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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Huge interest brings Wikileaks offline

>>Click here for the EXCLUSIVE story.

The Wikileaks website, which publishes sensitive and censored material submitted by anonymous contributors, has experienced unprecedented levels of Internet traffic today through public interest. This interest has caused the website's servers to be unable to meet the enormous demand of over 164 gigabytes of download traffic within twenty-four hours, leading the site to be temporarily inaccessible.

The film Fitna, directed and produced by Dutch politician Geert Wilders, has caused controversy for its presentation of Wilders' negative view of Islam as being committed to world domination and acts of terrorism. A trailer for the film was widely uploaded to many video sharing sites, including YouTube and Google Video; this met with anger from Islamic nations, the debacle culminating in Pakistan's government ordering the nation's internet service providers to block the YouTube site. This caused YouTube to be inaccessible to residents of other countries whose Internet access involved routing through Pakistan. Ultimately, YouTube acquiesced to the demands made by Pakistan and other organisations, in exchange for access being restored. The site LiveLeak originally hosted a copy of the trailer, which has now been replaced with a video message stating that the lives of their staff have been put at risk due to hosting it.

As a consequence of this censorship, Wikileaks mirrored the trailer, receiving heavy access traffic through hosting one of the few copies remaining on the Internet. Wikinews has obtained an exclusive statement from a representative of Wikileaks, affirming that the site has not been taken off-line due to external pressure, and is instead suffering technical problems due to this high demand.

>>Click here for the EXCLUSIVE story.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Popular soap opera 'The Young and the Restless' celebrates 35 years on the air

The popular American soap opera The Young and the Restless, currently the reigning Emmy Award-winner for best daytime drama, celebrated 35 years on the air Wednesday.

The 35th anniversary also comes after the series, known colloquially as Y&R, marked its 1,000th straight week as the highest-rated soap opera in a daytime slot. In addition to keeping the #1 spot every week since December 1988, Y&R has also been the top-rated soap in the African-American demographic since 1991.

A trend-setter since the beginning, Y&R relied on character-driven storytelling, accentuated with understated sexuality from its cast, which at that time was mostly young, to bring in teenage and twentysomething viewers, which were ignored by soap producers and networks up to that time. These traits immediately set Y&R apart from other soap operas, and other soaps have since mimicked Y&R's formulaic approach to offering something for everyone, especially younger viewers.

Since premiering on March 26, 1973, Y&R has become a worldwide cultural institution in its own right; racking up an impressive 100 Emmy Awards between the writers, producers, cast and crew since 1974. The show has aired in over 100 countries, including Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, Italy, and Turkey, and reaches a worldwide audience of ten million daily. So far-reaching was Y&R's appeal that Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci chose the serial's theme song as accompanying music to her floor exercises at the 1976 Summer Olympics. In Australia, where Y&R has aired since 1974, the show was canceled by the original network that aired it in 2007, prompting a widespread fan backlash in that country. It was eventually moved to a pay channel.

Over the past 35 years, countless characters, marriages, divorces, births, deaths, and every joy and trauma in between have visited the residents of Genoa City, where Y&R is based. To commemorate the milestone, Mike Halterman from Wikinews interviewed three actresses who have played long-running characters on Y&R, and asked them to share their memories. All three responded to questions about what being on Y&R means to them, what their favorite storylines were, what they perhaps would have wanted to do all over again, and what they'd love to tell their fans directly.

