Saturday, May 12, 2012

Following the announcement this week by U.S. President Barack Obama that he supports the legalisation of marriage for same-sex partners, the Obama campaign claims to have received an increase in donations and support from lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) supporters.

Financial support for Democratic politicians by LGBT groups had fallen to the lowest rate in 16 years, with only $590,000 raised so far in the election cycle. A June fundraising event planned in Los Angeles and focused on the LGBT community is likely to sell out and Obama’s campaign team is seeking to expand the event.

Gay people better get out there and support the president.

Chad Griffin, the incoming head of LGBT campaigning group the Human Rights Campaign, said that the President’s statement on marriage “will further energize an already excited base”. Obama supporter and Silicon Valley entrepreneur Wade Randlett said that the announcement “reminds people of the Obama they worked hard for in 2007, 2008. Someone who takes strong, bold stands”.

The sex advice columnist Dan Savage wrote on Twitter: “Gay people better get out there and support the president. If he loses in November, we’ll be blamed.”

Opponents of same-sex marriage have also used the President’s statement on the issue to raise money: the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) have run a three-day long “money bomb” fundraiser this week which raised $20,000. NOM plan to increase the amount spent on supporting candidates in federal elections this year.



Sunday, January 8, 2006Original Reporting

A woman in Australia has been killed in a shark attack. The attack occurred at 5pm (Local Time) just off Amity Point, North Stradbroke Island, south-east of Brisbane.

The woman, described as 21, had lost both arms up to the elbow and sustained severe wounds to her torso and legs. She was carried to shore by friends and was then flown by rescue helicopter to the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane. Surgeons were unable to save her.

The woman was holidaying from Brisbane with a church camp and attempts to contact her family have been made.

Emergency Services Rescue Helicopter crew officer Rod Morgan said the woman had suffered massive blood loss.

“She was very pale” he said, “We were diverted right away and were able to be on the scene within minutes and were able to have the patient at hospital within an hour of the attack.”

“She had life threatening injuries she had lost significant amounts of blood and the patient had what we would call an altered level of consciousness where it wasn’t able to communicate directly with the patient” said Queensland Ambulance paramedic Lachlan Parker.

There were many witnesses at the scene and they are now being interviewed by Police at Amity Point. They are described as being distraught.

One witness, who asks to not be identified, described that the victim was swimming in the sea with her Border Collie. When the attack happened, the dog ran home to raise the alarm.

“I was across the road from where she was staying and I saw the dog come flying up the road all wet and shivering and whimpering,” she said, “Then a little boy came running up and said the girl had lost her leg and her arm and everyone ran out of the house towards the beach. It was just a little black-and-white dog but he was crazy so I locked him under the house.”

Other reports claim that the woman had been scuba diving in murky shallow water approximately 15 metres from the shore.

The woman is believed to be from McDowall in Brisbane, but her name has not yet been released.

A resident of Amity Point for 20 years, Brad Ross, said tourists visiting the area have been warned of potential attacks; “The shore just falls away into 30m of water and there are plenty of bull sharks out there. People know when they enter the water there they’re stepping into a shark habitat.”

Other beaches on the island are protected by drum lines.

Queensland state police inspector Peter Harding believes from the severity of the woman’s injuries that she was attacked by a group of bull sharks, a species known for aggressive behavior this time of year. Water police will search for the sharks today and as a result, beaches on the east and west of Amity Point have been closed.

This is the first attack in the area since August 1972.

Local wisdom cautions against allowing dogs in the water at swimming beaches, because of a fear that they attract sharks, perhaps because of residue accumulated from fleas which live on the dog’s blood.



Thursday, July 31, 2008

From the middle of July, Sony Corporation refreshed their senior laptop brand VAIO from “Video Audio Integrated Operation” to “Visual Audio Intelligent Organizer”. According to Sony Taiwan Limited, this refreshment is an attempt to relocate the laptop consuming market for business and entertainment factors.

In the “VAIO Experience 2008” press conference in Europe, Sony promoted their new product series for different populations including BZ for business, FW for home entertainment, Z for ultra-slim, and SR for complex applications.

