Heavy Rotation: 10 Songs Public Radio Can’t Stop Playing

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King Tuff’s new song, “Eyes Of The Muse,” is a World Cafe favorite.

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King Tuff's new song, Eyes Of The Muse, is a World Cafe favorite.

King Tuff’s new song, “Eyes Of The Muse,” is a World Cafe favorite.

Courtesy of the artist

Download The Songs

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King Tuff.

King Tuff, ‘Eyes Of The Muse’

  • Album: Black Moon Spell
  • Add to Playlist
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I react viscerally and immediately to music I love, and by the end of the shiny, catchy, two-guitar intro to King Tuff’s “Eye Of The Muse,” I was all in. A scuzzy mix of garage rock and power pop, it’s catnip for radio DJs in the spirit of The Who and Big Star. King Tuff is a he, not a band: Kyle Thomas has made three records as King Tuff, and the new one is called Black Moon Spell. “Eyes Of The Muse” is an irresistible blast of guitar-driven pop with wild-man, Keith Moon-esque drum parts. Please, though, don’t take it too seriously. —David Dye, World Cafe

Download “Eyes of the Muse”

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Sarah Jaffe.

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Chancha Via Circuito.

Chancha Via Circuito, ‘Coplita’

  • Album: Amansara
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  • Purchase Music

Latin American artists have mixed traditional cumbia with digital instrumentation dating back decades — as in the tecnocumbia craze of the ’90s — but Argentina’s Chancha Via Circuito helped engineer a new strain for the 21st century. From behind the decks at Buenos Aires’ Zizek Club, producer Pedro Canale joined Andean cumbia with electronic production, hip-hop and a smidge of dancehall. Later, he began burrowing deeper into indigenous and folk music (expressed beautifully in his remix of “Quimey Neuquen,” which made a cameo on Breaking Bad). Now, the artist is out with Amansara, a new album that features the haunting single “Coplita.” The song kicks its ghostly vibe up a notch with Miriam García, a vocalist Canale told the Houston Chronicle imparts “a special, ancient form of chant from the Andes.” (Western listeners might think she sounds a little like Marianne Faithfull.) Chancha Via Circuito made his name at the club, but “Coplita” doesn’t seem like dance music, exactly — think of it as a rural detour on the way to the party. —Ally Schweitzer, WAMU 88.5′s Bandwidth

Download “Coplita”

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The Gotobeds' new album, Poor People Are Revolting, comes out Sept. 2.

The Gotobeds, ‘Affection’

  • Album: Poor People Are Revolting
  • Add to Playlist
  • Purchase Music

Named for the enigmatic drummer in Wire, Pittsburgh’s Gotobeds have less in common with that band’s focused, angular minimalism than with the sloppy brilliance of Let It Be-era Replacements, the postmodern curveballs of early Pavement, or the simultaneously slack but unrelenting assault of Parquet Courts. Allegedly recorded all in one day, the band’s 11 new beer-soaked, sometimes profane and always wise-ass sociological observations ride atop entrancing subway-train grooves, caressed by waves of feedback and snaky, intertwining leads. You gotta love it. —Jim DeRogatis, Sound Opinions

Download “Affection”

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Father.

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Sugar Stems.

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Sugar Stems.

Sugar Stems.

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Hollie Cook.

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Making Movies is getting a lot of spins on Kansas City's The Bridge.

Frazey Ford.

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LeXus, ‘Blue Raspberry’

  • Album: AFTER OURS: A Love Story…
  • Add to Playlist

Alexis Hayward, a.k.a. LeXus, represents a new kind of soul artist — one influenced by ’70s RB and ’90s neo-progressive soul, but with seductively multifaceted flair. With the recent release of After Ours: A Love Story, the 20-year-old unleashes an old soul vibe that synthesizes soul, nu-jazz and nu-school hip-hop. In “Blue Raspberry,” an elegant homage to the language of love, LeXus surveys the various shades of unrequited love with delicious lyrics and enthralling, ebullient melodies and rhythms. The tune takes a percolating, left-field approach to RB that sounds both tasteful and true. —Chris Campbell, WDET’s The Progressive Underground

Download “Blue Raspberry”

Heavy Rotation is a monthly sampler of public radio hosts’ favorite songs. Check out past editions here.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2014/09/30/351420839/heavy-rotation-10-songs-public-radio-cant-stop-playing

Buenos Aires’s citizens take to the courts to save the ‘Paris of South America …

A century ago, bountiful grain and beef exports made Argentina the eighth wealthiest nation on Earth. Its per capita income exceeded by 50% that of various European countries, including Italy, and more than tripled that of Japan. An unstoppable wave of emigrants crossed the Atlantic to its main port and capital, Buenos Aires, where work was abundant and living conditions good. They arrived in their millions from Italy and Spain and in their hundreds of thousands from France, Germany, Austria and Poland.

The hope of becoming “as rich as an Argentinian” acted as such a powerful magnet that by 1914 half of the 1.6 million inhabitants of Buenos Aires had been born outside Argentina, most of them in Europe. Buenos Aires thus embarked on an architectural overhaul that turned it from a faraway former colonial outpost of the Spanish empire into a bustling, modern metropolis – a legacy that is now the subject of an increasingly bitter struggle.

