America Has The Right Type Of Mosquito For The Zika Virus – Yale Epidemiologist

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The Zika virus, which has caused a surge in infant birth defects in Latin America and the Caribbean in recent years, and which has now spread to the U.S., is carried by a type of mosquito common in the Southern states, according to Dr. Albert Icksang Ko, an epidemiologist at Yale.

“The mosquito vector for Zika is genus Aedes mosquitos, of which Aedes aegypti as well as Aedes albopictus is found to infest regions of North America, such as Mexico and southern U.S,” Ko, Professor of Epidemiology and Medicine at Yale, told The Speaker.

Ko, whose work focuses on the health problems which have emerged as a consequence of rapid urbanization and social inequity, commented on the possible future of the virus:

“This is a potentially serious public health threat since it can be transmitted rapidly to regions where the mosquito vector is in sufficient abundance and because of the risk it poses to causing birth defects in newborns whose mothers were infected during pregnancy.”

zika virus
Dr. Albert Icksang Ko

The as-yet untreatable virus has been found in a half-dozen cases in the U.S. over the past two weeks. In all cases the mother had recently travelled to a Latin American or Caribbean country.

A U.S. travel warning is currently in effect advising pregnant women to avoid travel from 22 countries in which the Zika virus is common.

Ko told us that human biological responses to the virus — such as immunity in already-affected areas — are not yet understood.  “We presume that after an immunocompetent individual is infected with zika virus they will develop lifelong immunity shortly after infection as with other flavirus infectionsm but we don’t have direct evidence at this point.”

The Zika virus has been known since 1947 when it was identified in Uganda. The virus was initially found in a rhesus monkey during yellow fever research. Seven years later, in 1954, the virus was discovered in a human in Nigeria. Cases were rare until 2007 when larger outbreaks began in several Pacific Island nations.

CDC map of affected areas

Venus Flytraps: Scientists Discover How They Work

Venus Flytraps
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An accumulation of action potentials is behind Venus Flytraps’ “decision” to keep closed and start producing digestive enzymes once their trap sensors are triggered, scientists at Universität Würzburg have found.

“The carnivorous plant Dionaea muscipula, also known as Venus flytrap, can count how often it has been touched by an insect visiting its capture organ in order to trap and consume the animal prey,” said Rainer Hedrich of Universität Würzburg in Germany.

The researchers wanted to understand how Venus Fly traps decide to close and how they decide they have something to digest. After all, the researchers noted, closing their traps around an object and filling with digestive enzymes is biologically costly, and sometimes their sensors are triggered by stimuli that are not prey at all — “false alarms.”

The researchers sought to test this by implanting artificial sensors in a Venus Flytrap. The sensors are thin spikes that stick out of the inside of the plant’s interior walls. They then flicked the sensors to cause the plant to close. When the scientists continually flicked the sensors, the plant became excited and began to produce the acidic digestive bath that fills their closed lobes.

By means of accumulated action potentials, the plant understands that what it has caught is in fact a struggling insect. It also understands the size of the insect by the number of the sensors it triggers.

Fruit fly

“The number of action potentials informs [the plant] about the size and nutrient content of the struggling prey,” Hedrich said. “This allows the Venus flytrap to balance the cost and benefit of hunting.”

To eat, the scientists concluded, a Venus Flytrap requires at least five contacts with its sensors. The second trigger closes the plant, the third and further triggers activate touch hormones and begin the production of digestive enzymes, and the fifth begins the uptake of nutrients.

The report, “The Venus Flytrap Dionaea muscipula Counts Prey-Induced Action Potentials to Induce Sodium Uptake,” was completed by Böhm and Scherzer et al, and was published in the journal Current Biology.

By Andy Stern

Agricultural Researchers Propose Agri-CERN, Europe-Wide Community Of Shared Research And Equipment

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ECOFE (European Consortium for Open Field Experimentation), a network of agricultural resources at various locations around Europe, has been proposed by a group of scientists in order to do for agricultural science what CERN has done for nuclear research.

