Wikinews Shorts: May 15, 2009

A compilation of brief news reports for Friday, May 15, 2009.


California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed budget cuts and layoffs for California yesterday.

Californian education budgets would be cut by $3 billion USD for the next five years if California voters gave a yes votes to the budget-related measures for May 19’s special election.

Schwarzenegger is also ready to sell state properties including the San Quentin State Prison and the Los Angeles Coliseum to raise money for the state.

Sources


Nintendo DS sales hit one million units last April. However, even with Nintendo’s moderate success with their DS gaming system, all video game sales have declined 17%.

GameSpot writer Tor Thorsen claims that Nintendo DSi, the current release of the Nintendo DS, is an acronym for “Dominating Sales in America.”

Sources


Eight-time gold medalist Michael Phelps, in a recent conference Thursday, told reporters he will enter a swimming competition today.

This is Phelps’ first swim meet since he was photographed with a marijuana pipe in his mouth.

Phelps will swim the 200-meter freestyle and 100-meter butterfly races.

After the marijuana pipe photo was released, Phelps was unsure of whether he would swim again.

Sources


Israel buys nuclear capable subs

Friday, August 25, 2006

Israel has purchased two more Dolphin class submarines which have the capacity to carry nuclear warheads. Israel already has three older nuclear weapons-capable Dolphin submarines but the new Dolphins have propulsion systems that allow them to remain submerged for longer periods of time, according to the Jerusalem Post, making it harder for them to be tracked by satellite. Experts view the purchase as a clear signal to Iran that Israel can retaliate if subjected to a nuclear attack.

“The Iranians would be very foolish if they attacked Israel,” said Paul Beaver, a British based defence analyst, speaking to the Washington Post. According to Beaver, the submarines would provide Israel with both first strike and second strike capability.

Israel already has land-based nuclear-capable ballistic missiles in the form of the Jericho I and II missiles.

German officials confirm that the contracts for the new submarines was signed July 6. The Jerusalem Post reports that they will be operational shortly.

Israel has never confirmed nor denied that it has nuclear weapons but is believed to have the world’s sixth largest stockpile of the devices, with most outside estimates putting their stockpile in the low hundreds. Israel’s possession of nuclear arms has often been a locus of bitter controversy in the Middle East, especially among countries who believe that the world community, and especially the United States, is hypocritical in its tolerance of Israeli nuclear arms while decrying the efforts of other Middle Eastern nations to develop their own nuclear capabilities.

Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Post reports there is a growing mood among Israel’s defence establishment that the country will have to act independently to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons as the United States is unlikely to do so.

“America is stuck in Iraq and cannot go after Iran militarily right now,” according to an unnamed official quoted by the paper.

A report by the US House of Representatives’ Intelligence Committee released on Wednesday asserts that if Iran arms itself with nuclear weapons, Israel would be pressed to respond militarily. “A nuclear armed Iran would likely exacerbate regional tensions. Israel would find it hard to live with a nuclear armed Iran and could take military action against Iranian nuclear facilities,” the report states. Iran has continually maintained that it seeks only to develop nuclear technology for the production of electrical power, though this has been disputed by many nations.

Swiss reject single health insurance

Monday, March 12, 2007

24 of 26 Swiss Cantons rejected the proposal for a single health insurance system, in which premiums would be based on income and wealth. The vote on Sunday was the latest in a series of attempts to cut rising costs and ease the financial burden on citizens.

Around 71% of voters rejected the reform. Turnout was at about 46%, slightly above the Swiss average.

As expected, voters in the main German-speaking part of the country turned down the planned reform, which was supported by the centre-left but opposed by the centre-right as well as the business community, parliament and the government.

Opposition in the French and Italian speaking regions was less pronounced. The cantons Jura and Neuchâtel in the French speaking regions voted in favor of the proposed reforms.

Health insurance premiums are higher in southern and western Swiss cantons than in German-speaking areas.

