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No prosecution for UK minor who called Scientology a ‘cult’

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) of the government of the United Kingdom told the City of London Police on Friday that there will be no prosecution for a 15-year-old boy who called Scientology a “cult” at a May 10 peaceful protest. The City of London Police had previously confiscated the boy’s protest placard and gave him a court summons at the demonstration, which took place near St Paul’s Cathedral at the Church of Scientology‘s London headquarters on Queen Victoria Street. The boy’s poster read: “Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult”. The human rights organization Liberty has come out strongly against the City of London Police for their actions at the protest, and said they are pursuing an inquiry into the police force for what they say is a troubling freedom of speech issue.

Individuals from the group Anonymous have held monthly international protests against the Church of Scientology since February, as part of the anti-Scientology movement Project Chanology. The Project Chanology movement began when the Church of Scientology attempted to get a leaked Scientology promotional video featuring Tom Cruise removed from websites YouTube and Gawker.com.

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

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

City of London Police approached the 15-year-old boy at the May 10 protest and cited section five of the Public Order Act 1986, which deals with “harassment, alarm or distress“. In response, the boy cited a 1984 judgment given by Mr. Justice Latey in the Family Division of the High Court of Justice of Her Majesty’s Courts of Justice of England and Wales, in which Latey called Scientology a “cult” and said it was “corrupt, sinister and dangerous”. In the actual 1984 judgment made by Judge Latey, he stated: “Scientology is both immoral and socially obnoxious. […] In my judgement it is corrupt, sinister and dangerous. […] It is dangerous because it is out to capture people, especially children and impressionable young people, and indoctrinate and brainwash them so that they become the unquestioning captives and tools of the cult, withdrawn from ordinary thought, living and relationships with others.” The boy told fellow protesters he was not going to take the sign down, saying: “If I don’t take the word ‘cult’ down, here [holding up his sign], I will be either, I think, most likely arrested or [given] a summons. I am going to fight this and not take it down because I believe in freedom of speech, besides which I’m only fifteen.”

… it is not abusive or insulting and there is no offensiveness, as opposed to criticism, neither in the idea expressed nor in the mode of expression. No action will be taken against the individual.

When the boy refused to take his sign down, City of London Police removed it, cited him with a court summons and informed him that the matter would be referred to the Crown Prosecution Service. The boy was the only protester who did not comply with the police requests to remove signs which referred to Scientology as a “cult”. According to The Guardian, a CPS spokesman stated Friday that: “In consultation with the City of London police, we were asked whether the sign, which read ‘Scientology is not a religion it is a dangerous cult’, was abusive or insulting. Our advice is that it is not abusive or insulting and there is no offensiveness, as opposed to criticism, neither in the idea expressed nor in the mode of expression. No action will be taken against the individual.”

“The CPS review of the case includes advice on what action or behaviour at a demonstration might be considered to be threatening, abusive or insulting. The force’s policing of future demonstrations will reflect this advice,” said a spokeswoman for the City of London Police in a statement in The Guardian.

The 15-year-old boy’s mother called the CPS decision a “victory for free speech”, saying: “We’re all incredibly proud of him. We advised him to take the placard down when we realised what was happening but he said ‘No, it’s my opinion and I have a right to express it’.”

The incident has generated significant interest on the Internet, from civil rights groups and anti-cult groups, and in the press. Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, and Ian Haworth of the United Kingdom-based Cult Information Centre were highly critical of the actions of the City of London Police. George Pitcher of The Daily Telegraph called the actions of the City of London Police “a mockery of the law”. Other publications also criticized the actions of the police, compared the boy to past civil rights protesters, and analyzed how the characterization of “cult” applied to Scientology. The Guardian reported that human rights activists “were outraged” when reports of the actions of the City of London Police at the protest surfaced this week. Marina Hyde wrote in a comment piece in The Guardian that the City of London Police should spend a little less time “reaching for the collar of free-speaking children”. An article in The Guardian about the boy’s court summons hit the front page of the website Slashdot on Wednesday, and an article about the statement by CPS hit the site’s front page on Friday. The anti-Scientology website Enturbulation.org devoted its front page to the incident on Saturday.

The police may have ended their inquiries into this tawdry incident but rest assured that Liberty’s inquiry will continue.

BBC News reported that attorneys for Liberty represented the 15-year-old boy to the CPS. In media statements Friday, Liberty said it would continue its inquiry into the actions of the City of London Police. “The police may have ended their inquiries into this tawdry incident but rest assured that Liberty’s inquiry will continue. Democracy is all about clashing ideas and the police should protect peaceful protest, not stifle it,” said James Welch, legal director at Liberty. “Reason has prevailed in the case of the anti-Scientology protester”, wrote Welch in a comment piece in The Observer. According to The Press Association, Liberty’s inquiry may result in actions taken against the City of London Police.

The City of London Police has faced controversy in the past for its close association with the Church of Scientology. When the City of London Scientology building opened in 2006, City of London Chief Superintendent Kevin Hurley praised Scientology in an appearance as guest speaker at the building’s opening ceremony. Ken Stewart, another of the City of London’s chief superintendents, has also appeared in a video praising Scientology. According to The Guardian over 20 officers for the City of London Police have accepted gifts from the Church of Scientology including tickets to film premieres, lunches and concerts at police premises.

Unlike the City of London Police, the Metropolitan Police Service (the territorial police force responsible for Greater London excluding the City of London) has not raised an issue with protesters using placards with similar wording at protests against Scientology, according to The Guardian and Londonist.