The organization would be a community of research stations across Europe — from an outpost in Sicily to a field in Scotland. Among the benefits looked forward to by the researchers behind the project are the ability to study a wide range of soil properties, atmospheric conditions, and temperatures, and, prospectively, the ability to finance more expensive equipment, which would be shared.

For example, open-field installations that allow researchers to study the effects of artificially elevated levels of carbon dioxide, would be a shared cost and a shared tool.

“Present field research facilities are aimed at making regional agriculture prosperous,” said co-author Hartmut Stützel of Leibniz Universität Hannover in Germany. “To us, it is obvious that the ‘challenges’ of the 21st century–productivity increase, climate change, and environmental sustainability–will require more advanced research infrastructures covering a wider range of environments.”

The benefits of community research are also associated with potential downsides: researchers would have to sacrifice some of their scientific autonomy in order to focus on targeted research goals.

“It will be a rather new paradigm for many traditional scientists,” said Stützel but I think the communities are ready to accept this challenge and understand that research in the 21st century requires these types of infrastructures. We must now try to make political decision makers aware that a speedy implementation of a network for open field experimentation is fundamental for future agricultural research.

The report is titled “The Future of Field Trials in Europe: Establishing a Network Beyond Boundaries.” It was completed by Drs. Stutzel, Nicolas Bruggermann, and Dirk Inze, and was published in the journal Cell.

By Andy Stern

Chimpanzees Require “Trust” Of Friends

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Chimpanzees played the trust game to find out the basis of individual preference for other chimps

Trust is the foundation of close relationships in the world of chimpanzees, according to anthropologists at Max Planck Institute.

“Humans largely trust only their friends with crucial resources or important secrets,” said Dr. Jan Engelmann of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany. “In our study, we investigated whether chimpanzees show a comparable pattern and extend trust selectively toward those individuals they are closely bonded with. Our findings suggest that they do indeed, and thus that current characteristics of human friendships have a long evolutionary history and extend to primate social bonds.”

Previous studies of chimpanzee friendships had shown that the animals were attracted to sociable partners for friendships, and that they extended their favors to those they preferred. The Max Plank researchers wanted to know if the basis for this preference was “trust.”

Research situation of chimps
Research situation of chimps

In order to find out, the researchers spent five months at Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Kenya. They set up an arena where the Sweetwaters chimps could play “the trust game” — a game in which two separated chimpanzees get to decide if their partner gets a delicious treat or a less savory one. The partner in turn has the opportunity to share some of their treat back with the one who pulled the rope that opened the door to the treat.

The best case scenario is considered to be that the chimp with the rope will provide the other with the tasty treat, and the other will share some with the first chimp.

Before the researchers put the chimps in the experimental setting, the researchers observed the chimpanzee group to decide for each chimp which other animal was their favorite and least favorite. These two would be paired up against the first chimp in the game.

Each chimp played 12 rounds of the game with each their favorite and least favorite group member.

The result was that chimps were ” significantly more likely to voluntarily place resources at the disposal of a partner, and thus to choose a risky but potentially high-payoff option, when they interacted with a friend as compared to a non-friend.”

The researchers interpreted this finding to mean that chimpanzees show much greater trust when it comes to friends than non-friends.

“Human friendships do not represent an anomaly in the animal kingdom,” Engelmann said. “Other animals, such as chimpanzees, form close and long-term emotional bonds with select individuals. These animal friendships show important parallels with close relationships in humans. One shared characteristic is the tendency to selectively trust friends in costly situations.”

The report, “Chimpanzees Trust Their Friends,” was completed by Drs. Jan Maxim Engelmann and Esther Herrmann and was published in the journal Current Biology. View the research paper at this link.

By Andy Stern

25% Of BC’s HIV-Positive Do Not Know They Are Infected

25% Of BC's HIV-Positive Do Not Know They Are Infected
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HARRISON HOT SPRINGS, British Columbia — The province’s public health authorities are calling for universal testing for HIV for all citizens. One-fourth of British Columbians carrying the life-threatening disease do not know they are infected, according to B.C.’s Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, who spoke on the need for testing Monday.

