Thursday, September 25, 2014

Argentine Protesters Burn American Flag at U.S. Embassy

Argentine Protesters Burn American Flag at U.S. Embassy

Argentine Protesters Burn American Flag at U.S. Embassy

Posted: 24 Sep 2014 04:36 PM PDT

Several hundred protesters gathered tonight at the American Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina to sing, chant and burn the American flag.

The protest was triggered by the closing of RR Donnely. The American printing company, which had a presence in the South American capital for twenty years closed following Argentina's second financial meltdown in a little over a decade.

The default has resulted in inflation hovering around 38% and many small busniesses have closed their doors.

Economists report that 11 percent of Argentines currently live at, or below, the poverty level. The economists feel there is good reason to believe those living in poverty in South America's second largest country will hit 40 percent before the end of the year.

Following the lead of Argentine President Cristina Kirchner, the protesters at the embassy blamed America and the "vulture" funds for the economic problems at home. Kirchner has continued the monologue that she started a little over a year ago, blaming everyone, and everything, for the country's current financial problems.

Argentina, which was the 6th largest economy in the world as recently as the sixties, has been unable to shake off the the evil twins of Peronism, which has created a cancer on the country's economy. The military dictatorship from 1976 - 1983 also took its toll on the Argentine psyche.

The latest round of protests happened on the same day that Kirchner spoke to the United Nations in New York begging the organization to understand the Argentine woes

This posting includes an audio/video/photo media file: Download Now

Clemson Shuts Down Greek Life

Posted: 24 Sep 2014 12:22 PM PDT

To Whom It May Concern:

   I want to begin my letter by addressing the tragedy that occurred on Monday morning. I was only fortunate enough to meet Tucker Hipps once, but from what I have heard about him, our student body has lost a kind and passionate leader. In this time of grieving, it is important that the Clemson family stands strong, stays together, and remembers Tucker for the man he was and not the circumstances surrounding how he left us. He was an upstanding member of our community and will be missed dearly.


   Having said that, I would like to discuss some of the repercussions that have come as a result of recent hazing, alcohol, and sexual misconduct allegations against fraternity chapters at Clemson. One of the great aspects of the American judicial system is that all parties are innocent of an offense until they are proven guilty in a court of law. It is important to remember this fact because there have been many rumors and allegations against fraternity members at Clemson that are either unproven or completely ungrounded. By spreading these rumors around campus, we are not only hurting our community, but are also hurting our national reputation as a top 20 public university. It is for these reasons that I ask that the student body reserve judgment until law enforcement is able to properly investigate the situation.


   Having said this, I believe that Clemson University and the Office of Community and Ethical Standards has handled this case in an unfortunate way not becoming of a top 20 public university. When the Clemson family loses one of our own, we need to take time to remember the deceased and show love and support for their friends and family. On Tuesday evening at 8:00, a ceremony was held to remember Tucker and celebrate his life. At 7:51, nine minutes before the start of the ceremony, Clemson released a notice that all fraternities on campus had been suspended indefinitely. In doing this, the university showed disrespect towards Tucker and the Clemson community by taking attention away from the young man's death and focusing it on the sanctions given to all of Greek Life. Tucker's death should be remembered as the time we lost a member of our community, not as the time all fraternities on campus were suspended. The university did not give adequate time for grieving and remembering, and for this, I am truly disappointed.


   Aside from the unfortunate timing by the university, the sanctions that have been announced are the worst possible way of handling the situation. Greek life at Clemson is a tight-knit community that includes over 20% of the student body. We have been told that 12 of the 24 fraternities on campus have combined for upwards of 30 claims against them this semester. While allegations against these 12 fraternities are concerning, the problem is that 12 fraternities have allegations against them, not 24. By punishing all fraternities based on allegations against 12 of them, Clemson University is saying, "if you're Greek, there is no right way of doing things". These blanket sanctions against Greek Life punish 12 fraternities that could have broken the rules, but they also punish 12 fraternities that worked hard to ensure safety and compliance with the rules within their chapters. Instead of shutting down all fraternities, why not just place the ones facing allegations on probation? Why not make an example on both sides? Say, "If you break the rules, you will be put on probation like these fraternities. If you don't break the rules, you will be allowed to operate normally and enjoy Greek Life at Clemson." Instead of rewarding the exemplary chapters for their good behavior, Vice President of Student Affairs Gail DiSabatino forbade members of all fraternities from "gathering in groups of three or more in a social setting". This means, not only are fraternity chapters put on probation from daily activities, it also means that people in fraternities are not allowed to be social with some of their best friends. In a time where Clemson should be coming together as a community to support each other in a difficult situation, are these sanctions really what the university sees as the best response?


