Interview with BBC Creative Archive project leader

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27
Apr

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Creative Archive project is a BBC led initiative which aims to make archive audio and video footage available to be freely downloaded, distributed, and ‘remixed’. The project is still in a pilot stage, and is only available to UK residents, but the long-term future of the project could have a major impact on the way audiences interact with BBC content.

The project is partly inspired by the Creative Commons movements, and also by a general move within the BBC to be more open with its assets. Additionally, educational audiences such as schools have expressed an interest in using BBC content within the classroom, both to watch and to create multimedia content from.

So far, clips made available under the licence have included archive news footage, nature documentary footage, and video clips content designed for educational uses. “It’s done very well with the audiences we’ve directed them towards – heavy BBC users,” says Paul Gerhardt, project leader. Users downloading the clips are also prompted to fill in a questionnaire, and so far 10-15% of people seem to be doing something with the material, although the BBC can’t be sure what exactly that is.

One of the biggest limitations within the licence as it currently stands during the pilot scheme is that the material is only available for use by people resident in the UK. The BBC’s Creative Archive sites use ‘geo-IP filtering’ to limit downloads to the UK, but there is some confusion over whether people who create their own content using the material can upload their creations to their own websites. A question within the FAQs for one of the more recent selections of clips suggests that this isn’t possible, saying “during this pilot phase material released under the terms of the Creative Archive Licence cannot be used outside the UK – therefore, unless a website has its use restricted to the UK only, content from the ‘Regions on Film’ archive cannot be published on it.”

“We want people to make full use of this content, whether they cut and paste it or whether they share it, and we completely accept that we’ve got a bit of a contradiction at the moment by saying UK-only and yet encouraging people to put it on their sites to share it with others, because you can’t expect people to have geo-IP restriction technology,” admits Mr Gerhardt. “We’re thinking hard about how to deal with this after the pilot – at the moment it’s quite likely that we’re probably going to need to find a distribution partner outside of the UK, so that if you’re outside of the UK you’ve got roughly the same experience as in the UK, but the content could be surrounded by sponsorship messages or advertising or whatever. Once we’ve done that then leakage from one to the other won’t really matter very much.”

The Creative Archive project has not been without critics from the commercial sector, worried that the BBC giving away their content for free would make it difficult for them to be able to make money from their own content. The BBC has explained to some of the commercial players that the content would be limited during the pilot, would not be available in broadcast quality, and that watermarking technologies would be trialled so that content could be recognised when it crops up elsewhere. The BBC is also investigating a business model for the future where there would be a “close relationship between public access to low-resolution content and a click through to monetising that content if you want to buy a high-resolution version”. People who want to play around with the material might discover they have a talent and then find they need to get a commercial license to use it properly, Mr Gerhardt explains, and the project wants to make it easy for this to happen.

Before the project can go ahead with the full scale launch, it will have to go through a ‘public value test’ to assess its overall impact on the marketplace, and commercial media companies will have a chance to input at this point.

For ease in clearing the rights, all of the content available under the pilot project is factual, but in the future the project could include drama and entertainment content. The BBC may also, in the future, work the Creative Archive licences into the commissioning process for new programmes. “This raises some really interesting ideas – if you have a documentary series, you could use the Creative Archive to release the longer form footage, for instance – that would create a digital legacy of that documentary series,” Mr Gerhardt explains. “The other interesting thought in the longer term would be for the BBC, or another broadcaster, to contribute to a digital pool of archive material on a theme, and then invite people to assemble their own content out of that. We could end up broadcasting both the BBC professionally produced programme accompanied by other programmes that other people had made out of the same material.”

One of the ways that the Creative Archive licence differs from the other ‘copyleft’ licences like Creative Commons, aside from the UK-only limitation, is that the licence currently allows the BBC to update and modify the licence, which may worry those using the licence that their rights could suddenly become more restricted. “The licence at the moment is a draft, and we’ve given warning that we may well improve it, but we wouldn’t do that more than once or twice. The ambition is that by the time we scale up to the full service we would have a fixed licence that everyone was comfortable with, and it wouldn’t change after that.”

