It is a good thing for the world’s 193rd most populous country, St Vincent and the Grenadines, that it has an Honorary Consul in Warwickshire, London’s Independent reports. Here are some excerpts. Follow the link below for the complete report.

More fortuitously still, he is the eccentric and very wealthy publisher Felix Dennis, who has just brokered a deal for the tiny Caribbean nation that would be the envy of any education authority in Britain.

After rounds of negotiation – involving the bearded British media mogul, the Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Microsoft, the Taiwanese computer giant Acer, the former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his troubled successor Nicholas Maduro – each one of the 12,500 secondary school children in the island country is to be given a new laptop computer.

Mr Dennis, 66, hopes the initiative will help St Vincent and the Grenadines, which has a population similar to that of Chesterfield, to grow into a technology hub with a population trained in computer skills. “The schools in St Vincent and the Grenadines have very limited access to IT facilities at the moment, let alone each individual child,” he told The Independent. “I’m delighted that Dennis Publishing has managed to help push this deal through so that every secondary school child can have a laptop to learn with.”

The publisher’s relationship with the Caribbean nation began more than 15 years ago after he purchased Mandalay, David Bowie’s hilltop villa on the exclusive island of Mustique, which is one of the Grenadines and is a favourite holiday destination of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge.

The couple’s visit last year coincided with the island’s annual Blues Festival in which Mr Dennis, who takes part every year, performed his not-unaccomplished version of Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode”.

. . .

Each year, Dennis gives four of his best-performing UK staff a holiday at Mandalay. One of those, Julian Lloyd-Evans, Dennis Publishing’s managing director of advertising, worked on the computer project and said he hoped it would have a lasting legacy. The software partners have given the schools a five-year licence to cover the children until the end of their studies. Teachers will receive specialist training in webinars from London.

Lloyd-Evans said he thought the project could inspire other similar initiatives in other parts of the Caribbean and in other developing nations. “We all hope that St Vincent and the Grenadines becomes a fantastic testimonial for what technology can do to inspire children and a new generation. We hope that this could be the start of similar programmes in the future.”

For the original report go to http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profiles/the-millionaire-and-the-island-nation-eccentric-mogul-felix-dennis-to-buy-one-laptop-for-every-child-in-st-vincent-and-the-grenadines-9244582.html

Posted by: lisaparavisini | April 7, 2014

Cuban Cinema in New York, A 55-Year History


The Big Apple is hosting until Friday, Apr. 11, the Havana Film Festival of New York, an event that pays tribute to 55 years of film productions with the 1959 revolutionary triumph as a starting point, Prensa Latina reports.

Theater halls and centers in Manhattan, the Bronx and Queens, three of the five New York counties, are witnesses of this event since Thursday, Apr.3, of the coming and going of thousands of enthusiastic cinema lovers in the multicultural city, motivated by the opportunity to approach to the Caribbean island’s filmography.

Under the heading: “New Cuban Cinema, 55 Years of a Shared Dream,” the festival is celebrating its 15th anniversary with 24 Cuban films, documentary features, and animated films.

Led by “Conducta” (Behavior), successful film by Ernesto Daranas that opened the festival, works such as “Chamaco,” “La pelicula de Ana,” “Hacerse el sueco,” “Now,” “Historias de la Revolución,” “De cierta manera,” “En tres y dos,” “Esther en alguna parte,” “Jirafas,” “Retrato de la Habana,” and “Melaza” are on billboard.

The list also includes about 20 films from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Ecuador, the United States, Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic.


Joseph Guyler Delva (Caribbean News Now) writes that Haitian hip-hop superstar Wyclef Jean, with music legend Carlos Santana and other global stars, will perform the 2014 Soccer World Cup official anthem—“Dar um Jeito—at the closing ceremony. FIFA also selected “We Are One”—performed by Cuban-American Armando Christian Perez, better known as Pitbull (by Jennifer Lopez and Brazilian star Claudia Leitte)—as the World Cup Official song. “We Are One” will be performed during the opening ceremony on June 12, and “Dar um Jeito” (We Will Find A Way) will be performed on July 13, at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The world soccer governing body, known as FIFA, and Sony Music Entertainment announced over the weekend that the official anthem of this year’s World Cup was entitled “Dar um Jeito”, in Portuguese, meaning in English “We Will Find a Way”, featuring Wyclef Jean, Carlos Santana, Swedish top DJ/producer Avicii and Brazilian Grammy award-winning singer, Alexandre Pires.

