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Blind love and immortality haunt ‘The Invention of Morel’ | Chicago … – Chicago Sun-Times

Posted: February 20, 2017 at 7:16 pm

You can think of The Invention of Morel the opera with music by Stewart Copeland (yes, the co-founder and drummer of the Police) and his co-librettist and director, Jonathan Moore in many different ways. On the one hand, the work, now receiving a winningly haunted and haunting production by Chicago Opera Theater, is the alternately unnerving nightmare and beautiful fever dream of a man on the run who sees no hope for his future until he conjures a relationship with an enigmatic woman.

It also can be seen as the chronicle of a wholly disorienting journey into what Joseph Conrad called The Heart of Darkness. Or you might consider it a meditation on the decadent members of an elite social circle who entertain a wholly delusional sense of privilege and are blind to anyone beyond their tight enclave.

But there is more.

THE INVENTION OF MOREL Highly recommended When:7:30 p.m. Feb. 24 and 3 p.m. Feb. 26 Where: Studebaker Theater in Fine Arts Building, 410 S. Michigan Tickets: $39 $125 Info: (312) 704-8414; http://www.chicagooperatheater.org Run time: 90 minutes with no intermission

Barbara Landis (from left), Valerie Vinzant, David Govertsen, Nathan Granner (seated), Scott Brunscheen and Kimberly E. Jones in Chicago Opera Theaters production of The Invention of Morel. (Photo: Liz Lauren)

In fact, so many themes are laced through this 90-minute work based on a 1940 novel by the Argentinean writer Adolfo Bioy Casares everything from the idealization of unrequited love and the tension between science and faith in God to the decidedly mixed blessing of immortality that you might well find yourself diving into its philosophical arguments as much as listening to its winningly eclectic and expertly sung score, a mix of familiar modernist dissonance spiced with a richly refreshing use of percussion, Latin rhythms and the popular dance music of an earlier time.

And on top of everything else in this co-commissioned world premiere with Californias Long Beach Opera, there is the enticing, off-kilter visual world of the piece conjured by set designer Alan Muraoka, lighting designer David Martin Jacques, video designer Adam Flemming and Jenny Mannis, whose costumes (with their hint of the 1920s world of The Great Gatsby) could easily find a place on Fashion Week runways.

The story begins as a bearded Fugitive (Andrew Wilkowske) and his double, who serves as the Narrator (Lee Gregory, like Wilkowske a fine actor and strong baritone), stagger onto a lush, seemingly deserted island in the South China Sea. Its a place with a mythic history, including the outbreak of a devastating plague (and, ironically, it is now the site of genuine geopolitical turmoil). The man, who seems to be a disgruntled intellectual/poet, has fled persecution in Italy and still fears he is being pursued as he takes shelter in a grand museum and mansion whose basement is home to diabolical machinery.

RELATED: Stewart Copeland arrives for world premiere night at the opera

Soon, a luxury ship arrives on the island, dispensing wealthy, self-involved guests who see it as a paradise. There is Morel (the honeyed tenor Nathan Granner, just smarmy and egotistical enough as the inventor who is revealing his monumental discovery), along with Scott Brunscheen as the egotistical architect, Barbara Landis as the Duchess, Kimberly E. Jones as the famous chanteuse and David Govertsen as the man who argues that science and faith need not be mutually exclusive.

And then there is the cool, elusive man magnet Faustine (Valerie Vinzant, a powerful soprano with a supermodel allure, flapper bob and the ability to unfold on a beach towel with balletic grace). The Fugitive immediately falls madly in love with her, even if, in the face of all his efforts to pursue her on the beach, he remains entirely transparent. That unrequited love becomes his driving life force (and fatal compulsion) as he muses on a fabled brothel of the blind in India where men are felt but never seen. His embrace of the very idea of love becomes that feelings best manifestation here, and perhaps a strange key to immortality.

At once eerily realistic and altogether phantasmagorical, The Invention of Morel deftly balances period charm with a contemporary sense of artificial reality. A most intriguing new work.

NOTE: Earlier this month, artistic director Andreas Mitisek announced he will be leaving his position at COT at the conclusion of this season. In April, Mitisek (who eliminated all the companys debt during his tenure) will conduct Phillip Glass opera The Perfect American at the Harris Theater, and he will continue a future relationship with COT as a guest conductor and director in the 2017-18 season (to be announced) and beyond. Beginning in September, COT will be led by general director Douglas Clayton, currently the companys executive director. Asearch for a part-time music director to join the artistic leadership team is planned.

