Tuesday, February 22, 2011

File:Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi in Dimashq.jpg

The Libyan government has cut off Internet access in the country. The General Posts and Telecommunications Company, Libya’s main provider of Internet access, has ceased to function. It was shut down following citizen protests against the country’s leader, Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi, who has been in power since 1969.

The government of Egypt took a similar measure last month, when it cut off Internet trying to quell public protests against the regime. Despite the government’s efforts, Egyptians who took to the streets for two weeks were able to oust the nation’s president, Hosni Mubarak, after 30 years in office.

Limited access to the Internet makes it difficult to get information from the country. Libya is a country with a smaller population than Egypt, and has fewer service providers, which has apparently made the task of disconnecting everything a little easier.

In Egypt, the military refused to attack people protesting. The situation is different in Libya, where the armed forces attacked hundreds of demonstrators in the square of the city of Benghazi, causing many deaths.

The increasing violence in Libya has prompted the 27 European Union ministers to issue a statement protesting Libyan governmental violence toward protesters, saying it “condemns the ongoing repression against demonstrators in Libya and deplores the violence and death of civilians.” Two Libyan pilots have defected to Malta and asked for asylum, saying that they were ordered to fire on protesters, according to Maltese officials.

The violence has spread to Tripoli. Witnesses have reported that a “massacre” occurred today in suburbs of the Libyan capital with the indiscriminate shooting of women and children. According to Human Rights Watch, hundreds have died over the last four days.

The escalating violence is causing turbulence in the world energy markets. The International Monetary Fund says that energy exports accounts for approximately 95% of Libya’s export earning.



byAlma Abell

As age increases, it becomes very hard to deal with the common day to day life activities such as cooking and taking care of a household. This problem could be compounded further by development of age-related illnesses or other health complications and disabilities. With time, it becomes really difficult to handle an aged person and the only solution is letting professional caregivers nurse your loved one. Here are some of the major benefits that come with Senior Active Community Living in Omaha.

Specialized care

When an aging person is residing in the home and developing age-related health complications, you will not be able to give them the specialized care that they need for their problem. It is therefore advisable to get a loved one to a place where they will get the following:

* Round the clock checkups and attention.

* Specialized meals for their health condition.

* Specialized care and therapy to make life easier for them.

Some of the age-related health complications are dementia, diabetes, loss of visual acuity, blood pressure and heart health issues, arthritis and osteoporosis. These are conditions that can only be managed by specialists.

Living with age mates

Old people do get lonely when they have been left all alone in the house as people go about their day to day activities. When they are allowed to live at a senior’s community, they will have peers with whom they can interact all day long eliminating loneliness. In these communities, they can organize parties and other life events together and share their common past with people like themselves which makes life more fun.

They are very safe

As mentioned, age brings with it a set of health complications. These complications can make activities as simple as driving a nightmare. For instance, you can imagine what would happen if a person suffering from Alzheimer’s decided to drive to the store for some groceries and forgot the way back home. Allowing this people to live in a secure and gated community protects them from the perils of the day to day life.

These are the benefits that make a senior active living in Omaha one of the best places for your aging loved ones.



Thursday, July 3, 2008

A German shepherd who recovered the last survivor of the September 11, 2001 attacks is to be cloned. His owner, James Symington, a former police officer from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada entered an essay writing contest about why his dog should be cloned.

Trakr, the 15 year old German shepherd suffering from degenerative neurological disorder, was the subject of a contest-winning essay about why Trakr should be cloned that was written by Symington. Trakr and Symington received Humanitarian Service Awards from Jane Goodall for their heroics at Ground Zero. Symington is now an actor of film and television, sometimes credited as Peter James.

BioArts International sponsored the essay-writing contest. Five more dogs are to be cloned by its Best Friends Again program. While Trakr will receive free replication, the other dogs will have to participate in an auction with a starting bid of US$100,000.

BioArts is going to send the DNA of the 6 dogs to Sooam Biotech Research Foundation in Seoul, South Korea. A Sooam researcher said that the dog should be born in November.



Thursday, November 29, 2018

On November 17 and November 18, Wikinews attended the 2018 Bangalore Comicbook Convention, in Karnataka, India. Beginning on Saturday morning, the ComicCon continued till Sunday. Organised by ComicCon India, who organised Comic Con in Hyderabad in October, this event was held at Karnataka Trade Promotion Organisation (KTPO)’s convention hall. Wikinews spoke to convention’s international guests Ryan O’Sullivan, Dan Watters, and Vanesa Del Ray.

UK-based freelancer comicbook writer Ryan O’Sullivan, who has worked for Image Comics and Vault Comics, and wrote video game comics including Eisenhorn, Warhammer 40,000, and Dark Souls, was one of the guests attending ComicCon. Along with him, London-based freelance comic book writer Dan Watters was also one of the attendants. Watters has worked with Image Comics on Limbo, as well as Lucifer for Vertigo Comics. Watters has also written comics for Assassin’s Creed, Wolfenstein and Deep Roots. Cuban comic book artist Vanesa Del Rey was also one of the guest attendants, who has illustrated Scarlet Witch, Daredevil Annual, and Spider-Women Alpha for Marvel Comics; and Redlands for Image Comics.

The convention started at 11 AM. Crossing between the genres of science fiction, horror, anime, fantasy and comics, the event sprawled throughout all corners of the facility. Marvel Zone, Amazon Video zone, AXN Live RED Special Session, Warner Bros’ Aquaman and Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald experience, and Sony Pix zone attracted large number of audience.

On day two, Sumit Kumar, creator of Chin Chin, inspired by Chacha Chaudhary and Tintin, had a panel in the afternoon.

