For fans, by fans: Toronto anime event 2017 among continent’s largest
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For fans, by fans: Toronto anime event 2017 among continent’s largest

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Anime North is “by the fans, for the fans”, event chair Irwin Tan told Wikinews in an interview at the event, Saturday. Started by a group of university anime clubs in 1997, it has grown to become one of the largest conventions of its kind in North America, spanning three days, five venues, and tens of thousands of fans.

Along with the dealer’s hall, industry tables, and artist booths typical of conventions, Anime North’s convention floor included a formal gallery space, a charity auction in support of Toronto’s Sick Kids Hospital, an aerial performer, gaming tables, archery tag, dance events, and outdoor concerts. At one of the hotels surrounding the main venue, an entire 5000 volume manga library was available, for attendees looking to take a quiet pause. Full programming tracks about ball-jointed dolls — Doll North — and homoerotic-themed anime and manga — Yaoi/Yuri North — were also given entire hotels to themselves, allowing them to offer extensive programming.

As with many fan conventions, many fans attended in cosplay of their favourite characters. Some outfits included massive props, like wings, weapons, or even an additional character riding on their back. A variety of anime and manga worlds were represented, as well as video games like Undertale, Western comic books, Disney characters, even “Smug Wendy”, and the Ferocious Beast from Maggie and the Ferocious Beast. The event offered panels to help costume creators and wearers develop in their hobby, such as “Thermoplastics for Cosplay”, looking at the pliable polymers used to create things like character armour, and “Social Media for Cosplayers”.

The cosplay subculture of animegao kigurumi, for which masks of mainly human characters are worn, was well-represented. Ride the Pig Studios, a Nevada-based studio, was set up in the industry section with a photo booth for attendees to get a photo with practitioners of the craft, and two sessions, including one hosted by Kazunori Uhyo Sugiura, a university professor attending from Japan.

Anime North was deemed the fourth largest convention in North American with a primary theme of anime, in 2016, by AnimeCons.com.

Cosplay coverage continues after the interview.

Contents

  • 1 Interview with Irwin Tan
  • 2 Cosplay highlights
  • 3 Conservative convention next door
  • 4 Related news
  • 5 Sources
British TV presenter Rico Daniels tells Wikinews about being ‘The Salvager’
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British TV presenter Rico Daniels tells Wikinews about being ‘The Salvager’

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Rico Daniels is a British TV presenter living in France who is known for his two television series — The Salvager — whilst he still lived in the UK and then Le Salvager after he moved to France. Rico has been in a variety of jobs but his passion is now his profession – he turns unwanted ‘junk’ into unusual pieces of furniture. Rico’s creations and the methods used to fabricate them are the subject of the Salvager shows.

Rico spoke to Wikinews in January about his inspiration and early life, future plans, other hobbies and more. Read on for the full exclusive interview, published for the first time:

Valencia through to Quarters thanks to away goals rule
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Valencia through to Quarters thanks to away goals rule

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Valencia CF 0(2) 0(1) Internazionale
Match Stats
Attendance 53000
Goalscorers for Valencia CF None
Goalscorers for Internazionale None
Bookings (Valencia CF) Cañizares, Angulo (Yellow (2))
Bookings (Internazionale) Ibrahimovic, Materazzi, Cordoba, Maicon (Yellow (4))

A sell-out crowed showed up at the Estadio Mestalla in Spain to watch Valencia take on Inter Milan in the second leg of the Champions League round of sixteen. The first match ended 1-1 at the San Siro in Italy, and Inter needed a win or a draw of 2-2 or higher to advance.

The first half presented little in the way of goal chances for either team, with the biggest action in the form of a penalty appeal from Inter’s Hernan Crespo. Crespo claimed to have been taken down by Robert Ayala, but referee Wolfgang Stark waved away the appeals. The only real attacks came in the form of long range shots, with Ibrahimovic taking one for Inter, and Sanchez attempting a blast for Valencia, but neither produced a goal. Valencias keeper Cañizares then took exception to a foul by Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and both players were dealt bookings by the referee. Another penalty was appealed for by Inter, with Crespo again involved. Inter claimed the Argentine’s shot was blocked off the arm of Valencia’a Raul Albiol, but again the referee waved play on. Valencia was forced into a change when Baraja was injured and replaced him with Hugo Viana.