Different with past series, Sony added “Clear Bright” screening technology for high-definition display, and “full-carbon production” features. BD-burning and Intel Centrino 2 processing technologies will be featured in all the new models. For security issue, Sony also embedded fingerprint system to prevent personal data to be stolen. Continued from TZ series, innovative designs including “Green Power Button”, “Situational Switch” are also added in newly-launched series.

“Due to consuming market differences, Sony only promoted BZ series in Europe and America but not included Asia. Although the TICA Show in Taipei will be different, functionality will be the greatest issue when a consumers choose a notebook [computer] before buying.” addressed by executives from Sony Taiwan Limited, during the “VAIO Experience 2008” press conference in Taiwan.



Monday, December 3, 2007

At Thanksgiving dinner David Shankbone told his white middle class family that he was to interview Reverend Al Sharpton that Saturday. The announcement caused an impassioned discussion about the civil rights leader’s work, the problems facing the black community and whether Sharpton helps or hurts his cause. Opinion was divided. “He’s an opportunist.” “He only stirs things up.” “Why do I always see his face when there’s a problem?”

Shankbone went to the National Action Network’s headquarters in Harlem with this Thanksgiving discussion to inform the conversation. Below is his interview with Al Sharpton on everything from Tawana Brawley, his purported feud with Barack Obama, criticism by influential African Americans such as Clarence Page, his experience running for President, to how he never expected he would see fifty (he is now 53). “People would say to me, ‘Now that I hear you, even if I disagree with you I don’t think you’re as bad as I thought,'” said Sharpton. “I would say, ‘Let me ask you a question: what was “bad as you thought”?’ And they couldn’t say. They don’t know why they think you’re bad, they just know you’re supposed to be bad because the right wing tells them you’re bad.”

Contents

  • 1 Sharpton’s beginnings in the movement
  • 2 James Brown: a father to Sharpton
  • 3 Criticism: Sharpton is always there
  • 4 Tawana Brawley to Megan Williams
  • 5 Sharpton and the African-American media
  • 6 Why the need for an Al Sharpton?
  • 7 Al Sharpton and Presidential Politics
  • 8 On Barack Obama
  • 9 The Iraq War
  • 10 Sharpton as a symbol
  • 11 Blacks and whites and talking about race
  • 12 Don Imus, Michael Richards and Dog The Bounty Hunter
  • 13 Sources


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Late last month, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed objections to the United States Government’s ‘secret’ attempts to obtain Twitter account information relating to WikiLeaks. The ACLU and EFF cite First and Fourth amendment issues as overriding reasons to overturn government attempts to keep their investigation secret; and, that with Birgitta Jonsdottir being an Icelandic Parliamentarian, the issue has serious international implications.

The case, titled “In the Matter of the 2703(d) Order Relating to Twitter Accounts: Wikileaks, Rop_G, IOERROR; and BirgittaJ“, has been in the EFF’s sights since late last year when they became aware of the US government’s attempts to investigate WikiLeaks-related communications using the popular microblogging service.

The key objective of this US government investigation is to obtain data for the prosecution of Bradley Manning, alleged to have supplied classified data to WikiLeaks. In addition to Manning’s Twitter account, and that of WikiLeaks (@wikileaks), the following three accounts are subject to the order: @ioerror, @birgittaj, and @rop_g. These, respectively, belong to Jacob Apelbaum, Birgitta Jonsdottir, and Rop Gonggrijp.

Birgitta is not the only non-US citizen with their Twitter account targeted by the US Government; Gonggrijp, a Dutch ‘ex-hacker’-turned-security-expert, was one of the founders of XS4ALL – the first Internet Service Provider in the Netherlands available to the public. He has worked on a mobile phone that can encrypt conversations, and proven that electronic voting systems can readily be hacked.

In early March, a Virginia magistrate judge ruled that the government could have the sought records, and neither the targeted users, or the public, could see documents submitted to justify data being passed to the government. The data sought is as follows:

  1. Personal contact information, including addresses
  2. Financial data, including credit card or bank account numbers
  3. Twitter account activity information, including the “date, time, length, and method of connections” plus the “source and destination Internet Protocol address(es)”
  4. Direct Message (DM) information, including the email addresses and IP addresses of everyone with whom the Parties have exchanged DMs

The order demands disclosure of absolutely all such data from November 1, 2009 for the targeted accounts.

