Dynamic and diverse Da Culkin Clan

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CUENCA, Ecuador — Founded in Cuenca, Ecuador in 2013 the hip hop band known as Da Culkin Clan consists of Pablo Jerónimo, voice, guitar and keyboards; Leo Espinoza, voice and guitar; Chris Diaz, MC; Sebastián Salazar, bass player and Tito Bravo, drummer. Recently there has been a change in the band –bass player Sebastian Salazar has decided to leave the group. But don’t expect that to slow down or change the way these guys make music.

After speaking with Leo and asking how they came up with the original and dynamic group name, he said, “Well the name came from the decadent movie star MaCaulay Culkin. We always saw him as an interesting character because he used to be this innocent kid and then he got hooked on drugs. We always reference pop culture in our music, so we thought he would be the perfect icon to use. And the clan part is because all rappers are known to be in clans, posies or gangs, so we added that part.”

Da Clan is widely known for their outrageous and original costumes that vary from show to show. Their most popular song, “Sometimes You Make The Love,” consists of lyrics that relate to “The Titanic,” MaCaulay Culkin, “Home Alone,” the Amazon and Ecuador. All of their songs contain both Spanish and English lyrics, which makes their music stand out from other bands.

Da Culkin Clan released their first album called “Special Dark” in 2014.

They also have three official music videos for their songs “Sometimes You Make The Love,” “Po Pi Chao,” and “Baila El Brando Denso.” Be sure to check out the music of this one-of-a-kind band.  Their hilarious and indifferent music videos can be found on YouTube.

I don’t doubt this band has and will continue to up the Hip Hop scene here in Ecuador.

By: Marla Crosbie

Photos: Marla Crosbie


Leonard Nimoy, known as Mr. Spock to all, dies at 83

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Leonard Nimoy, known as Mr. Spock to all who are fans of the original Star Trek series, passed away Friday morning at his home in Bel Air, Los Angeles. He was 83.

Last year the actor announced that he was suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease as a result of years of smoking — a habit which he quit more than three decades ago. He was hospitalized earlier in the week as a result of complications, but was released a few days ago.

Nimoy, who became famous for his role as Spock in the original Star Trek series as well as in the recent Star Trek movie franchise, has been a role model in a diffusion of culture, having been the author of books, poetry, music, and even photography.

His real break in the industry came as result of having made a good impression on Gene Roddenberry, the famous creator of Star Trek, who had Nimoy appear in every single episode of the three-season series.

Star Trek is perhaps one of the most famous sci-fi TV shows throughout television history, where together with William Shatner, who played the handsome and dashing Captain Kirk, Nimoy challenged many cultural norms prevalent in the 60’s by fighting xenophobia and misogyny and by featuring a multicultural cast.

Initially, the show did not gain popularity among a wide audience, and did not go beyond a third season, but its enduring legacy, embodied in Star Trek’s famous fan base, led to the equally famous Star Trek: The Next Generation and other spin-offs.

Nimoy also starred in numerous films since Star Trek. He played Vincent Van Gogh in the famous “Vincent” “and even Golda Meir’s husband in “A Woman Called Golda.” He has also directed numerous movies, and has appeared in plays such as “A Street Car Name Desire.”

The most interesting aspect of Nimoy’s career, perhaps, was his difficulty with being type-casted as Spock as a result of his enduring legacy perpetuated by “Trekkies.” In 1975 he wrote an autobiography entitled “I Am Not Spock,” but nearly 20 years later, in 1995, he embraced his role as Spock and wrote his second autobiography called “I am Spock.” Since then he has appeared in numerous TV shows, from The Simpsons to Futurama, flaunting but also making fun of the Vulcan character that had made him famous.

Nimoy has had a profound effect on sci-fi culture by bringing the famous split-fingered salute — that many of us have struggled to do — into the public view, as well as the ubiquitous words: “Live long and prosper.”

By Milad Doroudian

Image by NBC Television

Child of Holocaust survivors, Jeanne Beker, to lead book launch

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Jeanne Beker, a child of holocaust survivors, will lead the Azrieli Foundation Book Launch, with a reading of her parents’ memoir, “Joy Runs Deeper,” at the Museum of Vancouver on Thursday, Feb. 19.

“Joy Runs Deeper,” by Bronia and Joseph Beker, is an important literary view of the way life was in Poland, precisely in Kozowa, a small town in the east, after the 1939 invasion by Nazi Germany. The memoir is a rich tale of luck, kindness, but most importantly, it is filled with the narratives of two people that survived hell.

The Bekers, who were both born in a small shtetl in Eastern Poland, managed to survive the war, through horrible circumstances, yet the most important moral of the story is that they did it together.

In a statement released by the Museum of Vancouver, Jeanne Beker said, “As a child of [Holocaust] survivors, I’m keenly aware that I have been left with a legacy that’s as powerfully daunting as it is inspiring.

“Now I realize it was [my parents’] storytelling [about their experiences during the Holocaust] that made me who I am, colouring my personal philosophies, imparting a sense of resilience and instilling in me a precious instinct for survival,” said Beker.

This will be the first time the book will be launched on the West Coast. The entire experience will be enriched by the Museum of Vancouver, who will put on an exhibition that features rare examples of haute couture and Vancouver-made clothing and accessories that reflect how WWII changed society as a whole.

