British surfers catch more than waves: Scientists find antibiotic-resistant bacteria

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British surfers catch more than waves: Scientists find antibiotic-resistant bacteria

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

In findings published Sunday in Environmental International, a team from Britain’s University of Exeter reports that surfers and bodyboarders are roughly three times as likely to house antibiotic-resistant Escherichia coli and other bacteria that could easily become resistant, than other people who recreate in the coastal waters of the United Kingdom.

The epidemiological study was nicknamed the “Beach Bum Survey”. The project was performed on 143 regular surfers, body surfers and bodyboarders from around the United Kingdom. Each surfgoing participant was asked to recruit a non-surfing friend of the same sex and approximate age and who lived in the same part of the country to serve as a control, which resulted in a control group of 130.

All participants mailed in rectal swabs, and the researchers cultured the E. coli from those samples with a common antibiotic called cefotaxime. The antibiotic failed to kill the bacteria in about 9% (13 out of 143) of surfer and bodyboarder samples and 3% of the samples from the control group (4 out of 130). A deeper look into the genomes of the specific strains of bacteria found in the study volunteers showed that bacteria from surfers were four times as likely to possess genes that can be transferred from one bacterial strain to another, which can help antibiotic-susceptible bacteria become resistant. The study also involved examination of water samples from the coasts of England and Wales to estimate the risk of surfers and other beachgoers ingesting E. coli.

E. coli is a regular resident in the guts of humans and other animals. Most strains are harmless but others can cause serious disease. Like other bacteria, E. coli can undergo horizontal gene transfer, swapping genes from one bacterium to another. This can give the altered strain the ability to cause disease, survive in the presence of antibiotics or both.

Although the researchers expressed concern surfers might spread dangerous bacteria, Dr. Will Gaze, the University of Exeter Medical School professional who supervised the project, urged people not to avoid the beach: “We are not seeking to discourage people from spending time in the sea, an activity which has a lot of benefits in terms of exercise, well-being and connecting with nature”, he said. “It is important that people understand the risks involved so that they can make informed decisions about their bathing and sporting habits. We now hope that our results will help policy-makers, beach managers, and water companies to make evidence-based decisions to improve water quality even further for the benefit of public health.”

David Smith, science and policy officer of Surfers Against Sewage, which helped organise the volunteers, agreed the study was not meant to discourage surfing: “Water quality in the UK has improved vastly in the past 30 years and is some of the cleanest in Europe. Recognising coastal waters as a pathway for antibiotic resistance can allow policy makers to make changes to protect water users and the wider public from the threat of antibiotic resistance.”

One of the principal findings of this work was that existing methods may have been underestimating the prevalence of these bacteria in seawater. Previous studies have shown that even designated swimming beaches can be affected by runoff from farms or even sewage, and surfers swallow roughly ten times as much seawater as swimmers. Professor Colin Gardner of the charity Antibiotic Research UK says, these forms of runoff can have even higher concentrations of antibiotics than patients undergoing antibiotic treatment. “Research into new medicines to replace our archaic antibiotics has stagnated and unless new treatments are found, this could be potentially devastating for human health”, he warns.

The World Health Organization has reported that because so many kinds of bacteria are gaining resistance to common medicines, conditions such as pneumonia and gonnorhea may become more difficult to treat and have higher rates of sickness and death. Doctors often prescribe preventative antibiotics to patients undergoing surgery or radiation therapy, and this may also be impacted. Professor Sally Davies, England’s chief medical officer, has described a “post-antibiotic apocalypse” scenario

The European Regional Development Fund and Natural Environment Research Council provided funding for the study.

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Spelbound declared winner of Britain’s Got Talent 2010

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Spelbound declared winner of Britain’s Got Talent 2010

Monday, June 7, 2010

An acrobatic group known by the name of Spelbound has been declared as the winner of Britain’s Got Talent 2010, a televised variety talent show competition broadcast on ITV in the United Kingdom. As the winning act of the show, Spelbound have won £100,000 (US$144,580, €120,313, A$175,079) and a place at The Royal Variety Performance, an annual gala evening that is attended by senior members of the British Royal Family.

