"I AM FLUSHED WITH MY PRIDE OF NEW YORK" (David Michaels)
A Public Restroom Fit for Brooke Astor Gets an Upgrade By WINNIE HU* APRIL 5, 2017
[PHOTO: The newly renovated bathrooms at Bryant Park will reopen this month. The $280,000 project will bring high-tech toilets, new artwork on the walls and more. Photo Credit Alex Wroblewski for The New York Times]
Bryant Park, a six-acre oasis set among Manhattan skyscrapers, packs in the crowds with its winter ice rink and holiday shops, summer movie nights, smorgasbord of artisanal fare and rustic lunch tables and chairs under stately London plane trees.
Yet it is a 315-square-foot Beaux-Arts gem that draws the longest lines: the bathroom.
If there is a Tiffany’s of public restrooms, this is it. Divided into men’s and women’s sides, it has self-flushing toilets lined with sanitary seat covers that rotate between uses, fresh bouquets of flowers, classical music and two attendants at all times who mop and shine until everything gleams.
But even that isn’t good enough: For those who have to go, it is about to get a whole lot nicer.
When the bathroom reopens this month after a $280,000 makeover, it will have sleek Toto toilets and fixtures, wall tiles in warm, earthy shades to reflect the trees outside and a modern air-conditioning system for the dog days of summer. The attendants, fresh flowers and seat covers will all return. And for the first time, original artwork depicting Bryant Park will be displayed, selected from the park’s collection of 225 works by painters-in-residence.
“I’m going to come here more,” said Will Chen, 30, a messenger who uses the bathroom once a week. “I thought it was already good enough and now they’re going to make it even better? I may live here.”
[PHOTOS: A rendering of the new design. The bathrooms feature fresh flowers and classical music. And hands-free faucets. Credit Bryant Park Corporation]
The bathroom is one of a pair of compact buildings tucked behind the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue; the other has been converted into a park office and storage area. Designed as a public comfort station as part of the library, which opened in 1911, the bathroom was closed in later decades as the park descended into a blighted eyesore, a place best avoided that was overrun with drug dealers and criminals. Dust and pieces of plasterboard covered the bathroom floor.
“It was a total wreck,” recalled Dan Biederman, the president of the Bryant Park Corporation, a nonprofit that manages the park.
In rebuilding the bathroom, Mr. Biederman said, his inspiration was Brooke Astor, the grande dame of New York society. After all, she was indirectly responsible for saving it: Mr. Biederman said he had been told that in 1979, Mrs. Astor, then 77 and a member of the library’s board of trustees, was on her way into the library for a meeting when she said a “hooligan” approached her on the front terrace and tried to sell her drugs. She complained to her friend David Rockefeller that the area needed to be cleaned up. Mr. Rockefeller helped secure the financial support to make it happen.
“Mrs. Astor was in my mind,” said Mr. Biederman, who envisioned the bathroom as a powder room in a country estate. “Anybody from homeless people to Mrs. Astor could use it.”
The upkeep of the bathroom runs to $271,000 annually, which includes $27,000 for 14,040 industrial-size rolls of single-ply toilet paper and $14,160 for flower deliveries. The bathroom attendants earn between $25,000 and $30,000 a year. The city-owned park is supported entirely through private revenue from a variety of sources, including corporate sponsorships.
It has become a popular pit stop for tourists, workers and residents alike. Average daily bathroom use has soared to 3,266 people in 2016 from 1,818 in 2013, according to park data. Lines can grow to 40 people or more, with the wait on the women’s side stretching to 15 to 20 minutes.
“Sometimes I wonder how they can hold it that long,” said Ronald Lynch, 63, a bathroom attendant for seven years.
Mr. Lynch has even spotted celebrities like the comedian Chris Rock in the bathroom alongside the regulars who are so appreciative that they try to slip him tips, he said. When he turns them down because tips are not allowed under park policy, they return with a cup of coffee or a souvenir T-shirt for him.
The bathroom cannot be expanded because the exterior of the building, which has been designated a landmark, has to be preserved, park managers said. Inside, the men’s and women’s sides were previously flipped to squeeze in a third toilet for women (the men have two).
