TIME Middle East

Israeli Navy Intercepts ‘Freedom Flotilla’ Bound for Gaza

Israel Gaza Boat
Majdi Fathi—NurPhoto/Corbis Palestinians wave their national flag as they ride boats during a rally in support of activists aboard a Pro-Gaza flotilla made up of four boats aimed at defying Israel's blockade of Gaza, at the seaport of Gaza City on June 28, 2015.

The "Freedom Flotilla" was boarded without force

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s navy intercepted a Swedish vessel attempting to breach a naval blockade of Gaza early Monday and was redirecting it to an Israeli port, the military and the activists said.

The military said that after exhausting all diplomatic efforts, the government ordered it to block the vessel. Israeli naval forces boarded the Marianne ship and searched it in international waters without needing to use any force, the military said.

The ship was carrying about 20 activists, including Israeli Arab lawmaker Basel Ghattas and former Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki. Three other ships that were part of the original flotilla reversed course before encountering the Israeli navy.

The Freedom Flotilla group posted a photo on Twitter apparently showing a group of its activists onboard a ship. It said in the post that Israeli forces intercepted the Marianne and it was currently en route to Ashdod port. The ship was expected to arrive in Ashdod in 12 to 24 hours.

Petros Stergiou, a member of flotilla’s media team in Athens, said the group would continue its acts of protest until the blockade of Gaza was lifted.

“Once again, the Israeli state commits an act of state piracy in the Mediterranean Sea,” he said. “The government continues this policy of non-tolerance, which means that it will continue to enforce the collective punishment against the 1.8 million people in Gaza.”

A 2010 Israeli raid against a Gaza-bound flotilla left nine Turkish pro-Palestinian activists dead. It sparked international criticism of Israel and delivered a serious blow to its previously close ties with Turkey.

Israel has maintained a blockade of Gaza since Hamas militants took power in 2007. Islamic militants in the coastal strip have fired thousands of rockets toward Israel and have repeatedly tried to smuggle in arms through the sea.

While Israel insists there is no siege, there are severe restrictions on Palestinian movement and trade, with virtually no exports. The international community, including the United Nations, has repeatedly called for an end to the blockade.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the naval blockade of Gaza is in accordance with international law and has been endorsed by a United Nations committee.

“This flotilla is nothing but a demonstration of hypocrisy and lies that is only assisting the Hamas terrorist organization and ignores all of the horrors in our region,” he said. “We are not prepared to accept the entry of war material to the terrorist organizations in Gaza as has been done by sea in the past.”

Israel says it transfers about 800 trucks a day into Gaza and recently brought in more than 1.6 million tons of goods. It says it assists in hundreds of humanitarian projects, through international organizations, including the building of clinics and hospitals.

TIME Taiwan

Cigarettes or Spark Suspected in Taiwan Fire That Burned 500

Taiwan Fire
AP—AP Police investigators inspect the stage area after an accidental explosion during a music concert at the Formosa Water Park in New Taipei City, Taiwan, June 28, 2015

"It's still not clear what happened, but there were a number of people smoking."

(TAIPEI, Taiwan) — Investigators in Taiwan were focusing Monday on the possibility that a cigarette butt or spark caused the blaze that burned more than 500 people at a weekend water park party when colored powder sprayed from the stage caught fire.

More than 400 people remained hospitalized, 200 in serious condition, city officials said. Taiwan’s Central News Agency reported one death: a 20-year-old with burns to 90 percent of her body who was taken off life support with her family’s consent.

Police recommended criminal charges against the organizer of Saturday’s party, as well as two technicians, at the Formosa Fun Coast theme park in suburban Taipei.

“It’s still not clear what happened, but there were a number of people smoking and the weather was warm,” New Taipei City news department head Lin Chieh-yu said. Temperatures around greater Taipei topped 36 degrees Celsius (96.8F) before the party.

