It’s likely COVID-19 will be what the year 2020 will be best known for once it comes time to write the history books, but the virus isn’t the only thing going on in the world right now.
Despite running rampant through the news media almost as quickly as it infects the world, plenty of interesting things have been happening behind the scenes.
Unfortunately, most barely get a mention these days, and you might not be aware of these crazy news items that have been suppressed by COVID-19 coverage.
10 Korean Police Release Identity Of Man Behind “Nth Room” Sex Crime Case
On March 24th, Korean police released the name of the main suspect involved in the “nth chatroom” sex crime case as 24-year-old Cho Ju-bin, a volunteer at an orphanage and editor of his college newspaper. The case revolved around a Telegram chat room called “nth chatroom,” where he operated under the username “doctor.” Cho stands accused of tricking 74 people into sending him nude pictures, which he used for blackmail. Sixteen of those were children. Cho’s arrest the previous week resulted in 18 additional arrests.
Cho volunteered at the local orphanage for more than two years and was even featured on an online media outfit, where he was quoted as saying, “I started volunteer work after completing my compulsory military service. I wanted to help others because I received help from many people.” A petition has circulated with the hope of releasing the identities of all 260,000 users of the chatroom, and police are on the lookout for the alleged creator of “nth chatroom,” known as “gat gat” on Telegram.
9 Egypt & Ethiopia Close To War Over An Ethiopian Dam Being Built On The Nile
Tensions in Northern Africa are on the rise over the construction of a dam across the Nile River, and it may push Ethiopia and Egypt to war. The Grand Renaissance Dam is a point of pride for Ethiopia, but for Egypt, the dam represents a potential loss of control over one of the most significant rivers in the world. The major point of contention is the filling of the dam’s reservoir, which is expected to disrupt the river’s flow downstream.
Egypt has been tied to the river for millennia, and a disruption to the river’s flow could drastically hurt the country’s economy and reduce its primary water source, from which the nation consumes 90% of its potable water. The reservoir’s capacity is 74 billion cubic meters, and filling it in six years, as Ethiopia plans, would disrupt Egypt’s use of the Nile, making the dam a contentious issue. Egypt has proposed a plan to fill the reservoir over a period of between 12 and 21 years, but Ethiopia’s Water Minister Seleshi Bekele said, “That is not acceptable on any measurement.”
8 Missing Kentucky Teen’s Remains Found After A Decade
Paige Johnson was just 17-years-old when she went missing after party in September 2010. The Kentucky teen was missing for a decade, leaving her family with no idea as to her whereabouts of the young woman. At the time of her disappearance, Paige had a daughter who has grown up without knowing her mother. On Sunday, Clermont County, Ohio Sherrif’s Office was contacted by someone who believed they had found human remains in the woods outside of Williamsburg Township. Sadly, the remains have since been confirmed as belonging to Paige.
Donna Johnson, Paige’s mother, was heartbroken and happy at hearing the news. “I’ve been wanting to bring my baby home for so long. This is a day I was worried I would go to my grave without ever getting this day.” Paige’s remains were identified through her dental records, though the coroner’s office was not able to determine a cause of death. Paige’s remains were located about 1.5 miles from the last place she was seen, and investigators continue to work to determine what happened to the young woman.
7 Missing Former FBI Agent May Have Died In Iran
Back in 2007, a former FBI agent named Robert Levinson went missing in Iran. While Iran has never confirmed that the country was involved in Levinson’s disappearance, there has been a great deal of evidence released over the years that suggest the government in Tehran knows far more than it has let on. Six years after Levinson went missing, his family released photographs of him with a long beard, orange jumpsuit, and chains. In the pictures, he is holding a sign, one of which read, “This is the result of 30 years serving for USA.”
While his family has been fighting for his return for the past 13 years, news of Levinson has been sparse as the years ticked on. On March 25th, the news changed, and it appears that Levinson “may have passed away some time ago,” as U.S. intelligence officials reported. Hearing the news, the Levinson family released a statement, where they wrote that “We recently received information from U.S. officials that has led both them and us to conclude that our wonderful husband and father died while in Iranian custody.”
6 Christchurch Mosque Shooter Unexpectedly Pleaded Guilty
During Friday Prayer on March 15th, 2019, Australian Brenton Tarrant stormed into the Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch, New Zealand, where he killed 51 people and injured 49 more. A year later, Tarrant was set to stand trial, but on March 26th, he shocked the world by changing his “not guilty” plea to “guilty.” By changing his plea, he saved his victims and their families from a long, drawn-out trial. Tarrant was scheduled to stand trial in June after denying the charges, and his change in plea shocked New Zealand and the rest of the world.
Tarrant pleaded guilty to 51 counts of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder, and one count of committing a terrorist act. The court has set a date in May for establishing a sentencing date. Unfortunately, the current lockdown due to COVID-19 prohibits the court from acting sooner. Judge Justice Cameron Mander said, “There is no intention to sentence the defendant before the court returns to its normal operations and at a time when the victims and their families can attend court in person.” New Zealand has no death penalty and has concurrent prison sentences. Tarrant will be required under law to receive a minimum of 10 years in Jail for his actions.
