PostHeaderIcon
Fictional documentary about Flemish independence causes consternation in Belgium

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Belgian French-speaking public television channel RTBF interrupted its programming last night for a special news bulletin reporting that the Flemish Parliament had suddenly created an independent Flemish state separate from Belgium. However, during the broadcast it became clear that the report was actually a documentary meant to stir up the debate on the position of the states and regions in the federal country Belgium. Walloon Minister of Media Fadila Laanan said that the message “this is fiction” appeared only at her request, after she had received several “panic” calls and text messages.

During the report, King Albert II of Belgium was alleged to have left the country to show his disagreement with the unilateral Flemish decision. Several politicians (Jean-Marie Dedecker, Jean-Marie Happart, Herman De Croo etc.) contributed in the making of the program, giving their reaction to the news and explaining some of their views on Flemish independence. There were images of thousands celebrating in Antwerp and flag-waving independence supporters in front of the Royal Palace in Laken, but also trams stuck at the “new border”, and traffic jams in the direction of Brussels Airport. After a while more comedy entered the report; two Flemish policemen where shown to be called into action to patrol the border, and Guy Vanhengel (VLD) was interviewed inside the Atomium, the monument symbolic of Belgium, where he spoke of a “monumental” mistake. The report was followed by a debate on the subject of the Flemish independence movement.

The head of news at RTBF reacted: “We obviously scared many people – maybe more than we expected,” and this was indeed the case. A spokesman of Belgian Prime Minister Verhofstadt stated late last night that the newspaper Le Monde had already called them, and that CNBC already thought it was not fictional. Several embassies reported the news to their countries, and a Belgian representative in the European Parliament reported “consternation”. A survey by the RTBF shows that 89% of spectators admit being fooled by the report, with even 6% continuing to believe it after the fiction notice appeared.

Leaders on both sides of the country spelled out their appall: Elio Di Rupo said it is “…unacceptable to play with the institutions and the stability of the country.”, while Yves Leterme, Minister-President of the Flemish government, regretted that some of the Flemish demands were caricatured. Pro-independence politicians such as Filip Dewinter and Bart De Wever didn’t hide their approval of the fake news report. Several politicians have criticized the method used by the RTBF, and expect that this will reflect badly on the credibility and reputation of the channel. The usual RTBF news studio and anchorman were used to make the fictional report.

The incident is headline news in Belgium. The report comes at a time of a growing discussion on the topic of granting Flanders more independence from Belgium, one year before the elections in Belgium. Only last week, the pro-Flemish political parties CD&V and NVA announced that they would demand a major constitutional change during the next federal negotiations.

PostHeaderIcon
ACLU President Strossen on religion, drugs, guns and impeaching George Bush

Tuesday, October 30, 2007File:Nadine Strossen 5 by David Shankbone.jpg

There are few organizations in the United States that elicit a stronger emotional response than the American Civil Liberties Union, whose stated goal is “to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States”. Those people include gays, Nazis, women seeking abortion, gun owners, SPAM mailers and drug users. People who are often not popular with various segments of the public. The ACLU’s philosophy is not that it agrees or disagrees with any of these people and the choices that they make, but that they have personal liberties that must not be trampled upon.

In Wikinews reporter David Shankbone’s interview with the President of the ACLU, Nadine Strossen, he wanted to cover some basic ground on the ACLU’s beliefs. Perhaps the area where they are most misunderstood or have their beliefs most misrepresented is their feelings about religion in the public sphere. The ACLU categorically does not want to see religion disappear from schools or in the public forum; but they do not want to see government advocacy of any particular religion. Thus, former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore’s placement of a ten ton monument to the Ten Commandments outside the courthouse is strenuously opposed; but “Lone Ranger of the Manger” Rita Warren’s placement of nativity scenes in public parks is vigorously defended. In the interview, Strossen talks about how certain politicians and televangelists purposefully misstate the law and the ACLU’s work in order to raise funds for their campaigns.

David Shankbone’s discussion with Strossen touches upon many of the ACLU’s hot button issues: religion, Second Amendment rights, drug liberalization, “partial-birth abortion” and whether or not George W. Bush should be impeached. It may surprise the reader that many ideas people have about the most visible of America’s civil libertarian organizations are not factually correct and that the ACLU often works closely with many of the organizations people think despise its existence.

