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Aug 18
Billy West, voice of Ren and Stimpy, Futurama, on the rough start that shaped his life
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Billy West, voice of Ren and Stimpy, Futurama, on the rough start that shaped his life
This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Ren and Stimpy. Bugs Bunny. Philip J. Fry and Professor Hubert Farnsworth on Futurama. Sparx. Bi-Polar Bear. Popeye the Sailor Man. Woody Woodpecker. You may not think you have ever heard Billy West, but chances are on a television program, a movie, a commercial, or as Howard Stern’s voice guru in the 1990’s, you have heard him. West’s talent for creating personalities by twisting his voice has made him one of a handful of voice actors—Hank Azaria and the late Mel Blanc come to mind—who have achieved celebrity for their talent. Indeed, West is one of the few voice actors who can impersonate Blanc in his prime, including characterizations of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd and other characters from Warner Bros. cartoons.

What is the fulcrum in Mr. West’s life that led him to realize a talent to shape personalities with his voice, and how did the discovery of that gift shape him? Wikinews reporter David Shankbone found that like many great comedians, West faced more sour early in life than he did sweet. The sour came from a physically and emotionally abusive alcoholic father (“I could tell you the kind of night I was going to have from the sound of the key in the door or the way the car pulled up.”), to his own problems with drug and alcohol use (“There is a point that you can reach in your life where you don’t want to live, but you haven’t made the decision to die.”).

I’m telling you stuff that I never said to anybody…

If sin, suffering and redemption feel like the stages of an endless cycle of American existence, West’s own redemption from his brutalized childhood is what helped shape his gift. He performed little bits to cheer up his cowed mother, ravaged by the fact she could not stop her husband’s abuse of young West. “I was the whipping boy and she would just be reduced to tears a lot of times, and I would come in and say stuff, and I would put out little bits just to pull her out of it.”

But West has also enjoyed the sweet. His career blossomed as his talent for creating entire histories behind fictional characters and creatures simply by exploring nuance in his voice landed him at the top of his craft. You may never again be able to forget that behind the voice of your favorite character, there is often an extraordinary life.

Below is David Shankbone’s interview with renowned voice actor Billy West, who for the first time publicly talks about the horrors he faced in his childhood; his misguided search for answers in anger, drugs and alcohol; and the peace he has achieved as one of America’s most recognizable voice actors.

Contents

  • 1 The use of celebrities for voiceovers
  • 2 Iconic characters and choosing projects
  • 3 Discovering his talent
  • 4 “It was a horror chamber where I grew up”
  • 5 West moves to Boston after his parents divorce
  • 6 How West dealt with his father’s abuse
  • 7 Rehabilitation and sobriety
  • 8 Is West glad he experienced addiction?
  • 9 West on his career
  • 10 West on politics
  • 11 Billy West on modern American society
  • 12 Billy West on telling it like it is
  • 13 Source
Aug 16
Jørn Utzon, Sydney Opera House architect, dies at the age of 90
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Jørn Utzon, Sydney Opera House architect, dies at the age of 90

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Jørn Utzon, the Danish architect who designed the Sydney Opera House, has died at the age of 90. Mr Utzon died from a heart attack in his sleep at his home in Copenhagen.

“He had not been doing well these past few days, since Thursday. He had been undergoing a series of operations recently,” Mr Utzon’s son, Kim, told the Associated Press.

The first design for the Sydney Opera House was created by Utzon in 1957. Mr Utzon left Australia and returned to Denmark in 1966 due to disputes with the NSW government over cost blowouts and design differences. The building was finished 1973. Utzon never returned to Australia to see his building completed.

Relations between New South Wales and Utzon improved in the late 1990s and in 1999 the Sydney Opera House Trust asked for Mr Utzon to advise on changing the building’s interior to match his original design.