The Swiss Interior Minister Pascal Couchepin said an important part of the Swiss Population appeared to be opposed to “a revolution” in health insurance but he said that he wanted current reforms currently under discussion in the Swiss Parliament to go ahead. He called on all sides, especially health insurers and the cantonal authorities, to make efforts to reduce spending on health insurance and aim for a greater cost efficiency. Currently Switzerland has 87 private insurers providing mandatory basic health care coverage for Swiss residents under a 1996 law. But costs have sky-rocketed. Over 100,000 people are not covered by health insurance due to non payment.

To win the battle of the cost of health care, everyone must place his or her private interests behind the interests of the general public. -Pascal Couchepin at a news conference

Opponents to the initiative argued that a single insurance system would lead to complacency and create a two-tier system, in which the wealthy would be the only ones available to afford to have additional private insurance coverage.

Supporters of the initiative said a single health insurer would increase the system’s efficiency and allow for annual savings of at least 300 million Swiss Francs (about $245 million) in administrative costs. Currently, the funding system is unbalanced, since many clients on low incomes use state subsidies to pay their premiums, according to the Green Party and the Social Democrats.

The initiative to unite all the insurance companies and introduce premiums based on wealth and income was the most recent in a series of attempts over the past ten years to reduce the public spending on health care. A proposal, similar to this recent proposal, to modify the funding system of the health insurance companies was rejected by 73% of voters in 2003.

Switzerland has the most expensive health system in Europe. Switzerland’s expenditure on health care was 11.6% in 2005, in front of Germany and France but behind the United States.

Learn more about Swiss Federal Council and Voting in Switzerland on Wikipedia.

One dead after bus and bicycle crash in Hampshire, England

Monday, July 19, 2010

A person has died after being involved in a collision between a bus and a bicycle in Hampshire in the south of England, United Kingdom. The woman, who has not been publicly identified, was cycling in the seaside resort of Southsea when a number 700 Stagecoach single-decker bus, which was travelling from Brighton to Southsea, collided with her bicycle at approximately 1315 BST (1215 UTC) on Saturday. A helicopter transported the woman to Southampton General Hospital, where she died at approximately 1630 BST (1530 UTC) on the same day.

None of the occupants of the bus were injured. The 53-year-old bus driver has now been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving. Hampshire Constabulary is requesting any witnesses to the accident to contact them. PC Phil Hunt also mentioned: “We are also trying to trace the passengers, who left the scene before we could speak to them.”

The road traffic accident occurred in an area where Portsmouth City Council had been intending to place a new cycle route, but the plans to do so were cancelled last week. The plans, which would have cost £250,000 (US$382,373, €296,481, A$441,126), were said to have been cancelled due to financial difficulties.

Portsmouth Cycle Forum vice chair Jon Spencer has stated: “Sadly, we’ve had to wait less than a week for a brutal illustration of why we need this cycle route.” The vice chair of the local cycling group continued: “The road at Clarence Pier is very narrow, very crowded by parked cars and very busy. It is the most popular part of the seafront but at the moment it is a no-go area for cyclists. The city council are obviously happy for this to remain the case.”

This terrible accident is yet another reminder that large vehicles, busy traffic and cyclists are not a happy mix.

John Holland, the chair of the Forum, wrote on PompeyBUG, a local cycling Internet forum: “Portsmouth Cycle Forum is very sad to learn of the death in a road accident of a woman cyclist at Clarence Esplanade on Saturday 17 July. Our thoughts lie with her family and friends to whom send our deepest condolences. The cyclist was involved in collision with a bus in the vicinity of Pier Road and Clarence Esplanade, close to Clarence Pier.

“This terrible accident is yet another reminder that large vehicles, busy traffic and cyclists are not a happy mix. Whilst it will be some time before the details are made public, we urge the Portsmouth City Council to press ahead with making this section of our seafront much safer and calmer for all. Almost exactly one year ago, a cyclist was seriously injured Clarence Esplanade when a car reversed blindly from a parking bay into the road.

