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October 12, 2015

Wikinews interviews painter Pricasso on his art and freedom of expression

Wikinews interviews painter Pricasso on his art and freedom of expression

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Monday, October 12, 2015

Wikinews interviewed Australian painter Pricasso on his unique artwork created using his penis, and how his art relates to freedom of expression and issues of censorship. He is to be featured at the upcoming adult entertainment event Sexpo Australia in Melbourne this November 5 to November 8.

File photo of Pricasso, 2012.
Image: Eva Rinaldi.

Background

Pricasso painting a portrait in Australia at Sexpo (2012)
Image: Eva Rinaldi.

Pricasso is the stage name of Australian painter Tim Patch, in a nod to the artist Picasso while using the word prick. Pricasso has been painting portraits using his penis for more than ten years.

Based in Australia, Pricasso paints his artwork using his buttocks and scrotum in addition to his penis. According to 640 Toronto News, Pricasso markets himself as “The World’s Greatest Penile Artist”.

Cquote1.svg I consider my work as satire just like late night TV, something that gives light relief to a serious subject. Cquote2.svg

Pricasso

He is able to create 20 paintings in one day. Pricasso also practices other styles besides portraits, including landscape painting and nudes. Typically his portraits take him not more than 15 minutes to paint. He told Coconuts TV he chose to specialize in creating artwork in this manner because he felt it was a niche market.

His fanbase is international; Pricasso has journeyed to locations including the United States, Holland, Germany, Brazil, Mexico and China to paint portraits for people. Though he is willing to travel to display his talent, Pricasso told In Touch Weekly most of his income is Internet-based.

Wikinews interviewed Pricasso about his artwork and asked for his thoughts on topics of censorship and freedom of expression. We discussed what are considered appropriate forms of parody and satire of public figures — protected in the United States following the Supreme Court case Hustler Magazine v. Falwell.

The interview touched upon a 2013 conflict which arose on our sister site for images and media, Wikimedia Commons, when an image of a portrait of Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales painted by Pricasso was uploaded to the site. Wales called it “harassment” and a succession of deletion discussions ensued. We asked Pricasso about this as well as the different reaction from former-Mayor of Cape Town Helen Zille, who called his painting of her part of a “free society” where artists “exercise their freedom in unusual ways.”

Interview

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Pricasso, thanks for agreeing to do this interview with Wikinews.

Pricasso: Thanks for doing this, great questions.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png How long have you been painting in this particular fashion?

Pricasso: I first tried it over 10 years ago and realised it would be possible with practice to get as good with it but in a slightly more impressionistic style than I could with a brush, and I really liked the results, of course at first I had to work out the paint formula and what to paint on which was done by trial and error — and then finding somewhere to practice, which was a problem until I was invited to become a member of a Bondage club in Brisbane, my first patron. There I realised that there were so many people with totally different views on what is acceptable in society, and were always protesting over most censorship issues.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png How long can you paint with your penis at one time before it gets too tiring?

Pricasso: At most Sexpo’s and Adult Expos I paint for 13 hours a day in half slots so I paint 20 plus paintings a day. When I am painting I have to concentrate hard and go into a meditative state; I don’t notice much going on around me until I have finished.

Example of Pricasso applying paint before creating a piece of artwork.
Image: Pricasso.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Other than your penis, what other parts of your body do you use in the painting process?

Pricasso: I quickly worked out that I could speed it up by using my testicles and butt cheeks to cover large areas in no time at all, but only recently do I paint the edges using my butt-crack, I call it the credit card swipe!

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png How did you come up with the name Pricasso?

Pricasso: That was the heading they christened me with in the Picture Magazine interview in 2006. I realised it was Gold and took out the website and trademark.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png What’s the most positive reaction you’ve had to one of your paintings?

Pricasso: It is always satisfying to get applause when a painting is finished; at most adult shows this happened all the time; but I do like painting disabled people. I have painted several people with severe cerebral palsy and they are over the moon with the result; this gives me the most pleasure, as I do realise that they are still sexually active people and everyone should realise this.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Have any of your paintings been featured in a gallery somewhere?

Pricasso: I have entered the Bald Archy Exhibition in Australia every year and sold a few. Also at an exhibition of politicians in Australia, and last November I went to Miami for the Art undressed exhibition and also painted 15 minute portraits there which was fun.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Do you consider it a form of freedom of expression to create your artwork in the way you do with your penis?

Pricasso: When I first thought of the idea I was really thinking I could get invited to a few parties as the entertainment which I do regularly, but now I am getting a good style about my work and want to take it to the next level and be accepted as an innovator.

Cquote1.svg A free society throws up these kinds of people, who exercise their freedom in unusual ways. Cquote2.svg

—Cape Town former-Mayor Helen Zille

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png In 2008, prior to a Sexpo event in South Africa, you uploaded a video to the Internet of yourself painting a portrait of then-Mayor of Cape Town Helen Zille. Why did you decide to do this?

Pricasso: No particular reason on my behalf, it was the organisers of the Sexpo who got me to paint it mainly for publicity. But also to have a portrait on my stand, who people in Cape Town would relate to as I now know she is very popular and has a great sense of humour.

Cape Town former-Mayor Helen Zille
Image: Helen Zille, Democratic Alliance, South Africa.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Mayor of Cape Town Helen Zille commented of your portrait painting of her: “This is a free country. A free society throws up these kinds of people, who exercise their freedom in unusual ways. And if this is how he wants to do it, I must accept his constitutional right to do so.” — what are your thoughts on her reaction?

Pricasso: Sounds a bit formal but that is how politicians usually talk, guarded and a totally correct response, the trouble is that if they spoke from the heart it might come back to bite them one day, but I did talk to one of her aides privately and she said they were all really impressed and loved the concept, I really should have offered to paint her too but I was probably flat out all day — I always am at the South African shows.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Mayor Zille further commented about the quality of your painting of her: “[Pricasso] has achieved a good likeness and I can’t imagine how he painted it without brushes or conventional equipment.” — what do you think of this assessment?

Pricasso: Most people are impressed when they see it done, skeptical at first but after the initial shock they all usually stop to watch until I finish that particular painting, usually they take about 15 minutes.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png If you could speak to Mayor Zille, what would you say to her about her reaction to your painting of her?

Pricasso: I would say I was impressed with her response, mostly girls are much more impressed than guys only a minority of guys I might add, lots of them love it and me too!! But in general she gave a responsible and educated reply and was not at all offended by the experience.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png In 2011, one member of the Gold Coast Sculptors’ Society quit in protest due to your participation in the ‘Exotic Erotic’ show — how do you feel when people react to your artwork in this way?

Pricasso: I guess I could say; This is a free country. A free society throws up these kinds of people, who exercise their dissaproval in various ways. And if this is how she wants to protest, I must accept her constitutional right to do so. There was that politically correct enough? Or maybe the silly old B***ch — but her reaction did get heaps of publicity for the show and they had record numbers coming through the doors so there was a silver lining. But obviously it is a bit confronting and not everyone’s cup of tea but if they could just see it before they get on their high horse they might have a different point of view.

The painting of Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, the uploading of which Wales called “harassment”. 2013.
Image: Pricasso.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png You painted a portrait of Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales in 2013; a picture and a video file of the making of this painting were uploaded to Wikipedia’s sister site for images and media, Wikimedia Commons. Shortly thereafter, the files were nominated for deletion and a deletion discussion ensued — what are your thoughts on this discussion?

Pricasso: I did not think Wikipedia censored anything as on Jimmy Wales’ Twitter account his banner heading is: “Wikia guy. Free speech activist, entrepreneur.” Either this is misleading in the very least or blatantly untrue.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png The deletion discussion at Wikimedia Commons resulted in keeping the photograph of your portrait of Jimmy Wales, but deleting the video of your making-of-the-portrait — do you consider a video of your portrait painting to be offensive?

Pricasso: Not in the least; it’s pure performance art.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png During the deletion discussion, Jimmy Wales commented “I encourage people to go to commons and work to explain to the community there some of the concepts behind Hostile environment sexual harrassment. I encourage everyone to seriously consider whether it is appropriate behavior to upload a clearly non-notable film of someone using his penis to paint a picture of a Wikipedia volunteer. It is harassment, it is trolling, and I am deeply disappointed to have to point this out to some people.” What do you think of his response to your artwork? Do you feel your paintings constitute harassment?

Pricasso: Harassment is when one continually annoys someone, over and over again; I only painted the one painting of him and it to my mind was not offensive, I consider my work as satire just like late night TV, something that gives light relief to a serious subject. There are many examples of political cartoon images on Wikipedia, so why are they still up there or is it just the things Jimmy Wales doesn’t like get taken down? By the way anyone who has not seen the offending Video can view it on Vimeo under Pricasso: http://vimeo.com/user10315938/review/68837137/893b31ca54

I paint about 1000 portraits a year and get paid by the sitters or a close friend of them to do so. I had a request to paint a portrait, to do [this] portrait of Jimmy Wales with a video of me painting, by Russavia (who is an editor at Wikipedia), something I do all the time and I have great feedback as to how funny the videos are; I had no idea who Jimmy Wales was at the time of the request, but painted him only once so it can’t be called Harassment. Is he just using his position of power to cut and censor … It took me a lot of effort and time to put this together so I was pretty upset. And would really like it to be republished next to the portrait as originally it was before Mr Wales had it removed.

[Editor’s note: Accusations of harassment focused on the uploader, rather than the artist; the successive heated discussions, over about six months, that ultimately led to the video’s deletion from Commons may be read here. Jimmy Wales expressed his position elsewhere and did not directly participate in the discussions themselves.]

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png How do you compare the reactions by Mayor of Cape Town Helen Zille who said your portrait painting of her was a product of a “free society” and a reflection of how people “exercise their freedom” with the comment by Jimmy Wales calling the publication of your artwork “harassment” ? Which of these individuals do you feel is correct, Mayor Zille or Wales, and why?

Pricasso: I think Helen got it. They in South Africa are struggling with change from being suppressed to one of freedom as she said “a free society”. Jimmy Wales on the other hand although promoting himself as The Free Speech Guy is censoring things he does not agree with and calling it Harassment, not a good look Jimmy!!

I did put the video of Helen Zille being painted on YouTube. It was there for a few months but they too delete my work quite regularly so it’s probably long gone.

She is an experienced politician and would weigh up the fors and against before she acted, obviously the fors had it.

Mr. Wales on the other hand has probably not seen a lot of my work; if he had he would know I do it for fun and not really to be taken too seriously, it’s a comedy performance, but he could not see the unique talent of someone who has cornered the world market of penis portraits painting with no imitators for the past 10 years, so before too many people could have a small chuckle at his expense he had it deleted, I’m sure there would be many others who would like to remove things on Wikipedia but don’t have the muscle to do so.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Have you experienced censorship or attempts by others to limit your freedom of expression? How so, and what was your reaction?

Pricasso: As I said before YouTube is always deleting my videos when someone complains, sometimes even when there is no genitals visible. Once one was taken down because the guy I was painting had the word (fuck) on his tee shirt; I mean how many films have this word in the dialogue. Also in Macau at the adult show, the people who make the rules make me perform inside an enclosed area, and people are wary of coming in through the door so is a bit slow there; and the guys that run the show are so polite and passionate trying to change China slowly, making it more open, that I keep on returning year after year.

Signed painting of a French Bulldog, by Pricasso. 2013.
Image: Pricasso.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Do you consider some of your art pieces to be forms of parody or satire of famous people?

Pricasso: Oh yes I love creating something topical and painting a spoof on famous people, and painting with a penis really lends itself to this form of art, but I just painted a normal portrait of Jimmy Wales, as I said before I had no idea who he was before I googled him. And found this heading [on] his Twitter account (seems to me he has a few double standards) “Jimmy Wales
 Verified account
‪ @jimmy_wales You know, the ‪@Wikipedia and ‪@Wikia guy. Free speech activist, entrepreneur.”

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Are you familiar with the U.S. Supreme Court case, Hustler Magazine v. Falwell ? How do you feel after reading about the unanimous decision protecting parody as a form of freedom of speech in that case?

Pricasso: Thanks for sharing that with me, I had no idea about this case and it’s good to know that freedom of speech is alive and well in America. Actually I was a bit taken aback by the parody and slightly offended that I have been put in the same category, my painting is pure performance art and I don’t go out of my way to offend. And I am totally against censorship. It’s a shame the same is not true about Wikipedia and Mr. Wales.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Pricasso, thanks again for doing this interview with Wikinews, is there anything else you’d like to add?

Pricasso: Not at the moment. I’m exhausted! Thanks.



Related news

Sister links

  • Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Pricasso
  • Commons-logo.svg Pricasso
  • Wikiquote-logo.svg Pricasso
  • Wiktionary-logo.svg Pricasso

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This article is a featured article. It is considered one of the best works of the Wikinews community. See Wikinews:Featured articles for more information.
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This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

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September 1, 2015

Biologist Nick Bos tells Wikinews about \’self-medicating\’ ants

Biologist Nick Bos tells Wikinews about ‘self-medicating’ ants

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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Formica fusca, from file.
Image: Mathias Krumbholz.

Nick Bos, of the University of Helsinki, studies “the amazing adaptations social insects have evolved in order to fight the extreme parasite pressure they experience”. In a recently-accepted Evolution paper Bos and colleagues describe ants appearing to self-medicate.

Cquote1.svg I have no doubt that as time goes on, there will be more and more cases documented Cquote2.svg

The team used Formica fusca, an ant species that can form thousand-strong colonies. This common black ant eats other insects, and also aphid honeydew. It often nests in tree stumps or under rocks and foraging workers can sometimes be spotted climbing trees.

Some ants were infected with Beauveria bassiana, a fungus. Infected ants chose food laced with toxic hydrogen peroxide, whereas healthy ants avoided it. Hydrogen peroxide reduced infected ant fatalities by 15%, and the ants varied their intake depending upon how high the peroxide concentration was.

