World Stories You May Have Missed: April 2018


As we near ever closer to Summer, it’s the end of the month once again, meaning it’s time for another edition of the series which explores some of the stranger world stories which may have passed you by over the last month.

A well funded school, for its size…

A school in New Zealand hit the headlines at the start of the month after it was revealed that the school still received NZ$200,000 of state funding despite only having one student enrolled.

It was originally intended that Hato Pētera School, located on Auckland’s North Shore, would receive NZ$330,000 for a projected roll of 15 students, according to the school’s commissioner Lex Hamill – who is responsible for overseeing operational matters. However, the funding amount was lowered due to the fact that there was actually only one student in attendance. The state funds do not pay the salaries of school staff.

Hamill acknowledged the difficulties of running such a small school with an increasingly dilapidated building in a statement to RadioNZ.

‘Our issue with four teachers and also a limited number of students is (how) to offer a balanced programme’, he said.

A draconian proposal

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni made international headlines last month after he appeared to suggest banning oral sex in the country entirely. In a recorded speech uploaded to video sharing site YouTube and shared widely on social networks, Mr Museveni said that the ‘wrong’ practice had been introduced into the country by ‘outsiders’, and asserted that the ‘the mouth is for eating, not for sex’.

Museveni’s tenure as president, which began in 1986, has seen the adoption of an increasingly hostile stance towards the country’s LGBTQ+ community. An Anti-Homosexuality Act, passed in 2013, introduced prison sentences of up to 14 years for those convicted of homosexual acts. It also made it a criminal offence not to report someone for being gay.

Amid widespread international criticism and negative responses, including the imposition of US sanctions against the country in retaliation, the law was nullified by the country’s Constitutional Court in August 2014.

However, Uganda remains a hostile environment for those who openly identify as LGBTQ+, with families continuing to disown LGBT relatives and landlords evicting LGBT tenants. Polls also suggest that the law which many outside of the country would perceive as draconian has received widespread public support. A survey conducted by Pew Research Center in 2013 found that 96% of Ugandans were opposed to homosexuality.

An electrifying journey

Forging ahead towards its target of achieving independence from fossil fuels by 2030, this month Sweden has opened the world’s first stretch of electrified road. Although short, at only 2km (1.2 miles) in length, the stretch of public road near the capital Stockholm is an important step forward in solving the common issues of short battery life and long charging times which have plagued the development of electric vehicles.

A movable arm attached to the bottom of the electric vehicle is used to pick up energy in a similar way to how a toy Scalextric track operates. If a car moves to overtake, the arm automatically disconnects from the road.

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The road itself is efficient also, as it’s divided into 50 metre sections only powered when a vehicle is using them. Power is also disconnected when a vehicle stops, and the technology is capable of calculating a vehicle’s energy consumption, meaning users and vehicles can be charged accurately according to their actual usage.

Supersonic flight

‘Fowl play’ has caused a stir in Western Switzerland after at least one duck has flouted Swiss law. As DW reports, speed cameras on a road in Köniz (a district south west of the city of Bern), snapped the bird flying at a low altitude at a speed of 52 km/h. The speed limit for vehicles on the road in question is a mere 30 kilometres an hour.

Three days later, the camera caught another duck flying at a similar speed, but police in the area have so far been unable to verify if the suspect is just the one repeat offender.

Either way, the birds are lucky not to have been fined! Driving 22 km/h over the speed limit in an urban area in Switzerland could result in a hefty fine for any human unfortunate enough to trigger a speed trap, as the country calculates fines based on an offender’s wealth.

I know it smells bad, but…

On the 29th of April, over 500 lecturers and students were evacuated from the campus of the RMIT University, Australia, after a smell which was thought to be gas. In fact, the smell which students thought to be gas was a rotting Durian which had been left in a cupboard in the institution’s library.

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The Durian is a tropical fruit well known for its pungent smell, and highly regarded in South East Asia for its sweet and creamy flesh. In this case, its scent had permeated the entire library building through its ventilation system. As the building normally stores hazardous chemicals, the Melbourne Metropolitan Fire Brigade launched an investigation to find the source of the odour, which was eventually discovered via a ‘comprehensive search’.

Just as well Hartley Library doesn’t smell that bad during exam season…


Deputy Editor 2017-18, International Editor 2015-17. Languages graduate interested in Latin America, world news, media and politics.

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