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Friday, August 17, 2007

Richard Stallman, founder of GNU Project confirmed safe after earthquake

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has learned that Richard Stallman, the founder of the GNU Project, is confirmed to be safe in Peru after a massive 8.0 earthquake struck the country on August 15. It was earlier reported that he may have been missing.

According to e-mails and forum posts obtained by Wikinews, Stallman was traveling from Lima to Chimbote with a man named Mario Ramos on August 15, when the quake struck and was expected to arrive in Chimbote on Monday August 20. He later arrived in Trujillo, Peru where he 'checked-in.'

"Richard Stallman is now in Trujillo, this I confirm it and tomorrow he will be [at the] conference," said Edward Vega Gavidia in an e-mail obtained by Wikinews.

The possibility of Stallman missing was first announced at approximately 6:43 p.m. (eastern time) when a user by the name of RichiH posted a 'wallop' to users on IRC stating hi all. As you will surely have heard, there was a major earthquake in Peru. It seems Richard 'RMS' Stallmann [sic] was traveling from Lima to Chimbote with Mario Ramos on August 15th and no one has heard from him since."

Wikinews has contacted the GNU Project and Stallman by e-mail, but still has not received a response. Stallman has posted a message emacs-devel mailing list since the earthquake, but still has not responded to the current claims.

Freeview: A month long story finally completed

Published today was an exclusive, and special report conducted by Gabriel Pollard on New Zealand's latest digital TV service, Freeview.

The story idea was first thought up when a press release was issued by Jonathan Coleman (one of those interviewed) last month stating that Steve Maharey (also interviewed) should release Freeview subscriber numbers.

This request was denied and well, one thing led to another and a full fledged report was published.

Reports: Richard Stallman, founder of GNU Project missing in Peru

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has learned that Richard Stallman, the founder of the GNU Project, might be missing in Peru after a massive 8.0 earthquake struck the country on August 15.

According to e-mails and forum posts obtained by Wikinews, Stallman was traveling from Lima to Chimbote with a man named Mario Ramos on August 15, when the quake struck and was expected to arrive in Chimbote on Monday August 20, but he has not been heard from since the disaster.

Wikinews has contacted the GNU Project by e-mail, but has not yet received a response.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Wikinews interviews World Wide Web co-inventor Robert Cailliau

Photo: CERN
The name Robert Cailliau may not ring a bell, but his invention is the reason you are reading this: Dr. Cailliau together with his colleague Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, making the internet accessible so it could grow from an academic tool to a mass communication medium.

Last January Dr. Cailliau retired from CERN, the European particle physics lab where the WWW emerged. Wikinews offered the engineer a virtual beer from his native country Belgium, and conducted an e-mail interview with him (which started about three weeks ago) about the history and the future of the web and his life and work.

History of the WWW

Mr. Cailliau talks about the challenges he faced in the early 1990s: "A lot of incomprehension, later also some jealousy. And at the start it was difficult to convince the managers that it would grow into a useful tool."

"Looking back and from the many conversations with web and internet pioneers, I think not much has changed fundamentally," Cailliau says. Nothing new under the sun: scalable vectors, style sheets and many other things that have made a breakthrough during the last year, already existed back in the early WWW days.

But not everything went as Cailliau envisioned it: "I predicted that search engines would not cope in the long term. Maybe the existence of Google is only an indication that there is still only little available on the web."

Mr. Cailliau is a man who has a strong vision, a provocateur at times: "We advanced far too fast with far too many developers who ran away in far too many different directions without much thinking. ... Especially the geeks in the U.S. often behaved like cowboys: shoot first, think later."

Web 2.0 and future directives

Robert Cailliau has edited his own Wikipedia article, and contributes from time to time (for example on Commons). "I use the Wikipedia often. I also contribute here and there. A very great work, looked at with a lot of jealousy. In almost all comments about the Wikipedia I perceive in the background some jealousy and intolerance," he says.

Cailliau strives for more international regulations on online behaviour. He criticizes the fact that websites increasingly take things into their own hands, amid the legal vacuum governments leave us with when it comes to new technologies. "We see more and more cases in which commercial companies take the law in their own hands. And that makes me worried about what the commercial sector will do in the vacuum that the governments just let be."

