China offers Africa financial aid including $10 billion in loans
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China offers Africa financial aid including $10 billion in loans

Sunday, November 8, 2009

China has offered Africa concessional loans worth US$10 (€6.5) billion as part of a host of new measures aimed at improving the economy of African nations. The announcement was made at the opening of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. Leaders of nearly 50 African countries are attending the two-day conference.

China had already stated today at the 3rd Conference of Chinese and African Entrepreneurs, held immediately before the FOCAC, that Chinese firms would be encouraged to invest in Africa, while both sides would work together to improve the tourism, telecommunications and finance industries. China also said that governments should work with businesses to ensure co-operation between China and Africa.

As well as the loans, made over three years, China will write off the debt of Africa’s poorest countries, build 100 African green energy facilities and systematically lower import duties on 95% of all African products exported to China. Another promise is a loan of one billion dollars aimed at small and medium sized businesses in Africa. There will also be efforts to promote each other’s culture and increased medical assistance to Africa. Medical assistance comes in the form of 500 million yuan (US$73.2 million) of goods for the 60 hospitals and malaria centers China has already built, as well as 3,000 doctors and nurses. Roads will also be improved.

China also plans to assist with satellite weather monitoring, to help combat desertification and work within the urban environment, all aimed at reducing global warming. The new energy facilities will focus on solar, biogas and small-scale hydroelectrical installations. Another new measure is a promise to aid African farmers to ensure the continent is fed, increasing the number of demonstrations of agricultural technology in Africa to 20 and sending 50 teams of agricultural technology experts to the continent. Training in agricultural technology will be provided to 2,000 people.

“The Chinese people cherish sincere friendship toward the African people, and China’s support to Africa’s development is concrete and real,” said co-chair Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao as the FOCAC opened up, adding “Whatever change that may take place in the world, our friendship with African people will not change.” He described this friendship as ‘unbreakable’. Two years ago China pledged US$5 (€3.37) billion at the last FOCAC in Beijing and now, according to Jiabao, “China is ready to deepen practical cooperation in Africa.”

We want more investment from China

China has fulfilled its 2006 pledge, investing a total of US$7.8 (€5.26) billion in Africa last year alone. 49 African countries are represented at the FOCAC, which was created in 2000, although Jiabao noted that relations between China and Africa go back fifty years. China had already forgiven or reduced the debt for thirty nations at that FOCAC summit.

According to Chinese state-owned paper China Daily, trade between China and Africa increased by 45% last year, to give a total value of US$107 (€72.1) billion, a tenfold increase since 2001 and up from US$491 (€331) million in 2003. The Chinese have a 9.8% market share, the largest of any nation, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. China has paid for schools, hospitals, malaria clinics and Chinese scholarships for African students. 50 more schools are to be built and 1,500 people trained to staff them.

Since 2006 Chinese energy firms have committed to spend at least US$16 (€10.8) billion securing African oil and gas. China’s Sinopec Group, an oil giant, bought up Addax Petroleum Corporation from its Swiss owners that year, gaining control of oilfields in Nigeria, Cameroon and Gabon. China promised earlier this year to spend US$9 (€6) billion on infrastructure in the Congo in exchange for mineral deposits for mining operations.

Jean Ping, leader of the African Union, said the told those at the conference that the money is coming at an opportune time, because African growth was “totally compromised” by the global financial crisis. Ping said one of the lessons learned is that the world is paying for “the irresponsible and lax behavior” of large financial companies whose philosophy was to make short-term profits.

We thank China particularly for backing efforts by our countries to achieve peace and stability in Africa’s zones of conflict

Not all Africans are happy with China’s increasing involvement in their continent. Trade practices are a concern for some, with a view that China exploits Africa for raw materials before selling back finished goods. Among these are Egyptian Trade and Industry Minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid. Egypt is the richest nation in the Middle East and is discussing this perceived issue with China. Rachid told Bloomberg “What is a worry for me is if competition is unfair. That is where we are unhappy.” Jiabao described the trade as being based on “win-win programmes… and transparency.”

Others in Africa are delighted with the situation. “We want more investment from China,” Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete told the forum. Egypt’s own President Hosni Mubarak talked of “peace, security and growth,” and of “boosting cooperation between China and Africa.”

