Campaigners angry at new British police tracking system

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Civil liberties campaigners have reacted angrily to the announcement that the largest police force in Britain has purchased a revolutionary computer system which will allow them to track everything a person does online in a three-dimensional graphic. The Metropolitan Police service, responsible for policing London, announced the purchase of Geotime, a computer program which can correlate information from satellites, mobile phones, social networking websites, IP logs and financial transactions. The software is already used by the U.S. military.

This latest tool could also be used in a wholly invasive way and could fly in the face of the role of the police to facilitate rather than impede the activities of democratic protesters.

Lawyers and campaigners have questioned whether innocent individuals may be tracked by the software, likened to a computer program in the science fiction film Minority Report. Sarah McSherry, a lawyer representing a number of protesters, raised fears officers could breach data protection laws by tracking innocent protesters, endangering the democratic rights of demonstrators. “We have already seen the utilisation of a number of tactics which infringe the right to peaceful protest, privacy and freedom of expression, assembly and movement. All of these have a chilling effect on participation in peaceful protest,” she said. “This latest tool could also be used in a wholly invasive way and could fly in the face of the role of the police to facilitate rather than impede the activities of democratic protesters.”

Geotime correlates information from numerous sources allowing intelligence officers to view effectively every online move made by individuals, and its website says it can link one suspect to others. The computer software can reportedly create links between people and reveal relationships and private communications, disclosing “temporal patterns and behaviours.” A product director at the parent company, Oculus, said the program is available to purchase commercially.

A number of academics and intelligence experts have said the program could lead to more convictions in terrorism and organised crime investigations, with one professor describing its use as “absolutely right.” In contrast, an official at Privacy International called on police to explain how the software would be used. “Once millions and millions of pieces of microdata are aggregated, you end up with this very high-resolution picture of somebody, and this is effectively what they are doing here,” he said. “We shouldn’t be tracked and traced and have pictures built by our own government and police for the benefit of commercial gain.”

Data protection in Britain has become a major issue among public debate in recent years. The most recent controversy to emerge came last week after an elderly man with no criminal record was given permission to take senior officers who systematically recorded details of his attendance at peaceful protests to the High Court. The Metropolitan Police have not yet confirmed how the computer system will be used, but they are researching numerous possibilities; a spokesperson said they were still assessing whether they would permanently use the technology but declined to confirm how much it cost.

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India’s flag lands on Moon

Saturday, November 15, 2008

At 8:34 pm Indian time Friday night (1504 UTC), India became the fourth country to land its flag on the Moon.

The unmanned lunar orbiter Chandrayaan-1 ejected its Moon Impact Probe (MIP), which hurtled across the surface of the Moon at 1.5 kilometres per second (3000 miles per hour), and successfully crash landed near the Moon’s south pole.Besides carrying three important scientific instruments, the lunar probe also carried the image of the Indian national flag, painted on all sides.

Chandrayaan-1 (meaning ‘Moon craft’ in Sanskrit) reached its target lunar orbit on Wednesday. The orbiter will remain in a circular orbit 102 kilometres above the Moon’s surface for two years. Its instruments will be gradually commissioned over the next few days.

With this landing, India became both the fourth country to place a flag on the Moon and the fifth group to send a spacecraft to the Moon. The other countries which have sent spacecraft to the Moon are the United States, the former Soviet Union, Japan, and China, along with the European Space Agency (ESA), a consortium of 17 countries. Japan and China currently each have scientific satellites orbiting the Moon, though China has not yet put a spacecraft on the moon’s surface.

The MIP has a mass of 29 kg, is about the size of a microwave oven, and was designed and assembled in India.After the orbiter ejected it, the probe took about 25 minutes to reach the Moon’s surface. On-board digital cameras made a high resolution movie of the surface during descent, and scientists also conducted measurements with the probe’s mass spectrometer and radar altimeter.Data was beamed back to India via the orbiter, and it is currently being processed and analysed.

Data from the altimeter experiments will be used to refine the instrument in order to control the soft landing of a future probe. Plans are already being prepared for the Chandrayaan-2 to be launched by 2012.

India’s first lunar mission was launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre on the Andhra Pradesh coast on October 22.The launch vehicle was an Indian designed and built rocket that had been previously proven by carrying scientific and commercial payloads to earth orbit, including weather and communications satellites.The cost of this mission is estimated at 340 crore (3.4 billion) rupees (US$78 million). The mission carries five scientific instruments built by India’s technology sector, and six developed cooperatively with foreign nations.

Goals for the orbiter include making a detailed map of the Moon’s chemical make-up and mineral resources, as well as a three-dimensional digital map of the entire surface. The mission will examine the surface for sources of water, and take comparison photos of the light side and dark sides of the surface.

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Wikinews Shorts: May 15, 2009

A compilation of brief news reports for Friday, May 15, 2009.

California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed budget cuts and layoffs for California yesterday.

Californian education budgets would be cut by $3 billion USD for the next five years if California voters gave a yes votes to the budget-related measures for May 19’s special election.

Schwarzenegger is also ready to sell state properties including the San Quentin State Prison and the Los Angeles Coliseum to raise money for the state.


  • Associated Press. “Schwarzenegger Proposes Layoffs, Deep Budget Cuts” —, May 14, 2009
  • Christie, Jim. “California governor sees $15.4 billion gap, urges deep cuts” — Reuters, May 14, 2009

Nintendo DS sales hit one million units last April. However, even with Nintendo’s moderate success with their DS gaming system, all video game sales have declined 17%.

GameSpot writer Tor Thorsen claims that Nintendo DSi, the current release of the Nintendo DS, is an acronym for “Dominating Sales in America.”


  • Thorsen, Tor. “NPD: US April sales slide 17%, DS tops 1 million” — GameSpot, May 14, 2009
  • “UPDATE 1-U.S. video game sales down 17 pct in April-NPD” — Reuters, May 14, 2009

Eight-time gold medalist Michael Phelps, in a recent conference Thursday, told reporters he will enter a swimming competition today.

This is Phelps’ first swim meet since he was photographed with a marijuana pipe in his mouth.

Phelps will swim the 200-meter freestyle and 100-meter butterfly races.

After the marijuana pipe photo was released, Phelps was unsure of whether he would swim again.


  • Crouse, Karen. “Phelps Has Company on Comeback Trail in Charlotte” — The New York Times, May 14, 2009
  • Newberry, Paul. “Phelps ready for 1st race since Beijing” — Associated Press, May 14, 2009

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Ford, Fiat to produce small cars together

Friday, September 9, 2005

Italian-based Fiat Auto SPA and US-based Ford Motor Co. announced they signed an agreement to cooperate in designing two small car models. This came only seven months after General Motors severed their relationship with Fiat.

Both companies plan to work together on a new version of the popular Fiat Cinquecento and on a replacement for the Ford Ka, both to be based on the Fiat Panda platform.

The cooperation can help reduce the companies’ small car production costs and ease financial difficulties they are facing. Ford is struggling with high labor and health care costs, while Fiat suffers from its unprofitable Italian plants.

After the deal was announced, shares of Fiat rose $0.06 to $9.44, while Ford gained $0.06 to $9.95 on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

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How To Give Perfect Massage

By Marion Mccants

What differentiates a regular massage from a perfect one? The answer is on the details of the massage that you are going to provide.

The first and one of the most important features that you need to look at will be the setup. This will be the place where the massage will take place. The things that you are going to take care of will include the room temperature, lighting, privacy, noise, and the scent.

If you are living in a place where the weather can get really cold, the room’s temperature is always a big issue when giving a massage. You will need to have heaters and thermometers in order to monitor and keep the room as warm as possible. You might not need a lot of light. A couple of lamps with shades may be great as they will leave you with enough light to still see which body parts you are massaging. At the same time, these lights will be a little more dimmed compared to overhead light fixtures.

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The bedroom or a massage room specifically made for this purpose can be a good venue. These rooms will offer the best amounts of privacy. Closing the doors can help reduce the amount of unnecessary noise getting into the room.

Before you get to the real massage techniques, a warm up is necessary so that the body will not be abruptly shook up by the massage. If you are the one giving the massage, you need to start with light strokes. The deeper and harder strokes should be reserved for the middle part of the session. The warm up can be done with the use of your fingers. You run your fingers lightly over the area that you are planning to massage. For back massage, most therapists start at the back. Then, they will massage lightly towards the shoulder to make the back become a little less tense.

The preliminaries of a massage will likewise include prepping your client about the amount of time that the session will take. Most of these people who get massages are most probably busy with the lives and can only have a specific amount of time allotted for the massage. And so if you say that the massage will be completed in an hour, you need to complete it in an hour or a little bit sooner.

After the warm up, it will be time for the massage. For this, the therapist will make use of harder strokes. The palms of the hands are also used for most techniques. Depending on the type of massage that you are getting, this part can take the longest to complete.

Once the main part is completed, a warm down method is still implemented. Much like in doing exercise, you need to slowly make the body revert back to its previous state. The muscles need to be relaxed with the least amount of pressure placed on them. A little rubbing on the area that was massaged might be enough as a warm down technique.

About the Author: Marion Mccants enjoys writing about

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Study raises health concerns about shower curtains

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Canadian Environmental Law Assocation and the Canadian organization Environmental Defence jointly conducted a study that was released to the public on Thursday, saying that chemicals released by new vinyl curtains may pose a significant health risk.

The study noted that many shower curtains contain more than 100 volatile organic compounds (VOCs), phthalates and organotins, some of which may be released into the air when first taken from a package. These chemicals, responsible for the characteristic smell of new vinyl, may cause damage to kidneys, the liver and the central nervous systems, respiratory problems, nausea, headaches and loss off coordination, according to the report.

These vinyl curtains are also said to contain traces of metals like lead, cadmium and mercury.

Jennifer Foulds of Environmental Defence advises consumers to seek alternatives to new vinyl products such as shower curtains and table cloths. Older products are thought to be safe, as they have already released most of the allegedly dangerous chemicals.

Critics of the study have called it “fear-mongering”, and some health professionals agree that the risk is being overblown. Warren Foster, a professor in the obstetrics and gynecology department at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario points out that, “the difference between hazard and risk is great, and without knowing the actual human exposure, it’s premature to make any judgement.”

Foster further commented that the study was not performed in a rigorous manner by not having controls or random sampling.

Five brands of shower curtain were examined in the study; they were purchased from American stores including Bed Bath & Beyond, Kmart, Sears, Target and Wal-Mart. Curtains of the same brand are also available in major Canadian stores.

Marion Axmith, director general of the Vinyl Council of Canada calls the report a “blatant attempt to manipulate consumers and retailers into thinking shower curtains pose a danger, and they don’t.” She noted that, “as far as we know, nobody’s ever been harmed by a shower curtain.”

Vinyl has long been a point of dispute between environmentalists and those in the chemical industry. A chemical used to make vinyl is known to be a risk for liver and other cancers for chemical plant workers, and the phthalates in vinyl products have been linked to interference with normal male hormone production.

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Australian Senator arrives at Parliament dressed as a beer bottle

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Family First Senator Steve Fielding arrived at Parliament today, dressed as a beer bottle to raise awareness of a bill he intends to move in the Senate today. Senator Fielding will introduce a bill to establish a nationwide refund scheme for bottles and cans.

A similar scheme has operated in South Australia since 1977.

Family First wants a rebate of 10 cents per container, while the Australian Greens want 20 cents.

Speaking to reporters outside parliament dressed as a beer bottle, the Senator said the legislation would reduce litter by 25 per cent. “There’s a message in this bottle.”

“I am no longer trash, I’m cash.”

“We should get the litter off the streets and off the creeks and into recycling – that’s good for the environment and good for the community”

“It’s a win-win and I can’t understand why nationally we don’t have a scheme,” said Senator Fielding.

Senator Fielding said that recycling not only reduced litter, but also consumes less energy than making new containers from scratch. “Recycling a plastic bottle saves more than 80 per cent of the energy used to make a bottle from scratch and recycling aluminium cans uses just five per cent of the energy used making a can from scratch,” said the Senator.

Senator Bob Brown, leader of the Greens said while there were environmental benefits from recycling, it would also create thousands of new jobs.

“This is a very good way of recycling and reducing energy because a lot of energy goes into making cans and bottles,” Senator Brown told reporters.

“It will employ tens of thousands of people across Australia.”

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2005 World Social Forum-Brazil coverage

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