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.

TIME climate change

Global Carbon Emissions Flatlined in 2014 Even as Economy Grew

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Hans-Peter Merten—Getty Images coal power plant at dusk

In an encouraging sign, levels of the leading greenhouse gas were unchanged in 2014

Global carbon emissions did not increase in 2014, marking the first time on record that carbon levels have not grown without a concurrent decline in global demand.

Carbon dioxide emissions last year remained at 32.3 billion metric tons, the same as a year earlier, even as the global economy grew by 3 percent, according to a news release by the International Energy Agency (IEA) published Friday. Since the IEA began tracking carbon dioxide emissions 40 years ago, the rise has been halted or reversed only three times: in the early 1980s amid the oil price shock, in 1992 in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union, and in 2009 during the global financial crisis.

“This gives me even more hope that humankind will be able to work together to combat climate change, the most important threat facing us today,” Fatih Birol, the chief economist and next executive director of the IEA, said in a statement.

The IAE attributed part of the halt in emissions growth to China, the world’s largest carbon polluter, where the growing use of renewable sources like hydropower and solar energy have helped reduce the country’s reliance on coal. In a deal with the United States in November, China pledged to stop emission growth by 2030.

The news is an encouraging sign for the global effort to combat climate change ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris at the end of this year, which aims to establish a global pact on emissions.

TIME faith

Pope Francis Says His Tenure May Last Less Than 5 Years

Pope Francis arrives to lead a mass during his pastoral visit to the parish of Santa Maria Madre del Redentore in Rome
Alessandro Bianchi—Reuters Pope Francis arrives to lead a mass during his pastoral visit to the parish of Santa Maria Madre del Redentore in Rome on March 8, 2015.

"I feel that the Lord has placed me here for a short time, and nothing more"

Pope Francis, who was named pontiff two years ago on Friday, said he doesn’t expect to be Pope much longer.

In an interview with the Mexican broadcaster Televisa published Friday, the Argentine Pope predicted a “brief” tenure for himself. “I have the feeling that my pontificate will be brief: four or five years; I do not know, even two or three,” Pope Francis, 78, said. “Two have already passed. It is a somewhat vague sensation.”

“Maybe it’s like the psychology of the gambler who convinces himself he will lose so he won’t be disappointed and if he wins, is happy. I do not know. But I feel that the Lord has placed me here for a short time, and nothing more … But it is a feeling. I always leave the possibility open,” he said.

The papal post is traditionally held until death, though Francis’s predecessor Pope Benedict XVI resigned in 2013 after roughly seven years in office, becoming the first pope to step down in nearly 600 years. The current Pope has suggested in the past that he would lead a short papacy and he has not ruled out retiring.

In the interview released Friday, Francis said he does not dislike being Pope, but said one thing in particular does bug him. “The one thing that I would like is to go out, without anyone recognizing me, and go to a pizzeria to eat pizza,” Francis said.

Read an English translation of the interview here.

TIME China

Dalai Lama and China in Spat Over Reincarnation

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Alison Wright—Getty Images/Photo Researchers RM Dalai Lama

The aging spiritual leader's suggestion he may not be reincarnated wasn't taken lightly by Beijing

An ideological spat between the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government spilled over into very public denunciations this week.

The 14th Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet for exile in 1959, says China does not have the right to choose his successor—contrary to government claims—and that in fact he might not be reborn at all, the New York Times reports. That would end a centuries-old tradition of selecting a successor that holds the soul of the spiritual leader is reincarnated in the body of a child.

On Monday, the autonomous region’s Chinese-appointed governor, Padma Choling, accused the 79-year-old Dalai Lama of blasphemy for suggesting as much and reiterated that Beijing has the right to choose. The Nobel Laureate’s allies fired back the next day, saying that China choosing his successor is akin to Cuban leader Fidel Castro choosing the Pope.

“It’s none of Padma Choling or any of the Communist party’s business, mainly because Communism believes in atheism and religion being poisonous,” Lobsang Sangay, prime minister of the Tibetan government in exile, told Reuters on Tuesday, the 56th anniversary of the failed uprising against Chinese Communist rule that prompted the Dalai Lama to flee.

Read more at the New York Times

TIME

Ferguson Shooter Is a ‘Damn Punk,’ Eric Holder Says

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder delivers remarks about the shooting of two police officers in Ferguson, Missouri, while announcing the first six pilot sites for the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice at the Department of Justice March 12, 2015 in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder delivers remarks about the shooting of two police officers in Ferguson, Mo., while announcing the first six pilot sites for the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., on March 12, 2015

The Attorney General offered the Justice Department's support in the manhunt for the shooter of two Ferguson police officers

The gunman who wounded two police officers in Ferguson, Mo., is a “damn punk,” Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday.

