Wiki Actu en

November 30, 2005

Xbox 360 shortages expected on debut day in Europe

Filed under: Archived,Europe,Games,Science and technology — admin @ 5:00 am

Xbox 360 shortages expected on debut day in Europe

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Xbox 360 arrives on shelves in Europe on Friday, but many shoppers may likely leave stores empty handed.

It is expected that at least 300,000 consoles are being made available for the European launch later this week, with only 50,000 destined for the UK. Stores are reporting that they may not even have enough stock to fulfill all of their pre-orders.

Launched in the US last Tuesday, the Xbox 360 sold out at many retailers in a matter of hours. The console can be found on eBay however, although most prices are significantly marked up from retail, some as high as $700 USD.

The console launches worldwide in two versions: a standard version, costing £279.99, and a core version at £209.99. The Core version does not include a hard disk which is required to play games created for the original Xbox.

The Xbox 360 will be launched in Japan on December 10. This is the first time a console has been launched in the three major markets (North America, Europe and Japan) in such a short time.

Sources

Bookmark-new.svg


This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

Virginia Governor commutes 1,000th US execution

Filed under: Archived,Crime and law,North America,United States,Virginia — admin @ 5:00 am

Virginia Governor commutes 1,000th US execution

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Virginia Governor Mark Warner commuted the death sentence Tuesday of convicted murderer Robin Lovitt, preventing him from becoming the 1,000th person executed in the United States since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. Lingering doubt over Lovitt’s guilt was a key factor in Warner’s decision. Lovitt’s sentence has now been reduced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

This is the first time Warner has granted clemency in his four years in office. All eleven previous clemency petitions have been denied. Warner chose this petition to be his first, and likely last, granted, noting that clemency should only be used in an “exceptional circumstance. Among these are circumstances in which the normal and honored processes of our judicial system do not provide adequate relief – circumstances that, in fact, require executive intervention to reaffirm public confidence in our justice system” [1].

Lovitt was sentenced to death in 1999 for the murder of a pool hall manager. His defense team, including former Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, argued that DNA tests could have exonerated Lovitt, but weren’t performed due to a mistake by a court clerk which resulted in key evidence being thrown away after the trial.

Due to the commution of Lovitt’s sentence, Kenneth Boyd, who is scheduled to be executed in North Carolina on Friday, will likely become the 1,000th person executed since 1976.

Sources

Bookmark-new.svg


This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

U.S. military covertly pays to run stories in Iraqi press

Filed under: Archived,Iraq,Journalism,United States — admin @ 5:00 am

U.S. military covertly pays to run stories in Iraqi press

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The LA Times reported today that the U.S. is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written by American troops. While these stories are mostly factual, they present only one side of events and blend out parts that don’t reflect favourably on U.S. or Iraqi governments.

According to the report, the Pentagon hired the Lincoln Group, a Washington-based firm that translates the stories into Arabic and places them in Baghdad newspapers. When published, many of these articles are not marked as originating from the U.S. military, but presented as unbiased news reports, written by independent Iraqi journalists. The LA times quotes a senior military official, stating that “Absolute truth was not an essential element of these stories.”

Earlier this year, the Bush administration came under criticism for distributing videos and news stories in the United States without identifying the federal government as its source, and paying American journalists to promote administration policies. The Government Accountability Office has characterized these practices as “covert propaganda.”

U.S. law only prevents the military from planting propaganda through American news outlets. Critics charge, however, that in the modern media environment, stories written for foreign news sources are likely to leak into American news.

The response from the Pentagon was mixed, with Rumsfeld’s spokesperson Bryan Whitman saying that he was unaware of such practice, noting that “this article raises some question as to whether or not some of the practices that are described in there are consistent with the principles of this department.”

On the other hand, Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, a military spokesman in Iraq, said “This is a military program initiated with the Multi-National Force to help get factual information about ongoing operations into Iraqi news.”

“An important part of countering misinformation in the news by insurgents,” added Johnson. “I want to emphasize that all information used for marketing these stories is completely factual.”

U.S. spokesperson Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch defended the practices.

