Friday, July 6, 2012

The proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) was defeated in a plenary session of the European Parliament with 478 votes against versus 39 supporting; 165 parliamentarians chose to abstain.

Pressure and activist groups across Europe celebrated the defeat of the legislation, attributing their success to mobilising the public to bring pressure to bear on MEPs. In thanking supporters, the UK’s Open Rights Group (ORG) cautioned that Karel de Gucht, current European Commissioner for Trade, deferred any decision as to how the Commission will move forward until after a ruling from the European Court of Justice on ACTA’s compatibility with European law.

The controversial copyright- and trademark-related trade agreement previously provoked massive rallies and demonstrations across Europe. A petition against ACTA accrued two million signatures. In an editorial on the resounding defeat, where MEPs held up placards post-vote which read “Hello Democracy Goodbye ACTA”, The Guardian’s technology editor Charles Arthur said the agreement “didn’t stand a chance”. Arthur pointed out that some of the counterfeiting problems ACTA was, in part, supposed to address are ones which should concern people, particularly the risks associated with fake drugs. However, with the vague wording of the trade agreement raising the possibility of travellers’ electronic devices being searched for copyright-infringing content at customs and border checkpoints, he concluded the secretly-negotiated deal “never stood a chance against the internet tidal wave” of opposition.

Arthur also highlighted that secrecy surrounding the drafting of ACTA encouraged widespread public opposition; negotiations began under the presidency of George W. Bush, which rebuffed requests from the Electronic Frontier Foundation stating that all but ten of 800+ pages of related material were “classified in the interest of national security”. Following Barack Obama taking office, another Freedom of Information request was filed; again, access was denied with the Obama administration asserting that national security concerns justified the entire draft and related documents remaining secret.

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“ACTA has become a symbol for policy made in secrecy” ((de))German language: ?ACTA ist ein Symbol für Politik im Hinterzimmer geworden, stated Sebastian Nerz, vice-president of the Pirate Party of Germany. “We are hopeful now that Brussels has taken a stance against lobbyist interests. Upholding fundamental rights and civil liberties online seems no longer to be merely empty words for the European Members of Parliament.” ((de))German language: ?Dass sich Brüssel nun gegen die Interessen der Lobbyisten stellt, gibt Hoffnung. Die Wahrung der Grundrechte und Bürgerfreiheiten im Netz scheint zumindest für die Abgeordneten des Europäischen Parlaments nicht nur ein leeres Wort.

Protesters criticised the vague wording and legal uncertainty ACTA would have introduced. Widespread censorship of the internet and curtailment of freedom of speech were feared; patent regulations were highlighted as having potentially adverse impact on access to medicines and crop seeds. The trade agreement, which US-based pressure group Accessnow.org described as “giving the U.S. a structural competitive advantage over other countries”, had already amongst its signatories Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, and the United States.

The long-running campaign against ACTA can in part be traced to publication of a leaked draft of the agreement on whistleblowing site Wikileaks. Their analysis concluded one part of the document was “a ‘Pirate Bay killer’?”, and the then-leaked draft would force internet service providers to provide “perfunctionary[sic] disclosure of customer information” and would “likely outlaw multi-region CD/DVD players.”



Friday, June 27, 2014

With day three of the European Deaf Swimming Championships wrapped up on Wednesday in Saransk, Russia, the host nation continues to lead in total number of gold medals awarded.

Russian men swept the podium in the men’s 50m butterfly with Ilya Trishkin taking home gold and besting the previous European Championship Record with a time of 25.62. Fellow Russian Vitaliy Obotin finished first in the men’s 200m medley, setting a new European record in the process and beating out the next closest swimmer in today’s competition, Trishkin, by almost 5 seconds. Eleonora Brykanova won a gold in the women’s 100m freestyle. Martin Fomin finished first in the men’s 200m breaststroke, with a European Championship Record time of 2:24.27. Russian swimmers claimed half the total gold medals awarded on the day, and half the total of all medals awarded.

The remaining gold medals were distributed amongst four other countries. Ukraine’s Anna Tovsta won gold in the women’s 800m freestyle. Poland’s Artur Pioro finished first in the men’s 400m freestyle. Great Britain’s Danielle Joyce captured gold in the women’s 200m backstroke with a world record time of 2:25.38. Belarus’s Aksana Petrushenka finished first in the women’s 100m breaststroke. During the preliminary race, she set a new European Championship Record with a time of 1:15.33 before going on to better that time in the final with a time of 1:13.23.

