Fur fans flock to Toronto’s Furnal Equinox 2019

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Monday, March 25, 2019

From March 15 to 17, the Canadian city of Toronto played host to the tenth Furnal Equinox, an annual event dedicated to the “furry fandom.” Wikinews attended. Programming ranged from music to gender, science to art, covering dozens of aspects of the varied subculture. The event’s featured guests were visual artists Moth Monarch and Cat-Monk Shiro, as well as the co-owners of US fursuit costume builders Don’t Hug Cacti.

The event raised nearly CDN$11,000 for Pet Patrol, a non-profit rescue organization in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, run by volunteers. This exceeded their goal of $10,000, the funds needed to finish a rural sanctuary. The furry community is well-known for their charitable efforts. Along with direct donations, the funds were raised through a charity auction offering original artwork, and a fursuit design by guests of honour “Don’t Hug Cacti.” Last year, Furnal Equinox raised funds for a farm animal sanctuary.

While only 10–15% of people within the fandom own a fursuit according to a 2011 study, event organizers reported this year 908 of the 2240 attendees at Furnal Equinox brought at least one elaborate outfit to the event. The outfits are usually based on original characters, known as “fursonas”.

Guests of Honour Cherie and Sean O’Donnell, known within the community as “Lucky and Skuff Coyote”, held a session on fursuit construction on Saturday afternoon. The married couple are among the most prominent builders in the fandom, under the name Don’t Hug Cacti. The scale of their business was evident, as Sean had made over a thousand pairs of “handpaws”, costume gloves.

The couple encouraged attendees to continue developing their technique, sharing that all professional fursuit makers had developed different techniques. They felt that they learned more from failed projects than successful ones, citing the Chuck Jones quote that “every artist has thousands of bad drawings,” and that you have to work through them to achieve. Cherie, known as Lucky, recalled receiving a Sylvester the Cat plush toy from a Six Flags theme park at age 10. She promptly hollowed the toy out, turning it into a costume. Creating a costume isn’t without its hazards: the company uses 450°F (232°C) glue guns. They’re “like sticking your hand in an oven.”

Other programming included improv comedy, dances, life drawing of fursuiters, a review of scientific research by a research group at four universities called FurScience, a pin collector’s social, and workshops in writing.

The “Dealer’s Den” hall was expanded this year, with even more retailers and artists. While many offered “furry” versions of traditional products, at least one business focused on “pushing the boundaries of fursuit technology.” Along with 3D printing a bone-shaped name tag when Wikinews visited, Grivik was demonstrating miniature computer screens that could be used as “eyes” for a fursuit. The electronic displays projected an animation of eyes looking around, blinking occasionally. The maker has also developed “a way to install a camera inside suit heads, to improve fursuiter visibility.” He hopes the tech would reduce suiting risks and accidents. Without the need for eyeholes, fursuit makers would have “more options for building different eyestyles.”

Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Green candidate Andrew McAvoy, Windsor-Tecumseh

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Andrew McAvoy is running for the Green Party of Ontario in the Ontario provincial election, in the Windsor-Tecumseh riding. Wikinews’ Nick Moreau interviewed him regarding his values, his experience, and his campaign.

Stay tuned for further interviews; every candidate from every party is eligible, and will be contacted. Expect interviews from Liberals, Progressive Conservatives, New Democratic Party members, Ontario Greens, as well as members from the Family Coalition, Freedom, Communist, Libertarian, and Confederation of Regions parties, as well as independents.

BBC support song making chart impact

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A song released yesterday in support of the BBC is making an impact on several UK music charts.

Stand-up comic Mitch Benn wrote I’m Proud of the BBC in response to the criticism the licence fee-funded corporation has received from its commercial competitors and the right-wing press. The Conservative-led coalition government announced two weeks ago that the licence fee is to be frozen for six years, and that the BBC will take over responsibility from the Foreign Office for funding the World Service.

You also pay for the Fire Brigade, whether or not your house burns down. Public service.

The song, loosely inspired by Billy Joel, lists many of the BBC’s achievements. Benn, a regular on BBC Radio 4’s satirical programme The Now Show, decided to release I’m Proud of the BBC as a single after realising that it was provoking emotional responses from audiences during his nationwide tour. He told BBC Radio 5 Live that the song was receiving standing ovations, and people were wiping away tears. A video was filmed last month outside of Broadcasting House, White City and Television Centre with a cast of volunteers recruited from the social networking site Twitter.

