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Reform Party of the United States nominates fitness model Andre Barnett for president

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Fitness model Andre Barnett of Poughkeepsie, New York won the presidential nomination of the Reform Party of the United States at its national convention in Philadelphia last weekend. Consultant Kenneth Cross was selected as his running mate.

Barnett, who founded the company WiseDome, became a fitness model after suffering an injury in a 2000 helicopter incident while serving in the U.S. Army. He participated in last January’s Wikinews Reform Party USA presidential candidates forum, along with then-candidates former Savannah State football coach Robby Wells and Earth Intelligence Network CEO Robert David Steele.

Both Wells and Steele withdrew long before the convention as did others who later announced their candidacies, notably former Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer and former Council of Economic Advisers Senior Economist Laurence Kotlikoff. As Wikinews reported in June, historian Darcy Richardson also sought the nomination, but he tells Wikinews that he did not attend the convention and withdrew from the race in July, “once it became clear the party wasn’t going to qualify for the ballot in Arkansas, New Jersey and a few of the other relatively easy states.”

Two other candidates — Cross, who later won the vice presidential nomination, and Dow Chemical worker Edward Chlapowski — attended the convention, where they debated Barnett before the delegate vote.

In his acceptance speech, Barnett referred to the Reform Party as “the microcosm of America”, and proclaimed that as the party’s nominee, he would not focus on social issues that “[belong] outside of politics”, but instead would center his campaign on the economy, defense, and education.

The Reform Party currently has ballot access in four states: Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Kansas; but in June, the disaffiliated Kansas Reform Party chose to nominate 2008 Constitution Party presidential nominee Chuck Baldwin.

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Nov
17

An interview with Jimbo Wales

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An interview with Jimbo Wales

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Just five years ago, when Jimbo Wales founded Wikipedia, the project’s goal of 100,000 articles [1] seemed ambitious. Yet today, the project, now one of the top 25 websites in the world according to Alexa, is nearing closer 1,000,000 articles in English, and 3.5 million articles across all languages. This week, we interviewed Jimbo Wales.

Color-free version

Wikinews: Raul654 asks: “Recently, there were revelations about organized attempts by US Congressmen to whitewash their articles. What is your take on this, as well as earlier reports of Corporate astroturfing?”

Jimbo Wales: The question is invalid. There were no revelations of organized attempts by US Congressmen to whitewash their articles. Not any evidence of “corporate astroturfing” of which I am aware. There was evidence that some congressional staffers edited Wikipedia in inappropriate ways. But the internal evidence of the type and style of these edits do not suggest “organized attempts”.

WN: Nichalp asks: “Budget permitting, are there any plans to increase the number of Wikipedia servers, specifically into the less developed countries?”

JW: We are always buying new servers. There are no specific plans to add servers in less developed countries, but we have looked into it as a possibility. We are particularly interested in doing so if it helps increase access and reduce costs for those users.

WN: An anonymous reader asks: “How much of a role do you feel the Wikipedia community (and the communities of its sister projects) should have in the running of the Wikimedia Foundation? Do you see an increasing separation of the organization from the projects? If so, do you regard that as beneficial or a potential problem?”

JW: The community has always been and will always be absolutely crucial to the running of the Wikimedia Foundation. We are increasing the community input and activity in the foundation through a new series of committees to delegate things to community members which have traditionally been handled by me or the Board. I do not see any increasing separation of the organization from the projects, quite the opposite. I consider the increasing integration of the community and the foundation as overwhelmingly beneficial.

WN: ALoan asks: “English Wikipedia is approaching 1 million articles, but less than 1 in a thousand are Featured articles. The list of featured articles English Wikipedia should have has few featured articles, and recent surveys of articles chosen at random show that many articles are poorly written. How can we get from here to an encyclopedia of well-written articles? Or should we not worry too much about coverage and content?”

JW: We should be tightly focused on the quality of our coverage and content. The goal of Wikipedia is to create and distribute a freely licensed high quality encyclopedia. The path to that goal will require us to be flexible and thoughtful. The first steps will come soon with the article review system, which will initially be used simply to gather data. After we have data, we can begin to work on how we will focus our attention to improve quality.

WN: GeorgeStepanek asks: “You’ve said that ‘Wikimedia’s mission is to give the world’s knowledge to every single person on the planet in their own language.’ But very few of the wikipedias in the languages of third-world countries are seeing as much activity as the first-world language wikipedias. Do you have any ideas on how this could be turned around?”

