They’ll have time to think about it. A South Korean court has sentenced the captain in the April ferry boat disaster that killed 304 people to 36 years in prison — effectively a life sentence for the 69-year-old. The judge rejected the murder charge and death sentence that prosecutors sought, and gave sentences ranging from five to 30 years to 14 other crew members. Some called the case scapegoating, but shipmates reportedly escaped after instructing passengers — mostly high school students — to stay in their cabins.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Cops have spent some $100,000 to brace for potential fallout from a grand jury decision expected later this month on charges against Officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager. Meanwhile Brown’s parents flew to Geneva to testify before the UN committee on torture about the “predatory” Ferguson police department. They say police actions and later militarized response violated international torture conventions in the case of their son, which has exemplified frustrations with the American judicial system.
They came to forgo any chance of having children. They may have been lucky to leave with their lives. Mass operations to sterilize women aim to control the national population; they offer 1,400 rupees ($22) to those who volunteer. At one clinic, at least eight died, 10 others landed in critical care and scores were hospitalized – and it’s not the first time. From 2009 to 2012, the government compensated families for 568 deaths due to sterilization. Maybe it’s time for other, less life-threatening, birth control method.
Obama’s pivot to Asia is paying off. Today the president announced a rare agreement with one of its biggest trading partners to eliminate tariffs on tech gadgets ranging from gaming consoles to semiconductors. Unveiled at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Beijing, the pact represents a breakthrough for the two major powers — and burnishes the president’s sagging performance a bit. It could also net 60,000 U.S. jobs and boost expectations for today’s side-summit between Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Now they’re forming international alliances. Egypt’s most violent extremist group, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, has pledged obedience to ISIS, becoming its first significant transnational affiliate — and one likely to bring a new injection of men, money and weapons. Observers fear it will shift the Egyptian militants’ focus from attacking security forces to their new partner’s routine of killing civilians. This, combined with pledges of allegiance from “holy warriors” in Yemen and Libya that surfaced online yesterday, show that the destructive movement knows no bounds.
Enrollment figures for the Affordable Care Act aren’t looking too healthy. Just days before the the second sign-up period begins, the administration’s forecast for registration is a hefty 30 percent lower than predicted — from 13 million users to a mere 9.1 million through 2015. The new figure could be an acknowledgment of the challenges facing the program, or perhaps it’s an attempt to manage expectations. But with the Supreme Court gearing up to revisit Obamacare’s legality, it may be a symptom of something more serious.
NYC Ebola victim doctor to leave hospital. (NYT)
Alibaba rings up record $6 billion in Singles’ Day sales. (WSJ) sub
U.S., Europe mark Veterans Day and Armistice Day. (AP)
Iran leader’s vow to ‘eliminate’ Israel jars nuclear talks. (CNN)
Tongues are wagging in Beijing. Arriving for the swanky opening of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation confab, President Obama emerged from his limo chewing gum. The sight dismayed some Chinese, one of whom said the U.S. leader appeared to be an “idler.” Meanwhile, the Russian president got folks all hot and bothered by putting his coat around the Chinese first lady’s shoulders. She quickly removed it — as did the censors from Chinese social media — so warm relations did not ensue.
They’re convenient, shiny and deadly. The handy plastic pockets of detergent meant to make parents’ lives easier are a toxic hazard for young children. The pods are bursting with concentrated, lethal chemicals — and unfortunately are also squishy, colorful toddler attractions. A new study found that between 2012 and 2013 there were 17,230 incidents involving American kids and the poisonous packets. One child has died, and 769 more have been hospitalized. Many parents are now pitching the pods and opting for a measure of caution.
An Italian judge has proven that administering justice is more of an exact science than predicting earthquakes. On Monday, he acquitted six seismologists who were sentenced in 2012 to six years in prison, essentially for failing to warn the 309 people killed in the 2009 L’Aquila temblor. The scientific community was stunned by the sentences, especially given that quakes are impossible to predict. One conviction held, and the single seismologist serving a two-year term says he can face “God and man” with a clear conscience.
If “Only” she had thought it through. Nicki Minaj says she’s sorry that her creative team released a new animated video featuring Leni Riefenstahl-esque shots of marching troops in red armbands, military machinery, buildings draped in banners and herself as a Hitler-like figure. The obvious nod to Nazi propaganda drew a rebuke from the Anti-Defamation League — noting the video debuted on the anniversary of Kristallnacht — and fans alike. The rapper said she would “never condone Nazism in my art,” pointing out that two producers on the video are Jewish.
Basketball in the U.S. just doesn’t cut it. American female hoopsters are the best in the world, but they score an average annual salary of $75,000, compared to $5.15 million for their male counterparts. Overseas, women can net twice as much, and many young players sign on for stints with European teams. But it isn’t like a semester abroad in Paris. A small town like Sopron, Hungary, for example, is far from home for an American 22-year-old, and homesickness and boredom take their toll.