The week at a glance ... Americas
Suspected terrorist arrested: An Aeroméxico flight from Paris to Mexico City was diverted to Montreal this week after U.S. authorities learned that someone on the no-fly list was aboard and refused to allow the plane into U.S. airspace. The passenger, Abdirahman Ali Gaal, a Somali national with U.S. residency and an American wife, was arrested on board and quickly transferred to U.S. custody. He is suspected of being a member of al Shabaab, a Somalia-based Islamist group allied with al Qaida. Al Shabaab controls much of southern Somalia, where it enforces sharia law. One of its members was arrested earlier this year in the attempted murder of a Danish cartoonist. Last week, U.S. officials in Texas were warned to be on the lookout for al Shabaab members attempting to cross from Mexico.
An app for graft: Mexicans are rushing to download a new iPhone application that helps them avoid paying off crooked cops. Mexican police officers routinely extort money by pulling over drivers for real or imagined infractions and then offering to waive the ticket for a fee. The new app outfits drivers with an array of tools, including a directory of relevant traffic and parking regulations and a list of fines. And there’s a hot line to a corruption watchdog, so a driver can report a bribery attempt on the spot. The app will soon also be available for the BlackBerry.
Killer floods: Flooding from a tropical storm this week killed more than 100 people across the country and caused a massive sinkhole to open up in the middle of Guatemala City, plunging a three-story building 100 feet into the earth. No deaths were reported. Guatemala City is prone to sinkholes: It was built on top of volcanic deposits that have pockets of air, and also has chronic problems with leaky sewer pipes that saturate the ground, weakening its structural integrity. Three years ago, a sinkhole in the city swallowed 12 homes and killed three people; it was blamed on a ruptured sewage main.
Cubans in the military: A top Venezuelan general has resigned in protest over Cuba’s growing influence on the Venezuelan military. Gen. Antonio Rivero said Cuban officers have been sitting in on top-level meetings, gaining control of intelligence on communications and underground bunkers. “They know which weapons they have in Venezuela that they could count on at any given time,” Rivero said. “They’ve gone beyond what should be permitted and what an alliance should be.” Analysts say Cuba has beefed up its presence in Venezuela because it fears that mismanagement by President Hugo Chávez is imperiling its own economy. Cuba depends on subsidized oil it gets from Venezuela in return for Cuban medical and military aid.