BBC

The Latest: Suu Kyi Appears, Sarkozy Convicted, Bird Sighting 170 Years Later

In-person classes have resumed in Chile after more than a year of virtual lessons.
In-person classes have resumed in Chile after more than a year of virtual lessons.

Welcome to Tuesday, as COVID cases worldwide rise for the first time in seven weeks, a former French president is convicted of corruption and Chile goes back to school thanks in part to its extra efficient vaccine program. Meanwhile, La Stampa visits the northern Italian region of Lombardy, which is living through a grim coronavirus deja vu.


• COVID-19 latest: Global cases are rising for the first time in seven weeks. A new study shows that the P.1 variant first discovered in Brazil can infect people who already recovered from the virus. The Phillipines reports the first cases of the South African variant. Meanwhile, the EU has announced a vaccine passport scheme to reboot summer tourism, while France becomes the first country to endorse a single vaccine dose for people who have already recovered from COVID.

• Myanmar coup: Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi appeared in court, her first public appearance, since the coup in Myanmar began last month. Suu Kyi faces two more charges, including causing "fear and alarm."

• Sarkozy convicted: Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been convicted of trying to bribe a judge in 2014 and sentenced to three years in jail for corruption. Sarkozy

• Two Americans extradited over Nissan chief: An American father and son have been extradited to Japan, accused of helping carry out the daring escape of former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn, charged with concealing millions of dollars of income from Japanese regulators.

• Nigerian schoolgirls freed: The 279 secondary school students kidnapped and held for ransom on 26 February, have been released.

• Child in Sri Lanka dies in exorcism: Police in Sri Lanka say a nine-year-old girl has been beaten to death with a cane during a ritual to drive an evil spirit away. Two women, including the girl's mother, have been arrested.

• Missing bird reappears after 170 years: A mysterious Indonesian black-browed babbler, from a species believed to be extinct, has been spotted for the first time in 170 years.


French daily L'Humanité features an easy-to-translate front-page headline after former President Nicolas Sarkozy was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison for corruption and influence peddling.

Nightmare in Italy: Lombardy is COVID epicenter again

Locals can't tell whether it's a second or third wave ... or just a continuation of the first wave when Northern Italy was the West's first epicenter of the coronavirus, reports Chiara Baldi in Italian daily La Stampa.

By last week, at the Chiari hospital in the northern Italian region of Lombardy, scenes were eerily reminiscent of one year ago. Once again, this is the area of Italy where the virus is accelerating the quickest, all the way up to the city of Brescia. "Nothing has changed in one year. Nothing has been learned," says Valentina Bergo, a council member for education at the municipality of Rovato, a town of about 19,000 on the border between the provinces of Bergamo and Brescia. "We are still at square one, putting towns under lockdown and telling people they can't go on with their lives."

For weeks, the data has not offered much hope in the biggest province in Lombardy, and the most populated after Milan, with more than 1.2 million people in more than 200 towns. The province had more than 20,000 new infections since the start of the year — 506 in the last 24 hours before Feb. 24, and an average of some 378 per day. But the data doesn't tell the whole story: on top of the rising numbers, here and in other towns around Bergamo, the new coronavirus variants are everywhere.

Others are saying this part of Lombardy is facing a third wave. But for Mauro Borelli, a general manager of public health service in the region, more than a third wave, "this is a first wave that never really ended," he says. "In a year, local hospitals never went down to less than 40 hospitalized patients. The specialized Covid wards were never closed."

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


In Mexico, those accidents waiting to happen

For drivers in Mexico, the rule of thumb for traffic accidents is simple: el que pega, paga! In other words, the perpetrator of a crash — i.e. the incoming vehicle — pays.

In a country where many are uninsured, that kind of unspoken understanding makes sense. But the pega-paga approach has also created an opportunity for scammers to pocket some ill-gained pesos through a practice known as montachoques or chocachoca, the operative word being choque, Spanish for "crash."

