Welcome to Thursday, where Myanmar turmoil reaches London, violence flares in Northern Ireland, and Superman sets a super record. Meanwhile, Italian weekly magazine L'Espresso uncovers how criminals, mafias and hackers are finding new ways to profit from the pandemic.
• Myanmar ambassador locked out: Ambassador Kyaw Zwar Minn was reportedly locked out of his London embassy by representatives of the Myanmar military junta yesterday. He is now urging the British government to send the soldiers back to their home country. In Myanmar at least 11 pro-democracy protesters were killed in renewed clashed, taking the toll of civilians killed to over 600 since the Feb. 1 coup.
• Biden to issue new gun restrictions: U.S. President Joe Biden is planning to disclose new gun restrictions — including on untraceable weapons — under pressure from Democrats and gun-control groups after a series of mass shootings hit the country.
• Violence in Northern Ireland: British and Irish leaders are calling for calm after a group of youth set a bus on fire and attacked police with stones in Belfast, the latest in a series of violent riots that started last week amid rising tensions between political factions in the country.
• Turkish failed coup sentences: At least 32 former Turkish soldiers have been sentenced to life in prison for their participation in the 2016 failed coup.
• DR Congo's alarming hunger: UN agencies warn that over 27 million people in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in western Africa, are affected by "emergency levels" of food insecurity.
• Women more impacted by COVID: Two new studies show that many national governments are failing to consider sex or gender in their responses to the current pandemic. Previous studies have shown that women are disproportionately impacted by the sanitary crisis.
• "Covering the Hate" with tattoos: Two Kentucky tattoo artists are being contacted from all over the world to cover up hate or gang-related tattoos for free. Their "Cover the Hate" campaign was inspired by the racial justice protests following the killing of George Floyd last May.
Spanish daily ABC reports on "doubts" about the AstraZeneca vaccine in the EU, as each country follows its own criteria for the use of the jab, following concerns over blood clots. Spain has decided to limit the use of the vaccine to people aged 60 and up.
How crime is mutating to cash in on the pandemic
Across the globe, mafia syndicates, white-collar criminals, hackers and scammers are finding novel ways to profit from the ongoing health crisis, reports Floriana Bulfon in Italian weekly magazine L'Espresso.
It's all a question of logistics — finding what's missing and getting it where it's needed, no matter the cost. It's the same workflow in any criminal market, including drug trafficking, except this time the products are different. In the first wave, it was masks, gowns, test tubes, gloves, disinfectants, respirators and oxygen cylinders. Prices soared by 1,000% in the span of just two weeks. Now, vaccines are the big money maker. Pure liquid gold. So precious, in fact, that "warehouses and shipments are at risk of (armed) robbery," warns Interpol chief Juergen Stock.
Analysts point out similarities between the prices of vaccines and those of drugs: All it takes is for wholesalers to announce a delay and prices skyrocket. Are multinationals signaling that they cannot meet the deadlines as agreed upon with the EU? Proposals from "subcontractors" are flooding in. In the last few weeks alone, the Czech Republic received two offers from sellers in the United Arab Emirates ready to distribute vaccines produced in India, as well as those from AstraZeneca.
In addition to trade, the pandemic has matured illicit activities that were previously considered experimental. Hacking has become mainstream with varying levels of professionalism. Every piece of information about vaccines and treatments has taken on a strategic value, and the most evil hackers try to steal vaccine formulas through cyber attacks on laboratories, hospitals and research centers.
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cours en distanciel
"Remote classes" are back in France, as the state of the pandemic forced the country to switch to all-online learning on Tuesday — a switch marred by saturated networks, glitchy education platforms and, according to the French government, hacking attempts.
Iranian grandmother's pardon of thieving grandson saves his hand, literally
There are the laws of the nation, then there's what grandma says. Those two codes collided in a recent case in Iran, where a grandmother who was robbed by her own grandson was ready to see him pay for the crime — until she found out the punishment was chopping off the young man's hand.
A jury had found the grandson, Farhad, and his friend Pourya guilty of entering the woman's home in Tehran four years ago, threatening to kill her and stealing gold and dollar bills, the newspaper Shargh reported this week.
Farhad's grandmother initially asked the court to show no mercy. "I won't forgive either of them," she told the judge, adding, "I am Farhad's grandmother and he is my grandson. How could he [...] have attacked my house and frightened me like that? I still can't sleep at night."
The two men blamed each other for instigating the theft, with Pourya telling the court: "Farhad thought that even if his grandmother finds out, she would forgive him."
She would, eventually. The Supreme Court confirmed the amputation sentence for forced burglary — one of Iran's many brutal punishments for crimes. It is not unusual for plaintiffs to forego reprisals and pardon criminals. With death sentences, in particular, the judiciary may even encourage victims' relatives to pardon the killer.
In this case, the grandmother asked the courts to cancel her previous desires for justice: "I don't want Farhad to lose his hand." The court will now be considering a reduced sentence, without amputation for either the grandson or his accomplice. For this grandmother (but certainly not all), a little jail time will serve her precious grandson just about right.
➡️ Keep up with all the planet's police reports and plot twists on Worldcrunch.com
A rare 1938 issue of Action Comics #1, which introduced the character of Superman, sold at a private auction for $3.25 million, setting an all-time record for a comic book.
This is not protest. This is vandalism and attempted murder.
— First Minister of Northern Ireland Arlene Foster condemned the violence in Belfast, as unionists and nationalists clash with police forces for the sixth consecutive night, amid Brexit- and COVID-restrictions-related tensions.
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