The ACLU and EFF are not only challenging this, but demanding that all submissions made by the US government to justify the Twitter disclosure are made public, plus details of any other such cases which have been processed in secret.

Bradley Manning, at the time a specialist from Maryland enlisted with the United States Army’s 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, was arrested in June last year in connection with the leaking of classified combat video to WikiLeaks.

The leaked video footage, taken from a US helicopter gunship, showed the deaths of Reuters staff Saeed Chmagh and Namir Noor-Eldeen during a U.S. assault in Baghdad, Iraq. The wire agency unsuccessfully attempted to get the footage released via a Freedom of Information Act request in 2007.

When WikiLeaks released the video footage it directly contradicted the official line taken by the U.S. Army asserting that the deaths of the two Reuters staff were “collateral damage” in an attack on Iraqi insurgents. The radio chatter associated with the AH-64 Apache video indicated the helicopter crews had mistakenly identified the journalists’ equipment as weaponry.

The US government also claims Manning is linked to CableGate; the passing of around a quarter of a million classified diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks. Manning has been in detention since July last year; in December allegations of torture were made to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights regarding the conditions under which he was and is being detained.

Reports last month that he must now sleep naked and attend role call at the U.S. Marine facility in Quantico in the same state, raised further concern over his detention conditions. Philip J. Crowley, at-the-time a State Department spokesman, remarked on this whilst speaking at Massachusetts Institute of Technology; describing the current treatment of Manning as “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid”, Crowley was, as a consequence, put in the position of having to tender his resignation to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Despite his native Australia finding, in December last year, that Assange’s WikiLeaks had not committed any criminal offences in their jurisdiction, the U.S. government has continued to make ongoing operations very difficult for the whistleblower website.

The result of the Australian Federal Police investigation left the country’s Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, having to retract a statement that WikiLeaks had acted “illegally”; instead, she characterised the site’s actions as “grossly irresponsible”.

Even with Australia finding no illegal activity on the part of WikiLeaks, and with founder Julian Assange facing extradition to Sweden, U.S. pressure sought to hobble WikiLeaks financially.

Based on a State Department letter, online payments site PayPal suspended WikiLeaks account in December. Their action was swiftly followed by Visa Europe and Mastercard ceasing to handle payments for WikiLeaks.

The online processing company, Datacell, threatened the two credit card giants with legal action over this. However, avenues of funding for the site were further curtailed when both Amazon.com and Swiss bank PostFinance joined the financial boycott of WikiLeaks.

Assange continues, to this day, to argue that his extradition to Sweden for questioning on alleged sexual offences is being orchestrated by the U.S. in an effort to discredit him, and thus WikiLeaks.

Wikinews consulted an IT and cryptography expert from the Belgian university which developed the current Advanced Encryption Standard; explaining modern communications, he stated: “Cryptography has developed to such a level that intercepting communications is no longer cost effective. That is, if any user uses the correct default settings, and makes sure that he/she is really connecting to Twitter it is highly unlikely that even the NSA can break the cryptography for a protocol such as SSL/TLS (used for https).”

Qualifying this, he commented that “the vulnerable parts of the communication are the end points.” To make his point, he cited the following quote from Gene Spafford: “Using encryption on the Internet is the equivalent of arranging an armored car to deliver credit card information from someone living in a cardboard box to someone living on a park bench.

Continuing, the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KUL) expert explained:

In the first place, the weak point is Twitter itself; the US government can go and ask for the data; companies such as Twitter and Google will typically store quite some information on their users, including IP addresses (it is known that Google deletes the last byte of the IP address after a few weeks, but it is not too hard for a motivated opponent to find out what this byte was).
In the second place, this is the computer of the user: by exploiting system weaknesses (with viruses, Trojan horses or backdoors in the operating system) a highly motivated opponent can enter your machine and record your keystrokes plus everything that is happening (e.g. the FBI is known to do this with the so-called Magic Lantern software). Such software is also commercially available, e.g. for a company to monitor its employees.
It would also be possible for a higly motivated opponent to play “man-in-the-middle”; that means that instead of having a secure connection to Twitter.com, you have a secure connection to the attacker’s server, who impersonates Twitter’s and then relays your information to Twitter. This requires tricks such as spoofing DNS (this is getting harder with DNSsec), or misleading the user (e.g. the user clicks on a link and connects to tw!tter.com or Twitter.c0m, which look very similar in a URL window as Twitter.com). It is clear that the US government is capable of using these kind of tricks; e.g., a company has been linked to the US government that was recognized as legitimate signer in the major browsers, so it would not be too large for them to sign a legitimate certificate for such a spoofing webserver; this means that the probability that a user would detect a problem would be very low.
As for traffic analysis (finding out who you are talking to rather than finding out what you are telling to whom), NSA and GCHQ are known to have access to lots of traffic (part of this is obtained via the UK-USA agreement). Even if one uses strong encryption, it is feasible for them to log the IP addresses and email addresses of all the parties you are connecting to. If necessary, they can even make routers re-route your traffic to their servers. In addition, the European Data Retention directive forces all operators to store such traffic data.
Whether other companies would have complied with such requests: this is very hard to tell. I believe however that it is very plausible that companies such as Google, Skype or Facebook would comply with such requests if they came from a government.
In summary: unless you go through great lengths to log through to several computers in multiple countries, you work in a clean virtual machine, you use private browser settings (don’t accept cookies, no plugins for Firefox, etc.) and use tools such as Tor, it is rather easy for any service provider to identify you.
Finally: I prefer not to be quoted on any sentences in which I make statements on the capabilities or actions of any particular government.

Wikinews also consulted French IT security researcher Stevens Le Blond on the issues surrounding the case, and the state-of-the-art in monitoring, and analysing, communications online. Le Blond, currently presenting a research paper on attacks on Tor to USENIX audiences in North America, responded via email:

Were the US Government to obtain the sought data, it would seem reasonable the NSA would handle further investigation. How would you expect them to exploit the data and expand on what they receive from Twitter?

  • Le Blond: My understanding is that the DOJ is requesting the following information: 1) Connection records and session times 2) IP addresses 3) e-mail addresses 4) banking info
By requesting 1) and 2) for Birgitta and other people involved with WikiLeaks (WL) since 2009, one could derive 2 main [pieces of] information.
First, he could tell the mobility of these people. Recent research in networking shows that you can map an IP address into a geographic location with a median error of 600 meters. So by looking at changes of IP addresses in time for a Twitter user, one could tell (or at least speculate about) where that person has been.
Second, by correlating locations of different people involved with WL in time, one could possibly derive their interactions and maybe even their level of involvement with WL. Whether it is possible to derive this information from 1) and 2) depends on how this people use Twitter. For example, do they log on Twitter often enough, long enough, and from enough places?
My research indicates that this is the case for other Internet services but I cannot tell whether it is the case for Twitter.
Note that even though IP logging, as done by Twitter, is similar to the logging done by GSM [mobile phone] operators, the major difference seems to be that Twitter is subject to US regulation, no matter the citizenship of its users. I find this rather disturbing.
Using 3), one could search for Birgitta on other Internet services, such as social networks, to find more information on her (e.g., hidden accounts). Recent research on privacy shows that people tend to use the same e-mail address to register an account on different social networks (even when they don’t want these accounts to be linked together). Obviously, one could then issue subpoenas for these accounts as well.
I do not have the expertise to comment on what could be done with 4).
((WN)) As I believe Jonsdottir to be involved in the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (IMMI), what are the wider implications beyond the “WikiLeaks witchhunt”?
  • Le Blond: Personal data can be used to discredit, especially if the data is not public.

