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

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.

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If You’re In The Market For A New Home Learn These Thoughts}

Submitted by: Toney Fike

The way the real estate market works may seem more simple than it appears to be. You find a house you like, you put in an offer, and you move in if accepted. Nevertheless, from finding financing to locating the right inspector, there’s so much more that goes into it. Here are some of the things you may not have known about buying real estate.

Home Evaluation

Once it is time to place an offer on a home that you want to buy, be sure to include in your offer that you would like a house inspection to figure out if the house is in good shape or requires costly repair work. A home inspector will point out potential issues that will be important in your decision to pursue the investment of the home.

Before you complete your offer on a home purchase, it is important to hire an experienced home inspector to conduct a standard evaluation on the home. This can help you prevent a pricey home buying mistake. After arranging the home inspection, plan to be there with the inspector during the entire process. Make a checklist of any questions or items of concern that you want to resolve before wrapping up the purchase of the house. A detailed inspection should take two to three hours and cover everything from the foundation to the roof.

An investment of $ 200 – $ 400 for a home inspection is certainly worth every penny. It is going to take about two to three hours to complete and will provide details on more than 400 items of the home that may be a potential complication. This inspection can save you thousands of dollars in repairs once you buy the house.

A very important tip for prospective purchasers of real estate is to exercise great care when choosing real estate agents and home inspection professionals. Make certain to seek recommendations from people you trust, and take the time to validate qualifications and credentials. Buying a house is one of the most significant financial investments in anybody’s life, and therefore it is important to enlist the aid only of those whose expertise is thoroughly established.

Obtain a thorough home inspection. Although the house may appear perfect to you, it is important to get a home inspector check it out. There are many disguised issues that the untrained eye won’t see. If the home inspector discovers a complication, you ought to be able negotiate with the seller over the cost of repairs. In some cases, the seller will agree to repair the problem prior to sale, or they can simply take the cost of repair off the sale price.

If you need to buy a home immediately, make sure to have a back-up plan. There are so many things that can occur as you look to purchase a residential property; one common problem is that the home evaluation can reveal a significant problem that you are not equipped to deal with. Rather than starting back at the beginning, have another property already in your mind.

Even if you need to buy a home in a hurry, it is very important not to miss some of the fundamental measures that you need to secure the residential property. You may think that skipping the home evaluation will spare you time, but it could possibly create you an untold number of troubles when you move into the residence.

Things like these always seem to be so obvious in hindsight, yet you would certainly be shocked at simply how many homeowners are neglecting to use pointers like these when buying homes and various other types of residential properties out there. Do not become one of the many real estate losers out there. Use the tips mentioned earlier to come out ahead on any offer.

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Petition pressures City of Edinburgh Council to review clause affecting live music scene

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Live music venues in Edinburgh, Scotland are awaiting a review later this year on the 2005 licensing policy, which places limitations on the volume of amplified music in the city. Investigating into how the policy is affecting the Edinburgh music scene, a group of Wikinews writers interviewed venue owners, academics, the City of Edinburgh Council, and local band The Mean Reds to get different perspectives on the issue.

Since the clause was introduced by the government of the city of Edinburgh, licensed venues have been prohibited from allowing music to be amplified to the extent it is audible to nearby residential properties. This has affected the live music scene, with several venues discontinuing regular events such as open mic nights, and hosting bands and artists.

Currently, the licensing policy allows licensing standards officers to order a venue to cease live music on any particular night, based on a single noise complaint from the public. The volume is not electronically measured to determine if it breaches a decibel volume level. Over roughly the past year there have been 56 separate noise complaints made against 18 venues throughout the city.

A petition to amend the clause has garnered over 3,000 signatures, including the support of bar owners, musicians, and members of the general public.

On November 17, 2014, the government’s Culture and Sport Committee hosted an open forum meeting at Usher Hall. Musicians, venue owners and industry professionals were encouraged to provide their thoughts on how the council could improve live music in the city. Ways to promote live music as a key cultural aspect of Edinburgh were discussed and it was suggested that it could be beneficial to try and replicate the management system of live music of other global cities renowned for their live music scenes. However, the suggestion which prevailed above all others was simply to review the existing licensing policy.

Councillor (Cllr) Norma Austin-Hart, Vice Convenor of the Culture and Sport Committee, is responsible for the working group Music is Audible. The group is comprised of local music professionals, and councillors and officials from Edinburgh Council. A document circulated to the Music is Audible group stated the council aims “to achieve a balance between protecting residents and supporting venues”.

