Chatter: Dozens drowned in Hong Kong boat crash




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Need to know:
Dozens of people have been killed, more than 100 injured and six arrested after two passenger boats collided off Hong Kong.

The crash took place last night near Lamma Island, when a ferry hit a pleasure boat. That boat, which was carrying more than 120 utility company employees and their families on to watch a firework display for China's National Day, sank almost entirely within minutes. The ferry returned safely to port.

Three crew members from each vessel are under investigation for allegedly endangering lives at sea.

At least 37 bodies had been recovered by this morning, including five children. The search for survivors, and victims, continues.

Want to know:
Georgia's ruling party has admitted defeat in the country's landmark parliamentary elections.

President Mikheil Saakashvili conceded that his United National Movement lost its majority to the opposition coalition Georgian Dream, headed by billionaire businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili. Saakashvili said he would respect the people's decision and lead his party into opposition.

The result marks the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union that Georgia has changed governments by a democratic vote, not a revolution.

Dull but important:
New York's Attorney General is suing JPMorgan Chase over mortgage-backed securities sold by Bear Stearns.

The civil fraud suit is the first strike by the task force formed by President Barack Obama earlier this year to punish wrongdoing that contributed to the financial crisis.

It accuses Bear Stearns, which JPMorgan bought in 2008, of peddling securities tied to risky mortgage loans – having either failed to check for defects or ignored them, in order to make as many sales as possible. When the securities later turned into bad debt, investors were left more than $20 billion out of pocket.

JPMorgan says it will contest the allegations.

Just because:
Venezuela votes in its presidential election this Sunday, and incumbent Hugo Chavez is widely expected to win – even despite a soaring murder rate, inflation and alleged abuses of power.

But Chavez is not an exception. Rather, he's the best known of a new breed of Latin American strongmen who — under a veneer of constitutionality — concentrate power in their own hands, marginalize opponents and use public resources to stack electoral races in their favor.

GlobalPost examines why, some three decades after the fall of the military dictatorships that once terrorized Latin America, democracy in the region is once again under attack.

Strange but true:
First, the pig farmers cried pork shortage. "Porkpocalypse!" the hog-guzzling world wailed back, wiping the curdled residue of last night's bacon sundae from its maw.

Then: this happens. An Oregon hog farmer went to feed his herd and never came back. All they found of him were his dentures and other, unspecified "remains."

This disturbing development leaves the world with two choices, as we see it: swear off swine and switch to seitan chops instead; or eat them, eat them all. Before it's too late.