Bush Administration changes official position on legitimacy of Qur’an desecration allegations

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Saturday, June 4, 2005

After an investigation of allegations that Islam’s holy book the Qu’ran was mishandled in front of inmates at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the Bush administration has acknowledged the credibility of some of these reports. According to Robert Burns of the Associated Press, U.S. military officials acknowledged that, “a Muslim holy book was splashed with urine,” and “a detainee’s Quran was deliberately kicked and another’s was stepped on.” The US government first denied a specific report that the Qu’ran had been flushed down a toilet at the prison facility, but on Friday agreed that similar allegations were indeed true.

On May 16, Newsweek magazine apologized to the victims of deadly riots that ensued due to a Newsweek article stating that U.S. officials defiled the Qur’an. White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan criticized Newsweek’s initial response to the incident, saying it was “puzzling.” Later that day, Newsweek retracted the story, which the White House said was a “good first step”.

On May 20, the International Red Cross (IRC) revealed in a rare public announcement that it had documented and reported to the United States credible information concerning desecration of the Qur’an by Guantanamo Bay personnel. Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman, acknowledged that allegations were made on “rare occasions” but were uncorroborated. Simon Schorno, a Red Cross spokesman, disputed the Pentagon’s denial saying, “All information we received were corroborated allegations.” He added that, “We certainly corroborated mentions of the events by detainees themselves,” and that “the ICRC considers such reports “very seriously, and very carefully, and [we] document everything.”

Scott McClellan explained in a press conference that the White House is not trying to tell Newsweek what to print. McClellan said, “Look, this report caused serious damage to the image of the United States abroad. And Newsweek has said that they got it wrong. I think Newsweek recognizes the responsibility they have. We appreciate the step that they took by retracting the story. Now we would encourage them to move forward and do all that they can to help repair the damage that has been done by this report. And that’s all I’m saying. But, no, you’re absolutely right, it’s not my position to get into telling people what they can and cannot report.”

On May 25, Amnesty International called for the shutdown on Guantanamo Bay due to numerous human rights violations, saying “The ‘war on terror’ appeared more effective in eroding international human rights principles than in countering international ‘terrorism’.” Amnesty International’s view was shared by both the International Red Cross (IRC) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The IRC has said it reported to the U.S. government detainee’s reports of desecration of the Qur’an. In the foreword of the report, written by Amnesty International Secretary General Irene Khan, Guantanamo was compared to a Soviet-era gulag in that it is “entrenching the practice of arbitrary and indefinite detention in violation of international law”.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan responded saying the report’s allegations were “ridiculous and unsupported by the facts. The United States is leading the way when it comes to protecting human rights and promoting human dignity. We have liberated 50 million people in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have worked to advance freedom and democracy in the world so that people are governed under a rule of law and that there are… protections in place for minority rights, that women’s rights are advanced so that women can fully participate in societies where now they cannot”, as well as supporting the fight against AIDS in Africa.

About the allegations of abuse at Guantanamo, which McClellan has previously called isolated incidents, he said, “We hold people accountable when there is abuse. We take steps to prevent it from happening again, and we do so in a very public way for the world to see that we lead by example, and that we do have values that we hold very dearly and believe in.”

On May 31, U.S. President George W. Bush dismissed the human rights report as “absurd” for its harsh criticism of U.S. treatment of terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, saying the allegations were made by prisoners “who hate America.” “It’s an absurd allegation. The United States is a country that promotes freedom around the world,” Bush said of the Amnesty International report.

William F. Schulz, executive director of Amnesty International USA, defended the report, saying, “What is ‘absurd’ is President Bush’s attempt to deny the deliberate policies of his administration.” and “What is ‘absurd’ and indeed outrageous is the Bush administration’s failure to undertake a full independent investigation”. Irene Khan also responded saying, “The administration’s response has been that our report is absurd, that our allegations have no basis, and our answer is very simple: if that is so, open up these detention centres, allow us and others to visit them.”

And, on Friday, the U.S. military released the results of their investigation and confirmed that in 5 separate incidents, American guards at the Guantánamo Bay prison “mishandled” the Islamic holy book. However, they stress that guards were usually “respectful” of the Qur’an. One incident involved splashing a Koran with urine by urinating near an air vent while others involved kicking, stepping on and writing in Qur’ans.

Brigadier-General Jay Hood, the commander of the jail, looked into the allegations, published and then retracted by Newsweek, that American personnel flushed a Qur’an down a toilet. He said that the inquiry did not find any evidence supporting this particular allegation. “The inquiry found no credible evidence that a member of the Joint Task Force at Guantanamo Bay ever flushed a Qur’an down a toilet. This matter is considered closed.”

UK Wikinews Shorts: July 8, 2013

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A compilation of brief news reports for Monday, July 8, 2013.

Pakistan captures al Qaeda suspect

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Thursday, May 5, 2005

Pakistan Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed announced Wednesday the capture of Abu Faraj al-Libbi, and five other suspected al-Qaeda militants, after a gun battle in Waziristan on Monday. Abu Faraj al-Libbi was wanted in connection with two attempts to assassinate Pakistan’s President, Pervez Musharraf, one on December 25, 2004.

