Queensland prisoners put to work manufacturing water tanks

Monday, April 30, 2007

Prisoners in the Australian state of Queensland have been put to work manufacturing rainwater tanks to help meet a shortfall in supply.

The southeast corner of Queensland, which is currently undergoing one of its worst droughts on record, is experiencing a boom in the rainwater tank industry. Households, encouraged by subsidies introduced by the Beattie government, have enthusiastically begun installing rainwater tanks as well as other water-saving devices. These subsidies have led to a shortfall in supply however, with some households waiting months for tanks to be installed.

The new initiative, announced by Premier Peter Beattie as well as Corrective Services minister Judy Spence will see prisoners at Woodford Correctional Centre, Australia’s largest gaol, constructing tanks for AU$4 per day. Spence has pledged not to use the cheap labour to undercut existing tank suppliers. Beattie also pointed out that the programme would give prisoners constructing the tanks valuable work skills for when their sentences are completed. If the programme is successful, it may be extended to other gaols around the state.

The Beattie government has been increasingly criticised over recent months for its failure to handle the water crisis engulfing Southeast Queensland. Opponents accuse the Government of a lack of planning foresight with regards to water supply for the booming area, which includes state capital Brisbane, as well as other cities such as Ipswich, Toowoomba and Gold Coast.

Wikinews interviews Frank Moore, independent candidate for US President

Saturday, March 1, 2008

While nearly all coverage of the 2008 Presidential election has focused on the Democratic and Republican candidates, the race for the White House also includes independents and third party candidates. These parties represent a variety of views that may not be acknowledged by the major party platforms.

Wikinews has impartially reached out to these candidates, throughout the campaign. We now interview independent Presidential candidate Frank Moore, a performance artist.

The Next Three Years Are Sustainable High Growth

By Himfr Paul

The main products Hing Man steel ring of steel wheels, inner tubes can be divided according to whether the steel wheels and tubeless steel wheels, inner tubes. Among them, the main supporting tubeless wheels in the heavy truck, medium and large passenger cars and the economy on the micro-Ke; a tube steel wheel, also known as the wheel, mainly applied to construction machinery, trucks and agricultural vehicles. At present the main wheels of steel in the low-end configuration in the commercial vehicle and passenger car, the car’s lightweight development, selection of light materials such as aluminum, magnesium alloy, high strength steel and other alternative is now widely used in steel reduce body weight, payload can increase the rate of increase in fuel economy. Compared with steel wheels, aluminum wheels, light weight, high accuracy, but the price is about 3 times the wheels of steel, so aluminum wheels in the car on the main assembly; and steel wheels are by virtue of its safety performance, a balance indicator Good, inexpensive and processing advantages of low waste, mainly used in commercial vehicles, passenger vehicles and construction machinery in the low-end, the short to medium term, there is no alternative to steel wheels aluminum wheels risks.

Hing Man Wheel OEM Wheel is the market leader. According to “China Automobile Industry Yearbook (2009 Edition)” Statistics, 2008, the company’s second production of steel wheel industry. Xing tires are the number one key is to do AM market, OEM market, the company is the leading steel ring. Wheel of total 2009 sales of the company 9.02 million, up 54%, higher than the automobile industry sales growth, market share was 15%. The company’s main customers are Foton Motor, Chang’an Automobile, the five levy car, Shenyang Jinbei, Dalian forklifts, Daewoo Heavy Industries, which Fukuda, Chang’an, the five signs. OEM market and the AM market share of around 7:3. Domestic and export company in 2008 the proportion of the domestic auto market for the 2.9:1,2009 years due to the hot and foreign financial crisis, as well as capacity planning, the company fart foreign orders to ensure that the domestic OEM market, has resulted in the export ratio of 5.3:1 . -2,011 in 2010 the company will release new capacity and gradually solve the capacity bottlenecks, three years after the final production capacity will reach 20 million, to join the international leading supplier of steel wheels ranks.

Tubeless steel wheels replace steel wheels with inner tubes trends contribute to improvement in gross margin. Tubeless steel wheels, relatively light weight and does not happen there is the danger of tire puncture, so has the fuel economy and safety features, have the advantage of the wheel inner tube, high strength, low cost, in poor condition, low-speed running Under an advantage. Therefore, agricultural vehicles and construction machinery in general use tire wheel, the wheel does not exist to be replaced with the risk of inner tubes, but in high-end heavy truck, medium and large customers, with the improvement of road conditions and overloading of the reduction in tubeless wheel advantages, there are alternatives with tube wheel trend. According to the figures disclosed in the 2009 annual report, tubeless steel wheels and steel wheels, inner tubes gross margins were 22.36% and 12.53%, tubeless steel wheels replace steel wheels with inner tubes trend will increase the company’s consolidated gross product interest rates.

