suspect gave few, limited responses.

After about two hours and forty-five minutes, however, the interrogator asked "Do you pray to God to forgive you for shooting that boy down?" Thompkins replied "yes". Even though he refused to sign a confession, that one-word statement was used against him in trial, and Thompkins was convicted of first-degree murder.

The conviction was upheld by Michigan state courts and a federal district court, but was overturned by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court disagreed and subsequently reinstated the conviction.

In the case, designated Berghuis v. Thompkins, the high court's conservative majority observed that since he was already informed of his rights, the defendant waived those rights when he voluntarily made an incriminating statement during interrogation. The majority opinion was written by Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito.

The court's decision continues a recent trend of siding with the police and restricting the rights of criminal suspects. In her dissenting opinion, Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote that the decision is a step back from protections against forced self incrimination as provided for in the landmark 1966 case Miranda v. Arizona. She was joined by the court's other three liberal associate justices: John Paul Stevens, Steven Breyer, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

While the US Supreme Court was handing down its decision, the Swiss Supreme Court was also hard at work, but the stakes were quite different.

The Supreme Court in Lausanne, Switzerland ruled that Texas hold 'em poker is a game of luck, rather than a game of skill. As a result, only casinos can host poker tournaments in Switzerland. Private games with friends, even where money is at stake, are still permitted under the ruling.

Poker tournaments had been growing in popularity in the country, with many events held in hotels and bars. Such venues do not have to pay the 50% tax on profits levied on licensed casinos, nor comply with regulations combating money laundering and gambling addiction. Poker is now categorized alongside roulette and slot machines, which as games of luck can only be played inside casinos. Mathematics, strategy, and bluffing were less important in determining the result than chance, said the judges, overturning a lower court ruling to the opposite effect, and disagreeing with the stance of the country's Federal Gaming Commission.

Before the ruling, it had been estimated by the Swiss Federation of Casinos that there were about 100 unlicensed poker tournaments every weekend. A Swiss poker website,, has described the result as "a black day for all amateur poker players in Switzerland."

Some poker players may have an even harder time anteing up as

Hewlett-Packard (HP) expects to lose 9,000 jobs between now and 2013 in a US$1 billion (£686m) restructuring plan.

The 9,000 jobs losses will be in the enterprise services division, but the company expects to add about 6,000 employees to its sales and delivery teams.

HP commented in a statement, "As a result of productivity gains and automation, HP expects to eliminate roughly 9,000 positions over a multi-year period to reinvest for further growth and to increase shareholder value"

HP will invest in fully automated data centers as it makes operational changes in its Internet technology services business. HP said the restructuring will generate savings of $500–700 million (about €407–571 million) in net savings after reinvestment.

Hewlett-Packard has around 300,000 employees and is the world's largest technology company by sales. HP is an American multinational information technology corporation headquartered in Palo Alto, California.

While many workers are being forced to find new opportunities, at least one has decided just to quit all together.

Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama resigned today, following a controversial move regarding a US military base.

Hatoyama told a nationwide news broadcast that he will step down after a broken campaign promise to move a US Marine base off the southern island of Okinawa. The decision to resign followed poor poll ratings for Japan's Democratic Party in an upcoming parliamentary election. Members of the party have called for Hatoyama's resignation in order to preserve their chances of victory in the election. He is expected to formally resign before a meeting of party leaders today.

Hatoyama had previously won a landslide election last August, but his approval ratings of late were around 20%. He will likely be succeeded by current Japanese Finance Minister Naoto Kan. Hatoyama also mentioned a series of financial scandals that had plagued him in his decision to resign. Democratic Party secretary-general Ichiro Ozawa, who was involved in the scandals, also agreed to leave when asked by Hatoyama. He will be the fourth Japanese leader in a row to resign without being in office for a year.

Hatoyama had made a deal Friday with US president Barack Obama retain the Marine base on Okinawa, citing threats to both countries' national security, but the agreement was strongly opposed in Japan. His resignation means that the deal may not go through after all.

As Yukio Hatoyama joins the ranks of former politicians,

Former US Vice President Al Gore announced earlier today that he would separate from Tipper Gore, his wife of 40 years. The Gores called the decision "mutual."

In an e-mail to close friends, Al and Tipper Gore said that they would not make additional comments. The message was confirmed by a spokesperson for the Gore family. A family friend said, "There isn't anyone else. They just want to go their separate ways."

In the e-mail, Al and Tipper Gore said that "This is very much a mutual and mutually supportive decision that we have made together, following a process of long and careful consideration."