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Jiabao also used his speech to respond to criticisms that China worked with nations regardless of their human rights record, such as Sudan, whose President Omar al-Beahir is wanted on a warrant issued by the International Criminal Court for war crimes. “Africa is fully capable of solving its own problems, in an African way,” he said, adding that “China has never attached any political strings […] to assistance to Africa.”

Beshir thanked China in a speech for diplomatic work in Sudan, including working to defuse the Darfur conflict, which the United Nations says has left 300,000 dead. “We express our deep appreciation for China’s efforts in backing the comprehensive peace agreement in Sudan and its peace efforts in Darfur,” he said, referring to a peace deal between the northern and southern parts of his country. “We thank China particularly for backing efforts by our countries to achieve peace and stability in Africa’s zones of conflict.” Jiabao said China was willing to work towards “the settlement of issues of peace and security,” in Africa.

A further criticism has been that China has brought in Chinese workers and used their own knowledge, instead of training locals. Jiabao’s speech indicated an intention to co-operate better in the fields of science and technology, as well as improve training for African students on technical courses.

“Why do some only criticise China?” asked Jiabao. “Is this a view representing African countries, or rather the view of Western countries?”

Law School In Los Angeles

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When you want to practice law and are looking for a Law School In Los Angeles. The first thing you should do is to know about what qualification you want to pursue. For example if you are looking for Law Degrees

Here are some things you should consider when looking for a law school:

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Cost: you should make sure that you can afford the school you want to go to otherwise you may have to leave the degree before you are finished.Academic reputation: this is important because you want to know how many students pass and the average grade.Location: the school should be located in a place that has good environments. This is so you do not struggle to find things e.g. shops.Support for students: you want a place that has mentoring, writing labs and any other support you would need.Your credentials: you have to have met the required history that is needed to be accepted into the school.

You may have your own requirements so take those into consideration.

The best advice about applying for a school is to be honest with yourself about your credentials that way you are not disappointed if you are not accepted. You may realize that your UGPA (undergraduate grade point average) or LSAT doesn’t meet the required level to be accepted in the school. On the other hand if you have met the required levels then you can go to the school and ask them any questions;

Suggestions:

What extra-curricular activities they offer.The facilities they have to offer (library, computer resources).What are the hostel fees (if you will be living there while you study).

After you are satisfied then you can start the application process. It is best to start the process early so that you have enough time to prepare. Also you can apply for multiple schools so you have options if you are not accepted into the one you wish. In conclusion, if you want to go to law school, you will have to evaluate what you have to offer and how that compares to other applicants who are applying for Law School In Los Angeles

Romania to host Junior Eurovision Song Contest in 2006
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Romania to host Junior Eurovision Song Contest in 2006

Thursday, October 6, 2005Romania has been chosen to host the Junior Eurovision Song Contest in 2006, according to a press release by the country’s government-funded broadcaster, TVR. According to the network, the Junior Eurovision will be held in Bucharest in November 2006, where it will be organised in a venue with a capacity of more than 6,000 seats. Romania’s successful bid has been confirmed by Svante Stockselius from the European Broadcasting Union.

The three countries shortlisted for the Junior Eurovision 2006 were Romania, Croatia, and the Netherlands. On October 4, however, it was announced that TVR had won the bidding process and the event would be held in Romania. The Junior Eurovision 2006 is the first Eurovision event to be held in Romania, and comes after Romania’s best ever result in the Eurovision Song Contest 2005, where it was ranked third.

The event will be co-financed by TVR and the European Broadcasting Union, with approximately 3.4 million Romanian lei (€1 million) being funded by the EBU.

The Junior Eurovision Song Contest was founded in 2003 and is open to constentants from across Europe ranging from eight to fifteen years of age. The 2005 event will be held on November 26 in Hasselt, Belgium, and will be attended by contestants from 17 countries, including Romania.

Woman finds human finger in bowl of chili at Wendy’s restaurant
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Woman finds human finger in bowl of chili at Wendy’s restaurant

Thursday, March 24, 2005

San Jose, California — A woman eating a bowl of chili at a Wendy’s restaurant bit into a chewy bit that turned out to be a human finger. She immediately spat it out, warned other patrons to stop eating, and upon recognizing the object as a finger, vomited.

