Posted by: lisaparavisini | November 24, 2014

The Rose Slip: Timeless Trini classic returns in style

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This review by Easley Gibbings appeared in Trinidad’s Guardian.

Belinda Barnes’ interpretation of Douglas Archibald’s timeless 1962 play The Rose Slip would not have stood a chance against top-billed Jab Molassie across at Little Carib and The Wiz at Queen’s Hall on the weekend of November 8 and 9, had not the UTT Academy for the Performing Arts already had a growing following interested in some of the younger, brighter stars of the local stage.

Nobel laureate Derek Walcott once labelled the Archibald play “minor-key drama,” but it’s clearly more than an everyday backyard farce. The play’s pace and flavour resonated with the Central Bank audience just as easily as it would have more than 50 years ago, and its uncanny reminders of contemporary alienation and despair are pervasive.

The strength of the play has always been its brutal honesty—its unfettered portrayal of the lives of some everyday poor folks back in the late 50s, portraying a reality that has endured through the decades in popular parlance, style and tone. Little wonder The Rose Slip returns to the Caribbean stage again and again.

The young UTT thespians appeared comfortable with their roles and the dialogue flowed effortlessly. In more cases than not, comedic timing was spot on.

“She was so dead,” says one Mr Bucket, “that we had to bury her fast and have the wake after.”

There is no modern-day app for that.

Flossie (Eugenio Lemo) and Susanna (Andrea Codrington) are tenement-yard neighbours confronting the reality of poverty and official neglect.

There is as much tragedy as there are laughs. Susanna is a single parent of two in a suburb of Port-of-Spain. Flossie is her single neighbour who sometimes invites the jittery scamp and neighbour Gus (Tyler Peloi) to her bed but who also wouldn’t mind a child of her own.

In fact, when young neighbour Eva (Charissa Sealey), who is egged on by Gus to do so, decides she has had enough of job-hunting and decides to take up a lucrative position at “the club,” Flossie tries to talk her out of it and invites her to move in if she loses her flat for lack of money. Eva walks away not only from Flossie, but from a future that appears just as perilous and as hopeless as her life in a new role as a prostitute.

Then there’s Mr Bucket, masterfully played by Jovon Browne, who eventually succumbs to an unwilling bath administered by Susanna and Flossie, who use Gus as a decoy before they grab the old, smelly Mr Bucket and cart him off behind the shacks for a bath.

Near the yard, there’s a busy highway to which the neighbourhood rushes each time there is a crash—measured in intensity by the number of casualties and vehicles involved and the quality of bounty left momentarily strewn across the road before a curious, needy crowd emerges. Perhaps there’s political commentary in this. That’s for the audience to work out.

Flossie, the main character, anchors the storyline throughout. It is a difficult task for Lemo, last seen by this writer in Elspeth Duncan’s absurdist play The Perfect Place, and in Christine Menzies’ interpretation of As You Like It —however challenging the latter two roles. Hers is an exceptional talent developing well through difficult roles transcending different theatrical genres.

Celeste Fortune, in her role as Arabella, the cranky, incapacitated old mother of Susanna, also achieves some of the comedic highs of the play: plain old-fashioned slapstick and double-entendre. But that’s fine.

The play opens with a good old-time whipping administered to Abel (Levee Rodriguez) by Susanna. This is minor-key theatre. Santimanitay!

Now that the other more fashionable and grand dramatic fare is out of the way, there’s perhaps scope for an encore.

Hopefully, as well, the UTT programme makes provision for continuous mentoring beyond undergraduate study. Lemo, Fortune, Codrington, Browne, Sealey et al cannot be lost to the Caribbean stage.

People like Barnes, Menzies, Michael Cherrie, Errol Sitahal and others can advise on how extremely difficult and costly but possible it has been.

George Bovell’s column Reflections off the Water will return next week.

For the original report go to http://www.guardian.co.tt/lifestyle/2014-11-18/timeless-trini-classic-returns-style

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This article by Maggie Galehouse appeared in The Houston Chronicle.

