India heatwave toll passes 1,000
The death toll in the heatwave sweeping India has passed 1,000, with temperatures nearing 50C (122F) in some areas. Most deaths have taken place in the southern states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, where at least 1,118 people have died since last week. Reports say at least 24 people have died from the heat in West Bengal and Orissa.
There are over 200 million fewer hungry people now than 25 years ago: U.N.
The number of hungry people around the world has dropped to 795 million from over a billion a quarter-century ago despite natural disasters, ongoing conflicts and poverty, the three U.N. food agencies said Wednesday. Countries in East Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean showed the most progress in reducing hunger, thanks in part to economic growth that didn’t exclude the poor, investments in agriculture and political stability, the agencies said in their annual State of Food Insecurity report.
Texas dam holds as rescue efforts continue after storms
Texas police have evacuated residents living near an overflowing dam southwest of Dallas as a large part of the southern US continued to reel from floods brought on by powerful storms. Flood waters were flowing over the dam on Wednesday, but county engineers said the structure is expected to hold. Rescuers continued to search for the missing after the storms, which killed at least 17 in Texas and Oklahoma.
American Competitiveness & Economic Diplomacy
EU officials dismiss Greek statement on aid agreement being drafted
Lefteris Papadimas / Reuters
Greece’s government on Wednesday said it is starting to draft an agreement with creditors that would pave the way for aid, but European officials quickly dismissed that as wishful thinking.
Greece and its European and International Monetary Fund lenders have been locked in tortuous negotiations on a reforms agreement for four months without a breakthrough in sight. Without a deal, Athens risks default or bankruptcy in weeks.
Robin Emmott / Reuters
The European Parliament will seek to support a trade deal with the United States in two crucial votes, but the issue of how companies settle disputes will remain the pact’s Achilles heel, a senior EU lawmaker said on Wednesday. Opposition to the proposed EU-U.S. free-trade agreement is intensifying in Europe and many EU lawmakers from the far-left, far-right and the Greens are determined to block the pact. The 751-seat chamber has the power to reject it.
National Security & Strategy
Migrant crisis: EU asks states to accept 40,000 asylum seekers
The European Commission has called on EU member states to take in 40,000 asylum seekers from Syria and Eritrea who land in Italy and Greece over the next two years. Germany, France and Spain would receive the most migrants under the Commission’s latest plan.
Punishing Storms in Texas Test Government Emergency Response
Paul J. Weber and Juan A. Lozano / Associated Press
Crews resumed searching Wednesday for the 11 people who went missing in the small tourist town of Wimberley, where the usually calm Blanco River surged rapidly and crested at three times its flood stage. In Houston, where nearly a foot of rain submerged roads and stranded hundreds of motorists, Mayor Annise Parker said two people who capsized in a boat that was helping with rescue efforts Tuesday had not been found. It was raining there again Wednesday.
U.S., Experts See No Major Change in China Defense Strategy
Gordon Lubold / Wall Street Journal
Beijing’s shift in military focus to maritime warfare is no surprise, according to senior U.S. defense official. The Chinese “white paper” on defense strategy—which said Beijing plans to shift its armed forces’ focus toward maritime warfare—confirmed trends the U.S. has been monitoring for some time, a senior U.S. defense official said.
After years of setbacks, the embattled F-35 fighter jet could soon be ready for combat
Christian Davenport / Washington Post
For the Marine Corps, the flights the F-35s have been taking around the USS Wasp for the past week have been as much a victory lap as they were training exercises. And in the days ahead, as the stealthy fighter jets begin their first operational tests from a ship—tactical exercises designed to simulate Top Gun-like engagements—the Marine Corps will move one step closer to declaring that the F-35 is ready for combat. When exactly that day will come is still uncertain—the Marines are pushing for sometime in July. And there is still more testing, inspections and nit-picking to be done for the $400 billion program.
