On the campaign trail in the USA, June 2016
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On the campaign trail in the USA, June 2016

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The following is the second edition of a monthly series chronicling the U.S. 2016 presidential election. It features original material compiled throughout the previous month after an overview of the month’s biggest stories.

In this month’s edition on the campaign trail: the effect of the Brexit vote on the US presidential election is examined; a well known businessman and sports team owner pitches his candidacy for vice president; and Wikinews interviews the winner of the American Independent Party California primary.

Contents

  • 1 Summary
  • 2 Brexit’s impact on the US presidential election
  • 3 Cuban makes vice presidential pitch
  • 4 California American Independent Party primary winner speaks to Wikinews
  • 5 Related articles
  • 6 Sources
Under-reporting of human Bird Flu infections poses worldwide threat
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Under-reporting of human Bird Flu infections poses worldwide threat

Monday, November 21, 2005

Possible under reporting of bird flu infections in China and other Southeast Asian countries may be promoting an illusory sense that human infections are very limited. Common press reports only describe fewer than 130 people as infected with H5N1 avian flu and that fewer than 70 have died worldwide. Yet, there are enormous problems getting accurate data, especially in a country like China with a population of more than a billion.

“Reporting a suspected bird flu infection in bird or humans is a very unlikely event,” said Dr. Shoshana Zimmerman of the eHealth Institute. She is also a founder of www.birdflubeacon.com, a site dedicated to bird flu issues. “There are very few incentives to report, and lots of reasons to refrain from reporting. From the viewpoint of local rural small farmers, there is little to be gained and much to be lost by reporting an infection. The worse threat is that their flocks could be killed, leaving them destitute.”

There are many factors which mitigate against reporting bird or human infections of bird flu.

  • The deaths of chickens, ducks, and birds are common events for farmer. Even when a large number die at one time they may see no purpose in reporting the deaths.
  • When a human dies in locations with little or no medical services, the rural farmer’s priority for discerning the cause of death may be low.
  • In rural areas most people are not taken to hospitals when they are sick.
  • Bird flu symptoms are not widely known. If the symptoms are not known, they will not be recognized and reports of possible bird or human infections can not be made.
  • The expenses required for detection are those of proper collection and shipment of samples to one of approximately 200 laboratories worldwide, as well as the testing procedure that requires a two week period of waiting before results are obtained.
  • The lack of incentive for countries to report large scale outbreaks as it may lead to widespread panic and economic loss, as occurred with SARS. These factors can be seen at work in the way that the first bird flu death was reported in China,” Dr. Zimmerman stated.

A young woman, Zhou Maoya, died after returning home to the village of Yantan in Annui province to prepare for her wedding. Her family has stated that they did not take her to the hospital because they thought it would not do any good. Officials also note rural Chinese also often cite relatively expensive medical costs as a reason for not seeking treatment when sick.

Although initially authorities attributed her death to pneumonia the resulting political pressure prompted China to invite the World Health Organization to send experts to investigate. The authorities then rescinded the previous position and attributed her death to bird flu based on the similarity of the symptoms that she was reported to exhibit with those of bird flu. The village was quarantined and journalists were denied access. It is not known how many others might be infected in the village. Official announcements were made of plans to vaccinate and cull birds.

A local government official, Fan Qian, told AFP that it was believed Zhou was infected while she was outside of the province.

Fan Tan, a local official, told AFP news that 1,000 birds in Yantan had been culled (killed). Plans were announced to vaccinate 2 million poultry in the area, a huge and difficult task.

Zhang, another official, said authorities had met with all villagers to give them flu vaccinations and to tell them how to protect themselves against the bird flu virus, including not consuming poultry products. It is known that flu vaccinations do not protect against bird flu.

Villagers and local officials minimized the threat. In outlying areas of Yantan, residents said that they did not know of any new outbreaks. Other possible infections have been attributed to similar common causes but there have not been any tests performed validating those attributions.

