The New York Botanical Garden, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and the Judd Foundation in Marfa, Texas, are among 225 beneficiaries of new grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities that were announced on Wednesday.
The grants, which total $24 million, will support projects at museums, libraries, universities and historic sites in 45 states, as well as in Washington and Puerto Rico. They will enable the excavation of a newly discovered ancient Egyptian brewery by researchers from New York University, the implementation of a traveling exhibition honoring Emmett Till’s legacy at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, and research for a biography of the congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis by David Greenberg, a professor at Rutgers University.
Adam Wolfson, the endowment’s acting chairman, said in a statement that the new projects “embody excellence, intellectual rigor and a dedication to the pursuit of knowledge, even as our nation and the humanities community continue to face the challenges of the pandemic.”
As part of a new grant program in archaeology and ethnography, seven of the awards will support empirical field research, including the excavation of the ancient city of Teotihuacan in central Mexico and the investigation of settlement and migration patterns on the Micronesian islands of Pohnpei and Kosrae.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art will receive a grant to produce an exhibition, “Dining With the Sultan,” that features art depicting Islamic courtly dining culture and culinary traditions from the eighth through the 19th centuries. And at California State University’s Fullerton campus, a team will use Bob Damron’s Address Books, a prominent travel directory used by L.G.B.T.Q. Americans in the late 20th century, to create interactive maps and visualizations.
LONDON — The Edinburgh International Festival, a showcase of international dance, music and theater, will go ahead in front of audiences this August, the festival’s organizers said on Tuesday.
The festival, which normally floods the city with tourists, was canceled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic. But events will be staged Aug. 7-29 in three pavilions across Edinburgh, Fergus Linehan, the festival’s director, said in a telephone interview.
The pavilions will be specially built to maximize air flow and allow social distancing, he added.
The festival’s program will be released in June, Linehan said; the organizers are still waiting for a decision from the Scottish government about how many people will be allowed to attend. But the ongoing pandemic and the limits it has placed on international travel mean it will have a different flavor from normal.
“In terms of the people onstage, we’re not going to be flying in a big dance company from the U.S., or an opera company from Paris,” Linehan said. “But there are individual artists coming.”
Orchestre de Paris performing epic pieces by Beethoven and Berlioz, as well as several presentations by the Komische Oper Berlin. That will also change this year. “We can’t have that many musicians onstage, and we can’t have those big choral bits,” Linehan said, but he insisted smaller works would be just as exciting and innovative.
Many performances will be streamed free for international audiences, he added.
Coronavirus cases have fallen rapidly in Scotland this spring thanks to an extended lockdown and a strong vaccination program. On Monday, there were only 199 new cases reported among a population of around 5 million, and no deaths within 28 days of a positive test, according to Scottish Government figures.
But many restrictions are still in place, including on cultural life. Museums cannot reopen until Apr. 26. Other cultural activities cannot restart until May 17 at the earliest, and even then, only with small audiences.
The Edinburgh International Festival is one of a host of arts events that normally take place in the city each summer. The festival’s organizers insist the others will occur in some form, too.
A spokeswoman for the scrappy Edinburgh Festival Fringe, which normally features thousands of small theater and comedy shows, said in an email that organizers were working toward an event to run Aug. 6-30. It was still unclear if the Fringe would be “digital, in person, or both,” she added.
Edinburgh International Book Festival will also proceed from Aug. 14 with in-person events “if circumstances permit,” a spokeswoman said in a telephone interview.
The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, a popular series of parades involving bagpipe performances by armed forces from around the world, is also set to go on. It started selling tickets last October but has not provided any updates since. On Tuesday, its organizers did not respond to a request for comment.
Linehan said he hoped the International Festival’s announcement would give confidence to other events to press ahead with plans. His festival won’t make any money, he said, but that didn’t matter. “This is a really momentous moment for us,” Linehan said, adding: “It’s really important we get back to live performance.”
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are following separate but similar timetables, under which some restrictions eased on Monday in England will remain in place a while longer.
Despite chilly weather with occasional snow flurries, the moment was greeted with an enthusiasm born of more than a year of deprivation — as the once unimaginable notion of conscripting to government decree has become a way of life.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson called it “a major step forward in our road map to freedom.”
In the first weeks of the global health crisis — when the World Health Organization was still debating whether to call the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic — a new word entered the popular lexicon.
Lockdown in English. Le confinement in French. El confinamiento in Spanish. But first came fengcheng in China, literally meaning to lock down a city.
At the time, as images from ghostly streets of Wuhan, China, started to grab the world’s attention and it became clear that the virus respected no national borders, there was a debate about whether Western democracies could — or should — resort to such extreme measures.