At 1:30 PM, there was a video presentation by Yali Dream Creations. The video was about The Village. Yali Dream Creations’ Shamik Das Gupta said the story of their comic The Village is “supernatural, social, horror”. Later, there was another presentation about their other comic, Rakshak ((hi))Hindi language: ?Protector — A Hero Among Us, about a masked vigilante in India. The first part of the four-part comic was released in 2016’s Delhi ComicCon, Gupta said. Gupta also added “Delhi gang rape story pushed me”. The session ended around 1:45 PM.

After Yali Dream Creations, there was a comic launch by Rahil Mohin. Mohin had previously launched Sufi Comics in 2008, The Wise Fool of Baghdad and two comics about Persian poet Rumi and now Blame it on Rahil. While he was on the panel, he was sketching cartoon, while the host was asking questions that Mohin had prepared, focused on the 90s cartoon themes. The questions were “[What was the] breed of Courage the Cowardly Dog?”, “Catchphrase of Flintstone”, and “Arch nemesis of Dexter”. His session finished by 2 PM.

At 2 PM, there was a session with AXN, and questions about AXN shows. Musician Shrey also played scores of various AXN shows on guitar, which audience had to guess. At 2:30 PM, there was a session with Cuban comic artist Vanesa Del Rey. She said it was her first convention in India, and said, “It is like any major convention in the US”. This year, Vanesa Del Rey was nominated for an Eisner Award. During the discussion, she said she wanted to do sci-fi epic,romance, mystery and thriller comics in future. Regarding romance genre in comics, she said it is “something worth exploring”. And regarding her career choice, she said her grandmother was an artist and her “family was very supportive”.

Later, there was a session with Sony PIX, with Minions appearing on the stage.

The event finished around 8 PM.

Contents

  • 1 Interviews
    • 1.1 Interview with English comic book writer Ryan O’Sullivan
    • 1.2 Interview with English comic book writer Dan Watters
    • 1.3 Interview with Cuban comic book artist Vanesa Del Rey
  • 2 Photos from the ComicCon
  • 3 Cosplayers
  • 4 Sources


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Internet-based group “Anonymous” released a new video on YouTube Monday, announcing international protests outside Church of Scientology centers set for February 10. The video “Call to Action” uses the same computer synthesized voice as a previous video titled “Message to Scientology”, which was posted to YouTube last Monday. The “Message to Scientology” video has been viewed over 1,400,000 times, and the “Call to Action” video has already been viewed over 237,000 times.

Anonymous is taking action against the Church of Scientology in response to what it sees as suppression of freedom of speech on the Internet. The group was first motivated after the Church of Scientology issued a copyright infringement claim to YouTube regarding a promotional video of Scientologist Tom Cruise speaking about his beliefs and using Scientology jargon. The Church of Scientology also issued a legal complaint to the website Gawker.com which is also hosting the video, but Gawker has stated it will not take the video down because it is newsworthy.

Anonymous set up a movement called “Project Chanology” to coordinate their efforts, and took down several Church of Scientology websites through denial-of-service attacks. Members of Anonymous have also participated in prank calls to Church of Scientology centers, as well as protests or “raids” outside Scientology buildings, and have posted some of their exploits to YouTube.

Anonymous is a collective of individuals united by an awareness that someone must do the right thing.

In the “Call to Action” video, Anonymous denies that they are composed solely of “super hackers”, stating “Anonymous is a collective of individuals united by an awareness that someone must do the right thing, that someone must bring light to the darkness, that someone must open the eyes of a public that has slumbered for far too long.” The video goes on to state “We want you to be aware of the very real dangers of Scientology,” citing what they term “gross human rights violations”.

Specific controversial events in Scientology history are cited in the video, including Operation Freakout and Paulette Cooper, and Operation Snow White. Operation Freakout was the name of a Church of Scientology operation whose goal was to “get P.C. [Paulette Cooper] incarcerated in a mental institution or jail or at least to hit her so hard that she drops her attacks.” Paulette Cooper had written a book critical of Scientology called The Scandal of Scientology. Operation Snow White was the name of a Church of Scientology operation where members of the Church’s secretive Guardian’s Office infiltrated United States government agencies in Washington, D.C. including the I.R.S. The F.B.I.’s investigation into Operation Snow White led them to discover the planning of actions taken against Paulette Cooper.

The video concludes by inviting the viewer to “take up the banner of free speech” and protest with Anonymous world wide. In an email to CNET News, Anonymous stated that cities where unknown activities are planned on February 10 include New York City, Montreal, Houston, London, Melbourne, and Los Angeles.

On Friday, two spokespersons for the Church of Scientology commented on the recent actions of Anonymous. A spokesman told News.com.au “These types of people have got some wrong information about us,” and Church spokeswoman Yvette Shank told Sun Media that she regarded members of Anonymous as a “pathetic” group of “computer geeks”. On Monday, Radar reported that the Church of Scientology has asked the U.S. Attorney General‘s office in Los Angeles, the F.B.I., and the LAPD to start a criminal investigation of possible criminal activity related to the Internet attacks. A source told Radar that the Church of Scientology is arguing that the Internet attacks are a form of “illegal interference with business.” Radar also reports that the Church of Scientology is emphasizing its status as a religious organization in the United States, in order to assert that the Internet attacks can be classed as hate crimes.

I’m mainly concerned because you shouldn’t be doing things that are illegal, you just shouldn’t.

