TIME russia

Russia Is Closing McDonald’s Restaurants Over Health Violations

The oldest of Moscow's McDonald's outlets, which was opened on Jan. 31, 1990, is closed on Thursday, Aug. 21.
The oldest of Moscow's McDonald's outlets, which was opened on Jan. 31, 1990, is closed on Thursday, Aug. 21. Alexander Zemlianichenko—AP

But the crackdown comes amid tit-for-tat sanctions between Russia and the West

Russian regulators are targeting McDonald’s restaurants in a crackdown that authorities say is a matter of food safety.

But the closure of several Russian McDonald’s restaurants and unscheduled checks of several others comes on the heels of tit-for-tat sanctions between Russia and Western countries over the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Earlier this month, Russian authorities banned a wide array of food imports from the United States, the European Union and several other countries after Western powers enacted economic sanctions against Moscow.

According to Reuters, the Russian state food safety agency temporarily shuttered four restaurants on Wednesday, including the world’s busiest McDonald’s store in Moscow’s Pushkin Square, citing breaches of sanitary rules. On Thursday, the agency said it was conducting checks on other outlets across the country.

The agency has denied that its actions are politically motivated, according to Reuters.

“We are aware of what is going on. We have always been and are now open to any checks,” a spokesperson for McDonald’s in Russia told Reuters. The chain operates 438 restaurants in the country.

[Reuters]

TIME Companies

Get Ready, SoundCloud Users: Ads Are Coming

Lorde performs during Lollapalooza 2014 at Grant Park on Aug. 1, 2014 in Chicago.
Lorde performs during Lollapalooza 2014 at Grant Park on Aug. 1, 2014 in Chicago. Theo Wargo—Getty Images

But you may soon be able to skip the ads by paying for a subscription

SoundCloud, the popular free music-sharing platform that’s helped artists like Lorde skyrocket to fame, is introducing advertisements to its service.

The company said Thursday that select content creators will be able to authorize playing ads beside their tracks and collect some of the revenue from those ads. The ads will first roll out in the U.S., but they’re expected to appear for international users soon, SoundCloud announced.

Ads mark a big step for the music streaming service, which has struggled to monetize its vast user base that includes some 175 million listeners a month. Until now, the service has earned revenue by charging some of its most active content providers.

SoundCloud Chief Business Officer Jeff Toig told the New York Times that most of SoundCloud’s ad revenue will go to content providers, including Sony/ATV, BMG, the comedy show Funny or Die, and independent rapper GoldLink, for example. SoundCloud has already signed up Red Bull, Jaguar and Comedy Central to run ads on the platform, according to the Times.

But you may soon be able to skip the ads, if you’re willing to pay. The Times reports that, over time, the service plans to roll out subscription plans for listeners who want to skip the ads, much like you can do on Spotify, another music-streaming service.

TIME Middle East

Iraq’s Embattled Prime Minister Agrees to Step Down

Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Baghdad, Iraq on December 3, 2011.
Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in Baghdad on Dec. 3, 2011 Hadi Mizban—AP

A successor had been nominated earlier this week

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said on Thursday evening that he would support the man nominated to replace him and step down, according to a report that cited state television, marking an apparent end to weeks of political uncertainty that threatened to consume the country as it battles extremists in the north.

The Associated Press reports Maliki announced in a televised address that he was leaving the post with an aim to preserve Iraq’s “unity” and had withdrawn his legal complaint against his replacement’s nomination, paving the way for Haider al-Abadi to assume the role and form an inclusive government. Al-Maliki had initially remained defiant after Iraqi President Fouad Massoum tapped al-Abadi to succeed him earlier in the week, insisting he deserved a third term, raising the specter that he would use his entrenched Shi‘ite supporters to forcefully oppose the move.

He planned to pursue his bid in the courts to retain power as recently as Wednesday, but was coming under growing pressure to relent, including from other Shi‘ite leaders and from the U.S. For weeks, al-Maliki has come under fire for failing to stem the incursion of Islamist militants from over the border with Syria. The Sunni extremists, known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, have seized a large swath of northern Iraq with such fury that the U.S. was compelled to intervene with targeted air strikes and humanitarian aid drops for a threatened Yezidi minority.

The U.S. has pushed for a more inclusive government amid criticism that al-Maliki had marginalized Iraq’s Sunni population and opened the door for the militants’ lightning offensive that began in mid-June.

