Archive for the ‘Mexico’ Category

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The frontier between the United States and Mexico is the busiest land border in the world. It is also among one of the world’s most heavily regulated and policed border zones—the arid climate of which is responsible for many migrant deaths each year.

But it’s also an area that occasionally lends itself to more cheerful pursuits—something you won’t hear about from a number of far-right US politicians, who prefer to frame the US-Mexico border as something like a war zone.

“Wallyball” is an annual tradition in the sister towns of Naco, Arizona, in the United States and Naco, Sonora, in Mexico. Every April, teams from either side of the border face off in this “fast-paced version of volleyball,” reports Rafa Fernandez De Castro for Fusion.

It’s called the “Fiesta Bi-Nacional,” and it’s intended to solidify positive transnational relations between Mexico and the US, despite tensions over migration and other issues. “Wallyball” has been an integral part of Fiesta Bi-Nacional since 1979, and has inspired similar competitions elsewhere along the US-Mexico border. Holiday-makers in the US city of San Diego and the Mexican city of Tijuana have taken up impromptu volleyball matches on the sandy beaches where both countries meet the Pacific Ocean.

“For us, it represents the celebration of the union of two countries,” José Lorenzo Villegas, mayor of Mexican Naco, told Reuters in 2007. “What’s unusual is that both the Mexican and US teams are playing at home, with the fence as the net,” he added.

http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/5qIq8k/:3mT7@T7v:aJuDN@@4/qz.com/484342/locals-are-using-the-us-mexico-border-fence-as-a-giant-volleyball-net

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The Temple of Quechula was built in 1564 but later abandoned and ultimately submerged by a dam. Now drought conditions in Chiapas have seen it rise again.

The ruins of a 16th century church have emerged from the waters of a reservoir in Mexico.

The water level in the Nezahualcóyotl reservoir in Chiapas state has dropped by 25m (82ft) because of a drought in the area. The church, known as the Temple of Santiago or the Temple of Quechula, has been under nearly 100ft of water since 1966.

The church, which is believed to have been built by Spanish colonists, is 183ft long and 42ft wide, with a bell tower that rises 48ft above the ground.

It was built in 1564, the Associated Press reported, because of an expected surge in population, but abandoned after plague hit the area between 1773 and 1776.

“It was a church built thinking that this could be a great population center, but it never achieved that,” architect Carlos Navarretes said. “It probably never even had a dedicated priest, only receiving visits from those from Tecpatán.”

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/19/drought-mexican-church-reservoir

Could a new sugar substitute actually lower blood sugar and help you lose weight? That’s the tantalizing – but distant – promise of new research presented at the American Chemical Society (ACS) this week.

Agavins, derived from the agave plant that’s used to make tequila, were found in mouse studies to trigger insulin production and lower blood sugar, as well as help obese mice lose weight.

Unlike sucrose, glucose, and fructose, agavins aren’t absorbed by the body, so they can’t elevate blood glucose, according to research by Mercedes G. López, a researcher at the Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados, Biotechnology and Biochemistry Irapuato, in Guanajuato, Mexico.

And by boosting the level of a peptide called GLP-1 (short for glucagon-like peptide-1), which triggers the body’s production of insulin, agavins aid the body’s natural blood sugar control. Also, because agavins are type of fiber, they can make people feel fuller and reduce appetite, López’s research shows.

“We believe that agavins have a great potential as light sweeteners since they are sugars, highly soluble, have a low glycemic index, and a neutral taste, but most important, they are not metabolized by humans,” read the study abstract. “This puts agavins in a tremendous position for their consumption by obese and diabetic people.”

The caveat: The research was conducted in mice, and more study is necessary before we’ll know whether agavins are effective and safe in humans. In other words, we’re a long way from agavins appearing on grocery store shelves.

That said, with almost 26 millions of Americans living with diabetes and another 2 million diagnosed each year, a sweetener that lowered blood sugar levels rather than raised them would be quite a useful discovery. Not to mention the potential for a sugar substitute with the potential to help people lose weight.

In the study, titled “Agavins as Potential Novel Sweeteners for Obese and Diabetic People”, López added agavins to the water of mice who were fed a standard diet, weighing them and monitoring blood sugar levels every week. The majority of the mice given the agavin-supplemented water had lower blood glucose levels, ate less, and lost weight compared with other mice whose water was supplemented with glucose, sucrose, fructose, agave syrup, and aspartame.

Unlike other types of fructose, Agavins are fructans, which are long-chain fructoses that the body can’t use, so they are not absorbed into the bloodstream to raise blood sugar. And despite the similarity in the name, agavins are not to be confused with agave nectar or agave syrup, natural sweeteners that are increasingly popular sugar substitutes. In these products the fructans are broken down into fructose, which does raise blood sugar – and add calories.

López has been studying fructans for some time, and has published previous studies showing that they have protective prebiotic effects in the digestive tract and contribute to weight loss in obese mice.

A 2012 study by another team of researchers published in Plant Foods for Human Nutrition found that fructans boosted levels of the beneficial probiotics lactobacillus and bifidus. And like many types of fiber, agavins also lower levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood.

But the news isn’t all good; a 2011 literature review of human studies of the relationship between fructans (not agavins specifically) and blood sugar found that of 13 randomized studies of fructans, only three documented positive results. It remains to be seen whether – as López argues – agavins are distinct from other fructans in their action.