The WWW father also realises the potential downside of his invention. In contrast to Tim Berners-Lee, Cailliau is not a fan of the semantic web: "It's also a little early to use intelligent machinery. ... You have no idea how "half witted" machines can be. ... Maybe here too we should think and experiment first before we let the beast loose!" He expects an increasing importance for the virtual world: The Matrix, but worse.

You can read more of his ideas about the history and future of the World Wide Web, web 2.0 and wiki's and more comments in the full story on Wikinews. Mr. Cailliau has answered the questions in Dutch too, and a Dutch release of the interview is scheduled soon.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Wikinews covers the 2007 World Deaf Swimming Championships

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After covering Wikimania, Wikinews user Rico Shen from Taipei, Taiwan has now committed himself to reporting from the 2007 World Deaf Swimming Championships in his city, which opened August 11.

The event is unique because only deaf athletes can participate, and because organizing a competition for deaf swimmers requires specific sign language interpreters, technical staff (for example to operate the 'start' and 'foul' lights) and referees.

Two articles about the event have been posted, the first covering the opening ceremony and the first day, while a second article brings news from day two. Shen's photos can be found in a designated category on Wikimedia Commons, and one of his original images is featured on today's main page, in the News In Pictures section.

Taipei will also host the 2009 Deaflympics.

Wikinews interviews: Tony Benn on U.K. politics

Wikinews interviews: Tony Benn on U.K. politics
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Tony Benn, at 82 is a still an active political figure, attending rallies and giving speeches. During the 1970s he served under James Callahan as Energy Secretary, having earlier held the position of Secretary of State for Industry under Harold Wilson.

After a number of attempts to contact Mr Benn via email he forwarded a telephone number for the purpose of doing an interview. Following a brief discussion to explain who or what Wikinews is, and its relation with Wikipedia, Wikinews reporter Brian McNeil started putting the questions. Mr Benn speaks at length on a variety of topics, this is the first article from this extended interview covering his views on New Labour and U.K. politics.

Contrasting the situation between Tony Benn's time in government and the Tony Blair years Wikinews asked "In the last 12 years the Labour party had one leadership election which was ... ceremonial. in 76-88 they had three, two that you stood in. Which do you think is better? Regular, or a 'strong man' leader that isn't challenged?"

I think in 1997 any Labour leader would've won the election because the people wanted a change but what made 1997 different was that the British establishment didn't want a change, they wanted Mrs. Thatcher's policies to be continued and Blair gave an assurance that he would , in economic terms, follow her lead. He said, New Labour is a new political party and when Mrs. Thatcher was asked her greatest achievement, she said "New Labour". Therefore, the Labour victories in 97 [...] Blair victories have not really been Labour victories, they've been victories for a party that based so much of its polices on the Thatcher inheritance. and that's why I'm not a member of New Labour.
Wikinews interviews: Tony Benn on U.K. politics
... when Mrs. Thatcher was asked her greatest achievement, she said "New Labour".
Wikinews interviews: Tony Benn on U.K. politics

Wikinews asked about Tony Benn's opinion of Gordon Brown, the United Kingdom's new Prime Minister.

Gordon Brown's roots are in the Labour movement, which Blair's were not. He understands the history of Labour movement, he is very much committed to market forces and globalisation but he's a son of the manse and he's entitled to a honeymoon and I think his early start has been very interesting. He's distanced himself discreetly from President Bush. When he went to see Bush, Bush praised him and he praised the United States of America, which is an important thing and he choose to make his big speech at the United Nations about Darfur and now the paper today, I don't know if that is true, suggest that British troops will be withdrawn from Iraq soon, I hope that is true. He's also made one or two very interesting constitutional proposals which would give greater power to parliament rather than be a presidential system and [...] also he's made a request today for the return of all the British residents who've been detained in Guantanamo Bay. So my instinct is to give him a good start and the main thing is - Blair has gone - and I must admit, that is such a development, such an important development that my inclination is to try and give Gordon Brown an opportunity.

Wikinews asked if Tony Benn believed the U.K. should withdraw from Iraq.

