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Wikinews interviews William Pomerantz, Senior Director of Space Prizes at the X PRIZE Foundation

December 17th, 2018

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Regardless of who wins the prize, people all around the world will be able to experience the mission through high-def video-streams.
Saturday, August 28, 2010

Andreas Hornig, Wikinews contributor and team member of Synergy Moon, competitor in the Google Lunar X Prize, managed to interview Senior Director of Space Prizes William Pomerantz of the X PRIZE Foundation about the competitions, goals, and impacts via e-mail for HDTVTotal.com and Wikinews.

By Wikinews,

the free news source

Other stories: Science and technology
  • 29 November 2018: NASA’s InSight Lander makes it to Mars
  • 26 November 2018: US National Climate Assessment warns of climate-related damages to economy, ecosystems, human health
  • 18 October 2018: U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren releases DNA test results, asks Donald Trump to make promised donation
  • 12 October 2018: Manned Soyuz space mission aborts during launch
  • 10 October 2018: UN Report on Global Warming calls for rapid ‘unprecedented’ changes globally to limit planetary warming to 1.5 degree C

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Previous coverage
  • “Japanese probe snatches first asteroid sample” — Wikinews, November 26, 2005
  • “$20 million prize offered in lunar rover contest” — Wikinews, September 13, 2007

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This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.


This article is part of a page redesign trial on Wikinews. Please leave comments or bug reports on this redesign.This interview originally appeared on HDTVTotal.com, released under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license. Credit for this interview goes to HDTVTotal.com and Andreas -horn- Hornig.
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Gay marriage banned in three states; other ballot measures decided

December 16th, 2018

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Sunday, November 9, 2008

Voters in California, Florida and Arizona voted on Tuesday to ban gay marriage, bringing about a victory for conservatives on a day which did not bring many conservative wins.

Meanwhile, voters in Colorado, South Dakota and California voted on measures which would have restricted abortion in those states. In Massachusetts and Michigan, voters passed measures that loosen marijuana laws. Finally, in the state of Washington a measure was passed that allows physician-assisted suicide.

The California ballot measure, Proposition 8, overturns the recent June ruling by the California State Supreme Court in the case In re Marriage Cases which reversed a 1977 statute passed by the California State Legislature and a 2000 ballot measure, Proposition 22, which also banned same-sex marriage by defining marriage as between a man and a woman. The wording of Proposition 8 is identical to Proposition 22. It was noted that many of the African-Americans and Latinos who cast their votes for Obama, also voted for the measure. The measure passed at 52% to 48%.

Lesbian comedian Ellen DeGeneres noted, “This morning, when it was clear that Proposition 8 had passed in California, I can’t explain the feeling I had. I was saddened beyond belief. Here we just had a giant step toward equality and then on the very next day, we took a giant step away.”

Okay, so I am taking that to mean I do not have to pay my state taxes because I am not a full citizen.

Singer Melissa Etheridge, who is also a lesbian, stated that she would no longer pay taxes due to the passing of Proposition 8, announcing in a blog post, “Okay, so I am taking that to mean I do not have to pay my state taxes because I am not a full citizen.”

Also in California, voters rejected a measure which would require parental notification for a minor to receive an abortion. The measure was rejected with the same percentage as Proposition 8, 52% to 48%. Meanwhile in Colorado, voters rejected a measure that would define life as beginning at conception. While the measure did not specifically mention abortion it would have required legislators and courts to confront legal rights for fetuses – effectively preventing abortion. The measure was defeated in a wide margin, 73% to 27%

In South Dakota, voters also defeated an anti-abortion measure which would have outlawed abortion in all cases except in the case of rape, incest or if the mother’s health was in serious question. If passed, the law would most likely have been challenged as unconstitutional.

In Michigan, voters approved a measure which legalizes medical marijuana. Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, voters approved a ballot question that decriminalizes possession of small amounts of marijuana in which the possession of an ounce or less would be punishable by a $100 fine. The measure will also require minors under the age 18 to participate in and complete a drug awareness program and do community service. Failure to do so, would net the minor a $1,000 fine.

“Tonight’s results represent a sea change. Voters have spectacularly rejected eight years of the most intense government war on marijuana since the days of ‘Reefer Madness,'” said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. “The people were ahead of the politicians on this issue; they recognize and want a more sensible approach to our marijuana policy,” said Whitney Taylor, the chair of Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy, which backed the Massachusetts proposition.

Also, in Massachusetts, voters overwhelmingly, in every single Massachusetts city and town, rejected a ballot measure which would have eliminated the state income tax by 2010, the ballot measure was sponsored by the Committee for Small Government, which is headed up by two libertarians, Michael Cloud, a Libertarian Party candidate for U.S. Senate in 2002 and Carla Howell, Libertarian Party candidate for governor in the 2002 Massachusetts gubernatorial election.

The last time the income tax elimination measure was on the ballot was in 2002, where it was defeated, narrowly by 45.3%. This stunned supporters of the income tax, who mounted a fierce campaign against the measure this time warning Massachusetts residents that repealing the income tax would have drastic effects on the state’s finances, leading to cuts in services, education and local aid.

