Antje Duvekot on life as a folk singer, her family and her music
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Antje Duvekot on life as a folk singer, her family and her music

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Boston-based singer-songwriter Antje Duvekot has made a name for herself in the folk music world with powerful ballads of heartbreak and longing for a deeper spirituality, but coming up empty-handed. Below is David Shankbone’s interview with the folk chanteuse.


David Shankbone: Tell me about your new album.

Antje Duvekot: It’s called Big Dream Boulevard and it’s the first studio album I made. It’s not so new; I made it in May of 2006. It’s produced by Séamus Egan, who is the leader of a fairly renowned band named Solas.

DS: You mentioned you used to explore more dark themes in your work, but that lately you are exploring lighter fare. What themes are you exploring on this album?

AD: In the future I am hoping for more light themes. I feel like I have worked through a lot of the darkness, and personally I feel like I’m ready to write a batch of lighter songs, but that’s just how I’m feeling right now. My last record, Big Dream Boulevard, was a pretty heavy record and that was not intentional. I write what is on my mind.

DS: What were you going through that made it so dark?

AD: The record is drawn from my whole writing career, so it’s old and new songs as well. I wasn’t going through anything in particular because it was spanning a wide time period. I think it’s fair to say that over all I turn to music in times of trouble and need as a therapeutic tool to get me through sadness. That’s why I tend to turn to music. So my songs tend to be a little darker, because that’s where I tend to go for solace. So themes like personal struggle with relationships and existential issues.

DS: What personal relationships do you struggle with?

AD: A lot of my songs are about dating and relationship troubles. That’s one category. But a lot of my songs are about existential questions because I struggle with what to believe in.

DS: Do you believe in a higher power?

AD: I’m sort of an atheist who wishes I could believe something.

DS: What do you believe?

AD: It’s undefined. I think I’m spiritual in music, which is my outlet, but I just can’t get on board with an organized religion. Not even Unitarianism. I do miss something like that in my life, though.

DS: Why do you miss having religion in your life?

AD: I think every human being craves a feeling that there is a higher purpose. It’s a need for me. A lot of my songs express that struggle.

DS: Does the idea that our lives on Earth may be all that there is unsettle you?

AD: Yes, sure. I think there’s more. I’m always seeking things of beauty, and my art reflects the search for that.

DS: You had said in an interview that your family wasn’t particularly supportive of your career path, but you are also saying they were atheists who weren’t curious about the things you are curious about. It sounds like you were a hothouse flower.

AD: Yes. I think what went with my parents’ atheism was a distrust of the arts as frivolous and extraneous. They were very pragmatic.

DS: They almost sound Soviet Communist.

AD: Yeah, a little bit [Laughs]. They had an austere way of living, and my wanting to pursue music as a career was the last straw.

DS: What’s your relationship with them now?

AD: I don’t actually speak to my mother and stepfather.

DS: Why?

AD: A lot of reasons, but when I was about 21 I was fairly certain I wanted to go the music path and they said, “Fine, then go!”

DS: That’s the reason you don’t speak with them?

AD: That’s the main. “Go ahead, do what you want, and have a nice life.” So the music thing cost the relationship with my parents, although I think there may have been some other things that have done it.

DS: That must be a difficult thing to contend with, that a career would be the basis for a relationship.

AD:Yes, it’s strange, but my love of music is perhaps stronger for it because of the sacrifices I have made for it early on. I had to fight.

DS: Would you say in your previous work some of your conflict of dating would have been birthed from how your relationship with your family? How do you see the arc of your work?

AD: My songs are sort of therapy for me, so you can trace my personal progress through them [Laughs]. I think there is some improvement. I wrote my first love song the other day, so I think I’m getting the hang of what relationships are all about. I’m ever grateful for music for being there for me when things weren’t going so well.

DS: Has the Iraq War affected you as an artist?

AD: Not directly, but I do have a few songs that are political. One about George Bush and the hypocrisy, but it’s very indirect; you wouldn’t know it was about George Bush.

DS: How has it affected you personally?

AD: I feel sad about it. People say my music is sad, but it’s a therapeutic thing so the war affects me.

DS: The struggle to be original in art is innate. When you are coming up with an idea for a song and then you all of a sudden stumble across it having been done somewhere else, how do you not allow that to squelch your creative impulse and drive to continue on.

