Celebrities contribute to Katrina relief

Published:Wednesday, September 7, 2005Updated:Saturday, September 10, 2005 (Travolta, Preston, Moore, Stones, Three Doors Down, Johnson, Smith)

After Hurricane Katrina passed across the United States, various artists and media stars have leapt at a call to action.

John Travolta and wife Kelly Preston flew his private plane to deliver a load of supplies and tetanus vaccine to Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Part of a Scientology project which has been using their non-massage “assists”, in an interview Preston mentioned that “auditing” had also been performed on victims.

Kevin Smith is holding an online auction on his Web site.

Sean Penn actually went to Louisiana. After loading down a small boat with his entourage, it was discovered one of them had neglected to seal a hole in the bottom. Penn was wearing a white vest rather than a life vest while bailing. After the motor wouldn’t start, the crew paddled down a flooded New Orleans street. Bystanders jeered at whether any victims could fit aboard the crowded craft. No report on rescue stunts. Local authorities had previously been criticized for not allowing volunteer boaters in to help.

Morgan Freeman, whose home fared well, is organizing an online auction of celebrity items at charityfolks.com, to benefit the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.

Curt Schilling opened his home to a family of nine driven out of their New Orleans home. The Schilling family will provide housing for the Fields for a year while their home in New Orleans is rebuilt and repaired.

Some celebrities “graced” disaster zones with their presence in the days following Katrina.

Singer Macy Gray and television personality Phil McGraw visited Houston’s Astrodome.

Celebrities visiting New Orleans include Michael Moore (opposite side of lake), singer Harry Connick, Jr., CNN’s Anderson Cooper, actor Jamie Foxx, singer Faith Hill, actor Matthew McConaughey, singer Lisa Marie Presley, comedian Chris Rock, and The Oprah Winfrey Show contributor Lisa Ling and interior decorator Nate Berkus.

Oprah Winfrey visited New Orleans, Houston, and Mississippi.

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Cleveland, Ohio clinic performs US’s first face transplant

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A team of eight transplant surgeons in Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, USA, led by reconstructive surgeon Dr. Maria Siemionow, age 58, have successfully performed the first almost total face transplant in the US, and the fourth globally, on a woman so horribly disfigured due to trauma, that cost her an eye. Two weeks ago Dr. Siemionow, in a 23-hour marathon surgery, replaced 80 percent of her face, by transplanting or grafting bone, nerve, blood vessels, muscles and skin harvested from a female donor’s cadaver.

The Clinic surgeons, in Wednesday’s news conference, described the details of the transplant but upon request, the team did not publish her name, age and cause of injury nor the donor’s identity. The patient’s family desired the reason for her transplant to remain confidential. The Los Angeles Times reported that the patient “had no upper jaw, nose, cheeks or lower eyelids and was unable to eat, talk, smile, smell or breathe on her own.” The clinic’s dermatology and plastic surgery chair, Francis Papay, described the nine hours phase of the procedure: “We transferred the skin, all the facial muscles in the upper face and mid-face, the upper lip, all of the nose, most of the sinuses around the nose, the upper jaw including the teeth, the facial nerve.” Thereafter, another team spent three hours sewing the woman’s blood vessels to that of the donor’s face to restore blood circulation, making the graft a success.

The New York Times reported that “three partial face transplants have been performed since 2005, two in France and one in China, all using facial tissue from a dead donor with permission from their families.” “Only the forehead, upper eyelids, lower lip, lower teeth and jaw are hers, the rest of her face comes from a cadaver; she could not eat on her own or breathe without a hole in her windpipe. About 77 square inches of tissue were transplanted from the donor,” it further described the details of the medical marvel. The patient, however, must take lifetime immunosuppressive drugs, also called antirejection drugs, which do not guarantee success. The transplant team said that in case of failure, it would replace the part with a skin graft taken from her own body.

Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, a Brigham and Women’s Hospital surgeon praised the recent medical development. “There are patients who can benefit tremendously from this. It’s great that it happened,” he said.

