Thai government reportedly planning Internet censorship

Thursday, January 26, 2006

According to a report in the Bangkok Post, the Thai government’s Public Relations Department is considering blocking the website of Manager Online as a possible instigator of “social chaos”.

The report claims that a document was submitted to the Communications Authority of Thailand urging a block be issued against the site as the current calls for participation in anti-government rallies by outspoken government critic Sondhi Limthongkul may be a threat to social order.

Other reports claim that CAT Telecom cut off a live satellite broadcast by Sondi on the ASTV satellite network on Tuesday evening during a discussion related to a planned anti-government rally on February 4.

Dell joins Microsoft-Nortel VoIP Team

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Dell Inc. announced on Tuesday that it will partner up with the Microsoft-Nortel Innovative communications alliance (ICA) team to sell Unified Communications and VoIP products.

The announcement on Tuesday the 16th of October 2007 includes Dell selling VoIP, data and wireless networking products from Nortel and the Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 and other unified communications products.

The partnership with both manufacturers should allow Dell to provide a pre-integrated solution.

In March 2007, competitors IBM and Cisco announced they would join in the competition for developing unified communications applications and the development of open technologies around the unified communications and collaboration (UC2) client platform an application programming interfaces (APIs) offered by IBM as a subset of Lotus Sametime.

“We want to make it simple for our customers to deploy unified communications so their end users can get access to all their messages in one place – whether its e-mail, phone or mobile device. This will pave the way for more business-ready productivity tools,” said vice president of solutions, Dell Product Group, Rick Becker.

  • Customers have four options:
    • Core Office Communication Server 2007 – provides instant messaging and on-premise Microsoft Live Meeting.
    • Office Communication Server: Telephony – enables call routing tracking and management, VoIP gateway and public branch exchange (PBX) integration.
    • Audio and Video Conferencing – allows point-to-point conference, video conference and VoIP audio conference.
    • Exchange Unified Messaging – provides voicemail, e-mail and fax in Microsoft Outlook, and anywhere access of Microsoft Outlook Inbox and Calendar.

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Broken stormwater drain led to Guatemala sinkhole

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

A rupture in the underground stormwater drain system opened a huge sinkhole on February 23, killing three people and bringing down twelve houses in Guatemala City.

Teenagers Irma and David Soyos and their father, 53-year old Domingo Soyos were killed when their house collapsed into the sinkhole. Nearly a thousand people were evacuated from the San Antonio neighborhood after the collapse.

Wikinews interviewed Eric Haddox, a civil engineer who has visited the site of the sinkhole and spoken to the engineers working on fixing the drain. Mr. Haddox, who specialises in the building of earthworks, roads, water supply and sewage systems, and is working as a missionary in Guatemala, visited the site following the collapse to help in the recovery effort.

Mr. Haddox told us that the size of the hole is much smaller than the 330 feet depth originally reported and that the erosion causing the collapse is believed to have happened over a long time, and not just during the recent rains as initially suspected.

There are also concerns that a four-story building less than a metre from the edge of the hole may collapse as the earth under the building continues to be eroded.

Before the collapse, a junction box linked two collector pipes to a 3.5m main pipe leading to a nearby canyon in a system believed to be 20 to 50 years old. The surrounding earth had been filled in artificially to level the ground, but the fill was not well compacted before being built upon. Such leveling of the ground is widespread in Guatemala city.

It is thought that, at some point in the last 20 years, either one of the collector pipes ruptured or was detached from the junction box, possibly because of seismic activity. Water gushing out of the break following rainstorms gradually eroded the loosely compacted soil, creating an expanding cavern around the junction box. On February 23, the roof of this cavern collapsed, creating the sinkhole, 20m wide at the top and tapering out towards the bottom, which is about 60m (204 feet) deep, not 330 feet as originally reported.

“Things like this don’t happen often and there are many interesting engineering lessons to be learned with them”, Mr. Haddox said.

The sinkhole has continued to expand even after the collapse, since the collector pipes continue to carry water, which cascades 15m down the sinkhole to the main pipe, further eroding the sides of the sinkhole. The hole was about 25m wide at the top and 40m wide at the bottom a week ago.

A bypass pipe is being laid to divert the water away from the junction to arrest further erosion. The sinkhole will then have to be drained before repair work can begin.

Authorities are also concerned that similar breakages and undermining may be happening at other locations, Mr. Haddox said. Muddy water has been seen coming out of the main collector pipes, but it is not certain whether this is due to ruptures elsewhere or simply mud from the surface that has been washed into the drainage system.

