Thousands rally in Columbus, Ohio, for undocumented immigrants’ rights

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

On March 26, thousands rallied outside the Columbus, Ohio statehouse, advocating rights for undocumented immigrants. This was one of a series of rallies following one in Los Angeles, which was reported to have drawn over 500,000 attendees.

The sponsoring coalition included the Immigrant Worker Project, the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC), UFCW Local 880, MIGUATE (of [Dover, Ohio]), and the Red [network] de Inmigrantes de Ohio. Organizers wanted to raise awareness of bill pending in the US Senate, HR 4437, which would make it a felony to be an illegal alien, or to assist aliens in entering or staying the country illegally. Organizers also called for “true” immigration reform plan that would provide a path to citizenship for all immigrant workers.


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John Vanderslice plays New York City: Wikinews interview

Thursday, September 27, 2007

John Vanderslice has recently learned to enjoy America again. The singer-songwriter, who National Public Radio called “one of the most imaginative, prolific and consistently rewarding artists making music today,” found it through an unlikely source: his French girlfriend. “For the first time in my life I wouldn’t say I was defending the country but I was in this very strange position…”

Since breaking off from San Francisco local legends, mk Ultra, Vanderslice has produced six critically-acclaimed albums. His most recent, Emerald City, was released July 24th. Titled after the nickname given to the American-occupied Green Zone in Baghdad, it chronicles a world on the verge of imminent collapse under the weight of its own paranoia and loneliness. David Shankbone recently went to the Bowery Ballroom and spoke with Vanderslice about music, photography, touring and what makes a depressed liberal angry.

DS: How is the tour going?

JV: Great! I was just on the Wiki page for Inland Empire, and there is a great synopsis on the film. What’s on there is the best thing I have read about that film. The tour has been great. The thing with touring: say you are on vacation…let’s say you are doing an intense vacation. I went to Thailand alone, and there’s a part of you that just wants to go home. I don’t know what it is. I like to be home, but on tour there is a free floating anxiety that says: Go Home. Go Home.

DS: Anywhere, or just outside of the country?

JV: Anywhere. I want to be home in San Francisco, and I really do love being on tour, but there is almost like a homing beacon inside of me that is beeping and it creates a certain amount of anxiety.

DS: I can relate: You and I have moved around a lot, and we have a lot in common. Pranks, for one. David Bowie is another.

JV: Yeah, I saw that you like David Bowie on your MySpace.

DS: When I was in college I listened to him nonstop. Do you have a favorite album of his?

JV: I loved all the things from early to late seventies. Hunky Dory to Low to “Heroes” to Lodger. Low changed my life. The second I got was Hunky Dory, and the third was Diamond Dogs, which is a very underrated album. Then I got Ziggy Stardust and I was like, wow, this is important…this means something. There was tons of music I discovered in the seventh and eighth grade that I discovered, but I don’t love, respect and relate to it as much as I do Bowie. Especially Low…I was just on a panel with Steve Albini about how it has had a lot of impact.

DS: You said seventh and eighth grade. Were you always listening to people like Bowie or bands like the Velvets, or did you have an Eddie Murphy My Girl Wants to Party All the Time phase?

JV: The thing for me that was the uncool music, I had an older brother who was really into prog music, so it was like Gentle Giant and Yes and King Crimson and Genesis. All the new Genesis that was happening at the time was mind-blowing. Phil Collins‘s solo record…we had every single solo record, like the Mike Rutherford solo record.

DS: Do you shun that music now or is it still a part of you?

JV: Oh no, I appreciate all music. I’m an anti-snob. Last night when I was going to sleep I was watching Ocean’s Thirteen on my computer. It’s not like I always need to watch some super-fragmented, fucked-up art movie like Inland Empire. It’s part of how I relate to the audience. We end every night by going out into the audience and playing acoustically, directly, right in front of the audience, six inches away—that is part of my philosophy.

DS: Do you think New York or San Francisco suffers from artistic elitism more?

JV: I think because of the Internet that there is less and less elitism; everyone is into some little superstar on YouTube and everyone can now appreciate now Justin Timberlake. There is no need for factions. There is too much information, and I think the idea has broken down that some people…I mean, when was the last time you met someone who was into ska, or into punk, and they dressed the part? I don’t meet those people anymore.

DS: Everything is fusion now, like cuisine. It’s hard to find a purely French or purely Vietnamese restaurant.

JV: Exactly! When I was in high school there were factions. I remember the guys who listened to Black Flag. They looked the part! Like they were in theater.

DS: You still find some emos.

JV: Yes, I believe it. But even emo kids, compared to their older brethren, are so open-minded. I opened up for Sunny Day Real Estate and Pedro the Lion, and I did not find their fans to be the cliquish people that I feared, because I was never playing or marketed in the emo genre. I would say it’s because of the Internet.

DS: You could clearly create music that is more mainstream pop and be successful with it, but you choose a lot of very personal and political themes for your music. Are you ever tempted to put out a studio album geared toward the charts just to make some cash?

JV: I would say no. I’m definitely a capitalist, I was an econ major and I have no problem with making money, but I made a pact with myself very early on that I was only going to release music that was true to the voices and harmonic things I heard inside of me—that were honestly inside me—and I have never broken that pact. We just pulled two new songs from Emerald City because I didn’t feel they were exactly what I wanted to have on a record. Maybe I’m too stubborn or not capable of it, but I don’t think…part of the equation for me: this is a low stakes game, making indie music. Relative to the world, with the people I grew up with and where they are now and how much money they make. The money in indie music is a low stakes game from a financial perspective. So the one thing you can have as an indie artist is credibility, and when you burn your credibility, you are done, man. You can not recover from that. These years I have been true to myself, that’s all I have.

DS: Do you think Spoon burned their indie credibility for allowing their music to be used in commercials and by making more studio-oriented albums? They are one of my favorite bands, but they have come a long way from A Series of Sneaks and Girls Can Tell.

JV: They have, but no, I don’t think they’ve lost their credibility at all. I know those guys so well, and Brit and Jim are doing exactly the music they want to do. Brit owns his own studio, and they completely control their means of production, and they are very insulated by being on Merge, and I think their new album—and I bought Telephono when it came out—is as good as anything they have done.

DS: Do you think letting your music be used on commercials does not bring the credibility problem it once did? That used to be the line of demarcation–the whole Sting thing–that if you did commercials you sold out.

JV: Five years ago I would have said that it would have bothered me. It doesn’t bother me anymore. The thing is that bands have shrinking options for revenue streams, and sync deals and licensing, it’s like, man, you better be open to that idea. I remember when Spike Lee said, ‘Yeah, I did these Nike commercials, but it allowed me to do these other films that I wanted to make,’ and in some ways there is an article that Of Montreal and Spoon and other bands that have done sync deals have actually insulated themselves further from the difficulties of being a successful independent band, because they have had some income come in that have allowed them to stay put on labels where they are not being pushed around by anyone.
The ultimate problem—sort of like the only philosophical problem is suicide—the only philosophical problem is whether to be assigned to a major label because you are then going to have so much editorial input that it is probably going to really hurt what you are doing.

DS: Do you believe the only philosophical question is whether to commit suicide?

JV: Absolutely. I think the rest is internal chatter and if I logged and tried to counter the internal chatter I have inside my own brain there is no way I could match that.

DS: When you see artists like Pete Doherty or Amy Winehouse out on suicidal binges of drug use, what do you think as a musician? What do you get from what you see them go through in their personal lives and their music?

JV: The thing for me is they are profound iconic figures for me, and I don’t even know their music. I don’t know Winehouse or Doherty’s music, I just know that they are acting a very crucial, mythic part in our culture, and they might be doing it unknowingly.

DS: Glorification of drugs? The rock lifestyle?

JV: More like an out-of-control Id, completely unregulated personal relationships to the world in general. It’s not just drugs, it’s everything. It’s arguing and scratching people’s faces and driving on the wrong side of the road. Those are just the infractions that land them in jail. I think it might be unknowing, but in some ways they are beautiful figures for going that far off the deep end.

DS: As tragic figures?

JV: Yeah, as totally tragic figures. I appreciate that. I take no pleasure in saying that, but I also believe they are important. The figures that go outside—let’s say GG Allin or Penderetsky in the world of classical music—people who are so far outside of the normal boundaries of behavior and communication, it in some way enlarges the size of your landscape, and it’s beautiful. I know it sounds weird to say that, but it is.

DS: They are examples, as well. I recently covered for Wikinews the Iranian President speaking at Columbia and a student named Matt Glick told me that he supported the Iranian President speaking so that he could protest him, that if we don’t give a platform and voice for people, how can we say that they are wrong? I think it’s almost the same thing; they are beautiful as examples of how living a certain way can destroy you, and to look at them and say, “Don’t be that.”

JV: Absolutely, and let me tell you where I’m coming from. I don’t do drugs, I drink maybe three or four times a year. I don’t have any problematic relationship to drugs because there has been a history around me, like probably any musician or creative person, of just blinding array of drug abuse and problems. For me, I am a little bit of a control freak and I don’t have those issues. I just shut those doors. But I also understand and I am very sympathetic to someone who does not shut that door, but goes into that room and stays.

DS: Is it a problem for you to work with people who are using drugs?

JV: I would never work with them. It is a very selfish decision to make and usually those people are total energy vampires and they will take everything they can get from you. Again, this is all in theory…I love that stuff in theory. If Amy Winehouse was my girlfriend, I would probably not be very happy.

DS: Your latest CD is Emerald City and that is an allusion to the compound that we created in Baghdad. How has the current political client affected you in terms of your music?

JV: In some ways, both Pixel Revolt and Emerald City were born out of a recharged and re-energized position of my being….I was so beaten down after the 2000 election and after 9/11 and then the invasion of Iraq, Afghanistan; I was so depleted as a person after all that stuff happened, that I had to write my way out of it. I really had to write political songs because for me it is a way of making sense and processing what is going on. The question I’m asked all the time is do I think is a responsibility of people to write politically and I always say, My God, no. if you’re Morrissey, then you write Morrissey stuff. If you are Dan Bejar and Destroyer, then you are Dan Bejar and you are a fucking genius. Write about whatever it is you want to write about. But to get out of that hole I had to write about that.

DS: There are two times I felt deeply connected to New York City, and that was 9/11 and the re-election of George Bush. The depression of the city was palpable during both. I was in law school during the Iraq War, and then when Hurricane Katrina hit, we watched our countrymen debate the logic of rebuilding one of our most culturally significant cities, as we were funding almost without question the destruction of another country to then rebuild it, which seems less and less likely. Do you find it is difficult to enjoy living in America when you see all of these sorts of things going on, and the sort of arguments we have amongst ourselves as a people?

