John Vanderslice plays New York City: Wikinews interview

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.

Understanding How Your Water Softener In Jacksonville, Fl Works

byadmin

Florida has some of the highest levels of calcium carbonate in the groundwater on the east side of the United States. Using a water softener in Jacksonville, FL is the best possible way to ensure you do not have to deal with all the complications of hard water. These can include damage to your appliances and plumbing system as well as all the cleaning issues it causes.

The Importance of Treating Hard Water

There are different types of options in a water softener in Jacksonville, FL for any type of residential or commercial use. The most common types of systems use sodium chloride (salt) or potassium chloride, in pelleted form, to remove the “hard” minerals, which are often calcium and magnesium.

It is important to use a quality water softener system to avoid layers of these minerals, which is known as hard water scale, from building up in your washer, coffee maker, dishwasher, hot water heater, and in the plumbing system. Eventually, this scale can build up enough to restrict water flow and will require replacement of the appliances or a full replacement of your plumbing system, which is extremely costly.

How a Water Softener Works

A water softener in Jacksonville, FL can be added to your cold water intake line into the home. The system is comprised of a mineral tank, which is filled with beads that are made of a material known as polystyrene, a type of resin-like material. These beads have a negative charge, and calcium and magnesium have a positive charge.

As the water enters into the mineral tank of the water softener in Jacksonville, FL, the calcium and magnesium cling to the beads. They are effectively swapped for the slightly positive charge of the sodium that coats the beads.

Once the beads are saturated with the positively charged calcium and magnesium, the tank will need to regenerate. The timing of this is based on the number of days in a cycle, through a meter, or by manual regeneration. When the system regenerates salty brine from another tank flushes the magnesium and calcium out of the system, replacing it with another layer of sodium.

Choosing the right company and water softener in Jacksonville, FL is important and should be based on the volume of water used in the home as well as the type of regeneration system you wish to use. These systems are very low maintenance and are highly effective in eliminating the problems caused by hard water throughout the home.

Changing position, President Trump says FBI Director Comey was fired over Russia investigation, showboating

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Despite the White House’s initial assertion that Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey was dismissed Tuesday over mishandling the Hillary Clinton email case, United States President Donald Trump on Thursday told NBC that “this Russia thing” was among his reasons, mentioning Comey’s repeated claims that he, Trump, was not being investigated. He also accused Comey of “showboating” and said “the FBI has been in turmoil.”

James Comey was leading an investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia and possible Russian involvement in the 2016 US presidential election that placed Trump in power. The official reason given for his dismissal, overly harsh treatment of then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, was met with skepticism from politicians and the press.

[W]hen I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said: ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.’

President Trump also told NBC’s Lester Holt that, despite statements to the contrary by Vice President Pence and Sean Spicer, recommendations from deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein did not have anything to do with his decision, which he made before receiving Rosenstein’s memo. “Regardless of recommendation I was going to fire Comey. Knowing, there was no good time to do it[…] And, in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said: ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.'” He went on to express regret that firing Comey might prolong the investigation and said Comey had told him that he, Trump, was not under investigation when asked.

Trump told NBC that he had asked Comey if he, Trump, were under investigation, to which Comey had replied in the negative. While it is not illegal under U.S. law for President Trump to ask if he is under investigation, former U.S. Department of Justice spokesperson Matthew Miller described it as “completely inappropriate” and pointed out that Comey would not be allowed to answer under Department rules.

Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders disagreed with Miller’s assessment. “I don’t see it as a conflict of interest and neither do many of the legal scholars who’ve been commenting on it over the last hour.” She did not elaborate on the reference to legal scholars.

While some sources have said Comey requested more resources for the Russia investigation only days before being fired, one of his associates told news outlets this was not true and the investigation had no shortage of resources.

In his interview with Holt, President Trump affirmed that his campaign had no connections to Russia.

Four candidates for Comey’s position were scheduled to be interviewed today: a lawyer named Alice Fisher, an appeals court judge named Michael Garcia, Senator John Cornyn of Texas, and Andrew McCabe, who is currently serving as acting director of the FBI. McCabe has promised to “vigorously and completely” continue the Russia investigation and to tell Congress if any pressure is brought to bear to stop it.

