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Launching a new Christmas lighting competition

Previously a main feature of the Christmas Festival program aimed at bringing back and giving a colourful attraction to the festivities of years ago the Tourism Division, under the portfolio of the Office of the Premier is hosting a ‘Christmas Lighting Competition’, according to them, “in an effort to boost the Christmas spirit and to give residents the chance to showcase their creativity.”

 A release from the Government Information Unit announced on Thursday: “The ‘Christmas Lighting Competition’ is an added element of the recently introduced ‘Christmas Decoration Exemption’ programme.  The programme waives the customs’ duties and consumption tax on the importation of items such as LED electrical Christmas light; low energy laser decorative spot light; solar powered Christmas light; Christmas tree and Christmas decorations, which arrive on the island between November 1 to December 24, 2018.”

The ‘Christmas Decoration Exemption’ programme encourages energy efficient Christmas decorations which will help to keep electricity prices down for persons wishing to beautify their homes and businesses during the festive season, while at the same time allowing them to be as creative as possible. 

The Tourism Division is therefore encouraging householders and businesses to participate in the ‘Christmas Lighting Competition’ as this will help to beautify the island for the season, while giving participants the opportunity to win exciting prizes. 

The division is expected to publish later, more information on the competition including the rules, judging criteria, prizes and themes.

Posted in Entertainment, Local, News0 Comments

earthquake-and-flooding

Amid Flood Disaster in Trinidad & Tobago, Earthquakes Hit

An aerial view of the flooding in sections of Trinidad (left) and the location
of one of two quakes that struck off the twin-island republic over the weekend.


BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Monday October 22, 2018
– Two earthquakes struck off Trinidad and Tobago within 24 hours over the weekend, as the twin-island republic was dealing with massive flooding that caused destruction in some sections of the country and led Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to declare a national disaster.

There were no reports of any injuries as a result of the quakes, however.

According to the University of the West Indies (UWI) Seismic Research Centre, the first, smaller one occurred on Saturday, around 4:41 p.m. That magnitude 4.2 tremor struck 92 km south of Barbados’ capital, Bridgetown; 166 km northeast of Scarborough, Trinidad and Tobago; and 191 km southeast of Kingstown, St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Then on Sunday afternoon, at approximately 12:35 p.m., a 5.1 magnitude quake was recorded 78 km northeast of Scarborough, Trinidad and Tobago; 161 km northeast of Arima, Trinidad and Tobago; and 181 km northeast of the capital, Port of Spain.

 

In both instances, there were reports of residents of Trinidad and Tobago feeling the tremor. But the focus there was on the massive flooding that resulted from days of heavy rainfall that started on Friday.

Works Minister Rohan Sinanan said the country had received the equivalent of one month’s rainfall in a three-day period.

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Several homes were flooded out, and residents were trapped on roofs and on top partially-submerged vehicles as they sought to escape the rising flood waters.

Some of the severe flooring stemmed from the overflowing of the Caroni River.

Both disaster officials and residents used boats and dinghies to get the marooned residents to safety and deliver food and other supplies to areas inundated by flood waters.

“This is a national disaster, the flooding is quite widespread and quite severe and it is going to cost a lot of money to bring relief to people who have been affected,” Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said on Saturday after touring some of the affected areas.

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“Notwithstanding whatever shortages we are experiencing we will have to find the resources to help,” he added.

He said he would seek Cabinet’s approval to get TT$25 million (US$3.7 million) to assist those affected by the floods.

Posted in Climate/Weather, Earthquake, Entertainment, Featured, News0 Comments

CNET

Facebook breach put data of 50 million users at risk

The vulnerability had to do with the social network’s “view as” feature.

by

Facebook on Friday said a breach affected 50 million people on the social network. 

The vulnerability stemmed from Facebook’s “view as” feature, which lets people see what their profiles look like to other people. Attackers exploited code associated with the feature that allowed them to steal “access tokens” that could be used to take over people’s accounts. 

While access tokens aren’t your password, they allow people to log in to accounts without needing it. Facebook also said later Friday that the breach also affected third-party apps that you have linked to your Facebook account, including Instagram. As a precautionary measure, Facebook logged about 90 million people out of their accounts, the company said.

The social network said it discovered the attack earlier this week. The company has informed the FBI and the Irish Data Protection Commission. Facebook said the investigation is in the early stages and it doesn’t yet know who was behind the attacks. 

“This is a really serious security issue,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on a conference call with reporters Friday. “This underscores there are just constant attacks from people who are trying to take over accounts and steal information from our community. This is going to be an ongoing effort.” 

The news comes as Facebook has been under intense scrutiny for its ability to keep the data of its more than 2 billion users safe. The company is still reeling from its Cambridge Analytica scandal in March, in which a UK-based digital consultancy harvested the personal information of 87 million Facebook users.

The vulnerability disclosed on Friday came from a change issued in July 2017, when Facebook pushed a feature that prompted people to upload “Happy Birthday” videos, Facebook vice president of product management said on the call. The company is still investigating the attack, and doesn’t know how much information was stolen or who is behind the hack. Because it was access tokens stolen and not passwords, Facebook said that affected users don’t need to change their security settings, including their passwords.

Access tokens are a set of code granted to a user after logging in for the first time. They’re often used across websites so that you don’t have to log back in every time you go to a page. Facebook uses them for logins, and allows for secure access without needing a password.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, “This is a really serious security issue.”

James Martin

Attackers carried out their attack with a series of steps that let them hop, skip and jump their way into generating access tokens for millions of Facebook users. They started by viewing a Facebook profile they had access to as another user. The “view as” feature is meant to allow users to see how their profile looks to the public or specific friends based on their privacy settings. 

