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Holding out hope, fearing the worst: A man looks out from the shore in Jindo, South Korea, toward where a passenger ferry sank Wednesday and nearly 300 people are still missing. (Reuters/Landov)

No Sign Yet Of Hundreds Missing After South Korean Ferry Disaster

Apr 17, 2014

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A second day of dangerous efforts to reach any survivors has ended with still no sign of the nearly 300 people — most of them high school students — believed to be trapped aboard a South Korean ferry that has capsized in the Yellow Sea.

South Korean Coast Guard authorities said Thursday that divers have not been able to get into any of the cabins aboard the overturned ship, the Sewol. Bad weather and rough seas are said to be hampering the search efforts. South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reports that "diving operations were suspended altogether around 1 p.m. [Thursday, local time] due to bad weather, officials said." South Korea is 13 hours ahead of the eastern U.S.

Meanwhile, it's not yet clear what caused the disaster, NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports from the South Korean port of Jindo. Survivors have said they heard and felt a loud bang early Wednesday (local time) just before the ship began to list. The ship may have deviated from its usual course, which raises the possibility that it hit something that wasn't on navigation charts. Yonhap News writes that Koh Myung-seok, a senior Coast Guard official, told reporters that the ferry "took a path slightly different from the route recommended by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries."

There are more reports, similar to those first heard on Wednesday, about a delay in the order to abandon ship that may have contributed to the large number of passengers who didn't make their way to safety. Survivors are telling of orders they were given to don life jackets — but to also remain in place:

"The first instructions from the captain were for the passengers to put on life jackets and stay put, and it was not until about 30 minutes later that [the captain] ordered an evacuation, Oh Yong-seok, a 58-year-old crew member told The Associated Press. The loss of that precious half-hour may have deprived many passengers of the opportunity to escape as The Sewol sank on Wednesday, not too far from the southern city of Mokpo."

The captain is among those who survived. According to the AP, he has spoken to reporters:

" 'I am really sorry and deeply ashamed,' a man identified by broadcaster YTN and Yonhap news agency as the captain, 60-year-old Lee Joon-seok, said in brief comments shown on TV, his face hidden beneath a gray hoodie. 'I don't know what to say.' "

As we reported Wednesday, the Sewol departed from the city of Incheon, South Korea, Tuesday night (local time) for what was supposed to be a 12- to 13-hour voyage south to the resort island of Jeju.

According to authorities, there were 475 people aboard the ferry, which can carry more than 900 passengers. Of those on board, 325 are said to have been high school students from the city of Ansan, near Seoul. They were on a school trip.

As of late Thursday in Korea, officials were saying:

— Nine deaths had been confirmed.

— 179 people had been rescued.

— 287 people were still missing

Those figures will likely change. We will update as they do.

According to Yonhap News, officials say 169 boats and 29 aircraft are taking part in the rescue effort. And: "two salvage cranes are also on their way to the scene to raise the sunken vessel, with one of them expected to arrive on Friday morning and the other in the evening."

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'Over Easy' Serves Up Savory Memories Of A Vintage Diner

by Etelka Lehoczky
Apr 17, 2014

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Etelka Lehoczky

They live among you. One of them may be your neighbor. One probably served you coffee this morning. One may even be writing this article. They are the Bohemians — or the Would-Be Bohemians. And whether you smile fondly upon their hipster specs or shudder at their footwear, they're an unbudgeable presence at the edges of the American scene.

Mimi Pond revisits one long-vanished boho node in Over Easy, a hardbound, two-color graphic novel done in ink and watercolor. It's at once the tale of an art student who gets a job in a diner and much more: a look at a handful of people, brought together by a shared affection for the fringes, who make a temporary haven for a young woman thirsting for Real Life. For every step of young Margaret's progression from mere patron to waitress and friend, Pond deploys a sensibility that's both affectionate and anthropological.

Pond has an impressive resume: she's created comics for some major publications and even wrote the first full-length episode of the Simpsons. But it's easy to see why she was compelled to memorialize a 1970s diner in humble comic form — From the cloth napkins to the fresh-squeezed OJ, the Imperial is no ordinary Oakland, Calif. restaurant. The real difference, though, is the people.

There's Lazlo, the happy-go-lucky manager who's raising three kids in a picturesque yet junkie-ridden neighborhood and writing an opus on the side. If you ask Lazlo for a job, he makes you tell him a joke — if it's funny, he'll consider your application. The method works: The Imperial waitresses, Pond says, "can go from maternal, to deadpan, to dangerous in a split second." So irresistible is their aura that Pond takes a dishwashing job in hopes of becoming a waitress someday. "I dream of slinging plates like poker chips, cracking wise with the customers, and enduring brooding, blue-collar boyfriends," she says. She "practice[s her] hard-boiled stare in the mirror behind the counter" and plans just which 1940s dress she'll wear on her first day out front.

By the time she gets the long-coveted promotion, she's scrubbed a thoroughly unromantic number of filthy rubber mats, said no (and then yes) to offers of cocaine and finally found a boyfriend — only to ditch him two pages later because he liked the song "Baker Street." Meanwhile the other employees continually hook up, un-hook and re-hook with each other and with customers. Margaret's idol is Helen, a "punk Lauren Bacall" who has the guys lining up for counter seats. "If you make her laugh, the clouds part, the sun comes out, life looks good again. I am determined to learn her secrets."

Ultimately, Margaret carves out her own niche, even getting the chance to show off some of those 1940s dresses. She acquires the nickname "Madge," keeps sketchbooks behind the counter to show her favorite customers and helps plan the big Halloween poetry reading. For an uncertain twentysomething living during the disco era, this is Real Life at its finest.

Pond's casual, self-deprecating style is uniquely suited for this nostalgic tale. Her lines are unpretentious and airy, and her people aren't overwhelmed by their affectations; Pond can capture facial expressions with a line or two.

Washes of aqua watercolor lend a gentle depth to every page while slightly blurring the edges. The choice of color is particularly clever, keeping the story from being too "'70s." Who knew aqua could be a timeless shade?

Pond's a little too in love with her diner, alas. For all the charm of Lazlo and Helen, there are many characters that just aren't remarkable. And all too often Pond finds far more interest in some "wacky" development — a waitress having sex in the bathroom, say — than the reader does. But at a time when pockets of uniqueness like this are under siege — which is to say, any time — Over Easy is a sweet tribute.

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Over Easy ( )

Salon Uses Image Of North Korea's Leader To Promote Discount

Apr 17, 2014 (Morning Edition) — The sign with a picture of Jim Jong-un offered 15 percent off all men's cuts through April. Two officials from the North Korean embassy arrived at the London salon and ordered the sign be taken down.

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Over Easy ( )

Lost Sea Lion Pup Found In California Almond Orchard

Apr 17, 2014 (Morning Edition) — The pup was discovered 100 miles from the ocean. It mostly likely swam up the San Joaquin River, hopped out and couldn't find its way back.

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Over Easy ( )

Probe: Gains Of Integration Eroded, Especially In The South

Apr 17, 2014 (Morning Edition) — In 1954, the Supreme Court outlawed segregation. David Greene talks to ProPublica's Nikole Hannah-Jones about her story in The Atlantic. She examines the failure of school desegregation.

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