Overall, Ukraine climbed one place over Germany in the overall medal rankings, having won four total medals on Wednesday. Poland and Great Britain also went up one spot each. Germany fell to sixth place, having won only one silver medal on the day. Swimmers from Greece, Latvia, Netherlands, Portugal, Republic of Macedonia, Spain and Turkey failed to win any medals.

Yesterday was an off day for swimming, and competition had continued today.

Total medals after day three of competition
Rank Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 Russia 15 13 10 38
2 Belarus 6 1 2 9
3 Ukraine 1 5 7 13
4 Poland 1 3 3 7
5 Great Britain 1 2 3 6
6 Germany 1 1 0 2
7 Greece 0 0 0 0
7 Latvia 0 0 0 0
7 Netherlands 0 0 0 0
7 Portugal 0 0 0 0
7 Republic of Macedonia 0 0 0 0
7 Spain 0 0 0 0
7 Turkey 0 0 0 0



Monday, August 26, 2013

German weekly publication Der Spiegel yesterday accused the United States’ National Security Agency (NSA) of spying on the United Nations headquarters in New York. The magazine claims to have access to official NSA documents, provided by former NSA and CIA computer specialist and current fugitive Edward Snowden.

If the allegations of bugging are confirmed, it would mean that the United States has breached International Treaties including the 1946 Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations. The Treaty states that countries must not carry out covert operations that relate to the UN’s activities.

“The property and assets of the United Nations, wherever located and by whomsoever held, shall be immune from search, requisition, confiscation, expropriation and any other form of interference, whether by executive, administrative, judicial or legislative action”, the Convention stipulates.

The documents analysed by Der Spiegel indicate that the NSA runs bugging programs in more than 80 embassies and consulates across the globe, in what is reportedly called the “Special Collection Service”.

Der Spiegel claimed that, according to their intelligence, the NSA was able to bug the UN headquarters by hacking into its video conferencing system in the summer of 2012. Their article included quotes from the leaked documents like ““The data traffic gives us internal video teleconferences of the United Nations (yay!)”.

Allegedly, decoded UN communications rose from 12 to 458 within three weeks of the NSA gaining access. Analysed documents also indicated the NSA found evidence Chinese spies were also monitoring the UN, and began logging what the Chinese were accessing.

The UN’s nuclear watchdog in Vienna, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the European Union are said to be among the organisations NSA spies have been targeting. The US government has previously denied any wrongdoing by the NSA, although President Barack Obama this month announced plans to curb government spying activities.



Contents

  • 1 January
  • 2 February
  • 3 March
  • 4 April
  • 5 May
  • 6 June
  • 7 July
  • 8 August
  • 9 September
  • 10 October
  • 11 November
  • 12 December

[edit]



Monday, November 5, 2018

On Friday, a storm caused a building to partially collapse in the Amazon Fulfillment Center at the warehouse of Amazon.com, a US-based online retailer, in south-east Baltimore, Maryland, United States. The storm removed the roof of the building, causing a 50 foot (about 15 m) concrete wall 8 inches (about 20 cm) thick to collapse. At least two people died, and as of Saturday one person reportedly remained missing.

Meg McNamara from the National Weather Service tweeted that the severe weather included two EF-1 tornadoes. The weather service said the tornadoes touched down at 8:20 p.m. and 9:42 p.m. local time, the second in Baltimore City impacting the Amazon warehouse.

On Saturday, the Baltimore Fire Department said in a tweet that they identified the victims as Israel Espana Argote and 54-year-old Andrew Lindsay. The Fire Department had conducted a search and rescue operation for bodies in the debris, involving heavy equipment.



byphineasgray

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Custom Services

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Friday, February 26, 2010

According to a government official, at least 26 people were killed in a stampede on Thursday at a historic mosque in the northwestern city of Timbuktu, Mali.

“There were 26 killed and 40 wounded,” Oumar Sangare, the Internal Ministry spokesman, told Reuters. However, other news agency reports put the death toll as low as fifteen.

An official, who requested to remain anonymous, said the accident could have begun as a result of renovation work on the Djingareyber mosque—which is made primarily of mud, and was built in the fourteenth century. Construction work blocked off some of the roads, and that could have been a factor in the incident. “The mosque is being renovated, financed by the Aga Khan, and the work is carried out by South African specialists,” the official told the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency.

