News briefs:June 4, 2010

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News briefs:June 4, 2010
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Posted on September 16th 2018 in Uncategorized

Category:June 1, 2010

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Posted on September 13th 2018 in Uncategorized

Questions raised over Mosquito device ahead of New South Wales trial

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Questions raised over Mosquito device ahead of New South Wales trial
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Sunday, June 23, 2013

A device known as the Mosquito, set to be trialed in New South Wales (NSW), Australia by RailCorp in a bid to deter vandals from areas frequently the target of graffiti, is attracting criticism. Wikinews reached out to several people about the trials.

The units work by emitting a high-pitched buzz, similar to that of a mosquito, which is generally only audible to those under the age of about 24. The aim is to repel young people who become irritated by the noise, as a prevention method against graffiti, loitering, and other crimes like theft.

The initiative was announced last month, but RailCorp has not revealed when it intends to test the technology to crack down on graffiti.

In an interview with Wikinews, President of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties Cameron Murphy this week labeled the strategy “ridiculous”. “All they’re going to do is wear headphones and these [devices] will make no difference at all.”

Thousands of units have been set up in the UK since they first became available about seven years ago, where they’re used to stop youths gathering near public areas like shops and train stations. The technology has a high usage rate in the UK, and the Council of Europe has called for a ban on grounds it violates human rights, calling it “highly offensive”.

A RailCorp spokesperson confirmed to Wikinews the devices would only be situated on railway land away from public areas.

Mr Murphy maintains the NSW government’s policy is “based upon discrimination” and it assumes the youth affected by the noise are those doing graffiti, without solid evidence to prove this.

NSW Liberal MP Gareth Ward told Wikinews, “very few crime fighting techniques are fool-proof,” and as people have found ways to get around CCTV, they’re like to do the same with this, which is why it’s only being trialed at this stage. He acknowledged the devices will be situated in areas where the general public shouldn’t be hanging around. “There are certain areas in the network where trains may not be travelling at a particular time and that’s when those devices will be turned on […] and I think that’s perfectly reasonable.” He remarked, “any young person who feels they’ve been aggrieved […] should feel free to contact the Minster for Transport.”

A mobile phone message tone based on the same mosquito sound has been touted as teacher-proof because teens should be the only ones able to hear it if it goes off during class.

Posted on September 9th 2018 in Uncategorized

Interview with Bill Bousfield, Regional Council candidate for Wards 1 & 5 in Brampton, Canada

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Interview with Bill Bousfield, Regional Council candidate for Wards 1 & 5 in Brampton, Canada
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Monday, October 30, 2006

The upcoming 2006 Brampton municipal election, to be held November 13, features an array of candidates looking to represent their wards in city council or the council of the Peel Region.

Wikinews contributor Nick Moreau contacted many of the candidates, including Bill Bousfield, asking them to answer common questions sent in an email. This ward’s incumbent is Elaine Moore; also challenging Moore is Janet Hamilton and Tejinder Lamba.

Posted on September 5th 2018 in Uncategorized

Mascots for Vancouver 2010 Olympics based on native mythology

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Mascots for Vancouver 2010 Olympics based on native mythology
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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The mascots of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia were just announced. Based on mythological characters, they are Miga, Quatchi and Sumi.

Miga, a sea bear who lives in the ocean with her family pod near Tofino, and Quatchi, a young sasquatch, represent the Olympics, while Sumi represents the Paralympics that follow afterward.

A sea bear is a First Nations creature, part killer whale, part Kermode spirit bear. While illustrated as being taller than the other characters, the mascot costume of Quatchi is the same height as the other two characters.

The third mascot, Sumi, an animal-guardian spirit, is a Thunderbird that wears the hat of an orca. Sumi will be the mascot of the Paralympics.

In 2004, the Times Colonist suggested a marmot might be a good mascot, except for their winter hibernation. The organizers still chose one, named Mukmuk, as their “virtual only” counterpart.

