Apr 17
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British painter Lucian Freud dies aged 88

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Lucian Freud, the painter and grandson of the founder of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud, died Wednesday at his London home following a short illness. He was 88 years old.

Freud, the elder brother of the late comedic writer and broadcaster Clement Freud, was born in Berlin in 1922 and moved with his family to Britain in 1933 to escape the Nazis. He became a British citizen in 1939. He studied at the Central School of Art, then at the East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing with Cedric Morris. He also attended Goldsmiths, University of London. After finishing art school, he spent some time in the merchant navy. In 1944, he started exhibiting with a solo showcase at the Alex Reid & Lefevre Gallery.

I paint people not because of what they are like, not exactly in spite of what they are like, but how they happen to be.

In the 1950s, his style changed to exclusively paint portraits and nudes. The process of painting for models was intense: one nude painting took 16 months to complete and Freud demanded her turn up almost every day to pose. His work was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1989, and he was a member of the Order of Merit. Most controversially, he painted a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II which was described by The Sun newspaper as a “travesty”, and prompted Robin Simon, the editor of the British Art Journal to say that “It makes her look like one of the royal corgis who has suffered a stroke”. He also famously painted the glamour model Kate Moss nude, and was once named one of Britain’s best dressed men in the magazine GQ.

His work has sold for large amounts: Benefits Supervisor Sleeping, sold in 2008 at Christie’s in New York for $33.6 million dollars. In addition, he has had solo shows at some of the most prominent art galleries and museums in the world including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Nicholas Serota, the director of the Tate in London, said of Freud: “The vitality of his nudes, the intensity of the still life paintings and the presence of his portraits of family and friends guarantee Lucian Freud a unique place in the pantheon of late twentieth century art. His early paintings redefined British art and his later works stand comparison with the great figurative painters of any period.”

Freud has at least thirteen children from a series of marriages and affairs: after an affair wth the Bloomsbury Group member Lorna Garman, Freud married her niece Kitty in 1948 and had two children (Annie and Annabel) before ending the marriage four years later. He had an affair with Lady Caroline Blackwood which turned into a marriage in 1953, although that was dissolved in 1957. He also had two children with Bernadine Coverly (Bella Freud, the fashion designer, and the writer Esther Freud), five children with Suzy Boyt, and four children with Katherine Margaret McAdam (Paul Freud, an artist, Lucy Freud, David Freud and Jane McAdam Freud, also an artist).

Apr 17
Israel evicts two Palestinian families from their homes
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Israel evicts two Palestinian families from their homes

Monday, August 3, 2009

Two Palestinian families who have been living in East Jerusalem since 1956, were evicted from their homes on Sunday after an Israeli court rejected their appeal filed against the eviction. The eviction comes after increasing international pressure on Israel to stop settlement activity and end home evictions.

Israeli security forces entered the homes at 6:00 a.m. (local time) and forcibly removed the family and international activists who were also living in the homes. At least 19 children were among those removed. Al Jazeera reports that a family was beaten with batons as they tried to get back into their house. JTA reports that Jewish families moved into the homes shortly after the Palestinian families were evicted.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has laid biblical claim to the areas of East Jerusalem and has stated that Jews have the right to live anywhere in the city. Although Jerusalem is internationally recognized as occupied territory, Israel continues to evict Palestinians and instead build Jewish only apartments in the area, an action which is considered to be illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention. Israel has plans for 350 new apartment buildings in East Jerusalem. U.N special coordinator for Middle East Peace, Robert Serry, condemned the evictions as “totally unacceptable”.

The international community, including the United States, has called on Israel to stop settlement activity and allow for the creation of a Palestinian state.

Apr 16
Cutty Sark blaze treated as ‘suspicious’
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Cutty Sark blaze treated as ‘suspicious’

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Cutty Sark, one of the most famous historic sailing ships in the world, was seriously damaged by fire in the early hours of Monday morning, May 21, 2007. The 19th century ship, which is in dry dock in Greenwich, London, England, set a speed record during its working days, and has been a popular tourist attraction for many years.

The fire brigade was first called to the blaze on the tea clipper at 4:45 a.m. BST and reported that the flames had been extinguished by 7:00 a.m., but firefighters were still on the scene damping down at 8.30 a.m. The blaze was so intense that eight fire engines and 40 firefighters were sent to put out the fire. No injuries have been reported.

Cutty Sark Trust chief executive Richard Doughty said he was told the blaze was being treated as suspicious. “We’re losing history,” he lamented. “It’s unbelievable.” He went on: “When you lose the original fabric, you lose the touch of the craftsmen; you lose history itself. What is special about Cutty Sark is the timber, the iron frames, that went to the South China Sea. To think that is threatened in any way is unbelievable. It is an unimaginable shock.”