Leading bioethicist Arthur Caplan of the University of Pennsylvania withheld judgment on the Cleveland transplant amid grave concerns on the post-operation results. “The biggest ethical problem is dealing with failure — if your face rejects. It would be a living hell. If your face is falling off and you can’t eat and you can’t breathe and you’re suffering in a terrible manner that can’t be reversed, you need to put on the table assistance in dying. There are patients who can benefit tremendously from this. It’s great that it happened,” he said.

Dr Alex Clarke, of the Royal Free Hospital had praised the Clinic for its contribution to medicine. “It is a real step forward for people who have severe disfigurement and this operation has been done by a team who have really prepared and worked towards this for a number of years. These transplants have proven that the technical difficulties can be overcome and psychologically the patients are doing well. They have all have reacted positively and have begun to do things they were not able to before. All the things people thought were barriers to this kind of operations have been overcome,” she said.

The first partial face transplant surgery on a living human was performed on Isabelle Dinoire on November 27 2005, when she was 38, by Professor Bernard Devauchelle, assisted by Professor Jean-Michel Dubernard in Amiens, France. Her Labrador dog mauled her in May 2005. A triangle of face tissue including the nose and mouth was taken from a brain-dead female donor and grafted onto the patient. Scientists elsewhere have performed scalp and ear transplants. However, the claim is the first for a mouth and nose transplant. Experts say the mouth and nose are the most difficult parts of the face to transplant.

In 2004, the same Cleveland Clinic, became the first institution to approve this surgery and test it on cadavers. In October 2006, surgeon Peter Butler at London‘s Royal Free Hospital in the UK was given permission by the NHS ethics board to carry out a full face transplant. His team will select four adult patients (children cannot be selected due to concerns over consent), with operations being carried out at six month intervals. In March 2008, the treatment of 30-year-old neurofibromatosis victim Pascal Coler of France ended after having received what his doctors call the worlds first successful full face transplant.

Ethical concerns, psychological impact, problems relating to immunosuppression and consequences of technical failure have prevented teams from performing face transplant operations in the past, even though it has been technically possible to carry out such procedures for years.

Mr Iain Hutchison, of Barts and the London Hospital, warned of several problems with face transplants, such as blood vessels in the donated tissue clotting and immunosuppressants failing or increasing the patient’s risk of cancer. He also pointed out ethical issues with the fact that the procedure requires a “beating heart donor”. The transplant is carried out while the donor is brain dead, but still alive by use of a ventilator.

According to Stephen Wigmore, chair of British Transplantation Society’s ethics committee, it is unknown to what extent facial expressions will function in the long term. He said that it is not certain whether a patient could be left worse off in the case of a face transplant failing.

Mr Michael Earley, a member of the Royal College of Surgeon‘s facial transplantation working party, commented that if successful, the transplant would be “a major breakthrough in facial reconstruction” and “a major step forward for the facially disfigured.”

In Wednesday’s conference, Siemionow said “we know that there are so many patients there in their homes where they are hiding from society because they are afraid to walk to the grocery stores, they are afraid to go the the street.” “Our patient was called names and was humiliated. We very much hope that for this very special group of patients there is a hope that someday they will be able to go comfortably from their houses and enjoy the things we take for granted,” she added.

In response to the medical breakthrough, a British medical group led by Royal Free Hospital’s lead surgeon Dr Peter Butler, said they will finish the world’s first full face transplant within a year. “We hope to make an announcement about a full-face operation in the next 12 months. This latest operation shows how facial transplantation can help a particular group of the most severely facially injured people. These are people who would otherwise live a terrible twilight life, shut away from public gaze,” he said.

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eBay removes Canadian town’s listing of sperm whale carcass

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Citing violations of its policy regarding “Marine mammal items”, eBay terminated an online listing on Monday by the town of Cape St. George, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, for a 40 ft (12 m) sperm whale carcass reportedly beached upon its shores about a week prior.

With an initial asking price of 99 cents, bidding for the carcass reportedly rose to C$238.03 within 15 bids. Reports variously state the final price of the whale, prior to the removal of the listing from the auction site on Monday at about 2:30pm, was C$2,025 or C$2,075. Listed in eBay’s “really weird” category, the carcass was considered by eBay to be an example of “items made from marine mammals regardless of when the product was made”, which are prohibited as per site rules.

