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A blog devoted to on-the-ground reporting around the world.

Looking at Argentina's Catholic women of worship

In Pope Francis' former spiritual home, women hold a paradoxical role.

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Sitting in the first pew before the altar at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Buenos Aires — the former church of Pope Francis, then-Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio — I waited for noon Mass to begin.

The Catholic Church had been at the center of many of our interviews and exchanges over coffee, and it seemed like we’d spent most of our time in this cathedral. But this was the first time on the trip — for me, the first time in maybe 20 years — that we’d sat for Mass. Our first interview had confirmed that, in Argentina, you could not look at the issue of abortion without also looking at the church, and the paradoxical relationship women have within it.

“The Catholic Church is a very patriarchal institution that, historically, has been opposed to women’s rights,” Victoria Tesoriero, a member of Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir, or Catholics for the Right to Decide, had said in that first interview. “It has bound women to subaltern or domestic roles that are lower in rank — in the hierarchy. This is a place of inequality.”

And yet the Virgin Mary holds great power in the Latin American church.

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In Bethlehem, no one is in the mood to celebrate Eid

Commentary: Death and body counts coming out of Gaza have become a part of the daily rhythm in the West Bank. It’s as if Eid is intruding upon this catastrophe, not the other way around.
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(Emily Judem/GlobalPost)

BETHLEHEM, Palestine — It is the last day of Eid Al-Fitr.

Monday, the first day of a three-day celebration to end Ramadan, the month where Muslims fast from sun-up to sun-down, was marked by eerie silence and glum faces in Bethlehem. There were no fireworks illuminating the evening sky as is the custom during the end of Ramadan. The only light that came during Eid was from the candles that Palestinians lit in Bethlehem’s Aida refugee camp in memory of the some 200 children that were killed by the Israeli army in Gaza during the now 23-day onslaught.

On Tuesday, the second day of Eid, I walked into a fruit market in BeitSahour, a suburb of Bethlehem, expecting to see people buying fruits and vegetables by the armload for the second day of feasting. Three people lingered, haphazardly picking vegetables, their eyes glued to the television set on the wall above them.

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US government funding another anti-Castro social network in Cuba

ZunZuneo, the so-called 'Cuban Twitter,' was reported in April but actually closed in 2012. Now meet Piramideo, a mobile network aimed at young people.
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A Cuban boy uses his mobile phone next to a poster of Cuban former President Fidel Castro in June 2010 in Havana. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

HAVANA, Cuba — The US government is using a sophisticated cell phone program in a failed effort to spark anti-Castro demonstrations on the island, according to Cuban officials and a US expert.

The US Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB) sponsors a cell phone service called "Piramideo" (roughly translated as Pyramid), which spreads propaganda through text messages, according to Nestor Garcia, a former Cuban diplomat who now teaches at the Institute for International Relations in Havana.

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Legal restrictions lead to 'DIY abortions' in Texas and Argentina alike

As Texas limits access to abortion, it is walking down a road well-tread by Argentina, where abortion is illegal but half a million women still terminate their pregnancies each year.
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Supporters of Texas women's right to reproductive decisions rally at the Texas State Capitol on July 1, 2013 in Austin, Texas. It was the first day of a second legislative special session called by Texas Gov. Rick Perry to pass an restrictive abortion law through the Texas legislature. The first attempt was defeated after opponents of the law were able to stall the vote until after first special session had ended. (Erich Schlegel/AFP/Getty Images)

HOUSTON, Texas and BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — The plane descended and just beyond the city limits, the clouds gave way to a view of the expansive territory Texas is known for. We had landed, the flight attendant announced, in Houston — the most populous city in the Lone Star State.

We were on our way from Boston to Buenos Aires, where we will be reporting for the next two weeks on the country’s high abortion rate and the legal and religious institutions that surround it.

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The end of Brazil's World Cup brings the death of a protest

Almost exactly a year ago, swarms of Brazilians protested against the government. But as the World Cup got underway the streets saw more police officers than protesters, and hardly anybody noticed.
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About 30 demonstrators rally at the bus terminal in Brasilia on June 30, 2014 during the France vs Nigeria World Cup match in a protest organized by the Free Pass Movement (MPL), and the People's Committee of the Cup demanding, free transportation in the Federal District. (EDILSON RODRIGUES/AFP/Getty Images)

BRASILIA, Brazil — The chanting began as it would on any day during the World Cup — a group of Brazilians, some wearing jerseys, some banging large drums, singing in unison before the match kicked off.

