The Latest: Wildfires Turn Deadly, Cuomo’s Out, Messi Landing In Paris

Welcome to Wednesday, where wildfires turn deadly in Algeria, New York state will have its first ever woman governor and there's a Messi landing in Paris. We also have Livy Bereg's report from the "Zone" around Chernobyl, as Ukraine looks to revitalize the areas contaminated 35 years ago by the worst nuclear accident in history.

The Latest: Wildfires Turn Deadly, Cuomo’s Out, Messi Landing In Paris

Argentinian soccer player Lionel Messi waves to Paris Saint-Germain soccer fans after having reached an agreement to join the Paris-Saint Germain team. Messi, considered by most to be among the top three greatest players ever, signed a two-year contract to play for the French club after leaving his lifelong club Barcelona.


Dozens killed in Algeria wildfires: While wildfires have been particularly widespread around the world this summer, blazes in Algeria have killed at least 65 people, including 25 soldiers who tried to save residents from the flames ripping through mountain forests and villages east of the capital, Algiers. Interior Minister Kamel Beldjoud has blamed arsonists.

Mexican president vows to protect journalist: President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has publicly defended prominent TV news anchor, Azucena Uresti, after she received a death threat from a powerful drug cartel. In a video message delivered by the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, a masked man surrounded by gunmen accused Uresti of bias coverage in favor of so-called self-defense groups battling with the cartel in the state of Michoacan. López Obrador has guaranteed special government protection for the Milenio media star.

New York governor to step down: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation on Tuesday following an inquiry that found he sexually harassed 11 women. Mr. Cuomo said his resignation would take effect in 14 days while Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will be sworn in to replace him, becoming the first woman in history to occupy New York State's top office.

China sentences Canadian businessman to 11 years: A Chinese court has sentenced Beijing-based Canadian businessman Michael Spavor to 11 years in prison for espionage. Spavor, who regularly traveled to North Korea, was first detained in December 2018 alongside Canadian Michael Kovrig for illegally providing state secrets to foreign countries. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the verdict 'absolutely unacceptable,' as tensions continue between the countries since the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver in December 2018.

Ethiopian forces accused of systematic rape: A damning Amnesty report provides detailed accounts of Ethiopian government forces systematically raping and abusing hundreds of women and girls in the current conflict in Tigray. The report comes as Ethiopia's government this week called on all capable citizens to join the military to stop resurgent forces from the Tigray region.

North Korea warns of escalating tensions over US-Seoul drills: North Korea says the U.S. and South Korea risk a serious security crisis by conducting joint military drills. Kim Yong Chol, a general and politician who played a leading role during historic summits between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and former U.S. President Donald Trump, said Seoul must be made to "clearly understand how dearly they have to pay" for choosing their alliance with Washington.

Meatball-scented candles, to Americans: Ikea is offering meatball-scented candles as a prize in a sweepstakes event celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the free loyalty program in the U.S. The company says 1,925 lucky winners will get to claim a meatball candle in an event that runs through August 22. The furniture giant notes it doesn't plan to offer the prize in its native Sweden.


The daily newspaper Times Union, headquartered in Albany, the capital of New York state, reports on NY Governor Andrew Cuomo's resignation announcement, which comes on the heels of several sexual harassment accusations.

Destination Chernobyl? Radioactivity, Jobs And Tourism

It's been 35 years since the world's worst nuclear accident. Ukraininan news site Livy Bereg revisits what is perhaps the best-known — and certainly, the most dangerous — place in Ukraine, referred to as the "Chernobyl Exclusion Zone," which both local and national leaders are looking to revitalize for the good of locals, as well as touristic and scientific endeavors:

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky is promising major changes to the site of the worst civilian nuclear disaster in history. People who'd returned to their native villages after being forcibly evicted in the aftermath of the 1986 accident still live there. But life has been troubled in these specially designated towns and communities: contaminated areas are often located alongside their vegetable gardens, new infrastructure cannot be built, and there is virtually no work.

In the community of Naroditsy, there are 10,000 hectares of wasted land. But they grow crops on some of them, which is both illegal and unhealthy. According to the State Environmental Inspection, 5,000 hectares of contaminated land are being used to plant crops in the Zhytomyr region alone.

Olga Vasilevskaya-Smaglyuk, a member of Parliament, says changes and new building permits are needed for local communities to survive. "We need tourism and economic development. Tourists who go to the Chernobyl zone should have a place to eat or fill up their cars," she said.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


96,000

International seafood company Grieg Seafood accidently leaked nearly 4,000 gallons of chlorine into a northern Norway fjord, killing approximately 96,000 farmed salmon. The chlorine, which the company uses to disinfect processing water at its harvesting plant, has already flowed into the Atlantic Ocean, according to local police.


It would be very ill-advised for Prince Andrew to ignore judicial process

— David Boies, the attorney representing Virginia Giuffre, said he and his client have tried everything they can to resolve the matter. Giuffre brought a lawsuit against Prince Andrew on Tuesday, accusing him of sexually abusing her when she was 17. Giuffre says she was compelled by multiple sex offender Jeffrey Epstein to engage in sexual acts with the British prince. Boies said that ignoring the suit would lead to a default judgement against him, enforced not only in the U.S. "but in virtually every civilised country in the world."

Newsletter by Carl Karlsson, Alessio Perrone, Meike Eijsberg, and Genevieve Mansfield

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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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