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Wikinews Shorts: April 17, 2007

Trial of Jose Padilla under way in Florida

The trial of Jose Padilla, a US citizen accused of assisting Islamist extremists and conspiracy to commit murder, is underway in Florida. Padilla denies the charges laid against him.

Allegations that Padilla was involved in a dirty bomb plot, made when he was arrested, will not form part of the trial. Two others, Adham Amin Hassoun and Kifah Wael Jayyousi also face charges alongside Padilla.

U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke has told prosecutors that they cannot refer to the September 11, 2001 attacks, to which Padilla is not linked in the charges framed, in a way that suggests guilt by association.

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North Korea may be shutting down nuclear reactor

Preparations for the closure of North Korea's main nuclear facility may have begun according to South Korean news reports.

Intelligence officials said that increasing activity at the nuclear sites indicate preparations for a reaction shutdown. Satellite images released by the Dong-a Ilbo newspaper and Yonhap news agency seem to indicate unusual activity at the Yongbyon facility, housing North Korea's main reactor.

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China mine explosion traps 33 underground

An explosion in a coal mine in Baofeng county, Henan province in China has trapped 33 miners underground.

Chinese state media reports that a second explosion hampered rescue attempts that had begun. Rescue efforts are also hampered as the mine owner and the mine manager fled the site, leaving rescuers with a lack of accurate data about the mine. Police have frozen the owner's bank accounts and are tracking him down.

In another incident, a coal mine pit in Zhuzhou city flooded, trapping twelve miners.

A third incident occurred in Heilongjiang province where at least two miners were trapped after an illegal coal mine collapsed, Xinhua said.

These incident come less than a year after the China pledged to improve mine safety. More than 4,700 coal miners died in accidents last year and the toll for the first three months of this year is 661.

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Excessive bacon bad for lungs, says academic study

A study conducted by Columbia University has found that an increased risk of lung disease could result from consumption of large amounts bacon and other cured meats. Researchers cited additives called nitrites as a possible cause.

The findings, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, indicate that Columbia team found an increased risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in those that had consumed cured meats at least 14 times in a month.

The American Meat Institute said the findings used outdated assumptions about nitrite levels in cured meats.

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E-mail circulating UK Holocaust denial in schools is a hoax

According to a BBC report, various chain e-mails and rumours have been circulated on the internet indicating that the UK has ceased teaching details of the Holocaust to avoid upsetting religious groups who deny its occurrence.

The rumour appears to originate from reports about one school in the North of England where the Holocaust was avoided to avoid offending Muslim students who may be presented with a different picture of history both at home and in their place of worship.

A recent study into teaching indicated that many teachers were uncomfortable covering topics where students may have been exposed to an inaccurate historical account at home, however teaching the details of the Holocaust is required in England. Teaching of the topic is not mandatory in other parts of the UK.

A spokesperson for the UK government confirmed that teaching of the Holocaust is already compulsory in schools at Key Stage 3 (ages 11 to 14) and that it will remain so in the new KS3 curriculum from September 2008.

The e-mail is circulating as the European Union is considering criminalizing denying or trivialising the Holocaust.

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U.S. web broadcasters face steep royalty increases

A coalition of American web broadcasters, led by National Public Radio and including Yahoo! and AOL, has claimed that new royalty arrangements could prove 'fatal' to the industry. The decision to increase royalties, which is due to be enforcible on May 15, came from the Copyright Royalty Board.

"If these rates stand", claimed blogger Kurt Hanson, who writes on the SaveInternetRadio.org, "I believe we will see a virtual shutdown of all U.S. webcasting. That will be bad for listeners, webcasters, musicians, and the record industry alike."

John Simson, executive director of SoundExchange, the not-for-profit organization that collects the royalties, said "Our artists and labels look forward to working with the Internet Radio industry - large and small, commercial and non-commercial - so that together we can ensure it succeeds as a place where great music is available to music lovers of all genres."

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Trial in Italy begins for US soldier

The in abstentia trial of Mario Lozano, a United States soldier, began today in a courtroom inside Rome's maximum security prison Rebibbia in Italy. He stands accused in the death of Nicola Calipari, an Italian intelligence officer who was shot to death during the rescue of Giuliana Sgrena in 2005.

Washington has ruled out handing him over and his lawyer says his client could formally reject the Italian court's authority. Both the US and Italy have classified the shooting was an accident. Nevertheless, an Italian judge charged Lozano with murder and two counts of attempted murder of those in the car.

For journalist Giuliana Sgrena, the freed hostage, the trial shows that US troops can be held accountable for their actions, outside of US military jurisdiction. Sgrena was wounded in the shooting and is separately suing for damages.

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