“Because of these renovations, the passage on the north side of the mosque is closed off. On that side, to get through, the faithful found an improvised alleyway. But the alley couldn’t take the number of people using it. So there was a stampede. Somebody shouted ‘someone has died’ and panic took over,” the same official went on to say.

Others have remarked that rescue services responded “very quickly” to the stampede, and helped the “many injured.”

The Xinhua news agency reports the stampede started when an elderly woman fell in one of the town streets near the city’s main mosque, where a sermon was being conducted in front of a large crowd; a passersby then rushed to assist the woman, apparently disrupting the crowd’s movement and causing the stampede.

“People were circling the mosque, a ritual at each Mouloud [the observance of the Prophet Mohammed’s birthday] and there was a huge crowd build up,” commented Mohamed Bandjougou, one of the witnesses to the event, to AFP by telephone. “There were at least fifteen dead. The bodies were taken to the morgue.”

Authorities warned the number of injured may actually be higher than reported, saying that “we cannot rule out the fact that the number of those injured will increase because some of them are still hiding in their homes instead of coming to the hospital.” A hospital source commented that some of the people hurt were in critical condition, and needed to be evacuated to the capital, Bamako, as soon as possible.

The mosque’s imam, who gave his name as Asseyuti, commented on the incident. “We’re in mourning. What happened is a real trauma. We accept the will of God. He gives us life, he takes it away,” he said.

According to an official statement, Malian president Amandou Toumani Toure is traveling to Timbuktu from Bamako in light of the stampede.



Saturday, November 15, 2008

Scotland has refused bail to the Libyan man convicted of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 despite his terminal cancer, as he can receive treatment in prison. Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al-Megrahi was jailed in 2001 for the 1988 bombing of the transatlantic airliner, killing 270 people, but is seeking to have his conviction overturned.

Minutes after Edinburgh’s Appeals Court rejected bail on compassionate grounds Jim Swire, spokesman for the victim’s families who lost his daughter in the disaster, complained about the ruling. “It has never been a goal of our group to seek revenge,” said a lawyer outside the court reading from his statement. “The refusal of a return to his family for a dying man whose verdict is not even yet secure looks uncomfortably like either an aspect of revenge — or perhaps timidity.”

Al-Megrahi, a former intelligence officer, is 54 and serving a minimum of 27 years for the bombing. He has advanced prostate cancer which is spreading through his body. His request for bail was rejected by Lord Hamilton, Scotland’s head judge, who said that as doctors say he could live a few more years he should not be released unless and until after his appeal succeeds or his condition worsens.

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Some other doctors give his time as just months, as the cancer has reached his bones. Hamilton however said that palliative hormone treatment could prolong his life. Hamilton also said Al-Megrahi was not suffering “material pain or disability”.

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission ruled last year that the conviction may be a miscarriage of justice. It said there was significant doubts to be raised over several key pieces of evidence in the original trial.



Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Buffalo, New York —Two weeks after a 19th century stable and livery on Jersey Street partially collapsed and caused 15 homes to be evacuated in Buffalo, New York, residents still do not have answers from the city despite a court order to work with them and come to an agreement on a way to save some or all of the building, Wikinews has learned. Despite the frustration from residents, the city is planning on suing the building’s owner. A rally was held at the stable’s site where residents are hoping to bring more awareness to the situation and gain more support to save the building.

On June 11, a significant portion of the stable’s right side wall collapsed into the yard of a resident’s home. Authorities, including the Buffalo Fire Department were called to the scene to evaluate the collapse and evacuate 15 homes of residents surrounding the stable as a precautionary measure. The following day, the city ordered an emergency demolition on the building, which was stopped by a restraining order residents with Save The Livery (www.savethelivery.com) won on June 14. Two weeks later, five homes are still evacuated and residents don’t know when they will be able to return.

On June 19, Judge Justice Christopher Burns of the New York State Supreme Court ordered a halt to the emergency demolition and ordered the city and residents to come to an agreement to save the building, or at least a significant portion of it. Despite a court date today, no agreement has yet been reached between the two parties.

