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Facebook down for “upgrades”; multiple blogs suggest site was hacked

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Facebook down for “upgrades”; multiple blogs suggest site was hacked

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Popular social networking website Facebook went down for unknown upgrades, possibly to circumvent multiple holes that were published in a white paper earlier. From roughly 1:00 to 4:15 pm ET, users reported the site was down.

Blogs have speculated it may be simply a server upgrade, or it may be new features. One web development blogger has even raised the theory that the site was hacked, with the login box showing multiple random email addresses, through “<input>” coding. Another user replied to this posting, saying that they were even able to read the other, random user’s inbox. Both a blogger who works at a computing company’s office in Johannesburg, South Africa and a Norwegian news outlet reported similar troubles. Many blogs received comments from people with similar circumstances, worldwide.

A white paper by Adrienne Felt, posted on July 27, 2007, explained step-by-step how to use an exploit to hijack a user’s account. The white paper was then partially censored by the author, until the vulnerability has been fixed by Facebook. Regardless of whether the change was prompted by this paper, both the XSS hole and problem with forms described by the author were fixed during the upgrade.

The site read “We’re upgrading. We’ll be back soon.” with no further explanation.

This is the first known global outage for the site.

This comes as a rival site, ConnectU, has filed a lawsuit against Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg for allegedly stealing the idea and the code. The hearing is scheduled for tomorrow.

Also on Wednesday, the Black Hat Briefings computer security conference begins. The conference unites people from “government agencies and global corporations with the underground’s most respected hackers.”

McCain and Obama face off in U.S. presidential candidate debate

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McCain and Obama face off in U.S. presidential candidate debate

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The two major party presidential candidates in the US, Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain, faced each other yesterday in the first TV debate. Despite that McCain had asked to postpone the debate, both were present at the University of Mississippi. The debate, which was moderated by PBSJim Lehrer, was planned to be focused on foreign policy, however due to concerns about the US financial crisis, the debate began focused on economy.

McCain repeatedly referred to his experience, drawing on stories from the past. Often, he joked of his age and at one point seemed to mock his opponent. Obama spoke of mistakes and repeatedly laid out detailed plans.

The debate was widely seen as a draw. A CBS poll conducted after the debate on independent voters found that 38% felt it was a draw, 40% felt Obama had won, and 22% thought that McCain had won. Voters and analysts agreed that Obama had won on the economy, but that McCain had done better on foreign policy issues, which were the focus of the debate. However, Obama had a more substantial lead on the economy than McCain did on foreign policy.

The McCain campaign faced some ridicule prior to the debate, after airing an internet ad declaring McCain had won the debate hours before it had started.

Contents

  • 1 Financial & bailout plans
  • 2 Fundamental differences
  • 3 Post-financial crisis plans
  • 4 Lessons of Iraq
  • 5 Troops in Afghanistan
  • 6 Iran
  • 7 Diplomacy
  • 8 Relationship with Russia
  • 9 Alternative energy
  • 10 Likelihood of another 9/11
  • 11 Sources

The candidates were asked where they stood on the country’s financial plans.

Obama put forward four proposals for helping the economy. First, to “make sure that we’ve got oversight over this whole [bailout] process”. Second, to “make sure that taxpayers, when they are putting their money at risk, have the possibility of getting that money back and gains”. Third, to “make sure that none of that money is going to pad CEO bank accounts or to promote golden parachutes”. And lastly, “make sure that we’re helping homeowners, because the root problem here has to do with the foreclosures that are taking place all across the country”.

He then went on to say, “we also have to recognize that this is a final verdict on eight years of failed economic policies promoted by George Bush, supported by Senator McCain, a theory that basically says that we can shred regulations and consumer protections and give more and more to the most, and somehow prosperity will trickle down”.Lehrer then turned to McCain, giving him two minutes as well.

McCain, on the other hand, stressed the urgency of the crisis and the partisanship present in Washington before going on. “This package has transparency in it. It has to have accountability and oversight. It has to have options for loans to failing businesses, rather than the government taking over those loans. We have to — it has to have a package with a number of other essential elements to it,” he told viewers, pausing to briefly mention energy and jobs before Lehrer stopped him.

Lehrer asked the two to come back to his question and urging them to speak to each other, first turning to Senator Obama.

“We haven’t seen the language yet,” Obama began, speaking to Lehrer and not McCain. “And I do think that there’s constructive work being done out there”, he said, before noting he was optimistic a plan would come together. “The question, I think, that we have to ask ourselves is, how did we get into this situation in the first place?”

He continued, stressing his foresight on the issues two years ago, before Lehrer turned to McCain, asking if he planned to vote for the bailout plan.

McCain stammered that he hoped so. Lehrer asked again, and McCain replied, “Sure. But — but let me — let me point out, I also warned about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and warned about corporate greed and excess, and CEO pay, and all that. A lot of us saw this train wreck coming.”

McCain then continued, giving a story about former US President Dwight Eisenhower, who “on the night before the Normandy invasion, went into his room, and he wrote out two letter”. Eisenhower, he said, had taken accountability for his actions.

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“As president of the United States, people are going to be held accountable in my administration. And I promise you that that will happen.”

Obama then agreed with McCain, adding that more accountability was needed but not just when there’s a panic. “There are folks out there who’ve been struggling before this crisis took place,” Obama continued, “and that’s why it’s so important, as we solve this short-term problem, that we look at some of the underlying issues that have led to wages and incomes for ordinary Americans to go down, the — a health care system that is broken, energy policies that are not working, because, you know, 10 days ago, John said that the fundamentals of the economy are sound”.

Obama was asked to say it to McCain. Obama replied, “I do not think that they are”. Lehrer asked him to say it more directly to McCain, and Obama laughed, repeating himself to McCain.

McCain joked about his age, saying, “Are you afraid I couldn’t hear him?”

Obama said that he and McCain disagreed fundamentally and that he wanted accountability “not just when there’s a crisis for folks who have power and influence and can hire lobbyists, but for the nurse, the teacher, the police officer, who, frankly, at the end of each month, they’ve got a little financial crisis going on. They’re having to take out extra debt just to make their mortgage payments”. Tax policies, he said, were a good example.