JV: I would say yes, absolutely, but one thing changed that was very strange: I fell in love with a French girl and the genesis of Emerald City was going through this visa process to get her into the country, which was through the State Department. In the middle of process we had her visa reviewed and everything shifted over to Homeland Security. All of my complicated feelings about this country became even more dour and complicated, because here was Homeland Security mailing me letters and all involved in my love life, and they were grilling my girlfriend in Paris and they were grilling me, and we couldn’t travel because she had a pending visa. In some strange ways the thing that changed everything was that we finally got the visa accepted and she came here. Now she is a Parisian girl, and it goes without saying that she despises America, and she would never have considered moving to America. So she moves here and is asking me almost breathlessly, How can you allow this to happen

DS: –you, John Vanderslice, how can you allow this—

JV: –Me! Yes! So for the first time in my life I wouldn’t say I was defending the country but I was in this very strange position of saying, Listen, not that many people vote and the churches run fucking everything here, man. It’s like if you take out the evangelical Christian you have basically a progressive western European country. That’s all there is to it. But these people don’t vote, poor people don’t vote, there’s a complicated equation of extreme corruption and voter fraud here, and I found myself trying to rattle of all the reasons to her why I am personally not responsible, and it put me in a very interesting position. And then Sarkozy got elected in France and I watched her go through the same horrific thing that we’ve gone through here, and Sarkozy is a nut, man. This guy is a nut.

DS: But he doesn’t compare to George Bush or Dick Cheney. He’s almost a liberal by American standards.

JV: No, because their President doesn’t have much power. It’s interesting because he is a WAPO right-wing and he was very close to Le Pen and he was a card-carrying straight-up Nazi. I view Sarkozy as somewhat of a far-right candidate, especially in the context of French politics. He is dismantling everything. It’s all changing. The school system, the remnants of the socialized medical care system. The thing is he doesn’t have the foreign policy power that Bush does. Bush and Cheney have unprecedented amounts of power, and black budgets…I mean, come on, we’re spending half a trillion dollars in Iraq, and that’s just the money accounted for.

DS: What’s the reaction to you and your music when you play off the coasts?

JV: I would say good…

DS: Have you ever been Dixiechicked?

JV: No! I want to be! I would love to be, because then that means I’m really part of some fiery debate, but I would say there’s a lot of depressed in every single town. You can say Salt Lake City, you can look at what we consider to be conservative cities, and when you play those towns, man, the kids that come out are more or less on the same page and politically active because they are fish out of water.

DS: Depression breeds apathy, and your music seems geared toward anger, trying to wake people from their apathy. Your music is not maudlin and sad, but seems to be an attempt to awaken a spirit, with a self-reflective bent.

JV: That’s the trick. I would say that honestly, when Katrina happened, I thought, “okay, this is a trick to make people so crazy and so angry that they can’t even think. If you were in a community and basically were in a more or less quasi-police state surveillance society with no accountability, where we are pouring untold billions into our infrastructure to protect outside threats against via terrorism, or whatever, and then a natural disaster happens and there is no response. There is an empty response. There is all these ships off the shore that were just out there, just waiting, and nobody came. Michael Brown. It is one of the most insane things I have ever seen in my life.

DS: Is there a feeling in San Francisco that if an earthquake struck, you all would be on your own?

JV: Yes, of course. Part of what happened in New Orleans is that it was a Catholic city, it was a city of sin, it was a black city. And San Francisco? Bush wouldn’t even visit California in the beginning because his numbers were so low. Before Schwarzenegger definitely. I’m totally afraid of the earthquake, and I think everyone is out there. America is in the worst of both worlds: a laissez-fare economy and then the Grover Norquist anti-tax, starve the government until it turns into nothing more than a Argentinian-style government where there are these super rich invisible elite who own everything and there’s no distribution of wealth and nothing that resembles the New Deal, twentieth century embracing of human rights and equality, war against poverty, all of these things. They are trying to kill all that stuff. So, in some ways, it is the worst of both worlds because they are pushing us towards that, and on the same side they have put in a Supreme Court that is so right wing and so fanatically opposed to upholding civil rights, whether it be for foreign fighters…I mean, we are going to see movement with abortion, Miranda rights and stuff that is going to come up on the Court. We’ve tortured so many people who have had no intelligence value that you have to start to look at torture as a symbolic and almost ritualized behavior; you have this…

DS: Organ failure. That’s our baseline…

JV: Yeah, and you have to wonder about how we were torturing people to do nothing more than to send the darkest signal to the world to say, Listen, we are so fucking weird that if you cross the line with us, we are going to be at war with your religion, with your government, and we are going to destroy you.

DS: I interviewed Congressman Tom Tancredo, who is running for President, and he feels we should use as a deterrent against Islam the bombing of the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

JV: You would radicalize the very few people who have not been radicalized, yet, by our actions and beliefs. We know what we’ve done out there, and we are going to paying for this for a long time. When Hezbollah was bombing Israel in that border excursion last year, the Hezbollah fighters were writing the names of battles they fought with the Jews in the Seventh Century on their helmets. This shit is never forgotten.

DS: You read a lot of the stuff that is written about you on blogs and on the Internet. Do you ever respond?