On Saturday, Mark Bunker of the website XenuTV.com posted a video to YouTube criticizing the illegal actions of Anonymous and suggested legal methods for them to retaliate against the Church of Scientology, including peaceful protesting, writing letters to their government representatives, and persuading the United States government to take away the Church of Scientology’s tax exempt status. In the video, Bunker states “I’m mainly concerned because you shouldn’t be doing things that are illegal, you just shouldn’t. It’s not morally right, and it’s not right when Scientology does it, it’s not right when we do it.” Bunker’s video post has been viewed over 156,000 times. On Sunday, Bunker posted a follow-up video to YouTube where he gives advice to Anonymous on how to peacefully picket. He also provides viewers with resources and weblinks to more information on how to hold a peaceful protest. He concludes this video by imitating Obi-Wan Kenobi‘s Jedi mind trick technique and voice from Star Wars, stating “And if I may, as Obi-Wan, tell you: You will do nothing illegal “.

 This story has updates See Wikinews international report: “Anonymous” holds anti-Scientology protests worldwide 



Wednesday, March 23, 2005

A bill passed by India’s Parliament put an end to the manufacture of many cheap generic drugs copied from products protected by foreign company patents. A Patents Amendment Bill (2005) has been condemned by foreign aid groups who expect a significant rise in drug costs as a result of the bill.

Drug compounds in India were previously not protected by patents, meaning that research and developement costs borne by the originating manufacturers were avoided by generic drug producers. The new bill “will move India toward the patent mainstream and support and encourage innovation and investment in research and development in India,” said Ranjit Sahani, managing director of Novartis India.

As the world’s fourth-largest manufacturer of drugs by volume, the pharmaceutical industry in India is valued at US$5 billion – but ranks as only 13th by value, reflecting the low costs to consumers of the products. “Because India is one of the world’s biggest producers of generic drugs, this law will have a severe knock-on effect on many developing countries which depend on imported generic drugs from India,” said Samar Verma, regional policy adviser at Oxfam International.

Around half of African, Asian and Latin American HIV patients needing anti-retroviral drugs rely on low-cost drugs from India, which are sold at one twentieth the price of similar drugs produced in the West.

More than 90 per cent of drugs listed as essentials in India are either unpatented or expired. Drugs patented before 1995 — when the World Trade Organization [WTO] set a 10 year deadline to enact protection — will not be eligible under the bill.

Some degree of protection was mandated by WTO in order for India to have greater access to international markets. Opposers of the bill say it goes too far.

The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights [TRIPS], under WTO, allows developing countries to not provide patent protection for uses of known drugs, new dosages and formulations, or combinations of known drugs.



Thursday, July 7, 2005

Three bomb explosions have hit London Underground trains, and a further bomb destroyed a bus in the city centre. The Metropolitan Police Service has initially confirmed that 33 people have been killed in the four explosions on London‘s transport system this morning, and said the overall number of wounded was as high as 700, in what are believed to be terrorist attacks. (See later reports in the box at the side for later announcements made on following days.)

The first reports were of an explosion at 08:49 BST (UTC+1) on the Hammersmith & City Line between Liverpool Street station and Aldgate East. Explosions also occurred on a train between King’s Cross and Russell Square and another at Edgware Road. The explosions are currently being reported, and described by Prime Minister Tony Blair, as being “terrorist attacks.” Traces of explosives were found at two of the sites according to the BBC.

Scotland Yard has confirmed one explosion onboard a double decker red London bus travelling south outside the British Medical Association on Tavistock Square. Police cannot confirm whether this bomb was intended for another train and accidentally detonated aboard the bus instead.

Pundits are speculating the attack was co-ordinated by al-Qaeda. Dr. Shane Brighton, an intelligence expert at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence, claims that, “If what we are looking at is a simultaneous bombing — and it does look like that — it would very certainly fit the classic al Qaeda methodology.” Two militant Islamist groups are reported to have claimed responsibility for the blasts.

In a special news conference at 15:30 BST, July 7, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Brian Paddick of the Metropolitan Police confirmed 33 fatalities so far, 45 critical/serious injuries and approximately 300 minor injuries.

At 08:51 BST a bomb exploded on a Circle Line Underground train 91 metres/100 yards into the tunnel from Liverpool Street. Seven are known to be dead.

At 08:56 BST a bomb detonated on a Piccadilly Line train between King’s Cross and Russell Square. Twenty-one are dead; it is believed more bodies remain in the tunnel, which is one of the deepest on the Underground network.

At 09:17 BST a bomb exploded on another Circle Line train between Edgware Road Station and Paddington. The blast blew a hole in a wall, and another train was hit by debris from it. A third train is also involved. Five are known to be dead.

At 09:47 BST a No. 30 bus (Hackney – Marble Arch) blew up at the junction between Tavistock Square and Woburn Place outside the BMA building. It has been estimated that thirteen people died.

Earlier, quoting the Associated Press, Yahoo News had reported “at least 40 people were killed and more than 350 wounded”. Also, the same report says “two U.S. law enforcement officials said at least 40 people were killed”.

Several hotlines have been set up for those concerned about friends or relatives. A list of these numbers are below. The agencies setting up these hotlines stress that callers should try to reach their friends or relatives first before contacting the hotline. In addition, to prevent swamping, they also have asked that only genuine callers use the hotlines.

The first reports that came in were from London’s Liverpool Street station talking of an explosion on the Metropolitan Underground line and the station being evacuated. Later a BBC and a Wikinews reporter spoke of a bus being destroyed by a bomb blast in Tavistock Square outside the British Medical Association offices.

The initial reports of explosions were believed to have been the result of power surges. This was because the first indication of any disturbance was the opening of circuit breakers in the Underground, which was observed in the control room. This is usually due to a power surge, but in this case the actual cause was damage to the track circuits by bombs.

