TIME China

The U.K. Has Refused Chinese Dissident Artist Ai Weiwei a Long-Term Visa

Ai Weiwei - Visit from Germany
Peter Kneffel—picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images Chinese artist Ai Weiwei in his studio during a visit from Margarete Bause, Chairman of Alliance '90/The Greens in the Bavarian parliament, in Beijing, China, 23 Nov. 2013

Instead, he will be allotted just 20 days in the country

London’s Royal Academy of Arts will soon host a three-month landmark exhibit of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s most important work, but the artist himself could be conspicuously absent. The dissident auteur announced via his Instagram account on Thursday afternoon that British immigration authorities had declined to issue him the six-month business visa for which he applied, claiming he had supplied deceptive information on his application.

With characteristic cheekiness, he released the news in a caption to a picture of a toilet.

He then posted the letter from the U.K. Visas and Immigration Office — sent by way of the British Embassy in Beijing — that informed him that he would receive only a three-week permit, requiring him to leave the country shortly after the exhibit opens.

The visa form requires the applicant to declare if he or she has ever faced, among other things, criminal charges in the U.K. or elsewhere.

“You have stated: ‘No, I have never had any of these,’” the letter to the artist read. “It is a matter of public record that you have previously received a criminal conviction in China, and you have not declared this.”

The letter then informs Ai that any future visa applications containing “inaccurate” information could earn him a 10-year ban from entering the country.

Though Ai’s politically controversial work has led to several run-ins with Beijing law enforcement officials, he says the state has never formally charged him with or convicted him of a crime. According to his Instagram post, the artist attempted to prove this to British authorities in China, but “the representatives insisted on the accuracy of their sources and refused to admit any misjudgment.”

Only a week ago, China returned the artist’s passport after revoking his international travel privileges four years ago on tax-evasion charges that Ai claims are politically motivated. The Royal Academy of Arts quickly affirmed in an eager blog post that Ai would indeed be traveling to London for the his exhibition, which opens on Sept. 19.

It appears that Ai is currently on his way to Berlin, where his 6-year-old son lives with his mother. (The artist posted an Instagram of a freshly minted German visa early this week).

TIME Zimbabwe

Who’s Really Responsible for the Killing of Zimbabwe’s Lions and Other Wildlife?

The world's anger at hunter Walter Palmer is understandable but misplaced

Earlier this month, a 55-year-old American dentist named Walter Palmer went on a safari holiday in western Zimbabwe, where, over a 40-hour period, he maimed, cautiously tracked, and finally killed a lion. Palmer, a veteran big-game hunter, insists that he had secured the necessary hunting permits, unaware at the time that his target was the most famous lion in Africa.

Hwange National Park is Zimbabwe’s oldest and largest wildlife reserve, and the lion Palmer killed was its star attraction. It even had a name: Cecil. For killing Cecil, Palmer has become a figure of global hate, and the lion depicted not so much as a bloodthirsty killer himself but a sort of cuddly mascot, who would affably tag alongside caravans of delighted tourists. #CecilTheLion was a top trending topic on Google and Twitter around the world throughout Tuesday — although nobody seemed to notice that he bore the same first name as the now reviled British adventurer and colonizer Sir Cecil Rhodes, who founded the white settler state of Rhodesia, as Zimbabwe was formerly known, and whose statue was recently pulled down in Cape Town.

The press has obligingly cast Palmer as a leering sadist and gone to great lengths to unearth alleged past wrongdoing unrelated to his hunting hobby. Prominent journalist Piers Morgan said that he wanted to hunt “fat, greedy, selfish, murderous businessmen like Dr Palmer” (who is neither fat nor a businessman) and then “skin him alive” and “cut his head from his neck.” Sharon Osbourne tweeted of her hope that he “loses his home, his practice & his money” (before noting: “He has already lost his soul”). Cara Delevingne called him “a poor excuse of a human being.”

The Yelp page of Palmer’s Minnesota dental practice has meanwhile become a catalog of ad hominem attacks. “Brought my lion here for dentistry and was horrified by the result,” one user wrote. “All kidding aside, I hope you die painfully.”

