Wikinews interviews Tom Millican, independent candidate for US President
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Wikinews interviews Tom Millican, independent candidate for US President

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

While nearly all cover of the 2008 Presidential election has focused on the Democratic and Republican candidates, the race for the White House also includes independents and third party candidates. These parties represent a variety of views that may not be acknowledged by the major party platforms.

As a non-partisan news source, Wikinews has impartially reached out to these candidates, throughout the campaign. The most recent of our interviews is North Carolina, Tom Millican, an independent corporate manager and Vietnam veteran.

Widespread insurgencies in Iraq
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Widespread insurgencies in Iraq

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Insurgents in Iraq struck across numerous regions using suicide car bombings, planted bombs and mortars, aiming at American and Iraqi soldiers alike, and taking a civilian toll as well. There are 19 reported dead and over 3 dozen wounded.

A total of 10 bombs were reported, one of them near Abu Ghraib prison, where the photos of abused inmates were taken. While Baghdad was hit the hardest, hostilities were widespread.

Thus far, there is no single group responsible Saturday’s following attacks:

  • 9 Iraqi soldiers killed in suicide car bombing west of Baghdad
  • 20 Guardsmen wounded at Abu Ghraib on Saturday car bombing of National Guard convoy
  • 1 Iraqi killed, 10 wounded in suicide bombing attack on a US convoy near Baghdad airport
  • 1 Iraqi woman killed, 7 men wounded in separate Baghdad bombing
  • 1 Guardsman killed, two wounded by roadside bomb at Yusufiya
  • 1 Marine killed in Al Haswah by roadside bomb
  • 1 AP camera man killed by gunfire in Mosul
  • 2 suicide car bombers wound 7 Iraqi police officers in southern city of Basra
  • 2 truck drivers killed in separate incidents near oil refinery town of Beiji
  • 7 injured in mortar attack at Iraqi military base in southern Baghdad
  • 1 US soldier killed in bomb explosion beside convoy west of Baghdad
  • 2 Marines killed by roadside bomb near Ar Ramadi
  • 2 civilians killed by roadside bombs in Al Baquba

On the day previous to Saturday, these attacks occurred:

  • 11 Iraqi killed, 20 wounded from car bomb at Shia mosque in eastern Baghdad
  • 6 detained in connection with shooting down commercial helicopter the killed 6 Americans
2008 TaiSPO: Interview with Ideal Bike Corporation and Gary Silva
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2008 TaiSPO: Interview with Ideal Bike Corporation and Gary Silva

Friday, March 28, 2008

2008 Taipei International Cycle Show (Taipei Cycle) & Taipei International Sporting Goods Show (TaiSPO) not only did a best reunion with conjunctions of the launch of Taipei World Trade Center Nangang Exhibition and the concurrent cycling race of 2008 Tour de Taiwan but also provide opportunities and benefits for sporting goods, bicycle, and athlete sports industries to establish the basis of the sourcing center in Asia and notabilities on the international cycling race.

Although the Taipei cycle was split from the TaiSPO since 1988, but the trends of sporting good industry in Taiwan changed rapidly and multiply because of modern people’s lifestyles and habits. After the “TaiSPO Innovation Award” was established since 2005, the fitness and leisure industries became popular stars as several international buyers respected on lifestyle and health.

For example, some participants participated Taipei Cycle and TaiSPO with different product lines to do several marketing on bicycle and fitness equipments, this also echoed the “Three New Movements” proposed by Giant Co., Ltd. to make a simple bicycle with multiple applications and functions. As of those facts above, Wikinews Journalist Rico Shen interviewed Ideal Bike Corporation and Gary Silva, designer of “3G Steeper” to find out the possibilities on the optimizations between two elements, fitness and bicycle.

American Samoa received eight minutes warning before 2009 tsunami
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American Samoa received eight minutes warning before 2009 tsunami

Friday, September 24, 2010

People in American Samoa were given only eight minutes warning that a tsunami, which killed 32 people in the unincorporated territory, resulting from the 2009 Samoa earthquake, was approaching. A report published by the United States Congress admits that the warning was issued sixteen minutes after the 8.0 magnitude earthquake struck Samoa. The tsunami killed nearly 200 people in American Samoa, Samoa and Tonga.

