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January 4, 2012

Suspect arrested in Los Angeles arson rampage case

Suspect arrested in Los Angeles arson rampage case

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

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In the Los Angeles, US arson spree, where more than 50 attacks occurred in four days, local police arrested a German national Monday. The suspect, reportedly 24-year-old Harry Burkhart, was stopped in the vicinity of West Hollywood due to the appearance of his van, matching a description law enforcement authorities issued earlier.

The city saw numerous arson attacks start on December 30, with 17 vehicles and structures set alight. Many of the incidents took place in driveways and carports. In one case, a former home of The Doors late lead singer Jim Morrison was damaged. Despite increased attention by the police force and residents, eleven of the fires occurred in under two hours up until 2:50am (local time) on Monday.

Law enforcement revealed that, only hours before these fires, the State Department alerted the Los Angeles police (LAPD) about Harry Burkhart, believed to be connected to arson attacks in Germany. Acting on that information, police were searching for a blue Dodge minivan. Just before 3am that morning, reserve sheriff deputy Shervin Lalezary — a real-estate lawyer who volunteers with the LAPD for $1 a year — spotted Burkhart’s vehicle and pulled him over. He later recounted, his approach to the van was covered by other officers. A search of the car produced material that could be used for arson, according to various media reports fire sticks and charcoal briquettes.

Police said the suspect was Harry Burkhart, a German national from Frankfurt, with Chechnyan travel papers. Canadian media reports a minivan, ostensibly his, has licence plates from British Columbia and there is a traffic offence record for a Harry Burkhart in Vancouver. He had been in the US for several years, and lived in an apartment on Sunset Boulevard. In a court hearing concerning his mother’s immigration problems, according to police, Burkhart had ranted against the United States.

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck voiced optimism about the case: “I feel very good that we’ve got the right guy. He had the right stuff in his van and I am confident in the arrest.” Officials held a press meeting Monday evening about the developments.



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November 3, 2010

Beleaguered British Columbia Premier resigns

Beleaguered British Columbia Premier resigns

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

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File photo of Campbell, Premier of British Columbia.
Image: Mary McNeil.

British Columbia’s Premier Gordon Campbell unexpectedly announced his resignation today, calling for a party leadership convention as soon as possible. He will remain until the Liberal Party caucus members select a new leader.

The Liberal Party premier gave his resignation during an unscheduled, hastily arranged press conference in Vancouver just one day ahead of a caucus meeting characterised as an emergency meeting at the city’s airport. A full party convention, planned for later this month, is to be held in Penticton.

The Liberal government has been under increasing pressure since its 2009 re-election. A particularly contentious point is the introduction of a Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) only weeks after their election victory with a campaign commitment never to implement HST.

Other scandals have dogged the party over the past year; allegations of corruption in the sale of BC Rail – itself another broken campaign promise. This was further aggravated by recent guilty pleas and convictions of David Basi and Robert Virk, and the announcement the government would pay the six million CAD (3.7 million GBP, 4.2 million EUR) defense bills of the disgraced government aides as part of their plea-agreement to lesser charges.

It was admitted post-trial the total bill for the case was CA$ 18 million (£11 million, €12.7 million), excluding the undisclosed Canadian police investigation costs.

As yet, no other Liberal party members have announced plans to stand for the Premiership.


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NuCaptcha introduces a video captcha service, ads included

NuCaptcha introduces a video captcha service, ads included

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Science and technology
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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A static CAPTCHA

A British Columbia company NuCaptcha launched a video-based animated CAPTCHA service to test whether users are humans or robots. As the company says, it is easier to recognise for humans and more difficult to decipher. Many companies supply the users of the service with video and text of advertising content, since the image is what the users have to view to proceed with the service they’re using.

According to NuCaptcha, the moving image doesn’t need to be as clear as static images. With a random video background and big-sized moving text, the blurred text turned out to be easier to be recognized by the brain. The researchers say same text isn’t that easily recongised when it’s static. Therefore, the image is more complicated to process or abuse, while still being easily readable, NuCaptcha says.

