TIME Foreign Policy

The U.S. Will Spend $110 Million a Year on African Peacekeeping Efforts

Uganda
Ben Curtis—ASSOCIATED PRESS A soldier from the Uganda People's Defence Force (UPDF) engages in weapons training at the Singo training facility in Kakola, Uganda Monday, April 30, 2012. The camp provides different training courses run by the U.S. Marines and also by instructors contracted by the U.S. State Department.

The plan is to help fund African rapid-response forces that will deal with armed Islamist groups

Correction appended, Aug. 7

During the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington on Wednesday, President Barack Obama unveiled plans to invest $110 million annually over the next three to five years to help six African countries create rapid-response forces, Reuters reports.

At a summit news conference, Obama said the funds the funds would boost African Union and U.N. operations in crisis spots around the continent, using peacekeepers from Ethiopia, Uganda, Senegal, Rwanda, Tanzania and Ghana.” Obama said that the funds are meant to remedy the current “gap in systematically supporting these peacekeepers to help them deploy more quickly.”

The U.S. has become more involved in supporting African military efforts to combat Islamic extremists recently, training over a quarter-million African police and military.

Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., added that the U.S. hoped to create “troop-contributing countries” that would fight off extremist groups like al-Shabab, al-Qaeda affiliates and Boko Haram, which has killed over 10,000 people since it began its uprising in Nigeria in 2009.

Obama also announced intentions to spend an initial $65 million on strengthening security efforts in Niger, Tunisia, Ghana, Nigeria, Mali and Kenya. Along with the funding, Obama unveiled a plan called the Security Governance Initiative, which will help bolster security sectors and other infrastructures that offer crises resolution in Africa.

[Reuters]

Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly identified countries as crisis zones where African Union and United Nations peacekeepers would be deployed.

TIME White House

Obama: ‘No Sympathy’ for Hamas

US President Barack Obama speaks during a press conference at the conclusion of the US - Africa Leaders Summit at the US State Department in Washington on August 6, 2014.
Saul Loeb—AFP/Getty Images US President Barack Obama speaks during a press conference at the conclusion of the US - Africa Leaders Summit at the US State Department in Washington on August 6, 2014.

Obama said Wednesday, "it is important to remember that Hamas acts extraordinarily irresponsibly when it is deliberately citing rocket launchers in population centers."

During a Q&A with reporters Wednesday at the close of the U.S.-Africa summit, President Barack Obama said he had “no sympathy for Hamas.”

“I have great sympathy for the people who are struggling in Gaza,” he said, while reiterating that Israel has a right to defend itself.

The comments came on the second day of a 72-hour ceasefire in Gaza, orchestrated by Egypt, in an effort to bring an end to the nearly four weeks of fighting in the region. During the ceasefire, leaders from Hamas and Israel have agreed to work toward a long-term end to the fighting, in negotiations aided by the Egyptian government. Obama said on Wednesday that his administration intends to “support the process that is taking place in Egypt.”

The President’s statements on Gaza were the highlight of an otherwise run-of-the-mill Q&A session with reporters, during which topics from Russian sanctions to the threat of Ebola were touched on, with little new ground broken. When asked about sanctions, Obama said they “are working as intended in putting enormous pressure and strain on the Russian economy.”

The first question on Wednesday addressed an issue hanging heavily over many of the legislators in attendance at the summit: the spread of the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa in an outbreak which the CDC says has killed at least 932 people so far.

Two American patients who were confirmed to be infected with Ebola are currently at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. The two patients are being treated with an experimental drug, and have shown signs of progress though the drug has not yet been approved for use on humans. When asked if he would consider distributing the drug at high rates, if necessary, Obama said the all the necessary information isn’t yet available.

“Well, I think we’ve got to let the science guide us,” Obama said. “And you know, I don’t think all the information is in on whether this drug is helpful.”

-With reporting by Zeke J. Miller

TIME technology

The GOP Loves Uber

The Hamptons Lure Uber Top Drivers Amid NYC Slow Summer Weekends
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images Th Uber Technologies Inc. car service application (app) is demonstrated for a photograph on an Apple Inc. iPhone in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014.

Uber, but for voters' email addresses

The Republican National Committee is prowling for emails by shilling for car-hailing service Uber.

“Our cities also deserve innovative, efficient and safe transportation choices without excessive and intrusive bureaucratic red tape,” the RNC wrote in an email to supporters Wednesday. “That’s why our cities need innovative solutions like the Uber car service.”

