A brutal heat wave obliterated temperature records across Europe last week, with Paris hitting 108.7 degrees Fahrenheit and cities in Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands all topping 105. The U.K. had its hottest day on record, with the mercury rising to 101.7 in eastern England. Because fewer than 10 percent of European households have air conditioning, there was nowhere to escape the heat, so cities set up sprinklers and mist sprayers. Tourists waded into fountains and volunteers handed out water bottles. “Everyone is at risk with these kinds of temperatures,” said French Health Minister Agnès Buzyn. The heat bubble, borne on air currents from Africa, is now headed to Greenland, where it is expected to accelerate glacier melt.
Two American students have been arrested in connection with the murder of a police officer in Rome. Italian authorities say Finnegan Elder, 19, and Gabriel Natale-Hjorth, 18, stole a backpack from a man following a drug deal gone wrong. When Mario Cerciello Rega and another plainclothes officer attempted to recover the backpack—which the American teens had allegedly offered to return in exchange for money and cocaine—Elder stabbed Cerciello Rega 11 times. Elder said he acted out of self-defense, claiming the officers didn’t identify themselves; Cerciello Rega’s partner said they showed their badges. Cerciello Rega had just gotten married last month, and his death shocked Italians.
Israeli mobsters killed
A woman in a blond wig opened fire in a Chinese restaurant in Mexico City this week, killing two Israeli mobsters in what police believe was a gang-ordered hit. The suspect, Esperanza Gutierrez Rojano, was arrested while trying to flee, but her two male accomplices got away. The victims, Benjamin Sutchi, 44, and Alon Azulay, 41, have criminal records in both Israel and Mexico. Sutchi was linked to Israeli fugitive Erez Akrishevsky, who escaped to Mexico 18 years ago but was arrested last week and deported to Israel. Mexican newspapers said the two victims had been trying to set up a network to distribute drugs through casinos.
Fury over Trump pact
Guatemalans say their government was bullied into signing a “safe third country” agreement with the U.S. last week. Interior Minister Enrique Degenhart signed the pact—which requires asylum seekers who pass through Guatemala to seek asylum there instead of in the U.S.—only after President Trump threatened the country with high tariffs, a travel ban, and a tax on U.S. remittances. Now human rights ombudsman Jordán Rodas is asking Guatemala’s Constitutional Court to undo the pact, because international law states that any treaty “that has been obtained under threats is null.” Racked with gang violence and poverty, Guatemala is not considered safe. More Guatemalans were detained at the U.S. southern border last year than any other nationality.
Britain’s new prime minister, Boris Johnson, was booed this week as he visited Scotland to make his case for achieving Brexit by Oct. 31—with or without an EU trade deal. Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU in the 2016 referendum, and Scottish nationalists say that if the U.K. leaves the bloc chaotically, with no deal, support for Scottish independence will surge. Michael Gove, a member of Johnson’s new Brexiteer cabinet, said that a no-deal scenario was likely, prompting the pound to sink to a two-year low against the dollar. Johnson insists that he will get a better deal than the one negotiated by his predecessor, Theresa May, which was rejected by Parliament. The EU says it will not renegotiate.
Deadly prison brawl
A gruesome battle this week between two gangs in Altamira prison left 57 inmates dead, 16 of whom were decapitated. Members of Comando Classe A, a local gang, set fire to the quarters of members of Rio de Janeiro–based Comando Vermelho, and the fire prevented police from entering the building for several hours while the two sides fought. The prison holds 343 detainees; it has a capacity of 163. Such overcrowding is common in Brazilian prisons, and it’s getting worse under President Jair Bolsonaro, who pledged to “stuff prison cells with criminals.” Some prisons are so packed that inmates sleep standing up, their hands tied to the bars so they remain upright. In May, 55 inmates were strangled or stabbed to death with sharpened toothbrushes—some in front of visiting family members—in a series of riots at four prisons.
The estranged sixth wife of the ruler of Dubai is begging a British court to protect her children from being forced into marriage. Princess Haya bint al-Hussein, 45, brought her daughter 11, and son, 7, to London several months ago, saying Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum wanted to marry one of them off. She is seeking asylum in the U.K., sole custody of her children, and a restraining order. Sheikh Mohammed, 70, who is prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and has some 20 children by many wives, is challenging the petition. Two of Sheikh Mohammed’s daughters from other marriages tried to flee their homeland, one in 2000 and one last year; both were captured by Emirati forces and forced to return to Dubai.
Boko Haram massacre
At least 65 people were killed in northeastern Nigeria this week when gunmen on motorbikes opened fire at a funeral. Local officials said the attackers were from the extremist Islamist group Boko Haram. Two weeks ago, villagers killed 11 militants who were trying to take their cows and produce. The funeral attack was apparent retaliation. Boko Haram, which means “Western education is forbidden,” seeks to impose a strict form of Sharia law on Nigeria and kidnaps men and boys to serve as fighters and girls to become their brides. Over the past decade, the group has killed some 27,000 people and driven 2 million from their homes. Boko Haram has lost control of most of its territory in recent years, but still terrorizes the region with suicide bombings and armed attacks.
More than 1,300 people were arrested in a violent crackdown on opposition protesters in Moscow this week, with pro-democracy demonstrators beaten by baton-wielding riot police and sprayed with chemical irritants. Opposition leader Alexei Navalny called the protest after authorities blocked prominent opposition candidates from running in September’s Moscow city elections. Navalny wasn’t able to lead the rally, because days earlier he had been sentenced to a month in jail for sponsoring an unauthorized demonstration. After being locked up, Navalny developed hives and swelling and had to be transported to a hospital. His lawyer said doctors believed that he had been poisoned, but he was transferred back to his cell after treatment.
North Korea test-fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the waters separating the Korean Peninsula and Japan this week, just days after it launched two similar missiles. All the missiles are believed to be KN-23s, low-altitude projectiles designed to evade missile defense systems, such as the U.S. THAAD system stationed in South Korea. The North said last week that the launches were intended as a “solemn warning” to “South Korean military warmongers” not to conduct the joint military exercises with American forces planned for next month. The launches come after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Trump met in June at the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea and agreed to resume nuclear negotiations. Trump downplayed the tests, saying that they involved “very standard missiles” and that “many people have those missiles.”
Are camps closed?
China claimed this week that it has freed the 1 million Uighur Muslims it has been “re-educating” in detention camps across its northwestern Xinjiang region. “The majority of people who have undergone education and training have returned to society,” said Alken Tuniaz, vice chair of the Xinjiang government. But the U.S. said there was no evidence of any mass release, and that Uighurs said to have been freed were instead transferred to forced-labor programs. “They are basically now transitioning from internment to society-wide control,” said Adrian Zenz, an expert on Uighur camps. The U.S. State Department and Pentagon called on China to let U.N. officials examine the camps, and denounced Beijing’s practice of stationing ethnic Han Chinese observers in Uighur homes to prevent the observance of Islamic rites.
Greening the country
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Ethiopians have smashed a world record by planting more than 350 million tree seedlings in just 12 hours. In the early 20th century, 35 percent of the country was covered in forest, but by the beginning of this century, that figure had fallen to 4 percent. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has made reforestation a central goal of his government. The deep roots of native trees help combat the desertification caused by drought—a frequent occurrence in Ethiopia—by binding the soil and bringing groundwater to the surface, helping other plants with shallower root systems. The previous single-day planting record was set by India, which planted some 50 million trees in 2017. ■