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October 2, 2012

Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, former publisher of The New York Times, dies aged 86

Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, former publisher of The New York Times, dies aged 86

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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Former New York Times publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger died at 86 years old on Saturday. According to his family Sulzberger had had a long illness.

He was known as “Punch”, his nickname when he was a child.

In 1963, Sulzberger became publisher of The New York Times and chairman and chief executive of The New York Times Company. He retired as publisher in 1992. In 1997, Sulzberger left the chief executive position and was succeeded by his son, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr.. While Sulzberger was the paper’s publisher it won 31 Pulitzer Prizes.

Adolph Ochs, Sulzberger’s grandfather, bought the New York Times in 1896.

A national correspondent for the New York Times, John Schwartz, wrote on Twitter: “For those of us working at the NYT, the passing of Arthur O. Sulzberger has the sharp feel of a death in the family”.



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August 24, 2011

Strauss-Kahn case dismissed

Strauss-Kahn case dismissed – Wikinews, the free news source

Strauss-Kahn case dismissed

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dominique Strauss-Kahn
Image: International Monetary Fund.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn was freed of sexual assault charges yesterday after the New York courts found the accusations against him not credible. After the shocking arrest three months ago when Nafissatou Diallo accused Strauss-Kahn, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, of assaulting her, the prosecutor deemed the accuser not credible due to previous false rape claims.

The New York Times quoted Strauss-Kahn saying the case has been “a nightmare for me and my family”. Taiwan News also quoted Strauss-Kahn who said, “I want to thank all the friends in France and in the United States who have believed in my innocence, and to the thousands of people who sent us their support personally and in writing. I am most deeply grateful to my wife and family who have gone through this ordeal with me.”

On May 14, Diallo claimed that Strauss-Kahn forced her to interact in sexual activity in his hotel suite. DNA on Diallo’s clothes confirmed an interaction but whether the encounter was forced or not was unsure. In July, she falsely told reporters she was assaulted in her homeland which erased her credibility.

Diallo and her legal team made a last attempt in the criminal case, filing a motion on Monday asking that Mr. Vance’s office be disqualified but early Tuesday morning Justice Obus denied the motion. The encounter between Diallo and Strauss-Kahn was deemed to be consensual leading to Strauss-Kahn’s freedom.

Strauss-Kahn is undergoing accusation in another sexual case in France. His lawyers have said this is also a false account.



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August 13, 2011

Renewed concern over nuclear response following atomic bomb anniversary

Renewed concern over nuclear response following atomic bomb anniversary

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Saturday, August 13, 2011

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Fukushima I nuclear plant after the accident.
Image: Digital Globe.

Anti-nuclear protest in April, following the accidents at Fukushima-Daiichi.
Image: Steve Herman.

Devastation in Haramachi-ku, Minamisōma, following the Fukushima accident.
Image: Jun Teramoto.

US Navy sailors clearing debris from a harbor in Oshima.
Image: Eva-Marie Ramsaran.

As Japan last weekend marked the 66th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, concern continues to mount about new revelations of elevated radiation readings following the March 11 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

Evidence of unsafe levels of radiation within the food supply chain continues to emerge, with Japanese media reporting on Wednesday that a Greenpeace study has found radioactivity exceeding government-mandated levels in four out of eight fish samples taken from the Fukushima Prefecture.

The news comes as media reports of recent weeks have highlighted spikes in radiation readings at the crippled plant. On August 3, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) reported potentially deadly levels of radiation in the damaged reactors, including one reading of 10 sieverts per hour. Such levels are enough to kill a person “within a few weeks”, according to the World Nuclear Association, and are 250 times the readings recorded immediately after the disaster.

The radiation findings have further called into question the response of government and industry to the crisis, with renewed allegations of incompetence and dishonesty being levelled against Japanese authorities over the transparency of information released in the months following the disaster. TEPCO only conceded that “partial meltdowns” had occurred in up to three of the Fukushima site’s reactors last month.

