Oct. 7 Romania: The constitutional amendment which would have banned gay marriage failed amid low voter turnout. Only 20.4 percent of the population cast a ballot, thus making the referendum change invalid; in order to validate the change, at least 30 percent of the population would have to vote. The amendment would have changed the language of the constitution to define marriage as being between a man and woman instead of the current “spouses,” which is gender-neutral.
Oct. 7 Afghanistan: Oct. 7, 2018 marked the 17th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan following the Sept. 11 attacks. At least 54 people died across the country in separate attacks, including 19 Afghan civilians and 35 military personnel, as reported by Tehran Times. Since the start of the war in Afghanistan, $150 billion has been used to fund the military campaign.
Oct. 9 Malaysia; Turkey: A group of 11 ethnic Uighurs arrived in Turkey from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia after their immigration charges were expunged by the prosecution. The men are originally from China’s Xinjiang province, where Uighur Muslims are a persecuted minority. They were first jailed in November 2017 in Thailand; however, they crossed the border into Malaysia after breaking out of prison. Charges were dropped on humanitarian grounds and the men were released despite Beijing’s formal request demanding their return.
Oct. 9 Washington, D.C.: A report released Oct. 9 by the National Research Council via The Intercept details extreme susceptibility in U.S. military technology. The report assessed weapons systems in the context of cybersecurity, stating, “Testers playing the role of adversary were able to take control of systems relatively easily and operate largely undetected.” Additionally, the report stated that “in operational testing, [Department of Defense] routinely found mission-critical cyber vulnerabilities in systems that were under development, yet program officials [Government Accountability Office] met with believed their systems were secure and discounted some test results as unrealistic.” The report is 50 pages long and used research going back 30 years.
Separately, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced her resignation in the Oval Office, saying she would depart at the end of 2018. She also denied speculation of plans to run in the 2020 election. The decision has sparked varying reactions around the globe.
Oct. 9–10 Central America; Mexico; southern United States: Democracy Now reported 13 people dead after Hurricane Michael passed through Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador, wreaking havoc with torrential rains, flash floods and landslides. The Category 3 storm hit parts of Mexico and Cuba with 80 mph winds while gathering strength on its way to Florida and Alabama. By the time Hurricane Michael hit Florida on Oct. 10, it was a Category 4 storm with 155 mph winds, as reported by The Guardian. In Florida, 14 people were killed, around 255,000 people are without power and schools have been closed indefinitely.
Oct. 10 Peru: Opposition leader of the conservative party Popular Force Keiko Fujimori was arrested upon arrival at the state prosecutor’s office for allegations of money laundering and election campaign fraud. According to the BBC, prosecutors allege her playing a lead role in laundering $1.2 million from Brazilian construction company Odebrecht during her presidential campaign in 2011. Al Jazeera reported 19 others associated with the scandal have been arrested as well.
Oct. 10-11 Schoharie, New York: Nauman Hussain, the operator of the limousine company responsible for the death of 20 people on Oct. 6, was arrested for criminally negligent homicide on Oct. 10. The limousine was operating without a license at the time, having failed a safety inspection in September. Democracy Now reported the owner of the limousine company, Nauman Hussain’s father Shahed Hussain, was found to be an FBI informant known for giving false information connecting Muslim men to acts of terrorism. In 2010, information from Hussain led to the conviction of four Muslim men falsely accused of conspiring to target a U.S. military plane.
Oct. 11 Tanzania: Mohammed Dewji, billionaire owner of conglomerate Mohammed Enterprises Tanzania Limited, was abducted at gunpoint while entering a hotel gym in the major economic city of Dar es Salaam, as reported by Al Jazeera. The men responsible were seen on surveillance firing shots into the air before shoving Dewji into the vehicle. In response, Regional Governor Paul Makonda has ordered tightened border and airport security in order to prevent the men escaping to any neighboring countries.
Oct. 11 Egypt: A Human Rights Watch report released Oct. 11 detailed the disappearance and torture of Egyptian-American citizen Khaled Hassan, who was arrested by the National Security Agency on Jan. 8, 2018 in Alexandria. He was detained following accusations of joining the Islamic State, according to The Washington Post. Between the date of arrest and his hearing before a military prosecutor on May 3, Hassan was held secretly while being beaten, electrocuted and raped by anal penetration on two separate occasions. His family was deported to the U.S. following the arrest, and he is still awaiting release.
Oct. 12 Guatemala: Mount Fuego, a volcano near Guatemala’s capital and a major tourist destination, erupted, causing evacuations in the surrounding area. The volcano spewed lava and pyroclastic flow—dense, hot ash which moves at high speeds—almost 16,500 feet into the air and traveled about 10 to 13 miles in the surrounding area.
Oct. 12–14 Israel: In an ongoing trial of a U.S. student who was held in administrative detention for connections to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, the Tel Aviv District Court rejected Lara Alqasem’s file for appeal on Oct. 12. However, after filing an appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court, her deportation was delayed until court members decide on Oct. 17 whether to grant or reject the appeal. Alqasem was detained on Oct. 2 in Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion Airport while en route to Hebrew University where she had been admitted as a graduate student.
When I first came to PSU, I was a Chinese major, having studied three years prior in high school alongside French and Japanese. After the first year, I took a hiatus. I don't believe in going to college straight out of high school, but it's what was expected. I returned a few years later to study Japanese at PCC and Arabic at PSU. I am now a junior majoring in International Studies: Middle East and Arabic. In the future, I would like to work as a journalist or humanitarian aid worker in the region, helping people who lack economic and political backing and media exposure.