The U.S. diplomat’s wife who crashed into and killed a teenage motorcyclist while driving on the wrong side of the road in Britain will not return to the U.K. to face justice, President Trump told the teen’s family this week. Anne Sacoolas, 42, claimed diplomatic immunity and fled the country soon after the August collision that left 19-year-old Harry Dunn dead. Dunn’s parents traveled to Washington, D.C., this week to push for Sacoolas’ return. During a White House meeting with Trump, they were told that Sacoolas—who has apologized in a statement—was in the next room and ready to meet. Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn said they felt “ambushed” and declined to see her. Such an impromptu meeting would be “not good for her mental health,” said Charles. “It’s certainly not good for ours.”
Britain and the European Union this week appeared close to finalizing a deal over the U.K.’s impending exit from the bloc. The plan overcomes a key sticking point—how to avoid a hard border going up between Ireland, an EU member, and the U.K. province of Northern Ireland—by effectively keeping Northern Ireland inside the EU customs union. As The Week went to press, EU leaders said their side was ready to sign the deal, but that U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was still working to persuade lawmakers back home. The Democratic Unionist Party, the small Northern Irish party whose votes Johnson needs to get any deal through Parliament, has long been opposed to such a plan, saying it would cut off Northern Ireland from the rest of the U.K. Parliament recently passed a law requiring Johnson to ask for an extension to the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline if he could not clinch a deal; Johnson insists he will not do that.
At least 13 Mexican police officers were killed and nine more wounded this week after their convoy was ambushed by heavily armed drug gang members in the western state of Michoacán. Authorities had sent 42 cops in five cars into the lawless territory of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel to serve a single warrant. As they drove through the municipality of Aguililla, some 30 gang members in “presumably armored” vehicles opened fire with high-caliber weapons, said Michoacán state prosecutor Adrián López Solís. The cartel, believed to be led by Rubén “El Mencho” Oseguera Cervantes, is Mexico’s most brutal crime group. “El Chapo was violent, but El Mencho has taken it to a new level,” said DEA agent Kyle Mori.
The United Nations ended its 15-year peacekeeping mission in Haiti this week, even though the country’s security and political situation remains highly volatile. Some 6,200 Blue Helmet soldiers and 1,200 police were deployed to Haiti in 2004, after then–President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was overthrown by the army. At that time, Haiti (population 11 million) had only 2,500 of its own police officers; it now has more than 15,000. But the nation remains so unstable that the U.N. chose not to hold a farewell ceremony for its troops over safety concerns. The U.N. “came with the objective of stabilizing the country,” said Fritz Bernard Craan, president of Haiti’s Chamber of Commerce, “and they failed.”
Nobel for genocide denier
The Swedish Academy was bombarded with criticism this week after it awarded a Nobel Prize in literature to Peter Handke, an Austrian author who had close ties to former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic. Milosevic died in 2006 while on trial for 66 counts of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes during the Balkan wars of the 1990s. Handke, who once denied the 1995 massacre of more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim boys and men at Srebrenica, eulogized Milosevic at his funeral. “Never thought [I] would feel to vomit because of a Nobel Prize,” Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama wrote on Twitter. Handke thanked the Swedish Academy for its “courageous” decision.
Moreno backs down
Indigenous leaders celebrated this week after President Lenín Moreno scrapped a decree eliminating fuel subsidies—an order that sparked two weeks of violent protests. The U.N. and the Catholic Church brokered talks between Moreno’s government and the indigenous leaders, who said the planned fuel-price increases would hurt farmers and working people already struggling in a dismal economy. Ending the fuel subsidy—which cost the government $1.3 billion a year—was a condition of a badly needed loan from the International Monetary Fund, but Moreno said his government would make its budget cuts elsewhere. Indigenous groups said that if they don’t like what he comes up with, they will resume demonstrations.
