Listening to you at last: EU plans to tap cell phones

Monday, October 19, 2009

A report accidentally published on the Internet provides insight into a secretive European Union surveillance project designed to monitor its citizens, as reported by Wikileaks earlier this month. Project INDECT aims to mine data from television, internet traffic, cellphone conversations, p2p file sharing and a range of other sources for crime prevention and threat prediction. The €14.68 million project began in January, 2009, and is scheduled to continue for five years under its current mandate.

INDECT produced the accidentally published report as part of their “Extraction of Information for Crime Prevention by Combining Web Derived Knowledge and Unstructured Data” project, but do not enumerate all potential applications of the search and surveillance technology. Police are discussed as a prime example of users, with Polish and British forces detailed as active project participants. INDECT is funded under the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), and includes participation from Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

Indicated in the initial trial’s report, the scope of data collected is particularly broad; days of television news, radio, newspapers, and recorded telephone conversations are included. Several weeks of content from online sources were agglomerated, including mining Wikipedia for users’ and article subjects’ relations with others, organisations, and in-project movements.

Watermarking of published digital works such as film, audio, or other documents is discussed in the Project INDECT remit; its purpose is to integrate and track this information, its movement within the system and across the Internet. An unreleased promotional video for INDECT located on YouTube is shown to the right. The simplified example of the system in operation shows a file of documents with a visible INDECT-titled cover taken from an office and exchanged in a car park. How the police are alerted to the document theft is unclear in the video; as a “threat”, it would be the INDECT system’s job to predict it.

Throughout the video use of CCTV equipment, facial recognition, number plate reading, and aerial surveillance give friend-or-foe information with an overlaid map to authorities. The police proactively use this information to coordinate locating, pursuing, and capturing the document recipient. The file of documents is retrieved, and the recipient roughly detained.

Technology research performed as part of Project INDECT has clear use in countering industrial and international espionage, although the potential use in maintaining any security and predicting leaks is much broader. Quoted in the UK’s Daily Telegraph, Liberty’s director, Shami Chakrabarti, described a possible future implementation of INDECT as a “sinister step” with “positively chilling” repercussions Europe-wide.

“It is inevitable that the project has a sensitive dimension due to the security focussed goals of the project,” Suresh Manandhar, leader of the University of York researchers involved in the “Work Package 4” INDECT component, responded to Wikinews. “However, it is important to bear in mind that the scientific methods are much more general and has wider applications. The project will most likely have lot of commercial potential. The project has an Ethics board to oversee the project activities. As a responsible scientists [sic] it is of utmost importance to us that we conform to ethical guidelines.”

HAVE YOUR SAY
Should the EU carry out this research without a wider public debate?
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Although Wikinews attempted to contact Professor Helen Petrie of York University, the local member of Project INDECT’s Ethics board, no response was forthcoming. The professor’s area of expertise is universal access, and she has authored a variety of papers on web-accessibility for blind and disabled users. A full list of the Ethics board members is unavailable, making their suitability unassessable and distancing them from public accountability.

One potential application of Project INDECT would be implementation and enforcement of the U.K.’s “MoD Manual of Security“. The 2,389-page 2001 version passed to Wikileaks this month — commonly known as JSP-440, and marked “RESTRICTED” — goes into considerable detail on how, as a serious threat, investigative journalists should be monitored, and effectively thwarted; just the scenario the Project INDECT video could be portraying.

When approached by Wikinews about the implications of using INDECT, a representative of the U.K.’s Attorney General declined to comment on legal checks and balances such a system might require. Further U.K. enquiries were eventually referred to the Police Service of Northern Ireland, who have not yet responded.

Wikinews’ Brian McNeil contacted Eddan Katz, the International Affairs Director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (E.F.F.). Katz last spoke to Wikinews in early 2008 on copyright, not long after taking his current position with the E.F.F. He was back in Brussels to speak to EU officials, Project INDECT was on his agenda too — having learned of it only two weeks earlier. Katz linked Project INDECT with a September report, NeoConopticon — The EU Security-Industrial Complex, authored by Ben Hayes for the Transnational Institute. The report raises serious questions about the heavy involvement of defence and IT companies in “security research”.

On the record, Katz answered a few questions for Wikinews.

((WN)) Is this illegal? Is this an invasion of privacy? Spying on citizens?

Eddan Katz When the European Parliament issued the September 5, 2001 report on the American ECHELON system they knew such an infrastructure is in violation of data protection law, undermines the values of privacy and is the first step towards a totalitarian surveillance information society.

