Category:May 15, 2010

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Today on Wikinews : UK Prime Minister Cameron goes to Scotland, California's "Governator" attempts to "terminate" that states budget crisis, a Spanish judge is suspended for inquiring into Franco's regim and in history, something that would make Dick Cheney proud, the pope lays out the guidelines concerning how to torture heretics.

Today is Saturday, May 15th, 2010. I'm Dan Harlow and this is Wikinews.


Newly-elected UK Prime Minister David Cameron today traveled north to Scotland to meet with the country's First Minster, Alex Salmond, for the first time since the general election. According to The Scotsman, around 200 noisy protesters greeted the new PM, forcing security staff to take him into the devolved parliament via a back door.

Cameron's Conservative Party have traditionally been unpopular in Scotland. They won just one out of 59 Scottish seats in the election, gaining around seventeen per cent of the vote. Prior to the meeting, Salmond told reporters he intended to press Cameron for greater Scottish financial independence from Westminster, including greater tax powers— something supported by the Liberal Democrats, the Conservatives' new coalition partners, and Danny Alexander the Lib Dem Scottish Secretary and on which Cameron has promised a cross-party commission.

Cameron had been seeking what he called a "fresh start" to restore ties between the parliaments and after the meeting, both Salmond and Cameron agreed that the conversation had been "positive and constructive"

Cameron also outlined part of his spending plans in preparation for an emergency budget, scheduled for fifty days after the election. He announced that no cuts would be made to the £30 billion annual budget for Scotland though that £6 billion in spending cuts would have to be made— something likely to cause controversy in Cameron's coalition government. However, both Cameron and Salmond anticipate that cuts may need to be made in subsequent years.

While the UK attempts to settle its economic issues,

The governor of the 8th largest economy in the world, Arnold Schwarzenegger, unveiled a new budget plan for California on Friday, claiming that the Californian economy faces growth and budget problems like eurozone countries such as Greece and Ireland.

Schwarzenegger said in a Sacramento press conference that California must cut spending to US$12.4 billion.

To achieve this goal, the governor proposed cutting the CalWorks welfare system; however, state lawmakers quickly rejected this. Schwarzenegger said cutting the state welfare system for low-income families would save the state government $1.6 billion.

The governor also proposed freezing funds to local public schools and cutting state workers' incomes.

He also wants to cut programs for the treatment of narcotics addiction for those using Medi-Cal and cut state mental health services by 60%.

California State Senate president Darrell Steinberg, a Democrat, said, "The cuts are absolutely unacceptable," and the governor should focus on delaying business tax cuts.

At least one economy, this time the 27th largest in the world, received a bit of good news as

the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said yesterday that its board has approved a loan package worth US$1.13 billion to be granted to Pakistan.

The IMF described Pakistan's economic situation as having improved in spite of "adverse security developments and a rapidly changing political environment", although saying the economy was still vulnerable.

Pakistan requested a bailout package two years ago from the IMF, as it was struggling with three-decade-high inflation rates; the country has also seen much violence from rebel groups, with bombings having killed over 3,200 people since July of 2007.

The IMF board also noted that it would grant waivers for several performance criteria Pakistan did not meet, namely overrunning the budget deficit and surpassing State Bank of Pakistan borrowing limits.

While other nations struggle to tackle their nations issues, at least one nation is taking a more proactive approach.

The VI Congress of Mayors and Councilors wraps up a two day program of annual activities of the Chilean Association of Municipalities today in Pichilemu, Chile.

The congress will be discussing the topic of regional reconstruction as well as how to manage setbacks in education, homes and health for each municipality.

The event so far has been attended by almost 300 regional authorities and a Brazilian delegation that viewed the work of the mayors and other government officials in the region. Chilean Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter, was also invited to become acquainted with the needs of the region.

Moving now from the world of big government to big business,

Italy today fined the Irish airline Ryanair three million euros over the airline's failure to assist passengers after their flights were canceled due to the ash cloud from an Icelandic volcano which erupted last month and dramatically hindered air travel all across Europe.

According to the civil aviation authority of Italy, ENAC, there were 178 cases of passengers not receiving mandatory assistance, such as accommodations and food, after Ryanair canceled their flights. Such assistance is required by European regulations to be given to passengers who have chosen to be re-routed.