“Portsmouth City Council is on the verge of postponing Phase 2 of the Southsea Seafront Cycle Route. Had this been in place yesterday then this awful incident might have been avoided. We urge councillors to think again. A safe and segregated cycle route can be built – one which doesn’t loose any car parking, one which doesn’t stop people looking out to sea from their cars, one which doesn’t involve cycling on the promenade. We will be pushing hard for this – we don’t want any more injuries and fatalities on our seafront roads.”

Man cuts off his own penis in UK restaurant

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

An unnamed Polish man, 35, is being treated at a hospital in London, England after he cut off his penis with a knife at Zizzi’s pizza restaurant on Strand Street in the city of Westminster.

“We were called at 9.00 p.m. on Sunday to a restaurant on the Strand to reports of a man in possession of a knife. Officers attended to discover a man believed to be 30-40 years old suffering from an injury. He was taken to a south London hospital in a stable condition. No one else was injured and his injuries are believed to be self inflicted,” said a Scotland Yard spokesperson.

Police had to use CS tear gas on the victim in order to subdue him to get him to the hospital to receive medical attention.

Witnesses say that the man came into the restaurant, picked a knife up off the floor of the kitchen and then got onto a table and cut off his penis.

“At around 9 p.m. on Sunday, a man walked into the Zizzi restaurant on The Strand, down the stairs to the basement restaurant area and tried to enter a kitchen. Members of staff stopped him, at which he ran into a second kitchen area. The man then picked up a kitchen knife and slashed himself across the wrist and groin areas before running back into the restaurant, where he continued to stab himself,” said a spokesperson for the restaurant.

Surgeons are attempting to reattach his organ in what doctors call the first time this kind of surgery has been performed in the UK. It is not yet known if the operation was successful.

“If it doesn’t take, then you would have to re-amputate it. Attaching the penis is a very long, complex and painstaking operation,” said Francis Chinegwundoh, a urologist at St Bartholomew’s Hospital which is located in London. Chinegwundoh also said that that the victim will not feel his penis and it will not be possible for him to maintain an erection unless he uses a special machine, even if the operation were a success.

US: Evidentiary documents released in Golden State Killer case

Friday, June 1, 2018

On Friday, the Sacramento, California County Superior Court in the United States, with Judge Michael Sweet presiding, publicly released approximately 123 heavily redacted pages from an 800 page document related to the trial of 72-year-old Joseph DeAngelo, in the Golden State Killer (GSK) case. The high-profile case prompted the defense to motion delaying the release on the grounds of jury tainting.

From 1974 to 1986, there were 12 murders, 45 rapes, and 120 burglaries ascribed to the GSK. Many of these crimes were initially attributed to separate suspects, and California investigators coined such nicknames as “East Area Rapist,” “Original Night-stalker,” “Visalli Ransacker,” and “Diamond Knot Killer.” All these identities were later determined to be the GSK. DeAngelo is currently being charged with first degree murder with special circumstances, and is being further investigated for the 1975 first degree murder of Claude Snelling.

GSK’s alleged victims include 18-year-old Janelle Lisa Cruz on May 4, 1986; 35-year-old Cheri Domingo on July 27, 1981; 27-year-old Greg Sanchez on July 27, 1981; 24-year-old Keith Harrington on August 21, 1975; 27-year-old Patti Harrington on August 21, 1975; 21-year-old Brian Maggiore on February 2, 1978; 20-year-old Katie Maggiore on February 2, 1978; 44-year-old Dr. Robert Offerman on December 30, 1979; 35-year-old Debra Manning on December 30, 1979; 35-year-old Lyman Smith on March 13, 1980; 33-year-old Charlene Smith on March 13, 1980; 45-year-old Claude Snelling on September 11, 1975; and 28-year-old Manuela Witthuhn on February 5, 1981.