“It is in the interest of the city to have a safe environment–but also important to maintain a sense of historical preservation,” stated Burns in his June 19th ruling. The court ruled that a limited demolition could take place and that the city was only allowed to remove material in immediate danger to residents and pedestrians, but stated that the demolition could only be performed with “hand tools.” The court also ordered that any rubble which had fallen into neighboring yards when the building collapsed, to be removed. Since then, most of not all the significantly damaged portions of the building or portions in immediate danger of falling have been demolished. The roof has also been removed to put less stress on the stable’s walls.

“Its been over three years since we have been having problems with part of the livery falling down. There was an implosion two weeks ago and suddenly the city wanted to have an emergency demolition,” said Catherine Herrick who lives on Summer Street immediately behind the stable and is the main plaintiff in the lawsuit against the city. Many homes on Summer are small cottages which were used as servants quarters when the stable was in operation, many of which were built in the 1820’s. At least seven homes on Summer border the stable’s back walls. Residents in those homes have significant gardens which have been planted against the building and growing for decades.

“Both parties are to continue to work together to see how we can meet everybody’s needs. This is the third time we have been in that courtroom, and that is what we were basically told to do,” added Herrick who said the rally was held today because this “is Buffalo’s history. Buffalo is a wonderful place to live because of its history and this is a historical, beautiful building and we need to keep those beautiful buildings.”

Herrick states that the city is working with residents, but also believes that its “slow moving” and they are allowing the owner to get away with neglect on the property.

“I believe right now that they are letting the owner get off. The owner was negligent for 20 years, and hasn’t done anything to it despite what he has claimed to say. Now that this is an emergency situation, the city has a lot to say about it,” added Herrick.

Currently the building is owned by Bob Freudenheim who has several building violations against him because its poor condition. He has received at least five violations in three months and residents who live near the building state that Freudenheim should be “100% responsible” for his actions.

Freudenheim gave the city permission to demolish the building on June 12 during an emergency Preservation Board meeting, because he would not be “rehabilitating the building anytime soon.” Freudenheim, along with his wife Nina, were part-owners of the Hotel Lenox at 140 North Street in Buffalo and were advocates to stop the Elmwood Village Hotel from being built on the Southeast corner of Forest and Elmwood Avenues. They also financially supported a lawsuit in an attempt to stop the hotel from being built. Though it is not known exactly how long Freudenheim has owned the stable, Wikinews has learned that he was the owner while fighting to stop the hotel from being built. Residents say that he has been the owner for at least 22 years. Attorneys for Freudenheim confirm that the city is starting proceedings against him for his violations beginning as early as Wednesday June 25. Freudenheim has not released a statement and could not be reached for comment.

Many residents want the building preserved and Herrick states that their engineer can have it stable in “four days” as opposed to the 14-30 days it would take to demolish the building and “at a lesser cost than what it costs to demolish it.”

It will cost the city nearly US$300,000 to demolish the building which is paid for with tax money collected from residents in the city. The Buffalo News reports that fees are approaching $700,000. Though reports say there is a potential buyer of the stable, Wikinews cannot independently confirm those reports.

Residents say the stable was designed by Richard A. Waite, a 19th century architect, and was first owned by a company called White Bros., used as a stable and housed at least 30 horses at any given time. It also stored “coaches, coupes, broughams, Victorias and everything in the line of light livery,” stated an article from the West Side Topics dated 1906. According to the article, The company first opened in 1881 on Thirteenth Street, now Normal Avenue, and later moved into the Jersey building in 1892. The Buffalo Fire Department believes the building was built around 1814, while the city property database states it was built in 1870. It is believed to be only one of three stables of this kind still standing in the country.

At about 1950, the stable was converted into an automobile body shop and gasoline station.A property record search showed that in 1950 at least four fuel storage tanks were installed on the property. Two are listed as 550 square feet while the other two are 2,000 square feet. All of the tanks are designated as a TK4, which New York State says is used for “below ground horizontal bulk fuel storage.” The cost of installing a tank of that nature according to the state, at that time, included the tank itself, “excavation and backfill,” but did not include “the piping, ballast, or hold-down slab orring.” It is not known if the tanks are still on the property, but residents are concerned the city was not taking the precautions to find out.

Wikinews has called the city along with the Mayor’s office several times, but both have yet to return our calls. There are conflicting reports as to the date of the next hearing. According to Herrick, the next hearing is July 1, 2008 though the Buffalo News states the next hearing is July 8. The News also states that Burns will make a final ruling on the stable at this time.