In the wild, Formica fusca can encounter similar chemicals in aphids and dead ants. The Independent reported self-medicating ants a first among insects.

Bos obtained his doctorate from the University of Copenhagen. He began postdoctoral research at Helsinki in 2012. He also runs the AntyScience blog. The blog aims to help address “a gap between scientists and ‘the general public’.” The name is a pun referencing ants, its primary topic, science, and “non-scientific” jargon-free communication. He now discusses his work with Wikinews.

Beauveria bassiana on a cicada in Bolivia.
Image: Danny Newman.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png What first attracted you to researching ants?

Nick Bos Me and a studymate were keeping a lot of animals during our studies, from beetles, to butterflies and mantids, to ants. We had the ants in an observation nest, and I could just look at them for hours, watching them go about. This was in my third year of Biology study I think. After a while I needed to start thinking about an internship for my M.Sc. studies, and decided to write a couple of professors. I ended up going to the Centre for Social Evolution at the University of Copenhagen where I did a project on learning in Ants under supervision of Prof. Patrizia d’Ettorre. I liked it so much there I ended up doing a PhD and I’ve been working on social insects ever since.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png What methods and equipment were used for this investigation?

NB This is a fun one. I try to work on a very low budget, and like to build most of the experimental setups myself (we actually have equipment in the lab nicknamed the ‘Nickinator’, ‘i-Nick’ and the ‘Nicktendo64’). There’s not that much money in fundamental science at the moment, so I try to cut the costs wherever possible. We collected wild colonies of Formica fusca by searching through old tree-trunks in old logging sites in southern Finland. We then housed the ants in nests I made using Y-tong [aerated concrete]. It’s very soft stone that you can easily carve. We carved out little squares for the ants to live in (covered with old CD covers to prevent them escaping!). We then drilled a tunnel to a pot (the foraging arena), where the ants got the choice between the food with medicine and the food without.
We infected the ants by preparing a solution of the fungus Beauveria bassiana. Afterwards, each ant was dipped in the solution for a couple of seconds, dried on a cloth and put in the nest. After exposing the ants to the fungus, we took pictures of each foraging arena three times per day, and counted how many ants were present on each food-source.

Example of aerated concrete, which provided a home for the subjects.
Image: Marco Bernardini.

This gave us the data that ants choose more medicine after they have been infected.
The result that healthy ants die sooner when ingesting ROS [Reactive Oxygen Species, the group of chemicals that includes hydrogen peroxide] but infected ants die less was obtained in another way (as you have to ‘force feed’ the ROS, as healthy ants, when given the choice, ignore that food-source.)
For this we basically put colonies on a diet of either food with medicine or without for a while. And afterwards either infected them or not. Then for about two weeks we count every day how many ants died. This gives us the data to do a so-called survival analysis.
We measured the ROS-concentration in the bodies of ants after they ingested the food with the medicine using a spectrophotometer. By adding certain chemicals, the ROS can be measured using the emission of light of a certain wave-length.
The detrimental effect of ROS on spores was easy to measure. We mixed different concentrations of ROS with the spores, plated them out on petridishes with an agar-solution where fungus can grow on. A day after, we counted how many spores were still alive.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png How reliable do you consider your results to be?

NB The results we got are very reliable. We had a lot of colonies containing a lot of ants, and wherever possible we conducted the experiment blind. This means the experimenter doesn’t know which ants belong to which treatment, so it’s impossible to influence the results with ‘observer bias‘. However, of course this is proof in just one species. It is hard to extrapolate to other ants, as different species lead very different lives.
Cquote1.svg At the moment it seems that sick ants mostly take care of the problem themselves Cquote2.svg

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Where did the ants and fungus you used come from? How common are they in the wild?

NB For ants, see above about the collection.
This species of fungus does appear in Finland, but we chose to use a different strain from Denmark (with thanks to Prof. J. Eilenberg and the laboratory technician Louise Lee Munch Larsen from the University of Copenhagen). Animals can adapt to local strains (‘local adaptation’), and just to make sure we thought it would be good to use a strain of fungus that the ants definitely did not evolve specific resistances against. This means that the reaction of the ants (to self-medicate) is very likely to be a general response, and not just against their local fungal enemies.

The Univeristy of Helsinki from file.
Image: Smaug.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Are there any ethical considerations around exposing ants to toxins and parasites?

NB Legally, no. Insects do not have any ‘rights’ as such regarding ethics. That said, we do take measures to not make them ‘suffer unnecessarily’. For example, dissections are done when the ants are anesthetized (either by CO2 or Ice), and when ants need to be killed, we do it in alcohol, which kills the ants in a matter of seconds. So while the ants do not have ‘rights’ as such, we still try to handle them with as much respect as possible (even though the experiment involves infecting them with a deadly fungus).
But even though the 12,000 ants in our study sounds like a lot (and it is), this is negligible in the ‘grand scheme of things’. It has been calculated that in the Netherlands alone, nearly a trillion insects die against just the licence-plates of cars every six months. I don’t own a car, so that means I’m excused right? 😉

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png This is the first evidence for self-medicating insects. How widespread do you think this phenomenon could be in reality?

NB It’s not actually the first evidence for self-medication in insects. Moths and fruit flies definitely do it, and there’s evidence in honey bees and bumble-bees as well. So it seems to be quite wide-spread in the insect world. I have no doubt that as time goes on, there will be more and more cases documented. Insects (and animals in general) seem to be quite good at taking care of themselves.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png How might ants locate healing substances in the wild?

NB Very good question. This is something that’s important to know. If they would only do it in the lab, the behaviour wouldn’t be very interesting. We have some guesses where they might get it from, but at the moment we don’t know yet. That said, I plan to investigate this question (among others) further [in] the next couple of years.

Another file photo of Formica fusca, this time showing foraging workers feeding.
Image: Sedeer El-Showk.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png For your PhD you researched ants’ scent-based communications. Could healthy ants perhaps tell other ants are infected and encourage this behaviour?

NB There’s not much known about this. There’s conflicting evidence about whether sick ants actually smell different from healthy ones or not. At the moment it seems that sick ants mostly take care of the problem themselves. Sick ants stop most interaction with nestmates and especially brood, and leave the nest to die in isolation. This is probably for reducing chance of infecting nestmates, but of course it also reduces the work load of their nest-mates, as their corpse doesn’t have to be dragged out etc.
So as an answer to the question, I would find it unlikely that such a behaviour would evolve, but it’s not known yet.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Ants generally avoided the peroxide if they were healthy, but in some circumstances might they try to build resistance against infection in advance?

NB Who knows? Also not known yet unfortunately. That said, there is a very interesting study about resin collection in ants. Wood ants collect tree-resin, which has anti-microbial properties. They collect this even if not infected, and when you infect them, they don’t collect more of the resin than normal. So basically it seems like they collect it in order to keep diseases out of the nest, so they stop the disease before it can actually infect them.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Are there plans to follow this research up? Might you research other species? Other substances?

NB I first want to find out where they get it from in nature. There might be many sources of medicine (recent evidence suggests that tobacco plays a similar role for bumble bees). Dalial Freitak, who is also on this paper is currently running tests with Ph.D. student Siiri Fuchs (who is also on the paper) with other substances to see if any have the same effect as H2O2 [hydrogen peroxide].
Once the behaviour has been well described in this species of ant, I might do a comparison with other species. For example, once we find the source of the medicine in nature… would species without access to this source also have evolved the same behaviour in the lab? And if so… where would they get it from?
Also… can ants medicate their friends? 🙂

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png What other research are you working on right now?

NB Phew…lots! 🙂
I still have some questions left unanswered from my Ph.D. work related to how ants recognize who is a friend and who isn’t. I also started collaborating with Prof. Michael Poulsen from the University of Copenhagen on immunity in fungus-growing termites, as well as their chemical recognition abilities. Furthermore we’re working on social parasitism in wood-ants (ants have lots of animals exploiting the nest for shelter and resources, which all somehow have to get in to the fortress without getting killed).



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This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.
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March 14, 2015

Reflections, Lichtenstein, two new exhibitions at Edinburgh\’s Modern One

Reflections, Lichtenstein, two new exhibitions at Edinburgh’s Modern One

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Saturday, March 14, 2015

This weekend saw the opening of two new exhibitions at Edinburgh’s National Gallery of Modern Art. Wikinews attended Thursday’s press preview for the event where a full contingent of the capital’s press turned out to see the striking collection of paintings, photographs, and other works. Presented below are a selection of images captured at the preview.

REFLECTIONS: A Series of Changing Displays of Contemporary Art, billed as a showcase of a “diverse range of internationally-renowned contemporary and modern artists” is to display major works from the Gallery’s permanent collection, alongside important loans. Alongside this broad range of works, a three-room display of pieces on-loan from the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation — with a dramatic painted steel relief, ‘borrowed’ from the Tate in London — runs from March 14 through to January 10 next year.

Admission to both exhibitions is free; being located in Dean, to the north-west of Edinburgh’s city centre, a free Gallery bus service is available.

Edinburgh‘s press pack at the Roy Lichtenstein exhibition preview.
Image: Brian McNeil.

The exterior of the Modern One building of Edinburgh’s Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.
Image: Brian McNeil.

A film crew sets up with one of Roy Lichtenstein’s works as a backdrop, and the steel roundel on-loan from the Tate Gallery in London dramatically displayed on the wall of the main Artists’ Room.
Image: Brian McNeil.

The exterior of the Modern One building of Edinburgh’s Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.
Image: Brian McNeil.

A rather unusual installation; part of the REFLECTIONS exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Dorothy Lichtenstein, at the press preview for an exhibition of her late husband’s works.
Image: Brian McNeil.

A pair of Lichtenstein’s paintings, hanging in the main gallery of the Artists’ Rooms.
Image: Brian McNeil.

The exterior of the Modern One building of Edinburgh’s Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.
Image: Brian McNeil.

A selection of prints and postcards, available for sale in the Gallery’s shop.
Image: Brian McNeil.

The ‘scrum’ of photographers capturing Roy Lichtenstein‘s widow, Dorothy, in front of one of her late husband’s paintings.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Dorothy Lichtenstein, being lit as she poses for the cameras at the press preview of her late husband’s work.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Another pair of Lichtenstein’s paintings, with the doorway through to another part of the Gallery.
Image: Brian McNeil.

A corridor in the Gallery makes an effective space to display a range of the works from the REFLECTIONS exhibit.
Image: Brian McNeil.

The main Artists Room of the Gallery, displaying some of Lichtenstein’s dramatic works.
Image: Brian McNeil.

A different take on the corridor display part of the REFLECTIONS exhibit, with mirror at end of corridor.
Image: Brian McNeil.

A display of photographs from the REFLECTIONS exhibit.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Member of the press admiring one of Lichtenstein’s works at new exhibition in the Modern One building of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh.
Image: Brian McNeil.

One of the display galleries hosting part of the REFLECTIONS exhibit.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Wall of artworks making up part of the REFLECTIONS exhibit, with mirror at end of corridor.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Press film crew sets up and tests lighting levels in front of one of Lichtenstein’s most-famous works.
Image: Brian McNeil.

The licensed cafe on the lower level of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.
Image: Brian McNeil.

The kitchen garden to the rear of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.
Image: Brian McNeil.

The licensed cafe on the lower level of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Rear of the Modern One building of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Display of cakes and biscuits in cafe of the Modern One building of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Douglas Gordon’s dramatic List of Names which adorns the wall of the stairwell in the Modern One building.
Image: Brian McNeil.



Sources

Wikinews
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
Wikinews
This article is a featured article. It is considered one of the best works of the Wikinews community. See Wikinews:Featured articles for more information.

External links

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November 7, 2014

Edinburgh\’s \’Million Mask March\’ flies distinctly Scottish colours

Edinburgh’s ‘Million Mask March’ flies distinctly Scottish colours

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search

Friday, November 7, 2014

Amongst other Guy Fawkes Night partying, the now-regular march to the Scottish Parliament by Anonymous saw significantly higher attendance, Wednesday, at this year’s event. With Catalan flags and pro-Independence Saltires flying, activist numbers had clearly been swelled by the referendum result.

The image gallery below could take some time to load on slower connections.
You may click on the first image to view the images with the new Mediawiki Media Viewer; again, full-size/full-screen images may take time to load.

Banner — later used to lead the march — laid out on the Castle Esplanade before setting off.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Police waiting, on the adjacent Johnston Terrace, prior to the march setting off.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Saltires by moonlight, as the growd gathers on the Castle Esplanade.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Anonymous Scotland banner surrounded by group of protesters.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Pro-Independence supporters mingling with masked members of Anonymous.
Image: Brian McNeil.

As the march prepares to set off, the banner is raised and the crowd asked to assemble behind it.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Crowd heading off Esplanade, with the Outlook Tower Camera obscura to top-right of frame.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Police Scotland watch as the crowd progresses down Edinburgh’s High Street.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Walking down Castle Hill on the Royal Mile.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Edinburgh Castle as backdrop to the crowd leaving the Esplanade.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Further down Edinburgh’s High Street, with the banner passing the High Court.
Image: Brian McNeil.

The crowd progressing down Edinburgh’s High Street towards the Scottish Parliament
Image: Brian McNeil.

Passing the top of Cockburn Street on the Royal Mile.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Passing the top of Cockburn Street on the Royal Mile.
Image: Brian McNeil.

The crowd progressing down Edinburgh’s High Street towards the Scottish Parliament.
Image: Brian McNeil.

A Police van leads the procession down the bottom-half of the High Street.
Image: Brian McNeil.

March walking down The Canongate.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Passing Edinburgh’s New Street, which leads down to the City of Edinburgh Council‘s Waverley Court HQ.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Marchers walking down Edinburgh’s High Street towards Scottish Parliament.
Image: Brian McNeil.

The March progresses through the city’s Canongate area.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Regardless of chanting, which included taunts over the lack of BBC presence, marchers were in good spirits.
Image: Brian McNeil.