The second half showed slightly more in the way of chances, and Valencia in particular upped the pace. Inter coped and had their own chance but a header from Dejan Stankovic was hit into the side netting. Inter again threatened, and could have taken the lead, but Marco Materazzi’s header was cleared off the line by Marchena. Inter pushed now, but Valencia looked the more likely to score in the closing minutes with Marchena and Joaquin both coming close. It didn’t matter however, as Valencia won the series on away goals.

The game erupted in violence and several players took swings at each other. The display was truly disgraceful after the incidents in Italy, and UEFA is sure to envoke punishment once everything has calmed down.

Facial Hair, All Of Us Hate This

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Facial hair, all of us hate this

by

Taalib Durden

Facial hair, all of us hate this, its one of the most annoying problem we face. As most of us, I too have lot of facial hair and that is the reason why I am constantly in search of best facial hair removal technique. Though facial growth could be different for different people.

So here we discuss few homemade hair removal techniques. The technique which will require some takes but eventually they will help reduce hair growth to a great extent.

Make a mix of water, lemon and sugar, take a bowl, put sugar and squeeze in about half of lemon and add around one teaspoon water to make a thick paste. One thing that you need to keep in mind is that it should not become very runny. Take a brush and apply the concoct on the face for fifteen to twenty minutes, apply this process twice a week

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Make a paste of honey four tea spoons and add half lemon juice in it. Apply the preparation on the face oppose to the direction of hair growth, leave it in there and wash off it after twenty minutes

Add turmeric powder in mild and mix them thoroughly, apply the paste on the face and leave it over thre for fifteen to twenty minutes and then wash it off. And while you wash, make circular motions with your finger, it should be very mild/

Take 1 egg, a spoon of sugar and half a teaspoon of corn flour, and then form a good thick paste. Rub it on your face and peel it off. Apply this paste on your face three to four times a week.

Gram flour and make a paste with water. Make a thick paste and keep it on the face for five minutes. Wet your palms and scrub off the besan from the face in the circular motion. Once the excess basin is off the face, leave rest layer on and wash it off with water once it is completely dried.

Take besan, turmeric and curd in a bow, mix it. Apply the paste and rub it off after 15 minutes. Finally wash it off with water.

Take milk in a bowl and some chickpea flour. Mix them to form a paste, and apply the paste on your face. Keep it on for some 20 odd minutes and wash it off.

Washing your face with milk powder or rice water also helps in reducing facial hair growth. Avoid using soap.

acne treatment Hair Removal Dark CircleRemove Blackheads Skin care products

Article Source:

ArticleRich.com

Toronto Comicon 2019 welcomes fans with celebrities, creativity, cosplay
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Toronto Comicon 2019 welcomes fans with celebrities, creativity, cosplay

Friday, March 29, 2019

Toronto Comicon 2019 returned to its titular city from March 15 to 17, as one of the largest pop culture events in Canada. The popular event featured celebrity guests like actors Dan Fogler, Ron Perlman, John De Lancie, John Rhys-Davies, and Jaleel White, as well as comic artists, authors, and professional cosplayers. The event included a large show floor with hundreds of retailers and artists promoting their creations. Wikinews’ Nicholas Moreau attended the event, taking photos of the various sights.

John Rhys-Davies broke news when he revealed that a Sliders reboot is being considered. “Jerry [O’Connell] and I are talking to NBC at the moment. The basic problem is that no one knows who owns the rights”. Their legal department had apparently been looking into the matter for two months, as of the convention weekend. Emma Caufield talked of being cast in an NBC television pilot while a recurring guest actor on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Faced with loosing the character of Anya Jenkins, the producers finally committed to making her a regular. “It was a good day,” she recalls.