As hospitals struggled to deal with a flood of patients and death tolls soared, the debate was overtaken by the reality that traditional methods of infectious disease control, like testing and contact tracing, had failed.
Britain, which held out longer than many of its European neighbors, entered its first national lockdown on March 26, 2020.
Since then, lockdown has come to mean many things to many people — dictated as often by individual circumstance and risk assessment as government decree.
While no country matched China’s draconian measures, liberal democracies have been engaged in a yearlong effort to balance economic, political and public health concerns.
Last spring, that meant that much of the world looked alike, with about four billion people — half of humanity — living under some form of stay-at-home order.
A year later, national approaches to the virus vary wildly. And no region has relied on lockdowns to the extent Europe has.
Although it is difficult to compare lockdowns, since the use of the word differs in different places, researchers at Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government have developed a system ranking the rules’ stringency. They found that Britain has spent 175 days at its “maximum stringency level.”
“In this sense, we can say that the U.K. is globally unique in spending the longest period of time at a very high level of stringency,” said Thomas Hale, an associate professor of global public policy at Oxford.
Though there was still a winter chill in the air Monday morning, people in Britain flocked to stores and restaurants. After so many false dawns, there was a widespread hope that, this time, there would be no going back.
The British lockdown that is being eased on Monday is the nation’s third. But it was first aimed at containing a variant of the coronavirus — offering an early warning to the world of the threat posed by the evolution of the virus and the difficulties in trying to control this particular form.
When the variant, known as B.1.1.7, was first discovered late last year in the southeastern English county of Kent, much about it was a mystery.
It appeared to be more contagious, but to what degree? Was it more deadly? How far had it spread?
The picture is becoming clearer. The most recent estimates suggest it is about 60 percent more contagious than the original form of the virus, and significantly more deadly.
That same variant is now spreading across continental Europe, prompting governments like those of France and Italy to impose new national lockdowns. The variant has also added urgency to the vaccination campaign in the United States — which is getting doses into millions of arms every day but still might not be fast enough to avoid yet another wave.
The vaccines being used in many countries have shown to be effective against it.
Britain’s vaccination campaign was launched with an urgency dictated by the moment, prioritizing first doses to spread a degree of protection as quickly and widely as possible.
Even after the lockdown was put in place, the variant propelled the country’s daily fatality rates to levels not seen since the peak of the pandemic’s first wave in April.
On Friday, the number of people with Covid-19 on their death certificate was just shy of 150,000.
But another statistic now offers hope. Nearly 32 million people have been given at least one dose of a vaccine — roughly half the adult population.
Officials are confident the combined effects of the lockdown and mass vaccination will provide a wall of protection. But, as England’s chief medical officer Chris Witty warned, it is a “leaky wall.”
A large majority of people under the age of 50 have yet to be offered a jab. And with supplies constrained around the world, eligibility is unlikely to be expanded for weeks or more.
The once-routine act of visiting a clothes store or shoe merchant took on a new meaning for the first shoppers who made an early-morning pilgrimage to Oxford Street, London’s busiest retail road that in recent months has been a desolate stretch of boarded up shops and empty stores.
Outside Niketown, JD Sports and Foot Locker, crowds were lining up by 7 a.m. as groups of mostly young men waited in line for a chance to get their hands on new sneakers.
Julian Randall, a dedicated collector who has spent the last 15 years amassing sneakers, left his London home at 2 a.m. to be there. He said he preferred to buy in store, rather than online, where it was harder to find specific shoes at a reasonable price.
“It’s virtually impossible to hop online and buy the shoes online — you don’t even have a chance,” he said. “In this day and age, we are in a recession, and I don’t want to be paying resell prices for shoes. I want to buy retail.”
The shops have remained mostly shuttered since the week of Christmas, when nonessential stores were forced to close across the region, but elsewhere in England, the closures have been in place even longer after coronavirus cases surged.
Retailers hope that there will be a splurge in spending by people who have amassed a record amount of savings — nearly $250 billion according to government estimates, roughly 10 percent of the Britain’s gross domestic product.
But for many stores, it is too late.
The flagship store of the British retailer Topshop on Oxford Circus, once a destination for fashion-hungry young adults, permanently shut its doors after its parent company, Arcadia Group, filed for bankruptcy last year.
Plywood boards cover the front of Debenhams, another retail chain that floundered during the pandemic, its extensive window displays now bare. The two companies crumbled within days of one another, as the country bounced from one lockdown to the next and the pandemic hastened the end of British high-street brands that were already teetering on the edge.
But the shuttered windows stood alongside some hopeful signs. Plastered in big letters on the shop front of John Lewis, a British department store, there was a clear message: “Come on in London, brighter days are coming.”
