A happy royal family
Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, welcomed their first child this week, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, the first mixed-race royal in modern times. The unofficial town crier who announces royal births paid homage to Markle’s American citizenship in front of Windsor Castle with cries of “God save the Queen!” and “God bless America!” The duke and duchess of Sussex broke with tradition by waiting two days after the birth to show off their child in public—the duchess wearing 4-inch Manolo Blahnik heels, the duke carrying the baby boy. “It’s been the most amazing experience I could ever have possibly imagined,” Harry said, just hours after the birth.
Fort Frances, Ontario
A small group of Americans in five cars drove 600 miles from Minneapolis to Ontario this week to publicize the need for cheaper insulin in the U.S. “We’re on a #CaravanToCanada because the USA charges astronomical prices for insulin,” tweeted caravan member Quinn Nystrom. The cost of insulin in the U.S. has tripled over the past decade, and some patients are paying $300 for a single vial of the drug, which goes for $30 a vial in Canada, no prescription required. Nicole Smith-Holt joined the caravan. Her son Alec died in 2017 at age 26—just after aging out of her health insurance policy—because he was trying to ration his insulin, which cost him $1,300 a month. “Alec would still be here today,” said Smith-Holt, “if I had known that I could come to Canada.”
Looking to China
Panamanian President-elect Laurentino Cortizo has warned that the U.S. might “lose out to China” if it does not cultivate its relationship with his country. Cortizo, 66, a centrist, won the presidency this week with 33 percent of the vote in a seven-candidate field. Cortizo said Washington “needs to pay more attention” to Central America, because Beijing is “making advances.” Panama won independence from Colombia in 1903 with U.S. help, and the U.S. administered the Panama Canal—through which more than 400 million tons of goods pass each year—until 1999. The country still uses the U.S. dollar. But in 2017, Panama cut ties with Taiwan in favor of China, and since then has signed more than 30 treaties with Beijing. China’s plan to build a new embassy at the Pacific end of the canal, which would have let Beijing track U.S. vessels passing through, was scuttled last year by U.S. objections.
Scientology ship quarantined
A cruise ship belonging to the Church of Scientology is under quarantine in Curaçao this week after a crew member was diagnosed with measles. The Freewinds ship was turned back from St. Lucia when the outbreak was identified, and Curaçao officials this week began assessing the health of the more than 300 people on board. The ship is used as a floating religious retreat for top members of the church. Actress Leah Remini, a former Scientologist, tweeted that the outbreak is embarrassing for the sect because the ship “is where they reach one of the highest levels of Scientology & are supposed to be impervious to ‘Wog Illness.’” “Wog” is what church members call a non-Scientologist.
Drink and smoke
Listhaug: Light up!
Norway’s new health minister says her fellow Norwegians should puff on a cigarette if they feel like it. “People should be allowed to smoke, drink, and eat as much red meat as they want,” said Sylvi Listhaug, whose populist right-wing Progress Party is part of a coalition government headed by the Conservative Party. “People know pretty much what is healthy and what is not healthy.” Listhaug, an occasional smoker, complained that smokers have been made to feel like pariahs, “and I think that’s stupid.” Health-care professionals were aghast. “Public health has been set back many decades,” said Anne Lise Ryel, head of the Norwegian Cancer Society.
U.S. blocks climate resolution
Pompeo: Farewell to ice
For the first time in its 23-year history, a summit of the Arctic Council ended without a joint declaration, because the U.S. objected to a statement that described climate change as a serious threat to the Arctic. The council, made up of eight Arctic-bordering countries and several indigenous groups, has a mission to cooperate on protecting the region’s environment and resources. Most members used their speeches to warn of the dangers of melting permafrost and warming seas. But U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo emphasized the upside of global warming, saying, “Steady reductions in sea ice are opening new passageways and new opportunities for trade.” The Arctic, which holds 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered reserves of oil, is a land of “opportunity and abundance,” he added.
