“Anonymous” plans to protest Church of Scientology on February 10

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“Anonymous” plans to protest Church of Scientology on February 10

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Internet-based group “Anonymous” released a new video on YouTube Monday, announcing international protests outside Church of Scientology centers set for February 10. The video “Call to Action” uses the same computer synthesized voice as a previous video titled “Message to Scientology”, which was posted to YouTube last Monday. The “Message to Scientology” video has been viewed over 1,400,000 times, and the “Call to Action” video has already been viewed over 237,000 times.

Anonymous is taking action against the Church of Scientology in response to what it sees as suppression of freedom of speech on the Internet. The group was first motivated after the Church of Scientology issued a copyright infringement claim to YouTube regarding a promotional video of Scientologist Tom Cruise speaking about his beliefs and using Scientology jargon. The Church of Scientology also issued a legal complaint to the website Gawker.com which is also hosting the video, but Gawker has stated it will not take the video down because it is newsworthy.

Anonymous set up a movement called “Project Chanology” to coordinate their efforts, and took down several Church of Scientology websites through denial-of-service attacks. Members of Anonymous have also participated in prank calls to Church of Scientology centers, as well as protests or “raids” outside Scientology buildings, and have posted some of their exploits to YouTube.

Anonymous is a collective of individuals united by an awareness that someone must do the right thing.

In the “Call to Action” video, Anonymous denies that they are composed solely of “super hackers”, stating “Anonymous is a collective of individuals united by an awareness that someone must do the right thing, that someone must bring light to the darkness, that someone must open the eyes of a public that has slumbered for far too long.” The video goes on to state “We want you to be aware of the very real dangers of Scientology,” citing what they term “gross human rights violations”.

Specific controversial events in Scientology history are cited in the video, including Operation Freakout and Paulette Cooper, and Operation Snow White. Operation Freakout was the name of a Church of Scientology operation whose goal was to “get P.C. [Paulette Cooper] incarcerated in a mental institution or jail or at least to hit her so hard that she drops her attacks.” Paulette Cooper had written a book critical of Scientology called The Scandal of Scientology. Operation Snow White was the name of a Church of Scientology operation where members of the Church’s secretive Guardian’s Office infiltrated United States government agencies in Washington, D.C. including the I.R.S. The F.B.I.’s investigation into Operation Snow White led them to discover the planning of actions taken against Paulette Cooper.

The video concludes by inviting the viewer to “take up the banner of free speech” and protest with Anonymous world wide. In an email to CNET News, Anonymous stated that cities where unknown activities are planned on February 10 include New York City, Montreal, Houston, London, Melbourne, and Los Angeles.

On Friday, two spokespersons for the Church of Scientology commented on the recent actions of Anonymous. A spokesman told News.com.au “These types of people have got some wrong information about us,” and Church spokeswoman Yvette Shank told Sun Media that she regarded members of Anonymous as a “pathetic” group of “computer geeks”. On Monday, Radar reported that the Church of Scientology has asked the U.S. Attorney General‘s office in Los Angeles, the F.B.I., and the LAPD to start a criminal investigation of possible criminal activity related to the Internet attacks. A source told Radar that the Church of Scientology is arguing that the Internet attacks are a form of “illegal interference with business.” Radar also reports that the Church of Scientology is emphasizing its status as a religious organization in the United States, in order to assert that the Internet attacks can be classed as hate crimes.

I’m mainly concerned because you shouldn’t be doing things that are illegal, you just shouldn’t.

On Saturday, Mark Bunker of the website XenuTV.com posted a video to YouTube criticizing the illegal actions of Anonymous and suggested legal methods for them to retaliate against the Church of Scientology, including peaceful protesting, writing letters to their government representatives, and persuading the United States government to take away the Church of Scientology’s tax exempt status. In the video, Bunker states “I’m mainly concerned because you shouldn’t be doing things that are illegal, you just shouldn’t. It’s not morally right, and it’s not right when Scientology does it, it’s not right when we do it.” Bunker’s video post has been viewed over 156,000 times. On Sunday, Bunker posted a follow-up video to YouTube where he gives advice to Anonymous on how to peacefully picket. He also provides viewers with resources and weblinks to more information on how to hold a peaceful protest. He concludes this video by imitating Obi-Wan Kenobi‘s Jedi mind trick technique and voice from Star Wars, stating “And if I may, as Obi-Wan, tell you: You will do nothing illegal “.