Fan Litan, a peasant woman from Fantu village, about 2 miles from Yantan, lost many of her ducks, and chickens and also a dog; she has attributed these deaths to the acts of hooligans. She said her family had been extremely frightened when her animals suddenly died. “We were scared to death,” said Fan, standing next to a red sign posted on the outside wall of her home that said: “Prevention and control by the masses is basic for people.” Fan said ducks and chickens are all healthy but she admitted that she had stopped eating poultry. No testing of these birds has been reported yet.

According to a recent AFP report from Liuchang, 59 miles south of Yantan, the obstacles to identifying infections are enormous.

Like many, one Liuchang villager named Wang Hemin said he was concerned and would keep a closer eye on his ducks and chickens, but felt no immediacy since the infection was not in his province. He learned about bird flu on TV, and is aware that officials have come to his village of 2,700 people to warn residents about the virus. They offered guidelines: they told people that poultry which die suddenly could have contracted bird flu and should not be eaten or sold and that such an incident should also immediately be reported. However, the symptoms of H5N1 bird flu were not directly described.

Residents have not yet been fully informed of what symptoms to look for in ill poultry–they are fever, diarrhea, teary eyes and swelling in the legs of the birds. Though a pledge was made earlier in the week to vaccinate 2 million birds immediately, no bird vaccinations in this area have been reported yet.

In another nearby village, Nazahuang, chickens scuttle in and out of houses. One resident, Fan Jiexu, 73, said no officials had yet warned her village to take precautions. Throughout rural areas, it is customary for chickens to scuttle in and out of homes. Ducks and bird often die and are eaten by villagers when it is believed safe to do so.

China has reported 17 avian flu outbreaks as of this week. Despite the Chinese government issued high alerts, critical information is not being adequately communicated to some rural villages. The size of the poultry population, the common and normal occurrence of poultry death on farms, and status of roughly 70% of the poultry population as being kept in backyards are factors complicating infection control.

The head of World Health Organization’s China office, Henk Bekedam, is aware that slow reaction to bird flu threats and difficulty monitoring poultry in the world’s most populous country makes control of its spread challenging.

Testing is required to confirm H5N1 virus, and positive test results lead to the killing of nearby flocks. The incentive for many villagers, officials, and governments to minimize reports of H5N1 virus infections and severe medical and economic complications for making confirmations of infection are obstacles opposing complete and full reporting of the spread and infection rates of the virus.

BBC to cut Electric Proms for financial reasons
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BBC to cut Electric Proms for financial reasons

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

File:Bbcr2electricpromslogo.jpg

The BBC have announced they are to axe annual music festival Electric Proms from their schedule for financial reasons. The festival first took place in October 2006. The 2011 event will not go ahead, with last year’s festival being the last.

Bob Shennan, controller of BBC Radio 2, said he was “disappointed” with the decision to cancel the festival. He said “In the current climate, we are faced with making difficult decisions, including how best to deliver high-quality live music programming throughout the year in light of continuing efficiency savings. I feel that Radio 2 can achieve the same impact of the Electric Proms in an alternative, more cost-effective way. I’m disappointed that the lifetime of Electric Proms has come to an end, but very proud of its fantastically rewarding run of creating new moments in music for the past five years.”

During the festival’s five year run it has featured performances from stars such as Elton John, Neil Diamond, and Shirley Bassey.

The decision to axe the festival comes at a time when the BBC are planning a 20% savings cut. Last week BBC director general Mark Thompson announced 650 job losses after dropping five languages from the BBC World Service.

Price of crude oil reaches new record high
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Price of crude oil reaches new record high

Friday, May 9, 2008

The price of oil per barrel has risen to a new all time high. During trading in Asia and in London, England the price of NYMEX Crude oil futures, per barrel, was at US$124.34 (22:07 eastern time) setting a new record high. Brent Crude oil also hit a new record high of US$122.84, but soon retreated to $121.79.

Several factors, including a weaker U.S. dollar and worries on the world supply, have caused the price of oil to skyrocket in the past week.

