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Last night I attended the Manhattan International Film Festival, which is hosted by the World Youth Alliance.  The United Nations is the usual venue for the final screenings, but not this year.  Below is a letter from the WYA director, Anne Halpine, explaining the last minute switch.  Regardless of the controversy, it was a splendid evening of good conversation in good company followed by films that are aimed at promoting the dignity of the human person.  Oh, and not to mention Alexis Kende (pictured above) and the WYA Chamber Orchestra delivered live music.  I don’t think the United Nations knew what they were missing.

Dear WYA friends,

As you know, our mission at WYA is to promote the dignity of every human person. We do this through education programs, international advocacy, and cultural initiatives including the annual Manhattan International Film Festival, which took place last week.  This year’s festival has provided us an additional opportunity to stand for our ideals, including important freedoms of expression.

9 young directors qualified as finalists in our 2015 competition, and were invited to screen their short films in New York.  Recognized for their creativity and depth in portraying the dignity of the person, the triumph of the human spirit, and the power of solidarity, these directors represented a variety of countries including the Philippines, Taiwan, the United States, Chile, and Finland.  4 of the finalists were selected as MIFF Winners, and were scheduled to screen their short films at the United Nations on Wednesday, March 25th.

However, late last week, we learned that due to political reasons, the UN would no longer host the screening when informed them that our lineup might include works by young Taiwanese Directors.  We were also informed, by the UN itself, that not only were we not allowed to show films by Taiwanese Directors, we were not allowed to have our guests from Taiwan inside the UN.

The United Nations is an international arena, founded to promote international cooperation and peace. Its objectives include fostering social development, maintaining international peace and security, and promoting the rights of all people. In bowing to pressure from China, it has violated its own mandate, and has attempted to ignore the existence and reality of an entire nation state and people. History shows us how meaningful, and how dangerous, such actions are.

As a result, we chose not to showcase the winners of our film festival at the United Nations. Appropriately, and generously, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office will be hosting our final screening event.

For those of you in Manhattan, we invite you to join us tomorrow night for this important occasion; Wednesday, March 25th, 6pm at 1 East 42nd Street.  The evening will include a screening of the 4 winning films in this year’s competition.

The meaning and importance of our film festival has been heightened this year.  We are reminded that art is not simply a mirror; it is also a hammer that threatens to challenge and provoke change in the world.  We are proud to stand with our artists, friends, and ideals.



Anna Halpine, WYA Founder



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November 5, 2012

The Verizon Wireless Center in Manchester, New Hampshire was the site of my last (and first) Kid Rock concert. With a presidential hopeful in the house, Kid Rock was there to kick off Mitt Romney’s final campaign stop before election day–November 6, 2012.  Fast forward to 2015 and America’s already gearing up for another showdown for the White House.  Mind you, no one’s officially declared their running, but tomorrow Ted Cruz is set to formally become a Republican contender and Martin O’Malley is already energizing the Democratic masses in Iowa.  Is a Clinton vs. Bush dynastic showdown really inevitable?  Their the one’s with the money, but on February 6th Kid Rock gave an interview in the New York Time’s Magazine tentatively showing support for Ben Carson. And the cover of this week’s NYT Magazine is all about Ben.

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“George, perhaps you can just play gently.”

This last minute advice from the conductor before my debut performance as a member of the fifth grade class band is a humbling segue into my present task of informing the good readers of WestView News about the newly installed 40 rank pipe organ gracing the choir loft of the Church of Saint Joseph’s.

In case your West Village ecclesial acumen is lacking, “St. Joe’s” is the Roman Catholic parish with the Greek revival columns on the corner of 6th Avenue and Washington Place. Its Protestant architectural form belies its popish allegiance for good reason. Constructed in an era when anti-Catholic sentiments took the form of torching the local parish it was a safer bet to try and “blend in.”

Its present day mission is to be a beacon of truth on this maddeningly mercurial island of Manhattan. St. Joseph’s is certainly what keeps me wired into the Gospel via the skillful, earthy, and often entertaining preaching of the Dominican friars who hold court there. And I’m not the only one. When NYU’s in session the 6:00 p.m. Sunday mass is packed with 650 people, mostly students and young professionals. While the other masses attract a different crowd the quality of music plays a significant role in drawing all of the attendees back again next week.

