Welcome to Wednesday, where Joe Biden chooses a major anniversary for the final withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine rollout is stopped and there's an even taller Christ statue in Brazil. We also look at how different countries are finding creative ways to commemorate the COVID-19 victims.
• U.S. troops to leave Afghanistan: U.S. President Joe Biden has officially announced the withdrawal of the last U.S. troops from Afghanistan by September 11, to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks that led to the 2001 invasion. It is a short extension of a May 1 deadline for full withdrawal made in an agreement between the Trump administration and the Taliban.
• New questions about vaccines made in U.S. and China: The United States, the European Union and South Africa temporarily halt the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine rollout, after a few rare cases of blood clots have been reported. Meanwhile, new questions are raised about the effectiveness of China's Sinovac vaccine, which has been distributed in such countries as Brazil and Indonesia.
• Violence continues in Minneapolis after police resignations: A third night of unrest was reported in Minneapolis, following the resignation of police officer Kim Potter two days after fatally shooting Daunte Wright. The police chief in the nearby town where the killing happened also resigned after calling the shooting an accident. The latest killing happened just a few miles from where George Floyd was killed last year by police officer Derek Chauvin, who is currently on trial for murder.
• 20 children die in Niger school fire: Investigators are probing the cause of a fire that killed 20 children died yesterday at a school in Niamey, Niger's capital city.
• Coinbase listing marks crypto landmark: The largest cryptocurrency exchange, called Coinbase, lists today on the Nasdaq stock market, a milestone for the blockchain-backed currency economy.
• Somalia's president extends his mandate: President Mohamed Abdullahi has signed a controversial law that extends his mandate for two more years, according to a state news agency. Adullahi's four-year term expired in February without a successor.
• World's longest rabbit is missing: Darius, the 129 cm-long continental giant rabbit has been stolen from its home in Worcestershire, in the UK, according to police officials. His owner has offered a £1,000 ($1,378) reward for his return.
"Two more quarantines," titles Colombian daily El Espectador as Bogota extends strict lockdown restrictions for the next two weekends, after the country's capital city declared its health system under red alert.
Different ways the world is commemorating COVID-19's victims
With society as a whole facing the sheer scale of the loss of life caused by this pandemic, what can we do to commemorate its countless victims? Since March 2020, people from all over the world have been searching for new ways to pay tribute to the dead. From Switzerland to Mexico, mourners have explored different approaches to commemorating.
Switzerland: Telling a dramatic story through music — this was the idea of Swiss journalist Simon Huwiler, who created a music box whose singular tune was based on the daily number of people who lost their lives to the virus since last year, reports SWI swissinfo.ch. The holes in the music paper correspond to COVID victims.
Chile: "To Mend the Pain." This is how a group of Chilean women have named their art project that aims at creating a textile memorial for COVID-19 victims, reports Diario Uchile. After having worked for seven months, trying to reach out to people across the country, the group of women received over 200 pieces of embroidery, and more than 100 people expressed their willingness to take part in this creative memorial.
Britain: 150,000. That's where the COVID-19 death toll has arrived in Britain, as well as the number of hand-drawn red hearts that decorate a wall opposite Westminster, in London, and which stands as a temporary memorial to victims of the pandemic, reports The Guardian.
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Mayor of Rome mistakes another arena for Colosseum, sent to lions
For the Romans, there's no other choice but the fatal (though virtual) thumbs down for their mayor.
Yes, online commentators (and no doubt offline elders around the Italian capital) are sending Mayor Virginia Raggi to the proverbial lions for mixing up the Colosseum — the one (and only) built in Rome nearly 2,000 years ago, the first and biggest open-air amphitheater ever built — with some other, smaller ancient arena in a much smaller city almost not worth mentioning by name. But alas...
In a video presentation this week to tout the Italian capital's selection as host of the 2023 Ryder Cup golf tournament, Raggi showed a footage of what was supposed to be Rome's signature landmark… but was instead the arena of Nimes in southern France.
Italian daily La Stampa gathered some of the Romans' reactions: "Tell me it isn't true," wrote online commentator Simone N, after seeing the video. "What you see in the first three seconds is the Arena of Nîmes, which is in France. IN FRANCE. What the hell does that have to do with the city of Rome? The Colosseum is the Colosseum."
For those outside Rome, it may seem like an honest mistake, after all the French arena was built shortly after the Colosseum and is one of the best preserved ancient amphitheaters in the world. But for Romans, you might as well have substituted in the Yankee Stadium or the Wembley arena. Beyond stupido for the mayor.
"The mayor of Rome can't recognize the Colosseum?" asked one. Another added: "I could cry... a mistake that not even a kid in elementary school would make. Mixing up the symbol of Rome."
La Stampa reports that Raggi's staff has pulled the erroneous footage out, and blamed the gaffe on the Italian Golf Federation, which had included the wrong images in a video that the city of Rome borrowed for its presentation.
There was at least one defender of the error, several hundred miles to the north. Xavier Duais, deputy maire of Nîmes and responsible for tourism, tweeted a message to Raggi: "Thank you for the wonderful showcase you've given our arenas. Errare humanum est !" That's Latin for: To err is human. Sure, and to tear apart foolishness is Roman.
➡️ Keep up with all the planet's police reports and plot twists on Worldcrunch.com
An Egyptian court has ordered the Japanese owner of the Ever Given to pay $900 million in compensation after the massive cargo ship blocked the Suez Canal for almost a week. Egyptian authorities have seized the vessel amid a dispute over the financial damages caused by the blockade of this vital global trade waterway.
They got a lesson from the Myanmar army … now they have to give a lesson back to the army. They have to show their strength.
— In an exclusive interview with The Guardian, ousted Myanmar ambassador Kyaw Zwar Minn said that he is waiting for British officials to strengthen security measures as he fears reprisals for himself and his relatives at home. The Myanmar military regime removed him from office after he declared his loyalty to detained civil leader Aung Saun Suu Kyi.
✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet & Emma Flacard