Teräsbetoni frontman J. Ahola on representing Finland at Eurovision 2008 & more

Sunday, April 13, 2008

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Teräsbetoni means “steel-reinforced concrete”, and is also the name of a Finnish heavy metal band formed in 2002. Their music, which centres on an honourable warrior lifestyle or on metal itself, quickly became popular in 2003 on the Internet, resulting in a petition by fans being sent to several record labels demanding a recording deal. In late 2004 the band signed to Warner Music Finland, and the following year debut single Taivas lyö tulta rose to number one in the Finnish charts, and debut album Metallitotuus hit number two and went platinum, and has now sold about 47,000 copies.

The band, who sing exclusively in Finnish, have just released their third album, Myrskyntuoja. The lead single on this album is Missä miehet ratsastaa, which Teräsbetoni decided to enter in the Finnish selections for the 2008 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest, where it was selected to go on to the semi-final in Belgrade, Serbia as Finland’s representative this year. Although Finland has seen limited success in the contest, their only victory was with a comparable group. In 2006 hard rock band Lordi – whose monster costumes and pyrotechnic displays are famed – achieved a record 292 points in the final with Hard Rock Hallelujah.

Teräsbetoni’s frontman, vocalist and bass guitarist Jarkko Ahola’s fame extends beyond the band he heads. He also features in Finnish symphonic power metal cover supergroup Northern Kings, alongside Marco Hietala of Nightwish and Tarot, Tony Kakko of Sonata Arctica and Juha-Pekka Leppäluoto of Charon.

Wikinews was able to conduct an exclusive interview with Jarkko Ahola to discuss these various achievements. This interview is now published below for the first time.

Contents

  • 1 Interview
    • 1.1 On the early days
    • 1.2 On Eurovision
    • 1.3 The new album
    • 1.4 Northern Kings
    • 1.5 The future and final words
  • 2 Related news
  • 3 Sources
 

Alaska senator Ted Stevens indicted in corruption scandal

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

United States Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska has been indicted by federal grand jury on seven criminal counts for making false statements in his Senate financial disclosure forms. The longest-serving Republican in the Senate, Stevens is the highest-profile politician ensnared in the corruption scandal surrounding VECO Corporation and its executives’ attempts to influence politics.

VECO, a subsidiary of CH2M Hill as of September 2007, is an oil pipeline and services company. It is alleged to have funded renovations to the Stevens home in Girdwood, Alaska in 2000. The renovations include a new garage and first floor, a two story wrap-around deck, as well as new wiring and plumbing. In 2007, VECO chief executive Bill Allen pleaded guilty to charges of extortion, bribery, and conspiracy.

The 28-page indictment alleges that Stevens “knowingly and willfully engaged in a scheme to conceal” gifts from VECO, which totaled “hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of things of value.”

A press release was issued by Stevens’ office in response to the allegations: “I am innocent of these charges and intend to prove that.” And Stevens himself commented, “I have never knowingly submitted a false disclosure form required by law as a U.S. senator.” Senator Daniel Inouye, a close friend of Stevens, commented: “As far as he’s concerned, he’s not guilty. And I believe him.”

Stevens was reportedly caught unawares on Tuesday when the indictment charge was filed. “Apparently, the media knew about it before he did,” Inouye stated, adding that he had just talked to Stevens. Ted Stevens was in a meeting with other Republicans when he found out about the charge.

Stevens is the longest-serving Republican senator in history and is up for reelection this November. Calls to his office in Washington for comment were redirected to a voicemail indicating that his “office is closed.”

The United States Department of Justice says it has already obtained seven convictions in the case: Peter Kott, a former Speaker of the Alaska House of Representatives; Thomas T. Anderson, a former state representative; Victor H. Kohring, another representative; James A. Clark, chief of staff to the former governor of Alaska; William Bobrick, a lobbyist; Bill Allen, VECO chief executive; and Richard L. Smith, VECO vice president of government relations.