Following a council meeting on Sunday in the town of 950 residents, Cape St. George’s mayor, Peter Fenwick, put the whale up on the auction site in a bid to have it removed from the town’s premises, citing a lack of cooperation from provincial and federal government officials on the matter. “It’s your problem, you solve it”, Fenwick recounted to The Globe and Mail (TGaM) as the response he received from them. Apart from eBay, Kijiji was also suggested as another avenue by which to sell the carcass.

Fenwick told CTV News, several years prior another sperm whale measuring 15 ft was beached in the area, but disappeared without incident, an act Fenwick attributed to be the work of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. “This time”, he remarked, “the authorities have told us that it’s our whale, it’s our responsibility to get rid of it.”

On putting the carcass for sale, Fenwick remarked, “We knew we had to do something with it and this seemed to be the least expensive way of disposing of it.” In a news release, Fenwick highlighted a possible use for the carcass, particularly its bones. “The 40 foot sperm whale will make a spectacular exhibit once the fat and muscle is removed, and the town is asking museums and other organizations that could use a whale skeleton to contact the town for further details.”

On retaining the whale himself, Fenwick stated, “As a town we would dearly love to keep the whale and put it on exhibit in the town but the cost of such a venture would be hard to justify.” Fenwick told TGaM the whale was “in half decent shape”. “This one looks like it died very recently and hasn’t decomposed much”, which Fenwick suggested elsewhere was due to the whale’s present location, partially submerged in near-freezing water. However, Fenwick noted its close proximity to a residential area, saying homeowners who lived there were “very interested in seeing the whale gone.”

eBay was not the only organization who barred the sale from taking place. “We also got threatened by the federal department of the environment, and told to pull the ad off or they would prosecute us”, said Fenwick on the opposition he said he received from Environment Canada, which viewed the sale as contravening a federal act designed to protect endangered species. “I received a call from the federal department of the environment saying that you’re not allowed to sell any parts of sperm whales, even if they’re dead.” he added. “So I said, ‘Oh that’s very good, I’m glad to hear that, now can you send somebody over here to get rid of it for us?'” Fenwick’s request was met with a negative response from Environment Canada.

“They’ve got to sort it out somehow. The uncertainty means it just sort of sits there and rots.” Once decomposition sets in, Fenwick remarked the carcass would become a “real nuisance”. “I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a whale that’s been rotting on the beach for a couple of months — actually sometimes you can’t see it for the clouds of flies around it — but you can smell it for about a mile”, he added.

On finding alternate means to dispose of the carcass, Wayne Ledwell, a member of Newfoundland’s Whale Release and Strandings, suggested the whale be towed out to a remote area. “They need to do that right away, when they come in and they’re fresh,” said Ledwell. “No one wants to go touch them … everything becomes gooey and slippery and you can’t stand up on the whale and it gets on your boots and you can’t get the smell off and then you go home and the dog rolls in it and you get it in your kitchen and you curse the whales, and you curse the government and … it becomes a mess.” Fenwick said they’d considered the idea, enlisting a local fisherman who, however, judged his engine too small for the job.

Previously, blue whale carcasses washed ashore in the towns of Trout River and Rocky Harbour, located about 150 km further north, and were taken by Royal Ontario Museum for preservation of the skeletons. Fenwick suggested the sperm whale carcass in his town might also meet a similar fate, as the sperm whale’s status as the largest toothed whale might prove to be a drawing attraction for such a facility.

Regarding what he plans to do next with the carcass, Fenwick said “If we’re not allowed to sell it, we’re willing to drop our 99 cent price down to a zero.” He said he hoped some eBay bidder stays interested in the whale. “We’ll be glad to talk to them about giving them the whale. We’re hoping that’s not illegal.” He also said he hoped the publicity from the town’s predicament, which garnered national attention, and its unusual means of finding a solution, would draw in someone interested in taking the whale off his hands at their own expense.

Should the whale fall under new ownership, Fenwick advised it be moved away from the town to a beach devoid of people, and the blubber left as food for seagulls, insects, and other predators. He estimated “It’ll probably take a year or so to get down to the skeleton.” As monetary gain was reportedly not what the town cared about, Fenwick was willing to offer the carcass for free, though one report noted money raised from the listing could have gone towards the building of a skate park.

