December 12, 2018

International Paralympic Committee holds first press conference

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

London, England — Yesterday, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) held their first formal press conference as part of the 2012 Summer Paralympics. Approximately 60 media representatives attended and had the opportunity to ask questions of Craig Spence, IPC President Philip Craven, Chairman of the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralymic Games (LOCOG) Sebastian Coe, and LOCOG Director of Communications and Public Affairs Jackie Brock-Doyle following a short speech on the history of the Paralympic Games.

The reporters asked a variety of questions. A British journalist asked about having ATOS as a sponsor given the negative history the business has had with disability services in the country. The IPC responded by saying this is an issue that should be taken up by the relevant British government agency.

A Wikinews reporter asked if the high cost of technology for participating in disability sport at the elite level would leave Oceania, Asia, and Africa behind. Craven said historically, the IPC has worked on increasing disability sport participation; they were now working on changing that to developing disability sport around the world. He highlighted efforts by the IPC to bring down the cost of wheelchairs and prostheses as these are sporting equipment for participation in disability sport. He also said they had donated 4,000 wheelchairs to help spread disability sport.

A Canadian journalist from the Vancouver Sun asked about the lack of substantial coverage of the Games in North America. Craven responded by saying he was disappointed by United States coverage and the IPC has been aware of the problem for years. He contrasted the situation in the United States with France, where the public successfully put pressure on the rights-holding network to improve the coverage of the Games.

Another reporter asked about Paralympic social media usage during the Games. Craven responded that while not a big user of it himself, the IPC embraced social media. Spence said the IPC encouraged everyone involved to use it; 47 Paralympians have video blogs, and the Opening Ceremonies will be covered while they happen.

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Memorial for toddler who died under care of controversial ‘1 Mind Ministries’ group

Saturday, August 30, 2008

A memorial service was held Friday for Javon Thompson, a toddler that died in Baltimore, Maryland, while under the care of a religious group called “1 Mind Ministries”. Thompson died in late 2006 or early 2007 in an apartment in West Baltimore. According to police statements, members of 1 Mind Ministries refused the boy food and water because he did not say “amen” after group meals. Police say the boy would have been about 19 months old when members of the group stopped feeding him in December 2006.

I loved this baby more than anything in my life.

The Baltimore Sun spoke with Seeta Khadan-Newton, Javon Thompson’s grandmother, at the funeral service which took place at March Funeral Homes in Northwest Baltimore. “I loved this baby more than anything in my life,” she said.

The Baltimore Sun reported that Khadan–Newton told them she had contacted Baltimore’s Division of Social Services at least four times between April and December of 2006 out of worries for Thompson’s wellbeing and location. DSS officials stated that they received only two phone calls, and the complaints about Thompson’s treatment were not enough to look into further.

WJZ-TV reported that “Queen Antoinette”, the 40-year-old leader of 1 Mind Ministries, allegedly concealed Javon Thompson’s body in a blanket and sprayed it with fabric softener to mask the odor before having a member of the group leave the body in a friend’s backyard shed in Philadelphia. According to police, members of 1 Mind Ministries placed Thompson’s remains in a suitcase and took it to Philadelphia in February 2007, where they left it with an elderly friend. Subsequently members of the group moved to Brooklyn, New York. Law enforcement authorities found the suitcase with Thompson’s remains in April 2008.

Ria Ramkissoon, 21, Thompson’s mother, and four others, have been charged with first-degree murder by Baltimore homicide detectives in connection with the boy’s death. The Associated Press reported that police charging documents state that Queen Antoinette instructed her followers to pray for Javon Thompson to be resurrected while he lay dead in the back room of the Baltimore apartment. An informant told police Queen Antoinette left Javon Thompson’s body in the back room of the apartment for over a week, and told her followers: “God was going to raise Javon from the dead”.

The members of this cult, who were more than twice her age, were calling the shots.

