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Jasmine Garsd

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The AfroPunk Festival in Brooklyn has grown since the annual event began in 2005. As it has expanded, so have the choices it offers: you can see everyone from Ice Cube to George Clinton, to Brit Rockers Skunk Anansie. There's a lot to catch, so here are five artists to keep an eye out for, at the festival and beyond.


Jasmine's picks:

Laura Mvula

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The mosquito-borne Zika virus has sparked a debate about abortion in both Latin America and the United States.

The virus has been directly linked to a birth defect that results in an abnormally small head and brain damage. In Latin America, where many countries have strict bans on abortion, some citizens and government officials are asking whether such bans should be reconsidered, at least in infected mothers.

Back in 2014, archivists were combing through Pablo Neruda's files when they came upon some previously unpublished works. Those writings by the Nobel prize-winning Chilean poet will soon be released in English in Then Come Back: The Lost Neruda. Forrest Gander, the Brown University professor who translated the poems into English, likens the discovery to finding a trove of new sketches by Michelangelo.

By the time I read about Marina Menegazzo and María José Coni, their bodies had already been found. They'd been missing for nearly a week and were discovered on Feb. 28, wrapped in plastic bags and dumped near a beach in Ecuador. One had her skull bashed in; the other had stab wounds and had bled to death. The two Argentine tourists, 22 and 23, had been vacationing in Ecuador. Their murder wasn't reported much in English language media.

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There is a joke circulating in San Salvador these days: "Instead of using a condom, use a mosquito net! That should at least keep the mosquitoes from biting your privates."

The joke is a dig at the unusual suggestion made by the governments of El Salvador and various other Latin American countries. Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador (as well as Jamaica) have advised that women hold off on getting pregnant. El Salvador went as far as to urge women to hold back on having children until 2018.

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Late last year, it was revealed that the Department of Homeland Security was going to step up pursuit of people with deportation orders. Arrests took place the first weekend of January; DHS has confirmed that 121 people were detained in those operations.

"El Almohadon De Pluma" (The Feather Pillow), written in 1905, is a classic of Latin American literature. Uruguayan author Horacio Quiroga tells the tale of Alicia, a newlywed who begins mysteriously and rapidly losing weight. Soon she's bedridden with severe anemia. The doctors are perplexed. She dies in no time. As the maid is cleaning out the bedroom, she calls the widower in: The pillow where Alicia used to rest her head has dark blood stains. She tries to lift the pillow up, but it's too heavy.

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