News briefs:April 24, 2010
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From Wikinews, the free news source, this is the audio Wikinews brief for Saturday, April 24th, 2010. I'm Dan Harlow and here are today's top stories:
In breaking news, police arrested a 17 year old in the early hours of Saturday morning following the deaths of two children that were killed in a suspicious house fire in Buxton, Derbyshire, England, on Friday evening.
During the fire, 23-year-old Fiona Adams and an eight-month-old baby successfully escaped through a first floor window, jumping down onto a child's trampoline. Both mother and child are currently in a hospital, having suffered from severe burns. The two children killed have been identified as five-year-old Niamh and two-year-old Cayden.
Please visit wikinews.org for more information as this story develops.
In a move that has already ignited protests around the United States, Arizona governor Jan Brewer yesterday signed into law a bill that would severely crack down on immigration across the Mexican border.
Widely regarded as the harshest measure against illegal immigration in the US, the bill would allow police to legally question and detain anyone if they have "reasonable suspicion" to do so, as well as as making the failure to carry immigration papers a crime. Critics say that the bill would lead to discrimination and harassment against Hispanic people, whether or not they are legal citizens.
The bill has been widely criticized both within Arizona and across the country. The law is expected to face several court challenges as soon as it enters into effect, and US President Barack Obama, who has sharply criticized the bill, has ordered the US Justice Department to determine the legality of the bill.
Governor Brewer is defending the bill, however, saying that it would be an important asset in the fight against illegal immigration, particularly as Arizona is a major crossing point on the US-Mexico border.
A shootout in the northern Mexican city of Juárez has killed six police officers and a seventeen-year-old girl who had been walking by at the time of the shooting.
The incident started when gunmen ambushed two police vehicles at an intersection when the police had tried to stop three vehicles suspected of transporting drug gang hitmen.
This is the latest in ongoing conflicts among drug cartels and clashes with police in Juárez that since December 2006 has seen the deaths of about 22,700 people.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, is visiting Zimbabwe to sign trade agreements and to meet with Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe.
Ahmadinejad claims that the amount of trade between the two nations should be increased and he remarked that Zimbabwe and Iran are creating a friendship based on a principled stand against Western interference. He went on to accuse the West of seeking control over Zimbabwe’s natural resources.
Ahmadinejad’s visit brought another source of friction between Mugabe and the Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party said that Mugabe's invitation to Iran sent the wrong message to the rest of the world as Zimbabwe was re-engaging the West and trying to rebuild its economy.
These developments come just a day after US Vice Predsident Joe Biden said that he expects the United Nations to implement new sanctions against Iran by early next month due to that nations refusal to stop its uranium enrichment program.
Belgian prime minister Yves Leterme has offered to resign amid a political dispute concerning a long-term power struggle between the country's French-speaking Walloons and Flemish-speaking majority. The Belgian king, King Albert II, has not yet accepted the prime minister's offer and said that the resulting political turbulence from the resignation "seriously threatens" the country's standing in the European Union.
The latest disagreement centers on special rights for Walloons living near Brussels; specifically, the location of electoral boundaries around the capital. Frustrated over the failure to resolve the dispute, the Flemish liberal Open VLD Party pulled out of the government because they no longer have confidence in the government to negotiate a solution.
This is the second time Yves Leterme has resigned as Prime Minister of Belgium. In 2008, he left office amid a banking scandal but he returned to office when the interim Prime Minister gave up the post to become the first, full-time head of the European Union.
A citizen-led initiative known as the Fair Map Amendment in the US state of Illinois that seeks to reform the state constitution's procedures on legislative redistricting, which is the redrawing of district lines every ten years following the nationwide census, may not gather enough signatures to be presented before voters during the next election cycle on November 2nd. As of last Friday, organizers have collected only 120,000 of the 279,000 signatures needed to bypass the state legislature and have the issue decided on solely by the voters in the election.
The current process of redistricting lies with the state legislature. The maps are often drawn by party leaders, allowing incumbent legislators to minimize and discourage opposition in their districts and perpetuate the leading party's dominance statewide.