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

 This story has updates See UK group Liberty, Edinburgh city council on Scientology ‘cult’ signs 

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Canada’s Scarborough East (Ward 44) city council candidates speak

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

Saturday, November 4, 2006

On November 13, Torontonians will be heading to the polls to vote for their ward’s councillor and for mayor. Among Toronto’s ridings is Scarborough East (Ward 44). One candidates responded to Wikinews’ requests for an interview. This ward’s candidates include Donald Blair, Diana Hall, Mohammed Mirza, Ron Moeser, Kevin Richardson, Richard Rieger, Richard Ross, and Kevin Wellington.

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

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Florida man charged with stealing Wi-Fi

Update since publication

This article mentions that Wi-Fi stands for “Wireless Fidelity”, although this is disputed.

Thursday, July 7, 2005

A Florida man is being charged with 3rd degree felony for logging into a private Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity) Internet access point without permission. Benjamin Smith III, 41, is set for a pre-trial hearing this month in the first case of its kind in the United States.

This kind of activity occurs frequently, but often goes undetected by the owners of these wireless access points (WAPs). Unauthorized users range from casual Web browsers, to users sending e-mails, to users involved in pornography or even illegal endeavours.

According to Richard Dinon, owner of the WAP Smith allegedly broke into, Smith was using a laptop in an automobile while parked outside Dinon’s residence.

There are many steps an owner of one of these access points can take to secure them from outside users. Dinon reportedly knew how to take these steps, but had not bothered because his “neighbors are older.”

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McCain and Obama face off in U.S. presidential candidate debate

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The two major party presidential candidates in the US, Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain, faced each other yesterday in the first TV debate. Despite that McCain had asked to postpone the debate, both were present at the University of Mississippi. The debate, which was moderated by PBSJim Lehrer, was planned to be focused on foreign policy, however due to concerns about the US financial crisis, the debate began focused on economy.

McCain repeatedly referred to his experience, drawing on stories from the past. Often, he joked of his age and at one point seemed to mock his opponent. Obama spoke of mistakes and repeatedly laid out detailed plans.

The debate was widely seen as a draw. A CBS poll conducted after the debate on independent voters found that 38% felt it was a draw, 40% felt Obama had won, and 22% thought that McCain had won. Voters and analysts agreed that Obama had won on the economy, but that McCain had done better on foreign policy issues, which were the focus of the debate. However, Obama had a more substantial lead on the economy than McCain did on foreign policy.

The McCain campaign faced some ridicule prior to the debate, after airing an internet ad declaring McCain had won the debate hours before it had started.

Contents

  • 1 Financial & bailout plans
  • 2 Fundamental differences
  • 3 Post-financial crisis plans
  • 4 Lessons of Iraq
  • 5 Troops in Afghanistan
  • 6 Iran
  • 7 Diplomacy
  • 8 Relationship with Russia
  • 9 Alternative energy
  • 10 Likelihood of another 9/11
  • 11 Sources

The candidates were asked where they stood on the country’s financial plans.

Obama put forward four proposals for helping the economy. First, to “make sure that we’ve got oversight over this whole [bailout] process”. Second, to “make sure that taxpayers, when they are putting their money at risk, have the possibility of getting that money back and gains”. Third, to “make sure that none of that money is going to pad CEO bank accounts or to promote golden parachutes”. And lastly, “make sure that we’re helping homeowners, because the root problem here has to do with the foreclosures that are taking place all across the country”.

He then went on to say, “we also have to recognize that this is a final verdict on eight years of failed economic policies promoted by George Bush, supported by Senator McCain, a theory that basically says that we can shred regulations and consumer protections and give more and more to the most, and somehow prosperity will trickle down”.Lehrer then turned to McCain, giving him two minutes as well.

McCain, on the other hand, stressed the urgency of the crisis and the partisanship present in Washington before going on. “This package has transparency in it. It has to have accountability and oversight. It has to have options for loans to failing businesses, rather than the government taking over those loans. We have to — it has to have a package with a number of other essential elements to it,” he told viewers, pausing to briefly mention energy and jobs before Lehrer stopped him.

Lehrer asked the two to come back to his question and urging them to speak to each other, first turning to Senator Obama.

“We haven’t seen the language yet,” Obama began, speaking to Lehrer and not McCain. “And I do think that there’s constructive work being done out there”, he said, before noting he was optimistic a plan would come together. “The question, I think, that we have to ask ourselves is, how did we get into this situation in the first place?”

He continued, stressing his foresight on the issues two years ago, before Lehrer turned to McCain, asking if he planned to vote for the bailout plan.

McCain stammered that he hoped so. Lehrer asked again, and McCain replied, “Sure. But — but let me — let me point out, I also warned about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and warned about corporate greed and excess, and CEO pay, and all that. A lot of us saw this train wreck coming.”

McCain then continued, giving a story about former US President Dwight Eisenhower, who “on the night before the Normandy invasion, went into his room, and he wrote out two letter”. Eisenhower, he said, had taken accountability for his actions.

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“As president of the United States, people are going to be held accountable in my administration. And I promise you that that will happen.”

Obama then agreed with McCain, adding that more accountability was needed but not just when there’s a panic. “There are folks out there who’ve been struggling before this crisis took place,” Obama continued, “and that’s why it’s so important, as we solve this short-term problem, that we look at some of the underlying issues that have led to wages and incomes for ordinary Americans to go down, the — a health care system that is broken, energy policies that are not working, because, you know, 10 days ago, John said that the fundamentals of the economy are sound”.

Obama was asked to say it to McCain. Obama replied, “I do not think that they are”. Lehrer asked him to say it more directly to McCain, and Obama laughed, repeating himself to McCain.

McCain joked about his age, saying, “Are you afraid I couldn’t hear him?”

