Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A spokesperson stated on Monday that UK television company ITV have been fined A$3000 (about US$2591 or £1663) for cruelty to animals in an incident on programme “I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!“, where two celebrities killed and ate a rat.

The incident involved actor Stuart Manning and television chef Gino D’Acampo, who went on to win the ninth series of the programme, which was broadcast in 2009. Inside the jungle, having been reduced to rations of beans and rice, the two celebrities caught a rat before killing it and then cooking it, to give the beans and rice “more protein”, before eating the rat, which contestant and actor George Hamilton described as “actually quite nice”. Inside the programme’s video diary room, at the time of the recording of it, Gino D’Acampo said: “I saw one of these rats running around. I got a knife, I got its throat, I picked it up.”

RSPCA Australia had stated that performing an act like this on television was “not acceptable”. Initially, Manning and D’Acampo were charged for animal cruelty. However, their charges were dropped when ITV made the confession that production staff had allowed the celebrities to carry out the act of killing the rat. After a court trial in Sydney, Australia, ITV got a fine of A$3000. The company also had to pay costs of A$2500 (US$2192 or £1396).

An ITV spokesperson said that “ITV has apologised for the mistake which led to this incident. The production was unaware that killing a rat could be an offence, criminal or otherwise in New South Wales, and accepts that further inquiries should have been made. This was an oversight and we have since thoroughly reviewed our procedures and are putting in place a comprehensive training programme to ensure that this does not happen in future series.”

Friday, May 26, 2006

Brampton, ON — On Wednesday, May 31 at 6:30 p.m., sculptor Alvaro Cervantes will host a meet and greet at the Visual Arts Brampton Creative Studio. Cervantes will be showing his precise sculptures to guests, and promoting his upcoming multi-week workshop at the studio. The course is open to students who love cartoon, no matter their skill levels or experience sculpting.

“We’re extremely pleased to present such a unique course at VAB,” group president Keith Moreau commented. “Alvaro is a master of his craft, and students are sure to benefit immensely from the experience.”

Alvaro has specialized in maquettes for 16 years, creating sculptures used by companies including Disney, Pixar, and Marvel Comics. His works have served as reference for animators, and as prototypes for toys. Some of his most recent work is for the Disney-Pixar film Cars, which will was released today in theatres. Cervantes has taught the workshop at Oakville’s Sheridan College, home of a respected Animation BA program.

The meet-and-greet is free for everyone. The timing and price of the course will be established by Wednesday.

The Visual Arts Brampton Creative Studio is located in the Bartley’s Square Mall, at the corner of Hurontario and Steeles Avenue. The studio is the only suite in the lower level, and is accessible through a glassed in lobby.

For more information on the meet-and-greet or the course, contact visualartsbrampton@gmail.com, or phone 905-453-9142.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Americans pay twice as much for heart-bypass surgery as the socialized Canadian system, with no difference in outcome, according to today’s issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine in a study funded by American drug company, Pfizer Inc.. The research found that heart bypass surgery costs an average of $10,373 in Canada, compared with $20,673 in the United States. Even though the costs were double in the United States, the rate of complications and death following bypass surgery was similar.

High administrative costs and overtreatment are usually blamed for the higher cost in the profit-driven U.S. system. Americans spent $5,635 per capita on health care in 2003, while only $3,003 was spent by Canadians. Health spending accounts for almost 15 per cent of gross domestic product in the U.S. and just under 10 per cent in Canada; while at the same time, all Canadian residents are full covered. In addition, the average Canadian lives 2 years longer than the average American.

This is one of the first studies directly comparing the costs of surgery in Canada and the United States and it reinforces the view of Dr. Mark Eisenberg, head of cardiovascular epidemiology at Jewish General Hospital in Montreal; “The conventional wisdom is that health care is much more expensive in the U.S. and the conventional wisdom is right.” by finding that Canada’s socialized system is far more cost efficient than the U.S. model.

The cost of medications used to treat bypass patients were as much as 68 percent greater in the U.S. than in Canada and the cost of a surgical bed was 36 percent greater in the U.S.. In Canada, nursing accounted for 44 percent of the treatment costs, compared with 21 percent in the U.S. and patients stayed longer in hospital following surgery in Canada.

Wikinews’ overview of the year 2008

Posted August 11th, 2019 by F4GKcb4Y

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Also try the 2008 World News Quiz of the year.

What would you tell your grandchildren about 2008 if they asked you about it in, let’s say, 20 years’ time? If the answer to a quiz question was 2008, what would the question be? The year that markets collapsed, or perhaps the year that Obama became US president? Or the year Heath Ledger died?

Let’s take a look at some of the important stories of 2008. Links to the original Wikinews articles are in all the titles.

Computer glitch delays online tax filing in Canada

Posted August 11th, 2019 by F4GKcb4Y

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Computer systems used by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for the handling of tax filing data for Canadians have been temporarily shutdown due to infrastructure problems.[1] A March 7 article in the Toronto Star[2] states that due to errors in the electronic filing system, Canada Revenue Agency will be unable to accept any tax filings electronically or corrections to prior filings.