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Blind love and immortality haunt ‘The Invention of Morel’ | Chicago … – Chicago Sun-Times

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Phobophobes Announces New Single and UK Tour with LIFE – Broadway World

Posted: at 7:07 pm

Phobophobes rise into 2017 nestled atop a wave of attention focused towards the revitalized South London scene with new single ‘The Never Never’, due for release March 24th via Ra-Ra Rok Records. Following previous single ‘Human Baby’, an elegy to their late guitarist George Russell that was played every day for a week on BBC 6Music, ‘The Never Never’ arrives an ode to the precarious survivalism of society’s most disenfranchised. Swirling through repetitive slogans, rubbishing the adverts that promise a life we can’t really afford as pastiche, and asking earnestly, “what separates those treading water to survive from the religious idols who struggled so similarly?”

“The Never Never is a critique of today’s excessive consumerism. The repetitive and slogan-esque nature of the track evokes the reductive nature of advertising.” explains frontman Jamie Taylor.

In the wake of a tumultuous 2016, Phobophobes continue to forge their own path, taking whatever’s thrown at them and squeezing every ounce of inspiration from it. It’s the only way they know. Frontman Jamie Taylor has built studio space wherever he’s roamed, from Paris to Peckham to Primrose Hill. Even Pittsburgh, Iowa, Palm Beach and New York whilst working on a touring art exhibition across America, setting up a studio in each hotel room to work on new tracks. Even when invited to Abbey Road Studios to record with Ken Scott (Bowie, Lennon, the list goes on), bass player at the time, Elliot, took swabs of their oldest microphone and grew bacteria in petri dishes, the results of which are immortalised in Phobophobes’ artwork and in the centre of their 7″s.

This boundless DIY mentality echoes through Phobophobes’ every move. Having now found home in the basement of The Brixton Windmill, the nucleus of South London’s gig circuit where Phobophobes record, rehearse and also put on their own shows, playing alongside Shame, Goat Girl, Meatraffle, The Fat White Family, Childhood and countless others, they remain progenitors of the scene.

Following a single launch show at London’s MOTH Club, Phobophobes will tour the UK with LIFE through April on the dates below. The band are currently readying their debut full-length album and will release ‘The Never Never’ on 7″ vinyl this March 24th via Ra-Ra Rok Records.

PHOBOPHOBES New 7″ single ‘The Never Never’ due March 24th via Ra-Ra Rok Records

Stream ‘The Never Never’ https://soundcloud.com/phobophobes/the-never-never-single

UK Tour with LIFE begins April 1st

facebook.com/Phobophobes/

March 13 London, Moth Club (single launch)

April w/ LIFE 1 Hull, The Welly Club 2 Glasgow, King Tuts 3 Manchester, Gullivers 5 Birmingham, The Sunflower Lounge 6 London, Camden Assembly 7 Bristol, Crofters Rights

Phobophobes are: Jamie Taylor (Guitar/Vocals), Chris OC (Keys), Dan Lyons (Drums), Jack Fussey (Guitar), Bede Trillo (Bass) & Christo McCracken (Guitar).

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Phobophobes Announces New Single and UK Tour with LIFE – Broadway World

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NEW: Human trafficking reports rise in Florida; young adults targeted – Palm Beach Post

Posted: at 6:41 pm

The recent case of three men accused of kidnapping a 19-year-old woman in Boynton Beach and trying to force her into prostitution is among a rapidly growing number of reported human trafficking incidents in Florida, state officials say.

The Florida Department of Children and Families counted nearly 1,900 reports of human trafficking statewide in 2016, a 54 percent increase from the previous year.

Advocates for victims have called human trafficking modern-day slavery. Under state and federal law, it is defined as soliciting, recruiting, harboring, transporting or otherwise obtaining another person to exploit him or her for labor, domestic servitude or sexual exploitation.

Human trafficking is something that can go on right before your eyes and you might not recognize it, said Sheila Gomez, the executive director of the Catholic Charities Diocese of Palm Beach, one of Palm Beach Countys largest family service nonprofits.

According to the Polaris Project a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. that tracks the number of calls to the national trafficking hotline Florida had the third-highest number of reported cases in 2016, behind only California and Texas.

South Floridas popularity among tourists and its transient populations help make it a popular target for the crime, some authorities say.

Any place where there are young adults, said Becky Dymond, the founder of Hepzibah House, a safe house in Palm Beach County for women who have been victims of trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. Traffickers, theyll go to bus stops, halfway houses, sober houses, strip clubs, bars.

Today, Catholic Charities is expected to announce the receipt of a grant and the start of a partnership with the Palm Beach County Sheriffs Office to combat human trafficking.

The Boynton Beach incident took place in the early morning hours of Feb. 9. The men entered a home on Northwest Fourth Street, two of them with guns drawn. One pointed a revolver at the 19-year-olds stomach, grabbed her by the back of her head and forced her to leave the house, police say.