Gabriel García Márquez’s lyrical novels brim with romance, politics and magical realism. Students and scholars from around the world will be able to “see the work behind the scenes” now that the Nobel Prize-winning author’s archives have been acquired by the Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin.

“For the study of literary art, these drafts are really outstanding,” said José Montelongo, who specializes in Latin American literature at UT. “Seeing the struggles, the parts where he’s changing his mind and crossing things out … .”

García Márquez’s archive is another huge literary “get” for the Ransom Center, known for having one of the strongest collections of 20th- and 21st-century British and American literature in the world.

The humanities research library holds 42 million manuscripts and a wealth of papers from writers including James Joyce, Washington Irving, Phyllis Wheatley, Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe and William Faulkner.

“This acquisition marks an important extension of the center’s literary holdings,” Ransom Center director Stephen Enniss said. “García Márquez has had as important an influence on the novel of the second half of the 20th century as James Joyce had on the first half.”

Written mostly in Spanish, García Márquez’s papers include original manuscripts of his well-known novels – among them “One Hundred Years of Solitude” (1967), “Chronicle of a Death Foretold” (1981), “Love in the Time of Cholera” (1985) and “Memories of My Melancholy Whores” (2004). The archive also contains drafts of the Colombian-born author’s 1982 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, correspondence and photographs taken over the course of his life, and some of his computers and Smith Corona typewriters.

The university was approached in 2013 by a representative of the family, Ennis said Monday. “García Márquez was alive then, of course, but we remained in contact with the family about trying to work out an agreement. It was important to see the archive first-hand and form a judgment about how it would be used by students and scholars.”

García Márquez died in Mexico City at age 87 in April.

In July, Enniss and Montelongo, interim Latin American bibliographer at UT’s Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection, traveled to García Márquez’s home in Mexico City to look over the author’s papers. The acquisition of the writer’s archives prompted the collaboration between the two UT facilities, Ennis said; the Benson Collection is one of the premier libraries in the world for Latin America and Latin Studies.

“His widow, Mercedes Barcha, was there,” Montelongo said. “He has two sons, one in California and the other in Paris. The one in France, Gonzalo García Barcha, received us with his mother. It was a one-day visit, but we had lunch with them and got to talk to them about Gabriel García Márquez’s life and the material we were examining.

“Márquez built a studio in the back yard at some point, so we could see where he used to write.”

The Ransom Center purchased the archive from Márquez’s estate, but will not be disclosing the price, Enniss said. The collection is in transit now and should arrive soon.

“It will take some months to catalog the collection,” Enniss said, “and if all goes well we hope to open the archive for research use in time for a public celebration of Gabriel García Márquez and his work in the fall of 2015.”

UT President Bill Powers said the university, “with expertise in both Latin America and the preservation and study of the writing process” was the natural home for the collection. “Our students, our faculty and the state of Texas will benefit from it for years to come,” Powers said.

Mexican poet and novelist Homero Aridjis said Monday it was an “ideological irony” that García Márquez’s papers would now rest on American soil. The Colombian was outspoken in his opposition to U.S. policy in Latin America.

But Aridjis said it was likely a practical decision based on money, quality of care for the collection and better accessibility.

“The University of Texas, they catalog, take good care of the archives … and make them available to researchers,” Aridjis said.

There was disappointment in Colombia, where the National Library said Monday it had been negotiating for the collection since late last year.

In addition to García Márquez, the Ransom Center is home to the papers of several other Nobel laureates, including Samuel Beckett, J.M. Coetzee, T.S. Eliot, Ernest Hemingway, Doris Lessing, George Bernard Shaw, Isaac Bashevis Singer, John Steinbeck and W.B. Yeats.

“The literary world of Márquez’s creation is so unique, so particular,” Montelongo said. “People feel connected to it in many different ways. He was known worldwide, translated into many languages.

