The World Today for September 27, 2022

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NEED TO KNOW

The Best Man for the Job

UGANDA

An Ebola outbreak is occurring in Uganda, raising fears that the country will not be able to contain and control the deadly disease in the East African nation, reported CNN. Public health officers are scrambling to trace contacts between potentially infected people and everyone else, a monumental effort that shut down the economies of countries like Sierra Leone and Liberia in Western Africa between 2014 and 2016.

Worryingly, infections have been concentrated in a highly trafficked area that lies between the capital of Kampala and a number of gold mines where workers congregate, according to the Associated Press.

That crisis erupted earlier this month at around the same time that Uganda paid the first $65 million installment of the $325 million owed in reparations to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The International Court of Justice ordered Uganda to pay for losses stemming from Ugandan troops occupying Congolese territory during a series of wars in the 1990s, Africanews wrote.

At around the same time, Republicworld.com, an Indian English-language news outlet, reported that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni brought a “personal armored toilet” to Kenya when he attended the inauguration of newly-elected Kenyan President William Ruto.

The disconnect between Museveni’s concerns and the troubles facing his country is a feature of life in Uganda today.

In charge of Uganda since 1986, Museveni, 78, controls a vast network of so-called ‘district commissioners’ who help him keep an iron grip on power through “patronage, information-gathering and executive control,” explained Al Jazeera. While the country technically became a multi-party democracy in 2005, observers believe Museveni is the one who will decide whether he will seek reelection in 2026 or pave the way for someone else to take his place.

Rather than finding a statesperson who might know how to tackle Ebola or shore up the country’s shaky finances, Museveni appears to be considering his son, Ugandan army Lieutenant General Muhoozi Kainerugaba, as the best person in the nation of nearly 46 million people to succeed him. Kainerugaba recently retired from the military, Reuters noted, a move that political commentators took to mean that he was preparing to run for the presidency in four years when his father’s term is up.

In May, the president’s son posted an unscientific survey question on Twitter: “All those who want me to stand in 2026 retweet, all those who don’t like.” The tweet received fewer than 4,000 retweets and more than 13,000 likes. He’s also been making the diplomatic rounds over the years and meeting major players in the region, from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi to South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, the Africa Report added.

Dynasties usually signal business as usual. Uganda might need more than that.

THE WORLD, BRIEFLY

The Spreading Plague

RUSSIA

A gunman killed at least 17 people, including 11 children, at a school in central Russia on Monday, the latest school shooting in a country where such tragedies are relatively uncommon, the Washington Post reported.

The shooting took place in the Russian city of Izhevsk with officials saying that 23 people were injured during the incident.

Russian authorities identified the gunman as Artem Kazantsev, a 34-year-old local resident and former student at the school. They said the shooter was clad in black and was wearing a T-shirt with the Nazi swastika symbol at the time of the shooting.

Local media reported that Kazantsev was carrying two weapons and ammunition clips scrawled with the word “hatred” in red paint.

The two guns also had braided cords with the words “Columbine,” and “Dylan and Eric” – a reference to the perpetrators of the 1999 Columbine school shooting in Colorado orchestrated by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold that left 15 people dead, including the two youths.

Authorities added that Kazantsev was registered with a psycho-neurological clinic and are investigating whether he was a member of any neo-Nazi group in the country.

The Russian government condemned the attack as “an inhuman act of terrorism.”

The attack comes amid a wave of violence in Russia otherwise sparked by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s institution of a partial draft to shore up troops in Ukraine. On Monday, a young Russian man shot the chief of a local military enlistment office in the Siberian region of Irkutsk.

Although the school shooting doesn’t appear to be connected to the call to arms, Monday’s shooting is the third school massacre in Russia since May 2021.

In May 2021, gunman Ilnaz Galyaviev killed nine people including seven children at a school in Kazan, Tatarstan. A few months later, an 18-year-old university student killed six people and injured 47 others at Perm State University near the Ural Mountains in western Russia.

Veering Right

ITALY

Brothers of Italy, a party with neo-fascist roots, took the largest share of the votes in Italy’s elections Sunday, a win that has raised fears over a Eurosceptic party governing a founding member of the European Union and the bloc’s third-largest economy, the Associated Press reported.

Near-final results showed that Italy’s center-right coalition won around 44 percent of the vote, with the Brothers of Italy securing about 26 percent of the vote. Meanwhile, the other coalition partners, the anti-immigrant League and the moderate Forza Italia of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, each won less than 10 percent of the vote.