An ad for the woman later appeared on the Backpage.com website advertising sexual relationships. An undercover detective arranged to meet her at a Boynton Beach motel, offering to pay $200, before the men were arrested. One of the men allegedly told officers they had gone to the Boynton Beach home to pimp the woman out.

Officials say violent acts such as this one are less common than scenarios where persuasion and kindness are used by a would-be trafficker to gain their targets trust.

Perhaps that person, they are really down on their luck or it could be a number of vulnerabilities, said Tanya Meade, president of the Human Trafficking Coalition of the Palm Beaches. At the end of the day, somebody uses elses vulnerability to make a profit.

Dymond estimates about 2,100 women in Palm Beach County are being commercially sexually exploited, not including those who are trafficked online. Women and men in drug recovery are particularly vulnerable to being manipulated by traffickers, she said.

All they have to do is go Hey, you can have as much coke as you want, Dymond said. Thats one of the tools they use to manipulate and maintain control.

Anti-trafficking organizations already are targeting at least one tool the Boynton Beach suspects are alleged to have used. This month, an unnamed Florida woman who says she was the victim of trafficking through Backpage and an anti-human trafficking organization filed a lawsuit in federal court in Orlando against the owners of Backpage.com

The online exploitation of teen girls is the biggest human rights violation of our time, said Carol Robles-Roman, the president and CEO of Legal Momentum, a New York-based womens rights organization that helped prepare the lawsuit. Backpage.com knowingly facilitated this evil and must be held accountable to the harmed girls and to the organizations that provide them services so they can heal and recover.

This past month, the site closed its adult advertisement section, citing government pressure, according to multiple published reports.

Statistics show the majority of reported human trafficking cases involve women, but it can also happen to men and boys, officials say.

There is no such thing as a typical victim, Meade said. They can be young people. They can be older. They can be male. It happens really across the socioeconomic (spectrum).

In many cases, calls to the trafficking hotline are made by a community member who observed something out of the ordinary, she said. According to the Polaris Project, signs of human trafficking include a person being unable to leave as he or she wishes, lacking control over his or her finances, and lacking control over his or her identificiation.

The biggest thing we always encourage people to do is just educate themselves about the issue, Meade said. If they see something that doesnt look right or feel right, call the hotline.

SEE ANYTHING

SUSPICIOUS?

Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888.

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NEW: Human trafficking reports rise in Florida; young adults targeted – Palm Beach Post

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The Airship and Futurism: Utopian Visions of the Airship …

Posted: February 19, 2017 at 10:40 am

Modern Mechanix magazine. October, 1934.

Airships have often served as the symbol of a brighter tomorrow.

Even before the first zeppelin was invented, airships featured prominently in utopian visions of the future. This 1898 poster advertised a musical comedy on the New York stage:

Musical theater poster. 1898.

And these German and Frenchpostcardspredicted air travel in theyear 2000:

German postcard, circa 1900

French postcard. 1910.

Futurists of the early 20th Century often combined lighter-than-air and heavier-than-air technology, as in this urban skyscraper airport and solar-powered aerial landing field:

Popular Science magazine. November, 1939

Modern Mechanix magazine. October, 1934.

Sometimes futurist airship visions were promoted by companies which were actually involved in the lighter-than-air business.

For example, the Goodyear-Zeppelin company, which built the American airships Akron and Macon, and which had a financial interest in the promotion of the passenger dirigible, frequently offered alluring illustrations of future airship travel.

Goodyear president Paul Litchfield and publicist Hugh Allen included the following pictures in their 1945 book, WHY? Why has America no Rigid Airships?:

These drawingsfrom Hugh Allens The Story of the Airship(1931)imaginedan Art Deco dining salon, promenade, and even a lounge with a fireplace.

Airships could even advance medical technology, such as this airshiptuberculosis hospital.

Under the illusion that communism was the way of the future, Soviet propagandists loved images of modernity and enlisted the airship in their cause.

Soviet poster, 1931. (We Are Building a Fleet of Airships in the Name of Lenin. Azeri text)

Sometimes illustrators got so carried away depicting lavish interiors that they neglected to leave room for much lifting gas, as in this illustration from The American Magazine.

The article described future airships to be built by the Goodyear-Zeppelin Company, which would be fitted up as sumptuously as a Palm Beach winter hotel:

The American Magazine. May, 1930.

This illustration of an atomic dirigible from a Soviet magazine in the 1960s left no room for lifting gas at all:

Soviet Atomic Dirigible

Modern Mechanics. July, 1931.

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Why the United States is no longer turning up its nose at Caribbean medical schools – STAT

Posted: February 18, 2017 at 4:39 am

M

ORENO VALLEY, Calif. Its easy to dismiss the for-profit medical schools that dot many a Caribbean island as scams, set up to woo unqualified students who rack up huge debts, drop out in staggering numbers, and if they make it to graduation end up with an all but worthless degree. Thats been the rap against them for years.

