News briefs:May 19, 2010

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Today on Wikinews : The Taleban attack NATO forces for the second straight day, protesters in Thailand clash with police, Portugal legalizes same-sex marriage, and in history, Anne Boleyn is executed London.

Today is Wednesday, May 19th, 2010. I'm Dan Harlow and this is Wikinews.


Script[edit]

Afghan Taleban attacks NATO base; several dead (0:32)[edit]

NATO has said that members of the Taleban launched an attack on the US-run Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan earlier today. Varying media reports say that between five to seven foreign service members and at least ten rebels were killed.

NATO said the rebels started their assault before dawn using small arms, rockets, and grenades.

A spokeswoman for the base, Major Virginia McCabe, said the attackers did not gain access to Bagram, but that one building received minor damage, adding that gunfire had become more sporadic by midday.

The Taleban claimed responsibility for the attack; a spokesman for the group said twenty suicide bombers were involved.

Bagram is one of the largest bases in Afghanistan, lying 50 kilometers north of the capital, Kabul. Wednesday's violence comes a day after the Taleban launched an attack on a NATO convoy in Kabul, killing at least eighteen people, including six NATO soldiers, five US troops and one Canadian.



Oil from Gulf spill reaches major current (1:46)[edit]

US scientists say that oil from the spill in the Gulf of Mexico has reached the Loop Current, which could propel the oil towards the coast of Florida.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), limited amounts of oil have entered the current, and could reach Florida's coast in as few as six days, although it would be highly diluted by the time it did so. Other estimates place the time before oil reaches Florida as closer to ten days.

The loop current is part of the Gulf Stream and is a warm ocean current in the Gulf of Mexico that flows northward between Cuba and the Yucatán peninsula, moves north into the Gulf of Mexico, loops west and south before exiting to the east through the Florida Straits.

Satellite images show oil moving south from the main slick into the current. The speed of the current is predicted to disperse the oil that is picked up, which would lead to difficulties in tracking it.

NOAA qualified their warning by saying that the amount of oil in question is a small percentage of the total spilled, most of which is to the north of the current. The agency's Scientific Support Coordinator, Charlie Henry, said that "[t]here is some light oil filling the loop current," though he said the agency "expect[s] it to degrade before it comes close to threatening South Florida."



Curfew imposed in parts of Thailand (3:12)[edit]

Authorities in Thailand have put around a third of the country, including the capital of Bangkok, under a curfew after leaders of the street protesters known as Red Shirts surrendered.

The curfew is the first in Bangkok in fifteen years, and is to run from 8:00pm to 6:00am local time. As part of the curfew, only government-sanctioned media is to be allowed on television stations. The crackdown by the Thai government comes after army troops entered an area held by protesters and arrested six prominent rebel leaders.

At least six people are confirmed dead after Wednesday's violence, and military operations are expected to continue for at least another night. The government has also authorized security forces to shoot protesters. Around 40 people in total have been killed since the beginning of military operations against protesters last week.

Protesters have set fire to numerous buildings in Bangkok, and the violence has spread to other areas of the country. The second largest shopping center in Southeast Asia was destroyed by fire; Bangkok's stock exchange has been set ablaze. Several other buildings have been evacuated, including those of a state-run television company, Channel 3, which was later set on fire and destroyed, and two other English media companies.

Thailand's Prime Minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, said in an appearance on television that he was "confident and determined to end the problems and return the country to peace and order once again."

Ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra, who most protesters support, warned that the military crackdown could lead to open warfare in Thailand, saying that "[t]here is a theory saying a military crackdown can spread resentment and these resentful people will become guerrillas."



Investigation into Polish air crash reveals passengers in cockpit (5:08)[edit]

The investigation into the plane crash that killed Polish President Lech Kaczynski has revealed that passengers were in the cockpit of the crashed plane. According to the head of the technical commission involved with investigating the crash, Alexei Morozov, the crew of the aircraft had been warned of limited visibility, although it has not been determined whether or not the crew's decision to land had been influenced by the passengers on board. The cause of the crash has not been identified, although the possibility of an explosion or terrorist attack on board the aircraft has been ruled out.

Morozov also said that the crew on board the plane had not been properly trained for the flight, and had been assembled only a few days before the flight. He said that the crew "did not undergo regular simulated training, including the practice of co-ordination and emergency situations during flights."

The overall leader of the investigation, Tatyana Anodina, confirmed that unauthorized people had been in the cockpit near the end of the flight, saying that "in the cockpit there were individuals who were not members of the crew." One person had been identified, although their name has not been released. Anodina said that "[t]he voice of one of them has been identified exactly, the voice of the other, or the others, will require additional information from the Polish side."

The investigation also found that the aircraft involved had been in normal operating condition; Anodina said that "[t]he engines were working up till the moment the plane collided with the ground."



Same-sex marriage allowed in Portugal (6:52)[edit]

On Monday, the Portuguese President, Anibal Cavaco Silva, signed into law a bill that allows same-sex marriages, making the predominately Catholic Portugal the eighth country in the world where same-sex marriage is allowed country-wide. The law will become effective within a few days, after publication in the official gazette.

The new law removes the previous legal stipulation that marriage is between two people of different sexes. Gay rights activists note that the law does not include provisions for same-sex couple's parental rights, including adoption, for which they say they will continue to fight.

In 1982, homosexuality was decriminalized in Portugal. In 2001, "civil unions" were granted to same-sex couples and provided certain legal, tax and property rights. However, the União de Facto limited a surviving partners ability to inherit his or her partner's possessions or state pensions.

Portugal will become the sixth country in Europe to legalize same-sex marriages (after Belgium, Spain, Norway, the Netherlands and Sweden). Canada and South Africa also have legalized same-sex marriage.



On this day in history (8:28)[edit]

On the morning of Friday May 19th, 1536, Anne Boleyn was judicially executed upon a scaffold erected on the north side of the White Tower, in front of what is now the Waterloo Barracks in London. She wore a red petticoat under a loose, dark gray gown of damask trimmed in fur and a mantle of ermine.

A few weeks before, on May 2nd, Anne had been arrested and taken to the Tower of London and three days later, Anne and her brother George Boleyn were tried separately in the Tower of London where she was accused of adultery, incest, and high treason.

Anne had been King Henry VIII's second wife, following Catherine whose marriage had been annulled. However, like Catherine, Anne too was unable to bear Henry a son, and thus heir to the throne and so with the help of Thomas Cromwell, the court conspired and spied on her, eventually condemning her with the testimony of a low-born, Flemish musician named Mark Smeaton.

Smeaton's confession came under the supervised torture of Cromwell who also managed to acquire confessions from some of Anne's higher-born friends, one of whom said that she had had an incestuous affair with her brother. She, of course denied all charges, but the so called evidence against her was too persuasive and she was found guilty.

When Anne climbed the scaffold, she made a short speech to the crowd then knelt upright, in the French style of executions. Her final prayer consisted of her repeating, "To Jesus Christ I commend my soul; Lord Jesus receive my soul."

According to historian Eric W. Ives, her executioner was so taken by Anne that he was shaken, and found it difficult to proceed with the execution. In order to distract her, he shouted, "Where is my sword?" just before killing her so that Anne would never know the sword was coming.

The execution was swift and consisted of a single stroke.



Outro[edit]

And those are the top headlines for Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

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