Thursday, August 25, 2005

In Ireland, RTÉ’s new “Rip Off Republic” TV series has attracted a record audience of 667,000 for its second show, making it one of Ireland’s top TV programs. The second show broadcast on Monday 15th August captured 50.5% of all TV viewers in Ireland.

The series which contains four shows broadcast from Dublin City University’s “Helix” centre, aims to expose over pricing and the exploitation of consumers in Ireland. Hosted by financial advisor Eddie Hobbs, the show has attracted huge media commentry, particularly as it has attracted the attention of the governments main party, Fianna Fail.

The main argument against the show has been that it generalises issues and makes exaggerated claims – for example it claimed that restaurants make a 300%+ profit on a typical bottle of wine, leading the viewer to believe that all businesses are making such a profit. This claim has since come under attack by restaurant owners nationwide. Other arguments against the show have stated that while inflation is less than 3%, wage growth is over 6% meaning people are still better off.

The third show will be broadcast on 29th August at 9.30pm on RTÉ One. It will focus on the transport sector in Ireland.



Sunday, April 12, 2015

Seattle Sounders FC 2 (S2) association football club have maintained a streak with their third home win at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila, Washington last night, this time against Portland Timbers 2 (T2).

T2 struck first when defender Harrison Delbridge headed the ball in from a free kick in the 30th minute. Seattle responded with Pablo Rossi converting a penalty kick in the 47th minute and Giuliano Frano tapping a lobbed pass into the net in the 88th minute. Final score, 2–1 Seattle.

In the 30th minute, T2 midfielder Blair Gavin placed the ball nicely for Delbridge who connected cleanly with the ball to head it past S2 goalkeeper Charlie Lyon. At half, the game still stood with Portland in the lead 1–0. In the first minutes of the second half, S2 Andy Craven was pulled down in the penalty box by T2 Andy Thoma. Rossi was able to convert the penalty with a strong strike to the top left corner. T2 keeper Jake Gleeson was unable to stop the shot. Frano’s goal came in the 88th minute as he was able to chip the ball into the net after nice build up play by the Sounders. The Timbers did look dangerous on corners having earned 8 to Seattle’s 3.

The Timbers suffered their first loss of their season while the Sounders experienced their first ever comeback victory. This was also the first match between the two Cascadia rivals. T2 now stand at 7 points with a record of 2–1–1. S2 and Arizona United SC are now the only Western Conference teams still undefeated. Portland next faces defending champions Sacramento Republic FC away on Saturday, April 18 while Seattle hits the road to battle Tulsa Roughnecks FC on Thursday, April 16.



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.


Friday, November 24, 2006

According to a report released by the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV) for United Nation’s Development Plan, the per capita GNP in Eastern Turkey, an area predominantly inhabited by Kurdish people, is as low as seven percent of that of the European Union on average. The report analyzed a region of 21 cities in Eastern Turkey*. One of the cities included in the report, ??rnak, was reported to be as poor as Botswana, Southern Africa.

Other points highlighted in the report included:

  • 60% of the population in the region was under the poverty line. If this situation persists, people may start to migrate to Northern Iraq.
  • If 1% of the national income is spent on Eastern Turkey’s infrastructure and social investment for 7 years, the region will be enabled to finance itself. If the economic and social conditions in the region are fixed, the fragile relationship between the Turkish government and the Kurdish people of the region may improve.
  • Access to health services is a primary human right. Without access to health services, one cannot expect that people of this region can live in confidence. Health institutions should employ nurses who speak Kurdish so the patients can communicate with the health services staff.
  • The use of the private sector is not reliable as a solution. The government should act to remedy the lack of infrastructure in the region.


Friday, April 25, 2008

The arsonist responsible for setting fire to the historic Sungnyemun gate (more commonly referred to as Namdaemun gate) in Seoul, South Korea in February has been sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment. The 600-year-old landmark was considred one of the nation’s greatest and most iconic, with some sources describing it as the single most important one in the country.

The 69-year-old male defendant has a previous conviction from two years ago for attempting to torch the Changgyeong palace, for which he received a suspended prison sentence and was fined. It is understood he destroyed the Namdaemun gate and attacked the palace over an unconnected land ownership dispute which had angered him. He felt that the compulsory purchase of his home a decade ago had been inadequatly compensated for by the state.

After the fire, residents left flowers at the scene and wrote grieving notes.

