Eight dead and two missing after cargo ship fire in Kaliningrad, Russia

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Eight dead and two missing after cargo ship fire in Kaliningrad, Russia

January 18th, 2018 | No Comments »
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Sunday, June 8, 2008

Eight people are dead and two more are missing and presumed dead after an explosion and fire on a cargo ship undergoing repairs at a naval dockyard in Kaliningrad, Russia.

The container ship MV Yenisey was the scene of an explosion while in drydock at about 3:00 p.m. Moscow time (11:00 GMT). Ten people were missing after the explosion. It was confirmed today that the eighth body has been recovered, and the remaining two are thought to be dead as well. Three more were injured.

Captain 1st Rank Igor Dygalo, acting as a navy spokesperson, said “Each family of the victims of the fire on the Yenisey civilian vessel will be paid more than a million rubles.” This makes their compensation roughly equivalent to US$43,000.

Dygolo said that the dockyard, in the closed military town of Baltiysk, near Kaliningrad, had been leased to the Yenisey’s St Petersburg owner, a private company, who were conducting the work themselves. He said an investigation has been launched by the navy led by top admiral Vladimir Vysotsky.

Vysotski himself has indicated that serious safety legislation breaches concerning welding regulations by both the vessel’s owner and the naval dockyard’s bosses. He did not go into details, but RIA Novosti claimed that a source at the dockyard said a gas burner applied to the roof of a fuel tank to heat and therefore loosen its bolts had triggered the disaster.

Today is an official day of mourning for Kaliningrad Region to mark the deaths.

US Congress may re-establish the Luxury Tax

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US Congress may re-establish the Luxury Tax

January 18th, 2018 | No Comments »
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Monday, December 11, 2006

There are suppositions that the US Democratic Congress may re-establish the luxury taxes, which were already once introduced in the 1990s. The suppositions resulted in the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors commissioning a report on various tax issues.

Material goods such as jewelry, watches, expensive furs, jet planes, boats, yachts, and luxury cars had already been subjected to additional taxes back in 1990. After 3 years these taxes were repealed, though the luxury automobiles tax was still active for the next 13 years.

Rodderick A. DeArment, a representative of law firm and lobbyist Covington and Burling, guided the report. The report outlined the fact that, in 1993, the Congress did not collect as much money from the luxury taxes as it had predicted. It also stated that although its ravaging effect on employment in several industries was sensible, “the turnover that occurred in Congress made it possible for the new group to learn the same lessons again”.

The luxury tax could produce unpredictable effects for the watch industry and the report was meant to inform the members of this branch about the effects of these taxes on this luxury goods’ industry.

Mexican police official, bodyguard shot dead at restaurant

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Mexican police official, bodyguard shot dead at restaurant

January 18th, 2018 | No Comments »
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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Gunmen today opened fire in a Mexico City restaurant, killing a top police official in charge of monitoring the country’s illegal drug trade, as well as one of his bodyguards, Mexican officials said. The attack is the latest waged against authorities attempting to fight Mexico’s powerful drug cartels.

Security officials in Mexico City say the attack occurred as Igor Labastida Calderón, commander of the federal police‘s Traffic and Contraband division, was eating lunch with one of his bodyguards, Jose Maria Ochoa. According to Minerva Amado, spokesperson for the attorney general’s office, two unknown subjects got out of a black vehicle, entered the restaurant, and opened fire on Labastida Calderón.

Reports differ on who else was injured in the attack. Amado said two other bodyguards were injured and hospitalized, while Mexico City newspaper El Universal reports that three civilians were injured.

The motive for the attack remains unclear. No arrests have been made so far, as police continue to search for the assailants. Federal police have refused to comment.

President Felipe Calderón has sent over 20,000 troops throughout Mexico in an attempt to take back areas controlled by the country’s drug cartels. Since Calderón took office in December 2006, more than 4,000 people have been killed by these drug cartels, allegedly including federal police chief Édgar Millán Gómez, whose May death was attributed to the Sinaloa Cartel.