In a CBC interview last year, Jeanne Beker expressed,”Most Holocaust survivors do not want to tell their stories. They do not want to openly talk about it because it is so painful.”

The reading will be an important experience for those who are interested in learning more about the Shoah, as well as the Second World War.

The reading has been organized by the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre in partnership with the Azrieli Foundation and the Museum of Vancouver.

The Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre is the leading institution in British Columbia that is dedicated to teaching Holocaust education, with a particular focus on Canada.

The Museum of Vancouver holds numerous exhibitions on Vancouver’s past, but also aims to connect Vancouver to the world.

The Azrieli Foundation pledged $5 million to to the Birthright Israel Foundation of Canada at the beginning of February.

By Milad Doroudian

Image by Daniele Dalledonne

Paris Magnum Photography exhibition captures 80 years of city’s history

Paris Magnum Photography exhibition captures 80 years of city’s history
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PARIS — One woman spectator gasps at a photo of what appears to be severed body parts being washed in a sink by a woman smiling gaily for the camera. When another woman passes the same photo, she reads the description and laughs aloud to herself, prompting the incredulous woman to lean in close to the small print to discover the dismembered body parts are actually sculptures at the Musée Grévin, captured on film in 1982 by Guy Le Querrec.

This winter, a series of 150 photographs at Hôtel de Ville captures the last 80 years in the City of Lights, from a light-hearted moment at one of Paris’s finest museums to the aftermath of World War II. The photographs are selections from Magnum Photos, an extremely exclusive photo journalism agency founded in 1947 in New York and Paris that began with four photographers, whose names are highly-esteemed in their field: Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, George Rodger and David “Chim” Seymour.

The free exhibit is arranged in a long rectangle inside Hôtel de Ville and organized into five chronological sequences, beginning with 1932 – 1944 with photos taken by the agency’s founders before they established Magnum Photos. This era, dubbed by the exhibit as “Magnum Before Magnum” includes photos such an eerie shot of a man striding through watery streets at Place de l’Europe in 1932, as though Cartier-Bresson is capturing the fleeing peace in Paris before the war. Others from this time show poverty, as well as smiles, such as in a Seymour photograph from 1936 of two dozen construction workers taking a break to pose on the railing of a crane at Saint-Ouen.

“Poverty and Inquietude” depicts the era following the Second World War. The introduction to this sequence says, “Few smiles in these photos …”, yet some of the most whimsical pieces of the exhibit are pinned to this era, including the 1953 “Peintres de la Tour Eiffel” by Marc Riboud, capturing a force of jolly painters on their lunch break sitting atop their current worksite – The Eiffel Tower – with no rigs or ropes to save them from a lethal slip. Another Riboud photo of a small dog riding atop the back of a larger dog walking a tight-rope, much to the entertainment of bystanders, contradicts the “poverty and inquietude” in the other photographs of this sequence.

“Les Années Pop” (The Pop Years) spans from 1960 – 1969, described as the time of the mini skirt, the “Nouvelle Vague,” pop art, and, of course, the revolution of ’68. A Henri Cartier-Bresson photograph of the famous student occupation of The Sorbonne captures the spirit of revolution, lead primarily by Paris’ youth. Photos from the workers and students demonstrating at Place de la République in May 1968 spark a striking comparison to the recent historical solidarity march at the same place in Paris.

1970 – 1989 “Reaction and Philosophical Resistance,” is marked as “the antithesis of the epoch.” Two landmarks Paris is most known for today were constructed in this time – tucked between photos of when Patrice Chéreau, François Truffaut, Jean-Pierre Léaud, Coluche and Gainsbourg
were young and handsome” are photographs of the construction of the Grand Arch de la Défence and the pyramid at the Louvre

The final “epoch” is named “An Aesthetic of the Margins,” from 1990 to 2014, a reflection of the city today, although the city seems in some ways to have never changed at all. “Many of the photographs in this exhibit seem so familiar, like they were taken just yesterday, even if they’re from decades ago,” says Nina Zeijpveld, who lives in Paris, “but others showed me a side of Paris I never knew about.” These color photographs have a more familiar feeling for younger Paris inhabitants, such as a 2003 shot of people sitting among green neon lights at Nuit Blanche, or a shot of Champs-Élysées Christmas markets in 2005. Observers can see how photographers began to play with new effects, such as two separate photographs taken through a glass pane. “It gives the feeling of being in a dream,” Zeijpveld says. The section speaks of a growing difficulty for photojournalism with the abundance of televised news, but also of Magnum Photos artists’ dedication as they continue to delve into the city, capturing its slight waves and enormous breakers in ways fast-paced televised pictures could never do.

Slightly removed from these five sections of the exhibit are two more parts, along each far wall of the room. Along the right wall, projectors cast slideshows, separated by the building’s pillars – black and white photos of the Paris jazz scene include mostly the black community, which doesn’t seem to have as many faces in the rest of the exhibit, allowing a peek into yet another part of Paris’s past that inhabitants like Zijpveld may not have known much about.

The portrait wall is lined with photos almost all black and white and almost all recognizable – Pablo Picasso in his studio, photographed by Robert Capa in 1944. Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Serge Gainsbourg, Francois Sagan in his apartment … The posed portraits give life to the subject’s era in a way the exhibit’s other photographs cannot. Edith Piaf’s shining eyes bring a personal perspective to the time, casting the observer into her life, into the Parisian atmosphere she experienced every day. As with any story, the story of these 150 photographs is told most personally through the faces of individuals, and the wall of portraits seals the room of Parisian history with a string of understanding times past.

