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Best Features Of Fitness Boot Camp}

July 28th, 2017

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Submitted by: Allen Caris

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Latest trial of the One Laptop Per Child running in India; Uruguay orders 100,000 machines

July 27th, 2017

Thursday, November 8, 2007

India is the latest of the countries where the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) experiment has started. Children from the village of Khairat were given the opportunity to learn how to use the XO laptop. During the last year XO was distributed to children from Arahuay in Peru, Ban Samkha in Thailand, Cardal in Uruguay and Galadima in Nigeria. The OLPC team are, in their reports on the startup of the trials, delighted with how the laptop has improved access to information and ability to carry out educational activities. Thailand’s The Nation has praised the project, describing the children as “enthusiastic” and keen to attend school with their laptops.

Recent good news for the project sees Uruguay having ordered 100,000 of the machines which are to be given to children aged six to twelve. Should all go according to plan a further 300,000 machines will be purchased by 2009 to give one to every child in the country. As the first to order, Uruguay chose the OLPC XO laptop over its rival from Intel, the Classmate PC. In parallel with the delivery of the laptops network connectivity will be provided to schools involved in the project.

The remainder of this article is based on Carla G. Munroy’s Khairat Chronicle, which is available from the OLPC Wiki. Additional sources are listed at the end.

Contents

  • 1 India team
  • 2 Khairat
    • 2.1 The town school
  • 3 The workplace
  • 4 Marathi
  • 5 The teacher
  • 6 Older children, teenagers, and villagers
  • 7 The students
  • 8 Teacher session
  • 9 Parents’ meetings
  • 10 Grounding the server
  • 11 Every child at school
  • 12 Sources
  • 13 External links

Japanese researchers create smell sensor using genetically engineered frog eggs

July 27th, 2017

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A University of Tokyo group of researchers, led by bioengineer Shoji Takeuchi, has made an electronic sensor capable of smelling gases. The sensor uses genetically engineered frog cells. Since previous sensors were not very accurate, the scientist decided to try a biological approach. The invention was revealed in a US scientific journal yesterday, and is supposed to be used to design better machines to detect polluting gases in the atmosphere.

Previous smell sensors were based on quartz rods, which vibrate when a substance binds to them. The gases are distinguished by their molar masses, which can be similar for molecules with different structure, thus relatively often triggering a false positive. Trying to find a more accurate solution, Takeuchi decided to follow an example from insect world. As he explained, “when you think about the mosquito, it is able to find people because of carbon dioxide from the human. So the mosquito has CO2 receptors. When we can (extract) DNA (from the mosquito) we can put this DNA into the frog eggs to detect CO2.”

Genes of several insects (the silk moth, diamondback moth and fruit fly), injected into African clawed frog Xenopus laevis eggs, allowed them to produce relatively inexpensive and useful sensors. The choice of the species was caused by their widely studied and well-understood protein expression mechanism.

The modified cells responded to three kinds of pheromones and one odourant, which have similar chemical properties. When a molecule of an odorous substance adhered to the receptor on the membrane protein, ion channels opened for a certain period of time, and a current was generated. Its magnitude was clearly different for all four tested substances, allowing to distinguish between them accurately.

The colleagues embedded the sensor into a mannequin, so that it could shake its head when a gas was detected. It was easier to observe. Pheromones and molecules with quite similar molecule structure produced clearly distinguishable reaction, with higher accuracy than other biological or human-made sensors. As the research group said, the detection sensitivity of the odor sensor is several tens of parts per billion (ppb), and it is as high as the sensitivity of an existing odor sensor that uses an oxide semiconductor. The distinctive feature of the new sensor is its capability to selectively detect some odorous substances, rather than its sensitivity. Very few false positives were possible due to the biological mechanism involved.

At normal temperature, the sensor lifetime is about 12 hours, which can be extended by putting it into a refrigerator before first use.

