Welcome to Tuesday, where a lone gunman kills 10 in Colorado, Israel votes (again!) and a tweet is worth $2.9 million. Italian weekly L'Espresso also helps us sort through the damage from the tons of trash Italian waste traffickers are dumping in the neighboring Balkans.
• Another Colorado mass shooting: A lone suspect has been arrested after the second U.S. mass shooting in a week, when 10 people were killed at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado. The state of Colorado has been the site of some of the worst such tragedies in the past two decades, beginning with the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School.
• Vaccine stumbles: The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine may have used "outdated information" in trials, meaning that efficacy data could be incomplete. Meanwhile, Slovakia's deal to obtain the Sputnik V vaccine has sparked a possible government crisis, as the EU has not approved the Russian-made vaccine.
• Israel national elections: Israel heads to the polls for the fourth time in two years, as embattled longtime Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hopes for a boost linked to the success of the country's vaccine rollout.
• EU sanctions China: For the first time in 30 years, the EU has agreed to sanction China for human rights abuses. China strikes back with sanctions on ten European individuals and four entities.
• Saudi Arabia-Yemen peace deal: Saudi Arabia has offered a ceasefire and the reopening of airports and seaports with Yemen.
• Bangladesh refugee camp fire: At least 15 are dead and another 400 missing after a fire breaks out in the Rohingya camp in Cox's Bazar. Roughly 50,000 people were forced to flee.
• Brick by space brick: To celebrate 40 years since the first Space Shuttle launch, Danish toy manufacturer Lego has unveiled its new 2,354-piece Space Shuttle Discovery set.
Israeli daily Haaretz displays the faces of all the candidates to the country's national election, the fourth in two years. The party of Benjamin Netanyahu, who has served as prime minister since 2009, holds a narrow edge in the polls — but it may fall short of the support required to form a ruling coalition.
Waste trafficking: a dirty Italian affair poisons the Balkans
Thousands of tons of trash are sent from Italy to Bulgaria illegally each year. Between poor controls and political complicity, wealth-hungry entrepreneurs — and the mafia — and local oligarchs earn millions as Eastern Europe turns into a rubbish dump, reports Vittorio Malagutti in Italian weekly news magazine L'Espresso.
Border checks are not the problem. As both countries are part of the European Union, goods arriving into Bulgaria from Italy enjoy minimal customs formalities. Exporting waste is based on a system of special authorizations. So, in order to evade customs, you need to simply change the transport identification codes en route. Minimal risks are accompanied by huge gains, given that the cost for disposal is much lower in Eastern Europe than it is in Italy.
In October 2020, after months of investigation, the Carabinieri (Italy's national gendarmerie) of Environmental Protection in Milan dismantled a gang of traffickers, capable of amassing over 24,000 tons of waste throughout illegal dumps in Northern Italy. Among the 16 people arrested at the request of the local Anti-Mafia Department was Antonio Foti, from Calabria, in southern Italy, who had already served jail time for his connection to the "Ndrangheta" (the Calabrian mafia) and who has invested in the "business of garbage" with his children.
The Bobokov brothers, Atanas and Plamen, two of the richest entrepreneurs in Bulgaria, have been indicted for illegal waste trafficking and built their empire between Italy and the Balkans. Their case caused a sensation in Sofia last May because of their reputation as being untouchable, thanks to their close relationships with politicians. Their empire collapsed last year when the duo ended up in jail for illegally dispersing at least 7,000 tons of various trash material, including toxic substances, throughout the country.
➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com