Except they weren’t at the match, and they weren’t going. Their yellow jerseys weren’t for Brazil’s team — they read “VIOLATION” on the back, and displayed the number 0. And most important, their chants weren’t about soccer. Instead, anyone in the middle of the large bus station in Brasilia heard:

“If the World Cup is not for me, I will go to the streets!”

Go to the streets they did, about 50 of them, marching with a giant World Cup trophy wrapped in tarp and chanting slurs at FIFA as they walked toward the brand-new stadium in the capital. On this Monday afternoon, Brazil’s team was warming up inside to play Cameroon in the final match of the group stage — what seems like a lifetime ago before the country descended into mourning after Germany stomped on their dreams.

Vanessa Minnie surveyed the crowd. She had expected more people to show up, for one of the bigger protests planned during the Cup. Almost exactly a year ago, swarms of Brazilians protested against the government, and the rage felt contagious. They lit tires on fire in front of the stadium. They were interviewed by journalists from around the world. They told them that the billions of dollars spent to create the World Cup wasn’t helping Brazil with its major shortcomings in public education, health care, and transportation. Their message was getting through.

But on this day there were more police officers than protesters, and hardly anybody noticed.

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Environmental impact of Alberta tar sands 'horrible,' expert says (PHOTOS)

Part Two: With government oversight in question and toxins piling up, residents say they are being poisoned and disempowered.


Large blocks of sulphur, a byproduct of upgrading oil sands at Syncrude Mildred Lake site, near Ft. McMurray, Alberta, Canada. (Alex MacLean/GlobalPost)

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Flying over Alberta's tar sands, evidence of wealth and destruction (PHOTOS)

Part One: A trillion dollars' worth of heavy crude has attracted the world's oil titans to western Canada. They're making a mess.


Gas flares at the Suncor Oil Sands Mining Site. (Alex MacLean/GlobalPost)

FORT MCMURRAY, Alberta, Canada — Violet Clarke’s home sits virtually in the center of the vast Athabasca tar sands, a colossal deposit of extremely heavy crude oil in the western Canadian province of Alberta.

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Announcing the Galloway Reporting Fellowship on Human Rights in Africa

Three journalists will be selected to report on human rights in one or more African countries. Applications are due August 15.
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Civil activists demonstrate on November 21, 2013 in Nairobi, Kenya outside parliament over two bills they say curb hard-won freedoms, muzzle government critics and undermine democracy. (Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images)

BOSTON — The Galloway Family Foundation will award three talented reporting fellows the opportunity to work collaboratively under the editorial direction of The GroundTruth Project to carry out a series of human rights-related assignments in Africa to be published on GlobalPost.

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Amid election protests, Afghans wary of ethnic conflict

The protests, so far peaceful, are threatening the legitimacy of what could be Afghanistan’s first democratic transition of power.
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Supporters of Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah shout slogans during a demonstration in Kabul on June 27, 2014. Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah led thousands of demonstrators at a noisy rally through Kabul on June 27, upping the stakes in his protest against alleged election fraud that has triggered a political crisis. (SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)

KABUL, Afghanistan — A dispute over recent elections is raising fears of a return to ethnic infighting in Afghanistan, where supporters of one disgruntled candidate on Friday staged the largest protests yet in a weeklong series of demonstrations.

Chanting, “our vote is our honor” as a call to rally, thousands of supporters of presidential hopeful Abdullah Abdullah marched from early morning to gather in a downtown avenue housing ministries and the president’s palace.

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Boat refugees to Italian government: 'Sorry if we failed to die at sea'

An unprecedented number of Eritreans are escaping one of the most terrifying regimes in the world, then finding little sympathy in Italy.
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A woman demonstrates in front of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, the Montecitorio Palace, to protest against human rights violations and call for democracy in Eritrea in October 2013. (Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images)

ROME — On a recent morning, a group of roughly 40 men and women from Eritrea gather in Rome’s central Piazza della Repubblica to ask the government for help. After struggling for over a year to find a job, shelter and assistance navigating an immigration system that has broken under the weight of record boat migrant landings and bureaucratic mismanagement, it has come to this.

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