The World Today for May 04, 2022

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NEED TO KNOW

No Free Lunch

ANGOLA

Angolans traditionally offer meals of cornmeal or cassava porridge and beans with palm oil in honor of a recently departed loved one. Now hunger and high unemployment have led desperate Angolans to hang around cemeteries and then follow the families of the deceased back to the venues where the mourners are given this free fare.

These reception crashers are known as “death hunters.”

“Every month, two or three times I go there to wait for a funeral so that I can feed myself,” João Baptista Kifuta, 23, a death hunter, said in an interview with Africanews.

Hunger due to extreme droughts, locust infestation and skyrocketing food prices have compelled thousands of Angolans to walk miles through rugged terrain in search of better opportunities in neighboring Namibia, the Guardian reported in a stunning photo essay. People in the photos were eating grass to stave off hunger pains, the photographer wrote. They were among 1.3 million in the region who faced starvation, according to ReliefWeb.

The war in Ukraine is now expected to make things much worse if that is even possible. As the war has dragged on, wheat production in Eastern Europe has stalled and prices have increased, the UN-sponsored magazine Africa Renewal noted. That spells disaster for poor countries that are dependent on wheat imports, especially after the troubles and economic contraction of the coronavirus pandemic.

Incredibly, President João Lourenço has denied that hunger is a major problem. Observers believe he is nervous about upcoming elections in August, African Arguments said. Father Jacinto Pio Wacussanga, a Catholic priest who has been organizing local farmers to make their crops more resilient to climate change-induced droughts, reflected that view when he told the Catholic News Service that he thought Lourenço was putting his head in the sand by ignoring the real suffering of the people.

Lourenço has pledged to make Angola more business-friendly, the Africa Report recounted. He made the same pledge in 2017 but now says he needs more time to implement his reforms. He has succeeded in boosting natural gas exports as prices have risen due to the Ukraine war, for example, Bloomberg added.

The president has also ramped up the security state. The Angolan government, for example, still controls the country’s media, Reporters Without Borders wrote. Independent and critical reporting is very hard to come by. Police have cracked down on protesters peacefully calling for free and fair elections, Human Rights Watch noted.

The death hunters, meanwhile, ply their trade.

THE WORLD, BRIEFLY

Reversing Cock-ups

PHILIPPINES

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte banned online cockfighting amid an outcry over the industry following the disappearance of dozens of workers and concerns over the social impact of the betting sport, CNN Philippines reported Tuesday.

Duterte said during an address that “e-sabong will end tonight” – referring to the local term for online cockfight betting. Officials said the ban is due to the social cost of the centuries-old game.

Cockfighting is a popular sport in the Philippines, which sees two roosters – wearing bladed spurs – spar to the death. The traditional practice took a hit during the coronavirus pandemic as many arenas were forced to close.

But the government granted franchises to seven companies to host the sport and take bets online 24 hours a day.

Duterte had previously rejected calls to end the practice, saying e-sabong generated about $12 million in monthly tax revenue.

But his reversal came after the kidnapping and suspected murder of 34 people who had supplied roosters to a licensed e-sabong operator. Authorities suggested the individuals that disappeared had sabotaged the roosters to lose fights and then bet on the opponents, according to Agence France-Presse.

Even so, many also worry that the easy availability of e-sabong has resulted in a spike in gambling addiction.

In one instance, a young woman was accused of selling her eight-month-old toddler to a buyer to pay off her e-sabong debts. Police said the baby was later found and the buyer arrested.

Meanwhile, traditional cockfighting operators have also been cautious of the internet version, which they claim has essentially monopolized the sport’s revenue.

Divorce, Finalized

MALI

Mali ended its military ties with France this week, a decision that underscores the deterioration in relations between the two countries following a series of disputes in recent months, Bloomberg reported.

The country’s military junta accused France of violating its airspace and condemned the presence of French troops in Mali as “flagrant violations” of its national sovereignty.

Officials added that the legal framework that allowed the French counter-insurgency force “Barkhane” and the European task force “Takuba” to remain in the country will end immediately. This means that French and European forces can no longer enter or move freely on Malian soil.

The severing of ties is the latest escalation between France and Mali’s military junta as France withdraws its forces from the West African country after nearly a decade, Africanews noted.

French troops entered Mali in 2013 to stop Islamic militants affiliated with al Qaeda from advancing toward the capital, Bamako. But ties between the two nations have worsened following a 2020 military coup in Mali.

In recent months, the junta has criticized France’s decision to move its forces to neighboring Niger. The French government, meanwhile, has condemned the presence of Russian mercenaries in the country and accused them of human rights abuses.

In March, Human Rights Watch said that Malian forces and alleged Russian fighters killed at least 300 civilians in a village in central Mali.

Malian officials, however, countered that they had killed more than 200 militants in an operation against Islamist insurgents.