Photography books, postcards and other souvenirs are on sale in front of the exhibition, which runs until March 28.

By Felicia Bonanno

Eighth Küstendorf International Film and Music Festival

Eighth Küstendorf International Film and Music Festival
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BELGRADE, Serbia — Happy are the ones who retain childhood for their entire life time, enough to believe in fairy tales. Emir Kusturica decided to share his fairy tale, and he struggled hard throughout his life to bring it closer to his audience. A famous director, author of “Sećaš li se Doli Bel,” “Arizona dream,” “Underground,” and other movies, he is one of seven directors Bertrand Tavernier in Kustendorfwith two films that have won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Once he said, “Every time I’m shooting a movie I want to kill myself. Because I don’t see the light in the end of the tunnel.”

The eighth Kustendorf film and music festival took place Jan. 21-26, 2015, and the festival might be the light waiting at the end of Kusturica’s tunnel.

Kusturica has had a great influence on the seventh art with his movies. Many younger authors followed his approach and copied the surreal in their effort to allure the audience to dream and step into the movie scene.

Alex Garcia arrivalKusturica continues with his wonders, so he built Drvengrad (Wooden City) in Mećavnik, Serbia. Drvengrad is a whole village made of natural materials, mainly wood and stone, creating a magical structure of traditional architecture and new artistic trends.

Drvengrad hovers between museum, large art exhibition and gastronomic venue. Along with the cinema, musical events are organized all over the place. On top of everything, a small and cute wooden church reminds us of the Russian way of building.

one of many concertsStarting in 2008, this place has hosted the Kustendorf movie and music festival, creating a chance for young directors and actors to meet their older and globally famous colleagues. Over the years, many eminent actors and directors have visited the festival; we will mention only few of them: Nikita Mikhalkov, Jim Jarmusch, Johnny Depp, Isabelle Huppert, Monica Belucci, Andrei Konchalowski, Alfonso Cuarón, Bertrand Tavernier…

The Kustendorf movie and music festival awards young authors with three eggs: Golden, Silver and a Bronze one. For 2015, the winners were:

The Golden Egg – Giacomo Abbruzzese for the film “Stella Maris;”

The Silver Egg – Marko Sopić for the film “The Bag;”

The Bronze Egg – Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson for the film “Whale Valley.”

Drvengrad 1There is also an award handed out for films yet to be made…





The festival is unique for its surroundings. Amid hundred year old pine forests and clean rivers, a narrow-gauge railway passes through the old train 2village of Mokra Gora (549 residents), just under Drvengrad. The railway was active from 1925 to 1974, connecting Belgrade with Adriatic Sea. Rebuilt in recent years, it is a tourist attraction now. Many visitors are here to experience the joy of the steam engine whistle and a cowboy-style coach. Unlike other parts of Serbian Railways, everything is in order here. The train starts when scheduled and arrives on time.The coach is clean, personnel dressed properly. Old train, old engine, new rails. A long time ago, this was a very convenient way to travel from Sarajevo to Belgrade. Now, another section of old railway has been reconstructed and will connect Višegrad with Kremna. The total length of the planned railway is around 50 kilometers. The entire area is 245 km away from Belgrade and another 136 from Sarajevo. Only half an hour away from Mecavnik, there are another two mountains, Tara and Zlatibor, both offering attractive tours and decent hotels.

And, in this picturesque and exciting area, Emir Kusturica created a unique hive, attracting others to come and contribute to this spring of creativity. Inactive in terms of politics, he is always ready to emphasize his anti-globalism and injustice towards small nations. We wish him many more festivals and bright light at the end of the tunnel.

By Miroslav Velimirovic

Neon and history: Museum of Vancouver’s permanent light show

Neon and history: Museum of Vancouver’s Permanent Light Show
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The 50s and 60s were gaudy times in Vancouver, not only because of the people, but also the neon lights that cluttered most of its main streets. The incessant buzzing sound in the Museum of Vancouver’s Neon Vancouver/Ugly Vancouver exhibit is an impassioned window into what Vancouver might have looked like before it was this boring.

The exhibit, which is run by the museum’s curator Joan Seidl and was created by Revolve Design, has been open since 2011. It is a riveting look at a period when people did not have to worry about electric bills shutting their business down, and lobbying did not have much pull in town hall.

The MOV website claims that there were around 19,000 signs in Vancouver through the uncanny decades of fluorescent debauchery.

“The exhibition raises interesting questions about how we collectively construct the way our city is portrayed,” says Neon Vancouver | Ugly Vancouver curator, Joan Seidl, Director of Exhibitions and Collections at MOV. “There was a real push in the 60s and 70s to redefine Vancouver as a green, natural space. While we may love neon today, there was a real outcry against neon signs, which represented a more industrial, urban city.”

Yet there is more to neon, at least back then, than meets the eye — or better said, burns it. It was undoubtedly a sign of economic growth, at least among small business owners, whose efforts in trying to catch people’s attentions with the most luminous designs usually paid off, until the streets simply got too busy, and even too shiny.

Vancouver, experienced a surge of industrial expansion, especially in the 60s, which translated into relatively better wages and generally a better standard of living. Still, for many this did not mean that they wanted neon signs taking over their city. The contrast must have been exceptional, between the nature that surrounds Vancouver, and the signs that buzzed in the streets.