But the schools are determined to change that image. Many are quietly churning out doctors who are eager to work in poor, rural, and underserved communities. Their graduates embrace primary care and family practice, in part because theyre often shut out of training slots for more lucrative specialties.

And they just might help solve an urgent physician shortage in California and beyond.

The deans of two of the Caribbeans medical schools Ross University School of Medicine in Dominica and American University of the Caribbean in St. Maarten are on an aggressive campaign to improve their image. Theyve published a series of editorials and letterswith titles like Why malign overseas medical students? and hired public relations giant Edelman to make the case that their humble, hard-working, and compassionate students may be precisely the kinds of physicians America needs most.

Our students have persevered. They havent had all the opportunities in life and they still want to help people, said Dr. Heidi Chumley, dean of American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine. Absolutely we want to get our story out.

That story is unfolding on the ground in places like Moreno Valley, a city ofabout 200,000 in Californias Inland Empire, a former agricultural region just east of Los Angeles that grew explosively in the 80s but has since fallen on harder times.

Here, the Riverside University Health System Medical Centerrises from a stretch of largely undeveloped land once slated for luxury housing developments. The health system acts as the countys public safety net for an ethnically diverse, mostly low-income population including patients like retired carpenter Jos Luis Garcia.

On a recent clinic visit, Garcia, 69, came in to follow up on a urinary tract infection and his high blood sugar. He saw Dr. Moazzum Bajwa, 30, a second-year resident and graduate of Ross.

In a crisp white coat and bow tie, Bajwa entered the examining room and pulled up a low stool. Sitting eye to eye with Garcia, he spoke in a steady stream of fluent Spanish. The visit lasted nearly an hour.

In an attempt to keep his patient off insulin, Bajwa had asked Garcia to improve his diet and track blood sugar levels after meals. Nmeros fantsticos!, Bajwa exclaimed, looking at the folded sheet of carefully written numbers Garcia had brought to show him.

This is a very great doctor. Normally, I dont feel important.

Jos Luis Garcia, patient

Bajwa, a former middle school science teacher, then spent 10minutes drawing a careful diagram complete with neurons, intestinal walls, and red blood cells, orclulas rojas to explain to a rapt Garcia exactly why certain foods raised his blood sugar. He then examined Garcia noting he had a harmless but interesting muscle wall abnormality and checked his medical records. Was there a colonoscopy report on file? Retinal photos?

As the visit was ending, Bajwa asked Garcia about stress. Garcia said his wife had recently had surgery for glioblastoma multiforme, one of the most malignant of brain tumors. Wow, Bajwa said quietly as he quickly scanned the medical summary Garcia handed him. Wow. He sat down again on his low stool.

Lo siento mucho, seor, Bajwa said, clearly moved.

Then he gave Garcia a hug.

This is a very great doctor, Garcia said later, through a translator. Normally, I dont feel important.

Bajwa, an American citizen raised inMichigan and North Carolina, is the grandson of Pakistani Nobel physics laureate Abdus Salam and holds two advanced degrees, one in neuroanatomy and one in public health. But he couldnt get into an American medical school. So he attended Ross University in Dominica.

It was the only school that gave me an opportunity, he said.

There are some 70 medical schools throughout the Caribbean, most of them established in recent decades and run by for-profit businesses thatcater to Americans.

These so-called second chance schools accept students with poorer grades and lower MCAT scores, or sometimes no MCAT score at all. Compared to Americanmedical schools, their tuition and dropout rates are higher and their class sizes large: Ross enrolls more than 900 students per year.

Graduates can practice medicine in the United States after passing their Americanmedical licensing exams and completing a residency. But the schools have come under fire for generating a stream of students who dont end up as physicians, but do end up with crushing medical school debt because they flunk out or dont win residency spots after graduating.

Heartbreaking stories abound: One graduate of St. Georges University School of Medicine took a poor-paying job drawing blood to help pay off $400,000 in medical school loans. Another graduate of AUC entered nursing school after failing to get a residency.

Are Caribbean medical schools promising something they cannot fulfill? asked Dr. Glenn Tung, an associate dean at Brown Universitys Warren Alpert Medical School who has studied the schools. What Im concerned about is the cost to the students who dont make it and the cost to the American taxpayer when loans arent repaid.

Illinois Senator Richard Durbin, also concerned, has repeatedly introducedbipartisan legislation to strip the schools of Title IV federal funding for student loans. Three Caribbean medical schools Ross, AUC and St. Georges took in $450 million federal funding via student loans in 2012, Durbin said.

