Wikinews Shorts: April 27, 2007

A compilation of brief news reports for Friday, April 27, 2007.

Stephen Hawking goes weightless

Stephen Hawking in 2006

65-year-old scientist Stephen Hawking took a ride on the "Vomit Comet", an airplane producing weightlessness by following a parabolic flight path. He did this to show awareness for space exploration. The flight took off and landed at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Hawking, who is confined to a wheelchair due to a degenerative disease, was unstrapped from it while the plane made eight free-fall maneuvers that simulate zero-gravity to those on-board. Hawking told reporters he enjoyed the zero-gravity part of his flight and other people with him said he "didn't want to come back".

Hawking made the flight to draw attention to the importance of space exploration. "I believe the human race has no future if it doesn't go into space," he said.


Saudi Arabia arrests 172 militants

Satellite image of Arabian peninsula

Saudi police have arrested 172 militants planning to attack Saudi Arabia's oil fields. They also planned to free inmates and use an aircraft.

"They had the personnel, the money, the arms. Almost all the elements for terror attacks were complete except for setting the zero hour for the attacks," said Brig. Mansour al-Turki, a Ministry of Interior spokesperson. "They had reached an advanced stage of readiness and what remained only was to set the zero hour for their attacks."


Abdullah Gül does not get presidency in first round

Abdullah Gül in Brazil in 2005

Turkey's Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül failed the first round of voting in parliament on Friday. He received 357 votes; 367 votes are required to win. Opposition parties asked the Constitutional Court to stop the voting. If the Constitutional Court rules in favor, a general election could be called.

A second round will be on May 2. If Gül doesn't pick up the additional ten votes then, the process will move on to a third and if necessary a fourth round. During those rounds, only a simple majority is needed so Gül seems assured of getting the presidency.

Related news


Chinese cat reportedly gives birth to 'poodle'

A Poodle

A cat in Zhengzhou, China gave birth to four kittens of which one reportedly looks like a white poodle, says owner Zhang Qiming. People from around the city are making visits to the house where the cat gave birth.

"It looks very different from the other kittens, and its mouth, nose and paws are all dog-like," said owner Zhang Qiming. "Also, its tail is one centimetre shorter than that of the other three kittens."

There appears to be no proof other than the owner's statements that "kitten" is a dog or that the cat in fact gave birth to it.


Top al-Qaeda operative reported in US custody

Abdul Hadi al Iraqi

Bryan Whitman, a spokesperson for the US Department of Defense, said today that the United States has captured Abdul Hadi al-Iraqi, whom it says has worked directly with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Whitman said al-Iraqi was captured when trying to enter Iraq, presumably for the purposes of taking over al-Qaeda operations there. He was taken to Guantanamo Bay about a week ago.

A US State Department website described al-Iraqi as "being a skilled, intelligent, and experienced commander and is an extremely well-respected al-Qaeda leader."