Finally, voters passed a question which bans dog racing in Massachusetts, which will lead to the closure of Massachusetts’ two greyhound racing tracks, Raynham-Taunton Greyhound Park and Wonderland Greyhound Park.

The campaign against dog racing was headed up by the Committee to Protect Dogs and endorsed by GREY2K USA and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals along with other animal protection organizations who claimed that dog racing was inhumane as the dogs were stuffed into cramped cages and endured injuries. The measure was opposed by the park owners including George Carney who owns the Rayham-Taunton park and Charles Sarkis, a restaurateur who owns Wonderland.

“We did it. We did it for the dogs,” said Carey Thiel, executive director of GREY2K USA. “For 75 years, greyhounds in our state have endured terrible confinement and suffered serious injuries. We’re better than that,” Thiel added.

One campaign supporter, Sandy Bigelow noted, “It means everything. We’ve worked so hard for the dogs and they heard us. It feels so good. Oh, God, it feels so good.”

George Carney said of the results, “It’s not a very pleasant thing right now. Some of these people have been here 40 years. Here’s a company that did nothing wrong, paid their federal taxes on time, paid the town on time. The town is going to be a severe loser, and a lot of people here dedicated their life to the company.”

We did it. We did it for the dogs.

Both sides used emotionally-charged advertisements, the anti-racing side showing “sad-eyed greyhounds,” while the pro-racing side highlighted the workers who would be out of work when the tracks close.

Both measures must now come before the Massachusetts Governor’s Council for approval.

A ballot initiative approved by voters in the north-western state of Washington will make it the second state to permit physician-assisted suicide. Initiative 1000 follows the ten-year-old example of the Death With Dignity Act of neighboring Oregon, and will allow physicians to prescribe a lethal dose of medication for a terminally ill patient to administer themselves. It was approved by a margin of 16%, and the ‘Yes’ campaign outspent the ‘No’ campaign by more than three-to-one. The law comes into effect in 2009.

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Alleged tax-haven scheme linked to Canada’s largest brokerage firm

December 16th, 2018

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

In a continuing crackdown on tax evasion, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has alleged that brokers with a branch of RBC Dominion Securities, Canada’s largest brokerage company, helped clients set up accounts in the small European principality of Liechtenstein in order to avoid taxation on their wealth.

In affadavits submitted by the CRA, brokers with an RBC Dominion Securities office in Victoria, British Columbia, allegedly helped clients set up 16 offshore entities with a division of the LGT Group in Liechtenstein. While that is not a crime under Canadian law, auditors allege that the entities were used to help Canadians hide worldwide income. Thirteen individuals are either being audited or have made voluntary disclosures, admitting to tax evasion. The agency is presently investigating to see if there are any other individuals participating in this scheme. Regarding the inquiry, dubbed “Project Jade”, the CRA will only say that it was launched on information from a “confidential informant”.

RBC issued a written statement, saying “As a firm, we have never encouraged Canadians — not 25 years ago and not today — to set up entities in Liechtenstein, and we have never instructed our investment advisers to recommend that practice,” and “we comply with all CRA requirements. This means that we provide all our clients with the forms they need to meet their personal tax obligations, and also file reports with CRA that form the basis for reviews such as this.”

Three RBC employees are presently being investigated, with one remaining unidentified.

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Australian man to be executed in Singapore

December 16th, 2018

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Saturday, November 19, 2005

Supporters of convicted Australian drug trafficker, Van Nguyen, gathered outside the State Library in Melbourne yesterday to display thousands of messages of opposition to his death sentence.

Callers to talkback radio in Melbourne were overwhelmingly against the death penalty of Nguyen, who immediately admitted his guilt and has cooperated with authorities since being caught smuggling heroin into Singapore. Many called for a boycott of Singaporean products.

25-year-old Nguyen was arrested at Changi Airport in 2002 for carrying heroin and sentenced to death in March. Nguyen claims he carried the 396 grams of heroin strapped to his body in an attempt to pay off his brother Khoa’s $30,000 legal debts.

The Singapore government have announced they will execute Nguyen at dawn on December 2nd. Singapore President S. R. Nathan rejected Nguyen’s clemency four weeks ago. The Melbourne salesman was sentenced to death under Singapore law which determines a mandatory death sentence for anyone found guilty of possessing 15 grams of heroin or more.

Nguyen’s mother was informed on Thursday by registered mail from the Singapore prisons service of the execution date. The letter stated that she should start making funeral arrangements. She will get to see her son in the three days leading up to the execution.

Despite repeated pleas for clemency from many thousands of supporters; religious groups; human rights organisations; the Pope; and the Australian Government – including Prime Minister, John Howard – Singapore officials have said Nguyen’s execution is irreversible.

Mr Howard had argued that Nguyen should be spared, citing mitigating circumstances in his case which pointed to the fact that he was not a serial drug trafficker but had merely been trying to pay off his brother’s debts.

The Victorian Attorney-General, Rob Hulls, says the Singaporean Government has shown no compassion whatsoever in its treatment of Van Nguyen and his family.

“What’s happening is brutal, is inappropriate. I, and the Victorian Government, vehemently oppose the death penalty in any circumstances”, he told ABC Radio. “This is a young kid who has assisted the police all the way… In any other country, he would get a discount in relation to the penalty. But because there is a mandatory death penalty for drug offences in Singapore, this young man may well be executed. It is just grossly inappropriate.”

