Jasmine Garsd | KUOW News and Information

Jasmine Garsd

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Back in 2014, archivists were combing through Pablo Neruda's files when they came upon some previously unpublished works.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.

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In New York, a state Supreme Court justice has thrown out pop star Kesha's claims against her producer Dr. Luke. The singer accused him of sexual abuse that violated the state's hate crime laws. NPR's Jasmine Garsd reports.

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.

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.

There's a place in the city of Tijuana, Mexico, called El Bordo, which has always been somewhat reminiscent of a post-apocalyptic movie scene. The name comes from "the border," which is where it's located: right by the fence that separates the U.S. from Mexico, among the enormous paved canals that run through Southern California like concrete veins. Hundreds of people live in those canals, often in makeshift tents, the smell of sewage made ripe by the hot Tijuana sun. It's a place where many deportees try to get by. It's also a site of heavy drug use.

On a weekday morning, in an upscale area of Arlington, Va., the suburban silence is as thick as the foliage save for the hum of a leaf blower or an occasional car. In one of the homes, Sheba Velasco is thinking of snacks for the children. She's their nanny.

Then the phone rings.

Thousands of miles to the west, it's very early in the morning, and a young man has been caught trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border.

"First of all" Velasco begins, "may I ask that he is from Nebaj? He speaks Ixil?"

The week she turned 15, Rosi got an amazing birthday present. She was in a government shelter in New York.

And then her father walked in. It was the first time she'd seen him in almost four years.

"He brought me a big cake as a present. It was vanilla," she says.

"She was wearing jeans, tennis shoes, and this little collared blouse," her father remembers, laughing.

It's been a year since thousands of unaccompanied minors surged into the U.S., overwhelming some school districts. These children, many of whom don't speak English and have lived through violence, trauma and abuse, pose a serious challenge to schools. Some districts weren't ready. Oakland, Calif., was.

It was spring of 2014, well before the headlines had begun, when teachers at Oakland Unified realized something was wrong. A lot of students were missing class regularly — and not just playing hooky.

Warning: Some of the depictions and images in this story are graphic.

Violence is rampant in El Salvador. In the month of August alone, there were 900 homicides. That's a daily average of 30 murders in a country with a population of 6.3 million — less than New York City.

At least 35 of those murders have been officially ruled feminicides — a crime involving the violent and deliberate killing of a woman.

Women have historically been told their place is in the kitchen — but not as chefs: According to statistics from the U.S. Labor Department, to this day, only about 20 percent of chefs are women.

It all harks back to the fact that being a chef was not as glamorous as it is today, says Deborah Harris, a sociology professor at Texas State University whose new book, Taking The Heat, explores the issue.

All over the country, high school graduates are making the jump to college. They're getting to know their roommates, buying supplies, and saying tearful goodbyes to parents.

It's a stressful time for any family, but consider this: For the growing number of students dealing with mental health issues, it can be a terrifying transition. Sometimes, it raises the question: Is college really an option?

That's the case with Luis, a bright young man from Virginia with a brain injury and bipolar disorder.

One of history's greatest engineering feats is one you rarely hear of. It's the Inca Road, parts of which still exist today across much of South America.

Back in the day — more than 500 years ago — commoners like me wouldn't have been able to walk on the Inca Road, known as Qhapaq Ñan in the Quechua language spoken by the Inca, without official permission.

It's election season at Canaan Elementary's second grade, in Patchogue, N.Y., and tensions are running high. Today is speech day, and right now it's Chris Palaez's turn.

The 8-year-old is the joker of the class. With a thick mohawk and a mischievous glimmer in his dark eyes, he seems like the kind of kid who would be unfazed by public speaking.

But he's nervous.

Updated June 4 at 11:30 a.m. ET

Nobody expects an internship to make one rich — but for many, the entire experience has become simply unattainable.

It's after hours at Rafael Hernandez, an elementary school in the Bronx, and Room 421 is in an uproar.

It's what you would expect from a sixth-grade sex education class learning how to put a condom on.

Sex education: The very concept makes a lot of people cringe, conjuring images of teenage giggles and discomfort. It's also a subject a lot of teachers would rather avoid.

But Bronx-based teacher Lena Solow is more than happy to talk about the birds, the bees ... and beyond.

Students applying for college supply all sorts of information — financial records, letters of recommendation, the personal essay — to name just a few.

One big question they face: Do you have a criminal record?

The question appears on the Common Application — the website that prospective students use to apply to more than 500 schools across the U.S. and abroad.

Most students don't even think about it. But for some applicants, it's a reason not to apply.

On a gusty Friday evening in Manhattan's Union Square Park, Francisco Ramirez is setting up his chairs and a big sign that yells, "FREE ADVICE."

The park is packed with street musicians, chain-smoking chess players and preachers yelling predictions

Ramirez just wants to talk.

For most college students May is a happy month: the senior class graduates and summer vacation beckons. But at Sweet Briar College, a women's college in western Virginia, there's little celebration this spring.

The board of directors says declining enrollment leaves them no choice: Classes ended this week for the year and forever.

Walking through Sweet Briar's campus feels a bit like stepping into a 19th century romance novel — lush green hills, chanting cicadas and colorful chirping birds. But this spring, an air of sadness sours the humid southern air.

In the 1920s, Aurora Orozco crossed over from Mexico to Texas — a child of African descent who spoke not a word of English. She was an uneasy transplant.

Many years later, in an essay published in 1999, she recalled attitudes towards students who were caught speaking Spanish in school: "My teacher, Mrs. White, would make me stay after class. With a red rubber band, she would hit my poor hands until they nearly bled."

Laina Morris is the real person behind the Internet meme known as the "Overly Attached Girlfriend." She has deftly exploited her Internet fame, turning a spoof entry to a Justin Bieber contest into a full-time career of putting comic videos on YouTube.

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