“Despite the fact that I was born in a place where darkness at times steals the sunshine, where rain often turns to floods and children often cannot be found, I have always found a way to sing with joy….,” Wyclef Jean said after the announcement. “Dar um Jeito is dedicated to all those searching for the light… knowing that they too, shall soon find a way,” Jean added.

The World Cup will take place in Brazil from June 12 to July 13, 2014, with the participation of 32 national sides that made it to the final phase, after a series of qualifying matches in different countries around the world.

It will be for the second time the Haitian multi Grammy award-winning musician will be performing at the FIFA World Cup final, which is held every four years. Jean, alongside global Colombian-American superstar Shakira performed the Hips Don’t Lie Bamboo version at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

For full article, see http://www.caribbeannewsnow.com/headline-Haitian-hip-hop-star-Wyclef-Jean-to-perform-official-anthem-at-soccer-world-cup-final-20566.html

Photo from http://www.godermag.com/2014/03/wyclef-jean-is-broke-according-to-his-manager-via-godermag-goder/

Posted by: lisaparavisini | April 7, 2014

Some Haitian quake displaced camps growing again


Many of the camps for Haitians displaced by the 2010 earthquake are growing again, even as the overall population of people displaced by the disaster continues to fall, according to a study released Monday, the Associated Press reports.

The International Organization for Migration, a Geneva-based humanitarian group backed by 155 governments, said on Monday that 78 of the 243 remaining camps saw numbers rise.

For example, Petionville, one of the districts that make up the hilly Port-au-Prince metropolitan area, experienced a minor uptick, from 8,451 people in December to 8,498 in March.

The IOM reported that many people said they were forced to return because they couldn’t afford rents elsewhere after year-long subsidies ran out. The rent help had been backed by aid groups to help people move out of camps.

Some people said they came to camps back to rejoin family members. Others said they merely switched camps.

‘‘This phenomenon, even though always present … is lately becoming more visible,’’ the report said.

Still the total population living in such encampments continued to decline. The new report said that number is now at 137,543 people, almost 9,000 fewer than reported in January. The IOM said it peaked at 1.5 million several months after the January 2010 quake.

Haitian officials say the number of camps, too, is falling.

‘‘A whole lot of camps that are registered are being cleared out right now,’’ said Clement Belizaire, a director at the government’s office for the construction of accommodation and public buildings.

He said the need for people to return to camps would be reduced if foreign donors keep up support for rent subsidy problems.

The makeshift settlements were once ubiquitous in Port-au-Prince, covering parks, soccer fields, parking lots and even median strips. But they have become less visible because of the rental subsidies, combined with land owners kicking people off their property.

Still, the crudely constructed homes can be seen in alleyways and on the mountainsides that surround the capital region, a teeming metropolis with 10 million people.

The IOM said it doesn’t know how many people displaced by the quake live outside the camps.

For the original report go to http://www.boston.com/news/world/caribbean/2014/04/07/some-haitian-quake-displaced-camps-growing-again/abUZRfGNST5OpFH7kLQ0tN/story


US principal deputy assistant-secretary of state for the Western hemisphere, John Feeley, commended current efforts to solve the case of Jean Dominique, who was the Caribbean country’s most famous journalist and political commentator. The journalist was gunned down in April 2000. Feeley praised what he called the Haitian people’s desire for a free press, shown by the fact that 14 years after Jean Dominique’s killing, people in Haiti still remember him and wish to find the perpetrators. Here are excerpts:

At the end of last year, a Haitian investigating judge, Yvickel Dabrezil, issued a report in which he targeted nine suspects he designated as perpetrators of the killing of Dominique, including a close ally of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Mirlande Lubérisse, who is described as the crime’s mastermind. The case is now before Haiti’s Supreme Court, which has been called on to decide on the case rapidly to avoid further delay in the process that should lead to the final results of the inquiry and to the expected criminal trial.