Ramkissoon’s mother and her attorney assert that she was brainwashed by the 1 Mind Ministries group and acted under the control of Queen Antoinette. “The members of this cult, who were more than twice her age, were calling the shots,” said Ramkissoon’s attorney Steven Silverman at a court hearing for his client. Inside the group, Ria Ramkissoon referred to herself as “Princess Marie”.

Court documents revealed that 1 Mind Ministries conducted operations in secret, did not believe in medical care and dressed in all-white clothing. Members of the group were referred to as “princes” and “princesses” by Queen Antoinette, also known as Toni Sloan or Toni Ellsberry. Documents also state that they viewed Javon Thompson as a “demon” for not saying “amen” after meals, that they stopped feeding him in December 2006, and did not seek out medical attention when the boy stopped breathing and died.

It fits the profile of a classic cult…

Rick A. Ross of The Ross Institute Internet Archives for the Study of Destructive Cults, Controversial Groups and Movements spoke with the Associated Press about the nature of the 1 Mind Ministries group, and asserted that it meets the definition of a “cult“. Ross has given expert testimony in cases related to controversial groups and has studied them for 26 years. Law enforcement officials also used the term to describe the 1 Mind Ministries group, specifically characterizing it as a “Christian fundamentalist cult”.

“It fits the profile of a classic cult in the sense that it’s a personality-driven group and that Queen Antoinette is that animating personality and central defining element of the group,” said Ross. He compared the group to others where children were killed because they did not follow the instructions of the group. The Ross Institute Internet Archives maintains a page about 1 Mind Ministries, which contains archived news articles, a photo of Queen Antoinette, and links to other resources.

Prosecutors in the murder case have also referred to the 1 Mind Ministries group as a “cult”, and said that members of the group would likely follow Queen Antoinette’s instructions during the trial. In a hearing August 13 where Queen Antoinette and group member Trevia Williams, 21, were denied bail, they both also refused legal representation from Baltimore public defenders, and both declined a preliminary hearing. “Chances are, the cult members are going to do what she tells them to do,” said Baltimore Assistant State’s Attorney David C. Chiu at the court proceeding. Ria Ramkissoon is being held in the psychiatric unit of a city jail in Baltimore, Queen Antoinette, Trevia Williams and group member Marcus Cobbs are also being held in jail in Baltimore, and federal officials in New York from the United States Marshals Service are searching for another member of the group.

This baby died so that they could be exposed.

Rev. Anna V. Nelson spoke to the family at the memorial service in Baltimore, saying: “I would like to think that this boy died for us. This baby has left a message here for the whole world. This baby died so that they [1 Mind Ministries] could be exposed.”

The memorial service ended with a presentation of video clips of Javon Thompson playing, being held by his mother, and finally watching the camera as a female voice says goodbye to him.

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Wikinews Shorts: August 8, 2009

A compilation of brief news reports for Saturday, August 8, 2009.

Contents

  • 1 Leader of Pakistan Taliban may have been killed in drone attack
  • 2 Hillary Clinton arrives in South Africa
  • 3 Anniversary of Georgian War marked by mutual accusations
  • 4 Police in the United Kingdom ordered to review policing of demonstrations
  • 5 Son of missing Japanese actress Noriko Sakai found safe
  • 6 Seven coalition troops killed within 24 hour period in Afghanistan
  • 7 Hong Kong government to begin school drug testing trials in December
  • 8 Nine killed in Belgium care home fire
  • 9 India and China resume border talks
  • 10 President Kennedy’s sister Eunice Kennedy in critical condition at hospital
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Guest Blogging: Strategies To Build Effective Links}

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Submitted by: Infinista Concepts

When it comes to SEO strategies most marketing specialist will stress the importance of link building, especially through guest blogging that allows you to post back links to your website. However, Matt Cutts of Google recently said that guest blogging should be reduced as most of it was spammy. While there is a lot of merit in what Cutts has said, guest blogging can still be effective for building links and increasing search engine rankings if done effectively.