At approximately 10:50 BST reports were made that there was an additional, as yet unidentified explosion along Houndsditch, near Liverpool Street Station. Police were also warning pedestrians at Russell Square that a series of controlled explosions would be made shortly.

BBC News 24 has reported additional unspecified incidents at Brighton, Luton, and Swindon. These stations have been closed and there has been no official confirmation of the nature of the incidents, if any actually occurred.

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Ian Blair told London Live that there have been “events” at Edgware Road, Kings Cross, Liverpool Street, Russell Square, Aldgate East and Moorgate.

At 11:30 BST (UTC+1) St. Mary’s Hospital released a statement that they have admitted 4 critical, 8 severe and several minor injures. Injuries are limb damage, cuts, burns, head injuries and chest problems.

The exact causes of the explosions are still unknown. Initially, it was thought that it was some technical fault. However, the police later suspected terrorist attacks. Police are still unsure if the bombs were simply left in packages or whether there were some sort of suicide attacks.

According to the Associated Press, a senior Israeli official said Scotland Yard told Israel minutes before the explosions that it had received warnings of possible “terror attacks”. Sky News says this has been denied by Scotland Yard. Sir Ian during his interview with Sky stated that there had been no specific intelligence.

German news magazine Der Spiegel (as well as unconfirmed information from CIA) has reported that a letter from an organization calling itself “Secret organization – Al Qaeda in Europe” has appeared, claiming responsibility for the bombings. See our related story for more details.

A broadcast interruption on MTV Thursday at 16:00 UTC said a group naming itself “Al Jihad Network in Europe” claimed responsibility for the bombings.

A police spokeswoman has confirmed two deaths at Aldgate station. Television and radio reports are now saying there have been four separate incidents with up to 150 casualties, speculating that the blasts may be related to terrorist activity.

The Associated Press is reporting that a US law enforcement official has put the toll at 40 killed.

Emergency Services press conference at around 15:15 BST (UTC+1) confirms at least 33 fatalities, not including those resulting from the incident on the number 30 bus.

The CBC reports at least 52 fatalities, including 17 from the incident on the number 30 bus according to media reports.

It has been reported that in the early stages of the attack, information was only distributed to civilians within the center of London, and authorities had a specific policy of not providing information to the global media, in case any information provided to the media could be used by additional terrorists to target vulnerable locations during an evacuation procedure. This was probably partly to blame for the early confusion amongst the media.

Emergency services are also attending King’s Cross and Liverpool Street Station.

The entire tube network and all buses within zone 1 have been suspended and many buses are now being used to ferry the ‘walking wounded’ to the hospitals. The underground will be closed for an indefinite period of time, but according to Fox News Channel United States, the closure will last at least for all of today.

All emergency services are responding en-masse to a “major incident” and are responding only to life-threatening emergency calls. Patients are being turned away at hospitals to free room for those injured by the attacks.

The London Congestion Charge has been suspended for the 7th and 8th of July.

The Jerusalem Post reports that the Army was dispatched to seal off the Israeli Embassy as Israel’s Finance Minister is present for a conference. The army have reportedly been involved with rescues at Covent Garden. Police have denied this report (originally made on Sky News).

The police have cordoned off roads around Upper Woburn Place following a massive explosion on a bus in the vicinity. Traffic is at a standstill in many places in the capital. Defra‘s security branch are reporting that police are advising everyone in London not to use any public transport and the Cabinet Office are advising staff to remain in offices until further notice. A further email sent to all staff by Defra’s permanent secretary indicates that Charing Cross and Waterloo mainline railway stations have been closed down for police searches, and that other stations could close for similar reasons later today.

As at 09.30 BST, Kings Cross Thameslink was experiencing delays and overcrowding but no serious difficulties.

Businesses have been hit by the uncertainty of the events – the FTSE had fallen almost 3.5% by 11.47UTC ([1]), but started to recover a little by early afternoon. The value of the pound has dipped, and the London crude oil price has dropped. International markets are also suffering, with falls in share indexes felt as far as South Africa. See our related story for more details.

According to Fox News Channel United States, all London schools are in lockdown and students are being kept in schools.

The Authorities are asking people in London to stay where they are, indoors if possible. Take inside any bins or bags of rubbish they have left out for collection, providing they check their contents first. Arrangements are also being made for when schools finish as schools have been asked to keep pupils safe inside until the usual school closing time.

The UK Highways Agency has stated that at the request of the police, the message “Avoid London – Turn on Radio” is being displayed on electronic motorway message signs on the M25 and other major routes approaching London.

The US Homeland Security Department asked authorities in major cities for heightened vigilance of major transportation systems. Department spokesman Roehrkasse indicated that the department had not received any indications of plans that this type of attack is planned in the United States. Later, the department raised the terror alert level to orange. See our related story for more details.

A joint statement of the G8 leaders was made by Tony Blair at a press conference, also attended by US President George Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin. See our related story for more details.

The Queen and many other world leaders have also issued statements. See our related story for more details.

Mayor Ken Livingstone’s full statement on the London bombings 07-07-2005:



Questions and Answers about Geothermal Energy Systems

by

Jay Foley

What is Geothermal Energy?

Geothermal Infographic

The earth absorbs approximately 47% of transmitted solar energy and stores this free thermal energy beneath our feet. So even though the air temperature is hot in the summer and cold in the winter, the ground temperature just a few feet below the surface is relatively constant year round.

Geothermal energy systems

take advantage of this by transferring the warmer energy into our homes in the winter. In the summer, the process is reversed. So the earth is like a large solar collector and storage battery, with more than enough thermal energy for everyone.