The report, written by the National Research Council, describes the length of time between the earthquake and the initial tsunami warning being issued as “relatively long”, and states that the standard time for such a warning to be issued to be around two minutes. The study also revealed that one third of tsunami sensors are not working at any given time.

John Orcutt, a [seismologist and head of the committee that wrote the report, described the delay as a “major concern”, but he also said that “a large number of people” in American Samoa “didn’t understand and there were lives that were lost because people simply didn’t take the action to get away from the shore when they felt this huge earthquake. People have to understand the signs of a tsunami and head to higher ground.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, whose purpose is to coordinate the response to a disaster that has occurred in the United States and that overwhelms the resources of local and state authorities, and the Government of American Samoa did not respond to e-mails regarding the news.

The study also notes that people living in other coastal cities around the world are at risk of being unprepared for tsunamis that arrive soon after the earthquake occurs, stating that in many places, warnings might not be issued in time. “If the source were so close to shore that only minutes were available before the tsunami reached the coast, the public would need to recognize natural [signs of a tsunami approaching].” The report states that when they fear a tsunami is imminent, people should know to evacuate even “without official warnings.”

The report warns that because tsunamis are so rare, people living near the coast do not know what to do, but it also criticises authorities for not informing citizens of how to react when a tsunami is approaching. “Everybody thought that the tsunami was a single wave, and once the expected landfall time came and left, they thought it was over,” said Costas Synolakis, who is director of the Tsunami Research Center at the University of Southern California, and one of the report’s authors. He continued, “In fact, tsunamis are a series of waves that can last for three to four hours.”

He said that the United States must take action, training first responders in low-lying coastal areas, and adding more tsunami sensors to give advance warning of approaching waves. Synolakis added that, after receiving warning that there may have been a tsunami on the way after the Chile earthquake earlier this year, the response of firefighters at the Port of Los Angeles was poor because they were unfamiliar with how to deal with such a threat.

In the capital of American Samoa, Pago Pago, the tsunami measured 1.57 meters in height. The superintendent of the National Park of American Samoa Mike Reynolds reported four waves as high as six meters. People who experienced the quake said it was long, lasting from 90 seconds to three minutes. “Pago Pago city streets were strewn with overturned vehicles, cars, and debris. Some buildings located only slightly above sea level were completely destroyed by the waves, and power in some locations is not expected to be restored for up to a month,” Wikinews reported at the time.

Didi Afuafi, 28, who was riding on a bus in American Samoa when the tsunami struck, described her experiences. “I was scared. I was shocked. All the people on the bus were screaming, crying and trying to call their homes. We couldn’t get on cell phones. The phones just died on us. It was just crazy,” she said. “This is going to be talked about for generations.” U.S. President Barack Obama said of the disaster: “My deepest sympathies are with the families who lost loved ones and many people who have been affected by the earthquake and the tsunami.”

The people of American Samoa will, next Wednesday, according to a press release by the government, “hold island-wide services to honor the memories of the 34 loved ones who lost their lives” during the tsunami. Church services will be held at 6:00 a.m., followed at 6:48 a.m.—the time when the earthquake occured—thirty-two bells will be rung in memory of those who perished.

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Russia agrees to construct Turkish nuclear reactor
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Russia agrees to construct Turkish nuclear reactor

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Russian and Turkish governments today signed an agreement that would lead to Russia building a US$20 billion nuclear power plant in Turkey, the country’s first.

The plant will be built on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, and construction will commence as soon as the deal is approved by both countries; the building process is expected to take around seven years. The reactor will also be owned by Russia, which will hold “no less than a controlling stake,” according to Sergey Kiriyenko, who is the head of Rosatom, a Russian nuclear energy corporation.

The reactor to be built is the second proposed power plant in the same location; a separate proposal for a four-reactor complex built by a Russian-led consortium was rejected by a Turkish court last year. Russia has attempted to build a nuclear power plant in Turkey, and the contract signed Wednesday “really looks rather impressive,” according to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

The contract for the reactor was one of 20 signed by the two countries today, expected to result in around US$25 billion of Russian investment in Turkey. Other major contracts signed include projects to transport Russian oil and natural gas through Turkey to ports on the Mediterranean Sea. One such project is a major pipeline between the Turkish ports of Samsun on the Black Sea and Ceyhan on the Mediterranean Sea, built in conjunction with an oil refinery in Ceyhan.

