The World Today for September 17, 2019

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NEED TO KNOW

ZIMBABWE

Dancehall Dreams

Winky D is a hero among some in Zimbabwe.

The popular singer performs Zimdancehall music, a reggae-descended genre that gives voice to the “veiled discontent” and “disillusionment” that’s widespread in the southern African country, wrote the New York Times.

The target of Winky D and others’ ire, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, has allegedly organized mobs to disrupt the singer’s appearances.

Mnangagwa took over Zimbabwe’s government in November 2017 after his former ally, then-President Robert Mugabe, was ousted in a coup.

Mugabe had held power since he helped lead the fight for the country’s independence from Britain in the early 1980s. His economic policies, including redistributing land from white citizens who had enjoyed privileges under British rule, destroyed the country’s economy, argued the Telegraph.

Many Zimbabweans hoped Mnangagwa would change things. Instead, he has failed to enact meaningful reforms fast enough. Inflation in June, the most recent figure available, was 175 percent, National Public Radio reported. A drought has led a third of the country’s 16 million citizens to require food aid. Corruption is the norm.

Mugabe died earlier this month at the age of 95. His passing released a flurry of introspection among Zimbabweans and observers witnessing his legacy of wreckage.

“I remember Mugabe [as] an angry man who channeled his rage against colonial rule to become one of Africa’s most influential and longest-lasting leaders,” recalled Associated Press reporter Andrew Meldrum.

Mnangagwa was no less angry or violent in his brutal suppression of dissent as a military leader and boss of his and Mugabe’s political party, the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front, or ZANU–PF, left-wing news website CounterPunch added.

Mnangagwa has tried to distance himself from Mugabe’s economic legacy, noted Reuters. But Zimbabweans can’t help but make the link as they remember the former president.

“Mugabe’s death has come at a time when we have moved on without him,” said Richmond Dhamara, a street fruit vendor in Harare, told the New York Times. “I don’t think he will be missed that much, because he is the same (as those) who succeeded him – cruel.”

In the wake of Mugabe’s passing, it’s almost sad to see the upswelling of positive memories about his first wife, Sally, whom he married in 1961 and who died in 1992. In the BBC, for instance, journalist Elizabeth Ohene portrayed Sally Mugabe as a anti-imperialist freedom fighter. Others viewed her as a feminist.

Few have fond memories of Mugabe, though, anymore. And most believe that he kept the dream of a prosperous, stable Zimbabwe from being realized. As will his successor.

WANT TO KNOW

SRI LANKA

A Long Wait

Hundreds of ethnic Tamils rallied in the northern town of Jaffna Monday to demand an international investigation into alleged atrocities during the nation’s 26-year civil war.

Protesters say it’s time, a decade after the war ended, for an international tribunal to investigate the disappearance of thousands during that period because previous efforts to hold the government accountable have failed, the Associated Press reported.

“The Sinhala-Buddhist state structure of Sri Lanka is not ready to be answerable, therefore there is no option left for us other than an international investigation,” protesters said in a proclamation.

The government promised the UN four years ago that it would appoint a local tribunal with international prosecutors and judges to hear cases of alleged abuses, but it still has not done so. Protesters also want land confiscated during that time returned to its rightful owners.

The government responded that it has returned much of the military-occupied land and set up an Office on Missing Persons to investigate disappearances during the war. It has not made much progress, critics say.

According to initial UN estimates, about 100,000 people were killed during the conflict but the actual number is believed to be much higher.

TUNISIA

Trying New Things

Tunisian voters stunned the political establishment after choosing an obscure law professor and a media mogul jailed on tax evasion as the top contenders for president, according to partial returns released Monday.

With more than two-thirds of the vote counted, Kais Saied and Nabil Karoui beat 26 candidates to take part in the runoff vote for president next month, Agence France Press reported.

As of Monday, the official count showed that Saied led the race with Karoui coming in second.

Saied, a social conservative, has promised to restore the death penalty and rejects equal inheritance for men and women.

Karoui, who owns a television channel and a charity, is a fierce critic of the government and a champion of the poor. He has denied evading taxes, instead accusing the political elite of using the judicial process to silence him.

Regardless, the results showed that voters are fed up with the political establishment, which has struggled to improve the country’s economy after the revolution in 2010-2011. That revolution set off the so-called Arab Spring in the region, with Tunisia being its sole success story.

MEXICO

Missing People, Missing Justice

The parents of dozens of Mexican students that disappeared in 2014 were outraged Monday following a judge’s decision to release two dozen people held in the case, days after the release of another key suspect, BBC reported.

Mexican Judge Samuel Ventura ruled Sunday that the suspects were tortured and ordered the immediate release of the 24 police officers accused of organized crime and forced disappearances.

The case dates back to Sept. 26, 2014 when 43 students disappeared during a protest in the town of Iguala.

An official government report concluded that municipal police handed the students to a local drug gang, which killed them before burning their bodies and throwing their ashes into a local stream.

The report, however, has been described as “deeply flawed” and the attorney general’s office announced last week it would investigate the officials who handled the investigation.

So far, no one has been convicted in the killings, and 74 out of 142 suspects detained in the case have been freed, including the gang leader who allegedly ordered the killings, the Associated Press reported.

DISCOVERIES

Suicide By Sex

Kalutas are mouse-sized marsupials with a very interesting and deadly breeding period.

The males of this tiny species, which occupies the arid regions of northwestern Australia, die off soon after an extreme mating period, the New York Times reported.

The trait had been observed in kalutas raised in captivity, but now for the first time it has been confirmed in the wild, according to a recent study.

Australian researchers wrote that sex for kalutas is a big competition: Males have a two-week period to reproduce with multiple females. Then they succumb to exhaustion and die.

Lead researcher Genevieve Hayes explained that the suicidal mating strategy probably occurs because female kalutas mate with multiple males and are able to store sperm for up to two weeks before fertilization.

This forces the males to reproduce with as many females as possible to increase their chances of siring a pup. Paternity tests bear that out: All but one of eight litters tested by Hayes’ team had multiple fathers.

The strategy sounds extreme, but the creatures’ short life span helps explain it, said Christopher Dickman, an ecologist who was not involved in the study.

With only one chance to breed each year, “it makes sense to invest as much energy as you can into reproduction,” Dickman said. “Forgive the pun, but in this case, it’s wise to put all your eggs in the one basket.”

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