5 Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Turned White
The U.S. Government believed that the largest and most widespread bleaching event ever recorded has hit Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The Reef has suffered two previous mass bleaching events in the last five years. Coral bleaching is a phenomenon that occurs when corals are stressed by rapid changes in temperature, nutrition, or light. Most often, they are the result of temperature fluctuations, and that appears to be the culprit in this case. When they are stressed, corals expel symbiotic algae from within their tissues, and this causes them to turn white.
Coral bleaching doesn’t mean the coral itself is dead, as they can survive a bleaching event. They are stressed far more than they are under ideal conditions, and this makes them more susceptible to dying when other factors are present. Essentially, coral bleaching makes coral reefs incredibly vulnerable, and often result in large die-offs when they occur. The bleaching was observed by Coral Reef Watch, which noted that the event was not as damaging as previous bleachings, but covered a far larger area than ever recorded.
4 A Lost Continent Was Found Beneath Canada
We’re all taught in school that there are seven continents on the planet, and while that’s true today, it wasn’t always like that. Over billions of years, the surface of the Earth has shifted and changed as the tectonic plates moved. This has resulted in the creation and destruction of continents, but it’s not every day scientists find evidence of a new continent sitting right below an existing one. A “lost continent” was discovered lurking beneath Canada, and the way researchers were able to confirm this was through an interesting source: diamonds.
Diamonds form deep in the Earth’s mantle and are found in a type of volcanic rock called kimberlite. As the magma rushes to the Earth’s surface, it catches diamonds and brings them close to the surface. A diamond mine in Canada collected samples of diamonds and kimberlite that showed a chemical match to an ancient continent formed nearly three billion years ago. That continent broke up around 150 million years ago, but a portion of it remains under the North American continent. The discovery also determined that the continent was 10% larger than previously believed.
3 U.S. Stock Market Has Biggest Gain Since 1933
The stock market has taken a significant plunge with the spread of COVID-19, and all the gains made since President Trump took office, also known as the “Trump Bump,” have been lost. The market may be fickle, but fortunately, it never stays down forever. Stocks rise and fall all the time, and a significant drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average will eventually return to positive stock territory. Amidst the crisis, it appears that is happening, as the DJIA had the largest single-day gain in its history on March 24th.
After plummeting for days, a stimulus bill being drafted in the U.S. Senate pushed investors to stop selling and buy. When the market closed the previous day, the DJIA was at 18,308.42. When it closed on the 24th, it had surged to 20,704.91, which is a positive change of +2,112.98, or 11.37%. The DJIA hasn’t seen a gain like that since March 15th, 1933, and that was due to the passing of the Emergency Banking Act on March 9th of that year (part of Roosevelt’s New Deal). It’s likely the Trump Bump will rebuild itself as the crisis winds down, and this single-day gain may represent a change in favor of that hopeful inevitability.
2 Netanyahu’s Government Is In Turmoil After Ally Resigns
Benjamin Netanyahu has had a tough time forming a government, which has stymied his ability to govern Israel, and the news of an ally’s resignation is going to make that even harder for the embattled Prime Minister. The PM is already under fire for corruption and a trial over charges he accepted expensive gifts from wealthy friends, committed fraud, and breach of trust looms. Despite these troubles, Netanyahu has held onto power, but the likelihood of that continuing has taken a hit following the announcement that Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein is resigning his position.
The resignation of a powerful member of Netanyahu’s Likud Party, who held the role of Speaker of the Parliament, will open the door for Netanyahu’s opposition to push for his downfall in the Israeli Parliament. The resignation may not be the final nail in the Prime Minister’s political coffin, as Edelstein defied a Supreme Court order requiring a vote for his successor. The lack of a vote provides a new obstacle for the opposition to overcome in its bid to topple Netanyahu from power. Eliad Shraga, chairman of the non-profit Movement for Quality Government in Israel, commented on the resignation and lack of a vote, saying, “This is a black day for democracy.”
1 Comet 2/2019 Atlas Y4 Is Approaching
It may not have a catchy or easily recalled name like the Hale-Bopp comet that appeared brightly to the naked eye back in 1997, but that’s not stopping Comet 2/2019 Atlas Y4 from making a similar pass of the Earth in May. Fortunately, the stellar snowball has been given the simpler name of “Atlas,” so you won’t have to run out into the night, point up to the sky and say, “Look at Comet 2/2019 Atlas Y4!” The comet was first discovered on December 28th, 2019, in Hawaii, and is the second-brightest comet visible to the naked eye in the night sky.
The last time a similarly bright comet made a close pass to the Earth, many saw it as a sign that the end of times was coming. The infamous Heavens Gate cult saw the coming of the Hale-Bopp comet as a spacecraft they could only hitch a ride on after committing mass suicide. In total, 39 members killed themselves in a San Diego, California suburb, wearing Nikes. Hopefully, a similar fate won’t befall any curious onlookers who should take comfort in knowing that the last time Atlas came close enough to Earth for it to be visible to the naked eye was 6,000 years ago, and the world clearly didn’t end when that happened.