News briefs:February 04, 2008
Wikinews News Brief February 04, 2008
[Opening music] This is Wikinews News Brief, summarising the current news on the 4th of February 2008 at 03:31 hours UTC. I’m Nicholas Turnbull.
Events of worldwide notability, military action, disasters etc.
A military tribunal at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp heard arguments today over the legality of trying 21-year-old Canadian citizen Omar Khadr for alleged war crimes despite his status as a minor at the time of the incident. Khadr is charged with the murder of Sgt. Christopher Speer, in addition to attempted murder, conspiracy, providing material support for terrorism, and espionage. The charges stem from a 2002 incident in which the 15-year old allegedly threw a grenade at U.S. troops after they directed an air-strike at the Afghan compound he was sharing with Mujahideen insurgents. Khadr's lawyer Dennis Edney has challenged the attempts to label him as a war criminal, arguing that he be treated instead as a child soldier. The legal counsel of the American Military Commission has agreed with the assessment that the charges be dismissed, on the grounds that the tribunal lacks jurisdiction to prosecute minors. The case continues.
In Serbia, the current president and Democratic Party leader Boris Tadić has won a further term of presidency in the second and final round of the country's presidential election. Opposing candidate and leader of the Serbian Radical Party Tomislav Nikolić was defeated by a narrow margin, receiving 2.6% fewer votes than Tadić, who holds pro-Western attitudes and is in support of Serbia joining the European Union. Nikolić, leader of the nationalist Serbian Radical Party, supported closer ties with Russia, Serbia's historical ally. Independence of Kosovo is supported by both candidates, the province being expected to declare independence by the beginning of March.
Egypt closed its border with the Gaza Strip yesterday, ending 11 days of unrestricted movement of Palestinians to and from Egypt. Barbed wire and metal barricades have been used to seal the remaining gaps in the existing barricade across the border. Egyptian citizens in Gaza are being allowed to return back to Egypt, and Palestians on the Egyptian side of the border are being permitted to return to Gaza; the Egyptian government is, howeer, allowing no new crossings. On the Palestinian side of the border, militants affiliated with Palestinian Islamist militant organisation Hamas have been turning people back, telling them that the border is closed; despite reports of altercations with Gazans who still wanted to cross into Egypt, most reports have described the situation as fairly calm.
In Paraguay, a court has completed its trial over the worst fire disaster that has affected the country, the Ycuá Bolaños supermarket fire in Asuncion. The fire, which broke out on the 1st of August in 2004, left 374 dead and 450 others injured, with nine missing and presumed dead. Approximately 2,000 people were inside the supermarket when the fire broke out, including many families with young children; fire doors were shut to prevent looting, worsening the situation by trapping customers inside. The investigation has shown that the blaze started in a badly-built chimney because of inadequately maintained equipment; a lack of fire escapes, fire detection systems and fire suppression systems all contributed to the death toll. Most of the deaths occurred due to asphyxiation from the smoke. Store owner Juan Pio Paiva, aged 64, was sentenced to twelve years' imprisonment, whilst his son Daniel Paiva, aged 40, was given a ten-year sentence, both convicted of manslaughter and exposing people to danger within the workplace. This retrial followed protests by friends and relatives of the deceased after a court had previously been in favour of more lenient five-year sentences.
At least 30 people have been killed by two earthquakes in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The magnitude of the earthquakes was thought to be between 5.0 to 6.0 on the Richter scale. The Deputy Police Chief of Rwanda, Mary Gahonzire, told Reuters that the death toll has increased to 25 in the earthquake; in Congo, Bernard Watunakanza, acting governor of the Bukavu region, has stated that five people were killed and 149 were seriously injured. This brings the total death toll to 30, and a total of 350 injuries. The earthquake could be felt in nearby Burundi, but no reports of damage or injuries there have been issued.
Some influenza viruses in the United States and Canada have shown increased levels of resistance to the antiviral drug Tamiflu, the World Health Organization reported on Friday. Similar trends were reported earlier in Europe. Tamiflu is currently the recommended treatment for humans infected with influenza, including the H5N1 strain, commonly referred to as "bird 'flu". Governments worldwide have been stockpiling the drug in case of a 'flu pandemic. The drug resistance appears to be limited to the H1N1 variant which causes seasonal flu, while H3N2 or influenza B strains and the H5N1 strain that causes bird flu did not show increased resistance. Interestingly, resistance to the medication has not been observed in Japan or Hong Kong, despite Tamiflu being widely prescribed for seasonal 'flu in Japan.
Non-disastrous local events with notable impact and dead celebrities
In the ongoing battle between the Church of Scientology and the nebulous Internet group known only as "Anonymous", a representative of the Church of Scientology has responded to inquiries by Wikinews reporter Brian McNeil over the recent attacks on the Church of Scientology's web sites in e-mail correspondence. The representative, signing the messages as "Laetitia", ignored the specific questions put by Wikinews over the damage inflicted on the Church and what action the Church intends to undertake, replying only in general terms. The representative stated that the Church of Scientology has reported the activities of "Anonymous" to the authorities, adding that the Church considers their activities to be illegal and that Anonymous "will be handled and stopped", although specific information on what this action entails was not forthcoming in the correspondence. Andreas Heldal-Lund, the creator of Operation Clambake, a website that seeks to expose Scientology, considers that Scientology's efforts to have criticisms against it and confidential information removed from the Internet are failing. An anonymous expert on the Scientology religion who is a former member of the Church told Wikinews that Laetita may have slipped by providing information that she had not been authorised to provide, and that the lack of concrete answers given in response to the questions are part of Scientology's codified techniques for dealing with news reporters.
Business, commerce and academia
Arts and culture
In fashion, the first two days of the New York Fashion Week have debuted fashions that are similar to those in past years. Many designers have shown off their newest creations, including a return of turtleneck sweaters and miniskirts. The ubiquitous fashion staple of the miniskirt has been incorporated into designs that are even shorter than in the past; and if the first two days of the Fashion Week are any indication, another year of miniskirts being in vogue is forthcoming, partnered with tights which were widely expected to go out of fashion for 2008. Major labels Nicole Miller, Lacoste, BCBG and Baby Phat showed off their styles in the first two-days of the week-long event. Talk of the beginnings of an economic recession in the United States has sparked fears in the fashion industry, in which a lackluster fashion scene an make or break both established brands and up-and-coming new designers. The New York Fashion Wek runs until Friday.
Frivolities and trivia
Thank you very much for joining me, Nicholas Turnbull, for this Wikinews News Brief. [Intro music] Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation, and can be accessed at the following URL: http://en.wikinews.org. This recording is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic License, available at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/. Goodbye. [Outro music] [END]