Volkswagen engulfed by diesel emissions scandal
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Volkswagen engulfed by diesel emissions scandal



Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Chief Executive of Volkswagen Martin Winterkorn issued on Sunday a public apology and announced an outside inquiry would be carried out, after the company became engulfed in a scandal about diesel emissions tests.

Over the weekend there were damaging revelations that the car manufacturer has been using illegal software to enable diesel cars to cheat on mandatory emissions tests.

An investigation into alleged breaches of environmental law was originally initiated on the advice of the International Council on Clean Transportation, a European NGO. The United States Environmental Protection Agency requested tests be carried out by West Virginia University, where the secret software was discovered.

Volkswagen has suffered a significant drop of almost a fifth in the value of its shares. There have been knock-on effects for other car manufacturers who have also seen their share values fall after suggestions that the scandal could extend much further than just Volkswagen.

The company will have to foot the bill for the recall of close to 500,000 VW and Audi cars. There is also the possibility of paying federal fines of up to US$18 billion dollars because the US Clean Air Act sets a maximum fine of US$37,500 for each vehicle that contravenes the requirements of the Act.

The software, known as a “defeat device”, enabled cars to identify when they were being tested and to switch on the emission control system. The devices may have been adding urea to the car exhaust because that would reduce the amount of nitrogen dioxide. The car would release a fraction of the nitrogen oxide compared to when they were being driven normally. Emissions of nitrogen oxide contribute to smog and are thought to have caused a rise in respiratory illnesses like asthma.


Wikinews wanders the Referendum-year Edinburgh Festival Fringe
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Wikinews wanders the Referendum-year Edinburgh Festival Fringe



Wednesday, August 27, 2014

With many venues reporting sell-out shows, the 68th year of the Edinburgh Festival attracted visitors from around the globe. Wikinews’ Brian McNeil roamed the city for the four weeks of the event, capturing the colour, spectacle, and comedy, in photos.

The image gallery below may take some time to load on slower connections. You may click on the first image to view the images with the new Mediawiki Media Viewer; again, full-size/full-screen images may take time to load.
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Bat for Lashes plays the Bowery Ballroom: an Interview with Natasha Khan
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Bat for Lashes plays the Bowery Ballroom: an Interview with Natasha Khan



Friday, September 28, 2007

Bat for Lashes is the doppelgänger band ego of one of the leading millennial lights in British music, Natasha Khan. Caroline Weeks, Abi Fry and Lizzy Carey comprise the aurora borealis that backs this haunting, shimmering zither and glockenspiel peacock, and the only complaint coming from the audience at the Bowery Ballroom last Tuesday was that they could not camp out all night underneath these celestial bodies.

We live in the age of the lazy tendency to categorize the work of one artist against another, and Khan has had endless exultations as the next Björk and Kate Bush; Sixousie Sioux, Stevie Nicks, Sinead O’Connor, the list goes on until it is almost meaningless as comparison does little justice to the sound and vision of the band. “I think Bat For Lashes are beyond a trend or fashion band,” said Jefferson Hack, publisher of Dazed & Confused magazine. “[Khan] has an ancient power…she is in part shamanic.” She describes her aesthetic as “powerful women with a cosmic edge” as seen in Jane Birkin, Nico and Cleopatra. And these women are being heard. “I love the harpsichord and the sexual ghost voices and bowed saws,” said Radiohead‘s Thom Yorke of the track Horse and I. “This song seems to come from the world of Grimm’s fairytales.”

Bat’s debut album, Fur And Gold, was nominated for the 2007 Mercury Prize, and they were seen as the dark horse favorite until it was announced Klaxons had won. Even Ladbrokes, the largest gambling company in the United Kingdom, had put their money on Bat for Lashes. “It was a surprise that Klaxons won,” said Khan, “but I think everyone up for the award is brilliant and would have deserved to win.”

Natasha recently spoke with David Shankbone about art, transvestism and drug use in the music business.


DS: Do you have any favorite books?

NK: [Laughs] I’m not the best about finishing books. What I usually do is I will get into a book for a period of time, and then I will dip into it and get the inspiration and transformation in my mind that I need, and then put it away and come back to it. But I have a select rotation of cool books, like Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés and Little Birds by Anaïs Nin. Recently, Catching the Big Fish by David Lynch.