The message wasn’t designed as an advertisement for the Uber, but rather a list-building and messaging effort by the party as it seeks to broaden its appeal to millennials and libertarians before this fall’s midterm elections.

As top party officials gather in Chicago, where the company is embroiled in a fight with the city council and the state legislature, the GOP is highlighting the startup as an example of a company hamstrung by overregulation. Uber has waged public campaigns against taxi commissions and local governments across the country, which in many cases tried to block the company’s expansion at the behest of existing taxi companies.

The GOP’s petition is designed to collect email addresses of potential supporters, who can be bombarded with pitches to donate and support Republican candidates.

GOP.com

“We don’t need the intrusive government implementing any more strangling regulations, limiting consumer choices or interfering in the free market,” the RNC email continues. “But this isn’t about one company or concept. This is about protecting the core principles that make our country so great: our free market principles, our entrepreneurial spirit and our economic freedom. Show your support for free market companies like Uber by signing the petition today.”

TIME technology

Missouri Passes Constitutional Amendment to Protect Electronic Privacy

Some Missouri lawmakers hopes other states follow its lead on protecting privacy.

Missouri became the first state in the nation Tuesday to offer explicit constitutional protections of electronic communications and data from warrantless search and seizure by law enforcement.

The amendment to the state’s constitution places communications such as emails, text messages, and cloud storage under the same Fourth Amendment protection from unreasonable searches and seizures as “persons, homes, papers and effect” and will require police to have a warrant to gain access to phones, laptops, and electronic communications. It passed with 75% support in a statewide ballot effort.

“Yesterday’s overwhelming support for Amendment 9 reflects the emotion that Missourians feel about the invasion of their privacy,” said Republican state Sen. Rob Schaaf, who co-sponsored the measure with Republican Sen. Bob Dixon . “People are upset and they spoke with a very loud voice. They don’t want the government snooping.”

Schaaf says that the amendment’s specific legal impact will “take time to sort out” in Missouri, but he believes that the court will interpret it along the same lines as it interprets the right to privacy in person, paper, home, and effects. However, he believes that the national attention that the amendment receives will be its biggest impact, as that may inspire other states to follow suit.

“I think other states will look at this vote and they will follow Missouri’s lead,” Schaaf says.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that law enforcement must obtain a warrant to search cell phones seized during arrest, but the ruling did not address broader concerns about data privacy on other devices. The Missouri amendment will include laptops and communications alongside the Supreme Court’s cell phone ruling.

Federal legislation has been proposed to address the need for updated electronic communication privacy protections stored by third parties. The Email Privacy Act would update to the Electronic Communications Act of 1986, which Chris Calabrese, American Civil Liberties Union’s legislative counsel for privacy, pointed out has not been updated “substantially” since the new era of personal electronics took hold. The legislation has been passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee, but is currently in the House. “I think states will continue to act independently if there’s no federal legislation,” Calabrese says. “People care about privacy.”

TIME Israel

Israelis Unhappy to See World-Class Military ‘Surprised’ Again

An Israeli soldier prays next to Merkava tanks at an unspecified location near the Israeli border with the Gaza Strip, Aug. 6, 2014.
Abir Sultan—EPA An Israeli soldier prays next to Merkava tanks at an unspecified location near the Israeli border with the Gaza Strip, Aug. 6, 2014.

A high Israeli troop death toll in Gaza, with inconclusive results, reminds some of a "severe sense of failure" after a 2006 ground war

Updated 10:42 a.m. E.T. on Aug. 7

Israel’s military can be fearsomely destructive. From the day in July 1967 when Israeli planes preempted an Egyptian attack by destroying Cairo’s air force on the ground, to surgical airstrikes on nuclear reactor projects in Iraq in 1981 and Syria in 2007, the Israel Defense Forces have displayed crack intelligence and technical skill.

So why does Israel keep getting caught by surprise when it fights ground wars against its neighboring enemies?

Sixty-four Israeli soldiers were killed in Gaza over the past three weeks—more than six times the 10 lost in Israel’s 2008 incursion into the Palestinian territory. The Gaza incursion “revealed worrisome shortcomings in the Israel Defense Forces in battle readiness and management,” the Israeli daily Haaretz laments. The chairman of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee is vowing to investigate both diplomatic and military failures, including the use of a poorly-armored personnel carrier in which seven Israeli soldiers were killed by a single missile last month. Military experts also say the IDF was generally “operating from an old playbook and [was] not fully prepared for a more sophisticated, battle-ready adversary.”

