TIME Libya

Report: ISIS Takes Control of a Libyan City

An armed motorcade belonging to members of Derna's Islamic Youth Council, consisting of former members of militias from the town of Derna, drive along a road in Derna, eastern Libya
An armed motorcade belonging to members of Derna's Islamic Youth Council, consisting of former members of militias from the town of Derna, drive along a road in Derna, eastern Libya on October 3, 2014. Reuters

Derna is just hours from Tobruk, where what's left of the central government is based

Militants loyal to the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) are now in control of a Libyan city of near the Egyptian border, according to a new report.

CNN, citing unnamed Libyan sources, reports that militants control Derna, a city only a few hours from Tobruk, where the remnants of Libya’s central government fled to after being forced out of the capital this summer. Approximately 300 of the 800-strong force in control of Derna are reportedly hard-line Libyan jihadists who fought with ISIS in Iraq an Syria.

The report is the latest sign of ISIS looking to expand its footprint across the Middle East despite U.S.-led air strikes against it in Iraq and Syria. Libya has been in turmoil since the fall of former strongman Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011

Read more at CNN

Read next: Terrorism-Related Deaths Up 60% Last Year, Study Says

TIME Baseball

Marlins Sign Outfielder Giancarlo Stanton in the Largest Contract in U.S. Sports History

Miami Marlins v Milwaukee Brewers
Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins makes some contact at the plate during a game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on September 11, 2014 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Mike McGinnis — Getty Images

The 25-year-old slugger is set to make more than $300 million over 13 years

The Miami Marlins spared absolutely no expense this week to ensure that their star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton stayed with the franchise.

Late on Monday, the baseball club announced through their website that the team and Stanton had agreed on a new, record-setting 13-year contract worth $325 million — making the deal the largest in North American sports history, according to CBS Sports.

“This is a landmark day,” said Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, according to MLB.com. “I’m happy for the city. I’m happy for him. And I’m thrilled for baseball. We have a player who is committed to us, and we’ve committed to him for the life of his career.”

Miami’s all-out financial offensive to keep one of baseball’s best sluggers on their roster is likely designed to inject new momentum in the franchise’s fan base, after years of disappointment. The Marlins have failed to reach the playoffs since 2003 and recorded the lowest payroll in the league in 2014.

The team is scheduled to hold a formal press conference later this week in Miami to announce the finer details of their new contract with Stanton.

TIME Hong Kong

Hong Kong Protesters Greet Court Officials With Indifference

Farcical scenes as bailiffs take down some barricades then retreat leaving other barriers untouched

Hong Kong officials began enforcing the first of several court injunctions and started removing barricades in part of the downtown Admiralty district on Tuesday morning, in the first attempt to clear the streets through judicial means since the Umbrella Revolution began almost two months ago.

But if the action was meant as a show of strength by the unpopular administration of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying against protesters who are demanding free elections, it was a failure and at times degenerated into farce.

The injunction had been obtained by the owners of an office building, CITIC Tower, against demonstrators who had erected barricades partially blocking vehicular access to the property, which looms over Tim Mei Avenue on the fringe of Hong Kong’s largest protest area.

However, bailiffs were only able to hastily remove a few barricades because the locations of those targeted for removal were only vaguely marked on maps relating to the injunction, allowing protesters to dispute the precise terms of the court order.

Nervous looking representatives of CITIC Tower were drowned out by a cocksure protester with a loudhailer as they attempted to negotiate. Nimble young students in hoodies and face masks were also able to seize metal barriers before white-gloved, middle-aged bailiffs could reach them. The students then carried the barriers off to reinforce barricades erected elsewhere.

Pro-democracy legislator Albert Ho, who has been giving legal advice to the protesters, said the fact that a private entity such as CITIC Tower had to resort to a civil action to clear the barricades showed the government’s weakness.

“The only explanation is that the administration has lost its confidence — because of a lack of authority and a lack of legitimacy — to enforce the law,” he said.

Earlier in the day, uniformed and plainclothes police remained on standby as bailiffs read out a court order to smirking students before dismantling the makeshift barricades. But none of the expected clashes materialized. Instead, most demonstrators lazed in the bright fall sunshine, while 18-year-old student leader Joshua Wong nonchalantly skateboarded up and down the road.

