A passenger ship with 477 people aboard sank off South Korea's southwest coast Wednesday morning
A passenger ship with 477 people aboard sank off South Korea's southwest coast Wednesday morning
Worldcrunch

UKRAINE STANDOFF CONTINUES
At least five armored vehicles flying Russian banners were reported to have entered the town of Slaviansk, north of Donetsk, as the standoff between Kiev and pro-Russian protesters continues in the eastern part of Ukraine. Although most Western media organizations initially described the vehicles as Russian, Moscow media outlets and Der Spiegel say they are in fact Ukrainian tanks and that a group of soldiers has defected to the pro-Russian side. The German magazine quotes the Ukrainian troops as saying: "We haven't had anything decent to eat for weeks. Kiev has forgotten us." Meanwhile, AFP reports that 20 pro-Russian gunmen entered the mayor’s office in Donetsk, demanding a referendum on Ukraine’s federalization.

  • The Ukrainian security service claims to have intercepted communications that show Russians commanders are controlling pro-Russian protesters in eastern Ukraine and had given them “shoot to kill” orders. This comes as Ukraine’s Interim Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk accused Russia of “exporting terrorism,” adding that “today's events are starting to endanger Europe and the European Union.” He declared that Moscow has “decided to build a new Berlin Wall and return to the Cold War era.” Read more from RTÉ.

  • In a phone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian President Vladimir Putin described Kiev’s decision to send troops east as a “sharp escalation” which puts the country “on the verge of civil war.” According to Merkel’s office, the conversation focused on the preparations for tomorrow’s planned four-way meeting in Geneva between Ukraine, Russia, the U.S. and the EU.

SOUTH KOREAN FERRY CAPSIZES
A passenger ship with 477 people aboard, mostly high school students, sank in waters off South Korea's southwest coast Wednesday morning, leaving at least two dead. Several hours after the disaster, 180 passengers had been rescued, leaving some 290 still missing. According to Korean news agency Yonhap, rescuing operations are being hampered by poor underwater visibility, while many of the people still unaccounted for are feared to be trapped inside the ship.

ISRAELI POLICE ENTER HOLY SITE TO DISPERSE PALESTINIANS
Israeli police entered the holy site of the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, known to the Jews as temple Mount, to disperse what The Times Of Israel describes as “Palestinian rioters” after they hurled stones and firecrackers, hurting one policeman, and barricaded themselves in the mosque. Ma’an news agency reports however that Israeli soldiers and policemen used stun grenades and rubber bullets, injuring some 25 protesters. According to the pro-Palestinian media, “About 100 Muslim worshipers have decided to stay inside the compound day and night after right-wing Jewish organizations urged Jews to flock to the compound which they believe is the site of a former temple and slaughter their Passover sacrifices inside.” Five people were indeed arrested on Monday for attempting to sacrifice a goat on the holy site. Here’s a recent Le Monde/Worldcrunch reportage on escalating tensions on the Temple Mount.
The latest showdown comes as three Palestinians were killed in a mysterious explosion that left another four injured.

MORE THAN 100 SCHOOLGIRLS KIDNAPPED IN NIGERIA
Gunmen suspected to be from Islamist group Boko Haram kidnapped more than 100 schoolgirls in Nigeria’s northeastern state of Borno late on Monday, just hours after the massive bombing that killed 75 people in the capital of Abuja, the newspaper Vanguard reports. According to witnesses, the gunmen stormed the local council’s headquarters, killing one security guard, and torched residential buildings and shops before fleeing. Some girls were able to escape, but the others were taken in a truck.

MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD

CHINA GROWTH SLOWS DOWN
The Chinese economy grew by 7.4% in the first quarter of 2014, its slowest pace in 18 months, down from 7.7% compared with the previous quarter, The Financial Times reports. According to the newspaper, “imports and exports have contracted” while Reuters explains that officials believe “the slowdown was an expected consequence of their reform drive, even as some analysts think the economy will lose further momentum.”

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO
Le Monde’s Piotr Smolar talks to a pro-Russian separatist in Donetsk, the eastern Ukrainian city that has become the symbol of anti-Kiev sentiment: “‘I want to live in a country that respects me,” he says. “Kiev won’t be able to reunite the whole population, that’s for sure. At least in Russia, there are people like us. Our lives wouldn’t be better with them but not worse either.’”
Read the full article here: What's Driving Pro-Russian Separatists In Donetsk.

VERBATIM
“I’m a refugee like you,” Somalian refugee children write to Syrians. Read more from the BBC.

$45 MILLION
World’s most expensive instrument on auction. Learn more about it here.

STRONG IMPRESSION
If you’ve never seen anybody do an impression of a fly, a cricket or of a velociraptor, check out this expand=1] guy’s video doing 30 animal sounds.

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Geopolitics

Ingrid Betancourt, A Hostage Heroine Reinvented As Feminist For President

Although Betancourt is best known for surviving six years as a hostage of the Colombian terror group FARC, and is considered a centrist politician, her unlikely new campaign for president will be centered on gender issues.

Betancourt in Bogota announcing her candidacy Tuesday

Chepa Beltran/LongVisual via ZUMA
Felipe García Altamar

-Analysis-

BOGOTA — Exactly 20 years after she was kidnapped by the FARC terror group in the middle of her campaign for Colombian president, Íngrid Betancourt is launching a new campaign to lead her nation. She will do so on behalf of her party, Verde Oxígeno, becoming the only female candidate from the Centro Esperanza Coalition (CCE), which for months received a barrage of criticism for grouping only male candidacies and traditional politicians.

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