Special effects costumer Ian Campbell, whose screen credits include Star Trek: Discovery, had a booth at the convention displaying his prop replicas and cosplay items. Amidst the bustle of activity, Campbell was working on a Thanos helmet sculpt. After the convention, he told Wikinews that “it can be tough to maintain focus with so many people streaming past and along questions, but sculpting in front of a crowd at conventions is great because it allows people to see the process that goes into what I do […] it also can serve as inspiration to other to pursue their own artistic endeavors.”

Lisa Mancini has been cosplaying for two years, her “passion” for the hobby “stemmed through my love for Halloween.” She typically chooses “to portray beloved characters from childhood or strong females. I also enjoy a good gender bent cosplay to ensure a touch of uniqueness!”

Mancini told Wikinews after the event that the best part of cosplay is “bringing a character to life.” One of the characters she took on this year was Squirrel Girl, a Marvel Comics character. Mancini has been described by the Daily Hive as a “squirrel whisperer”, for the close affinity some of the animals have for her.

Stephanie Chapman has knit a variety of knit outfits, an uncommon technique for cosplay. Prompted by Ron Perlman’s visit, she wore a costume based on Hellboy character Abe Sapien, which lacks the eyeholes of her normal masks. With “Abe, I wanted to go for accuracy over comfort,” Chapman told Wikinews, a choice leaving her largely helpless without a handler. The costume “is very warm […] so I have to stay hydrated and try to keep as calm as possible. It’s just really hard to stay calm when I meet someone like Ron Perlman”. With the combination of excitement and “the stress I’m putting on my body”, she shared that she was prone to meltdown in suit.

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

Friday, March 10, 2006

Buffalo, New York —The Common Council of Buffalo voted on Tuesday to send the Elmwood Village Hotel proposal “to committee for further discussion”, after citing the need for more public involvement.

The Elmwood Village Hotel is a development proposal by the Savarino Construction Services Corporation, a project designed by the architect Karl Frizlen of The Frizlen Group. The hotel would be placed on the southeast corner of Elmwood and Forest Avenues in Buffalo.

To make way for the project, at least five buildings located at 1109 to 1121 Elmwood Ave would be demolished. At least two properties on Forest Avenue could also be demolished. The Elmwood properties, according to Eva Hassett, Vice President of Savarion Construction, are “under contract”, but it is unclear if Savarino Construction actually owns the Elmwood properties. Hans Mobius, a former mayorial candidate, is still believed to be the current owner the properties. Mobius also owns 607 Forest Avenue.

The properties 605 and 607 Forest Avenue could also be included in the proposal according to Hassett.

“We would use a Special Development Plan to rezone 1119-1121 Elmwood and 605 Forest to a C-2 zoning category,” stated Hassett. It is possible that Savarino Construction may try to obtain a variance for 605 Forest, which would allow them to enforce eminent domain, should the hotel be allowed to go forward.

The building at 607 Forest was also discussed to be rezoned, but it is unclear what the plans would be for that property. During the February 28 Common Council meeting, Hassett stated that the properties 605 and 607 were “now off the agenda”.

Pano Georgiadis, owner of Pano’s Restaurant at 1081 Elmwood, owns the property at 605 Forest and attended Tuesday’s Common Council meeting.

“Having a hotel is a bright idea. We all love the idea of a hotel, but the way that it is presented, is wishful thinking. This hotel does not fit. It’s like putting two gallons of water in a gallon jug, it does not fit. At the last meeting, the architect admitted that they are planning to put the undergound parking lot and the hotel, right at the property line. If I open my window, I will be able to touch the wall, that goes fifty feet high”, said Georgiadis.

“There is a problem having a seventy-two room hotel and fifty-five parking spaces. That means that all the other cars will spill all over the neighborhood. The footprint is simply too small. If you have a bigger [parking] lot, and a smaller hotel, I will welcome a hotel. I have a parking lot at my own business, and I am chasing people all day long. Remember, the city says it has ‘zero tolerance [for illegal parking]’. Try telling that to the guy from Albany who came to see his kids, that are going to Buffalo State, who would get tickets totaling over a hundred dollars”, added Georgiadis.

