Petition pressures City of Edinburgh Council to review clause affecting live music scene

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Live music venues in Edinburgh, Scotland are awaiting a review later this year on the 2005 licensing policy, which places limitations on the volume of amplified music in the city. Investigating into how the policy is affecting the Edinburgh music scene, a group of Wikinews writers interviewed venue owners, academics, the City of Edinburgh Council, and local band The Mean Reds to get different perspectives on the issue.

Since the clause was introduced by the government of the city of Edinburgh, licensed venues have been prohibited from allowing music to be amplified to the extent it is audible to nearby residential properties. This has affected the live music scene, with several venues discontinuing regular events such as open mic nights, and hosting bands and artists.

Currently, the licensing policy allows licensing standards officers to order a venue to cease live music on any particular night, based on a single noise complaint from the public. The volume is not electronically measured to determine if it breaches a decibel volume level. Over roughly the past year there have been 56 separate noise complaints made against 18 venues throughout the city.

A petition to amend the clause has garnered over 3,000 signatures, including the support of bar owners, musicians, and members of the general public.

On November 17, 2014, the government’s Culture and Sport Committee hosted an open forum meeting at Usher Hall. Musicians, venue owners and industry professionals were encouraged to provide their thoughts on how the council could improve live music in the city. Ways to promote live music as a key cultural aspect of Edinburgh were discussed and it was suggested that it could be beneficial to try and replicate the management system of live music of other global cities renowned for their live music scenes. However, the suggestion which prevailed above all others was simply to review the existing licensing policy.

Councillor (Cllr) Norma Austin-Hart, Vice Convenor of the Culture and Sport Committee, is responsible for the working group Music is Audible. The group is comprised of local music professionals, and councillors and officials from Edinburgh Council. A document circulated to the Music is Audible group stated the council aims “to achieve a balance between protecting residents and supporting venues”.

Following standard procedure, when a complaint is made, a Licensing Standards Officer (LSO) is dispatched to investigate the venue and evaluate the level of noise. If deemed to be too loud, the LSO asks the venue to lower the noise level. According to a document provided by the City of Edinburgh Council, “not one single business has lost its license or been closed down because of a breach to the noise condition in Edinburgh.”

In the Scotland Licensing Policy (2005), Clause 6.2 states, “where the operating plan indicates that music is to be played in a premises, the board will consider the imposition of a condition requiring amplified music from those premises to be inaudible in residential property.” According to Cllr Austin-Hart, the high volume of tenement housing in the city centre makes it difficult for music to be inaudible.

During the Edinburgh Festival Fringe during the summer, venues are given temporary licences that allow them to operate for the duration of the festival and under the condition that “all amplified music and vocals are controlled to the satisfaction of the Director of Services for Communities”, as stated in a document from the council. During the festival, there is an 11 p.m. noise restriction on amplified music, and noise may be measured by Environmental Health staff using sophisticated equipment. Noise is restricted to 65dB(A) from the facades of residential properties; however, complaints from residents still occur. In the document from the council, they note these conditions and limitations for temporary venues would not necessarily be appropriate for permanent licensed premises.

In a phone interview, Cllr Austin-Hart expressed her concern about the unsettlement in Edinburgh regarding live music. She referenced the closure of the well-known Picture House, a venue that has provided entertainment for over half a century, and the community’s opposition to commercial public bar chain Wetherspoon buying the venue. “[It] is a well-known pub that does not play any form of music”, Cllr Austin-Hart said. “[T]hey feel as if it is another blow to Edinburgh’s live music”. “[We] cannot stop Wetherspoon’s from buying this venue; we have no control over this.”

The venue has operated under different names, including the Caley Palais which hosted bands such as Queen and AC/DC. The Picture House opened in 2008.

One of the venues which has been significantly affected by the licensing laws is the Phoenix Bar, on Broughton Street. The bar’s owner, Sam Roberts, was induced to cease live music gigs in March, following a number of noise complaints against the venue. As a result, Ms Roberts was inspired to start the aforementioned petition to have Clause 6.2 of the licensing policy reviewed, in an effort to remove the ‘inaudibility’ statement that is affecting venues and the music scene.