“They do not know that they are infected, and they do not even expect that they are infected,” said Dr. Julio Montaner, Director of the Centre for Excellence.

“It is critical that we find that 2,000 people who are affected.”

The public health officer called for universal testing, which means that every person in the province would be tested for HIV.

Montaner said it was necessary to find the thousands of British Columbians in order to offer them treatment, and more importantly, he said, prevent further HIV transmission.

The province should be motivated not just because of humanitarian issues, said Montaner. Treating and preventing diseases like HIV is also about saving money.

“This is exponentially a lifesaver and a money-saver in the world,” said Montaner, referring to the higher costs involved in treating already-affected disease sufferers once their condition worsens as well as the costs involved in treating the higher numbers of HIV-infected that will result from not finding those currently infected.

There is no real model for B.C. to follow in fighting HIV, Montaner said, because the province is already at the forefront of fighting HIV globally. It will have to pioneer the path.

“We don’t just recommend stuff. We recommend it and we implement it,” he said.

Montaner also asserted positively that HIV could be wiped out if proper measures were implemented.

“Yes we can,” said Montaner. “We have demonstrated that by treating patients, we can make them virtually non-infective.”

The health authority is aiming for 90-90-90 by 2020. The plan holds that if 90 percent of those infected with HIV know their status and 90 percent receive treatment — full viral suppression with anti-viral therapy — we will see a 90 percent reduction in AIDS and AIDS deaths.

Evidence Of Chinese Torture Presented To UN

Chinese Torture
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“They would pour boiling hot water on us” — Free Tibet submits torture evidence as China reviewed at UN Director meets Committee Against Torture

Campaign group Free Tibet and its research partner Tibet Watch provided oral evidence to the United Nations’ Committee Against Torture Monday, following up their written submission detailing the continued use of torture across Tibet. The groups’ report “Torture in Tibet” contains graphic testimonies from torture survivors, records deaths in custody as a result of torture and details how Tibetan prisoners continue to face degradation, abuse and mental and physical torture.

The submission and presentation form part of the Committee Against Torture’s (CAT) review of China’s compliance with the International Convention Against Torture which the PRC ratified in 1988. China was last reviewed by the committee in 2008, when it found torture across China and Tibet to be “widespread” and “routine” and expressed “great concern” about reported torture and state violence in Tibet.

“Torture in Tibet” (co-authored with Tibetan political prisoner association Gu Chu Sum) records the testimony of Gonpo Thinley, jailed following the 2008 Uprising in Tibet:

“They tortured us using electric batons, metallic water pipes and handcuffs. If our answers didn’t satisfy the interrogator, they would pour boiling hot water on us. They also tied both hands up on the ceiling and beat us on our feet with batons. We were hanging above the ground. Sometimes they also used electric batons in our mouth, which caused us to lose consciousness. During cold days or winter, we were put in cold water.”

A monk who wished to remain anonymous reported:

“They made us stand up in the sun for hours, even for the whole day following every interrogation, because we didn’t say anything. One of my friends was tied to the flagpole in the centre of the government campus for two days and two nights without food and water. They shoved me down over pieces of broken glass spread on the ground and beat me a lot with batons after I’d refused to confess. They said we were like animals because we said nothing in between beatings.”

In February, the three Tibet organisations submitted an initial joint report to CAT, providing case studies of tortured prisoners and those at risk of torture and detailing breaches of the Convention’s requirements. The committee subsequently raised these issues and cases with China as part of the preliminaries to the review. China’s delegation will be questioned by the committee on Tuesday and CAT’s final report will be issued early in 2016.

Free Tibet and Tibet Watch director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren said:

“In their responses so far, China would have us believe that there is no torture in Tibet and our evidence is false. Today we will be urging the Committee Against Torture to press for answers on the questions China would rather avoid. If the Committee’s past performance is anything to go by then tomorrow we’ll see China squirm under international scrutiny and be asked to account for the Tibetans who have been convicted on the basis of confessions extracted by supposedly illegal torture and those who have left Chinese prisons either dead or permanently injured by years of torture and abuse.”

