Saturday, April 30, 2011

Argentine writer Ernesto Sabato died

Days after Chilean poet Gonzalo Rojas died another great Latin American literary name passed away.

Argentine writer Ernesto Sabato died Saturday morning at the age of 99 in his Buenos Aires residence. The Cervantes Prize and Gabriella Mistral award died from complications related to bronchitis though he was in ill health during his latter years including being affected by partial blindness.

Sabato only wrote three novels to his name due to his habit of burning manuscripts but he gained worldwide fame in 1948 for his existentialist classic "El Túnel" ("The Tunnel"). His fictional portrayal of one man's downfall into paranoia was praised by the likes of Thomas Mann and Albert Camus. He would continue themes of darkness and surrealism in his subsequent novels "On Heroes and Tombs" (1961) and "The Angel of Darkness" (1974).

Sabato's protagonist in "The Tunnel" would foreshadow his own "slow descent into hell". In 1983 he was appointed to a commission that would investigate thousands of cases of torture, disappearances, and murder under the "Dirty War" regime. Over several months the National Commission on the Disappeared (CONADEP) compiled a whopping 50,000 pages of evidence on widespread human rights abuses committed by the state during the infamous 1976-83 military rule. His findings and recommendations on bringing former junta leaders to justice were detailed in the aptly-titled 1984 text "Nunca Mas" ("Never Again").

figures in the Spanish-speaking world expressed their condolences over Sabato's death such as a statement from Mexico's Culture and Arts National Committee. His death reprsents a "great loss for all Latin Americans," said Chilean government spokeswoman Ena von Baer. Buenos Aires Culture Minister Hernán Lombardi called Sabato a "just and valiant man." "He was a man deeply linked by values and principles," observed former Argentine Supreme Court associate judge Ricardo Gil Lavedra.

The scientist-turned-writer penned numerous essays during his lifetime on areas such as "metaphysics, politics and tango." In recent years his writing nearly ceased as his health worsened though he helped pass the time by painting.

Sabato passed away weeks before his 100th birthday and on the eve of an homage in his honor at Argentina's National Book Fair.

May he rest in piece.

Video Source - YouTube (Alleged trailer of "Ernesto Sabato, my father" includes clips of Sabato's paintings and his handing over the CONADEP report to then-president Raul Alfonsin in 1984).
Online Sources - New York Times, The Latin Americanist, El Espectador, BBC News, Reuters, Buenos Aires Herald, El Universal, La Tercera,,

Friday, April 29, 2011

Today’s Video: Was Glenn Beck in Argentina?

The answer was "no" though that didn't prevent teleSUR from erroneously claiming that the rightist U.S. commentator was speaking at a Buenos Aires rally ahead of May Day. (The correct speaker was Argentine labor union leader Hugo Moyano who urged President Cristina Fernandez to run for reelection).

Online Source - Buenos Aires Herald
Video Source - teleSUR via YouTube

World Watch: Nuptials

* Britain: An estimated global television audience of two billion people watched Friday’s British royal wedding between Prince William and his longtime girlfriend, Kate Middleton.

* China: Could the “one-child” policy be relaxed after census figures showed that the Chinese elderly population is growing?

* Morocco: Al-Qaeda may’ve been behind the bombing of a café in Marrakech that killed at least sixteen people.

* Syria: Approximately 62 people were killed in another day of unrest in numerous Syrian cites.

Image – AP via the Houston Chronicle (“Newlyweds Kate and Will leave Westminster Abbey after the ceremony.”)
Online Sources- Malaysia Star, Al Jazeera English, The Guardian, BBC News


Nobel Literature Prize laureate Mario Vargas Llosa of Peru considered that “young people” who abbreviate their words and violate grammar rules while chatting online or on Twitter and Facebook think “like monkeys”…

“If you write that way, you talk that way. If you talk that way, you think that way. And if you think that way, then you think like monkeys. And that worries me. It could be that people are happier this way. Perhaps monkeys are happier than human beings. I don’t know,” said the author (in an interview published in Uruguay’s “Búsqueda” magazine).
His comments were pounced upon by Peruvian conservative presidential hopeful Keiko Fujimori who tweeted that Twitter users are “geniuses.”