In testimony to Japanese parliament in late July, Professor Tatsuhiko Kodama, head of the Radioisotope Centre at the University of Tokyo, condemned the government’s response to the catastrophe. His criticism centered on inadequate radiation measurement methods and the failure to properly protect communities potentially affected by radioactivity from the stricken plant, citing the example of school bus routes passing through areas, such as Iitate-Mura, with unsafe levels of radiation.

Kodama says the “uranium equivalent” of the radiation from Fukushima amounts to “20 Hiroshima bombs”, while the natural decrease in radioactivity caused by the disaster is far slower than that caused by an atomic bomb: one-tenth against one-thousandth of original levels after a year.

“We should recognize from the start that just like Chernobyl, Fukushima I Nuclear Plant has released radioactive materials equivalent in the amount to tens of nuclear bombs,” he said during his parliamentary testimony. “The resulting contamination is far worse than the contamination by a nuclear bomb.”

Further criticism was levelled against authorities this week when The New York Times revealed that shortly after the initial disaster Tokyo bureaucrats had failed to warn evacuees in the Tsushima district that wind patterns were blowing radiation spewing from the Fukushima site towards them.

Despite the recent revelations, the ongoing fallout from the catastrophe has largely slipped from the mainstream international news agenda. Australian online publication Crikey! last week denounced the poor airing of contamination and accountability issues in the Japanese press, claiming it has been left to bloggers and social media to accurately portray the still-unfolding crisis.

It is in this context that unofficial citizen groups have begun conducting their own measurements of radiation levels at various sites around Japan. Yesterday, Al-Jazeera reported on one such group, called Safecast, whose US and Japanese investigators have discovered disturbing readings not identified by official government agencies. For instance, on August 7 the group uncovered ground readings of 20,000 counts per minute 28 kilometres from the stricken plant, well outside the government’s 20-kilometre mandatory evacuation zone.

“Getting into this has showed us there is a lack of data everywhere,” says Sean Bonner, the group’s director.

The Al-Jazeera report also quotes Jyunichi Tokuyama, a specialist with the Iwate Prefecture Agricultural and Fisheries Department, who said he was shocked to find radioactive hotspots up to 300 kilometres from Fukushima.

“The biggest cause of this contamination is the rice straw being fed to the cows, which was highly radioactive,” Tokuyama told Al Jazeera, reflecting fears about the effects of the disaster in terms of contaminated food supplies.

In the wake of the ongoing crisis, the Japanese government has pledged to reduce the country’s reliance on nuclear power, reflecting widespread public concern.



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May 22, 2011

Libya releases four foreign journalists

Libya releases four foreign journalists – Wikinews, the free news source

Libya releases four foreign journalists

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

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Wednesday saw Libya release four journalists, detained for six weeks and, accused of entering the country illegally. The two Americans, one British, and Spanish correspondents were taken to Tripoli’s Rixo hotel upon their release.

James Foley, Clare Morgana Gillis, Nigel Chandler and Spanish photographer Manu Brabo were captured on April 4 by Muammar al-Gaddafi’s military; the day prior to their release, a suspended sentence of one year and $154 fine were imposed for their illegal entry to Libya.

Moussa Ibrahim, a government spokesman, said the detainees are free to stay and carry on reporting in Libya or, if they requested to leave, could be escorted to the Tunisian border. Claiming their detention was due to confusion over the journalists’ identities, and citing foreign combatants fighting with rebel forces, as the cause of the mix-up, Ibrahim offered an apology and stated that, as journalists, they are harmless.

The journalists worked for The New York Times, GlobalPost, the Atlantic, USA Today, and the BBC. The fate of South African photographer Anton Hammerl is still unclear and he is believed to be still missing.

The foreign journalists were held in different detention centres around Tripoli and refused contact with the outside world.

The conflict between uprising rebel forces and Gaddafi’s Libyan government continues from February this year.

Under the UN, NATO forces are currently carrying out air strikes across Libya recently focussing attacks in Tripoli. Aiming to protect civillians from Col Muammer Gaddafi trying to quash the anti-government rebellion.



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April 7, 2011

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

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

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Logo of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Logo of the American Civil Liberties Union.

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.

