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November 28, 2014

Manhattanʼs \’Little Spain\’ comes to big screen, documenting Hispanic immigration in New York City

Manhattanʼs ‘Little Spain’ comes to big screen, documenting Hispanic immigration in New York City

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Friday, November 28, 2014

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Art cover of 2014 DVD edition of the film Little Spain.

The Spanish Benevolent Society announced on Tuesday a DVD edition of the film Little Spain, directed by Artur Balder, is now available on their official website. The film, which summarizes a part of Hispanic immigration in the United States displaying the history of New York City (NYC), is based upon a set of old photographs and testimonies showing a neighborhood called Little Spain in Manhattan, situated at the West End of 14th Street, in the time when it was densely populated by Spaniards and Hispanic immigrants.

File photo of 14th Street from the northeast corner of Fifth Avenue looking west. New York City.
Image: Leif Knutsen.

According to the film’s content and press release, Little Spain was populated by Spaniards, Puerto Ricans, and other Hispanic immigrants, located in south Chelsea and West Village, around the west end of 14th Street. The Spaniards tended to live in close proximity to one another; and, in many cases, in close proximity to Spanish-speakers from countries other than Spain — such as Puerto Ricans in New York.

In the film, the Spanish-American director and journalist Artur Balder traces the journey of those who left Spain and South America in search of a better life in the United States, describing the story of its most important entrance port, New York City, and the formation of the Little Spain community.

The 60 minute, feature-length, documentary looks back at the founding of La Nacional in 1868 and the uptick in migration from Spain following its loss of Cuba in 1898; continuing through to the Hispanic apex in the area, after the Spanish Civil War of 1936–1939, finally charting the community’s sharp decline in the 1970s and 1980s.

Well into the 1960s Spanish was still commonly spoken on 14th Street. The film also displays footage of the Santiago Apóstol festival, or St. James Day festival, which died out in the early 1990s as the remnants of the Hispanic community left that part of the city.

Artur Balder worked closely with New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and with the Film Society of the Lincoln Center in order to show the film in NYC. He is currently preparing two new projects: The Reality of the Imaginary, with Nobel prize-winner Mario Vargas Llosa, Cervantes literature award recipient José Manuel Caballero Bonald, and artist Joan Castejón, expected to premier at the MoMA in 2015. The second project being with Armenian–American painter Tigran Tsitoghdzyan and renowned art critic Donald Kuspit.

The film shows how Spain contributed to the vast wave of emigration of Europeans to the Americas which, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, transformed the three continents. The Spaniards were a very small proportion of US immigration compared to some of the other national or ethnic groups of immigrants that came to the United States, such as Italian, Irish, and Polish.



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Finland passes law allowing same-sex marriage

Finland passes law allowing same-sex marriage

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Friday, November 28, 2014

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Prime Minister Alexander Stubb welcomed the vote.
Image: Frankie Fouganthin.

The Parliament of Finland has voted 105 to 92 today to approve a citizen’s initiative to legalise same-sex marriage. The law now makes marriage gender-neutral and extends adoption rights and the right to use the same surname to same-sex couples.

Prime Minister Alexander Stubb supported the change to the law. Before the vote, he wrote: “Finland should strive to become a society where discrimination does not exist, human rights are respected and two adults can marry regardless of their sexual orientation.” Following the vote, Stubb said he was “sincerely happy that marriage equality, gender equality and human rights prevailed in this issue.”

Stubb also noted the citizen’s initiative process that led to the law being considered by Parliament is “important” and “a demonstration of civic activism.”

Timo Soini from the nationalist opposition Finns Party commented: “For me marriage will remain a union between a man and a woman. I will not change my position. […] This will be the first time we make it normal for children to be removed from their biological roots.” Soini suggested that if his party were to form the next government, it is unlikely they would make same-sex marriage a priority. “I would say that in government formation talks we would focus on the Finnish economy and employment. These kinds of issues would hardly be on the table,” said Soini.

Mika Niikko from the Finns Party said, “This is a question of the future of our children and the whole society, and such changes should not be made without thorough evaluation of their impact.”

Interior Minister Päivi Räsänen from the Christian Democrats Party said the vote represented a “deep question of principle” and “in the future a large group of Finns will continue to consider marriage to be a bond between a man and a woman, and that they will not consider relationships between people of the same gender to be marriages.”

In contrast, Archbishop Kari Mäkinen from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland welcomed the change: “I know how much this day means to the rainbow community, their loved ones and many others. I rejoice with my whole heart for them and with them.”