Though Vargas Llosa backed former military man Ollanta Humala in the runoff for the Peruvian presidency, he blasted Wikileaks for causing “an electoral catastrophe” that led to Humala’s first round victory. (He previously compared choosing between Fujimori and Humala to “choosing between cancer and AIDS.”)

Both presidential candidates have been feverishly seeking the support of moderate voters who shunned them due to their political baggage. Fujimori has tried to distance herself from the corruption and human rights abuses under the decade-long presidency of her father, while Humala has sought to portray himself as a moderate rather than a firebrand revolutionary.

With roughly five weeks until the definitive round of elections, a poll released today showed that both candidates are in a statistical dead heat.

Image- AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko via ABC News (“Peru's Nobel Literature Prize laureate Mario Vargas Llosa delivers a speech during a conference at the annual book fair in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Thursday, April 21, 2011.
Online Sources- Reuters, The Latin Americanist, Two Weeks Notice, Mercopress, EPA, El Universal

Mexico extradites Benjamín Arellano Félix (Updated)

After numerous delays one of Mexico’s most infamous drug gang leaders will finally be extradited to the U.S.

Benjamín Arellano Félix was handed over to U.S marshals in Toluca earlier today as part of the extradition process. The accused head of the drug cartel that bears his name was already serving a prison sentence in Mexico but he faces charges in the U.S. including money laundering, murder and drug trafficking.

According to Mexico's attorney general's office, Arellano Félix served as the “brains and accountant” for the criminal organization that was powerful enough to run its own network of spies and bribes. Along with his three brothers he allegedly ran the Tijuana cartel and it controlled the flow of cocaine, marijuana, and other narcotics into the U.S. during the group’s peak in the 1990s and the early part of this century.

The group’s stronghold on the illegal drug trade has greatly diminished to the point of having most of its territory “taken over” by the Sinaloa drug gang. Yet it was one of several cartels to be named in a U.S. congressional proposal that suggests labeling top Mexican gangs as “foreign terrorist organizations”.

Mexican authorities originally approved Arellano Félix’s extradition in 2007; five years after the Mexican army in Puebla arrested him. (This incident occurred less than a month after his brother Ramon was killed by a policeman).

Today’s extradition may be viewed as a positive sign of U.S.-Mexican cooperation in the battle against illegal drugs. Bilateral political relations have hit a recent rough patch due to controversial statements made by ex-U.S. ambassador Carlos Pascual as well as revelations of a former secret gun smuggling operation run by U.S. authorities. (Update: The extradition occurred on the same day that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged $500 million in additional funds under the Merida Initiative for Mexican antidrug efforts).

Meanwhile, the extradition may not have much of an impact on the bloody battles within Mexico:
More than 5,000 people have been reported missing in Mexico, and many are presumed to be victims of the drug war, according to According to Mexico's National Human Rights Commission.

Mexico says more than 34,200 people have been killed in violence and bloody wars between drug cartels since December 2006. Attorney General Arturo Chavez says criminal gangs and drug cartels killed more than 15,000 people in 2010, making it the deadliest year ever.
Image- SDP Noticias (Photo taken of Benjamín Arellano Félix after his arrest in 2002).
Online Sources- CBS News, Press TV, Milenio, Reuters, New York Times, ABC News

Chilean assassin gets assassinated

Author Elbert Hubbard allegedly once said “men are not punished for their sins, but by them.” That was certainly the case with assassinated assassin Enrique Arancibia Clavel.

Police in Buenos Aires found the corpse of Arancibia Clavel with at least fifteen stab wounds throughout his lifeless body. Argentine national news agency Telam cited “several sources” that claimed that his death was not recent in part because the blood around his wounds was dry.

