18th September     No Comments

Interview with Vicky Dhillon, City Council candidate for Wards 9 & 10 in Brampton, Canada

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Interview with Vicky Dhillon, City Council candidate for Wards 9 & 10 in Brampton, Canada

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The upcoming 2006 Brampton municipal election, to be held November 13, features an array of candidates looking to represent their wards in city council or the council of the Peel Region.

Wikinews contributor Nick Moreau contacted many of the candidates, including Vicky Dhillon, asking them to answer common questions sent in an email. This ward’s incumbent is Garnett Manning; also challenging Manning is Stella Ambler, Mandeep Dhaliwal, Daljit Gill, and Nalem Malik.

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18th September     No Comments

John Vanderslice plays New York City: Wikinews interview

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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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18th September     No Comments

President Mugabe bulldozes homes of 200,000 across Zimbabwe

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President Mugabe bulldozes homes of 200,000 across Zimbabwe

Friday, June 24, 2005File:Robert Mugabe.jpg

Zimbabwean President Mugabe’s Operation Murambatsvina (“Drive out rubbish”) has seen at least 200,000 people made homeless in Zimbabwe as the government bulldozes “illegal” homes, buildings and markets.

The opposition has said the operation is designed to “punish” those who object to Mugabe’s government.

Two children under the age of two have been killed, the first deaths reported so far in the actions which have been taking place for a month now.

International pressure is building on Zimbabwe to stop. British Foreign Minister Jack Straw has been joined by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in condemning the evictions and urging African leaders to speak out.

The government has said the buildings it is destroying are “illegal”, and have said that the “black markets” are to blame for the country’s “economic meltdown”. Over 70% of the population is unemployed.

The bulldozers have the protection of armed police as they do their work. Sometimes the police have forced homeowners to carry out the destruction themselves.

At other times, the government has claimed it is destroying the buildings to get rid of unsafe structures and to reduce overcrowding. Other children have died when the walls of their houses have collapsed.

The authorities are also preventing non-governmental organisations from providing aid to those who have lost their homes.

The country currently needs to import 1.2 million tonnes of food to avoid famine as rural farming production drops.

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18th September     No Comments

“Metric tonne” of date rape drug was bound for US

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“Metric tonne” of date rape drug was bound for US

Friday, June 2, 2006

Scottish police have arrested a man and a woman after finding Britain’s largest ever stash of Gamma-butyrolactone. The man in charge of the operation, Graeme Pearson, director of the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency, called the find “the most significant discovery of the drug in the UK.”

Denise Caron MacPherson, 45, and Hanan Rabin, 53, have been charged with exporting the drug, also known as GHB, to the United States between 19 April and 24 May. The news of the Scottish factory comes as a US study found drug use was involved in two-thirds of sex attacks, while 5 per cent were given an actual “date rape” drug.

Graham Rhodes for The Roofie Foundation, a helpline for victims of drug rape, said: “I am very relieved this has been recovered as in the wrong hands it is very dangerous. Not only is it used to spike the drinks of people to rape them but it’s also used to assault and rob people.”

Used by ravers, robbers and bodybuilders, the base chemical (gamma-hydroxybutyrate) was taken during a raid on a house and business in West Lothian. The haul would have been put on the United States illicit drug market and sold for fun and more sinister purposes.

In its non-powder form GHB is barely detectable: clear and having no smell it can be particularly potent with a few drops mixed into an alcoholic drink. Once a sufficient amount of the salty liquid has been ingested the victim can be knocked out within an hour.

While GHB is known both as “liquid ecstasy” and the date rapist’s “Plan A”, the versatile compound is also used by body builders instead of anabolic steroids, by dieters and as a sleeping aid.

In Britain, GHB is a “Class C” drug which means making it, holding it and selling it is punishable with up to two years in prison. The effects of rape, for which the drug is reportedly used, can last a lifetime. Jane Cumming, from support group Crisis, said she received an average of 4 calls a week from people claiming to be victims of date rape.

The pair, who were caught in Livingston, were accused of distributing the drug in Scotland from MacPherson’s house around the same time as they were exporting to the United States, while MacPherson was also charged with Cannabis possession.

