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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Singer Meat Loaf falls ill during concert

>>Full Story

American rock singer Meat Loaf has taken ill during a concert in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. He told the audience that it was "the last concert of his life," and left the stage.

The incident came 70 minutes into the show on Halloween night. During the opening of "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" he suggested that the crowd of thousands should enjoy the performance as it was the last of his career. He attempted to sing the first line of the song, but instead said "Newcastle, I love you, but can't continue. I take off my coat to you." He thanked the audience for 30 years, and left the stage.

The venue, Metro Radio Arena, have announced that the singer had a sore throat. However, they also say that fans are unlikely to be refunded the price of their tickets (£37.50-£45) because he had performed for over an hour.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

ACLU President Strossen on religion, drugs, guns and impeaching George Bush

There are few organizations in the United States that illicit a stronger emotional response than the American Civil Liberties Union, whose stated goal is "to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States". Those people include gays, Nazis, women seeking abortion, gun owners, SPAM mailers and drug users. People who are often not popular with the public. The ACLU's philosophy is not that it agrees or disagrees with any of these people and the choices that they make, but that they have personal liberties that must not be trampled upon.

In David Shankbone's interview with the President of the ACLU, Nadine Strossen, he wanted to cover some basic ground on the ACLU's beliefs. Perhaps the area where they are most misunderstood or have their beliefs most misrepresented is their feelings about religion in the public sphere. The ACLU categorically does not want to see religion disappear from schools or in the public forum; but they do not want to see government advocacy of any particular religion. Thus, former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore's placement of a ten ton monument to the Ten Commandments outside the courthouse is strenuously opposed; but "Lone Ranger of the Manger" Rita Warren's placement of nativity scenes in public parks is vigorously defended. In the interview, she talks about how certain politicians and televangelists purposefully misstate the law and the ACLU's work in order to raise funds for their campaigns.

David Shankbone's discussion with Strossen touches upon many of the ACLU's hot button issues: religion, Second Amendment rights, drug liberalization, "partial-birth abortion" and whether or not George W. Bush should be impeached. It may surprise the reader that many ideas people have about the most visible of America's civil libertarian organizations are not factually correct and that the ACLU often works closely with many of the organizations people think despise its existence.


Rugby player Bryan Habana tackled by fan

>>Full Story

Bryan Habana a rugby player for the South Africa national rugby union team the Blue Bulls, was tackled by a fan who tried to grab the Webb Ellis Cup from Habana while he was accepting the award at Newlands Stadium in Cape Town.

"[The fan] came like a bullet, flying through a crowd of people that were behind Bryan. Bryan luckily saw him and kept the trophy tight," said Rayaan Adriaanse, a spokesman for South African Rugby who said that he was the only "individual intent on spoiling the enjoyment of a lot of people."

>>See what Wikinews has learned by reading more

Monday, October 29, 2007

Wikimedia fundraiser highlights webcomic community's frustration with Wikipedia guidelines

>>Full story
On Monday, October 22, as the latest Wikimedia fundraiser started up, Wikinews reporter Brian McNeil thought his own small donation could be turned into a bigger donation by his buying some advertising on a popular website and encouraging others to contribute. With this in mind he approached Howard Tayler, creator of the Schlock Mercenary webcomic.
Tayler's response was not as McNeil expected, prompting a Wikinews investigation. Tayler refused to help the foundation raise money although he conceded that he does sometimes use the site. Instead he explained that the webcomic community feels slighted by Wikipedia since over 50 articles on webcomics were deemed not to meet the notability guidelines and were deleted from Wikipedia during January and February of 2007. Some members of the webcomics community considered this unacceptable.

Whilst some of the comic related articles deleted did not qualify for inclusion in the encyclopedia under Wikipedia guidelines, the deletion of a large number of articles in such a short time period struck some webcomics writers and fans as a selective purge.

Much of the criticism has been focused on Wikipedia editor Dragonfiend, who describes notability as "whether a topic has been noted by independent reputable sources". She has said that "If we include every article that anyone wants to write, then the encyclopedia becomes useless because nobody can find the actual needle of worthwhile information on a topic hidden in that hay stack of trivia." She believes Wikipedia should only have articles on webcomics like Penny Arcade, Get Your War On, Fetus-X, and Achewood.

