Canada’s Don Valley West (Ward 25) city council candidates speak

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Friday, November 3, 2006

On November 13, Torontonians will be heading to the polls to vote for their ward’s councillor and for mayor. Among Toronto’s ridings is Don Valley West (Ward 25). Three candidates responded to Wikinews’ requests for an interview. This ward’s candidates include John Blair, Robertson Boyle, Tony Dickins, Cliff Jenkins (incumbent), and Peter Kapsalis.

For more information on the election, read Toronto municipal election, 2006.

CanadaVOTES: CHP candidate John M. Wierenga running in Yellowhead

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Friday, September 26, 2008

On October 14, 2008, Canadians will be heading to the polls for the federal election. Christian Heritage Party candidate John M. Wierenga is standing for election in the riding of Yellowhead. A journeyman welder with a company in Neerlandia, Alberta, John is an active member of the Neerlandia Canadian Reformed Church. Serving on his church council, he actively volunteers in the community, serving a partial term on the Pembina Pro-Life Board.

Wikinews contacted John, to talk about the issues facing Canadians, and what they and their party would do to address them. Wikinews is in the process of contacting every candidate, in every riding across the country, no matter their political stripe. All interviews are conducted over e-mail, and interviews are published unedited, allowing candidates to impart their full message to our readers, uninterrupted.

Since 2000, the riding has been represented by Conservative Rob Merrifield, originally a Canadian Alliance member. Besides Wierenga, other challengers for the riding include Melissa Brade (Canadian Action), Mohamed El-Rafih (Liberal), Ken Kuzminski (NDP), and Monika Schaefer (Green).

For more information, visit the campaign’s official website, listed below.

Talks with TGWU and Gate Gourmet to resume later today

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Saturday, August 13, 2005

The Transport and General Worker’s Union and Gate Gourmet, the company that laid off 500 workers after workers staged unofficial strike action, will attend further talks held at a conciliation service by the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) on Saturday.

The director of Gate Gourmet, Richard Wells, denied that he was being “heavy-handed” over the dismissals. He insisted that the people affected were spoken to, and given written warnings before they were sacked.

As a result of British Airways (BA) staff at Heathrow joining Gate Gourmet’s staff in the strike action, BA are running 50% of their short-haul flights, and 40% of their long haul flights today from 0600 BST/UTC+1. They are expecting to add more flights to the schedule as the day progresses, so passengers are advised to check the British Airways website.

Analysts said that the disruption may lose BA next to £40m because of the refunds that the company are paying out, loss of flight revenue, and the costs of accommodating passengers in nearby hotels.

Only passengers with confirmed reservations have been allowed to board flights at Heathrow. Barriers have been placed around Terminal 4 to stop people without reservations from joining flights. There are limited catering services on-board the flights.

British Airways advises passengers to telephone +44 (0)800 727 800 or check their website before travelling to the airport. They also said that they would refund customers that had to stay in a hotel on Friday night up to £100.

It is noted by passengers, though, that the advice line can be engaged for long periods, so users of the telephone line need to be patient.

Qantas, Finnair, GB Airways, Sri Lankan Airlines, and British Mediterranean are also affected, as they were serviced by BA’s ground staff. Their telephone numbers are listed below.

  • Qantas: +44 (0)870 000 0123
  • Sri Lankan Airlines: +44 (0)208 538 2000
  • Finnair: +44 (0)8705 997711
  • GB Airways: +44 (0)870 850 9850
  • British Mediterranean Airlines: +44 (0)870 850 9850

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

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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.

South African apartheid assassin Eugene de Kock granted parole

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Saturday, January 31, 2015

South African Justice Minister Michael Masutha yesterday announced he is granting parole to Eugene de Kock, an apartheid-era assassin who has spent twenty years in prison.

After South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994 de Kock was arrested and subsequently detailed his actions to the nation’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). As head of a police ‘counter-insurgency’ unit de Kock took responsibility for murdering and torturing dissidents opposed to white-only rule. His methods included bombings, shootings, and stabbings and he operated internationally and at home. His revelations earned him the nickname “Prime Evil”.

