The week at a glance...International


Kaliningrad, Russia

Saber rattling: Poland and Lithuania expressed alarm this week at reports that Russia had put nuclear-capable missiles in its European exclave of Kaliningrad, which borders both countries. The Iskander missiles, which may have been there as long as 18 months but were just reported this week, have a range of 250 miles, or deep into Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia. Russia has threatened in the past to deploy Iskander missiles expressly to destroy the European components of a planned U.S. missile shield, which the U.S. says is meant to protect Europe from Iran but Russia sees as a blow against its nuclear deterrent. “Further militarization of this region, bordering the Baltic states and NATO, creates further anxiety,” said Lithuanian Defense Minister Juozas Olekas, “and we will be watching the situation there closely.”

Boorowa, Australia

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Generations of incest: Australian authorities are investigating how a horrific case of mass child abuse could go undiscovered for decades in the rural countryside of New South Wales. Authorities removed 12 filthy, mentally impaired children from a single extended family in 2012 after they were found living in tents and shacks, covered in sores, and apparently copulating freely with one another and adults. DNA tests released this month show that the children were the product of incest between brother and sister, uncle and niece, aunt and nephew, and other relationships. The family apparently moved frequently to avoid detection by authorities, but children’s advocates said they could have been found sooner. Many of the children had mutilated the genitalia of animals, a telltale sign of sexual abuse.

New Delhi

Fury at U.S.: The arrest of an Indian consular official in New York City has sparked outrage in India. Devyani Khobragade, India’s deputy consul general in New York, was arrested while dropping off her daughter at school and charged with falsifying a visa and paying her maid less than half the minimum wage. Khobragade, who as a consular official does not have full diplomatic immunity, says she was strip-searched before her release. Calling that treatment “despicable and barbaric,” Indian officials have revoked U.S. Embassy officials’ diplomatic IDs and demanded that they disclose what they pay their staff. Barricades around the U.S. Embassy were removed, all but inviting locals to attack it.

Aleppo, Syria

Regime bombs kids: In a sudden escalation of the siege of Aleppo, the Syrian regime dropped huge bombs on rebel-held neighborhoods this week, killing some 100 civilians, including dozens of children. Scores were maimed by the primitive bombs, made of barrels full of TNT mixed with nails and shrapnel. The attack was part of a stepped-up campaign to rout rebels before U.N.-brokered peace talks start next month. Meanwhile, the U.N. this week launched the largest aid appeal in its history, asking for $6.5 billion to help displaced and starving Syrians. One out of three Syrians needs immediate humanitarian aid, the U.N. said.

Juba, South Sudan

Ethnic warfare: Fighting between an army faction loyal to the president and another loyal to the former vice president killed hundreds of people in South Sudan this week, and could spiral into an ethnic civil war. President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, said his troops were putting down an attempted coup by supporters of Riek Machar, a Nuer who was dismissed as vice president in July. Machar said Kiir’s men started the fighting. The two men were both leaders in the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, which fought for two decades for independence from Sudan, but the two men never trusted each other, and their tribes battled frequently. The fighting this week has sent some 20,000 people fleeing to U.N. peacekeeping bases.


Fake signer mentally ill: The interpreter who embarrassed South Africa by using fake sign language throughout Nelson Mandela’s memorial service, just feet away from President Obama, has been identified as a mentally ill man with a history of violence. The interpreter, Thamsanqa Jantjie, was arrested in 2003 as part of a group that attacked two alleged thieves and burned them to death, but never stood trial because he was found mentally incompetent. After the Mandela service, Jantjie said that he was hallucinating as he pretended to sign the speeches. South Africa has opened an investigation into his hiring.

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