(Even that retailer has struggled, and it has explored converting parts of its Oxford Street store into office space.)
For those stores that did reopen, coronavirus precautions seemed to be front of mind, at least as the day began. Bokara Begum wanted to be as safe as she could during her shopping outing to Primark, so she arrived as doors swung open to beat the crowd.
“It’s just after 7 a.m., so I took advantage of that and came out here early,” she said, two brown paper bags in tow. “I was a bit panicky, really — I thought there would be a massive queue.”
One man showed up in his robe. Another couple had made a two-hour trek from a neighboring county.
A little over a dozen patrons, shivering in the Arctic chill gripping England, stood at the ready as Nicholas Hair, owner of The Kentish Belle, counted the seconds until the clock ticked over to a minute past midnight.
“Ladies and gentlemen, take your seats!” he said to applause.
Then, for the first time in months, he poured and served a pint.
“I mean, I’ve not seen my friends like this together for so long,” said Ryan Osbourne, 22. “When we have an opportunity like today to bring my friends together, it’s incredible.”
Not all pubs will be allowed to reopen on Monday — only the estimated 15,000 with outdoor space, for outdoor service only. And most of those will open later in the day.
But Mr. Hair had secured a special license to open The Kentish Belle, a small pub specializing in artisanal beers in a quiet southeast London neighborhood, at the earliest possible opportunity.
He was circled by news crews as he prepared to open.
The past year had been “dreadful,” he said, adding that he had not been able to access government funding for the past two months. “There are a lot of businesses like this that won’t survive.”
Uma Nunn, 43, traveled from Surrey to attend the night’s festivities. “We just wanted to show our support,” she said.
Her husband, Benjamin Nunn, a beer writer who spent the last open day for pubs at The Kentish Belle, said he thought it only fitting to return for the first. “This is one of the big things in my life, beer and music,” he said. “Now to be able to get that started up again, it’s energizing, it’s exciting.”
“It’s the middle of he night but hey, hopefully this will never happen again,” he added.
For the past year, the British economy has yo-yoed with the government’s pandemic restrictions. On Monday, as shops, outdoor dining, gyms and hairdressers reopened across England, the next bounce began.
The pandemic has left Britain with deep economic wounds that have shattered historical records: the worst recession in three centuries and record levels of government borrowing outside wartime.
Last March and April, there was an economic slump unlike anything ever seen before when schools, workplaces and businesses abruptly shut. Then a summertime boom, when restrictions eased and the government helped usher people out of their homes with a popular meal-discount initiative called “Eat Out to Help Out.”
Beginning in the fall, a second wave of the pandemic stalled the recovery, though the economic impact wasn’t as severe as it had been last spring. Still, the government has spent about 344 billion pounds, or $471 billion, on its pandemic response. To pay for it, the government has borrowed a record sum and is planning the first increase in corporate taxes since 1974 to help rebalance its budget.
By the end of the year, the size of Britain’s economy will be back where it was at the end of 2019, the Bank of England predicts. “The economy is poised like a coiled spring,” Andy Haldane, the central bank’s chief economist said in February. “As its energies are released, the recovery should be one to remember after a year to forget.”
Even though a lot of retail spending has shifted online, reopening shop doors will make a huge difference to many businesses.
Daunt Books, a small chain of independent bookstores, was busy preparing to reopen for the past week, including offering a click-and-collect service in all of its stores. Throughout the lockdown, a skeleton crew “worked harder than they’ve ever worked before, just to keep a trickle” of revenue coming in from online and telephone orders, said Brett Wolstencroft, the bookseller’s manager.
“The worst moment for us was December,” Mr. Wolstencroft said, when shops were shut in large parts of the country beginning on Dec. 20. “Realizing you’re losing your last bit of Christmas is exceptionally tough.”
He says he is looking forward to having customers return to browse the shelves and talk to the sellers. “We’d sort of turned ourselves into a warehouse” during the lockdown, he said, “but that doesn’t work for a good bookshop.”
With the likes of pubs, hairdressers, cinemas and hotels shut for months on end, Brits have built up more than £180 billion in excess savings, according to government estimates. That money, once people can get out more, is expected to be the engine of this recovery — even though economists are debating how much of this windfall will end up in the tills of these businesses.
Monday is just one phase of the reopening.Pubs can serve customers only in outdoor seating areas, and less than half, about 15,000, have such facilities. Hotels will also remain closed for at least another month alongside indoor dining, museums and theaters. The next reopening phase is scheduled for May 17.
Over all, two-fifths of hospitality businesses have outside space, said Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of U.K. Hospitality, a trade group.