Contents

  • 1 Strossen’s background
  • 2 Religion in schools
  • 3 Religious symbols
  • 4 How the ACLU is misrepresented by politicians and televangelists
  • 5 The abortion debate
  • 6 Judicial activism
  • 7 Capital punishment and criminal justice
  • 8 Decriminalization of drugs and suicide
  • 9 War and threats to humanity
  • 10 Should George Bush be impeached?
  • 11 Gun rights
  • 12 Strossen’s philosophy
  • 13 Sources

PostHeaderIcon
John Reed on Orwell, God, self-destruction and the future of writing

Thursday, October 18, 2007

It can be difficult to be John Reed.

Christopher Hitchens called him a “Bin Ladenist” and Cathy Young editorialized in The Boston Globe that he “blames the victims of terrorism” when he puts out a novel like Snowball’s Chance, a biting send-up of George Orwell‘s Animal Farm which he was inspired to write after the terrorist attacks on September 11. “The clear references to 9/11 in the apocalyptic ending can only bring Orwell’s name into disrepute in the U.S.,” wrote William Hamilton, the British literary executor of the Orwell estate. That process had already begun: it was revealed Orwell gave the British Foreign Office a list of people he suspected of being “crypto-Communists and fellow travelers,” labeling some of them as Jews and homosexuals. “I really wanted to explode that book,” Reed told The New York Times. “I wanted to completely undermine it.”

Is this man who wants to blow up the classic literary canon taught to children in schools a menace, or a messiah? David Shankbone went to interview him for Wikinews and found that, as often is the case, the answer lies somewhere in the middle.

Reed is electrified by the changes that surround him that channel through a lens of inspiration wrought by his children. “The kids have made me a better writer,” Reed said. In his new untitled work, which he calls a “new play by William Shakespeare,” he takes lines from The Bard‘s classics to form an original tragedy. He began it in 2003, but only with the birth of his children could he finish it. “I didn’t understand the characters who had children. I didn’t really understand them. And once I had had kids, I could approach them differently.”

Taking the old to make it new is a theme in his work and in his world view. Reed foresees new narrative forms being born, Biblical epics that will be played out across print and electronic mediums. He is pulled forward by revolutions of the past, a search for a spiritual sensibility, and a desire to locate himself in the process.

Below is David Shankbone’s conversation with novelist John Reed.

Contents

  • 1 On the alternative media and independent publishing
  • 2 On Christopher Hitchens, Orwell and 9/11 as inspiration
  • 3 On the future of the narrative
  • 4 On changing the literary canon
  • 5 On belief in a higher power
  • 6 On politics
  • 7 On self-destruction and survival
  • 8 On raising children
  • 9 On paedophilia and the death penalty
  • 10 On personal relationships
  • 11 Sources
  • 12 External links

PostHeaderIcon
US reveals Nazi war criminal’s location was known two years before his capture

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

The 27,000-pages of documents released on Tuesday reveal that while the United States and West Germany knew the location of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann two years before his capture, the fact was kept secret. The documents were declassified as part of the Nazi War Criminals Disclosure Act of 1998.

West German Intelligence informed the US in March 1958 of the whereabouts of the senior Gestapo officer, who was living under the alias “Clemens” in Argentina where he had arrived seven years earlier.

It was not US policy at the time to go after Nazi criminals since they were still recruited for Cold War operations.

“It now appears that West Germany could have captured him in 1958, if it wished to,” said University of Virginia historian Timothy Naftali. He also said that CIA helped West Germany at the time to suppress part of Eichmann’s diary – which was in the possession of Life magazine – that would have embarrassed West German national security adviser Hans Globke, himself a former Nazi.

Eichmann was captured by Israelis in 1960 in Argentina. He was tried in Jerusalem and received the death penalty.

PostHeaderIcon
Former ‘Top Model’ contestant Whitney Cunningham defends plus size models, celebrates the “regular woman”

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Once you get a chance to talk to West Palm Beach, Florida native Whitney Cunningham, who placed seventh on the eighth cycle of the popular reality TV series America’s Next Top Model, you begin to understand what host Tyra Banks meant when she described her as the “full package.”

