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Judi Lynn

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ViernesTradicional highlights and safeguards Mexico's rich cultural diversity found in clothing

ViernesTradicional highlights and safeguards Mexico's rich cultural diversity found in clothing
Posted 15 March 2019 15:51 GMT

. . .

Every Friday on social media, colorful images of traditional textiles and clothing from across Mexico highlight its rich cultural diversity. Through a campaign called “Viernes Tradicional” (Traditional Friday), which is in the spirit of the trend in some office environments of encouraging casual dress on “casual Friday,” images can be found on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

An invitation is made for indigenous and non-indigenous people to upload a photo of themselves wearing their favorite item of traditional clothing with the hashtag #ViernesTradicional and an accompanying description of the technique, origin, and if possible, the name of the artisan. The result is a weekly snapshot of designs and their background representing indigenous peoples of Mexico.

However, freely uploading these types of photos in such a public manner opens up the door for possible plagiarism leading to commercial exploitation, an ongoing challenge for artisans from Mexico and across Latin America, whose livelihoods depend on their original designs. As a result, this campaign provides a space to report potential plagiarism, and stresses the importance of better understanding the origin of these garments and the need to support local artisans.


'Racism is the shackles holding back our Republic,' says Brazilian anthropologist Lilia Moritz Schwa

‘Racism is the shackles holding back our Republic,’ says Brazilian anthropologist Lilia Moritz Schwarcz
Posted 16 March 2019 12:00 GMT

In Brazil, nearly 72 percent of homicide victims are black, according to 2018 statistics. In 2016, the total number of violent deaths reached 61.283. This staggering figure is equivalent to the average yearly number of deaths in war-torn Syria, as anthropologist Lilia Moritz Schwarcz points out in her efforts to highlight the issue of racism in her country.

A professor at the University of São Paulo and Global Scholar at Princeton University, Moritz Schwarcz is a leading Brazilian historian and anthropologist who is widely acclaimed for flashing out the legacy of Brazil's slavery past.

Her extensive body of work includes an 808-page “biography” of Brazil spanning 500 years of history, which she co-wrote with Heloisa Starling, and a popular YouTube channel where she delves into the country's most pressing contemporary issues. Her new book, about the historical roots of Brazil's authoritarianism, will come out in May 2019.

While Austrian author Stefan Zweig marveled, as he traveled in 1936 in the northeastern part of the country, at the country's “racial democracy” in his essay “Brazil: Land of the future”, Schwarcz has shown how the wounds of around 400 years of slavery are still open today.


Lenin Moreno's Betrayal

Lenín Moreno’s Betrayal

Ecuador's Lenín Moreno has allied with former political opponents to implement a conservative economic agenda, threatening to undo the country’s strides in tackling poverty and inequality under Rafael Correa.

Are social conditions in Ecuador beginning to deteriorate? A report released in June 2018 on poverty and inequality by Ecuador’s National Institute of Statistics and Census found that poverty crept up slightly between June 2017 and June 2018, with 24.5 percent of the population living in poverty, up from 23.1 percent the year before. While these numbers may appear low, they could be a sign of things to come as the Ecuadorian government under Lenín Moreno doubles down on economic policies favoring austerity and deregulation while attempting to discredit the Left.

The political and economic prognosis appeared quite different when Moreno was elected in April 2017, representing the center-left ruling party, Alianza País (Country Alliance), narrowly defeating neoliberal banker Guillermo Lasso. The Latin American left, against the backdrop of a resurgent Right turn, was relieved: onlookers expected Moreno to continue the progressive advances his predecessor, Rafael Correa, had made during his tenure in office under the Citizens’ Revolution, with perhaps a softer edge. But once in office, Moreno swiftly pivoted on his campaign promises, governing with a right-wing neoliberal agenda that has already chipped away at the gains of the Citizens’ Revolution and could threaten to bury it entirely.

Alianza País is now split. Moreno, who served as Correa’s vice president from 2007 to 2013, has changed the party leadership and its priorities. Correa and his supporters left the party in January 2018 and have not been allowed to form their own party structures since. Meanwhile, under Moreno’s leadership, Alianza País has lost much of its previous support. Since his inauguration, Moreno has claimed his government inherited an economic and institutional crisis, presenting neoliberal adjustment policies and austerity as the solution.

In the process, Moreno and his allies have lambasted Correa-era infrastructure projects as examples of government corruption and mismanagement as well as cornerstone education and technology projects, such as the innovation hub known as Yachay City of Knowledge. He also cautioned that the recently refurbished oil refinery in Esmeraldas was severely damaged — its scheduled temporary shutdown was postponed repeatedly until it was finally enacted in March 2019. Moreno has claimed that Correa installed a camera in the presidential palace to monitor his every move.


