More violence in Reynosa

Fourteen people were killed in Reynosa, Mexico yesterday, bringing the total for the state of Tamaulipas to 64 for the month. Battles between suspected drug cartel gunmen and federal forces left 2 federal officers and 2 bystanders dead, along with 10 gunmen.

Reynosa is a border city across the Rio Grande from McAllen, TX.

Reynosa is a special place to me–I got my start in medical missions there, making 6 trips with LA VIM teams from the Natchitoches United Methodist Church beginning in 2002. There is a lot of poverty there, but the people were very open and friendly. It is painful to see photos of violence in streets that I recognize.

There are no easy answers to problems in northern Mexico. There will be drug trafficking across the border as long as there is a market for the product in the United States, and cities like Reynosa pay the price.


Just between you and me…

I came across a review of an Android and iPhone app that I thought was really neat, and just had to share. The app is called Between, and serves a Facebook-like function, but only for you and one other person.

On social networking platforms such as Facebook or Google+, you’re sharing posts with the public, friends, friends of friends, or a list or circle of friends, and you are prompted with requests and suggestions for adding friends to your space from time to time.

Frankly, those may not be the right places to go when you just need to share something with only one person, either your hubby or wife, or just the one you love most, without any others to follow two of you.

Where else if not this intimate place known as Between? This is a less noisy space than Facebook and Google+ when you need to share interests with the one you love, and not more than one.

The rest of the review is here.

Go here for the Android app.

The iPhone app is here.


What is the deadliest creature on earth?

It’s not sharks, or crocodiles, or even man, with our guns and bombs and deadly blow-darts.

Okay, we are second. But, according to Bill Gates’ blog, it is the mosquito, responsible for 725,000 deaths a year, 600,000 from malaria.

Strictly speaking, of course, that makes Plasmodium sp., the malaria-causing parasite transmitted by mosquitoes, the deadliest creature. But Gates is right, mosquito control would save many lives annually.

Thanks to Rachel Carson and others, the cheapest and most effective mosquito pesticide, DDT, is no longer available. My reading suggests that DDT is not as harmful to the environment as we were told in the 60’s and 70’s, and would save many thousands of lives per year.


A cartwheeling spider

A new species of spider has been discovered in Morocco, and it’s quite the gymnast. Cebrennus rechenbergi, which lives in the sand desert Erg Chebbi, is the first species of spider documented to project itself across the sand through cartwheel-like motions. The discovery has been published in the journal Zootaxa.

A similar tumbleweed style spider has been previously described, the golden rolling spider, but this spider is restricted in its agility since it is only able to roll down hills. The arachnid acrobat C. rechenbergi in contrast can propel itself off the ground and initiate “flic-flac” jumps that allow it to travel both along flat ground and uphill. Impressively, this bizarre skill allows the spider to move twice as fast as if it were walking, around two meters per second, and uses it as a getaway card when potential predators approach.

The video is in German, but you can see the spider’s unusual method of locomotion, as well as a robot model inspired by the arachnid.


Chicken boxing? Only in Louisiana.

From The Advocate:

State lawmakers spent a portion of Tuesday morning discussing the finer points of a “sport” known as chicken boxing. And no, it wasn’t an April Fools’ joke.

It happened in the Senate Committee for Judiciary C when state Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, began discussing his Senate Bill 523.

The bill is meant to tighten the language in the state’s 2008 cockfighting ban.

The legislation would expand the state’s ban on cockfighting to include all types of chickens. It also would make it a felony to possess paraphernalia, such as razors, spurs, leather spur covers and other items commonly used in the sport that once was prevalent in south Louisiana but is now illegal.

Senators had few questions, except for state Sen. Elbert Guillory, R-Opelousas, who said the legislation would shut down the sport of “chicken boxing,” a nonfatal form of cockfighting in which the birds aren’t outfitted with razors and spurs.

Guillory said he was especially concerned about the part of the law that deals with paraphernalia.