Legality of NSW traffic and parking fines to be tested in court
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Legality of NSW traffic and parking fines to be tested in court

Sunday, June 18, 2006

The legality of speeding and parking fines in New South Wales, Australia is set to be tested in court this week. A lawyer from Sydney will challenge the authority of the state’s infringement processing bureau to issue fines for speeding and parking offences.

The lawyer claims that when the NSW government moved control of the bureau from the NSW Police to the Office of State Revenue in October 2001, the government failed to make correct legislative changes. He claims that all fines issued since the move are invalid.

The basis of the case revolve around whether or not the infringement processing bureau has powers to issue penalty notices (fines) under NSW law.

The bureau said that the case would only be relevant to fines which are disputed by a person in court. The bureau said that only five per cent of fines are challenged.

“People who did not elect to go to court and have paid their infringement notice will not be affected by any decision, so the issue of refunds does not arise,” a statement by the Office of State Revenue said.

For the 2004/2005 financial year, the infringement processing bureau recorded revenues of AUD$158.7 million from fines.

NSW Opposition leader Peter Debnam said the government has once again failed to write legislation correctly. “The bottom line with this thing is that the Government simply hasn’t done its homework. We see this time and time again, legislation going through parliament, and it ends up costing tax payers a fortune,” he said.

UN calls on international community to increase aid for Iraqi refugees
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UN calls on international community to increase aid for Iraqi refugees

Sunday, July 8, 2007

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) called on the international community to increase aid and assistance to the two countries shouldering the bulk of displaced Iraqis. Syria and Jordan have received the largest number of Iraqi refugees and are having difficulty coping with the numbers.

The appeal was made by UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond at a press conference on Friday at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. He criticized governments for earlier expressing concern and pledging support for the refugees but not following through on promises. “Syria and Jordan have still received next to nothing in bilateral help from the world community,” said Redmond.

There are an estimated 2 million Iraqi refugees total in Syria and Jordan with the numbers increasing daily. Each day, Syria receives approximately 2,000 Iraqis and, of those, about 1,000 will stay for an extended time. There are a further 2 million displaced Iraqis who move and settle in safer areas within Iraq.

The large numbers of refugees is putting pressure on the infrastructure of the host countries, resulting in difficult living conditions for the inhabitants. Ron Redmond acknowledges that some US$70 million in donations have been received by the UNHCR, and a further $10 million promised since the Iraq displacement conference in April, 2007. He points out, however, that much more is required. “We stressed then and we say it again, donors must provide direct bilateral support to these host countries whose schools, hospitals, public services and infrastructure are seriously overstretched because of the presence of millions of Iraqis they have so generously welcomed,” said Redmond.

It is unconscionable that generous host countries be left on their own to deal with such a huge crisis. We strongly urge governments to step forward now to support them in dealing with this situation…

Schools are particularly difficult to set up and staff in a refugee situation. Syria has currently hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugee children, but only has resources for 32,000 students. Syria offers free access to public schools for refugees, but doesn’t have the infrastructure to cope. Some 14,000 Iraqi refugee children in Jordan attend school, out of the possible 250,000. The refugee children in Jordan don’t have access to public schools and instead go to private schools. UNHCR is partnering with UNICEF to provide 150,000 classroom spots in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, but the coordination of the required resources, such as buildings, teachers, and school supplies is proving difficult.

Health issues for the refugees is also a concern. UNHCR has set up three primary care medical facilities in Syria, with two more in the works. But approximately 10,000 Iraqis per month require a doctor’s attention, 3,000 of which require serious medical treatment.

Refugee situation in numbers
  • 2,000,000 in Jordan and Syria
  • 2,000,000 internally displaced
  • 750 in the United States
  • 14,000 out of 250,000 children in Jordan attend school

“It is unconscionable that generous host countries be left on their own to deal with such a huge crisis,” said Ron Redmond at the press conference. “We strongly urge governments to step forward now to support them in dealing with this situation and renew our call for international solidarity and burden sharing.”

The president of Refugees International, Ken Bacon, agrees that a more comprehensive approach to the situation is required and believes that it would be good investment for the United States to increase its aid to the region. “The United States ought to be pumping money into Jordan and Syria,” Bacon suggests. He feels that the sheer numbers of refugees can have a destabilizing influence in the Middle East. However, the complicated diplomatic relationship between the U.S. and Syria has resulted in slow progress, according to Bacon, as bilateral discussions have not taken place and the UN is forced to mediate.

Both Jordan and Syria have put in place new entry and residency conditions, which has resulted in thousands of refugees being stranded on Iraq’s borders. Families have been separated based on a person’s age and type of passport held. Jordan and Syria have not signed on to the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.

The non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch has been critical of Jordan and Syria on their policy of returning refugees, saying they “are violating on a daily basis the most fundamental principle of refugee protection – nonrefoulement, which prohibits the return of refugees to persecution or serious harm.”

