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The world at a glance . . . Americas

Americas

 
Albany, N.Y.
New governor tells all: David Paterson, sworn in as New York’s governor this week in the wake of the Eliot Spitzer sex scandal, immediately issued an extraordinary public confession that he has had affairs “with a number of women,” including a state employee. The married Paterson, 53, said he made the disclosure to ease his conscience and to avoid “blackmail” by anyone trying to influence his decisions. “I just want to get straight with New York citizens,” he said. Paterson, who previously served as lieutenant governor and a state legislator, said the affairs ended “several years ago” and that no public funds were used for his trysts. Federal investigators, meanwhile, are pressing their inquiry about Spitzer, who resigned last week after he was tied to a high-priced prostitution service. Investigators are reportedly examining financial records to see if Spitzer paid for prostitutes with campaign funds, in violation of state and federal law.

Death Valley, Calif.
More Manson killings? Forensic scientists working at mass murderer Charles Manson’s onetime desert hideout said this week they had found at least two clandestine graves. The finding suggests that Manson and his followers may have committed more than the seven killings for which Manson is serving a life term. The freelance searchers at the Spahn Ranch, formerly a Western movie set, used ground-penetrating radar and other electronic tools to find signs of decomposing human bodies beneath the desert surface. They have asked California authorities to excavate the site. Manson prosecutors have long suspected that the cult leader was responsible for several unsolved murders, citing the disappearance of young runaways and drifters near the ranch.

Juarez, Mexico
Mass grave discovered: Drug enforcement agents this week unearthed 19 additional bodies buried behind two houses used by drug dealers in Juarez, bringing to 33 the number of corpses discovered there since March 1. The discoveries began after authorities raided the houses, arresting several people and seizing 3,700 pounds of marijuana. All but three of the bodies appeared to be male, and most had been buried at least five years. Juarez, in northwestern Mexico, has been a major battleground in a long-running turf war among the country’s three major drug cartels. Mexican drug violence last year claimed more than 2,500 lives.

Atlanta
Twister scars downtown: The first tornado ever to hit Atlanta inflicted extensive damage on the city’s downtown area this week, shattering windows, toppling trees, and disrupting a college basketball tournament taking place inside a downtown arena. No one was killed in the freak storm, which left 27 people injured. The city’s largest convention hall, the Georgia World Conference Center, also suffered significant damage. The tornado was part of a storm system that tore through the Southeast over the weekend, killing two people in northern Georgia and causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.

Sidrolandia, Brazil
Jailing sparks protest: Human-rights groups assailed Brazilian police this week for jailing a 12-year-old girl for six days alone in a cell surrounded by cells holding male prisoners. The girl was taken into custody last week for allegedly hitting the local police chief, who had confiscated her mobile phone. She wasn’t assaulted, but had to use the toilet and take showers in full view of the other prisoners. The issue struck a nerve with advocates because last year, a 15-year-old Brazilian girl was left in a cell holding several male prisoners and repeatedly raped.

New York City
Fatal crane collapse: In one of the worst construction accidents in the city’s history, seven people died last week when a construction crane collapsed on Manhattan’s East Side, damaging several buildings and flattening a four-story townhouse. The crane fell when the steel collar that attached it to a high-rise under construction broke loose. The collapse killed six construction workers and a woman inside the townhouse, who was in town from Florida for the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade. The catastrophe has unnerved many in New York, where scaffolding, cranes, and other signs of the city’s building boom are common. Officials have ordered immediate inspections of the roughly 250 cranes in use around the city.
 

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