This deletion of webcomics articles has not set well with many in the webcomics community. Modern Tales editor and Websnark blogger Eric Burns has written that "There are people -- and Dragonfiend is clearly one of them -- who are clearly going through Wikipedia looking for articles that should be weeded out as non-notable. and they're doing it in fields they clearly -- I mean, clearly -- have no interest, experience or knowledge."

>> Read the full article on Wikinews

Saturday, October 27, 2007

WIkinews interviews American author Gay Talese

Gay Talese wants to go to Iraq. "It so happens there is someone that’s working on such a thing right now for me," the 75-year-old legendary journalist and author told David Shankbone. "Even if I was on Al-Jazeera with a gun to my head, I wouldn't be pleading with those bastards! I'd say, 'Go ahead. Make my day.'"

Few reporters will ever reach the stature of Talese. His profile of Frank Sinatra in a 1966 issue of Esquire, Frank Sinatra Has a Cold, was not only cited by The Economist as the greatest profile of Sinatra ever written, but is considered the greatest of any celebrity profile ever written. In the 70th anniversary issue of Esquire Magazine in October 2003, the editors declared the piece the "Best Story Esquire Ever Published."

Talese helped create and define a new style of literary reporting called New Journalism. Talese himself told NPR he rejects this label ("The term new journalism became very fashionable on college campuses in the 1970s and some of its practitioners tended to be a little loose with the facts. And that's where I wanted to part company.")

Click here for the full interview

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Freedom for all says Libertarianz

The party leader and party president of Libertarianz both spoke to Wikinews about libertarianism in New Zealand. Libertarianz is a political party advocating the political philosophy of libertarianism. Party president Craig Milmine says Libertarianz is “principled opposition to the idea of a large nanny-state government in New Zealand."

This article follows on from the previous Wikinews articles on republicanism in New Zealand and the constitutional monarchy in New Zealand. The article also delves into the realm of republicanism. They propose a republic and removing the constitutional monarchy. Bernard Darnton, party leader, said, “The monarchy is so distant in New Zealand that I don't think becoming a republic would make a big difference in many people's lives.”

Read more on Wikinews.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Wikinews interviews Sue Gardner of the Wikimedia Foundation

>>Full Interview

Wikinews reporters interviewed Sue Gardner, an employee of the Wikimedia Foundation, the project that runs Wikipedia and several other projects, including Wikinews.

Before coming to Wikimedia, she ran CBC.CA, the website of Canada's national public broadcaster. She was also a radio and television journalist for 10 years.

Some of the interview:

Matt: Hi Sue, could you explain what you do for the Wikimedia Foundation?

Sue: Sure. I am a consultant & special advisor to the board. Essentially, I am here to help the organization professionalize and improve. It's a young organization with a lot of normal 'young-organization' challenges - and I am here to help fix them.

Matt: What was your job position for, and what did you work on while you were there?

Sue: I was senior director of CBC.CA. (That means I ran it.) Do you want me to explain a little about what it is?

Thunderhead: Please do

Sue: It's the website of the Canadian public broadcaster, the only national public broadcaster in Canada and the equivalent to the BBC, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the French pubcaster. etc. CBC is mainly a news organization, and CBC.CA is mainly a news website.

Thunderhead: How did you come to work for the Wikimedia Foundation? Were you asked to join by someone? And if so, who?

Sue: I actually first got interested in the Wikimedia Foundation in a serious way, when I saw it do such a good job on the Virginia Tech story. On the morning of the Virginal Tech massacre, I was following the story on Wikipedia/Wikinews, and reading the talk page. And it was a really excellent level of conversation that was being had there. I was really seriously impressed. So I started doing a little reading about the organization, which resulted in me talking with Brad Patrick and then Florence. Which resulted in me coming here.

**Click here for the full interview**

Sunday, October 21, 2007

BDSM as business: An interview with the owners of a dungeon

"If you get in here," says Bill, "and say, ‘Listen. I want to suspend this girl, and I want to spank her until she's black and blue, and I have a girl that wants to do that, I probably--when I met her and interviewed her, I probably would have told her, don't do it. I don't want you getting black and blue for a number of reasons. Primarily, if you get too black and blue, you're gonna burn out. You're not going to want to do this, and you're not going to feel good about yourself."Image: David Shankbone.
"If you get in here," says Bill, "and say, ‘Listen. I want to suspend this girl, and I want to spank her until she's black and blue, and I have a girl that wants to do that, I probably--when I met her and interviewed her, I probably would have told her, don't do it. I don't want you getting black and blue for a number of reasons. Primarily, if you get too black and blue, you're gonna burn out. You're not going to want to do this, and you're not going to feel good about yourself."
Image: David Shankbone.