» Full story

Wikinews interviews organiser of New Zealand's Rock2Wgtn festival Phil Sprey

Accross Easter weekend Wellington, New Zealand was host to Rock2Wgtn, an international two-day hard rock festival. Large crowds showed up Westpac Stadium to see the various acts. New Zealand has never seen an event of this kind before.
Day one featured three theatrical acts. Finnish band Lordi, known for their monster costumes, opened the night. They were followed by the US shock rocker Alice Cooper, whose storylined set included the horror theatrics regularly associated with him and a hanging stunt he recently restarted after a gallows collapse nearly killed him two decades ago. The night was headlined by the distinctively costumed band KISS, complete with their famed black-and-white makeup.
The first major act on the stage on day two was the American hard rock/glam metal band Poison. After Poison, British act Whitesnake took to the stage and performed their set to the crowd. British-born American rocker Ozzy Osbourne, who, as well as a solo career, fronts the world-famous Black Sabbath, was the second night's headline act.
The festival's entertainment did not stop at the six main acts. There was also support performances from three New Zealand bands - The Symphony of Screams, The Valves and Sonic Altar. Their sets were acopmanied by a special effects package from award-winning studio Weta Workshops, who are known for their work on movies such as The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. This came in the form of a 'Drusila the Dragon', which rose up to a height of six foot and wigspan and moved for the audience, shining lasers from its eyes and breathing red smoke. Flame Fire Productions were hired to put on a fire show featurng several dancers alongside the performers. Also performing were six local guitarists and a group of 'zombie' cheerleaders.
Despite the crowds that flocked to the event, however, it has recently become apparant that financial trouble has hit the festival. Although figures remain to be confirmed, an estimated NZ$750,000 has been lost.
Wikinews secured an exclusive interview with Phil Sprey of Capital C Concerts, who organised the festival.

>> Click here to read the full exclusive interview

Wikinews interviews German music video director Uwe Flade

Uwe Flade is a music video director from Germany. He has worked with numerous artists, including Depeche Mode, Rammstein, Apocalyptica, In Extremo, Nickelback, Franz Ferdinand and Tarja Turunen. He has now told Wikinews about his work and his all-star clientele.

>> Click here for the full exclusive interview

Church of Scientology's 'Operating Thetan' documents leaked online

>>Click for the full special report.

Wikinews has obtained leaked 'Operating Thetan' (OT) documents of the Church of Scientology which were leaked via Wikileaks. Although some portions of the manual have been leaked previously, this is believed to be the first time the full unedited version has been leaked.

The 612 page manual for Scientologists and written by L. Ron Hubbard, contains instructions for the eight different Operating Thetan levels including 'clear' and OT8.

Most of the manual is typed from a computer, while the packet contains some hand written notes by Hubbard himself who also signed them. The manual also contains letters by Hubbard to individuals who have passed the according levels.

"A great many phenomena (strange things) can happen while doing these drills, if they are done honestly," Hubbard writes in regards to 'OT1.' Hubbard then goes on to explain in hand written notes, the 'drills' one must do in order to become 'OT1':

>>Click for the full special report.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

'Big Brother' contestant Parker Somerville sounds off about the show and his aspirations

In the past two months, Parker Somerville, a videographer for the website, transitioned from an average guy leading an ordinary life, to living in an extraordinary voyeuristic existence, and back again to the beginning. Simply put, it was a transition from reality to reality, with a two-week detour in reality television. Somerville was a former contestant on the CBS reality TV staple Big Brother, currently in its ninth installment.

Evicted on Day 14, Somerville hoped to have another chance to play the game, but came in second in the special "America's Choice" poll to bring back a former HouseGuest (the poll results were eventually not used at all and nobody was brought back). Now freed from a three-week sequester, Somerville was interviewed by Wikinews reporter Mike Halterman and he discussed his thoughts on Big Brother, how he and his fellow HouseGuests were portrayed and received, and what he plans to do now that his experience is, for the most part, over.

Somerville will return to Big Brother on finale night in five weeks. Please check your local listings for time and channel. Big Brother airs on CBS in the United States, Global in Canada, and E4 in the United Kingdom.

» Full story

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Banned Scientology parody film 'The Profit' leaked on Web

>>Click for the full story.

Copies of The Profit, a 2001 film blocked from distribution in the United States due to a court injunction, appeared on the Internet Friday on peer-to-peer file-sharing websites and on the video sharing site YouTube.

Directed by former film executive Peter N. Alexander, movie critics have characterized The Profit as a parody of Scientology and of its founder L. Ron Hubbard. Alexander was a Scientologist for twenty years, and left the organization in 1997. The film was funded by Bob Minton, a former critic of Scientology who later signed an agreement with the Church of Scientology and has attempted to stop distribution of the film. Alexander has stated that the movie is based on his research into cults, and when asked by the St. Petersburg Times about parallels to Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard said: "I'll let you draw that conclusion ... I say it's entirely fictional."