At the time of his death, Arancibia Clavel ran a local taxi service but he was also a former Chilean secret agent punished of the murders of Carlos Prats and his wife. Prats, who served as the head of the Chilean army under President Salvador Allende, was killed in a 1974 car bombing while exiled in Argentina. His death came roughly thirteen months since Allende was depose in a coup by Gen. Augusto Pinochet.

In 2004, Arancibia Clavel was sentenced to twelve years in prison over the Prats incident though he had been on conditional release since 2007. The 66-year-old was also convicted that year of torturing a pair of Chilean refugees who fled the Pinochet dictatorship.

At the time of Arancibia Clavel’s conviction in 2000, Prats’ daughters failed in seeking the extradition of the now-deceased Pinochet to Argentina. Last month they filed a $15 million dollar lawsuit against the Chilean government as well as former Pinochet-era spy chief Manuel Contreras who was sentenced last year for his role in the Prats car bombing.

Prats’ family has publicly declined to comment on Arancibia Clavel death aside from stating that they were “impacted” by his murder. Though Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter noted that Arancibia Clavel committed a "shocking crime" he also said that he was "moved" by his death.

One Chilean victims’ rights leader, meanwhile, lamented that he died without serving time in a Chilean prison:
(Lorena Pizarro, president of the Families of the Disappeared group) said that what most impacted her was that Arancibia Clavel “died in impunity” and that “governments…have been negligent and permitted impunity, which is very serious.”
Image- EFE via Pagina 12 (Arancibia Clavel enjoyed conditional freedom despite his dual convictions.”)
Online Sources- Europa Press, El Tiempo, BBC News,, Terra Chile, La Tercera,

Daily Headlines: April 29, 2011

* South America: Ecuadorian police are investigating if several hundred military uniforms seized in a secret Quito factory were destined for the FARC rebels in Colombia.

* Argentina: President Cristina Fernandez proposed limiting foreign land ownership to approximately 2500 acres.

* El Salvador: Journalism right groups urged Salvadoran authorities to fully investigate the murder of a TV cameraman by “two unknown assailants.”

* Costa Rica: Ex-President Miguel Angel Rodriguez was sentenced to five years in prison for his involvement in a major bribery scandal.

Image – AFP via BBC News (“Fights between Farc rebels and (Colombian) security forces have become more frequent.”)
Online Sources- People’s Daily Online, BusinessWeek, LAHT, Reuters

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Nuestro Cine: Zapata on Zapata

"The Storm That Swept Mexico" is a two-hour documentary on the history of the Mexican Revolution including its impact on culture and global politics. The film will is directed by veteran producer Raymond Telles and is set to premiere on PBS on May 15.

This week a website was launched to promote the documentary and it includes information on the film as well as the Mexican Revolution. The site contains the trailer to the film as well as the following clip where the grandson of Emiliano Zapata explains his discomfort with the current Mexican government:

Watch the full episode. See more The Storm That Swept Mexico.

Online and Video Source - Official website for 'The Storm That Swept Mexico"

Daily Headlines: April 28, 2011

* Argentina: Alejandro Chaskielberg won the Sony world photographer of the year award for his snapshots depicting islanders living on the Parana River Delta.

* Bolivia: President Evo Morales announced a major find at the Aquio gas field that could boost Bolivia’s gas reserves by nearly one-third.

* Mexico: According to the State Department a record 111 U.S. citizens were killed in Mexico last year, which is triple that of 2007.

* Spain: Lionel Messi 2 – Real Madrid 0.

Image – “Alejandro Chaskielberg, courtesy of Sony World Photography Awards 2011” via The Guardian (“Alejandro Chaskielberg's The Hunter, one of a portfolio of images that won the Argentinian photographer an award at the Sony World Photography awards. “)
Online Sources- BBC News, CBC, Mercopress, Houston Chronicle

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Today’s Video: Remembering Bishop Gerardi

Yesterday Guatemalans commemorated the thirteenth anniversary of the senseless murder of Bishop Juan José Gerardi. Masses were held in honor of a religious figure whose tireless work for social justice and against human rights abuses endeared him to Guatemala's poor.