Canada’s Beaches—East York (Ward 32) city council candidates speak

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

Friday, November 3, 2006

On November 13, Torontonians will be heading to the polls to vote for their ward’s councillor and for mayor. Among Toronto’s ridings is Beaches—East York (Ward 32). Four candidates responded to Wikinews’ requests for an interview. This ward’s candidates include Donna Braniff, Alan Burke, Sandra Bussin (incumbent), William Gallos, John Greer, John Lewis, Erica Maier, Luca Mele, and Matt Williams.

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

Contents

  • 1 Sandra Bussin (incumbent)
  • 2 William Gallos
  • 3 Erica Maier
  • 4 Luca Mele

Christian youth camp directors charged with dragging 15-year-old girl behind van

Monday, August 13, 2007

Charles Eugene Flowers and Stephanie Bassitt, who run Love Demonstrated Ministries in San Antonio, Texas, United States, have been arrested and charged with aggravated assault for tying a girl to their van and dragging her behind it on her stomach.

The victim had stopped running with a group of campers, after falling behind. She says Bassitt yelled at her while Flowers tied her to the van.

The girl was treated for injuries on her stomach, legs and arms. She reported that this was the second assault. Flowers and Bassitt remain in jail on US$100,000 bond each.

Love Demonstrated Ministries is a 32-day Christian boot camp for girls whose parents feel they are “at risk teens”. Such camps have raised controversy before.

An organization called the International Survivors Action Committee maintains a list of U.S. organizations where numerous abusive incidents have been reported; however, their list should not be taken as exhaustive. Neither Love Demonstrated Ministries nor New Horizons Youth Ministries, which has an alumni site describing abuse appeared.

5 Important Features Of A Good Foundation Company In Ocala

byAlma Abell

Foundation problems are more than just a cosmetic issue. The cracks in your interior walls will not only look unsightly but also reduce the value of your property. A good foundation company in Ocala can help you to restore the beautiful appearance of your home and at the same time maintain its value. Here are the five important characteristics of a foundation company you can trust.

1. Highly experienced contractors

The foundation company needs to have been in the business for long enough. You need to find out if they have experience particularly in foundation repairs. Choosing a construction company to work on your foundation may not be a suitable move. You need experts who specialize in foundations because they are likely to figure out where the problem is fast and have it repaired effectively.

2. A professional and organized business

You can tell that a foundation company will offer reliable services by visiting their business location. A proper foundation company will have a place where they admit clients and discuss issues that arise. You can also visit them onsite and get to see them in action. If you don’t like their level of professionalism and organization, it’s time to move on to the next contender.

3. Provides references

A company that is always willing to give potential clients references shows that it is proud of their work. Be very cautious if the company isn’t ready to offer you contacts of their previous clients. And also make sure they don’t handpick the references. Don’t be satisfied until you contact these references and see what their experiences were.

4. Offers clear terms of payment

Many homeowners have been frustrated when the time comes to pay for the services offered by a foundation company. First, read the contract before you sign. Understand the warranty agreement and don’t pay for any work before it begins. You also need to obtain a service agreement that covers beyond the warranty period. Remember that the foundation company may refuse to transfer the warranty if you sell the house so make sure you are clear about these details beforehand.

5. Uses different methods of repair

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2005/01/08 Tsunami aid donations in 2005 deductible for 2004 in the U.S.

Saturday, January 8, 2005

U.S. citizens donating in 2005 to help tsunami victims may write off their donations on their 2004 tax returns, thanks to a bill quickly passed in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate on a voice vote, and signed into law by president George W. Bush.

Without the new law, contributors would have waited until 2006 and their 2005 tax returns to be able to write off their charitable donations. The law is intended to promote donating towards the tsunami relief effort.

CBS News reports Indiana University’s Center on Philanthropy is estimating approximately 322 million U.S. dollars in goods and cash have been donated by private U.S. citizens and corporations, in addition to the 350 million that was promised by the government.

An AP/ISOS poll has found three in ten U.S. citizens have donated to Tsunami Aid organizations.