The city’s Planning Board is scheduled to meet on March 14, 2006 at 9:00 a.m. about the proposal. Although a discussion will take place, no vote is expected to be taken.

At the moment, none of the properties are zoned for a hotel. Savarino Construction plans on asking for a C2 zoning permit. If that does not work, they plan to implement a new zoning plan called a “special development plan” which would allow for only a hotel on the site. That zone would not be able to be changed.

“This [project] justifies Mobius’s refusal to invest in any maitenance[sic] or improvements”, on the properties said Clarence Carnahan, a local resident. “Where were the Council persons over the years? Where were the city inspectors over the years, to make sure that he maintained and improved his properties? The government was supposed to be protecting, not being preditorial. I see a predatorial issue here when it comes to this hotel. Over the years: Why has the local government been disfunctional when it came to Mobius’s properties? Refusal to invest in improvements, doesn’t that sound like a slumlord? Maybe I am missing a point here, but what kind of messages does this send to other slumlords that havn’t[sic] been jailed or fined? It’s [the hotel] trying to be pushed through.”

Carnahan also presented signs for residents and or business owners who are opposed to the hotel, that could be placed in windows or on stakes in the yard. Some of the signs said, ‘No tell hotel’, ‘Hans off, no hotel’, ‘It takes more than a hotel to make a village’. and ‘Keep Elmwood free, no hotel’. Carnahan plans on making more signs for a protest to be held on Saturday March 18, at 2:00 p.m. (EST) on Elmwood and Forest. Some signs were given to individuals after the meeting.

“First things first, Hans is the problem, and I don’t think it has been addressed. Let’s roll back the clock on this project. What can we do with Hans? There is such thing as eminent domain, which could be of greater interest to the community, to seize the property at its lowest assessed value”, said Nancy Pollina, co-owner of Don Apparel with Patty Morris at 1119 Elmwood. “There are so many ideas that have not been explored and we are about to give this parcel away, to a big developer.”

Mobius has not returned any calls by Wikinews regarding the situation.

A freelance journalist writing for Wikinews has obtained a letter, exclusively, addressed to one of the five business owners from Hans Mobius stating:

There is a proposal to develop my property which you are currently renting. Because of opposition to this development, it does not look like it will happen. I will let you know if there any changes.

Despite the letter, there have been no plans or decisions made to end the proposal.

To date, none of the business owners or residents of 1119-1121 Elmwood have received an eviction notice.

Business owners and residents gave an indication of what they would like to see happen at the corner; a project similar to one done locally last year. There, developers renovated two buildings on Auburn and Elmwood Avenues, merging the buildings into one thus allowing for more shop space. Among some of the shops to move in after the development were Cone Five Pottery, The Ruby Slipper, and Abraham’s Jewelers. Prior to the renovation work, the left building in the picture was boarded up for several years. Many of the concerned locals would like to see a similar development on Forest and Elmwood.

Rocco Termini, a developer in Buffalo, proposed a similar design at the February 28 community meeting

In an interview after the February 28 meeting, Termini stated, “I will be willing to take a look at this myself, or I would be more than happy to be partners with Sam, Sam Savarino”, who is President and Chief Executive Officer of Savarino Construction Services Corp.

So far Savarino Construction has no plans to team up with Termini.

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City to sue owner of partially collapsed 19th century livery in Buffalo, New York
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City to sue owner of partially collapsed 19th century livery in Buffalo, New York

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Buffalo, New York —Two weeks after a 19th century stable and livery on Jersey Street partially collapsed and caused 15 homes to be evacuated in Buffalo, New York, residents still do not have answers from the city despite a court order to work with them and come to an agreement on a way to save some or all of the building, Wikinews has learned. Despite the frustration from residents, the city is planning on suing the building’s owner. A rally was held at the stable’s site where residents are hoping to bring more awareness to the situation and gain more support to save the building.