Around the corner on Harcourt Road, the main protest area, dubbed Umbrella Square, lay unmolested. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of tents, formed a sea of color. At the western extremity of the site a large yellow banner read “Welcome to the Hong Kong Commune.”

Thousands of protesters have occupied crucial roads in the Admiralty district — a city-center area of gleaming corporate towers and the central government offices — and two other major commercial areas since a campaign of civil disobedience first commenced on Sept. 28.

They are seeking full democracy for Hong Kong, with the right to freely nominate and vote for candidates for the city’s top job. At present, the territory’s sovereign power, China, will only permit direct elections if it vets the candidates.

However, seven weeks in, the movement appears to be losing part of the goodwill it once enjoyed among the city’s residents. Ongoing traffic delays are forcing some parents to leave home before dawn to get their children to school on time, while retailers in the protest zones have seen their takings plummet.

A new survey published by the Chinese University of Hong Kong this week claimed that approximately 67% of the city’s residents are now in favor of the demonstrators leaving the streets.

But the feeble enforcement action on Tuesday shows that it will be difficult to dislodge the protesters, who continue to enjoy high levels of morale.

“Students and activists will respect the judgment of the courts,” Joshua Wong told TIME. “But it’s unnecessary to clear the whole of Tim Mei Avenue.”

For now, the protest site remains virtually unchanged. But many believe that today was merely a dress rehearsal for what is to come.

“This morning is more or less intended to be a show for the public,” said legislator Ho. He said he thought that the government also wanted to show the more radical protesters encamped across Victoria Harbor in the Mong Kok area of Kowloon, that it was serious about enforcing the law.

Others believe that it is only a matter of time before the government takes a tougher approach. “We think they are waiting for the right time to do something,” said protester Alex, 22. “We just don’t know what’s going to happen.”

With reporting by Helen Regan / Hong Kong

TIME G20

Russian Incursions Into Ukraine Will Loom Large at the G-20 Summit

Putin looks back at Obama as they arrive with Xi Jinping at APEC Summit plenary session in Beijing
Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, looks back at U.S. President Barack Obama, left, as they arrive with Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, at an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit plenary session in Beijing on Nov. 11, 2014 Reuters

Talks about the global economy may well be overshadowed

Leaders from across the world are set to gather in Australia for the G-20 summit this weekend to discuss the health of the global economy; however, tensions between the White House and the Kremlin over Russian incursions into southeastern Ukraine are casting a long shadow over the forum.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told media that “the focus of this G-20 is growth and jobs,” the Sydney Morning Herald reported. However, White House officials say they’re ready to press the Ukraine issue with European leaders once President Barack Obama arrives in Brisbane.

“At the G-20, I imagine the President will have a chance to see his European counterparts — Chancellor [Angela] Merkel and others — and be able to have discussions on the margins there about the situation in Ukraine,” Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Burma on Thursday.

During the past week, the Obama Administration has been particularly strident in its criticism of Russia’s fresh forays into Ukraine. At a U.N. Security Council session earlier this week, U.S. envoy Samantha Power accused Moscow of systematically undermining a two-month-old peace accord between the Ukrainian military and pro-Russian rebels.

Power’s comments followed the publication of numerous reports from European monitors confirming the movement of unmarked, heavily armed columns in separatist-held territory this week, sparking fresh fears that Russia may be helping the rebels prepare for all out conflict with Kiev.

Experts say that Russian support for the separatists shows no sign of abating, even as falling oil prices and Western sanctions continue to pummel the country’s floundering economy.

“Putin’s aggression seems to just to keep on getting greater and greater,” says John Besemeres, a professor and adjunct fellow at the Australian National University’s Center for European Studies. “This is strange behavior from someone who wants to get sanctions lifted.”

But even as Washington and Moscow continue to trade barbs over Ukraine, Putin may be privy to a harsher welcome from the Australian public. The G-20 summit in Brisbane will mark the first time President Vladimir Putin has visited Australia since the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which killed nearly 300 people including 38 Australians.

Anger continues to simmer throughout the country over Russia’s alleged role in providing rebel forces with the sophisticated weapons system that shot down the jet, even though Moscow has denied having a hand in the downing of the flight.