The three tons of colored starch-based powder bought by the organizers from Tai Won, a seller in the island’s southern county of Yunlin, were flammable, said Chou Hui-fang, a representative of the seller. She said the buyer was informed about the risk of fire.

“Whether it’s corn starch or flour starch, this kind of stuff, no matter how long it’s been around, if it’s in dense quantities and if it’s hot, it can catch fire,” Chou said. She said her 4-year-old company has been questioned by police and health officials but was not considered at fault.

“We didn’t know what the buyers were going to do with it or how much they would use,” she said. “It might have been supplies for a whole year.”

Taiwan Premier Mao Chi-kuo on Sunday banned use of the powder at future private events. Colored powder is often thrown on revelers during the annual Holi celebrations in India and Nepal, a Hindu festival. The powder at Saturday’s party was made in Taiwan, Chou said.

The water park was ordered to close after the fire.

Taiwan police recommended charges of professional neglect and public endangerment for party organizer Lu Chung-chi, who was arrested but released on bail of 1 million Taiwan dollars (US$32,000) bail and restricted from leaving the island, a New Taipei City police spokesman said.

Local media photos showed Lu kneeling on the ground to apologize, pledging to take full responsibility.

Police also recommended charges for the stage hardware technician and the person responsible for shooting off the powder. Each was given bail of 300,000 Taiwan dollars. Officers questioned another two involved in the event but did not recommend charges, said Yan Bo-jen, news liaison with the Luzhou Precinct of New Taipei City Police Department.

Prosecutors have also seized the assets of the water park and of the party organizers, the city news official said.

The powder ignited along the ground, mainly burning people’s lower bodies, said Wang Wei-sheng, a liaison with the New Taipei City fire department command center.

Taiwan university student Liang Sheng-kai said flaming powder hit his legs, apparently catching fire after it was sprayed from a concert stage into the front row where he was standing.

With the park’s water features several hundred meters (yards) away, too far to douse the fire or ease burns, people screamed and panicked to find exits as balls of fire surged from the ground, he said. He said the right and left sides of the stage were blocked.

“It was very messy and a lot of people fell over or got knocked down,” said Liang, 20, who is staying in a Taipei hospital for burn treatment.

Four victims were from Hong Kong, two from mainland China and one each from Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, a New Taipei City news official said. Authorities are still checking on the nationalities of three other foreigners. More than 200 were students, Central News Agency said.

A total of 519 people were injured by the fire, according to a statement from the city government’s health bureau.

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AP writer Louise Watt in Beijing contributed to this report.

TIME Greece

Pensioners Queue Outside Banks on 1st Day of Capital Controls

The accelerating crisis has thrown into question Greece's financial future

(ATHENS, Greece) — Banks and ATM machines were shut throughout Greece Monday on the first day of capital controls, a dramatic twist in the country’s five-year financial saga.

Despite the closures, pensioners lined up just after dawn at bank branches hoping they would have access to their pensions, which were due to be paid Monday.

The bank closures came after Greeks rushed to ATMs over the weekend to withdraw money following Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ surprise call for a referendum on creditor proposals for the reforms Greece should take to gain access to blocked bailout funds.

The referendum has been set for Sunday, and the government has been advocating Greeks vote against the proposals.

The capital controls are meant to staunch the flow of money out of Greek banks and spur the country’s creditors to offer concessions before Greece’s international bailout program expires Tuesday.

Once that happens, Greece loses access to the remaining 7.2 billion euros of rescue loans, and is unlikely to be able to meet a 1.6 billion-euro debt repayment to the International Monetary Fund due the same day.

The accelerating crisis has thrown into question Greece’s financial future and continued membership in the 19-nation shared euro currency — and even the European Union.

Asian stock markets sank with indexes in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney down more than 2 percent. Oil prices and the euro also fell. The Athens Stock Exchange remained closed.

Overnight, massive queues formed at gas stations, with worried motorists seeking to fill up their tanks and pay with credit cards while they were still being accepted.

