Photo Credit: Taste Taiwan Taste of Taiwan: A Culinary Journey┃Discovery Channel┃February 15, 2015┃8 pm EST/PST┃Will also air simultaneously on YouTube This week, I was given the horrible task of eating free food and drinking free wine and writing about it. I showed up for duty at an event called Taste Taiwan: a Culinary Journey, hosted […]

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Chuy Naleo

The phone interview was scheduled for 7:30 am on a Friday, and my phone rings on the dot. “Good morning,” says the voice on the other end, in a distinctly Little Village Chicagoan accent, “this is Chuy García.” Later he comments on how early in the day our conversation is taking place. “Ya estoy bebiendo […]

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Turk Left 1

The sauce is so creamy you won’t believe that there isn’t cream or cheese in it. Just healthy avocado, roasted pepper and raw pumpkin seeds. Yes, pumpkin seeds. I used them as my tahini base instead of sunflower seeds. It’s a tasty way to get your zinc in. Once you make this sauce, you might start using this on your salads, as a sandwich spread or as a dip!

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Guest contribution by Jennet Posey On November 24, 2014 when it was announced that killer cop Darren Wilson will not be charged for the shooting death of Michael Brown, Chicagoans took to the streets and shut them down. [Photos by Jennet Posey] Created with flickr slideshow.

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The Ferguson grand jury is expected to announce their decision early this evening on whether Officer Darren Wilson will face charges in the murder of Michael Brown, and if so, what those charges will be. Livestream embedded from PBS NewsHour. See below for Twitter feeds. Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream #fergusongrandjury Tweets Chicago Actions Chicago […]

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LIVESTREAM starting around 6pm CST. TODAY! From the UK to Australia, the world marches in support of the students of #Ayotzinapa! #20NovMX #TodosdeNegro For livestream of Chicago’s march in Pilsen, tune in at 6pm CST on gozamos.com/live. For live coverage of protests in Mexico City, tune in at 5pm CST to Revolución TresPuntoCero  Lists of events […]

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Chicago Sinfonietta

The Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration blurs the boundaries between life’s joys and death’s loss as we celebrate our loved ones who have passed away. In much the same way, the Chicago Sinfonietta’s Día de los Muertos Celebration in collaboration with Redmoon Theater, blurs the boundaries between our different cultures as well […]

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Thank you to everyone who participated in our Day of the Dead T-shirt Contest with No Manches Clothing Co.! We’re excited to announce the winner of the contest… Roberto Almanza! Roberto’s captivating artwork captured the essence of Dia de los Muertos, and we’re excited about launching the designed t-shirt at our Dia de los Muertos […]

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During a press conference on Wednesday, an active duty sailor in the Chilean navy came out as a gay man and was allowed to do so by his superiors:

Chile has traditionally been a tough place for homosexuals, although the country decriminalized gay sex in 1999 and attitudes toward gays are evolving. The killing of a gay man in Chile 2012 set off a national debate that prompted Congress to pass a hate crimes law.

Last night John Huppenthal, one of the guys behind attempts to ban Mexican-American Studies in Arizona, lost his Republican primary:

Huppenthal’s reelection campaign hit a major roadblock this year when it was revealed in June that he had been leaving comments on political blogs under the psydonyms ‘Falcon9′ and ‘Thucydides’ containing remarks that many viewed as offensive.

Ben Joravsky over at the Chicago Reader tells his fellow Chicagoans how their hard-earned money is being spent, not on the poor, but on the mayor’s pet projects.

Now that Central America is the major drug-trafficking route, some Christians in one country have devised a way to keep people clean — by “hunting” down addicts in the streets and holding them against their will for months, even years at a time:

As there is no residential, state provision for addicts in Guatemala, private rehabilitation facilities have filled the vacuum. There may be as many as 200 Christian centres in Guatemala, possibly holding 6,000 people, estimates Dr Kevin O’Neill, from the University of Toronto, who has made an anthropological study of the centres.

In light of the latest World Bank tracking of inequality across Latin America, George Gray Molina, chief economist at UNDP in Latin America and the Caribbean, discusses three options for the governments of Latin America:

A third way to deal with stagnating inequality is to do nothing. This is, in fact, the most likely scenario, as reforms that address inequality are intensive in political and institutional capital. In these cases, countries will attempt to sustain declines in poverty through higher economic growth. They are likely to find, by the year 2020, that ‘more of the same’ does not often yield the same.