An extortion technique being used increasingly in Mexico City, it involves provoking an accident by halting a car on a busy highway, then demanding compensation from the person who crashed in from behind. When victims are reluctant to pay, they are threatened and sometimes even attacked, a senior police official in the eastern sector of the city recently told the Milenio newspaper.

The official, Luis Martínez Rodríguez, described a typical maneuver as overtaking a car, then suddenly slamming the breaks to provoke a crash. The "injured party" then steps out, sometimes with companions, and demands compensation, with sums ranging from the equivalent of around $70 euros to $1,500.

Two or even three cars may be involved to ensure the victim is trapped into the situation. In one case the driver filmed the "repeated crashes' into his car, calling it an "attempted homicide." Police have identified the city's main ring roads as a choice location for this crime, usually undertaken outside rush hours, to allow maneuvering.

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

-61%

Chinese investment in Australia plunged by 61% in 2020, according to the Australian National University. New data recorded just more than $1 billion of Chinese investment in Australia last year, down from $2.6 billion in 2019. The drop had already begun in 2019, but the economic relations between the two countries worsened in 2020 after China's threats of a consumer boycott following Australia's call for an overhaul of the World Health Organisation in the wake of the outbreak of COVID-19 in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Some of my more fanatical friends are still upset, they have not accepted my choice.

— In an interview for Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, former Pope Benedict explains how his 2013 resignation — a first in modern times for a pontiff — was not accepted among the most conservative members of the Catholic Church who have insinuated that he was forced out in favor of the more progressive Pope Francis.

Badge
REUTERS
Reuters is an international news agency headquartered in London, UK. It was founded in 1851 and is now a division of Thomson Reuters. It transmits news in English, French, Arabic, Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Japanese, Korean, Urdu, and Chinese.
Badge
KAYHAN-LONDON
Kayhan is a Persian-language, London-based spinoff of the conservative daily of the same name headquartered in Tehran. It was founded in 1984 by Mostafa Mesbahzadeh, the owner of the Iranian paper. Unlike its Tehran sister paper, considered "the most conservative Iranian newspaper," the London-based version is mostly run by exiled journalists and is very critical of the Iranian regime.
Badge
CORRIERE DELLA SERA
Founded in 1876 as an evening newspaper ("Evening Courier), the Milan daily has long been a morning paper. The flagship publication of the RCS Media Group, Corriere della Sera is noted for its sober tone, reliable reporting and moderate political stances.
Badge
L'HUMANITE
L'Humanité ("Humanity") is a French-language daily based in Paris. It was founded in 1904 by Socialist leader Jean Jaurès, who also edited the paper until his assassination in 1914. Although it is known historically as the organ of the French Communist Party, the paper has been editorially independent since 1999.
Badge
BBC
The BBC is the British public service broadcaster, and the world's oldest national broadcasting organization. It broadcasts in up to 28 different languages.
Badge
THE GUARDIAN
Founded as a local Manchester newspaper in 1821, The Guardian has gone on to become one of the most influential dailies in Britain. The left-leaning newspaper is most recently known for its coverage of the Edward Snowden leaks.
Badge
WORLDCRUNCH
Premium stories from Worldcrunch's own network of multi-lingual journalists in over 30 countries.
Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
food / travel

The True Horrors Behind 7 Haunted Locations Around The World

With Halloween arriving, we have dug up the would-be ghosts of documented evil and bloodshed from the past.

Inside Poveglia Island's abandoned asylum

Laure Gautherin and Carl-Johan Karlsson

When Hallows Eve was first introduced as a Celtic festival some 2,000 years ago, bonfires and costumes were seen as a legitimate way to ward off ghosts and evil spirits. Today of course, with science and logic being real ghostbusters, spine-chilling tales of haunted forests, abandoned asylums and deserted graveyards have rather become a way to add some mystery and suspense to our lives.

And yet there are still spooky places around the world that have something more than legend attached to them. From Spain to Uzbekistan and Australia, these locations prove that haunting lore is sometimes rooted in very real, and often terrible events.