The government announced bank transaction restrictions late Sunday night, limiting daily withdrawals to 60 euros ($67) per person per ATM card. Automatic teller machines were expected to reopen later Monday, while banks would remain shut for at least six days.

Although credit and cash card transactions have not been restricted, in practice most retailers were not accepting card transactions Monday morning.

Many of Greece’s retirees don’t have bank cards and collect their pensions directly from the bank tellers. Long lines of elderly Greeks formed at neighborhood bank branches, despite them being told the banks would not open for the day.

Deputy Minister of State Terence Quick said special arrangements would be made for pensions. Speaking on private Antenna television, he said retirees would be allowed to access their full pensions in cash due to the fact that many don’t have bank cards.

Under the bank transaction restrictions, electronic transfers and bill payments are allowed, but only within the country. The government also stressed the controls would not affect foreign tourists, who would have no limits on cash withdrawals with foreign bank cards.

For emergency needs, such as importing medicines or sending remittances abroad, the Greek Treasury was creating a Banking Transactions Approval Committee to examine requests on a case-by-case basis.

The decision to impose capital controls came after a Bank of Greece recommendation, Tsipras said during a televised address Sunday night.

Tsipras blamed the Eurogroup, the gathering of the eurozone’s finance ministers, and its decision to reject a request for the bailout program, which expires June 30. He again asked for it to be extended by a few days to allow for a referendum.

The referendum decision, ratified by Parliament after a marathon 13-hour session that ended in the early hours of Sunday, shocked and angered Greece’s European partners. The country’s negotiations with its European creditors have been suspended, with both sides accusing each other of being responsible for talks breaking off.

Tsipras also blamed the European Central Bank’s Sunday decision not to increase the amount of emergency liquidity the lenders could access from the central bank — meaning Greece has no way to replenish fast-diminishing deposits.

“It is now more than clear that this decision has no other aim than to blackmail the will of the Greek people and prevent the smooth democratic process of the referendum,” Tsipras said. “They will not succeed.”

 

TIME Burundi

Burundians Vote In Parliamentary Elections Marred By Unrest

Burundi Political Tensions
Berthier Mugiraneza—AP Burundian police take positions as they chase opposition demonstrators on the main road in the capital Bujumbura, Burundi on June 4, 2015

There is heavy security across the city

(BUJUMBURA, Burundi) — Voting is underway in Burundi’s parliamentary elections despite an opposition boycott and the threat of violence as police battle anti-government protesters in the capital.

Gunfire could be heard in some parts of Bujumbura as voting started at 6 a.m., and there is heavy security across the city.

In the Musaga neighborhood, which has seen violent protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term, there were few civilians in sight Monday as mostly police and soldiers lined up to vote.

The voting is taking place despite calls by the international community for a postponement until there is a peaceful environment for credible elections.

Bujumbura has suffered unrest since the ruling party announced on April 26 that Nkurunziza would be its candidate in presidential elections scheduled for July 15.

TIME Greece

Greece Imposes Capital Controls, Banks to Remain Shut

For the past two days, Greeks have been rushing to ATMs

(ATHENS, Greece) — Greece’s five-year financial crisis took its most dramatic turn yet, with the cabinet deciding after an 8-hour session that Greek banks would remain shut for six business days and restrictions would be imposed on cash withdrawals.

The Athens Stock Exchange would also not open Monday, financial sector officials confirmed.

The moves were meant to staunch the flow of money out of Greek banks and spur the country’s creditors to offer concessions before a bailout program expires Tuesday. The accelerating crisis has thrown into question Greece’s financial future and continued membership in the 19-nation shared euro currency — and even the European Union. Asian stock markets sank with indexes in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney down more than 2 percent. Oil prices and the euro also fell.

For the past two days, Greeks have been rushing to ATMs to withdraw money across the country following Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ sudden weekend decision to call a referendum on creditor proposals for Greek reforms in return for vital bailout funds.