Instead, park managers have sought to make the bathroom experience one worth waiting for.
Any change — even to the playlist of classical music — is discussed at length at staff meetings. Park managers have convened focus groups on the bathroom. After women said they preferred not to have to touch anything, hands-free faucets and driers and self-flushing toilets were introduced. Park managers have also dispatched scouts to luxury hotels and restaurants, including the St. Regis, the Waldorf Astoria, the Plaza and Morimoto restaurant, to check out the competition.
Such attention to detail has not been lost on parkgoers. Emily Gilas, 22, a nanny, said it was comforting to know there was such a nice bathroom just steps away. “It’s very important when you’re walking around,” she said. “There’s a Starbucks on every corner, but those bathrooms are pretty gross.”
From time to time, there has been work to update the Bryant Park bathroom, which reopened in the early 1990s. The current renovation is the most extensive yet and will help make it more efficient and resistant to wear-and-tear, park managers said. Soap dispensers were selected, in part, by how fast they dispensed liquid, and hand driers by how quiet they were — so as not to drown out the music. Ceramic tiles were replaced with more durable porcelain tiles. Larger tiles were used to reduce the amount of grout between them, and the scrubbing needed to keep them clean.
The park partnered with Toto, a luxury brand whose products can be found in the bathrooms of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Mandarin Oriental, among other places. Toto provided high-efficiency toilets, faucets, urinals, wash basins and hand driers.
Before closing the bathroom at the end of February for the renovation, park managers asked nearby stores if park visitors could use their bathrooms. Most refused. So the park installed a row of four portable toilets. To make them more palatable, park workers built an L-shaped wall to partly hide them, then covered the wall with a digital print of ivy that cost $1,950. Bathroom attendants wipe down the portable toilets between uses.
That was still not enough to entice more discriminating bathroom users. Kelli Plevyak, 42, who was recently visiting from California with her 3-year-old daughter, Addie, said that as a rule, she refused to use portable toilets “unless it’s a dire emergency.” She had taken Addie to a less-than-sparkling bathroom in Central Park and cringed when her daughter’s head bumped the toilet and her skirt brushed the floor.
“When you’re in a bathroom, it’s almost impossible to keep them from touching surfaces you would rather them not touch,” she said.
But Ms. Plevyak said she was willing to try Bryant Park’s renovated bathroom when they returned to the city this summer. “That’s fantastic they put so much effort into it,” she said.
Ignacio Ciocchini, the park’s vice president for design, said that having a nice bathroom — even a temporary one — was an invitation to stay longer in the park. “We always want people in Bryant Park to feel as comfortable as in their living room,” he said.
Mr. Ciocchini recalled that several years ago he overheard two women talking excitedly to their friends upon returning from a trip to the bathroom. They even dragged their friends over for a look.
“You would have thought they were talking about a sculpture,” he said. “But they were talking about a public bathroom."
The FPA SCHOLARSHIP FUND is now accepting applications for the 2017 FPA Scholarship Awards from foreign students currently enrolled in a graduate journalism program in the United States of America.
Scholarship awards will be presented in two categories: print and multi-media. Applications will be adjudicated on the response to an Op-Ed question. A minimum of three cash scholarships, ranging from $2,500 to $10,000 (USD) will be awarded.
Newsgeist brings the fake news debate to Latin America
by Elisa Tinsley
It seems like only yesterday that journalists were talking about big data, live-streaming and 360° video. Now the buzzwords are “fake news” and “alternative facts.” The deliberate dissemination of misinformation partnered with attacks on the reliability of news media has shaken the political and journalistic landscapes in the United States – and globally.
In light of this new reality, the credibility and future of the news media was a major topic at the inaugural Newsgeist LatAm unconference organized by Google and held in São Paulo, March 10-12. More than 150 journalists, technologists, media innovators and journalism academics from across Latin and North America participated in the invitation-only event designed to “reimagine the future of the news.”
Under the collaborative format, participants suggested topics and questions to focus on during the two-day unconference. A question proposed for one of the opening sessions was, “What is the role of Google (and other platforms) in fake news?” Among the key issues raised was whether machines and algorithms can reliably detect fake news and alert users/readers.
