TIME Bizarre

Extreme Ironing Is Back

The sport's creator is coming back after an 11-year hiatus

The man who invented Extreme Ironing is coming out of retirement.

Phil Shaw says he is again training for the sport he created in the 1990s after an 11 year hiatus, according to Britain’s ITN. For the uninitiated, Extreme Ironing involves performing the domestic chore in extreme environments like rock climbing or kayaking on rapids. Somehow, the concept briefly took off (including a world tour).

“I’d almost forgotten how people respond to it,” Shaw said. “At the end of the day, it’s a bit of fun, and people enjoy it.”

[The Guardian]

TIME Transportation

Uber Cars Outnumber Yellow Cabs on Streets of New York

Taxis New York
Mario Tama—Getty Images Taxis pass Broadway theater billboards in Times Square in New York City.

Statistics from NYC’s taxi regulator reveal an important milestone for the ride-sharing service

Uber cars have overtaken yellow cabs on the streets of New York City.

There are 14,088 registered Uber cars compared with 13,587 yellow taxis, according to new statistics from New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission.

The figures, reported by the AP, reflect the rapid expansion of the ride-sharing service, which was introduced in New York in 2011.

But as the AP notes, the numbers don’t mark the demise of the yellow cab just yet. While there are more registered Uber cars, there are still roughly 15 times as many daily rides in yellow cabs as there are in Uber vehicles.

Uber drivers are likely to own their car and drive less than 40 hours per week, while yellow taxis are generally owned by companies that find drivers for the cars during all hours of the week.

[AP]

TIME Tunisia

2 Spanish Tourists Hid in Tunisian Museum Overnight

A man holds a Tunisian and a Catalan flag during a minute of silence held outside Barcelona's city hall in Barcelona on March 19, 2015.
Josep Lago—AFP/Getty Images A man holds a Tunisian and a Catalan flag during a minute of silence held outside Barcelona's city hall in Barcelona on March 19, 2015.

A museum employee reportedly helped hide the tourists

Two Spanish tourists emerged unscathed from a Tunisian museum Thursday morning alongside the museum worker who helped hide them, one day after gunmen opened fire on visitors in an attack that left at least 23 people dead.

The Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo confirmed to reporters in Spain on Thursday that the two tourists, Juan Carlos Sanchez and Cristina Rubio, were safe, according to the Associated Press. Rubio is four months pregnant.

At least 23 people were killed, including the two gunmen, and dozens were injured on Wednesday in the assault on the National Bardo Museum, the worst terror attack in the country in years.

The museum employee helped hide the two tourists in an office during the attack, AFP reports, citing a representative of the Tunisian security forces. All three people, who were uninjured, were taken to a hospital Thursday for medical tests.

“I thought my son was dead. Now I’m relieved,” the employee’s mother told AFP.

It’s still unclear how the three survivors were not found by security forces who spent the night searching for them following the attack.

[AFP]

 

TIME Health Care

Support for Obamacare Highest in Years, Poll Says

The country is almost evenly divided.

The gap between Americans who support and oppose President Obama’s controversial health care law shrank to its narrowest margin in more than two years, according to a new poll.

A Kaiser Health Tracking Poll conducted in March found that 41% of respondents had a favorable view of the Affordable Care Act—up from 1% in January—and 43% had an unfavorable view. The numbers are a marked increase from July 2014, when the same poll found 53% of respondents viewed the law unfavorably, and they come just ahead of the five-year anniversary of the law’s enactment this weekend. Kaiser has tracked opinion on the health care law regularly.

Support largely fell along party lines, with 74% of Republicans expressing an unfavorable opinion and 65% of Democrats expressing a favorable view. While most people said the law had no direct impact on them, Republicans were far more likely to say it had hurt them than Democrats.

In total, 30% of respondents said that Congress should repeal the law, including 11% of Democrats and 61% of Republicans, while 46% of respondents said the law should remain as is or be expanded, including 72% of Democrats and 16% of Republicans.

Most respondents—53%—also said they were not aware of the Supreme Court case underway that threatens to roll back a key feature of the law.

The poll of 1,503 adults, conducted March 6-12, has a margin of error of three percentage points.

TIME Environment

This Was the Warmest Winter on Record

But you wouldn't have guessed it if you lived on the East Coast

Global temperatures from December to February were the highest on record, U.S. climate officials said Wednesday.

If that comes as a surprise to many Americans after an agonizingly cold winter, it’s because the region encompassing the eastern United States and Canada was one of the only places on earth with lower-than-average temperatures.

NOAA

Globally, the average temperature from December to February was 1.42 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the 20th-century average, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The average temperature was the highest since tracking began in 1880, surpassing the previous high in 2007 by .05 degrees.

Last month marked the second coldest February on record, behind February 1998.