“Monday is a really positive start,” she said. “It helps us to get businesses gradually back open, get staff gradually back off furlough and build up toward the real reopening of hospitality that will be May 17.”
Bessemer — the Alabama city where Amazon warehouse workers recently voted not to join a union — is named for Henry Bessemer, a British inventor who revolutionized steelmaking. When an Alabama businessman founded the city in 1887, he called it Bessemer in the hope that it would become a steel-industry center.
It did. Using iron ore and the other natural resources in Alabama, Bessemer’s steel mills thrived. They provided jobs that helped many workers build middle-class lives. They were typical of the broad-based American prosperity of the mid-20th century.
Today, those steel jobs are long gone, done in by technology and global competition. Bessemer no longer makes any steel. On the site of a former mill — one owned by U.S. Steel — is the giant Amazon warehouse that has been in the news because of the union vote.
Amazon soundly defeated the union’s organizing effort by emphasizing that it already paid well above the federal minimum wage of $7.25. And that’s true: All of its employees make at least $15 an hour. The message resonated. Relative to other jobs they might find, Amazon workers decided they were already doing pretty well.
that were once available — factory jobs and others that allowed workers to rise up the economic ladder — Amazon jobs don’t look so appealing. Fifteen dollars an hour for a full-time worker translates to about $31,000 a year, less than half of U.S. median family income and low enough in many cases for a family to qualify for subsidized school lunches.
That is not the kind of pay that seems likely to help the country again build a growing, thriving middle class. And Amazon jobs are looking more and more like the future of the U.S. economy.
‘Akin to a factory’
Amazon is the country’s fastest-growing company by many measures. Its founder and chairman, Jeff Bezos, is the world’s richest man. It employs about 1.3 million people worldwide, up from 750,000 only a year and a half ago. Among American companies, only Walmart has a larger work force.
Alec MacGillis, the author of an excellent new book about Amazon, called “Fulfillment,” points out that Amazon’s warehouse jobs have a lot in common with the industrial jobs of the past. They are among the main options for people who graduate from high school or community college without specific job skills. They are also physically demanding and dangerous.
MacGillis is careful to remind people about the injuries and deaths that came with old factory jobs, and he documents the similar risks that warehouse jobs can bring. Jody Rhoads was a 52-year-old mother and breast cancer survivor in Carlisle, Pa. Her neck was crushed by a steel rack while she was driving a forklift in an Amazon warehouse, killing her. (“We do not believe that the incident was work related,” an Amazon manager reported to the federal government, falsely suggesting her death was from natural causes.)
Spencer Cox, a former Amazon worker who’s now writing a Ph.D. thesis at the University of Minnesota about the company, told my colleague David Streitfeld, “Amazon is reorganizing the very nature of retail work — something that traditionally is physically undemanding and has a large amount of downtime — into something more akin to a factory, which never lets up.”
But for all of the similarities to factory work, Amazon jobs also have crucial differences. They are more isolating, as MacGillis explained to me. Rather than working in teams of people who are creating something, warehouse workers often work alone, interacting mostly with robots. Amazon jobs also pay less than many factory jobs did.
MacGillis tells the story of three generations of Bodani men who worked in the Sparrows Point steel mill, near Baltimore. The youngest, William Bodani Jr., was making $35 an hour in 2002 (about $52 in today’s dollars), along with bonuses. That’s enough for a solid middle-class income.
With the steel mill gone from Sparrows Point, Bodani instead took a job at the Amazon warehouse that occupies the same land. He was in his late 60s at the time and was making a fraction of what he once had.
It would be one thing if this sort of downward mobility were a reflection of the U.S. economy’s overall performance. But it’s not. Economic output is much higher, per person, than it was two decades ago and vastly higher than it was in Bessemer’s 20th century heyday. The bulk of the gains, however, have flowed to a narrow slice of workers — among the upper middle class and especially the affluent.
For many others, an Amazon job looks preferable to the alternatives, even if it is also part of the reason that so many American families are struggling.
the rapper DMX, who died on Friday.
Lives Lived: His famous clients included Marlon Brando, Magic Johnson, Morgan Freeman and Britney Spears. But he chose not to defend O.J. Simpson. Howard Weitzman has died at 81.
ARTS AND IDEAS
performing a song, often next to the singer. The best renditions don’t convey just the lyrics of a song; they convey its emotion.
writes in The Times. Deaf singers prepare by experiencing a song however they can. Mervin Primeaux-O’Bryant, a deaf actor and dancer, tucked a small speaker into his clothes, so that he could feel the vibrations of “Midnight Train to Georgia” while recording an interpretation for a series of American Sign Language covers of seminal songs by Black women.