Short Leg Syndrome, Part Two}

January 18th, 2018 | No Comments »
Posted by ZKS7z9Yp under Diet Plan

More On This Topic:

Submitted by: Erik Dalton

A highly debated postural issue begging for a logicalrational explanation is the short right-leg syndrome (Fig. 1). Although an inferred alertness of right-sided limb-length shortness has existed for centuries, along with decades of published research, no one has provided a universally acceptable answer to two very important questions:

1. Why the unusual regularity of short right legs seen in clinic?

2. How does this common postural pattern cause compensatory hip, back and pelvic pain?

Lets embark by reviewing notable research regarding functional and structural short right legs and then discuss theories, assessments and corrections that help deal with this troublesome disorder. As Sir William Osler once stated, In order to treat something, we must first be able to recognize it. Any endeavor to tackle limb-length discrepancy and associated compensations, armed with inadequate evaluation tools, surely will lead to failure and frustration. In the absence of radiographic measurements, massage therapists must develop keen palpatory and visual skills for detecting osseous and soft-tissue dysfunction. Aberrant patterns are best known and classified using the acronym

ART: Asymmetry, Restriction of motion, and Tissue-texture abnormality. Although several tests and treatment modalities have proven successful in treating short legs and associated compensations, well focus on only a few fundamental myoskeletal techniques that add to your toolbox of touch.

Fig. 1. Anatomic (structural) short right leg

Fig. 2. Short right leg producing contralateral pelvic rotation.

Fig. 3. Low right-femoral head and sacral base with compensatory lumbar scoliosis (sidebent left, rotated right).

Leg Length and Back Pain

In two deftly designed studies (1962 and 1983), Denslow and Chase measured leg-length discrepancy in 361 and 294 subjects presenting with low back pain.1 Using the most advanced radiographic technology currently available, their papers (published in the American Academy of Osteopathy) reported the following findings concerning limb-length discrepancy:

Substantial incidence of short right legs (66 percent);

Lumbar convexity to the short leg side (sidebent left rotated right); and

A high correlation illustrating contralateral (left) pelvic rotation. (Fig. 2)

By comparing sagittal-plane femoral-head height and sacral base angulation (Fig. 3), the authors decided that innominate bones rotate around the sacrum (iliosacral tilt). Transverse plane images showed that the pelvis also can rotate as a block around the vertical lumbar spine. Denslow and Chases pioneering work helped biomedical researchers comprehend how shortened limbs torsion the pelvis, creating painful lumbar compensations. Their data not only confirmed leg-length findings conducted by previous researchers but also prompted new, more sophisticated imaging studies. In 2004, John H. Juhl, DO, testified that 68 percent of 421 low back pain patients presented radiographically with short right legs.2

Functional Leg-Length Assessments

Through the years, manual therapists have made available many creative ways to differentiate functional (fixable) from structural (true) limb-length differences. Screening exams taught in educational programs often place too much importance on supine leg-length assessment in determining pelvic disorders. Frequently, one leg will appear shorter during visual observation of the supine clients medial malleoli (Fig. 4) when, in fact, the leg lengths actually are equal or just the opposite of how they appear radiographically when standing. For instance, in the presence of a true (structural) short right leg, standing ASIS measurements should show an inferior slope on the short side. However, when the client lies supine (removed from vertical gravitational compression), the left leg may suddenly test shorter than the right. While many factors may contribute to this finding, one of the most common culprits is length/strength imbalance in deep intrinsic postural muscles such as the quadratus lumborum (QL). When unilaterally short and tight, the QL can hip hike the left ilium as the client begins to have an off-weighted supine posture. Awkwardness mounts as the left leg now appears shorter than the right.

Figure 5 presents an useful contract/relax/assist maneuver to lengthen the hypercontracted left QL.

About the Author: Erik Dalton, PhD.Massage Therapy Home Study at

erikdalton.com

erikdalton@aol.com800-709-5054 / 405-728-4844

Source:

isnare.com

Permanent Link:

isnare.com/?aid=1030363&ca=Wellness%2C+Fitness+and+Diet }

Interview: Danny O’Brien of the Electronic Frontier Foundation

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Interview: Danny O’Brien of the Electronic Frontier Foundation

January 17th, 2018 | No Comments »
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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

January’s second Interview of the Month was with Danny O’Brien of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on 23 January in IRC.

The EFF is coming off a series of high-profile successes in their campaigns to educate the public, press, and policy makers regarding online rights in a digital world, and defending those rights in the legislature and the courtroom. Their settlement with Sony/BMG, the amazingly confused MGM v Grokster decision by the Supreme Court of the United States, and the disturbing cases surrounding Diebold have earned the advocacy organization considerable attention.

When asked if the EFF would be interested in a live interview in IRC by Wikinews, the answer was a nearly immediate yes, but just a little after Ricardo Lobo. With two such interesting interview candidates agreeing so quickly, it was hard to say no to either so schedules were juggled to have both. By chance, the timing worked out to have the EFF interview the day before the U.S. Senate schedule hearings concerning the Broadcast flag rule of the FCC, a form of digital rights management which the recording and movie industries have been lobbying hard for – and the EFF has been lobbying hard to prevent.