 

Former Satyam CEO Raju, his brother and CFO arrested and detained in profit-fraud scandal

Monday, January 12, 2009

Byrraju Ramalinga Raju, founder and chairman of Satyam Computer Services, and his brother, B. Rama Raju, the company’s managing director, were arrested late Friday by Andhra Pradesh police. The brothers were placed under judicial custody in a Hyderabad, India jail and will remain there until January 23. Facing charges of criminal breach of trust (Section 406 of IPC), criminal conspiracy (Section 120-B), cheating (Section 420), falsification of records and forgery (Section 468), and fraudulent cancellation of securities (Section 477-a), they face up to ten years imprisonment if convicted.

After 18 hours of interrogation by the Crime Investigation Department (CID) at the state police headquarters, the Raju brothers were sent to the Chanchalguda prison and slept Saturday night on the floor along with 26 other low-risk inmates.

S. Bharat Kumar, the Rajus’s lawyer, asked the magistrate to issue orders for health monitoring. “His blood pressure is fluctuating and he needs medical treatment,” said Bharat Kumar. Mr. Raju appeared before the court Saturday while a team of doctors visited him after he had complained of chest pain.

Raju has Hepatitis-C, and both brothers have high blood pressure, so health precautions are necessary while imprisoned. Prison rules mandate service of jail food thrice a day. The menu includes 650 gm of rice thrice a day with 250 gm of vegetable curry and 125 gm of ‘daal’ plus tea twice a day.

Satyam’s chief financial officer Vadlamani Srinivas, who was also arrested Saturday, had undergone preliminary investigation and appeared Sunday before a special court, according to A. Sivanarayana, Andhra Pradesh additional director general of police. Srinivas was remanded to judicial custody until January 23 by Mr. D. Ramakrishna, Sixth Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, and sent to the Chanchalguda jail with the Raju brothers after interrogation by CID’s Crime Branch (the CB-CID). During his Saturday night arrest and probe by CB-CID, Srinivas made revelations which are contained in his confession letter as submitted to Network 18. “According to me fixed deposits are unreal and fictitious which were managed and was an understanding between the audit section management,” Srinivas stated.

The Hyderabad court on Monday postponed the bail hearings of the Raju brothers and Srinivas to January 16. To be defended by a battalion of 25 lawyers, the three accused will remain in Chanchalguda Central Jail until further court order. The Raju brothers were shifted Sunday to a mid-size Old Hospital Barrack cell shared with a bootlegger.

Contents

  • 1 The offences
  • 2 About Satyam Computer Services
  • 3 Impact on Satyam Computer Services finances and reactions
  • 4 Related news
  • 5 Sources

In 2008, the company struggled to purchase two infrastructure companies founded by family members of company founder and CEO Dr. Raju – Maytas Infrastructure and Maytas Properties – for $1.6 billion, despite concerns raised by independent board directors. Dr. Raju tendered his resignation on January 7 after due notice of falsified accounts to board members and the SEBI.

Since January 7 when two lawsuits were commenced, dozens of other class action law suits were filed against Satyam for hundreds of millions of dollars damages based on fraud in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan, among others. The securities fraud class-action lawsuits have been filed on behalf of investors who bought Satyam American Depositary Receipts (ADRs) since 2004.

On Wednesday Dr. Raju admitted to falsifying and overstating Satyam’s cash reserves by $1B US dollars (£661m) or 94% of its cash and bank balances on books at the end of September.

The fraud was perpetrated several years ago to bridge “a marginal gap” between actual and accounting books operating profits, and continued for several years. “It was like riding a tiger, not knowing how to get off without being eaten,” B. Raju said.

In a letter to the board, Dr. Raju said that neither he nor the managing director had benefited financially from the inflated revenues. Further claiming that none of the board members had any knowledge of the dire company situation, he noted that Satyam’s balance sheet as of the September 30, 2008, carried inflated figures for cash and bank balances of INR 5,040 crore (as against INR 5,361 crore reflected in the books). He alleged it also carried an accrued interest of INR 376 crore which was non-existent. He confessed that he himself prepared an understated liability of INR 1,230 crore on account of funds amid an overstated debtors’ position of INR 490 crore (as against INR 2,651 crore in the books).