Throughout the year there are orchestral performances open to the public, including the Washington Square Music Festival. Blessed with an easily accessible location and perfect acoustics it’s not surprising that musicians flock to it.

The latest musical edition–this pipe organ of “untold sum” is the bequest of long time parishioner Clare Sabatino. Built by the LeTourneau Organ Company in St. Hyacinth, Canada it is Ms. Sabatino’s way of honoring her father who played the harp for the New York Philharmonic. Since my musically-challenged word is hardly convincing my only advice is to come have a listen at the next concert or stop in on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. when Bach, Mozart, and Byrd jockey for the honor of providing liturgical accompaniment. Latest concerts and events are listed at www.washingtonsquarecatholic.org. All are welcome.



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There’s no arguing with an hour glass–even as beat up and weathered as the one in my parent’s New England home.  When the final specks of sand fall, it’s over.

With only a few grains left in 2014 there’s still time for a reflection on the passing year.

Today’s New York Times’ Year in Pictures is a fitting start.

And just to name a few 2014 foreign affairs highlights: Ukraine’s bold move standing up to Russia; ISIS’ reign of terror in Iraq and Syria; Taliban resurgence in post-NATO Afghanistan; the dual coronations by the media of Jeb and Hillary as heirs to the Republican and Democratic presidential nominations, respectively; European scapegoating of Netanyahu’s Israel; Ebola; Obama’s Cuban detente; ongoing genocide in Sudan/Darfur; the changing of the guard at the United Nations Security Council; and North Korean censorship going global.

In New York City the news of the moment is the New York Police Department’s unequivocal rejection of Mayor DeBlasio following the point blank execution of two officers in Bed-Stuy.  The Mayor’s solidarity with anti-NYPD protesters following the juried rulings in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases appears to have the entire police force disillusioned with his leadership.

And now for a handful of predictions: Another Pope Francis/Barack Obama photo-op during the pontiff’s visit state-side; ISIS loses big in Iraq (the clock’s ticking for Iraqi forces taking back Mosul); a full-court press by the Taliban to retake Afghanistan will leave them in control of a number of provinces, but the U.S. won’t let them raise their jihadi flag over the capital-city; the stock market is going to take a tumble and oil prices won’t stay low in 2015; the archdiocese of New York will not close St. Catherine of Siena (adjacent to Sloan Kettering) or St. Thomas More parish in Carnegie Hill; genocide in the Sudan (especially the Nuba Mountains) will garner a great deal of long overdue media attention; sanctions won’t deter Russia from meddling in Ukraine and other neighboring countries; Netanyahu wins the March elections; and Hillary and Jeb won’t be the presidential nominees.  The big question of 2015 is whether Assad can hold on to power in Syria.

Farewell 2014.  Didn’t see Ebola coming that’s for sure.  Let’s pray for a more peaceful and healthy 2015.












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Last night I attended the 92nd Street Y’s talk between Senator McCain and “Face the Nation” commentator Bob Schieffer.  I happened to reserve a ticket for the front row, smack dab in the center.  Best seat in the house.  As a political junkie I had the same excitement as theatergoers for opening night of a Broadway play.  And it was a marvelous performance.  Not that I agreed with a good number of his points, but it was impressive to watch a senior senator work the crowd.  Despite a handful of snarky post-performance comments by a few audience members talking amongst themselves, he was very well received.  People spontaneously started clapping after a number of his comments and there was a sense that he was genuinely looking out for the common good.  He even got a hoo-rah from a Marine in the audience after wishing the Marine Corps a Happy Birthday.

The Senator was there to present his new book, 13 Soldiers: A Personal History of Americans at War, but after highlighting a few of his favorite stories from the book most of the time was spent fielding audience questions related to geopolitical and national issues.

Click here for a recording of Senator McCain’s 92Y talk.

Happy Veteran’s Day to all who served.

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