The surprise that is not so evident however is that a great deal of Vancouverites have failed to see the exhibit, let alone visit the Museum of Vancouver which holds so much treasure-in historical format. It seems that when I ask someone my age if they have seen or heard about it, it is astonishing to find out that they did not. Not only that, but they did not know that at one point in its history Vancouver was lighted up with pink and red, and not just grey concrete, and blue glass.

By Milad Doroudian

Images by Suzanne Rushton.

Amid memorials, forgotten names come to light – Carl Lutz and The Legendary Glass House in Budapest exhibit in Vancouver

Amid memorials, forgotten names come to light - Carl Lutz and The Legendary Glass House in Budapest exhibit in Vancouver
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VANCOUVER, B.C — Seventy years have gone by since the Allies liberated Auschwitz and the horrors that laid inside were made public to the world. The Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre has decided that in addition to a symbolic memorial, they will bring forgotten heroes to light.

Carl Lutz and The Legendary Glass House in Budapest exhibit is a mesmerizing ode to a man who managed to save 62,000 people by handing out fake papers and setting up a total of 76 safe-houses across Budapest. The exhibit is dedicated therefore to positivity in life, rather than to death.

Trinkets, personal belongings, memoirs, diaries and the full narratives of many of the survivors that Lutz’s bravery saved are on display, yet above all it is the stories that all of these form together which is salient. Ones which show how the moral alacrity of an individual managed against great odds to save people from their certain death in places such as Auschwitz.

Who was Carl Lutz?

Born in Switzerland to a quintessentially Swiss family, he escaped European mores and left for the United States to attend college in Washington, D.C., which led him to an inspiring –and successful mind you — career in diplomacy.

In 1942 he was appointed as vice-consul in Budapest, from where he managed to save over 10,000 children by giving them safe passage to Israel through Switzerland. However, in 1944 during the Nazi occupation, when the reality of what was happening became known across Eastern Europe, Lutz came up with an ingenious plan.

After being able to persuade the local government to allow the safe passage of 8,000 Jews by issuing letters of protection, he gave out tens of thousands that all contained a number between 1 to 8,000. He did this without ever being caught, which is incogitable. Despite this brilliant moral attainment, the safe-houses that he set up were equally essential to their escape. The most famous of these was the “Glass House,” from which the exhibition borrows its name.

The “House,” which was in fact more of an industrial storage building, functioned as a safe haven for around 3,000 people, during the most difficult period of the war when the Nazis were losing and wanted to murder as many Jews as possible before the front moved back. The logistics of providing food, and water for that many people was without a doubt mind-numbing, especially when trying to evade any suspicion from both the German army and Hungarian citizens.

During his commission, apparently one day Lutz saw a woman bleeding from gunshot wounds and drowning in the Danube river. He jumped in after her and saved her, all in front of the German firing squad that pushed her in. He took her to his car and gave her a ride to the Swiss Embassy. Today that staith is named the Car Lutz Rakpart. Incidentally he was the first Swiss-born national to be awarded the Righteous Among Nations award which is given to those who saved the lives of Jews, at the risk of their own.

The exhibition is meant to educate people on the Holocaust, but more precisely highlight the actions of Lutz that seem to have been forgotten by history in the last few decades. In addition it is a stepping stone for the collaborative efforts of the Swiss consul and like-minded Jewish institutions who want to tell his story: one of hope and dignity.

Nina Krieger, the executive director of the VHEC said of the exhibit, “The response to the Carl Lutz exhibit, particularly among students, has been very positive. Presented to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the Nazi occupation of Hungary, the exhibit illuminates a story of diplomatic rescue, providing an opportunity for visitors to reflect on the complexity of moral decision-making during the Holocaust. Visitors have been particularly drawn to the artifacts and testimonies displayed alongside the travelling exhibit, which relate to the experiences of Vancouver-based Hungarian Holocaust survivors. The power of these primary sources is unparalleled, particularly for young people visiting the VHEC.”

The VHEC, founded in 1983 by survivors, aims to educate the public, not only of the events of the Holocaust but the narratives of the individuals that both perished, and survived. The Carl Lutz Exhibition ends on the 13th of March

By Milad Doroudian
Photo: Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre

Artist appeals for hard work and self-reliance in South Sudan

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JUBA, South Sudan – A South Sudanese local artist and a former presenter of Juba’s Capital FM, Ronyo Remmy, with a stage name of Dr. Remmy, has who founded a studio in Juba, has said peace and development lie with the entire people, rather than waiting for external actors.

“The welfare of our communities, families and individuals rests on our collective efforts to take advantage of opportunities to fight for peace, diseases, poverty and gender based violence.”

He said if the people can work together, the cause of poverty leading which leads to the backwardness of our communities and nation as a whole, will make progress.

The artist stressed his desire for all mankind to enjoy life above the poverty line and save women from HIV/AIDS and other diseases.

“People, especially the youth, have to change their behaviors because they are at risk of getting the deadly sexually transmitted diseases.”

He called on government and non-governmental organizations to empower women, children, youth, orphans and business communities as one way of poverty eradication and holistic sustainable peace, love, unity and development amongst ourselves.

Dr. Ronyo further urged people to work hard, rather than waiting for simple things such as personal belongings to be put on the table by relatives, and to initiate small businesses which he said will grow with time and help them.