Indian analysts have compared the Satyam-Raju scandal to the infamous American Enron scandal. Immediately following the media expose, PricewaterhouseCoopers, auditor of Satyam’s accounts, was set to be probed for complicity in the controversy. Times Now has reported that the Andhra Pradesh CID arrested PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) representative Gopal Krishnan for investigation on Saturday night.

New York-listed Satyam Computer Services Ltd., India’s fourth-biggest software firm, is a consulting and information technology services company based in Hyderabad, India. Founded in 1987 by Dr. Byrraju Ramalinga Raju, Satyam’s network spans 67 countries on six continents. It employs 53,000 professionals in India, the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, Hungary, Singapore, Malaysia, China, Japan, Egypt and Australia. Its monthly salary outflow is estimated at six billion rupees ($125 million). Deriving more than half of its revenues from the United States, it serves 700 global companies, 185 of which are Fortune 500 corporations.

Satyam’s clients include Nestle, Ford, General Electric Co., General Motors Corp., Nissan Motor Co., Applied Materials Inc., Caterpillar Inc., Cisco Systems Inc. and Sony Corp., and brought in about $40bn last year.

In December 2008, a failed acquisition attempt involving the company Maytas led to a plunge in Satyam’s share price. After Wednesday’s confession, Satyam stocks fell further by more than 70%, while the BSE SENSEX dropped to 7.3% Wednesday, causing the removal of Satyam Computer Services from its indices on Thursday. The shares free fell to 11.50 rupees on Friday, their lowest level since March 1998, compared with around last year’s high of 544 rupees.

The New York Stock Exchange has terminated trading in Satyam stock as of January 7, while the National Stock Exchange of India said it will remove Satyam from its S&P CNX Nifty 50-share index from January 12.

India’s biggest-ever corporate fraud has seriously tainted India Inc.‘s strong corporate governance image. “The admission of fraud in financial affairs has created an adverse impression in the minds of trade, business and industry across the world,” the Indian government admitted. The government intervened on Friday night, dismissing Satyam’s board of directors, announcing it will appoint representatives to manage the affairs of the insolvent outsourcing giant. The board would meet within seven days. Dr Yeduguri Samuel Rajasekhara Reddy, chief Minister of State of Andhra Pradesh, India, on Sunday said that the main agenda is to protect the jobs of the software professionals. “We are taking all needful steps in coordination with the government of India to ensure that the jobs of 53,000 engineers are protected and the shareholders’ money is salvaged,” Reddy said.

“We are working on the names. The Satyam case is an aberration. The credibility of the Indian corporate sector in general, and IT sector in particular, should not be allowed to suffer because of this.” Prem Chand Gupta, the Corporate Affairs Minister said. The Federal Government of India appointed a three-member independent board with full authority for Satyam on Sunday and was set to convene within 24 hours. “We have appointed Deepak Parekh, chairman of Housing Development Finance Corporation, Kiran Karnik, former president of IT industry body NASSCOM and C. Achutan, former member of Securities and Exchange Board (SEBI) of India,” Mr. Gupta said.

In early Monday trading (0535 GMT) after the creation of the three-member board, Satyam shares rocketed upwards 60% to 38.15 rupees, even though the main Mumbai market was down more than 2%. BBC reported that Satyam shares have jumped 51% to 36.05 rupees on Monday after the stock lost 87% last week. “The constitution of the new board is seen as a positive step by the market. It’s a confidence boosting measure,” K.K. Mital, Globe Capital, New Delhi head of portfolio management services said. “But the rally will depend largely on the financial situation at the company and the kind of measures that are taken to improve liquidity,” he added.

