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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Empire State Games come to White Plains, NY

>>Full story

The Empire State Games is an annual Olympic-style competition for amateur athletes from the state of New York, United States, encompassing several divisions allowing athletes of all ages to compete. In 2007, it is hosted by Westchester County and takes place July 25-29, 2007. In all, some 6,000 athletes are expected to participate.

"I think the Empire State Games is one of the best things that's happened to Westchester County," Buster LaBarbera, 74, of New Rochelle said. "It's good for the economy and it's just a great thing."

Long Island had made a bid to host the games but lost out to Westchester. "Once done, it's done," said Bob Kenney, region director for Long Island, at the opening ceremonies. "We can't look back. We can't hold grudges." Long Island may submit a bid for the games in 2010 according to Kenney.

Saturday, the Criterium cycling events took place in White Plains. Starting at 7:00 a.m. EDT (UTC-4), races for both men and women began at Martine Avenue at Court Street in downtown White Plains.

Wikinews was there to cover the men's open event race. Points were awarded for sprints on certain laps. Joe Zaverdas from Commack, New York, representing the Long Island region, won with 75 points. 58 riders participated.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Wikinews reports from TV-series MuchOnDemand, Toronto

The four stars of Bratz appeared Thursday in Toronto on the television series MuchOnDemand, to promote their new film.

While a great deal of computer animated, direct-to-DVD Bratz films have been made, as has a relatively successful television series, Bratz: The Movie is the first time the characters have appeared in live action.

On Wednesday, actress Claire Danes appeared on MuchOnDemand to promote her new film, Stardust.

Danes appears in the fantasy epic Stardust opposite Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert DeNiro, and Sienna Miller. The film is based on Neil Gaiman's novel of the same name. Danes plays a striking girl named Yvaine, who is a fallen star. Pfeiffer, DeNiro, and Charlie Cox are all pursuing her.

Best known as Angela Chase in the 1994 television series My So-Called Life and Juliet in Baz Luhrmann's 1996 film William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet. She began stepping back into the spotlight a few years ago, with lead roles in The Hours, Stage Beauty, Shopgirl, and The Family Stone.

MuchOnDemand is a long-running program MuchMusic, Canada's primary music channel. Wikinews has sent professional photographer Robin Wong to the show. All images from Thursday can be viewed in a Wikimedia Commons' gallery devoted to Bratz.

Friday, July 27, 2007

UN aid convoys face increasing attacks in Darfur

UN aid convoys face increasing attacks in Darfur

The United Nations (UN) World Food Programme (WFP) raised concerns about a dramatic escalation in attacks on food aid convoys by armed bandits in the Darfur region of Sudan. WFP says the attacks constrain its ability to feed the more than two million people in the area receiving aid.

Negotiations over a UN Security Council resolution authorising a joint UN-African Union security force for the region continue but full deployment could take upto a year.

"In the last two weeks, nine food convoys have been attacked by gunmen across Darfur," said Kenro Oshidari, WFP Sudan Representative. "WFP staff and contractors are being stopped at gunpoint, dragged out of their vehicles and robbed with alarming frequency," he said.

"These abhorrent attacks, which target the very people who are trying to help the most vulnerable in Darfur, must be brought under control," he added.

A WFP official told Wikinews that the attacks and robberies have occurred in all regions of Darfur, and that the blame can't be ascribed to a particular group. "Frequently the bandits are wearing uniforms but often in one group of bandits there may be more than one uniform. Thus, we are not pointing fingers at any one group." said Emilia Casella, WFP Spokesperson for Sudan. "We are calling on all parties to respect the neutrality of humanitarian convoys and their drivers, who are delivering food to civilians who are victims of the conflict."

According to WFP, in 2007 so far, 18 WFP convoys have been attacked - "shot at, looted, drivers robbed and/or injured". Four vehicles were stopped and the drivers and passengers robbed. Six vehicles were stolen, where the gunmen drove away with the WFP staff members still inside, though they were later released. "There were no major physical injuries, but naturally such experiences are very traumatic," said Casella. "These incidents have occurred in all three of the Darfurs, in areas controlled by various groups or the government."