Having been alerted to the ongoing case through a joint press release by the ACLU and EFF, Wikinews sought clarification on the primary issues which the two non-profits saw as particularly important in challenging the U.S. Government over the ‘secret’ court orders. Rebecca Jeschke, Media Relations Director for the EFF, explained in more detail the points crucial to them, responding to a few questions from Wikinews on the case:

((WN)) As a worse-case, what precedents would be considered if this went to the Supreme Court?
  • Rebecca Jeschke: It’s extremely hard to know at this stage if this would go to the Supreme Court, and if it did, what would be at issue. However, some of the interesting questions about this case center on the rights of people around the world when they use US Internet services. This case questions the limits of US law enforcement, which may turn out to be very different from the limits in other countries.
((WN)) Since this is clearly a politicised attack on free speech with most chilling potential repercussions for the press, whistleblowers, and by-and-large anyone the relevant U.S. Government departments objects to the actions of, what action do you believe should be taken to protect free speech rights?
  • Jeschke: We believe that, except in very rare circumstances, the government should not be permitted to obtain information about individuals’ private Internet communications in secret. We also believe that Internet companies should, whenever possible, take steps to ensure their customers are notified about requests for information and have the opportunity to respond.
((WN)) Twitter via the web, in my experience, tends to use https:// connections. Are you aware of any possibility of the government cracking such connections? (I’m not up to date on the crypto arms race).
  • Jeschke: You don’t need to crack https, per se, to compromise its security. See this piece about fraudulent https certificates:
Iranian hackers obtain fraudulent httpsEFF website.
((WN)) And, do you believe that far, far more websites should – by default – employ https:// connections to protect people’s privacy?
  • Jeschke: We absolutely think that more websites should employ https! Here is a guide for site operators: (See external links, Ed.)

Finally, Wikinews approached the Icelandic politician, and WikiLeaks supporter, who has made this specific case a landmark in how the U.S. Government handles dealings with – supposedly – friendly governments and their elected representatives. A number of questions were posed, seeking the Icelandic Parliamentarian’s views:

