Guantánamo Bay, Cuba
Bin Laden’s driver to relocate: The U.S. military is releasing Osama bin Laden’s former driver from Guantánamo Bay to allow him to serve his remaining month in prison in his native Yemen, Yemeni officials said this week. Salim Ahmed Hamdan was convicted in August of abetting terrorists, but because he was given credit for the 61 months he had been held, his sentence was reduced to just a few months. “The Yemeni government is very pleased by the announcement to transfer the Yemeni detainee Salim Ahmed bin Hamdan,” said Mohammed al Basha, a spokesman for the Yemeni Embassy in Washington. “We hope that this will be a positive first step to the transfer of the remaining detainees.”
Man lives at airport: In a real-life version of the Tom Hanks movie The Terminal, a confused Japanese man has been living in the food court of the Mexico City airport for weeks. Hiroshi Nohara arrived at the Benito Juarez International Airport in early September and says he is not sure what he is doing there. “I do not understand why I am here,” Nohara said. “I don’t have any reasons.” He is surviving off of handouts from food court vendors and passengers, and has become something of a celebrity thanks to Mexican television news reports. Mexican officials said they are powerless to remove Nohara until his visa expires, which isn’t until March. “He’s a calm person, a nice man,” said Silvia Navarrete del Toro, an airport janitor. “He just sits here and eats all day.”
Chavez holds his own: Allies of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez last week won more than 75 percent of the gubernatorial and mayoral posts that were up for grabs in local elections. But while Chavez called the results “a great revolutionary victory,” opponents of the far-left president said they were encouraged by a few key wins, notably the mayorship of Caracas and the governorships of the three largest states. Control of the state of Barinas, where Chavez’s brother Adan was running to succeed their father as governor, was still too close to call. Bolstered by the results, Chavez is now expected to try to abolish term limits; during the recent campaign, he often said he wanted to stay in office “indefinitely.”
Santa Catarina, Brazil
Flooding causes mudslides: Tens of thousands of Brazilians fled their homes this week after heavy rains caused massive flooding in the state of Santa Catarina. Much of the wealthy region, home to many of Brazil’s German and Italian immigrants, was completely cut off as mudslides buried roads and even entire villages. At least 79 people were killed. Half the residents of Blumenau, a popular Oktoberfest destination, had no electricity, and the entire state lost its natural gas supply when a pipeline burst. State officials said more than 1.5 million people have been affected by the flooding.