Archive for August, 2019

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India Railway Minister presents 2014-15 budget
August 25, 2019

Friday, July 11, 2014

On Tuesday, Indian Railway Minister D. V. Sadananda Gowda presented his first budget for Indian Railways.

The budget emphasized increased amenities for travelers, better safety, and timely completion of projects. There were no fare hikes announced as both passenger and freight fares had been increased last month. But, it was announced that fares will be revised twice a year to absorb fuel costs. Gowda criticized previous governments for announcing new projects and failing to complete them. He said projects will now be prioritized, such as decongesting major routes instead of announcing new ones. Gowda announced no major new projects, but announced 54 new trains. He also criticized the last government for driving the railways into a loss.

Gowda announced a bullet train between Mumbai and Ahmedabad; new semi-high speed trains in nine sectors connecting metros; and new measures towards improving cleanliness, food, and e-ticketing were announced. He said CCTVs will be installed in major stations to monitor cleanliness, and major stations will have food courts serving local cuisines and precooked food from reputable catering brands will be served on-board. The railways have faced complaints of substandard food in the past.

He announced the introduction of a new rail-flaw detection system to better investigate the causes of accidents. The budget allocated a significant sum to the construction of bridges at unmanned crossings, a major cause of rail-track deaths. He announced a new project to introduce automatic closing doors on mainline and suburban trains, and said wi-fi will be provided in larger stations and select trains. Workstations will be available for on-board use for a fee by Business travelers. The e-ticketing system will be extended from booking tickets to booking coaches and entire trains, and also retiring rooms in stations. Electric mobility carts will be provided to elderly and handicapped passengers at all major stations. Also, Railway Protection Force will recruit four thousand female constables and escorted carriages will be provided for women. A significant amount was announced for improving rail connectivity in north-east India.

Gowda emphasized use of public-private partnerships (PPPs) to fund future projects. He also said he will ask the Cabinet to approve foreign direct investment (FDI) in Indian Railways. Some stations are to be improved using PPPs. Manish R. Sharma, executive director of capital projects and infrastructure at PricewaterhouseCoopers, pointed out the budget didn’t contain any information on how the government intends to attract private investors. Deven Choksey, managing director at K. R. Choksey securities, said the government now seemed to be more inclined towards PPPs than before. India’s stock index SENSEX dropped and closed 2% below opening. Investors were observed selling shares in energy, infrastructure, and real estate sectors.

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Wikinews Shorts: February 5, 2007
August 24, 2019

A compilation of brief news reports for Monday, February 5, 2007.

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Wikinews’ overview of the year 2008
August 24, 2019

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Also try the 2008 World News Quiz of the year.

What would you tell your grandchildren about 2008 if they asked you about it in, let’s say, 20 years’ time? If the answer to a quiz question was 2008, what would the question be? The year that markets collapsed, or perhaps the year that Obama became US president? Or the year Heath Ledger died?

Let’s take a look at some of the important stories of 2008. Links to the original Wikinews articles are in all the titles.

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John Vanderslice plays New York City: Wikinews interview

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John Vanderslice plays New York City: Wikinews interview
August 24, 2019

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.

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Bush’s Katrina statement contradicted by emerging evidence

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Bush’s Katrina statement contradicted by emerging evidence
August 23, 2019

Thursday, March 2, 2006

Recently emerging evidence seems to contradict a statement by United States President George W. Bush during Hurricane Katrina. He stated in an interview with ABC on September 1st that, “I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees”.

One of the first items to emerge, a video obtained by the Associated Press, shows footage of Bush during a video-conference received at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, on August 29, 2005, 19 hours before landfall of Hurricane Katrina. During the briefing, Director of the National Hurricane Center Max Mayfield warned, “I don’t think anyone can tell you with any confidence right now whether levees will be topped or not, but there is obviously a very, very great concern”.

In addition, Michael D. Brown, then director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), reported that he had spoken with President Bush twice in the morning and that the president was asking about reports that the levees had been breached.