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12th September     No Comments

Concrete Counters: The Latest Craze In Luxury And Status

By Pat Munro

Countertops in your kitchen and bathroom are the defining factor between luxury/status or utilitarian work spaces. The choice in materials for your countertops will undoubtedly be what makes the value of your home increase or stay the same. Picking the right countertop for increased value and usability comes down to two different materials, granite or concrete. These two materials are comparable in price, so what other factors will help you decide whether concrete is right for you? In the past, most people thought granite meant top of the line status and luxury. That old notion has been updated by the increasing popularity of concrete. These concrete countertops are not the same as the sidewalk outside your front door. Concrete is no longer considered ‘industrial’ or ‘dirty’, and its attributes can far out weigh the old notion that granite is best. Let’s discuss the attributes of concrete over granite for countertops.

What are the aesthetics of concrete over granite?

When it comes to appearance and ingenuity, concrete wins every time. The range of possibilities is limited only to the imagination of the creator. To start, concrete can be poured so it can take on any shape you desire. This includes curves, built in extras and of course that all important personal touch. Adding drainage, sinks, cutlery slots, and even a water fall feature can be done simply by using poured concrete. Mixing color into the concrete mixture creates different looks to accentuate your color scheme, or use natural pigments and pebbles to copy the look of granite, marble or any other stone material.

How is a concrete countertop made?

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We know that concrete is a mixture of cement and aggregates. Aggregates can be sand, pebbles or crushed limestone which is added to the cement mixture to create specific needs, such as increased strength or color and texture. For countertops the aggregates can be anything the homeowner wants, to customize and accentuate their desirable design.

What about the durability and maintenance of concrete over granite?

In terms of durability and strength, the two materials are pretty much on par. Black granite will definitely show scratches, as would black concrete. For food preparation, any acidic foods cut on the surface can affect both materials over a period of time. So in my opinion, it comes down to maintenance when deciding between concrete and granite for your countertops. Concrete being a porous material is more susceptible to stains than granite, which means you may need to resurface the concrete more often than granite. This may sound scary to some, but maintenance with concrete can be done by you at home, instead of hiring a professional to maintain your granite surfaces. Diamond pads ranging from 800-3000 grit should do the job, scrubbing until the stain disappears then replying the sealant and wax. For chips in your concrete, a grinder is used to reshape and polish the area, and then of course followed up with the sealant and wax.

Is it true that concrete countertops weigh more than granite?

No, that is untrue. According to the expert Mr. Bob Villa, ‘A square foot of concrete and a square foot of granite both weigh in the area of 20 pounds per square foot.’

Finally, deciding between these two high grade options is a personal one. You now have enough information to decide which is right for you. Both materials will cost anywhere from $50-$100/sq ft installed. So, if you want that 20th century luxurious charm of granite in your kitchen or bathroom then go for it.

If you would prefer the newest 21st century luxury in your home, something more interesting, color/design specific, or something creative, concrete is the best material on the market. Guests will ‘sink’ in envy.

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12th September     No Comments

U.S. Supreme Court rules on government display of Ten Commandments

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U.S. Supreme Court rules on government display of Ten Commandments

Monday, June 27, 2005

The United States Supreme Court has ruled that “non-neutral” displays of the Ten Commandments in courtrooms violate the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment guarantee of religious neutrality, but that “historical” displays are permitted.

In the case McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky, the court ruled that the display of the Commandments in Kentucky county courthouses constituted an unconstitutional endorsement of religion. However, in the case Van Orden v. Perry heard at the same time, the court permitted the display of the Commandments in a monument at the Texas state capitol.

In the Texas case, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, writing for the majority, wrote that:

Texas has treated her Capitol grounds monuments as representing the several strands in the State’s political and legal history. The inclusion of the Ten Commandments monument in this group has a dual significance, partaking of both religion and government.

However, in the Kentucky decision, the Court ruled that the history of the Ten Commandments’ display in the courthouse was evidence of religious (and not historical) intention and that the reasoning given in legislative resolutions was not reflective of the counties’ actual intentions in their displays. Justice Souter wrote for the majority, drawing specific attention to the character of the display:

The display’s unstinting focus was on religious passages, showing that the Counties were posting the Commandments precisely because of their sectarian content. That demonstration of the government’s objective was enhanced by serial religious references and the accompanying resolution’s claim about the embodiment of ethics in Christ.

