Passersby take pictures of cherry blossoms in a park in Tokyo, Japan, where the sakura season has begun.
Passersby take pictures of cherry blossoms in a park in Tokyo, Japan, where the sakura season has begun.

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• Vaccine stumbles: The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine may have used "outdated information" in trials, meaning that efficacy data could be incomplete.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


Algerian Farmer Digs For Water, Strikes Oil

While drilling deep for water last week in his field near Ouled Rahmoune, in northeastern Algeria, a farmer was surprised to see a liquid pouring from the pipes of a very different consistency, smell, color — and worth! Oil.

What makes the discovery all the more unusual is that Algeria's most important known deposits of black gold are located in the south of the country, as ObservAlgérie writes.

It didn't take long for images of the farmer's lucky find to gush forth on social media: A video, picked up by the Arab-language news site Echorouk Online, sees the flabbergasted farmer filming the black pond of petrol that poured over his parcel.

It's unclear the potential value of the discovery, while several of the people commenting questioned whether the farmer may have punctured a buried pipeline, rather than stumble upon an underground oil deposit. To answer those questions and more, local authorities have dispatched specialists to um ... dig a little deeper.

➡️ Keep up with all the planet's police reports and plot twists on Worldcrunch.com

$2.9 million

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey auctioned his first-ever tweet as a non-fungible token (NFT) for $2.9 million, which he proceeded to donate to charity. The buyer, Sina Estavi (CEO of blockchain company Bridge Oracle) will receive a blockchain-certified receipt proving his digital ownership of the tweet, "just setting up my twttr."

Turkey has no macroeconomic problems. Turkey has macro-Erdoganic problems.

— In a speech in parliament, opposition leader Meral Aksener criticized President Tayyip Erdogan"s shock decision to sack the central bank governor, which sent Turkish markets spiraling down.

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Coronavirus

Texas In Germany? Saxony Mixes Anti-Vaxxers And Far-Right Politics

When it comes to vaccination rates, there are striking parallels between Germany and the United States. The states with the most opposition to vaccines differ politically from those with the highest vaccination rates. Now the consequences for booster shots are starting to become visible, especially in the United States.

A protest in Saxony last year against COVID-19 restrictions

Zentralbild/dpa via ZUMA
Daniel Friedrich Sturm

-Analysis-

WASHINGTON — Ok, so Saxony was singled out last week in a New York Times article as an example of the disastrous vaccination situation in parts of Europe. The article talks about the link between anti-vaxxers and the political success of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in the eastern German state.

In a sense, Saxony is Germany's Texas. For instance, 59% of U.S. citizens are fully vaccinated, but in strictly Republican Texas, where Donald Trump overwhelmingly won the 2020 election, this figure stands at 54%.

Keep reading... Show less
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We are grateful for reader support to continue our unique mission of delivering in English the best international journalism, regardless of language or geography. Click here to contribute whatever you can. Merci!
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