The image, as most modern videos, has a significantly bigger size than previously used static images. If often opens in a popup window. The bigger size improves accessibility. As news reporters say, the CAPTCHAs are now easy to use even for older people with vision impairments.

The website administrators have to get a database of videos and text material for use with the new technology. In reaction to this demand, a number of companies supply the webmasters with advertising videos for use as the text background.

The Captchas need full attention of the user to solve. The ads are also not blocked incidentally by security tools like NoScript. The service is seen as a niche for successful advertising, and is favored by advertisement providers along with the webmasters.

Electronic Arts, Activision and Disney are among the current list of companies which give out the videos and text for NuCaptcha.



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July 1, 2010

Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers face potential charges in Dziekanski tasering death

Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers face potential charges in Dziekanski tasering death

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

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After reviewing the Braidwood Inquiry report into the death of Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver International Airport on October 14, 2007, Special Prosecutor Richard C.C. Peck, Q.C. announced he will revisit the British Columbia Attorney General’s decision not to charge the four Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers involved.

Mr. Peck cited “factual material that was not available to the Branch at the time [of the initial … decision]” as the motivation for reviewing the evidence heard at and recommendations of the Braidwood Inquiry into the tasering of Mr. Dziekanski with a view to pressing and prosecuting criminal charges against four RCMP officials involved in the incident.

According to a media release from the British Columbia Ministry of the Attorney General Criminal Justice Branch, Mr. Peck “will examine any other conduct of the four officers in relation to this matter, and in particular their statements to investigators and their testimony at the Braidwood Inquiry [to determine] whether their conduct was at any time contrary to any provisions of the Criminal Code or applicable provincial legislation.”

The Polish Embassy in Ottawa welcomed the publication of the Braidwood Inquiry report in a statement on their web site that commended “the Government of Canada and the Government of British Columbia for leading this public inquiry that showed new evidence and discovered serious errors in the conduct of four RCMP officers that had dealt with Mr. Robert Dziekański at Vancouver International Airport.

“We strongly believe that the findings of the Braidwood Commission should have a follow-up. We therefore expect that the B.C. Criminal Justice Branch will reassess its decision from 12 December 2008 and reopen the criminal investigation or [a] Special Prosecutor will be appointed by the Attorney General.”



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June 30, 2010

Braidwood Inquiry finds Dziekanski tasering in British Columbia unjustified

Braidwood Inquiry finds Dziekanski tasering in British Columbia unjustified

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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

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Five deployments of the taser and the physical struggle with the four Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers contributed substantially to the death of Robert Dziekanski is the chief finding of the inquiry led by retired British Columbia Appeal Court Justice Thomas R. Braidwood.

Speaking at a June 18 media conference following the release of the report on the second phase of the inquiry into the events at Vancouver International Airport on October 14, 2007 Mr. Braidwood concluded “that the constable was not justified in deploying the weapon, and that neither that constable nor the corporal honestly perceived that Mr. Dziekanski was intending to attack any of the officers. I also concluded that the two other constables, during their testimony before me, offered patently unbelievable after-the-fact rationalizations of their police notes and their statements to the [RCMP Integrated Homicide Investigation Team] investigators.”

RCMP Commissioner William J.S. Elliott responded to Mr.Braidwood’s report in a press release saying “The RCMP acknowledges that its handling of this incident failed at many levels and we agree that events that took place at the Vancouver International Airport on October 14, 2007, should have unfolded differently. It is clear that our policies and training in place at the time were deficient. We acknowledge that the actions of our members who dealt with Mr. Dziekanski also fell short, including the fact that our officers did not take enough time to try to de-escalate the situation and did not provide an appropriate level of care to Mr. Dziekanski.”