McCain disagreed. “No, I — look, we’ve got to fix the system. We’ve got fundamental problems in the system. And Main Street is paying a penalty for the excesses and greed in Washington, D.C., and on Wall Street. So there’s no doubt that we have a long way to go. And, obviously, stricter interpretation and consolidation of the various regulatory agencies that weren’t doing their job, that has brought on this crisis”.

Lehrer went on to the next question, asking if there were fundamental differences between the approaches of the two.

McCain began by saying he wanted to lower “completely out of control” spending. He promised as president to “veto every single spending bill” He then attacked Senator Obama’s use of earmarks, citing it as a fundamental difference.

Senator Obama agreed that earmarks were being abused, but not that it was a large problem. “Earmarks account for $18 billion in last year’s budget. Senator McCain is proposing — and this is a fundamental difference between us — $300 billion in tax cuts to some of the wealthiest corporations and individuals in the country, $300 billion. Now, $18 billion is important; $300 billion is really important.” He then attacked McCain’s tax plans, saying, “you would have CEOs of Fortune 500 companies getting an average of $700,000 in reduced taxes, while leaving 100 million Americans out”.

He then stressed his focus on the middle class, saying, “We’ve got to grow the economy from the bottom up. What I’ve called for is a tax cut for 95 percent of working families, 95 percent”.

McCain was called on.

“Now, Senator Obama didn’t mention that, along with his tax cuts, he is also proposing some $800 billion in new spending on new programs,” McCain said, attacking his opponent. He also said that Obama had only suspended pork barrel spending after he started running for president.

“What I do is I close corporate loopholes,” Obama objected, “stop providing tax cuts to corporations that are shipping jobs overseas so that we’re giving tax breaks to companies that are investing here in the United States. I make sure that we have a health care system that allows for everyone to have basic coverage”.

He then turned to McCain, asking him to look at his tax policies, which he said were ignoring the middle class and a continuation of Bush policies.

Lehrer asked McCain to respond directly to Obama’s attack on his tax policies.

“Well — well, let me give you an example of what Senator Obama finds objectionable, the business tax,” McCain began. He then explained the reasoning behind his business tax cuts, saying that companies would want to start in countries where they would pay less taxes. “I want to cut that business tax. I want to cut it so that businesses will remain in — in the United States of America and create jobs”.

Obama explained that his tax cuts would affect 95% of taxpayers, then replied, “Now, John mentioned the fact that business taxes on paper are high in this country, and he’s absolutely right. Here’s the problem: There are so many loopholes that have been written into the tax code, oftentimes with support of Senator McCain, that we actually see our businesses pay effectively one of the lowest tax rates in the world”.

McCain, he said, opposed closing loopholes but just wanted to add more tax breaks on top of that.

This was a clear victory for Barack Obama on John McCain’s home turf. Senator McCain offered nothing but more of the same failed Bush policies, and Barack Obama made a forceful case for change in our economy and our foreign policy.

He went on, attacking McCain’s health credit idea, saying that McCain wanted to tax health credits. “Your employer now has to pay taxes on the health care that you’re getting from your employer. And if you end up losing your health care from your employer, you’ve got to go out on the open market and try to buy it”.

McCain responded with an example of Obama voting for tax breaks of oil companies.

Obama cut in, “John, you want to give oil companies another $4 billion”, he pointed out.

McCain shot back, attacking Obama’s earmark spending and tax policies. “Who’s the person who has believed that the best thing for America is — is to have a tax system that is fundamentally fair?”, he said, referring to himself. “And I’ve fought to simplify it, and I have proposals to simplify it”.

He then accused Obama of voting “to increase taxes on people who make as low as $42,000 a year”. Obama repeated several times that McCain’s accusations were untrue.

McCain then accused him of giving tax cuts to oil companies, which Obama once again said was untrue. “The fact of the matter is, is that I was opposed to those tax breaks, tried to strip them out,”he said. “We’ve got an emergency bill on the Senate floor right now that contains some good stuff, some stuff you want, including drilling off-shore, but you’re opposed to it because it would strip away those tax breaks that have gone to oil companies.”

Lehrer then broke in, stopping the argument. He switched to a new question, asking what priorities and goals for the country the candidates would give up as a result of the financial crisis.

He allowed Obama to answer the question first, who said many things would have to be delayed but not forgotten. He then began to list what he felt the country had to have to continue to compete.

“We have to have energy independence,” he said, “so I’ve put forward a plan to make sure that, in 10 years’ time, we have freed ourselves from dependence on Middle Eastern oil by increasing production at home, but most importantly by starting to invest in alternative energy, solar, wind, biodiesel”.

He continued, saying that the health care system had to be fixed because it was bankrupting families.

“We’ve got to make sure that we’re competing in education,” he continued. “We’ve got to make sure that our children are keeping pace in math and in science.” He also mentioned making sure college was still affordable.

He also stressed making sure the country was still stable structurally, “to make sure that we can compete in this global economy”.

Lehrer then turned to McCain, asking him to present his ideas.

“Look, we, no matter what, we’ve got to cut spending”, McCain began and reminded the audience that he “saved the taxpayers $6.8 billion by fighting a contract that was negotiated between Boeing and DOD that was completely wrong”.

Lehrer broke in, asking if it was correct that neither of them had any major changes to implement after the financial crisis.

Obama replied that many things would have to be delayed and put aside, and that investments had to be made. He then agreed with McCain that cuts had to be made. “We right now give $15 billion every year as subsidies to private insurers under the Medicare system. Doesn’t work any better through the private insurers. They just skim off $15 billion. That was a give away and part of the reason is because lobbyists are able to shape how Medicare work”.

McCain then made a suggestion. “How about a spending freeze on everything but defense, veteran affairs and entitlement programs”. Lehrer repeated “spending freeze?” and McCain went on, “I think we ought to seriously consider with the exceptions the caring of veterans, national defense and several other vital issues”.