Brown would state later on CNN that, “There’s no question in my mind he probably had those reports (about breaches in the levees), because we were feeding in the Homeland Security Operations Center, into the White House sit room, all of the information that we were getting. So he had to have had that information. Plus, I think the president knew from our earlier conversations that that was one of my concerns, that the levees could actually breach”.[1]

In July 2004, the Federal Emergency Management Agency completed an exercise called “Hurricane Pam”, which, dealt with the scenario of a direct hit on New Orleans by a hurricane with 120 mph winds (a Category 3). It resulted in “10 to 20 feet of water within the City of New Orleans,” according to January 24 congressional testimony by the president of the company that designed the Hurricane Pam exercise.[2]

A report FEMA sent to the White House Situation Room on August 29th, they cited death and destruction anticipated by the “Hurricane Pam” exercise and warned that Katrina was likely to be worse. “Exercise projection is exceeded by Hurricane Katrina real-life impacts,” they stated. Furthermore, “The potential for severe storm surge to overwhelm Lake Pontchartrain levees is the greatest concern for New Orleans. Any storm rated Category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson (hurricane) scale will likely lead to severe flooding and/or levee breaching. This could leave the New Orleans metro area submerged for weeks or months”.[3]

When the report was released, Hurricane Katrina was thought to be a Category 4 as of landfall (though after analysis, it’s power at landfall would be downgraded to a Category 3).[4]

White House officials previously clarified Bush’s earlier comment, saying that the president was referring to the hours after Katrina swept through and news reports as of August 30th suggested the city had “dodged a bullet”, which led to surprise when reports reached them of the levee breaches.[5][6] Contrasting this was the August 30th broadcast of NBC’s Today, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams reported at 7:05 a.m. ET, “There has been a huge development overnight … the historic French Quarter, dry last night and it is now filling with water. This is water from nearby Lake Pontchartrain; the levees failed overnight.”[7]

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On the campaign trail in the USA, October 2016

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On the campaign trail in the USA, October 2016
August 23, 2019

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The following is the sixth and final edition of a monthly series chronicling the U.S. 2016 presidential election. It features original material compiled throughout the previous month after an overview of the month’s biggest stories.

In this month’s edition on the campaign trail: the Free & Equal Foundation holds a presidential debate with three little-known candidates; three additional candidates give their final pleas to voters; and past Wikinews interviewees provide their electoral predictions ahead of the November 8 election.

Contents

  • 1 Summary
  • 2 Free & Equal Debate
  • 3 Final pleas
  • 4 Predictions
  • 5 Related articles
  • 6 Sources

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Volunteers and food needed for flooded Manitoba, Canada

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Volunteers and food needed for flooded Manitoba, Canada
August 18, 2019

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Local municipal and provincial volunteers in Manitoba, Canada are exhausted in their efforts to divert the rising waters of the Red River of the North.

It has been hard work with little sleep for the residents who live on the shores of the Red River to shore up their defences with sandbags, build dikes, clear frozen culverts and break ice jams

Volunteers to spell relief for local volunteers and food are desperately needed.

“It’s a week now we’ve been doing this … you’re talking four, five, six public works guys. In my one community we’ve got 25 volunteer firefighters and those guys have been going 24/7, so of course it’s wearing them down.” said Paul Guyader, Manitoba’s emergency measures coordinator.

“We’re dealing with one of the biggest floods the province has ever seen,” said Steve Strang, mayor of St. Clements, Manitoba “We’ve put out hundreds of thousands of bags already. The municipalities are working very well, we’re working with the provincial government, we’ve brought in every possible resource we could to address this issue. The volunteerism within the community has been phenomenal.”

The Portage Diversion has taken some spring waters from the Assiniboine River and diverted the flow to Lake Manitoba.

Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation has been totally evacuated, as well as many homes near the Canada – United States border.

The cold weather is freezing the ice jams into place. Guyader has had 2 Amphibex Excavators operating on the river breaking up ice.

The Red River is right now 16.7 feet (5 metres) above spring ice conditions. The Red River Floodway gates cannot be opened with the current ice jams.

“If we operate now, we can get ice jamming going into the floodway, jamming up against the St. Mary’s bridge, as such, the floodway capacity would be reduced and would cause higher water levels in the city of Winnipeg.” said Steve Topping, Manitoba Water Stewardship spokesman

The floodway was constructed in 1968 following the 1950 flood to divert the overflow spring flooding waters of the Red River. The floodway has been widened the since the 1997 “flood of the century” and the expansion is expected to be completed this spring. As well Manitoba built permanent dikes around communities within the flood plain since the last two major floods..

