The world at a glance
Burkinis allowed: France’s highest court has ruled that mayors do not have the right to ban burkinis, after some 30 French towns and cities barred women wearing the full-body swimsuits from their beaches. The ban on burkinis, which are popular with conservative Muslim women, “seriously, and clearly illegally, breached the fundamental freedoms to come and go and the freedom of belief,” the court said. Local authorities can only restrict individual liberties, the court added, if there is a “proven risk” to public order. The ruling was pronounced on a law passed by the Mediterranean town of Villeneuve-Loubet, near Nice, but effectively overturns all such local laws. Proponents of the ban, including presidential hopeful Nicolas Sarkozy, say they will make burkinis an issue in next year’s elections.
Ciudad Juárez, Mexico
Singer Juan Gabriel dies: Thousands of mourners gathered outside the former Ciudad Juárez home of Mexican pop superstar Juan Gabriel this week, after the 66-year-old singer died of a heart attack while on tour in the U.S. The flamboyant Gabriel—whose love of glittery, sequined outfits earned him the nickname “El Divo de Juárez”—was Mexico’s top-selling artist, with more than 100 million albums sold over his 45-year career. Although he never spoke about his sexuality, Juanga, as he was also known to fans, was widely believed to be gay and was revered in Mexico as a gay icon. But his songs of longing and heartbreak were popular even with straight Mexican men. Writing in the newspaper Milenio, journalist Álvaro Cueva praised Gabriel as a gay rights pioneer, saying he “made homophobic people sing and dance.”
Top cop fired: Mexico’s federal police chief, Enrique Galindo, was fired after a report accused police of executing 22 alleged members of a drug cartel at a ranch last year. In all, 42 suspects and one police officer were killed in the raid on a suspected drug-gang hideout in the western state of Michoacán. Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission found that federal police opened fire arbitrarily—shooting 4,000 bullets into the ranch from a Black Hawk helicopter. At least 22 people were summarily killed in the operation, many shot at close range from behind or above. Federal officers also planted guns and moved bodies, the commission said, to make it look as if the deaths had occurred during a gun battle.
President impeached: Brazil’s Senate voted this week to impeach President Dilma Rousseff and remove her from office for falsifying budget statistics. Rousseff, 68, testified for 14 hours straight before the vote, calling her removal a right-wing coup. “If the political contract with the people is broken, then any contract can be broken,” she said. Many senators were weepy during the testimony, and both a prosecutor and a defense lawyer burst into tears while speaking. Former Vice President Michel Temer, who has been acting president since Rousseff was suspended in May, will serve out her term. Rousseff’s predecessors similarly fudged their budgets; most of her accusers in Congress face charges of corruption.
Mass reindeer death: An entire herd of reindeer was killed, apparently by lightning, during a fierce thunderstorm in Norway last week. A game warden on a routine inspection found 323 reindeer corpses heaped in a field. “Reindeer are pack animals and are often close together,” said Knut Nylend of the Norwegian Nature Inspectorate. “During a heavy thunderstorm, they may have gathered even closer together out of fear.” A wildlife researcher who visited the site said the animals appeared to have died “as if someone just turned off a switch.” Hardangervidda, a 2,500-squaremile mountain plateau, is home to 10,000 reindeer, making it Norway’s largest wild-reindeer range.
Refugees starve: Children who fled Boko Haram’s Islamic insurgency are now dying of starvation in refugee camps in northeastern Nigeria because food aid has been stolen by government officials, aid workers said this week. Doctors Without Borders said that up to a quarter of the children they are treating at a 110-bed feeding center are dying. In one local camp, the organization’s Dr. Natalie Roberts said, 20 children under age 5 died in a single week last month. Refugees said officials and soldiers at the camps, which are run by the state of Borno, are taking the food for themselves, leaving little or none for residents. Nigeria’s Senate has launched an investigation into the theft allegations.
Saint Teresa: Mother Teresa is set to become the Catholic Church’s newest saint. The ethnic Albanian nun who ministered to the dying in Calcutta, India, is to be canonized this weekend by Pope Francis at an open-air mass in Vatican City. Born Agnes Bojaxhiu in Skopje—now part of Macedonia—Mother Teresa established the Missionaries of Charity, a global Catholic sisterhood that helps poor people suffering from AIDS, leprosy, and tuberculosis, and she won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. Two miracles have been ascribed to her since her death at age 87 in 1997: the curing of an Indian woman’s stomach tumor and the awakening from a coma of a Brazilian man.
Outposts are legal: Israel retroactively legalized dozens of settler homes in the West Bank this week and approved the construction of 284 new homes amid growing international concern over a construction drive on land that Palestinians seek for a state. The decision came a week after the left-wing Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reported that Israel plans to expand the Jewish settlement in the West Bank city of Hebron for the first time in a decade. About 1,000 settlers live among 230,000 Palestinians in the city, which is a flashpoint for violence. The U.S. government criticized the expansions. “We strongly oppose all settlement activity, which is corrosive to the cause of peace,” the State Department said. “We’ve said repeatedly such moves are not consistent with Israel’s stated desire to achieve a two-state solution.”
Turks target Kurds: NATO member Turkey is working against U.S. interests by battling the U.S.-backed Kurdish force, the YPG, in Syria. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan considers the YPG an offshoot of the PKK, the main Kurdish separatist group in Turkey. U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter called on both sides “to not fight with one another” and to focus on defeating ISIS. But Erdogan said the operation against the YPG would continue until all militants have been pushed east of the Euphrates River, well away from the Turkish border. Turkish troops and tanks entered Syria last week for the first time in an assault on ISIS and the YPG called Operation Euphrates Shield. Turkey fears that one outcome of the Syrian civil war could be the emergence of a Kurdish statelet in northern Syria.
Ailing autocrat: President Islam Karimov, the only man to rule Uzbekistan since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, is in intensive care with a brain hemorrhage. Karimov, 78, has made his country one of the most repressive and authoritarian in the region, governing through patronage and cronyism and ruthlessly suppressing dissent. His death would leave a huge power vacuum. “All state institutions directly depend on Karimov’s decisions,” said Erica Marat, a political scientist at National Defense University. “He was notorious for micromanaging any decision on security, economy, and cultural life.” A former KGB officer and Communist official, Karimov has been elected four times, in violation of his own constitution, which imposes a two-term limit.
Takur Ghar, Afghanistan
Did SEALs leave man behind? The U.S. Air Force believes that one of its officers was still alive when Navy SEALs left him for dead in Afghanistan in 2002. New analysis of surveillance video from the firefight on an Afghan peak indicates that Tech. Sgt. John Chapman, who acted as radioman on a disastrous SEAL Team 6 operation against al Qaida militants, may have battled alone for an hour and killed two fighters—one in hand-to-hand combat— after he was left wounded and believed dead on a snowy mountaintop. Six other Americans died in the fight. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James wants to give Chapman the Medal of Honor, the military’s highest award, which would be the first such medal for an Air Force serviceman since the Vietnam War.
ISIS bigwig killed: One of the world’s most wanted terrorists, ISIS’s chief spokesman and senior strategist, is believed to have been killed in a U.S. drone strike. Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, a 39-year-old Syrian, ran a propaganda operation that put out slickly produced videos of ISIS beheadings and massacres, and oversaw the group’s external operations division, whose members have carried out terrorist attacks in Paris; Brussels; and Dhaka, Bangladesh. “It’s a major morale and propaganda blow to the group,” said Iraqi Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool. The U.S. estimates that ISIS now has 15,000 fighters, half the force it fielded a year ago. “The enemy is in retreat on all fronts,” said U.S. Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland.