The world at a glance ...
Castelsantangelo sul Nera, Italy
Devastating earthquake: The most powerful earthquake in decades rattled central Italy last week, a magnitude-6.6 tremor that destroyed entire villages, injured 20 people, and left more than 25,000 homeless. A 16th-century Benedictine cathedral crumbled, and thousands of other historic buildings were damaged, including churches, bell towers, and Roman ruins. “Everything here that was standing is collapsing, and what hasn’t collapsed is unsafe,” said Mauro Falcucci, mayor of Castelsantangelo sul Nera. It’s just the latest in a series of quakes that began in late August with a magnitude-6.2 temblor that killed nearly 300 people. “We will rebuild everything,” said Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. “We are dealing with marvelous territories, territories of beauty.”
American expats nervous: More than 1 million Americans live in Mexico, and some of them fear they could be kicked out if Dona ld Trump becomes president. Trump has vowed to deport all undocumented Mexican immigrants from the U.S., and expats worry that the Mexican government could retaliate by revoking Americans’ residency permits. “I’m afraid of the reprisals, that they will say, ‘Get out of here,’” said Deena Murdock, 70, a Texan who has lived in the town of Ajijic for 12 years. Sally Myers, another expat in Ajijic, said she and her husband have thought about getting a Mexican passport, explaining, “If we are Mexican citizens, the government can’t confiscate our house.” Most Americans living in Mexico are retirees.
San Salvador, El Salvador
Ex-president arrested: Former Salvadoran President Tony Saca was arrested for alleged embezzlement and money laundering this week, during an early morning police raid on a wedding reception for one of his sons. A former radio sports announcer, Saca was president from 2004 to 2009, and during his time in office his personal fortune swelled by some $10 million—a windfall that prosecutors said he has not explained. Saca’s former private secretary, Elmer Charlaix, was also arrested at the wedding; prosecutors said he had $18.7 million in private bank accounts and couldn’t identify the source of the cash. Former President Mauricio Funes, who succeeded Saca, is also under investigation for alleged corruption, but he has fled to Nicaragua for political asylum.
Al Hoceima, Morocco
New Arab Spring? Thousands of people are protesting across Morocco after the gruesome death of a fish seller—an incident that some are comparing to the death of a Tunisian market vendor in 2010 that sparked the Arab Spring uprisings. The victim, Mouhcine Fikri, 31, had climbed into a trash compactor to retrieve $11,000 worth of swordfish—which authorities had ordered destroyed after declaring them illegally caught. Witnesses said police ordered the compactor to be turned on, crushing Fikri to death. King Mohammed VI ordered constitutional reforms in the wake of the Arab Spring protests, and his country’s economy has flourished, but youth unemployment remains high. “No justice has been rendered,” said 26-year-old protester Abdelhak El Amrani. Authorities have arrested 11 people in connection with F ikri’s death.
Hate-speech trial: Far-right lawmaker Geert Wilders refused to attend his trial on charges of hate speech and incitement of violence this week, and instead doubled down on the antiimmigrant comments that first led him to be prosecuted. The Dutch “are sick and tired of the nuisance and terror caused by so many Moroccans,” he said. “If speaking about this is punishable, then the Netherlands is no longer a free country, but a dictatorship.” The case against him stems from remarks he made in The Hague in 2014, when he said the city would be better off with fewer Moroccans—something he’d help “arrange.” If found guilty, Wilders, head of the Party for Freedom, could get up to two years in prison. Moroccans make up about 2 percent of the Netherlands’ population.
Rio de Janeiro
Religious right rises: Rio de Janeiro has elected an evangelical bishop as mayor, part of a wave of right-wing victories in local elections across Brazil. Marcelo Crivella, nephew of the billionaire founder of the influential Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, beat his leftwing opponent by nearly 20 percentage points in the vote’s second round. Crivella, 59, faced an uproar during the campaign over past comments in which he described homosexuals as evil and the Catholic Church—of which some 80 percent of Brazilians are members—as demonic. But the former bishop successfully tapped into growing voter anger over a corruption scandal that has dogged the main political parties, and promised to bring law and order and basic sanitation to Rio’s poorer neighborhoods. The left-wing Workers’ Party, which dominated Brazil’s politics for 13 years, lost every mayoral race it ran in this week.
