The World Today for November 21, 2017



A Little Hygge – For Foreigners, Too

At a time when America is building a wall on the Mexican border, Britain is quitting the European Union partly due to immigration and Germany has been cooling its welcoming policy towards refugees, Denmark is an outlier.

The tiny Nordic country is vigorously international.

On Nov. 21, for example, when voters go to the polls in municipal elections, many won’t even hold Danish passports. Around 15 percent of the electorate in the capital city of Copenhagen will be foreign, reported the Local.

In addition to EU citizens, Norwegians and Icelanders, foreigners living in Denmark for more than three years can cast votes for local politicians. EU citizens alone comprise around 4 percent of the electorate, enough to sway a contest if the margins are close enough.

The idea is not so new. A handful of American cities allow foreigners to vote in local elections, according to the Washington Post.

In Chile, Namibia and New Zealand, foreigners can vote after a set period of residency, Deutsche Welle reported.

In the run-up to German elections, the issue also came up. Almost 8 million long-time residents without nationality or with dual nationality were disenfranchised. In Berlin, that was one in five residents.

Still, some Danes don’t like the idea of giving foreigners a say.

“In local elections, a very few votes can have a great influence on the outcome and I don’t think it is reasonable that we in Denmark should run the risk of letting a few foreigners decide,” Holger Gorm Petersen, a local politician in Vejle from the nationalist Nye Borgelige party told the Copenhagen Post.

But the majority disagrees.

Openness to others is a hallmark of Denmark these days, in spite of misgivings during the refugee crisis that began in 2015.

“The challenges we face across Europe are essentially the same, and we should seek inspiration from one another as we strive to optimize our economies for the 21st century,” wrote Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen in Politico recently.

Similarly, in an open letter in the Guardian to Britons dismayed by Brexit, Danish Social Liberal Party boss Morten Østergaard half-jokingly suggested they move to Denmark, where labor shortages are holding back job creation.

“Even though our weather is just as bad as in Britain, we still have a lot to offer,” he wrote.

Yes they do, say some, noting the phenomenon called “Hygge” (cozy, warm, contentedness) and since last year, it’s become a huge export, too – via Amazon.




A CNN report depicting what the channel said was a slave auction of black African migrants in Libya continues to reverberate around the world, with Burkina Faso recalling its ambassador and the head of the United Nations saying he was “horrified” by the footage.

Burkina Faso “summoned the Libyan charge d‘affairs in (Burkina Faso’s capital) Ouagadougou to express our indignation at these images that belong to other centuries, images of the slave trade,” Reuters cited the country’s Foreign Minister Alpha Barry as saying.

Hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the Libyan Embassy in central Paris on Saturday, the New York Times noted. And UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Monday called on the authorities to investigate, saying the alleged sales “may amount to crimes against humanity.”

Following up on a grainy cell phone video, CNN carried out a hidden-camera investigation to document alleged slave auctions in Tripoli in which reporters witnessed a dozen people sold as laborers over a few short minutes.


Judge Not

For the first time in its 71-year history, Britain will not have a judge on the bench of the International Court of Justice, following the withdrawal of Sir Christopher Greenwood on Monday.

Greenwood’s exit will allow the rival Indian candidate, Dalveer Bhandari, to fill the final vacancy on the ICJ, the UK’s Guardian newspaper reported. Greenwood had faced mounting opposition from the United Nations General Assembly, reflecting Britain’s diminished influence in the wake of the Brexit decision.

The ICJ is composed of 15 judges elected to nine-year terms by the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council. In earlier rounds, judges from Brazil, France, Lebanon and Somalia had been added to the bench. The US withdrew from compulsory jurisdiction in 1986 after the court ruled that its covert war against Nicaragua was illegal.

Prior to Greenwood’s withdrawal, he’d been holding on with nine votes in the UN Security Council against Bhandari’s five, though the Indian candidate had trounced him in the general assembly vote.


Strumming Pain

Washington is ending a program granting temporary protected status to nearly 60,000 Haitians, which allowed them to live and work in the US following a devastating earthquake in 2010.

Those covered under the program will be expected to leave the United States by July 2019 or face deportation, the New York Times reported.

The decision was expected, but Haiti was lobbying the Trump administration to extend the program, as the country still relies heavily on money its expatriates send to relatives back home.

The catastrophic earthquake measured 7.0 on the Richter scale, with an epicenter just 16 miles from the capital of Port-au-Prince. The destruction affected some 3 million people, and killed as many as 300,000 – though the Haitian government has been accused of inflating the death toll.

The US Department of Homeland Security said Monday that the conditions that prompted the decision to allow the Haitians to remain in the US “no longer exist,” USA Today reported. Some US lawmakers contended that Haiti – which was also hit by hurricane Matthew in 2016 – isn’t ready to take back the displaced citizens.


The King of Nowhere

That’s it, folks – the last habitable piece of land on Earth unclaimed by any sovereign state has been snatched up.

Well, sort of.

Twenty-four-year-old Suyash Dixit, a tech CEO from India, recently made himself king of a desolate, 800 square-mile strip of land straddling the border between Egypt and Sudan, Newsweek reported.

After scoping out the barren territory known as Bir Tawali, a supposed hot-bed of terrorist activity, Dixit mounted a flag and renamed it the “Kingdom of Dixit.”

He naturally made his claim official via Facebook post, saying “I declare this unclaimed land of Bir Tawil as my country from now to the eternity of time,” and invited prospective citizens and government employees to apply through the kingdom’s website. Hundreds have already submitted applications.

It’s not the first time that an unclaimed territory has been commandeered by entrepreneurial spirits. In 2015, a Czech libertarian established the Free Republic of Liberland on a disputed territory between Serbia and Croatia. And it’s also not the first time that someone has laid claim to Dixit’s kingdom.

Even so – as any new monarch would – he has vowed to protect his territory from usurpers.

“If they want it back, there will be a war (over a cup of coffee at the Starbucks probably)!”

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