“I’m more of a Carl’s Jr. person,” the 39-year-old Las Vegas woman, Anna Ayala, told Knight Ridder. She said this incident was her first visit to a Wendy’s restaurant. Ayala described how she found the finger, “Suddenly something crunchy was in my mouth,” she continued, “and I spit it out.”

According to Devina Cordero, 20, after Ayala found the finger, she ran up to her and Cordero’s boyfriend and said, “Don’t eat it! Look, there’s a human finger in our chili.”

“We went up to the counter and they told us it was a vegetable,” Cordero continued. “The people from Wendy’s were poking it with a spoon.”

The restaurant is located at 1405 Monterey Highway, just south of downtown San Jose.

Wikinews reporter David Vasquez drove his car up to the drive-thru menu and found that chili was still on the menu, at a price of US$1.19 for a small serving. He also witnessed workers unloading supplies from a semi-trailer truck in the restaurant’s parking lot, and carting them into the back door of the establishment.

According to Ben Gale, director of environmental health for Santa Clara County, the finger did not come from any of the employees at the restaurant. “We asked everybody to show us they have 10 fingers and everything is OK there,” he said. The found portion of the finger likely belonged to a woman because of its long and manicured fingernail, also found in the food.

Officials seized the food supply at the restaurant and are tracing it back to the manufacturer, where they believe the finger may have gotten mixed in with the raw ingredients used to prepare the chili. The restaurant’s operators were later permitted to re-open after preparing new chili prepared from fresh ingredients.

As this story was filed, there was no mention of the incident on the Wendy’s corporate web site. Wendy’s issued a statement through a spokesman.

“Food safety is of utmost importance to us,” said Wendy’s spokesman Joe Desmond. He referred to the incident as an “unsubstantiated claim.”

“We are cooperating fully with the local police and health departments with their investigation. It’s important not to jump to conclusions. Here at Wendy’s we plan to do right by our customers,” Desmond said.

According to county health officials, the unfortunate woman who bit into the finger is doing fine, despite her initial reaction. Officials also noted that the finger would have been cooked at a high enough temperature to destroy any viruses.

The Santa Clara county medical examiner reported that the finger had a solid fingerprint, although investigators did not say if a search of fingerprint databases would be performed to find the owner of the finger.

This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras celebrated by 450,000 people
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Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras celebrated by 450,000 people

Saturday, March 4, 2006

Nearly half a million people packed into Sydney’s “Golden Mile” on Saturday night to applaud the city’s 28th annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade. Parade organisers estimated the crowd at over 450,000. They lined Oxford St – along the parade’s route – in Sydney’s unofficial gay district, cheering the 6,000 participants and 120 floats.

The Mardi Gras event was the culmination of a month of gay-pride festivities. Many parade participants adopted the theme of the film Brokeback Mountain. The parade was led as usual by the motorcycle group, Dykes on Bikes. Amongst the frivolity and colour, onlookers saw “Kate Moss dancers” snorting ‘cocaine’, and the gun-wielding – apparently gay-friendly – Dick Cheney. A lampoon of Prime Minister John Howard – a pirate ship carrying “Captain Crook” was also featured.

A Mardi Gras participant, Filipino Fyljoy Volefdico, 25, said: “I think within Australia there is really a lot of culture and it’s great when the whole community comes together and celebrates it.”

Jay Lynch, who met his partner at the event two years ago, said: “It has become a meeting ground for gays from around the world and as discrimination continues it’s important we can connect on this level, and continually redefine what it means to the community.”

Chair of the New Mardi Gras board, Marcus Bourget, said the event is about providing a powerful voice for the lesbian and gay community. Describing the parade as “a great Aussie tradition”, Bourget said he was proud of the event. “We’ve run a fairly sophisticated marketing campaign this year, which has led to gradual growth internationally,” he said.

Newcastle woman Donna Newella said Mardi Gras had become many things to many people, “It is not just about gays and lesbians,” she said. “It’s about all different issues that have arisen,” she said “freedom of speech, being able to represent one’s identity and being able to put a political point across.”

The first Mardi Gras took place on June 24, 1978 as a protest against a ban on homosexuality in Australia. It began as an improvised street party following a gay-rights rally. However when a city official interrupted the festivities, things turned ugly. On that night there were 53 arrests and many allegations of police brutality. Homosexuality was later decriminalised in Australia in 1984.