In a press conference, Russian President Medvedev said that the agreements signal “a new page in our cooperation…Our talks today showed that Turkey and Russia are strategic partners not only in words but in deeds.” Turkish President Abdullah Gul said that the two countries “share a determination to increase the trade volume from a current US$38 billion to US$100 billion in five years.”

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Free Fitness Programs Achieving Your Fitness Goals Shouldn’t Be Expensive

By Josh Neumann

There are many free fitness programs to help you achieve your fitness goals. Simply, today there are more obese people never because fitness for many people has gotten thrown out the window.

Many people eat very poor diets, don’t exercise enough, and wonder why they are overweight. Free fitness programs can help you to shed your excess pounds and achieve your fitness goals.

So what are the best free fitness programs help you achieve your fitness goals? Of course, this will be different for every person. Quite simply, everybody will have different needs, and therefore will opt for different workout program.

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For instance, if you want us to lose way, you might try jogging. If you want to increase your athleticism, you might try a vertical leap program. If you want to increase your muscle strength you’ll try lifting weights. No matter which programs you decide to do, here are some tips to ensure you succeed with them.

First of all, as with anything important in life you need to sit down and map out exact what you accomplish by the end of your programs. For instance, you wouldn’t simply say you wanted to get in shape, as this would not provide much incentive. The reason the most fail in their fitness programs and even businesses is because they are not specific enough in mapping out what they want to do.

First you need to sit down and write out your goals; be specific. For instance, you might say I want to lose 36 pounds within the next year, or gain 11 inches with your vertical leap. No matter what it is, be absolutely as specific as possible.

Once this is written down put it in a place where you can view it often which will give you an incentive to achieve your fitness goals. Now, once you know exactly what your goals are, go and find the right thing fitness programs to help you get there.

This is probably the easiest part because once you know what you accomplish with your fitness programs, finding the right one is really not that difficult. Now, start out slow and work your way up gradually from there.

Don’t attempt to start jogging 5 miles a day the first week you do it. Start with .1 miles, work up to .2, etc. Follow these tips and you’ll achieve your fitness goals with the help of free fitness programs quickly and easily, and achieve the body and health you always wanted.

About the Author: To learn more great tips on total gym fitness, visit http://www.onlinefitnesstips.com, a site that reviews fitness equipment for your home gym.

Source: isnare.com

Permanent Link: isnare.com/?aid=192808&ca=Wellness%2C+Fitness+and+Diet

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Stingray kills head diver of Underwater World Singapore
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Stingray kills head diver of Underwater World Singapore

Friday, October 7, 2016

Following an accidental death at the closed Underwater World Singapore (UWS) aquarium in Sentosa on Tuesday, operations to relocate the facility’s animals have been suspended.

Phillip Chan, 62, the head diver of the defunct facility, was moving stingrays in preparation for transfer to another aquarium when one of them stung him in the chest. Singapore newspaper The New Paper reported no prior such stingray incident was known to have occurred in Singapore. Australian conservationist Steve Irwin died in a similar manner in 2006.

Following a call to the Singapore Civil Defense Force at 2:20 pm, Chan was found near the entrance of UWS, where attempts were made to resuscitate him via CPR. He was taken to Singapore General Hospital, where he died from his injuries. While Chan’s colleagues declined to comment to The New Paper, a staff member at Shangri-La’s Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa, who witnessed Chan being taken away by ambulance, stated, “It all happened very quickly. The ambulance came and quickly left the premises. I’ve never seen such an incident happening here before.”

UWS operator Haw Par Corporation described Chan as a “veteran diver, aquarist and animal caregiver who had been caring for the aquatic animals at UWS since its opening in 1991”. Ten staff, including Chan, remained at UWS after its closure on June 27 to facilitate care for its animals until they could be suitably relocated. In addition to assisting the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) Occupational Safety and Health Inspectorate with their investigations, Haw Par has pledged Chan’s family “all possible support and assistance”. Due to Chan’s death, MOM has ordered the cessation of animal transfers from UWS while investigations are pending.

In an interview with The New Paper, Dr. Tan Heok Hui, an ichthyologist and Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum operations officer, stated, “Stingrays attack when they feel threatened, cornered or alarmed. Sometimes, a stingray might feel threatened when someone accidentally steps on it. Stingrays have backward pointing barbs on the spine that have serrated edges. They don’t just cause physical pain, the toxins in the spine can also cause extreme discomfort. When a spine pierces human flesh, it breaks and releases toxins into the flesh.”