JV: No, and I would say that I read stuff that tends to be . I’ve done interviews that have been solely about film and photography. For some reason hearing myself talk about music, and maybe because I have been talking about it for so long, it’s snoozeville. Most interviews I do are very regimented and they tend to follow a certain line. I understand. If I was them, it’s a 200 word piece and I may have never played that town, in Des Moines or something. But, in general, it’s like…my band mates ask why don’t I read the weeklies when I’m in town, and Google my name. It would be really like looking yourself in the mirror. When you look at yourself in the mirror you are just error-correcting. There must be some sort of hall of mirrors thing that happens when you are completely involved in the Internet conversation about your music, and in some ways I think that I’m very innocently making music, because I don’t make music in any way that has to do with the response to that music. I don’t believe that the response to the music has anything to do with it. This is something I got from John Cage and Marcel Duchamp, I think the perception of the artwork, in some ways, has nothing to do with the artwork, and I think that is a beautiful, glorious and flattering thing to say to the perceiver, the viewer of that artwork. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at Paul Klee‘s drawings, lithographs, watercolors and paintings and when I read his diaries I’m not sure how much of a correlation there is between what his color schemes are denoting and what he is saying and what I am getting out of it. I’m not sure that it matters. Inland Empire is a great example. Lynch basically says, I don’t want to talk about it because I’m going to close doors for the viewer. It’s up to you. It’s not that it’s a riddle or a puzzle. You know how much of your own experience you are putting into the digestion of your own art. That’s not to say that that guy arranges notes in an interesting way, and sings in an interesting way and arranges words in an interesting way, but often, if someone says they really like my music, what I want to say is, That’s cool you focused your attention on that thing, but it does not make me go home and say, Wow, you’re great. My ego is not involved in it.

DS: Often people assume an artist makes an achievement, say wins a Tony or a Grammy or even a Cable Ace Award and people think the artist must feel this lasting sense of accomplishment, but it doesn’t typically happen that way, does it? Often there is some time of elation and satisfaction, but almost immediately the artist is being asked, “Okay, what’s the next thing? What’s next?” and there is an internal pressure to move beyond that achievement and not focus on it.

JV: Oh yeah, exactly. There’s a moment of relief when a mastered record gets back, and then I swear to you that ten minutes after that point I feel there are bigger fish to fry. I grew up listening to classical music, and there is something inside of me that says, Okay, I’ve made six records. Whoop-dee-doo. I grew up listening to Gustav Mahler, and I will never, ever approach what he did.

DS: Do you try?

JV: I love Mahler, but no, his music is too expansive and intellectual, and it’s realized harmonically and compositionally in a way that is five languages beyond me. And that’s okay. I’m very happy to do what I do. How can anyone be so jazzed about making a record when you are up against, shit, five thousand records a week—

DS: —but a lot of it’s crap—

JV: —a lot of it’s crap, but a lot of it is really, really good and doesn’t get the attention it deserves. A lot of it is very good. I’m shocked at some of the stuff I hear. I listen to a lot of music and I am mailed a lot of CDs, and I’m on the web all the time.

DS: I’ve done a lot of photography for Wikipedia and the genesis of it was an attempt to pin down reality, to try to understand a world that I felt had fallen out of my grasp of understanding, because I felt I had no sense of what this world was about anymore. For that, my work is very encyclopedic, and it fit well with Wikipedia. What was the reason you began investing time and effort into photography?

JV: It came from trying to making sense of touring. Touring is incredibly fast and there is so much compressed imagery that comes to you, whether it is the window in the van, or like now, when we are whisking through the Northeast in seven days. Let me tell you, I see a lot of really close people in those seven days. We move a lot, and there is a lot of input coming in. The shows are tremendous and, it is emotionally so overwhelming that you can not log it. You can not keep a file of it. It’s almost like if I take photos while I am doing this, it slows it down or stops it momentarily and orders it. It has made touring less of a blur; concretizes these times. I go back and develop the film, and when I look at the tour I remember things in a very different way. It coalesces. Let’s say I take on fucking photo in Athens, Georgia. That’s really intense. And I tend to take a photo of someone I like, or photos of people I really admire and like.

DS: What bands are working with your studio, Tiny Telephone?

JV: Death Cab for Cutie is going to come back and track their next record there. Right now there is a band called Hello Central that is in there, and they are really good. They’re from L.A. Maids of State was just in there and w:Deerhoof was just in there. Book of Knotts is coming in soon. That will be cool because I think they are going to have Beck sing on a tune. That will be really cool. There’s this band called Jordan from Paris that is starting this week.

DS: Do they approach you, or do you approach them?

JV I would say they approach me. It’s generally word of mouth. We never advertise and it’s very cheap, below market. It’s analog. There’s this self-fulfilling thing that when you’re booked, you stay booked. More bands come in, and they know about it and they keep the business going that way. But it’s totally word of mouth.
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Kim Yo Jong criticizes US-South Korean military drills

Thursday, March 18, 2021

On Monday, Kim Yo Jong, vice department director of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea and sister of the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, warned the United States and South Korea as a reaction to the joint military drills conducted by the US and South Korea.

In a statement released by the Rodong Sinmun, Kim Yo Jong said: “The peaceful spring days of three years ago are unlikely to return”. Arirang News asserted the “peaceful spring” refers to the inter-Korean meetings held in April 2018.

In her statement, Kim described ‘the south Korean authorities’ as “all born with stupidity” and “become the dumb and deaf bereft of judgment”. In response to the drills — which the North Korean government reportedly perceived as a threat — Kim expressed the possibility of closing various inter-Korean organizations like the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country and the Kumgangsan International Tourism Bureau. “We also examine the issue of dissolving the Kumgangsan International Tourism Bureau and other organizations concerned as any cooperation and exchange with the south Korean authorities antagonizing us are no longer necessary”, Kim said.

