TIME Cuba

Fidel Loses the Race to the Grave

Castro Leads Massive Anti-U.S. Demo
Fidel Castro delivering a speech in Havana on May 14, 2004 Jorge Rey—Getty Images

It's fitting that the thaw was brokered by a president who wasn't alive when Castro came to power

The world now has the answer to a question as old as the New World Order: Which would die first? Fidel Castro? Or the chokehold his angry critics maintained on U.S. foreign policy since El Comandante came to power in Cuba 55 years ago? It was entirely fitting that the answer was delivered by an American president whose own age is 53. As he noted in his historic address from the White House on Wednesday, Barak Obama was born two years after Castro’s Communist guerrillas swept into Havana. Like the children and grandchildren of the Cubans who fled to Miami after the Communists arrived, the events Obama actually lived through were the ones that steadily reduced the island from a marquee venue of the Cold War — the thrust stage from which, in the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, armageddon was nearly launched — to whatever the place qualifies as today: basically a scenic relic of Marxism, with beaches and cigars.

Other stout lobbies remain as present as their animating issue: The NRA likely will be around as long as gun owners are, and the Israel lobby as long as the state. But the U.S. government’s determined, and solitary isolation of Cuba was, as Obama alluded, a victim of generational change. The collapse of the Soviet Union, so thrillingly dramatic, was followed by the more gradual senescence of those who had invested most in opposing its most famous client state.

Time waits for no man, not even Fidel. El Commandante, now 88, is still around, and as recently as 2010 was still capable of stirring the pot. He opened the Havana Aquarium and commanded a dolphin show for a visiting U.S. journalist, Jeffrey Goldberg, whom Fidel then told, “The Cuban model doesn’t even work for us any more.” The regime that Fidel once made a model of resistance to U.S. dominance is now run by his 83-year-old kid brother. It was Raul Castro who spoke from Havana at the same moment Obama made his historic address at noon Wednesday, the two speeches pre-arranged by the leaders’ staffs to begin at the same hour, signaling both sides’ commitment to a new era of cooperation.

But the Cuban side appeared to be locked in that other era: Raul Castro was seated between dark paneling and a massive desk. The framed snapshots at his elbows were in black and white — the kind of vintage photographs that adorn the Hotel Nacional at the edge of the magnificent ruin that is Havana’s Old City. The glossies in the hotel are there for the tourists, images of the like of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack making themselves at home in a version of Havana glamour familiar to Americans who — forbidden by the travel restrictions Obama says will be pushed away — last saw the city in The Godfather Part II, or any other movie set in Cuba before Castro took over.

The reality just outside the hotel’s doors is far more compelling, from the ardent struggles of human rights activists and artists, to the joyously sensual quality of street life in what may well be the sexiest capital city in the world. Americans who dared to visit — it wasn’t hard, routing through Canada or Cancun — returned with enthusiastic reports of a poor but intensely vibrant society. Its economy may be a shambles now, but the island’s physical features alone, including 2,300 miles of Caribbean coastline not an hour from the U.S., all but assure development, especially by American retirees. Which would be fitting as well, since they would be old enough to appreciate just how time can change things.

TIME Sydney Siege

ISIS Casts a Shadow Over the Sydney Hostage Crisis, Connected or Not

A bouquet is pictured under police tape near the cordoned-off scene of a hostage taking at Martin Place after it ended, early on Dec. 16, 2014.
A bouquet is pictured under police tape near the cordoned-off scene of a hostage taking at Martin Place after it ended, early on Dec. 16, 2014. Jason Reed—Reuters

Before ISIS, the self-proclaimed Sheikh behind the 16-hour hostage drama might have been called a crank instead of terrorist

On Sept. 3, two weeks and one day after James Foley was beheaded by the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), the U.S. official in charge of preventing terrorist attacks against the homeland said he saw no evidence of a threat to the U.S. from ISIS. That apparently remains the case today, even after the horror of the siege in Sydney, where in the course of the 16 hours he held the Lindt cafe hostage, the self-declared sheikh named Man Haron Monis sent out for the black flag associated with ISIS; he had not brought one of his own. All preliminary indications are that Monis, who reportedly died in the hail of automatic weapons fire that ended drama, was acting on his own, a lone wolf like Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, who shot up the Canadian parliament building in Ottawa Oct. 22 or Mehdi Nemmouche, the veteran of Syrian fighting who killed four people at a Jewish museum in Brussels May 24.

