Canada has no plans to boycott Winter Paralympics

Monday, March 3, 2014

Yesterday the Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said there are no plans to boycott the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi, Russia even as Canada takes other actions in response to Russian military intervention in Crimea, Ukraine. On Saturday Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper also stated there were no plans to boycott the Games, set to start March 7.

Baird is quoted in as saying, “We don’t want the athletes to pay the price for this.[…] But politically… I don’t think there’s any way we’d want to have senior-level government leadership going there to somehow glorify Russia’s leadership.” Toronto Star Sports Columnist Cathal Kelly published an editorial on Saturday saying Canada needs to boycott the Sochi Paralympics.

Canada has already recalled its ambassador to Russia. The Canadian government is considering expelling the Russian ambassador from the country. Yesterday, Harper said the country plans to boycott meetings leading up to the upcoming Russian-chaired G8 summit. He also said Canada was working with the United Nations to monitor the situation in the Ukraine, and is exploring the possibility of offering financial assistance to the country.

In an e-mail from Canadian Paralympic Committee CEO Karen O’Neill to Kelly, the organization refused to answer direct questions about any potential boycott of the Games.

Canada has previously boycotted an Olympics in Russia. In 1980, the country boycotted the Summer Olympics in Moscow because of the USSR invasion of Afghanistan. They were joined by a number of other countries including the United States and West Germany.

Hackers attack Church of Scientology website

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Wikinews has learned that according to an Internet posting made just over 24 hours ago, the Church of Scientology‘s website is being attacked by hackers, causing the site to shut down.

The attack was launched on Wednesday by a user labelled “Anonymous”, on the website “Insurgency Wiki”, a spinoff of 4chan. The “History” section of the site explains, in a satirical fashion, that the incident was prompted by the Church of Scientology’s attempts to remove a promotional video featuring Scientologist Tom Cruise from YouTube. Though YouTube is complying with the Church of Scientology’s requests to take down the video, other sites such as have stated that they will keep hosting the video.

So far, it’s the Internet: 1, Scientology: 0. But it’s a long game.

Writing in a blog post, Matthew Ingram of The Globe and Mail dubbed the ongoing conflict involving the Church of Scientology’s attempts to remove the Cruise video from the Internet: “Scientology vs. the Internet, part XVII”. He characterized the conflict between the Church of Scientology and anonymous posters of the Cruise video as “another small skirmish in a war that Scientology has been waging for almost 15 years, since the early days of newsgroups such as alt.religion.scientology, which posted internal church documents in 1994. Lawsuits have been filed, mailing lists have been shut down, homes of discussion group participants have been raided and their computers seized — an all-out war.”

Prompted I think by the Tom Cruise video, a new obsession is taking hold on the internet. An insurgency against The Church of Scientology.

One poster admitted to being a part of the effort, writing in a blog post “I have myself, as per instructions, loaded up Gigaloader and started bombarding the Scientology homepage. Theres [sic] something in the hilarious anarchy of the net that produces these ‘events’ every now and again.” The poster wrote that “Prompted I think by the Tom Cruise video, a new obsession is taking hold on the internet. An insurgency against The Church of Scientology.”

“Someone emailed me earlier today talking about a tool a group’s been using to attack the scientology website. It’s an interesting tool, created to overload/create malformed strings and crash a website’s database,” said the post by an unknown author on pigmy.

The Church’s website is currently unreachable. Some individuals reported that when they are able to reach the site, all they get is a message stating, “The word scientology means search for truth…”. As of 15:11 GMT the site was accessible again, but only loads at relatively slow speeds, and by the end of the day Saturday the site was not loading at all.

Posts on the message board for the Scientology-critic site Operation Clambake from Friday theorized that a denial-of-service attack had occurred, and wrote that as of Friday the site was either not loading at all, or loading very slowly. Critics of Scientology at the Internet newsgroup alt.religion.scientology were critical of the attacks to the Church of Scientology website, with one poster writing “How can people look at both sides if one side is gone?”

Traffic to the Scientology website had already increased 18-fold prior to the attack, following increased attention after the Tom Cruise video appeared on the Internet. At that time, one in three visits to the site came from BBC News, and the website increased to number 3 in the company Hitwise UK’s Lifestyle-Religion category.

Suspect in Oklahoma girl’s murder blogged about depression, “dangerously weird” fantasies

Monday, April 17, 2006

Kevin Ray Underwood, the suspect in the murder of 10-year-old Jamie Rose Bolin of Purcell, Oklahoma, reportedly kept a weblog in which he joked about cannibalism, discussed the effects of not taking his prescribed medicine, and talked about “dangerously weird” fantasies.