ISIS on the defense: Iraqi government soldiers have entered Mosul, the last stronghold of ISIS in Iraq, for the first time in two years. An advance guard of special forces troops trained by the U.S. pushed past suicide bombers and booby traps and into the city’s eastern perimeter this week, while the main body of the Iraqi army approached Mosul from the south. Shiite militias supporting the army have been ordered to stay out of the Sunni-majority city, because officials fear the fighters might carry out reprisal attacks and alienate the population. The Hezbollah Brigades, an Iraqi Shiite militia supported by Iran, said it had taken control of the road from Mosul to Raqqa, the Syrian city that serves as ISIS’s de facto capital, and was cutting off the militants’ main supply line. Aid officials say that up to 1 million civilians are trapped in Mosul.
World protects Antarctic: Dozens of countries, including the U.S. and Russia, reached a historic agreement last week to create the world’s largest marine protected area near Antarctica. The 600,000-square-mile Ross Sea sanctuary covers 12 percent of the Southern Ocean; commercial fishing will be banned there for 35 years. Secretary of State John Kerry said the agreement “will safeguard one of the last unspoiled ocean wilderness areas on the planet—home to unparalleled marine biodiversity and thriving communities of penguins, seals, whales, seabirds, and fish.” The plan was held up for years by Moscow, but Russia finally agreed to the treaty at an Australian meeting last week.
Pyongyang, North Korea
Where’s Mrs. Kim? The first lady of North Korea hasn’t been seen in public in seven months, an absence that has caused speculation that she is either dead or pregnant. Ri Sol Ju is believed to have married dictator Kim Jong Un in 2009 and given birth to a girl a year later. Over the first few years of marriage, she was seen with Kim dozens of times, but last year she appeared only three times, and she has not been seen at all since March. Kim has purged family members in the past: In 2013, the dictator had his second-in-command, his uncle Jang Song Thaek, executed. Some observers believe that his younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, is the political mastermind of the family, and she may have clashed with Ri.
Assad’s alternate reality: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad intends to rule until at least 2021, he told British and American reporters in a group interview this week. Despite five years of civil war that have killed hundreds of thousands of civilians and driven 11 million from their homes, Assad insisted that Syria’s social fabric was today “much better than before” the sectarian conflict erupted. He claimed that the U.S. was backing ISIS, said his people loved him, and denied that he tortured and jailed political opponents. Assad’s key ally, Russian President Vladimir Putin, declared a pause in his country’s shelling of Aleppo this week, saying he would give Syrian rebels three days to leave the city or face destruction.
President at last: After more than two years of political paralysis, Lebanon’s Parliament has finally chosen a president: Michel Aoun, 81, a former general who has wanted the job for decades. As prime minister in 1989, Aoun launched the so-called War of Liberation to try to expel Syrian occupation troops from Lebanon. The failed offensive left thousands of people dead or wounded, and Aoun fled to France, where he lived in exile for 14 years. He returned in 2005, after Syria pulled its troops out in the wake of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s assassination. Aoun is now the country’s most powerful Christian leader and heads the second-biggest bloc in Parliament. Saad Hariri, Rafik’s son, will become prime minister.
Tomb of Jesus uncovered: For the first time in centuries, the tomb in which Jesus’ body is believed to have been laid after his crucifixion has been revealed for restoration. Archaeologists working at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem removed marble cladding to reveal a limestone shelf or burial bed that was originally hewn from the wall of a cave. “I’m absolutely amazed,” said archaeologist Fredrik Hiebert, “We can’t say 100 percent, but it appears to be visible proof that the location of the tomb has not shifted through time.” Since at least 1555, and possibly centuries earlier, the limestone slab has been covered with marble cladding and filler to prevent pilgrims from breaking off pieces as relics.