SPOTLIGHT: COLOMBIA, NOW TO THE PEOPLE

When Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos signed an agreement yesterday with top rebel FARC commander Rodrigo "Timochenko" Londoño, the pair used pens made from the casings of bullets. It was a powerful piece of symbolism as the last major war in the Americas appeared to draw to a close.


But it's not over just yet. In a referendum on Sunday, ordinary Colombians will have the last word to decide the fate of a deal that could end a five-decade conflict that has claimed hundreds of thousands of their friends and family members.


In a Spanish-language opinion piece for El Espectador newspaper, translated exclusively into English by Worldcrunch, writer Cristina de la Torre notes that the deal between the communist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and the government, is needed for more than just peace: It's needed to change the culture of violence that decades of war has woven into the fabric of Colombian society.


"Colombia has had an ‘anything goes' mentality where there's amorality, violence in personal relations, veneration of a militaristic state, and celebration of paramilitaries and guerrillas. In this society, vindictive speech and deceit are the daily currency of political debate, and double standards are a virtue," she writes.


De la Torre says that a "yes" ballot in the coming referendum is the perfect way to turn the page. Just as bullet casings were turned into pens, the votes of citizens can bury a half-century of violence.



WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY

  • Cedar Rapids, Iowa, braces for what is expected to be the second-worst flooding in its history.
  • It's World Tourism Day. Get packing!




CLINTON PUTS TRUMP ON DEFENSIVE IN FIRST DEBATE

Most pundits agreed that Hillary Clinton scored a solid victory over Donald Trump in the highly anticipated first debate in the 2016 U.S. general election. Here is a expand=1] quick video recap of Monday night's debate, which included questions about Trump's tax returns, Clinton's flip-flop on trade deals, questions of "stamina" and "temperament, and a closing Clinton takedown of Trump for having once called a former Venezuelan beauty pageant contestant "Miss Piggy" and "Miss Housekeeper." But more important than national pundits may be local voters in Pennsylvania, a key swing state. See how the Philadelphia Inquirer covered the debate.


— ON THIS DAY

Good trivia for quiz night: Today's 57-second shot of history contains the shortest papacy in history.


BAGHDAD ATTACK KILLS 9

A suicide bomber wearing an explosive-laden vest blew himself up this morning in a busy commercial area in the east of Iraq's capital, killing at least nine people and wounding dozens, AP reports. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack yet.


TYPHOON POUNDS TAIWAN

Typhoon Megi has slammed into the coast of northeast Taiwan, delaying flights and disrupting public transportation, the China Post reports. It's the third severe storm to make landfall on the island in two weeks.


— WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

British rocker Pete Doherty is signed up for a November gig at the Bataclan, though other artists have opted out of playing in the venue where terrorists killed 90 people last year. From Paris, Léna Lutaud writes for French daily Le Figaro: "Jules Frutos, one of the Bataclan's managers, says he's facing difficulties he had not foreseen. For the upcoming winter and spring season, only 15 artists, most of them British, will perform. ‘I think that I overestimated the artistic demand,' says Frutos, saying that he assumed that a call from him or the other manager of the Bataclan, Olivier Poubelle, would be enough to convince artists to perform at the venue. ‘But I was wrong.'

The reluctance of technicians and production crews has been another obstacle. ‘The murder of a dozen colleagues that everyone knew was a traumatic experience,' says Pierre-Alexandre Vertadier, the chief executive of Decibel Productions."

Read the full article, The Bataclan, Aching To Rock "n" Roll Again After Paris Attack.


DRESDEN EXPLOSIONS

A mosque and a conference center were targeted in two separate explosions late Monday in the eastern German city of Dresden, Deutsche Welle reports. The bombings left no injuries, and came just after an anti-Islam and anti-immigrant PEGIDA demonstration took place in the city.


FORMER MINISTER ARRESTED IN SCANDAL

Brazil's former Finance Minister Antonio Palocci was arrested yesterday in connection with the country's long-running corruption scheme at oil giant Petrobras, Folha de S. Paulo reports. Palocci served as finance minister under President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who will also face trial over the Petrobras scandal, and as chief of staff under his successor, President Dilma Ms Rousseff, who was impeached last month for violating budget laws.


— MY GRAND-PERE'S WORLD

Sturdy Sentinel — Saksaywaman, 1996


ALEPPO AIRSTRIKE

The death toll of airstrikes on the eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo has risen to at least 26 civilians, including six children, UK-based monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said this morning. Though it's unclear who is behind the attacks, CNN writes that the opposition and the U.S. have blamed such shellings on the Syrian regime and Russian warplanes since a ceasefire was agreed upon earlier this month.


WATER NEAR JUPITER, LIFE ON MARS

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope may have spotted "water vapor plumes" erupting off the surface of Jupiter's moon Europa. In other news from the sky, Elon Musk is expected to livestream a speech outlining his ideas for how to establish a livable city on Mars within the next 10 years.


"GODFATHER OF GORE" DIES

Pittsburgh-born horror movie pioneer Herschell Gordon Lewis, whose taste for blood and violence in low-budget films like The Gruesome Twosome, Blood Feast or Two Thousand Maniacs earned him the nickname "godfather of gore," has died in his sleep at his home in Pompano Beach, Florida. He was 87.