“Singapore maintains that capital punishment is a criminal justice issue; it is the sovereign right of every country to decide whether or not to include capital punishment within its criminal justice system,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

Singapore argues that there was no international consensus that capital punishment should be abolished. At the most recent meeting of the UN Commission on Human Rights, 66 countries dissociated themselves from a resolution calling for the abolition of capital punishment.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong affirmed Singapore’s position by saying that it has to “stand firm on drugs to protect its citizens from the scourge and to ensure the country does not become a conduit for the trafficking of illicit drugs.”

In reply to a letter appealing for clemency from his Australian counterpart Alexander Downer, Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo said: “Mr Nguyen imported almost 400gm of pure heroin which would have supplied more than 26,000 doses to drug addicts.”

No one will be permitted to see Nguyen on the morning of his execution. His body will be released to his mother.

Situations Handled By A Personal Injury Attorneys Iowa Legal Practice

December 15th, 2018

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More Detail Here:

byalex

In general terms, the definition of negligence is the failure of a party to use ordinary care. This can be through an omission or direct action. That is, negligence can occur whenever somebody does something intentionally that most responsible people wouldn’t do under the same circumstances. Also, when someone doesn’t exercise an amount of care reasonably expected, this too is considered to be legally careless behavior. A personal injury attorneys Iowa legal agency can help clients understand the specific negligence laws in their jurisdiction.

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Gross NegligenceGross negligence indicates the failure to act or a conduct that is excessively reckless and demonstrates a significant lack of concern regarding the possibility of injuries occurring. There are many cases when it’s necessary to establish a claim of gross negligence to overcome legal impediments when filing a lawsuit. For example, if a company manufactures a product with the realization it might be defective and potentially harmful to many, it may be considered as gross negligent behavior.

Vicarious LiabilityVicarious liability is a situation when an individual or company is held responsible for the actions of another. Usually, this applies in the context of employment by which the employer becomes responsible for negligent behavior of an employee during the course of their duties. As an example, if an employee becomes involved in an accident while driving a company vehicle leading to a personal injury, the company assumes liability. There are cases, though not frequent, in which parents are held vicariously accountable for actions deemed negligent by their children.

Car Accident LitigationNot all automobile collisions result in lawsuits. If nobody is hurt or the injuries are minor in nature, it’s often possible to resolve claims for property damage and medical expenses without legal assistance. The greater an injury or damage to property that results, the more likely the chance that a lawsuit will be filed. There are many reasons that automobile wrecks occur. Some of these include driver error and distractions, intoxication from drugs or alcohol, poor road conditions, vehicle defects and bad weather.

Bus AccidentsBecause of the enormous weight and size of a typical bus, most low-speed impacts have little effect on a bus or inside passengers. However, it can have a substantial impact on an automobile that collides with it. If the impact is severe enough there can be multiple injuries. In situations in which a bus rolls or goes off the roadway, such injuries can be extremely serious. A personal injury attorneys Iowa professional represents injured victims involved in bus crashes.

Personal Injury attorneys Iowa – If you are injured due to a workplace accident or car collision, Lawyer Lawyer Dutton & Drake LLP has expertise in handling personal injury cases. Get in touch with them.

Flight attendant Todd Herzog wins $1 million on ‘Survivor: China’

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Flight attendant Todd Herzog wins $1 million on ‘Survivor: China’

December 15th, 2018

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Todd Herzog, a flight attendant from Pleasant Grove, Utah, has won the US$1,000,000 grand prize on the CBS American reality television series Survivor: China. Herzog, 22, defeated New York City waitress Courtney Yates and former Miss Montana USA Amanda Kimmel in the final vote.

Herzog was voted ‘Sole Survivor’ by four of the seven jury members, while Yates received two votes and Kimmel received one. He was described as being the smartest and most strategic of the final three contestants. When making his opening statement to the jury, he said, “The main thing I can ask tonight is that you are able to see the difference between my strategic game and the relations that I actually built with you because they were all real.”

Herzog, who was only 14 years old when the first season of Survivor premiered, was once the founder of his school’s Survivor club and was voted by his graduating class as “Most likely to appear on Survivor.”

The finale aired on December 16, 2007.

Cisco sues Apple for iPhone trademark

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Cisco sues Apple for iPhone trademark

December 15th, 2018

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Friday, January 12, 2007

The iPhone only made its appearance as a prototype and there have been controversies aroused.

The dispute has come up between the manufacturer of the iPhone (which was resented on Wednesday for the first time) – Apple Inc. – and a leader in network and communication systems, based in San JoseCisco. The company claims to possess the trademark for iPhone, and moreover, that it sells devices under the same brand through one of its divisions.

This became the reason for Cisco to file a lawsuit against Apple Inc. so that the latter would stop selling the device.

Cisco states that it has received the trademark in 2000, when the company overtook Infogear Technology Corp., which took place in 1996.

The Vice President and general counsel of the company, Mark Chandler, explained that there was no doubt about the excitement of the new device from Apple, but they should not use a trademark, which belongs to Cisco.

The iPhone developed by Cisco is a device which allows users to make phone calls over the voice over Internet protocol (VoIP).