Mr Utzon was awarded the Pritzker prize for architecture in 2003. The selectors said the Opera House was one of the most iconic buildings of the 20th century saying that Utzon’s design “proves that the marvellous and seemingly impossible in architecture can be achieved”.

Kim Williams, chairman of the Opera House Trust, said the building would dim the lights on its sails on Sunday as a sign of respect. Mr Williams said he had met Mr Utzon at his home in Denmark recently, where they shared emotions and tears.

“We spoke for 40 minutes and when we left, he embraced me and he whispered in my ear ‘no tears’,” he said.

“He hasn’t been able to come back himself, but through his son he has been keeping up with all the developments here at the Opera House, really on a daily basis.”

Premier of NSW Nathan Rees said NSW was “deeply saddened” by the death of Mr Utzon, who gave Australia a “masterpiece” which was now UNESCO World-Heritage listed.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said Mr Utzon had left an impressive legacy.

“Joern Utzon was a visionary architect whose legacy includes one of the world’s most spectacular and inspiring buildings, the Sydney Opera House,” said the Prime Minister in a statement.

“Standing proudly on the edge of Sydney Harbour, the Opera House is one of the most internationally recognised symbols of our nation.”

Aug 11
LA Clippers owner receives lifetime ban from NBA for racist comments
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LA Clippers owner receives lifetime ban from NBA for racist comments

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

File:Donald Sterling.jpg

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has received a lifetime ban from the NBA (National Basketball Association) and has been fined $US2.5million for his racist comments this week. Sterling, who has owned the team since 1981, was overheard telling a woman, identified as girlfriend V. Stiviano, not to bring black people to games or associate with them.

The comments have caused an uproar, not just in the NBA, but within the Clippers team. In protest, players wore their warm-up jerseys inside out before their Game 4 playoff loss against the Golden State Warriors, while in other games throughout the league the San Antonio Spurs played in black socks and the Miami Heat practiced with their warm-up shirts inside out to mimic the LA Clippers.

Former NBA player Kevin Johnson, now mayor of Sacramento, said the league needed to hand out the maximum possible penalty. While NBA legend Michael Jordan, owner of the Charlotte Bobcats said there is no room in the NBA, or anywhere, for this kind of hatred.

The conversation took place on April 9, when a man’s voice, later identified as Sterling’s, told the woman not to pose for photos with black men, including Hall of Famer Ervin “Magic” Johnson. Sterling goes onto say it annoys him that she has to promote her association with black people.

It isn’t the first time Sterling has caused controversy with racist comments. Back in 2009 he was sued by his former General Manager Elgin Baylor who criticised Sterling’s attitude and quoted him as saying “I’m offering you good money for a poor black kid” when negotiating a contract with Danny Manning.

The situation is far from over as Sterling is refusing to sell the team, and the other teams have lobbied against him to force him to sell. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver needs 75% support, or 23 out of the 30 teams, to force Sterling out of the league permanently.

“The fine will be donated to organisations dedicated to anti-discrimination and tolerance efforts that will be jointly selected by the NBA and the Players’ Association” Mr Silver said.

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Aug 11
Eleven year-old boy arrested on suspicion of assaulting a four year-old boy in East Yorkshire
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Eleven year-old boy arrested on suspicion of assaulting a four year-old boy in East Yorkshire

Sunday, August 27, 2006

An eleven year-old boy has been arrested this morning on suspicion of attacking a four year-old boy in Hessle, East Yorkshire. The boy was arrested on suspicion of assault and has been bailed to mid-September pending further inquiries.

Charlie Davis was left with a fractured skull after being battered with a brick. The incident happened on wasteland close to the child’s home before lunchtime on Thursday, and he was discovered by a couple who were out walking. He was in a puddle of blood and part of his ear was hanging off; doctors at Hull Royal Infirmary later performed surgery to repair it.

Yesterday, a spokeswoman from Humberside Police said: “This little boy has suffered a nasty attack and has some horrible injuries.”

