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Taxis in Bogota
Taxis in Bogota

-Editorial-

BOGOTA — Some residents of the Colombian capital are indignant at recent police checks on white cars thought to be carrying passengers through Uber, an Internet application that links users with private drivers.

Passengers using Uber can pay by credit or debit card beforehand and can be picked up anywhere. Cars are clean and the drivers cautious, no small feat in a city where a taxi driver might mug you or worse.

Whether the service is illegal is open to interpretation. A 2001 decree allows such transportation by companies legally constituted to carry specified types of passengers. Literally read in the current debate, it would allow Uber cars to carry not just anyone, but “specific” groups such as guests of a particular hotel chain or children who attend a particular school. At least that’s how the city Transport Secretariat, which ordered the checks, sees it.

It is a rigorous attitude that is unfortunately not applied to other, truly bothersome situations: taxis spurning passengers during rush hour, drivers of illegal taxis mugging passengers, or the informal taxis prowling around university premises in central and northern Bogotá that crowd five passengers into a small car for a flat fare.

A spokesman for taxi company Taxis Libres says the problem is that Uber drivers fix fares as they please, and are neither qualified professionally or regulated by authorities. Frankly, he could be talking about one of his own drivers.

The debate on the legalities and effects of the application is far from over. For now, the Transport Ministry has the last word.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Ukraine Is Turning Into A "New Israel" — Where Everyone Is A Soldier

From businessmen to farmers, Ukrainian society has been militarizing for the past six months to defend its sovereignty. In the future it may find itself like Israel, permanently armed to protect its sovereignty.

Ukrainian civilians learn how to shoot and other military skills at a shooting range in Lviv on July 30, 2022.

Guillaume Ptak

KYIV — The war in Ukraine has reached a turning point. Vladimir Putin's army has suffered its worst setback since the beginning of the invasion. The Russian army has experienced a counter-offensive that many experts consider masterful, so it must retreat and cede vast territories to its opponent.

The lightning victory that the head of the Kremlin had dreamed of never took place. The losses are considerable — Ukrainian troops on the battlefield now outnumber the Russians.

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On April 5, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky predicted that at the end of the conflict, Ukraine would become a "big Israel". In an interview with Ukrainian media, he said then, "In all the institutions, supermarkets, cinemas, there will be people with weapons."

The problem of national security will be the country's most important one in the next decade. An "absolutely liberal, and European" society would therefore no longer be on the agenda, according to the Ukrainian president.

Having long since swapped his suit and tie for a jacket or a khaki T-shirt during his public appearances, Zelensky has undeniably become one of the symbols of this growing militarization of Ukrainian society. However, the president claimed that Ukraine would not become an "authoritarian" regime: "An authoritarian state would lose to Russia. Ukrainians know what they are fighting for."

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