TIME Egypt

Egypt Imprisons Four Men for ‘Deviant’ Gay Acts

The court in Cairo was condemned by human rights groups for imposing jail sentences on men accused of dressing in women's clothing and attending "deviant" parties

A court in Cairo has jailed four men for carrying out homosexual acts.

The men received up to eight years in prison after being found guilty of dressing in women’s clothing and attending “deviant” sex parties, reports the BBC. One of the men received a sentence of only three years, but with the added condition of hard labor.

Homosexuality is not officially banned in Egypt, but legislation outlawing debauchery has previously been used to put gay people on trial. A notable case was the trial in 2001 of 52 men accused of being homosexuals. 23 of them received sentences of five years imprisonment with hard labor.

Human rights campaigners condemned Monday’s verdict, with the U.S.-based organization Human Rights First stating its “alarm and disappointment” over the sentence. The group said the news may set a troubling precedent in the region.

“What happens in Egypt sets a trend for developments throughout the Arab world,” it said in a statement.

Human Rights First also claimed that the number of people in Egypt arrested because of their sexuality has risen since the coup that unseated president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. The trend has increased fears about a rising crackdown on personal freedoms within Egypt.


TIME movies

Hollywood Takes Megaupload to Court

Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom at the New Zealand Court of Appeals in Wellington, on this Sept. 20, 2012.
Marke Coote—Reuters Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom at the New Zealand Court of Appeals in Wellington, on this Sept. 20, 2012.

Six major film studios—Twentieth Century Fox, Disney, Paramount, Universal, Columbia and Warner Bros—have filed suit against the shuttered filesharing site for mass copyright violations, branding it an "unlawful hub for mass distibution"

Six major film studios have sued the file-sharing site Megaupload.

The studios—Twentieth Century Fox, Disney, Paramount, Universal, Columbia and Warner Bros—claimed the site and those running it were “encouraging and profiting” from breaches of copyright. The website’s founder Kim Dotcom denied the charges, the BBC reports, saying the site was only ever a storage service. He is fighting extradition to the U.S. from his New Zealand home to stand trial over charges of mass copyright infringement.

Megaupload was one of the biggest file-sharing sites before it was shut down by U.S. regulators in 2012. Megaupload was accused of allowing copyright-holders to lose more than $500m in revenue. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) insisted that because the site had paid its users to upload popular television programs and films, it was not purely a storage service.

Steven Fabrizio, the global general counsel of the MPAA, said that Megaupload’s content was almost always based on “stolen movie, TV shows and other commercial entertainment content.”

“Megaupload wasn’t a cloud storage service at all, it was an unlawful hub for mass distribution,” he said.

TIME Israel

Anonymous Launches New Cyberattack Against Israel

On the first anniversary of their 2013 attack, the notorious group of hackers have again targeted Israeli government websites

Hacker group AnonymousOpIsrael attacked Israeli government websites Monday, Haaretz reports. The pro-Palestinian organization gained access to the websites of the Israeli Education Ministry, the Postal Service and the Central Bureau of Statistics.

Anonymous issued a warning message via YouTube Sunday urging their “brothers and sisters to hack, deface, hijack, database leak, admin takeover and DNS terminate the Israeli cyberspace by any means necessary.”

A cyberattack by the group on April 7, 2013 took down a large number of Israeli websites, including those of the Defense Ministry and the Prime Minister’s office. The hackers also published a list of credit card numbers and email addresses apparently lifted from the website of a business selling equipment to the Israeli military. The government said the actions had not caused significant damage to Israel’s online infrastructure.

AnonymousOpIsrael stated that the latest attack was in retaliation for “crimes against humanity” which the group says the Israeli government committed against Palestinians.


TIME europe

Pro-Russian Protesters Seize Buildings After Ukrainian Officer Killed by Russian Soldier

Activists prepare a barricade inside the regional administration building in Donetsk, Ukraine, April 7, 2014.
Alexander Ermochenko—AP Activists prepare a barricade inside a government building in Donetsk, Ukraine, on April 7, 2014

Hundreds of pro-Russia demonstrators occupied government buildings in Donetsk on Monday and declared the eastern region a "people's republic" that is independent of the Ukrainian capital, Kiev

Hundreds of pro-Russia demonstrators who took over government buildings in Donetsk on Monday and who have called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to send troops to their aid are declaring the eastern region a “people’s republic” that is independent of the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.

The announcement, posted in a video on YouTube, was also delivered outside a building being occupied by protesters, the Guardian reports. “Seeking to create a popular, legitimate, sovereign state, I proclaim the creation for the sovereign state of the People’s Republic of Donetsk,” a spokesperson for the protesters told the crowd.

Police are negotiating with the protesters, who demand a secession referendum similar to the one carried out in Crimea before that peninsula was annexed by the Kremlin.

The unrest in Donetsk is adding to tensions stirred by Sunday’s shooting death of a Ukrainian naval officer at the hands of a Russian soldier. Russian media reported that Ukrainian soldiers on their way home from a night out got into a dispute with Russian soldiers who were guarding a military base. Dmytro Tymchuk, an analyst at Kiev’s Center for Military and Political Studies, later claimed in a Facebook post that Russian servicemen shot a Ukrainian naval officer twice in the head during a heated argument, the Guardian reported.

Tensions between Kiev and Moscow have been high since March around the annexation of Crimea, which is predominantly populated by ethnic Russians. The news of the Ukrainian officer’s death came just after interim Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk lashed out at Russia for allegedly stoking unrest in Ukraine’s eastern provinces.

“[Russia’s] plan is to cross the border and seize the country’s territory, and we will not allow it,” Yatsenyuk said.


TIME United Kingdom

Royal Calls For Badgers To Be Culled With Cyanide Gas

The British princess said a 22-year ban on using cyanide to kill badgers would be a more humane method of culling than shooting

Princess Anne, the daughter of Queen Elizabeth, on Friday incurred the wrath of animal welfare protesters after she said Britain’s badgers should be gassed, reports the Guardian.

She claimed it was the most humane way of approaching the problem of the rise in bovine tuberculosis, a disease spread by cattle consuming grass contaminated with badger urine and faeces. But gassing badgers with cyanide was outlawed in Britain in 1982 after being considered ineffective and cruel.

She made her remarks during an interview on Friday with the BBC, set to be broadcast on Sunday. The government’s Environment Minister, Owen Paterson, said that gassing was being considered as an alternative to shooting if it proved to be efficient and humane. The Princess’s intervention came only a day after Paterson abandoned plans to extend a badger cull across Britain.

Badger experts insisted that gassing the animals would be just as inhumane as the current practice of shooting them. Veterinarian Mark Jones stated that “any attempt to reintroduce gassing would no doubt result in a slow and painful death for badgers.”


TIME Africa

Mali Acts To Stem Spread Of Ebola

The government in Bamako has begun using thermal imaging to check for travelers with high fevers, and warned against non-essential travel for its citizens as ebola spreads in West Africa

Mali is on high alert against the spread of the ebola virus in western Africa, reports the BBC.

Three new suspected cases of the disease were found on Friday near where Mali borders Guinea, where 86 people have already died as a result of the illness. New government precautions include using thermal imaging cameras to screen people for potential signs of fever, as well as restricting the movements of people trying to enter the capital city of Bamako from the border region. The government in Mali has also advised citizens against travel to any suspected ebola-affected areas within the country.

The ebola virus is spread by close contact with other carriers and leads to a high fever causing muscle pain, diarrhea, vomiting and even organ failure. There is no known cure.

The current outbreak was first discovered in Guinea’s southeastern region of Nzerekore, but was not officially confirmed as ebola for six weeks. It has since spread to the country’s capital, Conakry. Although normally found in places like Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, it has also reached Liberia where it has killed six people. Sierra Leone has similarly reported some cases, and Senegal has closed its border with Guinea.


TIME U.S.-Russia Relations

Miley Cyrus Could Be Silenced By Russia Sanctions Flap

Miley Cyrus performs at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, March 18, 2014.
Kathleen Flynn—The Times-Picayune/Landov Miley Cyrus performs at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, March 18, 2014.

Planned concerts by the pop singer and Justin Timberlake in Helsinki could be at risk for cancelation, as concert promoter Live Nation may be forbidden from doing business with a venue owned by Russians blacklisted by the U.S. after the Kremlin annexed Crimea

Miley Cyrus and Justin Timberlake risk having concerts canceled in Finland, after Russian venue owners were sanctioned by the U.S. following the Kremlin’s annexation of Crimea.

Concert promoter Live Nation could potentially be blocked from completing any financial transactions with the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki unless it gets permission from the U.S. Treasury, the Guardian reports. The three Russians that each have a stake in the venue were blacklisted by the U.S. government in response to the Kremlin’s annexation of the Crimea.