Participants from the tech community pointed out that the veracity of information remains a subjective exercise. Filtering for fake news depends on individual preferences and settings. A user may select information or belong to groups that share what others might consider “fake news.” Search engines and algorithms can only predict and respond to what the data say users want to see – whether the sorting is done on a news site, social media or both.
Since machines will only do what people program them to do, reps from tech pointed out that it’s unfair to blame the messengers – the systems that deliver information. The onus, some suggested, is on journalists to find a way to help users/readers critically assess information. One commented, “It’s not our job to play editorial god.”
Aron Pilhofer, a professor of journalism innovation at Temple University and former executive editor of digital for The Guardian, agreed that news media need to help audiences understand the difference between verified fact and fake information. He commented that if readers can’t figure out what is opinion and what is news, “how the hell can Google know the difference?”
That said, there was general agreement that everyone – technology companies, journalists, educators, and even advertisers (see CUNY professor Jeff Jarvis’ comments at the Guardian Media Changing Summit on March 15) – should pitch in address the issue of fake news. That already is happening. Some examples:
The Facebook Journalism Project, which includes “continuing efforts to curb news hoaxes,” is designed to support journalism and news literacy, and serve as a hub for journalists and publishers to learn and share.
The Trust Project, supported by craigslist founder Craig Newmark and Google, is exploring “how journalism can stand out from the chaotic crowd and signal its trustworthiness.”
The International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) is launching TruthBuzz: The Viral Fact-Checking Contest. Supported by the Craig Newmark Foundation, it’s a global challenge to invent new ways to help verified facts reach the widest possible audience. Set to launch in April, ICFJ will accept entries in multiple languages. The Knight Prototype Fund is calling for ideas that answer the question, “How might we improve the flow of accurate information?” U.S.-based technologists, journalists, designers, teachers, researchers and others are invited to submit early-stage ideas to improve the flow of accurate information. The Fund will award up to US$1 million in grants with an average size of about US$50,000.
At the NewsGeist session on fake news, most acknowledged that disinformation isn’t new. What has changed is how it is disseminated and how fast it can reach audiences. “The only thing surprising about fake news,” said one participant, “is that it surprised anyone.”
Elisa Tinsley is deputy vice president of programs at the International Center for Journalists. ... See MoreSee Less
September 7th, a group of FPA officers met a delegation of journalists from Shanghai on a study tour of the USA to explain the history and work of the Association to them - and to compare notes on journalism on both ends of the Pacific.
President David Michaels, VP Ian Williams and Executive Committee member Ksenia Baygarova backed up Tony Morenzi explaining some of the things that the FPA does, including the FPA Scholarship Fund. ... See MoreSee Less
September 7th, a group of FPA officers met a delegation of journalists from Shanghai on a study tour of the USA to explain the history and work of the Association to them - and to compare notes on jou...
FPA member Sam Summerlin died on Feb. 27, 2017, in Carlsbad, CA, due to complications from Parkinson’s Disease.
A native of Chapel Hill, N.C., Sam spent several years in Mexico City with his family and spoke fluent Spanish. He graduated from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, with Phi Beta Kappa honors, and then joined the Associated Press. When the Korean War broke out, he became the youngest foreign correspondent in that conflict. In 1954 he became AP bureau chief in Cuba and the following year in Argentina. He was named AP bureau chief in New Orleans in 1963 and directed coverage of the civil rights movement for two years. In 1965, he was promoted to New York, where he served as Deputy News Editor for AP World Services. Summerlin joined the New York Times Company in 1975, and, for 12 years served as president and chair of the Times' News Service and Syndicate.
Summerlin took early retirement from the New York Times Company to pursue an entrepreneurial role in the emerging information/communications revolution. He created two companies: Hollywood Stars, Inc., which produced video programs, and SAGA Agency, Inc., which produced celebrity still photos, interviews and related news information. Hollywood Stars completed more than 800 television shows and had a library of more than 6,000 interviews with major movie stars. Its news segments were broadcast in the U.S. and to over 80 other countries. The company also produced TV specials about movie stars for the Biography series on the A&E Network; Century of Cinema for the Disney Channel; Hollywood's Magic Night, an annual preview of the Oscars; documentaries on the Olympics, and the Discovery Channel’s Portraits of Power.
