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US fans turn out for 2012 Phoenix Comicon

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Phoenix, Arizona — Last weekend, Phoenix fans of comics, science fiction, horror, fantasy, cos-play, anime and manga, Society for Creative Anachronism, and more, marked a milestone as the city held its tenth annual Phoenix Comicon at the Phoenix Convention Center. The event — which is entirely the work of more than 700 volunteers according to coordinator Colin Aprill — generated around US$5 million for the “Valley of the Sun” during its four-day run. Wikinews was there.

As one unknown source from the crowd was overheard saying, “It’s all about the fans.” Descending into the hall by escalator gave a sense of the scale to the creativity in the center. Fans could be seen scattering about in a flurry of motion on their way from one event to another and producing their own spectacle, most in costume, on their way.

This year the four-day convention in the Valley was estimated to set a new attendance record as 30,000 visitors showed. Most were clothed in costumes that transformed themselves into Batmans, creeper box heads, furries, Lady and Knight couple, pirates, pixies, Star Trek officers, Star Wars’ Empire troopers, Superwomen, and zombies. One of the most common activities at Comicon was people taking photos of each other while they took turns posing or snapping shots.

The Camp family stopped intermittently to have their photos taken by others. The Camps were led by eldest brother Jim “Batman” Camp. He attended Comicon with his sister Tina “Good Witch” Camp, who brought her daughter Katie “Super Woman.” Sibling Tony Camp, who attended with his daughter Stella “Bat Girl,” was said to be “the instigator” behind the family’s turnout at Comicon. “You get to be dressed up and can act goofy, and you don’t feel weird because everybody is dressing up, too,” said Tony about the family-friendly event.

The exhibit hall was filled with artists and merchants selling comic books, trinkets, memorabilia, wares and keepsakes. Amidst the shoppers, the photo opportunities continued to attract the most attention. For all the star-studded autograph booths and an artist alley with famed comic book artists, the most fun was simply enjoying the presence of other fans in costume.

The Thirteenth Floor Haunted House took advantage of the photo-op activity by supplying monsters “Nemesis” and “Collosus” for more of this activity. Manager Tim Pugsley says the company owns five out of the top 1300 haunted houses in the United States. The monsters’ human counterparts remained anonymous on purpose. “The characters don’t get ruined that way,” said a handler.

Montana E. had his picture taken with “Nemesis” by friend Joey Deihl, while Eddie Deleon and young Raquel Munguia posed with “Collosus.”

Fans also gathered Saturday for a flash mob event, in which people danced or acted to Michael Jackson’s mega-hit song “Thriller”. An entertainment group calling themselves “The Zombie Chicks” attended the flash mob and then later drifted in trance through the exhibitor hall of the convention center. “We’re here for the performance, not for the stuff,” said Tori Hoganson, who pointed like a bored consumer at the trinkets in a stall. She was careful to use as few words as possible to speak her mind out of character before going back mindfully to her mindless performance. She was accompanied by her friends, who in human form are known as Emmalaine Wright and Lyle Yanak. The group was watched closely and held at bay by “The Keeper” Ben Fondren, who lurked nearby as a faceless shadow.

The fans also turned out to see big stars, like William Shatner, who portrayed Captain Kirk in the original Star Trek series; LeVar Burton, who is synonymous with the ship’s engineer Geordi La Forge in Star Trek: The Next Generation; or Jon Bernthal, who was the sometimes hero and sometimes anti-hero Shane Walsh in the TV series The Waking Dead.

Father and son John and David Phelps, who are both Star Trek fans, attended the event together and were excited to see Shatner. “He can be funny, but he’s also fun to laugh at,” said John Phelps with a smile. His son David liked to laugh at Shatner when the artist attempted to sing. Shatner has had an alternative “tongue-in-cheek” career singing hits such as “Common People” on the 2004 album Has Been.

Hunter Lewis got Jon Bernthal’s autograph, which came penned with the message, “I F@&#’in hate Zombies.” Zombies were the main source of the angst that bedeviled characters in his hit TV show. Hunter’s friends Justin Rose, Ryan Scola and Taylor Fagen also met with Bernthal in the autograph line. This was just one of many examples of how friends and family were bonding and sharing together in the spectacle throughout the convention center.

There were also breakout sessions for classes, performances, gaming, and crafts. Nyki Robertson Crosby, a.k.a. “Lady Thunder,” who is the matriarch of one of the largest houses for the Society for Creative Anachronism in the Phoenix area, sponsored a class on creating a “Basic T-shirt Tunic” so that anyone who wanted to attend an S.C.A. event in costume could fit in with a minimal investment in time, effort and money. She said the secret is to create a costume that could be one someone would wear between 600–1600 A.D. “We’re the Society of Creative Anachronism and not the Society of Creative Accuracy,” Robertson Crosby said.