James Abola, the team leader of Akamai Global, a business and financial consulting firm, wrote that other people wrongly think that they can get rich by demanding money from others.

In this category, Abola cited friends and relatives who think they are entitled to enjoy the wealth of other people solely because of their relationships.

“You cannot become rich using demand technique because victims will become more careful as they avoid getting robbed. But even if you succeed with the robbery, you must lose this money one day if there is truly God,” Abola said.

The artist compared a small business undertaking to a mango plant which grows into a big tree after few years, and the mangoes are eaten by the owner who planted, the rest by the neighbors and the surplus is sold, a source of money.

Asked about his future plans, the artist said he plans to build an informed health and united developed community, regardless of tribes, states and regional origin through his music and videos.

He has so far produced two albums and is now working on a third. The first album has songs such as “Suffering,” “No More War,” I Miss My Darling,” “Be Ready,” and the second contains, “Why Are We Fighting” and “Let’s Come Together”–popular songs.

Commenting on joining music in 2009, the artist pointed out that, “It was when I recognized the existence of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Discrimination and the different forms of human abuses amidst vast socioeconomic, cultural, and political differences in our present society, and noting with appreciation the various policies, structures and opportunities put in place by the government, donors and micro-finance institutions, convinced me to educate the people via music.”

Besides educating the masses, he said that music helps him in life by paying his bills since he is married and saves to further his education by enrolling in one of the universities early next year in Uganda.

The artist said he has performed in Juba and other counties in Central Equatoria in South Sudan, Arua, Nyadri and he had a tour on Sept. 19, 20, 21 and 22, 2014, with Young Mulo in Arua, Paidha, Madi Okollo and Nyadri in Uganda.

By Moi Julius

Is Jay Wilds the real star of Serial?

Is Jay Wilds the real star of Serial?
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For those who are unaware, Serial is Sarah Koenig’s search for the truth behind Hae Min Lee’s murder in 1999.

The case is simple. The victims of the crime of passion in question were two teenage immigrant American lovers who split up at the turn of the century. Born abroad and raised in the US, Hae from Korea and Adnan Syed from  Pakistan, puppy love, if their relationship at the time could be called one was occupied their time together. Like all teenage crushes, the relationship cookie crumbled. Then there was Don. Onion Inc’s The Serial, called Don’s involvement with Lee a “bombshell.” Anyone who splits moves on, and so did Hae. Wiser than before, she moved on to an older man quicker than expected, who obviously would take her seriously, and hopefully not break her heart. Jilted by his first love, Adnan was upset, as would any hot-blooded boy experiencing his first heartbreak. He tells his “friend” Jay Wilds he’s upset, wants to hurt Hae, and misses school, but returns to his usual humdrum life as a student at Woodlawn High in Baltimore.

Weeks later, Lee was found dead, asphyxiated in a carpark, and a year later Adnan was arrested, tried and sent to a life in prison for the crime.

What sent him so quickly to jail was his friend Jay Wilds’ statement.

Everyone involved in the case was heard from, all except for Jay. Zigzagging his way through the trial, at least according to Koenig’s and attorney Rabia Chaudry’s research, Jay’s statements were questioned during the production of the first season. Chaudry’s believes that a version of events as sporadic as Jay’s ideally will have been questioned if not totally dismissed during Adnan’s trial. Cristina Gutierrez, Adnan’s defense lawyer, presented evidence that might have changed the course of the case. Alas, for her and Adnan this wasn’t enough for an acquittal. Adnan was sent to jail for life, Gutierrez was disbarred and later passed way, and Hae’s family moved back to Korea with no closure at all.

For Chaudry, whose keen interest in the case resurrected it from the dead, some things weren’t really adding up. She wanted justice for Adnan, and the logical way to get to it was question Jay’s statement. Very quickly, Serial turned from the quest for Hae’s killer to a full blown ideological war between Jay and Adnan. Adnan had to defend himself and so the taped interviews with Koenig provided an insight from his point of view. For Jay who declined to make any comments on the case, there were the old tapes, but just weeks after Serial ended he turns up to clear his name.

Released as a three part interview, The Intercept’s Natasha Vargas-Cooper spoke to Jay about Serial. If you’ve read the lengthy interview, you simply will find a defensive and understandably upset Jay recount events that occurred on Jan. 13, 1999 as simply as he can. Condensed and focused on the occurrence of the events on the day, during the trial and almost 13 years after Serial tossed his name notoriously in the mix, Jay made no bones about his thoughts on Serial and Sarah Koenig.

In the first part, Jay talks about being a 16-year old dope dealer dealing with racism, being ostracised from the popular clique in the school, taking refuge on the downlow with small groups of friends, music and the outdoors and resenting school, like any normal teenager in Maryland.

Jay vaguely hung out with Adnan, barely remembered anything the both of them shared in common  apart from smoking weed, having the odd laugh, his relationship with Hae –he, who thought the athlete  was wiser than her years – and what he worked as to pay his bills. For two people who supposedly buried a young woman sent to her death disgracefully as it was, here is where most listeners can’t understand what brought Jay and Adnan were ever together in this crime.

Jay mentions Adnan wanting to hurt Hae, but does not speculate or draw conclusions. He doesn’t even know why they broke up, yet, he is made privy to Adnan’s intentions of hurting Hae for moving on. I’m no criminal, but if I were to commit a crime, I’d probably put my confidence in a friend who I know very well. He or she will have my back and if we are really close, maybe even take the fall for me. That didn’t happen here.