“Sometimes interpreters don’t show the emotions that are tied to the music,” Primeaux-O’Bryant said. “And deaf people are like, ‘What is that?’”
In the performance, Primeaux-O’Bryant tugged at an invisible whistle to correspond to the woo-woo of the band’s horns. To interpret a drawn-out “oh,” he used movements that gently extended the words, his hands fluttering into his lap.
For more: Watch a clip of Primeaux-O’Bryant’s performance here.AndGQ profiled Matt Maxey, who translates Chance the Rapper at his concerts.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook
Saturday Night Live” reacted to the Derek Chauvin trial. Carey Mulligan hosted.
Now Time to Play
Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Where grizzlies might beat the heat (three letters).
If you’re in the mood to play more, find all our games here.
Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you tomorrow. — David
P.S. Sixty-six years ago today, a trial showed that Dr. Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine was highly effective. The results received “fanfare and drama far more typical of a Hollywood premiere than a medical meeting,” The Times reported.
You can see today’s print front page here.
Today’s episode of “The Daily” is about Europe’s vaccine rollout. On the Book Review podcast, Blake Bailey discusses his new biography of Philip Roth, and the debate over Roth’s legacy.
Claire Moses, Ian Prasad Philbrick, Tom Wright-Piersanti and Sanam Yar contributed to The Morning. You can reach the team at email@example.com.
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A parody on Chilean television of the Korean boy band BTS prompted an international backlash over the weekend, illustrating the power of the group’s many fans and a heightened sensitivity around the world to racist, particularly anti-Asian, speech.
In a short sketch on the show “Mi Barrio,” which aired Saturday on the Mega Channel in Chile, comedians satirized the South Korean supergroup, mocking the Korean language and associating the band’s members with the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un.
Asked to introduce themselves, the actors portraying the band’s members gave their names as “Kim Jong-Uno,” “Kim Jong-Dos,” “Kim Jong-Tres,” “Kim Jong-Cuatro” and “Juan Carlos.” Asked to say something in Korean, one comedian spoke in accented gibberish.
Fans of BTS are legion and fiercely loyal. They quickly came to the band’s defense and linked the jokes to wider issues of anti-Asian racism and xenophobia that have flared since the coronavirus surfaced last year in China.
Korean pop music fans coordinated to embarrass President Donald J. Trump by inflating ticket requests at a campaign rally.
At a time of increased anti-Asian rhetoric and violence across the internet and around the world, “Mi Barrio” quickly became the target of a larger antiracism campaign. The trading card company Topps faced a similar backlash last week after releasing Garbage Pail Kids cards that were intended to mock the band but were widely perceived as racist and tone deaf.
Not confined to Spanish-language social media and BTS fan accounts, outrage about the “Mi Barrio” episode quickly spread across the web, with the hashtag #RacismIsNotComedy becoming the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter in the United States on Sunday night. It was an indication that thousands of people were discussing the term at the same time.
“There is NOTHING funny about racism, especially in a time where Asian hate crimes have been rampant around the world. This is disgusting,” wrote one Twitter user.
Chilean BTS fan account with 150,000 followers pushed people to register a formal complaint against “Mi Barrio” with the country’s National Television Council, calling on the regulator to “ensure that racist attitudes and stereotypes are eliminated from Chilean television.”
In a statement posted to its Instagram account on Sunday, “Mi Barrio” struck a conciliatory, if not wholly contrite, tone. “We will continue to improve, learn, listen and strengthen our intention: to bring entertainment to families.”
BTS has not officially commented on the Chilean episode, but in a statement released in March about increased attacks against Asians, the group said, “We recall moments when we faced discrimination as Asians. We have endured expletives without reason and were mocked for the way we look. We were even asked why Asians spoke in English.”
“We stand against racial discrimination. We condemn violence. You, I and we all have the right to be respected,” the message concluded. “We will stand together.”
That statement, released on Twitter, has been liked more than two million times.
DAVOREN PARK, Australia — No one really knows when backyard sheds became meaningful to men, as a retreat and a place to tinker. But in the late 1990s, Australia made them communal. Hundreds of men’s sheds, as they came to be known, popped up across the country — where retirees or the out of work could stave off loneliness and depression by working on creative projects, gaining new skills and socializing.
All of which got Raelene Wlochowicz thinking: What about the women? It was the end of 2019, and she was about to retire after 28 years of working in Australia’s juvenile justice system. People kept asking her what she was going to do with her time.
“I don’t know,” she’d say. “I’m ready to finish my work life, but I’m not finished with my life.”
Always active, a working-class grandmother with bright red hair and a nose ring, she couldn’t stand the idea of playing cards in a senior center or sitting around gossiping over $4 coffee.