The Phoenix Comicon was carnivalesque in its look and feel. And it spread well beyond the convention center as knights and Wonderland characters and more walked the streets of Phoenix and lunched and dined with the “civilians”. The civilians were the ones who kept asking, “What’s going on?”

They may have been “out of towners” visiting the “Valley of the Sun” between May 24–27, because after ten years, Phoenix now has an established tradition.

This year’s largest Comicon is to be Comic-Con International San Diego 2012, July 12–15 in California.

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Thaksin still pervades Thai political landscape

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Thailand’s fugitive ex-premier, Thaksin Shinawatra is in the news again today, phoning supporters in the country and appealing for no celebration of his sixtieth birthday at Sanam Luang outside the royal palace in Bangkok. This follows some red-shirted United front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) supporters vowing to go ahead with the party despite Bangkok‘s Governor, Sukhumband Paribatra, saying he will deny any request.

According to Thailand’s English-language Bangkok Post, UDD leader Shinawat Haboonpad expressed determination to see the July 26 celebration go ahead, “… we will show our civil disobedience and ignore his order”.

The divisive impact of the populist Thaksin stretches back prior to him being ousted by a bloodless military coup in September 2006. As far back as 2005 figures within the Thai establishment were speaking against him; Thaksin used the courts to try and prevent dissemination of negative material, including the publication of a sermon by a respected Buddhist monk who compared him to Phra Devadhat, the Thai Buddhist equivalent of the devil. Bangkokians formed into the yellow-shirted anti-Thaksin People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) accusing the Prime Minister of corruption. Following the military intervention in 2006, and a groundswell of support among rural poor voters, the opposing pro-Thaksin groups formed into the UDD. Despite conviction in-absentia, Thaksin colours Thai politics, and has derailed efforts to stabilise the country’s political institutions.

This past week it has been the lead-up to the December 2008 dissolution of the pro-Thaksin People’s Power Party (PPP) government that has resurfaced. The then-Prime Minister, Somchai Wongsawat was barred from politics and his PPP dissolved by the country’s Constitutional Court following anti-Thaksin yellow shirts occupying Bangkok’s international airport and stranding as many as 300,000 tourists in the country. Now the country’s Foreign Minister, Kasit Piromya, a PAD leader, is facing pressure to step down for his part in the airport siege and blockade.

A report in Monday’s Bangkok Post indicates that Thai authorities continue to pursue Thaksin. The Interior Minister said that an attempt had been made to arrest Thaksin in Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur, but he had evaded capture and managed to return to Fiji where he remains in exile and a fugitive.

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Australia/2005

Contents

  • 1 January
  • 2 February
  • 3 March
  • 4 April
  • 5 May
  • 6 June
  • 7 July
  • 8 August
  • 9 September
  • 10 October
  • 11 November
  • 12 December

[edit]

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Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson warns Pennsylvania town of disaster

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson warned residents of a rural Pennsylvania town Thursday that disaster may strike there because they “voted God out of your city” by ousting school board members who favored teaching intelligent design.

All eight Dover, Pa., school board members up for re-election were defeated Tuesday after trying to introduce “intelligent design” — the belief that the universe is so complex that it must have been created by a higher power — as an alternative to the theory of evolution.

“I’d like to say to the good citizens of Dover: If there is a disaster in your area, don’t turn to God. You just rejected him from your city,” Robertson said on the Christian Broadcasting Network’s “700 Club.”

Eight families had sued the district, claiming the policy violates the constitutional separation of church and state. The federal trial concluded days before Tuesday’s election, but no ruling has been issued.

Later Thursday, Robertson issued a statement saying he was simply trying to point out that “our spiritual actions have consequences.”

“God is tolerant and loving, but we can’t keep sticking our finger in his eye forever,” Robertson said. “If they have future problems in Dover, I recommend they call on Charles Darwin. Maybe he can help them.”

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NYSE to merge with Archipelago; NASDAQ to buy Instinet

Sunday, April 24, 2005

New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) announced last Wednesday that it has agreed definitively to merge with Chicago-based Archipelago Exchange (ArcaEx) and form a new publicly traded, for-profit company known as NYSE Group. This announcement was followed two days later by NASDAQ®, which independently announced a definitive agreement to purchase Instinet Group.

Archipelago and Instinet are innovative e-trading (electronic trading) companies, and formerly were the two largest American rivals to NYSE and NASDAQ, in recent years taking increasingly large portions of their market share. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and other regulatory agencies still have to review and approve the transactions, particularly with respect to US securities law and antitrust law, in order to ensure that the marketplace remains lawful and competitive.