((WN)) Who is making the decisions based on this information, about what?

E.K. What’s concerning to such a large extent is the fact that the projects seem to be agnostic to that question. These are the searching systems and those people that are working on it in these research labs do search technology anyway. […] but its inclusion in a database and its availability to law enforcement and its simultaneity of application that’s so concerning, […] because the people who built it aren’t thinking about those questions, and the social questions, and the political questions, and all this kind of stuff. [… It] seems like it’s intransparent, unaccountable.

The E.U. report Katz refers to was ratified just six days before the September 11 attacks that brought down the twin towers of the World Trade Center. In their analysis of the never-officially-recognised U.S. Echelon spy system it states, “[i]n principle, activities and measures undertaken for the purposes of state security or law enforcement do not fall within the scope of the EC Treaty.” On privacy and data-protection legislation enacted at E.U. level it comments, “[such does] not apply to ‘the processing of data/activities concerning public security, defence, state security (including the economic well-being of the state when the activities relate to state security matters) and the activities of the state in areas of criminal law'”.

Part of the remit in their analysis of Echelon was rumours of ‘commercial abuse’ of intelligence; “[i]f a Member State were to promote the use of an interception system, which was also used for industrial espionage, by allowing its own intelligence service to operate such a system or by giving foreign intelligence services access to its territory for this purpose, it would undoubtedly constitute a breach of EC law […] activities of this kind would be fundamentally at odds with the concept of a common market underpinning the EC Treaty, as it would amount to a distortion of competition”.

Ben Hayes’ NeoConoptiocon report, in a concluding section, “Following the money“, states, “[w]hat is happening in practice is that multinational corporations are using the ESRP [European Seventh Research Programme] to promote their own profit-driven agendas, while the EU is using the programme to further its own security and defence policy objectives. As suggested from the outset of this report, the kind of security described above represents a marriage of unchecked police powers and unbridled capitalism, at the expense of the democratic system.”

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.

When And How To Put A Horse To Sleep}

Submitted by: Dr. Douglas Stewart

Although some horses (like some people) have the good fortune to die peacefully in their sleep of old age, most horses will eventually reach a stage (due to severe injury, disease or incapacity) where the most humane action is to put them down. For the horse owner, this can be a very difficult and painful decision, in terms of when a horse should be put down, as well as how. This article is the personal view of one horse owner on this subject.

Is Now the Time?

If a horse is in a lot of pain and distress, due to an incurable injury or disease, the only correct action is to put it down as quickly and as humanely as possible. However, in some cases the decision is not as clear.

For example, a horse may be in permanent pain but quite capable of happily living with it. This was the case of a draft horse pensioned with us, who had a chronic case of laminitis which made walking painful (especially over hard surfaces). As an elderly horse, he also had dental issues which made chewing uncomfortable. However, by supplementing his diet with soft food and giving him maximum time on soft pasture, his discomfort was minimised. He was a stoic horse, who seemed little bothered by pain, and obviously enjoyed life. He would trot around the pasture with his head held high and come to us for cuddles. Although retired, he was active in the pasture and obviously enjoyed life despite the constant pain in his feet and when he ate.

For me, the question is not how much pain the horse is in, but rather is he still happy and enjoying life. One can tell this not only by how the horse behaves at the moment, but also how his behavior has changed in response to injury or illness. When life changes from a pleasure to a burden, that is the time for the horse to be put down.

Economic Constraints

Aside from illness and disease, many horses are put down for financial reasons, such as:

Competitive Horses

. Many horses are bred and raised for competitions (e.g. racing), with the vast majority of these not making the grade. The ones which are not fast enough are often either put down, or sold for slaughter, or sold into questionable circumstances.

Elderly Horses

. Older horses, having reached the end of their productive life (e.g. riding), leave the owner with a decision between puting the horse down or paying for an expensive (and potentially lengthy) retirement.

Medical Costs

. Injuries and illnesses can be very expensive. For example, a severe case of colic which requires surgery can cost $10 000, with no guarantee that the treatment will be successful. With the average horse costing $3000 or less (in many cases, much less), horse owners of limited financial resources face a difficult decision.

Although the economic pressures are real, there are alternatives:

Rescue Organisations

. There are numerous horse rescue organisations, which will find new homes for horses young and old. Some of them will even take on medical costs. Your local veterinarian is a good source to ask, not only for the large organisations but also for the smaller ones and the local private activities.

