Hillary Clinton this week joined many U.K. politicians in criticizing Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to sit on a report about Russian interference in British politics—including in the 2016 Brexit referendum and the 2017 election. The 50-page dossier was produced after an investigation by Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee, and intelligence agencies have cleared it for release. But Johnson said it needed additional vetting and would not be made public until after Britain’s Dec. 12 election. Clinton, in the U.K. for a book tour, called the decision “inexplicable and shameful.” The Sunday Times reported that the dossier names nine wealthy Russians who have donated generously to Johnson’s Conservative Party.
Hockey institution fired
Hockey announcer Don Cherry, a fixture on Canadian TV for more than three decades, is off the air after he questioned the patriotism of immigrants to Canada. Cherry, 85, complained that people in Toronto—where the population is half nonwhite—failed to wear poppies for Remembrance Day to commemorate the Canadians who died in World War I. “You people that come here,” he said, “you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey, at least you can pay a couple bucks for a poppy.” Cherry has co-hosted a segment on Hockey Night in Canada since 1986 and has been accused of xenophobia, because he criticizes European-born players as weak or lazy. He has also called Quebec nationalists “a bunch of whiners” and opponents of fighting in the game “turncoats.”
La Mora, Mexico
Traveling in an 18-vehicle convoy, about 100 of the 200 members of an American Mormon community in northern Mexico have moved to Arizona after nine of their family members were massacred by drug cartel gunmen. More members of the La Mora community are expected to relocate soon. Bryce Langford, whose mother, Dawna, was shot dead in last week’s ambush along with two of his brothers—ages 11 and 2—said the community had been discussing a move even before the attack because of increased cartel activity near their homes. But they hadn’t expected to have to flee so suddenly, he said. Mormons have lived in Mexico since the church banned polygamy a century ago, leading Mormon families with multiple wives to head south. The La Mora community was established in 1944.
After its fourth election in four years, Spain may finally have a coalition government. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s center-left Socialist Party came in first in this week’s parliamentary elections and will stay in power, although it took only 120 of 350 seats—three fewer than it won in April’s election. After that election, Sánchez failed in his attempts to form a coalition with the far-left Podemos party, prompting this week’s rerun. This time, though, the two left-wing parties clinched a deal just two days after the vote. The election also saw the ultraright Vox surge in popularity, vaulting from 24 seats to 52. Three years ago, that anti-immigrant party was a fringe movement with less than 1 percent of the vote.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has begun deporting suspected ISIS fighters to their home nations, and he said he would continue to do so unless Western countries stopped threatening sanctions against Turkey. He was apparently responding to the European Union’s announcement this week that it would sanction Turkey for its unauthorized oil drilling off the coast of Cyprus. Turkey has detained some 2,500 members of the terrorist group, and this week it sent several dozen detainees to France, Germany, Denmark, and Ireland. A U.S. citizen who said he did not want to go home was deported to Greece. But Greece refused him entry and Turkey wouldn’t take him back, so he was left stuck in the buffer zone separating the two countries.
Lula goes free
Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was greeted by throngs of cheering, red-shirted supporters after he was released from prison last week, having served a year and a half behind bars. Lula, one of the most popular presidents in Brazilian history, was sent to prison in 2018 for eight years and 10 months after being found guilty of accepting a beach house from a company seeking government contracts. But the evidence against Lula was thin, and his supporters say the charges were political. The Supreme Court ruled last week that defendants should not be jailed until they have exhausted their appeals, so Lula was freed—along with some 5,000 other people—while he pursues an appeal. If his conviction is eventually overturned, Lula will likely become the leftist Workers’ Party candidate in the 2022 election.
