Levy Mwanawasa

Levy Mwanawasa, the President of Zambia died yesterday at age 59. He died in a Paris hospital in France. His death was intially announced by an anonymous family member. It was later confirmed on television by vice president Rupiah Banda.

Mwanawase suffered a stroke while in Egypt in June of this year for an African Union summit, whereafter he was flown to France. His condition suddenly deteriorated on Monday.

“I also wish to inform the nation that national mourning starts today and will be for seven days,” said Banda.

United States President George W. Bush expressed condolences and referred to Mwanawasa as “a champion of democracy in his own country and throughout Africa.”

Mwanawase whose political career started in 1985 when he was appointed Solicitor General in the Zambian government. He was appointed Vice President of Zambia in 1991. He left office in 1994 announcing gross abuse of office and corruption as his reason. He retired in 1996 but later ran for president in 2001.

He won the 2001 presidential election beating ten other candidates. He sucessfully ran for a second term in 2006. He was one of the first African leaders to critisise Robert Mugabe.

He also criticised the West for its position on doing business with China. “You people in the West redeem yourself before you begin attacking China,” Mwanawasa said.

Mwanawasa suffered a mild stroke in 2006. On July 3, 2008 it was reported that Mwanawasa had died, these reports later turnt out to be false. He had been in the French hospital since early July. Rupiah Banda is now the current acting president of Zambia. A presidential by-election will have to be called within 90 days.

Source : wikinews



Men’s 200-meter individual medley

Michael Phelps won his sixth gold medal of the Beijing Olympics with a world-record time of 1:54.23 in the final of the men’s 200m individual medley. The gold puts him one gold medal away from Mark Spitz‘s individual record of seven gold medals at a single Olympiad, set at the Munich Olympics in 1972. It was also his sixth world record, also one short of a single-Olympiad record set by Spitz as well.

Hungarian László Cseh won the silver medal with a time of 1:56.52, an European record. Cseh out-touched American Ryan Lochte, the bronze medal winner, by 0.01 seconds (1:56.53).

The previous world record time was 1:54.80, set by Phelps at the 2008 United States Olympic Trials in Omaha, Nebrasha.

Men’s 50m freestyle

In the first semifinal of the men’s 50m freestyle, Cesar Cielo Filho set a new Olympic record with a time of 21.34 seconds, 0.12 seconds ahead of the previous Olympic record and 0.06 seconds behind the current world record.

“It was a great race. The 50m is so fast and it was my best-ever race,” said Filho after the race. ‘I’m in lane four [in the final]. I’ll just do my best and focus on my own race and will touch the wall with my best performance.”

Women’s 200m breaststroke

American Rebecca Soni net a new world record and won the gold medal in the final of the women’s 200m breaststroke with a time of 2:20.22.

Leisel Jones, who was representing Australia, took the silver medal, while Sara Nordenstam finished in third place with a time of 2:23.02, less than one second behind Jones’ time of 2:22.05.

Women’s 75kg weightlifting

The Chinese Cao Lei set a new world record and won the gold medal women’s 75kg weightlifting. Her score of 282 beat the competitor who took the silver medal by sixteen points.

“I was excited and overjoyed because I won the seventh gold medal for Chinese weightlifting,” she said, after the event.

Men’s individual pursuit

British Bradley Wiggins set a new Olympic record in qualifying round of the men’s individual pursuit with a time of 4:15.031 and an average speed of 56.463 km/h.

Hayden Roulston, who was representing New Zealand, finished in second place, while Alexei Markov finished in third place with a time of 4:21.498.

Women’s artistic gymnastics individual all-around

American Nastia Liukin won the gold medal in the women’s individual all-around in artistic gymnastics. She is the daughter of former Soviet Union gymnast Valeri Liukin, who won a gold medal at the Seoul Olympics in 1988. Her total score was 63.325: 15.025 in vault, 16.650 in uneven bars, 16.125 in balance beam and 15.525 in floor exercise. Her scores at balance beam and floor exercise were the top scores for the individual all-around competition.

Her American teammate, Shawn Johnson, won the silver medal with a total score of 62.725. Johnson had the top score in the vault, with a score of 15.875. Chinese gymnast Yang Yilin won the bronze medal with a total score of 61.925. Yang had the top score in the uneven bars, with a score of 16.725.

Medal Table

The Associated Press (AP) and CNN reported about midday UTC that the death toll in the Sunday’s accident on K2 has risen to eleven.

Two Dutch climbers have been rescued by helicopter, the AP also said. CNN reports that two of the people killed were climbing up the mountain in an attempt to assist others.

AP says that about two dozen climbers began the accent of K2, the world’s second-highest mountain, Friday after the weather had cleared. Climbers are listed as from the Netherlands, South Korea, Italy, Norway, France, Nepal, Serbia, Pakistan and Ireland.

Trouble began on Sunday when several climbers decided to turn back citing rope placement problems. CNN reports the groups was climbing in two teams and both were descending from the summit it near the summit when an a large chuck of ice fell sweeping three people off the mountain.