The Company Law Board, however, has requested Satyam’s interim board not to implement its decisions. “We are asked by the Company Law Board not to implement the decisions of the board. But we are allowed to continue our activity. The team which was constituted recently is continuing its work,” Satyam head global marketing and communications, Mr. Hari Thalapalli, said.

Lazard Ltd., who has a 7.4% stake in Satyam, sought representation on the new board and wrote as much to The Indian Ministry of Corporate Affairs. “As the largest shareholder in the company, we want to be consulted in whatever decisions are being taken by the Indian government. We have written to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs and are awaiting a reply from them,” Hitesh Jain, a partner at ALMT Legal, who claimed to represent Lazard, said. “It is a fair proposal and we will take a decision as and when we clear other issues. No decision on this has been taken yet,” P.C. Gupta replied.

Meanwhile, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) also announced it will try to control the damage and take steps to boost investor confidence. “This exercise will be undertaken after the third quarter results and is expected to be completed by end of February this year,” a SEBI official statement said. A SEBI team is also investigating acting-CEO Ram Mynampati whose salary was greater than that of founder Dr. Raju and all the directors combined. Dr. Raju had just one fifth of Mynampati’s total package of over Rs 3.5 crore as of March 2008. All the directors comparably received only a total of Rs 2.6 crore as salary, commissions, sitting fees, professional fees and other receivables.

Further, the Andhra Pradesh Police CID and teams assigned by the Economic Offences Wing of the CB-CID conducted searches Sunday of homes of the accused including the ex-CFO’s office to gather documentary evidence about the financial fraud.

 

Hundreds of victims still unidentified three months after Typhoon Frank

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Typhoon Frank stormed across the Philippine Sea June 21, 2008 capsizing numerous boats, killing hundreds and leaving an estimated 1,330 missing in total including 820 passengers and crew from the MV Princess of the Stars ferry.

Since then Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) teams in Cebu City, Philippines made up of experts from the Philippines National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP). and INTERPOL have painstakingly matched DNA from recovered bodies to that of blood samples donated by relatives of those still missing.

“The 23,000-ton vessel was also carrying tens of thousands of pounds of commercial insecticide and many bodies still remain trapped inside the wreckage” according to a recent press release from the ICMP.

“With fingerprint identification out of the question for most of the victims, and dental records not available, this leaves only DNA as a means of identification, with samples from recovered victims matched to those provided by the missing passengers’ relatives.”

An NBI-DVI report explains “DNA matches are made by comparing profiles from victims to a database of profiles from their relatives. A minimum of two close relatives [are] sought for each individual.”

NBI-DVI has so far collected 1,916 blood samples from relatives of missing victims representing 809 missing persons. These samples are then matched against the 318 DNA samples from recovered bodies received by the ICMP.

“Almost three months have passed since our country was struck by one of the worst typhoons in memory, with ‘Frank’ causing the sinking of the Princess of the Stars with hundreds of passengers and crew on board,” said NBI Director Nestor M. Mantaring in the press release.

“The NBI, through its DVI team, was tasked [with identifying] the victims of this tragedy. With help from INTERPOL and the ICMP, we have reached the 100th DNA-matched result which led to the identification and release of the bodies to their respective families.

“We are committed to doing this until the last possible victim is identified and returned to their family,” he concluded.

 

US president Obama, Congress call for blocking of executive bonuses at AIG insurance company

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

United States President Barack Obama stated Monday that insurance giant AIG is in financial trouble due to “recklessness and greed,” and called for legal action to stop the company from giving out millions of dollars in bonuses to its executives.

“It’s hard to understand how derivative traders at AIG warranted any bonuses, much less $165 million in extra pay,” Obama said. “How do they justify this outrage to the taxpayers who are keeping the company afloat.”

Obama’s statement comes after reports surfaced last weekend saying the insurance agency, which is in deep financial trouble, had paid US$165 million to executives in bonuses, after receiving $170 billion as part of a government bailout plan.

