How Christians Observe Good Friday Around the World

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What’s This?

2014-04-19 00:45:12 UTC

Before the celebration of a resurrection on Easter, Christians pay respect and remember sacrifice.

In the Christian faith, Good Friday — the Friday before Easter Sunday — marks the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and the last day of Holy Week, or Jesus’ last week of earthly life.

From Palestine to Port-au-Prince, Christians commemorated the life of Jesus by taking to the streets in parades on Friday, some more solemn in their remembrance and others more joyous celebrations of the resurrection. In Rome, Pope Francis led a torch-lit procession of tens of thousands at the Colosseum, known as the Way of the Cross — remembering “desperate migrants, suicidal failed business owners, battered women, torture victims and all people suffering in the world.”

Thousands of Christian pilgrims also took to the streets of Jerusalem in a procession known as Via Dolorosa. In cities such as London, Manila and Gauhati, India, devotees re-enacted the crucifixion, in a visceral and startling representation of the event told in the New Testament of the Bible.

Check out 20 photos, below, of these worldwide celebrations and remembrances:

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Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

Topics: Catholic, Easter, Holy Bible, jesus, Religion, spirituality, US & World, World

Finally, Someone Acts Like An Adult: District Attorney Drops Charges Against Bullied Teen Who Recorded His Tormentors

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South Fayette School in Pennsylvania, along with a complicit criminal justice system, recently made headlines with its groundbreaking anti-bullying program, which apparently deters bullying by punishing bullied students.

Here’s a short recap:

A bullied student used an iPad to make an audio recording of other students abusing him. He brought this to school administration who a) called in a police officer (after being advised by its legal team that this might be a violation of the state’s wiretapping law) and b) deleted the recording.

The police officer, unable to actually bring a felony charge against the minor, settled for disorderly conduct. This charge brought him before a judge, who first stated her firm belief in the school’s inability to do wrong before finding him guilty.

Throughout the entire debacle, not a single person involved even considered the possibility that the student had committed no crime or the fact that he had followed all of the school’s prescribed steps for reporting bullying incidents. Instead, the desire to punish someone was obliged every step of the way.

Finally, someone within the justice system has chosen to act like an adult, rather than a bunch of clique-y, vindictive children.

Stanfield (the student) had announced that he and his attorney would file an appeal to that ruling but his fight may already be coming to an end. Today, Benswann.com has been told by Stanfield’s attorney that the District Attorney will allow the appeal to go forward but will no longer pursue this case.

More specifically, both the wiretapping charge (which was apparently still brought despite the involved officer’s statement otherwise) and the disorderly conduct charge (which the judge found the student guilty of) were dropped.

A wiretapping charge against a South Fayette High School student who recorded two classmates bullying him has been dropped by the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office.

Mike Manko, a spokesman for District Attorney Stephen Zappala, said Judge Robert Gallo signed an order Thursday to withdraw the citation against 15-year-old Christian Stanfield.

“No one in our office who is authorized to give advice on wiretap issues or school conduct issues was ever contacted in this matter. We have made multiple attempts to contact the officer who wrote the citation and (the) results have been unsuccessful,” Manko said in a written statement. “We do not believe this behavior rises to the level of a citation.”

Odd that a police officer wouldn’t talk to a district attorney. Unless, of course, a little bit of hindsight made him realize his every move fell between vindictive and buffoonish. Lt. Murka, who apparently considered both wiretapping and disorderly conduct to be appropriate “remedies” for a bullied student recording his tormentors, seems to have recused himself from the public eye. Manko, speaking for the DA, hits the heart of the issue — one simple sentence that any of those involved could have deployed to call an end to this ridiculous situation before it ended up in front of a judge: “We do not believe this behavior rises to the level of a citation.”

The school has now gone on record to declare it’s everyone else who’s wrong:

The South Fayette Township School District wishes to address recent reports in the local and national media concerning a student of the South Fayette Township School District. It is to be noted that certain information being disseminated by the media is inaccurate and/or incomplete.

Rather than clear up what exactly was “inaccurate and/or incomplete” about the reporting, it instead has chosen to hide behind “confidentiality.”

The School District is legally precluded from commenting specifically in regard to these reports as the issue involves a confidential student matter.

Considering the story has been all over the news, it seems a bit weak to claim the matter is still “confidential.” It would seem it could comment on any of the specifics already in the public domain. The story has gone nationwide, so it’s disingenuous to pretend it’s still a “confidential” matter.

While it’s nice that the DA has dropped the charges and allowed the student to proceed through school without criminal charges hanging over his head, one wonders if this same outcome would have forthcoming without the attendant public outcry. Any adult can start acting like one with enough public shaming. But the application of a little common sense would have averted this incident completely.

A bit more troubling is one of the suggestions that escaped the lips of a local politician who showed up to the teen’s “not a criminal” celebration.

State lawmaker Jesse White joined the rally, telling Stanfield he wants to name a law after him. He said it would close the loophole in the wiretapping law and allow victims of bullying to record it as proof for police and school officials.

His opportunistic heart’s in the right place, but naming laws after people often indicates the new law is a bad one. This isn’t an issue where a new law will fix things. This is an issue where no one in this chain of events showing the courage (and common sense) to stand up and ask why they were punishing a bullied kid for recording bullies.

Counterforce Protests Tech Using Tech

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Rising income inequality is quickly becoming the most prevalent issue of our century, “the defining challenge of our time,” according to President Obama. No where is this more acute than in San Francisco, where rents growing at 3 times the national average are squeezing out the lower and middle classes in favor of tech workers who can pay astronomical housing prices.

This widening gap between the haves and the have nots is leading to protests, and the tech industry, though not responsible for all these ills, has proved itself an easy target. Some protest groups like Heart of the City have targeted Google Buses and their routes, while the ominous-sounding Counterforce has gone the route of earmarking accessible members of the tech community in order to leverage these people’s media reach.

There is probably no tech employee more accessible than Google Ventures’ Kevin Rose, and thus the Counterforce found their hook, showing up to his house two Sundays ago with “Kevin Rose Parasite” banners. The group, which is starkly anti-tech, recorded the extremely awkward conversation on an Android phone (“we have no choice”), and leaked the full video to tech blog The Verge. This doesn’t exactly reinforce their credibility.

The entire banal exchange evokes the Upton Sinclair quote, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” Screen Shot 2014-04-18 at 5.08.06 PM

Get Well, Craig Sager: 5 of His Sweetest Suits

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What’s This?

The 2014 NBA playoffs will miss Craig Sager. TNT’s star sideline reporter is out for the postseason to undergo treatment for leukemia.

Sager’s son announced on Twitter on Thursday night that his father would begin treatment for acute leukemia on Friday. Sager is well-known to many fans thanks to the ostentatious, eye-popping suits he wears during TNT broadcasts.

But his journalism roots go deep; it was Sager, for example, who sprinted onto the field to interview Hank Aaron in 1974 as the baseball legend rounded the bases after breaking Babe Ruth’s MLB home run record.

Basketball fans have expressed a mountain of sympathy for Sager and his children on Twitter, proving how significant a part of the basketball fan experience he’s become over the past several years. Sager’s named was mentioned 24,000 times on Twitter in the day following his son’s announcement. He’ll be missed during this year’s NBA playoffs, which begin Saturday, and we hope he’s able to make a full recovery.

It’s not much, but we’ll honor the man here with a brief look at Sager rocking the mic in five of his sweetest signature suits.

1. Pristine in plaid, 2013

WadeSager

Craig Sager interviews Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat after the game against the Chicago Bulls in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2013 NBA Playoffs on May 15, 2013 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida.

Image: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

2. Adventurous in aquamarine, 2013

BronSager

LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat is interviewed by Craig Sager of the TNT during the NBA All-Star Practice in Sprint Arena at Jam Session at Jam Session during NBA All Star Weekend on February 16, 2013 at the George R. Brown in Houston, Texas.

Image: Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

3. Pretty in pink, 2009

ShaqSager

Shaquille O’Neal of the Western Conference is interviewed by TNT’s Craig Sager of the Eastern Conference during the 58th NBA All-Star Game, part of 2009 NBA All-Star Weekend, at US Airways Center on February 15, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Image: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images

4. Marvelous in magenta, 2013

SpoSager

Head Coach Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat is interviewed by Craig Sager while his team plays against the Indiana Pacers in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2013 NBA Playoffs on May 30, 2013 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida.

Image: Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images

5. Understated but still out of hand, 2007

CannonSager

Entertainer Nick Cannon interviews Craig Sager at Jam Session during NBA All Star Weekend on February 17, 2007 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Image: Gregory Shamus/NBAE via Getty Images

Topics: Entertainment, NBA, Pics, Sports

Image: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

White House Declines To Deport Bieber, Pivots To Immigration Reform In Its Official Response

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TechCrunch squinted slightly when the White House petition to deport the Canadian Justin Bieber passed the 100,000-signature mark, the minimum threshold to warrant an official response. (At that time, TechCrunch offered to help build a catapult to assist in completing the expulsion.)

The White House today responded to the petition with a dodge:

Thanks for your petition and your participation in We the People.

Sorry to disappoint, but we won’t be commenting on this one.

Hardly a surprise. (The White House did link to this Time piece that details why sending Biebs home would not be a simple task, legally.) But given that no moment can be wasted in politics, the White House quickly pivoted in its response to a discussion of immigration reform.

On a different note, the “Pardon Edward Snowden” petition, which collected more than 150,000 signatures during its open period, still lacks an official response. Surprise.

Immigration reform, comprehensive or otherwise, is showing signs of life again in Congress. Speaker of the House John Boehner claims to be “hellbent” on getting something passed, but House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and the president can’t agree about what they spoke about on the phone. The Senate plan, passed previously, is dead in the House as it won’t be brought up for a vote. And it isn’t clear if the Senate has any appetite to take up House-passed — provided the House can pass something at all — legislation that would tackle immigration by parts, and not all at once.

A small potential glimmer for the techies: If the House does manage to pass smaller, bite-sized immigration fixes, high-skill immigration reform could find itself decoupled from larger immigration reform. That would raise its chances, albeit in a minor way — from oh-so-slim to not-quite-as-oh-so-slim — of passing this year.

IMAGE BY FLICKR USER  Sean Hayford O’Leary UNDER CC BY 2.0 LICENSE (IMAGE HAS BEEN CROPPED)

Climbing Mount Everest Will Always Be Dangerous

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What’s This?

EverestA climber prepares to descend the Hillary Step as he makes his way down from the summit of Mount Everest.

Image: Alpenglow Expeditions, Adrian Ballinger/Associated Press

Deaths at Mount Everest are not particularly common, but they’re far from rare, and they will continue to happen so long as people continue to ascend the world’s tallest mountain.

Friday’s tragedy — an avalanche that killed 13 Nepalese climbers, caused others to go missing and trapped nearly one hundred others above a snowdrift — is exceptionally grievous. It is the most devastating accident to ever take place on Everest, but so long as more and more climbers try to conquer the mountain with each passing year, deaths will continue to happen.

Since people began trying, around 250 have perished trying to ascend the mountain. That’s about one death for every 10 successful ascents. And the dangers are public knowledge. Outside Magazine regularly chronicles the trials of those who take up the challenge, and even listed the “top 10 tragedies,” back in 2012.

One of those was an avalanche on June 7, 1922, that killed seven climbers. Another took place in March of 1996 when a sudden, yet powerful, storm killed eight climbers. That event — Everest’s worst until Friday — was made famous by Jon Krakauer’s book Into Thin Air.

Climbing professionals told Mashable it would be wrong to classify those who attempt Everest as reckless thrill-seekers, especially since so much about planning to ascend a dangerous mountain is about mitigating risk. But there can be significant risk when luck turns against a climber, and those experts acknowledge that the danger isn’t always preventable.

“Regardless of how much preparation you put into a trip, these things may just get you because you’re there at the wrong time,” Dale Remsberg, the technical director for the American Mountain Guides Association, told Mashable. He counsels his climbers to avoid the term “safe,” because he knows climbing a mountain is more about managing risk than eliminating it. And what climbers can prepare for starts before the ascension begins.

“It comes down to being physically prepared, mentally prepared, emotionally prepared and knowing what you can expect,” Erik Lambert, information and marketing director for The American Alpine Club, told Mashable. The vast majority of climbers who ascend Everest have guides, but the guides can only do so much if the person they’re leading up a 29,002-foot mountain is not in great shape.

Satellite imagery, weather-tracking equipment and scouts who have been on climbing routes in the weeks ahead of a major climb can all be used to predict conditions ahead of time, according to Remsberg. Then, once the climb starts, it’s about limiting the amount of time climbers are at risk.

Certain portions of climbing routes are especially life-threatening. There’s no way around that. Sometimes people must ascend through patches prone to avalanches or caverns where giant, sharp icicles dangle overhead. If something triggers an avalanche while a group of people is trudging through a dangerous zone, survival becomes luck-of-the-draw.

But Remsberg said groups can plan a climb so that a limited number of people travel through dangerous areas at the same time. That way, if an avalanche or a storm hits, the entire group is not at risk.

“Even with that process in place and planning, they’re still going to have a route that goes through hazardous terrain,” Remsberg said. “By no means can all the risks be managed.”

Lambert agrees.

“I don’t think it’ll ever be 100% safe,” he said. “You’re dealing with the natural world, which is a volatile environment.”

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

Topics: avalanche, death, Mount Everest, Mountain, Travel & Leisure, US & World, World

University Hires Sports Info Director, Fires Him Two Hours Later After Local Paper Googles His Name

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It’s sometimes amazing to me how many organizations have so much trouble with background checks. Granted, there’s a lot to look through, and you don’t want to inadvertently overstep the bounds of reasonableness. That said, it seems to me it’s common practice these days to at least run a name through a Google search and make sure nothing horribly damning comes up as a result. I plan on doing this with my future children, in fact, shortly after I name them, just to make sure they weren’t up to any gangster crap while in the womb.

Actually, given this recent story about the University of Great Falls in Montana involving their hiring of a Sports Information Director and then firing him after a local paper Googled his name, perhaps there’s a business opportunity in all this.

UGF, whose athletic programs compete in the NAIA, introduced [Todd] Brittingham as the school’s new SID and marketing director in a news release. The Great Falls Tribune set out to learn more about him. Presumably they first searched his name. Presumably they found what anyone can find, on the first page of the search results—stories from 2012 about Brittingham pleading guilty to charges stemming from a relationship with a 16-year-old student at the Kansas high school where he was teaching and coaching.

In the end, Brittingham copped a plea to endangering a child and giving alcohol to a minor in exchange for the drop of felony diddling a child charges. Justice! In any case, as you can imagine, the university wasn’t terribly pleased at learning about this and fired Brittingham post-haste.

Gary Ehnes, athletic director at UGF, said he was stunned by the news. He said he was the one responsible for the hire.

“I’m devastated. You do a background check on a guy and figure that’s going to do it. But I guess we have to go further than that,” Ehnes said.

Go further? No, a Google search isn’t going further than a background check, a background check is going further than a Google search. You probably shouldn’t move to step two until you complete step one, especially when step one is the first thing we all do before going on a first date. That’s why I’m thinking of opening Timothy Geigner’s Step One Background Checks. Think of the money! I can contract with unwitting public institutions to perform simple Google searches for prospective employees. Sounds ridiculous, but there’s obviously a need for this service, and for once it’s a business need I can actually fulfill. Capitalism, people!

Deadspin Nobody Has Ever Pimped A Home Run As Hard As This Guy Did | Gizmodo Clever Crook Uses Heat

Deadspin Nobody Has Ever Pimped A Home Run As Hard As This Guy Did | Gizmodo Clever Crook Uses Heat

Deadspin Nobody Has Ever Pimped A Home Run As Hard As This Guy Did | Gizmodo Clever Crook Uses Heat

What Can IFTTT Do for You?

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What’s This?

In the latest video of our Mobile Minute series, we discuss the powerful web service IFTTT (“If This Then That”). While IFTTT has been around since 2010, the company has only recently started to work with sensor devices.

IFTTT allows apps to communicate with each other through “recipes”. These recipes are simple conditional statements that can sync with your Facebook, Twitter, and more to create some fun automated actions like texting the weather in the mornings and saving your tagged photos to Dropbox.

Our developer experts are from Mutual Mobile, a leading development and design firm that builds mobile strategies for top companies such as Audi, Google and Citigroup. The team is eager to answer your questions about mobile, so ping us with your top queries on Twitter, using the hashtag #AskaDev. Don’t forget to check out our Ask a Dev YouTube channel and subscribe.

Topics: Apps and Software, Ask A Dev, Dev & Design, Gadgets, IFTTT, mashable video, Mobile, Tech

Ask A VC: Next World Capital’s Ben Fu On Engineer Recruiting Challenges

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In this week’s episode of Ask A VC, we hosted Next World Capital’s Ben Fu in the studio to talk about big data, recruiting and more.

Fu, who has backed Datameer, Datastax, and Good Data among others, talked about the talent crunch, and the challenges founders face when recruiting engineers, especially in the enterprise world.

Check out the video above for more!

Mourning and memories in Garcia Marquez's languid hometown

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ARACATACA Colombia Sat Apr 19, 2014 3:25am IST

Residents look at pictures in front of a museum converted from the house Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez grew up in, at Aracataca April 18, 2014. REUTERS/John Vizcaino

1 of 2. Residents look at pictures in front of a museum converted from the house Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez grew up in, at Aracataca April 18, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/John Vizcaino

ARACATACA Colombia (Reuters) – The sleepy Colombian town that was Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s birthplace and inspired him to write “One Hundred Years of Solitude” mourned its Nobel Prize-winning author on Friday with music, candles and flowers.

A day after Garcia Marquez’s death, his cousin Nicolas Ricardo Arias leafed through dog-eared photographs and recalled with a smile the family reunions on the rare occasions when Aracataca’s famous son returned home.

“I remember him with his whisky and his jokes,” said Arias, 78, on the porch of his humble home in the town near Colombia’s Caribbean coast. “This is a very special day of sadness and memories … Today we will just remember Gabriel.”

Garcia Marquez, who died at his home in Mexico City on Thursday, spent the first years of his life in Aracataca and drew on it for some of the characters and tales in his masterpiece “One Hundred Years of Solitude”.

Dozens of mourners gathered on Friday at a shrine of flowers and candles on the piece of land where he was born. Musicians played guitar and sang ballads commemorating his life.

“We heard he had died, and we rushed right here,” said one resident, Sara Parodis, as she made cut-out yellow butterflies, a tribute to the swarms of butterflies that appeared in the classic novel whenever one character’s forbidden lover arrived.

“This is the end of a very important era,” Parodis said, pinning one of her butterflies on the lapel of a mourner.

“One Hundred Years of Solitude” tells the epic, dream-like story of seven generations of the Buendia family in the fictional town of Macondo, based largely on Aracataca.

Garcia Marquez said he drew on the stories that his grandmother told him when he was a child, laced with folklore, superstition and the supernatural.

The novel sold over 30 million copies, helped Garcia Marquez win the 1982 Nobel Prize for Literature and popularized the genre of magical realism. In it, characters are visited by ghosts, a plague of insomnia envelops Macondo, a priest levitates above the ground and the child of an incestuous couple is born with a pig’s tail.

FADED MAGIC

It made Aracataca famous and drew literary pilgrims hoping to absorb some of the bewitching energy he wrote about.

But there is little magic in the Aracataca of today, and it retains no evidence of the banana wealth which washed over northern Colombia in the early 20th century.

Concrete buildings have replaced the elegant wooden homes and offices set up by plantation owners, political slogans splash the walls and residents sit on street corners sipping beer and complaining that the government has failed to harness the opportunity that Garcia Marquez’s fame brought.

A wooden replica of his grandparents’ home seeks to create a sense of the past. His comments are displayed on giant posters above his bed and at the dining room table plates are laid out as if waiting for him to join the family for dinner.

Photos show the appalling conditions endured by workers at a nearby banana plantation that led to a 1928 strike and the massacre of thousands. He portrayed the slaughter in “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and used the real name of the military officer who led the attack, General Cortes Vargas, the only historically accurate name in the entire novel.

Since Garcia Marquez’s death on Thursday, tributes have poured in from U.S. President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton and poets, presidents and pop stars from across Latin America. He was the region’s most famous and beloved author, known affectionately as “Gabo”.

“When someone like him writes that way, he ties you to them like a brother and makes you love him as if you had known him,” Arturo Covarrubias, a 46-year-old mariachi musician, said at a book fair in Mexico City on Friday.

“The work of men like him is immortal,” Cuban President Raul Castro said. Garcia Marquez, a leftist who flirted with communism, was a decades-long friend of Cuba’s revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, Raul’s older brother.

In Aracataca, residents are clearly proud of their native son but some feel he could have done more to ease poverty here.

“He brought nothing at all to the town. We have his house, and a few murals, but nothing much else,” said Osvaldo Bergara, selling water on a street corner close to the house.

But others, like his cousin Nicolas, say Garcia Marquez is not to blame and that local corruption has sapped the town of its potential.

“It’s totally unfair, he gave and the administration took it and did nothing,” Arias said, pointing to the muddy road that floods his home during storms. “We don’t even have drainage. It’s the government that should pay for this, not Gabo.”

“He would ask me ‘How is Aracataca?’ And I would tell him: ‘It’s abandoned.’ That made him sad.”

Garcia Marquez left Aracataca to attend high school and never lived there again, though he visited occasionally.

While Aracataca’s past glories have faded, residents still remember their own grandparents’ tales of years ago.

“My grandmother told me of the music and dancing in the square, of the plantation owners who would come by, and Gabo and his visits,” said Parodis. “The memories are from another time.”

(Additional reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb in Bogota and Noe Torres and David Alire Garcia in Mexico City; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Kieran Murray)

Mourning and memories in Garcia Marquez's languid hometown

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ARACATACA Colombia Sat Apr 19, 2014 3:25am IST

Residents look at pictures in front of a museum converted from the house Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez grew up in, at Aracataca April 18, 2014. REUTERS/John Vizcaino

1 of 2. Residents look at pictures in front of a museum converted from the house Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez grew up in, at Aracataca April 18, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/John Vizcaino

ARACATACA Colombia (Reuters) – The sleepy Colombian town that was Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s birthplace and inspired him to write “One Hundred Years of Solitude” mourned its Nobel Prize-winning author on Friday with music, candles and flowers.

A day after Garcia Marquez’s death, his cousin Nicolas Ricardo Arias leafed through dog-eared photographs and recalled with a smile the family reunions on the rare occasions when Aracataca’s famous son returned home.

“I remember him with his whisky and his jokes,” said Arias, 78, on the porch of his humble home in the town near Colombia’s Caribbean coast. “This is a very special day of sadness and memories … Today we will just remember Gabriel.”

Garcia Marquez, who died at his home in Mexico City on Thursday, spent the first years of his life in Aracataca and drew on it for some of the characters and tales in his masterpiece “One Hundred Years of Solitude”.

Dozens of mourners gathered on Friday at a shrine of flowers and candles on the piece of land where he was born. Musicians played guitar and sang ballads commemorating his life.

“We heard he had died, and we rushed right here,” said one resident, Sara Parodis, as she made cut-out yellow butterflies, a tribute to the swarms of butterflies that appeared in the classic novel whenever one character’s forbidden lover arrived.

“This is the end of a very important era,” Parodis said, pinning one of her butterflies on the lapel of a mourner.

“One Hundred Years of Solitude” tells the epic, dream-like story of seven generations of the Buendia family in the fictional town of Macondo, based largely on Aracataca.

Garcia Marquez said he drew on the stories that his grandmother told him when he was a child, laced with folklore, superstition and the supernatural.

The novel sold over 30 million copies, helped Garcia Marquez win the 1982 Nobel Prize for Literature and popularized the genre of magical realism. In it, characters are visited by ghosts, a plague of insomnia envelops Macondo, a priest levitates above the ground and the child of an incestuous couple is born with a pig’s tail.

FADED MAGIC

It made Aracataca famous and drew literary pilgrims hoping to absorb some of the bewitching energy he wrote about.

But there is little magic in the Aracataca of today, and it retains no evidence of the banana wealth which washed over northern Colombia in the early 20th century.

Concrete buildings have replaced the elegant wooden homes and offices set up by plantation owners, political slogans splash the walls and residents sit on street corners sipping beer and complaining that the government has failed to harness the opportunity that Garcia Marquez’s fame brought.

A wooden replica of his grandparents’ home seeks to create a sense of the past. His comments are displayed on giant posters above his bed and at the dining room table plates are laid out as if waiting for him to join the family for dinner.

Photos show the appalling conditions endured by workers at a nearby banana plantation that led to a 1928 strike and the massacre of thousands. He portrayed the slaughter in “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and used the real name of the military officer who led the attack, General Cortes Vargas, the only historically accurate name in the entire novel.

Since Garcia Marquez’s death on Thursday, tributes have poured in from U.S. President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton and poets, presidents and pop stars from across Latin America. He was the region’s most famous and beloved author, known affectionately as “Gabo”.

“When someone like him writes that way, he ties you to them like a brother and makes you love him as if you had known him,” Arturo Covarrubias, a 46-year-old mariachi musician, said at a book fair in Mexico City on Friday.

“The work of men like him is immortal,” Cuban President Raul Castro said. Garcia Marquez, a leftist who flirted with communism, was a decades-long friend of Cuba’s revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, Raul’s older brother.

In Aracataca, residents are clearly proud of their native son but some feel he could have done more to ease poverty here.

“He brought nothing at all to the town. We have his house, and a few murals, but nothing much else,” said Osvaldo Bergara, selling water on a street corner close to the house.

But others, like his cousin Nicolas, say Garcia Marquez is not to blame and that local corruption has sapped the town of its potential.

“It’s totally unfair, he gave and the administration took it and did nothing,” Arias said, pointing to the muddy road that floods his home during storms. “We don’t even have drainage. It’s the government that should pay for this, not Gabo.”

“He would ask me ‘How is Aracataca?’ And I would tell him: ‘It’s abandoned.’ That made him sad.”

Garcia Marquez left Aracataca to attend high school and never lived there again, though he visited occasionally.

While Aracataca’s past glories have faded, residents still remember their own grandparents’ tales of years ago.

“My grandmother told me of the music and dancing in the square, of the plantation owners who would come by, and Gabo and his visits,” said Parodis. “The memories are from another time.”

(Additional reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb in Bogota and Noe Torres and David Alire Garcia in Mexico City; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Kieran Murray)

Mourning and memories in Garcia Marquez's languid hometown

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ARACATACA Colombia Sat Apr 19, 2014 3:25am IST

Residents look at pictures in front of a museum converted from the house Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez grew up in, at Aracataca April 18, 2014. REUTERS/John Vizcaino

1 of 2. Residents look at pictures in front of a museum converted from the house Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez grew up in, at Aracataca April 18, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/John Vizcaino

ARACATACA Colombia (Reuters) – The sleepy Colombian town that was Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s birthplace and inspired him to write “One Hundred Years of Solitude” mourned its Nobel Prize-winning author on Friday with music, candles and flowers.

A day after Garcia Marquez’s death, his cousin Nicolas Ricardo Arias leafed through dog-eared photographs and recalled with a smile the family reunions on the rare occasions when Aracataca’s famous son returned home.