The crowd outside the Scottish Parliament was a wide mix of ages.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Not all who took part wore Guy Fawkes masks.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Most of the crowd were well wrapped-up to guard against the night air chill.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Pro-Catalan independence flag flying as part of the protest at the Scottish Parliament.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Police Scotland were conspicuous amongst the crowd, although not present in large numbers.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Pro-Catalan independence flag flying as part of the protest at the Scottish Parliament.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Some protesters self-identified as part of the 45% of the Scottish electorate who voted Yes to Independence.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Pro-Independence sentiment was highly-visible amongst protesters at the Scottish Parliament.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Some banners were particularly direct with their message.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Several humorous Independence-related tropes were on display.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Some banners were particularly direct with their message.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Several humorous Independence-related tropes were on display, although the protest was good-natured throughout.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Free paper masks were being handed out to those not prepared to buy mass-manufactured ones.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Protesters waiting for the event’s speakers whilst PA problems were sorted out.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Guy McV at the protest outside the Scottish Parliament.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Crowd walking across grassy area between Parliament and Queen’s Drive.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Protesters waiting for the event’s speakers.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Kilted protester with Saltire mask.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Protesters waiting for the event’s speakers.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Kilted protester with Saltire mask.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Banner with Scottish Parliament partially visible in the background.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Much of the crowd treated the gathering at the Parliament like a party.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Attendee filming the event, with Parliament building in the background.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Wrapped up against the cold, outside the Scottish Parliament.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Many draped themselves in Scotland’s flag, the Saltire.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Staring through a paper mask into the camera.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Not all present were overly-concerned with the cold weather.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Protesters outside the Scottish Parliament after marching from Edinburgh Castle
Image: Brian McNeil.

Speakers address the assembled crowd after some technical difficulties with the PA system.
Image: Brian McNeil.

A documentary-maker films the protest speakers.
Image: Brian McNeil.

A few of the collected donations intended for a local food bank.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Many treated the protest more like a party.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Protested, with beard jutting out below Guy Fawkes mask.
Image: Brian McNeil.

The crowd listening to speakers at the Parliament.
Image: Brian McNeil.




Related news

  • “Scotland says ‘No’ in independence referendum” — Wikinews, September 19, 2014

Sources

Wikinews
This article is a featured article. It is considered one of the best works of the Wikinews community. See Wikinews:Featured articles for more information.
Wikinews
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.


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October 23, 2014

Wikinews interviews Kristian Hanson, producer-director of indie horror film \’Sledge\’

Wikinews interviews Kristian Hanson, producer-director of indie horror film ‘Sledge’

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Culture and entertainment
Related articles

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File image of a sledge hammer.
Image: Markscheider.

Just days away from Halloween, Wikinews interviewed Kristian Hanson, producer-director of independent slasher film Sledge. The film has been a recent source of discussion in horror fan circles, primarily due to its production budget of only US$800. Sledge is Hanson’s fourth film to direct, according to Internet Movie Database.

Interview

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png How did you come up with the idea for Sledge?

Kristian Hanson: Sledge came to me while driving home from my brother’s wedding with my wife. She told me that I know slashers better than most and I could come up with something fun and unique, and that is exactly what I did with Adam Lynch and the film Sledge.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngWhat kind of pre-production work did the film require?

KH: Pre-Production involved John putting in some ads in the local newspaper and seeing if anyone would be interested in auditioning for the film. Planning the death scenes and figuring out what we could do without a budget and without anyone skilled in the ways of Special Effects.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngHow did you set up auditions? How many days did you spend auditioning people?

KH: Auditions were held a month before filming and that is where Stephanie Tupper came to be involved with the film. Everyone else was a friend of John’s and Dustin (Alex in the film) showed up by reading about the movie in the local Potsdam Newspaper. Without him, Sledge wouldn’t be what it is today.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png How many days went into filming?

KH: Four days went in to filming all of the Adam Lynch and camp site stuff. The Amish Paradise trailer and also the Couch girl [character] segments were also a different day, so a total of six. I could say that [the] Assly [character] was an extra day, but I literally threw up my green screen and hit record on both the intro and outro, so an extra five minutes doesn’t count in my eyes.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png You’ve said elsewhere that the production budget was about $800. What were some of the items/services that required buying/payment?

KH: The foam prop Sledge hammer, fake intestines, fake knives, [character] Adam Lynch’s clothes, teeth, contact lenses, the latex for the mask and creating the blood is where all of the money went to. Also buying hot dogs, hamburgers for the small crew. Again we didn’t have a set budget, this was kind of us just throwing our money out there to make this movie happen. We didn’t have a sheet with expenses etc.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png What else have you directed? (…and what about your co-director??)

KH: John and I both co-directed the film we made back in April 2012 (a few months before Sledge) titled F4L:Friends 4 Life, but that film has not been released and to be honest, I doubt it ever will be. It was a learning experience for us and has a lot of humor, but not knowing about copyrights etc, I doubt we would ever be able to release it. I would love to remake it in the future though where I could build up the original ending and keep the same script.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png How old are you?

KH: I am a whopping 30 years old.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Did you study film in college or have any other formal film-related education?

KH: When I was in college I took a semester of improv classes but I never went to school for film, and neither has John. He is the camera man and director of photography and is all self taught. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice and will have a Master’s Degree in Global Terrorism this upcoming March. So when it comes to film, nope, I am self taught in regards to writing and directing.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngWho made the mask? [worn by the killer]

KH: My friend Monster Matt Patterson made the mask. I emailed him after writing the Sledge script and told him the basic idea and he just ran with it. He did an amazing job.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Did you do any location scouting before shooting?

KH: John and Russ (Nash in the film) went around [scouting] but to be honest, Russ’s dad owned the land where we filmed 90% of the movie. Adam’s ‘Stabbin Cabin’ [belongs to] a friend of John’s and that is where we ended up filming that area. We had the entire film figured out before we went to shoot thanks to the people that were there to allow us to use their land.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Did the movie appear in any large-scale venues (cinemas, festivals etc.)?

KH: The film played at the Twisted Tails Film Festival in Dallas, Texas, The Action on Film Festival in Monrovia, California, along with the Indie Fest where it won an Award for Merit in film making. We also had a screening in Los Angeles for fans where we had two-hundred people turn up back in June of 2013, which was surprising and just plain awesome.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png How many days did you spend editing?

KH: Editing took a long time. John spent night after night in his basement cutting and editing Sledge. It took three to four months […] I believe, and thankfully Eric Xton of ScarCrow and God in the Machine allowed us to use his music throughout Sledge. Without that music, the film would not be what it is today, so a huge thank you to them.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Is the movie available via VOD ?

KH: Yes, Sledge is available on iTunes, Google Play, Playstation Network, Xbox Network and a bunch of other VOD providers, but I do not have a solid list [apart] from the main ones I named.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png What’s in store for the sequel??

KH: In the sequel the movie jumps off where the last one ended but two weeks later. We make fun of the fact that this is a small town and in horror films it seems like everyone is a super-model or extremely super good looking. Adam Lynch has a lot more fun and a lot more deaths are planned that we intend to show this time. SledgeD will be just as fun as the first, with another group of people sitting down to watch Assly and another funny trailer for a made-up movie. All in all, it will be a lot of fun, with plenty of blood, horrible jokes and Sledging to go around.



Sources

Wikinews
This article is a featured article. It is considered one of the best works of the Wikinews community. See Wikinews:Featured articles for more information.
Wikinews
This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.


External sites

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August 27, 2014

Wikinews wanders the Referendum-year Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Wikinews wanders the Referendum-year Edinburgh Festival Fringe

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

With many venues reporting sell-out shows, the 68th year of the Edinburgh Festival attracted visitors from around the globe. Wikinews‘ Brian McNeil roamed the city for the four weeks of the event, capturing the colour, spectacle, and comedy, in photos.

The image gallery below may take some time to load on slower connections. You may click on the first image to view the images with the new Mediawiki Media Viewer; again, full-size/full-screen images may take time to load.

Visitors crowd onto Edinburgh’s High Street, adjacent to the Tron Kirk, for the first day of the 2014 Festival Fringe.
Image: Brian McNeil.

A street performer sets up in Hunter Square, next to one of the city’s golden postboxes, unpacking paraffin for his act.
Image: Brian McNeil.

View across Edinburgh’s High Street (Royal Mile) onto the top of Cockburn Street.
Image: Brian McNeil.

A musician prepared for Scotland’s unpredictable weather at the side of the Tron Kirk.
Image: Brian McNeil.

The Tron pub, next to the top of Blair Street, advertises live comedy in the basement, along with their 3am license.
Image: Brian McNeil.

A performer balances on top of a bollard just inside the pedestrianised part of the High Street.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Tourists on the High Street for the 2014 fringe.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Tourists mingle with performers handing out fliers on the Edinburgh High Street.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Track-suited performers wait to go onstage in the High Street.
Image: Brian McNeil.

A troupe performs for the crowd in traditional dress.
Image: Brian McNeil.

A troupe performs for the crowd in traditional dress.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Performers on Edinburgh’s High Street for the Festival Fringe 2014. In the distance, the Firth of Forth.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Crowd looks on as performer spins disk on a stick before throwing it high into the air.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Performer throwing spinning disk from stick into the air.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Performer throws spinning disk high overhead.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Fliers and posters advertise a few of the shows on-offer at this year’s Fringe.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Stall selling tied-balloon creations with Fringe show fliers as backdrop.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Edinburgh’s ‘Auld Reekie Tours’ (Venue 129) advertising their underground and graveyard tours of the city.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Food stall situated at the side of the Tron Kirk.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Blackboards list the day’s, and tommorrow’s, performances on the doors of the Tron Kirk in Edinburgh’s High Street.
Image: Brian McNeil.

The bar, with stained-glass window backdrop, inside the Tron Kirk.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Susana Silva, more-used to busking, performs inside the Tron Kirk on the Fringe’s opening day.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Susana Silva performing in the Tron Kirk, Edinburgh fringe 2014.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Susana Silva performing in the Tron Kirk, Edinburgh fringe 2014.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Pat Dennis, Sean O’Malley with Michael Dodds on Cajon.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Pat Dennis, Sean O’Malley and Michael Dodds performing in the Tron Kirk.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Pat Dennis, Sean O’Malley and Michael Dodds performing in the Tron Kirk.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Pat Dennis, Sean O’Malley and Michael Dodds performing in the Tron Kirk.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Crowds in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket for the 2014 Festival.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Street performers in the Grassmarket.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Bruce Fummey performing his 2014 Fringe show, “Aaah’m Votin YES” in The Beehive.
Image: Brian McNeil.

A few minutes walk from The Beehive, a busker plays with an array of effects pedals.
Image: Brian McNeil.

View down the Grassmarket from the West Bow end.
Image: Brian McNeil.

View of St John’s at the west end of Princes Street.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Some people at the art & craft fair, in the grounds of St John’s, enjoying themselves despite a downpour
Image: Brian McNeil.

One of the city’s tour buses, at the west-end of Princes Street.
Image: Brian McNeil.

View of the Festival Wheel, situated in Princes Street Gardens.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Various festivals take place in Edinburgh throughout the summer, including the The Guardian-sponsored Book Festival.
Image: Brian McNeil.

View of the castle, with posters for Festival shows on the railings of Princes Street Gardens.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Chalk art outisde the Scottish National Archives at the East-End of Princes Street.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Banner for The Caves, just off the Cowgate.
Image: Brian McNeil.

The Cowshed in Edinburgh’s Cowgate; a venue well-liked by performers, apart from the beer prices.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Musician walking up Niddry Street, with guitar in hard case.
Image: Brian McNeil.

The Blind Poet, in Edinburgh’s West Nicholson Street.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Bar staff, working in The Blind Poet on Nicholson Street.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Baz Simpson, who organised The Wolf Sessions at The Blind Poet; before, and during, The Festival.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Baz Simpson, who organised The Wolf Sessions at The Blind Poet; before, and during, The Festival.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Performers in the Blind Poet, West Nicholson Street, last Saturday of the Festival Fringe.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Performers in the Blind Poet, West Nicholson Street, last Saturday of the Festival Fringe.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Performers in the Blind Poet, West Nicholson Street, last Saturday of the Festival Fringe.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Performers in the Blind Poet, West Nicholson Street, last Saturday of the Festival Fringe.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Aaron Robbie Wright, performing in The Blind Poet on the last Sunday of the 2014 Festival Fringe.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Aaron Robbie Wright, performing in The Blind Poet on the last Sunday of the 2014 Festival Fringe.
Image: Brian McNeil.

The High Street’s taxi rank stretches from the top of Niddry Street halfway to the Scottish Parliament.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Unfortunately, trouble at the High Street taxi rank is not uncommon – regardless of the festival being on, or not.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Unfortunately, trouble at the High Street taxi rank is not uncommon – regardless of the festival being on, or not.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Unfortunately, trouble at the High Street taxi rank is not uncommon – regardless of the festival being on, or not.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Fringe performers, and flier distributors, come in all shapes and sizes.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Some artists continued distributing fliers right up until the last couple of days of the Festival Fringe.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Age is no barrier to busking during the Festival.
Image: Brian McNeil.

With so many visitors, rubbish (garbage) is somewhat of an issue during the Festival.
Image: Brian McNeil.


Sources

Wikinews
This article is a featured article. It is considered one of the best works of the Wikinews community. See Wikinews:Featured articles for more information.
Wikinews
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
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This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

April 22, 2014

Glasgow cannabis enthusiasts celebrate \’green\’ on city green

Glasgow cannabis enthusiasts celebrate ‘green’ on city green

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search

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.

Setting up the stalls, with the river Clyde and Adelphi distillery as a backdrop
Image: Brian McNeil.

Good weather, albeit tempered with a cool breeze, saw higher numbers than the prior year’s event
Image: Brian McNeil.

Glasgow Green, in the East End is the city’s oldest park
Image: Brian McNeil.

A speaker from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) explained his organisation’s position on cannabis
Image: Brian McNeil.