Massachusetts study finds links between bullying and family violence

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Both bullies and their victims are linked with an increased incidence of violence in the home, according to a report on Massachusetts middle and high school students released on Thursday.

In a survey of 5,807 students in 138 schools covering incidents in the past year, about 25 percent of middle school students and 16 percent of high school students reported being bullied at school.

Between 13 to 15 percent of victims of bullying said they had seen violence in their families or been physically injured by a family member during the same time frame.

Students who were identified as being both bullied and victimized by a bully (called “bully-victims” in the study) were the most likely to report they had been physically injured by a family member, compared to those who said they were neither a victim nor a bully. They also reported a higher frequency of suicidal ideation or attempted suicide than victims or bullies who were not bully-victims.

“Sometimes, people who we have thought of as perpetrators are actually very vulnerable themselves,” said John Auerbach, Commissioner of Massachusetts Department of Public Health whose agency collected survey data on 5,807 middle and high school students for the study.

A comprehensive approach that encompasses school officials, students and their families is needed to prevent bullying among middle school and high school students.

The results, analyzed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, also confirmed prior findings that bulling is associated with an increased incidence of suicidal ideation and attempted suicide, poor grades and drug abuse. The CDC said the report is the first detailed, state-level analysis of the risk factors for school bullying.

Last year a 15-year-old Massachusetts student Phoebe Prince of South Hadley committed suicide, focusing the state on the issue of bullying. In May 2010 Massachusetts passed legislation outlawing bullying in school and online, outlining procedures for the investigation and reporting of bullying, and establishing school programs to prevent retaliation. This study was completed a year later.

The finding that there is a link between bullying and family violence shows the importance of involving families in programs and strategies addressing bullying.

“A comprehensive approach that encompasses school officials, students and their families is needed to prevent bullying among middle school and high school students,” said CDC researchers.

Race to save Chilean miners trapped underground from spiralling into depression continues

Thursday, September 2, 2010

It has emerged that the 33 Chilean miners trapped underground after the mine they were working in collapsed could be brought to the surface in a shorter time than was initially feared. While officials publicly announced that the men would not be brought to the surface until Christmas, sources inside technical meetings have revealed that they could in fact be on the surface by early November. The news comes as families were allowed to speak by radio-telephone to their trapped loved ones on Sunday. Over the weekend, video images filmed by the miners emerged showing the miners playing dominoes at a table and singing the Chilean national anthem. The miners also used the camera to send video messages to their families on the surface, saying that they regularly broke into tears, but were feeling better having received food and water.

The grainy nightvision images, filmed on a high definition camcorder that was sent down a small shaft to the mine, show the men in good spirits, chanting “long live Chile, and long live the miners.” They are unshaven and stripped to the waist because of the heat underground, and are seen wearing white clinical trousers that have been designed to keep them dry. Giving a guided tour of the area they are occupying, Mario Sepúlveda, one of the miners, explains they have a “little cup to brush our teeth”, and a place where they pray each day. “We have everything organized,” he tells the camera. Gesturing to the table in the center of the room, he says that “we meet here every day. We plan, we have assemblies here every day so that all the decisions we make are based on the thoughts of all 33.” Another unidentified miner asks to rescuers, “get us out of here soon, please.” A thermometer is shown in the video, reading 29.5C (85F).

As the film continues, it becomes evident that the miners have stuck a poster of a topless woman on the wall. The miners appear shy, and one man puts his hand to his face, presumably dazzled by the light mounted on the cameraman’s helmet. One miner sent a message to his family. “Be calm”, he says. “We’re going to get out of here. And we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your efforts.” Another said that the miners are “sure that there are people here in Chile that are big people, that are powerful people, that are intelligent people, and they have the technology and they will all work together to get us out of here.” Speaking to the camera, one says: “we have had the great fortune that trapped in this mine there are good, professional people. We have electricians, we have mechanics, we have machine operators and we will let you know that while you are working to rescue us on the surface, we are down here ready to help you too.” It has been reported that Mario Gómez, 63, has become the group’s “spiritual leader”, having worked in the mines for over fifty years. He has requested that materials to build a shrine be sent down to the cavern.