Following standard procedure, when a complaint is made, a Licensing Standards Officer (LSO) is dispatched to investigate the venue and evaluate the level of noise. If deemed to be too loud, the LSO asks the venue to lower the noise level. According to a document provided by the City of Edinburgh Council, “not one single business has lost its license or been closed down because of a breach to the noise condition in Edinburgh.”

In the Scotland Licensing Policy (2005), Clause 6.2 states, “where the operating plan indicates that music is to be played in a premises, the board will consider the imposition of a condition requiring amplified music from those premises to be inaudible in residential property.” According to Cllr Austin-Hart, the high volume of tenement housing in the city centre makes it difficult for music to be inaudible.

During the Edinburgh Festival Fringe during the summer, venues are given temporary licences that allow them to operate for the duration of the festival and under the condition that “all amplified music and vocals are controlled to the satisfaction of the Director of Services for Communities”, as stated in a document from the council. During the festival, there is an 11 p.m. noise restriction on amplified music, and noise may be measured by Environmental Health staff using sophisticated equipment. Noise is restricted to 65dB(A) from the facades of residential properties; however, complaints from residents still occur. In the document from the council, they note these conditions and limitations for temporary venues would not necessarily be appropriate for permanent licensed premises.

In a phone interview, Cllr Austin-Hart expressed her concern about the unsettlement in Edinburgh regarding live music. She referenced the closure of the well-known Picture House, a venue that has provided entertainment for over half a century, and the community’s opposition to commercial public bar chain Wetherspoon buying the venue. “[It] is a well-known pub that does not play any form of music”, Cllr Austin-Hart said. “[T]hey feel as if it is another blow to Edinburgh’s live music”. “[We] cannot stop Wetherspoon’s from buying this venue; we have no control over this.”

The venue has operated under different names, including the Caley Palais which hosted bands such as Queen and AC/DC. The Picture House opened in 2008.

One of the venues which has been significantly affected by the licensing laws is the Phoenix Bar, on Broughton Street. The bar’s owner, Sam Roberts, was induced to cease live music gigs in March, following a number of noise complaints against the venue. As a result, Ms Roberts was inspired to start the aforementioned petition to have Clause 6.2 of the licensing policy reviewed, in an effort to remove the ‘inaudibility’ statement that is affecting venues and the music scene.

“I think we not only encourage it, but actively support the Edinburgh music scene,” Ms Roberts says of the Phoenix Bar and other venues, “the problem is that it is a dying scene.”

When Ms Roberts purchased the venue in 2013, she continued the existing 30-year legacy established by the previous owners of hosting live acts. Representative of Edinburgh’s colourful music scene, a diverse range of genres have been hosted at the venue. Ms Roberts described the atmosphere when live music acts perform at her venue as “electric”. “The whole community comes together singing, dancing and having a party. Letting their hair down and forgetting their troubles. People go home happy after a brilliant night out. All the staff usually join in; the pub comes alive”. However licensing restrictions have seen a majority of the acts shut down due to noise complaints. “We have put on jazz, blues, rock, rockabilly, folk, celtic and pop live acts and have had to close everything down.” “Residents in Edinburgh unfortunately know that the Council policy gives them all the rights in the world, and the pubs and clubs none”, Ms Roberts clarified.

Discussing how inaudibility has affected venues and musicians alike, Ms Roberts stated many pubs have lost profit through the absence of gigs, and trying to soundproof their venue. “It has put many musicians out of work and it has had an enormous effect on earnings in the pub. […] Many clubs and bars have been forced to invest in thousands of pounds worth of soundproofing equipment which has nearly bankrupted them, only to find that even the tiniest bit of noise can still force a closure. It is a ridiculously one-sided situation.” Ms Roberts feels inaudibility is an unfair clause for venues. “I think it very clearly favours residents in Edinburgh and not business. […] Nothing is being done to support local business, and closing down all the live music venues in Edinburgh has hurt financially in so many ways. Not only do you lose money, you lose new faces, you lose the respect of the local musicians, and you begin to lose all hope in a ‘fair go’.”

With the petition holding a considerable number of signatures, Ms Roberts states she is still sceptical of any change occurring. “Over three thousand people have signed the petition and still the council is not moving. They have taken action on petitions with far fewer signatures.” Ms Roberts also added, “Right now I don’t think Edinburgh has much hope of positive change”.

Ms Roberts seems to have lost all hope for positive change in relation to Edinburgh’s music scene, and argues Glasgow is now the regional choice for live music and venues. “[E]veryone in the business knows they have to go to Glasgow for a decent scene. Glasgow City Council get behind their city.”