 This story has updates See Wikinews international report: “Anonymous” holds anti-Scientology protests worldwide 

National Museum of Scotland reopens after three-year redevelopment

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National Museum of Scotland reopens after three-year redevelopment

Friday, July 29, 2011

Today sees the reopening of the National Museum of Scotland following a three-year renovation costing £47.4 million (US$ 77.3 million). Edinburgh’s Chambers Street was closed to traffic for the morning, with the 10am reopening by eleven-year-old Bryony Hare, who took her first steps in the museum, and won a competition organised by the local Evening News paper to be a VIP guest at the event. Prior to the opening, Wikinews toured the renovated museum, viewing the new galleries, and some of the 8,000 objects inside.

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Dressed in Victorian attire, Scottish broadcaster Grant Stott acted as master of ceremonies over festivities starting shortly after 9am. The packed street cheered an animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex created by Millenium FX; onlookers were entertained with a twenty-minute performance by the Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers on the steps of the museum; then, following Bryony Hare knocking three times on the original doors to ask that the museum be opened, the ceremony was heralded with a specially composed fanfare – played on a replica of the museum’s 2,000-year-old carnyx Celtic war-horn. During the fanfare, two abseilers unfurled white pennons down either side of the original entrance.

The completion of the opening to the public was marked with Chinese firecrackers, and fireworks, being set off on the museum roof. As the public crowded into the museum, the Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers resumed their performance; a street theatre group mingled with the large crowd, and the animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex entertained the thinning crowd of onlookers in the centre of the street.

On Wednesday, the museum welcomed the world’s press for an in depth preview of the new visitor experience. Wikinews was represented by Brian McNeil, who is also Wikimedia UK’s interim liaison with Museum Galleries Scotland.

The new pavement-level Entrance Hall saw journalists mingle with curators. The director, Gordon Rintoul, introduced presentations by Gareth Hoskins and Ralph Applebaum, respective heads of the Architects and Building Design Team; and, the designers responsible for the rejuvenation of the museum.

Describing himself as a “local lad”, Hoskins reminisced about his grandfather regularly bringing him to the museum, and pushing all the buttons on the numerous interactive exhibits throughout the museum. Describing the nearly 150-year-old museum as having become “a little tired”, and a place “only visited on a rainy day”, he commented that many international visitors to Edinburgh did not realise that the building was a public space; explaining the focus was to improve access to the museum – hence the opening of street-level access – and, to “transform the complex”, focus on “opening up the building”, and “creating a number of new spaces […] that would improve facilities and really make this an experience for 21st century museum visitors”.

Hoskins explained that a “rabbit warren” of storage spaces were cleared out to provide street-level access to the museum; the floor in this “crypt-like” space being lowered by 1.5 metres to achieve this goal. Then Hoskins handed over to Applebaum, who expressed his delight to be present at the reopening.

Applebaum commented that one of his first encounters with the museum was seeing “struggling young mothers with two kids in strollers making their way up the steps”, expressing his pleasure at this being made a thing of the past. Applebaum explained that the Victorian age saw the opening of museums for public access, with the National Museum’s earlier incarnation being the “College Museum” – a “first window into this museum’s collection”.

Have you any photos of the museum, or its exhibits?

The museum itself is physically connected to the University of Edinburgh’s old college via a bridge which allowed students to move between the two buildings.

Applebaum explained that the museum will, now redeveloped, be used as a social space, with gatherings held in the Grand Gallery, “turning the museum into a social convening space mixed with knowledge”. Continuing, he praised the collections, saying they are “cultural assets [… Scotland is] turning those into real cultural capital”, and the museum is, and museums in general are, providing a sense of “social pride”.