Oh yes. Well according to the papers today, it looks as if Brown may be planning to do that on the basis of the military advice he has received from the British general. But thats, I hope thats true, but it isn't confirmed.
Well I think the contribution that Blair made to Bush was to pretend, help him to pretend that this was an international force, a coalition of the willing, where as if Britain refused to go in it would have been seen as a Vietnam and I think to that extent, Blair gave Bush what he wanted. Bush didn't get, want...or need British troops, but he wanted British political support and he got it. And I think that political support is ending.
A full copy of the interview can be listened to here.
FILE IS .OGG! Must have player able to play . OGG files.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Home video catches alleged UFOs in Haiti

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A video has surfaced on the website that show what appears to be more than a dozen Unidentified flying objects (UFOs) in a Haitian neighborhood.

The video was reportedly filmed on August 6 and was uploaded to LiveLeak on August 10, then hosted on It is not known who filmed the objects.

The beginning of the video appears to show two large UFOs flying over a woman who is taping the objects with a video camera. The objects, shaped like flowers when viewed from the ground, make a faint roaring noise as they pass over. They continue to fly towards a mountain range where they fly in formation to meet up with what appears to be more than 12 other UFOs. The video then stops.

One website is dubbing the video as a fake, saying that it's using Computer-generated imagery (CGI). One image on the website even claims that the palm trees in the video are the same.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Encyclopædia Britannica reaches Wikipedia's main page

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August 8, 2007

The Encyclopædia Britannica today appeared on the main page of online encyclopaedia Wikipedia as it became the day's featured article. This may be considered to be ironic, considering that the Encyclopædia Britannica has recently been critical of Wikipedia in terms of the website's openness and accuracy.

The Encyclopædia Britannica, first published in Scotland in 1768, has attacked Wikipedia in the past due to the way it is written. Whilst the Encyclopædia Britannica is written by a team of identified contributors, Wikipedia can be written by anyone who has access to an internet connection. As a result, the Encyclopædia Britannica claims to be more accurate.

However, according to one study carried out by the scientific journal Nature, a study of 42 random articles showed that Wikipedia had 162 errors, whilst the Encyclopædia Britannica had 123. The Encyclopædia Britannica responded by saying that the study was misleading due to certain articles were not taken from the Encyclopædia, some articles were combinations of several articles, others were simply excerpts.

Wikipedia's featured articles are to be examples of the site's finest work. Out of over 1.9 million articles that exist as of writing, there are only 1,535 featured articles. These are indicated with a bronze star in the top-right hand corner of the article.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Wikinews reports from Wikimania 2007

Wikimania 2007 Site Events warming up for main conference

Counting down to Wikimania 2007, the Site Events such as "Hacking Days & Extra", "One Laptop Per Child Curriculum Jam", and the "Citizen Journalism Unconference" preluded the main conference.

On August 1, Cary Bass and many other programmers participated in the Hacking Days. Mike "b6s" Jiang hosted this two-day long event where programmers can exchange experiences.

That same day, the One Laptop Per Child Curriculum Jam kicked off. Project Director Samuel "SJ" Klein invited many teams with an interest in freely licensed content to produce learning materials, which youngsters from 6 to 16 years of age could judge.

The Citizen Journalism Unconference was held August 2. It hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation and Public Television Services Taiwan (PTS). The organization invited Frontier Foundation Researcher Shu-fang Tsai and Facilitator of Institute of Culture Affairs Taiwan Gail West to host this unconference. The Unconference was held in an open space style. Topics for discussion were created by participants at the unconference.

In this unconference, participants talked about lots of free content portals comparisons, such as PeoPo by PTS Taiwan, the characteristics and role of citizen journalists, the comparisons between citizen journalism and professional journalism, and the future of citizen journalism.

Wikimania 2007 begins in Taipei, Taiwan

The third annual conference for users of the Wikimedia Foundation projects, Wikimania, began on August 3. Over 1,100 people registered from 98 countries. Fifty five percent of attendees were from Taiwan. There are over 100 presenters holding a total of 65 sessions.

Florence Devouard, Chair of the Wikimedia Foundation, in the opening to the conference, reviewed what has been accomplished in the past year. Among the accomplishments are the creation of the Wikimedia Taiwan chapter, and the creation of Wikiversity. Florence also said that the Russian Wikipedia was the fastest growing Wikipedia, with the Chinese Wikipedia coming second. There still is huge disparity in language though, with projects such as the Afrikaans Wikipedia having 6 million native speakers, but less then 8,000 articles.

