Geopolitics

Ukraine Ultimatum, 4,000 Migrants In 48h, Dumped Masterpiece

Kerry blamed Israel for undermining the recent attempts at peace.
Kerry blamed Israel for undermining the recent attempts at peace.
Worldcrunch

UKRAINE’S ULTIMATUM TO PRO-RUSSIAN PROTESTERS
Ukraine’s acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov has said that the situation in Eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists are still occupying state buildings, will be “resolved in 48 hours,” threatening “the minority who want conflict” with a “forceful answer”, the BBC reports. "There are two options — political and negotiations, and force," Avakov told journalists. Meanwhile in other related developments:

  • Protesters who had taken some 60 people hostage in a state security building in the city of Luhansk are believed to have let go 56 people after negotiations, although it’s unclear how many of those are hostages and how many are protesters.

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a speech to the country’s Parliament that Russia was not doing enough to appease tensions in Ukraine. "Unfortunately, in many areas it is not clear that Russia is contributing to a de-escalation of the situation," Reuters reports her as saying. Yesterday, John Kerry accused Moscow’s “special forces and agents” of fueling the conflictin Eastern Ukraine, and suggested that sanctions against Russia should be extended to its energy, banking and mining sectors.

  • The U.S., the EU and Ukraine have agreed to meet with Russian officials next week. If it takes place, this will be the first meeting between the four parties since the beginning of the Ukrainian crisis.

NETANYAHU ORDERS END OF COOPERATION WITH PALESTINIANS
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered his cabinet to cease all cooperation with the Palestinian authorities in response to what Tel Aviv sees as "Palestinian violations," The Jerusalem Post reports. The decision however does not apply to Israel’s Defense Minister or to its Justice Minister, as they continue to meet with Palestinian negotiators to try to salvage the U.S.-backed peace talks. Netanyahu’s move was denounced by opposition leader Isaac Herzog, who said the Israeli prime minister was "giving fuel and matches to those who hate Israel.”
This comes after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday that both sides had made “unhelpful” decisions, but ultimately blamed Israel’s settlement plans in occupied territories in Jerusalem for undermining the recent attempts at peace.

DEADLY BLAST HITS PAKISTANI CAPITAL
At least 23 people were killed in a massive explosion at a vegetable market on the outskirts of Pakistan’s capital of Islamabad, Al Jazeera reports. This comes after an explosion aboard a train killed 14 people yesterday in the southwestern province of Balochistan. The Taliban, who are currently holding peace talks with the government, denounced the two attacks.

ITALY RESCUES 4,000 MIGRANTS IN 48 HOURS
Italy’s Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said the country’s navy and coast guards had rescued some 4,000 migrants trying to reach Europe on overcrowded boats over the last 48 hours, ANSA news agency reports. At least one would-be immigrant was found dead on one of the boats.

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO
Beijing’s Caixin newspaper offers a fascinating picture of what’s known in China as guanxi, an unwritten system of social hierarchy that’s as noxious to real democracy as any Communist Party diktat. Leung Man Tao writes: “A public institution that exists in the name of the people and the nation shouldn’t vary its policies from person to person. Everyone is equal before the law, and a bus cannot stop you getting on because you are not the driver’s father. Under this modern Western concept, relationship should not be important. Or at least the relationship should not be a central part of the system.”
Read the full article: Guanxi, Evils Of China's Traditional *Social Networks*

MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD

MASSIVE RECALL
Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, announced it would recall a whopping 6.76 million vehicles, citing a variety of defects in several models. This comes after the Japanese automaker was criticized for reacting slowly to earlier defects in its cars and trucks. Read more from Bloomberg.

SEARCH OPERATION CLOSING IN ON MH370
The search area in the South Indian Ocean for Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 has been drastically reduced after Australia’s Ocean Shield vessel picked up two more signals believed to come from the missing aircraft’s black box, ABC reports. Angus Houston, head of the search operation, said he was optimistic they would find something "in a matter of days".

“HEARTBLEED” BUG PUTS INTERNET SECURITY AT RISK
An encryption security bug that went undetected for the past two years sent the web on alert after experts found that tens of thousands of servers around the world were affected, The Washington Post reports. The bug, nicknamed “Heartbleed,” is in fact a flaw in the OpenSSL encryption system, used on many websites including Google, Facebook and Yahoo, and recognized by most users as the green padlock in the browser’s address bar. According to The Guardian, until the problem is fixed, “the simplest thing to do may be to refrain from engaging in sensitive activities on the Internet.”

$3.7 MILLION
Hong Kong police have been searching a landfill today for a mistakenly dumped painting that had just been sold $3.7 million at an auction.

SNAPSHOT
Check out this great shot of Chelsea's Demba Ba scoring the winning goal in the 87th minute of the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal against Paris Saint-Germain.

DID YOU KNOW?
As surprising as it may seem, Russell Crowe used to be a singer in a garage rock band called Roman Antix, in New Zealand, back in the 1980s. But the best part is perhaps his stage name: Russ Le Roq. Check out his single “What’s expand=1] the Difference?

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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.

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