Upon seeing the video in a private screening, family members, who are living in a small village of tents at the entrance to the San José copper-gold mine—which they have named Camp Hope—were elated. “He’s skinny, bearded and it was painful to see him with his head hanging down, but I am so happy to see him alive”, said Ruth Contreras, the mother of Carlos Bravo, who is trapped in the mine. The video, of which only a small portion has been released to the public, shows the miners, many of them wearing helmets, cracking jokes and thanking the rescuers for their continued efforts. The supplies are being sent to the men through a small shaft only twelve centimeters wide, and a laboratory has been set up with the purpose of designing collapsible cots and miniature sandwiches, which can be sent down such a narrow space.

CNN reported on Friday that “officials are splitting the men into two shifts so one group sleeps while the other works or has leisure time .. On average, each man has lost 22 pounds (10 kilograms) since they became trapped three weeks ago, and dehydration remains a threat. But a survey of the men indicates that at least nine miners are still too overweight to fit through the proposed rescue shaft. Initially, the miners survived by draining water from a water-cooled piece of equipment. To stay hydrated in the 90-degree mine, each miner must drink eight or nine pints of water per day.”

But while there are jubilant celebrations on the surface that the miners are alive, officials are now nervous that the miners could become depressed, trapped in a dark room the size of a small apartment. Chilean health minister Jaime Mañalich said that, on the video, he saw the telltale signs of depression. “They are more isolated, they don’t want to be on the screen, they are not eating well”, he said. “I would say depression is the correct word.” He said that doctors who had watched the video had observed the men suffering from “severe dermatological problems.” Dr. Rodrigo Figueroa, head of the trauma, stress and disaster unit at the Catholic University in Santiago, Chile, explained that “following the euphoria of being discovered, the normal psychological reaction would be for the men to collapse in a combination of fatigue and stress … People who are trained for emergencies – like these miners – tend to minimize their own needs or to ignore them. When it is time to ask for help, they don’t.” NASA has advised emergency workers that entertaining the miners would be a good idea. They are to be sent a television system complete with taped football matches. Another dilemma facing Mañalich is whether the miners should be permitted to smoke underground. While nicotine gum has been delivered to the miners, sending down cigarettes is a plan that has not been ruled out.

With the news that drilling of the main rescue tunnel was expected to begin on Monday, officials have informed the media that they hope to have the miners out of the mine by Christmas—but sources with access to technical meetings have suggested that the miners could actually be rescued by the first week of November. A news report described the rescue plan—”the main focus is a machine that bores straight down to 688m and creates a chimney-type duct that could be used to haul the miners out one by one in a rescue basket. A second drilling operation will attempt to intercept a mining tunnel at a depth of roughly 350m. The miners would then have to make their way through several miles of dark, muddy tunnels and meet the rescue drill at roughly the halfway point of their current depth of 688m.” Iván Viveros Aranas, a Chilean policeman working at Camp Hope, told reporters that Chile “has shown a unity regardless of religion or social class. You see people arriving here just to volunteer, they have no relation at all to these families.”

But over the weekend, The New York Times reported that the “miners who have astonished the world with their discipline a half-mile underground will have to aid their own escape — clearing 3,000 to 4,000 tons of rock that will fall as the rescue hole is drilled, the engineer in charge of drilling said Sunday … The work will require about a half-dozen men working in shifts 24 hours a day.” Andrés Sougarret, a senior engineer involved in operating the drill said that “the miners are going to have to take out all that material as it falls.”

The families of those trapped were allowed to speak to them by radio-telephone on Sunday—a possibility that brought reassurance both the miners and those on the surface. The Intendant of the Atacama Region, Ximena Matas, said that there had been “moments of great emotion.” She continued to say that the families “listened with great interest and they both felt and realized that the men are well. This has been a very important moment, which no doubt strengthens their [the miners’] morale.” The phone line is thought to be quite temperamental, but it is hoped that soon, those in the mine and those in Camp Hope will be able to talk every day. “To hear his voice was a balm to my heart … He is aware that the rescue is not going to happen today, that it will take some time. He asked us to stay calm as everything is going to be OK … He sounded relaxed and since it was so short I didn’t manage to ask anything. Twenty seconds was nothing”, said said Jessica Cortés, who spoke to her husband Víctor Zamora, who was not even a miner, but a vehicle mechanic. “He went in that day because a vehicle had broken down inside the mine … At first they told us he had been crushed [to death].”

Esteban Rojas sent up a letter from inside the mine, proposing to his long-time partner Jessica Yáñez, 43. While they have officially been married for 25 years, their wedding was a civil service—but Rojas has now promised to have a church ceremony which is customary in Chile. “Please keep praying that we get out of this alive. And when I do get out, we will buy a dress and get married,” the letter read. Yáñez told a newspaper that she thought he was never going to ask her. “We have talked about it before, but he never asked me … He knows that however long it takes, I’ll wait for him, because with him I’ve been through good and bad.”