John Vanderslice plays New York City: Wikinews interview

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John Vanderslice plays New York City: Wikinews interview

December 15th, 2018

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

John Vanderslice has recently learned to enjoy America again. The singer-songwriter, who National Public Radio called “one of the most imaginative, prolific and consistently rewarding artists making music today,” found it through an unlikely source: his French girlfriend. “For the first time in my life I wouldn’t say I was defending the country but I was in this very strange position…”

Since breaking off from San Francisco local legends, mk Ultra, Vanderslice has produced six critically-acclaimed albums. His most recent, Emerald City, was released July 24th. Titled after the nickname given to the American-occupied Green Zone in Baghdad, it chronicles a world on the verge of imminent collapse under the weight of its own paranoia and loneliness. David Shankbone recently went to the Bowery Ballroom and spoke with Vanderslice about music, photography, touring and what makes a depressed liberal angry.


DS: How is the tour going?

JV: Great! I was just on the Wiki page for Inland Empire, and there is a great synopsis on the film. What’s on there is the best thing I have read about that film. The tour has been great. The thing with touring: say you are on vacation…let’s say you are doing an intense vacation. I went to Thailand alone, and there’s a part of you that just wants to go home. I don’t know what it is. I like to be home, but on tour there is a free floating anxiety that says: Go Home. Go Home.

DS: Anywhere, or just outside of the country?

JV: Anywhere. I want to be home in San Francisco, and I really do love being on tour, but there is almost like a homing beacon inside of me that is beeping and it creates a certain amount of anxiety.

DS: I can relate: You and I have moved around a lot, and we have a lot in common. Pranks, for one. David Bowie is another.

JV: Yeah, I saw that you like David Bowie on your MySpace.

DS: When I was in college I listened to him nonstop. Do you have a favorite album of his?

JV: I loved all the things from early to late seventies. Hunky Dory to Low to “Heroes” to Lodger. Low changed my life. The second I got was Hunky Dory, and the third was Diamond Dogs, which is a very underrated album. Then I got Ziggy Stardust and I was like, wow, this is important…this means something. There was tons of music I discovered in the seventh and eighth grade that I discovered, but I don’t love, respect and relate to it as much as I do Bowie. Especially Low…I was just on a panel with Steve Albini about how it has had a lot of impact.

DS: You said seventh and eighth grade. Were you always listening to people like Bowie or bands like the Velvets, or did you have an Eddie Murphy My Girl Wants to Party All the Time phase?

JV: The thing for me that was the uncool music, I had an older brother who was really into prog music, so it was like Gentle Giant and Yes and King Crimson and Genesis. All the new Genesis that was happening at the time was mind-blowing. Phil Collins‘s solo record…we had every single solo record, like the Mike Rutherford solo record.

DS: Do you shun that music now or is it still a part of you?

JV: Oh no, I appreciate all music. I’m an anti-snob. Last night when I was going to sleep I was watching Ocean’s Thirteen on my computer. It’s not like I always need to watch some super-fragmented, fucked-up art movie like Inland Empire. It’s part of how I relate to the audience. We end every night by going out into the audience and playing acoustically, directly, right in front of the audience, six inches away—that is part of my philosophy.

DS: Do you think New York or San Francisco suffers from artistic elitism more?

JV: I think because of the Internet that there is less and less elitism; everyone is into some little superstar on YouTube and everyone can now appreciate now Justin Timberlake. There is no need for factions. There is too much information, and I think the idea has broken down that some people…I mean, when was the last time you met someone who was into ska, or into punk, and they dressed the part? I don’t meet those people anymore.

DS: Everything is fusion now, like cuisine. It’s hard to find a purely French or purely Vietnamese restaurant.

JV: Exactly! When I was in high school there were factions. I remember the guys who listened to Black Flag. They looked the part! Like they were in theater.

DS: You still find some emos.

JV: Yes, I believe it. But even emo kids, compared to their older brethren, are so open-minded. I opened up for Sunny Day Real Estate and Pedro the Lion, and I did not find their fans to be the cliquish people that I feared, because I was never playing or marketed in the emo genre. I would say it’s because of the Internet.

DS: You could clearly create music that is more mainstream pop and be successful with it, but you choose a lot of very personal and political themes for your music. Are you ever tempted to put out a studio album geared toward the charts just to make some cash?

JV: I would say no. I’m definitely a capitalist, I was an econ major and I have no problem with making money, but I made a pact with myself very early on that I was only going to release music that was true to the voices and harmonic things I heard inside of me—that were honestly inside me—and I have never broken that pact. We just pulled two new songs from Emerald City because I didn’t feel they were exactly what I wanted to have on a record. Maybe I’m too stubborn or not capable of it, but I don’t think…part of the equation for me: this is a low stakes game, making indie music. Relative to the world, with the people I grew up with and where they are now and how much money they make. The money in indie music is a low stakes game from a financial perspective. So the one thing you can have as an indie artist is credibility, and when you burn your credibility, you are done, man. You can not recover from that. These years I have been true to myself, that’s all I have.

DS: Do you think Spoon burned their indie credibility for allowing their music to be used in commercials and by making more studio-oriented albums? They are one of my favorite bands, but they have come a long way from A Series of Sneaks and Girls Can Tell.