DS: Lynch just came out with a movie last year called Inland Empire. I interviewed John Vanderslice last night at the Bowery Ballroom and he raved about it!

NK: I haven’t seen it yet!

DS: Do you notice a difference between playing in front of British and American audiences?

NK: The U.S. audiences are much more full of expression and noises and jubilation. They are like, “Welcome to New York, Baby!” “You’re Awesome!” and stuff like that. Whereas in England they tend to be a lot more reserved. Well, the English are, but it is such a diverse culture you will get the Spanish and Italian gay guys at the front who are going crazy. I definitely think in America they are much more open and there is more excitement, which is really cool.

DS: How many instruments do you play and, please, include the glockenspiel in that number.

NK: [Laughs] I think the number is limitless, hopefully. I try my hand at anything I can contribute; I only just picked up the bass, really—

DS: –I have a great photo of you playing the bass.

NK: I don’t think I’m very good…

DS: You look cool with it!

NK: [Laughs] Fine. The glockenspiel…piano, mainly, and also the harp. Guitar, I like playing percussion and drumming. I usually speak with all my drummers so that I write my songs with them in mind, and we’ll have bass sounds, choir sounds, and then you can multi-task with all these orchestral sounds. Through the magic medium of technology I can play all kinds of sounds, double bass and stuff.

DS: Do you design your own clothes?

NK: All four of us girls love vintage shopping and charity shops. We don’t have a stylist who tells us what to wear, it’s all very much our own natural styles coming through. And for me, personally, I like to wear jewelery. On the night of the New York show that top I was wearing was made especially for me as a gift by these New York designers called Pepper + Pistol. And there’s also my boyfriend, who is an amazing musician—

DS: —that’s Will Lemon from Moon and Moon, right? There is such good buzz about them here in New York.

NK: Yes! They have an album coming out in February and it will fucking blow your mind! I think you would love it, it’s an incredible masterpiece. It’s really exciting, I’m hoping we can do a crazy double unfolding caravan show, the Bat for Lashes album and the new Moon and Moon album: that would be really theatrical and amazing! Will prints a lot of my T-shirts because he does amazing tapestries and silkscreen printing on clothes. When we play there’s a velvety kind of tapestry on the keyboard table that he made. So I wear a lot of his things, thrift store stuff, old bits of jewelry and antique pieces.

DS: You are often compared to Björk and Kate Bush; do those constant comparisons tend to bother you as an artist who is trying to define herself on her own terms?

NK: No, I mean, I guess that in the past it bothered me, but now I just feel really confident and sure that as time goes on my musical style and my writing is taking a pace of its own, and I think in time the music will speak for itself and people will see that I’m obviously doing something different. Those women are fantastic, strong, risk-taking artists—

DS: —as are you—

NK: —thank you, and that’s a great tradition to be part of, and when I look at artists like Björk and Kate Bush, I think of them as being like older sisters that have come before; they are kind of like an amazing support network that comes with me.

DS: I’d imagine it’s preferable to be considered the next Björk or Kate Bush instead of the next Britney.

NK: [Laughs] Totally! Exactly! I mean, could you imagine—oh, no I’m not going to try to offend anyone now! [Laughs] Let’s leave it there.

DS: Does music feed your artwork, or does you artwork feed your music more? Or is the relationship completely symbiotic?

NK: I think it’s pretty back-and-forth. I think when I have blocks in either of those area, I tend to emphasize the other. If I’m finding it really difficult to write something I know that I need to go investigate it in a more visual way, and I’ll start to gather images and take photographs and make notes and make collages and start looking to photographers and filmmakers to give me a more grounded sense of the place that I’m writing about, whether it’s in my imagination or in the characters. Whenever I’m writing music it’s a very visual place in my mind. It has a location full of characters and colors and landscapes, so those two things really compliment each other, and they help the other one to blossom and support the other. They are like brother and sister.

DS: When you are composing music, do you see notes and words as colors and images in your mind, and then you put those down on paper?

