Before this week, few outside of France knew his face. But no doubt, millions have been busy Google-Image-searching the name â€œGuillaume Canet.â€ Yup, bel homme. He is also an accomplished actor and director, and happens to be the husband of the already internationally known French actress, Marion Cotillard. And that, as you are disturbingly likely to know, is how Canet has now made it onto our collective radar. For those just tuning in, Cotillard has been the chief collateral damage of the Hollywood mega-divorce of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Having just filmed a movie with Pitt, the famously private Cotillard was forced late last night to publicly deny rumors she was the cause of the "Brangelina" breakup. She wrote it in French and in English â€" and she put it on Instagram.
Gossip of course dates back to ancient times, and the modern cult of celebrity is very much a 20th-century creation. But the current digital information revolution is upping the stakes, on both truth and decorum: Just look at the U.S. presidential elections. Typically, in the face of the Internet maelstrom, we blame the forces beyond our control, the fame seekers and media personalities, or even the technology itself. But a recent essay by former superblogger Andrew Sullivan suggests we look at ourselves. Hereâ€™s a snippet of a piece entitled â€œI Used To Be A Human Beingâ€.
â€œI tried reading books, but that skill now began to elude me. After a couple of pages, my fingers twitched for a keyboard. I tried meditation, but my mind bucked and bridled as I tried to still it,â€ he writes. â€œBut over time in this pervasive virtual world, the online clamor grew louder and louder. Although I spent hours each day, alone and silent, attached to a laptop, it felt as if I were in a constant cacophonous crowd of words and images, sounds and ideas, emotions and tirades â€" a wind tunnel of deafening, deadening noise. So much of it was irresistible, as I fully understood. So much of the technology was irreversible, as I also knew. But Iâ€™d begun to fear that this new way of living was actually becoming a way of not-living.â€ The entire essay is very much worth a read, if you can keep your fingers from twitching toward the next Brangelina link on your screen.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY
- Polandâ€™s parliament debates new abortion bans.
- World Rhino Day â€" hereâ€™s looking at you!
BAHAMAS TAX HAVEN LEAKS REVEALED
Five months after the Panama Papers leaks, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has revealed a list of directors of 175,000 Bahamas offshore firms, which included the European Commissionâ€™s former antitrust chief Neelie Kroes and UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd. More from The Guardian.
SECOND NIGHT OF CHARLOTTE RIOTS
The governor of North Carolina declared a state of emergency after clashes with police erupted for a second night in Charlotte, with one protester was critically injured. CNN reports that the person is in critical condition and on life support. One police officer was transported to the hospital, but the severity of his injuries is currently unknown. The protests come in the wake of the fatal shooting of a black man by a police officer on Tuesday.
â€" ON THIS DAY
From Haiti to Switzerland, hereâ€™s your 57-second shot of history.
LANDSLIDES, FLOODS LEAVE 26 DEAD IN INDONESIA
At least 26 people died and 19 are still missing after torrential rain and fast-rising floods swept through West Java, Indonesia, the Times of India reports. According to the national disaster agency, more than a dozen children below the age of 12 have lost their lives, and many are yet to be formally identified.
43 DEAD AFTER MIGRANT BOAT CAPSIZES OFF EGYPT
At least 43 people died after a boat carrying some 600 Egyptian, Syrian and African migrants capsized off the coast of Egypt. Another 154 people have been rescued so far. More 300,000 refugees and migrants have made the Mediterranean sea crossing so far this year, the UN Refugee Agency reported Tuesday.
Two months after the coup attempt in Turkey, questions linger: Writing for asks for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet, AydÄ±n Engin asks: Who knew what, and when? â€œPresident Erdogan, as if he is mocking us all, later says that he heard of the coup attempt from his brother-in-law. If he was hearing about the coup from his brother-in-law, six or eight hours after the intelligence had reached to the officials, then the responsible parties should be at the at the center of this coup. â€¦ The strange nature of all these facts are apparent to everybody; but each of these people â€" from those who transmitted the intelligence, to the president and prime minister, to those who went to the wedding, to politicians and high officials with or without uniform whose whereabouts or what they were doing during that six (or four) hours is yet unknown â€" all still have their positions.â€
Read the full article, Turkeyâ€™s Failed Coup, Why The Official Line Doesnâ€™â€‹t Add Up.
MARKETS REACT TO FEDâ€™S DECISION
World shares and bonds rallied this morning, after the Federal Reserve decided not to increase its interest rates. This is how Reuters put it: â€œSoothing Fed gives stocks their mojo.â€
IS APPLE BUYING F1 MCLAREN GROUP?