McNeil joined the yellow group on a guided tour round the museum with one of the staff. Climbing the stairs at the rear of the Entrance Hall, the foot of the Window on the World exhibit, the group gained a first chance to see the restored Grand Gallery. This space is flooded with light from the glass ceiling three floors above, supported by 40 cast-iron columns. As may disappoint some visitors, the fish ponds have been removed; these were not an original feature, but originally installed in the 1960s – supposedly to humidify the museum; and failing in this regard. But, several curators joked that they attracted attention as “the only thing that moved” in the museum.

The museum’s original architect was Captain Francis Fowke, also responsible for the design of London’s Royal Albert Hall; his design for the then-Industrial Museum apparently inspired by Joseph Paxton’s Crystal Palace.

The group moved from the Grand Gallery into the Discoveries Gallery to the south side of the museum. The old red staircase is gone, and the Millennium Clock stands to the right of a newly-installed escalator, giving easier access to the upper galleries than the original staircases at each end of the Grand Gallery. Two glass elevators have also been installed, flanking the opening into the Discoveries Gallery and, providing disabled access from top-to-bottom of the museum.

The National Museum of Scotland’s origins can be traced back to 1780 when the 11th Earl of Buchan, David Stuart Erskine, formed the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland; the Society being tasked with the collection and preservation of archaeological artefacts for Scotland. In 1858, control of this was passed to the government of the day and the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland came into being. Items in the collection at that time were housed at various locations around the city.

On Wednesday, October 28, 1861, during a royal visit to Edinburgh by Queen Victoria, Prince-Consort Albert laid the foundation-stone for what was then intended to be the Industrial Museum. Nearly five years later, it was the second son of Victoria and Albert, Prince Alfred, the then-Duke of Edinburgh, who opened the building which was then known as the Scottish Museum of Science and Art. A full-page feature, published in the following Monday’s issue of The Scotsman covered the history leading up to the opening of the museum, those who had championed its establishment, the building of the collection which it was to house, and Edinburgh University’s donation of their Natural History collection to augment the exhibits put on public display.

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Selection of views of the Grand Gallery Image: Brian McNeil.

Selection of views of the Grand Gallery Image: Brian McNeil.

Selection of views of the Grand Gallery Image: Brian McNeil.

Closed for a little over three years, today’s reopening of the museum is seen as the “centrepiece” of National Museums Scotland’s fifteen-year plan to dramatically improve accessibility and better present their collections. Sir Andrew Grossard, chair of the Board of Trustees, said: “The reopening of the National Museum of Scotland, on time and within budget is a tremendous achievement […] Our collections tell great stories about the world, how Scots saw that world, and the disproportionate impact they had upon it. The intellectual and collecting impact of the Scottish diaspora has been profound. It is an inspiring story which has captured the imagination of our many supporters who have helped us achieve our aspirations and to whom we are profoundly grateful.

The extensive work, carried out with a view to expand publicly accessible space and display more of the museums collections, carried a £47.4 million pricetag. This was jointly funded with £16 million from the Scottish Government, and £17.8 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Further funds towards the work came from private sources and totalled £13.6 million. Subsequent development, as part of the longer-term £70 million “Masterplan”, is expected to be completed by 2020 and see an additional eleven galleries opened.

The funding by the Scottish Government can be seen as a ‘canny‘ investment; a report commissioned by National Museums Scotland, and produced by consultancy firm Biggar Economics, suggest the work carried out could be worth £58.1 million per year, compared with an estimated value to the economy of £48.8 prior to the 2008 closure. Visitor figures are expected to rise by over 20%; use of function facilities are predicted to increase, alongside other increases in local hospitality-sector spending.

Proudly commenting on the Scottish Government’s involvement Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, described the reopening as, “one of the nation’s cultural highlights of 2011” and says the rejuvenated museum is, “[a] must-see attraction for local and international visitors alike“. Continuing to extol the museum’s virtues, Hyslop states that it “promotes the best of Scotland and our contributions to the world.

So-far, the work carried out is estimated to have increased the public space within the museum complex by 50%. Street-level storage rooms, never before seen by the public, have been transformed into new exhibit space, and pavement-level access to the buildings provided which include a new set of visitor facilities. Architectural firm Gareth Hoskins have retained the original Grand Gallery – now the first floor of the museum – described as a “birdcage” structure and originally inspired by The Crystal Palace built in Hyde Park, London for the 1851 Great Exhibition.

