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Society

Beyond COVID: Why Ugandan Kids Can’t Go Back To School

Severe weather and a lack of upkeep during pandemic shutdowns wreaked havoc on school facilities. Officials and parents are scrambling to rebuild.

SHEEMA, UGANDA — After nearly two years of repeated shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic, Benon Atwijuka was excited to return to his job as headmaster of Kyeihara Integrated Primary School in southwestern Uganda. But when he arrived, he realized that he had to do more than help his students catch up on the learning they had lost.

“During the long absence, animals roamed and grazed in the school compound and damaged buildings,” he says.

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Holy Mess! Spain's Disfigured Christ Mural Remains A Hit With Tourists

The clumsy restoration of a mural of Christ in a Spanish chapel 10 years ago shocked, then amused Spaniards and millions more abroad, and gave the local town a level of publicity, and tourist revenues, it never had nor could have hoped for. Here's how it looks 10 years later.

BORJA — Among the countless pictures and images of Christ around the world, it might not be outlandish to imagine that one of them might seek revenge — using humidity as the instrument of its vengeance.

One might say this of a by-now notorious mural of Christ inside a chapel in Borja in the province of Aragón, northern Spain.

Painted in 1930 by a painter and academic, the image was smothered in 2012 by Cecilia Giménez Zueca, a local resident and amateur painter. She wanted to help no doubt, but her "unfinished" restoration turned a venerable image of the suffering Christ — an Ecce Homo — into a bloated, indefinable cartoon.

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How Airbnb Created A Homeless Crisis In An Idyllic Australian Town

In the bohemian Australian seaside town of Byron Bay, rents are now higher than Sydney or Melbourne. And as Airbnb takes its toll, this small town has almost as many homeless people as Sydney.

BYRON BAY — It's a scene that is repeated almost every evening. Small groups form on the seafront, some take out a guitar around an improvised campfire among the rocks, a few acrobats hypnotize passers-by by twirling fiery bolas, and most clink glasses over a few beers, modestly covered by paper bags. They are all there to admire the sun setting behind the mountains bordering the northern tip of the beach, which stretches for about 30 kilometers, tinting the sky with shades ranging from pale pink to scarlet red.

Located at the eastern tip of Australia, an ideal geographical position where very beautiful waves are formed, Byron Bay, in New South Wales, is one of the most popular destinations for surfers. It is also home to one of the oldest surf clubs in the country, created more than a century ago, in 1907.

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The First Victims Of Sri Lanka's Economic Crisis: Pregnant Women

The country's worst economic crisis in decades has toppled the government and led to soaring prices. Pregnant women struggle to access essential supplies.

INUVIL, SRI LANKA — At sunset, as her young son plays nearby and her husband has yet to return from work, Kirushna Sutharshan forages for edible plants near her home.

She bends carefully over her expanding belly — her second child is due in August — but ignores the discomfort. The prices of milk, eggs, spinach and other foods recommended for healthy pregnancies have tripled since January; the once-free iron supplements are no longer available at prenatal checkups at public hospitals; and she cannot afford vitamins at private pharmacies. Even Thriposha, a corn-based nutritional supplement usually distributed to pregnant women for free, is no longer available.

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Society
Hu Qingxin, Yin Yuet

Asian Cults And Castes, Where New Religions Meet Power Politics

Emerging religions and cults in Asia are deeply intertwined with politics: in China, religions need political approval, while in Japan religious groups use political platforms to assert themselves. Not even the killing of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, carried out by a member of the Unification Church, has prompted a closer look at exactly what role religion plays in society.

On July 8, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot dead while giving a speech in Nara.

The suspect confessed that he killed Abe because of his close relationship with the Unification Church, which his mother adhered to and went bankrupt for. The Unification Church was founded by Korean Messiah Claimant Sun Myung Moon in 1954, and entered Japan in 1956. At its peak, it had 4.7 million followers, but declined after the 1990s due to scandals related to donations and brainwashing.

Meanwhile, in an interview on July 4, the new Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, John Lee Ka-chiu, mentioned that he had been practising qigong for more than 25 years.

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Society
Maxi Kronenberg

Her Mad Existence: The Ultimate Collection Of Evita Perón Iconography

Seventy years after her death, displays in Buenos Aires, including a vast collection of pictures shown online, recall the life and times of "Evita" Perón, the Argentine first lady turned icon of popular culture.

BUENOS AIRES — Her death in 1952 at the age of 33 helped turn the Argentine first lady Eva Perón — known to millions as Evita — into one of the iconic faces of the 20th century, alongside other Argentines like the singer Carlos Gardel, the guerrilla leader Ernesto "Che" Guevara, and soccer stars Maradona and Messi.

Evita, née María Eva Duarte, became for many the defender of the poor — and to her detractors, the mother of Latin America's brazen populists — as she pushed for civil rights, gender equality and social programs for the poor in her time as first lady of Argentina in the mid-20th century.

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Society
Patricia Lindrio

In Africa, Witchcraft Delusions Spark Deadly Mob Violence

In parts of sub-Saharan Africa, where many people believe in witchcraft, allegations occasionally flare into violence and death.

OYAM, UGANDA — On the morning of March 4, at the invitation of her grandchildren, Albina Okoi attended services at a makeshift church different from the one she usually attends. When the prayers continued for longer than she expected, Okoi, 71, excused herself and went home to have tea.