To gain access to Jordan, Iraqi refugees must be over 40 or under 20, and must prove they have sufficient funds to support themselves in the country. They must also be in possession of a new generation passport.

Nasser Hikmat Jaafar drove 900 km from Baghdad with his family to reach Jordan in mid-June, 2007. Half of his family was refused entry to Jordan. “They allowed entry just for my wife and two daughters and denied me and my three sons. They didn’t tell us the reasons, but just said they are fed up with men of such ages [between 20 and 40 years old],” said Jaafar. He changed plans and traveled with all his family to the Syrian border, a distance of approximately 500 km from Iraq’s Jordanian border.

Syria has less restrictions on gaining entry, but has imposed residency conditions. Refugees can only stay up to three months and must then leave Syria and re-enter to be eligible to stay for another period.

The United States government has a program set up for Iraqi asylum seekers in Jordan who meet specific criteria. If they meet the requirements, listed below, they may be eligible for resettlement under the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP).

Interested asylum seekers are encouraged to apply directly with the U.S. Overseas Processing Entity (OPE) in Amman, Jordan, which is operated by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Individual Iraqis and their immediate family that meet one of the conditions below may seek access through the direct program:

  • Individuals who worked on a full-time basis as interpreters/translators for the U.S. Government or Multi-National Forces (MNF-I);
  • Locally Employed Staff (LES) engaged by the U.S. Government under the authority of the Chief of Mission or the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA); or
  • Surviving immediate family members of interpreters/translators or LES.

According to the U.S. government information on the process, those individuals initiating a case with the OPE will not be guaranteed an interview for resettlement in the United States. Applicants would be screened for eligibility as per the requirements listed above and are subject to approval.

In a February 14, 2007 press briefing, U.S. Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs Paula J. Dobriansky addressed the Iraq refugee crisis. “Our key immediate objectives are to assist internally displaced Iraqis and Iraqi refugees by building up the capacities of UN agencies and NGOs,” said Dobriansky. “This includes increasing opportunities for permanent resettlement for the most vulnerable Iraqis, to establish specialized programs to assist Iraqis who are at risk because of their employment or close association with the United States Government, to work diplomatically with regional governments through bilateral and multilateral channels to uphold the principle of first asylum,” she continued.

In the February press briefing, the U.S. committed to receive 7,000 Iraqi refugees by fiscal year end, September 30, but clarified that perhaps only half that number would be “travel-ready” subsequent to the interview process as described above. The U.S. could accommodate 20,000 to 30,000 Iraqi refugees per year without difficulty, according to Ken Bacon of Refugees International.

To date, the U.S. has allowed 750 Iraqi refugees into the country.

U.S. develops parks above highways
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U.S. develops parks above highways

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

In big cities, finding land for new parks is less of an expedition than an all-out land-rights battle with property owners. But some cities across the U.S. have found a slightly easier way to add to their greenspace. By utilizing the state’s air rights to the space above freeways that run below at ground level, cities can acquire 5 or 10 acres of parkspace essentially for free, such Freeway Park which occupies 5.5 acres above a freeway in downtown Seattle.

Of course, this free “land” is actually nothing more than open air above a freeway, requiring cities to pay the high construction costs of capping the roadway with land.

Such projects are currently being planned in St. Louis, Cincinnati, Dallas and San Diego. A recent article in Governing Magazine looks at more than two dozen highway deck parks that have been built or are under construction in the U.S. The article finds that even though the price of constructing parks on top of freeways can rise upwards of $500 per square foot, property values and local development boom once they are completed.

Hiring A Collaborative Divorce Attorney In Long Island Ny

byAlma Abell

When a couple files for divorce, they have choices to make as to what kind of legal help they’ll hire. Some people end up in a long, contentious divorce, and others easily agree upon division of property and child custody. However, most cases fall somewhere in the middle, and for these people, collaborative divorce is a good option.

The Collaborative Divorce Process

In collaborative divorce (also called collaborative law or practice), spouses negotiate an amenable agreement with professional assistance. Each spouse hires a collaborative Divorce Attorney Long Island NY for advice and assistance, and they meet both separately and together. Collaborative divorces often involve other professionals such as accountants and child custody experts.

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In most cases, spouses and attorneys sign an agreement requiring the lawyers to withdraw if the case is forced into litigation. You’ll eventually have to go to family court to get the divorce legitimized, but with a collaborative divorce, that phase of the case is rather brief. Once all issues are agreed upon, the legal part is an uncontested, simple procedure.

How a Collaborative Divorce Can Help

There are a few ways that a collaborative divorce can reduce the expense and acrimony between spouses, while giving results comparable to what you’d get in court. To expedite the process, divorcing spouses can:

Voluntarily exchange information

Agree on legal procedures

Negotiate a fair settlement

Decide together how to handle decisions after the divorce

Saving with Collaborative Divorce

Even the most amicable divorces cost something. However, couples going through the collaborative divorce process spend about half as much as those who employ a litigious technique and about 25% of the cost of taking the case to trial do. When couples willingly share financial information, less money is spent trying to uncover hidden property and assets (also known as the ‘discovery phase’ in a divorce proceeding).