"We can confirm that McLaren is not in discussion with Apple in respect of any potential investment,â€ McLaren spokesman said yesterday after the Financial Times reported that a potential deal would see Apple pay up to Â£1.5 billion for McLaren, the BBC reports.
â€" MY GRAND-PEREâ€™S WORLD
RIP Valley Of Tombs â€" Palmyra, 1996
MORE STORIES, EXCLUSIVELY IN ENGLISH BY WORLDCRUNCH
- Legal Services Go â€œUberâ€ In France â€" Les Echos
- Germanyâ€™s "Remote-Control" Terror Attacks, Online Chats Revealed â€" Süddeutsche Zeitung
- Egyptian Women Kickstart Taekwondo Training After Olympic Win â€" Mada Masr
BONDS, JAMES BONDS
MI6, the British Secret Intelligence Service of James Bond fame, is expected to hire about 40% more employees by 2020, according to the BBC quoting government sources â€" bumping the number of people working for the spy agency to a little under 3,500. Get those martinis shaking.
With Halloween arriving, we have dug up the would-be ghosts of documented evil and bloodshed from the past.
When Hallows Eve was first introduced as a Celtic festival some 2,000 years ago, bonfires and costumes were seen as a legitimate way to ward off ghosts and evil spirits. Today of course, with science and logic being real ghostbusters, spine-chilling tales of haunted forests, abandoned asylums and deserted graveyards have rather become a way to add some mystery and suspense to our lives.
And yet there are still spooky places around the world that have something more than legend attached to them. From Spain to Uzbekistan and Australia, these locations prove that haunting lore is sometimes rooted in very real, and often terrible events.
Shahr-e Gholghola, City of Screams - Afghanistan
The ruins of Shahr-e Gholghola, the City of Screams, in Afghanistan
According to locals, ghosts from this ancient royal citadel located in the Valley of Bamyan, 150 miles northwest of Kabul, have been screaming for 800 years. You can hear them from miles away, at twilight, when they relive their massacre.
In the spring 1221, the fortress built by Buddhist Ghorids in the 6th century became the theater of the final battle between Jalal ad-Din Mingburnu, last ruler of the Khwarezmian Empire, and the Mongol Horde led by Genghis Khan. It is said that Khan's beloved grandson, Mutakhan, had been killed on his mission to sack Bamyan. To avenge him, the Mongol leader went himself and ordered to kill every living creature in the city, children included.
The ruins today bear the name of Shahr-e Gholghola, meaning City of Screams or City of Sorrows. The archeological site, rich in Afghan history, is open to the public and though its remaining walls stay quiet during the day, locals say that the night brings the echoes of fear and agony. Others claim the place comes back to life eight centuries ago, and one can hear the bustle of the city and people calling each other.
Gettysburg, Civil War battlefield - U.S.
View of the battlefields from Little Round Top, Gettysburg, PA, USA
Even ghosts non-believers agree there is something eerie about Gettysbury. The city in the state of Pennsylvania is now one of the most popular destinations in the U.S. for spirits and paranormal activities sight-seeing; and many visitors report they witness exactly what they came for: sounds of drums and gunshots, spooky encounters and camera malfunctions in one specific spot… just to name a few!
The Battle of Gettysburg, for which President Abraham Lincoln wrote his best known public address, is considered a turning point in the Civil War that led to the Union's victory. It lasted three days, from July 1st to July 3rd, 1863, but it accounts for the worst casualties of the entire conflict, with 23,000 on the Union side (3,100 men killed) and 28,000 for the Confederates (including 3,900 deaths). Thousands of soldiers were buried on the battlefield in mass graves - without proper rites, legend says - before being relocated to the National Military Park Cemetery for the Unionists.
Since then, legend has it, their restless souls wander, unaware the war has ended. You can find them everywhere, on the battlefield or in the town's preserved Inns and hotels turned into field hospitals back then.
Belchite, Civil War massacre - Spain
Old Belchite, Spain
Shy lost souls wandering and briefly appearing in front of visitors, unexplainable forces attracting some to specific places of the town, recorded noises of planes, gunshots and bombs, like forever echoes of a drama which left an open wound in Spanish history…
That wound, still unhealed, is the Spanish Civil War; and at its height in 1937, Belchite village, located in the Zaragoza Province in the northeast of Spain, represented a strategic objective of the Republican forces to take over the nearby capital city of Zaragoza.
Instead of being a simple step in their operation, it became the field of an intense battle opposing the loyalist army and that of General Francisco Franco's. Between August 24 and September 6, more than 5,000 people were killed, including half of Belchite's population. The town was left in rubble. As a way to illustrate the Republicans' violence, Franco decided to leave the old town in ruins and build a new Belchite nearby. All the survivors were relocated there, but they had to wait 15 years for it to be complete.