The announcement was met with surprise in Washington, D.C. Both were raised around the city, and met at a high school dance. 62-year-old Al Gore was the Vice President of the United States during the Clinton presidency and lost the 2000 US presidential election to George W. Bush. He also received the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts concerning climate change. 61-year-old Tipper Gore is a professional photographer and co-founded the Parents Music Resource Center. On May 19, the couple observed their 40th wedding anniversary. The Gores have four children.

Jetstar Airways, a Qantas owned Australian low-cost airline, has announced plans to trial Apple iPads as an in-flight entertainment option. This trial would make Jetstar one of the first airlines in the world to offer the iPad.

Starting later this month, Jetstar plans to begin a two-week trial, during which passengers will have the option to rent iPads for $10AU on domestic flights longer than an hour. Thirty iPads would be available on each test plane. These devices would be preloaded with games, e-books, music and video content. Internet access however will be disabled as per Jetstar's policy on internet connected devices, said spokeswoman Andrea Wait.

The iPads offered by Jetstar, will be specially customized by Bluebox Avionics. Bluebox Avionics, at present, is the only company to offer iPads as part of an in-flight entertainment system. Jetstar will be the first to offer the Bluebox Avionics iPad based systems, though, Bluebox Avionics has said the system will be available to other airlines soon.

Shortly following the initial release of the iPad, Jetstar chief information officer Stephen Tame speculated that the iPad "may lead in the future the end of airline in-flight entertainment systems". Depending on the results of the trial, iPads may replace existing Jetstar in-flight entertainment systems.

Jetstar chief executive Bruce Buchanan said he expected the iPads to be very popular during the trial. If the trial is successful, the airline would “be looking to roll out the devices across our entire domestic and international network later in the year"

Finally, in sports, Chile has announced its official list of players for South Africa Football World Cup.

The team did however cut Roberto Cereceda, a player from Colo-Colo, from the list. Chilean press had pointed out that Cereceda was the most probable player to be discarded, although Marcelo Bielsa, coach of the football team, said some weeks ago that his inclusion in the list was not being discussed.

For the complete list of players on the final team, please visit

On this day in history (15:10)

In 455, the second of three barbarian sacks of Rome, the sack of 455, came at the hands of the Vandals, then at war with the usurping Western Roman Emperor Petronius Maximus.

In 440s, the Vandal king Genseric and the Roman Emperor Valentinian III, had betrothed their children, Huneric and Eudocia, to strengthen their alliance, reached in 442 with a peace treaty. The marriage had to be delaye, however, as Eudocia was too young at the time.

In 455 Valentinian was killed, and Petronius Maximus rose to the throne. Petronius married Valentinian's widow, Licinia Eudoxia, and had his son Palladius marry Eudocia; in this way Petronius was hoping to strengthen his bond with the Theodosian dynasty, a Roman family that rose to eminence in the waning days of the Roman Empire.

This move, however, damaged Genseric's ambitions. The king of the Vandals claimed that the broken betrothal between Huneric and Eudocia was an invalidation of his peace treaty with Valentinian, and set sail to attack Rome.

Upon the Vandal arrival, according to the chronicler Prosper of Aquitaine, Pope Leo I requested that Genseric not destroy the ancient city or murder its inhabitants. Genseric agreed and the gates of Rome were thrown open to him and his men. Maximus, who fled rather than fight the Vandal warlord, was killed by a Roman mob outside the city, possibly together with his son Palladius.

There is, however, some debate over the severity of the Vandal sack. The sack of 455 is generally seen by historians as being more thorough than the Visigothic sack of 410, because the Vandals plundered Rome for fourteen days whereas the Visigoths spent only three days in the city.

The cause of most controversy, however, is the claim that the sack was relatively "clean", in that there was little murder and violence, and the Vandals did not burn the buildings of the city. This interpretation seems to stem from Prosper's claim that Leo managed to persuade Genseric to refrain from violence. However, Victor of Vita, an African bishop of the Province of Byzacena, records how many shiploads of captives arrived in Africa from Rome, with the purpose of being sold into slavery. Similarly, the Byzantine historian Procopius reports how at least one church was burnt down.

It would be nearly 100 years before Rome was once again sacked, this time in 546 by the Gothic king Totila, but Rome's influence and glory had faded and Europe began to splinter into various feudal states with only the Byzantine's in Constantinople left to carry on the tradition and wealth of knowledge of the empire.


And those are the top headlines for Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

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