Chae Jong-Gi, who admitted the crime, was told of the seriousness of the offence in a statement by the Seoul district court. “A heavy sentence is inevitable as the accused inflicted unbearable agony on the people and damaged national pride… (The monument was) the treasure among all treasures which had survived all kinds of historic disasters. Even if restored, the gate’s originality will never return. Therefore, the nature and consequences of this crime are very serious,” said the statement.

The man is thought to have selected the gate as a target due to lax security measures. In the fire’s aftermath, officials have been criticised over this and concerns that firefighting efforts were ineffective, and the Cultural Heritage Administration‘s chief resigned to show he accepted responsibility for the blaze.

The two storey gate in pagoda style was constructed in 1398 and despite a 1447 rebuild and multiple renovations still contained original timbers prior to the destruction in the fire. Only the stone base survived.

According to the Cultural Heritage Administration, a reconstruction effort will take two to three years and cost 20 billion won (US$21 million).



Saturday, November 14, 2009

Pakistani police said today that a suicide car bombing has killed at least eleven people and wounded more than twenty others, in the latest attack in the northwestern city of Peshawar.

Officials reported that the bomber set off the explosives at a police checkpoint, and added that two police officers are among the dead.

“At least eleven people have been killed and 26 others wounded,” said Sahibzada Anis, the Peshawar district administration chief, to the Agence France-Presse news agency.

According to the man in charge of the checkpoint, Malik Jehangir, he noticed a black car across the barrier and asked security officers to check it. “I saw that there was some argument between the driver and the policeman and suddenly a blast downed me with shrapnel piercing my shoulder,” he said, as quoted by Al Jazeera.

The bombing came a day after a suicide bomber struck the Peshawar office of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, killing ten people. That blast caused a large portion of the three-story ISI building to collapse.



Thursday, January 14, 2010

On Thursday, NASA officials confirmed that a small plastic bag of cocaine was found two days before in a secure space shuttle processing facility within the Kennedy Space Center located in Merritt Island, Florida.

An employee found the bag in Orbiter Processing Facility #3, where the Discovery is being prepared for a March launch to deliver supplies to the International Space Station. The man immediately notified security, and local police were soon called to the scene. From there, the bag’s contents were tested, and the results came back positive for cocaine.

The center’s director, Robert Cabana, assured the press that neither the Discovery nor the hangar in which it is being housed was compromised by the presence of the illegal drug. He went on to affirm that neither he nor his agency condone the use of any controlled substance by any employee while they are on the job, and that whoever is responsible will be fired and then prosecuted for the offenses.

Furthermore, Cabana stated that besides probing the criminal nature of what occurred, NASA will also conduct a full review of recent work performed on the Discovery as to make sure that there were not any other potential problems with the shuttle that investigators may have missed the first time.

Although a drug test was performed on each of the facility’s over two-hundred workers before they left Wednesday, “There was nothing obvious,” said the center’s public relations spokesman, Allard Beutel.

He goes on to say, “Nobody was obviously under the influence when they were working, because we have supervisors there, security in there. It wasn’t obvious somebody was under the influence of this substance, or any other, for that matter.”

Senator Bill Nelson, a former astronaut himself, says he is confident that the guilty party will be found, brought to justice, and then sent “out the door.”

Beutel concluded his statement by reaffirming NASA’s “zero-tolerance” policy for controlled substances, “People know how serious this is, and how serious[sic] people take it,” Beutel said. “And it’s not acceptable. That’s the bottom line.”



Friday, May 28, 2010

Taiwan electronics giant Foxconn has moved to repair its reputation after the suicide of a tenth employee this year, two others having survived attempted suicides.

The latest death came on the same day as Terry Gou, Chairman of Foxconn’s parent Hon Hai Precision, opened the Shenzen production facility to the media for the first time. In the face of accusations that he ran a modern day sweatshop, he showed off employee recreation facilities. Gou, bowing as an expression of regret, promised to work to prevent such tragedies occurring again.

Although not a household name, Foxconn is the largest producer of electronics components and badge engineered electronics products in the world, manufacturing products for companies like Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Intel and Dell.

Investigations of working conditions are underway. “Apple is deeply committed to ensuring that conditions throughout our supply chain are safe and workers are treated with respect and dignity,” said Steve Dowling, an Apple spokesperson. Allen Pu of Fubon Securities said: “Hon Hai needs to resolve the issue because the situation is also negative for Apple and HP. Clients may reallocate some orders to other manufacturers.”