In September, Australian opposition leader Bill Shorten issued several calls to ban Putin from attending the summit. Online petitions have also echoed the demand. Last month, Prime Minister Abbott threatened to “shirt-front” Putin when he saw the Russian leader at the G-20, using a term from the Australian football code that refers to the illegal making of a head-on charge to bring an opponent to the ground.

“There is public anger about that issue. That public anger hasn’t entirely gone away,” Rory Medcalf, security-program director at Australian think tank the Lowy Institute, tells TIME.

During a question-and-answer session with reporters in Canberra, Abbott called on Moscow “to come clean and to atone” for its alleged role in the downing of MH17. Keeping the agenda focused on jobs and not on Russia is going to be a tough call.

TIME Ukraine

Top U.S. Envoy Says Russia Is Brazenly Violating Peace Process in Ukraine

UKRAINE - RUSSIA - CRISIS
An amored personnel carrier drives on a main road in rebel-territory near the village of Torez, east of Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine, on Nov. 12, 2014 Menahem Kahana—AFP/Getty Images

Samantha Power says Moscow has “systematically undermined” the peace process in Ukraine

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power blasted Moscow on Wednesday for “fueling war” in southeastern Ukraine’s Donbas region and brazenly subverting a two-month-old truce the Kremlin helped broker.

“Where Russia has made commitments, it has failed to meet them,” she told a U.N. Security Council session in New York City. “Russia has negotiated a peace plan, and then systematically undermined it at every step.”

Power’s strident criticism follows confirmation from NATO’s top military commander earlier on Wednesday that Russian hardware and soldiers were crossing into Ukraine.

“We have seen columns of Russian equipment, primarily Russian tanks, Russian artillery, Russian air defense systems and Russian combat troops entering into Ukraine,” General Philip Breedlove told reporters during a press conference in Sofia, Bulgaria, according to the New York Times.

The general’s assessment is consistent with myriad reports published by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe this week. Monitors reportedly spotted several unmarked but heavily armed columns transporting weapons and troops into rebel-held territory in Ukraine’s conflict-riven southeast throughout the past week.

The scene is eerily reminiscent of the “little green men” invasion of Ukraine in March, when Russian soldiers wearing unmarked uniforms fanned out across the Crimea Peninsula and later forcefully annexed the territory.

However, Moscow continues to deny allegations that Russian forces are being sent to the Donbas, and instead suggested that Kiev was attempting to cover up their own failures to properly govern.

“To justify [Kiev authorities’] misfortunes and the massive sending to the front of people and equipment we are hearing declarations about Russians sending weapons and members of the regular army [to Ukraine],” Alexander Pankin, a Russian envoy to the U.N., told the Security Council, according to RIA Novosti.

TIME China

Experts Are Skeptical Over the U.S.-China Emissions Deal

People wearing masks walk on a street amid heavy haze and smog in Beijing
People wearing masks walk on a street amid heavy haze and smog in Beijing on Oct. 11, 2014 Kim Kyung Hoon—Reuters

Meeting targets agreed on at the APEC summit requires Washington and Beijing to draw up and rigorously enforce unprecedented policies

U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping unveiled a breakthrough deal on Wednesday, aimed at reducing both nations’ colossal carbon emissions and reliance on fossil fuels.

During a press conference in Beijing, President Obama lauded the pact as a “historic breakthrough.” Likewise, in an editorial published in the New York Times, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that the U.S. and China were “determined to make lasting progress on an unprecedented global challenge.”

But now comes the hard part.

Under the deal, the U.S. must slash carbon emissions by 26% to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025, and China must start reigning in its release of greenhouse gases nationwide. Based on the initiative, China needs to hit peak CO2 emissions by 2030.

In addition, China, which has long relied on coal to fuel its unprecedented economic growth, also promised to rapidly increase the country’s reliance on nonfossil fuels in primary energy consumption. By 2030, Beijing is aiming to have 20% of the country’s energy needs supplied by zero-emission sources.

But to hit these targets, experts argue that both nations must now draw up and enforce unprecedented policies.

As Sam Roggeveen, of the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Sydney, pointed out in a blog post published on Wednesday, the U.S. will have to “double the pace of its carbon pollution reduction to meet the new target.” Domestic politics could easily put a brake on that.

In China, Roggeveen writes, “an additional 800-1,000 gigawatts of nuclear, wind, solar and other zero emission generation capacity” must be deployed by 2030 — more than all the coal-fired power plants that exist in China today. Otherwise the goal can’t be met.