“I think we not only encourage it, but actively support the Edinburgh music scene,” Ms Roberts says of the Phoenix Bar and other venues, “the problem is that it is a dying scene.”

When Ms Roberts purchased the venue in 2013, she continued the existing 30-year legacy established by the previous owners of hosting live acts. Representative of Edinburgh’s colourful music scene, a diverse range of genres have been hosted at the venue. Ms Roberts described the atmosphere when live music acts perform at her venue as “electric”. “The whole community comes together singing, dancing and having a party. Letting their hair down and forgetting their troubles. People go home happy after a brilliant night out. All the staff usually join in; the pub comes alive”. However licensing restrictions have seen a majority of the acts shut down due to noise complaints. “We have put on jazz, blues, rock, rockabilly, folk, celtic and pop live acts and have had to close everything down.” “Residents in Edinburgh unfortunately know that the Council policy gives them all the rights in the world, and the pubs and clubs none”, Ms Roberts clarified.

Discussing how inaudibility has affected venues and musicians alike, Ms Roberts stated many pubs have lost profit through the absence of gigs, and trying to soundproof their venue. “It has put many musicians out of work and it has had an enormous effect on earnings in the pub. […] Many clubs and bars have been forced to invest in thousands of pounds worth of soundproofing equipment which has nearly bankrupted them, only to find that even the tiniest bit of noise can still force a closure. It is a ridiculously one-sided situation.” Ms Roberts feels inaudibility is an unfair clause for venues. “I think it very clearly favours residents in Edinburgh and not business. […] Nothing is being done to support local business, and closing down all the live music venues in Edinburgh has hurt financially in so many ways. Not only do you lose money, you lose new faces, you lose the respect of the local musicians, and you begin to lose all hope in a ‘fair go’.”

With the petition holding a considerable number of signatures, Ms Roberts states she is still sceptical of any change occurring. “Over three thousand people have signed the petition and still the council is not moving. They have taken action on petitions with far fewer signatures.” Ms Roberts also added, “Right now I don’t think Edinburgh has much hope of positive change”.

Ms Roberts seems to have lost all hope for positive change in relation to Edinburgh’s music scene, and argues Glasgow is now the regional choice for live music and venues. “[E]veryone in the business knows they have to go to Glasgow for a decent scene. Glasgow City Council get behind their city.”

Ms Martina Cannon, member of local band The Mean Reds, said a regular ‘Open Mic Night’ she hosted at The Parlour on Duke Street has ceased after a number of complaints were made against the venue. “It was a shame because it had built up some momentum over the months it had been running”. She described financial loss to the venue from cancelling the event, as well as loss to her as organiser of the event.

Sneaky Pete’s music bar and club, owned by Nick Stewart, is described on its website as “open and busy every night”.”Many clubs could be defined as bars that host music, but we really are a music venue that serves drinks”, Mr Stewart says. He sees the live music scene as essential for maintaining nightlife in Edinburgh not only because of the economic benefit but more importantly because of the cultural significance. “Music is one of the important things in life. […] it’s emotionally and intellectually engaging, and it adds to the quality of life that people lead.”

Sneaky Pete’s has not been immune to the inaudibility clause. The business has spent about 20,000 pounds on multiple soundproofing fixes designed to quell complaints from neighboring residents. “The business suffered a great deal in between losing the option to do gigs for fear of complaints, and finishing the soundproofing. As I mentioned, we are a music business that serves drinks, not a bar that also has music, so when we lose shows, we lose a great deal of trade”, said Mr Stewart.

He believes there is a better way to go about handling complaints and fixing public nuisances. “The local mandatory condition requiring ‘amplified music and vocals’ to be ‘inaudible’ should be struck from all licenses. The requirement presupposes that nuisance is caused by music venues, when this may not reasonably be said to be the case. […] Nuisance is not defined in the Licensing Act nor is it defined in the Public Health Act (Scotland) 2008. However, The Consultation on Guidance to accompany the Statutory Nuisance Provisions of the Public Health etc (Scotland) Act 2008 states that ‘There are eight key issues to consider when evaluating whether a nuisance exists[…]'”.