On June 11, a significant portion of the stable’s right side wall collapsed into the yard of a resident’s home. Authorities, including the Buffalo Fire Department were called to the scene to evaluate the collapse and evacuate 15 homes of residents surrounding the stable as a precautionary measure. The following day, the city ordered an emergency demolition on the building, which was stopped by a restraining order residents with Save The Livery (www.savethelivery.com) won on June 14. Two weeks later, five homes are still evacuated and residents don’t know when they will be able to return.

On June 19, Judge Justice Christopher Burns of the New York State Supreme Court ordered a halt to the emergency demolition and ordered the city and residents to come to an agreement to save the building, or at least a significant portion of it. Despite a court date today, no agreement has yet been reached between the two parties.

“It is in the interest of the city to have a safe environment–but also important to maintain a sense of historical preservation,” stated Burns in his June 19th ruling. The court ruled that a limited demolition could take place and that the city was only allowed to remove material in immediate danger to residents and pedestrians, but stated that the demolition could only be performed with “hand tools.” The court also ordered that any rubble which had fallen into neighboring yards when the building collapsed, to be removed. Since then, most of not all the significantly damaged portions of the building or portions in immediate danger of falling have been demolished. The roof has also been removed to put less stress on the stable’s walls.

“Its been over three years since we have been having problems with part of the livery falling down. There was an implosion two weeks ago and suddenly the city wanted to have an emergency demolition,” said Catherine Herrick who lives on Summer Street immediately behind the stable and is the main plaintiff in the lawsuit against the city. Many homes on Summer are small cottages which were used as servants quarters when the stable was in operation, many of which were built in the 1820’s. At least seven homes on Summer border the stable’s back walls. Residents in those homes have significant gardens which have been planted against the building and growing for decades.

“Both parties are to continue to work together to see how we can meet everybody’s needs. This is the third time we have been in that courtroom, and that is what we were basically told to do,” added Herrick who said the rally was held today because this “is Buffalo’s history. Buffalo is a wonderful place to live because of its history and this is a historical, beautiful building and we need to keep those beautiful buildings.”

Herrick states that the city is working with residents, but also believes that its “slow moving” and they are allowing the owner to get away with neglect on the property.

“I believe right now that they are letting the owner get off. The owner was negligent for 20 years, and hasn’t done anything to it despite what he has claimed to say. Now that this is an emergency situation, the city has a lot to say about it,” added Herrick.

Currently the building is owned by Bob Freudenheim who has several building violations against him because its poor condition. He has received at least five violations in three months and residents who live near the building state that Freudenheim should be “100% responsible” for his actions.

Freudenheim gave the city permission to demolish the building on June 12 during an emergency Preservation Board meeting, because he would not be “rehabilitating the building anytime soon.” Freudenheim, along with his wife Nina, were part-owners of the Hotel Lenox at 140 North Street in Buffalo and were advocates to stop the Elmwood Village Hotel from being built on the Southeast corner of Forest and Elmwood Avenues. They also financially supported a lawsuit in an attempt to stop the hotel from being built. Though it is not known exactly how long Freudenheim has owned the stable, Wikinews has learned that he was the owner while fighting to stop the hotel from being built. Residents say that he has been the owner for at least 22 years. Attorneys for Freudenheim confirm that the city is starting proceedings against him for his violations beginning as early as Wednesday June 25. Freudenheim has not released a statement and could not be reached for comment.

Many residents want the building preserved and Herrick states that their engineer can have it stable in “four days” as opposed to the 14-30 days it would take to demolish the building and “at a lesser cost than what it costs to demolish it.”

It will cost the city nearly US$300,000 to demolish the building which is paid for with tax money collected from residents in the city. The Buffalo News reports that fees are approaching $700,000. Though reports say there is a potential buyer of the stable, Wikinews cannot independently confirm those reports.