For all the fear ISIS inspires, one-off, lone wolf attacks are all the group seems to have attempted to do in the West—and not even by its own hand. ISIS essentially publishes its version of a feel-good bumper sticker: Practice Random Attacks and Senseless Acts of Terror. “If you can kill a disbelieving American or European – especially the spiteful and filthy French – or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that entered into a coalition against the Islamic State, then rely upon Allah, and kill him in any manner or way, however it may be,” the ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammed al Adnani urged Sept. 22, after the Obama administration announced an air campaign aimed at destroying the group before it destroyed Iraq. “Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car, or throw him down from a high place, or choke him, or poison him.”

Ugly and unpleasant, but a long way from 9/11. But then ISIS long has defined itself by not being al Qaeda. Formidable as the group may have proved itself in military terms, gobbling up large swaths of Syria and Iraq, that’s what a fighting force does in a war, and the war ISIS is fighting is very much located in the Middle East. It’s a war to establish its vision of Islam—extreme, yes, but sectarian above all. ISIS is Sunni, and in Syria it attacks the regime of President Bashar Assad, a member of the Alawite sect that Sunni extremists regard as apostates. In Iraq, ISIS made its gains against a Baghdad government that under then-prime minister Nour al-Malaki defined the state as Shi’ite, also deemed heretical by ISIS. Both governments are backed by Iran, the world’s only Shi’ite theocracy.

The largely Christian West simply does not figure so prominently, which is why al Qaeda has parted ways with ISIS. In 2o05, when bin Laden was still alive, his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri wrote from his hideout in Afghanistan or Pakistan to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the jihadist who headed the Iraq al-Qaeda branch that would become ISIS. “Many of your Muslim admirers amongst the common folk are wondering about your attacks on the Shia,” wrote al-Zawahiri, who now heads al Qaeda. “And can the mujahedeen kill all of the Shia in Iraq?” The answer, delivered in gruesome video post after gruesome video post, is that they sure are giving it a try.

The self-declared sheikh named Man Haron Monis. Stephen Cooper/Newspix/RexUSA

Monis was born in Iran as a Shia and reportedly converted to the Sunni tradition. But it’s unclear whether he was fired by a convert’s zeal. His Twitter account mentioned ISIS, and in generally positive terms, but more as a bystander than as a fanboy, the name for social media mavens who cheer on the Sunni extremist group online. “He’s posted things saying, ‘Oh my God, some people are saying the Islamic State is doing well,'” says Laith Alkhouri, research director for Flashpoint Partners, a private security consultant that made a copy of Monis’ Twitter account before it was taken down. “Even though he was pretty active on social media, he was trying to bring attention to what he saw as injustice to Muslims in Australian,” Alkouri tells TIME. “But he didn’t seem quite bloodthirsty like the ISIS guys.”

What he seemed, in fact, was the kind of figure who showed up in the news cycle long before anyone had heard of either al Qaeda or ISIS. Monis had written tasteless letters to the families of fallen Australian soldiers, but politics appeared to have gotten bound up with his quite personal complaints against the state. Australian news channels produced footage of him standing on a busy street corner in clerical garb and turban, wearing chains on his wrists and holding aloft a sign complaining he had been tortured in prison. His legal woes included charges for indecent exposure, and of involvement as an accessory in the murder by stabbing and fire of his ex-wife. In a Monday interview with Australian Broadcasting, Monis’ former lawyer called him a “damaged-goods individual” who had reached a breaking point.

Absent the frame of Islamist terror, the siege of the Lindt cafe might have looked like one more socially isolated middle-aged man, taking his private torment public at gunpoint. But the frame is indeed Islamist terror; it’s become inescapable. So even after the shooting stopped in Sydney, the number of hostages remains in the billions.

TIME Foreign Policy

Kerry Shadow Boxes in War Powers Debate

Secretary of State John Kerry testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington on Dec. 9, 2014, before the Senate Foreign Relations hearing on "Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against IS."
Secretary of State John Kerry testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington on Dec. 9, 2014, before the Senate Foreign Relations hearing on "Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against IS." Molly Riley—AP

Secretary of State talks military action against ISIS with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

The Obama Administration’s policy on Syria is frequently criticized as muddy — for opposing both the regime of President Bashar Assad and a major extremist faction in that country’s civil war, yet mounting military operations only against the latter, the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, or ISIS. So there was a certain thematic unity in the appearance of Secretary of State John Kerry before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday.

