Musical Virtuoso Previn Dies at 89 

Musical virtuoso Andre Previn, who mastered almost every type of genre, died Thursday at 89. 

 

His manager gave no cause of death in making her announcement. 

 

The Berlin-born Previn was a child prodigy, but his family fled Hitler’s Germany when he was 9 years old. 

 

They eventually settled in Hollywood, where Previn launched his career orchestrating scores for films. His work can be heard gracing the soundtracks of such musicals as My Fair Lady, Porgy and Bess, and Gigi. 

 

While working in Hollywood, Previn became enamored with jazz, but may be best remembered as a classical composer and conductor, serving as principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra. He also led the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Houston and Pittsburgh symphonies.  

 

Throughout his career, Previn won four Oscars and 10 Grammys. 

 

Previn was married five times, including to actress Mia Farrow, with whom he adopted three children.  

 

One of them, a Korean orphan named Soon-Yi, created a scandal when she married Farrow’s then-boyfriend, film director Woody Allen. 

 

Previn once said he would like to drive over Allen with a steamroller. 

Turkey Flexes Naval Muscle Amid Regional Tensions

Turkey is carrying out its largest naval exercises in a display of its rapidly growing navy. The show of force comes amid rising regional tensions over territorial and energy exploration rights disputes.

Dubbed “The Blue Homeland,” the drills involve more than 100 ships operating across the Black Sea, the Aegean Sea and eastern Mediterranean. On display in the 10-day exercise are many of Turkey’s newest warships, along with the use of high-tech domestically produced drones.

“Turkey is a regional power, and this naval exercise is to show the world that Turkey is a player,” said international relations professor Huseyin Bagci of Ankara’s Middle East Technical University, “It is a show of strength in military terms to any country in the region.”

“They should be aware how important it is to be with Turkey or to work together with Turkey or the risk of being against Turkey,” he added. “It is showing the flag, the showing of the muscles. We are here in the Mediterranean; we have our interests in Cyprus, we have our interests in gas exploration and economic interests.”

Turkey has many outstanding disputes with Greece over territorial waters, which saw the two NATO members in the past go to the brink of war. Energy exploration in Cypriot waters is also a new point of rising tension.

The Mediterranean island is divided between Greek and Turkish-Cypriot communities since a Turkish military intervention in 1974, following a Greek-inspired coup. The international community only recognizes the Greek-Cypriot administration. However, Ankara says the Greek-Cypriots must collaborate with the Turkish-Cypriot government in energy exploration after recent massive finds of natural gas in the island’s territorial waters.

“Nothing at all can be done in the Mediterranean without Turkey,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced last week. “We will not allow that, [unilateral Greek Cypriot energy exploration].“

He declared that Turkey would begin drilling for oil and gas near Cypriot waters with two new exploration ships.

Despite Ankara’s rhetoric, Greek Defense Minister Evangelos Apostolakis sought to play down the naval exercises, calling them “regular Turkish military training activities.”

Unnerving Cyprus, Greece

Analysts say Turkey’s powerful display of modern naval prowess will likely unnerve both Nicosia and Athens, which is the Greek-Cypriots’ main ally.

“Turkey has resumed expanding its naval power after a decade, so we are talking about important material capabilities and the expansion of the Turkish navy should threaten the Greeks,” said international relations professor Serhat Guvenc of Istanbul’s Kadir Has University.

“But Greece has been struggling to come out of this deep recession,” he added, “Therefore they don’t have money to respond to this Turkish naval expansion.”

Turkey’s growing military capabilities are forcing new regional alignments, say analysts such as Guvenc.

“Athens is trying to remedy the lack of financial resources with the involvement of third parties, namely Russia and the United States,” he said.

Greece traditionally has good relations with Russia, which has been building up its naval presence in the eastern Mediterranean as part of its backing of the Damascus government in Syria’s civil war. Until recently, however, the Greek government has had a frosty relationship with Washington.

“[Greek Prime Minister Alexis] Tsipras was elected on a relatively anti-Western, anti-American platform,” he added, “But Greek-American relations have been improving, and the Greek government has been the most cooperative in decades in terms of promoting military cooperation with the United States.”

In December, Greece and the United States launched a strategic dialogue to increase cooperation.

“We recognize Greece as a key player in the east Mediterranean. Greece emerges as a leader of regional stability. Our strategic dialogue will lead to a stronger future,” said U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Pompeo also added that Washington was working to strengthen relations with “democratic allies there, like Greece and Cyprus and Israel.”

The three countries are already cooperating in the development of significant gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean. They also have had strained ties with Turkey.

“Turkey’s policy toward its neighbors is threatening and aggressive, and this is and will have repercussions,” said political scientist Cengiz Aktar of Athens University.