AD: That’s a good question. I started writing in a vacuum just for myself and I didn’t have a lot of feedback, and I thought that what I’m saying has been said so many times before. Then my songs got out there and people told me, ‘You say it so originally’ and I thought ‘Really?!’ The way I say it, to me, sounds completely trite because it’s the way I would say it and it doesn’t sound special at all. Once my record came out I got some amount of positive reviews that made me think I have something original, which in turn made me have writer’s block to keep that thing that I didn’t even know I had. So now I’m struggling with that, trying to maintain my voice. Right now I feel a little dried-out creatively.

DS: When I interviewed Augusten Burroughs he told me that when he was in advertising he completely shut himself off from the yearly ad books that would come out of the best ads that year, because he wanted to be fresh and not poisoned by other ideas; whereas a band called The Raveonettes said they don’t try to be original they just do what they like and are upfront about their influences. Where do you fall in that spectrum?

AD: Probably more towards Augusten Burroughs because when I first started writing it was more in a vacuum, but I think everyone has their own way. You can’t not be influenced by your experience in life.

DS: Who would you say are some of your biggest influences in the last year. Who have you discovered that has influenced you the most?

AD: Influence is kind of a strong word because I don’t think I’m taking after these people. I’ve been moved by this girl named Anais Mitchell. She’s a singer-songwriter from Vermont who is really unique. She’s just got signed to Righteous Babe Records. Patty Griffin just moves me deeply.

DS: You moved out of New York because you had some difficulty with the music scene here?

AD: I feel it is a little tougher to make it here than in Boston if you are truly acoustic folk lyric driven. I find that audiences in New York like a certain amount of bling and glamor to their performances. A little more edge, a little cooler. I felt for me Boston was the most conducive environment.

DS: Do you feel home up in Boston?

AD:I do, and part of that is the great folk community.

DS: Why do you think Boston has such a well-developed folk scene?

AD: It’s always historically been a folk hub. There’s a lot of awesome folk stations like WUMB and WERS. Legendary folk clubs, like Club Passim. Those have stayed in tact since the sixties.

DS: Is there anything culturally about Boston that makes it more conducive to folk?

AD: Once you have a buzz, the buzz creates more buzz. Some people hear there’s a folk scene in Boston, and then other people move there, so the scene feeds itself and becomes a successful scene. It’s on-going.

DS: Do you have a favorite curse word?

AD: [Giggles] Cunt. [Giggles]

DS: Really?! You are the first woman I have met who likes that word!

AD: Oh, really? I’ll use it in a traffic situation. Road rage. [Laughs]

DS: Do you find yourself more inspired by man-made creations, including people and ideas, or nature-made creations?

AD: I love nature, but it is limited. It is what it is, and doesn’t include the human imagination that can go so much further than nature.

DS: What are some man made things that inspire you?

AD: New York City as a whole is just an amazing city. People are so creative and it is the hub of personal creativity, just in the way people express themselves on a daily basis.

DS: Do you think you will return?

In theory I will return one day if I have money, but in theory you need money to enjoy yourself.

DS: What trait do you deplore in yourself?

AD: Like anyone, I think laziness. I’m a bit a hard on myself, but there’s always more I can do. As a touring singer-songwriter I work hard, but sometimes I forget because I get to sleep in and my job is not conventional, and sometimes I think ‘Oh, I don’t even have a job, how lazy I am!’ [Laughs] Then, of course, there are times I’m touring my ass off and I work hard as well. It comes in shifts. There are times there is so much free time I have to structure my own days, and that’s a challenge.

DS: When is the last time you achieved a goal and were disappointed by it and thought, “Is that all there is?” Something you wanted to obtain, you obtained it, and it wasn’t nearly as fulfilling as you thought it would be.

AD: I was just thinking about the whole dream of becoming a musician. I want to maybe do a research project about people’s dreams and how they feel about them after they come true. It’s really interesting. They change a lot. When I was 17 I saw Ani Difranco on stage and I wanted to do that, and now I’m doing it. Now I think about Ani very differently. I wonder how long it took her to drive here, she must be tired; I’m thinking of all the pragmatic things that go on behind the scenes. The backside of a dream you never consider when you’re dreaming it. To some extent, having my dream fulfilled hasn’t been a let-down, but it’s changed. It’s more realistic.

DS: What is a new goal?

AD: Balance. Trying to grow my career enough to make sure it doesn’t consume me. It’s hard to balance a touring career because there is no structure to your life. I’m trying to take this dream and make it work as a job.