Other Israeli politicians are also asking “why the extent of the Hamas tunnel system into Israel was either not known or not prepared for better,” the New York Times reports, which adds that the tunnels were “a psychological and tactical surprise.”

Israelis may be angry and frustrated. But they shouldn’t be shocked. Israel has been here before.

Eight years ago, Israel mounted a ground offensive against Hizballah in southern Lebanon. In that operation, Israeli soldiers discovered that the Iranian-backed Shi’ite group came equipped with sophisticated weapons, training and tactics. “They are trained and highly qualified,” an Israeli soldier told the Times that year. “All of us were kind of surprised.” Israel lost 121 soldiers in that conflict, widely considered a failure that produced months of soul-searching within the country’s leadership.

Lo and behold, many of the dynamics from Lebanon in 2006 also apply to the fight in Gaza, which remains on hold at least for now under a cease-fire agreement. Israel was fighting to stop Hizballah rocket fire into its territory; the IDF’s incursion killed more than one thousand civilians; and Hizballah skillfully publicized those innocent deaths to damage Israel’s world image.

And the unhappy parallels may continue: Israel had hoped the 2006 offensive would wipe out Hizballah’s rocket arsenal and lead to a demilitarization of southern Lebanon. It didn’t happen. Seven years later, the IDF estimates Hizballah’s arsenal at a staggering 60,000 rockets. While there’s talk now of a long-term cease-fire deal that will disarm Hamas, many Israelis are understandably skeptical.

“Hamas was not defeated; the organization will remain in power in Gaza and the key partner in any future agreement. If the cease-fire leads to a lifting of the siege on the Gaza Strip, Hamas may consider the heavy price worthwhile,” writes Amos Harel in Haaretz. Even so, he argues, “[t]he second-guessing now underway in Israel now “does not resemble the severe sense of failure after the Second Lebanon War.” But as Harel notes, that could change depending on what kind of lasting cease-fire deal emerges from current negotiations.

An Israeli government official is more upbeat, calling recent polls that show sky-high approval ratings for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and top military officials “a better indication of the public mood.” The official also calls a replay of the post-2006 aftermath is unlikely, given that the current regime in Egypt — which controls Gaza’s only border that does not touch Israel — has no love for Hamas and will partner with Israel to prevent the group’s rearmament. No such actor existed to clamp down on Hizballah after 2006.

Still, in Gaza this summer, Israel has been re-acquainted with the limits of its military power. (Never mind other memorably bungled Israeli operations, like the 2010 raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla, or the cinematically bizarre 2007 assassination-and-revival of Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal.) Israel has again found that its intelligence is not infallible. And, while it enjoys massive military superiority over its rivals, it still faces painful limits when it fights guerilla-style groups on its borders.

Strange as it may sound, taking out an entire air force can be easier than winning a fight with a determined militant group — especially if you’ve underestimated its readiness for battle.

Updated: The original version of this story has been updated to include comments by an Israeli government official.

TIME live

Watch LIVE: President Obama Speaks on the U.S.-Africa Summit

Obama will make his remarks on the final day of the US-Africa Summit

TIME Infectious Disease

Meet the Bots That Knew Ebola Was Coming

Medical staff working with Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) prepare to bring food to patients kept in an isolation area at the MSF Ebola treatment centre in Kailahun, Sierra Leone on July 20, 2014.
Reuters Medical staff working with Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) prepare to bring food to patients kept in an isolation area at the MSF Ebola treatment centre in Kailahun, Sierra Leone on July 20, 2014.

Online technology has improved the ability to detect and track outbreaks

A computer program run by epidemiologists in Boston had already alerted key agencies of the U.S. government about West Africa’s Ebola outbreak four days before the World Health Organization first announced it, one of the doctors told TIME Tuesday.

The computer’s advantage was its access to non-official online channels, in this case a March 19 news report in the Kenyan publication, the Standard News, which quoted a Guinean health official describing 23 recent deaths due to hemorrhagic fever in a region where bushmeat is regularly consumed. “These are new views on what is happening,” John Brownstein, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and the founder of Healthmap.org, a group that scours social media and online news sources for early signs of disease outbreaks, told TIME.

The rise in technology and global travel has created new hardships for the world’s infectious disease fighters. Pathogens can now travel around the world as fast as a airplane and global trade is booming. But there is a good-news corollary to this increased threat: The ability to detect diseases quickly has increased as well, by mining Internet usage, social media and news reporting for real-time signals of disease threats.