Police were in-attendance from early-on, with Monday’s issue of the Daily Record reporting five arrests, but no trouble
Image: Iain Macdonald.

A section of the crowd, with the People’s Palace in the background
Image: Iain Macdonald.

One of the bands setting up to entertain the crowd
Image: Iain Macdonald.

A neon-bright sign for the Glasgow branch of the UK Cannabis Social Club
Image: Iain Macdonald.

Small stall, with obvious pro-cannabis signage
Image: Iain Macdonald.

Home-made sign for the Legalise Cannabis Campaign Scotland
Image: Iain Macdonald.

View of stage from partway up the hill
Image: Iain Macdonald.

People buying refreshments from the stall
Image: Iain Macdonald.

Several attendees wore clothing with slogans openly advocating cannabis
Image: Iain Macdonald.

A view of the tents over the stage and stalls from across the Clyde
Image: Iain Macdonald.

Attendees watch the stage entertainment while police look on
Image: Iain Macdonald.

Small groups of attendees regularly walked away from watchful police once it was made clear people would be arrested and cautioned for smoking
Image: Iain Macdonald.

View of the stage area from opposite bank of the Clyde
Image: Iain Macdonald.

Trumpet player in one of the Reggae bands that performed
Image: Iain Macdonald.

A small stand offered hydroponic supplies
Image: Iain Macdonald.

Clear view of the hemp products stall
Image: Iain Macdonald.

Close-up of some hemp-based products on sale
Image: Iain Macdonald.

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.


Sources

Wikinews
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
Wikinews
This article is a featured article. It is considered one of the best works of the Wikinews community. See Wikinews:Featured articles for more information.

External links

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This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

March 29, 2014

Wikinews interviews Indiana State Senator Mike Delph

Wikinews interviews Indiana State Senator Mike Delph

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search

Saturday, March 29, 2014

File:Senator Mike Delph 2014.jpg

Indiana State Senator Mike Delph, S-29
(Image missing from commons: image; log)

On Wikinews, we have an exclusive audio interview with Indiana State Senator Mike Delph.

Today is Thursday, March 27, 2014. I am Chad Tew and we are here in The Edge radio studios with my journalism students and recording from the campus of the University of Southern Indiana.

This is Wikinews.

Introduction

Indiana State Senator Mike Delph is a Republican who represents the northwest side of Indianapolis and Carmel, as well as Zionsville, Indiana.

After being selected to finish former State Senator J. Murray Clark’s final term in 2005, Mike Delph has served two full terms for District 29 in the Indiana State Senate. He is currently facing re-election this fall. His opponent is likely to be Democrat JD Ford, who is running as an openly gay candidate.

Senator Delph has also been considered in the past for US Congress but he declined to run, and he has already been mentioned in the Indiana media as a possible candidate for any potential opening in the US Senate in 2016. He is widely known across the state of Indiana for both his Arizona-style legislation on immigration and his support of traditional marriage.

During the legislative session this year, Senator Delph made what is known in Indiana as the “tweet heard around the world”. The tweet announced the defeat of a proposed amendment to the Indiana State Constitution in a form that would have banned civil unions. Senate leader David Long punished Delph because of this tweet on the grounds that it concerned confidential caucus information. What exactly took place in that Republican caucus and between Senator Delph and Senator Long is currently unknown to the public.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Tew: State Senator Delph good morning and welcome to Wikinews.

Mike Delph: Thanks for having me professor.

Interview (part I): A biographical portrait

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Chad Tew: Here with our first question is Ashely Jones Phillips. Jones Phillips: Hi! Good morning, Senator Mike Delph. My name Is Ashley Jones-Phillips. The first question that I have is, I wanted to know if you can tell me a little bit about your parents, where are you from, and where were you were raised and born?

Mike Delph: Sure, I grew up here in Carmel, Indiana. I was raised by my mother. My parents were divorced for most of my upbringing. While my father was on leave from his business — or actually helping his dad, my grandfather, with one of their plants out east — I was born in South Weymouth, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston. So I was actually born in Boston or just outside of Boston but raised in Indiana by my mother. I have three brothers. I shared a bedroom with my little brother John. And my two older brothers Jamie and Stephen were with us as well.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Jones Phillips: Can you tell where you went to school at?

MD: I went through the Carmel school system. And I’m a graduate of Carmel High School — in 1988. And then I went on to college at Indiana University. And ultimately received four degrees from Indiana University.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Tew: And those degrees are in …?

MD: I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in speech communications with minors in Spanish, biology, and an emphasis in chemistry. I have a Masters in Public Affairs with an emphasis in international relations — or comparative international relations — and public finance. I have a Masters of Science in Environmental Science, focused on applied ecology. And then I have my law degree at the Indiana University School of Law at Indianapolis.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png And lastly I want to know, how did you become interested in politics?

MD: I kind of backed my way into politics. I had served as a page for Indiana State Senator Dan Burton. And my mom and dad went to high school with Congressman Burton at Shortridge High School. We had a family friendly connection there. But I really didn’t grow up in politics. I didn’t serve in student government — except one little stint when I was a graduate student at Indiana University. I served one summer stint as a representative from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs. But I really wasn’t involved in politics.
After I was getting ready to graduate from graduate school, I had planned to go to work for State Farm Insurance as a bond analyst. About that time, I had made contact with Congressman Burton, who was going to become the first Republican chairman, to chair a Congressional committee in over 60[?] years from Indiana. And we got to talking and eventually that led to a job offer for me to come and join him on his personal and professional staff out in Washington D.C. working on Capitol Hill. So I worked out of the personal office and then the professional staff of the House Committee on Government Reform, primarily focusing on Drug War policy. I also did some work with the House International Relations Committee, which at the time was chaired by Congressman Ben Gillman from New York.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Hello Senator Delph, I’m Sara Behnke. We were wanting to know about your family and your work outside of the Indiana Senate.

MD: My family is: My wife is Beth. She is from Zionsville. She grew up in Zionsville and graduated from Zionsville High School. She is the daughter of Russ and Nancy Frankel and has one brother, who is younger, named Matthew. My in-laws are now constituents of mine, which is nice because my mother-in-law could put my yard sign in her yard without confusing her neighbors.
I have five daughters. My oldest daughter is 19 and a freshman at IUPUI here in Indianapolis. She’s our first proud graduate of Delph Academy for Girls. She did really well her first semester of college, making the Dean’s List. So mom and dad were obviously very ecstatic there. I have a 17-year-old daughter, who just turned 17. She told dad that she wanted a boyfriend for her birthday, and so I went out and got a little stuffed animal of the good guy from Frozen [a film], which I said you can take to bed with you every night and cuddle with. So her name is Evelyn. I have a 14-year old named Anna, a 10-year old named Emma, and my 7-year-old, who will probably — well her name is Lilly, that she believes she will be the next rock star of rock music. And she and I play my guitar and sing every night. So that’s a little bit about my family.
I work as general counsel for a second-generation family-owned business based out of Bloomington, Indiana, named CarDon & Associates. And we are in the business of senior housing and long-term care, post-acute care, nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and independent living facilities.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Behnke: We understand that you and your wife home educate your children. How did you decide to home educate your children?

MD: Well the name of our home school is the Delph Academy for Girls. Originally my 19-year old was part of the Carmel school system and attended Carmel Elementary and had a real challenging year, her first grade year. We were actually told by her first grade teacher that she would have a hard time graduating from high school and that college was not in the cards, which obviously was a lot for mom and dad to take with our first grader. We went and had a battery of tests done. And there was a dispute within the school system as to what, if any, learning disabilities that she might have, and what we should do about it. So we finished out that school year and went a little bit into the next, and then we just made the decision as a family that we weren’t going to fight the system. We were going to take matters into our own hands and start homeschooling our daughter. Then we just started homeschooling the rest of our kids. It’s turned out to be a very big blessing in the life of the Delph family for obvious reasons because our daughter has turned around her academic life in a very positive fashion and is doing very well in college, as I mentioned before.
Another reason why we homeschool our students, is we teach Bible in our school. And obviously you can’t do that in the public school system. Our faith and Christian values are very important to Beth and I and to our daughters.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Behnke: What is your religious affliation?

MD: We are Christian. We are not Catholic. That is a falsehood put out on Wikipedia, and I’m not sure where that came from. I think people just assume that if you have a lot of kids that you are Catholic. And there is one nice thing about that, we live right across the street from a very large prominent Catholic Parish called, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, and they have a fall festival every year and so it’s the one place we can go as a family where people don’t give us funny looks because of the number of girls that I have, everybody has a large family in that parish.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Hello Senator Delph, I’m Jerrilyn Thompson, and I have a question for you. The Sagamore of the Wabash Award, you were awarded that in 2005. And this honorary award is awarded by the Governor. And what did you do to get this honor?

MD: That was something that I was recommended by former Congressman Baron Hill, who represented the southeastern part of the state. And I had gotten to know Congressman Hill when I was an executive with Comcast Corporation. We actually brought the C-SPAN school bus throughout his district, especially to his hometown of Seymour, Indiana. And we had gotten to know each other, and he found out that I had served as an international election observer with the International Republican Institute in Nicaragua in 1996 and then in Mongolia in 2000. And then he had also learned about my service with Congressman Burton and also here in the state of Indiana, and he was gracious to recommend me for that award. And then Governor Kernan, before he left office as our governor, was very gracious to award me the Sagamore of the Wabash.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Thompson: Okay, just a few more questions. You had mentioned earlier about the role that Congressman Dan Burton had played in your life, could you please talk a little bit more about that?

MD: Well certainly. He is somebody that was my boss, I’ve known him for a good chunk of my life. When I was thirteen or fourteen, I served as a page for him. When he was an Indiana state senator. I had volunteered a little bit on his political campaigns but not a great deal. Primarily putting stickers on fire hats in preparation for his parade season.
But I worked for him from — I want to say — 1996 to 2004. Roughly eight years, give or take. I served as a member of his professional staff when he was chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight. And then I also served as a member of his professional staff, handling a number of different policy areas, including foreign policy and national security policy. I covered agricultural issues and environmental policy forum, given some of my academic background. But primarily in the national security foreign policy area, primarily focused on anti-narcotics and the drug war. I was able to travel — in addition to traveling when I was an international election observer — I was able to travel as a member of his staff to countries like Turkey and Colombia.
When I was in Colombia, I got to watch an eradication mission of coca and poppy fields down in Colombia. I also got to work on other cases. There was a new tribes and missionary case that I worked on where there were three men who were abducted by the FARC, and there was no proof of life, and they just basically disappeared. And I was able to work with the families and others in leadership within the FBI to bring that whole issue to closure. They eventually declared the missionaries as being killed by the FARC. But as you can imagine, it was one of those things where the family was in limbo and they just did not know and nobody was trying to find out for them.
It was a great honor to work as a staff member for Congressman Burton. Probably one of the most thankful points in my time for him was when I helped write, or helped ghost write, the resolution honoring the life of Mother Theresa, which was adopted by the Congress. You all probably don’t remember, but Mother Theresa died right around the time that Princess Diana died and all of the news coverage at the time was dedicated towards Princess Diana. And Mother Theresa is arguably somebody that had lived more of a Christ-like life than anybody, since Jesus Christ.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Thompson: Okay one last question from me. What was your father and mother’s relationship with former congressman Dan Burton?

MD: They went to high school together and knew him from their time in high school. And my mother specifically was involved with the Young Republicans when Congressman Burton was involved with the Young Republicans. And they all kind of grew up in politics together. And then she later became a volunteer for his campaign.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Jordan Mornout: You ended up losing your first campaign when you sought the nomination for Indiana’s Secretary of State in 2002. Of course, your opponents that year were impressive, but can you tell us from your perspective about the dramatic finish to that nomination?

MD: That is a very sore subject with me, but it’s not as sore as it used to be. It’s interesting because you guys really… I was kind of surprised with the capturing of the whole flyer deal on the floor, which misled the convention to think that I had willingly dropped out of the race, and my strategy was to win it on the second ballot. I was everybody’s second choice. The people that were supporting Todd Rokita were supporting him because of their relationship with Sue Anne Gilroy, and they would support me if Todd was not in the race. The people that were supporting Richard Mourdock were supporting him because he was older and had more experience than I had. But they liked me after they got to know me, and I was their second choice.
And so I had literally campaigned in all 92 counties for two years of my life, driving around the state of Indiana in my American-made Honda Civic, which became a political issue for part of the race. During that race, Congressman Luke Messer was part of the field for a time. Diana Cordray, the clerk treasurer at Carmel, was in part of the field for a time. Kent Benson was a big part of it. Campaigning against him was like campaigning against Elvis Presley. Because we’d go to these southern Indiana counties, and he would autograph basketballs with the starting five in the 1976 Indiana University National Championship team. And that was the time that I said I had to do something because he was killing me politically, and so we started putting our name on peanut butter and passing out peanut butter. We said that if peanuts were the food of elephants, then peanut butter was the food of the grassroots of the Republican party, whose symbol was the elephant.
So we, we ran hard. We ran a strong campaign. And really it was that campaign that created the foundation for my ability to become a senator. But there’s no question that that was a hard-fought campaign, and the way that it ended was less than favorable. Literally, the next day I had to get on an airplane to fly to Camp Shelby, Mississippi to do my 2 weeks of army training in the middle of nowhere. And I remember being on a rifle range, and a there was misfire happening, and I looked up to the safety officer on the rifle range and I said, “Was that Richard Mourdock over there?” Obviously, they didn’t get the joke. But Richard and I are now friends and get along great.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Tew: And, in fact, you were both competing for [Senator Richard] Lugar‘s office.

MD: Well, you’re talking about the United States Senate, this last go ‘round?

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Yes.

