TIME China

Boat With More Than 450 People Sinks in China’s Yangtze River

Rescue work was under way but strong winds and rain were hampering the search

(BEIJING) — A small cruise ship carrying more than 450 people, many of them elderly, sank overnight in the Yangtze River during a storm in southern China, and eight people have been rescued, the state broadcaster CCTV reported Tuesday.

Rescue work was underway but low visibility due to fog was hampering the search, CCTV said. The boat was traveling from Nanjing upstream to the southwestern city of Chongqing when it sank Monday night in Hubei province, the report said.

The official Xinhua News Agency quoted the captain and chief engineer, who were both rescued, as saying the ship sank quickly after being caught in a cyclone. The Communist Party-run People’s Daily said the ship sank within two minutes.

CCTV said the four-level ship was carrying 406 Chinese passengers, five travel agency employees and 47 crew members. It sank in the Damazhou waterway section, where the river is 15 meters (about 50 feet) deep.

The broadcaster said most of the passengers were 50 to 80 years of age.

CCTV video footage of the river showed calm waters Tuesday morning, with dozens of rescue personnel in bright orange vests gathered on the shore. Several rescue ships were searching the waters, and submersible craft had been deployed.

The channel said seven of the survivors swam to shore and alerted authorities of the sinking.

The Eastern Star measured 251 feet long (76.5 meters) and 36 feet wide (11 meters) and was capable of carrying a maximum of 534 people, CCTV reported. It is owned by the Chongqing Eastern Shipping Corp., which focuses on tourism routes in the popular Three Gorges river canyon region.

CCTV reported that 6 inches (150 millimeters) of rain had fallen in the region over the past 24 hours.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is reported to be traveling to the accident site. Xinhua reported that President Xi Jinping had ordered a work team of the State Council, the country’s Cabinet, to rush to the site to guide the rescue work.

TIME Accident

John Kerry’s Broken Leg Won’t Hinder Iran Talks, U.S. Says

John Kerry switzerland bike
Fabrice Coffrini—Getty Images In this picture of US Secretary of State John Kerry rides his bike during a break in Lausanne on March 16, 2015.

"Meantime, work goes on. Big thanks for well-wishes. #Onward."

(WASHINGTON) — Secretary of State John Kerry headed home Monday to Boston from Geneva, Switzerland, for surgery on his broken leg, as U.S. officials insisted that his injury would not hinder his participation in nuclear negotiations with Iran.

With an end-of-June deadline for an Iranian deal fast approaching, the 71-year-old Kerry left Geneva aboard a U.S. military plane accompanied by his orthopedic surgeon Dennis Burke and additional medical personnel. Officials said Burke is expected in the coming days to perform surgery on Kerry’s right femur, which Kerry fractured on Sunday in a bicycle accident when he struck a curb and fell on a regular Tour de France route in France located southeast of the Swiss city.

He had been receiving treatment at Geneva’s main medical center, HUG, and is to receive further care at Massachusetts General Hospital once he returns home. Kerry, an avid cyclist, had hip replacement surgery several years ago. The fracture was near the hip, leading to speculation that his recovery would be lengthy and prevent him from being as involved in the Iran negotiations as he has been over the past two years.

The State Department sought to tamp down such suggestions, saying that Kerry is committed “to pursuing an aggressive recovery schedule” and had spent much of Sunday and Monday on the phone with colleagues, including President Barack Obama and counterparts, including the French, Spanish and Iranian foreign ministers. Kerry had spent six hours with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamad Javad Zarif on Saturday in Geneva before his bike accident.

“Secretary Kerry’s main focus for the month of June remains squarely on the Iran negotiations,” spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters. “His injury does not change that. He and the entire team are absolutely committed to the same timetable and are working toward June 30th as the deadline for these talks.”

Kerry himself expressed optimism as his plane took off from Geneva, saying on Twitter that that was eager to return to work.

“Look fwd to getting leg set & getting back to @StateDept!” he tweeted. “Meantime, work goes on. Big thanks for well-wishes. #Onward.” In a French-language tweet, Kerry thanked the local Swiss and French police and emergency workers, calling them “real professionals.”

