News briefs:May 04, 2010
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From Wikinews, the free news source, this is the Audio Wikinews Brief for Tuesday, May 4th, 2010. I'm Dan Harlow and here are today's top stories:
Severe flooding in the southern United States left 28 people dead and caused extensive damage over the weekend after two days of torrential rainfall. 13 inches of rain fell in Nashville, Tennessee which swelled rivers and triggered rapidly rising waters. The Cumberland River rose to extremely high levels, nearly 12 feet above flood stage, and is not expected to return to normal levels until Wednesday morning.
The deluge caught many off-guard and meteorologists explain that the flooding came as a result of a slow-moving weather system that tapped into moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and pulled it northward into an unstable air mass. Total damages from what may be a 500 or 1,000 year flood event could be worth billions of dollars. Many prominent buildings were submerged in the Nashville area, where about 50 schools sustained damage.
The states of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Mississippi were hit the hardest. Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear issued a state of emergency in response to the floods and forty-five counties in the state posted emergency declarations. In Tennessee, where the storms' death toll continues to rise, Governor Phil Bredesen has requested federal assistance from President Barack Obama.
Another earthquake hit Chile on late Monday according to the United States Geological Survey. The epicenter was located 132 kilometers southwest of Concepción and 558 kilometers southwest of Santiago. Chile's National Office of Emergency of the Interior Ministry has reported no casualties but that some telephone lines have collapsed. Even after more than two months after a major 8.8 magnitude earthquake struck the South American nation, many people continue to live in tents or temporary huts.
Wikinews' Diego Grez reported that the earthquake was clearly felt in Pichilemu, almost 300 kilometers to the north of the epicenter. For more information, visit wikinews.org for the latest developments and for Diego Grez's original reporting on the events in Chile.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has criticized Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad after he made a string of remarks against Western nations and Israel at a UN conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in New York. He accused other countries of preventing Iran from developing what he called a civilian nuclear program. He also said that nuclear arms are "a fire against humanity, rather than a weapon of defense. The possession of nuclear bombs is not a source of pride. Its possession is disgusting and shameful."
Hilary Clinton, who spoke at the UN conference later that same day, responded that "Iran will do whatever it can to divert attention away from its own record in an attempt to evade accountability."
Iran has thus far been increasingly under pressure over its nuclear program, and US officials characterized his latest speech, which caused several delegates to walk out, as a sign of increased Iranian isolation from the rest of the world.
The American carriers Continental Airlines and United Airlines officially announced Monday their plans to merge after both companies' boards of directors approved the plan on Sunday afternoon. The joint company will remain branded as United Airlines, keeping the United name but will use the Continental Globe and colors and will be formally known as United Continental Holdings Inc. This merger will allow Continental and United to surpass the recent Delta and Northwest merger, becoming the largest airline in the world when the merger is finalized. Stock price of both companies rose when news of their merger was announced.
Unlike most mergers, this one is relatively even in terms of what each company receives as a result. United Airline is taking 55% control of the combined company, as well as becoming the main base for the group in Chicago. Continental’s Chief Executive Officer will become the CEO of the combined company, and will gain control of the other 45% of the new airline.
For now, the companies will remain operating independently pending a United States Department of Justice anti-trust review which will set the stage for finalization of the merger later this year.
Iraq starts manual vote recount (4:52)
The Iraqi election commission has started to manually recount about 2.5 million ballots cast in the capital of Baghdad during parliamentary elections from two months ago. According to officials, the counting could take from two to three weeks.
The recount was requested by incumbent Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is accusing the opposition of fraud, when provisional results gave the bloc led by rival Iyad Allawi a two-seat lead. al-Maliki's election coalition, however, now says the recount should be stopped, saying the election commission isn't using the correct procedures and will have an incorrect result.
The Iraqi parliamentary poll, held on March 7, resulted in the Iraqiya bloc receiving 91 seats, while the incumbent PM's State of Law coalition taking 89 seats; in order to form a government, a block must obtain 163 parliament seats.
California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill that would ban smoking in California state parks and beaches, insisting that the bill would not help curb littering at parks and beaches.
California senator Jenny Oropeza, a Democrat and author of the bill, stated this is "already being done at more than 100 local cities and counties statewide." and the she is "sorry the governor did not agree with this widely supported effort to increase public awareness about the environmental threats carelessly tossed cigarettes are doing to our marine life and to the great outdoors"
The bill, called Senate Bill 4, would have allowed for a US$100 fine for potential violators.
On this day in history (6:34)
In 1970, The Kent State shootings occurred at Kent State University.
The incident began as a student protest to the United States involvement in the Vietnam war, specifically, the Nixon Administration decision to escalate the war into neighboring Cambodia.
Protests at Kent State actually started on May 1st when about 500 students gathered for a rally early in the day, but by late that night in the town of Kent, where the University is located, people began rioting, throwing beer bottles and breaking store fronts. When the authorities were called in, the crowd threw beer bottles and shouted obscenities at the police officers.
The next day, on May 2nd, the mayor of Kent, Leroy Satrom, declared a State of Emergency and asked Ohio Governor James A. Rhodes to send the National Guard to Kent to help maintain order.
That night, when the National Guard had arrived, a large demonstration was already underway and arsonists had set fire to the school's Reserve Officer Training Corps building. As firemen attempted to put out the blaze, students slashed the fire hoses and the National Guard used tear gas to disperse the crowd and they made several arrests.
On May 3rd, Governor Rhodes called the protesters un-American and referred to the protesters as revolutionaries set on destroying higher education in Ohio. During the speech, Rhodes said he would obtain a court order ordering an official state of emergency, thus banning further demonstrations which gave the impression that he was putting Kent under martial law.
Finally, on May 4th, a scheduled student demonstration took place at noon on campus grounds. The National Guard attempted to disperse the crowd initially using tear gas on the protesters, but because of winds, it had little effect. Next the Guardsmen, with bayonets fixed on their rifles, advanced on the crowd and this managed to disperse many demonstrators, but not all of them.
Then at 12:24 p.m., 29 of the 77 guardsmen fired their M1 Garand rifles at the students using a total of 67 bullets. The shooting was determined to have lasted 13 seconds killing four students and wounding nine.
The shootings led to protests on college campuses throughout the United States, and a student strike – causing more than 450 campuses across the country to close with both violent and non-violent demonstrations. Just five days after the shootings, 100,000 people demonstrated in Washington, D.C., against the war and the killing of the unarmed student protesters.
On May 14, ten days after the Kent State shootings, two students were killed (and 12 wounded) by police at the historically black Jackson State University under similar circumstances, but that event did not arouse the same nationwide attention as the Kent State shootings.
And those are the top headlines for Tuesday, May 4th, 2010
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