But when hackers viewed a Facebook profile as another user, sometimes the tool for posting a birthday video would appear. That shouldn’t have happened, but did at times because of a bug, according to Facebook. Then, because of yet another bug affecting the video tool, hackers were able to generate an access token for the targeted user, giving them access to the user’s account.

With the access token, hackers had control over the user’s account. They could then “pivot,” Rosen said, and view their victim’s account as yet another user. Then they would repeat the process and generate an access token for that user, too.

The hackers were able to dramatically scale up this multi-step attack, so much so that Facebook noticed an unusual spike in user activity in Septermber and began investigating, Rosen said.

Fatemeh Khatibloo, an analyst at Forrester who focuses on consumer privacy, said in an email it appeared Facebook contained the damage from the breach at an early stage. She added that users probably heard about it sooner than they would have since new privacy regulations came into effect in the European Union earlier this year. The General Data Protection Regulation requires companies to tell users about a data breach no more than 72 hours after learning of it themselves.

“GDPR has forced [Facebook]’s hand in reporting the breach much earlier than they perhaps would have liked, and before they understand the full scope,” Khatibloo said.

Debra Farber, senior director of privacy strategy at tech firm BigID, said the increased speed in reporting data breaches will have a positive long-term effect for the company. “It may not be today or tomorrow, but such actions are sure to engender significantly more trust,” she said. BigID helps companies comply with privacy regulations.

The breach has also led to more criticism from lawmakers, who have already discussed introducing regulation to rein in big tech companies.

“A full investigation should be swiftly conducted and made public so that we can understand more about what happened,” Sen. Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia, said in a statement. “Today’s disclosure is a reminder about the dangers posed when a small number of companies like Facebook or the credit bureau Equifax are able to accumulate so much personal data about individual Americans without adequate security measures.”

As news spread of the data breach Friday, Facebook’s own platform blocked users from posting two articles about the hacking attack. One article was by the Guardian and the other was by the AP. Facebook confirmed that its system was blocking the articles, saying it was an error. “We fixed the issue as soon as we were made aware of it, and people should be able to share both articles,” the company said in a statement. “We apologize for the inconvenience.”

Facebook has been without a chief security officer since Alex Stamos Facebook security chief departing company for Stanford in August to teach and do research at Stanford University. His departure took place during a larger reorganization of the company’s security team that was ongoing when the cybersecurity attack began. 

The departmental shifts made the cybersecurity team stronger, Rosen said. “If anything, we think this means we were able to find and address this faster,” he said.

First published September 28, 9:52 a.m. PT.
Update, 2:52 p.m. PT: Adds information from a follow-up conference call with Facebook.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Entertainment, Featured, International, Local, News, Regional, Science/Technology, Technology0 Comments

katrice grad 2018

Fenton Tops 2018 CXC CSEC

Katrice Fenton is the Salutatorian for the 2018 Montserrat Secondary School. She has been named as the top student in this year’s CSEC Examinations. Congratulations are well in order for Katrice and her runner-up Shekanah Irish.

Also in news out of the UK – Danae Daley topped our locals with eight Grade 1s and three Grade 2s, upset because she didn’t get a Grade 1 in music, especially she plays at up to two R C churches sometimes on Sundays.

According to a statement from the Ministry of Education, Fenton successfully passed 10 subjects with eight at Grade one level and two at Grade two.

Shekanah Irish

53 students wrote the CSEC exams in May/June. There were 352 subject entries in the 2018 CSEC Examinations at General and Technical Proficiency Levels. Based on the provisional results Grades I – III passes were obtained in 256 of them yielding a pass rate of 73% down from the 75.8% obtained in 2017.

Of the 22 subject proficiencies taken at CXC CSEC examinations, 100% passes were recorded in 11 of them namely: Principles of Business, Agriculture SA, Industrial Technology Building, Industrial Technology Electrical, Information Technology, Technical Drawing, Electronic Document Management and Preparation (EDPM), Principles of Accounts, Geography, Additional Mathematics and Physical Education (PE).
Pass rates ranging from 90% to 97% were recorded for Office Administration, Physics and Chemistry. While Biology recorded a pass rate of 86%. Modern Foreign Languages recorded pass rates of 78% and 73% for Spanish and French respectively. Social Studies English B and Integrated Science returned pass rates below 50%.

A pass rate of 66.7% was recorded for English A, similar to that obtained in 2016. Math recorded a 47% pass rate down from the 56.9% pass rate obtained in the 2017 exams.

Notable student performances in the examinations are set out below:
Passes in ten subject areas were obtained by:
Katrice Fenton – eight Grade 1s; two Grade 2s
Passes in nine subject areas were obtained by:
Shekanah Irish – six Grade 1s; three Grade 2s

Kijahrie Barzey, Yanick Henry, Jaide Holder, Shenika Jarvis, Sydni Lee-Buffonge, Rhoniil Lewis, Eldina O’Garro, Jayden Ryan, Shaynae Taylor Lee each recorded passes in eight subject areas.

Eight students recorded passes in seven subject areas, four students recorded passes in 6 subject areas while 5five students passed 5 subjects.

A key indicator for the Ministry of Education is the percentage of students in the year five cohort who obtain five or more CSEC passes including English and Math. This year 43% the year five cohort obtained Five plus CSEC passes including Math and English. This performance is a notable 6%, an improvement on the 37% obtained in 2017.

The school extended congratulations to the students who were successful, to their parents for their support and to the teachers for their hard work and dedication. The school also thanked members of the community who assisted by tutoring students in the absence of their substantive teachers.

Posted in Entertainment, Local, News, Regional, Youth0 Comments

Jaden Sun

Special Day Trip to Guadweloupe reported a success

The Access Division, reports that under the portfolio of the Office of the Premier, embarked on a special daytrip to Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe on Saturday July 28th, with more than 80 passengers. 