However, Doughty also confirmed that half of the ship’s planking, and all of the masts and rigging had been removed for renovations prior to the fire. The iron framework of the hull has been twisted and buckled.

The Chairman of Cutty Sark Enterprises, Chris Levitt, speaking later at the scene, said: “We had removed 50% of the planking, so 50% of the planking wasn’t on site and that’s safe and secure, and from where I stand there is not a huge amount of damage to the planking that was left on. There are pockets of charred planking and some have gone, but it doesn’t look as bad as first envisaged.”

Cutty Sark Trust curatorial consultant, Dr Eric Kentley was optimistic that the Ship is not completely devastated and can be saved. Speaking about the Cutty Sark, he said: “We will put her back together – but it’s going to take much much longer and a lot more money than we originally thought.”

The historic ship, one of London’s best known tourist attractions, has been in dry-dock in Greenwich since 1954. It is currently undergoing a £25 million renovation scheduled to last until 2009. It was feared that gas canisters used in the reconstruction work might explode in the blaze but the London Fire Brigade later confirmed that none were present, although concerns about the risk of explosion had caused some delay in tackling the fire. It is a Grade I listed monument and is on the Buildings At Risk Register in the UK.

Police believe the fire on board the ship may have begun in suspicious circumstances. They are studying CCTV footage which showed some movement around the ship in the early hours of the morning. They are appealing for witnesses who might have seen anyone near the ship or a silver car that was reported driving away from the scene.

The Cutty Sark was built in 1869 by Scott & Linton, Dumbarton in Scotland and completed by Dennys. It is the world’s last surviving tea clipper. Because the clippers were build of wood, but with a framework made of iron, they marked the transition from wood to iron. The windjammers that emerged some 30 years later were build completely of iron or steel.

The clippers were used in long-distance races between China and England, with large profits for the first ship back with the first tea of the year. The Cutty Sark sailed in the China trade between 1870 and 1877/78. She sailed in the Australian wool trade between 1883 and 1895, during which period she achieved the record breaking voyage under wind power between Australia and England via Cape Horn of 72 days in 1885.

The ship takes its name from a character in Burns‘ poem ‘Tam o’ Shanter.

Apr 15
Andrea Muizelaar on fashion, anorexia, and life after ‘Top Model’
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Andrea Muizelaar on fashion, anorexia, and life after ‘Top Model’

Monday, November 26, 2007

In the 18 months since Andrea Muizelaar was crowned winner of the reality TV series Canada’s Next Top Model, her life has been a complete whirlwind. From working in a dollar store in her hometown of Whitby, Ontario, to modeling haute couture in Toronto, she had reached her dream of becoming a true Top Model.

But at what cost? Unknown to casual television viewers, Muizelaar had been enveloped in the eating disorder anorexia nervosa, which inevitably became too much for her to bear. She gave up modeling and moved back to Whitby, where she sought treatment for her disorder, re-entered college, and now works at a bank. Where is she now? Happy and healthy, she says.

Recently Andrea Muizelaar sat down with Wikinews reporter Mike Halterman in a candid interview that stretched to nearly two hours, as she told all about her hopes and aspirations, her battle with anorexia, and just what really happened on Canada’s Next Top Model.

Contents

  • 1 Andrea’s beginnings
  • 2 Andrea on her road to modeling, and America’s Next Top Model
  • 3 Experience on Canada’s Next Top Model
  • 4 The message she wrote to her fans on her facebook group
  • 5 Her brief modeling career
  • 6 “Happy and healthy”
  • 7 Source
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Apr 14
Gunmen seize at least 75 hostages in Philippines
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Gunmen seize at least 75 hostages in Philippines

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Philippine military said today that gunmen have seized at least 75 people, most of them schoolchildren, after a raid on a remote elementary school in the southern Philippines.

Military officials said that about fifteen gunmen from the Manobo tribe abducted some of the residents of a village on the Mindanao island on Thursday.

The group, reportedly armed with M-14 and M-16 rifles, captured four teachers and the school principal of the New Maasim Elementary School, and an unknown number of students. Police said that fifteen of children were later released. The seizure occurred shortly after the flag ceremony, when they were due to start classes. Two foresters for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources were also taken hostage.

Negotiations are being made to release the captives, according to a local police chief. “Negotiations are ongoing. We are trying to find out how the others can be released,” said Lino Calingasan to the Reuters news agency.

Local police have filed charges against the suspected kidnappers, however, they reported that the gunmen didn’t seem to want to hurt or kill the hostages. Officials said that the gunmen appear to be using them as human shields to escape.

The southern Philippines suffers from frequent banditry, loosely supervised government-armed militias, and Muslim and communist insurgents. Last month, 57 people in an election convoy were massacred in the southern part of the Maguindanao province, which has since been placed under martial law.

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Apr 14
Post-mortem examination reveals Stephen Gately “died of natural causes”
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Post-mortem examination reveals Stephen Gately “died of natural causes”

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

An autopsy performed on Tuesday revealed that the late Boyzone singer Stephen Gately “had died of natural causes”.

Officials from the Spanish island of Majorca that Stephen had suffered from an accumulation of fluid on the lungs, or as it is known in scientific terms, a pulmonary edema. The 33-year-old singer was found dead on a sofa in the lounge of his apartment. He had been out of the accommodation for the night while he was partying with Andrew Cowles, who was his partner.

There was a court hearing held earlier today in Majorca. The hearing only lasted for a short time. The judge had decided that the family of Stephen Gately would be allowed to take his body back to the Republic of Ireland, the country in which Gately grew up and had lived in, by plane. After discovering Stephen’s death, the other members of Boyzone took a plane flight to Majorca, so as to comfort Andrew Cowles. They have now flown back to their homes.

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Apr 12
Earthquake-damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant triggers evacuation
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Earthquake-damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant triggers evacuation

Friday, March 11, 2011

Japan’s government has declared its first ever “nuclear emergency” after pressure rises in the No. 1 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, combined with a minor radiation leak, caused a 10 km radius around the plant to be evacuated. An attempt to relieve the pressure inside the containment vessels of the plant has been delayed.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company’s 40-year old nuclear facility, 270 km NE of Tokyo, reported mechanical difficulties with its cooling system, although the automated shutdown systems worked correctly. With the core reaction shut down the plant is no longer actively generating heat, but the fuel rods continue to generate excess heat and radiation and need constant cooling.

The cooling system runs a constant flow of water to take the heat away from the submerged fuel rods, but the pumping system requires electricity to operate even after the plant is no longer producing electricity itself—generally from back-up diesel or natural gas generators.

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Apr 7
Andrea Muizelaar on fashion, anorexia, and life after ‘Top Model’
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Andrea Muizelaar on fashion, anorexia, and life after ‘Top Model’

Monday, November 26, 2007

In the 18 months since Andrea Muizelaar was crowned winner of the reality TV series Canada’s Next Top Model, her life has been a complete whirlwind. From working in a dollar store in her hometown of Whitby, Ontario, to modeling haute couture in Toronto, she had reached her dream of becoming a true Top Model.

But at what cost? Unknown to casual television viewers, Muizelaar had been enveloped in the eating disorder anorexia nervosa, which inevitably became too much for her to bear. She gave up modeling and moved back to Whitby, where she sought treatment for her disorder, re-entered college, and now works at a bank. Where is she now? Happy and healthy, she says.

Recently Andrea Muizelaar sat down with Wikinews reporter Mike Halterman in a candid interview that stretched to nearly two hours, as she told all about her hopes and aspirations, her battle with anorexia, and just what really happened on Canada’s Next Top Model.

Contents

  • 1 Andrea’s beginnings
  • 2 Andrea on her road to modeling, and America’s Next Top Model
  • 3 Experience on Canada’s Next Top Model
  • 4 The message she wrote to her fans on her facebook group
  • 5 Her brief modeling career
  • 6 “Happy and healthy”
  • 7 Source
Posted in     Uncategorized | No Comments »
Apr 6
Former ‘Top Model’ contestant Whitney Cunningham defends plus size models, celebrates the “regular woman”
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Former ‘Top Model’ contestant Whitney Cunningham defends plus size models, celebrates the “regular woman”

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Once you get a chance to talk to West Palm Beach, Florida native Whitney Cunningham, who placed seventh on the eighth cycle of the popular reality TV series America’s Next Top Model, you begin to understand what host Tyra Banks meant when she described her as the “full package.”

First of all, she is confident and headstrong, which is a must on these kinds of shows, almost as much as it is to take a beautiful modelesque picture. Second, she turns that confidence into drive. She has been receiving steady work as a model since leaving the show, and still believes that her goal of being the first woman to wear a size ten dress on the cover of Vogue is in reach. Third, and probably most important to television viewers, she obliterates the age-old model stereotype that to be pretty and photograph well, one must also be vapid and without a thought. A graduate of Dartmouth College, Cunningham also dreams of becoming a writer, and is working toward dual goals: a model who can express herself like no other model before her.

Cunningham recently sat down with Wikinews reporter Mike Halterman in an impassioned interview, taking hours to field questions from the reporter as well as from fans of America’s Next Top Model. Always in high spirits, Cunningham shows that she is a distinct personality who has carved her own niche in the Top Model history books. At the same time, she exhibits a joie de vivre that is oddly reminiscent of earlier Top Model fan favorite Toccara Jones, who showed America just how to be “big, black, beautiful and loving it.” However, Cunningham is quick to remind everyone that she isn’t big at all; she is simply a regular woman.