The centrepiece in the Grand Gallery is the “Window on the World” exhibit, which stands around 20 metres tall and is currently one of the largest installations in any UK museum. This showcases numerous items from the museum’s collections, rising through four storeys in the centre of the museum. Alexander Hayward, the museums Keeper of Science and Technology, challenged attending journalists to imagine installing “teapots at thirty feet”.

The redeveloped museum includes the opening of sixteen brand new galleries. Housed within, are over 8,000 objects, only 20% of which have been previously seen.

  • Ground floor
  • First floor
  • Second floor
  • Top floor

The Window on the World rises through the four floors of the museum and contains over 800 objects. This includes a gyrocopter from the 1930s, the world’s largest scrimshaw – made from the jaws of a sperm whale which the University of Edinburgh requested for their collection, a number of Buddha figures, spearheads, antique tools, an old gramophone and record, a selection of old local signage, and a girder from the doomed Tay Bridge.

The arrangement of galleries around the Grand Gallery’s “birdcage” structure is organised into themes across multiple floors. The World Cultures Galleries allow visitors to explore the culture of the entire planet; Living Lands explains the ways in which our natural environment influences the way we live our lives, and the beliefs that grow out of the places we live – from the Arctic cold of North America to Australia’s deserts.

The adjacent Patterns of Life gallery shows objects ranging from the everyday, to the unusual from all over the world. The functions different objects serve at different periods in peoples’ lives are explored, and complement the contents of the Living Lands gallery.

Performance & Lives houses musical instruments from around the world, alongside masks and costumes; both rooted in long-established traditions and rituals, this displayed alongside contemporary items showing the interpretation of tradition by contemporary artists and instrument-creators.

The museum proudly bills the Facing the Sea gallery as the only one in the UK which is specifically based on the cultures of the South Pacific. It explores the rich diversity of the communities in the region, how the sea shapes the islanders’ lives – describing how their lives are shaped as much by the sea as the land.

Both the Facing the Sea and Performance & Lives galleries are on the second floor, next to the new exhibition shop and foyer which leads to one of the new exhibition galleries, expected to house the visiting Amazing Mummies exhibit in February, coming from Leiden in the Netherlands.

The Inspired by Nature, Artistic Legacies, and Traditions in Sculpture galleries take up most of the east side of the upper floor of the museum. The latter of these shows the sculptors from diverse cultures have, through history, explored the possibilities in expressing oneself using metal, wood, or stone. The Inspired by Nature gallery shows how many artists, including contemporary ones, draw their influence from the world around us – often commenting on our own human impact on that natural world.

Contrastingly, the Artistic Legacies gallery compares more traditional art and the work of modern artists. The displayed exhibits attempt to show how people, in creating specific art objects, attempt to illustrate the human spirit, the cultures they are familiar with, and the imaginative input of the objects’ creators.

The easternmost side of the museum, adjacent to Edinburgh University’s Old College, will bring back memories for many regular visitors to the museum; but, with an extensive array of new items. The museum’s dedicated taxidermy staff have produced a wide variety of fresh examples from the natural world.

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At ground level, the Animal World and Wildlife Panorama’s most imposing exhibit is probably the lifesize reproduction of a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton. This rubs shoulders with other examples from around the world, including one of a pair of elephants. The on-display elephant could not be removed whilst renovation work was underway, and lurked in a corner of the gallery as work went on around it.

Above, in the Animal Senses gallery, are examples of how we experience the world through our senses, and contrasting examples of wildly differing senses, or extremes of such, present in the natural world. This gallery also has giant screens, suspended in the free space, which show footage ranging from the most tranquil and peaceful life in the sea to the tooth-and-claw bloody savagery of nature.

The Survival gallery gives visitors a look into the ever-ongoing nature of evolution; the causes of some species dying out while others thrive, and the ability of any species to adapt as a method of avoiding extinction.