She knew that the first men’s shed had opened not far away, on the fancier side of Adelaide, the most industrial of Australia’s major cities and the capital of South Australia.
Women’s sheds are a newer development, and they often take on a broader mandate, in terms of whom they serve and the skills they aim to develop. Barry Golding, an adult education professor at Federation University Australia in Ballarat who wrote a book about men’s sheds, said women’s sheds were just starting to take off, with around 100 worldwide.
protests against sexual harassment are appearing outside Australia’s Parliament, the women’s shed has become another way to channel outrage and energy.
In Davoren Park, some of the women are survivors of domestic violence; others are widows or out of work. They come for protection, progress and fellowship.
Leanne Jenkins, 46, was one of the first members. A mother of two with a tightly pulled ponytail, she said she had been struggling with severe anxiety and depression when her therapist suggested that the shed might be a good place to make friends and develop new skills. At first, showing up brought panic attacks. Now, she’s at the shed almost every day.
“They treat me like family, and if I’m not here or not around for a week, they come get me,” she said. “I feel like I’m relied on. If I don’t make it to the shed, I actually feel guilty.”
Their first project was just getting the shed up to code. The water didn’t work, glass covered the floors, the bathrooms were foul.
They pulled in a small local grant, and the rest came from donations of time or goods. One day, Ms. Wlochowicz received a call from a woman whose sister had died, leaving a garage of arts and crafts supplies. Others offered more clothing and home supplies than they could ever need.
Some of it can now be found in a “room of love.” To get there requires walking down a long school hallway, past a wall of photos with women of all ages smiling and squeezed together. Inside, Ms. Wlochowicz snapped on the light to reveal a classroom made into an ad hoc store, with beauty supplies, dresses, jeans, towels and linens — all of it free for women fleeing domestic violence.
“When they run, they run with nothing,” she said.
It was one of many signs that this particular shed, in a forgotten corner of a wealthy and often sexist country, has never been just about socializing.
On a recent Tuesday, a dozen of the shed’s members, along with a few daughters and granddaughters, sat together in the arts and crafts room to practice for choir with a song they wrote about the shed that plays to the tune of “The House of the Rising Sun.”
Ms. Wlochowicz watched as their teacher, Katie Pomery, 23, a local singer-songwriter, conducted with her hands and smiled more with every verse.
“It is a place where friendship grows, and you can get free bread,” they sang. “The garden’s full of possums and beasts, the kitchen’s full of food. If you come here with a heavy heart, we’ll lighten up your mood.”
KAMPALA, Uganda — Bobi Wine’s eyes were bloodshot from little sleep. When he spoke, his thoughts trailed off, and his sentences sometimes lacked the precision and eloquence he employed while running for president. At times, he forgot to sip his coffee, even after bringing the mug to his lips.
Mr. Wine, 39, rose from a slum in Kampala, the capital, to become the foremost symbol of national resistance in Uganda, nicknamed the “Ghetto President.” But after an electrifying campaign that drew large crowds nationwide, the musician-turned-politician lost to President Yoweri Museveni in January’s election. He received 34 percent of the vote to the incumbent’s nearly 59 percent, according to Uganda’s electoral commission, despite accusations of vote tampering and rigging.
Now, three months after the end of a violent and bloody campaign season, Mr. Wine appeared nearly broken.
Among other things, Mr. Wine said his mind was on the government crackdown against his campaign, which started even before the election season and intensified in the weeks after the results were announced, when he filed a petition contesting them.
15-year-old nephew was kidnapped by unknown gunmen.
In his home, along a winding and potholed road named Freedom Drive, Mr. Wine was appraising the successes of his anti-government campaign while wondering how to build back an opposition movement that had been systemically assailed by Uganda’s president.
“Everything is worth freedom,” Mr. Wine said.
He was also quick to admit that his increasingly lonely and uphill fight had left him psychologically and physically exhausted. “It drains you when you do the right thing,” he said.
Mr. Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, rose to fame as a dreadlocked artist whose music — a blend of dance hall, reggae and Afrobeat — drew a wide following and was featured in a Disney movie.
filed to run for president, he became the most potent challenger to Mr. Museveni, who has ruled Uganda since 1986.
International Criminal Court, accusing the Ugandan government of human rights abuses against protesters, human rights lawyers and political figures, himself included. He also accused Mr. Museveni of trying to kill him.
“What is happening in Uganda seems to be a silent genocide,” Mr. Wine said.
In the streets of Kampala, Mr. Wine’s election posters remain on display, his serious face and raised fist still drawing support from his followers.
