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An obituary by Elisabetta Povoledo for The New York Times.

Jozef Wesolowski, a Polish former archbishop who would have been the first high-level cleric to stand before a Vatican tribunal on charges of child sexual abuse, was found dead early Friday, the Vatican said in a statement. He was 67.

Initial examinations carried out by Vatican officials “determined that his death occurred from natural causes,” the statement said.

Mr. Wesolowski died in his Vatican City residence, where he had lived since September, after he was placed under house arrest. He was found by one of the Franciscan friars who lived in the same house, said a Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Ciro Benedettini.

An autopsy was conducted on Friday, but the results would not be immediately available, Father Benedettini said.

Vatican prosecutors had accused Mr. Wesolowski of sexually abusing children in the Dominican Republic, where he worked from 2008 to 2013 as the Vatican’s ambassador. They said that he picked up poor boys on the waterfront, paid them for sexual acts and took pornographic photographs of them.

Already defrocked under canon law in 2014, Mr. Wesolowski was facing a prison sentence of up to eight years if found guilty.

The case of Mr. Wesolowski caused an international controversy when it became known that the Vatican, upon learning of the allegations, had spirited him out of the country before he could be investigated by local authorities, and then invoked diplomatic immunity so that he could not face trial in the Dominican Republic.

Then the Vatican decided to try him at home. His trial, which began on July 11, would have been the first case of sexual abuse argued out in a Vatican tribunal, and it became emblematic of Pope Francis’ proactive approach to dealing with the child sexual abuse accusations that have plagued the Roman Catholic Church in recent decades.

At the first hearing, which lasted less than 10 minutes, the Vatican’s chief prosecutor, Gian Piero Milano, argued that Mr. Wesolowski had caused serious psychological distress and harm to the youths, said to be ages 13 to 16.

He was also accused of having offended “Christian morality” by repeatedly logging onto pornographic sites involving minors in the Dominican Republic and Vatican City.

The trial was unexpectedly adjourned that same day because Mr. Wesolowski had been admitted to an intensive care unit in an Italian hospital for an “unexpected illness” the day before. No new date had been set for its resumption.

Francis is not the first pope to have addressed the issue of sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy, but he has drafted new rules giving prosecutors more leeway in the cases, allowing criminal charges to be applied to Vatican employees anywhere. He is the first pope to take action against senior officials accused of covering up for priests by creating a new tribunals system, that has not been used yet, that would call bishops to account.

Because of his health, Mr. Wesolowski was effectively confined to Vatican City, although he was allowed to move around the grounds freely, Father Benedettini said.

This week, the advocacy groupBishopAccountability.org raised concerns that “this loosening of restrictions raises urgent child safety concerns.” It called for Mr. Wesolowski to be “heavily guarded at all times,” otherwise “unaccompanied minors in Vatican City could be at risk,” the group said in a statement.

For the original report go to http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/29/world/europe/jozef-wesolowski-polish-ex-archbishop-accused-of-child-sexual-abuse-is-found-dead.html?emc=edit_th_20150829&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=41473240

Posted by: lisaparavisini | August 31, 2015

Lang Lang and Chucho Valdés to perform in Cuba, October 9

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Marta Sánchez reports for On Cuba.

World renowned pianists Lang Lang and Chucho Valdés will combine their talents in Havana, on October 9, in what promises to be an electrifying concert.

According to cultural communicator and event organizer Eric Latzky, the two musicians met by chance last year in Vienna, Austria.

“They were there to perform, they met briefly and played a bit of music together in private. Later they decided they wanted to put on a concert together. The show in Havana will be their first joint public performance, and I think they’re both very excited,” he said.

The New York Times described Lang Lang as the “hottest artist on the classical music planet,” while Time magazine included him on its list of the 100 most influential people in the world. One thing is for sure, if a picture is worth a thousand words, the 30 year old Lang looks like a young boy, dressed in sneakers and shiny jackets, with spiky hair.

Rocking this unique look, he plays Liszt, Mozart, Beethoven, and Rachmaninov, while his harshest critics describe him as a “phenomenal musician and extremely passionate.” Something he shares with the exceptional Cuban jazz artist, Chucho Valdés, winner of eight Grammy Awards and born in Havana, the city to which their performance is dedicated – in honor of the 500th anniversary of its founding.

“Music matters in Havana and we’re close neighbors with many shared cultural interests,” said Latzky, from the U.S., who together with other members of the event production team recently spent several days in the Cuban capital in order to familiarize themselves with the Plaza de la Catedral, where the concert will take place.