These for-profit Caribbean medical schools need to be accountable to their students and to U.S. taxpayers, he said in a statement.

Dean Chumley and Dr. Joseph Flaherty, the dean of Ross, take strong exception to such criticism.

They allow that many for-profit medical schools which have proliferated in the past few decadesbecause they are proven money makers arent doing a good job training and developing students. But they argue that AUC and Ross, two of the oldest Caribbean schools both owned by for-profit educational juggernaut DeVry Inc. are creating successful doctors.

They say they are also giving a shot to students with humble backgrounds, often minorities, who cant get near American medical schools that focus so heavily on test scores and grades.

Obviously brains help, but judgement, empathy, intuition, thats all part of it, Flaherty said. Our students are gung-ho. They want to practice medicine. Thats their dream.

Just 54 percent of American medical graduates who trained overseas are matched with a residency program for further training in their first year of eligibility. Thats an abysmal record, compared to the 94 percent of graduates of US schools who get residencies. But Ross and AUC say they have a match rates higher than 86 percent. And they say a vast majority of students pass their step 1 licensing exams on the first try.

Obviously brains help, but judgement, empathy, intuition, thats all part of it Our students are gung-ho.

Dr. Joseph Flaherty, dean of a Caribbean medical school

(Critics say the schools manipulate the statistics by dismissing weak students shortly before they are allowed to take the exams. Chumley said the schools do weed out poor students early on to prevent their accumulating debt, but in no way encourage poor students to stay for five semesters and then prevent them from taking the exam. I think thats ethically wrong, she said.)

The schools are also controversial because of their practice of buying their way into hospitals to train students. In 2012, Ross inked a contract beating out rival St. Georges University School of Medicine of Grenada to pay $35 million over a decadeto the cash strapped Kern Medical Center in Bakersfield in exchange for the lions share of the hospitals roughly 100 rotation spots for third-year medical students.

Some critics fear such deals will squeeze American-trained students out of rotations; disputes have flared in New York, where St. George paid $100 million for rotation spots, and in Texas, where lawmakers attempted to entirely ban Caribbean students from training in the state.

But Flaherty, Rosss dean, says the such deals are a win-win. A struggling hospital gets funds. His school, which has no teaching hospital, gets a place to train students. And he gets to show skeptical doctors how good his students really are.

The doctors get to know our students and say, These guys are good, he said. Our students get there early. They stay late and do extra work. They value any opportunity.

And they seize those opportunities where they can find them.

While their numbers are up, its still harder for international medical grads known as IMGs to get residency positions. Theyveheard all the jokes about studying anatomy on the beach with Mai Tais in hand. But when it comes to residency positions, they are deadly serious. For there is no practicing medicine without one.

You have to apply very widely. Theres always a stigma that IMGs dont get as good an education. said Rina Seerke-Teper, 31, a second-year resident who has wanted to be a doctor since she was six, graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and worked in stem cell research before attending AUC.

Many Caribbean graduates dont even apply to residency programs that are filled only with American trained students. Instead, they look for IMG friendly programs like the family practice residency here, run in a busy clinic housed within the county hospital. The program is highly competitive receiving about 800 applications for 12 positions each year and of the three dozen current residents, 29 studied in a medical school outside the US.

Competition for the coveted slots is likely to grow even more as California, which just got one newmedical schools and is slated to soon add another, starts spitting out more locally trained grads.

More doctors are desperately needed: California will need an estimated 8,000 additional primary care doctors by 2030. The United States as a whole is projected to need some 30,000 additional primary care physicians in coming decades.

Dr. Michelle Quiogue works in one of the areas hit hardest by the shortage rural Kern County. A graduate of a prestigious medical school at Brown University Quiogue says shes worked alongside many foreign-trained doctors and would never know what college they graduated from.

Inher mind, the problem is not a lack of medical students but a lack of residency programs to train them. The governor has proposedcutting $100 million for primary care residency training, and her organization, the California Academy of Family Physicians, is scrambling to get it replaced.

Medical school hasnt changed much in a century. Here are 5 ways to fix that

Those who do win residency spots say it seems to matter less and less where they went to school as they climb up the medical training ladder. And it seems to matter not at all in clinics where patients are grateful for any medical care they receive.

I have never heard a patient ask where a physician is trained, said Carly Barruga, a third year medical student at nearby Loma Linda University who said she is getting excellent training in her rotation here from Caribbean-trained doctors like Dr. Tavinder Singh.

Singh, 30, is chief resident here and also a graduate of Ross. While he traces his interest in medicine to the open heart surgery his grandmother had when he was a boy, Singh didnt apply to American medical schools because his MCATs werent as strong as they should have been. He didnt want to wait a year to retake them.