By Alistair Currie

Processed Meat Is Carcinogenic – World Health Organization

processed meat
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Salami, sausage, ham and bacon — the latest study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has found a strong link between processed meat and bowel cancer, as well as evidence for probability of such a link also between red meat and bowel cancer.

IARC, which is the World Health Organisation’s cancer research body, classifies compounds’ carcinogenic properties on a scale of decreasing certainty. In group 1 are agents that are definitely carcinogenic to humans; in 2A those that are probably carcinogenic to humans; 2B includes those that are possibly carcinogenic to humans; 3, includes not classifiable agents; and in group 4, those that are probably not carcinogenic to humans.

Processed meat “refers to meat that has been transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking, or other processes to enhance flavour or improve preservation”, includes things like salami, sausage, ham and bacon, and has been ranked in group 1 by IARC, in the same category as tobacco and alcohol.

According to the study, for every 50 grams of processed meat consumed daily, the risk of colorectal cancer increases by 18 per cent.

In their press release Dr Kurt Straif, Head of the IARC Monographs Programme, said: “For an individual, the risk of developing colorectal cancer because of their consumption of processed meat remains small, but this risk increases with the amount of meat consumed. In view of the large number of people who consume processed meat, the global impact on cancer incidence is of public health importance.”

Although the study scores red meat better than processed meat, its 2A classification means it is now on par with glyphosate, a herbicide contained in products such as Monsanto’s Round-Up, the probably carcinogenic properties of which made headlines earlier in the year. However according to IARC, eating red meat is not just linked to bowel but to pancreatic and prostate cancer too.

Meat industry groups and the research institutes they fund reject that eating meat is on par with smoking or other lifestyle causes to cancer, such as alcohol consumption, obesity and lack of exercise. Nutritionists also argue that the benefits of eating red meat regularly, in combination with plenty of fruit, fibre and exercise, counteract the risk to colorectal cancer.

Yet the debate on the health effects of processed and red meat is nothing new, and neither are the recommendations by health practitioners to limit the amounts consumed to reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease – although the IARC study falls short of setting a safe recommended amount for red meat.

Environmentalists  have too been highlighting for sometime how an increasingly intensive meat industry – responsible for much deforestation, carbon emissions, reliant on fossil fuels and addicted to antibiotics,  is not a sustainable source of food for people and planet.

Even if one doesn’t accept the latest findings by IARC, it seems there are many reasons to limit our processed and red meat intake. Whether a healthy heart or a healthy planet is your thing, good old moderation may well just do the trick.

By Annalisa Dorigo

5 Artworks Not To Miss At Centre Pompidou’s Latest Exhibition Of Mona Hatoum

Mona Hatoum Twelve Windows
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Born in Beirut in 1952, Mona Hatoum is of Palestinian descent and British nationality. This latest exhibition of an unprecedented scale has gathered over 100 works of this leading contemporary artist in various media, ranging from performance, video, photography, works on paper to installation and sculpture. Some of the must-sees are highlighted for you here to spend more time experiencing and understanding them.

Mona Hatoum Grater Divide
“Grater Divide”
  1. Grater Divide, 2002

Hatoum’s artistic practice often features modifying or scaling up familiar objects from daily life into threatening or hostile sculptures up to human proportions. This cold and solid room divider was based on a foldout cheese grater and now aggressively blocking the view of visitor across the exhibition room. If standing close enough, one may even have the feeling of going to be peeled.

Mona Hatoum Light Sentence
Mona Hatoum Light Sentence
  1. Light Sentence, 1992

This installation made up of piling square wire mesh lockers gives an illustration of animal cages. It also reminds of stacked and uniform architecture not unfamiliar to large cities. Thanks to up and down movements of the simple household lightbulb hanging in the centre, the walls of the dedicated exhibition room was showered with enchanting shadow patterns while the moving shadows give visitors swaying feelings as though they are on a boat sailing in the sea.