Zimbabwean footballer Adam Ndlovu dies in car accident aged 42

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Zimbabwean footballer Adam Ndlovu dies in car accident aged 42

January 17th, 2018 | No Comments »
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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Former Zimbabwean professional footballer Adam Ndlovu has died in a car accident that also left his brother critically injured. Adam and his brother Peter, also a former professional footballer, were in the accident after failure of a tire on the BMW X5 Adam was reportedly driving. Reports also suggest an unidentified female passenger may have died in the accident.

George Bhebhe, a friend of Adam, spoke to The Zimbabwean about the circumstances of the accident. He said “Adam died early this morning when their vehicle veered off the road after a tyre burst and hit a tree 20 km from Victoria Falls. He died on arrival at hospital. Peter is in critical condition and he is at Victoria Falls hospital in Intensive Care Unit. But arrangements still being made to transfer from there to a hospital in Bulawayo or Harare”.

Both Adam and Peter played for the Zimbabwe national football team and Peter is their all time top goalscorer. During his career Peter played in the English Premier League and played for Coventry, Sheffield United, Birmingham, and Huddersfield. Sheffield United tweeted “Our thoughts are with former player Peter Ndlovu, who has been critically injured in a car accident in his native Zimbabwe. #sufc”

Adam formerly played for the Zimbabwean team Highlanders and at the time of his death coached Zimbabwe Premier League team Chicken Inn, based in Bulawayo.

G20 protests: Inside a labour march

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G20 protests: Inside a labour march

January 16th, 2018 | No Comments »
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Wikinews accredited reporter Killing Vector traveled to the G-20 2009 summit protests in London with a group of protesters. This is his personal account.

Friday, April 3, 2009

London – “Protest”, says Ross Saunders, “is basically theatre”.

It’s seven a.m. and I’m on a mini-bus heading east on the M4 motorway from Cardiff toward London. I’m riding with seventeen members of the Cardiff Socialist Party, of which Saunders is branch secretary for the Cardiff West branch; they’re going to participate in a march that’s part of the protests against the G-20 meeting.

Before we boarded the minibus Saunders made a speech outlining the reasons for the march. He said they were “fighting for jobs for young people, fighting for free education, fighting for our share of the wealth, which we create.” His anger is directed at the government’s response to the economic downturn: “Now that the recession is underway, they’ve been trying to shoulder more of the burden onto the people, and onto the young people…they’re expecting us to pay for it.” He compared the protest to the Jarrow March and to the miners’ strikes which were hugely influential in the history of the British labour movement. The people assembled, though, aren’t miners or industrial workers — they’re university students or recent graduates, and the march they’re going to participate in is the Youth Fight For Jobs.

The Socialist Party was formerly part of the Labour Party, which has ruled the United Kingdom since 1997 and remains a member of the Socialist International. On the bus, Saunders and some of his cohorts — they occasionally, especially the older members, address each other as “comrade” — explains their view on how the split with Labour came about. As the Third Way became the dominant voice in the Labour Party, culminating with the replacement of Neil Kinnock with Tony Blair as party leader, the Socialist cadre became increasingly disaffected. “There used to be democratic structures, political meetings” within the party, they say. The branch meetings still exist but “now, they passed a resolution calling for renationalisation of the railways, and they [the party leadership] just ignored it.” They claim that the disaffection with New Labour has caused the party to lose “half its membership” and that people are seeking alternatives. Since the economic crisis began, Cardiff West’s membership has doubled, to 25 members, and the RMT has organized itself as a political movement running candidates in the 2009 EU Parliament election. The right-wing British National Party or BNP is making gains as well, though.

Talk on the bus is mostly political and the news of yesterday’s violence at the G-20 demonstrations, where a bank was stormed by protesters and 87 were arrested, is thick in the air. One member comments on the invasion of a RBS building in which phone lines were cut and furniture was destroyed: “It’s not very constructive but it does make you smile.” Another, reading about developments at the conference which have set France and Germany opposing the UK and the United States, says sardonically, “we’re going to stop all the squabbles — they’re going to unite against us. That’s what happens.” She recounts how, in her native Sweden during the Second World War, a national unity government was formed among all major parties, and Swedish communists were interned in camps, while Nazi-leaning parties were left unmolested.