Obama said that he and McCain disagreed fundamentally and that he wanted accountability “not just when there’s a crisis for folks who have power and influence and can hire lobbyists, but for the nurse, the teacher, the police officer, who, frankly, at the end of each month, they’ve got a little financial crisis going on. They’re having to take out extra debt just to make their mortgage payments”. Tax policies, he said, were a good example.

McCain disagreed. “No, I — look, we’ve got to fix the system. We’ve got fundamental problems in the system. And Main Street is paying a penalty for the excesses and greed in Washington, D.C., and on Wall Street. So there’s no doubt that we have a long way to go. And, obviously, stricter interpretation and consolidation of the various regulatory agencies that weren’t doing their job, that has brought on this crisis”.

Lehrer went on to the next question, asking if there were fundamental differences between the approaches of the two.

McCain began by saying he wanted to lower “completely out of control” spending. He promised as president to “veto every single spending bill” He then attacked Senator Obama’s use of earmarks, citing it as a fundamental difference.

Senator Obama agreed that earmarks were being abused, but not that it was a large problem. “Earmarks account for $18 billion in last year’s budget. Senator McCain is proposing — and this is a fundamental difference between us — $300 billion in tax cuts to some of the wealthiest corporations and individuals in the country, $300 billion. Now, $18 billion is important; $300 billion is really important.” He then attacked McCain’s tax plans, saying, “you would have CEOs of Fortune 500 companies getting an average of $700,000 in reduced taxes, while leaving 100 million Americans out”.

He then stressed his focus on the middle class, saying, “We’ve got to grow the economy from the bottom up. What I’ve called for is a tax cut for 95 percent of working families, 95 percent”.

McCain was called on.

“Now, Senator Obama didn’t mention that, along with his tax cuts, he is also proposing some $800 billion in new spending on new programs,” McCain said, attacking his opponent. He also said that Obama had only suspended pork barrel spending after he started running for president.

“What I do is I close corporate loopholes,” Obama objected, “stop providing tax cuts to corporations that are shipping jobs overseas so that we’re giving tax breaks to companies that are investing here in the United States. I make sure that we have a health care system that allows for everyone to have basic coverage”.

He then turned to McCain, asking him to look at his tax policies, which he said were ignoring the middle class and a continuation of Bush policies.

Lehrer asked McCain to respond directly to Obama’s attack on his tax policies.

“Well — well, let me give you an example of what Senator Obama finds objectionable, the business tax,” McCain began. He then explained the reasoning behind his business tax cuts, saying that companies would want to start in countries where they would pay less taxes. “I want to cut that business tax. I want to cut it so that businesses will remain in — in the United States of America and create jobs”.

Obama explained that his tax cuts would affect 95% of taxpayers, then replied, “Now, John mentioned the fact that business taxes on paper are high in this country, and he’s absolutely right. Here’s the problem: There are so many loopholes that have been written into the tax code, oftentimes with support of Senator McCain, that we actually see our businesses pay effectively one of the lowest tax rates in the world”.

McCain, he said, opposed closing loopholes but just wanted to add more tax breaks on top of that.

This was a clear victory for Barack Obama on John McCain’s home turf. Senator McCain offered nothing but more of the same failed Bush policies, and Barack Obama made a forceful case for change in our economy and our foreign policy.

He went on, attacking McCain’s health credit idea, saying that McCain wanted to tax health credits. “Your employer now has to pay taxes on the health care that you’re getting from your employer. And if you end up losing your health care from your employer, you’ve got to go out on the open market and try to buy it”.

McCain responded with an example of Obama voting for tax breaks of oil companies.

Obama cut in, “John, you want to give oil companies another $4 billion”, he pointed out.

McCain shot back, attacking Obama’s earmark spending and tax policies. “Who’s the person who has believed that the best thing for America is — is to have a tax system that is fundamentally fair?”, he said, referring to himself. “And I’ve fought to simplify it, and I have proposals to simplify it”.

He then accused Obama of voting “to increase taxes on people who make as low as $42,000 a year”. Obama repeated several times that McCain’s accusations were untrue.

McCain then accused him of giving tax cuts to oil companies, which Obama once again said was untrue. “The fact of the matter is, is that I was opposed to those tax breaks, tried to strip them out,”he said. “We’ve got an emergency bill on the Senate floor right now that contains some good stuff, some stuff you want, including drilling off-shore, but you’re opposed to it because it would strip away those tax breaks that have gone to oil companies.”

Lehrer then broke in, stopping the argument. He switched to a new question, asking what priorities and goals for the country the candidates would give up as a result of the financial crisis.

He allowed Obama to answer the question first, who said many things would have to be delayed but not forgotten. He then began to list what he felt the country had to have to continue to compete.

“We have to have energy independence,” he said, “so I’ve put forward a plan to make sure that, in 10 years’ time, we have freed ourselves from dependence on Middle Eastern oil by increasing production at home, but most importantly by starting to invest in alternative energy, solar, wind, biodiesel”.

He continued, saying that the health care system had to be fixed because it was bankrupting families.

“We’ve got to make sure that we’re competing in education,” he continued. “We’ve got to make sure that our children are keeping pace in math and in science.” He also mentioned making sure college was still affordable.

He also stressed making sure the country was still stable structurally, “to make sure that we can compete in this global economy”.

Lehrer then turned to McCain, asking him to present his ideas.

“Look, we, no matter what, we’ve got to cut spending”, McCain began and reminded the audience that he “saved the taxpayers $6.8 billion by fighting a contract that was negotiated between Boeing and DOD that was completely wrong”.

Lehrer broke in, asking if it was correct that neither of them had any major changes to implement after the financial crisis.

