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The Latest: Polls open in Czech Republic, centrists seek win
The Latest on the four-day voting in the European Union to fill the 751-seat European Parliament (all times local): 2:50 p.m. Polls have opened for the European Parliament elections in the Czech Republic, with a centrist party led by populist Prime Minister Andrej Babis expected to win despite the fraud charges he faces involving European Union funds. The Czechs on Friday opened their two-day ballot for their country's 21 seats in the 751-seat European Parliament. Voters in the Netherlands and Britain on Thursday kicked off four days of voting across the 28-nation bloc. Babis' ANO (YES) movement is predicted to win up to 25% of the vote, followed by the moderate euroskeptic Civic Democratic Party and the pro-European Pirate party. Babis wants his country to remain in the bloc but is calling for EU reforms. The country's most ardent anti-EU group, the Freedom and Direct Democracy party, is predicted to win around 10% of the vote and capture its first seats in the EU legislature. ——— 1 p.m. Protesters are holding rallies in several European Union countries to demand tougher action against global warming, as the 28-nation bloc votes to fill the European Parliament. Thousands attended a rally Friday in Berlin, where mostly young people waved banners with slogans such as "There is no planet B" or "Plant trees, save the bees, clean the seas." Many protesters will be too young to vote when Germans cast ballots Sunday in the European Parliament election, but are pressing family and older friends to consider the world's long-term future. Clara Kirchhoff said the election for the EU's 751-seat assembly was particularly important for tackling climate change on a continental level. The 17-year-old says "there's no point in Germany doing a lot for the climate and others not pulling their weight ——— 8 a.m. Ireland is going to the polls to kick off the second day of European Union elections which have already caused a stir in the Netherlands. According to a surprise Ipsos exit forecast late Thursday, the Dutch Labor Party of European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans will become the country's biggest party in the European Parliament. Britain also voted on Thursday, and in neighboring Ireland polls opened Friday morning. The Czech Republic was set to open two days of voting in the early afternoon. By Sunday night, all 28 nations will have voted and results will start to come in. The vote is seen as a battle between pro-EU parties and those who seek to wrest power from the EU and back to national capitals. 12:01 a.m. Pro-European Dutch parties were predicted to win most of the country's seats in the European Parliament, with right-wing populist opponents of the European Union managing to take only four of the nation's 26 seats. In a surprise forecast, the Dutch Labor Party of European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans on Thursday became the country's biggest party in the 751-seat European Parliament, according to an Ipsos
Sudan protesters threaten military with civil disobedience
Sudan's protesters are threatening a civil disobedience campaign if the ruling military refuses to hand over power to civilians. The threat comes after a two-day strike meant to pressure the military showed no tangible effects. The coalition representing the protesters and opposition groups — known as Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change — claims the strike was a success. It also chastised the security forces for intimidating the strikers by firing warning shots. Gunfire killed a female street vendor late on Wednesday. Saddiq Farouk, head of the Sudanese Professional Association that's been behind the protests that drove longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir from power last month, said the military's stand would lead to "more escalation." Negotiations between the protesters and the military about the handover of power have stalled.
The Latest: UN envoy: Illegal Israel settlements advancing
The Latest on tensions between Israel and the Palestinians (all times local): 12:30 a.m. The U.N. Mideast envoy says Israel has taken "no steps" to stop illegal settlement activity as demanded by the Security Council and instead is moving ahead on nearly 6,000 housing units in the West Bank and east Jerusalem since late March. Nikolay Mladenov told the Security Council Thursday "this constitutes the largest settlement advancement in two years." A December 2016 council resolution condemned Israeli settlements in lands the Palestinians want to include in their future state saying they have "no legal validity." It demanded a halt to such activities for the sake of "salvaging the two-state solution." Mladenov said settlement expansion also constitutes "a flagrant violation of international law." He warned that unilateral annexation of all or parts of the West Bank would be "devastating" to the two-state solution. ——— 3 p.m. Hamas' chief Ismail Haniyeh on Thursday accused Israel of dragging its feet in carrying out its obligations under an indirect cease-fire for the Gaza Strip, saying the fragile deal was in danger of collapsing. Speaking to international journalists, Haniyeh said the 2 million residents of Gaza "have not felt" any improvement in their living condition, despite what he said were Israeli pledges to ease a crippling blockade on the territory. The unofficial truce was brokered by Egypt, Qatar and the U.N. after a round of heavy fighting in May. "The understanding (is) in the danger zone because (Israel) doesn't implement its obligations and deals with them with mood swings," Haniyeh told reporters in Gaza City in a two-hour meeting organized by the Jerusalem-based Foreign Press Association. He called the deal "wobbly." Israel declined to comment on the accusation. Israel and Egypt imposed the blockade after the Islamic militant group violently seized control of the coastal Palestinian enclave in 2007. Israel considers Hamas a terrorist group and says the blockade is needed to keep the group from arming. Haniyeh acknowledged that outcomes of the closures were "disastrous" in terms of travel restrictions, unemployment and shortage of power and clean water. He accused Israel and the rival Palestinian Authority in the West Bank of compounding the problem. Asked why Hamas won't talk directly to Israel for a better chance to implement the deal, Haniyeh said his group, which was founded on the goal of destroying Israel, has "obstructive lines on talking directly to the Israeli occupation." "Negotiations between you and your enemy in principle is not a mistake, but at this time, with these conditions, it's a national crime if you do it," he said. He said the Palestinian Authority's 25 years of one-off talks with Israel had resulted in more Israeli settlement in the West Bank and failed to grant the Palestinians an independent state. With conditions worsening, Hamas has staged mass protests along Gaza-Israel frontier since Marc
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Explosion on a street corner in Lyon, France, leaves 8 with minor injuries
An explosion in the French city of Lyon on Friday left eight people with minor injuries, local officials said on social media. The blast occurred at the corner of Victor Hugo Street and Sala Street, and authorities are urging people to avoid the area. The New York Police Department's counter-terrorism division said in a message on Twitter that they were "closely monitoring" the incident and "reports of a package explosion." In January, a science building at the University of Lyon in France caught on fire after three gas cylinders on the roof of the building exploded, injuring three students, but officials said the incident was not tied to terrorism. This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.
Michael Gove enters Conservative race to succeed Theresa May
British Environment Secretary Michael Gove has entered the crowded race to succeed Prime Minister Theresa May, who is stepping down as Conservative Party leader on June 7. Gove said Sunday that "I can confirm that I will be putting my name forward to be prime minister of this country." A party leadership campaign will officially begin after May quits, but already eight contenders have said they will run. The winner will be selected by Conservative lawmakers and about 120,000 party members, and will automatically become prime minister. May announced her departure Friday, admitting defeat in her three-year quest to deliver Brexit. The leadership contest is dominated by candidates vowing to take Britain out of the European Union on Oct. 31 even if there is no deal. Most businesses and economists think that would plunge Britain into recession.
Sweden won't appeal decision not to arrest Assange
A Swedish prosecutor won't appeal a decision not to detain WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is now jailed in Britain and suspected of rape in Sweden. Deputy Chief Prosecutor Eva-Marie Persson said Thursday she planned to carry out "certain supplementary questioning," but didn't elaborate. Earlier this month, a Swedish court ruled that Assange should not be detained, meaning that while a preliminary investigation in Sweden shouldn't be abandoned, he wouldn't be extradited and could be questioned in Britain. In April, Assange was evicted from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London where he had been holed up since 2012. He was immediately arrested and is currently serving a 50-week sentence in Britain for jumping bail in 2012. He is also fighting extradition to the U.S., which accuses him of publishing secret documents.
Afghan official: Gunmen hit Kabul checkpoint, kill 3 police
An Afghan official says gunmen stormed a checkpoint in Kabul, killing at least three police officers. Kabul police spokesman Basir Mujahid says three other policemen were wounded in Sunday night's attack on the outskirt of the city. He added that the attackers first threw hand grenades then opened fire on the police in the city's Doghabad area. Separately, a provincial official in southern Helmand province says at least seven civilians were killed in an airstrike as Afghan forces battled the Taliban late Sunday. Provincial council chief Attahullah Afghan says three civilians were also wounded in the attack in Greshk district. Afghan says a gunbattle was underway with the Taliban at that time and that the incident is under investigation. It's unclear who carried out the strike, U.S. or Afghan forces.
Former President Jimmy Carter receives statesmanship award
Former President Jimmy Carter is being recognized for his contributions to relations between the U.S. and China. The George H. W. Bush Foundation for U.S. China Relations says Carter will receive the inaugural George H. W. Bush Award for Statesmanship in U.S.-China Relations. The foundation said in a statement Thursday that the award goes to people who have made "profound contributions to the development of constructive and mutually beneficial relations" between the U.S and the People's Republic of China. A private award ceremony is scheduled June 12 at the Carter Center in Atlanta. Emory University in Atlanta this week announced that the 94-year-old former president was granted tenure there. Carter has served as University Distinguished Professor at Emory for 37 years. Carter, a former Georgia governor, was president from 1977-1981.
Views: 10 World News Express
Greek government sets national election date for July 7
The Greek government has set July 7, a week later than expected, as the date for early parliamentary elections. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called the early election after his party's heavy defeat in the weekend's European parliamentary polls. Government spokesman Dimitris Tzannakopoulos said Tuesday the decision was taken to not disrupt school-leavers' university entry exams that would have been affected by a June 30 date, the earliest allowed under Greece's electoral system. Tsipras announced after the European parliamentary vote Sunday that he would seek the dissolution of parliament after Greece's second round of regional and municipal elections on June 2. Tsipras' current four-year term expires in October. His left-wing Syriza party trailed opposition conservative New Democracy by 9.4 percentage points in the May 26 vote.
