China Shipwreck, Greek Debt Talks, Bye-Bye Love Locks

China Shipwreck, Greek Debt Talks, Bye-Bye Love Locks


At least 400 people were missing this morning after a Chinese ship carrying 458 passengers and crew was hit by an apparent cyclone and sank in the Yangtze River late yesterday, Chinese news agency Xinhua reports. So far, there are only 15 to 18 survivors, and just five bodies recovered, as rescuers battle poor weather conditions. Xinhua reported that rescuers could hear people calling for help from inside the ship’s hull, and television news showed it being cut through with an angle grinder. The ship’s captain and chief engineer are reportedly among the survivors and are being detained by authorities. No distress call was issued from the ship, which reportedly sunk in just two minutes.


“It’s not enough,” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi said today during an anti-ISIS conference in Paris, complaining about a lack of support from the international coalition fighting the terrorist organization. “Air support is not enough. There is too little surveillance. ISIS is mobile and moves in very small groups,” Reuters quoted him as saying. About 4,000 airstrikes have been carried out against the Islamist group in the past 10 months, Le Monde reports. But the jihadists have made significant progress recently in both Ramadi, Iraq, and Palmyra, Syria. The U.S.-led coalition in Iraq has recognized the need to increase its military engagement in the region, including additional airstrikes and the military training of Iraqi and local Sunni forces. Iraq’s prime minister is also expected to outline his government’s plan to recapture Ramadi and the region from ISIS.


Jérôme Valcke, FIFA secretary general and right-hand man of the soccer organization’s president Sepp Blatter, could be the “high-ranking FIFA official” that U.S. authorities believe is the source of a 2008 $10 million embezzlement, The New York Times reports. “The revelation puts the money trail closer to Mr. Blatter, FIFA’s president, than had been previously known,” the newspaper reported. Last week, an indictment accused Jack Warner, FIFA’s then-vice president, of receiving a bribe for helping South Africa become the host country for the 2010 World Cup. But in an email to The New York Times, Valcke claimed he had not authorized the payment and “did not have the power to do so.” So far, he hasn’t been charged with wrongdoing.


It’s been 62 years to the day since Elizabeth II was crowned Queen of England. Learn more June 2 facts in your 57-second shot of history.


Charles Kennedy, former leader of the UK’s Liberal-Democrat party, died suddenly this morning at his home in Scotland at the age of 55, his family has announced. The cause of his death has yet to be confirmed, The Guardian reports. Kennedy led the party from 1999 to 2006, during which he was one of the few British political leaders to oppose the Iraq war. The political world has been paying tribute.


Photo: Pascal Potier/Visual/ZUMA

Paris city officials have begun removing thousands of padlocks from the French capital’s main bridges. Attaching a “love lock” to the Pont des Arts (pictured here), for example, before throwing the key into the Seine below has become a tourist tradition in recent years, but some of the bridge’s railings collapsed under the weight last year. Close to a million locks weighing 45 tons are due to be removed over the next few days.


The heads of the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank unexpectedly joined last night’s talks on the Greek debt crisis in Berlin. French President François Hollande and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who were scheduled to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel, were joined by the IMF chief Christine Lagarde and ECB chief Mario Draghi, who flew to Berlin to try to help find a way out for Greece. Meanwhile, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras says his government has submitted a draft proposal for an agreement, AP reports. Read more in our Extra! feature.


In a Le Monde editorial, Tsipras issues an ultimatum to Eurozone partners and other negotiators as his country’s debt crisis reaches a critical hour. “Today, Europe has the opportunity to make decisions that will trigger a rapid recovery of the Greek and European economy by ending Grexit scenarios, scenarios that prevent the long-term stabilization of the European economy and may, at any given time, weaken the confidence of both citizens and investors in our common currency,” he writes. “Many claim that the Greek side is not cooperating to reach an agreement because it comes to the negotiations intransigent and without proposals. … I would like to take this opportunity to present the truth, and to responsibly inform the world’s public opinion about the real intentions and positions of Greece.”

Read the full Worldcrunch translation, Greece Will Not Cede Its Democracy.


Nine people, including seven aid workers, were killed when militants attacked a guesthouse in northern Afghanistan early this morning, AFP reports. Deputy provincial Police Chief Abdul Razaq Qaderi blamed the Taliban for the attack and said two guards were among those killed. The terror group has carried out several similar attacks on foreign workers recently.



Armed tribesmen killed 18 Houthi fighters in an ambush in Yemen's central province of Ibb today, Reuters quoted local residents as saying. The attack reportedly hit a convoy of militiamen and allied army troops while they were en route to the town of Taiz in southern Yemen. The region has been a flashpoint of violent clashes between Yemen’s dominant Houthis and armed backers of exiled president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.


The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Muslim woman who was denied a job in 2008 at age 17 by an Oklahoma Abercrombie & Fitch store because she wore a headscarf for religious reasons, Reuters reports. Samantha Elauf had been rejected under Abercrombie’s “look policy” for sales staff after she came to an interview wearing a black headscarf.


Former Olympic athlete Caitlyn Jenner set a new Twitter record after attracting a million followers just four hours after opening her account yesterday. That’s faster than @POTUS.

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Iran To Offer Master's And PhD In Morality Enforcement

For those aiming to serve the Islamic Republic of Iran as experts to train the public morality agents, there are now courses to obtain the "proper" training.

Properly dressed in the holy city of Qom.

Iran will create new "master's and doctorate" programs to train state morality agents checking on people's public conduct and attire, according to several Persian-language news sources.

Mehran Samadi, a senior official of the Headquarters to Enjoin Virtues and Proscribe Vices (Amr-e be ma'ruf va nahy az monkar) said "anyone who wants to enjoin virtues must have the knowledge," the London-based broadcaster Iran International reported, citing reports from Iran.

The morality patrols, in force since the 1979 revolution, tend to focus mostly on young people and women, particularly the public appearance for the latter. Loose headscarves will send women straight to a police station, often in humiliating conditions. Five years ago, the regime announced a new force of some 7,000 additional agents checking on women's hijabs and other standards of dress and behavior.

A woman in Tehran walks past a mural of an Iranian flag

The traffic police chief recently said women were not allowed to ride motorbikes

Rouzbeh Fouladi/ZUMA

New academic discipline

Last week, for example, Tehran police revealed that they had "disciplined" agents who had been filmed forcefully shoving a girl into a van. Such incidents may increase under the new, conservative president, Ibrahim Raisi.

Speaking about the new academic discipline, Samadi said morals go "much further than headscarves and modesty," and those earning graduate degrees would teach agents "what the priorities are."

Iran's Islamic regime, under the guidance of Shia jurists, continuously fine tunes notions of "proper" conduct — and calibrates its own, interventionist authority. More recently the traffic police chief said women were not allowed to ride motorbikes, and "would be stopped," Prague-based Radio Farda reported.

Days before, a cleric in the holy city of Qom in central Iran insisted that people must be vaccinated by a medic of the same sex "as often as possible," and if not, there should be no pictures of mixed-sex vaccinations.

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