Horror at the Tate
A British teenager was arrested this week for allegedly hurling a French child off the 10th-floor viewing platform at London’s Tate Modern art gallery. The 6-year-old victim fell 100 feet to the gallery’s fifth-floor roof and is in critical condition with injuries to his brain and fractures to his arms, legs, and spine. Witnesses heard the boy’s mother crying “My son, oh my son” after the attack. The alleged 17-year-old perpetrator—who hasn’t been named—had been following families around the viewing platform and “acting weirdly” before the incident, said gallerygoer Nancy Barnfield. Bystanders held down the suspect until police arrived. The attack is similar to one in April, when a man threw a child off a third-floor balcony in Minnesota’s Mall of America.
An Eritrean-born man is being investigated for murder after he allegedly pushed a German child and his mother in front of a train at Frankfurt’s main station. The mother rolled to safety, but the 8-year-old boy was killed instantly. The suspect, 40-year-old Habte Araya, settled in neighboring Switzerland in 2006. Authorities there said he was a model immigrant until a few months ago, when he began hearing voices and acting violent. The far-right Alternative for Germany party (AfD) said the attack showed the need for tougher immigration policies. “There are no border controls,” said AfD co-leader Alice Weidel. Days later, some 50 members of the extremist group Brotherhood Germany tried to protest the murder by storming a Düsseldorf swimming pool used by migrants, but were blocked by police.
Total U.S. embargo
The Trump administration imposed sweeping new sanctions on Venezuela this week, measures that the leftist regime of President Nicolás Maduro denounced as “arbitrary economic terrorism against the Venezuelan people.” The order signed by President Trump freezes the Venezuelan government’s property and assets in the U.S. and bars transactions with the authoritarian regime. The new sanctions apply to all individuals, companies, and countries that do business with Venezuela—including Russia and China. America will use “every tool to end the Maduro dictatorship in Venezuela,” said national security adviser John Bolton. Only North Korea, Iran, Syria, and Cuba have been sanctioned so extensively by the U.S.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has fired the head of a government agency that reported a huge increase in deforestation in the Amazon rain forest. Satellite data from Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) found that some 1,814 square miles of rain forest were destroyed in the first seven months of the year, nearly 40 percent more than during the same period in 2018. Bolsonaro, who took office in January pledging to open the Amazon to industry, claimed in a press conference that the agency had used false figures with the aim of “harming the name of Brazil and its government.” Ricardo Magnus Osório Galvão, the respected physicist who led the INPE, was ousted the next day.
Taking protesters’ baby
Russian authorities are seeking to strip a mother and father of their parental rights because the couple took their 1-year-old son to an unauthorized anti-Kremlin protest in Moscow last month. Prosecutors say the couple endangered the baby’s “health and life” by letting another person hold him at the rally. The couple, Dmitry and Olga Prokazov, said they hadn’t even been protesting but had simply stumbled across the demonstration, and that the man who held their child was Olga’s cousin. By threatening parents, the Kremlin may hope to dissuade people from demonstrating against the rigging of September’s Moscow City Council election, from which all opposition candidates have been barred. Prosecutors said they are also investigating other adults with small children who attended recent protests.
Gang leader’s disguise
Rio de Janeiro
A Brazilian gang leader who tried to escape from prison by impersonating his 19-year-old daughter has been found dead by suspected suicide in his cell. Clauvino da Silva, 42, staged the attempted jailbreak during a visit by his daughter; as she sat in his cell, he walked out wearing a pink T-shirt, black wig, and elaborate latex mask. But guards saw through the disguise, and Silva—who was serving a 73-year sentence—was made to strip down in front of cameras before being placed in solitary confinement. Authorities said he hanged himself with bedsheets soon after. His daughter, Ana Gabriele, and eight other visitors are being questioned for their part in the botched escape. Among the suspected accomplices: a pregnant woman who authorities think may have smuggled the mask into the prison under her belly.