Istanbul's candidates in re-run of mayoral election
A look at the two main candidates running for mayor of Istanbul in Sunday's repeat election. The re-run follows an election board decision to annul the results of the March 31 local elections in the country's largest city, which the opposition won by a narrow margin. The board ruled in favor of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's governing party. EKREM IMAMOGLU A newcomer to mainstream politics, Ekrem Imamoglu's election slogan of "Everything will be great!" has dented the dominance of Erdogan. The 49-year-old served as mayor of Istanbul for just 18 days before his stunning election win in March was annulled and his mandate was revoked by the country's election commission over what it said were irregularities. Backed by the secular Republican People's Party, CHP, and a nationalist ally, Imamoglu has kept up his enthusiastic campaign momentum, describing his effort as a fight for Turkish democracy. Opinion polls show that he's ahead. Being mayor of Istanbul could provide the perfect launchpad for him to challenge Erdogan in the presidential elections set for 2023. "This election is to repair — to heal — the suppression democracy," he told The Associated Press in an interview this week. "God willing, the victors will be Istanbul and democracy." Imamoglu, a soft-spoken former contractor and district mayor, has promised to end divisions in Turkey and has pledged to be mayor to all of Istanbul's 15 million residents. He has also vowed to expose alleged corruption in a city administration led by Erdogan's party and a predecessor Islamist party over 25 years — arguing that an inner circle of backers became rich while inadequate social policies failed to lift a quarter of Istanbul residents out of poverty. With Turkey's media almost entirely dominated by pro-government outlets, Imamoglu has led a grassroots campaign, walking the streets of Istanbul to reach out to voters. BINALI YILDIRIM The pro-government candidate Binali Yildirim has run a mild-mannered campaign focusing on his achievements as prime minister and transport minister. His slogan: "We did it and we'll do it again." The 63-year-old has struggled to explain the need for a re-run. At first, it was "because they stole it." Since rowing back on that comment, he's been stressing the need for a clear outcome. Hand-picked by Erdogan's Justice and Development Party, AKP, Yildirim has often appeared a reluctant candidate despite the heavy promotion. His main challenge has been to rally government supporters during Turkey's economic slump, rising food prices, and controversy surrounding the re-run. "Because we are deciding on the future of the city, I want (the people) to go to the ballot box," he told the AP during a brief interview. "Istanbul is a very important city ... We have a lot of important things to do for Istanbul." As a former transport minister, Yildirim has pointed at his record of improving Istanbul infrastructure and services and has pledged uninterrupted service to Istanb
Views: 10 World News Express
The Latest: Tanker crew land in Dubai after 2 days in Iran
The Latest on developments in the Persian Gulf (all times local): 9:20 p.m. Crew members of the Norwegian-owned oil tanker that was attacked in the Gulf of Oman have landed in Dubai after two days in Iran. Associated Press journalists saw the crew members of the MT Front Altair on Saturday night after their Iran Air flight from Bandar Abbas, Iran, landed in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. The Front Altair caught fire after the attack Thursday, sending a thick cloud of black smoke visible even by satellite from space. The U.S. has blamed Iran for the attack, saying they suspect another limpet mine attack on oil tankers by Iran. Tehran has denied being involved and accused America of promoting an "Iranophobic" campaign against it. ——— 6:20 p.m. The United Arab Emirates' top diplomat says evidence his country possesses indicates that recent attacks against oil tankers inside UAE waters were "state-sponsored." Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in Cyprus on Saturday, didn't name the state, but said his country wants to work with other nations to prevent a further escalation of tensions in the region. On Friday, the U.S. military released video footage it said suggested that Iran wanted to hide evidence that it was behind the attacks. Iran has denied involvement. Al Nahyan said after talks with Cypriot counterpart Nikos Christodoulides on Saturday that the U.A.E. presented this evidence to the U.N. Security Council in a "very technical, open and transparent" manner. He said the UAE's conclusion is that these were "state-sponsored attacks."
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California governor pardons 2 ex-refugees facing deportation
Two former Cambodian refugees facing deportation for crimes committed as young adults were among seven people granted clemency Monday by California Gov. Gavin Newsom in his first pardons since taking office in January. Newsom pardoned Kang Hen, of San Jose, who pleaded guilty to being the getaway driver during an attempted armed robbery in 1994. Hen, who was brought to the U.S. when he was 9, surrendered to immigration authorities April 1 after he was notified he was wanted for deportation. The governor, a Democrat, also issued a pardon for Hay Hov, of Oakland, who was convicted of solicitation to commit murder and participation in a street gang in 2001. Hov, a naturalized citizen, was taken into custody by immigration officials in March. Both men immigrated to the U.S. lawfully as children. They petitioned Newsom for pardons, saying they have moved past their troubled youth to become respectable men with jobs and families. Pardons don't automatically halt deportation proceedings, but they eliminate the criminal conviction judges often base their decisions on, according to the governor's office. In Hen's case, a pardon may eventually allow him to stay in the U.S. Hov, whose green card was recently re-instated by a judge, is no longer at risk of deportation. "Both men have young children, are the primary income provider for their families, and provide care to relatives living with chronic health conditions," the governor's office said in a statement. "Their deportation would be an unjust collateral consequence that would harm their families and communities." The pardons are a rebuke to President Donald Trump's administration, which has cracked down on immigrants who committed crimes. Since Trump took office, a large number of people have been detained and deported to Cambodia, according to advocates. Newsom's predecessor, Gov. Jerry Brown, pardoned five Cambodian refugees who faced deportation last year. Newsom on Monday also pardoned five other people who had convictions more than 15 years old — including business owners, students and at least one grandparent, the governor's office said. Their crimes ranged from forgery to drug-related offenses. None of those pardoned had multiple felonies and all had completed their sentences, Newsom's office said. Newsom's highest profile use of his clemency powers came in March, when he placed a moratorium on executions for the 737 people on California's death row. His action temporarily halted the death penalty in the state.
Views: 10 World News Express
Family, lawyer say Egypt has rearrested Al-Jazeera reporter
The family and lawyer of Al-Jazeera journalist Mahmoud Hussein, who was ordered released last week after more than two years in detention on accusations of spreading false news, say he's been rearrested. Under Egyptian procedure and following last week's order, Hussein had been transferred from jail to a police station to await his release. But his lawyer, Gama Eid, said on Wednesday that instead of being freed, Hussein was apparently ordered detained again in a separate case. Eid says he doesn't know what the new charges are. Hussein's family says the new case dates from last year, when he was already in detention. Hussein, an Egyptian working for the Qatar-based satellite network, was detained at the Cairo airport in December 2016, when he arrived on a family vacation from Doha.
14 lions escape from world-famous game reserve
South African authorities are trying to recapture a pride of 14 lions that escaped from world-famous Kruger National Park this week. The group of lions has been spotted roaming near a mine in the Limpopo Province, prompting warnings from local officials. "Employees at Foskor Mine and members of the public are hereby advised to be alert at all times," the government warned. Rangers are monitoring the animals, and will release them back into the park after they’ve been captured Kruger National Park is one of the biggest game reserves in Africa, covering an area of 7,523 square miles. The area is largely fenced off, and it is unclear how the lions managed to slip out of the park unnoticed. News of the lions' escape comes just one day after a leopard killed a 2-year-old boy at Kruger National Park. The leopard managed to gain entry into the fenced-off staff quarters and attacked the child before it was shot and killed by rangers.