YouTube Preview Image

Why is Geothermal So Efficient?

A geothermal system utilizes the large amount of energy/heat stored in the earth beneath our feet. Since geothermal systems only move heat, and do not need to create this energy by burning fuels or standard electrical consumption, efficiencies as high as 500% can be expected in this area. The small amount of electricity needed to operate the heat pump compressor and ground loop circulators can transfer 4 to 5 times that amount in thermal energy for the home.

Is Geothermal Really Good for the Environment?

Absolutely! The EPA has called geothermal systems the most environmentally-friendly way to condition our homes. A ground source heat pump does not have an exhaust and emits zero carbon dioxide. Removing the combustion process from heating reduces our dependance on foriegn oil and eliminates the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning. Geotherm only uses heat pumps with R-410a ozone safe refrigerant and propylene glycol non toxic, sugar based antifreeze.

How Do Geothermal Systems Work?

Three basic components make up a geothermal system. They are:

1) The Ground Loop Heat Exchanger,

2) The Ground Source Heat Pump and

3) The Distribution System (ductwork, radiant flooring, fan coil, etc.).

The Ground Loop is the interface with the earth that transfers energy via a freeze-resistant solution pumped through the exchanger at a high velocity. Several ground loop types and designs are available to match the unique properties of each project (see below).

The Ground Source Heat Pump utilizes a refrigeration circuit to extract thermal energy from the ground loop and transfer it to the distribution system during the winter months to warm the home. During the summer, this process is reversed to cool the home.

The Distribution System quietly delivers heat throughout the home, creating a very even and controlled temperature. Air-based systems use duct work, while radiant flooring or fan coils distribute heat with a water-based hydronic system.

http://www.geothermhvac.com/geothermal-energy/http://www.geothermhvac.com

Article Source:

ArticleRich.com



Thursday, April 7, 2011

Late last month, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed objections to the United States Government’s ‘secret’ attempts to obtain Twitter account information relating to WikiLeaks. The ACLU and EFF cite First and Fourth amendment issues as overriding reasons to overturn government attempts to keep their investigation secret; and, that with Birgitta Jonsdottir being an Icelandic Parliamentarian, the issue has serious international implications.

The case, titled “In the Matter of the 2703(d) Order Relating to Twitter Accounts: Wikileaks, Rop_G, IOERROR; and BirgittaJ“, has been in the EFF’s sights since late last year when they became aware of the US government’s attempts to investigate WikiLeaks-related communications using the popular microblogging service.

The key objective of this US government investigation is to obtain data for the prosecution of Bradley Manning, alleged to have supplied classified data to WikiLeaks. In addition to Manning’s Twitter account, and that of WikiLeaks (@wikileaks), the following three accounts are subject to the order: @ioerror, @birgittaj, and @rop_g. These, respectively, belong to Jacob Apelbaum, Birgitta Jonsdottir, and Rop Gonggrijp.

Birgitta is not the only non-US citizen with their Twitter account targeted by the US Government; Gonggrijp, a Dutch ‘ex-hacker’-turned-security-expert, was one of the founders of XS4ALL – the first Internet Service Provider in the Netherlands available to the public. He has worked on a mobile phone that can encrypt conversations, and proven that electronic voting systems can readily be hacked.

In early March, a Virginia magistrate judge ruled that the government could have the sought records, and neither the targeted users, or the public, could see documents submitted to justify data being passed to the government. The data sought is as follows:

  1. Personal contact information, including addresses
  2. Financial data, including credit card or bank account numbers
  3. Twitter account activity information, including the “date, time, length, and method of connections” plus the “source and destination Internet Protocol address(es)”
  4. Direct Message (DM) information, including the email addresses and IP addresses of everyone with whom the Parties have exchanged DMs

The order demands disclosure of absolutely all such data from November 1, 2009 for the targeted accounts.

The ACLU and EFF are not only challenging this, but demanding that all submissions made by the US government to justify the Twitter disclosure are made public, plus details of any other such cases which have been processed in secret.

Bradley Manning, at the time a specialist from Maryland enlisted with the United States Army’s 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, was arrested in June last year in connection with the leaking of classified combat video to WikiLeaks.

The leaked video footage, taken from a US helicopter gunship, showed the deaths of Reuters staff Saeed Chmagh and Namir Noor-Eldeen during a U.S. assault in Baghdad, Iraq. The wire agency unsuccessfully attempted to get the footage released via a Freedom of Information Act request in 2007.

When WikiLeaks released the video footage it directly contradicted the official line taken by the U.S. Army asserting that the deaths of the two Reuters staff were “collateral damage” in an attack on Iraqi insurgents. The radio chatter associated with the AH-64 Apache video indicated the helicopter crews had mistakenly identified the journalists’ equipment as weaponry.

The US government also claims Manning is linked to CableGate; the passing of around a quarter of a million classified diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks. Manning has been in detention since July last year; in December allegations of torture were made to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights regarding the conditions under which he was and is being detained.

Reports last month that he must now sleep naked and attend role call at the U.S. Marine facility in Quantico in the same state, raised further concern over his detention conditions. Philip J. Crowley, at-the-time a State Department spokesman, remarked on this whilst speaking at Massachusetts Institute of Technology; describing the current treatment of Manning as “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid”, Crowley was, as a consequence, put in the position of having to tender his resignation to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Despite his native Australia finding, in December last year, that Assange’s WikiLeaks had not committed any criminal offences in their jurisdiction, the U.S. government has continued to make ongoing operations very difficult for the whistleblower website.