Other pending issues for NASDAQ include obtaining the approval of Instinet shareholders, as well as customary closing conditions. NYSE must obtain the approval of its members and Archipelago shareholders.

These changes, a reaction to increased e-trading competition and a changed regulatory environment, will result in NASDAQ and NYSE trading each other’s shares and attempting to grab market share, which many hope will drive down transaction costs and ultimately benefit consumers. However, at least one commentator, Dan Ackman writing in Forbes, has noted that the trading commission at the NYSE currently averages less than a nickel (US$0.05) per share, and was less enthusiastic about potential efficiency gains from electronic trading at the exchange.

The transactions are also intended to make the two leading American stock exchanges more globally competitive with such exchanges as the London Stock Exchange, the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, the Toronto Stock Exchange, and the Australian Stock Exchange located in Sydney.

PostHeaderIcon Inexpensively Building Up A Tool Collection At A Pawn Shop In Chicago

byAlma Abell

Working with cheap, bad tools can be a frustrating experience indeed. Skilled and experienced craftsmen invariably recognize this fact and invest in the tools of their trade enough that this never has to be an issue for them, but those who take a less dedicated approach to carpentry, mechanical work, and the like often suffer with tools that are simply not up to the job. Part of the reason why is that high quality tools can be surprisingly expensive, as the materials that are used in creating them are themselves not cheap.

One good option for the amateur mechanic or carpenter who is looking to upgrade their tools is a visit or two to a pawn shop in Chicago. Quality tools, it turns out, are among the most commonly pawned items of all, leaving many pawn shops in the area with a surprisingly rich assortment of tools from the major, well-known makers.

Best of all, prices at a Pawn Shop are almost invariably far lower than what buyers would expect to pay at retail. Workers at a pawn shop in Chicago will normally give a relatively small fraction of an item’s original, retail price to the person who pawns it, leaving the pawn shop in a good position when it comes to pricing the goods for eventual buyers.

That means that those who are willing to do the work can find some impressive bargains, whether for circular saws, high quality wrench sets, or similar implements. Buyers should expect to need to do some research, but simply having a smart phone at one’s disposal while browsing is typically all that it takes to figure out if a given tool is a good deal or not.

Once a promising-looking tool has been found, too, there is plenty of opportunity for sweetening the deal further. Unlike most other retailers, pawn shops in the area tend to be quite flexible on price, particularly for those customers who are willing to lighten their store shelves substantially in a single trip. Haggling for better prices, then, is a great way of improving deals further, and can make it even easier to improve the selection of tools at the disposal of a home mechanic.Contact a pawn shop

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Elizabeth II annuls Fred Goodwin knighthood

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Queen Elizabeth II, the British monarch, has today withdrawn and annulled a knighthood given to Fred Goodwin in 2004, heeding the advice given to her by a forfeiture committee. Goodwin is the former chief executive at the Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) and was awarded his knighthood by the British government of the time for services to banking. The committee concluded “that widespread concerns about Fred Goodwin’s decision meant that the retention of a knighthood for services to banking could not be sustained.”

Goodwin was chief executive of RBS when they purchased ABN AMRO, a Netherlands bank, in 2007. The British government subsequently bailed out RBS for £45 billion, amidst the late-2000s financial crisis.

British prime minister David Cameron stated about the annulment: “The proper process has been followed and I think we’ve ended up with the right decision.” Cameron and Ed Miliband, UK Leader of the Opposition, both believed Goodwin’s knighthood should be removed. Miliband called it “the start of the change we need in our boardrooms.”

Liberal Democrat leader and Deputy PM Nick Clegg considered it to be the “right decision”. “[A]ppropriate” was the word George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer used to describe it. “RBS came to symbolise everything that went wrong in the British economy in the last decade,” Osborne stated. Alex Salmond, First Minister of Scotland stated the title was given “for services to banking which could not therefore be sustained”, calling the decision “correct”.

Goodwin does not have the right to appeal against the decision, nor had the right to provide the forfeiture committee with any representations. The monarch holds sole responsibility for withdrawing all knighthoods; on this occasion Elizabeth II followed the advice of the committee, who decided to recommend the withdrawal to her. The Cabinet Office announced the advice had been given to the queen on the understanding that “Goodwin had brought the honours system in to disrepute”.