Towards the end of the statement, Kim said, “If it [the United States] wants to sleep in peace for coming four years, it had better refrain from causing a stink at its first step.”

Speaking to Arirang News, Yang Moo-Jin, the vice president for public affairs at the University of North Korean Studies, said the message indicates “the regime is willing to talk […] as long as the South [Korean authorities] show some sincerity by not raising tensions through the joint drills”. Lim Eul-chul, a professor of North Korean studies at the Kyungnam University, said the North “is reaffirming its long-held stance that there will be no talks unless sanctions against the regime are lifted”. In an interview with Arirang News, Andrei Lankov, the director of the Korea Risk Group, said the message is nothing out of the ordinary, and similar messages have been coming each spring and the contents of this message are not to be overestimated. He qualified the statement as being “business as usual” and “by the North Korean standards it’s pretty tame”.

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Amnesty Report 2006: disadvantaged pay price of war on terror

Friday, May 26, 2006

The human rights watchdog NGO Amnesty International described 2005 as a year of contradictions with signs of hope for human rights being undermined through “deception and failed promises” of “arrogant” governments. Amnesty International issues annual reports on the development of human rights issues, with detailed reports on the situation in every individual country.

At the launch of its 2006 International Report, the Secretary General for Amnesty International (AI), Irene Khan, said that a number of governments have “paralyzed international institutions and squandered public resources in pursuit of narrow security interests, sacrificed principles in the name of the ‘war on terror’ and turned a blind eye to massive human rights violations. As a result, the world has paid a heavy price, in terms of erosion of fundamental principles and in the enormous damage done to the lives and livelihoods of ordinary people”.

According to the release report, Iraq sank into a “vortex of sectarian violence in 2005.” Secretary General Khan warned: “When the powerful are too arrogant to review and reassess their strategies, the heaviest price is paid by the poor and powerless – in this case, ordinary Iraqi women, men and children.” A 2004 Lancet study estimates that 100,000 excess deaths have occurred with roughly three times as many injured since the US-led invasion in 2003.

Continuing her criticism of international bodies, Ms Khan stated that “Intermittent attention and feeble action by the United Nations and the African Union fell pathetically short of what was needed in Darfur,” referring to the conflict that a number of reports estimate has killed over 300,000 people.

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Military plane crashes in Chilean Juan Fernández Archipelago; reports say no survivors

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Four people, including Televisión Nacional de Chile (TVN) journalist Roberto Bruce Pruzzo, are confirmed dead after a Chilean military plane crashed near the Robinson Crusoe Island of the Juan Fernández Archipelago on Friday. Twenty-one people were aboard, with such figures as prominent Chilean television presenter and co-host of breakfast programme Buenos Días a Todos (Good Morning Everyone) Felipe Camiroaga Fernández, and businessman and founder of the Desafío: Levantemos Chile (Challenge: Let’s Bring Chile Up) project Felipe Cubillos.

The accident involved a CASA C-212 Aviocar aircraft. Minister of Defence Andrés Allamand said on Televisión Nacional the crash “occurred in the late [Friday] afternoon near the remote Juan Fernández archipelago. […] The scenario which we are facing is particularly adverse.” The plane tried twice tried to land at the Robinson Crusoe Island aerodrome before going missing. The Defence Ministry sent a frigate with a specialized rescue helicopter, and an aircraft to the crash site to help search for survivors on early Saturday.

Mayor of Juan Fernández Mr. Leopoldo González Charpentier reported conditions were “rough and windy,” and “aviation authorities lost communication with the plane as it approached the islands.” “We assume that there was an accident and that there are no survivors. […] Clothing, passengers’ suitcases and some sandals have been found in waters about one kilometre [0.6 mile] from the islands’ landing strip,” González stated.

“I empathise with the anguish and uncertainty the relatives the 21 passengers aboard the plane, which is presumed to have gone down, are living through at this moment. This is a very hard blow for our country,” President of Chile Sebastián Piñera said on Friday night after an emergency meeting. A TVN executive said: “We are extremely upset.”

A group of five people from Televisión Nacional de Chile‘s breakfast programme Buenos Días a Todos, including popular presenter Felipe Camiroaga, journalist Roberto Bruce, a cameraman and two producers, were travelling to the islands to film a report on the reconstruction efforts after the tsunami generated by the Chilean earthquake of February 2010 devastated Juan Fernández. Felipe Cubillos, from the Desafío Levantemos Chile project, which he founded and whose goal was to help reconstruct Chilean damaged towns after the earthquake, tweeted shortly before the plane took off from Santiago at 14:00 (17:00 UTC): “Travelling now to Juan Fernández Island with the support of our Air Force. We continue to work helping the island’s people.”

Felipe Camiroaga, 44, was born in Santiago, and began his television career in 1988 as producer of teen program Extra Jóvenes in Chilevisión; in 1992, he joined Televisión Nacional de Chile, working as co-host of Buenos Días a Todos with Jorge Hevia and Tati Penna, and in soap operas. Fourteen years later, in 2006, he began working as host on a talk show called Animal Nocturno (Nocturnal Animal), where he interviewed people such as former President Michelle Bachelet and former Miss Universe Cecilia Bolocco; between 2009 and 2010, he co-presented with Soledad Onetto the annual Viña del Mar International Song Festival. In July, and coincidentally, Camiroaga quoted Chilean poet Gonzalo Rojas, following his death: “From the air I am, like every mortal, from the great and terrible flight, and I’m here to step to the stars.” The quote is reported of being “very inspirational” to Camiroaga. Camiroaga also created popular fictional characters such as Luciano Bello, a TV presenter from Maracaibo, Venezuela, and El Washington, a poor person from the streets of Santiago. Camiroaga was nicknamed “the Falcon of Chicureo” (El Halcón de Chicureo), because he raised several falcons in his hacienda in Chicureo, Santiago Metropolitan Region.