I had the goal in mind I was going to be a doctor, said Singh, a California native. Nothing was going to stop me. Hes loved his residency, especially the chance to work in needy communities where medical zebras unlikely and rare diagnoses can be common. You see chronic disease that have never been treated, he said. You see rare diseases like Zika.

While Singh was once the one begging for a chance, the tables have turned. In a state hungry for family practice physicians, hes now fielding numerous job offers.

Bajwas future is bright as well.

For now, though, hes just happy to be practicing medicine, thrilled to be delivering babies and focusing on preventative care. He loves helping patients like Wendy Ocampo, a 19-year-old with limb girdle muscular dystrophy. During an appointment this month, Ocampo came in to see Bajwa with respiratory symptoms.

New medical schools aim to fix Americas broken health care system

It was supposed to be a quick visit, but he ended up spending a half hour with her once he discovered bureaucratic hurdles had left her waiting seven months for the wheelchair she needs for her job and college. (Bajwa credits his clinic staff and nurses for working through lunch and juggling his schedule so he can offer longer visits.) Ocampo also hasnt been able to get the physical therapy she needs for her ankle.

It burns me up that these things are falling through the cracks, said Bajwa, after taking a few minutes to compliment Ocampos impressive new shoes and ask if she was growing out her hair.

Though sick, Ocampo beamed. Honestly, hes great, she said. He calls me to check on me. I have, like, 30 doctors and none of them have ever done that.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the population for Moreno Valley and the status of a proposed funding cut for residency training.

Usha Lee McFarling can be reached at usha.mcfarling@gmail.com Follow Usha Lee on Twitter @ushamcfarling

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Why the United States is no longer turning up its nose at Caribbean medical schools – STAT

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Revised orca shows, new virtual-reality swim with whales and new … – Los Angeles Times

Posted: February 17, 2017 at 1:22 am

SeaWorld San Diego will debut a new less theatrical, more natural killer whale show this summer that may change orca shows at the marine theme park for decades to come.

Besides the Orca Encounter show,additions coming to SeaWorld this summer includea themed land with six attractions and a light show.

Controversy has surroundedSeaWorlds Shamu show since a whale named Tilikumkilled trainer Dawn Brancheau during a 2010 show in Florida.Blackfish,a 2013 documentary, cited the treatment of Tilikum and other captive whales. (The 36-year-old killer whale died ofbacterial pneumonia in January at SeaWorld Orlando in Florida.)

After demands by animal rights groups and the California Coastal Commission,Seaworld halted its orca breeding program and ended theatrical killer whale shows at all U.S. locations.

Orca Encounter will takea live documentary approach that emphasizes natural behaviors related to hunting, social interaction and communication, said Marilyn Hannes, president of SeaWorld San Diego.

You wont see the whales mimicking human behaviors, kissing each other or shaking their head yes and no, Hannes said in a phone interview. If you dont see a front flip in the wild, then you wont see it in Orca Encounter.

The stage in San Diegos 5,500-seat Shamu stadium will be transformed with a Pacific Northwest theme featuring natural rock work, faux trees and man-made waterfalls surrounding a 138-foot-wide high-definition infinity screen.

Trainers will use hand signals and whistles to ask the whales to perform behaviors during the narrated 22-minute show.

They will still be breaching because whales breach in the wild, Hannes said. Whales hunt in the wild, and they do movements where they flap their tail to stun their prey or they splash them or they come out of the water to grab a seal from the beach.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, describes the latest changes to the orca show as smoke and mirrors. The organizationcalls for SeaWorld to retire the killer whales to seaside sanctuaries.

SeaWorld’s above-water decorations are marketing ploys designed to impress visitors, but they do nothing for orcas, Tracy Reiman,PETA executive vice president, said in an email. A less theatrical circus is still one in which animals will be forced to perform for a reward of dead fish.

The San Diego park has 11 killer whales; 52-year-old Corky is the oldest, and 2-year-old Amaya the youngest. After more than 50 years of orca shows, the stadium shows will continue to evolveover the next half century,Hannes said.

Were going to have whales for decades to come, Hannes said. Society has changed and we have changed with it.

Theatrical orca shows at SeaWorld parks in Orlando and San Antonio are expected to end in 2019.

But the whale shows arent the only things changing.

Submarine Quest, the marquee ride in the new Ocean Explorers land coming to theSan Diego park, will take visitors on an interactive exploratory mission through various ocean depths while traveling through the new themed land.

Seaworld officials have been quick to point out that Submarine Quest is not a shoot-em-up dark ride. Using digital touchscreens mounted in the ride vehicles, riders will play games and score points as they spot ocean creatures during the indoor and outdoor journey.

Other attractions in the new land will include the Tentacle Twirl wave swing, a kiddie drop tower, a spinning flat ride and a motorized swing set. Three aquariums will feature moray eels, Japanese spider crabs and giant Pacific octopus.