ENAC noted that despite the situation, most other European airlines had succeeded in fulfilling their obligations to passengers.

Ryanair had no comment on the announcement.

Not keeping silent, however, is

search giant Google, which revealed late yesterday that it had mistakenly collected information about Internet sites people had visited on public Wi-Fi networks.

The admission came from Google engineering head Alan Eustace in the form of a blog post on Friday afternoon. In the statement, Google said that it had been unknowingly gathering the personal data for over three years through its Street View photo-mapping feature. The discovery was made during an internal investigation resulting from earlier concerns by German regulators over the issue.

Two weeks ago, Google told European officials that, while it did collect data from Wi-Fi services for location technologies, it did not save private user data. In yesterday's announcement, however, Google admitted that these claims were actually incorrect.

An estimated 600 gigabytes of personal data had apparently been collected because of a software error from 2006. Google Street View vehicles caught bits of information from unsecured or public Wi-Fi networks in both Europe and the United States, as well as around 30 other countries where Street View is used.

Eustace said that Google has "never used that data in any Google products" and that it would stop the collection of Wi-Fi data altogether. He also said that Google was discussing with regulators about how to properly dispose of the data it had accumulated.

This incident is the latest in the Internet privacy debate, following Facebook's move this week to update privacy and security settings for its users' accounts. European officials are expected to move on this issue, which has been controversial to both their citizens and governments for some time. Google had already agreed to take additional privacy measures in Germany last July after the nation's data protection agency raised concerns about Street View.

Keeping secrets is, unfortunately, still in vogue, this time in Spain as

A prominent Spanish judge, Baltasar Garzón, has been suspended from his post by Spain's General Council of the Judiciary.

The suspension comes after Spain's Supreme Court ruled that an inquiry Garzón opened in 2008 into crimes committed during Spain's civil war, which lasted from 1936 to 1939, abused his powers by opening the investigation since the events are covered by an amnesty dating from 1977. The general amnesty act barred any investigations related to criminal offenses with a political aim previous to 1976.

Garzón formally declared the acts of repression committed by the Franco regime to be crimes against humanity, and accounted them in more than one hundred thousand killings during and after the Spanish Civil War. He also ordered the exhumation of 19 unmarked mass graves, one of them believed to contain the remains of the avant-garde poet and playwright Federico García Lorca.

Garzón appealed the ruling, claiming that had conducted a legitimate inquiry, as crimes against humanity had been conducted during the war, and are not covered under the amnesty. A date for his trial has not yet been set; if convicted, Garzón would not serve jail time, but would be suspended for as long as 20 years.

The Human Rights Watch was critical of Garzón's suspension; a statement from the group said that "This is a sad day for the cause of human rights. Garzón was instrumental in delivering justice for victims of atrocities abroad and now he is being punished for trying to do the same at home."

Finally, in Australlian Rules Football in the Gippsland Football League,

Leongatha upset ladder leaders Traralgon in their round six clash by four goals at the Traralgon Recreation Reserve. As a result, Traralgon now sits second on the ladder on percentage while Maffra are now the ladder leaders.

On this day in history (9:37)

In 1252, Pope Innocent IV issues the papal bull ad exstirpanda, which explicitly authorized (and defined the appropriate circumstances for) the use of torture by the Inquisition for eliciting confessions from heretics.'

The bull, which, by the way, is similar to an open letter but with some legal backing, argued that as heretics are "murderers of souls as well as robbers of God’s sacraments and of the Christian faith ...", they are "to be coerced—as are thieves and bandits—into confessing their errors and accusing others, although one must stop short of danger to life or limb."

The bull also introduced some parameters that were to placed on the use of torture:

   * One, that it did not cause loss of life or limb
   * Two, that it was used only once
   * And three, that the Inquisitor deemed the evidence against the accused to be virtually certain.

The requirement that torture only be used once was effectively meaningless in practice as it was interpreted as authorizing torture with each new piece of evidence that was produced and by considering most practices to be a continuation (rather than repetition) of the torture session.

While the bull did not discuss methods of torture, it is unlikely that victims were coerced by the Inquisition in the Comfy Chair until lunch time, with only a cup of coffee at eleven.


And those are the top headlines for Saturday, May 15th, 2010

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