First of all, she is confident and headstrong, which is a must on these kinds of shows, almost as much as it is to take a beautiful modelesque picture. Second, she turns that confidence into drive. She has been receiving steady work as a model since leaving the show, and still believes that her goal of being the first woman to wear a size ten dress on the cover of Vogue is in reach. Third, and probably most important to television viewers, she obliterates the age-old model stereotype that to be pretty and photograph well, one must also be vapid and without a thought. A graduate of Dartmouth College, Cunningham also dreams of becoming a writer, and is working toward dual goals: a model who can express herself like no other model before her.

Cunningham recently sat down with Wikinews reporter Mike Halterman in an impassioned interview, taking hours to field questions from the reporter as well as from fans of America’s Next Top Model. Always in high spirits, Cunningham shows that she is a distinct personality who has carved her own niche in the Top Model history books. At the same time, she exhibits a joie de vivre that is oddly reminiscent of earlier Top Model fan favorite Toccara Jones, who showed America just how to be “big, black, beautiful and loving it.” However, Cunningham is quick to remind everyone that she isn’t big at all; she is simply a regular woman.

This is the first in a series of interviews with America’s Next Top Model contestants. Interviews will be published sporadically.

Contents

  • 1 Whitney’s beginnings, and looking back
  • 2 Impact Top Model has on society
  • 3 Whitney’s views on production and editing
  • 4 Whitney takes more fan questions
  • 5 Where Whitney is today
  • 6 Source

PostHeaderIcon
Wikinews interviews Joe Schriner, Independent U.S. presidential candidate

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Journalist, counselor, painter, and US 2012 Presidential candidate Joe Schriner of Cleveland, Ohio took some time to discuss his campaign with Wikinews in an interview.

Schriner previously ran for president in 2000, 2004, and 2008, but failed to gain much traction in the races. He announced his candidacy for the 2012 race immediately following the 2008 election. Schriner refers to himself as the “Average Joe” candidate, and advocates a pro-life and pro-environmentalist platform. He has been the subject of numerous newspaper articles, and has published public policy papers exploring solutions to American issues.

Wikinews reporter William Saturn? talks with Schriner and discusses his campaign.

PostHeaderIcon
Wikinews interviews 0 A.D. game development team

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

0 A.D. is a historical, open source, strategy game, published by Wildfire Games. It focuses on the period between 500BC and 500AD. The game will be released in two parts: the first covering the pre-AD period, and the second running to 500AD. With development well underway, Wikinews interviewed the development team.

Aviv Sharon, a 24-year-old Israeli student responsible for the project’s PR, compiled the below Q&A, which the full team approved prior to publication.

PostHeaderIcon
Obama lessens US ban on offshore drilling

Thursday, April 1, 2010

US President Barack Obama has announced that he will ease the country’s ban on offshore oil drilling, which has been in place since the 1980s.

According to the plan, offshore drilling would now be allowed in parts of the Atlantic, from Delaware down to 125 miles beyond the shoreline of Florida, in the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

The move, however, does have some restrictions; drilling further northeast or along the West Coast is still prohibited. Contracts in Bristol Bay, Alaska were also suggested, but were scrapped due to environmental concerns.

The president remarked that he decided the move was needed to lessen the country’s need for additional energy, adding that he had studied the issue for over a year. “This is not a decision that I’ve made lightly,” he said.

“We’re announcing the expansion of offshore oil and gas exploration but in ways that balance the need to harness domestic energy resources and the need to protect America’s natural resources,” Obama continued, speaking at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. “My administration will consider potential new areas for development in the mid and south Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico.”

“Drilling alone can’t come close to meeting our long-term energy needs, and for the sake of our planet and our energy independence, we need to begin the transition to cleaner fuels now. I know that we can come together to pass comprehensive energy and climate legislation that’s going to foster new energy — new industries, create millions of new jobs, protect our planet, and help us become more energy independent.”

Obama said that the plan was partially intended to garner support from Republicans in Congress for a climate-change bill to lower greenhouse gas emissions, which has been languishing for months due to lack of support from Republicans.

