Wikinews:Briefs/April 17, 2010

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From Wikinews, the free news source, this is the audio Wikinews brief for Saturday, April 17th, 2010. I'm Dan Harlow and here are today's top stories:



In Pakistan today, three separate regions experienced violence.

Two successive suicide bombings killed 30 people in a camp providing aid to displaced people in northwestern Pakistan. The two explosions hit the Kacha Pukha camp located near the city of Kohat. Nearly 50 people there were wounded.

Al Jazeera's Kamal Hyder said from Islamabad that the bomber hit the camp when a food distribution programme was underway.

In southwest Pakistan a suicide bomber attacked an emergency room of a hospital in Quetta, killing eight people, including three policemen. Approximately 35 people were wounded in the attack. The explosion occurred in the Civil Hospital of the city.

The hospital was full of journalists who were reporting about the shooting of a bank manager belonging to the Shiite community. Police official Mohammad Sabir, claimed the room was full of the manager's friends and family when the suicide bomber attacked.

Finally, in the Orakzai region of the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan, seventeen insurgents were killed in clashes with security troops. Several rebels were injured in the attack according to officials and security personnel alleged that they had arrested a senior Taliban leader in the attack. None of the soldiers were injured during the fighting.

Meanwhile, elders of various tribes demanded the government to bar security forces from carring out operations affecting the people of the area. They said that the government should have allowed the people some time to shift from the area before launching these attacks, claiming the air strikes in the region also killed some civilians.

In Europe today, aviation experts are warning that air traffic across western Europe may continue to be affected by an Icelandic volcano which has been billowing clouds of ash and spreading it throughout the region.

Already, thousands of passengers have been left stranded around the world, unable to travel to and from various points in Europe. The continent's air-traffic control center predicted 17,000 flights to have been canceled on Friday alone, and indicated there would be further disruption today. According to the International Air Transport Association, the cancellations are costing airlines about US$200 million daily.

In financial news, US bank Goldman Sachs has been accused of fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission; an American financial regulator.

According to the SEC, Goldman Sachs failed to inform investors of a conflict of interest in the banks' marketing of sub-prime mortgage investments, which were being sold at a time of uncertainty in the US housing market. The SEC says that a Goldman subsidiary, Paulson & Co, had been involved in the selection of securities included in the mortgage investments. It had not been disclosed to investors that Paulson had bet that the value of the investments would fall, benefiting Paulson but not those who bought the investments.

The securities, which were combined into a package called Abacus that was sold to investors, lost over $1 billion during the collapse of the US housing industry. According to the SEC, Goldman, Paulson, and the creator of Abacus, a vice-president of Goldman Sachs named Fabrice Tourre, all knew that the housing market was going to collapse, but continued to sell Abacus despite the risks.

A United Nations report released Thursday says that the death of Benazir Bhutto after a suicide bomber attacked her motorcade in 2007 was preventable and was caused by the failure of the government to live up to its obligations to protect her.

The report, released by a three-person UN commission, accused the Pakistani government of failing to take "the necessary measures to respond to the extraordinary, fresh and urgent security risks that they knew she faced." Additionally, Pakistani investigators were said to have deliberately avoided solving the case, as they were afraid that the evidence would indict the government.

According to the commission, "irreparable damage to the investigation" was caused by the actions taken directly after the assassination, including cleaning the area in which Bhutto was killed and failing to collect evidence pertaining to the crime. In an area that should have yielded thousands of pieces of evidence, UN investigators recovered only 23.

The report was unexpectedly harsh, and provided damning accounts of specific security failures around the assassination. It said that "The commission believes that the failure of the police to investigate effectively Ms Bhutto's assassination was deliberate."

Embattled Japanese automaker Toyota, has issued a voluntary recall of 870,000 of its Sienna minivans in North America.

The models affected are the first and second generation vehicles, which were manufactured between 1998 and 2010. It has been discovered that salt, used to grit roads and melt snow in northern US states and Canada, could potentially cause corrosion in the spare tire carrier cable. In a worse case scenario, this corrosion could lead to the wheel becoming detached and becoming a hazard for following vehicles. The new 2011 version of the Sienna is not affected, nor are all wheel drive versions of the vehicle.

This is the latest blow to Toyota's reputation for safety and quality and the recall comes just days after the company announced the suspension of sales of the Lexus GX 460 SUV over fears that it was susceptible to rollovers.

Finally, several tobacco manufacturers and retailers in the United Kingdom have been fined a total of £225 million for price fixing. The fines were imposed by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) following an investigation lasting seven years. It is the largest penalty ever issued by the OFT for breaches of the 1998 Competition Act, with the case involving two major tobacco makers and numerous British supermarkets.

Together the manufacturers involved, Imperial Tobacco (whose brands include Golden Virginia and Lambert & Butler) and Gallaher Group (who owns Silk Cut and Benson & Hedges among others) make almost 90% of all cigarettes and roll-ups sold in the UK. They were fined £112 million and £50 million respectively.

The supermarkets facing the largest penalties were Asda and The Co-operative Group, at £14 million each. Other stores fined were First Quench, Morrisons, Safeway, Shell garages, Somerfield, T&S Stores (now One Stop) and TM Retail. Also taking part in the price fixing were Sainsbury's, though they received immunity from being fined after alerting the OFT and co-operating with the investigation. Some of the other companies also earned reductions in their fines through co-operation with the OFT.

Similar allegations against Tesco were not pursued due to a lack of evidence.

Imperial Tobacco denied the charges, claiming in a statement that its dealings with the retailers were simply legitimate "promotional arrangements". They have said they are considering an appeal against the decision.

On this day in history (8:05)


In 1506 construction of the current St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, to replace the old St. Peter's Basilica built in the 4th century, began.



And those are the top headlines for Saturday, April 17th, 2010

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