“For me personally, having visited the city on various occasions, it has always been a dream to build musical bridges. Today, in this new climate of dialogue and increasing openness, it seems like the right moment to put on a concert based on international cooperation. The Cuban Music Institute and its President, Orlando Vistel Columbié, have been outstanding compañeros, facilitating our work with the entity.”

Regarding the concert repertory, Latzky preferred to hold back on details, only revealing that the Cuban public would be enjoying local works as well.

Each artist has already put together a list of pieces they would like to play, from which U.S. conductor and violinist Marin Alsop will decide the final program. Current director of the Baltimore Symphonic Orchestra, Alsop was chosen to lead the National Symphonic Orchestra of Cuba in the Havana concert.

According to Latzky the event is a “celebratory occasion.” He also said that despite only meeting Chucho Valdés last March, he had always liked his music; a sentiment shared by co-producer, Jean-Jacques Cesbron, president of CAMI Music, New York, who has been working with the Cuban musician for many years.

In the meantime, all that remains is to wait until the beginning of October to witness the realization of this complex, but eagerly awaited, musical offering.

“We simply hope to put on a beautiful concert for the people of Cuba, in a very special space, Old Havana’s Plaza de la Catedral, with great internationally renowned artists – Marin Alsop and the National Symphonic Orchestra of Cuba, Lang Lang and Chucho Valdés – in order to celebrate the city of Havana as it approaches its 500th anniversary.”
Lang Lang has introduced classical music to audiences who have always thought the genre boring, instead gifting them with a spectacle of pure enjoyment.

For his part Chucho Valdés was inducted into the Latin Jazz Hall of Fame in Los Angeles, U.S., in 2000 and has been awarded honorary doctorates from universities in Canada, the United States and Cuba. In 2012 The New York Times hailed him asthe Dean of Latin jazz.

So, get ready Plaza de la Catedral.

For the original report go to http://oncubamagazine.com/culture/lang-lang-and-chucho-valdes-to-perform-in-cuba

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In this inspiring piece—“Generosity and the practice of art making”—Holly Bynoe (ARC Magazine) reports on Caribbean Linked III, a regional residency program and exhibition held in Aruba, organized by Ateliers ’89, The Fresh Milk Art Platform, and ARC Magazine. [See previous posts Caribbean Linked III, Aruba, Art Exhibition: CARIBBEAN LINKED III, and Artist Residency and Exhibition: CARIBBEAN LINKED II.] Here are just a few excerpts—I highly recommend reading the full report through the link below. Bynoe writes:

[. . .] In 2012, I was invited to Aruba to have a series of meetings over the course of a week with fellow art activists, curators and educators Elvis López, Annalee Davis, John Cox, Rocio Aranda Alvarado and Paco Barragan. During the initial stages of the programme, we spoke about working towards an encounter that would transform and/or combat rampant issues of mobility that we face in the region.

Scanning that memory, I think I remember the heat more than anything else, and the general infatuation that everyone must experience with one of the most fluid and dynamic languages on Earth, Papiamento. [. . .]

In 2013, and I am not quite sure how we managed, but Caribbean Linked – the residency and exhibition component – was launched, and the core directors LópezDavis and myself squeezed blood out of bone to make it happen. We hustled for funds, Skyped for endless hours to make this meeting manifest. I must admit that I was taken aback by the intensity of it and the way it engendered a kind of Caribbeanness that I very rarely feel. I dont feel it at conferences, nor at most exhibitions or art fairs or at talks. These things don’t give me shivers, they don’t send my mind racing into a panic or an understanding that I have found something real. These moments are undoubtedly few and far between.

[. . .] This active gift of generosity – not only through the practice of making art – but the constructed ecosystem around Caribbean Linked, is very new for me. It functions like a healthy space; one focused on developing a language to inform our identities and one that is critical of narrative disjuncture.

[. . .] Caribbean Linked as a Think Tank: An active collective of contemporary artists are used as a creative think tank to assess the needs of the visual art industries within their locales. As someone who is paying attention to the small growth, there is a built in assumption that this group will give testament to concerns around cultural/educational development, collaboration, innovation and exchange. I am specifically interested in how technology is affecting our sensibilities and the creation of work and how this will continue to manifest with the ubiquity of social media and advancing technologies, lending to experimentation and play with New Medias.

Caribbean Linked as a window to the future: If there is embedded value, then to who and what more can be done to ensure that our target demographic is widened and that programming can bring out more awareness and cultural change?

These questions have pervaded the space I work in, and are the root of most of the programming that is being developed and supported through my practice. The understanding of the need to have care, engagement, passion and healthy practices spill over into our everyday lives, will affect the future placement of art from the Caribbean and other geographies, and developing industries that share these affinities.