Deadly plane crash
After the crash
An Aeroflot plane exploded into flames after crash-landing at Moscow airport this week, killing 41 of the 78 people onboard. Surviving passengers and aircrew said the aircraft was struck by lightning soon after taking off from Sheremetyevo airport and caught fire when it made an emergency landing. Footage of the blaze showed co-pilot Maxim Kuznetsov climb out of a shattered cockpit window, drop to the ground, and then clamber up the inflatable slide to help pilot Denis Evdokimov evacuate passengers. Survivor Mikhail Savchenko praised the crew, saying “If it weren’t for them, there would be many more victims.” He also criticized some passengers for slowing the evacuation by grabbing their baggage. “I don’t know what to say about people who ran out with bags,” he wrote on Facebook. “God is their judge.”
The Turkish government this week erased a major election victory for the opposition by ordering a rerun of the race for mayor of Istanbul. The March vote was a bitter blow for the ruling Justice and Development Party and authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, once a popular mayor of Istanbul who considers the city his political base and private fief. In overturning the opposition’s narrow election win, the Supreme Electoral Council cited irregularities in how poll observers were chosen, but critics said Erdogan was simply throwing a tantrum. Thousands of opposition supporters took to the streets in protest, and the newly elected mayor, Ekrem Imamoglu, urged them to turn out for the do-over and vote him in again next month. “Our democracy has been struck a great blow,” Imamoglu said. “We should all fix this process together.”
Weapons drill in North Korea
In a provocation to the U.S., North Korea tested a new, short-range missile last week—the first such launch since dictator Kim Jong Un declared a moratorium on long-range missile tests in April 2018. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo played down the latest launch, saying North Korea’s test didn’t violate the country’s promises, because it hadn’t fired an ICBM that could hit America. President Trump responded mildly, tweeting that he expects Pyongyang to make a deal to end the country’s nuclear weapons program and saying Kim “knows that I am with him & does not want to break his promise to me.” North Korea’s short- and medium-range missiles can threaten 20,000 U.S. troops in South Korea and 50,000 in Japan.
Free at last
Two prizewinning Reuters journalists were released this week after spending more than 500 days in a Myanmar prison for reporting on the country’s brutal crackdown on its Muslim Rohingya minority. Wa Lone, 33, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 29, were released unexpectedly as part of a mass amnesty. They’d been arrested for violating a secrets act during their investigation of a massacre of 10 Rohingya men and boys by Buddhist soldiers and civilians, part of a military operation that sent some 800,000 Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh. The reporters’ imprisonment further tarnished the reputation of Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize winner who has been criticized for failing to protect the Rohingya.
Carrying the new king
Maha Vajiralongkorn was crowned king of Thailand this week in an elaborate three-day pageant including parades, Buddhist ceremonies, and the presentation of a stuffed Siamese cat and fluffy white rooster. The king was borne on a gold throne carried by 16 men through Bangkok as 200,000 cheering subjects lined the streets. Maha, 66, has reigned since his father’s death in 2016, but his coronation had to wait for the mourning period to end and for months of planning to take place. Before the festivities, he married his consort, Suthida Vajiralongkorn Na Ayudhya, a 40-year-old former flight attendant he met on a plane, and made her, his fourth wife, queen. Thailand is ruled by a military junta, but the royal family wields significant influence.
Clashes leave dozens dead
Palestinian militants fired 690 rockets toward Israel in the space of two days, killing four Israeli civilians—the first civilian casualties from Gaza rocket fire since 2014. In retaliation, the Israeli army launched airstrikes that killed some 20 Palestinians, including at least two children. The renewed violence came as Israel was preparing to host the Eurovision song contest, and analysts said Palestinian militants were calculating that Israel would not want a protracted conflict while the international spotlight was on it. The two sides have agreed to a cease-fire under Egyptian mediation. Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that controls the Gaza Strip, said it wants Israel to ease trade restrictions. The Gaza economy, stifled by a blockade, is collapsing, and unemployment is over 50 percent. ■