TIME Crime

Uber Driver Accused of Raping Passenger in Boston

The alleged rape comes as Uber navigates intense scrutiny at home and abroad

An Uber driver in Boston was charged with kidnapping and raping a customer of the ride-sharing service, in another potentially damaging case for the rapidly expanding company.

Alejandro Done, 46, allegedly drove a woman he picked up to a secluded area and then assaulted her in the back seat earlier this month. He pleaded not guilty at an arraignment on Wednesday, the Boston Globe reports.

Uber says Done had passed a background check. “This is a despicable crime and our thoughts and prayers are with the victim during her recovery,” Uber spokesperson Kaitlin Durkosh said in a statement to CBS Boston. “Uber has been working closely with law enforcement and will continue to do everything we can to assist their investigation.”

The ride-sharing company is coming under increasing scrutiny in the U.S. and abroad over regulatory and safety concerns as it expands to more than 50 countries. Several countries have moved to outlaw Uber services, and New Delhi banned Uber earlier this month days after a female passenger accused her Uber driver of rape.

The ride-sharing service said yesterday that it was boosting safety measures and revamping its background checks abroad.

[Boston Globe]

TIME Civil Rights

NYPD Cancels Holiday Parties as Protests Continue

Protesters Stage Nationwide Marches In Wake Of Recent Grand Jury Decisions
NYPD officers stand guard during the National March Against Police Violence, which was organized by National Action Network, at One Police Plaza on December 13, 2014 in New York City. Kena Betancur—Getty Images

Protest leaders are meeting with the Mayor on Friday.

New York City police are canceling or postponing their holiday parties as protests over the death of Eric Garner become almost a nightly occurrence.

DNAinfo New York, a local news source, reports that police precincts don’t want to risk taking officers off the streets as the protests continue across the city two weeks after a grand jury decided not to indict a police officer in Garner’s death.

At least two thirds of the precincts had canceled their festivities, which the police pay for themselves, according to DNAinfo. Some will be rescheduled for January — if the protests have subsided by then.

[DNAinfo]

TIME Education

J.K. Rowling Calls for an End to Orphanages

JK Rowling Hosts Fundraising Event For Charity 'Lumos'
Joanne "JK" Rowling attends a charity evening hosted by JK Rowling to raise funds for 'Lumos' a charity helping to reunite children in care with their families in Eastern Europe at Warner Bros Studios on November 9, 2013 in London, England. Danny E. Martindale—Getty Images

“The solution is not pretty murals, or comfier beds, or teddy bears. The solution is no institutions.”

Author and activist J.K. Rowling has called for the closure of the world’s orphanages.

In an op-ed in The Guardian on Thursday, the Harry Potter author called for closing the institutions that hold some 8 million children worldwide and sending the children to their parents or to other families.

According to Rowling, most children held in orphanages are not in fact orphans but have been removed from their parents, sometimes because of poverty.

“The idea of any child being taken from their family and locked away, all too often in atrocious conditions, is particularly poignant at this time of year,” wrote Rowling. “For children in institutions, life too often resembles the darkest of Grimms’ fairytales.”

The author founded the NGO Lumos in 2005 to raise awareness about orphanages, borrowing the name from a spell in her Harry Potter series that creates light. To date, she says, the organization has helped reduce the number of children in institutions in Bulgaria, for example, by 54% while increasing the number of foster care parents several times over. A global reduction of orphanages to zero is possible, she says, by 2050.

“The solution is not pretty murals, or comfier beds, or teddy bears. The solution is no institutions.”

[The Guardian]

TIME Pakistan

Pakistani Court Grants Bail To Mumbai Terror Attack Suspect

Zaki-ur-Rehman, Syed Salahuddin
An alleged plotter of Mumbai attacks Pakistani Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, center, prays with Syed Salahuddin, right, chief of Hezbul Mujahideen or United Jehad Council, at a rally on June 28, 2008 in Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistani Kashmir. Roshan Mughal—AP

The move was likely to infuriate India, days after a brief show of solidarity in the wake of the deadly school attack in Peshawar.

Ties between India and Pakistan were set to further sour after a Pakistani court granted bail on Thursday to man allegedly behind the 2008 attack on Mumbai.

The suspect, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, was arrested in 2009 in Pakistan after the sole surviving gunman in the rampage that left 166 people dead identified him as the mastermind. On Thursday, his defense lawyer confirmed to Reuters that he was issued bail and would be out of prison by early next week.

