A prince is born
Welcome to the Windsors.
Royal-watchers celebrated this week as Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, gave birth to an 8-pound, 7-ounce baby boy, her third child with Prince William. The couple showed off the baby to the waiting throngs as they left St. Mary’s Hospital in the capital only 12 hours after the birth. The name of the baby wasn’t immediately announced, but bookies—who correctly guessed the names of siblings Prince George, 4, and Princess Charlotte, 2—are betting on Arthur, Albert, or Philip. The baby is fifth in line to the throne, and Queen Elizabeth II’s sixth great-grandchild. Prince William said he was “very delighted” about the arrival, adding, “Thrice the worry now.”
No handshake, no passport
A French appeals court has upheld a ruling denying an Algerian woman citizenship after she refused to shake the hand of a male official at a 2016 naturalization ceremony. The woman, who has not been named in the French press, said her Muslim beliefs prevented her from shaking the hand of a senior official at the ceremony. Officials said the refusal showed that the woman—who has been married to a Frenchman since 2010—was “not assimilated into the French community,” so they denied her citizenship. She appealed the decision, claiming it was an “abuse of power.” But earlier this month France’s highest administrative court upheld the ruling, declaring that officials had applied the law correctly.
Deadly van attack
In a scene of horror on a sunny spring day, a Canadian man rammed a rented van into pedestrians in Toronto this week, killing 10 people and injuring 15. “Shoot me in the head,” suspect Alek Minassian, 25, shouted at police as they arrested him. Officers said he had no known ties to international terrorism. But the software developer was a self-declared member of the online “incel,” or involuntarily celibate, community—a group of men who bemoan the fact that women won’t sleep with them. “The Incel Rebellion has already begun!” Minassian wrote on Facebook on the day of the massacre. “All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!” Rodger killed six people and then himself in a 2014 rampage in Isla Vista, Calif.; during the spree, the 22-year-old posted a YouTube video in which he said he was going to punish women for rejecting him and men for regularly having sex.
Shaman revenge lynching
Ucayali region, Peru
A Canadian man was lynched in the Peruvian Amazon last week after villagers accused him of killing a tribal medicine woman because she would not lead him in a hallucinogenic ayahuasca ritual. The healer, Olivia Arevalo, 81, was shot near her home, and villagers believed that Sebastian Woodroffe, 41, a Canadian who lived nearby and studied botanical medicine, was responsible. No one witnessed the murder, and the gun used in the crime has not been found. A video shared on social media the day after Arevalo’s death showed Woodroffe pleading for his life with a rope around his neck; his body was found the next day. Two men have been arrested in connection with Woodroffe’s killing.
Life support battle
British courts ruled this week that the parents of a brain-damaged toddler may not take him to Rome for treatment despite a plea by Pope Francis. Alfie Evans, 23 months old, has been in a Liverpool hospital since December 2016 with a degenerative neurological condition, which doctors say has destroyed his brain. Officials at the National Health Service hospital withdrew life support, saying additional treatment is not in the child’s best interest. Alfie’s parents, Tom Evans, 21, and Kate James, 20, said Alfie was breathing on his own, and appealed to the pope for help. The Italian government granted the baby citizenship and offered to transport him to a Vatican hospital. But British courts ruled that taking Alfie out of the country would only prolong his suffering.
New president, old dictator
The son of a close aide to former Paraguayan dictator Alfredo Stroessner was elected the country’s president this week. Like his predecessor, Horacio Cartes, Mario Abdo Benítez, 46, is from the right-wing Colorado Party, which has led the country for all but five of the past 71 years. But he has more explicit ties to Stroessner—who ruled for 35 years until he was forced into exile in Brazil in 1989—than do most in his party. Abdo’s father was Stroessner’s personal secretary, and Abdo was a pallbearer at the dictator’s 2006 funeral. On the campaign trail, Abdo refused to condemn the dictatorship outright, but rather expressed regret about the 425 people killed and nearly 19,000 tortured under Stroessner. Abdo defeated center-left challenger Efraín Alegre by less than 4 percentage points, the closest margin since Paraguay’s return to democracy.