Adam Jacob Muller.

Image: Adam Jacob Muller.

The ice triggered an avalanche with caused confusion withing the party.

Wilco Van Rooijen, one of the two rescued Dutch climbers, spoke to AP via phone. He blames poor planning in addition to the avalanche.

“Everything was going well to Camp Four and on summit attempt everything went wrong,” Van Rooijen said.

He told AP that a low-cloud bank caused whiteout on the mountain, but he chose to begin his decent from the area near the summit.

“There was a Korean guy hanging upside down,” Van Rooijen told AP. “There was a second Korean guy who held him with a rope but he was also in shock and then a third guy was there also, and they were trying to survive but I had also to survive.”

One stranded climber, Marco Confortola, an Italian who spoke with his brother by phone, described the events as hellish.

“Up there it was hell. During the descent, beyond 8,000 meters (26,000 feet), due to the altitude and the exhaustion I even fell asleep in the snow and when I woke up I could not figure out where I was,” Confortola told the ANSA news agency.

A helicopter rescue for had to Confortola due to poor weather. He told his brother that he was able to walk down to the base camp.

CNN reports that this is the deadliest accident on K2 since records were kept in 1939. 66 people — not counting those in the latest incident — have died on the mountain since then.

On July 7 and again on July 23, there were accidental leaks at the Tricastin Nuclear Power Center in France, which is a collection of sites in four different communes: Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux and Pierrelatte in Drôme, and Bollène and Lapalud in Vaucluse.

Along with two other minor incidents on July 18, it has prompted the Commission for Independent Research and Information on Radioactivity (Criirad) to order a review of security and safety. Already last week, Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo said the ground water near all reactors should be tested and the state of waste storage sites assessed.

Arnaud 25.

Cooling towers at Tricastin Nuclear Power Center
Image: Arnaud 25.

In the latest incident, a hundred workers were exposed to radiation. They all work for Électricité de France (EDF), which runs the Tricastin facilities with Areva. This marks the largest number of workers to be collectively contaminated in French nuclear history.

The leak was at reactor number four, which was shut for refuelling. Workers were exposed to Cobalt 58 dust which escaped while maintenance work was being carried out. Sensors noticed a rise in the level of radiation and the workers were then evacuated.

“Seventy of them show low traces of radioelements, below one fortieth of the authorized limit,” EDF said. A spokesperson later raised the number to 97 people. Criirad warned, however, that the limit was “not the level from which risk begins but the maximum acceptable level.”

“We have an alarm system which is meant to protect the staff from contamination via the atmosphere,” said Tricastin director Alain Peckre. “If a problem is detected, the alarms go off, our security procedures swing into place and everyone is evacuated from the building.”

A union representative from Confédération générale du travail (CGT) alleged that EDF was reducing maintenance and increasingly using sub-contractors, putting workers at risk in exchange for profitability.

“We spend 1.5 billion euros a year on ensuring our plants are in optimum condition,” countered an EDF spokesperson. “Safety is our top priority over and above providing electricity to the network. Since our power stations were set up, 80 per cent of maintenance operations on reactors that have been temporarily turned off are carried out by external contractors. They are the most competent to maintain and repair specific parts of the reactor, some of which they have taken part in building.”

The previous incident, on July 8, involved a 74kg spill of liquid containing unenriched uranium. Thirty cubic metres of water overflowed while a tank was being emptied. Subsequent test showed that contamination may have occurred for years.

Local wine growers Coteaux du Tricastin AOC have already become concerned about the negative association with “Tricastin” and have begun considering changing the name of their Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC).

“It’s only a question of image as nuclear and food don’t mix very well in consumers’ minds,” said the AOC’s president, Henri Bour, to The Daily Telegraph. Nuclear authorities “didn’t understand our move, doubtless not wanting to admit that the nuclear industry’s image is perhaps not perfect,” he added.

“Nuclear was progress and we wanted that. We thought people were competent. Now we ask, were there previous incidents we weren’t told about?” said local resident Roger Eymard to The Guardian.

Autorité de sûreté nucléaire (ASN), a nuclear safety authority, has already criticised Areva for its handling of the first incident. ASN complained of poor communication with authorities and unsatisfactory security measures and operational procedures.

The leaks have occurred just as President Nicolas Sarkozy has been promoting the European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) as a solution to rising energy costs and global warming.

France has the second largest nuclear power network in the world and generates over 80% of its electricity through nuclear power.

source : wikinews

Barack Obama (right) and Frank-Walter Steinmeier

BERLIN (AFP) — US presidential hopeful Barack Obama was due in Paris on Friday a day after telling a vast crowd of 200,000 people in Berlin that Americans and Europeans must tear down walls between estranged allies, races and faiths, in a soaring challenge to a new political generation.

Obama’s aides did not detail his agenda, but the Illinois senator was expected to land at Le Bourget airport and head into Paris solely for the Sarkozy meeting before leaving for London soon afterwards.