By his own admission, Jay always felt like an outcast at school. He thought that Adnan was a prude and idolized Hae to a certain extent, which is what anyone who was looked down on would do at school. Typical high school behaviour, you see. What I can’t understand is why of all the Moslem friends Adnan had, if he was attached to his community that bad, would he zero in on Jay. Why would someone who just killed a girl, dumped her in the trunk of her car give their car to someone they rarely know to pick them up after the crime?

The whole premise has loopholes as wide as a ditch right in the middle of the street. Here’s how it went down according to Jay: Adnan ditched last period with Jay in the car. Adnan leaves his car and  keys with Jay, who has to run to the mall to get Stephanie (his girlfriend at the time a gift). Adnan convinces him to take his keys and car, get dropped off at school. Jay buys the gift at the mall, goes to his friend Jenm’s house, smokes and get Adnan’s call to pick him up. He goes, picks up Adnan and just like that Adnan confesses his crime.

Up until this point the events on Jan 13, read like the script to a very bad C-grade movie. No crime even committed unintentionally has a script this bad. No crime is this simple. No crime is so badly planned, even by the dumbest of the lot.

But, let’s move on to Jay’s story. He picks Adnan up at this now infamous Best Buy, while Hae is dumped lifeless in the trunk of her car parked somewhere to be buried later. They go over to Cathy’s  house to smoke where three other friends Jeff, Laura and Jenn have turned up too. If I was confessed to by someone who just committed murder, I probably would tell the police or some friends I know. Reporting the crime would at least rule me out as an accomplice, especially if I have been seen moving around with the criminal. Jay’s mind thinks otherwise. In what universe does killing someone deserve lesser justice than drugs or implicating the innocent. Even if they did launch an investigation, wouldn’t the police rule out everyone since you aren’t guilty unless proven?

Jay fears for his grandmother, a strong matriarchal figure who probably would have been devastated if she know her grandson had helped bury Hae. Afraid of being arrested for trafficking drugs, Jay seems to contradict himself when he claims that he was worried about his family and friends being involved in this crime. For anyone studying this case, the friends and family had nothing to do with the murder. Unexplained, but it is what it is.

Adnan goes home, meets Jay outside his house sometime later in the evening and convinces him to bury Hae in Leakin Park. According to Jay, who went home and was dealing with a moral dilemma the same time as Adnan, he finds himself agreeing to bury the lifeless body of a woman he respected, at the behest of Adnan who is now driving Hae’ car with her body in the trunk.

Not even the stiff, cold, and pale corpse in the car moves Jay to spring into action. Instead he is blackmailed into digging a hole in the ground, to bury Hae. The blackmail is as dead as a doornail; a police threat regarding drugs and some other “shit” Jay was involved in. In what world was murder not shit that hit the fan, I can’t fathom. For Jay, burying Hae was what sounded right at the time. A price to pay to earn Adnan’s silence.

It is clear that Jay and Adnan are probably the only two people who knew about what had happened. They decided to abandon the idea of burying her because she’s heavy, but complete it anyway with Adnan, doing it all on his own. A mind game with parking Hae’s car in an unrecognised location ensues and then they’re off to bed. Harebrained. That’s what the whole plan sounds to anyone listening to it.

I get why Jay’s often opposing statements may have us all confused. He’s worried sick over being arrested for drug possession or involving his grandmother and friends, and refused to speak to the police until he was badgered into it after they dropped the idea of pursuing him for drugs. So, when did drugs become far more important than the life of an individual?

Jay testified in the trial and was given two years probation for being an accessory to murder. Although he testified, he says wasn’t the whistle-blower, who led the police to Adnan for a crime only he and Adnan knew everything about. Instead he lays the blame for the first time with some coherence on a priest of the Moslem community Adnan belonged to, saying that a confession ot a confidante may have led to his arrest. Interesting fact, the Moslems are not bound by the absent rite of confession and either someone in the community would’ve been notified of it before Jay was, since he was well acquainted with those in the mosque.

Going through the condensed interview with The Intercept, I find Jay’s justification almost comical. The second part of the interview tries to gauge what mental and moral pressure, Jay had to go through to testify against Adnan. He says he’s sorry he was an accessory, but then all that talk about selling more weed or choosing the right circle of friends is incoherent bullshit. Pardon my French, but anyone can see through it. A criminal has already lost a sliver of humanity that can only be redeemed by repenting and making up for it, so Jay’s link to humanity has obviously been saved by someone who seems to have a vested interest in the case.

Serial blew up on the internet and had millions hooked to hear what was up with the case. Even as far as New Zealand, where I live, Serial had us hooked. For Jay not to have heard about his name on it is ridiculous. Serial’s production has been on all year, and his refusal to speak on grounds that only Hae’s family, who by now moved to Korea, deserved closure and answers is what put him on the spotlight.

As for the emails, Koenig is a journalist and writer by heart, and is evident in the professional wording of her villain. She never aimed to portray Jay as a villain, he did that really well all on his own, but wanted to hear his side of the story to bring it to a full circle. If anything, she may be accused of sensationalising the case, but then, most of us were left disappointed with the end.