Faced with a shrieking, global witch hunt of this magnitude, Palmer, understandably, has mostly been incommunicado since the maelstrom began, but as repulsive as his hobby may be to many, it is indisputable that tourists such as him are not the real reason Zimbabwe’s precious wildlife is being decimated. To understand that, one has to look at the ruinous land-management policies practiced by the Mugabe regime over the past 15 years.

It is no accident that one of the two men who accompanied the dentist on the safari, and who have now been arrested, was a farmer (the other was a professional hunter hired by Palmer as a guide). State wildlife officials claim that Honest Trymore Ndlovu helped lured the lion off the wildlife reserve and onto his property, Antoinette Farm, where the beast was killed.

Why would he do such a thing? Perhaps because he is a farmer in a country where agriculture is an industry of destitution. Zimbabwe was once celebrated as the “breadbasket of Africa,” whose fertile earth supplied the world with abundant tobacco, corn and wheat. Today, 76% of its rural population lives in abject poverty, dependent on foreign food aid and desperate measures — like the poaching of the wildlife that inhabits its otherwise barren lands, or rendering assistance to those who want to hunt or poach.

In 2000, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe enacted a disastrous land-reform policy. Farms were divided up and nationalized and many plots were handed out to generals and ministers. Thousands of white landowners were violently evicted from their farms, which were then parceled into smallholdings and given to black Zimbabweans. The destruction of property rights led to a disintegrating economy and widespread poverty. Poaching — to feed the insatiable demand for rhino horn and ivory in China and other parts of Asia — became rife and much of the wildlife in Zimbabwe was simply wiped out.

Until 2000 Zimbabwe had a successful wildlife-management program, with many big-game animals flourishing. But by 2003, a staggering 80% of the animals that had lived on Zimbabwean safari camps (which employed firm quotas to regulate animal population sizes) had died. By 2007, there were only 14 private game farms in the country, compared with 620 prior to the land seizures of 2000, according to a National Geographic report. With the protection of private game reserves nearly nonexistent, once abundant wildlife began dying off, hunted by desperate farmers with no other options for sustenance.

Despite the passing of harsher laws for poachers in 2011 illegal hunting in Zimbabwe is still big business. Poaching syndicates earn hundreds of thousands of dollars exporting ivory and animal skins. Many conservationists believe allowing the community to reap the benefits of wildlife management — by, ironically, running the sorts of safaris on which Palmer shot his lion — will help curb illegal poaching. But it is impossible to have that debate while the world brays for the ruin of a lone Minnesotan dentist, and fails to criticize a regime whose policies were responsible for the almost complete extinction of Zimbabwean wildlife in the first place.

— With reporting by Helen Regan

TIME Markets

Chinese Markets Continue to Fall Following Worst Single-Day Drop in 8 Years

Shanghai Composite Index Slumps Below 3,500 Points On Wednesday
ChinaFotoPress—Getty Images An investor observes stock market at a stock exchange hall on July 8, 2015 in Fuyang, Anhui Province of China

Market interference by state regulatory officials has yielded ambiguous results

China’s stock markets continued their precipitous slide on Tuesday, falling almost two percent despite state regulators’ frantic attempts to stabilize the country’s volatile indices.

Tuesday’s rout came a day after the Chinese bourse’s worst drop in eight years, sending tremors of apprehension across markets worldwide. At market close on Tuesday, the Shanghai Composite Index sat at 3,663 points — more than 600 points lower than where it was just four weeks ago, illustrating the volatility of these markets and Beijing’s failure to stabilize them.

A surge that began earlier this year came to a dramatic turn last month, prompting state regulatory officials to enact drastic policies ranging from interest rate adjustments to stringent restrictions on the selling of shares.

“With Chinese markets heading further south on Tuesday after yesterday’s plunge, the question whether Beijing’s intervention is working gets louder,” market strategist Bernard Aw told the Associated Press.