Jaden Sun

Highlighting the fact that they do not advertise with The Montserrat Reporter, the report states as follows: “Following months of promotions on Radio Montserrat (ZJB), ZDK Radio in Antigua and social media posts, 130 persons registered for the day trip.  87 of those registered took to the seas, via MV Jaden Sun, alongside Marketing Officer in the Tourism Division, Cherise Aymer and a Nurse Nadine Sweeney from the Glendon Hospital. 

Jaden Sun

While in Guadeloupe, there was a plaque exchange between a representative of the Mayor of Pointe a Pitre, Cherise Aymer and Captain Elvis Gooding of MV Jaden Sun.  As part of the activities, some persons had pre-arranged tours to the Botanical Gardens, Rum Factory and Waterfall, Rainforest, the Zoo and Chocolate factory. Meanwhile, others chose to explore Pointe a Pitre city on their own, where they took in the sites, cultural performances and retail therapy.

Based on feedback survey forms completed by the passengers on board the ferry 63% of the responders expressed that they had a good experience on the Jaden Sun and the service provided by the crew.  All passengers that completed the survey commented that they would participate in another day excursion organised by the Access Division.  Although the majority of persons are requesting a follow-up overnight trip in the near future to Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe, there is also a huge demand for visits to St. Maarten or Martinique.

The journey took approximately four (4) hours each way.

The Access Division expresses heartfelt gratitude to the authorities in Pointe a Pitre, Montserrat Border controls, the Ministry of Health, Captain and crew of MV Jaden Sun and all of our valued customers who made this day trip possible.”

In an observation and following up on TMR’s earlier questions and suggestion we wonder how many readers of TMR both online and in print did not know of the trip to Guadeloupe. Meanwhile among other queries, how come with the huge St. Kitts/Nevis support of festivals in Montserrat, no reciprocity is offered when St. Kitts/Nevis are having their festivals for residents in Montserrat and Antigua to take a trip to celebrate with the neighbors across the waters.

We trust that those read

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Government reviewing dress code

Government reviewing dress code

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Aug 15, CMC – Less than a week after the Jamaica government announced it had suspended the no sleeveless policy after reviewing the longstanding practice of prohibiting women wearing sleeveless attire from entry into government buildings, another Caribbean island is following suit.

The Antigua and Barbuda government said it had appointed Social Transformation Minister Samantha Marshall to undertake a comprehensive review of the policy that prohibits people from wearing certain types of clothing when accessing services at government departments.

Marshall said that her ministry has already started the process and is also holding discussions with other Caribbean islands to learn from best practices.

“In the past, we have used what is the old-time sort of thinking in terms of dress code. Right now, we have to appreciate that we serve the people and we have to accept that there are ways in which persons may present themselves,” Marshall told the OBSERVER Media.

She said that if an individual is not dressed in a vulgar manner, he or she should be allowed to conduct their business.

Marshall said that the present policy is not mandated by law, but is a rather a rule that was adopted a few years ago.

“We are in consulting stages, we are hoping that within two to three weeks we can have an initial report to present to the Cabinet and we are hoping very shortly that there will be a change in the policy,” Marshall said.

Last week, Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness in a statement said he has formally given instructions for the suspension of the no-sleeveless policy and instructed a full review of government dress code practices.

“It has been found, that while the practice exists to prohibit persons who wear sleeveless from entering Government buildings through “dress codes” established within particular Ministries, Departments and Agencies, there is no law or official government policy on which these are based. “

“To ensure the formulation of a proper policy, in the medium term, the Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport has been mandated to formulate, subject to consultation, a government dress code policy that is aligned with modern considerations as well as the climatic realities of Jamaica,” the statement noted.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, Columns, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Fashion, International, Local, News, OECS, Regional0 Comments

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Aretha Franklin, ‘Queen of Soul’ who transformed American music, dies at 76

Reports say the music icon died from advanced pancreatic cancer in her Detroit home surrounded by family. Here’s a look at her iconic career that spans generations in music and American history. USA TODAY

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Aretha Franklin, whose impassioned, riveting voice made her a titan of American music, died of pancreatic cancer on Thursday, her niece Sabrina Owens confirmed. She was 76.

She died at 9:50 a.m. ET surrounded by family at her home in Detroit.

A family statement released by her publicist, Gwendolyn Quinn, said “Franklin’s official cause of death was due to advance pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type, which was confirmed by Franklin’s oncologist, Dr. Philip Philip of Karmanos Cancer Institute” in Detroit.

The family added: “In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart. We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family.”

Franklin was one of the transcendent cultural figures of the 20th century. Raised on an eclectic musical diet of gospel, R&B, classical and jazz, she blossomed out of her father’s Detroit church to become the most distinguished female black artist of all time, breaking boundaries while placing nearly 100 hits on Billboard’s R&B chart – 20 of them reaching No. 1.

The Queen of Soul, as she was crowned in the 1960s, leaves a sprawling legacy of classic songs that includes “Respect,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” “Chain of Fools,” “Baby I Love You,” “Angel,” “Think,” “Rock Steady,” “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “Freeway of Love,” along with a best-selling gospel catalog.

Reaction: John Legend, Barbra Streisand and other celebs grieve 

Remember: Aretha Franklin’s greatest pop culture moments

Lenny Kravitz:Aretha ‘meant so much to me’

Her death follows several years of painstakingly concealed medical issues, which led to regular show cancellations and extended absences from the public eye.

In March, Franklin canceled two concerts scheduled in New Jersey. According to a statement from her management team, she was following doctors’ orders to stay off the road and rest for two months, and she was “extremely disappointed she cannot perform as she had expected and hoped to.”