Obama replied that many things would have to be delayed and put aside, and that investments had to be made. He then agreed with McCain that cuts had to be made. “We right now give $15 billion every year as subsidies to private insurers under the Medicare system. Doesn’t work any better through the private insurers. They just skim off $15 billion. That was a give away and part of the reason is because lobbyists are able to shape how Medicare work”.

McCain then made a suggestion. “How about a spending freeze on everything but defense, veteran affairs and entitlement programs”. Lehrer repeated “spending freeze?” and McCain went on, “I think we ought to seriously consider with the exceptions the caring of veterans, national defense and several other vital issues”.

Obama disagreed with McCain’s idea, saying it was “using a hatchet”. Some vital programs, he said, were seriously underfunded. “I went to increase early childhood education and the notion that we should freeze that when there may be, for example, this Medicare subsidy doesn’t make sense”.

The two candidates began to argue more directly.

“We have to have,” McCain argued, “wind, tide, solar, natural gas, flex fuel cars and all that but we also have to have offshore drilling and we also have to have nuclear power”.

He accused Obama of opposing storing nuclear fuel.

Lehrer interrupted the two with another question, asking how the financial crisis would affect how they ran the country.

Obama replied first. “There’s no doubt it will affect our budgets. There is no doubt about it”. He went on to stress that it was a critical time and the country’s long term priorities had to be sorted out.

There was one man who was presidential tonight, that man was John McCain. There was another who was political, that was Barack Obama. John McCain won this debate and controlled the dialogue throughout, whether it was the economy, taxes, spending, Iraq or Iran.

McCain replied by criticizing Obama’s health care plans. “I want the families to make decisions between themselves and their doctors. Not the federal government,” he said, then called for lower spending.

He went on to speak about the national debt and stressing the importance of low taxes.

Obama went on the offensive, attacking McCain’s record of voting. “John, it’s been your president who you said you agreed with 90 percent of the time who presided over this increase in spending”, he said, accusing him of voting for an “orgy of spending”.

McCain countered that he had opposed Bush “on spending, on climate change, on torture of prisoner, on – on Guantanamo Bay. On a — on the way that the Iraq War was conducted”. He called himself a maverick, and referred to his running mate as a maverick as well.

Lehrer asked the two what the lessons of Iraq were.

McCain answered first, stressing that the war in Iraq was going well. “I think the lessons of Iraq are very clear,” he answered, “that you cannot have a failed strategy that will then cause you to nearly lose a conflict”.

He went on to praise the efforts in Iraq, saying the strategy was successful and the US was winning. “And we will come home with victory and with honor. And that withdrawal is the result of every counterinsurgency that succeeds”, and continued that Iraq would make a stable ally.

Lehrer asked Obama how he saw the lessons of Iraq, who began by questioning the fundamentals of the war and whether the US should have gone in the first place.

“We took our eye off [bin Laden]. And not to mention that we are still spending $10 billion a month, when they have a $79 billion surplus, at a time when we are in great distress here at home, and we just talked about the fact that our budget is way overstretched and we are borrowing money from overseas to try to finance just some of the basic functions of our government”.

The lesson, he said, was to “never hesitate to use military force”, but to use it wisely.

McCain was asked if he agreed on the lesson, though he did not comment on a lesson learned. Obama, he said, had been wrong about the surge.

The two opponents then began arguing, as Lehrman tried to mediate them.

McCain felt it was remarkable that “Senator Obama is the chairperson of a committee that oversights NATO that’s in Afghanistan. To this day, he has never had a hearing”.

“The issues of Afghanistan,” Obama responded, “the issues of Iraq, critical issues like that, don’t go through my subcommittee because they’re done as a committee as a whole”.

He then began to attack McCain’s optimism. “You said that we were going to be greeted as liberators. You were wrong. You said that there was no history of violence between Shiite and Sunni. And you were wrong”.

McCain responded to the criticism by telling a story of when he spoke to troops who were re-enlisting. “And you know what they said to us? They said, let us win. They said, let us win. We don’t want our kids coming back here. And this strategy, and this general, they are winning. Senator Obama refuses to acknowledge that we are winning in Iraq”.

McCain repeatedly accused Obama of opposing funding to troops.

Obama responded by speaking to Lehrer, to explain why he had voted against funding troops. “Senator McCain opposed funding for troops in legislation that had a timetable, because he didn’t believe in a timetable. I opposed funding a mission that had no timetable, and was open- ended, giving a blank check to George Bush. We had a difference on the timetable”.

“Admiral Mullen suggests that Senator Obama’s plan is dangerous for America,” McCain cut in once Obama had finished.

Obama said it was not the case, that the wording was “a precipitous withdrawal would be dangerous”.

McCain then argued that Iraq, and not Afghanistan, was the central battle ground against terrorism. He also attacked Obama’s surprise that the surge had worked.

Lehrer switched to a new question. “Do you think more troops — more U.S. troops should be sent to Afghanistan, how many, and when?”

Obama mentioned he had been saying more troops in Afghanistan were needed for over a year. He argued that no Al-Qaeda were present in Iraq before the invasion, and the people there had nothing to do with 9/11.

He then went on to list a three part plan beginning with pressuring the Afghani government to work for it’s people and control it’s poppy trade. He also pressed the need to stop giving money to Pakistan.

To be frank, I’m surprised McCain didn’t play the POW card more tonight, consider how frequently he and his campaign have used it earlier in the campaign.

McCain responded by saying Iraq had to be stabilized and that he would not make the mistake of leaving Iraq the way it is.

“If you’re going to aim a gun at somebody,” he said, “you’d better be prepared to pull the trigger”.