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Campaign chaos sows disillusion ahead of Guatemala vote
The road to Sunday's presidential election in Guatemala has been a chaotic flurry of court rulings and shenanigans, illegal party-switching and allegations of malfeasance that torpedoed the candidacies of two of the top three candidates. Observers say the result is widespread disillusion and distrust in the electoral process in this small Central American country that has seen hundreds of thousands flee poverty and gang violence in recent years in a bid for a new life in the United States. Polls favor former first lady Sandra Torres of the National Unity and Hope party to finish first, but with 19 candidates in the race it is unlikely she will win the absolute majority necessary to avoid a runoff. Torres, 64, is a businesswoman who was seen as influencing decision-making during the 2008-2012 government of her then-husband, Álvaro Colom. She served as coordinator of the Council on Social Cohesion, an entity that was replaced by the Ministry of Social Development under Colom's successor. But she has not been immune to the scandals that have hit other campaigns, with prosecutors opening an investigation into alleged illicit campaign financing involving her party. The case has not moved forward because candidates are protected from prosecution, and a judge denied a request to have that lifted for Torres, citing a law that targets violence against women. Three other candidates were kicked off the ballot amid graft investigations, most notably former Chief Prosecutor Thelma Aldana. She gained international attention for leading anti-corruption investigations in tandem with a U.N. commission. Another candidate was barred from running based on a law that prohibits the election of relatives of former leaders. Aldana's supporters see her removal as a signal that corrupt elites feared the prospect of her presidency. Observers, and voters themselves, say the result of the chaotic campaign has been near universal cynicism. "I don't trust any of them," said Paula Cojolón, a 58-year-old domestic worker. Among the candidates seeking to make it through to an Aug. 11 runoff are Alejandro Giammattei, a four-time presidential candidate and ex-prisons director; Roberto Arzú, a businessman and son of a former president; Edmond Mulet, a former congressman, ambassador to the U.S. and U.N. official; and Thelma Cabrera, the only indigenous woman in the race, and the lone top five candidate who is not running with a conservative party. Guatemalans are predominantly concerned about unemployment, violence, corruption, rising costs of living and the shoddy state of the country's highways. Outgoing President Jimmy Morales has not found answers during his four-year administration, and there's plenty of skepticism that anyone on the ballot will do any better. "If I don't have work, I don't eat. Nobody helps," Cojolón said. "The candidates, no, they all offer things but nobody follows through." Three of the last four elected presidents — including Colom, Torres' ex-h
This is how big holes form in Antarctic ice
This is an Inside Science story. (Inside Science) -- By analyzing data from seaborne robots and sensors glued onto seals, researchers may now understand the mysterious origins of giant holes that can open up in Antarctic sea ice, a new study finds. A polynya -- a Russian word that roughly means "hole in the ice" -- can form off the coast of Antarctica and last for weeks to months, acting as a refuge where penguins, whales and seals can pop up and breathe. The biggest known polynyas in the winter sea ice of Antarctica's Weddell Sea appeared soon after the first satellites were launched, with an area the size of New Zealand remaining ice-free through three consecutive winters from 1974 to 1976, despite air temperatures far below freezing. The rarity of big polynyas in Antarctic waters meant that little was known about how these holes could form amid the bitter cold. But in 2016, a big polynya emerged for the first time in decades, one 33,000 square kilometers that remained open for three weeks. An even larger 50,000-square-kilometer polynya appeared in September and October of 2017. Scientists examined decades of satellite images of sea ice cover and data from Antarctic weather stations, and gathered data from robots drifting in Southern Ocean currents and even sensors epoxied onto elephant seals. They found these polynyas formed when the frigid surface water was also especially salty. This salinity made it denser and therefore more likely to mix with similarly salty and dense deeper water. Intense storms that swirled over the Weddell Sea with almost hurricane-force winds those years churned relatively warm water from the deep ocean upward, melting ice and opening up polynyas in the sea ice. When this water cooled off, it became denser and more likely to sink. Warmer water welled up from below to replace it, creating a circulation of warmth that kept the polynyas open. "The deep ocean is generally a quiet place where changes happen slowly, but we find that it was stirred vigorously during these relatively brief polynya events," said study lead author Ethan Campbell, a physical oceanographer at the University of Washington in Seattle. Under climate change, freshwater from melting Antarctic ice sheets would make the Southern Ocean's surface waters less dense, which might lead to fewer polynyas in the future. On the other hand, many climate models suggest the winds circling Antarctica will become stronger and draw closer to its coast, which might encourage more polynyas to form. The scientists detailed their findings online June 10 in the journal Nature. Inside Science is an editorially-independent nonprofit print, electronic and video journalism news service owned and operated by the American Institute of Physics.
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Brazil's Odebrecht files for bankruptcy protection
Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht filed for bankruptcy protection Monday to restructure $13 billion in debt, worn down after spending five years at the center of one of the world's largest corruption investigations. Odebrecht said in a statement that it and its subsidiaries would continue operating normally during the debt restructuring, which is one of the largest ever filed in Brazil. The company lamented its demise from employing 180,000 people five years ago, to just 48,000 employees, which it called "the consequence of an economic crisis ... the impact on a reputation because of mistakes made, and the difficulty that companies have getting credit and new contracts after collaborating with the judiciary." The request for bankruptcy protection does not include several Odebrecht subsidiaries like petrochemical producers Braskem S.A., Odebrecht Engineering and Construction, oil producers Ocyan, Odebrecht Transport S.A., shipmakers Enseanada S.A., Odebrecht Insurance Brokers, the Odebrecht Pension Fund, the Odebrecht Foundation non-profit, and sugar and ethanol producers Atvos Agroindustrial S.A., which already has a separate bankruptcy protection. Odebrecht has been at the center of Operation Car Wash, the country's largest-ever corruption investigation that revealed a kickback scheme between politicians and construction firms that had become systematic in Brazil. Odebrecht and other construction companies formed what was essentially a cartel to distribute construction contracts with the government, which would funnel back a percentage into politician's pockets. The company used bribes to secure billions in lucrative government contracts in Brazil and throughout Latin America. "Once Odebrecht's corruption came to light, the tentacles were so widespread that it was inevitable that this company wouldn't hold itself together," said Monica De Bolle, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. In December 2016, Odebrecht and one of its petrochemical subsidiaries pled guilty and settled with authorities in the U.S., Brazil and Switzerland on a $3.5-billion fine. Marcelo Odebrecht, Odebrecht's former CEO and member of the company's founding family, was sentenced to 19 years in jail in 2015. In 2017 his sentenced was reduced and he was transferred to house arrest. De Bolle says that Odebrecht has been in a steady downfall since Operation Car Wash got underway and is a contributing factor to Brazil's 2015- 2016 recession and subsequent sluggish recovery. "A big part of the recession has to do with the paralysis of the construction sector and a lot of that was because of Odebrecht. We may have seen the worst effect of this already but filing for bankruptcy protection signals that we're not going to see the kind of recovery some people were expecting," De Bolle said.
American recalls 'unnerving' sight of dead climbers on Mount Everest
It was an unforgettable sight as Ed Dohring made his way to the top of Mount Everest for the first time a few days ago. It was clear and the rising sun cast an orange glow over the world's tallest peak. But as he stood on the flat part of the 29,000-foot summit, a spot Dohring described as about the size of two Ping-Pong tables, there was another 15 to 20 people jostling for the perfect angle to take a photo. "I several times was elbowed, pushed aside, shoved," Dohring, a 62-year-old spine surgeon from Arizona, told ABC News in an interview Tuesday at a hotel in Kathmandu, Nepal. "It was scary because, if you lose your footing, potentially you're going to slide off the summit." “After about 20 minutes I said, 'OK, this is enough.'” As this year's climbing season draws to a close, overcrowding has been blamed in part for one of Everest's deadliest seasons on record. Dohring, who scaled the mountain's popular south slope on Nepal's side with a small group of other climbers and a veteran Sherpa guide, said that he passed the bodies of several dead climbers. Among them, was a woman who appeared to have just died and was still clipped to the safety line. He also saw Sherpas dragging several people down the mountain who had collapsed from exhaustion, were sick or injured. “You can’t do anything about a person who’s dead and it just -- it shook me inside," Dohring told ABC News. “It was unexpected. I mean, I know people die on Everest. But as you’re moving along the safety line and it’s dark and you’re only seeing a few feet in front of you and all of a sudden that circle of illumination has a dead body in it, it’s very unnerving.” One of the climbers in Dohring's group, Chris Kulish, a 62-year-old lawyer from Colorado, died after returning to the camp below the peak. He's the eleventh person to die climbing Everest in 2019. Dohring, who said he got to know Kulish on the perilous trek, described him as a "very experienced climber" and "very fit," which is why the news of his death came as a shock. Kulish had completed the Seven Summits -- the tallest mountains on all seven continents -- by scaling Everest, according to his family. "I was shocked because I knew how fit he was and how experienced he was," Dohring told ABC News while holding back tears. "He was all the way back down to camp four, so he had done the hard prat of the round trip. But I mean, we don't know what happened. All I can say is we've lost a really good human being." Dohring is an experienced mountaineer himself and spent months training to pre-acclimatize to Everest's high-altitude. He said his group didn't come across crowds of other climbers on the ascent until after reaching an area called the Balcony, at 27,000 feet. "We started getting into where the crowds were, and at that point you have to stop periodically," Dohring told ABC News. "You might actually be standing still for 15 to 20 minutes. Once you're standing still, you stop generating heat." The overcrowd
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Pope laments 'culture of insults,' decries church propaganda
Pope Francis on Sunday lamented what he called a "culture of insults" enabled by social media and warned against nationalism and other "exclusivist ideas" that he said contrast with a Christian mission to foster harmony. In his homily during Pentecost Mass Sunday in St. Peter's Square, Francis also decried that "the more we use social media, the less social we are becoming." "In today's world, lack of harmony has led to stark divisions," Francis said. "There are those who have too much and those who have nothing, those who want to live to a hundred and those who cannot even be born." He warned of the temptation to cling to "our little group, to the things and people we like," concluding that it's only a "small step from a nest to a sect, even within the church." The pope said that "nowadays it is fashionable to hurl adjectives and, sadly, even insults" in what's tantamount to "a culture of insults." He recommended responding "to malice with goodness, to shouting with silence, to gossip with prayer, to defeatism with encouragement." He also warned against the Catholic church's neglecting its mission to spread joy, instead becoming an organization with propaganda as its mission. The Vatican after Mass released a papal message about the church's mission in the world. In it, Francis echoed a call a century ago by Pope Benedict XV, right after the devastation of World War I, for "an end to all forms of nationalism and ethnocentrism." He also cited a reminder by that same pope that "the church's universal mission requires setting aside exclusivist ideas of membership in one's own country and ethnic group." Said Francis as he defined the church's mission today: "No one ought to remain closed in self-absorption." ——— Frances D'Emilio is on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/fdemilio
Hong Kong traffic flowing day after political crisis flared
Traffic was restored in the heart of Hong Kong on Thursday following violent clashes the day before between police and protesters who oppose legislation that would allow criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial. The events in the former British colony mark possibly its biggest political crisis since its handover to Chinese rule in 1997, and pose a profound challenge to Chinese president and head of the ruling Communist Party Xi Jinping. Nearly two years ago, Xi issued a stern address in the city stating that Beijing would not tolerate Hong Kong becoming a base for what the party considers a foreign-inspired campaign to undermine its rule. Yet the mostly young throngs of well-organized protesters seemed little deterred by such threats, even as they took pains to remain anonymous by wearing masks, declining to give their full names to journalists and using cash rather than stored value cards to buy subway tickets. The demonstrations also follow the 30th anniversary of China's bloody suppression of the student-led pro-democracy protests centered on Beijing's Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989. Hong Kong held one of its biggest rallies in recent years earlier this month to honor the hundreds or possibly thousands killed in the army assault and to demand a full investigation into the crackdown, in what was seen as a further sign of defiance against Beijing. Xi's administration is also dealing with the trade war with the United States that has thrown its export-driven economic model into question, potentially threatening its relationship with China's urban middle class that has been predicated on accepting strict political controls in exchange for improving standards of living. Heavy rain Thursday morning kept fresh protests from following those Wednesday by thousands of activists who shut down government headquarters and the Legislative Council on the day it was to debate the extradition bill. More than 70 people were hurt. Police fired tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets after well-organized protesters breached their cordon, forcing the assembly to postpone the debate. The council's official online calendar said no meetings were planned for Thursday. Protesters said they were seeking to block the passage of the legislation they see as part of Beijing's moves to tighten its grip over Hong Kong, which was promised the right to maintain its own political, economic and social institutions for 50 years following the end of British rule.
Rockets land in an Iraqi military post home to US personnel
The Iraqi military says three rockets have hit an installation north of Baghdad used by Iraqi troops and where American trainers are also present. There was no immediate word on casualties. The late Monday attack on camp Taji, about 27 kilometers (17 miles) north of Baghdad, is the second on a military post housing U.S. personnel. An attack on an air base, also housing U.S. trainers, north of Baghdad on Saturday caused a small fire. The brief military statement Monday said Katushya rockets were used. Two military officials speaking on condition of anonymity because investigation is still underway said the rockets landed near an Iraqi air defense unit. The attack comes amid rising tension in the Middle East between the United States and Iran.
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Cyprus: US sees regional partnership important to security
Cyprus' government spokesman says a partnership between Greece, Cyprus and Israel in which the U.S. is participating is seen by Washington as contributing to security and stability in the eastern Mediterranean. The three countries have forged an energy-based partnership that has steadily grown following the discovery of gas deposits in the east Mediterrenean. Spokesman Prodromos Prodromou says the U.S. expects Turkey to refrain from illegal actions in waters where Cyprus has exclusive economic rights. Prodromou was speaking Thursday after talks between the Cypriot president and U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Palmer. Cyprus condemns the presence of a Turkish drillship in its exclusive economic zone as a violation of its sovereignty. Turkey, which doesn't recognize Cyprus as a state, says the drillship is inside its own continental shelf.
Court tells Uruguay to sell Nazi eagle from battleship
A court in Uruguay has ruled that the government must sell a huge Nazi bronze eagle that was recovered off the South American country's coast in 2006. The eagle with a swastika under its talons was part of the stern of the German battleship Admiral Graf Spee that sank off Uruguay's coast at the outset of World War II. The divisive symbol has been kept hidden inside a sealed crate in a Uruguayan navy warehouse for more than a decade. The court said Friday that it must be sold within 90 days and the proceeds must be split equally among the investors who organized the effort to recover the eagle from the bottom of the River Plate. Uruguay's government can appeal the decision.
Saudi diplomat rejects activist's allegation he's a target
A top Saudi diplomat says the kingdom has no information about an Arab activist living in Norway who says the CIA tipped Norwegian security about a threat against him emanating from Saudi Arabia. Responding to a question during a press conference in Saudi Arabia on Sunday, Adel al-Jubeir, the minister of state for foreign affairs, claimed he'd never heard of Iyad al-Baghdadi. Al-Jubeir, however, then said el-Baghdadi's motivation for speaking out publicly could be that he is seeking permanent residency in some country. The Palestinian-born activist says his work investigating possible Saudi crimes have made him a target. El-Baghdadi responded on Twitter, where he has more than 130,000 followers, saying that for the record, "I have no immigration struggles (anymore), I was granted asylum by Norway four years ago."
Views: 11 World News Express
Summer solstice at Stonehenge available for live streaming around the world
The conservation charity English Heritage has set up a virtual live stream from inside the monument of Stonehenge to mark the start of the summer solstice, the longest day of the year.                                                            SLIDESHOW: Photos celebrating summer around the world An estimated 10,000 people gathered to check out the sunrise from Stonehenge, according to police. The Stonehenge Skyscape project allows viewers inside the stone circle to track the position of the sun from the break of day all the way through the night. After dark, the photographic depiction of the sky will be replaced by a computer-generated model, allowing viewers to see the exact location of the stars and planets in the night sky. Hannah Mckay/Reuters The sun rises as people welcome summer solstice at Stonehenge in Amesbury, England, June 21, 2019. Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images Revelers watch the sun rise at Stonehenge, near Amesbury, England, June 21, 2019, as they celebrate the summer solstice. "Stonehenge was built to align with the sun, and to Neolithic people, the skies were arguably as important as the surrounding landscape," Susan Greaney, English heritage senior historian, said in a statement. "At solstice we remember the changing daylight hours, but the changing seasons, cycles of the Moon and movements of the sun are likely to have underpinned many practical and spiritual aspects of Neolithic life." Ben Birchall/PA via AP The sun rises at Stonehenge as crowds of people gather to celebrate the dawn of the longest day in Amesbury, England, June 21, 2019. She added, "Stonehenge’s connection with the skies is a crucial part of understanding the monument today and we are really excited to share this view online with people all over the world."
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Hong Kong leader fights for political life after bill fiasco
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam steadily climbed her way up bureaucratic ranks to capture the top position in the former British colony, relying on sheer intelligence, ambition, canny networking and an astute deference to authority. Yet the ground has shifted considerably since she began her civil service career in the 1980s. On Saturday, she appeared to be fighting for her political life as she sought to explain her decision to push through unpopular legislation that would make it easier to extradite suspects to communist-ruled mainland China, which took control of the territory in a 1997 handover. A key reason for Lam's vulnerability is that she was not directly elected by the territory's people, but rather ushered into office in 2017 by the vote of a 1,194-member committee dominated by pro-Beijing elites — despite being far less popular than her main rival. She now finds herself caught between a public that never truly backed her, and leaders in Beijing who want her to push through unpopular measures seen to be eroding Western-style economic, social and cultural freedoms that Beijing promised to respect for at least 50 years after it took back control from Britain. Lam, 62, has a reputation as an efficient and pragmatic administrator. But she was unpopular with Hong Kongers even before she took office because she was seen as a proxy for Beijing who was out of touch with ordinary people. She said Saturday that she was shelving the extradition bill to avoid further social turmoil following a protest march that drew hundreds of thousands of people on June 9 and violent clashes on Wednesday where police used tear gas, rubber bullets and other tactics, angering the public further. Lam's insistence that she had the full backing of China's central government in taking her decision likely rang as tone-deaf given skepticism over the communist leadership's motives, especially after a deadly crackdown on student-led pro-democracy demonstrations in Beijing's Tiananmen Square three decades ago. "They understand, they have confidence in my judgment and they support me," Lam told reporters, while also saying the legislation was still needed. Hours later, Bonny Leung, a leader with a pro-democracy alliance, accused Lam of "ignorance and arrogance." She and other activists urged Hong Kong citizens to turn out en masse for a march Sunday to demand the full withdrawal of the extradition bill, an apology for the aggressive police tactics and Lam's resignation as chief executive. Few anticipated that Lam would become embroiled in such friction when she took over from her predecessor Leung Chun-ying, a highly polarizing former policeman who stepped down as chief executive in 2017, citing family reasons. Lam may eventually, after a face-saving interval, also end up stepping aside, analysts said. That would allow time for Beijing to decide upon a successor that the leadership considers both competent and politically reliable. "They may not fire her i
UN tells Italy proposed decree violates migrants' rights
U.N. human rights investigators have told Italy that a proposed decree formalizing the closure of Italian ports to aid groups that rescue migrants at sea violates international law. In a letter to Italy's government, the investigators said the decree appears to be "yet another political attempt to criminalize search and rescue operations" that "further intensifies the climate of hostility and xenophobia against migrants." Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, a hard-line populist, has proposed the decree ahead of the European Parliament elections this week, where nationalist, anti-migrant parties are hoping to make strong gains. The letter from the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights says the measures would violate migrants' human rights, which are enshrined in U.N. conventions. It said Italy is obliged to rescue migrants in distress and cannot impede others from doing so.
Mexico vows to help Central American migrants amid crackdown
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador says his country must help Central Americans fleeing poverty and violence. López Obrador said in the northern state of Chihuahua Saturday that the refusal to help foreigners in need is "anti-Christian," adding that "we can't turn our backs on them." Mexico plans to deploy National Guard troops on Tuesday to its southern border with Guatemala as part of this month's agreement to slow the arrival of migrants to the U.S. Mexico has offered asylum to migrants with credible fears as thousands remain in the country while they await court dates for asylum petitions in the U.S. The Mexican refugee commission faces a backlog of cases. López Obrador is also lobbying for international development aid to help Central Americans stay in their countries of origin.
The Latest: Group of 116 Africans arrested at border
The Latest on the large numbers of immigrants at the southern border(all times local): 6:40 p.m. Border officials in Texas say a group of 116 Africans was arrested Thursday after wading through the Rio Grande to enter the United States. The migrants were from Angola, Cameroon and other African nations and include families with children and young people who were not with relatives. This was the first large group that agents in the Del Rio sector have arrested, although big groups have been showing up every day in other areas of the southern border. Agents have encountered 182 large groups, or those with more than 100 people, since October. It's unclear if the migrants in Texas were seeking asylum, and the agency is still processing them. ———————— 2:12 p.m. U.S. authorities are overstretched and overwhelmed by an unprecedented surge of Central American families arriving at the southern border. It is against that backdrop that President Donald Trump threatened this week to slap tariffs on goods from Mexico unless it cracks down on the flow of migrants. On Wednesday, for example, Border Patrol agents near downtown El Paso, Texas, encountered a group of 1,036 migrants who had entered the country illegally — the biggest cluster the agency has ever seen. At one point in May, a government holding cell designed for 35 migrants was crammed with 155. And six children have died in U.S. custody since September, three in the past month.
Views: 11 World News Express
Thousands take to streets in support of Brazil's President Bolsonaro amid turmoil
After five tumultuous months with Jair Bolsonaro at the helm of the biggest democracy in Latin America, thousands attended demonstrations across Brazil's major cities on Sunday to show their support for the so-called "Trump of the Tropics.” "We are here to support our president," Marlene Camargo, a 48-year-old housewife at the demonstration in Rio de Janeiro, told ABC News. "The media is trying to destroy him. We love him and we have faith in him." Though Bolsonaro did not directly call for protesters to hit the streets on Sunday, the president did not hesitate, upon exiting an Evangelical church in Rio de Janeiro, to tweet out videos of the demonstrators. The number of people who turned out, however, was nowhere near what president's supporters had hoped it would be. Brazil has recently seen major protests against Bolsonaro and his administration's policies. Last week, tens of thousands across the country protested against cuts to education. There were also protests after Bolsonaro called for celebrating the anniversary of a military coup that ushered in years of a dictatorship for Brazil. A recent poll from the Institute for Social, Political and Economic Research (IPESPE) revealed that that 36% of Brazilians consider his government "bad or terrible," with only 34% of respondents saying it's "good or great." "Today Bolsonaro is not as strong as he was during the campaign. He cannot make Congress cooperate in passing his agenda and so people keep protesting," said Mauricio Santoro, a political scientist and professor at the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ). Conservative leaders in Brazil were divided over Sunday's pro-Bolsonaro demonstrations. Kim Kataguiri, leader of the conservative Free Brazil Movement (Movimento Brasil Livre) said his party will not assist in the closure of the Parliament or the Supreme Court, two things that the president said in the past that he would like to do. Kataguiri added that the Free Brazil Movement rejects the demonization of Congress. Although Bolsonaro, a former congressmen, was elected with much fanfare and won over 55% of the vote in October 2018, Brazilians are now questioning if he will be able to stay in power with allegations of corruption against his family members. Bolsonaro ran a campaign pledging to end the economic recession, zero tolerance on crime, and the eradication corruption. However, his eldest son, Flavio Bolsonaro, has been accused of possible involvement in an irregular payments scheme between 2016 and 2017 when he served as a state legislator, in which the wages of "no show" employees were allegedly pocketed by their employers. These transactions also allegedly involved the future first lady, Michelle Bolsonaro. "One of the mistakes of Bolsanoro is that he never understood electors voted for him not because they agree with him on everything. Brazilians were eager to have a clean president," Santoro told ABC News. The protests around Brazil over the first months o
Views: 21 World News Express
Hifter's forces push toward Libyan capital city's center
A Libyan official and residents say heavy clashes are slowly nearing the center of Libya's capital, Tripoli, as forces loyal to the military commander Khalifa Hifter battle to seize power. Hifter's self-styled Libyan National Army launched an offensive last month to take Tripoli from militias loosely allied with a U.N.-supported government. Saraj al-Majbri, an aid to the LNA's chief of staff, said Monday its forces had made gains in the area of Salah al-Deen, a few kilometers from the city center. Two residents said heavy fighting was taking place along a strategic road linking the capital with its international airport, which has not been functional since 2014. They spoke on condition of anonymity for their safety. The fighting has reportedly killed at least 562 people, including combatants and civilians.
The Latest: Family arrives for start of kidnapping trial
The Latest on the start of a former University of Illinois graduate student's trial on charges he kidnapped and killed a visiting scholar. (all times local): 11:45 a.m. The parents of a 26-year-old visiting scholar who went missing in 2017 have arrived at a courthouse in central Illinois for the start of the death-penalty trial of a former University of Illinois graduate student accused of kidnapping and killing their daughter. TV footage showed Yingying Zhang's father, mother and brother walking Monday into the federal courthouse in Peoria, where the first step was to start picking jurors to hear evidence against Brendt Christensen. Jury selection is expected to take more than a week. The family traveled to Illinois from China last week. Authorities say Christensen tricked or forced 26-year-old Yingying Zhang into his car in June 2017 as she walked off campus, then later tortured and killed her. He pleaded not guilty. Zhang's body hasn't been found. ——— 8:00 a.m. Trial is set to begin for a former University of Illinois graduate student accused of kidnapping and killing a visiting scholar from China. The death penalty is possible in the federal case that starts Monday against 29-year-old Brendt Christensen. Authorities say he tricked or forced 26-year-old Yingying Zhang into his car in June 2017. Christensen has pleaded not guilty. He told the FBI he dropped Zhang off after a few blocks. Zhang's body hasn't been found. Jury selection is expected to take about a week. Proceedings are in Peoria, a central Illinois city about 85 miles (135 kilometers) northwest of Champaign, where Zhang was studying at the university's flagship campus and where she was last seen. Zhang's father, mother and brother have flown to Illinois from China for the trial.
Views: 12 World News Express
Cuba tries to revive its once-great railway network
Cuba's railway system is undergoing a major overhaul, with the government pushing a program to revamp the decrepit and aging network with new cars and locomotives in the hope of restoring a rail service that was once the envy of Latin America. Cuba's Ministry of Transportation took possession on Monday of 80 new Chinese-made passenger cars, part of a promised consignment of 250 rail cars and locomotives the island will receive by year's end. At the same time, the government is busy restoring and repairing rail lines throughout the island, some with rusting rails overgrown with weeds or buried under drifting dirt. But the overhaul will be challenging, government officials acknowledge, even with the new Chinese-made rail stock. The remaining equipment, much of it dating from 1975, lies in disrepair on the sides of railyards as the system has seen the number of passengers plunge in recent decades. Some electric trains that provide local links are completely out of service because of aging equipment. And restoring 2,600 miles (4,200 kilometers) of track, communications lines and dozens of crumbling rail stations around the island will be a monumental task. Workers have been restoring Havana's main rail terminal, an eclectic structure built in 1912, with four floors and a mezzanine, for over 10 years. The station's platforms, which are nearly 1 kilometer (more than half a mile) long, recall a bygone age when train travel was a principle mode of transportation, and the restoration has been a painstaking, and at times frustrating, process, government officials say. Ricardo Cabrisas, Cuba's minister for economic planning, says the restoration is part of a broader effort to restore the island's rail system. "It's an ambitious plan that matches our long-range goals," Cabrisas remarked at the ceremony on the outskirts of Havana where the Chinese rail stock was offloaded from a cargo ship, adding the "effort is aimed at providing reliable transportation across the island." According to the Cuban Transportation Ministry, trains carried 6.7 million passengers in 2018, a sharp drop from almost 11 million passengers in 2004. The government hopes to increase ridership by 1 million in 2019 on long distance routes. Train service to the far-eastern cities of Santiago, Holguin, Camaguey and Guantanamo are heavily used by locals. The Havana-Santiago trip costs as little as 32 Cuban pesos each way, about $1.50, making train travel an affordable means of transport for many Cubans. Cuba Railways General Director Eduardo Hernández says the new program is aimed at providing transportation to locals, but also hopes to lure tourists with the new Chinese rail cars and locomotives, which have two classes of service, including an air-conditioned first-class. "The recovery program for the Cuban railways runs through 2030, and it includes all aspects of the system, which includes rolling stock to modernizing the communications of the railway system. That's what we as
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Here's how you sneak 16.5 tons of cocaine onto a cargo ship, according to officials
It wasn’t until after a swarm of agents from the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and three separate police agencies had boarded the MSC Gayane and swabbed the second mate's arms and hands and the test came back positive for traces of cocaine that he started talking, according to a criminal complaint -- but the story he told was compelling. Investigators said he explained how you sneak 16.5 tons of cocaine onto a cargo ship. In the criminal complaint filed after Tuesday's historic $1 billion cocaine seizure, MSC Gayne second mate Ivan Durasevidc said he was told by the ship's chief officer to come down to the deck after the ship had departed Peru. Durasevidc told investigators that he saw nets near the ship's crane that contained bags with handles for transporting the cocaine, and that he and about four others -- some wearing ski masks that obscured their faces -- hoisted the bags onto the ship and loaded them into containers after being promised by the chief officer that he would be paid $50,000, according to the complaint. Crew member Fonofaavae Tiasaga also told authorities that he assisted in loading bales of cocaine that were brought alongside the ship by smaller boats both before and after they docked in Peru. Tiasaga allegedly said this wasn’t the first time he helped smuggle narcotics. The crew member said that on a previous voyage, Durasevidc paid him 50,000 euros to help “load large quantities of cocaine” onto the vessel, according to the complaint. Tiasaga also told authorities that on an earlier stretch of the most recent trip, at least six boats approached the MSC Gayane during the voyage between Chile and Panama and delivered bales of cocaine, which were hoisted onto the Gayane with a crane that was operated by Durasevidc. The boats also delivered replacement seals to reseal the shipping containers on the Gayane, Tiasaga told investigators. Eight more boats approached the Gayane between Peru and Panama, according to the complaint, and delivered more bales of cocaine. The bales were then taken below deck by Tiasaga and other crew members and secreted in the shipping containers, which were subsequently resealed, according to officials. By the time all the operations were complete, officials said, $1 billion worth of cocaine was secured, secreted and headed to Philadelphia, where it was ultimately seized and impounded. It was not immediately clear whether Durasevidc or Tiasaga had retained defense attorneys. ABC News' Aaron Katersky, Alexander Mallin and Jack Date contributed to this report.
