First Christian Church

India: Maharashtra plastic ban comes into force

">
India: Maharashtra plastic ban comes into force

Monday, June 25, 2018

On Saturday, the plastic ban in the Indian state of Maharashtra came into force. In an attempt to minimise pollution, the state government has introduced a ban on single-use plastics.

The leader of the Yuya Sena political party, Aaditya Thackeray, said on Twitter, “The ban on single use disposable plastic cups, plastic bags, plastic straws, plastic plates and cutlery, styrofoam cutlery and non woven bags”. He added, “these are global issues now and we have taken a step to combat it”.

Plastic pollution has led to the choking of drains, marine pollution and a risk of animals consuming plastics. This year, India’s motto for World Environment Day — June 5 — was “Beat Plastic Pollution”. People violating the plastic ban are to face a fine of 5,000 Indian Rupees (INR) for the first offence. For the second offence, the fine is INR 10,000 and the third time offence is INR 25,000 and a three-month prison term. Deputy municipal commissioner Nidhi Choudhary said, “To weed out corruption, we plan to give inspectors payment gadgets for electronic receipts of the fines”.

The Maharashtra government has given a 90-day period for manufacturers to dispose of existing polyethylene terephthalate (PET/PETE) plastic spoons and plates, while shopkeepers and citizens in general have six months to dispose of plastics. However, the ban does not prohibit plastic usage for wrapping medicines or milk cartons thicker than 50 microns.

The state government had announced the decision for the plastic ban on March 23. According to NDTV’s report, Maharashtra is the eighteenth Indian state to enforce a state-wide plastic ban. Aaditya Thackeray also said, “I congratulate the citizens for making this into a movement, even before the ban was enforceable, giving up single use disposable plastic.”

Arkansas judge tells parents to leave Tony Alamo compound to regain custody of seized children

">
Arkansas judge tells parents to leave Tony Alamo compound to regain custody of seized children

Sunday, November 23, 2008

An Arkansas judge has told the parents of two teenage girls taken from a religious compound run by Tony Alamo that the children can be returned to their parents if the parents agree to leave the compound and secure financial independence away from the controversial “Tony Alamo Christian Ministries” organization. The two girls, ages 16 and 14, were removed from the compound along with four other girls in a September 20 raid conducted by state, federal law enforcement officials and FBI. Authorities raided the compound while investigating allegations of physical and child sexual abuse.

The controversial evangelist leader of the organization, Tony Alamo, 74, was himself arrested on September 25 in Flagstaff, Arizona on charges of sexually abusing children and allegedly transporting a young girl across state lines in order to commit sexual acts with her – a violation of the Mann Act. He waived extradition from Arizona to Arkansas. Alamo has previously been convicted on charges of tax evasion. He was born as Bernie Hoffmann, and started the Tony and Susan Alamo Christian Foundation in 1969 with his wife Susan.

Texas Human Services caseworkers took another 20 children into custody on Tuesday in investigations into properties controlled by the organization in Fouke, Texarkana and Fort Smith, Arkansas. According to Associated Press, nine girls and 11 boys ages 1 to 17 were taken into care of the state Tuesday. The children were given health screenings by the state on Wednesday, and received mental health and education assessments. Department of Human Services spokeswoman Julie Munsell said that the children taken by the state on Tuesday had no signs of poor health, and did not need any pressing medical attention. The children were placed in foster care in Arkansas, and Miller County Circuit Judge Kirk Johnson will convene a hearing Monday to determine if these children should stay in foster care.

KTBS reported that three of the boys were taken by the state from the courthouse while they were with their parents attending the hearings on the two girls taken September 20. Circuit Judge Joe Griffin gave the order authorizing seizure of the children by the state, on allegations of physical abuse and neglect. Judge Griffin’s order found that there was probable cause that other children at the Tony Alamo compound properties were at risk of abuse and neglect, and may have already been abused. According to a report Thursday in the Texarkana Gazette, over one hundred children from the Tony Alamo compound that were part of a court order to be taken into state custody may be outside reach of child welfare services and unaccounted for, if they were taken over state lines. Arkansas State Police searched over 12 locations Tuesday, but no children were found at the Fort Smith location.