Police say they haven’t been able to talk to Charlie about the attack, and they say that they are keeping an “open mind” about the attack. A police spokeswoman added: “Police hope to be able to take a statement and get a full account of the incident from the four-year-old victim some time today, so long as he’s able to speak to us.”

According to reports, the little boy was tied to a tree before being battered, but police said there was no evidence to verify such information.

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Aug 11
Somali pirates attack US-flagged ship, vessel evades capture
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Somali pirates attack US-flagged ship, vessel evades capture

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Maersk Alabama, a US-flagged container ship that was hijacked by Somali pirates seven months ago, was attacked off the coast of Somalia. The pirates, however, could not capture the vessel.

The US Navy’s 5th Fleet, based in Bahrain, reported that four pirates riding in a fast skiff came within 270 meters of the container ship. The Maersk Alabama was about 965 kilometers off the northeast coast of Somalia and was steaming toward the Kenyan port city of Mombasa when it came under attack.

The Navy said the crew of Maersk Alabama undertook evasive maneuvers and deployed long-range acoustical devices, which make noise painful to the human ear. The crew also responded with small-arms fire after pirates fired automatic weapons at the ship. The pirates abandoned the attack without causing injuries or damage to the vessel.

We have attacked a ship with an American flag…

Abdullahi Nor, who said he was a spokesman for the pirates, commented on the incident. “We have attacked a ship with an American flag — we tried to throw our ladders for climbing [but] it sped and [has] gone away. It narrowly escaped and opened fire on us. One of our colleagues was injured in the attack.” Nor claimed to have communicated with the ship’s attackers via satellite telephone.

US Vice Admiral Bill Gortney, from the Naval Forces Central Command, issued a statement in which he praised Maersk Alabama’s owner and crew for following maritime industry’s best practices, including having a security team on board to help prevent a hijacking.

“Due to Maersk Alabama following maritime industry’s best practices, such as embarking security teams, the ship was able to prevent being successfully attacked by pirates. This is a great example of how merchant mariners can take pro-active action to prevent being attacked,” he remarked.

In April, the 155-meter vessel made international headlines when it was seized by pirates who held captain Richard Phillips hostage at gunpoint for five days in a lifeboat. He was freed by US commandos who killed three of the pirates.

A spokesman for the European Naval Force described the second attempted hijacking of the Maersk Alabama as “pure chance.”

Wednesday’s attack came soon after a report released by the United Nations, which said the presence of international warships off the coast of Somalia, as well as improved efforts by ships to protect themselves, have considerably reduced the number of successful hijackings in the region this year, especially in the Gulf of Aden.

But the report, submitted by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, noted that intensified anti-piracy activity in the Gulf of Aden is also forcing pirates to hunt for targets in the Indian Ocean, closer to the island nation of the Seychelles.

Since the beginning of October, seven of the eight vessels seized by pirates have been in the vicinity of the Seychelles. Recently, the government began allowing the US Navy to use the airport in the capital Mahe to deploy unmanned aerial vehicles to combat piracy. The Seychelles also signed an agreement last week to allow European warships and military personnel to pursue pirates from the high seas into Seychellian waters and to use necessary force.

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Aug 4
Left-wing EU parliament candidates debate in Cardiff
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Left-wing EU parliament candidates debate in Cardiff

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Cardiff, Wales —Labour, Plaid Cymru, and No2EU candidates for the Wales seats in the European Parliament met at Cardiff‘s Sandringham Hotel last night for the second of two pre-election hustings debates hosted by Cardiff Trades Union Congress. Cardiff TUC president Katrine Williams moderated as Derek Vaughan of the Labour Party, Jill Evans MEP of Plaid Cymru, and Rob Griffiths of the No2EU coalition, the tops of their respective lists, took questions from an audience of 22 composed largely of socialist activists and trade union members.

