In brief: Chile sends tugboat to rescue drifting ship
Santiago, Chile – A Chilean military tugboat was heading to Antarctica on Thursday to prevent an environmental disaster by retrieving a Chinese fishing ship that caught fire and began to drift dangerously near sharp glaciers.
The Kai Xin vessel burned off the coast of Antarctica on Wednesday. Its 97 crew members were rescued by the Juvel, a Norwegian ship, about 34 miles from Chile’s Bernardo O’Higgins research base near the Antarctic peninsula.
The Kai Xin is now unmanned, and a navy tugboat left port in Punta Arenas, near the southern tip of South America, to tow the ship to harbor.
“The ship has been drifting in zigzags and circles at about 5 knots per hour. It’s very close to glaciers and we’ve sent the tugboat in case it hits the coast causing an oil spill,” said Capt. Juan Villegas, maritime governor for Chile’s portion of Antarctica.
Kerry warns against tougher Iran sanctions
Washington – Secretary of State John Kerry implored Congress on Thursday not to impose tough new sanctions on Iran, warning that such a move could disrupt diplomacy over Tehran’s disputed nuclear program at a delicate moment.
Appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry said that because Iran is two months away from an election, new U.S. economic penalties could become an inflamed political issue and reduce the chances of a deal to curb the nuclear program.
“There’s an enormous amount of jockeying going on, with the obvious normal tension between hard-liners and people who want to make an agreement,” he told committee Chairman Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J.
Kerry’s comments exposed again the tension between Congress’ desire to hit Iran with ever-tougher sanctions and the Obama administration’s concern that penalties could undermine diplomacy and strain the international coalition seeking to curb the nuclear program.
Pope eliminates bonus for Vatican employees
Vatican City – The global economic crisis is hitting Vatican employees in their cassock pockets.
The Vatican said Thursday that Pope Francis, known for his frugal ways, decided Vatican employees won’t be getting the bonus that traditionally comes with the election of a new pope.
In the past, the Vatican’s 4,500-plus workers – both religious and lay – would receive an extra little something upon the death of one pope and another upon the election of his successor: In 2005, the total reportedly came to nearly $2,000 apiece.