TIME Retail

Most People Won’t Like Their Holiday Gifts, Survey Says

People carry shopping bags in New York, Nov. 14, 2014.
People carry shopping bags in New York, Nov. 14, 2014. Justin Lange—EPA

But Americans are still expected to spend some 14 hours picking them out

When struggling to feign interest in that unwanted gift this holiday season, take solace in knowing that most Americans are in the exact same position.

Almost three-quarters of Americans probably won’t like the gift they receive this holiday season, according to a survey from the Japan-based online retailer Rakuten. More than a third of respondents said they will regift unwanted gifts, another 27% will donate it to charity, and 14% will sell it.

And yet Americans are still stressing over what to buy (in fact, 45% of respondents said they find the holiday season stressful). According to the survey, they will spend an average of 14 hours shopping for gifts.

“The holiday season is a time to spend with family and loved ones,” George Chang, senior vice president at Rakuten.com, said in a statement. “Yet, we all spend too much time worrying whether we have bought the perfect gifts.”

Shopping Secrets Rakuten

TIME Smartphones

U.S. Warns Apple Users About iOS ‘Masque Attack’

Security weakness allows a hacker to replace an iOS app with malware

The U.S. government warned Apple gadget owners Thursday to look out for hackers exploiting a newly revealed vulnerability in the mobile operating system iOS.

The so-called “Masque Attack” was disclosed earlier this week by the network security firm FireEye and allows a hacker to replace an iOS app with malware, according to an alert posted on the website of the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team, which operates under the Department of Homeland Security.

MORE: How to Avoid the ‘Biggest’ iPhone Malware App Attack Yet

“This technique takes advantage of a security weakness that allows an untrusted app—with the same “bundle identifier” as that of a legitimate app—to replace the legitimate app on an affected device, while keeping all of the user’s data,” the warning states. “This vulnerability exists because iOS does not enforce matching certificates for apps with the same bundle identifier.”

The agency warns iOS users not to install apps from sources other than Apple’s official app store or their own organizations, among other precautions.

TIME Immigration

Report: Obama Set to Go It Alone on Immigration

Sara Ramirez, of Gaithersberg, Md. rallies for comprehensive immigration reform outside the White House in Washington D.C. on Nov. 7, 2014.
Sara Ramirez, of Gaithersburg, Md., rallies for comprehensive immigration reform outside the White House in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 7, 2014 Jacquelyn Martin—AP

The White House could make the move as early as next week

President Barack Obama is poised to unilaterally overhaul American immigration policy, according to several reports Thursday, in a long-anticipated move that would ignore his Republican critics and could allow up to 5 million undocumented immigrants to stay in the country.

The New York Times, citing unnamed Administration officials, reports that Obama intends as early as next week to announce plans to substantially refocus immigration enforcement involving some 12,000 agents and reduce the risk of deportation for millions of immigrants.

As many as 3.3 million parents of children who are American citizens or legal residents would be able to obtain legal work documents under the plan, the Times adds. Many immigrants with high-tech skills or who came to the U.S. as children could also be affected by the plan.

Obama has infuriated Republicans by pledging executive action on immigration if Congress does not pass a comprehensive reform bill. TIME’s Alex Altman wrote this week on the widely expected move, as well as the likely pushback from the soon-to-be Republican-controlled Congress:

The pressure on Obama to delay executive action is likely to build. Republican leaders say that skirting Congress to go it alone would ignite a controversy that jeopardizes the chances for cooperation between the President and the new GOP Congressional majority on a host of issues. “It’s like waving a red flag in front of a bull,” Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell said. Immigration will be a touchstone in confirmation hearings for Loretta Lynch, Obama’s pick for Attorney General. Tea Party conservatives in the Senate signaled they plan to use the hearings to press Lynch on her views of the President’s executive authority on immigration.

Enacting sweeping changes to immigration law just weeks after the party was rebuked by voters at the polls could spark a blowback from voters. In one recent survey, conducted by Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway, 74% of respondents said they preferred Obama to work with Congress to retool a broken immigration system rather than maneuvering around the legislative branch.

Even some seasoned Democrats seem a bit skittish about the idea. Over a sea-bass lunch Friday with congressional leaders in the Old Family Dining Room of the White House, Obama told Boehner that his patience in waiting for the House to act on immigration had run out. At that point, according to a source familiar with the meeting, Vice President Joe Biden piped up to ask how long Republicans would need to craft immigration legislation — prompting the President to shoot Biden a look that closed the discussion.