Residents say the stable was designed by Richard A. Waite, a 19th century architect, and was first owned by a company called White Bros., used as a stable and housed at least 30 horses at any given time. It also stored “coaches, coupes, broughams, Victorias and everything in the line of light livery,” stated an article from the West Side Topics dated 1906. According to the article, The company first opened in 1881 on Thirteenth Street, now Normal Avenue, and later moved into the Jersey building in 1892. The Buffalo Fire Department believes the building was built around 1814, while the city property database states it was built in 1870. It is believed to be only one of three stables of this kind still standing in the country.

At about 1950, the stable was converted into an automobile body shop and gasoline station.A property record search showed that in 1950 at least four fuel storage tanks were installed on the property. Two are listed as 550 square feet while the other two are 2,000 square feet. All of the tanks are designated as a TK4, which New York State says is used for “below ground horizontal bulk fuel storage.” The cost of installing a tank of that nature according to the state, at that time, included the tank itself, “excavation and backfill,” but did not include “the piping, ballast, or hold-down slab orring.” It is not known if the tanks are still on the property, but residents are concerned the city was not taking the precautions to find out.

Wikinews has called the city along with the Mayor’s office several times, but both have yet to return our calls. There are conflicting reports as to the date of the next hearing. According to Herrick, the next hearing is July 1, 2008 though the Buffalo News states the next hearing is July 8. The News also states that Burns will make a final ruling on the stable at this time.

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Chula Vista, California becomes model for blight control laws in the US
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Chula Vista, California becomes model for blight control laws in the US

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The San Diego, California suburb of Chula Vista has responded to the recent housing crisis with an aggressive blight control ordinance that compels lenders to maintain the appearance of vacant homes. As foreclosures increase both locally and throughout the United States, the one year old ordinance has become a model for other cities overwhelmed by the problem of abandoned homes that decay into neighborhood eyesores.

Chula Vista city code enforcement manager Doug Leeper told the San Diego Union Tribune that over 300 jurisdictions have contacted his office during the past year with inquiries about the city’s tough local ordinance. Coral Springs, Florida, and California towns Stockton, Santee, Riverside County, and Murietta have all modeled recently enacted anti-blight measures after Chula Vista’s. On Wednesday, 8 October, the Escondido City Council also voted to tighten local measures making lenders more accountable for maintenance of empty homes.

Lenders will respond when it costs them less to maintain the property than to ignore local agency requirements.

Under the Chula Vista ordinance lenders become legally responsible for upkeep as soon as a notice of mortgage default gets filed on a vacant dwelling, before actual ownership of the dwelling returns to the lender. Leeper regards that as “the cutting-edge part of our ordinance”. Chula Vista also requires prompt registration of vacant homes and applies stiff fines as high as US$1000 per day for failure to maintain a property. Since foreclosed properties are subject to frequent resale between mortgage brokers, city officials enforce the fines by sending notices to every name on title documents and placing a lien on the property, which prevents further resale until outstanding fines have been paid. In the year since the ordinance went into effect the city has applied $850,000 in fines and penalties, of which it has collected $200,000 to date. The city has collected an additional $77,000 in registration fees on vacant homes.

Jolie Houston, an attorney in San Jose, believes “Lenders will respond when it costs them less to maintain the property than to ignore local agency requirements.” Traditionally, local governments have resorted to addressing blight problems on abandoned properties with public funds, mowing overgrown lawns and performing other vital functions, then seeking repayment afterward. Chula Vista has moved that responsibility to an upfront obligation upon lenders.

That kind of measure will add additional costs to banks that have been hit really hard already and ultimately the cost will be transferred down to consumers and investors.

As one of the fastest growing cities in the United States during recent years, Chula Vista saw 22.6% growth between 2000 and 2006, which brought the city’s population from 173,556 in the 2000 census to an estimated 212,756, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Chula Vista placed among the nation’s 20 fastest growing cities in 2004. A large proportion of local homes were purchased during the recent housing boom using creative financing options that purchasers did not understand were beyond their means. Average home prices in San Diego County declined by 25% in the last year, which is the steepest drop on record. Many homeowners in the region currently owe more than their homes are worth and confront rising balloon payment mortgages that they had expected to afford by refinancing new equity that either vanished or never materialized. In August 2008, Chula Vista’s eastern 91913 zip code had the highest home mortgage default rate in the county with 154 filings and 94 foreclosures, an increase of 154% over one year previously. Regionally, the county saw 1,979 foreclosures in August.

