November 14, 2019

Archives for March 2019

Musical Masterworks Presents Classical Guitarist Colin Davin, Music by Bach, de Falla, Piazzolla and More, This Weekend

Violinist Tessa Lark will perform in this weekend’s Musical Masterworks concerts.

AREAWIDE — Musical Masterworks will feature the beautiful sounds of the classical guitar in the acoustically perfect First Congregational Church of Old Lyme with the Old Lyme debut of guitarist Colin Davin, in collaboration with perennial Musical Masterworks favorite, violinist Tessa Lark, on Saturday, March 30, at 5 p.m. and on Sunday, March 31, at 3 p.m.

Davin, hailed for his “virtuoso’s technique [and] deeply expressive musicianship,” to quote the American Record Guide, has emerged as one of today’s most dynamic young artists. Join him, along with Lark and Musical Masterworks Artistic Director Edward Arron on cello, in a program that explores the breadth of the guitar-violin-cello repertoire from Bach to the 20th century works of Spanish and South American composers.

Musical Masterworks’ season runs through May 2019.  Tickets are $40 for adults and $5 for students.

Visit Musical Masterworks at www.musicalmasterworks.org or call 860.434.2252.

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Letter From Paris: Present Pace of European Politics is Dizzying

Nicole Prévost Logan

The unity of Europe is being put to the test now more than ever: the deadline of the Brexit pushed back from March 29 to April 12 is heightening the uncertainty to an almost unbearable level, the visit of Chinese president Xi Jinping to Italy, Monaco and France is preoccupying several members of the European Union (EU), and the populist votes in recent European elections are gaining strength.   

On March 22, British Prime Minister Theresa May was in Brussels, waiting for a decision by the European Council gathered at an extraordinary Summit. She obtained a short “technical” extension of the Brexit deadline until May 24 in the event the House of Commons reaches an agreement.  In spite of their weariness, the 27 EU members wanted to show some benevolence by granting a few more days.  Another reason was that they did not want to be the ones to lower the hatchet on the UK.

Xi Jinping and his wife, a former opera singer and general, Peng Liyuan, landed in Rome on March 21.  The president of China has found in Italy a major beachhead for its Silk Roads initiative in Europe.  Italy, which fell into recession at the end of 2018, needs money to invest into its infrastructure. Presidents Giuseppe Conte and Xi Jinping signed contracts for billions of  Euros, including some earmarked for the development of  Trieste and Genoa commercial harbors. It is extremely worrisome that one of the G7 countries would grant access to Schengen Space to a foreign power.

French President Emmanuel Macron planned the official visit of the Chinese couple in grand style with a program loaded with symbols … an overnight in the famous Negresco Hotel in Nice; watching the sunset over the sea from the museum-villa Kerylos (a replica of an Athenian residence) in Beaulieu and thus alluding to Ancient Greece as the cradle of European culture; dinner at the Elysée palace for 200 guests, including – at the request of Xi Jinping –  a French actress from the most popular TV series in China.  The top pastry chef, cheese expert and wine sommelier of France were collectively watching over the dinner, the menu of which remained a secret.  Last time Paris went all out for a Chinese president was in 2004, when the Eiffel Tower was turned red to mark the visit of Hu Jintao. 

But the crucial message of the visit came out loud and clear when Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the EU  Commission, together greeted the president of China.  The message was to present a joint European front.  In his address, Macron formulated the general guidelines of future relations between China and Europe avoiding no confrontation, a partnership based on reciprocity while not appearing to be naïve.

In recent years, the Chinese have invested more than 140 billion Euros in Europe.  Since 2014, they have organized “16+1” summits attended every year by 11 Eastern European and five Balkan countries to expand economic cooperation.  In announcing his vision for “renovated multilateralism,” Macron hopes to hamper China’s strategy, which has been until now to pressure individual countries with its power and capitalize on their vulnerability.  Finally, Macron stressed that European countries must preserve their sovereignty and stop the take-over of strategic installations by foreign countries. 

Although Europe appeared united as a bloc in the face of Brexit, recent developments in The Netherlands , Hungary and Poland are emblematic of changes taking place in the political landscape.

In The Netherlands, elections took place on March 20, the day after the terrorist attack on the tramway in Utrecht.  A new party, “Forum for democracy (FvD), headed by jurist and historian Thierry Baudet, age 36. caught up in the polls with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the “Popular and Democratic” party (VVD).  Baudet is a right-wing Eurosceptic, anti-migrants, and a supporter of Donald Trump.  He is for a “tolerant and inclusive nationalism.”  He denounces political “élites”and a multicultural society.

On March 16, Zuzana Caputova, a lawyer, divorced and pro-choice, won the presidential elections in Slovakia, a very catholic country of close to six  million people.  She won in the second round of the ballot against Maros Sfcovic of the leftist populist party.  Having worked before for an ONG defending human rights, she holds liberal views on the economy.  The elections were influenced by the murder, one year ago, of a journalist and his fiancée — the journalist was investigating the links between the Italian Mafia and the Slovakian Central Executive.  The protest demonstrations in Bratislava that followed the murder were the largest since the independence of Slovakia in 1993.

On March 4, Gdansk again showed its importance as a center of the opposition in Poland.  After the murder of  Pawel Adamovicz, the city’s mayor, Aleksandra Dulkiewicz, the mayor’s deputy, won the mayoral election with a landslide.  She may become a strong adversary to the government.

In another development, Robert Biedron, head of the party Wiosna (spring), 42, and Poland’s first openly gay politician, wants to end the monopoly of two parties in power since 2005, namely, PO –  a civic platform, conservative but liberal economically — and PiS or “law and order,” the ultra-conservative ruling party.  Although far behind the two major parties, this new candidate, who is anti-church, pro-women’s rights, and an ecologist, is a sign of change in Polish politics.