((WN)) How did you feel when you were notified the US Government wanted your Twitter account, and message, details? Were you shocked?
  • Birgitta Jonsdottir: I felt angry but not shocked. I was expecting something like this to happen because of my involvement with WikiLeaks. My first reaction was to tweet about it.
((WN)) What do you believe is their reasoning in selecting you as a ‘target’?
  • Jonsdottir: It is quite clear to me that USA authorities are after Julian Assange and will use any means possible to get even with him. I think I am simply a pawn in a much larger context. I did of course both act as a spokesperson for WikiLeaks in relation to the Apache video and briefly for WikiLeaks, and I put my name to the video as a co-producer. I have not participated in any illegal activity and thus being a target doesn’t make me lose any sleep.
((WN)) Are you concerned that, as a Member of Parliament involved in the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (IMMI), the US attempt to obtain your Twitter data is interfering with planned Icelandic government policy?
  • Jonsdottir: No
((WN)) In an earlier New York Times (NYT) article, you’re indicating there is nothing they can obtain about you that bothers you; but, how do you react to them wanting to know everyone you talk to?
  • Jonsdottir: It bothers me and according to top computer scientists the government should be required to obtain a search warrant to get our IP addresses from Twitter. I am, though, happy I am among the people DOJ is casting their nets around because of my parliamentary immunity; I have a greater protection then many other users and can use that immunity to raise the issue of lack of rights for those that use social media.
HAVE YOUR SAY
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
((WN)) The same NYT article describes you as a WikiLeaks supporter; is this still the case? What attracts you to their ‘radical transparency’?
  • Jonsdottir: I support the concept of WikiLeaks. While we don’t have a culture of protection for sources and whistleblowers we need sites like WikiLeaks. Plus, I think it is important to give WikiLeaks credit for raising awareness about in how bad shape freedom of information and expression is in our world and it is eroding at an alarming rate because of the fact that legal firms for corporations and corrupt politicians have understood the borderless nature of the legalities of the information flow online – we who feel it is important that people have access to information that should remain in the public domain need to step up our fight for those rights. WikiLeaks has played an important role in that context.I don’t support radical transparency – I understand that some things need to remain secret. It is the process of making things secret that needs to be both more transparent and in better consensus with nations.
((WN)) How do you think the Icelandic government would have reacted if it were tens of thousands of their diplomatic communications being leaked?
  • Jonsdottir: I am not sure – A lot of our dirty laundry has been aired via the USA cables – our diplomatic communications with USA were leaked in those cables, so far they have not stirred much debate nor shock. It is unlikely for tens of thousands of cables to leak from Iceland since we dont have the same influence or size as the USA, nor do we have a military.
((WN)) Your ambassador in the US has spoken to the Obama administration. Can you discuss any feedback from that? Do you have your party’s, and government’s, backing in challenging the ordered Twitter data release?
  • Jonsdottir: I have not had any feedback from that meeting, I did however receive a message from the DOJ via the USA ambassador in Iceland. The message stated three things: 1. I am free to travel to the USA. 2. If I would do so, I would not be a subject of involuntary interrogation. 3. I am not under criminal investigation. If this is indeed the reality I wonder why they are insisting on getting my personal details from Twitter. I want to stress that I understand the reasoning of trying to get to Assange through me, but I find it unacceptable since there is no foundation for criminal investigation against him. If WikiLeaks goes down, all the other media partners should go down at the same time. They all served similar roles. The way I see it is that WikiLeaks acted as the senior editor of material leaked to them. They could not by any means be considered a source. The source is the person that leaks the material to WikiLeaks. I am not sure if the media in our world understands how much is at stake for already shaky industry if WikiLeaks will carry on carrying the brunt of the attacks. I think it would be powerful if all the medias that have had access to WikiLeaks material would band together for their defence.
((WN)) Wikinews consulted a Belgian IT security expert who said it was most likely companies such as Facebook, Microsoft, and Google, would have complied with similar court orders *without advising the ‘targets*’. Does that disturb you?
  • Jonsdottir: This does disturb me for various reasons. The most obvious is that my emails are hosted at google/gmail and my search profile. I dont have anything to hide but it is important to note that many of the people that interact with me as a MP via both facebook and my various email accounts don’t always realize that there is no protection for them if they do so via those channels. I often get sensitive personal letters sent to me at facebook and gmail. In general most people are not aware of how little rights they have as users of social media. It is those of uttermost importance that those sites will create the legal disclaimers and agreements that state the most obvious rights we lose when we sign up to their services.
This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.
((WN)) Has there been any backlash within Iceland against US-based internet services in light of this? Do you expect such, or any increase in anti-American sentiments?
  • Jonsdottir: No, none what so ever. I dont think there is much anti-American sentiments in Iceland and I dont think this case will increase it. However I think it is important for everyone who does not live in the USA and uses social services to note that according to the ruling in my case, they dont have any protection of the 1st and 4th amendment, that only apply to USA citizens. Perhaps the legalities in relation to the borderless reality we live in online need to be upgraded in order for people to feel safe with using social media if it is hosted in the USA. Market tends to bend to simple rules.
((WN)) Does this make you more, or less, determined to see the IMMI succeed?
  • Jonsdottir: More. People have to realize that if we dont have freedom of information online we won’t have it offline. We have to wake up to the fact that our rights to access information that should be in the public domain is eroding while at the same time our rights as citizens online have now been undermined and we are only seen as consumers with consumers rights and in some cases our rights are less than of a product. This development needs to change and change fast before it is too late.

The U.S. Government continues to have issues internationally as a result of material passed to WikiLeaks, and subsequently published.

Within the past week, Ecuador has effectively declared the U.S. ambassador Heather Hodges persona-non-grata over corruption allegations brought to light in leaked cables. Asking the veteran diplomat to leave “as soon as possible”, the country may become the third in South America with no ambassadorial presence. Both Venezuela and Bolivia have no resident U.S. ambassador due to the two left-wing administrations believing the ejected diplomats were working with the opposition.

The U.S. State Department has cautioned Ecuador that a failure to speedily normalise diplomatic relations may jeapordise ongoing trade talks.

The United Kingdom is expected to press the Obama administration over the continuing detention of 23-year-old Manning, who also holds UK citizenship. British lawmakers are to discuss his ongoing detention conditions before again approaching the U.S. with their concerns that his solitary confinement, and treatment therein, is not acceptable.

The 22 charges brought against Manning are currently on hold whilst his fitness to stand trial is assessed.



Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A 6.0-magnitude earthquake struck Basyurt, in the Elazig province or eastern Turkey at 04:32 AM (02:32 GMT) on Monday. According to local Kandilli observatory, the quake struck at a depth of five kilometres; the epicenter was near Karakocan town in the same province.