The two officers were shot early Thursday morning at a protest in front of the Ferguson Police Department after the Ferguson police chief announced his resignation in the wake of a excoriating Department of Justice report that found widespread racial bias among the city’s police. The shooter was still at large as of Thursday afternoon.

“This was not someone trying to bring healing to Ferguson,” Holder said at a gathering for the Justice Department’s launch of a pilot program to build trust between law enforcement and local communities. “This was a damn punk who was trying to sow discord in an area that’s trying to get its act together and trying to bring together a community that has been fractured for too long.”

The Attorney General reiterated a statement he released earlier in the day condemning the “heinous attack” and offering the support of the Justice Department and the FBI.

He also said that local law enforcement in Ferguson has made “good faith steps” since the release of the Justice Department report last week.

“But make no mistake, we still have a long way to go to bring about this systemic change that is needed and that is long overdue in that area,” he said. “But I think the earlier indications have truly been positive.”

Read next: The Road from Selma to Ferguson

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME celebrities

Liam Neeson Says He is Quitting Action Movies in 2 Years

"Non Stop" - Photocall
Karwai Tang—WireImage Liam Neeson attends a photocall for the film "Non Stop" at The Dorchester on January 30, 2014 in London, England.

The Taken star says he's nearly ready to shift gears

The action film stalwart Liam Neeson says he plans to stop performing in action roles in the near future.

“Maybe two more years. If God spares me and I’m healthy,” he said in an interview with The Guardian.

Neeson, who broke out with his role in the 1993 Steven Spielberg film Schindler’s List, has more recently performed in a spate of action or thriller films such as the hit 2008 film Taken, The Grey (2011), and most recently Run All Night, which comes out on Friday.

“I get sent quite a few action-oriented scripts, which is great,” Neeson, 62, told The Guardian. “I’m not knocking it. It’s very flattering. But there is a limit, of course.”

[The Guardian]

TIME Crime

Ferguson Police Hunt for Suspects in Shooting of 2 Cops

Police searched for suspects as the injured officers were released from the hospital

Police in Ferguson took people into custody for questioning after surrounding a local home Thursday morning, as they searched for suspects in the shooting of two police officers that rocked the Missouri town anew months after protests began over the shooting of an unarmed black teenager.

Television footage showed police surrounding a house at about 11 a.m. local time, following a shooting the St. Louis police chief characterized as “an ambush.” People were removed from the house by police, authorities confirmed, but no one had been arrested shortly after noon.

“People have been taken in for questioning,” said Brian Schellman, a St. Louis County Police spokesperson. “I cannot say how many at this point because I don’t know. Waiting to be briefed by detectives once they are done at the scene.”

The two injured officers—a 41-year-old from St. Louis County who was shot in the shoulder and a 32-year-old from nearby Webster Groves who was shot in the face—were released from the hospital on Thursday morning, hours after they were shot.

About 150 protesters had gathered in front of the police station on Wednesday after the Ferguson police chief announced his resignation in the wake of a excoriating Department of Justice report that found widespread racial bias among the city’s police. As the crowd began to dwindle around midnight, the shots rang out.

“This is really an ambush, is what it is,” St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said at a news conference on Thursday.

Police say that three or four shots were fired at the line of police from about 125 yards away. An investigation is ongoing.

“We’re lucky, by god’s grace we didn’t lose two officers last night,” said Belmar, who added that police drew their weapons but did not fire back.

MORE: How to Rebuild the Ferguson Police Department

The protest recalled months of sometimes violent demonstrations, which began after a police officer shot 18-year-old Michael Brown in August and that resurged after a grand jury declined to indict the officer, Darren Wilson, in November. While gunshots were heard during some of those protests, no police officers were shot.

“It’s a miracle that we haven’t had any instances similar to this over the summer and fall,” Belmar said.

Responding to the shooting on Thursday, Attorney General Eric Holder issued a statement in support of the local law enforcement after the “heinous assault.”

“Such senseless acts of violence threaten the very reforms that nonviolent protesters in Ferguson and around the country have been working towards for the past several months,” Holder said. “We stand ready to offer any possible aid to an investigation into this incident, including the department’s full range of investigative resources.”

Brown’s family released a statement condemning the shooting.

“We reject any kind of violence directed toward members of law enforcement. It cannot and will not be tolerated,” the statement said.

“We specifically denounce the actions of stand-alone agitators who unsuccessfully attempt to derail the otherwise peaceful and non-violent movement that has emerged throughout this nation to confront police brutality and to forward the cause of equality under the law for all. We must work together to bring peace to our communities.”

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