Read next: It’s Official: Boston Had Snowiest Winter Ever

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME technology

Angry Birds Maker Rovio Sees Profits Fall 73% in 2014

"Angry Birds" merchandise displayed in Jakarta, Indonesia in 2012.
Romeo Gacad—AFP/Getty Images "Angry Birds" merchandise displayed in Jakarta, Indonesia in 2012.

The maker of the game is hoping that the upcoming Angry Birds film will help bolster a plunge in revenue.

The maker of the Angry Birds franchise said Thursday that profits were down last year as new games overtook its mainstay in popularity.

Finnish developer Rovio said its 2014 revenue dropped to 158.3 million euros ($169 million) from 173.5 million euros a year earlier and profits fell 73% to 10 million euros, the Wall Street Journal reports. Merchandise sales plummeted to 41.4 million euros from 73.1 million euros.

Angry Birds, launched in 2009 at the price of $0.99, has been surpassed in popularity by free-to-download alternatives. King Digital Entertainment, the maker of Candy Crush Saga, pulled in $2.26 billion last year.

In an effort the help rejuvenate the company, Rovio is releasing an animated film, Angry Birds, in May 2016. The 3D film is being developed by Sony Pictures Imageworks, and will star Jason Sudeikis, Danny McBride, Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph and Peter Dinklage.

[Wall Street Journal]

TIME cities

Someone Is Posting Racist Stickers on Austin Storefronts

The stickers used the city’s logo, but the mayor condemned them

Stickers that say “exclusively for white people” were posted on local businesses in Austin, Texas this week.

The stickers were marked with the city logo and claimed to be “sponsored by the City of Austin,” but Mayor Steve Adler moved quickly to reject that claim and condemn them.

“This is an appalling and offensive display of ignorance in our city,” Adler said in a statement Wednesday. “Austin condemns this type of hurtful behavior. Our city is a place where respect for all people is a part of our spirit and soul.”

The city said it would monitor businesses for additional postings and would “take appropriate action” if more stickers show up.

TIME Israel

Everything You Need to Know About Israel’s Elections

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's position may be on the line Tuesday

When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for early elections in December, amid opposition within his coalition government, he was poised to comfortably win a new mandate. The three-term premier rode a wave of home support during Israel’s 50-day summer war in Gaza, and though his approval ratings had since dipped, his job appeared safe.

A lot can change in three months, let alone weeks. In early March, Bibi, as he is popularly known, addressed a joint meeting of Congress and blasted an emerging nuclear deal between Iran and the six world powers, saying it “paves Iran’s path to the bomb.” The speech left Israel divided two weeks before the vote.

When Israelis go to the polls Tuesday, Netanyahu will face an empowered opposition that threatens to displace him. Recent polling shows his conservative Likud Party trailing the Zionist Union, a hybrid of the center-left Labor and the small centrist Hatnua. Still, Netanyahu has a good shot at staying in power if he can cobble together at least 61 of the Knesset’s 120 seats and form a coalition government, but there’s no guarantee.

Here’s what you have to know about the elections.

Who’s running?

Netanyahu, 65, would become Israel’s longest-serving Prime Minister if he wins a fourth term and serves until July 2019. His campaign has largely focused on national security issues, playing into the concerns of the country’s right-wing majority. On Monday, on the eve of the vote, he withdrew his support for a two-state solution, saying a Palestinian state would provide “attack grounds to the radical Islam against the state of Israel.”

His strongest challenger is Isaac Herzog, the son of a former President, a longtime politician who leads the Labor Party. Days after Netanyahu called for the early elections, Herzog, 54, announced an alliance with Hatnua’s Tzipi Livni, formerly of Netanyahu’s cabinet, giving the combined Zionist Union a lead over Likud. The alliance’s campaign has largely skirted security issues and instead focused on domestic worries like housing shortages and the high cost of living, which surveys show high on Israelis’ list of concerns. Herzog and Livni had agreed to rotate the premiership if their Zionist Union comes out ahead but, in a sign of Herzog’s rising popularity, the leadership agreed to drop that plan and back the soft-spoken Labor leader for premier.

In a surprise move, Israel’s four Arab parties joined forces for the first time (despite a host of internal divisions). Led by Ayman Odeh, a 40-year-old lawyer from Haifa, the Joint List is poised to become the third-largest faction in the Knesset on the vote of Israel’s 1.7 million Arab citizens. Odeh has said his alliance won’t join any government, but he could tip the balance if he recommends that the President nominate Herzog to form a government.

Neither of the leading parties is polling more than 25 seats out of the 120, so the next government will largely hinge on smaller parties that might link up for a broader coalition. Look for both Netanyahu and Herzog to court Moshe Kahlon, whose centrist Kulanu party has seen a surge in support over the last month and is now polling around 10 seats. Though he was a former Netanyahu ally in Likud, Kahlon hasn’t ruled out backing the Zionist alliance.