“Buenos Aires was so rich that it was comparable to today’s Abu Dhabi,” says Teresa Anchorena, a former city legislator and a current member of Argentina’s national heritage commission. “It could afford to hire the best architects in the world to design buildings fit for a leading nation.”

Those European architects soon made Buenos Aires internationally known as the Paris of South America, a multicultural city with wide elegant avenues that rivalled the planet’s major capitals in cultural refinement and modern conveniences. New inventions, such as telephone lines, electric street lighting and underground railway lines, came to Buenos Aires simultaneously with major cities in the US and Europe, much of them built by British companies.

But Argentina sadly failed to live up to its early promise. Whether through inadequate economic decisions or because the wind direction of international markets turned against its export commodities, by the 1950s the country had crashed into the railings. It has since sunk to 55th position globally in per capita income, racked by decades of chronic inflation and a series of economic crises.

Turmoil hit again last month when Argentina was declared in default by international credit rating agencies after a US court ruled the nation must pay $1.3bn to foreign debt holders who refused to take a “haircut” on bonds they hold from the previous default in 2001. “When that old glory faded, the city was left with remarkable landmarks such as the Colón opera house [the third best in the world, according to National Geographic] that no longer correspond to the city’s ranking,” says Anchorena. “But at the same time that contrast is part of what makes Buenos Aires such a unique and complex, super-attractive, pulsating city today, so we should try our hardest to preserve what remains of that formidable past.”

Buenos Aires has not traditionally been concerned about preservation. Only a handful of buildings remain from the colonial years after the city’s founding in 1536 in what is now the old San Telmo tourist district. The Parisian architecture of the early 20th century has also been shrinking because of the property boom that accompanied a renewed spurt of economic growth in the last decade until 2013.

“The ideology has always been: this is America, everything needs to be new,” says Sergio Kiernan, a journalist who writes a weekly column in the daily Página/12 that chronicles the razing of old buildings. “That attitude is still prevalent in sectors of government today.” But recently a combination of specialists such as Anchorena and grassroots groups alarmed at the rapid pace of destruction have become a major headache for developers, as well as for the city’s authorities.

The unlikely hero of the heritage cause is mild-mannered music teacher Santiago Pusso. A devout Catholic, Pusso, when not teaching at the city conservatory, can be found giving music classes to deprived children at the Caacupé church in the Villa 21 slum.

In 2007 Pusso set up the tiny group Basta de Demoler (Stop the Demolition) with like-minded neighbours. They discovered the quickest way to stop demolitions was through the legal system. “We decided to go to the courts,” says Pusso. “This David and Goliath fight would be impossible otherwise.”

Among the major projects stopped by Pusso was an 18-storey hotel approved by city planners next to the church of Santa Catalina, built in 1745, whose gardens, open to the public, are an oasis of peace in the downtown area. Probably the best remaining example of Buenos Aires’s colonial-era architecture, Santa Catalina was briefly occupied by British forces during the second failed “British invasion” of Buenos Aires, led by John Whitelocke in 1807.

“Pusso is using a highly unusual tactic, by which an uninvolved third party steps in and blocks a major construction project through the courts,” says Kiernan. “Since Basta de Demoler first stopped a demolition in 2007 that way, the method has been applied by other NGOs and private citizens in a growing number of cases.”

Pusso’s already brittle relationship with city hall snapped last week when he was handed a lawsuit claiming 24m pesos (£1.7m) in damages for blocking the construction of a new subway station underneath Plaza Alvear, a landscaped 19th-century park in the upscale neighbourhood of Recoleta. The park is a main tourist attraction because of its weekend “hippie fair” and its proximity to the Recoleta church built in 1732.

Pusso had gone to the courts to protect the park. The judge ordered the city to stop the digging for the station (ancient trees were removed with the idea of replanting them once it was finished) while the court decided if the station was being built in accordance with the city’s subway legislation, which stated that it should be built on Plaza Francia, across the avenue from Plaza Alvear. The city argued that Plaza Alvear was also colloquially referred to as “Plaza Francia” while critics said the city was twisting the wording of the law to favour a shopping mall on the hill behind Plaza Alvear.

Finally the city stopped digging and announced it was moving the subway station to the nearby Buenos Aires University law school, itself a monumental city landmark built in the 1940s in a Greco-Roman pastiche style reminiscent of European fascist architecture of the period.

That appeared to be the end of the story, until the city announced it was suing Pusso. “The NGO made an abusive use of its right to seek protection through the courts,” says Buenos Aires’s attorney general, Julio Conte Grand, who filed the claim. “Its objective was political, to cause economic and political damage to the city’s government. We are suing to recover the financial loss incurred because of the delay in completing the subway station.”

The allegation of Pusso’s “political” motives is included in the legal claim, sending chills down the spine of heritage campaigners. “This is revenge. You can’t accuse Basta de Demoler of stopping the subway station: it was stopped by the judge,” says Kiernan. “It is barbaric,” agrees Anchorena. “The authorities are completely insensitive to heritage issues. They are nowhere even close to other Latin American nations such as Colombia or Mexico when it comes to preservation.”

