The world at a glance ...
Extremist imam jailed: Radical Muslim cleric Anjem Choudary, a thorn in the side of British authorities for decades, has been sentenced to 5½ years in jail for encouraging support of ISIS in a series of inflammatory YouTube lectures. Choudary, 49, was a leader of al-Muhajiroun, a now banned Islamist group that police suspected was the driving force behind the 2005 London bombings, which killed 52 people. One of the two men who hacked British soldier Lee Rigby to death in London in 2013 had attended protests organized by Choudary. Scotland Yard counterterrorism head Dean Haydon said the hate preacher had spent years “as spokesman for the extremists, saying the most distasteful of comments but without crossing the criminal threshold”—until he began praising ISIS.
King defends immigrants: Norway’s King Harald V sought to counter rising anti-immigrant rhetoric in the country this week with an impassioned speech defending the diversity of Norwegian society. “Norwegians are girls who love girls, boys who love boys, and girls and boys who love each other,” said Harald, 79. “Norwegians believe in God, Allah, the universe, and nothing.” He noted that his own grandparents arrived in the country a century ago from Denmark and England. “We are—despite our differences— one people.” Norway’s center-right government attempted to deport many asylum seekers earlier this year, after thousands of Syrians crossed into the country from Russia on bicycles.
Face transplant death: Isabelle Dinoire, the Frenchwoman who received the world’s first partial face transplant, has died of cancer at age 49. Dinoire suffered terrible injuries during a 2005 suicide attempt, when she took an overdose of sleeping pills and her dog tried to revive her by gnawing at her face. That year, she was given a new nose, lips, and chin from a brain-dead donor, but the immunosuppressant drugs she took to stop her body from rejecting the transplant left her especially vulnerable to cancer. Dinoire’s immune system nearly rejected the transplant twice, and she struggled to accept the look of her new face. “It’s not [the donor’s], it’s not mine, it’s somebody else’s,” she said.
Answering Trump: Mexico may consider revoking a series of bilateral treaties with the U.S. if Donald Trump is elected president and pulls America out of NAFTA. Opposition lawmaker Sen. Armando Ríos Piter has proposed a bill that would let Mexico impound U.S.-bound funds if a President Trump were to seize remittances from Mexicans in the U.S. to pay for his planned border wall. The legislation also states that Mexico could cancel treaties, including the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which transferred to the U.S. the territory covering all of Texas, California, Nevada, and Utah, and parts of New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Wyoming. “This is the first step toward establishing a public policy about how Mexico should react in the face of a threat,” Ríos Piter said.
Rio de Janeiro
Legalizing gambling: Eager to raise tax revenues, Brazilian lawmakers are working on a plan to legalize gambling, 70 years after all casinos in the country were shut down. Illegal gambling is a $6.3 billion industry in Brazil, and legislators want to tap that revenue as the nation suffers its most severe economic downturn since the 1930s. “It would be one of the most significant events in gaming history if Brazil opens up to the gambling sector,” said William Hill, one of the U.K.’s largest firms of bookmakers. Critics say casinos will fuel corruption and money laundering, particularly in politics—more than half of Brazil’s lawmakers are under investigation for various kickback schemes. But President Michel Temer, who took office officially last week after his predecessor, Dilma Rousseff, was impeached, has shown support for legalization.
Gitmo protest: Former Guantánamo Bay detainee Abu Wa’el Dhiab has gone on a hunger strike to protest conditions of his resettlement in Uruguay. Dhiab, 44, had run a food-importing business based in Kabul before he was arrested in Pakistan in 2002 on suspicion of ties to al Qaida. The Syrian national was transferred to the U.S. prison camp in Guantánamo but was never charged with any crime, and after many hunger strikes, during which he was force-fed, the U.S. released him to Uruguay in 2014 on condition that he stay in that country. Dhiab violated those terms by going to Venezuela earlier this year, trying to make arrangements to reunite with his family in Turkey, but he was deported back to Uruguay. Dhiab and the five other ex-detainees resettled there say they aren’t getting enough financial support and are isolated without their families.
