A brief examination
May 28, 2008

Amgine is not actively involved in the en.Wikinews project. Which is a far cry from saying Amgine has no opinions regarding the project.

Let's take a very brief critical look at the 27 May 2008 published articles, as they stood at 00h 28 May 2008:

Florida teacher lets students vote to remove child from class

A fairly classic human-interest, controversial story about kindergarten.

News value: *
Writing: **
Football: Thomas Sørensen ready for new club

A sports gossip story including weasel words (sources say...)and an unlinked inline attribution. Notably well-linked, except glossary terms are linked to Wikipedia rather than Wiktionary. For not-understandable reasons this article includes a Danish national nav box, as opposed to a Sports or Football nav box. Nationality trumps topic on en.Wikinews?

News value: **
Writing: ***

At least 30 dead after bus crashes off cliff and into river in South Africa

This breaking news article is admirably spare of verbiage; last edit 3 hours ago. The article follows inverted pyramid format, and is ready for further development. It is lacking relevant data - when, name of the river, name of the highway, owner of the bus, origination and destination, etc. - but is well on its way to being good local coverage. Title lacks specificity.

News value: ****
Writing: **.5

Canadian foreign affairs minister resigns amid controversy

A shallow and weak political scandal article, lacking vigorous writing and not examining the precursors or analyzing the events. Title is not fulfilled in the article. Includes Canadian navbox, does nationality trump topic on en.Wikinews?

News value: ****
Writing: *.5

Google claims that lawsuit threatens Internet

Terrible  title. English usage in the article is poor—reads as though primarily written by esl author. Missing all kinds of data - where the lawsuit is filed, when, which specific entities or people are involved, why Google is the target of copyright infringement claimed against YouTube, etc. Best thing about this article: the Internet topic navbox.

News value: ***
Writing: *

Long March rocket launches first Fengyun-3 weather satellite

A limited technology article. Covers most of the facts. Lacks vigorous/journalistic writing style, and a bit short on sources. Yet again, national navbox but not topical.

News value: **.5
Writing: **.5

2008 Computex Preview: Three awards, One target

Press release/advertisement. The 6 articles currently published about 2008 Computex—which hasn't even taken place yet!—are each of them unabashed promotions of the event. en.Wikinews is clearly being used to market someone's private event. I'm not wasting my time to even consider its journalistic and writing elements.

News value: 0
Writing: 0

FIFA suspend Asian Soccer Champions Iraq

Non-english title, and similar language issues in the content. There's a story struggling to be written here, but this isn't publishable. Lacking data, and the previously mentioned english problems...

News value: ***.5
Writing: **

So, what we have are two hard news stories, two topical stories, two sports/entertainment articles, a human interest/teaser, and an advertisement. Of these, the breaking news story and the human interest are the only ones which, after reading, the average person would be able to understand the content.

In short, there's almost no news on en.Wikinews these days. And most of what is published is crap writing, or crap journalism, or isn't supposed to be there at all.

Posted by Amgine | 12:02 AM | Permalink | 0 comments

Edinburgh Fringe festival begins
August 10, 2006

August 9, 2006
The 60th Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the "world's largest arts festival" opened on Sunday, August 6. It features more than 1,800 shows put on by 17,000 performers in 260 venues.
The Fringe now dominates the group of annual arts festivals that draw 750,000 visitors to Edinburgh every year, last year 1.3 million tickets were sold for Fringe shows. Anyone can register, pay a fee, find a venue and put on a show at the Fringe, famous for its quirky choice of venues - this year, they include a double-decker bus, a swimming pool, tree and a toilet; and "Hamlet" is being performed in a bouncy castle.

An estimated 160,000 people watched the Fringe Festival Cavalcade, a jamboree of more than 3000 marchers, which marks the launch of the Fringe.

Fringe director Gudgin urged audiences to be selective, saying that it would take five years, 11 months and 16 days to see all the shows back-to-back. The Festival is scheduled to end in August 28.

A recent Edinburgh City Council study concluded the Fringe brought more than £75m to the local economy each year. The festival's jop openings included rickshaw drivers, show announcers to shouts details of the impending show and tell the audience when it is time to take their seats, and collectors to pick up flyers that people throw away.

Good opening

Several shows sold out in a strong opening weekend, including those by comedians Russell Brand, the "people's poet" Pam Ayres in his maiden Fringe venture and One Man Star Wars at the Underbelly. Comedians Jason Byrne, Simon Amstell and Danny Bhoy along with shows such as Best of the Fest and Ella Meets Marilyn starring Sally Lindsay and Rain Pryor are expected to join the list.

The Assembly venue, with theatres on George Street and the 800 Assembly Hall on the Royal Mile, said it had sold 97,000 tickets by last Friday - more than the entire number it sold in 1999.

Religious satire prominent

Australian comic Wil Anderson lays into the Catholic Church, including a send up of the late Pope John Paul II. Breaking the Pope is about the infamous Magdalene laundries, religious-run workhouses for women in Ireland that existed until the mid-90s. "Mary and The Stripper" contrasts the tales of Mary Magdalene and a 21st-century stripper hooked on heroin.
Danish-Egyptian comedian Omar Marzouk performs a standup routine on the Prophet Mohammed cartoon controversy.

We Don't Know Shi'ite, uses vox pops in the streets of Britain to highlight ignorance about Islam. The play's director Joshua Blackstone said, "Britain could work so much better as a multi-ethnic society if people were more open-minded. We could put to rest the stereotypes if there is more understanding,"

Rev Donald Reid, a spokesman for the Festival of Spirituality and Peace, a religious gathering that runs alongside the Fringe, welcomed the focus on religion, calling it a reflection of an upsurge in the thirst for faith and spirituality.

"Artists are testing the boundaries of how far they can go ... But religion should be able to be commented on and its absurdities pointed out.", he said.

In Bible Babel Live! the Bible is read, in English, Greek and Chinese, from start to finish in 80 hours over 10 days .

Speaking of the religious motif, the festival director Paul Gudgin said, "Clearly it's a very personal subject that artists and writers currently feel a particular need to explore,".
"It's either about what is happening with radical Islam or reflects interest and concern over the influence Evangelical Christians seem to be having in the United States," he told Reuters. Pointing to a "Da Vinci Syndrome", he said, "All of a sudden, these topics are of huge interest. What has surprised me is the breadth of shows on offer.".

The religious theme recieved further impetus from the Racial and Religious Hatred Act introduced in the UK, which sought to give all faiths equal protection, was condemned by comedians such as Rowan Atkinson who feared it would turn satire into a criminal offence.

Religion and politics mix

Jesus: The Guantanamo Years is a one-man show by Abie Philbin Bowman, is playing to sell-out houses. In the show, Bowman plays Jesus, a bearded Middle Eastern man arrested by U.S. immigration officials and sent to the Guantanamo detention center in Cuba after confessing he was ready to die as a martyr.

Bowman says comedy can be an effective weapon if used responsibly. "Being Irish and having grown up in the 1980s I have a sense of my own culture having been hijacked by terrorists and people assuming all Irish were terrorists," he said.

Petrol Jesus Nightmare, from the Traverse Theatre Company features two Israeli soldiers holed up under fire, an apocalyptic thriller about the violent consequences of faith has been seen as "prescient" of the ongoing Middle-east violence.

The Black Jew Dialogues and According to Jesus were other shows on offer. The Situation Comedy is a play from Israel about a suicide bombing written and performed by Robbie Gringras. According to Gringras, it was inspired by true events, including suicide bombings in Israel.
The Scotsman newspaper's theater critic Joyce McMillan called the Fringe "the most amazing barometer of world politics," The Fringe tackled terrorism last year, following the July 2005 London bombings.

In Breasts and Burgers, a surrealist spectacle adapted from a play by 20th-century avant-gardist Guillaume Apolliniare - the US flag is ripped apart onstage each night. Cecile Shea, the US consul in Scotland, has said the play could cause hurt to ordinary Americans.

Director Richard Franklin defended it as a comment on freedom of speech. "The most serious thing to come out of the war on terror is the excuse to create legislation against this freedom (of speech)" he told the Herald newspaper, "It is a symbolic thing and is intended as such."
An American tourist John McCabe visiting Edinburgh was unconvinced, saying "It seems the Stars and Stripes is an acceptable target in this liberal environment," and "I doubt the desecration of the Koran on stage would be tolerated. Free speech is one thing, but where's the proportionality? I certainly would not go and see this play."

Controversy over Churchill's cigar

Actor Mel Smith, who plays Winston Churchill in Allegiance had to go without lighting the trademark cigar, as smoking in an enclosed public space is now a crime in Scotland. Officials threatened to close down the theater, the Assembly Rooms, if he lit up.
"I think it's absurd. In the context of an international festival like this, it's crazy. It's integral to the part of Churchill and it doesn't affect other people - it's just absurd.", William Burdett-Coutts, who runs the Assembly Rooms, said.

Funding woes

Organisers of the Show have called for more funding, both from public sources as well as from private businesses, to help the show.

Anthony Alderson, the director of The Pleasance, told The Scotsman newspaper that without further private sector funding the Fringe could start to shrink and lose its standing as the world's best festival. He feared that the current rate of expansion is unsustainable without further support from businesses. The Fringe director Paul Gudgin said last year that the Festival would need to make a string of cutbacks if it was to combat major losses.
The Fringe Society currently receives only £45,000 a year from the city council and £25,000 from the Scottish Arts Council.

Gudgin also called for an urgent Scottish Executive response to the Thundering Hooves report into the future of Edinburgh’s festivals, published this May. It pointed out that the festivals contribute £184 million a year to the Scottish economy and stressed the need for continued investment, long-term planning, and international promotion to beat off competition from other cities.

The Edinburgh City Council responded within a month with the announcement of a £1m fund for the various festivals. Some have argued that this money was already in the pipeline.

Fees go up

The Edinburgh City Council has announced increases in theatre licence fees, which venues must pay before holding a show. For venues with 200 seats or less, fees go up from £127 in 2005 to £440 this year, £620 next year and £800 in 2008. For venues seating more than a thousand, fees went up from £295 last year to £1,320 this year.

The Fringe Society, which represents the festivals managers and performers said it was "deeply concerned about the council's decision to make these sharp increases in theatre licence prices", adding that "particularly the smaller venues who will suffer,".

The Council said new laws meant the costs of its licensing scheme had to be recovered from venues. Councillor Jack O'Donnell, convener of the licensing regulatory committee, said the scheme had been operating at a deficit of £177,000.

"Edinburgh Fringe puts faith in religious satire". Reuters, Aug 9, 2006
Associated Press "Edinburgh Fringe festival gets political". Nine MSN, August 9, 2006
"Odd jobs at the Edinburgh Fringe". BBC News, August 8, 2006
"Churchill's cigar snuffed out at Edinburgh Fringe". Reuters, Aug 7, 2006
Tim Cornwell "It's Fringe time - and Lady Boys are here". The Scotsman, August 7, 2006
Paul Majendie "Religion top theme as Fringe turns 60". Reuters, Aug 6, 2006
Senay Boztas "Fringe director warns Executive: fund Festival or lose out to rivals". Sunday Herald, Aug 6, 2006
Press Release: "Fringe News". Edinburgh Festival Fringe, 05 Aug 2006
Michael Blackey "Pleasance boss urges firms to support fringe". Scotsman, 4 Aug 2006
Charles Pamment "The arts go on show in Edinburgh". BBC News, July 28, 2006
"Religion at the heart of Fringe". BBC News, 8 June 2006
"Venues angry at Fringe costs hike". BBC News, 7 April 2006
"The Situation Comedy at Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2004". All About Jewish Theatre,

Posted by Brian | 1:07 AM | Permalink | 0 comments

Brothers found guilty of killing schoolboy

August 9, 2006

Two brothers have been found guilty of killing a ten year-old schoolboy. Damilola Taylor, who was born in Nigeria and had only been in the United Kingdom for a couple of months, was stabbed in the leg and died in the stairwell of a housing estate in Peckham in south London in 2000.

Eighteen year-old Danny Preddie and nineteen year-old Rickie Preddie, who live in Peckham, were convicted of manslaughter in a retrial at the Old Bailey this afternoon.
On hearing the verdict, Rickie Preddie started shouting and swearing. "You are corrupt. You are nothing," he told the judge, who then ordered prison officers surrounding the teenager to take him out of the court.

Outside the court, Damilola's father Richard Taylor said: "We, the family, feel nobody can ever return our son to us. But it is a great comfort that justice has finally been done for Damilola.We pray that his gentle soul can now rest in peace."

The head of homicide and serious crime at the Metropolitan Police's Specialist Crime Directorate, Commander Dave Johnston, said: "Today justice has finally been reached for Damilola. His violent death in 2000 sent shockwaves throughout London and beyond. For his family it was a very personal tragedy played out in a very public arena and I would like to acknowledge the courage and dignity with which Gloria and Richard Taylor have supported us throughout the police investigations."

The two brothers had been cleared earlier this year of murder and assault at an earlier trial.
They will be sentenced in two weeks' time.

"Justice done for Damilola". The Sun Online, 9 August, 2006
James Sturcke "Brothers convicted of Damilola manslaughter". The Guardian, 9 August, 2006
"'Justice has finally been done for our Damilola'". Daily Mail, 9 August, 2006
"Brothers guilty of Damilola death". BBC News Online, 9 August, 2006

Posted by Brian | 1:06 AM | Permalink | 0 comments

Fire at New Zealand hospital destroys laundry

August 9, 2006

A fire on Tuesday night at Southland Hospital, Invercargill has destroyed a two-storey building which was used for laundry and cleaning by the cleaning company Alsco.
Junior doctors and interns were evacuated from the nearby hospital campus. A dangerous goods store nearby nearby was saved from the fire. The building was not close enough to the new main hospital building to cause any damage to it.

Morris Robertson, Fire Chief, said: "We managed to save a dangerous goods store near the fire but the laundry is a total loss."

Fire crews arrived at the scene at 9.30 p.m. (NZST) and Morris Robertson said that the building was well ablaze when they arrived. The first was so severe that they had to call in other firefighters to help, including volunteers. In total there was eight fire engines and 35 firefighters.
The fire was under control by 11.30 p.m. but the fire crews stayed overnight, just in case.
The cause of the first has not yet been determined.

"Hospital laundry destroyed by fire". Newstalk ZB, August 08, 2006
"Fire at Southland Hospital". One News, August 09, 2006
NZPA "Southland hospital fire demolishes building"., August 09, 2006

Posted by Brian | 1:05 AM | Permalink | 0 comments

Lieberman loses to Lamont in Connecticut primary

August 9, 2006

Three-term US Senator Joe Lieberman has conceded defeat to challenger Ned Lamont in Tuesday's Democratic Party primary election in the U.S. state of Connecticut. With 98% of precincts reporting, the Associated Press reports that Lieberman has 48% of the vote compared to 52% for Lamont. The winner of the primary faces the Republican Party candidate in the November 7 general election but Lieberman confirmed tonight his intention to petition to run as an Independent against both the Democratic and Republican nominees. The polls closed at 8 p.m. local time (UTC-5).

The final result is highly anticipated due to the feud between Lieberman and Lamont. The major issue in the primary has been Lieberman's support for the US war in Iraq. Lieberman, who was Democrat Al Gore's running mate in the 2000 US presidential election, opposed criticizing US President George W. Bush during wartime and was famously kissed on the cheek by Bush following his 2005 State of the Union address. Lamont has challenged President Bush's handling of the Iraq conflict.

The campaign leading up to the election became increasingly acrimonious, with numerous "attack ads" used by both sides.

Because of the nature of the candidates and the marginality of the seat, the race has been seen by some as a "referendum" on the Democratic party or a "proxy vote" on the entire 2003 invasion of Iraq and subsequent war.
Colorado, Michigan, Missouri and Georgia also held primaries Tuesday.

Related news
"Lieberman accuses Lamont supporters of hacking website and e-mail system". Wikinews, August 8, 2006

Tom Curry "Lieberman concedes; Lamont wins primary". MSNBC, August 9, 2006
"Lieberman concedes to Lamont, vows to run in November". CNN, August 9, 2006
Sam Knight "Voting under way in America's wartorn primary". The Times, August 8
Cokie Roberts "Connecticut Senate Primary Wins National Attention". National Public Radio,
August 7
Gwen Ifil, et al. "Online NewsHour: Report". Public Broadcasting System, August 7

Posted by Brian | 1:03 AM | Permalink | 0 comments

British soldier dies in Afghanistan

August 9, 2006

The Ministry of Defence has confirmed tonight that a British soldier has been killed in Afghanistan. The soldier, from the Royal Logistic Corps in Kabul, died in a traffic accident in Camp Souter.

“The next of kin have been informed, and they have requested a period of time to inform friends and family before his name is made public,” said a statement issued by the Ministry of Defence. The MoD also added that there was no insurgent involvement.

He is the fifth UK soldier to die this month in Afghanistan, and in total, eighteen British troops have died there since operations began.

Last Sunday, Private Andrew Barrie Cutts, from the Royal Logistics Corps, was killed by insurgents in the northern area of Helmand Province.

"Soldier killed in Afghan accident". BBC News Online, 9 August, 2006
"British Soldier Killed". Sky News Online, 9 August, 2006

Posted by Brian | 1:02 AM | Permalink | 0 comments

Arrests over phone-tap of British royal family

August 9, 2006

Three people have been arrested over allegations that they intercepted calls made by staff in Clarence House, Prince Charles’ household. Clive Goodman, royal editor for the tabloid newspaper News of the World, is one of three men who were last night detained by police following a probe by Scotland Yard lasting several weeks. It is alleged they listened to numerous voice mail messages made by members of Britain’s royal household.

All of the three men were questioned by police at Charing Cross police station in London, and police have confirmed this morning that a fifty year-old man has been released on bail. But a spokeswoman for the News International newspaper has said that Mr Goodman remains in custody with another unidentified man.

Scotland Yard had reportedly been told by staff at Clarence House that something suspicious was occurring. The Royal Protection Squad was therefore told to investigate the claims, and due to potential security implications, the anti-terrorist branch is also involved in the enquiry.
"Police launched an investigation after concerns were reported to the Met’s Royalty Protection Department by members of the Royal Household at Clarence House," said a statement issued by Scotland Yard last night. "It is focused on alleged repeated security breaches within telephone networks over a significant period of time and the potential impact this may have around a number of individuals."

It has also emerged today that the investigation will look at whether a number of celebrities and Members of Parliament have had their phones tapped. "Police continue to work with the telephone companies concerned and continue to have their full support in attempting to identify any other person whose telephone may have been intercepted," Scotland Yard’s statement added.

This is not the first time that such phone hacking allegations surrounding the Royal Family have made the headlines. In 1993, a romantic call made late at night between Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwell was made public, and in 1992, a tape featuring a conversation between Princess Diana and a close friend called James Gilbey was published.

Julia Day "Royal phone tap: one man released". The Guardian, 9 August, 2006
Stephen Wright "Royals in phone bugging scandal". Daily Mail, 9 Auguyst, 2006
"Royal phone-tap probe 'widened'". BBC News Online, 9 August, 2006

Posted by Brian | 1:01 AM | Permalink | 0 comments

US base in Nuristan, Afghanistan attacked

August 9, 2006

According to reports citing U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan, an insurgent attack on the base at Kamdesh in Nuristan Province was successfully repelled, leaving dead approximately half of the 30 insurgents reported to have attacked the base.

Early Wednesday morning, the Kamdesh Provincial Reconstruction Team base was attacked from three directions by an estimated 30 insurgents with RPGs and small arms. The base, which houses hundreds of soldiers, returned fire with mortars and small arms. The base called for air support and jets dropped four 500-pound bombs, effectively ending the battle.
Lt. Joel Rees said "This is the first large, coordinated attack on our base since we arrived three weeks ago". He continued "When light broke, we found large crater holes from the RPG attack throughout the base and several tents had bullet holes." Maj. Tom Sutton described the two-hour battle as the most ferocious he had seen in the area.

According to the U.S. military, two of their soldiers and one Afghan policeman sustained minor injuries. They were treated at the scene and returned to duty.

The attackers are suspected to be Hezbi Islami, a militant group/political party that is said to have allied with Mullah Omar and the remnant Taliban.

Nuristan is one of the most remote regions of Afghanistan, located on the southern slopes of the Hindu Kush mountains in the northeastern part of the country. Nuristan's security situation is so poor that no NGOs operate there. The base is part of the reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan.

Alex Morales "Afghanistan Coalition Forces Kill 15 Rebels in East, U.S. Says". Bloomberg L.P., August 9, 2006
Paul Garwood "U.S. forces repel raid on Afghan base". Houston Chronicle, August 9, 2006
"US forces kill 12 Taliban". Herald Sun, August 9, 2006
Amir Shah "15 insurgents killed in Afghanistan". Yahoo!, August 9, 2006
"Extremists attack Kamdesh PRT, 15 enemy fighters killed". Combined Forces Command - Afghanistan, August 9, 2006

Posted by Brian | 1:00 AM | Permalink | 0 comments

Coca-Cola and Pepsi face ban in Indian states

August 9, 2006

The popular Coca-Cola drink is now banned in Kerala
Kerala, an state in southern India, has banned the production and sale of both Coca-Cola and Pepsi due to high levels of pesticide residue discovered in the popular soft drinks.
It is the first state to impose a complete ban on the production and sale of the drinks, but another five areas have said they will introduce partial bans in hospitals, schools and colleges.
The decision to ban the products came after the Centre for Science and Environment said experiments done on the drinks' samples in twelve states in India showed very high amounts of pesticides. Kerala's communist government therefore introduced the ban, but after it was announced yesterday, the Indian Soft Drinks Manufacturers Association issued a statement saying: "Our products manufactured in India are absolutely safe and meet every safety standard set by food health and regulatory bodies in India and all over the world."

"Coke, Pepsi banned in Kerala". MSN India, August 9, 2006
Sanjoy Majumder "Indian state bans Pepsi and Coke". BBC News Online, August 9, 2006
"Four more Indian states ban colas". Monsters and Critics, August 9, 2006

Posted by Brian | 12:58 AM | Permalink | 0 comments

Swan in German zoo tests positive for H5N1 virus
August 05, 2006

August 4, 2006

A "highly pathogenic strain" of the H5N1 Avian Flu virus has been detected in a dead Australian black swan, floating in a pond located at the Dresden Zoo in Dresden, Germany. Conflicting reports say that the swan was found on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. The Friedrich Loeffler Institute which specializes in animal diseases confirmed the test results.

"We can confirm that this is the highly pathogenic strain," said a spokesperson for the institute.

Officials have blocked off an area of Dresden approximately 1.9 miles (3km) from the site where the swan was found and have posted observation areas at approximately 6.2 miles (10km) outside the area as a precaution.

For the moment, all birds in the zoo have been confined to their cages and viewing of birds by the public is no longer permitted. The zoo still remains open for business and cleaning efforts have been intensified. Officials have also restricted cats and dogs from roaming areas nearby. There are at least 112 different species of birds, totaling 720, located at the zoo.

In April, H5N1 was first discovered in Germany in a domestic fowl and in wild birds. The last case of H5N1 to turn up in Germany was on May 12, 2006.


Posted by Brian | 3:59 AM | Permalink | 0 comments

Four children among six Canadians killed in Israeli attack on Lebanon
July 20, 2006

July 19, 2006

Six Canadians, including four children who were killed on Sunday by an Israeli bombardment on a house in south Labanon have been identified.

Saja Al-Akhrass (8), Zeinab Al-Akhrass (6), Ahmad Al-Akhrass (4), and Salam Al-Akhrass (11 months) were in Lebanon for a summer holiday, visiting their extended family. They were killed when their house collapsed after being struck by an Israeli bombardment. Their parents, 36-year-old Ali Al-Akhrass and his wife Amira (23) were also killed in the attack. The family were residents of Montreal.

Six others were reported wounded in the attack.

"I lost my brother, I lost my sister, my nephew, the family of my nephew, my aunt, my uncle. Oh God," said Hussain El-Akras, brother of one of the victims. He told a Montreal news conference Monday that his family were begging the government of Canada to "put pressure on Israel to stop this barbaric behaviour."

The Israeli miltary statement on the incident said "The responsibility for any civilian casualties rests entirely with the Hizbollah terrorist organization" and "The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) requested and warned residents of the area not to stay within range of the launch sites". Israel says that Hezbollah disperses its weaponry among supporters in residential neighborhoods to avoid being targeted by the much larger, better-equipped Israeli Defense Forces.



Posted by MessedRocker | 2:53 AM | Permalink | 0 comments

Indian Big Brother to have ban on "hanky-panky"

July 19, 2006

Producers of India's Big Brother have said that an upcoming celebrity edition will have a ban on "hanky-panky".

A spokeswoman for Endemol India told BBC News that contestants will have to remain chaste in the Big Brother house for three months. "Participants will be told to keep their hands to themselves," she revealed. "India is a conservative society and it is not ready for the raunchy scenes that so characterise the programmes in the West," she added.

And unlike other versions of Big Brother around the World, India's version will not be transmitted live in a bid to avoid showing unpleasant scenes which may cause controversy.

It is understood that up to twelve contestants will participate in the show, which is to be televised at the end of this year. The show's producers have said they want stars from Bollywood, Indian television and cricket to live in the Big Brother compound. The managing director of Endemol India, Rajesh Kamat, said both Hindus and Muslims may be chosen, but that issues between religions would not be talked about on the programme.

India is still quite a conservative society. Close acts like kissing are never seen on TV, and only a small number of couples cohabit before marriage.

In 2006, two housemates were removed from Australia's version of Big Brother after a female contestant alleged they had sexually assaulted her.

Big Brother was created in the Netherlands in 1999 and has sold to almost seventy different countries.


Posted by MessedRocker | 2:44 AM | Permalink | 0 comments

Second quake in two days strikes Indonesia

An earthquake measuring 6.3 or 6.4 (according to preliminary data) on the Richter scale hit Indonesia today, days after a larger earthquake hit the same region and triggered a tsunami and killed at least 520 people. The earthquake struck the Sunda Straits separating the islands of Sumatra and Java. There are no immediate reports of damages. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said that the quake posed no risk of a tsunami, being too small in magnitude.

The US Geological Survey has reported the magnitude of the quake as 6.0.



Posted by Nathan | 2:30 AM | Permalink | 0 comments

Heatwave hits the UK and Ireland

July 19, 2006

Today has seen Britain's hottest recorded July day with temperatures hitting 36.5ºC (97.7ºF) in Wisley in Surrey. Warm air from the Gulf Stream is raising the temperature, and the hot weather is causing the asphalt on some public roads to melt, requiring gritting.Some schools stayed closed on Wednesday, while others shut at lunchtime. Many school sports days have also been cancelled.

People have been advised to drink plenty of water, not go out in the midday sun and keep curtains closed to cool rooms. People have also been asked to check the most vulnerable, including the elderly, the young and the sick. The RSPCA has also told pet owners to try and keep their pets cool.

The heat wave has also hit northern France and the Netherlands, with 4 people reported dead due to heatstroke.

However, some areas aren't basking in the heat. Lerwick in the Shetland Islands is currently cloudy with fog, at only 18ºC (64ºF)

Weather forecasters have said that while the temperatures are not going to rise any further, it will get more humid as a band of showers arrive this evening, with night-time temperatures at 19ºC in London and Cardiff, 14ºC in Edinburgh and 18ºC in Dublin.


Posted by Nathan | 2:29 AM | Permalink | 0 comments

Row over NZ Police memo on issuing traffic tickets

July 19, 2006

According to a leaked memorandum, sent to New Zealand Police officers in the Levin district last year, they will be penalised if they do not perform well in the issuing tickets.

The penalties for not reaching the target will be:

  • Pay deductions, 20% loss of pay
  • Loss of additional training courses or specialised duties
  • 'Named and shamed'
  • Demotion

The requirement for issuing tickets is one per hour and the requirement for catching a drunk driver is one per ten hours.

Simon Power, Law and Order spokesman for the New Zealand National Party, said "It is very disturbing that police officers are being put under internal and financial pressure to write traffic tickets. And just yesterday Annette King told me in answer to a written question that police do not receive incentives, financial or otherwise, if they issue a particular number of tickets."

Two weeks ago a different memo was leaked which showed the police officers have quotas, which the Police Minister, Annette King, dismissed.

However if police officers are performing well the Area or District Commanders will be informed which could lead to extra benefits.

The police Central District Commander, Superintendent Mark Lammas, said that there was nothing wrong with the memo as it is reasonable for officers to be told they may not receive a pay increase if they consistently fail to enforce.


Posted by MessedRocker | 2:21 AM | Permalink | 0 comments

Stem cell bills passed by US House and Senate

July 19, 2006

The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005 (HR810), approved by the US House of Representatives in 2005, gained a 63-37 approval in the Senate on July 17th, 2006, and will now be presented for presidential approval or veto.

Bill HR810 passed by the Senate as SB471, overrides the 2001 executive order signed by George W. Bush that banned funding by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for embryonic stem cell research of stem cell lines created after the executive order was issued. The new bill does not include a provision against privately funded research, which is legal under the law, only research funded by NIH.

The bill includes three ethical requirements for funded research. First, the stem cells were derived from human embryos that have been donated from in vitro fertilization clinics, were created for the purposes of fertility treatment, and were in excess of the clinical need of the individuals seeking such treatment. Second, prior to the consideration of embryo donation and through consultation with the individuals seeking fertility treatment, it was determined that the embryos would never be implanted in a woman and would otherwise be discarded. And lastly, the individuals seeking fertility treatment donated the embryos with written informed consent and without receiving any financial or other inducements to make the donation.

President Bush is expected to veto the bill as early as today, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said the veto would be "pretty swift". [1] This would be President Bush's first veto of his two terms in office.

As with any vetoed bill, a two-thirds majority of the House and Senate can override said veto, but the original vote (63-37) show that the Senate is more than likely to not get the override votes it would need. Even without the two-thirds original vote, Senator Carl Levin of Michigan has voiced support for a veto override. [2]

Two other bills, S2754 and S3504, the Alternative Pluripotent Stem Cell Therapies Enhancement Act and the Fetus Farming Prohibition Act of 2006, respectively, were failed and passed in that order by the House of Representatives. S2754 was introduced to the House this afternoon and failed by a vote of 273-154, S3504 was passed unanimously by the House and is also expected to be on the President's desk this morning.


Posted by Nathan | 2:17 AM | Permalink | 0 comments

Death toll rises in Indonesian tsunami

July 19, 2006

At least 550 people are now thought to have died after a tsunami hit the Indonesian island of Java on Monday afternoon. An earthquake, which measured 7.7 on the Richter scale, triggered the two-metre-high tidal wave.

As rescuers continue to pull dead bodies from destroyed beaches, homes and hotels, Indonesia’s government has been criticised for failing to inform residents that a tsunami was imminent.

After the underwater earthquake erupted, Japanese and US agencies issued tsunami alerts for parts of Indonesia and Australia, but the Indonesian government has admitted it was unable to pass warnings on to coastal areas like the small town of Pangandaran which was worst-hit. “Our system is not yet working properly. We are still developing a communication system especially for the regions,” said Fauzi, a government scientist.

In the wake of the 2004 Asian tsunami, which killed more than 130,000 people in the western province of Aceh, a warning system is being implemented there. However, Java has always been perceived as having a low tsunami threat, but Indonesia’s Vice President Jusuf Kalia said today that an early warning system will be installed on the island within three years.

Officials have said that almost all of the victims were Indonesians, but a Pakistani, a Swede and a Dutch citizen were among those who perished.

It is thought that 275 people are still missing. The army and police are searching affected areas with sniffer dogs and mechanical diggers in the hope of finding survivors. “We are looking for people who are still missing or buried under the rubble as well as clearing the debris," said Deden Rajab, an army officer.

Parents are also searching ferociously for their missing children. “The water was too strong,” said Irah as she dug through a pile of rubble with her hands in the hope of recovering her 6-year-old son. “Oh God. Eki, where are you?”

More than 50,000 people have been left homeless as a result of the devastating wave, and aftershocks are making worried residents flee to higher ground.

“People suddenly started running so I joined them,” 42 year-old Marino told the Associated Press.

Others have taken refuge in the hills since the disaster happened. “I am too scared to go down,” one elderly woman told the AFP news agency.

Earlier today, another earthquake caused buildings to shake in Indonesia's capital, Jakarta, but there were no reports of injuries. Officials at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said no new tsunami is expected.

Yesterday, survivors described the tsunami.

A Belgian tourist said he was in a beachside bar when the wave struck. "I saw this big cloud of dark sea water coming up to me," he said.

"When the waves came, I heard people screaming and then I heard something like a plane about to crash nearby, and I just ran," Uli Sutarli, a plantation worker who was on Pangandaran beach, told Reuters.

Indonesia is situated on the Pacific Rim of Fire where 90% of the world's earthquakes and 81% of the world's largest earthquakes occur.



Posted by Nathan | 2:11 AM | Permalink | 0 comments

Evidence, sources, and hoaxes
February 25, 2006

Sometimes a really really good story comes along which is maybe, possibly, just too good to be true. Or maybe it isn't! So you go looking for evidence, corroboration, proof. And you just can't find it. Have you been hoaxed?

In fall 2005 a group of globalism activists circulated a carefully forged press release, announcing that George H. W. Bush would be attending the Forbes Global CEO Conference in Sydney, Australia and purporting to come from the Forbes companies. It included verification phone numbers, and a website. The Australian Associated Press ran the story after calling for verification. Much hilarity ensued, no doubt, and Wikinews was among the many who published the story. And the story about the hoax.

News can be that way. Someone publishes something, everyone believes they've checked their facts so they expand on it. Soon people are citing each other's articles circularly, reporter A says it because reporter B says it and reporter B says it because reporter A said it.

Feb. 6, 2006 a great story popped up on Wikinews, a child custody case with everything. Single divorced mum, sends child to visit father for the holidays, father doesn't send kid back. Court scene with dramatic video of mum involved in parody religion, catholic judge delivering a diatribe from the bench calling the mother mentally deranged, awards sole custody to the father. A clear and disgusting case of religious discrimination.

Except we're only hearing one side, the mum's. Well, and a friend of the mum's.

Dig a little deeper. There's a fair number of links included in the story. They all lead back to the parody religion, or the mum's blog. The blog lays it on pretty thick; it's well written, and I'm sure the author is sincere, and is reasonably freaked out by having her kid legally kidnapped. But... well, not at all unbiased in the review or reporting of the facts.

Now my bias comes out: I think the church of the SubGenius is bunch of forthright loons. They simply and politely tell you they're scamming you, and that'll be $30 please. And of course they have the requisite fake leader, disappearances, yadda yadda. In short, don't believe us or anyone else who claims to know the truth.

I don't.

I'm looking for when this story started breaking. On Wikipedia it was posted to the Church of the SubGenius article at 0740 on the 21st by an anonymous IP. An anonymous IP who went on to vandalize other articles. Elsewhere on the web, everything is rehashing the original blog posting by the mum. And then there is one "fact", a scan of the court order.

There's data there. I can read a docket number, and the lawyers involved in the case. The court house will not confirm or unconfirm the existence of the case. The lawyers really do exist, and they will neither confirm nor unconfirm they have have these clients. And the order is a temporary custody order.

So, what facts do we have? We have a mum, in Texas, who says she had a terrible time in a child custody hearing in New York, and believes the judge made a religious-discrimination-based decision to deny her custody of her child. And she has posted a document which may be a court order which had four verifiable facts: the names of the judge and the three lawyers.

It's just not enough to support an article.

So, we may be behind the times when the story is told. We may have utterly offended the Church of the SubGenius. But on this occasion, unlike the one last fall, we haven't published an article without examining the sources critically. My gut feeling is the story is accurate. But Wikinews requires sources for factual statements, and my gut doesn't get to have a say in the matter.

Posted by Amgine | 2:48 AM | Permalink | 0 comments

La Vida Loca on Wikinews
February 13, 2006

Most days on Wikinews I log in, I check over the developing articles, nudge a few toward publication if I have time, respond to the messages on my talk page and requests for assistance in IRC...

Last week we had a nice story, a bit of investigative reporting I was able to help the lead author (Daniel_Bush) with by modding a script from another contributor (MrMiscellanious) and compiling the output. We did some research, wrote it up, and published it on Tuesday as Wikinews investigates Wikipedia usage by U.S. Senate staff member.

The topic, it seems, was very interesting to members of the press. Here's a description of what we did to learn what we learned.

Every edit on Wikipedia is credited to either a username or an IP address. Wikipedia lets you see all the edits made by either a username or an IP address by checking their user edits: the url to see my edits is - the last word can be substituted with either a different username or an IP. The U.S. congress has a specific block of IP addresses, registered to the U.S. Senate Sergeant at Arms. This block is to 156.255.255.

Daniel_Bush had started working on checking political articles, such as the Senator's own articles, searching through their history for IP addresses which belonged to the senate. He recorded his findings on a research page, compiling enough interesting edits to suggest a bigger story might be hidden in the history of Wikipedia.

MrMiscellanious's script simply counted up through the IPs owned by the senate, and checked if they had ever edited on Wikiped. Some minor tweaks to this collected just the information needed, and helped create lists of IPs which had edited with links to their edits. In the 3 February scan of Wikipedia there were 180 editing IPs within the Senate's block.

While we were compiling the list, I contacted - via their websites - every sitting senator's office. Many of these contacts generated an automated e-mail response from the website server. In these e-mails there is a list of the different mail servers who have pushed the e-mail through the internet. This list can be spoofed, or altered, but the evidence we found suggested they were legitimate.

The early data suggested the Senate IPs were separated into blocks for different purposes, and were probably assigned physically. We had a hypothesis that at least one of these blocks was set aside for senators and their staff, and that it would be separated out into 100 sub-sections. We developed a model which would predict which senator would be assigned which section, and it had the sections broken down first by state and then by senior/junior senator.

When we compared the information from the e-mails we found that not all the senator's websites were located within the senators and staff block. Most of the automated e-mails did come from that block, but two were from machines on a router (where multiple machines use a single IP address) and the rest were from a single block we thought was set aside for servers. The e-mail IPs we did have verified our prediction model with 100% accuracy of those in the target IP address set.

The real test, we thought, would be in which articles were edited by whom. And this turned out to be the case. In examining the hundreds of edits by the IPs the model proved very accurate to a point: it consistently predicted the states of senators, but it was only about 78% accurate on predicting senior/junior senator.

We were confident enough of our results to go to the stage of contacting Senator's offices. We were focusing in on a handful of fairly clear edits, and each of these offices were contacted by phone, sometimes more than once. There were also a half-dozen unusual or particularly beneficial edits we were looking at mentioning in the article, and the offices we had determined these edits came from were likewise contacted. None of our voicemails were returned, however.

By Monday the investigative report, penned mostly by Daniel_Bush with the results of the investigative work, was moved to a developing story on Wikinews, ready for public editing. On Tuesday there were clear signs the article was beginning to get some notice, and it was published.

On Wednesday JWales and staff contacted me, asking if I could take press questions about the story. I spoke with 4 reporters. Thursday had calls from 5 members of the press, and two capitol hill offices. Friday 6-8 (I lost track), and a senator's press officer. Saturday, I vegetated.

Investigative reporting is a lot of fun: you're finding out new information, and even though it's long and boring work, picking through piles of information and making sure you have the fact straight, it's really rewarding when the story is written and gets published. Next time, though, I hope it ends at that point; excited people calling on the phone, all with deadlines and lots of questions, isn't fun and it isn't reporting. Just made my life crazy for a while.

Posted by Amgine | 5:09 PM | Permalink | 0 comments