Mexico City Rewards Subway Platform Squats with Free Train Tickets

A new mass transit initiative draws inspiration from high school gym class in the fight against a nationwide obesity epidemic.

There are plenty of reasons to take public mass transportation: It’s convenient, it’s cheap, it’s environmentally friendly. But for residents of one of the most crowded cities on earth, there’s another reason to take the municipal subway system: To get in shape.

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Street Artists Transform Community Devastated by Violence Into a Colorful, City-Wide Mural

Drugs and gangs were destroying the Mexican city of Palmitas. So the government decided to fight back—with paint.

El Chapo’s escape might have been a great source of Tweetable entertainment for many Americans, but the country of Mexico continues to struggle with violence. Over 60,000 people, many of them young people, have died due to drug-related violence in just the last decade alone. That’s why the Mexican government recently came up with a small and imaginative solution. In the city of Palmitas, the government hired local street artists “Germen Crew” to repaint 209 houses—that’s 20,000 square meters of façade—and turn an entire town into a big, beautiful, rainbow mural.

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Legal Weed Cuts Into Cartel Activity

Drops in trafficking and violence correspond to the rise of taxed-and-regulated marijuana in the U.S.

Photo by Dank Depot via Flickr

Score one for the stoners. While the failing drug warriors of American law enforcement waste their time feeding ever more of their fellow citizens into a cruel and pointless prison system, the exact opposite approach—legalization—is taking a bite out of drug-related crime. Time reports that the legalization of marijuana in states like Washington and Colorado, as well as the expansion of medical weed laws and softening of penalties in other states, is stymieing the ability of violent Mexican cartels to profit off the plant. While these organizations are still importing harder drugs, marijuana trafficking and correlated violence are down. According to Time:

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7 Places Where Citizens Got Loud in 2014

Here’s why this was the year of the protest.

In recent years, amid the rise of social media and online petitions, it’s been easy to feel like the transformative and successful movements of the past century—the civil rights movement, anti-apartheid protests, and anti-Vietnam War protests—were destined to become relics of history. However, if there was ever a year to debunk the claims of “slacktivism” and “armchair activism” that have proliferated during the internet era, 2014 was it.

In many ways, the anti-government protests in Turkey and the anti-sexual harassment protests in India in 2013 hinted at the groundswell of protests that would follow from West Africa to Eastern Europe to Central America. Protesters boldly challenged entire governments, hegemonies, and systemic injustices in discrete ways that somehow felt greater than the sum of their grievances. Though not all were nonviolent, most of the protests demonstrated an impassioned form of civic engagement that will leave indelible imprints upon the history books of the future.

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Honoring the Dead By Feeding Them

Understanding the food-filled altars of Día de los Muertos

You may not have noticed, but the elaborate Día de los Muertos altars that pop up this time of year are full of really good-looking (and presumably good-tasting) food. They’re loaded with freshly baked pan de muerto (an anise-and-cinnamon-spiced sweet bread baked only at this time of the year—and exclusively for this purpose), platters brimming with things like dark mole made from scratch, and piles of ripe fruit. Not to mention unopened bottles of the beers, wines, and spirits that deceased honorees liked to drink when they were alive.

Fruit, aromatic pan de muerto (sweet, spongy, egg bread baked with cinnamon, anise, and citrus zest), and nicuatole (a milk custard gelatinized with toasted corn powder) are essential altar treats.

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A Stunning Visualization of the War on Drugs

How do you visualize the cost of the War on Drugs?

How do you visualize the cost of the war on drugs? sought to find the answer with their interactive WebGL project, “Visualizing the Drug Economy,” which shows the financial and social costs for America’s drug war at scale. (Editor's note: this is only viewable using Firefox and Chrome browsers). One part of the graphic depicts the annual use of cocaine as a giant pile on a football field. The Statue of Liberty, placed to the right for reference, might need to pick up her robes a little to avoid getting it powdered in white. The pile is substantially larger than a house.

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