The eight key factors are impact, locality, time, frequency, duration, convention, importance, and avoidability. Stewart believes it is these factors that should be taken into consideration by LSOs responding to complaints instead of the sole factor of “audibility”.He believes multiple steps should be taken before considering revocation of licenses. Firstly, LSOs should determine whether a venue is a nuisance based on the eight factors. Then, the venue should have the opportunity to comply by using methods such as changing the nature of their live performances (e.g. from hard rock to acoustic rock), changing their hours of operation, or soundproofing. If the venue still fails to comply, then a board can review their license with the goal of finding more ways to bring them into compliance as opposed to revoking their license.

Nick Stewart has discussed his proposal at length with Music is Audible and said he means to present his proposal to the City of Edinburgh Council.

Dr Adam Behr, a music academic and research associate at the University of Edinburgh who has conducted research on the cultural value of live music, says live music significantly contributes to the economic performance of cities. He said studies have shown revenue creation and the provision of employment are significant factors which come about as a result of live music. A 2014 report by UK Music showed the economic value generated by live music in the UK in 2013 was £789 million and provided the equivalent of 21,600 full time jobs.

As the music industry is international by nature, Behr says this complicates the way revenue is allocated, “For instance, if an American artist plays a venue owned by a British company at a gig which is promoted by a company that is part British owned but majority owned by, say, Live Nation (a major international entertainment company) — then the flow of revenues might not be as straightforward as it seems [at] first.”

Despite these complexities, Behr highlighted the broader advantages, “There are, of course, ancillary benefits, especially for big gigs […] Obviously other local businesses like bars, restaurants and carparks benefit from increased trade”, he added.

Behr criticised the idea of making music inaudible and called it “unrealistic”. He said it could limit what kind of music can be played at venues and could force vendors to spend a large amount of money on equipment that enables them to meet noise cancelling requirements. He also mentioned the consequences this has for grassroots music venues as more ‘established’ venues within the city would be the only ones able to afford these changes.

Alongside the inaudibility dispute has been the number of sites that have been closing for the past number of years. According to Dr Behr, this has brought attention to the issue of retaining live music venues in the city and has caused the council to re-evaluate its music strategy and overall cultural policy.

This month, Dr Behr said he is to work on a live music census for Edinburgh’s Council which aims to find out what types of music is played, where, and what exactly it brings to the city. This is in an effort to get the Edinburgh city council to see any opportunities it has with live music and the importance of grassroots venues. The census is similar to one conducted in Victoria, Australia in 2012 on the extent of live music in the state and its economic benefit.

As for the solution to the inaudibility clause, Behr says the initial step is dialogue, and this has already begun. “Having forum discussion, though, is a start — and an improvement”, he said. “There won’t be an overnight solution, but work is ongoing to try to find one that can stick in the long term.”

Beverley Whitrick, Strategic Director of Music Venue Trust, said she is unable to comment on her work with the City of Edinburgh Council or on potential changes to the inaudibility clause in the Licensing Policy. However, she says, “I have been asked to assess the situation and make recommendations in September”.

According to The Scotsman, the Council is working toward helping Edinburgh’s cultural and entertainment scene. Deputy Council Leader Sandy Howat said views of the entertainment industry needs to change and the Council will no longer consider the scene as a “sideline”.

Senior members of the Council, The Scotsman reported, aim to review the planning of the city to make culture more of a priority. Howat said, “If you’re trying to harness a living community and are creating facilities for people living, working and playing then culture should form part of that.”

The review of the inaudibility clause in the Licensing Policy is set to be reviewed near the end of 2016 but the concept of bringing it forward to this year is still under discussion.

Five hundred cattle die of neglect on West Australia property

Thursday, February 17, 2005 RSPCA inspectors found about 500 cattle dead on a remote station in Western Australia. Water is being trucked in to care for another 2500 cattle on Windidda station, east of Wilun, which is leased to an Aboriginal corporation.

State Agriculture Minister Kim Chance says the propery was found abandoned and only two of the property’s 13 watering stations were working.