The downside: Agavins are don’t taste as sweet as other forms of sugar such as sucrose, fructose and glucose. And not everyone can tolerate them; like other types of fiber they have the potential to cause digestive problems.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/melaniehaiken/2014/03/17/new-sweetener-from-the-tequila-plant-may-aid-diabetes-weight-loss/

Thanks to Dr. Rajadhyaksha for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.

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by Harrison Jacobs

Mexico has long suffered blistering violence and crime at the hands of its homegrown drug cartels.

Though the Mexican government has waged war on the cartels, the effort has struggled to go anywhere. More than 90,000 people have died in the ongoing conflict.

Fed up with a corrupt police force that is often in bed with the cartels and a military that has to this point been ineffective, some Mexicans have taken it upon themselves to fight the cartels and protect their families — with an incredible conflict happening this week in the city of Paracuaro.

Over the last year, vigilante groups, known as fuerzas autodefensas have sprung up all over Mexico, particularly in the southwestern state of Michoacan, an area plagued by the Knights Templar cartel.

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In neighbouring Guerrero, members of the Public Safety System (the name of the vigilante group) marched to commemorate the first anniversary of their founding.

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On Monday, hundreds of vigilantes stormed Paracuaro, Michoacan, where the Knights Templar had set up their headquarters, in order to seize the town back from the cartel. Below is the entrance, where vigilantes erected a checkpoint.

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The gunmen, “community police” from a number of nearby towns, rode in a convoy of pickup trucks and SUVs, before engaging in a gunfight with the Knights Templar.

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The battle was bloody. One vigilante, two members of the Knights Templar, and two federal police were reportedly killed in the shootout.

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Once they had taken control of the town, the vigilantes began disarming municipal police, whom they accuse of being corrupt and in league with the cartel.

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The vigilantes set up patrols and checkpoints on any highways going into and out of Paracuaro.

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Anybody suspected of being associated with the Knights Templar was detained. Currently, 11 police officers are being held on suspicion of colluding with the cartel.

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What happened in Paracuaro is becoming more common. Several months ago, another group in Guerrero detained more than 50 people for over six weeks for alleged crimes.

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While the vigilantes in Paracuaro went after the drug cartel, most other vigilante groups in Mexico are more concerned with punishing criminals who commit robberies, rape, and murder, than stopping the actual drug trade.

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In response to the vigilantes’ takeover of Paracauro, the Michaocan governor told press that the police will begin attempting to “eradicate” the vigilante groups.

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For a government and police force already overwhelmed by the drug cartels, trying to eliminate the vigilante groups likely won’t be easy.

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http://www.businessinsider.com.au/mexican-vigilantes-battle-drug-cartel-photos-2014-1

Thanks to Kebmodee for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.

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The Mexican government says fishermen found two rare conjoined gray whale calves that died shortly after being born.

Biologist Benito Bermudez says the whales were found alive in the Ojo de Liebre lagoon in the Baja California Peninsula but lived only a few hours.

Bermudez said Wednesday they were linked at the waist, with two full heads and tail fins.

Bermudez is a marine biologist with the National Natural Protected Areas Commission, or CONANP. He said scientists are collecting skin, muscle and baleen samples to study the creatures.

Every year more than 20,000 gray whales swim to Mexico from Alaska to mate and give birth.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/rare-conjoined-gray-whale-twins-found-in-mexico/

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Authorities in Ohio say a man who ordered a gun safe online opened it up only to discover 280 pounds of marijuana inside.

Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart in western Ohio says the safe was made in Nogales, Mexico and that it was sent by truck to Ohio.

He says the marijuana has a street value of $420,000.

Federal authorities who are investigating say the truck driver who brought the shipment into the United States is now missing.

The Ohio sheriff says that truck was carrying a full shipment of safes, but none of the others contained any drugs.

He says the safe with the marijuana was delivered to Ohio in June, but authorities have kept quiet about it while they looked into how the safe got into the U.S.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/gun-safe-ohio-man-filled-marijuana-19995543

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With an idea to provide clean water consistently to rural Mexican communities where access is limited, students in the Yucatan region of Southern Mexico designed Chaac Ha Water Collector. This concept had won an award for its innovative ways of harvesting water. Along with rainwater, it can also collect up to 2.5 liters of water each night from dew alone. Amazingly, this water-harvesting concept is portable.

The Chaac Ha design-students named it after the Mayan god of rain.

On observing natural processes, the students had designed this concept. While designing the structure and texture of the membrane that captures the water, they had derived their ideas from bromeliads, which draw moisture and nutrients from the atmosphere. The bromeliad leaves are hydrophobic; their microscopic irregularities facilitate water to channel into a single reservoir. Likewise, the students have used Teflon in the case of Chaac Ha design. Its structure resembles spider web and it is inflatable for full portability.

Last year, the Chaac Ha system was recognized with the Autodesk Sustainability Workshop award. The awarded students were Diana Carolina Vega Basto, Luis Didier Cox Tamay, Andy Francisco Arjona Massa, Cindy Beatriz, Shirley Molina, and Álvaro Jesús Buenfil Ovando, from the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán, Mérida.

Thanks to Kebmodee for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.

http://www.designntrend.com/articles/3894/20130418/chaac-ha-students-designed-water-collector-harvests-2-5l-drinking.htm