The result of the Australian Federal Police investigation left the country’s Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, having to retract a statement that WikiLeaks had acted “illegally”; instead, she characterised the site’s actions as “grossly irresponsible”.

Even with Australia finding no illegal activity on the part of WikiLeaks, and with founder Julian Assange facing extradition to Sweden, U.S. pressure sought to hobble WikiLeaks financially.

Based on a State Department letter, online payments site PayPal suspended WikiLeaks account in December. Their action was swiftly followed by Visa Europe and Mastercard ceasing to handle payments for WikiLeaks.

The online processing company, Datacell, threatened the two credit card giants with legal action over this. However, avenues of funding for the site were further curtailed when both Amazon.com and Swiss bank PostFinance joined the financial boycott of WikiLeaks.

Assange continues, to this day, to argue that his extradition to Sweden for questioning on alleged sexual offences is being orchestrated by the U.S. in an effort to discredit him, and thus WikiLeaks.

Wikinews consulted an IT and cryptography expert from the Belgian university which developed the current Advanced Encryption Standard; explaining modern communications, he stated: “Cryptography has developed to such a level that intercepting communications is no longer cost effective. That is, if any user uses the correct default settings, and makes sure that he/she is really connecting to Twitter it is highly unlikely that even the NSA can break the cryptography for a protocol such as SSL/TLS (used for https).”

Qualifying this, he commented that “the vulnerable parts of the communication are the end points.” To make his point, he cited the following quote from Gene Spafford: “Using encryption on the Internet is the equivalent of arranging an armored car to deliver credit card information from someone living in a cardboard box to someone living on a park bench.

Continuing, the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KUL) expert explained:

In the first place, the weak point is Twitter itself; the US government can go and ask for the data; companies such as Twitter and Google will typically store quite some information on their users, including IP addresses (it is known that Google deletes the last byte of the IP address after a few weeks, but it is not too hard for a motivated opponent to find out what this byte was).
In the second place, this is the computer of the user: by exploiting system weaknesses (with viruses, Trojan horses or backdoors in the operating system) a highly motivated opponent can enter your machine and record your keystrokes plus everything that is happening (e.g. the FBI is known to do this with the so-called Magic Lantern software). Such software is also commercially available, e.g. for a company to monitor its employees.
It would also be possible for a higly motivated opponent to play “man-in-the-middle”; that means that instead of having a secure connection to Twitter.com, you have a secure connection to the attacker’s server, who impersonates Twitter’s and then relays your information to Twitter. This requires tricks such as spoofing DNS (this is getting harder with DNSsec), or misleading the user (e.g. the user clicks on a link and connects to tw!tter.com or Twitter.c0m, which look very similar in a URL window as Twitter.com). It is clear that the US government is capable of using these kind of tricks; e.g., a company has been linked to the US government that was recognized as legitimate signer in the major browsers, so it would not be too large for them to sign a legitimate certificate for such a spoofing webserver; this means that the probability that a user would detect a problem would be very low.
As for traffic analysis (finding out who you are talking to rather than finding out what you are telling to whom), NSA and GCHQ are known to have access to lots of traffic (part of this is obtained via the UK-USA agreement). Even if one uses strong encryption, it is feasible for them to log the IP addresses and email addresses of all the parties you are connecting to. If necessary, they can even make routers re-route your traffic to their servers. In addition, the European Data Retention directive forces all operators to store such traffic data.
Whether other companies would have complied with such requests: this is very hard to tell. I believe however that it is very plausible that companies such as Google, Skype or Facebook would comply with such requests if they came from a government.
In summary: unless you go through great lengths to log through to several computers in multiple countries, you work in a clean virtual machine, you use private browser settings (don’t accept cookies, no plugins for Firefox, etc.) and use tools such as Tor, it is rather easy for any service provider to identify you.
Finally: I prefer not to be quoted on any sentences in which I make statements on the capabilities or actions of any particular government.

Wikinews also consulted French IT security researcher Stevens Le Blond on the issues surrounding the case, and the state-of-the-art in monitoring, and analysing, communications online. Le Blond, currently presenting a research paper on attacks on Tor to USENIX audiences in North America, responded via email:

Were the US Government to obtain the sought data, it would seem reasonable the NSA would handle further investigation. How would you expect them to exploit the data and expand on what they receive from Twitter?

  • Le Blond: My understanding is that the DOJ is requesting the following information: 1) Connection records and session times 2) IP addresses 3) e-mail addresses 4) banking info
By requesting 1) and 2) for Birgitta and other people involved with WikiLeaks (WL) since 2009, one could derive 2 main [pieces of] information.
First, he could tell the mobility of these people. Recent research in networking shows that you can map an IP address into a geographic location with a median error of 600 meters. So by looking at changes of IP addresses in time for a Twitter user, one could tell (or at least speculate about) where that person has been.
Second, by correlating locations of different people involved with WL in time, one could possibly derive their interactions and maybe even their level of involvement with WL. Whether it is possible to derive this information from 1) and 2) depends on how this people use Twitter. For example, do they log on Twitter often enough, long enough, and from enough places?
My research indicates that this is the case for other Internet services but I cannot tell whether it is the case for Twitter.
Note that even though IP logging, as done by Twitter, is similar to the logging done by GSM [mobile phone] operators, the major difference seems to be that Twitter is subject to US regulation, no matter the citizenship of its users. I find this rather disturbing.
Using 3), one could search for Birgitta on other Internet services, such as social networks, to find more information on her (e.g., hidden accounts). Recent research on privacy shows that people tend to use the same e-mail address to register an account on different social networks (even when they don’t want these accounts to be linked together). Obviously, one could then issue subpoenas for these accounts as well.
I do not have the expertise to comment on what could be done with 4).
((WN)) As I believe Jonsdottir to be involved in the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (IMMI), what are the wider implications beyond the “WikiLeaks witchhunt”?
  • Le Blond: Personal data can be used to discredit, especially if the data is not public.

