DJ Betto Arcos Shares Essential Songs From His Travels In Cuba

Cuban drummer Yissy García is one of Betto Arcos’ travel finds.

Larisa López/Courtesy of the artist

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Larisa López/Courtesy of the artist

To prepare for his appearances on weekends on All Things Considered, DJ Betto Arcos travels the world looking for new music to bring back to our studios. This time, he shares several songs from his recent trip to Cuba.

Betto says the island nation might not have been prepared for the massive numbers of American tourists who’ve visited since the Obama administration announced a thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations in 2014. “Yet it’s prepared in its vibrancy and its excitement,” he says. “And music and food are two elements that are absolutely essential to visiting Cuba.”

Hear the conversation at the audio link, and listen to Betto’s picks below.

Hear The Tracks

Pancho Amat

Alejandro Reyes/Courtesy of the artist

01Una Vasca En Camaguey

7:14

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Pancho Amat

  • Song: Una Vasca En Camaguey

Roly Berrío

AM-PM/Courtesy of the artist

13La Jicotea

5:33

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Roly Berrío

  • Song: La Jicotea

Yissy Garcia

Larisa López/Courtesy of the artist

01Te Cogió Lo Que Anda

5:54

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Yissy García

  • Song: Te Cogió Lo Que Anda

DJ Jigüe

Elvis Suarez/Courtesy of the artist

01Como La Yema Del Huevo

3:38

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DJ Jigüe

  • Song: Como La Yema Del Huevo

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Designer Of Rainbow Flag, Enduring Symbol For Gay Rights, Has Died

Gilbert Baker, designer of the rainbow flag — the enduring symbol of LGBT rights — has died at the age of 65.

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Mark Lennihan/AP

Gilbert Baker, creater of the rainbow flag, which would endure as the symbol of gay activism and solidarity for 40 years, has died.

Cleve Jones, a longtime friend and noted gay rights activist, announced the death on Twitter.

Baker designed his first flag during the 1970s while an active member of San Francisco’s gay community. An Army veteran and drag performer, Baker found himself sought after for his deftness at costuming to make signs and banners for the burgeoning gay rights movement.

At the time, the pink triangle, designed after the schema Nazi’s used to target homosexuals for extermination, was commonly appropriated by activists. Baker found himself dismayed by the appropriation.

My dearest friend in the world is gone. Gilbert Baker gave the world the Rainbow Flag; he gave me forty years of love and friendship. pic.twitter.com/titd3XZ0zD

— Cleve Jones (@CleveJones1) March 31, 2017

“It came from such a horrible place of murder and holocaust and Hitler,” said Baker during a 2015 interview with the Museum of Modern Art. “We needed something beautiful, something from us. The rainbow is so perfect because it really fits our diversity in terms of race, gender, ages, all of those things. Plus, it’s a natural flag—it’s from the sky”

The first rainbow flags debuted at San Francisco’s Gay Freedom Day Parade on June 25, 1978.

The parade committee fronted $1,000 for its design and construction and enlisted about 30 volunteers for the project, built at a gay community center.

“I wanted to make it at the center, with my friends—it needed to have a real connection to nature and community, ” Baker said in the same interview.

His original design included eight colored bars running horizontally, corresponding to values he believed represented the diversity of the gay community. Two colors – turquoise and pink – had to be dropped to due to the difficulty at that time of mass producing flags of that color.

In celebrating the 2015 Supreme Court’s ruling to legalize same-sex marriage, the White House lit-up with the iconic color scheme of Baker’s flag.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

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Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

This compromise, however, allowed for an easily reproducible flag.

In 2015, the Museum of Modern Art acquired the flag for its design collection.

Baker was born in Kansas in 1951, and served in the U.S. Army from 1970-72. The Army brought him to San Francisco where he found a place among the increasingly accepted and visible gay community there.

During his years in San Francisco, he crossed paths with Harvey Milk, who became the first openly gay men to hold public office in 1978. When Milk’s life was turned into a biopic, Baker was tapped to design versions of his original flag for the film.

Baker was 65 and died in his sleep at his New York City home.

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Avalanche Of Mud And Water Kills More Than 125 In Colombian City

Soldiers carry a victim on a stretcher in Mocoa, Colombia, on Saturday, after an avalanche of mud and water from an overflowing river swept through the city as people slept. The incident triggered by intense rains left at least 125 people dead.

