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The ‘Escopetarra': A Killer Instrument

If you believe that nothing good can come from a rifle, then you have to get to know the “escopetarra”—a hybrid that transforms two “lethal” weapons (an AK-47 and a guitar) into an instrument of peace. “Escopetarra” is a Spanish blend that combines the words “escopeta” (shotgun) and “guitarra” (guitar).

In his Spanish-language podcast, Colombian musician César López talks about how he created the instrument, tracing it from the moment of its conception to all of the technical issues he faced creating it, as well as its characteristic sound.

There are more AK-47s in the world than any other gun, thanks to how unusually cheap the weapon is to make. It is estimated that there are 35-to-50 million AK-47s in existence, not counting those that are manufactured illegally each year.

“Primero, el AK 47 es el arma que más muertos le ha causado al planeta Tierra en toda su historia. Es el arma que se ha usado en Sudáfrica, Medio Oriente, Centro América, en Colombia”, dijo López en entrevista con la cadena estadounidense Univision.

“First of all, the AK-47 has caused the most deaths by any weapon on the planet. It's been used in South Africa, the Middle East, Central America, and also in Colombia”, stated López in an interview with the American television network, Univision.

The first “escopetarra” was made in 2003 using a Winchester rifle and a Stratocaster electric guitar. The rifle is taken apart in a way that it is no longer considered a weapon and cannot be used as such.

Currently, about 20 “escopetarras” have been presented to prominent musicians and international leaders who stand for peace, including the Colombian band, Aterciopelados, Argentinean musician Fito Páez, and UNESCO.

Can Abortion Be Discussed in Medellín's Metro?

Residents of the city of Medellín, Colombia, are asking themselves if the metro is the place to talk about abortion, stemming from an ad by the #ladecisiónestuya (the decision is yours) campaign that's running in the public transit system's cars, as shared by user Jaime Andrés (@JAIM3_ANDR3S):

The Decision Is Yours pic.twitter.com/Nbaq2zJHXn

— Jaime Andrés (@JAIM3_ANDR3S) May 26, 2015

The campaign is being spearheaded by a non-profit organization offering sexual and reproductive healthcare services, carrying the message: “398,000 abortions should not be illegal.”

Under the hashtag #Abortonoesculturametro (Abortion Is Not Metro Culture) referring to the set of rules governing Medellín's Metro called “Cultura Metro” (Metro Culture), people have been sharing their opinions for and against abortion, in the same way that the mass transit system installations’ cars are used on a daily basis to post messages using other graphic material.

Travelling Radio: Sound Postcards and Histories from Cali to Panama

Performers, communicators and scientists are working together on Hacia el Litoral. Acción Colectiva (On the Way to the Littoral: Collaborative Action), an initiative to give voice to the population dwelling in the lands located between Cali (Colombia) and the border with Panama:

Hacia el litoral. Acción colectiva es una práctica artística, una serie de movimientos sobre un territorio, geográfico y mental, un ejercicio de relectura del territorio y de frontera realizado por dos grupos, uno ubicado en Cali y otro en Ciudad de Panamá, conformado por artistas, comunicadores sociales, antropólogos, ingenieros, sociólogos, biólogos, entre diferentes actores que conforman un grupo interdisciplinar llamado a desarrollar proyectos y acciones en un viaje que comprende Ciudad de panamá, Jaqué, Punta Ardita, Juradó, Bahía solano, El Valle, Nuquí, Coquí y Cali. Con el proyecto La Radio Va–llena, Estación Viajera resultaron ganadores de la beca CreaDigital de los Ministerios de las TIC y de Cultura en Colombia, en la categoría cross y transmedia, año 2014.

‘On the Way to the Littoral: Collaborative Action’ is a creative practice, a series of movements over a land, geographically and mentally, an exercise in reinterpretation of the territory and frontiers elaborated by two groups, one located in Cali and the other in Panama City. The project is comprised of performers, social communicators, anthropologists, engineers, sociologists, biologists, creating an interdisciplinary group to develop designs and actions along a journey which takes in Panama City, Jaque, Punta Ardita, Juradom, Bahia Solano, El Valle, Nuqui, Coqui and Cali. With the project La Radio Va-llena and Estación Viajera (Travelling Station) they were winners of the CreaDigital grant awarded by the Ministries of ICT (Ministry of Information Technology and Communications) and Culture in Colombia, in the cross and trans-media categories for 2014.

Radio Va-llena gathers classical music excluded from mass media, sounds, voices and life histories of the region's population and their effects, demarcated by the frontier, allowing them to subvert surroundings marked by conflict and violence through a manifestation of cultural expressions.