Hundreds of Chileans gathered outside Televisión Nacional de Chile headquarters in Santiago shortly after the station reported the tragedy; people prayed and lit candles outside TVN’s gates for the lives of Camiroaga and the rest of TVN’s involved staff.

On Saturday, Chilean newspaper Las Últimas Noticias (The Last News) put on its front page a headline saying “The last flight of the Falcon” (“El último vuelo del Halcón”) which generated controversy as Camiroaga had not been declared legally dead. The newspaper shortly changed the front page on its online version, however, the print edition continued to show the controversial headline.

Four bodies were found on Saturday morning by local fishermen who are helping in the rescue; they were taken from the islands to Santiago’s Medical Legal Service (Instituto Médico Legal) for identification, arriving 19:10 local time (22:10 UTC) at the El Bosque Air Force Base. Their identities were made public at 21:30 local time (00:30 UTC) by the Minister of the Government General Secretary Andrés Chadwick: Erwin Núñez, from the Chilean air force crew; Galia Díaz, from the National Council of Culture; Roberto Bruce, journalist of TVN’s Buenos Días a Todos; and Silvia Slier, editor of Buenos Días….

An intact door, several knapsacks, including one belonging to Felipe Camiroaga, and some equipment, lead the local mayor to assume “it was clear the plane crashed.” Local councillor Felipe Paredes told Chilean media, “[t]hese persons came [to Juan Fernández] in one of the most tragic moments in my life. I lost many people of our community, many loved people, because of the [February 2010] tsunami, and they reached me out sincerely. […] I can’t wait for them to be here.” Paredes was the last person to see the airplane in-flight, since he was in a control tower in the Robinson Crusoe Aerodrome.

Defence Minister Andres Allamand said in a press conference on Saturday night that “everyone died instantly when the crash happened.” He added that, “[b]ased on observations and the search we carried out with the Air Force commander, we have reached the conclusion that the impact was such that it should have resulted in the instantaneous death of all of those who were aboard the aircraft.” “We have peace of mind that Felipe [Camiroaga] died in a place he loved,” TVN executive Mauro Valdés told El Mercurio.

Televisión Nacional released a statement on Facebook on Saturday night: “We profoundly lament to have to confirm that according to official informations given by the authorities, there are no survivors from the Casa C212 airplane that crashed in the Juan Fernández archipelago on Friday 2 September evening. Within the list of deceased passengers, there are five persons from TVN’s program Buenos Días a Todos, which has caused deep sorrow in the whole family of TVN.”

On Sunday morning, a televised mass was conducted in TVN’s headquarters; some of the attendants were former Camiroaga’s girlfriend Katherine Salozny, long-time friend Raquel Argandoña, Megavisión presenter Kike Morandé, actor Álvaro Rudolphy, TV host and producer Guillermo Muñoz, and executives from TVN. Mauricio Correa, executive director of Buenos Días a Todos said during the mass “Our colleagues died complying a mission, the public television one, the same one that sometimes isn’t understood, but that is right there.” Kike Morandé said: “The best one died, Felipe [Camiroaga].”

“Felipe [Camiroaga] was a host on the national show [Buenos Días a Todos] I was on today, playing soccer with [him] too … it’s news right now that he was in a plane crash … please pray for him […]”, Nick Vujicic, who was interviewed on Friday morning in Buenos Días a Todos by Camiroaga himself, said on Facebook. Latin celebrities such as Luis Fonsi, Rocío Marengo, Lucero, Alejandro Sanz, Residente Calle 13, and Pope Benedict XVI sent condolences to Camiroaga’s and the other twenty people’s families, TVN reported.

President Sebastián Piñera decreed two days of national mourning, on Sunday afternoon in nationwide address. “The Government has decided to decree national mourning for the days of Monday and Tuesday of the forthcoming week, as a way to express solidarity with the families of the victims, and also the pain that has arisen throughout our country,” Piñera said. He also said that “work is being done with the best technology to find the bodies of the victims,” but added that he can’t “guarantee that the search will be successful in a 100 per cent. […] We know the impact was very violent and the airframe dispersed in a wide area.” Piñera said that the causes of the accident are unknown at the moment, and added that weather conditions affected negatively the security of the airplane landing.

The body of Erwin Núñez, from the Chilean air force crew, was taken to Antofagasta after a mass was performed in Santiago in his honour on Sunday. That same day, Roberto Bruce, one of the two TVN journalists and father of two, was cremated and interrated in Parque del Recuerdo Cemetery in Santiago. “With tremendous pain we have just said goodbye to Roberto, our beloved fat [person],” TVN journalist and presenter Karen Doggenweiler said on Twitter.

One minute of silence was held at the beginning of the football match between Chile and Mexico in Barcelona, on Sunday. On that same day, three books of condolences were set up outside TVN’s headquarters.

