Wikinews:Briefs/May 12, 2010

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Today on Wikinews : An 8 year old boy is the sole survivor of an air crash in Libya, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reassures Afghanistan of continued American support and Czech composer Bedrich Smetana dies in an asylum in Prague.

Today is Wednesday, May 12th, 2010. I'm Dan Harlow and this is Wikinews.



An Afriqiyah Airways-owned airplane, originating from South Africa, crashed on approach to Tripoli International Airport in Libya at around 06:00 Eastern European time. Initial reports indicated everyone on board died, which officials say is 93 passengers and 11 crew, but later developments say an eight-year-old boy was the sole survivor.

The plane left Johannesburg in South Africa with the aim of transferring at Tripoli before heading to the final destination, United Kingdom's London Gatwick Airport. Officials have ruled out terrorism as a cause of the crash, which is still undetermined. A security official said the plane "exploded on landing and totally disintegrated."

Terrorism has been suspected in Chile where

a Pakistani man, identified as Muhammad Saif-ur-Rehman Khan, 28, was arrested in Chile on Monday after he was found with traces of explosives in the US Embassy.

Chilean police say that traces of Tetryl, used to help detonate explosives, were detected. Yesterday a judge ordered Khan's continued detention under anti-terrorism laws. It has been reported that Khan was in Chile for four months, and was called to the embassy to be told that his visa for the US had been revoked. A US official declined to give the reason behind the decision, saying only that "[we] are required to notify individuals when we take that action and we invited him in."

Khan spoke briefly to Chilean journalists and denied he was a terrorist or that he was handling explosives.

This is not the first incident involving explosives at the US Embassy in Santiago; after the September 11 attacks of 2001, the embassy was sent a letter bomb that was defused.

Unrelated to the events in Chile,

at least fourteen people in Pakistan's North Waziristan region have been killed in drone strikes earlier today by suspected US unmanned aircraft.

The attacks happened in a village located near the Afghanistan border; as many as eighteen missiles were fired at targets, according to security authorities. A local intelligence official said that "Three missiles hit a vehicle and three militants sitting in it were killed."

A nearby compound used by rebels was also attacked with around a dozen missiles fired by drones. The dead in that attack are alleged to have been fighters. A reporter for Al Jazeera says the strikes lasted from twenty to 25 minutes.

As US drone strikes continue in Pakistan,

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in remarks made at a meeting with officials from Afghanistan, said that the US would continue to support Afghanistan even after the withdrawal of US troops from the country next summer.

Clinton made her statements at the beginning of a meeting between US and Afghan officials in Washington DC to forge a plan on how to handle the conflict with the Taliban in the future. The talks are intended to mend some of the disagreements between the governments of the two countries, which have been in conflict with each other in the past; the US has claimed the Afghan government is corrupt and Afghan president Hamid Karzai has accused the US of giving his government insufficient support.

In her speech, Clinton played down concerns that a sudden US exit from Afghanistan could lead to the Afghan government forging agreements with the Taliban in response, an action that has been threatened by Karzai.

Clinton stated that the US "will not abandon the Afghan people," and that "Our civilian commitment will remain long into the future." Karzai, in his statements, acknowledged differences between the two governments, saying that "As two mature nations and two mature governments ... we will be having disagreements from time to time." Even as they acknowledged differences in views, both Clinton and Karzai stressed the accomplishments both countries have achieved.

Finally, while there has been political strains between the US and Afghanistan, on

Tuesday, Colonel Donald Ethell assumed the post of provincial Lieutenant Governor in Edmonton, capital of Alberta, Canada. The swearing-in ceremony took place at Edmonton's Legislative Building, with the retired colonel inspecting the guard afterwards. As is traditional, the taking of the oath of office was accompanied by a fifteen-gun salute.

The 72-year-old decorated war veteran assumes the post from Norman Kwong, who served from January 20 in 1995. Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the appointment last Thursday.

Ethell has served Canada with distinction, spending 38 years in the armed forces, and was involved in over fourteen peacekeeping missions. His honors include being a member of the Order of Canada, the Alberta Order of Excellence, and the Order of St. John. He is known as a leading United Nations' Peacekeeping diplomat, and in later years has been part of the Canadian Association of Veterans.

The first Lieutenant Governor of Alberta was sworn in during 1905, as Alberta became a province of Canada. Ethell is the seventeenth holder of the office.

On this day in history (5:53)


In 1884, the Czech composer Bedrich Smetana, died in an asylum in Prague.

Smetana was seen as a pioneer in the development of a musical style which became closely identified with his country's aspirations to independent statehood and he is widely regarded in his homeland as the father of Czech music. Internationally he is best known for his opera The Bartered Bride, and for the symphonic cycle "My Fatherland" which portrays the history, legends and landscape of the composer's native land.

Smetana was naturally gifted as a pianist, and gave his first public performance at the age of six and wrote his first piece of nationalistic music during the 1848 Prague uprising, in which he briefly participated.

During the liberal political climate in his country during the 1860's, he threw himself into the musical life of Prague, primarily as a champion of the new genre of Czech opera. His first two operas, The Brandenburgers in Bohemia and The Bartered Bride premiered in 1866, the latter achieving great popularity.

That same year, he became Prague's new Provisional Theatre principal conductor, but the years of his conductorship were marked by controversy. Factions within the city's musical establishment considered his identification with the progressive ideas of Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner at odds to the development of a distinctively Czech opera style.

Smetana soon became ill and a throat infection was followed by a rash and an apparent blockage to the ears which soon rendered him deaf A press announcement stated that Smetana had "become ill as a result of nervous strain caused by certain people". Soon after, he reluctantly accepted an annual pension of 1,200 gulden and resigned as principal conductor due to his health problems.

It was after this event in his life which he had begun a cycle of six symphonic poems called "My Fatherland" as well as other major works which cemented his reputation as the principal exponent of Czech national music.

However, in 1879, Smetana had written to a friend revealing fears of the onset of madness. By the winter of 1882–83 he was experiencing depression, insomnia, and hallucinations, together with giddiness, cramp and a temporary loss of speech. In October 1883 his behavior at a private reception in Prague disturbed his friends and by the middle of February 1884 he had ceased to be coherent, and was periodically violent. On 23 April his family, unable to nurse him any longer, removed him to a lunatic asylum in Prague, where he died on 12 May 1884.

According to musicologist John Tyrrell, Smetana's close identification with Czech nationalism, and the tragic circumstances of his last years, have tended to affect the objectivity with which his work has been assessed, particularly in his native land.

Though in his own homeland the general public was slow to recognize Smetana and he had been twice married, lost three daughters in infancy, and eventually went mad, he laid the groundwork for the flowering of Czech music, paving the way for the even more famous Antonín Dvorák.



And those are the top headlines for Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

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