The captain of the South Korean ferry that capsized was missing from his post at the time of the catastrophic accident, an investigator says. A third officer was reportedly at the helm instead, which has sparked anger from grieving parents. Divers are working to access the inside of the ship but thus far have not found any survivors. Among the 475 passengers, many of whom were students out on a field trip, 179 were rescued, 268 remain missing and 28 have been confirmed dead.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Russian, U.S., Ukrainian and EU officials forged a deal yesterday to “de-escalate” the crisis in Ukraine. Pro-Russian separatists must disarm and quit the buildings they occupy but will be granted amnesty. In exchange, Ukrainian officials have agreed to talks on constitutional reforms that could spell greater autonomy for those in the east. President Obama said he was cautiously encouraged by the news. But there’s been no indication pro-separatists plan to comply. And in a disturbing development, fliers have appeared in the city of Donetsk ordering Jews to register and pay a fine or face deportation.
An avalanche struck the world’s highest mountain today, killing at least 12 Nepalese guides, or sherpas, who were getting the routes and ropes ready for the upcoming tourist season. Three were rescued and are being treated for serious injuries, and a few remain missing. Hundreds have been gathering at the base camp hoping for their chance to scale the 29,000-foot high peak next month, when weather conditions are expected to improve. Fellow climbers rushed to the scene today to aid rescue efforts.
The Nobel Prize-winning writer — known for mesmerizing and emotional tales laced with magical realism — has died in Mexico City at age 87. He penned several popular novels and was best known for his 1967 work One Hundred Years of Solitude, which sold 50 million copies worldwide. Garcia Marquez’s writing was steeped in the folk tales and ghost stories he heard as a child growing up in Colombia. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos mourned the passing of the “greatest Colombian of all time.”
Hillary’s daughter reveals that she’s expecting first baby. (Washington Post)
Obama says health care sign-ups reach eight million. (WSJ).
Report: Sebelius is not mulling Senate run. (USA Today).
Peru evacuates Ubinas volcano area. (BBC).
Gunmen launch deadly attack on UN base in South Sudan. (DW)
Vladimir Putin assured Edward Snowden that Moscow is not conducting mass surveillance of its citizens with an NSA-style snooping program. Snowden, who has been criticized for keeping his mouth shut about human rights abuses in Russia, grilled the Russian leader during a call-in TV program. Putin assured him that Russians need a warrant to spy on people, and then, only on suspected criminals. A Russian surveillance expert’s response? Moscow definitely has its own version of NSA mega-snooping. Are you listening, Snowden? Because someone probably is.
Attention, Earthlings: Researchers have found what could be our planet’s alien twin. It’s a bit colder, has a composition similar to Earth and could be habitable. It orbits its star in what is known as the Goldilocks Zone, where the temperature is neither too hot nor too cold, so it can potentially support liquid water, the basis of any kind of life. There is one problem though: Kepler 186f is 500 light years away, posing challenges for future colonization.
Paying no heed to initial investor jitters, Chinese censorship or slowing user growth, Weibo shares soared as high as 44 percent on its first day of trading. The Twitter-like Chinese micro-blogging company shaved back the number of shares it planned to offer because of investors’ concerns. But it came out of the starting gate strong and ended the day up 19 percent. It’s the first of a wave of Chinese Internet IPOs, including the Amazon-like Alibaba Group, and messaging and video game company Tencent.
The Sister Act and Ghost star is lighting up Twitterverse with a debut column extolling the virtues of marijuana for the Cannabist Internet site. Goldberg shares her “love story” with her vape pen, a tiny vaporizer that delivers cannabis hits without smoke and helps treat her glaucoma. “I took a sip. It was beautiful,” Goldberg says about her first experience with the vape pen, which she refers to as “Sippy.” Sippy provides relief from “pressure, pain, stress, discomfort,” she writes. Goldberg was introduced to the vape pen by her daughter.
Grassroots participation in women’s soccer has boomed since the U.S. won the 1999 World Cup, but the women’s professional league is barely sustaining itself. Franchises have budgets of $1.5 million or less, players are paid as little as $6,000 per season and they sometimes live with host families because they can’t afford rent. Most take on voluntary outreach to build up a fan base, believing that their competitive edge lies in their ability to inspire young female fans.