Shoji Takeuchi says has a great hope for research use in future, since the frog eggs are very practical for genetic engineering, and can be conveniently used to develop smell sensors for a wide range of gases. He said, “The X. laevis oocyte has high versatility for the development of chemical sensors for various odorants. We believe that a shared ability to smell might open a new relationship between man and robot. .. The research will have wide implications… If the sensor is embedded in a nursing robot, it will be able to identify certain mouth odors or body odors. Also, it can be used for detecting CO2, air pollution, water pollution and food. It’s very important for the environment.”

An interview with gossip columnist Michael Musto on the art of celebrity journalism

July 27th, 2017

Sunday, October 7, 2007

There are two things one can expect on a trip to see Michael Musto at the offices of the Village Voice: a 20-minute round-trip wait for the elevator and rapid fire answers from one of the most recognizable gossip columnists in the United States. Musto, in addition to his appearances on Countdown with Keith Olbermann and the E! network, has been writing his column for the Voice since 1984. He has recently compiled the best of them in a book released this year titled, La Dolce Musto: Writings by the World’s Most Outrageous Columnist. He was Carrie Bradshaw, replete with a prodigious use of puns, before Sex in the City was a thought. His column is a romp through his life, spats and opinions on socio-political issues. As David Thigpen of the Chicago Tribune wrote, Musto is “a funny and caustic satirist who masquerades as a gossip and nightlife columnist.”

Musto, a Columbia University graduate, is a rarity in today’s celebrity world: he is accessible. He often corresponds with his readers and his public functions are a mix of parties, nightclubs, academic lectures, university panels and film premieres.

He is friendly and frank, and he welcomes people to join him in his world (“I just got a message that Michael Lucas died!” he says staring wide-eyed at his phone; the message turned out to be false). Wikinews reporter David Shankbone spoke with Musto about his life and his relationship to the world of celebrity journalism. And he did not hold back.


Contents

  • 1 On writing a gossip column
  • 2 On celebrities
  • 3 On the gay community
  • 4 On outing gay celebrities
  • 5 On New York City
  • 6 Musto on Musto
  • 7 Sources

News briefs:May 21, 2010

July 27th, 2017
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Searching for asteroids, extraterrestrial life a little more rocky: Budget cuts threaten to close Arecibo, world’s largest radio telescope

July 27th, 2017

Friday, July 18, 2008

For nearly half a century the world’s largest telescope, the Arecibo Observatory in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, has been observing our solar system and the universe around it. Completed by Cornell University along with the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 1963, Arecibo’s enormous size gives it the ability to collect more light than any other telescope, allowing it to observe objects that are too faint for other radio telescopes to see. Its main purposes are radio astronomy, aeronomy and radar astronomy, but is probably most famous for its continuing use to search for and attempt to communicate with extraterrestrial life outside our solar system and beyond.

Now Arecibo is facing severe budget cuts which could ultimately close the facility. In an in depth exclusive report, Wikinews examined how much of the observatory’s budget was at risk, and what the possible outcomes could be for the programs currently relying on Arecibo as their main research tool. Wikinews spoke to several individuals closely affiliated with projects and facilities who use significant time at the observatory.

Currently, the NSF funds the operations of Arecibo with just over US$10 million every year. By 2011 they plan to drastically cut that funding to only $4 million a year, nearly 65% less than the current budget. To counter that loss, the United States House of Representatives passed a bill that would authorize NASA to spend at least 2 million dollars of their nearly $21 billion budget to fund portions of Arecibo until 2009. But that still leaves more than half of the loss to be recovered, and if something isn’t done soon the facility will be closed by 2011 — or sooner if additional cuts are made.

Arecibo is 305 meters in diameter and 300 meters tall at its highest point. It also has an on-site remote sensing LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) system to detect light and range of a given object in space. Construction began in 1960 and the observatory officially opened on November 1, 1963. Since then, several projects, programs and discoveries were made possible because of the telescope. Its platform also received a fresh coat of paint in late 2007, the first since it was built.