The Red River waters will crest between the beginning of April to mid April, at which time also the weather should be warming up. Communities are bracing for higher water levels, more ice jams as well as melting snow in the warmer spring temperatures.

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Wikinews interviews Irene Villa

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Wikinews interviews Irene Villa
August 18, 2019

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Yesterday evening in La Molina, Spain, Wikinews sat down and talked with Irene Villa to discuss para-alpine skiing, disability sport, women’s sport, and her own sporting career. Villa was in town as part of activities taking place around the 2013 IPC Alpine World Championships, where one of her skiing club teammates is competing as a member of the Spanish team. Her high profile in Spain has brought additional interest to para-alpine skiing and disability sport in general.

((Wikinews)) : Hi we are interviewing Irene Villa, who is a disability skier from Spain and professional author, social figure, journalist, and psychologist. You are most well known for being a terrorist survivor, but you’re here because of the [2013 Alpine Skiing] World Championships. ((es))Spanish language: ?Hola estamos entrevistando a Irene Villa, esquiadora española, escritora, figura política, psicóloga y periodista. Aunque se le conoce más por haber sobrevivido a un atentado, se encuentra aquí por el Campeonato del Mundo [de Esquí Adaptado 2013].

Irene Villa: I’m here because I love sitting ski, I practice and I compete, but since I got pregnant and my son was born I stopped competing. But before I had my son I competed against the people who will run tomorrow, the Germans who win, and I wanted to be here. I haven’t raced in the World Cup, but I did race in the European Cup. And well, I’m also here to support paralympic sports. ((es))Spanish language: ?Estoy aquí porque me encanta el esquí en silla, lo practico y he competido, pero desde que nació mi hijo dejé de competir, porque me quedé embarazada, pero antes de tener a mi hijo competí contra las que mañana corren, las alemanas que ganan, y quería estar aquí. Nunca Copa del Mundo, he corrido Copa de Europa. Y bueno, para apoyar al deporte paralímpico.

((WN)) : In 2009 you said you were trying to make the 2010 Winter Paralympics. After giving birth are you going to continue with the sport and hope to make 2018? ((es))Spanish language: ?En 2009 dijo que quería clasificarse para los Juegos Paralímpicos de Invierno de 2010. Tras dar a luz, ¿va a continuar con el deporte e intentar llegar a 2018?

Irene Villa: I would love to. The thing is that you need a certain amount of IPCAS points. I’m now competing, on top of that I have an injury, tomorrow and the next day I will be training, and I don’t know if I’ll have enough time to make it. Sochi [Winter Paralympic Games of 2014] is right around the corner, next year, so it depends on how many point you’ve got. 2018? For sure. ((es))Spanish language: ?Me encantaría. Lo que pasa que bueno, eso no se sabe, porque tienes que tener unos puntos IPCAS determinados y yo ahora estoy compitiendo, encima me he lesionado, y mañana y pasado voy a estar esquiando, y no sé si van a dar los tiempos para llegar… Es que Sochi [Juegos Paralímpicos de 2014] está aquí al lado. Son el año que viene. Entonces depende de los puntos IPCAS que tengas. ¿2018? Seguro que sí.

((WN)) : You compete in a lot of national competitions, and with disability sport in general, classification is a big issue. Competing in national competitions, does classification come into play, especially when there is so few women skiers in your group? ((es))Spanish language: ?Participa en muchas competiciones nacionales, y en el deporte con discapacidad en general, las clasificaciones son un un tema polémico. En la competición nacional, ¿es la clasificación un factor tan determinante, especialmente cuando hay tan pocas esquiadoras en tu grupo?

Irene Villa: Yes, certainly. You see, I have an advantage because I have buttocks, I have abs. I have an advantage over a teammate who has a spinal injury here [points to the high part of the back] and also competes. So of course classification is very important because we cannot have an advantage. I believe in competing in equal fairness, and disabilities vary so much that you need a good classification. Issues because of classification? Well, I think we are pretty well classified. For example, my fingers [shows hand where she lost three fingers] are not taken into account in classification, there’s always going to be a small detail that they don’t count. This is a disadvantage when holding the outrigger, and yet I’m classified like someone who is missing half a leg, for example. I’m missing both legs and three fingers. But, it’s really complicated to finetune it… Because then we would need to have twenty thousand classifications. This is what we have. ((es))Spanish language: ?Sí, claro que sí. Porque claro, yo tengo ventaja por ejemplo al tener glúteos, al tener abdominales, tengo ventaja sobre una compañera de mi equipo que tiene una lesión medular desde aquí [señala principio de la espalda] y también compite, así que por supuesto la clasificación es muy importante porque no podemos tener ventaja. Creo que tenemos que estar en igualdad de condiciones, y las discapacidades son tan distintas que tienes que tener una buena clasificación. ¿Problemas porque no te clasifican bien? Hombre pues yo creo que nosotras estamos bien clasificadas. Por ejemplo, a mi estos dedos [muestra mano en la que perdió tres dedos] no me los cuentan en la clasificación, claro, siempre va a haber algo pequeño que no te cuentan. Esto es una desventaja al coger el estabilo, y sin embargo estoy clasificada igual que una a la que le falta media pierna, por ejemplo. A mi me faltan las dos y tres dedos. Pero es que claro, es muy dificil dar justo… Porque entonces tendríamos que tener veintemil clasificaciones. Es lo que hay.

((WN)) : Some of the skiers I’ve talked to in the mens’ side, not in Spain, but from other countries, have complained about the quality of womens’ skiing, and that there’s not enough high quality competition. That’s why I was interested in if classification was impacting women’s skiing because there is so few women skiers, that classes seem they’d make it harder to find competitors in classes that are making the sport equitable and fair. ((es))Spanish language: ?Algunos de los esquiadores de otros países con los que he hablado se quejaban de la calidad del esquí femenino, y la escasa calidad de la competición. Por eso me interesaba saber si la clasificación incidía en el esquí femenino al haber tan pocas esquiadoras, que las clases parece que hacen más dificil encontrar competidoras en clases que hacen el deporte más equitativo y justo.

Irene Villa: Of course. In the case of the women, it is really hard to get a woman skiing, to have her compete in sit-ski. In fact, in Spain we exist thanks to Fundación También, which insisted in there being a female category. There was no female category, no women who dared. And we’re the same who started out in 2007. There has been no new blood because women don’t dare, because it is a tough sport, that requires sponsors —that do not exist—, or your own money, and it also demands courage and withstanding bad moments. I’ve suffered cold and injuries, and had some really tough times. You take away the best with you, but it is very hard, and men resist the cold better. ((es))Spanish language: ?Claro. Es que en las mujeres cuesta muchísimo que una mujer se ponga a esquiar, a competir en silla. De hecho en España estamos gracias a la Fundación También, que es la que se empeñó en que hubiese categoría femenina. No existía la categoría femenina, no había mujeres que se atrevieran. Y de hecho somos las mismas que empezamos en el 2007. No se ha renovado porque no se atreven, es un deporte duro, que además requiere sponsors, que no hay, o dinero de tu bolsillo, y además requiere valentía y malos ratos. Yo he pasado mucho frío y muchas caidas, y lo he pasado muy mal. La verdad es que te quedas siempre con lo bueno, pero es muy duro, y es cierto que los hombres son más fuertes para el frío.

((WN)) : Your personal experiences have adequately prepared you to hurl yourself down the mountain at high speed? ((es))Spanish language: ?¿Sus experiencias personales le han preparado adecuadamente para lanzarse pendiente abajo a máxima velocidad?

Irene Villa: At the beginning, it was very scary. The first times were very hard: falls, injuries… I even dislocated my vertebra and got a prothesis for the neck because of a hernia, one teammate broke her clavicle, another her femur… It has a lot of risks, but the truth is, speed hooks you! Once you learn to plant the ski pole, angle yourself, learn the position you must use, which is like a motorcycle rider’s, once you see you can run a lot and not fall, speed is addictive and you want to go faster. ((es))Spanish language: ?Al principio, mucho miedo. Los comienzos fueron muy duros: caidas, lesiones… A mi incluso se me salió el disco del cuello, me tuvieron que poner una prótesis en el cuello por una hernia que tenía, otra se rompió la clavícula, otra el femur, en fin… Tiene mucho riesgo, pero la verdad que la velocidad engancha. Una vez que aprendes a clavar el canto, a angular, la posición en la que tienes que ir, que es como la de un motorista, una vez que ves que puedes correr mucho y no te caes, sí que engancha la velocidad y quieres ir cada vez más rápido.

((WN)) : Most of the ski team looks like they come from the Madrid area? From the Fundación También? ((es))Spanish language: ?¿La mayor parte del equipo parece que vienen de Madrid? ¿De la Fundación También?

Irene Villa: In my team we are from everywhere in Spain. Even Nathalie Carpanedo is from France. ((es))Spanish language: ?En el equipo somos de todas partes de España. Incluso Nathalie [Carpanedo] es de Francia.

((WN)) : How does a Frenchwoman become a Spanish skier? ((es))Spanish language: ?¿Cómo se convierte una francesa en una esquiadora española?

Irene Villa: Because she lives in Madrid. She has the Spanish nationality. Then we have another woman from the South of Spain, in Andalusia, from Tarragona in Catalonia, from Galicia… We are from all parts of Spain. ((es))Spanish language: ?Porque vive en Madrid. Tiene la nacionalidad española. También tenemos a una mujer del sur de España, de Andalucía, otra de Tarragona en Cataluña, de Galicia… Las chicas venimos de todas las partes de España.

((WN)) : So there’s a national ski culture. People think of Spain as a place with beaches and no snow. ((es))Spanish language: ?Así pues hay una cultura de esquí a nivel nacional. La gente piensa de España como un lugar con playas y nada de nieve.

Irene Villa: There’s not too much tradition of paralympic skiing, to be true. There’s less. But we do have Sierra Nevada and the Pyrenees. ((es))Spanish language: ?Del esquí adaptado no hay tanta cultura, eso es cierto. Hay menos. Pero bueno, tenemos Sierra Nevada y tenemos el Pirineo catalán, aragonés…

((WN)) : The Paralympics in Spain are supported by the Plan ADO Paralímpico. Do they provide enough support to women and to winter sports in general? ((es))Spanish language: ?Los deportistas paralímpicos reciben apoyo gracias al Plan ADO Paralímpico. ¿Proporcionan suficiente apoyo para las mujeres y los deportes de invierno en general?

Irene Villa: The people in the national squad, like Úrsula Pueyo, would know that. If Plan ADO helps someone, it’s the people in the national team, those who dedicate their lives to the sport. They offered it to me when I was at my peak, in 2010, when I won my first gold medals and wasn’t yet married. They offered me to move to Baqueira, where Úrsula lives, with Nathalie, and with a Catalan girl too, but I declined, because when you have a life, a daily job, events, conferences, travels…. you can’t leave it all for the sport. But I think the Plan does help the people who dedicate themselves to the sport, like Úrsula. ((es))Spanish language: ?Eso lo saben los que están en el equipo nacional, como Úrsula Pueyo. Si el Plan ADO ayuda a alguien es a quienes están en el equipo nacional, a quienes dejan su vida por el deporte. A mi por ejemplo me lo plantearon cuando yo estaba en mi mejor momento, que fue en el 2010, que gané mis primeros oros y no estaba casada. Me plantearon irme a vivir a Baqueira donde vive Úrsula, con Nathalie, y con otra chica catalana, pero dije que no porque cuando tienes una vida, un trabajo diario, eventos, congresos, viajes… no podía dejarlo todo por el deporte. Pero creo que a la gente que sí que se dedica a ello sí le ayuda. Como a Úrsula.

((WN)) : When I’ve read about disability skiing in Spain for women, they talk about you and they talk about Teresa Silva. Is there a way to get more attention for women skiers on that level, outside of using you and Teresa Silva as a vehicle? Not that you are not great for drawing attention! But how do you draw more attention to women’s sports and high quality that women are capable of doing? ((es))Spanish language: ?Cuando he leído sobre el esquí adaptado en España, suelen hablar de usted y Teresa Silva. ¿Existe alguna forma de atraer más atención a las esquiadoras, más allá de usarlas a ustedes como reclamo? ¡No es que no sean fantásticas para atraer atención! ¿Pero cómo se incrementa la atención al deporte femenino y a la alta calidad que las mujeres son capaces de lograr?