NK: Yes. When I’m writing songs, especially lately because I think the next album has a fairly strong concept behind it and I’m writing the songs, really imagining them, so I’m very immersed into the concept of the album and the story that is there through the album. It’s the same as when I’m playing live, I will imagine I see a forest of pine trees and sky all around me and the audience, and it really helps me. Or I’ll just imagine midnight blue and emerald green, those kind of Eighties colors, and they help me.

DS: Is it always pine trees that you see?

NK: Yes, pine trees and sky, I guess.

DS: What things in nature inspire you?

NK: I feel drained thematically if I’m in the city too long. I think that when I’m in nature—for example, I went to Big Sur last year on a road trip and just looking up and seeing dark shadows of trees and starry skies really gets me and makes me feel happy. I would sit right by the sea, and any time I have been a bit stuck I will go for a long walk along the ocean and it’s just really good to see vast horizons, I think, and epic, huge, all-encompassing visions of nature really humble you and give you a good sense of perspective and the fact that you are just a small particle of energy that is vibrating along with everything else. That really helps.

DS: Are there man-made things that inspire you?

NK: Things that are more cultural, like open air cinemas, old Peruvian flats and the Chelsea Hotel. Funny old drag queen karaoke bars…

DS: I photographed some of the famous drag queens here in New York. They are just such great creatures to photograph; they will do just about anything for the camera. I photographed a famous drag queen named Miss Understood who is the emcee at a drag queen restaurant here named Lucky Cheng’s. We were out in front of Lucky Cheng’s taking photographs and a bus was coming down First Avenue, and I said, “Go out and stop that bus!” and she did! It’s an amazing shot.

NK: Oh. My. God.

DS: If you go on her Wikipedia article it’s there.

NK: That’s so cool. I’m really getting into that whole psychedelic sixties and seventies Paris Is Burning and Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis. Things like The Cockettes. There seems to be a bit of a revolution coming through that kind of psychedelic drag queen theater.

DS: There are just so few areas left where there is natural edge and art that is not contrived. It’s taking a contrived thing like changing your gender, but in the backdrop of how that is still so socially unacceptable.

NK: Yeah, the theatrics and creativity that go into that really get me. I’m thinking about The Fisher King…do you know that drag queen in The Fisher King? There’s this really bad and amazing drag queen guy in it who is so vulnerable and sensitive. He sings these amazing songs but he has this really terrible drug problem, I think, or maybe it’s a drink problem. It’s so bordering on the line between fabulous and those people you see who are so in love with the idea of beauty and elevation and the glitz and the glamor of love and beauty, but then there’s this really dark, tragic side. It’s presented together in this confusing and bewildering way, and it always just gets to me. I find it really intriguing.

DS: How are you received in the Pakistani community?

NK: [Laughs] I have absolutely no idea! You should probably ask another question, because I have no idea. I don’t have contact with that side of my family anymore.

DS: When you see artists like Pete Doherty or Amy Winehouse out on these 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 with their music?

NK: It’s difficult. The drugs thing was never important to me, it was the music and expression and the way he delivered his music, and I think there’s a strange kind of romantic delusion in the media, and the music media especially, where they are obsessed with people who have terrible drug problems. I think that’s always been the way, though, since Billie Holiday. The thing that I’m questioning now is that it seems now the celebrity angle means that the lifestyle takes over from the actual music. In the past people who had musical genius, unfortunately their personal lives came into play, but maybe that added a level of romance, which I think is pretty uncool, but, whatever. I think that as long as the lifestyle doesn’t precede the talent and the music, that’s okay, but it always feels uncomfortable for me when people’s music goes really far and if you took away the hysteria and propaganda of it, would the music still stand up? That’s my question. Just for me, I’m just glad I don’t do heavy drugs and I don’t have that kind of problem, thank God. I feel that’s a responsibility you have, to present that there’s a power in integrity and strength and in the lifestyle that comes from self-love and assuredness and positivity. I think there’s a real big place for that, but it doesn’t really get as much of that “Rock n’ Roll” play or whatever.

DS: Is it difficult to come to the United States to play considering all the wars we start?