Meanwhile, the center-left Democratic Party and its allies gained around 26 percent.

Turnout was at an all-time low of 64 percent. According to pollsters, voters remained home partly because they were dissatisfied with the backroom negotiations that had established the three governments since the previous election.

Brothers of Italy leader Giorgia Meloni is poised to become the country’s next prime minister and the first female to hold the position. The formation of a government is still weeks away and will involve negotiations among the center-right coalition and President Sergio Mattarella.

Right-wing leaders and politicians across Europe praised Meloni’s victory, with French far-right leader Marine Le Pen hailing the result as a “lesson in humility” for the EU.

Meloni’s Brothers of Italy traces its origins to the post-war, neo-fascist Italian Social Movement. The party leader is known for her anti-immigrant stance and Eurosceptic rhetoric.

During the campaign, however, she attempted to distance her party from its fascist past.

Analysts noted that the right-wing coalition’s victory comes as Italy grapples with soaring energy costs caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Meloni’s allies, Berlusconi and League leader Matteo Salvini, are known to have ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Observers told CNBC that questions remain as to how much will Meloni veer Italy to the right, including whether she will take a pro-NATO and pro-Ukraine stance or be more concerned with challenging the EU’s rules like other Eurosceptic leaders.

Someone to Watch Over Me

CHINA

Chinese authorities have ordered long-distance bus drivers in the capital to wear electronic wristbands to monitor their physical and emotional states, a move that has sparked concerns among privacy rights advocates, South China Morning Post reported this week.

Last week, the state-run Beijing Public Transport Holding Group distributed around 1,800 wristbands to bus drivers on cross-province and highway routes.

The electronic wristbands will monitor the drivers’ vital signs, including heart rate, body temperature and respiratory rate. They will also monitor emotional states such as anxiety. The data can be accessed by the public transport company in real time.

Officials said the move was part of a public safety campaign aimed at reducing the frequency of road accidents in the country: Earlier this month, a bus crash in the southern city of Guiyang killed 27 people and injured 20 others.

But privacy advocates and legal analysts questioned whether there was any need to gather so much information from the drivers. Others also wondered how accurate the devices are, noting that “inaccuracies could result in unwarranted distress and possibly unfair discrimination as well.”

The new requirement comes just weeks ahead of the ruling Communist Party’s congress, which is set to take place in Beijing. Chinese officials have been repeatedly warned to reduce “social hazards” in the run-up to, and during, the gathering.

Meanwhile, reports of electronic wristbands being used to monitor people in China have increased in recent months.

There was a public outcry in July when workers at a Beijing compound instructed residents to wear the gadgets to check body temperature while in Covid-19 home quarantine after returning from other parts of China.

In July, a top prosecutor said electronic wristbands and big data were being used to track people who committed “less serious” offenses in order to make fewer arrests.

DISCOVERIES

Waiting for the Winds

Seafaring in the Mediterranean 2,400 years ago was no easy feat, especially facing summer’s westerly winds – but ancient Roman sailors kept sailing east and trade with the Levant region went on, the Washington Post reported.

Researchers have long wondered how.

To solve this mystery, researcher David Gal and his colleagues built an exact replica of a fifth-century BCE ship and in 2018 used it to travel from Israel to Cyprus.

Gal said in his study the 74-hour journey helped researchers better understand the challenges ancient sailors faced.

The researchers then studied ancient and modern records about wind and waves around the Mediterranean, including collecting data points from 7,000 different locations. The results showed that those breeze cycles have not changed in the past three millennia.

Gal suggested that the ancient sailors would locate short breezes blowing to the west, which allowed them to sail toward Rome for a brief period. Once those winds stalled, they had to anchor and wait.

He added that the study offers new details about the complexities of sailing in the days of yore and the knowledge that many sailors had to have before taking to the seas.

“Coastal sailing was difficult and dangerous,” Gal said. “You might sit for 10 days waiting for a favorable breeze. It took tremendous expertise to do what they did back then.”

Clarification: In Monday’s THE WORLD BRIEFLY section, we said in our “The Hunt for the Future” item that the 1993 Oslo Accords, signed by Israeli and Palestinian delegates, outlined a peace process that would culminate in the establishment of an independent state. To clarify, while the accords themselves did not mention the creation of an independent Palestinian state explicitly, they were to serve as a stepping-stone toward the ratification of a formal peace treaty between the two sides that would end decades of conflict. Many Palestinians hoped the peace process would then lead to the creation of an independent state.

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