Case background

2009 File photo of Bradley Manning.
Image: Daniel Joseph Barnhart Clark.

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.

The Manning connection

Gun camera footage of the airstrike of July 12, 2007 in Baghdad, showing the slaying of Namir Noor-Eldeen and a dozen other civilians by a U.S. helicopter.
Image: WikiLeaks.

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.

The United States Government versus WikiLeaks

Logo of WikiLeaks.

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.

State-of-the-(Black)-Art, or CyberWarfare

Logo of Twitter.

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.

Seal of the Catholic University of Leuven.

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.

Views of a security expert

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:

Wikinews

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.

Logo of the Tor project.

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).
Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png 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.

Liberty, and the Electronic Frontier

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:

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png 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.
Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png 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.
Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png 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.
Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png 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.)

Birgitta Jonsdottir responds

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:

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png How did you feel when you were notified the US Government wanted your Twitter account, and message, details? Were you shocked?

Birgitta Jonsdottir’s Facebook profile picture.

  • 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.
Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png 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.
Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png 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
Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png 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
Wikinews commentary.svg
Do you believe the U.S. government should have the right to access data on foreign nationals using services such as Twitter?
Add or view comments
Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png 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.
Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png 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.
Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png 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.
Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png 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.
Wikinews
This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.
Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png 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.
Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png 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.

Ongoing U.S. Government versus WikiLeaks fallout

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.

Related news

Wikinews
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  • “US State department official resigns after Wikileaks comments” — Wikinews, March 13, 2011
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March 18, 2011

New York Times to start charging for access to web news

New York Times to start charging for access to web news

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Friday, March 18, 2011

Cquote1.svg The challenge now is to put a price on our work without walling ourselves off from the global network … Cquote2.svg

Arthur Sulzberger Jr., NYT chairman

The New York Times announced on Thursday that it will start charging for full access to NYTimes.com, its online version. Beginning March 28, U.S. visitors who do not subscribe to the print edition will be allowed access to 20 articles a month. A digital subscription to the website will be required to read additional content.

The fee plan for Canadians is already in effect, allowing the NYT to “fine-tune the customer experience”, according to the announcement.

Unlimited access to articles will continue to be free for those users reaching the Times through links from search engines, blogs, and social media like Facebook and Twitter. The NYTimes.com home page and individual section front pages will continue be freely accessible.

The home page of nytimes.com.

The NYT unsuccessfully tried a pay wall six years ago. Due to declining profits and readership of its print edition, it is ready to try again.

According to comScore, a marketing research company that measures online traffic, NYTimes.com had 31.4 million individual visitors in February. It is the most-read newspaper site in the world, reported The Guardian.

“The challenge now is to put a price on our work without walling ourselves off from the global network, to make sure we continue to engage with the widest possible audience”, wrote Arthur Sulzberger Jr., NYT company chairman.



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March 17, 2011

Owsley Stanley, icon of 1960s counterculture, dies at 76

Owsley Stanley, icon of 1960s counterculture, dies at 76

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Owsley Stanley, mass-producer of LSD, the drug underlying much of the culture of the 1960s California hippie era, died Sunday in a car accident in Australia at the age of 76, his family announced on Tuesday.

Psychedelically painted school bus of Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters

According to The New York Times, “Mr. Stanley lent the ’60s a great deal of its color — like White Lightning, Monterey Purple and Blue Cheer, the varieties of his LSD that were among the most popular.”

Stanley, a talented, self-taught chemist who was known for the purity of his LSD, supplied the drug to such music groups as the Grateful Dead, the Beatles, and Jimi Hendrix, and provided the acid for Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters, whose antics were recorded by Tom Wolfe in the The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. The Rolling Stones once called his acid “the best LSD in the world … the genuine Owsley.”

He was also an early sound engineer and designed the high-fidelity sound system for the live rock concerts of the Grateful Dead, known as the “wall of sound”. It was essentially a massive public address system made up of 600 speakers that enabled musicians to mix their sound from the stage and reduce distortion. His recordings of Grateful Dead live performances, some having been commercially released, are valued as a documentary of their early music.