In London around 11am the march assembles on Camberwell Green. About 250 people are here, from many parts of Britain; I meet marchers from Newcastle, Manchester, Leicester, and especially organized-labor stronghold Sheffield. The sky is grey but the atmosphere is convivial; five members of London’s Metropolitan Police are present, and they’re all smiling. Most marchers are young, some as young as high school age, but a few are older; some teachers, including members of the Lewisham and Sheffield chapters of the National Union of Teachers, are carrying banners in support of their students.

Gordon Brown’s a Tory/He wears a Tory hat/And when he saw our uni fees/He said ‘I’ll double that!’

Stewards hand out sheets of paper with the words to call-and-response chants on them. Some are youth-oriented and education-oriented, like the jaunty “Gordon Brown‘s a Tory/He wears a Tory hat/And when he saw our uni fees/He said ‘I’ll double that!'” (sung to the tune of the Lonnie Donegan song “My Old Man’s a Dustman“); but many are standbys of organized labour, including the infamous “workers of the world, unite!“. It also outlines the goals of the protest, as “demands”: “The right to a decent job for all, with a living wage of at least £8 and hour. No to cheap labour apprenticeships! for all apprenticeships to pay at least the minimum wage, with a job guaranteed at the end. No to university fees. support the campaign to defeat fees.” Another steward with a megaphone and a bright red t-shirt talks the assembled protesters through the basics of call-and-response chanting.

Finally the march gets underway, traveling through the London boroughs of Camberwell and Southwark. Along the route of the march more police follow along, escorting and guiding the march and watching it carefully, while a police van with flashing lights clears the route in front of it. On the surface the atmosphere is enthusiastic, but everyone freezes for a second as a siren is heard behind them; it turns out to be a passing ambulance.

Crossing Southwark Bridge, the march enters the City of London, the comparably small but dense area containing London’s financial and economic heart. Although one recipient of the protesters’ anger is the Bank of England, the march does not stop in the City, only passing through the streets by the London Exchange. Tourists on buses and businessmen in pinstripe suits record snippets of the march on their mobile phones as it passes them; as it goes past a branch of HSBC the employees gather at the glass store front and watch nervously. The time in the City is brief; rather than continue into the very centre of London the march turns east and, passing the Tower of London, proceeds into the poor, largely immigrant neighbourhoods of the Tower Hamlets.

The sun has come out, and the spirits of the protesters have remained high. But few people, only occasional faces at windows in the blocks of apartments, are here to see the march and it is in Wapping High Street that I hear my first complaint from the marchers. Peter, a steward, complains that the police have taken the march off its original route and onto back streets where “there’s nobody to protest to”. I ask how he feels about the possibility of violence, noting the incidents the day before, and he replies that it was “justified aggression”. “We don’t condone it but people have only got certain limitations.”

There’s nobody to protest to!

A policeman I ask is very polite but noncommittal about the change in route. “The students are getting the message out”, he says, so there’s no problem. “Everyone’s very well behaved” in his assessment and the atmosphere is “very positive”. Another protestor, a sign-carrying university student from Sheffield, half-heartedly returns the compliment: today, she says, “the police have been surprisingly unridiculous.”

The march pauses just before it enters Cable Street. Here, in 1936, was the site of the Battle of Cable Street, and the march leader, addressing the protesters through her megaphone, marks the moment. She draws a parallel between the British Union of Fascists of the 1930s and the much smaller BNP today, and as the protesters follow the East London street their chant becomes “The BNP tell racist lies/We fight back and organise!”

In Victoria Park — “The People’s Park” as it was sometimes known — the march stops for lunch. The trade unions of East London have organized and paid for a lunch of hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries and tea, and, picnic-style, the marchers enjoy their meals as organized labor veterans give brief speeches about industrial actions from a small raised platform.

A demonstration is always a means to and end.

During the rally I have the opportunity to speak with Neil Cafferky, a Galway-born Londoner and the London organizer of the Youth Fight For Jobs march. I ask him first about why, despite being surrounded by red banners and quotes from Karl Marx, I haven’t once heard the word “communism” used all day. He explains that, while he considers himself a Marxist and a Trotskyist, the word communism has negative connotations that would “act as a barrier” to getting people involved: the Socialist Party wants to avoid the discussion of its position on the USSR and disassociate itself from Stalinism. What the Socialists favor, he says, is “democratic planned production” with “the working class, the youths brought into the heart of decision making.”

On the subject of the police’s re-routing of the march, he says the new route is actually the synthesis of two proposals. Originally the march was to have gone from Camberwell Green to the Houses of Parliament, then across the sites of the 2012 Olympics and finally to the ExCel Centre. The police, meanwhile, wanted there to be no march at all.