After the Olympic logo design was leaked the day before the 2005 announcement, organizers were extremely tight lipped until today’s news conference at a Surrey school. They apparently didn’t do any development on the characters on internet-enabled computers, to ensure the images or information wouldn’t slip out.

The characters were designed by the Vancouver and Los Angeles-based Meomi Design. Their characters have been used as part of iGoogle, a customizable homepage option from Google, as well as Electronic Arts, Girls Inc., Time Out Magazine, Cyworld, Nick Jr., Bang-on Clothing, and CBC4Kids.

The Vancouver organizers have a CDN$46-million merchandising program; previous Olympics have made as much as $100 million from mascot-related products.

RenĂ© Fasel, Chairman of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Coordination Commission commented that “The IOC welcomes these imaginative new additions to the Olympic Family as they take their place on the world stage today – a symbol of the Games and of Canada. We know that when Olympians, Paralympians and visitors from around the globe arrive in British Columbia at Games time, they will fall under the spell of these captivating characters.”

The characters first appearance will be at a Bay store in the Lower Mainland; HBC is a major sponsor of the Games. They will then make their way to schools, take a break through the Christmas season, and fly to Ottawa for the Winterlude festival.

Posted on September 5th 2018 in Uncategorized

Massive flooding in China; over 550 thousand evacuated

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Massive flooding in China; over 550 thousand evacuated
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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Heavy June rainfall has forced China to evacuate more than 550,000 people from their homes. Massive floods have devastated the central and southern parts of the country, causing rivers to overflow their banks and triggering mudslides. The rains follow the worst drought in China in over 50 years, which has decimated crop yields.

Since June 13, the damage caused by the rainstorms has led to … the emergency evacuation of 671,200 people to safety.

Overall, 40 rivers have risen above safe limits, stressing dykes and dams including those on China’s largest waterway, the Yangtze River, which is flooding downstream while experiencing a severe drought near its source in the north.

China’s disaster level has been raised to four, the highest on the scale. In a statement on its website on Friday, China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs said, “Since June 13, the damage caused by the rainstorms has led to … the emergency evacuation of 671,200 people to safety.”

The current round of heavy rains began in early June. Since then, more than a million and a half people have been displaced in the central and southern regions of the country and at least 168 deaths have been reported. Meteorologists in Beijing are predicting more heavy rain in Sichuan, Guizhou, and Zhejiang this weekend.

[R]escue boats cannot go through those narrow lanes inside the village. A lot of them depend on their relatives rowing small wooden boats to get to them… It is hard to help these people inside there.

The government has mobilized its forces to aid in the massive evacuations. According to Reuters, local authorities are distributing a box of instant noodles and a carton of bottled water to those affected by the flood. But villagers have reported that survival is difficult, especially for those still trapped by the flood waters in small villages, and distribution of aid is slow, with some not receiving any.

A villager was quoted by Reuters: “To be frank, those rescue boats cannot go through those narrow lanes inside the village. A lot of them depend on their relatives rowing small wooden boats to get to them… It is hard to help these people inside there.” Another villager, Shou Pengfei said, “Some did not even get any relief items. There is no electricity and you get bitten by mosquitoes all the time.”

Some did not even get any relief items. There is no electricity and you get bitten by mosquitoes all the time.

According to the Beijing Climate Centre, weather trends have shifted drastically. Currently the rain is coming in shorter but fiercer bursts, with protracted periods of drought in between the torrential rain.

The heavy rainfall is not likely to reduce the crop failure caused by months of drought, especially in the north, the heart of China’s grain-growing bread basket, where many rivers have dried up. According to reports, the northern countryside has been left devastated by the droughts. Huge dams hundreds of meters wide are now small, muddy pools. Large cities such as Beijing are draining the underground water sources and China is facing a long-term water crisis.

Meanwhile, China is engaged in a huge multi-year engineering project designed to move water to the parched north and away from the flooded south. The North-South water project is a massive series of canals and pipes designed to carry water from the Yangtze and Yellow rivers to Beijing.