In 1989, the first images of an asteroid named 4769 Castalia were captured using Arecibo. In 1992 Aleksander Wolszczan, an astronomer from Poland used Arecibo to discover pulsar PSR B1257+12 which then led him to discover the first three extrasolar planets in history, and possibly a comet. Scientists with the Near Earth Object Program also use the observatory to track possible meteors and asteroids that have the potential to strike the Earth. Arecibo is also part of the Express Production Real-time e-VLBI Service (EXPReS) project which is aimed at connecting telescopes from Africa, Europe and North and South America to create a 6,000 mile wide telescope. This allows all connected telescopes to observe the exact same spot in the sky giving scientists images 100 times better than any single telescope on Earth. A successful test of this system was completed on May 22. The observatory was also featured in the movie Contact starring Jodie Foster and several James Bond films.

Perhaps the most well known use of Arecibo is its ongoing attempt to find and or communicate with extraterrestrial life. The popular distributed computing SETI@home project launched in 1999 (started by scientists at the University of California, Berkeley), uses Arecibo on a daily basis to record radio data. SETI@home users from around the world can then donate computer time to analyze the data for potential artificial signals, and maybe some day find a message from another intelligent civilization.

“If this occurs [budget cuts], all projects using Arecibo would stop, including uncompleted surveys looking for pulsars, mapping Galactic hydrogen and of course our SETI surveys (SETI@home and SERENDIP V),” stated Eric Korpela, the project scientist for SETI@home, to Wikinews. This would also include the NEO Program. Currently the NEO is mandated by Congress to keep a record of all near-Earth objects that are more than 1 kilometer in diameter.

According to Korpela, the cuts began several years ago when United States senators earmarked funds for other observatories located in West Virginia and New Mexico. He says that those actions “diverted money away from the rest of astronomy” causing the NSF to take the shortfall from the Arecibo budget.

“About two years ago, NSF decided that because of additional funding problems Arecibo would have to close in 2011 with substantial budget cuts before then,” added Korpela who also said the he is sure that SETI@home and SERNDIP V could find an alternative science source, but nothing as powerful and as sensitive as Arecibo. Korpela also adds that there is not yet any planned move of SETI@home, and no agreements between them and other observatories.

“I’m certain the both SETI@home and SERENDIP V would find another telescope to use. But no other telescope comes close to the sensitivity of Arecibo, with the next largest telescopes having a factor of 10 less collecting area and therefore a factor of 10 less sensitivity. The same is true for the pulsar searches. For the hydrogen mapping Arecibo has 3 times the angular resolution of the nearest competitors,” added Korpela but also stated that “there currently aren’t any plans” to move SETI@home and that they don’t “have any agreements from any of the telescopes” to host SETI@home; there are several possible telescopes SETI@home could use adds Korpela.

“Of course we’d like the largest telescopes available if we could get them. Parkes (a 64m telescope in Australia) would be a good candidate. Effelsberg (a 100m dish in Germany) or the 100m Green Bank Telescope in the U.S. would also be good candidates, but as I said much discussion would need to take place before a change could happen,” said Korpela.

In June, former U.S. President Bill Clinton and his daughter Chelsea visited the observatory in an effort to bring awareness to the importance of Arecibo; he called the funding for the facility “gravely inadequate.” He also stated that his wife, and former 2008 U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, supports the need for “basic science”, and notes Hillary’s continued support for a defeated congressional bill that would have given Arecibo the funding it needed.

The bill, named H.R. 2862 ‘Departments of Commerce and Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill’, was rejected by the House of Representatives because “it exceed[ed] the President’s request by $1.4 billion.” The House stated that the need for more funding for the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina was more important.

“The Administration shares the priority the Senate Committee affords basic research and fundamental science and education at NSF, but is concerned that the bill does not fully support the President’s request,” stated the bill which also added that “the Committee has identified areas, such as facilities oversight, that need increased investment to maintain NSF’s efficient operations” and that the NSF didn’t “provide [a] full request for salaries and expenses that would allow NSF to continue to perform to high standards.”