Obama disagreed with McCain’s idea, saying it was “using a hatchet”. Some vital programs, he said, were seriously underfunded. “I went to increase early childhood education and the notion that we should freeze that when there may be, for example, this Medicare subsidy doesn’t make sense”.

The two candidates began to argue more directly.

“We have to have,” McCain argued, “wind, tide, solar, natural gas, flex fuel cars and all that but we also have to have offshore drilling and we also have to have nuclear power”.

He accused Obama of opposing storing nuclear fuel.

Lehrer interrupted the two with another question, asking how the financial crisis would affect how they ran the country.

Obama replied first. “There’s no doubt it will affect our budgets. There is no doubt about it”. He went on to stress that it was a critical time and the country’s long term priorities had to be sorted out.

There was one man who was presidential tonight, that man was John McCain. There was another who was political, that was Barack Obama. John McCain won this debate and controlled the dialogue throughout, whether it was the economy, taxes, spending, Iraq or Iran.

McCain replied by criticizing Obama’s health care plans. “I want the families to make decisions between themselves and their doctors. Not the federal government,” he said, then called for lower spending.

He went on to speak about the national debt and stressing the importance of low taxes.

Obama went on the offensive, attacking McCain’s record of voting. “John, it’s been your president who you said you agreed with 90 percent of the time who presided over this increase in spending”, he said, accusing him of voting for an “orgy of spending”.

McCain countered that he had opposed Bush “on spending, on climate change, on torture of prisoner, on – on Guantanamo Bay. On a — on the way that the Iraq War was conducted”. He called himself a maverick, and referred to his running mate as a maverick as well.

Lehrer asked the two what the lessons of Iraq were.

McCain answered first, stressing that the war in Iraq was going well. “I think the lessons of Iraq are very clear,” he answered, “that you cannot have a failed strategy that will then cause you to nearly lose a conflict”.

He went on to praise the efforts in Iraq, saying the strategy was successful and the US was winning. “And we will come home with victory and with honor. And that withdrawal is the result of every counterinsurgency that succeeds”, and continued that Iraq would make a stable ally.

Lehrer asked Obama how he saw the lessons of Iraq, who began by questioning the fundamentals of the war and whether the US should have gone in the first place.

“We took our eye off [bin Laden]. And not to mention that we are still spending $10 billion a month, when they have a $79 billion surplus, at a time when we are in great distress here at home, and we just talked about the fact that our budget is way overstretched and we are borrowing money from overseas to try to finance just some of the basic functions of our government”.

The lesson, he said, was to “never hesitate to use military force”, but to use it wisely.

McCain was asked if he agreed on the lesson, though he did not comment on a lesson learned. Obama, he said, had been wrong about the surge.

The two opponents then began arguing, as Lehrman tried to mediate them.

McCain felt it was remarkable that “Senator Obama is the chairperson of a committee that oversights NATO that’s in Afghanistan. To this day, he has never had a hearing”.

“The issues of Afghanistan,” Obama responded, “the issues of Iraq, critical issues like that, don’t go through my subcommittee because they’re done as a committee as a whole”.

He then began to attack McCain’s optimism. “You said that we were going to be greeted as liberators. You were wrong. You said that there was no history of violence between Shiite and Sunni. And you were wrong”.

McCain responded to the criticism by telling a story of when he spoke to troops who were re-enlisting. “And you know what they said to us? They said, let us win. They said, let us win. We don’t want our kids coming back here. And this strategy, and this general, they are winning. Senator Obama refuses to acknowledge that we are winning in Iraq”.

McCain repeatedly accused Obama of opposing funding to troops.

Obama responded by speaking to Lehrer, to explain why he had voted against funding troops. “Senator McCain opposed funding for troops in legislation that had a timetable, because he didn’t believe in a timetable. I opposed funding a mission that had no timetable, and was open- ended, giving a blank check to George Bush. We had a difference on the timetable”.

“Admiral Mullen suggests that Senator Obama’s plan is dangerous for America,” McCain cut in once Obama had finished.

Obama said it was not the case, that the wording was “a precipitous withdrawal would be dangerous”.

McCain then argued that Iraq, and not Afghanistan, was the central battle ground against terrorism. He also attacked Obama’s surprise that the surge had worked.

Lehrer switched to a new question. “Do you think more troops — more U.S. troops should be sent to Afghanistan, how many, and when?”

Obama mentioned he had been saying more troops in Afghanistan were needed for over a year. He argued that no Al-Qaeda were present in Iraq before the invasion, and the people there had nothing to do with 9/11.

He then went on to list a three part plan beginning with pressuring the Afghani government to work for it’s people and control it’s poppy trade. He also pressed the need to stop giving money to Pakistan.

To be frank, I’m surprised McCain didn’t play the POW card more tonight, consider how frequently he and his campaign have used it earlier in the campaign.

McCain responded by saying Iraq had to be stabilized and that he would not make the mistake of leaving Iraq the way it is.

“If you’re going to aim a gun at somebody,” he said, “you’d better be prepared to pull the trigger”.

Obama responded by arguing that if the Pakistani government would not take care of terrorists in it’s borders, action had to be taken. He then commented on past US policies with Pakistan, saying that the US support of Musharraf had alienated the Pakistani people.

“And as a consequence, we lost legitimacy in Pakistan. We spent $10 billion. And in the meantime, they weren’t going after al Qaeda, and they are more powerful now than at any time since we began the war in Afghanistan. That’s going to change when I’m president of the United States”, he finished.

McCain quickly replied that Pakistan was a failed state at the time. He then went on to talk about his voting record. “I have a record of being involved in these national security issues, which involve the highest responsibility and the toughest decisions that any president can make, and that is to send our young men and women into harm’s way”.

Obama argued that Afghanistan could not be muddled through, and that problems were being caused by not focusing on Al-Qaeda. As he finished, Lehrer attempted to announce a new question, but McCain quickly attacked Obama, saying his plans would have a “calamitous effect” on national security and the region.

Lehrer directed his next question towards McCain, asking about his thoughts on Iran and it’s threat to the US.