St. Petersburg, Russia
A Russian expert on Napoleon has admitted that he killed his student lover—after he was caught trying to drunkenly dump her dismembered arms in the Moika River. “I am devastated,” Oleg Sokolov, 63, told a court this week, saying he was deeply sorry for killing Anastasia Yeshchenko, 24. He claimed that she had threatened him with a knife, leading him to shoot her four times with a sawed-off shotgun and then chop up her body with a saw and kitchen knife. Sokolov, a professor at the prestigious St. Petersburg University and a prominent re-enactor of the Napoleonic Wars, has a history of alleged violence. In 2008, another female student said that Sokolov tied her up and beat her when she wanted to leave him. She reported Sokolov to the authorities after escaping, but he was not arrested.
White Helmets founder killed?
A former British army officer who helped found the Syrian rescue group known as the White Helmets was found dead outside his Istanbul apartment this week, having apparently fallen from a balcony. Suspicion fell immediately on the Russian government, which had accused James Le Mesurier, 48, of being a terrorist and a spy. Russian intelligence services have a history of defenestrating their targets. Le Mesurier set up Mayday Rescue, a nonprofit that organized and trained the White Helmets—known officially as Syria Civil Defense. The 3,000-member group is a volunteer organization whose first responders have pulled thousands of civilians out of the rubble after bombings of residential areas, mostly by Syrian and Russian forces. The group has been the target of a Russian disinformation campaign that accuses it of faking chemical attacks and staging gory bombing scenes.
Two American University of Afghanistan professors who were kidnapped by the Taliban three years ago could soon be free. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said that he would release three Taliban commanders in exchange for American Kevin King, 63, and Australian Timothy Weeks, 50. Four months after they were taken from their car at gunpoint, the two men appeared in a hostage video looking haggard, weeping, and pleading to be released, but they haven’t been seen since. A Navy SEAL attempt to rescue them in 2016 was unsuccessful. The three militants who will be released are members of the Haqqani network, a hard-line faction of the Taliban based in Pakistan. Ghani said the prisoner swap shows his government’s intention to build trust ahead of face-to-face peace talks with the Taliban.
Surge in violence
The five-month showdown between pro-democracy protesters and police in Hong Kong erupted into widespread violence this week, forcing subway and bus lines, schools, and businesses to be closed for days. Police shot an unarmed protester at close range—leaving the 21-year-old in critical condition—and a man who accused a group of protesters of not being Chinese was doused in flammable liquid and set alight. He is also in critical condition. Riot police beat demonstrators with batons at a rally in the financial district, while office workers sought to help the protesters by giving them water and umbrellas. At the Chinese University of Hong Kong, battles broke out between students and police, who were blamed by activists for the death of a 22-year-old student who fell from a parking garage. Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam called the demonstrators the “enemy of the people.”
Israel vs. Islamic Jihad
A cross-border battle erupted between the Israeli Defense Forces and militants in the Gaza Strip this week after a top Islamic Jihad leader and his wife were killed by an Israeli airstrike. Baha Abu al-Ata was the Iran-backed militant group’s senior commander in northern Gaza, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called him a “ticking time bomb” and “the main instigator of terrorism” from Gaza. Islamic Jihad responded to the missile strike on Abu al-Ata’s home by firing hundreds of rockets into Israel, wounding at least one civilian. Israel, in turn, launched airstrikes and fired artillery rounds at targets in Gaza, killing at least 24 people. The IDF said it was hitting only sites controlled by Islamic Jihad and was optimistic that Hamas—the militant group that controls Gaza—would stay out of the fight.
Australian authorities ordered thousands of people to evacuate and closed hundreds of schools as more than 150 bushfires ripped through New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland this week. Since the official fire season began on Oct. 1, some 3,800 square miles have burned, more than three times the area that burned during all of last season. “They won’t have this out for days, weeks, months,” said NSW Rural Fire Service chief Shane Fitzsimmons. Greg Mullins, NSW’s former fire chief, blamed climate change for the unprecedented blazes. “Fires are burning in places and at intensities never before experienced,” he said, “rain forests in northern New South Wales, tropical Queensland, and the formerly wet old-growth forests in Tasmania.” ■