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February 14, 2010

Winning British EuroMillions lottery ticket worth £56 million claimed

Filed under: Archived,Culture and entertainment,United Kingdom — admin @ 5:00 am

Winning British EuroMillions lottery ticket worth £56 million claimed

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

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A winning British EuroMillions lottery ticket, worth approximately £56,008,113 (US$87,893,534, €64,565,882), has been claimed. The value of the prize breaks the record for the largest amount of money won in a lottery in the United Kingdom. The previous record, which was approximately £45 million (US$70.5 million, €52 million), was claimed in November 2009. That amount was given to both of the two lottery ticket winners of the draw, both of which happened to live in the United Kingdom.

The £56 million win, which occurred as a result of the EuroMillions lottery draw on Friday, was actually a share of the jackpot total of approximately £113 million (US$177 million, €130 million). The prize was shared between the UK winner and another winning ticket holder in Spain. At present, neither of the two winners have been publicly identified.

Cquote1.svg We have got the champagne ready and we’re just waiting for the lucky winner to come forward. Cquote2.svg

—Camelot Group spokesperson

A spokesperson for the Camelot Group, who runs the EuroMillions lottery in the United Kingdom, said: “We have got the champagne ready and we’re just waiting for the lucky winner to come forward. It’s the biggest win that we have ever had in this country and whoever it is, wherever they are, their life is about to change dramatically. Subject to validation, the prize could be paid out when the banks open on Monday.”

The EuroMillions lottery draw takes place in nine European countries including the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal and Switzerland. The biggest ever prize given out in the EuroMillions draw overall was approximately £113.2 million (US$177.7 million, €130.5 million). The prize was given to a solitary winner in Spain in May 2009.


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Wikinews interviews journalist Konrad Godlewski, who uncovered BATUTA hoax

Wikinews interviews journalist Konrad Godlewski, who uncovered BATUTA hoax

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

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Four years ago, on February 9, a major Polish newspaper, Gazeta Wyborcza published a report detailing a hoax in Polish Wikipedia entitled Henryk Batuta. The author of the report was Konrad Godlewski; several weeks later, Godlewski began editing Polish Wikipedia. The results of his work include one featured article – pismo chińskie (Polish for “Chinese character”) – as well as various articles relating to China.

During our interview, Godlewski discusses memes, hoaxes, and the Batuta Army – the creators of the hoax his paper reported on. From February this year, a special project on the Polish Wikipedia, BATUTA, saw a makeshift taskforce work on improving the quality of content. BATUTA stands for “Bezwzględna Akcja Troskliwego Uźródławiania Tysięcy artykłów”, roughly translated as “Ruthless Action of Carefully Adding References to Thousands of Articles”.

Interview

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png You are the author of the first news story about the Henryk Batuta hoax, uncovered four years ago in the Polish Wikipedia. Do you remember when did the authors of the hoax first come to you? Was it just before the publication or earlier? The hoax was uncovered on January 20 and the story was published on February 9, so there was a period of time between those two dates…

Wikinews waves Left.pngKonrad GodlewskiWikinews waves Right.png I found them myself. Accidentally. I was looking for new, interesting stories about the Internet. My newspaper colleague Robert Sankowski told me he had heard somewhere about a friend of a friend who had been doing some huge scam in Wikipedia. Step by step, I had traced that person. This was a few months before the publication, back in late 2005. A representative from Batuta’s Army asked me to hold on with publication, even though the article had already been visible in Wikipedia for many months.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngDid you follow the process of deletion of the article?

Wikinews waves Left.pngKGWikinews waves Right.png Yes, for the last few days. The Army from the very beginning wanted to test Wikipedia’s defense mechanisms. It was then when I had a meeting with them and they told me about their views. They knew their hoax was nearing its end and they wanted to close it somehow.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngIn your story you wrote they wanted to show how thoughtless the people of Warsaw were when it came to names of streets and neighborhoods. Now it turns out it was more about Wikipedia and its mechanisms.

Wikinews waves Left.pngKGWikinews waves Right.png It was about a number of things at the same time. It was easy to notice the hoax was created by really smart people. Testing Wikipedia was one of the aspects of this entire thing.