Hungary is the country making the most waves.  On March 20, ultra-right prime minister Viktor Orban’s party Fidesz was reprimanded for putting up anti-Brussels posters, and for his repressive policy.  The European parliament decided to take action and suspended  Fidesz from the Parti Populaire Europeen (PPE) with an overwhelming majority of 190 to. 4. 

Many are sickened by Orban’s provocations.  He appears obsessed with George Soros, the American  billionaire of Hungarian origin.  The European Parliament in Strasbourg voted to maintain Soros’ Central Europe University. “We put Orban in the freezer and Van Rompoy* holds the door”(*Herman Van Rompoy, a Belgian, is former president of the European Council) commented a Belgian Euro-deputy.

The suspension will at least prevent Orban from joining hands with Matteo Salvini of the Far Right League in Italy and the Law and Justice party in Poland.

Editor’s Note: This is the opinion of Nicole Prévost Logan.

Nicole Prévost Logan

About the author: Nicole Prévost Logan divides her time between Essex and Paris, spending summers in the former and winters in the latter. She writes a regular column for us from her Paris home where her topics will include politics, economy, social unrest — mostly in France — but also in other European countries. She also covers a variety of art exhibits and the performing arts in Europe. Logan is the author of ‘Forever on the Road: A Franco-American Family’s Thirty Years in the Foreign Service,’ an autobiography of her life as the wife of an overseas diplomat, who lived in 10 foreign countries on three continents. Her experiences during her foreign service life included being in Lebanon when civil war erupted, excavating a medieval city in Moscow and spending a week under house arrest in Guinea.

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Essex Land Trust Hosts ‘Collectible Creatures’ Walk For All Ages, Saturday

ESSEX — Celebrate the arrival of spring next Saturday, March 30, at 10 a.m. by taking the whole family on this unique nature walk in search of collectible art stones hidden along the trail. Each stone portrays a creature who lives in the Canfield-Meadow Woods area. The back of each stone provides a link to the Essex Land Trust website where you can discover more about the animals, birds and insects that live in this preserve.

Young children and those who are young at heart will enjoy finding one or more of the 100 stones and taking them home to learn more about the creature on the stone!  The walk will start at 10 a.m. at the Canfield Meadow Woods Preserve entrance located on Book Hill Woods Road.

This walk will be led and created by Essex Land Trust volunteers Stephanie Gatto and Susan Scott.

Rain/snow date: March 30.

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Douglas is Chester/Deep River Boy Scout Troop 13’s Newest Eagle Scout

Chester/Deep River Boy Scout Troop 13’s newest Eagle Scout Ryan Douglas. Photo by Michael Rutty.

CHESTER/DEEP  RIVER — Chester/Deep River Boy Scout Troop 13 has proudly announced that Ryan David Douglas of Deep River has earned the rank of Eagle Scout.  An Eagle Scout Court of Honor was held for Ryan on Jan. 20, 2019 at the Deep River Town Hall Auditorium.

To become an Eagle Scout, Douglas earned 36 merit badges and advanced through the seven scout ranks by learning Scout and Life skills while simultaneously providing leadership to his Troop and service to his community. 

One of the final requirements for the Eagle Rank is to show leadership in the scout’s community, school, or religious institution and and complete a service project that benefits that same broad community.  While a Scout in Troop 13, Douglas attended National Youth Leadership Training and served as the Senior Patrol Leader for Troop 13.

Douglas showed leadership over others by designing and implementing a plan that resulted in the construction of a gate guard booth replacing a simple chair at the entrance to the Deep River Landing site. Specifically the booth is of a new stick-built construction providing a fully-enclosed, aesthetically-pleasing, weather-proofed structure for park attendants transactions with users of the landing area. Completing this project entailed working with municipal offices and committees, securing donations for supplies and designing and overseeing volunteers through the construction and installation of said gate guard booth.

The completed project provides an important service to the Deep River community and guests who utilize the riverfront park by providing an official looking sheltered guard booth necessary to prevent overuse and illegal parking at the popular landing area.

Chester/Deep River Boy Scout Troop 13 serves the boys ages 11-18 of Chester and Deep River. The purpose of the Boy Scouts of America is to help young people develop their character and life skills all while having fun. There is much emphasis placed on assisting these youth to develop into strong, healthy citizens who will lead our communities and country in the years ahead. The Boy Scouts of America methods help to promote these ideals through the challenge of putting them into practice with the Troop Program. This is done in a way that is both challenging and fun. 

To learn more information about joining Boy Scout Troop 13, contact our Scoutmaster, Steven Merola at 860-526-9262

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Ivoryton Library Hosts WhatTrivia! Night Fundraiser Tonight

Do you think you “Know Stuff”?

Then come to a WhatTrivia! Night fundraiser to benefit Ivoryton Library, which is being held this Saturday, March 23, at 7 p.m. at Centerbrook Meeting House.

Contestants will test their knowledge of nonsensical information for fun and prizes, and would love to have you there …

Don’t think you Know Stuff? Then come for the silent auction and cash bar!

For more information, contact Ivoryton Library at 860-767-1252 or staff@ivorytonlibrary.org, or visit www.ivorytonlibrary.org

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Gov. Lamont Amends Education Proposal on Shared Services; Encourages School Collaboration, Reallocation of Resources to Classroom

Governor Ned Lamont (D)

PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OFFICE OF GOVERNOR NED LAMONT– Governor Ned Lamont today announced that he is submitting revised language to the General Assembly on his proposal encouraging shared services in Connecticut schools. The new proposal, which was developed in collaboration with stakeholders, addresses concerns raised by members of the community while continuing to encourage collaboration and shared services among schools. The governor said that he agrees with many constituents who do not want their school districts to be forced to consolidate operations and is hopeful that the modifications to his proposal address those concerns.

Unlike other proposals, Governor Lamont’s legislation does not force school consolidation. Rather, his bill uses school construction bonds and other funds to incentivize communities to explore cost savings, but does not force regionalization.