Candidates from the Tories, Liberal Democrats, and Green Party were not invited to the evening debate, although the Liberal Democrats did take part in the TUC’s debate earlier in the day. Ms Williams explained that the Liberal Democrats and Tories had been excluded because “we wanted to have candidates more representative of trade unions” but that not inviting the Greens had been “an oversight” due to the less prominent tradition of green politics in Wales. The BNP, UKIP and some minor parties also did not take part.

In opening statements, the three candidates discussed their records and their goals for the European Parliament. Mr Vaughan, leader of Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council, asserted the pro-organised labour credentials of the Labour Party, which has been under fire for several years from the left, and noted that Labour, which currently controls two of Wales’s four seats in the EU Parliament, has brought £1.5 billion to Wales, with a comparable amount to come in the future. Calling the BNP “Nazis” and comparing the British political situation to that in Germany in the 1930s, Vaughan called for the parties of the left to rally behind Labour in order to ensure that the BNP did not obtain any seats in Wales; but he expressed resignation to the likelihood that the BNP would earn a seat in North West England.

Ms Evans, meanwhile, who has been an MEP for ten years, announced her opposition to the pro-privatisation current in the EU and pledged that Plaid would support a new program of public investment and pro-organised labour revisions of EU directives, particularly the Posted Workers Directive.

Mr Griffiths, meanwhile, who is General Secretary of the Communist Party of Britain, took a position urging radical reform of the European Union. The Lisbon Treaty, which he characterised as a re-branding of the European Constitution, would, he argued, enshrine neo-liberal policies in Europe and impose them on its member states in a way that was irreversible — “at least by any constitutional means”. Calling for a “social Europe” as opposed to a “United States of Europe“, Griffiths suggested that the creation of a European Defence Agency and the actions of the European Court of Justice were being used to turn the European Union into a capitalist “empire” akin to the United States.

Discussion of the ongoing UK parliamentary expenses scandal and its implications for MEPs, who draw salaries and expenses considerably higher than Westminster MPs do, dominated the early discussion. The Labour candidate expressed the position that the problems in accountability leading to the scandal had been fixed; his opponents noted that of the parties currently representing Britain in Brussels, only Labour has not yet disclosed their expenses (although Mr Vaughan states that the party will begin to do so soon) and Mr Griffiths furthermore declared that the scandal was part of a wider problem: the corruption of the political system by big business.

On the subject of a common European defence policy the three candidates supported widely differing views. The No2EU candidate stated plainly that he considers Europe not to be threatened, and said that a European defence force would be used for foreign adventures in Afghanistan, Africa, and elsewhere in the developing world while at the same time building up the armaments industry in Europe. Ms Evans, meanwhile, argued that the proper role of a common EU force would be as a “civil force” supporting conflict prevention and conflict resolution operations, and also called for the abolition of NATO. Mr Vaughan finished the second round of questioning arguing that a common European armed force should be an alternative to the “US-dominated” NATO, but also stated the importance of bilateral alliances in building up a common European defence force, citing the Franco-German Brigade of the Eurocorps as an example.

Debate ended on the contentious question of MEP salaries, with one member of the audience challenging the three candidates to pledge to accept a wage, if they won, equal to the average wage of their constituents. Ms Evans agreed that the set wage, currently £63,000 rising to £73,000 in 2010, was “too high”, but would not commit to a so-called “worker’s wage”, under heavy criticism from the audience. Mr Vaughan, following, called it “not fair” to ask MEPs to take such a pledge but asserted “I have never been motivated by money” and finished his part in the debate with a call to elect more left-wing socialist MEPs. Mr Griffiths, whose No2EU coalition has made a worker’s wage for MEPs part of their election manifesto, readily pledged to hold to a living wage, albeit not necessarily one equal to the average wage of his constituents, and described some of the difficulties associated with refusing an EU salary, noting that initially No2EU had proposed that its MEPs should draw no salary and claim no expenses from Europe but the coalition’s legal advisors had said that to do so would endanger the status of any of its members as MEPs.

