Cardinals Choose Argentina’s Jorge Mario Bergoglio as New Pope Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected the new pope on March 13th, succeeding Benedict XVI. The 76-year-old became the Catholic Church’s 266th pontiff. Just after two days of conclave, Bergoglio received the necessary two-thirds of the vote. He is the first pope from Latin America, where 480 million Catholics live. Bergoglio has chosen Francis as his papal name.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Dies
On March 5th, Hugo Chavez succumbed to his struggle with cancer. He was the president of Venezuela for 14 years. Elections must be held in 30 days, with Maduro serving as interim president. He will most likely run for presidency against Henrique Capriles Radonski, who lost to Chavez in October’s election.
Xi Jingping Becomes President of China
Xi Jingping assumed the presidency of China on March 14th. Of the 2,956 delegates, only one vote was cast against Jingping. Li Yuancho is named premier, China’s number two position. Assuming the presidency completes the transition of power to Jingping, which puts him in charge of all three centers of power in China.
Swiss Tourist Gang-Raped in India
March 16th - Police are investigating the gang-rape of a tourist in Central India, looking for seven attackers. The victim and her husband were camping near a forest when a group of men yielding sticks stormed their tent. The attackers beat the husband and raped the wife, then ran off with their laptop, cell phone, and 10,000 rupees (CAD $189). Twenty people have been detained for questioning, as the Swiss embassy has called for a swift investigation. The women and her husband are recovering at a hospital in the nearby city of Gwalior.
London Rail Excavation Unearths Supposed ‘Black Death Pit’
Archaeologists are working alongside builders on a new line of London’s Crossrail project, due to a find of 13 skeletons lined neatly in two rows. On March 15th, a shaft sunk eight feet to reveal the pit of remains. The pit is suspected to be a mid-14th century mass grave site that was used to dispose deceased bodies from the Black Death, also known as the bubonic plague. Plague bacteria can still live in rodents and fleas today, but there is no risk with the find since it cannot live for an extended period of time in the soil.
Russian Cosmonauts and US Astronaut Arrive on Earth
After 142 days in space, American expedition commander Kevin Ford, and Russian Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy and Evgeny Tarelkin returned to earth on March 15th. The Soyuz space capsule landed in northeast Kazakhstan after a three-and-a-half-hour voyage from the International Space Station. NASA TV showed live footage of the landing.