The State Department referred questions about Kerry’s treatment and recovery time to his physicians.

But Harf stressed that Kerry expects to participate in person in upcoming rounds of negotiations with Iran.

At the White House, spokesman Josh Earnest appeared less certain but maintained that Kerry’s broken leg wouldn’t derail the talks.

“We do continue to believe that we have the time and resources necessary to pursue and hopefully complete the Iran negotiations,” Earnest said, expressing confidence that Kerry will continue to play a “critically important and leading role” with hopes of completing the deal by the end of the month.

He said, however, that it was unlikely Kerry would be able to return to his previous pace of travel for the talks.

And, the broken leg has already hit his travel plans.

Kerry had planned to travel to Madrid on Sunday for meetings with Spain’s king and prime minister, before spending two days in Paris for an international gathering to combat the Islamic State. He will now participate in the Paris conference remotely.

Kerry had been taken by helicopter to the Geneva hospital following the accident on Sunday after a paramedic and a physician who were traveling in his motorcade at the time of crash provided him with immediate attention. X-rays confirmed the extent of his injury.

His regular government plane returned Sunday night to the United States carrying much of his staff and reporters who had accompanied him on the trip. He had hoped to leave later in the day on a plane fitted with special medical equipment.

Kerry’s cycling rides have been a regular occurrence on his trips. He often takes his bike with him on the plane and was riding that bicycle Sunday.

TIME College football

UAB Finds Financial Support to Bring Football Back in 2016

Ray Watts UAB President football
Frank Couch—AP UAB President Ray Watts holds a news conference in Birmingham, Ala. Watts is bringing the football program back.

Supporters have pledged to make up the financial deficit from reinstatement

(BIRMINGHAM, Ala.) — UAB President Ray Watts is bringing the football program back six months after deciding to cut three sports because of cost.

Watts told The Associated Press that he decided on Monday morning to reverse the earlier decision after meetings with UAB supporters continued through the weekend. He said donors have pledged to make up the estimated $17.2 million deficit over the next five years if football is restored.

Watts was scheduled to announce the decision to reinstate football, bowling and rifle in 2016 later Monday. He cut the programs last December after UAB commissioned a report saying it would cost $49 million over five years to field a competitive program, generating both a groundswell of criticism for the decision and renewed financial support for the Blazers program.

“Our students, our alumni, the city of Birmingham and now many community members have stepped up with commitments to cover that $17.2 million operational deficit,” Watts said. “That’s why we’re in a position today to make this decision.”

Watts said UAB has dropped an indoor practice facility from the equation since the initial report, and has raised about 10 percent of the estimated $12.5 million- $14.5 million needed for a turf practice field and new fieldhouse.

Without football, UAB would have likely not have remained in Conference USA, which has a bylaw requiring members to field football programs.

Watts said he is sending documents to C-USA and NCAA notifying them of his decision.

C-USA Commissioner Britton Bankowski said members had not wanted to change the rule because “football is something that is critical to our long-term success and part of our core as a conference.”

“It didn’t really come as a great surprise, but we’re very pleased with the decision to bring back football,” Bankowski told AP. “As a conference, we’re committed to football so we welcome the good news that UAB football has been given another chance.”

TIME South Africa

Lion Attack Kills American Woman in South Africa Park

South Africa lions attack
Jerome Delay—AP A male lion stands in the breeze at the Lion Park outside Johannesburg, South Africa,.

The woman was driving around in a wildlife park

(JOHANNESBURG) — A lion killed an American woman and injured a man driving through a private wildlife park in Johannesburg on Monday, a park official said.

The attack occurred at around 2:30 p.m. when a lioness approached the passenger side of the vehicle as the woman took photos and then lunged, said Scott Simpson, assistant operations manager at the Lion Park.

“They had their windows all the way down, which is strictly against policy,” he said. “The lion bit the lady through the window.” The driver then tried to punch the lion and was scratched by the animal.

Park staff quickly chased the lion away from the car and an ambulance arrived promptly. “Unfortunately, she did pass away,” said Simpson, adding that the U.S. Embassy had been informed.

