The World Today for February 02, 2021

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Of Bullies and Pulpits

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, 76, won reelection to a sixth term in January, preserving an administration that has ruled the East African country since 1986. In celebrating his victory, he declared that the vote would probably go down as the “most cheating-free” in Ugandan history, the BBC explained.

His losing opponent, former pop singer Bobi Wine, heartily disagrees. He says the president won illegitimately, noting that Museveni shuttered the Internet as voters cast ballots. A CNN analysis concluded that cutting communications between folks was likely crucial to the president keeping his hold on power. In Uganda, like in many African nations, Internet-based mobile phone apps are more common than landlines – or banks.

Wine likely won’t succeed in ousting Museveni anytime soon. But Wine isn’t going away, either, as the Africa Report noted. While he might have lost the presidential race, his political party, the National Unity Platform, surpassed the traditional opposition party, the Forum for Democratic Change, in parliament. Museveni’s party, the National Resistance Movement, still holds a majority. But as Uganda’s Daily Monitor explained, opposition leaders gain funding and legal protections under the law.

He can especially capitalize on the widespread disillusionment among young Ugandans who only know Museveni rule, a period when the economy has failed to thrive, wrote National Public Radio. At present, according to the World Bank, around 700,000 young people enter the workforce annually but the economy only generates 75,000 new jobs.

Wine’s new standing could have been one reason why a Ugandan court ordered security forces to withdraw from their siege of Wine’s house, as Voice of America reported. Officials said they needed to prevent Wine from inciting riots like those that have roiled the country in recent months – Ugandans have been expressing their frustration over the government’s crackdown on Museveni’s political enemies, the Associated Press reported. The siege coincidentally began on Jan. 14 when polls opened.

“Everywhere, I’m in chains,” Wine told Reuters after security forces left his home but government helicopters still flew over his house, harassing him.

Those forces even prevented the American ambassador from visiting Wine, wrote World Politics Review, raising questions about whether the US government would continue to give financial and diplomatic support to Museveni’s “repressive” regime. The US sends Uganda almost $1 billion a year in security and development aid. That’s around 3 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

Wine has publicly criticized the West for propping up Museveni over the years.

He only has the bully pulpit. But sometimes, that’s enough to stand up to a bully.



Back to the Future

Myanmar’s top civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi told her compatriots Monday not to give in to the military just hours after it staged a coup and arrested Suu Kyi and her top deputies over allegations of voter fraud in elections last year, the Guardian reported.

“I urge people not to accept this, to respond and wholeheartedly to protest against the coup by the military,” she said in a statement.

Power has been transferred to General Min Aung Hlaing and the military has declared a state of emergency in the country for one year, USA Today reported.

The coup comes after weeks of rising tensions between Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy and its main opposition, the army-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party over the results of the Nov. 8 elections.

Suu Kyi’s party won by a landslide but the opposition said that the vote was marred by fraud and called for an investigation. Myanmar’s election commission rejected the allegations.

The coup and arrests were condemned internationally, with rights groups saying that the military’s takeover is a major blow to Myanmar’s transition from military rule to democracy, which began about a decade ago.

The military has announced new elections without providing a date, but analysts said the promise of new elections is not credible.


Go East, Young Man

Britain made a formal request to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) trade pact Monday, marking the first application by a country outside the 11 participating Pacific nations, Kyodo News reported.

British trade minister, Liz Truss, told pact members Japan and New Zealand that Britain’s ascension would create jobs and help rebuild the global trading system.

CPTPP members welcomed the move as a way to expand free trade based on high-standard investment and trade rules.

Britain is hoping to re-establish itself as a leading advocate of free global trade following its official exit from the European Union at the beginning of the year, Reuters reported.

Ascension talks are expected to begin in the spring and Britain will need to show that it can comply with the pact’s rules, while negotiating tariffs on a bilateral basis with the 11 members.

The pact came into force in 2018 and covers 13 percent of the global gross domestic product.

The US, which was part of the pact, withdrew three days after Donald Trump took office in 2017.


Selective Responsibility

Israel agreed for the first time to provide 5,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine to Palestinians to immunize frontline medical workers, as Palestine struggles to contain the virus,  the Associated Press reported.

Israel’s Health Ministry said that nearly one-third of Israel’s 9.3 million people have received the first dose of the two-shot vaccines provided by Pfizer and Moderna. It added that about 1.7 million people have received both doses.

The vaccination campaign includes Israel’s Arab citizens and Palestinians in annexed east Jerusalem, but excludes Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Hamas-ruled Gaza.

The World Health Organization, however, has voiced concern over the disparity between Israel and the Palestinians in the occupied territories.  Human rights groups and UN officials have said that Israel is responsible for the well-being of Palestinians in these areas.

However, Israel maintains that under interim peace agreements reached in the 1990s, it is not responsible for the Palestinians and has not received requests for help.

Palestinians, meanwhile, are lagging far behind Israel’s aggressive vaccination campaign, health officials say.


The Way to a Wolf’s Heart

How did ancient wild wolves transform into man’s best friend?

Leftovers, says a new study.

Sometime between 29,000 and 14,000 years ago, Eurasian inhabitants had to survive the freezing wastelands by hunting.

The problem was that their prey was lean and would have provided more proteins than humans could have safely consumed. The human body can’t survive on a purely carnivorous diet because of the liver’s ability to generate only part of our energy needs from protein.

In their paper, researchers wrote that ancient humans only acquired 45 percent of their calories from animal protein. They added that since hunter-gatherers couldn’t eat all the lean meat, they would leave some for the wolf pups that were being raised by humans as pets, Science News reported.

The team believes that through time, competition between wolves and humans for prey declined as the canines started becoming more docile.

Eventually, the future generations of well-treated and well-fed pet wolves evolved into today’s dogs.

“…the dogs would have become docile, being utilized in a multitude of ways such as hunting companions, beasts of burden and guards as well as going through many similar evolutionary changes as humans,” the study’s authors wrote.

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COVID-19 Global Update

More than 180 nations worldwide have confirmed cases of the coronavirus. The following have the highest numbers worldwide as of 4 a.m. ET*:

  1. US: 26,321,163 (+0.51%)
  2. India: 10,766,245 (+0.08%)
  3. Brazil: 9,229,322 (+0.27%)
  4. UK: 3,846,851 (+0.49%)
  5. Russia: 3,825,739 (+0.00%)**
  6. France: 3,260,308 (+0.13%)
  7. Spain: 2,822,805 (+2.90%)
  8. Italy: 2,560,957 (+0.31%)
  9. Turkey: 2,485,182 (+0.31%)
  10. Germany: 2,232,327 (+0.30%)

Source: Johns Hopkins University

*Numbers change over 24 hours

**Numbers have been adjusted by affected country

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