Stories of luxury jets, coffins, and rowing from around the globe

Published 5:51 pm Friday, February 26, 2021

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Sometimes I can get too focused on what’s happening locally that I forget there’s a whole world outside full of seven billion other people. So I figured it’s time to check in again on news stories happening around the world. There are plenty of people out there waking up every morning and going about their day just like we do. What’s happening in their lives?

As usual, I’m pulling out the most interesting headlines from the world news section of WRAL’s website.

Have you ever tried to sell something but couldn’t find anyone interested? If so, you have something in common with the president of Mexico. Since he became president in Dec. 2018, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been trying to find a buyer for the country’s presidential jet. Despite his high-ranking political status, he prefers to fly commercial and decided he didn’t need the luxurious Boeing 787 which was purchased at a cost of $200 million by his predecessor. Lopez Obrador admitted this week that all the fancy presidential modifications to the jet apparently make it unappealing for buyers. I guess after more than two years, it might be time to give up on selling it.

The last remaining statue of Spain’s former dictator, Francisco Franco, was finally removed this past week from its public display in the Spanish enclave of Melilla (which is actually located in Morocco). The votes from the local government on the decision were 14 in favor, 10 abstentions, and one vote against. Franco led Spain beginning in the late 1930s and was responsible for thousands of executions during his regime. This particular statue was put up three years after the dictator’s death, and its removal was on the 40th anniversary of the date Franco’s supporters failed in a coup to overthrow the government.

A morbid story from Italy: hundreds of coffins fell into the sea this past week after a landslide occurred at a cemetery situated near some seaside cliffs on the coast. So far, only 10 coffins had been recovered, and the port authority of Genoa had blocked the coastal area in the hopes the rest of the coffins won’t float too far out to sea. In the days before the landslide, workers had been doing maintenance in the area but stopped when they noticed cracks in the rocks. The Camolgi cemetery was built over 100 years ago.

Over in New Zealand, progress is finally being made on rebuilding the iconic Christ Church Cathedral which crumbled to rubble on Feb. 22, 2011. While much of the surrounding city has worked to demolish and rebuild in the 10 years since the devastating natural disaster, not much progress has been made on the cathedral. Much of the last decade was spent debating whether the remains of the church should be left intact to rebuild on or demolished to start from scratch. But now work is finally beginning on the $111 million project to tear down and recreate the church to look like its original structure (but will add a few improvements, such as extra bathrooms). The project is expected to be completed in the next six years, and fundraising to cover the costs is ongoing.

Meanwhile in Australia, scientists have used radiocarbon-dating to figure out the age of some rock art in the western part of the country. Since organic material is needed for the dating process, scientists used the remains of fossilized wasp nests above and below the art to determine the ages. Basically, if the nest is on top, the art beneath it is older; and if the art is on top, the nest is older. The results ranged from 13,000 to 17,500 years ago for the rock art, with the oldest one being a painting of a kangaroo. I suppose there wasn’t much else to draw back in those days.

Lastly, a British lady has just become the youngest woman to row alone across the Atlantic Ocean. Jasmine Harrison, who is 21 years, old started her journey in Spain and concluded it in Antigua, located in the Caribbean. It took her 70 days, 3 hours, and 48 minutes total, a new world record. She reported on her Twitter account that the trip included a near collision with a drilling ship, two capsizes, and the consumption of a lot of peanut butter and Nutella. I can’t even imagine what it’d be like to travel across the ocean alone, so she’s a lot braver than me!

These are all just a few examples of things happening around the world this past week. Some are tragic, others are historic, and a few are just strange. I always think that reading headlines from other countries is a good way to remind ourselves we can find some commonalities with people all around the world.

Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer at Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at or 252-332-7206.