Archbishop Mäkinen had previously stated: “If the initiative is passed, no one’s marriage will lose any of its value, nor will the position of a single child be endangered. If the initiative is not passed, the recognition of and improvements in the status of sexual minorities will not stop here. Changes in attitudes have taken place and continue to take place.” The future treatment of weddings by the Evangelical Lutheran Church has not yet been determined.

Outside of the Parliament, supporters of same-sex marriage and opponents both turned up to demonstrate, although the former outnumbered the latter. Finland now becomes the 12th country in Europe to allow same-sex marriages, although the law is not going to take effect immediately. The country has had a registered partnerships law for same-sex couples since 2002.



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November 27, 2014

Australian cricketer dies after being struck in neck

Australian cricketer dies after being struck in neck

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

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Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes has died in St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney today (Thursday, local time). Hughes was playing a Sheffield Shield match for South Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground when he was struck in the neck by a bouncer.

File photo of Phillip Hughes in 2008.
Image: Whatisthefrequencykenneth.

“It is my sad duty to inform you that a short time ago Phillip Hughs passed away,” said Australian national team doctor Peter Brukner in a statement.

As the news broke, condolences came from around Australia’s sporting community.

“A sad, sad day. Absolutely devastating. Thoughts go out to Phillip Hughes’ family and friends. #RIPPhillipHughes,” Australian women’s captain Meg Lanning tweeted.

“Our thoughts are with Philip’s family and everyone affected by this tragic accident,” said Football Federation Australia CEO David Gallop.

“The West Australian Football Commission [WAFC] on behalf of football in WA extends sincere sympathies to the family and friends of Phillip Hughes,” tweeted the WAFC.

Today was meant to be the third day of the Sheffield Shield match Hughes was involved in. The entire round of matches was abandoned after the incident.



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November 26, 2014

FAA: NextGen Upgrade for Washington, D.C. metro area in place for holiday travel this week

FAA: NextGen Upgrade for Washington, D.C. metro area in place for holiday travel this week

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced on Sunday that a NextGen airspace upgrade for the Washington, D.C. metro area would be in place in time for the holiday travel week. The FAA said this will improve the efficiency of air travel in this area.

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said this upgrade highlights the difference the federal government is making in air travel. He also said this upgrade will improve on-time performance and reduce fuel consumption and emissions.

FAA administrator Michael Huerta said with the busy holiday travel season approaching, it is important to get travelers to their destination safely and on time.

The D.C. metroplex now includes three Optimized Profile Descents (OPDs) that allow aircraft to descend smoothly to the airport, as opposed to a staircase-style decent. This reduces fuel burn during decent because every time an aircraft levels off, it needs to burn more fuel for each step in the descent. The FAA said it will benefit three major airports in the area: Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), Dulles International Airport (IAD), and Baltimore–Washington International Airport (BWI).

In a video describing the OPDs in D.C., Brian Townsend, a tech pilot and captain for American Airlines, said this gliding down approach will be more environmentally friendly than the traditional approach.

This initiative at the D.C. metroplex involves collaboration by United, Southwest, and American Airlines and some labor unions, and is also an effort to improve efficiency for aircraft arriving and taking off from surrounding airports such as Joint Base Andrews, Richmond International Airport, and other small airports in this region.

The agency announced yesterday it has finished the work for the NextGen system in D.C. NextGen is a replacement for the ground-radar-based system that has been in operation since World War Two. They also completed a NextGen metroplex project in North Texas last week. The NextGen system is expected to cost billions of dollars to implement and the FAA funding is expected to expire in late 2015. Lawmakers, however, are holding hearings to possibly extend the funding window next year.

NASA is also conducting studies of the NextGen System. Researchers are using a brand new laboratory to test NextGen’s operations with simulated flights. They plan also to put unmanned aerial vehicles into the National Airspace System.

According to the National Weather Service, a storm system originating over the Gulf of Mexico flowing to the Northeast region of the U.S. may affect travel this week, bringing heavy snow, rain, and winds.



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November 24, 2014

Sisi: Egypt willing to send stabilizing forces to future Palestinian State

Filed under: Archived,Middle East,Palestine,Politics and conflicts — admin @ 5:00 am

Sisi: Egypt willing to send stabilizing forces to future Palestinian State

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Monday, November 24, 2014

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In an interview published yesterday in Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said when a Palestinian state is established, his country will be willing to send armed forces. These forces would be sent for an interim period, until it achieves stability and needs them no longer, and would be deployed in full coordination with Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

File photo of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in August of this year.
Image: Russian Presidential Press and Information Office.