Stingray venom contains serotonin, a neurotransmitter that can induce severe muscle contractions. According to Dr Tan, “If a victim is hit in vital organs like the chest area, it may trigger a cardiac arrest, which could subsequently be fatal”. “Stingrays are not usually aggressive, and choose defensive methods to protect themselves. However, stingrays are still wild animals, and when provoked and left with no choice, they will defend themselves using their sting.”

In an interview with The New Paper at the time of UWS’ closure in June, Chan said of the animals he worked with, whom he described as his “band of friends”, “They are so quietly tame. […] We intend to find them the best homes and environment. The next time I see them, I might not recognise them any more but if I dive, they might recognise me.”

Chan’s work at UWS entailed diving into the tanks and feeding the animals whilst visitors took photos. In an interview at the time with The Straits Times, Chan stated, “I treat [the animals] like my babies.” Chan also related anecdotes where he was bitten by sharks who mistook him for fish, releasing him when they recognised their mistake, describing the animals as “gentle”. “Whenever I get in danger,” said Chan, “I just keep calm. I can overcome any danger by just being calm”.

MOM stated of Chan’s death, “The Ministry of Manpower was informed about an incident that took place at Underwater World Singapore Pte Ltd’s premises at Siloso Road on 4 October 2016. Officers from MOM’s Occupational Safety and Health Inspectorate responded to the scene immediately and commenced investigations. Preliminary findings indicate that a worker was pierced in his chest by the barb of a stingray while he was in the midst of transferring the stingray from its tank. He was conveyed to hospital where he subsequently succumbed to this injuries.[sic] MOM has instructed the occupier to stop all activities associated with the transferring of sea animals. Investigations are ongoing.”

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US Senate passes new bankruptcy bill
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US Senate passes new bankruptcy bill

Saturday, March 12, 2005In a vote of 74-25 last Thursday, the US Senate passed a measure that would change bankruptcy laws, making it harder for individuals seeking relief from their debt burden to avoid repayment. Almost twenty Democrats joined Republicans, who currently hold a majority of the seats in the US Senate, in passing the bill.

Lobbyists for credit card companies and financial services firms have worked for the bill during the last two administrations. A similar measure passed both the Senate and House during the previous administration, but then President Bill Clinton pocket-vetoed the measure in 2000.

Democrats sought to soften the bill by allowing bankruptcy filers to negotiate directly with lenders for relief, but the amendments were defeated by the Republican-controlled Senate. Proponents of the bill claim the rise of bankruptcy filings to nearly 1.5 million a year shows that abusers of credit use the filings to shield themselves from irresponsible practices.

“There has been an explosion of bankruptcy,” said Iowa Republican Sen. Charles E. Grassley, the bill’s sponsor. “We preserve the principle of a fresh start, but we also establish a principle that if you have the ability to repay some of your debt, you are not going to get off scot-free.” However, Massachusetts Democratic Sen, Edward M. Kennedy said, “This legislation makes the bankruptcy courts of the United States the collection agency for the credit-card industry.”

The bill impacts a broad spectrum of bankruptcy law, but the most significant impact is on personal bankruptcy filings. Individuals who get behind in repaying credit card debt face high interest charges and stiff late payment fees. By only meeting minimum payment requirements, borrowers remit to the lender over the life of the loan an amount in interest and other fees that can far exceed the value of the principal balance of the loan. This can put consumers who run up high balances on various cards at financial risk of default. Critics of the bill blame these aggressive lending practices as a contributing factor in the rising trend of bankruptcy filings from 1996.

The proposed bill doesn’t only affect debtors with credit card debt.

It also affects debtors who have run up large medical bills.

Patients with a past medical history that disqualifies them from full medical coverage, can easily find themselves facing insurmountable medical bills after just a short stay in the hospital. These individuals will no longer be able to get a fresh start after these personal disasters, and will be forced to live in poverty until they can pay off their medical bills as part of their Chapter 13 filing. (Prior to this bill, they would have been able to file Chapter 7, completely discharging their debt.)