“I remember him with his whisky and his jokes,” said Arias, 78, on the porch of his humble home in the town near Colombia’s Caribbean coast. “This is a very special day of sadness and memories … Today we will just remember Gabriel.”

Garcia Marquez, who died at his home in Mexico City on Thursday, spent the first years of his life in Aracataca and drew on it for some of the characters and tales in his masterpiece “One Hundred Years of Solitude”.

Dozens of mourners gathered on Friday at a shrine of flowers and candles on the piece of land where he was born. Musicians played guitar and sang ballads commemorating his life.

“We heard he had died, and we rushed right here,” said one resident, Sara Parodis, as she made cut-out yellow butterflies, a tribute to the swarms of butterflies that appeared in the classic novel whenever one character’s forbidden lover arrived.

“This is the end of a very important era,” Parodis said, pinning one of her butterflies on the lapel of a mourner.

“One Hundred Years of Solitude” tells the epic, dream-like story of seven generations of the Buendia family in the fictional town of Macondo, based largely on Aracataca.

Garcia Marquez said he drew on the stories that his grandmother told him when he was a child, laced with folklore, superstition and the supernatural.

The novel sold over 30 million copies, helped Garcia Marquez win the 1982 Nobel Prize for Literature and popularized the genre of magical realism. In it, characters are visited by ghosts, a plague of insomnia envelops Macondo, a priest levitates above the ground and the child of an incestuous couple is born with a pig’s tail.

FADED MAGIC

It made Aracataca famous and drew literary pilgrims hoping to absorb some of the bewitching energy he wrote about.

But there is little magic in the Aracataca of today, and it retains no evidence of the banana wealth which washed over northern Colombia in the early 20th century.

Concrete buildings have replaced the elegant wooden homes and offices set up by plantation owners, political slogans splash the walls and residents sit on street corners sipping beer and complaining that the government has failed to harness the opportunity that Garcia Marquez’s fame brought.

A wooden replica of his grandparents’ home seeks to create a sense of the past. His comments are displayed on giant posters above his bed and at the dining room table plates are laid out as if waiting for him to join the family for dinner.

Photos show the appalling conditions endured by workers at a nearby banana plantation that led to a 1928 strike and the massacre of thousands. He portrayed the slaughter in “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and used the real name of the military officer who led the attack, General Cortes Vargas, the only historically accurate name in the entire novel.

Since Garcia Marquez’s death on Thursday, tributes have poured in from U.S. President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton and poets, presidents and pop stars from across Latin America. He was the region’s most famous and beloved author, known affectionately as “Gabo”.

“When someone like him writes that way, he ties you to them like a brother and makes you love him as if you had known him,” Arturo Covarrubias, a 46-year-old mariachi musician, said at a book fair in Mexico City on Friday.

“The work of men like him is immortal,” Cuban President Raul Castro said. Garcia Marquez, a leftist who flirted with communism, was a decades-long friend of Cuba’s revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, Raul’s older brother.

In Aracataca, residents are clearly proud of their native son but some feel he could have done more to ease poverty here.

“He brought nothing at all to the town. We have his house, and a few murals, but nothing much else,” said Osvaldo Bergara, selling water on a street corner close to the house.

But others, like his cousin Nicolas, say Garcia Marquez is not to blame and that local corruption has sapped the town of its potential.

“It’s totally unfair, he gave and the administration took it and did nothing,” Arias said, pointing to the muddy road that floods his home during storms. “We don’t even have drainage. It’s the government that should pay for this, not Gabo.”

“He would ask me ‘How is Aracataca?’ And I would tell him: ‘It’s abandoned.’ That made him sad.”

Garcia Marquez left Aracataca to attend high school and never lived there again, though he visited occasionally.

While Aracataca’s past glories have faded, residents still remember their own grandparents’ tales of years ago.

“My grandmother told me of the music and dancing in the square, of the plantation owners who would come by, and Gabo and his visits,” said Parodis. “The memories are from another time.”

(Additional reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb in Bogota and Noe Torres and David Alire Garcia in Mexico City; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Kieran Murray)