Wikinews Shorts: December 13, 2008

A compilation of brief news reports for Saturday, December 13, 2008.

President-Elect Obama's inaugural donations to be listed online

President-Elect Obama in Austin, TX during the campaign. (Courtesy of Roxanne Mitchel)

The Presidential Inaugural Committee says it is "taking unprecedented steps to insure transparency in the public reporting of donors" by listing the names of individuals or organizations who donate over $200 towards President-Elect Barack Obama's upcoming inaugural.

Logging onto will show you a current list of over 169 current donors who have given at least that amount, and for most of the donors, much more. Donors include movie stars, real estate moguls, and sports stars, many of whom also contributed to Obama's presidential campaign.

The Presidential Inaugural Committee states that it has raised almost $10 million dollars to cover the inaugural; and while that may seem like a large amount, the spending record for an inaugural is held by the current president, George W. Bush, with $42.8 million spent on his 2004 inaugural.

Scientists detect black hole at center of Milky Way Galaxy

A simulation of the black hole.

American and German astronomers have detected and confirmed that there is a 'super-massive' black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy. It is approximately 27,000 light years from Earth, and four million times bigger than the Sun. Scientists say it plays a significant role in forming all galaxies.

The 16-year study was performed using two telescopes located in Chile. They discovered it by tracking the movement of over two dozen separate stars. The study will be published next month in The Astrophysical Journal.


Zimbabwe accuses United Kingdom of causing cholera epidemic

An ally of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, has said that a cholera epidemic in the country, which killed hundreds of people, was caused by the United Kingdom.

Ndlovu said of the outbreak that it was a "genocidal onslaught on the people of Zimbabwe by the British." It was compared to a "serious biological chemical weapon".

This comes just a day after President Mugabe announced that the cholera epidemic had been stopped, contradicting aid workers saying that the crisis was only getting worse.

Mugabe has already accused Western powers of planning to use the epidemic as a reason to oust him.


Colombia extradites drug lord to the United States


Montoya's mugshot
(Image missing from Commons: image; log)

Diego Montoya, who is alleged to be one of the Colombia's most powerful drug lords, has been handed over to the United States authorities by Colombia to face trial. Montoya will face 12 charges, including those of murder, money laundering, and the trafficking of drugs. If convicted, he will serve no less than twenty years in prison.

Montoya was the leader of the Norte del Valle cartel, which is reported to have exported 70% of all the cocaine sold in both the European Union and the United States at its height. He was on the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation's "Top Ten" most wanted fugitives.


Rare snowfall strikes southern United States

Snow has started falling in some southern states of the US, including Louisiana and Mississippi. As much as eight inches of snow were recorded, and thousands of people were left without power - one of Louisiana's largest power suppliers, Cleco Corporation, reported ten thousand outages. Forecasters warned of dangerous driving conditions, and some flights at Louis Armstrong International Airport, located near New Orleans, were affected.

In New Orleans, snow fell today for the first time in four years. The largest snowfall amount for the city ever recorded is about 5 inches, on December 30, 1963.


Pin-up queen Bettie Page dies at age 85

Bettie Page, a model who became famous for her pin-up photos, has died at the age of 85. Page died of complications from a heart attack on Thursday, December 11.

She was born Bettie Mae Page on April 22, 1923 in Nashville, Tennessee. She was also one of the earliest Playmates of the Month for Playboy magazine.


Estonian law to allow voting by cell phone

The Parliament of Estonia has passed a law that will allow citizens to vote by mobile phone in the 2011 parliamentary elections. Voters will need free, authorized chips for their phones.

In last year's elections, Estonians voted online. The country's Reform Party proposed mobile voting in September 2007.