Ms Martina Cannon, member of local band The Mean Reds, said a regular ‘Open Mic Night’ she hosted at The Parlour on Duke Street has ceased after a number of complaints were made against the venue. “It was a shame because it had built up some momentum over the months it had been running”. She described financial loss to the venue from cancelling the event, as well as loss to her as organiser of the event.

Sneaky Pete’s music bar and club, owned by Nick Stewart, is described on its website as “open and busy every night”.”Many clubs could be defined as bars that host music, but we really are a music venue that serves drinks”, Mr Stewart says. He sees the live music scene as essential for maintaining nightlife in Edinburgh not only because of the economic benefit but more importantly because of the cultural significance. “Music is one of the important things in life. […] it’s emotionally and intellectually engaging, and it adds to the quality of life that people lead.”

Sneaky Pete’s has not been immune to the inaudibility clause. The business has spent about 20,000 pounds on multiple soundproofing fixes designed to quell complaints from neighboring residents. “The business suffered a great deal in between losing the option to do gigs for fear of complaints, and finishing the soundproofing. As I mentioned, we are a music business that serves drinks, not a bar that also has music, so when we lose shows, we lose a great deal of trade”, said Mr Stewart.

He believes there is a better way to go about handling complaints and fixing public nuisances. “The local mandatory condition requiring ‘amplified music and vocals’ to be ‘inaudible’ should be struck from all licenses. The requirement presupposes that nuisance is caused by music venues, when this may not reasonably be said to be the case. […] Nuisance is not defined in the Licensing Act nor is it defined in the Public Health Act (Scotland) 2008. However, The Consultation on Guidance to accompany the Statutory Nuisance Provisions of the Public Health etc (Scotland) Act 2008 states that ‘There are eight key issues to consider when evaluating whether a nuisance exists[…]'”.

The eight key factors are impact, locality, time, frequency, duration, convention, importance, and avoidability. Stewart believes it is these factors that should be taken into consideration by LSOs responding to complaints instead of the sole factor of “audibility”.He believes multiple steps should be taken before considering revocation of licenses. Firstly, LSOs should determine whether a venue is a nuisance based on the eight factors. Then, the venue should have the opportunity to comply by using methods such as changing the nature of their live performances (e.g. from hard rock to acoustic rock), changing their hours of operation, or soundproofing. If the venue still fails to comply, then a board can review their license with the goal of finding more ways to bring them into compliance as opposed to revoking their license.

Nick Stewart has discussed his proposal at length with Music is Audible and said he means to present his proposal to the City of Edinburgh Council.

Dr Adam Behr, a music academic and research associate at the University of Edinburgh who has conducted research on the cultural value of live music, says live music significantly contributes to the economic performance of cities. He said studies have shown revenue creation and the provision of employment are significant factors which come about as a result of live music. A 2014 report by UK Music showed the economic value generated by live music in the UK in 2013 was £789 million and provided the equivalent of 21,600 full time jobs.

As the music industry is international by nature, Behr says this complicates the way revenue is allocated, “For instance, if an American artist plays a venue owned by a British company at a gig which is promoted by a company that is part British owned but majority owned by, say, Live Nation (a major international entertainment company) — then the flow of revenues might not be as straightforward as it seems [at] first.”

Despite these complexities, Behr highlighted the broader advantages, “There are, of course, ancillary benefits, especially for big gigs […] Obviously other local businesses like bars, restaurants and carparks benefit from increased trade”, he added.

Behr criticised the idea of making music inaudible and called it “unrealistic”. He said it could limit what kind of music can be played at venues and could force vendors to spend a large amount of money on equipment that enables them to meet noise cancelling requirements. He also mentioned the consequences this has for grassroots music venues as more ‘established’ venues within the city would be the only ones able to afford these changes.

Alongside the inaudibility dispute has been the number of sites that have been closing for the past number of years. According to Dr Behr, this has brought attention to the issue of retaining live music venues in the city and has caused the council to re-evaluate its music strategy and overall cultural policy.

This month, Dr Behr said he is to work on a live music census for Edinburgh’s Council which aims to find out what types of music is played, where, and what exactly it brings to the city. This is in an effort to get the Edinburgh city council to see any opportunities it has with live music and the importance of grassroots venues. The census is similar to one conducted in Victoria, Australia in 2012 on the extent of live music in the state and its economic benefit.