“The ambition is to think about creating a single portal where people can search and see what stuff is out there under the same licence terms, from a range of different suppliers. The idea is that if we can create something compelling like that, we will attract other archives in the UK to contribute their material, so we’d be aggregating quite a large quantity.”

The Creative Archive project has captured the interest of many Internet users, who are growing increasingly, used the idea of being able to ‘remix’ technologies and content. Some groups have been frustrated with the speed at which the project is developing though, and with some of the restrictions imposed in the licence. An open letter to the BBC urges the dropping of the UK-only limitation, the use of ‘open formats’, and to allow the material to be usable commercially.

Mr Gerhardt has publicly welcomed debate of the licence, but makes it clear to me that the whole BBC archive will never all be available under the Creative Archive terms. “We will make all our archive available, under different terms, over the next five to ten years, at a pace to be determined. There would be three modes in which people access it – some of the content would only be available commercially, for the first five year or so after broadcast, say. The second route is through a ‘view again’ strategy where you can view the programmes, but they’d be DRM-restricted. And the third mode is Creative Archive. Over time, programmes would move from one mode to another, with some programmes going straight to the Creative Archive after broadcast.”

Others who disagree with the ‘UK-only’ restriction within the licence include Suw Charman, from the Open Rights Group, who has said “it doesn’t make sense in a world where information moves between continents in seconds, and where it is difficult for the average user to exclude visitors based on geography.” On the project generally, though, she said “I think that it is a good step along the way to a more open attitude towards content. It is a toe in the water, which is far preferable to the attitude of most of the industry players, who are simply burying their heads in the sand and hoping that lawsuits and lobbying for new legislation will bolster their out-dated business plan.”

Other organisations currently participating in the Creative Archive scheme include the British Film Institute, the Open University and Teachers’ TV. Two artists have been awarded scholarships to create artworks using BBC archive material, and BBC Radio 1 has held a competition asking people to use the footage in creative ways as backing visuals to music. The process of making the BBC’s archive material fully available may be a long one, but it could end up changing the way that people interact with the UK’s public service broadcaster.

Thursday, November 2, 2006

Winter Haven, Florida police chief Paul Goward was tired of seeing fat hanging out over the belts of some of his officers. So he posted a memo to encourage the so-called ‘jelly bellies’ to get in shape.

The memo, entitled ‘Are You A Jelly Belly?’ didn’t single anyone out, and, apart from the title, didn’t call anyone names.

Goward, a former deputy police chief in Wichita, wrote “If you are unfit, do yourself and everyone else a favor. See a professional about a proper diet and a fitness training program, quit smoking, limit alcohol intake…Don’t mean to offend, this is just straight talk. I owe it to you.”

It provided a list of 10 reasons cops should get fit. Goward said that overweight cops poorly represent the profession, are liable to ‘poop out’ when chasing suspects, and may have to use a higher degree of force.

In the end, Goward resigned from his position as police chief.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

American Secretary of Energy Steven Chu is cutting US$100 million dollars from hydrogen fuel cell vehicle research and diverting the remaining $69 million to hydrogen fuel cell research for household current.

Former president George W. Bush advocated the zero-emission vehicles and launched $1.2 billion for hydrogen fuel cell research over a number of years.

President Barack Obama is proposing a “corporate average fuel economy,” or CAFÉ, placing standards for gas mileage at 39 miles per gallon for cars and light trucks at 30 mpg.

“The probability of deploying hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles in the next 10 to 20 years is low.” said Tom Welch of the U.S. Department of Energy. “We asked ourselves, ‘Is it likely in the next 10 or 15, 20 years that we will convert to a hydrogen car economy?’ The answer, we felt, was ‘no,'” said Chu.

