FIFA TO VOTE DESPITE SCANDAL
The FIFA congress opened this morning as expected, and the 209 members will decide later today whether to give a record fifth term to embattled President Sepp Blatter amid the media storm resulting from a massive corruption scandal that also threatens to entangle Nike. According to The Guardian, the 79-year-old is expected to defeat his only rival, Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan, despite Wednesday’s arrests of seven FIFA officials and worldwide calls for him to go.
- In his opening speech, Blatter seemed to ignore calls for his resignation and said that FIFA was “going through troubling times” but that he would try “to lift that shadow.” Speaking about the widespread corruption unveiled over recent years and especially since Wednesday’s high-profile arrests for bribery and corruption, he said these were the doings of “certain individuals” and not the entire organization. “You can't just ask people to behave ethically just like that,” he said.
- Commenting on the arrests of senior FIFA officials and sport marketing executives, Blatter suggested this was done to damage his hopes of reelection. “It is not good for all this to occur two days before the election. I’m not going to use the word coincidence, but I do have a small question mark.” He went further and hinted that the choice of Russia and Qatar as hosts for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to the detriment of, among others, England and the U.S., might have played a role in the joint U.S.-Swiss investigation. “If two other countries had emerged from the envelope, I think we would not have had these problems.”
- Blatter was interrupted pro-Palestinian protesters waving red cards and chanting “Israel out!” FIFA is expected to vote on a Palestinian motion asking for Israel to be expelled from the organization. Read more from The Times of Israel.
- For more world coverage on this far-reaching scandals, check out our exclusive roundup, FIFA v. World: Global Press Reacts To Soccer Scandal.
The relationship between Germany and Google continues to deteriorate, the German weekly Stern writes in this week's edition, with the cover headline, “The Secret World of Google.” Read more in our Extra! feature.
AL-QAEDA GAINS IN SYRIA
Rebel groups led by the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front have taken Syrian loyalists’ last stronghold in the Idlib governorate, AFP quoted the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights as saying. But according to the BBC, the Syrian army said intense fighting was still ongoing.
- At least 10 people were killed in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad after car bombs exploded in the parking lots of two five-star hotels. The blasts also wounded 30 people.
What’s the world’s worst performing economy? It’s neither Greece nor Ukraine. It’s Macau. The former Portuguese colony, often characterized as “China’s gambling capital,” has seen its GDP fall by 24.5% in the first quarter.
This La Stampa/Worldcrunch piece, How China's Corrupt Are Making Macau Rich, has more about the small peninsula.
CAMERON IN GERMANY
New re-elected Prime Minister David Cameron continues his “whistle-stop tour of Europe” to launch his bid to negotiate new terms for Britain’s EU membership. Next up for the Conservative leader is Germany, where he’ll meet Chancellor Angela Merkel whose backing will be “crucial,” the BBC says. But convincing France might be a trickier job. Before his visit to the Élysée Palace yesterday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told France Inter that Paris would not agree to grant Britain “special status.”
“It is very unlikely that we’ll reach a comprehensive solution in the coming days,” International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde told Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, pouring cold water on a potential deal with Greece. She didn’t rule out the possibility of a “Grexit” from the eurozone, though she insisted it’s something that “nobody in the EU wishes to happen.” Meanwhile, Greek banks reported that people had withdrawn 5.6 billion euros from the country’s bank accounts last month, bringing deposits to their lowest level in a decade.
RUSSIA EXPANDS STATE SECRECY
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree to expand dramatically state secrecy, making it illegal to “speak, write or broadcast about Russian troop losses in peacetime,” the Financial Times reports. Critics fear this will make it even more difficult to report Russian deaths in Ukraine, as Moscow continues to deny that some of its troops are fighting in the conflict.
J.P. MORGAN PLANS LAYOFFS
J.P. Morgan, the largest U.S. bank, has begun layoffs expected to total more than 5,000 by next year as part of what The Wall Street Journal says is “a broader industry move toward Internet and mobile banking.” In the last quarter of 2014, the bank reported losses of $1 billion after it was slapped with several hefty fines.
While the average Dane generates more than 10 tons of CO2 each year, a resident on the Danish island of Samso actually spares the planet three, Le Monde’s Pierre Le Hir writes. The island has changed its fate by investing in wind, sun, wood and straw. “Jorgen Tranberg, who owns a herd of highland cattle — mountain cows with long horns and thick fleece — has a stunning view of his own private wind turbine, which captures wind as well as profits, in the middle of his rapeseed field,” Hir writes. “He bought it for 800,000 euros and spent double that to acquire half of a sea turbine. ‘When you spend so much money, it’s not just for love of nature,’ he says. ‘By selling my electricity, I repaid my costs in seven years. It’s a good business. And it’s better to produce our energy ourselves than to depend on Russia for gas or the Middle East for petrol.’”
Read the full article, In Denmark, The World's First Self-Sufficient Green Island.
ON THIS DAY
New Zealand mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary and his sherpa Tenzing Norgay became the first people ever to reach the summit of Nepal’s Mount Everest 62 years ago today. Time for your 57-second shot of history.
DEATH TOLL RISES WITH UNABATED INDIA HEAT
At least 1,800 people have died because of India’s heat wave, and forecasters fear the devastating temperatures across the country could last for another week, The Hindustan Times reports. Hospitals are overwhelmed with patients complaining of headaches and dizziness, and authorities have cancelled doctors’ leaves to meet the surging demand. The temperatures are so extreme that a road in Delhi has started to melt.
MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD
CHINA BUILDS UP MILITARY ON MAN-MADE ISLANDS
U.S. surveillance imagery published yesterday shows that China is building up its military presence in the South China Sea by installing weaponry on the artificial islands it is building in contested territory, The Wall Street Journal reports. This comes days after Beijing filed a complaint over a U.S. spy plane that flew over areas that China claims as its own. Responding to U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s comments that Chinese actions would unite other southeast Asian countries against Beijing, the Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece Global Times wrote, “Washington is taking a dangerous gamble in the South China Sea.” It warned that despite America’s “dangerous provocation, China won’t dance to the rhythm of the U.S.”
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, YOUTUBE
It’s been 10 years since YouTube came into our lives. Here’s expand=1] a musical tribute that reminds us of notable viral moments in its short history.