Shahr-e Gholghola, City of Screams - Afghanistan

photo of  ruins of Shahr-e Gholghola,

The ruins of Shahr-e Gholghola, the City of Screams, in Afghanistan

Dai He/Xinhua via ZUMA Wire


According to locals, ghosts from this ancient royal citadel located in the Valley of Bamyan, 150 miles northwest of Kabul, have been screaming for 800 years. You can hear them from miles away, at twilight, when they relive their massacre.

In the spring 1221, the fortress built by Buddhist Ghorids in the 6th century became the theater of the final battle between Jalal ad-Din Mingburnu, last ruler of the Khwarezmian Empire, and the Mongol Horde led by Genghis Khan. It is said that Khan's beloved grandson, Mutakhan, had been killed on his mission to sack Bamyan. To avenge him, the Mongol leader went himself and ordered to kill every living creature in the city, children included.

The ruins today bear the name of Shahr-e Gholghola, meaning City of Screams or City of Sorrows. The archeological site, rich in Afghan history, is open to the public and though its remaining walls stay quiet during the day, locals say that the night brings the echoes of fear and agony. Others claim the place comes back to life eight centuries ago, and one can hear the bustle of the city and people calling each other.

Gettysburg, Civil War battlefield - U.S.

photo of rocks and trees in Gettysburg

View of the battlefields from Little Round Top, Gettysburg, PA, USA

Unsplash/@nemo23


Even ghosts non-believers agree there is something eerie about Gettysbury. The city in the state of Pennsylvania is now one of the most popular destinations in the U.S. for spirits and paranormal activities sight-seeing; and many visitors report they witness exactly what they came for: sounds of drums and gunshots, spooky encounters and camera malfunctions in one specific spot… just to name a few!

The Battle of Gettysburg, for which President Abraham Lincoln wrote his best known public address, is considered a turning point in the Civil War that led to the Union's victory. It lasted three days, from July 1st to July 3rd, 1863, but it accounts for the worst casualties of the entire conflict, with 23,000 on the Union side (3,100 men killed) and 28,000 for the Confederates (including 3,900 deaths). Thousands of soldiers were buried on the battlefield in mass graves - without proper rites, legend says - before being relocated to the National Military Park Cemetery for the Unionists.

Since then, legend has it, their restless souls wander, unaware the war has ended. You can find them everywhere, on the battlefield or in the town's preserved Inns and hotels turned into field hospitals back then.

Belchite, Civil War massacre - Spain

photo of sunset of old Belchite

Old Belchite, Spain

Belchite Town Council


Shy lost souls wandering and briefly appearing in front of visitors, unexplainable forces attracting some to specific places of the town, recorded noises of planes, gunshots and bombs, like forever echoes of a drama which left an open wound in Spanish history…

That wound, still unhealed, is the Spanish Civil War; and at its height in 1937, Belchite village, located in the Zaragoza Province in the northeast of Spain, represented a strategic objective of the Republican forces to take over the nearby capital city of Zaragoza.

Instead of being a simple step in their operation, it became the field of an intense battle opposing the loyalist army and that of General Francisco Franco's. Between August 24 and September 6, more than 5,000 people were killed, including half of Belchite's population. The town was left in rubble. As a way to illustrate the Republicans' violence, Franco decided to leave the old town in ruins and build a new Belchite nearby. All the survivors were relocated there, but they had to wait 15 years for it to be complete.

If nothing particular happens in new Belchite, home to around 1,500 residents, the remains of old Belchite offer their share of chilling ghost stories. Some visitors say they felt a presence, someone watching them, sudden change of temperatures and strange sounds. The ruins of the old village have been used as a film set for Terry Gilliam's The Adventures of Baron Munchausen - with the crew reporting the apparition of two women dressed in period costumes - and Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth. And in October 1986, members of the television program "Cuarta Dimensión" (the 4th dimension) spent a night in Belchite and came back with some spooky recordings of war sounds.

Gur Emir, a conquerer’s mausoleum - Uzbekistan

photo of Gur Emir (Tomb of Timur) i

Gur Emir (Tomb of Timur) in Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Chris Bradley/Design Pics via ZUMA Wire


The news echoed through the streets and bazaars of Samarkand: "The Russian expedition will open the tomb of Tamerlane the Great. It will be our curse!" It was June 1941, and a small team of Soviet researchers began excavations in the Gur-Emir mausoleum in southeastern Uzbekistan.