JV: They have, but no, I don’t think they’ve lost their credibility at all. I know those guys so well, and Brit and Jim are doing exactly the music they want to do. Brit owns his own studio, and they completely control their means of production, and they are very insulated by being on Merge, and I think their new album—and I bought Telephono when it came out—is as good as anything they have done.

DS: Do you think letting your music be used on commercials does not bring the credibility problem it once did? That used to be the line of demarcation–the whole Sting thing–that if you did commercials you sold out.

JV: Five years ago I would have said that it would have bothered me. It doesn’t bother me anymore. The thing is that bands have shrinking options for revenue streams, and sync deals and licensing, it’s like, man, you better be open to that idea. I remember when Spike Lee said, ‘Yeah, I did these Nike commercials, but it allowed me to do these other films that I wanted to make,’ and in some ways there is an article that Of Montreal and Spoon and other bands that have done sync deals have actually insulated themselves further from the difficulties of being a successful independent band, because they have had some income come in that have allowed them to stay put on labels where they are not being pushed around by anyone.
The ultimate problem—sort of like the only philosophical problem is suicide—the only philosophical problem is whether to be assigned to a major label because you are then going to have so much editorial input that it is probably going to really hurt what you are doing.

DS: Do you believe the only philosophical question is whether to commit suicide?

JV: Absolutely. I think the rest is internal chatter and if I logged and tried to counter the internal chatter I have inside my own brain there is no way I could match that.

DS: When you see artists like Pete Doherty or Amy Winehouse out on 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 their music?

JV: The thing for me is they are profound iconic figures for me, and I don’t even know their music. I don’t know Winehouse or Doherty’s music, I just know that they are acting a very crucial, mythic part in our culture, and they might be doing it unknowingly.

DS: Glorification of drugs? The rock lifestyle?

JV: More like an out-of-control Id, completely unregulated personal relationships to the world in general. It’s not just drugs, it’s everything. It’s arguing and scratching people’s faces and driving on the wrong side of the road. Those are just the infractions that land them in jail. I think it might be unknowing, but in some ways they are beautiful figures for going that far off the deep end.

DS: As tragic figures?

JV: Yeah, as totally tragic figures. I appreciate that. I take no pleasure in saying that, but I also believe they are important. The figures that go outside—let’s say GG Allin or Penderetsky in the world of classical music—people who are so far outside of the normal boundaries of behavior and communication, it in some way enlarges the size of your landscape, and it’s beautiful. I know it sounds weird to say that, but it is.

DS: They are examples, as well. I recently covered for Wikinews the Iranian President speaking at Columbia and a student named Matt Glick told me that he supported the Iranian President speaking so that he could protest him, that if we don’t give a platform and voice for people, how can we say that they are wrong? I think it’s almost the same thing; they are beautiful as examples of how living a certain way can destroy you, and to look at them and say, “Don’t be that.”

JV: Absolutely, and let me tell you where I’m coming from. I don’t do drugs, I drink maybe three or four times a year. I don’t have any problematic relationship to drugs because there has been a history around me, like probably any musician or creative person, of just blinding array of drug abuse and problems. For me, I am a little bit of a control freak and I don’t have those issues. I just shut those doors. But I also understand and I am very sympathetic to someone who does not shut that door, but goes into that room and stays.

DS: Is it a problem for you to work with people who are using drugs?

JV: I would never work with them. It is a very selfish decision to make and usually those people are total energy vampires and they will take everything they can get from you. Again, this is all in theory…I love that stuff in theory. If Amy Winehouse was my girlfriend, I would probably not be very happy.

DS: Your latest CD is Emerald City and that is an allusion to the compound that we created in Baghdad. How has the current political client affected you in terms of your music?

JV: In some ways, both Pixel Revolt and Emerald City were born out of a recharged and re-energized position of my being….I was so beaten down after the 2000 election and after 9/11 and then the invasion of Iraq, Afghanistan; I was so depleted as a person after all that stuff happened, that I had to write my way out of it. I really had to write political songs because for me it is a way of making sense and processing what is going on. The question I’m asked all the time is do I think is a responsibility of people to write politically and I always say, My God, no. if you’re Morrissey, then you write Morrissey stuff. If you are Dan Bejar and Destroyer, then you are Dan Bejar and you are a fucking genius. Write about whatever it is you want to write about. But to get out of that hole I had to write about that.

DS: There are two times I felt deeply connected to New York City, and that was 9/11 and the re-election of George Bush. The depression of the city was palpable during both. I was in law school during the Iraq War, and then when Hurricane Katrina hit, we watched our countrymen debate the logic of rebuilding one of our most culturally significant cities, as we were funding almost without question the destruction of another country to then rebuild it, which seems less and less likely. Do you find it is difficult to enjoy living in America when you see all of these sorts of things going on, and the sort of arguments we have amongst ourselves as a people?