The city government dismisses such criticism. “We have catalogued more historical buildings for preservation than any previous administration,” says Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, cabinet chief of Buenos Aires (equivalent to deputy mayor). He points to major undertakings such as the painstaking renovation of the Colón opera house (first opened in 1908) and the new Usina del Arte, an eyecatching renovation that turned an abandoned electrical works built in 1912 into a stunning arts complex in the district of La Boca.

The mayor of Buenos Aires, Mauricio Macri of the centre-right PRO party, who is narrowly leading opinion polls in the runup to next year’s presidential elections, can claim other positive advances on the heritage front. “We have turned traffic-jammed downtown streets in the historical district into pedestrian walks, breathing new life into that area,” says Rodríguez Larreta. The city has also been working hand in hand with owners of landmark buildings such as the once British-owned 1912 Gath Chávez department store in Florida Street to restore their facades.

Whatever the courts decide in the city’s lawsuit against Pusso and his group, one thing is clear. The issue of the city’s architectural heritage, long neglected by both the public and authorities, has arrived in Buenos Aires to stay.

Article source: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/27/buenos-aires-citizens-courts-paris-architecture-heritage

Buenos Aires’s citizens take to the courts to save the ‘Paris of South America …

A century ago, bountiful grain and beef exports made Argentina the eighth wealthiest nation on Earth. Its per capita income exceeded by 50% that of various European countries, including Italy, and more than tripled that of Japan. An unstoppable wave of emigrants crossed the Atlantic to its main port and capital, Buenos Aires, where work was abundant and living conditions good. They arrived in their millions from Italy and Spain and in their hundreds of thousands from France, Germany, Austria and Poland.

The hope of becoming “as rich as an Argentinian” acted as such a powerful magnet that by 1914 half of the 1.6 million inhabitants of Buenos Aires had been born outside Argentina, most of them in Europe. Buenos Aires thus embarked on an architectural overhaul that turned it from a faraway former colonial outpost of the Spanish empire into a bustling, modern metropolis – a legacy that is now the subject of an increasingly bitter struggle.

“Buenos Aires was so rich that it was comparable to today’s Abu Dhabi,” says Teresa Anchorena, a former city legislator and a current member of Argentina’s national heritage commission. “It could afford to hire the best architects in the world to design buildings fit for a leading nation.”

Those European architects soon made Buenos Aires internationally known as the Paris of South America, a multicultural city with wide elegant avenues that rivalled the planet’s major capitals in cultural refinement and modern conveniences. New inventions, such as telephone lines, electric street lighting and underground railway lines, came to Buenos Aires simultaneously with major cities in the US and Europe, much of them built by British companies.

But Argentina sadly failed to live up to its early promise. Whether through inadequate economic decisions or because the wind direction of international markets turned against its export commodities, by the 1950s the country had crashed into the railings. It has since sunk to 55th position globally in per capita income, racked by decades of chronic inflation and a series of economic crises.

Turmoil hit again last month when Argentina was declared in default by international credit rating agencies after a US court ruled the nation must pay $1.3bn to foreign debt holders who refused to take a “haircut” on bonds they hold from the previous default in 2001. “When that old glory faded, the city was left with remarkable landmarks such as the Colón opera house [the third best in the world, according to National Geographic] that no longer correspond to the city’s ranking,” says Anchorena. “But at the same time that contrast is part of what makes Buenos Aires such a unique and complex, super-attractive, pulsating city today, so we should try our hardest to preserve what remains of that formidable past.”

Buenos Aires has not traditionally been concerned about preservation. Only a handful of buildings remain from the colonial years after the city’s founding in 1536 in what is now the old San Telmo tourist district. The Parisian architecture of the early 20th century has also been shrinking because of the property boom that accompanied a renewed spurt of economic growth in the last decade until 2013.

“The ideology has always been: this is America, everything needs to be new,” says Sergio Kiernan, a journalist who writes a weekly column in the daily Página/12 that chronicles the razing of old buildings. “That attitude is still prevalent in sectors of government today.” But recently a combination of specialists such as Anchorena and grassroots groups alarmed at the rapid pace of destruction have become a major headache for developers, as well as for the city’s authorities.

The unlikely hero of the heritage cause is mild-mannered music teacher Santiago Pusso. A devout Catholic, Pusso, when not teaching at the city conservatory, can be found giving music classes to deprived children at the Caacupé church in the Villa 21 slum.

In 2007 Pusso set up the tiny group Basta de Demoler (Stop the Demolition) with like-minded neighbours. They discovered the quickest way to stop demolitions was through the legal system. “We decided to go to the courts,” says Pusso. “This David and Goliath fight would be impossible otherwise.”

Among the major projects stopped by Pusso was an 18-storey hotel approved by city planners next to the church of Santa Catalina, built in 1745, whose gardens, open to the public, are an oasis of peace in the downtown area. Probably the best remaining example of Buenos Aires’s colonial-era architecture, Santa Catalina was briefly occupied by British forces during the second failed “British invasion” of Buenos Aires, led by John Whitelocke in 1807.