A fact sheet from the CRA [3] states that “until the problem is resolved, we cannot process returns filed on paper, or returns filed electronically before the system interruption. Refunds will be delayed until processing is resumed”.

A check of the taxing authority’s website[4] regarding the issue states “We have temporarily shut down public access to electronic services to ensure the integrity of taxpayer information.” and that “We have now traced the source of the problem to software maintenance conducted on March 4, 2007. We are currently working to bring all systems back online gradually.”

A CRA press release dated March 6 [5] states “Commissioner of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Michel Dorais today instructed some computer applications related to personal income tax filing to be temporarily halted.” he also said, “there is no indication that this situation was caused by intrusion, hacking, or computer virus”. Further, “These applications include online services like Efile, Netfile, and My Account. Mr. Dorais said that he instructed that this preventative measure be taken following indications that CRA computer systems have run into infrastructure problems. In order to safeguard existing systems and to maintain the integrity of CRA’s taxpayer information holdings, Mr Dorais ordered tax filing processes halted.”

An article in The Globe and Mail [6] states that taxpayers “can wait for Netfile to return to service, or they can print their returns and mail them to the CRA”, which will be processed when the computer glitch is resolved.

The deadline for Canadians to submit tax returns is April 30. The CRA indicates it is too soon to speculate on whether the filing deadline will be extended. They expect to restore all services, including EFile and Netfile, well in advance of the filing deadline.[7]

The shutdown also affects third-party companies that prepare tax returns and electronically file the data using the EFile facility on behalf of clients. According to the CRA, millions of individual Canadians use the Netfile service each year.

The Agency will provide updates daily to the media until the situation is resolved.

Monday, October 2, 2006

File:Ignatieff-1.jpg

Michael Ignatieff has maintained his lead as voting concludes in the “Super Weekend” of delegate selection meetings for the Liberal Party of Canada‘s leadership convention. With 380 of 469 ridings reporting, the former Harvard professor leads with 1162 committed delegates, 30% of the total. Former Ontario premier, Bob Rae, is second with 767 delegates (19.8%), while former federal Environment minister Stephane Dion and former Ontario education minister Gerard Kennedy are battling for third place with 648 and 646 delegates respectively (16.7%). While no clear challenger to Ignatieff has emerged, analysts say that the frontrunner is vulnerable if an “Anybody but Ignatieff” movement emerges and the opposition to him coalesces around one of Rae, Dion or Kennedy on the convention floor in December.

“I feel I’m tremendously well placed,” Ignatieff told CBC News on Sunday, “I think I’ve earned their confidence and trust, but we do have two months to go.”

“It’s a different kind of campaign from here on in,” said Kennedy.

“The whole purpose of the exercise this weekend is to get in position where we can make a run for the prize,” Rae said.

“We have not the biggest machine, but the biggest heart,” Dion said of his campaign.

The results vary around the country. Rae, though a former Ontario premier, has come in third in that province with 17.3% delegate support, well behind Ignatieff and Kennedy who are neck-in-neck in Canada’s largest province with 27.3% and 26.7% support respectively.

In Quebec, Kennedy has proven to be weak, winning only 10 delegates or 1% of the province’s total while Ignatieff leads with 38.4% and Dion and Rae battle for second place with 29.1% and 24.2% support respectively.

Rae is the leader in Newfoundland, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island as well as in British Columbia where he is well ahead of Kennedy, Dion and Ignatieff in that order while Kennedy leads in Alberta where he has three more delegates than Ignatieff.

Ignatieff leads in Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Yukon and the Northwest Territories.

Across the country, the other four candidates all have less than 5% support. Former hockey great Ken Dryden has 189 delegates (4.9%), Joe Volpe has 172 delegates (4.4%), Scott Brison has won his home province of Nova Scotia but has only 148 delegates across the country (3.8%) and Martha Hall Findlay has won 41 delegates (1.1%) while 104 delegates (2.7%) are uncommitted. With the exception of the uncommitted delegates, the approximately 4,300 delegates elected this weekend are locked into supporting the candidates on whose behalf they have been chosen on the first ballot of the December 2-3 convention being held in Montreal but are free to support other candidates on subsequent ballots. They will be joined by approximately 1,000 delegates who will attend either because they are Members of Parliament, Senators or former Cabinet ministers or because they’ve been chosen by various committees. Nevertheless, this weekend’s results are expected to give a rough idea of what the first ballot results of the convention will be.

About 190,000 party members were eligible to vote in this weekend’s exercise.

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

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Ren and Stimpy. Bugs Bunny. Philip J. Fry and Professor Hubert Farnsworth on Futurama. Sparx. Bi-Polar Bear. Popeye the Sailor Man. Woody Woodpecker. You may not think you have ever heard Billy West, but chances are on a television program, a movie, a commercial, or as Howard Stern’s voice guru in the 1990’s, you have heard him. West’s talent for creating personalities by twisting his voice has made him one of a handful of voice actors—Hank Azaria and the late Mel Blanc come to mind—who have achieved celebrity for their talent. Indeed, West is one of the few voice actors who can impersonate Blanc in his prime, including characterizations of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd and other characters from Warner Bros. cartoons.