Brazil's new president is tweeting so much crazy stuff that he's giving Trump a run for his money

Brazil's new president is tweeting so much crazy stuff that he's giving Trump a run for his money
Beatrice Christofaro 20m

In this Jan. 1, 2019, file photo, Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro looks on as he presents his cabinet at the Planalto Presidential palace, in Brasilia, Brazil. (Eraldo Peres/AP)

. . .

Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro tweeted on Sunday a video falsely accusing a journalist of conspiring to impeach him — the latest in a string of conspiratorial, explicit, or otherwise unnerving posts, which seem to follow the example established by US President Donald Trump.

Bolsonaro was inaugurated in January, and has repeatedly pushed the boundaries of convention with the unconfirmed — and often demonstrably untrue — information he shares on official social media accounts.

. . .

The Brazilian Bar Association and the Association for Investigative Journalists criticized Bolsonaro for "using his position of power to intimidate media outlets and journalists."

. . .

But one of their greatest similarities is how they use social media to speak directly to their supporters - and avoid being questioned by the mainstream media.


Hungry Otters Are Creating a Unique Archaeological Record

Hungry Otters Are Creating a Unique Archaeological Record
By bashing mussel shells onto stones, otters leave behind traces of their activity

By Brigit Katz
March 15, 2019 4:23PM

Otters are cute as a button, and clever too; they’re the only marine mammals known to habitually use stone tools. And as is the case with humans of millennia past, otters’ stone tool usage creates a unique archaeological record, a new study has found.

As Discovery’s Lacy Schley reports, otters are resourceful hunters that rely on a variety of methods to access hard-shelled prey like mussels and clams: they might pry the sea creatures open with their teeth, whack them against their chest or a rock placed on their chest, or bang them against a stationary rock. The rocks function like anvils, the international team of researchers behind the study explain in Scientific Reports, and the otters’ rock-smashing behavior is considered tool use because it “involve[s] the controlled use of a detached object.”

For their investigation, the researchers spent ten years observing otters as they chowed down on mussels at the Bennett Slough Culverts, a tidal estuary in California. The team found that the animals used “stationary anvil stones” for around 20 percent of the mussels they ate, and repeatedly returned to the same rocks to crack their snacks open. This in turn left distinctive wear patterns on the rocks’ points and ridges, where the otters tended to strike. The patterns clearly indicated that the stones were being hit from within the water.

The researchers also studied piles of shell fragments, or “middens,” that formed around the rocks. These too had distinct damage marks: the two sides of the shells were typically attached, with a diagonal fracture running down the right side. It is possible, the study authors say, that these patterns stem from otters being predominantly right-pawed. “Right before they hit the rock, they slightly twist the shell so that their right hand is the one that's really smashing it on the rock,” wildlife biologist and study co-author Tim Tinker tells the CBC’s Emily Chung.

Read more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/hungry-otters-are-creating-unique-archaeological-record-180971719/#HVpqWIKG6Sj3CFTX.99

Death Mask of Pakal the Great

Death Mask of Pakal the Great
The striking jade death mask of an ancient Mayan king is displayed in a replica tomb in Mexico City.

When it was discovered in 1952 during an excavation of the Temple of Inscriptions in the ruined Mayan city of Palenque (modern-day Mexico), this intricate jade death mask had been lying in a darkened tomb chamber for over a thousand years, covering a skull. Inscriptions on the walls indicated that the skull belonged to none other than the Mayan king K’inich Janaab’ Pakal, known today as Pakal the Great.

For much of his long 68-year reign during the 7th century, the Mayan king Pakal (meaning “Sun Shield”) was the most powerful person in the entire Americas. But despite the lofty status he held in the twilight of his life, he began his rule as an unlikely and underestimated leader.

Pakal ascended the throne at only 12 years old in a city devastated by war with the rival Mayan state of Kaan. The warring period with the kingdom Kaan had twice led to catastrophic sieges of Palenque, the massacre of its citizens, and the killing of its former ruler. The young king inherited a kingdom in a state of anarchy, profoundly scarred by war and its recent humiliating military defeat. Most of its stately buildings had been reduced to rubble and a large part of its population lay dead, butchered by the arrows, spears, and obsidian-bladed maces of the ferocious warriors of Kaan. The once-abundant crops of maize had been burned to the ground and the threat of famine loomed.

Given such adverse circumstances and grave responsibilities at such a young age, it is a wonder that the boy king did not have a nervous breakdown. Instead, all of this proved formative for the character of Pakal. His mother, Lady Sak K’uk, served as regent for three years while the young king matured and learned the ropes of Mayan leadership. And though he was faced with critics from the outset, the young Pakal proved himself a worthy ruler.

Word of this ambitious young ruler and his city rising from the ashes began to spread across the Mayan world, and once again the kingdom of Kaan sought to destroy it, sending out an enormous army to crush Palenque into the ground forever. But when spies got word of the enemy’s plans and reported them to the king, Pakal raised an army and attacked the Kaan kingdom outposts. The battle was fierce but the army of Palenque was victorious and returned home with several captured enemy lords. Pakal ordered these captives to be sacrificed to the god K’awill—a diety of serpents, lightning, and maize—as a public display of his power and a warning to his enemies.