Tycoon tortured to death
A technology entrepreneur known as “Russia’s Elon Musk” was apparently raped and tortured in prison before he died, according to a forensic report released last week. Valery Pshenichny, 56, was found hanging in his St. Petersburg cell in February while awaiting trial on charges of embezzling $1.6 million in funds from a Defense Ministry contract. The prison ruled it suicide, but the official medical report noted evidence of horrific abuse. “Electric shock burns from a hot water–boiler cord were found in his mouth,” the opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported. “Lacerations and stab wounds on his body. A broken spine. Simply put, he was tortured.” DNA from sperm on his body did not match any prison guard’s, so he was likely tortured by someone brought in for that purpose. Pshenichny had originally accused his well-connected business partner of embezzling the money, but he was arrested instead.
Ayar Mbalom, Nigeria
Armed Fulani herdsmen attacked a Catholic church in a southern Nigerian village this week, killing two priests and 17 worshippers and torching more than 50 houses. Clashes between the mostly Muslim nomadic herders and the mostly Christian settled farmers have escalated this year as climate change has pushed the nomads further south in search of grazing land. “Violating a place of worship, killing priests and worshippers, is not only vile, evil, and satanic,” said President Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim from northern Nigeria, “it is clearly calculated to stoke up religious conflict and plunge our communities into endless bloodletting.” The attack sparked riots across Nigeria’s Benue state.
Leader forced out
Sargsyan: ‘I was wrong.’
Armenian Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan resigned this week after 11 days of mass street protests by angry citizens who accused him of a power grab in the former Soviet republic. After serving for more than a decade as president and unable to run again, Sargsyan engineered a constitutional amendment that gave more power to the prime minister and changed the presidency to a ceremonial role. Sargsyan was named prime minister last week, and furious Armenians rushed to the streets to protest his attempt to cling to power. “I was wrong,” Sargsyan said in his resignation speech. Opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan has called on protesters to remain in the streets until an interim government is appointed to oversee new elections.
An ISIS suicide bomber killed at least 60 people and wounded more than 120 others queuing outside a voter-registration center in a heavily Shiite neighborhood of Kabul this week. It was the latest in a series of attacks targeting would-be voters. Afghans must all get new voter cards because of widespread fraud in the 2014 presidential election, and legislative elections—now scheduled for October—have been delayed for three years as the process drags out. Among the dead was Wakil Hussain Allahdad, 33, a retired wrestler and father of four who was known for rushing to attack sites to help evacuate the wounded.
Portman shuns award
Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman shocked Israel last week by declining to attend a major award ceremony meant to honor her in Jerusalem, with a representative for the Israeli-born star citing her distress over “recent events” in the country. Many interpreted her decision not to accept the 2018 Genesis Prize—which recognizes Jewish people who have attained excellence in their field—as stemming from the killings of at least 37 Palestinian protesters on the Gaza border. Some Israelis called for a boycott of Portman’s films, and the country’s minister of public security, Gilad Erdan, said the actress had been influenced by a “campaign of media misinformation regarding Gaza.” In a statement, Portman clarified that she was objecting to the presence of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the ceremony, saying she felt compelled to “stand up against violence, corruption, inequality, and abuse of power.”
King Mswati III has decreed a name change for his country, the last absolute monarchy in Africa. The land formerly known as Swaziland is now the Kingdom of eSwatini, which means “land of the Swazis” in the local language. Other African countries, he said, had shed their colonial names upon independence in favor of indigenous names. The king announced the change at a celebration marking his 50th birthday as well as his country’s 50th anniversary of independence from Britain. He explained that the old name had caused confusion, saying, “Whenever we go abroad, people refer to us as Switzerland.” ■