What is the fulcrum in Mr. West’s life that led him to realize a talent to shape personalities with his voice, and how did the discovery of that gift shape him? Wikinews reporter David Shankbone found that like many great comedians, West faced more sour early in life than he did sweet. The sour came from a physically and emotionally abusive alcoholic father (“I could tell you the kind of night I was going to have from the sound of the key in the door or the way the car pulled up.”), to his own problems with drug and alcohol use (“There is a point that you can reach in your life where you don’t want to live, but you haven’t made the decision to die.”).

I’m telling you stuff that I never said to anybody…

If sin, suffering and redemption feel like the stages of an endless cycle of American existence, West’s own redemption from his brutalized childhood is what helped shape his gift. He performed little bits to cheer up his cowed mother, ravaged by the fact she could not stop her husband’s abuse of young West. “I was the whipping boy and she would just be reduced to tears a lot of times, and I would come in and say stuff, and I would put out little bits just to pull her out of it.”

But West has also enjoyed the sweet. His career blossomed as his talent for creating entire histories behind fictional characters and creatures simply by exploring nuance in his voice landed him at the top of his craft. You may never again be able to forget that behind the voice of your favorite character, there is often an extraordinary life.

Below is David Shankbone’s interview with renowned voice actor Billy West, who for the first time publicly talks about the horrors he faced in his childhood; his misguided search for answers in anger, drugs and alcohol; and the peace he has achieved as one of America’s most recognizable voice actors.

Contents

  • 1 The use of celebrities for voiceovers
  • 2 Iconic characters and choosing projects
  • 3 Discovering his talent
  • 4 “It was a horror chamber where I grew up”
  • 5 West moves to Boston after his parents divorce
  • 6 How West dealt with his father’s abuse
  • 7 Rehabilitation and sobriety
  • 8 Is West glad he experienced addiction?
  • 9 West on his career
  • 10 West on politics
  • 11 Billy West on modern American society
  • 12 Billy West on telling it like it is
  • 13 Source

Sunday, November 27, 2016

More than a year after he was first charged, a judge on Friday sentenced London serial killer Stephen Port to life imprisonment without parole for four murders and a host of poisoning and sexual offences, calling him “wicked and monstrous”. Port was convicted of the murders on Wednesday.

Chef Port, 41, was first charged on October 18 last year and made his first court appearance the following day. He initially faced four counts of murder and four of “administering a poison with intent to endanger life or inflict grievous bodily harm”. Two days later a provisional trial date was set in April but Port did not end up entering his pleas of not guilty until July 25.

The truth sounded like a lie, so I lied to make it sound like the truth

Delays were caused by post-charge investigations. By then Port was also facing the remaining charges; six more of administering a poison, seven of rape, and four of assault by penetration. These charges involved eight additional [alleged] victims. The poisoning charges were changed to “administering a substance with intent to stupefy / overpower to allow sexual activity” by the time of the trial.

The case revolved around allegations Port drugged, raped, and murdered men at his London flat. The prosecution told jurors Port’s modus operandi was to arrange to meet gay men via Grindr and other gay dating sites, then administer sometimes-lethal overdoses of recreational drug GHB.

Three of the deaths occurred in 2014. Anthony Patrick Walgate, 23, was found dead on June 19, 2014 in Cooke Street. Port lived in Cooke Street. The other three victims were found in the vicinity of St. Margaret’s Church on North Street. Gabriel Kovari, 22, was discovered dead on August 28, 2014. Daniel Whitworth, 21, was found dead the following month on September 20, 2014. Fourth victim Jack Taylor, 25, was found a year later on September 14, 2015.

The Metropolitan Police has referred itself to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) concerning what police called “potential vulnerabilities in [our response] to the four deaths.” Police only linked the deaths less than a week before Port’s arrest.

Detectives released security footage of Taylor’s movements, with an officer telling the press “the man captured on CCTV may well be the last person to talk to Jack.” Shortly after Port was charged police again appealed for anybody with knowledge of him “no matter how insignificant” to come forward in what local press called a “highly unusual” move.

The ten male jurors and two women were warned at the opening of the trial to face potentially graphic evidence in “a cool, dispassionate and analytical manner” by Jonathan Rees QC, prosecuting. He told the court Port satisfied his “appetite for penetrating drugged young men”. The case was tried before Mr Justice Openshaw, who sentenced Port on Friday, at the Old Bailey, a famous London courthouse. Port was represented by David Etherington QC.

CCTV of Port and Taylor at Barking Train Station featured in the trial. After exchanging Grindr messages the duo agreed a meet for September 13, 2014; the day prior to Taylor’s body being found. The meeting was set for 3:00 at the station; Port is seen walking to the scene while Taylor arrives in a taxi. By 7:20 Port had blocked Taylor’s Grindr account and later that day deleted his own account.