“I studied in Canada for a couple years. I used to ask my friends – people studying science or law or business, from Japan or South Africa or Europe – what they read. It wasn’t Hemingway. It wasn’t Proust. It was Márquez they had all read and they all had an opinion and personal responses to the books. In the archive, you can see the work behind the scenes to create those great novels.”

For the original report go to http://www.houstonchronicle.com/life/books/article/UT-s-Ransom-Center-gets-literary-coup-with-5915136.php#/2

Posted by: lisaparavisini | November 23, 2014

Ian McDonald: Caribbean man

Dr Ian McDonald

This article by Kenneth Ramchand appeared in Trinidad’s Guardian. 

Dr Ian McDonald, author of the novel The Humming–Bird Tree, is to be inducted as a Distinguished Friend of Mr Biswas at a ceremony to be held at the National Library on November 28.

Distinguished Friends of Mr Biswas are elected from among West Indian artists, particularly writers, and from international scholars working on West Indian writing or any related aspect of Caribbean culture.

McDonald (born in 1933) grew up in St Augustine and received a sound education at Queen’s Royal College before taking an honours degree in history at Cambridge University. In 1955 he began a long career in the sugar industry in Guyana, holding key positions with Bookers, later GuySuCo, till 1999, after which he served as CEO of the Sugar Association of the Caribbean.

Early poems like Jaffo the Calypsonian, ‘e Four Knives of Freeman the Cane-Cutter, and The Seine–Pullers are steeped in the popular culture of Trinidad, as is The Humming-Bird Tree. This novel of childhood is at once a loving celebration of the landscape of his native island, an evocation of life and society in Trinidad from the 1930s to the 1950s, and a sad confessional depiction of how social and ethnic bias are implicated in the loss of innocence and harmony.

He became an important part of the Guyanese literary scene as poet, short-story writer, newspaper columnist, editor of Kyk-over-Al, and as chairman of Guyana Publishers Inc, publishers of the Stabroek News. He co-edited the Collected Poems of AJ Seymour, the Heinemann Book of Caribbean Poetry in English, The Bowling Was Superfine (WI cricket writing), and They Came in Ships (an anthology of Guyanese East Indian writing).
He is also a performer. McDonald played tennis for Cambridge University and captained both Guyana and West Indies in the Davis Cup. He is a passionate cricket fan and commentator, and was chosen to deliver the inaugural lecture in the Sir Frank Worrell Lecture Series at London Metropolitan University. His chosen topic was, Cricket: A Hunger in the West Indian Soul.

His syntactically uncomplicated poetry is enriched by pockets of fine description, humour and moving lyicism, and it abounds with ennobling and compassionate portraits of the people of Trinidad, Guyana, and the whole region.

The portraits include Massa Day Done, in which the Master Blaster struts onto the page: “You see how he coming in, how he shoulder relax, how he spin the bat, how he look up at the sun, how he seem to breathe deep , how he swing the bat, how he look around like a lord, how he chest expan’. You ever see the man wear helmet, tell me the bowler should wear helmet, not he.”
The poem ends with a reading of the historical and political forces driving our Viv “as if he alone could end we slavery.”

McDonald’s later poems are a little more serene than the earlier ones as they contemplate ageing, death and the ultimate value/meaning of being here. The mood may be sombre in these later poems but this is one positive man. Nearly everything he writes, early or late, celebrates life, energy, love, and the pleasures of living.

Guyana claims him and has honoured him, and T&T owns him too. But he is a Caribbean man boasting strong family connections with Antigua, Montserrat and Jamaica.

Just as intimate to him is his kinship with the great writers of our region and the world. His great-grandfather translated Ovid and wrote poems including Childe Harold in the Shades, his great-uncle published Songs of an Islander, and his grandmother launched Sunflakes and Stardust, and corresponded with two great West Indian editors and poets, AJ Seymour (Kyk-over-Al) and Frank Collymore (Bim).

Poetry is in Ian McDonald’s genes. He has been writing poems for more than 50 years. His first published one (leaving out his childhood scribblings) is Jaffo the Calypsonian (1955), which had a long run in the CXC syllabus.

