1 | Haiti
Disputed Election Results
Thousands of demonstrators swarmed Port-au-Prince's streets on Dec. 8 to protest Haiti's presidential-election results, which will pit former First Lady Mirlande Manigat against Jude Celestin, a member of President René Préval's Unity Party, in a January runoff. The U.S. embassy called the outcome "inconsistent" with official election observations, which placed pop singer Michel Martelly in second place over Celestin, thought to be Préval's chosen successor. Public furor following the disorganized election is likely to intensify in light of a recent report by a French epidemiologist that links Haiti's lethal cholera outbreak--which has killed over 2,000--to U.N. peacekeeping troops from Nepal. Both Nepal and the U.N. rejected the report's findings, saying the troops are not to blame.
2 | Seoul
U.S. to China: Check Your Neighbor
The Obama Administration is pushing China to exert economic and political pressure on North Korea, the rogue totalitarian state that has fanned tensions in East Asia since shelling a South Korean island Nov. 23. Beijing is Pyongyang's main ally and is seen as the sole actor capable of reining in North Korea's confrontational behavior. Since the November attack, the U.S., South Korea and Japan have agreed to mount a united response against the North. The U.S. and South Korea conducted military exercises in the Yellow Sea amid reports of artillery drills in the North.
3 | Washington
Detainees Return to Terrorism
A report on recidivism rates among former Guantánamo Bay detainees reignited a debate over the controversial facility. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper's report found that of the 598 prisoners transferred out of the prison since it opened, 150--more than 1 in 4--are "confirmed or suspected" of having re-engaged in terrorist activity. The Obama Administration pointed out that the vast majority of those prisoners were transferred under George W. Bush. The recidivism rate under Obama is five of the 66 released.
4 | Afghanistan
Private Security Ban Scrapped
Despite allegations that many private security firms in Afghanistan kill and abuse civilians with impunity and funnel U.S. aid money into the hands of Taliban warlords, the Afghan government said the 52 firms that provide security to U.S.-led troops can continue their work--at least until their contracts end. The announcement backpedals from Afghan President Hamid Karzai's edict in August that all contractors--including foreign mercenaries--cease operations by year's end and hand over their responsibilities to the Afghan police.
5 | Switzerland
World Cup Heads to Middle East
Delegates of FIFA, the Zurich-based body that runs worldwide soccer, triggered outrage in many quarters after awarding the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, respectively. The run-up to the vote had been dogged with allegations of corruption, making the success of the two bids--both backed by tremendous petrowealth--conspicuous. Qatar will be the smallest country ever to host the tournament.
6 | Israel