Compass World: Blackface Scandal Rocks Canada



Investment Funds Warn Against Amazon Deforestation
A consortium of 200 investment funds has requested that companies take a more active role in fighting the deforestation and destruction of the Amazon rainforest. The funds warned companies whose supply chains benefit from deforestation. The funds cited regulatory, operational, and reputational risks to firms that have supply chains dependent on deforestation. The funds also urged companies to establish a no-deforestation policy, but did not advise against investments in Brazil. A Brazilian government spokesperson said that Brazil’s government is “adopting all measures to deal with the fire and deforestation crisis,” but fires have tripled in the year since President Jair Bolsonaro entered office.



Taiwan Warns Against Travel to Mainland China
Taiwan’s ruling party recently said that travel to mainland China and Hong Kong is no longer safe for Taiwanese nationals. The Taiwanese government is becoming increasingly frustrated that China will not reveal the location of several Taiwanese nationals, including that of Tsai Chin-shu, chairman of an organization promoting better cross-strait interactions. Other detainees have included Taiwanese citizens involved in the Hong Kong protests. This lack of transparency is symptomatic of the lack of cross-strait communication since the 2016 Taiwanese presidential election, in which the Democratic Progressive Party, which favors eventual independence for Taiwan, was swept into office. The official statement could have considerable ramifications for both economies, as an estimated one million Taiwanese citizens live in mainland China. Even more worrisome is that China represents Taiwan’s largest trading partner, which could further damage Taiwan’s economy after the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced in August that tourists from mainland China were no longer allowed to travel independently.



Netanyahu Calls for Unified Leadership Following Loss
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his rival Benny Gantz are jostling over the terms of a unity government after the country's second election in a year ended in deadlock. Gantz publicly rejected any offers of a unified government and described any proposal from Netanyahu as “spin.” Neither candidate’s party won enough seats to capture a majority, which means they would need to form a unified government or a coalition with the party Israel Our Home. Observers see the results of the election as a further blow to Netanyahu’s political power, as he also faces a hearing next month regarding charges of corruption.

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Czech President Seeks Derecognition of Kosovo
Czech President Milos Zeman remarked on September 11 that he would like to revoke his country’s recognition of Kosovo’s independence. Kosovo claimed its independence from Serbia in 2008 following years of conflict. Its claim of sovereignty is recognized by 100 United Nations member states, including 23 in the European Union. In response to Zeman’s comments, Kosovo withdrew its planned participation in a Visegrad Four and Western Balkans summit that was held in Prague on September 12. Zeman indicated that he would consult constitutional experts rather than take unilateral action.



Ethiopia Rejects Proposal by Egypt
Ethiopia announced that it is rejecting a proposal from Egypt which would allow the Egyptian government to operate a hydroelectric dam on the Nile River. Citing concerns over water shortages, Egyptian officials requested control over the dam as well as increases in the volume of water flowing into Egypt. Egypt relies on the Nile for 90 percent of its fresh water, according to Reuters. Sileshi Bekele, minister for water, irrigation, and energy, described Egypt’s plan, including the volume of water it wants the dam to release annually, as “inappropriate.” The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, announced in 2011, is designed to be the centrepiece of Ethiopia’s bid to become Africa’s biggest power exporter. Ethiopian officials say that the dam will begin operations in 2020 and be fully operational by 2022.



Blackface Scandal Rocks Canada
TIME released a photograph on September 18 which the news organization had discovered in a school yearbook that revealed Justin Trudeau in blackface for an Arabian Nights-themed party. After the photo was published, Trudeau also admitted to having worn blackface at a talent show when he was in high school, and a video later came out of a separate incident where he is once again in blackface. These revelations have come out at the same time that Trudeau has begun to campaign for a second term in a vote set for October 21. Before the photos had become known to the public, polls and general sentiment indicated that the election would be close, but it is not yet clear how strong the impact of this news will be on the race. Trudeau apologized after the news came out, calling his choice to wear blackface racist, even though he did not consider it to be derogatory at the time.


Writing contributed by Adam Hilelly, Ben Richmond, and Benjamin Barth.