McDonald’s experience, versatility, wisdom, and wide-embracing love of poems are in rich evidence in his recently published A Love of Poetry, articles selected from his writings over the last 25 years, mainly from Ian on Sunday’ his column in the Stabroek News.

For the original report go to http://www.guardian.co.tt/lifestyle/2014-11-23/ian-mcdonald-caribbean-man

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This article by Jared McCallister appeared in The New York Daily News.

Since coming to New York in the mid-1970s, photographer Gerard Gaskin has amassed an impressive portfolio including work for magazines, newspapers, record companies, photo exhibitions and his book, “Legendary: Inside the House Ballroom Scene.”

Published in 2013 for Duke University Press, the publication is an intimate look at the artistry, innovation and flair of “house balls” — nighttime shows by African-American and Latino gay and transgender men and women in New York, Washington, Philadelphia and Richmond, Va.

“I started this project and a senior project at Hunter College here in New York City under Roy DeCarava,” said Gaskin, who studied with the pioneering master photographer and expanded the college work into “Legendary.”

“Women and men become fluid, interchangeable points of departure and reference, disrupting the notion of a fixed and rigid gender and sexual self” said Gaskin of the subjects in the book.

“My images try to show a more personal and intimate beauty, pride, dignity, courage, and grace that have been painfully challenged by mainstream society. All of this happens at night in small halls in cities all over the country. These photographs show us different views of these spaces as they are reflected in the eyes of house and ball members who perform what they wish these cities could be.”

“The balls are a celebration of black and Latino urban gay life. They were born in Harlem out of a need for black and Latino gays to have a safe space to express themselves. Balls are constructed like beauty and talent pageants, the author/photographer said.

The publication won the Center for Documentary Studies /Honickman First Book Prize in Photography open to American and Canadian photographers who have never published a book-length work. Gaskin beat out 200 entrants to win the honor.

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To order from Duke University Press, send email to orders@dukeupress.edu or call (888) 651-0122 in the U.S. or (919) 688-5134 (outside the U.S.). Or visit www.gerardhgaskin.com.

For the original report go to http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/photog-book-legendary-article-1.2020659

Posted by: lisaparavisini | November 23, 2014

The 1733 Slave Revolt that Liberated an Island

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For six months the island of St. John came under the control of rebels who rose up against their owners, TeleSur reports.
In 1999 the Legislature of the U.S. Virgin Islands declared November 23 as Freedom Fighters Day, marking Sunday as the 15th anniversary of the establishment of this commemorative day. Freedom Fighters Day celebrates the 1733 St. John slave revolt, one of the earliest and longest lasting slave revolts in the Americas. A revolt that predated the Haitian Revolution by over 50 years.

After the genocide of the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean, there emerged a need for cheap labor to work the white-owned plantations. Slavery emerged as the solution to the labor deficit and by the early 18th century was well-established, with most slaves coming from western coast of the African continent, in the area now known as Ghana.

By 1733, the year of the rebellion, slaves constituted a vast majority of the population of the island of St. John, then ruled by the Danish West India and Guinea Company, with slaves greatly outnumbering the whites.

Conditions for slaves were, unsurprisingly, unbearable and in an effort to dissuade slaves from escaping, a serves of very punitive slaves codes were established, with punishments ranging from flogging to amputations and hangings. The situation of slaves on the island was exacerbated by a series of natural disasters that led to the starvation deaths of many.

A group of enslaved people who had previously held a privileged position back on the African continent and were members of the aristocracy, were brought to St. John. It was this group who conspired to organize the revolt, planning their action months in advance. And on the morning of November 23, they initiated their plan.

Approximately a dozen slaves entered the St. John fortification at Coral Bay in order to deliver wood. Inside the wood they had hidden sugar cane knives that they used to subdue and kill the soldiers stationed at the fort. The rebels then fired that canon as a signal to other slaves on the island to commence the wider revolt. Eventually a force of approximately 100 formed and moved across the island, liberating plantations and killing the white overseers.

