Posted by: lisaparavisini | April 25, 2015

Kermit Not Happy on Discovery of its look-alike

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So now we know that we have a Kermit like frog in real. It is found in the Costa Rican rainforest, Muhammad Ashan reports for Biotech Wired. Brian Kubicki has been studying amphibians in Costa Rica for around 17 years. He dedicated thousands of hours to fieldwork in the country’s tropical rainforests but he didnt expect that he would discover a celebrity frog in the process.

“The advertisement call that the males of this species produce are very unique, no other known species of frog has a similar call, and this was indeed one of the traits that we used for the justification of it being a completely new species,” he said. “it could have played a role in its going undetected prior.”

The frog was found in poorly studied sites that has usually irregular activity. It made very difficult to find it earlier as researchers always missed it on the nights they went on looking.

“This new species was described from six specimens collected at three different sites along the Caribbean slopes of Costa Rica between 400 to 900 meters above sea level,” officials at the research center recently wrote in a press release.

“Being green is easy compared to being transparent. I thought that I blended in with so many other ordinary things. And that people tended to pass me over ’cause I wasn’t standing out like flashy sparkles in the water or stars in the sky. But when you’re transparent, folks really look right through you. It’s almost like you’re invisible …. which might come in handy around Miss Piggy. I take it back. I want to be transparent.” Kermit said.

Kermit was no doubt jealous with the frog that it has translucent skin that allows its viewers to have a look inside.

“She’s jealous,” Kermit said. “Not about me being involved with another frog, she’s just jealous that this new frog is getting more publicity than her.”

Here’s a video with the man who discovered the IRL Kermit species, who stupidly thinks we care about the eco-system of Costa Rica more than animals that look like Muppets.

For the original report go to http://www.biotechwired.com/science/kermit-not-happy-on-discovery-of-its-look-alike/17651/

See our earlier post: New species of amphibian in Costa Rica

Posted by: lisaparavisini | April 25, 2015

Caribbean legend’s tale is exposed in Islington exhibition

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Life and times of cultural and political icon John La Rose told at Islington Museum, Jon Dean of the Islington Gazette reports.

An exhibition into the life of a revolutionary Caribbean figure opens next month.

The Dream to Change the World, about the exploits of John La Rose, begins at Islington Museum, in St John Street, Finsbury on May 22.

Mr La Rose, who lived from 1927 to 2006, was a cultural and political figure – an essayist, film maker, poet and trade unionist – who belonged to a Caribbean tradition of radical and revolutionary activism. He touched the lives of many people around the world.

The exhibition covers in particular the period following Mr La Rose’s arrival in north London in 1961 to his death in 2006. It provides information on the campaigns and organisations he was involved in both in the UK and abroad, including the George Padmore Institute, New Beacon Book and the New Cross Massacre Campaign and includes photographs, leaflets, posters, letters, recordings, film clipsand more. For information, call 020 7272 4889 or email info@georgepadmoreinstitute.org

For the original report go to http://www.islingtongazette.co.uk/news/heritage/caribbean_legend_s_tale_is_exposed_in_islington_exhibition_1_4048097

Posted by: lisaparavisini | April 25, 2015

Learn More About Operation Jairo in Costa Rica

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The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society recently announced Operation Jairo, a sea turtle protection campaign that will take place this summer in southeastern Florida, Honduras and Costa Rica. Among the sites to be patrolled by Sea Shepherd volunteers this season is Moin Beach in Costa Rica’s Caribbean province of Limón, the site of the tragic murder of young turtle conservationist Jairo Mora Sandoval. One of Sea Shepherd’s vessels is also named after the dearly departed Jairo.

Last season, The Costa Rica Star reported on Operation Pacuare, the first campaign conducted by a formal Sea Shepherd chapter in our country. According to the organization:

Operation Jairo will span the peak nesting or hatching months for sea turtles in all three locations, in an effort to save as many hatchlings as possible – giving the next generations of these endangered species a fighting chance at survival.

