Friday, February 6, 2009

Denny’s 1,600 chain restaurants across North America, Puerto Rico and Canada, were slammed for eight hours Tuesday with hungry patrons standing on sidewalks for nearly two hours to take advantage of the $5.99 “Grand Slam Breakfast” giveaway.

Denny’s, a dining chain with annual revenue of about $900 million, has advertised in a TV commercial Sunday during the Super Bowl XLIII that it would give away its signature breakfast from 6 a.m. until 2 p.m. local time Tuesday, at all its restaurants in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, while supplies lasted.

Denny’s Diner has promoted the iconic dish giveaway heavily, with a bold 30-second appeal ad that aired during the third quarter of the Super Bowl 43 on Sunday, plus another 15-second ad during the post-game show, offering a free breakfast to some 90 million viewers. In addition, it has placed a full-page ad in USA Today‘s Monday edition. The promotion was further announced on The Today Show and notices were also sent out to the chain’s “Denny’s Breakfast Club” members.

The NBC ad, which was bought to unveil a new promotion for customers squeezed by the recession, may have cost as much as $3 million, said Nelson Marchioli, CEO of Denny’s Corp. Super Bowl XLIII’s 30-second commercial time slot costs $2.4 million–$3 million for the airtime alone, excluding production and talent costs.

The game was televised live by the US NBC Sunday Night Football and Canada’s CTV Television Network. BayTSP has reported that, “as of 10 a.m. Wednesday, commercials that initially aired during NBC’s Super Bowl XLIII broadcast subsequently had been watched online more than 28 million times.”

“The promotion has a total cost of $5 million U.S., which includes $3 million for the commercial on NBC,” said a Denny’s spokesman, noting also that the company received about $50 million in news coverage, most of which was positive. According to a Denny’s representative, two million people walked through the restaurant chains’ doors Tuesday, and each Denny’s restaurant served an average of 130 Grand Slams per hour.

With the “Denny’s Feeds America” promotion, the company has reported 14 million hits on its Web site between Sunday night and Monday morning. Denny’s shares rose 6 cents, or 3.1 percent, to $1.98 in afternoon trading. The stock has traded in a range of $1.18 to $4.10 over the past 52 weeks.

“Denny’s free Grand Slam” has ranked in the top 10 Google searches early Tuesday and fell to No. 18 by the end of the promotion, while “denny s locations” was #9 on Google Trends, which tracks fast-rising searches. It has also held spots No. 1 (Denny’s) and 7 (Grand Slam) on Twitter‘s trending topics. It has generated much chat on Twitter, garnering 1,700 tweets on Tuesday, compared with its average of 59. Doritos, winner of the USA TODAY survey for best Super Bowl spot ad, had 933 mentions after reaching a peak of almost 3,300.

The idea of the TV ad was to get people to come in and re-evaluate Denny’s Diner. “A lot of people have forgotten what Denny’s is, or they think they know, while we’ve come out with a whole lot of new products. We felt like we needed to jump start the brand,” Denny’s Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer Mark Chmiel said.

“We’re celebrating the Grand Slam this year,” Chmiel said. According to the company’s financial data, on January 15 Denny’s reported systemwide comparable-store sales for the fourth quarter were down 6.1 percent, compared to a 0.2 percent decline from the same period in 2007.

According to Robert Gonzalez, public relations company Hill & Knowlton spokesman, Denny’s has expected at least 2 million people to eat a free Grand Slam by the end of the promotion. “Every restaurant is packed with people and lines,” Gonzalez said. “Everything today is about fast. People are on the go, and they’re eating fast food. It’s cutting into sit-down dining,” he added.

“Each of the more than 1,500 Denny’s were planning to make about 100 Grand Slams an hour,” Denny’s spokeswoman Cori Rice said. It had predicted it will have served about 1,400 people per location, more than five times the normal volume. “Grand Slam Breakfast” is a four-item option on its menu, consisting of two pancakes, two eggs, two strips of bacon and two sausage links. It weighs in at 44 grams of fat, 56 carbohydrates and 770 calories.

Nationwide, Denny’s expected to sell about 2 million Grand Slams — about 15 percent of the annual tally. According to Mark Chmiel, chief marketing operator and executive vice president, the diner chain has reported approximately 2 million meals worth more than $12 million were given away nationwide and each Denny’s restaurant served an average of 130 Grand Slams per hour. It estimated it has earned about $50 million worth of public relations following the free Grand Slam campaign, Chmiel said.