I just thought he was disgusting and vile. He thought it was fine. He thought it was funny.

A rubbish collector found Taylor’s body, propped up and with his clothing ridden up as if he had been dragged. A bottle and bag of drugs were on his body, as was a syringe.

Port contacted Walgate on website Sleepyboys. Walgate worked as a prostitute and had notified a friend of the planned night “in case I get killed”. Port left the corpse outside his flat before phoning 999. Initially he denied knowing Walgate but later told police Walgate took drugs voluntarily while alone in the flat. Port, who said he “panicked” after returning from work to find Walgate dying, was imprisoned for eight months and released on licence after three in 2015 for lying in the investigation.

The prosecution told jurors Walgate was too cautious to consume drugs and it must have been Port who slipped him GHB, which led to death. Port’s 999 call was played to jurors; he hangs up early after saying he has to go to his parked car and the operator calls back to ask further questions. In the call Port says the man has apparently collapsed, is possibly drunk, and is a stranger to him.

Port was to tell police he slapped the man’s face and heard a “gurgling noise” in response, but a statement from the first paramedic on-scene stated the body was already cold when help arrived. After being alerted to the death by the ambulance service police tracked down Port. Pathologist Olaf Biedrzycki testified at the trial that Walgate’s death was due to GHB overdose, his underwear was both inside out and back to front, his fly was down, and there were fourteen injuries to the body.

Port’s police statement was that he had also propped the man into a sitting position, which was how paramedics found him. He said after ending the call he went to sleep rather than waiting for the ambulance. Walgate’s top was raised suggesting dragging of the body, and there were drugs in a holdall beside the body. After the trial the BBC reported a nearby CCTV camera was not working.

The bodies of both Kovari and Whitworth were found in the same spot as each other in St Margaret’s churchyard, about 500m (1600 feet) from Port’s home, within a month of each other. Both were found by Barbara Denham who testified she walked her dog at least once a day through the area. Like Walgate, both men were found sitting. Like Walgate, a bottle of GHB was with Whitworth’s body. Both of their clothing had again ridden up suggesting dragging. Whitworth was on a blue sheet; Port’s semen was on the sheet, which had come from his flat.

Whitworth’s body bore an apparent suicide note in which he seemed to blame himself for Kovari’s death, saying he had injected Kovari with GHB. The note said he could not confess to police for fear of his family seeing him going to prison. The note said “please do not blame the guy I was with last night, we only had sex and then I left, he knows nothing of what I have done.”

Rees told jurors an expert in handwriting analysis had ruled out Whitworth as the author and found it to be written by Port in what Rees called a “wicked” bid to frame Whitworth. Rees also said Port’s DNA was on the bottle of drugs on Whitworth’s corpse. Police initially accepted the note as genuine and did not investigate further; no effort was made to find who “the guy I was with last night” might be. The note was written on paper traced to Port’s flat, and in a plastic sleeve also traced to the flat.

Rees said the man was Port, the two having met via Fitlads, and that “cruel and manipulative” Port deleted his Fitlads account shortly after the meet. Rees also said Kovari told friends he had found a flat in the Barking area of London five days before he was found dead, alleging this was Port’s flat. Port’s defence was Whitworth had dictated the note to him.

Whitworth’s boyfriend, Ricky Waumsley, told the court Whitworth’s behaviour was inconsistent with guilty or suicidal thoughts. Waumsley also testified Port had never to his knowledge taken recreational drugs aside from experimenting with cannabis during a holiday in Amsterdam.

Katie Impey, a friend of Whitworth, said the deceased’s mother committed suicide and thereafter Whitworth viewed taking one’s own life as “the most selfish thing anyone could ever do, and you should never do it, so I know he didn’t kill himself.” Impey also spoke of the final conversation she had with her friend in which he spoke of a new romantic interest called Gab. “He was really excited. He said ‘I’ve met someone, he’s really artsy, he’s really cute, I don’t know how I’m going to tell Ricky’.”

The trial featured five months of content from a Facebook account named Jon Luck. Port’s computer was used to access the account, and Port admitted he was the user. The account was used to exchange messages with Kovari’s boyfriend Thierry Amodio, with Port pretending to be a Californian student who knew Kovari.

Port, via the Jon Luck account, told Amodio he spent two days with Kovari and that Kovari attended a drugs-fueled orgy with a man named Dan. Amodio was seeking information on his partner’s death; Port wrote “I hope he wasn’t murdered or anything like that as that would be awful.” After Amodio assured him this was unlikely Port replied “Thanks god for that I would hate anyone who could hurt him”.