Summerlin was the author or co-author of four books, including The China Cloud (1968), which served as the basis for a CBS 60 Minutes program. Summerlin was a recipient of Columbia University’s Maria Moors Cabot Journalism Award for outstanding coverage of Latin America and is in the University of North Carolina Journalism School’s Hall of Fame. He was the first correspondent to flash the news that the Korean War had ended, and was the journalist who told Ernest Hemingway that he had won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Sam Summerlin, whose wife Cynthia died in 2000, is survived by two children, Claire Slattery of Encinitas, CA, and Thomas A. Summerlin of Arlington, VA, and three grandchildren, Barrett, Berkley, and Thomas Andrew Kai Summerlin.
If any member has photos of Sam, or wishes to "pen" any special memories or contribute any anecdotes about Sam, please send to the FPA and they will be forwarded to his family.
Please read additional remarks and view historic photos of Sam on the FPA's FaceBook page being posted in the next few days.
Periodically, it is important to remind ourselves of some fundamental aspects of our professional undertakings.
Although originally published in 2001, it remains relevant!
Principles of Journalism
In 1997, an organization then administered by Project for Excellence in Journalism, ("PEJ"), the Committee of Concerned Journalists, ("CCJ"), began a national conversation among citizens and news people to identify and clarify the principles that underlie journalism. After four years of research, including 20 public forums around the country, a reading of journalism history, a national survey of journalists, and more, the group released a Statement of Shared Purpose that identified nine principles. These became the basis for The Elements of Journalism, the book by PEJ Director Tom Rosenstiel and CCJ Chairman and PEJ Senior Counselor Bill Kovach. Here are those principles, as outlined in the original Statement of Shared Purpose.
A STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
After extended examination by journalists themselves of the character of journalism at the end of the twentieth century, we offer this common understanding of what defines our work. The central purpose of journalism is to provide citizens with accurate and reliable information they need to function in a free society.
This encompasses myriad roles helping define community, creating common language and common knowledge, identifying a community’s goals, heroes and villains, and pushing people beyond complacency. This purpose also involves other requirements, such as being entertaining, serving as watchdog and offering voice to the voiceless.
Over time journalists have developed nine core principles to meet the task. They comprise what might be described as the theory of journalism.
1. JOURNALISM’S FIRST OBLIGATION IS TO THE TRUTH Democracy depends on citizens having reliable, accurate facts put in a meaningful context. Journalism does not pursue truth in an absolute or philosophical sense, but it can and must pursue it in a practical sense. This “journalistic truth” is a process that begins with the professional discipline of assembling and verifying facts. Then journalists try to convey a fair and reliable account of their meaning, valid for now, subject to further investigation. Journalists should be as transparent as possible about sources and methods, so audiences can make their own assessment of the information. Even in a world of expanding voices, accuracy is the foundation upon which everything else is built: context, interpretation, comment, criticism, analysis and debate. The truth, over time, emerges from this forum. As citizens encounter an ever-greater flow of data, they have more need not less for identifiable sources dedicated to verifying that information and putting it in context.
2. ITS FIRST LOYALTY IS TO CITIZENS While news organizations answer to many constituencies, including advertisers and shareholders, the journalists in those organizations must maintain allegiance to citizens and the larger public interest above any other if they are to provide the news without fear or favor. This commitment to citizens first is the basis of a news organization’s credibility; the implied covenant that tells the audience the coverage is not slanted for friends or advertisers. Commitment to citizens also means journalism should present a representative picture of all constituent groups in society. Ignoring certain citizens has the effect of disenfranchising them. The theory underlying the modern news industry has been the belief that credibility builds a broad and loyal audience, and that economic success follows in turn. In that regard, the business people in a news organization also must nurture–not exploit their allegiance to the audience ahead of other considerations.