Sam Cutler, formerly the tour manager of the Rolling Stones, said of Stanley: “He was a very sophisticated man, an amalgam of scientist and engineer, chemist and artist.”

Cquote1.svg I remember the first time I took acid and walked outside, and the cars were kissing the parking meters Cquote2.svg

—Owsley Stanley in Rolling Stone Magazine, 2007

Stanley was born in Kentucky and studied engineering briefly at the University of Virginia before dropping out and joining the Air Force. In 1958, he moved to California and worked at a wide variety of jobs, before enrolling at the UC at Berkeley in 1963, at a time when drug use was pervasive. He got his first taste of LSD in April 1964 which transformed him. “I remember the first time I took acid and walked outside, and the cars were kissing the parking meters,” he said in an interview with the Rolling Stone Magazine in 2007.

Deciding to provide his own LSD to ensure its quality, Stanley created his own lab to produce it. According to The Washington Post, “Working at first from a makeshift bathroom laboratory in Berkeley, Mr. Stanley produced at least 1 million doses of LSD between 1965 and 1967.” His LSD was widely distributed. The lab was raided and he spent two years in prison.

Stanley moved to Australia in the 1980s when he become convinced the Northern Hemisphere would be destroyed in the coming of a new ice age. He lived in the Australian bush near Cairns, Queensland.


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January 8, 2011

Former CIA agent indicted after leaking classified information

Former CIA agent indicted after leaking classified information

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Saturday, January 8, 2011

Crime and law
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The seal of the CIA

Jeffrey Alexander Sterling, an ex-officer of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), was taken into custody Thursday by federal agents in St. Louis, Missouri. He was indicted on six separate counts of unauthorized disclosure of national defense information, as well as four additional charges: mail fraud, unlawfully keeping national defense information, obstruction of justice, and unauthorized conveyance of government property. Sterling, aged 43, had been employed by the CIA from May 1993 until he was fired in January 2002. During his arraignment, a judge declared that he would be held until a Monday hearing because the government called him a danger to the community.

Sterling, an African American lawyer who lives in O’Fallon, allegedly provided classified information to New York Times reporter James Risen, some of which was incorporated into Risen’s 2006 State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration. Risen, who wrote about the CIA’s involvement in Iran’s nuclear program, has not named any of his sources even after being subpeonaed twice; Risen was not explicitly named in Sterling’s indictment, but his involvement in the alleged leak is strongly supported by its contents, and a US government official confirmed the connection to NBC News.

The indictment stated that, for two years during his career with the CIA, Sterling had been involved in “a classified clandestine operational program designed to conduct intelligence activities related to the weapons capabilities of certain countries.” An anonymous source close to the investigation said one of those countries was Iran. While managing CIA operations, Sterling also handled a “human asset,” whose name he is also accused of releasing.

From 2000, Sterling had been engaged in various disputes with the agency. According to a story authored by Risen for The New York Times in March 2002, Sterling’s supervisor during the Iran program said, “You kind of stick out as a big black guy.” The comment was made after Sterling made requests for new assignments concerning Iran, requests declined because his appearance could interfere with the cases. Sterling, sued the CIA for racial discrimination shortly after being fired, but was unable to come to a settlement in February 2003, and allegedly began leaking the classified information soon after that. The indictment claimed the motive behind the leak was retaliation for the unsuccessful lawsuit.

Edward B. MacMahon Jr., a Virginia attorney for Sterling, said, “He has always maintained his innocence throughout the course of this entire investigation. We’ll seek to prove that in court.” MacMahon also said trial will be held at a U.S. District Court in Alexandria, as the case began in that state. Every charge against Sterling comes with the possibility of 10–20 years of jail time.

US Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer made a statement, saying that “Sterling placed at risk our national security and the life of an individual working on a classified mission.” A spokesperson for the CIA said, “Separate and apart from any specific instance, including this matter involving a former agency officer who left the CIA years ago, we take very seriously the unauthorized disclosure of classified information.” The New York Times did not comment on the matter.

The Obama administration has already taken action in several similar leaks involving government officers. The administration has also initiated an investigation into Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, after the site’s release of thousands of classified documents.