Voting for the European Parliament elections in the United Kingdom takes place June 4.

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Aug 4
Australian Centre for Paralympic Excellence unveiled
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Australian Centre for Paralympic Excellence unveiled

Monday, July 16, 2012

Belconnen, Australian Capital Territory — Earlier today at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), Australian Paralympic Committee President Greg Hartung and the Federal Minister for Sport Kate Lundy formally unveiled the Australian Centre for Paralympic Excellence.

The unveiling ceremony started with a speech by Hartung who mentioned how important the AIS was to the Paralympic movement in Australia, with the first Paralympic scholarship holder being Russell Short, who earned his scholarship in 1988 and has subsequently competed in six Paralympic Games, with this year’s Games making seven. Hartung went on to discuss how many more Paralympians have subsequently been supported by the AIS, including Matthew Cowdrey who credits an AIS run recovery centre at the 2008 Summer Paralympics with enabling him to win a gold medal.

Lundy’s speech followed Hartung’s. She highlighted how the AIS specifically supports five Paralympic programs including rowing, athletics, alpine skiing, and swimming. Beyond those, the AIS, with funding assistance from the federal government, provided AUD$13.5 million to support the Paralympics for goalball, cycling, and weightlifting, with an additional AUD$2.25 million going to grants to support Paralympians directly through Direct Athlete Support grants.

Following Lundy’s speech, the Australian Paralympic Centre of Excellence sign was unveiled. There are 44 days left until the start of the Paralympic Games.

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Aug 4
Taliban publicize video of captured U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl
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Taliban publicize video of captured U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl

Monday, July 20, 2009

On Saturday, the Taliban released a video showing Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl, the U.S. solider captured in Paktika, Afghanistan on June 30. In the film, Bergdahl, of Ketchum, Idaho, is shown eating a meal cross-legged on the floor. He appears clothed in a grey shalwar khameez, with a shaved head. In the presence of his jailers, he states, “I have a very, very good family that I love back home in America, and I miss them every day that I’m gone. I miss them and I’m afraid I might never see them again and that I’ll never be able to tell them I love them again.” He says he is frightened and asks that the United States, “Please, please bring us home so we can be back where we belong and not over here […]”; U.S. sources have argued that this statement was made under duress.

The events leading to Bergdahl’s abduction remain somewhat unclear. Taliban commander Mulvi Sangeen claimed that Bergdahl had gone to a military post on his own, became intoxicated, and was ambushed on the way back to his vehicle. The U.S. military has dismissed this; an anonymous source said, “The Taliban are known for lying and what they are claiming (is) not true.” In the video, Bergdahl himself says he had been taken after falling behind on patrol. Anonymous U.S. officials continue to state that he simply left his remote base unarmed on his own. U.S. sources believe that after being captured, Bergdahl was sold up the chain, eventually to a clan leader, Siraj Haqqani.

His family is praying for his, “safe return to his comrades and then to our family.” Meanwhile, Navy Lt. Robert Carr, a spokesman for the U.S. military in Afghanistan, says the U.S. is “continuing to do everything possible to recover the soldier and are using all available assets to get him back safely and unharmed.” Retired Army Maj. Gen. Bill Nash predicts that U.S. forces will act on several fronts, including intelligence-gathering and counter-insurgency operations. Already, U.S. forces have begun dropping two sets of pamphlets, one stating, “One of our American guests is missing. Return the guest to his home.” and the other, “If you do not release the U.S. soldier then […] you will be hunted.” The mayor of Ketchum has said that, “As the mayor, I can say this is a community situation. […] I trust the leadership of this country, the wisdom of the people who are serving and the decisions that led up to the situation.”

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Aug 4
Criminal Attorney Seattle For Handling Your Criminal Proceedings

Criminal Attorney Seattle For Handling Your Criminal Proceedings

by

criminallawseattle

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