“The truth is that our students and teachers are not getting the adequate resources they need in the classroom,” Governor Lamont said. “Sharing certain back-office administrative services and purchasing costs is more efficient for certain schools, and my bill is intended to highlight and incentivize those efficiencies. I’ve also heard the concern that school districts need independence to make the decisions they feel are best. My revised proposal seeks to strike that balance through a collaborative process that preserves the feisty independence of our towns while providing them the tools they need to accomplish our shared vision of focusing resources on the classroom.”

As an example, North Carolina uses one contract for school software throughout the entire state, however in Connecticut there are 170 different contracts and the state is paying a premium. The governor’s proposal creates a bipartisan commission on shared school services, made up of education stakeholders from across the state including parents, teachers, superintendents, and school board members. That commission has no power to force the adoption of its recommendations, but will look around and outside the state to issue advisory reports on how districts can best share services and prioritize money for students and teachers. The towns and the people’s elected representatives will be able to draw on the recommendations that make sense in their local contexts.

The revised language in governor’s proposal:

  • Ensures regional diversity by requiring each of the governor’s six appointees come from a different RESC service area
  • Underscores the non-binding nature of the commission’s recommendations
  • Eliminates requirements that the commission consider redistricting and regionalization in its reports

The legislation, SB 874 – An Act Concerning Education Initiatives and Services in Connecticut, is currently pending in the education committee. The same language is included in HB 7192 – An Act Concerning Municipal and Regional Opportunities and Efficiencies, which is pending in the planning and development committee.

**DownloadProposed revised language to SB 874

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Needleman Proposes New School Regionalization Plan

State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd)

AREAWIDE — Yesterday State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd) proposed a new plan for school regionalization. His proposal would create legislation tailored to help school districts and municipalities cooperate to share services and resources on their own terms, in contrast to recent legislation that would mandate school changes.

Needleman appeared with East Haddam Selectman Robert Smith, Chester First Selectman Laurent Gister, Deep River First Selectman Angus McDonald, Essex Board of Education member Lon Seidman, Portland First Selectman Susan Bransfield and CABE Deputy Director and General Counsel Patrice McCarthy.

Watch this news clip from NBC to see a summary of what Needleman proposed.

The 33rd Senatorial District includes the Town of Lyme.

Today a public hearing will be held at 11 a.m. in Hartford on HB 7192, AN ACT CONCERNING MUNICIPAL AND REGIONAL OPPORTUNITIES AND EFFICIENCIES, a Governor’s Bill dealing generally with regionalization and shared services for local governments

Sections 7-10 of the bill are the same as Sections 1-4 of SB 874, the Governor’s Bill on school regionalization and shared services. If you have already submitted testimony to the Education Committee on school regionalization bills, this is an opportunity to comment before a different committee specifically on SB 874.

– Make sure to read the four sections of HB 7192 (again) and comment on them specifically (of course, you may also comment on any other sections you choose).

– Include only HB 7192 (same as first sections of SB 874) in your testimony, as this is the only language from the three school regionalization bills that is before Planning & Development.

Written testimony should be submitted by 9 a.m. to PDtestimony@cga.ct.gov

Sign-up to speak between 9 and 10 a.m. (lottery) in Room 1D.

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Talking Transportation: Connecticut’s Hometown Railroad

The worldwide logo for Genesee and Wyoming Inc.

You might not realize it, but Connecticut is home to the world headquarters of a $5 billion international railroad company on whose trains you’ll never be able to ride.

In a small office building across from the Darien railroad station sits the offices of Genesee and Wyoming Inc, a “short line” railroad conglomerate.  The original railroad, founded in 1899, hauled salt on a 14-mile track in upstate NY.  Today, G&W owns 122 different railroads on three continents, serving 3000 customers with over 16,000 miles of track.

A “short line” railroad, as its name implies, only operates over short distances, sometimes thought of as rail freight’s first and last mile.  They pick up boxcars and tankers at factories and plants and carry them to junction points where they hand them off to the major railroads which carry them to their ultimate destination, a journey often completed by another short line railroad.

In the US G&W’s railroads are as short as a single mile in length and as long as 739 miles.  They operate 1300 locomotives and 30,000 railcars.  But they only carry freight, not passengers.

And because they only travel short distances, they’re not looking for speed as much as customer service.  Moving along at 15 mph saves a lot on track maintenance.

How does G&W’s sales team sell companies on shipping by rail instead of truck?  Fuel costs.  Trains are four times more energy efficient, a crucial consideration when you’re hauling tons of stone, coal, or wheat instead of Amazon boxes filled with packing peanuts.

The G&W’s most local affiliate, The Providence & Worcester, runs a train on Metro-North tracks each night, hauling crushed rock from Connecticut quarries to Queens NY.  I can hear the train from my home, usually just before midnight, as its locomotives strain under the load and rumble through town.

That’s about the only freight train left on the New Haven line.  But that’s another story for another time.

Overseas the G&W owns some much larger railroads, but still dedicated only to freight.  They run trains, container terminals and freight yards in the UK, Germany, Poland, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Down under in Australia the G&W runs a huge freight operation running north-south through the heart of the continent serving the iron ore and manganese mines hauling intermodal containers through the desert-like interior.

How does a tiny, 20-person office in Darien oversee such a massive railroad network around the planet?  It doesn’t.  Each of G&W’s nine operating regions is locally managed with capital allocated from headquarters.  Keeping the decision-making close to the customers, not being second-guessed from thousands of miles away, has been the key to G&W’s success.

But one thing that all of G&W’s railroads do share in common is the color scheme of their logos, originally designed by Milton Glaser (famous for the I Love NY logo).  Every G&W railroad’s logo is orange and black.  Not just any orange, but Princeton orange, harkening back to its former chairman’s alma mater.

