23 August

Australian state of Victoria swears in new cabinet

Friday, August 3, 2007

At 11:20 a.m. in the Australian state of Victoria, the Governor David de Kretser started the ceremony for the swearing in of the new Brumby’s cabinet, attended by family and friends of the ministers. This comes a full week after the resignation of Steve Bracks from the top position, and his deputy John Thwaites.

The ministers and their portfolios are:

  • John Brumby has the role of Premier as well as the ministries of Multicultural Affairs and Veterans Affairs,
  • Deputy Premier Rob Hulls has the Industrial Relations and Racing,
  • Gavin Jennings Environment and Climate Change, and Innovation
  • Lynne Kosky has Public Transport and the Arts,
  • John Lenders is the new Treasurer,
  • Justin Madden retains his portfolio of Planning minister,
  • James Merlino takes on multiple roles of: Minister Assisting the Premier on Multicultural Affairs, Sport and Recreation and Youth Affairs
  • Maxine Morand Children and Early Childhood Development
  • Lisa Neville has Mental Health, Community Services and Senior Victorians,
  • Tim Pallas retains Roads and Ports,
  • Bronwyn Pike changes to Education,
  • Tony Robinson has the multiple portfolios of Gaming, Consumer Affairs and the Minister Assisting the Premier on Veterans Affairs,
  • Theo Theophanous retains Industry and trade and major projects, gains minister for Information Technology but loses Small Business,
  • Richard Wynne has Housing, Local Government and Aboriginal Affairs,
  • Peter Batchelor has Energy and Resources, and Community Development,
  • Bob Cameron retains Police and Emergency Services, and the Corrections portfolios,
  • Joe Helper retains both Agriculture, and Small Business,
  • Tim Holding has the Water, WorkCover, Finance, Tourism and Major Events and the TAC Ministries,
  • Jacinta Allan has the Regional and Rural Development, and Skills and Workforce Participation from the Education Ministry.
  • Daniel Andrews has Health
23 August

Wikinews Shorts: March 28, 2007

A compilation of brief news reports for Wednesday, March 28, 2007.

Contents

  • 1 US to seek less than 20 years for Hicks
  • 2 Global stock markets are lower
  • 3 Gunmen kill 50 overnight in Sunni district in Iraq
  • 4 UK releases GPS data in dispute with Iran
  • 5 First black airmen in US Airforce to be honored

The United States will reportedly seek a jail sentence of less than 20 years for Australian David Hicks. He pleaded guilty to providing material support for terrorism, but not an act of terrorism. Hicks may be sentenced by the end of the week. He could be returned to Australia to serve out his sentence, with credit for the years at Guantanamo Bay.

Related news

  • “Guantanamo detainee David Hicks pleads guilty to providing “material support”” — Wikinews, March 27, 2007
  • “US charges Australian David Hicks” — Wikinews, March 26, 2007

Sources


US stocks fell on Tuesday starting another round of global selling, as worries about the US housing market and weaker consumer confidence. Lennar Corp., one of the largest US home builders reported that profits fell 73%. Wednesday, Asia markets opened steady to higher, but fell as rising oil prices and the geopolitcal standoff between Britain and Iran made investors seek the safety of government bonds. European and North American markets are trading lower in the Wednesday trading session.

Sources


In an apparent reprisal for bombings in Shi’ite areas, gunmen went on a rampage in a Sunni in Tal Afar, Iraq, killing about 50 people. There have been reports that the gunmen included police.

Sources


The United Kingdom has made public GPS data that it says proves that the 15 navy personnel were well inside Iraqi waters when they were seized by Iran. Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said the dispute would be solved “based on rules and regulations” and that the female sailor would be released soon.

Related news

  • “UK prepared to go ‘into different phase’ if sailors and marines not released by Iran within days” — Wikinews, March 27, 2007
  • “British sailors detained by Iran “to be tried for espionage”” — Wikinews, March 25, 2007
  • “15 Royal Navy sailors captured at gunpoint by Iranian guards” — Wikinews, March 23, 2007

Sources


Surviving members of the 332d Air Expeditionary Group and 99th Pursuit Squadron, widely known as the Tuskegee Airmen, will be honored on Thursday by President Bush at a ceremony at the US Capitol. They will receive the Congressional Gold Medal for fighting both the Nazis abroad and racial segregation at home.