JW: I am a believer in outreach. I would like for the Foundation to raise money specifically to pay one or more minority language co-ordinators. The goal would be to reach out in a more organized way to professors and graduate students and expat communities who have good Internet access, to seed projects for languages where the majority of speakers have poor internet access.

WN: Jacoplane asks: “How do you feel we will be able to reach Wikipedia 1.0? The tools currently available for vetting our articles are crude at best. The Featured article process seems too slow, and the article validation feature seems to have died a quiet death. Are you planning a big push on this front?”

JW: Isn’t that the same question as the quality question? The article validation feature has not died a quiet death at all.

WN: Quadell asks: “Most important decisions on Wikimedia projects are handled with consensus. However, we sometimes have to deal with legal issues, especially related to copyright law. For instance, we as a community may need to decide whether to consider a certain use “fair”, or how to deal with conflicting copyright claims. Dealing with this through consensus is problematic, since we can’t do something illegal even if there is widespread misguided support for it. In general, how can we as a community deal with these issues?”

JW: I don’t think there is any real problem with this. The community is strongly in support of following the law. I don’t know of any particular cases of widespread misguided support for something illegal. In particular cases, there can of course be [dis]agreement, but I have never seen anyone in the community argue that we should not listen to the advice of our legal team.

WN: Raul654 asks: “Where do you see Wikipedia in 10 years?”

JW: I don’t know. My favorite answer to this is to say, the real question is: where will the world be after 10 more years of Wikipedia. 🙂 Seriously, I think we’ll eventually see a tapering off of new article creation in the large language wikipedias as more and more “verifiable” topics are covered. At this point, most changes will be expansions and updates and quality improvements to existing articles. But in 10 years, it seems likely to me that many languages which are now quite small will have very large Wikipedia projects. Our community will continue to become more diverse as more and more people worldwide come online.

WN: Kevin Myers asks: “The values reflected in certain Wikipedia policies (anti-censorship, neutral point-of-view) are problematic in cultures where freedom of expression is limited, as the blocking of Wikipedia in mainland China and arguably the Muhammad cartoons controversy attest. As Wikipedia expands internationally, do you foresee Wikipedia becoming increasingly controversial in countries where “Western values” are seen as a potential threat?”

JW: I don’t think that neutrality and objectivity are really controversial among most people of the world. It is true that the leadership in some places does not value these things, and may actually work against these things, but we can not deviate from our goals to accommodate them.

WN: On a similar topic, Vsion asks: “Are there currently any efforts being undertaken by the Foundation to address the People’s Republic of China’s blocking of Wikipedia or to alleviate its effect?”

JW: Beijing-area Wikipedians are working to have the block lifted. Our position is that the block is in error, even given China’s normal policies. Wikipedia is not propaganda, it is basic information. We expect that the block will be lifted.

WN: David.Monniaux asks: “The Foundation receives daily accusations of libel from semi-well-known people who have an entry on Wikipedia or are mentioned in some Wikipedia entry. What do you propose? Would a strict application of the rule of citing controversial claims suffice, in your opinion?”

JW: Yes. I think that our current systems do a good job of addressing these sorts of complaints, although it is very time-consuming for us here in the office. What really works wonders is a very strict application of the rule of citing controversial claims particularly relating to biographies of living persons. The new policy on biographies of living persons is a very strong step in the right direction.

WN: Tony Sidaway asks: “In the past six weeks the number of userboxes on English Wikipedia has risen from 3500 to 6000 and, despite your appeals for restraint, the number pertaining to political beliefs has risen from 45 to 150. Can the problem of unsuitable userboxes still be resolved by debate?”

JW: My only comment on the userbox situation is that the current situation is not acceptable.

WN: Larsinio asks: “How can Wikipedia effectively explain to the public its open-contribution model without simultaneously worrying the public about inaccurate information?”

JW: I think we do a reasonably good job of that. The best thing is to point to our overall quality while at the same time pointing out that we are currently a work in progress. Over time, this answer will change as we move toward ‘1.0’. At that time, we can point to ‘1.0’ for those who are made nervous by the live editing.

WN: Rob Church asks: “Do you consider the encyclopedia to be ‘finished’? Do you think it ever can be?”

JW: Nothing is ever finished. Human knowledge is always growing.

