Monthly Archives: October 2016

Hurricane Matthew Heading for the Bahamas and the East Coast of Florida (Updated) Wednesday 8 AM

Wednesday October 4 8 AM Advisory from the National Hurricane Center in Miami

matthewam

HURRICANE MATTHEW HEADING FOR THE CENTRAL AND NORTHWESTERN
BAHAMAS

At 800 AM EDT (1200 UTC), the center of Hurricane Matthew was
located near latitude 21.5 North, longitude 74.9 West. Matthew is
moving toward the north-northwest near 10 mph (17 km/h). This
motion is expected to continue today, followed by a northwestward
turn tonight. On this track, Matthew will be moving across the
Bahamas through Thursday, and is expected to be very near the east
coast of Florida by Thursday evening.

Maximum sustained winds are near 115 mph (185 km/h) with higher
gusts. Matthew is a category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson
Hurricane Wind Scale. Some slight strengthening is forecast during
the next couple of days.

We will keep updating this information throughout the day.

Colombians reject Santos’ peace accord with the FARC guerrillas

santosfarc

Colombians have rejected the charade between Juan Manuel Santos and the FARC terrorists, that was designed and directed by Fidel and Raul Castro. Well done Colombia!.

The City Paper Bogota

When the polls closed at 4 pm across Colombia, more than 34,8 million were eligible to cast their vote in the historic peace plebiscite. With a “Yes” or “No” on the ballot, voter turn-out was steady through-out the day despite a rainy start in most of the country. The Colombian capital had 12,078 booths set up to receive voters from 8 am onwards.

Colombians residing in 56 countries also cast their votes to accept or reject the Final Accord signed on September 26 between the Colombian Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla.

The first bulletin from the Civil Registrar came in 15 minutes after the polls officially closed reporting “Yes” with slight margin of votes (33,873) over “No” (30,070). By bulletin No.4 at 4:20 pm “Yes” had 1,623 316 and “No” 1,605 554.

Due to the heavy rain affecting much of the coast from Hurricane “Matthew” only 2,500 voters turned out in Santa Marta, than an expected 9,000.

In order for “Yes” to win and ratify the final accord with FARC more than 4,536,993 votes were needed. Colombia’s Constitutional Court approved the peace plebiscite on July 18 and lowered the voting threshold to 13% of the national total registered voters.

By 4:30 pm the “Yes” vote was narrowly surpassing “No” with 50,9% versus 49,9%. The voting threshold was met with the official bulletin No.6 at 4:40 pm with “Yes” leading marginally with 5,235 558 votes over “No” with 5,234 986 – a difference of just 546 votes.

In the Colombian capital Bogotá “Yes” surpassed “No” by 600,000 votes.

By bulletin No.8 at 4:50 the tide had turned against “Yes” with 91% of all voting across the country counted – “No” with 50,10% or 5,811 512 votes over “Yes” with 5,786 783 (49,89%).

By bulletin No.10 at 4:55 pm “No” maintained its narrow lead with 6,255 373 votes against “Yes” with 6,203 480.

The peace plebiscite aimed to break voter apathy regarding the peace process with FARC and that has lasted almost four years in Havana, Cuba, but an hour after the polls closed some 12 million Colombians had cast their votes.

After more than a half century of conflict, the plebiscite sumed up in one question the original six points of an agenda agreed upon by both sides in August 2012. On Monday, September 26, President Juan Manuel Santos signed with FARC’s “Timochenko” the 57-year-old revolutionary Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri, the final accord during a televised ceremony in Cartagena and attended by 15 presidents and the U.N Secretary General Ban-Ki moon.

Colombia’s security forces confirmed that there were no reports of violence during the voting day Sunday.

By 5:10 pm the National Registrar released bulletin No.11 with “Yes” heading towards defeat with 6,270 730 votes (49,77%) and “N” with 6,328 501 votes (50,22%).

By the time bulletin 15 was released with the total national vote count at 99,25% “Yes” had lost the day by 62,350 votes (49,75%) with 6,346.055 votes and “No” coming in with 6,408 350 votes or 50,24%.

Upon receiving the news that “No” clinched victory Sunday, the FARC tweeted “We don’t have a plan B”. During the peace signing ceremony in Cartagena “Timochenko” assured Colombians that their objective is to form a political party and not return to war. On this historic Sunday “Timochenko” released the following tweet: We are convinced that all Colombians can overcome their difficulties and smile with hope for the future.”

With the large voter turn out Sunday across Colombia and a clear rejection of the peace agreement with the oldest guerrilla insurgency in the world, the political future of the 65-year old President Santos appears to be uncertain. Upon receiving news of the “No” victory, Santos called an emergency meeting at the Presidential Palace Casa de Nariño with all his ministers and chief peace negotiators. President Santos has staked his presidency on a “Yes” victory and mandate for peace.

All polls leading to voting day gave “Yes” a decisive victory over “No”.

In Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia’s second largest city “No” won with 60% of the votes.

In voting overseas, Colombians gave “Yes” a mandate with 40,907 votes (54%).