As for the solution to the inaudibility clause, Behr says the initial step is dialogue, and this has already begun. “Having forum discussion, though, is a start — and an improvement”, he said. “There won’t be an overnight solution, but work is ongoing to try to find one that can stick in the long term.”

Beverley Whitrick, Strategic Director of Music Venue Trust, said she is unable to comment on her work with the City of Edinburgh Council or on potential changes to the inaudibility clause in the Licensing Policy. However, she says, “I have been asked to assess the situation and make recommendations in September”.

According to The Scotsman, the Council is working toward helping Edinburgh’s cultural and entertainment scene. Deputy Council Leader Sandy Howat said views of the entertainment industry needs to change and the Council will no longer consider the scene as a “sideline”.

Senior members of the Council, The Scotsman reported, aim to review the planning of the city to make culture more of a priority. Howat said, “If you’re trying to harness a living community and are creating facilities for people living, working and playing then culture should form part of that.”

The review of the inaudibility clause in the Licensing Policy is set to be reviewed near the end of 2016 but the concept of bringing it forward to this year is still under discussion.

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Chameleon snake discovered in Borneo

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Scientists from the United States and Germany have discovered a new species of snake capable of changing it’s colours, in the Betung Kerihun National Park on the island of Borneo.

Researchers Mark Auliya from the Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig in Bonn and a consultant for the World Wildlife Federation(WWF), and John Murphy and Harold Voris from the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago were collecting specimens from the wetlands of the Kapuas river when they stumbled upon the snake’s colour changing ability.

“I put the reddish-brown snake in a dark bucket,” Auliya explained. “When I retrieved it a few minutes later, it was almost entirely white.”

The ability to change colour is known from some reptiles, famously the chameleon, but scientists have seen it very rarely with snakes and are yet to understand the phenomenon. In chameleons, colour change is an expression of it’s physiological condition. Skin color is also influenced by light and temperature.

The two snakes, initially brown with an iridescent sheen, are about a half metre long and venomous. The scientists named them the ‘Kapus-Mud-Snake’.

They are believed to belong to the Enhydris genus, which is composed of 22 species of rear-fanged water snakes, only two of which are widespread. The scientists believe this newly discovered snake might only occur in the Kapuas river drainage system.

“The discovery of the “chameleon” snake exposes one of nature’s best kept secrets deep in the Heart of Borneo.” Said Stuart Chapman, WWF’s international coordinator of the Heart of Borneo Programme. “Its ability to change colour has kept it hidden from science until now.”

In the last ten years 361 new animal and plants species have been discovered on the island of Borneo, however, WWF says wildlife in the region is threatened by deforestation. Today, only half of Borneo’s forest cover remains, down from 75 per cent in the mid 1980s.

There is hope, however, that this trend can be halted. Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia – the three governments which hold jurisdiction over Borneo – recently launched the Heart of Borneo initiative. This aims to preserve approximately 220,000km2 of equatorial forests and numerous wildlife species.

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Bat for Lashes plays the Bowery Ballroom: an Interview with Natasha Khan

Friday, September 28, 2007

Bat for Lashes is the doppelgänger band ego of one of the leading millennial lights in British music, Natasha Khan. Caroline Weeks, Abi Fry and Lizzy Carey comprise the aurora borealis that backs this haunting, shimmering zither and glockenspiel peacock, and the only complaint coming from the audience at the Bowery Ballroom last Tuesday was that they could not camp out all night underneath these celestial bodies.

We live in the age of the lazy tendency to categorize the work of one artist against another, and Khan has had endless exultations as the next Björk and Kate Bush; Sixousie Sioux, Stevie Nicks, Sinead O’Connor, the list goes on until it is almost meaningless as comparison does little justice to the sound and vision of the band. “I think Bat For Lashes are beyond a trend or fashion band,” said Jefferson Hack, publisher of Dazed & Confused magazine. “[Khan] has an ancient power…she is in part shamanic.” She describes her aesthetic as “powerful women with a cosmic edge” as seen in Jane Birkin, Nico and Cleopatra. And these women are being heard. “I love the harpsichord and the sexual ghost voices and bowed saws,” said Radiohead‘s Thom Yorke of the track Horse and I. “This song seems to come from the world of Grimm’s fairytales.”

Bat’s debut album, Fur And Gold, was nominated for the 2007 Mercury Prize, and they were seen as the dark horse favorite until it was announced Klaxons had won. Even Ladbrokes, the largest gambling company in the United Kingdom, had put their money on Bat for Lashes. “It was a surprise that Klaxons won,” said Khan, “but I think everyone up for the award is brilliant and would have deserved to win.”