DS: How challenging is it to obtain that in the folk world?

AD: There’s not a lot of money in the folk world. In generally right now I think people’s numbers are down and only a few people can make a living at it. It’s pretty competitive. I’m doing okay, but there’s no huge riches in it so I’m trying to think of my future and maintain a balance in it.

DS: Do you think of doing something less folk-oriented to give your career a push?

Not really, I’ve done that a little bit by trying to approach the major labels, but that was when the major labels were dying so I came in at a bad time for that. I found that when it comes to do it yourself, the folk world is the best place to make money because as soon as you go major you are paying a band.

DS: More money more problems.

AD: More money, more investing. It’s a hard question.

DS: What things did you encounter doing a studio album that you had not foreseen?

AD: Giving up control is hard when you have a producer. His vision, sometimes, is something you can’t understand and have to trust sometimes. See how it comes out. That was hard for me, because up until now I have been such a do it yourself, writing my own songs, recording them myself.

DS: What is your most treasured possession?

AD: I’d like to say my guitar, but I’m still looking for a good one. I have this little latex glove. [Laughs] It’s a long story—

DS: Please! Do tell!

AD: When I was in college I had a romantic friend named David, he was kind of my first love. We were young and found this latex glove in a parking lot. We though, “Oh, this is a nice glove, we’ll name him Duncan.”

DS: You found a latex glove in a parking lot and you decided to take it?

AD: Yeah [Laughs]. He became the symbol of our friendship. He’s disgusting at this point, he’s falling apart. But David and I are still friends and we’ll pass him back and forth to each other every three years or so when we’ve forgotten his existence. David surprised me at a show in Philly. He gave Duncan to the sound man who brought it back stage, and now I have Duncan. So he’s kind of special to me.

DS: If you could choose how you die, how would you choose?

AD: Not freezing to death, and not in an airplane, because I’m afraid of flying. Painlessly, like most people. In my sleep when I’m so old and senile I don’t know what hit me. I’d like to get real old.

DS: Would you be an older woman with long hair or short hair?

AD: I guess short hair, because long hair looks a little witchy on old people.

DS: Who are you supporting for President?

AD: I’m torn between Obama and Hillary. Someone who is going to win, so I guess Hillary.

DS: You don’t think Obama would have a chance of winning?

AD: I don’t know. If he did, I would support Barack. I don’t really care; either of those would make me happy.

DS: What trait do you value most in your friends?

AD: Kindness.

DS: What trait do you deplore in other people?

AD: Arrogance. Showiness.

DS: Where else are you going on tour?

AD: Alaska in a few days. Fairbanks, Anchorage and all over the place. I’m a little nervous because I will be driving by myself and I have this vision that if I get hit by a moose then I could freeze to death.

DS: And you have to fly up there!

AD: Yeah, and I hate flying as well—so I’m really scared! [Laughs]

DS: Is there a big folk scene in Alaska?

AD: No, but I hear people are grateful if anyone makes it up there, especially in the winter. I think they are hungry for any kind of entertainment, no matter the quality. [Laughs] Someone came to us! I actually played there in June in this town called Seldovia, that has 300 people, and all 300 people came to my gig, so the next day I was so famous! Everyone knew me, the gas station attendant, everyone. It was surreal.

DS: So you had that sense of what Ani DiFranco must feel.

AD: Yeah! I was Paul McCartney. I thought this was what it must be like to be Bruce Springsteen, like I can’t even buy a stick of gum without being recognized.

DS: Did you like that?

AD: I think it would be awful to be that famous because you have moments when you just don’t feel like engaging.
Hamas ends truce with Israel
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Hamas ends truce with Israel

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Hamas declared a formal end to the six-month Israel-Hamas Egyptian-brokered truce at 4 a.m. GMT which was set to expire today. The pact had begun to fail weeks ago with tit-for-tat attacks across Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip. The past six months have seen a dramatic drop in the number of rockets and mortars fired into Israel from Gaza. Yesterday saw an escalation of the violence, beginning with an Israeli air raid on Gaza and Hamas responded to Israel’s attack by firing eight rockets and five mortars at Israel’s southern towns. However the past three days have seen up to 50 rockets fired, and Israeli operations in Gaza. The European Union called for an “immediate cessation” of both Palestinian rocket fire and Israeli incursions.