   I am not one to complain about a problem and not offer a solution. The problem is that the solution has already been found. Clemson University mandated that "all new members be initiated by 9:00 on Friday". If the problem is hazing, end pledging for the semester. If the problem is sexual misconduct, end the chapter for the semester. Whatever the solution, ending all fraternity events and involvement at Clemson is not it. As a school, as a community, and as a family we need to come together and rally behind those affected by this horrible situation. We need to say, "We lost one of our own, but we are a family and we will get through this." In the wake of this recent tragedy, I have never been more proud to be a Clemson Tiger. The amount of love and support shown to Tucker's friends, family, and fraternity would be unmatched by any other school community. It is time that the university shifts its focus from levying sanctions on its students to supporting these young men and women in their time of need.

  Go Tigers

This posting includes an audio/video/photo media file: Download Now

Un año fatal (a disastrous year)

Posted: 24 Sep 2014 02:13 AM PDT

Here in Galicia, the annual grape harvest is a time for celebration; the culmination of six months hard work. This year is different. Many growers are counting the cost of un año fatal.

For many, the season began back in February or early March. Last year's fruiting canes were pruned ready for the coming season.

By the beginning of April the first buds had begun to burst into life.

From busting buds to bright-green foliage; by the end of May the vineyard looked full of life.

The end of June saw young grapes swell in the warm sunshine.

Unseasonably damp weather in mid July brought with it black rot, the vinicultural equivalent of the Black Death. Facing the prospect of a complete loss we worked tirelessly to save what we could.

The final cost of this destructive disease resulted in an 80% reduction on last year's yield. For us this is heartbreaking; for others, financially disastrous. Some have fared much better but others, even worse.

Work began early on harvest day (vendimia). We woke to a bright and dry morning. Thin veils of mist clung to low lying valleys as the morning sun struggled to break through wispy clouds. The previous day we'd collected the empty fruit crates from the bodega (wine cellar), ready for the day ahead.

Armed with a sharp pair of secateurs the picking began. The ground was damp from a night-time downpour, so too was the foliage. The slightest tug on overhead vines brought with it a shower of water droplets.

By 10:30 am the red Mencia grapes were picked. We packed them into the trailer and sped off to the bodega. I couldn't wait to use my new machine: crushing and destemming in one process. I only wish there'd been more to crush.

Once the must (grape juice) is safely stored in the vat the science begins. From a sample of juice I tested the sugar content (brix): a little low but easy to adjust, next the TA (tartaric acid) and finally the pH. Two years ago I inadvertently put my decimal point one place to the right and killed 180 litres of white wine. I checked my result; then double checked, just to make sure. A solution of potassium metabisulphite stuns the natural yeast. Twenty four hours later I added commercially produced wine yeast to kick-start the fermentation process.

For the time being, work in the vineyard is at an end. The vine leaves will soon turn rusty-red and golden-brown before falling to the ground. Weather permitting there'll be one final tilling of the soil before year end.

Attention now turns to the fruit: from grapevines to delicious wines. The disappointing harvest is history; the next challenge lies ahead.

Copyright © 2014 Craig Briggs


Craig and Melanie own and operate a luxury farmhouse rental property called Campo Verde. To find out more about a stay at Campo Verde and Galicia in general, visit their website

Craig's book, Journey To A Dream, is available exclusively from Amazon, to purchase your copy click for your national Amazon store.

This posting includes an audio/video/photo media file: Download Now


Post a Comment