Mona Hatoum Map Clear

  1. Map (clear), 2014

Definitely no one would have missed this large world map consist of numerous glass marbles lying on the floor in front of the view of Paris city. All the marbles of this amazing piece are not fixed to the floor, infusing a sense of instability and vulnerability as movements of viewers may possibly shift parts of it or even destroy it. It also creates an unwelcoming surface to pass or walk on. Map is also a recurrent theme of Hatoum’s works, quite some other works with this theme can be found in the exhibition too.

Mona Hatoum Twelve Windows

  1. Twelve Windows, 2012

This beautiful installation of twelve pieces of Palestinian embroidery hanging in a room by steel cables may not be the most attention-seeking. However, its subtle beauty originates from the artist’s determination to preserve the traditional skill of Palestinian needlework which is endangered by exile and dispersion of Palestinians all over the region. Each ‘window’ symbolises a key region of Palestine.

Mona Hatoum Natura Morta (Medical Cabinet)

  1. Natura Morta (Medical Cabinet), 2012

Those seemingly appealing objects exhibited in a medical cabinet are actually in the forms of hand grenades in colourful glass. They are presented as precious objects to be aesthetically appreciated by viewers. However, they are marked with malevolent undertone at the same time. Thinking of the series of Medicine Cabinets by Damien Hirst, this is slightly more visually alluring and underscored by stronger tensions.

There are absolutely much more to see and experience at this exhibition. The wide range of works actually enables us to understand the significance of the artist’s works in today’s art world and to appreciate the diversity and versatility of Mona Hatoum’s artistic practice.

By Rickovia Leung

On How North Korean Defectors Resettle In South Korea

Seoul, South Korea
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Following the lead of Germany, more and more European countries are accepting asylum seekers who are mostly from war-torn Syria. The countries, including the United Kingdom and France, are to set out plans to resettle refugees.

In 1990s, South Korea faced similar issues regarding refugees, as the number of North Korean residents who defected to the South drastically increased due to famine and the economic crisis in the North.

Currently, there are about 280,133 North Korean defectors living in the South, according to the statistics of the Ministry of Unification, issued in June 2015.

When North Korean residents arrive in South Korea, first they have to go through investigations and interviews, conducted by the South Korean Intelligence Service, in order to clarify their identity. They stay at the Defector Protection Centre during that period. It usually takes a minimum of four weeks, but it can be extended if a defector confesses false truths. After the investigation processes are completed, they are finally able to reside in the South.

The South Korean government has been helping North Korean defectors to settle in the South under the “Protection and Resettlement Aid Act for Defecting North Korean Residents,” introduced in 1997.

Resettlement Funds

The government arranges a rental apartment for every North Korean defector. The rental deposit fee of an apartment is up to 13 million Won (US$11,000). Although the government pays a significant amount of the fee for them, they need to bear their monthly rental fees and utility bills.

They also receive 7 million Won (about US$5,900) as the initial resettlement fund, apart from housing expenses. However, defectors do not receive this fund at once, just in case that they lose it in a short time before settling down. Therefore, firstly 4 million Won is provided to those who finish the 12-week education program at Hanawon and then they later receive the remaining 3 million Won, at a rate of 1 million Won every three months.

However, the 7 million resettlement fund is only offered to defectors who come to South Korea without any family members. If he or she brings a family member to the South, less than 7 million Won is paid to each person. Also, a bigger apartment is prepared for them.

Moreover, they can obtain up to 25.1 million Won (about US$ 21,100) from the encouragement fund. In the past, it was also included in the resettlement fund, but from 2005 defectors who are looking for a full-time job through a professional job training school have also been eligible. People over sixty and with impairments are also able to get extra fund to the tune of a maximum 15.4 million Won (US$13,000) for treatment.


Hanawon (the Settlement Support Center for North Korean refugees) is a facility where defectors  are educated about life in the South. It was established in 1997, and has a 392-hour course that spans 12 weeks.

“Hanawon is the first place where North Korean defectors start their life in South Korea. Through education, we help them to be part of South Korean society not only physically, but also mentally,” Kim Joong-Tae, former head of Hanawon, told Daily NK.