A decree published early Monday in the official Government Gazette stipulates banks will not open Monday morning and would remain closed through Monday, July 6. The finance minister could decide to shorten or extend that period.

Withdrawals from ATMs will be capped at 60 euros ($66) daily. The decree said ATMs would be working at the latest 12 hours from its publication, meaning cash machines should open by early afternoon.

Web banking transactions would be mostly free, allowing Greeks to pay bills online. However, they cannot move money to accounts abroad.

Credit and bank cards issued abroad can be used at ATMs with no restrictions, benefiting foreign visitors to Greece and its tourist industry. Anxious tourists had joined locals at ATM lines Sunday, thinking the restrictions would also apply to them.

For emergency needs, such as importing medicines or sending remittances abroad, the Greek Treasury was creating a Banking Transactions Approval Committee to examine requests on a case-by-case basis.

The decision to impose capital controls came after a Bank of Greece recommendation, Tsipras said during a televised address.

Tsipras blamed the Eurogroup, the gathering of the eurozone’s finance ministers, and its decision to reject a request for the bailout program, which expires June 30. He again asked for it to be extended by a few days to allow for a referendum.

The referendum decision, ratified by Parliament after a marathon 13-hour session that ended in the early hours of Sunday, shocked and angered Greece’s European partners. The country’s negotiations with its European creditors have been suspended, with both sides accusing each other of being responsible for talks breaking off.

Tsipras also blamed the European Central Bank’s Sunday decision not to increase the amount of emergency liquidity the lenders could access from the central bank — meaning Greece has no way to replenish fast diminishing deposits.

“It is now more than clear that this decision has no other aim than to blackmail the will of the Greek people and prevent the smooth democratic process of the referendum,” Tsipras said.

“They will not succeed. These moves will have the exact opposite effect. They will make the Greek people more determined in their choice to reject the unacceptable … proposals and ultimatums of the creditors,” he said.

In the referendum set for next Sunday, the government is urging Greeks to vote against its creditors’ proposals, arguing that they are humiliating and that they would prolong the country’s financial woes.

Spooked by rumors concerning impending fuel shortages, drivers flooded gas stations across Greece, prompting the country’s largest refiner, Hellenic Petroleum, to issue a statement reassuring there are sufficient reserves of gasoline to last several months. The rush to gas stations may have been prompted less by worries about shortages than the impending withdrawal limits and rumors, later proven untrue, that the use of credit or debit cards would not be permitted.

Greece’s current bailout expires Tuesday, and the 7.2 billion euros ($8 billion) remaining in it will no longer be available to Greece after that date.

Without those funds, Greece is unlikely to be able to pay a 1.6 billion-euro ($1.79 billion) International Monetary Fund debt repayment due the same day.

“We don’t know — none of us — the consequences of an exit from the eurozone, either on the political or economic front. We must do everything so that Greece stays in the eurozone,” French Prime Minister Manuel Valls told France’s i-Tele TV earlier Sunday.

“But doing everything, that means respecting Greece and democracy, but it’s also about respecting European rules. So Greece needs to come back to the negotiating table,” he said.

Two opinion polls published Sunday indicated that more Greeks want to stay in the eurozone and make a deal with creditors than want a rupture with the country’s European partners. Both polls were conducted before Tsipras’ referendum call, but they provide an indication of public sentiment.

In the poll by Alco for the Proto Thema paper, 57 percent said they believed Greece should make a deal while 29 percent wanted a rupture of ties. A Kapa Research poll for To Vima newspaper found that 47.2 percent would vote in favor of a new, painful agreement with Greece’s creditors, compared to 33 percent who would vote no and 18.4 percent undecided.

Both polls were conducted from June 24-26 and had a margin of error of about 3.1 percent.

On the banking front, the ECB has said it could reconsider its decision on credit levels.

“We continue to work closely with the Bank of Greece and we strongly endorse the commitment of member states in pledging to take action to address the fragilities of euro-area economies,” ECB chief Mario Draghi said.