Sseguya Mukasa Kenneth, 27, knew Mr. Wine for years and even practiced boxing with him. In January, Mr. Kenneth was kidnapped and beaten by security officers, he said, and was offered money in exchange for spying on Mr. Wine, which he refused. Mr. Wine, he said, has shown that “the current generation is the hope for the future.”
The opposition leader has faced his own share of criticism, specifically his use of a bulletproof car and his decision to withdraw the petition challenging the election results.
Mr. Wine said the armored vehicle was meant to protect his life — he says he has survived three “assassination attempts” — and cited “bias” and “impunity” in the Supreme Court as the reasons for pulling the suit.
At one point during the interview, his 5-year-old daughter, Suubi Shine Nakaayi, approached him. Protectively clinging to him, she said: “I don’t want my father to go back to jail.”
Mr. Wine is also considering a return to the studio, though his longtime collaborator is in detention and his producer was injured in December.
“I have had to learn to proceed even when my friends are held back,” he said. “And the next time I am offered a louder microphone, which is the studio microphone, I will express exactly what’s on my mind.”
Last year’s winner of Mrs. World, a beauty pageant for married women, said she would return her crown after she snatched one off the head of the 2021 winner of Mrs. Sri Lanka World, claiming that she was divorced — a violation of pageant rules.
Pushpika de Silva had just been crowned Mrs. Sri Lanka World at a pageant in Colombo, Sri Lanka, last weekend when Caroline Jurie, the 2020 Mrs. World winner, took the stage and announced that “there is a rule that you have to be married and not divorced.”
“So,” she said, “I’m taking my first step saying that the crown goes to the first runner-up.”
Ms. Jurie, 28, then pulled the crown off Ms. de Silva’s head, pulling her hair in the process, before placing it on the runner-up, who was holding back tears and later gave an acceptance speech. Ms. de Silva left the stage as Ms. Jurie, the two runners-up and Chula Padmendra, a Sri Lankan model who was also onstage, hugged. Ms. Padmendra applauded and raised her fist in the air victoriously.
The scuffle was reminiscent of the one at the 2009 Video Music Awards, when Kanye West stormed the stage and grabbed a microphone from Taylor Swift, who had just won best female video, declaring: “I’m going to let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time.”
Facebook as “the first beauty pageant in the world for married women, created in 1984.” Ms. Jurie was crowned Mrs. World at the 2020 pageant in Las Vegas, according to the organization’s website.
Ms. de Silva said in a Facebook post after the episode that she was separated and not divorced. She said she had sustained “injuries to my skull” and was pursuing legal action against Ms. Jurie “for the injustice and insult that has taken place.” The police arrested Ms. Jurie and Ms. Padmendra “on charges of simple hurt and criminal cause,” BBC News reported.
“Even though my crown has been snatched in front of everyone insultfully, I will keep my head straight,” Ms. de Silva wrote.
A representative for the Mrs. World organization, which is based in California, according to its Facebook page, referred a request for comment to “where the incident occurred, in Sri Lanka.” One of the pageant’s organizers, Chandimal Jayasinghe, told BBC News: “We are disappointed. It was a disgrace how Caroline Jurie behaved on the stage and the Mrs. World organization has already begun an investigation on the matter.”
Ms. Jurie, who is Sri Lankan, said in a video posted on Instagram that she wanted to “express my dismay over the recent actions that led to controversy” and that she “only wanted a fair stage.”
“Even if I have to lose the crown for the values I stand for, I believe I am serving the purpose that the Mrs. World crown stands for,” she said before taking off the crown.
Ethel Gabriel, who in more than 40 years at RCA Victor is thought to have produced thousands of records, many at a time when almost no women were doing that work at major labels, died on March 23 in Rochester, N.Y. She was 99.
Her nephew, Ed Mauro, her closest living relative, confirmed her death.
Ms. Gabriel began working at RCA’s plant in Camden, N.J., in 1940 while a student at Temple University in Philadelphia. One of her early jobs was as a record tester — she would pull one in every 500 records and listen to it for manufacturing imperfections.
“If it was a hit,” she told The Pocono Record of Pennsylvania in 2007, “I got to know every note because I had to play it over and over and over.”
She also had a music background — she played trombone and had her own dance band in the 1930s and early ’40s — and her skill set earned her more and more responsibility, as well as the occasional role in shaping music history. She said she was on hand at the 1955 meeting in which the RCA executive Stephen Sholes signed Elvis Presley, who had been with Sun Records. She had a hand in “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White,” the 1955 instrumental hit by Pérez Prado that helped ignite a mambo craze in the United States.
Caroline Losneck and Christoph Gelfand, documentary filmmakers, were at work on “Living Sound,” a film about her.