The film was released in August 2001, and was shown at a movie theatre in Clearwater, Florida and at a premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in France. A Scientology spokesman gave a statement at the time saying "the movie is fiction and has nothing to do with Scientology", however the Church of Scientology later took legal action in an attempt to stop further distribution of the film. The Church of Scientology claimed that the film was intended to influence the jury pool in the wrongful death case of Scientology Lisa McPherson, who died under Scientology care in Clearwater, Florida. In April 2002, a Pinellas County, Florida judge issued a court order enjoining The Profit from worldwide distribution for an indefinite period.

>>Click for the full story.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Climate change impacts Wyoming

>>Click here for the full EXCLUSIVE Special Report.

Cheek numbing, eye watering winds whip across the plains of the Laramie Basin, Wyoming. The ground is yellow brown with patches of recalcitrant snow. Sheep Mountain is losing its winter coat. All normal affairs for March. The March edition of the Wyoming Basin Outlook Report, also reports, based on February accumulations, that Snow Water Equivalent is at 99% of average.

The SWE is a measure of the snow pack that feeds the streams, rivers and reservoirs that Wyoming, Nebraska and other states depend upon for water. Current averages are compared to the average SWE for 1971-2000. In recent years, snow pack in this region has been anything but normal.

The Outlook Reports are issued January to June. Since March 2000, only five of 46 months have been above normal. While many of the winter months have been near normal, June's snow pack is far below average. Even in 2006, the wettest year of the millenia, June snow pack was only 37% of the average.

In a Wikinews Exclusive and Special Report, several experts answered questions and gave their insight on whats happening in Wyoming.

>>Click here for the full EXCLUSIVE special report.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Woman in Buffalo, New York kidnapped

>>Click Here For The Full EXCLUSIVE story

According to Buffalo, New York police radio communications, a woman only named as 'Hartwell,' was reported to have been kidnapped from the area of 1770 Hertel Avenue in Buffalo.

Police stated that she is scheduled to testify in court today against an unknown party and according to an individual who called 911, she was kidnapped by individuals affiliated with the unknown party.

Further communications said that she was kidnapped from near the Hertel location, then driven to the Peace Bridge. Police state that when they arrived on scene at the Hertel location, the individual who called 911 was receiving texts messages from Hartwell stating that they had already crossed the Bridge and made it into Canada.

Further communications stated that there is no description of the vehicle that took here and the suspects descriptions are also not known.

So far no amber alert has been issued regarding this incident.

>>Click Here For The Full EXCLUSIVE story

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Protesters arrested at anti-Scientology event in Atlanta

>>Click here for full story.

While protesting outside the Scientology Church of Georgia in Atlanta, two members of the group Anonymous were arrested by DeKalb County riot police while standing opposite the Church of Scientology-owned building.

The two protesters, who earlier on participated in the delivery of a 'global speech' collaboratively written and read by members of Anonymous at protests worldwide, were arrested are believed to have been charged by Dekalb police for protesting without a permit and causing 'offensive or hazardous conditions'. However, other members of Anonymous who took leading roles in arranging the protest are adamant that the Dekalb police had previously told them they did not need a permit to protest.

The arrests were filmed by other members of Anonymous who subsequently posted the videos onto popular video-sharing website YouTube. The videos show a very quick arrest in which the arresting officers did not read the Miranda rights of the protesters, which contrary to popular belief, is only required to be read before a police officer interviews someone in custody. This was confirmed by other members of the group who say they didn't hear their rights being read before they were lead away.

In other videos published on YouTube, the same members of Anonymous were shown thanking police for their work and offering them some of the cake members of Anonymous had brought to the protest, shortly before they were arrested.

>>Click here for full story.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Scientology protest group 'Anonymous' celebrates founder's birthday worldwide; At least three detained by police

>>Click here for the full EXCLUSIVE story and photos from around the globe.

The Internet group Anonymous today held protests critical of the Church of Scientology.

The global protests started in Australia where several hundred protesters gathered at different locations for peaceful protests.

In a global speech, the internet protest movement said Scientology "betrayed the trust of its members, taken their money, their rights, and at times their very lives." The protesters welcomed the public interest their protests have led to, and claimed they witnessed "an unprecedented flood of Scientologists [joining] us across the world to testify about these abuses." The group said it would continue with monthly actions.

