Latin Fire Fails To Ignite

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A mixed bag of images fails to hold your attention

Palacio de Cibeles in Madrid is home to a photographic series that promises to highlight images showing a different side to what we know — or what we think we know — about Latin America. The striking yellow poster that advertises the exhibition has a recently-anointed groom set in monochrome stone. He stares you down in some Latino, macho bravado that may be a tongue-in-cheek attempt by the exhibitors to challenge whatever preconceived ideas that may have coagulated in your ignorant, non-Latin mind before you even dare to enter. His bride, somehow more alive in the black and white photo, is veiled, beautiful, and indifferent.

Indifference is one of the emotions you may feel, and perplexed is another. The exhibition sets its stall out quite early and the promulgation on the walls that prime you for what you are going to see speak of a Latin America that we don’t know. Devotees of photos of cocaine and of hit squads, feel free to go elsewhere. Except, don’t. The first photos that greet of you are of ordinary people posing with guns. As a comment on the normalisation of violence it works, but it is directly at odds with the mission statement of the exhibition and a feeling that runs through the exhibition is that it all would have been more satisfying if the exhibition had been framed differently. The premise of not showing the guns and narcotics of Latin America is an odd one given that is the image we are presented with.

This lack of clarity jars and it undermines the power of the imagery contained within the exhibition. Personally, I have no aversion to photos of people in ordinary and prosaic situations but because there is no real context to connect with, I can only feel the cool indifference of the veiled and aloof bride from the poster. The photos are jumbled up and there is no connection between them, with pictures of a dead Che Guevara aside flamboyant movie stars. Prostitutes stare vacantly from grubby rooms but, not to sound trite, don’t we already know of the emptiness of that world? There is even staged photograph of a murder hit at a petrol station but when it comes to violence on the street, reality is already bloodier than fiction.

There are highlights. That picture of Che Guevara is not the one we know the best, of the bearded Messiah under a cocksure beret. It is the Christ-like death mask of a fallen soldier that offers no hope of resurrection in its stillness. There are pictures of women who have been imprisoned yet they are also mothers, and they will be separated from their newborn babies. A series of black and white photographs put me in my mind of Belfast. The best section of the exhibition, undoubtedly, was a serious of photos of the personal effects of prisoners framed by a claustrophobic circle that intrudes in on the image.

Overall, the exhibition succeeds in an unfulfilling way. I do see Latin America in a new light and a region of colour and life is seen now, at least with this series of photographs, with a boredom and detachment. A missed opportunity.

By Enda Kenneally

Possible new law of nature on the way

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The world of physics is excited about strong but early evidence about the behavior of muons, paricles identical to electrons only 200x more massive (heavier), which once born take 2.2 microseconds to decay into an electron, and which spin like tops. In a new, extremely precise measurement, they were made to wobble using magnetic fields but they unexpectedly wobbled quite significantly faster than the Standard Model suggests they would. They might spin so fast due to an unknown force caused by an unknown particle, and this is what is so exciting.

“We found that a muon … is not in agreement with our current best theory of physics at the subatomic level, and … it potentially points to a future with new laws, new particles and new forces in physics which we haven’t seen to date,” said Professor Mark Lancaster at U of Manchester.

“The main goal of the experiment is to make the measurement and compare with the theory, and if they disagree then it’s telling us that there’s something in nature which is not in the theory,” explained James Mott at Fermilab.

The four known forces of nature (gravity, electricity, two nuclear forces: strong and weak interactions) have left scientists without an answer for some observed phenomena, such as the speed at which galaxies spin (faster than the best model suggests). Therefore, they continue to search for glitches in their already-tight models which might point them things they don’t yet know about.

The most recent work was done at Fermilab (Muon g-2 experiment), but a similar experiment was already done earlier at the Large Hadron Collider. These tools accelerate particles in large rings at close to the speed of light.

The evidence needs more tests for greater certainty, particularly to rule out the possibility of a systematic error, and particularly with a new, independent experiment, but physicists will be chasing this line of experiment eagerly.

“This is outstanding confirmation of experimental technique, and very, very suggestive of the possibility of new physics,” noted scientist David Hertzon of U of Washington.

By the editors

#AnomalousMagneticDipoleMomentOfTheMuon #QuantumElectrodynamics

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People in Kachin state demonstrate against China

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YANGON, Myanmar – The people in the Pharkant area of Kachin state demonstrated against China this week, drawing a cross on the Chinese flag and burning a picture of Myanmar’s military leader Min Aung Hlaing.

“China stands with the military leader,” shouted the demonstrators.

By Htay Win
Photo credit Aye Yarwaddy

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Myanmar military council arrests the artist Zarganar

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YANGON, Myanmar – The artist Zarganar was arrested by the Myanmar military council from his home in Tarmwe township, Yangon this morning.

Zarganar is not only a director but also a comedian famous for political jokes since the 1988 democratic revolution.

Zarganar was arrested by the Myanmar military many times before 2010.

By Htay Win
Photo credit Zarganar page

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Kayin IDPs struggle to get for food

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YANGON, Myanmar – Kayin internally displaced people are desperate for food, clothing and shelter, hiding in the forest from the air strikes of the Myanmar military.

The IDPs fled to neighboring Thailand, but Thai government turned them back. However, Wednesday morning the Thai government opened Maeseli jetty in Maehaungsaung district to sending rations and medicines over the border to Kayin state, according to a Thai media.

By Htay Win

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Twenty Myanmar celebrities charged with incitement

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YANGON, Myanmar -They were charged under the country’s media law with inciting government employees to join the popular civil disobedience movement (CDM) through social media.

Celebrities took part in the NLD election campaigns and are thought to have played a large part in influencing the public, particularly Myanmar’s youth, to vote for Aung San Suu Kyi.

By Htay Win
Photo credit Myanmar celebrity

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