José Antonio Abreu, creator of renowned Venezuelan youth orchestra, dies at 78 – Washington Post

Washington Post

José Antonio Abreu, creator of renowned Venezuelan youth orchestra, dies at 78
Washington Post
José Antonio Abreu, a Venezuelan government economist turned musical educator who created a network of youth orchestras that has been replicated in dozens of countries around the world, died March 24. He was 78. His death was announced by the
Correction: Obit-Jose Antonio Abreu storyWTOP

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Canada revokes Venezuelan diplomat’s credentials

Canada is moving to expel a Venezuelan diplomat from the country and strip his credentials in reprisal after his Canadian equivalent was kicked out of the South American nation.

The latest developments come after months of sanctions and criticism by Canada against Venezuela, which two days ago proclaimed Canada’s charge d’affaires persona non grata. They stripped him of his diplomatic credentials and barred him from returning to the country.

Officials from Canada and the United States have been increasing critical of President Nicolas Maduro’s government for consolidating power and isolating the country’s opposition parties ahead of next year’s presidential elections.

Venezuelan national constituent assembly chairwoman Delcy Rodriguez accused Canadian diplomat Craig Kowalik of meddling in the country’s politics and tweeting “rude and vulgar” remarks about the nation.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland told Monday that Venezuela’s ambassador to Canada, who had already been withdrawn by his government to protest Canadian sanctions, “re no longer” welcome in the country in response.

She also declared the Venezuelan charge d’affaires persona non grata.

“Canadians will not stay where you are as the governmental forces of Venezuela robs its people of their fundamental democratic and human rights, and denies them access to basic humanitarian assistance, ” Freeland said in a statement released on Christmas Day.

“We will continue to work with our partners of the states of the region … to apply pressure on the anti-democratic Maduro regime and restore the rights of the Venezuelan people.”

Venezuela drew international condemnation on Wednesday when its pro-government constitutional assembly effectively stripped three of the country’s more influential opposition parties of the right to participate in next year’s presidential election.

It followed security threats by Maduro to penalize the opposition groups for boycotting recent mayoral elections, protesting what they considered an unfair, rigged system run by a dictatorship.

Canada has already imposed sanctions against 40 key members of Maduro’s regime since September.

Freeland said the officials had been implicated in “corruption and gross human rights abuses.”

Economic sanctions are also being carried out by the Lima Group, a body made up of Canada and 11 other Latin American countries.

Freeland called Venezuela’s decision to expel the Canadian envoy a typical move by the Maduro regime, saying that efforts to restore republic in the country have been consistently undermined.

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José Antonio Abreu, Venezuelan Musical Visionary, Dies at 78 – New York Times

New York Times

José Antonio Abreu, Venezuelan Musical Visionary, Dies at 78
New York Times
Mr. Abreu, an economist and musician who proselytized for what he called the “social mission of art,” may have set out to use classical music as a means to engage the youth of Venezuela, but he wound up putting Venezuelan musicians onto some of
Venezuelan Musical Visionary Jose Antonio Abreu Dies Aged 78St. Lucia Times Online News (press release)
El Sistema creator Jose Antonio Abreu, music educator emulated …

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Trump’s First State Of The Union Includes The Typical Falsehoods, Avoids The Typical Insanity

WASHINGTON — It took 10 minutes and 25 seconds into his first State of the Union address Tuesday night for President Donald Trump to do what’s became his defining signature in office: saying something demonstrably false.

“We enacted the biggest taxation cuts and reforms in American history, ” Trump said from the dais of the House of Representatives in the U.S. Capitol.

The boast is not close to accurate. The $1.5 trillion tax cut passed by the Republican-run Congress and signed by Trump in December is only the eighth-largest as percentage points of the economy, and fourth-largest to its implementation of inflation-adjusted dollars.

He subsequently claimed that he objective the “war on beautiful clean coal, ” that the United States was now “an exporter of energy to the world, ” that Chrysler is moving a major plant from Mexico to Michigan, that the visa lottery permits in immigrants with no consider for “the safety of our people, ” and that his administration has restored America’s “standing abroad.”

In fact, there was never a government war on the experimental and costly process of removing carbon dioxide emissions from coal power plant smokestacks. The United States is not a net exporter of energy. Chrysler is not closing its Mexico factory, but simply moving truck production to Michigan. Applicants to the visa lottery system already undergo rigorous vetting. And polling shows clearly that America’s standing as a world leader has plummeted under Trump.