Sources

18 August

U.S. Supreme Court eases government ability to seize property

June 24, 2005

In a major decision, the Supreme Court of the United States has expanded the right of government to seize private property for public good by allowing the city of New London, Connecticut to invoke eminent domain and seize homeowners’ property for economic development reasons.

In a closely-divided decision, 5–4, the court determined that the city’s economic development plan constituted a “public use”, and therefore qualified under the U.S. Constitution’s fifth amendment’s Eminent Domain clause.

Justice John Paul Stevens wrote the majority decision, and was joined by Justices David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer and Anthony Kennedy. “Promoting economic development is a traditional and long accepted function of government,” Stevens wrote, and justified the decision further by saying municipal authorities are better positioned to make decisions regarding a community’s best interests than judges.

Writing the dissenting opinion, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor rejected the economic justification as a public use, pointing out that wealthy individuals are more capable of defending themselves and so are less at risk. But the greatest issue was the likelihood of abuse of eminent domain:

“The specter of condemnation hangs over all property. Nothing is to prevent the state from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall or any farm with a factory.” A separate dissent was also included written by Justice Clarence Thomas.

[edit]

18 August

BP says Gulf oil spill slowed as estimates of oil spilled increase

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A US Coast Guard official said today that BP’s latest effort to plug the Gulf of Mexico oil spill has been successful in slowing the amount of oil leaking from the well.

The official, Admiral Thad Allen, said that the procedure, known as a “top kill” operation, has been able to block some of the leaking oil at the source, the top of the damaged well. The operation involves pumping material into the well to plug the leak before cement is used to permanently seal the leak. Allen said the operation has “been able to force mud down and not allow any hydrocarbons to come up.”

BP hasn’t confirmed the success of the top kill operation, saying only that the “operation is proceeding as we planned it,” and that there had been no major incidents thus far. Although the possibility of failure is still present, experts say that the longer the procedure continues, the less likely it will be that anything goes wrong.

The procedure began yesterday afternoon, after diagnostics on the damaged equipment on the ocean’s surface indicated that it could withstand the added pressure of the mud being pumped into the well. Although engineers involved with the operation wore concerned that the pressure of the mud might not be able to overcome that of the oil, that has thus far not been the case.

Separately, a group of US scientists announced new estimates of how much oil was flowing from the well, ranging from 12,000 to 25,000 barrels a day, far higher than BP’s original estimate of 5,000 barrels a day, a figure which BP warned was possibly inaccurate.

In a press conference Thursday afternoon, US president Barack Obama also announced new measures in response to the spill, which include:

  • Suspending off-shore test drilling for six months
  • Extending the moratorium on issuing drilling permits for an additional six months
  • Cancelling the sale of leases for off-shore drilling.

In statements, Obama criticized the “scandalously close relationship” between government officials and oil companies in the past, saying that the Mineral Management Service, which is the agency responsible for monitoring off-shore drilling, had been corrupt for years.

4 August

Judge orders residents and city to come to agreement on partially collapsed building in Buffalo, New York

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Buffalo, New York —Judge Justice Christopher Burns of the New York State Supreme Court has ordered a halt to an emergency demolition on a 19th century stable and livery on 428-430 Jersey Street in Buffalo, New York that partially collapsed on Wednesday June 11, initially causing at least 15 homes to be evacuated. At least two homes remain evacuated.

Burns orders that both the city and the group Save The Livery (www.savethelivery.com) have to come to an agreement on what to do with the building, and try to work out ways of saving at least some portions if it including the facade, side walls and a lift tower. Save The Livery is comprised of concerned area residents who have grown to love the building’s historic and unique character. On June 14, they won a temporary restraining order to stop demolition. The court ruled 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.

“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 ruling. Burns has given the sides until tomorrow (Friday June 20) to come to an agreement and has ordered both parties to return to court at 9:30 a.m. (eastern time) “sharp.” Activists of Save The Livery urge supporters of the stable to “fill the courtroom” to show “continued and ongoing support.” The hearing is scheduled to take place at 25 Delaware Avenue in the Supreme Court building, 3rd Floor, trial part 19.

