Egyptian treasures found in ancient tomb

Friday, March 13, 2009

A team of archaeologists excavating an Ancient Egyptian tomb have discovered golden jewelry in a recently-discovered lower chamber at the Valley of the Kings burial site in Luxor, Egypt.

Two golden rings and five golden earrings were found in the tomb of Djehuty, an 18th-dynasty official of Queen Hatshepsut, and were probably the property of Djehuty or his family.

The discovery was announced by Farouk Hosni, Egypt’s current Minister of Culture.

Djehuty was overseer of the treasury and overseer of works for the Queen. Hatshepsut reigned approximately 1479–1458 BCE. Djehuty was responsible for managing the huge amounts of precious goods brought in from Egypt’s military expedition to Punt in the Horn of Africa and the vast building projects of Hatshepsut which have made the female pharaoh one of the most-remembered of any from ancient Egypt.

Djehuty died after Hatshepsut did, sometime during the reign of Thutmosis III. Both Hatshepsut’s and Thutmosis’s names are recorded on the tomb. In a fashion typical of ancient Egyptian rivalries, Hatshepsut’s name was partly obscured on the monument over the tomb sometime after the queen’s death.

The team, led by José Manuel Galán of the National Research Center (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, CSIC), in Madrid, Spain, had been excavating the tomb, designated TT11 and located in the necropolis of Dra’ Abu el-Naga’, since 2002. While much of Djehuty’s funerary equipment was lost to fire in antiquity, the lower chamber of his tomb was concealed at the end of a three-meter shaft and discovered at the end of 2008.

A superficial description of the tomb itself was recorded almost two hundred years ago by 19th-century French Egyptologist Jean-François Champollion, rubble blocking the entrance hindered excavation until the 21st century. In that time, emphasis in Egyptology has changed from the cataloging of treasures to the investigation of ancient culture, life and religion.

Since excavation began, Djehuty’s tomb has yielded a number of surprises. It was discovered that the tomb was re-used repeatedly up to and during the Greco-Roman period. There is an unusual face-on depiction of pharaoh Thutmosis III hunting ducks, and the mummy of a young, bejewelled, as-yet unidentified woman.

In 2007, 44 preserved bunches of flowers thought to be from Djehuty’s funeral were found in the site. In their 8th season of excavation, which ended on February 22, 2009, the team also found considerable evidence that below Djehuty’s tomb is a network of burial sites from the 11th dynasty, four thousand years old.

The lower chamber also displays passages from the Egyptian funerary text the Book of the Dead on its walls and a colorful mural of the goddess Nut, an embodiment of the heavens, on the ceiling. The names of Djehuty and his parents were also intact in the second chamber; the names were defaced in the previously-known first chamber of the tomb, which had also been looted.

According to a press release from Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, Djehuty’s tomb is only the fifth known decorated burial chamber of the 18th dynasty. An additional unusual feature of the tomb is that its upper chamber is decorated in relief, rather than simply paint. When the excavation is completed, Dr Galán’s team plans to open the site to the public as the carved stoneworks will not be destroyed by tourists’ activities as paint would.

The identification of Djehuty is a complicated one, as a number of officials of the 18th dynasty bore the name, including a general and several governors. The name itself is an alternate transliteration of the name of the Egyptian god usually written in English as Thoth.

Cassini discovers Saturn moon atmosphere

Saturday, March 19, 2005

NASA‘s Saturn exploration spacecraft, Cassini, has discovered an atmosphere about the moon Enceladus. This is the first such discovery by Cassini, other than Titan, of the presence of an atmosphere around a Saturn moon.

Enceladus’s gravity is too weak to hold an atmosphere around the planet, leading scientists to believe that volcanism, geysers, or gases escaping from the surface or the interior as a continuous source for the atmosphere.

The atmosphere was detected using a magnetometer during two close flybys of Enceladus on February 17 and March 9. The magnetometer is used to measure the magnitude and direction of magnetic fields surrounding Saturn and its moons. The magnetometer detected a bending of Saturn’s magnetic field around the moon, indicating the Saturnian plasma is being diverted away from an extended atmosphere. The observations from the Enceladus flybys are believed to be due to ionized water vapor.

