Global Briefs: Tensions after teacher attack in France | WORLD
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Global Briefs: Tensions after teacher attack in France

Islamic terrorist killed high school teacher Dominique Bernard in the town of Arras

Élisabeth Borne Geoffroy van der Hasselt/AFP via Getty Images

Global Briefs: Tensions after teacher attack in France
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Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne raised the nation’s alert system to its maximum level after an Islamic terrorist killed high school teacher Dominique Bernard in the town of Arras on Oct. 13. Police had identified the assailant as a potential risk for radicalization. Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said the ­attacker’s actions were probably linked to events in the Middle East. On Oct. 12, Darmanin banned all pro-Palestinian demonstrations after the country saw a rise in antisemitic acts following Hamas’ attack in Israel. Darmanin said such demonstrations created problems for keeping public order. —Jenny Lind Schmitt

Fact Box Source: The World Factbook-CIA

United Kingdom

West Midlands Police issued an apology to Isabel Vaughan-Spruce after arresting her for silently praying outside an abortion center. In September police announced they had dropped the charges and would take no further action against her. Police originally arrested Vaughan-Spruce in December 2022. A judge dismissed those charges, but police arrested her again in March. The case gained worldwide attention as an attack on freedom of thought in the U.K. While she welcomed the apology, Vaughan-Spruce said, “I should never have been arrested or investigated simply for the thoughts I held in my own mind. Silent prayer is never criminal.” Meanwhile, in a similar case, police in Bournemouth arrested Adam Smith-Connor for praying silently outside an abortion center there. Earlier this year, the House of Commons approved legislation creating so-called buffer zones around abortion centers throughout the country. —Jenny Lind Schmitt


Voters rejected a proposal to change the country’s constitution on Oct. 14. The referendum would have enshrined an advocacy committee of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as an Indigenous Voice to Parliament. The Voice would have reviewed and recommended changes to parliamentary legislation related to indigenous interests. The referendum needed a majority of voters in a majority of states to pass. It lost with about 60 percent of the country voting no and none of the states in favor. The referendum marked the country’s 45th attempt to change the constitution and the 37th to fail. Indigenous ­people make up almost 4 percent of the population. Advocates saw the proposal as a way to promote reconciliation with those mistreated after English colonization. —Amy Lewis


Kyoto is among the latest cities to sell used manhole covers to the public. The artistic cast iron lids have become collector’s items. They depict colorful scenes, including local landmarks, festivals, nature, and even Pokémon characters. Kyoto’s Water Supply and Sewage Bureau closed applications on Oct. 13 to buy three of its manhole covers. It sold the lids—manufactured in 1978, 1981, and 1990 respectively—for 5,500 yen (about $37) each. One features a pattern resembling the wheels of a court carriage, in reference to Kyoto as Japan’s ancient capital. The others display a grid-like motif or repeated circles. They measure about 26 inches in diameter and weigh nearly 200 pounds. —Joyce Wu


Hackers supporting pro-democracy protesters disabled several government websites on Oct. 14. The targeted websites included Guatemala’s judicial branch and the Department of Agriculture. The protests began Oct. 2 when farmers and indigenous people set up roadblocks. They are demanding the resignation of Attorney General Consuelo Porras over her office’s investigations of President-elect Bernardo Arévalo and his Seed Movement party. Protesters claim Porras wants to keep Arévalo from assuming office in January. President Alejandro Giammattei has so far rejected calls to remove Porras from office. —Onize Ohikere


The country’s highest court ruled on Oct. 4 that a century-old law criminalizing same-sex relations is unconstitutional. The court said the law dates back to the colonial history of the Indian Ocean island and does not reflect its indigenous ­values. The law previously handed down a five-year prison sentence to anyone guilty of same-sex ­relations. The ruling comes as some other African nations double down on similar laws. Back in August, the World Bank paused funding to Uganda after it approved a law that prescribes death as the maximum penalty for some homosexual acts. A Kenyan lawmaker has proposed a bill that could penalize homosexuality with a maximum 50-year ­sentence. —Onize Ohikere


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