Law enforcement used DNA and other evidence to link the twelve known murders attributed to the GSK to suspect DeAngelo. Any DNA from rape kits and burglaries that predates 1970 is only admissible in court for murder cases because of California’s statute of limitations. The DNA evidence allegedly implicating DeAngelo was not found through the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) database, which catalogs 20 sections of DNA from local, state, federal, and some international agencies making a unique profile for 16 million individuals, but CODIS did rule out other GSK suspects, like Paul “Cornfed” Schneider and Joe Alsip.

Instead, law enforcement used a nuance investigative technique, comparing GSK’s DNA profile against the open-sourced GEDmatch’s genealogical DNA database. The GEDmatch’s database flagged a GSK blood relative and, with other evidence, DeAngelo was suspected of being involved with GSK’s crimes. The genealogical website methodology is not unique to the GSK case. GEDmatch’s database was also used to identify 51-year-old William Earl Talbott II in the 1987 rape and homicide of Jay Cook (20) and Tanya Van Cuylenborg (18) in Seattle, Washington.

The newly released documents reveal DeAngelo’s DNA was not collected via a warrant but rather from the door handle of his personal vehicle as he was shopping in a local Hobby Lobby on April 18. A secondary sample was collected from a tissue found in the garbage on April 23. The door handle and tissue DNA were compared to a semen sample from a known GSK murder that had been confirmed using the CODIS’s 20 section DNA profile standard. On April 24, DeAngelo was arrested for the twelve GSK murders. A warrant for DeAngelo’s Citrus Heights, California residence disclosed dozens of wedding rings, photographs, driver’s licenses, and other objects allegedly taken from victims as trophies.

Public defender David Lynch, tasked with defending DeAngelo, motioned for the 800 documents to be sealed until trial to prevent the jury from becoming tainted. Lynch has also questioned the validity of certain search warrants for undisclosed reasons. Prosecutors from Sacramento, Ventura, Orange, and Santa Barbara counties have not determined the best way to prosecute DeAngelo considering the complexity, age, and multiple jurisdictions of the case.

DeAngelo was, until 1979, a police officer in small California towns. After allegedly stealing a hammer and dog repellent, DeAngelo was subsequently fired from the Auburn, California police force. He later became a truck mechanic near Sacramento.

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Historic Florida attraction, Gatorland, partly destroyed by fire

Monday, November 6, 2006

Gatorland, an Orlando, Florida tourist attraction known for its gator wrestling shows and its conservation programs for alligators, crocodiles, and other reptiles and birds, was heavily damaged by fire on Monday morning, November 6, 2006.

The four-alarm fire was reported at 5:55am EST. The entrance building, which contains the administration offices and the gift shop, was destroyed. The only thing left standing of it was its iconic gator head front gate, whose upper jaw was almost completely charred.

At least four animals — two gators and two snakes, which were being kept near the gift shop — were feared dead. No humans were hurt. The other gators in the public display took refuge in the central pools, and were okay. The birds were in the aviary in the back, and were in no danger.

None of the attraction venues beyond the gift shop, however, were damaged. Gatorland hopes to reopen for tourists in a week, using a temporary entrance.

Orange County Fire Rescue is investigating the cause of the fire.

Second Arab-Israeli bulldozer attack in July 2008

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sixteen were wounded, one seriously when a Palestinian rammed a backhoe loader into a bus followed by attacks on several other vehicles Tuesday afternoon in Jerusalem before he was shot dead by the security forces. This is the second such incident in Jerusalem in three weeks. A spokesman for the Israeli police said that a civilian shot the vehicle’s driver but the bulldozer was still running. A police patrol continued shooting until the driver died.

The bulldozer driver who was, according to witnesses, wearing a large white skullcap common to religious Muslims, first hit the No. 13 bus on its side and then chased it while raising the shovel of his front-end loader, the driver managed to make a right turn and get away from the bulldozer which then went on to zig zag across the street and hit further cars until it came to a stop following the driver being gunned down.

Today’s bulldozer attack is a reminder of what Israelis have courageously lived with on a daily basis for far too long.