Obama responded by arguing that if the Pakistani government would not take care of terrorists in it’s borders, action had to be taken. He then commented on past US policies with Pakistan, saying that the US support of Musharraf had alienated the Pakistani people.

“And as a consequence, we lost legitimacy in Pakistan. We spent $10 billion. And in the meantime, they weren’t going after al Qaeda, and they are more powerful now than at any time since we began the war in Afghanistan. That’s going to change when I’m president of the United States”, he finished.

McCain quickly replied that Pakistan was a failed state at the time. He then went on to talk about his voting record. “I have a record of being involved in these national security issues, which involve the highest responsibility and the toughest decisions that any president can make, and that is to send our young men and women into harm’s way”.

Obama argued that Afghanistan could not be muddled through, and that problems were being caused by not focusing on Al-Qaeda. As he finished, Lehrer attempted to announce a new question, but McCain quickly attacked Obama, saying his plans would have a “calamitous effect” on national security and the region.

Lehrer directed his next question towards McCain, asking about his thoughts on Iran and it’s threat to the US.

McCain’s reading of the threat in Iran was “if Iran acquires nuclear weapons, it is an existential threat to the State of Israel and to other countries in the region”. He stressed the need to avoid another Holocaust, and the need for a league of democracies

Anybody hearing a snicker from McCain while Obama is talking?

to battle Iran. “I am convinced that together, we can, with the French, with the British, with the Germans and other countries, democracies around the world, we can affect Iranian behavior”.

Obama went next, focusing on the Iraq war’s effect on Iran. Iraq, he said, was Iran’s “mortal enemy” and had kept Iran from becoming a threat. “That was cleared away. And what we’ve seen over the last several years is Iran’s influence grow. They have funded Hezbollah, they have funded Hamas, they have gone from zero centrifuges to 4,000 centrifuges to develop a nuclear weapon”.

He then went on to say that refusing to use diplomacy with hostile nations has only made matters worse and isolated the US.

Lehrer turned to McCain, asking him how he felt about diplomacy as a solution.

McCain hurried through his response, attacking Obama on his willingness to meet with hostile leaders without preconditions. People like Ahmadinejad, he said, would have their ideas legitimized if a President met with them.

Obama responded by pointing out that Ahmadinejad was only a minor leader. Meeting leaders without preconditions, he said, “doesn’t mean that you invite them over for tea one day”. He then turned to attacking McCain, who he said “would not meet potentially with the prime minister of Spain, because he — you know, he wasn’t sure whether they were aligned with us. I mean, Spain? Spain is a NATO ally”.

McCain retorted that he was not yet President so it would be out of place. The two then began to argue over the comments of Dr. Kissinger’s stance on meeting foreign leaders.

McCain argued that meeting with and legitimizing ideas was dangerous and naive, and said it was a fundamental difference of opinion.

Obama accused McCain of misrepresentation, stressing that he would not speak without low level talks and preparations.

McCain responded by mocking Obama. “So let me get this right. We sit down with Ahmadinejad, and he says, ‘We’re going to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth,’ and we say, ‘No, you’re not’? Oh, please”.

The two started arguing among each other, as Lehrer attempted to interject, finally succeeding with a new question. He turned to Obama, asking how he saw the relationship with Russia and it’s potential.

Obama began spelling out his opinion, stating that he felt the US approach to Russia had to be evaluated. He then continued that the US has to press for a unified alliance and for Russia to remove itself from other nations, adding that the US had to “explain to the Russians that you cannot be a 21st-century superpower, or power, and act like a 20th-century dictatorship”.

He went on, stressing the importance of diplomacy and affirming relationships, and inviting Russian-influenced countries into NATO. “Now, we also can’t return to a Cold War posture with respect to Russia. It’s important that we recognize there are going to be some areas of common interest. One is nuclear proliferation”.

McCain responded by attacking Obama’s reaction to the Russian-Georgian conflict, criticizing his initial comment that both sides should show restraint, calling it naive. “He doesn’t understand that Russia committed serious aggression against Georgia. And Russia has now become a nation fueled by petro-dollars that is basically a KGB apparatchik-run government”.

Lehrer asked Obama if there were any major differences between the two’s opinion on Russia, who answered that he and McCain had similar opinions on Russia. He then stressed foresight in dealing with Russia, as well as reducing dependence on foreign oil through alternative energy.

“Over 26 years, Senator McCain voted 23 times against alternative energy, like solar, and wind, and biodiesel,” he mentioned.

The two began to argue over alternative energy. As Lehrer began announcing the next question, McCain interjected. “No one from Arizona is against solar. And Senator Obama says he’s for nuclear, but he’s against reprocessing and he’s against storing So,” he continued, as Obama objected, “it’s hard to get there from here. And off-shore drilling is also something that is very important and it is a bridge”.

McCain continued, as Obama interrupted to correct him, saying that he had voted for storing nuclear waste safely.

The two began interrupting each other, each trying to get a word in, before Lehrer stopped them and moved on.

“What do you think the likelihood is that there would be another 9/11-type attack on the continental United States?” asked Lehrer.

McCain said that America was far safer since 9/11, which he claimed a hand in. He went on to stress better intelligence and technology in keeping America safe, but that he felt the US was far safer.

Lehrer then turned to Obama.

Obama disagreed slightly, saying America was safer in some ways, but “we still have a long way to go”. He also felt that the US was not focusing enough on Al-Qaeda and fighting in Iraq was not making the US safer.

McCain accused Senator Obama of not understanding that “if we fail in Iraq, it encourages al Qaeda. They would establish a base in Iraq”.

Lehrer asked if Obama agreed.