WN: Raul654 and Pavel Vozenilek both asked, “What kind of cool new features/announcements can we expect to see in the next year or two?”

JW: I think this question is too hard for me to answer. I almost never “announce” anything, and features are developed publicly by the community. I think other people have a better idea than I do what will happen in the next year or two. 🙂 Ask Brion [Vibber].

WN: Celestianpower asks: “If you had not founded Wikipedia, and had just been referred to it by a friend, how active a contributor do you think you would be?”

JW: [I] dream fondly of such a scenario. I might actually get to edit articles then. Instead of spend the morning (this morning) documenting transactions and taking phone calls.

WN: OpenToppedBus asks: “The last fundraising drive was less successful than had been anticipated. Do you see a shortage of money holding back Wikipedia/Wikimedia in the short-to-medium-term, and are there any plans to bring in income from sources other than individual donations?”

JW: The last fundraising drive was more successful than had been anticipated, by a long shot. It was the most successful fund drive in our history. [Regarding a quoted goal of $500,000], Mav wrote something like that somewhere, in a scratchpad kind of way. That number was just a placeholder and had nothing to do with me or the official view of the foundation. He’s apologized repeatedly for it.

WN: Thryduulf asks: “What is your single greatest wish for Wikipedia?”

JW: I would have to just point back to our original goal: a freely licensed high quality encyclopedia for every single person on the planet. That’s what I remain focused on daily.

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

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Nov
17

Melbourne – Adelaide train services disrupted into next week following fatal crash">
Melbourne – Adelaide train services disrupted into next week following fatal crash

Friday, May 26, 2006

Rail services between Melbourne and Adelaide in Australia are expected to be disrupted until early next week following a fatal crash between a truck and freight train in Lismore, Victoria 170 Km (105 miles) South-West of Melbourne.

The B-Double truck hit the side of a 1,375 metre long freight train at a level crossing at 7:13 a.m. AEST on Thursday in heavy fog, derailing two locomotives and 44 goods wagons. Victorian police said that the truck had been wedged beneath the wreckage of the train.

The driver of the truck, thought to be a 34-year-old man from Wedderburn in Victoria’s North-West died in the crash. The train driver and an observer escaped uninjured. Police said it could take a number of days to retrieve the truck driver’s body. “It could possibly take days to retrieve the body” a Victorian police spokesperson said.

Great Southern Railways, which operates “The Overland” passenger train service between Melbourne and Adelaide said it expected rail services to be disrupted up until early next week. The company will transfer passengers to bus services or allow them to claim a full refund.

The crash will also disrupt freight services between Melbourne and Adelaide.

Local residents and the Victorian opposition are blaming the crash on the level crossing itself, which has no booms, lights or bells.

Rob Dennis, a local resident said the level crossing is the cause of the crash, as it is not fitted with boom gates or flashing lights.

“And it’s a blind turn for anything in a large vehicle,” he said.

Terry Mulder, the opposition’s transport spokesperson said the Bracks Government should have spent part of the $750 million allocated to fast rail projects to upgrading level crossings in Victoria.

“The State Labor Government has wasted $750 million on fast rail projects,” Mr Mulder said.

Mr Mulder said that Victoria has 2,274 level crossings, 1,468 which have no warning systems in place.

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Nov
17

Costa joins Juventus FC on one-year loan">
Costa joins Juventus FC on one-year loan

Saturday, July 15, 2017

On Wednesday, Italian football club Juventus announced an agreement with German club Bayern Munich for a one-year loan of Brazilian winger Douglas Costa for a fee of €6 million, to run until June 30, 2018.

26-year-old Douglas Costa joined Bayern in 2015 under Pep Guardiola’s management from Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk. In two seasons at the Allianz Arena, Costa has scored fourteen goals and provided 27 assists, making 77 appearances in total. He won two consecutive Bundesliga titles, a DFB Pokal, and a DFL-Supercup. Before joining the Bavarian club, the left-footed winger won five consecutive Ukrainian Premier League trophies.

In the agreement with Bayern, Juventus can exercise an option to buy the player for €40 million before July 1, 2018. Bayern may receive an additional €1 million subject to conditions in the contract. Bayern Munich’s chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said, “We had serious and constructive talks with Juventus’ representatives. All of FC Bayern’s financial demands have been met”.

Upon asking why he joined Juventus, Costa told the Juventus’ interviewer that he “had always dreamed of playing” with the Old Lady and said he was “delighted to be part of” Juventus’ team.