Earlier, the U.S. Embassy confirmed that it had received reports of an “incident involving a U.S. citizen” at the Lion Park and was ready to offer “any assistance possible.”

The Lion Park is a popular destination for tourists who can drive in their own vehicles through large enclosures where lions roam freely. Visitors can also pet lion cubs in smaller pens or have supervised walks through cheetah enclosures.

“Nowhere can you get closer to a pride of lions and other animals and still be completely safe,” says the park’s website.

The park would review its policies, said Simpson, but he believes existing safety measures are “more than adequate,” if visitors follow them. Big signs advise visitors to keep their car windows up and drivers entering the park are also handed a paper with the same warning, he said.

Earlier this year, South African media reported that an Australian tourist was bitten by a lion when he was driving in the park with his windows open. In April, a teenager was attacked by a cheetah when he tried to cut through the park on his bicycle, reported local outlet, News24.

____

Associated Press writers Lynsey Chutel and Courtney Quirin contributed to this report.

TIME Courts

Supreme Court Sides With Muslim Woman Denied Job Over Headscarf

Samantha Elauf hijab
Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images Samantha Elauf, center, her mother Majda Elauf, right, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission General Counsel David Lopes, left, talk to reporters outside the U.S. Supreme Court after the court heard oral arguments in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch in Washington, on Feb. 25, 2015

The headscarf conflicted with Abercrombie & Fitch's Look Policy

(WASHINGTON) — The Supreme Court strengthened civil rights protections Monday for employees and job applicants who need special treatment in the workplace because of their religious beliefs.

The justices sided with a Muslim woman who did not get hired after she showed up to a job interview with clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch wearing a black headscarf.

The headscarf, or hijab, violated the company’s strict dress code, since changed, for employees who work in its retail stores.

Employers generally have to accommodate job applicants and employees with religious needs if the employer at least has an idea that such accommodation is necessary, Justice Antonin Scalia said in his opinion for the court.

Job applicant Samantha Elauf did not tell her interviewer she was Muslim. But Scalia said that Abercrombie “at least suspected” that Elauf wore a headscarf for religious reasons. “That is enough,” Scalia said in an opinion for seven justices.

Federal civil rights law gives religious practices “favored treatment” that forbids employers from firing or not hiring people based on their observance of religion, Scalia said. The federal civil rights law known as Title VII requires employers to make accommodations for employees’ religious beliefs in most instances. Elauf’s case turned on how employers are supposed to know when someone has a religious need to be accommodated.

The decision does not, by itself, resolve her case. Instead, it will return to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, which earlier ruled against her.

“While the Supreme Court reversed the Tenth Circuit decision, it did not determine that A&F discriminated against Ms. Elauf. We will determine our next steps in the litigation,” company spokeswoman Carlene Benz said in an email.

Some business groups said Monday’s ruling will force employers to make assumptions about applicants’ religious beliefs.

“Shifting this burden to employers sets an unclear and confusing standard making business owners extremely vulnerable to inevitable discrimination lawsuits,” said Karen Harned, a top lawyer at the National Federation of Independent Business. “Whether employers ask an applicant about religious needs or not, there is a good chance they will be sued.”

Jenny Yang, chairwoman of the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, praised the court for “affirming that employers may not make an applicant’s religious practice a factor in employment decisions.” The EEOC had sued on Elauf’s behalf.

Elauf was 17 when she interviewed for a “model” position, as the company calls its sales staff, at an Abercrombie Kids store in a shopping mall in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 2008. She impressed the assistant store manager with whom she met. But her application faltered over her headscarf because it conflicted with the company’s Look Policy, a code derived from Abercrombie’s focus on what it calls East Coast collegiate or preppy style.

Abercrombie has since changed its policy on headscarves and has settled similar lawsuits elsewhere.

After the EEOC filed suit, a jury eventually awarded Elauf $20,000.

But the appeals court threw out the award and concluded that Abercrombie & Fitch could not be held liable because Elauf never asked the company to relax its policy against headscarves.