Yannis Stournaras, governor of the Bank of Greece, said the bank would “take all measures necessary to ensure financial stability for Greek citizens in these difficult circumstances.”

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David McHugh in Frankfurt, Geir Moulson in Berlin and Jamey Keaten in Paris contributed to this report.

TIME Basketball

LeBron James Bypasses Option, Becomes Free Agent, According to AP Source

The 30-year-old's decision has been widely expected for months

For the third time in six seasons, LeBron James is an unrestricted free agent.

The difference this time is he has no plans to move again.

The Cleveland star will not exercise a $21.6 million option on his contract for next season, a person with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press on Sunday. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because neither the Cavaliers nor James were publicly discussing the process.

James’ decision has been widely expected for months. The approach allows him to sign a new maximum contract — likely another two-year deal with a player option for 2017-18 —that will pay him more than he would have made under his previous contract. His max number for next season, which is tied to how high the salary cap rises, is expected to be more than $22 million.

The last time James became a free agent from Cleveland in 2010, he famously left his home state team to play for the Miami Heat. James won two championships and played in four NBA Finals in his four years in Miami before making the celebrated decision to return home last summer.

This time around, James plans to stay put while Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and GM David Griffin set about improving the roster in hopes of surrounding James with the talent he will need to end Cleveland’s 51-year championship drought.

The Cavaliers have plenty of decisions to make and negotiations to conduct for free agents Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson and Iman Shumpert. But the process with James will be fairly straight forward. He’s made it clear through actions and words to Cavaliers management that he isn’t going anywhere.

“We’ve heard from him every day pretty much relative to our roster,” Griffin said last week. “It’s been great. He’s been very much engaged with us on a lot of different levels, so it’s been positive.”

James led the short-handed Cavaliers back to the finals in June and put on a breath-taking performance to make the Golden State sweat it out for six games before Steph Curry and Co. captured the Warriors’ first title since 1975. With Love and Kyrie Irving out with injuries, James averaged 35.8 points, 13.3 rebounds, 8.8 assists and almost 46 minutes in the series.

If James signs another two-year contract with a player option on the second year, it would allow him to reap the financial windfall that is expected when the NBA’s new television contract kicks in next summer and sends the salary cap sky-rocketing.

Teams can start negotiating with players on July 1 and sign them to contracts beginning July 8.

James’ deal will likely be tabled while the Cavaliers address Thompson, Love and Shumpert, who is a restricted free agent.

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AP Sports Writer Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this report.

TIME golf

Watson Wins Travelers Championship On 2nd Playoff Hole

Bubba Watson
Jessica Hill—AP Bubba Watson holds the championship trophy after winning the Travelers Championship golf tournament, Sunday, June 28, 2015, in Cromwell, Conn. Watson beat out Paul Casey in a playoff

"I hung on, and that's what you have to do sometimes to win"

(CROMWELL, Conn.) — Bubba Watson is hard to beat in a playoff.

The long-driving lefty made an 8-foot birdie putt on the second extra hole Sunday to outlast Paul Casey for his second Travelers Championship victory.

Watson improved to 5-1 in overtime.

Casey overcame a three-stroke deficit with five to play, catching Watson at 16-under 264 in light rain at TPC River Highlands.

But the 37-year-old Englishman, playing the tournament for the first time, lost his chance at the title while playing the par-4 18th for the third time when his third shot from a greenside bunker flew over the green and landed on the cart path.

Watson hit his 160-yard approach just to the right of the hole to set up his winning putt.

“I hung on, and that’s what you have to do sometimes to win,” Watson said.

Watson, who also needed extra holes to win the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in November at the start of the season and won the Travelers in 2010 in a three-way playoff for his first win on the PGA Tour.

“It’s just about staying calm,” he said. “That’s what you have to do, you just breathe and walk slower, take some deep breaths and focus on the fact that no matter what you still come in second place.”

