Displaying 1 - 10 of 456 entries.

Recall of Thomas the Tank Engine toys due to lead-paint fears

  • Posted on February 18, 2018 at 3:19 am

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A recall issued last week for Thomas the Tank Engine toys made in China and containing lead-based paint, is the latest scare for consumers, and follows recent scandals involving Chinese-made pet food, pharmaceuticals, toothpaste and other toys, The New York Times has reported in a series of articles.

Last week, RC2, a U.S. toy company based in Oak Brook, Illinois, issued a recall for its popular wooden “Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends” train sets. The recall involved 1.5 million “Thomas Wooden Railway” vehicles and train sets sold at toy stores and various retailers across the U.S. from January 2005 through June 2007.

A subsequent recall has been issued in the United Kingdom, where Thomas the Tank Engine was originated in the 1940s as a character in a children’s story by the Reverend W.V. Awdry. Around 70,000 toys are involved in the U.K. recall, according to The Guardian.

“RC2 has determined that the surface paints on the recalled products contain lead. Lead is toxic if ingested by young children and can cause adverse health effects,” the Consumer Product Safety Commission said in a press release dated June 13. “Consumers should take the recalled toys away from young children immediately and contact RC2 Corp. for a replacement toy,” the commission said.

Those “adverse health effects” could include brain and nerve damage, especially in young children, as well as blood and brain disorders. Severe lead poisoning causes vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, anemia, loss of appetite, headaches and in particularly high doses, coma and death.

In an article on Monday, The New York Times reported that recalls have been issued for 24 different toys in the U.S. in the past year, and every one of them was made in China. According to the Toy Industry Association, toys made in China account for around 70 percent to 80 percent of all the toys sold in the U.S., The Times said.

“These are items that children are supposed to be playing with,” Prescott Carlson was quoted as saying by The Times. Carlson is a co-founder of a child-safety website called Imperfect Parent, which tracks recalls of toys and other baby products. “It should be at a point where companies in the United States that are importing these items are held liable,” Carlson said.

RC2 would not comment to The Times, and a Consumer Product Safety Commission spokesman would not say how long ago the problem with the lead paint was discovered.

For a follow-up article on Tuesday, The Times visited a factory in Dongguan, in China’s Guangdong province, where the “Thomas and Friends” toys are made. The paper interviewed workers and took photos on the factory floor.

“You’re intruding,” a factory manager identified only as Zhong was quoted as telling the reporters. “Tell me, why exactly are you here?”

During the visit, a reporter, translator and a photographer were detained by factory officials, and released a day later after local police and government officials intervened.

The factory also produces other toys for RC2, including toy John Deere trucks, NASCAR racing models and M&M’s cars, The Times said. RC2 makes the toys under licenses from various companies. The “Thomas and Friends” toys are made under license from Hit Entertainment, which owns the “Thomas” brand.

According to RC2, items in the “Thomas and Friends” recall are:

  • Red James Engine & Red James’ # 5 Coal Tender
  • Red Lights & Sounds James Engine & Red James’ #5
  • Lights & Sounds Coal Tender
  • James with Team Colors Engine & James with Team Colors *#5 Coal Tender
  • Red Skarloey Engine
  • Brown & Yellow Old Slow Coach
  • Red Hook & Ladder Truck & Red Water Tanker Truck
  • Red Musical Caboose
  • Red Sodor Line Caboose
  • Red Coal Car labeled “2006 Day Out With Thomas” on the Side
  • Red Baggage Car
  • Red Holiday Caboose
  • Red “Sodor Mail” Car
  • Red Fire Brigade Truck
  • Red Fire Brigade Train
  • Deluxe Sodor Fire Station
  • Red Coal Car
  • Yellow Box Car
  • Red Stop Sign
  • Yellow Railroad Crossing Sign
  • Yellow “Sodor Cargo Company” Cargo Piece
  • Smelting Yard
  • Ice Cream Factory

Toys listed that are marked with codes containing “WJ” or “AZ” are not included in the recall.

Earlier, RC2 said that customers would have to cover shipping costs to return the toys to the company. It later agreed to cover postage after angry complaints by parents, The Times said in an article yesterday. Refunds will take about two months.