In the week of July 15-21, there were five incidents in South Darfur, during which a total of seven trucks were looted of approximately 10.5 tonnes of food assistance.

The Darfur operation is the WFP's largest humanitarian mission, with about 790 staff working to feed more than two million people every month. are hired to .

The WFP indicated that it has been difficult to hire and retain the commercial trucking companies used to move food and supplies throughout the region due to the risks involved in the service. WFP Public Affairs Officer in Washington D.C. Jennifer Parmelee told Wikinews that "hiring reliable transport in other insecure environments, [such as] Afghanistan and Somalia, is extremely challenging."

Air service is employed for remote locations and where delivery by road has become too dangerous.

Parmelee told Wikinews that the "increasing insecurity will almost certainly further constrain [WFP's] ability to operate in Darfur - it already has." WFP Spokesperson for Sudan, Emilia Casella, indicated that "humanitarian access is likely to be increasingly difficult due to insecurity." However, the situation has not prevented all aid delivery. "Despite insecurity and access problems, WFP food assistance reached about 2.6 million people in Darfur last month," said Casella.

Possible assistance from proposed AU/UN hybrid force

A UN resolution on the deployment of a hybrid African Union (AU) and UN force of 26,000 troops is working its way through the UN. Britain and France presented revisions to the draft, which dropped a threat of "further measures" against Sudan for obstructing peace efforts, though Sudan's ambassador, Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem, has objected to the revisions.

A deadline of December 31 exists to transfer authority in Sudan's Darfur region from the AU to the proposed AU-UN force. Full deployment of all 26,000 troops would take up to one year.

The draft resolution would allow the use of force to protect the mission's personnel and humanitarian workers and would "protect civilians under threat of physical violence".

Jennifer Parmelee of the WFP suggests that the deployment of the hybrid force under such a mandate would be a positive development in the aid agency's ability to carry out their humanitarian assistance. "Sure an expanded AU/UN peacekeeping force would help." said Parmelee. "As it is, AU is stretched very very thin, unable to accompany most of our convoys."

According to WFP, there are approximately 12,000 humanitarian workers in Darfur, which is a drop in numbers even though the need for aid workers has increased.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Press conference to be held Thursday on new 'Star Trek 11' movie

Press conference to be held Thursday on new 'Star Trek 11' movie

IMAGE: Copyright Paramount Pictures.

Wikinews has learned that
George Takei, who played Sulu on the American television show Star Trek, has announced on the radio talk show Coast to Coast AM With George Noory on Monday night that a "press conference" will be held on Thursday July 26 regarding the new Star Trek 11. The movie is planned to be released in December 2008.

"I understand that there will be a press conference on Thursday, regarding the new Star Trek movie, and major casting announcements will be made then," said Takei.

According to Brad Altman of, the conference is scheduled to take place at the San Diego Comic Convention on July 26 from 1:00 p.m. (pacific time) until 3:30 p.m..

The director of the new movie, JJ Abrams is expected to announce a "few surprises," says a statement posted on the Comic-Con 2007 website.

The conference is apparently to put to rest rumors that started to circulate online that Matt Damon was going to star in the new movie as Captain James T. Kirk. Damon later said in an interview with that he was "too old" to play the role and that it was nothing but an "internet rumor" and that he was not approached by anyone to be in the film.

It is rumored that Leonard Nimoy will be cast as Spock, or that Zachary Quinto will play the role.

It is also rumored that the movie will be a prequel to the TV show. According to IMDb the movie is going to be "set before 'The Original Series' [when] Kirk and Spock are newly graduated Cadets fresh from Starfleet Academy and are sent on their first space mission."

Monday, July 23, 2007

Sprint Nextel says customers not dropped because of "frequent calling" to service centers

This is a continuation of Sprint Nextel customer service rep. harasses client; Sprint cancels his account.