Jay’s choice to come out now is interesting. The internet and technology have come a long way from 2000. We now have Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and whole lot of sites other than Reddit to look for Jay Wilds. It’s common knowledge that his life is changed post Serial. He’s angry with Julie Snyder, Koenig and Chaudry who’ve dug up the past and made his present a living hell.

Jay’s not going to give up blaming Adnan for the murder, Koenig for stereotyping him and the general public willing to harm him under a false sense of justice. Journalists are bound by a code of ethics that prevents them from taking measures to reveal information of any sort that can be tracked to them. It will ruin the reputation of the skilled storytellers who will be labelled the ones crying wolf every time, they want to tell a story. No journalist likes discredit, it is professional hara kiri. Jay is justified in believing that either Koenig or Chaudry are involved in leaking information, ut he probably will have to explain why he thinks they would want to do it 13 years later.

Serial was to Adnan and the listeners hope and an answer to the death of Hae Min Lee and an attempt to find the real killer in the whodunnit. Koenig speculated it until the end. There was Don, the cell records, the call, the note from the library and a whole lot of newly discovered evidence, but what it lacked was Jay’s version of the events.

Jay’s interview also brings his fear of being targeted to the fore. We’re sorry that people are targeting his family and bringing up a criminal past that runs in his family in the light of this case. There is no place for retribution from impassioned listeners, and dredging up a chequered past, when we’re all bound to have one isn’t helping Adnan. We aren’t the law and rightfully should refrain from judgement, until those equipped with the law decide where to take this case.

Adnan and Lee have found a new lease of life in 2014. They’re being remembered for what they were and so is Jay. His refusal, denial and timing of the tell-all interview is perfect, but now that he’s come out of the woods, he’s not going back in. If there is a justice system that works, we’ll hear a lot more about this case. Here’s to hoping that Lee’s family finally learns the truth, unfortunately only Jay has the truth and it is time he sets the record straight.

No matter what, Serial popularity has raised Jay Wilds’ notoriety through the roof and undoubtedly made him the star of the podcast. But this star has a lot to tell us about Adnan Syed, so let’s wait.

Rathan Paul Harshavardan

Sony cancels The Interview’s release fearing threats

Sony cancels The Interview's release fearing threats
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Sony’s controversial Christmas Day comedy release “The Interview” is canceled following a series of leaks that exposed the politics happening behind Hollywood’s silver screen. In a sequence of events that unfolded over the past few days, the Guardians Of Peace threatened violence and engaged in cyber-warfare against the movie that centres around two funny journalists in the pursuit of Kim Jong-un.

Incensed by the release of what was supposed to be a $44 million comedy caper from funny men Seth Rogen and James Franco, Sony Corp was attacked by hackers leaking personal emails discussing work on other projects, employee details and unreleased movies distributing this information all over the world wide web.

A U.S. government source declared that Washington D.C. will officially announce who is behind the attack in the near future.

On Wednesday, when journalists asked if the movie will eventually be released in theaters or go straight to VOD, a Sony spokeswoman said, “Sony has no further release plans for the film.”

Security experts in Washington D.C. believe it is common knowledge that North Korea is behind the attacks, a fact vehemently denied by the Korean counterpart. Jim Lewis, a senior fellow with the Center for Strategic and International Studies says, “The North Koreans are probably tickled pink. Nobody has ever done anything this blatant in terms of political manipulation. This is a new high.”

Sony has come under criticism for its decision to pull the plug on the release of the movie, some viewing it as America’s first casualty in the cyber-war between the West and the East.

Former Republican House of Representatives speaker Newt Gingrich’s tweet sums up the reaction many Americans feel regarding the decision and its effect politically.

Despite the recent spate of attacks, Sony’s shares in Tokyo closed 4.8 percent higher than its previous 2.3 percent gain on the Nikkei benchmark index, on Thursday. Investors hope that the movie’s cancellation will end this crisis.

Makoto Kikuchi, CEO of Myojo Asset Management says, “By not releasing the movie, they won’t be hacked again. Investors think that from here on, further damage probably won’t be done. Whether that justifies a 5 percent jump in Sony’s stock, I’m not so sure.” Damian Thong, Macquarie Group’s analyst estimates that with the leaks, Sony’s worst case scenario is a loss of $84.41 million.

Sony stood by the film makers of “The Interview,” but said that it was, “ deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie, and in the process do damage to our company.”

Despite threats of a 9/11 styled attack on theaters that play and movie goers that watch the movie, the U.S. believes that there is no credible evidence of such threats to civilians.

By Rathan Paul Harshavardan

War Years Remembered, An Example of Selflessness

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Every once in a while you hear about acts of selflessness. They are one time acts of compassion and putting others before yourself. One such story of selflessness that has spanned over 40 years started when David McCallion’s Grandfather gave him his Princess Mary tin and belt. That became a lifelong passion, and now David McCallion is the founder and owner of a military museum located in Ballyclare, UK, called War Years Remembered.

The sole purpose of War Years Remembered, according to the website,  is “to preserve our history through two of the greatest impacts on this Isle during the 21st Century, i.e. World War I and II.

“We represent all our war dead and the survivors from all nations involved. Through education and understanding of the mistakes made in the past, and hopefully it will prevent it from happening again in the future and leave a lasting legacy for all our future generations.” The stated mission of WYR is, according to McCallion, to “bring history alive for all generations, giving both young and old a greater understanding of life during all the conflicts both on the battle field and on the home front.”