Franklin’s last performance was on Nov. 2, for the Elton John AIDS Foundation in New York. The previous June, visibly feeble but still summoning magic, Franklin played her final hometown Detroit show, an emotion-packed concert for thousands at an outdoor festival downtown. 

She ended the performance with a then-cryptic appeal to her the crowd: “Please keep me in your prayers.”

The Queen of Soul sang for presidents and royalty, and befriended high-profile leaders such as the Revs. Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesse Jackson. Amid the global glitter and acclaim, she remained loyal to her adopted home, living in the Detroit area for decades, including the Bloomfield Hills house where she moved in the late ’80s.

“My roots are there. The church is there. My family is there,” she told the Detroit Free Press in 2011. “I like the camaraderie in Detroit, how we’ll rally behind something that’s really worthy and come to each other’s assistance.”

Franklin’s voice was a singular force, earning her a multitude of laurels through the decades, including 18 competitive Grammy Awards and a Lifetime Achievement Award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and honorary doctorates from a host of institutions. In 1987, she became the first female artist inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and seven years later, at age 52, the youngest recipient of a Kennedy Center Honor.

Franklin topped Rolling Stone magazine’s 100 Greatest Singers of All Time list, and her signature hit, “Respect,” ranked No. 4 on “Songs of the Century,” a 1999 project by the National Endowment for the Arts. She performed at the inaugurations of U.S. presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, garnering global attention at the latter for her big fur hat with its crystal-studded bow – a piece now in the Smithsonian Institution.

Franklin’s influence is vast and indelible. It’s most obviously heard in the myriad voices that followed her, from Mary J. Blige to Adele, and even male singers such as Luther Vandross.

But just as important is Franklin’s broader social impact: She embodied American black culture, emphatically and without apology, and through sheer force of talent, thrust it onto the global stage.

Franklin revolutionized black music and the way it was absorbed and perceived, helping create a world where we take for granted that a Beyonce can reign atop mainstream popular culture.

Franklin was emotionally complex, a woman who relished her diva status but whose vulnerabilities and insecurities always seemed to lurk just beneath. Her public success masked a private life of turbulence and loss, making for an intriguing character driven by conflicting forces: Franklin was sassy but naturally shy, urbane but down-home, confident but reckless.

That deep, complicated humanity imbued her music with authenticity. Franklin’s singing, soaked in feeling and executed with virtuoso skill, moved seamlessly among styles: gospel, soul, pop, blues, R&B, jazz, even opera. She belted, purred, seduced, testified. Even as the propulsive power left her voice in later years, she remained as expressive as ever, and her live performances continued to earn critical acclaim.

“I must do what is real in me in all ways,” she told Ebony magazine in 1967, the year when a string of hit singles – “Respect,” “Baby I Love You,” “Chain of Fools” – gave Franklin her first major crossover success.

Aretha Franklin brought down the house at President Barack Obama’s first inauguration in 2009. Her performance was as memorable for her hat as it was for her rendition of “My country ’tis of thee.” (Aug. 16) AP

Franklin’s early life

Born in Memphis on March 25, 1942, Franklin moved at age 4 to Detroit when her father, the Rev. C.L. Franklin, took over duties at New Bethel Baptist Church.

Turmoil set in early: Her mother left Detroit for Buffalo, New York, when Aretha was 6, and died four years later.

Still, Franklin grew up in an environment ideal for nurturing her skills. Her charismatic father was a preacher and singer with a national reputation, with sermons that became top-selling records and a gospel revue that toured the country. That brought important musical figures into the young singer’s orbit, including household guests such as James Cleveland, Mahalia Jackson, B.B. King and Sam Cooke. Growing up on Detroit’s northwest side, she was a childhood friend of Smokey Robinson.

She became a singing prodigy at New Bethel, and her sisters, Carolyn and Erma, also honed their gospel skills. But it was Aretha who emerged as the standout, and by age 14 she was accompanying her father on his gospel travels.

 

Gospel was the main focus, but the Franklin household was teeming with all manner of music.

“I heard classical music from the beginning. It was always in our home,” Franklin told the Free Press in 2011. “As a teenager I took more to the R&B, but I always loved classical.”

R&B music, frowned upon by many in the traditional gospel world, was also welcome in the house. The Rev. Franklin, progressive in politics and disposition, put up little resistance to the secular sounds exemplified by artists such as Cooke.

The young Aretha absorbed the emotional power of music in its many forms, whether in the throes of an ecstatic congregation or the intimacy of close listening. 

“(My older sister) Erma was a big fan of ‘Be My Love’ by Mario Lanza,” she recalled. “How many times did we hear that in our house?! Sylvia Robinson, Smokey’s sister, used to visit Erma and play ‘Be My Love,’ pressing their ears against the speakers, just crying.

“I was quite young at the time, and I thought it was very funny that these girls were crying with their ears against the speaker. I didn’t do that with the artists I heard (then) – Frankie Lymon, the Clovers, LaVern Baker, Ray Charles. As an adult I began to perfectly understand it. When I heard someone knocking me out, I thought, ‘OK, so this is what that was about.’ ”

In 1960, at age 18, Franklin spurned a hometown offer from Berry Gordy’s fledgling Motown label and opted to sign with New York’s Columbia Records, where her demo tape had caught the ear of iconic talent scout John Hammond. A year later – shortly after Franklin married her manager, Ted White – her Columbia debut was released.

That record set the tone for her five-year, nine-album tenure at Columbia, where she was groomed as an interpreter of jazz and pop standards, presented as a chanteuse at the piano.

