Feature

The week at a glance...International

International

Moscow
Tit for tat lists: Russia has responded to the publication of an American list of 18 Russians banned from traveling to the U.S. with a blacklist of its own. Four former U.S. officials—including David Addington, who was chief of staff to former Vice President Dick Cheney, and John Yoo, a top Justice Department official in the Bush administration—are banned for “legalizing torture” of detainees at Guantánamo Bay and elsewhere. It also bans 14 current and former U.S. law-enforcement officials who “infringed the rights” of Russian citizens—primarily those of notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout, who was sentenced to 25 years in a U.S. prison last year for conspiring to sell arms to Colombian terrorists. The U.S. ban is aimed primarily at Russians involved in the 2009 death in prison of Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer jailed for investigating fraud by Russian officials.

Yanshi, China
Dead dogs, pigs: Another sudden mass animal die-off has left many Chinese worried about their own health. Scores of pigs and dogs dropped dead overnight in Dongtun village, apparently from poisonous gas emitted from a chemical plant. “All the dogs in the village had basically died off,” one resident said. “Those that hadn’t died were in their last gasps.” In the past few months, more than 1,000 dead ducks and 16,000 dead pigs have been found in Chinese waterways, polluting the drinking water of Shanghai and other cities. Officials have ruled out the new strain of avian flu, H7N9, as a cause of death, leaving pollution as the probable culprit.

Baghdad
Wave of bombings: Deadly sectarian violence is spreading across Iraq as the country prepares for provincial elections next week. At least 15 Sunni candidates have been assassinated in the past two months, while dozens of Shiites were killed this week in a wave of car bombings across the country attributed to al Qaida in Iraq. The elections, in 12 of the 18 provinces, will be Iraq’s first since U.S. troops pulled out in 2011, and they’re expected to test the government’s ability to provide security. Observers fear the results will be skewed if voters stay away from polling stations.

Aleppo, Syria
Secret U.S. aid: The U.S. is the leading Western donor of aid to rebel-held Syria, but the Syrians don’t know it. Aid workers said the U.S. was feeding some 400,000 Syrians and funding 144 field hospitals. Workers who distribute American food don’t advertise it as such to protect themselves and the recipients from being targeted by the regime of Bashar al-Assad, but they allowed reporters from The Washington Post to see their operations. Syrians “say they’re not getting any help, and it frustrates us because they are,” said a U.S. official who wasn’t authorized to speak on the record. One Aleppo business owner, for example, said he believed that the flour in a local bakery was supplied by a jihadist group; it actually came from the U.S.

Mogadishu, Somalia
Gunmen storm court: Suicide attackers burst into Somalia’s Supreme Court complex this week, throwing bombs and spraying machine-gun fire. At least 38 people were killed, including the nine gunmen, and dozens were wounded. The militant Islamist group al-Shabab, which ruled much of the country under strict sharia law until it was forced out in 2011, claimed responsibility. Somalia has made great gains under its new government in the past few years, earning formal recognition from the U.S. and the lifting of a U.N. arms embargo. “It’s a cowardly attack that shows these criminals are on their last legs,” said central bank governor Abdusalam Omer.

Lilongwe, Malawi
Madonna feuds with president: Madonna’s latest trip to Malawi, where she adopted two of her kids, has caused a government uproar. President Joyce Banda hasn’t been much of a fan since Madonna’s aides blamed Banda’s sister for a botched charity project, yet last week the singer sent the president a reportedly condescending letter asking for a meeting. Malawian authorities ignored the request and ordered that Madonna be made to go through security like everyone else on her way out of the country. After Madonna complained, the president’s office issued a blistering, 11-page press release saying that the singer apparently expected Malawi to “roll out a red carpet and blast the 21-gun salute in her honor.” Madonna rejected the statement, which Banda said she had not authorized, as “lies.”

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