Monday, 2nd November 2009
From: Times of Malta
Thousands of Icelanders lined up at McDonald's restaurants to order their last Big Macs before the US fast-food chain abandoned the crisis-hit island at midnight on Saturday due to soaring costs.
The world's largest fast-food company said earlier that all three of its restaurants in Iceland, operated by franchisee Jon Ogmundsson, were shutting down. The outlets were packed since the announcement.
"It's my last chance for a while to have a real Big Mac,", a 28-year old salesman waiting in line said. In a nearby stationary store, Thora Sigurdardottir, a 35-year old nursing assistant, said she had no intention of going for a final McDonald's meal. "Good riddance," she said.
McDonald's said it would not seek to come back to Iceland but Ogmundsson will continue running the restaurants under a different name. (Reuters)
Irish turn out for apparition
Some 10,000 people gathered at a Irish shrine hoping to witness an apparition of the Virgin Mary last Saturday despite pleas from an archbishop to ignore invitations to the event by a self-proclaimed spiritual healer.
The Knock shrine in northwest Ireland, which dates back to an apparition in 1879 of Mary, St Joseph and St John, attracts 1.5 million pilgrims each year, including Pope John Paul in 1979.
The head of the local Roman Catholic archdiocese issued a statement urging the faithful to disregard the forecasts by Dublin-based "spiritual healer" Joe Coleman that Mary, worshipped by Christians as the mother of God, would reappear.
"Faith makes Knock pilgrims firm in hope," Archbishop Michael Neary said in the statement. "They do not expect visions or seek further apparitions."
Some of those present said Mary appeared on Saturday, most attributing her presence to the sun suddenly breaking through the clouds, changing colour and appearing to come closer. (Reuters)
Divers probe Mayan ruins in lake
Scuba divers are exploring the depths of a volcanic lake in Guatemala to find clues about an ancient sacred island where Mayan pilgrims flocked to worship before it was submerged by rising waters.
Samabaj, the first underwater archaeological ruins excavated in Guatemala, were discovered accidentally 12 years ago by a diver exploring Lake Atitlan, ringed by Mayan villages.
"No one believed me, even when I told them all about it. They just said 'he's mad'," said Roberto Samayoa, a recreational diver who grew up near the lake where his grandmother told him legends of a sunken church. In 1996, Mr Samayoa found the site, with parts of buildings and huge ceremonial stones, known as stelae, clearly visible. Only in the past year have professional archaeologists taken an interest. (Reuters)
Bolivians asked to forgo human skulls
Bolivia's Catholic church has called on the faithful to stop using human skulls at special Mass celebrations, a practice some link to occult powers.
The Bolivian Episcopal Conference has asked the overwhelmingly Catholic nation to cast aside the "growing" trend of seeking protection from bad luck by making offerings of coca, cigars or drinks to human crania.
As much of the world celebrates the Day of the Dead, Bolivian bishops had another festival on their minds, the Day of Skulls, which falls on November 8.
Known as Natitas, the festival sees families adorn skulls, sometimes those of relatives, with flowers, hats, candles and other decoration.
La Paz's Archbishop Edmundo Abastoflor warned many of the skulls in fact belonged to "unknown people, obtained by grave robbing and later conserved, donated or even sold."
Abastaflor urged practitioners of the Andean ritual to "let them rest in peace." (AFP)
Amazon Indians find crash survivors
Nine people survived a crash landing on a river in Brazil's Amazon rainforest after native Indians alerted authorities who dispatched a rescue mission.
The small military plane, which went missing last Thursday, was carrying four crew members and seven health officials on a vaccination campaign in remote areas of the jungle.
The C-98 Cessna landed on the Itui river, a tributary to the Javari river, in the far western Amazon region. Members of the Matis tribe spotted the wreckage and notified local authorities. The site is close to where the borders of Brazil, Colombia and Peru meet.
The area is home to a handful of Indian tribes that have little contact with the outside world.
The Brazilian Air Force said divers continued to search the river for the two missing people.