Franklin was quietly masterful at the keyboard. Throughout her career, it was a skill overshadowed by her voice – although she played piano on most of the work for which she’s now remembered.

The Columbia period proved fruitful but frustrating for the young singer, helping expand her talent while sticking a bridle on the gospel-honed voice behind it. Even as her critical reputation and live draw grew, she managed only a handful of minor hits.

“It’s a fast track to the top if you’ve really got it going on. But I like the way I came up in the industry,” she told the Free Press in 2014. “It wasn’t too fast. It wasn’t overnight, but (rather) little by little. And gradually I grew in the industry. I like that more than the overnight sensation, as one might put it. I was able to learn along the way and grow at a very, very nice pace. My pace, really. I wasn’t thrust into anything I wasn’t ready for.”

Real success blossomed in 1967, when the 24-year-old Franklin declined to renew her Columbia contract and signed with Atlantic Records, where executives Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler saw a chance to unleash the raw power of Franklin’s vocals. Her first Atlantic single – “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)” – was cut at the burgeoning soul-music hotbed FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

Within weeks it was Franklin’s first No. 1 on Billboard’s R&B chart, cracking the pop Top 10 as well. She was on her way to mainstream success.

As with so much of her coming work, the performance on “I Never Loved a Man” was fueled by a deep intensity but with an intimate, welcoming feel that helped Franklin connect with listeners across the board.

“She has never learned how to be pretentious enough to build a false image, and deeply identifies with people on all levels,” Ebony wrote that year, going on to quote Franklin:

“Everybody who’s living has problems and desires just as I do,” she told the magazine. “When the fellow on the corner has somethin’ botherin’ him, he feels the same way I do. When we cry, we all gonna cry tears, and when we laugh, we all have to smile.”

‘Respect’ and the ascension to fame

Franklin’s career quickly skyrocketed: With Wexler overseeing sessions and many of the Muscle Shoals players recruited to Atlantic’s New York studio, Franklin recorded a flurry of hits in the ensuing months, all of them enduring for decades as staples of her repertoire: “Respect,” “Baby I Love You,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” “Chain of Fools, “Ain’t No Way.” She was backed on many by sisters Carolyn and Erma, who enjoyed modest solo success of their own.

Franklin was no one’s puppet in the studio: Even in her earliest years, she was assertive during record sessions, crafting arrangements and dictating commands to seasoned musicians many decades her senior.

By ’68, Franklin was an iconic figure in the African-American community – “the Queen of Soul,” as she was christened by the black press. She was now inescapably important: Franklin’s status was seconded by mainstream America that summer when she graced the cover of Time magazine.

While Franklin was not often explicitly political in public, she embraced her anointed role just as the black-pride movement was flowering. “Respect,” in particular, took on anthem-like stature, hailed as a bold feminist and civil-rights statement – though Franklin long insisted she had no grand designs when she recorded the Otis Redding tune about household relationships.

On Feb. 16, 1968 – declared “Aretha Franklin Day” by Detroit Mayor Jerome P. Cavanagh – she performed a celebratory hometown show for 12,000. In attendance was the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., two months before his assassination, and he took the stage to present Franklin with an award on behalf of his Southern Christian Leadership Council.

As would become typical of Franklin’s story, the outward success masked drama behind the scenes. The marriage to White, in particular, had become fraught, marked by domestic violence. By 1969, they were divorced. She would go on to wed actor Glynn Turman in 1978, a marriage that lasted six years.

The hits continued to pile up. By the end of the 1960s she had placed 28 songs in the R&B Top 40, a mix of original material and eclectic cover songs, including work by the Beatles (“Eleanor Rigby”) and the Band (“The Weight”). The momentum carried into the following decade, with a string of hit records and a 1972 gospel album, “Amazing Grace,” that became one of the genre’s all-time best sellers.

Success on the R&B side continued in the ’70s even as the pop hits tapered off, though 1976’s “Sparkle” soundtrack produced one of Franklin’s abiding crossover classics, the Curtis Mayfield-penned “Something He Can Feel.” A scene-stealing appearance in the 1980 comedy “The Blues Brothers,” where Franklin performed as a waitress belting out “Think,” was a colorful introduction for a younger generation.

 

That same year, searching for a new musical direction, Franklin signed with Arista Records, where mogul Clive Davis helped groom a fresh career path for the singer, now approaching 40.

After several tries, the 1985 album “Who’s Zoomin’ Who” became the mainstream smash they sought, producing the hit “Freeway of Love” and placing Franklin in front of the MTV audience. A duet with George Michael, “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me),” topped the global charts two years later.

Franklin, who had spent much of the 1970s in Los Angeles, was now permanently resettled in metro Detroit, with several area properties including the Bloomfield Hills residence that would remain her primary home for the next three decades. Her father had died in 1984 after a five-year coma; he’d been shot during an attempted robbery at his Detroit home.

The 1990s saw Franklin growing into the role of elder soul stateswoman, satisfied with her status as one of pop history’s greats and playing up the diva role that had become an integral facet of her persona. While the studio pace slowed – she released just five albums from 1998 through her death – her latter-day music was generally well received, with Grammy nominations for “A Rose Is Still a Rose” (1998) and “So Damn Happy” (2003).

“I’m comfortable in my own skin, and my six-inch heels,” she told the Free Press in 2011.

Though Franklin still performed regularly in the ’90s and ’00s, her touring work was hampered by her fear of flying, which set in after a frightening small-plane trip in the early ’80s. She insisted on bus travel, trekking across the U.S. to play for adoring crowds at theaters and summer amphitheaters.

“I’ve definitely evolved to a greater maturity onstage, a savoir faire, I think,” she told the Free Press. “It’s just about relaxing more, really, and having fun with it. That comes with time, to evolve to that level and find that it’s really very simple … that it’s really about having fun and communicating with your audience.”