To learn more about Operation Jairo, please watch the video accessible through the link below. If you are interested in volunteering for this campaign, please visit its website.

For the original report go to http://news.co.cr/learn-more-about-operation-jairo-in-costa-rica/38421/

Posted by: lisaparavisini | April 25, 2015

Lionfish Found in Brazil is Related to Caribbean Invasives

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A lionfish with relatives in the Caribbean has been speared off the coast of Brazil, marking the furthest point south ever documented for the invasive species and raising new concerns about its range, Agence France Presse reports.
Marked by elaborate orange, brown and black stripes, lionfish are native to the Indo-Pacific but were introduced to northwest Atlantic waters in the 1980s, likely when someone along Florida’s east coast released their aquarium fish into the ocean, experts say.
Since then, lionfish have spread north as far as Massachusetts in the summer months, and have penetrated deep into the Caribbean, using their venomous spines to scare off bigger predators and eating up countless numbers of young and valuable reef fish.
Described this week in the journal PLOS ONE, this 25-centimeter (nearly 10 inch) adult lionfish, Pterois volitans, off the southeastern coast of Brazil was spotted and killed by divers in May 2014.
Its genetic analysis shows that this was not another aquarium introduction but likely a relative of the invasive fish that have made their home in the Caribbean.
“Our finding at Arraial do Cabo, a subtropical reef about 5,500 kilometers (3,400 miles) away from the Caribbean, is surprising,” said the study led by Luiz Rocha, curator of ichthyology at the California Academy of Sciences, along with experts at the Brazilian National Research Agency.
“The DNA sequences from the Brazilian lionfish matched the Caribbean individuals of Pterois volitans,” it added.
“It is our opinion that the lionfish recorded here arrived in Brazil via natural larval dispersal from the Caribbean.”
Not only can lionfish withstand long periods of starvation as well as eat their prey into extinction, they can also spread far and wide, explained Elizabeth Underwood, lionfish program coordinator at the Florida-based non-profit group REEF, which was notified of the Brazil lionfish sighting in May.
“When they reproduce, they release the eggs and sperm into the water column and they can actually float vast distances, which is why this invasion spread as quickly as it did and as far as it did,” she told AFP.
“It is pretty concerning,” added Underwood.
“It is really important to get some control programs in place over there, and also just some programs where divers are going out and looking for lionfish.”
While no other reports off Brazil have been made since, Rocha said it is urgent for Brazil to take action because its smaller populations of reef fish are particularly vulnerable to extinction.
“Brazil has a lot of fish that are unique and found only in small areas, we call them ‘small range endemics,'” Rocha said in an email to AFP.
“All of the Brazilian oceanic islands have one or more of those endemics, and the islands are very small. So if (or should I say when) lionfish get there it will be a bigger problem.”
Humans are the main predators of lionfish, which can be caught by divers with spears, or in spiny lobster traps. They rarely eat bait off fishing lines.
Lionfish are edible, and when cooked, their meat is white, flaky and sweet.

For the original report go to http://news.sudanvisiondaily.com/details.html?rsnpid=249089

Posted by: lisaparavisini | April 25, 2015

On The Rise: Monica Puig

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If her play at the Claro Open Colsanitas this week was anything to go by, it’s clear that WTA Rising Star Monica Puig is fast on the rise these days. What are her goals this year? Live Tennis Guide tells us.

At 21 years old, WTA Rising Star Monica Puig has become the face of Latin American women’s tennis, being the only player from the 26-country region to feature in the Top 100. Born in Puerto Rico – a country better known for its baseball players than for tennis stars – Puig sits at No.51 in the rankings.

Patience is the name of Puig’s game, and it shows in everything from her style of play to her social media hashtag, #PicaPower. The tag comes from the saying “picar piedras,” which is Spanish slang for working long and hard at small tasks for small rewards. That’s been the key for her 2015 season, which has seen her reach three quarterfinals but also face five first round losses.