Post Only on Authoritative Sites

When you are considering a guest blogging strategy more is not always good. Instead, research the websites or blogs that you want to contribute to and post only on authoritative sites. You can use specific tools such as Open Site Explorer to assess the authority of a site as well as the authority ranking of your own site. Use this measure to determine which blog sites will receive guest posts from you.

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Post Content Only from Select Sources

Similarly, you need to ensure that your site is not the recipient of spammy blog posts. Instead, agree to post content only from sources personally known to you, your customers or vendors, and authority figures in the specific field you are dealing with. Even so, you need to vet each guest post to ensure that it is original content that will be of use to your readership, does not have spammy back links, and is well written and free from grammatical or spelling errors. Essentially, this means that the quality of the content needs to be high whether you are writing guest posts or accepting them.

Authoritative, Sharable Content

When you are creating guest blog posts you need to ensure that you are providing authoritative, sharable content. More than just generating back links, each blog post should add value to the reader and provide engaging information that they will feel like sharing. This is what will increase exposure and build the brand. Ensure that each guest blog post has some original content that sets you up as an authority in the field. In other words, you should come across as a provider of innovative ideas and leadership in the field.

Reserve the Best for Your Blog

While it is important to ensure that guest blog posts capture the attention of the new readers and brings traffic to your website, you need to ensure that the best content and most innovative ideas are reserved for your own blog site. This is what will help you retain your readership base and increase it as your readers share the blog posts using social media and other methods. While you need to ensure that guest blog posts pique the interest of the new readers, you need to keep in mind that it is a much better marketing strategy to ensure that your existing readership base stays connected with you. The quality of content in your website or blog is the key to this and should, therefore, be your priority.

About the Author: Infinista Concepts is a super creative new age digital agency, we are headquartered at the US but our clientele is spread all over the globe. We indulge into services like Web Design, Web Development, SEO, SMM, Content Marketing. All we can say is we are a one stop shop for all your online needs.

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Several groups seek to purchase Saturn auto brand

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Penske Automotive Group, Inc., an Ohio-based investment group and Telesto Ventures have indicated separately that they are interested in purchasing the Saturn auto brand from General Motors (GM).

According to The Wall Street Journal, Nissan-Renault is interested in purchasing Saturn. Bloomberg, however, indicated that Nissan-Renault may be a partner of Penske’s potential bid. If Penske acquired the brand, they would distribute Saturn vehicles and outsource the assembly.

GM revealed that the Saturn brand along with Saab and Hummer were up for sale when unveiling their restructuring plans to Congress for governmental loans. While the Pontiac brand was originally to be a niche brand, GM had changed their plans recently and decided to eliminate the brand.

Telesto Ventures is an investment group that includes private equity firm Black Oak Partners LLC of Oklahoma City and several Saturn dealerships. Initially, Telesto will purchase Saturn branded cars from GM then act as a general retailer for foreign brands. Telesto is in talks with several foreign manufacturers.

The Ohio group includes many former senior auto company managers plus private financial backers, chemists and engineers who live in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Florida. This group plans to initially purchase cars from GM then purchase existing but closed plants due to automaker restructuring. Additionally, one of the partners indicated a willingness to accept some “legacy” cost in relation to the United Auto Workers. The Ohio group is also pursuing possible loans or other support from national and state governments.

GM is reviewing several offers for Saturn. GM has contracted with S.J. Girsky & Co. to advise them on the sale.

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December 11, 2018

Messi makes new record as Barça beats Real Madrid 3-2 in LaLiga

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

On Sunday, in Spanish LaLiga’s El Clásico clash, FC Barcelona defeated Real Madrid 3–2, with Lionel Messi scoring two goals at the Santiago Bernabéu stadium. Messi scored his 500th goal in the Catalonian colours, in the ending moments of the game, becoming the top scorer of the El Clásico in the league with sixteen goals surpassing Alfredo Di Stéfano’s fourteen.

