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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Oprah Winfrey victim of death hoax

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Internet rumors and also edits made here on Wikinews and Wikipedia, have been the victims of a recent hoax that the talk show host Oprah Winfrey has been found dead in her Chicago, Illinois home. The rumors are considered to be a hoax, connected with the online group known as Anonymous. Other reports say that the website is responsible for starting the rumor which began to spread quickly over the internet. The rumors started after a statement Winfrey made on a recent show, defending a United States Senate bill against pedophiles and child rapists saying a pedophile group has "9,000 penises" harming children. She was referring to a comment someone, left on her website claiming to be a pedophile. Wikinews can confirm through anonymous sources that the rumor was started by the group Anonymous and the website 4chan.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Records reveal US Senator John Sununu had ties to convicted lobbyist

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On October 24, 2001, convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and four Alexander Strategies Group associates donated $1,000 each to the Rely on Your Beliefs Fund. This political action committee in turn donated $3,000 to Representative John Sununu's primary campaign in New Hampshire on the same day, through the political action committee Team Sununu. The Greenberg Traurig lobbying company, which also employed Abramoff, gave $1000 to Team Sununu on December 16, 2002 for purposes of 'debt retirement.'

According to a report by the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee, Jack Abramoff commonly told Native American tribal clients to divert their funds through the Alexander Strategies Group. Earlier that October, Jack Abramoff had met with the legislative director of the Saginaw Chippewa tribe in Michigan. Representative John Sununu, now a sitting senator from New Hampshire, had served on the Appropriations Committee that helped draft the Department of Interior funding bill. In the section on Native American water claims, land claims, and miscellaneous payments, over $6,000,000 in funding was given to Michigan fishing in the Great Lakes.

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Alleged 'rights group' involved with removal of anti-Scientology videos from YouTube doesn't exist; says EFF‎

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On September 4 and 5, at least 4,000 anti-Scientology videos were removed from the video sharing website, YouTube. The videos removed were done so by a single Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notice by an alleged 'rights group' called the American Rights Counsel LLC, which Wikinews has confirmed, does not exist beyond the scope of those requests.

In an exclusive interview with Wikinews the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) acknowledged that they "don't know anything about" the Counsel and that any attempt to intentionally commit fraud by failing false DMCA requests, could lead to criminal charges.

"We don't know anything about this group. However, if these DMCA notices were sent improperly, there could be legal remedies. The particulars would depend on the particulars of the situation," Rebecca Jeschke, a spokeswoman for the EFF, told Wikinews.

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Sunday, September 7, 2008

Alleged 'rights group' tries to have 4,000 anti-Scientology videos removed from YouTube

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According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a rights group called the American Rights Counsel LLC has attempted to have at least 4,000 anti-Scientology videos removed from the video sharing website YouTube. Upon further investigation, Wikinews found that most videos and clips were added to YouTube by the copyright holders of the material; as DMCA requests are for the purposes of requesting removal where service providers host material that infringe on the copyright of the complainant, the merit of these requests remain questionable. It was also discovered that the alleged rights group does not exist as a physical entity. In an in-depth report, Wikinews investigated the incident and obtained exclusive information and interviews from individuals including Mark Bunker.

Within the past 24 hours, according to the EFF, the Counsel "sent out over 4000 DMCA takedown notices to YouTube, all making copyright infringement claims against videos with content critical of the Church of Scientology." A DMCA notice, or Digital Millennium Copyright Act notice means an attempt to limit the use of copyrighted material that is often infringing on the rights of an alleged copyright.

Wikinews made attempts to contact American Rights Counsel LLC for comment on the take-down notices, but was unable to obtain contact details for the alleged organisation. One post on a YouTube discussion page related to the organization states that they "do not appear to exist outside of these claims on YouTube." Wikinews contacted YouTube several times asking them if they have a process of verifying DMCA requests from individuals or entities claiming copyright infringement, but when they responded, they directed Wikinews to their terms of service saying, "item 8 addresses the DMCA and 8 B addresses counter-notice procedures."

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Sinkhole reported in Buffalo, New York

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Buffalo, New York – Officials in Buffalo, New York have closed a portion of a downtown street after a sinkhole was reported. At approximately 4:20 p.m. (Eastern time) Washington street between E. Eagle and Clinton was closed to vehicle and pedestrian traffic. Wikinews was on scene and obtained exclusive photos and statements.

City officials say the sinkhole is located in an area under the road where a tunnel, about 40 feet wide, connects two buildings, formerly the AM&A's warehouse and department store which is now abandoned. It was first reported last week when portions of the blacktop were seen caving in near the sidewalks. When city engineers examined the holes, they found it to span the entire width of the street and nearly a half the block's length with the hole being nearly 15 feet deep. Officials say the only thing holding up the road, is the thin layer of concrete and asphalt that make up the road's surface.

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Monday, September 1, 2008

News agencies suggest campaign operative for Republican Party edited article on vice presidential nominee

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Multiple news agencies, including the New York Times and CNET yesterday suggested that a campaign operative for Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential candidate, worked on the Wikipedia article on her in the 24 hours before the vice presidential candidate was announced. After seeing these allegations, Wikinews decided to investigate the claim further.

The user who allegedly added the content on Wikipedia was known as Young Trigg, and Wikinews has learned that the account was created at exactly 08:02 UTC on August 28. Just eight minutes after the user made their first edit to Wikipedia. In this first edit the user said that Palin "briefly worked as a sports reporter for local Anchorage television stations, while also working as a commercial fisherman with her husband, Todd, her high school sweetheart".

In the second edit Palin and her family were described as "avid outdoors enthusiasts." This edit also said that "Sarah and her father would sometimes wake at three am to hunt moose before school, and the family would regularly run 5k and 10k races".

Young Trigg made a total of 43 contributions and announced they would retire from Wikipedia at 07:58 UTC on August 31. In addition to editing the article on Sarah Palin, the user also gave an anonymously contributed to Wikipedia to say that Palin was the VP nominee before the official announcement

This unusual editing pattern aroused some suspicion among other editors of Wikipedia. One of these editors is Justen Deal, who told Young Trigg that "some of yours edits may have affected the article in such a way so as to reflect more favorably on the subject of the article."

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