Unfortunately powerful enemies did not agree with Gerardi's crusade for over a decade after the country's bloody civil war. He was savagely beaten to death outside of his residence two days after issuing a report critical of human rights violations by the armed forces.

Two former military officers and a priest were convicted in 2001 of masterminding Gerardi's murder though the Guatemalan archdiocese issued a call this week for authorities to actively investigate his death. "The Catholic Church awaits for justice to be served against all those involved in the vile assassination," said the director of the archdiocese's human rights division.

Much like the murder of Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero in 1980, Geradi's death served as a reminder of the brutality of armed conflicts in Central America during the 1980s.

Journalist Maria Hinajosa recently interviewed author Fransisco Goldman whose book "The Art of Political Murder: Who Killed the Bishop" examined Gerardi's death. In the video below, Goldman described how he became aware of the "theater of terror" that was the Guatemalan civil war:

Online Sources - Terra Peru, EFE
Video Source - YouTube

Daily Headlines: April 27, 2011

* Ecuador: Several towns in central Ecuador were ordered to be evacuated due to the increased risk of eruption of the Tungurahua volcano.

* Mexico: Police rescued 51 migrants held hostage in Tamaulipas though unfortunately authorities confirmed that over 270 bodies were uncovered in recent days from a series of mass graves.

* Cuba: According to a poll conducted by a “travel agency network” 75% of respondents would travel or consider traveling to Cuba if U.S. restrictions on tourism were dropped.

* Brazil: President Dilma Rousseff expressed her “immense worry” that inflation could hurt Brazil’s economy.

Image – Reuters via BBC News
Online Sources- Monsters and Critics, BBC News, CNN, Sun-Sentinel, Bloomberg

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Martelly to Haiti expats: Help pay for rebuilding

Haitians living abroad weren’t permitted to vote in March’s presidential election but that didn’t stopped the country’s next president from trying to reach out to them this week.

During his visit to Miami yesterday, President-elect Michel Martelly urged Haitian expats to help him fulfill his campaign promise for free primary education. He proposed that Haitians sending remittances to their homeland donate $1 per every $100 wire transfer. (According to, remittances to Haiti totaled $1.8 billion, or one-quarter of the country’s GDP).

Furthermore, Martelly suggested that $0.05 cents of foreign phone calls to Haiti could go to an education fund. "The diaspora will be able to send 860,000 kids to school for free and change their lives," he said since he estimated that both ideas would raise $86 million for schoolchildren. (As a Miami New Times blogger observed, however, “Martelly was evasive when asked where his administration would find 30,000 teachers to fill the schools.”)

Martelly’s suggestions are part of a broader pledge to give expats a greater say in his government’s policy. In order to entice the diaspora he promised to attract private investment projects and proposed that the state could intervene in land disputes. Perhaps more importantly is that the Haitian constitution may be amended after Martelly takes office and one of the key changes could include dual citizenship.

Martelly’s call for Haitians abroad to help in the rebuilding of their homeland is not a new notion to expats. An October 2010 article on the Miami Herald’s website noted that numerous presidential candidates tried to appeal to Haitians living in North America. Why? To paraphrase a colloquialism, “it’s all about the Gourdes.”
With a tight calendar of private fundraisers, courtesy calls, media interviews and airport news conferences, the candidates are scrambling to raise money among wealthy members of the diaspora and powerful allies in these cash-strapped times…

(On one October) evening about 100 supporters and a handful of journalists gathered to hear the musician-turned-candidate speak at a home in South Miami-Dade.

After a 30-minute speech at the edge of an illuminated swimming pool, Martelly posed for photos and held a brief news conference. The fundraiser netted almost $10,000.