Google search terms for words like flu and diarrhea can indicate spikes in infection, birthing the company’s Google Flu Trends project with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has demonstrated an ability to predict spikes in flu cases before official data.

Health and flu-related Wikipedia article traffic has also been shown to correlate with disease outbreaks as they happen. In cases where official data is not always reliable, social media can also provide better indications of emerging threats. During the 2013 outbreak of H7N9 bird flu in China, a health worker forced hospital officials to admit a recent death from the disease by posting the hospital chart of a recent patient on Weibo, the Chinese social media site. Weibo reports also signaled to the world that nurses had developed fevers after interacting with the patient.

The new systems are by no means foolproof: U.S. social media has seen sharp spikes in discussions of ebola in recent weeks, for instance, but those do not indicate any evidence that the disease has jumped to the United States. “We tend to be very careful about the social media side of things,” Brownstein said. He also says there is still a significant human role in sorting through the digital news reports his group collects.

But that hasn’t stopped most major U.S. government agencies from subscribing to Healthmap.org’s daily email alerts, and online postings. Brownstein said the Department of Defense, the World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control and the Department of Homeland Security all subscribe to the monitoring efforts.

Healthmap.org’s timeline of the geographic spread of Ebola, based on online news reports, can be found here.

TIME Presidents

Watch the Rise and Fall of Richard Nixon in TIME Covers

President Nixon Graced TIME's cover more than anyone else, and not just for Watergate

In early August of 1974, 40 years ago this week, the news was all President Richard Nixon. On Aug. 5, the “Smoking Gun” tapes were released, revealing to the public that the President had known about Watergate. On Aug. 8, he became the first and only U.S. President to announce his resignation. But Nixon already had a long history in the news, and it didn’t end in 1974. In fact, no other individual has been featured on the cover of TIME more frequently, with 55 appearances to his name.
 
The irony in all that? None of those covers are from precisely 40 years ago. The week leading up to the resignation, the cover featured Rep. Peter Rodino of the House Judiciary Committee; two weeks later, when the resignation itself made the cover, newly-inaugurated President Gerald Ford was featured.
 
The issue in-between—the issue that would have appeared right around the same time as the tapes went public — went in a different direction: Jack Nicholson.

TIME Morning Must Reads

Morning Must Reads: August 6

Capitol
Mark Wilson—Getty Images The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC.

Ebola Fears Grip U.S.

Federal health officials are facing a surge in reports of possible Ebola cases from hospitals and health departments, none confirmed but which highlight a moment of growing domestic concern about an outbreak that has claimed over 800 lives in Africa

Missouri Nears Executions Record

An execution Wednesday in Missouri brought the state’s pace near record levels, at a time when problems have led to growing scrutiny

Mixed Bag for Tuesday Primaries

Most results of the ballots in Michigan, Kansas, Missouri and Washington were predictable as the fight for the soul of the Republican Party rages on

Hillary Clinton Makes Surprise Colbert Report Appearance

Hillary Clinton and Stephen Colbert went head-to-head in the name game on Tuesday night when the former Secretary of State made an unannounced visit to the Colbert Report. There was lots of name-dropping, but still no talk of 2016

No Easy Answers to Charges of War Crimes in Gaza

Experts on both sides of the conflict have already drawn their own conclusions about whether international humanitarian law was broken—but investigating and proving war crimes is a lengthy and complex process that could take many months

Target Announces Support for Gay Marriage

The retail giant announced its support for gay marriage on Tuesday, after years of criticism for its neutrality on the issue, by joining a growing list of companies that are signing onto an amicus brief in a case before a federal appeals court

Obama’s Approval Rating at All-Time Low in New Poll

President Barack Obama’s approval ratings have dipped to a new low— 40%—according to a new poll released Tuesday. But the NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey shows even lower support for congressional Republicans

Ricky Gervais to Reprise Office Character in New Film

The comedian who co-created and starred in the mockumentary-style sitcom that was later remade by NBC in 2005, to enormous success, said his famous character David Brent (a prototype for Steve Carell’s Michael Scott) will appear in a new film called Life on the Road

Study: Aspirin Cuts Deaths From 3 Kinds of Cancer

Researchers have found that taking aspirin in late middle age can reduce deaths from bowel, esophageal and stomach cancer by 40%, 35% and 50%, respectively. But you need to take it for at least five years, and probably 10, for the anticancer benefits to be seen

