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Pulitzer Center Update March 4, 2014

This Week: A Government Shutdown

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Image by Daniella Zalcman. Uganda, 2014.
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As Uganda struggles with anti-homosexuality legislation, the growing LGBT-rights movement continues...

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On Monday, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed into law a bill that toughens penalties against gay people and makes some homosexual acts crimes punishable by life in prison. Here, Akram Kalungi, a gay man from Kampala who works in a video store, is pictured with his partner. Image by Daniella Zalcman. Uganda, 2014.

TARGETING GAYS

Activists have gone underground: "One group burned its paperwork and campaign posters, and many individuals toned down their online presence, changing their names or photos on Facebook or deleting Twitter or Instagram accounts. Scores of people have left the country."

A government crackdown against dissidents? No, this is a government crackdown against sexual orientation. Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni last week signed a law that criminalizes homosexual acts. First offenders face prison sentences of up to 14 years.

Pulitzer Center grantee Daniella Zalcman has been in Uganda documenting the hidden lives of the country's gay and lesbian community. Her poignant photographs, in The Wall Street Journal and on CNN's website, tell the story of their quiet struggle.

This is not the story of one misguided African country. From Jamaica to Russia, anti-gay discrimination is a growing human rights concern. The Pulitzer Center is justly proud not only of Daniella, but also grantees Micah Fink and Misha Friedman for producing a body of reporting that has helped bring attention to this global crisis.

A CRISIS FORETOLD

Simply put, Pulitzer Center Senior Adviser Marvin Kalb is a national treasure. A student of Russian history and a former Moscow bureau chief for CBS News, Marvin told us last week to watch the Crimea. "If the Russians there demand Moscow's military assistance, they are likely to get it," he wrote in his blog for the Brookings Institution.

Four days later, Vladimir Putin's troops were in full control of the Crimea. "And then what does the West do? Wail and bemoan Ukraine's fate? The Russians have been umbilically linked to Ukraine for a thousand years. Though Ukraine has been independent for more than 20 years, for most of its life, it has been part of the Russian or Soviet empires," Marvin wrote.

So what does Putin do next? "He will undoubtedly do what is in Russia's best interest. He has some time. He can play his game with patience and skill, or, by a foolish, precipitous action, plunge the region into chaos."

FREE GOLD

"Tarnished: The True Cost of Gold," the Pulitzer Center's new e-book, is available for free for a few more days, until March 7. After that the price will be $9.99. The book showcases the work of 11 Pulitzer Center journalists in a dazzling multimedia presentation that covers topics ranging from child labor and safety hazards to the environmental consequences of gold mining. All proceeds from the book's sale go to the contributing journalists.

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