“The lease is owned by an aboriginal corporation (but) the precise of identity of the corporation is somewhat obscure,” Mr Chance said.

WA RSPCA spokesperson Kelly Oversby said they made the shocking discovery after an anonymous tip-off.

“Experienced inspectors have told us it is the worst case of animal cruelty they have ever seen,” Ms Overby said.

“As well as the cattle, brumbies, camels, dogs and kangaroos have all perished.”

Commonwealth Bank of Australia CEO apologies for financial planning scandal

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Ian Narev, the CEO of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, this morning “unreservedly” apologised to clients who lost money in a scandal involving the bank’s financial planning services arm.

Last week, a Senate enquiry found financial advisers from the Commonwealth Bank had made high-risk investments of clients’ money without the clients’ permission, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars lost. The Senate enquiry called for a Royal Commission into the bank, and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

Mr Narev stated the bank’s performance in providing financial advice was “unacceptable”, and the bank was launching a scheme to compensate clients who lost money due to the planners’ actions.

In a statement Mr Narev said, “Poor advice provided by some of our advisers between 2003 and 2012 caused financial loss and distress and I am truly sorry for that. […] There have been changes in management, structure and culture. We have also invested in new systems, implemented new processes, enhanced adviser supervision and improved training.”

An investigation by Fairfax Media instigated the Senate inquiry into the Commonwealth Bank’s financial planning division and ASIC.

Whistleblower Jeff Morris, who reported the misconduct of the bank to ASIC six years ago, said in an article for The Sydney Morning Herald that neither the bank nor ASIC should be in control of the compensation program.

Queensland prisoners put to work manufacturing water tanks

Monday, April 30, 2007

Prisoners in the Australian state of Queensland have been put to work manufacturing rainwater tanks to help meet a shortfall in supply.

The southeast corner of Queensland, which is currently undergoing one of its worst droughts on record, is experiencing a boom in the rainwater tank industry. Households, encouraged by subsidies introduced by the Beattie government, have enthusiastically begun installing rainwater tanks as well as other water-saving devices. These subsidies have led to a shortfall in supply however, with some households waiting months for tanks to be installed.

The new initiative, announced by Premier Peter Beattie as well as Corrective Services minister Judy Spence will see prisoners at Woodford Correctional Centre, Australia’s largest gaol, constructing tanks for AU$4 per day. Spence has pledged not to use the cheap labour to undercut existing tank suppliers. Beattie also pointed out that the programme would give prisoners constructing the tanks valuable work skills for when their sentences are completed. If the programme is successful, it may be extended to other gaols around the state.

The Beattie government has been increasingly criticised over recent months for its failure to handle the water crisis engulfing Southeast Queensland. Opponents accuse the Government of a lack of planning foresight with regards to water supply for the booming area, which includes state capital Brisbane, as well as other cities such as Ipswich, Toowoomba and Gold Coast.

First free Iraqi election begins; insurgents strike

Sunday, January 30, 2005

IRAQ –The first free elections in over 50 years have begun in Iraq, via proportional representation, to choose members for a 275-strong assembly that will then draw up a constitution.

Interim President Ghazi Al-Yawar was among the first to cast a ballot.

However violence has already begun to overshadow the event, both inside Iraq and abroad, with a suicide bomber blowing himself up close to a polling place in western Baghdad, and a riot and bomb scare in Sydney, Australia.

According to police reports four people were killed and at least nine injured in the Baghdad bombing. A total of at least 36 people have so far been killed in Iraq today in various suicide bombing since the opening of the polls.

As well as suicide bombings, insurgents have used mortars to attack the people. In southern Baghdad they killed at least two people, and in Hilla one person was killed. Mortar rounds have also been fired on other cities, including Mosul and Baquba.

28,000 polling booths in 5,578 stations opened at 7 am (local time), closely guarded by both coalition troops and Iraqi security forces. Turn out has so far been described as “sporadic”, with queues in Shia areas but few people voting in Sunni areas.