Professionals from the real estate and mortgage industries object to Chula Vista’s response to the crisis for the additional burdens it places on their struggling finances. Said San Diego real estate agent Marc Carpenter, “that kind of measure will add additional costs to banks that have been hit really hard already and ultimately the cost will be transferred down to consumers and investors.” Yet city councils in many communities have been under pressure to do something about increasing numbers of vacant properties. Concentrations of abandoned and neglected homes can attract vandals who hasten the decline of struggling neighborhoods. Jolie Houston explained that city officials “can’t fix the lending problem, but they can try to prevent neighborhoods from becoming blighted.”

HAVE YOUR SAY
Does Chula Vista’s solution save neighborhoods or worsen the financial crisis?
Add or view comments

CEO Robert Klein of Safeguard, a property management firm, told the Union Tribune that his industry is having difficulty adapting to the rapidly changing local ordinances. “Every day we discover a new ordinance coming out of somewhere”, he complained. Dustin Hobbs, a spokesman from the California Association of Mortgage Bankers agreed that uneven local ordinances are likely to increase the costs of lending. Hobbs advised that local legislation is unnecessary due to California State Senate Bill 1137, which was recently approved to address blight. Yet according to Houston, the statewide measure falls short because it fails to address upkeep needs during the months between the time when foreclosure begins and when the lender takes title.

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German BND claims U.S. exaggerated Iraq WMD claims
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German BND claims U.S. exaggerated Iraq WMD claims

Sunday, November 20, 2005

One of the most important arguments in the run-up to the Iraq war made by Colin Powell in his United Nations speech and President Bush in his State of the Union address was that Iraq had an active biological weapons program and possessed mobile biological weapons labs. According to an investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee, the main source for this information was an Iraqi defector codenamed Curveball who was a source for the German central intelligence agency BND.

Several German intelligence officials responsible for Curveball have now told the LA Times that the Bush administration and the CIA have repeatedly exaggerated his claims and ignored warnings of the BND that the source was unreliable. Recounting his reaction after seeing Powell’s United Nations speech one German intelligence officer said: “We were shocked. Mein Gott! We had always told them it was not proven…. It was not hard intelligence.” This corroborates reporting by the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit from 2003 and 2004 based on statements of unnamed senior German intelligence officials.

Nine months earlier, in May 2002, a fabricator warning was posted in Curveball’s file in U.S. intelligence databases. Powell was never warned that his United Nations speech contained material that both the DIA and CIA had determined was false, even though several people present at Powell’s CIA meetings were fully aware of this.

At this time German intelligence officers would not let the CIA meet directly with Curveball, but allowed a CIA doctor to draw blood samples. Questioning the validity of Curveball’s information in front of his CIA supervisor, the doctor was advised to “Keep in mind that this war is going to happen regardless of what Curveball said or didn’t say and the Powers That Be probably aren’t terribly interested in whether Curveball knows what he’s talking about.”

Shortly after Powell’s UN speech and several days before the invasion, United Nations weapons inspectors attempted to directly verify several key claims made by Curveball, but concluded that they were unsustainable. The White House insisted on its WMD claims based on Curveball’s information.

Even after the invasion, when more and more of Curveball’s accounts were shown to be pure fabrication, the CIA and the Bush administration relied on Curveball’s information. When U.S. forces discovered trucks with lab equipment and Curveball claimed that these were identical to the ones he has been reporting about, the CIA rushed to publish a White Paper claiming that these trucks were part of Saddam Hussein’s secret biological weapons program and Bush claimed publicly that “We found the weapons of mass destruction.” Several days later, twelve of the thirteen WMD experts who analyzed the trucks agreed that the equipment was not suited for biological weapons production, with the only dissenting voice coming from the author of the original White Paper.

