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After Tokyo Olympic Golds, Uganda Guns To Become Africa's Next Sports Powerhouse

Success at the Tokyo Olympics inspired Uganda to step up its efforts to become a long-distance running powerhouse.

KAPCHORWA, UGANDA — Agong Micheal wants to become a Ugandan Olympic champion so badly that he skips his lunch every day to go for a run.

“Lunchtime is a waste of time,” he says.

The 17-year-old says his dream is to qualify for the Ugandan athletics team, win medals and receive the prize money that the country gives winners. Agong is on an athletic scholarship at Gombe Secondary School in Mpigi, a town in central Uganda. But when schools closed due to the coronavirus, he sought work as a laborer at the National High Altitude Training Centre, a state-of-the-art training facility under construction in Kapchorwa, in the eastern highlands. Although the facility is not open yet, working there gives Agong a rare opportunity to try out the course.

“One day I will be as famous as [Joshua] Cheptegei and [Peruth] Chemutai,” he says, referring to two Ugandans who won gold medals at the Tokyo Olympics last year.

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The Beauty Of Diversity: Pageants Around The World Celebrate Difference

Beauty pageants once rewarded good looks, and maybe some talent on the side. But the events are no longer just a showcase for perfect hair and swimsuits. Innovative pageants around the world celebrate differences and advocate for people with disabilities and LGBTQ+ communities.

Gina Rühl might soon make history as the first Miss Germany with only one arm, an injury she sustained after a life-threatening motorcycle accident. Rühl now uses her platform to advocate for others with disabilities. She told German newspaper Die Welt that she decided to compete in Miss Germany because “I knew that this competition is no longer just about the outer shell, but about who you are and what message you want to convey to people.”

This is an increasingly common sentiment among beauty pageant contestants, a genre of competition that originally awarded good looks, and maybe some talent on the side. No longer just a showcase for beauty queens, both conventional and more inventive pageants around the world are embracing a more diverse range of contests.

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Endemic Times, Get Ready For Our Forever COVID Future

As the 5 million death toll has been passed, signs abound that the virus is not going away any time soon. We need to accept that we can return to normalcy even without eradicating COVID — though we must do it right and keep re-learning the right lessons.

-Analysis-

Heading toward Year 2, the stream of COVID headlines continues to flow: vaccine hesitancy and breakthrough infections, lurking new variants, overrun hospitals and, yes, yet another lockdown somewhere in the world. The grim milestone this week of five million deaths adds to the creeping feeling that, unprecedented scientific breakthroughs aside, we are simply outmatched in our collective battle against the pandemic.

There is a growing consensus among experts that the virus, the whole of humanity's microscopic nemesis, is here to stay.

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Washington, Rome, Kampala: The Sacred Counting Of Democracy

At 6 p.m. local time Wednesday in Rome, while much of the world was transfixed on Washington, D.C., Italian reporters were huddled in a vast room of the nation's Parliament to witness another political crisis unfolding.

Former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi announced that his minor party would pull out of the government, plunging Italian politics into deep uncertainty that may only be resolved with a new snap election. Pundits accused Renzi of acting for his cynical personal interest, trying to force out Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to make space for his own comeback to the center of the political stage. Others noted that the announcement baffled Italians, who had just heard the news that their country had recorded 507 new COVID-19 deaths that day, pushing the toll past 80,000. Some argued that the far-right would win if the country heads to the polls.

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BBC

The Latest: Twice Impeached, China Lockdown, Navalny Goes Home

Welcome to Thursday, where Trump becomes first president impeached twice, China goes back into lockdown, and a 45,000-year-old wild boar makes news. We also scan what sets "Made in Africa" ID tech apart.

SPOTLIGHT: D.C. TO ROME TO KAMPALA, DEMOCRACY IS A COUNTING QUESTION

At 6 p.m. local time Wednesday in Rome, while much of the world was transfixed on Washington, D.C., Italian reporters were huddled in a vast room of the nation's Parliament to witness another political crisis unfolding.

Former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi announced that his minor party would pull out of the government, plunging Italian politics into deep uncertainty that may only be resolved with a new snap election. Pundits accused Renzi of acting for his cynical personal interest, trying to force out Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to make space for his own comeback to the center of the political stage. Others noted that the announcement baffled Italians, who had just heard the news that their country had recorded 507 new COVID-19 deaths that day, pushing the toll past 80,000. Some argued that the far-right would win if the country heads to the polls.