Natasha recently spoke with David Shankbone about art, transvestism and drug use in the music business.


DS: Do you have any favorite books?

NK: [Laughs] I’m not the best about finishing books. What I usually do is I will get into a book for a period of time, and then I will dip into it and get the inspiration and transformation in my mind that I need, and then put it away and come back to it. But I have a select rotation of cool books, like Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés and Little Birds by Anaïs Nin. Recently, Catching the Big Fish by David Lynch.

DS: Lynch just came out with a movie last year called Inland Empire. I interviewed John Vanderslice last night at the Bowery Ballroom and he raved about it!

NK: I haven’t seen it yet!

DS: Do you notice a difference between playing in front of British and American audiences?

NK: The U.S. audiences are much more full of expression and noises and jubilation. They are like, “Welcome to New York, Baby!” “You’re Awesome!” and stuff like that. Whereas in England they tend to be a lot more reserved. Well, the English are, but it is such a diverse culture you will get the Spanish and Italian gay guys at the front who are going crazy. I definitely think in America they are much more open and there is more excitement, which is really cool.

DS: How many instruments do you play and, please, include the glockenspiel in that number.

NK: [Laughs] I think the number is limitless, hopefully. I try my hand at anything I can contribute; I only just picked up the bass, really—

DS: –I have a great photo of you playing the bass.

NK: I don’t think I’m very good…

DS: You look cool with it!

NK: [Laughs] Fine. The glockenspiel…piano, mainly, and also the harp. Guitar, I like playing percussion and drumming. I usually speak with all my drummers so that I write my songs with them in mind, and we’ll have bass sounds, choir sounds, and then you can multi-task with all these orchestral sounds. Through the magic medium of technology I can play all kinds of sounds, double bass and stuff.

DS: Do you design your own clothes?

NK: All four of us girls love vintage shopping and charity shops. We don’t have a stylist who tells us what to wear, it’s all very much our own natural styles coming through. And for me, personally, I like to wear jewelery. On the night of the New York show that top I was wearing was made especially for me as a gift by these New York designers called Pepper + Pistol. And there’s also my boyfriend, who is an amazing musician—

DS: —that’s Will Lemon from Moon and Moon, right? There is such good buzz about them here in New York.

NK: Yes! They have an album coming out in February and it will fucking blow your mind! I think you would love it, it’s an incredible masterpiece. It’s really exciting, I’m hoping we can do a crazy double unfolding caravan show, the Bat for Lashes album and the new Moon and Moon album: that would be really theatrical and amazing! Will prints a lot of my T-shirts because he does amazing tapestries and silkscreen printing on clothes. When we play there’s a velvety kind of tapestry on the keyboard table that he made. So I wear a lot of his things, thrift store stuff, old bits of jewelry and antique pieces.

DS: You are often compared to Björk and Kate Bush; do those constant comparisons tend to bother you as an artist who is trying to define herself on her own terms?

NK: No, I mean, I guess that in the past it bothered me, but now I just feel really confident and sure that as time goes on my musical style and my writing is taking a pace of its own, and I think in time the music will speak for itself and people will see that I’m obviously doing something different. Those women are fantastic, strong, risk-taking artists—

DS: —as are you—

NK: —thank you, and that’s a great tradition to be part of, and when I look at artists like Björk and Kate Bush, I think of them as being like older sisters that have come before; they are kind of like an amazing support network that comes with me.

DS: I’d imagine it’s preferable to be considered the next Björk or Kate Bush instead of the next Britney.

NK: [Laughs] Totally! Exactly! I mean, could you imagine—oh, no I’m not going to try to offend anyone now! [Laughs] Let’s leave it there.

DS: Does music feed your artwork, or does you artwork feed your music more? Or is the relationship completely symbiotic?

NK: I think it’s pretty back-and-forth. I think when I have blocks in either of those area, I tend to emphasize the other. If I’m finding it really difficult to write something I know that I need to go investigate it in a more visual way, and I’ll start to gather images and take photographs and make notes and make collages and start looking to photographers and filmmakers to give me a more grounded sense of the place that I’m writing about, whether it’s in my imagination or in the characters. Whenever I’m writing music it’s a very visual place in my mind. It has a location full of characters and colors and landscapes, so those two things really compliment each other, and they help the other one to blossom and support the other. They are like brother and sister.

DS: When you are composing music, do you see notes and words as colors and images in your mind, and then you put those down on paper?