“Pusso is using a highly unusual tactic, by which an uninvolved third party steps in and blocks a major construction project through the courts,” says Kiernan. “Since Basta de Demoler first stopped a demolition in 2007 that way, the method has been applied by other NGOs and private citizens in a growing number of cases.”

Pusso’s already brittle relationship with city hall snapped last week when he was handed a lawsuit claiming 24m pesos (£1.7m) in damages for blocking the construction of a new subway station underneath Plaza Alvear, a landscaped 19th-century park in the upscale neighbourhood of Recoleta. The park is a main tourist attraction because of its weekend “hippie fair” and its proximity to the Recoleta church built in 1732.

Pusso had gone to the courts to protect the park. The judge ordered the city to stop the digging for the station (ancient trees were removed with the idea of replanting them once it was finished) while the court decided if the station was being built in accordance with the city’s subway legislation, which stated that it should be built on Plaza Francia, across the avenue from Plaza Alvear. The city argued that Plaza Alvear was also colloquially referred to as “Plaza Francia” while critics said the city was twisting the wording of the law to favour a shopping mall on the hill behind Plaza Alvear.

Finally the city stopped digging and announced it was moving the subway station to the nearby Buenos Aires University law school, itself a monumental city landmark built in the 1940s in a Greco-Roman pastiche style reminiscent of European fascist architecture of the period.

That appeared to be the end of the story, until the city announced it was suing Pusso. “The NGO made an abusive use of its right to seek protection through the courts,” says Buenos Aires’s attorney general, Julio Conte Grand, who filed the claim. “Its objective was political, to cause economic and political damage to the city’s government. We are suing to recover the financial loss incurred because of the delay in completing the subway station.”

The allegation of Pusso’s “political” motives is included in the legal claim, sending chills down the spine of heritage campaigners. “This is revenge. You can’t accuse Basta de Demoler of stopping the subway station: it was stopped by the judge,” says Kiernan. “It is barbaric,” agrees Anchorena. “The authorities are completely insensitive to heritage issues. They are nowhere even close to other Latin American nations such as Colombia or Mexico when it comes to preservation.”

The city government dismisses such criticism. “We have catalogued more historical buildings for preservation than any previous administration,” says Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, cabinet chief of Buenos Aires (equivalent to deputy mayor). He points to major undertakings such as the painstaking renovation of the Colón opera house (first opened in 1908) and the new Usina del Arte, an eyecatching renovation that turned an abandoned electrical works built in 1912 into a stunning arts complex in the district of La Boca.

The mayor of Buenos Aires, Mauricio Macri of the centre-right PRO party, who is narrowly leading opinion polls in the runup to next year’s presidential elections, can claim other positive advances on the heritage front. “We have turned traffic-jammed downtown streets in the historical district into pedestrian walks, breathing new life into that area,” says Rodríguez Larreta. The city has also been working hand in hand with owners of landmark buildings such as the once British-owned 1912 Gath Chávez department store in Florida Street to restore their facades.

Whatever the courts decide in the city’s lawsuit against Pusso and his group, one thing is clear. The issue of the city’s architectural heritage, long neglected by both the public and authorities, has arrived in Buenos Aires to stay.

Article source: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/27/buenos-aires-citizens-courts-paris-architecture-heritage

‘Black-ish’: Horrible Parody of Black Family Life

I cringed when I saw the name and promos for Black-ish. But, I tried to reserve judgment until I saw it. And sure enough, its premise and the actual show is as offensive as its name.

First, the idea that there is only one essential way of being “black” is incredibly problematic. The sad thing is that they think of themselves and bill themselves as a modern day Cosby Show.

The amazing thing that shows like the Cosby Show and A Different World was that they showed the incredible diversity of African Americans. They showed our humanity and how just like every other group of human beings, we are influenced in our personal development by not only our racial identifiers, but also by our socio-economic, educational, geographic, religious and familial realities. That’s how you got diverse characters like Whitley, Duane, Kimberly Reece, Freddie Brooks, Lena James and sidekick, Ron – all totally different, all undeniably black.

What Black-ish misses and what those shows embraced, is that one of the primary things that unite black people is this country is that regardless of socio-economic status, skin complexion and other life choices, black folks in America have a shared history and current reality of struggling against stereotypes, institutional and legislative racism, and continued barriers precisely because we continue to be judged by the color of our skin, more than by the content of our character and the uniqueness of our journey.

Black-ish serves to validate the stereotypes that “keeping it real” means that all black people play the same sports, live in one type of neighborhood or that “fried, fried chicken” is a “black thing,” rather than perhaps a southern thing. It questions whether the bi-racial mother is “really black” at all. Who gets to decide that?

The sad thing is that the producers, writers and actors seem to miss is that it is not fried chicken or playing basketball that defines who 10 million diverse black people are. If there is an essential black culture, it must involve knowing the history and struggle, triumphs and major milestones of these people you seek to portray.