The TRC granted de Kock immunity for most crimes in exchange for his testimony. He was charged with remaining offences, not covered due to limits in TRC power, and in 1996 jailed for life for six murders. Additional convictions include kidnap and attempted murder. He received an additional 212-year term for those crimes. The TRC could only grant immunity where the offence was a human rights violation and the offender gave a full confession.

During his TRC testimony de Kock accused police commanders of ordering murders including those of African National Council (ANC) members. In a 2007 prison interview he said FW de Klerk, the last white President, had hands “soaked in blood”. De Klerk denies de Kock’s allegations he ordered individual murders.

It’s mixed feelings, which is something we’ve gotten used to as South Africans

In the early nineties de Kock teamed up with anti-ANC party Inkatha to arrange violence within black communities. Internal conflict killed 12,000 in the wake of future President Nelson Mandela’s release. Mandela wrote of fearing “a hidden hand behind the violence[…] attempting to disrupt the negotiations”, by orchestrating the clashes in Natal and Transvaal. He was referring to upcoming elections and a transfer of power away from white rule and apartheid.

Masutha said de Kock was being released “in the interest of reconciliation and nation building”. The date, location, and terms are to remain secret.

Reaction from his victims is varied.

Murder victim Glenack Mama’s widow Sandra welcomed the release. She said to a BBC reporter “I think it will actually close a chapter in our history because we’ve come a long way and I think his release will just once again help with the reconciliation process because there’s still a lot of things that we need to do as a country”. She said “He got the instructions from the top and they [more senior officials] got away with it[…] they’re amongst us today and one man is taking the fall”.

I pray that those whom he hurt, those from whom he took loved ones, will find the power within them to forgive him

Eddie Makue said to The Associated Press the release stirred up “mixed feelings, which is something we’ve gotten used to as South Africans”. He was a South African Council of Churches employee in 1988 when de Kock bombed their headquarters. Jane Quin said she was “terribly disappointed” and he should never be released. Her sister Jacqui Quin was murdered in Lesotho in 1985 by de Kock.

TRC chairman Archbishop Desmond Tutu said “I pray that those whom he hurt, those from whom he took loved ones, will find the power within them to forgive him.” He said the release would not be universally welcome but is nonetheless “to our collective credit, as people and as a nation.” Tutu called it “an indictment on our government” that apartheid officials who did not co-operate with the TRC had evaded prosecution.

Whilst in prison de Kock has assisted the recovery of his missing victims’ remains. Remorse and his help to the Missing Persons Task Team were cited by Masutha as reasons to release him, which was initially decided against last July. “[H]is key role has been to introduce us to other former security police who can assist with finding others,” said Task Team leader Madeleine Fullard. Fullard said de Kock had also directly assisted in retrieving two bodies. “He certainly feels lives were wasted for no reason”, she added, describing a meeting with him at one ANC victim’s grave. “He seemed to be quite stressed.”

Masutha also announced yesterday the rejection of a parole application by apartheid killer Clive Derby-Lewis, an ex-MP. Derby-Lewis is serving life for murdering popular South African Communist Party leader Chris Hani. Hani also led the ANC’s militant division. His killing in 1993 sparked rioting. Derby-Lewis sought parole because he has lung cancer. Masutha said in rejecting the application that Derby-Lewis was remorseless.

Australian refugee contractor accused of breaching its duty of care

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Friday, December 30, 2005

Contents

  • 1 Richard Niyonsaba
  • 2 Denial of food
  • 3 Background and Criticisms
  • 4 Sources

The Australian Centre for Languages, a company which has a multi-million dollar contract with the Australian government to provide refugee services, has been accused of breaching its duty of care following the death of a chronically ill child and allegations of failing to provide three women in their care with food.

US presidential candidate Duncan Hunter speaks to Wikinews

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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Duncan Hunter is an American politician who has been a Republican member of the House of Representatives since 1981 from California’s 52nd congressional district in northern and eastern San Diego. It was previously numbered the 42nd District from 1981 to 1983 and then the 45th District from 1983 to 1993. Hunter was the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee during the 109th Congress. Hunter is currently seeking the Republican Party nomination for President of the United States. Below is David Shankbone’s interview with the Congressman.