The listing on eBay, as put up by Fenwick, read:

This 40 foot sperm whale rolled up on the beach last week. The actual seller is the town of Cape St. George which is responsible for disposing of it before it starts to decay. Once the fat and flesh is removed you have a spectacular 40 foot skeleton of the largest toothed whale in the world, great for museums and other attractions. To prevent it rotting in the town it can be towed to isolated beaches on the Port au Port Peninsula to allow the seagulls and other birds to remove the flesh. Call 709-644-2290 or 709-649-7070 for more details.

Please note the successful bidder will have to remove the whale within 30 days

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Glasgow cannabis enthusiasts celebrate ‘green’ on city green

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Coinciding with Easter Sunday, Glasgow Cannabis Social Club’s annual 420 event was held on Glasgow Green, under sunny blue skies, and overlooking the river Clyde. Despite the city’s council attempting to revoke permission for the gathering at the last minute, police were happy for it to go-ahead with approximately a dozen officers attending in high-visibility vests.

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The Daily Record reported five arrests were made for minor offences, likely smoking and possession of small quantities of cannabis. Taking a less-sensational — and more accurate — line of reporting, the Monday edition of Glasgow’s Evening News stated five were referred to the Procurator Fiscal who is responsible for deciding if charges should be brought.

Official figures provided by the police were that 150 attended. With people coming and going, Wikinews reporters estimated upwards of 200 attended, compared to nearly 700 who had signed up for the event on Facebook. Hemp goods were advertised and on sale at the event, and some attendees were seen drinking cannabis-themed energy drinks.

“I was searched and charged under the Misuse of Drugs Act (which is a lot of bollocks)” one attendee noted online, adding “not fair to happen on a brilliant day like it was, other than that I had a great day!” A second said they were openly smoking and ignored by police, who “were only really focusing on people who looked particularly young”.

Cannabis seeds were openly and legally sold at the event and a hydroponics supplier brought a motortrike towing an advertising trailer. Actually growing cannabis is, however, illegal in the UK.

With the event openly advocating the legalisation of cannabis, speakers put their arguments for this to a receptive crowd. Retired police officer James Duffy, of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, spoke of the failed United States alcohol prohibition policy; stressing such policies needlessly bring people into contact with criminal elements. Highlighting other countries where legalisation has been implemented, he pointed out such led to lower crime, and lower drug use overall.

One speaker, who produced a bottle of cannabis oil he had received through the post, asserted this cured his prostate cancer. Others highlighted the current use of Sativex by the National Health Service, with a cost in-excess of £150 for a single bottle of GW Pharmaceuticals patented spray — as-compared to the oil shown to the crowd, with a manufacturing cost of approximately £10.

Similar ‘420’ pro-cannabis events were held globally.

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Asbestos controversy aboard Scientology ship Freewinds

Friday, May 16, 2008

Controversy has arisen over the reported presence of blue asbestos on the MV Freewinds, a cruise ship owned by the Church of Scientology. According to the Saint Martin newspaper The Daily Herald and the shipping news journal Lloyd’s List, the Freewinds was sealed in April and local public health officials on the Caribbean island of Curaçao where the ship is docked began an investigation into the presence of asbestos dust on the ship. Former Scientologist Lawrence Woodcraft supervised work on the ship in 1987, and attested to the presence of blue asbestos on the Freewinds in an affidavit posted to the Internet in 2001. Woodcraft, a licensed architect by profession, gave a statement to Wikinews and commented on the recent events.

According to The Daily Herald, the Freewinds was in the process of being renovated by the Curaçao Drydock Company. The article states that samples taken from paneling in the ship were sent to the Netherlands, where an analysis revealed that they “contained significant levels of blue asbestos”. An employee of the Curaçao Drydock Company told Radar Online in an April 30 article that the Freewinds has been docked and sealed, and confirmed that an article about asbestos ran in the local paper.

