TIME Aging

Famed Scientist Oliver Sacks Reveals He Has Terminal Cancer in Soulful Op-Ed

The Music Has Power Awards Benefit
Brad Barket—Getty Images Dr. Oliver Sacks speaks at the Music Has Power Awards Benefit in the Allen Room at the Frederick P. Rose Hall, Home of Jazz at Lincoln Center on Nov. 6, 2006 in New York City.

The neurologist and author writes in the New York Times that he feels "intensely alive" in the face of death

Oliver Sacks, one of the leading public intellectuals of the last half-century, says terminal cancer of the liver has left him with only months to live.

Sacks, a neurologist and author of books like Awakenings and The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat, revealed his condition in an article about facing death that was published in the New York Times on Thursday.

“It is up to me now to choose how to live out the months that remain to me,” Sacks, 81, writes in the Times. “I have to live in the richest, deepest, most productive way I can.”

He says he will shun politics and nightly news to focus instead on himself, his friends, and his work–an autobiography is set to come out in the spring, and he says he has “several” other books in the works. He writes:

This is not indifference but detachment — I still care deeply about the Middle East, about global warming, about growing inequality, but these are no longer my business; they belong to the future. I rejoice when I meet gifted young people — even the one who biopsied and diagnosed my metastases. I feel the future is in good hands.

I have been increasingly conscious, for the last 10 years or so, of deaths among my contemporaries. My generation is on the way out, and each death I have felt as an abruption, a tearing away of part of myself. There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate — the genetic and neural fate — of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.

Born in the U.K., Sacks has spent most of his career in the United States, where his prolific writing has blended science and literature to best-selling success. Outside of work, he’s been nearly as active. A one-time weightlifting champion with a stint riding with Hell’s Angel’s—according to a 1995 profile in TIME—he says he still swims a mile a day.

The removal of a tumor in his eye left him blind in one eye nine years ago and led to his 2010 book ‘The Mind’s Eye’ that deals in part with his experience with cancer and his inability to recognize faces. But the tumor metastasized, and the author now says the cancer’s spread cannot be stopped.

“I feel intensely alive, and I want and hope in the time that remains to deepen my friendships, to say farewell to those I love, to write more, to travel if I have the strength, to achieve new levels of understanding and insight,” he writes.

Read Oliver Sacks’s story in the New York Times.

Read next: The Secret of Abraham Lincoln’s Success as a Writer?

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TIME United Kingdom

Watch Prince William Wish China a Happy New Year in Mandarin

The Duke of Cambridge will visit China in March

Prince William gave his best wishes for the Chinese New Year in Mandarin in a video broadcast on Chinese television

After a brief greeting, the British Prince concluded his message in Mandarin. “I wish you a happy Chinese New Year and good luck in the Year of the Sheep,” he says, according to a Xinhua translation.

The Duke of Cambridge will arrive in Beijing on March 1 to launch a cultural exchange program as the two countries aim to mend ties that were upset in 2012 after Prime Minister David Cameron met with the exiled Dalai Lama. Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to visit Britain later this year.

TIME Food & Drink

This Caviar May Be the Most Expensive Food in the World

At $114,000 a kilo, this dish is not for everyone

A fish farmer in Austria is offering a caviar dish that he says is worth $114,000 per kilo.

The white caviar “Strottarga Bianco” concoction includes rare albino sturgeon dried roe sprinkled with gold leaf, according to the website for Walter Gruell’s fish farm. The dish is only available on customer order.

“It is certainly not a product for everyone, but there is definitely a market for extremely exclusive products especially when they are something new,” said Gruell’s son Patrick, who helped develop the caviar, according to Yahoo News.

According to the Guinness World Records, the most expensive food on record is also a caviar: Almas, from the Iranian Beluga fish, sells for roughly $35,000 per kilogram.

TIME Ukraine

Scenes From Eastern Ukraine Show Cease-Fire in Shreds

Twenty-two soldiers were killed in the last few days before Ukrainian troops pulled out of the town of Debaltseve

Ukrainian troops pulled out of the besieged town of Debaltseve on Wednesday as pro-Russian rebels advanced despite a cease-fire agreed upon last week.

The strategic town was the site of intense bombardment by rebel forces, and clashes left at least 22 Ukrainian soldiers dead in the past few days, according to Reuters. On Wednesday, President Petro Poroshenko announced the withdrawal of some 2,000 government troops, casting the move in a positive light as the end of an operation in the town.

The images above reveal the devastation that the fighting has wrought on troops and the local community around Debaltseve. The clashes have continued even after Russian President Vladimir Putin negotiated a cease-fire with Germany and France last week in Belarus.

 

TIME weather

Boston’s Public Transit Won’t See Full Service for 30 Days

Pedestrians walk along snow covered, MBTA subway rails on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston
Brian Snyder—Reuters Pedestrians walk along snow covered, MBTA subway rails on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, Massachusetts following a winter storm on Feb. 15, 2015.