Contents

  • 1 Running for President
  • 2 Immigration and the U.S.-Mexico border fence
  • 3 Concentrating the political power in Congressional redistricting
  • 4 Iran and nuclear capabilities
  • 5 Terrorism: the greatest threat to humanity
  • 6 The United Nations
  • 7 [Break for Congressman Hunter to attend a conference]
  • 8 School prayer
  • 9 Pornography
  • 10 Gay Marriage
  • 11 Source

Final US manufacturer ceases production of lethal injection drug; executions delayed

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The sole United States manufacturer of a key component of lethal injections announced Friday that it will cease production of the drug, contributing to shortages and delaying executions.

Sodium thiopental, the first of a three drug cocktail used in 34 states to render the prisoner to be executed unconscious, was manufactured in Italy until Italian authorities stated that they would only license the manufacture if it was used for medical purposes and not, crucially, for executions.

In a statement, the company, Hospira, said that they have never condoned the use of their drug, marketed as ‘Pentothal’, in executions, and that they could not “prevent the drug from being diverted to departments of corrections for use in capital punishment procedures”.

The move means that the United States is without a viable supplier for sodium thiopental. Although many European countries manufacture the drug, which is primarily used in Europe as an anæsthetic, no manufacturer has been found that is willing to supply it for use in conjunction with the death penalty, the abolition of which has been lobbied by the EU since 2008.

The shortage means that executions in California and Oklahoma have been delayed, with Texas’ last remaining stocks of the drug due to expire in March, weeks before two scheduled executions. These delays are likely to be prolonged as the legal process of drawing up new drugs to be used for injections is lengthy. Pentobarbital, an alternative which used at the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland, is used for lethal injections in Oregon, and has started to be used by Oklahoma.

Hospira’s decision caused mixed reactions throughout the medical community, with the American Society of Anesthesiologists stating Monday that sodium thiopental is an “important and medically necessary anesthetic agent” that is a “first-line anesthetic in many cases”, citing geriatric and cardiovascular conditions, among others. It said that, although they disagree with the death penalty, “we also do not condone using the issue as the basis to place undue burdens on the distribution of this critical drug to the United States. It is an unfortunate irony that many more lives will be lost or put in jeopardy as a result of not having the drug available for its legitimate medical use.”

2008 Leisure Taiwan launched in Taipei World Trade Center

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

This year’s Leisure Taiwan trade show (a.k.a Taiwan Sport Recreation and Leisure Show) started yesterday, with 131 companies participating including sports media companies such as ESPN and VideoLand Television, businesses selling sports equipment and fitness clubs.

There were also a variety of sports being played in the arena built for the trade show. The events included a 3-on-3 basketball tournament, free style shooting, and bicycle test-riding. In addition, conferences discussed issues related to sports and physical education.

A major topic in the trade show was energy-efficiency and, as a result, bicycles and similar sports equipment were being heavily promoted.

Next Tuesday, companies from the electronics industry plan to promote their industry at “2008 Digital E-Park.” In previous years, organizations from the electronics industry have showcased their products at Leisure Taiwan instead of at the Digital E-Park, so this move has reduced the number of markets covered by Leisure Taiwan.

Lansing, Michigan airport designated ‘aerotropolis’

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

On Wednesday the Lansing, Michigan Capital Region International Airport and surrounding land was designated as an “aerotropolis” by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation Strategic Fund board. The Next Michigan Development program allows the airport to offer tax incentives in order to attract manufacturing, distribution, and technology businesses to the surrounding area.

Incentives can include property tax abatements or the elimination of most state and local taxes for a specified period of time. To qualify for the incentives, a company would have to start a new venture on airport property or expand an existing one. Additionally, companies need to use a minimum of two out of four transportation modes – freight, air, rail, or water.

The airport, in DeWitt Township, is the second in Michigan to receive an aerotropolis designation. The state’s other aerotropolis is located in the area surrounding Detroit Metropolitan and Willow Run airports. In October the city of Lansing and DeWitt Township approved a 425 tax-sharing agreement on the property, designating approximately 850 acres (344 ha) of land as available for future development.

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