Lloyd’s List reported that work on the interior of the Freewinds was suspended on April 27 after health inspectors found traces of blue asbestos on the ship. According to Lloyd’s List, Frank Esser, Curaçao Drydock Company’s interim director, joined Curaçao’s head of the department of labor affairs Christiene van der Biezen along with the head of the local health department Tico Ras and two inspectors in an April 25 inspection of the ship. “We are sending someone so that they can tell us what happened, where it came from, since when it has been there,” said Panama Maritime Authority’s director of merchant marine Alfonso Castillero in a statement to Lloyd’s List.

The Church of Scientology purchased the ship, then known as the Bohème, in 1987, through an organization called Flag Ship Trust. After being renovated and refitted, it was put into service in June 1988. The ship is used by the Church of Scientology for advanced Scientology training in “Operating Thetan” levels, as well as for spiritual retreats for its members. Curaçao has been the ship’s homeport since it was purchased by the Church of Scientology.

According to his 2001 statement, Lawrence Woodcraft had been an architect in London, England since 1975, and joined Scientology’s elite “Sea Organization” (Sea Org) in 1986. He wrote that he was asked by the Sea Org to work on the Freewinds in 1987, and during his work on the ship “noticed a powdery blue fibrous substance approximately 1 ½” thick between the paint and the steel wall,” which he believed to be asbestos. He also discovered what he thought was blue asbestos in other parts of the ship, and reported his findings to Church of Scientology executives. Woodcraft discussed his experiences in a 2001 interview published online by the Lisa McPherson Trust, a now-defunct organization which was critical of the Church of Scientology.

The Freewinds regularly inspects the air quality on board and always meets or exceeds US standards.

Church of Scientology spokeswoman Karin Pouw responded to Radar Online about the asbestos reports, in an email published in an article in Radar on May 1. “The Freewinds regularly inspects the air quality on board and always meets or exceeds US standards,” said Pouw. She stated that two inspections performed in April “confirmed that the air quality is safe,” and asserted that the inspections revealed the Freewinds satisfies standards set by the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Clean Air Act.

Pouw told Radar that “The Freewinds will be completing its refit on schedule.” The Church of Scientology-affiliated organization Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) had been planning a cruise aboard the Freewinds scheduled for May 8, but according to Radar an individual who called the booking number for the cruise received a message that the cruise had been delayed due to ongoing work on the ship. Citing an article in the Netherlands Antilles newspaper Amigoe, Radar reported on May 6 that a team from the United States and supervised by an independent bureau from the Netherlands traveled to Curaçao in order to remove asbestos from the Freewinds.

…if the Church of Scientology claims to have removed the blue asbestos, I just don’t see how, it’s everywhere. You would first have to remove all the pipes, plumbing, a/c ducts, electrical wiring etc. etc. just a maze of stuff.

“I stand by everything I wrote in my 2001 affidavit,” said Lawrence Woodcraft in an exclusive statement given to Wikinews. Woodcraft went on to state: “I would also comment that if the Church of Scientology claims to have removed the blue asbestos, I just don’t see how, it’s everywhere. You would first have to remove all the pipes, plumbing, a/c ducts, electrical wiring etc. etc. just a maze of stuff. Also panelling as well, basically strip the ship back to a steel hull. Also blue asbestos is sprayed onto the outer walls and then covered in paint. It’s in every nook and cranny.”

Many Scientologist celebrities have spent time aboard the Freewinds, including Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Chick Corea, Lisa Marie Presley, Catherine Bell, Kate Ceberano, and Juliette Lewis. Now magazine reported that Tom Cruise has been urged to seek medical attention regarding potential asbestos exposure, however a representative for Cruise stated he has “absolutely no knowledge” of the recent asbestos controversy. Cruise, Holmes, Travolta and Preston have celebrated birthdays and other events on the Freewinds.

There is not now and never has been a situation of asbestos exposure on the Freewinds.

In a May 15 statement to the United Kingdom daily newspaper Metro, a representative for the Church of Scientology said that “There is not now and never has been a situation of asbestos exposure on the Freewinds.” The Asbestos and Mesothelioma Center notes that agencies have recommended anyone who has spent time on the Freewinds consult with their physician to determine if possible asbestos exposure may have affected their health.