“It’s been a really positive season compared to last year,” Puig said. “I’m trying to stay as patient as I can, and really keep my mental game very solid.”

Puig returned to the Colombian capital of Bogotá for the Claro Open Colsanitas after three years, competing not just in singles but also in doubles with her partner Mariana Duque-Mariño, a Bogotá native. She’s found success in both competitions, making the quarterfinals in each.

The Puerto Rican isn’t letting big hitters or high altitude get in her way – she plans to continue working long and hard and to use her quarterfinal run at Bogotá as a launchpad for the rest of her season. But she won’t settle for small rewards, though. While most players will only admit to thinking one match at a time, Puig isn’t shy about her goals.

“I want to win another title, obviously that’s my main goal,” Puig said. “Being seeded at the French Open is also my short term goal. And then I want to finish the year in the Top 20 of the world.

“It’s definitely a big challenge, but know that with lots of hard work I can achieve it.”

For the original report go to http://www.livetennisguide.com/2015/04/18/on-the-rise-monica-puig/

Posted by: ivetteromero | April 25, 2015

Caribbean Economies Face Peril as Coral Reefs Decline

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David Montalvo reports about the dangers of Caribbean coral reefs’ rapid decline and efforts underway to try to save them. He writes:

Swim out into the turquoise waters of the Caribbean, just beyond where the sandy sea floor gives way to massive rock formations, and a decades-long transformation has become apparent. Where a vibrant coral reef should be, there is a vast, colorless surface of almost nothingness.

Years of overfishing, boating and environmental degradation are causing coral reefs in the Caribbean—and around the world—to disappear. The erosion threatens not just fish and marine life that are supported by coral ecosystems, but a vast tourism economy that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says translates into a nearly $30 billion boost to the global economy.

The United Nations and conservation groups have sounded the alarm about the ecosystem’s failure and its ripple effects, which include the mass extinction of thousands of species of animals.

“Coral degradation is a global problem,” said Luis Solorzano, executive director at The Nature Conservancy, a nonprofit organization working in more than 35 countries and operating more than 100 marine conservation projects. “Coral reefs help protect coastlines, which include coastal communities, hotels and other investments, from storms,” Solorzano said. The stony substance secreted by millions of tiny animals minimizes the force of sea waves and helps protect an estimated 200 million people in islands and coastal states from storms and rising sea levels, according to researchers at Stanford University.

St. Martin’s conundrum

In the turquoise waters off St. Martin, just out of reach from the sandy beach, a towering elkhorn coral comes into sight. A few fish can be seen huddling around its shadow, darting into the dark at signs of danger. Private boats and Jet Skis are frequent visitors.

The vibrant scene, teeming with life, belies the fact that St. Martin’s shores are actually locked in a life or death struggle. In a study last year, Stanford scientists estimated that up to 60 percent of coral reefs around the world have been wiped out since the Industrial Revolution. There are indications that things could be getting worse in the Caribbean — recent studies show the region may have lost 80 percent of its coral reefs. Local economies, noted NOAA, “receive billions of dollars from visitors to reefs through diving tours, recreational fishing trips, hotels, restaurants, and other businesses based near reef ecosystems.”

St. Martin is a third the size of Washington, D.C., and about 200 miles east of Puerto Rico. In the 1960s, it experienced a tourism boom that created “long-term degradation” of its corals, according to a recent study by the American Museum of Natural History.

Fast forward to now, and St. Martin’s economy is so heavily reliant on tourism that the service industry makes up 84 percent of its gross domestic product, and 85 percent of the labor force is employed by the tourism industry, according to the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook. That reliance on tourism by St. Martin and other Caribbean islands, is hastening the demise of the ecosystem. If tropical reefs and other ecosystems are destroyed, the oceans could lose $1 trillion in economic value “by the end of the century,” according to a study published by Scientific American last October. For businesses that depend on tourist dollars, and for people whose income depends on those businesses, there is yet another storm gathering.