Black children not knowing the implications and historical relevance of President Obama’s election is not funny. Too many people marched, fought, bled, died, legislated, were beaten, brutalized for any American not to understand the importance of his election. Perhaps the problem is not where this imaginary family lives, but that these imaginary black parents have not taken the time to discuss the important and real challenges and victories of African American life today.

The show ends with what is supposed to be a heartwarming, comic ending of the black son having a “bro mitzvah,” where the whole black family dresses up in Run DMC ’80s rapper gear and they break dance and take pictures indicating that that is the black version of a bar mitzvah.

The son says he is happy to convert to Judaism and forsake his own religion (whatever that is), in order to have a bar mitzvah party. There is a subsequent scene where they mock the idea of an African rites of passage.

The juxtaposition of the pride taken in Jewish culture with the complete lack of context for the historical place of true African rites of passage programs that are far richer than the joke Black-ish makes them out to be or the historical place of the black church which has produced voices such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is striking. When the son is asked if he would give up his religion and convert for a bar mitvah party, he eagerly replies yes. This diminishes and undermines both the important religious and cultural significance of the Jewish experience and the historical and cultural experience of African Americans in this country while mocking African heritage and pride, all in one fell swoop.

Sadly, these uniformed writers, create a father character whose deep concern about his children understanding their black heritage centers on things like his son playing basketball, while having a complete lack of focus on historical and cultural markers that make many African Americans proud of the common heritage we share. There is no sophisticated analysis or understanding of how the paradigm set up by this show is the exact stereotype many of us are fighting against.

The father rails against his son playing field hockey because it is thought to be a white sport and he doesn’t want his son to become a “white boy.” Well, before Arthur Ashe and the Williams sisters, tennis was thought to be a “white” sport. Before Tiger Woods, golf was just seen as a “white” sport. And I could go on. The history of black people in America is making the point that, “We, too, sing America,” and we are capable of playing any sport and participating in any field we want – just like every other person.

I once heard a Chicago preacher named Sean McMillan, say in his sermon that, “Every black mother and father is a freedom fighter, fighting for the psychic, emotional and physical space for their children to truly be free.” That is the core of the African American experience.

By highlighting the beauty and richness and proud heritage of African Americans by wearing HBCU shirts and talking about their rich heritage, showcasing black art and music, having the whole family sit and watch Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream Speech” – all within the context of everyday life, The Cosby Show showed what it really meant to be a black family in America. They never had to yell, “We are black-ish!”

They were just a family whose pride of heritage was interwoven in everything they did. And they were fighting, as many of us are still fighting, to create a world where our children can be anything they want to be while always remembering who they are, where they come from and the unique bond that African Americans still share as we continue to struggle against being made out as the joke and minstrel of America; and who somehow, in spite of shows like Black-ish, find ways to maintain our dignity, honor our elders, show our children that they don’t have to take on and parody someone else’s heritage and readily give up their own religion, history and faith in an effort to gain ratings while betraying all that we are and have been as black people in America.

Article source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frances-cudjoe-waters/blackish-horrible-parody-_b_5882622.html

American Honors America West, the Airline That Took Over the World

PHOENIX (
TheStreet) — The first heritage airplane in the
American Airlines
(AAL) fleet will be a symbol of CEO Doug Parker’s own heritage — an America West airplane.

America West is where Parker assembled the team that in the brief span of a dozen years managed to put together the biggest airline in the world.

As CEO of US Airways, Parker understood that airline employees often treasure their heritage, a realization that many in the airline industry seemed to ignore. Parker authorized painting US Airways A319s in the colors of four predecessors: Allegheny, America West, Piedmont and PSA.

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Parker brought the concept to American following its 2013 merger with US Airways, and he discusses it in his column, published in the August issues of in-flight magazines at American and US Airways. Parker writes of his plans to paint the aircraft over the next few years.

“As we move forward, we will remember to embrace our past,” Parker wrote. “We plan to paint some ‘heritage’ aircraft — modern planes painted with logos from the past from airlines that have formed today’s American.

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“Already, we are flying jets with paint schemes from PSA, Piedmont, America West and Allegheny, and in the future we plan to introduce TWA, Reno Air and ­AirCal aircraft, while keeping one plane in the US ­Airways livery,” Parker said.

“We have team members that began their careers at each of these carriers working for American today,” he said. “They are proud of their heritage, and we are proud to have them on the American Airlines team.”

The first heritage airplane (pictured) in the American fleet, as distinct from the current US Airways fleet, is an Airbus A319, with tail number N838AW. Painting was completed on Aug. 31, and it has operated on flights serving the Charlotte and Washington Reagan National hubs.

Next in line for the American fleet is a PSA heritage aircraft, said spokesman Matt Miller. Painting should be completed this month, he said.

America West Airlines, founded by airline entrepreneur Ed Beauvais and a team he assembled, started in Phoenix in 1981 and flew its first flight in 1983. America West “was one of the few post-deregulation startups not to shut down,” according to the book “American Airlines, US Airways, and the Creation of the World’s Largest Airline,” by Dan Reed and me, which will be published by McFarland Co. in November.