Related news

  • “Wikileaks to release thousands of secret documents; ‘international embarrassment’ likely” — Wikinews, November 27, 2010

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August 10, 2010

Former US Senator Ted Stevens among five killed in Alaska plane crash

Former US Senator Ted Stevens among five killed in Alaska plane crash

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

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A map of Alaska

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Ted Stevens Sean O' Keefe
On the left, Former Senator Ted Stevens in 2005; on the right, Former NASA administrator Sean O’Keefe in 2004.

The wreckage of the plane
Image: NTSB.

Former US Senator Ted Stevens, 86, and former NASA administrator Sean O’Keefe, 54, were on an airplane that crashed in southwest Alaska, the Associated Press reports. A family spokesperson later confirmed that Stevens died in the crash, following earlier conflicting reports about his status. Both O’Keefe and his teenage son survived, according to a former NASA spokesperson.

In addition to the former Senator and former NASA chief, there were seven other passengers, The New York Times reports. Of those, five were reported to have died. The plane was heading to a fishing lodge near Lake Aleknagik when it crashed. Senator Stevens’ body has been recovered.

The Alaska National Guard was called in at 7:00 p.m. AKDT (0300 UTC) Monday, and arrived at the crash site about 7:30 a.m. AKDT (1530 UTC) Tuesday. Severe weather has made finding the crash site difficult for rescue personnel. The National Transportation Safety Board, or NTSB, said it was sending a team of investigators to the crash site, which is unusual for crashes of private aircraft.

As of 10:00 a.m. AKDT (1800 UTC), three of the survivors have been airlifted from the site by the United States Coast Guard.

Ted Stevens was born on November 18, 1923 in Indianapolis, Indiana. He began serving as a US Senator for Alaska in 1968, and held the postition until 2009, when he was defeated in a reelection bid by Mark Begich. He was also facing corruption charges at the time, which were later dropped after an initial conviction when it was found that prosecutors had withheld evidence from Stevens’ defense attorneys. In 1978, Stevens survived a plane crash in Anchorage, although the incident claimed the life of his first wife, Ann.

Sean O’Keefe was nominated as a NASA administrator in 2001 by then-president George W. Bush, and led the space organization through shaky times, such as the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. He resigned in 2005 to become the chancellor of Louisiana State University.



Related news

  • “Senator Ted Stevens loses re-election bid in Alaska ballot” — Wikinews, November 19, 2008
  • “Alaskan Democrat gains in US Senate race”. Wikinews, November 18, 2008
  • “Three US Senate seats still undecided”. Wikinews, November 12, 2008
  • Alaska senator Ted Stevens indicted in corruption scandal” — Wikinews, July 29, 2008
  • “US Senator Ted Stevens convicted on 7 counts” — Wikinews, October 27, 2008
  • “US Justice Department to withdraw Stevens charges” — Wikinews, April 1, 2009

Sister links

  • Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg 2010 Alaska Turbo Otter crash

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July 25, 2010

BP CEO Tony Hayward to resign, say analysts

BP CEO Tony Hayward to resign, say analysts

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Economy and business
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Hayward at the World Economic Forum in 2008
Image: World Economic Forum.

BP Chief Executive Anthony Bryan “Tony” Hayward is negotiating the terms of his departure and will stand down from the company; effectively taking responsibility for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, according to journalists. The New York Times cites an anonymous source “close to the board”, and the BBC’s business editor makes a similar analysis. It is expected that President and CEO of the company’s Gulf Coast Restoration Organization Bob Dudley, a Mississippi native, member of the Board of Directors, and most senior American executive of BP, will replace Tony Hayward as Chief Executive.

A report by the BBC World Service said a BP press release asserted that, “[Hayward] has the full confidence of the Board.” The resignation, and change of leadership, at the multinational UK-based oil firm are expected to be discussed by the company’s Board of Directors on Monday, and will potentially be ratified as early as Tuesday.

Hayward’s position was, essentially, undercut when United States President Barack Obama said he “would have fired him.”



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