Feeley said the commitment of the United States towards freedom of expression and a free press is “unquestioning and incredibly firm”. He highlighted the work done by the US with other governments and journalists around the world to promote and uphold press freedom and freedom of expression. Feeley, who is responsible for the daily management of US regional policy implementation and the supervision of 50 diplomatic posts in the Americas, also underlined the crucial role media and journalists play in societies around the world. “We promote and we help other countries and societies promote the free flow of information,” he said. “A press that is diverse, a press that is pluralistic is a press that does a service to the democracy of any country, and that’s our position, and we manifest it through our many programs…,” Feeley added.

The IAPA summit, which ended on Monday, gathered newspaper owners, editors, press freedom advocates from across the Americas, and guest speakers from European countries such as England and Spain, to discuss ways to strengthen efforts aimed at fighting impunity, laws and regulations restricting press freedom and freedom of expression, among other concerns.

For full article, see http://www.caribbeannewsnow.com/topstory-Washington-supports-Haiti%27s-efforts-to-solve-journalist-murder-case-20620.html

Photo of Dominique and his wife, Michele Montas, see http://www.haiti-liberte.com/index-2014.asp 


This article by Aneka Lee appeared in Trinidad’s Guardian. For the full report follow the link below.

The rhythmic beating of African drums filled the UWI Daaga auditorium, and ushered in local writers, artists, filmmakers, and academics who came to see the screening of the film Earl Lovelace—A Writer in His Place; among them poet and cultural activist Eintou Pearl Springer, filmmaker Yao Ramesar (a clip from his film Sadhu has been included in the film), novelist Merle Hodge and UWI St Augustine Deputy Principal, Professor Rhoda Reddock.

The Chibale drumming ensemble were impressive not least of all because of how young they were, and reflected perhaps one of the most important things, according to critics, about the film and Lovelace’s work—“the development of a relationship between the past and the present.”

The entrance of the guest of honour, dressed in his signature white shirt and white trousers was welcomed with thunderous applause. Lovelace, accompanied by three of his children, took the centre row.

The drumming would not be his only tribute. The Bois Academy of Trinidad and Tobago (BATT), encouraged audience participation as they sang the praises of legendary stickfighters like Joe Tamana, who led the Canboulay riots and songs like We Going Home to Africa Tonight.

A song was dedicated to Lovelace’s stickfighting character Bollo, from his novel The Dragon Can’t Dance, who had been, Rondell Benjamin, BATT co-founder explained, the inspiration for the academy which was formed to “promote music, drumology, dance and martial traditions that (are) part of the Kalinda (or stickfighting) tradition.”

Further opening speeches revealed that Lovelace’s work had been important for many and before the lights dimmed, the master of ceremonies, Dr Lovell Francis, a previous student of the film’s writer, producer and director, UWI lecturer Dr Funso Aiyejina, described Lovelace as “the writer of the Caribbean, a living legend.”

“We have to revere our artists,” Francis said, “he saw value in us (when others have said) that we are always to be the bastards of history, he says we are central, important.”

Now a UWI lecturer himself and one of the film’s post-production assistants, Francis explained that Lovelace has lived a rich and profound life, and the challenge had been—How does one live the story of an entire life in a film, especially one like Lovelace’s?

The next 55 minutes were Aiyejina’s attempt to do just that, though he had admitted earlier that the film’s focus had become “more about (Lovelace’s) writing and his family.”

One of the first images is of Lovelace holding a Kalinda stick—he is portrayed as the seminal bois man, the living dragon. Narrator Michael Cherrie reads a script that describes Lovelace as having “a deep-seated love for the people and the region,” even while “frustrated with its unrealised potential.”