In general, the course consists of social adjustment and occupational education, but it is customized by each age group. For example, teenage defectors focus on a local school curriculum, as they will be sent to a South Korean school three months later, while adults spend more time on studying an employment system. Also, there are programs and counselors to take care of the newcomers physical and mental health.

Despite Hanawon’s education offerings, many young North Korean defectors still have difficulties in adjusting to a competitive local South Korean school system. Therefore Hankyoreh High School, a specialised school for teenage defectors, was founded in 2006. It assists young defectors to catch up on the regular school curriculum and to understand democratic society, South Korean culture, and the local language which includes many English words, compared to the Korean used in the North. If they want, they can transfer to a regular high school later on.

In 2008, the Ministry of Education organized an academic deliberation committee for North Korean defectors who finished their high school in the North, in order to evaluate their secondary academic ability. If they pass the examination, they are able to enter a South Korean university. National and public universities offer free tuition to defectors under age 35 if they enroll in a university within five years after their high school diploma is recognized.  There is no age limit to study at colleges and online universities without fees.


Most North Korean defectors say that the biggest challenge after they arrive is to find a job in South Korea, as they have a lack of occupational skills and understanding of capitalism. To resolve these problems, the Ministry of Unification and the Ministry of Employment and Labor introduced a basic job adaptation training program at Hanawon in 2006. Defectors are able to have practical training as well as field experience at a company through the program. Furthermore, the South Korean government pays half of the wages that each North Korea defector worker receive.

Although the South Korean government continues to improve policies and laws to improve the lives of North Korean defectors, many are still left wandering.

North Korean prison escapee Dong-Hyuk Shin said that it is very difficult for North Korean defectors to fully adjust to the capitalist system.

Read more: North Korean camp survivor Dong-Hyuk Shin tells true feelings about his book and campaign

“In the North, we are just happy if we don’t starve. However, here we should compete consistently to achieve what we need and want. It is a totally different lifestyle between the two Koreas, so it is kind of understandable that some of North Korean defectors came back to the North again,” Shin said.

Moreover, discrimination against defectors is rampant, particularly in the workplace. According to research data from the Ministry of Unification and the Korea Hana Foundation, defectors’ average wage per week is 760,000 Won (US$638) lower than that of South Korean citizens, even though they work more hours. Also, their unemployment rate is four times higher.

For improvement of defectors’ human rights in the South, most of all it is important that South Korean citizens should accept them as members of their society, in order to prepare for the two Koreas’ unification. Also, North Korean defectors should acknowledge the different social systems of the two countries, and put more effort into following a new lifestyle.

Analysis by EJ Monica Kim

Business Better Than Ever At The Last Cassette Factory

Business Better than Ever at The Last Cassette Factory
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Springfield, Missouri is home to the National Audio Company — or as it is colloquially known, the Last Cassette Factory. It’s a fairly self-explanatory name. NAC is indeed the last major producer of audio cassette tapes still in business in the United States — a business that’s better than ever thanks to the retro movement encouraging a growing number of bands and audio producers, young and old, to return to the music-sharing media of decades past.

President of the NAC Steve Stepp has said in numerous interviews that his company was surprisingly unhurt by the large scale move from cassettes to CDs, and from CDs to MP3s. According to production manager Susie Brown, bands today are increasingly driven back toward the “warm analogue sound” of cassettes and records.

Perhaps part of the reason for the NAC’s persistence is that during the heyday of cassettes, the company mainly produced tapes for spoken word performers and blanks for private use. This meant that when the CD wave hit, the company was largely untouched. Fast-forward to 2014 which saw company producing over 10 million tapes – and sales are up another 20 percent this year. Albums being printed on NAC tapes include a Metallica album and a special release of the theatrical soundtrack for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.