Steel price increases, Hing Man Wheel switching costs have on the ability of OEMs. Hing Man steel ring products such as raw material costs constitute 70% of the cost of steel, paint and other accessories, 5%, 5% depreciation, wages represent about 12%, the rest as a driving force and others.

2009 and first quarter 2010 product gross margin for the 15.46% and 15.79%, more stable. Wheels, the most important parts of a vehicle is directly related to traffic safety and driving comfort, the supporting system into the vehicle factory certified and testing needs, there are some barriers to entry; vehicle plant for their own safety and the manufacturers will be considered honorary Wheel excellent selection of quality suppliers, so that when steel and other raw material prices, the steel ring factory has the capacity of the downstream transfer of costs to gross profit margin to remain stable. In particular, such as Hing Man Wheel OEM market leading enterprise products in short supply, has been up against capacity constraints, ability to be more of this shift.

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Wheel of technology content of production is not low. Currently on the market generally felt that the structure of steel ring simple manufacturing process is relatively simple, in fact, steel ring as an important driving auto parts, on driving safety and comfort is very important to the smooth, beat on the track, beating other axis reflects the flatness and cylindrical indicator of the level required more stringent, the need for design and manufacturing processes to do security.

Hing Man Wheel 2007 -2 009 years of research into the proportion of total revenues were 2.35%, 2.38% and 2.68%.

Raise investment projects and raise the project is finished over the company’s production capacity will ease the bottleneck.

Companies raise investment projects is 200 million sets of high-strength lightweight steel wheels, tubeless construction project, its dimensions of 22.5-inch diameter, mainly used in heavy trucks and large and medium high-end customers, the market penetration in Europe and the United States has been 95%, while in the country, large and medium customers in the OEM market is already widely used, but in the heavy truck usage is very low. Foreign markets, the company’s large-size tubeless rims have made third-party certification, as long as productivity, sales quickly; the domestic market, due in large size heavy truck tubeless rims with lower utilization rates, as is also facing a huge incremental market. The short term, the project-based products to the international market, mainly supporting dragon domestic passenger cars, buses and heavy trucks Fukuda. The project has now entered a stage of purchase of equipment installation, commissioning will be completed in the third quarter production.

Hing Man Super raise steel ring for the 4 million project car wheel production projects with a total investment of 300 million yuan, the product is high quality steel wheels car locally, the annual sales income of 340 million yuan. The project is expected to be put into operation on the first half of 2011.

Hing Man Wheel of non-fund-raising projects, 2 million tubeless wheel, the main market for light vehicles, micro-off will be in production in 2010. The above project is finished, the new capacity by 2010, four million in 2010 and then the new capacity 4 million, up 16 million of capacity to address capacity bottlenecks, according to the company bore, three years to reach production capacity Hing Man Wheel 20 million. Sign has been in short supply in our products, the project will soon put into production over production for the foreseeable revenues and profits within three years will maintain high growth.

Earnings forecasts and investment ratings:

Capacity since 2009, the company has been very tight and OEMs to the months of high incidence to goods, the company in order to maintain client stability, give up the foreign orders, even if it is still only part to meet the needs of OEMs. The next three years, the company increased production capacity will help the company seize the rapid growth of the domestic car market and the international transfer of auto parts to China, the trend of big opportunities; the company’s large-size items and car tubeless wheel projects, will help companies to increase product structure, to achieve high-end product strategy. The next three years, the company’s revenue and earnings growth will remain high, estimated EPS for 2010-2011 were 0.51 yuan and 0.65 yuan, taking into account its high growth, given the “Recommended” investment rating.

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Biologist Nick Bos tells Wikinews about ‘self-medicating’ ants

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Nick Bos, of the University of Helsinki, studies “the amazing adaptations social insects have evolved in order to fight the extreme parasite pressure they experience”. In a recently-accepted Evolution paper Bos and colleagues describe ants appearing to self-medicate.

I have no doubt that as time goes on, there will be more and more cases documented

The team used Formica fusca, an ant species that can form thousand-strong colonies. This common black ant eats other insects, and also aphid honeydew. It often nests in tree stumps or under rocks and foraging workers can sometimes be spotted climbing trees.

