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The Engineer, Documentary About the Man Unearthing the Dead in El Salvador's Gang Wars

Pandillas

Symbolic weapon handover from the gangs to Monsignor Colindres and Raúl Mijango. Photo on Flickr by user Departamento de Seguridad Pública OEA (CC BY-ND 2.0).

The documentary “The engineer” tells the story of the man that unearths the dead in El Salvador's gang wars. Israel Ticas has been trained as a civil engineer, and as forensic criminologist, every day brings with it the promise of new bodies, victims of a remorseless Salvadoran gang culture, dumped in disused wells or buried in the thicket of inaccessible woodland.

This has made him a target for the pandilleros, whose ugly deeds he unearths. “He's sticking his nose in where it doesn't belong”, comments one member of 18 Street. In spite of the risks, however, and not for want of a way out, Israel Tocas carries on. “When you think of the 20 mothers waiting for the bodies down there, that's when you get motivated”.

Palestinians are Friends with Journalists

Marcelino Torrecilla N. has started a series in Spanish called Stories from Gaza. The first installment by this United Arabe Emirates based Colombian was published on El Tiempo of Bogotá and tells a story of two Gulf News journalists in Abu Dhabi.

Taking pictures in the Gulf is challenging and even when trying to take pictures of women. But Palestinians are used to be photographed. The media are friends of the Palestinians and they know that. as Torrecilla translates:

In Gaza it is very different. With one of the highest concentrations of media in the world, the people of Gaza are used to being photographed. Not only this, but they welcome the eyes of the world. The Palestinians don't have an army to fight with. They have the rocks they throw at Israeli soldiers and they have their tears.

For more stories about the Gaza Strip in Spanish told by an eye witness, follow Marcelino Torrecilla's updates on Twitter.

This post was part of the elventh #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on July 14, 2014.

The Maya Nut, a Nature Giant

In the Guatemalan department of Petén, a group of local women market natural products prepared with Maya nut, well known as natural medicine. The president of the producer association, Benedicta Galicia Ramírez, notes they “pick up the seed and then dry it, toast and grind it to make fluor”, and that the Maya nut enhances children growth, with food values higher than maize, beans, cassava and plantain.

This species grows in many American countries, from Mexico to Peru, and is very appreciated for its medicinal and nutritious attributes:

Video: Here we introduce the project “Selva Viva”, by a group of women who produce food items from the Maya nut tree.

Here, the consumption of the Maya nut seed gets promoted.

Biofortified Bananas for Beta Carotene Deficiency

Félix Moronta Barrios is a Venezuelan biologist who spreads scientific culture among Spanih speaking community. He recently explained the researches and biotechnologic findongs about transgenic bananas in Uganda and the United States.

The banane cultivated in Uganda has no A vitamin. That's why its modification is necessary. Moronta Barrios warns the skeptical:

Antes de que piensen cosas como “natural es mejor”, “otra vez los científicos jugando a ser dios”, “lo modificado genéticamente es malo malísimo”, etc, etc, etc. sepan que la transgénesis también ocurre naturalmente, como expliqué aquí. Que el plátano, banana o cambur que consumimos hoy en día es un invento humano, tal como explica Ciencia de Sofá en “El oscuro pasado de los plátanos“. Y para que no termine ahí la sorpresa, les cuento que es un alimento radiactivo por su alto contenido en potasio; tanto, que camiones cargados de plátanos hacen saltar las alarmas en algunas aduanas. Incluso hay una unidad de medida al respecto, la dosis equivalente a un plátano.

Before you think of things such as “natural is best”, “again scientists playing God”, “genetically modified is not good”, etc, you better know that transgenesis goes on naturally, as explained here. The bananas we eat are human creation, as stated by Ciencia de Sofá on “The dark past of bananas“. And for more surprises, let me tell you this is a radiactive fruit, due to its high content of potasium. So much that banana trucks start the alarms in some customs control. There even is a measuring unit about that, the dose equivalent to a banana.

For updates about biology and biotechnology by an expert written in Spanish with a simple language, visit the blog by Felix Moronta or follow his tweets on morontafelix.

This post was part of the eleventh #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on July 14, 2014.

“Racism is Not an Issue in Latin America” — Seriously?