Despite worries, OPEC states that supply is currently meeting the current demands and there is currently no shortage of oil.

“There is clearly no shortage of oil in the market. OECD commercial oil stocks remain above the five-year average, with days of forward cover at a comfortable level of more than 53 days. US crude inventories, meanwhile, rose by almost six million barrels last week, which is a further indication that oil supplies are plentiful,” stated OPEC in a statement on its website.

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Athletes prepare for 2012 Summer Paralympics at the Paralympic Fitness Centre
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Athletes prepare for 2012 Summer Paralympics at the Paralympic Fitness Centre

Monday, August 27, 2012

London, England — As Paralympians ready for the Games which are set to open later this week, they have access to a world class fitness center inside the Paralympic Village which is designed to maximise their pre-Game preparations.

According to volunteers staffing the center, instead of being a single large room, as in Beijing, the building has numerous rooms. It, along with the adjacent Village Services Centre, is designed to be converted into a school after the games conclude. Rooms have been structured as a gym, an auditorium, and science laboratories.

Gym equipment is supplied by Technogym, an Italian firm that has supplied gym equipment for the Olympics since 2000. Equipment has been provided not just for for the Fitness Centre, but for gyms at all the Olympic venues. The newest equipment is oriented toward maximum flexibility, allowing athletes to exercise the particular muscles that they most require for their sport.

In addition to the equipment, the Fitness Centre also provides instructors trained in the use of the equipment, the likes of which athletes from many countries have never seen before. There are also a number of instructors available to provide motivational training.

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Choosing Airlines For Your Air Travel

Submitted by: Letha Lashley

There are many different airlines in many different countries; some which fly internationally and there are those that do not. As far as here in the United States, there are an abundance of US airlines that fly all around the various parts of the world as well as most all points domestically.

For us here in the United States the major US airlines are all well known. Names like American, Delta, Northwest, TWA, Continental, etc are well know both here in the U.S. and abroad. And since these US airlines cover the bases of most travel plans both here and abroad you should have no trouble finding a US airline that can accomodate just about any travel plans whether they be locally (domestic) or foreign.

As you would expect with US airlines the domestic flights will be much cheaper that those that are intercontinental. So, it only stands to reason that a flight to Venice Italy is going to be more pricey than a flight to Venice, California. Most all of the US airlines will have similar pricing structures… but not the same so you’ll want to peruse each of those that seem to fit your travel plans carefully.

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If you become confused by all the options or would just rather have a travel agent book your flights for you, you will find that many of the US airlines will be able to accomodate your travel plans. Some of the US airlines will even have partnership deals and arrangements in conjunction with hotels, car rentals, and even other airlines that can sometimes even sweeten the deal for you.

These types of deals can really come into play if you are one that accumulates frequent flyer miles. By taking advantage of these partnerships that some of the US airlines have with various other companies you can come up with some great deals or at the very least enhance the travel deal you’ve already come across.

This also brings up the point that you should be mindful of your frequent flyer miles when you are looking at booking your flights. You always want to be on the look out and inquire into what you can use your miles for and what travel benefits they’ll provide.

No matter if you are traveling across the country, or from one country to another the available options within the various US airlines and the packages they offer, you should be able to put together travel plans that both fit your needs and are affordable.

About the Author: For more information on

airlines and airfares

visit onwebnet.com where you will tips on air travel, cheap flights, low cost airfares, even information on

discount airline tickets

, and more

Source:

isnare.com

Permanent Link:

isnare.com/?aid=169558&ca=Travel

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News briefs:May 21, 2006
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News briefs:May 21, 2006

The time is 17:00 (UTC) on May 21st, 2006, and this is Audio Wikinews News Briefs.