Some ants were infected with Beauveria bassiana, a fungus. Infected ants chose food laced with toxic hydrogen peroxide, whereas healthy ants avoided it. Hydrogen peroxide reduced infected ant fatalities by 15%, and the ants varied their intake depending upon how high the peroxide concentration was.

In the wild, Formica fusca can encounter similar chemicals in aphids and dead ants. The Independent reported self-medicating ants a first among insects.

Bos obtained his doctorate from the University of Copenhagen. He began postdoctoral research at Helsinki in 2012. He also runs the AntyScience blog. The blog aims to help address “a gap between scientists and ‘the general public’.” The name is a pun referencing ants, its primary topic, science, and “non-scientific” jargon-free communication. He now discusses his work with Wikinews.

((Wikinews)) What first attracted you to researching ants?

Nick Bos Me and a studymate were keeping a lot of animals during our studies, from beetles, to butterflies and mantids, to ants. We had the ants in an observation nest, and I could just look at them for hours, watching them go about. This was in my third year of Biology study I think. After a while I needed to start thinking about an internship for my M.Sc. studies, and decided to write a couple of professors. I ended up going to the Centre for Social Evolution at the University of Copenhagen where I did a project on learning in Ants under supervision of Prof. Patrizia d’Ettorre. I liked it so much there I ended up doing a PhD and I’ve been working on social insects ever since.

((Wikinews)) What methods and equipment were used for this investigation?

NB This is a fun one. I try to work on a very low budget, and like to build most of the experimental setups myself (we actually have equipment in the lab nicknamed the ‘Nickinator’, ‘i-Nick’ and the ‘Nicktendo64’). There’s not that much money in fundamental science at the moment, so I try to cut the costs wherever possible. We collected wild colonies of Formica fusca by searching through old tree-trunks in old logging sites in southern Finland. We then housed the ants in nests I made using Y-tong [aerated concrete]. It’s very soft stone that you can easily carve. We carved out little squares for the ants to live in (covered with old CD covers to prevent them escaping!). We then drilled a tunnel to a pot (the foraging arena), where the ants got the choice between the food with medicine and the food without.
We infected the ants by preparing a solution of the fungus Beauveria bassiana. Afterwards, each ant was dipped in the solution for a couple of seconds, dried on a cloth and put in the nest. After exposing the ants to the fungus, we took pictures of each foraging arena three times per day, and counted how many ants were present on each food-source.
This gave us the data that ants choose more medicine after they have been infected.
The result that healthy ants die sooner when ingesting ROS [Reactive Oxygen Species, the group of chemicals that includes hydrogen peroxide] but infected ants die less was obtained in another way (as you have to ‘force feed’ the ROS, as healthy ants, when given the choice, ignore that food-source.)
For this we basically put colonies on a diet of either food with medicine or without for a while. And afterwards either infected them or not. Then for about two weeks we count every day how many ants died. This gives us the data to do a so-called survival analysis.
We measured the ROS-concentration in the bodies of ants after they ingested the food with the medicine using a spectrophotometer. By adding certain chemicals, the ROS can be measured using the emission of light of a certain wave-length.
The detrimental effect of ROS on spores was easy to measure. We mixed different concentrations of ROS with the spores, plated them out on petridishes with an agar-solution where fungus can grow on. A day after, we counted how many spores were still alive.

((Wikinews)) How reliable do you consider your results to be?

NB The results we got are very reliable. We had a lot of colonies containing a lot of ants, and wherever possible we conducted the experiment blind. This means the experimenter doesn’t know which ants belong to which treatment, so it’s impossible to influence the results with ‘observer bias’. However, of course this is proof in just one species. It is hard to extrapolate to other ants, as different species lead very different lives.
At the moment it seems that sick ants mostly take care of the problem themselves

((Wikinews)) Where did the ants and fungus you used come from? How common are they in the wild?

NB For ants, see above about the collection.
This species of fungus does appear in Finland, but we chose to use a different strain from Denmark (with thanks to Prof. J. Eilenberg and the laboratory technician Louise Lee Munch Larsen from the University of Copenhagen). Animals can adapt to local strains (‘local adaptation’), and just to make sure we thought it would be good to use a strain of fungus that the ants definitely did not evolve specific resistances against. This means that the reaction of the ants (to self-medicate) is very likely to be a general response, and not just against their local fungal enemies.