The second one was the attitude towards streets and generally Poland’s communist past. As one could easily guess, Batuta’s Army had rather right-wing political views, most probably close to IPN [e.d. note: Instytut Pamięci Narodowej/IPN, English: National Memory Institute is a governmental agency in Poland conducting both criminal investigations and scientific research into the country’s communist past], which fights against communist streets’ namesakes.

And there was a third reason. As I’m sure you remember, in the 90s, conspiracy theories concerning Jews were popular in Poland. As some of the people of such origin had changed their names, the conspiracy theory made people see Jews nearly everywhere. Such lists were printed on paper and later they got published on the Internet.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngIt’s a bit strange. Having right-wing views, the Army caused the right-wing websites, which copied the hoax from Wikipedia, to get discredited as an effect of this.

Wikinews waves Left.pngKGWikinews waves Right.png Not all right-wing people are uneducated individuals with antisemitic views.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngThe same IP number (which is dynamic but from a narrow range) which was used to create the hoax, is still being used today to edit Wikipedia. For example, quite recently someone tried to smuggle in a biography of “Hipolit Pieściuk – sculptor and social activist”. Google shows no information on this biography. They’ve added just text, not an article. Does it mean they have not give up on Wikipedia? Your article in “Gazeta Wyborcza” ended with the words “Batuta’s Army is asking for anonymity and claims that Henryk Batuta is not their last word”.

Wikinews waves Left.pngKGWikinews waves Right.png I haven’t heard about Hipolit. As far as I know, Batuta’s case actually turned up to be their last word. As far as I know those people have made careers and they now have more serious things to care about.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngSo they don’t want to reveal themselves?

Wikinews waves Left.pngKGWikinews waves Right.png I imagine it wouldn’t look good in their CVs. There are people who think of such scam as a point of honor. I don’t think that’s the case with Batuta’s Army. Anyway, this case had also had an effect on me. Before the Batuta story I had made a few trial editions in Wikipedia. But later something turned me on. I thought there was a group of idealistic people who want to make humanity happier with their meticulous work. And someone tried to make idiots of them.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngSo you’ve started to develop articles up to featured article standards.

Wikinews waves Left.pngKGWikinews waves Right.png

Don’t exaggerate. I’ve written just one such article. But thanks to this, I’ve realized how important Wikipedia had become. I don’t think there is single journalist who doesn’t use it.

File photo of Konrad Godlewski from 2009

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngWould you reveal your Wikipedia nickname?

Wikinews waves Left.pngKGWikinews waves Right.png Yes, it’s actually my high school nickname – conew. Sadly, after some time I stopped. My family got bigger and I didn’t have enough time to make all of humanity happier.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngWhen we were talking soon after your publication, you wrote to me you had hoped there would be some positive effects of your story. Do you think you’ve initiated a landslide change?

Wikinews waves Left.pngKGWikinews waves Right.png I don’t think it was a landslide. But still, I do acknowledge the fact that Batuta’s case has become something of a milestone in the development of Wikipedia. I had a chance to about it with Jimmy Wales. It was in the time when the German Wikipedia was testing new, stricter editorial guidelines.

However, I think the most important was the impact on the other side – the readers. Even the best editorial system lets some mistakes pass undetected. I know it, I’ve worked in several newspapers. Batuta’s case reminds us the old truth: dubito ergo sum. There are mistakes in respected encyclopedias and books as well. Sometimes those are “Dawkins-like” mistakes, if you remember the chapter about memes in “The Selfish Gene”.

My favorite example is the one about Michał Boym, Polish Jesuit and one of the first sinologists. He had done a great job with his descriptions of Chinese plants and animals. His works were later published in Europe. Sometimes his text were stolen from him and published under other people’s names. There was a case of “green-furred turtle”. Boym wrote about it because it was extremely bizarre: a turtle with green fur. In fact it was a kind of seaweed growing on the turtle’s shell. Boym described it in his Latin text as “viridium”. And printers from Vienna made it “vindium” which can be translated as “floating in air”. This slight typing mistake made people in the West believe there were flying turtles in China. What’s more, there were pictures showing this unusual thing.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngBatuta also started to mutate and it happened at the very beginning.