Labor activists have criticised conditions at Foxconn’s factories as “military-style”, with workers working long shifts and not being able to speak to each other. However, Foxconn claims that the suicides were mostly the result of relationship problems unrelated to its own management style, and it argues that for a work force so large the number of suicides is small.



Wednesday, May 4, 2016

News reports on Monday indicated authorities in Palestine, Texas identified a sixth victim following flash flooding late last week. Giovani Olivas, 30, was reportedly swept away in the flood.

In under an hour late Friday evening, Palestine was deluged by seven inches of rain, causing residents of one neighborhood to flee to their rooftops. Over 30 buildings, included many homes, in the city suffered significant damage.

Lenda Asberry, 64, a retired school teacher, and her four great grandchildren also drowned during the flood. Onlookers reported the woman was attempting to get the children to safety when they were swept away. Asberry’s daughter told reporters water levels were up to the woman’s neck while attempting to save the children.

One resident of the area told reporters “[her] furniture was floating around” inside her home, forcing her to climb atop her couch to seek safety.

Dark skies blanketed the nearby city of Tyler hours before the storm struck. At least one government office located in the Palestine area was closed on Monday and was slated to remain closed on Tuesday due to water damage. A tornado also ravaged much of nearby Lindale, Texas, resulting in severe damage of at least one residence. The storm system moved up along the US eastern seaboard over the weekend.



Thursday, January 4, 2018

A fire on Sunday night in the seven-storey carpark for the Echo Arena in Liverpool, England destroyed almost all the vehicles parked inside and led to cancellation of the final evening of the Liverpool International Horse Show and evacuation of nearby blocks of flats. The blaze reportedly started with a parked Range Rover Discovery.

Investigators with the fire brigade stated that they believe the fire began with an accidental engine fire in the Range Rover at about 4.30 pm. The first call was made at 4.42 and firefighters arrived eight minutes after that. Ultimately twelve engines and 85 firefighters were involved in combatting the blaze. Aerial appliances were used and also three high-volume pumps. Fed by the fuel in vehicles parked inside, the temperature of the fire in the carpark is believed to have reached as high as 1,000°C. It was too hot to be extinguished with water from hydrants, so a high-volume pump was used to draw water from the River Mersey, and two more were brought from other fire brigades in the region.

The carpark has seven storeys and a capacity of 1,600 vehicles, and approximately 1,300 were parked in it when the fire broke out. According to Dan Stephens, chief fire officer for Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, almost all of them were destroyed, with the exception of a few parked on the top level and at corners. “With these very high temperatures, you were never going to put the fire out without the whole building taking hold. The speed at which the fire spreads means you simply aren’t going to put it out,” said Stephens.

The carpark itself was severely damaged; according to Joe Anderson, the mayor of Liverpool. It is not in danger of collapsing but will have to be demolished, which will be difficult with the many burned-out cars still inside it, Anderson told the BBC.

According to Stephens, there were no serious injuries: one woman injured her hand, and two people were treated for smoke inhalation. A spokesman for the Echo Arena also stated that all animals were safe. All horses were successfully evacuated from the carpark and then removed from the stables after smoke spread to them. Six dogs were also rescued unharmed, two on a lower level in the early stages of the fire and four that had been left in a car on the top level, freed by firefighters on Monday after the fire was put out.

The final evening of the four-day Liverpool International Horse Show had been scheduled to begin at 7.30, and had to be cancelled. Many attendees were stranded in the city on New Year’s Eve night. Merseyside police directed people to the Pullman Hotel, where Red Cross assistance was available, and the Liverpool City Council set up an assistance centre at the Lifestyles Gym. A spokesman for the Association of British Insurers has said that insurance companies will “move very quickly” to reimburse owners whose vehicles were destroyed.

Nearby blocks of flats were evacuated because of the smoke. Eyewitnesses reported hearing what they at first thought were firecrackers, then “multiple explosions”, “bangs and popping”, “the bangs of car windows exploding”. People reported leaving everything in their cars, including their cellphones, and running for their lives.

Mayor Anderson tweeted that cuts to fire services over the last two years made it significantly harder to fight the fire and might have caused it not to be controllable. He also suggested that fire safety in multi-storey carparks had not been sufficiently considered and that installing sprinklers in them might help stop future fires before they become unmanageable, in a letter to Nick Hurd, a member of Parliament.



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