“These new results from Cassini may be the first evidence of gases originating either from the surface or possibly from the interior of Enceladus,” said Dr. Michele Dougherty, principal investigator for the Cassini magnetometer and professor at Imperial College in London.

Scientists have suspected Enceladus as geologically active and a possible source of Saturn’s icy E ring. Enceladus is the most reflective object in the solar system, reflecting about 90 percent of the sunlight that hits it.

Cassini first arrived in Saturn orbit July 1, 2004, releasing the Huygens Titan probe on December 25, 2004 which landed on Titan January 14, 2005.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Cassini orbiter was designed, developed and assembled at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Blair will quit as British PM within a year

Thursday, September 7, 2006

British Prime Minister Tony Blair bowed to pressure from within his own Labour Party today by publicly confirming he will resign within a year. “I would have preferred to do this in my own way,” said Blair who added “the next party conference in the next couple of weeks will be my last party conference as party leader.” However, he refused to name the specific date of his resignation, “The precise timetable has to be left to me and has to be done in the proper way,” Blair insisted. “I’m not going to set a precise date now. I don’t think that’s right. I will do that at a future date, and I will do that in the interests of the country.”

He apologised for the party’s conduct this week saying it “has not been our finest hour, to be frank”.

Demands that Blair announce his resignation plans have mounted over the past few months particularly over concerns about the Prime Minister’s strong support for Israel during the Israel-Hezbollah war, the perception that he is a loyal follower of United States President George W. Bush and a precipitous slide in Labor’s support in public opinion polls where the party is now at a 16 year low.

Yesterday, eight Labour MPs resigned from their junior government positions over Blair’s refusal to announce his retirement. They had previously been considered staunch Blairites. The British press reports of a shouting match yesterday between Blair and his likeliest successor, Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown over the handover date.

“I want to make it absolutely clear today that when I met the prime minister yesterday, I said to him, as I have said on many occasions to him and I repeat today, that it is for him to make the decision,” Brown said.

“I said also to him, and I make clear again today, that I will support him in the decisions he makes, that this cannot and should not be about private arrangements but what is in the best interests of our party and, most of all, the best interests of our country.”

Despite Blair’s announcement, several MPs expressed their dissatisfaction at his refusal to name a precise date and demanded that he leave sooner rather than later.

Manchester Blakeley MP Graham Stringer told the BBC if Blair “thought it was going to take the politics out of the next nine months that simply is not going to happen”.

MP Doug Henderson said “It doesn’t seem to me that the public knows any more about the PM’s retirement plans. People keep saying to me that the Labour party must have a clear direction forward with clear priorities and a new leader before the May 2007 (regional) elections.”

The eight MPs who resigned as junior ministers or parliamentary secretaries, Wednesday, expressed a concern in their resignation letter that Blair needed to go soon in order not to harm the party’s prospects in next May’s elections to the Scottish parliament, Welsh assembly and English local authorities.

Blair became Prime Minister in 1997 when Labour defeated the Conservative government of John Major. He has led the party to three majority victories and promised before the last election that his third term would be his last.

Wikinews interviews specialists on China, Iran, Russia support for al-Assad

Monday, September 23, 2013

Over the past week, diplomatic actions have averted — or, at least delayed — military strikes on Syria by the United States. Wikinews sought input from a range of international experts on the situation; and, the tensions caused by Russia’s support for the al-Assad regime despite its apparent use of chemical weapons.

Contents

  • 1 Interviewees
  • 2 Wikinews Q&A
    • 2.1 China
    • 2.2 Iran
    • 2.3 Russia
  • 3 Related news

File:Ghouta chemical attack map.svg

Tensions in the country increased dramatically, late August when it was reported between 100 and 1,300 people were killed in an alleged chemical attack. Many of those killed appeared to be children, with some of the pictures and video coming out of the country showing — according to witnesses — those who died from apparent suffocation; some foaming at the mouth, others having convulsions.

Amongst Syria’s few remaining allies, Iran, China, and Russia continue to oppose calls for military intervention. In an effort to provide a better-understanding of the reasoning behind their ongoing support, the following people were posed a range of questions.

Eleventh Docudays UA concludes

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Eleventh International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival Docudays UA, in Kyiv, Ukraine, ended on Friday.