MD: Yeah, at the time I was finishing up my legal studies and kind of transitioning professionally. I was running my own home-based business called MA Advisory Group, which was based upon my grandfather’s name of his company, the MA Delph Company, which I mentioned before. And I had thought about that for a little bit. I had been approached by some folks out in Washington, D.C., specifically that I have known for years and that had an interest in me considering that. And it really wasn’t a good time for me professionally and in the life of my family. And so it wasn’t something that I ever formed a committee or raised money or, started campaigning or reaching out to people to build support. But it did get in the press.
That led to Richard Mourdock reaching out to me. We had lunch, we talked about the opportunity, and he candidly asked me what I thought the top issues were and I told him, and a lot of what I said he ended up using as part of his platform to run against Senator Lugar. And he ultimately was successful. While that whole thing was going on, my wife and I took a three-week home school trip out to the East Coast, to visit former Revolutionary War historical sites to learn more about the founding of the country.
It’s mistaken, in perception, that I have some type of disregard for Senator Lugar. I have very high regard for him and his leadership and specifically his public service. Anybody that serves that long sacrifices a great deal with their family and in their business financially to serve the public. So I have a tremendous regard for him personally and professionally. I just had strong reservations and disagreement with him in matters of public policy and in the direction of some of the issues he was campaigning out in the United States Senate. But there’s no question that he was a strong figure in Washington, D.C.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Tew: Let’s pause for a brief identification.

Interview (part II): Controversy over the proposed marriage amendment

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Chad Tew: This is Wikinews. It is March 27, 2014, and we are here in the radio studio of The Edge speaking to Indiana State Senator Mike Delph by telephone. Here with our next question is Justin Law.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Law: Senator Delph, your opposition to same-sex marriage and your public expression of love for your brother Stephen has us wondering about how you reconcile what seems to some as contradictory stances. Could you explain to us your philosophical stand on homosexuality and support of traditional marriage?

Mike Delph: Sure, I come to my support of all of the traditional family values from my Christian convictions and my belief in the authenticity and reliability of The Bible. My faith tradition teaches me that homosexuality is one in a number of sins that’s listed out in the Bible, and so that’s why I have an opposition to anything that institutionalizes, or legitimizes, a given sin.
The reconciliation of the contradiction that you point out is really “love the sinner, hate the sin” type deal. You know, my brother, Stephen, is my older brother. He’s had a very tough life, and we’ve been through a lot together. And you can’t go through life together and experience things as a family unit. We just experienced, for example, last year the death of my father and the death of my grandmother, both of whom were close to each one of us. That was something that we went through together. You can’t go through life, and go through experiences, with things like that without having love for one another, a love as brothers. And so I do love my brother. I support my brother. I support his right to be a human being, as well as I do all human beings and to live his life. And I don’t tell him how to live his life. And I don’t tell him what to do, or where to go, or who to be friends with. I feel like I respect my brother; but I don’t, as I’ve mentioned to the media before, I don’t support the lifestyle of homosexuality because it is contrary to my Christian convictions.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Tew: Senator, your brother said on the air that you had set him up on a date. And you denied that. Could you just briefly talk about this?

MD: Certainly, I’ve never set my brother up with anybody nor have I done anything ever to promote his gay lifestyle. I have friends that I went to college with that I have suggested could be friends with my brothers — several of my brothers quite candidly — and in this case, I had a friend from college, who at the time had recently told me that he was gay. And my brother, I think, mistakenly made the connection that by me introducing him to a friend of mine who is gay that somehow there was more to it than that. My brother Stephen is not used to talking to the media and knows that he misspoke when he made that characterization. I love my brother. And we have reconciled that misstatement. But never in my lifetime have I done anything to go contrary to that Christian conviction and that belief that I have on that lifestyle.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Bobby Shipman: Senator Delph, this is Bobby speaking now. HJR-3 — the proposed constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage and civil unions? You said it was the best environment right now. Why is this the right time for HJR-3?

MD: Well, in order for a constitutional amendment to be adopted you have it to go to a legislative body, pass the House and Senate. Then you have to have an election and you have to have the new legislative body take up the exact same language and pass the House and Senate. And so from a procedural standpoint if it didn’t pass in the same form this time the clock gets reset and the process starts over.
When I surveyed my constituents, and I do an annual legislative survey, over 60 percent of my survey responses suggested that people wanted the opportunity to vote on this issue via referendum this year November of 2014. They did not indicate which way they would vote. So they could have said, “we want to vote on it because we want to reject it and we want to be done with it this year,” or they could have said, “we want to adopt it into our constitution.” Either way, because of the actions of the leadership of the House and the Senate, my constituents were denied that opportunity to vote and resolve this issue once and for all in November 2014. And when I engaged in this issue the one thing I heard from people across the spectrum on HJR-3 is they wanted the legislature to be done with this once and for all.
And when I went through in my mind the different courses of action that could get us there I kept coming back to the referendum and I did not see another way that we could bring final closure and resolution to this issue, this very sensitive and difficult issue, without passing it to the people for an up or down vote. Because of the path that we chose, there is going to be pressure to bring this back next year and possibly years beyond that. So the state of Indiana is going to be forced to deal with this issue year in and year out. Which is my fear.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Shipman: With the polls in Indiana showing a change in public opinion over the past several years that is more favorable to the acceptance of same-sex marriage, do you think it’s going to be harder to support traditional marriage in the future?

MD: Well not for me because I am who I am and I support what I support, and I support traditional and Judeo-Christian values. I think if the polling data is accurate, as you expressed it, then the folks that were the opponents of HJR-3 — specifically the folks that were in leadership within Freedom Indiana — were working against their own self-interest. Why do I say that? Well if public opinion has truly changed then it was in their interest to pass this through the legislature and send it to the people themselves for an up or down vote were the referendum would be defeated and the issue would forever be gone and dealt with. And so I think there is some dispute where public opinion is. This is a very sensitive issue. It divides families. It divides political parties. It divides neighbors. Obviously you know about my family, and there is a difference of opinion just with me and brother on this issue. There’s a difference between me and my mother on this opinion. There’s even a difference of opinion in the Delph household — in the house where I live. And so these are all things that our state and society have to reconcile. But to me the ultimate issue was bringing this whole thing to closure and by denying people the right to vote this November we did not bring this to closure.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Shipman: Since the amendment would have had a long lasting consequences on Hoosiers, didn’t the process work this time?

MD: Well some could say that. If that brings the issue to final closure. But having sat in the legislature now for eight years, I think there’s going to be pressure to bring this back this next session — some sort of version. And it may be amended to make it tougher. They may put the civil union ban back in it, which then puts it on another two years. And so for me, I don’t think the information is going to be any clearer. I don’t think the issue are going to be any better understood. To me it didn’t make any sense to delay the final resolution of this once and for all. And for me again, the only way that I could see us bringing this to final closure was to have the referendum by the public. And if public opinion has changed, then those that support same-sex marriage worked against their own self-interest by denying the people the right to vote on this in November of 2014. Because if they would have allowed the vote and public opinion had changed, then they probably would have voted the referendum down and that would have been the debate once and for all.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Tew: But there is also the Supreme Court that the legislature would have to deal with any kind of decision that’s made between now and when they act next.

MD: Certainly, there is a couple of things at play there. Recently, I think in Michigan, they stuck down and then stayed the decision — the Michigan constitutional amendment. So there is no question that the federal courts are getting involved. There is equal protection ground litigation that is being filed throughout the country. And specifically in Indiana, I think, there has been four law suits filed challenging the Indiana Statute, which has been on the books since 1986. And so this is a big battle that’s going on legally.
Traditionally, the widely held view is that the US Constitution trumps the State Constitution and that federal decisions in court trump state constitutional law. And so those are all things that have to be reconciled with the public opinion, and with the will of the people, and what they want, and how they view their government, and how they want society to react and deal with these types of issues.
But there is no question that even if we would have passed the constitutional amendment and even if the public would have adopted it, that that did not prevent a court challenge in federal court.
Let me just make one more comment… To me though we cannot as a legislative body at the state level of government, live in fear of litigation. We have an Article 6 oath of office that we take to the US Constitution that binds all elected officials to the same rule of law — except the President of the United States, who takes a separate oath of office. And that oath of office is to the written Constitution, as written in the Constitution. It has nothing to do with common law, has nothing to do with Supreme Court decisions and stare decisis [precedent]. It has to do with the written law, the written constitution. We also take an oath to uphold the Indiana state constitution.
And that oath of office is something I take very, very seriously. And that is what should drive us, our own understanding of the Constitution — not any fear of litigation in Federal Court.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Devyn Curry: Can you briefly give us your version of the chronology from the time you made the “tweet heard around the world” to the time when you were punished for the tweet.

MD: I will try to do the best that I can. You know the irony in all of this is that HJR-3 was really not my issue. I had found through interaction with the governor’s staff that the governor [Mike Pence] was pretty displeased with what was going on the legislature, particularly in the House of Representatives. He could not understand how a super majority House and a super majority Senate could not get this issue to the voters. He spoke in favor of HJR-3 and in a “State of the State” address and then in an additional follow-up interview with WISH-TV political reporter Jim Shella — WISH-TV is at channel 8, our CBS News affiliate in Indianapolis. And so I was trying to help them behind the scenes. I worked with Senator [Dennis] Kruse, who had told me that Senator [David] Long had wanted to control that process and have Senator Mike Young introduce the amendment on the floor that would restore the second sentence so that we could adopt the entire amendment and send it to the voters.
For me though, if you go back and look at my press conference, I pretty methodically laid out the chronology of why I thought that Senator Long and others had taken the issue into their own hands in order to really kill the issue for the session. And when I had met with them before learning the concerns of the governor, I had met with Senator Long and Senator [Brent] Steele, and we were asked — because we were members of the Judiciary Committee — to do a whip count on the Judiciary members to find out if there was support to reinsert the second sentence and if there was support to pass HJR-3 to pass out of the committee. At the time, we were told that the resolution was going to go to Judiciary Committee. And then when we did the whip count, we found support to restore the second sentence, and then pass it out of committee. After that, Senator Long made the decision to not send it to Judiciary but rather to his own Committee, Rules Committee, and then he made the further decision that he wasn’t going to allow any amendment. And then he was going to pass the resolution to the floor without amendment. Which if you look at the numbers, the mathematics — and again I go through all of this in my press conference, which is on YouTube in detail — If you take the thirteen Democrats and assume that they are all going to vote no, it only takes thirteen more Republicans to vote no with the Democrats. And so the mathematics works against conservative Republicans on the Senate floor. And I think all those things, in addition to other things, factored into Senator Long’s decision to do what he did.
Now in terms of the tweet when I was trying to help Senator Kruse. I had started my own whip count and I was stuck on fifteen solid Republican votes to agree on the floor to reinsert the second sentence. Well I needed twenty-six. If I didn’t have twenty-six, it wasn’t going to happen because of the math with the Democrats.
And so we had caucus, I can’t tell you what was discussed or said or done in caucus, but because I had filed my amendment — because at the time I wasn’t positive that an amendment was going to be filed. In checking with the legislative services agency, and with the Senate majority attorney’s office, I went ahead and filed an amendment to make sure that we would meet a deadline so an amendment could be filed. I did that knowing that I was stuck at fifteen votes. And so there was media interest as to whether or not I was going to call my amendment and what was going to happen. We were on the senate floor and this was after the caucus meeting. Within minutes of Dennis Kruse calling HJR-3 for second reading — and that’s when I put out the tweet saying there wasn’t support for me to call my amendment and that the second sentence was dead for the session of the General Assembly.
When I did that, I did that to satisfy inquiry from probably over half a dozen different media outlets that were going to ask me or had asked me what I was going to do. Rather than have the same discussion, six to ten different times, I just wanted to handle it at once during Twitter. But what I didn’t anticipate at the time was that everybody under the sun would retweet that tweet and I would start to trend nationally. At that point, this evolved into a whole other level of newsworthiness.
Senator Long came back on the floor and asked me about it and I explained what I did and why. At the time, I thought things were resolved between the two of us. It was only later that he had a media availability and he kind of blasted me and accused me of leaking a caucus confidence that we really started to get into it within the press.
And at that point in time, I made the decision to hold my news conference and to vote against HJR-3, if he would not allow the second sentence to be restored. I did that for a couple of reasons. One of which was I had passed out a legal memorandum from a very reputable source out of Washington D.C. that had told us that without the second sentence, our amendment had no legal consequences. So we were basically passing a statement that had no legal significance. And for me, given how divisive this was and how draining it was in terms of energy and what not, it didn’t make any sense to me to pass something for political purposes that wasn’t going to have any legal consequence.
And again, I talked about all of that in my press conference on YouTube. If you haven’t seen it, it will take thirty minutes of your life to watch it. It was carried live on ABC the Channel 6 news affiliate in Indianapolis and I walked through methodically the chronology of events at that press conference.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Curry: What were you trying to convey to the public through the media at the press conference?

MD: I was trying to bring to light what was going on with the process. And I was trying to bring to light my reasoning and thinking as to why I felt like this was a set up job from the beginning and that there was no intention to get this to the people. And how Senator Long had controlled the process. And how every step of the process the decisions that he made gave evidence to what I was saying that the people were never going to see this amendment at the ballot box in November of 2014. I also felt like it was newsworthy that one of the most conservative members of the Indiana State Senate was going to vote against the marriage amendment because it had no legal consequence. I wanted to explain to the public and to my constituents why a guy that is a strong supporter of traditional Judeo-Christian values, was not going to support the marriage amendment. Because I didn’t believe that the marriage amendment had legal consequence.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Curry: Senator, did you violate caucus rules of secrecy?

MD: I did not.
And the saying that I take great great umbrage with is … the only way I can fully defend myself would be to go violate caucus protocol and confidence.
Now I don’t accuse Senator Long of lying; that is a little strong. There are some — because what has been said to the media, particularly by Senator Long — that have had the wrong perception that I may have violated a confidence of the caucus. I certainly want to clear up any kind of misunderstanding with my caucus mates. But in no way did I violate a caucus confidence. The tweet that I put out was based upon my own information, from my own whip count that I kept on this project. Senator (Scott) Schneider knew about my whip count. Senator Dennis Kruse knew about my whip count. Senator Mike Young knew about my whip count. And so this idea that I violated a caucus confidence is unfortunate, it’s wrong, it’s untrue, it’s misleading, and, hopefully, this will help correct that record.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Senator, Chad Tew here. Who leaked the information about your punishment to the media?