Messi was left on the ground, bleeding after Marcelo’s elbow hit his face in a clash. The Argentine was taken off-pitch, and later continued the game with a tissue paper in his mouth to stop bleeding. Just before the thirty minute mark, Los Blancos captain Sergio Ramos hit the woodwork from Marcelo’s freekick, but the deflection was converted into a 1–0 lead by Casemiro. Five minutes later, Messi levelled for Barcelona dribbling against two Madrid defenders from Rakiti?’s assist.

Messi had not scored in the last six Clásicos. In the 39th minute, Welsh forward Gareth Bale, who became the third Briton to reach 100 appearances landmark in La Liga, was substituted following an injury. Marco Asensio replaced the Briton. Bale was out for the last two matches due to injury. David Beckham and Gary Lineker, former forwards of Madrid and Barcelona respectively, previously made over 100 appearances in La Liga. At half time, Madrid had six attempts on target, as compared to Barça’s one.

Madrid striker Karim Benzema missed a chance to score in the 52nd minute when Barcelona’s shot-stopper Marc-André ter Stegen played a goal kick to Benzema. A minute later, ter Stegen stopped Benzema’s six yard header from finding the nets. Ronaldo missed a chance to put Madrid in front in the 67th minute from Asensio’s assist. Minutes later, Casemiro was subbed off for Mateo Kova?i?. Barcelona brought on André Gomes for Paco Alcácer. Casemiro was booked early in the match for bringing down Messi. He later fouled the Argentine in the 45th minute, but got away without receiving a second yellow.

Minutes later Toni Kroos lost mark of Rakiti? as the Croatian faked a shot and scored a 20-yard goal from his left foot, putting the Blaugrana in the lead. In the 77th minute, Ramos was shown a straight red card for bringing down Messi. Barça defender Gerard Piqué missed a chance to make it 3–1 from Gomes’ pass. James Rodríguez was brought on for Benzema, and four minutes later, the Colombian scored from Marcelo’s assist.

With only two minutes added for the injury time, Sergi Roberto’s run from Barcelona’s half was later converted to the match winning goal by Messi from Jordi Alba’s assist scoring his 23rd goal in El Clásico. ter Stegen made twelve saves in the entire match, the most in the league since 2003–2004. Messi was booked for removing his jersey celebrating his 500th goal for Barcelona. He leads the race for the Spanish Golden Boot — Pichichi Trophy — which he last won in 2013.

After the match, Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane said, “We can not be happy. We made a lot [of chances] during the whole game. We had many goalscoring chances, but couldn’t bring the game under control. When you don’t kill the game off, this can happen, and it did. We are disappointed with the result, when you get back to 2-2 with 10 men you have to think a little more and defend together.” ((es))Spanish language: ?No podemos estar contentos. Hicimos mucho, durante todo el partido. Tuvimos muchas ocasiones de gol, para llevar el partido a nuestro lado. Cuando tú no matas el partido puede pasar esto y pasó. Estamos decepcionados con el resultado. Cuando logras el 2-2 con diez hay que tener un poco más de cabeza y estar juntos para defender

The Court of Arbitration for Sports turned down Barcelona’s appeal to play Neymar for El Clásico, who received a three-match ban after sarcastically applauding an official after a red card against Málaga CF in a previous La Liga match. Luis Enrique said, “I am prepared to play the match with Neymar or without him. You will have to wait for the game to see if I risk putting him.” ((es))Spanish language: ?Estoy preparado para jugar el partido con Neymar o sin él. Tendréis que esperar al partido para ver si me arriesgo a ponerlo.