At the Supreme Court’s argument session in February, several justices suggested that employers tell job applicants what the rules are and give them the chance to raise any objections. Awkward conversations at that point would be better than a lawsuit later on, the justices said.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote separately to agree with the outcome, but not with Scalia’s reasoning. Justice Clarence Thomas dissented, saying he would not find that Abercrombie intentionally discriminated against Elauf when it declined to hire her.

The case is EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch, 14-86.

TIME

Qatar Extends Travel Bans on Taliban Leaders Freed in Bergdahl Exchange

Prohibitions had been due to expire Monday

Qatar has agreed to temporarily extend travel bans on five senior Taliban leaders released last year from the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, a senior U.S. official said on Sunday.

The official said the ban would remain in place until diplomatic talks for a longer-term solution are completed. The restrictions had been due to expire on Monday under a May 2014 exchange for Bergdahl. U.S. officials said Friday the Obama administration was closing in on an agreement with Qatar to extend the restrictions for six months that could be announced this weekend. It was not immediately clear why that agreement had not been finalized.

The official said the U.S. remains in “close contact” with Qatari authorities “to make sure these individuals do not pose a threat to the United States.” As a result of the talks to date, Qatar “has agreed to maintain the current restrictive conditions on these individuals as we continue these discussions,” the official said.

The official said the former detainees are all currently in Qatar and remain subject to the travel ban and extensive monitoring. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly speak to the matter.

Under the terms of the exchange, the five detainees were sent to Qatar, where government officials agreed to monitor their activities and prevent them from traveling out of the country for one year. In return, Bergdahl, who had been held captive by the Taliban for nearly five years after walking away from his Army post in Afghanistan, was released to the U.S. military. He recently was charged with desertion.

At least one of the five allegedly contacted militants during the past year while in Qatar. No details have been disclosed about that contact, but the White House confirmed that one was put under enhanced surveillance.

One or more of the detainees met with some members of the al-Qaida-affiliated Haqqani militant group in Qatarearlier in the year, according to Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. That was an indication that the group was reaching out to communicate with the so-called Taliban Five, said Graham, who predicted all five will rejoin the fight.

Four of the five former detainees remain on the United Nations’ blacklist, which freezes their assets and has them under a separate travel ban. But the U.N. itself has acknowledged that its travel ban has been violated. In a report late last year, the U.N. sanctions committee stated, “Regrettably, the monitoring team continues to receive a steady — albeit officially unconfirmed — flow of media reports indicating that some listed individuals have become increasingly adept at circumventing the sanctions measures, the travel ban in particular.”

The State Department insists that U.S. officials work to mitigate the risk of former Guantanamo detainees returning to the fight, threatening Americans or jeopardizing U.S. national security. U.S. officials have noted in the past that the five Taliban leaders are middle-aged or older, were former officials in the Taliban government and probably wouldn’t be seen again on any battlefield, although they could continue to be active members of the Taliban.

Members of Congress have repeatedly expressed concern about what will happen after the travel ban expires and criticized the administration for releasing the five in the first place. They have asked the Obama administration to try to persuade Qatar to extend the monitoring.

Many lawmakers from both parties disapproved when the five Guantanamo detainees were swapped for Bergdahl. They complained that the White House did not give Congress a 30-day notification of the transfer, which is required by law. The White House said it couldn’t wait 30 days because Bergdahl’s life was endangered.

After the transfer, the House Armed Services Committee demanded the Pentagon release internal documents about the swap. The committee received hundreds, but lawmakers complained that they were heavily redacted. The committee inserted language in the fiscal 2016 defense policy bill that threatens to cut Pentagon spending by about $500 million if the Defense Department doesn’t provide additional information about the exchange.

On Friday, lawmakers stepped up their calls.

“This release was a complete overreach by the White House, ignoring U.S. law,” said Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “Already over the past year, it’s been reported that the flimsy ‘security assurances’ in Qatar have been violated, jeopardizing our security. In a few days, these assurances disappear and Taliban leaders will be free to return to the battlefield, putting U.S. security interests and Americans at risk.”