Speaking in Amman, United States presidential candidate Barack Obama said: “Today’s bulldozer attack is a reminder of what Israelis have courageously lived with on a daily basis for far too long. I strongly condemn this attack and will always support Israel in confronting terrorism and pursuing lasting peace and security.”

After the attack, which follows a similar attack on July 2, and the indictment of six Israeli-Arabs from Jerusalem accused of belonging to a terrorist cell, Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski, said: “We should reconsider the employment of these people.”

Reasons To Let Professionals Install Garage Door Replacements

byAlma Abell

Being the owner of a home is very rewarding and sometimes overwhelming job. Managing all of the repairs that can happen within a home can seem like a full-time job at times. Keeping a home safe and secure is an ongoing mission for most homeowners. Among the most beneficial things that a homeowner can add to ensure safety and security is a garage door. In some cases, the garage door that is installed on a home will being to breakdown and will require a replacement door to be installed. The following are some of the benefits that come with letting a professional handle the installation of Garage Door Replacements.

They Can Remove the Old Door Without Incident

One of the first benefits that a garage door installer can bring is a problem free removal of the old door. Most garage doors are awkward and heavy, which can make them very dangerous to remove along. Instead of causing more damage to the door frame or themselves, the homeowner can allow a professional to handle this process for them. By finding a reputable and experienced company, the homeowner will be able to get their old door down in no time at all.

Choosing the Best Replacement

When choosing to use a profession for this process, the homeowner will be able to get some advice on which door is the best replacement. Usually, a homeowner will have very limited knowledge regarding garage doors and how to pick the right one. The professionals will have no problem helping the homeowner figure out what they need and which doors can best fit that need. Taking the time to find the right installers will help to make this process so much easier on the homeowner. The money that is paid to the professionals for their services will be worth it.

Receiving professional installation of Garage Door Replacements will help to reduce the stress that can come along with a repair like this. Garage Door Operators Inc is one of the most experienced and hardworking companies in their area. Be sure to call them or go to their website for more information. You can also find them on Facebook.

London Planetarium closes to make way for celebrity-themed show

Sunday, April 30, 2006

The London Planetarium, famous for its distinctive green dome and for being next to Madame Tussauds, will close this week to make way for a new celebrity-themed show opening in July. The Planetarium used to be an attraction in its own right, but in recent years has become simply a feature tacked onto the end of the waxworks tour, the original 45 minute show cut down to just over 10 minutes. The planetarium will be renamed ‘The Auditorium’ and will feature a show that “gets to the heart of celebrity”, being produced in collaboration with animation house Aardman Productions.

Famous astronomer Sir Patrick Moore has called the decision “most regrettable”, and many have commented that the change from space to celebrity is an unfortunate sign of our times.

To say ‘farewell’ to the planetarium, Tussauds have allowed free entry in its penultimate week, from 24th – 30th April. Visitors could enter through the group admissions entrance to see the show, running every twenty minutes. Unlike the queues for Madame Tussauds, which typically run right up the street, few people waited to see the planetarium show, even on the Saturday. The show, titled Journey to Infinity, was projected onto the inside of the dome using Digistar 3 digital projectors. It told the story of space, starting from Earth and zooming out to reveal the other planets in the Solar System, the Milky Way, the other galaxies and the rest of the universe. It ended with an optimistic message suggesting that humans would continue to explore space, going further than ever before.

The London Planetarium opened in 1958 on the site of an old cinema that was destroyed in the second world war. Evening laser performances called ‘Laserium’ were held between 1977 and 1990. A £4.5 million redevelopment saw it relaunch in 1995 with a new ‘Digistar II‘ monochromatic 3D projection system. This was upgraded to the full-colour ‘Digistar 3‘ system in 2004 which is currently in use.

The planetarium at the also famous Royal Observatory in Greenwich has also been closed since September 2004, however this is due to re-open in 2007 having received a £15 million redevelopment programme. It will be three times the size of the old planetarium, and has received backing from Astronomer Royal Sir Martin Rees, and the Astronomer Royal for Scotland, Professor John Brown.