3. ITS ESSENCE IS DISCIPLINE OF VERIFICATION Journalists rely on a professional discipline for verifying information. When the concept of objectivity originally evolved, it did not imply that journalists are free of bias. It called, rather, for a consistent method of testing information – a transparent approach to evidence – precisely so that personal and cultural biases would not undermine the accuracy of their work. The method is objective; not the journalist. Seeking out multiple witnesses, disclosing as much as possible about sources, or asking various sides for comment, all signal such standards. This discipline of verification is what separates journalism from other modes of communication, such as propaganda, fiction or entertainment. However, the need for professional method is not always fully recognized or refined. While journalism has developed various techniques for determining facts, for instance, it has done less to develop a system for testing the reliability of journalistic interpretation.
4. ITS PRACTITIONERS MUST MAINTAIN AN INDEPENDENCE FROM THOSE THEY COVER Independence is an underlying requirement of journalism, a cornerstone of its reliability. Independence of spirit and mind, rather than neutrality, is the principle journalists must keep in focus. While editorialists and commentators are not neutral, the source of their credibility is still their accuracy, intellectual fairness and ability to inform, not their devotion to a certain group or outcome. In our independence, however, we must avoid any tendency to stray into arrogance, elitism, isolation or nihilism.
5. IT MUST SERVE AS AN INDEPENDENT MONITOR OF POWER Journalism has an unusual capacity to serve as watchdog over those whose power and position most affect citizens. The Founders recognized this to be a rampart against despotism when they ensured an independent press; courts have affirmed it; citizens rely on it. As journalists, we have an obligation to protect this watchdog freedom by not demeaning it in frivolous use or exploiting it for commercial gain.
6. IT MUST PROVIDE A FORUM FOR PUBLIC CRITICISM AND COMPROMISE The news media are the common carriers of public discussion, and this responsibility forms a basis for our special privileges. This discussion serves society best when it is informed by facts rather than prejudice and supposition. It also should strive to fairly represent the varied viewpoints and interests in society, and to place them in context rather than highlight only the conflicting fringes of debate. Accuracy and truthfulness require that as framers of the public discussion we not neglect the points of common ground where problem solving occurs.
7. IT MUST STRIVE TO MAKE THE SIGNIFICANT INTERESTING AND RELEVANT Journalism is storytelling with a purpose. It should do more than gather an audience or catalogue the important. For its own survival, it must balance what readers know they want with what they cannot anticipate but need. In short, it must strive to make the significant interesting and relevant. The effectiveness of a piece of journalism is measured both by how much a work engages its audience and enlightens it. This means journalists must continually ask what information has most value to citizens and in what form. While journalism should reach beyond such topics as government and public safety, a journalism overwhelmed by trivia and false significance ultimately engenders a trivial society.
8. IT MUST KEEP THE NEWS COMPREHENSIVE AND PROPORTIONAL Keeping news in proportion and not leaving important things out are also cornerstones of truthfulness. Journalism is a form of cartography: it creates a map for citizens to navigate society. Inflating events for sensation, neglecting others, stereotyping or being disproportionately negative all make a less reliable map. The map also should include news of all our communities, not just those with attractive demographics. This is best achieved by newsrooms with a diversity of backgrounds and perspectives. The map is only an analogy; proportion and comprehensiveness are subjective, yet their elusiveness does not lessen their significance.
9. ITS PRACTITIONERS MUST BE ALLOWED TO EXERCISE THEIR PERSONAL CONSCIENCE Every journalist must have a personal sense of ethics and responsibility–a moral compass. Each of us must be willing, if fairness and accuracy require, to voice differences with our colleagues, whether in the newsroom or the executive suite. News organizations do well to nurture this independence by encouraging individuals to speak their minds. This stimulates the intellectual diversity necessary to understand and accurately cover an increasingly diverse society. It is this diversity of minds and voices, not just numbers, that matters. ... See MoreSee Less
"The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly as necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else."
ATTRIBUTION: THEODORE ROOSEVELT, “Lincoln and Free Speech,” The Great Adventure (vol. 19 of The Works of Theodore Roosevelt, national ed.), chapter 7, p. 289 (1926).