McCain’s reading of the threat in Iran was “if Iran acquires nuclear weapons, it is an existential threat to the State of Israel and to other countries in the region”. He stressed the need to avoid another Holocaust, and the need for a league of democracies

Anybody hearing a snicker from McCain while Obama is talking?

to battle Iran. “I am convinced that together, we can, with the French, with the British, with the Germans and other countries, democracies around the world, we can affect Iranian behavior”.

Obama went next, focusing on the Iraq war’s effect on Iran. Iraq, he said, was Iran’s “mortal enemy” and had kept Iran from becoming a threat. “That was cleared away. And what we’ve seen over the last several years is Iran’s influence grow. They have funded Hezbollah, they have funded Hamas, they have gone from zero centrifuges to 4,000 centrifuges to develop a nuclear weapon”.

He then went on to say that refusing to use diplomacy with hostile nations has only made matters worse and isolated the US.

Lehrer turned to McCain, asking him how he felt about diplomacy as a solution.

McCain hurried through his response, attacking Obama on his willingness to meet with hostile leaders without preconditions. People like Ahmadinejad, he said, would have their ideas legitimized if a President met with them.

Obama responded by pointing out that Ahmadinejad was only a minor leader. Meeting leaders without preconditions, he said, “doesn’t mean that you invite them over for tea one day”. He then turned to attacking McCain, who he said “would not meet potentially with the prime minister of Spain, because he — you know, he wasn’t sure whether they were aligned with us. I mean, Spain? Spain is a NATO ally”.

McCain retorted that he was not yet President so it would be out of place. The two then began to argue over the comments of Dr. Kissinger’s stance on meeting foreign leaders.

McCain argued that meeting with and legitimizing ideas was dangerous and naive, and said it was a fundamental difference of opinion.

Obama accused McCain of misrepresentation, stressing that he would not speak without low level talks and preparations.

McCain responded by mocking Obama. “So let me get this right. We sit down with Ahmadinejad, and he says, ‘We’re going to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth,’ and we say, ‘No, you’re not’? Oh, please”.

The two started arguing among each other, as Lehrer attempted to interject, finally succeeding with a new question. He turned to Obama, asking how he saw the relationship with Russia and it’s potential.

Obama began spelling out his opinion, stating that he felt the US approach to Russia had to be evaluated. He then continued that the US has to press for a unified alliance and for Russia to remove itself from other nations, adding that the US had to “explain to the Russians that you cannot be a 21st-century superpower, or power, and act like a 20th-century dictatorship”.

He went on, stressing the importance of diplomacy and affirming relationships, and inviting Russian-influenced countries into NATO. “Now, we also can’t return to a Cold War posture with respect to Russia. It’s important that we recognize there are going to be some areas of common interest. One is nuclear proliferation”.

McCain responded by attacking Obama’s reaction to the Russian-Georgian conflict, criticizing his initial comment that both sides should show restraint, calling it naive. “He doesn’t understand that Russia committed serious aggression against Georgia. And Russia has now become a nation fueled by petro-dollars that is basically a KGB apparatchik-run government”.

Lehrer asked Obama if there were any major differences between the two’s opinion on Russia, who answered that he and McCain had similar opinions on Russia. He then stressed foresight in dealing with Russia, as well as reducing dependence on foreign oil through alternative energy.

“Over 26 years, Senator McCain voted 23 times against alternative energy, like solar, and wind, and biodiesel,” he mentioned.

The two began to argue over alternative energy. As Lehrer began announcing the next question, McCain interjected. “No one from Arizona is against solar. And Senator Obama says he’s for nuclear, but he’s against reprocessing and he’s against storing So,” he continued, as Obama objected, “it’s hard to get there from here. And off-shore drilling is also something that is very important and it is a bridge”.

McCain continued, as Obama interrupted to correct him, saying that he had voted for storing nuclear waste safely.

The two began interrupting each other, each trying to get a word in, before Lehrer stopped them and moved on.

“What do you think the likelihood is that there would be another 9/11-type attack on the continental United States?” asked Lehrer.

McCain said that America was far safer since 9/11, which he claimed a hand in. He went on to stress better intelligence and technology in keeping America safe, but that he felt the US was far safer.

Lehrer then turned to Obama.

Obama disagreed slightly, saying America was safer in some ways, but “we still have a long way to go”. He also felt that the US was not focusing enough on Al-Qaeda and fighting in Iraq was not making the US safer.

McCain accused Senator Obama of not understanding that “if we fail in Iraq, it encourages al Qaeda. They would establish a base in Iraq”.

Lehrer asked if Obama agreed.

Obama argued that the sole focus was currently Iraq, but that “in the meantime, bin Laden is still out there. He is not captured. He is not killed”. He noted that $10 billion was spent in Iraq every month, instead of going to healthcare. He argued that veterans were not getting the benefits they deserved, and that the next president’s strategies had to be broader.

McCain responded by attacking Obama saying he didn’t think Obama had the knowledge or experience to be President.

Obama then said that the job of the next President would be to repair America’s image and economy.

McCain concluded by citing his POW experience. “Jim, when I came home from prison, I saw our veterans being very badly treated, and it made me sad. And I embarked on an effort to resolve the POW-MIA issue, which we did in a bipartisan fashion, and then I worked on normalization of relations between our two countries so that our veterans could come all the way home”.

“And that ends this debate tonight,” finished Jim Lehrer.

Frank Lampard announces retirement from football

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Frank Lampard announces retirement from football

Sunday, February 5, 2017

On Thursday, former English midfielder Frank Lampard announced retirement from football via Instagram, finishing a 21-year professional football career.

Lampard said, “After 21 incredible years, I have decided that now is the right time to finish my career as a professional footballer. […] at 38 I feel now is the time to begin the next chapter in my life.”

The 38-year-old midfielder made his debut in the mid-1990s and played for West Ham United and Swansea City before he joined London-based football club Chelsea F.C. in 2001 for £11million. Spending thirteen seasons with The Blues, Lampard scored 211 goals in all competitions for Chelsea, a club record, in nearly 650 appearances for the club. Lampard won three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two Football League Cups, and one each of UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League.

