School bus plunges into gorge, killing at least 23 children
A school bus plunged off a mountain road Monday into a deep gorge in the Himalayan foothills, killing 23 children, some as young as 4, officials said. Four adults also died, said Sandeep Kumar, a local official. Ten children were hospitalized. Initial reports indicated the bus driver was speeding as he took the children home and lost control at the edge of the Kangra Valley gorge. The bus fell 200 feet, said Officer Sunil Kumar. The adults killed were the bus driver, two teachers and another woman, officials said. Most of the children were believed to be in elementary school. The search for survivors ended late Monday night, with the bodies of the dead lying on the concrete floor of the Nurpur mortuary, covered by sheets. India’s roads, particularly in the hills, have long been feared for their deep potholes, reckless drivers and often a lack of guardrails. Fatal accidents are common. "I am deeply anguished by the loss of lives," Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted. "My prayers and solidarity with those who lost their near and dear ones."
Palestinian teen faced threats, innuendo in Israeli questioning
The family of prominent Palestinian protester Ahed Tamimi on Monday released excerpts from a video in which an Israeli interrogator threatens the then-16-year-old with the arrest of her relatives if she refuses to cooperate. The interrogator also, in sexual innuendos, comments on her body. The agent of the Israeli military intelligence branch at times moves within inches of the teenager, who repeatedly asserts her right to remain silent. The Israeli military said the Justice Ministry is examining her complaint of improper conduct. Bassem Tamimi said the video is evidence of Israel’s failure to break his daughter. He portrayed Ahed Tamimi as a symbol of resistance to Israel’s 51-year-old military occupation. A West Bank rights group said a majority of minors have reported being verbally abused, intimidated or humiliated in Israeli custody. Tamimi is serving an eight-month prison term — the result of a plea deal — for slapping and kicking two Israeli soldiers after learning troops seriously wounded her teen cousin.
Studio Ghibli’s Takahata dies
Isao Takahata, a film director who founded Studio Ghibli with Hayao Miyazaki in 1985 and made sophisticated animated films like the elegiac World War II drama Grave of the Fireflies, died early Thursday in Tokyo. He was 82. The cause was lung cancer, Studio Ghibli said. Miyazaki’s name is more recognizable, perhaps due to the smaller output of Takahata, who took longer on his work. But Takahata’s slow pace led to meticulously crafted films. Many of his movies were popular, particularly in Japan. Many critics praised his work, especially 1988’s Grave of the Fireflies, a harrowing tale of a brother and sister trying to survive after Japan is devastated by American firebombing during World War II, drawing on his own experiences. Critic Roger Ebert called the film "an emotional experience so powerful that it forces a rethinking of animation." Takahata’s movies didn’t stick to one style, ranging from naturalistic (1994’s Pom Poko) to comic strip (1999’s My Neighbors the Yamadas) and watercolor (his last film, 2013’s The Tale of the Princess Kaguya). The Tale of the Princess Kaguya took Takahata about a decade to finish, though he worked on other films at the same time. It was nominated for an Oscar in 2015.
Kremlin calls off West romance: Russia has abandoned its centuries-long aspirations of integrating into the West and is bracing for a new era of "geopolitical loneliness," a top adviser to President Vladimir Putin warned in a magazine released Monday. Vladislav Surkov wrote for Russia in Global Affairs that "Russia’s epic journey toward the West" is over, marking an end to its "repeated vain attempts to become part of Western civilization" over four centuries. Surkov’s article echoes statements from Putin. Russia-West ties have sunk to post-Cold War lows.
Panama hotel spat highlights Trump’s conflict of interest: U.S. President Donald Trump’s company appealed directly to Panama’s president to intervene in its fight over control of a luxury hotel, even invoking a treaty between the two countries, in what ethics experts say was a blatant mingling of Trump’s business and government interests. The recent appeal from Trump Organization lawyers to President Juan Carlos Varela was apparently unsuccessful. But it provides hard proof of exactly the kind of conflict experts feared when Trump refused to divest from his empire. — tbt* wires