The world at a glance ...
Kardashian thieves nabbed: French police have arrested 17 people, some of them wellknown French underworld figures, in connection with the October theft of some $10 million worth of jewelry from Kim Kardashian. The reality show star was in Paris for Fashion Week when five masked men burst into her apartment, tied her up at gunpoint, and made off with the valuables—including her $5 million, 20-carat diamond engagement ring. Police said DNA at the crime scene led them to the suspects, who include the chauffeur who had been driving Kardashian around Paris and two brothers who are involved in the diamond trade. Jean Veil, Kardashian’s lawyer in France, said the arrests should put an end to the “outrageous speculation” that the robbery was a publicity stunt.
Girls must swim with boys: The European Court of Human Rights has upheld a Swiss ruling that a Muslim couple must pay a fine for refusing to let their daughters attend swimming classes with boys. In 2008, school officials in Basel ordered the parents, Turkish-Swiss dual nationals, to enroll their girls, 9 and 7, in the mandatory mixed-sex swimming class. The parents said the requirement violated their right to religious freedom and barred their daughters from the lessons, even after Swiss authorities said the girls could wear the full-body-covering swimsuits known as burkinis. The ECHR said the co-ed swimming requirement was legitimate because it encouraged social integration, and was especially important for children of foreign origin. The parents will have to pay a fine of nearly $1,400.
Rage over pump price: Protests across Mexico over a 20 percent jump in gas prices have degenerated into riots and looting, leading to the arrest of more than 1,500 people. Clashes with police have left at least six people dead. The price increase is part of a government reform effort to end the state’s monopoly over the energy industry, and President Enrique Peña Nieto plans to let the market set the price by the end of the year. But consumers fear the higher gas price will result in higher food and goods prices, and looters broke into groceries and cleared the shelves. In Tijuana, protesters took over border-crossing lanes and waved drivers through, forcing U.S. authorities to temporarily close the location.
U.S. official shot: A California man has been arrested for allegedly shooting a U.S. consular official in Mexico. Diplomat Christopher Ashcraft said he noticed a man wearing medical scrubs and a wig following him to his car as he left his Guadalajara gym. Ashcra ft got to his car safely, but the man shot him in the chest as he drove from the parking garage. The act was recorded on multiple security cameras, and the suspect, Zia Zafar, was arrested the next day. Police said they found a pistol and wig in his home. Zafar, 31, was in Mexico on a student visa. He has been extradited to the U.S. for trial. Ashcraft is recovering in a Mexican hospital; authorities have not offered any motive for the attack.
Tagging terrorist suspects: Germany’s governing coalition is set to introduce tough new security measures against suspected terrorists in the wake of last month’s truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market. Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, from the center-right Christian Democratic Union, and Justice Minister Heiko Maas, from the centerleft Social Democrats, agreed this week on a plan to put electronic ankle bracelets on potential terrorists and to make it easier to deport rejected asylum seekers. The measures are a response to outrage over security failures in the run-up to the Berlin attack, which killed 12 people. The perpetrator, failed asylum seeker Anis Amri, had been classified as a threat but could not be deported because his home country, Tunisia, hadn’t given him a passport.
Lawmakers grow desperate: Venezuela’s opposition-led National Assembly declared this week that President Nicolás Maduro has effectively abandoned his post and that a new presidential election should be held. The leftist, authoritarian Maduro appears on television for hours nearly every day and issues emergency decrees, but lawmakers said he has not been performing basic governing duties, such as ensuring a functioning economy. The legislature’s gesture was symbolic, as the Supreme Court—which Maduro packed with loyalists last year just before the opposition took control of the Assembly—says the assembly itself is illegitimate because three of its members were seated despite allegations of electoral fraud. Maduro’s critics blame him for triple-digit inflation, food shortages, and rampant crime.
Deir el-Zour, Syria
ISIS commander killed: U.S. Special Operations troops killed an ISIS leader during a ground raid this week deep in jihadist-held eastern Syria. A senior Defense Department official told The New York Times that the operation targeted a midlevel ISIS commander, whom U.S. troops had hoped to capture and interrogate. But when the helicopter-borne troops intercepted a vehicle carrying the militant, a firefight broke out in which the suspect and another person in the car were killed. A Syrian activist group with contacts on the ground said two vehicles carrying ISIS reinforcements were also destroyed. The raid was carried out in Deir el-Zour province some 80 miles from ISIS’s de facto Syrian headquarters in Raqqa. “The U.S., and entire counter-ISIL coalition, will continue to pursue ISIL leaders wherever they are,” said Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis, using an alternate acronym for ISIS.
Netanyahu scandals: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is now facing two separate police investigations. The first involves allegations that he accepted luxurious gifts worth tens of thousands of dollars, including cigars and Champagne, from Israeli and foreign businessmen. The other stems from a recording of conversations he had with Arnon Mozes, owner of Yedioth Ahronoth, a newspaper that is highly critical of him. The two reportedly discussed a deal whereby Netanyahu would pass a law requiring the free Israel Hayom—a pro-Netanyahu paper owned by U.S. gambling mogul Sheldon Adelson—to start charging readers, in exchange for more favorable coverage in Yedioth Ahronoth. The deal fell apart, but the tapes are damning. “Coordinating benefits with a media outlet for positive coverage is governmental blackmailing,” said Zahava Gal-On of the opposition Meretz party. “He should resign.”
Provoking Taiwan: In a show of force designed to intimidate Taiwan, China this week sailed its only aircraft carrier and several warships right through the Taiwan Strait, which separates the mainland from the self-governing island. The provocative maneuver came just days after pro-independence Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen made a rare stopover in the U.S., where she met with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in defiance of protests from Beijing. The carrier and ships were returning from combat drills in the South China Sea, where China has been building artificial islands with military installations on them to beef up its claims to a swath of the disputed waters.
President threatens to kill mayors: Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte says he will personally kill any local official involved in the drug trade. “I might go down in history as the butcher,” he said. Duterte says he has compiled a “narco-list” that includes the names of at least 5,000 mayors, governors, and police officers he believes are tainted. He said he would call the mayors together and tell them, “Son of a whore, if your name is there, you have a problem. I will really kill you.” One mayor on the list has already been killed, in a shoot-out with police. Two ex-mayors on the list say they are innocent and are calling for a meeting with the president.
Rakhine state, Myanmar
Slaughter of the Rohingya: More than 20,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar for Bangladesh in the past week, telling tales of rape and massacre at the hands of Myanmar security forces and of babies lost on the journey. The Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic group numbering about 1 million in Myanmar, are denied citizenship and lack basic rights, such as the right to public education. They have been under attack since last October, when suspected Rohingya insurgents fired on government soldiers and authorities responded by sending the army rampaging through their villages. “Some [villagers] were shot, some were killed with a blade,” survivor Jannatul Mawa, 25, told The New York Times. “Wherever they could find people, they were killing them.” Myanmar’s government said the Rohingya were burning their own homes to frame the military.
Truck attack: A Palestinian man smashed a truck into a group of Israeli soldiers in Jerusalem and then reversed over the victims, killing four and injuring 17 more before being shot dead. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the attacker, Fadi Qunbar, 28, appeared to be an ISIS-inspired “lone wolf” acting on the spur of the moment. Police detained nine people, most of them relatives of Qunbar, and sealed off the East Jerusalem neighborhood where he lived. Relatives said Qunbar believed that Israel was plotting to take over the Temple Mount—a location sacred to both Jews and Muslims, and the site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. “What happened is a normal thing,” said the attacker’s cousin, Mohammed Qunbar. “This is a response to what is happening at Al-Aqsa.”