The World Today for October 25, 2023

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Failing a State


Kenyan lawmakers are considering a plan to deploy 1,000 police to Haiti.

This unique effort – an African democracy sending peacekeeping forces to aid a former French colony where ethnic Africans staged a groundbreaking slave revolt more than two centuries ago – comes as gangs have ravaged Haiti.

“Haiti is in desperate straits … Murderous gangs control 90 percent of the nation’s capital, Port-au-Prince,” wrote the Council on Foreign Relations. “Since 2022, these gangs have killed nearly 3,000 mostly slum dwellers, kidnapped 1,300 wealthy and not-so-wealthy local inhabitants, and terrorized the city of three million.”

Haiti requested the intervention a year ago. In early October, the United Nations Security Council approved the deployment of Kenyan law enforcement as well as officers from Antigua-Barbuda, the Bahamas, and Jamaica as the world watched Haiti descend into chaos.

“More than just a simple vote, this is in fact an expression of solidarity with a population in distress,” said Haiti’s Foreign Affairs Minister Jean Victor Généus after the Security Council vote. “It’s a glimmer of hope for the people who have been suffering for too long.”

But a Kenyan court put the deployment on hold until Nov. 9 when it would rule on challenges to the idea, the Associated Press wrote. Critics contend that under the Kenyan constitution, only the military, not law enforcement, can go abroad, for example.

As the attorneys litigate, around 60 percent of Haitians live on less than $2 a day, making it the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. The country, furthermore, hasn’t held elections since President Jovenel Moïse’s assassination in 2021.

Prime Minister Ariel Henry is running the country with the support of the international community, but order must be restored before civil society can operate again.

Kenya might be seeking to flex its muscles on the international stage. It might also be courting the White House. The US has pledged as much as $200 million to the Haitian peacekeeping effort, reported Al Jazeera, but has resisted putting boots on the ground. The US, of course, has occupied Haiti numerous times throughout history, as Foreign Policy magazine noted.

It’s wary of being seen to do that again.

Analysts have warned that the US might be funding a boondoggle, however, said Semafor. One thousand cops won’t be enough to stop the rampant gangs. Furthermore, human rights activists and others in Haiti have also rejected the thought of a Kenyan or other foreign force descending upon their country to put things right. They remember when such a force created major issues and committed crimes such as the sexual abuse of minors when they sought to restore order starting in 2004, the New York Times detailed.

It’s a desperate measure for a desperate situation.


Practicing for Liberties


Venezuelan conservative politician Maria Corina Machado won the opposition’s first presidential primary this week, a victory that could see her challenging socialist incumbent Nicolás Maduro in next year’s presidential elections, the Washington Post reported.

Results showed that Machado secured more than 92 percent of the vote in an unofficial poll that saw more than 1.5 million Venezuelans – in the country and abroad – cast their ballots.

The government did not support Sunday’s primary vote, dismissing it as fraud.

The vote came less than a week after the Venezuelan government and the opposition signed an agreement in Barbados to hold competitive and internationally monitored presidential elections in 2024.

Under the agreement, the government will allow all parties to select their candidates, grant them access to media and allow international observers to monitor the vote.

The Barbados deal is part of a larger agreement between the United States and Venezuela to ease sanctions: In return for free and fair presidential elections, the Biden administration would ease sanctions on Venezuela’s oil, gas and gold industry.

Following the signing of the Barbados deal, the US released a general license permitting American companies to participate in transactions that were previously prohibited, particularly in the state-controlled energy industry. This license is initially valid for six months with the possibility of renewal contingent on the authoritarian government “(meeting) its commitments” for elections, and “with respect to those who are wrongfully detained.”

Analysts said that despite overwhelming support for Machado, there are lingering questions surrounding her candidacy and eligibility for the 2024 presidential election.

The government has banned Machado from holding public office for 15 years. During the Barbados negotiations, officials did not promise to lift bans on numerous popular opposition candidates.

Machado also will have to unite Venezuela’s fractured opposition and her policy goals – such as privatizing the lucrative state-run oil industry – could alienate some members of the opposition movement.

New Faces, Old Faces


Indonesia’s Constitutional Court ruled against a petition that sought to impose restrictions on individuals over the age of 70 or those linked to human rights abuses from running for president, a verdict that clears the path for a controversial 72-year-old former general to run in next year’s presidential elections, the Associated Press reported.

The case centers on a petition by human rights groups asking the top court whether the existing 2017 General Election Law complied with the constitution.

Petitioners said the election legislation does not set a maximum age for presidential candidates, while noting that the constitution requires candidates to be “mentally and physically capable” for the office.

But the court rejected the arguments, saying that it was up to parliament to set limits on the presidency.

The ruling is a blow for human rights groups, who were hoping to prevent Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto from running in the 2024 elections.

Subianto, a former special forces general, has been a controversial figure in Indonesian politics, and has been accused of human rights abuses committed during the dictatorship of Gen. Suharto – who ruled the country from 1968 to 1998.

While the petitioners explained that they were not targeting a specific candidate, Subianto’s candidacy has been a source of concern for human rights activists.

The Constitutional Court’s decision is final. It comes just a week after the same court ruled that current and former regional governors below the age of 40 can run as presidential or vice-presidential candidates.

Subianto selected Gibran Rakabuming Raka, the 36-year-old mayor of the city of Surakarta and son of current President Joko Widodo as his running mate.

Recent opinion polls suggested that Subianto has a significant lead over his rivals in the upcoming election, although a considerable portion of voters remain undecided.

The Blame Game


China this week denied involvement in the damaging of an underwater gas pipeline linking Finland with Estonia and the European Union, an incident that Finnish investigators have labeled as sabotage, Al Jazeera reported.

Earlier this month, Finnish authorities discovered that the Balticconector gas pipeline was leaking and initially suggested that “outside activity” had caused the damage.

Investigators said they are probing whether the Chinese container vessel, Newnew Polar Bear, was involved in the incident, which also saw two telecom cables cut.

Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation noted that a “heavy object” was found near the pipeline, adding that “an external mechanical force” caused the damage.

Finnish and Estonian officials have been communicating with Chinese authorities over the matter.

Beijing has urged the European nations to conduct an “objective, fair and professional” investigation, while rejecting suggestions that China was responsible for the damage.

The pipeline damage comes amid a period of increased concern for the security of energy supplies in the EU following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year.

The Baltic region is particularly vulnerable because of a limited number of energy links to the rest of the bloc. The recent incident prompted NATO to increase its patrols in the Baltic Sea.


Save That Brew

Beer is going to change in taste and become more expensive because of climate change, Sky News reported.

In their study, scientists focused on the growth of hops, one of the critical ingredients in beer that gives it its unique taste and aroma.

They explained that hops are vulnerable to the effects of climate change, particularly the increasing frequency of agricultural droughts.

Hops are grown in various regions across Europe, and they are responsible for the citrus, floral, and fruit aromas found in many beer varieties.

However, these regions are now facing challenges as changing climate conditions are affecting hop production.

Researchers predict a decline in hop yields ranging from 12 percent to 35 percent from 2021 to 2050 in key hop-growing areas in Europe. The United Kingdom, along with countries like Slovenia, Portugal, and Spain, is expected to be particularly affected by these decreases in hop production.

To mitigate these potential consequences, the team recommended that farmers and the beer industry should find ways “to adapt” to limit the impact of the heating globe on the crops.

This would include expanding the areas where aroma hops are grown by about 20 percent compared with current production areas. Such measures could help stabilize the international beer market, ensuring that the beverage’s quality and availability are not significantly compromised because of climate change.

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