Even if the central government had an all-consuming drive to achieve this, economists say it must provide the proper economic incentives to local bureaucrats who are pivotal to executing policies on the ground.

“The feasibility of doing [this] depends on the local bureaucrats, so if the local bureaucrats resist then nothing can be done,” Xu Chenggang, professor who is a specialist in China’s economic development at the University of Hong Kong, tells TIME. “[It doesn’t] matter how strong the leader is, to get things done really depends on incentives.”

Xu explains that China’s three decades of robust economic expansion were only possible because local officials were able to profit from the country’s rapid transformation into an industrial powerhouse. However, questions remain over whether there will be as much money to go around during a transition to a greener economy.

“In turns out it’s very, very difficult to find a scheme which is going to give local bureaucrats sufficient incentives to take care of their environment,” says Xu.

And even then, activists say the world’s two largest emitters of CO2 have yet to commit to the types of policies needed to reverse the effects of climate change.

“There is a clear expectation of more ambition from these two economies whose emissions trajectories define the global response to climate change,” says Li Shuo, a senior climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace East Asia in Beijing. “Today’s announcements should only be the floor and not the ceiling of enhanced actions.”

Still, others are hopeful that the historic announcement today will at the very least inject some momentum into the push to lower greenhouse-gas emissions worldwide.

“This is an important development, not so much because of the details,” explains Jim Falk, a visiting fellow at the United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability in Tokyo. “It states a desire by US and Chinese leaders to add serious momentum to a global agenda to cap and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.”

— With reporting by Per Liljas and Helen Regan

 

TIME Ukraine

Russia Sends More Convoys Into Ukraine as Cease-Fire Collapses

Ukraine
A driver parks a truck of a Russian humanitarian-aid convoy at a warehouse in the city of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, on Oct. 31, 2014 Dmitry Lovetsky—AP

NATO’s supreme commander says cease-fire now exists in “name only”

Russian officials announced on Wednesday plans to send a seventh convoy across the border into Ukraine’s war-torn Donbas region, amid widespread accusations that the Kremlin is sending arms to separatist forces instead of aid to civilians.

The announcement follows reports from the Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE) that 43 unmarked green military trucks were spotted heading toward the rebel stronghold of Donetsk on Tuesday.

“Five of the trucks were each towing 120mm howitzer artillery pieces. Another five were each towing partly-covered multi-launch rocket systems,” read a statement released by the OSCE.

Moscow has repeatedly denied giving military assistance to rebels and says its convoys are humanitarian.

Fighting between the Ukrainian military and pro-Russian separatists has intensified since rebels held elections in the enclaves of Donetsk and Luhansk in early November. Experts say the two-month old cease-fire is now dead.

During a press conference in Naples on Tuesday, General Philip Breedlove, NATO supreme allied commander Europe, said the truce signed by Kiev, Moscow and separatist forces in Minsk last September was in tatters.

“The cease-fire is in name only at this point,” Breedlove told reporters on Tuesday, according to CNN. “The violence continues to increase day by day.”

The NATO commander’s candid admission followed acknowledgement from the White House earlier in the day that sanctions targeting Moscow, which continue to wreak havoc on the Russian economy, have failed to alter “Russia’s calculus” over Ukraine. “That’s why we continue to impose them,” Ben Rhodes, a White House Deputy National Security Adviser, told reporters in Beijing on Tuesday.

The U.N. estimates that at least 4,000 people have been killed since the pro-Russian rebellion first erupted in southeastern Ukraine seven months ago.

Read next: U.S. Says Russia Must Observe Truce as Hostilities Erupt Again in Ukraine

TIME technology

U.S. and China Strike Trade Deal to Cut Tech Tariffs

U.S. President Obama shakes hands with China's President Xi during the APEC forum, at the International Convention Center in Beijing
U.S. President Barack Obama (L) shakes hands with China's President Xi Jinping during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Beijing on November 11, 2014. Kim Kyung Hoon —Reuters

Path now smoothed for the first major tariff-slashing initiative at the World Trade Organization in nearly 20 years

China and the U.S. have succeeded in hammering out an agreement that will allow for the expansion of a trade deal aimed at removing myriad tariffs on high-tech goods, according to a statement released by the White House late on Monday.