Raw blue asbestos is the most hazardous form of asbestos, and has been banned in the United Kingdom since 1970. Blue asbestos fibers are very narrow and thus easily inhaled, and are a major cause of mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a form of cancer which can develop in the lining of the lungs and chest cavity, the lining of the abdominal cavity, or the pericardium sac surrounding the heart. The cancer is incurable, and can manifest over 40 years after the initial exposure to asbestos.

“This is the most dangerous type of asbestos because the fibres are smaller than the white asbestos and can penetrate the lung more easily,” said toxicologist Dr. Chris Coggins in a statement published in OK! Magazine. Dr. Coggins went on to note that “Once diagnosed with mesothelioma, the victim has six months to a year to live. It gradually reduces lung function until the victim is no longer able to breathe and dies.”

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Toronto’s Anime North 2019 brings thousands of fans together

Friday, May 31, 2019

Many thousands of anime and manga fans descended on the Toronto Congress Centre for Anime North, a fan-run convention launched in 1997. Spread between four venues over three days, May 24 to 26, the event featured J-pop maid idols, voice actors, writers, and more. Wikinews attended.

Despite the ample indoor spaces, the parking lot of the Centre is also a hub of activity, with cosplayers posing for photos. Attendees were sent running for cover on Saturday, as heavy rains and a severe thunderstorm warning put a damper on festivities.

The event is organized by a massive team of volunteers, and known for its specialized programming for fans, by fans. On the night of May 25, for example, attendees could catch “Pokemon Biology”, “Kimono Obi Tying”, and “Underappreciated Sports Anime/Manga.”

US voice actor Alexis Tipton marveled at the growth of the anime industry in the last decade. “Back when I was going as a fan, there wasn’t as much anime, so it was easier to know about everything,” Tipton observed during a question and answer session. “I’m so overwhelmed by how much there is.”

Tipton held a panel on her career, dubbing anime for US distribution company Funimation Entertainment. While many anime voice actors weren’t fans going into the industry, Tipton recalled going to anime conventions with her friends during middle school and high school. Once she was an invited guest, Tipton recalls realizing “oh, I’m not here to just have fun, I’m here to work; I have a set schedule and I can’t just, like, you know, go do what I want.”

Early in her career, Tipton was cast as a voice for My Bride is a Mermaid, a role that required singing. Then just 19 years old, she looked at the role as a “chance to face my demons,” having questioned her abilities for years. “I was in an extremely competitive [singing musical theatre] program in high school. I had started working at Funimation when I was 19, so I was just barely in college. And so those scars were still like, really fresh. I had a lot of competition and people would find what your perceived weakness was, or what your actual weakness was in the program, and they would take advantage of it. And so I had people trying to make me feel like I couldn’t sing my way out of a paper bag, and then I would get so nervous when I would sing that I couldn’t support my notes, and so it would just prove them right.”

Tipton was devastated when she got a sinus infection, the week of the audition. “This director doesn’t know me, I haven’t worked with him, he’s going to think that this is what I sound like,” she recalls thinking. “I don’t know if I had a shot to begin with, but now I really don’t have a shot.” She was thrilled when she was cast.

Another voice actor, Lauren Landa, would list Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus as dream roles, when asked at conventions. She was given a chance to audition for the characters years later, when Vizmedia dubbed the first two seasons of Sailor Moon. When she was cast, “I swear to you, I was speechless,” she told an audience at her Q&A session.

Cosplay model and professional singer Jillea attended the Saturday of the convention dressed as Pokemon species Charizard. Wikinews spoke with her by email, after the event:

((WN)) What got you into cosplay modelling?

Jillea: My love for cosplay started with the community, what started as a fun hobby I would do periodically quickly became a huge part of my life, and the reason for that being how amazing the cosplay community embraced me and my work. I’ve always been a creative person, so getting to make my costumes and have people say ‘oh my gosh, I love that character!!’ got me hooked right away. They’re just my people, what can I say, they really make me feel welcomed and I love them for it.

((WN)) How did you choose Charizard?

J: I’m a 90’s baby so you could say I’m a bit of a Pokémon OG! I had a Game Boy as a kid and my very first purchase was Pokémon Red, solely based on how cool Charizard looked on the cover. Charizard has always been my favourite Pokémon and I can’t resist a challenging cosplay… and the nostalgia!

((WN)) What was your favourite part of Anime North?