Recall of Thomas the Tank Engine toys due to lead-paint fears
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Author of My Billion Year Contract reflects on life in elite Scientology group

  • Posted on February 18, 2018 at 3:12 am

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Wikinews interviewed author Nancy Many about her book My Billion Year Contract, and asked her about life working in the elite Scientology group known as the “Sea Org“. Many joined Scientology in the early 1970s, and after leaving in 1996 she later testified against the organization. Published in October, Many’s book has gone on to become one of the top selling new books on Scientology at Amazon.com.

Author of My Billion Year Contract reflects on life in elite Scientology group
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Security threats directed at US Democrats

  • Posted on February 17, 2018 at 3:15 am

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is looking into threats made against Democratic members of the US House of Representatives. The threats were directed at members of Congress who supported the recent health care reform legislation.

Virginia’s 5th district representative Tom Perriello’s brother’s home had its gas line cut early Wednesday. Another Democrat, Louise Slaughter of New York’s 28th district, had a brick thrown through her offices window.

House Majority leader Steny Hoyer held a press conference about the threats and multiple instances of vandalism involving the offices of Congresspersons who voted on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Hoyer said that “[t]he incidents of threats whether in person or through telephones or through other communication devices, have given great concern to members, for the safety of themselves and their families.”

House Minority leader John Boehner said that the incidents show the American peoples’ feelings for the new bill, but “violence and threats are unacceptable.” He added, “that’s not the American way, we need to take that anger and channel it into positive change.”

Security threats directed at US Democrats
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A Platform That Gathers People And Merchants Multi Vendor Shopping Cart Script}

  • Posted on February 17, 2018 at 2:43 am

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Submitted by: Siva Rajan

The evolution of Internet is helping retailers to sell merchandise to different parts of the globe. The flexible nature is helping people to search for required products in a single click and pick up an appropriate merchant who is offering a particular product at the best price.

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Features define the flexibility and convenience that users and merchants receive on the platform. It relies on the size of the business and the targeted audience. For example, a particular niche in the market targets a specific community of the society.

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They require only a few features. On the other hand, a multi vendor platform seeks attention from millions of providers across the globe who wishes to increase their sales by reaching out to the global population. These people need numerous features to ensure their website remains in the top spot and fulfills every requirement of the people.

Fantacy multi vendor shopping cart script gives total control over the performance of the website. Individuals can turn into entrepreneurs by selecting the appropriate package. Every package targets the required market share that the business would like to establish.

Although developers have induced significant features, it is possible to alter the configuration and settings to meet the work culture of the company. Creating a successful platform is necessary to ensure that both customers and merchants hold onto the host for an extended period.

The multi vendor e-commerce script delivers all the essential elements the required for the shopping portal to function efficiently. The reliable way to examine the functionality of the program created by fantacy is by downloading the demo version.

The demo version consists of the entire features available in the program. Users will receive an opportunity to test and view the appearance of the entire script. Analyzing the operation from every corner of the store gives a better understanding and feasibility. It will, in the end, help take a final decision about picking the right package based on the business volume.

The multi vendor shopping cart script from fantacy helps in building an e-commerce portal that brings on-board customers, products and merchants. The customization options available in the software make it convenient for any individual to alter according to the business strategy.

Therefore, having a clear picture about the performance of the web portal, the targeted viewers and the outline of the model will give a better hold to the required package. Future upgrades and live support from the developers are additional benefits that one receives along with a fully operable e-commerce portal.

About the Author: Sivarajan – Marketing ExecutiveWorking on online ecommerce script

fancyclone.net

solutions for online vendors. Providing them a feasible online solution to make very good revenue in online stores

Source:

isnare.com

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Man charged with attempted murder in £40 million London jewel heist

  • Posted on February 17, 2018 at 2:35 am

Sunday, September 6, 2009

24-year-old Aman Kassaye, of no fixed abode, is to face a charge of attempted murder for his alleged role in an armed robbery that netted £40 million ($65 million) worth of jewelry from a London store.

Kassaye is the seventh man to be charged, and is also facing prosecution for conspiracy to rob the Graff store in New Bond Street, false imprisonment, and using a handgun to resist arrest. He will appear at Wimbledon magistrates court on Monday.