An up-charge virtual-reality experience in the new land will allow visitors to virtually swim with orcas and come nose to nose with killer whales. The five-minute Orca One-on-One short film uses real footage of SeaWorld killer whales without digital enhancements.

Youre up so close you can see their eyes, Brian Morrow, SeaWorld creative director, said in a phone interview.

If successful, the orca VR experience is expected to expand to SeaWorld parks in Orlando and San Antonio.

The new Electric Ocean nighttime spectacular will transform the San Diego park into a canvas painted with light as part of a kiss goodnight show.

Lasers and lights will create an underwater experience similar to the Northern Lights, with bioluminescent animals floating through the sky. While still in development, the plan is to use projection mapping technology on the Journey to Atlantis water coaster buildings to tell the story of the rise and fall of Atlantis.

Electric Ocean is a reinvention of what a nighttime experience in a theme park can be, Morrow said.

As part of the nighttime experience, the Cirque de la Mer acrobatic show on Mission Bay will transform nightly throughout the summer into Cirque Electrique.

In 2018, SeaWorld San Diego will add the Electric Eel triple-launch roller coaster to the new Ocean Explorers themed land.

Riders will pass through a queue with an aquarium filled with moray eels. The ride starts with a forward-backward-forward launch that whips through vertical twists and loops as well as a towering 154-foot-tall barrel roll that ranks as one of the worlds tallest inversions.

Identical versions of the Premier Rides SkyRocket II coaster can be found at Busch Gardens Williamsburg (Tempesto) and Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (Superman Ultimate Flight).

The top 60 feet of the coaster track will be painted sky blue to minimize the visual footprint of the ride. SeaWorld expects to seek approval to install the ride later this year from the California Coastal Commission.

Were still going to be focused on inspiring our guests to help save the planet that we all share with these animals, Morrow said. The world needs places like this, now and even more so in the future. And were poised to be that place for the world.

SeaWorld remains focused on inspiring visitors to make a difference in the world, Morrow said.

The core essence of the mission will never change: to inspire people to come into our park and leave a better person and make the planet a better place, Morrow said.

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You can take a family vacation the Caribbean – AZCentral.com

Posted: February 15, 2017 at 12:34 am

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If you thought an all-inclusive Caribbean getaway was out of reach until your kids headed off to college, you were wrong in the best way.

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Sonesta Maho Beach Resort in the Caribbean.(Photo: Sonesta Resorts)

If you thought an all-inclusive Caribbean getaway was out of reach until your kids headed off to college, you were wrong in the best way.

Sonesta Maho Beach Resort on the island of St. Maarten is a huge resort with features just for kids, according toMelanie Reffes in a special for USA TODAY.

Kids over age 3 can splash in the watery playground, hang out in the indoor kids club, go on beach treasure hunts and clamber up the tree-house. Dining options abound with five restaurants.

Pajama and disco nights as well as movies by the pool appeal to kids of all ages.

Best of all,kids under 12 stay, play and eat free, and the nightly rate for 13- to 17-year-olds is $45.

Andread on about two more family-friendly Caribbean resorts.

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Nassau, Bahamas: Where to eat, dive and lay out on the sand – amNY

Posted: February 14, 2017 at 11:44 am

Nassau is back in business. The main port of the Bahamas quickly bounced back from Hurricane Matthew last fall, with resorts, restaurants and tourist attractions on line. If youre planning a first or return visit this spring, here is how to explore the Caribbean destination right now, from sampling fresh catches to diving to relaxing on secluded beaches.

A couple miles from downtown Nassau is Goodmans Bay, a vibrant beach where you can find cookouts, parties with bright umbrellas and locals swimming and snorkeling on the placid beach.

To eat like a local, too, head to a fish fry, like Nassau’s Fish Fry, near Goodman’s Bay. And at Twin Brothers (multiple locations, twinbrothersbahamas.com), tryclassic Bahamian cuisine like grilled mahi mahi, rice and plantains.

For something quite unique, head to dive resort Stuart Coves Dive Bahamas (stuartcove.com) on the southwest side of the island and explore underwater in a SUB aquanaut, a machine that combines motorcycling and scuba diving. Be sure to watch out for pirate fish, seabass, yellow tail snapper and stingrays.

Hop on a boat and head to Blue Lagoon Island, a secluded nursery for more than 100 species of marine life. Choose between shaking fins and wet kisses from dolphins or sea lions with an animal encounter (dolphinencounters.com), then rest up at the adults-only VIP beach.

For boutique shopping, head to the downtown Nassau area, along West Bay Street. Highlights include Straw Market, where a plethora of vendors selling colorful Mexican wares like baskets, blankets, and tchotchkes, and Cotton House, which sells colorful boots with intricate designs.

