The world at a glance ...
Louvre attack: An Egyptian man brandishing two machetes and yelling “Allahu akbar!” was shot several times last week after he attempted to attack soldiers on a security patrol near the Louvre museum. Recovering in a Paris hospital, Abdullah Reda al- Hamamy, 28, said he wanted to deface paintings at the world-famous museum, a judicial source told Reuters.com, and also that he wanted to “avenge the Syrian people.” Spray-paint cans were found in his backpack. Prosecutors said al-Hamamy had arrived in the country a week before on a tourist visa and bought two military machetes at a Paris gun store. Shortly before the attack, he tweeted in Arabic: “No negotiation, no compromise, no letting up, certainly no climb down, relentless war.”
Sarkozy on trial: Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been ordered to stand trial on charges of illegal campaign financing. Sarkozy, who lost his re-election bid in 2012 to François Hollande, is accused of spending some $48 million, nearly double the legal limit, on that campaign by having a PR company bill his party instead of his campaign. It’s not Sarkozy’s first brush with finance laws: He was cleared of allegations that he improperly financed his 2007 campaign with secret donations from L’Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt. Sarkozy says he knew nothing about the billing scheme.
Wrestling’s bad hombre: An American pro wrestler has found fame in Mexico by portraying the nation’s ultimate bad guy: a Trump supporter. Pittsburgh native Sam Polinsky, who wrestles under the name Sam Adonis, enters the ring waving a 4-foot American flag with a picture of Donald Trump on it and shouting “Go USA! Go Trump!” The crowd erupts in cheers when Polinsky is vanquished in the scripted mock battles characteristic of the sport. “When he loses,” fan Perla Covarubbias told NPR.org, “he makes the Mexicans look like heroes.” Polinsky, 27, doesn’t call himself a supporter of Trump, who described Mexicans as rapists and criminals on the campaign trail. “But I’m thankful he’s [president],” the wrestler said, “because it’s putting more money in my pocket.”
President at last: After 16 months of transitional rule, Haiti finally has a president. Banana exporter Jovenel Moïse, who has never held political office, was sworn in this week as president. Moïse initially won the first round of voting in October 2015, but the results were annulled because of fraud allegations. The redo, postponed because of Hurricane Matthew the following October, was finally held last November. Moïse won easily, but turnout was just 21 percent, so his mandate is slim. He is already under investigation: A judge is looking into allegations that Moïse laundered millions of dollars through a local bank. Moïse, who campaigned on rooting out corruption, said the accusations are politically motivated and have “nothing to do with the truth.”
Gruesome cover: Germany’s leading newsweekly, Der Spiegel, triggered fierce debate this week after it depicted President Trump decapitating the Statue of Liberty and holding the statue’s bloody head aloft on its front cover, next to the caption “America First.” In an editorial, the magazine said Europe must defend itself against America’s “dangerous president,” whom it calls a “pathological liar” and a racist. It goes on to accuse Trump of wanting to “establish an illiberal democracy,” and concludes that Germany must now take the lead in defending “democracy, freedom, the West, and its alliances.” Some Germans cheered the cover, but Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, a member of the centerright Free Democratic Party, and others called it “tasteless.”
A friendly judg e: President Michel Temer has nominated his closest ally, Justice Minister Alexandre de Moraes, to the Supreme Court as it prepares to rule on a corruption case that threatens his government. Moraes will fill the vacancy left by Judge Teori Zavascki, who died in a mysterious plane crash last month. Zavascki was presiding over Operation Car Wash, a long-running investigation into corruption at the state oil company, Petrobras, that has ensnared much of Brazil’s political and business elite. Temer has been cited in some plea bargain testimony, but is not under investigation himself. Moraes is expected to be easily confirmed by the Senate, where Temer’s ruling coalition has a majority.
Putin opponent blocked: Russia’s leading opposition figure, Alexei Navalny, has been found guilty of embezzlement in a retrial and handed a five-year suspended sentence—a ruling that could stop him from running for the presidency in next year’s elections. He said he would appeal and run anyway. Navalny had been convicted in 2013 of the same charge, misappropriating $500,000 of state-owned timber, but the European Court of Human Rights overturned the ruling. “The Kremlin is taking revenge on Navalny for his anticorruption investigations,” said former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov. Meanwhile, another opposition leader, U.S.-based journalist Vladimir Kara-Murza, is in a coma in a Russian hospital, and his wife says he was poisoned. Kara-Murza, who nearly died after being poisoned in 2015, was in Russia to show a documentary about murdered opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.
No more U.S. raids: Yemen has withdrawn permission for the U.S. to run special operations anti-terrorism missions in the country, after an American raid on a suspected al Qaida hideout last week turned into a 50-minute firefight that resulted in the deaths of numerous civilians. Gruesome photos of several children apparently killed in the raid in the village of Yakla caused outrage in Yemen; a Navy SEAL, Chief Petty Officer William Owens, was also killed in the operation. Military and intelligence officials told NBC News that Qassim al-Rimi, leader of al Qaida’s Yemen branch, was the target of the raid. Rimi this week released a recording taunting Trump. “The new fool of the White House received a painful slap across his face,” Rimi said. The Pentagon and the White House said the mission’s purpose was to gather intelligence, not kill Rimi, and that it was a “success.”
Defying Trump: Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei thanked President Trump this week for revealing the “true face” of the U.S., and called on Iranians to take part in demonstrations on Feb. 10—the 38th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution—to show they are not afraid of American “threats.” It was Khamenei’s first public statement since the U.S. imposed new sanctions on Iran for its ballistic missile test last month. The White House criticized the test as violating the spirit, if not the letter, of United Nations resolutions, and Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, warned Tehran that it had been “put on notice.” Asked about Khamenei’s comments, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said, “Iran is kidding itself if they don’t realize there’s a new president in town.”
Assad’s extermination policy: The Syrian regime has executed up to 13,000 people during the country’s six-year civil war, in mass hangings at a prison north of Damascus known as the slaughterhouse, according to Amnesty International. In a damning report based on interviews with dozens of former detainees at Saydnaya Prison, as well as former guards and judges, Amnesty says that at least once a week from the start of the 2011 uprising to 2015, prison authorities took dozens of prisoners from their cells, beat them, and then “hanged them in the middle of the night and in total secrecy.” Most of those executed were civilian activists opposed to President Bashar al-Assad. Thousands more inmates were tortured, and many starved to death or died of thirst in their cells. The Assad regime said the report was entirely fictional.
Massive slum inferno: Thousands of Filipinos were left homeless this week after a fire ripped through a crowded Manila slum. The fire in Parola Compound—a shantytown near Manila’s port—raged for 10 hours and destroyed the homes of 15,000 people. “Firefighters did not enter the compound, they were just looking around,” said resident Anna Cabrera. “That is why the fire lasted until the morning.” Residents carried whatever they could salvage—clothes, religious icons, even washing machines— and set up a makeshift camp on a nearby street. Fires are common in Manila’s tightly packed slums, where some residents lack electricity and use candles for light.
Legalizing illegal settlements: Israel’s legislature has retroactively legalized Jewish settlements on privately owned Palestinian land in the West Bank. Critics said the law, passed by the Knesset this week, effectively makes stealing lawful. Advocacy groups immediately filed suit to block the measure, saying Israeli law can’t be applied to occupied land, whose Palestinian residents don’t have the right to vote in Israeli elections. Israel’s attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, apparently agrees; he said he will not defend the law in court. The Knesset’s action came just days after a Trump administration statement that said current Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem are not “an impediment to peace” but cautioned that more land should not be taken.