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Ex-first lady leads Guatemalan president vote, runoff likely
A former first lady led early results from Guatemala's presidential election, although a second round of voting is expected to determine who will oversee this Central American nation where tens of thousands have fled poverty and gang violence this year to seek a new life in the United States. With votes tallied from just over a third of polling centers, Sandra Torres had captured 24% of Sunday's vote, followed by four-time presidential candidate Alejandro Giammattei with 15%. Early results were in line with expectations. Electoral Supreme Court president Julio Solórzano said the large number of contenders for the top office had slowed the vote count. At this rate no candidate will win the more than 50% of votes needed to assume the post after a first round, with a second vote likely to take place in August. Presidents are limited to a single, four-year term. The next president of this Central American country will be tasked starting in January with attempting to stem growing violence, poverty and outward migration. An estimated 1 percent of Guatemala's population of some 16 million people has left the country this year. Guatemalans are also clamoring for a crackdown on corruption: Three of the last four elected presidents have been arrested post-presidency on charges of corruption. Torres, 64, is a businesswoman who gained national prominence during the 2008-2012 government of her then-husband, Álvaro Colom, who is among the former leaders to have been accused of corruption. The couple divorced in 2011. "There is a belief that instead of advancing in these four years of government, we've gone backward," said Marco René Cuellar, 39, the first to vote at the Mixed Rural School in the municipality of Santa Catarina Pinula. "We've lost our way as a country, but we should not lose faith in the democratic process we have." More than 8.1 million citizens were also eligible to vote for the vice president, congressional representatives and mayors. And the election marked the first time that Guatemalans could cast ballots from abroad: At least 60,000 were eligible to vote in Los Angeles, New York, Maryland and Washington, D.C., all home to large numbers of Guatemalan emigres. Businessman Roberto Arzú, diplomat Edmond Auguste Mulet Lesieur and indigenous human rights advocate Thelma Cabrera rounded out the top-five candidates for the presidency. On Sunday, municipal officials and police stood guard as many waited in line to cast their ballot in an election dinged by threats of violence and possible fraud. To the east of the capital, in the Zacapa department, voting stations didn't open in the San Jorge municipality after organizers were threatened with violence. More than 7,000 people were unable to cast votes there. Voting was also called off in Esquipulas Palo Gordo, near the border with Mexico in the San Marcos department, amid accusations of vote-buying. The attorney general's office launched an investigation after a voter posted a video t
Couple says they fell ill at Dominican Republic resort where 3 Americans died
A Colorado couple claims they fell ill at the same Dominican Republic resort where three Americans died just five days apart last month. Kaylynn Knull said she and her boyfriend, Tom Schwander, became sick while on vacation at the Grand Bahia Principe hotel in the coastal city of La Romana in June 2018. "As soon as we came back to the room, we noticed it smelled like somebody had dumped paint everywhere," Knull told ABC Denver affiliate KMGH in a recent interview. "We were drooling excessively. My eyes would not stop watering." The mysterious symptoms persisted even after the couple changed hotel rooms, according to Knull. "That night, we both woke up soaked in sweat at like 4 in the morning and kind of terrified," she told KMGH. "And we booked a flight home before the sun came up." Upon returning home to Colorado, the couple saw a doctor who said they were likely experiencing poisoning from organophosphate, a form of insecticide, which Knull said she believes were being used on the plants around the resort. Knull said they sued the Grand Bahia Principe La Romana after the hotel refused to reveal the chemical used on its grounds or refund their money, but the case has apparently stalled in local courts, according to KMGH. A hotel spokesperson did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment on the suit. Miranda Schaupp-Werner, 41, was found dead in her room at the resort on May 25 -- five days before Edward Nathaniel Holmes, 63, and Cynthia Ann Day, 49, were found dead in their room. Schaup-Werner died of respiratory failure and pulmonary edema, according to a spokesperson for the hotel who declined to comment further on the woman's death. An autopsy performed on the couple, Holmes and Day, determined that they died of the same causes, according to the Dominican Republic National Police. Investigators are awaiting the results of pathology and toxicology exams for all three victims. "This is the first time I’ve seen something like this," Col. Frank Duran, director of communications for the Dominican Republic National Police, told ABC News on Wednesday. "The manner of deaths weren’t violent." An official at the U.S. Department of State said they are "actively monitoring" the investigations into the deaths of the three Americans. "At this point, we are not aware of any connection between these incidents," the official told ABC News in a statement. ABC News' Aicha El Hammar Castano, Conor Finnegan, Julia Jacobo, Tom Llamas and Matthew Stone contributed to this report.
Views: 28 World News Express
Seals learn to mimic human tones, scientists say
Scientists from the University of St Andrews in Scotland say they’ve taught grey seals to mimic human tones. The two scientists raised three seals from birth, training them to copy human vowel combinations. One seal, named Zola, could reproduce up to 10 notes from “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” “This study gives us a better understanding of the evolution of vocal learning, a skill that is crucial for human language development,” a spokesperson for the university says. The study says seals “could be a new model system to study speech disorders,” according to a release from the university.
Views: 17 World News Express
Medical school student missing after graduation in Mexico, family says
Authorities in Mexico are searching for an American medical school graduate who went missing over the weekend after one of his friends was found murdered. Arkansas native Jessy Pacheco, 30, went missing in the city of Guadalajara last week after he celebrated his graduation from the Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara, his family told ABC News. He attended the university's medical school for two and a half years but finished his residency in Arkansas, returning to Mexico to retrieve his diploma, said Francine Solis, his cousin's wife. On Saturday night, Pacheco went out with a group of friends, Francine Solis said. Most of the group ended up leaving early, but Pacheco and another friend stayed a little longer to wait for an Uber they had called. Authorities believe Pacheco's disappearance and his friend's murder occurred in the Providencia neighborhood of Guadalajara on Saturday, according to a statement from the Jalisco State Prosecutor's Office. Pachecho's friend, whose name was not released by authorities, was found shot in the head a few blocks from the club they had been at, his family told ABC affiliate KHBS in Fort Smith, Arkansas. The 26-year-old was a California native and also a student of the university, Mexican newspaper Milenio reported. Pacheco's family believes he may have been abducted have a set up a GoFundMe campaign to aid in their expenses while they stay in Mexico until he is found. He was set to return to the U.S. on Tuesday, Francine Solis said. Pacheco planned to return home to Van Buren, Arkansas to practice medicine after graduation, according to the GoFundMe. His mother and other family had traveled to Guadalajara to watch him graduate, Francine Solis said. On Friday, Pacheco posted photos to Facebook of himself posing with family in his cap and gown, writing that his "dream of becoming a doctor was fulfilled today!!!" Pachecho's cousin, Jeff Solis, described him to KHBS as an "amazing guy." "He's a person that gets along with everybody and he's always there for everybody," Solis said. "I'm very proud of him to achieve such a goal and to hear this news is so devastating to me." Mexican authorities have met with staff at the American consulate to keep them informed during the investigation, according to Jalisco State prosecutors. They plan to hold a press conference Thursday afternoon. The U.S. Department of State said in a statement that it is aware of the reports of a missing U.S. citizen. "The welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad is one of the highest priorities of the Department of State," the statement read. "We stand ready to provide appropriate assistance to U.S. citizens in need and to their families." A spokeswoman for Uber said she did not have any information on the case. ABC News' Kate Hodgson, Conor Finnegan, Ben Gittleson, Anne Laurent and Darren Reynolds contributed to this report.
Views: 105 World News Express
Malawi's Mutharika re-elected to 2nd term in tight race
Malawi's President Peter Mutharika has narrowly won re-election with 38% of the votes in last week's polls, the electoral commission declared Monday. Mutharika's victory was announced in Blantyre, Malawi's largest city, immediately after the High Court in Lilongwe, the capital, threw out an injunction preventing the electoral commission from announcing the winner. The ban was obtained on Saturday by opposition candidate Lazarus Chakwera, who came in a close second with 35% of the votes. Former Vice President Saulos Chilima came in third with 20% of the ballots. The other four presidential candidates collectively got nearly 6% of the vote. In the parliamentary elections, Mutharika's Democratic Progressive Party won 63 seats in the legislative body, while Chakwera's Malawi Congress Party got 55 seats and 52 independent candidates were elected. According to the official results, 5.1 million Malawians voted in the May 21 election, representing 74% of the registered voters, said electoral commission chairwoman Jane Ansah. Chakwera had called for a recount in 10 of Malawi's 28 districts but the commission declined, saying that the results had been checked at several stages. In ruling that the results should be announced, the judge said the electoral commission is mandated by law to finalize the electoral process in a timely manner. He also said there could be a judicial review of the result that the opposition leader had sought in his application.