Posted by David P. Michaels Twitter: DPMichaelsNYC FaceBook: DavidPhillipMichaels ... See MoreSee Less
I take this opportunity to wish you all a very successful and fulfilling 2017. I also take this moment to introduce myself to you as the newly appointed CEO of the FPA and look forward to meeting you....
FIDEL CASTRO HAS DIED AT AGE OF 90; HERO AND BASTARD, REVOLUTIONARY AND DICTATOR.
Fidel Castro, the fiery communist politician and Cuban revolutionary who led his country for almost half a century, has died. His health had been deteriorating since 2006, when he suffered from intestinal bleeding. He was 90 years old.
By 1959, Castro had established the first communist state in the Western hemisphere. He had been revered as a savior by many across the country, and yet Human Rights Watch listed Castro’s Cuba as a gross violator of basic and free standards of living. Regardless of how Castro was perceived in his life, he leaves behind a legacy of shaping the history of a small Latin American country in its fight for an identity, and its struggle in standing up against the greatest superpower on Earth.
Castro’s revolutionary spirit had beginnings from when he was a law student at the University of Havana. It was there that his interest in politics began.
In 1952, the young and enthusiastic lawyer ran for election to the Cuban House of Representatives. But the election never took place. Fulgencio Batista, the former president of the country, staged a coup with the backing of the army, and seized power that March. For Castro, this was the moment he realized an uprising was imminent.
But before Castro’s revolution was to take hold, there was another Latin American figure he’d befriend who would help shape rebellion in Cuba and across the region — the Argentine doctor, Ernesto “Che” Guevara.
With Che by his side and a small rebel army backing them, the revolutionaries descended from their stronghold in the Sierra Maestra Mountains, and took on Batista’s U.S.-backed forces. Castro was able to topple the right-wing dictator on Jan. 1, 1959, after Batista had ruled in and out of power for 25 years.
The scene on the streets of Havana just a week later was one of jubilation, as Castro and his brigade rolled into the capital atop tanks and trucks. Thousands of Cubans met them, cheering and waving flags from cars and from balconies.
For Castro, the revolution meant a distinct reordering of society. Through the Agrarian Reform Laws, he redistributed land to the peasants that worked them. He placed an emphasis on healthcare, education, housing and road-building in rural areas.
Then, in 1960, he ordered all U.S.-owned companies in Cuba to be nationalized without compensation. They included oil refineries, factories and casinos. Everywhere around the country, U.S. flags were taken down, and signs for corporations were replaced with the stamp of the Cuban government. Angered by this move, the United States government decided to retaliate, in the form of a trade embargo, which lasted more than five decades.
Castro’s stated goal was simple: to resist against the “imperial” world, and infuse a sense of nationalism across all aspects of Cuban life. But along the way, he compromised civil liberties, forcing many Cubans to flee the country, and head north, to Miami. The country has long been criticized for its human rights abuses of anyone opposing the government since Castro assumed power, including arbitrary imprisonment, unfair trials and extrajudicial execution. In addition to these abuses, civil liberties in the country were almost nonexistent during Castro’s tenure, with severe limitations on freedom of press, religion and general political dissent.
Castro admitted. “We do not have a press system like that of the United States. In the United States there is private property over the mass media. The mass media belongs to private enterprises. They are the ones who say the last word. Here there is no private property over the mass media. There is social property. And it has been, is and will be at the service of the revolution.”
But for all the distinctions from the United States Castro was sure to make, the U.S. blockade crippled Cuba’s economy. In order for the regime to stay afloat, Castro developed an alliance with America’s superpower rival, the Soviet Union – distancing his country even more from the U.S., and leading American President Dwight D. Eisenhower to sever all links with Cuba.
Still, Castro stood firm in his opposition of the States.
“We are a small country,” Castro said in 1985. “But we are also a country with a lot of dignity, and no one can suppose that we would beg the United States for an improvement of relations. We have never done so, and we shall never do it.”
That persistently defiant attitude, along with the deteriorating economy and continued repression of political dissidents, led to a mass exodus of Cubans following the 1959 revolution.