“We do empower our operational commanders with the ability to inform the Iraqi public but everything we do is based on fact, not based on fiction,” said Lynch.

John Schulz, a former executive with Voice of America called the military program scary.

“The Bush administration, and some elements within the Defense Department do not seem to grasp the irony that, in their efforts to create, impose or inspire democratic society in Iraq, they are subverting the very core of what democracy means and are instead, by example, undercutting the very thing they are attempting to install in Iraq,” said Schulz.

Sources

External links

Bookmark-new.svg


This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

EU states warned on CIA prisons

EU states warned on CIA prisons – Wikinews, the free news source

EU states warned on CIA prisons

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The European Union’s highest justice official has warned EU member states that any nations found to have hosted a covert CIA jail could have its “voting rights suspended”. EU Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini said the consequences would be “extremely serious” if reports of such jails turned out to be true.

According to Human Rights Watch, the secret prisons are located in Poland and Romania. This comes amid an EU investigation into claims that the US ran clandestine jails in eastern Europe. In the case of Romania, a senior Euro MP has questioned whether its accession to the EU should go ahead as planned. The US has declined to confirm or deny the reports of secret jails, which became public in the US earlier this month.

Speaking at a news conference in Berlin, Mr Frattini called for tough penalties against any involved state, saying “I would be obliged to propose to the Council of EU Ministers serious consequences, including the suspension of voting rights in the council.” He said a suspension of voting rights would be justified if any country is found to have breached the bloc’s founding principles of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Such a move would be unprecedented for the EU.

However, a diplomatic source said that to suspend a member state’s voting rights in the Council of the European Union, the other 24 member states would have to vote unanimously to take such a step, which would be unlikely to happen in practice.

Mr Frattini said the Bush administration had asked for more time to deliver a response to the accusations after a senior commission official formally raised the issue on a visit to Washington last week. “Right now, there is no [US] response,” he said. The allegations that the CIA held al-Qaeda suspects in secret prisons in Eastern Europe were first reported in the Washington Post on November 2, but the newspaper withheld information on the location of the prisons on the request of the U.S. government.

During his first U.S. visit, the newly appointed German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier failed to receive any clarification on the question of secret CIA prisons, but the United States has now officially recognized that this is an issue of great concern to its European allies. Seceretary of State Condoleezza Rice promised an official U.S. clarification on this matter in the near future.

Sources

Bookmark-new.svg


This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

Computer professionals celebrate 10th birthday of A.L.I.C.E.

Computer professionals celebrate 10th birthday of A.L.I.C.E.

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

File:Turing1.jpg

Some attendees pose by the statue of Alan Turing at the University of Surrey in Guildford, UK.
(Image missing from commons: image; log)

More than 50 programmers, scientists, students, hobbyists and fans of the A.L.I.C.E. chat robot gathered in Guildford, U.K. on Friday to celebrate the tenth birthday of the award winning A.I. On hand was the founder the Loebner Prize, an annual Turing Test, designed to pick out the world’s most human computer according to an experiment laid out by the famous British mathematician Alan Turing more then 50 years ago. Along with A.L.I.C.E.’s chief programmer Dr. Richard S. Wallace, two other Loebner prize winners, Robby Garner and this year’s winner, Rollo Carpenter, also gave presentations, as did other finalists.

The University of Surrey venue was chosen, according to Dr. Wallace, not only because it was outside the U.S. (A.L.I.C.E.’s birthday fell on the Thanksgiving Day weekend holiday there, so he expected few people would attend a conference in America), but also because of its recently erected statue of Alan Turing, who posed the famous A. I. experiment which inspired much of the work on bots like A.L.I.C.E. University of Surrey Digital World Research Centre organizers Lynn and David Hamill were pleased to host the event because it encourages multi-disciplinary interaction, and because of the Centre’s interest in interaction between humans and computers.