Colombian National Army via AP

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Colombian National Army via AP

A sudden avalanche of mud and water tore through the Colombian city of Mocoa on Friday night, killing scores of people while they slept. The Colombian Red Cross reports that 127 people are dead, 220 missing, and 400 were injured in the disaster.

Mocoa is in the Putumayo province, along the country’s southern border with Ecuador. The 40,000-person city sits between two mountains at the crux of two rivers that overflowed after intense rains, according to the Associated Press: “Muddy water and debris quickly surged through the city’s streets, toppling homes, ripping trees from their roots, lifting cars and trucks and carrying them downstream.”

President Juan Manuel Santos visited the city on Saturday and declared a state of emergency, to mobilize rescue operations. “We don’t know how many there are going to be,” he said of the fatalities when he arrived at the disaster zone. “We’re still looking.”

Ante la gravedad de situación en Mocoa, Putumayo, declaré ‘Calamidad pública’ para agilizar operaciones de rescate y ayuda #TodosconMocoapic.twitter.com/VKlqAsUQrf

— Juan Manuel Santos (@JuanManSantos) April 1, 2017

An alarm reportedly went off to alert residents but wasn’t audible throughout the city. Witnesses told the AP that they felt buildings vibrate, and that many did not have enough time to retreat to roofs or higher ground.

The AP spoke with Herman Granados, an anesthesiologist at the local hospital, who had worked throughout the night on victims. He said the hospital didn’t have enough blood to deal with the crisis, and they were running out of supplies. Some of the hospital workers had family among the missing.

“Under the mud,” Granados said, “I am sure there are many more.”

Colombia’s mountainous landscape and informally constructed homes make landslides relatively common when there are heavy rains, according to Reuters.

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One Dead, Legislature Scorched After Violent Protests in Paraguay

During violent clashes, demonstrators set fire to Paraguay’s legislative building in response to a constitutional amendment allowed presidents to seek re-election.

Jorge Saenz/AP

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Jorge Saenz/AP

Protestors set fire to Paraguay’s parliament building and rioted throughout the capital, Asuncion, following a Friday night Senate vote to remove current presidential term limits.

At least one opposition activist was killed and dozens arrested in the aftermath.

Reuters reports that firefighters were quick to extinguish the flames, but rioters clashed with police elsewhere in Asuncion, who used rubber bullets and water cannons to control crowds.

On Saturday, Paraguayan authorities announced that opposition activist Rodrigo Quintana had died during the riots.

The protests were spurred by a constitutional amendment to do away with a one-term restriction on the presidency. That rule was enshrined in the country’s constitution following a 35-year dictatorship that left many Paraguayans opposed to assigning a long tenure to any one ruler.

The new amendment would allow President Horacio Cartes — and former presidents — to run for a second term and was passed by a majority of the Senate. As the Associated Press notes, the party of Cartes leads in the legislature:

“The process to pass the amendment began on Tuesday when 25 senators changed the internal procedures to speed up the vote against the wishes of Senate President Roberto Acevedo and other members of the chamber. …

“The measure for a constitutional amendment allowing for presidential re-election was backed by 25 of the country’s 45 senators. The yes votes came from members of the governing Colorado Party and from several opposition groups.

“After approval in the Senate, the proposal went to the Chamber of Deputies, where 44 of the 80 members belong to the Colorado Party. Approval there would require the scheduling of a national referendum on the amendment.”

Opposition politicians were quick to call the Senate vote illegal, citing that not all members were present.

“My colleagues have carried out a coup because of the irregular and illegal manner in which they modified no less than the Constitution,” Sen. Luis Alberto Wagner of the opposition Authentic Radical Liberal Party was quoted as saying by the news service.

That limit on presidential terms was added to the country’s modern constitution in 1992, after 35 years under military dictator General Alfredo Stroessner, who took power in a coup.

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Venezuela's Top Court And President Reverse Course, Restore Powers To Legislature

Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro has been under criticism following a Supreme Court decision nullifying the country’s opposition-run legislature. The court reversed that decision Saturday.

Fernando Llano/AP

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Fernando Llano/AP

Venezuela’s Supreme Court restored powers to the country’s legislature amid increasing domestic and international accusations that President Nicolas Maduro and the allied court were consolidating power.

In Saturday’s rulings, the court reversed an earlier decision nullifying the national assembly, which is largely controlled by the opposition. The apparent reversal came after Maduro himself requested judges do so to preserve constitutional authority.

“The controversy is over…the constitution has won,” Maduro said in his late-night address, Reuters reports.