Franklin was long dogged by weight issues and struggled with alcohol abuse in the late 1960s. But the first glaring sign of health problems came in 2010, when she canceled six months of concert commitments while hospitalized for undisclosed reasons.

She re-emerged the next summer visibly slimmer and seemingly healthy, returning with a glowing show at the Chicago Theatre: “Six months after the world was braced for the worst, Aretha Franklin gave it her best,” as the Free Press reported at the time.

“Her voice was velvety and potent as she rolled into her set, still finding new curves and corners in the notes of songs such as ‘Think,’ ‘Sparkle’ and ‘Baby I Love You,’ ” read the review.

Nevertheless, Franklin’s concert activity became hit-and-miss during her final years, and show cancellations became par for the course, often chalked up to unnamed health problems. She increasingly spoke of winding things down, performing fewer shows by the year, and in February 2017 finally raised the prospect of retirement, saying she was recording a final album.

Two missions loomed large during the final decade of Franklin’s life, and both were still in the works when she died: She was in ongoing talks to produce a film about her life, frequently talking up potential lead actresses such as Jennifer Hudson, Halle Berry and Audra McDonald. And she was enchanted by the idea of opening a soul-food restaurant in downtown Detroit.

Reclusive by nature, Franklin liked being at home and enjoying “the small things,” as she said in 2011 – polishing the silver, buying a tea set, washing and ironing. She was a reader drawn to biographies and an avid media consumer who looked forward to her daily newspapers.

“I enjoy the comfort of home very much,” she said. “I’m very domestic when I’m at home. I can stay in the house for the longest kind of time and not get out.”

From Obama to Pavarotti, always grand

It was always BIG with Aretha Franklin. The public situations skewed to the larger-than-life, the supersize, the majestic. She was an immense presence, physically and psychologically, and could take over rooms simply by sweeping into them.

She had a knack for finding herself at the center of grand moments, whether stealing the show at the Obama inaugural or filling in for the ailing Luciano Pavarotti with an impromptu “Nessun Dorma” at the 1998 Grammys.

 

“She could get a U.S. president on the phone with two calls,” said Brian Pastoria, who co-engineered some of Franklin’s studio work.

Indeed, it was the little stuff that seemed to vex Franklin most. She struggled with personal finances, and was frequently forced into small-claims court by mom-and-pop operations around metro Detroit – limo services, caterers, contractors. Her home was often cluttered and unkempt, and while experts on creative genius might say that comes with the territory, it was enough to frustrate neighbors and leave visitors puzzled why she had so little help around her.

For years Franklin talked about plans to tackle her flying phobia, but never followed through. It kept her grounded for the final 35 years of her life, plausibly costing her millions in touring revenue.

Franklin was scrupulously private; her personal life was shielded by a tight cadre of family members and friends. When writer Mark Bego set out to pen the first authorized Aretha Franklin biography, 1989’s “The Queen of Soul,” he was struck by the array of unknowns that still surrounded her – basic details about her two marriages and divorces, her upbringing, even her musical inspirations.

“I felt as if I had just encountered one of the great unsolved mysteries of the show-business world,” he wrote.

Franklin cautiously traipsed into some of those topics with her 1999 autobiography, “Aretha: From These Roots.” But she remained elusive enough that her handpicked co-author, David Ritz, was compelled to write his own uninhibited Franklin biography 15 years later.

That book provoked the singer’s wrath – the sort of eruption familiar to those in Aretha’s world. Franklin continually churned through support staff, hiring and firing lawyers, publicists and producers. She feuded with other female singers and knew how to hold a grudge, including a beef with Dionne Warwick that became public only when Franklin alerted the press out of the blue – five years after it happened.

But when it came to the music, few were more disciplined than Franklin. She was serious about her voice and exacting about her concert conditions: big on honey and hot tea before a show and insistent on rooms without air conditioning, aware it could dry out her throat.

Many who worked closely with her also glimpsed the humanity at the heart of the superstar singer who came up in the church.

“She (was) very compassionate,” the late Darryl Houston said in 2010. Houston was Franklin’s accompanying pianist for more than two decades. “When I was dealing with the sickness and eventual death of my father in Mississippi, she was very encouraging in thought and deed. I remember a few times I would get a call from a travel agent saying: ‘When do you want to go see your dad? Ms. Franklin has taken care of the ticket.’ ” 

Brian Pastoria was part of a studio team that worked with Franklin in the 1990s and 2000s, including recording sessions at her home.

“Before the vocal sessions, she’d be in the kitchen making chili. After recording a couple of hours, she’d say, ‘OK, time to eat!’ ” Pastoria recalled. “Even though she was the greatest of all time, the Muhammad Ali of vocals, it was still always her calling on the phone for business, not her lawyer. You’d hear, ‘Hi, honey, how are you!’ It was nice. It was real. You never felt like you were dealing with a major superstar.”

For all the public gowns, glitz and diva references – she was famously portrayed in a Snickers commercial as a crabby prima donna – Franklin was a homegirl at heart. She was a connoisseur of old-school Southern soul food, proud of her knack with homemade dishes like fried chicken and ham with black-eyed peas.

“I think I rank with the best when it comes to the stove,” she told the Free Press in 1996.

That sort of organic realness coursed through her work.

“She paints a picture with a song,” said Houston. “Outside of being vocally astute, you can feel what she’s singing. You can tell when someone is just singing a song, and when the song is a part of their inner being. With Aretha, what leaves the heart reaches the heart.”

 

“It seems she never, ever forgot those roots of the church, and she really believed that we need to look above the things of this world, to a more spiritual level,” said social activist Rocky Twyman. “You felt like she wanted to bless humanity with her music.”