The rebels eventually took control of the entire island, save for one plantation. Many whites fled to neighboring St. Thomas. The plantation owners enlisted the help of the English but they were unsuccessful at defeating the rebellion, though they did succeed in recapturing the fort and scattering the rebels.

Eventually the plantation owners were able to secure a 200-person strong military force from the French from the island of Martinique. Exhausted and low on supplies and ammunition, the rebels were defeated by the French forces who captured, tortured and killed most. The plantation system was re-established soon after.

Although ultimately defeated the island of St. John was effectively liberated for six months, setting an important example. It would take another 114 years for slavery to be abolished in the Danish West Indies.

For the original report go to http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/The-1733-Slave-Revolt-that-Liberated-an-Island-20141123-0018.html

Posted by: lisaparavisini | November 23, 2014

Robert Downey Jr. to star in Yucatan

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This article by Zaharia Bogdan appeared in iknowtoday.com.

Robert Downey Jr.’s production company Team Downey and Warner Bros. have approached Oscar nominated writer Terry Rossio(Pirates of the Caribbean) to pen Yucatan. But what is Yucatan? Well the story behind the story may be as enticing as the movie itself as the idea of the script comes from none other than legendary American actor Steve McQueen. The script for the modern Yucatan will be based on a 1700-page project written by the famous actor in the late 1960s. The original script was McQueen’s brainchild as it was supposed to be another film in which he would star but now it seems that Robert Downey Jr. will take over the reins.

According to Deadline, the script was found in two leather-bound trunks after Steve McQueen’s death. The plot revolves around a renegade salvage expert as he searches the Yucatan Peninsula for Mayan treasure. Think about this. Robert Downey Jr. already is Hollywood’s sweetheart thanks to his portrayal of Tony Stark aka Iron Man.Mix that up with an already great script tweaked a bit by Rossio and you could have the next Indiana Jones or Pirates of the Carribean. The project was originally an action-adventure but now it will be re-envisioned as a “mind-bending adventure story.”

Robert Downey Jr. had only praise for the Oscar nominated writer as he thinks Rossio is exactly what he’s looking for. ” To imbue a McQueen project with a sense of how he might have made it nowadays is a challenge and a thrill. Rossio is more than a great writer. He’s the perfect fit to embrace the existential nature of the project with the action, story and characters that drive Yucatan.” The project is still in development as no director is currently attached to Yucatan at the moment.Steve McQueen’s son, Chad McQueen will executive produce alongside with Lance Sloane(Act of Valor).Jon Berg and Jon Gonda from Warner Bros. will be overseeing the project. It’s not easy making a movie with a distinct atmosphere nowadays and yet there is always one that breaks the rule over and over again. If Robert Downey Jr. is involved then a fun ride we will surely get.

For the original report go to http://www.iknowtoday.com/2014/11/22/robert-downey-jr-star-yucatan/

downloadKate Williams recently published a biography of Josephine Bonaparte that Library Journal calls “not just a scholarly work, but a page-turner” and The Telegraph calls “A whirlwind tour of French history.” Ambition and Desire: The Dangerous Life of Josephine Bonaparte seems like the perfect reading material for a winter vacation.

Description: Their love was legendary, their ambition flagrant and unashamed. Napoleon Bonaparte and his wife, Josephine, came to power during one of the most turbulent periods in the history of France. The story of the Corsican soldier’s incredible rise has been well documented. Now, in this spellbinding, luminous account, Kate Williams draws back the curtain on the woman who beguiled him: her humble origins, her exorbitant appetites, and the tragic turn of events that led to her undoing.

Born Marie-Josèphe-Rose de Tascher de La Pagerie on the Caribbean island of Martinique, the woman Napoleon would later call Josephine was the ultimate survivor. She endured a loveless marriage to a French aristocrat—executed during the Reign of Terror—then barely escaped the guillotine blade herself. Her near-death experience only fueled Josephine’s ambition and heightened her determination to find a man who could finance and sustain her. Though no classic beauty, she quickly developed a reputation as one of the most desirable women on the continent.