The White Paper remains posted on the CIA website to this date, and President Bush has not yet retracted his statement that Iraq produced “germ warfare agents” made in his State of the Union address or his postwar assertions that “we found the weapons of mass destruction.”

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Iconic London mural could be restored
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Iconic London mural could be restored

Monday, September 20, 2010

One of London’s most well known murals could be restored after years of neglect if plans by a group of community activists gain public support. The Fitzrovia Mural at Whitfield Gardens on London’s Tottenham Court Road was created by two mural artists and commissioned by Camden Council in 1980, but the mural has since decayed and been vandalised.

Plans will be presented at a public meeting this Tuesday, to include details of the restoration and promote local public space in contrast to potential commercial developments and the focus of the London 2012 Olympics. If enough funds are raised from charitable trusts and public donations the mural could be restored during the summer of 2011.

Plans to be put forward by the Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Association, and the London Mural Preservation Society, will present ways to fund not only the restoration work but also projects to raise awareness of conservation, heritage, and the residential and working community. The heritage and mural project hopes to involve many local people who could learn new conservation skills. Also planned are workshops with local children to involve them in their heritage, an exhibition by local artists, guided tours and a celebratory event at the end of the restoration project. In addition to this, a booklet would be produced containing collected oral histories of the people involved and a preservation trust to protect the mural in future years.

The playful painting was created on a Camden Council-owned building in 1980 by artists Mick Jones, (son of the late Jack Jones, trade union leader) and Simon Barber and is a mash up of scenes depicting problems faced by the neighbourhood over the preceding decade.

There is also a caricature of poet Dylan Thomas, who lived in Fitzrovia, and a mocking portrayal of then leader of the Greater London Council, Conservative politician Horace Cutler, who is pictured as a bat-like creature. Other characters include an anonymous greedy developer and a property speculator counting piles of cash.

Peter Whyatt of the neighbourhood association is jointly leading the project to restore the mural. Yesterday he told Wikinews he had a number of concerns about the possible success of the project.

“There are a great number of problems with getting this project off the ground and we also need to act pretty quickly for a number of reasons,” said Mr Whyatt.

“Firstly the mural is in a terrible state and deteriorating quickly. There is more graffiti being daubed on the site every month because one bit of graffiti attracts another bit. We really need to start the work in the next 12 months because going through another winter with the condition of the wall will causes more problems and inevitably more expense. We want to keep as much original artwork on the site as possible to keep the costs down. This is a big mural and it will be expensive to restore,” he continued.

“And that brings me to my second concern: cost. If we don’t get other community organisations on board to bid for money for this with us and to involve their beneficiaries and volunteers, it will be very difficult to secure the money needed. Money is very tight at the moment because to the current financial climate. We need to get support at this meeting on Tuesday and some firm commitments from people and organisations to get involved.

“Lastly there is a danger of a commercial development on the site. A public-private partnership to create a new art feature. Because of the existing mural’s subject matter – it mocks property speculators, and land developers, etc – a commercial scheme probably backed by a property developer would not want to restore the mural’s original message. They’d want some “good news” scheme, some greenwash idea that paints them in a positive light.

“However, despite these problems, Camden Council have offered to do a condition survey on the mural. This will save us a lot of money. But having said that there are five council departments to deal with to get permission for this restoration work, and they don’t always talk to each other.

“But if the public and local voluntary organisations show their support, we can make it happen,” Mr Whyatt concluded.

The mural restoration will be just one part of a year long project of heritage and conservation awareness-raising. “The project is not just about the mural but also wider plans to promote awareness of heritage and conservation in an area of London under threat from commercial development. In fact the bulk of the project is about the heritage and conservation and the mural is just one part of it, and the most visible because of its situation,” Mr Whyatt later added.

There will be a public meeting about the heritage and mural project at 7.30 pm tomorrow (Tuesday), at the Neighbourhood Centre, 39 Tottenham Street. The public can also comment about the proposals on the Fitzrovia Heritage and Mural website.

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