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

Friday, September 28, 2007

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

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

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

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


DS: Do you have any favorite books?

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

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

NK: I haven’t seen it yet!

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

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

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

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

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

NK: I don’t think I’m very good…

DS: You look cool with it!

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

DS: Do you design your own clothes?

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

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

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

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

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

DS: —as are you—

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DS: Is it always pine trees that you see?

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

DS: What things in nature inspire you?

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

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

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

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

NK: Oh. My. God.

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

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

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

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

DS: How are you received in the Pakistani community?

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

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

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

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

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

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Joe Hockey agrees to lobby states to ditch tampon tax

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Joe Hockey agrees to lobby states to ditch tampon tax
June 21st, 2019 | Uncategorized |

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Australian treasurer Joe Hockey has agreed to reconsider the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on tampons and other hygiene products after being confronted about the issue on Q&A Monday night. Mr Hockey was responding to a question from student activist Subeta Vimalarajah.

“I started a petition against taxing the sanitary products under the GST. It now has over 86,000 signees and 11,000 submissions to the Better Tax Review. Mr Hockey, do you think that sanitary products are an essential health good for half the population?” she asked.

“Do I think sanitary products are essential? I think so,” Mr Hockey responded “Should the GST be taken off them? It probably should, yes. The answer is yes.”

He said that he will raise the issue with the next meeting of the state treasurers in July.

“I understand there’s long been a push to take the GST off goods, which are one way or another regarded as health products,” Prime Minister Tony Abbott said. “It’s certainly not something that this Government has a plan to do.”

He said he interpreted Joe Hockey’s remarks as meaning it was a matter for the states.

Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen said the matter deserved serious consideration.

“Why did it take till Mr Hockey was asked a question on live TV for him to acknowledge this was an issue?” he asked.

“I understand the concerns with taxing sanitary products — concerns that go back to the introduction of the GST by the Coalition.

“These are in effect health products and aren’t simply a matter of choice for women.”

The GST was introduced in Australia in 2000. The then Prime Minister John Howard said the tax on tampons was not a woman’s issue.

“I mean, of course if you look at tampons in isolation – just as you look at something else in isolation – you can mount an argument to take the tax off it,” Mr Howard said at the time.

“I could mount an argument to take the tax off children’s clothes. I could mount an argument to take the tax off old people’s clothes, I could mount an argument for a whole lot of things. But we’ve had that argument and if you start doing that, you will have no GST in the end, and the whole system will begin to unravel.”

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Police report drug haul seizure worth up to £30 million in Brownhills, England

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Police report drug haul seizure worth up to £30 million in Brownhills, England
June 20th, 2019 | Uncategorized |

Monday, December 2, 2013

Police in the West Midlands in England today said nearly 200 kilograms worth of drugs with value possibly as great as £30 million (about US$49 million or €36 million) has been seized from a unit in the town of Brownhills. In what an officer described as “one of the largest [seizures] in the force’s 39 year history”, West Midlands Police reported recovering six big cellophane-wrapped cardboard boxes containing cannabis, cocaine, and MDMA (“ecstasy”) in a police raid operation on the Maybrook Industrial Estate in the town on Wednesday.

The impact this seizure will have on drug dealing in the region and the UK as a whole cannot be underestimated

The seized boxes, which had been loaded onto five freight pallets, contained 120 one-kilogram bags of cannabis, 50 one-kilogram bags of MDMA, and five one-kilogram bricks of cocaine. In a press release, West Midlands Police described what happened after officers found the drugs as they were being unloaded in the operation. “When officers opened the boxes they discovered a deep layer of protective foam chips beneath which the drugs were carefully layered”, the force said. “All the drugs were wrapped in thick plastic bags taped closed with the cannabis vacuum packed to prevent its distinctive pungent aroma from drawing unwanted attention.” Police moved the drugs via forklift truck to a flatbed lorry to remove them.

Detective Sergeant Carl Russell of West Midlands Police’s Force CID said the seizure was the largest he had ever made in the 24 years he has been in West Midlands Police and one of the biggest seizures the force has made since its formation in 1974. “The impact this seizure will have on drug dealing in the region and the UK as a whole cannot be underestimated”, he said. “The drugs had almost certainly been packed to order ready for shipping within Britain but possibly even further afield. Our operation will have a national effect and we are working closely with a range of law enforcement agencies to identify those involved in this crime at whatever level.”