The company is also experimenting with a Grand Slam Burrito and also has introduced for this year, a Grand Slamwich, which includes eggs, bacon, sausage and cheese between two slices of bread, with a teaspoon serving. “It already has shown strong consumer appeal,” said Chmiel. The company has received flood of e-mails and letters proving the positive impact of the Grand Slam campaign and commercials on its customers.

Chmiel also announced he’s planning a third major promotion in this year’s third quarter, which happens to include another major sporting event, the World Series. “That’s one we’re definitely looking at,” he said.

Jobless Paris Winslow of downtown San Francisco, California has joined the long line which stretched from the front door on Mission Street, between Fourth and Fifth streets, to the corner of Fourth and up the block. “The economy is getting kind of scary. This line looks like those pictures of soup kitchen lines during the 1929 Great Depression,” Winslow said.

“I came all the way from San Francisco for a free $6 meal, Isn’t that pathetic? A year ago, I never would have done this. These days I’m willing to put my ego on the back burner,” said Stephen Weller, a jobless contractor who waited with his dog, Emmett. California Denny’s restaurant managers have issued rain checks (for free chilled meals, as security backed by actual bacon) to anyone who failed to get in by the 2 p.m. deadline.

A big eater could also “Slam It Up” by adding any two additional items for 99 cents each to their meal. Customers on Tuesday were also handed “bounceback” coupon books that include offers for additional free menu items with purchases. Chicago Tribune reporter Kevin Pang has eaten five free Grand Slams on Tuesday at five different Denny’s Diners in four hours. He claims to have consumed 4,100 calories at Harwood Heights, 5:36 a.m, at Schiller Park, 6:22 a.m., at Franklin Park, 7:08 a.m., at Melrose Park, 7:41 a.m. and at Grand Slam No. 5 Oak Park, 8:57 a.m.

“The Grand Slam has always been a Denny’s favorite. This free offer is our way of reacquainting America with Denny’s real breakfast and with the Denny’s brand,” Denny’s CEO Nelson Marchioli said in a statement. In 1977s, the Grand Slam started as a baseball-related promotion in Atlanta, Georgia. Its normal price averages around $5.99. Marchioli said the event was also a way to kick-off its “Year of the Grand Slam” promotion. Denny’s claimed it has sold 12.5 million Grand Slams a year.

“The economy’s tough and people are jumping all the way to fast food to try to figure it out. We all use fast food, whether it’s for time or convenience or for money. But you can go to Denny’s and you don’t have to give up a real breakfast and that was the whole focus of our commercial,” Marchioli explained. McDonald’s (MCD, Fortune 500) has done well during this economic meltdown since the global recession pushes people toward less expensive dining options.

McDonald’s has announced plans Wednesday to open 175 new restaurants in China this year despite the global economic crisis, thereby increasing the number of outlets in China by 17 percent, from 1,050 currently. Last month, McDonald’s 2008 net profit has risen 80 percent from 2007 to 4.3 billion dollars.

Marchioli has also introduced Denny’s $4 Weekday Express Slam, which is a streamlined version of the Grand Slam. “I want to take back share. For too long, we have allowed others to take share, whether it was Starbucks or McDonald’s. They’re fine competitors and I don’t expect to take all their business from them, but I’d like a little bit back,” Marchioli noted.

According to Rafi Mohammed, author of “The Art of Pricing,” people love free. “It triggers a Pavlovian response in people,” said Mohammed. If Pavlov’s dogs salivate when a bell rings, Denny’s free Grand Slam breakfast has attracted 2 million hungry customers. “I believe free maximizes trial and doesn’t devalue a product as long as it is a rare event. Aside from the cost, the major downside is that it attracts customers who truly have no intention of coming back,” he added.

According to University of Portland consumer psychology professor Deana Julka, people flock to free promotions amid just a few dollars saving because there’s nothing in life for free. “So when there’s something out there that costs nothing, it creates a psychological rush. Especially in these times when people feel overtaxed or overburden, there’s an internal reward people feel by getting something for free,” she said. “It’s being thrifty and feeling like you beat the system. Free really hits the spot for a lot of people,” Julka added.