In an opinion piece for the New York Times titled “Latin America's Talent for Tolerance,” Enrique Krauze proposes the notion that Latin America is less prone to racism:

[...] European-style racism — which not only mistreats and discriminates but also persecutes and, in the very worst cases, tries to exterminate others because of their ethnicity — has been the exception and not the rule in modern Latin America.

Krauze's opinion piece prompted blogger Julio Ricardo Varela to question the validity of his position in an article written for Latino Rebels:

At the beginning of the piece, Krauze starts with FIFA’s “Say No To Racism” campaign,”a message” that “was particularly directed toward the soccer stadiums of Europe, where there have been many instances of racial taunting and physical aggression by hostile fans against African and other black players.” Just a few sentences later, Krauze is quick to let us know that such racism doesn’t occur in the Americas: “the stadiums of Latin America have for the most part been free of this phenomenon, despite the fervent nationalism and fanaticism of the fans.” I am guessing that neither Krauze nor his Times editor did some actual fact-checking because in just five minutes, I was able to locate several examples of racism in Latin American stadiums.

After pointing out that so-called “European-style racism is what formed Latin America in the first place,” Varela concludes with these words:

When we as Latin Americans admit the truth and confront it head on, only then can real change occur. In the meantime, the literal whitewashing of Latin American history needs to be monitored and when it appears in mass media, we must all do our best to quickly call out this ignorant attitude. The only way to transform society is to ensure that we don’t allow certain opinions to become the standard. We can do better, and we will. One tweet at a time.

“Muito Obrigado, Brazil”

Colombian student Juan Pablo Ramírez blogs his opinions, mainly about football and politics. He shared his farewell to 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil, and called it “the best 21st century World Cup”, because of the many records broken and the many surprises this tournament brought. Like Colombia qualifying to quarter finals for the first time ever, Germany hammering Brazil on semifinals (the semifinal with the most goals ever) and mucha more.

En fin, el que terminó ayer fue un gran Campeonato del Mundo, lleno de emociones y sorpresas, el cual deja muy alto el listón para Rusia 2018 que es lo que viene, y para el que lo único que queda por decir es muito obrigado, Brasil.

Anyway, the World Cup that ended yesterday was a great World Cup, full of excitement and surprises, that sets the bar high for Russia 2018, which comes next, and the only thing that's left for us to say is muito obrigado, Brazil.

The author also writes about Lionel Messi being awarded with the FIFA Ballon d'Or that he, as many other people, considered unfair, comparing it to James Rodríguez as the highest scorer.

Follow Juan Pablo on his blog and on Twitter.

This post was part of the eleventh #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on July 14, 2014.

App Created by Global Voices Contributor Selected to be Developed Online

Lawyer, blogger, digital activist, dreamer and Global Voices Paraguayan Global Voices contributor Gabriela Galilea, was selected by Techpeaks program from European organization Trento Rise, a startup promoter, to develope her online game platform Mr. Patch:

[un] videojuego para tabletas, smartphones, televisores inteligentes y web (PC), que ejercita los músculos de los ojos encargados de realizar los movimientos. El objetivo es ayudar a las personas que tienen deficiencias en la visión.

(a) videogame for tablets, smartphones, smart TV and web (PC), that exercises the eye muscles in charge of the movements. The gola is to help people with impaired eyesight.

Gabriela has been receiving support on Twitter:

Did you know a Paraguayan lady has created a videogame that helps people with eyesight problems?

Gabriela Galilea represents Paraguay in Italy with her videogame for ophtalmology health.

The Demo Day will be held on July 18 in Trento, Italy, where Gabriela will present her app.

FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014 Already Ancient History

james

Colombian James Rodríguez, highest scorer in World Cup Brazil 2014. Image by Calcio Streaming on flickr (CC BY 2.0).

Caligo, author of Spanish blog La ilógica (The ilogical) and Colombian fan, shares his final thoughts about 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil. The mentions the highest points of the tournament: the German champions, the flaws on the Argentinian team, the outstanding Colombian James Rodríguez, Brazil humiliation by the German crew, among others.

Menotti dijo “El fútbol representa la cultura de un país”, esta es la Alemania campeona: simple, eficiente, optimizadora, trabajo en equipo, proyecto a largo plazo, estrategia que se ejecuta y se mide.

[...]