In no particular order, the top three acts were revealed to be two dancers known by their stage name of Twist and Pulse, gymnastic group Spelbound and Kieran Gaffney, whose act involves playing on the drum kit. After Kieran Gaffney was revealed to be in third place, Anthony McPartlin, who hosts Britain’s Got Talent with Declan Donnelly, said to Kieran: “Well done Kieran. Kieran, you’re a star, you came back, you got all the way to the final. I know you’ve loved this. You’ve loved this, haven’t you?” In response to this, Kieran Gaffney stated: “Thank you very much. Thank you, everyone for supporting me. Thank you.”

Shortly afterwards, on the episode that was broadcast live on ITV1 on Saturday, Anthony announced: “After tens of thousands of auditons, five semi-finals and an amazing final, this…this is it. One of you is about to walk away with £100,000 and a place at this year’s Royal Variety Performance. The winner of Britain’s Got Talent 2010 is…Spelbound!” Glen Murphy from Twist and Pulse commented about finishing in second place, stating: “Yeah, it’s amazing. I can’t even believe it. I can’t believe it at all.”

Alex Uttley, a 24-year-old member of Spelbound, commented on the gymnastic group’s victory, commenting: “Oh, my god. This is unbelieveable. We just want to say thank you to everyone out there. It just shows that all our hard work has paid off.” One of the coaches of Spelbound, named Neil Griffiths, stated about Spelbound: “Oh, they’ve worked so hard over the last few weeks. Um, since the semi-final, we…we really had to pull out the stops to try and up the game. They’ve not known they’ve worked in the gym from six in the morning till twelve…twelve o’clock of the night. I couldn’t have asked for more. Um, it’s a team of coaches. I don’t take all the credit myself. There’s, uh, two people up there that know who they are who’ve been fantastic.”

Spelbound consists of 24-year-old Alex Uttley, Nicholas Illingworth, aged 24, Adam Buckingham, aged 21, 20-year-old Adam McAssey, 19-year-old Douglas Fordyce, 18-year-old Edward Upcott, 18-year-old Leighanne Cowler, 17-year-old Katie Axten, 17-year-old Lauren Kemp, 15-year-old Jonathan Stranks, Abigail Ralph, aged 15, 13-year-old Hollianne Wood and Amy Mackenzie, aged 12. Bookmakers had previously predicted that Spelbound would be the most likely act to become the winner of the series.

The running order for the final started with Twist and Pulse. The second act to perform was Liam McNally, a 14-year-old singer. The running order subsequently continued with 40-year-old impressionist Paul Burling, singer Christopher Stone, aged 28, Tina & Chandi, a woman and dog dancing act, Connected, a five-piece singing group, Kieran Gaffney, aged 12, 22-year-old Tobias Mead, a dancer, 80-year-old singer Janey Cutler and Spelbound in that particular order.

Earlier on in the final, Britain’s Got Talent judge Amanda Holden has stated to Spelbound: “We are hosting the 2012 Olympics and I think ‘what a brilliant opening act’.” Fellow judge Piers Morgan also commented that “[t]he purpose of this show is to identify hidden great British talent. You are that act.” After Spelbound won in the final, another judge, named Simon Cowell, stated that “the right boys and girls won on the night” and that he could “only say on live TV that that was one of the most astonishing things I have ever seen. Seriously.”

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Suresh Joachim breaks ironing world record

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Suresh Joachim breaks ironing world record
January 20, 2019 - Posted by Gvmawv3B - 0 Comments

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

BramptonSuresh Joachim of Mississauga, Ontario continues to amaze, breaking yet another world record, this time at The Bay Court in Shoppers World.

From Thursday, September 22 at 8 am, to Saturday, September 24 at 3:05 pm, Suresh ironed continuously for 55 hours and 5 minutes, in front of the thousands of onlookers shopping at the mall those three days.

The achievement, now submitted to the Guinness Book of World Records, breaks the previous record by Eufemia Stadler of Zurich, Switzerland. Stadler completed 40 hours of continuous ironing from September 16-18, 1999.

Originally from Sri Lanka and Australia, Joachim is no stranger to the folks at Guinness. He currently holds twenty other records, ranging from greatest distance travelled on ‘up’ and ‘down’ escalators (225.44 km between May 25 and May 31 1998), furthest travelled on a treadmill in one week (659.27 km at a gym in Paris, France), and longest dance marathon by an individual (100 hours at the Dixie Outlet Mall).