More babies, please: Italy is holding its first Fertility Day this month, encouraging citizens to make more babies, but the government has yanked its advertising campaign for the event after widespread accusations of sexism. Italians on social media said the ads blame women for the country’s low birth rate and seek to shame them into procreating. One poster, showing a woman holding up a rapidly draining hourglass, says “Beauty has no age. But fertility does.” Many commenters said it reminded them of the propaganda of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, who exhorted women to have many children for the fatherland. Italy’s birth rate stands at an all-time low of 1.35 children per woman.
Election in question: At least six people have been killed and hundreds arrested in Gabon after riots erupted over claims that the country’s presidential election last month was fixed. According to official results, President Ali Bongo defeated opposition leader Jean Ping by a tiny margin of some 5,000 votes. European Union observers recommended a recount, saying there was an “obvious anomaly” in Bongo’s home province, which recorded an implausible 99.93 percent turnout, with 95 percent of that vote cast for Bongo. Nationwide turnout averaged 59 percent. Bongo says he has no authority to order a recount. Justice Minister Séraphin Moundounga resigned over Bongo’s intransigence, saying he believes the government is not acting in the country’s best interest.
G20 summit flops: The leaders of the world’s 20 most powerful countries came together for a summit in Hangzhou this week, but the meeting was marred by misunderstandings and outbursts of pique. Host China had shut down factories around Hangzhou and encouraged residents to leave town to ensure blue skies and little traffic for the visiting bigwigs. But the event did not go smoothly. When President Obama’s plane landed, Chinese security guards got into a shouting match with U.S. officials over who should drive the rolling airstairs to the aircraft, forcing Obama to disembark from a little-used exit at the rear of Air Force One. “This is our country—this is our airport,” one Chinese official said.
The summit produced few firm results. No progress was made on two major trade pacts under discussion China, and the U.S. agreed to ratify the United Nations’ Paris climate change accord, which set up a framework for dozens of countries to slash their greenhouse-gas emissions. Obama met with Russian President Vladimir Putin for 90 minutes to talk about resolving the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine—where the two powers are backing rival combatants—producing a photo of the two men locking eyes in an icy stare. Obama said afterward that “gaps of trust” had prevented any breakthrough. Nor was any progress made on the status of the South China Sea, where China is laying claim to islands also claimed by five of its U.S.-allied neighbors.
Obama pledges aid: President Obama promised $90 million in aid to Laos this week to clear unexploded ordnance left behind from a covert U.S. bombing campaign during the Vietnam War. “Given our history here, I believe that the United States has a moral obligation to help Laos heal,” Obama said during a visit to the country, the first by a sitting U.S. president. The CIA led the bombing campaign, which from 1964 to 1973 saw more than 2 million tons of explosives dropped on Laotian villages and suspected North Vietnamese supply routes. That is more than “we dropped on Germany and Japan, combined, in all of World War II,” said Obama. Some 80 million cluster bombs failed to detonate, and lie scattered across Laotian fields and forests; the bombs have killed some 20,000 Laotians over the years.
Nomadic Olympics: The second-ever World Nomad Games opened in Kyrgyzstan last week, in a ceremony featuring flaming horse riders and actor Steven Seagal—a cult figure in the former Soviet Union—dressed as a Kyrgyz warrior. The event is dedicated to the ethnic sports of Central Asia, including archery, wrestling, and competitive yurt building, which is judged on speed and stability. Many events take place on horseback, such as kok-boru, a violent form of polo using a goat carcass that mounted players must heave up onto the horse. A U.S. team made up of cowboys from Wyoming competed in kok-boru this year; they lost all three of their games. “The good thing about the goat is the feast afterwards,” said U.S. team captain Creed Garnick. “It’s not wasted.”