School finally starts: Some 70,000 striking teachers returned to classrooms in the Mexican state of Oaxaca this week after failing to get the government to repeal education reform. The teachers had been protesting in Mexico City for months, since the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto passed a sweeping overhaul introducing merit pay and teacher evaluations to a system long dominated by cronyism. Teachers in rural and poor Oaxaca were the most vocal opponents of the reform: They said applying national standards and testing to their situation was impossible since they must travel for hours to reach schools where the students speak a dozen different languages.
Cholera blamed on U.N.: Haitians are demanding compensation from the U.N. for a deadly cholera epidemic that started among U.N. peacekeepers there. The U.N. deployed troops after a catastrophic earthquake in January 2010 killed some 150,000 people and flattened much of the country. By October 2010, a strain of cholera native to South Asia had spread across the island, killing some 8,300 people. Investigators traced the outbreak to sewage from a base staffed by Nepalese peacekeepers, and human rights activists have now filed a lawsuit against the U.N. “The United Nations has a moral responsibility for the eruption of the epidemic,” said Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe. U.N. officials say the organization has diplomatic immunity from such claims.
No prying: Brazil has ordered government workers to use a new, encrypted email system that it says is totally shielded from the snooping of the U.S. National Security Agency. Brazil formally complained and President Dilma Rousseff canceled a state visit to Washington after revelations that the NSA had intercepted Rousseff’s communications, hacked the state-owned oil company Petrobras, and spied on millions of Brazilians. It will be tough to keep the new system walled off, though: The encryption could be penetrated if any user were to send a message to somebody on another mail service, like Gmail or Yahoo.