In response, the U.S. Fuel Cell Council and the National Hydrogen Association said, “The cuts proposed in the DOE hydrogen and fuel-cell program threaten to disrupt commercialization of a family of technologies that are showing exceptional promise and beginning to gain market traction. Fuel-cell vehicles are not a science experiment. These are real vehicles with real marketability and real benefits. Hundreds of fuel-cell vehicles have collectively logged millions of miles.”

“I just got the Clarity, which is a wonderful hydrogen vehicle,” said Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. He lent his car to The Hydrogen Road Tour.

On Tuesday, The Hydrogen Road Tour began in Chula Vista, California. Twelve hydrogen fuel cell cars by seven auto makers will arrive in Vancouver, British Columbia June 3 for the Hydrogen + Fuel Cells 2009 conference, a global hydrogen and fuel cell event. “The point really is to raise awareness about fuel celled vehicles and hydrogen, their benefits both to energy efficiency and the environment as well as to consumers because we really believe these vehicles are going to be a market winner,” said Catherine Dunwoody, the Executive Director of the California Fuel Cell Partnership.

The Hydrogen Fuel Cells 2009 conference began June 1. “Our global environmental challenges, such as climate change, do not stop at the border,” ” said John Tak, conference Chair, “I am pleased that scientists, engineers, government representatives and businesspeople from more than 35 countries are coming to Vancouver, an active hub for hydrogen and fuel cell development, to help create solutions to these challenges.”

The Ohio Fuel Cell Symposium was held in North Canton, Ohio on Wednesday and Thursday. “The hydrogen and fuel cell industries are at a stage where they have the momentum and energy to accomplish some truly revolutionary things in terms of how they apply their technologies,” said William Whittenberger, president of Catacel Corp. These fuel cells produce electricity and exhaust carbon dioxide and water.

A hydrogen powered municipal street cleaning vehicle is currently being tested for the next year and half in Basel, Switzerland. “Our aim is to take fuel cell technology from the laboratory onto the street,” said Empa’s Internal Combustion Engines Laboratory Project Leader Christian Bach.

Dan Lutz, the fleet manager for the Beloit, Wisconsin public works department, experimented with retro-fitting his personal truck. The department now has a large pickup truck, a garbage truck, a recycling truck, a police squad car and a small pickup truck using hydrogen technology increasing gas mileage from 14 to 22 and 31 mpg. “We know the basic technology works, but the issue is, is it practical,” said City Manager Larry Arft, “Can it be used realistically?”

The drawback is that the technology may rely on platinum, a rare metal, or palladium. Infrastructure would need to be changed to supply hydrogen fueling stations. Critics are also concerned about hydrogen fuel storage and the costs of retro-fitting existing vehicles.

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.

“One-litre car” may help traffic pollution

Posted by: in Uncategorized
27
Apr

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Professors at the Energy Science Centre, attached to the Federal Institute of Technology (ETHZ) in Zurich, have presented their contribution of a car quite similar to Loremo able to travel 100 kilometres (around 62 miles) on a tank with just 1 litre (around 1 quart), equalling to about 235 miles per gallon. They presented their contribution during Swiss Energy Week.

The automobile, which has and will be manufactured by the Swiss company Horlacher, is 75% lighter than an average family car and guzzles a tenth of the fuel thanks to vastly improved aerodynamics.

One drawback to this car is that it has none of the modern safety features found in many cars to-day. But the FIT team is designing technology that lets cars communicate with each other to avoid collisions, using similar computer systems to those in aircraft.

“This car does compromise on style, speed and comfort, but you can’t have a free lunch,” says Lino Guzzella, one of the centre’s members

Business as usual is no longer an option. If we are to survive in the future, we will have to drastically reduce carbon emissions.” Guzzella continued.

There are approximately 800 million cars on this planet and in Switzerland there are 500 cars per 1,000 people, compared with 800 in the United States and less than 50 per 1,000 in India and China.

Swiss drivers also favour more powerful, polluting vehicles than the rest of western Europe. According to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association, the main lobbying group of the automobile industry in the European Union, the average car in Switzerland has a 2 litre engine compared with 1.6 litres in neighbouring countries.