Watson had a chance to win in regulation. But the two-time Masters champion bogeyed the 17th, while Casey closed with three birdies on the final five holes, sandwiched around a bogey on 15.

Casey watched in the scoring trailer with 9-month-old son Lex on his lap as Watson made a 3 1/2 -foot par putt to force the playoff.

Watson finished with a 67, and Casey shot 65.

“There are always ifs and buts and could haves,” Casey said. “But the goal was to give myself a chance to win, and I did that.”

This was the sixth time since 2004 this tournament has gone to overtime.

Brian Harman, who had a one-stroke lead after 54 holes, had a 69 to finish a stroke out of the playoff. After 39 straight holes without a bogey, he had back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 9 and 10 to fall two strokes behind Watson. His birdies on the final two holes were not enough to catch Casey and Watson.

But the finish assured the 28-year-old from Georgia a spot in the British Open, along with Canadian Graham DeLaet, who finished two shots back, Carl Pettersson who finished fifth at 13 under, and Luke Donald, who tied for seventh at 11 under. Sixth-place finisher Zach Johnson already had an exemption into the field.

“I’ve been thinking about that tournament for a long time and really trying to look at a way to get in there,” Harman said. “This one burns a little bit, but that definitely helps the sting.”

The Travelers was the first of three PGA Tour events where finishers not already exempt can get into St. Andrew’s. There also are four spots available at The Greenbrier Classic and one at the John Deere Classic.

Watson became the sixth multiple winner of this tournament, joining Billy Casper (1963, 1965, 1968, 1973), Arnold Palmer (1956, 1960), Paul Azinger (1987, 1989), Phil Mickelson (2001, 2002), Peter Jacobsen (1984, 2003) and Stewart Cink (1997, 2008).

Rain forced a late start Sunday, and the players went off in threesomes from two tees. But the wet weather also created scoring opportunities, with players taking advantage of the soft greens to shoot for the pins.

Watson started strong with birdies on his first two holes, chiding a fan on the second hole who had suggested he go under a tree with a 4-iron. Watson used a wedge that he hit to 6 feet.

He seemed to lock up the championship on the 13th, where he sank a 39-foot putt for eagle, his longest made putt of the tournament.

His approach at 14 ended up 13-feet right of the pin, but his birdie putt ended up on the front lip of the cup.

“I was hoping nobody else would birdie, but Paul Casey decided he wanted to birdie some holes to make it interesting,” Watson said.

Casey began the day tied for fourth, but moved up quickly. His second shot at the 431-yard third hole bounced once from 126 yards out and went straight into the hole for an eagle. He also made a 64-footer for birdie on the par-3 eighth hole.

He made a 6-foot birdie putt on 16, and a 15-footer on 17 to stay in contention. Watson lost his lead after hitting his approach on 17 to the right of the hole behind two bunkers.

Both made par on the first playoff hole. But on the second, Watson’s tee shot when down the middle, and Casey found bunkers on his first two shots.

“It does remind me of 2010, where coming down the stretch I had to hit some good shots and I didn’t,” Watson said. “I wish it was a lot easier, but a victory is a victory.”

Watson led after the first two-rounds, but was a stroke back of Harman after Saturday. He becomes the fifth golfer to win this tournament since 2000 after leading or being tied for the lead going into the second round.

He also moved closer to his career goal.

“My whole goal in my career was to get 10 wins,” he said. “I need two more wins.”

TIME Music

Diddy Falls During All-Star Performance at BET Awards

Faith Evans, Sean Combs, Diddy
Chris Pizzello—Invision/AP Faith Evans, left, and Sean "Diddy" Combs perform at the BET Awards at the Microsoft Theater on June 28, 2015, in Los Angeles

The BET Awards is celebrating its 15th year anniversary

Diddy dropped it like it’s hot at the BET Awards — figuratively and literally.