Irene Villa: Oh, I would like that more people would join this sport or any other disability sport, that they practised it. And what we do is try to encourage them through the media, interviews, conferences… Teresa is the director of Fundación También, and she has access to talk with many people. As a speaker in motivation conferences and the like, I make people aware of it too. But it is difficult, because people try it out and love it, but will not race. Because racing is very risky and, well, you saw the slopes yesterday, sometimes they are hard, like a wall, and falling can be awful. But when we get the chance, we promote the sport and try to attract people that way, encouraging them to join this adventure that is sport. ((es))Spanish language: ?Eso es lo que a mi me encantaría, que cada vez más gente se apuntase a este deporte o a cualquier deporte, que hiciese deporte con discapacidad. Y nosotros lo que hacemos es intentar a través de los medios de comunicación, a través de entrevistas, a través de congresos… Teresa es la directora de la Fundación, y tiene acceso a hablar a mucha gente. Yo como ponente de conferencias, de motivación y tal, también lo doy a conocer. Pero es dificil, como digo, porque la gente lo prueba y le encanta, pero dicen que no a la carrera. Porque la carrera tiene muchos riesgos y porque, bueno ya visteis la pista ayer, que es complicada, a veces es muy dura, es un marmol, y las caidas son muy jorobadas. Pero sí que en cuanto podemos y tenemos la oportunidad, lo damos a conocer e intentamos atraer a la gente de esa forma, animándola a que se unan a esta aventura del deporte.

((WN)) : As an outsider from, not Spain, I know you are a political figure. Has that gotten in the way of your ability to be a sportswoman? ((es))Spanish language: ?Como alguien que no es de España, entiendo que usted es una figura política. ¿Ha sido eso un obstáculo a la hora de ser una deportista?

Irene Villa: No… Besides, that part about me being a political figure… I have nothing to do with politics. I don’t know why people always… Why? Because of what happened to me. I was a kid. A 12 year old has nothing to do with politics. We know too that ETA has attacked people who had nothing to do with politics as well. My mother was a police director. What may have interfered is the fact that since I was a known figure I’ve tried that other people…. Let’s see, for example I started doing sport so other people would know you could do sport. So it is true that the fact of being known has pushed me to do more things that I would’ve probably not have done. Because I wanted to show people that you could ski. And I ended up hooked. I only did it for a tv reportage. “Okay okay, a reportage and let’s have people know that yes, we can”. In fact, my book is titled “Knowing that you can” [Saber que se puede, in Spanish]. Later I got hooked. But the fact of being known motivates you to show other people a path that could be very beneficial to them, and at the end you get addicted to it. ((es))Spanish language: ?No… Es que además, lo de política me suena a que… yo no tengo nada que ver con la política. No sé por qué la gente siempre… ¿Por qué? Porque me pasó lo que me pasó. Era una niña. Una persona que tiene 12 años no puede tener nada que ver con la política. ETA ya sabemos que ha atentado contra gente que no tenía que ver con la política. Mi madre era funcionaria de policía. El caso es que lo que quizás ha podido interferir es que el hecho de ser una persona conocida he tratado de intentar que otras personas… A ver, yo empecé por ejemplo a hacer deporte para que otras personas supieran que se podía hacer deporte. Así que sí que es verdad que el hecho de ser conocida me ha impulsado a hacer más cosas de las que hubiese hecho seguramente. Porque yo quería mostrar a la gente que se podía esquiar. Y acabé enganchándome yo. Lo hice simplemente por un reportaje. “Venga venga, un reportaje y que la gente sepa que se puede”. De hecho mi libro se llama Saber que se puede. Luego me enganché. Pero el hecho de ser relevante o conocida te impulsa a mostrar a otras personas un camino que puede ser muy beneficioso para ellos, y al final acabas tú enganchada.

((WN)) : When all is said and done, what do you kind of want your legacy to be? Do you want to be known as Irene Villa, disability sport advocate figure? Do you want to be known like Jon Santacana, or do you want to be known as somebody who has pushed the boundaries in other areas? ((es))Spanish language: ?Al final del día, ¿qué clase de herencia desea dejar? ¿Ser conocida como Irene Villa, deportista y defensora del deporte discapacitado? ¿Ser conocida como Jon Santacana, o como alguien que ha forzado los límites en otras áreas?