Kerry came to iron out the constitutional authorization for the administration’s military actions against the Sunni militants. Such weighty legal questions are never easy. In theory Congress could declare war, as Republican Sen. Rand Paul insists the Constitution demands. Tuesday’s proceedings, in fact, were sparked by Paul’s effort to attach a declaration of war to a water bill a few days earlier. “The Constitution is quite clear that this responsibility rests with Congress,” Paul told Kerry, nearly three hours into the marathon hearing.

But as Kerry pointed out in reply, the last time Congress declared war was for World War II. Conflicts since then have been authorized by other legal mechanisms, such as the War Powers Act, passed after the Vietnam War dragged on for more than a decade. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq went forward from separate Authorizations for the Use of Military Force, passed in 2001 and 2002, respectively. The White House maintains that those measures also authorize military action against ISIS, which has been going on since August in Iraq, and since September in Syria. So what was Kerry doing at Tuesday’s hearing?

Being diplomatic, apparently, as befits a Secretary of State. President Barack Obama has said that although he doesn’t really need a new authorization, a buy-in on any sustained military action makes good political and constitutional sense, and so he would welcome a measure specifically naming ISIS, or ISIL, as U.S. officials refer to the group. But as Foreign Relations Committee members complained at length, the White House has failed to provide language for such a bill. “The reason we’re here is a total failure of the President to lead on this issue by sending anything up here,” said Sen. Bob Corker, the Tennessee Republican who serves as ranking minority member, but will become chair next year, when the GOP becomes majority in both chambers. “And we all want the same thing.”

Not exactly, Kerry said: From the administration’s point of view, the measure written by the Democratic Chairman, Sen.Robert Menedez of New Jersey, is a good starting point. But the President would rather remove language that limits the circumstances under which he could send ground troops into action — even though Obama has repeatedly stated ground troops will not be used against ISIS, except to train the Syrian and Iraqi forces that should do all the fighting. “I don’t think anyone wants to get into a long-term ground operation here,” Kerry said. “But we also don’t want to hamstring our generals.” The White House has not produced specific language it desires, however, perhaps to avoid headlines suggesting Obama wants to keep boots on the ground as an option.

Whatever the reason for the reticence, it irks members of both parties. “If he wants authority to win the fight, he’s got to tell us what the fight looks like,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican. Christopher Coons of Delaware, a Democratic Senator, complained the White House was turning its back on support from its own party: “We can’t go home and defend what the strategy is.”

The entire exercise, in a Lame Duck session, was academic at worst, and at best a dress rehearsal for the new year, when the Republicans will take control and — given the hawkish tenor of the GOP members — likely give Obama all the freedom he asks. Except for Paul, who scolded the administration on strict constructionist grounds, the harshest words were from Sen. John McCain, who called the hearing “kind of a charade.” The Arizona Republican stormed out after refusing to concede Kerry’s suggestion that more moderate Syrian rebels the administration has promised to arm are not, in fact, being left to die — owing, Kerry hinted, to secret measures that could not be discussed in a public setting. “More is being done, and more is being done than I can talk about in this hearing,” he said.

TIME Israel-US relations

U.S. Relations With Israel Remain in Frozen Embrace Until Elections

Joe Biden
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks to the Saban Forum in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 6, 2014 Jose Luis Magana—AP

The rule of thumb in Israeli politics has it that the moment new elections are called, affairs of state go into the deep freeze, not to thaw until a new government emerges months later. There have been exceptions — in 1981, Menachem Begin ordered the surprise strike on Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor three weeks before nationwide balloting — but none were in evidence at the annual conference of U.S. and Israeli leaders convened this past weekend at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu disbanded his ruling coalition three days before the Brookings Institution’s annual Saban Forum, rendering the elite confab a showcase for the status quo: the alliance remains closer than at any time in history at the level of cooperation between the two country’s defense and security establishment. But at the more visible level of political leadership, there’s no longer even an effort to disguise the ugliness. It was only five weeks ago that an anonymous Obama Administration official referred to Netanyahu in an interview as “chickensh-t,” and no one from the Administration dispatched to the Willard over the weekend bothered denying either the quote or the judgment.