“Free is an emotional hot button. When free is concerned, there is no downside – or, at least, we don’t see the downside immediately. So we overvalue everything that is free. People love free stuff, particularly when money’s tight,” said Dan Ariely, a business professor at Duke University, author of “Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions.”

Experts, however, explained these moves need to be done sparingly, since giveaways can teeter in the balance between desperation and a well designed marketing ploy. “Giving your product away for free is not worth it because it undermines your brand value,” said branding expert Rob Frankel, saying people are attached to the idea of it being free, than the actual product itself.

Free giveaways are not anything new in the food industry. “It just feels good when you can get something for free and not have to worry about it coming out of your wallet,” Frankel noted. Dunkin’ Donuts and Panera Bread all have had free coffee and food promos last year. “In November, Starbucks gave away free cup of coffee to anyone who came in on Election Day. Have you taken a look at how Starbucks is doing now?” Last week it has announced it would shut down 300 stores, in addition to the 600 it already planned to close.

On February 24, IHOP will be offering a free shortstack to every customer to encourage donations (in place of the cost) for Childrens Miracle Network. The International House of Pancakes (IHOP) is a United States-based restaurant chain that specializes in breakfast foods and is owned by DineEquity. The chain had more than 1950 restaurants in all 50 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Canada and Mexico. Since 2006, IHOP’s National Pancake Day celebration has raised over $1.85 million. In 2008, over 1.5 million pancakes (12 miles high if they were stacked) were given to customers for donations.

Denny’s (“Denny’s Diner”) is a full-service diner/family restaurant chain in the United States. It operates over 2,500 restaurants in the United States (including Puerto Rico), Canada, Curaçao, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, and New Zealand). The resto chain is known for always being open, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert around the clock.

Today, Denny’s operates about 1,600 restaurants in all 50 U.S. states, Canada and Mexico. There are also about 578 Denny’s restaurants in Japan operated under a license by a subsidiary of Seven & I Holdings, seven Denny’s locations in New Zealand, and approximately 38 Denny’s diners in the United States. Denny’s headquarters is now located in Spartanburg, South Carolina, headquarters of the parent company Trans World Corporation that acquired Denny’s in 1987.

Denny’s was historically notable for offering a free meal to anyone on their birthday. The offer included a limited number of meal options from a special birthday menu. The promotional ritual ceased in 1993, though occasionally individual franchises will continue the tradition.

In 2008, Denny’s has ceased to be in the ranks among the top diner chains in the $83 billion breakfast market, whose top five firms — McDonald’s, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Burger King and IHOP — accounted for 22 percent of the volume. “A lot of consumers have written Denny’s off their let’s-go-there list,” said Ron Paul, president of Technomic, a consulting firm.

Super Bowl XLIII was an American football game between the American Football Conference champion Pittsburgh Steelers (15–4) and the National Football Conference champion Arizona Cardinals (12–8) to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 2008 NFL season. It was played on February 1, 2009, at Raymond James Stadiumin Tampa, Florida. It has an attendance of 70,774 and 98.7 million viewers. Pittsburgh earned its sixth Super Bowl win, thus securing sole possession of the record for most Super Bowl wins.

China-EU financial relations are growing

Posted by: in Uncategorized
25
Oct

Friday, December 4, 2009

Chinese President Hu Jintao met with the European Union’s leaders Jose Manuel Barroso and Fredrik Reinfeldt in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, China. The EU leaders were in China to attend Monday’s twelfth China-European Union (EU) summit. Barroso said China-EU relations are “more mature, deeper” then before.

China-EU trading relations have grown over the last 35 years. The volume of trade between the pair reached US$425.58 billion in 2008, an increase of 19.5% over the prior year. Bilateral relations are far closer now than in previous years.

Swedish Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, said the Lisbon Treaty would help strengthen EU-China relations. Summit attendees also talked about nuclear non-proliferation, disarmament, human rights, climate change, combating financial crisis and financial investments.

Before the twelfth China-EU summit, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao met with EU delegates in Nanjing, and the trading partners celebrated the 35th anniversary of diplomatic relations.

Submitted by: James Copper

When we talk about renewable energy we are referring to power that delivers energy from resources that will not be depleted because of our use of them. Renewable energy is an alternative to non-renewable fossil fuel energy for reasons other than the factor of non-depletion.