This September, Suresh watched television in the lobby of WABC in New York City for 69 hours and 7 minutes, breaking the previous record by 19 hours. The event was covered daily on the talk show “Live with Regis and Kelly” as part of their Guinness World Record Breaker Week. He also recently set the record for longest time rocking in a rocking chair, at 75 hours.

A DJ on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire recently tried to break Joachim’s record for longest continuous time as a DJ. He was unsuccessful, and Suresh’s 120-hour World Record set on Geethavaani Tamil Radio in Scarborough stands unharmed.

The event helped raise funds for the Universal Fund for Suffering Children, whose funds are “utilized to save the world’s children from poverty, disease and war.” All of Joachim’s stunts have been dedicated to this charity.

What’s next for Suresh? He plans to start static cycling from October 18th, 2005 to October 22nd, 2005, in Britain. Suresh’s goal is 150 world records, which would beat the long-time record breaker Ashrita Furman, who has accumulated 94 records. While Furman started two decades ago, Suresh only discovered the Guinness Book of World Records in 1991, and started record breaking in 1996.

You can visit Suresh online at www.sureshjoachim.org

This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
Suresh Joachim breaks ironing world record
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University of Calgary scientist Keith cracks carbon capture conundrum

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University of Calgary scientist Keith cracks carbon capture conundrum
January 20, 2019 - Posted by Gvmawv3B - 0 Comments

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A University of Calgary research team developed a new method for extracting carbon dioxide (CO2) directly from the air — a fundamental shift in carbon capture technology enabling capture of the most common greenhouse gas from so-called diffuse sources like aircraft, trucks and automobiles that represent half of the greenhouse gases emitted globally.

Professor David Keith, Director of University of Calgary’s (UofC) Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy (ISEEE) and a team of researchers from UofC’s Energy and Environmental Systems Group built and operated a prototype system this summer producing results that compared favourably with commercial carbon capture systems. Two ‘provisional’ patents have been filed on the technology but Keith warns there are still “many pitfalls along the path to commercialization.”

Using a process adapted from the pulp-and-paper industry that halves the cost of CO2 air capture in their custom-built tower, Professor Keith and his team captured the equivalent of about 20 tonnes per year of CO2 (approximately equal to the yearly output of one person in North America) directly from the air with less than 100 kilowatt-hours of electricity per tonne of carbon dioxide on a single square metre of scrubbing material.

“This means that if you used electricity from a coal-fired power plant, for every unit of electricity you used to operate the capture machine, you’d be capturing 10 times as much CO2 as the power plant emitted making that much electricity,” explains Professor Keith.

A report co-authored by Keith in the American Chemical Society’s journal Environmental Science & Technology explains “nearly all current research on carbon capture and storage (CCS) focuses on capturing CO2 from large, stationary sources such as power plants. Such plans usually entail separating CO2 from flue gas, compressing it, and transporting it via pipeline to be [stored] underground.”

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Using CO2 air capture technology, “a company could, in principle, contract with an oil sands plant near Fort McMurray to remove CO2 from the air and could build its air capture plant wherever it’s cheapest — China, for example — and the same amount of CO2 would be removed,” says Professor Keith in a UofC press release.

“While it’s important to get started doing things we know how to do, like wind power, nuclear power, and ‘regular’ carbon capture and storage,” Professor Keith continues, “it’s also vital to start thinking about radical new ideas and approaches to solving this problem.”

ISEEE’s Executive Director David Layzell points out that “energy-efficient and cost-effective air capture could play a valuable role in complementing other approaches for reducing emissions from the transportation sector, such as biofuels or electric vehicles.”

University of Calgary scientist Keith cracks carbon capture conundrum">Continue Reading...

Militants in Pakistan torch NATO, US military vehicles

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Militants in Pakistan torch NATO, US military vehicles
January 19, 2019 - Posted by Gvmawv3B - 0 Comments

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Pakistani officials have reported that vehicles supplying NATO forces in Afghanistan have been set on fire by suspected militants. The attack occurred in the northwestern city of Peshawar which lies on Pakistan’s North-Western frontier at 0230 local time.