Switch to Crew’s Inn 2004, Lovelace reads from his work; images of the landscape he writes about are brought into focus one by one as he reads—a crowing cock, the rain falling, the various vegetation. This is the writer in his context, an island once-populated by “the most lawless and rebellious in the Caribbean,” a place where Lovelace finds his writer’s voice among the “castaways, rebels, alienated and marginalised.”

The film glides back and forth between historical footage of Lovelace’s public appearances and interviews done by Aiyejina, with the author’s “best friend” Eddie Hernandez, his children, Che and Asha Lovelace, and wife Jean.

Speeches given by Lovelace at the Tobago Word Festival (2011), when accepting the Nalis Lifetime Literary award in 2012, the Cipriani Labour College (2013) reveal, Lovelace the cultural observer, who encourages that delinquents be seen as revolutionaries, and at turns his “post-colonial philosophical ruminations”—the body under the conditions of slavery became a universe, the limited space over which the slave had control.

Reflections by close friends and family necessarily offer the more intimate—“when Earl feteing he forgets everything else.” Lovelace is shown immersed in the culture about which he writes—cooking local dishes,“liming” with friends, enjoying the company of “his adoring female fans.”

The film fails, however, to interrogate the importance of Lovelace’s love relationships, which are alluded to, but not laid bare. Images of Lovelace in a woman’s embrace occur frequently throughout the film but Jean Lovelace’s unfaded memories of the first time she saw her husband and the decision they took to transgress racial lines and be married, is the only testament of what it is like to love Lovelace, the audience will be privy too.

The archival footage and the more recently shot interviews meld into one, creating an overall effect of something historical though it may greater reflect “the budgetary constraints,” Aiyejina explains the film was made under.

United in the view that the film’s importance outweighed any of its flaws, no one wanted to criticise it on record. Lovelace said: “I have been writing about others my entire life, it was good to see what others have thought of me…I couldn’t not like it. It was all important.”

For the original report go to http://guardian.co.tt/lifestyle/2014-04-07/lovelace-documentary-explores-artistic-influences-writer-his-place


Marc Anthony, Prince Royce and Franco de Vita join the star-studded list of performers at the 2014 Billboard Latin Music Awards, presented by State Farm on April 24.

The Latin triumvirate join previously announced performers Laura Pausini, Ricky Martin, David Bisbal, Juanes, Luis Fonsi, La Arrolladora Banda El Limon De Rene Camacho, Banda El Recodo De Cruz Lizárraga and 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, Andrea Bocelli.

The Billboard Latin Music Awards, the longest-running and most prestigious Latin music awards show, will be broadcast live on Telemundo, Thursday, April 24 at 7pm/6c from the BankUnited Center at the University of Miami.

The biggest-selling salsa artist of all time, Anthony has reached the No. 1 spot on the Tropical Airplay chart 23 times, and has eight No. 1s on the Top Latin Albums chart. The 15-time finalist last year chose the Billboard Latin Music Awards stage for the worldwide premiere of “Vivir Mi Vida,” which spent 17 weeks at the top of the Hot Latin Songs chart and became his eighth No.1 hit.

Bachata singer, songwriter and record producer Prince Royce is a 16-time finalist this year with multiple songs and albums. The returning coach on the second season of Telemundo’s “La Voz Kids” has four No. 1s on the Billboard Hot Latin Songs chart. “Darte Un Beso,” from his latest album “Soy El Mismo,” spent 14 weeks at the top, and the album became his third No. 1 on the Top Latin Albums chart.

The complete list of finalists, plus exclusive content on this year’s event, can be found at Telemundo.com/PremiosBillboard.


Posted by: lisaparavisini | April 6, 2014

Wynwood gallerist Castillo taking his art shows to Miami Beach


A decade ago, David Castillo inaugurated his gallery in Wynwood, on Northwest Second Avenue and 23rd Street, becoming one of the anchors that would make this corner of the neighborhood the epi-center of a homegrown art scene. Next fall, Castillo will depart Wynwood to open a new gallery on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach, starting another decade that, like Miami itself, has morphed into a different metaphorical place and time than just a few years ago, Ann Tschida reports for The Miami Herald. Here’s an excerpt from her report, which can be accessed through the link below.