“We should not forget that Greece is expected to sign in the [coming] months, a mini security arrangement with the United States, to which Egypt, Israel and Cyprus could potentially join as non-NATO countries, and this is clearly aimed at Turkey,” he added.

Turkey maintains that it poses no threat to any of its neighbors and that it is only committed to defending its rights and those of its allies. But analysts warn such words will likely do little to allay neighbors’ concerns, with Turkey committed to expanding its armed forces, in particular, its navy.

After Saudi Pressure, EU States Move to Block Dirty-Money List

The adoption of a European Union money-laundering blacklist, which includes Saudi Arabia as well as Puerto Rico and three other U.S. territories, could be blocked by EU governments under a procedure launched on Thursday, two EU diplomats told Reuters.

At a meeting on Thursday, some national envoys opposed adopting the list, triggering a process that could lead to it being delayed or withdrawn, the diplomats said.

The move came after Saudi Arabia’s King Salman sent letters to all 28 EU leaders urging them to reconsider the inclusion of Riyadh on the list, one of the letters seen by Reuters showed.

The listing of the Saudi Kingdom “will damage its reputation on the one hand and it will create difficulties in trade and investment flows between the Kingdom and the European Union on the other,” the King wrote.

One diplomat said Washington has also pressured EU countries to scrap the list.

The U.S. Treasury said when the list was approved by the European Commission that the listing process was “flawed” and it rejected the inclusion of the four U.S. territories.

The diplomat said the Saudi lobby had intensified at the summit of EU and Arab League leaders earlier this week in Sharm el-Sheikh.

At that meeting, British Prime Minister Theresa May discussed the issue with the Saudi King, the diplomat said, adding that Britain and France are leading the group of EU countries opposed to the kingdom’s inclusion on the list, confirming a Reuters report earlier in February.

For the list to be blocked, a majority of 21 states is necessary. EU officials said that around 15 countries have already declared their opposition to the listing.

The list was first adopted by the European Commission on Feb 13 and lists 23 jurisdictions including Nigeria, Panama, Libya, the Bahamas and the four U.S. territories of American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam.

For the first time, the EU listing used different criteria from those used by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which is the global standard-setter for anti-money laundering.

The FATF list is much smaller and does not include Saudi Arabia and U.S. territories.

 

Lady Gaga: Bradley Cooper Duet Was Acting, Not Love

It was acting, not love, when Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper sang a duet Sunday at the 91st Academy Awards.

 

Gaga discussed the emotional performance of “Shallow” from their film “A Star Is Born” during an appearance Wednesday on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live .” The duet led online posters to say the stars are in love.

 

The artist rolled her eyes and called social media “the toilet of the internet,” saying it has hurt pop culture.

 

Gaga said, “Yes, people saw love and guess what, that’s what we wanted you to see.”

 

Gaga says it was a love song in a love story and they had “worked all week on that performance.”

 

She said, “I guess we did a good job. Fooled ya!”

 

Gaga brought her Oscar for “Shallow” to the show.

 

 

Ice Castles Turn US Farmland Into Winter Wonderland

On a clear, frigid night in a courtyard made of walls of ice, Bruce McCafferty and his young son stand mesmerized, bathed in the pulsating rainbow light emanating from a series of stout ice formations.

McCafferty and his son Dougie have come out to Ice Castles in North Woodstock, New Hampshire, a collection of ice tunnels, caverns and a 97-foot (30-meter) ice slide that cover an acre (half a hectare) of farmland that some have said are like something out of the movie “Frozen.”

The winter wonderland, one of six in North America, is built from scratch when the cold conditions allow the ice to sprout from the barren ground.

Other parks are located in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin; Excelsior, Minnesota; Dillon, Colorado; Midway, Utah; and Edmonton, Alberta. This year, the attractions will stand until early March in most locations.

At the center of the New Hampshire attraction stand six ice structures that are nearly four feet tall (more than a meter tall) and are lit from within by colored lights.

“It’s quite magical isn’t it?” McCafferty said. “It’s an amazing creation. I’d really like to know how they actually built it.”

The attraction starts small in December, when the site’s lead builder Matt Pasciuto and his team set up icicle farms: metal racks that are sprayed with water to allow icicles to grow on them overnight. The icicles are then harvested by “ice artists,” who place them around more than 70 sprinklers.

“Once we turn the sprinklers on, the water starts freezing to those icicles, making them grow together, bigger and bigger and thicker and thicker,” Pasciuto said. “We grow the castle about two to three feet [a half-meter to one meter] at a time.”

Within a few weeks, the icicles have managed to cover the entire park, and some reach heights of 20 feet (six meters).