If nothing particular happens in new Belchite, home to around 1,500 residents, the remains of old Belchite offer their share of chilling ghost stories. Some visitors say they felt a presence, someone watching them, sudden change of temperatures and strange sounds. The ruins of the old village have been used as a film set for Terry Gilliam's The Adventures of Baron Munchausen - with the crew reporting the apparition of two women dressed in period costumes - and Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth. And in October 1986, members of the television program "Cuarta Dimensión" (the 4th dimension) spent a night in Belchite and came back with some spooky recordings of war sounds.
Gur Emir, a conquerer’s mausoleum - Uzbekistan
Gur Emir (Tomb of Timur) in Samarkand, Uzbekistan
The news echoed through the streets and bazaars of Samarkand: "The Russian expedition will open the tomb of Tamerlane the Great. It will be our curse!" It was June 1941, and a small team of Soviet researchers began excavations in the Gur-Emir mausoleum in southeastern Uzbekistan.
The aim was to prove that the remains in the tomb did in fact belong to Tamerlane — the infamous 14th-century conqueror and first ruler of the Timurid dynasty who some historians say massacred 1% of the world's population in 1360.
Still, on June 20, despite protests from local residents and Muslim clergy, Tamerlame's tomb was cracked open — marked with the inscription: "When I Rise From the Dead, The World Shall Tremble."
Only two days later, Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union, with the people of Samarkand linking it to the disturbing of Tamerlane's peace. Amid local protests, the excavation was immediately wrapped up and the remains of the Turkish/Mongol conqueror were sent to Moscow. The turning point in the war came with the victory in the Battle of Stalingrad — only a month after a superstitious Stalin ordered the return of Tamerlane's remains to Samarkand where the former emperor was re-buried with full honors.
Gamla Stan, a royal massacre - Sweden
The red house of Gamla Stan, Stockholm, Sweden
After Danish King Kristian II successfully invaded Sweden and was anointed King in November 1520, the new ruler called Swedish leaders to join for festivities at the royal palace in Stockholm. At dusk, after three days of wine, beer and spectacles, Danish soldiers carrying lanterns and torches entered the great hall and imprisoned the gathered nobles who were considered potential opponents of the Danish king. In the days that followed, 92 people were swiftly sentenced to death, and either hanged or beheaded on Stortorget, the main square in Gamla Stan (Old Town).
Until this day, the Stockholm Bloodbath is considered one of the most brutal events in Scandinavian history, and some people have reported visions of blood flowing across the cobblestoned square in early November. A little over a century later, a red house on the square was rebuilt as a monument for the executed — fitted with 92 white stones for each slain man. Legend has it that should one of the stones be removed, the ghost of the represented will rise from the dead and haunt the streets of Stockholm for all eternity.
Port Arthur, gruesome prison - Australia
Port Arthur Prison Settlement, Tasmania, Australia
During its 47-year history as a penal settlement, Port Arthur in southern Tasmania earned a reputation as one of the most notorious prisons in the British Empire. The institution — known for a brutal slavery system and punishment of the most hardened criminals sent from the motherland— claimed the lives of more than 1,000 inmates until its closure in 1877.
Since then, documented stories have spanned the paranormal gamut: poltergeist prisoners terrorizing visitors, weeping children roaming the port and tourists running into a weeping 'lady in blue' (apparently the spirit of a woman who died in childbirth). The museum even has an 'incidence form' ready for anyone wanting to report an otherworldly event.
Poveglia Island, plague victims - Italy
Poveglia Island, Italy
Located off the coast of Venice and Lido, Poveglia sadly reunites all the classical elements of a horror movie: plagues, mass burial ground and mental institute (from the 1920's).
During the bubonic plague and other subsequent pandemics, the island served as a quarantine station for the sick and anyone showing any signs of what could be Black Death contamination. Some 160,000 victims are thought to have died there and the seven acres of land became a mass burial ground so full that it is said that human ash makes up more than 50% of Poveglia's soil.
In 1922 a retirement home for the elderly — used as a clandestine mental institution— opened on the island and with it a fair amount of rumors involving torture of patients. The hospital and consequently the whole island was closed in 1968, leaving all the dead trapped off-land.
Poveglia's terrifying past earned it the nickname of 'Island of Ghosts'. Despite being strictly off-limits to visitors, the site has been attracting paranormal activity hunters looking for the apparition of lost and angry souls. The island would be so evil that some locals say that when an evil person dies, he wakes up in Poveglia, another kind of hell.
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