30% This tragic case is, at its heart, the story of shameful conduct by a few officers. It ought not to reflect unfairly on the many thousands of RCMP and other police officers who have, through years of public service, protected our communities and earned a well-deserved reputation in doing so. 30%

—The Honourable Thomas Braidwood, QC

The mandate of the Braidwood commissions of inquiry, launched by the government of British Columbia (BC) in February 2008, included reporting on and making recommendations about the appropriate use of conducted energy weapons. Sworn evidence was received from 91 witnesses over 61 days. The second phase was “to provide the Dziekanski family and the public with a complete record of the circumstances of Mr. Robert Dziekanski’s death and to make recommendations the Commissioner considers necessary and appropriate” as per the commission’s web site.

The government of BC has already moved to “severely [restrict] the use of Tasers by all police, sheriff’s and corrections officers, and developing standardized police training for Taser use, crisis intervention, and responding to emotionally disturbed people” according to a June 18, 2010 press release. The province also plans to create “a new civilian-led unit to investigate all independent municipal police- and RCMP-related deaths and serious incidents” within the next 12 months.

Mr. Braidwood criticised the Canada Border Services Agency whose changes in response to the incident were “minor and few” but had high praise for Vancouver International Airport’s “exceptional steps in the aftermath of Mr. Dziekanski’s death to identify inadequacies in its policies, practices, and procedures, and to remedy them.”



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  • “Video of man tasered at Vancouver airport released” — Wikinews, November 15, 2007

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March 14, 2010

Avalanche in Canadian Rocky Mountains kills two

Avalanche in Canadian Rocky Mountains kills two

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

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Two people in the Canadian Rocky Mountains were killed yesterday in an avalanche that struck an informal meeting of 200 snowmobilers. 30 others were hurt, and nineteen people were treated and released at a hospital.

According to reports, the incident occurred on Boulder Mountain near Revelstoke, British Columbia on Saturday at 15.30 local time; officials believe several more people may be trapped beneath the rubble.

“The Canadian Avalanche Centre [CAC] based in Revelstoke has had a warning for the last three weeks expressing extreme caution in the backcountry,” commented Revelstoke mayor David Raven, who noted that the gathering had not been authorised. “A fresh snowfall overnight exacerbated that warning. I know people have been cautioned again and again,” he said to CTV Newsnet. The CAC reports that there were ten avalanches in the vicinity since Friday.

Local police conducted a room-to-room search of a nearby hotel to establish whether anybody with the group was missing. Meanwhile, rescue teams dispatched helicopters to the mountain to see if it was safe to launch a more thorough ground search.



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August 24, 2009

Suspect in model Jasmine Fiore\’s murder found dead

Suspect in model Jasmine Fiore’s murder found dead

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Location of Hope

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Fugitive Ryan Jenkins was found dead in a motel room in Hope, Canada, about 150 kilometers from Vancouver. Police are still trying to determine how long he was at the Thunderbird Motel before he hanged himself.

The RCMP are now looking for an unidentified woman who helped Jenkins check himself into the motel last Thursday. She is described as an attractive blonde in her early 20’s and driving a tinted Chrysler PT Cruiser with Alberta plates.

Ryan Jenkins was wanted for the brutal murdering of his ex-wife, swimsuit model Jasmine Fiore. Her badly mutilated body was discovered in a dumpster southeast of Los Angeles on August 15th. Her teeth and fingers were removed, making identification difficult. She was identified through serial numbers on her breast implants.

Jenkins’s boat was found on Wednesday, south of Vancouver, not far from the US-Canada border. Police believe he drove from California to Blaine, Washington and then took a boat to Point Roberts, Washington where he crossed the border on foot into Tsawwassen, Canada. The RCMP confirmed early Sunday that Jenkins was somewhere in Canada and he should turn himself in. He was considered armed and dangerous.

Ryan Jenkins is from Calgary and moved to Los Angeles after appearing in a reality television show on the VH1 network, “Megan Wants a Millionaire”.

There were a couple of false sightings during the manhunt. One man was stopped on a flight from Toronto to Vancouver for using an alias. Another man was taken off a Vancouver transit bus because he looked similar and was interested in the news story.

U.S. Marshals were offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to his capture.