A new bill was then resubmitted and reintroduced as H.R. 3737 on October 3, 2007. It is specifically aimed at providing the “National Science Foundation and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) utilization of the Arecibo Observatory.”

“[This bill will] ensure that the Arecibo Observatory is fully funded to continue its research on Earth’s ionosphere, continue its research in radio astronomy, and continue research on the solar system; and coordinate with the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to ensure that the capabilities of the Arecibo Observatory continue to be available for National Aeronautics and Space Administration research in characterizing and mitigating Near Earth Objects, and other research as needed,” states the Bill.

If Arecibo were to close, Korpela states that it would take only a short time for SETI@home to move its project elsewhere, but that any agreements made with other observatories will take a much longer time to work out. “Setting up the equipment at a new telescope would be a matter of days, arranging an agreement to do so would take much longer. If we can’t find an alternative telescope after an Arecibo shutdown, the project would end once the existing data was analyzed. We’re still hoping that Arecibo will be spared,” added Korpela. He calls for more support of bill H.R. 3737 to continue Arecibo’s science, and SETI@home urges individuals to write to Congress to show support for the bill.

As for the NEO Program, packing up and moving to another location is not possible. There are no other observatories sensitive or large enough to perform the task of tracking near-Earth objects, especially ones at great distances. If Arecibo were to close, the NEO Program, despite a U.S. Congressional mandate and recognition from the Astronomical Science Senior Review Committee, would come to a screeching halt. Wikinews contacted the NSF for a statement, but a Dan MacMillan directed us to the Committee’s report.

“The SR endorses its future discovery potential and archival value. The SR recognizes the significant and unique scientific contributions that the Arecibo Observatory has made to astronomy and astrophysics and it congratulates NAIC and Cornell on operating the facility so effectively,” said the Committee in a 94 page report on the NSF’s budget.

“However, the committee was not persuaded of the primacy of the science program beyond the end of the decade and found that the case for long term support at the present level was not as strong as that for other facilities. The SR recommends that NAIC plan either to close Arecibo or to operate it with a much smaller AST budget. The SR recommends closure after 2011 if the necessary support is not forthcoming. It recommends that operation of the Angel Ramos Visitor Center continue,” added the Committee which also said that “that there were no reliable de-commissioning estimates and recommends that AST engage an independent study to advise on the viability and cost of decommissioning the telescope.”

In an attempt to cover the budget shortfall Arecibo faces, Don Campbell, Professor of Astronomy at Cornell’s Department of Astronomy, who specializes in radio and radar astronomy, tells Wikinews that the university is looking at all possible sources of funding to keep Arecibo open.

“Cornell/NAIC is looking at all possibilities for raising the funds needed to keep the Observatory operating as a forefront institution for research in astronomy and atmospheric sciences. This includes funding from federal agencies, from within Puerto Rico, via international agreements and from private sources,” said Campbell who added that “the NSF’s Division of the Senior Review (SR) panel recommended that NAIC’s budget – NAIC is head quartered at Cornell University and manages the Arecibo – from NSF/AST be reduced from about $10.5M to $8M in FY 2010. It also recommended that there be a further 50% reduction in FY 2011 and that Cornell must find the additional funds needed to operate Arecibo from other sources.”

Campbell also adds that Arecibo is so unique and sensitive, closing it makes no sense.

“Closing Arecibo would be closing the world’s largest and most sensitive single dish radio telescope. It is 4 to 5 times more sensitive, and has a higher resolving power at the same frequencies, than the next largest single dish radio telescope, the 100 m Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope,” said Campbell.

“Arecibo is also, of course, the source of the data that is processed by all the volunteers working with the SETI@home project. Given its relatively small operating budget, closing Arecibo makes no sense,” added Campbell.