Posted with permission of Hearst CT Media

Jim Cameron

 

About the author: Jim Cameron is founder of The Commuter Action Group, and a member of the Darien RTM.  The opinions expressed in this column are only his own.  You can reach him at CommuterActionGroup@gmail.com

For a full collection of  “Talking Transportation” columns, visit www.talkingtransportation.blogspot.com

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Essex Winter Series presents New Haven Symphony Orchestra with Violinist Tai Murray, Sunday

Violinist Tai Murray, who will perform Sunday in the Essex Winter Series.
Photo: Marco Borggreve for HM

DEEP RIVER — Essex Winter Series presents its Fenton Brown Emerging Artist Concert featuring the New Haven Symphony Orchestra (NHSO) with violinist Tai Murray on Sunday, March 17, at 3 p.m. at Valley Regional High School, Deep River.

Maestro William Boughton, in his final season with NHSO, conducts four masterpieces showcasing the string family of the orchestra, as well as the internationally and critically acclaimed violin soloist Tai Murray. The concert will include Mozart’s Symphony No. 31, better known as the Paris Symphony; Violin Concerto in G minor by Prokofiev; Barber’s solemn, yet powerful Adagio for Strings; and Haydn’s Symphony No. 102.
An inspiring talent with a silky and sweet tone from even the highest registers of her instrument, impeccable intonation, the hugely musical Murray has become an essential personality in today’s classical musical world. A former BBC Young Generation artist, member of the Marlboro Festival and of Lincoln Center’s Chamber Music Society, she gave her London Proms Debut during the summer of 2016 with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Thomas Sondergard.
Living between New York and Berlin, Murray has been heard on stages such as the Barbican, London’s Queen Elizabeth and Royal Albert Halls, aside orchestras such as Chicago Symphony, BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic.
Essex Winter Series’ 42nd season concludes on April 7 at Old Saybrook High School with Chanticleer, known around the world as “an orchestra of voices.” The program celebrates the ensemble’s 40th year with a program of beloved composers, from Palestrina and Victoria to Mason Bates and Steven Stucky, as well as audience favorite arrangements by Jennings, Shaw and others.
Seating for all concerts is general admission and tickets may be purchased by calling 860-272-4572 or visiting www.essexwinterseries.com.

The 2019 season is generously sponsored by The Clark Group, Essex Meadows, Essex Savings Bank, Jeffrey N. Mehler CFP LLC, Masonicare at Chester Village, Tower Laboratories, Guilford Savings Bank, and BrandTech Scientific.

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Centerbrook Architects Garner Award for Mystic Seaport Design

The award-winning Centerbrook Architects & Planners-designed Thompson Exhibition Building at Mystic Seaport Museum. Photo by Derek Hayn/Centerbrook Architects.

CENTERBROOK – The Centerbrook Architects & Planners-designed Thompson Exhibition Building at Mystic Seaport Museum has been recognized with a national award by WoodWorks – Wood Products Council.

The Thompson Exhibition Building was recognized in the “Commercial Wood Design – Low-Rise” category – one of nine national awards bestowed by WoodWorks. The Wood Design Awards celebrate innovation and excellence in wood building design across the country.

This is the fourth recognition for the Thompson Exhibition Building since it opened to the public in the fall of 2016 in Mystic, Connecticut. The design previously garnered the Honor Award-With Distinction by the AIA QUAD Awards, and was named by the CT CREW Blue Ribbon Awards as the Best Specialty Project. In 2018, ArchDaily – the world’s most-visited architecture website – named the Thompson Exhibition Building one of the 100 Best Wood Architecture Projects in the U.S.

The Centerbrook design team, led by Principal Chad Floyd, FAIA and Senior Director Charles Mueller, AIA, chose wood as the predominant building material for its form, function and aesthetic capabilities. The Thompson Building’s more prominent wood features include Douglas fir glulam beams spanning the entire width that give the building its unique curvilinear shape, and arresting western red cedar exterior cladding.

With its 5,000-square-foot exhibition gallery, the Thompson Building is the centerpiece of Mystic Seaport Museum’s reimagined mission that brings a new focus to exhibitions. With its functional flexibility, the Thompson Building has strengthened the museum as a year-around tourist destination.

Centerbrook Architects & Planners is a firm conceived in 1975 as a community of architects working together to advance place-making and the craft of building. A collaborative firm with an exceptional history of building, Centerbrook is known for inventive design solutions that are emblematic of its clients. Centerbrook’s designs have won more than 380 awards, including the Architecture Firm Award, a distinction held by only 40 active firms nationwide. Centerbrook was named a 2018 Top Workplace in the Greater Hartford Area by the Hartford Courant.

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Letter From Paris: Will Europe Fight Back in Face of World, Local Challenges?

Nicole Prévost Logan

The European Union (EU) is under attack from all sides.

Will the EU strike back?

The most serious threat against Europe is the dislocation of the world system of security and defense, which Europe relies on as a protection.  During the past two years, an avalanche of steps taken by the US is unraveling the Atlantic-dominated framework with a possible US pull-back from NATO;  a hasty and sloppy departure of US troops from Syria in December 2018 putting the European allies in front of the fait accompli; breaking away from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) in February 2019 (immediately followed by Russia doing the same thing the next day.)

The noxious transatlantic relations came to light during the Munich Security Conference (MSC), February 15-17, an annual event, since 1963, attended by the decision-makers of the world.  Angela Merkel was the voice of many worried Europeans. The contrast between her speech and US vice president Mike Pence’s was striking. 

Without a script, the German chancellor made a passionate plea for multilateralism, clearly pointing at the US, Russia and China to save the world order which she sees in danger of decline and destruction. 

She received a standing ovation.

After her spirited performance, the US Vice President’s words sounded leaden.  “He admonished Europeans the way Brejhnev did the Iron Curtain countries back in the USSR days,” commented a French analyst.  Pence’s speech was met with an icy reception.  There was an incredible moment when he brought Donald Trump’s greetings. 

An interminable and deafening silence followed.  He clearly was expecting applause from the audience. 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov proposed to prolong the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction) Treaty after 2021. This treaty – limiting the number of long-range nuclear missile s- is one of the last remaining from the cold war era.   