The head of state is expected to address the nation at 7:00 pm as a political crisis looms.

The war with FARC has claimed 260,000 lives during more than a half century of conflict. The future for the 13,000-strong guerrilla now appears uncertain. With the peace signing of their maximum commander “Timochenko” and Santos, FARC fighters were beginning to move to U.N.-monitored “verification zones” in order to hand-over their weapons and begin the process of reintegrating back into society.

The “No” victory at the polls Sunday October 2 means the 197-page Final Accord with FARC cannot be implemented.

Useful idiots never learn: Smithsonian cancels plan to feature Cuba at the 2017 Folklife Festival

smithsonian

Sen. Patrick Leahy, one of Cuba’s dictatorship best known useful idiots, and the Smithsonian Institution ended up with egg on their face when the Castro dictatorship refused to participate in an upcoming Washington festival after working on it for 17 years!

The Washington Post

The Smithsonian Institution has canceled an ambitious plan to showcase Cuban culture on the Mall in Washington at the 2017 Folklife Festival because negotiators could not agree on the contract that would govern all aspects of the event.

After exhaustive preparations by Cuban and American scholars that began more than a decade ago, culminating in last-ditch efforts to redraft a memorandum of understanding this past spring and summer, the document remained unsigned late last month.

“The Smithsonian and Cuba have been unable to finalize a clear plan for Cuba’s participation next summer,” Michael Atwood Mason, director of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, wrote on Sept. 22 to his Cuban counterpart, Gladys Collazo Usallán, president of the National Council for Cultural Patrimony. “Since we now have less than nine months till the festival, I no longer think it is feasible to produce an excellent, memorable program for the 2017 festival.”

Cubans at a higher level in the government than Collazo never responded to the final draft of the contract, and Smithsonian officials still do not know what objections there might be, said Linda St. Thomas, chief spokesperson for the Smithsonian.

Collazo in Havana and officials in the Cuban Embassy in Washington did not respond to requests for comment.

The breakdown stunned and disheartened festival advocates and curators who poured great effort and hope into a proposal that seemed poised to place a cultural exclamation point on the diplomatic work of rebuilding relations between the countries. The failure is all the more surprising because top Smithsonian executives have spoken so optimistically about the Cuban festival since the idea was announced early last year.

“I’m disappointed that it may not happen in 2017, but I understand the Smithsonian and the Cuban government are continuing to consider ideas for people-to-people exchanges and other opportunities for Americans to experience Cuban culture,” Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), a member of the Smithsonian’s Board of Regents who was an early advocate of the festival, said in a statement.

Patrick Leahy, right, meets with Abel Prieto Jimenez, advisor to Cuban President Raul Castro, in January 2015 in Cuba. During the visit, Leahy invited Cuba to participate in the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. (Marcelle Leahy) Patrick J. Leahy, right, presents a Smithsonian book to former culture minister Abel Prieto Jimenez, an adviser to Cuban President Raúl Castro, in January 2015 in Cuba. During the visit, Leahy invited Cuba to participate in the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. (Marcelle Leahy)
It now appears less likely that Cuba ever will star in a festival because the Folklife Center is changing its focus to thematic programs, rather than country-based programs. Without Cuba, the 2017 festival will include a look at life and art in the circus world and a salute to folk artists who have been honored by the National Endowment for the Arts. The theme of the 2018 festival is cultural heritage industries from around the world; 2019 is the thematic power of music.

Still, aspects of Cuban culture could be included within the themes of future festivals.

“We are saddened that the American and Cuban people will not benefit from what would have been a wonderful opportunity for people-to-people exchange, but we are certainly open to considering Cuba’s inclusion in a future festival,” Mason wrote to Collazo.

Mason said in an interview that the Smithsonian had been prepared to help raise more than $1 million from private sources to cover the cost of the festival.

The Smithsonian pursued a Cuba festival despite objections from Cuban American members of Congress, who blasted the idea when it became public last year. In part to blunt such criticism and also to reflect the experience of Cuban Americans, the festival was to include off-the-Mall programing devoted to the Cuban diaspora.

James Early, former director of cultural heritage policy for the Folklife Center, launched efforts toward a Cuba festival in 1999. It was “truly a curator’s dream,” wrote Cynthia Vidaurri, the project curator since from the beginning, in an essay published this year about developing the festival. Dozens of scholars and specialists from the United States and Cuba collaborated over the years.

The working title of the festival was, “Cuba: Confluences, Creativity & Color,” designed to “explore Cuba’s rich cultural diversity through crafts, storytelling, music, language, dance, rituals, medicinal traditions, food and more.”

Early, who retired last year from the Folklife Center, faulted Smithsonian officials for being unable to close the deal after so much work.

“Hopefully more forward thinking and capable leadership will step forward to salvage the earnest research and documentation work by Smithsonian and Cuban curatorial colleagues, awaited by the U.S. public and Cuban tradition-bearers and cultural scholars for many years on the National Mall,” Early wrote in an email.

The first sign of trouble came in April, when the Smithsonian canceled a field trip to visit potential festival participants, including Chinese Cubans and members of the ethnic Arará minority.