City to sue owner of partially collapsed 19th century livery in Buffalo, New York

July 26th, 2017

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Buffalo, New York — Two weeks after a 19th century stable and livery on Jersey Street partially collapsed and caused 15 homes to be evacuated in Buffalo, New York, residents still do not have answers from the city despite a court order to work with them and come to an agreement on a way to save some or all of the building, Wikinews has learned. Despite the frustration from residents, the city is planning on suing the building’s owner. A rally was held at the stable’s site where residents are hoping to bring more awareness to the situation and gain more support to save the building.

On June 11, a significant portion of the stable’s right side wall collapsed into the yard of a resident’s home. Authorities, including the Buffalo Fire Department were called to the scene to evaluate the collapse and evacuate 15 homes of residents surrounding the stable as a precautionary measure. The following day, the city ordered an emergency demolition on the building, which was stopped by a restraining order residents with Save The Livery (www.savethelivery.com) won on June 14. Two weeks later, five homes are still evacuated and residents don’t know when they will be able to return.

On June 19, Judge Justice Christopher Burns of the New York State Supreme Court ordered a halt to the emergency demolition and ordered the city and residents to come to an agreement to save the building, or at least a significant portion of it. Despite a court date today, no agreement has yet been reached between the two parties.

“It is in the interest of the city to have a safe environment–but also important to maintain a sense of historical preservation,” stated Burns in his June 19th ruling. The court ruled that a limited demolition could take place and that the city was only allowed to remove material in immediate danger to residents and pedestrians, but stated that the demolition could only be performed with “hand tools.” The court also ordered that any rubble which had fallen into neighboring yards when the building collapsed, to be removed. Since then, most of not all the significantly damaged portions of the building or portions in immediate danger of falling have been demolished. The roof has also been removed to put less stress on the stable’s walls.

“Its been over three years since we have been having problems with part of the livery falling down. There was an implosion two weeks ago and suddenly the city wanted to have an emergency demolition,” said Catherine Herrick who lives on Summer Street immediately behind the stable and is the main plaintiff in the lawsuit against the city. Many homes on Summer are small cottages which were used as servants quarters when the stable was in operation, many of which were built in the 1820’s. At least seven homes on Summer border the stable’s back walls. Residents in those homes have significant gardens which have been planted against the building and growing for decades.

“Both parties are to continue to work together to see how we can meet everybody’s needs. This is the third time we have been in that courtroom, and that is what we were basically told to do,” added Herrick who said the rally was held today because this “is Buffalo’s history. Buffalo is a wonderful place to live because of its history and this is a historical, beautiful building and we need to keep those beautiful buildings.”

Herrick states that the city is working with residents, but also believes that its “slow moving” and they are allowing the owner to get away with neglect on the property.

“I believe right now that they are letting the owner get off. The owner was negligent for 20 years, and hasn’t done anything to it despite what he has claimed to say. Now that this is an emergency situation, the city has a lot to say about it,” added Herrick.

Currently the building is owned by Bob Freudenheim who has several building violations against him because its poor condition. He has received at least five violations in three months and residents who live near the building state that Freudenheim should be “100% responsible” for his actions.

Freudenheim gave the city permission to demolish the building on June 12 during an emergency Preservation Board meeting, because he would not be “rehabilitating the building anytime soon.” Freudenheim, along with his wife Nina, were part-owners of the Hotel Lenox at 140 North Street in Buffalo and were advocates to stop the Elmwood Village Hotel from being built on the Southeast corner of Forest and Elmwood Avenues. They also financially supported a lawsuit in an attempt to stop the hotel from being built. Though it is not known exactly how long Freudenheim has owned the stable, Wikinews has learned that he was the owner while fighting to stop the hotel from being built. Residents say that he has been the owner for at least 22 years. Attorneys for Freudenheim confirm that the city is starting proceedings against him for his violations beginning as early as Wednesday June 25. Freudenheim has not released a statement and could not be reached for comment.