The entertainer fell during an exciting performance Sunday that celebrated Bad Boy Records’ 20th year anniversary, one of the night’s highlights. Lil Kim, Mase, Faith Evans, 112 and The Lox joined Diddy as they performed a medley of past hits. A video montage of rap king Notorious B.I.G. played in the background as his verse from “Mo Money Mo Problems” played.

BET Awards co-host Anthony Anderson brought on the laughs when he dressed as singer Sam Smith, who won best new artist but didn’t attend the awards show.

Anderson sported a suit similar to Smith’s taste and rocked a wig that mirrored the British singer’s hairstyle.

“Sam Smith isn’t here tonight because he’s white and he didn’t think he would win at the BET Awards,” Anderson said as the audience at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles burst into laughter. “He didn’t think he could win. But we showed him that we love him, too.”

“This award is going to stay with me for you not showing up to BET,” Anderson sang, referencing Smith’s ubiquitous hit, “Stay With Me.”

The show Sunday brought a mix of funny and serious moments. Rapping on top of a police car with a large American flag waving behind him, hip-hop prince Kendrick Lamar kicked off the BET Awards with a dose of seriousness, but also brought a fiery energy thanks to his charisma and his song’s beat.

Members in the audience rapped along to “Alright,” while background dancers danced in the aisles and others onstage wore black and waved the American flag behind Lamar. He later won best male hip-hop artist.

“This is for Compton, this is for Watts,” the Los Angeles-born rapper said.

Janelle Monae and Jidenna also brought a serious vibe to the stage when they performed “Classic Man”: The singers and their background dancers wore large “I’m a Classic Man” signs around their necks, a reference to the historic “I Am a Man” civil rights era protest signs.

Anderson and fellow “Black-ish” actor Tracee Ellis Ross followed Lamar’s performance with a hilarious song poking fun at pop culture, including Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” case, Pharrell’s signature hat and Rachel Dolezal, the former president of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP.

“Is white really the new black,” Anderson sang as two photos of Dolezal — one old, the other recent — appeared on screen.

The BET Awards is set to feature more star power, including Janet Jackson, who will make one of her first public performances in sometime Sunday, weeks after the singer caused Internet frenzies with several announcements about her comeback to music. The 49-year-old will be honored with the Ultimate Icon: Music Dance Visual Award.

Rihanna was among the A-listers who sat in the audience, and she sang along during Omarion and Chris Brown’s performance of the pop hit, “Post to Be.” Alicia Keys surprised the audience when she joined The Weeknd to sing his hit, “Earned It.”

Smokey Robinson received the Lifetime Achievement Award, performed a medley of his hits and earned a standing ovation from the audience when he spoke about Hollywood and humility. Ne-Yo, Robin Thicke and rising singer Tori Kelly paid tribute to the icon.

Nicki Minaj, who won her sixth consecutive best female hip-hop artist award, brought her mom onstage. She gave a shout-out to fellow nominee and rising rapper Dej Loaf, as well as her rapper-boyfriend Meek Mill, who sat next to her at the show (and she later joined him onstage for his performance).

“Momma, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything you’ve done for me. I love you so much,” she said. “Shout-out to all the girls nominated … Def Loaf … you’ve been very, very interesting to me and super forward.”

Terrence Howard, star of the hit Fox series “Empire,” won the first award for best actor.

“To the Empire!” he yelled three times. “I got to thank Taraji P. Henson because she stood up for a brother.”

Minaj and Brown, who have won a handful of BET Awards over the years, were the top nominees with six each. Brown is nominated twice for video of the year with his hits “Loyal” and “New Flame.” Other nominees for the top prize include Minaj’s eye-popping video for “Anaconda,” Beyonce’s “7/11,” Big Sean’s “IDFWU” and Common and John Legend’s Oscar-winning “Glory,” from the film “Selma.”

The BET Awards is celebrating its 15th year anniversary.

TIME Greece

Greek Banks to Be Shuttered on Monday as Crisis Deepens

Reports financial institutions may remain closed all week

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras says the Bank of Greece has recommended that banks remain closed and restrictions be imposed on transactions, after the European Central Bank didn’t increase the amount of emergency liquidity the lenders can access from the central bank.