NK: As an English person I feel equally as responsible for that kind of shit. I think it is a collective consciousness that allows violence and those kinds of things to continue, and I think that our governments should be ashamed of themselves. But at the same time, it’s a responsibility of all of our countries, no matter where you are in the world to promote a peaceful lifestyle and not to consciously allow these conflicts to continue. At the same time, I find it difficult to judge because I think that the world is full of shades of light and dark, from spectrums of pure light and pure darkness, and that’s the way human nature and nature itself has always been. It’s difficult, but it’s just a process, and it’s the big creature that’s the world; humankind is a big creature that is learning all the time. And we have to go through these processes of learning to see what is right.


Canadian Idol top four eliminations
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Canadian Idol top four eliminations



Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Last night was the eliminations for Canadian Idols top 4. Chad Doucette of Chezzetcook, Nova Scotia was voted off. The show started with the current top 4 singing together on stage.

Rex Goudie performed live on the Canadian Idol stage last night. Goudie performed his hit single “Run”. Host Ben Mulroney presented Goudie, the 2005 Canadian Idol runner-up, with a Platinum Record on behalf of Sony BMG Music (Canada) Inc. and Canadian Idol for his hit CD Under The Lights.

Eva Avila and Craig Sharpe were safe and Chad Doucette was called to centre stage with Tyler Lewis. After the commercial break the results were announced.

Ben Mulroney – “Eva and Craig you’re safe”.
Ben Mulroney – “Chad you’re eliminated”.

After the results were revealed, Mulroney thanked Doucette: “I am so glad you decided to come back and audition this year,” he said. “If there is anything you have shown us in your run to Top 4 is how memorable you are.”

“I don’t know if I was as confident in what I wanted to do before I started this competition, but now I am absolutely positive I want to be a musician,” Doucette said. “You guys showed me that it’s alright to be unique. Thank you!”

“You’ve got a unique voice, which means you have to sing your own words,” Jake Gold advised him after the results were announced. “Keep doing what you’re doing and write songs.”

Next week the top 3 will go to New York to talk with Tony Bennett.

This week Canadian Idol got a record of 4.3 million votes. “When the competition is this good and only four singers are left, each week is anybody’s game”, said Mulroney.


Chinese chef Peng Chang-kuei’s death announced
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Chinese chef Peng Chang-kuei’s death announced



Saturday, December 3, 2016

Peng Chang-kuei, a Chinese-born chef credited with creating the internationally popular dish General Tso’s chicken, was yesterday announced to have died by his son.

Chuck Peng told The Associated Press his father died of pneumonia in Taipei, Taiwan on Wednesday. The chef fled China to Taiwan in 1949 and invented the dish shortly thereafter. In the 1970s Peng opened a New York restaurant, which he claimed was a regular haunt of Henry Kissinger. Peng credited Kissinger with the dish’s popularity.

Peng conceived the famed dish, which is unknown in China, as unfried. Garlic and soy sauce provided flavour, as did chillies. Today the chicken is served across the US as fried chicken in a sweet, sticky sauce. The chillies remain, with broccoli also appearing. Peng named it after Zuo Zongtang from his native Hunan Province; Zongtang assisted in suppressing the 19th-century Taiping Rebellion.

Peng said the meal was invented for a US admiral visiting Taiwan. Over three days, Peng was contracted to produce several banquets, with not one repeated dish. After exhausting traditional chicken dishes Peng said he created what became General Tso’s chicken as an experiment.

In later years he ran Peng’s, a chain of Taiwanese restaurants. General Tso’s chicken also remained popular across the US. His son claimed he remained working in the kitchen until a few months before his death, at 97. In a documentary two years ago, shown photos of General Tso’s chicken served in the US in modern times, he remarked “This is all crazy nonsense.”

Running away from his farming family in Changsha, Peng trained under Cao Jingchen. He fled communist rule that followed the 1930s Japanese invasion. He fathered seven children, six of whom remain alive, from three marriages. Chuck Peng described his father as “very good to other people, [but] very hard on his family.” Peng Jr. spoke of a “very demanding” man who “thought other people’s cooking was no good.”

Two years ago the Taipei City Government awarded Peng an Outstanding Citizen award. Peng, then 95 and unstable, collected the award in person and delivered a speech in Mandarin Chinese.