“This last round really crippled our infrastructure and our vehicle fleet"

Record-setting snowfall has so disrupted Boston’s main public transportation system that it may need a month to return to full service, the MBTA said Monday.

“As long as we don’t get hit with another storm like the last one, it will be back in 30 days,” Beverly Scott, general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, said at a news conference, according to the Boston Globe. Scott cautioned it may take even longer if another major storm hits.

“This last round really crippled our infrastructure and our vehicle fleet,” she added. “It created operational challenges and created severe damage which will take time to recover from.”

A series of winter storms have made February the snowiest month in Boston’s recorded history and workers have been struggling to clear snow and ice from the rail system, known as the “T.” Scott said areas that have been hit particularly hard in the storms, and lines that are most used by commuters, are being initially targeted for cleanup.

[Boston Globe]

TIME Transportation

False Alarm Sends Panicked Passengers Onto LAX Tarmac

It's not clear how the rumor ended up on the public address system

About 20 people fled onto the tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport on Monday after an announcement mistakenly warned of a gunman on the loose.

The false alarm appeared to be linked to an incident outside Terminal 2, where police responding to a possible suicide attempt detained an unarmed man, according to the Associated Press. LAX Police Sgt. Belinda Joseph said he was apprehended and taken to a hospital, but “someone said that there was a man with a gun, which was not true.”

Passengers waiting to board exited the terminal onto the tarmac through emergency doors, but police say they remained “under observation” while near the planes. The incident was over in about 15 minutes.

[AP]

TIME Egypt

The Real Reason Egypt Is Buying Fighter Jets From France

Dubai Air Show
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images A Rafale fighter jet aircraft, manufactured by Dassault Aviation SA, is seen performing an aerial display during the 13th Dubai Airshow at Dubai World Central (DWC) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on Monday, Nov. 18, 2013.

It has nothing to do with France, and everything to do with the United States

Correction appended Feb. 15, 2015

After twenty years of searching, France has finally found a buyer for its Rafale fighter jet. President Francois Hollande announced on Thursday that Egypt will buy 24 aircraft as part of a deal reportedly valued at 5.2 billion euros ($5.9 billion), and his Defense Minister is heading to Cairo on Monday to sign the agreement.

France has been flying its domestically built Rafale jet since 2006, putting it to the test over countries like Afghanistan, Libya, Mali and most recently in the U.S.-led airstrikes on ISIS. But manufacturer Dassault Aviation has struggled to sell it abroad. Deals with Brazil, Libya, Morocco and Switzerland have all fallen through, and negotiations with India and Qatar are ongoing.

Then came Egypt. Hollande said in a statement that Egypt was seeking “aircraft quickly, due to the threats that it faces.” He added, “I believe that, given the current context, it’s very important that Egypt is able to act to uphold stability and to be in security.”

Still, budget-strapped Egypt may appear to be a surprising buyer for the French fighter jet. It already has the largest air force in Africa, and the Rafale, one of the most sophisticated fighter jets on the market, is unlikely to significantly boost its capabilities to combat insurgencies on the ground.

Egypt’s purchase may instead be aimed at diversifying its supply, experts say. The military has traditionally been one of America’s most dependable arms customers thanks to roughly $1 billion in U.S. annual aid that Egypt is largely required to spend on American gear. But Washington suspended aid after the military ousted democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi in 2013 and cracked down on Muslim Brotherhood supporters.

While U.S. aid has been restored, relations have soured. Earlier this week, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, who led the military takeover, hosted Russian President Vladimir Putin in Cairo and agreed on a joint plan to build Egypt’s first nuclear power plant. By opting for French military hardware, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi is again demonstrating that his government doesn’t rely exclusively on the U.S. “Egypt has been so dependent on the U.S. that it is beginning to try to find some kind of contingency arrangement so that it can’t be levered by Congressional pressure to change their policies on dealing with dissidents,” says Anthony Cordesman, Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “You’re sending a message.”

To be sure, Egypt faces security threats on multiple fronts. In the restive Sinai peninsula, Islamist insurgents who have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria have launched repeated deadly attacks on the military and oil facilities. On its Western border, a power vacuum in Libya since the 2011 ouster of Muammar Gaddafi (thanks in part to French Rafale airstrikes) has given Islamist groups a foothold. Highlighting why Sisi sees them as a threat, a Libyan group with ties to the ISIS kidnapped 21 Coptic Egyptian last month.

But Egypt does not need the Rafale to confront those threats, experts say. The air force already has as many as 230 F-16 fighter jets, Robert Springborg, a professor at France’s Science Po and expert on the Egyptian military, told Le Monde newspaper. The problem is not the lack of planes but the lack of sufficiently trained pilots, he says. And in the Sinai, in particular, American-provided Apache helicopters will be more effective than jets against the insurgency. “One thing is very clear,” says Cordesman. “On the basis of national priorities there is no military urgency to buy more combat aircraft.”