Much to my surprise and the surprise of Brian McNeil, Sprint Nextel replied to our request on information and or a statement regarding the Brady incident and the disconnection of over 1,000 other Sprint customer accounts. Here is what they had to say (in Italics).

I appreciate you contacting
Bryan Digiorgio in regards to your story and allowing us a chance to respond. Bryan forwarded your email to me and requested that I respond back to you.

Specific to your first question about terminating service contracts due to numerous calls made to our Customer Care, Sprint does not disconnect customers simply because they call our Care centers frequently.

However, after analyzing calls in our Care centers and identifying a very small number of customers, who, based on their calling behaviors, had ongoing issues that we had not been able to resolve to their satisfaction over a period of at least six months, we decided it would be to everyone's mutual benefit to release those customers from their service contracts, with no penalties. These customers were calling Care 40 to 50 times more often than our typical customers. In some cases, these customers were calling Care hundreds of times each month over a six-month period. Often, the customers continued to call regarding the same issues even after the issues appeared to have been resolved.

Our Customer Care specialists are happy to serve our customers and we encourage customers who have issues or questions to absolutely contact us when they need to. We have worked hard and will continue to work hard to satisfy customer issues and questions to the best of our ability. However, given the six month period of frequent calling, this was a situation that was clearly not satisfactory for these individuals, our larger customer base, as well as Sprint.

In terms of Mr. Brady’s specific situation, we can’t comment, given customer privacy considerations. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly.

Cindy Parks

Fox News security hole exposes 1.5 million users' personal information

Fox News security hole exposes 1.5 million users' personal information

A security hole on the Fox News web server Sunday exposed sensitive content to the public, including login information that allowed hackers to access names, phone numbers, and email addresses of at least 1.5 million people. has learned that an FTP server belonging to publishing company Ziff-Davis could be accessed with a username and password found on the Fox News site, with customer details among the internal data publicly available.

The FTP site, used for collaboration between different global aspects of Ziff-Davis business, contains data ranging from expense sheets to resumes to opt-out lists used by customers who wish to avoid receiving unsolicited emails. Many of the compromised files make reference to Acxiom, a data management company that in 2003 experienced a similar theft of personal information. It is not believed that the files exposed by the Fox News oversight contain customer Social Security numbers or bank accounts, however, as was the case in the 2003 breach. However, telephone and address details appear included in the data.

Hackers were quick to leave their mark on the compromised Ziff-Davis server, uploading pornography and claiming to have come from popular Internet comedy site Ebaumsworld.

The Ziff-Davis information is believed to have been on the Fox News server as a part of collaboration between the two media companies for technology news coverage.

Security expert David Hutter says the Fox News mistake is an example of "sloppiness", though the hole had been patched by noon Monday. Neither Fox News nor Ziff-Davis have commented on the breach.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sprint Nextel customer service rep. harasses client; Sprint cancels his account

Sprint Nextel customer service rep. harasses client; Sprint cancels his account

Virginia – Joshua Brady a former Sprint Nextel customer, has had his cellular phone account shut off, but not because he wasn't paying the phone bill, or even because he was late on payments, but because a customer service representative who assisted him, began to call him outside of her job, and make death threats to him in September of 2006. She was never fired for her actions.

Brady has agreed to be interviewed by Wikinews to tell his story. All information and claims have been logged with Brady's attorney and federal authorities.

The representative, who for safety reasons is only being identified as Jessica working at the call center in Ontario, Canada that Brady's call was directed to, began to call Brady outside of her job at the Sprint-Nextel call center, after Brady called the center around 6:00 p.m. (eastern time) on a Saturday and attempted to receive help on a billing question and to find a way to stop prank calls that he had been receiving lately. Brady requested a "sock code" which is a code placed into the phone that would allow for the number pranking him, to be unblocked. Unfortunately, Jessica did not know what that was, but tried to find it unsuccessfully and according to Brady the only thing she could find was "the ANI feature call centers have."