Having been alerted to the ongoing case through a joint press release by the ACLU and EFF, Wikinews sought clarification on the primary issues which the two non-profits saw as particularly important in challenging the U.S. Government over the ‘secret’ court orders. Rebecca Jeschke, Media Relations Director for the EFF, explained in more detail the points crucial to them, responding to a few questions from Wikinews on the case:

((WN)) As a worse-case, what precedents would be considered if this went to the Supreme Court?
  • Rebecca Jeschke: It’s extremely hard to know at this stage if this would go to the Supreme Court, and if it did, what would be at issue. However, some of the interesting questions about this case center on the rights of people around the world when they use US Internet services. This case questions the limits of US law enforcement, which may turn out to be very different from the limits in other countries.
((WN)) Since this is clearly a politicised attack on free speech with most chilling potential repercussions for the press, whistleblowers, and by-and-large anyone the relevant U.S. Government departments objects to the actions of, what action do you believe should be taken to protect free speech rights?
  • Jeschke: We believe that, except in very rare circumstances, the government should not be permitted to obtain information about individuals’ private Internet communications in secret. We also believe that Internet companies should, whenever possible, take steps to ensure their customers are notified about requests for information and have the opportunity to respond.
((WN)) Twitter via the web, in my experience, tends to use https:// connections. Are you aware of any possibility of the government cracking such connections? (I’m not up to date on the crypto arms race).
  • Jeschke: You don’t need to crack https, per se, to compromise its security. See this piece about fraudulent https certificates:
Iranian hackers obtain fraudulent httpsEFF website.
((WN)) And, do you believe that far, far more websites should – by default – employ https:// connections to protect people’s privacy?
  • Jeschke: We absolutely think that more websites should employ https! Here is a guide for site operators: (See external links, Ed.)

Finally, Wikinews approached the Icelandic politician, and WikiLeaks supporter, who has made this specific case a landmark in how the U.S. Government handles dealings with – supposedly – friendly governments and their elected representatives. A number of questions were posed, seeking the Icelandic Parliamentarian’s views:

((WN)) How did you feel when you were notified the US Government wanted your Twitter account, and message, details? Were you shocked?
  • Birgitta Jonsdottir: I felt angry but not shocked. I was expecting something like this to happen because of my involvement with WikiLeaks. My first reaction was to tweet about it.
((WN)) What do you believe is their reasoning in selecting you as a ‘target’?
  • Jonsdottir: It is quite clear to me that USA authorities are after Julian Assange and will use any means possible to get even with him. I think I am simply a pawn in a much larger context. I did of course both act as a spokesperson for WikiLeaks in relation to the Apache video and briefly for WikiLeaks, and I put my name to the video as a co-producer. I have not participated in any illegal activity and thus being a target doesn’t make me lose any sleep.
((WN)) Are you concerned that, as a Member of Parliament involved in the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (IMMI), the US attempt to obtain your Twitter data is interfering with planned Icelandic government policy?
  • Jonsdottir: No
((WN)) In an earlier New York Times (NYT) article, you’re indicating there is nothing they can obtain about you that bothers you; but, how do you react to them wanting to know everyone you talk to?
  • Jonsdottir: It bothers me and according to top computer scientists the government should be required to obtain a search warrant to get our IP addresses from Twitter. I am, though, happy I am among the people DOJ is casting their nets around because of my parliamentary immunity; I have a greater protection then many other users and can use that immunity to raise the issue of lack of rights for those that use social media.
HAVE YOUR SAY
Do you believe the U.S. government should have the right to access data on foreign nationals using services such as Twitter?
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((WN)) The same NYT article describes you as a WikiLeaks supporter; is this still the case? What attracts you to their ‘radical transparency’?
  • Jonsdottir: I support the concept of WikiLeaks. While we don’t have a culture of protection for sources and whistleblowers we need sites like WikiLeaks. Plus, I think it is important to give WikiLeaks credit for raising awareness about in how bad shape freedom of information and expression is in our world and it is eroding at an alarming rate because of the fact that legal firms for corporations and corrupt politicians have understood the borderless nature of the legalities of the information flow online – we who feel it is important that people have access to information that should remain in the public domain need to step up our fight for those rights. WikiLeaks has played an important role in that context.I don’t support radical transparency – I understand that some things need to remain secret. It is the process of making things secret that needs to be both more transparent and in better consensus with nations.
((WN)) How do you think the Icelandic government would have reacted if it were tens of thousands of their diplomatic communications being leaked?
  • Jonsdottir: I am not sure – A lot of our dirty laundry has been aired via the USA cables – our diplomatic communications with USA were leaked in those cables, so far they have not stirred much debate nor shock. It is unlikely for tens of thousands of cables to leak from Iceland since we dont have the same influence or size as the USA, nor do we have a military.
((WN)) Your ambassador in the US has spoken to the Obama administration. Can you discuss any feedback from that? Do you have your party’s, and government’s, backing in challenging the ordered Twitter data release?
  • Jonsdottir: I have not had any feedback from that meeting, I did however receive a message from the DOJ via the USA ambassador in Iceland. The message stated three things: 1. I am free to travel to the USA. 2. If I would do so, I would not be a subject of involuntary interrogation. 3. I am not under criminal investigation. If this is indeed the reality I wonder why they are insisting on getting my personal details from Twitter. I want to stress that I understand the reasoning of trying to get to Assange through me, but I find it unacceptable since there is no foundation for criminal investigation against him. If WikiLeaks goes down, all the other media partners should go down at the same time. They all served similar roles. The way I see it is that WikiLeaks acted as the senior editor of material leaked to them. They could not by any means be considered a source. The source is the person that leaks the material to WikiLeaks. I am not sure if the media in our world understands how much is at stake for already shaky industry if WikiLeaks will carry on carrying the brunt of the attacks. I think it would be powerful if all the medias that have had access to WikiLeaks material would band together for their defence.
((WN)) Wikinews consulted a Belgian IT security expert who said it was most likely companies such as Facebook, Microsoft, and Google, would have complied with similar court orders *without advising the ‘targets*’. Does that disturb you?
  • Jonsdottir: This does disturb me for various reasons. The most obvious is that my emails are hosted at google/gmail and my search profile. I dont have anything to hide but it is important to note that many of the people that interact with me as a MP via both facebook and my various email accounts don’t always realize that there is no protection for them if they do so via those channels. I often get sensitive personal letters sent to me at facebook and gmail. In general most people are not aware of how little rights they have as users of social media. It is those of uttermost importance that those sites will create the legal disclaimers and agreements that state the most obvious rights we lose when we sign up to their services.
This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.
((WN)) Has there been any backlash within Iceland against US-based internet services in light of this? Do you expect such, or any increase in anti-American sentiments?
  • Jonsdottir: No, none what so ever. I dont think there is much anti-American sentiments in Iceland and I dont think this case will increase it. However I think it is important for everyone who does not live in the USA and uses social services to note that according to the ruling in my case, they dont have any protection of the 1st and 4th amendment, that only apply to USA citizens. Perhaps the legalities in relation to the borderless reality we live in online need to be upgraded in order for people to feel safe with using social media if it is hosted in the USA. Market tends to bend to simple rules.
((WN)) Does this make you more, or less, determined to see the IMMI succeed?
  • Jonsdottir: More. People have to realize that if we dont have freedom of information online we won’t have it offline. We have to wake up to the fact that our rights to access information that should be in the public domain is eroding while at the same time our rights as citizens online have now been undermined and we are only seen as consumers with consumers rights and in some cases our rights are less than of a product. This development needs to change and change fast before it is too late.