I am not trying to infringe on their religious practices, only the practices that were found to be neglectful or abuse.

In a hearing which concluded Friday night, Judge Jim Hudson of Miller County Circuit explained that his ruling was influenced by a recommendation from the Arkansas Department of Human Services. Human Services asserted that girls at the Fouke compound were at risk of sexual abuse, and that beatings were meted out as punishment at the compound. Human Services also alleged that one of the two girls had been a witness to abuse, and that the other was herself subjected to being beaten at the compound. Judge Hudson stated: “It seems from their recommendation that they don’t see a way that the problems with abuse and neglect could be solved within the context of that very tightly knit community.”

“I am not trying to infringe on their religious practices, only the practices that were found to be neglectful or abuse,” said Judge Hudson after the hearing had concluded. Judge Hudson made his ruling after hearing three days of testimony regarding the allegations of child abuse at the Tony Alamo compound.

You do not have a constitutional right to subject your children to sexual abuse because it’s in line with your religious beliefs.

The director of the Arkansas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, Rita Sklar, stated that she did not have any objections to restrictions on religion, if the welfare of a child was involved. “It doesn’t sound problematic to keep the children away from what seems to be a very dangerous situation. You do not have a constitutional right to subject your children to sexual abuse because it’s in line with your religious beliefs,” said Sklar in a statement in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

The Texarkana Gazette reported that Tony Alamo released a statement from his jail cell regarding the testimony given this week regarding the allegations of abuse made against him. With regard to claims made by the 14-year-old girl who testified in court that Alamo molested her when she was 12-years-old and living at his house, Alamo stated: “She’s a liar right out of the pit of hell.” Alamo went on to state that he was: “being found guilty without a presumption of innocence … I have no say in what’s going on. This is one-sided and I can’t be heard.”

An arrest warrant was issued by Fort Smith police for John Erwin Kolbeck, 49, who allegedly served as an enforcer for Alamo. Kolbeck is accused of beating Alamo’s followers for offenses against him and the organization, and Little Rock FBI spokesman Steve Frazier told the AP that a federal warrant for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution was drawn out in the past week for Kolbeck.

He said don’t tell anybody what happened here or I’ll have John (Kolbeck) beat you and I’ll take care of you.

According to the AP, the 14-year-old girl testified Monday that Alamo placed his hand over her mouth while she was showering, and then touched her inappropriately. He then threatened her by saying the name of his alleged enforcer Kolbeck. “He said don’t tell anybody what happened here or I’ll have John (Kolbeck) beat you and I’ll take care of you. Nobody would’ve believed me, anyway. Everybody thinks he’s a prophet here,” stated the 14-year-old girl in court, reported the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

Judge Hudson stated that a review of the case is scheduled for February 14 and subsequently every 90 days thereafter in order to assess if the girls’ parents are in compliance with the Judge’s request. If the parents are seen to be out of compliance, the state may recommend termination of parental rights. Hearings are expected next week with regard to the status of the other four girls that were removed from the compound September 20. Tony Alamo is himself scheduled for trial on February 2.

Home of controversial book publisher set ablaze

">
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.

HAVE YOUR SAY
Should books that could be considered offensive to some religions still be published?
Add or view comments

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.

categories Uncategorized | | comments Comments (0)

Chrysler files for bankruptcy, Fiat Group SpA to run company

">
Chrysler files for bankruptcy, Fiat Group SpA to run company

Friday, May 1, 2009

The American auto company Chrysler filed for bankruptcy Thursday, however a deal with European auto maker Fiat went through. The emerging Chrysler will be owned 55 percent by the United Auto Workers, eight percent by the United States Government, two percent by the Canadian Government and Fiat would begin with a 20 percent share.