Article source: http://www.thestreet.com/story/12887310/1/american-honors-america-west-the-airline-that-took-over-the-world.html

Big Oil’s heirs join call for action as climate summit opens

For 140 years, the Rockefellers were the oil industry’s first family, scions of a business empire that spawned companies called Exxon, Mobil, Amoco and Chevron. So it was no trivial matter when a group of Rockefeller heirs decided recently to begin severing financial ties to fossil fuels.

“There is a moral imperative to preserve a healthy planet,” said Valerie Rockefeller Wayne, a great-great-granddaughter of oil magnate John D. Rockefeller Sr. and a trustee of the largest charitable foundation in which the family still plays the leading role.

On Monday, the foundation, known as the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, will formally announce plans to begin divesting itself of fossil-fuel stocks, citing concerns about climate change. The symbolic cutting of ties to a key part of the family’s heritage is being timed with the start of another symbolism-laden event: a gathering of world leaders to grapple with the environmental consequences of decades of fossil-fuel burning.

President Obama will join heads of state from more than 120 countries Tuesday at an unusual climate summit convened by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The meeting in New York is aimed at persuading governments to do more to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in the face of new evidence of an accelerating buildup of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The high-level gathering — the biggest since a troubled round of international climate negotiations in Copenhagen five years ago — is likely to underscore the diplomatic and political difficulties ahead as the governments seek to hammer out a treaty limiting global greenhouse-gas emissions by late next year. The Obama administration separately faces tough negotiations with overseas trading partners China and India over proposed cuts in fossil-fuel burning, while also defending its climate policies against attacks from Republican opponents in Washington.

But the perception of halting progress on climate politics stands in sharp contrast with an increasingly energetic movement that will be on display on the summit’s periphery. An unlikely coalition of groups — including corporate executives, philanthropists and urban planners — are in New York this week to showcase practical steps being implemented to address the causes of climate change and mitigate its effects.

Entrepreneurs and businesses will promote technology breakthroughs that are making wind and solar power competitive with more traditional energy sources in some parts of the country. And investors and foundations with collective holdings in the tens of billions of dollars will formally join a global ­“divest-invest” movement that seeks to shift capital from fossil-fuel extraction to renewable energy.

New participants in the movement, such as the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, say their decision reflects not only concerns about the environment but also a belief that renewables are becoming an increasingly sound investment at a time of growing uncertainty about the future of fossil fuels such as coal.

“The action we’re taking is symbolism, but it is important symbolism,” said Stephen Heintz, president of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, which controls nearly $900 million in assets. “We’re making a moral case, but also, increasingly, an economic case.”

The summit’s formal events are playing out against a boisterous backdrop that includes thousands of activists and protesters. On Sunday, a crowd estimated by organizers at more than 300,000 marched through central Manhattan in what was believed to be the biggest climate-related demonstration ever held. The massive rally, which was mirrored by smaller protests in other cities around the globe, drew not only environmental activists but also college students, labor groups, A-list Hollywood celebrities such as actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo, and politicians including New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D).

“Our mission is to make this a decisive moment and a turning-point moment, and I felt today that I was seeing history starting to be made,” de Blasio told reporters.

But several key names are missing from this week’s summit. China, the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, will be represented by its vice premier, Zhang Gaoli, rather than President Xi Jinping. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi likewise will skip the gathering, although he is expected to discuss climate change during an official visit to the White House this month. Several European governments are being represented by foreign ministers or other senior cabinet officers.

The absences of the heads of state of some of the world’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gases has led skeptics of the U.N. climate treaty process to belittle the New York gathering as a meaningless exercise in public relations.

“President Obama has pledged to be at the Summit. The leaders of China, India, Australia, Germany, Canada, among others, have better things to do,” Patrick Michaels, a climatologist at the Cato Institute, a libertarian-leaning think tank, wrote in a blog post last week.

The Obama administration is seeking to use the summit to showcase its achievements in reducing U.S. carbon emissions while publicly urging other countries to do more. The White House will tout efforts to raise fuel-economy standards for the automotive industry and reduce pollution from coal-burning utilities, as well as more recent, voluntary initiatives to encourage investment in solar energy and phase out production of the heat-trapping hydrofluorocarbons widely used in air conditioners.

“We are taking the summit seriously, both to show the world that the United States is committed to leading the fight against climate change and to call on other leaders to do the same,” White House counselor John Podesta told reporters last week.

While acknowledging formidable challenges in international climate negotiations as well as from a skeptical Congress, administration officials say they plan a more aggressive push in the weeks ahead. Adding urgency, the officials said, are new scientific findings that show record growth in concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, along with new evidence of changes in weather patterns and ocean chemistry. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported last week that, despite unusually cool weather in the eastern United States, global average temperatures over the summer were the highest since detailed record-keeping began in the 1880s, putting 2014 on a track for being the hottest year in historical time.

“Across the country and around the world, people are grappling with drought and wildfires and severe weather,” Podesta said. “So we don’t have time to dabble in climate denial.”

The increased emphasis on climate change also reflects shifting political realities. While large majorities in Congress — including nearly all Republicans and many leading Democrats — have voiced opposition to binding international treaties on greenhouse-gas emissions, opinion polls have shown growing concern over climate change in a year in which the Northeast continues to repair the damage from 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, while the country’s western half wilts under epic heat and record droughts.