((Wikinews)) Are there any ethical considerations around exposing ants to toxins and parasites?

NB Legally, no. Insects do not have any ‘rights’ as such regarding ethics. That said, we do take measures to not make them ‘suffer unnecessarily’. For example, dissections are done when the ants are anesthetized (either by CO2 or Ice), and when ants need to be killed, we do it in alcohol, which kills the ants in a matter of seconds. So while the ants do not have ‘rights’ as such, we still try to handle them with as much respect as possible (even though the experiment involves infecting them with a deadly fungus).
But even though the 12,000 ants in our study sounds like a lot (and it is), this is negligible in the ‘grand scheme of things’. It has been calculated that in the Netherlands alone, nearly a trillion insects die against just the licence-plates of cars every six months. I don’t own a car, so that means I’m excused right? 😉

((Wikinews)) This is the first evidence for self-medicating insects. How widespread do you think this phenomenon could be in reality?

NB It’s not actually the first evidence for self-medication in insects. Moths and fruit flies definitely do it, and there’s evidence in honey bees and bumble-bees as well. So it seems to be quite wide-spread in the insect world. I have no doubt that as time goes on, there will be more and more cases documented. Insects (and animals in general) seem to be quite good at taking care of themselves.

((Wikinews)) How might ants locate healing substances in the wild?

NB Very good question. This is something that’s important to know. If they would only do it in the lab, the behaviour wouldn’t be very interesting. We have some guesses where they might get it from, but at the moment we don’t know yet. That said, I plan to investigate this question (among others) further [in] the next couple of years.

((Wikinews)) For your PhD you researched ants’ scent-based communications. Could healthy ants perhaps tell other ants are infected and encourage this behaviour?

NB There’s not much known about this. There’s conflicting evidence about whether sick ants actually smell different from healthy ones or not. At the moment it seems that sick ants mostly take care of the problem themselves. Sick ants stop most interaction with nestmates and especially brood, and leave the nest to die in isolation. This is probably for reducing chance of infecting nestmates, but of course it also reduces the work load of their nest-mates, as their corpse doesn’t have to be dragged out etc.
So as an answer to the question, I would find it unlikely that such a behaviour would evolve, but it’s not known yet.

((Wikinews)) Ants generally avoided the peroxide if they were healthy, but in some circumstances might they try to build resistance against infection in advance?

NB Who knows? Also not known yet unfortunately. That said, there is a very interesting study about resin collection in ants. Wood ants collect tree-resin, which has anti-microbial properties. They collect this even if not infected, and when you infect them, they don’t collect more of the resin than normal. So basically it seems like they collect it in order to keep diseases out of the nest, so they stop the disease before it can actually infect them.

((Wikinews)) Are there plans to follow this research up? Might you research other species? Other substances?

NB I first want to find out where they get it from in nature. There might be many sources of medicine (recent evidence suggests that tobacco plays a similar role for bumble bees). Dalial Freitak, who is also on this paper is currently running tests with Ph.D. student Siiri Fuchs (who is also on the paper) with other substances to see if any have the same effect as H2O2 [hydrogen peroxide].
Once the behaviour has been well described in this species of ant, I might do a comparison with other species. For example, once we find the source of the medicine in nature… would species without access to this source also have evolved the same behaviour in the lab? And if so… where would they get it from?
Also… can ants medicate their friends? 🙂

((Wikinews)) What other research are you working on right now?

NB Phew…lots! 🙂
I still have some questions left unanswered from my Ph.D. work related to how ants recognize who is a friend and who isn’t. I also started collaborating with Prof. Michael Poulsen from the University of Copenhagen on immunity in fungus-growing termites, as well as their chemical recognition abilities. Furthermore we’re working on social parasitism in wood-ants (ants have lots of animals exploiting the nest for shelter and resources, which all somehow have to get in to the fortress without getting killed).

Science and Technology
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  • 31 May 2020: SpaceX successfully launches its first crewed spaceflight
  • 22 May 2020: Astronomer tells Wikinews about discovery of closest black hole known so far
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Actor Doris Day dies at 97

Thursday, May 16, 2019

US singer, actor, and animal rights advocate Doris Day died on Monday at her home in Carmel Valley, California. Day made many studio albums, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and rescued animals from Hurricane Katrina.

Day’s animal foundation said she had been in otherwise “excellent physical health for her age” but had recently had pneumonia. Day, they said, desired no memorials or grave markers.

