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Dispatches Human Race

Human Race

Madrid (Oscar Gonzalez/Sipa/AP)

Protested

Tens of thousands of marchers gathered in Spain’s capital on March 16 to protest the trial of Catalan separatist leaders. According to the BBC, the organizers brought more than 120,000 people from more than 60 civilian activist groups from all over the country, including Catalonia. The protesters came to the city in hundreds of buses and marched on the Plaza de Cibeles, waving yellow and red Catalan flags and carrying banners declaring the region’s vote for independence to be no crime. The leaders on trial helped orchestrate the 2017 Catalan vote for separation from Spain—a vote the Spanish government declared unconstitutional. If the vote’s leaders are convicted, some face up to 25 years in prison.


 

Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP

Mozambique (Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP)

Devastated

Cyclone Idai hit Mozambique on March 14 with winds of up to 105 mph before moving on to Zimbabwe and Malawi, triggering one of the worst disasters in the South African region in recent times. The storm affected at least 2 million people, according to the United Nations. The official death toll stood at 761 people as of March 26, but President Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique said the number could reach 1,000 in his country alone as responders gain more access to closed-off areas. The storm destroyed about 90 percent of the Mozambican city of Beira. Satellite images released by the European Space Agency showed inland floodwaters measuring 80 miles by 15 miles, drowning homes and villages that once dotted the region.


 

Paul Beaty/AP

Jussie Smollett (Paul Beaty/AP)

Dropped

Chicago prosecutors on March 26 dropped charges against actor Jussie Smollett for lying to police about an alleged attack based on his race and sexual orientation. The African-American and openly homosexual actor claimed he was attacked in late January in Chicago by two men who shouted racial and anti-gay slurs, poured bleach on him, and looped a rope around his neck. In early March, a grand jury indicted him on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct after police said Smollett hired the two men to attack him and lied to authorities about the incident. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel blasted the prosecutors’ decision: “From top to bottom, this is not on the level.”


 

Smuggled

A Malaysian national was caught allegedly smuggling a live human embryo through Mumbai’s airport. Any importation of the kind into India is illegal without a permit. The BBC reported that the man told Indian officials he had smuggled embryos before, and he implicated a respected IVF clinic in the city. However, the clinic denied the claim, and its lawyer alleged a conspiracy among competitors to shut down the clinic. According to The Times of India, investigators found a number of text messages to back up the Malaysian man’s claims, and the clinic has been called into court.


 

Stored

Facebook has admitted the company stored hundreds of millions of users’ passwords in plain text accessible to any of its employees. The company’s public announcement did not disclose how long this practice has been going on but did say the problem has been under investigation since January. According to CNN, the passwords affected were primarily those of Facebook Lite users, a version of Facebook popular in countries with poor Wi-Fi connections. Additionally, tens of millions of regular Facebook users and tens of thousands of Instagram users were also affected. Facebook has promised to alert affected users.