In The World….
► ‘Mother of All Marches’ Leaves 3 Dead in Venezuela
What anti-government activists in Venezuela called the “mother of all marches” turned bloody on Wednesday, with at least three people killed and dozens more injured during rallies and marches across the country. The Guardian reports that at least one opposition lawmaker was hospitalized after taking part in the demonstrations, and photos shared online showed opposition leader Henrique Capriles choking on teargas during a protest in Caracas. Thousands of people clashed with soldiers and riot police in the capital, with protesters building barricades and throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at security forces.
The AP reports that one of the people shot dead during the protest in Caracas was Carlos Romero, who was three days away from his 18th birthday. Family members say he was on his way to play soccer when he found himself between protesters and pro-government militias. Another victim was a 23-year-old woman shot dead by militia members as she was on her way home from a protest, according to the mayor of the city of San Cristobal. A third victim, a National Guardsman, was reportedly shot dead by a sniper. Protesters, including Catholic clergy members, are seeking to oust President Nicolas Maduro. The opposition has called for another mass protest on Thursday.
► Images of North Korea Nuclear Test Site Show ... Volleyball
What are North Korean workers doing when not preparing for a nuclear test? Letting loose on the volleyball court, apparently. “Unusual” satellite images of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, snapped on Sunday and described in a 38 North report, reveal not the expected preparations for the country’s sixth nuclear test but rather three concurrent games of volleyball, reports the New York Times. Since North Korea knows when satellites zip overhead, analysts say the games at the main administrative area, guard barracks, and support area of the command center—plus an apparently unused volleyball net at the command center—were likely meant to convey some sort of message, though they aren’t exactly sure what.
“They’re either sending us a message that they’ve put the facility on standby, or they’re trying to deceive us,“ according to one expert. “We really don’t know.“ The games could also signal a “tactical pause,“ per CNN. Analysts still believe the site is ready for another nuclear test at any time. But they say much of the activity seen at the site over the last eight weeks appears to have ended. Vehicles and trailers have disappeared from roads. And though there are minor signs of tunneling, “the pumping of water out of the tunnel to maintain an optimal environment for instrumentation and stemming seems to have ceased,“ the report states. Still, the games aren’t new: Per the 38 North report, “Personnel playing volleyball at the Punggye-ri nuclear test facility have also been identified on a number of occasions as far back as 2006 prior to the first nuclear test and more recently in February.“
► As Venezuela Seizes Plant, GM Calls Out ‘Total Disregard’
As demonstrators march across Venezuela to protest President Nicolas Maduro’s administration, General Motors is dealing with its own problems in Valencia. The automaker said in a statement Wednesday that its plant there was illegally snatched by public officials and that “other assets,“ including vehicles, had been swiped from the factory, Reuters reports. The company has nearly 80 dealers in the country, as well as about 2,700 workers, and it says those who are affected by the seizure will now receive “separation payments,“ per the Detroit Free Press. GM’s statement calls the takeover a “total disregard” of its legal rights and says it will battle to defend those rights both “within and outside of Venezuela,“ CNNMoney reports. Reuters notes it’s not the first time Venezuela has appropriated factories located there.
► The Land Where the Dead Never Die
In most parts of the world, wakes and funerals are the main form of ceremonial closure people have when a loved one passes away. Things are a little different in Indonesia’s Toraja region in Sulawesi, where Sahar Zand headed for the BBC to reveal a ritual most may find macabre: keeping dead bodies at home for months, even years. The families here, based partly on superstition that the departed person’s spirit will haunt them otherwise, preserve the corpses of loved ones with a special chemical made of formaldehyde and methanol, then position them right in the middle of the household’s activities, bringing the bodies food and water, bathing them, and even leaving the lights on all night as they keep referring to them in the present tense. This all takes place until family members have completed the mourning process in their own time and accepted that the deceased person is really dead.
This unusual transition eventually culminates with the body’s “grand procession” around town and an “unimaginably lavish funeral,“ which Torajans often save up their whole lives for so they can afford the best final send-off possible, with guests from around the globe invited to bear witness. One elaborate funeral Zand attended was a four-day event that cost the man’s family more than $50,000 and included the slaughter of hundreds of pigs and two dozen buffaloes (among the locals, buffaloes are thought to be the creatures that transport the dead to the afterlife, where their souls are then reincarnated). But as Zand explains, “Even interment doesn’t mean goodbye,“ with a reunion of sorts between the living and the dead every couple of years. More on the fascinating, if somewhat morbid, practice HERE .
► Town Suddenly Dwarfed by Massive Iceberg
A small town on the coast of Newfoundland is—in the words of one local—suddenly “swarming with people” after a huge iceberg recently set up shop there, the CBC reports. The iceberg—150 feet above the water at its tallest point—got stuck in the shallow waters off Ferryland, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to move anytime soon. The iceberg is so big it dwarfed a helicopter that recently appeared to land on it. According to Quartz, unusually strong winds and rising Arctic temperatures could be responsible for an increase in icebergs in the area, including the one stuck in Ferryland.
Hundreds of people are causing unprecedented traffic jams in the small town, trying to get photos of the iceberg, which are proliferating on social media. Ferryland Mayor Adrian Kavanagh tells VOCM the iceberg is a great way to start the tourist season—though a little early, as the town’s two restaurants don’t open until later in May. “We just gotta find a way to keep that iceberg there,“ he says. Kavanagh says the iceberg is the biggest he’s ever seen in Ferryland and people are interested “in that kind of stuff.“