Holly Bynoe is a Vincentian visual artist and writer based in the Caribbean. She is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of ARC Magazine, and a graduate of Bard College International Center of Photography (2010) where she earned her M.F.A. in Advanced Photographic Studies. Her work has been shown regionally and internationally, and has been featured in numerous publications.

For full article, see http://arcthemagazine.com/arc/2015/08/generosity-and-the-practice-of-art-making/

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The 15th World Championships of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) were held in Beijing, China, from August 22 to 30, 2015. Led again by a stellar performance of the Jamaican national squad, the Caribbean region raised its total medal count from 15 at the previous IAAF World Championship (Moscow 2013) to 21 now. Here is an OVERVIEW prepared by Peter Jordens showing the region’s competitiveness and success.

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Deirdre Fulton (Common Dreams) writes about faith leaders in Puerto Rico and how they have been responding to austerity measures, saying that “the call goes beyond debt relief.” The leaders have said that they “call for economies to serve people, not for people to serve economies.” [Many thanks to Rod Fusco for providing this information.]

Denouncing new austerity plans and proposed “fiscal adjustments” that they say will adversely impact Puerto Rico’s poor and needy people, the island’s faith leaders on Monday called for debt relief and a resolution to the financial crisis that eschews further austerity.

With a working group restructuring plan due to be delivered to Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla on or before September 8, the letter from religious leaders (pdf) comes as the U.S. territory struggles to address crippling debt and double-digit unemployment.

Two recent reports, one commissioned by a group of hedge funds who purchased the island’s distressed debt and the other authorized by Puerto Rico’s own government, suggest new austerity plans to pay off portions of the debt—including reducing the minimum wage along with cuts to education and healthcare programs.

Citing the Biblical concept of debt relief, or Jubilee, the letter’s signatories express concern about “predatory hedge funds which seek to benefit from our distress and push our economy to the brink of collapse” while calling for full-scale debt restructuring “that invests in Puerto Rico’s people.”

“This debt crisis threatens to push more of our people into poverty and put people out of work,” stated San Juan Archbishop Roberto González Nieves, leader of Puerto Rico’s mostly Catholic population. “The religious community stands with vulnerable people and we call for the crisis to be resolved in a way that protects the poor and grows our economy.”

In resolving the financial crisis, the religious leaders call for policymakers to adhere to six principles:

1) In any solution that is reached, there should be no more austerity policies affecting people and poor families and young people who are the most vulnerable; 2) Any solution must create an investment in the Puerto Rican people and seek to grow our economy; 3) We need enough debt relief to bring our total debt back to sustainable levels; 4) We encourage all solutions that enhance Puerto Rico’s laws on budget transparency; and 5) We seek greater participation in resolving this crisis and working with the government on solutions that protect Puerto Rico’s people.

In addition to the participation of the religious sector, we call for a multi-sectorial participation in which our people are well represented. A representation that also includes the poorest because they are always the most affected.

“Puerto Rico’s religious leaders are fighting for the lives of their people,” stated Eric LeCompte, the executive director of the faith-based development coalition Jubilee USA Network. LeCompte, who visited Puerto Rico in mid-August to advise religious and political leaders on solutions to the crisis, said: “We need to get Puerto Rico’s debt back to sustainable levels and ensure that the island has a path for economic growth.” [. . .]

For full article, see http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/08/31/fighting-their-people-puerto-ricos-faith-leaders-condemn-austerity

Posted by: lisaparavisini | August 31, 2015

Usain Bolt: Greatest of all Time

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An Editorial from The Stabroek News. Our thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing it to our attention.

The world is fast running out of superlatives to describe the exploits of its fastest runner, Usain Bolt. But following his victories in the 100 metres and 200metres, at the IAAF World Champion-ships in Beijing on Sunday and yesterday respectively, one accolade should suffice: Greatest of all Time.

This title, made famous by none other than the peerless, three-time world heavyweight boxing champion, Muhammad Ali, now deservedly and easily sits on the shoulders of the magnificent Mr Bolt. His record is unprecedented in track and field history: he is the first man to win six Olympic gold medals in the 100m, 200m and the 4x100m relay, becoming the first sprinter to achieve a ‘double double’ by winning the 100m and 200m titles at consecutive Olympics (2008 and 2012) and, indeed, the first to achieve a ‘double triple’ in the Olympics, by also winning gold in the 4×100m relays; he now has 10 World Championship gold medals, including ‘double triples’ in 2009 and 2013 and a ‘double double’ now, with the 4×100m to come, two golds in 2011 in the 200m and the relay, after being disqualified for false-starting in the 100m final, not to mention two silvers from the 2007 World Championships; for good measure, he is also the world record holder in all three sprint events. And he is not yet finished with the sport.