But the restoration of the sole governmental branch not dominated by Maduro loyalists apparently came too late to quell a backlash. Opposition lawmakers boycotted an emergency Friday night meeting and calls rang out shortly after the address to continue protests, Reuters reports.

Leading up to Maduro’s disavowal of the court’s ruling, even his top law official, Luisa Ortega, joined the chorus of critics, calling the dissolution of the assembly a “rupture of constitutional order.”

The ensuing fiasco was just the latest maneuver drawing ire among Venezuelans, according to Reuters:

“The former bus driver, foreign minister and self-declared “son” of Chavez, was narrowly elected president in 2013.

“But his ratings have plummeted as Venezuelans struggle with an unprecedented economic crisis including food and medicine shortages plus the world’s highest inflation.

“Critics blame a failing socialist system, whereas the government says its enemies are waging an “economic war.” The fall in oil prices since mid-2014 has exacerbated the crisis.”

The Associated Press notes Maduro’s ratings are below 20 percent.

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NPR News Nuggets: Big League Baseball, Icelandic Celebrations & Spelling Snafus

Iceland’s soccer team won over England 2-1 in the Euro 2016 round of 16 match on June 27, 2016.

Tobias Schwarz/AFP/Getty Images

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Tobias Schwarz/AFP/Getty Images

Here’s a quick roundup of some of the mini-moments you may have missed on this week’s Morning Edition.

Add this to your reading list

A Stolen Library Book Returned, With $200 And An Apology

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If you can tell me how many times you’ve read your favorite book and the number is lower than 25, I don’t know if I will believe you that it’s your favorite. Now for one man in Montana, it’s clear he really loves one book in particular. As Morning Edition host Rachel Martin said on Wednesday, a copy of Richard Matheson’s Bid Time Return, was returned to the library in Great Falls, Mont. Here’s the thing, though, the book had been gone since 1982, and it hadn’t even been checked out. A man, who didn’t identify himself, said the guilt of stolen book had gotten to be too much for him over the years. So, he had the book restored and gave it back along with a $200 donation and an apology note. As the Great Falls Tribune reports the man wrote that the book is “one of the, if not the greatest sci-fi/romance stories ever written; it’s absolutely fascinating.” He also said over the 35 years that he had the book, he read the sci-fi love story at least 25 times, and somewhere in between all that reading he actually met the author before his death in 2013. Now if you want to read this one, it’s probably better to check it out from your library, and just make sure you return it before the due date.

It’s telling

Iceland May Have A Certain Way Of Celebrating A Soccer Win

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People have that saying “time will tell” and it appears to be doing just that in Iceland. The amount of time? Well, it’s approximately nine months. As Morning Edition host David Greene said on Wednesday, a doctor in Iceland tweeted that last weekend he did a record number of epidurals, which make childbirth less painful. Nine months ago, Iceland’s soccer team beat England, which was a pretty big deal. Those are the the facts, but could this mean Iceland soccer fans have a certain way of celebrating? We’re not jumping to conclusions here.

J-O-K-E-‘-S-O-N-Y-O-U

The Hardest Spelling Test Ever

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Spelling is hard already, but the hardest spelling test ever? You can ask Michigan elementary school teacher Joe Dombrowski about that one. As Morning Edition host David Greene said on Friday, Dombrowski gave his students a grueling spelling test and then made them grade it while he read out the correct answers, including: “S-P-E-E-K-U-Z-S-L-M-N, there are silent letters at the end of that one.” The words and their complex spellings kept going until Dombrowski got to number 11. On that one Dombrowski says “April Fools’ — because this is an April Fools’ joke!” If you’re wondering how the students take it — just wait until the end when you can hear one student’s exasperated yell of “It’s not even April!”

Batter up!

‘A Dream Come True’ As Baseball Player Joins The Majors

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Spring fever is very real right now for a lot of baseball fans, and opening day is quickly approaching. As excited as the fans are, Brock Stassi is likely even more ready for the season to begin. As Morning Edition host Rachel Martin said on Friday, Stassi, 27, has spent the last six years in the minor leagues, but this season he’s going to be playing for the Philadelphia Phillies. In an interview with ESPN’s Sport’s Center, Stassi, who was a little choked up said the opportunity was “a dream come.” Although he is excited about the opportunity admitted he still had work to go because now that he’s in the Major League, he wants to stay there.

Congrats to my big brother @brockstassi28 !!! I couldn’t be happier!!!!! pic.twitter.com/iBqcRtVJdX

— Max Stassi (@MaxStassi10) March 30, 2017

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