General Maximiliano Larraechea said that “at the moment there are no news on the search,” as of Sunday 17:00 local time (20:00 UTC). However, at 18:15 local time (21:15 UTC) approximately, Commander in Chief of the Chilean Air Force Jorge Rojas told Chilevisión that mutilated bodies were found in the water; Defence Minister Allamand confirmed that the recovered bodies will be taken to the Medical Legal Service in Santiago, in order to identify them, at 18:50 local time (21:50 UTC). Allamand added that “there are fears that not all bodies will be found,” and that the plane “was disintegrated on impact with the water.”

Chilevisión reported that at least three more people, including TVN actor Francisco Reyes, and singer Keko Yunge, were originally going to travel to Juan Fernández on Friday. Reyes, however, was told to not travel because “there was no room for him” by Buenos Días a Todos producer Carolina Gatica (who remains disappeared); Reyes was going to travel because he wanted to teach Juan Fernández children “acting techniques.” Yunge, member of the Desafío: Levantemos Chile group, was asked by Felipe Cubillos to not travel, because he wanted Yunge to complete a song he was working on. “It is incredible,” Yunge told Chilevisión.

The airplane crash, according to El Mercurio, is the worst involving a military plane since December 1982 when a Fokker F-27 twin-engine travelling from Santiago to Antofagasta crashed near La Serena, killing 46 people, including journalist Silvia Pinto.

From Televisión Nacional de Chile
  • Carolina Gatica — Producer of Buenos Días a Todos
  • Felipe Camiroaga — Presenter of Buenos Días a Todos
  • Roberto Bruce — Journalist of Buenos Días a Todos; death confirmed by Minister Andrés Chadwick on Saturday 21:30 local time (Sunday 00:30 UTC)
  • Sylvia Slier — Journalist, and editor of Buenos Días a Todos; death confirmed by Minister Chadwick
  • Rodrigo Cabezón de Amesti — Cameraman
From Desafío Levantemos Chile
  • Felipe Cubillos — Businessman
  • Sebastian Correa
  • Joel Lizama
  • Catalina Vela
  • Jorge Palma
  • Joaquín Arnolds
From the National Council of Culture and the Arts
  • Galia Díaz — Death confirmed by Minister Chadwick
  • Romina Irarrázabal
From the Fuerza Aérea de Chile (Chilean air force)
  • José Cifuentes — Journalist
  • Commander Rodrigo Fernández
  • Lieutenant Carolina Fernández
  • Lieutenant Juan Pablo Mallea — Pilot of the plane
  • First Sergeant Eduardo Jones
  • First Corporal Eduardo Estrada
  • First Corporal Erwin Núñez — Death confirmed by Minister Chadwick
  • Second Corporal Flavio Olivo
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Common Mistakes Made When Hiring A Roofing Contractor

By Rich Casey

If you are in the market for a new roof, our experience can help you avoid some of the most common mistakes people make, especially those who are not experienced in purchasing roofs.

The first problem possible is practically a universal one when it comes to purchasing anything. Don’t look for the cheapest price. The general rule of thumb applies that ‘you get what you pay for’. The workmanship of a particular roofing contractor can vary widely and often the variance is applied toward the price you pay. One possible variance is the existence of workman’s compensation and liability insurance for the contractor. These are necessary and expensive items. A contractor without them will be able to propose a price well below those who do but could obviously end up costing you a whole lot more in the long run. Don’t let a contractors shortcut they take to become cheaper cost you money.

Don’t insist on hiring a company that can start right away. Any business that is so quick to respond and can start the next day almost clearly does not have enough business. A roof is a long term investment so you need to hire someone who will be around to stand behind it. Check everything you can to determine how long the companies you deal with have been in business and the strength of their financial position. Check their safety record as that is a good determinate of financial stability.

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Do not use contractors without an office staff. Make sure there are back end employees carrying out the day to day business of the company. Single man contractors working out of their home are just fine when you are doing odd or small jobs, but, again, the long term nature of a roof necessitates a larger, more stable company.

Do not purchase a roof before you are ready simply because the salesman is giving you a time sensitive price to ‘keep the crews working’ or ‘get started before winter’. Even with fluctuations in material, any reputable company will be able to hold pricing for at least thirty days to give you a fair amount of time to make an informed decision.

The warranty is an important part of every roofing project and the longer it is, the better. However, many people make the mistake of making it the only consideration when making the decision. For instance, regular maintenance is a normal part of all warranties. If a longer warranty requires twice as much annual maintenance as a shorter one, it may not be cost effective in the long run. Also, some companies require the owner of a new roof to use that specific company for regular maintenance at a higher price than normal.

The worst mistake anyone can make is having a friend do the work. Roofing is a very complicated endeavor and the consequences of failure are drastic. At best, the roof leaks and you have to pay for repairs or replacement. At worst, one the myriad of possible safety problems comes up and you have to pay liability damages.

About the Author: Rich Casey has been the owner and operator of a Florida Roofing Contractor for over 20 years. Visit the website to learn more about Florida Roof Contractor.


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Aid pledges rise; Japan promises 500,000,000 USD

Saturday, January 1, 2005

In an abrupt about-face, the world’s wealthiest nations have begun pouring funding into the Earthquake/Tsunami damaged region. Promised funds have doubled in the past 24 hours, to nearly 2 Billion U.S. dollars (USD).

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Recalled pet food found to contain rat poison

Friday, March 23, 2007

In a press release earlier today, New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker, along with Dean of Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine Donald F. Smith, confirmed that scientists at the New York State Food Laboratory identified Aminopterin as a toxin present in cat food samples from Menu Foods.

Menu Foods is the manufacturer of several brands of cat and dog food subject to a March 16, 2007 recall.