TIME Crime

Missouri Gov. Pulls County Police From Ferguson Amid Criticism of Tactics

Outrage In Missouri Town After Police Shooting Of 18-Yr-Old Man
Police stand watch as demonstrators protest the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. on Aug. 13, 2014. Scott Olson—Getty Images

Missouri Highway Patrol will be the lead force securing the city

Updated 4:36p.m. E.T.

St. Louis County police will turn over responsibility for security in Ferguson to the state highway patrol, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon announced Thursday, in a law enforcement shift for a town where anger over the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager has sparked violent protests.

In a press conference after days of clashes between police and protestors, Nixon said the Missouri Highway Patrol will be the lead force securing the city. “Today is the day that we renew our commitment to bring peace to the families of Ferguson,” he said. “Operationally the patrol will be the lead agency when it comes to security.”

The plan, he said, would be “to move forward people and to move back a little equipment”

The announcement was first revealed by Missouri Democratic Rep. William Lacy Clay, who spoke to Nixon earlier Thursday. Clay’s office confirmed a Bloomberg report that Nixon told Clay he would be pulling the county police force from the town.

Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, an area resident who will lead the police effort, promised a more respectful environment Thursday. “I understand the anger and fear that the citizens of Ferguson are feeling and our officers with respect both of those,” he said.

At the press conference, Nixon said he hoped that police would present a “softer front” on Thursday night. The town has “looked a little bit more like a war zone, and it’s not acceptable,” he said. On Thursday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that local forces had accepted Department of Justice resources to help defuse the situation.

The move comes with the heavily equipped police force coming under growing scrutiny under scrutiny for its tactics, which have included the use of tear gas, stun grenades, and smoke bombs. At least 40 people have been arrested since protests broke out after the shooting death of Michael Brown on Saturday, including two journalists on Wednesday who were temporarily detained.

Brown, 18, was shot dead on Saturday, prompting the racially charged demonstrations in the majority black suburb of St. Louis, where the police force is nearly all white. Authorities say Brown was shot in a struggle for an officer’s gun, but some witnesses have said Brown had his hands in the air. Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson told reporters Wednesday that the officer who shot Brown had been struck in the cheek during the incident and taken to hospital.

President Barack Obama also addressed the situation Thursday afternoon, saying there was “no excuse” for violence against police or protestors. But at least one lawmaker called for him to take forceful action. “President Obama should use authority of his office to declare martial law,” Georgia Democratic Rep. John Lewis said on MSNBC.

Authorities have so far refused to identify the officer involved in the shooting death of Brown, citing the officer’s safety. But the decision has fueled anger among the demonstrators. On Wednesday, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch told the St. Louis Post Dispatch that details from the investigation would not emerge for weeks.

-Additional reporting by Alex Rogers and Zeke J Miller

TIME russia

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s Twitter Was Hacked

Russia's prime minister Dmitry Medvedev holds a meeting with deputy PMs at the House of the Russian Government, Aug 11, 20014.
Russia's prime minister Dmitry Medvedev holds a meeting with deputy PMs at the House of the Russian Government, Aug 11, 20014. Dmitry Astakhov—Itar-Tass/Corbis

No, he's not resigning to become a freelance photographer

The press office for Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev denied that he was stepping down Thursday after his Twitter account was apparently hacked, Bloomberg reports.

“The Twitter account of the prime minister was hacked and the recent posts about his resignation and plans to become a freelance photographer are false,” an unnamed government press official told Bloomberg.

On Thursday morning, a tweet from Medvedev’s account said: “I’m quitting. Ashamed of the government’s actions. Forgive me.”

That post, which has since been taken down along with others posted on Thursday, reflected a similar post made by Deputy Economy Minister Sergei Belyakov, who was fired last week after criticizing the government, according to Bloomberg.

Another post, according to the Moscow Times, read: “I’m going to become a freelance photographer!”

Still another took aim at Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is engaged in a showdown with the West over Ukraine and is largely seen as holding the reins of power in Russia. Using Putin’s nickname, the tweet said: “I wanted to say this long ago: Vova, you aren’t right.”

[Bloomberg]

TIME Companies

These 2 Harmful Chemicals Will No Longer Be Used to Assemble Your iPhone

Activist groups called for the ban earlier this year.

Apple said Wednesday that its factories would no longer use two chemicals that are potentially hazardous to workers in the assembly of iPhones and iPads.

On the heels of a petition earlier this year by two activist groups, Apple moved to ban benzene and n-hexane from final production, the Associated Press reports. Some 500,000 people work on final production at more than 20 factories, primarily in China but also in Brazil, Ireland, Texas and California. The California-based company also lowered the maximum amount of the chemicals that can be present during earlier production phases, which occurs across hundreds of other factories.