The pre-dawn earthquake killed at least 40 people and almost 100 were injured. The village of Okcular was worst hit, claimed the press secretary for the provincial governor, Ozcan Yalcin. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, nearly five hours later, a magnitude-5.5 aftershock hit the province. 40 other aftershocks followed shortly, the highest of them being 4.4 magnitude, according to sources.

While no deaths were immediately reported, the government’s crisis management center soon put the toll at seventeen with another 60 injured according to the officials at Ankara, the capital. It was soon confirmed that at least 39 were dead; the toll is expected to rise. At least four of the victims were children.

Muammer Erol, the provincial governor of Elazig, stated Okcular, Yukari Kanatli and Kayali accounted for majority of the dead. He told CNN Turk that “villages consisting mainly of mud-brick houses have been damaged, but we have minimal damage such as cracks in buildings made of cement or stone”.

Okcular, the largest of the affected villages, accounted for at least seventeen of the dead. The village has a population of 800, and the majority of the dwellers live in mud-brick homes built on hillsides. About 25 to 30 houses were demolished in this village. “The village is totally flattened,” Hasan Demirdag, local administrator, told NTV.

Yadin Apaydin, the administrator of Yukari Kanatli, said his village had been severely affected. “Everything has been knocked down – there is not a stone in place,” he told CNN’s Turkey sister network, CNN Türk.

“Many houses have collapsed. Search and rescue teams have been sent to the area,” said the prime minister’s office in a statement. Injured people are being rushed to local hospitals according to sources. At least 100 people have been taken to hospital. Some who panicked after the first quake jumped from balconies or windows were injured.

Rescue workers, consisting of policemen as well as civilians dug with shovels to rescue people from the debris. The Turkish Red Crescent is also sending tents and blankets to be distributed. Neighboring districts are providing ambulances to assist the victims. Cemil Cicek, deputy Prime Minister of Turkey has left for the disaster area. Health Minister Recep Akdag, Housing Minister Mustafa Demir and State Minister Cevdet Yilmaz are accompanying him.

According to CNN Türk, the tremor of the earthquake was felt in the adjacent provinces of Bitlis and Diyarbakir, causing residents to panic.

Turkey lies on highly active fault lines and earthquakes often hit the nation. A 7.4-magnitude earthquake in Istanbul killed 20,000 people in August 1999. Most of the earthquakes that hit Turkey are usually minor.



Monday, February 25, 2019

On Friday, a federal judge in Texas ruled the United States federal government’s practice of registering men but not women for the draft, or military conscription, is unconstitutional.

In response to a lawsuit by the men’s rights group National Coalition for Men, U.S. District Judge Gray Miller ruled the male-only draft violated the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution. He said the rationale for difference along gender lines from a previous Supreme Court ruling, that women were ineligible to serve in combat, no longer applies. Women, who make up 16% of the U.S. military enlisted and 18% of officers as of 2016, according to nonprofit CNA, have been serving official combat roles since 2015.

“While historical restrictions on women in the military may have justified past discrimination,” reads Judge Miller’s statement, “men and women are now ‘similarly situated for purposes of a draft or registration for a draft.’ […] If there ever was a time to discuss ‘the place of women in the Armed Services,’ that time has passed.”

By law, all male permanent residents of the United States over the age of 18 must register for the Selective Service System. This both renders them eligible for certain public services and identifies them for the draft, or military conscription, were a draft to be imposed.

Part of the judge’s statement reads “the average woman could conceivably be better suited physically for some of today’s combat positions than the average man, depending on which skills the position required. Combat roles no longer uniformly require sheer size or muscle.” He went on to cite the Supreme Court ruling permitting same-sex marriage.

The ruling was a declaration, placing no injunction on the government to immediately change the Selective Service System.

There is currently a commission engaged to study the role of the draft, and the government asked Judge Miller to delay his ruling until after they made their recommendations, but he declined. USA Today noted the commission’s scope allows it to advise including women in the draft or eliminating the draft entirely.

The last draft in the United States took place in 1973 during the Vietnam War.



Wednesday, April 13, 2005The local government of Arad County in western Romania today launched a project calling for the creation of a new industrial area in the commune of Zimandul Nou. They have already allocated 0.3 km² for this project, with more land being expected to be allocated for the industrial precinct.