Underwood was arrested Friday after investigators searched his apartment and found Jamie’s body in a plastic bin in his bedroom closet. Also reportedly found in his apartment were barbecue skewers and meat tenderizer, which law enforcement officials believe he intended to use to eat the girl’s flesh.

People who knew Underwood reported that he was a relatively unassuming man, seemingly trustworthy. His mother described him as “a wonderful boy” and said of Jamie, “I would like to be able to tell her family how sorry we are. I just feel so terrible.”

In the profile of his blog, entitled “Strange Things are Afoot at the Circle K” ([1]), Underwood described himself as “Single, bored, and lonely, but other than that, pretty happy.” Also on his profile page, he poses the question, “If you were a cannibal, what would you wear to dinner?” and answers, “The skin of last night’s main course.”

In an entry dated September 8, 2005, Underwood reportedly described 1998 as “the year that a large part of me died” and “the longest year of my life.” He reported losing contact with most of his friends, making an online acquaintance only to lose her again, and suffering panic attacks from being around people at college. Two of his friends also were involved in a car accident, one fatally injured.

He reported in that entry that in the last year he found himself becoming more and more detached from the world, never leaving his apartment except to go to work or his parents’ apartment. In an entry dated September 24, 2004, he reported that his fantasies were “just getting weirder and weirder. Dangerously weird. If people knew the kinds of things I think about anymore, I’d probably be locked away. No probably about it, I know I would be.”

In an entry dated February 4, 2006, he said that he had hardly left the apartment in almost two months, and that “a week or so ago, I spent my day off sitting here at the computer, barely moving from the chair, for 14 hours.”

His last blog entry was dated Thursday, April 13, 2006, one day after authorities believe Underwood killed Jamie Bolin.

Further Proof That Blogs Rule The World}

Submitted by: Matt DeAngelis

No one Ive ever met is neutral on Wal*Mart. Let me begin by saying that Sam Walton is one of my heroes. He was a humble genius who as a multigazillionaire still rode to work every day in his pickup truck and frequently took his dog with him.

I dont go to Wal*Mart. I like to buy American where I can and in Wal*Mart I cant. Id rather go see my friend Dan Sorrentino at Newtown Hardware for my sundries than some guy I dont know that I have to walk the length of a football field to find. But I know a lot of people who visit Wal*Mart on a regular basis. FYI, Wal*Mart has an affiliate program through LinkShare that is okay. Wal*Mart also has a blog, called Wal*Mart Facts.

Since it is the largest retail outfit in the world, Wal*Mart has a pretty big target painted on its back. Its always taking a beating for its employment practices or lack of this or corporate that. Being a PR person for Wal*Mart must be pretty tough. According to the Strategic Public Relations Blog, Wal*Mart is trying to soften its public face. To this end it has hired the venerable public relations firm Edelman in Chicago.

According to the Modern Marketing blog, Edelman and Wal*Mart set up a program they call Action Alley. Action Alley was set up to practice what Modern Marketing calls Outside In marketing:

Traditional marketing has been built around the idea of creating a central set of messages and sending them out into the marketplace.

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This can be thought of as an Inside-Out approach, where the communications infrastructure required to manage brands and image (cameras, editing suites, media, design & creative personnel) is held inside large organisations and used to distribute information out.

However, as savvy consumers filter out unwanted advertising information using PVRs, adblockers, SPAM filters, RSS feeds, subscriptions and customer communities, the Inside-Out approach is becoming less and less effective.

Not surprisingly, some companies are looking around for new ideas. Open Source Marketing is one idea that people are turning to as they realise that the values behind the Open Source Movement can be applied to industries beyond technology.

The Open Source approach can be described as Outside-In. It recognises that in a distributed environment a lot of information and content about a company or brand is being produced outside of the organisation by consumers and other stakeholders. And that companies need systems that allow them to react to this information.

It also recognises that frequently this information is more influential than the spiel produced by a company or brand. For example, someone looking to book a hotel will probably place greater value on a customer community such as than a hotel website.

Having lived a lot of my life around marketing weenies, I can tell you that outside-in marketing scares the living hell out of marketing people, because it means theyve lost control of their brand and their message, and theyre not just pulling levers and watching what happens.

Getting back to Wal*Mart, the marketing weenies there perceived that what was being said in the Blogosphere was nibbling away at their brand. Theyre probably right. The job of Action Alley is apparently to help -ahem- steer those out in the Blogosphere toward writing more positively about Wal*Mart.

