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The Latest: Italy's Grim Milestone, Lula Free To Run, Biden's Dogs

Protester in Beirut, Lebanon, on March 8
Protester in Beirut, Lebanon, on March 8

Welcome to Tuesday, where Italy surpasses 100,000 coronavirus deaths, Lula is cleared of corruption charges, and the trial of the former police officer accused of murdering George Floyd starts. We also look at how the pandemic has impacted fertility rates in developed countries.

COVID-19 latest: Italy passes 100,000 deaths mark, as it announces it will be the first EU country to start producing Russia's Sputnik V vaccine. Meanwhile, Latin America hits 700,000 fatalities, and the U.S. records less than 1,000 daily deaths for the first time in months, as the country's $1.9 trillion recovery bill is on the brink of becoming law.

• Myanmar coup: Three people were killed yesterday, as police used tear gas, sound grenades and rubber bullets to quell protests. Thousands defied curfew to demand the release of protesters held by security forces.

• Equatorial Guinea explosion update: The death toll from Sunday's explosions at a military compound has risen to 98, with another 615 injured. Spain has pledged to send humanitarian aid to the former Spanish colony.

• George Floyd murder trial: The trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minnesota police officer accused of killing George Floyd, is set to begin.

• Judge annuls Lula's convictions: A Supreme Court judge has annulled Brazilian ex-President Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva's conviction in a corruption scandal, opening the door to a possible run for president next year.

• Royal Wall of Silence: The tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey in which the Duke and Duchess of Sussex discuss racism within the royal family has been met with silence from Buckingham palace.

• "Major" incident: U.S. President Joe Biden's two dogs were sent back from Washington to the Biden family home in Delaware after Major, a 3-year-old German Shepherd, was involved in a "biting incident" with a member of White House security.

Italian daily La Repubblica marks the bleak milestone of 100,000 official coronavirus deaths, by displaying portraits of COVID-19 victims on its front page under the terse headline "One Hundred Thousand". Italy has become the second country in Europe after the UK to surpass that number of fatalities from the pandemic, despite imposing the world's first national lockdown a little over a year ago. The country is now bracing for a new peak in infections.

Why the pandemic baby boom is turning into a bust

With young couples locked together for weeks in the spring of 2020 due to a rampant global coronavirus outbreak, France was expecting a baby boom, just like in the post-war years. But those days and nights in lockdown didn't result in an upswing of bouncing babies, reports Jean-Marc Vittori in French daily Les Echos.

In all developed countries, the pandemic is upsetting fertility. For practical reasons, many couples ended up living apart during lockdown. Others discovered that their relationship was strained when stuck together at home, or their homes were too small to accommodate a child. Assisted human reproduction centers have closed their doors. One night stands, which do sometimes result in a baby nine months later, were impossible. There was also a clear psychological impact. The virus dampened the mood.

Beyond that, the high level of uncertainty has forced many young couples to reconsider their plans for the future. During the first lockdown in Europe, a team of Italian statisticians conducted a survey for Ipsos on child plans. Their conclusion? Fertility plans have been revised in all countries. Some couples have postponed plans in hopes of a better future, but others have completely abandoned hopes for making a family.

The real question is what will happen when the pandemic ends and the economy returns to somewhat solid growth. After the Spanish flu, the birth rate rebounded sharply as postponed projects finally came to fruition and others desired to compensate for deaths. After the great financial crisis of 2008-2009, however, it did not return to its previous level.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

Speeding driver asks police to bail him out of mother-in-law's wrath

There are some things more terrifying than facing police arrest.

In Märkisches Kreis, Germany, a driver had a special kind of ask from the officer who had pulled him over for speeding, according to German weekly magazine Stern. As the local police department reported on its official Twitter account, here's how the conversation went:

— Police officer: "You were driving too fast."

— Driver: "Sorry, but I've got to pick up my mother-in-law. If I'm late, I'm going to have even less fun than here with you!"

The speeding son-in-law proceeded to ask if he could have a written "late note" he could show his mother-in-law. "For proof."

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


Police and activists clashed in Mexico City during a march to mark International Women's Day, with protesters calling for the authorities to address Mexico's poor record on the murder of women. According to government figures, last year an estimated 939 women were victims of femicide in the country.

The revolution has already started and nobody can stop it.

— Senegal's main opposition leader Ousmane Sonko said, speaking in Dakar after his release on bail pending trial. Sonko's arrest last week following rape accusations, which he denies, sparked violent protests across the country against what his supporters saw as a ploy by President Macky Sall's government to smear the challenger.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

The Russian Orthodox Church Has A Kremlin Spy Network — And Now It's Spreading Abroad

The Russian Orthodox Church has long supported Russia’s ongoing war effort in Ukraine. Now, clergy members in other countries are suspected of collaborating with and recruiting for Russian security forces.

Photo of Russian soldiers during mass at an Orthodox church in Moscow.

Russian soldiers during mass at an Orthodox church in Moscow.

Wiktoria Bielaszyn

WARSAW — Several countries have accused members of the Russian Orthodox clergy of collaborating with Russian security services, pushing Kremlin policy inside the church and even recruiting spies from within.

On Sept. 21, Bulgaria deported Russian Archimandrite Vassian, guardian of the Orthodox parish in Sofia, along with two Belarusian priests. In a press release, the Bulgarian national security agency says that clergy were deported because they posed a threat to national security. "The measures were taken due to their actions against the security and interests of the Republic of Bulgaria," Bulgarian authorities wrote in a statement, according to Radio Svoboda.

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These reports were also confirmed by Russia's ambassador to Bulgaria, Eleonora Mitrofanova, who told Russian state news agency TASS that the priests must leave Bulgaria within 24 hours. “After being declared persona non grata, Wassian and the other two clerics were taken home under police supervision to pack up their belongings. Then they will be taken to the border with Serbia" she said.

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