The president of Arad Couty Council, Iosif Matula, says that the labour force in the area is qualified in industrial occupations, especially in the fields of textiles, furniture, electronics and tools industries. The site also already has all the necessary infrastructure, such as gas, access to sewage and a water purifying facility.

The industrial area will be located on the outskirts of the Zimandul Nou commune, which is a fairly small, rural town. The proposed Zimandul Nou industrial area is one of the latest development projects by the Arad County Council, which has, since a few years ago, embarked on a fairly wide-ranging project of attracting foreign investment and developing further industry in rural areas.

The county capital, Arad, with a population of nearly 190,000, is one of Romania’s largest industrial centres and is a major centre for foreign investment, but the county council would like to see more industry heading to the rural areas. The Zimandul Nou precinct will be the eighth industrial zone in a formerly-rural area in the county. The other seven areas have already attracted combined foreign investments of over 120 million euro.



Friday, October 2, 2009

Companies in the United States are shedding more jobs, pushing the country’s unemployment rate to a 26-year high of 9.8%.

The US Labor Department said on Friday that employers cut 263,000 jobs in September, with companies in the service industries — including banks, restaurants and retailers — hit especially hard. This is the 21st consecutive month of job losses in the country.

The United States has now lost 7.2 million jobs since the recession officially began in December 2007. The new data has sparked fears that unemployment could threaten an economic recovery. Top US officials have warned that any recovery would be slow and uneven, and some have predicted the unemployment rate will top 10% before the situation improves.

“Continued household deleveraging and rising unemployment may weigh more on consumption than forecast, and accelerating corporate and commercial property defaults could slow the improvement in financial conditions,” read a report by the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook, predicting that unemployment will average 10.1% by next year and not go back down to five percent until 2014.

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Economy.com, said that “it’s a very fragile and tentative recovery. Policy makers need to do more.”

“The number came in weaker than expected. We saw a lot of artificial involvement by the government to prop up the markets, and now that that is starting to end, the private sector isn’t yet showing signs of life,” said Kevin Caron, a market strategist for Stifel, Nicolaus & Co.

Also on Thursday, the US Commerce Department said factory orders fell for the first time in five months, dropping eight-tenths of a percent in August. Orders for durable goods — items intended to last several years (including everything from appliances to airliners) — fell 2.6%, the largest drop since January of this year.

The US government has been spending billions of dollars — part of a $787 billion stimulus package — to help spark economic growth. There have been some signs the economy is improving.

The Commerce Department said on Thursday that spending on home construction jumped in August for its biggest increase in 16 years. A real estate trade group, the National Association of Realtors, said pending sales of previously owned homes rose more than 12 percent in August, compared to August 2008.

A separate Commerce Department report said that consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of US economic activity, rose at its fastest pace in nearly eight years, jumping 1.3 percent in August.

Other reports have provided cause for concern. A banking industry trade group said Thursday the number of US consumers making late payments, or failing to make payments, on loans and credit cards is on the rise. A survey by a business group, the Institute for Supply Management, Thursday showed US manufacturing grew in September, but at a slower pace than in August when manufacturing increased for the first time in a year and a half.

Stock markets reacted negatively to the reports. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 41 points in early trading, reaching a level of 9467. This follows a drop of 203 points on Thursday, its largest loss in a single day since July. The London FTSE index fell 55 points, or 1.1%, to reach 4993 points by 15.00 local time.



Saturday, March 29, 2008

Work to extend the East London railway line reached a significant milestone today as a new bridge was lowered into position over a street in Shoreditch, London. The line, previously part of the London Undeground, is being extended to become part of the London Overground network.

The 350 tonne, 35 metre long tied arch bridge required the use of Britain’s largest mobile crane to get it into position.

Transport for London project manager Barrie Noble said, “I’ve been in this business a good many years and have led a fair few extraordinary projects, but lifting this bridge in really will be something to behold.”

“I can’t say how proud I am of the team behind it, both the TfL engineers and the contractors we are using.”

The bridge was manufactured in Chepstow, Wales and assembled on-site.

A section of Shoreditch High Street will remain closed over the weekend as the bridge is secured in place. The East London line closed in December 2007 and is due to reopen in stages from 2010.



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