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Twin bomb blasts in 2 Philippine malls kill 6, injure 38
February 12, 2019

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Twin blasts, allegedly caused by improvised explosive devices, rocked two upscale malls in the main financial district in Aguinaldo Street in Iligan City on Thursday. At least three people were killed and forty-seven were wounded when two improvised crude bombs exploded and damaged the Unicity Commercial Center at 1:35 p.m. and the nearby Jerry’s Shoppers Plaza 10 minutes later.

The mall blasts occurred a day before President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s scheduled visit to the City, her maternal hometown. Lanao del Norte police Superintendent Dimacuta Sanggacala said he “corrected the earlier report that six people had been killed, saying that some of those whom they thought were dead were seriously hurt.” “Forty-five people were injured and being treated at the Sanitarium City Hospital and Dr. Uy City Hospital,” he added.

The City of Iligan (Cebuano: Dakbayan sa Iligan; Filipino: Lungsod ng Iligan) is a highly urbanized city North of the province of Lanao del Norte, Philippines, and the province’s former capital. It is approximately 795 kilometers southeast of Manila with a population of 308,046 people as of 2007.

The provincial police said that CCTV video footages from both malls show two men both wearing scarfs, had placed the explosives inside bags and left at the package or baggage counters of the malls. An L-300 van was also destroyed in the blasts. The local SOCO forces, the Explosive Ordnance Disposal team (bomb experts) and the bomb-sniffing K9 unit of the 403rd Brigade were immediately dispatched to search the site for more victims.

Col. Nicanor Dolojan, commander of the Army’s 403rd said that “our suspect here are the lawless MILF group because of the type of the (improvised explosive device) that were used. That IED manifest their signature, using mortar rounds. Terrorism, which is their real intention, to sow terror in the area.That is our initial findings.” Iligan City Mayor Lawrence Cruz said that his local government received several “threats to bomb establishments – department stores, churches, schools, public places, and markets.”

Continuous clashes began in August between government troops and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, after the High Court annulled a Memorandum of Agreement on peace. Reuters reported that “five people were wounded in two blasts on December 4 in another part of Mindanao, which army officials blamed on rogue Muslim rebels fighting a long-running insurgency in the south.” “There have been at least three bomb attacks on bus terminals in the south since July as violence escalated after Manila and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the country’s largest Muslim rebel group, failed to sign a territory deal in August.” it added. In November, three people were also injured in the blasts of the Traveler’s Inn and the Caprice Lodge in Iligan City.

The Abu Sayyaf Group (lang-ar????? ??? ????; Jam??ah Ab? Sayy?f, ASG), also known as ‘al-Harakat al-Islamiyya’ is one of several militant Islamist separatist groups based in and around the southern islands of the Philippines, in Bangsamoro (Jolo, Basilan, and Mindanao) where for almost 30 years various Muslim groups have been engaged in an insurgency for a state, independent of the predominantly Catholic Philippines.

The Times of India reported that “the southern Philippines region of Mindanao is the hotbed of a decades-old Muslim separatist insurgency that has, in recent years, been suspected of harbouring Islamic militants with ties to the al-Qaida network of Osama bin Laden.”

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ACLU, EFF challenging US ‘secret’ court orders seeking Twitter data
February 12, 2019

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Late last month, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed objections to the United States Government’s ‘secret’ attempts to obtain Twitter account information relating to WikiLeaks. The ACLU and EFF cite First and Fourth amendment issues as overriding reasons to overturn government attempts to keep their investigation secret; and, that with Birgitta Jonsdottir being an Icelandic Parliamentarian, the issue has serious international implications.

The case, titled “In the Matter of the 2703(d) Order Relating to Twitter Accounts: Wikileaks, Rop_G, IOERROR; and BirgittaJ“, has been in the EFF’s sights since late last year when they became aware of the US government’s attempts to investigate WikiLeaks-related communications using the popular microblogging service.

The key objective of this US government investigation is to obtain data for the prosecution of Bradley Manning, alleged to have supplied classified data to WikiLeaks. In addition to Manning’s Twitter account, and that of WikiLeaks (@wikileaks), the following three accounts are subject to the order: @ioerror, @birgittaj, and @rop_g. These, respectively, belong to Jacob Apelbaum, Birgitta Jonsdottir, and Rop Gonggrijp.

Birgitta is not the only non-US citizen with their Twitter account targeted by the US Government; Gonggrijp, a Dutch ‘ex-hacker’-turned-security-expert, was one of the founders of XS4ALL – the first Internet Service Provider in the Netherlands available to the public. He has worked on a mobile phone that can encrypt conversations, and proven that electronic voting systems can readily be hacked.

In early March, a Virginia magistrate judge ruled that the government could have the sought records, and neither the targeted users, or the public, could see documents submitted to justify data being passed to the government. The data sought is as follows:

  1. Personal contact information, including addresses
  2. Financial data, including credit card or bank account numbers
  3. Twitter account activity information, including the “date, time, length, and method of connections” plus the “source and destination Internet Protocol address(es)”
  4. Direct Message (DM) information, including the email addresses and IP addresses of everyone with whom the Parties have exchanged DMs

The order demands disclosure of absolutely all such data from November 1, 2009 for the targeted accounts.

The ACLU and EFF are not only challenging this, but demanding that all submissions made by the US government to justify the Twitter disclosure are made public, plus details of any other such cases which have been processed in secret.

Bradley Manning, at the time a specialist from Maryland enlisted with the United States Army’s 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, was arrested in June last year in connection with the leaking of classified combat video to WikiLeaks.

The leaked video footage, taken from a US helicopter gunship, showed the deaths of Reuters staff Saeed Chmagh and Namir Noor-Eldeen during a U.S. assault in Baghdad, Iraq. The wire agency unsuccessfully attempted to get the footage released via a Freedom of Information Act request in 2007.

When WikiLeaks released the video footage it directly contradicted the official line taken by the U.S. Army asserting that the deaths of the two Reuters staff were “collateral damage” in an attack on Iraqi insurgents. The radio chatter associated with the AH-64 Apache video indicated the helicopter crews had mistakenly identified the journalists’ equipment as weaponry.

The US government also claims Manning is linked to CableGate; the passing of around a quarter of a million classified diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks. Manning has been in detention since July last year; in December allegations of torture were made to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights regarding the conditions under which he was and is being detained.

Reports last month that he must now sleep naked and attend role call at the U.S. Marine facility in Quantico in the same state, raised further concern over his detention conditions. Philip J. Crowley, at-the-time a State Department spokesman, remarked on this whilst speaking at Massachusetts Institute of Technology; describing the current treatment of Manning as “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid”, Crowley was, as a consequence, put in the position of having to tender his resignation to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Despite his native Australia finding, in December last year, that Assange’s WikiLeaks had not committed any criminal offences in their jurisdiction, the U.S. government has continued to make ongoing operations very difficult for the whistleblower website.

The result of the Australian Federal Police investigation left the country’s Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, having to retract a statement that WikiLeaks had acted “illegally”; instead, she characterised the site’s actions as “grossly irresponsible”.

Even with Australia finding no illegal activity on the part of WikiLeaks, and with founder Julian Assange facing extradition to Sweden, U.S. pressure sought to hobble WikiLeaks financially.

Based on a State Department letter, online payments site PayPal suspended WikiLeaks account in December. Their action was swiftly followed by Visa Europe and Mastercard ceasing to handle payments for WikiLeaks.

The online processing company, Datacell, threatened the two credit card giants with legal action over this. However, avenues of funding for the site were further curtailed when both Amazon.com and Swiss bank PostFinance joined the financial boycott of WikiLeaks.

Assange continues, to this day, to argue that his extradition to Sweden for questioning on alleged sexual offences is being orchestrated by the U.S. in an effort to discredit him, and thus WikiLeaks.

Wikinews consulted an IT and cryptography expert from the Belgian university which developed the current Advanced Encryption Standard; explaining modern communications, he stated: “Cryptography has developed to such a level that intercepting communications is no longer cost effective. That is, if any user uses the correct default settings, and makes sure that he/she is really connecting to Twitter it is highly unlikely that even the NSA can break the cryptography for a protocol such as SSL/TLS (used for https).”

Qualifying this, he commented that “the vulnerable parts of the communication are the end points.” To make his point, he cited the following quote from Gene Spafford: “Using encryption on the Internet is the equivalent of arranging an armored car to deliver credit card information from someone living in a cardboard box to someone living on a park bench.

Continuing, the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KUL) expert explained:

In the first place, the weak point is Twitter itself; the US government can go and ask for the data; companies such as Twitter and Google will typically store quite some information on their users, including IP addresses (it is known that Google deletes the last byte of the IP address after a few weeks, but it is not too hard for a motivated opponent to find out what this byte was).
In the second place, this is the computer of the user: by exploiting system weaknesses (with viruses, Trojan horses or backdoors in the operating system) a highly motivated opponent can enter your machine and record your keystrokes plus everything that is happening (e.g. the FBI is known to do this with the so-called Magic Lantern software). Such software is also commercially available, e.g. for a company to monitor its employees.
It would also be possible for a higly motivated opponent to play “man-in-the-middle”; that means that instead of having a secure connection to Twitter.com, you have a secure connection to the attacker’s server, who impersonates Twitter’s and then relays your information to Twitter. This requires tricks such as spoofing DNS (this is getting harder with DNSsec), or misleading the user (e.g. the user clicks on a link and connects to tw!tter.com or Twitter.c0m, which look very similar in a URL window as Twitter.com). It is clear that the US government is capable of using these kind of tricks; e.g., a company has been linked to the US government that was recognized as legitimate signer in the major browsers, so it would not be too large for them to sign a legitimate certificate for such a spoofing webserver; this means that the probability that a user would detect a problem would be very low.
As for traffic analysis (finding out who you are talking to rather than finding out what you are telling to whom), NSA and GCHQ are known to have access to lots of traffic (part of this is obtained via the UK-USA agreement). Even if one uses strong encryption, it is feasible for them to log the IP addresses and email addresses of all the parties you are connecting to. If necessary, they can even make routers re-route your traffic to their servers. In addition, the European Data Retention directive forces all operators to store such traffic data.
Whether other companies would have complied with such requests: this is very hard to tell. I believe however that it is very plausible that companies such as Google, Skype or Facebook would comply with such requests if they came from a government.
In summary: unless you go through great lengths to log through to several computers in multiple countries, you work in a clean virtual machine, you use private browser settings (don’t accept cookies, no plugins for Firefox, etc.) and use tools such as Tor, it is rather easy for any service provider to identify you.
Finally: I prefer not to be quoted on any sentences in which I make statements on the capabilities or actions of any particular government.

Wikinews also consulted French IT security researcher Stevens Le Blond on the issues surrounding the case, and the state-of-the-art in monitoring, and analysing, communications online. Le Blond, currently presenting a research paper on attacks on Tor to USENIX audiences in North America, responded via email:

Were the US Government to obtain the sought data, it would seem reasonable the NSA would handle further investigation. How would you expect them to exploit the data and expand on what they receive from Twitter?

  • Le Blond: My understanding is that the DOJ is requesting the following information: 1) Connection records and session times 2) IP addresses 3) e-mail addresses 4) banking info
By requesting 1) and 2) for Birgitta and other people involved with WikiLeaks (WL) since 2009, one could derive 2 main [pieces of] information.
First, he could tell the mobility of these people. Recent research in networking shows that you can map an IP address into a geographic location with a median error of 600 meters. So by looking at changes of IP addresses in time for a Twitter user, one could tell (or at least speculate about) where that person has been.
Second, by correlating locations of different people involved with WL in time, one could possibly derive their interactions and maybe even their level of involvement with WL. Whether it is possible to derive this information from 1) and 2) depends on how this people use Twitter. For example, do they log on Twitter often enough, long enough, and from enough places?
My research indicates that this is the case for other Internet services but I cannot tell whether it is the case for Twitter.
Note that even though IP logging, as done by Twitter, is similar to the logging done by GSM [mobile phone] operators, the major difference seems to be that Twitter is subject to US regulation, no matter the citizenship of its users. I find this rather disturbing.
Using 3), one could search for Birgitta on other Internet services, such as social networks, to find more information on her (e.g., hidden accounts). Recent research on privacy shows that people tend to use the same e-mail address to register an account on different social networks (even when they don’t want these accounts to be linked together). Obviously, one could then issue subpoenas for these accounts as well.
I do not have the expertise to comment on what could be done with 4).
((WN)) As I believe Jonsdottir to be involved in the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (IMMI), what are the wider implications beyond the “WikiLeaks witchhunt”?
  • Le Blond: Personal data can be used to discredit, especially if the data is not public.

Having been alerted to the ongoing case through a joint press release by the ACLU and EFF, Wikinews sought clarification on the primary issues which the two non-profits saw as particularly important in challenging the U.S. Government over the ‘secret’ court orders. Rebecca Jeschke, Media Relations Director for the EFF, explained in more detail the points crucial to them, responding to a few questions from Wikinews on the case:

((WN)) As a worse-case, what precedents would be considered if this went to the Supreme Court?
  • Rebecca Jeschke: It’s extremely hard to know at this stage if this would go to the Supreme Court, and if it did, what would be at issue. However, some of the interesting questions about this case center on the rights of people around the world when they use US Internet services. This case questions the limits of US law enforcement, which may turn out to be very different from the limits in other countries.
((WN)) Since this is clearly a politicised attack on free speech with most chilling potential repercussions for the press, whistleblowers, and by-and-large anyone the relevant U.S. Government departments objects to the actions of, what action do you believe should be taken to protect free speech rights?
  • Jeschke: We believe that, except in very rare circumstances, the government should not be permitted to obtain information about individuals’ private Internet communications in secret. We also believe that Internet companies should, whenever possible, take steps to ensure their customers are notified about requests for information and have the opportunity to respond.
((WN)) Twitter via the web, in my experience, tends to use https:// connections. Are you aware of any possibility of the government cracking such connections? (I’m not up to date on the crypto arms race).
  • Jeschke: You don’t need to crack https, per se, to compromise its security. See this piece about fraudulent https certificates:
Iranian hackers obtain fraudulent httpsEFF website.
((WN)) And, do you believe that far, far more websites should – by default – employ https:// connections to protect people’s privacy?
  • Jeschke: We absolutely think that more websites should employ https! Here is a guide for site operators: (See external links, Ed.)

Finally, Wikinews approached the Icelandic politician, and WikiLeaks supporter, who has made this specific case a landmark in how the U.S. Government handles dealings with – supposedly – friendly governments and their elected representatives. A number of questions were posed, seeking the Icelandic Parliamentarian’s views:

((WN)) How did you feel when you were notified the US Government wanted your Twitter account, and message, details? Were you shocked?
  • Birgitta Jonsdottir: I felt angry but not shocked. I was expecting something like this to happen because of my involvement with WikiLeaks. My first reaction was to tweet about it.
((WN)) What do you believe is their reasoning in selecting you as a ‘target’?
  • Jonsdottir: It is quite clear to me that USA authorities are after Julian Assange and will use any means possible to get even with him. I think I am simply a pawn in a much larger context. I did of course both act as a spokesperson for WikiLeaks in relation to the Apache video and briefly for WikiLeaks, and I put my name to the video as a co-producer. I have not participated in any illegal activity and thus being a target doesn’t make me lose any sleep.
((WN)) Are you concerned that, as a Member of Parliament involved in the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (IMMI), the US attempt to obtain your Twitter data is interfering with planned Icelandic government policy?
  • Jonsdottir: No
((WN)) In an earlier New York Times (NYT) article, you’re indicating there is nothing they can obtain about you that bothers you; but, how do you react to them wanting to know everyone you talk to?
  • Jonsdottir: It bothers me and according to top computer scientists the government should be required to obtain a search warrant to get our IP addresses from Twitter. I am, though, happy I am among the people DOJ is casting their nets around because of my parliamentary immunity; I have a greater protection then many other users and can use that immunity to raise the issue of lack of rights for those that use social media.
HAVE YOUR SAY
Do you believe the U.S. government should have the right to access data on foreign nationals using services such as Twitter?
Add or view comments
((WN)) The same NYT article describes you as a WikiLeaks supporter; is this still the case? What attracts you to their ‘radical transparency’?
  • Jonsdottir: I support the concept of WikiLeaks. While we don’t have a culture of protection for sources and whistleblowers we need sites like WikiLeaks. Plus, I think it is important to give WikiLeaks credit for raising awareness about in how bad shape freedom of information and expression is in our world and it is eroding at an alarming rate because of the fact that legal firms for corporations and corrupt politicians have understood the borderless nature of the legalities of the information flow online – we who feel it is important that people have access to information that should remain in the public domain need to step up our fight for those rights. WikiLeaks has played an important role in that context.I don’t support radical transparency – I understand that some things need to remain secret. It is the process of making things secret that needs to be both more transparent and in better consensus with nations.
((WN)) How do you think the Icelandic government would have reacted if it were tens of thousands of their diplomatic communications being leaked?
  • Jonsdottir: I am not sure – A lot of our dirty laundry has been aired via the USA cables – our diplomatic communications with USA were leaked in those cables, so far they have not stirred much debate nor shock. It is unlikely for tens of thousands of cables to leak from Iceland since we dont have the same influence or size as the USA, nor do we have a military.
((WN)) Your ambassador in the US has spoken to the Obama administration. Can you discuss any feedback from that? Do you have your party’s, and government’s, backing in challenging the ordered Twitter data release?
  • Jonsdottir: I have not had any feedback from that meeting, I did however receive a message from the DOJ via the USA ambassador in Iceland. The message stated three things: 1. I am free to travel to the USA. 2. If I would do so, I would not be a subject of involuntary interrogation. 3. I am not under criminal investigation. If this is indeed the reality I wonder why they are insisting on getting my personal details from Twitter. I want to stress that I understand the reasoning of trying to get to Assange through me, but I find it unacceptable since there is no foundation for criminal investigation against him. If WikiLeaks goes down, all the other media partners should go down at the same time. They all served similar roles. The way I see it is that WikiLeaks acted as the senior editor of material leaked to them. They could not by any means be considered a source. The source is the person that leaks the material to WikiLeaks. I am not sure if the media in our world understands how much is at stake for already shaky industry if WikiLeaks will carry on carrying the brunt of the attacks. I think it would be powerful if all the medias that have had access to WikiLeaks material would band together for their defence.
((WN)) Wikinews consulted a Belgian IT security expert who said it was most likely companies such as Facebook, Microsoft, and Google, would have complied with similar court orders *without advising the ‘targets*’. Does that disturb you?
  • Jonsdottir: This does disturb me for various reasons. The most obvious is that my emails are hosted at google/gmail and my search profile. I dont have anything to hide but it is important to note that many of the people that interact with me as a MP via both facebook and my various email accounts don’t always realize that there is no protection for them if they do so via those channels. I often get sensitive personal letters sent to me at facebook and gmail. In general most people are not aware of how little rights they have as users of social media. It is those of uttermost importance that those sites will create the legal disclaimers and agreements that state the most obvious rights we lose when we sign up to their services.
This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.
((WN)) Has there been any backlash within Iceland against US-based internet services in light of this? Do you expect such, or any increase in anti-American sentiments?
  • Jonsdottir: No, none what so ever. I dont think there is much anti-American sentiments in Iceland and I dont think this case will increase it. However I think it is important for everyone who does not live in the USA and uses social services to note that according to the ruling in my case, they dont have any protection of the 1st and 4th amendment, that only apply to USA citizens. Perhaps the legalities in relation to the borderless reality we live in online need to be upgraded in order for people to feel safe with using social media if it is hosted in the USA. Market tends to bend to simple rules.
((WN)) Does this make you more, or less, determined to see the IMMI succeed?
  • Jonsdottir: More. People have to realize that if we dont have freedom of information online we won’t have it offline. We have to wake up to the fact that our rights to access information that should be in the public domain is eroding while at the same time our rights as citizens online have now been undermined and we are only seen as consumers with consumers rights and in some cases our rights are less than of a product. This development needs to change and change fast before it is too late.

The U.S. Government continues to have issues internationally as a result of material passed to WikiLeaks, and subsequently published.

Within the past week, Ecuador has effectively declared the U.S. ambassador Heather Hodges persona-non-grata over corruption allegations brought to light in leaked cables. Asking the veteran diplomat to leave “as soon as possible”, the country may become the third in South America with no ambassadorial presence. Both Venezuela and Bolivia have no resident U.S. ambassador due to the two left-wing administrations believing the ejected diplomats were working with the opposition.

The U.S. State Department has cautioned Ecuador that a failure to speedily normalise diplomatic relations may jeapordise ongoing trade talks.

The United Kingdom is expected to press the Obama administration over the continuing detention of 23-year-old Manning, who also holds UK citizenship. British lawmakers are to discuss his ongoing detention conditions before again approaching the U.S. with their concerns that his solitary confinement, and treatment therein, is not acceptable.

The 22 charges brought against Manning are currently on hold whilst his fitness to stand trial is assessed.

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Ban on YouTube spreads to Google services in Turkey
February 11, 2019

Monday, June 7, 2010

Access to search engine Google has been limited and most of Google’s online services cannot be accessed in Turkey. The access limitation happened due to the blocking of an IP set that belongs to Google. These IP addresses were shared between YouTube and other Google services.

The Turkish news site Hürriyet Daily News reports that Turkey’s Telecommunications Communication Presidency (TCP) (a government agency that manages Turkish ISPs) indefinitely shut off access to several Google services. The shut-off came after the banning of YouTube for alleged insults against Turkish Republic founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. TCP released an official statement Friday, saying it had blocked access to some Google IP addresses “because of legal reasons”. Under Turkish law, it is an offence to “insult Turkishness.”

Softpedia states that the limited access to Google could be a result of the government trying to block specific DNS addresses that relate to Google, as part of its ongoing attempts to block YouTube. Since Google services share common software and IP addresses, the search engine itself suffers from access restrictions. Turkish citizens are concerned that this move of the governmental agency was another step towards a complete ban on Google, as exists in China.

Several Internet sites have been banned in Turkey in recent years, and although some of them were subsequently unbanned, most of them remain inaccessible. Engelli Web, a website listing banned sites reports that currently YouTube (since May 2008), Last.fm (since June 26, 2009), and Spanish newspaper El Mundo (since May 14, 2010) are among the banned sites in Turkey. MySpace and WordPress were also among banned sites for a period of time. Websites will be blocked following a court decision or if TCP decides to block on its behalf.

RetweetToday reports that Turkish citizens on Twitter have also reported access problems. Comments about the blockage are being shared using hashtags such as TurkeyCensorGoogle and TurkeyGoogleBan, as well as NoGoogleNoWeb.

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BDSM as business: An interview with the owners of a dungeon
February 10, 2019

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Torture proliferates American headlines today: whether its use is defensible in certain contexts and the morality of the practice. Wikinews reporter David Shankbone was curious about torture in American popular culture. This is the first of a two part series examining the BDSM business. This interview focuses on the owners of a dungeon, what they charge, what the clients are like and how they handle their needs.

When Shankbone rings the bell of “HC & Co.” he has no idea what to expect. A BDSM (Bondage Discipline Sadism Masochism) dungeon is a legal enterprise in New York City, and there are more than a few businesses that cater to a clientèle that wants an enema, a spanking, to be dressed like a baby or to wear women’s clothing. Shankbone went to find out what these businesses are like, who runs them, who works at them, and who frequents them. He spent three hours one night in what is considered one of the more upscale establishments in Manhattan, Rebecca’s Hidden Chamber, where according to The Village Voice, “you can take your girlfriend or wife, and have them treated with respect—unless they hope to be treated with something other than respect!”

When Shankbone arrived on the sixth floor of a midtown office building, the elevator opened up to a hallway where a smiling Rebecca greeted him. She is a beautiful forty-ish Long Island mother of three who is dressed in smart black pants and a black turtleneck that reaches up to her blond-streaked hair pulled back in a bushy ponytail. “Are you David Shankbone? We’re so excited to meet you!” she says, and leads him down the hall to a living room area with a sofa, a television playing an action-thriller, an open supply cabinet stocked with enema kits, and her husband Bill sitting at the computer trying to find where the re-release of Blade Runner is playing at the local theater. “I don’t like that movie,” says Rebecca.

Perhaps the most poignant moment came at the end of the night when Shankbone was waiting to be escorted out (to avoid running into a client). Rebecca came into the room and sat on the sofa. “You know, a lot of people out there would like to see me burn for what I do,” she says. Rebecca is a woman who has faced challenges in her life, and dealt with them the best she could given her circumstances. She sees herself as providing a service to people who have needs, no matter how debauched the outside world deems them. They sat talking mutual challenges they have faced and politics (she’s supporting Hillary); Rebecca reflected upon the irony that many of the people who supported the torture at Abu Ghraib would want her closed down. It was in this conversation that Shankbone saw that humanity can be found anywhere, including in places that appear on the surface to cater to the inhumanity some people in our society feel towards themselves, or others.

“The best way to describe it,” says Bill, “is if you had a kink, and you had a wife and you had two kids, and every time you had sex with your wife it just didn’t hit the nail on the head. What would you do about it? How would you handle it? You might go through life feeling unfulfilled. Or you might say, ‘No, my kink is I really need to dress in women’s clothing.’ We’re that outlet. We’re not the evil devil out here, plucking people off the street, keeping them chained up for days on end.”

Below is David Shankbone’s interview with Bill & Rebecca, owners of Rebecca’s Hidden Chamber, a BDSM dungeon.

Contents

  • 1 Meet Bill & Rebecca, owners of a BDSM dungeon
    • 1.1 Their home life
  • 2 Operating the business
    • 2.1 The costs
    • 2.2 Hiring employees
    • 2.3 The prices
  • 3 The clients
    • 3.1 What happens when a client walks through the door
    • 3.2 Motivations of the clients
    • 3.3 Typical requests
    • 3.4 What is not typical
  • 4 The environment
    • 4.1 Is an S&M dungeon dangerous?
    • 4.2 On S&M burnout
  • 5 Criticism of BDSM
  • 6 Related news
  • 7 External links
  • 8 Sources

Posted in: Uncategorized | No Comments »

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Hotel development proposal could displace Buffalo, NY business owners
February 10, 2019
Buffalo, N.Y. Hotel Proposal Controversy
Recent Developments
  • “120 year-old documents threaten development on site of Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal” — Wikinews, November 21, 2006
  • “Proposal for Buffalo, N.Y. hotel reportedly dead: parcels for sale “by owner”” — Wikinews, November 16, 2006
  • “Contract to buy properties on site of Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal extended” — Wikinews, October 2, 2006
  • “Court date “as needed” for lawsuit against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal” — Wikinews, August 14, 2006
  • “Preliminary hearing for lawsuit against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal rescheduled” — Wikinews, July 26, 2006
  • “Elmwood Village Hotel proposal in Buffalo, N.Y. withdrawn” — Wikinews, July 13, 2006
  • “Preliminary hearing against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal delayed” — Wikinews, June 2, 2006
Original Story
  • “Hotel development proposal could displace Buffalo, NY business owners” — Wikinews, February 17, 2006

Friday, February 17, 2006

Buffalo, New York —Savarino Construction Services Corp. has proposed a $7 million hotel project at the Forest and Elmwood Avenue intersection, according to The Buffalo News. The proposal calls for a 5-story, 45,000 square-foot 80-room hotel with underground parking for at least 50 vehicles, and 4,500 square-feet of retail space on the lower level.

Hans Mobius, the owner of the five properties to be purchased in the plan (1109 to 1121 Elmwood), reportedly signed a contract with Savarino to assemble the development.

“We saw a huge opportunity to bring something to the Elmwood Village that will make sense and bring a service that’s currently not available,” said Eva Hassett, vice president of Savarino. “Elmwood is such a wonderful place to eat, shop, walk and spend time. We believe this project will add to that vibrant environment.”

Some business owners in the area see it differently. Wikinews interviewed 2 of the 4 owners whose business’s would be demolished if the development goes through.

Nancy Pollina, of Don Apparel at 1119 Elmwood, who found out about the development only yesterday, said she is “utterly” against the proposal. Her apparel shop has stood at the same location for nearly 14 years. She has volunteered in the community, and helped create several gardens around bus shelters in the city, and served on Forever Elmwood Board for six years as head of Beautification. Patty Morris co-owns Don Apparel with Pollina.

“To say this is a good looking project, I want to say the emperor has no clothes. This [project] does not take into consideration the needs of the college students. I have been told by college students, these shops here, are the reason they leave the campus,” said Mrs. Pollina.

Buffalo State College is 500-feet from the intersection.

Michael Faust, the owner of Mondo Video said, “Well, I do not really want to get kicked out of here. The landlord was very open, and the deal he made with me when I moved in here was ‘the rent is cheap and I [the landlord] will not fix anything and that will not change.'” Faust said he first learned of the development plan, “about 48 hours ago. I found out on Tuesday when the Buffalo News called and asked for my opinion on this.” Faust has not said if he will make plans to relocate. “We have to see if this [house] is going to get knocked down first,” said Faust.

An “informational” meeting, where citizens can voice opinions and learn about the proposal, will be held on Tuesday February 21, 2006 at 5:00pm (eastern), at the Burchfield-Penney Art Center Gallery at Buffalo State College, Rockwell Hall.

Executive director of Forever Elmwood Corporation, Justin P. Azzarella would not comment on whether or not the organization supports the development, saying, “you will just have to come to the meeting.”

Forever Elmwood Corp. is designed to preserve and protect the unique and historic nature of Elmwood Avenue and its surrounding neighborhoods and encourage neighborhood commercial revitalization. The organization was founded in 1994.

Nearly two years ago, the Forever Elmwood Corp. assisted in the blocking of the demolition of the Edward Atwater house at 1089 Elmwood next to Pano’s Restaurant which is at 1081 Elmwood. Owner Pano Georgiadis wanted to expand his restaurant onto the property where the house now stands, but the Common Council denied his permit to demolish saying the house is a historical landmark and needs to be protected. Georgiadis, who has a bleeding ulcer, said that all the court cases landed him in the hospital. “I got a bleeding ulcer, and since then, I don’t care about this house anymore, or this city. I just go to work every day. I think [preservationists] are parasites,” said Georgiadis.

Georgiadis will not be attending Tuesday’s meeting saying, “I will be out of town.”

In 1995 Hans Mobius proposed a plan to develop a Walgreens, that was to be placed in the same location, but residents and business owners shot down the proposal. Walgreens eventually withdrew its request for a variance after pressure from the community.

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Evangelist Kent Hovind’s tax trial begins
February 10, 2019

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Evangelist Kent Hovind and his wife, Jo, are trying to convince a federal jury that their money from video and amusement park admission sales belong to God and cannot be taxed. The trial began at United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida on Tuesday October 18, 2006 after twelve jury members and two alternates were selected to decide on the 58 federal courts against Hovind and his wife. The trial was expected to take at least two weeks to complete with the prosecution hoping to rest its case Tuesday, but a defense attorney became ill and the Judge delayed the trial until October 30th.

Hovind is a Young Earth creationist who does many speaking engagements and debates. He also sells videos giving a pro-creationism perspective, which he receives income for. Hovind, who calls himself “Dr. Dino”, received a Ph.D in “Christian education” from the unaccredited correspondence school Patriot Bible University in 1991.

Contents

  • 1 Charges
  • 2 Government witnesses
  • 3 Hovind’s employees
  • 4 Pensacola Christian College
  • 5 IRS and ‘beating the system’
  • 6 Related news
  • 7 Sources

Prosecutor Michelle Heldmeyer said from 1999 to March 2004, the Hovinds took in more than $5 million. Heldmeyer charged Hovind on 12 counts for failing to pay about $470,000 in federal income, Social Security and Medicare taxes for his ministry employees between March 31, 2001, and Jan. 31, 2004. Counts 13 through 57 include Hovind’s wife for making 45 transactions in a little more than a year, sometimes taking out as much as $9,500 at a time. Banks are required to report cash withdrawals that exceed $10,000.

In count 58 against Kent includes filing a frivolous lawsuit against the IRS, demanding damages for criminal trespass, filing an injunction against an IRS agent, making threats against investigators and those cooperating with the investigation, and filing false complaints against the IRS for false arrest, excessive use of force and theft.

In July with his attorney, Public Defender Kafahni Nkrumah, Hovind stated that he did not recognize the government’s right to try him on tax-fraud charges.

This is not the first time Hovind has found himself in legal trouble. In 2002 he refused to get a $50.00 building permit for his Dinosaur Adventure Land, and after three years of legal battles the court ruled that he get a permit or the building would be razed. The park, which depicts dinosaurs as coexisting with humans in the last 6-4,000 years with the more recent “dinosaurs” being the Loch Ness monster, is reportedly open after Hovind paid for the permit and fines totaling $10,402.64.

More directly, M.C. Powe, an IRS officer who investigates people who have unpaid tax returns or unpaid tax liabilities, testified at Hovind’s current trial on October, 19, 2006 that she first attempted to collect taxes from the Hovinds in 1996. She noted Hovind tried several “bullying tactics” that included suing her at least three times. These resulted in each case being thrown out.

Wikisource has original text related to this article:

Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Beard handled Hovind’s bankruptcy in 1996 testified on Wednesday that in 1996 after Hovind’s vehicles were seized by the IRS, he filed under the Chapter 13 “wage-earner plan,” available only to those who have a regular source of income. However, Hovind wrote that he had no form of income, that he rejected his Social Security number and that his employer was God, Beard testified.

In a 2005 affidavit, the Hovinds argue that Social Security is essentially a “Ponzi scheme.” The Hovinds referred to the United States Government as “the ‘bankrupt’ corporate government” and said they were renouncing their United States citizenship and Social Security numbers to become “a natural citizen of ‘America’ and a natural sojourner.”

Wikisource has original text related to this article:

On Thursday an employee of AmSouth Bank explained that the Currency Transaction Reports requires the bank to report any time a cash amount of $10,000 or more is withdrawn or deposited. This employee noted that various records demonstreated Jo Hovind had made transactions up to $15,000 at a time.

Also on Thursday Hovind’s former neighbor testified regarding Hovind’s purchasing of her Palafox Street home. On the stand she said Hovind paid her $30,000 in cash as part of the $155,000 sale.

In this week’s trial two of Hovind’s workers testified in federal court that they didn’t consider where they worked to be a church. In court Hovind maintains he does not have to pay the taxes because his employees were “volunteers,” “missionaries” or “ministers” and his business was a ministry.

However, Brian Popp, Hovind’s employee for at least eight years, said he considered himself a minister at the time of his employment, but said Hovind’s ministry isn’t a church. Popp also testified that Hovind knew about the bank’s requirement to report transactions over $10,000 and said it was “not safe to carry large sums of cash.”