Wikinews waves Left.pngKGWikinews waves Right.png That’s because Wikipedia’s articles are the best example of memetics at work. The articles are like some living organisms transferred to a new environment – with time they evolve, adapting to the requirements such as neutral of point of view, proper language, verifiability and, most importantly, factual truth.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngIn the printed edition of “Gazeta Wyborcza” your text was accompanied by a photo, supposedly showing Henryk Batuta. It actually did not appear in the Wikipedia article, but even Jimbo mentioned that photo when he was explaining this situation to the journalists.

Wikinews waves Left.pngKGWikinews waves Right.png Oh yes. The photo was the idea of the editor of that day’s edition. It’s a petty it is now stuck somewhere in Gazeta’sarchives because it a really great job by the photo editor. Maybe Wikipedia should ask “Gazeta” for permission to use this little masterpiece.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngWhen I read some recent texts about Batuta I often come across different mutations of the story. The most common is the one which says the journalists were the ones who uncovered the hoax, in spite of the fact that your text was published several days after the uncovering made by the Wikimedians themselves.

Wikinews waves Left.pngKGWikinews waves Right.png That’s correct. It is quite common to attribute different things to the journalists because of their job which is to go around, look and investigate. I’ve seen Batuta being quoted in many publications on Wikipedia and the Internet. This is part of a broader problem of credibility of sources. It’s horrifying but we are surrounded by the half-truths and lies.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngRoman, Władysław, Marek – the names of the members of Batuta’s Army were obviously false as well?

Wikinews waves Left.pngKGWikinews waves Right.png Yes, they were “alternative”.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngWas the term “Batuta’s Army” created after you had already begun to talk? Or maybe they came to you already with this term?

Wikinews waves Left.pngKGWikinews waves Right.png Batuta’s Army was invented by the hoax’ creators as we spoke. Probably they wanted it to sound like some well-know political terrorist organizations like IRA or Red Army Faction. It was a kind of joke.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngNews about Batuta became a “good meme” and later it began to live a life of its own. Many legends originated from this story. Do you think it will become a “hard” urban legend?

Wikinews waves Left.pngKGWikinews waves Right.png I had thought so, but fortunately the Wikimedians woke up right in time and put an end to this. Today the original Batuta article is like an antibody in a vaccine – accompanied by a secure commentary, it can be used by anyone for the sake of his/her own immunity against such a “virus”. However, another “Jewish conspiracy” theory is still thriving. It has something to do with Batuta’s article, as in the hoax he was a communist activist with you-know-what origin. The theory I’m talking about was made popular by Okhrana (Russian secret police from the tzars times) with the publication of “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”. It has made its way as far as to Japan. Recently I’ve been following its spread in China. A book called “The Currency Wars” has recently been published there. The author used to work at American financial institutions. When he came back to China, he wrote the book describing how America’s finances are under control by a group of friends with common ancestry. I don’t think there’s any way of defense against a good hoax. I’m sure at least a few such Batutas are hiding somewhere in Wikipedia. It’s a classical evolutionary arms race.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngWhen media published a story about a hoax concerning a false product (medicine for hangover), they praised the company for visionary marketing, despite the fact it came down to a deception. Why in the conflict between citizens and business, the media represents the corporations?

Wikinews waves Left.pngKGWikinews waves Right.png Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. I don’t think you can simplify it to such an extent. This is a chain: journalist – editor – publisher – owner. Each of the elements has its own motivations and there is little in common between them. That’s maybe with the exception of desire for profit. But there are also some journalists who work mainly for their ideals.

I don’t remember in detail that particular case, but a tendency to deceive is part of the human nature. What’s more, people enjoy being deceived, they appreciate manipulation as long as it’s witty and funny. One of the authors compared Batuta’s case to provocations which are the basis of the modern conceptual art. The artist gets into the public space and shocks people in order to make them react, to make the viewer part of the game.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngMaybe it’s my oversimplification indeed. And maybe that’s because Wikipedia itself is being perceived as if it was a corporation. I remember when Google’s Knol was launched and one of the media stories called Knol David and Wikipedia Goliath.