Around the time of Whitworth’s death Port informed Amodio he had discovered Dan and Kovari had attended a party where young men were raped whilst drugged. Posing as Luck he said he had “been expecting [police] to come to my door any second cuss of my DNA and my messages on [Kovari’s] phone.” When Amodio told Port he’d been visited by police probing Whitworth’s death Port replied “OMG your joking[…] please don’t let them arrest me.”

please do not blame the guy I was with last night, we only had sex and then I left, he knows nothing of what I have done

Port would also press Amodio for information on police investigations and suggested Dan had accidentally killed Kovari with an overdose and then “did same to himself” because he “could not live with the guilt”, an apparent reference to Daniel Whitworth’s death. Amodio tried to get “Jon Luck” to contact police but this was never successful. Port told a neighbour Kovari died of infection in Spain after travelling to join somebody Kovari had met online.

Kovari had in fact moved from Spain to London, having been living with his Spanish boyfriend Thierry Amodio. After initially failing to find a place to live Kovari met John Pape. Pape allowed Kovari to stay with him, which he did for several weeks before securing a rented room with Port in the Barking area of London. Turning down an offer to stay longer, Kovari moved in with Port on August 23, 2014.

The same day Kovari sent another friend a map showing Port’s Cooke St home as his new abode. The next day Port invited friend and neighbour Ryan Edwards to meet Kovari. On August 25 Kovari texted Edwards “Stephen is not a nice person”. The same day Kovari messaged the friend he sent the map to, saying “I’m fine.”

Pape texted Kovari on August 26, asking “Hey, hows it going in Barking?” There was no reply. A text from Edwards to Port the same day asked “How is Gabriel?” Port responded Kovari had already moved out to live with “some soldier guy he had been chatting to online” in the area. The body was found two days later. The corpse was clad in sunglasses and Kovari’s possessions were in two bags beside him.

The first alleged victim to give evidence, a nineteen-year-old student when he encountered Port, told jurors he met Port via Grindr and accepted a glass of wine at Port’s flat. After noticing a bitter taste and sludge at the bottom of the glass, the complainant said he felt ill and upon sipping a second drink containing vodka he “felt so dizzy. I was ricocheting off the walls. The room was tilting.”

The man told the court he fell asleep and awoke naked on his front with Port raping him, describing himself as “half asleep, half aware of what was happening” before passing out again. He said he left the flat after coming round in the morning, still feeling the effects. The witness claimed that while he was considering having sex with Port when he arrived he did not at any stage consent.

The next alleged victim to give evidence, also a student, told the court he met Port via Fitlads. The witness said they met at Port’s flat on several occasions. He said he declined alcohol because he was Muslim but on his fourth visit he accepted a glass of coke. He said swallowing it caused an instant burning sensation like acid, but Port pled ignorance and they met a fifth time. On that occasion Port gave the man what he said was ‘poppers’, and a massage, according to the witness.

The witness said he fell asleep and on waking was given a glass of what Port claimed was water, which instantly knocked him out. “The next thing I remember I was on the floor screaming and shouting. It was like I was going mad.” The witness claimed he was naked and confused, not even recalling his own name.

Port drove the man to nearby Barking Rail Station. The victim was “screaming and shouting” and described Port “kind of dragging me along and holding me up.” Police and ambulance attended, with British Transport Police Constable Alesha Owers testifying Port seemed “worried and jittery” and accepted he had taken meth. Port claimed the man had turned up at his door and Port was helping him get home.

The witness did not give a statement to police, telling the trial he did not want his family to discover the encounters and simply wished to be home. He says on arriving he telephoned Port. “I was shouting at him: ‘What did you give me? What the hell did you give me, because it certainly wasn’t poppers?'[…] I got the impression it was a normal thing what happened to me.”

The witness added he had one final meeting with Port at the accused’s flat. Port, he claimed, apologised to him but still did not say what substance was involved.

He said, ‘I’m going to sit down here for a bit, I’m feeling tired.’

A transgender man in his early twenties told the court he met Port via Facebook and they met for sex because the witness was angry his boyfriend had cheated on him. The man said after consensual sex and drinking he passed out and Port filmed himself raping the complainant.

The witness claimed Port showed off the video the following morning: “I just thought he was disgusting and vile. He thought it was fine. He thought it was funny.” The witness told the court he “felt angry because you don’t carry on having sex with someone when they pass out. I said, ‘you’re disgusting.'”

Another man, now 24, told the court he met Port via Gaydar when he was 16 and grew close to Port as the man had few friends. He said Port pressured him into taking mephedrone and he passed out, wakening to find himself on his back with his legs over Port’s shoulders and Port raping him. He said he returned a week later, at which time Port again gave him mephedrone and raped him, as well as non-consensually injecting drugs into him. He told the court Port was “god in his flat”, someone “you did not argue with”. He told the Old Bailey “I didn’t feel like I was being treated like a person.”

The court was played six homemade sex tapes from Port’s phone, with police and prosecutors alleging they showed Port raping an unconscious 24-year-old man. The six were amongst over 80 sex tapes in total Port had made involving himself. The alleged victim testified that while he and Port had consensual sex and sniffed poppers after meeting via Manhunt he did not consent to any activity in the videos.

