Wikinews interviews Frank Moore, independent candidate for US President

Saturday, March 1, 2008

While nearly all coverage of the 2008 Presidential election has focused on the Democratic and Republican candidates, the race for the White House also includes independents and third party candidates. These parties represent a variety of views that may not be acknowledged by the major party platforms.

Wikinews has impartially reached out to these candidates, throughout the campaign. We now interview independent Presidential candidate Frank Moore, a performance artist.

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Wikinews interviews Aurélien Miralles about Sirenoscincus mobydick species discovery

Thursday, January 24, 2013

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A group of researchers published a paper about their discovery of a new species of Madagascar mermaid skink lizards last December. The species is the fourth forelimbs-only terrestrial tetrapods species known to science, and the first one which also has no fingers on the forelimbs.

The species was collected at Marosely, Boriziny (French: Port-Bergé), Sofia Region, Madagascar. The Sirenoscincus mobydick name is after the existing parent genus, and a sperm whale from the 1851 novel Moby-Dick by Herman Melville.

This week, Wikinews interviewed one of the researchers, French zoologist Aurélien Miralles, about the research.

((Wikinews)) What caused your initial interest in Madagascar lizards?

Aurélien Miralles: Well, I would say that since I am a child I am fascinated by the biodiversity of tropical countries, and more especially by reptiles. I did a PhD on the evolution and systematics of skink lizards from South America. Then, I get a Humboldt grant to do a postdoc in Germany, at the Miguel Vences Lab, in order to study Malagasy skinks. Madagascar being a fabulous hotspot for reptiles (and not only for reptiles actually), it was a very nice opportunity. Professor Vences proposed me to associate our complementary fields of expertise: he is expert in herpetology for Madagascar, and I am expert in skinks lizards (family Scincidae). It was a very fruitful experience, and many other results have still to [be] published.

((WN)) How was the new species discovered?

AM: By a very funny coincidence actually. In 2010, I went to Madagascar for a long trip through the south of the island, in the semi-arid bush for collecting lizards and snakes samples. Then, during the last days, just before coming back to Germany, I have visited by coincidence the zoological collection of the University of Antananarivo. In that place, I found an old jar of ethanol with two weird little specimens previously collected by a student who didn’t realize it was something new. Being expert on skinks, I immediately recognised it was something very probably new, very different from all the other known species.

((WN)) What does “Sirenoscincus” stand for?

AM: I am not the author of the genus name Sirenoscincus. This genus name was already existing. It has been described by Sakata and Hikida (two Japanese herpetologists). “Sireno” means mermaid. “Scincus” means skinks, a group of little lizards on which I am particularly focusing my studies. So, Sirenoscinus means “mermaid skink”, in reference to [the] fact it has forelimbs but no hindlimbs.

((WN)) How deep underground do the lizards live?

AM: Hard to answer this question because nothing is known on the ecology of this species. But more reasonably, we can hypothesize, by comparison to similar species of skinks, that it is probably living just under the sand surface, [a] few centimeters deep, probably no more, or below [a] rock, leaf litter, or piece of dead wood.

((WN)) What do the lizards eat?

AM: Again, by analogy, I would say most likely small invertebrates (insects, larvae, worms etc…).

((WN)) What equipment was used during the research?

AM: Classic equipment (microscope) and also a state-of-the-art device: a micro CT-scan. It is a big device producing [a] 3D picture of the internal structure without damaging the specimen. It is actually very similar to the scanner used in human medicine, but this one is specially designed for small specimens. Otherwise, I am currently studying the DNA of this species and closely related species in order to determine its phylogenetic position compared to other species with legs, in order to learn more about the evolutionary phenomena leading to limb loss.

((WN)) There are several news sources that have a photo of the species. Is it a photo as seen in a CT-scan?

AM: No, this picture showing a whitish specimen on a black background is not a CT-scan. It is a normal photograph of the collection specimen preserved in alcohol (the one that was in the jar). You can see the complete of picture (including CT-scan 3D radiography, drawing…) in the original scientific publication.

((WN)) Do you know when the newly discovered mermaid skink species was put into the jar? Do you have its photo (of the jar)?

AM: No, I have no picture of the jar. The specimen has been collected in November 2004.

((WN)) What were the roles of the people involved in the research? What activity was most time-consuming?

AM: As first investigator, I did most of the work…and the longest part of the work was to examine closely related species in order to do comparisons…and also to check the complete bibliography related to this topic and to write the paper.
Mrs Anjeriniaina is the student who […] collected the specimen a couple of years ago.
Mrs Hipsley and Mr Müller learnt me how to use the CT-scan, and helped me concerning some point relative to internal morphology. Mr Vences helped me as supervisors. Additionally, all of them have corrected the article, and gave me many relevant advices and corrections, thus improving the quality and the reliability of the paper.

((WN)) Did you get in touch with an external entity to get the new species officially recognised?

AM: No. In zoology, it is only needed to publish the description of a new species (and to give it a name) in a scientific journal, and to designate a holotype specimen (= specimen that will be the official reference for this species), to get this new species “officially” recognised by the scientific community. That does not mean that this new species is “correct” (it might be invalidated by subsequent counter-studies), but that means that this discovery and the new name of [the] species are officially existing.

((WN)) Are there any further plans on exploring the species habitat and lifestyle?

AM: No, not really for the time being, because ecology is not our field of expertise. But other studies (including molecular studies) are currently in progress, in order to focus on the phylogenetic position and the evolution of this species.

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NSA to participate in U.S. cybersecurity

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Obama administration has given the National Security Agency powers to screen private Internet traffic going to and from government sites, and will use AT&T telecommunications as a likely test site. The Obama administration remains firm in this decision, which was put forth during the Bush administration.

The agency defends military networks with a classified system named Tutelag, which decides how to handle malware intrusions (for example, whether to block them or to investigate more closely). “We absolutely intend to use the technical resources, the substantial ones, that NSA has,” said Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS). DHS’s intrusion detection program, Einstein version 3, is in development as version 2 is being deployed. The program defends all U.S. government agencies and departments.

DHS spokeswoman Amy Kudwa said, “We are moving forward in a way that protects privacy and civil liberties.”

AT&T, the chosen test site under Bush, sought assurance from the Obama administration to determine what elements of Einstein 3 to preserve. AT&T officials declined to comment.

In 2006 the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed the class action lawsuit Hepting v. AT&T—currently awaiting decision—against AT&T, which under the Bush administration permitted the NSA to look at domestic communications without a warrant. NSA’s intelligence gathering is limited only to foreign communications.

“We came away saying they have a lot of work in front of them to get this done right,” Ari Schwartz of the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) said. “We’re looking forward to their next steps.”

Schwartz authored a letter on Einstein to the Office of Management and Budget in December 2008 on behalf of the Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board.

NSA director Keith B. Alexander said in April 2009 that the NSA will help, but does not want to take charge. Several people—including Rod Beckstrom, who resigned over the issue as head of the National Cyber Security Center (NCSC); Bruce Schneier of BT Counterpane; Leslie Harris, president and CEO of CDT—and not Dennis Blair, Director of National Intelligence—have urged the Obama administration to keep the Department of Homeland Security in charge despite its low scores, because, they claim, the NSA is a spy agency.

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Australian wheelchair rugby team wins gold at London Paralympics

Thursday, September 13, 2012

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London, England — The Australia national wheelchair rugby team defeated Canada 66–51 to win Australia’s last gold medal of the 2012 Summer Paralympics.

The Canadian team had no answer to Ryley Batt, who scored 37 goals. Ryley out-paced, out-maneuvered, and out-scored his opponents. Before the game he skylarked by riding his wheelchair on one wheel. The commentator called him “Houdini” for escaping any attempt to restrain him. He did share the ball with the rest of the team. Australia’s Chris Bond contributed 15 goals towards Australia’s scoreline.

By contrast, the Australian defenders held Canada’s Garett Hickling to just seven goals. At one point two Australian defenders trapped him in a corner, unable to move, which he appeared to find very frustrating.

Spectators included the Australian Chef de Mission, Jason Hellwig, and his deputies, Michael Hartung and Kate McLoughlin. The rugby team’s gold medal brought Australia’s count to 32, and the total medals to 85, putting Australia in fifth place.

The team’s gold medals were presented by HRH The Earl of Wessex. The Canadian team received flowers from Stephen Fry.

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UK Radar station could aid flood warnings

Saturday, June 23, 2007

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A new £1 million weather station is planned for installation in the north-east of England. The Met Office, Environment Agency, and Northumbrian Water all want to install the station at High Moorsley, near Sunderland. The new facility, which will feature a 16.5m (54ft) weather dome, will vastly improve weather forecasting abilities of the north-eastern areas of England. If the proposal is approved, work is planned to start in spring 2008.

The gap in the national weather radar system – a system upon which work began on in 2002, and which now has a total of 14 stations across the country – has been problematic to the flood-prone north-east areas of England, which have relied on weather equipment from Lincolnshire and Lancashire up to now, which can only measure rainfall in 5km grids. The new system will increase the resolution of the grids, with 1km grids across the major urban areas of the River Tyne, River Wear and the River Tees, and 2km grids over the rest of the region.

We estimate that more than 70 communities across the region are at risk of flooding and will directly benefit from the improved data the radar will provide

Jacqui Cotton, a spokeswoman from the Environment Agency, told the BBC that “the proposed North East weather radar will significantly improve our ability to predict when and where rain is likely to fall and will enable us to give more accurate and timely flood warnings.” She continued on to say that “we estimate that more than 70 communities across the region are at risk of flooding and will directly benefit from the improved data the radar will provide.” The radar will be able to provide detailed weather information every 15 minutes to local forecasters and information stations – which will greatly aid the forewarning of flash floods and other weather systems.

Health concerns have been met by the scheme’s partners, who state that the radar is pointed in a straight line, well above people and houses, and spends 99% of its’ time “listening” rather than transmitting. Transmissions made will be at less than one-quarter of the power of a conventional domestic microwave oven.

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Get Paid For Surveys | Make Money Online

Get Paid For Surveys | Make Money Online by It’s so easy to get paid for surveys and you’ll soon find that it will change your life as well. Paid surveys can help you pay off bills faster, take nicer vacations, save for retirement or just about anything that you need money for. Just think how nice it would be to know that every month you can get paid for surveys to the tune of $300 or even $1000. I know that kind of money would help just about anyone (unless you’re Bill Gates of course).Many people want to know if doing surveys for money really works. Well it’s worked very well for me. And there’s a very good reason that thousands of people are joining me everyday in taking paid surveys. Quite simply this is the easiest way for anyone to make money online. Survey companies will even pay for the opinions of teens as young as 13. There’s no need to get a paper route if you can get paid for surveys.All the major U.S. and international corporations need feedback from their customers to develop new products and also for their existing products. And millions of smaller companies will conduct surveys for the same reason. How do you think they get these opinions? In the past they would hire companies to go out and survey people in the stores and malls or even pay people to come onsite so they could conduct focus groups. As you can imagine this was time intensive and expensive.Now that the internet is everywhere they simply go online to conduct surveys. They get a market research company to develop surveys for them and they pay people for their opinions. In a nutshell, that is how you get paid for surveys. Companies want your opinion on their products and services so badly that they are willing to pay you for them. With so many companies out there needing data it makes it quite easy for you and me to make money by taking paid surveys.Our opinions are so valuable that the survey companies actively look for people to register with them. They never have enough people to take their surveys and want more all the time. The more people they have registered the more attractive they will look to companies that want to hire them and the more money they can get for their services. If they make more money then so will we when we take the surveys to get paid.Because there are so many paid survey companies to choose from it’s best if you can register for all of them. That way you’ll get the largest number of surveys every week and you’ll be able to make the most money. If you want to get paid for surveys it’s best to be able to pick and choose the highest paying surveys.Create a separate email account for your surveys and check it often. If you can, several times a day is best. Paid survey companies want to know that you are reliable before sending you their highest paying surveys and that means responding to them in a timely fashion.When you’re just beginning it is also important to get a list of paying survey companies. You can do this yourself, but it is very time consuming. Why not just use a list that someone has already put together for you. There are many sites with this information, but be careful, because many will want you to pay for their list of survey companies or at the least expect you to give them your email address. If you can, try to find a list that is free of any registration or payment requirements. Surveys are free to take and information about them should be free as well.It is very easy these days to get paid for surveys and I expect it will continue that way for a long time. As long as companies need our opinions for feedback about their products and services there will continue to be market research companies willing to pay for those opinions. And that means we can all continue to get paid for surveys for a very long time.The author is a paid survey expert and has been taking paid surveys and instructing others how to get paid for surveys for over a year. To learn how you can get paid to fill out surveys visit his paid survey site which has links to over 300 paid survey companies available for free. Take a paid survey today.Article Source: eArticlesOnline.com

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Rower Tuijn halfway across Pacific in record attempt

Monday, July 9, 2007

Dutch adventurer Ralph Tuijn has reached the halfway point of his attempt to be the first person to row across the Pacific Ocean unaided.

The 16,000 kilometre journey from the coast of Peru to the seaside city of Brisbane, Australia, the widest section of the Pacific, has never been crossed absolutely unaided by a rower, and Tuijn says just nine people have rowed it even with assistance.

Tuijn reached the central point of his crossing, an insignificant point of water in the ocean, 111 days after setting off from Peru in March. He has been making good progress, and has since cut his estimated time of arrival in Brisbane by a month.

The Dutchman, who now expects to reach his destination on October 20, has kept in touch with those tracking his movements through daily internet postings from his laptop computer, including his wife Winnie. His boat, the Zeeman Challenger, is a seven-metre custom plywood vessel.

Tuijn has overcome a variety of obstacles to reach the halfway point. He is suffering from the constant attention of sharks, who often bump his boat and disrupt his attempts at sleep. One particular shark, dubbed ‘Gomulka’ by Tuijn, has been trailing the adventurer’s boat for extended periods.

He has also accidentally burnt himself when he spilled hot water on his foot whilst trying to make coffee, apparently also from a shark ‘bump’. He is also forced to manually pump water for cooking and drinking after his automatic water pump broke down not long into his journey.

“Physically everything feels great and I can’t help feeling that I could do this for 500 days, but mentally it’s still hard to be on your own for such a long time”

His vessel has no motors or sails, but relies on his physical rowing power to move. The boat does have a solar power system to provide energy for his laptop, a telephone and a global positioning system.

Tujin, who is raising money for a children’s home in Mumbai, India, is rowing at an average speed of 58 kilometres each day. His diet consists of freeze-dried foods and fish, which are keeping him physically well-conditioned despite tiring mentally.

Tuijn is a serial adventurer and experienced rower. He has rowed across the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea, as well as cycled across Russia and the icy terrain of Greenland.

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Record number of bicycles sold in Australia in 2006

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Bicycle sales in Australia have recorded record sales of 1,273,781 units for 2006, exceeding car sales by 32 percent. It is the fifth year in a row that the bicycle industry has sold more than one million units, a figure yet to be realised by car manufacturers.

The Cycling Promotion Fund (CPF) spokesman Ian Christie said Australians were increasingly using bicycles as an alternative to cars. Sales rose nine percent in 2006 while the car market stalled. Mr Christie said people were looking to cut their fuel costs and improve their fitness.

Mr Christie said organisations were beginning to supply bicycles as a company vehicle. “There is an emerging trend towards people using bikes as their official company-supplied vehicle in place of the traditional company car,” he said.

“Some of Australia’s biggest corporations now have bicycle fleets, and when you add in government organisations, we now know of at least 50 organisations which operate fleets of bikes.”

“Although the company bicycle is a long way from taking over from the company car, it’s an important trend when you consider that nearly half of all cars sold are to company fleets.”

The CPF claims most commutes to work are less than 5 kilometres (3 miles) making bicycle travel a viable alternative.

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Governor of Illinois arrested on suspicion of corruption

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Democratic governor of Illinois in the United States, Rod Blagojevich, 51, along with his chief of staff John Harris, 46, were arrested Tuesday morning by the FBI on federal corruption charges.

The Chicago Tribune reports that federal agents raided Blagojevich’s home this morning and took him into federal custody. The arrest comes after a three-year investigation into Blagojevich’s “pay-to-play politics.”

Specifically, the Department of Justice alleged that Blagojevich attempted to sell the Senate seat previously held by President-elect Barack Obama. Blagojevich, as governor, has the sole authority to appoint someone to complete Obama’s term. Authorities believe the process to select a new senator was tainted after authorities secretly recorded several of Blagojevich’s conversations. They believe that he was attempting to sell the seat in exchange for financial benefit for himself and his wife.

Documents from the FBI and from U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald identify the people whom Blagojevich was considering as Senate Candidates 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. According to Fitzgerald’s press release, Blagojevich told an advisor that he wanted to “get some (money) up front, maybe.”

In Illinois, a new state ethics law will take effect on January 1, 2009, so Blagojevich was trying to embezzle as much money as he could before that date, said Fitzgerald.

Authorities also believe that Blagojevich was trying to withhold state financial assistance from the owner of the Tribune, the Tribune Company, which recently filed for bankruptcy protection. They allege he was trying to get members of the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune fired by threatening to complicate the sale of Wrigley Field by Tribune Company.

On December 8, Blagojevich responded to the reports that federal authorities had wiretapped his phone conversations, saying that “I should say if anybody wants to tape my conversations, go right ahead, feel free to do it. I can tell you that whatever I say is always lawful and the things I’m interested in are always lawful.”

If convicted, Blagojevich could face up to 30 years in prison and $500,000 in fines.

This is not the first time in Illinois history that a governor has been arrested for corruption charges. In 2006, George Ryan was indicted and is now serving a 6½-year prison term.

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MetLife to acquire Travelers Life and Annuity from Citigroup

Monday, January 31, 2005

Metlife announced on 01/31/05 that they were going to acquire Travelers Life and Annuity from Citigroup. Travelers Life and Annuity is an insurance underwriter. MetLife is a large life insurance and annuities underwriter. MetLife will have to borrow a lot of money to pay for the company, so rating agencies like S&P warn that the AA credit rating of MetLife might be lowered. This would cause the interest rates at which all of MetLife’s debt must be repaid to increase.

Citigroup committed to continue distributing Travelers life insurance and annuities through its Smith Barney stock brokers, Primerica agents, and Citibank branches.

Citigroup was previously known as Travelers Insurance before it bought Citicorp. First the Property and Casualty business of Travelers was spun off, and now the life insurance division has been sold off. This is primarily because insurance underwriters get a lower price to earnings multiple from the stock market because of the cycles and uncertainty associated with the insurance business. Also, having an insurance underwriter and a bank together does not usually create “cross-sell” opportunities, because consumers and businesses almost always buy life insurance and annuities through brokers who have a duty to give them other options. Citigroup will continue to sell insurance through its brokers as before.


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