Local businesses realise the economic importance of the event, which is a huge money-spinner, they say. Visitors to Sydney for last year’s Mardi Gras contributed an estimated $46 million to the State’s economy. Organisers say about 6000 international visitors, the majority from Britain and the USA, attended this year’s event.

“We came all the way from America to see this,” Mrs Phyllis Drucker 67, from Los Angeles, said. “We were told it’s the best in the world, and we’re going to have a ball.”

A float entitled “Love Between the Flags” highlighted the need for racial harmony and cultural acceptance following last year’s Cronulla riots. Creative director Graham Browning said the theme of the parade, “I believe”, aimed to reflect political and social issues. The NSW Police service, with 45 members also marched in the parade.

Mardi Gras parade chief Deborah Cheetham, an internationally renowned soprano, rejected suggestions the parade was passe. “Maybe we’re just in that period of transition. It’s not tired,” said Cheetham, who led the parade with her partner and 14-year-old daughter. “There will always be a need for Mardi Gras.”

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the parade was a celebration of Sydney’s diversity. “When you’re a child the thing that really excites you is either Christmas or the Royal Easter Show and I think as an adult Mardi Gras is the only equivalent,” Ms Moore told reporters.

“I didn’t want to miss any of this,” said 17-year-old Jennifer Mackay from outer Sydney, who arrived with three friends 10 hours before the start.

“It’s like Christmas for the gay and lesbian community,” said the parade’s creative director, Graeme Browning.

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11-year-old California girl charged for throwing stone in defense
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11-year-old California girl charged for throwing stone in defense

Monday, July 18, 2005

An 11-year-old girl faces serious assault charges in California after casting a stone at a group of boys who were throwing water balloons at her. In April, Maribel Cuevas was apprehended by Fresno, California police and spent five days in a detention center after throwing the object at the group of boys who bombarded her with water balloons as she walked down the sidewalk. A 9-year-old boy was hit with the stone, and suffered a wound to his head requiring medical assistance.

Since then, Cuevas has spent one month under house arrest pending court. Cuevas’ lawyer, Richard Beshwate, told the BBC that “They [Fresno police] are treating her like a violent parole offender. It’s not a felony, it’s an 11-year-old acting like an 11-year-old.”

Fresno Police Sergeant Anthony Martinez told reporters: “We responded. We determined a felony assault had taken place and the officers took the actions that were necessary.” Cuevas is due back in court next month on felony assault charges.

The girl was placed in juvenile hall during her five-day detention, with only one 30-minute visit from her parents. She was then placed under a 30 day house arrest and required to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet. The house arrest allowed the girl to attend school.

Maribel, who knows very little English, said that the boy initiated the conflict — the boy also admitted as much.

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Bat for Lashes plays the Bowery Ballroom: an Interview with Natasha Khan
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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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Activists claim police harrassment as G20 summit nears
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Activists claim police harrassment as G20 summit nears

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Two days before the beginning of the G20 summit in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania activists are already claiming harassment from police officers.

The ACLU is filing charges against the Pittsburgh Police Department after claiming that “more than 30 Pittsburgh police officers with semi-automatic weapons” raided a Seeds for Peace food truck in the middle of the night and demanded to search it even though they lacked a warrant. After refusing to allow them to search the truck, the suit claims, the officers then arrested the activists for two hours on loitering charges. Officers claim they raided the food truck for “national security” reasons.

Activist groups Seeds of Peace Collective and Three Rivers Climate Convergence denounced “systematic attempts to harass and discourage lawful First Amendment activities,” after filing a complaint on Monday against the Pittsburgh Police Department. The suit focuses on three separate incidents that include the midnight raid on the truck, as well as several other citations given to owners of the vehicle at different points during the past two days.

The Seeds of Peace Collective drives a bus that runs on vegetable oil and was founded in 1986 to provide food and water to protesters.

“I’m not going to comment on [the ACLU lawsuit], nor will I, throughout this week, get into the back and forth of any organization that may decide to sue our police department or may decide to take us to court,” said Pittsburgh mayor Luke Ravenstahl.

