Friday, January 24, 2014

De Musica Ligera: Jobim

This Saturday marks what would have been the 87th birthday of the famed Brazilian singer and songwriter Antonio Carlos Jobim.

Born in Rio de Janeiro, "Tom" gained prominence in his native land after he collaborated with poet Vinícius de Moraes to write music for the 1956 play "Orfeu da Conceição" and its subsequent film adaptation, "Black Orpheus." He would soon help spearhead the bossa nova musical genre along with the likes of Luiz Bonfá and João Gilberto.  Jobim would make his name on the world stage by the mid-1960s with the skyrocketing popularity of bossa nova music worldwide.  His first big hit abroad was the recording of "Desafinado" by saxophonist Stan Getz and guitarist Charlie Byrd in 1962.  Yet his main claim to fame was Astrud Gilberto's version of "The Girl From Ipanema" from the classic 1964 album "Getz/Gilberto."
Over the next three decades Jobim emerged as an influential jazz artist who worked on albums with well-known musicians such as Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald as well as Brazilian contemporaries like Ellis Regina, Gal Costa and Sergio Mandes.  Songs including "Waters of March", "One Note Samba" and "Wave" became mainstays of jazz and Brazilian music.

The video below the page break comes from Jobim's 1986 performance at the Montreal Jazz Festival.  Recorded eight years before he passed away, Jobim interpreted some of his best-known tunes that continue to be cherished today: 

Daily Headlines: January 24, 2014

* Chile: A Memorial for Diversity was inaugurated this week and dedicated to the late Daniel Zamudio, a gay Chilean teen who in 2012 was tortured and murdered due to his sexual orientation.

* Argentina: The government announced plans to ease currency controls after the Argentine peso on Thursday devalued by the most since the 2002 economic crisis.

* Bolivia: “Bolivia cannot remain excluded from this technology, which belongs to all humankind,” said President Evo Morales as he declared that his country would construct a nuclear power plant.

* Panama: Can genetically modified mosquitos help ease an outbreak of the dengue fever in Panama?
Video Source – CNN Chile via YouTube

Online Sources- I Love Chile News; Bloomberg; Inside Costa Rica; TIME

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Daily Headlines: January 23, 2014

* Colombia: Star striker Radamel Falcao will likely miss this summer’s World Cup after he tore an anterior cruciate ligament during a soccer match in France on Wednesday.

* South America: The value of the Argentine peso declined to its weakest level in twelve years today while the Venezuelan government unveiled a new dual-rate foreign exchange system.

* Puerto Rico: A spokeswoman for the White House claimed that the Obama administration is not considering a financial bailout to an economically weak Puerto Rico.

* Latin America: A U.N. report published this week found that gender inequality persists throughout Latin America despite more women being employed throughout the region.

Video Source – YouTube user Pasión Futbolista

Online Sources- ESPN FC; Reuters; Bloomberg; Xinhua; La Prensa

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Mexican on Death Row Executed in Texas (Update)

Update (11:55 PM): Edgar Tamayo was executed via lethal injection on Wednesday night.

According to a report from the Associated Press:
Asked by a warden if he had a final statement, he mumbled "no" and shook his head. As the lethal dose of pentobarbital began taking effect, he took a few breaths and then made one slightly audible snore before all movement stopped. He was pronounced dead 17 minutes after the drug was administered, at 9:32 p.m. CST.

Tamayo never looked toward (murdered policeman Guy) Gaddis' mother, two brothers and two other relatives who watched through a window. He selected no witnesses of his own.

There were several dozen police officers and supporters of the slain patrolman were revving their motorcycles outside of the prison before witnesses were let inside the death chamber.
Afterwords, Gaddis' mother admitted that "my broken heart is feeling better" while one of the slain officer's brothers deemed Tamayo as a "coward who shot my brother in his back."

Meanwhile, Tamayo's  father claimed that he was innocent and that members of his family had been praying for him. 

Update (10:20 PM): The U.S. Supreme Court denied a stay of execution for Mexican national and death row inmate Edgar Tamayo.  As a result, it's expected that Tamayo will be executed via lethal injection sometime tonight.

"Twenty years have been long enough.  I'm ready," said part of a statement issued by Tamayo on Wednesday.  Prison officials claimed that he has been calm in anticipation of his execution.
 Update (9:00 PM): Authorities in Texas have temporarily delayed the execution of convicted murderer Edgar Tamayo while the U.S. Supreme Court hears a legal appeal.

The high tribunal has until midnight to make a decision on the fate of Tamayo though if no ruling is made a new date for execution may need to be set.

As mentioned in our original text below, the Mexican government called for Tamayo's execution to be suspended since it violates international law while the U.S. State Department expressed its concern that the punishment could impact the way U.S. citizens are treated in other countries.  Yet Texas state officials had been vehemently opposed to either postponing the execution or commuting Tamayo's sentence.

Original Post: A Mexican national sitting on death row in Texas is only a few hours away from being executed. 

Barring a last-second reprieve from the U.S. Supreme Court or Gov. Rick Perry, Edgar Tamayo is scheduled to die via lethal injection at approximately 6:00 pm local time.  The odds that he will avoid being executed at the appointed hour are very slim as he faces decreasing legal options.  The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles rejected a clemency request this morning while a U.S. federal court denied an appeal contending that Tamayo is mentally impaired.

Tamayo, who was convicted of murdering Houston police officer Guy Gaddis in 1994, would be the first execution this year in Texas.  (Texas was the most active capital punishment state last year with sixteen people were put to death in 2013).

Tamayo’s planned execution comes amidst protests from Mexican officials such as the country’s Foreign Secretary and Ambassador to the U.S.

“If Edgar Tamayo's execution were to go ahead without his trial being reviewed and his sentence reconsidered ... it would be a clear violation of the United States' international obligations,” read a recent statement issued by the Mexican foreign ministry.  The ministry also argued that Tamayo was never advised under an international treaty that he could get legal help from his home nation after his arrest.

Yesterday the U.S. State Department reiterated the stance of Secretary of State John Kerry alleged that the possible death of Tamayo “could impact the way American citizens are treated in other countries”.  In an article written last week, ex-Texas Gov. and self-professed capital punishment backer Mark White said, “This case is not about whether we support or oppose the death penalty. It’s about fairness and having the courts hear all the key facts”.

Despite these objections and others including an appeal from Tamayo’s father, it appears as if Gov. Perry will not delay the 46-year-old’s execution.

Daily Headlines: January 22, 2014

* Brazil: FIFA officials warned that the Brazilian city of Curitiba could be excluded from hosting World Cup matches in June while International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach noted that work must be sped up ahead of the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.

* U.S.: A study published this month in the journal “Crime & Delinquency” concluded that about 44% of Latino men and 16% of Latinas are arrested at least once on non-traffic-related crimes by the time they turn 23-years-old.

* Panama: Representatives of the Panama Canal Authority and the consortium contracted to expand the famed waterway negotiated possible ways to make sure work continues on the troubled project.

* Ecuador: Ecuador is reportedly topping Brazil as Latin America’s top cocoa producer and in 2015 could become the number-four producer of cocoa in the world.

Video Source – sntv via YouTube (“World Cup workers in the southern city of Curitiba went on strike (in December) because of late pay at one of the stadiums that will host matches during the 2014 tournament”.)

Online Sources- Bloomberg; CNN; Fox News Latino; Reuters; Washington Post

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Nuestro Cine: Cesar Chavez on the Silver Screen (Take Two)

Last October we linked to the trailer of a feature film on Latino labor rights and civil rights activist Cesar Chavez that will be released in March. Entitled “Cesar Chavez: An American Hero,” the movie is directed by Mexican actor Diego Luna and stars Michael Peña, America Ferrera, John Malkovich and Rosario Dawson.

Several days ago a second theatrical trailer of the Chavez biopic was released and can be viewed below the page break:

Daily Headlines: January 21, 2014

* Argentina: Juan Gelman, the renown Argentine poet and political activist whose son and daughter-in-law were killed during the “Dirty War”, died last week at the age of 83.

* Haiti: A Haitian judge charged nine people including several close allies of ex-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide of being involved in the April 2000 murder of radio station owner and journalist Jean Dominique.

* Colombia: The Colombian military claimed that troops killed fourteen members of the FARC guerillas during a raid in the eastern state of Arauca.

* Nicaragua: Nicaraguan officials pledged to mediate in the tense and violent standoff between sugarcane cutters seeking greater medical benefits and their employers.

Video Source – EFE International via YouTube (The late wordsmith Juan Gelman located his granddaughter, Macarena, in 2000 after she was stolen from her parents in 1976 and illegally put up for adoption).

Online Sources-; Reuters; The Latin Americanist; ABC News; NBC News