Anger over sanctions
As U.S. and British warships patrolled nearby, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps last week seized an Iraqi oil tanker in the Persian Gulf—the third time it has detained a foreign vessel in recent weeks. Iran accused the vessel of smuggling 185,000 gallons of fuel “for some Arab countries”; last month, the Revolutionary Guards took over a Panamanian-flagged tanker and the British-flagged Stena Impero. In a live TV address, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned that shipping through the Strait of Hormuz—a choke point in the Gulf through which one-fifth of the world’s oil supply flows—could be at risk unless Iran is allowed to trade. “Peace with Iran is the mother of all peace,” he said. “War with Iran is the mother of all wars.” If the Trump administration wants to have negotiations, Rouhani said, then it must lift the sanctions that are hurting Iran’s economy.
Women may travel alone
Saudi Arabian women celebrated this week after the kingdom lifted some of the onerous guardianship restrictions that constrain their lives. Women will now be allowed to get passports and travel without a male relative’s permission and to register births and be guardians to minors. We will have “a generation growing up completely free and equal to their brothers,” said activist Muna AbuSulayman. The changes, part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s reform program, come after a string of high-profile cases in which Saudi and Emirati women have fled abroad to escape domestic abuse. But the guardianship system remains in place. Male relatives can still report women to authorities for “disobedience” and living on their own, offenses that are punishable by imprisonment and flogging.
Kashmir was on lockdown this week after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government revoked a 65-year-old law that had granted limited autonomy to the disputed Himalayan region. Anticipating violent protests, India sent tens of thousands of soldiers to Kashmir ahead of Modi’s announcement, placed some 400 Kashmiri political figures under house arrest, and cut off internet and phone service. Muslim-majority Kashmir was divided into Pakistani and Indian administered areas following Britain’s 1947 partition of the Indian subcontinent, and Pakistan and India have since fought three wars over the region. Hindu nationalists have long resented the presence in India of a Muslim province that has been a hotbed of separatist and Islamist violence. Now that India has rescinded Article 370 of its constitution—which prevented non-Kashmiris from owning property or working there—Hindus could attempt to take over the area. This is a “historic step toward establishing the Hindu Rashtra,” the Hindu nation, said a spokesman for Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, a Hindu nationalist group.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said he believed that Modi “may initiate ethnic cleansing in Kashmir to wipe out the local population.” He said that Kashmiris may attack Indian security forces out of anger and that India would inevitably blame Pakistan. “If India attacks us, we will respond,” he said. “We will fight until the last drop of blood.” Some analysts speculated that President Trump’s recent offer to mediate between India and Pakistan—both nuclear powers—over Kashmir may have hastened Modi’s decision to scrap Article 370. India has long resisted international attempts to become involved in the dispute.
China is complicit in the forced abortions performed on pregnant North Korean women who try to defect, experts on the Hermit Kingdom said this week. China routinely sends defectors back to North Korea, where guards kick or beat any who are pregnant until they miscarry, assuming they are bearing Chinese children. “Some [defectors] reported having soldiers jump on their stomach until the baby came out, others by having various instruments inserted,” said Dong Yon Kim of South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo. If a repatriated woman does give birth, prison guards “smother or drown their babies before their very eyes,” said Olivia Enos of the U.S.-based Heritage Foundation.
Strike paralyzes city
Clouds of tear gas wafted through Hong Kong this week as hundreds of thousands of protesters joined a general strike, halting train service and grounding airplanes for lack of air traffic controllers. Some demonstrators set fires outside police stations and threw bricks at officers. The protests started two months ago in opposition to a proposed bill that would allow Hong Kong residents to be extradited and tried in mainland courts. But the rallies have grown into a general condemnation of Beijing’s attempts to curtail Hong Kong’s autonomy and of police brutality. Beijing has so far refrained from sending troops, but warned this week that it will intervene if Hong Kong fails to contain the violence.
Getty, AP, Rio de Janeiro Penitentiary Administration Secretariat/AP, Newscom ■