MD: That is a great question because [laughs] — There is another issue over in the House of Representatives about caucus confidence being violated. I don’t know if you are following that with the whole nursing moratorium issue —
But it was interesting because the following Thursday I was called in to Senator Long and there were a couple of other senators, and they brought me in there to tell me what my consequence from this whole event was going to be. And they listed out four different things that were going to happen, and they then told me they were going to go to the caucus and privately tell them what was going to happen. Well, I get home Thursday night, that night, getting ready to have dinner, and I get a call from a Channel 13 WTHR NBC News affiliate. And they say “Senator Delph, we understand this, this, this and this are going to happen to you because of violating caucus protocol. Do you have a comment?”
And I just find it grossly hypocritical and somewhat ironic that there would be a violation of caucus protocol to leak out this punishment that I have while they’re accusing me of this. It’s really all very silly.
Since I have been in the legislature for eight years, I have been a champion of transparency and accountability. And I think the public has the right to know what their elected officials are doing on behalf of them and in some cases against them. And in this case, I did not violate a caucus confidence, and I was trying to advocate for my constituents, who wanted the right to vote on this issue as reflected in the surveys that they returned to my office. And so I felt like I was doing things to try to advocate on their behalf without necessarily taking a position from their perspective on whether they felt like this should be part of the constitution or not part of the constitution. I was trying to give them their opportunity, which they said they wanted, to vote on this one way or the other.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Tew: Concerning your punishment, you’ve had a number of disagreements over the years with Senate leader David Long. Does Senate leader David Long serve the Republicans in the state senate or do they serve him?

MD: Yeah, that is a great question. I like Senator Long. He and I every couple of years will have an issue. The legislative process is not one where conflict can be avoided. When you are in the arena, you are going to have issues, and I have enjoyed serving with Senator Long. But ultimately we the people elect elected officials to serve in the legislative branch of government. And as Thomas Jefferson said, “The consent of the governed are who give and what gives elected leadership and legislatures the legitimacy to make decisions on behalf of the people.” And so Senator Long has been elected by the Republican caucus to a position of great public trust — to manage the institutional integrity of the senate. And so he needs to, in my opinion — I have said this to him publicly and privately — to remember it is the people of Indiana that he represents and not just special interests or even the interest of the caucus itself — but it is the public at large. And he has also a responsibility to the institution of the senate.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Tew: Thank you, Senator. Let’s pause for identification.

Interview (part III): Issues in the fall 2014 election

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Chad Tew: Mike Delph, a Republican who represents parts of Indianapolis, Carmel and Zionsville is with us this morning for an exclusive interview. It is March 27, 2014, and this is Wikinews. Welcome back, Senator.

Mike Delph: Thanks for having me professor. One thing I just wanted to add from the last segment. There are a lot of YouTube videos and interviews that I’ve done and I’ve tried to be consistent in the story that I’ve been telling making sure that the truth gets communicated to the public. But when I did my press conference, I very methodically walked through my reasoning for why I believe that the marriage amendment was at least on the Senate side, set up for failure from the beginning. And I also addressed the whole tweet and where the information for that tweet came from. There’s been misinformation and misperception that it was tweeted from a caucus meeting. That is a falsehood. It was a tweet that I actually put out, again, directly from the senate floor within minutes of HJR-3 being called down for a second reading, and I did that, again, because there were a number of media requests to explain what I was going to do or not do with the amendment I had filed to restore the second sentence. I would encourage your listeners and your students if they’ve not done so to go listen to the press conference on YouTube.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Rachel Christian: Senator Delph, you have been labeled as a social conservative. Where do you believe you fall on the political spectrum?

MD: You know, that’s a good question. In my intro (Wikipedia: Voice Intro Project) that I read for Wikinews[sic] for the project that the professor and I worked on together, I reference myself as a fiscal and social conservative.
I kind of consider myself a constitutional conservative. I consider myself very independent-minded. If you look at my last election in 2010, I won my senate district 59 percent to 41 percent. Just two years prior to that, President Barack Obama won the same Senate district 56 percent to 44 percent over John McCain. So I think my history has shown an ability to have people who aren’t necessarily conservative Republican voters vote for me.
I try to listen to everybody, anybody in my district who has an issue or concern or wants to talk to me or tell me what they think about anything, always gets my ear. And you can’t do this job and be effective doing this job without being shaped by the views of your constituents, some of whom may disagree with your position on a given issue.
So I do consider myself a full-spectrum conservative, fiscal and social, but more importantly I consider myself a Constitutional conservative.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Bradie Gray: Recently, political commentator Brian Howey wrote about your senate district. Is it fair to say that your district is not socially conservative, that your stand on HJR-3 might not been aligned with your constituents, and that the Democrats see your seat as an opportunity.

MD: Well you will to talk to the Democrat[sic] Party about what they see as an opportunity. I can’t speak for them.
I will tell you again. I survey my constituents every year before we go in session. And I knew that the marriage amendment was going to be something that was going to be debated and considered. I asked them if they wanted a chance to vote on this through the constitutional amendment process via referendum in November 2014. I sent that survey to all registered voters in Senate District 29 and over 60 percent of the respondents said they wanted a chance to vote in November 2014. Again I didn’t ask which way they were going to vote — whether they were going to vote yes or no — but rather did they wanted the chance to vote. My position primarily was driven by that piece of information and my desire to try to advocate on behalf of my constituents to bring this whole issue to resolution.
From a personal standpoint, this issue is very divisive. The media is fixated on it. Very little else was covered because the media was so fixated on it. And to me whether you were for the amendment or against the amendment, there was pretty strong support to being done with it once and for all. And I couldn’t figure out a way to bring final closure to this without going to the referendum process to the public. And so I was hoping we could deal with this whole issue in 2014 but others felt differently that were in the leadership. And so we are going to be dealing with this issue on into the future.
In terms of the ideology of my constituents. I have some constituents who are socially conservative. I have some constituents who are socially moderate. I have some constituents who are socially liberal. The proof is going to be in the pudding when we run for reelection in November 2014 whether or not this is the driving issue to drive turnout and ultimately render judgement over the totality of my service in the senate.
Last year, I carried three bills into law. I’ve been known widely as somebody who is a leader on Veterans and military issues. Last year, we expanded contracting opportunities for veterans returning from Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. I wrote and carried into law a strong reform in the area of education for high performing schools. I have led efforts in reform for local government reform in Title 36 of Indiana Code. I have been named Legislator of the Year by the Disabled American Veterans. And I have been giving the Distinguished Public Service Award twice, once in 2006 and once in 2013 by the American Legion. I’ve been awarded the Mr. Clean Award by Common Cause for my efforts to promote lobbying reform, and ethics reform, and redistricting reform. I’ve led an effort to change the law in the area immigration reform. And again that was not a Republican or Democrat issue, it was an American patriotic issue. And a lot of my folks that were not a conservative or Republican because of my leadership on this issue supported me in 2010. We feel very good about where we were politically.
I just actually just had a grassroots campaign committee with my team on Saturday at my house. My 19-year-old daughter Abby, who is a freshman at IUPUI, is going to serve as my campaign manager, and I’m going to teach her how to do this. We have the leader of the College Republicans at Anderson University, as well as IUPUI and other leaders from Butler University that will all be involved in my grass roots effort.
Before Thanksgiving, there was some talk that somebody might try to challenge me in a primary. And our grassroots effort, we had home school moms and volunteers make over 7,000 phone calls to base, Republican voters. We shut that down pretty quick. We have the strongest, best grassroots team in the state senate. I welcome competition. We are going to go out and compete. And we are going to let the voters make their decisions. We feel very good where we are politically.
From a campaign finance standpoint. We have the most money that we have ever had. We have [US]$180,000 in cash in the bank. I have a business man, a Christian pastor, who has offered to write a check for $25,000 to support me. Another person is going to write a check for $2500. And I suspect if I really tried to raise more money, I could raise a lot more money.
So again I feel the grassroots, the financial support, the community support will be there for us. But ultimately I serve at the pleasure of the voters. And if they choose that they would rather have somebody else serve them and represent them in the Indiana State Senate, I certainly will respect that decision. But I will never shy away from my core convictions, or my Christian principles, or what I believe in, or what I think the right thing to do is, and I will always act on what I believe is the right thing to do.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Casie Mathies: Senator, this is Casie, how important are the business or establishment Republicans in your district and do you stand in danger of alienating them with your stands on HJR-3?

MD: You know there are some businesses that are in fear of litigation right now because of the whole environment around same-sex marriage. There are some churches that will be sued and possibly forced to ordain a relationship and a union that their God rejects. And so there are some businesses that will probably have some concerns but there will be other businesses that will support my position. I think most businesses though, aren’t really motivated by this issue in particular. They are just out trying to run a business to make payroll, to grow their business, and I’ve got a strong business-friendly record as delineated by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and the Indiana Manufacturers Association. A strong history for promoting economic growth, including our latest bill this year was Senate Bill 1. Where we’ve given the local government units the ability to phase out the business personal property tax if they so choose to do so, and a gradual further reduction of the corporate income tax.
One other additional point I want to make. I’ve also been a leader on corporate transparency reform. Last year, I also carried into law a bill that Governor Pence signed into law before a board of directors meeting of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation calling for and requiring more transparency and the economic incentives that we give out to companies that say that they are going to create “X” amount of jobs in exchange for those economic incentives. So bottom line, I think my record in the senate has been very pro-business and pro-job growth and pro-economic development and so I think businesses will look more at that than they will look at HJR-3.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Sean Kerchief: Your likely opponent in next fall’s election, JD Ford, says he stands for, quote, equality. Do you?

MD: I’ve not had a chance to meet Mr. Ford. I look forward to doing so. You know, we still have a primary to get through, and I’ll probably reserve my comments until after May. After the candidates have been officially nominated by the voters of each party. But I believe in equality. We do have equality of marriage. We just have not, ever, believed as a society that that translates to same-sex marriage. We have had over two hundred years of social norms and of standing up for traditional Judeo-Christian values and this idea of equating same-sex marriage with opposite sex or traditional marriage is a very new thing in the history and life of Indiana and our nation. And so, any man has the right to marry a woman who agrees to marry him, and any woman has the right to marry any man who agrees to marry her, and that is equal, you know, across all boundaries.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Keisha Wright: Senator Delph, What are the political stands that are going to provide the sharpest contrast between you and your likely political opponent, JD Ford this fall?

MD: Well again, I’ve not yet had the chance to meet Mr. Ford. I look forward to doing that, and I’ve not had the chance to be educated on what he stands for, and what his positions are, and I look forward to doing that. But what I’m told, the biographical backgrounds and positions are pretty black and white, night and day, and so I think the voters, for what I’ve been told without studying the issues on him, will get a sharp contrast.
You know I’ve served in the Indiana State Senate for 8 years. I spent four years in leadership as an assistant majority floor leader for communications revamping the whole communications process through two communications directors. I’ve carried a number of bills into law. I’ve served in business. I’ve run my own business out of my home. Now I serve for a privately-held company as a general counsel. I’ve served for a publicly traded company as an executive in their government affairs department, and so I have a lot of business experience, applied experience in the Indiana General Assembly. I’ve also had a lot of family experience raising five daughters as a home school educator.
I’ve been a leader in the military. I currently am a major in the United States Army Reserve serving in a number of leadership capacities during the course of my military experiences. So I’m very confident and proud of my history, of my record, and I look forward to further communicating that with my voters and Senate District 29. And I also look forward to meeting my opponent after we get through the May primary.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Tew: Just a short question. You started your military service in what year?

MD: June of 2001, I believe.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Tew: And you were promoted to major when?

MD: I was promoted to major on March 23, 2012. And that was also after the whole brouhaha over the military uniform issue with [Lieutenant] Colonel Mejia. I was a company commander for the 310th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, at the time I was a captain, company commander. And notwithstanding that I was still promoted to major. I think the military almost on a weekly basis to take a leadership position in a unit.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Meredith Harris: You have been considered for higher offices. What qualities do you have to offer not only your district, but voters all over Indiana?

MD: Well, I’ve not actively sought higher office. I enjoy reading about my political future in the press routinely, oftentimes over coffee with my daughters. You know, I love my country, I love my state, I love my neighbors, I love my community, I love my fellow man. I’m very concerned about the direction that our nation’s going. In 2008, we crossed a barrier that was not widely reported. That was the first year that our nation started talking about operational deficits — the difference between revenue and expense on an annual basis — in terms of trillions of dollars. It is mind boggling to me that since 2008 the United States government has added a trillion dollars in national debt each and every year. We are spending our posterity into oblivion. At some point our debt will not be marketable. People won’t think it’s a good enough risk to invest in and at that point Judgement Day happens.
And I, you know, am concerned about that because I love my five daughters and I want them to grow up with opportunity. I want them to grow up in economic freedom and to be able to compete and do things and love and live and enjoy life and not have a country on the brink of collapse — of economic collapse. So I’m very outspoken on issues like that and on national security issues and also on Supreme Court nomination issues, and that sort of thing. And because of that, that’s led to speculation.
When the speculation took place regarding Senator Lugar and also Congressman Burton, we did have brief discussions with my family, with my daughters, around our kitchen table. Some of my daughters have been character actors, or youth interpreters I should say, at Conner Prairie, a live museum here in central Indiana, others have served as members of the Indianapolis Children’s Choir. They’re all very involved in the home school community and their friends are here. So I told them that if I ran and got elected to federal office, they would either have to move out to Washington D.C., or they wouldn’t get to see their dad three nights, at least three nights out of the week. And once I gave them that information, they were unanimous in their opposition to me running for Congress or the United States Senate. Until I get to a point where my family balance can be taken into consideration, I don’t anticipate seeking higher office. But I’m always humble and grateful that people consider my record and my views worthy of consideration for such purpose.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Tew: Just briefly, senator. Your passage of the local government initiative that would allow governments to merge was very successful in your district, but not successful elsewhere around Indiana. What was it about your district that made it unique in that it decided to merge?