“The Swiss think they are better at cutting harmful emissions than anyone else, but they are not,” says researcher Peter de Haan van der Weg.

He believes Switzerland should introduce incentives to make people buy cleaner cars. Some countries already have such schemes: the US awards tax breaks worth up to $3,000 and the Netherlands offers €6,000 to green car owners. The Swiss authorities are currently thinking about two similar options presented by the city of Bern and the centre-left Social Democratic Party.

“Individuals are not capable of understanding the big picture because it is difficult for people to look 50 years into the future,” Mr. De Haan van der Weg said.

“Therefore it is necessary to have government regulations to force changes that will benefit the environment.”

byAlma Abell

Being a homeowner comes with a great deal of responsibility, and neglecting any one of those responsibilities can cause a lot of damage to your home. One of the most important parts of any home is the roof, which helps to keep the water and other elements out of your home.

Having a problem with your roof can cause trouble for your whole home if not fixed in a timely manner. As soon as you start to notice you are having a problem with your roof, you need to call in a professional to take a look. Trying to do your own roofing work can cause far more damage than good. The following are a few of the signs you need the services of a Roofer Council Bluffs IA.

Water in the Attic

One of the most noticeable signs you have a roofing problem is standing water in the attic of your home. There are many different things that can cause a problem like this, which is why you need a professional to come in to assess the damage. They will be able to narrow down the source of the problem, and then fix it in order to reduce the damage that it can cause.

Missing or Damaged Shingles

Another common sign that you may notice when you need repairs to your roof is missing or damaged shingles, usually after a bad thunderstorm. Over time, the shingles on your roof will become brittle and damaged due to the constant exposure to the sun. When you start to notice that you have more and more shingles on the ground following a thunderstorm, you need to call in a professionals at Royalty Roofing in Council Bluffs IA. They will be able to replace the shingles you have missing, and get your roof back to pristine condition.

If you find yourself in need of a professional Roofer Council Bluffs IA, be sure to call the professionals at Royalty Roofing. They have the experience and resources to make sure that your roof is repaired in the right way. You can call them or browse the website for more information.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

While nearly all cover of the 2008 Presidential election has focused on the Democratic and Republican candidates, there are small political parties offering candidates, and those who choose to run without a party behind them, independents.

Wikinews is interviewing some of these citizens who are looking to become the 43rd person elected to serve their nation from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.

First off is Long Beach, California’s Frank McEnulty (b. 1956), a married father of two with an MBA (Venture Management) and BS (Accounting/Finance).

Buffalo, N.Y. Hotel Proposal Controversy
Recent Developments
  • “120 year-old documents threaten development on site of Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal” — Wikinews, November 21, 2006
  • “Proposal for Buffalo, N.Y. hotel reportedly dead: parcels for sale “by owner”” — Wikinews, November 16, 2006
  • “Contract to buy properties on site of Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal extended” — Wikinews, October 2, 2006
  • “Court date “as needed” for lawsuit against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal” — Wikinews, August 14, 2006
  • “Preliminary hearing for lawsuit against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal rescheduled” — Wikinews, July 26, 2006
  • “Elmwood Village Hotel proposal in Buffalo, N.Y. withdrawn” — Wikinews, July 13, 2006
  • “Preliminary hearing against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal delayed” — Wikinews, June 2, 2006
Original Story
  • “Hotel development proposal could displace Buffalo, NY business owners” — Wikinews, February 17, 2006

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Buffalo, New York —A proposed hotel that was supposed to be built at the corner of Elmwood and Forest Avenues in Buffalo, New York is apparently off the table. The former proposal was going to be called The Elmwood Village Hotel and would have consisted of 72 rooms and cost between $7 to $10 million American dollars to build.

Today several unknown individuals were seen removing a sign that was dedicated to the “Elmwood Village Gateway,” which signifies the beginning of the Elmwood Village at the formerly proposed project’s location.