When Wikinews reporter David Shankbone rings the bell of "HC & Co." he has no idea what to expect. A BDSM (Bondage Discipline Sadism Masochism) dungeon is a legal enterprise in New York City, and there are more than a few businesses that cater to a clientèle that wants an enema, a spanking, to be dressed like a baby or to wear women's clothing. Shankbone went to find out what these businesses are like, who runs them, who works at them, and who frequents them. He spent three hours one night in what is considered one of the more upscale establishments in Manhattan, Rebecca's Hidden Chamber, where according to The Village Voice, "you can take your girlfriend or wife, and have them treated with respect—unless they hope to be treated with something other than respect!"

When Shankbone arrived on the fourth floor of a midtown office building, the elevator opened up to a hallway where a smiling Rebecca greeted him. She is a beautiful forty-ish Long Island mother of three who is dressed in smart black pants and a black turtleneck that reaches up to her blonde-streaked hair pulled back in a bushy ponytail. "Are you David Shankbone? We're so excited to meet you!" she says, and leads him down the hall to a living room area with a sofa, a television playing an action-thriller, an open supply cabinet stocked with enema kits, and her husband Bill sitting at the computer trying to find where the re-release of Blade Runner is playing at the local theater. "I don't like that movie," says Rebecca.

This is the first of a two part series examining the BDSM business. This interview focuses on the owners of a dungeon, what they charge, what the clients are like and how they handle their needs.

Perhaps the most poignant moment came at the end of the night when Shankbone was waiting to be escorted out (to avoid running into a client). Rebecca came into the room and sat on the sofa. "You know, a lot of people out there would like to see me burn for what I do," she says. Rebecca is a woman who has faced challenges in her life, and dealt with them the best she could given her circumstances. She sees herself as providing a service to people who have needs, no matter how debauched the outside world deems them. We sat talking politics (she's supporting Hillary) and the irony that and about mutual challenges we have both faced. It was in this conversation that Shankbone saw that humanity can be found anywhere, including in places that appear on the surface to cater to the inhumanity some people in our society feel towards themselves, or others.

"The best way to describe it," says Bill, "is if you had a kink, and you had a wife and you had two kids, and every time you had sex with your wife it just didn't hit the nail on the head. What would you do about it? How would you handle it? You might go through life feeling unfulfilled. Or you might say, 'No, my kink is I really need to dress in women's clothing.' We're that outlet. We're not the evil devil out here, plucking people off the street, keeping them chained up for days on end."

Below is David Shankbone's interview with Bill & Rebecca, owners of Rebecca's Hidden Chamber, a BDSM dungeon.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

John Reed on Orwell, God, self-destruction and the future of writing

John Reed: "A kid who reads a book and says, 'This isn't for me. It doesn't have anything to do with my time period; I don't know why I'm reading it. Literature is completely removed from my experience.' They're right! There's no reason to have that kid reading books that are removed from their experience." Image: David Shankbone.

It can be difficult to be John Reed.

Christopher Hitchens called him a "Bin Ladenist" and Cathy Young editorialized in The Boston Globe that he "blames the victims of terrorism" when he puts out a novel like Snowball's Chance, a biting send-up of George Orwell's Animal Farm he was inspired to write after the terrorist attacks on September 11. "The clear references to 9/11 in the apocalyptic ending can only bring Orwell's name into disrepute in the U.S.," wrote William Hamilton, the British literary executor of the Orwell estate. That process had already begun: it was revealed Orwell gave the British Foreign Office a list of people he suspected of being "crypto-Communists and fellow travelers," labeling some of them as Jews and homosexuals. "I really wanted to explode that book," Reed told The New York Times. "I wanted to completely undermine it."

Is this man who wants to blow up the classic literary canon taught to children in schools a menace, or a messiah? David Shankbone went to interview him for Wikinews and found that, as often is the case, the answer lies somewhere in the middle.