This is the first in a series of interviews with America’s Next Top Model contestants. Interviews will be published sporadically.

Contents

  • 1 Whitney’s beginnings, and looking back
  • 2 Impact Top Model has on society
  • 3 Whitney’s views on production and editing
  • 4 Whitney takes more fan questions
  • 5 Where Whitney is today
  • 6 Source
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Apr 3
ACLU, EFF challenging US ‘secret’ court orders seeking Twitter data
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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.
HAVE YOUR SAY
Do you believe the U.S. government should have the right to access data on foreign nationals using services such as Twitter?
Add or view comments
((WN)) The same NYT article describes you as a WikiLeaks supporter; is this still the case? What attracts you to their ‘radical transparency’?
  • Jonsdottir: I support the concept of WikiLeaks. While we don’t have a culture of protection for sources and whistleblowers we need sites like WikiLeaks. Plus, I think it is important to give WikiLeaks credit for raising awareness about in how bad shape freedom of information and expression is in our world and it is eroding at an alarming rate because of the fact that legal firms for corporations and corrupt politicians have understood the borderless nature of the legalities of the information flow online – we who feel it is important that people have access to information that should remain in the public domain need to step up our fight for those rights. WikiLeaks has played an important role in that context.I don’t support radical transparency – I understand that some things need to remain secret. It is the process of making things secret that needs to be both more transparent and in better consensus with nations.
((WN)) How do you think the Icelandic government would have reacted if it were tens of thousands of their diplomatic communications being leaked?
  • Jonsdottir: I am not sure – A lot of our dirty laundry has been aired via the USA cables – our diplomatic communications with USA were leaked in those cables, so far they have not stirred much debate nor shock. It is unlikely for tens of thousands of cables to leak from Iceland since we dont have the same influence or size as the USA, nor do we have a military.
((WN)) Your ambassador in the US has spoken to the Obama administration. Can you discuss any feedback from that? Do you have your party’s, and government’s, backing in challenging the ordered Twitter data release?
  • Jonsdottir: I have not had any feedback from that meeting, I did however receive a message from the DOJ via the USA ambassador in Iceland. The message stated three things: 1. I am free to travel to the USA. 2. If I would do so, I would not be a subject of involuntary interrogation. 3. I am not under criminal investigation. If this is indeed the reality I wonder why they are insisting on getting my personal details from Twitter. I want to stress that I understand the reasoning of trying to get to Assange through me, but I find it unacceptable since there is no foundation for criminal investigation against him. If WikiLeaks goes down, all the other media partners should go down at the same time. They all served similar roles. The way I see it is that WikiLeaks acted as the senior editor of material leaked to them. They could not by any means be considered a source. The source is the person that leaks the material to WikiLeaks. I am not sure if the media in our world understands how much is at stake for already shaky industry if WikiLeaks will carry on carrying the brunt of the attacks. I think it would be powerful if all the medias that have had access to WikiLeaks material would band together for their defence.
((WN)) Wikinews consulted a Belgian IT security expert who said it was most likely companies such as Facebook, Microsoft, and Google, would have complied with similar court orders *without advising the ‘targets*’. Does that disturb you?
  • Jonsdottir: This does disturb me for various reasons. The most obvious is that my emails are hosted at google/gmail and my search profile. I dont have anything to hide but it is important to note that many of the people that interact with me as a MP via both facebook and my various email accounts don’t always realize that there is no protection for them if they do so via those channels. I often get sensitive personal letters sent to me at facebook and gmail. In general most people are not aware of how little rights they have as users of social media. It is those of uttermost importance that those sites will create the legal disclaimers and agreements that state the most obvious rights we lose when we sign up to their services.
This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.
((WN)) Has there been any backlash within Iceland against US-based internet services in light of this? Do you expect such, or any increase in anti-American sentiments?
  • Jonsdottir: No, none what so ever. I dont think there is much anti-American sentiments in Iceland and I dont think this case will increase it. However I think it is important for everyone who does not live in the USA and uses social services to note that according to the ruling in my case, they dont have any protection of the 1st and 4th amendment, that only apply to USA citizens. Perhaps the legalities in relation to the borderless reality we live in online need to be upgraded in order for people to feel safe with using social media if it is hosted in the USA. Market tends to bend to simple rules.
((WN)) Does this make you more, or less, determined to see the IMMI succeed?
  • Jonsdottir: More. People have to realize that if we dont have freedom of information online we won’t have it offline. We have to wake up to the fact that our rights to access information that should be in the public domain is eroding while at the same time our rights as citizens online have now been undermined and we are only seen as consumers with consumers rights and in some cases our rights are less than of a product. This development needs to change and change fast before it is too late.

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

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

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

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

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

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