TIME Nepal

Climbers Start Leaving Everest As Sherpas Threaten to Strike

Mount Everest on Oct. 27, 2011.
Kevin Frayer—AP Mount Everest seen in 2011.

Some foreign mountaineers looking to ascend the world's highest peak in Nepal are divided between staying and going as Sherpas demand better compensation and improved safety conditions following a recent avalanche that killed 16 local guides

Some would-be Mount Everest climbers are packing up and heading home as some Sherpas threaten to strike after a deadly avalanche, the BBC reports.

The Sherpas, locals who do the heavy-lifting for foreign climbers seeking to make the treacherous ascent, are demanding better financial treatment and improved safety conditions in the wake of a disaster that killed 16 of their colleagues.

Top Nepalese tourism officials are attempting to negotiate with the Sherpas in an effort to save this year’s climbing season. The Everest climb is all but impossible for foreign visitors without the help, knowledge and labor of the experienced Sherpas, who currently make from $3,000 to $6,000 each season. The country’s tourism ministry expressed hope that the talks between the Sherpas and the Nepalese government might salvage at least some of the season, which generates about $3.3 million annually for Nepal in climbing fees alone.

More than 300 foreign climbers were set to scale Everest’s peak this year. However, last week’s fatal accident caused many to head home over concerns for their own safety regardless of the Sherpas’ threats to strike.

[BBC and Independent]


Benedict Cumberbatch Is Everyone’s Favorite European on the TIME 100

The English actor's fans were full of support for the honoree, who was amongst high-profile Europeans such as Angela Merkel and Andy Haldane on the list

Reactions to Benedict Cumberbatch making 2014’s TIME 100 list were unambiguous: people are thrilled. There was almost unanimous agreement — particularly among Cumberbatch’s famed fanbase, who proudly call themselves “Cumberbitches” — that the English actor’s place on the list was thoroughly deserved.

Once the list was revealed Thursday, fans swiftly expressed excitement and support not only for Cumberbatch, but also for actor Colin Firth, who penned the tribute. Firth’s claim that Cumberbatch, famous for his roles in Sherlock, Star Trek: Into Darkness and 12 Years a Slave, was so talented that he “must be stopped” was greeted with mirth:

Alternately, reactions to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s inclusion were muted, judging by Twitter. Though German football player Jürgen Klinsmann wrote that Merkel was “firm, measured and agreeable” and that her leadership saw Germany through both the 2006 World Cup and the European financial crisis, few social media users appeared to share his enthusiasm.

Yet another European garnered some high-profile support for his inclusion on the list: Andy Haldane, the Executive Director of Financial Stability at the Bank of England, was praised by his fellow nominee Anat Admati who enthusiastically tweeted:

TIME Africa

Twitter Reacts to Honorees From Africa on 2014 TIME 100

Religious leaders, philanthropists and activists in Africa were among the individuals honored

A mixture of praise and criticism was voiced on Twitter when news broke of the Africans included in the TIME 100 list of the most influential people in the world Thursday.

Most comments surrounding the inclusion of South African human rights lawyer Thuli Madonsela were filled with praise:

Yet some complained that Madonsela was the only one from her country to make the cut:

Others pointed out the irony of the tribute to her being penned by the apparently disgraced Nigerian bank governor Lamido Sanusi:

The South African news agency SA Breaking News and other supporters on Twitter quoted Madonsela’s statement saying she was “humbled” to have been included:

Twitter users also heaped praise on Nigerian finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who was included in the list along with her fellow countryman, the business magnate Aliko Dangote, whose profile was written by U.S. philanthropist Bill Gates

The Kenyan lawyer, blogger and activist Ory Okolloh sent out a brief message of thanks in Swahili to TIME on her Twitter feed for her inclusion in the list:

Others tweeted their thanks to the American author and pastor Jim Wallis for penning tributes to the religious leaders Imam Omar Kobine Layama, Archbishop Dieudonne Nzapalainga and the Rev. Nicolas Guerekoyame-Gbangou. The men were involved in peace-making efforts in the war-torn Central African Republic, and Wallis was applauded for drawing attention to the contributions of the country’s faith leaders:


TIME Pakistan

Gun, Bomb Attacks in Northwest Pakistan Kill 9

Dozens more were injured in two attacks a week after the Taliban ended a ceasefire with Pakistan's government

Two separate gun and bomb attacks in northwest Pakistan left nine people dead Tuesday, Reuters reports.

A rush-hour car bombing in the Charsadda district killed three and left 33 others wounded; another six died and three more were injured in an attack on a police patrol in Peshawar.

The attacks come a week after the Taliban ended a 40-day ceasefire with Pakistan’s government. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif earlier promised to negotiate an end to hostilities with the Taliban. However, peace talks that began in February have yielded few results.



Syrian Rebels Cling to Homs as Assad Launches New Assault

Opposition forces in Syria's third-largest city are struggling to stand their ground as government forces launch one of the harshest assaults yet to undo rebel gains ahead of the June elections

Opposition activists in Homs say anti-government forces were forced onto the defensive in Syria’s third-largest city Tuesday, as fighters under President Bashar Assad launched their latest brutal assault to expel the rebels who remain.

Some of the hundreds of rebels there have mentioned surrender, activists told the Associated Press, but others have ramped up retaliations against Assad loyalists by staging attacks like suicide car bombings in areas under government control. “We expect Homs to fall,” one activist using the name Thaer Khalidiya said. “In the next few days, it could be under the regime’s control.”