Currently the building is owned by Bob Freudenheim who has several building violations against him because of the buildings 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. Many are afraid that if the building is demolished, Freudenheim’s charges of neglect will be abolished.

On June 17, developer and CEO of Savarino Companies, Sam Savarino was at the site of the stable, discussing the building with residents and preservationists. In 2006, Savarino proposed and planned The Elmwood Village Hotel, a ‘botique’ hotel on the Southeast corner of Elmwood and Forest Avenues. The project was later withdrawn after residents filed a lawsuit against Savarino and the city. Wikinews extensively covered the story, and contacted Savarino for his professional opinion on the building.

“[I would] love to see it preserved. I was there to see if there was anything we could do to help, to see if anything can be salvaged. I just want to see the right thing happen, and so does the city,” stated Savarino to Wikinews who added that he was allowed inside the building for a brief period.

“The side walls are beyond repair. The roof has rotted and it could come down at any time,” added Savarino who also said that the building “below the second floor appears to be stable.” He also states that the back wall of the building, which borders several homes, appears to be intact.

“Eliminating the back wall could be a problem for the neighbors. It is not unreasonable to leave at least 12 feet” of the back wall standing, added Savarino.

Savarino did not say if he was interested in buying the property, but did state, “I am sure there are a couple of people interested” in buying the property. On Thursday, Buffalo News reported that a “businessman” might be interested in purchasing the property, though Wikinews is not able to independently confirm the report. Savarino says that with the property still slated for emergency demolition, a potential buyer could face tax fees of nearly US$300,000.

Freudenheim gave the city permission to demolish the building on Thursday 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. 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.

The building was first owned by a company called White Bros. and was used as a stable for a farm which once covered the land around the building for several blocks. The Buffalo Fire Department believes the building was built around 1814, while the city property database states it was built in 1870. Servants and workers of the farm were housed inside resident quarters situated at the rear of the building on what is now Summer Street, but are now cottages where area residents currently reside. Some date as far back as 1829.

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.

27 July

Parts of internet break as ‘512k day’ reached by routers

Thursday, August 14, 2014

On Tuesday many internet routers, used to find the pathways to different parts of the web, reached their memory limit of 512,000 entries in the tables they use to store the routes, causing problems for many users.

A router is used to direct a user towards the area of the internet where they will find the content they are looking for, e.g. a web page. The recent problem was caused by the arbitrary memory limit built into the design of many aging routers. A limit was needed to prevent the cost of hardware from becoming prohibitively expensive in the days when physical data storage was still comparatively expensive. This small amount of memory in turn limits the number of directions which can be stored on a single router leading to different parts of the internet. When this limit was reached, it caused outages of services among Internet Service Providers. Many routers, including older ones provided by Cisco Systems Inc., are limited to storing a total of 512,000 routes or paths.

This limit was reached on Tuesday, reported to have been triggered by Verizon publishing another 15,000 paths. Those affected included eBay, LastPass, and clients of the web hosting company Liquid Web, who lost much of their services until Verizon withdrew some of these new paths. Problems nevertheless continued throughout the day, even after the withdrawal.

A longer term fix is possible, but it would require manually replacing old routers with newer, more capable ones. It is hard to tell what issues would temporarily cascade though the internet by taking down routers from part of the internet for maintenance. Many experts have warned that problems could continue until these difficult fixes have been implemented, although the recent switch to a newer form of IP Addresses, IPv6, will temporarily help the issue. Wired News reported that Andre Toonk, a network engineer, had stated that the number of network outages on the internet, typically around 1,500, yesterday peaked at 2,587, enough to become clearly noticeable.

27 July

Bush nominates Harriet Ellan Miers for U.S. Supreme Court

Monday, October 3, 2005

President George W. Bush today nominated Harriet Ellan Miers to replace Sandra Day O’Connor as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, who announced her retirement intentions July 1, 2005.

Bush originally nominated John G. Roberts, Jr. to replace O’Connor, but following the death of Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Roberts was renominated and confirmed as Chief Justice of the United States.