The message, rather, was that personal feelings simply don’t matter much in such an ironclad alliance, and no one should be distracted by “politics” or “differences over tactics.”

“Look, we’re close friends. The American people and the Israeli people, our governments,” said Vice President Joe Biden, the most senior official on hand to address the state of the relationship. “There’s absolutely no daylight, none, between us and Israelis on the question of Israeli’s security. But as friends, we have an obligation to speak honestly with one another, to talk about, not avoid the tactical disagreements we have. And we have tactical disagreements to lay out for one another each of our perspectives. I know none of you have ever — I assume none of you ever doubted I’ve meant whatever I’ve said to you. The problem is I sometimes say all that I think to you.”

Biden noted, as Administration officials often do, that he and President Barack Obama have met with Netanyahu more than any other world leader. But that’s a double-edged observation given what a live mic caught Obama telling his French counterpart in 2011 (“You’re tired of him? What about me? I have to deal with him every day”). For his part, Biden called Netanyahu a friend of 30 years, adding “we sometimes drive each other crazy” but that both sides acknowledge as much.

“Let’s not make more of what are normal disagreements that occur between friends than warrants,” the Vice President implored. “Israel disagrees with us on a number of tactics. They have a different perspective on how to proceed. But folks, that’s the downside of democracy. It also has an upside. We never have to wonder where the other guy is standing. Occasionally, politics on both sides of this divide, these tactical divides, is used to try to gain an advantage. But you’re all sophisticated enough to know that.”

Secretary of State John Kerry, who has endured a good deal of name-calling from senior Israeli politicians (the Defense Minister famously dismissed his enthusiasm for peace talks with the Palestinians as “obsessive and messianic”), read from the same talking points in his address Sunday, noting the record-high levels of U.S. military and intelligence support for Israel “despite whatever political disagreement there might be, or tactical disagreement.”

Obama was not present this year, and Netanyahu’s prerecorded address was delivered by satellite from Jerusalem, where he noted he has “one or two things” to deal with. The brief speech was heavy on Netanyahu’s preferred topic of security. “The entire region is hemorrhaging, ” he said, singling out the emergence of the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) — which, a new Brookings poll shows, is of far greater concern to the American public than the question of whether Israel will make peace with the Palestinians, who claim the same land. Seven out of 10 people said that of events in the Mideast, the rise of ISIS threatens American interests “the most.”

The poll also showed that, if negotiations fail to produce a Palestinian state beside Israel, two out of three Americans would prefer a single democratic state with equal rights for Jews and Palestinians — a prospect that most Jewish Israelis say they regard as unacceptable.

Elections are tentatively set for March 17.

TIME Crime

Ferguson Erupts Again After Cop Cleared in Killing

Peaceful protests gave way to violence in the St. Louis suburb after the grand jury didn't charge Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown

The calls, overwhelmingly, were for peace. But the result was anything but.

A St. Louis County grand jury declined to indict Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American teenager, after an encounter in the St. Louis suburb on Aug. 9. The decision, announced Monday evening, means Wilson will not face criminal charges in a case that ignited a national debate about race, privilege and policing in America.

The announcement immediately revived the frustration of protesters who filled the streets of Ferguson for weeks this summer, leading to a renewed wave of clashes with riot gear-clad police. As the news spread, demonstrators blocked the street in front of the Ferguson Police Department, chanting obscenities and throwing objects at officers.

As the night wore on, the demonstrations erupted into violence. In an echo of the worst of the earlier unrest, businesses were set on fire and looted and law enforcement fired smoke bombs and tear gas in an attempt to disperse the angry crowds. The sting from the chemical hung in the air for blocks, and the sidewalks and parking lots near the Ferguson Police Department were filled with people washing out burning eyes and vomiting in gutters.

It was precisely the response many feared but never wanted. The days leading up to the decision were a drumbeat of pleas for peace, with clergy, local residents and even President Obama urging crowds to channel their anger into something more productive. The Brown family echoed those calls in a statement after the decision. “We are profoundly disappointed that the killer of our child will not face the consequence of his actions,” the statement said. “While we understand that many others share our pain, we ask that you channel your frustration in ways that will make a positive change. We need to work together to fix the system that allowed this to happen.”