``They [members of the diaspora] expect me to deliver,'' Martelly said. He added that he welcomes expats being more involved in Haiti and would support their right to vote.
Martelly’s visit to the U.S. comes as Haitian electoral authorities postponed legislative election results due to the possibility of electoral fraud.

Image- Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images via The Guardian (“Haiti's president-elect, Michel Martelly, speaks at the National Press Club in Washington” last week.)
Online Sources-, Miami New Times, Reuters AlertNet, Miami Herald, BBC News, Jamaica Observer

Brazil: Criticism grows against Olympics slum removals

Brazilian authorities have received plenty of criticism in preparing for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The latest critique has to do with the unfair treatment of residents of Rio’s most impoverished neighborhoods.

International human rights group Amnesty International (AI) expressed concern over evicting favela dwellers in order to accommodate several infrastructure projects for the 2016 games. AI Secretary General Salil Shetty expressed his strong doubts over officials providing fair compensation to slum residents obligated to relocate. "Everybody fully understands that some degree of movement might be inevitable when you're undergoing such a major project, but the issue is whether the fair process is being followed," Shetty said to the press.

Shetty is expected to address his concerns later this week in meetings with favela residents and government officials maybe including President Dilma Rousseff. In the meantime, U.N. Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing Raquel Rolnik accused authorities of possible violations against the “right to adequate housing” in slum communities. She echoed Shetty’s concerns over unfair compensation and added that “insufficient attention is being given to access to infrastructure, services and means of subsistence in relocation sites.”

So far there have been few evictions but plenty of poor people have been affected. Rolnick noted that for the expansion of Line 5 of the Sao Paulo metro “thousands of families have bee evicted…and another ten thousand face the same fate.”

Latin American soccer columnist Tim Vickery observed in his blog that the World Cup would likely have a hard affect on the “hard-pressed Brazilian tax payer”. While that may probably be the case, Brazil’s poor are carrying a greater burden while preparations continue for the upcoming sports mega-events:

Video Source – Al Jazeera English via YouTube
Online Sources- BBC Sport, El Espectador, Reuters, Democracy Now, U.N. News Center, BBC News

Daily Headlines: April 26, 2011

* Latin America: Israeli defense firms are seeking a larger piece of the Latin American arms market.

* Puerto Rico: Best wishes to Puerto Rican musician and songwriter Robi Draco Rosa who was diagnosed with cancer.

* Argentina: Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Buenos Aires and urged “freedom of assembly and greater press freedom.”

* Cuba: The U.S. Coast Guard repatriated thirteen Cubans who were initially found last week in vessels off the Floridian coast.

Image – Bruno Domingos/Reuters via CBC News (“A model of a Grippen fighter jet at an air show in Rio in April 2009. (In 2009) Brazil had the biggest military budget in the region.”)
Online Sources- UPI,, Miami Herald, Press TV

Monday, April 25, 2011

Wikileaks revelations target Gitmo and beyond

By now you've likely heard that Wikileaks uncovered hundreds of documents regarding the U.S. military prison on Guantanamo Bay. In case you need a reminder, Euronews provides a neat summary:

As to be expected, the Obama administration is none too pleased over the info from Wikileaks and disseminated through various international media sources. The repercussions of the document dump remain to be seen though it's probably safe to say that it won't be good for the White House.

Aside from info on Guantanamo, Wikileaks also revealed on Monday the belief by U.S. diplomats that a nephew of beleaguered Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is as assessor to Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega.