The Rejects

TUNISIA

Tunisian President Kais Saied launched a “national dialogue” this week to resolve the country’s political crisis following his controversial power grab last year even as he has excluded the opposition groups from participating, Agence France-Presse reported.

The president said a commission will oversee “the national dialogue,” a measure demanded by the G-7 countries and the European Union. Saied added that the talks will include four groups known as the “National Dialogue Quartet,” which includes the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT) and the Tunisian Human Rights League.

In 2015, the quartet jointly received the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts in establishing what was, at the time, the only democracy to emerge from the 2011 Arab Spring.

Even so, Saied noted that groups “who sabotaged, starved and mistreated the people” will not participate in the dialogue. His statement suggested that many parties and civil groups, including the Islamist Ennahdha party, will be excluded from the talks.

Ennahdha was one of the main groups that opposed Saied’s sacking of the government and his move to rule by decree last year.

Meanwhile, the president announced that a committee preparing constitutional reforms for “a New Republic” will conclude its work shortly, with a referendum on the changes scheduled for July 25, followed by parliamentary elections on Dec. 17.

The national dialogue comes as Tunisia tries to secure a loan package from the International Monetary Fund to alleviate its economic crisis.

UKRAINE, BRIEFLY

  • More than 100 people evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol arrived in the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia, NBC News wrote. The plant is home to the last pocket of Ukrainian resistance in a city otherwise controlled by Russia. The Russian military has restarted its attacks, with Ukrainian forces declaring a “powerful assault” underway.
  • Russia launched missiles at a military base in Ukraine’s southern city of Odessa on Tuesday, destroying drones, missiles, and ammunition given to Ukraine by the US and its European allies, Reuters reported. Russia’s defense ministry added that Russian missiles and artillery also hit a number of military targets in Ukraine, including command and control centers, arsenals, and an S-300 anti-aircraft missile system.
  • Germany’s conservative opposition leader Friedrich Merz headed to Kyiv for discussions with Ukrainian officials Tuesday, despite Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s announcement that he would not be visiting Ukraine anytime soon, the Associated Press noted. Merz’s visit came amid a row between Scholz and Ukraine in recent weeks because of Kyiv’s refusal to issue an invitation to German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Ukraine accused Steinmeier of cozying up to Russia during his time as foreign minister. The spat prompted Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, Andrij Melnyk, to criticize the German chancellor for behaving “like an offended liver sausage,” Politico added. In German slang, an “offended liver sausage” (beleidigte Leberwurst) is a person that gets offended easily or cannot take a joke.
  • The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) barred Russia from competing in the Women’s European Championship in July and from qualifying for next year’s World Cup the following year, following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, according to Al Jazeera. UEFA also ruled Russia’s application to host the men’s European Football Championship in 2028 and 2032 invalid.

DISCOVERIES

Not a Fraud

People can sometimes develop feelings of being a fraud and inadequate when starting a new job – a phenomenon described as “imposter syndrome.”

The syndrome can be very debilitating to a person’s self-esteem, but a study found there are some positive sides to the condition, according to Science Alert.

Researcher Basima Tewfik analyzed four studies that looked into how imposter syndrome affected the performance and interpersonal skills of more than 3,600 employees.

The findings showed that employees questioning their worth were highly likely to be good team players with strong social skills. In the case of physician trainees, the individuals with imposter syndrome were considered to be more empathetic and had better relations with their patients.

Tewfik noted that the self-doubting workers also performed well in their jobs and their productivity wasn’t affected.

“People who have workplace impostor thoughts become more other-oriented as a result of having these thoughts,” she said. “As they become more other-oriented, they get evaluated as being higher in interpersonal effectiveness.”

She added that the syndrome is not permanent, but can be detrimental to a person’s self-worth – particularly in cases where an employee doesn’t have interpersonal interaction.

The author recommended that the nature of what constitutes workplace-related imposter thoughts may need to be reassessed.

“What I don’t want people to take away is the idea that because people with imposter thoughts are more interpersonally effective, it’s not a problem,” said Tewfik.

COVID-19 Global Update

Total Cases Worldwide: 514,929,992

Total Deaths Worldwide: 6,240,977

Total Vaccinations Worldwide: 11,335,197,489

Countries with the highest number of confirmed cases worldwide as of 4 a.m. ET*

  1. US: 81,506,838 (+0.08%)
  2. India: 43,088,118 (+0.01%)
  3. Brazil: 30,482,429 (+0.07%)
  4. France: 28,948,497 (+0.23%)
  5. Germany: 25,033,970 (+0.43%)
  6. UK: 22,249,661 (+0.16%)
  7. Russia: 17,935,641 (+0.03%)
  8. South Korea: 17,395,791 (+0.28%)
  9. Italy: 16,586,268 (+0.38%)
  10. Turkey: 15,036,110 (+0.01%)

Source: Johns Hopkins University

*Numbers change over 24 hours

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