The Metropolitan Police had argued that, with only 650 trained traffic officers on the force and most of those providing security at the ExCel Centre itself, there simply wasn’t the manpower available to close main streets, so a route along back streets was necessary if the march was to go ahead at all. Cafferky is sceptical of the police explanation. “It’s all very well having concern for health and safety,” he responds. “Our concern is using planning to block protest.”

He accuses the police and the government of having used legal, bureaucratic and even violent means to block protests. Talking about marches having to defend themselves, he says “if the police set out with the intention of assaulting marches then violence is unavoidable.” He says the police have been known to insert “provocateurs” into marches, which have to be isolated. He also asserts the right of marches to defend themselves when attacked, although this “must be done in a disciplined manner”.

He says he wasn’t present at yesterday’s demonstrations and so can’t comment on the accusations of violence against police. But, he says, there is often provocative behavior on both sides. Rather than reject violence outright, Cafferky argues that there needs to be “clear political understanding of the role of violence” and calls it “counter-productive”.

Demonstration overall, though, he says, is always a useful tool, although “a demonstration is always a means to an end” rather than an end in itself. He mentions other ongoing industrial actions such as the occupation of the Visteon plant in Enfield; 200 fired workers at the factory have been occupying the plant since April 1, and states the solidarity between the youth marchers and the industrial workers.

I also speak briefly with members of the International Bolshevik Tendency, a small group of left-wing activists who have brought some signs to the rally. The Bolsheviks say that, like the Socialists, they’re Trotskyists, but have differences with them on the idea of organization; the International Bolshevik Tendency believes that control of the party representing the working class should be less democratic and instead be in the hands of a team of experts in history and politics. Relations between the two groups are “chilly”, says one.

At 2:30 the march resumes. Rather than proceeding to the ExCel Centre itself, though, it makes its way to a station of London’s Docklands Light Railway; on the way, several of East London’s school-aged youths join the march, and on reaching Canning Town the group is some 300 strong. Proceeding on foot through the borough, the Youth Fight For Jobs reaches the protest site outside the G-20 meeting.

It’s impossible to legally get too close to the conference itself. Police are guarding every approach, and have formed a double cordon between the protest area and the route that motorcades take into and out of the conference venue. Most are un-armed, in the tradition of London police; only a few even carry truncheons. Closer to the building, though, a few machine gun-armed riot police are present, standing out sharply in their black uniforms against the high-visibility yellow vests of the Metropolitan Police. The G-20 conference itself, which started a few hours before the march began, is already winding down, and about a thousand protesters are present.

I see three large groups: the Youth Fight For Jobs avoids going into the center of the protest area, instead staying in their own group at the admonition of the stewards and listening to a series of guest speakers who tell them about current industrial actions and the organization of the Youth Fight’s upcoming rally at UCL. A second group carries the Ogaden National Liberation Front‘s flag and is campaigning for recognition of an autonomous homeland in eastern Ethiopia. Others protesting the Ethiopian government make up the third group; waving old Ethiopian flags, including the Lion of Judah standard of emperor Haile Selassie, they demand that foreign aid to Ethiopia be tied to democratization in that country: “No recovery without democracy”.

A set of abandoned signs tied to bollards indicate that the CND has been here, but has already gone home; they were demanding the abandonment of nuclear weapons. But apart from a handful of individuals with handmade, cardboard signs I see no groups addressing the G-20 meeting itself, other than the Youth Fight For Jobs’ slogans concerning the bailout. But when a motorcade passes, catcalls and jeers are heard.

It’s now 5pm and, after four hours of driving, five hours marching and one hour at the G-20, Cardiff’s Socialists are returning home. I board the bus with them and, navigating slowly through the snarled London traffic, we listen to BBC Radio 4. The news is reporting on the closure of the G-20 conference; while they take time out to mention that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper delayed the traditional group photograph of the G-20’s world leaders because “he was on the loo“, no mention is made of today’s protests. Those listening in the bus are disappointed by the lack of coverage.

Most people on the return trip are tired. Many sleep. Others read the latest issue of The Socialist, the Socialist Party’s newspaper. Mia quietly sings “The Internationale” in Swedish.

Due to the traffic, the journey back to Cardiff will be even longer than the journey to London. Over the objections of a few of its members, the South Welsh participants in the Youth Fight For Jobs stop at a McDonald’s before returning to the M4 and home.