Wikinews waves Left.pngKGWikinews waves Right.png It’s a question of marketing and public relations. Google, as any modern company, spends a lot of money to create and maintain the image of both itself and its products. And Wikipedia is a bunch of Internet users who tries to set its own order by democratic means. It’s part of democracies’ nature that they need years to earn their own ethos, image and culture of organization. Just compare Polish and British democracy.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngOK, so I classically thank you for talking to me.

Wikinews waves Left.pngKGWikinews waves Right.png Thank you.



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Chip and PIN \’not fit for purpose\’, says Cambridge researcher

Filed under: United Kingdom,University of Cambridge — admin @ 5:00 am

Chip and PIN ‘not fit for purpose’, says Cambridge researcher

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

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An EMV terminal, similar to those found to be vulnerable.
Image: Michael Shanks.

security expert Professor Ross Anderson has blasted the EMV system used worldwide for credit and debit card transactions, and known in the UK as Chip and PIN, after his research team discovered a serious vulnerability. The group were able to carry out purchases using a card, even without knowing the associated personal identification number (PIN), by using a “man-in-the-middle” attack.

Retail terminals at the point of sale require the cardholder to insert their card and enter their secret PIN before a transaction can be authorised. They then communicate with the microchip built in to the card itself, which holds the PIN. If the correct number has been given, this chip returns a standard verification code (0x9000) to the terminal.

In the researchers’ attack they inserted a genuine card into a second reader, connected to a laptop. The laptop is linked by thin wires to a fake card, which is inserted into the retailer’s terminal. The laptop relays the communications between the terminal and the stolen, but genuine, card, up until the stage where the PIN is to be checked. At this point it intercepts and responds with the verification code, no matter what number was entered. The retailer’s terminal then believes that the correct PIN has been entered, and the card can be told that a signature was used to verify the cardholder instead.

Their technique has been tested successfully on cards from six different issuers: Bank of Scotland, Barclaycard, Co-operative Bank, Halifax, HSBC and John Lewis.

Cquote1.svg All the banks are lying. They are maliciously and wilfully deceiving the customer […] The system is not fit for purpose. Cquote2.svg

—Professor Ross Anderson, University of Cambridge

The group say that not much technical skill is required for the attack, and suggested the equipment needed could be kept in a backpack, with the wires to the fake card running down a user’s sleeve. They believe the equipment could be miniaturised to the size of a remote control.

“In practice how this attack would work is that one reasonably technically skilled person would build a device that carries out the attack and then sell this equipment on the internet just like criminals already do,” said Dr Steven Murdoch who worked on the project.

Professor Anderson claimed that the attack could already be in use by criminals. “We have many examples of people who have had their cards stolen and then purchases made using the chip and pin,” he said. “They are adamant they didn’t use it but if the banks say chip and pin has been used you have to pay. I think many of these people would have been victim of the kind of technique we have developed.”

He was scathing about bank claims that the system was secure. “The banks are wrong. All the banks are lying. They are maliciously and wilfully deceiving the customer. If there was any justice then the police would be looking into this. The system is not fit for purpose.”

Consumer group Which? have also called for an investigation, stating that in a recent survey one in seven people said that money had been taken from their accounts without authorisation. Around half of these did not have the money refunded by the bank.

“We want the banks to look into these potential flaws,” said Cathy Neal from Which? Money, “because we have had many examples where the banks have said a pin was used and the customer said it hasn’t.”

Over 90 percent of UK card transactions at point-of-sale use chip and PIN, according to the UK Payments Administration. The attack does not affect ATM transactions, which use different standards. Mark Bowerman, a spokesman for the group which represents card companies, said that there was no evidence the attack was in use and emphasised that card fraud had fallen with the introduction of chip and PIN.

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Cquote1.svg We strongly refute the allegation that chip and PIN is broken Cquote2.svg

—Mark Bowerman, UK Payments Administration

“We are taking this paper very seriously, as maintaining excellent levels of card security is paramount,” he said. “However, we strongly refute the allegation that chip and PIN is broken.”

The research paper has been made available as a working draft, and is due to be published at the IEEE Security and Privacy Symposium in May 2010. Members of the banking industry were informed of the vulnerability in early December last year.