Obama argued that the sole focus was currently Iraq, but that “in the meantime, bin Laden is still out there. He is not captured. He is not killed”. He noted that $10 billion was spent in Iraq every month, instead of going to healthcare. He argued that veterans were not getting the benefits they deserved, and that the next president’s strategies had to be broader.

McCain responded by attacking Obama saying he didn’t think Obama had the knowledge or experience to be President.

Obama then said that the job of the next President would be to repair America’s image and economy.

McCain concluded by citing his POW experience. “Jim, when I came home from prison, I saw our veterans being very badly treated, and it made me sad. And I embarked on an effort to resolve the POW-MIA issue, which we did in a bipartisan fashion, and then I worked on normalization of relations between our two countries so that our veterans could come all the way home”.

“And that ends this debate tonight,” finished Jim Lehrer.

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Scientology protest group celebrates founder’s birthday worldwide

 Correction — March 19, 2008 The next protest is scheduled for April 12, 2008. The article below states April 18 which is incorrect. 

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Internet group Anonymous today held further protests critical of the Church of Scientology.

The global protests started in Australia where several hundred protesters gathered at different locations for peaceful protests.

In a global speech, the Internet protest movement said Scientology “betrayed the trust of its members, [had] taken their money, their rights, and at times their very lives.” The protesters welcomed the public interest their protests have led to, and claimed they witnessed “an unprecedented flood of Scientologists [joining] us across the world to testify about these abuses.” The group said it would continue with monthly actions.

In a press statement from its European headquarters, Scientology accused the anonymous protesters of “hate speech and hate crimes”, alleging that security measures were necessary because of death threats and bomb threats. This also makes the Church want to “identify members” of the group it brands as “cyber-terrorists”.

Wikinews had correspondents in a number of protest locations to report on the events.

Anonymous states that the next protest is scheduled to take place on April 18, which happens to be the birthday of Suri, the daughter of Tom and Katie Cruise.

Contents

  • 1 Location reports
    • 1.1 Adelaide, Australia
    • 1.2 Atlanta, Georgia
    • 1.3 Austin, Texas
    • 1.4 Boston, Massachusetts
    • 1.5 Brussels, Belgium
    • 1.6 London, England
    • 1.7 Manchester, England
    • 1.8 New York, New York
    • 1.9 Buffalo, New York
    • 1.10 Seattle, Washington
    • 1.11 Sydney, Australia
    • 1.12 Portland, Oregon
  • 2 Related news
  • 3 Sources

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Warhol’s photo legacy spread by university exhibits

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Evansville, Indiana, United States — This past week marked the opening night of an Andy Warhol exhibit at the University of Southern Indiana. USI’s art gallery, like 189 other educational galleries and museums around the country, is a recipient of a major Warhol donor program, and this program is cultivating new interest in Warhol’s photographic legacy. Wikinews reporters attended the opening and spoke to donors, exhibit organizers and patrons.

The USI art gallery celebrated the Thursday opening with its display of Warhol’s Polaroids, gelatin silver prints and several colored screen prints. USI’s exhibit, which is located in Evansville, Indiana, is to run from January 23 through March 9.

The McCutchan Art Center/Pace Galleries at USI bases its exhibit around roughly 100 Polaroids selected from its collection. The Polaroids were all donated by the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program, according to Kristen Wilkins, assistant professor of photography and curator of the exhibit. The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts made two donations to USI Art Collections, in 2007 and a second recently.

Kathryn Waters, director of the gallery, expressed interest in further donations from the foundation in the future.

Since 2007 the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program has seeded university art galleries throughout the United States with over 28,000 Andy Warhol photographs and other artifacts. The program takes a decentralized approach to Warhol’s photography collection and encourages university art galleries to regularly disseminate and educate audiences about Warhol’s artistic vision, especially in the area of photography.

Contents

  • 1 University exhibits
  • 2 Superstars
  • 3 Warhol’s photographic legacy
  • 4 USI exhibit
  • 5 Sources

Wikinews provides additional video, audio and photographs so our readers may learn more.

Wilkins observed that the 2007 starting date of the donation program, which is part of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, coincided with the 20th anniversary of Andy Warhol’s death in 1987. USI was not alone in receiving a donation.

K.C. Maurer, chief financial officer and treasurer at the Andy Warhol Foundation, said 500 institutions received the initial invitation and currently 190 universities have accepted one or more donations. Institutional recipients, said Mauer, are required to exhibit their donated Warhol photographs every ten years as one stipulation.

While USI is holding its exhibit, there are also Warhol Polaroid exhibits at the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York and an Edward Steichen and Andy Warhol exhibit at the Mary & Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. All have received Polaroids from the foundation.

University exhibits can reach out and attract large audiences. For example, the Weatherspoon Art Museum at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro saw attendance levels reach 11,000 visitors when it exhibited its Warhol collection in 2010, according to curator Elaine Gustafon. That exhibit was part of a collaboration combining the collections from Duke University, located in Durham, North Carolina, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which also were recipients of donated items from the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program.

Each collection donated by the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program holds Polaroids of well-known celebrities. The successful UNC Greensboro exhibit included Polaroids of author Truman Capote and singer-songwriter Carly Simon.

“I think America’s obsession with celebrity culture is as strong today as it was when Warhol was living”, said Gustafon. “People are still intrigued by how stars live, dress and socialize, since it is so different from most people’s every day lives.”

Wilkins explained Warhol’s obsession with celebrities began when he first collected head shots as a kid and continued as a passion throughout his life. “He’s hanging out with the celebrities, and has kind of become the same sort of celebrity he was interested in documenting earlier in his career”, Wilkins said.

