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Listen to News 2006

Here are twelve of the top news stories from 2006. These stories and audio clips were taken from EnglishClub.com's Listen to News pages. Review the news stories and then take the quiz. Double click on the green arrow to listen.

January: Ice Rink Tragedy Darkens the Holidays
Approximately 50 people were enjoying a holiday skate at a public ice rink in southern Germany when the roof collapsed beneath a heavy buildup of snow. 30 people were injured, and 14, including at least 6 children were killed. The rescue teams and the operators of the ice rink are facing much criticism related to the incident. Over three-hundred fire fighters, police, and rescue workers made it to the scene, but had much difficulty gaining access to the building as the storm worsened. A foot of snow fell before the roof collapsed. Many surrounding structures were evacuated.
 
February: Professional Robbers Strike Bank of England
Up to 88 million dollars (USD) was stolen from a security depot in England on Wednesday by a gang of thieves posing as police officers. The manager of the depot, Colin Dixon, was pulled over while driving home from work. Dixon abandoned his car and got into the car with a man he believed to be an undercover policeman. At the same time, other members of the gang abducted Dixon's wife and son and used the hostages to gain access into the compound. The staff on duty was tied up while six or more men loaded money into a truck. No one was injured.
 
March: Dana Reeve Loses Cancer Battle
Despite having never been a smoker, 44-year-old Dana Reeve, devoted wife of the late Christopher Reeve, died of lung cancer this week. Reeve is survived by her 13 year-old son, Will. In the last 18 months Will Reeve has lost his grandmother, his dad and his mom. Christopher Reeve, better known as Superman, died of an infection in 2004, almost ten years after the horse riding accident that left him severely paralyzed. After her husband's death, Dana Reeve became the headline activist for stem cell research. Even during her own battle with cancer, she continued to focus on spinal cord injuries.
 
April: Solar Eclipse Boosts Africa's Tourism
Locals and tourists alike flocked to beaches, streets, and rooftops, in Western and Northern Africa to witness a full solar eclipse on Wednesday. Cape Coast beach was the first location where the eclipse was fully visible. Foreign tourists were among those witnessing the rare shadow of the moon passing over the sun. In Togo, the government declared a half-day of holiday so that everyone could celebrate the eclipse. People were warned to wear protective glasses to prevent eye damage. The longest view of the eclipse, where the moon covered the sun for four minutes and seven seconds, occurred in Libya.
 
May: Tsunami Alert Faulty
A large underwater earthquake in the South Pacific that could have triggered a major tsunami occurred on Thursday. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center located in Hawaii was quick to put out the alert to countries at risk, including New Zealand and Australia. Despite the false alarm, Tonga, and four other nations did not receive the warning until a second bulletin was issued almost an hour later. Experts say the second warning would have been too late for evacuation efforts had a tsunami actually developed. The error is being blamed on a computer glitch. Tonga is home to over 100, 000 people.
 
June: World Cup Fans Clash in Germany
Before the host nation and its long-term rival, Poland took the field on Wednesday, riot police were busy arresting violent football fans. Polish police and German officers worked together in Dortmund, spotting notorious troublemakers and pulling them off the streets before the match. Aggression heightened a few hours before kickoff, with fans turning on police and each other. Rioters and intoxicated fans tossed firecrackers, bottles, and restaurant furniture, injuring at least 30 people, including one cameraman and one police officer. Over 400 fans were detained and many were held overnight to prevent further violence after the match. Germany won the game 1-0.
 
July: Buffet Donates Majority of his Wealth to Gates
The world's second richest man in the world, Warren Buffet announced plans to donate 85% of his fortune to The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The donation, which will total $37 billion, has been called the largest singular charitable gift in US history. Earlier this month, Gates, the world's richest man, announced his plans to step down at Microsoft to concentrate on doing charitable work with his foundation. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation focuses on improving health and education, namely in poor countries. Mr. Gates said that finding cures for the top 20 diseases in the world is now achievable.
 
August: New Solar System has 8 Planets
After intense talks this month the International Astronomical Union stripped Pluto of its status as a classic planet. The group of 2500 astronomers met to discuss adding or removing celestial bodies from the solar system. Defining the term "planet" was at the top of the agenda. Keeping Pluto, and adding two new bodies, Xena and Charon, seemed to be the most probable outcome. However, when put to a final vote, all three were excluded. The new definition requires that a planet be the dominant body in its orbit. Since Pluto's orbit crosses that of Neptune's it was demoted to a "dwarf planet".
 
September: Captive Describes 8-year Ordeal
Natascha Kampusch, the Austrian teen who escaped at the end of August from her captor of 8 1/2 years, spoke out about her experience this month. Kampusch spent most of her time confined to a tiny underground cell where she experienced bouts of starvation and abuse. She was permitted to read and listen to the radio, which enabled her to educate herself and plan her escape. Her captor, who committed suicide as soon as he realized Natascha had fled, took her skiing last February, but kept her under close watch preventing her from speaking to anyone. The eighteen year old has become an overnight celebrity.
 
October: North Korea Tests Nuclear Weapons
Despite pressure from the US, Russia, China, Japan, and South Korea to dismantle its nuclear program, North Korea claimed to have successfully conducted a nuclear weapons test on October 9th. North Koreans called the test a "historic event," while scientists monitoring the blast called it a "fizzle" rather than a bomb. Within days North Korea began talking of a second test, determined to prove its status as a nuclear state. This enraged Chinese officials, who have since used economic pressure to convince their North Korean allies to call off further testing. Beijing provides essential imports including food and fuel.
 
November: Former Russian Spy Dies
The former Russian spy, Alexander Litvinenko died in a London hospital three weeks after he was poisoned with a radioactive substance. Litvinenko first became ill on November 1st after meeting a friend for sushi in London. His condition quickly worsened and his immune system began to shut down. Before he died Litvinenko, who had recently become a British citizen, accused President Putin of his murder. Litvinenko was openly critical of the Russian government, which has denied any involvement. Police are trying to track the source of the poison by following traces of radiation, which have been found at the hotel and restaurant the ex-spy visited the day he fell ill, as well as at his home and on at least two British Airway planes.
 
December: Saddam Hussein Hastily Executed
Saddam Hussein, recently sentenced to death for crimes against humanity, was executed just days after his appeal was denied. The former Iraqi president who had been in US custody for three years was handed over to Iraqi authorities and hanged at dawn on December 30th, at the beginning of a Muslim holiday. Since his death, new information has come forward on the handling of the execution. A cell phone video, circulated around the Internet, suggests that the former dictator was shown little dignity and taunted by witnesses in the minutes before his death. Reports also suggest that a disrespectful celebration occurred around his lifeless body.

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