Irene Villa: As something more. I’d like my testimony to go beyond sport, which is what I try to do around the world, besides telling people you can do it. It’s about the capacity of a person to make herself, to be happy, to overcome resentment, to love herself, and to love others. I think that is the most important thing. And that’s the basis. I think sport is something that completes your life, mentally and physically. It’s very important. But my message is forgiveness, happiness and hope. ((es))Spanish language: ?Algo más. A mi me gustaría, que es lo que hago por todo el mundo, aparte de decir a la gente que se puede, que mi testimonio vaya más allá del deporte. Es la capacidad de una persona de hacerse a sí misma, de ser feliz, de superar el rencor, de amarse, y de amar a los demás. Yo creo que eso es lo más importante. Y esa es la base. Creo que el deporte es algo que completa tu vida, te complementa mentalmente, físicamente. Es muy importante. Pero mi mensaje es perdón, alegría y esperanza.

((WN)) : Thank you very much! ((es))Spanish language: ?¡Muchísimas gracias!

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US home sales fall at fastest pace on record

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US home sales fall at fastest pace on record
August 18, 2019

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sales of previously owned homes in the US fell at the fastest rate ever recorded last December, according to data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

According to the association, existing home sales fell 16.7% last month, to an annual rate of 5.45 million, the largest crash since 1968. The figure was less than the 5.90 million units, or an eleven percent drop, predicted by most analysts.

Sales of homes went up for the entire of 2009 to 5.156 million units, or 4.9% for the year, and prices dropped from 2008 by 12.4%.

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun described the figures as being “probably the largest annual drop since the Great Depression”. He said that “the market is going through a period of swings driven by the tax credit. We’re likely to have another surge in the spring. Job creation is the key to a continued recovery in the second half of the year.”

Pierre Ellis, a senior economist for Decision Economics in New York, commented on the figures, saying: “The drop in home sales is the payback for the acceleration of sales that occurred with the original first-time home buyers tax credit. […] There is an issue as to whether the decline represents a fundamental weakening.”

“The housing market continues to face significant headwinds, including high unemployment, record delinquencies and foreclosures, the specter of rising mortgage rates as the Fed’s [mortgage-backed securities] purchase programs comes to a close in late March, and tight credit,” Omair Sharif, an economist for RBS Securities, noted.

“Still, the resale market showed resilience in the second half of 2009, and the expansion and extension of the tax credit to April 30 could boost purchases during the spring selling season,” he said.

“We’ll see a pickup in existing home sales in the next couple of months as people take advantage of the tax-credit extension”, economist Adam York of Wells Fargo Securities LLC in Charlotte, North Carolina claimed. He fore-casted a pace of 5.4 million. He said that there were unlikely to be buyers of homes, despite the fact that the U.S. was “past the bottom.”

All four regions of the country saw a decline in sales. In the Northeast, sales fell 19.5 percent, in the Midwest, they plunged 25.8 percent. The South, the country’s largest region, saw a 16.3% decline, while in the West, sales waned by 4.8%.

US stocks fell slightly after the announcement, but went back up later in the day.

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Canberra’s Sophie Lavers crowned Miss World Australia

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Canberra’s Sophie Lavers crowned Miss World Australia
August 18, 2019

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Sophie Lavers, a 24-year-old woman from Canberra, has been crowned Miss World Australia in Sydney. She defeated nineteen other finalists to take the prize and will represent Australia at the Miss World event in South Africa.

The entrants were judged based on several categories including best talent, healthy body image, sports and fitness and beauty with a purpose. An aspiring actress, she is completing an acting course and hopes to build a career in film and television. She is also a qualified fitness instructor and has worked as a Kings Cross waitress.

She has been described in the media as having an “amazing figure” and it has been rumoured that she has used this for modelling work. However, Lavers has said that her body has only been modelled for a good cause: “Some do think that, but I have only ever modelled for charity.”

She also doubts much will change for her, at least in the near future. “I’ll still get up and probably have peanut butter on toast for breakfast but after that I’m not sure what’s happening. I guess I won’t be going to work tomorrow.”

She explained that all the girls who entered were dedicated to making a difference. “I just think it’s like having little angels out there through the country helping in all different areas whether it’s with children, or blind people, or the homeless.” Lavers also complained that non-stop smiling for the event has left here mouth sore. “I’m not used to smiling for hours on end.”

Lavers is now set to head to Johannesburg for the December 12 global competition. “I’ve got to get a month of outfits ready and get a talent and another speech and everything. Oh goodness.”

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