New Owners

. Although a horse may have no apparent economic value, there may still be many potential alternative owners that would be happy to provide it a new home. For example, people which have purchased a horse for their private use recognise that they need a second horse as a companion to the first. For this purpose, even an old or unusable horse may be perfectly suitable. There are a number of websites where one can advertise horses for this and similar purposes, often free of charge.

One may not always be able to find a solution for every horse. However, before putting down a horse which is still enjoying its life, remember that there are alternatives.

How

When your horse has reached the point where it needs to be put down, the question is no longer ‘when’ but rather ‘how’.

The normal methods are by injection (sedative overdose) or by a slaughter gun which fires a bolt directly into the brain. In both cases, this should be done by a professional. In particular, the use of a slaughter gun should be done by an experienced person, as inexperienced people have been known to shoot the horse without killing it on first attempt, resulting in terrible pain until the mistake can be corrected. Whatever one might see in western movies, the use of a hunting gun is highly questionable, due to the risk that the bullet may not penetrate the thick skill and immediately end the horse’s life.

If the horse is at home when the decision is make, it is kindest to the horse to put it down there (e.g. have a veterinarian come out and give a lethal injection). If the horse is severely injured or ill, transport to another location adds to its suffering. Furthermore, unfamiliar surroundings may cause it distress (particularly if taken to a slaughterhouse, where the horse may panic in response to the smell of blood). The main obstacle to this approach is the difficulty of transporting the body afterwards, so prior to putting a horse down one needs to consider whether it is necessary to first move it to a more practical location.

For personal safety, if the horse is standing up, one needs to either lie it down prior to euthanasia or be careful that nobody becomes trapped under the horse if it falls while being euthanized. Professionals (e.g. a veterinarian) should have the experience and sufficient detachment to consider such practicalities.

Unless one personally knows and trusts the person performing the euthanasia, one should remain with the horse until the end, to ensure that your wishes in this regard are properly carried out. For example, it has been known for professional slaughter staff to transport horses to the location which is most convenient for them, even though it meant additional suffering for the animal. Staying with your horse allows you to ensure that your horse ends its life with minimum distress.

About the Author: This

Horse Care

article was written by Doug Stewart, owner of

Horse Sale

and breeder of Appaloosas.

Source:

isnare.com

Permanent Link:

isnare.com/?aid=444108&ca=Pets}

Exclusive: ‘The Scientology Reformation’ author examines Tom Cruise and David Miscavige

Friday, October 19, 2012

Wikinews held an exclusive interview with former high-ranking Scientology executive Mark Rathbun on his new book The Scientology Reformation: What Every Scientologist Should Know. Rathbun examined the close association between actor Tom Cruise and Scientology leader David Miscavige. Before leaving the organization led by Miscavige, Rathbun served as Inspector General of the Religious Technology Center within Scientology. He currently practices the teachings of Scientology and its founder L. Ron Hubbard independently of the organization managed by David Miscavige.

Canada’s Etobicoke Centre (Ward 3) city council candidates speak

This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

Monday, October 30, 2006

On November 13, Torontoians will be heading to the polls to vote for their ward’s councillor and for mayor. Among Toronto’s ridings is Etobicoke Centre (Ward 3). One candidate responded to Wikinews’ requests for an interview. This ward’s candidates include Doug Holyday (incumbent), Peter Kudryk, Lillian Lança, and Ross Vaughan.

For more information on the election, read Toronto municipal election, 2006.

Sanitizing Baby Toys So That Your Child Remains Healthy

Sanitizing Baby Toys So That Your Child Remains Healthy

by

James Morison

As parents or custodians, the well being of our children is paramount to us. Kids are used to taking their toys around to different places, be it the bathroom, washroom and outside the confines of the house. If these aren t cleaned often enough, they may soon become the hiding places of harmful bacteria that may then put your child s health at risk.

Moreover as children are young, their immune system too isn t as developed as that of adults due to which they become even more vulnerable to contracting infections. Therefore it is essential that

kids toys

be sanitized regularly keeping the best interests of the child in mind. These are some of the tips that may prove beneficial for you when it coming to sanitizing baby toys.

Buy Plastic or Rubber Kids Toys: These are the easiest to wash and hence this should be one of the factors when you step out to shop for baby toys.

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Alternate the toys: Keep 2 or 3 different sets of toys and alternate their cleaning and sanitizing time. Most kids have plenty of toys to choose from, therefore taking a specific set of toys and cleaning them won t be much of a problem.