Flood insurance

In the U.S. alone, for example, there are 5.9 million flood insurance policies, with $1.3 trillion in total property exposure, according to insurance data by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. With coral reefs disappearing, the risk to coastal properties—and the sums it takes to safeguard them—is rising. Protecting coral reefs “will become even more valuable in the future, as climate change results in more severe—and in some places, more frequent—weather events like hurricanes,” said Solorzano.

Special interest groups and the need for cooperation among different nations have slowed coral conservation efforts, but in the Caribbean, for instance, that seems to be changing. The Nature Conservancy is helping to lead an initiative to triple the coverage of marine habitats by 2020 through cooperation with nearly a dozen governments in the Caribbean. Other organizations, like the Nature Foundation St. Maarten on the island of St. Martin, have started coral nurseries with the hope to return them to their natural habitat.

Coral growth, however, is a slow process. In St. Martin, for instance, where a piece of the sea was turned into a marine park about five years ago, the American Museum of Natural History study could not yet see an “appreciable increase in coral cover since the establishment of the park.” So might it be too late to save the coral?

“We are optimistic that corals are resilient and that we can help bring them back in the Caribbean and globally,” said Solorzano, who thinks supporting reef-friendly businesses and practicing responsible diving, snorkeling and boating are a few things consumers can do to help. [. . .]

For full article, see http://www.nbcnews.com/business/economy/caribbean-economies-face-peril-coral-reefs-decline-n347731

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In this article writer Oonya Kempadoo defines the Caribbean as a place with shared experiences but simultaneously contradictory: “We are one and we are specific, competing island nations at the same time. Different languages add to the feeling of distance, but this diversity and contradiction is a part of our identity also – a big part, at least for me, but I may be considered more pan-Caribbean minded than the average person.” Here she writes about the Caribbean condition and where her love of books has taken her:

For Oonya Kempadoo, growing up in a small village in Guyana was no hindrance to living among books.“My teenage friends and I opened a library in the village with the family (book) collection,” recalled the novelist, who now lives in St. George’s, Grenada. “We would spend the overdue fees on soft drinks and cake every Friday as our reward.”

It should be pointed out that the family collection was big enough to supply a small library of its own, at least partly because Kempadoo’s parents had uncommonly broad cultural interests for their surroundings. Her father, Peter Lauchmonen Kempadoo, is a novelist; the family had moved back to their native Guyana after a spell in England, where Oonya was born.

“Having so many books at home, and unorthodox parents, made us outsiders and a community centre at the same time,” she recalled of the family’s life in the ’70s. “Hearing my father’s typewriter at all hours of the night, stories and arguments at the dinner table, artists always visiting, has helped me to connect writing and reading to community and interdisciplinary connection.”

“Growing up home-schooled, with an international curriculum, I was introduced to Caribbean literature parallel to eastern and western publications,” the 49-year-old Kemapdoo said. “V.S. Naipaul’s Miguel Street, combined with John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, read while living in my village, made me appreciate the power of observation and believe I could write. Caribbeanist nostalgia, sensibilities and loyalties laid a literary foundation, but I must try to keep focused on the present and future by pushing the boundaries still.”

Kempadoo has pushed those boundaries, and extended the often-overlooked tradition of female writing from the Caribbean, via three acclaimed novels. Her semi-autobiographical 1998 debut Buxton Spice and its Tobago-set 2001 followup Tide Running were both nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, while her most recent novel, the Trinidiad-set All Decent Animals, got a huge profile boost when Karen Russell, author of the cult hit Swamplandia!, took up the Kempadoo cause in the pages of O, The Oprah Magazine. “How am I only now finding out about this writer?” Russell wrote. “It’s as if she’s inventing her own language, which is incantatory, dense and lush. The authority and blood pulse of it seduced me.”

