The news at a glance...Americas
Ottawa Iran is out: Canada has severed its relations with Iran. The government cited no single reason for the abrupt break last week, when it pulled its diplomatic staff out of Tehran, ordered the Iranian Embassy in Ottawa closed, and listed Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism. The government strongly denied speculation that it acted in anticipation of an attack on Iran by Israel or the U.S. Ottawa and Tehran have had tense relations for years over Iran’s abuse of Iranian-Canadian journalists, including one beaten to death in an Iranian prison in 2003. “Canada wants to be able to continue to speak up on the Iranian regime’s behavior,” said Andrew MacDougall, chief spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, “and we didn’t want our guys in there” as potential hostages.
Mexico City Going solo: Mexico’s top opposition figure, leftist firebrand Andrés Manuel López Obrador, is forming a new party. AMLO, as he’s known, came in second in the last two presidential elections, and claimed both times that fraud robbed him of rightful victory. His old party, Party of the Democratic Revolution, is the second-largest group in Congress, and is expected to compromise with the incoming centrist president, Enrique Peña Nieto. His new party, Movement of National Regeneration, refuses to recognize Peña Nieto’s victory, and López Obrador is urging his supporters to practice civil disobedience against the government.
Santiago, Chile Who can serve? Chile’s army has apologized for telling recruiters not to admit gays or Jehovah’s Witnesses. Gen. Cristian Chateau signed a memo directing recruiters to seek soldiers who were “morally and intellectually fit” for military service and to exclude homosexuals, conscientious objectors, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and people who exhibited criminal behavior or drug use. After a local TV news program reported the memo’s contents last week, the head of the army said that it was not official army policy. “I offer my sincere apology to any person who may have felt affected by the unfortunate expressions,” said Gen. Juan Miguel Fuente-Alba. Chilean gay rights groups say that’s not enough. They want Chateau fired.
São Paulo Forced to watch porn: A court awarded a devout Christian salesman $25,000 in damages because his employer forced him to watch pornographic films against his will. The married man, whose name was not reported, alleged in his lawsuit that his superiors at Brazilian beverage giant AmBev forced him to attend morning meetings and parties where prostitutes were present and once tied him up at work and made him watch porn. The company awarded sessions with prostitutes as prizes for meeting sales goals. Brazil’s top labor court said the company had subjected the man “to humiliating situations.”