The Cleaning Process: Soak all the toys which you want cleaned into a warm soapy water solution for about 5 minutes. Having completed with this task, use a scrubbing brush to scrub the grime and dirt from the baby toys. Put in an effort to especially clean the hard to reach areas as these are often the places where the density of the germs is the highest.

Having done with the scrubbing process, proceed to rinse the soap residue with clean water. Prepare a sanitizing solution by adding a quarter of household bleach to one gallon of water. Dip the toys in the solution and following a few seconds, remove the toy and place it on an air rack so as to air dry it.

However it is always necessary that you take certain precautions that you need to take while cleaning kids toys.

Make sure that the cleaning solution you are using is marked as a non toxic one.

Discard leftover bleach solution rather than saving it up for future use. If you run out of bleach solution, use sanitary wipes to clean toys temporarily.

Never add bleach with any chemicals except water because these can form potential toxins. Keep the bleach disinfectant well away from your child s gaze

The author, apart from being a kindergarten teacher is a massive fan of

Tomy toys

and

baby monitor

. He advises people to buy

baby products

online because one gets to choose from a wide variety of products here.

Article Source:

ArticleRich.com

Czech pub food eating experiment resulted in lost weight, lower cholesterol

Friday, March 10, 2006

On February 8, the same day Super Size Me opened in Prague, a Czech film company’s volunteer known as Karel Gustav Bozan began a 1 month diet of Czech pub food and beer in a Czech version called “Super Spek Me”; which translates loosely as “Super Flab Me”.

Zuzana Pudilova of Aerofilms described the volunteer at that time: “He is a well-built man between 45 and 50. He is almost 2 metres tall, he is not exactly thin but until now he has had quite a healthy lifestyle.”

Karel ate typical Czech pub food for an entire month with three rules: no vegetables or fresh fruit (unless they came with a meal) no exercise, and lots of beer.

Karel’s menu consisted entirely of typical Czech dishes. Obesity therapist, Iva Malkova, had warned at the beginning of the project: “People in the Czech Republic eat much more fat, especially animal fat than is recommended.” Pub meals in the Czech Republic often consist of such fatty items as goose with dumplings or sausages.

Yesterday the results were announced; Karel lost six kilos, his cholesterol went down and so did his liver enzymes, triglyceride and uric acid levels. His blood pressure did not change. At his interview with Radio Prague he said: “I feel good, great! The food was varied and there were even enough greens in the garnish. As for beer, I tried to alternate brands but I always settled it with Pilsner. I liked the experiment, it was all paid for by the distributor, Aerofilms. I would do it again, maybe they will propose it to me!”

Zuzana Pudilova of Aerofilms said: “The result of the experiment is surprising – both for us and the experts who monitored it. The medical report says our volunteer has lost weight and his blood sugar has dropped. So we have come to the conclusion that fatty Czech pub grub is not all that bad for you – which I guess wasn’t meant to be the result of the experiment at all.”

How To Choose The Right Adoption Mc Lean Agency

byadmin

Adoption McLean lawyers and agencies are among the most notable services available. Adoption is often chosen by infertile couples or those who wish to expand their family. It can provide a loving home for a child who needs a loving family. These services are recognized of bringing happiness into the lives of thousands of clients. Adoption can be a joyful time, but it may also be challenging and frustrating. The process is complex so it pays to have the right adoption agency. Here are tips to help you find the right agency.

All adoption agencies must be registered by the state and undergo rigorous inspections which are conducted periodically to make certain he agency is up to standards. Some agencies have paid employs scattered in various parts of the world to assist tin international adoptions. This kind of arrangement is more beneficial than employing people who just work in the local agency. An international staff is more effective so you are advised to ask them about it.

Budget is another matter to consider when you look for adoption agencies. Adoption can be expensive so it might limit choice of service. For those who have the finances, a private agency may be the best choice. These agencies will assist you in locating potential children based on your eligibility. However, most people will not be able to use a service because of price. If you have budget restrictions, a non-profit or social service agencies are ideal.

An adoption agency should be more than willing to tell you how they operate. You would prefer to know the method they use to get you connected with a child and what qualifications you need to meet. Find out how they handle legal matters such as if the birth mother changes her mind about adoption. Do they help you with paperwork or you leave you on your own? Ask about the role the parents play in the processes so they won’t interfere when everything is finalized. Request names of former clients and get their opinions. The Better business Bureau is a good way to determine if any complaints have been filed against the agency.

