Egypt’s election: Two reasons not to be cheerful

AS THE numbers came in after round one of Egypt’s first more-or-less free presidential election, so did the metaphors of gloom. With no clear winner and ten of 12 contenders eliminated, the two remaining candidates were variously described by liberal reformers as a choice between disaster or calamity, poison or the noose

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Kenya’s athletes: A surfeit of talent

IT HAS been a tricky task for Kenya’s athletics authorities to choose a three-man team for the coming Olympic marathon. Picking the women’s trio was hardly easier. The 20 fastest men’s times over the 26.2 miles in the past year have all been run by Kenyans, who have won the most recent city marathons in Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London and New York

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Syria: Houla and its consequences

EYE-WITNESS testimony leaves little doubt about what happened on May 25th in Houla, a small farming town on Syria’s western plain. Two hours after the noon prayer, tank and mortar fire from nearby Syrian army positions began to rain down on Houla and an outlying hamlet called Taldou, perhaps in response to an attack by rebel forces on an army checkpoint. Just before sunset armed men, some in combat uniform and others in civilian clothes, swarmed in from neighbouring villages.

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Are African governments suppressing art?

By Cosmas Butunyi The dust is finally settling on the storm that was kicked off in South Africa by a controversial painting of President Jacob Zuma with his genitals exposed. The country that boasts one of the most liberal constitutions in the world and the only one on the African continent with a constitutional provision that protects and defends the rights of  gays and lesbians , had   its values put up to  the test  after an artist    ruffled feathers by a painting that questioned the moral values  of the ruling African National Congress .  For weeks, the storm ignited by the painting  called  ‘The Spear’, raged on, sucking in Goodman Gallery that displayed it and City Press, a weekly newspaper that had published it on its website.

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Declining child mortality in Africa: an effect of rising prosperity, ehanced aid — or both?

Such are the changes in the African scene that the stunning evidence of declining child mortality in nearly all sub-Saharan countries is the source, not of disbelief or skepticism, but a serious, robust debate over what caused the decline: rising economic prosperity in Africa or improved international assistance. To step back a moment: credit for attention to the improved health of African child goes to Michael Clemens, who in early May published an assessment of a World Bank analysis that prompted him to comment on what he described as the “stunningly rapid decline” in child deaths

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