The other six men have already been remanded in custody until October 23, when they will appear at Kingston Crown Court. All are facing charges of conspiracy to rob, and two of them are also charged with a firearms offense.

43 diamond rings, watches, and bracelets were taken from the store. The theft occurred when two armed and suited men walked in and took an employee hostage. It has been reported they used prosthetic masks made from liquid latex but police have not confirmed this. Amateur footage also shows a shot was fired. No-one was injured.

The robbery is one of the biggest the United Kingdom has seen. After the crime a string of getaway vehicles was used, with police believing several more offenders assisted with this stage of the plan. Although The Telegraph claims no stolen property has yet been recovered, this is also unconfirmed by police.

Man charged with attempted murder in £40 million London jewel heist
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Russia: Runaway bus kills at least four in entrance to Moscow Metro station

  • Posted on February 17, 2018 at 2:18 am

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Yesterday, at least four were killed and eleven were injured near the Slavyansky Bulvar Metro station in Moscow, Russia, after a bus ran down the steps at the entrance, officials stated. According to an emergency services source reported through state news media, fifteen were injured, and five died in the incident.

The incident happened in an icy situation. The bus drove onto the pavement and down the steps leading to the station. The police reportedly arrested the driver. News agencies reported the driver was not under the influence of alcohol. The driver told investigators the bus suddenly moved, and although he tried to stop it, the brakes did not work. A reported emergency services source said the accident might be due to brake failure.

According to Interfax news agency, the bus was less than a year old. Moscow’s mayor Sergei Sobyanin said he had ordered all Moscow buses to be inspected.

Russia: Runaway bus kills at least four in entrance to Moscow Metro station
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Doctor diagnoses Mexican artist Frida Kahlo’s infertility

  • Posted on February 16, 2018 at 3:15 am

Monday, April 23, 2012

File:Frida Kahlo by Artist René Romero Schuler.jpg

According to a new diagnosis by a surgical pathologist, Frida Kahlo most likely suffered uterine damage during a streetcar accident as a teenager and this led to a rare condition known as Asherman’s syndrome, and that would explain the Mexican artist’s infertility.

Dr. Fernando Antelo, from the Harbor–UCLA Medical Center, said, “Her survival defied the grim prognostication by her physicians; however, complications from this physical trauma would emerge in her adulthood.” He presented his diagnosis yesterday at the annual meeting of the American Association of Anatomists in San Diego.

Asherman’s syndrome is normally caused by a trauma to the uterus that results in internal scar tissue. For example, it can occur after multiple procedures to clear the uterus after a miscarriage or abortion, which is known as a “D & C” procedure. Antelo said Kahlo tried to have children many times and her miscarriages, as well as three therapeutic abortions, could have further aggravated the scarring.

At present the condition could be diagnosed and treated after advancements in medical imaging and hysteroscopy, but in Kahlo’s time, Dr. Antelo said, the technology had not advanced far enough to diagnose and treat her. Asherman’s syndrome has been known since 1894 when it was first reported. Kahlo died at age 47 in 1954.

“She kept attempting to have children with a uterus that wasn’t in any condition to do that,” Antelo said.

Antelo, who has been working on connections between art and medicine, says that Kahlo brought her infertility to the canvas and this can be seen in her many paintings of reproductive organs or in her depiction of her own bleeding body in the 1932 painting Henry Ford Hospital. In that image, Kahlo is shown lying on a hospital bed with multiple umbilical cords extending from her body and each one holds an object or body part, except one holding a baby.

Doctor diagnoses Mexican artist Frida Kahlo’s infertility
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Learn And Know The Customer Demand Of Poodle Puppies}

  • Posted on February 16, 2018 at 3:14 am

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Learn and Know the Customer Demand of Poodle Puppies

by

Antony Daniels

Are you a dog lover? Want to spent time with dog? If yes, then why are you wasting your time? Cutie Poodles Home heartily welcomes you to come to our website and pick your choice by reading the details. In todays market there are so many dogs are available for selling. But, here we are offering poodle puppies and their proper health guarantee. The Poodle is a very impressive dog. Behind a good Poodle has been taught canine manners of a column disposition even if they get exercise to burn off auto their natural energy. This is just one of the many reasons why people are looking for Poodles for sale instead of any other type of breed. These small dogs usually weigh between 8-10 pounds, and stands no more than 10 inches tall.