The blacklisted include Gennady Timchenko, co-founder of the oil trader Guvnor, and two brothers, Arkady and Boris Rotenberg, both businessmen with strong links to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The American singers are due to perform there in May and June. However the legality of their shows depends on whether all the financial transactions involved took place before the sanctions were imposed. Roman Rotenberg, the son of one of the sanctioned trio, hit out at the news.

“Why should the Finnish people suffer? The shows are sold out,” he said.



TIME Pakistan

Pakistan Tries to Revive Peace Talks by Freeing 16 Taliban Prisoners

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif approved the action in an attempt to reignite the fragile peace process between his government and the militant group

The government in Pakistan has approved the release of 16 imprisoned members of the Taliban, reports Reuters.

Officials confirmed on Thursday that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had approved the action in an attempt to reignite the fragile peace process between his government and the militant group. An aide to the prime minister said they believed releasing them would “create goodwill, and we hope [the Taliban] will reciprocate.”

The Pakistani branch of the Taliban had initially agreed to a one-month ceasefire at the beginning of March, but then said earlier this week they would not extend the deal out of concern that the government was not serious about meeting their terms. Islam Zeb, the political agent of the troubled northwestern region of South Waziristan, confirmed the government’s willingness to release non-combatant prisoners as a goodwill gesture.

However the Taliban’s demands include the release of up to 800 prisoners it says are merely family members of insurgents, and the withdrawal of the Pakistani army from semi-autonomous regions close to the border with Afghanistan. Zeb confirmed that another 100 prisoners on the Taliban’s list would be released within the next few days – a sign that Sharif is overriding calls within the Pakistani military for harsher penalties against militant strongholds.



It’s Raining Saharan Sand In The U.K.

The skyscrapers of the Canary Wharf business district in London are shrouded in smog, April 2, 2014.
Matt Dunham—AP The skyscrapers of the Canary Wharf business district in London are shrouded in smog, April 2, 2014.

The hills and dales of England and Wales were covered in a fine layer of red dust, thanks to a continental air flow containing dust and sand blown up by storms in the African desert. The unusual conditions are expected to cause record pollution in the U.K.

Although Brits are used to unpleasant weather, Saharan sand is a new one.

Motorists in parts of England and Wales found their cars covered in a layer of fine red dust last weekend, The Daily Telegraph reports, which environmental experts say was blown over from the Sahara desert.

The government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the pollution was caused by south-easterly winds meeting with a continental air flow containing dust and sand blown up by storms in the African desert. Those parts of the U.K. who have noticed the change in air quality will therefore experience abnormally high levels of pollution in the next few days.

Environmental experts warned on Wednesday that it will exceed the U.K. government’s official scale for measuring pollution, and that anyone with pervasive heart and lung problems should avoid intensive activity. When pollution reaches 7 or 8 on the scale older people, children with lung problems and those with asthma are warned not to exert themselves physically. However when it reaches 10, the highest point on the scale, the general population in the affected areas is told to “reduce physical exertion, particularly outdoors.”

Although the pollution is expected to reach very high levels on Wednesday, it is predicted to ebb away by Friday.


TIME France

Hollande’s Former Partner Ségolène Royal Appointed to French Cabinet

Segolene Royal gives a speech in Paris in 2011.
Edouard Bernau—Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images Segolene Royal gives a speech in Paris in 2011.

Former presidential candidate Ségolène Royal is set to join the new "combat government" as environment minister, working closely with newly appointed Prime Minister Manuel Valls, after major defeats this week for the Socialist party

A major re-shuffle by France’s ruling Socialist party has seen Ségolène Royal, a former French presidential candidate and the ex-partner of President François Hollande, join the government.

It was announced on Wednesday that Royal would hold the post of environment minister in the cabinet of newly appointed Prime Minister Manuel Valls, reports the BBC.

The decision to appoint Royal, who ran for the French presidency against Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007, came in the wake of speculations over whether she would return from the political wilderness after a long period of absence. Royal is the mother of Hollande’s four children, but has been separated from him since 2007. The president lived with Valerie Trierweiler after the separation, but that relationship ended after revelations of an affair between Hollande and actress Julie Gayet.

Polls have shown Hollande to be one of France’s most unpopular presidents in recent history, after failing to restore the country’s ailing economy. His party was dealt a crushing defeat in municipal elections earlier this week, forcing prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault to quit. Hollande appointed Valls and a new selection of ministers described as a “government of combat.”


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