Whether spouses use collaborative divorce techniques from the beginning of the procedure, or only for a portion of the case, doing so can save time, frustration and money. Perhaps more importantly, this type of divorce allows both parties to retain a measure of dignity and privacy. If you need more information on hiring a collaborative Divorce Attorney Long Island NY, Browse Site for details.

Four fallen Canadian soldiers return home
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Four fallen Canadian soldiers return home

Thursday, September 21, 2006

On Monday four Canadian soldiers were killed in a suicide bomb attack. The soldiers were in Afghanistan since the end of July and in operations since the beginning of August. They are now returning home in Canada for a memorial service.

Pte. David Byers, 22, of Espanola, Ontario was identified after a suicide bomber attacked the soldiers in Kandahar. On Tuesday, the Department of National Defence said the attack also killed Cpl. Glen Arnold, based in CFB Petawawa, northwest of Ottawa; and Cpl. Shane Keating of Saskatoon and Cpl. Keith Morley, based at CFB Shilo in Manitoba were also killed.

“All three of these men were proud citizens and exceptional examples of the men and women who serve this country, both at home and abroad,” said Maj. Stephen Joudrey, acting commanding officer for 2PPCLI at CFB Shilo, on Tuesday.

The Prime Minister also made a statement saying: “I wish to send my heartfelt condolences to the loved ones of Corporal Glen Arnold, Corporal Shane Keating, Corporal Keith Morley, and Private David Byers, who were killed by a suicide bomber yesterday in the Panjwayi region of Afghanistan.”

Thirty six Canadian soldiers have died in Afghanistan since 2002.

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Death toll from Borneo bridge collapse reaches eleven
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Death toll from Borneo bridge collapse reaches eleven

Monday, November 28, 2011

The death toll from the weekend suspension bridge collapse on the Indonesian island of Borneo has risen from four to eleven. Search and rescue teams continue to look for bodies in the Mahakam River.

The number of wounded is currently 39 injured; reports from locals suggest 33 people remain missing at the scene in East Kalimantan’s Kutai Kartanegara district, where “Kalimantan’s Golden Gate Bridge” linked the towns of Tenggarong and the regional capital, Samarinda. A six-month-old baby is among the dead.

Cars, motorbikes, and buses all fell into the Mahakam River when the bridge came down during repairs. Another car was left overturned and balanced upon wreckage over the water. State-owned builders PT Hutama Karya completed the bridge about a decade ago in the image of California’s Golden Gate Bridge. A cable on the 720-metre structure is thought to have failed as workers dealt with it; six of the repair crew were reported missing yesterday. It had been the longest suspension bridge in Borneo.

Eyewitnesses described heavy traffic at the time of the collapse, and one survivor said he left his truck to investigate a traffic jam. Some people were left trapped by debris as the bridge came down. “It happened so fast, only about 30 seconds,” according to National Disaster Management Agency spokesman Sutopo Nugoroho.

National search and rescue head Daryatmo said yesterday cranes will attempt to move debris today, with new reports saying echo-sounding equipment will be used to check it is safe to begin lifting. It is believed the bodies of more victims will be found trapped in vehicles beneath the water, which is 35-40 metres deep. Visibility is poor, and one official explained authorities are still unsure how many vehicles are on the riverbed.

“The above-water search is continuing, but underwater operations have not been carried out because we’re worried that the bridge’s pylons are unstable and could collapse any time,” said Nugoroho today. He explained that bodies had washed onto the riverbanks overnight and were recovered today.

The president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, has sent three ministers to the site to investigate the accident, while Bambang Widaryatmo, head of East Kalimantan’s police, promised “parties found to be negligent will be prosecuted”. The government has promised a replacement ferry service. The river is closed to boats as rescue operations continue, and a 22-strong team has been dispatched from the national police, comprising six forensics experts, five disaster victim identification specialists, and eleven investigators. They are there to augment the East Kalimantan Police. Health Minister Endang Rahayu Sedyaningsih yesterday visited survivors in Parikesit Hospital and promised them medical treatment at government expense.

Some people swam ashore after falling, with the aftermath filled with screams. Survivor Syakrani, 24, yesterday asserted “The authorities should have closed the bridge if it was under repair.” His words were followed by a Jakarta Globe editorial declaring the accident “unacceptable”.

The Globe went on to comment upon suggestions corruption may have played a role; “It is too early to point fingers and look to place blame, but if shoddy materials were used in the building of the bridge, those responsible must answer to the public.” Another suggestion is coal barges striking the bridge may have weakened it. Local coal company Harum Energy lost five percent of its share value today amid fears the river blockage will hamper their ability to ship coal.

Samarinda’s seen a population and construction boom lately. A few years have seen the population triple and the construction of a large mosque, and a sports stadium; an airport and port are set to follow. However, the Corruption Eradication Commission warns 70% of the corruption it investigates concerns government contracts and up to 40% of money earmarked for infrastructure ends up stolen.