6.7 magnitude quake shakes Hawaii
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6.7 magnitude quake shakes Hawaii



Sunday, October 15, 2006

A magnitude 6.7 earthquake shook the Hawaiian islands at 17:07:49 UTC (07:07:49 local time) October 15, 2006. The quake, centered approximately 6 miles southwest of Puak? on the west side of Hawai`i Island (the Big Island), was felt throughout the entire state, causing a statewide power outage.

No tsunami warning was issued as a result of the quake; however, a tsunami measuring around 0.1 meters (four inches) was recorded. There were 50 aftershocks reported after the quake, the strongest being a 5.8 tremor reported at about 17:14 UTC (7:14 a.m. local time).

There were no fatalities reported and only scattered reports of minor injuries.

Electric power was lost statewide shortly after the quake. As of about 8:00 p.m. HST, power was restored to all the neighbor islands, but Hawaiian Electric personnel still had work to go on Oahu, the island with the highest population. Power was eventually restored to most areas of Oahu by midnight.

Structural damage occurred at Kona Hospital, where ceiling tiles fell and electricity was lost, forcing an evacuation of patients to Hilo Medical Center on the other side of the island. Damage was also reported at the Honokaa Long-term Care Facility and the Royal Kona Resort.

Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle, who was in Kona at the time of the earthquake, issued an emergency declaration for the entire state of Hawaii at about 11:00 a.m. local time (2300 UTC Sunday).

Air service in Hawaii was temporarily suspended shortly after the quake as airports were forced to operate on emergency power. The power outage caused delays to incoming and outgoing flights, as TSA agents had to conduct manual searches of all bags. Airlines have canceled numerous flights scheduled to depart Honolulu International Airport Sunday evening.

Communication links are problematic. Most radio stations lost power and stopped broadcasting immediately after the quake. (Metroblogging Hawaii) Honolulu radio station KSSK, operating on emergency generators, became a central information source for Oahu residents. A landslide has blocked at least one major highway from a section of a cliff at Kealakekua Bay.

USGS Volcano Observatory equipment has not been significantly damaged. Monitoring stations report “no significant changes in the past 24 hours” of the eruption of the K?lauea volcano.

According to USGS records, this earthquake is the fourth largest Hawaiian earthquake in the last 100 years. Previous earthquakes include a magnitude 7.2 quake in 1975, a magnitude 6.9 quake in 1951, and a magnitude 6.8 quake in 1938. The last magnitude 6.7 quake was in 1983.


News briefs:May 4, 2006
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News briefs:May 4, 2006



The time is 17:00 (UTC) on May 4th, 2006, and this is Audio Wikinews News Briefs.

Contents

  • 1 Headlines
    • 1.1 Zacarias Moussaoui to serve life in prison
    • 1.2 Prime Ministers of Greece and Turkey meet in Thessalonika
    • 1.3 Voting day for local elections in England
    • 1.4 Lava flows from Mount Merapi
    • 1.5 Rescue attempts continue for Tasmanian miners
    • 1.6 Picasso’s painting sold for $95.2 million
  • 2 Closing words

European Commission might impose embargo on Chinese products
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European Commission might impose embargo on Chinese products



Thursday, September 13, 2007

The European Commission (EU) is considering the imposition of an embargo on Chinese toys and consumer products. The EU Commissioner for Consumer Protection, Meglena Kuneva, said the aim is to increase pressure on the Chinese government to intensify its quality control in the manufacture of toys, toothpaste and certain food items.

Mattel, the world’s largest toy producer, recently launched a massive product recall of Chinese-made products because their paint may contain excessive amounts of lead.

China has until October to respond with a detailed plan on how it will increase its monitoring of product safety; if it fails to respond, Kuneva announced, some products will be banned.

In testimony before the European Parliament on the twelfth of September, Kuneva underlined the necessity to protect children from possible harm: “My main message to our Chinese counterparts was that Europe does not and would not accept compromises when the safety of consumers, and in particular of children, is at stake.”


Sheep sells for £231,000 at auction
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Sheep sells for £231,000 at auction



Friday, August 28, 2009

A sheep has been sold for £231,000 (US$377,223) at an auction in Lanarkshire, Scotland.