Sylvie Kauffman, editorial writer for Le Monde, commented, “The Europeans feel left out in the cold, tetanized by the major powers working out a system above their heads.”  Sigmar Gabriel, former German minister of foreign affairs, wrote, “In a world of carnivorous geopolitics, the Europeans are the last vegetarians.  After the departure of the UK, we will become vegans, then prey.”

One way to attack and therefore weaken Europe is to capitalize on the fact that it is divided.  Some foreign powers have become quite adept at using the “Trojan horse” strategy.

On Feb. 13-14, the US and Israel chose Poland as the location of a conference on the Middle East. In Warsaw they were able to meet with the other members of the Visegrad group (V4) —  Hungary, Slovakia and Czech Republic. These four countries are run by populist and authoritarian governments and clear in their intention to unravel the EU as it exists today.  There was little media coverage here about the conference, which was by-passing Brussels.  Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs, was not even present.

Steve Bannon, former advisor of Donald Trump is busy traveling all over Europe, giving his support to populist countries like Italy and Hungary.  He proclaims that Brexit is a great thing and advocates the creation of a possible axis through Rome/Budapest/Warsaw to counter the Franco-German “couple”.  He has purchased a monastery near Rome and turned it into a training center for “sovereignists.”

Europe represents a juicy market of over 700 millions inhabitants.  It is particularly vulnerable because it continues to respect some rules, which are disregarded elsewhere.  The most striking illustration of unfair competition is the recent failure of the fusion of the two European railroad  magnates Alstom and Siemens.  The EU Commissioner for competition, Margrethe Vestager, stopped the process lest it violates the antitrust rule, a rather outdated notion when one considers the size of the giant telecommunications companies in the US.  The danger for Europe is that this decision in Brussels leaves the way wide open for China.

China is by far the main predator trying to wedge its way into Europe, hiding under a charming euphemism of “silk road” (the Chinese call it also the “Belt and Road Initiative.”)  The investments of Xi Jinping’s government have increased in leaps and bonds to reach a peak in 2016, particularly in the infrastructure of smaller and poorer Eastern European countries, where they are financing bridges, tunnels, or taking over commercial harbors, airports.  Even in Western Europe, they are rescuing failing companies or acquiring new ones — China has already taken over the electricity grids of Greece, Italy and Portugal.

How can the EU strike back?

Nathalie Loiseau, French Minister of European Affairs, 55, an extremely intelligent woman and a candidate to watch for in the May 26 European elections, wants to be positive and stresses what has been accomplished, “We have gained more in 18 months than in decade on the subject of defense … Germany has joined us on the idea of a common budget for the Euro zone … Poland agrees with France on the PAC  (Common Agricultural Policy) … There is no cohesion among the nationalist governments … Austria and Hungary disagree on many topics.”

Business leaders of the MEDEF (Movement of French enterprises) met in February to reassert their economic sovereignty against malicious cyber attacks and industrial espionage, “Being liberal, they say, does not mean being naive.”

On March 4, the French president Emmanuel Macron published a “Letter to the Citizens of the 28 EU countries.”  His vision for the “renaissance of the construction of Europe” is consistent with the seminal speech on foreign policy that he gave at the Sorbonne on Sept. 26, 2017, and also with the Aix-la-Chapelle Treaty of Jan. 22, 2019, between France and Germany.  Macron advocates a protective Europe with external  borders guaranteeing free “Schengen Space,” a strong defense and security treaty, the harmonization of salaries, and protection against cyber attacks during elections.  

The reactions of the 28 EU members were favorable, although several of them said that trust is more important than the creation of new institutions. 

The attitude of all the member countries of the EU to Brexit has proved that those 27 countries do not, in fact, want to leave Europe.  Chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has so far accomplished the almost impossible in keeping his troops together. 

Editor’s Note: This is the opinion of Nicole Prévost Logan.

Nicole Prévost Logan

About the author: Nicole Prévost Logan divides her time between Essex and Paris, spending summers in the former and winters in the latter. She writes a regular column for us from her Paris home where her topics will include politics, economy, social unrest — mostly in France — but also in other European countries. She also covers a variety of art exhibits and the performing arts in Europe. Logan is the author of ‘Forever on the Road: A Franco-American Family’s Thirty Years in the Foreign Service,’ an autobiography of her life as the wife of an overseas diplomat, who lived in 10 foreign countries on three continents. Her experiences during her foreign service life included being in Lebanon when civil war erupted, excavating a medieval city in Moscow and spending a week under house arrest in Guinea.

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Musical Masterworks Modern Presents ‘Quince Ensemble’ at Lyme Art Association Tonight

Quince Ensemble performs at the Lyme Art Association, March 1. Photo by Aleksandr Karjaka at Karjaka Studios.

AREAWIDE — Musical Masterworks Modern (MMModern) presents the Quince Ensemble,Friday, March 8, at 6:30 p.m. at the Lyme Art Association.

Experience contemporary chamber music featuring Quince Ensemble with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang’s love fail, a meditation on the timelessness of love that weaves together details from the story of Tristan and Isolde.

Singing with the precision and flexibility of modern chamber musicians, Quince Ensemble is changing the paradigm of contemporary vocal music.  Described as “the Anonymous 4 of new music” by Opera News, the ensemble continually pushes the boundaries of vocal ensemble literature.

Admission is $35; student admission is $5.  Admission includes a reception prior to the concert at 5:30 p.m; the concert begins at 6:30 p.m. 

After the performance concludes, end your evening with a Three-Course Prix Fixe dinner for two with a bottle of wine for $100 at the Bee & Thistle, only available to MMModern concertgoers.  Make your dinner reservation by calling Bee & Thistle at 860.434.1667.

This special performance has been generously sponsored by The Howard Gilman Foundation and James B. and Alden R. Murphy.

For full details and to purchase tickets, visit Masterworks at www.musicalmasterworks.org or call 860.434.2252. 