TIME Smartphones

Miss Your Flip Phone? LG Has Released a New One

Snag: Right now, it's only available in South Korea

The flip phone is back. On Monday, LG unveiled the Gentle—an Android-powered flip phone that evokes the svelte simplicity of the Motorola Razr, which was all the rage back in 2005.

It’s not just a stylistic emulation, apparently: Mashable reports that the Gentle’s capabilities are “terribly outdated,” with just 4 gigabytes of storage (on par with the first iPhone model, circa 2007) and a camera operating with just three meager megapixels.

Still, it’s compact, probably user-friendly, and almost certain to go for longer between charges than its more advanced peers, whose innumerable capabilities come at the cost of battery life. It’s also super affordable. According to Mashable, the phone will sell in South Korea for the equivalent of $171. The iPhone 6 goes for about $730.

[Mashable]

TIME Culture

Hundreds Gather for Unveiling of Satanic Statue in Detroit

Matt Anderson The bronze monument was unveiled by the Satanic Temple in Detroit on July 25, 2015

The "largest public satanic ceremony in history"

A little before midnight on Saturday, a crowd of around 700 gathered in an old industrial warehouse a few blocks from the Detroit River for what they’d been told was the “largest public satanic ceremony in history.” Most of them professed to be adherents of Satanism, that loosely organized squad of the occult that defines itself as a religious group. Others came simply because they were curious. After all, Satanists exist in the popular psyche as those who casually sacrifice goats and impregnate Mia Farrow with Lucifer’s child; if this ceremony was indeed unprecedentedly big, who knew what could be in store?

Read more: The Evolution of Modern Satanism in the United States

The reality of the event — and of the contemporary Satanic movement at large — was tamer, and, if the Facebook pictures speak the truth, harmlessly festive: a cross between an underground rave and a meticulously planned Halloween party. They were there to publicly unveil a colossal bronze statue of Baphomet, the goat-headed wraith who, after centuries of various appropriations, is now the totem of contemporary Satanism. The pentagram, that familiar logo of both orthodox Satanists and disaffected teens, originated as a rough outline of Baphomet’s head.

The statue itself is impressive: almost nine feet tall, and weighing in at around a ton. The horned idol sits on a throne adorned with a pentagram, but it is the idol’s wings, and not his chair, that curiously evoke the Iron Throne from a certain celebrated HBO fantasy series. He has the jarring horns of a virile ram but the biceps of a guy who lifts four or five times a week. His legs, which are crossed, end not in feet but in hooves. It might seem more menacing if not for the two bronze-statue children standing on either side of him — a girl on his left; a boy on his right; both are looking up at him earnestly.

“Baphomet contains binary elements symbolizing a reconciliation of opposites, emblematic of the willingness to embrace, and even celebrate differences,” Jex Blackmore, who organized the unveiling, told TIME late Sunday night. In a sense, the statue is a stress test of American plurality: at what point does religious freedom make the people uncomfortable?

Blackmore directs the Detroit chapter of the Satanic Temple, one of the few coherent organizations in a field that’s otherwise disorganized and dogmatically nebulous. The Satanic Temple has chapters in Florida and Finland, in Italy and Minneapolis. Its headquarters are in New York, but the Detroit office is its first and largest outpost. Blackmore — who, by the way, uses a pseudonym for safety reasons — grew up in the Detroit metropolitan area and returned to the city to work with the Satanic Temple after attending a lecture on Satanism at Harvard.

Asked whether her group is a religious organization (or rather an anti-religious organization) she explains that it’s less of a church and more of an affinity group, built around what she repeatedly refers to as “Satanic principles.” It’s not the dogma you might expect. To quote from the group’s website:

The Satanic Temple holds to the basic premise that undue suffering is bad, and that which reduces suffering is good. We do not believe in symbolic “evil.”

Most vitally, though, the group does not “promote a belief in a personal Satan.” By their logic, Satan is an abstraction, or, as Nancy Kaffer wrote for The Daily Beast last year, “a literary figure, not a deity — he stands for rationality, for skepticism, for speaking truth to power, even at great personal cost.”