Portland man arrested for murder, intimidation in MAX train hate speech incident

Monday, May 29, 2017

Saturday morning, 35-year-old Portland, Oregon man Jeremy Christian was arrested and taken to the Multnomah County Detention Center on charges including murder, attempted murder and intimidation after verbally harassing two young women on a train and then attacking three men with a knife.

At least two of the victims attempted to intervene with the suspect and calm him down. The suspect attacked the men, stabbing three, before leaving the train.

An official statement from the Portland Police Bureau said Christian “was on the MAX train yelling various remarks that would be best characterized as hate speech toward a variety of ethnicities and religions. At least two of the victims attempted to intervene with the suspect and calm him down. The suspect attacked the men, stabbing three, before leaving the train.” According to witnesses, Christian approached 16-year-old Destinee Mangum and a Muslim friend of hers who was wearing a Muslim headdress. Of the three men who were attacked, one died on the train, another was pronounced dead later at a hospital, and a third is still alive.

“He told us to go back to Saudi Arabia and he told us we shouldn’t be here, to get out of his country,” Mangum told KPTV on Saturday. “He was just telling us that we basically weren’t anything and that we should kill ourselves.” Mangum and her friend then changed seats to avoid Christian. “This white male from the back of us was like he’s talking to you guys? You guys can’t disrespect these young ladies like that. Then they just all started arguing.” She said Christian began attacking people just as Mangum and her friend got off the train. “[I]t was just blood everywhere and we just started running for our lives.”

He told us to go back to Saudi Arabia and he told us we shouldn’t be here, to get out of his country.

“[T]hey lost their lives because of me and my friend, and the way we look[…] I just want to say thank you to them and their family, and that I appreciate them,” said Mangum. “Without them, we probably would be dead right now.”

The two men who died were Ricky John Best, age 53, and Taliesin Myddrin Namkai-Meche, 23. The third knife victim, Micah David-Cole Fletcher, 21, was still hospitalized as of today. Best, who served 23 years in the U.S. Army, left behind four children. Namkai-Meche graduated from Reed College with a degree in economics and was working as an intern. Fletcher, who has disclosed publicly he is on the autism spectrum, was profiled by Venture in 2015 for his participation in a Portland poetry slam. At that time, Fletcher disclosed he had been institutionalized for “erratic anger” during middle school.

Christian has come to the attention of police before. He was convicted of robbery and kidnapping in 2002. On April 29, he showed up to a right-wing free speech march armed with a baseball bat and threatened counter-protesters. He was wearing a U.S. flag like a cape, shouting racial epithets and making the Nazi salute. The police took away his bat. He attended a number of alt-right rallies and, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Christian has promoted white supremacist views on the Internet.

The attack took place the day before the beginning of the Muslim holy season, Ramadan. The Council on American-Islamic Relations has asked U.S. President Donald Trump to condemn the killings.

Thai police to wear ‘Hello Kitty’ armbands as punishment

Monday, August 6, 2007

Thai police officers are being punished by being forced to wear large, bright pink Hello Kitty armbands.

The armband, which features Hello Kitty sitting on top of two hearts, will be worn by police officers who commit minor offences. These include littering, lateness and parking in a prohibited area. The officers will also be forced to stay with the deputy chief all day in division office and will be forbidden to disclose their offences. However, police officers caught breaking the law will still be subject to the same penalties and fines as ordinary members of the public.

Police Colonel Pongpat Chayapan said, “Simple warnings no longer work. This new twist is expected to make them feel guilt and shame and prevent them from repeating the offense, no matter how minor. (Hello) Kitty is a cute icon for young girls. It’s not something macho police officers want covering their biceps. This is to help build discipline. We should not let small offences go unnoticed.”

Hello Kitty was created by the Japanese Sanrio Company in 1974. The character has been admired by both children and adults. It features on stationery, T-shirts, lunch boxes, Fender guitars and jewelry. Famous people known to have been spotted with Hello Kitty products include Britney Spears, Paris Hilton and Mariah Carey.

Ireland’s Occupy Dame Street, Occupy Waterford camps cleared

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Occupy protests in two Irish cities have been cleared in the last two days. Dublin’s Occupy Dame Street was cleared by police while the local council cleared the abandoned Occupy Waterford site.