The aim was to prove that the remains in the tomb did in fact belong to Tamerlane — the infamous 14th-century conqueror and first ruler of the Timurid dynasty who some historians say massacred 1% of the world's population in 1360.

Still, on June 20, despite protests from local residents and Muslim clergy, Tamerlame's tomb was cracked open — marked with the inscription: "When I Rise From the Dead, The World Shall Tremble."

Only two days later, Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union, with the people of Samarkand linking it to the disturbing of Tamerlane's peace. Amid local protests, the excavation was immediately wrapped up and the remains of the Turkish/Mongol conqueror were sent to Moscow. The turning point in the war came with the victory in the Battle of Stalingrad — only a month after a superstitious Stalin ordered the return of Tamerlane's remains to Samarkand where the former emperor was re-buried with full honors.

Gamla Stan, a royal massacre - Sweden

a photo of The red house of Gamla Stan, Stockholm, Sweden

The red house of Gamla Stan, Stockholm, Sweden

Unsplash/@hkblind


After Danish King Kristian II successfully invaded Sweden and was anointed King in November 1520, the new ruler called Swedish leaders to join for festivities at the royal palace in Stockholm. At dusk, after three days of wine, beer and spectacles, Danish soldiers carrying lanterns and torches entered the great hall and imprisoned the gathered nobles who were considered potential opponents of the Danish king. In the days that followed, 92 people were swiftly sentenced to death, and either hanged or beheaded on Stortorget, the main square in Gamla Stan (Old Town).

Until this day, the Stockholm Bloodbath is considered one of the most brutal events in Scandinavian history, and some people have reported visions of blood flowing across the cobblestoned square in early November. A little over a century later, a red house on the square was rebuilt as a monument for the executed — fitted with 92 white stones for each slain man. Legend has it that should one of the stones be removed, the ghost of the represented will rise from the dead and haunt the streets of Stockholm for all eternity.

Port Arthur, gruesome prison - Australia

a photo of ort Arthur Prison Settlement, Tasmania, Australia

Port Arthur Prison Settlement, Tasmania, Australia

Flickr/Eli Duke


During its 47-year history as a penal settlement, Port Arthur in southern Tasmania earned a reputation as one of the most notorious prisons in the British Empire. The institution — known for a brutal slavery system and punishment of the most hardened criminals sent from the motherland— claimed the lives of more than 1,000 inmates until its closure in 1877.

Since then, documented stories have spanned the paranormal gamut: poltergeist prisoners terrorizing visitors, weeping children roaming the port and tourists running into a weeping 'lady in blue' (apparently the spirit of a woman who died in childbirth). The museum even has an 'incidence form' ready for anyone wanting to report an otherworldly event.

Poveglia Island, plague victims - Italy

a photo of Poveglia Island, Italy

Poveglia Island, Italy

Mirco Toniolo/ROPI via ZUMA Press


Located off the coast of Venice and Lido, Poveglia sadly reunites all the classical elements of a horror movie: plagues, mass burial ground and mental institute (from the 1920's).

During the bubonic plague and other subsequent pandemics, the island served as a quarantine station for the sick and anyone showing any signs of what could be Black Death contamination. Some 160,000 victims are thought to have died there and the seven acres of land became a mass burial ground so full that it is said that human ash makes up more than 50% of Poveglia's soil.

In 1922 a retirement home for the elderly — used as a clandestine mental institution— opened on the island and with it a fair amount of rumors involving torture of patients. The hospital and consequently the whole island was closed in 1968, leaving all the dead trapped off-land.

Poveglia's terrifying past earned it the nickname of 'Island of Ghosts'. Despite being strictly off-limits to visitors, the site has been attracting paranormal activity hunters looking for the apparition of lost and angry souls. The island would be so evil that some locals say that when an evil person dies, he wakes up in Poveglia, another kind of hell.

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS
MOST READ