Holy fudge: soft foods helped humans form 'f' and 'v' sounds - study

Holy fudge: soft foods helped humans form 'f' and 'v' sounds – study
Diet of porridge and gruel shaped human faces, which diversified English language

Ian Sample Science editor
Thu 14 Mar 2019 14.00 EDT Last modified on Thu 14 Mar 2019 14.05 EDT

The texts of the 16th century were first to record the F-word for posterity. It appeared in William Dunbar’s poem A Brash of Wowing in 1503 and later, thanks to an angry monk, in a note scrawled in the margin of a 1528 copy of De Officiis, Cicero’s moral manifesto.

But according to researchers, the English language might never have enjoyed a richness of F-words had it not been for early farmers and the food processing they favoured. Dairy products and other soft foods, such as gruel, porridge, soup and stews, helped shape our faces, the researchers claim, and allowed us to form the sounds “f” and “v”, known as labiodental fricatives.

The international team reached their conclusion while testing a theory put forward by the late American linguist Charles Hockett. In 1985, Hockett proposed that the overwhelming absence of sounds such as “f” and “v” in languages spoken by hunter-gatherers was partly down to their diet.

He argued that chewing tough foods subjected the mouth to strong forces that wore down the teeth and caused the lower jaw to grow larger, eventually leading the lower teeth to align with those in the upper jaw. Without the usual overbite, it is hard to press the bottom lip against the upper teeth, making “f” and “v” sounds unviable.


El Norte review: an epic and timely history of Hispanic North America

Carrie Gibson has written an exhaustive corrective to historians who seek to whitewash a story of settlement and conflict

Charles Kaiser
Sat 16 Mar 2019 01.00 EDT

. . .

These 437 pages are an important correction to centuries of American history which have mostly neglected the vital role of Spanish pioneers (and Native Americans) in favor of settlers from England, Ireland and Scotland. As the author quotes Walt Whitman, Americans long ago tacitly abandoned themselves “to the notion that our United States have been fashioned from the British Islands … which is a great mistake …

. . .

This book proves Whitman’s prescience in a hundred ways: the history of Hispanics in the US is indeed “not a separate history of outsiders or interlopers, but one that is central to how the United States has developed”.

The first surprise is the role of Spain in the revolutionary war. In Paris in December 1776, Benjamin Franklin met in secret with the Count of Aranda, quickly convincing him Spain needed to side with the Americans. Ships leaving New England already called at Spanish ports such as Bilbao and Cádiz to purchase cod and flour. Soon their holds were also bulging with millions of reales’ worth of bullets, gunpowder, bombs, rifles and tents. Three years later, the Spanish governor in New Orleans, Bernardo de Gálvez, sent 1,300 men to attack British outposts in west Florida.

Of course, Gibson’s narrative begins much earlier, when the Spanish began their forays into the New World. The author reminds us that the indigenous urban culture of what is now Mexico was much more advanced than anything the conquistadors left behind in Europe.


We'll Do our Best Show in Cuba, Says Blondie's Vocalist

We'll Do our Best Show in Cuba, Says Blondie's Vocalist
Saturday, March 16, 2019

Havana, March 16 (Prensa Latina) We will do our best show and give Cubans a warm greeting, said Deborah Harry, vocalist of the band Blondie, which will offer this Friday a concert at the Mella Theater in Havana.

The recital will be the first of two the group has scheduled in Cuba this weekend, where he will share the stage with local singer-songwriter David Torrens and Afro-Cuban rock group Sintesis.

In declarations to Granma newspaper the renowned singer said that there is the possibility of merging and recording something with the artists, 'I love having Cuban musicians on the show, although we do not have much time to be together', she said.

She also said it would be wonderful to have guest percussionists, 'maybe we can do something really interesting and fun, that's one of the things we're looking for, close experiences with Cuban artists, I think it would be beneficial for everyone.


Netherlands, U.S. agree on use of Curacao as possible aid hub for Venezuela

MARCH 15, 2019 / 3:57 PM / UPDATED 8 HOURS AGO

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Netherlands and the United States reached an agreement on Friday to use facilities on the Dutch Caribbean island of Curacao for possible distribution of aid to nearby Venezuela, Curacao’s prime minister said.

The island will only be used for civilian operations to deliver aid, such as food and medicines, to Venezuela if the Venezuelan government explicitly allows it, the Dutch Foreign Ministry said last month.

Curacao Prime Minister Eugene Ruggenaath said on Twitter the United States and the Netherlands signed an agreement detailing the access and use of facilities in Curacao as a humanitarian hub for aid to Venezuela.



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