The all-inclusive Melia Nassau Beach (melia.com) is a kid-friendly resort located on Cable Beach, about a 20-minute bus ride from downtown Nassau. The most scenic views of the beach can be taken in on one of the wrap around balcony suites; if you have a family or a group of friends, opt for the 2-bedroom/3-full-bath suite. Indulge in the selection of free water sports like water biking, kayaks and stand-up paddle boarding. Fancy getting certified to dive? The property offers a complimentary scuba diving introduction at the pool area. The on-site restaurants offer a selection of cuisine from all over the world, from the Marketplace buffet restaurant, where dinner is themed each night, to the tapas bar Estavida.

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Queen Mary 2 to Host High Fashion on the High Seas – Cruise Hive – Cruise Hive

Posted: February 13, 2017 at 9:40 am

The iconic ocean liner Queen Mary 2 is hosting a high fashion experience on the high seas with celebrity guest Iris Apfel. The trans-Atlantic voyage will feature the 95-year-old fashion icon and design diva, who owned the textile firm Old World Weavers for 44 years and contributed to design restorations at the White House for nine presidents.

Apfels fathers family owned a business designing and selling glass and mirrors, and her mother owned a fashion boutique.

Apfel is known for her unique and often irreverent style of mixing high fashion with oversized costume jewelry, topped with her large round signature eyeglasses. She recently told reporters, Everyone should find their own way. Im a great one for individuality. I dont like trends. If you get to learn who you are and what you look like and what you can handle, youll know what to do.

During the crossing, passengers can enjoy Q&A sessions with Apfel. There will also be runway shows with fashion models, and a screening of the documentary film Iris, directed by Albert Maysles. Also in attendance on the voyage will be other fashion celebs including designer Julien Macdonald, historian Colin McDowell, and industry consultant Gail Sackloff.

When asked about her secrets for a long and happy life, Apfel stated, I have no secrets. I have no advice except to love life and not give in to yourself. At a certain age, you have to push a bit to be honest. Once you do, youll find theres a lot out there and you wont think of yourself. Get out there and help somebody. There are so many people that need a hand. Life is there, and its wonderful, she concluded.

Apfel continues to remain active, appearing in a Citron commercial, lecturing about style, and collaborating with WiseWear and Smart Jewelry. Her distinct style has inspired museum exhibits at the Met (NYC), Nassau County Museum of Art (NY), Museum of Lifestyle & Fashion History (Boynton Beach, FL) and the Peabody Essex Museum (Salem, MA). The latter two venues are building collections and dedicated galleries of Apfels clothing, accessories and furnishings collected over the last 70 years.

The humorous New Yorker once called herself a geriatric starlet. She said, Someone once told me, You are not pretty, and you never will be. But it doesnt matter. You have something else you have style.

The Queen Mary 2 fashion voyage will leave from Southampton, England on August 31 and arrive in New York City on September 7 to coincide with New York Fashion Week.

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AP PHOTOS: Editor selections from Latin America, Caribbean – Journal Times

Posted: February 10, 2017 at 3:40 am

This photo gallery highlights some of the top imagery and news moments made by Associated Press photographers in Latin America and Caribbean that were published in the last week.

Celebrations for the Feast of Candelaria ended with big hangovers in Peru, while in Mexico people made sure to take their ornately dressed baby Jesus dolls to church to get them blessed. In Uruguay, thousands of worshippers went to the beach during African sea goddess Yemanja’s feast day, bearing gifts to show their gratitude for her blessings.

In Argentina, bare-chested women and bikini-clad men went to the streets to protest after police threatened weeks ago to detain several women sunbathing topless on a beach.

The Brazilian state of Espiritu Santo erupted in deadly violence with dozens dead. The killings prompted help from the army after police stopped patrolling the streets to demand higher pay.

Chile’s president has said the worst fires in the nation’s history are mostly under control but not before claiming the lives of at least 10 people, destroying forests, livestock and entire towns.

Panama’s recently expanded canal continue facing operational problems as ships are still scraping the walls and prematurely weakening the defenses designed to protect the ships and the locks themselves.

In Venezuela, protests continue over the dire shortage of medicine and medical supplies.

Lastly, in Mexico’s northwestern city of Cuilacan, heavily armed men attacked marines on patrol, leaving several suspects and one marine dead. At about the same time and just a few miles away, at the Tomateros stadium, Puerto Rico’s Criollos de Caguas beat Mexico’s Aguilas de Mexicali and won the 2017 Caribbean Series baseball tournament.

This photo gallery was curated by photo editor Dario Lopez in Mexico City. Follow Lopez on Twitter : @DarioLopezMills

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