These streets used to honor a Spanish dictator. Now they'll honor the women he persecuted.

From 1939 to 1975, Spain lived in fear of a dictator named General Francisco Franco.

During his rule, Franco captured and murdered political prisoners, suppressed freedom of religion, forbade languages, and created a network of police to secretly spy on citizens.

On one hand, calling him "The Hitler of Spain" seems like an advantageous simplification. On the other hand, here's a picture of him:


Uncanny! Photo via AFP/Getty Images.

Franco's regime was toppled decades ago, but the memory of him still haunts and angers modern-day Spain.

When a statue of Franco went up outside a Catalan cultural exhibit in Barcelona, it was decapitated, defaced, and completely toppled within days.

The wounds left by Franco are still relatively fresh, so any image or reminder of him is a sensitive matter. "[We] have a dispute anytime anybody says or shows anything to do with Franco," Bru Rovira, a Catalan journalist told The New York Times.

A defaced statue of Franco in Barcelona. Photo by Pau Barrena/AFP/Getty Images.

Unfortunately, a quick walk through Spain's major cities turns up reminders of Franco everywhere.

In Valencia, Barcelona, and more, streets are named after people who served in Franco's regime. General José Millán Astray, attorney Adolfo Muñoz Alonso, and minister José Enrique Varela were all part of Franco's dictatorship. All three have streets named after them to this day.

Fortunately, that will be changing soon, as Spain announced plans to remove every street name attached to the Franco regime.

The measure to erase Franco's regime was first introduced in 2007 but went widely unenforced. Last year, a political swing to the left put the issue back on the agenda.

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images.

Even better? They're going to rename the streets after influential women.

Women are vastly underrepresented in Spanish street names (except for saints), giving the country a brilliant opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. In February 2017, street names in Spain will start bearing the names of women who were persecuted under Franco's regime, like Soledad Cazorla, the first public prosecutor to specialize in gender violence, as well as several civil rights leaders and activists.

Soledad Cazorla visiting Niger in 2008. Photo via Montserrat Boix/Wikimedia Commons.

Other streets will pay tribute to prominent Spanish artists and innovators — women like novelist Carmen Martín Gaite and Ángela Ruiz Robles who invented the first e-reader in 1949. Many more will bear the names of internationally influential figures like Rosa Parks, Frida Kahlo, and Jane Austen.

This move is a long overdue show of gratitude to women who have helped shape Spanish culture and a perfect way to heal the wounds left by Francisco Franco.

When it comes to street names around the world, women are vastly underrepresented. This will go a long way in closing that gap.

A 2015 study of seven major metropolises found that less than a third of streets were named after women. This might seem like a small problem, but street names are important.

Savile Row in London, Broadway in New York, Grafton Street in Dublin, Bourbon Street in New Orleans — these names are more than just markers on a map. They're cultural epicenters that help define a city's identity. The same goes for streets named after people like Martin Luther King Jr., Jackie Robinson, Peter Jennings, or Warren, Ohio, town hero Dave Grohl. Not having a proportionate amount of streets named after prominent women hardly makes any sense.

Soon, the names of women will play their part in helping to define Spain's identity and values from the street level on up. Other countries around the world should consider following suit.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

via @Todd_Spence / Twitter

Seven years ago, Bill Murray shared a powerful story about the importance of art. The revelation came during a discussion at the National Gallery in London for the release of 2014's "The Monuments Men." The film is about a troop of soldiers on a mission to recover art stolen by the Nazis.

After his first time performing on stage in Chicago, Murray was so upset with himself that he contemplated taking his own life.

"I wasn't very good, and I remember my first experience, I was so bad I just walked out — out onto the street and just started walking," he said.

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