Nearly an hour later the men replaced the sign with a different and unexpected sign: “For Sale: 5 commercial parcels and 1 carriage house, By: Owner.” Those 5 “parcels” are 1109-1121 Elmwood and 999 Forest Avenue, which is located in an illegal alley, according to the City of Buffalo, behind the 5 other properties on Elmwood. Hans Mobius owns all properties named in the sale.

Sam Savarino, CEO of Savarino Companies never owned the properties and has repeatadly told Wikinews in exclusive interviews that he still had a “contract to buy the properties” and on October 2, 2006 told Wikinews in an exclusive interview that he “extended” the “agreement to purchase the property[s] and will have it under contract for what we hope is a sufficient period of time.”

“He [Mobius] is undoubtedly concerned because he has lost some tenants and is a bit impatient. I think he has properly portrayed the situation,” said Savarino in an exclusive interview with Wikinews.

Savarino also says that there may be “legal issues” to work out now, before anything else can move forward, regarding the proposal.

“There are some legal complexities that must be sorted out before anything can happen there,” added Savarino.

The welcome sign was; however, not removed entirely. The sign was placed, facing the same direction of north, on the side of the Forest Plaza Art Gallery, a new art gallery located on the corner of Forest and Elmwood.

Nancy Pollina, owner of Don Apparel which was located at 1109 Elmwood, but closed on October 14, 2006 considers this a possible “victory” in regards to the lawsuit filed against the hotel to stop it from being built, alleging that several laws were broken, including not performing an Environmental Impact Study before the proposal was approved by the city, during its approval and the proposal was “rushed.” Patricia Morris, who operates Don Apparel with Pollina, Angeline Genovese and Evelyn Bencinich, owners of residences on Granger Place which abut the rear of the proposed site, Nina Freudenheim, a resident of nearby Penhurst Park, and Sandra Girage, the owner of a two-family residence on Forest Avenue less than a hundred feet from the proposed hotel’s sole entrance and exit driveway, were also plaintiffs in the lawsuit. They filed the suit with a lawyer representing them, Arthur J. Giacalone, on April 25, 2006 in New York State Supreme Court, but the case has never gone to a courtroom.

Giacalone believes that a press release issued in July regarding the project was nothing but a statement to “save face,” but that the placement of the for sale sign might be a way of convincing Savarino to speed up the sale of the properties.

“I thought all along that Savarino’s July press release might be no more than an effort to save face. But we have no way of knowing. Similarly, Mobius might have put the for-sale sign up in an attempt to pressure Savarino into closing the deal. There’s no way to tell,” said Giacalone in an exclusive interview with Wikinews.

In regards to the lawsuit, Giacalone thinks it may now be in “limbo.”

“The lawsuit still sits in limbo,” added Giacalone.

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Death of Kentucky census worker considered suicide

Posted by: in Uncategorized
26
Apr

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Kentucky State Police said yesterday that the September 12 death of census worker Bill Sparkman was suicide. His body was found naked in a Clay County, Kentucky cemetery, with “Fed” written on his chest and his census identification taped to his neck. This prompted widespread speculation that anti-government sentiment was responsible. However, police now believe that Sparkman deliberately killed himself, and tried to make it look like murder so his son could receive an insurance payout. Trooper Don Trosper, a Kentucky State Police spokesman, said, “[w]e believe this was an intentional act. We believe the aim was to take his own life.”

This conclusion is based on the police’s analysis of several elements of the crime scene; Sparkman was not hanged in the typical manner; his knees were less than six inches off the ground, and he could have avoided death simply by standing up before he suffocated. Captain Lisa Rudzinski, a leader of the investigation stated, “We do not believe he was placed in that position.” The letters of the word “Fed” were written bottom first, which is unlikely if they had been written by an attacker. The rag found in his mouth contained only Sparkman’s DNA. Police also believed he left glasses taped to his head so he could see while preparing.

Police suspect Sparkman’s motives included debt, failure to find a full-time job, and a desire to provide for his son through his life insurance.