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Scotland denies bail to terminally ill man convicted of Lockerbie bombing
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Scotland denies bail to terminally ill man convicted of Lockerbie bombing

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Scotland has refused bail to the Libyan man convicted of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 despite his terminal cancer, as he can receive treatment in prison. Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al-Megrahi was jailed in 2001 for the 1988 bombing of the transatlantic airliner, killing 270 people, but is seeking to have his conviction overturned.

Minutes after Edinburgh’s Appeals Court rejected bail on compassionate grounds Jim Swire, spokesman for the victim’s families who lost his daughter in the disaster, complained about the ruling. “It has never been a goal of our group to seek revenge,” said a lawyer outside the court reading from his statement. “The refusal of a return to his family for a dying man whose verdict is not even yet secure looks uncomfortably like either an aspect of revenge — or perhaps timidity.”

Al-Megrahi, a former intelligence officer, is 54 and serving a minimum of 27 years for the bombing. He has advanced prostate cancer which is spreading through his body. His request for bail was rejected by Lord Hamilton, Scotland’s head judge, who said that as doctors say he could live a few more years he should not be released unless and until after his appeal succeeds or his condition worsens.

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Some other doctors give his time as just months, as the cancer has reached his bones. Hamilton however said that palliative hormone treatment could prolong his life. Hamilton also said Al-Megrahi was not suffering “material pain or disability”.

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission ruled last year that the conviction may be a miscarriage of justice. It said there was significant doubts to be raised over several key pieces of evidence in the original trial.

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Lancaster Pa Dentists Helping Patients Stay Healthy And Smiling

Lancaster PA Dentists Helping Patients Stay Healthy and Smiling

by

Shea Stevens

For the roughly 60,000 residents of Lancaster PA, this area known as Pennsylvania Dutch Country is also well known for its quality of dentistry. A certified Lancaster PA dentist can provide both cosmetic and general dentistry procedures to help you smile with confidence. It is important not only to your self-image but your health to keep your teeth free of cavities and gum disease. Gum disease, which is caused by bacteria, can lead to serious heart problems, not to mention bad breath and loose or missing teeth. If you have even minor dental problems, they need to be addressed immediately.

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While many Lancaster PA dentists will be able to offer certain specialty dental procedures, such as laser teeth whitening or orthodontia, all certified dentists can help you take care of cavities and provide cleanings. Some dentists will specialize in a particular area, however, so you need to choose the right dentist or specialist for you. For example, there are experts in periodontal disease that provide the correct treatment for that type of severe gum disease. There are also specialists in dentures, reconstructive work, or simply pediatrics. Whatever your needs, this almost eight square mile section of town has dental options for everyone. In today\’s economy, more and more people are concerned with expenses, and often put dental work aside for fear of the expense. While dental work can sometimes add up, many clinics are more than willing to set up a patient payment plan, work with insurance companies and basically do everything they can to make dental care affordable for the patients. It is important to remember that neglecting your teeth can lead to permanent consequences, and the problem isn\’t going to fix itself you need to seek professional dental help. Call a clinic and set up an appointment for a consultation. If time is the problem, many clinics also work hard to get you in and out of the dental clinic so you don\’t have to wait. This means that whether you were planning on squeezing in shopping at the Park City Center or need to go on your lunch break, you can usually get your dental appointment taken care of and then go about your business. Dentistry has come a long way towards helping the patient have a quick and easy visit. Don\’t wait until the last minute to ensure your good dental and general health see a dentist and smile.

Visit

dentalimplantsoflancaster.com

today for more information regarding why Dr. Shea Stevens is considered one of the top

Lancaster PA dentists

. As a premier Lancaster PA dentist, Smiles By Stevens provides its patients with top-notch and state of the art dental care.

Article Source:

ArticleRich.com

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Six bomb attacks kill 95 in Baghdad
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Six bomb attacks kill 95 in Baghdad

Thursday, August 20, 2009

According to Iraqi police, at least 95 people have been killed and half a thousand wounded after six explosions in Iraq’s capital of Baghdad on Wednesday.

Eyewitness reports say that two main attacks targeted the finance and foreign ministries. Police sources say that the blasts, which were caused by vehicles filled with explosives, all took place within several minutes.

Major General Qassim Atta, spokesman for the national armed forces’ operation in the capital, said that “a truck bomb went off near the Salhiyeh intersection and it caused casualties and a number of civilian cars were destroyed. We accuse the Baathist alliance of executing these terrorist operations.”

As a result of the attacks, Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki called for a security review. “The criminal operations that happened today no doubt call for a re-evaluation of our plans and our security methods to face the terrorist challenges,” he said.

The attacks are the deadliest in Baghdad since June 24, when 62 people died after a bomb on a motorcycle detonated.

