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Cultural Diversity

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While European and American TV and film producers take care to have dialogue dubbed into foreign languages using voices that are appropriate for each actor, the dubbing in Poland continues to be done by "lektors" males with smoking-seasoned voices who speak the dialogue of all the characters in a story in the same pitch. The trick, according to an October Wall Street Journal dispatch, is "speaking so smoothly that viewers forget that Paris Hilton sounds like a Polish Johnny Cash." One experiment using six different actors for the cast of an episode of "Friends" bombed with viewers, and the next week, the lektor returned.

In November, an association of Ugandan activists of Rwandan descent complained to the Ugandan Parliament that the government was discriminating against its women, in that passport-application officials single them out to verify their Ugandan nationality based on the whether their derrieres and legs are sufficiently large. According to a columnist for the newspaper East African, "Uganda is a society that's besotted with women's buttocks like few other places are." (Immigration officials denied that they "profile.")

Jacob Zuma, a flamboyant Zulu activist since his teen years, was elected president of the African National Congress in December and is a presumed shoo-in to become president of South Africa in 2009, despite a 2005 rape trial (at which he was acquitted). Zuma had testified that the sex was consensual, that "(i)n Zulu culture, you cannot leave a woman if she is ready. To deny her sex, that would have been tantamount to rape." He also said that he had not bothered with a condom even though he knew she was HIV-positive, cheerfully explaining, "I had a shower afterward." (The rate of HIV infection in Zuma's KwaZulu-Natal province is about 40 percent.)

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