Submitted by: Lanh Nguyen

The Blackened Teeth of Traditional Vietnamese Tribes

Asia is a land full of weird and wonderful customs and rituals. Throughout the continent there are literally thousands of different traditions that remain alive to this day and these customs often stem from religious beliefs that have been faithfully upheld for thousands of years.

Trekking through the gentle mountains of Northern Thailand, Laos and Vietnam is a great way to experience these traditions first hand.

A strangely interesting custom that is often misunderstood is the Vietnamese ritual of tooth blackening or tooth lacquering. Tooth blackening is not total uncommon for those Vietnamese people living traditional lives, nevertheless many tour guides still tell tourists the blackening is the result of chewing betel nut.

This mild stimulant comes in the form of a tiny parcel made up of betel nut, the fruit of an Areca tree, and lime paste wrapped in a leaf of the betel pepper vine. It is chewed in a similar way to tobacco and this stains the teeth.

It is actually quite easy to spot the difference between blackened teeth and those stained by betel nut the betel nut stains the teeth a dark red/brown color and the constant chewing and spitting is also a clear sign.

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Betel nut can be found all over Asia, predominantly in areas occupied by hill tribes, but the more abrasive procedure of tooth lacquering is a tradition that only really remains in Vietnam.

Mrs. Nguyen Thi Pham, a 67 year old Hanoian, dressed in a loose silk over blouse, black satin trousers, jade bracelet and necklace, described the ritual blackening of her teeth when she was 17. Pham waves her slender gold-ringed fingers as she described the party-like atmosphere of the ceremony

Her grandmother blackened her teeth as the rest of her family looked on joking and making joyful comments to her as her mouth was being painted. There needed to be three applications (every other day for a week) because natural saliva washed off the original application of chemicals. For that period of time she could not eat solids and could drink only through a straw

The ritual certified that she was grown up and ready for marriage. Although it was not a painful process for Pham, I have spoken to other women who recall that their mouths swelled up or that their gums burned and stung for days. The procedure could take place sometime after the age of ten when the child has all her permanent teeth but is usually done after menarche.

The chemical ingredients used to blacken the teeth can take several forms.

The lacquering process can take several forms. In Vietnam it is ration to use red sticklac, a resin obtained from secretions of a tiny aphid-like insect that sucks the sap of a host tree, as a dye.

The resin is diluted with lemon juice or rice alcohol and stored in the dark for a few days. It s then applied with pressure to all the teeth. An application of iron (mainly from iron nails) or copper from green or black alum and tannin from Chinese gall reacts with solution to give a blue-black insoluble coating.

In other areas of Southeast Asia coconut husk is burned to form a black sticky char that is then combined with nail filings and adhered to the tooth surface until the dye takes.

The traditional method once used by the Japanese was to make a mixture by soaking iron fillings in tea or sake. This liquid then turns black upon oxidation of the iron. Spices like cinnamon, cloves and anise were often added to the resin to reduce the harsh chemical taste of the dye.

As with most Asian traditions, there are long standing cultural reasons for tooth blackening.

It was believed that only savages wild animals and demons that long white teeth. The filing and blackening of the teeth, filing was also a popular procedure, was assurance that one would not be mistaken for an evil spirit.

In Japan tooth blackening was known as Ohagura. It was believed to enhance sex appeal in addition to maintaining healthy teeth. Linking tooth blackening to a prolonged set of teeth is not just a belief; studies have shown that those with blackened teeth maintain a full set of teeth for longer than those without lacquered teeth.

Similar procedures of tooth blackening and filing, were also performed by tribes from Indonesia and the Philippines. Back in 1938, a French survey found 80% of the countryside folk of Vietnam had blackened teeth. Medieval kings of Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries also blackened their teeth.

The procedure has been quite popular throughout Asian history. But when the French came to Vietnam, they did not appreciate the implied beauty and the procedure was discouraged. Since then the numbers of Vietnamese dropped drastically, but in these modern times, the traditional people of Vietnam are once again trying to revive an almost lost tradition.

About the Author: This article written by Lanh Nguyen from Vietnam Heritage TravelFor original article, please visit:

vietnamheritagetravel.com/news/1374-tooth-blackening-the-forgotten-tradition.htmltravelagencyinvietnam.com

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