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John Vanderslice plays New York City: Wikinews interview
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John Vanderslice plays New York City: Wikinews interview

Thursday, September 27, 2007

John Vanderslice has recently learned to enjoy America again. The singer-songwriter, who National Public Radio called “one of the most imaginative, prolific and consistently rewarding artists making music today,” found it through an unlikely source: his French girlfriend. “For the first time in my life I wouldn’t say I was defending the country but I was in this very strange position…”

Since breaking off from San Francisco local legends, mk Ultra, Vanderslice has produced six critically-acclaimed albums. His most recent, Emerald City, was released July 24th. Titled after the nickname given to the American-occupied Green Zone in Baghdad, it chronicles a world on the verge of imminent collapse under the weight of its own paranoia and loneliness. David Shankbone recently went to the Bowery Ballroom and spoke with Vanderslice about music, photography, touring and what makes a depressed liberal angry.


DS: How is the tour going?

JV: Great! I was just on the Wiki page for Inland Empire, and there is a great synopsis on the film. What’s on there is the best thing I have read about that film. The tour has been great. The thing with touring: say you are on vacation…let’s say you are doing an intense vacation. I went to Thailand alone, and there’s a part of you that just wants to go home. I don’t know what it is. I like to be home, but on tour there is a free floating anxiety that says: Go Home. Go Home.

DS: Anywhere, or just outside of the country?

JV: Anywhere. I want to be home in San Francisco, and I really do love being on tour, but there is almost like a homing beacon inside of me that is beeping and it creates a certain amount of anxiety.

DS: I can relate: You and I have moved around a lot, and we have a lot in common. Pranks, for one. David Bowie is another.

JV: Yeah, I saw that you like David Bowie on your MySpace.

DS: When I was in college I listened to him nonstop. Do you have a favorite album of his?

JV: I loved all the things from early to late seventies. Hunky Dory to Low to “Heroes” to Lodger. Low changed my life. The second I got was Hunky Dory, and the third was Diamond Dogs, which is a very underrated album. Then I got Ziggy Stardust and I was like, wow, this is important…this means something. There was tons of music I discovered in the seventh and eighth grade that I discovered, but I don’t love, respect and relate to it as much as I do Bowie. Especially Low…I was just on a panel with Steve Albini about how it has had a lot of impact.

DS: You said seventh and eighth grade. Were you always listening to people like Bowie or bands like the Velvets, or did you have an Eddie Murphy My Girl Wants to Party All the Time phase?

JV: The thing for me that was the uncool music, I had an older brother who was really into prog music, so it was like Gentle Giant and Yes and King Crimson and Genesis. All the new Genesis that was happening at the time was mind-blowing. Phil Collins‘s solo record…we had every single solo record, like the Mike Rutherford solo record.

DS: Do you shun that music now or is it still a part of you?

JV: Oh no, I appreciate all music. I’m an anti-snob. Last night when I was going to sleep I was watching Ocean’s Thirteen on my computer. It’s not like I always need to watch some super-fragmented, fucked-up art movie like Inland Empire. It’s part of how I relate to the audience. We end every night by going out into the audience and playing acoustically, directly, right in front of the audience, six inches away—that is part of my philosophy.

DS: Do you think New York or San Francisco suffers from artistic elitism more?

JV: I think because of the Internet that there is less and less elitism; everyone is into some little superstar on YouTube and everyone can now appreciate now Justin Timberlake. There is no need for factions. There is too much information, and I think the idea has broken down that some people…I mean, when was the last time you met someone who was into ska, or into punk, and they dressed the part? I don’t meet those people anymore.

DS: Everything is fusion now, like cuisine. It’s hard to find a purely French or purely Vietnamese restaurant.

JV: Exactly! When I was in high school there were factions. I remember the guys who listened to Black Flag. They looked the part! Like they were in theater.

DS: You still find some emos.

JV: Yes, I believe it. But even emo kids, compared to their older brethren, are so open-minded. I opened up for Sunny Day Real Estate and Pedro the Lion, and I did not find their fans to be the cliquish people that I feared, because I was never playing or marketed in the emo genre. I would say it’s because of the Internet.

DS: You could clearly create music that is more mainstream pop and be successful with it, but you choose a lot of very personal and political themes for your music. Are you ever tempted to put out a studio album geared toward the charts just to make some cash?

JV: I would say no. I’m definitely a capitalist, I was an econ major and I have no problem with making money, but I made a pact with myself very early on that I was only going to release music that was true to the voices and harmonic things I heard inside of me—that were honestly inside me—and I have never broken that pact. We just pulled two new songs from Emerald City because I didn’t feel they were exactly what I wanted to have on a record. Maybe I’m too stubborn or not capable of it, but I don’t think…part of the equation for me: this is a low stakes game, making indie music. Relative to the world, with the people I grew up with and where they are now and how much money they make. The money in indie music is a low stakes game from a financial perspective. So the one thing you can have as an indie artist is credibility, and when you burn your credibility, you are done, man. You can not recover from that. These years I have been true to myself, that’s all I have.

DS: Do you think Spoon burned their indie credibility for allowing their music to be used in commercials and by making more studio-oriented albums? They are one of my favorite bands, but they have come a long way from A Series of Sneaks and Girls Can Tell.