At least three other men can be seen or heard in the videos. Port sniffs a bottle in one video and tells an unidentified man “you fuck him”. In another an unidentified voice says “I’ll leave you guys to carry on, I have got work in the morning.” Port then says to a second man “Shall we do more stuff?” “Yeah babe” comes the reply.

Two of the rape charges are sample counts relating to the videos. Sample counts are a method by which prosecutors can try multiple similar crimes based on a single count. Port routinely browsed the Internet for rape-themed pornography.

Stephen Port’s own sister, Sharon Port, was a prosecution witness. She spoke of a conversation with her brother — who smiled when she entered court to testify against him — the day before Slovakian national Kovari’s body was found. Speaking quietly, she said she had rung him and found him “very distressed”; he said there was a corpse in his flat.

Sharon Port testified that the conversation left her with the understanding the pair had been doing drugs together and Kovari expired. She said she urged Stephen Port to alert the police; the following day, she drove from her Essex home to visit him after he became unresponsive to messages. She described her brother as quiet, and saying he had been released on police bail to return in a month or two.

You try to manipulate the evidence to fit the facts as you know them to be and you have done this throughout this case

Kovari’s body was found that day. Sharon Port said Stephen didn’t mention the incident again at the time.

After Rees finished, defence lawyer Etherington questioned her further. During this she added that in March 2015, when he was imprisoned for lies to police after the first death, Stephen told her that the conversation had not referred to a body at all. Instead, he was talking about another man altogether.

Two former partners of Port testified early in the trial. Both said the accused wore a wig to help him feel confident about his appearance, and one further said both would watch ‘twink’ porn together. In the gay community, slender young men are sometimes referred to as twinks. The man also testified Port “never tried any sexual acts I wasn’t happy with.” The court also heard Port was a prostitute and sometimes wore the wig to meet men. Port was said to have called Kovari his “new Slovakian twink flatmate” who was “quite cute, tall and skinny” to friends.

Port’s sister, during her evidence, spoke of a bullied, quiet schoolboy who revealed his sexuality at 26. She said their mother did not approve. She also testified she was wholly unaware of Port’s drug use until the August 2014 phone call and even after did not know which substances were involved.

Port gave evidence in his own defence. Starting on October 27 he spoke of his version of the deaths. He started with the death of Walgate, confirming he offered the student £800 to spend the night with him. Port claimed Walgate visited the bathroom during sex, returning “high and very rampant.” Port testified he was unaware what Walgate had taken but spoke of his own experiences with GHB, which he said “could knock you out” before reawakening aroused. Port said he used it to have “hyper high” sex and in one relationship it was normal for him to have sex with his partner while the latter was unconscious through GHB use.

Port claimed Walgate became unwell and slept at the flat; Port went to work that morning and returned to find the deceased still there and woke that night to discover the “very rigid” body. Port said he “just panicked” when he carried Walgate’s corpse outside to call an ambulance, lying about the circumstances because he was “in shock”.

The next day Port confirmed Kovari shared his flat and said the pair went to a party to take drugs and have sex. He said his “friend” Kovari left early with ‘Dan’.

Port testified he realised weeks later Dan was Daniel Whitworth, whom he had met online. He spoke of Kovari and Whitworth having sex at the party with several onlookers but said he would not be able to find where the party was held and did not know who lived there. He said Kovari and Whitworth went to his flat “to get a bit more privacy”.

Rees asserted Port was “caught out” in a lie. The prosecution claimed Whitworth could be placed in a pub elsewhere when the alleged party happened and Rees said Port’s account amounted to the pair getting “coy and bashful” after public sex. Rees asked Port to explain Whitworth’s presence “in two places at once”. “I’ve no idea. I just know it was as I remember it,” said Port.

Port said Whitworth later recounted to him a story in which Whitworth and Kovari had sex at St Margaret’s. After both passed out, Whitworth claimed he was unable to rouse Kovari and could not revive him.

“He said he panicked. He was going to call an ambulance but did not know what to do, so he left him.” Port said he reassured a worried and guilt-ridden Whitworth and urged him to go to police. Port and Whitworth had sex with drugs at Whitworth’s suggestion, Port said, before Whitworth dictated the suicide note.

“I thought it was just the [drugs] talking and he was just getting his emotions out of his system,” Port told jurors. “I didn’t believe he was actually going to do it. I would have stopped him. I would have done anything to prevent him doing it.” Port said he added the line reading “please do not blame the guy I was with last night.”

one of the most dangerous individuals I’ve encountered

Rees accused Port of manipulating evidence, saying he left a hoodie belonging to Kovari on Whitworth’s body alongside a bottle of GHB. Port countered he only agreed to write the suicide note because Whitworth promised sex in exchange for it. Port testified they did not in fact have sex because Whitworth gave him a drink laced with GHB, causing Port to fall unconscious.