Adoption can be an exciting time. However, you must use discretion when finding an Adoption McLean agency and lawyers. If anything feels suspicious, do not use them. You want to ensure the experience is joyful

US ‘Black Friday’ shoppers gather hours, even days before some stores’ openings

Friday, November 29, 2013

With the US retail tradition of ‘Black Friday’ already underway early Thursday evening, some shoppers began gathering outside retail stores as much as 53 hours prior to these special sales events. This, according to a Texas man who told Wikinews that he and his companions had started gathering at their local Best Buy store at 1:00pm on Tuesday, awaiting the 6:00pm Thursday opening. Target retail stores opened across the country at 8pm (local time) on Thursday evening. At 8:45pm Thursday evening, approximately 500 cars were parked at the Target store in Tyler, Texas.

At least four camping tents were set up outside the Best Buy store in the Dallas, Texas area, during pre-dawn hours on Thanksgiving morning. Years ago, it was seen as something special for retail stores to open at 6am on the so-called ‘Black Friday’ following Thanksgiving Day; that time would be considered “late” by modern standards. Many retailers use barricades to organize those who gather at their storefronts. For the first time ever, a shopping mall in Las Cruces, New Mexico will open at 8pm on Thanksgiving Day and will remain open for 25 consecutive hours, closing at 9pm Friday evening.

In recent years, several significant injuries have occurred during the melee that often ensued when stores opened their doors for Black Friday events. In 2011, a woman shot pepper spray at 20 people who were waiting to purchase the newest Xbox system.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi killed in airstrike

Thursday, June 8, 2006

The head of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, has been killed in an air strike on a building north of Baqubah city, according to the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki.

“Today [sic] Zarqawi has been terminated,” he said Thursday, and suggested the man the United States had placed a $25 million price tag on for death or capture was located through intelligence.

“What happened today is a result of co-operation for which we have been asking from our masses and the citizens of our country,” he said.

The leader of coalition forces in Iraq, General George Casey said al-Zarqawi was killed in a two-storey safehouse about 8 km north of the city in Diyala province.

Several aides also died with him in the Wednesday evening raid by U.S. F-16 warplanes, including his key lieutenant and spiritual adviser Sheik Abdul Rahman. Some analysts believe a US counter-terrorism unit, Task Force 145, was involved in the attack.

Al-Zarqawi’s body, recovered after two 500-pound bombs had blown through his cover, was identified through fingerprint, tattoo and scar analysis and head likeness. Al-Zarqawi, whose real name was Ahmed Fadhil Nazzal al-Khalayleh, was believed to be in his late 30s when he died of injuries while US forces gave medical aid.

The first munition exploded at 6:15pm was a GBU-12 laser-guided bomb that was shortly followed by the newer GBU-38; both carried 500lb of explosives for total cost of $40,000.

The self-proclaimed frontman for Osama Bin Laden’s activities in Iraq, al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian national, is said to have been involved in the beheading of foreigners, hundreds of suicide attacks, and an insurgency against coalition forces after the Iraq war in 2003.

It had been reported Al-Zarqawi’s most recent campaign was to create problems between Shi’ite and Sunni groups in Iraq with ethnic killings.

For the Iraqi government the killing of the wanted murderer is what they sought but it remains unknown what effect the removal of this known figurehead of the Iraq insurgency will have on levels of violence in the country. Al-Zarqawi was not the only person to oppose the US-backed Iraqi government.

“Zarqawi didn’t have a number two. I can’t think of any single person who would succeed Zarqawi…In terms of effectiveness, there was no single leader in Iraq who could match his ruthlessness and his determination,” was the view of Rohan Gumaratna at the Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies in Singapore.

Applause was heard as Mr Maliki, with U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and U.S. Gen. George Casey, by his side, told news reporters “al-Zarqawi was terminated.”

Sources claiming to be Al-Qaeda in Iraq later confirmed that al-Zarqawi had been killed and said that they would fight the United States and the interim Iraqi government despite his death.

United States President George Bush spoke to journalists in the White House Rose Garden about al-Zarqawi’s death. “Zarqawi’s death is a severe blow to al-Qaeda. It’s a victory in the global war on terror, and it is an opportunity for Iraq’s new government to turn the tide of this struggle,” he said.

The US military also confirmed that six people were killed in the strike, including al-Zarqawi, and his spiritual adviser Sheikh Abd-al-Rahman The death toll is reported at three men, three women.[1] Some reports had said al-Zarqawi’s wife and daughter died. However U.S. officials state that there is no evidence confirming the death of al-Zarqawi’s wife and daughter.

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