Bush uses his first veto ever on stem cell bill

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Bush uses his first veto ever on stem cell bill

January 15th, 2018 | No Comments »
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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

U.S. President George W. Bush has used the first veto of his presidency on a bill for federal funding of scientific research which uses embryonic stem cells. The bill aimed to increase the number of stem cells lines in federally funded science. Despite the veto, the destruction of embryos to extract stem cells will still take place in scientific research; the research will simply not be funded by the federal government. It is illegal in the United States to create (through conception) embryos for the purpose of scientific research.

The bill had passed in the Senate 63-37, four votes short of a 2/3 majority needed to override the President’s veto. The bill will go back to the House and Senate.

Bush had previously announced that he would veto this bill.

Bush described it as a step that would cross a “moral line”. “This bill would support the taking of innocent human life,” Mr. Bush said at the White House while surrounded by parents and children that were born as part of an embryo-adoption programme. “Each of these human embryos is a unique human life with inherent dignity and matchless value. These boys and girls are not spare parts.”

Nancy Pelosi, House minority leader, said “the veto amounted to saying ‘no’ to hope. It is up to members of Congress to represent their constituents and vote to override the veto.”

Many high-profile organizations — such as the Christopher Reeve Foundation and the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research — were actively advocating the passage of the bill.

  • Update:Thursday, July 20, 2006

The U.S. House of Representatives failed to override Bush’s veto. The final vote was 235-193, which was 51 short of the 2/3 majority needed for a veto override.

US Airport evacuated in ‘liquid bomb’ scare

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US Airport evacuated in ‘liquid bomb’ scare

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

The discovery of a suspect bottle of fluid in a passengers carry-on luggage has prompted the evacuation of Tri-State Airport, located near Huntington, West Virginia.

The bottle was identified by a security screener as a woman passenger attempted to board a flight to Charlotte, North Carolina. Since the discovery of an alleged plot to destroy US flights departing from British airports last week using liquid explosives, authorities in the US and UK have banned transportation of liquids in carry-on luggage.

A machine used by security officers to test for the presence of explosives was trigged by two of four bottles carried by the woman. This positive result was subsequently confirmed by a sniffer dog. The bottles reportedly contained drinking water and a face wash with a drop of bleach.

Both bomb sniffing dogs and explosive detecting equipment detect chlorine among other chemicals. Chlorine is the major ingredient in bleach and a common disinfectant.

Airport officials report that the woman, Rima Qayyum, is an American from Jackson West Virginia. She is of Pakistani origin and was travelling on a one way ticket to Charlotte, North Carolina. She is four months pregnant.

Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman Amy von Walter issued the following statements to press. “The bomb squad is on site and the woman is being interviewed by the FBI,” “It looks like there were four items containing liquids … two of those containers tested positive.”

The bottles were later found to be harmless and the woman was released.

Bat for Lashes plays the Bowery Ballroom: an Interview with Natasha Khan

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Bat for Lashes plays the Bowery Ballroom: an Interview with Natasha Khan

January 15th, 2018 | No Comments »
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Friday, September 28, 2007

Bat for Lashes is the doppelgänger band ego of one of the leading millennial lights in British music, Natasha Khan. Caroline Weeks, Abi Fry and Lizzy Carey comprise the aurora borealis that backs this haunting, shimmering zither and glockenspiel peacock, and the only complaint coming from the audience at the Bowery Ballroom last Tuesday was that they could not camp out all night underneath these celestial bodies.

We live in the age of the lazy tendency to categorize the work of one artist against another, and Khan has had endless exultations as the next Björk and Kate Bush; Sixousie Sioux, Stevie Nicks, Sinead O’Connor, the list goes on until it is almost meaningless as comparison does little justice to the sound and vision of the band. “I think Bat For Lashes are beyond a trend or fashion band,” said Jefferson Hack, publisher of Dazed & Confused magazine. “[Khan] has an ancient power…she is in part shamanic.” She describes her aesthetic as “powerful women with a cosmic edge” as seen in Jane Birkin, Nico and Cleopatra. And these women are being heard. “I love the harpsichord and the sexual ghost voices and bowed saws,” said Radiohead‘s Thom Yorke of the track Horse and I. “This song seems to come from the world of Grimm’s fairytales.”

Bat’s debut album, Fur And Gold, was nominated for the 2007 Mercury Prize, and they were seen as the dark horse favorite until it was announced Klaxons had won. Even Ladbrokes, the largest gambling company in the United Kingdom, had put their money on Bat for Lashes. “It was a surprise that Klaxons won,” said Khan, “but I think everyone up for the award is brilliant and would have deserved to win.”

Natasha recently spoke with David Shankbone about art, transvestism and drug use in the music business.


DS: Do you have any favorite books?