“Thank God, thank God.” said the Interim President, “Blessed are the Iraqi elections. We greet all Iraqi people and urge them not to give up their rights, to vote for Iraq, elect Iraq and not to give up on Iraq”

“Deep in my heart, I feel that Iraqis deserve free elections,” he went on, “This will be our first step towards joining the free world and being a democracy that Iraqis will be proud of.”

Wikinews interviews Australian blind Paralympic skier Melissa Perrine

Monday, December 10, 2012

Vail, Colorado, United States — Yesterday, Wikinews sat down with Australian blind Paralympic skier Melissa Perrine who was participating in a national team training camp in Vail, Colorado.

((Wikinews)) This is Melissa Perrine. And are you like Jess Gallagher and just here training and not competing?

Melissa Perrine: I’m not competing right now.

((WN)) And you competed in 2010 in Vancouver?

MP: I did. Yeah.

((WN)) And who was your guide?

MP: Andy Bor.

((WN)) Why a male guide? He’s got to have different skis, and he can’t turn exactly the same way.

MP: I think that with me it was just that Andy was the fittest person that was with the team when I came along. He used to be an assistant coach with the team before I started with him.

((WN)) And you guys have a good relationship?

MP: Yeah!

((WN)) Like a husband and wife relationship without the sex?

MP: No, not at all. (laughs) Older brother maybe. Good relationship though. We get along really well.

((WN)) So have you ever lost communications on the course in an embarrassing moment?

MP: We ski courses without communications. (unintelligible)

((WN)) You’re a B3 then?

MP: I’m a B2.

((WN)) So you can see even less than Jessica Gallagher.

MP: Yes.

((WN)) How do you ski down a course when you can’t even see it?

MP: Andy!

((WN)) You just said you had no communications!

MP: Oh, I just have to be a lot closer to him.

((WN)) So if he’s close enough you can overcome that issue?

MP: Yeah.

((WN)) Why are you doing skiing?

MP: Why? I enjoy it.

((WN)) You enjoy going fast?

MP: I love going fast. I like the challenge of it.

((WN)) Even though you can’t see how fast you’re going.

MP: Oh yes. It’s really good. It’s enjoyable. It’s a challenge. I love the sport, I love the atmosphere.

((WN)) I’ve asked the standing skiers, who’s the craziest Paralympic skiers? Is it the ones who are on the sit skis, the blind ones or the ones missing limbs?

MP: I probably think it’s the sit skiers who are a bit nuts. I think we all think the other categories are a bit mental. I wouldn’t jump on a sit ski and go down the course. Or put the blindfold on and do the same thing.

((WN)) B1 with the black goggles. Is your eye sight degenerative?

MP: No, I’m pretty stable.

((WN)) Not going to become a B1 any time soon?

MP: Oh God, I hope not. No, I’m pretty stable so I don’t envision getting much blinder than I am now unless something goes wrong.

((WN)) And you’re trying for Sochi?

MP: Definitely.

((WN)) And you think your chances are really good?

MP: I think I’ve got a decent chance. I just have to keep training like I have been.

((WN)) Win a medal this time?

MP: I’d like to. That’s the intention. (laughs)

((WN)) Do you like the media attention you’ve gotten? Do you wish there was more for yourself and winter sports, or of women athletes in general?

MP: I think that promoting women in sport and the winter games is more important than promoting myself. I’m quite happy to stay in the background, but if I can do something to promote the sport, or promote women in the sport, especially because we’ve got such a small amount of women competing in skiing, especially in blind skiing. I think that’s more important overall.

((WN)) Most skiers are men?

MP: There’s more men competing in skiing, far more. The standards are a bit higher with the males than with the females.

((WN)) The classification system for everyone else is functional ability, and you guys are a medical classification. Do you think you get a fair shake in terms of classification? Are you happy with the classification?

MP: I think I’m happy with it, the way it’s set out. With vision impairment I’m a B2, against other B2s. It may be the same category, but we have different disabilities, so there’s not much more they can do. I think it’s as fair as they possibly can.

((WN)) You like the point system? You’re okay with it? Competing against B1s and B3s even though you’re a B2?

MP: The factors even all that out. The way they’ve got it at the moment, I don’t have any issues with them, the blind categories.