Air strikes kill at least 80 in deadliest bombings of Yemen war
Mohammed Ghobari / Reuters
Saudi-led air strikes killed at least 80 people near Yemen’s border with Saudi Arabia and in the capital Sanaa on Wednesday, residents said, the deadliest day of bombing in over two months of war in Yemen. Iranian-backed Houthi rebels seized Sanaa last September and then thrust into central and south Yemen. Seeing the Houthi advance as a bridgehead for Iranian influence in the region, a Saudi-led coalition began air strikes on March 26 in a campaign to restore Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to power.
ISIS hits back as Iraq tries to retake Anbar
Iraq said Wednesday that Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants had launched a new wave of deadly suicide attacks targeting troops in Anbar province. The bombings came just hours after the start of a new offensive against the extremist group in the sprawling province west of Baghdad. Iraqi officials said at least 17 troops were killed by the bombs.
How Boko Haram is turning children into weapons
Sarah Kaplan / Washington Post
In the months since, Boko Haram has used the tactic with alarming frequency, UNICEF announced Tuesday. The U.N. group has recorded 27 suicide bombings in northeast Nigeria since the start of 2015 — more than were counted in all of last year. In at least three-quarters of the incidents, women and girls were used to carry out the attacks. “Children are not instigating these suicide attacks; they are used intentionally by adults in the most horrific way,” Jean Gough, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, said in a press release. “They are first and foremost victims – not perpetrators.”
Rezaul Hasan Laskar / Hindustan Times
An abortive attempt by militants to storm a guesthouse in Kabul popular with foreigners was part of the “spring offensive” launched by the Afghan Taliban, whose annual campaign has usually resulted in significant casualties. Tuesday’s attack on the guesthouse owned by the Rabbani family, including foreign minister Salahuddin Rabbani, was foiled and four Taliban militants armed with rocket launchers and assault rifles were gunned down after a firefight that lasted more than six hours.
Global warming could shrink glaciers in the Mount Everest region by 70 percent, study finds
Chris Mooney / Washington Post
The iconic Mount Everest could see a major loss of its glaciers over the course of this century, according to a new scientific study that its chief author calls the “the first detailed modelling study of all glaciers in the Dudh Koshi basin in the Everest region of Nepal.” “The biggest result here is that the glaciers in the basin, we find them to be more sensitive to temperature than anyone expected before,” says Shea.
Darryl Fears / Washington Post
In Australia, public officials didn’t sugarcoat the impact of drought. They communicated to residents in plain terms that essentially asked them to imagine a world without water. And residents responded, cutting use in half. They went from using an average of about 80 gallons per resident per day in every household to about 40. In Los Angeles, 80 gallons per resident is considered to be good stewardship. In Palm Springs, the average per resident use is nearly 350 gallons per day. The state average is nearly 110 gallons, according to the report.
Wind Power Could be Coming to All 50 States, Report Says
Joseph Erbentraut / Huffington Post
The United States might just be on the verge of a wind power revolution. Or, at least, the newest generation of wind turbines, featuring taller towers and longer blades, have the potential to push the country in that direction. Because of their design, these turbines can generate more power — and do so more efficiently — even in parts of the country, such as the Southeast, where wind is generally inconsistent and rather slow, according to a report released this month by the U.S. Department of Energy. The newer turbines, currently being developed by the DOE in partnership with some businesses, universities and national labs, could allow for the U.S. to dramatically expand its reliance on wind energy, which currently is responsible for almost 5 percent of the nation’s total electricity generation and is already being used in 39 states.
Iran says nuclear talks with powers might be extended past June 30
Parisa Hafezi / Reuters
A self-imposed deadline of June 30 for Iran and six major powers to reach a final nuclear deal to resolve a decade-long standoff may be extended, Iran’s state TV reported. France’s ambassador to the United States, Gerard Araud, said on Tuesday that the deal was not likely by June 30 because technical details would remain to be agreed.