The Mumbai attack, during which ten militants linked to the Pakistani group Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorized the city for three days, damaged relations between the two countries.

The move to grant bail comes days after a terror attack at a school in Peshawar prompted a brief reprieve in the country’s long-standing rivalry and united Pakistan against militants within its borders.

[Reuters]

TIME faith

A Hanukkah Story You’ve Probably Never Heard

An Ultra-Orthodox Jewish man lights the
An Ultra-Orthodox Jewish man lights the candles of the fifth night of the Jewish holiday of Hanukah, in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea Shearim in Jerusalem. MENAHEM KAHANA—AFP/Getty Images

Tensions between the Jewish communities of Jerusalem gave way to a temporary peace

You may have heard of the Christmas truce, when World War I soldiers on both sides of no man’s land left their trenches to chat, play soccer and exchange gifts with each other in the winter of 1914, a century ago this year.

Less well known is the Hanukkah truce of 1954.

That was the temporary respite in tensions between Jerusalem’s ultra-orthodox community and the city’s other Jewish residents.

At the time–and to this day–some ultra-orthodox residents of the conservative Mea Shearim neighborhood clashed with Jerusalem’s Jewish residents on the weekly Sabbath, a day when they believe Jews are forbidden from performing certain activities, including smoking, using a phone or driving.

In 1954, a series of attacks by ultra-orthodox Jews on drivers or people smoking publicly had put the city on edge, while members of the ultra-Orthodox community continued to protest drivers by taking to streets and parking lots and shouting “Shabbes” (Yiddish for Sabbath) and insults at drivers.

But as Hanukkah approached, as TIME reported in its January 1955 issue, a miracle of sorts occurred. A leading member of the ultra-orthodox community who had just been briefly locked up for his role in recent riots, Rabbi Abraham Blau, called for an end to violence ahead of the holiday.

“If I had my way,” Blau said, according to the TIME report, “every Jew who wishes to stand up against what he believes to be a desecration of his faith would demonstrate with his hands tied behind his back to prove he came in peace.”

Read TIME’s 1955 story about the holiday truce: Hanukkah in Jerusalem

TIME Uganda

The Group Behind Kony 2012 Is Shutting Down Most Operations

This picture made available 24 May 2006
This picture, made available 24 May 2006 by the Monitor media group in Kampala, Uganda, shows one of the world's most wanted rebel chiefs, Joseph Kony of the Lord Resistance Movement. STRINGER—AFP/Getty Images

"Despite making incredible progress toward our mission, it’s been difficult to fund the breadth of our work, especially over the last two years"

The non-profit that helped mobilize the international community against a brutal African warlord–or misrepresented and oversimplified a complex issue, depending on your point of view–says it’s packing up.

Invisible Children, founded in 2004 to raise awareness about Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army in central Africa, announced on Monday that it is winding down its U.S. operations and will cut most of its 21-person staff.

In a statement posted to its website, Invisible Children cited a drop in Kony’s influence–though he still leads several hundred fighters–but also indicated it was having trouble fundraising.

“Despite making incredible progress toward our mission, it’s been difficult to fund the breadth of our work, especially over the last two years,” the group said.

In 2012, Invisible Children released an emotional film about Kony that catapulted the organization onto the international stage thanks to the film’s viral effectiveness–and the subsequent criticism of its portrayal of the conflict and the resulting “hashtag activism.”

The film, Kony 2012, was viewed more than 100 million times in less than a week and was called at the time the most viral video in history. It was credited with helping to prompt the U.S. to back an African Union military force charged with hunting down Kony.

But it also faced widespread criticism for its simplistic tone and for exaggerating the threat posed by the LRA, at the expense of other health and social issues. While the LRA had forced thousands of children to become child soldiers over the previous two decades, by the the time the film was released, Kony had been expelled from Uganda and led only a few hundred followers.

The film’s backlash appeared to have hurt the NGO’s fundraising efforts: while Invisible Children raised $26.5 million in 2012, nearly as much as it had raised in the previous three years combined, it collected $4.9 million in 2013, according to its financial reports.

TIME Crime

Connecticut Postal Worker Said to Steal Drugs From Mail Sentenced to Prison

Man “profiled” packages passing through his post office

A postal worker in Connecticut with an apparent knack for identifying packages of drugs, accused of stealing and selling marijuana and cocaine, was sentenced Thursday to three years in prison.