Meanwhile, America’s new president, John F. Kennedy, decided to carry on with his predecessor’s plans to take Castro out. He administered a covert CIA operation commonly known as “The Bay of Pigs” invasion — in which 1,200 Cuban exiles were trained as an army to invade Cuba and conduct an armed overthrow of Castro on April 17, 1961.
But the small, counter-revolutionary force was no match for Castro’s supporters, who rallied to counter the invasion. It turned out to be a disaster and an embarrassment for the new Kennedy administration, and Cuba’s revolutionary spirit was nourished yet again.
The U.S. and Cuba hit another contentious point the following year, after it was discovered that Castro had secretly allowed the Soviets to build sites for nuclear missiles, leading to the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. The crisis brought the world to the brink of nuclear war.
The CIA made several other attempts at Castro’s life, aside from the Bay of Pigs Invasion. But none were successful, and Castro’s revolutionary fervor remained strong throughout the years.
Castro was one of many international political figures who, following the global shifts of World War II, threw themselves into spurring movements for justice and an egalitarian society. And despite his adamantly enforced Marxist-Leninist ideals and dictatorial style of government that suppressed so many who opposed him, his popularity remained high throughout his reign.
But after the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of Soviet aid, the continued economic crisis in Cuba was hard on even those who supported Castro. It forced him to seek aid elsewhere, and forge alliances with other leaders in Latin America, namely with Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Bolivia’s Evo Morales.
In 2008, after almost 50 years as the head of his nation and amid deteriorating health, Castro passed the role of president onto his younger brother, Raul Castro, who remains in power today.
It was not until December 2014 that the US enforced restrictions on Cuba were finally lifted.
These 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked,” President Obama told the American people. “It’s time for a new approach.”
This momentous development included plans to open an embassy in Havana, expand economic ties with Cuba, and ease travel restrictions. The first step in easing tensions between the United States and Cuba included a prisoner swap between the two countries.
But the deal was reached between President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro. Fidel Castro was still nowhere to be seen.
In his final years, Castro rarely appeared in public. He assumed the role of an elder statesman, completely removing himself from any official role in Cuba’s government. After President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Cuba in March 2016, Castro penned a letter publicly criticizing the U.S. president. Obama did not meet with the former Cuban leader during his three-day visit to the island nation. [Courtesy of MercoPress News Agency en.mercopress.com/current-edition] ... See MoreSee Less
DONALD TRUMP'S VICTORY: Preconceptions, misconceptions and experts that fail to see reality
Explaining the not so quite unexplainable. Donald Trump's victory by a convincing margin left all those so called analysts who had foreseen his defeat as inevitable trying to find out how they had so spectacularly misread the world. The role of mass media under fire.
It would seem that for those professionals in the fields of evaluating world events and reporting on them for readers and viewers to become informed have shown serious deficiencies understanding the feelings of regular Americans, of those who want to work hard, keep their family safe and secure for the future, of the “real people,” not just the loud voices in wealthy cities or within the multicultural mafia in the liberal heartland of LA or New York. Tuesday's elections were decided in rural outposts and forgotten spots homes across the country.
With incumbent President Barack Obama reaching out to the Castro dictatorship in Cuba and not being strong enough against its Venezuelan clone led by Nicolás Maduro, the Hispanic vote also gave special consideration to those issues that looked to go on unresolved under a new Democrat administration. For that and for other reasons, Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States on January 20, 2017, after all.
Reuters had given Clinton a 95 per cent chance of winning. Nate Silver downgraded to a 71 per cent chance of success. And the Huffington Post said she was a shoe in at 98 per cent. These are people who are supposed to be reflecting reality back to society. It is time to think again when choosing a source on information, for those in mainstream media have enjoyed the sound of their own echo for so long they stopped listening to people in the street, labelling them as racists, xenophobes, misogynists or whatever it was needed to adjust information and reality in a “comprehensive” way.
The women who campaigned on chromosomes alone because it was time for a woman in the White House regardless of how unlikeable the candidate was or the horrors she committed in her past forgot other women who do not need to be seen as victims did back Trump. A vote against Barack Obama was explained as a vote against his skin, when it was actually his policies that failed him after eight years in office.