According to the Motley Fool a guy named Brian Pickrell wrote a blog article suggesting that the State of Maryland telling Wal*Mart how much employee health insurance they have to provide might be a bad idea. Without reading the article I would probably agree with him. According to the Fool, his article sounded a lot like a press release created by Edelman.

So the rigamarole seems to be about Wal*Marts conspiracy in feeding news stories to influential bloggers to try to influence what they write. Of course they do. So does everyone else, and to say otherwise is either naive or stupid. That is what public relations are all about.

While I was laughing at this whole thing something very, very cool struck me all the hubbub is because a company that earns $30 million a day is trying to influence a bunch of bloggers, rightfully believing that they have a lot of influence on the brand, and wrongly believing that they have any influence over them.

We bloggers arent stupid, you know. We may use your marketing tripe propoganda, but the marketing weenies have to understand that the only reason we use it is because we agree with it. And while the purists can squawk, I dont see any problem with that.

So all of us nobodys as a group can turn a ship the size of Wal*Mart.

Blogs Rule.

About the Author: Matt DeAngelis runs

. Matt is the former CTO of Modem Media, a pioneer in the Internet ad space. As a foot soldier in the Internet revolution, Matt devised the technology behind many of the most successful ad campaigns of the time.


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Bank of England governor warns housing market is biggest threat to UK economy

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has warned that the state of the housing market in the United Kingdom is the current biggest domestic threat to the country’s economy, due to lack of house building, and regulatory issues.

In an interview to be aired on Sky News today, he said the housing market is the “biggest risk” to the economy and has “deep, deep structural problems”. Of house building he said: “There are not sufficient houses built in the UK. To go back to Canada, there are half as many people in Canada as in the UK, twice as many houses are built every year in Canada as in the UK and we can’t influence that.”

“We’re not going to build a single house at the Bank of England. We can’t influence that. What we can influence […] is whether the banks are strong enough. Do they have enough capital against risk in the housing market?”

Carney also said the Bank of England would look into the procedures used to issue loans and mortgages to see if they were being granted appropriately: “We’d be concerned if there was a rapid increase in high loan-to-value mortgages across the banks. We’ve seen that creeping up and it’s something we’re watching closely.”

Kris Hopkins responded to Carney on behalf of the government, saying the government “inherited a broken housing market, but our efforts to fix it are working”. “We’ve scrapped the failed top-down planning system, built over 170,000 affordable homes and released more surplus brownfield sites for new housing. We’ve also helped homebuyers get on the housing ladder, because if people can buy homes builders will build them. Housebuilding is now at its highest level since 2007 and climbing. Last year councils gave permission for almost 200,000 new homes under the locally-led planning system and more than 1,000 communities have swiftly taken up neighbourhood planning. It’s clear evidence the government’s long-term economic plan is working.”

Earlier this month, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development called on the UK government to “tighten” access to the ‘Help to Buy’ scheme introduced by George Osborne and the coalition government in 2013. ‘Help to Buy’ has also recently been criticised by three former Chancellors of the Exchequer — the Conservatives Norman Lamont and Nigel Lawson, and former Labour Chancellor Alistair Darling. Darling said: “Unless supply can be increased substantially, we will exacerbate that situation with schemes like Help to Buy.”

New computer worm poised to cause massive outages

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Anti-virus software publisher Symantec has reported that outbreaks of two varieties of worm are imminent following system failures on two unnamed major corporate networks in the United Kingdom. After receiving several eyewitness accounts from on-site personnel this reporter noted similarities to the MSBlast worm which made headline news two years ago (on the 16th of July 2003) after causing massive outages.

The worms are limited to Microsoft Windows products based on the NT architecture such as Windows 2000 or Windows XP, exploiting administrator services applets which shut a computer down when a certain service fails. The worms cause these “administrator services” to fail, provoking the computer into shutting down immediately.

Microsoft has announced that a critical update is available for all users, evenfor those who use pirated versions of Windows.

Chrysler, Kraft Foods and many other US corporations are feeling the brunt of the attack as the US was in the middle of the work day when new more virulent variants emerged.

Sex, mental and physical exercise, fight dementia

Friday, April 8, 2005Professor Perry Bartlett of University of Queensland‘s Brain Institute recommends sex, cryptic crosswords and a good run to stave off dementia.

The researcher, interviewed on Australian ABC radio today [1], said that with 52,000 Australians expected to be diagnosed with dementia by the end of the year, people wishing to ward off the degenerative disorder may benefit from activities which stimulate growth of new cells in the brain, accompanied by mental exercise to select for survival of the resulting crop of new cells.

