In The News

Taiwan Tower Blaze, Norway Bow-And-Arrow Attack, Walruses From Space

Taiwan Tower Blaze, Norway Bow-And-Arrow Attack, Walruses From Space

Five Dead In Norway Bow And Arrow Attack

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Bună ziua!*

Welcome to Thursday, where a blaze at a Taiwan tower kills at least 46, a suspect is in custody in the deadly Norway bow-and-arrow attack and scientists try to count walruses from space. We also take a look at what unites and opposes Russia's Vladimir and Ukraine's Volodymir.

[*Romanian]

🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• Taiwan tower blaze kills at least 46: A fire at a 13-floor residential and commercial tower in Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan, has killed at least 46 and injured dozens more. The cause of the blaze is still under investigation.

• Five killed in Norway bow-and-arrow attack: A man armed with a bow and arrow killed five people and injured two others in a series of attacks in the Norwegian town of Kongsberg, near Oslo. A 37-year-old Danish man, previously flagged to the police over fears of radicalization after he converted to Islam, has been apprehended and questioned overnight.

• Beirut protest turns deadly: Gunfire at a Hezbollah-led protest killed at least three in Beirut. The demonstrators were calling for the removal of the judge investigating last year's explosion at the Lebanese capital's port. Army tanks were deployed in the area.

• COVID update: New Zealand reports its biggest rise in COVID-19 cases in six weeks with all cases located in Auckland, which raises prospects of a further extension of lockdown restrictions beyond next week. Meanwhile, a group of experts is tasked with investigating how the pandemic emerged, in what WHO calls a "last chance to understand the origins of this virus."

• Kenyan world record runner stabbed to death: The 25-year-old Kenyan athlete, who broke the women-only 10,000-meter road record last month has been found stabbed to death at her home in Iten. Her husband is suspected, with police saying he has gone missing.

• Carbon emissions from rich countries rose rapidly in 2021: Emissions from the world's 20 richest countries are flaring up again this year as the global economy rebounds, according to a new study. Its authors say that the continued use of fossil fuels is undermining efforts to reverse warming temperatures. China, India, and Argentina are expected to exceed their 2019 emissions levels.

Walrus counting from space: Researchers are on the hunt for "citizen scientists" to search for walruses through satellite images, from their own computers. The project aims to give conservationists a better understanding of how global warming is affecting the species.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

Colombian daily El Espectador asks "How much longer?" after fans at a recent football match between Colombia and Brazil defied current rules about wearing face masks, which rekindled debate in the country about strict regulations regarding the use of masks to combat the spread of COVID-19.


#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

$404 million

Poland is planning to spend some 1.6 billion zlotys ($404 million) to build a border wall to prevent migrants illegally entering from Belarus, which has become a transit country for thousands from the Middle East and Africa seeking to arrive in the European Union. The conservative government approved the construction after Poland, which is part of the EU, had already started building a barbed wire fence along the border that did not manage to prevent migrants from crossing over.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

Russia and Ukraine, the meaning of a bad status quo

Despite being parties of one conflict and neighbors and comrades of the same historical events, it is now obvious that Russia and Ukraine — or at least their very different leaders, Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky — are living in opposing realities, writes Anna Akage.

🇷🇺🇺🇦 The best we can say about the recent visits of U.S. Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland to Moscow with top European officials Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel to Kyiv was that these high-level meetings ensured the status quo in the longstanding Russia-Ukraine conflict. But that is a status quo measured in dead negotiations in the Normandy Format over the simmering war on the border and the status of Crimea. It is the status quo of the shared disapproval of the situation, and the clarity of the opposing directions chosen by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky.

🤝 Moscow has achieved what it wanted: Direct negotiations with the Americans regarding Ukraine have now been resumed. Notably, the request for Nuland's meeting with his Russian counterparts came directly from Washington. It was their initiative and, as Nuland put it, the aim was to construct "stable and predictable relations."To make it possible, the Russians lifted sanctions on Nuland, just as the Americans spared a number of Russian diplomats from punitive measures. And it is the U.S., not the EU, that Putin wants to negotiate with

⏸️ Hopes and demands are what's guiding the Ukrainian president. Still Zelensky must contend with the fact that from Moscow he's seen as not a fully autonomous figure and from the European Union as a little boy who can wait.Zelensky is eager to negotiate with his Russian counterpart; he talks almost every week about the need to meet with Putin either one-on-one or in the Normandy format. But the negotiations are on hold — just as they were during the presidency of his predecessor, Petro Poroshenko.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

"I hope I never recover from this"

— Canadian actor William Shatner (a.k.a. Star Trek's Captain Kirk) tearfully described his 10-minute journey of boldly going to the edge of space and back. Aboard Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin capsule, Shatner, 90, became the oldest person to be beamed up into space.

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

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food / travel

The True Horrors Behind 7 Haunted Locations Around The World

With Halloween arriving, we have dug up the would-be ghosts of documented evil and bloodshed from the past.

Inside Poveglia Island's abandoned asylum

Laure Gautherin and Carl-Johan Karlsson

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

photo of  ruins of Shahr-e Gholghola,

The ruins of Shahr-e Gholghola, the City of Screams, in Afghanistan

Dai He/Xinhua via ZUMA Wire


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.

photo of rocks and trees in Gettysburg

View of the battlefields from Little Round Top, Gettysburg, PA, USA

Unsplash/@nemo23


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

photo of sunset of old Belchite

Old Belchite, Spain

Belchite Town Council


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

photo of Gur Emir (Tomb of Timur) i

Gur Emir (Tomb of Timur) in Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Chris Bradley/Design Pics via ZUMA Wire


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

a photo of The red house of Gamla Stan, Stockholm, Sweden

The red house of Gamla Stan, Stockholm, Sweden

Unsplash/@hkblind


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

a photo of ort Arthur Prison Settlement, Tasmania, Australia

Port Arthur Prison Settlement, Tasmania, Australia

Flickr/Eli Duke


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

a photo of Poveglia Island, Italy

Poveglia Island, Italy

Mirco Toniolo/ROPI via ZUMA Press


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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