Chrysler Chief Executive Robert Nardelli will step down when the bankruptcy proceedings are finalized.

Initially, the Italian company, Fiat, will appoint three members on the emerging Chrysler’s new board, and the United States government will appoint six. Fiat can assume the majority of the ownership upon repayment of American loans.

Chrysler administrators expect that the bankruptcy should take a couple of months.

“We expect this to be a very short, 30-to-60-day bankruptcy process, during which the company will function normally,” a top administration official said, “People will be able to buy cars, they will have their warranties honored, and everything should go on normally.”

The bankruptcy filing indicated that Chrysler was in debt to 20 creditors to a tune of more than $10 million each.

Meanwhile, the deal with Fiat did go through, and Chrysler should have cars designed by Fiat out on the market by 2011.

“It’s a partnership that will give Chrysler a chance not only to survive, but to thrive in a global auto industry,” said American president Obama, “Fiat has demonstrated that it can build the clean, fuel-efficient cars that are the future of the industry.”

However, automotive analyst Erich Merkle has hesitations.

“History would show that alliances really don’t work that well,” Merkle said, “even though, no matter how good they may look on paper.”

The restructuring has been managed by Steve Rattner, a former investment banker, and the U.S. Government auto task force.

Obama has set three ultimatums before Fiat. Fiat should produce a 40 mile per gallon vehicle while managing the new Chrysler, transfer fuel efficient Fiat technology to Chrysler factories in the United States, and produce cars in Chrysler factories and distribute them in Europe.

categories Uncategorized | August 4, 2019 | comments Comments (0)

Danish clothing company sells T-shirts to support FARC and PFLP

">
Danish clothing company sells T-shirts to support FARC and PFLP

Friday, January 20, 2006

A recently created Danish clothing company is selling on the internet T-shirts in order to support the clandestine radio station of the Colombian guerrilla group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the graphical workshop of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). In fact the money will be used by these groups to carry on their terrorist activities. FARC activities include kidnappings, masacres, bombs, extortions and the drug trade.

Fighters and Lovers is selling the T-shirts at 170 DKK (US$27.6), from which 35 DKK (US$5.7) are to be destinated to support both armed groups.

Anna Duever, Fighters and Lovers PR chief, said to Spanish news agency EFE that their objective is to “defend freedom and social justice, which is FARC and PFLP are fighting for”. Duever believes the fact the FARC has been included by the EU in its terrorist group list is a “political game”. “We pay our taxes in Denmark, and that money is used for financing the troops our government has sent to Iraq. That’s terrorism. Besides, in Colombia there’s a regime oppressing population and torturing and killing its people”, she said.

Colombian Foreign Affairs Minister, Carolina Barco, said to local media that “financing terrorist groups is unacceptable and goes against all the international norms. Yesterday [Tuesday 19] our ambassador contacted the Danish government, we sent a protest note and have demanded an explanation.”

A year ago, a Danish NGO named Oprør (“Rebelion”) stated it had donated money to the Colombian guerrilla. A new antiterrorism law in Denmark may punish it.

categories Uncategorized | July 5, 2019 | comments Comments (0)

Vivien Goldman: An interview with the Punk Professor

">
Vivien Goldman: An interview with the Punk Professor

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Vivien Goldman recalls with a laugh the day in 1984 when she saw her death, but the laugh fades as she becomes lost in the memory. She was in Nigeria staying in Fela Kuti‘s home; she had just arrived hours before and found people sleeping everywhere like house cats when Muhammadu Buhari‘s army showed up to haul everyone to jail. Kuti was an opponent of the government who was in jail, and they came to arrest his coterie of supporters. They grabbed Goldman and were about to throw her in a truck until Pascal Imbert, Kuti’s manager, yelled out, “Leave her alone. She just arrived from Paris! She’s my wife! She knows nothing!