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, meanwhile, said Congress would “continue our efforts to investigate the administration’s handling of the Taliban Five swap.”

TIME South Korea

More Than 680 in South Korea Isolated Over MERS Virus Fears

South Korean Health and Welfare Minister Moon Hyung-pyo speaks during a press conference to announce how to further prevent the spread of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) at the government complex in Seoul, South Korea, Sunday, May 31, 2015.
Ahn Young-joon—AP South Korean Health and Welfare Minister Moon Hyung-pyo speaks during a press conference at the government complex in Seoul on May 31, 2015

The disease can cause breathing problems, pneumonia and kidney failure

(South Korea) — More than 680 people in South Korea have been placed in isolation after having contact with those infected with a virus that has killed hundreds of people in the Middle East, health officials said Monday.

South Korea has reported 17 cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome since a man tested positive following a trip to Saudi Arabia and became the country’s first MERS patient earlier this month. The virus in South Korea has so far been largely limited to medical staff who treated the first patient and who stayed at the same hospital with him, as well as his family members.

South Korean Health Ministry official Kwon Jun-wook told reporters Monday that 682 people who had close contact with the patients, such as their family members and their medical staff, were isolated at their homes or state-run facilities to prevent the spread of the disease.

Ministry officials said the number could rise.

In addition to the 17 cases of MERS in South Korea, the son of one of the patients became China’s first case of the virus last week after having traveled to the country despite being told by doctors to cancel his trip.

MERS was discovered in 2012 and has mostly been centered in Saudi Arabia. It belongs to the family of coronaviruses that includes the common cold and SARS, and can cause fever, breathing problems, pneumonia and kidney failure. The virus is thought to be primarily acquired through contact with camels, but it can also spread from human fluids and droplets.

There have been 1,167 cases of the virus worldwide and 479 of the patients have died, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.

TIME Burma

Matt Dillon Puts Rare Celebrity Spotlight on Rohingya

In this Friday, May 29, 2015 photo, American actor Matt Dillon, right, shakes hands with Noor Alam, a 17-year old Rohingya survivor of human-trafficking at Thetkabyin village, north of Sittwe in the western state of Rakhine, Myanmar.
Robin McDowell—AP Matt Dillon shakes hands with Noor Alam, a 17-year old Rohingya survivor of human-trafficking, at Thetkabyin village, Burma, on May 29, 2015

"They are being strangled slowly, they have no hope for the future and nowhere to go"

(SITTWE, Myanmar) — American actor Matt Dillon put a rare star-powered spotlight on Myanmar’s long-persecuted Rohingya Muslims, visiting a hot, squalid camp for tens of thousands displaced by violence and a port that has served as one of the main launching pads for their exodus by sea.

It was “heartbreaking,” he said after meeting a young man with a raw, open leg wound from a road accident and no means to treat it.

Mothers carrying babies with clear signs of malnutrition stood listlessly outside row after row of identical bamboo huts, toddlers playing nearby in the chalky white dust.

“No one should have to live like this, people are really suffering,” said Dillon, one of the first celebrities to get a first-hand look at what life is like for Rohingya in the western state of Rakhine. “They are being strangled slowly, they have no hope for the future and nowhere to go.”

Though Rohingya have been victims of state-sponsored discrimination for decades, conditions started deteriorating three years ago after the predominantly Buddhist country of 50 million began its bumpy transition from a half-century of dictatorship to democracy.

Taking advantage of newfound freedoms of expression, radical monks started fanning deep-seated societal hatred for the religious minority. Hundreds have been killed by machete-wielding mobs and a quarter million others now live under apartheid-like conditions in camps or have fled by boat -hundreds of dehydrated, hungry Rohingya washing onto Southeast Asian shores in recent weeks.

Denied citizenship, they are effectively stateless with almost no basic rights. As they become increasingly marginalized, several groups are warning that the building blocks of genocide are in place.

“I know that’s a very touchy word to use,” said Dillon, wearing his trademark black T-shirt and jeans. “But there’s a very ominous feeling here.”