The exhibit at USI includes Polaroids of actor Dennis Hopper; musician Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran; publishers Jann Wenner of Rolling Stone Magazine and Carlo De Benedetti of Italy’s la Repubblica; disco club owner Steve Rubell of Studio 54; photographers Nat Finkelstein, Christopher Makos and Felice Quinto; and athletes Vitas Gerulaitis (tennis) and Jack Nicklaus (golf).

Wikinews observed the USI exhibit identifies and features Polaroids of fashion designer Halston, a former resident of Evansville.

University collections across the United States also include Polaroids of “unknowns” who have not yet had their fifteen minutes of fame. Cynthia Thompson, curator and director of exhibits at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, said, “These images serve as documentation of people in his every day life and art — one which many of us enjoy a glimpse into.”

Warhol was close to important touchstones of the 1960s, including art, music, consumer culture, fashion, and celebrity worship, which were all buzzwords and images Wikinews observed at USI’s opening exhibit.

He was also an influential figure in the pop art movement. “Pop art was about what popular American culture really thought was important”, Kathryn Waters said. “That’s why he did the Campbell Soup cans or the Marilyn pictures, these iconic products of American culture whether they be in film, video or actually products we consumed. So even back in the sixties, he was very aware of this part of our culture. Which as we all know in 2014, has only increased probably a thousand fold.”

“I think everybody knows Andy Warhol’s name, even non-art people, that’s a name they might know because he was such a personality”, Water said.

Hilary Braysmith, USI associate professor of art history, said, “I think his photography is equally influential as his graphic works, his more famous pictures of Marilyn. In terms of the evolution of photography and experimentation, like painting on them or the celebrity fascination, I think he was really ground-breaking in that regard.”

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The Polaroid format is not what made Warhol famous, however, he is in the company of other well-known photographers who used the camera, such as Ansel Adams, Chuck Close, Walker Evans, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Helmut Newton.

Wilkins said, “[Warhol] liked the way photo booths and the Polaroid’s front flash looked”. She explained how Warhol’s adoption of the Polaroid camera revealed his process. According to Wilkins, Warhol was able to reproduce the Polaroid photograph and create an enlargement of it, which he then could use to commit the image to the silk screen medium by applying paint or manipulating them further. One of the silk screens exhibited at USI this time was the Annie Oakley screen print called “Cowboys and Indians” from 1987.

Wilkins also said Warhol was both an artist and a businessperson. “As a way to commercialize his work, he would make a blue Marilyn and a pink Marilyn and a yellow Marilyn, and then you could pick your favorite color and buy that. It was a very practical salesman approach to his work. He was very prolific but very business minded about that.”

“He wanted to be rich and famous and he made lots of choices to go that way”, Wilkins said.

It’s Warhol. He is a legend.

Kiara Perkins, a second year USI art major, admitted she was willing to skip class Thursday night to attend the opening exhibit but then circumstances allowed for her to attend the exhibit. Why did she so badly want to attend? “It’s Warhol. He is a legend.”

For Kevin Allton, a USI instructor in English, Warhol was also a legend. He said, “Andy Warhol was the center of the Zeitgeist for the 20th century and everything since. He is a post-modern diety.”

Allton said he had only seen the Silver Clouds installation before in film. The Silver Clouds installation were silver balloons blown up with helium, and those balloons filled one of the smaller rooms in the gallery. “I thought that in real life it was really kind of magical,” Allton said. “I smacked them around.”

Elements of the Zeitgeist were also playfully recreated on USI’s opening night. In her opening remarks for attendees, Waters pointed out those features to attendees, noting the touches of the Warhol Factory, or the studio where he worked, that were present around them. She pointed to the refreshment table with Campbell’s Soup served with “electric” Kool Aid and tables adorned with colorful gumball “pills”. The music in the background was from such bands as The Velvet Underground.

The big hit of the evening, Wikinews observed from the long line, was the Polaroid-room where attendees could wear a Warhol-like wig or don crazy glasses and have their own Polaroid taken. The Polaroids were ready in an instant and immediately displayed at the entry of the exhibit. Exhibit goers then became part of the very exhibit they had wanted to attend. In fact, many people Wikinews observed took out their mobiles as they left for the evening and used their own phone cameras to make one further record of the moment — a photo of a photo. Perhaps they had learned an important lesson from the Warhol exhibit that cultural events like these were ripe for use and reuse. We might even call these exit instant snap shots, the self selfie.

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Children enjoy interacting with the “Silver Clouds” at the Andy Warhol exhibit. Image: Snbehnke.

Kathryn Waters opens the Andy Warhol exhibit at USI. Image: Snbehnke.

At the Andy Warhol exhibit, hosts document all the names of attendees who have a sitting at the Polaroid booth. Image: Snbehnke.

Curator Kristin Wilkins shares with attendees the story behind his famous Polaroids. Image: Snbehnke.

A table decoration at the exhibit where the “pills” were represented by bubble gum. Image: Snbehnke.

Two women pose to get their picture taken with a Polaroid camera. Their instant pics will be hung on the wall. Image: Snbehnke.

Even adults enjoyed the “Silver Clouds” installation at the Andy Warhol exhibit at USI. Image: Snbehnke.

Many people from the area enjoyed Andy Warhol’s famous works at the exhibit at USI. Image: Snbehnke.

Katie Waters talks with a couple in the Silver Clouds area. Image: Snbehnke.

Many people showed up to the new Andy Warhol exhibit, which opened at USI. Image: Snbehnke.

At the exhibit there was food and beverages inspired to look like the 1960s. Image: Snbehnke.

A woman has the giggles while getting her Polaroid taken. Image: Snbehnke.

A man poses to get his picture taken by a Polaroid camera, with a white wig and a pair of sunglasses. Image: Snbehnke.