The song was officially released as a ‘download-only’ track on Monday. Yesterday’s charts reveal that it has reached pole position on Amazon’s rock chart, and is listed as the 14th most downloaded track overall. iTunes listed it as the 64th most downloaded song. Fans have created two Facebook groups to promote the single in an attempt to get it to a good position in the UK Singles Chart, which would force the BBC’s commercial rivals to play the track.

Benn says that he has always been a supporter of the BBC, and yesterday compared it to the emergency services. “You also pay for the Fire Brigade, whether or not your house burns down. Public service.” He points out that he only receives a small percentage of his income from the corporation; last night he played with his band The Distractions at the Bloomsbury Theatre in London.

News briefs:June 17, 2010

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

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Friday, September 28, 2007

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

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

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

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


DS: Do you have any favorite books?

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

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

NK: I haven’t seen it yet!

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

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

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

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

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

NK: I don’t think I’m very good…

DS: You look cool with it!

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

DS: Do you design your own clothes?

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

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

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

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

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

DS: —as are you—

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DS: Is it always pine trees that you see?

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

DS: What things in nature inspire you?

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

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

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

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

NK: Oh. My. God.

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

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

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

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

DS: How are you received in the Pakistani community?

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

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

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

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

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

Obama cabinet nominees withdraw over tax issues

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

On Tuesday, United States President Barack Obama saw two of his cabinet nominations withdraw from consideration after issues with their taxes became public knowledge.

I think I screwed up.

Former Senator Tom Daschle from South Dakota withdrew after it was revealed he failed to pay US$128,203 in taxes. He has since made the payment including a $11,964 interest payment. Obama had nominated him as the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Nancy Killefer, whom Obama had appointed to the newly created position of Chief Performance Officer, withdrew her nomination because she had failed to pay payroll taxes on a household employee.

“I think I screwed up,” Obama said in an interview with CNN. “And, I take responsibility for it and we’re going to make sure we fix it so it doesn’t happen again.”

Last week, Timothy F. Geithner survived his nomination and was confirmed as Secretary of the Treasury, even though it was revealed that he had failed to pay $34,000 in taxes on income earned while working for the International Monetary Fund.

Microsoft announces plan to acquire GitHub for US$7.5 billion

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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

On Monday, United States technology giant Microsoft announced their plans to acquire GitHub, a San Francisco, California-based web-based hosting service for software version control using Git, for 7.5 billion US Dollars (USD).

In the official announcement at the Microsoft News web site, the company said they are to reach agreement with GitHub by the end of the year. They said the agreement would allow them to deliver Microsoft development services to GitHub users, and “accelerate enterprise use of GitHub”. GitHub had been financially struggling recently and is expected to get a new CEO.

In 2016, according to financial news and media company Bloomberg L.P., through three quarters GitHub lost USD 66 million, while in nine months of that year GitHub had revenue of USD 98 million. In August 2017 GitHub said they were seeking a new CEO. According to the announcements by GitHub and Microsoft, the Microsoft Corporate Vice President Nat Friedman would become the new CEO of GitHub. He had created app creation platform company Xamarin and was “an open-source veteran”, Microsoft said.

GitHub confirmed the acquisition plans on its blog. In this announcement they alluded to concerns about past friction between Microsoft and open-source software, however they said “things are different. […] Microsoft is the most active organization on GitHub in the world”, mentioning VS Code as an example. In the announcement, GitHub also referred to its several years of collaboration with Microsoft on Git LFS and Electron. GitHub also mentioned the Azure development platform run by Microsoft.

East Timor – Australia problematic billion-dollar gas and oil accord

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Saturday, December 3, 2005

Australia and East Timor officials signed a billion-dollar gas and oil accord, which is necessary because of a current maritime border dispute between the countries, which covers a major oil field. Although the accord has to be ratified by East Timor’s parliament which is ruled by Fretilin with 55 seats the biggest block in parliament, but all the smaller parties are said to be working together to veto the deal.