Lampard spent one season with Manchester City F.C. before moving to Major League Soccer club New York City Football Club. Lampard played 29 matches with the New York club scoring fifteen goals. Lampard has scored goals against 39 different Premier League clubs.

Lampard won 106 international caps for England, scoring 29 goals and featuring in three FIFA World Cups — 2006, 2010 and 2014 — before retiring from the national team in 2014. He made his international debut in 1999 against Belgium.

Lampard said he is to study for coaching qualifications. Lampard wore a blue coloured jersey for most of his career.

Kenya government fires health worker strikers over failure to ‘report back to work’

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Kenya government fires health worker strikers over failure to ‘report back to work’

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Kenyan government has dismissed 25,000 striking health workers, mostly nurses, citing failure to heed government orders to recommence work and concern for the welfare of hospital patients. Speaking on behalf of the government, Alfred Mutua stated the workers were dismissed “illegally striking” and “[defying] the directive … to report back to work”, which he called “unethical”. The government asks that “[a]ll qualified health professionals, who are unemployed and/or retired have been advised to report to their nearest health facility for interviews and deployment”, Mutua stated.

The workers, who had been on strike for four days, were wishing to have improvements made to their wages, working conditions, and allowances. The strikes have caused a significant number of Kenyan hospitals to cease operations. According to Kenya Health Professionals Society spokesperson Alex Orina, the average monthly wage plus allowances for health workers in Kenya is KSh25,000 (£193, US$302 or €230) approximately. With an increasing number of reports of patients neglected in hospitals emerging, two trade unions met with the Kenyan government yesterday and negotitated a return to work, although a significant proportion of demonstrators defied the agreement, The Guardian reported.

Orina told Reuters the dismissals were “cat-and-mouse games, you cannot sack an entire workforce. It is a ploy to get us to rush back to work, but our strike continues until our demands are met”. Frederick Omiah, a member of the same society, believed the government’s actions would “make an already delicate and volatile situation worse”, expressing concern that demonstrations may continue in the capital Nairobi, amongst other locations. Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union chairperson Dr. Victor Ng’ani described government actions as “reckless”.

Mutua said the health workers were “no longer employees of the government” and had been eliminated from the payroll. While Ng’ani told the BBC of difficulties with finding other workers as skilled and experienced, Mutua reportedly stated that this would not be an issue. “We have over 100,000 to 200,000 health professionals looking for work today,” Mutua commented. “There will be a lag of a day or two … but it is better than letting people die on the floor, at the gate, or suffer in pain”.

Liverpool Biennial 2006 art festival starts

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Liverpool Biennial 2006 art festival starts

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The 2006 Liverpool Biennial art festival will start its ten week run on September 16, finishing on the November 26. The exhibition uses public places located across the city.

Installation will be situated at sites across the city including St. George’s Hall and Church of St Luke with specialist centers such as the Bluecoat Arts Centre, FACT centre, Tate Liverpool and the Walker Art Gallery providing exhibition space.

The international ’06 exhibition includes 35 commissioned works, while the 24th John Moores Exhibition of Contemporary Painting is the UK’s longest running open painting competition.

The Independents is an art exhibition that runs alongside the Biennial. Several shorter festivals will run over this period including the Hope Street festival.

Indonesian anti-corruption chief convicted of murder

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Indonesian anti-corruption chief convicted of murder

Friday, February 12, 2010

An Indonesian court has convicted the former head of the country’s anti-corruption agency of murder. The prosecution of Antasari Azhar and three others has been controversial, with some fearing the so-called “Judicial Mafia” played a role.

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) already saw a proven plot to discredit it and frame its senior members. Shortly after Azhar’s arrest in May last year police came to take away Bibit Rianto and Chandra Hamzah, two deputy commissioners, to face trial for corruption. The trial, instead, unveiled a plot to convict the men of offences they had not committed. Protests in the street ensued, and locals gave corrupt officials the joint nickname of the “Judicial Mafia”.

The scandal resulted in the resignations of a chief detective and a deputy attorney general; the KPK had begun probing the attorney general’s office and that of the national police. During Azhar’s time as chair the KPK has exposed bribery at the former and prosecuted an in-law relative of the president during the country’s election preparations, with a jail sentence being the result.

The defendants had claimed political elements orchestrated a conspiracy to see the quartet convicted. The judges disagreed, with judge Herri Swantoro telling the court, “Defendant Antasari Azhar has been legitimately proven guilty of participating in persuading the carrying out of a premeditated murder.” The court’s judgement ran to 179 pages.

The case saw the four accused of plotting the March 2009 murder of tycoon Nasruddin Zulkarnaen, shot dead in his car by a motorbike assassin in Jakarta. Zulkarnaen was Azhar’s golfing partner and the businessman was alleged by the prosecution to have been blackmailing the KPK leader, who is a former prosecutor.

Azhar is alleged to have had an affair with one of Zulkarnaen’s wives, a golf caddie. With Zulkarnaen threatening to inform the press and parliament, Azhar is alleged to have plotted murder with several other officials. Police commissioner Wiliardi Wizar was accused of locating the assassins used; he claimed his senior had ordered him to testify he had been told by Azhar to kill Zulkarnaen.

Media mogul Sigid Haryo Wibisono stood accused of financing the contract killing, and businessman Jerry Hermawan Lo of arranging a meeting with the gunmen. All three were convicted alongside Azhar, who received an eighteen-year prison sentence. Wizar was jailed for twelve years, Wibisono for fifteen and Lo for five. All intend to appeal the verdicts.

One person who feels the court got it wrong is a human rights lawyer who defended Bibit and Chandra. “I think that this is all still a mystery,” said Taufik Basari. “I don’t think the judge had all the necessary facts to warrant a verdict of eighteen years.”

Despite the conviction of his relative, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono retained the presidency last June by a landslide majority. Originally elected in 2004, Yudhoyono has used an anti-corruption stance in his campaigns, heaping praise upon the KPK which Azhar was head of from December 2007 until his arrest.

The four new convicts join five men convicted of the murder in December. Alleged to have comprised the gang behind the shooting, they received sentences varying from seventeen to eighteen years imprisonment.