Bush’s nomination was not totally unexpected because senators from both political parties reportedly suggested her as a potential nominee, and because she had lead Bush’s search team for his second nominee. That mirrors Dick Cheney’s selection as Bush’s Vice Presidential candidate in 2000 after Cheney led the search team for that post.

Miers attended Southern Methodist University. She earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, and a law degree. She was in private law practice from 1972 to 1999, served one term as a member of the Dallas City Council, and as Chair of the Texas Lottery Commission. Since Bush’s 2000 election she served in a variety of roles in his administration, and is currently White House Counsel.

Some critics have opposed Miers’ nomination, noting that she has never served as a jurist or argued a case before the Supreme Court. The White House in response noted that neither the late judge William Rehnquist nor 35 other past Supreme Court nominees had judicial experience before being named to the Court. It also noted that 10 of the last 34 justices appointed since 1933 were appointed directly from positions within the respective sitting presidents’ administrations.

Senate hearings on the nomination are been scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 6, 2005 at 2:30pm

Chief Justice Roberts was confirmed with 78 to 22 favorable vote. In recent decades confirmation hearings have been more contentious because politicians have attempted to maintain a perception of balance on the court. While Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg was confirmed easily in 1993 following a 96 to 3 vote, Justice Clarence Thomas was confirmed by a 52 to 48 vote — largely along party lines.

The website justicemiers.com, which is running banner ads supporting the nominee, was registered September 29th, 2005 to Progress for America. The registration was made several days before the nomination was announced. According to SourceWatch, Progress for America is a non-profit organization closely associated with the Bush administration.

27 July

On the campaign trail in the USA, October 2016

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The following is the sixth and final edition of a monthly series chronicling the U.S. 2016 presidential election. It features original material compiled throughout the previous month after an overview of the month’s biggest stories.

In this month’s edition on the campaign trail: the Free & Equal Foundation holds a presidential debate with three little-known candidates; three additional candidates give their final pleas to voters; and past Wikinews interviewees provide their electoral predictions ahead of the November 8 election.

Contents

  • 1 Summary
  • 2 Free & Equal Debate
  • 3 Final pleas
  • 4 Predictions
  • 5 Related articles
  • 6 Sources
27 July

Achieving Your Goals With A Business School In Florida

byAlma Abell

A business degree gives people an advantage over the competition. With a degree, you should have all the necessary skills to make a business innovative and successful. Students today don’t even have to leave home to get a degree, as many prominent schools have online programs.Experts say going to business school gives you credibility. Having an MBA shows that you have the skills equal to other executives. Further, it shows you have the intelligence to obtain an MBA, a daunting task for anyone. Another benefit is learning to think in a business mindset. This mindset allows you to adapt quickly to changes, and make plans for the future. Business school also teaches you the business lingo and verbage. You’ll be fluent in everything from sales to finance. It is a good investment for people with a lot of interests. You will certainly learn information that will prepare you for whatever field you choose.

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Are you planning to attend Business School in Florida? Florida has many fine schools, including Millennia Atlantic University. Millennia offers undergraduate programs in Business Administration and Human Resource Management. At the graduate level, Millennia offers an on-site and on-line MBA program. Students may also earn a Master’s in Human Resource Management.

Undergraduate admission requirements:1. high school diploma or recognized equivalent2. completed application form3. non-refundable application fee of $50.00

Graduate admission requirements:1. Proof of successful completion of a Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited university2. 2 letters of recommendation (from a former professor, instructor or employer)3. Completed application form4. Non-refundable application fee of $50.005. Evidence of TOEFEL score of 62 or higher (when degree or studies are from another country where English is not the primary languageAttending Business School in Florida prepares you for many different opportunities. The degree gives you skills in accounting, finance, statistics and business strategies. Jobs will be available in a wide variety of areas including auditing, accounting, human resources, sales and marketing. In a downtrodden economy, some business graduates may have to start in entry-level jobs, while motivated students may try to open a business. It takes a great deal of hard work and determination to own, and operate a successful business; however, the rewards, can be sweet, when your business is a major success.

27 July

ACLU, EFF challenging US ‘secret’ court orders seeking Twitter data

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.
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((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.


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