JV: They have, but no, I don’t think they’ve lost their credibility at all. I know those guys so well, and Brit and Jim are doing exactly the music they want to do. Brit owns his own studio, and they completely control their means of production, and they are very insulated by being on Merge, and I think their new album—and I bought Telephono when it came out—is as good as anything they have done.

DS: Do you think letting your music be used on commercials does not bring the credibility problem it once did? That used to be the line of demarcation–the whole Sting thing–that if you did commercials you sold out.

JV: Five years ago I would have said that it would have bothered me. It doesn’t bother me anymore. The thing is that bands have shrinking options for revenue streams, and sync deals and licensing, it’s like, man, you better be open to that idea. I remember when Spike Lee said, ‘Yeah, I did these Nike commercials, but it allowed me to do these other films that I wanted to make,’ and in some ways there is an article that Of Montreal and Spoon and other bands that have done sync deals have actually insulated themselves further from the difficulties of being a successful independent band, because they have had some income come in that have allowed them to stay put on labels where they are not being pushed around by anyone.
The ultimate problem—sort of like the only philosophical problem is suicide—the only philosophical problem is whether to be assigned to a major label because you are then going to have so much editorial input that it is probably going to really hurt what you are doing.

DS: Do you believe the only philosophical question is whether to commit suicide?

JV: Absolutely. I think the rest is internal chatter and if I logged and tried to counter the internal chatter I have inside my own brain there is no way I could match that.

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

JV: The thing for me is they are profound iconic figures for me, and I don’t even know their music. I don’t know Winehouse or Doherty’s music, I just know that they are acting a very crucial, mythic part in our culture, and they might be doing it unknowingly.

DS: Glorification of drugs? The rock lifestyle?

JV: More like an out-of-control Id, completely unregulated personal relationships to the world in general. It’s not just drugs, it’s everything. It’s arguing and scratching people’s faces and driving on the wrong side of the road. Those are just the infractions that land them in jail. I think it might be unknowing, but in some ways they are beautiful figures for going that far off the deep end.

DS: As tragic figures?

JV: Yeah, as totally tragic figures. I appreciate that. I take no pleasure in saying that, but I also believe they are important. The figures that go outside—let’s say GG Allin or Penderetsky in the world of classical music—people who are so far outside of the normal boundaries of behavior and communication, it in some way enlarges the size of your landscape, and it’s beautiful. I know it sounds weird to say that, but it is.

DS: They are examples, as well. I recently covered for Wikinews the Iranian President speaking at Columbia and a student named Matt Glick told me that he supported the Iranian President speaking so that he could protest him, that if we don’t give a platform and voice for people, how can we say that they are wrong? I think it’s almost the same thing; they are beautiful as examples of how living a certain way can destroy you, and to look at them and say, “Don’t be that.”

JV: Absolutely, and let me tell you where I’m coming from. I don’t do drugs, I drink maybe three or four times a year. I don’t have any problematic relationship to drugs because there has been a history around me, like probably any musician or creative person, of just blinding array of drug abuse and problems. For me, I am a little bit of a control freak and I don’t have those issues. I just shut those doors. But I also understand and I am very sympathetic to someone who does not shut that door, but goes into that room and stays.

DS: Is it a problem for you to work with people who are using drugs?

JV: I would never work with them. It is a very selfish decision to make and usually those people are total energy vampires and they will take everything they can get from you. Again, this is all in theory…I love that stuff in theory. If Amy Winehouse was my girlfriend, I would probably not be very happy.

DS: Your latest CD is Emerald City and that is an allusion to the compound that we created in Baghdad. How has the current political client affected you in terms of your music?

JV: In some ways, both Pixel Revolt and Emerald City were born out of a recharged and re-energized position of my being….I was so beaten down after the 2000 election and after 9/11 and then the invasion of Iraq, Afghanistan; I was so depleted as a person after all that stuff happened, that I had to write my way out of it. I really had to write political songs because for me it is a way of making sense and processing what is going on. The question I’m asked all the time is do I think is a responsibility of people to write politically and I always say, My God, no. if you’re Morrissey, then you write Morrissey stuff. If you are Dan Bejar and Destroyer, then you are Dan Bejar and you are a fucking genius. Write about whatever it is you want to write about. But to get out of that hole I had to write about that.

DS: There are two times I felt deeply connected to New York City, and that was 9/11 and the re-election of George Bush. The depression of the city was palpable during both. I was in law school during the Iraq War, and then when Hurricane Katrina hit, we watched our countrymen debate the logic of rebuilding one of our most culturally significant cities, as we were funding almost without question the destruction of another country to then rebuild it, which seems less and less likely. Do you find it is difficult to enjoy living in America when you see all of these sorts of things going on, and the sort of arguments we have amongst ourselves as a people?