The Awards Ceremony was held in the Red Hall of the Kyiv Cinema House. There were 36 documentary films competing for prizes in three festival programs: DOCU/Short, DOCU/Right, DOCU/Life. There were also special prizes from Students’ Jury, Audience Award, and the Andriy Matrosov Award from Docudays UA Organizing Committee.

The special guest of the Awards Ceremony was a symbol of the festival — Nikita Mikhalko. He is featured on the official posters of the festival. Nikita was on Maidan Nezalezhnosti on February 19, in the morning. The picture of him was chosen by the organizers as the “image that would deliver the spirit of our [Docudays UA] festival to the best of its possible might”. The piece of movie where he is taking tangerines from a woman that morning has become the official trailer of the festival. The episode is featured in the opening film of the festival Euromaidan: Rough Cut. Thus Nikita and his burning glasses have become the symbols of the festival. The organizers decided to find out who the symbol of the festival was, and if he was alive. They have started looking for him and luckily, they were able to ask him to come as a special guest of the Awards Ceremony. Nikita had the opportunity to say on the microphone, “Slava Ukraini” (Glory to Ukraine), and have the whole hall hollering back at him, “Heroiam Slava” (Glory to the Heroes).

The Eleventh Docudays UA Winners are (in the order of awarding):

Audience Award

The Audience Award went to Joanna, directed by Aneta Kopacz, Poland, 2013.

Student’s Jury Award

The Students’ Jury Award went to Tucker and the Fox, directed by Arash Lahooti, Iran, 2013, awarded for “an optimistic story about a life-long passion”.

DOCU/Short

Joanna, directed by Aneta Kopacz, Poland, 2013, received special mention. The jury chose it for “filmmaker’s ability to be both intimate and discreet”

Mom, directed by Lidia Sheinina, Russia, 2013, received special mention for “ability of the filmmaker to find in the closed world of one apartment ‘things that quicken the heart'”.

The main prize went to Liza, Go Home!, directed by Oksana Buraja, Lithuania, Estonia, 2012. The film was awarded for “filmmaker’s poetic sensibility and respect for other humans’ secrets”.

Andrei Zagdansky, a Ukrainian-American, was awarding. The other two members of the jury were Victoria Belopolskaya of Russia, and Stéphanie Lamorré of France.

DOCU/Right

No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka, directed by Callum Macrae, UK, 2013, received special mention. The film was awarded for “the powerful use of video advocacy in global awareness-raising and opinion-shaping regarding the mass murders of civilians belonging to a Tamil minority in Sri Lanka”.

Captain and His Pirate, directed by Andy Wolff, Belgium, Germany, 2012, received special mention for “exceptional courage of the film crew and an outstanding presentation of international piracy phenomenon as presented by a victim and his prison guard”.

The main prize went to Mother’s Dream, directed by Valerie Gudenus, Switzerland, 2013. The jury awarded the film for “a highly sensitive, empathic, and artistic presentation of a controversial and socially resonant human rights problem, affecting the fates of women and children globally”.

Natalka Zubar of Ukraine announced the winners. The other two members of the jury were Andrzej Poczobut of Belarus, and Oksana Sarkisova of Hungary.

DOCU/Life

Crepuscule, directed by Valentyn Vasyanovych, Ukraine, 2014, received special mention. The film was awarded for “a visually and emotionally superior depiction of human resilience, sensibility, and interdependence”.

Night Labor, directed by David Redmon and Ashley Sabin, USA, Canada, 2013, received special mention for “a provocative, atypical, allegorical description of industrial work and personal freedom”.

The main prize went to The Last Limousine, directed by Daria Khlestkina, Russia, 2014, awarded for “a dignified, compassionate portrayal of state-factory workers lost in transition, but not in humanity”. The jury mentioned the film was perfectly casted.

The whole jury was present: Boris Miti? of Serbia, Chris McDonald of Canada, and Simone Baumann of Germany.

Andriy Matrosov Award from the Docudays UA Organizing Committee

The Andrey Matrosove Award went to A Diary of a Journey, directed by Piotr Stasik, Poland, 2013.

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People are gathering. Image: Antanana.

A queue is forming. Image: Antanana.