AIG has said that the bonuses have to be given out, as the company is legally required by contract to do so. A representative with the National Economic Council, Lawrence H. Summers, also said that the bonuses were required to be given out. If AIG had refused to give out the bonuses, employees could file a lawsuit against the company for the money.

“We cannot attract and retain the best and the brightest talent to lead and staff the A.I.G. businesses — which are now being operated principally on behalf of American taxpayers — if employees believe their compensation is subject to continued and arbitrary adjustment by the U.S. Treasury,” AIG CEO Edward M. Liddy said in a letter addressed to Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner on Saturday.

Liddy said that he asked Geithner “to use that leverage and pursue every legal avenue to block these bonuses and make the American taxpayers whole.”

“I want everybody to be clear that Secretary Geithner’s been on the case,” Obama said. “He’s working to resolve this matter with the new CEO, Edward Liddy, who, by the way, everybody needs to understand, came on board after the contracts that led to these bonuses were agreed to last year.”

If the bonuses cannot be stopped, the U.S. Congress says they want AIG to reimburse the government. Congress is looking to impose stiff new taxes on the pay, or ordering the company to return the money which was originally granted from a government bailout. In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday, senator Richard Shelby promised that the treasury will recover all of the money. Several U.S. senators along with Liddy have sent letters to AIG asking for the bonuses to be renegotiated, something AIG agreed to and says they will reduce future bonuses by 30%. Senators state that if Libby does not respond by renegotiating the bonuses, the Senate Finance Committee will propose an excise tax. Not only will an excise tax be proposed on AIG, but all companies receiving bailout money and their employees who receive bonuses.

What is the highest excise tax we can impose that will stand up in court? Let’s find out.

Numerous House Democrats have introduced legislation which would place a 100% tax on any bonuses of over $100,000 from companies that are receiving government bailout funds. Meanwhile in the Senate, a bipartisan proposal by Max Baucus (D-Montana) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) would levy a special 90% excise tax on AIG’s bonuses. Asked Senator Baucus, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee: “What is the highest excise tax we can impose that will stand up in court? Let’s find out.”

 

Warhol’s photo legacy spread by university exhibits

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Contents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s Warhol. He is a legend.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

With US mid-term elections fast approaching, three prominent Democrats announce retirement

Thursday, January 7, 2010

With this year’s November midterm elections fast approaching, three prominent United States Democrats announced their plans for retirement from public service on Wednesday.

Powerful and influential—yet controversial for his alleged close ties to the financial sector and his handling of last year’s bailout—Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut announced that he would not be seeking a sixth term this year.

In a speech to his supporters in East Haddam, Connecticut, the sixty-five-year-old senior senator—with his family at his side—said, “I have been a Connecticut senator for thirty years. I’m very proud of the job I’ve done and the results delivered. But none of us is irreplaceable. None of us is indispensable.”

He then went on to say, “Over the past twelve months, I’ve managed four major pieces of legislation through the United States Congress, served as chair and acting chair of two major Senate committees, placing me at the center of the two most important issues of our time—health care and reform of financial services.”

In addition to highlighting some personal travails, Dodd alluded to his precarious political situation, “I lost a beloved sister in July, and in August, Ted Kennedy. I battled cancer over the summer, and in the midst of all of this, found myself in the toughest political shape of my career.”

Despite this, Dodd adamantly maintained that none of the above reasons were the causes for his retirement. He said that his reasons were more “personal,” and that his retirement would hopefully give him a much-wanted opportunity to spend more time with his family.

Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota announced that he would not run for re-election this year either.

“Although I still have a passion for public service and enjoy my work in the Senate, I have other interests and I have other things I would like to pursue outside of public life,” said the sixty-seven-year-old, three-term senator who said he came to this decision after discussing his future with his immediate family over Christmas.