According to the Hartford Courant, court records detailed how Edward Hogan, 38, “profiled” packages that passed through the Waterbury, Conn., post office by their size, original address, destination and postage value. If he found drugs, Hogan allegedly removed them, then later resealed and delivered the empty packages — and sold the drugs with his brother. Authorities said Hogan and his brother, Justin, who was sentenced last week to two years in prison, stole and sold more than 100 pounds of marijuana and some five pounds of cocaine.

Hogan had earlier pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement by a federal postal employee as well as to conspiracy to possess, with intent to distribute, 500 grams or more of cocaine. Law enforcement officials came across the scheme, they said, while following the trail of illegal drug shipments from Puerto Rico to Waterbury.

Read next: Postal Worker Stole “Because I was Bored”

[Hartford Courant]

TIME Infectious Disease

Superbugs Could Kill 10 Million By 2050, Report Warns

Could be deadlier than cancer

Rising rates of drug-resistant infections could lead to the death of some 10 million people and cost some $100 trillion in 2050.

That’s the startling conclusion of a review commissioned by British Prime Minister David Cameron which has warned that if antimicrobial resistance is not curbed, it could undermine modern medicine and cut up to 3.5% from the global economy.

The threat could also disproportionately affect the developing world, according to the report authored by economist Jim O’Neill, leading to more than 4 million deaths in Africa and 4.7 million deaths in Asia. By comparison, cancer killed 8.2 million people worldwide in 2014.

The report, which will be followed up by a full package of public health recommendations by 2016, called for “coherent international action that spans drug regulation and antimicrobial drugs use across humans, animals and the environment.”

Specifically, the report said that antibacterial research, the use of alternatives like vaccines and international measures to reduce the spread of bacteria could help reduce the threat from drug-resistant infections.

“It would be unforgiveable if the great progress made in combatting infectious diseases could be threatened by the lack of new drugs that are within reach, or for lack of common sense investment in infrastructure that keeps us safe from avoidable infections,” says the report.

Read the entire report here.

TIME Infectious Disease

Whooping Cough Outbreak Strikes Undervaccinated Michigan County

Grand Traverse County has the state’s highest rates of parents choosing not have their children vaccinated

A major outbreak of whooping cough has struck a Michigan area where many people opted out of vaccinations against the disease.

At a single school in Grand Traverse County, which has the state’s highest rates of parents choosing not have their children vaccinated, there have been 151 confirmed and probable cases of whooping cough, reports local news outlet MLive.com.

“Nobody likes to be the person who says, ‘I told you so,’ but what’s unfolding now is exactly the scenario feared by those worried about the region’s low immunization numbers,” Bradley Goodwin, the president of the Grand Traverse County Medical Society, said.

Cases of whooping cough have been reported at more than 14 school buildings in the area, which has also reported several cases of the highly contagious measles.

Read more at MLive.com

TIME National Security

Guantanamo Bay Detainee Details ‘Sadistic’ Abuse

Guantanamo Bay Facility Continues To Serve As Detention Center For War Detainees
A Public Affairs Officer escorts media through the currently closed Camp X-Ray which was the first detention facility to hold 'enemy combatants' at the U.S. Naval Station on June 27, 2013 in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Joe Raedle—Getty Images

Deprived of sleep, drugged, and forced to watch pornographic footage or videos of other prisoners being abused

A man detained in Guantanamo Bay for nearly 13 years has said he was subjected to “dirty and sadistic” abuse at the prison, days after a Senate report revealed the extent of the CIA’s use of harsh interrogation tactics.

In a first-person account for the human rights organization Reprieve and published on CNN, Samir Naji from Yemen says he was deprived of sleep, drugged, and forced to watch pornographic footage or videos of other prisoners being abused.

Naji, a Yemeni who was accused of being a bodyguard for Osama bin Laden, was cleared for release in 2009 but remains in detention along with 135 other inmates.

“The dirty and sadistic methods I endured — which were then taken directly to Abu Ghraib — achieved nothing, except to shame that American flag hanging in the prison corridor,” he says in the account. “America cannot keep hiding from its past, and its present, like this. Our stories, and our continued detention, cannot be made to disappear.”

Read more at CNN

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