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Op-Ed: Forced Regionalization of Our Schools Will be a Disaster For Our Communities

This op-ed was submitted by Tina C. Gilbert of Lyme. It was also sent as a letter to State Senators Paul Formica  (R-20th) and Norman Needleman (D-33rd), and State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd.) Gilbert has children in Lyme-Old Lyme Schools and is Vice-President of LCN USA located in Deep River, Conn.  

I am seriously concerned about the lack of awareness and sense of urgency in the Lyme-Old Lyme communities regarding the proposed Bills to force school regionalization, specifically Bill 454 (SB 738). It is a grave mistake for any tax payer in Lyme or Old Lyme  to think this doesn’t affect them just because they don’t have children attending the schools. We know the chances of this getting approved are strong, if not, at this point, unavoidable.

Unfortunately I was unable to attend the recent BOE meeting where I would have addressed my concerns. At the BOE meeting I understand that it was said that Region 18 had “good representation” at last Friday’s hearings on the proposed bills. We had, from my count, 5 children and 5 adults (2 without their children) at the hearing. The town of Wilton, conversely, had well over 100 – if not 150 constituents there. That is good representation. The hearing required three overflow rooms apart from the primary hearing room. Each of them packed with floors occupied by children. I could be mistaken, but I believe that is a very rare occurrence.

Next week, the Committee will vote on whether these Bills move forward. If they vote to move forward, the consequences to our two communities will be devastating and irrevocable. Our local BOE is concerned about the attrition rate of students in Region 18. However, imagine if you will the entire school population coming from the Town of Lyme no longer attending the Middle School or High School. No amount of marketing for out-of-region students or pre-K applicants is going to fill that void. What then are the effects? Jobs gone. Shared programs gone (LYSB). Culture, history, community …. compromised. Taxes increased. Residents leaving. Property values tanking. Parents putting themselves into debt to send their children to whatever private school they can find.
The Town of Old Lyme will follow the Probate system and will be regionalized with East Lyme, Salem and Montville. There will be a regionalized BOE and one Superintendent (that means 3 lose their jobs.) Governor Lamont specifically called out wanting to reduce the number of Superintendents. East Lyme is a large and powerful school. I don’t think it takes a deep thinker to figure out who is going to have more power in the new regionalized district.
We live in the Town of Lyme. We moved here from Deep River so that our children would be in the Region 18 schools. With this forced Regionalization, Lyme will join Deep River, Chester, Essex, Haddam and Killingworth. Children from the farthest reaches of Lyme will be bussed across the river to attend schools there. Bus rides will be well over an hour. Parents who want to be active in their children’s schooling will be challenged with having to follow suit and drive either over the bridge to Rt 9 (and soon pay tolls to do so) or over the bridge in Haddam.  My husband and I recently moved our business to Deep River, so we know how time consuming it is to come back to Lyme Consolidated in the middle of the day for a school event. This is the first year of the last seven that our children have been in the school that we’ve missed nearly every program. Frankly it would be easier for us to have our kids going to school on the other side of the river. But we don’t want that – we moved here for the quality of the education.
From the hearing and follow up discussion, it has become clear that the Forced Regionalization concept is in fact not about the state saving money. The Committee members supporting the legislation made their opinions on that clear. And a Bill supporter who has the ears of these members (including the Chair) put it succinctly as follows:
“Connecticut has too many school districts, and the richest ones are fortresses that have pulled all the ladders up after them while the poorest sink deeper and deeper. Town-based school districts drive wealth inequality and force towns to compete against one another instead of cooperating. Worst of all, they embody institutionalized and systemic racism. They enforce de facto segregation, which is the toxic legacy of redlining and exclusionary zoning, and we will never be able to move forward until that changes.”
In summary, this infers that we residents of Lyme and Old Lyme are a bunch of privileged racists who only want the best for their children and none for others. This tired tactic is offensive and reprehensible.
I am happy that there is broad bipartisan support against these Bills. But that’s not enough. If these Bills fail, the Governor has proposed his own Bill SB 874 with 32 pages of detail on a very powerful school consolidation commission that will make decisions that may or may not have to be put to vote by the legislators. The Governor stated he will sign it into law. There is also discussion of a new Regional Tax layer – to add to our Federal, State and Local taxes – to support all of this.

In the end, Forced Regionalization equals Forced Equalization equals Forced Marginalization. The sum is Disaster to our communities.
The word needs to get out to our communities, so at the very least they are educated on the subject and not blind-sided when they learn of the fate of their children’s education or are shocked when they see their future tax bills.
How can we make this happen? How can we get the word out? We have very little time.
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Region 4 Board of Education Presents Capital Plan, Draft Budget for Public Comment, Wednesday

The Region 4 Board of Education is currently in the middle of budget workshops for the 2019-20 school year. As part of this budget process, the Board is reviewing the recommendations of the Region 4 Grounds & Building Maintenance and Oversight Committee (made up of members of the Region 4 BOE, Administration, and Town Officials) in determining a five-year capital plan.
On Wednesday, March 6, from 6 to 7 p.m. in the John Winthrop Middle School library, there will be a presentation and time for public comment on the capital plan and working draft budget before the Board moves into their scheduled Budget Workshop.
This is a re-scheduled date due to the weather cancellation on its originally scheduled evening.
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Letter From Paris: Current Crisis Continues Long History of Franco-Italian Love-Hate Relationship

Nicole Prévost Logan

A diplomatic crisis is going on between France and Italy.   Salvoes of insults proffered by deputy prime ministers Matteo Salvini (extreme right) and Luigi Di Maio (anti-establishment) are flying  across the Alps.  A red line was crossed when Di Maio went to France and met with the most radical gilets jaunes who openly demand the resignation of the French president and the overturn of all political institutions.