“The administration is beginning to see a large political opportunity as the GOP appears stuck in what I call ‘climate nihilism,’ ” said Paul Bledsoe, a former Clinton White House climate aide who is now a senior fellow on energy at the German Marshall Fund. “On both political and policy grounds, they see a need to be aggressive and to prompt popular activism and international action.”

The shifting politics is partially a reflection of a transformation in the priorities and tactics of environmental groups leading the fight for more aggressive climate policies. Once dominated by legal, legislative and regulatory strategists, the major envi­ronmental organizations have poured money into local politics while also attempting to broaden their base, encouraging people at local levels to engage in civil disobedience as well as fund-raising and legal action.

The green movement was galvanized by the fight over the proposed Keystone Pipeline, as activists, led by Middlebury College professor Bill McKibben, seized on the controversy to mobilize college students and encourage divestment to block construction of the proposed conduit that would transfer crude from Canadian oil sands to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico.

Other major groups, such as the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council, have increasingly promoted citizen activism to protest coal-burning projects. On the electoral front, the League of Conservation Voters plans to spend $25 million in this election cycle, five times as much as than it did in the 2010 midterm elections, with much of the money going to state contests.

Key industries also have shown increased sensitivity to climate politics, agreeing in some cases to work with the Obama administration in adopting voluntary curbs on emissions. On Monday, the State Department will trumpet an initiative that commits companies to taking further steps to reduce methane emissions from oil and natural gas operations. In the 10 months since State Department officials first approached energy firms about its Climate and Clean Air Coalition Oil and Gas Methane Partnership, six have agreed to take part, including Southwestern Energy, the fourth-largest U.S. natural gas producer, as well as the British firm BG Group and Norway’s Statoil.

“We believe that it’s much better that the companies are proactive,” said Helge Lund, chief executive of Statoil. “In that way, perhaps we’ll be able to impact the direction so we can have as rational and market-based solutions as possible.”

The recent decisions by energy firms and elite financial organizations have helped reinforce perceptions of a cultural shift, even though the divest movement has not significantly altered the course of big oil and gas companies that remain convinced that the increasing appetite for energy in rapidly developing nations will outpace any increase in renewable energy. Still, on the eve of the U.N. summit, leaders of the divest-invest initiative prepared to release a long list of new participants in a campaign that now includes 180 institutions and local governments as well as nearly 700 individuals, collectively representing $50 billion in assets. Billionnaire hedgefund manager Tom Steyer will formally join the movement on Monday, sources familar with the decision said.

Of the many additions, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund stood out because of historical ties to one of the world’s great oil empires.

Wayne, the Rockefeller descendant now on the fund’s board of trustees, said her foundation would first divest its assets from industries involved in coal and tar-sands mining, followed by a more gradual disengagement from other fossil-fuel stocks. Some family members continue to hold stock in Exxon Mobil — a modern descendant of the Standard Oil company co-founded by her great-great-grandfather in the 1870s — and several have used their status as shareholders to launch proxy campaigns to encourage the company to adopt more environmentally friendly policies, Wayne said.

“This is part of a natural progression for us,” said Wayne, who marched Sunday with her three children in the pre-summit demonstration in New York.

Wayne said she felt certain that her famous ancestor would approve. In their lifetimes, both the Standard Oil founder and his son, the philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr., were ardent supporters of conservation causes, purchasing huge swaths of ranch land and donating them to the federal government to create some of America’s first wilderness preserves for future generations to enjoy.

If the elder Rockefeller were alive today, she said, he would be “investing in alternative energy sources and renewables right now.”

Article source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/big-oils-heirs-join-call-for-action-as-climate-summit-opens/2014/09/21/ab27b1ce-40ea-11e4-b0ea-8141703bbf6f_story.html

Hispanic Heritage Month: How Hispanics Are Defining and Redefining America

Recent debates surround the “Browning of America” — the continuous reshaping of America and its Hispanic influence. Yet many of us fail to grapple that America has always been Hispanic. In fact, according to the 2011 Census Bureau, one out of every six people in the United States is Hispanic. In 2010, the New York Times reported for the first time in our country’s rich history that we had more brown and black children being born than white, yet despite this astonishing information, many Americans are confused as to who Hispanics really are.

For many of us, Hispanics are envisioned as migrant workers, cheap laborers with leaf blowers, non-English-speaking individuals or any number of media driven portrayals (and of course there are Cesar Chavez, Jennifer Lopez and Ricky Martin). The blending of various Hispanics’ identities, cultures, traditions and lifestyles makes America culturally Hispanic without many of us even realizing it.

What mainstream Americans have failed to realize is that Hispanics have played and will continue to play a crucial role in our nation. Hispanics have contributed to every avenue of American life since the inception of this country. Hispanics’ origins have played a key role in our country’s socio-economic, political, and cultural development that many argue: What would America would be like without the presence of Hispanics and their influence?