When To Call For Dog Training In Phoenix, Md

byAlma Abell

If you have a dog, you need to take your dog for dog training. Even if it is a small dog, it will still need training to be well-behaved. There are certain levels of training you might be interested in. Everyone needs to train their dog to respond to simple commands since that is the best way to keep everyone safe. Even if your dog is not aggressive, very excitable dogs can be misinterpreted as aggressive, which can lead to a misunderstanding. If your dog responds to simple commands, it will keep a misunderstanding from occurring. There are also some grooming details that are important. For example, trainers can teach your dog to always go outside and not in the house.

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When to Call

You can typically take your dog to dog training in Phoenix, MD as soon as you would like. The earlier you take your dog, the more likely it is to take effect. Older dogs can, in fact, learn new tricks, but they first have to break their old habits. Such training takes more work than installing good habits in the first place.

You should click here if you need to train your dog. The professionals will be able to do a very effective job every single time.

Choosing Professionals

It’s also important that you choose dog training professionals. Training professionals will be able to teach your dog good habits, break bad habits, and teach you how to deal with your dog. They are well-trained in dealing with dogs, which is a skill just like any other. You choose professionals to work on your house, work on your car, and teach your children in school. You should choose professionals for this type of training as well. That’s the best way to get a good service that fits your needs. It will also save you many headaches in the future.

Elwood Norris receives 2005 Lemelson-MIT Prize for invention

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Elwood Norris receives 2005 Lemelson-MIT Prize for invention
By | Posted in Uncategorized

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

MIT has announced that Elwood “Woody” Norris, inventor of potentially revolutionary technologies of Hypersonic Sound beams and AirScooter flying vehicles, will receive this year’s Lemelson-MIT prize for invention this Friday, April 22. The prize comes with an award of US$500,000, making it the largest single award for invention given in the United States.

Contents

  • 1 Hypersonic Sound beams
  • 2 AirScooter flying vehicles
  • 3 Woody Norris
  • 4 Sources
  • 5 Press Releases
  • 6 External links
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Four British energy suppliers face investigation into claims of misselling

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Four British energy suppliers face investigation into claims of misselling
By | Posted in Uncategorized

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem), the regulator of the electricity and gas markets in Great Britain, has launched an investigation into four of the largest British energy suppliers over suspicions that they not be complying with face-to-face and telephone sales regulations. The four organisations facing scrutiny could be fined up to 10% of their annual turnover if it is found that they are breaking sales regulations. Scottish Power, npower, Scottish and Southern Energy and EDF Energy are all to face questioning by the organisation.

Ofgem has urged customers of the four companies to alert the energy regulator, “if they are concerned about the sales approach any domestic suppliers have taken when selling energy contracts, either face-to-face or by telephone,” according to a statement. “As part of the investigation process Ofgem will examine any evidence of non-compliance and consider whether there are grounds for exercising enforcement powers.”

New regulations on sales tactics by energy suppliers were recently introduced, and, Ofgem has said, energy suppliers must be “proactive in preventing misselling to customers both face to face and over the phone. Also, if suppliers are selling contracts face to face they must provide customers with an estimate before any sales are concluded. In most circumstances customers should also receive a comparison of the supplier’s offer with their current deal.” Only one in five consumers consider energy suppliers to be trustworthy, and 61% of people feel intimidated by doorstep sales people from energy companies. According to the organisation Consumer Focus, “complaints have declined since new rules came into effect this year, but suppliers still seem to be flouting the rules. Some customers are still being given misleading quotes and information, which leave them worse off when they switch provider.”

The newspaper The Guardian has reported that “householders are reporting that sales agents working for the energy suppliers are giving them misleading information and quotes which leave them worse off when they switch supplier.” Consumer Focus has said that if energy companies continue to break the rules, they could be banned from doorstep-selling completely. The report goes on to say that “new figures from helpline Consumer Direct show that while the number of complaints has fallen since last year, about 200 cases of mis-selling are being reported each month.” However, Scottish Power said it insists on “the highest standards possible for all of our sales agents”, and npower told the Financial Times that it was “confident that the processes we have in place mean that we comply with our regulatory obligations”. EDF added that it was “fully compliant with all obligations regarding sales of energy contracts”.

According to the regulator, the obligations are serious and must be followed by energy supplies, or they will face “tougher sanctions than those available under more general consumer protection law.” Ofgem has published a guide advising consumers what they should do should an energy salesperson contact them in person of by telephone. Improper sales tactics are still common in the industry—in 2008 an Ofgem investigation found that 48% of gas customers and 42% of electricity customers were worse off after switching supplier on the doorstep. Npower was fined £1.8 million in 2008 by the organisation, and Ofgem insists that they are “committed to taking action” over improper sales activities by energy companies. “Suppliers have existing obligations to detect and prevent misselling and new licence conditions were brought in following our probe to further increase protection for customers,” said Andrew Wright, a Senior Partner of the regulator. “We expect all suppliers to comply with these tougher obligations but if our investigations find otherwise we will take strong action.”

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What are your experiences with doorstep salespeople? If they persuaded you to change energy providers, were you worse off as a result?
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Head of energy at Consumer Focus, Audrey Gallacher, called the investigation “a welcome step … to address years of customers getting a bad deal on energy prices on their doorstep. While many doorstep sales people will do a good job, the pay and rewards system continues to encourage mis-selling, despite years of regulation and voluntary initiatives. If better advice for customers and enforcement of the tougher rules doesn’t end the flagrant abuse of this form of selling the big question will be whether it should be completely banned.” Christine McGourty, director of Energy UK, which represents the leading gas and electricity companies, said that “the companies involved will collaborate with the Ofgem investigation and are awaiting further details from the regulator. Any sales agent in breach of the code will be struck off the approved energy sales register.” Which? chief executive, Peter Vicary-Smith, has said he considers the situation “shocking”, saying that the investigation “will do nothing to improve consumer trust in energy suppliers. We’re pleased that Ofgem has promised tough measures against any firms guilty of mis-selling. We hope it uses this opportunity to tighten rules around telesales so they are in line with those for face to face sales.”