Read more at the New York Times

Read next: How Ellis Island Changed Before It Closed

TIME The Vatican

The Vatican Is Building Showers for the Homeless in Rome

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St. Peter's Basilica CEZARY ZAREBSKI PHOTOGRPAHY—Getty Images/Flickr RF

Three showers are going up near St. Peter's

The Pope traditionally washes the feet of the poor on the day before Good Friday. But now the Vatican has unveiled plans to offers bathrooms to the poor all year round.

Rome’s homeless will soon be able to shower in the shadow of St. Peter’s Basilica.

The Vatican plans to build the showers for Rome’s homeless to wash and change, the Vatican Insider, run by the Italy’s La Stampa, reports. It’s also helping ten parishes across Rome provide access to showers.

Pope Francis, TIME’s Person of the Year in 2013, has made poverty alleviation a priority, and this week he called on leaders converging in Australia for the G20 meeting to take responsibility for the “poor and marginalized.”

Read more at The Vatican Insider.

TIME Demographics

The U.S. Is No Longer the Most Popular Country in the World

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Thumbs up, Germany. Fernando Alonso Herrero—Getty Images/iStockphoto

Everyone wants to be Germany's friend now

Germany knocked the U.S. out of the top spot in an international survey measuring the popularity of countries around the world.

Germany ranked first and the United States second out of 50 countries in the annual Anholt-GfK Nation Brands Index, which polled more than 20,000 people across 20 countries. It’s the first time the U.S. hasn’t held first place since 2009.

The study measures global perceptions of countries based on a variety of attributes, including governance, culture and sports. According to a statement from GfK, the German-based market research that runs the study, Germany benefited from a boost in the “sports excellence” category after winning the 2014 World Cup.

The United States was brought down by poor perceptions in Egypt and Russia.

Russia, meanwhile, dropped more in its global perception ranking than any other of the 50 countries.

Read next: “A Little Piece of Freedom”: David Hasselhoff Remembers the Berlin Wall

TIME ebola

Liberia Lifts Ebola State of Emergency

Liberian President Sirleaf And USAID Administrator Shah Hold Press Conference
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf speaks at a press conference on October 14, 2014 in Monrovia, Liberia. She met with Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende and USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah at her office at the Liberian Foreign Ministry. Sirleaf, winner of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, has called on the international community to do more to help combat the Ebola epidemic that has killed more than 4,400 people in West Africa, according to the World Health Organization, with roughly half of that total in Liberia. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images) John Moore—Getty Images

An estimated 2,800 people have died of the disease there

The President of Liberia said she would not extend a state of emergency on Thursday, amid encouraging signs that the spread of the deadly Ebola virus there has slowed.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s announcement effectively lifts the state of emergency, which had expired earlier this month, Reuters reports.

An estimated 2,800 people have died of the disease in Liberia, the hardest hit country in an outbreak that has claimed over 5,000 lives. But the rate of increase there appears to have slowed.

“Notwithstanding these gains, a number of our compatriots are still lying in ETUs (Ebola Treatment Units), hot-spots are springing up in rural areas, and a few more of our compatriots are still dying of Ebola,” Sirleaf said.

[Reuters]

TIME Companies

GM CEO Won’t Receive Women’s Award Amid Protests

GM CEO Mary Barra Addresses Detroit Economic Club
General Motors Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra address the Detroit Economic Club October 28, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. Barra announced that GM will be investing $540 million in its plants in Michigan. $240 million of that will be invested in the company's Warren Transmission Plant, allowing them to produce the transmissions for the next-generation Chevrolet Volt in Michigan, as opposed to in Mexico. Bill Pugliano—Getty Images

The museum said it was not presenting Mary Barra with the award “at this time”

The National Women’s History Museum has agreed not to bestow an award on General Motors CEO Mary Barra amid objections over the company’s delayed recall of vehicles with a faulty ignition switch.

Barra was slated to receive the museum’s Katharine Graham Living Legacy Award at a ceremony next Monday in Washington, D.C., but GM said late Wednesday that she was no longer going, the Detroit News reports.

The museum said it was not presenting the award “at this time.”