UK minor faces charges for calling Scientology ‘cult’ at protest

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

News media in the United Kingdom are reporting that a boy under the age of 18 was served with a court summons by City of London Police because he held a placard calling Scientology a “cult” at a peaceful protest on May 10. Human rights activists have criticized the decision to issue the 15-year-old the summons as an affront to freedom of speech, and representatives for the City of London Police force explained the actions of the police.

Individuals from the group Anonymous were protesting Scientology in the fourth protest in as many months, as part of the anti-Scientology movement Project Chanology. The Project Chanology movement began when the Church of Scientology attempted to get a leaked Scientology promotional video featuring Tom Cruise removed from websites YouTube and Gawker.com.

Members of Anonymous were motivated by the actions of the Church of Scientology, and bombarded Scientology websites and were successful in taking some of them down. Anonymous later changed tactics towards legal measures, and held international protests against Scientology on February 10, March 15, April 12, and most recently May 10.

At the May 10 protest, the 15-year-old boy was present and held up a placard which stated: “Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult,” with a mention at the bottom of the sign to the anti-Scientology website Xenu.net. He attended the protest held outside the Church of Scientology building on Queen Victoria Street, near St Paul’s Cathedral in London. In a post made by the boy on the anti-Scientology website Enturbulation.org, he stated: “Within five minutes of arriving I was told by a member of the police that I was not allowed to use that word, and that the final decision would be made by the inspector.” The website describes itself as “A Source for Information on Dianetics and the Scientology Organization”. Using the pseudonym “EpicNoseGuy” at the Enturbulation.org message board, the boy goes on to describe how he was “strongly advised” by police to remove the placard.

City of London Police cited section five of the Public Order Act 1986 to the boy, which deals with “harassment, alarm or distress“. In response, the boy cited a 1984 judgment given by Mr. Justice Latey in the Family Division of the High Court of Justice of Her Majesty’s Courts of Justice of England and Wales, in which Latey called Scientology a “cult” and said it was “corrupt, sinister and dangerous”. In the actual 1984 judgment made by Judge Latey, he stated: “Scientology is both immoral and socially obnoxious. […] In my judgement it is corrupt, sinister and dangerous. […] It is dangerous because it is out to capture people, especially children and impressionable young people, and indoctrinate and brainwash them so that they become the unquestioning captives and tools of the cult, withdrawn from ordinary thought, living and relationships with others.” According to the boy’s post at Enturbulation.org, the City of London Police told him he had 15 minutes to remove the sign in question. He was given a court summons by the police about a half-hour later, and his sign was removed and taken by the police as evidence.

I am going to fight this and not take it down because I believe in freedom of speech.

In videos of the May 10 protest posted to YouTube, City of London Police can be seen telling protesters not to use the word “cult” in their signs. Protesters discussed the issue with police and stated that they had checked with lawyers and verified that criticizing religion was a valid form of protest. The police warned protesters that if they violated police instructions regarding usage of signs “you will be prosecuted”. A female police officer read a form statement to the 15-year-old and stated: “I’ve been asked, if you could remove it [the sign] by 11:30, if not then I’ll have to come back and either summons you or arrest you.” The boy read Mr. Justice Latey’s 1984 judgment to the police, and then said: “I’m not going to take this sign down.” He told fellow protesters: “If I don’t take the word ‘cult’ down, here [holding up his sign], I will be either, I think, most likely arrested or [given] a summons. I am going to fight this and not take it down because I believe in freedom of speech, besides which I’m only fifteen.”

After the boy was given a summons one of the protesters asked a member of the City of London Police force: “Are we allowed to say Justice Latey says Scientology is a cult?”, to which the police officer responded: “I’ve already had this discussion with people. Direct quotes by individuals, I haven’t got a problem with.”

This barmy prosecution makes a mockery of Britain’s free speech traditions.

“This barmy prosecution makes a mockery of Britain’s free speech traditions. After criminalising the use of the word ‘cult’, perhaps the next step is to ban the words ‘war’ and ‘tax’ from peaceful demonstrations?” said Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti in a statement in The Guardian. The boy has appealed for help in order to fight the potential charges and possible legal action from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Ian Haworth of the United Kingdom-based Cult Information Centre also commented on the actions of the City of London Police to The Guardian, saying: “This is an extraordinary situation. If it wasn’t so serious it would be farcical. The police’s job is to protect and serve. Who is being served and who is being protected in this situation? I find it very worrying.”

News of the summons issued to the UK minor has received significant attention on the Internet, hitting the front pages of websites Slashdot, Digg, and Boing Boing on Wednesday. The story has also been discussed in hundreds of blog postings, including sites related to the tech-sector and others related to civil liberties.

City of London police had received complaints about demonstrators using the words ‘cult’ and ‘Scientology kills’ during protests against the Church of Scientology on Saturday 10 May.

In a statement given to publications including The Guardian and The Register, a representative for the City of London Police explained the rationale for the summons: “City of London police had received complaints about demonstrators using the words ‘cult’ and ‘Scientology kills’ during protests against the Church of Scientology on Saturday 10 May. Following advice from the Crown Prosecution Service some demonstrators were warned verbally and in writing that their signs breached section five of the Public Order Act 1986. One demonstrator, a juvenile, continued to display a placard despite police warnings and was reported for an offence under section five. A file on the case will be sent to the CPS.”

“City of London Police upholds the right to demonstrate lawfully, but we have to balance that with the rights of all sections of the community not to be alarmed, distressed or harassed as a result of others’ actions,” said City of London Chief Superintendent Rob Bastable in a statement given to The Register and The Daily Telegraph. Unlike the City of London Police, the Metropolitan Police Service (the territorial police force responsible for Greater London excluding the City of London) has not raised an issue with protesters using the word “cult”, according to Londonist.

… if we receive a file we will review it in the normal way according to the code for crown prosecutors.

A spokesman for the CPS told The Guardian that they did not give City of London Police specific instruction about the boy’s protest sign. The spokesman said that the CPS gave the City of London Police “general advice” about the laws governing protests and “religiously aggravated crime”, but did not give advice about this specific case. “… if we receive a file we will review it in the normal way according to the code for crown prosecutors,” said the CPS spokesman.

The City of London Police has faced controversy in the past for its close association with the Church of Scientology. When the City of London Scientology building opened in 2006, City of London Chief Superintendent Kevin Hurley praised Scientology in an appearance as guest speaker at the building’s opening ceremony. Ken Stewart, another of the City of London’s chief superintendents, has also appeared in a video praising Scientology. According to The Guardian over 20 officers for the City of London Police have accepted gifts from the Church of Scientology including tickets to film premieres, lunches and concerts at police premises. Janet Kenyon-Laveau, spokeswoman for the Church of Scientology in the UK, told The Guardian that the relationship between the City of London Police and Scientology was mutually beneficial, and said that Scientologists conducted clean-up campaigns in urban areas affected by drug use problems. A City of London Police spokesman released a statement in November 2006 saying: “We are conducting a review to ensure that all members of staff are aware of the force policy on accepting hospitality and to assess whether clarification or amendment of this policy is necessary.”

Each of the Project Chanology international protests against Scientology has had a theme: the February protest called attention to the birthday of Lisa McPherson, who died under controversial circumstances while under the care of Scientology, the March protest was arranged to take place two days after Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard‘s birthday, the April protest highlighted the Church of Scientology’s disconnection policy, and the May protest highlighted the Scientology practice of “Fair Game” and took place one day after the anniversary of the publication of Hubbard’s book Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. Another international protest is planned for June 14, and will highlight the Church of Scientology’s elite “Sea Organization” or “Sea Org”.

 This story has updates See No prosecution for UK minor who called Scientology a ‘cult’ 

Glencore announces Tahmoor mine in New South Wales to close

Friday, June 3, 2016

Swiss mining company Glencore announced yesterday the closure of its coal mine in Tahmoor, New South Wales, Australia. The mine is to be closed by early 2019, pointing to the downturn of coal prices in global markets.

