Hard Numbers: Azerbaijan “votes” for Aliyev, UN seeks Sudan aid, Marines missing in California, Orcas swim to safety off Japan, Marianne Williamson calls it quits
94: Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev was “reelected” almost unanimously on Wednesday, garnering 94% of the vote to secure his fifth term in office, according to a state media exit poll. Aliyev likely called the snap election to leverage any good feelings he generated with his quick war last September to take control of the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh. While Azerbaijan’s elections are neither free nor fair, it’s a step up from 2013, when the country released election results before the polls opened.
4,100,000,000: Ten months of fighting between the rebel Rapid Support Forces and the Sudanese Army have left 8 million people in Sudan displaced and 12,000 dead, with some 18 million facing acute hunger. In response, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, is seeking $4.1 billion in international support for victims of Sudan’s civil war.
5: A US Marine Corps helicopter carrying five troops disappeared early Wednesday, prompting search and rescue efforts. The crew was flying from Creech Air Force Base in Clark County, Nev., to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, Calif. The aircraft disappeared near Pine Valley, a mountainous area east of San Diego. Authorities say the helicopter has been found, but the search for the crew members continues.
12: A dozen orcas that were trapped in ice off Japan’s northern island have made it to safety. Fishermen spotted the pod earlier this week, prompting public concern for their welfare. A group of environmentalists even asked Japan’s government to send an ice breaker to free the killer whales, but they seem to have managed an escape on their own. Fun fact: “Killer whale” is a misnomer. Orcas are in the dolphin family, and fishermen originally referred to them as “whale killers” due to their hunting of large marine animals.
2: And then there were two... Marianne Williamson on Wednesday dropped out of the race for the 2024 Democratic presidential nomination. This means Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota is President Joe Biden's only remaining challenger, although he has little to no chance of success.