The Red Hall of the Kyiv Cinema House. Image: Antanana.
The hosts of the event are the journalists Andrii Saichuk and Nataliia Humeniuk. Image: Antanana.
Nataliia Humeniuk, translator and photographer. Image: Antanana.
Nikita Mikhalko is featured on the festival poster and trailer. Image: Antanana.
The festival gift shop team is giving the Audience Award. Image: Antanana.
The film Joanna (director Aneta Kopacz, Poland, 2013) is awarded. Image: Antanana.
The representative of Aneta Kopacz is taking the prize. Image: Antanana.
The Students’ Jury: Viktor Kylymar, Oleksandr Shkrabak, Halia Vasylenko, Petro Vyalkov, Tetyana Chesalova. Image: Antanana.
Tucker and the Fox (director Arash Lahooti, Iran, 2013) is awarded. Image: Antanana.
The googles would help him to film even more. Image: Antanana.
The Festival diploma. Image: Antanana.
The cobblestone from Maidan Nezalezhnosti is the main festival trophy. Image: Antanana.
The trophy goes to Iran. Image: Antanana.
Andrei Zagdansky (Ukraine) announces the winners for DOCU/Short. Image: Antanana.
The first special mention: Joanna (Aneta Kopacz, Poland, 2013). Image: Antanana.
The representative of the director. Image: Antanana.
The 2nd special mention: Mom (director Lidia Sheinina, Russia, 2013). Image: Antanana.
Main prize: Liza, Go Home! (director Oksana Buraja, Lithuania, Estonia, 2012). Image: Antanana.
The journalist, director Natalka Zubar. Image: Antanana.
Special mention: No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka (director Callum Macrae, UK, 2013) Anthem of Ukraine. Image: Antanana.
Special mention: Captain and His Pirate (director Andy Wolff, Belgium, Germany, 2012). Image: Antanana.
Main prize: Mother’s Dream (director Valerie Gudenus, Switzerland, 2013). Image: Antanana.
Ambassador of Switzerland to Ukraine Christian Schoenenberger is taking the prize. Image: Antanana.
Chris McDonald (Canada), Simone Baumann (Germany). Image: Antanana.
Special mention: Crepuscule (director Valentyn Vasyanovych, Ukraine, 2014). Image: Antanana.
Boris Miti? (Serbia), Simone Baumann. Image: Antanana.
Special mention: Night Labor (directors David Redmon and Ashley Sabin, USA, Canada, 2013). Image: Antanana.
Main prize: The Last Limousine (director Daria Khlestkina, Russia, 2014). Image: Antanana.
The Last Limousine. Image: Antanana.
Daria Khlestkina. Image: Antanana.
The cobblestone from Maidan Nezalezhnosti is taken to Moscow. Image: Antanana.
Andriy Matrosov Award from the Organizing Committee. Image: Antanana.
A Diary of a Journey (director Piotr Stasik, Poland, 2013) is awarded. Image: Antanana.

After the ceremony The Last Limousine, the winning film of DOCU/Life program, was screened.

The festival was first held in 2003, called at that time Docudays on Human Rights. In 2006 the festival was accepted as part of the international Human Rights Film Network at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam. It is usually held during the last week of March.

Australian man allegedly ignites carpet, plastic with static electricity

Saturday, September 17, 2005

A story about a man carrying over 30,000 (sometimes reported as 40,000) volts of static electricity in his body, allegedly generated by a wool sweater and nylon jacket combination, is circulating through major news outlets. The story, carried first by the Warrnambool Standard, says that the man, Frank Clewer, a 58-year old cleaner from Dennington, involuntarily created a scene by causing fire departments to evacuate three buildings where he had left his mark, before he realized he was causing the burn marks on carpets and allowed the fire department to help him.

The story has been picked up by The Register, Guardian, BBC, USA Today, Reuters, local agencies of ABC, the San Francisco Chronicle, and other news outlets.