JV: I would say yes, absolutely, but one thing changed that was very strange: I fell in love with a French girl and the genesis of Emerald City was going through this visa process to get her into the country, which was through the State Department. In the middle of process we had her visa reviewed and everything shifted over to Homeland Security. All of my complicated feelings about this country became even more dour and complicated, because here was Homeland Security mailing me letters and all involved in my love life, and they were grilling my girlfriend in Paris and they were grilling me, and we couldn’t travel because she had a pending visa. In some strange ways the thing that changed everything was that we finally got the visa accepted and she came here. Now she is a Parisian girl, and it goes without saying that she despises America, and she would never have considered moving to America. So she moves here and is asking me almost breathlessly, How can you allow this to happen

DS: –you, John Vanderslice, how can you allow this—

JV: –Me! Yes! So for the first time in my life I wouldn’t say I was defending the country but I was in this very strange position of saying, Listen, not that many people vote and the churches run fucking everything here, man. It’s like if you take out the evangelical Christian you have basically a progressive western European country. That’s all there is to it. But these people don’t vote, poor people don’t vote, there’s a complicated equation of extreme corruption and voter fraud here, and I found myself trying to rattle of all the reasons to her why I am personally not responsible, and it put me in a very interesting position. And then Sarkozy got elected in France and I watched her go through the same horrific thing that we’ve gone through here, and Sarkozy is a nut, man. This guy is a nut.

DS: But he doesn’t compare to George Bush or Dick Cheney. He’s almost a liberal by American standards.

JV: No, because their President doesn’t have much power. It’s interesting because he is a WAPO right-wing and he was very close to Le Pen and he was a card-carrying straight-up Nazi. I view Sarkozy as somewhat of a far-right candidate, especially in the context of French politics. He is dismantling everything. It’s all changing. The school system, the remnants of the socialized medical care system. The thing is he doesn’t have the foreign policy power that Bush does. Bush and Cheney have unprecedented amounts of power, and black budgets…I mean, come on, we’re spending half a trillion dollars in Iraq, and that’s just the money accounted for.

DS: What’s the reaction to you and your music when you play off the coasts?

JV: I would say good…

DS: Have you ever been Dixiechicked?

JV: No! I want to be! I would love to be, because then that means I’m really part of some fiery debate, but I would say there’s a lot of depressed in every single town. You can say Salt Lake City, you can look at what we consider to be conservative cities, and when you play those towns, man, the kids that come out are more or less on the same page and politically active because they are fish out of water.

DS: Depression breeds apathy, and your music seems geared toward anger, trying to wake people from their apathy. Your music is not maudlin and sad, but seems to be an attempt to awaken a spirit, with a self-reflective bent.

JV: That’s the trick. I would say that honestly, when Katrina happened, I thought, “okay, this is a trick to make people so crazy and so angry that they can’t even think. If you were in a community and basically were in a more or less quasi-police state surveillance society with no accountability, where we are pouring untold billions into our infrastructure to protect outside threats against via terrorism, or whatever, and then a natural disaster happens and there is no response. There is an empty response. There is all these ships off the shore that were just out there, just waiting, and nobody came. Michael Brown. It is one of the most insane things I have ever seen in my life.

DS: Is there a feeling in San Francisco that if an earthquake struck, you all would be on your own?

JV: Yes, of course. Part of what happened in New Orleans is that it was a Catholic city, it was a city of sin, it was a black city. And San Francisco? Bush wouldn’t even visit California in the beginning because his numbers were so low. Before Schwarzenegger definitely. I’m totally afraid of the earthquake, and I think everyone is out there. America is in the worst of both worlds: a laissez-fare economy and then the Grover Norquist anti-tax, starve the government until it turns into nothing more than a Argentinian-style government where there are these super rich invisible elite who own everything and there’s no distribution of wealth and nothing that resembles the New Deal, twentieth century embracing of human rights and equality, war against poverty, all of these things. They are trying to kill all that stuff. So, in some ways, it is the worst of both worlds because they are pushing us towards that, and on the same side they have put in a Supreme Court that is so right wing and so fanatically opposed to upholding civil rights, whether it be for foreign fighters…I mean, we are going to see movement with abortion, Miranda rights and stuff that is going to come up on the Court. We’ve tortured so many people who have had no intelligence value that you have to start to look at torture as a symbolic and almost ritualized behavior; you have this…

DS: Organ failure. That’s our baseline…

JV: Yeah, and you have to wonder about how we were torturing people to do nothing more than to send the darkest signal to the world to say, Listen, we are so fucking weird that if you cross the line with us, we are going to be at war with your religion, with your government, and we are going to destroy you.

DS: I interviewed Congressman Tom Tancredo, who is running for President, and he feels we should use as a deterrent against Islam the bombing of the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

JV: You would radicalize the very few people who have not been radicalized, yet, by our actions and beliefs. We know what we’ve done out there, and we are going to paying for this for a long time. When Hezbollah was bombing Israel in that border excursion last year, the Hezbollah fighters were writing the names of battles they fought with the Jews in the Seventh Century on their helmets. This shit is never forgotten.

DS: You read a lot of the stuff that is written about you on blogs and on the Internet. Do you ever respond?