In 1795, she met Napoleon. The attraction was mutual, immediate, and intense. Theirs was an often-tumultuous union, roiled by their pursuit of other lovers but intensely focused on power and success. Josephine was Napoleon’s perfect consort and the object of national fascination. Together they conquered Europe. Their extravagance was unprecedented, even by the standards of Versailles. But she could not produce an heir. Sexual obsession brought them together, but cold biological truth tore them apart.

Gripping in its immediacy, captivating in its detail, Ambition and Desire is a true tale of desire, heartbreak, and revolutionary turmoil, engagingly written by one of England’s most praised young historians. Kate Williams’s searing portrait of this alluring and complex woman will finally elevate Josephine Bonaparte to the historical prominence she deserves.

For purchasing information, see http://www.amazon.com/Ambition-Desire-Dangerous-Josephine-Bonaparte/dp/0345522834/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1416719819&sr=1-1&keywords=josephine+bonaparte

See review at http://thepaperbprincess.wordpress.com/2014/11/22/a-perfect-biography-ambition-and-desire-the-dangerous-life-of-josephine-bonaparte/#comment-1862

Posted by: ivetteromero | November 23, 2014

2nd Pure Grenada Nutmeg Spice Festival

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The 2nd Pure Grenada Nutmeg Spice Festival started yesterday in Grenada, “the spice island.” The 10-day festival began yesterday, November 22, and will continue until December 8, 2014. The schedule of events includes competitions, exhibitions, culinary displays, community activities, including workshops, concerts, and performances.

The highlight of the festival is a culinary competition hosted by the Grenada Hotel & Tourism Association (GHTA) on November 24, when a selection of hotels and restaurants from across the island will be challenged to create new dishes and cocktails with nutmeg and other spices as a key ingredient. They will compete for top prizes with the best creations to be served throughout the duration of the festival.

The schedule also includes the Spice Divas in Concert on November 22, which will highlight the extraordinary talent of Grenadian artists with a focus on women in concert. Also on the calendar is a photography display featuring selected works by established and up-and-coming photographers that will explore the theme of Grenada nutmeg and other spices.

[. . .] The festival is a celebration of Grenada’s long and rich history with the nutmeg since the spice arrived on the island from Indonesia in 1843. Nutmeg and spice production has become intertwined with Grenadian heritage and traditions, earning it the nickname as the ‘Isle of Spice. Today, the small Caribbean island is the world’s second largest producers of nutmeg behind Indonesia, producing superior quality nutmeg, cinnamon, cocoa, clove, bay leaf and many other products.

The nutmeg has been used over several centuries as a healing herb and is believed to be a potent remedy for numerous ailments. Folk remedies claim nutmeg has the ability to enhance a man’s virility, keep away boils, and treat broken bones and rheumatism. The spice is also popular as a natural aromatherapy ingredient, and is often used in handmade soaps and candles.

For full article, see http://www.caribbeanandco.com/pure-grenada-nutmeg-spice-festival-2014/

For full schedule, see http://www.puregrenadanutmeg.com/festival-schedule and http://www.puregrenadanutmeg.com/

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The Puerto Rican group Calle 13 (Eduardo Cabra—known on stage as Visitante—and rapper René Pérez Joglar, Residente) did it again! [See previous post Puerto Rico’s Calle 13 leads Latin Grammy nods.] They now have 21 Latin Grammy wins. As Billboard reports, Calle 13 lived up to their reputation of fearlessly taking a political stand; midway through the song, “El Aguante,” Pérez took off his jacket to reveal a black T-shirt emblazoned with the words “Ayotzinapa, 43 missing,” an allusion to the 43 students from Ayotzinapa, Mexico, who have disappeared and are presumed killed. 

