Girl finds sword
Lake Vidostern, Sweden
An 8-year-old Swedish-American girl has been nicknamed “Queen of Sweden” after she pulled an ancient sword from a lake. Saga Vanecek, who was born in Minnesota to Swedish parents and moved with her family to Sweden last year, was wading in Lake Vidostern when she came across the Iron Age blade. Her father, Andy, said that she lifted the 33-inch-long weapon high above her head and shouted, “Daddy! I found a sword!” Experts say the artifact could be up to 1,500 years old, dating to a time before the Vikings. Despite her discovery, Saga says she has no intention of becoming an archaeologist when she grows up and would rather be “a doctor, vet, or an actress in Paris.”
Sexual assault case
Canada’s Supreme Court has agreed to hear a sexual assault case that has generated loud protests from indigenous and women’s rights groups. Trucker Bradley Barton was found not guilty in 2015 of murder or manslaughter in the 2011 death of Cindy Gladue, 36, an indigenous woman and sex worker. Gladue bled to death from a large cut to her pelvic tissue; Barton said the wound was caused by consensual rough sex; prosecutors said it was likely inflicted with a sharp object. The ruling was thrown out by an appeals court—because Gladue was repeatedly referred to as a “native girl” and “prostitute” during the trial, possibly prejudicing the jury. The Supreme Court will now decide whether Barton will face another trial and how the issue of consent is applied to cases involving sex workers.
Serial killer couple
A Mexican husband and wife who were arrested while pushing a baby stroller filled with human body parts have confessed to the murder of 20 women. Police said the pair, identified only as Juan Carlos N. and Patricia N., had buckets full of dismembered body parts and cement at the home where they lived with their three children. More human remains were found in a refrigerator. Juan Carlos said he sexually abused some of the women, fed body parts to pets, and sold the 2-month-old baby of one victim. “He actually seemed happy to have done this,” said a prosecutor. News of the murders sparked a protest in Ecatepec, where demonstrators carrying white flowers and candles demanded the government crack down on violence against women.
Politician’s suspicious death
Venezuelan authorities said this week that a jailed opposition lawmaker killed himself while in custody, but his party alleges he was murdered. Fernando Albán, 56, was detained at the Caracas airport last week upon returning from a United Nations meeting in New York and charged with plotting the failed August drone attack on President Nicolás Maduro. Authorities said he asked to use the bathroom at the state intelligence agency headquarters and leaped from the 10th-floor window. “There’s no doubt this was an assassination,” said opposition leader Julio Borges, who lives in exile in Colombia and who led the opposition’s informal delegation to the U.N. Borges said he was told by Albán’s wife that her husband had been under pressure to testify against him in the drone plot. The U.N. said it will investigate the death.
This year’s Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to Congolese surgeon Denis Mukwege and Iraqi human rights activist Nadia Murad for their campaigns to end rape as a weapon of war. Mukwege, 63, opened a hospital that specializes in repairing fistulas—tears between the vagina and anus that can be caused by a violent rape. He has operated on some 20,000 women and girls and has braved death threats to raise awareness of their plight. Murad, 25, was abducted by ISIS in 2014 along with thousands of other women and girls from Iraq’s Yazidi minority and forced into sexual slavery. After she escaped, she became an activist for other sexual slavery survivors.
Serb hard-liners win
Militant Bosnian Serb nationalists who want to break up Bosnia-Herzegovina won key positions in the country’s government this week. Hard-liner Milorad Dodik took the Serbian seat in Bosnia’s three-person presidency, while his ally, Zeljka Cvijanovic, became president of Bosnia’s autonomous ethnic-Serb province, Republika Srpska. Dodik, who has strong ties to Russia, has pledged to take Republika Srpska out of Bosnia. He said he would use his power “to work above all and only for the interests of Serbs.” The other two seats in the national presidency are reserved for a Bosnian Muslim and a Bosnian Croat; both were won by moderates.
Interpol head detained
Chinese officials announced this week that Meng Hongwei, president of the international police cooperation agency Interpol, who disappeared while visiting China, has been arrested on suspicion of corruption. Meng, a Chinese citizen, traveled from Lyon, France—where Interpol is based—to Beijing last month. His wife reported him missing after he texted her a knife emoji, signifying danger, soon after landing and then went silent. He is the latest top Chinese official to be caught up in an anti-corruption sweep that is seen by many critics as a cover for purging potential rivals to President Xi Jinping. “Like others forcibly disappeared before him,” said Maya Wang of Human Rights Watch, Meng “faces detention until he confesses under duress, an unfair trial, and then harsh imprisonment, possibly for many years.”
American denied entry
Israel has detained an American student of Palestinian descent and sent her to a deportation hearing, because of her activism advocating for a boycott of Israeli goods. Lara Alqasem, 22, had an Israeli-issued visa to attend a master’s program at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, but when she arrived at Tel Aviv airport last week, she was detained. Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan says Alqasem can enter Israel only if she renounces her support for the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement, which aims to pressure Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian territories. Several Jewish Americans, including activist Simone Zimmerman and journalist Peter Beinart, have also reported being interrogated about their political views at the Israeli border in recent months.
A sinkhole opened up suddenly in a sidewalk in a commercial district of the Chinese city of Dazhou this week, sending four people plunging 30 feet to their deaths. Two victims, a recently married couple, were pulled alive from the pit but later died in the hospital; the bodies of the other two, a man and his son, were retrieved later. Authorities evacuated nearby buildings, fearing that the 100-square-foot sinkhole might expand. Sinkholes are often formed when acidic rainwater dissolves limestone or similar rock beneath the ground, leaving a void; shoddy construction planning and poor drainage can exacerbate the problem.
Pompeo claims progress
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un had a productive talk in Pyongyang this week and agreed to schedule another summit between Kim and President Trump. “We can now see a path to where we’ll achieve the ultimate goal,” Pompeo said, “which is the full and final verified denuclearization of North Korea.” The secretary of state did not give any details about what steps would be included on that path, or how long denuclearization would take. But Pompeo did say that Kim would allow international inspectors into his supposedly decommissioned Punggye-ri nuclear testing site and the dismantled Sohae missile engine test facility—only once the two sides had agreed on logistics.
Saudi journalist murdered?
A team of Saudi Arabian hitmen assassinated a Saudi dissident journalist inside the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate, Turkish officials said this week. Jamal Khashoggi, a well-connected journalist with close ties to many Saudi princes, had fled to the U.S. last year to escape a sweeping crackdown on dissent after Mohammed bin Salman, 33, was named crown prince. In exile, Khashoggi wrote op-eds critical of the crown prince for many publications, including The Washington Post. Last week, he went to the Istanbul consulate to collect documents for his upcoming marriage to a Turkish woman. Turkish officials said 15 Saudi agents, including an autopsy expert bearing a bone saw, arrived in Istanbul the same day, and some lay in wait at the consulate. The officials believe Khashoggi was killed, dismembered, and removed from the building within two hours of his arrival. The Saudi agents left the country soon after.
U.S. intelligence knew that the Saudis were targeting Khashoggi, the Post reported, but it’s unclear whether they warned him. The Trump administration, which considers Saudi Arabia a crucial ally against Iran, called on Saudi Arabia to support a “thorough investigation” into Khashoggi’s disappearance. Saudi officials strongly denied all allegations and said they are concerned about Khashoggi’s welfare. But Saudi activists who live abroad told CNN they are afraid to go home or use consular services while Mohammed is in charge. “I really don’t understand what’s happening in my country,” one said. “Everywhere I go, I meet [Saudis] who are filing for asylum.” ■