Several unanswered objections mark the story as a possible hoax:

  • Clewer enters and exits his car several times in the story — if he opened the car by touching its presumably metal lock, he would surely release some electricity into the car through his hand; everyone has at some point experienced the painful shock of touching a door handle or car keys to a lock. Though the car might not be grounded, it would still be at a lower potential and thus energy would be transferred. This would be noticeable; the story does not comment that Clewer understood what was happening to him.
  • Firefighters supposedly “used a device to check static electricity on him and his belongings.” While firefighters would be likely to carry a high-voltage multimeter around to measure the current and voltage ratings of downed power lines, it is unlikely that the same device could measure such a large voltage resulting from a very small amount of static energy without de-electrifying it.
  • For such a large voltage to be stored, humidity would have to have been extremely low on that day for the air around him not to ionize and source current, removing the static energy.
  • If he was carrying such a large voltage, his hair would probably have stood on end, as this is a notable effect when one touches a Van de Graaf generator. Note: It is uncertain at what voltage this effect begins, and since Van de Graaf machines routinely exceed Megavolts of electric potential, this may not be a verifiable objection.
  • This statement: “Firefighters took possession of Clewer’s jacket and stored it in the courtyard of the fire station, where it continued to give off a strong electrical current.” (Reuters UK) First, there is no reason they would need to take possession of the jacket — the static electricity could be dealt with by simply dumping water on it. Second, the jacket could not “give off” an electric current without some continuous source of energy, which, in storage, is impossible. It is possible that the jacket could hold a voltage, but the effects of this would not be visible — if they were, they would be short-lived as the jacket would lose its static energy. In any event, the current would be miniscule.
  • The amount of energy stored on Clewer’s person and possessions could not have been more than a few Joules; this is unlikely to have burned carpet.

The equation for stored energy in capacitors is:

U = ( C × V 2 ) / 2 {\displaystyle U=(C\times V^{2})/2}

Where U = energy, C = capacitance, and V = voltage. A human body by itself typically has a capacitance of around 250 pF, which would mean a voltage of 30,000 V would produce energy of 0.11 joules. Even if Clewer’s possessions resulted in a parallel capacitance of 1 microfarad, this would still only result in an energy storage of 450 J. This amount of energy would be insufficient to burn carpet or char plastic, although a spark could ignite flammable vapor or gas.

Bat for Lashes plays the Bowery Ballroom: an Interview with Natasha Khan

Friday, September 28, 2007

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

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

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

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


DS: Do you have any favorite books?

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

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

NK: I haven’t seen it yet!

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

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

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

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

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

NK: I don’t think I’m very good…

DS: You look cool with it!

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

DS: Do you design your own clothes?

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

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

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

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

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

DS: —as are you—

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DS: Is it always pine trees that you see?

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

DS: What things in nature inspire you?

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

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

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

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

NK: Oh. My. God.

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

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

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

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

DS: How are you received in the Pakistani community?

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

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

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

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

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

International Board fixes soccer field size, halts technology experiments

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The International Football Association Board (IFAB), the body that decides on the laws of the game, has decided to discontinue all experiments involving technology, and for the first time has also decided on the exact size of a soccer field.

Instead of pursuing the idea of using cameras or microchips in the ball to see if it has crossed the goal-line, the International Board wants to see if the introduction of two extra assistant referees can improve the quality of referee’s decisions.

FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke declared: “We have decided to freeze for the time being the goal-line technology and all technology experiments. We will look on these two additional referees and we avoid considering any goal-line technology during this time.”

FIFA President Sepp Blatter said the move was necessary to maintain the universal spirit of the game: “We have 260 million people directly involved in the game. If we maintain the laws of the game … it’s so easy to understand … We have to live with errors, football has to keep its human face.”

“We have to maintain the laws of the game in their simplicity. Do you want technical devices to take decisions? That’s why, after three years of tests with no conclusions, I am in favour of putting the whole thing on ice,” Blatter explained.

Either you help them with additional pairs of eyes or with technology and I’m against technology. Once you start, who knows where you might stop. The 18-yard line, the offside trap? All I’m saying is let’s try my idea.

UEFA president Michel Platini agreed: “Football should stay human, but two more officials can help, especially around the goal.” Platini made the suggestion to freeze all investigations into technology and to try two additional assistants behind each goal.

Blatter said the system using the microchip “was very complicated, needing electrified lines on the field of play and other devices including antennae and when we tested it in Tokyo last year there was one mistake during the seven matches we used as an experiment at the Club World Championship.” With regards to the system using cameras, he pointed to “problems with players obscuring the views of the cameras, or of flares or weather conditions.”