On a recent sunny day, the massive ice walls shined with a glacial blue hue. After the sun went down, the castles seemed to burst with colors thanks to LED lights embedded in the ice. The astonishing visuals are complemented by a synchronized fantasy soundtrack playing throughout the venue.

The attraction, which moved to this year from neighboring Lincoln, draws tens of thousands of visitors each season.

“When the movie `Frozen’ came out, that was a huge boost because now everyone says, ‘Oh, we get to see an actual ice castle,'” Pasciuto said.

Three years ago, Adam Schellinger started bringing his girlfriend on annual dates to the Ice Castles in New Hampshire, a three-hour drive from their hometown of Brooklyn, Connecticut. On last year’s visit, Schellinger got down on one knee and popped the question. The crowd immediately began cheering. The couple was married in September.

“When I proposed, it was blue, and then it went to purple,” recalled Schellinger, who returned for a visit with his wife Ashley a couple weeks ago. “It was just awesome — a great backdrop for sure.”

After a mild start to the winter, the weather in New Hampshire this year has mostly cooperated with only a few days with above-freezing temperatures. But that isn’t always the case, according to Melissa Smuzynski, public relations director for Ice Castles. She said some locations occasionally have had to cut their seasons short due to warmer winters but that “we haven’t noticed a long-term pattern over the years of our seasons becoming shorter.”

But Pascuito says he dreads the warmer days.

“The last couple of years we’ve had some really bad warm spells in February where it gets to 60 degrees [Fahrenheit, 15 degrees Celsius]. This is New Hampshire — that shouldn’t happen,” he said. “We love the cold. We want a nice long winter.”

До українців, які не можуть вилетіти з Делі, приїхав консул – МЗС

Український консул займається питанням українців, які не можуть вилетіти з аеропорту в Делі (Індія), повідомляє Міністерство закордонних справ України.

«У зв’язку із загостренням відносин між Індією й Пакистаном скасовано низку авіарейсів у міжнародному аеропорту імені І.Ганді в Делі. Консул в аеропорту вирішує питання щодо повернення до України групи співвітчизників. Питання – на контролі консульської служби», – йдеться в повідомленні Департаменту консульської служби МЗС України у Twitter.

«І консул, і посол працюють, працюють і з казахстанською стороною. Консул в аеропорту. Працюємо», – сказав у коментарі Радіо Свобода заступник директора департаменту консульської служби Міністерства закордонних справ України Василь Кирилич.

У соцмережах українці, які не змогли вилетіти з аеропорту Делі, пишуть, що компанія Air Astana, квитки якої вони мали, скасувала усі рейси, і просили допомоги.

Раніше посольство України в Індії рекомендувало українцям враховувати, що з 27 лютого Індія тимчасово закрила повітряний простір для пасажирських та комерційних перевезень над штатами Джамму і Кашмір, Хімачал Прадеш, Панджаб та Уттаракханд.

Пакистан у зв’язку з загостренням відносин з Індією також закрив свій повітряний простір. Через це були скасовані численні рейси, і тисячі туристів не можуть вилетіти з азійських міст.

 

НСТУ взяла на себе провину за ситуацію з участю України в «Євробаченні»

Національна суспільна телерадіокомпанія України визнає себе винною за ситуацію з «Євробаченням». Про це на прес-конференції в Києві заявив голова правління Суспільного мовника Зураб Аласанія.

«Ми беремо на себе провину за ситуацію з «Євробаченням» і хочемо суспільного діалогу. Також ми наразі не збираємось розривати контракт з СТБ. Ми готові прийняти ще одну порцію хейту під час травневої трансляції через те, що під час трансляції «Євробачення» буде виступ Росії, хоча НСТУ не має права втручатись в саму трансляцію», – зазначив Аласанія.

Він додав також, що, якщо представник Росії переможе на «Євробаченні-2019», Україна не братиме участі у наступному змаганні.

«Євробачення-2019» пройде в Тель-Авіві, столиці Ізраїлю – країни-переможця попереднього конкурсу. Росію там представлятиме співак Сергій Лазарєв.

Національна суспільна телерадіокомпанія і переможниця нацвідбору Maruv відмовилися підписувати контракт про участь на «Євробаченні». На адресу співачки лунала критика через те, що раніше вона їздила виступати до Росії і також має заплановані концерти там у майбутньому.

Після цього НСТУ почала переговори з іншими учасниками відбору. Freedom Jazz та Kazka відмовилися представляти Україну на конкурсі.

28 лютого у НСТУ заявили, що відмовляються від участі в Міжнародному пісенному конкурсі «Євробачення-2019».