Más de una amiga no colombiana escribió “Amo a James”. Cómo no quererlo si tiene todas las cualidades que enamoran: alegría, compromiso, generosidad, talento, ternura, responsabilidad y entrega. [...] Lo que siempre debe producir más que una sonrisa es pensar que le quedan ocho años de fútbol de primer nivel. (Goleador del Mundial con seis goles, en cinco partidos consecutivos, además de dos asistencias. Grande entre los grandes).

(Argentinian football coach César Luis) Menotti once said “Football represents the culture of a country”, this is the German champion: simple, efficient, optimizing, team working, a long term project, a strategy that gets executed and measured.

[...]

More than one non Colombian girl wrote “I love James”. How not to love him if he has all the qualitiues to fall for him: joy, commitment, generosity, talent, tenderness, responsibility and dedication. [...] What will always produce more than a smile is to think that we still have eight more years of first level football (highest World Cup scorer, in five games in a row, plus two assists. A great among the great ones).

Now we'll just have to wait four years for Russia 2018. For more football passon from the Colombian perspective, you can follow Caligo on his blog and on Twitter.

This post was part of the eleventh #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on July 14, 2014.

German Offensive Beated Argentinian Defense

On El mago del balón (The magician of the ball), Spanish journalist José Eduardo Carratalá analyzes the national teams that played the final match on 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014, Germany and Argentina, where the European crew won, and compares how the German presented a mainly offensive team againt the defense of the South American team, who were finalists because they didn't receive any goals:

Alemania ha marcado 18 goles en 7 partidos (2,57 por encuentro). Suya es la mayor goleada del torneo (7-1 a Brasil en semifinales). También goleó a Portugal (4-0) en su debut. Ha marcado al menos un gol en todos sus partidos. [...]
[Los argentinos] llegaron a la final gracias precisamente al buen hacer de su portero y su defensa. De hecho, el único gol que ha recibido Romero desde la primera fase fue el de Götze en la final. Hasta ese tanto, el meta argentino llevaba 486 minutos sin recibir un gol.

Germany scored 18 goals in 7 matches (2,57 per game). They own the widest margin of the tournament (7-1 with Brazil in semifinals). They also defeated Portugal (4-0) on their debut. They have at least one goal scored in each of their matches. [...]
(Argentinian) made it all the way to the final match due to the good performance by their goalkeeper and their defense. In fact, the only goal Romero got since the group phase was the one by Götze on the final match. Until that goal, the Argentinian goalkeeper hadn't received a goal in 486 minutes.

Among the many records broken on this World Cup there is Miroslav Klose as the highest scorer in World Cups (16 goals) and the crew trained by Joachin Löw becoming the first European country to win in South America.

Follow José Eduardo for more information about sports on his blog and on Twitter.

This post was part of the eleventh #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on July 14, 2014.

A Missed Opportunity for Bolivian “Quipus” Laptops?

Quipus

Image of a quipus. Image on Flickr by user Phil Dokas (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

The Bolivian government recently announced a new program where high school students attending their final year will have access to a new laptop. These computers, called “Quipus,” are being assembled in the city of El Alto. The term comes from a traditional Andean form of record keeping on a series of knots.

Blogger and software developer Fernando Balderrama applauds the initiative and sees the benefit of providing access to technology to more sectors of society. In his blog, he examines the comparative costs of the assembled computers to those that can be obtained in stores. However, he is puzzled why the new laptops will arrive with installed proprietary software. He writes:

Supuestamente el Gobierno promueve el uso de software libre, y buscan que Bolivia tenga soberanía tecnológica en base al software libre. Pero parece que esto es solamente en palabras, ya que los hechos dicen otra cosa. Las laptops quipus ensambladas en Bolivia vienen con Windows, el cual además de ser software privativo, encarece el costo final por el pago de licencias que deben hacer a Microsoft.

Supposedly the Government promotes the use of free software and seeks technological sovereignty through the use of free software. However, it appears that these are just words, because their actions send a different message. The quipus laptops assembled in Bolivia come with Windows, which in addition to being proprietary software, increases the final cost due to the payments to Windows to obtain the licenses.

However, in the comments section, Sergio Bowles, General Manager of Quipus, clarifies that the laptops will come with a dual boot option for Windows and Linux, but some others still have their doubts and dismiss the argument that students must also learn Windows because much of the business and academic world still relies on that operating system.

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