Wikinews:Briefs/July 22, 2010

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Today on Wikinews : A Delta airliner experiences a tire blow-out on take off; Kosovo independence is ruled legal by the International Court of Justice; a misleading Burger King ad is banned in the UK and on this day in history, a shocking and unfortunate story.

Today is Thursday, July 22, 2010. I'm Dan Harlow and this is Wikinews.



Delta Air Lines flight 1457, departing from Atlanta, made an emergency landing after it blew out a tire during take-off. The flight was carrying approximately 160 passengers and six crew members and was destined to Portland, Oregon.

Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said that the Boeing 737-800 turned around when the flight crew noticed the blown out tire. The flight was then forced to go into a holding pattern to burn off fuel for more than an hour before it safely landed back at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport at around 3:00pm local time with no injuries being reported at this time.

Delta did not immediately return calls inquiring about the flight, however, Delta Spokesperson Anthony Black told the Associated Press that the 160 passengers on board would be put on a future flight to Portland.

Judges from the United Nations International Court of Justice ruled Thursday that Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008 was not in violation of international law.

Despite protests from Serbia, which claimed that Kosovo's independence threatened its sovereignty and was illegal under international law, ten of the ICJ's fourteen judges supported the non-binding motion declaring Kosovo's independence legal. The move was supported by the United States and most European countries, while other countries, including Russia and China, opposed the ruling.

In its opinion on the matter, the court said that it "considers that general international law does not contain any prohibition on declarations of independence. Accordingly, it concludes that [Kosovo's] declaration of independence on the 17th of February 2008 did not violate general international law."

Even before the ruling, 69 members of the UN, out of a total of 192, had recognized Kosovo's independence, and observers say that more may do so in light of the ICJ's ruling.

Kosovo's president, Fatmir Sejdiu, said that "[t]he decision finally removes all doubts that countries which still do not recognise the republic of Kosovo could have," while Serbian president Boris Tadic said that "Serbia will never recognise the unilaterally proclaimed independence of Kosovo."

An advert by fast food restaurant Burger King has been banned from British television over claims that it is misleading. The campaign for the new TenderCrisp chicken burger received two complaints over the fact that the burger appears significantly larger on the advert than in real life.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) investigated the complaints and purchased three burgers from a Burger King restaurant. They reported that both the thickness and the height was "considerably less" than in the advertisement.

The ASA also commented on the actor, stating, "[w]e also examined the size of the burgers in the hands of an average-sized man and considered that they did not fill the hands to the same extent as the burger featured in the advert. We concluded that the visuals in the advert were likely to mislead viewers as to the size and composition of the product."

Burger King responded to the complaints, saying that the advert needed to make all the ingredients in the product clearly visible. Despite the company's defense, it has been ruled that the advert will not be shown again in its current form.

Social networking service Facebook, which has been active for six years, has announced that the website reached a total of 500 million users on Wednesday. According to AFP, this number equates to one out of every fourteen people or, according to The Hindu, 8% of the population of the Earth.

Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive officer and founder of Facebook, created a blog post in relation to this milestone. He wrote "As of this morning, 500 million people all around the world are actively using Facebook to stay connected with their friends and the people around them ... This is an important milestone for all of you who have helped spread Facebook around the world."

To mark the occasion, the California, United States-based company released an application, entitled Facebook Stories, that allows the website's users to "tell the incredible stories of the moving and interesting ways they've used Facebook". Zuckerberg stated that there is a "good chance" of Facebook reaching a total of a billion members in the next three to five years.

On this day in history (5:45)


Georg Wilhelm Richmann, a German physicist who lived in Russia, was born into a Baltic German family in modern day Estonia. Though his father had died of plague before his birth, his mother remarried and he was allowed to study in Tallinn (the capital and largest city of Estonia but then known as Reval) where he became interested in physics.

After briefly studying in Germany at the universities of Halle and Jena, young Richmann then submitted an essay on physics to the Academy of Sciences in Saint Petersburg and in 1741 he was elected a member where he did pioneering work on electricity. There, he worked on calorimetry (the science of measuring the heat of chemical reactions or physical changes) and even collaborated with Mikhail Lomonosov (who had discovered that Venus has an atmosphere).

Then, on August 6, 1753, he was attending a meeting of the Academy of Sciences, when he heard thunder and so ran home with his engraver to capture the event for posterity. At the time he had been hoping to compile a list of bodies arranged by their electrical conductivity.

Considered an excellent teacher and researcher, he often arranged demonstrations of electrical phenomena to his students at the Academy, including how electricity effects animals (supposedly by electrocuting them), how the curvature of an object can effect the density of an electric charge and most importantly the properties of electrostatic induction (the redistribution of an electrical charge in an object, caused by the influence of nearby charges.)

But on the night of August 6th, while trying to quantify the response of an insulated rod to the nearby storm, a supposed ball lightning appeared ...

... and collided with Richmann's head leaving him dead in a red spot. His shoes were blown open, parts of his clothes singed, the engraver knocked out; the door frame of the room was split, and the door itself was torn off its hinges. Reportedly, the ball lightning had traveled along the apparatus causing his unfortunate death.

Richmann thus apparently became the first person in history to die while conducting electrical experiments, a mere single year after Thomas-François Dalibard of France conducted Ben Franklin's kite experiment from three years previous using a 40-foot-tall iron rod to extract electrical sparks from a cloud.



And those are the top headlines for Thursday, July 22, 2010

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