The system of the extra referees will be tested at an upcoming FIFA or UEFA tournament, and a final ruling is expected at next year’s meeting, according to FIFA’s Jerome Valcke.

Hawk-Eye, the company that was working on the goal-line technology that is already being used for line calls in tennis, reacted with disappointment: “I’m livid, it is completely out of the blue… A year ago they met and gave us four criteria to meet and we have met all of them, yet they have kicked it out now… We have invested an awful lot of money and now we have no return on that investment,” director Paul Hawkins said. He said he was encouraged to continue research on the project only 10 days ago at a private showing for IFAB members at Reading’s Madejski Stadium.

The FA has always been in the vanguard of helping referees make the right decisions. The two experiments that were being undertaken went a long way to making it work. One was very close to being successful and the other two-thirds of the way. We are disappointed they have now been shelved. It’s hard enough to recruit referees already.

While the Welsh FA were also against the idea, the English Football Association supported the use of technology and was hoping to start using it by next season. The FA clubs and referees supported the use of Hawk-Eye technology, said Mike Foster, general secretary of the English Premier League. A spokesperson of the Premier League said that “A lot of time, money and effort has gone into developing a system that meets all the criteria laid down last year.” The Scottish and Northern Irish FA also voted in favour of the goal-line technology.

FA chief executive Brian Barwick expressed his disappointment at the annual meeting of the IFAB in Gleneagles, Scotland: “We were in favour of goal-line technology but there will be no more experiments and it will not be back on the agenda next year, or in the foreseeable future.”

FIFA President Blatter denied ulterior motives for the decision: “There has been no change of heart. Referees make decisions, not machines… I have defended goal-line technology but it has become clear that such systems are too complicated and very costly. Nor would they necessarily add anything positive to the game and could harm the authority of the referee.”

Fire kills eleven at oil worker housing in Alkhobar, Saudi Arabia

Monday, August 31, 2015

A fire in the eastern Saudi city of Alkhobar tore through a housing complex for oil workers yesterday, killing eleven, according to civil officials.

The Radium complex is rented by oil firm Aramco for their employees. According to nearby resident Mohammed Siddique the fire broke out early in the morning. Siddique says the building contains locals, as well as Westerners and Asians. The cause is unclear but the civil defence ministry tweeted “Cars and furniture caught fire in the basement of one of the towers”.

Over 200 people were injured. Firefighters scaled the burning tower on ladders, and helicopters were on-scene. Other towers in the complex were evacuated. Thick smoke from the blaze complicated rescue efforts.

Aramco CEO Amin H. Nasser said the firm is “deeply saddened to learn of the fatalities and injuries. We offer heartfelt condolences to the families. Our immediate priority is to provide full support to those affected by this tragic incident.” Aramco, which produces and exports more crude oil than any competitor worldwide, say the fire is under investigation.

Stolen laptop found; had over 98,000 students’ personal data

Sunday, September 18, 2005

San Francisco police have recovered a laptop stolen on March 11 from the University of California, Berkeley. The laptop was left unattended in the Graduate Division and contained personal information on 98,369 graduate students and applicants going as far back as 1976. This information included names, birth dates, addresses, and Social Security numbers.

The Silicon Valley forensic lab which analyzed the laptop said it had been reformatted, making it very difficult to determine if the data had been accessed. “There’s nothing in the Police Department investigation that points to any type of identity theft or credit card theft” said university spokeswoman Janet Gilmore.

The laptop was stolen by an unknown woman, who sold it to Shuki Alburati, who sold the laptop to an unsuspecting South Carolina man. Shuki Alburati was arrested on June 8 for receiving stolen property; he has been charged with one misdemeanor count.

He claims he didn’t know the laptop, a new IBM X40 worth $2,429, was stolen. He purchased the laptop from the woman, who said it wasn’t stolen, for $300 or $340. A few days later, on April 19, he placed the laptop on eBay. The winning bidder was a man in South Carolina who bought the laptop for $1,195.50. Police have said this man is not a suspect. Police were alerted by IBM after the man called IBM for tech support.

Shuki Alburati has pleaded not guilty. He claimed “It’s unfair, I didn’t know it was stolen.” His trial is scheduled for Sept. 30 before Superior Court Judge Michael Gaffey in Oakland. The woman who stole the laptop has not yet been found.