What do the opinion polls say?

The Zionist alliance holds a slight lead over Likud, with 25 seats to Likud’s 21 (the exact numbers vary, depending on which poll you look at).

Netanyahu is losing in the opinion polls. Does that mean he’s out?

Far from it. For one, polling has been notoriously unreliable in Israel, where up to 20% of voters may still be undecided.

But the elections are also only the first step in forming the next government. Since no party will win a majority of seats (nor has one since 1949), the leading parties will likely have to compose a coalition government—that’s where the smaller parties come in. Going by the Israeli system, current President Reuven Rivlin will consult with all parties to nominate a member of the Knesset with the best chance of forming a coalition as Prime Minister.

Netanyahu appears to have a better chance at forming a government, if the current polling holds, thanks to the presumed support of the substantial bloc of right-wing and religious parties. But a Herzog government, with help from Kulanu, could also theoretically align itself with others from across the spectrum to come out ahead.

The leading parties could also conceivably come together to assemble what’s known as a National Unity government. Herzog and Netanyahu might decide to shelve their differences and participate in a shared government, rotating the premiership, as Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Shamir did from 1984 to 1988.

What if Netanyahu loses?

A Herzog-led government would likely focus on the Zionist Union’s campaign pledge to tackle the rising cost of living. While the alliance has pledged to resume talks with the Palestinians after the last round of negotiations on statehood collapsed in April, the economy would remain its priority.

What if he wins?

If Netanyahu aligns with the right-wing and religious parties to forge a fourth term, his government is expected to continue its focus on national security issues, emphasizing the rise and threat of Islamist militants along Israel’s borders, just as he did when declaring that he no longer supported a Palestinian state. Netanyahu will also face an uphill battle repairing ties with President Barack Obama after his controversial address to Congress, during which he criticized the emerging “bad deal” with Iran over its nuclear program.

So when will we know?

Israeli television will begin to broadcast exit polls after 10 p.m. local time (4 p.m. ET).

Once Rivlin nominates someone to form a government, they will have 42 days to do so before the President selects someone else to try. If he or she fails, anyone in the parliament can propose a majority coalition. In the unlikely (and unprecedented) scenario both attempts come up short, it’s back to the polls.

Read next: Netanyahu Vows No Palestinian State While He’s Prime Minister

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME intelligence

CIA Director Says ISIS Not Islamic, But ‘Psychopathic’

John Brennan
Richard Drew—AP CIA Director John Brennan addresses a meeting at the Council on Foreign Relations, in New York, Friday, March 13, 2015.

"We need to expose just how murderous and psychopathic these individuals are"

CIA Director John Brennan has defended the White House’s efforts to avoid using the word “Islamic” to describe extremist terror groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).

At a question and answer session at the Center for Foreign Relations in New York City on Friday, Brennan said using “Islamic” or “Muslim” to describe ISIS militants gives them “the type of Islamic legitimacy that they are so desperately seeking, but which they don’t deserve at all.”

“I do think it does injustice to the tenets of religion when we attach a religious moniker to them,” Brennan said.

President Barack Obama has come under fire from some conservative commentators and politicians for not identifying the extremists with the religion they claim to represent. Addressing the criticism head on at the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism last month, Obama said that those who use the religious descriptors are peddling a “lie” that helps ISIS recruit Muslims to its cause.

An estimated 20,000 foreign fighters, including several thousand from Western countries, have traveled to the region to join ISIS, which has proven adept at using social media to reach a global audience. Brennan announced last week a sweeping reorganization of the CIA that included the creation of a new “Directorate of Digital Innovation” devoted to cyber operations.

At the talk on Friday, which was hosted by CBS News’ Charlie Rose, Brennan warned that defeating ISIS’s capabilities and appeal will “take years.”

“We need to expose just how murderous and psychopathic these individuals are,” he said.

TIME Iraq

Nelly Performs in Iraq to Support Victims of ISIS

It's getting hot in Erre-bil

Correction appended, March 17

Grammy award-winning artist Nelly, whose hits like Hot in Herre and Dilemma topped charts in the early 2000s, took to a stage on Friday in Erbil, Iraq to raise support for the embattled Kurds.

Nelly performed at a charity event hosted by Rwanga, a regional humanitarian organization. Ticket sales to the performance, which coincided with an annual soccer tournament, were donated to “those impacted by the recent conflict in the area,” Rwanga said.

Kurds in northern Iraq and Syria have been on the front lines of the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, which seized large swathes of both countries and came within some 25 miles of Erbil before Kurdish forces, known as the peshmerga, helped push them back with support from U.S.-led coalition airstrikes.

The event—which also included a motocross show—drew 15,000 people.

Correction: The original version of this story, using information from the humanitarian group Rwanga, incorrectly described the history of American artists performing in Erbil. Other Americans performed there before Nelly.

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