File:ALICE Birthday Cake.jpg

(Image missing from commons: image; log)

Dr. Wallace gave a keynote address outlining the history of A.L.I.C.E. and AIML. Many people commented on the fact the he seemed to have moved around a lot in the last ten years, having lived in New York, Pennsylvania, San Francisco, Maine, Amsterdam and Philadelphia, while working on the Alicebot project. The A.L.I.C.E. and AIML software is popular among chat robot enthusiats primarily because of its distribution under the GNU free software license. One of Dr. Wallace’s PowerPoint slides asked the question, “How do you make money from free software?” His answer: memberships, subscriptions, books, directories, syndicated ads, consulting, teaching, and something called the Superbot.

Rollo Carpenter gave a fascinating presentation on his learning bot Jabberwacky, reading from several sample conversations wherein the bot seemed amazingly humanlike. Unlike the free A.L.I.C.E. software, Carpenter uses a proprietary learning approach so that the bot actually mimics the personality of each individual chatter. The more people who chat with Jabberwacky, the better it becomes at this kind of mimicry.

In another interesting presentation, Dr. Hamill related present-day research on chat robots to earlier work on dialog analysis in telephone conversations. Phone calls have many similarities to the one-on-one chats that bots encounter on the web and in IM. Dr. Hamill also related our social expectations of bots to social class structure and how servants were expected to behave in Victorian England. He cited the famous Microsoft paperclip as the most egregius example of a bot that violated all the rules of a good servant’s behavior.

Bots have advanced a long way since philanthropist Hugh Loebner launched his controversial contest 15 years ago. His Turing Test contest, which offers an award of $100,000 for the first program to pass an “audio-visual” version of the game, also awards a bronze medal and $2000 every year for the “most human computer” according to a panel of judges. Huma Shah of the University of Westminster presented examples of bots used by large corporations to help sell furniture, provide the latest information about automotive products, and help customers open bank accounts. Several companies in the U.S. and Europe offer customized bot personalities for corporate web sites.

Even though Turing’s Test remains controversial, this group of enthusiastic developers seems determined to carry on the tradition and try to develop more and more human like chat bots. Hugh Loebner is dedicated to carry on his contest for the rest of his life, in spite of his critics. He hopes that a large enough constituency of winners will exist to keep the competition going well beyond his own lifetime. Dr. Wallace says, “Nobody has gotten rich from chat robots yet, but that doesn’t stop people from trying. There is such a thing as ‘bot fever’. For some people who meet a bot for the first time, it can pass the Turing Test for them, and they get very excited.”


Sources

Wikinews
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.

External links

Bookmark-new.svg


This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

Australian Senate passes resolution opposing death penalty in shadow of Van Nguyen execution

Australian Senate passes resolution opposing death penalty in shadow of Van Nguyen execution

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Australian Senate has passed a resolution “opposing the death penalty” in response to the looming execution of Van Tuong Nguyen. The 25-year-old Australian salesman was convicted of trafficking 396 grams of heroin through Singapore, a country which has a mandatory death sentence for trafficking more than 15 grams of heroin.

There was some argument in the Senate, however, over the exact wording of the resolution. The motion, as originally moved by Senator Bob Brown, leader of the Australian Greens, expressed the government’s “abhorrence of the death penalty.”

Senator Chris Ellison, Minister for Justice and Customs, moved to substitute “abhorrence of” for “opposition to.”

Greens members and Australian Democrat members were angered at this. “Should we just say ‘We oppose that but we don’t abhor it’…Is trade so important that we cannot speak our mind on utterly important matters of life and death[?]” Senator Brown asked.

There was confusion about whether the Australian Labor Party supported the Government amendment.

Australian Democrat’s Senator Natasha Stott Despoja made her opposition to the amendment clear. “What is wrong with this place? How can two major parties be such wimps and wimp out on this word? If ‘wimp’ is considered inappropriate, I could say ‘weak’, ‘timorous’ or ‘ineffectual’,” she said. She later apologised to the Labor Party and redirected her criticism to the Government.

Senator Ellison later said, “when you look at international instruments, you do not often find the language of emotion. You do not often find language which is colourful or extreme. You find language which spells out the situation…We should not bring emotion into the debate which could well hamper other efforts being made in relation to the Van Nguyen matter.”

A division on the amendment was called and the motion was amended in the Government’s favour, 34 to 30. The amended motion was then carried.

