Moto GP rider Marco Simoncelli dies in 2011 Malaysia Grand Prix

Italy’s Marco Simoncelli, 24, has died after a crash during the second lap of the 2011 Malaysia Moto GP Grand Prix held at the Sepang International Circuit.

While veering accross the track on the exit of turn 11, Simoncelli was hit by the bike of Colin Edwards and fell into the path of Edwards and Valentino Rossi. The other riders were powerless to avoid Simoncelli. Such was the force of the collision, Simoncelli’s helmet was dislodged and bounced several. Fellow rider Casey Stoner said “Whenever the helmet comes off that’s not a good sign.”

Marco Simoncelli (20 January 1987 – 23 October 2011), an Italian motorcycle racer.

Simoncelli lay without moving in the centre of the track, causing the race to be immediately red flagged for safety reasons. When medics arrived, he was in cardiac arrest and they fought to resuscitate him in the ambulance and medical centre. Simoncelli died from his injuries at 16:56 local time.

Known for his aggressive attacking style, Simoncelli had enjoyed a run of success in Moto GP despite his status as a relatively new rider on a satellite bikeand was predicted by many to be a rising star of the sport. His death is a blow to the Moto GP world.

Simoncelli at the 2008 Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi

The official Moto GP statement is as follows:

“On Sunday, 23 October, during the MotoGP race at the Sepang International Circuit, San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Italian rider Marco Simoncelli suffered a serious accident wherein he sustained critical injuries.

“The race was stopped immediately with the red flag and Simoncelli was transported by ambulance to the circuit medical centre where the medical staff worked to resuscitate him.”

The death is the first in Moto GP since Japan’s Dajiro Kato died in his home race in 2003 and follows the death of Japanese rider Shoya Tomizawa in the 2010 inaugral Moto2 season. Edwards also fell from his bike and sustained a dislocated shoulder, Rossi remained onboard.

Crown Prince Sultan of Saudi Arabia dies

Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz al Saud, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, died in his eighties. He was King Abdullah’s half brother and had been battling colon cancer since 2004.

Prince Sultan, in 1990. Image: US federal government.

He died in New York, where he had been getting treatment since 2009 for his terminal cancer.

He served as First Deputy Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia and was Minister of Defence and Aviation from 1963 to 2011. With his death, Prince Nayef, aged 78, is considered most likely to become the next in line to the throne.

He was also a strong supporter of the US after the events of 9/11.

UN wants Gaddafi’s death probed

The United Nations and two human rights groups are pressing for an investigation into the death of Muammar Gaddafi.

U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colville from the Office of the U.N. High Commission for Human Rights said in a statement on Friday that “there seem to be four or five different versions of how he died,” and that “more details are needed to ascertain whether he was killed in the fighting or after his capture.”

A photo of Muammar Gaddafi in 2009. Image: U.S. Navy.

Specifically pressed on the possibility Gaddafi was executed whilst detained, he said, “It has to be one possibility when you look at these two videos. So that’s something that an investigation needs to look into.”

“Summary executions are strictly illegal under any circumstances. It’s different if someone is killed in combat. There was a civil war taking place in Libya. So if the person died as part of combat, that is a different issue and that is normally acceptable under the circumstances,” Colville said.

“But if something else has happened, if someone is captured and then deliberately killed, then that is a very serious matter,” he said.

Amnesty International, a human rights group, has urged the National Transitional Council to reveal the circumstances surrounding Gaddafi’s death.

Questions have lingered about the true cause of Gaddafi’s death, with two seperate videos showing him wounded and bloodied but alive and another showing him already dead with a bullet wound on his head.

University of Wales to close down after 120 years

120 years after it was founded, the University of Wales (UoW) will shut down. Already comprised of several institutions, two will merge fully while two more will become independent universities.

With a charter from 1893 and the Prince of Wales as its chancellor, problems began at UoW last year after concerns the head of a Malaysian partner institution, a local pop artist, had non-legitimate qualifications. This was followed by Thailand’s authorities denouncing another UoW partner as illegal, then an investigation in the UK into all the UoW’s foreign ties.

University of Wales crest

The Quality Assurance Agency said UoW’s overseas checks on foreign institutions were inadequate. The UK Border Agency is investigating a possible visa scam whereby foreign students were sold exam answers for a qualification leading to UoW entry and British visas. Two colleges — Rayat London College and Lampton College — are suspended over the claims.

Trinity St David and Swansea Metropolitan universities are to merge, forming University of Wales: Trinity St David. It is to use the latter’s own royal charter, which is itself 190 years old. Newport and Glyndwr are set to become universities in their own right. The dissolution follows calls from the leaders of rival universities for the end of UoW.

“I warmly welcome the historic decision taken today by the University of Wales Council,” said UoW Vice-Chancellor Professor Medwin Hughes, who will fill the same role for the new University of Wales: Trinity St David. “The transformed University will serve and deliver for Wales.” His counterpart for Newport, Dr Peter Noyes, said “The inevitable end to the story of the University of Wales should not detract from a distinguished history lasting 12 decades. Wales should be sad that this day has come[.]” UoW chairmain Hugh Thomas has resigned.

The Prince of Wales is among past students, having spent a 1969 term there. The institution’s various member organisations at one point included the now-separate Cardiff University.

Iran continues to lash out at film industry

An Iranian court in Tehran yesterday confirmed film director Jafar Panahi’s sentence to six years in jail, and a twenty-year ban on filmmaking. Charges against the award-winning director were summarised by state media as, “[…] acting against national security and propaganda against the regime”.

2007 file photo of Jafar Panahi. Image: Cines del Sur Granada Film Festival.

In September, before the original sentence was handed down, Panahi lamented, “[w]hen a film-maker does not make films it is as if he is jailed. Even when he is freed from the small jail, he finds himself wandering in a larger jail”. With the ban now in-place, the filmmaker’s This is not a Film, which premièred at Canne Film festival, may be his last work for two decades. The handheld-shot documentary covers Panahi’ struggle with censorship whilst being prosecuted.

Panahi’s is the second high-profile case this week; actress Marzieh Vafamehr was sentenced to 90 lashes and one year in jail for starring in the controversial Australian-produced film My Tehran For Sale, directed by Iranian-Australian Granaz Moussavi. The film is about a young Tehrani actress whose work is banned by the government.

Iranian commentators heavily criticised the film, which is being distributed illegally in Iran, and in July Vafamehr was arrested. Producers Julie Ryan and Kate Croser state they “did not set out to produce a political film.” Stressing, “[w]e definitely didn’t set out to make a film that criticised the government”. The role played by Vafemehr shows her with a shaved head, and without a hijab.

Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd’s office issued a statement condemning Vafemehr’s sentence.

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