“The calm is over”, said Hamas official Ayman Taha, after talks with other Palestinian factions. “The calm, which was reached with Egyptian sponsorship on June 19 and expires on December 19, is finished because the enemy did not abide by its obligations,” said Fawzi Barhum, a spokesman for the Hamas. “The truce will end tomorrow.” Hamas has also released a training video, and warned Israel that any attacks on Gaza would “open the doors of the battle wide”.

“We think the lull is in the best interest of both sides,” stated Israel Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor. “We would like it to continue. If Hamas chooses violence over the cease-fire, rocket shooting over the possibility of improving the situation in Gaza, then one must ask oneself whether Hamas has the best interests of its people in mind or whether there are foreign interests that are involved.”

Hamas have said that Israel had failed to ease its blockade of Gaza but Israeli officials insist that there was no commitment to ease the siege. The UN’s relief agency described the situation as a “profound human dignity crisis”. A BBC correspondent said that “the best pragmatists on both sides can hope for is that the end of truce will not necessarily lead to a major outbreak of fighting.”

In the week leading up to the end of the truce, tens of thousands of Hamas supporters rallied in a Gaza City stadium to celebrate the 21st anniversary of the group’s founding during the First Intifada. Mahmoud Zahar, a senior Hamas official, commented that “Hamas has gone from stone-throwing to guns and rockets, from a support base of a few thousand people to a backing of millions in Arab countries and around the world.” During the rally a Hamas activist dressed as Gilad Shalit and begged for his life, asking to come home. “I miss my mother and father,” he said in Hebrew. The Israeli UN envoy, Professor Gabriela Shalev, decried the Hamas play mocking Gilad Shalit and voiced Israel’s outrage.

On Tuesday, 16 December, an Israeli court sentenced Aziz Dweik, the democratically elected head of the Palestinian Legislative Council, the Palestinian parliament, to three years in prison for belonging to Hamas. He was arrested with other politicians after the capture of Gilad Shalit. On Sunday, 14 December, Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter met with Khaled Meshaal, the leader of Hamas’ political wing. The five-hour meeting was to discuss negotiations for the release of Gilad Shalit, a corporal in the Israeli Defense Forces. Khaled said Hamas would allow Shalit to send a message to his parents but would not release him. The Interim Arab Parliament (IAP) has called on the international community to work for the release of Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) Speaker Aziz Dweik.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, who is to hold talks with President George W. Bush on Friday, will press Washington to ensure “there is no return to square one once there is a new government in Israel,” said Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat. The AP reports that President Bush and Abbas are assessing the stalled U.S.-backed negotiations with Israel that will almost certainly fail to meet a year-end deadline for a peace deal. The U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said she believes the Annapolis process is the best way to a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. U.N. Security Council endorsed the process as irreversible and urged the two parties to continue talking under its guidelines.

Haunted attractions in Texas prepare for 2013 Halloween season
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Haunted attractions in Texas prepare for 2013 Halloween season

Thursday, September 12, 2013

With Halloween approaching, numerous haunted attractions all over Texas are preparing for the big “haunt” season. Directors and staff of such attractions must invest significant time preparing their buildings; such efforts gear up significantly during September. Wikinews caught up with some owners of these attractions to learn more about the hard work it takes to prepare for opening night.

Terror Nights, an attraction in Tyler, opens for the season on September 27. Ryan Laepple, owner and director of the haunt, states he’s currently involved in “a blur of safety inspections, auditions, actor training, and last but not least event advertising.” Laepple went on to say he stays “pretty busy until the show opens on the 27th and then things calm down some. As long as not too many things in the haunt break at once.” Dean Jarnig, the director of Zombie Manor in Arlington, said he and staff have recently been spraying flame-retardant chemicals and installing new lights. Jarnig also stated he and staff are working on a promotional video for their attraction, which opens on Friday September 13.

Hangman’s House of Horrors in Fort Worth is celebrating both its twenty fifth anniversary and final operational year. Some individuals who act in these attractions refer to their fellow actors as extended family. This year, some sources have even encouraged holiday job seekers to consider working at a haunted attraction to earn money. One whimsically listed the job’s benefits as “[…] free uniforms, a complimentary hair and makeup consultation and make-over, inspirational background music, plenty of on-the-job exercise opportunities and more.” Long a staple in American culture, “Haunted Houses”, as they’re commonly called, range in size from small garage-sized projects, up to multi floor buildings outfitted with the most elaborate of lighting and special effects.