This constituted a provocation and a never-seen before interference by one member of the European Union (EU)  into another’s internal affairs.  While on an official visit to Cairo, French President Emmanuel Macron disregarded these heinous remarks with total indifference. Paris recalled its ambassador to Italy – the first time since June 10, 1940 when André François Poncet left Rome following the declaration of war by Mussolini to defeat France. (The French ambassador is already back in Rome)

Tension is high. It is part of the long history of a difficult relationship between the two countries. During the unification of Risorgimento (1848 -1861), France often came to the rescue. At the famous battle of Solferino (1859), a Franco-Sardinian army led by Napoleon III and Victor Emmanuel II  defeated the Austrians under Emperor Franz Joseph I.  In contrast, the annexation of the county of Nice and the Savoie region to France, decided by the Treaty of Turin, was deeply resented by Italy, as was the loss of 550 sq. kms. including the mountain passes of Tende and La Brigue in February 1947.

The second cause of friction between the two countries stems from remnants of a colonial past. Italy often challenged France’s intrusion into what it considered its zone of influence. It never really accepted the Bardo Treaty of 1881, which created  France’s protectorate over Tunisia. In 1911, Italy had colonized Cyrenaica and Tripolitania, which were to become Libya.  So, when the French and British conducted air strikes over Libya with UN support  in 2011, Italy complained of having been kept out of the loop.

Economic and commercial dissensions between the two countries are not unusual. Some might recall that Italy refused to participate in the World Fair of 1889 in Paris.  Today the STX shipyard of St Nazaire may pass under the control of the Italian company Fincantieri in spite of France’e efforts to retain a majority vote. At stake in this confrontation is construction of the largest cruise ships in the world, such as “Harmony of the Seas,” which has become the latest vessel to join the Royal Caribbean fleet.

While Italy and France often behave like quarrelsome siblings, they are more than close culturally: they are complementary. Take art for instance.  At the turn of the 20th century, France may have been the center of the art world with Monet, Manet, Degas, Cezanne, Gauguin and others, but at the same time, a new school of painting called “Futurism” was growing in Italy with artists like Marinetti, Boccioni, Cora, Bala, and Severini.  The lattet were champions of the fast pace of the city, depicting cars, planes and all forms of modernity as well as being pioneers in the expression of movement and speed.

On a lighter side, a Franco-Italian film currently showing on French screens, is the perfect illustration of the closeness of those two “cousins.” The plot of the Estivants (the vacationers), directed by Valeria Bruni Tedeschi – sister of Carla Bruni, former French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s wife – is  set in a beautiful residence on the Cöte d’Azur.  A well-off and rather dysfunctional Franco-Italian family spends long hours on the terrace overlooking  the Mediterranean framed by cypress trees. Mixing the two languages, the guests discuss every subject under the sun, including societal conflicts evoked by the servants. Well-known actor Pierre Arditi is perfectly odious in the way he makes disparaging remarks about the lower classes while he older mother is at the grand piano playing the background score created by a talented Italian composer.

The present crisis between France and Italy is linked to the flow of migrants since 2015. Due to the “Dublin rule” making the European country of entry responsible for the refugee status and because only 200 kilometers separate Italy from the African shores, Italy has been on the front line in facing the surge.  Salvini accused other EU members, particularly France, of not sharing the burden of welcoming refugee seekers.  

The Italian government worked with the Libyan authorities to block the departure of migrants from Africa and prevented humanitarian ships from entering Italian ports. The “Aquarius” had to remain on the high seas for two weeks with dozen of migrants on board. it is worth noting that both France and Italy have about the same percentage  (10 percent) of immigrants.  Also, more than two-thirds of the sub-Saharan migrants come from former Italian colonies.

Di Maio is erroneously accusing France of investing the “Franc CFA ” (African Financial Community currency) in its own economy. The fact is that eight African countries asked Paris to put the money in the Banque de France‘s  vaults for safe-keeping.

For Salvini and Di Maio, Macron is the prime target.  For them, the French president crystallizes the policies rejected by their populist government:  a progressive, multilateralist program with an integrated Europe.  Their plan is to create an axis through Italy, Poland and Hungary of authoritarian and non-liberal states capable of countering the actions of the Franco-Germanic “couple” – an ominous trend for Europe.

The Italian economy is sitting on a time bomb.  Its public debt is 133 percent of the GDP, only second to Greece’s. It ranks at the bottom in Europe for GDP growth. The populist program of increasing minimum wages, lowering retirement age and other social measures, is bound to increase the deficit.  Scolded by Brussels. the Italian government had to revise its budget. Of course, the fact that Pierre Moscovici, the Commissioner for Financial Economic Affairs in Brussels, is French, contributes  to the sour relations.

What does this crisis hold for the future?  Seen from here, the histrionics of the Italians are not always taken seriously. Paolo Levi, Paris correspondent of La Stompa recently commented that Salvini was able to intercept a malaise and his political movement might not last.

How sad that both France and Italy were founding members of the EU that was created by the Treaty of Rome in 1957 …

Editor’s Note: This is the opinion of Nicole Prévost Logan.

Nicole Prévost Logan

About the author: Nicole Prévost Logan divides her time between Essex and Paris, spending summers in the former and winters in the latter. She writes a regular column for us from her Paris home where her topics will include politics, economy, social unrest — mostly in France — but also in other European countries. She also covers a variety of art exhibits and the performing arts in Europe. Logan is the author of ‘Forever on the Road: A Franco-American Family’s Thirty Years in the Foreign Service,’ an autobiography of her life as the wife of an overseas diplomat, who lived in 10 foreign countries on three continents. Her experiences during her foreign service life included being in Lebanon when civil war erupted, excavating a medieval city in Moscow and spending a week under house arrest in Guinea.

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Matthew Shafner Memorial Scholarship for Sons/Daughters of Disabled Workers Now Accepting Applications

The Disabled Workers’ Committee, a Connecticut-based, not-for-profit organization, whose mission is to help impaired workers, has issued new criteria for the single scholarship of $10,000 that it is offering to assist a senior high school student resident in Connecticut.  A student qualifies as a candidate for this scholarship if one or more of the following criteria are satisfied by their parent or legal guardian: 

  • is deceased as a result of a work-related injury; 
  • has been found to be permanently and totally disabled from all forms of work;
  • has sustained a work-related injury resulting in loss of a limb or;
  • has sustained a work-related permanent disability that has resulted in an inability to return to their former employment and has suffered a permanent wage loss.
  • the disability must arise out of a workplace injury.