Contents

  • 1 Headlines
    • 1.1 Violence escalates in Afghanistan
    • 1.2 Iran stands defiant on Uranium enrichment
    • 1.3 Militants target rally in Srinagar
    • 1.4 Professionals and students continue strike in New Dehli
    • 1.5 300 Vietnamese fishermen rescued after record China typhoon
    • 1.6 Pair extradited and charged over Granville, Sydney shootings
    • 1.7 Ray Nagin re-elected New Orleans mayor
    • 1.8 Snowy Hydro Scheme to go public
    • 1.9 Missing BC girl found safe
    • 1.10 ‘Naked Guy’ Andrew Martinez dies
    • 1.11 Finnish metal band win 51st Eurovision Song Contest
  • 2 Closing statements
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American teenage girl charged with murder of her mother
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American teenage girl charged with murder of her mother

Sunday, December 19, 2004

CRAIG, Alaska –Rachelle Waterman, (aka Rachelle Ann Monica Waterman and “smchyrocky”), a 16-year-old girl from Craig, Alaska, USA, has been charged with the first degree murder of her mother.

The case has rapidly received a wide following on the Internet, partly because Waterman kept a public record of her thoughts and activities on LiveJournal, a popular blogging service. The last entry, which has since been removed from public view, was posted on November 18, 2004 and read:

Just to let everyone know, my mother was murdered.

I won’t have computer acess [sic] until the weekend or so because the police took my computer to go through the hard drive. I thank everyone for their thoughts and e-mails, I hope to talk to you when I get my computer back.

A diverse group of users, both friends and strangers, have posted over 5,000 comments on the journal, positive and negative, transforming the case into an Internet phenomenon. Every entry since March 2004 has apparently now been deleted or hidden, but a ZIP archive of the entire weblog, from before the entries were deleted, is available on Deadly Blogging.

Waterman was a tenth-grade honor (A-average) student in her second year at Craig High School. She was also a member of the Academic Decathlon team (ACDC) and sang in the choir, a profile that has left many people questioning her involvement in the killing and asking what motive there might be. At the time police say the killing occurred, Rachelle Waterman was apparently playing in a volleyball tournament in Anchorage, Alaska.

Apart from the online diary Rachelle kept, the case is also unusual because matricide committed by female minors is extremely rare.

Contents

  • 1 Family background
  • 2 The case
    • 2.1 Police investigation
    • 2.2 Arraignment
    • 2.3 The trial
  • 3 Alleged motive
  • 4 Incarceration
  • 5 Aftermath
    • 5.1 Juvenile crime
  • 6 See also
  • 7 References
    • 7.1 Rachelle Waterman on LiveJournal
    • 7.2 Police report on the case
    • 7.3 Press reports about the case
    • 7.4 Press reports which mention the case within a larger context
    • 7.5 Scholastic Accomplishments
  • 8 External links

The Waterman family is a locally prominent, middle-upper class family. Born on August 26, 1988, Rachelle showed an interest in acting, computers, movies and music, and was an honor roll student, involved in many extra-curricular activities, including choir, volleyball, and the decathlon team – advancing to upper levels and winning prizes in almost every endeavor. Her mother, Lauri, was a teachers’ aide and served on the board of the Little League and the town library. Rachelle Waterman’s 60-year-old father, Carl “Doc” Waterman, is a real estate agent and serves as president of the Craig School Board. Rachelle’s older brother, Geoffrey, lives out of town and is a student at Tacoma College.

Waterman and her alleged accomplices, Jason Arrant and Brian Radel, both 24 years old, are accused of murdering and conspiring to murder Waterman’s 48-year-old mother, Lauri Waterman.

Reportedly, Arrant dropped Radel off near the Waterman home shortly after 12:00 a.m. Sunday, November 13, 2004 (local time) where Radel proceeded to kidnap Lauri Waterman, force her into a minivan owned by the Waterman family, and kill her with a blunt object.

Arrant and Radel then allegedly met at Forest Service Road 3012 at about 2:30 a.m., and Arrant followed Radel to its dead end, where Radel had driven the Waterman’s van.

Arrant then allegedly watched as Radel doused the body and van with gasoline and then used a roll of paper towels to set it on fire, in an attempt to destroy the evidence.