JV: No, and I would say that I read stuff that tends to be . I’ve done interviews that have been solely about film and photography. For some reason hearing myself talk about music, and maybe because I have been talking about it for so long, it’s snoozeville. Most interviews I do are very regimented and they tend to follow a certain line. I understand. If I was them, it’s a 200 word piece and I may have never played that town, in Des Moines or something. But, in general, it’s like…my band mates ask why don’t I read the weeklies when I’m in town, and Google my name. It would be really like looking yourself in the mirror. When you look at yourself in the mirror you are just error-correcting. There must be some sort of hall of mirrors thing that happens when you are completely involved in the Internet conversation about your music, and in some ways I think that I’m very innocently making music, because I don’t make music in any way that has to do with the response to that music. I don’t believe that the response to the music has anything to do with it. This is something I got from John Cage and Marcel Duchamp, I think the perception of the artwork, in some ways, has nothing to do with the artwork, and I think that is a beautiful, glorious and flattering thing to say to the perceiver, the viewer of that artwork. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at Paul Klee‘s drawings, lithographs, watercolors and paintings and when I read his diaries I’m not sure how much of a correlation there is between what his color schemes are denoting and what he is saying and what I am getting out of it. I’m not sure that it matters. Inland Empire is a great example. Lynch basically says, I don’t want to talk about it because I’m going to close doors for the viewer. It’s up to you. It’s not that it’s a riddle or a puzzle. You know how much of your own experience you are putting into the digestion of your own art. That’s not to say that that guy arranges notes in an interesting way, and sings in an interesting way and arranges words in an interesting way, but often, if someone says they really like my music, what I want to say is, That’s cool you focused your attention on that thing, but it does not make me go home and say, Wow, you’re great. My ego is not involved in it.

DS: Often people assume an artist makes an achievement, say wins a Tony or a Grammy or even a Cable Ace Award and people think the artist must feel this lasting sense of accomplishment, but it doesn’t typically happen that way, does it? Often there is some time of elation and satisfaction, but almost immediately the artist is being asked, “Okay, what’s the next thing? What’s next?” and there is an internal pressure to move beyond that achievement and not focus on it.

JV: Oh yeah, exactly. There’s a moment of relief when a mastered record gets back, and then I swear to you that ten minutes after that point I feel there are bigger fish to fry. I grew up listening to classical music, and there is something inside of me that says, Okay, I’ve made six records. Whoop-dee-doo. I grew up listening to Gustav Mahler, and I will never, ever approach what he did.

DS: Do you try?

JV: I love Mahler, but no, his music is too expansive and intellectual, and it’s realized harmonically and compositionally in a way that is five languages beyond me. And that’s okay. I’m very happy to do what I do. How can anyone be so jazzed about making a record when you are up against, shit, five thousand records a week—

DS: —but a lot of it’s crap—

JV: —a lot of it’s crap, but a lot of it is really, really good and doesn’t get the attention it deserves. A lot of it is very good. I’m shocked at some of the stuff I hear. I listen to a lot of music and I am mailed a lot of CDs, and I’m on the web all the time.

DS: I’ve done a lot of photography for Wikipedia and the genesis of it was an attempt to pin down reality, to try to understand a world that I felt had fallen out of my grasp of understanding, because I felt I had no sense of what this world was about anymore. For that, my work is very encyclopedic, and it fit well with Wikipedia. What was the reason you began investing time and effort into photography?

JV: It came from trying to making sense of touring. Touring is incredibly fast and there is so much compressed imagery that comes to you, whether it is the window in the van, or like now, when we are whisking through the Northeast in seven days. Let me tell you, I see a lot of really close people in those seven days. We move a lot, and there is a lot of input coming in. The shows are tremendous and, it is emotionally so overwhelming that you can not log it. You can not keep a file of it. It’s almost like if I take photos while I am doing this, it slows it down or stops it momentarily and orders it. It has made touring less of a blur; concretizes these times. I go back and develop the film, and when I look at the tour I remember things in a very different way. It coalesces. Let’s say I take on fucking photo in Athens, Georgia. That’s really intense. And I tend to take a photo of someone I like, or photos of people I really admire and like.

DS: What bands are working with your studio, Tiny Telephone?

JV: Death Cab for Cutie is going to come back and track their next record there. Right now there is a band called Hello Central that is in there, and they are really good. They’re from L.A. Maids of State was just in there and w:Deerhoof was just in there. Book of Knotts is coming in soon. That will be cool because I think they are going to have Beck sing on a tune. That will be really cool. There’s this band called Jordan from Paris that is starting this week.

DS: Do they approach you, or do you approach them?

JV I would say they approach me. It’s generally word of mouth. We never advertise and it’s very cheap, below market. It’s analog. There’s this self-fulfilling thing that when you’re booked, you stay booked. More bands come in, and they know about it and they keep the business going that way. But it’s totally word of mouth.

U.S. Congress passes CAFTA with 2 vote House margin

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U.S. Congress passes CAFTA with 2 vote House margin

December 15th, 2018

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Thursday, July 28, 2005

The U.S. House of Representatives approved the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) early morning Thursday, with a narrow vote of 217 in favor, 215 against. Voting was held open for an hour, 45 minutes past the House’s 15-minute voting rule as the President along with other supporters lobbied into the night.

The vote was so close, if one House member changed a “Yea” vote to a “Nay” vote, CAFTA would have failed in a 216-216 tie.

In tallying the votes, 25 Republicans, mostly from Midwest Corn Belt and Rust Belt states and the Southeast United States’s textile industrial belt, broke party line to vote against the measure. Two Republicans were present, but refused to vote.

