There is an interesting article at Quartz looking at the PR problem Pope Francis could face if he tries to mend relations with Beijing.
For those of you not up to date on Sino-Vatican relations, China hasn't held official talks with the Holy See since the 1950s. The communist country actually allows a state-sponsored version of the church to exist, but it has clashed repeatedly with the Vatican. Several of its bishops were even excommunicated after they were appointed without the Vatican's approval.
There have been signs, however, that relations have been thawing — the most notable example being when Pope Francis and Chinese President Xi Jiping exchanged correspondence — and speculation has been growing that the pope might make a visit. (And no, it's not because Pope Francis has a natural affinity to a communist country.) At Quartz, Heather Timmons shows just what a minefield such a visit could turn out to be:
There are an estimated 12 million Catholics in China, but they are divided between the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, a group created by Communist Party in 1957 that does not recognize the Vatican as its head, and an underground, technically illegal, Catholic church that recognizes the Pope (and still has millions of members).
Visiting China in an official capacity would almost certainly require a meeting with the former, but Pope Francis would be unlikely to want to come without a promised meeting with the underground group as well, which would embarrass Beijing. [Quartz]
On Sunday, New York City fire fighters pulled two bodies from the wreckage of the three buildings in Manhattan's East Village that collapsed after an explosion on Thursday. The two bodies have been identified as Nicholas Figueroa, 23, and Moises Ismael Locón Yac, 27, the only two people reported missing. Figueroa was on a lunch date at Sushi Park, a restaurant in the building at the center of the explosion, and Yac, a Guatemalan immigrant, was a busboy at the restaurant.
Officials are still investigating the cause of the explosion, but early indications point to unsafe tampering with a gas line in Sushi Park's building at 121 Second Ave. Watch an emotional New York Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro announce the discoveries in the Associated Press video below. —Peter Weber
John Oliver does not like pranks, or any day encouraging them. "April Fools' Day is to comedy as St. Patrick's Day is to Irish culture," he said in this Last Week Tonight video posted Sunday night: "That is to say, it is a very mockery of the concept that usually ends in a fist fight." Pranks make people sad, he added, and "anyone who claims to be excited about April Fools' Day is probably a sociopath, because what they're really saying is, 'I cannot wait to hurt the people close to me.'" If you agree with Oliver at the end of his well-thought-out spiel, you can take his No-Prank Pledge. And, as this is HBO, some of the language is mildly NSFW. —Peter Weber
If President Obama had The Rock's build, he would have a much easier time getting Republicans to do what he wants. Or, at least, he would have a much easier time tossing them out windows and ripping off their limbs when they made him angry, as was the case in this Saturday Night Live sketch featuring Dwayne Johnson as "The Rock Obama."
"Don't be alarmed," Johnson says after some maddening Republican subversion causes him to hulk out and rip through his suit. "The Rock Obama much like Barack Obama, only larger and more violent." —Jon Terbush
Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina on Sunday crept closer to a White House bid, saying in an interview with Fox News there is a "higher than 90 percent" chance she will run.
"As other potential candidates are doing, we need to make sure we have the right team in place, that we have the right support," she said, adding that an announcement would likely come in late April or early May.
A political neophyte, Fiorina ran for Senate in California in 2010 but lost by a 10-point margin. A CNN poll earlier this month found her with less than 1 percent of the vote in a hypothetical GOP primary. —Jon Terbush
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) on Sunday took a none-too-subtle swipe at Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, the presumptive frontrunners for their parties' 2016 nominations.
"The presidency of the United States is not some crown to be passed between two families," O'Malley, himself a prospective White House candidate, said on ABC's This Week. "It is an awesome and sacred trust to be earned and exercised on behalf of the American people." —Jon Terbush
What would Bambi look like with bulging muscles and an entourage of woodland gunmen? That's the question Saturday Night Live answered with a Fast and the Furious–meets-Disney reboot staring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as the titular orphaned deer.
"When I was a boy, they took away my mother," Johnson says in the faux trailer. "Now it's time for them to pay — dearly." —Jon Terbush
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday assailed the emerging details of a nuclear agreement intended to curb Iran's nuclear program.
"This agreement, as it appears, confirms all of our concerns and even more so," he said.
The U.S. and Iran have three days left before the deadline to reach a framework deal.