The week at a glance...International



Spy in a wig: Russia has expelled an American diplomat, claiming he is a CIA agent caught red-handed trying to recruit a Russian agent. Authorities said they apprehended Ryan C. Fogle, listed as the third secretary in the U.S. Embassy, wearing a blond wig and carrying “special technical equipment” and $130,000 in cash. They said he had offered an intelligence officer who specializes in Islamist terror groups in Chechnya and Dagestan up to $1 million a year for information. Russia’s Foreign Ministry said the alleged spying attempt was in “the spirit of the Cold War” and “raises serious questions for the American side,” since the U.S. and Russia recently agreed to share information about such groups in the wake of the Boston bombing by two ethnic Chechens. The State Dept. had no comment.

Osaka, Japan

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Defending sexual slavery: A far-right Japanese lawmaker has defended Japan’s practice of forcing some 200,000 Korean, Chinese, and other women to work as prostitutes for the Japanese army during World War II. Toru Hashimoto, who is the leader of the Japan Restoration Party as well as the mayor of Osaka, said providing the “comfort women” was necessary to maintain morale. He also encouraged U.S. soldiers on the Japanese island of Okinawa to patronize local brothels. Chinese and Korean officials said Hashimoto’s statements were evidence of Japan’s rightward lurch under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. “We are appalled and indignant,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei.


Inappropriate behavior: President Park Geun-hye apologized this week for her spokesman, who was accused of groping a Korean-American intern during the president’s visit to Washington, D.C., last week. The intern said Yoon Chang-jung grabbed her behind. Yoon, who has been fired, said the incident was a “misunderstanding of American cultural signals.” It was yet another setback for Park, who has been widely criticized for appointing officials who’ve been accused of corruption and ethical lapses. Sexual harassment is common in South Korea, says Kim Yong-jick of Sungshin Women’s University. “Powerful men have had illusions in male-centric South Korea that their power allows them the freedom to behave as they like,” he said.

Dhaka, Bangladesh

Safer factories: Last month’s horrific Rana Plaza factory collapse, which killed more than 1,100 garment workers, has galvanized major world retailers to modify their practices. Several companies, including Sweden’s H&M—the biggest buyer of Bangladeshi-made clothes—have agreed to pay for fire- and building-safety upgrades at factories they contract with. U.S. firms Walmart and Gap have not signed the pact, but Walmart announced its own schedule of inspections. The victims of the building collapse were almost all young women. This week the final survivor, 19-year-old Reshma Begum, was pulled from the wreckage after surviving 17 days; she is being called the “miracle girl.”


President could be lashed: Election officials may bring charges against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for meddling in the upcoming election for his successor. Barred by law from endorsing a candidate, the president has been shilling for his top aide, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, whose daughter is married to Ahmadinejad’s son. “Mashaei means Ahmadinejad, and Ahmadinejad means Mashaei,” the president said, adding that he had “taken a day off” from being president to help Mashaei register for the June 14 election. If judges take up the case, a conviction could bring jail time or 74 lashes.

Damascus, Syria

Disgusting display: A shocking video of a Syrian rebel fighter cutting out a dead soldier’s heart and taking a bite of it has horrified human-rights groups across the world. “Slaughter the Alawites and take their hearts out to eat them,” the man says. Human Rights Watch identified the rebel as Abu Sakkar, leader of a rebel brigade, and the Syrian opposition coalition said it would put him on trial. “The mutilation of the bodies of enemies is a war crime,” said Peter Bouckaert of HRW. “But the even more serious issue is the very rapid descent into sectarian rhetoric.” President Bashar al-Assad and most of the ruling elite are members of the minority Alawite sect, while most Syrians are Sunnis.

Abuja, Nigeria

State of emergency: Islamist rebels are in control of parts of northern Nigeria. President Goodluck Jonathan said Islamist groups like Boko Haram had effectively declared war, and he declared a state of emergency in three states—Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe—and ordered troops to be sent there. “What we are facing is not just militancy or criminality, but a rebellion and insurgency by terrorist groups which pose a very serious threat to national unity and territorial integrity.” Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is sacrilege,” wants to impose Islamic law over the entire country.

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