Brady then described to her the billing issue he was having. He was being charged "for text messages I was not making" even though he had unlimited text messaging with his billing plan. Jessica then called for a supervisor to locate the code, which was taking quite sometime. The two of them then started to discuss what two people would normally discuss if just chatting; sports, the weather, movies and music and if Virginia was a nice place to go on vacation. The supervisor then came by Jessica's station with no luck on finding a code.

Later that night, around 10:30 p.m., Brady received a call. He answered it and much to his surprise, it was Jessica. He answered the phone with the usual "hello" and the voice on the other end answered with "hello Josh." Brady was "surprised" that she had not said "hello Mr. Brady."

"I then asked who it was, and she said Jessica. She told me about her day, and hoped that I did not mind her calling." Then [she started to describe] how much she hates working in a call center but that 'it pays the bills' and asked if she could 'come visit me sometime,'" added Brady who also said that he "immediately started to record" the call. Brady also stated that she was not aware she was being recorded and that further conversations were recorded without her knowing.

The call lasted about 15 minutes, but Brady said she "spoke so fast and moved along through things" that he "didn't have a chance to talk if I wanted to. It [the call] ended with me interrupting her and telling her I had to go to dinner with a friend."

Brady immediately called customer care back and reported Jessica's actions to a supervisor (Jason), and the Floor Manager (Also named Jessica) at the Coos Bay call center, which is where his call happened to be directed. The advice he received was to "play along" and continue to report her actions until they could locate someone "better equipped" to handle the situation.

Jessica then began to call "about every other day or so" which turned out to be almost 30 calls, according to Brady who reported each call she made to Sprint Nextel.

Sprint Nextel then told Jessica to cease and desist all contact with Brady, but that didn't stop Jessica from contacting him. She somehow found out the screen-name of his AOL Instant Messenger account, and left messages threatening to kill him. Brady logged the messages and faxed them to Sprint, who about a week later sent Brady a letter, saying that his accounts have been terminated.

"The purpose of this letter is to inform our that our office has received a complaint regarding your recent questionable interactions with our customer care group. Recent interactions with our company have prompted us to formally contact you. Sprint Nextel terms and conditions state that "termination of services. consistent with this agreement...", said the letter from Sprint Nextel.

Brady states that Jessica is still employed with Sprint Nextel despite the fact that all intstant messages left by Jessica, were forwarded to Sprint Nextel.

Further investigation by Wikinews has found that Sprint Nextel hasn't just terminated Brady's account for similar reasons. As recent as July 10, 2007, as many as 1,000 accounts were terminated by Sprint Nextel because customers were complaining too much and asking too many questions about billing.

"While we have worked to resolve your issues and questions to the best of our ability, the number of inquiries you have made to us during this time had led us to determine that we are unable to meet your current wireless needs," said one letter to a sprint customer as recent as June 29, 2007. The letter states that the service will be terminated just one day after the letter was written despite saying they "understand switching to a new carrier causes an inconvenience."

Two weeks ago, Sprint addressed the media about the mass-cancellations. "These accounts have been researched very carefully," Sprint spokeswoman Roni Singleton said. "We feel strongly that the decisions we made, we stand by them. These decisions weren't made lightly."

"If the average person is calling less than once per month and these people are calling 40 or 50 times more, that takes away from customer service," Singleton said. "Our priority is to improve the customer experience."

Wikinews sent e-mails to Sprint Nextel on July 20 regarding the Brady incident; to date no response has been received.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Vietnamese police blamed for deaths of over 100 political protesters

Vietnamese police blamed for deaths of over 100 political protesters

An eyewitness report coming out of The Socialist Republic of Vietnam states that Police in Ho Chi Minh City have detained about 200 political protesters and are being blamed for the deaths of over 100. Farmers were protesting the governments seizures of land and "free expression."