Fashion designer Mary Quant described Day to the BBC in 2002: “Doris Day was America. Doris Day was everything that was wonderful about America. She was all woman, as well as being the girl next door. She had it all.”

Day was born Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff in Cincinnati, Ohio in the United States in 1922. The daughter of a music teacher, she had early planned on a dancing career but broke her leg in a car-train collision at age 12. She began singing first on Cincinnati radio and then in clubs. Reportedly, her name was shortened to “Doris Day,” imitating a song called “Day after Day,” so it would fit on a sign.

Over the course of her singing career, Day made 29 studio albums and performed live with big bands, such as Les Brown and His Band of Renown. Day was paid more than any other female singer by 1946. In film, she was successful in romantic comedies and musicals.

Though she was nominated for the Oscar for the 1959 romantic comedy Pillow Talk, opposite Rock Hudson, Day personally considered her best film performance to be her portrayal of singer Ruth Etting in the James Cagney film Love Me or Leave Me. She also performed in a film by director Alfred Hitchcock, The Man Who Knew Too Much.

For much of her career, Day presented a very wholesome image. “I have the unfortunate reputation of being Miss Goody Two-Shoes, America’s Virgin, and all that,” Day said in her 1976 autobiography, “so I’m afraid it’s going to shock some people for me to say this, but I staunchly believe no two people should get married until they have lived together[.]”

Day made her last movie in 1968 and, with debts left behind after the death of her third husband, hosted The Doris Day Show on television until 1973, at which point she focused her career primarily on animal rights, founding the Doris Day Animal Foundation.

Humane Society executive director Sara Amundson said Day “founded one of the first national animal protection organizations dedicated to legislative remedies for the worst animal abuse[,]” which “led to dozens of bills, final rules and policies on the federal level[.]” Amundson cited improvements to the treatment of research chimpanzees and the ending of animal abuse videos.

In 1985, Day invited former co-star Hudson, then visibly deteriorating from AIDS, to appear on television together as part of Day’s talk show Doris Day’s Best Friends. Although dogs were the purported subject of the episode, Hudson’s deterioration became public knowledge; news spread that a star such as Rock Hudson had AIDS, which at the time was highly stigmatized.

When interviewed by the BBC, Day said of Hudson, “Nothing was ever talked about as far as his private life, I must tell you. Many people would ask me, ‘Is Rock Hudson really gay?’ and I said, ‘It’s something that I will not discuss. First of all, I know nothing about his private life, and if I did I wouldn’t discuss it, so I can’t tell you one thing about him except that he is a nice man.'”

Day had one child, record producer Terry Melcher, with her first husband, musician Al Jorden. She was also married in turn to George Weidler, Marty Melcher, and Barry Comden, whom she divorced in 1981. She said Jorden had been physically abusive to her.

In a 2006 interview with magazine The Bark, Day said, “I’ve been through everything. I always said I was like those round-bottomed circus dolls — you know, those dolls you could push down and they’d come back up? I’ve always been like that. I’ve always said, ‘No matter what happens, if I get pushed down, I’m going to come right back up.'”

Day’s son, Terry Melcher, predeceased her in 2004.

What Do You Mean By Search Engine Optimization

By S. Reeves Morris.

It’s critical to draw as many customers to your business website as you can.

That’s a no-brainer. But sometimes actually accomplishing this goal is anything but simple. With all the new rules put out by the major search engines, getting your site in front of your potential customer is often like navigating a very complex and technical labyrinth. We’ve broken down search engine optimization (SEO) into some manageable bites so you can start with the basics.

The Role of Keywords

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If you have run a keyword popularity report on Wordtracker.com looking for popular Search Engine Optimization terms and created a list of the most searched words in your field, you know that you need include these words in your website in order to be found by the search engines. But how should you do that?

SEO, in Denver and nationally used to simply be a matter of placing keywords in specific places so when a search engine does its searching, your site is found easily. Search engines operate with spiders, or web crawlers, that crawl through websites and find those that have words most closely matching the words in the search bar of the browser. Keywords in page titles, page descriptions, and what web designers call META tags were the ones that The search engine spiders looked for.

Due to this, website designers started to put keywords into the content at alarming rates. You might have seen an example of this when you read an article that seemed to be incredibly redundant. The copywriter was using keywords on a large scale to attract the attention of web crawlers and therefore, place at the top of the search results.