Earth in Space puts our place in the universe in perspective. Housing Europe’s oldest surviving Astrolabe, dating from the eleventh century, this gallery gives an opportunity to see the technology invented to allow us to look into the big questions about what lies beyond Earth, and probe the origins of the universe and life.

In contrast, the Restless Earth gallery shows examples of the rocks and minerals formed through geological processes here on earth. The continual processes of the planet are explored alongside their impact on human life. An impressive collection of geological specimens are complemented with educational multimedia presentations.

Beyond working on new galleries, and the main redevelopment, the transformation team have revamped galleries that will be familiar to regular past visitors to the museum.

Formerly known as the Ivy Wu Gallery of East Asian Art, the Looking East gallery showcases National Museums Scotland’s extensive collection of Korean, Chinese, and Japanese material. The gallery’s creation was originally sponsored by Sir Gordon Wu, and named after his wife Ivy. It contains items from the last dynasty, the Manchu, and examples of traditional ceramic work. Japan is represented through artefacts from ordinary people’s lives, expositions on the role of the Samurai, and early trade with the West. Korean objects also show the country’s ceramic work, clothing, and traditional accessories used, and worn, by the indigenous people.

The Ancient Egypt gallery has always been a favourite of visitors to the museum. A great many of the exhibits in this space were returned to Scotland from late 19th century excavations; and, are arranged to take visitors through the rituals, and objects associated with, life, death, and the afterlife, as viewed from an Egyptian perspective.

The Art and Industry and European Styles galleries, respectively, show how designs are arrived at and turned into manufactured objects, and the evolution of European style – financed and sponsored by a wide range of artists and patrons. A large number of the objects on display, often purchased or commissioned, by Scots, are now on display for the first time ever.

Shaping our World encourages visitors to take a fresh look at technological objects developed over the last 200 years, many of which are so integrated into our lives that they are taken for granted. Radio, transportation, and modern medicines are covered, with a retrospective on the people who developed many of the items we rely on daily.

What was known as the Museum of Scotland, a modern addition to the classical Victorian-era museum, is now known as the Scottish Galleries following the renovation of the main building.

This dedicated newer wing to the now-integrated National Museum of Scotland covers the history of Scotland from a time before there were people living in the country. The geological timescale is covered in the Beginnings gallery, showing continents arranging themselves into what people today see as familiar outlines on modern-day maps.

Just next door, the history of the earliest occupants of Scotland are on display; hunters and gatherers from around 4,000 B.C give way to farmers in the Early People exhibits.

The Kingdom of the Scots follows Scotland becoming a recognisable nation, and a kingdom ruled over by the Stewart dynasty. Moving closer to modern-times, the Scotland Transformed gallery looks at the country’s history post-union in 1707.

Industry and Empire showcases Scotland’s significant place in the world as a source of heavy engineering work in the form of rail engineering and shipbuilding – key components in the building of the British Empire. Naturally, whisky was another globally-recognised export introduced to the world during empire-building.

Lastly, Scotland: A Changing Nation collects less-tangible items, including personal accounts, from the country’s journey through the 20th century; the social history of Scots, and progress towards being a multicultural nation, is explored through heavy use of multimedia exhibits.

Car bomb in Iraq leaves at least 30 dead

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Car bomb in Iraq leaves at least 30 dead

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The death toll resulting from a car bomb attack in northern Iraq yesterday has reached 30. The bomb exploded in the town of Al Khalis, approximately 50 miles north of the country’s capital, Baghdad. The attack comes eleven days after a series of attacks killed over one hundred people in one day. The country is currently experiencing instability as a result of an inconclusive election result in march, which left no power bloc with an overall majority with which to govern.

The blast happened outside a busy coffee shop in the early evening, killing 23 and wounding a further 53 immediately, though death toll rose on Friday and currently stands at at least 30. Many buildings suffered severe damage in the attack—a local police lieutenant told Reuters: “The roof of the coffee shop which was full of people also collapsed. We believe there are still people under the debris”.

Iraqi police have launched an investigation into the attack and into how the car managed to get through a security checkpoint. The deputy governor of Diyala Province called for the sacking of police chiefs after the attack, the second in the town in as many months, and referring to the town as a “disaster zone”.