Hacia el Litoral. Fotografía de Evelyn Soto, utilizada con autorización

Hacia el Litoral (On the way to the Littoral. Evelyn Soto's photo, used with permission.

The University del Valle (Cali) on May 14, 2015, alongside the Cinemateca of University in the teatrino of the Facultad de Artes Integradas (Integrated Arts Faculty) will be able to hear sound postcards, watch videos of different characters and photos of the travelling, as well as conversations with members of Radio Va-llena.

Bolivia to Host First International Community Radio and Free Software Conference

The first international conference on community radio and free software will be held in Cochabama, Bolivia from June 11-13, 2015. So far, the community radio stations from Spanish-speaking countries that have confirmed their assistance are: Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Uruguay, Venezuela, and of course, the host, Bolivia. 

The preliminary agenda includes a forum discussing the advances taking place in Latin America regarding free software, telecommunication legislation, and a migration plan. There will also be workshops and simultaneous talks on free software tools such as Shamatari, Ardour, Audacity, and Creative Commons, amongst others. 

Several websites, such as Radios Libres (Free Radio Stations) and Corresponsales del Pueblo (The People's Correspondents), have helped to spread the information found on the official site, liberaturadio.org, while others have stepped up to the task of getting communities to attend the event, such as the Comisión Nacional de Telecomunicaciones de Venezuela, Conatel (National Commission of Telecommunications of Venezuela), which in addition underlines its support for these initiatives: 

En Venezuela las emisoras de radio comunitarias también cuentan con apoyo para su independencia. En enero de 2015 fue lanzada otra aplicación libre ideal para medios comunitarios: Shatamari 15.01., que tiene 260 aplicaciones preinstaladas y configuradas para trabajar en medios digitales, audiovisuales, automatización de emisoras radiales y medios impresos.

Twitter users also began to spread the word of the event to others as well as to motivate internet users and community radio stations to meet up at the conference. 

Sign up starts on April 1; for more information, visit the event's official page at liberaturadio.org

Spain and Latin America Celebrate Open Data Day

One again, bloggers, hackers, designers, experts, as well as citizens interested in open data and transparency will meet to celebrate International Open Data Day 2015 all over the world to promote the opening of government data. The event is expected to have online meetings but also in-person activities all over the globe, requiring exceptional coordination and organization. 

Open Data Day 2015, imagen extraída de la página Escuela de Datos, utilizada con autorización

Open Data Day 2015, image from Escuela de Datos. Used by permission

Faeriedevilish, blogging for School of Data, informs us on the Open Data Day festivities to take place on Saturday, February 21st in Spain and various cities in Latin America. Here you'll find information about the organization and event coordination in Buenos Aires, Lima, Medellín, Madrid, Mexico City, Xalapa, Monterrey, San Salvador, Panama City, etc., where many different activities will be held:

Alerta – Nos unimos a Abierto al Público: queremos que #datosabiertos se vuelva trending topic mundial en Twitter el 21 de febrero. Para lograrlo, las organizaciones participantes tuitearemos con este hashtag (y pediremos a lxs participantes que también lo hagan) el sábado 21 a partir de las 10:00 hora México, 11:00 hora Lima, 13:00 hora Buenos Aires, 17:00 hora Madrid. Importante: no usar el hashtag antes de esta hora.

Alert – We're meeting at Abierto al Público: we want #datosabiertos (#opendata) to trend on Twitter on February 21st. To do so, we'll be tweeting participating organizations with this hashtag (and we ask participants to do the same) on Saturday, February 21st starting at 10:00 in Mexico City, 11:00 in Buenos Aires, 17:00 in Madrid. Important: do not use the hashtag before this time. 

Click here for more information on the International Open Data Day festivities. 

You can follow @faeriedevilish and Escuela de Datos on Twitter.

This selected article participated in the 43rd edition of #LunesdeBlogsGV on February 16, 2015. 

Mining and Ecocide in Santander, Colombia

Illegal mining is a problem affecting the Colombian department of Santander, where residents have seen first-hand how extraction and other processes linked to mining cause pollution. The video below was produced by Corporación PODION, as part of the project “Caravan for the awareness and collection of complaints in defense of the land and the environment within the department of Santander”. It was carried out in October 2014 with the goal of highlighting different complaints and testimonies regarding the violation of environmental rights in the region:

The Observatory of Mining Conflicts in Latin America explained the seriousness of the situation in Vélez and Landázuri in a statement:

La comunidad de estos dos municipios, se ha opuesto de manera enérgica ante el inminente deterioro de sus condiciones de vida y el grave daño ambiental que implicará la explotación de 60.000 toneladas de carbón al mes tomando 3 lt/seg de agua, lo que implica más de 93 millones de litros de agua anual, el vertimiento de 0.83 lt/seg , es decir, más de 25 millones de litros de agua contaminada vertida sobre sus territorios y, la remoción de más de 821.955 metros cúbicos de madera nativa, entre ceibas, roble y caracolí.