NK: Yes. When I’m writing songs, especially lately because I think the next album has a fairly strong concept behind it and I’m writing the songs, really imagining them, so I’m very immersed into the concept of the album and the story that is there through the album. It’s the same as when I’m playing live, I will imagine I see a forest of pine trees and sky all around me and the audience, and it really helps me. Or I’ll just imagine midnight blue and emerald green, those kind of Eighties colors, and they help me.

DS: Is it always pine trees that you see?

NK: Yes, pine trees and sky, I guess.

DS: What things in nature inspire you?

NK: I feel drained thematically if I’m in the city too long. I think that when I’m in nature—for example, I went to Big Sur last year on a road trip and just looking up and seeing dark shadows of trees and starry skies really gets me and makes me feel happy. I would sit right by the sea, and any time I have been a bit stuck I will go for a long walk along the ocean and it’s just really good to see vast horizons, I think, and epic, huge, all-encompassing visions of nature really humble you and give you a good sense of perspective and the fact that you are just a small particle of energy that is vibrating along with everything else. That really helps.

DS: Are there man-made things that inspire you?

NK: Things that are more cultural, like open air cinemas, old Peruvian flats and the Chelsea Hotel. Funny old drag queen karaoke bars…

DS: I photographed some of the famous drag queens here in New York. They are just such great creatures to photograph; they will do just about anything for the camera. I photographed a famous drag queen named Miss Understood who is the emcee at a drag queen restaurant here named Lucky Cheng’s. We were out in front of Lucky Cheng’s taking photographs and a bus was coming down First Avenue, and I said, “Go out and stop that bus!” and she did! It’s an amazing shot.

NK: Oh. My. God.

DS: If you go on her Wikipedia article it’s there.

NK: That’s so cool. I’m really getting into that whole psychedelic sixties and seventies Paris Is Burning and Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis. Things like The Cockettes. There seems to be a bit of a revolution coming through that kind of psychedelic drag queen theater.

DS: There are just so few areas left where there is natural edge and art that is not contrived. It’s taking a contrived thing like changing your gender, but in the backdrop of how that is still so socially unacceptable.

NK: Yeah, the theatrics and creativity that go into that really get me. I’m thinking about The Fisher King…do you know that drag queen in The Fisher King? There’s this really bad and amazing drag queen guy in it who is so vulnerable and sensitive. He sings these amazing songs but he has this really terrible drug problem, I think, or maybe it’s a drink problem. It’s so bordering on the line between fabulous and those people you see who are so in love with the idea of beauty and elevation and the glitz and the glamor of love and beauty, but then there’s this really dark, tragic side. It’s presented together in this confusing and bewildering way, and it always just gets to me. I find it really intriguing.

DS: How are you received in the Pakistani community?

NK: [Laughs] I have absolutely no idea! You should probably ask another question, because I have no idea. I don’t have contact with that side of my family anymore.

DS: When you see artists like Pete Doherty or Amy Winehouse out on these suicidal binges of drug use, what do you think as a musician? What do you get from what you see them go through in their personal lives and with their music?

NK: It’s difficult. The drugs thing was never important to me, it was the music and expression and the way he delivered his music, and I think there’s a strange kind of romantic delusion in the media, and the music media especially, where they are obsessed with people who have terrible drug problems. I think that’s always been the way, though, since Billie Holiday. The thing that I’m questioning now is that it seems now the celebrity angle means that the lifestyle takes over from the actual music. In the past people who had musical genius, unfortunately their personal lives came into play, but maybe that added a level of romance, which I think is pretty uncool, but, whatever. I think that as long as the lifestyle doesn’t precede the talent and the music, that’s okay, but it always feels uncomfortable for me when people’s music goes really far and if you took away the hysteria and propaganda of it, would the music still stand up? That’s my question. Just for me, I’m just glad I don’t do heavy drugs and I don’t have that kind of problem, thank God. I feel that’s a responsibility you have, to present that there’s a power in integrity and strength and in the lifestyle that comes from self-love and assuredness and positivity. I think there’s a real big place for that, but it doesn’t really get as much of that “Rock n’ Roll” play or whatever.

DS: Is it difficult to come to the United States to play considering all the wars we start?