Many residents want the building preserved and Herrick states that their engineer can have it stable in “four days” as opposed to the 14-30 days it would take to demolish the building and “at a lesser cost than what it costs to demolish it.”

It will cost the city nearly US$300,000 to demolish the building which is paid for with tax money collected from residents in the city. The Buffalo News reports that fees are approaching $700,000. Though reports say there is a potential buyer of the stable, Wikinews cannot independently confirm those reports.

Residents say the stable was designed by Richard A. Waite, a 19th century architect, and was first owned by a company called White Bros., used as a stable and housed at least 30 horses at any given time. It also stored “coaches, coupes, broughams, Victorias and everything in the line of light livery,” stated an article from the West Side Topics dated 1906. According to the article, The company first opened in 1881 on Thirteenth Street, now Normal Avenue, and later moved into the Jersey building in 1892. The Buffalo Fire Department believes the building was built around 1814, while the city property database states it was built in 1870. It is believed to be only one of three stables of this kind still standing in the country.

At about 1950, the stable was converted into an automobile body shop and gasoline station.A property record search showed that in 1950 at least four fuel storage tanks were installed on the property. Two are listed as 550 square feet while the other two are 2,000 square feet. All of the tanks are designated as a TK4, which New York State says is used for “below ground horizontal bulk fuel storage.” The cost of installing a tank of that nature according to the state, at that time, included the tank itself, “excavation and backfill,” but did not include “the piping, ballast, or hold-down slab orring.” It is not known if the tanks are still on the property, but residents are concerned the city was not taking the precautions to find out.

Wikinews has called the city along with the Mayor’s office several times, but both have yet to return our calls. There are conflicting reports as to the date of the next hearing. According to Herrick, the next hearing is July 1, 2008 though the Buffalo News states the next hearing is July 8. The News also states that Burns will make a final ruling on the stable at this time.