April 23, 2017
Real Madrid 2 –3 FC Barcelona Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid Attendance: 81,044 Referee: Alejandro José Hernández Hernández
Casemiro 28’James Rodríguez 86’Sergio Ramos  77’Casemiro 12’Gareth Bale 39’Marco Asensio 39’Casemiro 70’Mateo Kova?i? 70’Karim Benzema 82’James Rodríguez 82′ 1–1 (HT) Lionel Messi 33’Ivan Rakiti? 73’Lionel Messi 90 + 2’Samuel Umtiti 39’Lionel Messi 90 + 2’Paco Alcácer 70’André Gomes 70′

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

Thursday, April 7, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

((WN)) How did you feel when you were notified the US Government wanted your Twitter account, and message, details? Were you shocked?
  • Birgitta Jonsdottir: I felt angry but not shocked. I was expecting something like this to happen because of my involvement with WikiLeaks. My first reaction was to tweet about it.
((WN)) What do you believe is their reasoning in selecting you as a ‘target’?
  • Jonsdottir: It is quite clear to me that USA authorities are after Julian Assange and will use any means possible to get even with him. I think I am simply a pawn in a much larger context. I did of course both act as a spokesperson for WikiLeaks in relation to the Apache video and briefly for WikiLeaks, and I put my name to the video as a co-producer. I have not participated in any illegal activity and thus being a target doesn’t make me lose any sleep.
((WN)) Are you concerned that, as a Member of Parliament involved in the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (IMMI), the US attempt to obtain your Twitter data is interfering with planned Icelandic government policy?
  • Jonsdottir: No
((WN)) In an earlier New York Times (NYT) article, you’re indicating there is nothing they can obtain about you that bothers you; but, how do you react to them wanting to know everyone you talk to?
  • Jonsdottir: It bothers me and according to top computer scientists the government should be required to obtain a search warrant to get our IP addresses from Twitter. I am, though, happy I am among the people DOJ is casting their nets around because of my parliamentary immunity; I have a greater protection then many other users and can use that immunity to raise the issue of lack of rights for those that use social media.
HAVE YOUR SAY
Do you believe the U.S. government should have the right to access data on foreign nationals using services such as Twitter?
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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.

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December 10, 2018

Calls for corporate tax reform in Australia goes unheeded

Friday, May 12, 2006

Peter Costello’s budget announcement has led to rejoicing for small businesses, but the lack of joy for those pushing for radical corporate taxation reform has led to many businesses asking “what about us?”

Personal taxation and small business have been the big winners after this year’s federal budget. Although dampened by the twin economic threats of rising interest rates and petrol prices, there should be a reasonable amount of real income savings for both low and high income earners, with those receiving Medicare, or a superannuation benefit, privy to an even lower level of taxation (0% for those on super benefits).

Small business also has benefited from the Howard government’s 11th annual budget, with them receiving a higher level of reducing depreciation, leading to a higher level of deductions in the years following the uptake of new technology or other capital. They are also privy to a AU$435 million dollar tax cut to compensate for their changing accounting requirements under the government’s new AIFRS reporting standards, as well as increasing the uptake of both the small business tax relief scheme and CGT (Capital Gains tax) Concessions.

The budget was not a complete loss for big business however, as superannuation laws have been tweaked to streamline contribution and payment rules previously impeding those with multitudes of staff.

But this is not enough, says Big 4 accounting firm Ernst & Young. In their newly published paper “Taxation of Investment in Australia: the need for ongoing reform”. In it they lead the charge for a greater streamlining and organization of the corporate tax system in Australia, submitting that it will lead to reductions in “disincentives to work save and invest in Australia [as well as improving] the international competitiveness of Australian businesses.” This follows from a recent report brought out by Mr. Costello himself about the need for tax reform in Australia.

A budget night Mr. Costello was notably coy about any future reform of corporate tax in Australia. He alluded to the report by his ministers but kept from outlining the government’s plan precisely.

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Wikinews interviews Chilean Paralympic skier Jorge Migueles

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Recently, Wikinews spent time with with Chilean Paralympic skier Jorge Migueles who was in Copper Mountain, Colorado for the IPC Nor-Am Cup.

((Wikinews)) I’m interviewing Jorge Migueles, he is here from Chile. And you’re from Santiago.