The Egyptian economy, meanwhile, has still not recovered from the tumult that followed the Arab Spring protests that ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Sisi’s government has been bolstered largely by some $12 billion in aid from the oil-rich Gulf nations. Thirteen percent of the country is still unemployed, including more than half of the population under 25. The IMF projects that growth will reach 3.8 percent this fiscal year, a step in the right direction, but still well below its average five percent clip ahead of the 2011 protests.

But France has been “desperate” to sell the Rafale after twenty years, Cordesman says. While Egyptian media has reported that Gulf states have funded recent Egyptian military deals, French banks will put up financing for more than half of the purchase price. And though it’s unclear what Egypt is paying per plane, Cordesman says it’s likely that France is already providing a steep discount to Egypt to notch the first sale as it negotiates a much larger order of 126 planes with India. “My guess is that they’re not paying list, or anything like it,” he says.

The original version of this story misidentified the speaker of quotations about Egypt purchasing the Rafale jet from France. It was Anthony Cordesman.

TIME Pakistan

Witness the Aftermath of the Terror Attack on a Shi’ite Peshawar Mosque

At least 19 people were killed in the latest sectarian attack in Pakistan

The terror-worn city of Peshawar was struck by a new terror attack targeting a Shi’ite mosque on Friday that left at least 19 people dead.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, according to Reuters, saying it was in revenge for the government’s crackdown on Islamist militants in the wake of the Dec. 16 assault on a Peshawar school that killed more than 150 people, mostly students. The Taliban, who have also claimed responsibility for the assault on the school, threatened more “revenge attacks” in a video sent to reporters, according to Reuters.

On Friday, five or six gunmen wearing military uniforms broke into the mosque as Friday prayers finished and opened fire, a witness told Reuters. Three explosions were heard during the attack.

The Pakistani government pledged to combat Islamist groups in the wake of the school attacks, but minority groups throughout the country say they still feel insecure. An attack last month on a Shi’ite mosque in Shikarpur killed more than 60 people.

TIME Yemen

U.N. Chief Warns Yemen ‘Collapsing’ as al-Qaeda Group Makes Gains

APTOPIX Mideast Yemen
Anees Mahyoub—AP Protesters in Taiz, Yemen, on Feb. 11, 2015, shout slogans against Houthi Shi‘ite who have seized power in the country's capital, Sana‘a

Secretary general Ban Ki-moon issued the warning after rebel faction effectively ousted the Yemeni government

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned the U.N. Security Council on Thursday that Yemen was “collapsing before our eyes,” as a powerful al-Qaeda affiliate took advantage of the power vacuum in the country’s capital to seize a Yemeni army facility.

Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest nation, has been rocked by sectarian and political violence that came to a head last week, when the Houthi rebels that recently toppled the country’s President dissolved parliament.

On Wednesday, thousands of people in Sana‘a, the capital, protested the effective coup by the predominantly Shi‘ite group, and the U.S., Britain and France all closed their embassies amid security concerns.

As if to highlight the potential for turmoil, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the powerful al-Qaeda branch that controls large swaths of territory in the southeast, said Thursday that they had seized the headquarters of a Yemeni army brigade, the New York Times reports. While the Houthis are strongly opposed to the Sunni extremist group, the rudderless government in Sana‘a has risked empowering AQAP.

“Let me be clear,” Ban said. “Yemen is collapsing before our eyes. We cannot stand by and watch.”

The Houthi movement, which overran Sana‘a in September, had been overseeing talks among various factions to form a new government since the group’s aggression prompted President Abdel Rabbo Mansour Hadi to resign last month. But the group disbanded the government on Feb. 6.

Ban called for Security Council members to de-escalate tensions and return the factions to the negotiating table. “We must do everything possible to help Yemen step back from the brink and get the political process back on track,” he said.

TIME isis

ISIS Magazine Claims to Interview Paris Gunman’s Wife

Suspect's Wanted In Connection With Paris Terrorist Attacks
Getty Images Hayat Boumeddiene pictured in this handout provided by the Direction Centrale de la Police Judiciaire on January 9.

A magazine run by the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) says the widow of the gunman who attacked a Jewish kosher grocery in Paris last month is now living in territory under its control.

The magazine put out by ISIS in both French and English includes a purported interview with Hayat Boumeddiene, the widow of Amedy Coulibaly, who was killed in the attack that left four others dead.

The interview marks the first time the group has officially said that Boumeddiene is in its territory, though neither the claim or the veracity of the interview has been independently confirmed.

After the Jan. 9 attack, France launched a search for Boumeddiene and described her as armed and dangerous, before Turkish officials said she had entered Turkey days earlier and crossed into Syria on Jan. 8.

In the interview, which identifies the interviewee as Coulibaly’s wife without giving her name, she praises life under ISIS, saying, “It is good to live in the land that is governed by the laws of God.”

She also gives advice for Muslim women and says that Coulibaly was intent on joining ISIS when it proclaimed a Caliphate.

The magazine, Dar al-Islam, says it is the second edition and began circulating online on Wednesday. Its cover features an image of the Eiffel Tower and the words, “May Allah Curse France.”

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