Business Better than Ever at The Last Cassette Factory
Cassette tapes being printed in the factory

Cassettes may be a more tangible and personal way of sharing music — if you ask some people, like music critic Rob Sheffield, cassettes are far more romantic than MP3’s. There’s certainly something to be said for being able to give a friend a painstakingly recorded mix tape in the form of an actual tape, rather than just uploading it to their iPod or posting it online. Cassettes are also more portable than fragile, easily scratched CDs – it’s easy to throw one in your backpack or on the seat of your car, and expensive carrying cases are rarely required.

Undoubtedly the resurgence of tapes relies at least in part on the nostalgia of an older generation who grew up with the tapes and now has the money and influence to start bringing them back to the mainstream, as well as hipsters picking up on the fad of retro music mediums like vinyl. At any rate, especially with new “cassette-only” labels now popping up, it might be time to head down to the thrift store to pick up a cassette player of your own.

By Dallas Jeffs

Prague Pride Festival 2015 In Pictures

Prague Pride Festival 2015 In Pictures
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The fifth annual Prague Pride Festival took place between the 10th and 16th this month, organized by the Association Prague Pride, which has been operating since 2010. The group’s main endeavor is connecting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community with the broader public, with an overall objective of promoting a more tolerant civil society.

“While the LGBT people are not being stoned to death in our country, we are still miles away from gay marriage. We enjoy relative freedom with lesser or greater degrees of bullying: at school, at work, by members of parliament, who have been for the past year ignoring the amendment to the bill on registered partnership,” was the message of Festival Executive Director Kateřina Saparová as the weekly event began.

Throughout the week you could visit the Pride Village, which was based on a local island Střelecký Ostrov, where the organizers regularly held various workshops, discussions and concerts. But not only there; such places were all over Prague. The various clubs, theaters and cultural spaces were involved also. The program was colorful and the was plenty to for festival-goers to choose from.

The festival came to an end at a brisk pace. The top of event was Saturday’s parade through the center of Prague and then the music festival at Letná. This year, Prague Pride was definitely the biggest parade. According the estimates the parade was attended by 35,000 people. The length of the parade was double that of last year’s.

At the head of the procession was Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová. And behind her followed decorated cars, each presenting a particular community and a particular interest in a particular group. But all under the same slogan: In our endless diversity, we all have a rainbow inside..

Photos and text by Michaela Škvrňáková

Indignation In Mexico Over Killing Of Photojournalist 

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PUEBLA, México — A Mexican news photographer was among five people found dead in the middle-class neighborhood of Narvarte, Mexico City, July 31.

Rubén Espinosa, former member of Proceso and collaborator with the news agencies Cuartoscuro and AVC News was among five victims discovered by police beaten and shot in the head; a month ago, Espinosa claimed in interviews that he felt threatened by the governor of Veracruz state, Javier Duarte.

Veracruz is one of the most dangerous Mexican states for journalists, with a total of 13 killed under Duarte’s watch. Espinosa is the seventh journalist killed in Mexico this year. In total, 41 journalists have been killed since 2010 according to the journalism advocacy group Article 19.

The indignation of the country resulted in an almost immediate response, as hundreds of journalists, photographers, and activists gathered in the principal cities in Mexico such as Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, Xalapa and Veracruz to demand Duarte resign. A major protest in Mexico City was held at the capital’s Angel of Independence monument, where many people holding signs and carrying masks with Espinosa’s face shouted for justice.

The 31-year-old photojournalist specialized in documenting social movements in Veracruz state. Many of his works were critical of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party with which Duarte and former president Enrique Peña Nieto are associated.

Nadia Vera, an activist killed alongside Espinosa, released a video days before the massacre. The clip, posted online, she said that if anything happened to her or her fellow activists, it would be the fault of Duarte and the state of Veracruz.

Following these events, the state of Veracruz and Duarte said little, and Mexicans in general do not expect much to come from the politician. The only statement to come from Duarte acknowledged that the murder happened in Mexico state and not in Veracruz, but said it was a matter for other branches of government to deal with.

More demonstrations and protests are scheduled for next week, and a photo exhibit will be on display in a gallery in Mexico City to commemorate the work of Espinosa.

This next series of pictures is from a demonstration held in Puebla city.

Text and Pictures by David A Córdova


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