Some environmental groups, however, condemned Obama’s move. Phil Radford, who is with the Greenpeace group, said that “[e]xpanding offshore drilling in areas that have been protected for decades threatens our oceans and the coastal communities that depend on them with devastating oil spills, more pollution and climate change.” Greenpeace also said that lifting the ban fuelled the US’ “addiction to oil”.

HAVE YOUR SAY
Do you agree with Obama’s plan?
Add or view comments

Republican leader for the House of Representatives John Boehner, meanwhile, said he agreed with lifting the ban in the Atlantic, but remarked that it “makes no sense” not to have lifted it in other areas as well. “Opening up areas off the Virginia coast to offshore production is a positive step, but keeping much of the Pacific Coast and Alaska, as well as the most promising resources off the Gulf of Mexico, under lock and key makes no sense at a time when gasoline prices are rising and Americans are asking ‘Where are the jobs?'”, he said.

“Today’s announcement is a step in the right direction, but a small one that leaves enormous amounts of American energy off limits,” said the Senate Minority leader, Republican Mitch McConnell.

According to the US Minerals Management Service, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and parts of the Atlantic south and east of the continent could contain up to 5.8 billion barrels of oil and 40.5 trillion cubic feet of gas. The West Coast, meanwhile, which remains off limits for drilling, contains 10.5 billion barrels of oil with 18 trillion cubic feet of gas.

PostHeaderIcon
Colleges offering admission to displaced New Orleans students/OH-WY

See the discussion page for instructions on adding schools to this list and for an alphabetically arranged listing of schools.

Due to the damage by Hurricane Katrina and subsequent flooding, a number of colleges and universities in the New Orleans metropolitan area will not be able to hold classes for the fall 2005 semester. It is estimated that 75,000 to 100,000 students have been displaced. [1]. In response, institutions across the United States and Canada are offering late registration for displaced students so that their academic progress is not unduly delayed. Some are offering free or reduced admission to displaced students. At some universities, especially state universities, this offer is limited to residents of the area.

Contents

  • 1 Overview
  • 2 Ohio
  • 3 Oklahoma
  • 4 Oregon
  • 5 Pennsylvania
  • 6 Rhode Island
  • 7 South Carolina
  • 8 South Dakota
  • 9 Tennessee
  • 10 Texas
  • 11 Utah
  • 12 Vermont
  • 13 Virginia
  • 14 Washington
  • 15 West Virginia
  • 16 Wisconsin
  • 17 Wyoming

PostHeaderIcon
‘Daybreak’ launches on ITV in UK

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Daybreak, a new breakfast show on ITV in the United Kingdom, launched on Monday at 0600 BST (0500 UTC). The show was hosted by Christine Bleakley and Adrian Chiles, both of whom previously presented The One Show on BBC One.

Opening the broadcast, Bleakley commented: “Dawn is happening, day is breaking behind us here, it’s a beautiful thing here behind us in the studio.” Chiles then commented: “The sun is up and thank goodness. We spent good money bringing you this view […] at least you can see it. Thank goodness for that.” On the website for The Guardian, Stuart Heritage stated that “[a]lthough it does seem like a continuation of GMTV rather than a bold reinvention, some of the new aspects of Daybreak have worked. Adrian and Christine have done reasonably well and the other new faces all seem like good additions.” The set for the programme features two purple sofas with a large round desk in between the sofas and a skyline of London in a backdrop.

The new programme was followed at 0830 BST (0730 UTC) by another new programme, entitled Lorraine — hosted by Lorraine Kelly — which was broadcast until 0925 BST (0825 UTC). Kelly stressed: “I’ve really missed you. I hope you like our new look and we’ve got a packed show for you today.” The Lorraine set contains a pink sofa, a pink armchair and a large round white desk. The two new programmes are the successors to GMTV — which had its last broadcast on Friday.

Previously, Alison Sharman, ITV Director of Factual and Daytime, explained: “Daybreak plays a key part in ITV’s ongoing transformation and reflects the fact that creative renewal lies at the heart of our schedule, which is being modernised and improved under Peter Fincham. We want to ensure that the core audience of housewives with children keep watching but are also determined to attract new viewers to our revitalised breakfast show. As we approach the next stage of this transformational journey our newly confirmed anchors — Christine and Adrian — will be the lynchpins of Daybreak with their unique and brilliant partnership.”