This month alone, diplomatic cables uncovered by Wikileaks made headlines in several Latin American countries:
  • Venezuela - The head of the opposition Democratic Action party rejected rumors alleging that he sought funds from the U.S. Embassy in Caracas.
  • Ecuador - U.S. diplomats claimed that the Venezuelan government was behind a campaign that helped "destabilize" Ecuadorian president Lucio Gutiérrez in 2005.
  • Panama - A former U.S. Ambassador claimed that authorities were doing very little to prevent drug and human trafficking to flow through Panama City's Tocumen International Airport.
  • Guatemala - In what may be the most odd cable uncovered by Wikileaks, ex-presidential candidate Otto Perez Molina said that there was a conspiracy organized by his political rivals to accuse him of murder.
Online Sources - Voice of America,,, Tal Cual, TVN Noticias, Prensa Libre
Video Source - Euronews via YouTube

Protesters interrupt Easter masses in Mexico, Chile

The Catholic Church in numerous Latin American countries has traditionally been involved in the political arena. (On the eve of the murder of Archbishop Juan Girardi, the Guatemalan archdiocese urged authorities to “bring justice” against all those responsible for his death). But what happens when political issues are literally brought into the Church?

A group of demonstrators interrupted Sunday’s Easter mass in Mexico City’s Metropolitan Cathedral. The mass was suspended for approximately ten minutes while seven protesters, including one woman using a megaphone, reportedly shouted “slogans against the Catholic Church hierarchy”. Normal service resumed but only after private security and some worshippers forced the demonstrators out of the house of worship.

Armando Martinez, the president of Mexico’s Catholic Lawyers College, blasted the protesters for their “grave sin in profaning the Eucharistic celebration”. (The Mexican Archdiocese would subsequently absolve the protesters of sin). Martinez also accused the demonstrators of being members of the “militant” wing of the left-leaning PRD political party though PRD leaders such as Mexico City mayor Marcelo Ebard “condemned” the “intolerant and disrespectful” manifestation.

The Mexico City protest comes as more attention is being paid to sensitive social issues such as birth control and gay rights. On occasions the debate becomes too intense such as the Easter protest or insensitive like an editorial in the Mexico City archdiocese newsletter that equated violent criminals with officials who “promote” abortion.

An incident similar to the one in Mexico City occurred hundreds of miles south in Santiago, Chile. Police arrested a pair of demonstrators who interrupted Easter mass in the capital city’s Metropolitan Cathedral. “Freedom for Mapuche political prisoners” shouted the two in support of four convicted Mapuche rights activists who are entering the sixth week of a hunger strike.

Santiago Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati, who presided over the interrupted mass and is serving as an intermediary between the prisoners and the movement, reacted in a conciliatory manner:

More than an interruption I interpret it as a voice raised to the Almighty, and that we should really live this Easter reaching out to those who suffer.
The protest in Santiago comes as several priests and other church officials are under investigation for sexual abuse. The most serious case is that of Fr. Fernando Karadima, a figure who trained five bishops and dozens of priests but was found to have abused at least three minors. The controversy has reached such a point that Ezzati sought forgiveness for the “confusing and shameful” abuses by “garbage” within the church.

Image- EFE (“Mapuches protesting at the Santiago cathedral in support of fasting prisoners.”)
Online Sources- El Universal,, BBC Mundo, Milenio, teleSUR, La Tercera,

Arte Para La Gente: Adios Gonzalo

Chile is renown for being a land of great poets including Pablo Neruda, Gabriella Mistral and Nicanor Parra. Sadly, one of the country's top wordsmiths passed away earlier today.

Gonzalo Rojas died this morning at the age of 93 as the result of consequences from a stroke he suffered in February. “It was really a privilege for those who had the good fortune to know him”, Rojas’ son Gonzalo Rojas-May mentioned to a local radio station. “My father was a democrat against all the repressive systems of the world,” Rojas-May added in recognition of his dad who left Chile in exile for several years under the Pinochet regime. (Rojas would return in 1979 to live in central city of Chillan for most of his remaining years).

The Chilean government declared two days of mourning in commemoration of Rojas who received numerous honors for his work including the Cervantes Prize in 2003. “La miseria del hombre”, “Transtierro” and “Del ocio sagrado” were just some of the books of poetry created by Rojas who was especially prolific during the 1980s and 1990s.