Further, Popp said Hovind told his workers not to accept mail addressed to “KENT HOVIND” because Hovind told the workers the government created a corporation in his “all-caps name” and if the mail was accepted, Hovind claimed, it would be accepting the responsibilities associated with that corporation.

Diane P. Cooksey, served as a sales representative for the ministry from January 2003 to June 2005, and said Hovind expected to pay her own taxes. Cooksey said, “He explained what his belief was, right up front in the interview, that I would pay my own taxes.” As told’s worker, she received $10 an hour in a weekly paycheck, punched a time clock, was given 10 paid vacation days a year, and considered herself an employee, not a missionary as a few others called themselves.

The IRS raided Hovind’s Dinosaur Adventure Land in April 2004, after which Hovind required his employees to sign nondisclosure agreements. “I was uncomfortable signing it, I guess, because of not having a full understanding,” Cooksey said.

Rebekah Horton, vice president of the unaccredited Pensacola Christian College, took the stand on the second day of the trial and testified that “We know the Scriptures do not promote (tax evasion)”. “It’s against Scripture teaching.”

Horton was given a videotape in the mid 1990s from a woman who worked for Hovind. The video contained “another evangelist advocating tax evasion,” Horton explained. The woman who gave the tape to Horton claimed Hovind’s philosophy as “You were giving a gift with your work, and they were giving a gift back to you.”

Pensacola Christian College decided to disallow its students from working with Hovind’s Creation Science Evangelism and reported Hovind’s scheme to the IRS.

On Friday, attorney David Charles Gibbs testified that Hovind claimed he had no obligation to pay employee income taxes and explained with “a great deal of bravado” how he had “beat the tax system.” Gibbs is an attorney with the Gibbs Law Firm, also is affiliated with the Christian Law Association, a nonprofit organization founded by his father that offers free legal help to churches nationwide in a suburb of St. Petersburg, Florida. Gibbs attended the Marcus Pointe Baptist Church when Hovind was a guest speaker at the church on October 17, 2004. Hovind invited Gibbs and others to Hovind’s home for pizza and soda.

Gibbs testified they talked for many hours, and Hovind “tried to stress to me that he was like the pope and this was like the Vatican.” Also Gibbs explained Hovind also told him he preferred to deal in cash because “dealing with cash there is no way to trace it, so it wasn’t taxable.”

Wikisource has original text related to this article:

Later on Friday, Special IRS Agent Scott Schneider took up the remainder of the day and is expected to resume Monday. Schneider told the jury his investigation revealed that Hovind “hadn’t filed tax returns ever, to my knowledge.”

Hovind tried suing the IRS and Schneider several times to avoid providing information required by the IRS. Each filing was thrown out by the judges.

Schneider’s discussed documents seized during the 2004 raid of Hovind’s property. These documents, Schneider explained, indicated Hovind ran his ministry as a business with “meticulous” payroll documents and a time clock employees had to punch in and out.

In the raid cash was found “all over the place.” Ultimately, $42,000 in cash was seized along with half-dozen guns (including a SKS semiautomatic) at the Hovinds’ home.

The Pensacola News Journal noted that “in one memo, Jo Hovind informed her daughter, who works at the park, that her pay would be docked $10 for talking too long on the telephone when she should have been working.”

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Click Here For More Specific Information On:

NSW Strata Scheme Management Act

by

Chris Whelan

Conveyance (strata title) Act of 1961 came up to facilitate the subdivision of land in a particular strata scheme. It also amended the Conveyance Act of 1919 and the Land Tax Management Act 1956 and certain other acts in certain respect and also for certain purpose.

Before the above act of 1961 people who wanted to buy a unit in a multi storey or high rise building had to buy shares from a company. Here, instead of property deeds they received share certificates to prove their ownership. There were certain lacunas which led to dissatisfaction among people. To streamline the property ownership and give the owners certain amount of independence and freedom the Strata Title Act of 1961 was introduced in the state of New South Wales in Australia.

Since its inception this act has undergone a lot of changes through different amendments and the most important ones are- NSW Strata Scheme Management Act of 2010 and NSW Strata Scheme Management Regulation 2010

All these regulations have been an attempt on the government s part to tackle the problems faced by the people and make sure that the residents on a strata scheme live harmoniously without any problem.Strata or strata title as it is known refers to a form of ownership of multilevel apartments. As a concept it came up for handling the legal ownership of a part or portion of a building or structure. These independent parts are better known as lots.

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After availing the land in proper zone, the builder has to get the approval and sanction from the local council and then can proceed with the development of the Strata title property and the last stage is to divide it into different sub- division lots and common property. After a registered surveyor draws up a strata plan it is submitted to the local council for approval. After it has been verified and approved it then gets registered at the NSW Land Title office. This marks the beginning of a Strata Title Scheme.

The new policy of strata scheme handles the legal ownership of a part or portion on a building or structure commonly known as a lot. This portion can be villas, townhouses, offices, retail shop, so on and so forth. By virtue of a strata title a lit owner independently holds the right over his lot and shares the ownership of the common property by other members of the owner s corporation.

This gave a lot of independence which was previously denied. Since there is a lot of work involved in the day to day functioning of a strata scheme it has been a fairly common practice to hire strata managers to handle financial, secretarial and maintenance issues.

What are the prime bodies in a Strata Title Scheme?

Owner s corporation- it consists of all the lot owners of a particular scheme

It is a legal entity and strata plan number is then allocated by the NSW land titles office

Executive committee- it consists of those members of the owner s corporation who will represent their scheme and take responsibility of the common property

Strata managers- the owner s corporation or the Body Corporate generally hire the services of a strata management company and employ a strata manager to look after the day to day functioning of a particular scheme. They are experienced professionals who look after the financial, accounting and maintenance aspect of strata and along with the executive members make life in a strata scheme a harmonious and enjoyable experience.

Strata living are different concept which is gaining popularity among people because in this busy lifestyle they are able to avail all facilities under one roof without the bother of single handed maintenance.

Christopher Whelan is a Licensed Strata manager at Whelan Property Group Pvt. Ltd. has years of experience in the marketing and trading

strata title management

. His online and offline knowledge regarding

strata management act

and schemes makes him a great resource of strata community.

Article Source:

ArticleRich.com

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China sets up US$10 billion credit line with European nations
February 9, 2019

Sunday, April 29, 2012

China has pledged US$10 billion in credit to back joint projects with Central and Eastern European countries. Visiting Chinese Premiere Wen Jiabao announced the deal at a business forum in Warsaw, Poland, and said he hopes the deal will facilitate the two sides’ cooperation.

To boost business and trade, Wen said that China wants to help with infrastructure projects, including new technologies and green economy sectors. Also discussed at the Economic Forum was a new investment cooperation fund which would initially boast US$500 million to assist Chinese investments in the region. He also announced a plan to expand the Chinese market with other countries with hopes to build trade exchange to US$100 billion before the year 2015.

“China will work with countries in Central and Eastern Europe to mutually open the markets and to increase the trade exchange to $100 billion before 2015,” Wen said.

He said trade volume between China and central and eastern European countries reached 52.9 billion US dollars in 2011 and had grown 27.6 percent a year on average since 2001, when it was only 4.3 billion US dollars.

Thus far, the largest Chinese investment has been a €1.2 billion (US$1.6 billion) deal made by China’s Wanhua Industrial Group that gained full control of Borsodchem, a Hungarian chemicals firm. Other recent investments were made in Serbia, where a €170 million (US$225 million) bridge was built over the Danube river in Belgrade.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk of Poland happily welcomed the Chinese investment, noting the country’s uprising economy and European leadership role. Both Wen and Tusk enthused about the potential they say their partnership has and encouraged others in the region to form similar agreements.

The Chinese are “very pragmatic” in business, Andrzej Pawelec of Agrihortus company said, who is seeking new partners in China to sell its beverages. “If they see a good and honest business proposal, they are always open.”

Wen started his official visit to Poland on Wednesday. Poland is the last leg of a four-nation Europe tour that included visits to Iceland and Sweden and the opening ceremony of the Hannover Fair in Germany.

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Petition pressures City of Edinburgh Council to review clause affecting live music scene
February 9, 2019

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Live music venues in Edinburgh, Scotland are awaiting a review later this year on the 2005 licensing policy, which places limitations on the volume of amplified music in the city. Investigating into how the policy is affecting the Edinburgh music scene, a group of Wikinews writers interviewed venue owners, academics, the City of Edinburgh Council, and local band The Mean Reds to get different perspectives on the issue.

Since the clause was introduced by the government of the city of Edinburgh, licensed venues have been prohibited from allowing music to be amplified to the extent it is audible to nearby residential properties. This has affected the live music scene, with several venues discontinuing regular events such as open mic nights, and hosting bands and artists.

Currently, the licensing policy allows licensing standards officers to order a venue to cease live music on any particular night, based on a single noise complaint from the public. The volume is not electronically measured to determine if it breaches a decibel volume level. Over roughly the past year there have been 56 separate noise complaints made against 18 venues throughout the city.

A petition to amend the clause has garnered over 3,000 signatures, including the support of bar owners, musicians, and members of the general public.

On November 17, 2014, the government’s Culture and Sport Committee hosted an open forum meeting at Usher Hall. Musicians, venue owners and industry professionals were encouraged to provide their thoughts on how the council could improve live music in the city. Ways to promote live music as a key cultural aspect of Edinburgh were discussed and it was suggested that it could be beneficial to try and replicate the management system of live music of other global cities renowned for their live music scenes. However, the suggestion which prevailed above all others was simply to review the existing licensing policy.

Councillor (Cllr) Norma Austin-Hart, Vice Convenor of the Culture and Sport Committee, is responsible for the working group Music is Audible. The group is comprised of local music professionals, and councillors and officials from Edinburgh Council. A document circulated to the Music is Audible group stated the council aims “to achieve a balance between protecting residents and supporting venues”.

Following standard procedure, when a complaint is made, a Licensing Standards Officer (LSO) is dispatched to investigate the venue and evaluate the level of noise. If deemed to be too loud, the LSO asks the venue to lower the noise level. According to a document provided by the City of Edinburgh Council, “not one single business has lost its license or been closed down because of a breach to the noise condition in Edinburgh.”

In the Scotland Licensing Policy (2005), Clause 6.2 states, “where the operating plan indicates that music is to be played in a premises, the board will consider the imposition of a condition requiring amplified music from those premises to be inaudible in residential property.” According to Cllr Austin-Hart, the high volume of tenement housing in the city centre makes it difficult for music to be inaudible.

During the Edinburgh Festival Fringe during the summer, venues are given temporary licences that allow them to operate for the duration of the festival and under the condition that “all amplified music and vocals are controlled to the satisfaction of the Director of Services for Communities”, as stated in a document from the council. During the festival, there is an 11 p.m. noise restriction on amplified music, and noise may be measured by Environmental Health staff using sophisticated equipment. Noise is restricted to 65dB(A) from the facades of residential properties; however, complaints from residents still occur. In the document from the council, they note these conditions and limitations for temporary venues would not necessarily be appropriate for permanent licensed premises.

In a phone interview, Cllr Austin-Hart expressed her concern about the unsettlement in Edinburgh regarding live music. She referenced the closure of the well-known Picture House, a venue that has provided entertainment for over half a century, and the community’s opposition to commercial public bar chain Wetherspoon buying the venue. “[It] is a well-known pub that does not play any form of music”, Cllr Austin-Hart said. “[T]hey feel as if it is another blow to Edinburgh’s live music”. “[We] cannot stop Wetherspoon’s from buying this venue; we have no control over this.”

The venue has operated under different names, including the Caley Palais which hosted bands such as Queen and AC/DC. The Picture House opened in 2008.

One of the venues which has been significantly affected by the licensing laws is the Phoenix Bar, on Broughton Street. The bar’s owner, Sam Roberts, was induced to cease live music gigs in March, following a number of noise complaints against the venue. As a result, Ms Roberts was inspired to start the aforementioned petition to have Clause 6.2 of the licensing policy reviewed, in an effort to remove the ‘inaudibility’ statement that is affecting venues and the music scene.

“I think we not only encourage it, but actively support the Edinburgh music scene,” Ms Roberts says of the Phoenix Bar and other venues, “the problem is that it is a dying scene.”

When Ms Roberts purchased the venue in 2013, she continued the existing 30-year legacy established by the previous owners of hosting live acts. Representative of Edinburgh’s colourful music scene, a diverse range of genres have been hosted at the venue. Ms Roberts described the atmosphere when live music acts perform at her venue as “electric”. “The whole community comes together singing, dancing and having a party. Letting their hair down and forgetting their troubles. People go home happy after a brilliant night out. All the staff usually join in; the pub comes alive”. However licensing restrictions have seen a majority of the acts shut down due to noise complaints. “We have put on jazz, blues, rock, rockabilly, folk, celtic and pop live acts and have had to close everything down.” “Residents in Edinburgh unfortunately know that the Council policy gives them all the rights in the world, and the pubs and clubs none”, Ms Roberts clarified.

Discussing how inaudibility has affected venues and musicians alike, Ms Roberts stated many pubs have lost profit through the absence of gigs, and trying to soundproof their venue. “It has put many musicians out of work and it has had an enormous effect on earnings in the pub. […] Many clubs and bars have been forced to invest in thousands of pounds worth of soundproofing equipment which has nearly bankrupted them, only to find that even the tiniest bit of noise can still force a closure. It is a ridiculously one-sided situation.” Ms Roberts feels inaudibility is an unfair clause for venues. “I think it very clearly favours residents in Edinburgh and not business. […] Nothing is being done to support local business, and closing down all the live music venues in Edinburgh has hurt financially in so many ways. Not only do you lose money, you lose new faces, you lose the respect of the local musicians, and you begin to lose all hope in a ‘fair go’.”

With the petition holding a considerable number of signatures, Ms Roberts states she is still sceptical of any change occurring. “Over three thousand people have signed the petition and still the council is not moving. They have taken action on petitions with far fewer signatures.” Ms Roberts also added, “Right now I don’t think Edinburgh has much hope of positive change”.