The collective was still able to provide food for 200 people yesterday at the Three Rivers Climate Convergence. “We got food out tonight. That brings my morale up,” said Katy Kelly, with Seeds of Peace.

Protesters are coming to Pittsburgh this week to advocate everything from universal health care to an end to capitalism.

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Rower Tuijn halfway across Pacific in record attempt
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Rower Tuijn halfway across Pacific in record attempt

Monday, July 9, 2007

Dutch adventurer Ralph Tuijn has reached the halfway point of his attempt to be the first person to row across the Pacific Ocean unaided.

The 16,000 kilometre journey from the coast of Peru to the seaside city of Brisbane, Australia, the widest section of the Pacific, has never been crossed absolutely unaided by a rower, and Tuijn says just nine people have rowed it even with assistance.

Tuijn reached the central point of his crossing, an insignificant point of water in the ocean, 111 days after setting off from Peru in March. He has been making good progress, and has since cut his estimated time of arrival in Brisbane by a month.

The Dutchman, who now expects to reach his destination on October 20, has kept in touch with those tracking his movements through daily internet postings from his laptop computer, including his wife Winnie. His boat, the Zeeman Challenger, is a seven-metre custom plywood vessel.

Tuijn has overcome a variety of obstacles to reach the halfway point. He is suffering from the constant attention of sharks, who often bump his boat and disrupt his attempts at sleep. One particular shark, dubbed ‘Gomulka’ by Tuijn, has been trailing the adventurer’s boat for extended periods.

He has also accidentally burnt himself when he spilled hot water on his foot whilst trying to make coffee, apparently also from a shark ‘bump’. He is also forced to manually pump water for cooking and drinking after his automatic water pump broke down not long into his journey.

“Physically everything feels great and I can’t help feeling that I could do this for 500 days, but mentally it’s still hard to be on your own for such a long time”

His vessel has no motors or sails, but relies on his physical rowing power to move. The boat does have a solar power system to provide energy for his laptop, a telephone and a global positioning system.

Tujin, who is raising money for a children’s home in Mumbai, India, is rowing at an average speed of 58 kilometres each day. His diet consists of freeze-dried foods and fish, which are keeping him physically well-conditioned despite tiring mentally.

Tuijn is a serial adventurer and experienced rower. He has rowed across the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea, as well as cycled across Russia and the icy terrain of Greenland.

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Asbestos controversy aboard Scientology ship Freewinds
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Asbestos controversy aboard Scientology ship Freewinds

Friday, May 16, 2008

Controversy has arisen over the reported presence of blue asbestos on the MV Freewinds, a cruise ship owned by the Church of Scientology. According to the Saint Martin newspaper The Daily Herald and the shipping news journal Lloyd’s List, the Freewinds was sealed in April and local public health officials on the Caribbean island of Curaçao where the ship is docked began an investigation into the presence of asbestos dust on the ship. Former Scientologist Lawrence Woodcraft supervised work on the ship in 1987, and attested to the presence of blue asbestos on the Freewinds in an affidavit posted to the Internet in 2001. Woodcraft, a licensed architect by profession, gave a statement to Wikinews and commented on the recent events.

According to The Daily Herald, the Freewinds was in the process of being renovated by the Curaçao Drydock Company. The article states that samples taken from paneling in the ship were sent to the Netherlands, where an analysis revealed that they “contained significant levels of blue asbestos”. An employee of the Curaçao Drydock Company told Radar Online in an April 30 article that the Freewinds has been docked and sealed, and confirmed that an article about asbestos ran in the local paper.

Lloyd’s List reported that work on the interior of the Freewinds was suspended on April 27 after health inspectors found traces of blue asbestos on the ship. According to Lloyd’s List, Frank Esser, Curaçao Drydock Company’s interim director, joined Curaçao’s head of the department of labor affairs Christiene van der Biezen along with the head of the local health department Tico Ras and two inspectors in an April 25 inspection of the ship. “We are sending someone so that they can tell us what happened, where it came from, since when it has been there,” said Panama Maritime Authority’s director of merchant marine Alfonso Castillero in a statement to Lloyd’s List.

The Church of Scientology purchased the ship, then known as the Bohème, in 1987, through an organization called Flag Ship Trust. After being renovated and refitted, it was put into service in June 1988. The ship is used by the Church of Scientology for advanced Scientology training in “Operating Thetan” levels, as well as for spiritual retreats for its members. Curaçao has been the ship’s homeport since it was purchased by the Church of Scientology.