In cricket, they like to say that form is temporary but class is permanent. Going into the Beijing World Championships, there were all sorts of concerns over Mr Bolt’s form and fitness, and doubts about his readiness for the much anticipated head-to-head clashes with the American, Justin Gatlin. In a 2015 season marred by injury and apparent sluggishness, the extraordinary Jamaican, who turned 29 last Friday, had hitherto looked merely ordinary and, indeed, vulnerable.

Mr Gatlin, on the other hand, was in the form of his life. So much so that retired Trinidadian sprint ace, the garrulous Ato Boldon, was moved to predict on Saturday night: “Gatlin is so head and shoulders above anyone else in this field in terms of execution, fitness and readiness that I find it almost comical that it’s being billed as a big showdown. Gatlin is going to put on a clinic, and everyone who makes that 100 final is invited.” Mr Boldon, to his credit, afterwards acknowledged Mr Bolt’s supremacy.

That Mr Gatlin is a two-time drugs cheat and that sections of the media had portrayed the contest with the charismatic Jamaican as a morality play of good versus evil made the duel all the more mouth-watering and the outcome all the more critical for a sport bedevilled by allegations of doping and swamped in cynicism. This aspect of the clash might have been somewhat overhyped, though, with Mr Bolt himself making it clear before the World Championships that it was not his responsibility to save the sport but rather to focus on competing.

It might have been forgotten by many, amidst the hype, that in the build-up to the London 2012 Olympics, Mr Bolt was not mentally and physically where he wanted to be. A similar situation existed this time around. Once again, as in London, paced to peak physical and mental form by his coach Glen Mills, the champion showed his class, performing when it mattered most, when the pressure was greatest.

The Jamaican phenomenon’s dramatic win in last Sunday’s 100m final silenced the doubters, dispatched Mr Gatlin’s challenge and sealed his status as the greatest sprinter of all time. The emphatic win in the 200m, simply underlined this. Another gold in tomorrow’s 4×100m relay would just be the icing on the cake.

As the English commentator Peter Matthews put it yesterday, after the 200m final, Usain Bolt is “a supreme athlete and a supreme ambassador for his sport and for his country.” Without taking anything away from the accomplishments of the sensational Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and the other world-class Caribbean athletes in Beijing, for a region desperately short of role models and heroes, we might add that, with his awesome talent, competitive instincts, winning ways, playful showmanship and respect for his sport and his fans, Usain Bolt is a supreme champion of the Caribbean people and the Caribbean spirit.

For the original report go to http://www.stabroeknews.com/2015/opinion/editorial/08/28/usain-bolt-greatest-of-all-time/

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As The National reports, Jamaica has much to celebrate in the world of sports. Jamaica finished the world championships with a bang on Sunday, storming to the women’s 4×400-metre relay title to match Kenya’s gold tally at the top of the medals table.

Anchor leg Novlene Williams-Mills pulled out a rapid last 50m to catch Francena McCorory as the Jamaicans clocked this year’s best time of 3 mins, 19.13 secs to edge out the United States on the line in Beijing.

“That’s when you have the heart of a champion,” Williams-Mills said of her pursuit of McCorory. “That’s what you do. These girls, they had it all the way.”

American Allyson Felix looked to have dug the Olympic champions out of an early hole with a blistering third leg to give McCorory a lead into the last lap, until Williams-Mills kicked coming into the home straight to win it for Jamaica. Great Britain took bronze in 3:23.62.

The Americans hit back to take the men’s 4x400m, veteran LaShawn Merritt passing Carl Lewis as his country’s most decorated male world championships athlete with 11 medals.

Kenya finished with seven golds plus six silvers and three bronzes, an overall tally which edged them ahead of Jamaica on the final standings. But their success was tempered after two of their athletes, Joyce Zakary and Koki Manunga, failed pre-competition drugs tests. Hosts China placed 11th with one gold, seven silvers and one bronze.

As heads went down once more in the American camp, Merritt flexed his muscles by anchoring the United States to a sixth consecutive victory in the men’s final.

Merritt, David Verburg, Tony McQuay and Bryshon Nellum finished in 2:57.82 to extend a remarkable winning streak dating back to Helsinki in 2005. Trinidad and Tobago claimed silver in 2:58.20, with Britain taking bronze in 2:58.51.

But despite their relay success, the US will leave China with a sense of foreboding before next year’s Rio Olympics after playing second fiddle to the Jamaicans, who won seven gold medals – three of them, inevitably, Usain Bolt’s. [. . .]

