The week at a glance...Americas



Who owns Santa’s workshop? Canada is staking a claim to the North Pole. The country has submitted a preliminary application to the U.N. to extend its nautical borders in a bid to control vast Arctic resources, including nearly one third of the world’s untapped natural gas reserves and large deposits of oil. Until now, Canada’s own surveys have shown that its continental shelf doesn’t reach the pole, but the government said it would commission new studies. “Canada is going to fight to assert its sovereignty in the north, but I think we will be good neighbors in doing so,” said Foreign Minister John Baird. In response, Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose country filed a similar claim in 2001, went on television to publicly order his generals to “devote special attention to deploying infrastructure and military units in the Arctic.”

Costa do Sauípe, Brazil

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World Cup rigged? The soccer world is abuzz with conspiracy theories after last week’s drawing for the 2014 World Cup match rounds. Suspicions focus on the odd behavior of FIFA’s secretary general, Jérôme Valcke, who briefly moved his hands off-camera each time he drew the name of a team, raising concerns that he may have switched the slips of paper. Brazil, the host country, and Argentina, home to the biggest global soccer star, Lionel Messi, ended up in two of the easiest groups, and their teams could face each other in the final—which would make for thrilling television. The U.S., meanwhile, landed in the “group of death,” facing powerhouses Germany and Portugal.

Córdoba, Argentina

Anarchy as police strike: Mobs of violent looters rampaged through Argentine cities this week as police went on strike for higher pay. Hundreds of people were injured and at least 10 killed, some while stealing. One man was electrocuted while stealing appliances in the rain, while another crashed his motorcycle as he tried to ride it with a TV in his hands. The unrest started in Córdoba province last week, when police sat by while criminal gangs roamed the streets attacking businesses. After the governor granted them a big pay raise, other provincial police forces also went on strike. The police say runaway inflation has eroded their salaries. “Police are in extreme poverty,” said Salvador Barratta, a police labor activist.

Montevideo, Uruguay

Pot fully legalized: Uruguay has become the world’s first nation to legally regulate the production, sale, and consumption of marijuana. After a passionate debate in which opponents pointed out that most Uruguayans disapprove of the legalization, the Senate this week approved a bill the lower house passed in July. President José Mujica led the push to legalize despite voter opposition, arguing that it’s the only way to stamp out the drug cartels that terrorize Latin America. When the law takes effect in a few months, Uruguayans will be able to grow their own pot or register with marijuana clubs that will grow and sell it.

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