Franklin made her final hometown appearance in Detroit on June 10, 2017, headlining the Detroit Music Weekend festival for thousands gathered in the streets. Down the block two days earlier, tears had streamed down her face as she was honored by the city with the unveiling of Aretha Franklin Way.

For nearly two hours on the festival stage that weekend, she performed a spirited, feisty set while clearly struggling through pain, at one point singing from a plush chair.

Franklin did it her way that night, foregoing many of her biggest hits for a deeper dive into her catalog and a stirring, 11-minute gospel workout of “Precious Memories.”

The old, soaring power may have been missing, but the passion was intact. For one last time in front of her hometown community, there was Aretha Franklin, and there was that voice. 

That voice – still captivating, but now comforting in its decades-long familiarity. A sound still melding urban vitality with the warmth of Southern soul. Still joy, pain, ecstasy, liberation. Still strength and femininity. And still offering, as it always will, the promise of transcendence.

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Clinton tweet

Pre-mourning” Aretha Franklin

By Brian Stelter and CNN’s media team

Some memories, thoughts and observations0 just prior to her death announcement

The digital age allows us to witness “pre-mourning” on a worldwide scale.

And that’s what we’re witnessing right now around the news that Aretha Franklin‘s health is failing. People are celebrating her life and bracing for her possible death –

– and much of this is playing out in public.

Credit where it’s due: On Tuesday I heard CNN.com EIC Meredith Artley use the term “pre-mourning” to describe the outpouring of love and concern. That’s exactly what it is. Just take a look at a news website, TV newscast, Facebook, or

Twitter. There’s already a tribute concert being planned for the fall.

“It’s very logical on a journalistic and a human level — she is a global icon,” Artley said via email Tuesday night. “A black woman who sings about respect, about being a woman, a moving voice and central figure of civil rights…” Artley said the interest in her life and health and legacy may speak to “a need for some soul and grace in turbulent times.” Very true…

Friends and fans rallying around the star

Psychologists sometimes call it “anticipatory grief.” A friend commented to me that every time she sees Aretha’s name now, “I check to see if she has died.”

Think back to June, when there was a digital embrace of Charles Krauthammer in the weeks before he passed away. The same was true when Barbara Bush was in failing health back in April. And I hate talking this way, but I think we’ve seen some “pre-mourning” of John McCain, given his brain cancer diagnosis.

As for Franklin, Lisa Respers France wrote about the friends and fans rallyingaround the star… Here’s her full story…

Franklin is hearing the tributes

Some deaths come as a shock — Michael Jackson, Robin Williams, Prince. There was no “pre-mourning” them. Two recent examples were Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade. But Franklin has apparently been able to hear from some of the people who are concerned about her.

On Tuesday a source close to Franklin told CNN’s Don Lemon that the 76-year- old singer “is being visited by people close to her who are reading her messages from friends and loved ones, holding her hand…”

A reminder: Exercise caution…

A warning via the NYT’s Ben Sisario:

“The lack of detail about Ms. Franklin’s condition led to some premature comments on social media that she had died. On Tuesday, Tim Franklin, a nephew, was

quoted in a report by People magazine saying that Ms. Franklin was ‘alert,

laughing, teasing, able to recognize people.’ That comment was rebutted by the

rest of the Franklin family… ” A family rep said “that Ms. Franklin had met with her nephew in a ‘very brief visit two weeks ago.’ But by then the People report had been picked up by numerous other media outlets.

My final thought on this: Are some sketchy websites seizing on concern about Franklin to grab some cheap page views? For sure. That’s the web at its worst. But at its best, the content connects people and helps them feel a little less alone while pre-mourning the loss of a giant…

 

 

 

 

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Caribbean broadcasters meeting in Jamaica

Caribbean broadcasters meeting in Jamaica

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Aug 14, CMC –Caribbean and international broadcasters are meeting here amidst calls for regional governments to adapt to the new media environment of which social media is now a critical part.

Minister in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Ruel Reid, addressing the 49th annual General Assembly of the Barbados-based Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU), Tuesday, said that it was also necessary for Caribbean societies to guard against insularity as well as to take their place in the discourse in the global geo politics.

“I encourage our governments to adapt to our new media environment of which social media is now a critical part – embrace social media as an additional means to engage with our citizenry, encourage youth participation in our democracies and build trust in our systems.

Minister in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Ruel Reid

“We see the power of the media in the #MeToo Movement – and it is from advocacy against gender based injustices in the West to campaigns for girls to access to education in the East that now cannot be muted given the coverage through multiple media platforms.”

But Reid said that the shift to the online world has also brought many new social problems.

“For example, children and young adults are particularly vulnerable to cyber-bullying, revenge porn, internet addiction disorder and other forms of deeply problematic internet use. One of the worst problems is that some gangs now record their criminal acts, including murders and rapes, which they then post on social media and share via WhatsApp in order to exult in their ‘success’, humiliate their victims, devastate their families and intimidate others. These posts/shares encourage imitation and retaliation, resulting in a vicious cycle of reciprocal violence. “

He said that a less-obvious but equally troubling problem is that as traditional news outlets have become less profitable, they are also losing some of their primary news-gathering and fact-checking capacity.

“The loss of authoritative and independent sources of news means that many people now obtain their information from closed loops of like-minded people, which encourages political tribalism and increases vulnerability to fake news and manipulation via social media.”

Reid said that a number of state agencies, criminal and terrorist organizations and mercenary hackers now have the ability to destabilize countries by penetrating their communications, compromising their infrastructure and manipulating elections with fake news.

He said the cost of a cyber-hack/fake news attack has fallen dramatically as the necessary skills have spread through the hacker community, which means that these attacks are likely to be much more common in future.