One basic benefit of renewable energy, and the reason environmentalists all over the globe are advocate its use, is that it does give off greenhouse gases and other harmful pollutants as do the by-products of burning fossil fuel for energy. Renewable energy such as solar power, water power and wind power, while the widespread discussion of which is new, are anything but new.

In both newly developing and highly developed countries wind, sun and water have long been used as power sources, though not to the extent of providing the primary energy source for large metropolitan communities.

The mass production of such renewable energy is become commonplace in recent years as more and more people come to realize how climate is changing due to the pollution of fossil fuel gases, due to the exhaustion of the availability of these fossil fuels and the political and social concerns of energy sources such as nuclear power.

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Many countries and non-profit environmentally-conscious organizations are encouraging the use of renewable energy sources by passing legislation on tax incentives for their use and subsidies to offset the added expense of converting from fossil fuel to renewable energy.

The flow of renewable energy involves phenomena that occur naturally in our world. Tides, sunlight, wind and heat derived by geothermal occurrences all provide renewable energy. Each of these energy sources is unique both in where we can use them and how.

Most technology that converts renewable energy into power sources we can use are powered at least in part by the Sun if not directly at least indirectly. The earths atmospheric system stays in such equilibrium that the heat that it gives off radiates into space to an amount equal to the radiation that comes to earth from the sun.

The result of this energy level within the atmosphere is roughly translated to the climate of the earth. The water of the earth, also referred to its hydrosphere, absorbs a lot of the radiation that comes to us from the sun.

Most of the radiation gets absorbed at the lower latitudes of the earth that exist around the equator. This energy gets dissipated all around the globe, however, in the form of ocean and wind currents.

The motion of the ocean waves might have a role in transference of mechanical energy between the ocean and the earths atmosphere by way of wind stress. Solar energy also provides the means by which precipitations is distributed and then tapped by hydroelectric energy projects as well as plant growth that then creates biofuels.

About the Author: James Copper is a part time writer for PCS who offer

energy assessor training

for adults who wish to become a

energy assessor

.

Source:

isnare.com

Permanent Link:

isnare.com/?aid=150820&ca=Education

KKE: Interview with the Greek Communist Party

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18
Oct

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Wikinews reporter Iain Macdonald has performed an interview with Dr Isabella Margara, a London-based member of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE). In the interview Margara sets out the communist response to current events in Greece as well as discussing the viability of a communist economy for the nation. She also hit back at Petros Tzomakas, a member of another Greek far-left party which criticised KKE in a previous interview.

The interview comes amid tensions in cash-strapped Greece, where the government is introducing controversial austerity measures to try to ease the nation’s debt-problem. An international rescue package has been prepared by European Union member states and the International Monetary Fund – should Greece require a bailout; protests have been held against government attempts to manage the economic situation.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Once you get a chance to talk to West Palm Beach, Florida native Whitney Cunningham, who placed seventh on the eighth cycle of the popular reality TV series America’s Next Top Model, you begin to understand what host Tyra Banks meant when she described her as the “full package.”

First of all, she is confident and headstrong, which is a must on these kinds of shows, almost as much as it is to take a beautiful modelesque picture. Second, she turns that confidence into drive. She has been receiving steady work as a model since leaving the show, and still believes that her goal of being the first woman to wear a size ten dress on the cover of Vogue is in reach. Third, and probably most important to television viewers, she obliterates the age-old model stereotype that to be pretty and photograph well, one must also be vapid and without a thought. A graduate of Dartmouth College, Cunningham also dreams of becoming a writer, and is working toward dual goals: a model who can express herself like no other model before her.

Cunningham recently sat down with Wikinews reporter Mike Halterman in an impassioned interview, taking hours to field questions from the reporter as well as from fans of America’s Next Top Model. Always in high spirits, Cunningham shows that she is a distinct personality who has carved her own niche in the Top Model history books. At the same time, she exhibits a joie de vivre that is oddly reminiscent of earlier Top Model fan favorite Toccara Jones, who showed America just how to be “big, black, beautiful and loving it.” However, Cunningham is quick to remind everyone that she isn’t big at all; she is simply a regular woman.

This is the first in a series of interviews with America’s Next Top Model contestants. Interviews will be published sporadically.