For full article, see http://www.thenational.ae/sport/other/seventh-gold-medal-for-jamaica-makes-their-womens-400m-relay-team-jump-for-joy

Posted by: ivetteromero | August 31, 2015

Is climate change pushing the Caribbean towards a health crisis?

Mosquito_w304Advira Shand (co-founder, WAGS Construction, climate activist, and ambassador for Youth for Enlightenment and Welfare) writes about climate change in the Caribbean and a looming health crisis. Here are excerpts:

I still cringe when I remember the agony I encountered when I was brought to my knees by the chikungunya virus (CHIKV) in late 2014. Almost everyone within my community in South Manchester got a taste of this vicious virus. Sure enough, nearly a year after the outbreak in Jamaica, the mere mention of the term CHIKV will inspire long harrowing and oftentimes comedic tales from individuals within my community concerning their experiences with the virus.

Incidentally, Jamaica was just one of the many Caribbean states that suffered from the crippling effects of the chikungunya virus as territories such as Antigua, Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Grenada, and St Lucia have also suffered at the hands of this virus. Sure enough, the outbreak of this virus caused the Caribbean millions of dollars.

Although the issue of CHIKV may be deemed “old news” by many, it is incumbent on Caribbean nationals to realise that climate change is currently poised to release an onslaught of viruses as severe as CHIKV and other health issues. The Caribbean region is prone to severe and frequent weather events, such as hurricanes and storms, which are all products of climate change. These unwelcome weather events will, among many other things, continue to cause increases in waterborne and food-borne diseases, expose Caribbean nationals to the risk of losing their lives, cause serious injuries to individuals, cause interruptions in health care services, promote stomach and intestinal illnesses and mental health issues (including Post-traumatic stress disorder) among individuals affected by hurricanes and storms, and ensure reductions in the availability of potable water and fresh food.

Climate change is also the main cause of droughts within the Caribbean. In 2014, according to Robert Pickersgill, Jamaica’s minister of water, land, environment and climate change, Jamaica lost 2,190 hectares of crops valued at US$953.3 million because of a widespread drought. Like Jamaica, other Caribbean territories have suffered immensely as a result of droughts and stand to reap a plethora of health-related issues arising from droughts. [. . .]

In late 2014, amidst the ‘buzzing’ of mosquitoes intent of spreading the chikungunya virus, Jamaican health care officials and Minister of Health Dr Fenton Ferguson scampered chaotically about trying to find solutions for the outbreak of the aforementioned virus. This inability among our healthcare officials to effectively contain and address the outbreak of the chikungunya virus in a timely fashion, has inspired the question: Will Jamaica, and by extension the Caribbean, be able to effectively handle future contagious diseases and natural disasters that arise from climate change? [. . .]

For full column, see http://m.jamaicaobserver.com/mobile/columns/Is-climate-change-pushing-the-Caribbean-towards-a-health-crisis-_19226556

Posted by: ivetteromero | August 31, 2015

Tropical Storm Erika: Dominica declares disaster and seeks aid

TS_Erika (1)Associated Press reports that Dominica has declared disaster, with rescue teams working around the clock to reopen roads and find more missing people. (Although only 20 have been confirmed dead, with 50 missing, social media reports a higher number of deaths.) Venezuela, Martinique and Guadeloupe have sent in equipment for the rescue operations. To help with relief funds please go to http://www.gofundme.com/JBDominicaRelief.] Here is the report:

Rescue teams worked to reopen roads to remote communities in Dominica on Sunday after tropical storm Erika caused flooding and mudslides that killed at least 20 people and left more than 50 missing on the Caribbean island. “Access by road to these communities is impossible,” said the prime minister, Roosevelt Skerrit. These towns “are cut off from the rest of the country”.

In a national address late on Saturday, Skerrit declared disaster status for nine local areas.

On Sunday the government ordered about 1000 inhabitants to evacuate from the small town of Petite-Savanne, fearing new landslides. Erika whipped the island for more than five hours on Wednesday, bringing strong winds and intense rain that provoked flooding and landslides. Hundreds of homes were destroyed.

Crews were using heavy equipment sent by the governments of Venezuela, Martinique and Guadeloupe. Hundreds of men worked on Sunday to reopen the country’s main airport, Skerrit said.

Skerrit appealed for international aid and estimated that damage from the storm could set the country’s development back two decades.

In Haiti the storm killed at least one person in a suspected landslide. Four others died when a truck hit a bus during the downpour.

For original report and video, see http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/aug/31/tropical-storm-erika-dominica-declares-disaster-status-and-appeals-for-aid

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