Orgy mayor re-elected
A Hungarian gymnast turned mayor was elected to another term this week, despite a leaked video that showed him participating in a drug-fueled orgy on a luxury yacht. Zsolt Borkai, a married father of two and an Olympic gold medalist, said his romp on the boat was a “mistake” but that he would continue as mayor of Gyor. The anonymous blogger who posted the video claimed that the mayor and his lawyer had used government money to pay for the yacht and the scantily clad escorts who joined them on board. Borkai is an ally of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who promotes Christian family values, and the Hungarian press is calling the scandal “Borkai-gate.” While Borkai managed to hold on to his seat, at least 10 of Hungary’s 23 big cities—including the capital, Budapest—went to the opposition.
Nobel for peacemaker
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
The 2019 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed for his frenetic work to end a deadlocked, two-decade-old conflict between his country and neighboring Eritrea. More than 70,000 people died in a two-year border war between the two countries that ended in an inconclusive peace deal in 2000. Relations between Ethiopia and Eritrea remained hostile until Abiy was elected 18 months ago and opened talks with Eritrea, signing a historic accord in September 2018. Abiy, 43, has also pushed to reform his country after decades of repression, releasing thousands of political prisoners, lifting bans on opposition groups, scrapping media censorship, and firing military and civilian leaders suspected of corruption. The Nobel Committee said it was awarding the prize so quickly after peace was achieved because Ethiopia’s achievements “deserve recognition” and “need encouragement.”
Soccer ban lifted
Thousands of jubilant Iranian women cheered on their national soccer team as it beat Cambodia 14-0 at a Tehran stadium last week, the first time since 1981 that women have been allowed to attend a game in the Islamic Republic. Iran allotted 4,000 tickets in the 80,000-seat stadium to women, seating them in a segregated section guarded by female police. “Part of me is happy,” said Maryam Shojaei, sister of Iran’s national team captain, Masoud Shojaei, “but they have basically created a wall.” Last month, a woman facing six months in prison for sneaking into a match died after setting herself on fire, and the world soccer body, FIFA, told Iran it would have to let women watch or face a ban.
Vietnamese authorities have pulled the new DreamWorks movie Abominable from theaters, because the animated film—about a Chinese girl who befriends a yeti—features a brief shot of a map supporting China’s territorial claim to nearly all of the South China Sea. The map includes the so-called nine-dash line, a U-shaped boundary unilaterally declared by Beijing that carves out a vast swath of the resource-rich waters. China’s assertion of territorial rights is fiercely disputed by Vietnam and other nations that also have claims in the area. Abominable was co-produced by DreamWorks and Pearl Studio, a Chinese production company based in Shanghai.
Attacks on protesters
Just days after President Xi Jinping threatened Hong Kongers with “shattered bones” if they continued to hold mass street demonstrations, up to five men armed with hammers attacked protest leader Jimmy Sham, sending him to the hospital with head wounds. Sham is one of several pro-democracy candidates running in local elections to be attacked in recent weeks. In the Hong Kong legislature, lawmakers heckled executive Carrie Lam as she tried to make her annual policy speech, some of them playing audio of screaming protesters and calling on her to resign. Lam retreated and delivered her speech later by video. Meanwhile in Beijing, authorities reacted with anger to the passage of a bill by the U.S. House of Representatives that paves the way for sanctions against individuals who undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy. China’s state-run media called the House “arrogant and dangerous.”
More U.S. troops
The U.S. is sending 1,800 additional troops as well as two fighter-jet squadrons to Saudi Arabia to help defend the kingdom against Iran, the Pentagon announced last week—bringing the number of American personnel in the country to 3,000. The U.S. began sending troops to Saudi Arabia in July following a series of attacks on oil tankers, and accelerated deployments in September after Saudi oil facilities were hit by drone and missile strikes. “Saudi Arabia has agreed to pay us for everything we’re doing to help them,” Trump said. Critics accused Trump of treating the U.S. military like a mercenary force. The president supports “oil-rich Saudi autocrats who he thinks ‘pay cash,’” said Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), “even as he betrays our Kurdish partners who have paid with their lives in the fight against ISIS.”
Getty, Reuters, Newscom (2), AP ■