Brazilian presidential candidate Marina Silva is causing waves in an election season which was supposed to go more or less Pres. Dilma Rousseff’s way:

The Ibope survey, based on some 2,500 responses collected August 23-25, shows Rousseff with 34 percent support, followed by Silva with 29 percent and the PSDB’s Aecio Neves with 19 percent. A hypothetical second-round matchup shows 45 percent for Silva and 36 percent for Rousseff. But just as with last week’s Datafolha survey, the Ibope poll should probably be taken with a grain of salt. It was conducted only 10-12 days after the death of the PSB’s initial candidate, Silva’s running mate Eduardo Campos, and sympathy for Silva could be artificially boosting her support.

According to a UN report, over 56 million people across Latin America and the Caribbean have been lifted out of poverty, which has decreased the region’s overall poverty rate by roughly 16 percent:

The UNDP singled out Bolivia and Peru for achieving some of the greatest poverty reduction, by 32.2% and 26.3% respectively, and also praised progress in Chile and Argentina. But it added that poverty levels went up by 6.8% in Guatemala and remained roughly unchanged in Uruguay, Honduras and the Dominican Republic.

A beleaguered Vatican is under fire in the Dominican Republic after the Vatican’s ambassador to the D.R., Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, was recalled and has been shielded against charges that he had sex with underage boys:

The district attorney, Ms. Reynoso, said her investigators had identified four children aged 12 to 17 with whom the nuncio had sexual contact, but that there were likely others. The 17-year-old had epilepsy, and the nuncio gave him medicine for his condition in exchange for sexual acts, starting from when the boy was 13, the district attorney said.

On Friday Pres. Peña Nieto swore in Mexico’s new 5,000-strong gendarmerie, which he hopes will provide the kind of security needed to allow Mexico to prosper. The move is not without its critics:

Yet another criticism of the new police force was recently made by transparency advocacy group Fundar, which released a report on the initiative in July. While its authors applaud the Peña Nieto administration’s decision to keep the new force under civil authority, the report concludes that the gendarmerie operates under a strategic vision that ‘prioritizes eliminating the enemy over protecting the civilian population.’

At least 700 inmates have taken control of a prison in southern Brazil, beheading two people and throwing two others off a roof:

Brazil has the world’s fourth largest prison population, with half a million inmates in facilities meant to hold 300,000. Our correspondent says that, across the country, many poorly resourced jails are in effect run by powerful crime gangs. Earlier this year the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, called for an investigation into the high number of violent deaths in Brazil’s prisons after previous riots at a jail in the north of the country left dozens of people dead.

After the death of Brazilian presidential candidate Eduardo Campos last week, his party has confirmed running mate Marina Silva as his replacement:

Yesterday’s announcement came after a day-long meeting between the leaders of Campos’ Socialist Party and Silva’s political movement, the Sustainability Network. During the meeting it was reportedly settled that Silva would not be required to fully step in for Campos and campaign for candidates with whom she herself has no political affiliation, which includes PSB-aligned candidates in São Paulo, Paraná and Santa Catarina states.

Colombia has deployed undercover “pervert police” throughout Bogotá’s mass transit system to make commuters’ rides to work safer:

Locals joke that the city’s Transmilenio bus system, which carries 2 million people a day, sometimes gets so packed that the sauna and massage are free. But groping on the bus is a serious issue. Since the squad began operating 20 days ago, it has caught 16 men (it’s always men), some of whom have been repeat offenders.

It takes a special kind of blood lust to kill people at the morgue:

A Honduran official says gunmen attacked a family retrieving a body from a state morgue in the city of San Pedro Sula, killing seven of the dead man’s relatives and two bystanders. San Pedro Sula Forensic Medicine director Hector Hernandez says five masked, heavily armed men arrived at the morgue in two pickup trucks early Tuesday and opened fire on the family of Jose Luis Terrero, who had been slain a day earlier.

A new Gallup Law and Order Index makes Venezuela the least secure country in the world:

Eight out of 10 countries with the highest homicide rates are located in Latin America and the Caribbean, with the region accounting for 36% of the world’s homicides in 2012, according to a United Nations report. Furthermore, the Americas have overtaken Africa — where index scores are only slightly higher — as the region with the most murders, largely because of a surge in organized crime.

The World Bank was blasted again this again for not putting enough consideration into environmental and social consequences before it lent tens of millions of dollars to Honduras’ largest bank:

The IFC approved $70 million for Ficohsa in 2011 despite the bank’s risky operating environment and clients, including a palm oil company linked to multiple killings and drug trafficking, the IFC’s Office of the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) said in the report. … Human rights groups have accused Dinant and its guards of human rights violations, including killings and forced evictions of peasants occupying disputed land.