((WN)) What was it that got you skiing in the first place?

MP: An accident, basically. Complete by chance. A friend of mine in the Department of Recreation used to run skiing camps in the South West Sydney region, and she had a spare spot at one of the camps. Knew that I was vision impaired, and: “Do you want to come along?” “Yeah, why, not, give it a go.” This was back when I was about twelve, thirteen. I went, and I loved it. Went back again, and again, and again. And for the first five or six years I just skied for like a week a season sort of thing, like, you’re on a camp. Fell in love with the sport; my skiing and the mountain atmosphere, I love it, and then, when I finished my HSC, I decided to take myself off to Canada, and skiing Kimberley, the disabled race program that was run by the ex-Australian who coaches Steve Boba, and I’d heard about it through Disabled Winter Sports Australia. And I thought I’d spend some time in Canada, which is for skiing, and had a year off between school and uni, so… first time I ran through a race course actually. It was pretty awesome. So I went back again the next year, and Steve [Boba] recommended me to Steve [Graham], and he watched me skiing in September in the South Island, and invited me on a camp with the Australian team, and I trained for Vancouver, and I qualified, and I said “sure, why not?” And here I am!

((WN)) So you liked Vancouver?

MP: It was just an amazing experience. I came into Vancouver… I had quite a bad accident on a downhill course in Sestriere about seven weeks out from the games, and I fractured my pelvis. So, I was coming into Vancouver with an injury and I had only just recovered and was in quite a lot of pain. So it was an amazing experience and I was quite glad I did it, but wish for a different outcome.

((WN)) So you are more optimistic about Sochi then?

MP: Yes.

((WN)) One of the things about skiing is that it’s really expensive to do. How do you afford to ski given how expensive it is? And the fact that you need a guide who’s got his own expenses.

MP: I’m lucky enough to rank quite high in the world at the moment, so due to my ranking I’m awarded a certain amount of funding from the Australian Sports Commission, which covers my equipment and expenses, and the team picks up training costs and travel costs. All I’ve got to pay for is food and my own equipment, which is good, so I’ve managed to do it a budget.

((WN)) What do you do outside of skiing, because you look kind of young? And you being not like, 30 or 40?

MP: I’m 24. I’m a student still.

((WN)) Which university?

MP: University of Western Sydney. It’s my third university degree. I’ve completed two others prior to this one that I’m doing now.

((WN)) Which degree? That you’re currently pursuing.

MP: Currently, physiotherapy.

((WN)) Because of your experience with sport?

MP: Not really, except that my experience with sport certainly helped my interest and kind of fueled a direction to take in the physiotherapy field when I’m finished my degree, but more the medical side of injury, rehabilitation that got me interested in physiotherapy to begin with, burns rehabilitation and things like that.

((WN)) You view yourself a full-time student as opposed to a full-time professional skier.

MP: Not really. I’m a student when uni’s on and when uni’s finished I’m a skier. The way that the term structure is in Australia it gives me all this time to ski. The uni starts at the end of February and goes to the beginning of June, and then we’ve got a six or seven week break until beginning or mid-August, and uni starts again then, and we go up to mid way through November, and then we’ve got a break again. Skiing fits in very nicely to that.

((WN)) What’s the route for qualification to Sochi for you.

MP: Just maintaining my points. At the moment I’ve qualified. I just need to maintain my points, keep my points under, and then I qualify for the Australian team.

((WN)) So there’s a chance they could say no?

MP: If I’m skiing really badly. An injury.

((WN)) Or if you’re like those Australian swimmers who had the guns…

MP: I’ve no sign of picking up a gun any time soon. Giving a blind girl a gun is not a good idea. (laughs)

((WN)) It just seemed to us that Sochi was so far away on out hand, and yet seemed to be in everybody’s mind. It’s on their program. Sixteen months away?

MP: Yes, something like that. Sixteen. I think it’s been on our mind ever since Vancouver was over and done with. Next season, that was that, it was like: “what are our goals for the next four years?” And it was, “What are our goals for the next three years and two years?” And subsequently, next season, it’s Sochi. What we need to work on, what we need to accomplish for then, to be as ready as possible.