Security officials said the Libyan born al-Libbi was thought to be a top general for al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and acted as an operational commander in Pakistan. Ahmed told AP, “This arrest gives us a lot of tips, and I can only say that our security agencies are on the right track.”

Ahmed, who called the capture “a very important day for us”, said they are receiving more and more tips and are on the right track towards the eventual capture of bin Laden. Pakistan has put more pressure on its northwest region with a months-long build-up there. The region is believed by many to be where al-Qaeda members are holding out after they were pushed from Afghanistan.

U.S. President George Bush said of the capture: “I applaud the Pakistani government for its strong coöperation in the war on terror.”

Musharraf has been a key ally in the US-led war on terrorism, and because of that also an Islamic militant target. A BBC security correspondent said this is the biggest arrest since that of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the 2003 9/11 attack.

Although al-Libbi is not on the FBI’s list of most-wanted terrorists, Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao stated that the United States had been offering a bounty of $10 million for information leading to al-Libbi’s arrest. He refused to speculate upon whether the arrest would aid in the capture of bin Laden, saying that “We have no information” about the al Qaeda leaders, and “It’s premature to say [whether this arrest will help in tracking them], but definitely interrogation is going to take place.”

Sherpao also said that it was too early to say whether al-Libbi and Mohammed would be taken to the United States, or remain in undisclosed locations with other al-Qaeda detainees. He stressed that there were the attempted assassination cases pending against al-Libbi in Pakistan.

The United States is not the only country which lays claim to al-Libbi. He is wanted by Libya, where he has been sentenced to death (and whence he escaped in the 1980s), for assassination attempts on Colonel Qaddafi. He is also wanted by Afghanistan.

NRMA stands by “unsafe” smash repair system

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Wednesday, December 21, 2005NRMA, one of Australia’s largest insurers, has come under scrutiny following the release of a scathing report into its online smash repairs system.

The report by the New South Wales Government’s Staysafe committee found that NRMA’s online repair tendering system was “unsafe”. NRMA has said it has no intention of suspending the system despite the findings.

The report, which was released yesterday found that “[The] system of allocating damaged motor vehicles to smash repairers without the repairers physically inspecting the damaged vehicle before quoting for work … is an unsafe system in its current form”. According to committee member and Port Stephens MP John Bartlett the vehicles were “being repaired to the standard of a brick and the crumple zones at the front and rear no longer worked and all the impact was being felt in the cabin”.

According to the report “the system would lead to cost cutting and unsafe repair practices, with the quality of repairs lowered by encouraging smash repairers to take short cuts”.

According to NRMA, only minor “cosmetic” repairs are put through the system – however often there can be further damage which is only evident after a complete inspection. The NRMA system simply places photographs of the vehicles on its website where approved smash repairers bid to carry out repairs.

David Brown, head of claims and assessments at NRMA, said this of the report: “[W]e totally reject the findings of the report, in fact we find the report’s fundamentally flawed with no evidence of safety issues, and [it] has been prepared without seeing the system first-hand”. He further added that the system would not be scrapped.

Wikinews interviews Joe Schriner, Independent U.S. presidential candidate

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Journalist, counselor, painter, and US 2012 Presidential candidate Joe Schriner of Cleveland, Ohio took some time to discuss his campaign with Wikinews in an interview.

Schriner previously ran for president in 2000, 2004, and 2008, but failed to gain much traction in the races. He announced his candidacy for the 2012 race immediately following the 2008 election. Schriner refers to himself as the “Average Joe” candidate, and advocates a pro-life and pro-environmentalist platform. He has been the subject of numerous newspaper articles, and has published public policy papers exploring solutions to American issues.

Wikinews reporter William Saturn? talks with Schriner and discusses his campaign.

News briefs:May 31, 2010

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News briefs:June 9, 2010

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[edit]

Dance party broken up by police in Utah, USA

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Monday, August 22, 2005

About 90 law enforcement officers from multiple agencies broke up what they said was a rave party on public and private property in the Diamond Fork area of Spanish Fork canyon, an hour outside of Salt Lake City, Utah, at about 11:30 p.m. Saturday (5:30 Sunday UTC).

According to the county, the Sheriff’s Office had been investigating similar parties since the beginning of the season. In a press release from the Sheriff’s Office in Utah County, the department states that previous allegations of sexual abuse at other raves, as well as various firearm and theft violations, were reasons for the investigation. The release continues on to state that the proper permit was not obtained before the event started.The promoters deny this allegation and insist that all permits were legally obtained before the event.

Armed with semi-automatic assault rifles, tasers, and tear gas, the police used dogs to sweep the crowd for narcotics. At least one helicopter was used in the operation, which served as a large spotlight for the ground teams. Prior to raiding the show, several unnamed police informants had reportedly told police that they had observed some “illegal activities”.