According to the “analysts”, all women, black Americans and Hispanics were with Clinton. There was no consideration given to the “odd” chance that people vote for policy that will make a difference to their lives, which is why Obama won the vote in his own time and which has also worked for the diametrically opposed candidate.
The forgotten Americans want policies that will make a difference: To reduce immigration and deport those migrants who fail to follow the law of the country; to prevent Islamic extremists from infiltrating the United States in the way Europe has allowed itself to be overrun and Germany has all but fallen; to make alliances with new political powerhouses and stop paying to be the policeman of the world and to make trade deals which return jobs and industry to Middle America.
But most of all, they wanted a chance to have their voices heard. “Such a beautiful and important evening! The forgotten man and woman will never be forgotten again. We will all come together as never before,” the president-elect summed up the issue.
When looked at in the face and not from the heights of newsdesks or broadcasting stations, it can be seen in the people's faces that they are sick of being told things they know are not true, tired of hearing that black lives matter when police lives seem to count for nothing, fed up of seeing migrants receive free healthcare when small business owners are fined for failing to pay Obamacare premiums which are off the chart. Fed up with having their Second Amendment rights brought into question or that the Supreme Court should fall to the liberal left.
The losing Establishment will need to take notice that they work for the people. Not the other way around.
Argentina's experience in last year's elections was somewhat similar. While the media announced a Daniel Scioli, people on social media knew Mauricio Macri had reached the presidency.
Upton Sinclair Perfected The Art Of The Misleading Media Narrative
Today is famed twentieth-century progressive muckraker Upton Sinclair’s birth anniversary. He continues to influence today’s liberal media.
By C.C. Taylor Extract from The Federalist 20th September, 2016
We often act as if media bias is some modern development of our supposedly hyperpartisan world, but it has been the norm throughout human history. What is most different about modern media bias is that the media tries to hide it under a veneer of objectivity. It has been more common for reporters to disclose their political affiliations, either outright through long relationships with readers or early on in their writings, or implicitly by working for a newspaper that openly espoused a particular political view.
Today is the birth anniversary of the famed Upton Sinclair, who in the early twentieth century paved the way for much of today’s breathless political reporting from a progressive vantage point. Let’s give an example.
The road to Abu Ghraib began, in some ways, in 2002 at Guantánamo Bay. It was there that the Bush administration began building up a worldwide military detention system, deliberately located on bases outside American soil and sheltered from public visibility and judicial review. The administration shunned the scrutiny of independent rights monitors like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. It presumed that suspected agents of terrorism did not deserve normal legal protections, and it presumed that American officials could always tell a terrorist from an innocent bystander. That was The New York Times’ editorial description, on May 7, 2004, of the terrorist detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, in Cuba. Titled “The New Iraq Crisis; The Military Archipelago,” the editorial characterized Guantanamo as the nexus of an American prison system located mostly at U.S. military bases that violated basic international norms of treating prisoners and condoned gratuitous physical and psychological brutality.
It became apparent the Times knew the reality of Guantanamo was different from its editorial description when the Obama administration took office in January 2009 and the newspaper, while continuing to call for Guantanamo to be closed, abandoned its “military archipelago” theme and largely ceased investigating what goes on there. The Bush-era opinionizing at the newspaper represented politically oriented narrative-making, something first practiced by early twentieth-century progressive writers, foremost among them Sinclair. ... See MoreSee Less
Edward Albee, considered the foremost American playwright of his generation, died yesterday at his home in Montauk, New York.
At the age of 23, when he was still struggling for recognition as a playwright, his talent was recognized by the Foreign Press Association.
In June 1961 he won the FPA’s "Best American Play" Award for his two one-act plays "The American Dream" and "The Death of Bessie Smith."
In 1963 he won the Award again, this time for "Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf." On accepting the award, Albee confessed he was not keen to see the play made into a film, however, the 1966 film adaptation of "Who's Afraid if Virginia Woolf," starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, turned the play into Albee's most famous work. ... See MoreSee Less