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Nov
16

Explosion in Turkey kills seventeen">
Explosion in Turkey kills seventeen

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Reuters, AFP, the Associated Press are reporting that a gas explosion in a Turkish school killed at least seventeen girls Friday.

Reuters reports the initial death toll at sixteen, with 27 injured. The number of deaths later rose to 17 when a body was removed from the rubble. Two survivors were pulled from the rubble as rescuers worked into the night. One girl is still missing.

“We won’t stop until we find her,” village mayor Mehmet Demirgul, told the Associated Press.

About fifty students and teachers were in the school, where some had gathered on for Islamic study in the three-story structure in the village of Balcilar, near Taskent in the Konya province .

Merve Avci, a 13-year-old, slightly injured student spoke to the Anatolian news agency: “I was in the part of the building which didn’t collapse with five of my friends immediately after the explosion, and we felt flames rising from the downstairs to upper floors.”

Anatolian says that Avci was in the process of washing before pre-dawn prayers, when a noise in the building’s kitchen led Avci and some teacher to investigate. She says she saw a loose gas pipe before being ordered back to her room. She says she smelled gas coming from somewhere above her room before the explosion.

“We think the collapse was caused by a gas canister explosion in the building, given the burns on the injured,” Konya province health service official Galip Sef told Reuters.

Mayor Demirgul said a leak in a pipe carrying liquefied petroleum gas is the probable cause of the pre-dawn blast.

“We are hearing voices. I believe those inside the rubble will be saved,” Demirgul told reporters, according to the Associated Press and Reuters.

The Associated Press reports that a small portion of all three stories of the building were left standing. This is confirmed by images displayed on the Reuters website.

The building is owned by a religion foundation and is under investigation when Turkish authorities found an non-approved annex to the structure, according to AFP.

The explosion is unrelated to the bomb blast in northern Turkey on July 28.

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Nov
16

Wikinews interviews Jim Babka, chair of Libertarian organization Downsize DC">
Wikinews interviews Jim Babka, chair of Libertarian organization Downsize DC

Thursday, April 3, 2008

A reporter from Wikinews recently interviewed Jim Babka, chair of Libertarian organization Downsize DC. The organization claims to have arranged for 22,158 people to send a message regarding the “American Freedom Agenda Act” proposed by Ron Paul, in addition to supporting many other laws. The full text of the interview can be found below.

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Nov
15

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

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”?

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?
((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?
((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).
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?

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?
((WN)) What do you believe is their reasoning in selecting you as a ‘target’?
((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?
((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?
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’?
((WN)) How do you think the Icelandic government would have reacted if it were tens of thousands of their diplomatic communications being leaked?
((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?
((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?
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?
((WN)) Does this make you more, or less, determined to see the IMMI succeed?

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

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

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

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

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

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Nov
15

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The concept of payday loans means the loan that a person gets against his next pay check. The amount of the loan is usually small and the tenure of it too is for a short period of time. There may be many ways to go about this but in all cases; customers are more or less restricted by the amount of salary that they get. In some cases it is even know as a cash advance.

The people who usually take these loans are those who are in the need of financing short term bulk finances and waiting for their salaries would result in losing the opportunity of making the purchase of whatever it may pertain to. This is just a way of transferring the source of the money to another dealer who does so in exchange for a security, which in this case is the salary that he or she is due to get.

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Financial institutions however are aware that people who come for this facility need the money urgently and thus they try to exploit this need. So the best thing to do in this regard is to compare payday loans that are available from different sources so that the best option is availed. The best payday loan can be gotten from the source which one is usually associated with often and the chances of risk in this case are said to be at a minimum.

In order to have decent idea as to how the whole market for this operates, it is essential for the people to try and enable a way by which they can view

payday loans review

where people actually share their opinions regarding the services that they have availed from various departments and how they would suggest other people go about getting their loans.

In most cases, the state of urgency makes people try and avail the loan from the fastest source, but more often than not, the faster ones tend to have the loopholes in their terms and conditions which of course comes to light later. The whole objective of this exercise is to avail a fast loan which is small in size and short term when it comes to maturity. A little bit of research and scouting around will probably yield a result of the best service providers and how they will be able to avail services without a glitch. The sector for payday loans is a thriving one.

