Saving face? A coalition of South American leaders is demanding an apology from four European countries over an incident they say smacks of imperialism. After taking off from Moscow last week, Bolivian President Evo Morales’ plane requested permission to land in France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal based on the suspicion that former U.S. intelligence analyst Edward Snowden was on board. After those countries denied his request, Morales eventually touched down in Austria. Snowden, who is wanted in the U.S. on espionage charges, was not on the plane. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro claims an unnamed European minister told him the CIA ordered the plan kept in the air. “The CIA is more powerful that governments,” he said. Morales threatened to close the U.S. embassy over the incident.
Union fight. Commuter trains in the San Francisco Bay area will start running again today after unions called off a strike and the transit authority agreed to extend labor contracts for another month while negotiations for a long-term agreement continue. The four-day strike crippled the city and forced commuters to take to already clogged roadways. Despite the compromise, union representatives say they are not close to reaching a final agreement on salary, pension, safety, and healthcare issues. According to the Bay Area Rapid Transit authority, workers from the two unions involved in the strike average about $71,000 in base salary and $11,000 in annual overtime. They pay a flat $92 monthly fee for health insurance.
Marching in. Today Pope Francis cleared two of his predecessors for sainthood. John Paul II and John XXIII will both be made saints before the end of the year. To be canonized, someone must have performed a miracle verified by a Vatican committee. In John Paul II’s case, the miracle involved the healing of a Costa Rican woman. Doctors could not explain how her cerebral aneurism disappeared after they had given her just one month to live. But for John XXIII, Pope Francis bypassed the committee and approved him for sainthood, even though he’s not credited with any verified miracles. The Pope has the authority to canonize someone on his or her own merit, absent a miracle.
Outbreak. The World Health Organization (WHO) will hold an emergency meeting to discuss the deadly MERS virus, which health officials fear could turn into a worldwide epidemic. They are particularly concerned about the virus’ impact and potential spread during the Islamic hajj pilgrimage in October. Despite fears, the virus has had a relatively limited effect so far, mostly in Saudi Arabia. But death rates are much higher than those associated with a previous, similar virus known as SARS. So far, 43 patients—54 percent of those who contracted MERS—have died. During the SARS outbreak in Asia in 2003, 9 percent of patients died.