News briefs:May 8, 2006

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The time is 17:30 (UTC) on May 8th, 2006, and this is Audio Wikinews News Briefs.

Headlines

U.S. President George W. Bush nominates Gen. Michael Hayden as director of CIA

United States

United States Air Force General Michael Hayden has been nominated as the new director of the CIA. "The men and woman of the CIA will have a strong leader to support them," said U.S. President George W. Bush in a press conference today. "This is simply too important to not get absolutely right," said Hayden. Hayden was head of the NSA from 1999-2005 and was in charge of the eavesdropping program which allows the U.S. government to monitor e-mail and international telephone calls of suspected terrorists without obtaining a warrant. Last year, he became the deputy for the director of National Intelligence John Negroponte.


Ahmadinejad sends open letter to Bush

Iran

It has just been announced that for the first time in three decades, direct, and at least partially public, diplomatic communication will commence between the United States (US) and Iran. Iranian government spokesman Gholam-Hossein Elham said that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has sent a letter directly to US president George W. Bush proposing "new solutions for getting out of international problems and the current fragile situation of the world". The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said that the contents of the letter would be made public once Bush had received the letter. According to a BBC report timestamped "8 May 2006, 09:25 GMT 10:25", spokespeople for Bush claimed that the letter had not yet been received.


Thailand election was invalid, rules court

Thailand

Thailand's Constitutional Court has ruled that the general election, held on April 2, 2006, is invalid and orders fresh poll. Thailand is in the middle of political turmoil since the election, which was called by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in the face of mounting protests. "The constitutional court voted 8 to 6 that the elections were unconstitutional and voted 9 to 5 to hold a new election," said Judge Ura Wangomklang on Monday. Earlier, the opposition parties boycotted the April poll. As a result, some of the seats remained empty, which meant parliament could not be formed. Thaksin Shinawatra, the prime minister, was unable to form a new government.


Sex-for-aid spreads in war-torn Liberia

Liberia

The aid agency Save the Children says an alarming number of girls in Liberia, as young as eight, were having sex with UN peacekeepers, policemen, teachers and humanitarian aid workers in exchange for money, food or favours. "People don't really accept it but because of the financial constraints, people just have to do so. Most of them are in households headed by only the mother, catering for children. Their fathers got killed in the war, or some fathers are living but can't afford to care for their children; they have to accept the situation, so there is no way out. " The report says most people cited lack of economic and livelihood opportunities, as well as chronic poverty, as underlying causes for the ongoing exploitation of children.


Anti-censorship developers targeting China's "Great Firewall"

Canada

Psiphon is being launched the end of this month as a highly anticipated software program that allows Internet users inside China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Burma, to get around censorship without getting detected by the censors. Three University of Toronto students, Ron Deibert, Nart Villeneuve, and Michael Hull combined their political passion and love of free expression to create the software program which is attracting attention globally from people like Sharon Hom, executive director of New York-based "Human Rights in China".


Rescue of Tasmanian miners delayed

Australia

Rescuers working to free miners trapped during the Beaconsfield mine collapse have moved to a slightly faster blasting method. The rescue effort was expected to be concluded on Sunday, however due to rescuers encountering extremely hard rock, it has been once again delayed.


Union criticizes East London Line 'privatisation'

England

The transport union RMT has criticised Transport for London (TfL) for the decision to apparently privatise the East London Line, which is undergoing a major upgrade and extension programme over the coming years. The announcement follows a report from BBC News which claims that a 'leaked memo' has revealed plans for the line to be run by the private sector come 2009. RMT General Secretary said "there is no earthly reason why its operations should not remain within London Underground", adding that the Union would take steps to safeguard the jobs of its members currently working on the line.


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