The company said that a four-month investigation found no evidence that those workers were at risk from the chemicals, which are often found in solvents used to clean machinery. Benzene, which is also found in gasoline, paints and detergents, is believed to be a carcinogen and n-hexane has been linked to nerve damage, according to the AP.

“We think it’s really important that we show some leadership and really look toward the future by trying to use greener chemistries,” Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environmental initiatives, told the AP.

[AP]

TIME Crime

Violence Worsens in Ferguson on 4th Night of Clashes

Authorities are still refusing to identify the officer involved in shooting of Michael Brown

Demonstrations over the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager continued for a fourth night in Ferguson, Mo., on Wednesday, as protesters clashed with police and 10 people were arrested.

Scores of police officers in riot gear attempted to disperse more than 300 protesters, with police firing tear gas, stun grenades and smoke bombs, Reuters reports. Demonstrators threw rocks and petrol bombs toward the officers, police said.

Authorities have so far refused to identify the officer involved in the shooting death of Michael Brown last weekend, citing the officer’s safety. But the decision has fueled anger among the demonstrators. On Wednesday, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch told the St. Louis Post Dispatch that details from the investigation would not emerge for weeks.

Brown, 18, was shot dead on Saturday, prompting the racially charged demonstrations in the majority black suburb of St. Louis, where the police force is nearly all white. Authorities say Brown was shot in a struggle for a gun, while some witnesses claimed Brown had his hands in the air. Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson told reporters Wednesday that the officer who shot Brown had been struck in the cheek during the incident and taken to hospital.

Gov. Jay Nixon urged “patience and calm” in a statement on Wednesday and said that he will visit the area on Thursday.

“The worsening situation in Ferguson is deeply troubling, and does not represent who we are as Missourians or as Americans,” he said in the statement. “While we all respect the solemn responsibility of our law enforcement officers to protect the public, we must also safeguard the rights of Missourians to peaceably assemble and the rights of the press to report on matters of public concern.”

Some 40 people have been arrested since Saturday, according to Reuters, and authorities have asked protesters not to demonstrate in the evenings. On Wednesday night, St. Louis Alderman Antonio French and two journalists, Wesley Lowery of the Washington Post and Ryan Reilly of the Huffington Post, were among those detained.

[Reuters]

TIME Gaza

Hamas Says It Will Continue Fight After Ceasefire

An armed Hamas militant walks through a street in the Shejaiya neighborhood of Gaza City on July 20, 2014.
An armed Hamas militant walks through a street in the Shejaiya neighborhood of Gaza City on July 20, 2014. Wissam Nassar—The New York Times/Redux

“We are ready for a long war”

Hamas reiterated late Thursday that it plans to continue fighting after a temporary cease-fire ends Friday morning, if its demands are not met.

“The resistance is ready to pay the price and the people are behind the resistance,” Abu Obaida, a spokesman for the military wing of Hamas, said on Hamas-run television, CNN reports. “We are ready for a long war.”

Earlier Thursday, Hamas held a public rally in Gaza City and a top Hamas official, Mushir al-Masri, declared to the crowd that Hamas would continue to fight until the seven-year-old blockade on Gaza by Israel and Egypt is lifted, the Associated Press reports.

A three-day truce mediated by Egypt has largely quieted the three-week-long conflict that killed more than 1,860 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and 64 Israeli soldiers and three civilians in Israel. The truce is scheduled to end Friday at 8 a.m. local time, though representatives of Hamas and other Palestinian factions are in Cairo indirectly negotiating with Israel for a permanent ceasefire.

But hours before the ceasefire is set to end, talks have faltered, with Hamas demanding an end to the blockade and Israel saying the militants must first disarm, a condition Hamas has so far rejected.

[CNN]

TIME Companies

Vizio Recalls 245,000 TVs at Risk of Tipping Over

Regulators say the unsturdy TV runs a "risk of impact injury to the consumer"

The U.S. consumer electronics company Vizio issued a recall for some 245,000 television sets that are at risk of tipping over and injuring someone, according to a federal regulator.

The recall applies to all VIZIO E-Series 39-inch and 42-inch TVs, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said Wednesday. According to the announcement, the stand assembly can fail and lead the TV, which retails at between $370 to $450, to tip over, “posing a risk of impact injury to the consumer.”

Owners who use the stand should immediately detach the television from the stand, and owners who mount their televisions on the wall are still recommended to request a replacement stand because, the regulators say quite reasonably, they may decide to use the stand in the future.

 

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