The 2019 scholarship provides $1,250 per semester for four years.  The amount of the scholarship fund is awarded to the child or dependent of a disabled worker, who demonstrates both academic excellence and the financial need to go on to college.  The disability must arise from a workplace injury, and be confirmed by acceptance of the claim, a workers’ compensation final decision or social security award.

“The pressures that fall on disabled workers and their families are tremendous” explained Matthew Shafner in 2010 when he was chairman of the committee. “This scholarship fund eases one of the important financial burdens that disabled workers often face.”  Shafner, a nationally recognized attorney and former Chairman of the Disabled Workers Scholarship Subcommittee, passed away in September 2015. 

Applications are available throughout Connecticut in the offices of high school guidance counselors, labor unions and Workers’ Compensation Commission offices. The applications should be received by April 1, 2019 at the Scholarship fund, Disabled Workers Committee, Inc., c/o Suisman Shapiro Attorneys-at-law, 2 Union Plaza, Suite 200, New London, CT 06320. A statewide committee of prominent educators will carry out the screening and select the successful student.  

The Disabled Workers’ Committee is dedicated to educating the public about the importance of returning impaired workers to the workplace as soon as possible.  

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Third Annual Festival of Women’s Plays Continues at Ivoryton Playhouse, Today

Waltrudis Buck’s play, ‘Water Without Berries’ iwill be read on the opening night, March 1, of the Third Annual Women Playwrights Initiative at Ivoryton Playhouse.

ESSEX — Tickets are on on sale now for the Ivoryton Playhouse’s Third Annual Women Playwrights Initiative – Passion, Power and Prose 2019.

Tori Keenan-Zelt

The Initiative includes the Ellie Award and a $500 stipend for each of the four women playwrights chosen and provides a safe, nurturing environment for the development of new, one-act plays by and about women and the issues that shape their live, including a week of intensive rehearsal with the playwrights, directors, and actors.

The weeklong workshop culminates in two evenings of staged readings which will take place on Friday, March 1, and Saturday, March 2, at the Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton, CT, followed by discussions with playwrights, actors and directors.

Friday, March 1, at 7 p.m., there will be two readings presented.  

  • How to Be A Widow by Tori Keenan-Zelt and directed by Susan Einhorm.  In this wickedly funny play, two young women grapple with the freedom and power of their new widowhood.
  • Water Without Berries by Waltrudis Buck and directed by Todd Underwood. Two brothers—a school teacher and Shakespearean actor—return to Harlem to persuade their infirm grandma to leave the tenement where they grew up. In this bittersweet drama, yearning, art, rivalry, and hope struggle against the relentless forces of reality.

Kathleen Cahill

Saturday, March 2, at 7 p.m. there will be two readings presented.  

  • Partner of – by Rachael Carnes and directed by Leslie Snow. What can her grandmother and mother teach young Sally about agency, expectation, and the roles society permit women? Through the lens of three enslaved women, the property of Thomas Jefferson, we face what it means to be the “partner of –”
  • The Robertassey by Kathleen Cahill and directed by Hannah Simms. Roberta’s trip to Ireland becomes a surreal odyssey when the airlines lose her suitcase containing her father’s ashes. The dialogue is sharp, and the tone is magical, in a comedy that explores the universe’s indifference, filial obligation, forgiveness, and the power of love.

Rachael Carnes

To purchase tickets for the Friday, March 1, or Saturday, March 2, readings – each start at 7 p.m. – call 860.767.7318 or visit www.ivorytonplayhouse.org

Tickets are $20 for an adult each night; $15 for a senior each night; $10 for a student.  Buy tickets for Friday and Saturday night performances for $30 adult; $25 senior; $10 student – call the box office 860.767.7318 to book a two-day package.

The Ivoryton Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street, Ivoryton, CT  06442.

For more information about the Women Playwrights Initiative and to read bios of the playwrights, visit www.ivorytonplayhouse.org

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Centerbrook Architects Present Talk Tonight on Food, Farming Projects; All Welcome

ESSEX — The Centerbrook Architects Lecture Series welcomes architect Caitlin Taylor, Design Director at MASS Design Group to The Cube tonight, Friday, March 1, at 7 p.m.

Our collective human need to produce, process, transport, prepare, and eat food has a powerful transformative effect on our world – ecologically, economically, culturally, epidemiologically, historically, food shapes the world we live in. Food is inextricably linked to housing, education, health, environmental change, local economies, global industry, and to racial and social injustice.

Today we operate within a food system that is designed to exclude and oppress. Food access is spatial and temporal, and agricultural production colonizes vast swaths of our landscape. 

As an architect with a background in organic agriculture, Taylor brings to MASS Design Group an interdisciplinary focus on food justice, agriculture, and food systems. She is currently directing projects that focus on rural infrastructures of regenerative food production, equitable food access, and cultivation of food culture in disinvested cities.

Taylor will present some of the ongoing food and farming projects on the boards at MASS including the Good Shepherd Conservancy in Kansas, a new national network for school kitchen design, a community-run food hall as catalyst for urban redevelopment in Poughkeepsie, New York, and an industrial scale grain mill in Senegal.

Prior to joining MASS, Taylor worked at Centerbrook and directed an independent practice focused on water infrastructure. She lives with her family in East Haddam, Conn., where they own and operate an organic vegetable and cut flower farm. She has taught advanced architecture studios at the Yale School of Architecture and Columbia Graduate School for Architecture, Planning & Preservation.

This talk is free and open to the public.

For more information or to register, call the Essex Library at 860-767-1560. The Cube is located in the offices of Centerbrook Architects at 67 Main Street in Centerbrook.

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