Goldman stops for a moment and then smiles plainly. “They thought I was just some stupid woman…. That time sexism worked in my favor.”

Vivien Goldman has become a living, teaching testimony of the golden era of punk and reggae. She is an adjunct professor at New York University who has taught courses on the music scene she was thrust in the middle of as a young public relations representative for Island Records. She writes a column for the BBC called “Ask the Punk Professor” where she extols the wisdom she gained as a confidant of Bob Marley; as the person who first put Flava Flav in video; as Chrissie Hynde‘s former roommate; as the woman who worked with the The Clash, Sex Pistols, The Slits and The Raincoats.

As Wikinews reporter David Shankbone found out, Goldman is one of those individuals that when you sit in her presence you realize she simply can not tell you everything she knows or has seen, either to protect the living or to respect the dead.


DS: The first biography of Bob Marley, Soul Rebel, Natural Mystic, was written by you based upon your personal experiences with him, and you have recently written a book about Marley called The Book of Exodus. How difficult is it to continue to mine his life? Is it difficult to come up with new angles?

VG: The original biography was written in a weekend and it was based upon my extensive interviews with him, whereas the Exodus book took two and a half years. I must have been a year past deadline, because it kept on growing. Even I had to acknowledge it was a more mature work. After I wrote the first one, all these other people came out with books. I read them, and they were all good in their different ways, but there was a story that had not been told but that I had lived so intensely, a deep story that had shaped my whole life. It demanded I write a book about it. Nobody else has the experience, and I still have that oompf.

DS: You were there with Marley through that time when he really caught on; was it obvious to you then that there was something amazing and unique happening?

VG: It was really something, and it was huge, but I didn’t examine it then. I believed in Bob with every fiber of my being, but it was hard to realize how everybody in the world would get it in the end, and just how towering a figure and enduring he would prove to be. He deserves everything and more; the role that he occupies is so central. It would have been hard to envisage how huge he became, though.

DS: Warhol’s Factory photographer, Billy Name, once told me he knew that what was going on was amazing, but he never thought Warhol would become the entire fabric of the art world as he is now.

VG: Especially in New York. Warhol was so associated with the punk scene.

DS: But Marley has become a fabric of sorts…

VG: Oh, he’s beyond the fabric of reggae, he’s the fabric of the rebel spirit. Now everybody just puts on a little red, green and gold and they feel it identifies them as being there in the struggle. Even if it is someone flying to the Hamptons for the weekend, they bring out Marley to expresses the rebel aspect they don’t want to completely lose.

DS: How do you define punk?

VG: There are two things. First, the aesthetic: harder, faster, louder. But the second thing is what interested me more, which was the rebel spirit and attitude. That free spirit of punk; that implicit sense of wanting to change a system that is always unfair wherever you are, except for maybe in the Netherlands. But it’s become so commodified

DS: What is the commodified version of punk selling?

VG: Edgy and dangerous. It is amazing: you open the New York Times and the free bits fall out and you get Urban Outfitters or Old Navy with lines of punk kiddie clothes. K-mart, even. I was trying to see what was so deeply punk about those clothes. They were maybe more colorful or something, but they weren’t punk. It’s like the Swarovski crystal take on punk, I mean, please!

DS: That aesthetic is everywhere, as though if one spikes his hair he is punk.

VG: Well, the punk is in the heart, to paraphrase Deee-Lite. I was writing about Good Charlotte and The Police. They adopted the trappings of punk. They aren’t bad groups, but the punk aspect is more manifested by somebody like Manu Chao. He’s one of the punkiest artists out there I can think of. It’s an inclusionary spirit that is punk.

DS: Your philosophy is that punk is not just musical, but also an aesthetic. That it can imbibe anything; that it stands for change and for changing a system. Let me give you a few names, and you to tell me how you think they are or are not punk. Britney Spears.

VG: Oh, no she’s not punk. Punk is not just about wearing smeary black eyeliner, but some sense of engagement. That’s it in a nutshell. She doesn’t have that sense of engagement. She is society.