The promoter says the party took place on private property, named Child’s Ranch, with express permission from the owner. The property owner has apparently had at least one previous lawsuit with police over a similar event. Utah County requires a permit, bond and county commission approval for all gatherings with more than 250 people present and which can be expected to continue for 12 hours or more. DJ time slots and Pro Audio and Lighting contracts show that the party was scheduled to go on for no more than ten hours. According to a DJ at the event, “They presold 700 tickets and they expected up to 3,000 people total.” He added that by the time police arrived “the crowd was about 1,500”.

The police have publicly stated that only a permit from the health department was obtained, and that a Utah mass gathering permit was needed. The promoters have stated that they had the required permit, and have given a permit number (# 2005-11). Jay Stone, who handles mass gathering permits for the Utah County Health Department’s Bureau of Environmental Health Services, has confirmed that the permit was applied for and granted for the party. Officials also claim that the party had spilled over onto public land, and that more than 60 arrests were made in total – for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, underage drinking, drug possession and distribution, resisting arrest, assault on a police officer, disorderly conduct, and one instance of a weapons offense, a pistol which was found in the home of the private property owners. Among the confiscated items and drugs found were cocaine, ecstasy, marijuana, mushrooms, alcohol, and drug paraphernalia. Some of the drugs may include those confiscated from attendees by private security guards – who were also arrested.

Amateur video from the scene shows a number of SWAT police (Sheriff’s press release places the figure at 90) screaming orders at the DJs to “Shut it down now!” and yelling at others to “get out now, or I’ll kick your ass in jail.” Armed police are also seen tackling two attendees, Alaisha Matagi and Paul Maka. It is unclear from the video footage whether these actions were provoked or not. However, those shown on the two-minute long footage that are being forced to the ground do not appear to be resisting arrest. Both Matagi and Maka are charged with failure to obey a police officer and resisting arrest – Maka is also charged with interfering with police. Sheriff Jim Tracy stated in an email that both of them were tackled and arrested after assaulting a deputy, however, neither of them are being charged with assaulting a police officer.

A first hand account from a DJ booked to play at the party stated that while police were arresting a man accused of possession, the suspect was beaten to the ground and continually “kicked in the ribs” by four armed “soldiers” dressed in camouflage. The item was not shown on the video footage. According to the account, nobody resisted the policemen, and the crowd was orderly, but tear gas was thrown at the partiers as they attempted to leave as instructed. The DJ also states that police were attempting to confiscate video equipment, but an amateur video has still surfaced on the internet (see sources below). The video appears to have been taken near the DJ stand before it was moved to show more of the action.

Several attendees felt they should have the right to attend an event where drugs may be present, so long as they don’t personally use them. “While it may be true that some individuals choose to take drugs at said events like this, myself as well as many others choose to go for the music. Just like anything, you have bad apples, but you shouldn’t cut down the tree,” said one attendee. “Raves are not the only musical gatherings where drugs are used and distributed,” said another.

Other event-goers felt that the use of force in the shutdown was excessive – numerous eyewitness accounts by concertgoers describe people being beaten, tasered, or attacked with dogs. An email from Sheriff Jim Tracy stated that dogs and tasers were present at the raid, however, he also states that the tasers were not used on anyone, and that no dogs were deployed against concertgoers.

One account from an attendee, identified as “Colby”, states:

“I saw at least two people being beaten on the ground while barking, snarling dogs are held just a few feet from them. Weapons were being pointed at unarmed, peaceful civilians. A friend of mine was forced at gunpoint to put his hands on his head and turn around, because he asked if he could get his things from the tent.”

Utah County sheriff’s Sergeant Darren Gilbert also alleged that a 17-year-old girl was found overdosed on ecstasy, and was treated and released to her parents. According to an advertisement for the event, an attorney was present at the party. The local sheriff is scheduled to appear on Utah TV.

This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.

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.”

What Factors Play Into Your Heater

WcKskV5C | Windows And Doors Manufacturer | 04 14th, 2019  |  No Comments »

byadmin

There are now many reasons for you to consider replacing your heater. You can keep the current heater that you have, but you will notice many disadvantages of doing so if you take a look at what a new one can do for you. Heating Somerset County companies can help you determine if buying a new unit will be what is best for the heating of your home. You can find these companies in a number of different ways.

You can first start your search by looking locally in your area. You don’t have to drive around to see who can find you a new heater, you can look online or in the newspaper. You can find the companies that are certified and have the knowledge that it takes to properly diagnose and help you find a new heater. You can find out if they are certified by calling and asking or looking on their site. They should have no problems telling you all the training they have done and the certifications each employee has. You can then decide who you want to use for your new heater.

The Heating Somerset County company can come to your home and help you determine if the type of heater you have is efficient enough to properly heat your home. They should also be able to tell you the amount of heat loss around your heater. Many older models will have some sort of loss of heat around the unit itself because of the age and inefficiency. You can also determine if your windows and doors are creating a large heat loss in your home. You may want to replace those along with your heater to save the most money.

The size of your home will play a role in the heater you need. You want a unit big enough to heat your home, but not too big or small. If the unit is too small you will be spending a lot of money on your heating bill because it will want to run constantly to heat your home. The Heating Somerset County company that comes should be able to help you find the exact size you need after coming to your home. You can browse through their selection of models to determine how much you are going to spend. They should also tell you how much you can expect to save over the long run.