Sisi spoke prior to his first visit to Europe since he came into office. During his visit he is to meet with Pope Francis, amongst other public figures. He said he had spoken about the subject with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

He added sending armed forces would aim to “help the local police and reassure the Israelis through our role as guarantor”. Nevertheless, he stated, “first a Palestinian state must exist where troops can be sent to”. Moreover, he does not intend to leave his forces in the Palestinian state forever, but rather “for the time necessary to reestablish confidence”.

A few months ago, Egypt proposed to train the Palestinian Authority’s forces in the Gaza Strip, notably to protect the shared border on the Palestinian side. Sisi’s government emphasized that strengthening the Palestinian government’s control of their side of Rafah border crossing, which connects the Gaza Strip with Egypt, would help it achieve its goals and regulate the opening of the border crossing.


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November 20, 2014

FAA: Metroplex NextGen project in place in north Texas

FAA: Metroplex NextGen project in place in north Texas

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced yesterday that the North Texas Metroplex NextGen project has been successfully put into place, promising more efficiency in the U.S. airspace.

According to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, this system will save fuel and reduce the emissions from aircraft, thereby benefiting the environment. The FAA said this system could reduce distances flown by one million nautical miles annually and could save tens of thousands of metric tons of carbon emissions annually.

To date, the North Texas Metroplex NextGen Project is amongst the largest in the country. A similar project has been underway in Houston since May and more projects are proposed in major cities such as Washington, D.C.; Atlanta, Georgia; and Charlotte, North Carolina. A metroplex is a large multi-airport urban area where air operations can be inefficient because of air traffic congestion and environmental concerns.

These initiatives are very expensive to put in place and the deadline to have the entire NextGen system put into place — originally to be by the year 2020 — is approaching, but FAA Administrator Michael Huerta expressed hope this Metroplex system would go into place at airports around the country.

NextGen is a system the FAA claims would allow aircraft to fly shorter routes and save millions of gallons of fuel each year and cut carbon emissions. It uses satellite-based technology as opposed to older ground-radar-based technology to allow air traffic controllers to pinpoint aircraft with greater precision and give pilots more accurate information.


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November 18, 2014

City of Edinburgh Council seek to improve local music scene

City of Edinburgh Council seek to improve local music scene

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Interior (stairwell) of Edinburgh‘s Usher Hall
Image: Brian McNeil.

Musicians gather outside the Usher Hall prior to the meeting
Image: Brian McNeil.

Attendees inside the Usher Hall
Image: Brian McNeil.

Yesterday evening saw the Usher Hall in Edinburgh host a meeting between representatives of the City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) and the local rock and pop music scene. The meeting was dominated with local musicians’ complaints over the “zero tolerance” policy Edinburgh is viewed as having adopted towards amplified music. The meeting began with the leading panel — Norma Austin Hart, vice-convener for Culture and Sport; John Stout, promoter from Regular Music; Kevin Buckle, of local store Avalanche Records; and Karl Chapman, manager of the Usher Hall — introducing themselves and outlining the purpose of the meeting. This being best-summarised as a desire to emulate the vibrant music scene of places as far-flung as Austin, Texas and Sydney, Australia.

Councillor Hart indicated officials from Austin had already offered to get involved in improving the live music scene in the city; although none were present from Austin, US-born local musician Pat Dennis provided his frank opinion on where Edinburgh fails to nurture the local music scene: that failure to support a grass-roots, small venue, music scene prevents the city being capable of organising events similar to Austin’s South by Southwest festival outwith August, when Edinburgh hosts the Festival and Fringe.

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Coming in for the lion’s share of criticism, staff from CEC’s Licensing Board were visibly uncomfortable when the topic of the “single complainant” was brought up time and time again. Unlike any other business within the city, or residential properties, noise pollution within premises permitted to sell alcohol is not managed by environmental health staff. That responsibility is bundled with the alcohol license, which leaves publicans fearful that their premises will be forced to close if they do not comply with demands to cease use of any amplification, or hosting live music. This was characterised as a ‘tyranny of the minority’, a most-undemocratic approach where one person — for example, recently moved into a property adjacent to a long-established premises hosting live music — could force the closure of a business which has hosted local talent for 30+ years.

Taking heed of the strength of feeling from the majority present, Councillor Hart made a number of personal commitments towards the end of the meeting. Those included setting up a working group, Music is Audible, to look at how the council could better work with venues, and to have a follow-up meeting in March next year.