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Suspect in model Jasmine Fiore’s murder found dead

Monday, August 24, 2009

Location of Hope

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Fugitive Ryan Jenkins was found dead in motel room in Hope, Canada, about 150 kilometers from Vancouver. The RCMP are still trying to determine how long he was at the Thunderbird Motel before he hanged himself.

Ryan Jenkins was wanted for the brutal murdering of his ex-wife, and swimsuit model Jasmine Fiore. Her badly mutilated body was discovered in a dumpster southeast of Los Angeles on August 15th. Her teeth and fingers were removed, making identification difficult. She was identified through serial numbers on her breast implants.

Jenkins boat was found on Wednesday, south of Vancouver, not far from the US-Canada border. The RCMP confirmed early sunday that Jenkins was somewhere in Canada and he should turn himself in. He was considered armed and dangerous.

Ryan Jenkins is from Calgary and moved to Los Angeles after appearing in a reality television show on the VH1 network, “Megan Wants a Millionaire“.

There were a couple of false sightings during the manhunt. One man was stopped on a flight from Toronto to Vancouver for using an alias. Another man was taken off a Vancouver transit bus because he looked similar and was interested in the news story.

The U.S. Marshals were offering a $25,000 reward for information to leading his capture.


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July 11, 2009

Two pilots dead in Richmond plane crash

Two pilots dead in Richmond plane crash – Wikinews, the free news source

Two pilots dead in Richmond plane crash

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Aviation

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A plane, carrying blood donations, crashed in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada on Thursday night. The plane, a twin engine PA-31 Piper Navajo departed from Victoria, when it nosedived into a parking lot during its final approach to Vancouver International Airport shortly after 10:00 p.m. PDT (UTC-7).

Witnesses report the plane flying unusually low prior to it crashing and bursting into flames by Bridgeport Road, behind a large Ikea store.

“The plane engine sounded real low, it came almost straight down,” according to The Vancouver Sun who asked witness Darren Van Leeuwen. “The flames shot up 100 feet or more.”

Both of the pilots on-board were killed, it not yet known if there were any other passengers. Royal Canadian Mounted Police Assistant Commissioner Peter German stated that it was very lucky that nobody on the ground was killed.

The cause of the crash is under federal investigation.



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June 26, 2009

University study finds U.S. defense contract information in \’electronic waste\’ in Africa

University study finds U.S. defense contract information in ‘electronic waste’ in Africa

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Friday, June 26, 2009

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According to a documentary about journalism students at the University of British Columbia tracking electronic waste (e-waste), details of United States defense contracts and confidential military data were left on a donated hard drive which was purchased for US$35 in Ghana.

The purchased hard drive was a donation by Northrop Grumman Corporation, an American aerospace and defense technology company.

The PBS investigative documentary, Ghana: Digital Dumping Ground, tracked what happened to donated or discarded electronics. The journalism students randomly purchased seven hard drives in Tema, Africa. “We plugged them and in and started reading files … They were just sitting there,” said Klein.

As part of the international reporting course the students then submitted the hard drives to Enoch Kwesi Messiah, a computer scientist at Regent University to see if any of the previous owners had erased the data on their hard drives before disposal.

Messiah stated, “I can get your bank numbers and I retrieve all your money from your accounts. If ever somebody gets your hard drive, he can get every information about you from the drive, no matter where it is hidden.”

The graduate journalism students under Professor Peter Klein travelled to the Korle Lagoon in Accra the capital of Ghana. Beside the polluted waters is Agbogbloshie, the largest collection of e-waste, useless electronic donations.

“Life is really difficult; they eat here, surrounded by e-waste,” said Mike Anane, a local journalist, “They basically are here to earn a living. But you can imagine the health implications.” The e-waste is burned and rendered down for copper, iron, or gold from the components.

“It’s essentially this charred toxic wasteland,” said Blake Sifton, one of the students. “It’s incredibly difficult to breathe because there’s usually between five and six and seven fires going at any time .… and there’s tons and tons of this black, sticky, acrid smoke coming out of them.”



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