DS: Dick Cheney.

VG: He is the essence of Babylonian, old structure capitalism, which is about greed and how much one can take for himself. I could see capitalism that is mutually beneficial, such as ‘I want a bigger customer base,’ but they don’t. Take a place I know well like Jamaica. I don’t know if you have seen that documentary Life and Debt, about how the INF squeezed everything out of Jamaica, but that’s a typical thing that happens. Instead of building these people up and paying them a living wage for their work, where we could sell more to them, we just want to suck everything out of the place. Suck the sugar, suck the labor. And that is not very punk. It’s the opposite of punk. That’s what Dick Cheney represents to me. He tries to bring about change, but change that just fattens his pocket. It’s not thinking of the community, and that’s what punk is about.

DS: Kanye West.

VG: He seems to be a positive force. In that sense, I would file him slightly under punk.

DS: Osama bin Laden.

VG: He thinks he is a punk, but he’s too destructive. If I was sitting in the madrassa in the desert chanting the Koran seven days a week, I’d think, yeah, he’s a punk. But I’m not, so I don’t.

DS: Is the definition of punk relative, then? He’s a Madrasah punk but not a Manhattan punk?

VG: Having said that, they would loathe punks, so I think we can safely say, not a punk.

DS: Pete Doherty.

VG: Oh yeah, I think he’s a punk. He’s a punk and he engages with the system in terms of how a powerful a presence he’s become. He is the Keith Richards of his day.

DS: If punk is about change, then why the maudlin sentimentality over the closing of CBGB‘s, which at times turned into demonizing a homeless shelter?

VG: Yeah, and they had not paid their rent, had they? I sided with the homeless shelter in a way, except I thought the whole thing was ridiculous because somebody should have stepped in and bought it and paid it and fixed it up, in the sense there is no shrine. They don’ think about the tourism, do they? I expect that of America now. Los Angeles just destroyed the Brown Derby, and the modernist architecture. That’s the thing about America. There seems to be very little regard for legacy. I think they should have kept CBGBs, but I think that more cynically. My students had a huge debate about it.

DS: I felt it was what it was at a certain moment, but it wasn’t that anymore. They were charging eight dollars for a beer. That’s not very punk, and that wasn’t attracting the punk crowds. It was like people who move to the Bowery because they think it’s so edgy but it’s really a boulevard of glittering condos.

VG: Nostalgie pour la boue: nostalgia for the mud. Not all of them, though. Patti Smith. Anyway, the spirit had moved on to Williamsburg.

DS: Where do you think New York’s culture is going? There are so few places on Earth with such a large concentration of creatives who meet and influence each other, but the city is becoming less affordable and cleansed of any grit. Is there a place for punk in the Manhattan of the future?

VG: They are flushing out the artists. Manhattan is now a ghetto for the very rich. When punk started it was in weird places, places you broke into and that had never been used for shows. It was never in regular venues, but now every nook and cranny is a regular venue and it doesn’t leave much space for the old punk spirit. ABC No Rio, I think they manage to work it in the system. And there are places like The Stone, John Zorn‘s place, which has avant-garde free form jazz. He subsidizes that place, so it remains a little haven. There are a few little pockets, but it has a lot do with the rent. Realistically, there’s loads of stuff happening in places like Brooklyn, more than there seems to be in Manhattan. When I jammed with The Slits, that happened at some after-hours thing in Brooklyn in some warehouse. I remember loads of things in funny places. The first time I heard Public Enemy I was on the rooftop of a building.

DS: You’re friends with Flava Flav, right?