MORE STORIES, EXCLUSIVELY IN ENGLISH BY WORLDCRUNCH

WELCOME TO KIDNEYWORLD

A urologist and professor emeritus at Michigan State has demonstrated that going on rollercoasters could help people pass kidney stones.

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Pro-life and Pro-abortion Rights Protests in Washington

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Håfa adai!*

Welcome to Thursday, where new Omicron findings arrive from South Africa, abortion rights are at risk at the U.S. Supreme Court and Tyrannosaurus rex has got some new competition. From Germany, we share the story of a landmark pharmacy turned sex toy museum.

[*Chamorro - Guam]

​✅ SIGN UP

This is our daily newsletter Worldcrunch Today, a rapid tour of the news of the day from the world's best journalism sources, regardless of language or geography.

It's easy (and free!) to sign up to receive it each day in your inbox: 👉 Sign up here

🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• COVID update: South Africa reports a higher rate of reinfections from the Omicron variant than has been registered with the Beta and Delta variants, though researchers await further findings on the effects of the new strain. Meanwhile, the UK approves the use of a monoclonal therapy, known as sotrovimab, to treat those at high risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms.The approval comes as the British pharmaceutical company, GSK, separately announced the treatment has shown to “retain activity” against the Omicron variant. Down under, New Zealand’s reopening, slated for tomorrow is being criticized as posing risks to its under-vaccinated indigenous Maori.

• Supreme Court poised to gut abortion rights: The U.S. Supreme Court signaled a willingness to accept a Republican-backed Mississippi law that would bar abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, even in cases of rape or incest. A ruling, expected in June, may see millions of women lose abortion access, 50 years after it was recognized as a constitutional right in the landmark Roe v. Wade case.

• Macri charged in Argentine spying case: Argentina’s former president Mauricio Macri has been charged with ordering the secret services to spy on the family members of 44 sailors who died in a navy submarine sinking in 2017. The charge carries a sentence of three to ten years in prison. Macri, now an opposition leader, says the charges are politically motivated.

• WTA suspends China tournaments over Peng Shuai: The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) announced the immediate suspension of all tournaments in China due to concerns about the well-being of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai, and the safety of other players. Peng disappeared from public view after accusing a top Chinese official of sexual assault.

• Michigan school shooting suspect to be charged as an adult: The 15-year-old student accused of killing four of his classmates and wounding seven other people in a Michigan High School will face charges of terrorism and first-degree murder. Authorities say the suspect had described wanting to attack the school in cellphone videos and a journal.

• Turkey replaces finance minister amid economic turmoil: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan appointed a strong supporter of his low-interest rate drive, Nureddin Nebati, as Turkey’s new finance minister.

• A battle axe for a tail: Chilean researchers announced the discovery of a newly identified dinosaur species with a completely unique feature from any other creatures that lived at that time: a flat, weaponized tail resembling a battle axe.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

South Korean daily Joong-ang Ilbo reports on the discovery of five Omicron cases in South Korea. The Asian nation has broken its daily record for overall coronavirus infections for a second day in a row with more than 5,200 new cases. The variant cases were linked to arrivals from Nigeria and prompted the government to tighten border controls.


#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

¥10,000

In the northeastern Chinese city of Harbin, a reward of 10,000 yuan ($1,570) will be given to anyone who volunteers to take a COVID-19 test and get a positive result, local authorities announced on Thursday on the social network app WeChat.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

Why an iconic pharmacy is turning into a sex toy museum

The "New Pharmacy" was famous throughout the St. Pauli district of Hamburg for its history and its long-serving owner. Now the owner’s daughter is transforming it into a museum dedicated to the history of sex toys, linking it with the past "curing" purpose of the shop, reports Eva Eusterhus in German daily Die Welt.

💊 The story begins in autumn 2018, when 83-year-old Regis Genger stood at the counter of her pharmacy and realized that the time had come for her to retire. At least that is the first thing her daughter Anna Genger tells us when we meet, describing the turning point that has also shaped her life and that of her business partner Bianca Müllner. The two women want to create something new here, something that reflects the pharmacy's history and Hamburg's eclectic St. Pauli quarter (it houses both a red light district and the iconic Reeperbahn entertainment area) as well as their own interests.

🚨 Over the last few months, the pharmacy has been transformed into L'Apotheque, a venture that brings together art and business in St. Pauli's red light district. The back rooms will be used for art exhibitions, while the old pharmacy space will house a museum dedicated to the history of sex toys. Genger and Müllner want to show that desire has always existed and that people have always found inventive ways of maximizing pleasure, even in times when self-gratification was seen as unnatural and immoral, as a cause of deformities.

🏩 Genger and Müllner want the museum to show how the history of desire has changed over time. The art exhibitions, which will also center on the themes of physicality and sexuality, are intended to complement the exhibits. They are planning to put on window displays to give passers-by a taste of what is to come, for example, British artist Bronwen Parker-Rhodes's film Lovers, which offers a portrait of sex workers during lockdown.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

"I would never point a gun at anyone and pull a trigger at them. Never."

— U.S. actor Alec Baldwin spoke to ABC News, his first interview since the accident that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the movie Rust last October. The actor said that although he was holding the gun he didn’t pull the trigger, adding that the bullet “wasn't even supposed to be on the property.”

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet and Jane Herbelin

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