“Trinidad chose to give me a story to write,” Kempadoo said of her chosen setting for All Decent Animals. “I spent my young adult years there and the character of the island, carnival and Port of Spain society presented a complex challenge.”

Having lived not only in Guyana and Grenada but in Trinidad, St. Lucia and Tobago, Kempadoo is perhaps better qualified than most to comment on the question of how identity plays out in a part of the world where the components making up that identity are so far-flung.

“This is what is confusing even to us,” she replied. “We are one and we are specific, competing island nations at the same time. Different languages add to the feeling of distance, but this diversity and contradiction is a part of our identity also – a big part, at least for me, but I may be considered more pan-Caribbean minded than the average person.”

A current Kempadoo project reveals that, for this book lover, old habits die hard. “I am now a co-founder of a small library and literacy centre in St George’s, in response to the closure of the National Public Library,” she said. “My father is extremely proud of this.”

For full article, see http://montrealgazette.com/entertainment/local-arts/voice-of-the-islands-oonya-kempadoo-has-a-pan-caribbean-perspective

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Julie Schwietert Collazo (The Guardian) writes that accomplished Cuban painter Juan Antonio Picasso remains relatively unknown in the international community in spite of his famous last name, but that he prefers it that way. Read excerpts here and the full article in the link below:

[. . .] American Friends of the Ludwig Foundation of Cuba, which describes itself as the “leading organization in the US fostering cultural exchange between American and Cuban artists and art professionals”, was one of the first licensed non-profits to announce a trip to Havana. The guided trip, which costs between $3,750 and $6,300 (depending on length of stay), is timed with the Havana Biennial, which opens in late May. Hosted by the organization’s president, Carole Rosenberg, the trip promises to introduce travelers to “major and emerging artists”, not only at the art fair, but also in their studios. It’s not the organization’s first trip, but given the rapid changes that have already been made to travel regulations, it is likely to be a full one.

[. . .] One artist who tourists probably won’t visit, however, is one who could stand to gain a lot from the historic policy change. His name is Juan Antonio Picasso. Yes, Picasso. And yes, he’s related to that Picasso.

The painter, who lives in Havana, has remained largely unknown to international art circles, despite gallerists, curators, and collectors scouring the island, hungry to “discover” Cuban artists. Picasso’s relative obscurity is all the more surprising given that his story, and that of his family, was made public in a 1999 documentary, “Los Picassos Negros” (“The Black Picassos”). That story began with Pablo Picasso’s maternal grandfather, Francisco Picasso Guardeño, leaving Spain in the late 1800s to pursue business opportunities in Cuba. He died on the island in 1888, but not before falling in love and having four children with an Afro-Cuban woman, Cristina Serra. Juan Antonio is one of more than 40 living descendants of that union, the Cuban branch of the Picasso family, and he is the only one who is known to make his living as an artist. The Cuban Picassos, he told me, have not developed relationships with their European cousins, despite the fact that his own father went to Spain in 2000 for the premiere of the documentary and the European branch of the family, which has its own contentious ties, was present.

untitledIn many ways, Picasso prefers the lack of attention. Quiet and reserved, he spends most of his time painting in the studio he’s set up in one of the bedrooms of his Havana apartment. His last name is part blessing, part burden; reporters who have shown up to interview him over the years have inevitably wanted to force comparisons between the two artists. He is sensitive – and often skeptical – about visitors’ motives: are they interested in him and his work, or are they only interested in his name and the novelty of a black Picasso? When I first reached out to him in 2005, he responded politely but cautiously to my interview request, writing: “I await the opportunity for you to know my work in person and to undertake new projects, always respecting my style, themes, and the media with which I have identified.”

2005 was the same year he had his first solo exhibit in Havana. Ecos Pueriles (Childish Echoes) was shown at Havana’s Yoruba Cultural Center Gallery, and even garnered a write-up in Granma, Cuba’s state newspaper. For a self-taught artist who was just 30 at the time, the show was a success, and it motivated him to refine and expand his skills and techniques through several formal apprenticeships with contemporary Cuban master painters and sculptors.