SNP Westminster Energy spokesperson Mike Weir MP, however, said that the investigation “does nothing to tackle the real problem of fuel prices which leave many Scots facing great difficulty in heating their homes … Rather than tinkering around the edges Ofgem should be looking at how to reduce prices for vulnerable households.” Gareth Kloet, Head of Utilities at Confused.com, one of the UK’s biggest and most popular price comparison services, also welcomed the inquiry. “It is unacceptable for energy companies to mislead customers like this,” he said, adding that Confused.com has previously “urged energy providers to either stop the practice of doorstep selling or make it very clear to households that better deals are available online. There is no reason why door-to-door salesmen can’t show people online deals and even help households switch to them.”

“Our research reveals customers could end up paying £167 more than they need to as door-to-door salesmen are unable to offer the discounts that are applied online. The changes that have been made to date are a welcome addition to safeguard customers; however this review has been much needed for a long time. Hopefully it will mark the end of customers being overcharged and missold,” Kloet continued. “Our message to energy consumers remains the same: they should shop around online to make sure they’re getting the best deal possible and turn these salesmen away.”

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Bat for Lashes plays the Bowery Ballroom: an Interview with Natasha Khan

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Bat for Lashes plays the Bowery Ballroom: an Interview with Natasha Khan
By | Posted in Uncategorized

Friday, September 28, 2007

Bat for Lashes is the doppelgänger band ego of one of the leading millennial lights in British music, Natasha Khan. Caroline Weeks, Abi Fry and Lizzy Carey comprise the aurora borealis that backs this haunting, shimmering zither and glockenspiel peacock, and the only complaint coming from the audience at the Bowery Ballroom last Tuesday was that they could not camp out all night underneath these celestial bodies.

We live in the age of the lazy tendency to categorize the work of one artist against another, and Khan has had endless exultations as the next Björk and Kate Bush; Sixousie Sioux, Stevie Nicks, Sinead O’Connor, the list goes on until it is almost meaningless as comparison does little justice to the sound and vision of the band. “I think Bat For Lashes are beyond a trend or fashion band,” said Jefferson Hack, publisher of Dazed & Confused magazine. “[Khan] has an ancient power…she is in part shamanic.” She describes her aesthetic as “powerful women with a cosmic edge” as seen in Jane Birkin, Nico and Cleopatra. And these women are being heard. “I love the harpsichord and the sexual ghost voices and bowed saws,” said Radiohead‘s Thom Yorke of the track Horse and I. “This song seems to come from the world of Grimm’s fairytales.”

Bat’s debut album, Fur And Gold, was nominated for the 2007 Mercury Prize, and they were seen as the dark horse favorite until it was announced Klaxons had won. Even Ladbrokes, the largest gambling company in the United Kingdom, had put their money on Bat for Lashes. “It was a surprise that Klaxons won,” said Khan, “but I think everyone up for the award is brilliant and would have deserved to win.”

Natasha recently spoke with David Shankbone about art, transvestism and drug use in the music business.


DS: Do you have any favorite books?

NK: [Laughs] I’m not the best about finishing books. What I usually do is I will get into a book for a period of time, and then I will dip into it and get the inspiration and transformation in my mind that I need, and then put it away and come back to it. But I have a select rotation of cool books, like Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés and Little Birds by Anaïs Nin. Recently, Catching the Big Fish by David Lynch.

DS: Lynch just came out with a movie last year called Inland Empire. I interviewed John Vanderslice last night at the Bowery Ballroom and he raved about it!

NK: I haven’t seen it yet!

DS: Do you notice a difference between playing in front of British and American audiences?

NK: The U.S. audiences are much more full of expression and noises and jubilation. They are like, “Welcome to New York, Baby!” “You’re Awesome!” and stuff like that. Whereas in England they tend to be a lot more reserved. Well, the English are, but it is such a diverse culture you will get the Spanish and Italian gay guys at the front who are going crazy. I definitely think in America they are much more open and there is more excitement, which is really cool.

DS: How many instruments do you play and, please, include the glockenspiel in that number.

NK: [Laughs] I think the number is limitless, hopefully. I try my hand at anything I can contribute; I only just picked up the bass, really—

DS: –I have a great photo of you playing the bass.

NK: I don’t think I’m very good…

DS: You look cool with it!

NK: [Laughs] Fine. The glockenspiel…piano, mainly, and also the harp. Guitar, I like playing percussion and drumming. I usually speak with all my drummers so that I write my songs with them in mind, and we’ll have bass sounds, choir sounds, and then you can multi-task with all these orchestral sounds. Through the magic medium of technology I can play all kinds of sounds, double bass and stuff.

DS: Do you design your own clothes?

NK: All four of us girls love vintage shopping and charity shops. We don’t have a stylist who tells us what to wear, it’s all very much our own natural styles coming through. And for me, personally, I like to wear jewelery. On the night of the New York show that top I was wearing was made especially for me as a gift by these New York designers called Pepper + Pistol. And there’s also my boyfriend, who is an amazing musician—

DS: —that’s Will Lemon from Moon and Moon, right? There is such good buzz about them here in New York.

NK: Yes! They have an album coming out in February and it will fucking blow your mind! I think you would love it, it’s an incredible masterpiece. It’s really exciting, I’m hoping we can do a crazy double unfolding caravan show, the Bat for Lashes album and the new Moon and Moon album: that would be really theatrical and amazing! Will prints a lot of my T-shirts because he does amazing tapestries and silkscreen printing on clothes. When we play there’s a velvety kind of tapestry on the keyboard table that he made. So I wear a lot of his things, thrift store stuff, old bits of jewelry and antique pieces.

DS: You are often compared to Björk and Kate Bush; do those constant comparisons tend to bother you as an artist who is trying to define herself on her own terms?