JV: I would say yes, absolutely, but one thing changed that was very strange: I fell in love with a French girl and the genesis of Emerald City was going through this visa process to get her into the country, which was through the State Department. In the middle of process we had her visa reviewed and everything shifted over to Homeland Security. All of my complicated feelings about this country became even more dour and complicated, because here was Homeland Security mailing me letters and all involved in my love life, and they were grilling my girlfriend in Paris and they were grilling me, and we couldn’t travel because she had a pending visa. In some strange ways the thing that changed everything was that we finally got the visa accepted and she came here. Now she is a Parisian girl, and it goes without saying that she despises America, and she would never have considered moving to America. So she moves here and is asking me almost breathlessly, How can you allow this to happen

DS: –you, John Vanderslice, how can you allow this—

JV: –Me! Yes! So for the first time in my life I wouldn’t say I was defending the country but I was in this very strange position of saying, Listen, not that many people vote and the churches run fucking everything here, man. It’s like if you take out the evangelical Christian you have basically a progressive western European country. That’s all there is to it. But these people don’t vote, poor people don’t vote, there’s a complicated equation of extreme corruption and voter fraud here, and I found myself trying to rattle of all the reasons to her why I am personally not responsible, and it put me in a very interesting position. And then Sarkozy got elected in France and I watched her go through the same horrific thing that we’ve gone through here, and Sarkozy is a nut, man. This guy is a nut.

DS: But he doesn’t compare to George Bush or Dick Cheney. He’s almost a liberal by American standards.

JV: No, because their President doesn’t have much power. It’s interesting because he is a WAPO right-wing and he was very close to Le Pen and he was a card-carrying straight-up Nazi. I view Sarkozy as somewhat of a far-right candidate, especially in the context of French politics. He is dismantling everything. It’s all changing. The school system, the remnants of the socialized medical care system. The thing is he doesn’t have the foreign policy power that Bush does. Bush and Cheney have unprecedented amounts of power, and black budgets…I mean, come on, we’re spending half a trillion dollars in Iraq, and that’s just the money accounted for.

DS: What’s the reaction to you and your music when you play off the coasts?

JV: I would say good…

DS: Have you ever been Dixiechicked?

JV: No! I want to be! I would love to be, because then that means I’m really part of some fiery debate, but I would say there’s a lot of depressed in every single town. You can say Salt Lake City, you can look at what we consider to be conservative cities, and when you play those towns, man, the kids that come out are more or less on the same page and politically active because they are fish out of water.

DS: Depression breeds apathy, and your music seems geared toward anger, trying to wake people from their apathy. Your music is not maudlin and sad, but seems to be an attempt to awaken a spirit, with a self-reflective bent.

JV: That’s the trick. I would say that honestly, when Katrina happened, I thought, “okay, this is a trick to make people so crazy and so angry that they can’t even think. If you were in a community and basically were in a more or less quasi-police state surveillance society with no accountability, where we are pouring untold billions into our infrastructure to protect outside threats against via terrorism, or whatever, and then a natural disaster happens and there is no response. There is an empty response. There is all these ships off the shore that were just out there, just waiting, and nobody came. Michael Brown. It is one of the most insane things I have ever seen in my life.

DS: Is there a feeling in San Francisco that if an earthquake struck, you all would be on your own?

JV: Yes, of course. Part of what happened in New Orleans is that it was a Catholic city, it was a city of sin, it was a black city. And San Francisco? Bush wouldn’t even visit California in the beginning because his numbers were so low. Before Schwarzenegger definitely. I’m totally afraid of the earthquake, and I think everyone is out there. America is in the worst of both worlds: a laissez-fare economy and then the Grover Norquist anti-tax, starve the government until it turns into nothing more than a Argentinian-style government where there are these super rich invisible elite who own everything and there’s no distribution of wealth and nothing that resembles the New Deal, twentieth century embracing of human rights and equality, war against poverty, all of these things. They are trying to kill all that stuff. So, in some ways, it is the worst of both worlds because they are pushing us towards that, and on the same side they have put in a Supreme Court that is so right wing and so fanatically opposed to upholding civil rights, whether it be for foreign fighters…I mean, we are going to see movement with abortion, Miranda rights and stuff that is going to come up on the Court. We’ve tortured so many people who have had no intelligence value that you have to start to look at torture as a symbolic and almost ritualized behavior; you have this…

DS: Organ failure. That’s our baseline…

JV: Yeah, and you have to wonder about how we were torturing people to do nothing more than to send the darkest signal to the world to say, Listen, we are so fucking weird that if you cross the line with us, we are going to be at war with your religion, with your government, and we are going to destroy you.

DS: I interviewed Congressman Tom Tancredo, who is running for President, and he feels we should use as a deterrent against Islam the bombing of the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

JV: You would radicalize the very few people who have not been radicalized, yet, by our actions and beliefs. We know what we’ve done out there, and we are going to paying for this for a long time. When Hezbollah was bombing Israel in that border excursion last year, the Hezbollah fighters were writing the names of battles they fought with the Jews in the Seventh Century on their helmets. This shit is never forgotten.

