10 October

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?
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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.

10 October

British Gas announces a hike in energy bills of 14.2%

Saturday, September 10, 2005

One of Britain‘s largest domestic energy suppliers, British Gas, has announced that it is to raise the price of its gas and electricity prices by a record 14.2%. It blames the price rise on increasing wholesale gas prices, which have gone up by over 50% in the past year, the rising cost of oil & the increasing difficulty in getting gas from the North Sea, a major gas field for the United Kingdom.

250 000 people on low incomes will receive a one-off GBP 60 (USD 110.35 , EUR 88.93) rebate to alleviate this price rise.

This follows increases from other suppliers including Powergen and EDF Energy, with both having risen their prices by 7 to 12%. Energywatch, Britain’s consumer energy watchdog has said domestic gas and electric bills have gone up by 17 and 22% on average respectively in the last 18 months to August.

In 2004, British Gas increased its prices by 5.9% in January and 12.4% in September.

Across the water in Ireland, the Irish government approved a 25% increase on gas prices by the state owned monopoly, Bord Gais.

18 September

Category:May 4, 2006

? May 3, 2006
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18 September

With US mid-term elections fast approaching, three prominent Democrats announce retirement

Thursday, January 7, 2010

With this year’s November midterm elections fast approaching, three prominent United States Democrats announced their plans for retirement from public service on Wednesday.

Powerful and influential—yet controversial for his alleged close ties to the financial sector and his handling of last year’s bailout—Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut announced that he would not be seeking a sixth term this year.

In a speech to his supporters in East Haddam, Connecticut, the sixty-five-year-old senior senator—with his family at his side—said, “I have been a Connecticut senator for thirty years. I’m very proud of the job I’ve done and the results delivered. But none of us is irreplaceable. None of us is indispensable.”

He then went on to say, “Over the past twelve months, I’ve managed four major pieces of legislation through the United States Congress, served as chair and acting chair of two major Senate committees, placing me at the center of the two most important issues of our time—health care and reform of financial services.”

In addition to highlighting some personal travails, Dodd alluded to his precarious political situation, “I lost a beloved sister in July, and in August, Ted Kennedy. I battled cancer over the summer, and in the midst of all of this, found myself in the toughest political shape of my career.”

Despite this, Dodd adamantly maintained that none of the above reasons were the causes for his retirement. He said that his reasons were more “personal,” and that his retirement would hopefully give him a much-wanted opportunity to spend more time with his family.

Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota announced that he would not run for re-election this year either.

“Although I still have a passion for public service and enjoy my work in the Senate, I have other interests and I have other things I would like to pursue outside of public life,” said the sixty-seven-year-old, three-term senator who said he came to this decision after discussing his future with his immediate family over Christmas.

Governor of Colorado, Bill Ritter announced that he too would not seek a second term. The fifty-three-year-old freshman governor said that although he felt his race was “absolutely winnable,” after some deep “soul searching,” he realized that he truly wanted to retire from politics nonetheless. This due to the fact that he felt his main priority should be to be a better husband to his wife as well as a better father to their four children.

When asked to comment on Senator Dodd’s retirement on behalf of the Administration, Vice President Joseph Biden said Dodd would “be long recognized as one of the most significant senators of my generation.”

He furthermore stated, “I believe the nation will miss his wisdom, wit and compassion. I count myself lucky because I know he’s not going too far and will always be a source of advice and counsel.”

Biden gave similar comments and expressed like sentiments about the retirement of his other two Democratic colleagues as well.

18 September

Wikinews interviews Chinese-American martial artist Alfred Hsing

This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Alfred Hsing, a US martial artist with Chinese origins, besides having a long history of martial arts training in various styles, such as traditional kung fu, tae kwon do and karate, considers wushu – an athletic sport based on Chinese martial arts – as a form of art that pushes one’s physical limits and stimulates the mind at the same time. After having won the gold medal at the 10th World Wushu Championships, he became international movie star Jet Li’s personal assistant and went on to do stunts, action choreography, and land roles in movies.

Hungarian Wikinews contributor Teemeah has interviewed Alfred Hsing about his views on martial arts, life and Wikipedia.

10 September

Ingrid Newkirk, co-founder of PETA, on animal rights and the film about her life

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Last night HBO premiered I Am An Animal: The Story of Ingrid Newkirk and PETA. Since its inception, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has made headlines and raised eyebrows. They are almost single-handedly responsible for the movement against animal testing and their efforts have raised the suffering animals experience in a broad spectrum of consumer goods production and food processing into a cause célèbre.

PETA first made headlines in the Silver Spring monkeys case, when Alex Pacheco, then a student at George Washington University, volunteered at a lab run by Edward Taub, who was testing neuroplasticity on live monkeys. Taub had cut sensory ganglia that supplied nerves to the monkeys’ fingers, hands, arms, legs; with some of the monkeys, he had severed the entire spinal column. He then tried to force the monkeys to use their limbs by exposing them to persistent electric shock, prolonged physical restraint of an intact arm or leg, and by withholding food. With footage obtained by Pacheco, Taub was convicted of six counts of animal cruelty—largely as a result of the monkeys’ reported living conditions—making them “the most famous lab animals in history,” according to psychiatrist Norman Doidge. Taub’s conviction was later overturned on appeal and the monkeys were eventually euthanized.

PETA was born.

In the subsequent decades they ran the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty against Europe’s largest animal-testing facility (footage showed staff punching beagle puppies in the face, shouting at them, and simulating sex acts while taking blood samples); against Covance, the United State’s largest importer of primates for laboratory research (evidence was found that they were dissecting monkeys at its Vienna, Virginia laboratory while the animals were still alive); against General Motors for using live animals in crash tests; against L’Oreal for testing cosmetics on animals; against the use of fur for fashion and fur farms; against Smithfield Foods for torturing Butterball turkeys; and against fast food chains, most recently against KFC through the launch of their website kentuckyfriedcruelty.com.

They have launched campaigns and engaged in stunts that are designed for media attention. In 1996, PETA activists famously threw a dead raccoon onto the table of Anna Wintour, the fur supporting editor-in-chief of Vogue, while she was dining at the Four Seasons in New York, and left bloody paw prints and the words “Fur Hag” on the steps of her home. They ran a campaign entitled Holocaust on your Plate that consisted of eight 60-square-foot panels, each juxtaposing images of the Holocaust with images of factory farming. Photographs of concentration camp inmates in wooden bunks were shown next to photographs of caged chickens, and piled bodies of Holocaust victims next to a pile of pig carcasses. In 2003 in Jerusalem, after a donkey was loaded with explosives and blown up in a terrorist attack, Newkirk sent a letter to then-PLO leader Yasser Arafat to keep animals out of the conflict. As the film shows, they also took over Jean-Paul Gaultier‘s Paris boutique and smeared blood on the windows to protest his use of fur in his clothing.

The group’s tactics have been criticized. Co-founder Pacheco, who is no longer with PETA, called them “stupid human tricks.” Some feminists criticize their campaigns featuring the Lettuce Ladies and “I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur” ads as objectifying women. Of their Holocaust on a Plate campaign, Anti-Defamation League Chairman Abraham Foxman said “The effort by PETA to compare the deliberate systematic murder of millions of Jews to the issue of animal rights is abhorrent.” (Newkirk later issued an apology for any hurt it caused). Perhaps most controversial amongst politicians, the public and even other animal rights organizations is PETA’s refusal to condemn the actions of the Animal Liberation Front, which in January 2005 was named as a terrorist threat by the United States Department of Homeland Security.

David Shankbone attended the pre-release screening of I Am An Animal at HBO’s offices in New York City on November 12, and the following day he sat down with Ingrid Newkirk to discuss her perspectives on PETA, animal rights, her responses to criticism lodged against her and to discuss her on-going life’s work to raise human awareness of animal suffering. Below is her interview.

This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

Contents

  • 1 The HBO film about her life
  • 2 PETA, animal rights groups and the Animal Liberation Front
  • 3 Newkirk on humans and other animals
  • 4 Religion and animals
  • 5 Fashion and animals
  • 6 Newkirk on the worst corporate animal abusers
  • 7 Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act
  • 8 Ingrid Newkirk on Ingrid Newkirk
  • 9 External links
  • 10 Sources
7 September

Wikinews interviews Joe Schriner, Independent U.S. presidential candidate

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Journalist, counselor, painter, and US 2012 Presidential candidate Joe Schriner of Cleveland, Ohio took some time to discuss his campaign with Wikinews in an interview.

Schriner previously ran for president in 2000, 2004, and 2008, but failed to gain much traction in the races. He announced his candidacy for the 2012 race immediately following the 2008 election. Schriner refers to himself as the “Average Joe” candidate, and advocates a pro-life and pro-environmentalist platform. He has been the subject of numerous newspaper articles, and has published public policy papers exploring solutions to American issues.

Wikinews reporter William Saturn? talks with Schriner and discusses his campaign.

7 September

UK court remands man in custody over Leytonstone knife attack

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A UK court has remanded a man in custody after he appeared in court over a stabbing incident in the capital London. Muhaydin Mire, a 29-year-old from east London, was charged with attempted murder after reportedly at least two people were injured, one seriously, in Leytonstone tube station on Saturday. The suspect, who spoke only to confirm personal details in yesterday’s hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, is also set to appear at the Old Bailey on Friday.

The motivation for the attack is not yet clear, although prosecutors told yesterday’s hearing imagery associated with Daesh was thought to be on the suspect’s phone. Witnesses reportedly heard the suspect shout the words “this is for Syria” when the attack occurred. The House of Commons voted in favour of UK military action against Daesh in Syria three days earlier. The Metropolitan Police have said they are treating this attack as a terrorist incident.

Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday condemned the attack as “hideous” and praised the public and police response. “It’s obviously a hideous attack,” he said, “and we’ve all seen pictures of it and read about it and first of all, full credit to the person and people who took on this attacker, and full credit to the very brave police officers who managed to subdue him […] I think this event simply showed again what brilliant and brave and dedicated people there are when it comes to our police officers.” Earlier, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “The stabbing in Leytonstone is absolutely shocking. My thoughts are with the victim and his family.”

The Prime Minister also endorsed the sentiment of the phrase ‘You ain’t no Muslim, bruv’, which one man is heard to shout in video of the suspect’s arrest, and which subsequently became a Twitter trend. “Some of us have dedicated speeches and media appearances and soundbites and everything to this subject,” Cameron said, “but ‘you ain’t no Muslim, bruv’ said it all much better than I ever could and thank you because that will be applauded around the country.” Additionally, Sadiq Khan, Labour Party candidate for Mayor of London, used the hashtag in a tweet in which he added: “To defeat extremism we must directly challenge their poisonous ideology”.

5 September

US Senate passes new bankruptcy bill

Saturday, March 12, 2005

In a vote of 74-25 last Thursday, the US Senate passed a measure that would change bankruptcy laws, making it harder for individuals seeking relief from their debt burden to avoid repayment. Almost twenty Democrats joined Republicans, who currently hold a majority of the seats in the US Senate, in passing the bill.

Lobbyists for credit card companies and financial services firms have worked for the bill during the last two administrations. A similar measure passed both the Senate and House during the previous administration, but then President Bill Clinton pocket-vetoed the measure in 2000.

Democrats sought to soften the bill by allowing bankruptcy filers to negotiate directly with lenders for relief, but the amendments were defeated by the Republican-controlled Senate. Proponents of the bill claim the rise of bankruptcy filings to nearly 1.5 million a year shows that abusers of credit use the filings to shield themselves from irresponsible practices.

“There has been an explosion of bankruptcy,” said Iowa Republican Sen. Charles E. Grassley, the bill’s sponsor. “We preserve the principle of a fresh start, but we also establish a principle that if you have the ability to repay some of your debt, you are not going to get off scot-free.” However, Massachusetts Democratic Sen., Edward M. Kennedy said, “This legislation makes the bankruptcy courts of the United States the collection agency for the credit-card industry.”

The bill impacts a broad spectrum of bankruptcy law, but the most significant impact is on personal bankruptcy filings. Individuals who get behind in repaying credit card debt face high interest charges and stiff late payment fees. By only meeting minimum payment requirements, borrowers remit to the lender over the life of the loan an amount in interest and other fees that can far exceed the value of the principal balance of the loan. This can put consumers who run up high balances on various cards at financial risk of default. Critics of the bill blame these aggressive lending practices as a contributing factor in the rising trend of bankruptcy filings from 1996.

The proposed bill doesn’t only affect debtors with credit card debt.

It also affects debtors who have run up large medical bills.

Patients with a past medical history that disqualifies them from full medical coverage, can easily find themselves facing insurmountable medical bills after just a short stay in the hospital. These individuals will no longer be able to get a fresh start after these personal disasters, and will be forced to live in poverty until they can pay off their medical bills as part of their Chapter 13 filing. (Prior to this bill, they would have been able to file Chapter 7, completely discharging their debt.)

Chapter 7, which accounts for 70% of bankruptcy filings, allows individuals to eliminate most non-secured debts after liquidating assets, with the notable exemption of one’s principle residence in most states. The Senate passed bill would change Chapter 7 eligibility by applying a means-test, where those with a median income higher than the state average would be required to file under Chapter 13 provisions. Under Chapter 13 protection, an individual’s debt is not forgiven; rather it is restructured for payment under more lenient terms.

This was the first major overhaul of federal bankruptcy law in many years.

Under the old bankruptcy law, a personal bankruptcy attorney could not be held financially responsible for his clients mendacity. Under the new bankruptcy law, the bankruptcy attorney is responsible for his client’s lies to the Court about his assets and the bankruptcy attorney and his insurance carrier can be held responsible by the Bankruptcy Court.

The result is that personal bankruptcy attorneys (this does not apply to corporate bankruptcy attorneys) are likely to flee the personal bankruptcy field when the new law takes effect. Their insurance companies will not offer the sort of coverage that they would need to continue to practice.

So when consumers need to file personal bankruptcy under the new law, they will be unlikely to find a bankruptcy attorney to represent them. Consumers will have to file pro se: such consumers will be likely to fail due to the complexity of the law.

The bottom line is that the field of personal bankruptcy law as a practice area of law will cease to exist when the new bankruptcy law takes effect, and consumers will be unable to secure legal counsel and so consumers will lose what legal protections counsel now affords them.

Under the new bankruptcy law about one half million Americans will be forest to pay for at lest 5 years on longer they will be held in servitude as chattel they will be completely subservient to a dominating influence of the company that holds the loan. Their loan will be put on the market for sale for profit. The people will be forced to work harder. People who fail to go to court will have a arrest warrant made out in their name and people who refuseto pay. They will be subject to fines and or jail. About fifty thousand Americans will punished by a fine and or about three thousand Americans every year will go to jail under the new bankruptcy law. For some people this will be a third strike they will be put in jail for life.

The bill has the support of President Bush, and its passage in the House sometime next month seems likely. If enacted into law, lending companies will recover more money on what otherwise would be written off as bad loans. Those persons of median and higher income seeking relief would be required to file under Chapter 13 status and pay up to $100 per month under court imposed conditions. It is expected the proposed changes would cause a sharp increase in filings before the new law could take effect.

5 September

News briefs:June 1, 2010

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