The world at a glance ...
Trudeau: Saying sorry
Maduro: Power grab
Watching the missile test in Seoul
Kenyatta: President again
Mourning the dead
Tesla’s battery farm
Trump retweets bigot: President Trump caused outrage in the U.K. this week after he retweeted three anti-Muslim videos posted by a leader of the extreme-right group Britain First. The xenophobic group is known for posting false information, and of the three videos—“Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!” “Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!” and “Muslim destroys a statue of Virgin Mary!”—the first depicts an attacker who is neither Muslim nor a migrant and the second shows a riot in Egypt. The original tweeter, Britain First’s Jayda Fransen, was convicted of aggravated harassm ent last year after she hurled abuse at a woman wearing a hijab. Prime Minister Theresa May said Trump was “wrong” to promote Britain First, which “peddles lies” to “stoke tensions.”
Apology to gay Canadians: In an emotional speech to Parliament, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered a historic apology to LGBT Canadians for decades of “state-sponsored, systematic oppression and rejection.” Trudeau said that from the 1950s to the ’90s, the government actively persecuted gay people, particularly those in public service—firing them, forcing them to resign, or even jailing them for being gay. “It is our collective shame that you were so mistreated,” he said. “And it is our collective shame that this apology took so long. Many who suffered are no longer alive to hear these words. And for that, we are truly sorry.” Trudeau’s government has introduced a bill to expunge the records of those convicted of historical same-sex offenses.
The Hague, Netherlands
War criminal suicide: Chaos broke out at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia this week after a former Bosnian Croat general committed suicide in the courtroom. The judges had just upheld a 20-year sentence against Slobodan Praljak—accused of crimes against humanity during the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s—when the 72-year-old shouted out angrily, “Praljak is not a criminal! With disdain I reject your verdict.” He then drank from a small flask and announced he had just taken poison, prompting the judges to shut down the proceedings and call an ambulance. Praljak died in a hospital hours later. Praljak gave the order in 1993 to destroy Mostar’s 16thcentury bridge, one of Bosnia-Herzegovina’s cultural treasures.
Election disputed: Thousands of protesters thronged the Honduran capital this week as challenger Salvador Nasralla alleged the presidential election had been stolen from him. The former sportscaster was far ahead in early vote tallies, but following long delays in vote counts from rural areas, his lead evaporated. President Juan Orlando Hernández declared victory with about a quarter of votes left to be counted. Before the election, The Economist reported on an apparent ruling party scheme to pack ballot boxes, citing a recording of a poll worker training session in which a woman told workers how to mark extra ballots for Hernández.
Reindeer mowed down: More than 100 reindeer were killed last week when they were hit by trains in northern Norway in eight separate collisions. The animals were being herded on their winter migration in search of grazing ground. “It was a blood bath,” said reindeer herder Torstein Appfjell, 59. “This particular scene will be burned into the retina of my eyes forever.” Railway operator Bane NOR said that in one case, the warning chain that reindeer herders pull to alert train conductors failed, but in the worst collision, which killed 65 animals from a single herd, the cause is still being investigated. Bane NOR says it will have a 15-mile fence in place along the track by 2019.
Military takes oil: Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has effectively handed control of the national oil industry to the military. This week, Maduro appointed Gen. Manuel Quevedo to run the country’s energy sector and gave him the green light to appoint military officers to senior ranks of the state oil company PDVSA. “The time for a new oil revolution has come,” Maduro said, urging Quevedo to purge the oil company of corruption. Last week, Venezuelan authorities arrested the acting president of Citgo, PDVSA’s U.S. subsidiary, and five other executives for alleged embezzling. Oil industry analysts say the allegations are an excuse for Maduro to consolidate military control over the oil industry, which accounts for 90 percent of Venezuela’s export revenues.
Pyongyang, North Korea
New missile threat: North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile this week powerful enough to hit Washington. The Hwasong-15 crashed into the Sea of Japan about 620 miles from its launch site north of Pyongyang, but it reached an altitude of about 2,800 miles—more than 10 times higher than the International Space Station. Most of the U.S. would have been in range if the missile had been launched at a lower trajectory. “It went higher, frankly, than any previous shot they’ve taken,” said U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis. The regime of Kim Jong Un declared that North Korea is now a nuclear power, calling its weapons a defense against the “nuclear blackmail policy” of the U.S. But Pyongyang can’t yet reach the U.S. with a nuke: It still needs to build a re-entry vehicle that will protect a warhead from burning up in the atmosphere, and also needs to miniaturize a nuclear weapon so it is small and light enough to fit on an ICBM without reducing its range.
After a phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Trump said additional sanctions would be imposed on North Korea, implying that China, as well as the U.S., would take measures. But Chinese media criticized Trump’s harsh rhetoric and measures against Pyongyang, saying his approach has made North Korea less likely to negotiate. Last week, Trump designated the rogue nation a state sponsor of terror, which triggered a slew of financial sanctions. North Korea has now launched three intercontinental ballistic missiles, all since Trump took office.
Open to all: President Uhuru Kenyatta was sworn in for a second term this week after handily winning the redo of a disputed election. Supporters of rival presidential candidate Raila Odinga had boycotted the October election rerun because it was overseen by the same officials who ran the first vote in August—an election declared fraudulent and nullified by the country’s Supreme Court. In his inauguration speech, Kenyatta said he intends to scrap visa requirements for all Africans visiting Kenya, and to make it easier for citizens of East African nations to own property and do business in his country. “The political balkanization that risks our mutual security, the negative politics of identity, will recede,” he said, “as our brotherhood expands to embrace more Africans.”
Welcoming Ivanka: Ivanka Trump was feted like a princess in Hyderabad this week as she headed a U.S. delegation of 350 business leaders at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit. The theme was women’s empowerment, and a speech by the president’s daughter was broadcast live across India on all major news channels. “We must ensure women entrepreneurs have access to capital, access to networks and mentors, and access to equitable laws,” she said. Human rights advocates, though, said that women workers in China who make products for the Ivanka Trump brand are underpaid and abused. “Ivank a has the responsibility to find these workers and ensure they are paid,” said China Labor Watch’s Li Qiang.
Bir al-Abed, Egypt
Mosque slaughter: Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has ordered a “brute force” crackdown in the Sinai after more than 300 people—including some 30 children—were killed in a terrorist attack on a Sufimosque. Militants set off a bomb during services in Bir al-Abed, and then gunned down fleeing worshippers. It was the deadliest terrorist attack in modern Egyptian history. Witnesses said the attackers carried ISIS flags, and the government blamed the Islamic State in Northern Sinai, an ISIS affiliate that has also bombed Coptic Christian churches. Sufism is a mystical form of Islam that Sunni extremist groups like ISIS consider heretical.
Mega battery: Tesla has built the biggest battery in the world in just two months—all because of a Twitter bet. After massive lightning storms knocked out South Australia’s power grid last year, Australian politicians blamed the state’s reliance on renewable energy for the mass blackouts, saying wind and solar couldn’t cover baseline electricity needs in an emergency. Tesla responded that it could build 100 megawatts’ worth of giant lithium batteries in just 100 days to solve the state’s problem; the battery farm will store huge amounts of energy from renewable sources and transmit it as needed. Asked on Twitter if the offer was real, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted: “Tesla will get the system installed and working 100 days from contract signature or it is free.” The company finished 40 days ahead of schedule.
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