Aminopterin is a drug used in chemotherapy for its immunosuppressive properties and, in some areas outside the US, as a rat poison. Earlier reports stated that wheat gluten was a factor being investigated, and officials now state that the toxin would have come from Chinese wheat used in the pet food, where it is used for pest control. Investigators will not say that this is the only contaminant found in the recalled food, but knowing the identity of the toxin should assist veterinarians treating affected animals.

The Food Laboratory tested samples of cat food received from a toxicologist at the New York State Animal Health Diagnostic Center at Cornell University. The samples were found to contain the rodenticide at levels of at least 40 parts per million.

Commissioner Hooker stated, “We are pleased that the expertise of our New York State Food Laboratory was able to contribute to identifying the agent that caused numerous illnesses and deaths in dogs and cats across the nation.”

The press release suggests Aminopterin, a derivative of folic acid, can cause cancer and birth defects in humans and can cause kidney damage in dogs and cats. Aminopterin is not permitted for use in the United States.

The New York State Food Laboratory is part of the Federal Food Emergency Response Network (FERN) and as such, is capable of running a number of unique poison/toxin tests on food, including the test that identified Aminopterin.

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New Jersey jury clears man of five murders over 1978 teens’ disappearance

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A jury in New Jersey yesterday acquitted a Newark man of murdering five teens who vanished in the city in 1978. The prosecution had contended Lee Anthony Evans trapped the boys in an empty house before burning it down.

Alvin Turner, 16; Melvin Pittman, 17; Randy Johnson, 16; Ernest Taylor, 17; and Michael McDowell, 16 disappeared on August 20, 1978. Recently homicide detectives got involved and in March last year they arrested Evans and his co-accused Philander Hampton. Hampton, Evans’s cousin, had told police in 2008 that the pair were behind the teens’ deaths and, although witnesses placed the boys in Evans’s pickup truck, his testimony alone linked Evans to the mystery.

Evans represented himself through the majority of the case, although he did get his court-appointed lawyer, Olubukola Adetula, to take control of much of the trial’s latter stages. The case has been on trial since October 28. It was Adetula who cross-examined Hampton.

The defense noted the poor record of drug dealer and user Hampton, who has spent time in jail for crimes including theft. He confessed in a plea deal that sees him sentenced to ten years in prison in exchange for his testimony, but will be eligible for parole within months as he has already served most of the two years required by 1978 guidelines.

It’s like someone put you in the oven and burned you up. You can’t undo that.

Hampton testified Evans, who is now 58, burned the quintet alive in revenge after discovering they had broken into his property and stolen a pound of cannabis. Evans often offered odd jobs to the teens and Hampton said Evans brought the youths in two trips to the vacant Camden Street house on the pretense of helping move boxes.

Hampton, who is set to be paid $15,000 by the state to assist his relocation for his safety, testified he acted as a guard for the first two youngsters whilst Evans brought the second group; he claimed to have believed all that was planned was a stunt to scare the five. He further told the court that Evans imprisoned all five in a cupboard sealed by a solitary nail, pouring gasoline (petrol) onto the building’s floors. Hampton said he gave Evans a match, who then set the house alight.

Other witnesses described seeing the boys in the back of Evans’s truck, and friends of the missing told the court the five had previously broken into Evans’s home to steal the drug. All five had small quantities of cannabis in their rooms when they vanished. However, testimony was inconsistent; the time of the final drug theft was in dispute, and Evans made a point of inconsistencies in testimony about the last known sightings of the boys, claiming accounts of them in his vehicle had changed over time.

The house in question was destroyed by fire. Specially trained dogs and sonar equipment both failed to show any trace of bodies at the site and the defense pointed out police searched a second site, which they said implied Hampton’s account was not fully believed. It took thirteen hours of questioning before Hampton volunteered his claims, and police spent a year attempting to find evidence to reinforce them without success.

The jury has been deciding its verdict since Friday and spent roughly twelve hours deliberating. Victims’ relatives wept as the foreman read out the verdicts, and Michael McDowell’s sister Terry Lawson insisted “not guilty does not mean innocent. Mr. Evans may have escaped the law but never the lord.” She nonetheless expressed gratitude the case went to trial. Multiple family members, including Lawson, have previously expressed confidence Evans killed their loved ones.

Evans sobbed after leaving court, after asking Judge Patricia K. Costello to tell him “You’re dismissed”. “Man, you won,” a friend told him, but Evans said he did not feel a winner although he was glad of the result. “That was the jury that wasn’t the people… It’s like someone put you in the oven and burned you up. You can’t undo that.”

He went on to claim Essex County officials and Newark mayor Cory Booker engaged in a corrupt conspiracy against him, with Brooker using the arrests to aid his re-election campaign; Evans claims the timing was no coincidence. Brooker denies the allegations. Evans contends he should never have been prosecuted.

Costello has promised to later deal with what she called “astonishing” behavior by assistant prosecutor Peter Guarino. Retrials were twice sought by the defense and denied; once, he asked a witness if they knew of an unrelated murder by the accused’s late brother. The other time a police officer appearing for Guarino as a witness mentioned a statement that two men were seen fleeing the fire; Costello had already said this was inadmissible evidence because the person behind the claim had since died. These incidents led to discussions without the jury present.

“[W]e are of course disappointed in the verdict, but respect the jury’s process,” said Essex County Acting Prosecutor Carolyn Murray. To answer a press question, she added “with respect to this case criminally, this case is closed.”

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