TOLL OF CHINESE SHIPWRECK CLIMBS
Hopes of finding survivors of China’s shipwreck were fading Wednesday, after a total 14 survivors were rescued from the Eastern Star, the cruise ship carrying 456 that sank Monday night in China's Yangtze River after a storm hit. So far, 19 bodies have been recovered, leaving more than 420 people unaccounted for, most of whom are by now feared dead.
Zhang Hui, a rescued 43-year-old tourist guide, told news agency Xinhua: "Just after that I told my colleague: "We are in big trouble, the ship overturned." It all went really fast. I had time only to grab a life jacket and climb out of the window." See the coverage in Beijing Evening News thanks to our Extra! feature here.
GREECE WARNS IT WON’T PAY IMF
Athens has warned the International Monetary Fund that it won’t make a $335 million payment this Friday without a prospect of a deal with international creditors, Reuters reports. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is due to travel to Brussels today where he’ll meet with the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker to discuss a recently proposed cash-for-reform plan, which includes painful concessions. Read more from The Guardian.
ON THIS DAY
Happy birthday Rafael Nadal — and good luck for today’s match! Check out what else happened today thanks to your 57-second shot of history.
IS PLATINI CLEAN ENOUGH TO SUCCEED BLATTER?
The soccer world is waking up to the prospect of a future without longtime FIFA boss Sepp Blatter, who announced his resignation late Tuesday after 17 years atop the sport’s governing border. The move came as a surprise, just days after Blatter was reelected for a fifth term, and as reports emerge that the 79-year-old is the subject of a U.S. federal investigation. Former French champion Michel Platini, who heads Europe’s soccer organization UEFA, is among the favorites to succeed Blatter, despite being involved in a scandal of his own with corruption allegations relating to the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.
MEXICO ELECTION CANDIDATE KILLED
Mexican congressional candidate Miguel Angel Luna was shot dead by gunmen yesterday at his campaign offices near Mexico City ahead of Sunday’s midterm elections, El Economista reports. Noting that more than 30 people linked to politics in one form or another have been murdered over the past few months, journalist Bibiana Belsasso writes in newspaper La Razón that it appears “impossible that there can be such criminal presence without collaboration from local authorities, from mayors to the police.” She concludes that impunity and corruption are the “common denominator” in this spate of violence.
Writing in Italy’s La Stampa, veteran “Vaticanista” Andrea Tornielli lays out the reasons why no one should expect Pope Francis to back gay marriage rights, despite thoughtful words earlier in his papacy about gay people’s place in the Church. “Viewpoints on the question of gay marriage come in many different shades, but everyone wants to know the thoughts of one person in particular: Pope Francis. After all, he said last summer, "If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and goodwill, who am I to judge?" Ideological interpretations on both sides forget that the pope's welcoming of gay people in line with the Catechism of the Catholic Church is one thing, and that the approval of gay marriage is another.”
Read the full article, Why Pope Francis Will Never Support Gay Marriage.
PATRIOT ACT GIVE WAYS TO “USA FREEDOM ACT”
As expected, the Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor of the USA Freedom Act which restores crucial sections of the Patriot Act that expired at midnight Sunday. Most importantly for privacy supporters, the bill also puts an end to the bulk collection of phone data, which is just one of the many spying programs revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden in the last two years. Writing for The Intercept, journalist Dan Froomkin hails the vote but says the USA Freedom Act is “a low bar.”
SAUDI ARABIA TO BOOST DEFENSE SPENDING
Despite the recent fall in oil prices, Saudi Arabia’s defense spending is expected to rise from its current $49 billion per year to $60 billion by 2020, making it the world’s fifth-biggest arms buyer, according to IHS Jane’s estimates. Airstrikes from the Saudi-led Sunni coalition meanwhile continue to hit Yemen, with Reuters reporting that the Yemeni capital Sanaa was targeted early Wednesday.
As candidates are starting to line up for the 2016 White House race, a CBS/New York Times poll found that 84% of Americans believe money has “too much influence” on political campaigns.
NASA’S FLYING SAUCER
Weather permitting, NASA will test today its Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator, a somewhat unsexy name for a flying-saucer-like spacecraft.
MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD
Chimps have all the cognitive skills required to cook, a scientific study found. But don’t expect to see a Michelin-starred chimp chef anytime soon: their inability to control fire or to trust other chimps with their own food means this basic mental capacity is unlikely to actually be developed.