“So the critical issue for our countries now is that our regulatory framework must focus on protecting vulnerable persons such as children, adolescents and young adults against malign content; our States must take steps to improve national media literacy.

“Media must ensure that it maintains high media quality with particular regard to factual content, support national and citizen security, and protect the integrity of our democratic systems,” he told the delegates.

Reid recalled that while there had been the Ferguson riots in the United States against the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager Mike Brown in 2014, Jamaica was grappling with the Mario Dean tragedy.

Deane was reportedly beaten while in police custody and later died. That matter is still before the courts. Reid said that the ordinary citizen’s perspectives were amplified alongside traditional broadcast journalists and media houses’ coverage ensuring appropriate focus on the issues attendant on both security and justice.

He said tools available to journalists, civil society and the public at large, such as access to information (ATI) legislation must not be underused.

“Just recently, use of our ATI Act exploded the widely held view that women were not allowed to wear sleeveless shirts and or dresses to conduct business in government establishments, effectively proving a barrier to access timely government services.

“Human rights activist and blogger Susan Goffe utilized the Access to Information Act to request from a number of government Ministries, whether this enforced dress code was originated from any policy document. Following the request it was revealed that no policy prohibited women’s access to government buildings in sleeveless shirts or dresses. The national discourse again ignited, and this is where these discussions can influence policy,” he said.

Reid noted the challenges to the survival of indigenous Caribbean media recognising that the global media industry is in the middle of a profound transformation.

“We have left behind the era in which the media industry was organized and regulated by infrastructure -radio, television, telephone, print etc.-. Today, content flows over many different networks and technologies.”

He said that news, information, entertainment, education, directions, home management and shopping, translations and many other services are all now digital streams that can be directed to the nearest screen.

“Many different services can now be handled on the same networks, and different services can be transmitted on a number of competing networks using different and combined technology platforms. This means that the flow of content is no longer controlled by infrastructure.

“In addition, it is now possible to provide media services without the need to have any local presence at all, or ownership of any infrastructure – other than access to the internet- , which makes it increasingly difficult to regulate effectively within a single jurisdiction, let alone by a given technology.”

Reid said that these changes mean that the traditional divisions by region and infrastructure are becoming less and less relevant.

He said in the new era, consolidated content is the heart of the media world, while infrastructure and devices are delivery channels.

“This has implications for how we will regulate, paying particular attention to what flows through an increasingly diverse array of pipes.

“The media and communications sector today is in the business of conveying both specialized and mass information across the rapidly eroding borders of broadcasting. Television and radio, business and market information, education, entertainment, publishing, advertising, telecommunications, motion pictures, home videos, video games, computer databases, and other information products are all now digital streams which run across different networks, including many that flow through some of the currently unregulated spaces”.

Reid said that content, defined broadly, is now a most critical factor and it is where value is generated and added.

“Content is now the critical determinant of the economic dynamism and prosperity of an economy.

We in the Caribbean must take note that media firms are now competing against technology firms that can operate in unregulated and untaxed spaces while accessing advertising revenue. The traditional media organizations therefore are losing both audience and income.”

Reid said between  2012 -2014 the audience for radio fell from 21 per cent to 19.6 per cent; the audience for Free-to-Air TV fell from 25 to 23.2 per cent and newspaper readership fell from 22 to 20.6 per cent as people switched to the internet and international cable.

He quoted from a 2015 document by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) that argued that the creative economy of which Film and Television and Media Arts & Communications are apart, is an important part of global trade.

“The global market for traded creative goods and services totalled US$547 billion in 2012.  Growth rates stood at 8.6 per cent annually from 2003 – 2013, showing the strength and resilience of the sector despite the economic deceleration of the world economy,” the document stated.

But Reid said that there are advantages to some of the profound changes in the media landscape with one of the most significant gains being the shift from traditional to non-traditional platforms and stimulated many new creative and business ideas, as many people are now both consumers and providers of content.

“News, information and entertainment are no longer the sole province of the traditional creators and distributors of content, the broadcast and print media. In an era of citizen journalists, Facebookers, Tweeters, bloggers and vloggers, the average person is both consumer and creator of content. “

The Assembly which is being held under the theme “Building Resilience to Climate Change: Business, Technology & Content Options for Caribbean Media,” ends on Wednesday.

 

 

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Miss Anguilla, Dee-Ann Rogers wins Miss Universe Great Britain

Miss Anguilla, Dee-Ann Rogers wins Miss Universe Great Britain

ANGUILLA–Dee-Ann Rogers was crowned Miss Universe Great Britain 2018 at the Riverfront Theatre and Arts Centre in Newport on Saturday, July 14. She will represent Great Britain at the world’s most prestigious beauty pageant, Miss Universe 2018. She competed against forty young women from England, Scotland and Wales; everyone was delighted when she was chosen as one of the five finalists, and even more pleased when Miss Anguilla emerged the winner.

Rogers said she had set her sights on the title soon after winning the Miss Anguilla title. She saw it as an opportunity to advance the Miss Anguilla Pageant as well as to promote Anguilla on an international stage. She has a degree in law from the University of Birmingham and is an athlete of some note, having represented Anguilla twice at the Commonwealth Games.
“My aspiration in participating in the Miss Universe Great Britain Pageant is not only to advance the pageant, but also to experience a new pageant system and to be able to forge a possible bridge for subsequent Miss Anguilla winners to experience the same pageant system,” she said.

The Anguilla Tourist Board has offered congratulations, noting it is proud to have made her participation a reality and will continue to support her. “It has been an honour to serve as her sponsor. The journey is just beginning and we intend to see her through to the end.”

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