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Seven Wacky (And Boozy) Races Around The World

Alcohol, food, costumes and ... wife carrying? Around the world, people have imbued weirdness and fun into the very serious sporting events that are marathons and races. Follow us in exploring the silliest ones out there.

Long distance running is an athletic feat that many associate with months of hard training, muscle strains and unbelievable breath control work. Running a marathon is no joke — except when it is.

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Around the world, lovers of athleticism have found ways to turn the sport of racing into a fun, and often outright weird, event. Sometimes it's about costumes, other times its about putting a twist on cultural traditions, and a lot of the time it's about alcohol.

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Caça Fantasmas: Brazil's Hi-Tech Ghost Hunters Turn Catholic Mysticism Inside Out

The rise in popular culture of ghost hunting has had a big but strange effect in Brazil. YouTubers and bloggers aim to create a bridge between Brazilian popular spiritism and American ghost-hunting.

Ghost hunting has become a popular activity around the world recently, riding the wave of successful TV shows like Ghost Hunters

Despite the lack of any conclusive evidence of the existence of ghosts, even after years of high-tech searching, many still find it an immersive and meaningful pastime — having helped launch crowded conventions of enthusiasts and specialty stores offering equipment and kits to go searching for ghosts.

In Brazil, this new popularity fits into a broader historic investigation and explanation of the apparent supernatural from the domain of religions — though it is increasingly focused on high-tech gear and the hope of achieving internet fame and glory.

On YouTube, two Brazilian channels stand out: Rosa Jaques and João Tocchetto, a pair from Rio Grande do Sul calling themselves the “Caça-Fantasmas Brasil” (Ghost-Hunters Brazil), and a group from Guaratinguetá (SP), called the “KBC Caçadores de Fantasmas” (KBC Ghost-Hunters).

Jaques and Tocchetto have been working together since the 1990s, and their YouTube channel dates back to 2008, with around 390,000 subscribers. Their work can be considered a bridge between Brazilian popular spiritism – which mixes the spiritist doctrine itself with Afro-Brazilian systems, Catholic mysticism and folkloric superstitions – and the American style of ghost-hunting.

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Holy Mess! Spain's Disfigured Christ Mural Remains A Hit With Tourists

The clumsy restoration of a mural of Christ in a Spanish chapel 10 years ago shocked, then amused Spaniards and millions more abroad, and gave the local town a level of publicity, and tourist revenues, it never had nor could have hoped for. Here's how it looks 10 years later.

BORJA — Among the countless pictures and images of Christ around the world, it might not be outlandish to imagine that one of them might seek revenge — using humidity as the instrument of its vengeance.

One might say this of a by-now notorious mural of Christ inside a chapel in Borja in the province of Aragón, northern Spain.

Painted in 1930 by a painter and academic, the image was smothered in 2012 by Cecilia Giménez Zueca, a local resident and amateur painter. She wanted to help no doubt, but her "unfinished" restoration turned a venerable image of the suffering Christ — an Ecce Homo — into a bloated, indefinable cartoon.

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The "Golden Owl," France's Enigmatic Treasure Hunt Still Unsolved 30 Years Later

For nearly 30 years, this treasure hunt has brought together tens of thousands of players in a frantic quest involving wild excavations, low blows and even lawsuits. Based on mysterious clues from a book, this treasure hunt has turned into a flourishing business, while keeping thousands of hunters hooked over decades.

PARIS — Philippe Portier lives a double life. The lawyer, who for 18 years was managing partner of Jeantet, one of Paris’ oldest and most renowned business firms, travels the world for his clients. And when he has some time to spare, he searches for the golden owl.

When the corporate finance and M&A specialist talks about this treasure, his eyes sparkle.

“Each enigma contains a cryptogram and a visual. There are eleven, but we now know that a twelfth is hidden in the previous ones. It might be a meta-riddle, the one that gives the final solution,” he says. He produces an annotated book, scribbled with clues and calculations: “On the trail of the golden owl.”

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Why These 7 Eternal Flames Around The World Keep On Burning

The president of Turkmenistan announced plans this year to extinguish the country's famous "Gates of Hell" gas crater. But it's by no means the only one of its kind. We rounded up the eternal flames still burning in all corners of the globe.

On Jan. 8, Turkmenistan’s leader Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, known for his authoritarian tendencies, announced on television that he had set his sights on the Darvaza Gas Crater, also known as the “Gates of Hell”, a mysterious vat of flames that has been spewing fire for over 50 years in the Karakum Desert.

The burning crater is one of the central Asian country’s few tourist attractions, yet President Berdymukhamedov has ordered it extinguished once and for all, saying the methane-belching pit was bad for the environment and locals’ health, while also representing a lost opportunity for the impoverished nation to capture marketable gas.

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Green Gold: Avocado Delivery Gets Mexican Police Escort

With Mexico's prized cash crop increasingly targeted by criminal networks, local police have begun to provide protection for those delivering them to wholesalers and markets. Prices have risen more than 200% in the past two months.

URUAPAN — Avocados have become one of the world's most prized cash crops. The market is booming in particular for producers and distributors across certain regions of Mexico, its country of origin that still accounts for more than 30% of global production. But the agricultural source of pride and wealth for Mexicans has also begun to entice its ever hungry criminals looking to dip into the action.

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The Barber Of Amsterdam? Dutch Culture Sector's Hair-Razing COVID Protest

Theaters, museums and cinemas welcomed "essential services" on their stage floors to make a point about the industry's struggles during the latest COVID lockdown.

It’s an unusual sight even in these unusual times: in the Royal Concertgebouw, Amsterdam's prestigious concert hall, a man sits on stage getting his hair cut. Behind him, an orchestra plays Charles Ives' Symphony no. 2. In front of him, dozens of people are watching — both the orchestra, and to see when it's their turn for the next haircut.

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Italy's High Court: Loud Toilet Flush Is Violation Of Human Rights

A not-so-neighborly Italian saga that extends from the porcelain depths of our most basic needs to the altar of European justice.

An Italian couple has won a two-decade-long court battle that invoked an international treaty signed after World War II in order to prove the acceptable volume of a toilet flush.

The ordeal started as a typical neighborhood quarrel, yet spanned nearly two decades and eventually made its way up to Italy's Highest Court this week, Rome daily La Repubblica reports.

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A Weird 2021 : Our Favorite "What The World" Stories

Tales of odds and ends from deep inside the world's newspapers....

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Rozena Crossman

French Antique Tale: A Father’s Christmas Gift From 1946 Cycles Back To Owner

Not your average case of lost and found.

Joseph Carayon was ten years old in 1946, living in the small southern French town of Abeilhan, when his father gave him a bicycle for Christmas. As a newly freed prisoner of war, the father had cobbled the bike together from spare parts, making for a particularly special Christmas gift.

But when he came of age, Joseph began riding a moped and lent the bike to a friend, and never saw it again. Until a brocanteur — a French antiques dealer — regifted the long-lost vehicle to Joseph a month ago.

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Laure Gautherin

Public Sector Trolls? 7 "Institutional" Social Media Accounts That Let It Rip

The Ukraine government’s official Twitter account is using memes and GIFs to poke Moscow and draw attention to the risk of a Russian invasion. It is one of just a few institutional accounts that has decided not to be careful

From good humor to hate speech, you can find just about anything on social media. And it’s not just entertainers, or the anonymously angry: Our would-be public servants of the world have long since jumped into the fray, with provocateur presidents from Donald Trump to Jair Bolsonaro to Rodrigo Duterte.

But Twitter and Facebook and Instagram are also full of plenty of painfully careful (though sometimes very useful) accounts of public institutions, from offices of the prime minister to national weather services to local police stations.

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