Contents

  • 1 Whitney’s beginnings, and looking back
  • 2 Impact Top Model has on society
  • 3 Whitney’s views on production and editing
  • 4 Whitney takes more fan questions
  • 5 Where Whitney is today
  • 6 Source

Tuesday, April 19, 2005File:PICT4422.jpg

File:GuessingGame01.jpg

On Saturday April 16, students at Simon’s Rock College in Great Barrington, Massachusetts and Dr. Richard Wallace of the A.L.I.C.E. AI Foundation for their first time tested Alan Turing’s thought-experiment. The Imitation Game, based on the original Turing model for testing the ability of humans to recognize artificial intelligence (AI), was carried out with nearly eighty human and AI participants.

The ‘Original Imitation Game’ is described in Turing’s 1950 paper. A popularized version now dubbed the “Turing Test” involves a judge knowingly interviewing a software program and a human person during a computer chat, and then trying to discern which is which. The Turing Test has been conducted many times as Artificial Intelligence programs developed. However, no study was ever published following the guidelines of the original thought-experiment itself.

The Imitation Game involved playing a “gender guessing game”, wherein two human subjects, a male and a female, communicate via computer chat to the judge. Both the male and the female would try to convince the judge that s/he is female. Turing’s original question was, if a gender guessing game were done with two humans, and then with an AI replacing the male, would the judge be more accurate in guessing who the real female was?

Three students at Simon’s Rock — Cameo Wood, Melissa Leventhal, and Allyson Sgro — wrote a grant to support the experiment, and shepherded the proposal through the Human Research Review Committee under the oversight of Professor Anne O’Dwyer. The experiment was funded by the departments of Natural Science and the department of Social Science at the college.

The experiment utilized a program called A.L.I.C.E., which is designed to hold one end of an interactive conversation. The program was provided by the ALICE Artificial Intelligence Foundation. Dr. Richard Wallace was on hand during the experiment to troubleshoot the AI robot, later gave a lecture about on The Anatomy of A.L.I.C.E. and blogged the event.

Six human subjects from Simon’s Rock composed the human players in the game; the judges were recruited from various non-technical internet communities. Roughly eighty individuals participated in the experiment, which required the organizers to maintain strict secrecy about the experiment until it was concluded. All subjects who participated in the experiment were required to be over 18, not affiliated with the college, and were not allowed any foreknowledge of the use of AI in the experiment. Roughly 70 interviews were conducted over a three hour period last Saturday, via AOL’s Instant Messenger, a messaging tool that allows individuals to write to one another online.

The research team at Simon’s Rock has started to analyze the data they acquired during the experiment and will be writing a paper for publication in the coming months. Inquiries regarding the experiment may be directed to researcher@theguessinggame.net.

Russian court rejects move to ban Hindu scripture

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18
Sep

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A judge in Tomsk, Russia drew a round of applause from the court room as she dismissed charges of extremism against the Bhagavad Gita As It Is, a Russian commented translation of the Bhagavad Gita published by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. This decision put an end to the six-month-long trial of the book accused by the state prosecutors of fostering “social discord” and “incitement to religious hatred”.

The Indian Foreign Ministry, which had been urging Moscow to avert the possible ban they termed as “absurd”, welcomed the verdict calling it “a sensible resolution of a sensitive issue” which “demonstrates yet again that the people of India and Russia have a deep understanding of each other’s cultures and will always reject any attempt to belittle our common civilizational values” and thanked the Russian government for their support. Indian Ambassador to Russia Ajai Mahotra also stated that the court decision “deserves to be applauded”.

The controversial court case on the Bhagavad Gita, an ancient text regarded sacred by millions of Hindus, had threatened to become a stumbling block in traditionally strong Indo-Russian relations as it caused political and societal turmoil in India, with the Indian Parliament stalled over the proposed ban and Hindu activists burning Russian flags. The trial also evoked strong criticism from the international media.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Ousted and living in exile, with assets frozen in Thailand, former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra was ordered today by the Royal Thai Police to appear on charges related to the sale of some of his family’s stock holdings.

The order adds to mounting, increasingly complex legal troubles for Thaksin, the telecommunications billionaire who led Thailand until he was unseated in a coup last year.

Thaksin and his wife, Potjaman Shinawatra, who are both outside of Thailand, were both ordered to present themselves to the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) by June 29 at the latest. A relative of Potjaman’s, Busaba Damapong, was also ordered to appear.