The attacks were apparently aimed at Shia Muslims in the hope of provoking further sectarian violence and a reaction against Sunni Muslims. While violence in Iraq has drastically reduced since its height after to 2003 invasion, there are fears that the recent attacks are a sign that militants are regrouping in the light of the political power vacuum. There is speculation that Al Qaeda in Iraq, believed to be responsible for the most recent violence, have begun targeting more vulnerable towns and cities, away from Baghdad, where security is tighter.

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.

nJCuYQdn | Uncategorized | 10 10th, 2019 | No Comments »

Three dead in murder-suicide shooting at Southern California fast food restaurant

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Three dead in murder-suicide shooting at Southern California fast food restaurant

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A 6-year-old boy and his father were shot and killed Saturday afternoon while eating inside a busy Del Taco fast food restaurant in San Bernadino, California, before the shooter turned a gun on himself.

According to the San Bernadino Police Department, 56-year-old Jimmy Schlager arrived at the Del Taco at 1:15pm PST (2015 UTC) on a bicycle, and, armed with two semi-automatic guns, entered the restaurant and opened fire on a family of four who were dining together. The employees and other customers all ran out of the restaurant and escaped without injury.

The father of the family, identified as 33-year-old Alex Trujillo, was declared dead at the scene, said the San Bernadino Fire Department. His wife and two sons were taken to Loma Linda University Medical Center in critical condition. His 6-year-old son, Adrian, died shortly after. The victims each suffered two bullet wounds, except the mother, who police say received up to ten gunshots. The names of the 29-year-old woman and her 5-year-old son have not been released. Both remained in critical condition on Saturday night.

After shooting the family, Schlager, later identified as the woman’s step-father, shot himself in the head. He was taken to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, where he later died from the self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Police said Schlager had previously been arrested a number of times, on charges that included theft and assault with a deadly weapon.

nJCuYQdn | Uncategorized | 10 10th, 2019 | No Comments »

4 Funny Presents For A 25th Wedding Anniversary}

Submitted by: Douglas R. Williams

A few hilarious gift ideas you could get for a couple on their 25th wedding anniversary are clothing custom-made with humorous phrases, a picture album filled with funny memories, a gift basket stuffed with unique things, or maybe you could come up with an anniversary-related joke.

You can make a 25th anniversary even more unforgettable simply by going out of the traditional 25th wedding anniversary gift ideas for parents. Think about giving humorous gifts which will display your fun-loving and creative side , and they are more memorable than the expected gift item or card. The following are some amazing gift item ideas you can consider:

Apparel customized with humorous statements

There are numerous apparel boutiques that permit you to modify your own print. Just a few varieties of apparel you can get for the honoring pair include a couple of shirts, baseball caps or aprons. Decide what you wish to print on the items. One comical idea, for example, would be a t-shirt that says “Property of my wife since 1990” for the man to put on and a matching “Owned my hubby since 1990” for the wife. You could try checking the web for hilarious sayings about twenty-fifth anniversaries, marriage, husbands, wives or even growing older.

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A picture album stuffed with hilarious memories

If you like, you can incorporate the silver motif into your gift by buying a silver-decorated picture album. Maintain the mood light and funny by compiling only humorous images in the album. Ask the couple’s children, relatives and buddies to help you look for photographs from throughout the married couple’s long years together and even go back to once they were unmarried or younger. Possible pictures you can include show them dressed in Halloween outfits or even having a terrible hair day. You can even include a few photos of them looking loving and happy just so the gift still carries the romance of the special occasion.

A basket full of distinctive goods

Other than giving a traditional gift package filled with fruits, candies or nut products, load the basket with extra extraordinary stuff and create a theme around them. For instance, you could give the couple a basket you dub a “marriage survival kit.” Put a book about relationships and marriage into the gift basket and tag it an informative manual. Include a whistle with a message that says “for crying foul when you argue,” band aids with a brief description that states “for mending heartaches” along with other stuff you consider appropriate for the concept. One other gift basket variation would be a “sexy” gift basket loaded with eatable lotions, a bottle of champagne and naughty games or perhaps toys.