Over the years, his work – which often explores and embodies themes of Afro-Cuban history and culture – has matured, but his approach to self-promotion and branding has remained fairly static. He shows his work only in solo exhibits, not group shows, and unlike other artists and creatives around his age, Picasso hasn’t scrambled to use the internet as a lifeline to the rest of the world, despite the fact that he enjoyed consistent access to it during a year-long visit to Germany in 2014. He does not have a website, though some of his work is sold through an online gallery. He has a Facebook account, but it’s not for business purposes. He remains a somewhat difficult interviewee; his answers about his work are sometimes abrupt and frustratingly vague. This is not his intention, he says, but it instead reflects his desire to spend more time painting than talking, especially if that talk is about the other Picasso. Like many artists, he admires his famous ancestor’s work and feels inspired by it. But for Juan Antonio, it is only his art, he says, that speaks for him.

“The name of Picasso is extremely charged,” he told me during one of our meetings in Havana. “It carries a big responsibility, especially because the public is curious and it demands a lot: what does this ‘new’ Picasso have to offer?”

The answer, he says, has nothing in common with his artistic ancestor apart from their shared name. “My work is inspired by our tropical reality,” he explained, pointing to recurring images such as palm trees, “and by our [Afro-Cuban] ancestors. It’s work that has a fairly critical element.”

For full article, see http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/apr/25/juan-antonio-picasso-cuba-artist

[Photo above: Juan Antonio Picasso; photo below: Picasso’s “Se Van Los Seres” photographed by Julie Schwietert Collazo.]

Posted by: ivetteromero | April 25, 2015

Fidel Castro at Harvard: How history might have changed

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Here is a very interesting article by Graham Allison (director of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and the author of Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis). While briefly wondering what would have happened had Fidel Castro been admitted to Harvard University, the author focuses on a more important question “Would Cuba have clung so tenaciously to dictatorial communism had Washington sought to engage — instead of isolate — Castro and the Cuban people?”

FIFTY-SIX YEARS ago today, in 1959, a 32-year-old victorious revolutionary named Fidel Castro arrived at Back Bay Station to face a raucous crowd of 5,000 Bostonians. He was headed to Harvard, his last stop on a 12-day trip along the East Coast. Asked why he was speaking at Harvard, Castro explained: “That is where you find the real ‘military spirit:’ in students, not in the barracks.”

Castro’s visit aroused so much excitement that Harvard had no auditorium large enough to host his speech. So the Harvard football stadium was converted into an amphitheater.

Castro was introduced by the chief academic officer at the University, Dean McGeorge Bundy, who began by apologizing for rejecting Castro’s Harvard application 11 years earlier. (Consider how a different decision by the admissions office could have impacted history.) Castro’s 90-minute speech, delivered in broken English, ranged from celebration of his revolution to a fiery critique of imperialism. It was “very, very long, challenging the most mind-numbing of professors for inducing restlessness,” one student told The Harvard Crimson. Even so, The Boston Globe reported, his comments met with “thunderous” applause.

We look back today with ironic amusement at Castro’s Beatles-like reception here. But the fanfare raises a deeper question about US foreign policy: Would Cuba have clung so tenaciously to dictatorial communism had Washington sought to engage — instead of isolate — Castro and the Cuban people? Though counterfactuals have obvious limits, the record is instructive.

Noticeably absent from Castro’s entire American tour was any hint of admiration for, or association with, Soviet Communism. Castro vehemently denied any affiliation, telling a reporter on the DC leg of his trip: “We are against all kinds of dictators  . . . That is why we are against communism.”

But less than two years after his appearance at Harvard, Castro had become the dictator of the first and only Communist foothold in the Western hemisphere. From July to September of 1960, Castro nationalized all American holdings in Cuba and formed extensive economic and diplomatic ties with the Soviet Union. By December of 1961, he was proclaiming proudly: “I am a Marxist-Leninist, and I will be one until the last day of my life.”