Bloomberg via Getty Images

The obvious falsehoods notwithstanding, though, Trump’s address was closer to a mainstream Republican politician speech than anything he has given before. Reading slowly from mainly the left-hand screen of his teleprompter, Trump managed, as he has previously, to deliver an address without devolving into an broadcast of his grievances and attacks against his critics.

He repeated an outline of an immigration plan the White House had released earlier that proposes protecting 1.8 million undocumented immigrants who were brought into this country as children in return for constructing his perimeter wall and drastically cutting the numbers of legal immigrants.

Other policy proposals in his 80 -minute speech, however, were far more vague: Vows to rebuild roads and bridges, assistance prison inmates re-enter society, combat the opioid addiction outbreak, lower the price of prescription drugs, and negotiate better trade agreements were tossed out with virtually zero details.

On trade, for instance, Trump recurred his longing for agreements that were “reciprocal” — which Peterson Institute for International Economics trade expert Monica de Bolle said she found “baffling.”

“If it meant everyone should abide by the same rules, those already exist with institutions like the WTO, which President Trump has bashed in the recent past, ” she said. “But it seems to mean that trade should be balanced against all partners, which simply makes no sense.”

For Trump’s White House and supporters of his agenda, the big question now is how long Trump can avoid trampling on his message with angry, off-topic tweets or falsehood-filled statements to the media.

Trump has received praise for previous speeches that others have written for him and he’s read as-is off a teleprompter. But, without fail, he has followed up the performance by veering off-message and returning to his more normal behaviour of insulting and picking fightings with critics and political opponents.

“Message? What message? ” joked one top Republican National Committee member speaking on the condition of anonymity. “That is so old politics.”

Of course, many of the things Trump promised Tuesday night had already been promised 11 months ago, during his first speech to Congress.

“Crumbling infrastructure will be replaced with new roads, bridges, passageways, airports and railways gleaming across our very, very beautiful land, ” Trump vowed at the time. “Our terrible medication outbreak will slow down and, ultimately, stop. And our neglected inner cities will see a rebirth of hope, safety and opportunity.”

None of those things happened. Trump did not propose an infrastructure plan. While he proclaimed an “opioid emergency, ” it received no serious funding and was such a low priority that a 24-year-old campaign staffer with zero experience in the field was made deputy chief of staff of the medication control office. And Trump’s White House has done little, if anything, to rebuild blighted urban neighborhoods.

Nor did Trump “repeal and replace Obamacare with reforms that expand option, increase access, lower costs and, at the same period, offer better healthcare, ” as he said he would last year.

And while he called for “one of the largest increases in national defense spending in American history, ” Trump and Congress have yet to pass a spending bill beyond a “continuing resolution.” That means all federal departments, including the military, is basically still operating under a spending plan passed under Trump’s predecessor, President Barack Obama.

Trump did follow through on his promise to cut environmental, safety and consumer protection regulations on industries- although not nearly to the extent he likes to claim. Similarly, he presided over the passage of corporate taxation cuts, long a Republican Party priority, but did not cut middle-class taxes by 35 percentage, as he had promised during his campaign.

Trump’s address arrives after several days of renewed focus on the investigation into ties between his campaign and Russia. On Monday, the Trump administration announced that it would not punish Russian leaders with new sanctions, eluding a law overwhelmingly passed by Congress that informed the administration to do so in response to Russia’s efforts to help Trump win the 2016 U.S. election.

Both Trump and his White House staff continue to downplay the significance of a report released by the U.S. intelligence community last year about Russia’s election meddling. At Monday’s daily briefing, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called the media’s continued interest in the tale “Russia fever.”

Monday was also the working day that Republican on the House Intelligence Committee voted to make public a memoranda written by its staff members. Democrats on the committee who have read it say it is inaccurate, misinforming and designed to undermine Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Trump’s allies in Congress and conservative media have been agitating for its release for weeks.

Mueller’s probe has already resulted in two guilty pleas by Trump aides — including his first national security consultant, Michael Flynn — and indictments of two more.

Trump’s State of the Union speech, while boasting of sanctions against other authoritarian regimes like Venezuela, North Korea and Cuba, hardly mentioned Russia at all.

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