Different Types Of Poodles Puppies:-

There are so many breeders selling so-called Teacup Poodle Puppies for Sale, but are they really a teacup size? Poodle puppies do not seem to be adequate guard dogs, they serve as an excellent alarm when strangers approach the house. The breed was originally a design studio water achiever that was trained in order to fetch waterfowl for mentors. Making the most of normal small breed dogs will give you more satisfaction than a dog. This term teacup dog covers many varieties of miniature or toy breeds of dog. These types of puppies are so small that is enough to fit in a teacup, giving rise to the name.

If we discussed the some other types, all have their own qualities. Among form them, we also provide

Red Toy Poodle Puppies for Sale

. This can easily be found on the Internet it is important to have all of the facts and this article is the way to share accurate knowledge and love on the subject. These puppies traditionally identify a tiny dog or even a grouping regarding small and extremely small varieties of dog. You will find the regal attitude and find a very affectionate family companion with a wide range of talents. According to our customer demand, we provide even small dogs need regular exercise and the best care possible. We hand select those hard to find teacup, tiny poodles.

When choosing a puppy to add to your family, the choices are endless and the search seems impossible. If you are looking for Toy Poodle Puppies for Sale and do not know where to start or what to consider. Here, are a few steps to help you ascertain what factors should be top priorities on your list. Except these priorities, we ship your booking pets within the USA and Canada. And, we offer these after they are 8 weeks old with the fast short and health guarantee. Sometimes people suffer from allergic, but you do not have to be allergic to dog hair in order to hate the shedding, as it is frustrating to have such a mess around the house.

If you do not see a puppy on our website and currently you are interested in

Toy Poodle Puppies for Sale

please contact us with more information on what you are looking for as we know several top breeders of toy poodles. Visit-http://www.cutiepoodleshome.com/

Article Source:

eArticlesOnline.com}

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

  • Posted on February 16, 2018 at 3:11 am

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.

ACLU, EFF challenging US ‘secret’ court orders seeking Twitter data
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Black vulture population targeted for reduction at Virginia boat launch

  • Posted on February 16, 2018 at 2:56 am

Monday, December 19, 2005

A Virginia recreation and fishing boat launch on the James River near the Dominion Virginia Power plant at Dutch Gap is the scene of too many Black Vultures, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Virginia Department of Inland Game and Fisheries.

In 2002, more than 350 Black vultures were killed at Dutch Gap in an effort to reduce their numbers to a level of a couple dozen birds. But they made a quick come back in the area, and during this past week a hundred of the birds have been disposed of by a shot to their head with a pellet gun.

The USDA reports that both Black Vultures (Coragyps atratus), along with their close relatives called the Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura), are experiencing population increases stretching well over the last 10 years.

The species is increasingly a problem by growing into being a nuisance, as well as a threat to health and safety concerns. The presence of the birds in large numbers, at places they roost, can cause damage to property as they peck and claw at construction surfaces, and cause unsanitary human health conditions from the defecation and regurgitation of the birds. Their presense at landfills, often in near proximity to airports, is a problem for airplanes during take-off and landing.

At the entrance to the Dutch Gap boat launch parking lot, a large yellow warning sign is posted that reads: “Please be aware of possible damage to vehicles and trailers due to the large Black Vulture population currently inhabiting this parking area. Because the Black Vulture is a federally protected species, Chesterfield County is working with the U.S. Deptartment of Agriculture and the Virginia Department of Inland Games and Fisheries to resolve the problem. You can help by disposing of all litter (even non-food items such as cigarette butts) in trash barrels. Thank you for your cooperation.” The vultures reportedly perch on vehicles and scratch the paint, and for some reason are going after windshield wiper blades.

Vultures have shown an ability to adapt to residential and business settings. The bird, with a 4-foot adult wing span, can be seen gliding through the air at virtually any time of day in Chesterfield and Prince George counties in central Virginia.

Black vulture population targeted for reduction at Virginia boat launch
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