Jorge Migueles: Yes, from Santiago.

((WN)) What you’re what classification?

Jorge Migueles: LW4, I have a prosthetic I ski with, special for skiing, I have an amputation below the knee.

((WN)) When people think of skiing, they don’t automatically think Chile as a great place for skiers, and developing skiers. How did the skier [Jorge Migueles] from Chile become a skier?

Jorge Migueles: Yes it is a good place because all the big teams — USA, Austria, Canada — go for training there and they go […] in September because the snow is very hard for training, very icy, and it is very close to Santiago, to the airport, it is more easy for the logistics for the team.

((WN)) I take it that you really like skiing?

Jorge Migueles: Yeah.

((WN)) Do you do any other sports?

Jorge Migueles: Yes, I competed in triathlon, but only for a hobby. I got training in Santiago before to come here, to ski[?] here and one, two months in Europe.

((WN)) So the triathlon helps you with your skiing?

Jorge Migueles: Yeah.

((WN)) I take it your taking to go to Sochi?

Jorge Migueles: Yeah, I try.

((WN)) Has your country [Chile] won any Paralympic medals in the winter games?

Jorge Migueles: No, never, neither[?] olympic nor paralympic.

((WN)) So you want to be the first winter Paralympian medal from your country?

Jorge Migueles: I try that. Very difficult.

((WN)) Do you get government support for the winter Paralympic side?

Jorge Migueles: Not yet, but I try and get support from the government because in Chile all the sport in the summer in Santiago 2014 is all the sport in the summer is all they reimburse[?], the monies go there, in the winter it’s more difficult. But I try that.

((WN)) Is winter sport popular in Chile?

Jorge Migueles: Yeah, it’s popular, but it’s very expensive to practice skiing or snowboard.

((WN)) The only other major news story that people know about in Chile is the earthquake, that didn’t impact you that much you at all?

Jorge Migueles: Yes, a lot, because when […] had to stay here in United States training, and seeing in the news the earthquake, was very hard.

((WN)) And your family and everything was okay, with that?

Jorge Migueles: Yes, they’re okay.

((WN)) Is there anything people who know nothing about Paralympic sport in Chile should know?

Jorge Migueles: In London, in the past Olympic Game, one person with disability […], he won gold medal in London. […] He was the first Paralympic to win a medal in the history of Chile. And now the people know this movement [The Paralympics].

((WN)) That’s very cool. Okay. Thank you very, very much.

Jorge Migueles: Thank you.
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Several groups seek to purchase Saturn auto brand

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Penske Automotive Group, Inc., an Ohio-based investment group and Telesto Ventures have indicated separately that they are interested in purchasing the Saturn auto brand from General Motors (GM).

According to The Wall Street Journal, Nissan-Renault is interested in purchasing Saturn. Bloomberg, however, indicated that Nissan-Renault may be a partner of Penske’s potential bid. If Penske acquired the brand, they would distribute Saturn vehicles and outsource the assembly.

GM revealed that the Saturn brand along with Saab and Hummer were up for sale when unveiling their restructuring plans to Congress for governmental loans. While the Pontiac brand was originally to be a niche brand, GM had changed their plans recently and decided to eliminate the brand.

Telesto Ventures is an investment group that includes private equity firm Black Oak Partners LLC of Oklahoma City and several Saturn dealerships. Initially, Telesto will purchase Saturn branded cars from GM then act as a general retailer for foreign brands. Telesto is in talks with several foreign manufacturers.

The Ohio group includes many former senior auto company managers plus private financial backers, chemists and engineers who live in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Florida. This group plans to initially purchase cars from GM then purchase existing but closed plants due to automaker restructuring. Additionally, one of the partners indicated a willingness to accept some “legacy” cost in relation to the United Auto Workers. The Ohio group is also pursuing possible loans or other support from national and state governments.

GM is reviewing several offers for Saturn. GM has contracted with S.J. Girsky & Co. to advise them on the sale.

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