Call it Libertarian Gothic, maybe — some darker permutation of Ayn Rand’s crusade for free will. One witnesses in the Satanic Temple militia a certain knee-jerk reaction to encroachments upon personal liberties, especially when those encroachments come with a crucifix in hand. The Baphomet statue is the Satanic Temple’s defiant retort du jour.

“We chose Baphomet because of its contemporary relation to the figure of Satan and find its symbolism to be appropriate if displayed alongside a monument representing another faith,” Blackmore said.

The monument she refers to is a six-foot marble slab engraved with the Ten Commandments, controversially situated on the grounds of the Oklahoma State Capitol. In 2012, state representative Mike Ritze fronted $10,000 out of his own pocket to have the marker installed in the shadow of the capitol’s dome, prompting the ire of those who believed it flagrantly violated the separation of church and state. The American Civil Liberties Union sued the state of Oklahoma; the Satanic Temple fought fire with fire. If the Christians could chisel their credo onto public property, the argument went, why couldn’t they?

The state didn’t agree, and rejected the Satanic Temple’s petition to place Baphomet’s statute on legislative property. The point is now moot, though: a month ago, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that the Ten Commandments monument violated the state constitution, a judgment that will probably stick in spite of an obstinate governor.

It seems there are battles left to fight, though. A Detroit pastor described the unveiling of the statue as “a welcome home party for evil.” A Catholic activism group in the city actively encouraged people to attend mass at a local cathedral to speak out against the statue — a pray-in, if you will. Meanwhile, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson recently signed a bill that will put the Ten Commandments on a similar monument on the grounds of the State Capitol in Little Rock. The Satanic Temple may be planning a road trip.

Read next: Preaching Pope Francis’s Politics May Be the Key to Becoming President

Listen to the most important stories of the day

TIME Crime

3 Dead After Shooter Opens Fire in Louisiana Movie Theater

At least 9 people were injured

A gunman opened fire at a screening of Trainwreck in a Louisiana movie theater Thursday night, leaving three people dead—including the shooter—and nine others injured, officials said.

About 20 minutes into the 7 p.m. show at the Grand 16 Theater in Lafayette, the shooter, identified by law enforcement officials Friday morning as John Russel Houser, stood up in the theater and began firing a handgun into the audience. The shooter, who authorities said was a white male “drifter” in his late 50s, then turned the weapon on himself.

“We heard a loud pop we thought was a firecracker,” Katie Domingue, who had gone to see Trainwreck with her fiancee, told The Daily Advertiser. “He wasn’t saying anything. I didn’t hear anybody screaming either.”

Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft told reporters that nine people in total were wounded in the shooting. He said at least one of them was in critical condition. “At this point we have three dead, nine wounded and of the three dead one is definitely the shooter,” he said.

Craft said in a separate news conference Friday morning that Houser, originally from Alabama, was “kind of a drifter” who had been staying at a local hotel since the beginning of the month, CNN reports. Disguises were found in his hotel room. Craft praised the “quick law enforcement response” for preventing him escaping.

The White House said President Obama had been briefed on the shooting aboard Air Force One on Thursday by Lisa Monaco, his homeland security adviser, while on his way to Africa for a two-nation visit.

Authorities on Friday were attempting to piece together the sequence of events from eyewitness accounts. “There was a female lying on the ground with blood coming out of her everywhere — she was shot,” Jalen Fernell, who was in the adjacent theater, told CNN. “We’d heard nothing but gunshots — like a war was going on. We didn’t know if the guy was in a car somewhere, if he’s in the parking lot — we didn’t know what to do.”

Clay Henry, an official with a local ambulance service in Lafayette, said that emergency workers were dispatched to the scene at about 7:30 p.m. A schoolteacher pulled a fire alarm in the theater after another teacher jumped in front of her to save her from a bullet, the Associated Press reports.

Authorities arrived quickly, “literally running into the theater as shots were being fired,” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said in a news conference shortly before midnight. Nine people were taken to the hospital with injuries ranging from non-life threatening to critical. At least one victim required urgent surgery.