It is likely, analysts predict, that Chinese crop shortages will increase food prices worldwide. Even before the latest flooding, the severe drought in the north caused a shortfall in China’s crop yields that will likely affect the price of wheat and may propel a price increase in global markets.

Posted on September 5th 2018 in Uncategorized

MTV and VH1 to broadcast Live 8

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MTV and VH1 to broadcast Live 8
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Sunday, June 26, 2005

MTV Networks’ MTV and VH1 have secured the rights to distribute over cable networks the Live 8 series of concerts which will be taking place at 8 venues in Europe, North America and Japan. The concerts are meant to raise awareness of poverty in Africa and charitable donations to fight it.

America Online holds the rights to broadcast Live 8 over the Internet and is currently in talks with American Broadcasting Company to also broadcast the concert.

MTV, VH1, and its college network, mtvU will broadcast the concert from noon to 8 PM. This will be the second outing for MTV, as they broadcasted the original Live Aid concert. If ABC decides to air the concert as well, this will also be their second going as well. According to MTV, this is the longest MTV has gone without a televised event since the coverage of the violent, riot-filled Woodstock 1999.

Two radio networks will also broadcast the concert. The subscription-based XM Satellite Radio will broadcast the original five announced concerts but will not broadcast the Tokyo or Barrie concerts. Premiere Radio Networks will broadcast the concerts tailored to the three genres of urban, rock and roll and pop music.

Some of the performers slated are: U2, Coldplay, Madonna, Dave Matthews Band, Jay-Z, Destiny’s Child and a reunited Pink Floyd.

Posted on September 5th 2018 in Uncategorized

Pirates seize tourist yacht near Seychelles, troops deployed

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Pirates seize tourist yacht near Seychelles, troops deployed
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Thursday, April 2, 2009

According to officials, Somali pirates have seized a luxury boat named the Ocean Explorer off the coast of the Seychelles archipelago in the Indian Ocean. Seven Seychellois crew members are believed to be on board. The boat is thought to be headed for Somalia.

Patrick Pillay, the Foreign Affairs Minister, said that the Seychelles government had contacted local naval forces who had pledged to “track down the boat.”

“The Indian Ocean Explorer has been seized by pirates about 600 miles west of the capital. What I’ve been told is they believe this has been taken to the Somali coast,” said Fergus Cochrane-Dyet, the British High Commissioner the Seychelles.

“As far as we know there were no foreign nationals on board. The vast majority of tourists come to the inner island resorts but a small number are more intrepid and visit the outer islands. I believe this yacht was used for visiting Aldabra,” she said.

This is not the first time Somali pirates have frequented the area: the Seychelles police chief stated that pirates held hostage three Seychellois sailors after their catamaran was hijacked in February.

Somali pirates, usually looking for a ransom, attacked over 130 merchant ships in the area in 2008. The International Maritime Bureau reports that number of attacks has increased by over 200% since 2007.

Posted on September 2nd 2018 in Uncategorized

Commonwealth Bank of Australia CEO apologies for financial planning scandal

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Commonwealth Bank of Australia CEO apologies for financial planning scandal
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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Ian Narev, the CEO of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, this morning “unreservedly” apologised to clients who lost money in a scandal involving the bank’s financial planning services arm.

Last week, a Senate enquiry found financial advisers from the Commonwealth Bank had made high-risk investments of clients’ money without the clients’ permission, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars lost. The Senate enquiry called for a Royal Commission into the bank, and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

Mr Narev stated the bank’s performance in providing financial advice was “unacceptable”, and the bank was launching a scheme to compensate clients who lost money due to the planners’ actions.

In a statement Mr Narev said, “Poor advice provided by some of our advisers between 2003 and 2012 caused financial loss and distress and I am truly sorry for that. […] There have been changes in management, structure and culture. We have also invested in new systems, implemented new processes, enhanced adviser supervision and improved training.”

An investigation by Fairfax Media instigated the Senate inquiry into the Commonwealth Bank’s financial planning division and ASIC.

Whistleblower Jeff Morris, who reported the misconduct of the bank to ASIC six years ago, said in an article for The Sydney Morning Herald that neither the bank nor ASIC should be in control of the compensation program.