Speaking of the “exceptional case”, the committee explained: “In 2008, the government had to provide £20 billion of new equity to recapitalise RBS and ensure its survival and prevent the collapse of confidence in the British banking system. Subsequent increases in government capital have brought the total necessary injection of taxpayers’ money in RBS to £45.5 billion.” The committee understood that “Fred Goodwin was the dominant decision maker at RBS at the time.”

Until this announcement, criminal conviction and professional expulsion were the only causes for which individuals had their knighthoods revoked.

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Author Amy Scobee recounts abuse as Scientology executive

Monday, October 11, 2010

Wikinews interviewed author Amy Scobee about her book Scientology – Abuse at the Top, and asked her about her experiences working as an executive within the organization. Scobee joined the organization at age 14, and worked at Scientology’s international management headquarters for several years before leaving in 2005. She served as a Scientology executive in multiple high-ranking positions, working out of the international headquarters of Scientology known as “Gold Base”, located in Gilman Hot Springs near Hemet, California.

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The Wii, Nintendo’s next generation console, launches in North America

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Nintendo has released its newest video game console in North America. Known as the Wii, the system and games have an MSRP of US$249.99 and US$49.99 respectively. The North American release is to be followed by the December 2nd launch in Japan and the December 8th launch in Europe.

Launched officially at midnight, more than a thousand people gathered in New York’s Time Square to be among the first to buy one of the Wii. In contrast to the crowds that have challenged crowd control officials over the last two days in connection with the launch of Sony’s Playstation 3, the Wii crowds have been much calmer. Many observers attribute this to the fact that Nintendo had more than ten times as many Wii consoles available on launching day than Sony did for their PS3 that had been hounded by part shortages in manufacturing right up to the day of launch.

Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime said that several tough choices had been made in the design of the Wii. The company decided to develop a new way of playing games with revolutionary controllers instead of following the PS3 and the Xbox down the road of stunning graphic and multimedia options. This produced a console with a much talked-about sensor/controller design and the lowest price point of the three major consoles. While not having a DVD player or high-definition TV capabilities, the Wii retails for about $250 while its competitors the Xbox 360 and PS3 retail for about $400 and $600 respectively.

While the Wii will launch with several games available, one of its advertised advantages is that the new console is largely compatible with older games made for the GameCube, giving the new console an instant and extensive launching library. A GameCube controller will be needed to play GameCube games with the Wii. Several hardware items that GameCube games may be expecting, such as the modem or broadband adapter or the GameBoy player are not supported on the Wii.

Across the country in Los Angeles about 500 people were waiting for the doors to open at Universal City Walk’s Game Stop store. Fearing that the Wii introduction might be as contentious as the PS3 debut just a few days ago, the store handed out numbered wristbands to the throng. No problems were reported.

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Scientists say that a ‘global layer of water’ exists on Saturn’s moon Titan

Friday, March 21, 2008

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has discovered evidence that points to the existence of an underground ocean of water and ammonia on Saturn‘s moon Titan.

“We believe that about 100 kilometers (62 miles) beneath the ice and organic-rich surface is an internal ocean of liquid water mixed with ammonia,” said Bryan Stiles of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

If the findings turn out to be true, this will be the fourth such moon in our solar system found to have some form of water on it. Currently only three other moons, all from Jupiter, have been found to have known water sources. Ganymede, Callisto and Europa are so far the only known moons with a water source.

Members of the mission’s science team used Cassini’s Synthetic Aperture Radar to collect imaging data during 19 separate passes over Titan between October 2005 and May 2007. The radar can see through Titan’s dense, methane-rich atmospheric haze, detailing never-before-seen surface features and establishing their locations on the moon’s surface.

Using data from the radar’s early observations, the scientists and radar engineers established the locations of 50 unique landmarks on Titan’s surface. They then searched for these same lakes, canyons and mountains in the reams of data returned by Cassini in its later flybys of Titan. They found prominent surface features had shifted from their expected positions by up to 30 kilometers (19 miles). A systematic displacement of surface features would be difficult to explain unless the moon’s icy crust was decoupled from its core by an internal ocean, making it easier for the crust to move.

Cassini scientists will not have long to wait before another go at Titan. On March 25, just prior to its closest approach at an altitude of 1,000 kilometers (620 miles), Cassini will employ its Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer to examine Titan’s upper atmosphere. Immediately after closest approach, the spacecraft’s Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer will capture high-resolution images of Titan’s southeast quadrant.

The study of Titan is a major goal of the Cassini-Huygens mission because it may preserve, in deep-freeze, many of the chemical compounds that preceded life on Earth. Titan is the only moon in the solar system that possesses a dense atmosphere. The moon’s atmosphere is 1.5 times denser than Earth’s. Titan is the largest of Saturn’s moons, bigger than the planet Mercury.