Expert testing on the drugs is ongoing. Estimates described as “conservative” suggest the value of the drugs amounts to £10 million (about US$16.4 million or €12 million), although they could be worth as much as £30 million, subject to purity tests, police said.

Police arrested three men at the unit on suspicion of supplying a controlled drug. The men, a 50-year-old from Brownhills, a 51-year-old from the Norton area of Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire, and one aged 53 from Brownhills, have been released on bail as police investigations to “hunt those responsible” continue. West Midlands Police told Wikinews no person has yet been charged in connection with the seizure. Supplying a controlled drug is an imprisonable offence in England, although length of jail sentences vary according to the class and quantity of drugs and the significance of offenders’ roles in committing the crime.

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Jawbone found in Aruba is not Natalee Holloway’s">
Jawbone found in Aruba is not Natalee Holloway’s

June 20th, 2019 | Uncategorized |

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A jawbone found in Aruba is not that of missing American Natalee Holloway, who was a recent high school-graduate at the time of her disappearance. Officials confirmed the news after Dutch scientists completed tests on the bone. The jawbone, which also had a wisdom tooth with it, was found by an American tourist close to the Phoenix Hotel. A second bone had also been found by another tourist earlier this month.

The bone was sent to the Netherlands Forensic Institute where scientists completed tests. They compared the bone to dental records given to them by Natalee’s father, from which they confirmed the the bone was not that of Natalee, although it was human. It was said to be unlikely that the bone was Holloway’s as there is no physical evidence that she was murdered.

Beth accepts the forensic conclusions, is emotionally exhausted from the inexplicably long wait, and deeply disappointed in the time and manner in which she learned of the results.

Taco Stein, the Aruban Solicitor General, released a statement after the announcement was made. He commented on the speed of the identification; he said that they had quickly ruled out Holloway because her records had shown that she had her wisdom teeth previously removed.

Tim Miller, the Director of the Texas EquuSearch, released a statement after talking to Natalee’s father. He said “Dave [Natalee’s father] has been in contact with Aruban authorities and spoke with FBI this morning, the agent working the case. Dave believes it is Natalee.”

An attorney for Natalee’s mother, Beth Twitty, released a statement saying “Beth accepts the forensic conclusions, is emotionally exhausted from the inexplicably long wait, and deeply disappointed in the time and manner in which she learned of the results.” He commented on the Aruban authorities saying that “Apparently Aruban prosecutors were more sensitive to media concerns than the painful vigil of a mother.”

Natalee Holloway disappeared on the island in 2005 while on a school trip. She was last seen leaving a nightclub with three men, one of which was later identified as Joran van der Sloot. Van der Sloot was detained twice by police but has never been charged with Holloway’s disappearance. He is currently in Peru facing a different murder charge. Aruban authorities have said that they are checking neighboring islands to find a match for other missing persons.

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News briefs:July 16, 2010">
News briefs:July 16, 2010

June 12th, 2019 | Uncategorized |
Wikinews Audio Briefs Credits
Produced By
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Recorded By
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Written By
Turtlestack
Listen To This Brief

Problems? See our media guide.

[edit]

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Glasgow cannabis enthusiasts celebrate ‘green’ on city green">
Glasgow cannabis enthusiasts celebrate ‘green’ on city green

June 12th, 2019 | Uncategorized |

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Coinciding with Easter Sunday, Glasgow Cannabis Social Club’s annual 420 event was held on Glasgow Green, under sunny blue skies, and overlooking the river Clyde. Despite the city’s council attempting to revoke permission for the gathering at the last minute, police were happy for it to go-ahead with approximately a dozen officers attending in high-visibility vests.

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The Daily Record reported five arrests were made for minor offences, likely smoking and possession of small quantities of cannabis. Taking a less-sensational — and more accurate — line of reporting, the Monday edition of Glasgow’s Evening News stated five were referred to the Procurator Fiscal who is responsible for deciding if charges should be brought.

Official figures provided by the police were that 150 attended. With people coming and going, Wikinews reporters estimated upwards of 200 attended, compared to nearly 700 who had signed up for the event on Facebook. Hemp goods were advertised and on sale at the event, and some attendees were seen drinking cannabis-themed energy drinks.

“I was searched and charged under the Misuse of Drugs Act (which is a lot of bollocks)” one attendee noted online, adding “not fair to happen on a brilliant day like it was, other than that I had a great day!” A second said they were openly smoking and ignored by police, who “were only really focusing on people who looked particularly young”.

