The world at a glance ...
Beer pipeline: The village of Wacken is building a 4-mile-long network of pipes so that it can funnel beer to thirsty attendees at the world’s largest heavy metal festival, Wacken Open Air. The German village’s population balloons from 1,800 to more than 75,000 during the threeday event, and the festivalgoers chug more than 106,000 gallons of beer—about 11 pints each. In previous years, tractor trailers hauling barrels of beer have turned the fields into a giant mud pit, and fans have had to wait for kegs to be changed. But this year, with the pipeline in place, bartenders will be able to pour one beer a second as metalheads mosh to acts including Megadeth and Marilyn Manson.
Marathon in sandals: A woman from Mexico’s Tarahumara indigenous community has won a 31-mile ultramarathon— wearing sandals and a skirt. María Lorena Ramírez, a 22-yearold goatherd with no professional running training, beat 500 other runners from 12 countries in the women’s category of the Ultra Trail Cerro Rojo. “She carried no special accessories,” said race organizer Orlando Jiménez. “She didn’t bring any gel, or energy sweets, walking stick, glasses, or those very expensive running shoes that everyone wears to run in the mountains.” The Tarahumara people, who live in widely dispersed settlements in Chihuahua state, consider running a key part of their culture, even incorporating it into religious events.
Chávez home torched: Near-daily protests against the government of President Nicolás Maduro are now also targeting the memory of his predecessor, Hugo Chávez, the architect of Venezuela’s socialist system. Statues to Chávez, who died of cancer in 2013, have been ripped down in five towns, and this week Chávez’s childhood home in the city of Barinas was set on fire. “These acts reflect the depth of anger and hostility toward a regime that, in the name of Chávez, has utterly destroyed a once relatively prosperous and democratic nation,” says Michael Shifter of the U.S.-based think tank Inter-American Dialogue. Protests are growing more violent, and at least 53 people have died at demonstrations. One man was doused with gasoline and set on fire last week by protesters who accused him of being a thief; he suffered severe burns but survived.
Turning off reactors: The Swiss have voted to phase out the country’s nuclear power plants and replace th em with renewableenergy sources such as solar, wind, and hydro power. In a referendum this week, 58 percent of voters chose to ban new nuclear power plants and provide billions of dollars in subsidies for renewables. “Switzerland will finally enter into the 21st century when it comes to energy,” said Green Party MP Adele Thorens Goumaz. The government says the plan will cost each Swiss family an extra $41 a year; critics contend it will end up costing many times more and disfigure the landscape with wind turbines. Switzerland’s five aging reactors generate some 35 percent of Switzerland’s energy output, while hydropower accounts for 60 percent.
Doomsday threat: Unusually high Arctic temperatures caused permafrost to melt and seep into the “Doomsday” seed vault—a fail-safe trove intended to protect food supplies in case of a global calamity—it was revealed last week. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which is buried in a frozen mountain on a Norwegian island, stores some 500 million seeds from around the world. But late last year temperatures soared on Svalbard, pushing the permafrost around the vault above melting point. Water seeped into the entrance tunnel, but didn’t reach the seeds. “It was not in our plans to think that the permafrost would not be there,” said Norwegian official Hege Njaa Aschim.
Corrupt president? Brazilian President Michel Temer says he will not step down despite the release of a recording of him allegedly organizing the payment of hush money to a jailed associate. He wouldn’t resign, Temer said, even if the Supreme Court indicted him: “Oust me if you want, but if I stepped down, I would be admitting guilt.” Brazilian media said the recording captured the president talking with a leading businessman about cash payments to former House Speaker Eduardo Cunha—who has been jailed for his role in the sprawling kickbacks scandal surrounding the state-owned oil firm Petrobras. The recording is just the latest addition to a pile of allegations against Temer: Executives of Odebrecht, the country’s biggest construction company and a key player in the Petrobras scandal, have accused him of taking bribes and illegal campaign financing.
Deadly crackdown: Police firing tear gas and birdshot raided a peaceful sit-in at the home of Bahrain’s most prominent Shiite cleric this week, killing five people and arresting 286. Sheikh Isa Qassim was a leading supporter of the country’s failed 2011 Arab Spring uprising—which saw members of Bahrain’s Shiite majority demand more rights from the Sunni monarchy, only to face a brutal crackdown from security forces. Qassim was stripped of his Bahraini citizenship last year over accusations that he supported extremism. Since then, activists have surrounded his home to protect him from deportation. The raid came just two days after President Trump met Bahrain’s King Hamad in Saudi Arabia and told him that their relationship would be free of “strain”—an apparent reference to the occasional criticism of Bahrain’s human rights record by the Obama administration.
Hunter crushed by elephant: A well-known big-game hunter was killed last week when a dying elephant fell on him. South African Theunis Botha, 51, was leading tourists on a hunting trip in Hwange National Park when they startled a herd of elephants. One elephant grabbed him with her trunk and heaved him into the air, and another hunter shot her, causing her to drop Botha and then collapse on top of him. Botha was known for using dogs to drive big game—including lions and leopards—toward his clients as they lay in wait. Last month, his friend and fellow hunter Scott Van Zyl was eaten by crocodiles in Zimbabwe.
Killing U.S. spies: Chinese authorities crippled U.S. spy operations in China in 2010, killing or imprisoning at least 18 sources, The New York Times reported last week. One CIA source was shot dead in front of his colleagues in the courtyard of a Chinese government building, according to former U.S. officials. The CIA has not established how the Chinese identified the operatives. Some U.S. officials speculate that there could be a mole within the agency; others believe that the Chinese hacked the covert system the CIA uses to communicate with its foreign sources. A Chinese government newspaper, the Global Times, said in an editorial that while some details of the story were “purely fabricated,” if the gist is true, it “can be taken as a sweeping victory” for China.
Praise from Trump: President Trump congratulated his Filipino counterpart, Rodrigo Duterte, during a phone call last month for doing an “unbelievable job” on the drug problem in the Philippines, where Duterte has sanctioned the extrajudicial execution of suspects. “Many co untries have the problem, we have the problem, but what a great job you are doing,” Trump said, according to a Philippine government transcript that was leaked to U.S. news outlets. Filipino police and vigilantes have killed at some 7,000 suspected drug users and dealers since Duterte took office last June. Trump also told Duterte during the call that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un was “a madman” and said the U.S. had “two nuclear submarines” off the coast of North Korea. The locations of U.S. nuclear subs are normally kept secret.
Banda Aceh, Indonesia
Lashed for being gay: Two Indonesian men were lashed 82 times each with a rattan cane in front of a jeering crowd in Banda Aceh this week, as punishment for having gay sex. One of the men broke down in tears during the beating, while onlookers shouted, “Hit him again!” It was the first application of antihomosexuality laws introduced in Aceh province three years ago. Aceh formally adopted sharia law in 2005 after Indonesia gave the province partial autonomy as part of a peace deal with separatist rebels. Four heterosexual couples were also lashed for kissing and hugging while not married. Meanwhile in Jakarta, where homosexuality is not illegal, police raided a gay club and arrested more than 100 people on suspicion of prostitution and pornography.
Cholera outbreak: Tens of thousands of Yemenis have come down with cholera, and the deadly diarrheal infection is spreading at an alarming rate, the World Health Organization said this week. Hospitals are overstretched, taking in hundreds of patients a day. More than 350 people have died, and thousands more are at risk of death, especially malnourished children. The two-year war in Yemen between Houthi rebels and a Saudi-led coalition backed by the U.S. has destroyed much of the country’s health system and brought famine to millions. “Only once there is a peace process can we get aid to the sick and hungry,” said Mark Kaye of Save the Children.