Still, with all the melodrama, this governmental "crisis' is largely politics-as-usual in Italy, which has had 72 different government coalitions in the 78 years of its wobbly post-War parliamentary system. But despite all the instability, democracy itself is not in question in Italy.

Of course the "crisis' underway across the Atlantic is of another tenor, and order of magnitude. Just minutes after Renzi's announcement, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump — for an unprecedented second time — after the Republican leader incited a mob to block the counting of his election defeat in Congress. Five people died in the violence, and Trump continues to falsely insist that the election was "stolen" from him. The American presidential system of government, typically noted for its stability, has shown what happens when a president is particularly power-hungry. And yes, just a week before President-elect Joe Biden is slated to be inaugurated, democracy itself is in question in the U.S.

Meanwhile in Uganda, voters are heading to the polls Thursday in the aftermath of one of the most divisive election campaigns in recent history, with at least 55 people killed in related violence. The incumbent, 76-year-old Yoweri Museveni, has been in power for 34 years. The leading opposition candidate, the 34-year-old pop star turned politician Bobi Wine, said that the army killed one of his bodyguards and that he has been detained and prevented from campaigning several times. The government has also shut down the internet and banned international election observers. In Uganda, democracy is constantly in question.

A celebrated Italian political theorist, Norberto Bobbio, once remarked that democracy is a process by which heads are not chopped, but counted. It's always a good reminder of how crucial it is to respect the counting.

— Alessio Perrone

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CLARIN
Juan I. Martínez Dodda

Using Argentine Know-How To Grow Crops In Africa

A pair of agro-engineers from Argentina are helping a U.S. company boost crop yields in Uganda, and help local, small-scale farmers in the process.

BUENOS AIRES Argentina is known for its large-scale, high-tech and export-driven farming sector. But now, some of its engineers are using their expertise to improve the practices of small-scale, peasant farmers — in Africa.

Such is the case of Juan Francisco Acutain and Francisco Podestá, who are working to boost crop yields while preserving soil quality in Uganda. The two Argentines work for a company called Agilis Partners, which operates in Uganda but was co-founded by another Argentine, Eduardo Brown, who grew up in the United States.

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eyes on the U.S.
Julie Farrar

U.S. Minimum Wage - Compare It To The Rest Of World

President Obama used his State of the Union address to declare his determination to raise the U.S. minimum wage above 10 dollars. Wage policy in the rest of the world may surprise you.

WASHINGTON D.C. — President Barack Obama has called on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage, the centerpiece proposal in Tuesday's State of the Union address that focused on economic inequality in America.

Pointing out that the current minimum of $7.25 is nearly 20% lower in real spending power than it was 25 years ago, he urged legislators to support a bill that would bring the national rate to $10.10.

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Rwanda
R.Akalikumutima, E. Safi and M. Umukunzi

For Rwanda's Poor, Working And Weddings Arrive Far Too Early

Whole families are forced to leave Rwanda's struggling north. Boys look for work at an early age; the girls, instead, all too often are pushed to get married across the border in Uganda.

REMERA - The citizens in this northern region of Rwanda have too many children and not enough arable land.

Small children eat sweet potatoes amid houses in Remera that are cramped together. Their parents work the fields during the morning hours, while afternoons for the adults are often spent in the cafes for men, and outside chatting in groups for the women.

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LA STAMPA
Antonella Mariotti

Meet The Italian Psychiatrist Who Treats Both Humans And Chimpanzees

A program in Uganda helps chimpanzees deal with their emotions through sign language and art. Mariangela Ferrero can compare their woes to those of her human patients near Turin.

TURIN - “They killed my mother. And they killed her to take me...”

Michael was around 10 years old, which is still young for a gorilla, when he realized that he could communicate with sign language. And naturally, he went straight to his therapist, in her white coat, and told her about the day his mother was kidnapped. “I still hear gunshots. At night I can still see them cutting off my mother’s head.”

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Rwanda
Fulgence Niyonagize

How To Stop AIDS From Spreading Across Africa's Borders

HIV testing has been set up at border-crossings, with particular attention on truck drivers and prostitutes who may be particularly vulnerable.

KIGALI - The Gatuna border between Rwanda and Uganda is bustling. Next to the truck stop, passengers disembark from the large buses that travel between the respective capital cities of Kigali and Kampala.

The people from both countries make their way across the border, and ahead toward the side of the road where little white tents are set up with nurses inside in white lab coats.

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