MD: Well the reform that came from House Bill 1362, which at the time was the most dramatic reform in Title 36, in probably 25 years or more. It allowed for the creation of a government of the people, by the people, for the people subject to the imagination. Whatever the mind could come up with, you could do up to the county boundary. And so in the case of Eagle and Union Townships deciding to dissolve themselves and then enter into a pact with the town of Zionsville and create the new town of Zionsville, it took vision. It took selfless service because you had two township trustees that had to agree to dissolve their reason for being. Not many elected officials will do something like that. It was a very courageous move by the trustee of Eagle and the trustee of Union Townships to do that. I think part of the problem that we’ve had in other parts of the state, including Evansville and Fort Wayne, is that the process and the law has not been adequately marketed and explained to the public and to elected officials. But right now in Indiana Code, you could reform local government up to the county boundary in just about any way imaginable to the mind. The only thing that really is the constraint is the imagination.
I’m very proud of that. And I’m proud of the fact that the folks in Zionsville took the ball and ran with it. I was honored to work with then state representative Jim Buck, from Kokomo, who also represented Zionsville. And I represented … at the time, not Zionsville. It wasn’t until afterwards that Zionsville became part of my area.
Here is one other neat story. The Town Hall chambers in Zionsville is the former Methodist church where Beth and I got married in. When we had this ceremony of this dissolution of Eagle and Union Townships and the creation of the new town of Zionsville. It literally happened right where we got married. And I was asked to speak right in the same place where I exchanged my wedding vows with my wife. I got up to speak and I was nervous and stammering a little bit and they’re like “Senator is everything ok?” And I’m like, “For some reason, this specific location in the world, I’m in a vortex, and it makes me really nervous.”

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Tew: Thank you, senator. And, let’s pause for identification.

Interview (part IV): Conclusion

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png This is Wikinews, and we are back with Senator Mike Delph. I am Chad Tew, and we are here at The Edge radio studios with my journalism students and recording from the campus of the University of Southern Indiana, in Evansville. Our first question will come from Jordan.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Jordan Bayes: Hi, Senator Delph, Jordan Bayes speaking. What ever became of the military investigation of you and the soldier who appeared by you at a press conference?

Mike Delph: Well that was ultimately adjudicated by the military. Colonel Mejia ended up retiring in good standing with the military. At the time I was a captain in the United States Army Reserve, and I am now a major. So I think everybody has moved forward and moved on.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngTew: And you were never punished for that, for the record?

MD: There was a resolution that I had with my commanding general that is private, but there was never anything official other than on my officer evaluation report that denoted the issue.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngTew: Yes, and then you were successfully promoted.

MD: Successfully promoted for major and more importantly I get, I won’t say harassed, but a fair number of calls from recruitment and retention people asking me to take leadership of units and to be more involved in the military, as if I have all this extra time on my hands.
But let me just tell you, on that whole deal. I don’t go through life with regrets. I had no regrets for that press conference. The purpose of that press conference was to show Ray Mejia to the world, and how a guy who came from Mexico, not knowing the language, not being a citizen, used the path of the military to rise up through the ranks, get an education, learn the English language, and then ultimately become a successful executive with Eli Lilly. To me that was a story that needed to be told. Nobody was telling it. Ray Mejia is very proud of his military service, as am I, and he wanted to show off what he had done in the military that was part of his identity and part of his story.
So we were both supportive of that move, and, you know, as in life, you take positions just like when I did my press conference a couple weeks ago. I decided to do a press conference in the center of the rotunda of the Indiana State House, and I did that going into it knowing there would be consequences. That’s part of leadership.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Bayes: Tim Durham, who is now serving a 50-year sentence for running a Ponzi scheme in Indiana, was a major donator to Republicans, including your campaign. Former Governor Daniels for instance received almost $200,000 dollars. You were the first to give money back donated by Durham in 2011 after he was charged, which was $10,000 dollars. However you kept money donated by BP after the Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010. What kind of money do you think should be given back, and what kinds do you think are alright to keep?

MD: You know, it’s interesting, because I got introduced to Tim Durham in, I want to say September or October — I want to say it was October of 2005. It was right before my special caucus or special election for my caucus for the replacement of Murray Clark. Governor Daniels was hosting a Republican Governors Association fundraising event at Obsidian headquarters, and that was my first introduction to Tim Durham. And then I have a dear friend of mine who went to high school with him down in Seymour in Jackson County. I did not know Tim well. I met him a couple times, but my friend Tim Motsinger — who I’d known through politics and Marion County used to be a deputy with Marion County Sheriff’s Department for Jack Cottey — encouraged me to reach out to him, and I did on a couple occasions, and he wrote me two checks for $5000 dollars.
When the whole fair finance deal was coming out, and I started learning about that, the bankruptcy trustee actually sent out a list, or made a list of people that Durham had made contributions to, asking for voluntary returns of that money. Making the argument that it wasn’t his money to donate, it was the retiree’s money. I was not on that list. I didn’t know about the list. When I found out about the news story, I reached out on my own to the bankruptcy trustee, and said, “Hey, Tim gave me $10,000 dollars, I’d like to return it, what do I need to do?” And they were shocked. They couldn’t believe it because they were trying so hard to get all this other money that you mentioned back and they were not getting much cooperation. So. Tor me I felt it was the right thing to do. You know, I pray for Tim Durham. I think that all men have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. I also believe only one man walked this Earth without sin and his name was not Mike Delph. And so I felt it was the right thing to do to give the money back, and I did that.
In the terms of BP, BP is a great corporate citizen. They made a mistake and immediately went to rectify and restore the ecology of the mistake that they made. And so I’m very proud of BP and I’m very proud for the way that they handled that, and I thought this political scapegoatism of them was pretty shameful. This is a company that provides a lot of jobs, a lot of economic development, a lot of good things to the community. They had a tough time and they immediately used corporate assets and their ingenuity to aggressively address and correct what they had done negatively to the environment. And I felt like they should be applauded and lifted up and not condemned.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Dennis Marshall is here with our last question tonight, Dennis —

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Dennis: Senator you are well known for your support of the single class basketball here in Indiana, why is that such an important issue for you?

MD: Dennis you’re going to make me cry. I love this issue, love it. I grew up in a time that is not, obviously, today, and I just fell in love with Indiana high school basketball. I didn’t play basketball in high school myself. I was a football player and I was slow and bulky and that sort of thing.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Tew: You were a wrestler, too?

MD: I actually was a cheerleader for the high school basketball team my senior year.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Tew: Senator, were you a wrestler?

MD: I love basketball, I always have. But when I was growing up I remember watching the state tournament with my grandmother. It was almost like a holiday. We’d play cards and have a cheeseball and you know salami and crackers. We’d bet a dollar a game on the games.
That was the time when guys like Scott Skiles were bringing Plymouth (High School) to the state championship tournament, and Steve Alford and New Castle [High School], and Mike and Chris Heineman over at Connersville [High School]. There was just a tremendous amount of great basketball stories. And then I got to learn about the story of the “Milan Miracle”, of the state championship run that led to the story of Hoosiers [a film]. Then, later on, right before I left and started growing up more after college and graduate school, the story of Damon Bailey and Bedford North Lawrence [High School] team. These are stories were high school basketball teams would captivate and grab the attention of the entire state. I remember when the Marion Giants with Jay Edwards and Lyndon Jones dominated for a couple years.
And so these are things that are very important and then when they went to this touchy feeling everybody has to have a trophy and a championship multi-class system, it took something away from our Hoosier identity. So it was something that I always felt pretty strongly about.
When I first got elected to the legislature, my pastor’s wife was the executive assistant to the commissioner of the ISHAA, Blake Ress, and she knew how I felt about class basketball. I didn’t like it and I wished we’d go back to single class [basketball in Indiana]. But out of unity to my church and not wanting to cause my pastor’s wife consternation, I decided I would not do anything or pursue anything. Then she left the IHSAA and then I had an opportunity to interject this multi-facet education proposal. And then I met Bobby Cox, the then commissioner of the IHSAA, and I told him, “I’ll table this proposal, but let’s see what the public has to say.” And he said, “that is a great idea. Let’s do some public meetings. Let’s go around the state together, let’s hold a press conference and tell the world what we are doing, and let’s take a vote at every public meeting. We’ll give the public a chance that they didn’t have at the time when we made this decision.
I think at the time the IHSAA and Commissioner Cox, in particular, thought that the public would be more allow the lines of multi-class basketball. We probably had 50 to 100 people turn out at every one of our meetings. We even went to former historical Gary Roosevelt up in Lake County we went down to several areas in Southern Indiana, we went to Pendleton. I don’t have the list in front of me, so I’m just kind of doing this from memory. I emailed it to Professor Tew. I think the turnout or vote was 68 percent for restoration towards single class basketball.
One of the real joys of that whole process for me was meeting Bobby Plump and going to Milan and meeting the [19]54 basketball team. They all turned out for that. That was kind of a turning point in our road show. Because up until that point, the turnout was mixed in terms of whether it was single-class or multi-class. But at Milan, it was blowout. Everyone there wants to go back to single class basketball. I toured the Milan high school, and the athletic director tells me to this day he still gets calls from people all over the world wanting to know about Milan and Hoosiers.
He actually had a guy call him once and say how do I get to the high school, I’m flying in to Cincinnati, and he gave him directions from the Cincinnati airport to the Milan high school so he could come see the trophies and learn more about the history because he had just seen the movie Hoosiers. To me this is something like, just like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway puts Indianapolis on the map, we’re known as the greatest racing spectacle in world, with the Indianapolis 500. We are also known internationally for our wonderful single class basketball tournament, which lifts up and extolls the virtues of the underdog and the little guy. When we went to multi-class basketball we lost some of that cultural identity that Indiana was known for. Not only nationally but throughout the world. And I want to try to bring that back.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Tew: Thank you Senator. This has been an exclusive interview with Mike Delph. Thank you very much Senator for being with us tonight and speaking to fifteen journalism students and myself…

MD: Professor, it’s been an honor. I really have enjoyed working with you and the University of Southern Indiana through this process. And I really enjoyed talking with your students and answering their questions. I look forward to an ongoing partnership into the future.



Outro

This has been an exclusive audio Wikinews interview with Indiana State Senator Mike Delph. To receive the latest news, please visit wikinews.org, presenting up-to-date, relevant, newsworthy and entertaining content without bias. Wikinews is a free service and it is funded by your generous donations. Click on the donate link on our homepage to learn how you can contribute. This recording has been released under the Creative Commons 2.5 License.

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March 5, 2014

Wikinews interviews specialists on Russian intervention in Ukraine

Wikinews interviews specialists on Russian intervention in Ukraine

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Map of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and of Sevastopol, Ukraine.
Image: PANONIAN.

People in Ukraine protesting against Russia’s intervention “Crimea is Ukraine”.
Image: ВО Свобода.

A Crimean self-defense group with shields painted as the flag of the autonomous republic.
Image: E. Arrott.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

In the past few days, tension has been increasing due to conflict between Ukraine and the Russian Federation which has led to the United States, the United Kingdom, and France increasing pressure on Russia to remove their troops from Crimea.

Wikinews interviewed specialists in Russian foreign policy and specialists in international law about the legality of Russia’s actions and the consequences of any sanctions imposed by G7 nation economies.

Interviewees

Wikinews interviewed:

  • Jane Burbank, Professor of History and Russian and Slavic Studies at the New York University, New York
  • Jeremy Morris, Senior Lecturer in Russian Studies at the University of Birmingham, Birmingham
  • Craig Brandist, Professor of Cultural Theory and Intellectual History in the Department of Russian and Slavonic Studies at the University of Sheffield, Sheffield
  • Stephen Blank, Senior Fellow for Russia at the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, D.C.
  • Yanni Kotsonis, Director, New York University Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia in New York.

Wikinews Q&A

File photo of interviewee Craig Brandist.
Image: Craig Brandist.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Are Russian troop deployments into Ukrainian territory a clear violation of sovereignty?

  • Morris: Yes.
  • Burbank: Yes, the borders of the Ukrainian state were drawn up in 1991 and reinforced by the 1994 Budapest accords. See the article by Paul Goble on these accords.
  • Brandist: It would be hard to describe it otherwise. That said, however, it is quite extraordinary hypocrisy for the US and UK to strike moral poses about this, especially after Iraq and Afghanistan. Russia clearly has strategic interests in the region, and there is a large Russian-speaking population in much of Ukraine, a majority in Crimea and an important part of the east of the country, and the arrangement after the collapse of the USSR was clearly fragile, especially when NATO expansion took place. None of this is to excuse Russian actions, but they cannot be understood without focus on the ‘great game’ of which it is part.
  • Blank: By any standard Russia’s actions represent a violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and integrity, a premeditated break with numerous treaties signed by Russia guaranteeing Ukraine’s security, integrity, and sovereignty, and thus Premier Yatsenyuk is right these are acts of war.
  • Kotsonis: On the surface it seems so. Mind you, it is complicated because Russia has been given rights to the bases on the Crimea and this may give Russia the pretext for a larger intervention. But it does not seem to be a clear-cut legal case for intervention and everyone understands that this is Russia smarting over the loss of an ally in Yanukovich and guarding its own back yard interests.

File photo of interviewee Yanni Kotsonis.
Image: Yanni Kotsonis.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Are we going to see a proxy war between the United States and Russia?