((WN)) What is your favourite event of all the skiing ones? You like the downhill because it’s fast? Or you like Giant Slalom because it’s technically challenging? Or…

MP: I prefer the speed events. The downhill; frightens me but I do love the adrenalin. I’m always keen to do a downhill. But I think Super G might just be my favourite.

((WN)) Do you do any other adrenalin junkie type stuff? Do you go bungee jumping? Jumping out of airplanes? Snowboarding?

MP: I don’t snowboard, no. I have jumped out of a plane. I thought that was fun but downhill has got more adrenalin than jumping out of a plane, I found. I do mixed martial arts and judo. That’s my other passion.

((WN)) Have you thought of qualifying for the Summer [Para]lympics in judo?

MP: As far as I know, Australia doesn’t have a judo program for the Paralympics. But, if I ever get good enough, then sure.

((WN)) They sent one.

MP: They’ve sent one, and he’s amazing. He beats up blind guys, able bodieds, quite constantly. I’ve seen video of him fight, and he’s very very good. If I ever reach that level, then sure, it’s something I’d look into it.

((WN)) Does judo help with your skiing?

MP: Yes, it increases my agility and balance, and strength, for sure.

((WN)) I want to let you get back to changing. Thank you very much.

Cleveland, Ohio clinic performs US’s first face transplant

Thursday, December 18, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scientology protest group celebrates founder’s birthday worldwide

 Correction — March 19, 2008 The next protest is scheduled for April 12, 2008. The article below states April 18 which is incorrect. 

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Internet group Anonymous today held further protests critical of the Church of Scientology.

The global protests started in Australia where several hundred protesters gathered at different locations for peaceful protests.

In a global speech, the Internet protest movement said Scientology “betrayed the trust of its members, [had] taken their money, their rights, and at times their very lives.” The protesters welcomed the public interest their protests have led to, and claimed they witnessed “an unprecedented flood of Scientologists [joining] us across the world to testify about these abuses.” The group said it would continue with monthly actions.

In a press statement from its European headquarters, Scientology accused the anonymous protesters of “hate speech and hate crimes”, alleging that security measures were necessary because of death threats and bomb threats. This also makes the Church want to “identify members” of the group it brands as “cyber-terrorists”.

Wikinews had correspondents in a number of protest locations to report on the events.

Anonymous states that the next protest is scheduled to take place on April 18, which happens to be the birthday of Suri, the daughter of Tom and Katie Cruise.

Contents

  • 1 Location reports
    • 1.1 Adelaide, Australia
    • 1.2 Atlanta, Georgia
    • 1.3 Austin, Texas
    • 1.4 Boston, Massachusetts
    • 1.5 Brussels, Belgium
    • 1.6 London, England
    • 1.7 Manchester, England
    • 1.8 New York, New York
    • 1.9 Buffalo, New York
    • 1.10 Seattle, Washington
    • 1.11 Sydney, Australia
    • 1.12 Portland, Oregon
  • 2 Related news
  • 3 Sources

Volkswagen CEO resigns after emissions scandal

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Martin Winterkorn, Volkswagen AG’s CEO, resigned yesterday after it was discovered the German motor vehicle company has been rigging emissions tests for their diesel vehicles.

The company has not announced who his successor will be, but plans to discuss the issue tomorrow. Winterkorn has said that he was “shocked” by the rigging of the emissions tests. “Above all, I am stunned that misconduct on such a scale was possible in the Volkswagen Group”, Winterkorn said in a statement issued yesterday.

This resignation came after he issued an apology on Sunday about the emissions test rigging, which involved installing a program onto the company’s diesel vehicles to manipulate test results. The program, referred to as a “defeat device”, causes the vehicles to emit less nitrogen dioxide, a pollutant contributing to smog and possibly linked to asthma, during testing.

Volkswagen’s share value has dropped by one third, The Toronto Star reported. The stock prices of France car manufacturers Citroen, Renault, and Peugeot have also dipped. The Associated Press states that this may be due to concerns other car manufacturers are also engaging in illegal acts.