The world at a glance ...
Keeping out refugees: A Munich neighborhood has sparked outrage across Europe by building a 12-foot stone wall to separate a new refugee center from the local population. Neuperlach residents who campaigned for the wall— which is slightly taller than the Berlin Wall was—said the value of their homes would plummet if there were no barrier between their properties and the 160 unaccompanied young migrants who will live in the center. “Donald Trump wants to build a wall for Mexico,” one couple told local media, “and we in Munich Neuperlach build one to keep us safe from refugees.” Officials, however, insisted they were not trying to keep out the youngsters. “This is not a wall against refugees,” said city councilor Thomas Kauer. “It is a soundproofing measure so they can play.”
Russians accused in coup plot: Montenegrin authorities have accused Russian nationalists of plotting to assassinate the country’s pro-Western prime minister and install a pro-Moscow government. About 20 Serbian and Montenegrin citizens were arrested in Montenegro on election day last month; chief special prosecutor Milivoje Katnic said this week that the suspects were Russian sympathizers who planned to kill Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic because he had brought the country close to full NATO membership. He said the plot was organized by two Russian nationalists, but added there was no evidence that the Russian government was involved. Montenegro broke away from Serbia in 2006; about one-third of its residents are ethnic Serbs who oppose NATO membership.
Ortega’s ‘rigged’ election: Former Marxist guerrilla Daniel Ortega won a third term as president of Nicaragua in a landslide victory this week after the opposition boycotted the national vote, calling it an “electoral farce.” Electoral and judicial officials loyal to Ortega had barred opposition leaders from running and shuttered opposition media outlets. Under Ortega’s rule, poverty and violence have dropped in Nicaragua, but he’s also consolidated power for his own Sandinista party, centered on his family. His wife, Rosario Murillo, is now his vice president, and the couple’s sons and daughters occupy key roles in the country’s business, media, and security sectors. Ortega could rule Nicaragua for life, thanks to a constitutional change he pushed through that abolished term limits.
Les Cayes, Haiti
Cholera spreads: Haiti this week launched the largest cholera vaccination campaign ever after a national disaster, trying to give shots to more than 800,000 people in seven days. Since Hurricane Matthew washed sewage into local water sources last month, some 3,000 people have come down with the disease. To slow its spread, authorities will vaccinate everyone over the age of 1 whom they can reach in Haiti’s southwest, where the epidemic is worst. Roads and bridges were destroyed and power is still out in many areas, so instead of receiving two refrigerated doses two weeks apart, Haitians will get one dose, which should be effective in about half the recipients.
Harry defends girlfriend: Prince Harry has denounced Britain’s tabloid press for racism and harassment in its coverage of his biracial girlfriend, American actress Meghan Markle. The prince said in a statement that “a line has been crossed” in the reporting on the relationship, citing “the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls.” The “smear” refers to an article by The Sun saying Markle had appeared on the porn site Pornhub; in fact, the site put up clips of her in the network TV show Suits. Markle, 35, lives in Toronto, where British reporters have tried to break into her home. Her mother has been followed and harassed, and her ex-boyfriend was offered cash to dish dirt on her.
Rio de Janeiro
Vanishing beaches: Climate change is destroying Rio de Janeiro’s famous gold-sand beaches. In the 1990s, massive storm surges occurred roughly once a year, but since 2010 they have been hitting Rio four or five times a year. Last week, 12-foot waves dumped tons of sand on beachfront streets, forcing kiosks and cafés to close and destroying public toilets. “This is the worst I have seen in the 20 years since I started working here,” said Dominique Souza, a kiosk owner who sells drinks and beach umbrellas. Huge chunks of Copacabana Beach, a major tourist draw, have been washed away. Brazil is more vulnerable than most countries to climate change, because one-quarter of its population lives along the coast.
Offensive begins: The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces launched the “Wrath of the Euphrates” campaign this week to take ISIS’s de facto Syrian capital, Raqqa. ISIS met the mostly Kurdish attacking force with a wave of car bombs, and U.S. officials said progress toward the city would be slow. “The isolation phase is going to take months,” said Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Meanwhile, the battle for Mosul, ISIS’s last major stronghold in Iraq, continues to rage as Iraqi government troops fight the jihadists street to street. “There is good progress, but we are moving cautiously,” said an Iraqi commander. “Our priority is to evacuate civilians.” Near Mosul, troops found a mass grave of about 100 decapitated bodies, believed to belong to members of the Iraqi security forces and their relatives.
‘Afghan girl’ returns: Pakistan has deported the Afghan woman made famous by the haunting photograph taken of her when she was a 12-year-old refugee. Sharbat Gula, known for her 1985 photo on the cover of National Geographic, was among the Afghans who fled the Soviet invasion and ended up in refugee camps in Pakistan. Last month, she was arrested in the northwestern city of Peshawar for possessing a forged ID. Pakistani authorities offered to suspend her deportation because of international attention, but Gula—now in her 40s and with four children—agreed to return to Afghanistan, where President Ashraf Ghani welcomed her as a national heroine. Over the past year, Pakistan has stepped up deportations and is trying to persuade the 2 million Afghan refugees it hosts to go back home.
Choking on smog: For more than a week, New Delhi’s 25 million residents have been trapped in a smog emergency. Thick, toxic smoke from Diwali holiday fireworks and crop burning has mixed with the usual pollution and settled over the city, and no wind has come up to dissipate it. With levels of the most dangerous particles measuring 16 times the limit India’s government considers safe—the damage from prolonged exposure at that level is equivalent to smoking two packs of cigarettes a day—thousands of schools have been closed and sports events canceled. The haze is so dense that it’s hard to see traffic lights, and 12 people were hurt in a 20-car pileup blamed on poor visibility. “Outdoors in Delhi is resembling a gas chamber,” said the city’s chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal.
Beijing interferes: More than 2,000 black-clad lawyers marched in silence through Hong Kong this week to protest Beijing’s unprecedented decision to ban two democratically elected proindependence candidates from taking office in the city’s legislature. During a swearing-in ceremony in Hong Kong last month, Sixtus “Baggio” Leung and Yau Wai-ching angered Beijing by refusing to declare allegiance to China, instead pledging loyalty to the “Hong Kong nation” and holding up a banner reading “Hong Kong is not China.” A Hong Kong court was about to rule on whether they would be allowed to retake the oath, but Beijing pre-empted that ruling and banned the two candidates.
Dictator gets hero’s burial: The Philippines Supreme Court has ruled that former dictator Ferdinand Marcos can be reburied in the nation’s Cemetery of Heroes. The decision is a victory for President Rodrigo Duterte, who ordered the reburial and cites Marcos as a personal role model. Marcos was president from 1965 to 1986 and imposed brutal martial law for much of that time. At least 3,000 political opponents were killed and tens of thousands tortured. Groups representing the victims had petitioned to stop the interment, saying it would whitewash history. The court did not rule on the merits of labeling Marcos a hero but merely noted that there is no law preventing the burial.
Blasphemy fight: Violence erupted in Jakarta last week after 150,000 protesters marched through the streets and demanded the arrest of the city’s minority Christian governor for insulting Islam. Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, popularly known as Ahok, was named as Jakarta’s acting governor in 2014 and is now running for election in his own right. After conservative imams declared that the Quran forbids Muslims from voting for non-Muslims, Ahok said those clerics had lied. A video of his remarks then appeared online, in which Ahok appeared to insult the Muslim holy book, leading tens of thousands of Indonesians to protest in Jakarta. Demonstrators clashed with riot police, hurling stones and setting vehicles on fire. A few days later, police said that the online video, uploaded by radical clerics, had been doctored.