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Finished product of the Polaroid camera film of many people wanting to dress up and celebrate Andy Warhol. Image: Snbehnke.

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News briefs:June 7, 2006

The time is 17:00 (UTC) on June 7th, 2006, and this is Audio Wikinews News Briefs.

Contents

  • 1 Headlines
    • 1.1 11,000 evacuated in Indonesia as Mount Merapi threatens to erupt
    • 1.2 Gunmen Seize 50 in Iraq
    • 1.3 U.S. Senate defeats bill banning gay marriage
    • 1.4 Australian PM announces nuclear taskforce
    • 1.5 EPA block massive West Australian energy project
    • 1.6 “Ten Commandments” judge loses Alabama gubernatorial primary
    • 1.7 20 percent of Victorians drive on worn tyres
    • 1.8 Body found in the Christchurch, New Zealand Avon River
    • 1.9 Real body found at mock crime scene in Florida
    • 1.10 Raw Audio starts Australia’s first regular live webcast
  • 2 Closing statements

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Doctor robbed, car-jacked and locked in boot while car set alight

Monday, March 19, 2007

A 34 year old obstetrician from Forestville on Sydney’s Northern Beaches has escaped after he was robbed, car-jacked and locked in the boot (trunk) of his BMW, which was set alight. Police say the doctor was locked in the boot while his car was set alight, but was allowed to escape before flames engulfed the vehicle.

The Doctor was believed to have been heading to The Mater Hospital in North Sydney when he was waiting at the intersection of West and Falcon Streets in Chatswood around 3:15AM AEDT when a small red sedan with two men claiming to be police officers signalled him to stop. After crossing the intersection, the doctor stopped his car at the side of the road.

The doctor was then approached by the two men and when he asked to see identification, one man grabbed the keys from his car’s ignition before they both pulled the doctor out of his vehicle, hit him in the stomach with a hammer and stole his mobile phone and wallet. The robbers also demanded his key and credit cards along with their access codes before locking him in the boot.

Police allege that the men drove to several locations to withdraw cash and buy things before driving to Carisbook Street in Linley Point at around 4 a.m. local time where they set the car alight with the doctor still in the boot.

Crime Manager of the Harbourside Local Area Command, Detective Inspector Houlahan said that the doctor then “heard a click in the boot area and he heard someone call out: ‘Get out of the car'”

“When he pushed the boot up he found his car engulfed in flames.”

Det. Insp. Houlahan said the doctor told police he did not unlock the boot himself, and it appeared the man’s captors unlocked it before fleeing.

Det Insp Houlahan said that the doctor appeared to be “very distraught” and tired after the ordeal, and wanted to get home and see his wife and two young daughters.

He could only provide police with a vague description of his captors, but said the men were both Caucasian males aged in their 20s, and that one of them was about six feet tall (183cm) with short blond hair and medium build said Det. Insp. Houlahan.

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Fire breaks out at Chester Zoo, England

Monday, December 17, 2018

A fire occurred on Saturday at Chester Zoo in Cheshire, UK, in a building the zoo says is the largest indoor zoological exhibit in the UK, at 11:30 a.m. local time (UTC). The only injury reported was a case of smoke inhalation. Some of the animals living there died.

Chester Zoo opened in the early 1930s. It is now home to around 21 thousand animals from 500 species. Nearly two million people annually visit Chester Zoo, reportedly the largest annual draw of any zoo in the UK not in London. However, the fire caused it to shut down on Saturday.

The monsoon forest habitat, where the fire occurred, housed, amongst other creatures, crocodiles, orangutans, macaques, and birds. In an attempt to replicate the conditions of South East Asia, it was kept at a temperature of 26.6°C (about 80°F). Reports passed on by witnesses indicated zoo personnel evaluated at least 40 animals from the area. The zoo reopened on Sunday.

Although all the mammals reportedly survived, some of the frogs, insects, and small birds housed there died. The fire spread very quickly and strong winds helped the fire spread so fast. Reports suggested the fire was caused by an electrical fault.

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Interview with Brazilian blogger Ricardo Serran Lobo

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Ricardo Serran Lobo is a Brazilian blogger who writes about his famous neighbor, the politician Roberto Jefferson, head of the Brazilian Labor Party in the Brazilian Congress of Deputies. Jefferson has become a major figure in the ongoing Brazilian mensalão scandal revolving around corruption and bribery.

Vizinho do Jefferson [1] quickly became very popular among Brazilians, describing the routine of Jefferson, while providing information about politics and fresh news about the scandal. Lobo’s blog got third place in the Best Of Blogs contest run by Deutsche Welle International.

Lobo gets an intimate look at the center of Brazilian politics by living in Brasilia, near residences of parliamentarians (including Roberto Jefferson), public buildings and the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies. Or, as he says in his blog: “near the eye of the hurricane,” a reference to the recent political crisis.

At first, Lobo began describing the daily activities of his famous neighbor deputy Roberto Jefferson. As the crisis moved on, he began to describe the political events regarding it. His writings evolved to not only what is going on with Jefferson, but what is going on in Brazilian Congress, and has interviewed politicians, including Roberto Jefferson himself.

The blog tries to be informative, with a lot of humour (common with Brazilians), and some protests against the bad habits of Brazilian politics in general.

Jefferson’s neighbor, the blog, is an example of citizen journalism and it shows that ordinary people can compete with professional media.

Contents

  • 1 Interview
    • 1.1 Personal questions
    • 1.2 The blog
    • 1.3 Journalism
    • 1.4 Brazilian politics in general
    • 1.5 The scandal
    • 1.6 Popular reaction
    • 1.7 Roberto Jefferson
    • 1.8 Final remarks
  • 2 External page