At least three protesters were detained by police in Buffalo, New York and questioned after taking photographs and video of the Church from across the street. Police approached the three and began to "yell" at them. One protester was told by police that "the Church want you arrested. Now how am I going to avoid that." The protester then willingfully handed over his videotape of the church and asked not to be arrested. Subsequently all three were released without being charged. They were filming only the areas of the church that were visible from across the streets.

In a press statement from its European headquarters, Scientology accused the anonymous protesters of "hate speech and hate crimes", alleging that security measures were necessary because of death threats and bomb threats. This also makes the Church want to "identify members" of the group it brands as "cyber-terrorists".

Wikinews had correspondents in a number of protest locations to report on the protests.

>>Click here for the full EXCLUSIVE story and photos from around the globe.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

One year on: IFALPA's representative to ICAO, pilot and lawyer on ongoing prosecution of Garuda Indonesia Flight 200 pilot

Almost exactly one year ago, on March 7, Garuda Indonesia Flight 200 crashed during landing at Adisucipto International Airport, near Yogyakarta, after a scheduled domestic Indonesian passenger flight. 21 people - 16 Indonesians and five Australians - were killed when the Boeing 737-400 overshot the runway, crossed a road, struck an embankment and burst into flames in a rice paddy. Overall, the plane had traveled 252m beyond the extreme end of the runway.

The final report, released in October, blamed pilot error for the disaster. The report stated that the aircraft had aproached at a speed far esceeding that at which the wing flaps could properly operate, and attempted to execute a landing at 408 kph (254 mph), which is 160 kph (100 mph) above the safe speed. It also found that captain Marwoto Komar had ignored fifteen activations of the Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS) informing Mr Komar that the aircraft was flying at a speed beyond that at which it could safely land, but he failed to abort.

The local authorities have controversialy decided to prosecute Mr Komar. He is believed to be the first pilot to be prosecuted over an airliner accident in Indonesian history.

The issues thrown up by this ongoing case have now been exclusively commented on for Wikinews by Paul McCarthy. Mr McCarthy is the London-based International Federation of Air Line Pilots Associations (IFALPA)'s representative to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). He is both a pilot - as are all of IFALPA's roughly 100,000 members - and a lawyer, and is an acknowledged expert on issues concerning the criminal liability of pilots.

>>> Click here to read the full exclusive interview

Friday, March 7, 2008

Wikinews interviews U.S. Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney

>>Click here for the full EXCLUSIVE interview

held an exclusive interview with Cynthia McKinney, one of the candidates for the Green Party nomination for the 2008 U.S. presidential election.

McKinney is a former Democrat Congresswoman from Georgia. She was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1992 and held her seat for ten years until being defeated by Denise Majette in 2002. She was the first ever African American woman from her state to be elected to Congress.

We asked her why she made the recent switch to the Green Party. She replied, "Due to the importance of environmental issues, Green issues are the issues of today. The Ten Key Values of the Green Party stress us getting along with each other in harmony with the planet that gives us life."

When asked about how she would handle Iraq she replied, "I would instruct the Joint Chiefs to draw up a plan for the orderly withdrawal of all U.S. troops from the country. I would dismantle our military bases in the area, and I would also demand that U.S. and other international corporations relinquish any claims to Iraqi oil or other resources and withdraw as well."

McKinney is running for president because, basically, she thinks that "it's time that the people win".

>>Click here for the full EXCLUSIVE interview

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Wikinews International: You report "The Ides of March" 'Anonymous' protest against Scientology

That's right...we want you to be the reporter for the protest of "The Ides of March", 'Anonymous' VS. The Church of Scientology and to cover the celebrations of the Church's founder L. Ron Hubbard's Birthday.

Are you going to be in or near any of the following areas on March 15th 2008? If so, we want your pictures, your audio, video and interviews of the days protest:

Please add you name and information such as whether you plan to use video, audio, still photography, or all of the above by clicking here.

The protests are scheduled to take place on March 15 at 11:00 a.m. (YOUR local time) at any Church anywhere.