Reed is electrified by the changes that surround him that channel through a lens of inspiration wrought by his children. "The kids have made me a better writer," Reed said. In his new untitled novel, which he calls a "new play by William Shakespeare," he takes lines from The Bard's classics to form an original work. He began it in 2003, but only with the birth of his children could he finish it. "I didn't understand the characters who had children. I didn't really understand them. And once I had had kids, I could approach them differently."

Taking the old to make it new is a theme in his work and in his world view. Reed foresees new narrative forms being born, Biblical epics that will be played out across print and electronic mediums. He is pulled forward by revolutions of the past, a search for a spiritual sensibility, and a desire to locate himself in the process.

Below is David Shankbone's conversation with novelist John Reed.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Raveonettes on love, death, desire and war

"I'm going to stay here, then.  I'm not going to use it.  I want to stay here with this guy and my boyfriend and my family."  Sharin Foo (with Sune Rose Wagner) on solo time David Shankbone

"We’re only two days in and we’re already fucking tired," says Sune Rose Wagner to David Shankbone as he walks into the dressing room at the Bowery Ballroom. Wagner and Sharin Foo comprise the Raveonettes, a group made for "nostalgists who long for Everly Brothers 45's and diner jukeboxes, the Raveonettes tweak "American Graffiti"-era rock with fuzzed-out surf-guitar riffs," said The New York Times. They recently left Columbia and signed with Fierce Panda because they felt constrained by their Columbia contract: "The major label system sometimes doesn't allow for outside "help" to get involved, meaning that we don't get to choose who we wanna work with. That can be a pretty terrible thing and bad things will surely come of it," said the band on their MySpace site.

Their first EP, Chain Gang of Love, was a critical and commercial success. "Few albums provoke such amazing imagery," said the BBC. "Pretty in Black is virtually fuzz-free," said Rolling Stone of their next album, "highlighting the exquisite detail in the Raveonettes' gift for pastiche: the prowling, garage-surf guitars in Love in a Trashcan; the ghost dance of Red Tan, wrapped in Phil Spector-style sleigh bells." Of their current album, Lust Lust Lust, set to be released on November 5th (although Amazon says March 4, 2008), Sune told NME that, "There are a lot of songs that deal with desire, restlessness and the tough choices you have to make sometimes." Fans can here some of the new material at

Below is David Shankbone's interview with Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo.


Battle of the Wiki-conferences: New conference aside from Wikimania announced

>>Full Interview

Atlanta, Georgia – After losing their bid to host Wikimania 2008, Wikimedians from the Atlanta, Georgia bid proposal are now working to host a conference focusing on Wikimedia in the Americas.

Mike Halterman, a student at the University of South Florida and unpaid intern at the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) offices in St. Petersburg, Florida is helping to plan the Conference of the Americas which will be be held at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) in Atlanta, Georgia on May 15-18, 2008. Several others who helped in the conference's creation include; Andrew Guyton, Dan Rosenthal, Geoff Swanstrom, Hillary Lipko, Jessica Gibson, Matt Britt and Wikinews administrator and contributor, Craig Spurrier.

Click here for the full Wikinews interview.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Interview: US Senator Sam Brownback on running for President, gay rights, the Middle East and religion

>>Full Interview

Sam Brownback is perplexed. The U.S. Senator from Kansas and Presidential candidate is a Republican Catholic whose politics--he is against marriage for gay people, he is against abortion, and he has a clean image in a party tainted by scandal--should speak favorably to the party's base. But it has not. "I'm baffled by that myself," Senator Brownback told David Shankbone. "We haven't been able to raise money."

A recent poll in Iowa has put him in eighth place, with 2% supporting his campaign. "If we don't finish fourth or better in Iowa...we'll pull out."

Senator Brownback's relationship with God infuses almost every answer you find below. Although he doesn't feel "competent" to explain why God would dislike gays, he does feel strongly that allowing two men or two women to enter into the union of marriage will destroy it for heterosexuals. Pointing to the research of Stanley Kurtz at The Hoover Institute, Brownback asserts that Northern Europeans have "taken the sacredness out of the institution."