Plan an anniversary-related joke

You can go overboard with an anniversary present simply by pulling a prank that is related to the occasion. For instance, delight them by rolling twenty-five golf balls branded with their names as well as faces all around their family room floor. If you want, you may also come up with funny anniversary quotes on each of the balls. One other comical prank would be to send the married couple a genuine-looking document announcing that a mistake had been realized on their marriage license therefore their union is considered void. Thirty minutes later, you and the couple’s good friends can come to reveal the joke donning as clergy and ready to watch and “officiate” a 2nd wedding.

Although funny anniversary gifts may be more unforgettable than traditional ones, remember that not all people may share your sense of humor.

About the Author: Written by Douglas R. Williams. Discover other unique as well as special

25th wedding anniversary gift ideas for parents

at http://www.lifeonrecord.com/Meaningful/Anniversary/Gift/25th/Meaningful-25th-Anniversary-Gift.htm

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U.S. superbug expected to emerge in Canada

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U.S. superbug expected to emerge in Canada

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

An infectious superbug spreading in the United States is to “emerge in force” in Canada, doctors fear. The bacteria have been reported popping up in day care centers and locker rooms across the U.S. Usually elderly or very ill hospital patients get the disease.

More than 2 million U.S. residents are infected every year, the Centers for Disease Control estimates.

An article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) on Tuesday said that Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) are “spreading with alarming rapidity.” The bacteria can cause boils, pimples, or in extreme cases, flesh-eating disease, and more.

“The resistant bacteria is an old foe with new fangs: a pathogen combining virulence, resistance and an ability to disseminate at large,” wrote Dr. John Conly, medical professor and an infectious disease specialist at the University of Calgary.

British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario are the provinces which already have had MRSA in hospitals.

A 30-year-old Calgary, Alberta man died last year of lung abscesses associated with the infection, as well as a three-month old toddler in Toronto, Ontario.

Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Alex Rios, last summer, suffered from an infection caused by Staphylococcus aureus in his leg. Pitcher Ty Taubenheim had a similar infection on his foot.

Doctors are currently investigating some Calgary residents, who could be one of the first Canadian reports of MRSA outside of a hospital setting.

nJCuYQdn | Uncategorized | 09 30th, 2019 | No Comments »

“Metric tonne” of date rape drug was bound for US

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“Metric tonne” of date rape drug was bound for US

Friday, June 2, 2006

Scottish police have arrested a man and a woman after finding Britain’s largest ever stash of Gamma-butyrolactone. The man in charge of the operation, Graeme Pearson, director of the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency, called the find “the most significant discovery of the drug in the UK.”

Denise Caron MacPherson, 45, and Hanan Rabin, 53, have been charged with exporting the drug, also known as GHB, to the United States between 19 April and 24 May. The news of the Scottish factory comes as a US study found drug use was involved in two-thirds of sex attacks, while 5 per cent were given an actual “date rape” drug.

Graham Rhodes for The Roofie Foundation, a helpline for victims of drug rape, said: “I am very relieved this has been recovered as in the wrong hands it is very dangerous. Not only is it used to spike the drinks of people to rape them but it’s also used to assault and rob people.”

Used by ravers, robbers and bodybuilders, the base chemical (gamma-hydroxybutyrate) was taken during a raid on a house and business in West Lothian. The haul would have been put on the United States illicit drug market and sold for fun and more sinister purposes.

In its non-powder form GHB is barely detectable: clear and having no smell it can be particularly potent with a few drops mixed into an alcoholic drink. Once a sufficient amount of the salty liquid has been ingested the victim can be knocked out within an hour.

While GHB is known both as “liquid ecstasy” and the date rapist’s “Plan A”, the versatile compound is also used by body builders instead of anabolic steroids, by dieters and as a sleeping aid.

In Britain, GHB is a “Class C” drug which means making it, holding it and selling it is punishable with up to two years in prison. The effects of rape, for which the drug is reportedly used, can last a lifetime. Jane Cumming, from support group Crisis, said she received an average of 4 calls a week from people claiming to be victims of date rape.