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

July 26th, 2017

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.
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((WN)) The same NYT article describes you as a WikiLeaks supporter; is this still the case? What attracts you to their ‘radical transparency’?
  • Jonsdottir: I support the concept of WikiLeaks. While we don’t have a culture of protection for sources and whistleblowers we need sites like WikiLeaks. Plus, I think it is important to give WikiLeaks credit for raising awareness about in how bad shape freedom of information and expression is in our world and it is eroding at an alarming rate because of the fact that legal firms for corporations and corrupt politicians have understood the borderless nature of the legalities of the information flow online – we who feel it is important that people have access to information that should remain in the public domain need to step up our fight for those rights. WikiLeaks has played an important role in that context.I don’t support radical transparency – I understand that some things need to remain secret. It is the process of making things secret that needs to be both more transparent and in better consensus with nations.
((WN)) How do you think the Icelandic government would have reacted if it were tens of thousands of their diplomatic communications being leaked?
  • Jonsdottir: I am not sure – A lot of our dirty laundry has been aired via the USA cables – our diplomatic communications with USA were leaked in those cables, so far they have not stirred much debate nor shock. It is unlikely for tens of thousands of cables to leak from Iceland since we dont have the same influence or size as the USA, nor do we have a military.
((WN)) Your ambassador in the US has spoken to the Obama administration. Can you discuss any feedback from that? Do you have your party’s, and government’s, backing in challenging the ordered Twitter data release?
  • Jonsdottir: I have not had any feedback from that meeting, I did however receive a message from the DOJ via the USA ambassador in Iceland. The message stated three things: 1. I am free to travel to the USA. 2. If I would do so, I would not be a subject of involuntary interrogation. 3. I am not under criminal investigation. If this is indeed the reality I wonder why they are insisting on getting my personal details from Twitter. I want to stress that I understand the reasoning of trying to get to Assange through me, but I find it unacceptable since there is no foundation for criminal investigation against him. If WikiLeaks goes down, all the other media partners should go down at the same time. They all served similar roles. The way I see it is that WikiLeaks acted as the senior editor of material leaked to them. They could not by any means be considered a source. The source is the person that leaks the material to WikiLeaks. I am not sure if the media in our world understands how much is at stake for already shaky industry if WikiLeaks will carry on carrying the brunt of the attacks. I think it would be powerful if all the medias that have had access to WikiLeaks material would band together for their defence.
((WN)) Wikinews consulted a Belgian IT security expert who said it was most likely companies such as Facebook, Microsoft, and Google, would have complied with similar court orders *without advising the ‘targets*’. Does that disturb you?
  • Jonsdottir: This does disturb me for various reasons. The most obvious is that my emails are hosted at google/gmail and my search profile. I dont have anything to hide but it is important to note that many of the people that interact with me as a MP via both facebook and my various email accounts don’t always realize that there is no protection for them if they do so via those channels. I often get sensitive personal letters sent to me at facebook and gmail. In general most people are not aware of how little rights they have as users of social media. It is those of uttermost importance that those sites will create the legal disclaimers and agreements that state the most obvious rights we lose when we sign up to their services.
This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.
((WN)) Has there been any backlash within Iceland against US-based internet services in light of this? Do you expect such, or any increase in anti-American sentiments?
  • Jonsdottir: No, none what so ever. I dont think there is much anti-American sentiments in Iceland and I dont think this case will increase it. However I think it is important for everyone who does not live in the USA and uses social services to note that according to the ruling in my case, they dont have any protection of the 1st and 4th amendment, that only apply to USA citizens. Perhaps the legalities in relation to the borderless reality we live in online need to be upgraded in order for people to feel safe with using social media if it is hosted in the USA. Market tends to bend to simple rules.
((WN)) Does this make you more, or less, determined to see the IMMI succeed?
  • Jonsdottir: More. People have to realize that if we dont have freedom of information online we won’t have it offline. We have to wake up to the fact that our rights to access information that should be in the public domain is eroding while at the same time our rights as citizens online have now been undermined and we are only seen as consumers with consumers rights and in some cases our rights are less than of a product. This development needs to change and change fast before it is too late.

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

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

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

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

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

Wikinews interviews former Salt Lake City mayor and 2012 presidential candidate Rocky Anderson

July 26th, 2017

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Former Salt Lake City mayor and human rights activist Rocky Anderson took some time to discuss his 2012 U.S. presidential campaign and the newly-created Justice Party with Wikinews reporter William S. Saturn.

Anderson served as mayor of Salt Lake City for eight years (2000–2008) as a member of the Democratic Party. During his tenure, he enacted proposals to reduce the city’s carbon emissions, reformed its criminal justice system, and positioned it as a leading sanctuary for refugees. After leaving office, Anderson grew critical of the Democratic Party’s failure to push for impeachment against President George W. Bush, and for not reversing policies on torture, taxes, and defense spending. He left the party earlier this year and announced that he would form a Third party.

Anderson officially established the Justice Party last week during a press conference in Washington D.C.. He proclaimed “We the people are powerful enough to end the perverse government-to-the-highest-bidder system sustained by the two dominant parties…We are here today for the sake of justice — social justice, environmental justice and economic justice.” The party promotes campaign finance reform and is attempting to appeal to the Occupy Wall Street movement. It is currently working on ballot access efforts, and will hold a Founding Convention in February 2012 in Salt Lake City.

Among other issues, Anderson discussed climate change, health care, education, and civil liberties. He detailed his successes as mayor of Salt Lake City, stressed the importance of executive experience, and expressed his views on President Barack Obama and some of the Republican Party presidential candidates. He spoke in depth about former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, with whom he worked during the 2002 Winter Olympics, and fellow Utahan, former governor and U.S. ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, Jr..

Contents

  • 1 Background
  • 2 The Justice Party and opposition
  • 3 The GOP race
  • 4 Public policy and the state of democracy
  • 5 Related articles
  • 6 Sources

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