By the time it was ready, there was a mob at her doorstep, led by the pastor and two of her own grandchildren.

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Society
Eric Delon

How Our Post-COVID Travel Fever Is Changing Tourism For Good

Frenzy has replaced frustration, and some have dubbed it "revenge travel." But far away or nearby, people want to move, move, move...to travel! Beyond the ridiculous moniker, “revenge travel,” this never-before-seen rush may bring on lasting changes for tourism.

PARIS — Lilly, a social media manager at a large French-speaking media, was still living with her parents when the first lockdown took the planet by surprise in mid-March 2020.

Lockdown after lockdown, this 23-year-old travel lover waited impatiently. In early Oct. 2021, she finally headed out alone to Thailand, criss-crossing the country with just a backpack and her reporter's notebook. “It was super intense. I met many people there. There were almost no tourists. Life was cheap, I was in my element.”

Responding to a “gentle family pressure”, Lilly eventually came back to France in January. But she had the same goal: Leaving again “far away” next October and broadening her range of destinations: South America, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia and Australia where she will join a French-Swiss friend she met during her first trip in Thailand.

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Migrant Lives
Jamal Barnes

Not My Problem: Individual Responsibility And Government Abuse Of Asylum Seekers

Denial and indifference drive the way ordinary Australians face the mistreatment of refugees.

-OpEd-

As one of its first acts in government, the newly elected Labor government turned back a boat of Sri Lankan asylum seekers trying to enter Australia.

Labor has vowed to continue Operation Sovereign Borders, including boat turnbacks and offshore detention. This is concerning. Not only do turnbacks violate international law, but offshore detention has resulted in torture and cruel and inhuman treatment of refugees.

Even more concerning is the lack of criticism Labor has received for continuing offshore detention and turnbacks. Apart from being condemned by human rights groups and minor political parties, Labor’s refugee policies appear to have gone without much comment from a large part of the Australian public.

As I found in my new research paper, the Australian government has used three forms of denial, creating physical and psychological distance between itself and refugees.

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Green
Cristina García Casado

Who Will Be Left? A Message From The "Inextinguishable" Fires Of Zamora

The droughts and extreme temperatures due to climate change, together with the abandonment of the countryside, have caused fierce fires in Spain that have devastate the livelihoods of the few people who still live there.

TÁBARA — Francisco Vicente and Delia spent two days inside a tractor. In their town, Tábara, in the northwestern Spanish province of Zamora, the flames tried to enter from all fronts for hours without mercy or truce.

Many neighbors, like them, disregarded the Civil Guard's eviction order and stayed behind to defend their houses, their crops and their animals. This is all they have. The official fire extinguishing techniques are not designed for the massive fires of the 21st century.

"If the people hadn't stayed behind, the fire would have reached the town and burned it," says Francisco Vicente Casado Fresno, a farmer, just like his father, grandparents, uncles and those who preceded them.

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Society
Sukanya Shantha

India Faces Eternally Complex Child-Care Question: What To Do With Kids Of Women Prisoners

While growing up inside a prison leads to a range of difficulties for children, those separated from their mothers and left on the outside also face different traumas. In this in-depth reportage for India's The Wire, journalist Sukanya Shantha talks to mothers who had to give birth in jail and those who went without seeing their children for years to keep them protected.

MUMBAI — Raginibai was at the construction site when a large police search team came looking for her. Her husband was found brutally murdered, and his body — wrapped in a jute bag — had been buried several feet under the construction debris close by. The police suspected that Raginibai, along with a man they claimed was her “lover,” was involved in the murder. Raginibai denied this charge vehemently.

But at that moment, neither her husband’s death nor the police’s suspicion could unsettle her. The well-being of her five-year-old son, who shadowed her everywhere at the construction site in Taloja, on the outskirts of Mumbai, was all that she worried about.

Raginibai, a landless migrant labourer and a Dalit woman from Kalahandi — one of the most backward districts in the eastern Indian state of Odisha — feared that the police would take her child away and she would never be able to see him again. In desperation, she requested that the police hand her child over to a person she claimed was her sister. This was a claim that the police was legally bound to — yet never bothered to — independently ascertain.

Raginibai was arrested on November 15, 2019. She was pregnant at the time. She gave birth to a girl, her third child, inside an overcrowded Kalyan district jail, over 50 km away from Mumbai city.

Her eldest, a 12-year-old daughter, was away at Raginibai’s mother’s house in Odisha at the time of the arrest. With no parental support or financial backing, her daughter had to drop out of school and is now being forced into child labor in a paddy field, many kilometers outside her village.

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Society
Katie C. Reilly

Grief As Mental Illness? Some Hard Questions About 'PGD' Diagnosis

Prolonged Grief Disorder (PGD) has officially been recognized as a mental health disorder. The decision could do more harm than good.

The weekend that I graduated from law school, my mother told me that she had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, a neurological disease for which there is currently no cure. As I recalled in a recent essay, I spent the following year watching as her muscles atrophied until she died.

A year and a half later, my father was diagnosed with cancer. He successfully completed one round of chemotherapy, but then, less than two years later, the cancer returned, killing him within months. He died on Aug. 12, my mother’s birthday.

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