In 1975, Portugal abandoned East Timor and the people declared self-independence only to be invaded by Indonesia with out any intervention from Australia or the United States. Indonesia then agreed on no formal maritime boards but on a joint exploitation zone splitting profits 50/50. Indonesian rule in East Timor was marked by extreme violence and brutality and following a UN-sponsored agreement between Indonesia, Portugal and the US, East Timor held a referendum and gained independence, but violent Indonesian sponsored militia took hold. A peacekeeping force (INTERFET, led by Australia) then intervened putting a stop to the violence. The exploitation zone splitting profits was then changed to 60% in favour of Australia, but now a new deal has been proposed 90/10 in favour of Timor. In the mean time Australia has been accused of profiting by up to 2 billion dollars between the deals by activist groups like http://www.timorseajustice.org/ whose campaigning saw Woodside suspended oil pumping in the affected area.

Contemporary International law asserts that the area under dispute belongs to East Timor. Australia has withdrawn from the maritime division of the International Court of Justice, which could have settled this matter, instead opting to try to settle the matter without the court.

The previous deal has caused political infighting within East Timor about why such a smaller percentage was accepted.

British counterterrorism agents say many of Manchester arena suicide bomber’s confederates in custody

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Saturday, May 27, 2017

British police announced yesterday they believe they have arrested most of the confederates of suicide bomber Salman Abedi, who attacked an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester this Monday, killing 22 and injuring 116, of whom 23 were still in critical condition. As of this morning, eleven people were being held for questioning. One woman and one teenage boy were questioned and released. Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, Britain’s counterterrorism chief, reassured the public yesterday.

“Enjoy yourselves and be reassured by the greater policing presence you will see,” said Rowley. “We can’t let the terrorists win by dissuading us from going about our normal business.” However, the official threat level of critical, indicating another attack may be imminent, is still in place this weekend. Officers equipped with firearms, which are not as common in the United Kingdom as in the United States, patrol some streets and beaches.

Police and other experts said they believe Abedi, 22, could not have built such a sophisticated bomb by himself and must have had accomplices. The nuts and bolts inside it had been arranged with care to cause maximum damage, as if the person who made it had some experience.

“I think he saw children, Muslim children, dying everywhere,” Abedi’s sister Jomana told reporters concerning her brother’s motives. “He saw the explosives America drops on children in Syria, and he wanted revenge. Whether he got that is between him and God.” According to CNN, a friend of the Abedi family said Abedi wanted revenge for the gang killing of a friend.

Several members of the Muslim community in Manchester, including the imam of his local mosque, had contacted authorities about Abedi, who had been expressing extremist and violent views for some time.

Abedi was born and raised in Manchester to parents who fled Gaddafi-era Libya. His father returned there after the 2011 regime change and Abedi and his mother and brother joined him later. Abedi reportedly returned to the United Kingdom shortly before the bombing.

“[T]here has been enormous progress with the investigation, but still an awful lot of work to do” Manchester police chief constable Ian Hopkins told the press. He also said the rate of hate crimes in his jurisdiction had nearly doubled this week, from 28 daily to 56.

Wikinews Shorts: February 6, 2009

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A compilation of brief news reports for Friday, February 6, 2009.

Contents

  • 1 Clarkson calls British Prime Minister Gordon a ‘one-eyed Scottish idiot’
  • 2 U.S. gay spouses entitled to benefits, says judge
  • 3 Royal Bank of Scotland fires non-execs
  • 4 Icelandic retailer Baugur in trouble
 Contribute to Wikinews by expanding these briefs or add a new one.

British television presenter and newspaper columnist Jeremy Clarkson has told journalists in Sydney, Australia, that UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown is a “one-eyed Scottish idiot”.

The remark caused outrage amongst Scottish Labour politicians with some calling for the BBC to sack him. Clarkson has since apologised.

Sources


U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Reinhardt has ruled that same-sex marriages must be treated the same as straight marriages by authorities when it comes to healthcare and benefits rights. He also said that the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional.

The judge was ruling in a specific administrative dispute process, so the judgment does not set a wider precedent.

Sources


The troubled Royal Bank of Scotland, now 68% controlled by the UK government, has fired seven non-executive directors from the pre-credit crunch era.

The bank is about to report losses of £28 billion and has been under fire for plans to pay bonuses to the trading staff who generated them.

Sources


Baugur, the Icelandic retail giant, has failed to get bankruptcy protection from its creditors at home and has placed its British arm in administration.

The group, which owns or has stakes in a large number of British High Street famous names, is being pursued for the equivalent of £1 billion in Iceland by the recently nationalized Landsbanki.

Sources