J: This was my very first time attending Anime North and I was blown away! The booths were incredible and unique, every time I turned around I was seeing something different I’ve never seen at a convention before. Everything was easy to access and I even made use of the Cosplay Recharge station that literally saved the day with their hot glue! Extremely friendly environment it will not be my last time back for sure.

Wikinews?’ Nick Moreau photographed the event.

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Ross Edgley swims around Great Britain for first time in history

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

On Sunday, Ross Edgley, aged 33, completed his 157-day (five-month) staged swim around Great Britain mainland. He went ashore at Margate, Thanet, Kent, England at 8:40 a.m. local time. This was the first time a human swam the roughly 2,800 km (1750 miles) around the island.

The finish line was marked by a large air-filled construction at the beach, with the Red Bull brand on it. Upon reaching the shore, Ross Edgley was welcomed by a large crowd, several hundreds of people. People ordered three pizzas for Ross Edgley at local theme park Dreamland.

Ross Edgley said, “It feels a bit weird on land, […] a bit too solid for my liking! I almost fell over when I started to jog into shore. […] My feelings now are pride, tiredness and relief. It’s been a team effort and it’s thanks to the whole crew, the support I’ve received from the public.”

Several hundred swimmers joined Ross Edgley on the last mile. Two Red Bull planes also accompanied the swimmer at the last mile.

Ross Edgley had been swimming for six hours twice each day when possible, in a wetsuit. He spent the remaining time eating or sleeping on his support boat, a catamaran named “Hectate”. Sailor Matthew Knight piloted the catamaran.

Ross Edgley shared photos and text about the adventure on Instagram. The photos and communication showed that he faced problems with jellyfish and large waves, while in other times the weather favoured his swim. He also sustained bruised feet as a result of the swimming. In the salt environment he also had “disintegrating tongue”.

On August 14, the 74th day of the swim, Ross Edgley reportedly beat the world duration record for a staged sea swim, 73 days. Ross Edgley started the swim on June 1. Red Bull backed the swim.

In 2016 Ross Edgley climbed a height equivalent to Mount Everest’s, on a rope in less than 24 hours.

Ross Edgley is from Lincolnshire.

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Spelbound declared winner of Britain’s Got Talent 2010

Monday, June 7, 2010

An acrobatic group known by the name of Spelbound has been declared as the winner of Britain’s Got Talent 2010, a televised variety talent show competition broadcast on ITV in the United Kingdom. As the winning act of the show, Spelbound have won £100,000 (US$144,580, €120,313, A$175,079) and a place at The Royal Variety Performance, an annual gala evening that is attended by senior members of the British Royal Family.

In no particular order, the top three acts were revealed to be two dancers known by their stage name of Twist and Pulse, gymnastic group Spelbound and Kieran Gaffney, whose act involves playing on the drum kit. After Kieran Gaffney was revealed to be in third place, Anthony McPartlin, who hosts Britain’s Got Talent with Declan Donnelly, said to Kieran: “Well done Kieran. Kieran, you’re a star, you came back, you got all the way to the final. I know you’ve loved this. You’ve loved this, haven’t you?” In response to this, Kieran Gaffney stated: “Thank you very much. Thank you, everyone for supporting me. Thank you.”

Shortly afterwards, on the episode that was broadcast live on ITV1 on Saturday, Anthony announced: “After tens of thousands of auditons, five semi-finals and an amazing final, this…this is it. One of you is about to walk away with £100,000 and a place at this year’s Royal Variety Performance. The winner of Britain’s Got Talent 2010 is…Spelbound!” Glen Murphy from Twist and Pulse commented about finishing in second place, stating: “Yeah, it’s amazing. I can’t even believe it. I can’t believe it at all.”

Alex Uttley, a 24-year-old member of Spelbound, commented on the gymnastic group’s victory, commenting: “Oh, my god. This is unbelieveable. We just want to say thank you to everyone out there. It just shows that all our hard work has paid off.” One of the coaches of Spelbound, named Neil Griffiths, stated about Spelbound: “Oh, they’ve worked so hard over the last few weeks. Um, since the semi-final, we…we really had to pull out the stops to try and up the game. They’ve not known they’ve worked in the gym from six in the morning till twelve…twelve o’clock of the night. I couldn’t have asked for more. Um, it’s a team of coaches. I don’t take all the credit myself. There’s, uh, two people up there that know who they are who’ve been fantastic.”