NK: [Laughs] I’m not the best about finishing books. What I usually do is I will get into a book for a period of time, and then I will dip into it and get the inspiration and transformation in my mind that I need, and then put it away and come back to it. But I have a select rotation of cool books, like Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés and Little Birds by Anaïs Nin. Recently, Catching the Big Fish by David Lynch.

DS: Lynch just came out with a movie last year called Inland Empire. I interviewed John Vanderslice last night at the Bowery Ballroom and he raved about it!

NK: I haven’t seen it yet!

DS: Do you notice a difference between playing in front of British and American audiences?

NK: The U.S. audiences are much more full of expression and noises and jubilation. They are like, “Welcome to New York, Baby!” “You’re Awesome!” and stuff like that. Whereas in England they tend to be a lot more reserved. Well, the English are, but it is such a diverse culture you will get the Spanish and Italian gay guys at the front who are going crazy. I definitely think in America they are much more open and there is more excitement, which is really cool.

DS: How many instruments do you play and, please, include the glockenspiel in that number.

NK: [Laughs] I think the number is limitless, hopefully. I try my hand at anything I can contribute; I only just picked up the bass, really—

DS: –I have a great photo of you playing the bass.

NK: I don’t think I’m very good…

DS: You look cool with it!

NK: [Laughs] Fine. The glockenspiel…piano, mainly, and also the harp. Guitar, I like playing percussion and drumming. I usually speak with all my drummers so that I write my songs with them in mind, and we’ll have bass sounds, choir sounds, and then you can multi-task with all these orchestral sounds. Through the magic medium of technology I can play all kinds of sounds, double bass and stuff.

DS: Do you design your own clothes?

NK: All four of us girls love vintage shopping and charity shops. We don’t have a stylist who tells us what to wear, it’s all very much our own natural styles coming through. And for me, personally, I like to wear jewelery. On the night of the New York show that top I was wearing was made especially for me as a gift by these New York designers called Pepper + Pistol. And there’s also my boyfriend, who is an amazing musician—

DS: —that’s Will Lemon from Moon and Moon, right? There is such good buzz about them here in New York.

NK: Yes! They have an album coming out in February and it will fucking blow your mind! I think you would love it, it’s an incredible masterpiece. It’s really exciting, I’m hoping we can do a crazy double unfolding caravan show, the Bat for Lashes album and the new Moon and Moon album: that would be really theatrical and amazing! Will prints a lot of my T-shirts because he does amazing tapestries and silkscreen printing on clothes. When we play there’s a velvety kind of tapestry on the keyboard table that he made. So I wear a lot of his things, thrift store stuff, old bits of jewelry and antique pieces.

DS: You are often compared to Björk and Kate Bush; do those constant comparisons tend to bother you as an artist who is trying to define herself on her own terms?

NK: No, I mean, I guess that in the past it bothered me, but now I just feel really confident and sure that as time goes on my musical style and my writing is taking a pace of its own, and I think in time the music will speak for itself and people will see that I’m obviously doing something different. Those women are fantastic, strong, risk-taking artists—

DS: —as are you—

NK: —thank you, and that’s a great tradition to be part of, and when I look at artists like Björk and Kate Bush, I think of them as being like older sisters that have come before; they are kind of like an amazing support network that comes with me.

DS: I’d imagine it’s preferable to be considered the next Björk or Kate Bush instead of the next Britney.

NK: [Laughs] Totally! Exactly! I mean, could you imagine—oh, no I’m not going to try to offend anyone now! [Laughs] Let’s leave it there.

DS: Does music feed your artwork, or does you artwork feed your music more? Or is the relationship completely symbiotic?

NK: I think it’s pretty back-and-forth. I think when I have blocks in either of those area, I tend to emphasize the other. If I’m finding it really difficult to write something I know that I need to go investigate it in a more visual way, and I’ll start to gather images and take photographs and make notes and make collages and start looking to photographers and filmmakers to give me a more grounded sense of the place that I’m writing about, whether it’s in my imagination or in the characters. Whenever I’m writing music it’s a very visual place in my mind. It has a location full of characters and colors and landscapes, so those two things really compliment each other, and they help the other one to blossom and support the other. They are like brother and sister.

DS: When you are composing music, do you see notes and words as colors and images in your mind, and then you put those down on paper?

NK: Yes. When I’m writing songs, especially lately because I think the next album has a fairly strong concept behind it and I’m writing the songs, really imagining them, so I’m very immersed into the concept of the album and the story that is there through the album. It’s the same as when I’m playing live, I will imagine I see a forest of pine trees and sky all around me and the audience, and it really helps me. Or I’ll just imagine midnight blue and emerald green, those kind of Eighties colors, and they help me.