Protests spread to cities across the U.S. late Monday, with thousands rallying in cities from New York to Los Angeles. Demonstrators in Oakland, Calif. flowed onto the westbound lanes of Interstate 580, temporarily blocking traffic, but the majority of protests outside of the St. Louis area remained mostly peaceful.

Speaking from the White House about an hour after Wilson’s fate was made public, the President said he hoped the incident could force the nation to address the larger sense of mistrust between African-Americans and police.

“We need to recognize that the situation in Ferguson speaks to the broader challenges we still face as a nation,” he said. “In too many parts of this country, a deep distrust exists between law enforcement and communities of color.”

Obama, too, called for a peaceful response, yet as he spoke television news networks aired split-screen footage of police deploying tear gas and smoke grenades at demonstrators.

The President’s wishes went unheeded, at least in the immediate aftermath. That the grand jury’s decision was revealed after dark surely didn’t help.

In a lengthy news conference announcing the grand jury’s decision, St. Louis Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch painstakingly described the events leading up to Brown’s death. The grand jury, he said, heard contradictory testimony from eyewitnesses, some of whom changed their stories to reflect the evidence. He later released thousands of pages of documents reviewed by the grand jury including photos of Wilson taken at a hospital after the shooting that appear to show bruising to his neck and face.

“As tragic as this is, it was a not a crime,” McCulloch said.

Preparing for the Worst

Even before the decision was announced, police had gone to great lengths to prepare for protestors’ frustration to spill over. City, county and state officers, as well as National Guard, were marshaled under a unified command as part of a state of emergency that Missouri Governor Jay Nixon imposed in advance on Nov. 17, citing “the possibility of expanded unrest.” The atmosphere has been so charged that many area schools closed early for Thanksgiving break and Nixon reiterated his call for calm on Monday ahead of the grand jury’s announcement.

The preparations on both sides fed a sense that the first official finding in Brown’s death would inevitably generate another occasion for talking past one another, and perhaps more violence. Far from being resolved, the mistrust that marked the largely spontaneous original protests — characterized by raised arms and chants of “Don’t shoot” — had not abated. Nor had the reality that propelled Ferguson onto the national stage: the unwelcome attention African Americans routinely receive from police, and disproportionate treatment from the justice system as a whole.

In that realm, the details of the Brown case are less significant than the broader experience of many black Americans any time they encounter a uniformed officer. Outgoing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in September that, though he served as the nation’s top law-enforcement official, as an African-American man who has been searched unnecessarily by police, “I also carry with me the mistrust that some citizens harbor for those who wear the badge.”

In Ferguson, where the population is two-thirds black, the situation was exacerbated by the composition of a police department that had only four African Americans on a force of 53. When protests broke out, the heavy-duty military gear officers donned to confront them did nothing to diminish the impression of antagonism between police and public. Much of that armor was left over from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and distributed by the Pentagon to local law-enforcement departments. The battle gear did little to serve a police force that, like many in the U.S., is seen by minorities “as trying to dominate rather than serve and protect,” in the phrase of Yale Law School Professor Tom Tyler, an expert on law enforcement and public trust.

“This is more than Michael Brown,” area resident Rick Canamore, 50, said as he protested in front of the Ferguson police headquarters. Brown’s death “tipped the pot over, but this has been boiling for years.”

Two federal investigations are still pending. The FBI is investigating whether Wilson violated Brown’s civil rights. Separately, the Justice Department is examining the civil rights record of the Ferguson Police Department as a whole. And Brown’s family could still file a civil wrongful-death lawsuit.

After the decision, Attorney General Eric Holder reiterated that the federal civil rights investigation is distinct from the grand jury proceedings. “Though we have shared information with local prosecutors during the course of our investigation, the federal inquiry has been independent of the local one from the start, and remains so now,” Holder said in a statement. “Even at this mature stage of the investigation, we have avoided prejudging any of the evidence. And although federal civil rights law imposes a high legal bar in these types of cases, we have resisted forming premature conclusions.”

An Unusual Grand Jury Proceeding

But the fraught months following Brown’s death have been focused on the grand jury’s finding, which was both expected and atypical. Expected because a series of leaks in October revealed details that supported Wilson’s version of the encounter. These include medical reports of injuries to Wilson’s face, which officials have said occurred when Brown reached into the patrol vehicle and struck Wilson. Two shots were fired inside the vehicle, but Brown was killed after Wilson climbed out of the vehicle to pursue the 6-ft. 4-in., 289-lb. teen.