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Chicago Metra considers selling naming rights for train lines, stations

Chicago Metra considers selling naming rights for train lines, stations

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

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Ogilvie Transportation Center was previously named North Western Station, but no money exchanged hands during the renaming.
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Chicago’s Metra is currently considering the possibility of selling the naming rights to its train stations, rail lines, and even bridges to generate more revenue. 

The regional rail system for Chicago and its surrounding suburbs has been experiencing revenue shortfalls, along with other public transportation agencies such as the Chicago Transit Authority and Pace. They all rely on sales taxes and fares to fund their services, but the recent recession has reduced sales tax revenues, and unemployment has caused ridership to fall. Compared to 86.8 million trips in 2008, Metra reported that only 82.3 million trips were provided in 2009. As spokeswoman Judy Pardonnet said, “We’re looking at any opportunity to increase non-fare revenue.”

A law approved by former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich in 2008 granted free rides to all seniors regardless of income, adding to the decreasing fare revenues as well. State lawmakers are trying to restrict the free rides to low-income seniors; Metra has not yet commented on the issue, however. 

New designs put on the agency’s website last September has attracted more traffic, and Metra is considering selling advertising space online. In addition, advertising space could be sold on the outside of train cars as well. As for the naming rights to stations and routes, Metra plans to hire a consultant that would figure out the details of such a proposal. Spokesperson Meg Reihle did not know how much money Metra could gain from the sale or which organizations would be interested in buying. 

According to Ms. Reihle, public transit agencies in other cities have sold naming rights as well, such as the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority in Cleveland and Long Island Rail Road in Long Island. TECO Energy sponsors a rail line in Tampa’s Hillsborough Area Regional Transit for US$1 million over ten years. 

Mars Station is named after Mars Incorporated, but Metra receives no money from the candy maker.
Image: Zol87.

Throughout its 26-year history, Metra has named several of its locomotives and renamed two stations: Ogilvie Transportation Center, which was previously named North Western Station, and Millennium Terminal, which was previously called Randolph Street. No transactions were made in renaming those two stations, however. There is also a Station named after the candy maker Mars, but that station was named before Metra took it over, and the company doesn’t pay Metra for any naming rights. 

Cquote1.svg I think the business community recognizes that transit is positive for their advertising benefit Cquote2.svg

—Executive Director Phil Pagano

Execuive Director Phil Pagano sees the proposal as a way for businesses to advertise themselves. “I think the business community recognizes that transit is positive for their advertising benefit,” said Mr. Pagano at a board meeting. In addition to businesses, hospitals located near the train stations could purchase naming rights as well. However, Mr. Pagano has also stated that “the agency would be selective about the type of businesses it partners with.”

Metra has said that it will be sensitive to the wishes of the communities near the stops, and town names will not be removed from station names. Rather, both the municipality and the sponsoring organization would share the naming rights, such as in renaming Naperville Station to “Naperville Boeing Station”. “I’m not sure whether [the old name] is first or second, but definitely it’s going to have to be there,” said Mr. Pagano.



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Bill Clinton leaves hospital following heart procedure

Bill Clinton leaves hospital following heart procedure

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

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File photo of Bill Clinton in 2008.

Former US President Bill Clinton left New York Presbyterian Hospital on Friday after undergoing an hour-long operation to insert two stents into one of his coronary arteries the previous day. Clinton has had previous heart troubles. For instance, in 2004, the former president underwent quadruple bypass surgery in order to restore blood flow to four blocked arteries.

Dr. Allen Schwartz, the chief of cardiology at the hospital, publicly stated that there was “no evidence of [a] heart attack or [of] damage to [Clinton’s] heart,” and that what occurred was “not a result of either his lifestyle or diet, both of which have been excellent.”

According to a statement from a personal assistant to Clinton, he is currently convalescing at his home in Chappaqua, New York.

Those close to the family subsequently speculated that Clinton’s “punishing schedule” could possibly have caused these problems. Some of his recent work has included being a United Nations special envoy to Haiti, having previously visited the country twice since the , which struck the island nation on January 12 2010.

Clinton is now said to be in “good spirts” as having resumed much of his normal work.



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