The U.S. Government continues to have issues internationally as a result of material passed to WikiLeaks, and subsequently published.

Within the past week, Ecuador has effectively declared the U.S. ambassador Heather Hodges persona-non-grata over corruption allegations brought to light in leaked cables. Asking the veteran diplomat to leave “as soon as possible”, the country may become the third in South America with no ambassadorial presence. Both Venezuela and Bolivia have no resident U.S. ambassador due to the two left-wing administrations believing the ejected diplomats were working with the opposition.

The U.S. State Department has cautioned Ecuador that a failure to speedily normalise diplomatic relations may jeapordise ongoing trade talks.

The United Kingdom is expected to press the Obama administration over the continuing detention of 23-year-old Manning, who also holds UK citizenship. British lawmakers are to discuss his ongoing detention conditions before again approaching the U.S. with their concerns that his solitary confinement, and treatment therein, is not acceptable.

The 22 charges brought against Manning are currently on hold whilst his fitness to stand trial is assessed.



Wednesday, June 21, 2006

London – A few hundred England fans weren’t watching the 2006 FIFA World Cup match against Sweden last night in a pub or at home, but instead had ventured out to their local cinema to see the game on the big screen. A number of Odeon cinemas nationwide have been using digital projection technology to screen the matches live with a high definition (HD) picture. HD broadcasts contain a greater level of detail than traditional TV broadcasts, meaning a sharper picture and better sound quality.

In the darkened auditorium of the cinema in Covent Garden, the audience (or should that be crowd?) were behaving almost as if they were at the stadium, singing along to the national anthem, cheering at the England goals and groaning at the Sweden chances. At times, chants being sung by the England crowd at the match were even picked up and sung along to by those watching the cinema screen like some kind of football karaoke contest.

Trailers before the match were replaced by a soundtrack of England anthems, both the successful and not-so-successful ones, and the traditional movie treat of popcorn was replaced by trays of beer (in plastic cups) being brought in by the punters. The cinema had cheekily listed the screening as being ‘directed by Sven-Göran Eriksson’ and as ‘starring Wayne Rooney (hopefully)’.

Despite a disappointing 2-2 draw, the audience seemed impressed with the experience. “I’m a bit short and so wanted to make sure I had good view without having to jostle around for position,” Amanda, from London, explained to me. “I also liked that it was non-smoking, and there was a fabulous atmosphere”. Sian, Caio and Laura, who lived locally, said they wanted to see the match on the big screen and commented on the excellent picture quality.

Other events that have been broadcast by the cinema chain include concerts by Robbie Williams and Elton John. Odeon Marketing Director Luke Vetere said “offering films is just one part of the cinema experience – our ambition is to offer guests the chance to watch other events they feel passionate about”. Watching football in the cinema is not a brand new event though, during previous World Cups such as in 1966, film footage from the matches was broadcast in cinemas after the event, providing a way for people to see the games in colour when TV broadcasts were in black and white.

Cinema screenings aren’t the only way that fans can watch the World Cup games in high-definition this year though, as both Sky TV and Telewest have been broadcasting the games in HD to viewers with a special set-top box. There have been trials with HD on the growing Freeview platform too, with a pilot group of a few hundred viewers in London. However, as any move to roll out HD on Freeview would use up extra space on the broadcast spectrum and would require viewers to buy a new set-top box, it seems unlikely that this will happen any time soon.



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