VG: Yes, although I haven’t seen him in a very long time. I remember how I met him. I was doing this video for I Ain’t No Joke with Erik B and Rakim, and they weren’t very vibey in terms of the stagecraft, as it were. The projection. Not to diss anybody, but I needed someone to bring a bit more life into it; it was very low-budget, a vérité kind of shoot. We were in a playground in the projects and there were all these blokes hanging around, and there was one who was super-sprightly, like a live wire. I didn’t know it was Flava Flav and I shouted out, Hey, you, will you come over and be groovy for us? and he did and a lot of the action in the video is Flava Flav spinning around, doing a Dervish in the middle of the playground.

DS: At the time he wasn’t known?

VG: Well, it turned out he was in a group called Public Enemy. The first time I heard them was at a rooftop party, and it’s one of my great New York memories. It was a warehouse building that’s still there behind Houston and Bowery and I remember it was amazing because you never heard music like that before. It was blaring. It was so hot and we were in the middle of the city with graffiti on the walls, people smoking spliffs. It was very free. You don’t see that anymore. Everything is more heavily policed.

DS: Do you think apathy is a problem today?

VG: There’s less intelligent, critical content in general, and celebrity magazines pay the most and sell the most. It’s the Lowest Common Denominator. Britney Spears is an unbelievable example. She’s so young with no good guidance around her, and she is fodder for them to sell more magazines. There’s a gladiator aspect of it: the worse off she is, the better for that industry. But I’m still looking for the people who have conscience. Michael Franti, he’s one of the only ones I look to now. He had that band Spearhead. I’m looking around for conscious artists.

DS: What about G. G. Allin? He used to defecate on the stage to make a point.

VG: That’s quite extreme, and very unhygienic. I wouldn’t need to see that. I don’t think that’s necessarily punk, it’s just scatological. Some people might think it’s punk, but I personally wouldn’t dig it. It’s outrageous, but not in the way I find interesting.

DS: Well, he’s dead. Do you think people are afraid to speak out today?

VG: I guess in Vietnam you did, but now the culture isn’t nearly as organized.

DS: Is violence for the cause of social change punk?

VG: Violence will occur in social change. Violence has always been associated with punk, although punk wants peace in a way. When you look at all the bands in punk, like No Future and Blank Generation, it has implicit an aspiration to a place where you don’t have to be violent. Often it happens. The punk era was violent. Very, very violent. So many people were beaten up during those days. I’m very much a peacenik, but violence often happens, one observes, on the road to social change.

DS: Sandra Bernhard once did an homage to what she called the Big-Tittied Bitches of Rock n’ Roll: Heart, Joan Jett, Stevie Nicks. She mourned that there were no big-tittied bitches left. Who are the big-tittied bitches of Rock n’ Roll today?

VG: M.I.A. Tanya Stephens. Joan Jett, still. The Slits, who still suffer from the system and they are still brilliant. Male bands of that statute would have more deals. Big-tittied in terms of cojones, as opposed to cleavage as such.

DS: Do you have moments of extreme self-doubt where you wonder if anything you do matters to anyone?

VG: I have a lot of moments of extreme self-doubt, but you have to be humble and listen to what people say. Although I was never top of the New York Times book chart, I know people have liked my stuff, and that keeps me going. The classes have been amazing. I had done a lot of television and media, but it was the first time I had done something one-on-one. It was the old cliche that a person learns as much as they teach. Loads of my old students keep in touch with me; one wrote to me to tell me he is free-lancing for XXL and some other rap magazines, and how the classes really have been useful and he always refers to them. Even just one person is gratifying and encourages me to continue my work.

DS: You have worked for two corporations that are seen by many as the least punk in their respective communities, the BBC and NYU. How does one remain punk in such environments?

VG: I’m a freelancer. I go in, do my thing, and if they don’t like it then I don’t do it anymore. I stay true to myself, and if it doesn’t work out then I guess ‘fuck off’ on both sides. I haven’t had to compromise myself; nobody has asked me to. BBC America is a different animal than the BBC. As long as I can say what I want to say; I think people come to me because they know what they are getting.

DS: Have you ever been in a situation where you feared for your life, where you thought, this may be the way I go?