Other winners were Marc Anthony (Puerto Rico), Juanes and Carlos Vives (both from Colombia), Enrique Iglesias and Paco de Lucía (both from Spain). Here are excerpts from Pan American World:

Enrique Iglesias picked up three awards including song of the year for his platinum hit, “Bailando,” while Calle 13 set a record – 21 wins – at the 2014 Latin Grammys.

“We are happy. We have 21 (Latin) Grammys and it is a dream. We never thought we would have this in our lives,” said Calle 13 vocalist Rene Perez backstage to reporters after the show. The group won best alternative song for “El Aguante” and urban music album for “Multiviral,” their fifth album but the first to be released on their own label.

The event, which took place in Las Vegas, was delayed 17 minutes due to President Barack Obama’s immigration announcement, and several celebrities praised the announcement during and after the ceremony. Iglesias, son of acclaimed singer Julio Iglesias, accepted his awards from Paris, where he was touring, and a taped performance of his hit song closed the show.

Other winners included Paco de Lucia – the iconic Mexican [sic] guitarist who died earlier this year – who won album of the year and best Flamenco album for “Canción Andaluza.” Colombian singer Juanes won best pop/rock album for “Loco De Amor,” Marc Anthony won best salsa album for “3.0,” and Carlos Vives won for best contemporary tropical song and album.

For full article, see http://panamericanworld.com/en/article/enrique-iglesias-calle-13-are-big-winners-2014-latin-grammys

Also see http://www.rollingstone.com/music/features/calle-13s-viral-maserati-smashing-evolution-20141120#ixzz3Jx1jaV6J and http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/6327510/latin-grammy-awars-latin-grammys-president-obama-immigration

Posted by: ivetteromero | November 23, 2014

Environmental bleaching impairs long-term coral reproduction

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A new study by a Florida State University biologist shows that bleaching events brought on by rising sea temperatures are having a detrimental long-term impact on coral. Bleaching — a process where high water temperatures or UV light stresses the coral to the point where it loses its symbiotic algal partner that provides the coral with color — is also affecting the long-term fertility of the coral.

Professor Don Levitan, chair of the Department of Biological Science, writes in the latest issue of Marine Ecology Progress Series that bleaching — a process where high water temperatures or UV light stresses the coral to the point where it loses its symbiotic algal partner that provides the coral with color — is also affecting the long-term fertility of the coral. “Even corals that didn’t bleach aren’t reproducing at the levels they should,” Levitan said.

Most corals reproduce by releasing sperm and eggs into the ocean during brief annual spawning events. The chance of sperm finding and fertilizing an egg depends on corals spawning in close proximity and in synchrony with each other.

In a study of the corals that build the major framework of Caribbean coral reefs, Levitan’s team found that the species living in shallower water experienced near total reproductive failure, while the species living in deeper water was about half as likely to spawn.

“The remarkable finding from this study was that the reduction in spawning persisted for three additional years, long after the corals had regained their symbiotic partners and regained their normal appearance,” Levitan said.

The worldwide decrease in coral abundance in combination with long-term reductions in spawning and reproduction following bleaching events put reef- building corals in a difficult situation. Eggs might be released, but never fertilized.

And that could have a major impact on the ecosystem at large.

Levitan’s team has been studying coral that is just off the coast of Panama since 1996. And since then, those corals have been exposed to two bleaching events. On average, it takes coral three to four years to recover from bleaching. “Even if we can fix what’s killing these corals, it’s going to be hard for coral populations to recover, because the surviving corals might not successfully produce enough offspring to repopulate reefs,” he said.

The coral in that region is critical to building reefs, a crucial part of local ecosystems. “There’s a variety of reasons why people should care about this,” Levitan said.

Coral reefs provide protection and shelter for many different species of fish. Without the reefs, certain fish are left homeless and without an area to reproduce. They also protect coastlines from large waves and flooding, a major issue in areas that are prone to tropical storms or hurricanes. [. . .]

For full article, see http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141119151559.htm

Photo from http://sites.duke.edu/biology217_01_s2011_pv24/how-does-rising-temperature-affect-coral-communities/global-threats/coral-bleaching/

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