Welcome to Wednesday, where Derek Chauvin is convicted for murdering George Floyd, India faces a COVID "storm" and a French town finds not one but two gold treasures. We also look at how Russia is building diplomatic relationships with Pakistan just as U.S. troops are about to leave Afghanistan.
• Chauvin found guilty of Floyd's murder: Ex-police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted on all counts over George Floyd's death, including second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter. He faces decades in jail. As crowds around the U.S. celebrated, U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were among those reacting to the verdict, urging further progress on racial justice.
• Navalny's allies arrested: Two of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny's closest friends have been arrested as Russian President Vladimir Putin is giving his annual state of the nation address. Mass protests are planned to take place throughout the world in support of the jailed Kremlin critic.
• UN seeks proof that Princess Latifa is alive: The United Nations has asked the United Arab Emirates to provide "concrete" signs of life of Princess Latifa, who has been held in detention for over three years and made a recent hidden video appeal that was broadcast by the BBC.
• TikTok sued over its use of children's data: Chinese app and social media Tik Tok is facing legal challenges in the UK over how it collects and uses children's data.
• Six English clubs to withdraw from Super League: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City and Tottenham have withdrawn from the controversial European Super League after furious backlash from fans and the UK government.
• "Joints for Jabs': American marijuana activists promoted vaccines during the informal April 20 pot holiday — also known as 4/20 — giving free weed to anyone who had been inoculated, in Washington D.C.
Minneapolis-based daily Star Tribune reports on the verdict in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, who was found guilty of murdering George Floyd after a video captured Chauvin kneeling on the victim's throat for more than nine minutes. The killing set off a national and international wave of Black Lives Matter protests.
Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan: perils of a diplomatic triangle
Russia's foreign minister visited Pakistan for the first time in nine years — just in time for the deadline for U.S. troops to leave Afghanistan. It points to an important change of actors in one of the deadliest conflict zones in the world, writes Anna Akage for Worldcrunch.
On April 6, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov arrived in Pakistan to lead conversations on Afghan peace, military supplies and cooperation in the nuclear sector. It was the first visit by a Russian official to the country since 2012. "We can confirm that Russia is willing to continue to assist in strengthening the anti-terrorist potential of Pakistan, including supplying them with appropriate equipment," Lavrov said at a press conference, as Russian daily Kommersant reports.
Lavrov's counterpart, Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, described Russia as a stabilizing presence at both regional and international levels. These two foreign ministers agreed to assist Afghanistan in its fight against internal terror factions. Their motivation is simple: The increasing influence of terrorists in both northern and eastern Afghanistan is a matter of significant concern to both countries.
This is not the first time that, after numerous political and military failures on the part of the U.S. government, Russia has stepped in to both offer a helping hand and strengthen relationships. For the first time since 2001, Pakistan is not a foreign-policy priority for the new U.S. administration. For over two decades, Pakistan has been a focus of the War on Terror — but not this year. Biden's administration will be focused on managing its relationships with great powers like China and dealing with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, including its subsequent economic challenges. And when the Americans leave, the Russians arrive.
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Town hall staff finds treasure in old French house … twice
Working at the town hall in Morez, we imagine, must be a busy yet somewhat uneventful affair: There's roadworks on the main rue de la République to take care of, planning for the reopening of the Eyewear Museum — and perhaps most stressful, worrying about budget and spending for this village of 4,800 nestled in the peaceful Jura mountains.
So imagine Mayor Laurent Petit's surprise (and delight) when his staff struck actual gold, not once, but twice in a matter of months … Money "almost heaven-sent," the mayor told France Bleu radio station: After discovering 500,000 euros worth of gold coins and bars last spring, hidden in jars of jams in a decrepit house the town had purchased for a measly 130,000 euros, a safe was recently found in the very same house, at the back of an old wardrobe.
In the safe: another trove of more than 500 gold coins, estimated to be worth between 100,000 and 150,000 euros, as local paper Voix du Jura reports.
Rumors had circulated about a hidden treasure in the three-story house in the town center, which belonged to a long line of eyewear and clock merchants. But when the last owner died last year in his 90s, the person who inherited the place chose to sell it to the town hall rather than having to deal with generations-worth of "junk."
As Mayor Petit told France 3 Regions, "the town's budget is only 6 million euros, so that'll do us good, for sure."
➡️ Keep up with all the planet's police reports and plot twists on Worldcrunch.com
In 2020, 483 executions were reported worldwide, a decrease of 26% compared with the year before, according to Amnesty International's annual global report on death sentences and executions. The global total is the lowest in a decade, but doesn't include China, which keeps its data secret. Iran, Egypt, Iraq and Saudi Arabia account for 88% of the reported 483 executions, with a worrying rise of 300% in Egypt in just one year.
The second wave of infections has come like a storm.
— India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a TV address, urging citizens to keep calm and stay indoors as the country faces a massive surge in COVID-19 cases and risks of shortages of hospital beds, oxygen and antiviral drugs.
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