The foreign press has a lot to say about the U.S. Here are today’s top stories from around the world:
Wheeling and dealing sets the stage for next pontiff
The last non-European pope ended his reign in 741 A.D. We might be in line for another as the race to succeed Pope Benedict XVI heats up. One candidate? Odilo Scherer, a cardinal from Brazil. Scherer is the Archbishop of São Paulo, the largest diocese in the world’s largest Catholic country. And he just might receive the backing of the United States’ Catholic Church as well.
The Brazilian newspaper Estadão reports that Timothy Dolan and Sean O’Malley, the archbishops of New York and Boston, respectively, might shelve their own candidacies in order to present a united front in the papal conclave expected to begin next week. According to Estadão, the American cardinals are concerned that sex scandals in the U.S. would damage their bids for the papacy, though the Brazilian church has been tainted by similar crimes in recent years.
Latin America contains 39.5 percent of the world’s Catholic population. North America has another 8 percent for a total of 46.5 percent between the two continents. The betting website PaddyPower.com has provided odds for the identity of the next pope. Currently in the lead is Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana at 3/1. Cardinal Scherer of Brazil is ranked fifth, according to the website, with odds of 16/1 while Cardinal O’Malley is listed at 25/1 and Cardinal Dolan at 33/1.
All this led us to wonder: Is it a sin to bet on papal elections?
The full list is here.
A cure for HIV?
French scientists, including the man widely credited with discovering HIV-AIDS, are “urging caution” about the case of a baby reportedly cured of the virus, according to a report on France24.com. The baby was born with HIV, but a course of anti-retroviral drugs reduced the virus to a low enough level that the immune system of child, now two-and-a-half-years old, can control it without further treatment.
Even so, this is far from the end of the road. The baby’s doctors described the cure as “functional,” rather than “complete.”
“One would need to follow up with the child periodically to know whether or not the virus will return or not,” Professor Luc Montagnier, the French scientist who was one of the first to identify AIDS, told France24. “It all depends on the persistence of the ‘reservoir’ [the group of cells in which the virus can lie dormant for several years].”
Jean-François Delfraissy, director of France’s National Agency for AIDS Research, agreed with that assessment.
“One would need several years to pass before we can call this a ‘cure’,” Delfraissy explained. “We don’t yet know if the virus will wake up and release new viral particles.”
In July of 2012, a team from Delfraissy’s agency also discovered a “functional” cure for HIV by giving patients “early and aggressive treatment” within the first ten weeks of their infection.
And you think gas prices in America are high?
The price of gas in China keeps climbing and climbing. In February, a gallon of fuel cost $4.93 in Beijing, according to the Chinese website cngold.org. (The average cost in the U.S. for a gallon of unleaded was $3.42).
Many Chinese have been expressing their anger over the high cost of gas on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter. One user complained, “The gas price in China is 1.5 yuan per liter (about $0.9/gallon) higher than the gas price in America while the gas quality is much lower than that in America.” More than 13,000 Weibo users shared his post. Another user added, “So this is so called ‘Chinese-style socialism’.”
But China actually isn’t the worst-off country when it comes to gas. In Turkey, a gallon will cost you an unbelievable $9.77! That compares with Venezuelans who, thanks to abundant natural reserves and state subsidies, pay just $0.1 per gallon.
Want to see more data on gas prices around the world? Check out this website.
Drunken deliberations spoil UN budget plans
And, finally, your “I can’t believe this is real” story of the day: The U.S. has asked UN diplomats to refrain from drinking before important budget meetings.
“We make the modest proposal that the negotiating rooms should in future be an inebriation-free zone,” Joseph Torsella, deputy U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said in comments carried by Reuters. “While my government is truly grateful for the strategic opportunities presented by some recent past practices, let’s save the champagne for toasting the successful end of the session, and do some credit to the Fifth Committee’s reputation in the process.”
Drunk politicians negotiating budget deals? Wait, could that have had anything to do with how we got stuck with the sequester?