“I’ve been to some places where the threats of violence seemed more imminent,” said Dillon, who has also visited refugee camps in Sudan, the Congo and elsewhere. “Here it’s something else. It feels more like people are going to be left to wither away and die.”

Dillon said he decided to come to Myanmar following a desperate, urgent appeal by Rohingya activist Thun Khin at a Refugees International fundraiser in Washington, D.C., just over a month ago. In Japan to promote his new television series, Wayward Pines, he decided it was a good time to make the trip.

“There are people working here, people who know a hell of a lot more about it than I do,” Dillon said after hearing grumbling from some aid workers about what he hoped to achieve. “But listen, if I can use my voice to draw attention to something, where I see people suffering, I’ll do that any day of the week. I’m happy to do that.”

He spoke to two teenage boys who tried to flee by boat, only to find themselves in the hands of human traffickers, and was chased away by armed security guards when trying to snap pictures of the last standing Rohingya neighborhood in the state capital – a ghetto surrounded by tall walls topped by rolls of heavy barbed wire.

But what really choked him up were the camps: “It affected me more than I thought it would.”

While there were clear signs humanitarian agencies are active – new latrines, well-placed hand pumps, concrete open sewers – he noted in contrast to camps he’s visited in Sudan and the Congo, he didn’t run into a single Western aid worker during his two-day visit.

Nor were NGO trucks rumbling through with medical equipment, food or other supplies – due primarily to severe restrictions placed on aid agencies by the government following pressure from Buddhist extremists.

“A lot of people are suffering,” he said. “I’m really glad I had a chance to come, to see for myself what’s happening here.”

TIME Aviation

Solar Impulse Plane Says Stopping in Japan Due to Weather

The next leg of the journey is the longest and most dangerous

A solar plane attempting to fly around the world without a drop of fuel says it is making an unscheduled stop in Nagoya because of bad weather.

The Swiss pilot took off from Nanjing, China, on Sunday for Hawaii on what was to be the longest leg of the journey.

The website and Twitter feed for Solar Impulse 2 said on Monday that the plane would instead land in Nagoya, Japan.

The journey started in March in Abu Dhabi, and the plane has stopped in Oman, India, Myanmar and China. The 8,175-kilometer (5,079-mile) flight from Nanjing to Hawaii was the seventh of 12 flights and the longest and most dangerous.

TIME Rememberance

Betsy Palmer, Friday the 13th Actress, Dies at 88

Chiller Theatre 2007 Spring Expo: Special Guest Zacherley, The Cool Ghould
Bobby Bank—WireImage Betsy Palmer, Chiller Theatre 2007 Spring Expo, Rutherford, NJ

She says she only took the role to pay for a new car

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Betsy Palmer, the veteran character actress who achieved lasting, though not necessarily sought-after, fame as the murderous camp cook in the cheesy horror film “Friday the 13th,” has died at age 88.

Palmer died Friday of natural causes at a hospice care center in Connecticut, her longtime manager, Brad Lemack, told The Associated Press on Sunday.

Palmer had appeared in films, on Broadway and in TV shows for decades before she took the role of Mrs. Voorhees in the campy 1980 movie in which young camp counselors suddenly begin meeting their bloody demise. The back story was that she was the mother of Jason Voorhees, who had died at the camp years before. He would come to life in several sequels that Palmer passed on.

She would say in later years that she only took the role in that first film because she wanted the money to buy a new car.

Palmer had appeared in numerous TV shows dating to the early 1950s Golden Age of Television. Among them were such classic dramas as “Kraft Theatre,” ”Playhouse 90″ and “Studio One.”

Her film credits included “Mr. Roberts” with Henry Fonda, “The Long Gray Line” with Tyrone Power and Maureen O’Hara, “Queen Bee” with Joan Crawford, and “The Tin Star” with Fonda and Anthony Perkins.

Other TV credits included “Knot’s Landing,” ”The Love Boat,” ”Newhart,” ”Just Shoot Me” and “Murder, She Wrote.” She also appeared in several Broadway plays, including “Same Time, Next Year” and “Cactus Flower.”

Palmer is survived by her daughter, Melissa Merendino.

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