In the interview, Senator Brownback discusses the tug-and-pull that befalls him when his constituents show up at his office and say, "Look, I'm a conservative, but we need this bridge, we need this subsidy, we need this hospital.” Brownback feels this spending system needs to be changed; however, when it comes to energy policy, Brownback is there for his constituents. David Shankbone asked the Kansas Senator, a supporter of cellulosic ethanol, why he doesn't support the lowering of tariffs on sugar since sugar ethanol delivers 8 times the energy output of cellulosic ethanol. Brazil, in particular, has become energy independent because of its sugar ethanol program. It's cheaper to produce, and there is vastly more bang for the buck in sugar fuel than in corn fuel; an entire country no longer needs to import oil because of it. Federal tariffs currently make sugar ethanol too expensive in the United States. "You're going to kill the ethanol industry here just as it gets going," was Senator Brownback's response. However, there is a debate over whether the process to make corn ethanol uses more energy than the ethanol itself produces.

Click here to read David Shankbone's interview with Senator Sam Brownback.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Augusten Burroughs on addiction, writing, his family and his new book

>>Full Wikinews Interview

I had an unofficial phone call from Gay Talese last Tuesday. He had just flown back from Colombia and he was cranky. "I'm happy to do an interview with you," he said, "but what the hell could you ask me that's not already out there? Have you even bothered to look?!”

"Jeez, Mr. Talese, lots of things," was my response. I lied. The truth is that when I call people to interview them, I do not have a set of preconceived questions. My agenda is to talk to them and gain a sense of who they are; to flesh them out as humans. To find out what they think about the world around them at that moment. With Gay Talese I had little interest in talking about Frank Sinatra Has a Cold and with Augusten Burroughs I had little interest in discussing Running with Scissors. I want to know what they think about things outside of the boxes people have placed them in.

Click here for David Shankbone’s conversation with writer Augusten Burroughs.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Location of Wikimania 2008 creates controversy; LGBT community concerned

Wikimedians grow concerned about the decision to hold Wikimania 2008 in Alexandria, Egypt because of the country's opressive government, imprisonment of homosexuals, free speech, and overall safety from a possible terrorist attack.

Well I am going to put my two cents in because I have read just about enough on the mailing lists.

Here is why I am entirely opposed to Wikimania being in Egypt at this time. Also remember that I am a hardcore contributer to

1) Since the announcement of this, the LGBT wikimedians have expressed grave concern. As mentioned previously, this is a regime in which "opresses" homosexuals and imprisons them. Me being gay, I am not sure I would want to risk that. Not to mention my partner, if I had one and he came, but yet the WMF states that they picked Egypt because of its "geo-diversity."

2) Human rights and "free" speech (free being the key word). Why hold a conference of a foundation that is based entirely on FREE media when that country and the government don't even support free speech? Why in an country that limits the rights of women and humans in general? What is so "free" about that?

3) Egypt is in too close proximity to several areas which are in a near constant war: Israel and Palestine, Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan...not to mention holding this is the Middle East puts (for the most part) Americans at risk and the rest at risk for a prime target of violence or an attack. Was safety considered when making this decision?

4) Who are these people on the "jury"? I mean I know their names, but who are they. Are they wealthy? Travel the world frequently? Seems like it because in my opinion this place was picked because it was somewhere they decided it would be nice to visit. More than half of all wikimedians will likely NOT be able to afford the trip, in some cases from literally on the other side of the globe. Might as well rob a bank for the finances.

5) The "jury" was composed of, from what I see, 12 individuals who in some way or another "work" for WMF (and that does NOT necessarily mean getting paid). I see IMO a conflict of interest. The other 2 seem to be just contributers, which is what most of this jury should have been composed of. After all this is a conference for all Wikis. according to our Wikinews article, because of the controversy this has created, Jimbo Wales plans to speak and "decided his talk at the conference will be entitled Free knowledge and human rights." Reminder: this in a country where you can get arrested for saying what you believe. This is going to be a high profile conference...should Wales really go that far?

Sarcasm: next time they will want to hold Wikimania 2009 in Tehran, Iran. 2010: Burma/Myanmar. 2011: China (Wikipedia is banned in China). Now you get my drift???

I am NOT against ever having a Wikimania in the Middle East or eventually in Egypt. But right now, it's not the right time. We need to think about how diverse our contributers are and base a decision off that. In my opinion there are a lot better, safer and more "geo-diversed" places than somewhere where there is a potential for people to be injured or killed or go broke just getting there.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Wikinews deemed 'mighty'

A video has surfaced that has deemed Wikinews to be "mighty."

It is not known who created the video or when, but it is sponsored by