Putin booed: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin faced unprecedented public embarrassment on live television this week when he stepped into the ring after a mixed martial arts match in Moscow to congratulate Russian winner Fedor Emeliananko—and was roundly booed by much of the audience. Putin’s spin doctors said the booing was aimed at the defeated American fighter, Jeff “The Snowman” Monson, or that it was due to the fact that many of the audience members had been blocked from using the restrooms. Either way, the PM was visibly shocked at his reception, and subsequent TV broadcasts edited out the boos, whistles, and catcalls. Putin, who has already served two terms as president, is due to run for the post again in elections next March.
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Fugitive banker gives up: A Chinese banker accused of swindling his employer out of $4.7 million has turned himself in to police after hiding in a forest for eight years. Chen Jianxue, the former vice director of China Agricultural Bank, survived by foraging for sweet potatoes and evaded capture by hiding in river caves and covering himself with leaves. He said he decided to turn himself in out of growing fears that he was becoming a wild man. “It feels so good,” he told local media last week after enjoying what he said was his first good sleep in years. “I didn’t know if I was a human or a ghost.”
Ex-president held: Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the former president of the Philippines, has been arrested on charges of election fraud and prevented from leaving the country. Arroyo, who was in office from 2001 to 2010, was served with a warrant last week in her hospital bed in Manila, just days after she was stopped from boarding a flight at the airport. She has claimed that she needs to travel abroad to receive special treatment for a bone ailment. Compounding her troubles, Arroyo, 64, was sued this week by relatives of victims of a 2009 massacre they claim she could have prevented. Arroyo’s arrest raises the prospect of a political crisis in the Philippines. The Supreme Court, dominated by Arroyo appointees, had twice ruled that she should be allowed to leave, but the government of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino used a subsequent lower court ruling to block her departure.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Genocide trial: The three most senior surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime, which ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, have gone on trial for genocide and crimes against humanity at a U.N.–backed court in Phnom Penh. The defendants, all in their 80s, are accused of “brutality that defied belief” during a Maoist reign of terror that left almost a third of the population—about 1.7 million people—either murdered by the state or dead from starvation. The men on trial include Nuon Chea (aka “Brother Number Two”), the party’s chief ideologue and right-hand man to the regime’s leader, Pol Pot, who died in 1998. The other two defendants are Ieng Sary, the former foreign minister, and Khieu Samphan, the official head of state. The regime’s “First Lady,” Ieng Thirith, was ruled unfit to stand trial last week; she is suffering from dementia.
‘Honor’ killings punished: In the most severe punishment ever handed down to Indians convicted of so-called honor killings, a judge in Uttar Pradesh state has sentenced eight village leaders to death and 20 villagers to life imprisonment for three murders committed in 1991. The case involved a boy from the “untouchable” Jatav caste who eloped with his girlfriend, from the higher Jat caste; the pair was helped by the boy’s cousin. The three returned to their village after a few days in the hope that anger would have subsided; instead they were seized by the village council, put on trial, tortured, and brutally killed. The death sentence is very rare in India, but earlier this year the Supreme Court ordered states to stamp out honor killings, and ruled that perpetrators should face the death penalty.
U.S. spy ring rolled up: Hezbollah has neutralized a network of CIA spies that was furnishing secret information on the inner workings of the radical Islamist organization. In June the head of the Beirut-based Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, boasted on television that two CIA informants had been exposed. The U.S. denied the claim at the time, but has now admitted it was true. Hezbollah has since found other informants, who experts say have probably been executed. U.S. officials told ABC News that CIA handlers used the code word “pizza” when discussing meetings with the informants and then held some of those meetings in a Beirut Pizza Hut. “We were lazy, and the CIA is now flying blind against Hezbollah,” one former U.S. official said.
Left-wing radio banned: Israel’s conservative government has shut down a dovish radio station that was transmitting pro-peace messages into Israel from the Palestinian-controlled West Bank. The All for Peace station had been operating since 2004, and its director said its journalists had Israeli government-issued press cards, but the communications ministry said the station was broadcasting into Israel illegally. Conservative lawmaker Danny Danon, of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party, said the station was “an instrument of incitement” and that he had pushed for it to be silenced.
Qaddafi’s son captured: Saif al-Islam al-Qaddafi, the late dictator’s son and hard-line defender of his father’s brutal regime, was captured last week in the southern reaches of Libya’s desert. The 39-year-old Qaddafi surrendered peacefully after his convoy was intercepted by militiamen from the town of Zintan, where he has since been held. Representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross this week visited Qaddafi there and reported that he was in good health, though he claimed to have sustained an injury to his hand in a NATO air attack since he disappeared into the desert in mid-October. Libya’s transitional government told the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court that it intended to try Qaddafi in Libya, not in The Hague.
Ethiopia sends in troops: Ethiopia has followed Kenya in sending its armed forces into Somalia as part of an intensifying international offensive against the al-Shabab militant Islamist group, which controls parts of the war-torn country. Witnesses along the drought-stricken Ethiopia-Somalia border said al-Shabab rebels were forced to retreat after Ethiopia sent in hundreds of troops last week, backed by armored vehicles, tanks, and heavy artillery. The Ethiopian government has so far publicly denied the incursion. The deployment risks rallying Somalis behind al-Shabab. When Ethiopia sent troops into Somalia in 2006 to help the government contain another Islamist group, they stayed until 2009, inspiring a nationalist backlash and a wave of support for the Islamists.
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