Glencore stated, “The decision has been made as a result of continued low prices in global coal markets, which has meant the economic return from reserves still available at Tahmoor are not sufficient to warrant the investment required to mine them”.

The closure will result in a loss of 350 jobs according to the company, who said they are consulting with the employees.

The mine is not the only operation impacted by the fall of global coal and commodity prices. The Australian arm of mining magnate Peabody Energy has reported losses of almost A$3 billion in 2015. According to latest financial reports for Peabody subsidiary Peabody Australia Holdco lodged via Australian Securities and Investments Commission, the company earned a net loss of A$2.7 billion — after a loss of A$1.2 billion in 2014. Accountants at Peabody Australia have warned the mine might not be able to continue operating, with the market persistently weak since December.

Despite low coal and commodity prices, both the major political parties have been supportive of coal mines. While appearing on the ABC’s Q&A program on Monday night, Coalition MP Steve Ciobo confirmed party support of coal mines. In response to an audience member question, concerning what policies the panellists had planned to combat job and economic loses in Queensland after the mining boom, Ciobo stated the Coalition government supports Adani’s new Carmichael mine in the Galilee Basin — as an example of “transitioning” the state’s economy.

Labor MP Terri Butler said although she doesn’t personally support Adani’s Carmichael project, the state Labor government “didn’t have much discretion” surrounding its approval. Meanwhile, Greens party leader Richard Di Natale criticised responses from the panellists claiming the “great tragedy” is both major parties support of coal mines such as Carmichael.

“If you care about tourism you don’t open up a whopping great big coal mine and fuel catastrophic global warming”, said Di Natale.

Di Natale accused both major parties of being deceitful in “slashing” both the target of and agency funding for renewable energy, leaving no plan to realize the investment potential of the renewable sector.

Thirteen Israeli soldiers, scores of Palestinians killed in deadly day of fighting in Gaza Strip

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

On Sunday, in the deadliest day of fighting for the Israeli military in several years, thirteen Israeli soldiers were reported killed in the Gaza Strip. Over 500 deaths of Palestinians have been reported in the Gaza Strip in the now-fourteen days of Israel’s offensive against Hamas.

Over 67 deaths of Palestinians on Sunday, by one report well over 100 — both civilians and fighters combined — occurred in one area, the Gaza City suburb of Shujai’iya, following heavy fighting and shelling by Israeli forces.

Meanwhile, thirteen Israeli soldiers were killed Sunday, including two soldiers who were United States citizens. Furthermore, the armed wing of Hamas claimed in a statement, “We have captured a Zionist soldier and the occupation has not admitted that”, and displaying a identification card and a serial number. The IDF is investigating the claim. A anonymous senior Israeli military source told The Guardian in regards to Hamas fighters, “We have to admit we were facing good fighters, very well equipped with sophisticated weapons systems, accurate weapons, heavy weapons including mortars, booby traps.”

All this occurred while a United Nations Security Council meeting was held in New York City at the request of Jordan. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Rwanda’s UN ambassador Eugene Gasana said, “The members of the Security Council expressed serious concern about the growing number of casualties. The members of the Security Council called for an immediate cessation of hostilities”. Gasana continued saying, “The members of the Security Council called for respect of international humanitarian law including protection of civilians[…] The members of the Security Council emphasized the need to improve the humanitarian situation, including through humanitarian pauses.”

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who is in Doha, Qatar meeting with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said in a statement, “As I travel the region, I will continue to press for an [immediate] ceasefire — an immediate end to the Israeli military operation in Gaza and the rocket fire by Hamas and Islamic Jihad”. Ban criticized Israel for the civilian death toll saying, “While I was en route to Doha, dozens more civilians, including children, have been killed in Israeli military strikes in the Shejaiyah neighborhood in Gaza[…] I condemn this atrocious action. Israel must exercise maximum restraint and do far more to protect civilians.”

In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in press conference, “We will continue this operation for as long as it takes.” Netanyahu also appeared on CNN saying Hamas uses civilians as human shields; “They use telegenically dead Palestinians for their cause. They want the more dead, the better”. He further added, “We try to target military targets and unfortunately there are civilian casualties which we regret and we don’t seek”.