Sources

Wikinews
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
  • Australian Senate, Hansard, November 29, 2005.
  • ABC News, [1]
Bookmark-new.svg


This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

Groups prepare for December WTO talks

Groups prepare for December WTO talks – Wikinews, the free news source

Groups prepare for December WTO talks

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Members of the WTO have made statements in preparation of the next WTO meeting in December.

Peter Mandelson, the EU’s trade commissioner, has proposed a six-point package to help poor countries. The package includes guarantees of access to cheap drugs, special help for the 40 least-developed nations, compensation for poor countries affected by the loss of their access to Europe for bananas and sugar, relief for African cotton producers, and assistance to help countries build their capacity to trade. The EU is holding strong on its agriculture position while keeping internal dissent in check. Mandelson warned France not to veto any agreement saying that failure of the talks would be a “huge missed economic opportunity and a huge setback for multilateralism. Those who want to frustrate us, throw logs at us and impose vetoes on us – even from within our own ranks – will not find me giving up.” Resistance is expected from the US, especially in the areas of textiles, and drugs. These two areas have been a areas of contention between the US and other WTO members.

Several South American WTO members complained about the current sluggishness of talks. Brazil’s WTO ambassador, Clodoaldo Hugueney, said earlier this week, “We are seriously concerned about the current state of the negotiations. The burden of adjustment is being placed on developing countries.”

The IMF also released a policy discussion paper titled “Africa in the Doha Round”. In the paper, written by IMF Africa Department Senior Economist Yongzheng Yang, states that the representatives of Africa in the current round of WTO talks may be too fixated on the markets of wealthy nations. Yang writes, “African negotiators may have overlooked the potential market access gains in developing countries, where trade barriers remain relatively high and demand for African imports has expanded substantially.” According to the paper Africa has primarily sought access of wealthiest nations including the US and the EU while limiting it’s attention to China and other countries who imported 30 percent of Africa’s exports. Recent trade issues Africa has pushed have included cotton exports, an area that has met much resistance to the wealthier WTO members. IMF policy discussion papers describe research in progress and are not opinions of the IMF.

The WTO has also agreed to extend an exemption for members classified as “least developed” from intellectual property rules until July 2013. These members already have an exemption, valid until 2016, for pharmaceutical products. The new extension applies to trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, and geographical names indicating goods’ place of origin. If a country improves out of the classification, the exemption will no longer apply.

Sources

Bookmark-new.svg


This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

November 29, 2005

Tropical Storm Epsilon forms as 2005 Atlantic hurricane season comes to an end

Tropical Storm Epsilon forms as 2005 Atlantic hurricane season comes to an end

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Hurricanes – 2005

Related stories
Recent hurricanes in 2005
  • Hurricane Epsilon
  • Hurricane Beta
  • Hurricane Philippe
  • Hurricane Vince
  • Hurricane Stan
  • Hurricane Rita
Hurricane Rita

Hurricane

External/Inter-wiki links
  • 2005 Atlantic hurricane season
  • 2005 Pacific hurricane season
  • List of notable tropical cyclones
  • Wikipedia’s entry on Hurricanes
  • Wiktionary’s definition of a hurricane
  • Blog from New Orleans
  • NOLA hurricane wiki

Tropical Storm Epsilon formed today as the record breaking 2005 Atlantic hurricane season comes to a close tomorrow. Storms created after this date will still be included in the 2005 Atlantic Hurricane Season but it is not officially under the date. The storm is the 26th storm in a season that has broken many records including number of storms.

The storm formed 845 miles (1,360 km) east of Bermuda. According to forecasters, the storm is only a threat to shipping. At 10am EST, the storm had sustained winds of 45 mph. The storm is moving west at 8 mph and is expected to continue that movement for 24 hours.

The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season broke many records including number of storms and number of Category 5 hurricanes and number of tropical storms that evolved into hurricanes. Although the season ends tomorrow, forecasters warn that tropical storms can form in December.