Ms. Losneck, in a phone interview, said they had been hoping to complete the documentary by Ms. Gabriel’s 100th birthday this November.
Ms. Losneck said Ms. Gabriel had survived in a tough business through productivity and competence.
“She knew who to call when she needed an organist,” she said. “She knew how to manage the budget. All that gave her a measure of control.”
Many of the records Ms. Gabriel made fit into a category often marginalized as elevator music.
“It’s easy to look back on that music now and say it was kind of cheesy,” Ms. Losneck said, “but back then it was part of the cultural landscape.”
Toward the end of her career, as more women began entering the field, Ms. Gabriel was both an example and a mentor. Nancy Jeffries, who went to work in RCA’s artists-and-repertoire department in 1974 and had earlier sung with the band the Insect Trust, was one of those who learned from her.
who persuaded her to turn over to him her retirement package — more than $250,000 — so that he could invest it in the hope that the proceeds would finance future music ventures. The money disappeared, and Mr. Anderson, who died in 1989, was later convicted of tax evasion.
Ms. Gabriel lived in the Poconos for a number of years before moving to a care center in Rochester to be near Mr. Mauro and his family. As she died at a hospital there, Mr. Mauro said, the staff had Sinatra songs playing in her room.
LONDON — He is the hyperbolic news anchor with an agenda, the disgruntled Meghan Markle skeptic vying for Piers Morgan’s job, the British aristocrat insisting he is simply middle class — and those are just a few of the characters in Munya Chawawa’s arsenal.
But during a Zoom interview last month, Mr. Chawawa, 28, speaking from his London apartment in a neon hoodie, was exploring his own persona.
“I make content because I need to express how I’m feeling about the world,” he said of his comedy. “You have to have some form of catharsis when the world throws stuff at you, otherwise you’ll just go crazy.”
Mr. Chawawa’s dry sketches about racism, classism and everyday life in Britain had already found an audience before the pandemic. But in lockdown, his potent combination of singing, comedy acting and rapping has helped establish him as a sardonic voice of progressive young people in an increasingly diverse nation who are unimpressed by elitism and skeptical of the establishment.
appears in promotions for Netflix U.K.
In such a year, “humor has been a much-needed tonic,” Mr. Chawawa said. And the string of successes has fueled an ambitious goal: “I’m working toward being one of the country’s most respected satirists.”
Satire, to Mr. Chawawa — whose comedy heroes are John Oliver, Andy Zaltzman and Sacha Baron Cohen, among others — feels “like a superpower.” That’s not only because of the challenge of execution but also because of satire’s ability to extract humor from situations that are not supposed to be funny at all, he said.
“Anything you laugh at can’t haunt or hurt you as much as it used to do,” he said.
Given the state of the world today, there is plenty of material for him to work with.
When critics called food packages for poor children too meager, Mr. Chawawa was ready with a sketch about a wealthy lawmaker scrambling to respond: “We can’t feed them but we could put them in a film — ‘The Hungrier Games.’” He has parodied British journalists brainstorming headlines about the Duchess of Sussex using the game Cards Against Humanity (“Meghan Kidnapped Peppa Pig,”) and a security guard letting rioters into the U.S. Capitol upon hearing they are white: “You’re already wearing your pass! It’s called white privilege.”
debate over U.K. drill — a subgenre of hip-hop music that British authorities have tried to censor, blaming it for a rise in knife crimes in London.
For many young Black men and women, drill was an important form of self-expression, Mr. Chawawa said, giving voice to the frustrations and realities of life in a period of austerity. Mr. Chawawa said he was disturbed by the appropriation of the genre, with “posh white kids singing the lyrics” as it filtered into private schools.
Born in Derby, England, Mr. Chawawa spent his childhood in Zimbabwe, his father’s birthplace, before his family moved to a small village near Norwich, England. His first exposure to comedy was through his grandfather, whose jokes over the dinner table made him the center of attention.
In England, where his was one of the few families of color in the area, Mr. Chawawa stifled his natural extroversion, which had been encouraged in Zimbabwe. “Slowly, I stopped putting my hand up,” he said.
In college, he studied psychology but found himself spending all his time in the student radio hub. He also worked as a waiter at a high-end restaurant in Norwich, where customers sometimes complimented his English. There, he picked up useful insights into the ways of the ultrawealthy. It struck him when he moved to London that this world could be a mine of comedy gold.
is real,” he said, grinning. He said he would welcome the opportunity for the character to “get some real cultural insights.”
For now, Mr. Chawawa is enjoying the chance to lean into that natural extroversion. “My dad always used to say to me, ‘When you were in Zimbabwe you were so bold.’” Being a satirist now, he added, is “a resurgence of the guy I used to be.”