Posted on August 30th 2018 in Uncategorized

Computer professionals celebrate 10th birthday of A.L.I.C.E.

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Computer professionals celebrate 10th birthday of A.L.I.C.E.
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Wednesday, November 30, 2005File:Turing1.jpg

More than 50 programmers, scientists, students, hobbyists and fans of the A.L.I.C.E. chat robot gathered in Guildford, U.K. on Friday to celebrate the tenth birthday of the award winning A.I. On hand was the founder the Loebner Prize, an annual Turing Test, designed to pick out the world’s most human computer according to an experiment laid out by the famous British mathematician Alan Turing more then 50 years ago. Along with A.L.I.C.E.’s chief programmer Dr. Richard S. Wallace, two other Loebner prize winners, Robby Garner and this year’s winner, Rollo Carpenter, also gave presentations, as did other finalists.

The University of Surrey venue was chosen, according to Dr. Wallace, not only because it was outside the U.S. (A.L.I.C.E.’s birthday fell on the Thanksgiving Day weekend holiday there, so he expected few people would attend a conference in America), but also because of its recently erected statue of Alan Turing, who posed the famous A. I. experiment which inspired much of the work on bots like A.L.I.C.E. University of Surrey Digital World Research Centre organizers Lynn and David Hamill were pleased to host the event because it encourages multi-disciplinary interaction, and because of the Centre’s interest in interaction between humans and computers.File:ALICE Birthday Cake.jpg

Dr. Wallace gave a keynote address outlining the history of A.L.I.C.E. and AIML. Many people commented on the fact the he seemed to have moved around a lot in the last ten years, having lived in New York, Pennsylvania, San Francisco, Maine, Amsterdam and Philadelphia, while working on the Alicebot project. The A.L.I.C.E. and AIML software is popular among chat robot enthusiats primarily because of its distribution under the GNU free software license. One of Dr. Wallace’s PowerPoint slides asked the question, “How do you make money from free software?” His answer: memberships, subscriptions, books, directories, syndicated ads, consulting, teaching, and something called the Superbot.

Rollo Carpenter gave a fascinating presentation on his learning bot Jabberwacky, reading from several sample conversations wherein the bot seemed amazingly humanlike. Unlike the free A.L.I.C.E. software, Carpenter uses a proprietary learning approach so that the bot actually mimics the personality of each individual chatter. The more people who chat with Jabberwacky, the better it becomes at this kind of mimicry.

In another interesting presentation, Dr. Hamill related present-day research on chat robots to earlier work on dialog analysis in telephone conversations. Phone calls have many similarities to the one-on-one chats that bots encounter on the web and in IM. Dr. Hamill also related our social expectations of bots to social class structure and how servants were expected to behave in Victorian England. He cited the famous Microsoft paperclip as the most egregius example of a bot that violated all the rules of a good servant’s behavior.

Bots have advanced a long way since philanthropist Hugh Loebner launched his controversial contest 15 years ago. His Turing Test contest, which offers an award of $100,000 for the first program to pass an “audio-visual” version of the game, also awards a bronze medal and $2000 every year for the “most human computer” according to a panel of judges. Huma Shah of the University of Westminster presented examples of bots used by large corporations to help sell furniture, provide the latest information about automotive products, and help customers open bank accounts. Several companies in the U.S. and Europe offer customized bot personalities for corporate web sites.

Even though Turing’s Test remains controversial, this group of enthusiastic developers seems determined to carry on the tradition and try to develop more and more human like chat bots.Hugh Loebner is dedicated to carry on his contest for the rest of his life, in spite of his critics. He hopes that a large enough constituency of winners will exist to keep the competition going well beyond his own lifetime. Dr. Wallace says, “Nobody has gotten rich from chat robots yet, but that doesn’t stop people from trying. There is such a thing as ‘bot fever’. For some people who meet a bot for the first time, it can pass the Turing Test for them, and they get very excited.”

Posted on August 28th 2018 in Uncategorized