In February 1961, John F. Kennedy, a Harvard graduate, took office. His presidential campaign had taken an aggressive anti-Castro posture. He named McGeorge Bundy his national security adviser. After the failure of a CIA-sponsored invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs that April, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, another Harvard graduate, helped create a covert CIA program known as Operation Mongoose, dedicated to Castro’s overthrow. In 1962, the US also imposed a full economic embargo on Cuba.

The embargo, which barred trade and travel to Cuba, has become one of Kennedy’s longest-lasting policy legacies. President after president has since declared that Castro’s communist outpost would soon fold to US pressure and be relegated to the “dust bin of history.” Yet nine presidents later, with the march of global communism a distant memory, Castro hangs on to life and his brother rules in Havana.

The social sciences rarely allow for controlled experiments, where we can test initiatives for cause and effect. But occasionally the world around us offers its own clues. Is it accidental that the two states that have persisted the longest as bastions of Stalinist authoritarianism are the two that the US has most harshly isolated and sanctioned: North Korea and Cuba?

Successful Cold War strategies suggest a better policy: one that combines containment of further expansion, on the one hand, with engagement that targets the hearts and minds of adversaries on the other. West Germany took the lead in a policy it labeled “ostpolitik,” which reached out to people on the other side of the Berlin Wall, made them aware of life in market economies and free societies, and thus undermined communism from within.

It is noteworthy that another Harvard graduate — Barack Obama, Law School, 1991 — is now moving to relieve sanctions and recognize Cuba diplomatically. Assuming this process goes forward, if history is our guide, Raul Castro may end up being the last leader of a Communist Cuba. And Harvard-educated presidents will have taken the lead not just at the creation, but also at the conclusion of this strange chapter in American history.

For full article, see https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/editorials/2015/04/24/castro-harvard-how-history-might-have-changed/KuMlaW3USkfxvTXoC5V26N/story.html

Posted by: ivetteromero | April 25, 2015

Cash Shortage Seen in Puerto Rico in 3 Months

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Sigh. I seems like I’ve been hearing about the inevitable bankruptcy and breakdown of Puerto Rico’s economic framework for years. But now, like the contractions of birthing, the bad news seems to be coming at faster and faster intervals. Now the verdict is “three months.” And what are the social responses to these fears—fight or flight. It is all very bleak and very troubling:

Three months. That is how long the Puerto Rico government has before it could run out of money, according to the island’s top finance officials.

The warning came in an unusual letter to the commonwealth’s governor and the heads of the House and Senate from the Government Development Bank, which oversees all of Puerto Rico’s debt deals. The letter, which was sent this week, was meant to underscore the need for Puerto Rico lawmakers to act quickly to address the island’s fiscal problems, officials said.

Lawmakers have been squabbling over a plan to overhaul the commonwealth’s tax system to generate sorely needed revenue. That debate has held up Puerto Rico’s plan to sell as much as $2.95 billion in bonds — a critical source of liquidity — because potential investors want to see the commonwealth’s long-term fiscal plan before agreeing to lend more money.

Without that long-term bond deal, and another shorter-term financing that Puerto Rico needs to complete this summer, the government’s liquidity could be depleted by July, David H. Chafey Jr., the chairman of the development bank, said in an interview. “For us to be able to borrow from traditional investors or hedge fund investors, they will say show me your plan and show your budget,” Mr. Chafey said.

Puerto Rico, which is struggling with more than $70 billion in debt and a sluggish economy, has increasingly relied on hedge funds to buy its debt. Even if the investors were willing to lend to Puerto Rico without a long-term fiscal plan in place, Mr. Chafey said, they could demand prohibitively high rates and onerous terms.

For original report, go to http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/24/business/dealbook/cash-shortage-seen-in-puerto-rico-in-3-months.html

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