Spelbound consists of 24-year-old Alex Uttley, Nicholas Illingworth, aged 24, Adam Buckingham, aged 21, 20-year-old Adam McAssey, 19-year-old Douglas Fordyce, 18-year-old Edward Upcott, 18-year-old Leighanne Cowler, 17-year-old Katie Axten, 17-year-old Lauren Kemp, 15-year-old Jonathan Stranks, Abigail Ralph, aged 15, 13-year-old Hollianne Wood and Amy Mackenzie, aged 12. Bookmakers had previously predicted that Spelbound would be the most likely act to become the winner of the series.

The running order for the final started with Twist and Pulse. The second act to perform was Liam McNally, a 14-year-old singer. The running order subsequently continued with 40-year-old impressionist Paul Burling, singer Christopher Stone, aged 28, Tina & Chandi, a woman and dog dancing act, Connected, a five-piece singing group, Kieran Gaffney, aged 12, 22-year-old Tobias Mead, a dancer, 80-year-old singer Janey Cutler and Spelbound in that particular order.

Earlier on in the final, Britain’s Got Talent judge Amanda Holden has stated to Spelbound: “We are hosting the 2012 Olympics and I think ‘what a brilliant opening act’.” Fellow judge Piers Morgan also commented that “[t]he purpose of this show is to identify hidden great British talent. You are that act.” After Spelbound won in the final, another judge, named Simon Cowell, stated that “the right boys and girls won on the night” and that he could “only say on live TV that that was one of the most astonishing things I have ever seen. Seriously.”

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New Orleans police officer commits suicide

Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Sgt. Paul Accardo was found dead last Saturday, in an unmarked police car. The officer, who served as a chief spokesperson for the New Orleans Police Department, committed suicide sometime last week.

“Paul was a stellar guy. A perfectionist. Everything had to be just right,” said Sgt. Joe Narcisse, who worked with Sgt. Accardo. Working 20-hour days after Hurricane Katrina rolled through, seeing the dead and injured, hearing the cries of helpless families, and being unable to help them got to Accardo, said Capt. Marlon Defillo.

The New Orleans Police Department has suffered heavy losses in personnel. As many as 400 to 500 officers were unaccounted for, likely to be searching for their families, or attempting to return to what is left of their homes. But Accardo is the second suicide death to hit the force since the storm. Officials say that officers were being cycled off-duty, and received vacations, as well as counseling, to help reduce the grief and anguish that many officers are experiencing.

Funeral services are planned for Wednesday. Accardo is survived by his wife, Anne, his mother, a brother and a sister, and eight nieces and nephews.

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Lib Dems launch manifesto

Thursday, April 14, 2005

An exhausted Charles Kennedy returned to the election campaign to launch a twenty page Liberal Democrat manifesto targeted at disaffected Labour voters, promising a fairer tax system and withdrawal from Iraq.

Entitled The Real Alternative the manifesto pledges to reduce the lowest rate of income tax, but increase the rate on those earning over £100,000 to 50%. The party would also scrap the unpopular local council tax in favour of a new local income tax. The manifesto also promises to remove hidden “stealth taxes”.

Under this system the party claims the poorest 15 million (25%) of people in Britain would be better off, and the middle 50% would be paying no extra tax.

The manifesto promised to scrap the controversial university tuition fees, increase services for pensioners and add £100 a month to the state pension, and train 21,000 new primary school teachers and 10,000 new police. A Lib Dem government would make eye and dental checks free, and reduce the cost of prescription medicine.

The Liberal Democrats were the only one of the three largest parliamentary parties to have consistently voted against the Iraq war, and the manifesto has promised an exit strategy with a phased withdrawal of Britain’s 8,000 troops still in the country.

“We reject a foreign policy based on ‘my ally right or wrong’,” Kennedy said. “And we say that war should always be a last resort.”

Kennedy, who became a father on Tuesday, admitted he’d had little sleep before the manifesto launch, and stumbled while answering questions on the proposed tax system.

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