Sunday’s move comes after two days of long lines forming at ATMs across the country, following Tsipras’ decision to call a referendum on creditor proposals for Greek reforms in return for vital bailout funds.

Tsipras gave no details of how long banks will remain closed or what restrictions will be placed on transactions. Banking officials said lenders would remain shut for at least a day, with some media reporting the institutions would remain closed for at least a week.

The news comes after Tsipras called for a referendum on creditor proposals for Greek reforms in return for bailout cash — a decision which shocked Greece’s European partners.

The country’s negotiations with its European creditors have been suspended, with both sides accusing each other of being responsible. The European Central Bank has left unchanged the amount of emergency liquidity available to Greek banks, putting further pressure on the system.

TIME Iran

Iran Nuclear Talks to Continue Past June 30 Deadline

U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman meet with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at a hotel in Vienna. Kerry is joining negotiations from six powers and Iran seeking an agreement under which Tehran would curb its nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions that have crippled its economy. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Carlos Barria—Reuters U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman meet with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at a hotel in Vienna on June 28, 2015.

The U.S. wants fuller access to nuclear facilities than Iran is prepared to give

VIENNA (AP) — A senior U.S. official acknowledged Sunday that Iran nuclear talks will go past their June 30 target date, as Iran’s foreign minister prepared to head home Sunday for consultations before returning to push for a breakthrough.

Iranian media said Mohammed Javad Zarif’s trip was planned in advance. Still, the fact that he was leaving the talks so close to the Tuesday deadline reflected his need to get instructions on how to proceed on issues where the sides remain apart — among them how much access Tehran should give to U.N. experts monitoring his country’s compliance to any deal.

The United States insists on more intrusive access than Iran is ready to give. With these and other disputes still unresolved the likelihood that the Tuesday target deadline for an Iran nuclear deal could slip was increasingly growing even before the U.S. confirmation.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met in Vienna for their third encounter since Saturday. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius are also in Vienna, and their Russian and British counterparts were to join later. China was sending a deputy foreign minister in a building diplomatic effort to wrap up the negotiations.

For weeks, all seven nations at the negotiating table insisted that Tuesday remains the formal deadline for a deal. But with time running out, a senior U.S. official acknowledged that was unrealistic.

“Given the dates, and that we have some work to do … the parties are planning to remain in Vienna beyond June 30 to continue working,” said the official, who demanded anonymity in line with State Department practice.

Asked about the chances for a deal, Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s top diplomat, told reporters: “It’s going to be tough … but not impossible.”

Steinmeier avoided reporters but told German media earlier: “I am convinced that if there is no agreement, everyone loses.”

“Iran would remain isolated. A new arms race in a region that is already riven by conflict could be the dramatic consequence.”

Both sides recognize that there is leeway to extend to July 9. As part of an agreement with the U.S. Congress, lawmakers then have 30 days to review the deal before suspending congressional sanctions.

But postponement beyond that would double the congressional review period to 60 days, giving both Iranian and U.S. critics more time to work on undermining an agreement.

Arguing for more time to allow the U.S. to drive a harder bargain, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — a fierce opponent of the talks — weighed in on Sunday against “this bad agreement, which is becoming worse by the day.”

“It is still not too late to go back and insist on demands that will genuinely deny Iran the ability to arm itself with nuclear weapons,” he said.

The goal of the talks involving Iran and the U.S., Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia is a deal that would crimp Tehran’s capacity to make nuclear weapons in exchange for sanctions relief. Iran insists it does not want such arms but is bargaining in exchange for sanctions relief

On Saturday, diplomats told The Associated Press that Iran was considering a U.S.-backed plan for it to send enriched uranium to another country for sale as reactor fuel, a step that would resolve one of several outstanding issues.

___

Associated Press writer Ali Akbar Dareini in Tehran contributed to this report.

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