The protesters were peacefully demonstrating outside a government office on Wednesday, June 27 in order for the Vietnamese Government to return property it has seized and occupied since late 1975, when the South Vietnamese government was capitulated. Vietnamese living in the United States are holding memorial services on Sunday, July 22 in cemeteries and memorials focusing on the Vietnam War.

"The crackdown on this demonstration shows Hanoi continues to curtail people’s rights. If Vietnam really has joined the community of nations, it should tolerate dissent, not crush it," said deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, Sophie Richardson.

Thus far, the Vietnamese government has denied all allegations, stating that they did not detain any of the protesters, that no one was harmed, and the protesters returned to their homes peacefully and of their own will. However several Vietnamese in the country have been unable to contact family members who were part of the demonstration.

A Wikinewsie personally witnessed the police roundup of the demonstrators while on the way to a shop near the airport, when police began using nets to capture and drag the protesters, then throwing them in the back of a Vietnamese military vehicle.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

FOX News commits copyright infringement

That's right. On June 28, Fox News reported that Nancy Benoit's death was published on Wikipedia's website 13 hours before the police discovered that she and her son had been murdered. On its website, fox advertised the report as an "exclusive". The report did not, however, originate with Fox News.

Wikinews broke the story at 9:06 UTC (4:06 EST) including all the core facts of the Fox News report. Fox News not only published the story as an "exclusive" after Wikinews broke it, but lifted passages almost verbatim from the Wikinews story without correct attribution

See the publish time and date

The following passages can be found in the Fox report:
According to a report published after made inquiries, the edit was reversed just under one hour later with the comment: "Need a reliable source. Saying that his wife died is a pretty big statement, you need to back it up with something."


Further investigation, according to, shows that one hour after the first edit reversion, another anonymous edit by using, a wireless Internet service provider, was made adding about the aforementioned personal issues: "which according to several pro wrestling websites is attributed to the passing of Benoit's wife, Nancy." That edit was reverted less than 20 minutes later, with the following comment: "Saying 'several pro wrestling websites' is still not reliable information." The second edit was made by a computer in Australia from a wireless network, according to

FOX Copyvio1

These passages are copied almost verbatim from the Wikinews story, which said:
An anonymous edit from IP address using the Internet service provider Optimum Online was made at 04:01 UTC on Chris Benoit's Wikipedia article. On a paragraph about an earlier fight: "However, Chris Benoit was replaced ... due to personal issues,...", the anonymous editor added " stemming from the death of his wife Nancy." The edit was reversed just under one hour later with the comment: "Need a reliable source. Saying that his wife died is a pretty big statement, you need to back it up with something." Then just one hour later after the first edit reversion, another anonymous edit by using, a wireless Internet service provider, was made adding about the aforementioned personal issues: "which according to several pro wrestling websites is attributed to the passing of Benoit's wife, Nancy." That edit was reverted just under 20 minutes later, with the comment: "Saying 'several pro wrestling websites' is still not reliable information." (...) The second edit was made by a computer in Australia from a wireless network.

While Fox News attributed the passages to "" and "", Wikinews is in fact a separate website dedicated to news reporting by "citizen journalists". Like Wikipedia, Wikinews is operated by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation.

FOX News was called several times by as many as six different Wikinews contributers and administrators also called, but FOX News has yet to respond to phone messages and e-mails, and to this day, still claim the story as an "exclusive" and still has not attributed Wikinews as being the source of their information.

I also was one of the user who called, but I was just given the run around even though I talked to a live voice, a woman, for at least 30 seconds. I had called just two minutes prior and left a message with their "comment desk." When the woman answered, she just transferred my call right back to the comments desk.

I posted this here, because the story we wrote on Wikinews about this will not be published due to issues it has with the NPOV policy on our site.

I want everyone to know how FOX News operates and how they steal the material from hard working and in almost every case, non-professional journalists. They stole the material and called it their own. And now I hope this posting will show you, the reader, just what a major corporation does just because they have money. They believe the law does not apply to them.

Their slogan should now read "We steal our reports, and you decide."

So here you go. Here is the real truth.