Sitting in his refurbished Wynwood warehouse-turned-gallery, Castillo reflects on the transformation of his own practice and of Wynwood as he readies for a group show for April that will be the second to last in this space. His move is not an indictment on this neighborhood, he stresses, but part and parcel of a process that happens in every art community the world over.

Emerging artists and galleries need certain elements that a nascent community, like Wynwood circa 2005, could provide and nurture — cheap rents, exposure through art walks like Second Saturdays, a density of artistic outlets that create a hip atmosphere. But situations shift and with that comes a changing of the guard. (Leading gallerist Fred Snitzer will also transplant his gallery from Wynwood to downtown).

. . .

Fast forward to 2014: Wynwood has become a multi-faceted destination, which with luck will give it long-standing and deeper roots. Castillo in a sense also has deeper roots, now representing national established artists, mixed in with his current locals.

Consider the group show Metabolic Bodies, which runs through May 10. Two new names that Castillo now represents will be unveiled here: Sanford Biggers and Lyle Ashton Harris. New York-based Biggers is fresh off a solo outing at Mass MoCA and has been exhibited in the Tate Modern, the Whitney and the Studio Museum in Harlem, among other institutions. Like most of Castillo’s artists, Biggers crosses many lines in his art-making, incorporating video, installation, drawing and performance in his conceptual expressions, often digging into issues of Afro-identities in the 21st century. Hip hop, Eastern religions and the African-American tradition of quilt-making inform his work, often all in one piece or installation. His Quilt 16 represents him in this show.

. . .

Also in this selected group show is work by Quisqueya Henriquez, who has been with Castillo gallery from the beginning. Born in Havana and now based in Dominican Republic, Henriquez shares similarities with all of Castillo’s artists, past and present, as she focuses on personal, gender and historical identities. For Carmen Herrera Inside Popova, a digital print and collage, she literally implants an image of Minimalist Cuban painter Herrera onto a geometric design of Russian avant-gardist Lyubov Popova.

While Castillo feels this is the right time to move into new territory, some basics remain constant, he says, as is intentionally underlined in this group show. “From the beginning I wanted to show artists who explored identity,” especially through a sculptural aesthetic and the various manifestations of that form today.

. . .

“Everyone still fulfills a long-term vision,” says Castillo, whether they are emerging artists or well into a career. “There is a common denominator in the conversation that we are all having with the art. A dialogue. I don’t have a set number on how many or how few artists should be with the gallery. If their vision makes sense and fits with the gallery artists, then we can have a relationship.” Still, his artist list is significantly larger now than a decade ago, compared to 10 years ago, numbering 18 when it once was a mere handful.

The groupings of artists represented in his gallery throughout the years has risen organically, he says. The mixture of black, white and Hispanic, gay and straight, male and female is also not on a “quota” system. “I didn’t pick this person because, ‘she’s a woman,’ or ‘he’s African American.’ I picked them because I knew they would work well with my [conceptual] vision, and they wanted to work with me.”

As for the new Lincoln Road location, on the 400 block in the same building where FIU has its architectural annex, it’s a dream spot. “This is where I wanted to be. It will be similar size but in the heart of the Beach. I love it there.”

. . .

Many on Castillo’s roster are familiar faces about town separate from the gallery space. Guerrier will have a solo show at PAMM next fall, while Ashton Harris, Biggers, Henriquez, Susan Lee-Chun and Xaviera Simmons are currently displayed in the inaugural groups shows at the museum. The TM Sisters are featured this year at the Girls Club in Fort Lauderdale. And all 18 — including Francie Bishop Good, Luis Gispert and Shinique Smith — will reveal new works when Castillo opens up his doors on Lincoln Road come September.

For the original report go to http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/04/05/4042187/wynwood-gallerist-castillo-taking.html#storylink=cpy

Posted by: lisaparavisini | April 6, 2014

Shooter and victim of Fort Hood attack were Puerto Rico natives


Each of them had deployed overseas and survived, only to be killed on home soil, Teresa Woodard reports for CNBC Charlotte. FOllow the ink below for original reports and video report.

