Compass World: Home, Sweet Homeland
A Deeper Look
Following November 6 midterm elections in the United States, Democrats have taken control of the House of Representatives. Republicans maintain control of the Senate, opening up the possibility of gridlock until the next election in 2020. Stay tuned for upcoming coverage from the Caravel on how the new dynamics of Congress will affect U.S. foreign policy and the world.
Latin America & the Caribbean
ICE, ICE Baby
Police in Peru on November 7 arrested 14 people allegedly affiliated with an infant-trafficking ring led by the former-head of the Peruvian national police force, Raúl Becerra, and his partner, Cinthia Tello. In a country where abortion is only permitted when the mother is in immediate physical and mental danger, the traffickers sought out poor pregnant women who could not legally get abortions and offered them money in exchange for their babies upon birth. The traffickers then sold each infant for 4,000 Peruvian soles ($1,187). During the raid, one five-month-old baby was saved, and investigators are looking into whether the babies were sold to foreign couples looking to adopt or organ traffickers.
Does Fire Work?
After a night of Diwali celebrations on November 7, residents of Delhi woke up to a toxic smog hanging above their heads on November 8. Despite a Supreme Court order to limit firecracker use for celebrations to a two-hour timeframe before midnight, many in Delhi openly ignored the restrictions and continued their celebration late into the night. Particulate matter (PM) concentrations in Delhi were dangerously high, with PM 10 particle concentration, which includes coarse particles such as dust and pollen, and PM 2.5 particle concentration, which includes finer particles such as combustion particles, both reaching peaks of about 4,500 µg/m3. The World Health Organization’s recommended values for PM 10 and PM 2.5 concentrations are 20 µg/m3 and 10 µg/m3, respectively.
Middle East & Central Asia
After the Supreme Court acquitted her of blasphemy charges against Islam, Asia Bibi, a Christian woman, has reportedly been released and smuggled out of Pakistan. Bibi’s acquittal sparked violent protests in Islamabad that have stoked fears among Pakistan’s Christian minority. Evidently, Bibi, her lawyer, and her family were all flown to the Netherlands by that country’s ambassador to Pakistan. The Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs has disputed reports that Bibi has left the country. Bibi has spent the last eight years on death row for allegedly criticising the Prophet Muhammad in 2010.
Eastern Europe & Russia
Oil, oil toil and trouble
During Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s visit to Warsaw, Polish energy firm PGNiG signed an agreement securing 24 years of natural gas supply with American firm Cheniere. Natural gas is a hot-button issue in Europe, with most countries relying on gas imported through Russian pipelines from the East. Poland and Ukraine have expressed concern in recent months over the now-approved Nord Stream II gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea, which will cut eastern Europe out of the West’s energy supply entirely. Against this concern, some European states have sought to diversify their natural gas imports through new deals with the U.S., Israel, and Egypt.
Home, Sweet Homeland
Africanews reports that Maurice Kamto, the opposition leader that lost Cameroon’s October 7 election to incumbent President Paul Biya, has been placed under house arrest. According to reports, Kamto was arrested while leading a political rally. Kamto’s arrest came just hours after Biya was sworn in, claiming victory with 71 percent. Biya’s inauguration was held up by claims of voting irregularities, but the Constitutional Council ruled that Kamto’s accusations of an unfair electoral process had no legal merit.
Western Europe & Canada
Age is just a court order
A 69-year-old Dutch man has submitted a petition to his local court in Arnhem to lower his age by 20 years. Emile Ratelband, a motivational speaker, was born in 1949 but does not feel physically or mentally “comfortable” with this age. Doctors apparently likened his body to that of a 45-year-old, and Ratelband argued that official age did not match his emotional state. “I feel I suffer under my age,” Ratelband claimed, citing alleged discrimination on the dating app Tinder.
Writing contributed by Abigail Adams-Spiers and Stephen Cho.