“Quite prolonged exercise is very good to make new neurones,” said the Professor. “These new nerve cells are really quite vital to our ability to function in the higher brain functions, such as memory and learning. Most of them die. We now know that we can preserve some of them by giving direct stimuli.”

Professor Bartlett explained recent research findings, including those from collaborator Jeffrey D. Macklis [2] at Harvard in the US.

“There are a lot of hormones and changes in blood that go up and down after exercise, and so that may be a lead to some of the chemicals that can drive the production of nerve cells.

“One of the chemicals that seems to promote neurogenesis is prolactin, and prolactin levels are very high in pregnant females. Prolactin levels, by the way, also go up during sex as well. So one could think of a number of more entertaining activities than running in order to regulate the production of nerve cells.

“Perhaps doing something a little more inquisitive or intellectual might be good at selecting their survival. So perhaps one should run a long distance and do the cryptic crossword or something like that,” he said.

Professor Bartlett gave the same suggestions as being potentially helpful in depression, last year in an interview on the ABC Science Show. [3]

Google News seeks patent for search system that returns ‘quality’ links

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Google News submitted patent applications both in the United States and world-wide in September 2003 for a system of ranking search returns. The patent protection filings seek to control Google’s approach that filters headlines through a complicated algorithm, including the quality of the news organization. How much of this system is currently in use by the search engine giant is unknown.

Primitive search engines are expected to organically evaluate links based on how closely the keywords typed in the search field match an object link, and how many other links are attached to the object. Then a measure of relevance is calculated before returning a reply.

It seems some measure of the work being done at Google is a reaction to search engine optimization (SEO) campaigns which can, if done effectively, skew results to certain domains. A challenge for Google is to develop its technology to nullify efforts on the dark side of SEO and link-spamming.

What also seems to be coming out from this, according to research from the Internet Search Engine Database, is that Google does indeed have a ‘sandbox’ where domains are evaluated first by a human factor before being released into its algorithms.

In its first ever Securities and Exchange Commission filing since the company went public last year, Google indicated that it intends to spend US$500 million on technology development, more than double the $177 million it spent two years ago.

The language used in the lengthy patent application itself is difficult to understand. An excellent article titled “Google United – Google Patent Examined” found below, describes some of the nuts and bolts of Google’s techniques.

New South Wales set to adopt harsher anti-cannabis laws

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma has proposed strengthening the states anti-cannabis laws. The government is undertaking a complete rewrite of such laws in response to concerns voiced by some health professionals about the link between the drug and mental health issues. The proposed legislation will also increase jail sentences for those convicted of growing cannabis hydroponically.

“There is growing evidence of a link between long-term cannabis use and the incidence of severe mental health problems,” said Mr Iemma.

Under the plan the current cannabis cautioning system, introduced in 2000, is to be reviewed. Cannabis users would be required to attend counseling to “understand the link between cannabis use and mental illness” to avoid being charged for their first offence. At present those issued with their second cautioning notice are required to call a counseling service.

The Sdvosb In Norfolk, Virginia Can Get Your Vessel Inspection Ready

byAlma Abell

Were you in any of the armed services, were injured as a result of being in that particular branch, and now you own a small business? If so, you are part of a group of businesses known as service disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSB). There is an SDVOSB in Norfolk Virginia who supplies shipboard repair merchandise and consultation services for customers in need. In case you are unclear on exactly what constitutes an SDVOSB organization, here is a little information that may aid you in wanting to be a part of supporting the American military.

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An SDVOSB organization is one that is owned and controlled by one or more veterans who are service-disabled. On top of that, the organization must be considered a small business according to the guidelines of the Small Business Administration. It was in when the President of the United States mandated that federal agencies must provide to SDVOSB organizations the opportunity to be awarded federal contracts and subcontracts. Federal agencies have a contracting target to grant at least three percent of prime contracts organizations that are SDVOSBs.

With that understanding, you can understand what you can do to be of service to these type of organizations. Coronado DC is an SDVOSB organization that provides shipboard repair services for customers looking for supplies. Just about any and every part you would need for a ship can be found at the Norfolk distribution center. Stainless steel bolts, deck drains, and rack repair parts are all part of the inventory you could find. The business also offers discount pricing to those with government purchase cards.

Business customers can also take advantage of the consultation services for ship owners, such as INSURV inspections. Experienced staff members will come and thoroughly go over your vessel with a fine-toothed comb to ensure your ship is inspection ready. Some of the staff members formerly served upon the same type of vessels when they were in service and knew what is being looked for in INSURV inspections. If you need supplies for your ship or need to get it inspection-ready, call upon the SDVOSB in Norfolk Virginia who can help you.