Thursday, December 24, 2015


One of the best Christmas songs of the past thirty years is "Fairytale of New York" by The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl. MacColl may not have been the first choice to sing female vocals, yet her duet with Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan produced a memorable ode to love and hope for a better future.

The following post was originally published on December 13, 2013:

On December 18, 2000, English singer–songwriter Kirsty MacColl died under mysterious circumstances while vacationing with her family in Mexico. 

While scuba diving off the coast of Cozumel with her two sons, MacColl was hit and killed by a speedboat that entered illegally into a swimming-only area. The scuba instructor working with the group, Ivan Diaz, claimed that her final gesture was to save the life of one of her sons by pushing him away from the path of the boat.

Mexican business tycoon Guillermo González Nova owned the boat involved in the incident and he was on board the vessel with his family.  Crewmember José Cen Yam confessed that he drove the boat and his only punishment was to pay a small putative fine.  Yet MacColl's family and her supporters believed that Cen Yam took the blame for his boss and Nova covered up the true circumstances of the accident.  (They claimed that witnesses including Diaz saw Nova admit to police that he was driving the speedboat while Yam “drunkenly” said that Nova promised him money and a house in exchange for lying to the authorities).

The tragedy snuffed out the life of a gifted musician who was best known for having her debut solo single "They Don't Know" covered by Tracey Ullman, singing backing vocals on several songs from The Smiths and collaborating with Shane MacGowan in the holiday classic “Fairytale of New York.”  Yet at the time of her untimely death she was scheduled to present a series on Cuban music for BBC radio, which she recorded in Havana and included interviews with the Buena Vista Social Club and Ry Cooder.  Throughout her career she dabbled with Latin-themed tunes in her songs such as “In These Shoes” and “Us Amazonians” from her final album, Tropical Brainstorm. [Ed. - MacColl's love for Latin music can be seen in a portion of this 2001 documentary.]

Below the page break is the video from 1991’s “My Affair”, an upbeat song described by The A.V. Club as a “simple cure” to overcome the sadness one may feel from her untimely death:

Daily Headlines: December 24, 2015

* Brazil: Brazilian Attorney General Rodrigo Janot is investigating if embattled congressional leader Eduardo Cunha received $475,000 in bribes related to next year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

* Uruguay: Eugenio Figueredo, the former vice president of soccer governing body FIFA, was extradited to his native Uruguay where he will be arraigned in connection to a massive corruption scandal.

* Canada: Canadian immigration authorities withdrew the deportation order against a Salvadoran refugee who has received sanctuary in a British Columbia church since 2013.

* Puerto Rico: Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla believes that the island will be unable to make a $1 billion debt payment due on New Year’s Day.

YouTube Source – PBS NewsHour (The toxic waters where certain aquatic events are schedules is one of numerous problems that have arisen in preparation for the 2016 Rio Olympics).

Online Sources – CBC, Reuters, BBC News,

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Daily Headlines: December 23, 2015

* Colombia: Colombia became the latest Latin American country to partially decriminalize marijuana use after President Juan Manuel Santos decreed the production and sale of the plant for medical use.

* Venezuela: The Venezuelan legislature approved stacking the Supreme Court with thirteen new judges less than two weeks before the opposition gains control of congress.

* Mexico: The number of undocumented migrants attempting to cross the Mexican border into the U.S. has dropped by 30% in the fiscal year 2015 and by 80% from the peak year in 2000 according to Border Patrol data.

* Guatemala: Guatemala is considering voluntarily taking in several thousand Cuban migrants stuck for the past few weeks in Costa Rica.

YouTube Source – AFP

Online Sources – Washington Post, Yahoo News, Vice News, teleSUR English

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Daily Headlines: December 22, 2015

* Central America: The Nicaraguan and Costa Rican governments welcomed Pope Francis’ appeal for both states to improve their relations following an International Court of Justice ruling last week.

* Puerto Rico: Legislation has been introduced to the U.S. Senate that would provide short-term help for debt-ridden Puerto Rico.

* Venezuela: According to U.S. investigators, five unnamed PDVSA employees received more than $1 billion in bribes from two Venezuelan businessmen.

* Paraguay: Several thousand Paraguayan workers protested as part of the second general strike to occur in the country since 2013.

YouTube Source – teleSUR English

Online Sources – International Court of Justice, teleSUR English, Yahoo News, Reuters, SBS

Monday, December 21, 2015

Daily Headlines: December 21, 2015

* Bolivia: A natural disaster declaration was emitted for Bolivia’s second-largest lake, Lake Poopó, which is nearly completely dry.

* Central America: Should the U.S. help airlift an estimated 5000 of Cuban migrants stranded in Costa Rica since November?

* Haiti: “Violent protests and acts of vandalism’ have erupted in several Haitian cites prior to the controversial presidential runoff election scheduled for this Sunday.

* Brazil: Nelson Barbosa, Brazil’s new Finance Minister, said that the austerity plans will continue in order to jump start the recession-hit economy.

YouTube Source – Fundacion Solon

Online Sources – teleSUR English, SBS, Miami Herald, Forbes