[Weekly Review] The Saudi-Canadian spat, the Pope changed the Catholic Church's position on the death penalty, and NASCAR's CEO was caught driving while intoxicated | Harper's Magazine

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[Weekly Review]

Weekly Review


The Saudi-Canadian spat; the Catholic Church’s new position on the death penalty; a few Swedish crown jewels were stolen in broad daylight

A year after Saudi king Salman Ibn Abdulaziz Al Saud opened the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology by placing his hand, alongside those of Egyptian president Abdel Fattah l-Sisi and US president Donald Trump, on a glowing orb, the Associated Press reported that the US-backed, Saudi-led alliance in Yemen had brokered secret deals with Al-Qaeda, recruited hundreds of the terrorist organization’s members to fight Iran-backed Houthi rebels, and bribed the group with weapons and cash to abandon certain cities.1 2 After Canada’s foreign ministry tweeted that the Saudi government should release recently imprisoned women’s rights activists such as Samar Badawi, whose brother had been sentenced to 1,000 blows with a cane for running a critical blog in 2013, Riyadh announced that it had suspended all new trade and investment transactions with Canada, scholarships to Canadian schools, and direct flights on the state-run airline to Toronto; gave the Canadian ambassador 24 hours to leave the country; and threatened to “interfere with Canadian affairs.”3 4 5 A “voluntary nonprofit project” run by “Saudi youth” tweeted a photoshopped picture of a passenger plane flying toward Toronto’s CN Tower with the quote “He who interferes with what doesn’t concern him finds what doesn’t please him,” and then, following widespread criticism because of the perceived allusions to the 9/11 terror attacks, explained that the plane was meant to represent the expelled ambassador’s return flight.6 7 On Friday, Mohammad al-Muadi, the official spokesman of the Human Rights Commission in Saudi Arabia, announced that the kingdom had fulfilled all its human rights obligations.8

Pope Francis changed the Catholic Church’s official position on the death penalty, calling it “an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person,” and the US government, which has induced regime change in Guatemala, Brazil, Uruguay, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, El Salvador, and Panama and has sought to assassinate leaders in four of those countries and repeatedly attempted to assassinate Fidel Castro of Cuba, including by hiding poison pills in his lover’s cold cream and infecting his scuba suit with fungus, denied that it had anything to do with an alleged drone attack on Nicolás Maduro, the president of Venezuela.9 10 11 12 A federal judge in Roraima, Brazil temporarily closed Brazil’s border to Venezuelan refugees until relocation processes were improved, but another federal judge reopened it before any changes to facilities were made, and the number of people caught illegally crossing the Canadian border with the US has increased 142 percent since last year.13 14 Yosemite Valley and its surrounding areas have been indefinitely closed to the public because of smoke from ongoing wildfires, and an Oregon man was arrested in a Glacier National Park hotel for taunting a bison in Yellowstone National Park, marking his fourth run-in with law enforcement that week.15 16 In New Jersey, a school superintendent accused of defecating on the Holmdel High School track and football field resigned.17

A $11,500 reward is being offered to determine who shot and killed a pregnant dolphin that washed ashore in Mississippi; a pregnant woman in Lethbridge, Alberta was served a cup of milk-residue-cleaning solution instead of a McDonald’s latte; Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of New Zealand, returned to work after six weeks of maternity leave; and Australia’s population hit 25 million.18 19 20 21 Facial recognition technology will be used for Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics venue security and to allow West Virginia servicemembers overseas to vote in the midterms in November via smartphone app.22 23 Brian France, the CEO of NASCAR, is taking “an indefinite leave of absence” after being arrested for driving his 2017 Lexus while intoxicated in Sag Harbor, Long Island; and Samoan prime minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi called car racing a “stupid hobby.”24 25 Police in North Carolina hope to track a teenager who stole $17 from a nine-year-old selling lemonade with DNA evidence, which can be tested for between $250 and $500.26 The Fields Medal, mathematics’ highest honor for young mathematicians, was stolen from Caucher Birkar, along with his cell phone and wallet, moments after it was awarded to him in Rio de Janeiro, and in Sweden, two thieves stole two royal crowns and an orb dating to the 17th century from Strängnäs Cathedral at midday, escaping by motorboat.27 28Violet Lucca

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