Rights group: Abuses in Egypt's Sinai amount to war crimes
A leading international rights group on Tuesday accused Egypt's security forces of committing widespread abuses against civilians in the Sinai Peninsula, where Egypt has been battling Islamic militants for years. Human Rights Watch alleged that some of the abuses amount to war crimes. In a 134-page report, the group said it documented arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, torture, extrajudicial killings, and possibly unlawful air and ground attacks against civilians. "Some of these abuses, part of an ongoing campaign against members of the local ISIS affiliate, the Sinai Province group, amount to war crimes," the report said. ISIS is an alternative acronym for the Islamic State group. Egyptian officials had no immediate comment. The militants have also committed horrific crimes, including kidnapping and torture of residents, some of whom were killed, the New York-based watchdog said. They have also killed captured members of the security forces, HRW said. "Instead of protecting Sinai residents in their fight against militants, the Egyptian security forces have shown utter contempt to residents' lives, turning their daily life into a nonstop nightmare of abuses," said Michael Page, HRW's deputy Mideast and North Africa director. Access to northern Sinai has been restricted for years, making it difficult to independently verify what is happening on the ground. HRW said the findings were based, in part, on interviews with Sinai residents and former detainees. The group also said, citing government statements and media reports, that 3,076 suspected militants and 1,226 members of the military and police were killed in fighting between January 2014 and June 2018 in Sinai. It said, however, that Egyptian authorities frequently counted civilians among the alleged militants killed and that hundreds of civilians have been killed or wounded in the violence. The government has not provided a tally for civilians killed in Sinai. HRW said the Egyptian military has recruited Sinai residents into a militia to help it "by providing intelligence and carrying out missions on the military's behalf." But these militia members also used their powers for arbitrary arrests and to settle scores and personal disputes. "They have also participated in torture and extrajudicial killings," the group said. The insurgency in Sinai intensified after the military's 2013 ouster of Mohammed Morsi, a freely elected but divisive president. Morsi was toppled amid mass protests against him, a year after he took office. In February last year, Egypt began a massive anti-militant operation, mainly focused on Sinai but also on parts of Egypt's Nile Delta and the Western Desert along the porous border with Libya.
Views: 12 World News Express
Satellite image shows Saudi pump station after drone attack
A satellite image obtained by The Associated Press shows one of the two pumping stations attacked by drones in Saudi Arabia apparently intact. The image from San Francisco-based Planet Labs Inc. that the AP examined on Wednesday shows Saudi Aramco's Pumping Station No. 8 outside of the town of al-Duadmi. It's 330 kilometers, or 205 miles, west of the capital, Riyadh. The photo, taken Tuesday after the attack claimed by Yemen's Houthi rebels, shows two black marks near where Saudi Arabia's East-West Pipeline passes by the facility. Those marks weren't there in images taken Monday. The facility otherwise appears intact. The attack came as regional tensions flared, just days after what the kingdom called an attack on two of its oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.
Views: 61 World News Express
Israel braces for more wildfires as temperatures spike
Israel braced for renewed wildfires Friday amid a major heat wave that shows no signs of abating. At an emergency briefing, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel had appealed for international help to combat the fires, and that aid has arrived from Greece, Croatia, Italy, Egypt and Cyprus. Israel "really appreciates" the help, Netanyahu said, singling out Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi for pitching in with two helicopters. He added that several others, including Russia and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, offered aid. "I am deeply thankful for the readiness of neighbors to help us in a time of crisis, just as we help them," Netanyahu said. Thousands of people were evacuated from towns and dozens of homes were torched Thursday as fires raged, fueled by high temperatures and dry conditions. Over 500 acres of woodland have burned, said Nitai Zecharya, an Israeli official from the Jewish National Fund, known for planting forests in the country. Zecharya said that while firefighters had brought most of the blaze under control, officials remained "very stressed" about strong winds fanning flames and "spreading fires to other fronts." The cause of wildfire remains unclear, but it erupted following the Jewish festival of Lag Ba'Omer, which observers mark with bonfires. A sweltering heat wave is pushing temperatures in parts of the country up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit, or 43 Celsius.
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World markets wobble as US, China trade jibes over trade
World stock markets mostly fell on Monday as surveys of manufacturers showed business confidence crumbling as the United States and China spar over trade and technology. Germany's DAX fell 0.3% to 11,695 while the CAC 40 in France also lost 0.2%, to 5,195. The FTSE 100 in Britain gave up 0.3% to 7,137. The future contracts for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were both down 0.2%. A private survey, the Caixin manufacturing purchasing managers' index, or PMI, held steady at 50.2 points in May. But the report's measure of business confidence slipped to the lowest level since the series began in April 2012, it said. China's Shanghai Composite lost 0.3% to 2,890.08, while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong was almost unchanged at 26,893.86. Japan's Nikkei 225 index lost 0.9% to 20,410.88 and India's Sensex rose 1.4% to 40,267.62. The S&P ASX 200 in Australia dropped 1.2% to 6,320.50 amid expectations the central bank will slash interest rates on Tuesday for the first time in three years. PMIs for elsewhere in Asia were mixed, with some coming in surprisingly stronger than expected. The manufacturing PMI for the eurozone remained at 47.7, below the 50 level signifying expansion. The U.S. has raised tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of Chinese exports and Beijing has followed suit with its own hikes of import duties, obscuring the outlook for investors and shaking up supply chains. After 11 rounds of negotiations talks are at a standstill, and the Trump administration has ordered further action to curb access by Chinese smartphone and telecom gear maker Huawei Technologies from the U.S. and other markets. "Trade conflicts are the catalyst for the real issue: slower global growth leading to stagflation and recessionary conditions," said Chris Weston of financial services company Pepperstone. "With the weekend news flow centering again on trade, where a Chinese white paper attributed the blame on relations to Trump, amid Chinese authorities investigating FedEx, it all suggests things will only get worse before they get better." South Korea's Kospi rose 1.3% to 2,067.85 after Samsung Electronics' Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong met with top executives of the company to discuss strategy as demand for computer chips and smartphones slows and Beijing and Washington clash over trade. China released a "white paper" report Sunday that blamed the conflict over trade on the Trump administration, but stopped short of announcing details of a plan for retaliating against a U.S. blacklisting of Huawei Technologies. On Friday, it said it would soon announce its own list of "unreliable entities" consisting of foreign businesses, corporations and individuals. Wang Shouwen, China's vice commerce minister, said Beijing will issue more specific information on the list soon. At a meeting in Singapore, China's defense minister warned its military would "resolutely take action" to defend Beijing's claims over self-ruled Taiwan and disputed areas
At least 4 dead in shooting in Australian city of Darwin
A gunman was arrested after killing at least four people and wounding several others Tuesday in the northern Australian city of Darwin, officials and media said. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said a suspect was in custody and the incident was not terrorism related. "This is a terrible act of violence that has already, I'm advised, taken the lives of four people," Morrison told reporters in London, where he was on a visit to take part in D-Day commemorations. "Our advice is that this is not a terrorist act. There is nothing to suggest that that is the case whatsoever." A 45-year-old man was in custody following the shooting, Northern Territory Police Duty Superintendent Lee Morgan told Guardian Australia. Two people were taken to the Royal Darwin Hospital with gunshot wounds and both were in stable condition, a Health Department statement said. Police contacted by The Associated Press declined to comment. Northern Territory Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw was expected to hold a news conference later Tuesday. A man fired a pump action shotgun at the Palms Hotel in the Darwin suburb of Woolner in the late afternoon, Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported. Police attended three crime scenes in the tropical city of 100,000 related to the gunman, ABC said. An ABC reporter said she saw police tackle and taser the gunman at a busy intersection.
Views: 27 World News Express
Meet the man who could become UK's next prime minister
There is a peculiarly British phrase for all those things that split opinions to the extent that no one, no matter how indifferent, has to pick a side. Named after a particularly divisive condiment to spread on your breakfast toast, the saying goes: “It’s like Marmite – you either love it or you hate it.” Boris Johnson, the Conservative lawmaker who is the overwhelming favorite to replace Theresa May as United Kingdom's prime minister, is without a doubt the “Marmite” candidate in the current leadership race. Johnson has only one more candidate to beat, the comparatively less colorful lawmaker Jeremy Hunt, when around 160,000 Conservative members vote for the next leader some time at the end of July. Here’s everything you need to know about Johnson, who, if the latest polling is to be believed, should beat his only rival left standing Jeremy Hunt, to walk into Number 10 Downing Street after the vote. Career After being educated at the elite boarding school Eton College and the University of Oxford, where he was a contemporary of former prime minister David Cameron, Boris de Pfeffel Johnson became a political journalist after graduating in the late 1980s. He became a prominent political journalist in the 1990s, mainly for his work at the Times of London and Daily Telegraph newspapers. While at the Telegraph he served as a Brussels correspondent between 1989 and 1994, where he is credited for creating an atmosphere of the skepticism toward the European Union (EU) in British public life. This phenomenon simmered beneath British politics for the next two decades, coming to the boil when the U.K. voted to leave the EU in 2016. But it was in the late 1990s that Johnson burst into the public eye when he appeared on the satirical panel TV show "Have I Got News For You." His floppy blonde hair, sense of humor and bumbling persona made him an instantly recognizable public figure. Yet controversy have followed Johnson wherever he has gone, mainly because he's been accused of having trouble telling the truth. In 2001, he was elected as a member of Parliament for the Conservative Party. But three years later, he was sacked from as the Shadow Arts Minister for lying to the party leader about an extramarital affair. Johnson returned to the front line of politics when he was elected mayor of London in 2008. During his first term as mayor, Johnson oversaw the capital’s responses to such key events as the 2011 London riots and the 2012 Olympics. He was re-elected for a second term in office, proving himself as a charismatic and popular campaigner. Johnson then led Vote Leave, the official campaign to leave the EU, during the 2016 Brexit referendum in one of the most divisive campaigns in U.K. political history. After the event, where Leave won by the margin of 52% to 48%, the campaign was later found guilty of breaching spending laws. Reputation It is that controversy that makes him such a divisive political figure – loved by some, loath
Japanese man who swallowed 246 cocaine packets dies on Bogota-to-Tokyo flight
A 42-year-old Japanese man died on a Bogota-to-Tokyo flight after swallowing 246 packets of cocaine and having a seizure. An autopsy revealed the cause of death -- brain swelling from cocaine overdose -- after the man's body was removed from an Aeromexico flight that made an emergency landing in northern Mexico, according to a statement issued by the Office of the Attorney General of the State of Sonora. "Staff noticed that a person was suffering from seizures, so they requested to make an emergency landing in this city, Hermosillo," according to the statement. When authorities boarded the plane around 2:25 a.m. local time on Friday, the man was dead. He was identified by authorities only as Udo N. The flight and its 198 passengers eventually continued on to Japan.
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Hong Kong protesters disperse after besieging police HQ
Protesters in Hong Kong ended their overnight siege of police headquarters peacefully Saturday, disappointed that their demands for the territory's leader to formally withdraw a contentious extradition bill and police to apologize for heavy handed tactics have gone unmet. By daybreak, police had cleared the streets of barriers set up by protesters to snarl traffic in the Asian financial center, and only a few groups in the mostly youthful crowd remained. Many slept outside the legislature. Traffic was again smooth on a major thoroughfare through the government's central complex as the protest movement regrouped to consider next moves. Police said nine female and four male staffers were hospitalized "with considerable delay" during the blockade. The police statement did not say whether they were injured in clashes or had otherwise become unwell. Around police headquarters, masked and helmeted protesters covered surveillance cameras with masking tape and lashed barriers together with nylon cable ties. They threw eggs at the building and drew graffiti on the walls. Protesters also "splashed oil" and targeted police officers' eyes with laser pointers, according to the police. Hong Kong has been rocked by major protests for the past two weeks over legislative proposals that many view as eroding the territory's judicial independence and, more broadly, as a sign of Chinese government efforts to chip away at the city's freedoms. Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam indefinitely suspended debate on the bills a week ago, making it likely they would die. But protesters are demanding that she formally withdraw the proposed changes to the extradition laws, which would expand the scope of criminal suspect transfers to include mainland China, Taiwan and Macau. Some also want Lam to resign. Legal and business groups in Hong Kong oppose the legislation, saying critics of China's ruling Communist Party would be at risk of torture and unfair trials on the mainland and that it further erode the "one country, two systems" framework under which Hong Kong has been governed since the handover from British rule in 1997. The peaceful ending to Friday's protests drew a sigh of relief in the city of 7.4 million people, after police unleashed tear gas and rubber bullets last week in violent clashes that left dozens injured on both sides. Police were previously criticized for their use of force but this time waited out the protesters. Police did issue a statement at 4:50 a.m. condemning them for blocking key streets and seriously disrupting work at police headquarters. "Police have shown the greatest tolerance to the protesters who assembled outside PHQ, but their means of expressing views have become illegal, irrational and unreasonable," the statement said in part. Activist Joshua Wong called on police to answer demands over heavy handed tactics used during a mass protest on June 12, including the firing of 150 rounds of tear gas, rubber bullets and beanbag rounds, and th
Views: 54 World News Express
Papua New Guinea prime minister resigns after 7 years
Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill has resigned after seven years on the job. His announcement Sunday follows weeks of high profile defections from his government to the opposition. O'Neill said in a news conference in the capital of Port Moresby that recent movements in parliament have shown a "need for change." He handed over his leadership to a former prime minister and current member of parliament, Sir Julius Chan. On Friday, one of O Neill's key coalition allies abandoned him. The opposition bloc has since been saying it has 62 lawmakers in its camp, which would give it a majority in parliament. The resignation will be formalized when O'Neill visits the governor-general, the official representative of Queen Elizabeth II.
State Dept. says no 'uptick' DR deaths of Americans after a string of fatal incidents
Despite a string of high-profile deaths this year of Americans from illnesses in the Dominican Republic, the U.S. State Department said Wednesday there has not been an "uptick" in fatal incidents of Americans in the Caribbean country. The State Department confirmed at least nine American tourists have died in the Dominican Republic in roughly the past 12 months, and some of their families say they became gravely ill before they perished. "We have not seen an uptick in the number of U.S. citizen deaths reported to the Department" in the Dominican Republic, a State Department spokesperson told ABC News. The spokesperson said that more than 2.7 million U.S. citizens visit the Dominican Republic each year and, as in most countries, "the overwhelming majority travel without incident." The U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo said last week that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is now helping to probe the deaths of at least three Americans who perished in a five-day span at neighboring hotels in the same resort run by Bahia Principe Hotels & Resorts. Dominican authorities asked for the FBI's help in conducting toxicology analysis in the investigations stemming from the deaths at the luxury destination, according to officials at the U.S. Embassy. Nathaniel Holmes, 63, and his fiancée, Cynthia Ann Day, 49, of Maryland were found dead on May 30 in their room at the Grand Bahia Principe La Romana Resort in San Pedro de Macoris on the southeast coast of the Dominican Republic. Autopsies performed in the Dominican Republic determined preliminary causes of death for both Holmes and Day were respiratory failure and pulmonary edema, or water in the lungs. A lawyer for the families of Day and Holmes said they are awaiting the results of independent autopsies on the couple. The couple died just five days after Miranda Schaupp-Werner, 41, of Allentown, Pennsylvania, was found dead at the Luxury Bahia Principe Bouganville hotel at the same resort. An autopsy performed on Schaupp-Werner determined that she also died from respiratory failure and pulmonary edema, according to the Dominican Republic National Police. The FBI, at the request of Dominican officials, is conducting toxicology analysis to determine how Holmes, Day and Schaupp-Werner died. The results of the analysis have not been completed. "The safety of U.S. citizens that live in, work in, and visit the Dominican Republic remains our highest priority," Robin Bernstein, the U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, said in a statement earlier this month. "These incidents are tragic and we offer our deepest condolences to those personally impacted." According to the U.S. State Department's website, 13 Americans died in the Dominican Republic in 2018, but those deaths were not all from natural causes and included homicides, drownings and vehicle accidents. The State Department confirmed this week the Jan. 26 death of Thomas Jerome "Jerry" Curran, 78, of Bedford, Ohio, who became ill while sta
Safety issues in Hungary boat sinking strike nerve in SKorea
The sinking of a boat carrying South Korean tourists in Hungary is touching a nerve in South Korea, where many are still traumatized over a 2014 ferry sinking that killed more than 300 people, mostly students. The grief is compounded by claims by some South Korean tour agents and travelers that there were past safety issues on the Danube River where the accident happened. A total of 33 South Koreans were on the small boat enjoying the night view of Budapest on Wednesday evening despite a downpour. A preliminary investigation showed none was wearing a life jacket when the boat collided with a larger cruise ship on the river, according to the South Korean government and their tour agency in Seoul. Nearly a day after the sinking, seven people had been confirmed dead on Thursday, seven had been rescued, and 19 South Koreans and two Hungarian crewmembers were listed as missing. Rescuers were scouring the Danube for miles (kilometers) downriver, but prospects for more rescues were dimming because the river was flowing rapidly and rising as heavy rain continued. The water temperature was about 10 to 12 degrees Celsius (50-53 degrees Fahrenheit). While the exact cause of the collision still wasn't known, some said there could have been a lack of safety awareness, as in the sinking of the ferry Sewol in South Korea five years ago that was blamed on a culture that has long sacrificed public safety standards for profit and convenience. The Sewol, which was overloaded with poorly secured cargo, sank while sailing to the southern South Korean resort island of Jeju, killing 305 people, including 250 high school students. Lim KyoungJae, head of a Seoul-based travel agency who has taken South Korean tourists to Budapest about five times in recent years, said he would have seriously considered whether to go ahead with the boat tour in the strong rain. "Heavy rain must have made the current of the river faster and caused low visibility," Lim said. "If you don't have a good night view, then you really don't need to take a boat ride." Many sightseeing boats on the Danube turn their lights low to have a better night view of the city. If that was the case for the boat that capsized Wednesday, Lim said those navigating the larger cruise ship may have found it difficult to see the small boat sailing nearby. The South Koreans' tour agency, Very Good Tour, said the boat trip was part of a package tour to Europe. It said the agency went ahead with the excursion after the tourists agreed on it. "Other boats were making tours too and we decided to go on after passengers agreed," senior tour agency official Lee Sang-moo said. "Our company humbly accepts all the responsibility that is ours." According to the tour agency and South Korea's Foreign Ministry, none of the South Koreans — 30 tourists, two guides and a photographer — was wearing a life jacket at the time of the accident. Lee admitted that there was a possibility that there were no life vests on the boat. Se
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