On Monday the Venezuelan government began nightly closures of its 1,370-mile border with Colombia:

Venezuela loses an estimated 14% of its gasoline production in contraband sales, mainly to Colombia, but also to Brazil, sources in state-owned PDVSA have told The Times. There is also a thriving black market for smuggled Venezuelan food items including rice, chicken, cooking oil and beans. … Gasoline costs less than a penny a gallon at unofficial exchange rates, creating a huge profit potential for those who can ship it to Colombia, where gas costs upward of $5 per gallon.

Here’s what happens when you make a former leftist guerrilla (who was tortured by the government) president:

Uruguay will ask fellow members at the Unasur summit to be held in Montevideo later in the month to discuss the Gaza Strip situation, said Foreign minister Luis Almagro who next week will be meeting a delegation from the Palestine Authority. Almagro and president Jose Mujica have been questioned for using the words ‘genocide’ and ‘massacre’ to describe the Israeli offensive in Gaza.

A national security consultant debunks a few myths about the child refugee crisis, including recommendations for increased aid to the region:

Calls for more aid and increased foreign investment are unrealistic in light of the dysfunction of the Northern Triangle governments. The rule of law there has been replaced by transactional politics: Whoever pays the most gets the results they want, and the police, judiciary, executive branch and legislature are at the service of the highest bidder. In this environment, more money would inevitably mean more corruption.

A former USAID worker reminds us of the flipside behind recent AP articles revealing the secretive methods used by USAID to spread democracy in Cuba:

Reading any of these articles, or their peanut gallery shouts of endorsement, one would assume that all was hunky dory in Cuba—that the Castro government endorsed or even supported human rights, accepted—even responded to—dissent over matters of healthcare policy, and permitted the sort of collaboration among nongovernmental organizations allowed throughout the hemisphere and much of the world. Of course, the Castro government doesn’t allow for those things, not at all.

President Juan Manuel Santos doesn’t know what he wants to do with drugs:

‘What we have been doing for the past 40 years has not worked. I am in favor of finding a more effective way to take drug money out of criminal hands. It may be decriminalizing. It may be more of a health approach. If you find someone with marijuana in the street, instead of putting him in jail, you send him to a rehabilitation center.’ … While Santos certainly deserves praise for his commitment to debating drug reforms, it’s worth pointing out that, technically, he’s making two mismatched points here. On the one hand, he supports a completely new, health-based approach to the problem of drug consumption. But at the same time, he is in favor of continuing Colombia’s commitment to supply reduction through illegal crop eradication.

Faced with a spiraling economy, Venezuela is looking for stuff to sell:

State-owned parent company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) signaled its interest in a finding a buyer for the U.S.-based Citgo … On Tuesday, Oil Minister Rafael Ramírez … added that the country would not sell its oil refining and marketing assets in the U.S. for anything less than $10 billion. … Citgo, the Houston-based subsidiary of PDVSA, owns three refineries capable of handling about 749,000 barrels a day in Louisiana, Texas and Illinois. It also sells gasoline through about 6,000 stations and donates heating oil to 200,000 low-income families during winters.

The Mexican Senate on Wednesday, with the support of PRI and PAN senators, voted to end seven decades of state monopoly over the oil and electricity sectors:

The Mexican government under Pena Nieto has advocated opening the country’s oil and gas sector to bring billions of dollars in new investment and boost the country’s flagging oil production. Mexico saw its peak production in 2004, with 3.4 million barrels a day. It has fallen steadily since to the current 2.5 million barrels. With the reform, private companies with the expertise and technology lacking in the state oil company, Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, will be able to exploit the country’s vast shale and deep-water reserves.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which has been charged with caring for child refugees at the border, says it will close three of its shelters housed on military bases:

Those who work with the youths cheered the base shelter closures, saying the minors fared far better in smaller, less institutional shelters where they have more access to lawyers and other advocates. Some communities have protested opening such shelters in recent weeks, successfully blocking them. But there are still enough shelters to house those coming now, advocates said.

One of the most informative, interactive and beautifully written articles on immigration you’ll read this year:

They had left Exelina at 7:30 in the morning, the woman explained, and walked all day until they reached the highway north of the immigration checkpoint. They were picked up by men in trucks and driven to Houston. They arrived that Saturday around 9 p.m. ‘I am a woman in my late 50s, a grandmother,’ she told Salvador. ‘There aren’t any words to explain how difficult it was.’ But somehow everyone had made it to Houston—everyone except Exelina.