The impact of Rojas’ work may’ve been best described by Cervantes Institute director Carmen Caffarel according to AFP:
“(He was) a vanguard poet who flirted with surrealism, a master of the written word and a prolific creator of works that earned him the highest literary recognition”, said Caffarel in a communiqué.
In the below video Rojas read “Asma es Amor” (“Asthma is Love”), a poem where he played with words to reveal his longing for a love lost:

Rest in peace Gonzalo.

Video Source - YouTube
Online Sources- La Tercera, La Nacion, AFP, Europa Press

Daily Headlines: April 25, 2011

* Argentina: An Argentine judge concluded that “the Turkish state committed the crime of genocide against the Armenian people” between 1915 and 1923, much to the chagrin of Turkish officials.

* South America: Twenty-three Brazilian cities have declared states of emergency due to the wild weather while nearly one hundred are dead in Colombia due to heavy rains and flash floods.

* Mexico: The country’s antitrust agency confirmed that a $1 billion fine was levied against the Carlos Slim-owned America Movil telecom firm.

* Venezuela: Authorities at a Venezuelan airport detained a Colombian citizen suspected of running the website of the FARC guerillas.

Image – AFP (“People carry torches during a rally through the streets of Yerevan”, the capital city of Armenia.)
Online Sources- Mercopress, LAHT, Colombia Reports, MSNBC, CNN

Sunday, April 24, 2011

World Watch: Still seeking change in Syria

* Syria: The Mexican government joined the international condemnation opposed to increased Syrian repression against protesters and opposition.

* Nigeria: A local human rights group claimed that at least 516 people died as a result of post-presidential election violence this month.

* India: Rest in peace Sathya Sai Baba; “one of India's most popular and influential spiritual leaders” died on Sunday at the age of 85.

* Yemen: Thousands of protesters opposed a plan that would allow President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down in 30 days and would also grant him immunity from prosecution.

Image – Petros Karadjias/Associated Press via CBC News (“Syrian protesters hold a giant national flag as others shout slogans against the country's president during a demonstration in front of the Syrian Embassy in Nicosia, Cyprus, on Friday.”)
Online Sources- Milenio, BBC News, Xinhua, The Independent

Why the Easter Bunny?

Bugs Bunny - Easter Yeggs

Vezi mai multe video din animatie

Note: The following post originally appeared in April 2009.

On Sunday, Catholics around the world will commemorate the holiday of Easter- the day Jesus resurrected from the dead. Yet there’s also the view of Easter as one filled with eggs and a certain ubiquitous bunny. (And yes, it’s possible to celebrate both as I recall my childhood Easters going to church then decorating eggs after returning home!)

There has always been one detail that has nagged me: how did the Easter Bunny come about? Thankfully, the always informative mental_floss blog explains the origins. Much like the Virgen de Guadalupe, the Easter Bunny was born due to a combination of spiritual beliefs:
Many pagan cultures held spring festivals to celebrate this renewal of life and promote fertility. One of these festivals was in honor of Eostre or Eastre, the goddess of dawn, spring and fertility near and dear to the hearts of the pagans in Northern Europe. Eostre was closely linked to the hare and the egg, both symbols of fertility.

As Christianity spread, it was common for missionaries to practice some good salesmanship by placing pagan ideas and rituals within the context of the Christian faith and turning pagan festivals into Christian holidays (e.g. Christmas). The Eostre festival occurred around the same time as the Christians’ celebration of Christ’s resurrection, so the two celebrations became one, and with the kind of blending that was going on among the cultures, it would seem only natural that the pagans would bring the hare and egg images with them into their new faith (the hare later became the more common rabbit).

The pagans hung on to the rabbit and eventually it became a part of Christian celebration. We don’t know exactly when, but it’s first mentioned in German writings from the 1600s. The Germans converted the pagan rabbit image into Oschter Haws, a rabbit that was believed to lay a nest of colored eggs as gifts for good children.
So now you know!

Online Sources - Mental Floss, Wikipedia
Video Source -