NK: As an English person I feel equally as responsible for that kind of shit. I think it is a collective consciousness that allows violence and those kinds of things to continue, and I think that our governments should be ashamed of themselves. But at the same time, it’s a responsibility of all of our countries, no matter where you are in the world to promote a peaceful lifestyle and not to consciously allow these conflicts to continue. At the same time, I find it difficult to judge because I think that the world is full of shades of light and dark, from spectrums of pure light and pure darkness, and that’s the way human nature and nature itself has always been. It’s difficult, but it’s just a process, and it’s the big creature that’s the world; humankind is a big creature that is learning all the time. And we have to go through these processes of learning to see what is right.

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Home of controversial book publisher set ablaze

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Four people have been arrested on terrorism charges in Islington, London, England, after a suspected petrol bombing on the house of Martin Rynja, owner of book publishing company Gibson Square.

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His company recently sparked controversy after buying the rights to publish The Jewel of Medina, a work of fiction by Sherry Jones depicting the Muslim prophet Muhammad and his child bride, Aisha.

The bombing, which occurred in the early hours of Saturday morning, led to the evacuation of the £2.5 million property in Lonsdale Square. Three men, aged 22, 30 and 40, were arrested at 2:25am BST by armed officers, two in Lonsdale Square, and one after being stopped near Angel tube station.

Police comments suggested that the trio had been under surveillance, and that they had advance knowledge of the plot and simply waited for the arsonists to strike, before arresting them.

On Saturday, a woman was arrested for obstructing police during their searches of four addresses – two in Walthamstow, and two in Ilford and Forest Gate.

Speaking earlier this month, Mr Rynja said that “The Jewel of Medina has become an important barometer of our time. As an independent publishing company, we feel strongly that we should not be afraid of the consequences of debate.” Ms Jones commented that she did not intend for her novel to be offensive to Islam. She noted that she “[has] deliberately and consciously written respectfully about Islam and Muhammad.” She “envisaged that [her] book would be a bridge builder” between Islam and the western world.

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FCC head Kevin Martin endorses telcos’ tiered Internet plan

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Kevin Martin, current head of the FCC, voiced his support on Wednesday for a tiered Internet. This plan would open the door for AT&T, BellSouth, Verizon, and other telcos to limit bandwidth to popular web sites such as Google unless those sites paid significantly higher rates.

Network neutrality is usually taken to mean that telcos and ISPs may not limit services or bandwidth, charge extra fees, or otherwise discriminate based upon a site’s identity or content type.

However, Mr. Martin said he viewed network neutrality as applying only to outright blocks, and that other forms of content- or identity-based pricing were acceptable and did not violate network neutrality.

When the telcos began their recent lobbying campaign, Professor Michael Geist (University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law) said that “While prioritising websites or applications may hold some economic promise, the lack of broadband competition and insufficient transparency surrounding these actions will rightly lead to growing calls for regulatory reform that grants legal protection for the principle of network neutrality.”

According to The Nation, the multi-tiered approach being considered by the telcos could eventually expand to set limits on the number of downloads, media streams, or even email messages.

Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) has proposed legislation to prevent a two-tiered Internet.

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Elements Of New Kitchen Design}

Elements of New Kitchen Design

by

Tim Lee

Tired of your old kitchen? Do you feel that it is looking dull and traditional? Then maybe it is time to give it a facelift. By focusing on some or all elements of new kitchen design, you are able to update your kitchen without having to spend much.

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So how does a new kitchen look like? The keyword is minimalism. With fewer fixtures, the kitchen now looks big and less cluttered, giving more space where family members can gather. For some, the modern kitchen also serves as a family room. Here are some elements of new kitchen design.First thing to consider is the appliances. Modern appliances are usually metallic. This gives the kitchen a sleek look. Cords and sockets are no longer visible. Bigger appliances like ovens and refrigerators are now built-in.The next element is the kitchen cabinets. Solid hardwood cabinets, especially if in deep or dark shades, can give your kitchen a traditional or country look, not to mention dark and gloomy. Update your cabinets by using a modern finish or paint color on the doors. You can also update them by changing the knobs and pulls with new styles. If you are not on a tight budget, you can change the entire cabinet or its door with metal or glass to match the appliances. Frosted or clear glass cabinet doors will make your kitchen look posh.Countertops, tiles and sinks must also be contemporary and, more importantly, easy to clean. Granite countertop is the most common type, and manufacturers have come up with bolder designs and colors. For tiles, decorative and colored tiles are still in. A stainless steel sink, or stylish ceramic one, would look good in a new kitchen. Do not neglect the faucets. Choose a slimmer, beautiful faucet design that would blend well with the other fixtures.Walls and ceilings must also be considered. Be experimental with paint colors and wallpaper designs. Some modern kitchen walls have textured paint, while others have murals or some interesting artwork. Choose a color that would make the kitchen look wider and brighter. It must also be of a color that would put together the whole kitchen.Other elements that may seem unimportant are flooring and lighting. What most people don’t know is that all efforts to modernizing your kitchen would be useless if the flooring and lighting is of the dark ages. There are many options for flooring. You can choose from wood, vinyl, tiles or stone. In choosing, consider the kitchen traffic and maintenance. If there is more floor activity, then the material must be able to handle that. Avoid shiny flooring, as these can cause slips and accidents. Lastly, choose the type of flooring that would complement with the cabinets and furniture. The same goes for lighting. While it is important that the kitchen is well-lit, lighting must also be attractive.