Sources claim that more than 250 gunmen using rockets, grenades and AK-47s overpowered the guards setting the Humvees on fire. The Pakistani officials claim that 96 trucks, 70 Humvees and 6 containers were destroyed.

In November this year, 12 lorries carrying Humvees were captured by the militants in the famous Khyber Pass. The convoy was also carrying food and aid to the NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Militants in Pakistan torch NATO, US military vehicles">Continue Reading...

Higuaín leaves Napoli for Juventus

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Higuaín leaves Napoli for Juventus
January 19, 2019 - Posted by Gvmawv3B - 0 Comments

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Yesterday, Italian football club Juventus F.C. announced signing of Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuaín from their rival club S.S.C. Napoli. 28-year-old Higuaín signed a five-year contract with the Old Lady for an Italian record transfer fee of €90 million.

Debuting at the age of 17 in 2005, Higuaín has made 329 league appearances and scored 191 goals. He joined Spanish capital club Real Madrid in 2006. Spending six-and-half seasons with Los Blancos, Higuaín has won the La Liga title there.

Higuaín — nicknamed Pipita — joined Napoli in 2013. While there he broke the goal scoring record set by Gunnar Nordahl of the Italian Serie A, netting 36 goals in 35 appearances. He helped Napoli qualify for the UEFA Champions League as the club finished second in the league.

In remarks to Gazetta World following Higuaín’s agreement to the contract, AS Roma captain Francesco Totti said, “Footballers today are a bit like nomads[…] They follow money and not their hearts.” 40-year-old Totti has played 25 years for Roma, signing a one-year contract extention last month.

Napoli’s president Aurelio De Laurentiis said, “Some believe that talking of a betrayal is an exaggeration, but I think differently. In this move there is the full meaning of a betrayal, which includes ingratitude.” ((it))Italian language: ?C’è chi dice che parlare di tradimento sia esagerato, e invece io penso il contrario, perché in questa scelta c’è il senso pieno del tradimento, che comprende anche l’ingratitudine

Former Agrentine captain and Napoli legend Diego Maradona said, “This Higuain affair is hurting me because he is going to a direct rival like Juventus. But we cannot blame the player either. A player has a responsibility to himself and it is those fat cats of business that are grinning the most in this case. Nobody thinks of the fan.” ((es))Spanish language: ?Me duele lo de Higuaín, porque va a un rival directo, como la Juventus. Pero tampoco se le puede echar la culpa al jugador. Porque el jugador tiene su responsabilidad, pero los que hacen el negocio son los más felices. Nadie piensa en el hincha.

Higuaín has been assigned the number 9 jersey.

Higuaín leaves Napoli for Juventus">Continue Reading...

Wikinews’ overview of the year 2008

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Wikinews’ overview of the year 2008
January 19, 2019 - Posted by Gvmawv3B - 0 Comments

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Also try the 2008 World News Quiz of the year.

What would you tell your grandchildren about 2008 if they asked you about it in, let’s say, 20 years’ time? If the answer to a quiz question was 2008, what would the question be? The year that markets collapsed, or perhaps the year that Obama became US president? Or the year Heath Ledger died?

Let’s take a look at some of the important stories of 2008. Links to the original Wikinews articles are in all the titles.

Wikinews’ overview of the year 2008">Continue Reading...

English court jails policeman over insurance fraud

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English court jails policeman over insurance fraud
January 18, 2019 - Posted by Gvmawv3B - 0 Comments

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A court in England, UK has jailed a policeman for ten months after he was convicted of defrauding his car insurance company.

Police Constable Simon Hood, 43, arranged for a friend who dealt in scrap metal to dispose of his Audi TT, then claimed it had been stolen.

Hood had been disappointed with the car’s value when he tried to sell it two years after its purchase in 2008. He arranged for friend Peter Marsh, 41, to drive the vehicle to his scrapyard in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk. Marsh then dismantled the vehicle with the intent of disposing of it, but parts were later found wrapped in bubblewrap at Ace Tyre and Exhaust Centre.

Marsh picked up the TT from outside nearby Gorleston police station. Records show mobile phone conversations between the conspirators that day in March, both before and after the vehicle was reported stolen. The pair denied wrongdoing but were convicted of conspiring to commit insurance fraud after trial.