Currently, this issue better understood by search engines like Google, who are looking for websites that are the most user-friendly. And user-friendly does not mean the same thing as keyword dense. Because of this, keyword placement is much more natural. Don’t overload your copy with keywords, and don’t place keywords in your page titles or descriptions nor in your META tags that have nothing to do with the website or content on that page. You will not attract the latest form of web crawler.

Understanding Links

To achieve even more precise Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Denver businesses have tried joining linking services or automatic link communities. The motivation for making use of these activities has been to boost their ranking on search engines by showing the web crawlers that they are linked to from dozens of websites across the Internet. The problem with this is similar to the keyword trend described above.

Today, search engines use a number of factors to rank their results. They match keywords, yes, but they also look at the usability of the site by analyzing the websites that link to it. So if you sell patio furniture and you have links to your site from pool companies and gardening websites, this is a good sign that your site offers quality information recommended by other professionals.

If you use a linking service that simply sets up reciprocal links between your site and random other sites, such as a bus driver, the search engine’s spider will see this as a trick to get higher search results and not an indication of the usefulness of your site. So employ only valid techniques that actually provide value to your audience.

About the Author: Mr. Morris runs New Media, a Colorado web design Company located in downtown Denver, Colorado . Mr. Morris is a highly respected Denver Search Engine Optimization specialist, he constantly develops and stays current with all the latest SEO & Link Building Techniques.

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Toothpaste fills cavities without drilling

Thursday, February 24, 2005

A paste containing synthetic tooth enamel can seal small cavities without drilling. Kazue Yamagishi and colleagues at the FAP Dental Institute in Tokyo say that the paste can repair small cavities in 15 minutes.

Currently, fillers don’t stick to such small cavities so dentists must drill bigger holes. Hydroxyapatite crystals, of which natural enamel is made, bond with teeth to repair tiny areas of damage.

Yamagishi and colleagues have tested their paste on a lower premolar tooth that showed early signs of decay. They found that the synthetic enamel merged with the natural enamel. The synthetic enamel also appears to make teeth stronger which will improve resistance to future decay. As with drilling, however, there is still the potential for pain: The paste is strongly acidic to encourage crystal growth and causes inflammation if it touches the gums.

The paste is reported in the journal Nature.

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.

The Gps Devices You Can Count On

Submitted by: Dave Text

A GPS or Global Positioning System is used to determine the user’s current location, and the best route and directions for the destination. These positioning systems are now widely used in a variety of devices such as smart phones, automobile navigation systems, handheld devices, laptops and other such devices.

The working of this system is relatively simple to comprehend. In the working of a positioning system a GPS receiver calculates its position by measuring the distance between itself and three or more satellites. Since the signal travels at a known speed, measuring the time delay between transmission and reception of each GPS microwave signal gives the distance to each satellite, thus the calculations can be precise.

While doing this, the signals also carry information about the satellites’ location. Thus by determining the position of, and distance to, at least three satellites, the receiver can compute its position using trilateration. The GPS receivers usually do not have perfectly accurate clocks and therefore track one or more additional satellites to correct the receiver’s clock error. In such a way your location is taken out correctly and is displayed through the navigator.

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In general, the receivers used in a typical positioning system are composed of an antenna, tuned to the frequencies transmitted by the satellites, receiver-processors, and a highly stable clock. Some of them also include a LCD display for providing location and speed information to the user.

The number of channels it can operate with and can monitor simultaneously describes the capacity of a reciver. Before a couple of years the numbers of channels in the receiver were limited to four or five, but has progressively increased over the years so that receivers typically have between twelve and twenty channels in the present scenario.

This system is now commonly used in a number of devices. One such use of the GPS system is in the recreational and sports activities. This allows the professionals, navigational and other important details using their device anywhere they could get the signals. That is why such devices are very popular among hikers, hunters, skiers, mountain bikers, and other such outdoor adventure buffs.

A GPS system is very essential in keeping the track of the location, and to find way to a specified destination, or know what direction and how fast you are traveling can utilize the benefits of the global positioning system or the GPS.

GPS is also widely used in the automobiles industry as well. There are some basic GPS applications that are used to provide emergency roadside assistance at the push of a button. It works by transmitting the current position of the user to a dispatch center.

Many systems that are more advanced and show your position on a navigation map are also available. These offer not one but man features apart from the navigational map; for instance, you can choose and select the best possible way to a desired location. You can even save your preferences in this type of advance systems.

About the Author: Indulge your man’s secret fetish by getting him a GPS. Get

GPS reviews

, information and more at GPS-reviews.us.

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