Though the leaks and a certain sense of fatalism had prepared protesters for the outcome, the grand jury’s finding is statistically rare. Ordinarily, almost every case that a prosecutor takes to a grand jury ends in indictment. At the federal level, of 42,140 grand jury investigations in 2012, only 56 targets escaped indictment, according to records provided to TIME by the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics. Similar figures were not available for St. Louis County grand jury investigations.

Local officials emphasized that the grand jury examining the Ferguson case had unusual leeway — though that leeway may have served Wilson. The panel, which had already been seated at the time of the Brown’s death, was broadly representative of St. Louis County, with nine whites and three African Americans. It met weekly for three months, and was presented “absolutely everything” about the altercation, said St. Louis County chief prosecuting attorney Robert P. McCulloch. The jury, which began hearing testimony on Aug. 20, reached its decision after two days of deliberations.

That meant it heard from witnesses who said Brown appeared to have had his arms up in surrender at the moment he was shot, as well as from witnesses who supported Wilson’s account that the teen attacked him, and was charging at him head-down at the time of the shooting. One of Brown’s six bullet wounds was on the top of his head.

In another departure from normal proceedings, the grand jurors did not hear a prosecutor recommend a charge and present evidence supporting it. Instead, they were offered a range of possible charges, from murder to involuntary manslaughter.

In addition, Wilson took the unusual step of testifying, which seldom happens because defense attorneys are not allowed to be present in grand-jury proceedings. But it may well have helped the officer, inasmuch as the question before jurors was whether he had reason to fear for his life.

In short, the grand jury’s inquiry proceeded very much like a trial — but in secret, as grand jury proceedings always are. That sat poorly with attorneys representing Brown’s family. The prosecutor’s office took the unusual step of recording the sessions, and released them after the decision in hopes of achieving a measure of transparency after the fact.

That might not have been possible. “If there’s no true bill,” Adolphus Pruitt of the St. Louis NAACP told TIME in September, “as a community, we are going to be thrust right back into the same discontent and civil disobedience we experienced the first time around.”

Similar vows were heard from a variety of groups that descended on Ferguson in anticipation of the grand jury’s decision. The community remained on edge despite town meetings moderated by national figures, efforts at police reform such as wearable cameras, and sometimes fumbling attempts at reconciliation by local officials. In late September, Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson apologized for leaving Brown’s body in the street for about four hours – infuriating bystanders who saw it as yet another sign of disrespect. The chief’s apology was offered to Brown’s parents, but delivered in a video aired on CNN, and distributed by a public-relations firm. Another grievance came Monday afternoon, when attorneys for the Brown family say the parents first learned that the grand jury had reached a decision when they were asked about it by a reporter.

New incidents, meanwhile, kept emotions raw. In Ferguson, where some police officers wore wrist bands reading “I am Darren Wilson,” an officer was shot in the arm while chasing two men who ran from him when he approached them on Sept. 27. And on Oct. 8, an 18-year-old African American was shot and killed by an off-duty St. Louis police officer after allegedly firing a stolen gun at him.

The protests that began the night Brown’s lifeless body fell onto Canfield Drive never really stopped. Mostly peaceful demonstrations continued day and night over the weekend before the grand-jury announcement, the rowdiness growing the later it got. A dozen people were arrested in a four-day period ending Sunday. The weather helped police, with cold and continuous rain causing protesters to disperse on several occasions, according to the St. Louis County Police Department spokesman Brian Schellman.

The ongoing protests have cast a pall over virtually every corner of the community. Area businesses report sales down as much as 80%. That many decided to board their windows as a preventative measure ahead of the grand-jury decision kept even more shoppers away. Donations to local religious groups and nonprofit organizations have been sluggish. A local food pantry’s stock is low because “people don’t want to come into the area,” says Jason Bryant, a local pastor.

For many local residents eager to see Brown’s death lead to something positive, the fallout from the grand jury’s decision will only make matters worse. “Police have hurt our people for years, for decades,” says Cassidy Jones, 42. “But this is not the answer. This is anger making more anger. It’s not good.”