Cannabis seeds were openly and legally sold at the event and a hydroponics supplier brought a motortrike towing an advertising trailer. Actually growing cannabis is, however, illegal in the UK.

With the event openly advocating the legalisation of cannabis, speakers put their arguments for this to a receptive crowd. Retired police officer James Duffy, of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, spoke of the failed United States alcohol prohibition policy; stressing such policies needlessly bring people into contact with criminal elements. Highlighting other countries where legalisation has been implemented, he pointed out such led to lower crime, and lower drug use overall.

One speaker, who produced a bottle of cannabis oil he had received through the post, asserted this cured his prostate cancer. Others highlighted the current use of Sativex by the National Health Service, with a cost in-excess of £150 for a single bottle of GW Pharmaceuticals patented spray — as-compared to the oil shown to the crowd, with a manufacturing cost of approximately £10.

Similar ‘420’ pro-cannabis events were held globally.

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Colleges offering admission to displaced New Orleans graduate students">
Colleges offering admission to displaced New Orleans graduate students

June 7th, 2019 | Uncategorized |
See the discussion page for instructions on adding schools to this list.Tuesday, September 13, 2005

NAICU has created a list of colleges and universities accepting and/or offering assistance to displace faculty members. [1]Wednesday, September 7, 2005

This list is taken from Colleges offering admission to displaced New Orleans students, and is intended to make searching easier for faculty, graduate, and professional students.

In addition to the list below, the Association of American Law Schools has compiled a list of law schools offering assistance to displaced students. [2] As conditions vary by college, interested parties should contact the Office of Admissions at the school in question for specific requirements and up-to-date details.

The Association of American Medical Colleges is coordinating alternatives for medical students and residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina. [3]

ResCross.net is acting as a central interactive hub for establishing research support in times of emergency. With so many scientists affected by Hurricane Katrina, ResCross is currently focused on providing information to identify sources of emergency support as quickly as possible. [4]

With so many scientists affected by Hurricane Katrina, ResCross is currently focused on providing information to identify sources of emergency support as quickly as possible.

Physics undergraduates, grad students, faculty and high school teachers can be matched up with housing and jobs at universities, schools and industry. [5] From the American Association of Physics Teachers, the Society of Physics Students, the American Institute of Physics and the American Physical Society.

If you are seeking or providing assistance, please use this site to find information on research support, available lab space/supplies, resources, guidelines and most importantly to communicate with fellow researchers.

The following is a partial list, sorted by location.

Alabama |Alaska |Arizona |Arkansas |California |Colorado |Connecticut |Delaware |District of Columbia |Florida |Georgia |Hawaii |Idaho |Illinois |Indiana |Iowa |Kansas |Kentucky |Louisiana |Maine |Maryland |Massachusetts |Michigan |Minnesota |Mississippi |Missouri |Montana |Nebraska |Nevada |New Hampshire |New Jersey |New Mexico |New York |North Carolina |North Dakota |Ohio |Oklahoma |Oregon |Pennsylvania |Rhode Island |South Carolina |South Dakota |Tennessee |Texas |Utah |Vermont |Virginia |Washington |West Virginia |Wisconsin |Wyoming |Canada

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U.S. anti-war mom calls it quits">
U.S. anti-war mom calls it quits

June 7th, 2019 | Uncategorized |

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

War protestor Cindy Sheehan, the mother of fallen soldier Casey Sheehan who was killed in Iraq 3 years ago, wrote on what has been published by the Daily Kos as a personal web journal on Monday morning, a day in observance of Memorial Day in the United States, that “This is my resignation letter as the ‘face’ of the American anti-war movement.”

Her son Casey would have been 28 years old Tuesday. In what she writes are meditations upon developments in Sheehan’s life after she began a war protest that led her and a following of people to Camp Casey, beside the Texas ranch of President Bush in August 2005, included the notion that, “The most devastating conclusion that I reached this morning, however, was that Casey did indeed die for nothing. His precious lifeblood drained out in a country far away from his family who loves him, killed by his own country which is beholden to and run by a war machine that even controls what we think.”

I have come to some heartbreaking conclusions this Memorial Day Morning. These are not spur of the moment reflections, but things I have been meditating on for about a year now. The conclusions that I have slowly and very reluctantly come to are very heartbreaking to me.