“The police have closed off all the exits to the parking lot, and they’re questioning the people who were in the theater,” Rebecca Vickers, the manager of Mellow Mushroom, a restaurant close to the theater, told TIME.

Vickers said that the restaurant closed early after two off-duty employees arrived at the theater to see a film, only to be warned not to go inside. She also said that the police were conducting a bomb sweep of the theater. Shortly after midnight, the Associated Press reported that a suspicious package inside the shooter’s car prompted the police to evacuate the area altogether, though Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft later said it was a false alarm.

Local television station KATC also reported a bomb threat at a condominium complex across the street from the Grand 16 Theater, though it remains unclear if it was linked to the theater shooting.

It was, Jindal said after arriving at the scene, an “awful night for Lafayette… for Louisiana… and for the United States.”

“As a governor, as a father, as a husband, whenever we hear about these senseless acts of violence, it makes us sad and furious at the same time,” the governor said. “There’s no reason why this evil should intrude on families just out for a night of entertainment.”

Amy Schumer, who stars in Trainwreck, was quick to express her sympathies to the victims and their loved ones.

TIME U.S.

Watch This KKK March Get Trolled By a Man and His Tuba

"I didn't really know how to show my opposition, so that was my way of doing it," Matt Buck says

South Carolina has long been a crucible of racial friction, a truth tragically brought to light last month when 21-year-old Dylann Roof murdered nine African-Americans at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. In the weeks since, these muted tensions have amplified, with a number of Confederate apologists loudly and defiantly standing by a heritage marred if not defined by prejudice.

The great thing about America, though, is that for every pack of cringeworthy contrarians, you have someone able and eager to call their bluff. In this case, the contrarians are members of a contemporary incarnation of the Ku Klux Klan, and their most vocal opponent is a sousaphone-playing young man named Matt Buck.

Last week, as the Klan revival group waved their Confederate flags through Columbia, South Carolina, Buck marched alongside them, huffing into his sousaphone (a version of the tuba modified for the marching band).

“I didn’t really know how to show my opposition, so that was my way of doing it,” he told the Charleston City Paper. “My goal was to embarrass them, and I think I did a little bit.”

TIME movies

Space Jam 2 Might Be Happening, With LeBron James as the Star

The basketball player has embarked on an "unprecedented" creative partnership with Warner Brothers

Last month, Warner Brothers filed to renew its trademarks for Space Jam, the sensational 1996 sports comedy cum space opera that introduced Bugs Bunny and Michael Jordan to a generation too young to remember the Looney Tunes and the 1991 Chicago Bulls.

In other words, we can expect a sequel. This isn’t exactly breaking news: last February, Deadline reported that television producer Charlie Ebersol would be directing the forthcoming Space Jam 2, with Lebron James as the lead — a claim that James’ representatives quickly denied.

But, on Wednesday, Warner Brothers announced that it was embarking on an “unprecedented” creative partnership with the basketball player, “spanning all areas of content creation.” The official statement is vague when it comes to exact plans, but it does say that James’ “creative footprint” would “touch all areas” of the studio.

There is no official word that he will star in the Space Jam sequel — or that the Space Jam sequel is even going to happen — but the circumstantial evidence is abundant. Even after his people denounced Deadline’s report last year, James coyly hinted at the possibility.

“I’ve always loved Space Jam,” he told the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “It was one of my favorite movies growing up. If I have the opportunity, it will be great.”

Speaking purely from a creative standpoint, it’s easy to envision the film. Space Jam‘s storyline tinkered with Jordan’s own controversial narrative — namely his cocksure decision to briefly abandon the Chicago Bulls in the early 1990s for an embarrassing stint in pro baseball — and James’ story is just as compelling. Four years ago, ABC wondered aloud if he was “the most hated man in basketball” after he scandalously ditched the Cleveland Cavaliers to play for the Miami Heat. I’m sure Bugs Bunny can factor into that somehow.