Chapter 7, which accounts for 70% of bankruptcy filings, allows individuals to eliminate most non-secured debts after liquidating assets, with the notable exemption of one’s principle residence in most states. The Senate passed bill would change Chapter 7 eligibility by applying a means-test, where those with a median income higher than the state average would be required to file under Chapter 13 provisions. Under Chapter 13 protection, an individual’s debt is not forgiven; rather it is restructured for payment under more lenient terms.

This was the first major overhaul of federal bankruptcy law in many years.

Under the old bankruptcy law, a personal bankruptcy attorney could not be held financially responsible for his clients mendacity. Under the new bankruptcy law, the bankruptcy attorney is responsible for his client’s lies to the Court about his assets and the bankruptcy attorney and his insurance carrier can be held responsible by the Bankruptcy Court.

The result is that personal bankruptcy attorneys (this does not apply to corporate bankruptcy attorneys) are likely to flee the personal bankruptcy field when the new law takes effect. Their insurance companies will not offer the sort of coverage that they would need to continue to practice.

So when consumers need to file personal bankruptcy under the new law, they will be unlikely to find a bankruptcy attorney to represent them. Consumers will have to file pro se: such consumers will be likely to fail due to the complexity of the law.

The bottom line is that the field of personal bankruptcy law as a practice area of law will cease to exist when the new bankruptcy law takes effect, and consumers will be unable to secure legal counsel and so consumers will lose what legal protections counsel now affords them.

Under the new bankruptcy law about one half million Americans will be forest to pay for at lest 5 years on longer they will be held in servitude as chattel they will be completely subservient to a dominating influence of the company that holds the loan. Their loan will be put on the market for sale for profit. The people will be forced to work harder. People who fail to go to court will have a arrest warrant made out in their name and people who refuseto pay. They will be subject to fines and or jail. About fifty thousand Americans will punished by a fine and or about three thousand Americans every year will go to jail under the new bankruptcy law. For some people this will be a third strike they will be put in jail for life.

The bill has the support of President Bush, and its passage in the House sometime next month seems likely. If enacted into law, lending companies will recover more money on what otherwise would be written off as bad loans. Those persons of median and higher income seeking relief would be required to file under Chapter 13 status and pay up to $100 per month under court imposed conditions. It is expected the proposed changes would cause a sharp increase in filings before the new law could take effect.

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ACLU, EFF challenging US ‘secret’ court orders seeking Twitter data
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ACLU, EFF challenging US ‘secret’ court orders seeking Twitter data

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?
Add or view comments
((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.

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Gunman dies, police officer injured after stand-off ends in West Yorkshire, England
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Gunman dies, police officer injured after stand-off ends in West Yorkshire, England

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

 Correction — March 21, 2014 Kirkheaton is not a part of Huddersfield. It is a village nearby. 

A gunman has been killed and a police officer hospitalised following a stand-off in West Yorkshire, England which concluded this morning. The gunman, who, according to police, “continually” fired at officers, sustained serious injuries after police returned fire; he died in hospital.

Police attended a property in Kirkheaton, Huddersfield yesterday, to arrest a man for allegedly threatening a person at a nearby property. Upon their arrival, the man inside fired with a handgun from his doorstep at police, injuring one officer. Armed police then surrounded the building.

Reports suggest the gunman fired on police throughout the stand-off, which involved negotiators. Around 0530 GMT armed police returned fire, seriously injuring the gunman. He was transported to hospital where he later died. “There were three loud bangs—possibly gunfire,” a news cameraman said. “Then the police started shouting and I heard them smashing glass as they went into the house. They were shouting at the gunman to show them his hands.”

Then the police started shouting and I heard them smashing glass as they went in to the house. They were shouting at the gunman to show them his hands.

A spokesperson for West Yorkshire Police confirmed the stand-off had come to an end. “The man produced a gun and fired at the officers. A male officer in his 20s was hit and attended hospital for minor injuries,” he said. “We regret that the incident at the house did not conclude peacefully as we had hoped and can confirm that the man taken to hospital from the address has now died.”

The road remains closed as the investigation continues. Neighbours said they were shocked; one said about eight or nine shots were fired throughout the night. “The police then just told us to stay inside but I could see what was going on opposite,” he said. “Loads of police turned up—some carrying machine guns. They lit the house up like a Christmas tree and the armed police were behind hedges.” The Independent Police Complaints Commission is to investigate.

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