Danny Ferguson was 39 and from Florida. He’d been in the army since 1993.

Carlos Lazaney-Rodriguez was 38 and from Puerto Rico. He joined in 1995.

Timothy Owens of Effingham, Illinois, was 37. He joined in 2004.

They had all served in Kuwait and Iraq. Ferguson had also been to Afghanistan.

Wednesday, one of their comrades, 34-year-old Ivan Lopez, himself a native of Puerto Rico, shot and killed them after an argument with members of his own unit. Lopez had been diagnosed with anxiety and depression.

“His underlying medical conditions are not a direct precipitating factor,” said Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, the commanding general at Fort Hood. “We believe the immediate precipitating factor was more likely an escalating argument in his unit area.”

Milley and Chris Grey, spokesman for the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command, would not confirm what the argument was about, but did confirm some of the soldiers he argued with were shot.

Sixteen soldiers were injured. As of Friday afternoon, 10 had been discharged from hospitals and returned to duty. Three were still getting treatment at Darnell Army Hospital on post, and three remained at Scott & White Memorial Hospital in Temple.

One of the soldiers wrote a note, which Sen. John Cornyn tweeted. It read, “Sir how’s everyone doing? Let everyone know I’m doing good and we’ll all get through this as a family/team.”

Milley said he had visited with each victim.

“They’re all strong, each of them is resilient. Their families are resilient,” he said.

And he said many performed admirably in the crisis situation.

“There are several cases of soldiers’ performance that clearly indicate heroic action, in my view,” Milley said. “One was a chaplain, looks to me as if he probably saved some lives and suffered some injuries in the process.

“There’s another soldier who, although wounded, had the presence of mind in a difficult situation to throw another soldier into a room, close the door, and he dialed 911,” he continued.

The investigation is in its early stages and Grey would not reveal much, but did say the crime scene is big. It “encompasses almost a two city block area,” he said, noting there are three scenes inside buildings and three scenes outdoors. Lopez fired shots from his car as he was driving between the buildings.

Ivan Lopez’s father, Ivan Lopez, Sr., released a statement from Puerto Rico Friday. He called his son a “calm family man.” He asked for prayers for those affected and added, “My son must not have been in his right mind, he wasn’t like that.”

A memorial service on post is being planned for Wednesday.

For the original report go to http://www.wcnc.com/news/crime/254090661.html

Posted by: lisaparavisini | April 6, 2014

Sunday Species Snapshot: Puerto Rican Parrot


The only native parrot species still living in the U.S., these birds nearly went extinct in the second half of the twentieth century, John R. Paltt reports in this article for Scientific American. By 1975, only 13 parrots remained. Intense conservation efforts over the past few decades have helped to turn that around, but the species still has a long way to go. Follow the link below for a video accompanying the report.

Species name: The Puerto Rican Amazon (Amazona vittata), a.k.a, the Puerto Rican parrot. In Spanish, the bird is known as the iguaca.

Where found: Once present through most of Puerto Rico and its nearby islands, the parrot can now be found in only a small portion of Puerto Rico’s main island.

IUCN Red List status: Critically endangered. About 400 of the birds live in captivity and, as of last year, more than 100 have been released into the wild, where they are carefully tracked and monitored.

Major threat: The species was nearly wiped out by agricultural development and roads, as well as collection for the pet trade. Luckily today’s birds are relatively safe since most of these birds live in captivity. The wild parrots still face the threat of an invasive bird called the pearly-eyed thrasher (Margarops fuscatus), as well as invasive rats and mongooses.

Notable conservation programs: The Puerto Rican Parrot Recovery Program, a joint effort between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources and the U.S. Geological Survey. In addition the Puerto Rican Parrot Genome Project aims to sequence the birds’ genome, something that could aid in its conservation since all of the current birds are descended from such a small population.

Multimedia: Click on the link below for the original report and to watch a video of a Puerto Rican parrot having a grand old time taking a shower:




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