“If they intentionally fail to appear, we must issue an arrest warrant,” DSI chief Sunai Manomai-udom was quoted as saying by Agence France Presse.

Noppadol Pattama, Thaksin’s lawyer and spokesman in Thailand, could not say when his client would return.

“We will have to seek legal consultations among the lawyers. His security is only one factor. We will have to see what our options are and consult with him as well,” Noppadol was quoted as saying by Associated Press.

Last week, interim Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont and the junta’s leader, General Sonthi Boonyaratglin, both said Thaksin could return to Thailand of his own free will, in order to appeal the seizure of his assets. But later, Sonthi said Thaksin might face harm if he returned too soon.

The latest charges relate to the transfer of shares in 2000 in a real-estate company called SC Asset to a British Virgin Islands-owned company called Win Mark. Police say the Shinwatras’ controlling ownership of SC Asset was illegally concealed through nominees. Potjaman’s relative, Busaba Damapong, served as executive director of SC Asset.

Through nominee companies and disclosed shares, Sunai said, the Shinawatra family owned 79.87 percent of SC Asset. “Not only did they have control of a majority stake but also control over board decisions,” Sunai told Associated Press.

They broke the law in failing to report their ownership in SC Asset and failing to report the transfer of the shares, Sunai said. They could face five years in prison and fined at least 500,000 baht (about US$15,000), Sunai added.

Thaksin is also supected of violating the prohibition on Cabinet members holding shares in publicly traded companies, and could face up to ten years in prison and a 1 million baht fine for that.

Potjaman and Thaksin were also charged yesterday over the purchase of a 13-acre tract of land along Ratchadaphisek Road near the Thailand Cultural Centre in Bangkok.

The Office of the Attorney General says Potjaman purchased the land in an auction that was possibly rigged. Valued at 2.1 billion baht before the 1997 Asian financial crisis, and 870 million baht after, Potjaman purchased the land in 2003 for 772 million baht.

The Attorney General’s office is recommending to the Supreme Court that the land be confiscated by the government.

Potjaman is also sought in Thailand to testify before the Assets Examination Committee (AEC) on the sales of her family’s Shin Corporation stock to Singapore-owned Temasek Holdings.

She sent word today that she is seeking medical treatment for headache and irregular heartbeat in Raffles Hospital in Singapore, and that she asked the AEC to delay the hearing.

Potjaman appeared in court last month to plead not guilty to charges of tax evasion in the sale of Shin Corp. stock to Temasek.

The AEC yesterday ordered an additional seven bank accounts seized after it was discovered that the accounts are controlled by the Shinawatra and Damapong families. The accounts contain 8 million baht that was feared missing last week after the AEC ordered 21 of Thaksin’s bank accounts frozen. The 8 million baht had been transferred just before the AEC’s order, to the other seven accounts.

Authorities have frozen a total of 52 billion baht, or about US$1.6 billion, frozen, money they say came from the Shinawatra family’s sale of Shin Corp. stock to Temasek. The stock sale prompted mass protests against Thaksin last year and was one of the factors in the coup that overthrew his government. The authorities also believe that the Shinawatras and the Damapongs have 73 billion baht from the stock sale remaining in Thailand, and officials are still hunting for another 21 billion baht to seize.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A political candidate for the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) has been injured in a plane crash. Nigel Farage, the former leader of the party, was in a two-seater plane when it crashed at an airfield in Northamptonshire. The plane crashed just one hour after voting had opened on polling day.

Farage, 46, was taken to a Banbury hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The pilot of the plane is believed to have suffered more severe injuries and was transferred to a different hospital.

The plane had landed at the airfield in Hinton-in-the-Hedges and was beginning to take off again when the accident happened. The plane was being flown with a UKIP banner and was due to fly over Buckinghamshire, the constituency where Farage is standing.

A UKIP spokesman said about that incident that “We’ve had unconfirmed reports that either the banner got snagged up, or there were cross-winds and it was unfamiliar airfield to the pilot.” He added that after a discussion with an aviation expert that the banner could not be a factor in the accident.

Chris Adams, a fellow UKIP candidate for the constituency of Aylesbury, released a statement on the condition of Farage. He said “Nigel was unconscious but he can talk. He’s been coming in and out of consciousness and is now being X-rayed.”

The fire and ambulance services have remained at the scene of the crash and an investigation has been opened.

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.