— Kristina Sauerwein reported from Ferguson, Mo. With additional reporting by Alex Altman and Zeke J. Miller / Washington, D.C.; Dan Kedmey / New York City; and Katy Steinmetz/San Francisco

Read next: Ferguson Is the Wrong Tragedy to Wake America Up

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TIME Iran

Why Iran and the U.S. Need Each Other More Than Ever

Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif before a meeting in Vienna, Nov. 23, 2014.
Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif before a meeting in Vienna, Nov. 23, 2014. Ronald Zak—Reuters

Once, each needed the other to be their defining enemy. Now, both sides need the other to help resolve a freshly delayed nuclear deal

Even in the absence of a deal, word that talks between Iran and six world powers will continue for another seven months make plain a startling new reality: Iran and the United States now need each other.

That has been true for three decades, of course, but during that time what each found in the other was a reliable enemy. After the Islamic Revolution of 1979, the ayatollahs who took control in Iran built their entire world view around opposition to the United States, which had propped up the Shah the masses sent packing (and helped engineer a coup against an elected Iranian government in 1953). The presence of the Great Satan allowed the mullahs’ vision to emerge – of a world defined by the teachings of Islam, as interpreted by themselves alone, and free of “Western toxification.” From the U.S. side, the 444-day takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran, and holding of 52 American hostages, has made the Islamic Republic the country’s go-to villain for more than a generation.

But grudges aren’t all there is to politics. Interests often trump feelings, and Tehran and Washington share a deep interest in reconciling the future of Iran’s controversial nuclear program.

The stakes for the U.S. are plain enough: Barring Iran from the means to develop a nuclear weapon undetected would not only keep a doomsday weapon from a historically radical regime, but also prevent a nuclear arms race in the world’s most reliably volatile region. And now that U.S. troops are back in Baghdad, and poised to remain in Afghanistan past the original Dec. 31, 2014 deadline, the Obama administration needs a clear foreign policy “win” more than ever.

Iran’s interests are not hard to see either – at least some of them aren’t. It wants to avoid being drawn into conflict, and, more immediately, wants relief from the devastating economic sanctions that Obama marshaled to coerce Tehran to the bargaining table. In an economy 80% controlled directly by the state, the estimated $100 billion lost so far has been a body blow to the regime. Among the losers is the financially rapacious Revolutionary Guard, an ideological military wrapped up with economic interests. Iran’s treasury is also stretched supporting its Hizballah and its ally Syria in that country’s civil war while oil prices plummet.

Iran may be wondering whether it even needs to become a nuclear state. It is coming off a string of battlefield successes, including a little-noticed takeover of Yemen by the Shiite al-Haouthi tribe supported by Tehran, and is fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) in Iraq, where it wields huge influence. “We in the axis of resistance are the new sultans of the Mediterranean and the Gulf,” the Iranian analyst Sadiq Al-Hosseini said on state television Sept. 4. At this rate, getting The Bomb might seem like an unnecessary hassle.

At the same time, pressure for a deal only builds among Iran’s youthful population—over 60% of whom are aged 30 or under—and the mullahs fear their own people as any government does. That’s been in evidence since the surprise first-round election of Hassan Rouhani as president last year, on a platform of ending Iran’s international isolation, and could be seen as recently as mid-November, when hundreds of thousands of young people gathered to mourn a pop singer, in a potent reminder of the lasting potential for spontaneous demonstrations and the appetite of youth for connection.

“If that is not a big referendum on the status quo, I don’t know what is,” says Abbas Milani, head of Iranian studies at Stanford University. “Things like this happen on a daily basis, and I think Rouhani has recognized that the society has already moved.”

Other observers see the glass as half empty, or even less. Ray Takeyh, who follows Iran for the Council on Foreign Relations, agrees that, unlike previous negotiations, the mullahs have signaled ownership of the process: “This negotiating team is not called ‘the negotiating team,’” he notes. “It’s called ‘children of the Revolution.’’’ But whatever interests the U.S. and Iran may share, he says, are overwhelmed by those they don’t.

“Arms control agreements are based on trust,” Takeyh says. “Each side has to trust the other. When they don’t trust each other, they both demand reversible steps that prevent years-old enmity from evaporating. I think that’s the reason you can’t get an arms control agreement. I think they both want to solve the nuclear issue, but at this point on terms that are unacceptable to each other.”

