December 30, 2014
AIRASIA BODIES, DEBRIS FOUND
The Indonesian navy has located debris from the AirAsia plane that disappeared early Sunday, retrieving more than 40 bodies from the Java Sea, AFP reports. The news came as a shock to the families of the 162 passengers, who reportedly “began crying hysterically and fainting” after Indonesian television showed graphic footage of the bodies floating in the sea.
RUSSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER CONVICTED
Alexei Navalny, one of Russia’s most prominent opposition leaders, has been found guilty of embezzlement and given a three-and-a-half-year suspended sentence in a case he has repeatedly called politically motivated. His younger brother Oleg will be jailed, a sentence he described as a “disgrace.” “This is to punish me even more,” AFP quoted Navalny as saying.
INTRODUCING “ON THIS DAY”
Find out what Tiger Woods, the Soviet Union and Saddam Hussein have in common in our new daily video feature On This Day, your 57-second shot of history.
WILL PETROBRAS DEFAULT?
Brazil’s state-owned oil company Petrobras could be declared in technical default on part of its foreign debt as early as today. Its fate is in the hands of New York-based bondholders, who may decide to force the oil giant it to speed up its assessment of losses in an ongoing corruption scandal, Reuters reports. The leading investor, Aurelius Capital, had a similar role in a group that refused a debt restructuring deal with Argentina, eventually forcing the country to default. The corruption scandal is rocking the company and threatening politicians in the country’s leading parties, including President Dilma Rousseff, who was the company’s chairwoman until she took office in 2010.
MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD
THOUSANDS FLEE MALAYSIA FLOODS
Almost 250,000 people have fled their homes in Malaysia amid the worst floods in a decade, which have killed 36 people there and in neighboring Thailand, Reuters reports. The Malaysian government has been criticized for what has been perceived as a slow response to the floods, the failure to declare a state of emergency, and what an opposition member described as its "complete lack of urgency.”
As Die Welt’s Sandra Keil reports, travel for Iranians is hard, which is why the young have found that hosting foreigners via a service called Couchsurfing is a good way to explore the world vicariously. “Iran remains a difficult destination, a country with an extremely bad reputation because of its morality police and other watchdogs, not to mention its arbitrary justice system, its nuclear ambitions, its liberally applied death penalty and hostility toward Israel,” the journalist writes. “Anybody who travels there should be absolutely clear that in so doing they are supporting the regime of the mullahs. But Couchsurfing nevertheless offers rich opportunities for discovering Iran and the daily life of Iranians. And it's obviously an inexpensive way to travel. But those choosing this travel strategy should be prepared to improvise at all times.”
Read the full article, Couchsurfing In Tehran, How Foreign Crashers Let Iranians Escape.
ARAB NATIONS ENDORSE PALESTINIAN UN DRAFT
Arab UN delegations have endorsed a draft UN Security Council resolution from Palestine proposing to forge a peace deal with Israel within a year and to end occupation by 2017. AP obtained a copy of the draft and reports that it calls for an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. It’s unclear when a vote would take place, although the Palestinian UN ambassador said he was hoping it would be scheduled for today or tomorrow. U.S. officials have already said they wouldn’t support the draft resolution.
EBOLA REACHES SCOTLAND
A woman who recently returned to Glasgow, Scotland, from Sierra Leone, where was a health worker, has been diagnosed with the Ebola virus and is currently in isolation, The Scotsman reports. This is the first reported case in the UK. A second patient is being tested but is considered to be “low risk.”
“Argentina's president "adopts' godson "to prevent him becoming a werewolf"” might just be the best headline of 2014. Of course, The Guardian had to fact-check it and spoil the fun for everyone by calling it bogus.