DS: You read a lot of the stuff that is written about you on blogs and on the Internet. Do you ever respond?

JV: No, and I would say that I read stuff that tends to be . I’ve done interviews that have been solely about film and photography. For some reason hearing myself talk about music, and maybe because I have been talking about it for so long, it’s snoozeville. Most interviews I do are very regimented and they tend to follow a certain line. I understand. If I was them, it’s a 200 word piece and I may have never played that town, in Des Moines or something. But, in general, it’s like…my band mates ask why don’t I read the weeklies when I’m in town, and Google my name. It would be really like looking yourself in the mirror. When you look at yourself in the mirror you are just error-correcting. There must be some sort of hall of mirrors thing that happens when you are completely involved in the Internet conversation about your music, and in some ways I think that I’m very innocently making music, because I don’t make music in any way that has to do with the response to that music. I don’t believe that the response to the music has anything to do with it. This is something I got from John Cage and Marcel Duchamp, I think the perception of the artwork, in some ways, has nothing to do with the artwork, and I think that is a beautiful, glorious and flattering thing to say to the perceiver, the viewer of that artwork. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at Paul Klee‘s drawings, lithographs, watercolors and paintings and when I read his diaries I’m not sure how much of a correlation there is between what his color schemes are denoting and what he is saying and what I am getting out of it. I’m not sure that it matters. Inland Empire is a great example. Lynch basically says, I don’t want to talk about it because I’m going to close doors for the viewer. It’s up to you. It’s not that it’s a riddle or a puzzle. You know how much of your own experience you are putting into the digestion of your own art. That’s not to say that that guy arranges notes in an interesting way, and sings in an interesting way and arranges words in an interesting way, but often, if someone says they really like my music, what I want to say is, That’s cool you focused your attention on that thing, but it does not make me go home and say, Wow, you’re great. My ego is not involved in it.

DS: Often people assume an artist makes an achievement, say wins a Tony or a Grammy or even a Cable Ace Award and people think the artist must feel this lasting sense of accomplishment, but it doesn’t typically happen that way, does it? Often there is some time of elation and satisfaction, but almost immediately the artist is being asked, “Okay, what’s the next thing? What’s next?” and there is an internal pressure to move beyond that achievement and not focus on it.

JV: Oh yeah, exactly. There’s a moment of relief when a mastered record gets back, and then I swear to you that ten minutes after that point I feel there are bigger fish to fry. I grew up listening to classical music, and there is something inside of me that says, Okay, I’ve made six records. Whoop-dee-doo. I grew up listening to Gustav Mahler, and I will never, ever approach what he did.

DS: Do you try?

JV: I love Mahler, but no, his music is too expansive and intellectual, and it’s realized harmonically and compositionally in a way that is five languages beyond me. And that’s okay. I’m very happy to do what I do. How can anyone be so jazzed about making a record when you are up against, shit, five thousand records a week—

DS: —but a lot of it’s crap—

JV: —a lot of it’s crap, but a lot of it is really, really good and doesn’t get the attention it deserves. A lot of it is very good. I’m shocked at some of the stuff I hear. I listen to a lot of music and I am mailed a lot of CDs, and I’m on the web all the time.

DS: I’ve done a lot of photography for Wikipedia and the genesis of it was an attempt to pin down reality, to try to understand a world that I felt had fallen out of my grasp of understanding, because I felt I had no sense of what this world was about anymore. For that, my work is very encyclopedic, and it fit well with Wikipedia. What was the reason you began investing time and effort into photography?

JV: It came from trying to making sense of touring. Touring is incredibly fast and there is so much compressed imagery that comes to you, whether it is the window in the van, or like now, when we are whisking through the Northeast in seven days. Let me tell you, I see a lot of really close people in those seven days. We move a lot, and there is a lot of input coming in. The shows are tremendous and, it is emotionally so overwhelming that you can not log it. You can not keep a file of it. It’s almost like if I take photos while I am doing this, it slows it down or stops it momentarily and orders it. It has made touring less of a blur; concretizes these times. I go back and develop the film, and when I look at the tour I remember things in a very different way. It coalesces. Let’s say I take on fucking photo in Athens, Georgia. That’s really intense. And I tend to take a photo of someone I like, or photos of people I really admire and like.

DS: What bands are working with your studio, Tiny Telephone?

JV: Death Cab for Cutie is going to come back and track their next record there. Right now there is a band called Hello Central that is in there, and they are really good. They’re from L.A. Maids of State was just in there and w:Deerhoof was just in there. Book of Knotts is coming in soon. That will be cool because I think they are going to have Beck sing on a tune. That will be really cool. There’s this band called Jordan from Paris that is starting this week.

DS: Do they approach you, or do you approach them?

JV I would say they approach me. It’s generally word of mouth. We never advertise and it’s very cheap, below market. It’s analog. There’s this self-fulfilling thing that when you’re booked, you stay booked. More bands come in, and they know about it and they keep the business going that way. But it’s totally word of mouth.

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