Activists and family members of people hurt or killed in accidents involving the faulty ignitions voiced opposition to the award this week. “We believe that Barra should focus on GM’s remaining safety problems before traveling around the country to accept awards,” Peter Flaherty, the president of the National Legal Policy Center, wrote in a letter to the museum.

The faulty ignition-switch has been linked to 32 deaths and led the automaker to recall 2.59 million vehicles in February.

TIME The Vatican

Pope Francis Warns G20 of Effect of ‘Unbridled Consumerism’

Pope attends His Weekly Audience St. Peter's Square
Pope Francis speaks during his weekly audience in St. Peter's square on November 12, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. During the event, the Pope asked the clergy to be humble, urging them to be understanding towards their communities and to avoid an authoritarian attitude. Franco Origlia—Getty Images

"Responsibility for the poor and the marginalized must therefore be an essential element of any political decision"

Pope Francis warned heads of states attending the annual G20 meeting in Australia about the effects of “unbridled consumerism” and called on them to take concrete steps to alleviate unemployment.

In a letter addressed to Australia Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who is chairing this year’s G20 Leaders’ Summit which begins Sunday, the Pontiff called for its participants to consider that “many lives are at stake.”

“It would indeed be regrettable if such discussions were to remain purely on the level of declarations of principle,” Pope Francis wrote in the letter.

Pope Francis, who has made a habit of addressing the leaders of the G20 meetings, has often raised his concerns with the global economy. Last year, in lengthy report airing the views of the Vatican, he criticized the “idolatry of money” and denounced the unfettered free market as the “new tyranny.”

In the letter published Tuesday, he said that, like attacks on human rights in the Middle East, abuses in the financial system are among the “forms of aggression that are less evident but equally real and serious.”

“Responsibility for the poor and the marginalized must therefore be an essential element of any political decision, whether on the national or the international level,” he wrote.

TIME space

Comet Probe Landed Successfully, Scientists Say

After three bounces, the lander came to rest at an angle.

The European Space Agency’s Philae lander successfully landed on a comet and is sending signals backs after an early mishap, scientists said at a news conference in Germany Thursday.

The lander, dropped from the Rosetta spacecraft on Wednesday after a 4-billion mile, 10-year journey, became the first craft to make a soft landing on a comet.

But the lander initially failed to fire anchoring harpoons into the surface of the comet, which has very weak gravity, and it bounced three times before coming to an awkward stop in a still undetermined area of the comet, said Stephan Ulamec, the lander project manager.

Some instruments are up and running, but the scientists are wary of activating others because the lander is not anchored into the ground and risks rising up again, Ulamec said. Only two of the craft’s three feet are touching the ground.

Based on images relayed back, the scientists believe that the lander is partially in a shadow of a cliff, reducing the amount of solar energy that the lander can collect.

“We are in a shadow permanently, and that’s part of our problem,” said Jean-Pierre Bibring, the lead lander scientist.

TIME russia

Russia Plans to Send Bomber Patrols Toward the U.S.

Russian President Vladimir Putin seen talking to President Barack Obama during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Beijing, Nov. 11, 2014.
Russian President Vladimir Putin seen talking to President Barack Obama during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Beijing, Nov. 11, 2014. RIA Novosti/Reuters

Australia said late Wednesday it was monitoring a Russian naval fleet heading toward the country ahead of the G20 meeting

Russia said it would begin long-range bomber patrols of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean in an apparent flex of military muscle amid the worst relations with the West since the Cold War.

“In the current situation we have to maintain military presence in the western Atlantic and eastern Pacific, as well as the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico,” said Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu.

Tensions have soared since Russia annexed Crimea in March, with the West accusing it of backing pro-Russian rebels in east Ukraine. On Wednesday, NATO’s top military commander, U.S. General Philip Breedlove, said that columns of Russian tanks and troops were crossing the border into Ukraine, which Russia denied.

A report earlier this week identified nearly 40 incidents involving Russian forces in a “standoff” with the West, including allegedly sending a submarine into Swedish waters.

Late Wednesday, Australia said it was monitoring a Russian naval fleet in international waters heading toward the country ahead of the G20 meeting that begins on Nov. 15.

Read next: Top U.S. Envoy Says Russia Is Brazenly Violating Peace Process in Ukraine

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