In the text of Sheehan’s diary she is unable to reconcile herself with the Democratic Party that on Thursday, May 24, succumbed to the Bush administration on language for a troop funding bill that at one time tied funding to a time limit for U.S. involvement in Iraq. The presidential veto of that legislation to set a deadline for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq resulted in the U.S. Congress caving to executive branch over the issue of war funding, and may have been the final straw for Sheehan.

“I am deemed a radical because I believe that partisan politics should be left to the wayside when hundreds of thousands of people are dying for a war based on lies that is supported by Democrats and Republican alike,” wrote Sheehan.

Sheehan said that she has spent every bit of money that she has received as compensation for the loss of her son from the U.S. government, and as a person who garnished speaking fees from the national attention on her campaign against the Iraq war, on trying to bring peace.

“I am going to take whatever I have left and go home. I am going to go home and be a mother to my surviving children and try to regain some of what I have lost,” wrote Sheehan.

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News briefs:January 04, 2008">
News briefs:January 04, 2008

May 27th, 2019 | Uncategorized |

Contents

  • 1 Wikinews News Brief January 04, 2008 23:35 UTC
    • 1.1 Introduction
    • 1.2 Israeli troops kill 9 in Gaza
    • 1.3 Georgian President faces election challenge
    • 1.4 US unemployment hits two-year high
    • 1.5 Israel plans crackdown on West Bank settlement outposts
    • 1.6 Transaven Airlines plane carrying 14 people crashes off Venezuelan coast
    • 1.7 Sportswriter Milt Dunnell dies at 102
    • 1.8 2007 was particularly good year for aviation safety
    • 1.9 U.S. Senator Dodd bows out of presidential race
    • 1.10 Intel ends partnership with One Laptop Per Child program
    • 1.11 British Investigators arrive in Pakistan to join Bhutto investigation
    • 1.12 Disgorge bassist Ben Marlin dies from cancer
    • 1.13 Egypt lets 2000 pilgrims through Rafah
    • 1.14 Launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis once again delayed
    • 1.15 Study suggests hospitals are not the best place for cardiac arrest treatment
    • 1.16 US dollar no longer accepted at Taj Mahal and other Indian historical sites
    • 1.17 Footer

[edit]

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United States begins testing equipment for demolition of a major VX nerve gas stockpile">
United States begins testing equipment for demolition of a major VX nerve gas stockpile

May 26th, 2019 | Uncategorized |

Saturday, May 7, 2005

Testing began on a chemical reactor at the Newport Chemical Depot near Terre Haute, Indiana on Friday morning. If successful, the reactor will be put to use destroying the large VX nerve gas stockpiles stored at the facility over the course of the next two years. After the disposal project experienced several delays, the facility announced it would begin pumping VX into a completed disposal unit for testing. The unit consists of a chemical reactor in which the VX will be mixed with water and sodium hydroxide, heated to 194°F while mixed with paddles. The resulting chemical, called hydrolysate, is chemically similar to commercial drain cleaners and has similar properties. If the test is successfully completed , the unit will continue processing the VX until the entire stockpile has been neutralized, a process projected to take two years. Administrators expect to complete testing on May 10, 2005.

According to the controversial plan, the finished waste product would be shipped to New Jersey for final reprocessing. The inert chemical would then be emptied into the Delaware River where natural attenuation would occur.

Residents near the proposed river disposal site in New Jersey oppose this idea. The contractor for the final component of this disposal would be the DuPont Corporation.

NCD is a bulk chemical storage and destruction facility in west central Indiana, thirty miles north of Terre Haute. Originally founded during World War II to produce RDX, a conventional explosive, it later became a site for chemical weapons manufacturing during the Cold War. It is now used to securely store and gradually neutralize part of the US stockpile of VX.

VX was manufactured by the U.S. in the 1950s and 60’s as a deterrent to possible Soviet Union use. It was never deployed, and the manufacture was halted in 1969 after an order signed by then-president Richard Nixon.

In 1999, the Army announced it awarded a disposal contract to Parsons Infrastructure & Technology, Inc., a business unit of Parsons Corporation. Some 220 civilian Parsons employees work at the facility, which is supervised by an Army officer reporting to the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency, and a board of civilian government overseers called the Indiana Citizens’ Advisory Commission, some of whose members are appointed by the state governor.

Security at the facility is controversial. A private security service, supplemented by a complement of Indiana National Guard soldiers, guarded the facility until April 14, 2005, when the soldiers were withdrawn. An Indianapolis television station has questioned security measures in some of its special reports.

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