The fraud was uncovered after Hood told former girlfriend Suzanne Coates of the scheme. It was alleged before Norwich Crown Court that he had confessed to her in an effort to resume their relationship. Coates said that after the pseudotheft, Hood told her “he didn’t want to look for it. He said it would be like looking for a needle in a haystack, which I thought was a bit strange.”

You knew throughout your career that policemen that get involved in serious dishonesty get sent to prison

Shortly afterwards Hood suggested they should become a couple once more, she said; she challenged his version of events regarding the car: “He said he did it but I couldn’t tell anyone. He said he did it with Peter. Peter had a key and took the car away and it was going to be taken to bits and got rid of so it was never found.”

Hood was defended by Michael Clare and Marsh by Richard Potts. Both lawyers told the court that their clients had already suffered as a result of the action in mitigation before sentencing. Clare said Hood had resigned from the police after fifteen years of otherwise good service and risked losing his pension. “It is not a case where his position as a police officer was used in order to facilitate the fraud,” he pointed out. “His career is in ruins.” Hood is now pursuing a career in plumbing.

Potts defended Marsh by saying that he, too, had already suffered from his actions. His own insurers are refusing to renew their contract with him when it expires and his bank withdrew its overdraft facility. His business employs 21 people and Potts cited Marsh’s sponsorship of Great Yarmouth In Bloom as amongst evidence he supported his local community.

Judge Alasdair Darroch told Marsh that he did accept the man was attempting to help his friend. He sentenced Marsh to six months imprisonment, suspended for two years and ordered to carry out 250 hours of community service. He was more critical of Hood:

“As a police officer you know the highest possible standards are demanded by the public. You have let down the force. You knew throughout your career that policemen that get involved in serious dishonesty get sent to prison.”

English court jails policeman over insurance fraud">Continue Reading...

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

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ACLU, EFF challenging US ‘secret’ court orders seeking Twitter data
January 17, 2019 - Posted by Gvmawv3B - 0 Comments

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?

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”?

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?
((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?
((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).
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?

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?
((WN)) What do you believe is their reasoning in selecting you as a ‘target’?
((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?
((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?
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?
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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’?
((WN)) How do you think the Icelandic government would have reacted if it were tens of thousands of their diplomatic communications being leaked?
((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?
((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?
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?
((WN)) Does this make you more, or less, determined to see the IMMI succeed?

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.

ACLU, EFF challenging US ‘secret’ court orders seeking Twitter data">Continue Reading...

2008 Taiwan Designers’ Week shows potential of innovations

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2008 Taiwan Designers’ Week shows potential of innovations
January 17, 2019 - Posted by Gvmawv3B - 0 Comments

Monday, June 30, 2008

Vastly different from the YODEX, mainly focused on students’ designs, the 2008 2nd Taiwan Designers’ Week, a collective show organized by Taiwan Designers’ Web for industrial designs and individual design studios, took place at the Xinyi Public Assembly Hall, formally known as “Si-Si Nan Cun (in Chinese: ????)” and entitled the theme of “Design & Beyond”.

This professional exhibition featured topical designs including “Play with the Eating Culture”, “Wall”, “The Story of Paper-Cutting”, “Basket”, “Between On and Off”, “50 Pleasures in the Study – Dian Shin Refreshment 2008”, “Reincarnation”, and “NoName Design”, at Xinyi Public Assembly Hall; “City Yeast 2008?Balcony Project” at Xue Xue Institute from June 26th to July 8th; “Having A Perfect Life Is Easy” at Taipei Artist Village from June 27th to July 7th. In addition, The XRANGE Studio also created a giant floating cloud at Central Square of Xinyi Public Assembly Hall.

Innovative designs in this exhibition showcased different topical elements on environment, modern lifestyle, current incident, and subculture. Those reflect the achievements by professional designers in Taiwan as Taiwan’s designs were affirmed in several international design competitions including G-mark, Red Dot, and iF.

After this exhibition, Taiwan Design Center, the show co-organizer, scheduled several upcoming competitions and shows from this August to October including “Taiwan Design Expo”, “Taiwan Design Award”, “Taiwan International Design Competition”, and “Creative Taiwan”.

2008 Taiwan Designers’ Week shows potential of innovations">Continue Reading...