DS: Is it always pine trees that you see?

NK: Yes, pine trees and sky, I guess.

DS: What things in nature inspire you?

NK: I feel drained thematically if I’m in the city too long. I think that when I’m in nature—for example, I went to Big Sur last year on a road trip and just looking up and seeing dark shadows of trees and starry skies really gets me and makes me feel happy. I would sit right by the sea, and any time I have been a bit stuck I will go for a long walk along the ocean and it’s just really good to see vast horizons, I think, and epic, huge, all-encompassing visions of nature really humble you and give you a good sense of perspective and the fact that you are just a small particle of energy that is vibrating along with everything else. That really helps.

DS: Are there man-made things that inspire you?

NK: Things that are more cultural, like open air cinemas, old Peruvian flats and the Chelsea Hotel. Funny old drag queen karaoke bars…

DS: I photographed some of the famous drag queens here in New York. They are just such great creatures to photograph; they will do just about anything for the camera. I photographed a famous drag queen named Miss Understood who is the emcee at a drag queen restaurant here named Lucky Cheng’s. We were out in front of Lucky Cheng’s taking photographs and a bus was coming down First Avenue, and I said, “Go out and stop that bus!” and she did! It’s an amazing shot.

NK: Oh. My. God.

DS: If you go on her Wikipedia article it’s there.

NK: That’s so cool. I’m really getting into that whole psychedelic sixties and seventies Paris Is Burning and Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis. Things like The Cockettes. There seems to be a bit of a revolution coming through that kind of psychedelic drag queen theater.

DS: There are just so few areas left where there is natural edge and art that is not contrived. It’s taking a contrived thing like changing your gender, but in the backdrop of how that is still so socially unacceptable.

NK: Yeah, the theatrics and creativity that go into that really get me. I’m thinking about The Fisher King…do you know that drag queen in The Fisher King? There’s this really bad and amazing drag queen guy in it who is so vulnerable and sensitive. He sings these amazing songs but he has this really terrible drug problem, I think, or maybe it’s a drink problem. It’s so bordering on the line between fabulous and those people you see who are so in love with the idea of beauty and elevation and the glitz and the glamor of love and beauty, but then there’s this really dark, tragic side. It’s presented together in this confusing and bewildering way, and it always just gets to me. I find it really intriguing.

DS: How are you received in the Pakistani community?

NK: [Laughs] I have absolutely no idea! You should probably ask another question, because I have no idea. I don’t have contact with that side of my family anymore.

DS: When you see artists like Pete Doherty or Amy Winehouse out on these suicidal binges of drug use, what do you think as a musician? What do you get from what you see them go through in their personal lives and with their music?

NK: It’s difficult. The drugs thing was never important to me, it was the music and expression and the way he delivered his music, and I think there’s a strange kind of romantic delusion in the media, and the music media especially, where they are obsessed with people who have terrible drug problems. I think that’s always been the way, though, since Billie Holiday. The thing that I’m questioning now is that it seems now the celebrity angle means that the lifestyle takes over from the actual music. In the past people who had musical genius, unfortunately their personal lives came into play, but maybe that added a level of romance, which I think is pretty uncool, but, whatever. I think that as long as the lifestyle doesn’t precede the talent and the music, that’s okay, but it always feels uncomfortable for me when people’s music goes really far and if you took away the hysteria and propaganda of it, would the music still stand up? That’s my question. Just for me, I’m just glad I don’t do heavy drugs and I don’t have that kind of problem, thank God. I feel that’s a responsibility you have, to present that there’s a power in integrity and strength and in the lifestyle that comes from self-love and assuredness and positivity. I think there’s a real big place for that, but it doesn’t really get as much of that “Rock n’ Roll” play or whatever.

DS: Is it difficult to come to the United States to play considering all the wars we start?

NK: As an English person I feel equally as responsible for that kind of shit. I think it is a collective consciousness that allows violence and those kinds of things to continue, and I think that our governments should be ashamed of themselves. But at the same time, it’s a responsibility of all of our countries, no matter where you are in the world to promote a peaceful lifestyle and not to consciously allow these conflicts to continue. At the same time, I find it difficult to judge because I think that the world is full of shades of light and dark, from spectrums of pure light and pure darkness, and that’s the way human nature and nature itself has always been. It’s difficult, but it’s just a process, and it’s the big creature that’s the world; humankind is a big creature that is learning all the time. And we have to go through these processes of learning to see what is right.