Popular Fur-Trimmed Parkas a Boon for Trappers, Not for Coyotes

Those fur-trimmed parkas so common on city sidewalks have become a boon to backwoods trappers.

Coyote fur pelts are in big demand to provide the lush, silvery or tawny-tinged arcs of fur on the hoods on Canada Goose coats and their many global imitators. A good western coyote, prized for its silky, light-colored fur, can fetch more than $100. The top price at a recent Colorado auction hit $170, a 40 percent increase from four years ago.

“Coyotes are hot,” said John Hughes, a longtime buyer at J and M Furs in Roundup, Montana, “and it’s all due to the trim trade.”

Fur market

Late fall and early winter are the prime trapping time, when coyote coats are at their fullest, but a lot of the selling happens in late winter. Fur is sold at big auction houses in Canada, by individual fur buyers across North America and at local auctions near where the animals roam. At one such auction in a VFW hall in the upstate New York town of Herkimer, tables were piled high with the furs of hundreds of muskrats, beavers, fishers, mink, red fox, gray fox, otters, bobcats and coyotes.

“They like the white-belly coyotes, something like this, the whiter belly,” said John Rutherford, a trapper and hunter, showing a lush, long-haired coyotes.

Fur experts say the uptick in coyote demand began with Canada Goose parkas, with their distinctive Arctic Circle patch, a brand that went big in 2013 when model Kate Upton famously wore one over her bikini on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit Issue. Over the years, more celebrities and their fashion-conscious followers began donning the parkas, which now can retail for more than $1,000 each.

“Canada Goose is always the name that people relate to, but there are so many other brands that make similar coats,” said Mark Downey, CEO of Fur Harvesters Auction Inc. of North Bay, Ontario. “Basically, it’s just a coyote trim ruff that goes around the hood of all those kinds of coats.”

Downey suspects the bull market for coyote will continue. North American Fur Auctions was similarly optimistic in a November web posting, saying the trim business continues to be in full fashion with Canada Goose being the major taker.

Toronto-based Canada Goose did not respond to requests for comment.

Trappers face competition

The hot market for coyotes comes as trappers deal with recent economic slumps in China and Russia, competition from ranched fur and the intense ire of animal welfare activists, who consider the popular steel leg-hold traps particularly cruel.

Coyote trappers see themselves as sportsmen helping control populations of a ubiquitous animal often considered a nuisance. Coyotes have been spotted from the streets of Los Angeles to Manhattan’s Central Park. Farmers view them as chicken poachers, and suburban residents see them as threats to their pets.

To trappers, coyotes are one of the few money-making animals, along with bobcats and a few others.

“It is the one bright spot in most of the country,” said Dave Linkhart, of the National Trappers Association.

Hughes will pay trappers an average of $75 to $105 and as much as $120 for a western coyote. He sells to operations that create trim strips, which sells to garment makers.

“The coyotes that we have here in Montana are probably the best coyotes in the world for trim,” Hughes said. “They’re heavy, so the hair stands up for the trim, and they’re pale.”

Western coyotes scarce

He handles an average of 10,000 coyotes annually, though the numbers are down for western coyotes this year. Some blame early-season snow in Canada and the western United States, which made it harder for trappers to get out. Others believe there are simply fewer western coyotes this winter.

Either way, Downey said, “there’s not enough western coyotes to go around,” increasing demand on eastern coyotes, which tend to have coarser fur.

At the Herkimer auction, eastern coyotes tended to sell for $19 to $46. Rutherford made more than $200 for seven coyote furs.

“Coyotes are going to move,” he said. “Good-quality coyotes are going to sell. “

126 українських спортсменів здобули ліцензії на II Європейські ігри

З 21 до 30 червня в білоруському Мінську відбудуться ІІ Європейські ігри, де представники 50 країн змагатимуться у 15 видах спорту (23 дисципліни).

Збірна України вже здобула 126 ліцензій. Найбільшу кількість «путівок» на Європейські ігри мають легкоатлети (21 ліцензія), веслувальники на байдарках і каное (20) та представники самбо (15). Також Україна буде представлена у баскетболі, боксі, велосипедному спорт шосе, художній та спортивній гімнастиці, пляжному футболі, стрільбі з лука, стендовій стрільбі, кульовій стрільбі, стрибках на батуті та спортивній акробатиці.

Наразі тривають кваліфікаційні змагання, а з ними й боротьба за право виступу на престижному форумі Старого Світу, кажуть у Національному олімпійському комітеті. На цьогорічних Іграх також розіграють олімпійські ліцензнії на Токіо-2020

Європейські ігри започатковано в 2015 році, тоді збірна України виборола 46 медалей, з яких – 8 золотих, 14 срібних та 24 бронзові.