The Democrats presented a more united front. All but 15 Democrats present voted against the treaty. Independent House members, who usually vote with the Democrats also voted against the measure.

Supporters of the measure include President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez. Opponents included most House Democrats.

The trade agreement already passed the Senate in June. President Bush has said he will sign it into law.

DR-CAFTA encompasses the following components:

  • Services: all public services are to be open to private investment.
  • Investment: governments promise to grant ironclad guarantees to foreign investment.
  • Government procurement: All government purchases must be open to transnational bids.
  • Market access: governments pledge to reduce and eventually to eliminate tariffs and other measures that protect domestic products.
  • Agriculture: duty-free import and elimination of subsidies on agricultural products.
  • Intellectual property rights: privatization of and monopoly over technological know-how.
  • Antidumping rules, subsidies and countervailing rights: governments commit to phase out protectionist barriers in all sectors.
  • Competition policy: the dismantling of national monopolies.
  • Dispute resolution: the right of transnationals to sue countries in private international courts.
  • Environmental protection: the enforcement of environmental laws and improvement of the environment.
  • Labor standards: the enforcement of the International Labour Organization‘s core labor standards.
  • Transparency: the reduction of government corruption.
  • Test-Data Exclusivity for pharmaceutical corporations

Countries around the world send aid, help to Haiti

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Countries around the world send aid, help to Haiti

December 15th, 2018

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Countries and organizations from around the world are sending aid and help to victims of the devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti on Tuesday, damaging many buildings. The death toll is currently unknown, but estimated to run into the tens of thousands of people.

US president Barack Obama said in a press conference that “I’ve directed my administration to launch a swift, coordinated and aggressive effort to save lives and support the recovery in Haiti.”

Obama announced that aid from the US armed forces was coming to Haiti, noting, “Several Coast Guard cutters are already there providing everything from basic services like water, to vital technical support for this massive logistical operation.”

Obama continued: “[…] today, I’m also announcing an immediate investment of $100 million to support our relief efforts. This will mean more of the life-saving equipment, food, water and medicine that will be needed. This investment will grow over the coming year as we embark on the long-term recovery from this unimaginable tragedy.”

Obama said that the US would forge partnerships with Haitian people and Haitian-Americans, along with United Nations peacekeepers. He closed by saying, “To the people of Haiti, we say clearly, and with conviction, you will not be forsaken; you will not be forgotten. In this, your hour of greatest need, America stands with you. The world stands with you.”

The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon said that $10 million is being released from the international organization’s central emergency response fund.

Meanwhile, the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP), which already has an existing operation in the country, is beginning to distribute high energy biscuits which require no preparation before eating. On top of that, the WFP is airlifting 86 metric tons of food from their emergency hub in El Salvador.

A spokesperson for the WFP said, “In a normal day the World Food Programme will be feeding one or two million people in Haiti — and now we need to do even more, because the people have lost everything.”

China is also pledging aid to the country, despite the lack of official diplomatic ties between the two countries. Haiti recognizes the Republic of China, better known as Taiwan. Nevertheless, China has sent a 60 member search and rescue team to Haiti and the Chinese Red Cross is donating one million dollars in emergency aid.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu said her country expresses sympathy to the Haitian government and people. Jiang says the Chinese foreign minister has sent a telegram of condolence to his Haitian counterparts.

An 80 member team from the United Kingdom of search and rescue specialists has arrived in Haiti to help in efforts there. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said in a joint press conference with Toaiseach of Ireland Brian Cowen that the team has arrived in the country. He also announced that the government is pledging to match the UN’s US$10 million (£6.1 million).

Brown said, “It is a tragedy beyond imagination and there is a deep sense of loss felt by the whole of the British and Irish people about the tragedy that individual families in Haiti are experiencing at the moment. We send our message of sympathy and support to the people of Haiti at this most difficult of times.”

He added, “Where men, women and children are suffering under the heaviest of burdens, that place must, for that moment, become the centre of our world’s attention, the world’s compassion and the world’s humanitarian help.”

France is also sending aid to the French-speaking country, which at one time was a colony of France known as Saint-Domingue. France is sending two planes with rescuers and aid. Civil safety authorities in France are sending a team of 130 members consisting of rescuers, trained rescue dogs, doctors and nurses along with 12,000 tons of aid and rescue supplies.

Israel is sending rescue forces in two El Al planes carrying a 121-member delegation that includes 40 doctors, five search-and-rescue teams, and an army rescue squad. The IDF medical teams are preparing to spend two weeks in Haiti.

Spain has pledged $4.3 million (3 million) in aid money and has 150 tons of aid ready to be delivered.

South Africa is sending a team of search and rescue specialists to Haiti in response to the devastating earthquake on Tuesday. It is the first of several teams being sent by a local civic group.

The head of South Africa’s Gift of the Givers Foundation, Emtiaz Sooliman, says his group is sending up to three teams of search and rescue specialists to Haiti to help victims of the earthquake and hopefully save some lives.

“These are people who have worked with building collapses, urban search and rescue and some of them have been involved in responding to previous earthquakes so they are highly skilled,” he said.

Sooliman says a second team is to depart as soon as he can book a flight for it.

 This story has updates See Haiti relief efforts: in depth