>> More...

On the second day of Wikimania 2007 in Taipei, Group Sessions continued, while the Virtual i.d.ea Interactive Net Art 2007 Exhibition attracted visitors and participants. This exhibition shows the creation of interactions by using creative contents. Four college teams and two individuals exhibited their work. The exhibition is mainly focused on Interactive Net Art.

The Wikimania 2007 Conference will end on August 5. Submitting free-licensed works for the Wikimania Awards is still in progress, the deadline being 8:00 a.m. August 5 (Taipei time). Wikimania Award winners will be announced at the Closing Ceremony.

>> More...

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Pictures: Highway bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota, collapses

Highway bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota, collapses

These Pictures were captured by SEWilco, a freelance journalist writing for Wikinews.

The Interstate 35W Mississippi River eight-lane bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota has collapsed on both sides of the highway over the Mississippi River during rush hour traffic. The entire length of the bridge over the river collapsed at 6:05 p.m. CDT (UTC-5). The road was busy with traffic in four lanes when the entire 1907 foot (581 m) steel arch bridge collapsed. The bridge, built in 1967, cleared the water level by 64 feet; the deck surface and pavement were considerably higher.

At least nine people who were on the bridge at the time of the collapse have died, 60 have been injured and at least 20 are missing, still believed to be in the rubble. At least 50 cars were traveling on the bridge, including a school bus. The Red Cross said that 60 children were aboard a school bus, and that of those ten were admitted to a hospital. As many as 60 people have been injured due to the collapse.

Reports say that people may be trapped in the water. Further, "many voids may contain survivors, but we cannot search those voids until it's safe," said Jim Clack, Minneapolis Fire Chief, during a press conference.

"One has died from drowning," said a doctor from the medical center during an 8:00 pm press conference, who also said that so far 22 are in "yellow condition" and at least six are in "critical condition."

Minneapolis officials have stated during an earlier press conference that the "People are being sent downtown and all survivors are off the bridge. We are seeking help from the Red Cross. At least six are confirmed dead and at least 60 children are receiving trauma care some with severe injures, some with minor injuries."

Most of the injured have been received by Hennepin County Medical Center in downtown Minneapolis for medical treatment. Area hospitals are requesting all off duty staff and all Minneapolis ambulances to report. Residents are being encouraged to stay away from the area to let emergency crews do their work.

It is not known what caused the collapse, but there was construction being performed on the bridge's road surface which included the use of jackhammers and the FBI has ruled out terrorism.

"Although it is much too early to make any determination of the cause, we have no reason at this time to believe there is any nexus to terrorism," said Paul McCabe, an FBI spokesman.
In 2001 a stress inspection was done and Minnesota Department of Transportation stated that the bridge "should not have any problems with fatigue cracking in the foreseeable future."

Typically an eight-lane bridge, the bridge was reduced to four lanes (two in each direction) during the current construction. The Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) had just announced overnight lane reductions on the bridge to one lane in each direction for the late evening hours of July 31 and August 1.

The American Red Cross has asked all those willing to
give blood or assist to please contact the Twin Cities Red Cross through their website or by calling either +1-651-291-4680, or +1-651-332-7000. Leave a message at (612) 871-7676 to get information about victims.

Two strong earthquakes rock Vanuatu

Two strong earthquakes rock Vanuatu

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) at least two earthquakes with a magnitude 7.2 and 5.1 have rocked the island of Vanuatu.

The first 7.2 quake was recorded at 4:08 a.m. (local time), 55 kilometers (35 miles) east, southeast of Luganville, Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu with a depth of 144.8 k.m. (90.0 miles). The second 5.1 quake was recorded at 47 k.m. (29 miles) east, northeast of Santo (Luganville), Vanuatu with a depth of 149.3 k.m. (92.8 miles) and it struck nearly one hour later at 5:07 a.m. (local time).

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has issued a tsunami bulletin for the first quake saying that "based on all available data a destructive Pacific-wide tsunami not expected," but that small waves could be expected locally near the quakes epicenter.

So far there are no reports of injuries, deaths or damage, but the USGS reports that damage could be "moderate to heavy."