G20 protests: Inside a labour march
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G20 protests: Inside a labour march
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.

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Strong earthquake hits Pakistan, north India, Afghanistan
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Strong earthquake hits Pakistan, north India, Afghanistan

Saturday, October 8, 2005

The strongest earthquake (7.6) that South Asia experienced in the last century caused widespread damage across Pakistan, North India, and Afghanistan this morning. Strongest hit was apparently Kashmir. Tens of thousands of people are feared dead. The epicenter was close to Muzaffarabad, 138 km to the north of Islamabad, and also caused severe damage from both shaking and from landslides to Balakot, Garhi Habibullah and one village in Rawalakot.

Reports on fatalities are conflicting, but even the most conservative estimates put the toll as high as 20,000. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf told the BBC he knew of 20,000 people that were killed but added: “I wouldn’t be able to make an accurate assessment for days.” He also asked for international help and specifically requested large cargo helicopters to supply remote areas. The US has come forward to assist by providing eight military helicopters. The communications minister for the Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, Tariq Mahmmod, said on Sunday, that “more than 30,000” died in his region alone. Aside from Kashmir most of the deaths occurred in the North-West Province of Pakistan and other northern areas. The estimated death toll has now reached 35,000.

Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan, a spokesman for Musharraf, said the scale of the devastation was the biggest Pakistan has ever seen. As emergency workers searched for trapped people and helped the injured, an international relief and recovery effort geared up.

A U.N. disaster relief team was due in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, on Sunday. Britain, Germany, and the United States were among countries offering aid. India, Pakistan’s neighbour and longtime rival, also offered aid (details). A British team from the International Rescue Corps was assisting in the operation at Marghalla Towers on Sunday, equipped with heat-seeking detectors, portable oxygen bags, and advanced slab and metal cutters. According to Pakistan Television this meant that “rescue efforts are picking up pace, and lot of time is being saved.”

The tremors began at 8:50 am (03:50 GMT), and continued for two minutes, followed by several aftershocks over a period of ten minutes. Initial reports said that they were felt in Delhi, Islamabad, Lahore, Quetta, Kabul, Punjab, Jammu, Kashmir, and other areas. A magnitude 6.3 aftershock occurred seven hours later just to the northwest.

The earthquake caused several apartment buildings in Islamabad to collapse, trapping hundreds of people.

250 children were killed in Gari Habi Ullaha between Mansehra and Muzaffarabad when their school collapsed.

The Pakistani Interior Ministry reports that several villages were “wiped out.” Pakistan’s army has been directed to extend all out help to the civil population in the quake-hit areas. All civil and military hospitals have been directed to deal with the situation on an emergency basis. The President and the Prime Minister have appealed to the nation to stay calm in the face of the calamity, and asked the authorities concerned to carry out an immediate assessment of the extent of the damage.

The Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz talked by telephone with authorities in four provinces and Azad Kashmir. He directed them to utilize all machinery, and make all possible efforts to help the victims. He said that the whole federal administration, civil and military authorities had been alerted and relief goods had been provided to them for the victims of the quake.

Most of the roads are closed in the Northern Sector near the earthquake, and some have been completely washed out, so the Pakistani army is flying supplies in by helicopter. Telephone and electricity connections have been cut to towns such as Muzaffarabad, making logistical operations much more complex. The heavy rains have also contributed to the suffering of the many thousands who are now homeless.

Across the line of control in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir, officials said Saturday that more than 465 people, at least 34 of them soldiers, were killed in the quake.

Worst hit in India was the town of Uri, close to the border with Pakistan, where four in five of the town’s buildings were leveled, and at least 120 people lost their lives. Officials in India have been criticised for the slow pace and lack of organisation in the relief effort[1].

  • Magnitude: 7.6
  • Region: North India, Pakistan, Afghanistan
  • Time: (UTC) Sat Oct 8 03:50:38 2005 (08:50:38 local time)
  • Epicentre: 80km (50 miles) north-east of Islamabad, Pakistan
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Micro-loans to US poor from Bangladesh’s Grameen Bank
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Micro-loans to US poor from Bangladesh’s Grameen Bank

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Grameen Bank of Bangladesh has made the first loans to U.S. citizens who do not have a bank account. Grameen Bank is experienced in micro-financing in its home country, lending money to poor women that want to start small businesses.

Since the start of the mortgage-crisis more people in the U.S. tend to turn to fringe financial institutions bypassing the mainstream bank institutes. “Now is a good time because of … the subprime crisis and that highlights the issue that the financial system is not perfect,” , says the bank’s founder and 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus. Grameen Bank started in 1976 by lending a total amount of $27.00 to 42 Bangladesh women. To date the bank has made over $6.5 billion in loans to 7 million people in Bangladesh.

Grameen Bank’s first loans of approximately $50,000.00 in total in the U.S. was to a group of women in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York City. Garmeen Bank plans to offer $176 million in loans in New York City the next five years, and after that expanding into business as remittances and mortgages all over the U.S., as it has done in Bangladesh.

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Women in South Africa advancing in fields of science and technology
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Women in South Africa advancing in fields of science and technology

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Naledi Pandor, Minister of Science and Technology in South Africa, publicized results of a study on Tuesday on the role of women in the fields of science and technology in the country. Though women only make up thirty-three percent of publishing scientists in the country, their numbers have increased in recent years. When compared to a similar study from 2004, trends show increased enrollment of women in higher education.

Pandor was disappointed by the dearth of individuals that attended the announcement of the results of the study at the Parliament of South Africa. “It shows the degree to which science does – or doesn’t – matter to South Africans,” said Pandor. Prior to her role as Minister of Science and Technology, Pandor had served as Minister of Education of South Africa.

“It shows the degree to which science does – or doesn’t – matter to South Africans.”

Professor Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan, a woman scientist in South Africa, commented to News24 that some educational organizations in the country were “really, really hostile to women”.

Pandor highlighted problems affecting women and specifically black women in the country from increased participation in science, including “financial difficulties before and during tertiary studies, gender stereotyping, legacies of disadvantage in black communities, negative dynamics at workplaces, and the lack of attention to women’s specific needs”.

Women in the country are advancing against men in science fields, particularly engineering, agricultural studies and biology. At present there are a greater number of women than men among enrollments for degrees in higher education, and among individuals obtaining those degrees. According to The Times, “their biggest gain has been in health sciences, where women earned more than half the doctorates awarded in 2005”. Pandor emphasized a current need for additional women to enter the fields of technology and engineering.

The announcement at Parliament in South Africa was part of the launch of the “Facing the Facts 2009” booklet, which was published by a sub-committee of the National Advisory Council on Innovation (NACI), Science, Engineering and Technology for Women (SET4W). Dr. Romilla Maharaj of SET4W presented the report to Parliament, and stated that enrollment by women in higher education had increased by one percent from a previous study. Dr. Maharaj noted that women were still currently in the minority among individuals with degrees in higher education.

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Wikinews international report: “Anonymous” holds anti-Scientology protests worldwide
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Wikinews international report: “Anonymous” holds anti-Scientology protests worldwide

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Internet group Project Chanology today held protests critical of the Church of Scientology. The protests marked what would have been the 49th birthday of Lisa McPherson, who is claimed to be a victim of the Church of Scientology’s practices. Lisa died in 1995 during a running of what Scientologists refer to as an Introspection Rundown, a procedure intended to help Church members deal with a psychotic or deeply traumatic event.

Protests were planned throughout the day in 14 countries and over 50 different cities. The estimation of total protesters world wide for Feb. 10, 2008 is 9,250 people.

Wikinews had correspondents at a number of protest locations to report on the events. This article was updated throughout the day with reports from around the globe.