VG: There was a lot of violence in the punk times and I got beaten up in street brawls. I particularly remember once in Nigeria… I was there to make a documentary for Channel 4 about Fela Kuti. He was in jail at that time and he wanted to draw attention to his plight to showcase what was going on in Nigeria. It was hard to get through customs because my guides weren’t there to meet me. I found them hiding in the carpark because the police were after them.
We went to Fela’s house where I was going to stay; we went to the shrine and it was amazing. The whole house was covered in people sleeping. I was woken up by this little girl very early in the morning, only about two hours later. She was tapping me on the shoulder and when I looked around there was nobody there, whereas it had been covered in people. She said, “Come! Come! The army is here!”
I went outside and there was the army arresting everyone. People were lined up against the wall. Pascal Imbert, a French guy who was managing Fela, was already on the truck and they were about to take him away. There were all these really serious, heavey Nigerian soldiers with machine guns around. Not friendly, more like stone-faced Belsen guards. It was like that Bob Marley song Ambush in the Night: there were four guns aiming at me. They all turned their guns on me and said, “What should we do with her?” From the truck Pascal shouts out, “Leave her alone! She’s my wife! She’s just arrived from Paris! She doesn’t know anything!” The combination of the words “She’s my wife, she doesn’t’ know anything” were enough. Of course, I had neither arrived from Paris nor was his wife. But they just left me alone; they thought I was just some stupid woman. That time sexism worked in my favor. [Laughs] She doesn’t know anything! They were about to take Pascal away and I rushed up to the head guy very bravely—Pascal always gives me props for this—and I said, “Where are you taking my husband?!” They were actually taking him to a secret jail.

DS: What happened to him in the secret jail?

VG: There’s a documentary about it. He got very thin, he contracted dysentry and he got various diseases. No food, or terrible food. Luckily for him after some months there was an amnesty and he was amongst the prisoners who were released. That was a very heavy moment. I thought I would die, either right then or in a Nigerian jail.

DS: In Jamaica there was so much violence during the civil war.

VG: I’ve seen a lot of death. Many of the people I knew in Jamaica are dead. I think of them a lot; like my very, very close friend Massive Dread. He did so much for the community. At Christmas he’d hold a big party for the kids, and all the rival gangs would come. He was trying to break up some of the coke runnings. They started to have crack dens in Trenchtown and he worked against those. He was opening a library called the Trenchtown Reading Center, in the middle of this broken down ghetto, where kids could sit down to do homework and read books in this nice courtyard. It was really worthwhile.

categories Uncategorized | | comments Comments (0)

Wikinews Shorts: December 9, 2008

">
Wikinews Shorts: December 9, 2008

A compilation of brief news reports for Tuesday, December 9, 2008.

Contents

  • 1 US media group Tribune files for bankruptcy protection
  • 2 Quebec votes in general election
  • 3 Bailout for US automakers nears agreement
 Contribute to Wikinews by expanding these briefs or add a new one.

The United States media group Tribune Company has filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday as it struggled to sort out its US$13 billion debt. It is the second-largest newspaper publisher in the United States, responsible for the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, among others.

The firm has been hit hard by the industry-wide slump in newspaper advert revenues this year. Sam Zell, the billionaire who owns Tribune, took out large loans in order to buy the firm back in June of 2007.

The United States Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection law states that a company can continue trading whilst it sorts out its finances.

Sources


 This story has updates See Quebec’s Liberal premier Jean Charest wins third term 

The Quebec general election is underway in the Canadian province of Quebec. Premier Jean Charest called the elections, saying he needed a majority to guide Quebec through a period of economic difficulties caused by the worldwide financial crisis.

Polls indicate that the Charest may obtain a majority, with support for his Quebec Liberal Party increasing to 45%, while support for the Parti Québécois remains at around 30%.

The polls will close at 01:00 GMT (20:00 local time), and the results will probably come in soon after that.