The Democrat Party has dominated legislative elections since they were able to draw the redistricting map in 2001 through a process known as "spoking", which involves extending districts in Chicago — a Democratic stronghold — out into the more Republican-leaning suburbs. This has allowed more Chicago residents to become legislators and potentially weakens the strong Republican presence in the suburbs. Republicans, if given the chance to draw the maps, could overturn this trend by keeping key Republican-leaning suburban and downstate communities intact within their districts.
The Fair Map Amendment, supported by Republicans and good-government groups such as the League of Women Voters of Illinois, would take the redistricting process out of legislators' hands and instead give that task to an independent, nine-member commission.
Proponents of the amendment initially aimed to collect the required signatures by April 1 but now have until May 3 to send the necessary paperwork to the Illinois Secretary of State's office.
Zarein Ahmedzay, a man from New York, has pleaded guilty to conspiring to blow up subway trains in New York City. In a plea entered in federal court in the city, he admitted to having flown to Pakistan in the summer of 2008 with two friends, one of whom has also pleaded guilty, for training with al-Qaeda.
The three men met with al-Qaeda leaders and offered their assistance in fighting US troops in Afghanistan but were instead ordered to plan suicide-bombings in New York City similar to the 2005 London subway bombings. The men began planning their attack in time for Ramadan in September 2009, but their attack was foiled when their car was stopped entering New York City after testing bombs in Denver, Colorado.
Ahmedzay plead guilty to conspiracy to use a weapon of mass of destruction against people in the United States; conspiracy to commit murder; and providing material support to a foreign rebel organization. He is expected to be sentenced in late July, and faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Eleven suspected Somali pirates have been indicted in the US in connection with recent attacks on two US navy ships off the coast of Africa.
The men were brought to a courthouse in Virginia on Friday to face piracy charges after being detained on US ships as the cases against them were being prepared.
A first group of five suspected pirates were indicted in connection with what authorities say was a firefight on March 31st between the USS Nicholas and their vessel in the Indian Ocean. The six other defendants were charged with an alleged attack on the USS Ashland in the Gulf of Aden on April 10th. If convicted, they could face life in prison.
Until recently, pirates detained in international operations off the African coast were generally tried in Kenya. Kenyan authorities, however, recently indicated they needed more international financial help for this because Kenyan courts are becoming overloaded with piracy cases.
According to witness reports, three towns in the Galgudud region of Somalia have been taken over by the counter-government group al-Shabaab, taking them from a rival group, the pro-government Ahlu Sunna.
The al-Shabaab group controls large portions of southern central Somalia, and part of Mogadishu which is near the three towns that have been over taken. A senior al-Shabaab official has stated that their Islamic group is attempting to take control of the entire region in an effort to promote the spread of the Islamic religion in the area.
Zeus botnet trojan horse is back (9:44)
The web security company Trusteer, reports that a trojan horse virus called Zeus and targets users of Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Internet Explorer, has infected one out of every 3,000 computers of the 5,500,000 million which the company monitors in the United States and the United Kingdom. The trojan works by stealing login information and recording the keystrokes when the machine connects to certain websites, usually banks or other financial institutions, then transmits the stolen data to a remote server and is sold to cyber-criminals.
Amit Klein, the chief technology officer at Trusteer told the BBC that "the infection is growing faster than we have ever seen before". The trojan has also affected some key users here at wikinews, including Brian McNeil, who is the founder of Wikinewsie, a restricted-access wiki used to collaborate on sensitive news reports. E-mail accounts for wikinews accredited reporters have also been reported as infected.
On this day in history (11:03)
In 1990 The Hubble Space Telescope is launched from the Space Shuttle Discovery. While initially considered a failure by the public due to its incorrectly ground primary mirror; after a repair mission in 1993, the telescope has since become not only a key tool in the understanding of the early universe, but also one of the most famous scientific instruments ever built.
And those are the top headlines for Saturday, April 24th, 2010
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