The new deal forged by Washington and Beijing at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit this week is set to pave the way for the enlargement of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) and the recommencement of the first significant tariff-cutting deal at the World Trade Organization in nearly two decades.

The ITA first went into effect in 1997; however, the scope of the deal has never been increased despite the tectonic advances in technology in the past 17 years. Negotiations over widening the breadth of IT products covered by the pact were first launched in 2012, but had largely stalled due to continuing disagreements between the U.S. and China.

“It was APEC’s work that led to the Information Technology Agreement, which we are now negotiating to expand,” said President Barack Obama during an APEC plenary session in Beijing. “It is fitting that we are here with our APEC colleagues to share the news that the United States and China have reached an understanding that we hope will contribute to a rapid conclusion of the broader negotiations in Geneva.”

Proponents of bolstering the range of goods covered by the ITA argue that the deal would result in the generation of an estimated $1 trillion in annual international sales of IT products.

—With reporting by Zeke J. Miller

TIME Ukraine

U.S. Says Russia Must Observe Truce as Hostilities Erupt Again in Ukraine

Donetsk in aftermath of overnight shelling attack by Ukraine government forces
A house on fire in the aftermath of an overnight shelling attack in Donetsk, Ukraine on Nov. 9, 2014. Pochuyev Mikhail—Itar-Tass/Corbis

Washington’s protest comes as heavy fighting flared in Donetsk over the weekend

The Obama Administration expressed serious concern over the resumption of fighting in Ukraine’s restive southeast as heavy bouts of shelling near Donetsk over the weekend threatened to shred Kiev’s fragile ceasefire with Russian-backed separatists.

On Sunday, U.S. National Security Council spokesperson Bernadette Meeha issued a statement demanding the Kremlin abide by the two-month-old truce, signed in the Belarusian capital of Minsk in September, and halt efforts to reinforce rebel fighters.

“We reiterate our call on the Russian Federation to honor all of the commitments it made in Minsk, including ending its military supply to the separatists and the withdrawal of all of its troops and weapons from Ukraine,” said Meeha.

Earlier in the day, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) reported two unmarked convoys transporting heavy artillery and rocket launcher systems in separatist-held areas over the weekend.

Deputy commander of the Donetsk People’s Republic militia Eduard Basurin later told Russian news agency RIA Novosti that the columns were being manned by “independence supporters” and had been moved “for tactical reasons.”

The European Union’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini also called on all sides to uphold the truce.

“It is imperative to avoid any re-escalation of hostilities,” said Mogherini.

Humanitarian agencies meanwhile warned that the victims of the seven-month conflict are in need of more aid. Late last week, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs stressed that 462,400 internally displaced Ukrainians still required urgent attention as winter arrives in the eastern European nation.

“In-country humanitarian agencies envisage that this deterioration of the humanitarian situation will be further compounded by the rapidly approaching winter with many IDPs [internally displaced persons] housed in unwinterized shelters,” said the agency in a statement.

The U.N. estimates that approximately 4,000 people have been killed since fighting first erupted in the wake of a pro-Russian uprising in southeastern Ukraine’s Donbas region in April.

TIME Libya

Libya Plunges Deeper into Chaos After Parliament Declared Unconstitutional

LIBYA-POLITICS-COURT-UNREST
Libyans wave the national flag as they gather at Martyrs' Square to celebrate the decision of Libya's supreme court, in Tripoli on November 6, 2014. Mahmud Turkia — AFP/Getty Images

The country has largely been in tatters since the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime three years ago

Libya’s Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the nation’s internationally recognized parliament, elected in June, was invalid — dealing another crippling blow to the remnants of the country’s fledgling government, according to the BBC.

The parliament in turn dismissed the court’s ruling — claiming that its verdict was handed down “under the threat of arms,” according to Middle East news outlet al-Arabiya.

The North African nation has been rocked by unceasing bouts of instability since the armed overthrow and murder of former strongman Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Libya’s government is now located in Tobruk, near the Egyptian border, after authorities fled the capital Tripoli earlier this summer to escape an Islamist-led militia.

U.S. officials are considering imposing fresh sanctions on the country’s myriad militias, many of which are backed by competing regional powers, in order to halt the ongoing proxy war in the country, reports Reuters.

[BBC]

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