Governor of Colorado, Bill Ritter announced that he too would not seek a second term. The fifty-three-year-old freshman governor said that although he felt his race was “absolutely winnable,” after some deep “soul searching,” he realized that he truly wanted to retire from politics nonetheless. This due to the fact that he felt his main priority should be to be a better husband to his wife as well as a better father to their four children.

When asked to comment on Senator Dodd’s retirement on behalf of the Administration, Vice President Joseph Biden said Dodd would “be long recognized as one of the most significant senators of my generation.”

He furthermore stated, “I believe the nation will miss his wisdom, wit and compassion. I count myself lucky because I know he’s not going too far and will always be a source of advice and counsel.”

Biden gave similar comments and expressed like sentiments about the retirement of his other two Democratic colleagues as well.

 

Zimbabwe cancels education year for 4.5 million after political and economic troubles

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Zimbabwe’s 4.5 million students will not receive what was once the golden standard of education in Africa—or any education at all this school year.

Political violence during the country’s recent presidential elections hit schools hard with strikes, murder and violence against teachers, and looting. Some schools were turned into places of torture after teachers were driven out.

The country’s educators were targeted by Zimbabwe’s ZANU-PF party, for alleged support of the opposition.

Now the country faces a second crisis due to economic troubles and an inflation rate of two trillion percent. The few teachers still around have seen their salaries made worthless and are unable to acquire teaching supplies. “We don’t even have chalk, or red pens, never mind books,” says Amos Musoni, one of the few teachers still working. Schools like the one where Musoni works have given up educating and simply entertain the children before sending them off for lack of equipment.

Not even Zimbabwe’s four top universities have been spared. The universities have been unable to open without funds, water, or electricity, like many public schools. College students, unable to register, are left waiting for more information.

Pass rates in the nation went from 72 to eleven percent, with many schools not seeing even one pass. Schools in the countries have not been able to prepare students for tests without timetables or even the results from last year.

 

Australians missing out on full sports coverage, media outlets say

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Major media outlets have told an Australian senate committee on environment, communications and the arts that Australians are being denied full coverage of sporting events.

They have told the inquiry that major sporting organisations are restricting how photos and text can be used on the internet and other digital media, which is threatening the reporting of sport as news.

Sporting organisations have hit back saying that such online content is a big money earner for them. They say that the money earned from those rights gets invested in grassroots programs.

Australian Associated Press asked the committee to recommend legislation guaranteeing the right of news media cover major sporting events.

“AAP reporting and photography are the lifeblood of news for regional and rural newspapers across the country,” Fairfax Media, publisher of The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and a number of regional papers, said in its submission. “Millions of Australians are being prevented from receiving full AAP coverage of major sporting events. When photographs of sport events are privatised, all forms of journalism are vulnerable to such restrictions.”

“AAP believes that the most effective way to protect the public interest in receiving news about sporting and related events is to have a legislated provision for right of access for news media,” AAP’s submission says.

The Australian Football League, in its submission, also argued for legislative amendments, but to the Copyright Act. Their recommendations would see the use of audio-visual, photographic and audio media restricted in the digital domain.

“To avoid protracted disputes with media organisations and to ensure a minimum standard of protection across digital sports news reporting in Australia, AFL believes that the best means of introducing these restrictions is by way of amendments to the Copyright Act or a mandatory industry code,” the AFL’s submission said.

Wikinews asked the AFL, Football Federation Australia and the Sunshine Coast Daily for comment. The AFL refused to comment until after their submission was formally made to the committee.

 

Former Chief Operating Officer of Wikimedia Foundation is convicted felon

Friday, December 14, 2007

This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

The Register, a British technology news and opinion website, reports that a former Wikimedia Foundation Chief Operating Officer (COO) has a criminal record in at least four U.S. states: Texas, Maryland, Virginia and Florida.