  • Morris: No.
  • Burbank: I doubt that we will have a real war, but note that the Russians who falsely accused the “West” and the U.S. for instigating the political activism of Ukrainians (denying that Ukrainians themselves wanted to change their corrupt government for a more democratic and inclusive one) now have managed, through provocation, to get the “West” involved in the conflict. (So far this involvement is only diplomatic and verbal.) Moreover, the analysis so common in the Western media of a divided Ukraine (East vs West) has played into Russia’s hands, setting up a scenario for strife and divisiveness.
  • Brandist: I think it unlikely at present. Russia humiliated the US when it entered Georgia to stop it becoming part of NATO, exposing the limits of US power in areas where Russia has an overwhelming superiority in conventional weapons. Russia clearly cannot contest the US on a global basis in the way that the USSR once could, but it remains a great power with a powerful regional presence, while the limits of US power have been graphically illustrated in the Middle East and Caucasus. This is another illustration of that.
  • Blank: It is too soon to know what we are going to see but a proxy war is one possibility as is a direct confrontation between NATO and Russia (note I did not say war). In my personal opinion resolute NATO action combined with economic and political action of a similarly robust nature would force Russia to back down because it knows it cannot afford to go up against NATO. Indeed this operation was undertaken because Putin et al openly and […] publicly declared their belief that Obama and other Western leaders are weak, irresolute, and afraid to act. This calculation must be reversed decisively if peace is to hold.
  • Kotsonis: I doubt it. The US has used stern language but so far has taken direct intervention off the table. On the other hand Russia has declared publicly that it can intervene militarily and has decided that the US will not. “Proxy” does not capture it because Russia is actually in Ukraine and the US won’t be.

File photo of interviewee Jane Burbank.
Image: Jane Burbank.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png In response to Russia’s build-up of its forces in Crimea, Ukraine has ordered a full military mobilisation. To what extent can Ukrainian troops hold back and successfully fight Russian forces?

  • Morris: Anything is possible, but I think Ukraine lacks the political will to enter large-scale conflict. There may be insurgency-like fighting.
  • Brandist: Russia has overwhelming superiority in both the south and east of Ukraine, and the Ukrainian forces are not necessarily reliable in a conflict with Russia given the support for Russia among a substantial part of the Ukrainian population. Ukraine does, however, have substantial assets elsewhere and if Russia was to try to move into the Ukrainian heartland it would be a substantial operation. This is precisely why it is unlikely to do it. Moreover, Russia does not want a division of Ukraine, which could lead NATO to become established within the borders of the ex-USSR, so it is more likely it is seeking to change the facts on the ground so to be able to negotiate from a position of strength. It is difficult to predict how events will unfold on the ground, however, given the informal and extreme nationalist forces who are operating.
  • Blank: It is unlikely that Ukraine could prevail in such a conflict but I think it would unhinge Russian calculations, create the basis for protracted conflict, including guerrilla war for which Russia is not prepared, and thus force the West to act and begin the process of imposing costs on Russia that Putin did not foresee. Indeed that is one reason why this is an incredibly reckless action on Putin’s part.
  • Kotsonis: No one thinks Ukraine can stand up to Russia. It’s partly because Russia is bigger and better equipped, partly because Russia has bases in Ukraine, and partly because Russia is relatively united. One will have to see whether Ukraine will unite when so many of its citizens identify with Russia. We do not know the answer to this, only anecdote.

File photo of interviewee Jeremy Morris.
Image: Jeremy Morris.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Would penalties imposed on Russia by the ‘Western nations’ being the United States, UK and France have severe consequences for the Russian economy?

  • Morris: Not really, so much depends on oil price for Russia, but fall in [the] rouble due to lack of confidence may affect ordinary Russians’ ability to buy imported goods.
  • Brandist: Clearly such measures would have negative effects, and the business community in Russia is clearly worried. That said, however, the likelihood of any coherent action against Russia is not great, not least because much of Europe is reliant of Russian gas. Moreover, it is European states that would face any potential flood of refugees and so European states will not be keen on too much pressure that could lead Russia to press Ukraine even more. Germany effectively vetoed Georgia’s attempt to be part of NATO, and it would have even more interests in trying to stabilize the situation now. In this situation the ‘Western nations’ mentioned have limited leverage, though it clearly would have an impact.
  • Blank: Ejecting Russia from the G8 is meaningless. Sanctions that would register are sanctions on Putin et al so they cannot access their money, action in the WTO [World Trade Organization] to arraign Russia for violating its statutes, legislation placing sanctions on Russia equivalent to those on Iran that have crippled it, staging a run on the rouble, and if necessary blockading the Baltic and Black Seas to prevent maritime commerce. Most importantly but this is over time, Europe must reorient its gas and oil purchases away from Russia on a long-term basis. All these moves must be taken together and in tandem with military-political moves to uphold Ukraine’s integrity and sovereignty and thus preserve peace by deterring Russia and imposing excessive costs upon it.
  • Kotsonis: It will probably make matters worse for Russia but it won’t be a causal factor. Russia is overly dependent on commodities exports and is at the mercy of world prices. The world wants those resources and will probably not renounce them, but they may not be enough to keep the economy growing in Russia. Any penalties would only accelerate the secular trend.

Soldiers without insignia guard buildings in the Crimean capital, Simferopol, March 2, 2014.
Image: Voice of America.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png There are reports that Russia could be ejected from the G8 group of developed economies. Would this be a major blow for Putin’s domestic popularity?

  • Morris: Not really.
  • Brandist: In present circumstances not. There is a substantial constituency in Russia that is nostalgic about its imperial status, especially after the humiliation inflicted on the state during the Yeltsin period, and these conflicts are presented in this context. Certainly recognition of Russia at the G8 was a prestige factor, but there are clearly compensations on an ideological level in the present situation. This is an illustration of Russia’s ascendency vis-a-vis the US and the EU [European Union] in one sense. What it all means in the longer term depends on a significant amount of variables, however.
  • Blank: Ejecting Russia from the G8 is necessary but insignificant in its own right.
  • Kotsonis: No, it would probably increase his popularity in an us-v-them dynamic. Putin thrives politically on autarky and it may be treated as an attack on Russian prestige. But less on Putin’s reputation at home.

File photo of interviewee Stephen Blank.
Image: Stephen Blank.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Is the Russian general public in full support of the deployment of their own troops into Ukraine, a separate sovereign nation?

  • Morris: No, this is a distraction by Putin from increasing economic and political problems in Russia. A minority of Russians support deployment and I think support from ordinary Russians will fall when they realise deployment may result in the killing of fellow Slavs.
  • Burbank: There is no such thing as a united Russian public. There are many views in Russia, as elsewhere. Clearly, some people in Russia oppose this assault on Ukraine, as we have seen from the arrests and beating of demonstrators in Moscow. There is a section of the academic “community” — also a deceptive word — that is opposed to the invasion.
If you are interested in this, read the discussion on Ab Imperio’s Facebook site, where many young academics are expressing their views.
I would like to repeat one point: the notion of a simple nationalized divide between East and West Ukraine is both false and counter-productive. There are nationalists in many areas of the country, but there are also people with other political commitments. It is dangerous for the Western media to reinforce the notion that nationalist sentiment (pro-Russian or pro-Ukrainian) is the only political force in Ukraine. A whole generation has grown up since Ukraine’s independence and many people, old and young and in the middle, have ideas about sovereignty and politics that are not simply “ethnic.”
  • Brandist: Russia does not have a unified or stable ‘public opinion’ any more than anywhere else. Moreover, the Crimea and east of Ukraine are not necessarily viewed as fully a separate nation among many Russians. Many Russians have relatives there and go there for vacations. At present the majority are in support for the reasons I’ve just outlined. However, we have seen significant opposition movements in recent years, which shows that if things turn out badly then Putin may be vulnerable. There is clearly an assessment of risks that has been carried out by the Kremlin, and so far it has paid off. Indeed, it probably strengthens Putin’s compromised standing at home, but if things do go wrong then this could change quickly.
  • Blank: It is probably the case that Putin enjoys public support in Russia but that is irrelevant since the media’s been so thoroughly cowed as to be unreflective of reality and the issue is not public opinion there but Putin and the ruling clique.
  • Kotsonis: Yes, this seems to be the case. You need to understand that Ukraine is in Russian minds somewhere between a close friend and a back yard. It was always assumed that this was the key alliance for Russia and tacitly understood that Russia’s geopolitical interests would be respected. Europe’s gamble last year was to pull Ukraine into the Euro orbit by forcing Ukraine to choose. Almost anyone in Russia saw this as a direct challenge. I can’t say for certain but I imagine a large majority think the intervention is justified.



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February 11, 2014

Wiki loves the European Parliament in Strasbourg

Wiki loves the European Parliament in Strasbourg

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Wikimedia-logo.svg This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

The European Parliament building in Strasbourg
Image: Ralf Roletschek.

A special Wikinews video report from the parliament visit
Image: Brian McNeil.

Last week fifty volunteers, from nine countries covering nineteen languages, spent four days at the European Parliament buildings in Strasbourg photographing and filming members of the parliament (MEPs). This being an effort to significantly increase the audio-visual content available in Wikipedia and other Wikimedia Foundation projects.

Members of the team, who were all granted guest press accreditation, began arriving at the hotel in the small town of Kork, not far from the France–Germany border, on Saturday. The team base, Hotel Ochsen, has an interesting history. Placards on the courtyard wall explain it served as headquarters for Field marshal Kollowrat-Krakowsky battling Napoleonic forces in the 1796 Siege of Kehl.

Those arriving later came directly to the Louise Weiss building, which hosts the parliament’s plenary sessions and all voting on EU matters. Whilst staying in the hotel, the Wikimedian group met two MEPs who chose it in-preference to dramatically more-expensive Strasbourg accommodation. One of the ushers from the parliament also chatted with volunteers at the hotel, self-depricatingly describing his ceremonial attire as a “penguin suit” due to the long-tailed jacket.

One of the first day’s MEPs to introduce themselves to the visiting Wikimedians was Christian Engström; delivering copies of his book, The Case for Copyright Reform, co-authored with Swedish Pirate Party founder Rickard Falkvinge. Engström explained that, in the book, he argues Wikipedia is one of the losers under current copyright legislation. One of numerous MEPs who recorded video introductions in multiple languages, he was more-confident than some colleagues — the most-challenging taking thirteen takes to successfully record.

Wikimedia volunteers pose for a group photo in the parliament
Image: Claude Truong-Ngoc.

Planning meeting in Hotel Ochsen, prior to travelling to the EU Parliament in Strasbourg
Image: Claude Truong-Ngoc.

Something to tempt MEPs into allowing their photos be taken
Image: Marcus Cyron.

Travelling by bus to the parliament
Image: Claude Truong-Ngoc.

Unpacking and setting up in the parliament
Image: Claude Truong-Ngoc.

MEP Michel Barnier talking to the mainstream press in the parliament
Image: Ralf Roletschek.

Elmar Brok giving a press conference in the parliament
Image: Claude Truong-Ngoc.

The Wiki loves parliaments photography ‘booths’ in the parliament
Image: Texaner.

Italian president Giorgio Napolitano addressing the parliamentary chamber
Image: Claude Truong-Ngoc.

The parliament’s Sakharov Exhibition, adjacent to where Wikimedians set up photo editing stations
Image: Brian McNeil.

French journalist Serge July inside the parliament during a press conference where it was demanded journalists held in Syria be released
Image: Claude Truong-Ngoc.

MEPs in makeup prior to being photographed
Image: Marcus Cyron.

Portrait photo of Hungarian MEP Livia Jaroka
Image: Leila Paul.

Interior shot of the parliament’s Louise Weiss building
Image: Brian McNeil.

Wikimedians uploading photos, and editing articles, in the parliament
Image: Claude Truong-Ngoc.

Banner in the courtyard of the parliament, calling for release of journalists held hostage in Syria
Image: Claude Truong-Ngoc.

William Legge, 10th Earl of Dartmouth, MEP for South West England
Image: Leila Paul.

Wikimedian Manuel Schneider (in background) filming a statement from MEP Bruno Gollnisch in the parliament
Image: Claude Truong-Ngoc.

Re-packing equipment after the Wiki loves parliament event
Image: Brian McNeil.

Wikimedians have a final shared meal after the event
Image: Brian McNeil.

Over 1,000 new, high-quality, photographs were taken and uploaded for use on Wikimedia projects during the visit. The second and third days in the parliament saw the highest number of MEPs coming to see the visiting Wikimedians and have their photographs taken. Once photographed, MEPs were encouraged to make video introductions in languages they were comfortable speaking in. In excess of 200 video clips of MEPs introducing themselves were captured; this providing freely-reusable audio and video records available via Wikimedia Commons.

A medley of MEPs introducing themselves
Image: Brian McNeil, Manuel Schneider.

Parliamentarians became more-enthusiastic about the project in its later days, with significantly more turning up to be photographed and filmed. Given some turned up as Wikimedians were packing up on the last day, some still lack freely-licensed photographs for their Wikipedia entries. French MEP, and National Front member, Bruno Gollnisch was amongst those disappointed when turning up after much of the equipment was packed up; although Gollnisch has already provided some video recordings, he had returned with additional prepared texts — including Japanese — for use in a video introduction.

Despite much of two levels within the parliament set aside for the press, the event received little coverage from mainstream media. France TV‘s channel three broadcast a report on the Thursday, making footage available via their website on the Friday.

In contrast the Voice intro project (WikiVIP) started by Andy Mabbett, and brought to a far-wider audience with Stephen Fry‘s endorsement, saw Mabbet give an interview from one of the parliament’s radio studios with United States‘ public radio network NPR. With Fry’s recording catching the attention of the press, that project has received coverage from as-far afield as Italy, Russia, and Japan.

Audio for use on Wikipedia is to be extracted from video recordings of MEPs for use on Wikimedia projects. As available storage and bandwidth increases, it is a longer-term goal of the Wikimedia Foundation to increase freely-available, and reusable, multimedia content across all projects hosted by the Foundation.

The project also served as an opportunity to emphasise that all Wikimedia content is created through people donating their time and effort. Whilst MEPs knew anyone could edit Wikipedia, meeting a group representing all ages, and much of Europe, served as an effective public-relations exercise.



Sources

Wikinews
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
Wikinews
This article is a featured article. It is considered one of the best works of the Wikinews community. See Wikinews:Featured articles for more information.
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