Still, they are talking, and holding to the terms of their previous agreement for seven more months. That might not be long enough to repair three decades of mistrust — but it might yet be enough to find that elusive patch of common ground on which to build a deal.

Read next: Iran Nuclear Talks to Be Extended Until July

TIME Iran

Iranian Officials Seem Cautiously Optimistic About the Nuclear Talks

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, attends a meeting in Tehran, Sept. 7, 2014.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, attends a meeting in Tehran, Sept. 7, 2014. AP

Releases in Iran's state-controlled media seem to indicate the country is preparing for a deal at the nuclear talks in Vienna

There’s no shortage of pessimism about whether Iran and six world powers can reach a comprehensive deal on the country’s nuclear program by Nov. 24, the self-imposed deadline. Time is short, and as a senior U.S. official said before leaving for Vienna, where the talks began, “we have some very serious gaps to close.” But those looking for optimism need search no further then Tehran’s official media. Tightly controlled by the regime that is the ultimate authority on any pact, the country’s media may be preparing the Iranian public for an agreement.

While hardliners in Tehran grump about the talks, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has clearly aligned himself with the negotiators—even posting an interview with one of the diplomats, deputy foreign minister Abbas Araqchi, on his personal website this week

“Araqchi basically said ‘We’re winning this, we’re not giving in,’” says Abbas Milani, who heads the Iranian studies department at Stanford University. Milani was astonished by the post. Never before had Khamenei’s office made the site a forum for another official, even one understood, as Araqchi is, to be serving as the Leader’s personal representative. It signaled a full embrace of the talks by the man who, as his title makes clear, holds ultimate power in the Islamic Republic.

“The headline was that the leader has had oversight of the entire negotiating process,” says Milani. “It’s clear to me this was an attempt to make a claim for victory and dissuade the idea that [Iranian President Hassan] Rouhani is doing this on his own and will get all the credit.”

On the same day as that post, the man Khamenei named to lead Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps was widely quoted on government outlets as saying that a nuclear deal was consistent with the ideals of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, which remains the litmus test for all government endeavors.

Mohammad Ali Jafari, the commander, also appeared to prepare the public for elements of a deal that may not look like a win for Iran. “If it appears that there are aspects of this where we’re accepted humiliation, first of all it’s not true — we are winning,” Jafari insisted. “But those perceptions of humiliation are because of the clumsy management and inexperience of some of our negotiators.”

The goal, the commander said, was the removal of the economic sanctions imposed on Iran by Washington and other world powers. “God willing, this goal will be reached,” Jafari said.

There was more. Ali Larijani, speaker of the Iranian parliament, which is dominated by conservatives, spoke of “our spirit of resistance” taught by Khamenei and his predecessor Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei as “the reason or our success, and why in spite of all efforts by the enemy they could not stop our progress on the nuclear front.”

“It is possible to have a deal,” Larijani added. “It’s just important for the U.S. not to ask for new conditions.”

Some in Iran complained that new conditions are just what the U.S. has indeed demanded. One hardline member of the parliament, or majlis, claimed to have seen the contents of an eight-page proposal Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly showed Iranian negotiators in Oman the previous week, and compared it to the Treaty of Turkmenchy, the 1828 capitulation to Russia that Iranians consider the epitome of humiliation, losing not only territory in the Caucasus but even the right to navigate on the Caspian Sea, which forms Iran’s northern border.

But to Iran watchers, what’s truly significant is that such grumbling is only background noise in what appears to be a concerted effort by Iran’s top echelon to set the foundation for a deal—if not on Monday, then if the talks are extended, as they may well be. There may be more riding on it than just escape from economically ruinous sanctions. The New York Times on Thursday quoted Amir Mohebbian, a conservative adviser long tied to the Leader’s office, predicting a nuclear deal as a harbinger of a strategic change in Iran’s entire political orientation.

“If there is a deal, and if it is good, the entire system will go along with it,” Mohebbian said in Tehran. “There will be a huge political shift after the deal. It is my conviction that those who make decisions within the system want it to be alive and supported. For survival, we need to change.”

It’s just such a change that President Obama has repeatedly said a nuclear deal might herald, opening the way for Iran to end its pariah status and return to “the community of nations.” So it’s possible Mohebbian is saying no more than what the administration wants to hear. But the expectations of a deal are running high in Iran, and the government appears to be doing much less than it might to discourage them.

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