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November 14, 2014

Five jailed in Tyler, Texas following robbery and scam

Five jailed in Tyler, Texas following robbery and scam

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Four men and one woman were in jail in Tyler, Texas as of yesterday morning following a robbery allegedly involving an elaborate scam.

File photo of a Sig Sauer pistol.
Image: Sandra1983.

Police alleged Alneisha Butler originated a scheme to lure a 25-year-old man to an apartment complex in Tyler late Tuesday night, where he was accosted at gun point by four men. Butler and the man had been corresponding online for a few weeks, when she told him she wanted him to meet some friends of hers, according to police.

When the two met at the complex, they were met by the four men who demanded money from the victim. He didn’t have cash, so the assailants ordered him to get cash from an ATM (Automated Teller Machine) while they held the woman until his return. The man left the scene and notified police by phone. The men named as alleged assailants in the crime were Lawrence Caston, Shannon Howard, Justin McGee, and David Roberts.

The woman and each of the four men were being held on a US$750,000 bond. A police spokesperson cautioned, “This could have [just as] easily happened if he met her at a bar as it happened online. If you go somewhere with someone and they start leading you to a place you don’t feel comfortable, then don’t go”.



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November 13, 2014

Two-time plane crash survivor, Austin Hatch, scores first goal in college sports

Two-time plane crash survivor, Austin Hatch, scores first goal in college sports

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

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Austin Hatch, 20, a survivor of two separate plane crashes, scored his first basket in college basketball on Monday night, for the University of Michigan.

The shot was his second of two free throw attempts. Media photos showed University of Michigan coach John Beilen congratulating Hatch.

File photo of a basketball.

Hatch survived a plane crash and eight-week coma in 2011, an accident that killed his father and step mother. Hatch had previously survived a separate crash in 2003, that killed his mother, brother and sister. Hatch’s father was the pilot in both of those accidents.

Hatch, raised in Fort Wayne, Indiana, moved in 2013 to his uncle’s home in California. He committed verbally to play sports with the university in 2011, and formally signed an agreement in November 2013. Of the tragedies, Hatch told reporters, “Obviously, it’s a big part of my life, but I’m about moving forward and making the most of my experience here.”



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November 10, 2014

Arafat memorial ceremony in Gaza cancelled following attacks on Fatah leaders

Filed under: Archived,Middle East,Palestine,Politics and conflicts — admin @ 5:00 am

Arafat memorial ceremony in Gaza cancelled following attacks on Fatah leaders

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Monday, November 10, 2014

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Fatah yesterday announced it was cancelling the memorial it was planning to hold tomorrow in Gaza City for its late leader Yasser Arafat, following a wave of explosions targeting Fatah leaders’ homes in the Gaza Strip. Sources in the Fatah movement blamed Hamas, the ruling movement in Gaza, for the attacks. Hamas has denied involvement and condemned the attacks.

The memorial was to take place on Tuesday at Al-Katiba square, to commemorate ten years since the founder and leader of the Fatah movement, Yasser Arafat, died. However according to Zakaria al-Agha, senior Gaza Strip Fatah leader, Gaza security services ordered the stage workers for the event “to stop working and leave”.

Agha said, “After the series of explosions and assaults against Fatah leaders, we have been notified by Hamas’ political and security officials that security services won’t be able to take charge of security arrangements during the Arafat anniversary ceremony”.

Some Fatah officials blamed the wave of explosions on Hamas. A Fatah spokesperson added they had been expecting the unity government “to cater to the interests of our nation”. Hamas denied any connection to the events, and its spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri condemned the attacks on his Facebook page.

Hamas Ministry of Interior spokesperson Iyad Al-Buzm said the memorial had been cancelled due to the tense atmosphere between the two movements following the attacks during the last few days, and due to technical reasons, including the delay in salary payments to security personnel by the unity government. Furthermore, he said the prime minister of the unity government, Rami Hamdallah, hadn’t contacted security in the Gaza Strip.

In June 2014, after an agreement between Hamas and Fatah, a reconciliation government was established. This reconciliation was to have enabled the first memorial ceremony for Arafat in Gaza since Hamas took over the strip in 2007. For the past few months, however, recriminations between the two sides have marred the arrangement. About two months ago, Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas accused Hamas of establishing a “shadow government” in the Gaza Strip. Hamas workers accuse Fatah-dominated leadership of not paying their salaries.


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