Assad’s forces are thought to be emboldened by victories against the rebels in areas between Damascus and the Lebanese border, where attempts at forcing the opposition out resulted in their supply lines being cut. Government blockades in towns around Damascus, which bred hunger among rebels, have also weakened their resistance.

Opposition factions still control large swaths of countryside and have bases near the Jordanian and Turkish borders. But the fight for Homs, a strategic area for its link between Damascus and Syria’s largest city Aleppo, underscores Assad’s aim to bat down rebel gains before the elections now scheduled for June 3.


TIME Venezuela

Venezuelan Capital Hit By Fresh Wave of Riots

Anti-government demonstrators marked Easter Sunday by burning effigies of President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas

A fresh bout of violence broke out on Sunday in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, the BBC reports.

Demonstrators opposed to the government of President Nicolas Maduro were beaten back by police with water cannons and tear gas after launching petrol bombs in the district of Chacao. Other masked protestors burned effigies of the president in a day of demonstrations entitled “Rally for Democracy.”

The demonstrations began in February when protestors demanded action against Venezuela’s high rates of crime and food shortages, and spiraling inflation rate. Over 40 people have died in the continuing violence, with hundreds arrested. Supporters of the president have also been protesting, with tens of thousands of people dressed in red taking to the streets. But many within the opposition movement have vowed to keep demonstrating until Maduro leaves power.

“We’re staying in the street until we get our country back,” 22-year-old student leader Djamil Jassir told the BBC.



TIME Argentina

Argentina Rescues Girl Imprisoned in Garage for Nine Years

The 15-year-old was discovered by one of her biological sisters

Argentinean police said Wednesday they rescued a 15-year-old girl who had been severely beaten, starved and locked in a garage for nine years by her foster parents, the BBC reports. The girl was found in the Buenos Aires by one of her biological sisters, who had previously lost track of her.

Argentine officials said the girl was taken into foster care after a court declared her biological parents financially unfit to provide for her along with their seven other children. The girl’s biological family lost track of their daughter after 2005 for reasons unclear.

The girl had reportedly only been fed bread and water while in captivity and barely weighed 44 pounds when she was discovered. She had apparently been out of the garage twice in nine years, with only a dog and a monkey for company while she was detained. She claimed her foster parents physically abused her if she tried to eat any of the leftover food given to the pets.

The girl has been taken to a local hospital for treatment while her guardians have been arrested and charged with slavery and abuse.


TIME Syria

Facebook Removes Jihadist Preacher’s Page

The social media site is thought to have removed his page on the grounds that it violated restrictions on promoting violence

Facebook confirmed Thursday it removed the page of a radical preacher from Australia who reportedly used social media to encourage terrorist acts, The Guardian reports.

Musa Cerantonio, a Muslim preacher from Melbourne, was using his Facebook page to urge followers to kill American politicians. Cerantonio posted in December, for example, that “if we see that Muslims are being killed by tyrant leaders of the U.S.A. then we must stop them with our hands. This means that we should stop them by fighting them, by assassinating their oppressive leaders, by weakening their offensive capabilities etc [sic].”

The removal of his page comes after academics at London’s King’s College found that Cerantonio was among the most “liked” preachers among western jihadists who’ve traveled to Syria to fight. That finding came after researchers analyzed for more than a year the social media behaviors of 190 Syria-based Western fighters fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The Guardian claimed another radical preacher from the U.S., Ahmad Musa Jibril, has twice praised the deaths of British Muslim fighters killed in Syria on Twitter. Jibril reportedly deleted his account after the researchers published their report.

[The Guardian]

TIME Middle East

Iran Mulls Ban on Vasectomies

Iran's supreme leader has encouraged the government to boost birthrates by rolling back family planning laws

Lawmakers in Iran are considering whether they should ban vasectomies and tighten abortion laws in an effort to boost the country’s birth rate.

The parliament in Tehran voted this week in favor of further discussions about making vasectomies illegal and punishing anyone involved in supplying contraceptive services, the Guardian reports. Iran implemented a birth control program 20 years ago that included the distribution of free condoms and subsidies for male sterilization. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last year criticized the country’s family planning laws as too similar to those of Western countries, making it likely the new measures under consideration will pass parliament. Khamenei had encouraged the government to take action to address an aging population and to almost double the population from 77 million to 150 million.

Some activists say the country’s declining birth rates on social, economic and cultural factors, the Guardian reports, and worry a change in policy will lead to greater maternal mortality rates. “We have enough young people who will procreate when they marry in the coming years,” said Kamiar Alaei, a doctor who has worked on HIV treatment programs in the country and was previous imprisoned there. “Slashing contraceptive services altogether will only increase unintentional abortion and maternal mortality.”



Iraq Shutters Abu Ghraib Prison

The country's justice ministry has relocated the infamous prison's inmates over concerns about militant attacks, following a jailbreak last July

Iraq’s government has closed the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, citing security concerns in the increasingly restive area of the country.

Justice Minister Hassan al-Shimmari announced that its 2,400 inmates had been relocated to other jails in the country’s central and northern provinces. On Tuesday the justice ministry described the prison as in a “hot area,” the BBC reports. Militants attacked the jail in July 2013, freeing dozens of inmates and killing at least 50 prisoners and security guards in the process. The jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Abu Ghraib is situated in a region west of the capital, Baghdad. Under Saddam Hussein’s rule thousands of people are thought to have been tortured and perished behind its walls, and in 2004 the prison was at the centre of a scandal involving abuses committed by U.S. soldiers against Iraqi inmates. Since then it was renamed Baghdad Central Prison.

The justice ministry did not say if the closure would be temporary, or permanent.




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