Contents

  • 1 Location Reports
    • 1.1 Adelaide, Australia
      • 1.1.1 Adelaide Gallery
    • 1.2 Atlanta, Georgia
      • 1.2.1 Atlanta Photo Gallery
    • 1.3 Austin, Texas
      • 1.3.1 Austin Photo Gallery
    • 1.4 Boston, Massachusetts
      • 1.4.1 Boston Photo Gallery
    • 1.5 Brisbane, Australia
      • 1.5.1 Brisbane Gallery
    • 1.6 Brussels, Belgium
      • 1.6.1 Brussels Photo Gallery
    • 1.7 Buffalo, New York
      • 1.7.1 Buffalo Photo Gallery
    • 1.8 Chicago, Illinois
      • 1.8.1 Chicago Photo Gallery
    • 1.9 Clearwater, Florida
    • 1.10 Dallas, Texas
      • 1.10.1 Dallas Photo Gallery
    • 1.11 Edinburgh, Scotland
      • 1.11.1 Edinburgh Photo Gallery
    • 1.12 Honolulu, Hawaii
      • 1.12.1 Honolulu Photo Gallery
    • 1.13 Houston, Texas
    • 1.14 London, England
      • 1.14.1 London Photo Gallery
    • 1.15 Los Angeles, California
      • 1.15.1 Los Angeles Photo Gallery
    • 1.16 Manchester, England
      • 1.16.1 Manchester Photo Gallery
    • 1.17 Melbourne, Australia
      • 1.17.1 Melbourne Photo Gallery
    • 1.18 Minneapolis, Minnesota
    • 1.19 Milwaukee, Wisconsin
      • 1.19.1 Milwaukee Photo Gallery
    • 1.20 New Orleans, Louisiana
      • 1.20.1 New Orleans Photo Gallery
    • 1.21 New York City, New York
      • 1.21.1 New York City Photo Gallery
    • 1.22 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    • 1.23 Phoenix, Arizona
      • 1.23.1 Phoenix Photo Gallery
    • 1.24 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
      • 1.24.1 Pittsburgh Photo Gallery
    • 1.25 Plymouth, England
      • 1.25.1 Plymouth Photo Gallery
    • 1.26 Portland, Oregon
      • 1.26.1 Portland Photo Gallery
    • 1.27 San Antonio, Texas
    • 1.28 San Diego, California
      • 1.28.1 San Diego Photo Gallery
    • 1.29 Seattle, Washington
      • 1.29.1 Seattle Photo Gallery
    • 1.30 Sydney, Australia
      • 1.30.1 Sydney Photo Gallery
    • 1.31 Toronto, Canada
      • 1.31.1 Toronto Photo Gallery
    • 1.32 Vancouver, Canada
    • 1.33 Vienna, Austria
    • 1.34 Winnipeg, Canada
      • 1.34.1 Winnipeg Photo Gallery
    • 1.35 The Internet
      • 1.35.1 Internet gallery
    • 1.36 Other locations
      • 1.36.1 Stories from other locations
  • 2 Related news
  • 3 Sources
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News briefs:May 28, 2010
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News briefs:May 28, 2010
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Colleges offering admission to displaced New Orleans graduate students
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Colleges offering admission to displaced New Orleans graduate students
See the discussion page for instructions on adding schools to this list.Tuesday, September 13, 2005

NAICU has created a list of colleges and universities accepting and/or offering assistance to displace faculty members. [1]Wednesday, September 7, 2005

This list is taken from Colleges offering admission to displaced New Orleans students, and is intended to make searching easier for faculty, graduate, and professional students.

In addition to the list below, the Association of American Law Schools has compiled a list of law schools offering assistance to displaced students. [2] As conditions vary by college, interested parties should contact the Office of Admissions at the school in question for specific requirements and up-to-date details.

The Association of American Medical Colleges is coordinating alternatives for medical students and residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina. [3]

ResCross.net is acting as a central interactive hub for establishing research support in times of emergency. With so many scientists affected by Hurricane Katrina, ResCross is currently focused on providing information to identify sources of emergency support as quickly as possible. [4]

With so many scientists affected by Hurricane Katrina, ResCross is currently focused on providing information to identify sources of emergency support as quickly as possible.

Physics undergraduates, grad students, faculty and high school teachers can be matched up with housing and jobs at universities, schools and industry. [5] From the American Association of Physics Teachers, the Society of Physics Students, the American Institute of Physics and the American Physical Society.

If you are seeking or providing assistance, please use this site to find information on research support, available lab space/supplies, resources, guidelines and most importantly to communicate with fellow researchers.

The following is a partial list, sorted by location.

Alabama |Alaska |Arizona |Arkansas |California |Colorado |Connecticut |Delaware |District of Columbia |Florida |Georgia |Hawaii |Idaho |Illinois |Indiana |Iowa |Kansas |Kentucky |Louisiana |Maine |Maryland |Massachusetts |Michigan |Minnesota |Mississippi |Missouri |Montana |Nebraska |Nevada |New Hampshire |New Jersey |New Mexico |New York |North Carolina |North Dakota |Ohio |Oklahoma |Oregon |Pennsylvania |Rhode Island |South Carolina |South Dakota |Tennessee |Texas |Utah |Vermont |Virginia |Washington |West Virginia |Wisconsin |Wyoming |Canada

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