Proponents of displaying the Commandments hold that they represent the bedrock of Western legal tradition. Opponents hold that the ancient Biblical rules, which begin I am the Lord thy God, represent religious dogma, not law.

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7th September     No Comments

New Ghanaian currency introduced

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New Ghanaian currency introduced

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

New currency notes are being introduced in Ghana today. The new currency, to be called the Ghanaian cedi, replaces the previous cedi which has been in circulation since 17 February, 1967.

The Ghanaian cedi will be exchanged at 10,000 old cedis to one new Ghanaian cedi. The exchange rate against the U.S. dollar starts at GH¢0.92 to one U.S. dollar. The new ISO code for the currency is GHS, and the new symbol, GH¢.

The change, which was originally scheduled by the Bank of Ghana to start on July 1, 2007, will instead start on Tuesday July 3, as the original date is Ghana’s Republic Day.

Monday, July 2, was declared a public holiday as the actual Republic Day fell on a Sunday. July 3, is thus the first day that the currency will be available to the public as banks open to the general public. This is because ATMs were shut down over the weekend so that the currencies could be checked and replaced in all of them nationwide. The old and new currencies will be used concurrently until the end of December 2007, when the old currency will cease to be legal tender.

This is the third Ghanaian cedi to be introduced in the country since 1965.

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7th September     No Comments

Australia/2005

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Australia/2005

Contents

  • 1 January
  • 2 February
  • 3 March
  • 4 April
  • 5 May
  • 6 June
  • 7 July
  • 8 August
  • 9 September
  • 10 October
  • 11 November
  • 12 December

[edit]

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3rd September     No Comments

WHO starts simultaneous immunization campaigns in over 100 countries

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WHO starts simultaneous immunization campaigns in over 100 countries

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The World Health Organization (WHO) yesterday began simultaneous immunization campaigns, in 112 countries and territories across its Americas, Eastern Mediterranean, and European regions. The unprecedented vaccination drive will last for a week.

This is the first time the World Health Organization has launched such an event across multiple regions at once. WHO officials say their goal is to expand immunization coverage and raise awareness of the importance of vaccines, and that such cross-border activities can prevent disease and save lives.

WHO spokesman Daniel Epstein says that many countries are working to eliminate measles, adding that says countries in the European region are very concerned that they have stalled in their goal of eliminating measles and rubella this year.

“In European countries, in many of them, immunization coverage is below the 95 percent recommended level. And, there have been ongoing measles outbreaks in some of these countries. Measles cases have also been imported to the US and Canada and the Americas from European countries,” said Epstein.

The agency says an important goal of the immunization campaigns is to reach those who have been excluded up to now. It notes that every year, in the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean Region, 25 percent of deaths among children under age five are attributed to vaccine preventable diseases. 2.1 million children in the Middle East hadn’t received a shot against tetanus, whooping cough, or diphteria in 2009, according to the WHO.

In the Americas, WHO says special regional events are being held in border areas of Nicaragua, between Suriname and French Guiana, and between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. It says many young children, pregnant women, elderly and indigenous peoples live in isolated areas where vaccine coverage is low.

In all three regions, Epstein said the vaccination campaigns will be accompanied by health information campaigns.

“The biggest obstacle to reaching our goals of vaccination are lack of awareness, lack of information and people being ignorant that they should be vaccinated, and thus not having enough vaccinators, money, trucks, bicycles, etc. to get to these remote regions,” he said.

WHO also began a large polio immunization campaign across sixteen countries in central and West Africa on Saturday. It says 78 million children under five will be vaccinated to stop a major outbreak of the disease.

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23rd August     No Comments

Band sticker causes bomb scare at Ohio University

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Band sticker causes bomb scare at Ohio University

Friday, March 3, 2006

A sticker for the Pensacola, Florida folk-punk band This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb was found on a bike near the Ohio University‘s Oasis restaurant by a university police officer.

The university police, who were unaware of the band’s existence, summoned the Columbus police bomb squad, who destroyed the bike to ensure that there was no bomb inside. The university later discovered their error.

The bike’s owner, a graduate student, has been charged with “inducing panic,” a misdemeanor. He has been released and is due to appear in court March 13 on the charge.

The band’s label, Plan-It-X Records, has not yet commented on the incident. The font and style of the sticker are common among such humorous stickers.

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