The pair, who were caught in Livingston, were accused of distributing the drug in Scotland from MacPherson’s house around the same time as they were exporting to the United States, while MacPherson was also charged with Cannabis possession.

nJCuYQdn | Uncategorized | 09 19th, 2019 | No Comments »

Food with cancer-causing dye recalled in Britain

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Food with cancer-causing dye recalled in Britain

Saturday, April 30, 2005

The British Food Standards Agency (FSA) has announced a recall of foods containing banned dyes which increase the risk of cancer. The food products were sold at the Tesco, Waitrose, and Somerfield supermarkets.

A Bristol company called “Barts Spices” found the illegal Para Red substance in their Barts Ground Paprika, which was sold in 48g and 46g jars with a “Co-op” label. The batch codes on the affected products are 5032 and 5089 (expiration Dec 2007), and 5075 (expiration February 2007).

Tesco also found that their 130g package of BBQ rice cakes (expiration November and December 2005) contained both Para Red and Sudan I.

“It would be very prudent to assume that it could be a genotoxic carcinogen,” FSA scientific advisers told reporters.

“As a company committed to supplying only the very finest quality food ingredients, we took the immediate decision to withdraw our ground paprika spice from all outlets selling the product and advertised a product recall in the national press,” a Barts Spices spokesman said in a statement.

Sudan I is only authorized for industrial use to colorize petroleum products, such as shoe polish. Para Red and Sudan I are banned under the British Colours in Food Regulations of 1995.

Britain last went through a major food recall in February, when Worcester Sauce was found to contain chili powder dyed with Sudan 1.

nJCuYQdn | Uncategorized | 09 18th, 2019 | No Comments »

How Small Solar Panel Systems Can Help You Save Money On Solar Panels Cost?

Submitted by: Simone James

New small solar panels are more cost-effective and ideal to meet a percentage of your energy demands. Learn about the different factors that can help you reduce your Solar Panels Cost and save more money.

If you cannot afford to install the larger solar panels in your home, you can consider the new-technology that offers smaller photovoltaic panels. These systems have especially become more affordable because of the surplus production of panels and the entry of Chinese manufacturers into the market.

In spite of the significant reduction in Solar Panels Cost, it is still required to consider your precise energy needs before investing. You would have to determine appliances that would be run on solar power. When installing a small solar panel, you cannot increase the number of number of appliances.

Cost of Small Solar Panels

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Small solar panel systems are more affordable and they can meet all the major power needs of your home. However, it should be kept in mind that the Solar Panels Cost for these smaller systems is also a little high. For example, a 70 Watt system can cost you about $900. Relatively, a system that powers all the needs of an average sized home can cost you as much as $20,000 against an investment as high as $75,000 for a full-sized panel system.

An investment of $20,000 for meeting all your power requirements means a decent cost. And, you can further reduce it with the help of rebates and tax credits from government. In addition, this initial cost of installation can be compensated in a short period of time.

Higher Efficiency to Reduce Cost

Installing more efficient solar-power systems would further help in offsetting the cost of small solar panels. A more efficient system means that it would generate more power, and this would require you to install lesser number of panels, which would directly reduce the Solar Panels Cost.

Increase Your Home s Energy Efficiency

It would also be required to increase the energy efficiency of your home prior to installing the efficient small solar panels. A basic rule that can help you here is that it is cheaper to save energy than generating more of it. You can use energy efficient or energy rated appliances in your home. In addition, some of the appliances are especially designed to be run on solar power. If you fill your home with more of these solar-energy compliant appliances, you would be able to further reduce your small Solar Panels Cost.

Insulate your Home

Insulating your home properly would also help in meeting your energy demand with a small solar panel system. This would also increase your home s energy efficiency. Since, a small solar PV system would not be able to generate sufficient energy to meet your requirements, it would be required to insulate your home so as to reduce your energy consumption. Insulation can help you save on your heating and energy consumption by as much as 50%. And, this can help reduce your energy bills by as much as 20%.

About the Author: Do you want to take advantage of the money-saving features of the new small solar panels? Visit this link to get information on how you can save your

Solar Panels Cost

.

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