NK: No, I mean, I guess that in the past it bothered me, but now I just feel really confident and sure that as time goes on my musical style and my writing is taking a pace of its own, and I think in time the music will speak for itself and people will see that I’m obviously doing something different. Those women are fantastic, strong, risk-taking artists—

DS: —as are you—

NK: —thank you, and that’s a great tradition to be part of, and when I look at artists like Björk and Kate Bush, I think of them as being like older sisters that have come before; they are kind of like an amazing support network that comes with me.

DS: I’d imagine it’s preferable to be considered the next Björk or Kate Bush instead of the next Britney.

NK: [Laughs] Totally! Exactly! I mean, could you imagine—oh, no I’m not going to try to offend anyone now! [Laughs] Let’s leave it there.

DS: Does music feed your artwork, or does you artwork feed your music more? Or is the relationship completely symbiotic?

NK: I think it’s pretty back-and-forth. I think when I have blocks in either of those area, I tend to emphasize the other. If I’m finding it really difficult to write something I know that I need to go investigate it in a more visual way, and I’ll start to gather images and take photographs and make notes and make collages and start looking to photographers and filmmakers to give me a more grounded sense of the place that I’m writing about, whether it’s in my imagination or in the characters. Whenever I’m writing music it’s a very visual place in my mind. It has a location full of characters and colors and landscapes, so those two things really compliment each other, and they help the other one to blossom and support the other. They are like brother and sister.

DS: When you are composing music, do you see notes and words as colors and images in your mind, and then you put those down on paper?

NK: Yes. When I’m writing songs, especially lately because I think the next album has a fairly strong concept behind it and I’m writing the songs, really imagining them, so I’m very immersed into the concept of the album and the story that is there through the album. It’s the same as when I’m playing live, I will imagine I see a forest of pine trees and sky all around me and the audience, and it really helps me. Or I’ll just imagine midnight blue and emerald green, those kind of Eighties colors, and they help me.

DS: Is it always pine trees that you see?

NK: Yes, pine trees and sky, I guess.

DS: What things in nature inspire you?

NK: I feel drained thematically if I’m in the city too long. I think that when I’m in nature—for example, I went to Big Sur last year on a road trip and just looking up and seeing dark shadows of trees and starry skies really gets me and makes me feel happy. I would sit right by the sea, and any time I have been a bit stuck I will go for a long walk along the ocean and it’s just really good to see vast horizons, I think, and epic, huge, all-encompassing visions of nature really humble you and give you a good sense of perspective and the fact that you are just a small particle of energy that is vibrating along with everything else. That really helps.

DS: Are there man-made things that inspire you?

NK: Things that are more cultural, like open air cinemas, old Peruvian flats and the Chelsea Hotel. Funny old drag queen karaoke bars…

DS: I photographed some of the famous drag queens here in New York. They are just such great creatures to photograph; they will do just about anything for the camera. I photographed a famous drag queen named Miss Understood who is the emcee at a drag queen restaurant here named Lucky Cheng’s. We were out in front of Lucky Cheng’s taking photographs and a bus was coming down First Avenue, and I said, “Go out and stop that bus!” and she did! It’s an amazing shot.

NK: Oh. My. God.

DS: If you go on her Wikipedia article it’s there.

NK: That’s so cool. I’m really getting into that whole psychedelic sixties and seventies Paris Is Burning and Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis. Things like The Cockettes. There seems to be a bit of a revolution coming through that kind of psychedelic drag queen theater.

DS: There are just so few areas left where there is natural edge and art that is not contrived. It’s taking a contrived thing like changing your gender, but in the backdrop of how that is still so socially unacceptable.

NK: Yeah, the theatrics and creativity that go into that really get me. I’m thinking about The Fisher King…do you know that drag queen in The Fisher King? There’s this really bad and amazing drag queen guy in it who is so vulnerable and sensitive. He sings these amazing songs but he has this really terrible drug problem, I think, or maybe it’s a drink problem. It’s so bordering on the line between fabulous and those people you see who are so in love with the idea of beauty and elevation and the glitz and the glamor of love and beauty, but then there’s this really dark, tragic side. It’s presented together in this confusing and bewildering way, and it always just gets to me. I find it really intriguing.

DS: How are you received in the Pakistani community?

NK: [Laughs] I have absolutely no idea! You should probably ask another question, because I have no idea. I don’t have contact with that side of my family anymore.

DS: When you see artists like Pete Doherty or Amy Winehouse out on these suicidal binges of drug use, what do you think as a musician? What do you get from what you see them go through in their personal lives and with their music?

NK: It’s difficult. The drugs thing was never important to me, it was the music and expression and the way he delivered his music, and I think there’s a strange kind of romantic delusion in the media, and the music media especially, where they are obsessed with people who have terrible drug problems. I think that’s always been the way, though, since Billie Holiday. The thing that I’m questioning now is that it seems now the celebrity angle means that the lifestyle takes over from the actual music. In the past people who had musical genius, unfortunately their personal lives came into play, but maybe that added a level of romance, which I think is pretty uncool, but, whatever. I think that as long as the lifestyle doesn’t precede the talent and the music, that’s okay, but it always feels uncomfortable for me when people’s music goes really far and if you took away the hysteria and propaganda of it, would the music still stand up? That’s my question. Just for me, I’m just glad I don’t do heavy drugs and I don’t have that kind of problem, thank God. I feel that’s a responsibility you have, to present that there’s a power in integrity and strength and in the lifestyle that comes from self-love and assuredness and positivity. I think there’s a real big place for that, but it doesn’t really get as much of that “Rock n’ Roll” play or whatever.

DS: Is it difficult to come to the United States to play considering all the wars we start?

NK: As an English person I feel equally as responsible for that kind of shit. I think it is a collective consciousness that allows violence and those kinds of things to continue, and I think that our governments should be ashamed of themselves. But at the same time, it’s a responsibility of all of our countries, no matter where you are in the world to promote a peaceful lifestyle and not to consciously allow these conflicts to continue. At the same time, I find it difficult to judge because I think that the world is full of shades of light and dark, from spectrums of pure light and pure darkness, and that’s the way human nature and nature itself has always been. It’s difficult, but it’s just a process, and it’s the big creature that’s the world; humankind is a big creature that is learning all the time. And we have to go through these processes of learning to see what is right.

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