Ms Roberts seems to have lost all hope for positive change in relation to Edinburgh’s music scene, and argues Glasgow is now the regional choice for live music and venues. “[E]veryone in the business knows they have to go to Glasgow for a decent scene. Glasgow City Council get behind their city.”

Ms Martina Cannon, member of local band The Mean Reds, said a regular ‘Open Mic Night’ she hosted at The Parlour on Duke Street has ceased after a number of complaints were made against the venue. “It was a shame because it had built up some momentum over the months it had been running”. She described financial loss to the venue from cancelling the event, as well as loss to her as organiser of the event.

Sneaky Pete’s music bar and club, owned by Nick Stewart, is described on its website as “open and busy every night”.”Many clubs could be defined as bars that host music, but we really are a music venue that serves drinks”, Mr Stewart says. He sees the live music scene as essential for maintaining nightlife in Edinburgh not only because of the economic benefit but more importantly because of the cultural significance. “Music is one of the important things in life. […] it’s emotionally and intellectually engaging, and it adds to the quality of life that people lead.”

Sneaky Pete’s has not been immune to the inaudibility clause. The business has spent about 20,000 pounds on multiple soundproofing fixes designed to quell complaints from neighboring residents. “The business suffered a great deal in between losing the option to do gigs for fear of complaints, and finishing the soundproofing. As I mentioned, we are a music business that serves drinks, not a bar that also has music, so when we lose shows, we lose a great deal of trade”, said Mr Stewart.

He believes there is a better way to go about handling complaints and fixing public nuisances. “The local mandatory condition requiring ‘amplified music and vocals’ to be ‘inaudible’ should be struck from all licenses. The requirement presupposes that nuisance is caused by music venues, when this may not reasonably be said to be the case. […] Nuisance is not defined in the Licensing Act nor is it defined in the Public Health Act (Scotland) 2008. However, The Consultation on Guidance to accompany the Statutory Nuisance Provisions of the Public Health etc (Scotland) Act 2008 states that ‘There are eight key issues to consider when evaluating whether a nuisance exists[…]'”.

The eight key factors are impact, locality, time, frequency, duration, convention, importance, and avoidability. Stewart believes it is these factors that should be taken into consideration by LSOs responding to complaints instead of the sole factor of “audibility”.He believes multiple steps should be taken before considering revocation of licenses. Firstly, LSOs should determine whether a venue is a nuisance based on the eight factors. Then, the venue should have the opportunity to comply by using methods such as changing the nature of their live performances (e.g. from hard rock to acoustic rock), changing their hours of operation, or soundproofing. If the venue still fails to comply, then a board can review their license with the goal of finding more ways to bring them into compliance as opposed to revoking their license.

Nick Stewart has discussed his proposal at length with Music is Audible and said he means to present his proposal to the City of Edinburgh Council.

Dr Adam Behr, a music academic and research associate at the University of Edinburgh who has conducted research on the cultural value of live music, says live music significantly contributes to the economic performance of cities. He said studies have shown revenue creation and the provision of employment are significant factors which come about as a result of live music. A 2014 report by UK Music showed the economic value generated by live music in the UK in 2013 was £789 million and provided the equivalent of 21,600 full time jobs.

As the music industry is international by nature, Behr says this complicates the way revenue is allocated, “For instance, if an American artist plays a venue owned by a British company at a gig which is promoted by a company that is part British owned but majority owned by, say, Live Nation (a major international entertainment company) — then the flow of revenues might not be as straightforward as it seems [at] first.”

Despite these complexities, Behr highlighted the broader advantages, “There are, of course, ancillary benefits, especially for big gigs […] Obviously other local businesses like bars, restaurants and carparks benefit from increased trade”, he added.

Behr criticised the idea of making music inaudible and called it “unrealistic”. He said it could limit what kind of music can be played at venues and could force vendors to spend a large amount of money on equipment that enables them to meet noise cancelling requirements. He also mentioned the consequences this has for grassroots music venues as more ‘established’ venues within the city would be the only ones able to afford these changes.

Alongside the inaudibility dispute has been the number of sites that have been closing for the past number of years. According to Dr Behr, this has brought attention to the issue of retaining live music venues in the city and has caused the council to re-evaluate its music strategy and overall cultural policy.

This month, Dr Behr said he is to work on a live music census for Edinburgh’s Council which aims to find out what types of music is played, where, and what exactly it brings to the city. This is in an effort to get the Edinburgh city council to see any opportunities it has with live music and the importance of grassroots venues. The census is similar to one conducted in Victoria, Australia in 2012 on the extent of live music in the state and its economic benefit.

As for the solution to the inaudibility clause, Behr says the initial step is dialogue, and this has already begun. “Having forum discussion, though, is a start — and an improvement”, he said. “There won’t be an overnight solution, but work is ongoing to try to find one that can stick in the long term.”

Beverley Whitrick, Strategic Director of Music Venue Trust, said she is unable to comment on her work with the City of Edinburgh Council or on potential changes to the inaudibility clause in the Licensing Policy. However, she says, “I have been asked to assess the situation and make recommendations in September”.

According to The Scotsman, the Council is working toward helping Edinburgh’s cultural and entertainment scene. Deputy Council Leader Sandy Howat said views of the entertainment industry needs to change and the Council will no longer consider the scene as a “sideline”.

Senior members of the Council, The Scotsman reported, aim to review the planning of the city to make culture more of a priority. Howat said, “If you’re trying to harness a living community and are creating facilities for people living, working and playing then culture should form part of that.”

The review of the inaudibility clause in the Licensing Policy is set to be reviewed near the end of 2016 but the concept of bringing it forward to this year is still under discussion.

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Eric Bogosian on writing and the creative urge
February 8, 2019

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Eric Bogosian is one of America’s great multi-dimensional talents. “There’s sort of three different careers, and any one of them could exist by itself, on its own two feet. There was that solo stuff, and then I started writing plays in the late seventies.” Although his work has spanned genres, most readers will recognize Bogosian for his acting, which has included a memorable performance in Woody Allen‘s Deconstructing Harry to co-writing and starring in the Oliver Stone movie Talk Radio (based upon his Pulitzer Prize-nominated play) to playing the bad guy in Under Siege 2 to his current role in Law & Order: Criminal Intent as Captain Danny Ross. They may not know, however, that he had collaborated with Frank Zappa on a album, worked with Sonic Youth, and was a voice on Mike Judge‘s Beavis & Butthead Do America. He started one of New York City’s largest dance companies, The Kitchen, which is still in existence. He starred alongside Val Kilmer in Wonderland and his play Talk Radio was recently revived on Broadway with Liev Schreiber in the role Bogosian wrote and made famous.

Currently at work on his third novel, tentatively titled The Artist, Bogosian spoke with David Shankbone about the craft of writing and his life as a creative.

Contents

  • 1 Bogosian’s view of his work
  • 2 How Bogosian approaches his writing
  • 3 How Bogosian works himself into his writing
  • 4 The future of the narrative
  • 5 Collaborations with Steven Spielberg and Frank Zappa
  • 6 Source

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