The world at a glance ...
Assange off-line: Ecuador’s government severed Julian Assange’s internet access at its London embassy this week over fears that the WikiLeaks founder was interfering in the U.S. presidential election. The cutoff followed WikiLeaks’ publication of a trove of hacked emails from the private account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta. The Ecuadorian government said it respected “the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other states” and worried the leaks were “impacting on the U.S. election campaign.” Assange has been holed up in the embassy since 2012, after Sweden sought his extradition so that he could be questioned about allegations of sexual assault. The Australian says he fears Sweden will send him to the U.S. to face espionage charges over WikiLeaks’ 2010 data dump of State Department cables.
Cheer up, neighbor: Canadians have responded in droves to a call from a Toronto-based ad agency to let a glum, pre-election America know that it’s still a terrific country. The Garden Collective agency posted a video online of numerous Canadians praising what they like “aboot” the U.S., such as the national park system, American generosity, and the nation’s diversity. On Twitter, thousands of people posted compliments under the hashtag #TellAmericaItsGreat, prompting thousands of Americans to respond with #TellCanadaThankYou. “As their closest friends and neighbors,” the agency said, “we thought it was important for us to do something to cut through the negativity and help remind them that America is still pretty great.”
El Chapo judge killed: A Mexican judge who was overseeing a court case involving notorious drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán was assassinated this week while jogging near his home. Surveillance footage showed a man run up behind Vicente Bermúdez Zacarías, 37, and shoot him in the neck. There are several suspects who might have wanted the judge dead. In March, Bermúdez suspended Guzmán’s extradition to the U.S. after the leader of the Sinaloa cartel asked for it to be accelerated, saying he had been tortured while in Mexican custody. But Bermúdez had also ruled against Miguel Angel Treviño Morales, leader of the Zetas cartel, and against Gildardo López Astudillo, alias El Gil, the head of the Guerreros Unidos drug gang.
Hurricane aid: The U.S. military this week ended its humanitarian aid mission to help Haiti in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, which killed more than 1,000 people and demolished entire villages. U.S. Marines and sailors delivered and distributed nearly 600,000 pounds of supplies, including food, water, shelter material, and cholera kits. “What you’re beginning to see is a transition as the civil authorities, NGOs, and other entities get in, get on the ground,” said Adm. Kurt Tidd. More than 1 million Haitians are still in need, and hundreds are sheltering in caves. With roads and bridges washed out, aid has been slow to arrive to the towns that need it, and some desperate residents have taken to ambushing the aid convoys and looting supplies.
Braunau am Inn, Austria
Hitler home makeover: Austrian authorities are planning to gut and entirely remodel the house where Adolf Hitler was born in 1889. Neo-Nazis sometimes make pilgrimages to the three-story house, in the town of Braunau am Inn. Officials have discussed demolishing the building for years, but the owner, whose family has held the property for more than a century, would not allow it. This week Parliament took the first step toward expropriating the house in the public interest. The government initially said it would raze the property but then backtracked after critics said that would look like Austria was trying to erase its history. Instead, Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka said the home would be so thoroughly redesigned that it “will not be recognizable.”
Boa Vista, Brazil
Brutal prison riot: At least 18 inmates were killed in riots in two prisons in Brazil’s Amazon region this week. In the first riot in Boa Vista, the capital of Roraima state, inmates broke out of their wing and attacked rival gang members in another part of the lockup, killing 10 people. “The inmates were armed with stones and pieces of wood that they ripped from the walls,” said Roraima state spokeswoman Jessica Laurie. “They used those bits of wood to decapitate their rivals.” At least eight inmates died in another prison riot in the northwestern state of Rondônia the same day. In a third prison the next day, inmates set a fire in the psychiatric ward, and 55 prisoners escaped. More than half are still at large.
Vote Trump or it’s WWIII: An extremist ally of President Vladimir Putin has warned Americans to vote for Donald Trump or face nuclear devastation. “If they vote for Hillary, it’s war,” said Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of Russia’s ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party. “It will be a short movie. There will be Hiroshimas and Nagasakis everywhere.” Zhirinovsky, who has run for president in every election since the fall of the Soviet Union, is known for his incendiary, anti-Muslim rhetoric and likes to compare himself to Trump. Recently honored by the Kremlin, he is seen as a mouthpiece for Putin to put out radical ideas and see how they are received by ordinary Russians.
Some schoolgirls released: Boko Haram has released 21 of the 276 girls it kidnapped from a Christian boarding school in 2014. The government is negotiating with the jihadist group about the release of another 83 girls, but more than 100 others are unwilling to leave. Forced to marry Islamist militants and have their babies, some of the girls have been radicalized, while others are ashamed to come home. Some Chibok girls who escaped shortly after their capture had to leave their home villages because they were shunned, and the newly released might move away as well. “We would prefer that they are taken away from the community and this country because the stigmatization is going to affect them for the rest of their lives,” said Pogu Bitrus of the Chibok Development Association.
Mourning a king: Thailand is rigidly enforcing national mourning after King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world’s longest-reigning monarch, died last week at age 88. Restaurants, bars, and strip clubs are shuttered, and the ruling junta says that everyone should wear black and avoid all “joyful events” for 30 days. Royalist mobs have attacked people deemed to be grieving insufficiently and have forced them to kneel and bow before posters of the late king. The junta is even pursuing Thais abroad, asking for the extradition of people accused of violating the country’s extremely strict law against insulting the monarchy. Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, 64, will assume the throne once he is out of mourning.
Anti-U.S. protesters rammed: Philippine police drove a van into a rowdy crowd protesting at the U.S. Embassy in Manila this week, injuring at least three people. Video shows the van careering in reverse through the crowd and then abruptly speeding forward. “There was absolutely no justification for it,” said protest leader Renato Reyes. “Even as the president vowed an independent foreign policy, Philippine police forces still act as running dogs of the U.S.” The demonstrators want U.S. troops to leave the nation. The protest came as President Rodrigo Duterte was on a state visit to China, where he is trying to shift his country’s focus away from Washington and toward Beijing. The U.S. no longer has military bases in the Philippines, but some troops are assisting in the fight against Islamist militants in the southern island of Mindanao.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Hot dogs renamed: The Malaysian government’s religious board has ordered hot dog vendors to rename their products, because dogs are considered unclean in Islam. Hot dogs contain no dog meat, but the Islamic Development Department said the term could “cause confusion” among consumers. The U.S.-based pretzel chain Auntie Anne’s, which has 45 sites in the predominantly Muslim country, said it would list its Pretzel Dog as a Pretzel Sausage to comply with the order. “We are fine with changing the name,” said executive Farhatul Kamilah Mohamed Sazali.
Americans sentenced: An Iranian-American father and son have been sentenced to 10 years in prison for spying for the U.S. Siamak Namazi, who is in his 40s, and his 80-year-old father, Baquer, were convicted following a brief court session. Siamak, a businessman, was jailed last year on espionage charges, one of dozens of dual nationals that the regime has arrested on little or no evidence in recent years. His father, a retired UNICEF official who once served as a provincial governor under the U.S.-backed shah, was arrested in February when he came to Iran to visit his son in prison. The convictions are seen as an attempt by hard-liners to discredit President Hassan Rouhani, who led the push for the nuclear deal with the U.S. and who has tried to spur foreign investment by encouraging dual nationals to do business in Iran.