Alaska State Police Lt. Rodney Dial has stated that a hunter discovered Lauri Waterman’s body and her burnt-out van, while driving on Forest Service Road 3012, a remote logging road, early in the afternoon of Sunday November 142004.

On Saturday, November 202004, Alaska State Police Trooper Robert Claus stated:

During … interviews all three made admissions as to their involvement in the murder. Physical evidence recovered at the various crime scenes corroborated many of the defendants’ statements … Radel, Arrant and Waterman have been charged with murder in the first degree. Due to the severity of the charges, Waterman has been waived into adult court. Additional charges of solicitation, conspiracy, tampering with physical evidence and other charges are pending. Arrant and Waterman will be arraigned in the District Court in Craig this morning.

On Saturday, November 20, 2004, Rachelle appeared in Craig District Court, dressed in an orange CCJF jumpsuit, for arraignment on the charges. Waterman and her alleged co-conspirators, Jason Arrant, and Brian Radel, faced a 10-count indictment, listing 26 felonies.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported that, “the complaint against Rachelle Waterman relied on statements by all three co-defendants. The complaint says the girl told one of the suspects when she and her father would be out of town.”

A report in The Ketchikan Daily News stated that, “The first seven counts of the indictment allege that all three defendants committed the crimes of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder; first-degree murder; second-degree murder; kidnapping; first-degree burglary; first-degree vehicle theft and tampering with physical evidence.” Other charges were made against Arrant and Radel. The same report went on to state, “Trooper Robert Claus, Klawock resident Jan Bush and Deputy State Medical Examiner Susan Klingler testified before the grand jury.”

Magistrate Kay Clark presided over the arraignment and set bail at $150,000. Clark also appointed a public defender to represent Rachelle, who was sent to the Juneau Department of Corrections facility.

Judge Patricia Collins, of the Juneau Superior Court, has been assigned to run the trial for the case. Judge Collins originally set a date of February 3, 2005 for the trial, but, at an arraignment that week, the trial was rescheduled for August 22. According to court officials, another postponement is likely.

Rachelle Waterman’s court-appointed attorney for the trial is Assistant Public Advocate Steven Wells. Assistant District Attorney Daniel Schally is assigned to prosecute the case.

No motive for the crime has been suggested. Readers are closely scrutinizing Rachelle’s online journal for clues.

As early as February 24th of 2004, she posted the following:

“Don’t you hate it when the little pieces of shit pile up to the point you’re at the breaking point, and you want to scream and cry at the same time. I don’t know weather to kill somebody, myself, or just curl up into a fetal[sic] position under my covers and lay there for a couple of days. Either way . . . I’m not good . . . “

Numerous readers have pointed to Rachelle’s negative comments concerning her mother’s wishes to send her to a “fat farm” to lose weight.

“My mom finally gave me back the right to eat but wants to send me to fat camp this summer. I think it’s rather hallarious[sic]. I mean, I agree I’m chunky but if she sends me off I”ll be the skinny girl and get sat apon[sic]. That part wouldn’t be funny, but overall it’s quite amusing. Silly mother,” (verbatim spelling).

In another incident, her mother grounded her (restricted her to home) for receiving an 89% score on a test. Rachelle posted these comments to her journal in response to this situation (verbatim spelling):

“well I’m grounded, last ngiht[sic] my mom went psycho bitch on me and cast me out. So I went to crash at someone’s house then she freaked [out], wanted me home incase[sic] I told someone. Wee for loving parental units”

“I even got to fly…down the stairs….”

Other readers have pointed to the title of Rachelle’s journal, “My Crappy Life (The Inside Look of an Insane Person)”, and her negative description of her hometown as “Hell, Alaska, United States”:

“I live in the suckiest[sic] place on earth, a shit hole in alaska[sic].”

Rachelle posted the following poem to her journal on August 24, 2004, with an indication that she was depressed:

they hold the key to my chamber
locked within it’s depths.
never to see the sunlight,
and contemplating death.
starving more than one way
soul and body combine,
the pain curses through
sending chills up the spine.
will I live to see the stars?
the sunrise once more?
or will I wither and rot
my heart gone forevermore

She also had a strong desire not to be at home:

“I just want a job, keep me occupied and not at home”

and even posted an “Ode to Suicide” under the following post:

“Ever feel completely alone? All the people who you care about and you thought cared about you just leave and you’re….just alone…nobody to connect with, nobody to comfort you when you find out you might die, nobody…nothing….”

Ode to Suicide

Pain consumes my body,
eating away like lye.
Tearing at my flesh,
no more tears left to cry.

Nobody loves me,
nobody cares.
Why continue on?
I want out of these snares.

Relief and release,
is what you bring to me.
No more matters to cry for,
I can finally be free.

“wow I suck amazingly at poetry”

Finally, the weekend before Rachelle left on a trip, during which time her mother was allegedly killed, she noted in her second-to-last entry, “I had a migraine from about 9am-6pm”.

Rachelle Waterman is currently incarcerated at the Lemon Creek correctional facility, in Alaska. She signed an agreement to be placed into the general population. Corrections Deputy Commissioner Portia Parker indicated that Waterman “is an adult in the eyes of the law.”

Alaska law places persons charged with first-degree murder at the age of 16 or older in the adult court system, and most of the records concerning this case are open to the public for inspection.

One of the last entries in Rachelle’s journal wonders whether anyone is reading her comments (verbatim spelling):

“Well not a lot has happened lately I jsut thought I should let people know I”m still alive, not like too many people care cus I’m not even sure if anyone reads these from me anymore.”

Although Waterman has not yet been convicted, sociologists and forensic psychologists are beginning to study her journal and the circumstances of her writing it. (The police have seized her computer and are examining the contents of its hard drive for evidence.)

LiveJournal has subsequently restricted the viewing of her journal.

When interviewed by Alaskan television station KTUU about the nature of online journals, (in late November, 2004) forensic psychologist Susan LaGrande commented that “[i]t’s such an anonymous vehicle that you can be whoever or say whatever you want. You don’t have all the responsibilities that are inherent in a face-to-face real, legitimate relationship.

This same report pointed out that Rachelle Waterman had mentioned suicide in her online journal.

Criminologist Susan Magestro was interviewed by KTUU on the subject of juvenile crime, in late November, 2004, after Waterman became the second teenager within two months to be accused of murdering her own parent. She stated that “I think that we’re starting to see more violence with kids who are younger, and the behaviors that they’re exhibiting are more aggressive and more violent.” Magestro also opined that “we’ve got a lot more fetal alcohol and drug children who are growing up, and they don’t understand the consequences of some of their actions.” (There is no indication that Waterman was a so-called “fetal alcohol” or “drug” child.)

KTUU reported that Magestro “…blames violent movies, TV shows and videogames for desensitizing young people, making them unable to understand the consequences — or even the reality — of their actions.”

Although Waterman has been waived into the adult justice system due to the nature of the crime, the Governor of Alaska, Frank Murkowski, has proposed increasing the number of personnel assigned to the juvenile justice system.

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On the campaign trail in the USA, August 2016
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On the campaign trail in the USA, August 2016

Friday, September 23, 2016

The following is the fourth edition of a monthly series chronicling the U.S. 2016 presidential election. It features original material compiled throughout the previous month after an overview of the month’s biggest stories.

In this month’s edition on the campaign trail: the vice presidential nominee of the Reform Party is revealed; those attacked in a high profile campaign speech respond; and Wikinews interviews an economist seeking the presidency a second time.

Contents

  • 1 Summary
  • 2 Reform Party vice presidential nominee confirmed
  • 3 Alt-rightists respond to Clinton speech
  • 4 Wikinews interviews economist again running for president
  • 5 Related articles
  • 6 Sources
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ACLU, EFF challenging US ‘secret’ court orders seeking Twitter data
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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.
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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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