The early hours of Thursday saw the Dublin site raided and cleared by Gardai (police). Gardai cited health and safety concerns over the camp, with St Patrick’s Day festivities planned. Irish tourism minister Leo Varadkar previously called it “disappointing” the campers would not move while the celebrations were ongoing. “I understand they feel very strongly about their politics but I’m sure they don’t want to damage the festival,” Varadkar said.

“[Our] priority is to ensure that all of St Patrick’s Day events and celebrations pass off smoothly and that all participants and the large crowds of spectators at the parade can access and egress the parade route without a risk or threat to their health and safety,” said a Garda statement. They claimed to have asked for “assistance and co-operation, however this was not forthcoming,” and said it took hours to clear the site. The clearance began at 3:30 am local time.

A single arrest was made but the individual was released without charge. Around 100 officers cleared the site, which almost filled the plaza before the Central Bank. Cleaners later cleared all signs of the camp. It had been in place since October, but pallets and solid structures replaced the usual tents of Occupy protests earlier this year in response to local weather. Fifteen people who had been staying overnight were removed.

“We are not stopping any time soon, it’s all hands on deck now, we are going to carry on”, vowed protestor Saoirse Bennet, who was on-scene when police arrived.

Waterford City Council yesterday dismantled the empty camp in their city while Gardai looked on. The quayside protest was abandoned after internal disputes; only two youths and a homeless person were found in the 5:30 am raid, but at one stage the protest had 40 residents. Gardai took the youths “home to their parents,” said a spokesman. “The people we found there had nothing to do with Occupy Waterford.” Needles and drugs were found, but nobody was arrested.

Occupy Galway may be the next to go: After months of tolerance, Galway City Council have claimed “serious health and safety concerns” justify legal eviction proceedings if the camp does not pack up voluntarily. John Walsh of Occupy Galway said the camp was lawful and would remain.

HIV-positive man receives 35 years for spitting on Dallas police officer

Sunday, May 18, 2008

An HIV-positive man was sentenced to 35 years in prison Wednesday, one day after being convicted of harassment of a public servant for spitting into the eye and open mouth of a Dallas, Texas police officer in May 2006. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that no one has ever contracted HIV from saliva, and a gay-rights and AIDS advocacy group called the sentence excessive.

A Dallas County jury concluded that Willie Campbell’s act of spitting on policeman Dan Waller in 2006 constituted the use of his saliva as a deadly weapon. The incident occurred while Campbell, 42, was resisting arrest while being taken into custody for public intoxication.

“He turns and spits. He hits me in the eye and mouth. Then he told me he has AIDS. I immediately began looking for something to flush my eyes with,” said Waller to The Dallas Morning News.

Officer Waller responded after a bystander reported seeing an unconscious male lying outside a building. Dallas County prosecutors stated that Campbell attempted to fight paramedics and kicked the police officer who arrested him for public intoxication.

It’s been 25 years since the virus was identified, but there are still lots of fears.

Prosecutors said that Campbell yelled that he was innocent during the trial, and claimed a police officer was lying. Campbell’s lawyer Russell Heinrichs said that because he had a history of convictions including similarly attacking two other police officers, biting inmates, and other offenses, he was indicted under a habitual offender statute. The statute increased his minimum sentence to 25 years in prison. Because the jury ruled that Campbell’s saliva was used as a deadly weapon, he will not be eligible for parole until completing at least half his sentence.

If you look at the facts of this case, it was clear that the defendant intended to cause serious bodily injury.

The organization Lambda Legal (Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund), which advocates for individuals living with HIV, says that saliva should not be considered a deadly weapon. Bebe Anderson, the HIV projects director at Lambda Legal, spoke with The Dallas Morning News about the sentence. “It’s been 25 years since the virus was identified, but there are still lots of fears,” said Anderson.

The Dallas County prosecutor who handled the trial, Jenni Morse, said that the deadly weapon finding was justified. “No matter how minuscule, there is some risk. That means there is the possibility of causing serious bodily injury or death,” said Morse. Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins stated: “If you look at the facts of this case, it was clear that the defendant intended to cause serious bodily injury.”

Contact with saliva, tears, or sweat has never been shown to result in transmission of HIV.

A page at the CDC’s website, HIV and Its Transmission, states: “HIV has been found in saliva and tears in very low quantities from some AIDS patients.” The subsection “Saliva, Tears, and Sweat” concludes that: “Contact with saliva, tears, or sweat has never been shown to result in transmission of HIV.” On Friday the Dallas County Health Department released a statement explaining that HIV is most commonly spread through sexual contact, sharing needles, or transfusion from an infected blood product.