“You are not suggesting he may have drugged you Mr Port?” asked Rees. “You are not suggesting he may have taken advantage of you whilst you were drugged?” Port confirmed this was possible, leading to Rees asking “Why did you raise the suggestion this young man may have raped or sexually assaulted you? Against this dead boy?” Port answered “I wouldn’t have minded if he did.”

“Come on, Mr Port!” Rees retaliated. “That’s not true, is it? You ‘top’ other people, they don’t top you. So you would have minded if he raped you whilst you were unconscious.” Port’s response was “It’s just a shame we didn’t get to do more together.” Rees later said “You just cannot bring yourself to accept the truth of what is going here. To the families. Lie after lie, that’s what’s being played out here in this court.”

He also recounted his time with Taylor. The pair met on Grindr and Port testified Taylor accepted a suggestion to get “mega high”, before the two left for “fresh air” and had “rampant” sex at St Margaret’s. Port described this in detail: “I realised our height difference was quite significant[…] It was a bit of a struggle at first, I had to hold him around the chest. Then we just had sex like that for two hours.”

Port testified he suggested going back to the flat; “He said, ‘I’m going to sit down here for a bit, I’m feeling tired.'” Port said he left around 2:30 in the morning and never saw Taylor again but he was “very much alive” at this point. He testified he left as he had a new job to go to the next day and did not expect anything further as Taylor “was not happy being gay.”

Port spoke of his previous accounts to police, especially his denials of knowing Taylor and Kovari while being uncertain if he knew Whitworth. He said “The truth sounded like a lie, so I lied to make it sound like the truth.” Under cross-examination from Rees, he also admitted his version was hard to accept and appeared as if he was a “determined liar to save your own skin”.

“The essence of it is, you like playing God and manipulating and controlling young men”, Rees told him in front of jurors. “The key to this case is you like penetrating young men who are unconscious. That is at the heart of this case, isn’t it? You try to manipulate the evidence to fit the facts as you know them to be and you have done this throughout this case.”

Rees asked “Do you agree it is never too late to tell the truth? Do you agree it would be a good thing for the families of the four dead men to learn the truth about what happened to them?” Port responded “of course.” After agreeing all four deceased met similar deaths shortly after being in his company, Port was asked “I know it’s very late in the day, Mr Port, would you care to change any part of your account you have given to the jury?” “No,” he replied.

The jury began deliberations on Monday last week, deliberating for over 28 hours. They faced a question of intent. The prosecution had to prove intent to cause very serious harm for a murder conviction. The prosecution case was Port administered GHB in a bid to cause comas, and Walgate’s death at least was likely unexpected. The jury had to decide if a coma met the test; if not, they could convict on alternative charges of manslaughter. The jury unanimously convicted Port of three murders, and by an 11–1 majority of Walgate’s murder.

Port was simultaneously convicted of most other charges and on Wednesday Mr Justice Openshaw informed jurors a 10–2 verdict would be acceptable for the remaining counts. Port was ultimately convicted of all charges against six surviving victims. He was also convicted of offences against a seventh but acquitted of raping him. The jury acquitted him of two rapes relating to an eighth man.

During Port’s trial one of his drug dealers, Peter Hirons, 48, separately pleaded guilty at Snaresbrook Crown Court to supplying ?MDMA, crystal meth, mephedrone, brephedrone, chloromsthcathinone, and GBL, the last being metabolised into GHB when ingested. He also admitted possessing £6,060 of drug-dealing proceeds. He was jailed for two and a half years. Gerald Matovu appeared before Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, charged with supplying Port with mephedrone and GHB.

If four young well-off women had been murdered in Mayfair, I believe the police would have made a public appeal much sooner and mounted a far more comprehensive investigation

Lead investigator DCI Tim Duffield called Port “one of the most dangerous individuals I’ve encountered”. Victims’ relatives clapped, cheered, and yelled as Port was sentenced.

Police were criticised early in the case after the LGBT website Pink News revealed a friend of Kovari had contacted them after the death. Pink News in turn contacted the Metropolitan Police but received assurances police did not view the death as suspicious. The revelations coincided with the police appeal following Port’s initial charges. “This appeal should have been made in June and August last year after the first two killings”, said human rights activist Peter Tatchell at the time. “If the police had done that, the killer may have been caught and some of these men might still be alive.”

Following murder convictions it was revealed Taylor’s family triggered the homicide investigation themselves after pressuring police. Taylor’s relatives have indicated they intend to sue the police. The IPCC probe is examining possible failings by seventeen officers. In July the IPCC appealed for anybody who raised concerns with police prior to the launch of the murder investigation to contact them, and revealed they had met with London’s LGBT community.

On Wednesday the IPCC reiterated its call for witnesses, revealing seven Metropolitan Police officers had been informed they faced gross misconduct probes and ten more faced less-serious misconduct probes. Officers under investigation rank from constable to inspector. British Transport Police are not under investigation.

IPCC Commissioner Cindy Butts said “It is important we establish whether the police response to the deaths of all four men was thorough and appropriate in the circumstances, including whether discrimination played any part in actions and decisions[…] our investigators are continuing to work hard to scrutinise the police response to the tragic deaths of these four young men.”