The community of these two municipalities has vigorously opposed the imminent deterioration of their living conditions and the serious environmental damage that the exploitation of 60,000 tonnes of coal monthly using 3 litres/sec of water will entail. This means more than 93 millions of litres of water yearly at a flow of 0.83 litres/sec. In other words, more than 25 million litres of contaminated water discharged over the land as well as the removal of more than 821, 955 cubic metres of native trees amongst which kapok, oak and cashew can be found.

Photos of the environmental damage caused by mining have circulated on Twitter:

 ecocide in Santander, thousands of fish dead because of Hidrosogamoso

Twitter users have also expressed their disagreement with the mining developments in the region:

Using Your Reflex Camera From Your Cellphone? Lumera!

Yes, now it's possible! Thanks to Lumera, after two years of hard work as a result of a project by Open Hardware, from Hackbo, Bogota's hackerspace. It's all about a small device that gets integrated into your reflex photographic camera, transforming it into a “smart camera”. Using Lumera, you can handle your camera from your cell phone, save your photos in the cloud, share them on social networks or edit, among other possibilities.

Fotografía extraída del sitio web Kickstarter, utilizada con autorización

Photo from the website Kickstarter, used with permission

Sergio Fabara explains how it works:

Lumera cuenta con conectividad Wi-Fi y Bluetooth LE, un display LED, doble puerto USB, batería integrada y varios botones para compartir y transferir archivos de manera rápida y sencilla. El accesorio se ancla a la cámara mediante la entrada de tornillo universal y por el puerto USB se conecta al de la cámara. Y se vinculará con su celular mediante una app que estará disponible para Android y iOS. Con esta app, podrán configurar la antena para conectarla directo a las cuentas de Dropbox y Google Drive, haciendo el respaldo digital mucho más sencillo.

Lumera has Wi-Fi connectivity and Bluetooth LE, a LED display, double USB port, integrated battery and several buttons for quickly and easily file sharing and transfering. The accessory is fixed to the camera through the universal bolt input and through the USB port gets connected to the camera. And it will be linked to your cell phone through an app that will be available for Android and iOS. With this app, you will be able to set up he antenna to connect it directly to your Dropbox and Google Drive accounts, thus making digital backup way much simpler.

LumeraLabs is a Colombian-origin hardware, software and application firm that participates in a campaign by Kickstarter to raise funds to launch Lumera. So far, the project has raised $41,903 out of the $90,000 they have set as a goal. There is still time until December 12 for those photographs or amateurs that want Lumera to reach its goal.

Reasearch, Implementation and Impact, Is What Universities Investigate Useful?

A comment about whether the population values the researches carried out from the universities, triggers member of academic community César Viloria to shed a light about this on his blog.

About research, we have to know it's divided in two branches: basic research and applied research. The former increases or creates knowledge as well as develops and modificies what already exists. On the other hand, applied research focuses in the application and usefulness of these knowledges on the population. We can also find differences about times, the former has long term results and the latter shows medium term results.

You might be thinking now, what about all those formulas with impossible numbers? The blog has also an answer to this question:

Encontramos una gran cantidad de elementos en estos artículos que pueden dificultar la lectura si lo que queremos saber es “de qué trata” pero servirían de gran ayuda si somos investigadores relacionados con el tema y queremos saber el “cómo lo hicieron”. Sin embargo, generalmente en la introducción y las conclusiones de estos textos es posible comprender una idea general del “para qué sirve”.

We find several elements in these items that can make difficult its reading, if we want to know “what is it about”, but they will be very useful if we are researches involved with the topic and what we want to know is “how they did it”. Usually, however, on the introduction and conclusions of these texts, it's possible to understand a general idea of “what is this for”.

For further information, Uninorte has launched a program called Science within reach, to make us feel part of the scientific community.

You can folow César Viloria Núñez on Twitter.

This post was part of the twenty sixth #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on October 27, 2014.

Colombia: No to Sex Tourism in Medellín

NoTurismoSexual

“No to sex tourist”. Screenshot from video posted on YouTube.

By mid July 2014, the Facebook page No to sex tourist was created, with the purpose of create awareness about sex tourism in Colombia. Wikipedia lo define como:

… una forma de turismo con el propósito de mantener relaciones sexuales, normalmente de varones con prostitutas hembras, pero también, aunque menos, hay mujeres turistas sexuales y turismo sexual homosexual masculino.

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