According to his 2001 statement, Lawrence Woodcraft had been an architect in London, England since 1975, and joined Scientology’s elite “Sea Organization” (Sea Org) in 1986. He wrote that he was asked by the Sea Org to work on the Freewinds in 1987, and during his work on the ship “noticed a powdery blue fibrous substance approximately 1 ½” thick between the paint and the steel wall,” which he believed to be asbestos. He also discovered what he thought was blue asbestos in other parts of the ship, and reported his findings to Church of Scientology executives. Woodcraft discussed his experiences in a 2001 interview published online by the Lisa McPherson Trust, a now-defunct organization which was critical of the Church of Scientology.

The Freewinds regularly inspects the air quality on board and always meets or exceeds US standards.

Church of Scientology spokeswoman Karin Pouw responded to Radar Online about the asbestos reports, in an email published in an article in Radar on May 1. “The Freewinds regularly inspects the air quality on board and always meets or exceeds US standards,” said Pouw. She stated that two inspections performed in April “confirmed that the air quality is safe,” and asserted that the inspections revealed the Freewinds satisfies standards set by the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Clean Air Act.

Pouw told Radar that “The Freewinds will be completing its refit on schedule.” The Church of Scientology-affiliated organization Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) had been planning a cruise aboard the Freewinds scheduled for May 8, but according to Radar an individual who called the booking number for the cruise received a message that the cruise had been delayed due to ongoing work on the ship. Citing an article in the Netherlands Antilles newspaper Amigoe, Radar reported on May 6 that a team from the United States and supervised by an independent bureau from the Netherlands traveled to Curaçao in order to remove asbestos from the Freewinds.

…if the Church of Scientology claims to have removed the blue asbestos, I just don’t see how, it’s everywhere. You would first have to remove all the pipes, plumbing, a/c ducts, electrical wiring etc. etc. just a maze of stuff.

“I stand by everything I wrote in my 2001 affidavit,” said Lawrence Woodcraft in an exclusive statement given to Wikinews. Woodcraft went on to state: “I would also comment that if the Church of Scientology claims to have removed the blue asbestos, I just don’t see how, it’s everywhere. You would first have to remove all the pipes, plumbing, a/c ducts, electrical wiring etc. etc. just a maze of stuff. Also panelling as well, basically strip the ship back to a steel hull. Also blue asbestos is sprayed onto the outer walls and then covered in paint. It’s in every nook and cranny.”

Many Scientologist celebrities have spent time aboard the Freewinds, including Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Chick Corea, Lisa Marie Presley, Catherine Bell, Kate Ceberano, and Juliette Lewis. Now magazine reported that Tom Cruise has been urged to seek medical attention regarding potential asbestos exposure, however a representative for Cruise stated he has “absolutely no knowledge” of the recent asbestos controversy. Cruise, Holmes, Travolta and Preston have celebrated birthdays and other events on the Freewinds.

There is not now and never has been a situation of asbestos exposure on the Freewinds.

In a May 15 statement to the United Kingdom daily newspaper Metro, a representative for the Church of Scientology said that “There is not now and never has been a situation of asbestos exposure on the Freewinds.” The Asbestos and Mesothelioma Center notes that agencies have recommended anyone who has spent time on the Freewinds consult with their physician to determine if possible asbestos exposure may have affected their health.

Raw blue asbestos is the most hazardous form of asbestos, and has been banned in the United Kingdom since 1970. Blue asbestos fibers are very narrow and thus easily inhaled, and are a major cause of mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a form of cancer which can develop in the lining of the lungs and chest cavity, the lining of the abdominal cavity, or the pericardium sac surrounding the heart. The cancer is incurable, and can manifest over 40 years after the initial exposure to asbestos.

“This is the most dangerous type of asbestos because the fibres are smaller than the white asbestos and can penetrate the lung more easily,” said toxicologist Dr. Chris Coggins in a statement published in OK! Magazine. Dr. Coggins went on to note that “Once diagnosed with mesothelioma, the victim has six months to a year to live. It gradually reduces lung function until the victim is no longer able to breathe and dies.”

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