Carolyn Doran, born Carolyn Sue Bothwell, was the WMF COO for six months from January to July 2007. The Register reported Doran’s criminal record includes four convictions for driving under the influence, two of check fraud and petty larceny, one hit and run with fatality, and one charge of unlawful wounding for shooting former boyfriend Philip L. Brown in the chest in 1990. He later asked that no charges be made against her and they resumed dating each other. Two of the arrests for driving under the influence occurred this year, once in May while she was working for the Foundation and once a month after she resigned.

“He asked me to marry him after I shot him,” Doran told The Washington Post on February 22, 1990.

Wikinews has confirmed, through Pinellas County police reports, that she was convicted in four DUI’s and also the hit and run. It is also confirmed, she faced an additional charge of driving while a license is suspended or revoked (DWLSR).

In 1994, Doran was implicated in the murder of a man who was the lover of her friend, Cassondra Sue Betancourt. Betancourt was later convicted of the man’s first degree murder in 1995 after a jury trial. According to court documents, Betancourt, “brought some cocaine to a hotel room that had been rented by the victim, her lover. The next morning, after defendant left the room, the victim was discovered dead.”

Doran, who had prior knowledge that Betancourt would deliver the drugs, made a plea deal with prosecutors that if she testified against Betancourt, she would get a lesser sentence for her previous charges of credit card fraud and petty larceny. Although Doran assisted the prosecution in attempting to gain incriminating evidence by wearing a wire while with Betancourt, Doran never received her lesser sentence.

Despite the attempt, Betancourt’s conviction was later overturned in 1998 because “there was insufficient evidence to support the conviction. The court held that there had only been circumstantial evidence linking defendant to the crime, and that proof by circumstantial evidence was not sufficient to prove first degree murder,” added the court papers.

Wikinews can also confirm that Doran’s husband, Sean H. Doran, a former intelligence officer and major for the U.S. Air Force, to whom she was married for only five days, drowned on their honeymoon on Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands in 1999. According to The Washington Post, the cause of the drowning which led to his death was not known. It was later acknowledged in private records given to the Library of Virginia that his death was deemed accidental.

Six months later she remarried after meeting a man named Christopher Dale Confer in Arapahoe County, Colorado. It was earlier thought she used Confer as an alias, because according to PACER, she filed for bankruptcy in 2001 where she is listed as having “aliases,” one being Carolyn S. King and the other as Carolyn Confer.

The Register quotes Mike Godwin, the Wikimedia Foundation’s general counsel, as saying that the Foundation had no knowledge of Doran’s prior or current criminal record. “We’ve never had any documentation of any criminal record on Carolyn Doran’s part at all. As far as I’m concerned, I have no direct knowledge of [her criminal record] yet…We have, in our records, no evidence of any such thing.”

Wikinews attempted to contact Mr. Godwin via e-mail but no response has yet been received.

Doran was voted into her COO position by the Wikimedia Board of Trustees at the time. Of the seven board members, six supported her position and one did not. The vote was made and agreed upon on January 22, 2007. She was in charge of “all office/administrative issues” and “overall administration and business operations. Areas of responsibility included administration, personnel and fiscal management. In the future, [she will be in charge of] any new employee working in the administrative area,” according to public e-mails on Wikimedia’s main mailing list foundation-l.

According to Florence Devouard, the Chair of the WMF Board of Trustees, background checks were not performed on anyone until at least 2007, but that recently, the Foundation began to perform them. During that time, Brad Patrick was acting Executive Director and he did all the hiring.

“In fall 2006, we did not perform criminal background checks. From what I understood, Mike took care of this and this is now being done. It is fairly recent, the board did not get any report on this,” said Devouard on foundation-l.

Doran was searched and questioned by U.S. Customs agents in Florida after returning from a Foundation board meeting in the Netherlands around June. According to The Register, it was because she violated the terms of her parole by attending the meeting. She was not arrested, but according to police reports, on October 31, 2007, Doran was arrested under a warrant valid for a “nationwide extradition”. Doran was then extradited back to Virginia, where she is currently being held in a prison in Staunton.

Doran resigned from her position in July 2007, and the Foundation is currently without a Chief Operating Officer.