Browns Defenders Wear Boxing Gloves in Practice

To prepare for the NFL’s crackdown on defensive holding this season, the team is making its cornerbacks and safeties wear boxing gloves during training camp practices in order to deter players from latching onto jerseys of wide receivers, a tactic that will now draw a penalty flag

New Post-Snowden Leaks Reveal Secret U.S. Watch List

Documents published Tuesday, which detail the growth of federal terrorist watch lists, were drafted after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden fled prosecution in the U.S. for Russia, when he no longer had access to classified intelligence networks

Thousands of Iraqi Refugees Are Stranded on a Mountain

If they come down, they risk being killed by Sunni militia. If they stay, they risk death from thirst and exposure. “A humanitarian tragedy is unfolding,” says Nickolay Mladenov, special representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq

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TIME 2014 Election

The 5 Takeaways from Tuesday’s Primaries

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, left, and U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts greet each other at Johnson County Republican's election watch party Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014, in Overland Park, Kan.
Charlie Riedel—AP Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, left, and U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts greet each other at Johnson County Republican's election watch party, Aug. 5, 2014, in Overland Park, Kan.

The fight for the soul of the Republican Party rages on

Most of the results in the primaries in Michigan, Kansas, Missouri and Washington on Tuesday were predictable. But Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s surprise exit in June has primed most political watchers to look for unexpected results as the fight for the soul of the Republican Party rages on. This week’s results proved a mixed bag, with one incumbent going down but others surviving. From a Santa impersonator to Barack Obama’s cousin, here are the most interesting results from Tuesday’s primaries:
 
Sen. Pat Roberts survived. Three-term Kansas incumbent Roberts beat off Tea Party challenger Milton Wolf, a radiologist whose claim to fame is that he is President Obama’s cousin once removed. Roberts overcame questions about residency—whether he even maintained a home in Kansas—that brought down his colleague Dick Lugar in Indiana last cycle. But Milton faltered over the revelation of Facebook posts in which he apparently mocked patient X-rays. Roberts, who outraised Milton by $4.7 million to $1.1 million, was always ahead in the polls. A loss here would’ve been a huge upset.

Rep. Justin Amash survived. In a year when establishment Republicans like Roberts have generally prevailed against Tea Party challengers, they have less successfully gone on the offensive against Tea Party incumbent troublemakers like Amash. Despite being outspent and in the crosshairs of the Chamber of Commerce and Karl Rove, the two-term Michigan Republican prevailed Tuesday night. Amash so angered House leadership with his antics, they stripped him of his Budget Committee membership in 2012. Apparently, being unpopular in the most unpopular institution in America is a winner with voters.

Rep. Kerry Bentivolio didn’t survive. If Amash hadn’t played his cards right, he could’ve easily have ended up like fellow Michigan upstart Bentivolio. The reindeer rancher and Santa impersonator was an accidental congressman. He happened to be the only one left on the ballot in 2012 when Rep. Thaddeus McCotter failed to properly qualify for the GOP ballot. Bentivolio didn’t toe the party line and failed to properly fundraise, leaving himself vulnerable to a challenge. Businessman David Trott won the backing of the Chamber of Commerce and self-funded $2.5 million to prevail Tuesday night.

Rep. Mike Pompeo survived. The perception of being an old school, ear marking Republican hurt former Rep. Todd Tiahrt’s bid to take back his former seat from Pompeo. Tiahrt, who represented Kansas’s fourth district from 1997 to 2011, left office to make an unsuccessful bid for the Senate in 2010. At the last minute before the May filing deadline, Tiahrt challenged his successor to win the seat back. Pompeo, though, had the backing of the Koch brothers and the anti-tax group the Club for Growth, who ran ads mocked Tiahrt’s “earmark of the day.” Pompeo won easily.

Two Republicans advanced from a crowded Washington primary. Doc Hastings,10-term incumbent and chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, is one of nearly three dozen House incumbents beating an path to the exit, disgusted with Congress’s newly intractable ways. But that didn’t stop a dozen people from running for the chance to succeed him. Washington has a top-two advance system regardless of party affiliation but in the reliably Republican 4th district, two Republicans topped the polls: Clint Didier, a former NFL star who won two Super Bowl rings with the Washington Redskins and ran as a Tea Partier and Dan Newhouse, a former state legislator and agricultural director. Which means, voters in that district will have until November to decide their own Tea Party versus establishment battle.

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