Category:May 1, 2010

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From Wikinews, the free news source, this is the Audio Wikinews Brief for Saturday, May 1st, 2010. I'm Dan Harlow and here are today's top stories:


Two bomb blasts at a mosque in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, occurred shortly before the beginning of noon prayers and, according to reports, have killed at least 30 people and injured upwards of 70 more.

The mosque is believed to have ties to the Islamic insurgent group al-Shabaab and the location is often used as a venue for speeches by the insurgents.

Fuad Mohamed Qalaf, a high-ranking member of al-Shabaab, was reportedly inside the mosque when the explosions occurred and is believed to be the target of the attack. Al-Shabaab has been fighting against UN forces, which are in control of only parts of the capital, and has been reported to have ties with al-Qaeda.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

The Illinois House of Representatives failed last Thursday to approve a Democratic Party-sponsored amendment to the state constitution's redistricting procedures, killing any hope of reforming the controversial process this year. The vote was 69–47, just two votes short of the 71-vote supermajority needed to propose constitutional amendments for ratification by voters in the next election cycle.

The Democratic bill, Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 121, was sponsored by State Senator Kwame Raoul and State Representative Barbara Flynn Currie, both from Chicago. The representatives voted mostly on party lines: Democrats hold 70 seats in the House, and 69 of them voted for the amendment. 46 Republicans and one Democrat voted against it.

An alternative plan lead by a Republican initiative known as the Fair Map Amendment, a citizen-led proposal to create a nine-member commission which would decide district lines but would contain no legislators, had been quickly struck down by a Democrat-led committee. Organizers for a petition to put the amendment on this November's election ballot announced that they fell short of the nearly 300,000 signatures needed to bypass the legislature and directly place the question to the voters.

In the redistricting process, the boundaries of legislative districts are redrawn every ten years following the US census. Districts are redrawn such that they contain constituencies roughly equal in population. During the last three redistricting periods, however, discussions have resulted in deadlock such that the maps were essentially chosen by lottery. Democrats, Republicans, and regular citizens alike have all unsuccessfully attempted to reform that process this year.

The UN’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict, Margot Wallstrom, has called the Democratic Republic of the Congo the “rape capital of the world”.

Data collected by the UN shows that 200,000 cases of sexual assault have been reported in the last 14 years, 8,000 of which occurred last year and 1,244 of which occurred in the first three months of 2010. The UN’s mission has been trying to combat the problem by escorting women when they go to market and working closely with the local officials.

The Harvard Humanitarian Society issued a report in April showing that in South Kivu, an eastern province in DR Congo, 60% of the women raped were raped by armed men. More than half were raped in their own home, and more civilians are committing the attacks than ever before.

Despite the country’s war ending in 2003, DR Congo is still plagued with militia violence.

At least nine silent films made by a young Alfred Hitchcock have been restored and will be made available for public screenings beginning in 2012 and are expected to be aired as part of the Cultural Olympiad pending confirmation.

Robin Baker, the British Film Institute's head curator, calls Hitchcock's 1926 silent movie The Mountain Eagle the "holy grail" of lost British films. Three other restored Hitchcock films are 1925's The Pleasure Garden, about two chorus girls at The Pleasure Garden Theatre in London, 1927's The Lodger, concerning the hunt for a "Jack the Ripper" type serial killer and 1928's The Farmer's Wife which centers on a middle-aged farmer who decides to remarry.

This past Thursday marked the 30th anniversary since Hitchcock's death. Born in England on August 13, 1899, he directed some of the most famous films in cinema including Psycho, Rear Window, North By Northwest and Vertigo, however, though he was nominated for five Academy Awards as best director, he never took home the prize.

Hitchcock died in 1980 from kidney failure in his home at Bel Air, Los Angeles, California, at the age of 80. His body was cremated and his ashes were thrown in the Pacific Ocean.

On This Day In History (5:32)

In 1960, a U2 spy plane, flying over the former Soviet Union and piloted by Francis Gary Powers, was shot down and the pilot captured.

The Soviet military had actually been anticipating the flight but shooting down the plane was difficult due to the extreme high altitude it operated in. After failing to intercept the plane with MIG fighters and an initial missile barrage, a surface-to-air missile battery commanded by Mikhail Voronov engaged and shot down the U2, along with one of their own MiG-19 fighters which had been pursuing Powers, over the Ural Region.

Initially the United States government reported that an airplane had gone missing north of Turkey, claiming the pilot had fallen unconscious due to lack of oxygen and even grounded the U2 fleet to maintain the facade. Nikita Khrushchev, then the Soviet Premier announced that his country had shot down an American spy plane, intentionally leaving out the detail that Powers had been captured alive and so the Eisenhower Administration, thinking the pilot had been killed, claimed it had been a "weather research aircraft", and not a spy plane. Khrushchev took advantage of this lie, and finally announced that Powers was indeed alive, and the plane was mostly intact thus greatly embarrassing the Eisenhower Administration.

The Four Power Paris Summit between president Eisenhower, Premier Khrushchev and other world leaders, which had been scheduled to commence just over two weeks after the flight, fell apart largely because Eisenhower refused to accede to Khrushchev's demands that he apologize for the incident.

A large portion of the wreck, as well as Powers' survival pack are still on display at the Central Museum of Armed Forces in Moscow.


And those are the top headlines for Saturday, May 1st, 2010

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