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Nov
15

Closure of Guantánamo prison will take longer than expected">
Closure of Guantánamo prison will take longer than expected

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The New York Times said on Wednesday that the Obama administration may not be able to close the United States military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba and transfer terrorism suspects held there until 2011 at the earliest.

The administration announced plans last week to acquire an under-utilized state prison in the Midwest state of Illinois to house up to 100 Guantánamo detainees. However, The Times says the United States Bureau of Prisons does not have enough money to pay the state for the facility, which would cost about $150 million.

The report says the White House approached lawmakers on the United States House of Representatives Appropriations Committee several weeks ago about adding $200 million to the 2010 military spending bill for the project. Democratic leaders refused, defeating the request due to the project’s controversial nature.

The administration wants to buy the prison as part of efforts to fulfill President Obama’s order to close Guantánamo Bay. The president has acknowledged that the January 2010 deadline for closing the prison will not be met. The plan to close the prison and house the terror suspects in the U.S. has been met with fierce opposition by some members of Congress. Republicans say the closure of the prison and moving of inmates to American soil will make the country a greater target for terrorists.

The White House contends that the current prison at Guantánamo has become a terrorist recruiting symbol. It also pointed out that it would save taxpayers money as the Department of Defense currently pays $150 million to run the Guantánamo prison, while it will only cost $75 million to run the prison in Illinois.

However, some moderate Democrats have also raised concerns, Representative Loretta Sanchez, Democrat from California cited security concerns saying “[p]articularly making something on U.S. soil an attraction for Al Qaeda and terrorists to go after — inciting them to attack something on U.S. soil — that’s a problem, and we need to think it through.”

Senator Jim Webb, a Democrat from Virginia recently stated that suspects of terrorism “[d]o not belong in our country, they do not belong in our courts, and they do not belong in our prisons.”

Guantánamo, which now has some 200 inmates, has been harshly criticized by human rights advocates for the alleged abuse and mistreatment of detainees.

The Times says the Obama administration will not have another opportunity to secure funding for the Thomson Correctional Center until Congress takes up a supplemental appropriations bill for the war in Afghanistan. The bill is expected to be finished in March or April.

However, the newspaper says the administration is more focused on securing funding for the Illinois facility in appropriations bills for the 2011 fiscal year, which will not be debated until late 2010. Officials told the Times it could take eight to 10 months to install new fencing, towers, cameras and other security upgrades to the Thomson Correctional Center before any transfers take place.

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Nov
15

One in five Americans finds socialism superior, poll says">
One in five Americans finds socialism superior, poll says

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Twenty percent of the American public believes that socialism is superior to capitalism, says a poll by Rasmussen Reports released on Thursday, April 9.

Asked the question “Which is a better system – capitalism or socialism?”, 53% of those polled found capitalism the better system, 20% preferred socialism, and 27% were unsure. The survey did not define either capitalism or socialism, but Rasmussen also cites a December 2008 result saying that 15% of Americans prefer a government-managed economy.

Analysis of the poll’s data by website FiveThirtyEight.com furthermore found that support for capitalism was closely correlated with income; respondents earning under $20,000 a year having an eight percentage point preference for capitalism, while those earning more than $100,000 a year expressed a fifty-seven percentage point preference for capitalism. Rasmussen noted that socialism had much broader support among people under 30, where 33% support socialism and 37% support capitalism, than among any other age group.

Socialism has found support in several countries, with member parties of the Socialist International in government in over 50 countries around the world and with several other regimes describing themselves as socialist or communist; the 20% result Rasmussen finds is comparable to the electoral support for the New Democratic Party in Canada. Support for an independent socialist movement in the United States, however, has historically been limited. Socialist candidate Eugene V. Debs won 6.1% of the popular vote in 1912, and two members of the Socialist Party, Victor L. Berger and Meyer London, were elected to the United States Congress before the Great Depression. This brief flirtation with socialism is contrasted against the times during and following the First World War and Second World War, which were marked by “Red scares” — periods of pronounced anti-communism — in the United States.

Currently, only a single member of the United States Congress describes himself as a socialist: Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. The Social Democrats USA (SD USA), one of the successors of the Socialist Party of America, has expressed solidarity with the 76-member Congressional Progressive Caucus, which Sanders founded in 1991. It supports positions such as a living wage, universal health care, and the right of workers to form trade unions and engage in collective bargaining.