TIME Syria

Leader of al-Qaeda Offshoot Khorasan Killed in U.S. Air Strike in Syria

Muhsin al-Fadhli is seen in an undated photo provided by the U.S. State Department
Reuters Muhsin al-Fadhli is seen in an undated photo provided by the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C.

Muhsin al-Fadhli was killed while traveling close to the Turkish border

A Pentagon spokesperson has confirmed that a U.S. air strike in Syria earlier this month killed a top leader of al-Qaeda splinter group Khorasan who had rare advanced knowledge of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

On July 8, Muhsin al-Fadhli was traveling near Sarmada, a town in northwestern Syria close to the Turkish border, when a U.S. drone targeted and struck his vehicle. The BBC reports that he had previously evaded a similar attempt on his life last September.

Though the bloody rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) has prompted American counterterrorism efforts to pivot away from al-Qaeda, al-Fadhli, a former confidant of Osama bin Laden, had remained a major target. A 2012 U.S. State Department report recognized him as “al-Qaida’s senior facilitator and financier in Iran” and a ringleader in the 2002 terrorist attack on a French oil tanker off the Yemeni coast.

At the time of his death, security officials had identified him as the leader of Khorasan, a Syria-based cabal of senior al-Qaeda members believed to possibly “pose as much of a danger as the [ISIS],” as National Intelligence Director James Clapper said last September. As ISIS conducted its public campaign of gruesome theatrics, al-Qaeda kept something of a low profile, purposely disassociating itself from what President Barack Obama had dubbed “junior varsity” jihadism. Despite ISIS’s rising profile, it is the elusive al-Qaeda leadership that possesses the organization and experience to execute a terrorist attack on Western soil, the New York Times reports.

Al-Fadhli was a seasoned jihadist. He was just 20 years old in 2001, but was already sufficiently elevated in al-Qaeda’s ranks to learn in advance of the planned assault on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

Accordingly, his death comes as a symbolic if not insurmountable blow to the group’s leadership.

“[Al-Fadhli] is certainly one of the most capable of the al-Qaeda core members,” Congressman Adam Schiff, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, told the Times last year, following a botched attempt on the extremist’s life. “His loss would be significant, but as we’ve seen before, any decapitation is only a short-term gain. The hydra will grow another head.”

TIME movies

An Actual Emoji Movie Is in the Works

Hong Kong Rugby Sevens: beer, costumes and, somewhere, a result
AP Fans wearing emoji masks watch a Hong Kong Seven rugby match in Hong Kong on March 28, 2015

No word yet on which members of Apple's vast emoji library will be making an appearance

Hollywood is impeccably good at turning a profit on insipid fads. In the five years since Universal Pictures released the animated film Despicable Me, a cultish cottage industry has sprung up around the Minions, the film’s manic yellow lozenges who ultimately proved lucrative enough to earn their own spinoff. They’re globally ubiquitous — you have Minion Tic Tacs, Minion-themed weddings in Britain, a curious Minion-inspired burger at McDonald’s restaurants in Hong Kong — and the producers are laughing all the way to the bank.

It’s not terribly surprising, then, that Sony Pictures Animation will be making a movie about emoji, the delightful little ideograms you use to caption your Instagrams or pepper your messages. The planned project, Deadline reports, comes after a supposedly heated bidding process between Sony, Warner Bros. and Paramount Pictures that culminated in a deal in the high six figures. There’s money to be made in twee hieroglyphics.

Or maybe it’s simply low-hanging fruit, given that the emoji library is less a typeface and more a means of illustrating the world at large. Your cast, setting and props are ready to go. The ensemble could be colossal: Apple’s emoji library is populated by 93 individual little yellow people, 15 families of four, 10 happy couples and seven anthropomorphic cats. Santa Claus could make an appearance. The library’s latest iteration offers 42 national flags, so it could be set anywhere — Israel! South Korea!

In any event, the movie won’t be completely revolutionary. The emoji-as-medium approach to filmmaking has earned some mileage as a music video strategy already, the best example thus far coming in Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s “Drunk in Love.”

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