Farmer Jimmy Douglas bought the sheep for 220,000 guineas — the equivalent of roughly £231,000. The name of the sheep is ‘Deveronvale Perfection’ and it was bred in Banffshire by Graham Morrison, who eventually sold it. The sheep has a Texel ribbon attached to it and is a tup. In farming terms, a tup is an uncastrated male.

Graham Morrison stated that “He’s [the sheep] the best lamb I’ve ever bred and the price surpassed my wildest dreams.” Morrison mentioned that the sheep lives up to its name and that it was “perfection” when he was breeding it.

This is reported to be a new world record for the most amount of money paid for a sheep. It beats the previous record of the equivalent of £205,000 ($334,765) set in Australia in 1989. Eventually, its semen could be sold as well.


Police ends demonstration of anarchist squatters in Belgium
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Police ends demonstration of anarchist squatters in Belgium



Saturday, June 23, 2007

Last Monday, the police entered the abandoned house in Leuven, Belgium, that anarchist squatters had occupied for seven years. None of the squatters were present at the time, mostly due to exams. The premises was evacuated and the police dumped everything inside in containers. The house, which the squatters had baptised Villa Squattus Dei, belongs to the Catholic organisation Opus Dei.

As a reaction, the anarchists had called for a non-violent demonstration on Friday, starting at 20:00 p.m. (UCT+1) in front of city hall of the Flemish university town near Brussels. One of the protesters, who wished to remain anonymous, told Wikinews that the protest was mainly because the squatters were filled with indignation by the way the eviction took place. He also criticised the hypocrisy of the town mayor and politicians in the way they treated the squatters. Several media outlets reported speculation this week that some cases of arson were a retribution to the eviction of the Villa Squattus Dei.

The police had completely cordoned off the Great Market square with barb wire fences. All pubs were closed and the preparation for a festival taking place the next day on the square, were delayed. Well over 100 squatters, anarchists and supporters gathered next to the Great Market. The Flemish radio- and television station VRT reports that prior to the beginning of the demonstration, 10 people were already arrested.

The protesters marched through the city’s main streets. At a students house, which according to the squatters belongs to Opus Dei, the protesters threw paint, and a window got broken. During the demonstration, mayor Louis Tobback and alderman Brepoels responsible for housing, the police and Opus Dei were disparaged with slogans which translate to “You can’t evacuate ideals, fuck the police, squatting continues” and “Opus Dei get lost, Tobback go to your grave.”

The police blocked the crowd’s passage to the Court building, but besides a little pushing the demonstration was non-violent up to that point. A police helicopter started tracking the demonstration from the air.

On the Fish Market square, the police were pelted with stones and fireworks. A cameraman from VRT was hit by one of the stones and sustained a minor head injury. A little further down the street, some demonstrators started pushing an officer, and the police used their batons on the assailants, which they arrested.

Since the passage to the city centre was again blocked, the squatters led the protesters to a nearby park to get some rest and regroup. From there, the demonstration moved up a hill, and to the nearby ring road. The police could not prevent the crowd to get onto the busy road, stopping the traffic in both directions. The police decided to take decisive action, with police cars storming in, and officers chasing the scattered crowd through the nearby bushes of the nearby abbey. Dozens of protesters were arrested.

Via dark muddy forest roads, what was left over of the squatters and anarchists ended up near the canal harbour, where some of them decided to hide in another squat, an empty house and hangar.

As nearby inhabitants gathered, police reinforcements from several nearby cities arrived in front of the squat house. According to VRT journalists on the scene, some 250 officers pulled an extra shift that day.

Around 22:40 p.m. the police gave their first order to the squatters to evacuate the house. The area around the canal was completely sealed off. Some of the protesters were still among the crowd watching the police force, and the police arrested several more teenage protesters.

Meanwhile, the police shifted their actions to the city centre, where they hoped to arrest several groups who took part in the protest. All night long, police cars drove around in the city centre looking for anarchists and squatters.

Around 23:30 p.m. the squatters were still in their hideout near the canal, but the police force started leaving. There were only a few dozen protesters left in the squat, and the procedure to get a court order to evacuate them from the house hadn’t started yet, according to the Chief Constable on the scene.

This morning around 11:00 a.m., the only trace of the squatters left was graffiti on the squat and a flag with anarchist symbols and the words “squat the city”.


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