SD USA executive director Gabriel McClosky-Ross offered Wikinews an exclusive statement on the Rasmussen poll result:

I joined the Socialist Party, USA in 1972, when I was 16. That was seven months before the name change to Social Democrats, USA. I was a subscriber to the Party’s publication, New America for four years by that point. I grew up in a Catholic working class neighborhood. Many of my neighbors read the Catholic Worker. However, I would not meet another self described social democrat or democratic socialist who was close to my age until I completed college and entered the seminary when I was 21. That was not for a lack of my attempts at persuasion. Now when I speak on behalf of the Social Democrats, I meet many people who call themselves socialists or they are considering doing so.

Two things have changed. First, Stalinism in the Soviet Union finally and thankfully collapsed and The Peoples’ Republic of China is a transparently “state capitalist” regime. Second, the propaganda machine that equated private ownership of productive property with democracy is spurting under onslaught of facts that indicate just the opposite. There were two presidential elections in a row were[sic] the count look[sic] fishy and the money trail lead to the top of Republican Party. Then the banks collapsed and it was apparent that the largest financial institutions in the world were involved in sub-prime mortgage ponzi schemes.

I am not sure whether to celebrate or lament becoming an economist and union organizer instead of a priest given the current crisis. As my mentor, Michael Harrington, was fond of saying there are many kinds of socialism. Stalin, Hitler, and Mao, history’s three greatest mass murderers, all called themselves socialists. Hopefully, America is ready for a broad social democratic movement that works with trade unions and community organizations for national health care, re-industrialization, ecologically friendly mass transit, infrastructure repair, and eventually a democratization of our economy. Building such a movement will be very hard work. The cyber-world has many benefits, but people seemed to be convinced that social change can occur by email. It is great shame, that it takes 8.2% unemployment and massive economic dislocation to push people back to real time organizing and protest.

Simply that people are angry is not enough. The Bolsheviks, Fascists, and Nazis all road[sic] waves of mass discontent to power. A peoples’ movement must be militantly democratic and refuse to make common cause with even the ‘mildest and friendliest totalitarians.’ A truly democratic movement for social democracy must transcend the narrow special interest group politics that has made up most of political discourse since the protests against the Vietnam War. To transcend the current economic crisis we need a full employment economy and that means a movement concentrated on ‘red letter’ social democratic issues of democratic worker and community control of industry.

While support for socialism in the United States may be growing, Rasmussen’s polling finds that absolute majorities of the American public support both capitalism and free markets. Meanwhile, anti-communist sentiment remains strong in many segments of the US population, with opposition to socialism being a defining feature of Conservatism in the United States.

In an exclusive statement to Wikinews, John F. McManus, President of the anti-socialist John Birch Society, offered the John Birch Society’s position on the poll result:

If 20 percent of the American people prefer socialism, it is likely that half believe it has more to do with sociability that it has to do with an economic system that places government in control of their lives. Ask these 20 percent what socialism truly is and the response will rarely point to the great hero of all socialists, Karl Marx.

The John Birch Society believes that everyone is a capitalist. If one starts out defining capital as the means of production (which is its definition), then everyone — from the primitive fisherman to the corporate executive — uses capital and is a capitalist.

The distinction that most don’t make is who owns and controls the capital. Does each individual have the right to own his means of production — even a fishing pole? Or does the government own and/or control all the means of production?

When each individual has the right to own capital (property), there is freedom — up to the point where no one is permitted to impede someone else’s similar right. Where socialism reigns, the government dominates, either completely a la communism or essentially a la fascism (Nazi-style or Mussolini-style).

Most Americans are victims of an absolutely horrible educational system. Too many have been persuaded that government should take care of them. We tell such fools that, if that’s what they want, they should turn themselves in at the local prison where they will be cared for 24 hours a day. We ask them to stop advocating converting our entire nation into what effectively will be a coast-to-coast prison.

The proper role of government can never be more than the protection of the lives, liberty and property of the people who pay for it. The improper role of government is to take care of the people — which it always does poorly and does so almost always as a grab for power rather than a supposedly noble concern for the downtrodden.

Americans currently most often cite the economy as their number one concern in polls, ahead of terrorism. In December 2008, workers at the Republic Windows and Doors factory in Chicago staged a union-backed factory occupation in a fight against company management — a return to tactics of direct action from the historically more subdued American organized labor movement.

On April 10 2009, Alabama representative Spencer Bachus (R-Alabama) told the Birmingham News that seventeen members of the US House of Representatives are socialists. He did not specify which members.

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