The collection is now a mobile museum and McCallion tours it throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland. He visits schools and participates in public events to give everyone a hands-on experience with history by touching and viewing the artifacts he has collected over the last 20 or so years.

In McCallion words, “Our past is their future and preservation is our goal, so that future generations will be able to benefit from the work that War Years Remembered has done through its restoration and preservation scheme. We are presently trying to secure a base museum which, with the right funding will be a very unique War Museum.”

War Years Remembered is not in competition with any other organization, WYR has stated. The predominate role of WYR is to fill in the blanks that are an important part of everyone’s heritage; it has supported other museums on this Isle and has been a very valuable teaching aide for schools and community groups in Ireland and the United Kingdom.

McCallion said that he is available for events, and is willing to talk to those interested in learning more about War Years Remembered. He can be contacted through the WYR website.

By Leslie Patterson

“Inside I See” – Photography of the Blind

Inside I See - Photography by Blind People
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The senses of the blind are beautifully and intriguingly captured in this series of photos taken by sightless Nepalese youths. Photo documentarian Sergey Stroitelev has created a photo project in Kathmandu unlike any other. The project was undertaken to give a new experience both to blind people, who seldom are asked to portray the visual world to sighted people, and to all the rest of us, here given a rare opportunity to appreciate the perspective of the blind–and to appreciate the gifts we have.


The project was completed in late summer in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, in co-operation with the Association for Blind People. It involved 12 blind/partially sighted young people residing in the city.

The idea of the project was to give single-use cameras to the city’s youth and ask them to take pictures of the things and people they wanted to see but could not because of their blindness. I always believed that the blind people have increased sensitivity to the environment around them and a rich inner world. By the means of photography I wanted to prove it.

I wanted participants to start feeling more confident in the things they were doing after taking part in this project. I was also sure that it was not necessary to have perfect vision to make good photographs, and to display this fact was the other aim of the initiative.

During the first meeting with the participants I distributed the cameras and conducted a small orientation class in order to explain to them how to use the cameras. I gave the young people a week to finish their rolls. After that, we met again and had a discussion about the experience they had. I collected the cameras for to develop the film. We all waited for the results with great impatience.

After four days of I finally got the images and I was astonished by them. The pictures of the participants displayed very simple things in quite an artistic manner–sky, trees, water, cityscapes, friends and family members–the things sighted people see every single day. However, we do not even think about the fact that some people are deprived of this opportunity. The images I had were full of sense and feeling.

Sometimes blind people are not understood by the sighted part of society, and are even discriminated against by it. The result of the project–brilliant images by the participants–should stand as testament that despite a disability to see, blind people are very sensitive and smart. They need support and assistance from the community to develop the talents they have. I also hope that after seeing the images sighted people will understand that they have a gift–to see–and they must cherish it.


Inside I See - Photography by Blind People


Inside I See - Photography by Blind People


Inside I See - Photography by Blind People


Inside I See - Photography by Blind People


Inside I See - Photography by Blind People


Inside I See - Photography by Blind People


Inside I See - Photography by Blind People


Inside I See - Photography by Blind People


Inside I See - Photography by Blind People


Inside I See - Photography by Blind People


Inside I See - Photography by Blind People


Inside I See - Photography by Blind People


Inside I See - Photography by Blind People


Inside I See - Photography by Blind People


Inside I See - Photography by Blind People


Inside I See - Photography by Blind People


Inside I See - Photography by Blind People


Inside I See - Photography by Blind People


Inside I See - Photography by Blind People


Inside I See - Photography by Blind People


Inside I See - Photography by Blind People


Inside I See - Photography by Blind People


Inside I See - Photography by Blind People


Inside I See - Photography by Blind People


Inside I See - Photography by Blind People


Inside I See - Photography by Blind People


Inside I See - Photography by Blind People


Inside I See - Photography by Blind People


Inside I See - Photography by Blind People


Inside I See - Photography by Blind People

Sergei Stroitelev was born in 1985 in Leningrad, Russia. He a documentary photographer working on long-term photography projects with a particular interest in human rights issues in Russia and Asia.

He is a graduate of Saint Petersburg School of Photojournalism, and is the winner of the a “Golden Mark” award for best diploma project for his work on the Maidan revolution in Ukraine, where he spent two months documenting the events.

He has also been awarded prizes including winner of Young Photographers of Russia Photofestival 2014 for the series of pictures from Maidan “Flashes,”  winner of Saint-Petersburg Photofestival 2014 for a series of pictures from Maidan “Flashes,” winner of Fotoevolution Festival 2013 (Kostroma, Russia) in the “Reportage” category, finalist of Miami Street Photography Festival 2013, second place at RusArtPhoto Festial 2013 (Suzdal’, Russia) in the “Portrait” category, and third place at Visible Features of the Era Photofestival 2013 in the “Life as an overcoming” category.

He has collaborated with numerous magazines including Life Force, VICE, Wall Street International magazine, Around the World, Russian Reporter, Neva Times, Lenta.ru, Colta.ru.

“I believe that photography can change the world for the best. By making documentary projects a photographer can raise awareness about social problems all around the world, accordingly giving knowledge to the individuals who are willing to help but do not know anything about particular issues. In this way we can together fight diseases, poverty and violence.”

– Sergey Stroitelev

By Sergey Stroitelev