Tatchell accused police of “class, gender and sexuality bias” and called the verdict “no compensation for the loss of four young gay men who had their lives, hopes and dreams cut short.” “If four young well-off women had been murdered in Mayfair, I believe the police would have made a public appeal much sooner and mounted a far more comprehensive investigation”, he said on Wednesday. Tatchell said police could have prevented some murders; Taylor’s family agreed. “We do believe Jack would still be here if they had done their job” they said. “The police should be held accountable for Jack’s death. We do understand it’s not them who took Jack’s life, but Stephen Port would have been stopped.”

“This has been an incredibly detailed and wide-ranging inquiry with detectives not only investigating these crimes but providing full support to all the families and victims” said Stuart Cundy, a Metropolitan Police Commander. “Throughout this case we have worked very closely with the LGBT community” he added. Cundy claimed none of the surviving victims had been in touch with police prior to Port facing murder charges.

A Metropolitan Police statement said the force takes “Offences against members of the LGBT community[…] extremely seriously.” The force said it had 900 hate crimes investigators in addition to 150 specialist LGBT officers.

Cundy however acknowledged “potential missed opportunities” to catch Port. He said he has written to the deceaseds’ families, apologising. “I have offered to meet them if they would like to do so, both now and at the conclusion of the IPCC investigation.” He said police were co-operating with the IPCC probe.

When Port was arrested for perverting the course of justice police seized his laptop, but did not examine it. Detectives took advice from homicide specialists but a murder investigation was not launched and Port was released on bail while the Crown Prosecution Service considered charging him. Port murdered Kovari and Whitworth while on bail.

Port’s laptop, when eventually examined, showed Port first looked at Walgate’s escorting ad on June 13, 2014. On the same day he also sought out gay rape pornography. Searches included “sleeping boy”, “unconscious boys”, “drugged and raped”, “taking date rape drug”, “gay teen knocked out raped” and “guy raped and tortured young nude boy”. Friends of Walgate pressed police to examine the laptop, with one alleging police told her it was too expensive.

We can’t rule out the fact there may be other victims out there who suffered at Port’s hands and have yet to come forward

Amodio emailed a detective about the Jon Luck communications. Over several exchanges the detective asked Amodio to get Luck to contact him, but police did not take it upon themselves to trace Luck. Had they done so they would have found Port. Amodio also linked the deaths of Kovari and Whitworth to the earlier death of Walgate, but the detective told him the first death was “nothing about Gabriel or Daniel.”

Whitworth’s death also caused his friends to press police for further action, but police again did not treat the death as suspicious despite seeking advice from homicide specialists. Port’s DNA was on the blanket with Whitworth’s body; police already had his DNA from arresting Port during the Walgate investigation. Police did not trace his movements or investigate the man referred to in the apparent suicide note.

DCI Tony Kirk said to press the two deaths were “unusual and slightly confusing” but not murders. A pathologist found Whitworth had “bruising below both arms in the armpit regions which is unlikely to have been caused accidentally and may have resulted from manual handling of the deceased, most likely prior to death.” At inquest coroner Nadia Persaud recorded open verdicts and advised police to perform additional forensic tests, but this was not done.

Port was finally caught after Taylor’s murder when the victim’s older sisters linked his death to the other three. While pressing police to take action, they learned of CCTV showing Taylor and an unidentified person. Taylor’s sisters convinced police to release the footage in a bid to trace the man; when this was done, another officer recognised Port from the footage. He was arrested and the case became a murder probe.

Police are re-examining a further 58 fatal GHB overdoses from June 2011 to October 2015. “We can’t rule out the fact there may be other victims out there who suffered at Port’s hands and have yet to come forward,” Cundy said. “We would appeal for them to contact us as soon as possible.”

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Boxing great Muhammed Ali dies aged 74

Posted July 27th, 2019 by F4GKcb4Y

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Legendary boxing great Muhammed Ali died on Friday aged 74 in a hospital in Phoenix, Arizona in the United States. A family spokesperson said Ali had been admitted with respiratory problems. The former heavyweight champion lived with Parkinson’s disease for decades, diagnosed in 1984.

Born on January 17, 1942 as Cassius Marcellus Clay, he changed his name to Muhammed Ali after his 1964 conversion to Islam. In his professional career, Ali won 56 out of 61 fights — including 31 consecutive wins. He won the World Heavyweight Championship three times and had also won an Olympic gold medal in the light-heavyweight category.

Often considered the greatest boxer of all time, Ali was the world heavyweight champion in the 1960s and 1970s. His famous fights with George Foreman in 1974 when he won his title back and against Joe Frazier are considered by many as two of the greatest fights in the sport’s history. Ali had also defeated Sonny Liston to claim the championship title.

Ali was also known as a political activist. He came under considerable controversy after his decision to refuse the Vietnam War draft.

He lit the flame in the 1996 Olympics hosted in Atlanta.

His funeral is to be in Kentucky.

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.