Sources


The United States government is reportedly close to an agreement for a US$15 billion bailout plan for the country’s three largest auto firms.

According to a draft obtained by the Associated Press, the deal would give loans to Detroit‘s struggling Big Three automobile manufacturersFord, General Motors, and Chrysler — but under the condition that the auto industry restructures itself to survive. Another condition is that the incumbent US President, George W. Bush, would appoint an overseer to supervise the effort.

Analysts suggest that the agreement could be signed into law by the end of this week.

Sources


categories Uncategorized | July 1, 2019 | comments Comments (0)

Dubai receives bailout from Abu Dhabi

">
Dubai receives bailout from Abu Dhabi

Monday, December 14, 2009

The government of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates has agreed to give US$10 billion to its neighboring emirate, allowing the state-owned Dubai World conglomerate to repay its immediate debt obligations. Dubai says more than $4 billion of the injection will be given to Dubai World’s property firm, Nakheel, to repay its Islamic bond that matures Monday. The remaining funds will go towards additional expenses.

News of the last-minute bailout caused Asian stocks to rebound and pushed European shares up, which saw gains for a third straight session. Markets in the UAE also rose, with Dubai’s index moving up by 10 percent and Abu Dhabi’s jumping by seven percent. Despite the good news, Algebra Capital Managing Director Dino Kronfol says Dubai is not out of the woods yet. “This is not something that is going to be resolved in a matter of weeks. It’s going to take some time,” Kronfol said. “It’s going to involve restructuring and we’ll have to see how that transpires. But nonetheless, this is a positive development today.”

The situation is completely different from just a few weeks ago, when Dubai World shook up global markets by asking for a standstill on its $26 billion debt. The government of Dubai made matters worse when it announced it would not guarantee the state-owned company’s bills.

Dubai World’s creditors still need to approve the standstill and effectively have until December 28 to make a decision. That is when the grace period of Nakheel’s bond ends. The government of Dubai has issued a new law allowing the conglomerate to file for bankruptcy if its restructuring is not successful. But Kronfol says, if the process focuses on necessary aspects, it will succeed.

“If the restructuring actually deals with Dubai’s contingent liabilities,” Kronfol said, “as a long-term solution, this actually really will help put the whole debt situation of Dubai behind us and really allow the markets to look more positively at 2010 and beyond.”

Government sources say Dubai World’s restructuring process could include asset sales, but they would be limited to the Nakheel and Limitless companies and not include Istithmar World, which owns U.S. Luxury retailer Barneys.

categories Uncategorized | June 20, 2019 | comments Comments (0)

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

">
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.

categories Uncategorized | June 10, 2019 | comments Comments (0)

Nepal Parliament passes resolution to curb King’s power

">
Nepal Parliament passes resolution to curb King’s power

Thursday, May 18, 2006Prime Minister of Nepal, Giriraj Koirala proposed in Parliament a resolution which is aimed at drastically curtailing the monarch’s powers. According to the resolution, the King will be stripped of his status as the Supreme Commander of the Royal Nepal Army (which is to be renamed as the Nepal Army Cabinet). Portions of the Nepalese national anthem that praise the King have been cut.

The proposal also aims at cutting down on the King’s allowance and his right to be exempted from paying taxes. The government which is currently referred to as the “King’s administration” will henceforth be known as the “Nepalese Government”. The resolution also changes Nepal’s status from that of a Hindu nation to a secular one. The King’s Advisory Council will no longer exist and his security will be taken care of by Parliament. The King will also now no longer have the privilege of being above the law of the land since the resolution provides for him to be tried in court if the situation so warrants.

Analysts have expressed concerns saying that under the current Constitution, this proposal cannot become law till the King signs it. Politicians say however that this proposal is above the Constitution and reflects the will of the people. King Gyanendra restored democracy to the Himalayan Kingdom after weeks of massive anti-monarchy protests earlier this year.

categories Uncategorized | | comments Comments (0)