Sources

Bookmark-new.svg


This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

Thai Government rejects amnesty proposal for southern insurgents

Thai Government rejects amnesty proposal for southern insurgents

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search
South Thailand insurgency
Related stories

The involved provinces and surrounding area of Thailand and Malaysia The involved provinces and surrounding area of Thailand and Malaysia

Wikipedia has articles on
  • Thailand
  • South Thailand insurgency
  • 2005 Songkhla bombings
  • Patani United Liberation Organization

and the involved provinces,

  • Pattani
  • Narathiwat
  • Yala
  • Songkhla
See also

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Deputy Prime Minister Chidchai Vanasatidya has rejected calls by Prawes Wasi, the leader of the government-appointed National Reconciliation Commission for an amnesty to be offered to insurgents in Thailand’s troubled Muslim-majority south.

Government and police officials claim that current action targeting the funding of the insurgency is proving effective and an increasing number of local people are cooperating with authorities. It is widely believed that drugs play a role in the violence, with traffickers believed to be involved in funding the militants and recruiting for them.

Raids last Friday in Sungai Padi and Tak Bai districts netted more than ten million Baht in assets from suspected drug dealers who the local governor, Pracha Terat, said were involved in the insurgency.

Sources

Bookmark-new.svg


This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

Suicide bombers blast two Bangladeshi cities

Suicide bombers blast two Bangladeshi cities

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

On Tuesday morning police in Bangladesh have blamed Islamic militants for what is believed to be the country’s first suicide bombings. Up to ten people were killed and dozens of others injured in the two attacks. The attacks left at least 50 people wounded with many of them said to be in critical condition.

The government has accused the hardline Jamayetul Mujahideen, which wants to introduce strict Islamic law in the Muslim-majority democracy, of staging the attacks targeting the legal system. Bangladesh police have arrested six men, including a suicide squad member in different parts of the country, in the last two days.

“This is the first suicide attack in Bangladesh,” stated Abdul Kaiyum, national police chief, after blasts in the south-eastern port cities of Chittagong and Gazipur, located near the capital Dhaka.

“These were powerful homemade bombs. It seems Jamayetul Mujahideen have stepped up their attacks after we arrested many of their members.”

Bg-map.png

According to Chittagong officials, a pair of suicide bombers set off explosives at a police checkpoint outside the main court around 9 a.m. Two police officers and at least one of the bombers were killed in the attack.

Minutes later, a bomb exploded inside a court in the city of Gazipur, about 20 miles north of the capital, Dhaka. Three people were killed and many more injured, including lawyers and court staff. Various reports assume the explosion was the work of a suicide bomber.

The attacks came two days after security was tightened around embassies in Dhaka following a faxed message in the name of Al Qaeda in South Asia. The message also threatened to blow up the U.S. and British missions, as well as other European embassies.

“Jamayetul Mujahideen is using Islam’s name to kill people. The government has taken a hard stand and will now take an even harder stand,” said Prime Minister Khaleda Zia during a visit to the south.

According to Majedul Huq, Chittagong police commissioner, the blasts appeared to be the work of suicide bombers, who had explosives strapped to their bodies or hidden in bags.

“The bombers apparently turned more violent as we set up checkposts trying to reinforce security at court premises,” Huq said.

A wave of bombings has rattled Bangladesh in recent months after fundamentalist groups led by Afghan war veterans launched a campaign for Islamic rule based on the Shariat. The militants have often targeted lawyers. On Aug. 17, there were nearly 400 simultaneous bombings across the country. Jamayetul Mujahideen, led by Afghan war veteran Shaikh Abdur Rahman, has been held responsible for the attacks. In October, militants attacked courts in three districts.

On Nov. 14, two judges were killed when bombs were thrown at their car, and in later weeks other lawyers and judges have received threats. The Daily Star reported that Jamayetul Mujahideen has threatened to kill three judges and blow up Mymensingh Press Club.

Police say a 2,000-strong “suicide squad” has been formed from members of Jamayetul Mujahideen and two other banned groups, Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh and Harkatul Jihad.

Bangladesh is the world’s third-most-populous Muslim country after Indonesia and Pakistan.

Sources

Bookmark-new.svg


This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.
Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress