<div class=Italy confirms swapping Taliban for Mastrogiacomo
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Italy confirms swapping Taliban for Mastrogiacomo

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Italian journalist Daniele Mastrogiacomo who was held hostage for 15 days, was traded for five Taliban prisoners, as confirmed by Italian and Afgani authorities.

This likely represents the first time during the Iraq War or War in Afghanistan that prisoners were openly exchanged for a hostage. An Afghani government source said the swap “was an exceptional measure taken because we value our relations and friendship with Italy.”

Maybe the enemy will realize the great benefit they gained from this deal, and tomorrow even the reporters in Kabul won’t be safe. This is not good. The government can’t let the enemy use this strategy.

The move received sharp criticism from allies of Italy. In Washington, a senior State Department official said the United States was pleased the journalist had been released unharmed, but was troubled by possible ramifications of the swap. A spokesperson at the British Foreign Office said the deal sent “the wrong signal to prospective hostage-takers”.

Maxime Verhagen, Foreign Minister of the Netherlands spoke against the swap, “When we create situations where you can buy the freedom of Taliban fighters when you catch a journalist, in the short term there will be no journalists anymore.”

The international backlash is the latest headache for Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, who has fought hard to keep troops in Afghanistan despite resistance from pacifists within his centre-left coalition.

Prodi briefly resigned last month after a defeat in the Senate over his foreign policy, including Afghanistan, and needs the Senate next week to approve a refinancing of the mission.

An opinion poll published by Mastrogiacomo’s newspaper, La Repubblica, showed that 51 percent of Italians surveyed supported the exchange, while 41 percent opposed it.

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<div class=PETA protests Burberry in White Plains, NY
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PETA protests Burberry in White Plains, NY

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Today, at 12:00 p.m. EDT (UTC-4) the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) staged a “naked” protest in White Plains, New York. The target of the protest was British fashion house, Burberry, and their fur practices.

Two “naked” female PETA members, wearing nothing but bikini bottoms and body paint held billboards with the slogan, “When plaid goes bad.” The body paint was done in the trademarked Burberry Check plaid design.

Two other PETA members were there handing out leaflets and showing a video presentation. The painted protesters were spattered with far less fake blood than other documented PETA protests in this campaign.

PETA is protesting Burberry for the company’s use of fur in its products and how it is obtained. The group has staged similar protests around the world in its ongoing “BloodyBurberry”-campaign.

The protest took place at the intersection of Westchester Avenue and Bloomingdale Road in front of the The Westchester, an upscale shopping mall owned by Simon Property Group. Burberry has a retail store in the mall.

This corner is far from the mall’s entrances and sees little pedestrian traffic. However, it does see heavy traffic by motorists, before whom the protestors were in plain sight. While Wikinews was on the scene, police and news media were the only other pedestrians.

The police presence was significant, numbering at least two vehicles and two mounted police officers. But since there was no crowd to control, they just hung back. Media was also there in numbers. At least two television crews could be observed.

As far as Wikinews can tell, Burberry has yet to make any public comment about any of the “BloodyBurberry” protests.

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<div class=Chinese government to safeguard old Beijing
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Chinese government to safeguard old Beijing

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Beijing’s city legislature has approved a bill, one year in the making, to safeguard the historical and cultural heritage of old Beijing. The new 41-article set of regulations will come into effect May 1, requiring the city to protect listed heritage sites and unlisted sites deemed of historical or cultural value. It also guarantees protection for the area within the city’s Second Ring Road.

Director of the Beijing Administrative Bureau of Cultural Heritage, Mei Ninghua, said “the most encouraging content of the regulations is that Beijing will pay more attention to protecting the old city’s landscape in its entirety, rather than just focussing on scattered heritage sites.” This means the old city layout, colours of buildings, and the names of houses and lanes will have legal protection.

“We took measures to protect the city’s siheyuan courtyard houses by tagging protection plates on more than 650 of them in 2003, preventing them from being demolished or damaged during the city’s massive housing reconstruction projects,” said Mei.

“Now the new regulations give legal buttress to the protection of siheyuan courtyard homes, as well as other unmovable ancient treasures, that have yet to be listed but are at risk of being demolished during urban renovation.”

Modern Beijing, capital of China for 850 years, was built by Mongul Emporer Kublai Khan in 1267 AD. In the vicinity of the current city once was Ji (?), the capital of the State of Yan (?), a power of the Warring States Period – but it has been lost in the mists of time.

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<div class=Multifaith council commends Malaysian politician’s comments on conversion to Islam
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Multifaith council commends Malaysian politician’s comments on conversion to Islam

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism issued a statement Friday praising comments made Wednesday by Malaysian politician Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan on conversion to Islam. Malaysian Consultative Council president Datuk A. Vaithilingam said that Ong’s views are shared by Malaysians from all religious faiths in the country.

“Conversion to Islam should not be abused as a means to evade one’s legal obligations to one’s family. A person’s conversion to another religion should not cause pain and suffering for other members of the family,” said Vaithilingam. He asked state and federal government authorities to take necessary steps to fix loopholes in the law, so that Malaysians could freely practice religion in the country.

Conversion to Islam should not be abused as a means to evade one’s legal obligations to one’s family.

Ong is the current Minister of Housing and Local Government in the Malaysian cabinet, and also serves as the secretary-general of the {{w|Malaysian Chinese Association]] (MCA) and Perak MCA chairman. In his Wednesday statement, he said that individuals who convert to Islam through the marriage process should be permitted to renounce the religion if they leave the marriage. Ong also stated that the religion of a minor child with one Muslim parent should be determined by both parents, or remain the same until the child turns 18.

Ong said that issues involving divorce, custody of children and inheritance in matters of constitutional rights of non-Muslims had increased dramatically in the last three years. Ong emphasized the importance of civil law as related to non-Muslims in the country, as opposed to that of Syariah (Sharia), Islamic religious law.

We urge the Government to be transparent in this process.

“Non-Muslims are not to be subjected to any form of Syariah laws and for any disputes or overlapping areas involving the jurisdiction of civil and Syariah courts, civil laws must prevail. […] We urge the Government to be transparent in this process,” said Ong.

Ong’s comments were made as part of an 11-page motion of thanks on the royal address. His motion was seconded by Bintulu Minister of Parliament Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing. Ong also spoke about the corruption, education, crime and security and the economy in his two-hour speech.

Of the 27 million people in Malaysia, 60 percent are Muslim Malaysian Malays, 25 percent are Chinese and mainly Buddhists or Christians, and 7.8 percent are ethnic Indians and mainly Hindus.

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<div class=European Parliament rejects computer-implemented inventions directive
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European Parliament rejects computer-implemented inventions directive

 Correction — August 23, 2010 The vote counts in this article are incorrect. 648 members rejected the proposal, 14 voted for and 18 abstained. Wikinews apologises for the error. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2005

File:European-parliament-strasbourg.jpg

The European Parliament has rejected the directive on the patentability of computer-implemented inventions (software patent directive) sustained by lobbies of large software publicists such as the corporations Microsoft, Siemens, Nokia and Alcatel, grouped under the title of the European Information & Communications Technology Industry Association (EICTA, [1]). The directive involved the granting of software patents.

648 MEPs out of 680 rejected the text, 18 voted for and 14 abstained.

A rejection vote became the expected outcome when the European People’s Party, initially in favour of the directive, decided to reject it.

The European Greens, Socialist Group and European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party also voted for rejection of the directive for heterogeneous reason. Michel Rocard, author of a number of amendments to the original directive, said that the majority of the modifications were unlikely to be supported by the Commission and Council, with whom the Parliament would have had to enter a Conciliation procedure if it had voted for maintaining the directive in moditifed form. “Better have no text at all than a bad one”, he added.

Before the vote, Rocard pointed at the irritation of the Parliament towards the Commission: “There is collective anger throughout the Parliament because of the way the directive was handled by the Commission and the Council”.

During the debate on Tuesday, Commissioner Joaquín Almunia told MEPs: “Should you decide to reject the common position, the Commission will not submit a new proposal.”.

The rejection was welcomed by small and medium software companies, as well as by Free Software supporters. The Directive had been subject to an intense campaigning, within the Parliament, in the news media and on the Internet. The supporters of the Council position appear to have spent several ten millions, hiring prestigious PR agencies with at least 30-40 lobbyists who roamed the halls of the Parliament every day for 3 months, and many full-page advertisements in EU newspapers such as European Voice, EU Reporter etc. The opponents of software patentability (that is supporters of the position taken by the European Parliament in its 1st reading of 24 September 2003), coordinated under the roof of the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII), also had several lobbyists stationed in Brussels, conducted several conferences and demonstrations and published some newspaper advertisements, with a total budget of nearly 100,000 eur apart from countless unpaid working hours of a dedicated supporter base, consisting mainly of programmers and software entrepreneurs.

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<div class=U.S. warns of al Qaeda threat to stock trading and banking websites
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U.S. warns of al Qaeda threat to stock trading and banking websites

Friday, December 1, 2006

The U.S. government warned private financial services that al Qaeda is planning a cyber attack on the U.S. stock and bank accounts, officials said on Thursday.

Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke says: “There is no information to corroborate this aspirational threat. As a routine matter and out of an abundance of caution, US-CERT issued the situational awareness report to industry stakeholders.”

The officials said that the attacks are aimed at destroying the databases of U.S. banking and stock market web sites. The Homeland Security group claims that the threat was for all of December.

A U.S. official said that the threat was posted on an website and called for the attack to avenge the imprisonment of Muslims in the Guantanamo detention camp.

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<div class=Armstrong announces retirement from professional cycling
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Armstrong announces retirement from professional cycling

Monday, April 18, 2005

At a press conference Monday, Lance Armstrong announced his intention to retire from professional cycling after going for his 7th Tour de France title in July 2005.

“Ultimately, athletes have to retire,” said the 33 year-old American. “The body doesn’t just keep going and going.”

Speculation on the retirement of the six-time Tour de France winner had been growing in recent months. The Texan had hinted at wanting to spend more time with his children and his cancer charity, the Lance Armstrong Foundation. There was talk he may marry his well-known girlfriend, rock-star singer Sheryl Crow.

Armstrong battled with testicular cancer in 1996 before coming back to win the 1999 edition of the legendary French race. He went on to win the next five Tours de France and is now widely regarded as one of the greatest riders in the history of the sport.

Asked about his chances for Tour success, he expressed hope tempered with praise for his opponents. “Can I win this year? I’m not sure, but I’ll try… This will be a different year for the Tour with Jan Ullrich looking better and a host of young riders coming up,” he said.

Should Armstrong follow through with his plans, he will begin his final race in the United States tomorrow at the first stage of the Tour de Georgia. He has successfully used the springtime race in the past as a tune-up to the Tour de France in the summer. The contract with his new team sponsor, the Discovery Channel, obligates him to compete in one more Tour de France.

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<div class=Malaysian government warns citizens about Uncyclopedia
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Malaysian government warns citizens about Uncyclopedia

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

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Satire site Uncyclopedia, a parody of online encyclopedia Wikipedia, has been labeled by the Malaysian government as dangerous. The Internal Security Department of Malaysia issued the warning today, saying that the site has “messages and information insulting Malaysia”.

The warning notes the creation date of the website as being 5 January 2005, and hosted by Wikia, Inc., both of which are correct. However, it claims Wikia owns Wikipedia; Wikipedia is a charitable non-profit website owned by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation, while Wikia is an independent, for-profit company.

The report evidently mentions that Uncyclopedia covers Malaysian “history, culture, the political leaders, the government, the national song and the name / history of the national flag,” none of which is “correct”. They accuse the website of helping to reinforce a bad international image of their country.

There are no reports of the site being blocked from access within the country, only this statement, which urges Malaysians not to circulate the content.

Uncyclopedia’s article on Malaysia begins:

Essentially the penis of Asia which is located to the north of their cousins who live on an even smaller island Singapore, Malaysia (also known as Bolehland) is a young nation of diverse cultures and races such as F1 Formula-1 and Nascar. The timezone of Malaysia is unique because it follows the system of +1/+2 PMT (Predetermined Meeting Time) which is 1 or 2 hours later than PMT. Most foreigners have difficulty adjusting to this new timezone as they tend to show up 1 or 2 hours earlier than the local counterparts. The nation is moving forward with a vision towards becoming a developed nation by the year 2020, 3030, 4040 or whatever catchy number.

…Another common state that Malaysians have is denial (no lah, where got?), which incidentally, is a river in Egypt.

The site has fired back with a parody article posted at the site under their UnNews section, titled Uncyclopedia Internal Security Department warns on Malaysia. The article suggests that the “Internal Security Department of the Uncyclomedia Foundation,” which is a facetious and fictitious parent organization of Uncyclopedia, identifies Malaysia “as a dangerous country… It warned its people not to use the country today.”

There are forty-seven individual language editions of Uncyclopedia, including Tolololpedia, which is written in Bahasa Melayu, the Malay language. This is in addition to fictional “language” editions which include Oscar Wilde, Newspeak, N00b, White Supremacist, and Re: PharmaccgRy.

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<div class=US unemployment rate reaches 9.8%
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US unemployment rate reaches 9.8%

Friday, October 2, 2009

Companies in the United States are shedding more jobs, pushing the country’s unemployment rate to a 26-year high of 9.8%.

The US Labor Department said on Friday that employers cut 263,000 jobs in September, with companies in the service industries — including banks, restaurants and retailers — hit especially hard. This is the 21st consecutive month of job losses in the country.

The United States has now lost 7.2 million jobs since the recession officially began in December 2007. The new data has sparked fears that unemployment could threaten an economic recovery. Top US officials have warned that any recovery would be slow and uneven, and some have predicted the unemployment rate will top 10% before the situation improves.

“Continued household deleveraging and rising unemployment may weigh more on consumption than forecast, and accelerating corporate and commercial property defaults could slow the improvement in financial conditions,” read a report by the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook, predicting that unemployment will average 10.1% by next year and not go back down to five percent until 2014.

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Economy.com, said that “it’s a very fragile and tentative recovery. Policy makers need to do more.”

“The number came in weaker than expected. We saw a lot of artificial involvement by the government to prop up the markets, and now that that is starting to end, the private sector isn’t yet showing signs of life,” said Kevin Caron, a market strategist for Stifel, Nicolaus & Co.

Also on Thursday, the US Commerce Department said factory orders fell for the first time in five months, dropping eight-tenths of a percent in August. Orders for durable goods — items intended to last several years (including everything from appliances to airliners) — fell 2.6%, the largest drop since January of this year.

The US government has been spending billions of dollars — part of a $787 billion stimulus package — to help spark economic growth. There have been some signs the economy is improving.

The Commerce Department said on Thursday that spending on home construction jumped in August for its biggest increase in 16 years. A real estate trade group, the National Association of Realtors, said pending sales of previously owned homes rose more than 12 percent in August, compared to August 2008.

A separate Commerce Department report said that consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of US economic activity, rose at its fastest pace in nearly eight years, jumping 1.3 percent in August.

Other reports have provided cause for concern. A banking industry trade group said Thursday the number of US consumers making late payments, or failing to make payments, on loans and credit cards is on the rise. A survey by a business group, the Institute for Supply Management, Thursday showed US manufacturing grew in September, but at a slower pace than in August when manufacturing increased for the first time in a year and a half.

Stock markets reacted negatively to the reports. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 41 points in early trading, reaching a level of 9467. This follows a drop of 203 points on Thursday, its largest loss in a single day since July. The London FTSE index fell 55 points, or 1.1%, to reach 4993 points by 15.00 local time.

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<div class=United States 2003 National Adult Literacy Survey released
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United States 2003 National Adult Literacy Survey released

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Preliminary results from the National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL), released 15 December 2005 by the US National Center for Education Statistics, indicate gains and losses in literacy among minority adults between 1992 and 2003.

The nationally representative study among US adults age 16 and older found the over-all average prose and document literacy remained relatively unchanged, but quantitative literacy improved 8 points (on a scale of 500.) Results among minorities were mixed, with White and Asian/Pacific Islander minorities scoring significantly higher than Hispanic or Black ethnicities; Hispanic subjects in particular had sharp decreases in prose and document literacy (-9% and -8%, respectively) and quantitative illiteracy remained unchanged with 50% of subjects scoring at less than basic literacy levels.

The National Assessment of Adult Literacy is the most comprehensive measure of adult literacy in the USA. The 2003 NAAL, with 19 000 participants, was conducted by the Educational Testing Service, a non-governmental organization which charges for its services.

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