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Elements of New Kitchen Design}

Congress approves Mexican border fence

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The U.S. House of Representatives approved the building of 700 miles of double-layered fence between the U.S. and Mexico this afternoon, it was the second time in a year that the issue was before the congress and the bill passed by a 238–138 vote. The 2000 mile long border currently has 75 miles of fencing.

The bill also orders the U.S. Homeland Security Department to take over control of the border in 18 months and grants border agents new authority to stop fleeing vehicles.

It also ordered the Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff to conduct a study of the necessity and feasibility of the construction of a “state-of-the-art barrier system” along the Canadian border.

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California meat packing firm recalls 143M pounds of beef

Sunday, February 17, 2008

I am dismayed at the in-humane handling of cattle that has resulted in the violation of food safety regulations at the Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company.

In a press release today, California-based Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Co. indicated that it has voluntarily recalled just over 143 million pounds (65 million kilograms) of raw and frozen beef products, which is considered to be the largest single recall of beef products in U.S. history. The move follows an investigation by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) into allegations of animal cruelty and mishandling of cattle destined for the human food chain.

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) had determined that beef products produced by the Chino, California company were unfit for human consumption as the cattle had not received “complete and proper inspection.”

The recall has been designated as Class II, which the USDA describes as “a health hazard situation where there is a remote probability of adverse health consequences from the use of the product.”

On Friday, Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer indicated that charges had been laid against employees of the plant alleged to have taken part in the mistreatment of cattle. “Today [Friday], the San Bernardino District Attorney filed felony animal cruelty charges against two employees who were terminated by Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company,” said Schafer. “It is regrettable that these animals were mistreated and I am encouraged and supportive of these actions by the San Bernardino District Attorney in response to this mistreatment.”

The USDA learned of the possible inhumane handling of non-ambulatory (disabled) cattle at the packing plant on January 30 and has since suspended activities at the plant. “We continue to conduct a thorough investigation into whether any violations of food safety or additional humane handling regulations have occurred,” said Secretary Schafer in a press release. “On February 8, our Office of the Inspector General took the lead on the investigation. At that time, USDA extended the administrative hold on Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company products for the National School Lunch Program, the Emergency Food Assistance Program and the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations while the investigation continues,” said Schafer.

The FSIS reported that Hallmark/Westland had not contacted the FSIS public health veterinarian, as required, when cattle became ill or disabled after undergoing ante-mortem (slaughter) inspection, putting the company out of compliance with FSIS regulations. “Because the cattle did not receive complete and proper inspection FSIS has determined them to be unfit for human food and the company is conducting a recall,” explained Secretary Schafer.

The cruelty charges stem from an undercover video that reportedly showed sick cattle being moved by crews using forklifts.

“Words cannot accurately express how shocked and horrified I was at the depictions contained on the video that was taken by an individual who worked at our facility from October 3 thru November 14, 2007,” said Steve Mendell, President, Westland Meat Co. and Hallmark Meat Packing. “We have taken swift action regarding the two employees identified on the video and have already implemented aggressive measures to ensure all employees follow our humane handling policies and procedures. We are also cooperating with the USDA investigators on the allegations of inhumane handling treatment which is a serious breech of our company’s policies and training.”

The USDA stressed that it is “extremely unlikely” that the cattle involved were at risk for Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or mad-cow disease due to the employment of multiple safeguards. The USDA felt the recall was required, however, as the plant had allegedly violated USDA regulations.

The recall involves raw and frozen beef products produced on various dates from February 1, 2006 to February 2, 2008. For further information about the recall, consumers, media, and distributors are encouraged to contact Hallmark/Westland’s Plant Manager Stan Mendell or Food Safety Consultant Steve Sayer at (909) 590-3340 or the FSIS website, www.fsis.usda.gov.

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