Hispanic culture can be traced in the United States for over 500 years when California, Mexican states, Florida and the Southwest were discovered by Spanish explorers. Many of us are unaware that Hispanic culture had firm roots in St. Augustine, Florida and what is now New Mexico before the English arrived at Jamestown in 1607 or before the Pilgrims dropped anchor in Massachusetts Bay in 1621. Hispanic culture and political development flourished well before the Founding Fathers envisioned the idea of securing their independence from Britain in 1776. Not only did Hispanic culture help shape and define America’s early political development, but they have also played an important role in helping to secure the birth of the new republic: AMERICA.

During the American Revolutionary War, Bernardo de Galvez, governor of the Louisiana Territory, sent gunpowder, rifles, bullets, blankets, medicine and other supplies to the armies of General George Washington in support of America’s cause. Once the war began, Galvez, along with support and reinforcements from Spain’s Cuba, Mexico and Puerto Rico.

What would our country’s political history be without Hispanics? What would Manifest Destiny and America’s expansion be without the role of Hispanics and the carving of America’s great Western frontier? The Hispanic presence in the election of President James Polk in 1844 and his future policy of annexation of Texas, the stolen land, the creation of the artificial border, the Alamo, the great Southwest, and the Compromise of 1850 all help define our American history. What would America be like without the importance of The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican War, where the United States gained not only Texas, New Mexico and Upper California, making way for the vast expansion of American land, but also a cultural history like no other? Our Civil War would not be the same without the presence of Hispanics, often removed from our history books. Some 20,000 Hispanics fought in the Civil War, some serving in the 1st Florida Cavalry, others serving in the Union forces in Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts. From the first battle in Fort Sumter to the last battle in Palmito Ranch, Texas, their allegiance served in America’s defining war over the issue of slavery. Hispanics have always met the challenge of serving America with commitment and admiration in the midst of the great American Split.

The Spanish-American war not only changed America, but announced America as a world power. Our influence in Latin America and our political games with the region not only created an illusion of a fake and misleading democracy, but more so created more enemies. “Imperialism” became the new name for “colonialism.” Our political foreign policy during pre- and post-Fidel Castro’s Cuba helped define our Cold War foreign policy with Latin America and the rest of the world. It also played an important role in defining what it meant to be an “American.” The Viva Kennedy Movement helped elect one of America’s promising leaders, John F. Kennedy, as well as the election and recent re-election of America’s first African American president. Without the Hispanic vote, this feat would not have been possible.

What would our history be without the struggle for Civil Rights, equality, and guaranteed rights under the constitution of the United States? Very few understand the importance of Mendez v. Westminster in 1947, which the US Courts of Appeals ruled that segregation of Mexican American children from the public schools system in California was unconstitutional and violated the 14th Amendment, it paved the way for the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954.

Dr. Hector P. Garcia, the civil rights leader of the Hispanic movement, his achievements remains silent but of great importance as he fought peacefully for the dismantling of segregation signs, racism and discrimination in many Mexican American communities in the great Southwest in the 1940s and 1950s. From his creation of the Mexican American GI Forum in 1948, to his appointment as United States Ambassador to the United Nations, to the first Mexican American to be given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Ronald Reagan in 1984. His ideology and commitment towards justice for all later became the cornerstone for Dr. Martin L. King and the African American Struggle for Civil Rights in the 1960s.

What would our first African American president campaign slogan “Yes We Can” be like without the Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta who coined the term “Sí, se puede” in the 1972 during the farm workers strike? Without the Hispanic struggle for economic equality, the term may not have had any importance.

From the Cuban rhythms in South Florida to the Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Peruvians, Central Americans, Bolivians, Colombians and other cultural influences in New York City, Chicago and Boston to the Mexican culture found in the great Southwest, Texas and California, America’s cultural history would not be the same. What would happen to the major philosophical question “what happen to the dinosaurs?” Without Hispanic physicist Luis Alvarez’s theory on the asteroid that destroyed the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago, that frequently asked question would still be unanswered. What would America’s past time, baseball, be without the Hispanic influence helping change and define the game? From Roberto Clemente to the greatest hitter of all time, Ted Williams and his Hispanic background? Yes, his mother was Mexican, and though he shied away from the fact of his Hispanic heritage, many argue that it would affect his status and playing career.

Our Goya food brand which has now become an integral part of American food culture, from its humble beginnings in lower Manhattan, New York, to every major city in the world. It announced the Hispanic presence in our homes and communities despite our ethnic background. What would the ever changing American music be without the influence of Hispanics? From Jose Feliciano reminding us of “Feliz Navidad” to Celia Cruz, Carlos Santana defining much of the ’60s and ’70s to ever present Hispanic musical trend that embraces the great Southwest, West Coast, Midwest to the East Coast that continues to define who we are as Americans.

America must make the first move to acknowledge and respect the contributions of Hispanics in every aspect of our society. Hispanics are fast becoming the new foundation of our country’s economic, political and social-cultural power and based on their promise, no other immigrant group in the history of our great nation has this potential.

Stephen Balkaran is an Instructor in the Department of Philosophy Political Science at Quinnipiac University.

Article source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-balkaran/hispanic-heritage-month-b_b_5848568.html