TIME Afghanistan

The Afghan Taliban Has Elected a New Leader After Mullah Omar’s Death

A long-time deputy of the Taliban co-founder and leader was elevated to the top position

Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour has been chosen as the head of the Afghan Taliban, according to two commanders of the Islamic militant organization.

The commanders said the long-time deputy of the deceased Mullah Omar was elected at a shura or meeting of top Taliban representatives just outside the Pakistani city of Quetta where many of them are based, Reuters reports.

Siraj Haqqani, who leads the Haqqani militant faction within the Taliban, has been selected as Mansour’s deputy. Mansour is only the Taliban’s second-ever leader, with Omar having been at the helm since founding the Afghanistan-based militant organization in the 1990s.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed reports of Omar’s death, although he said it occurred more recently than April 2013—the date given by the Afghanistan government earlier this week.

“For some time, (Omar) has been suffering a kind of sickness and over the last two weeks it became more serious, and due to that illness he passed away,” Mujahid said. The Taliban founder has not been seen in public since 2001, leading to widespread speculation of his whereabouts and multiple reports of his death over the last decade.

Peace talks between the Taliban and the current Afghanistan government, due to be held in and mediated by neighboring Pakistan, have been postponed indefinitely in the meantime. Pakistan cited the reports of Omar’s death as the reason for delaying the talks, because of concerns that a battle for succession could further deepen discord between the Taliban’s numerous factions.

TIME Libya

Muammar Gaddafi’s Son Has Been Sentenced to Death Over 2011 Libya Killings

Seif al-Islam Gadhafi
Ben Curtis—AP Seif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, speaks to the media at a press conference in a hotel in Tripoli on Feb. 25, 2011

The court sentenced eight others to death as well

TRIPOLI, Libya — A court in Libya on Tuesday sentenced a son of Moammar Gadhafi to death by firing squad after convicting him of murder and inciting genocide during the 2011 uprising.

The Tripoli court that sentenced Seif al-Islam, who is being held by a militia that refuses to hand him over, also sentenced to death eight others, including former Libyan spy chief Abdullah al-Senoussi, who is in government custody.

It was unclear whether the sentences in the mass trial of 38 Gadhafi-era figures, only 29 of whom were present, would be carried out. Six others were sentenced to life in prison and four were cleared of charges.

U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said the trial was “undermined by serious due process violations,” and called on the Supreme Court to independently review the verdict.

“This trial has been plagued by persistent, credible allegations of fair trial breaches that warrant independent and impartial judicial review,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director. “The victims of the serious crimes committed during the 2011 uprising deserve justice, but that can only be delivered through fair and transparent proceedings.”

Libya has slid into chaos since the overthrow and killing of Gadhafi, who ruled the country for four decades. It is now bitterly divided between an elected parliament and government cornered in the country’s east, with little power on the ground, and an Islamist militia-backed government in the west that has seized the capital, Tripoli.

Since the end of the civil war, Seif al-Islam has been held by a militia in Zintan, which is allied with the Tobruk-based internationally recognized government against the Tripoli one. The court that convicted him is affiliated with the Tripoli-based government. He is also wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague on charges of crimes against humanity.

During the trial, Seif al-Islam was accused of recruiting mercenaries who were given Libyan nationality, planning and carrying out attacks on civilian targets from the air, forming armed groups and shooting into crowds of demonstrators. Among the charges he was convicted of were incitement of murder and rape.

Hundreds of militias in Libya are battling for power and turf in a lawless environment has allowed human traffickers and kidnappers to flourish.

The U.N. envoy for Libya, meanwhile, has urged the Islamist-led government in Tripoli to sign a peace deal that would establish a unity government. Members of the Tobruk government and regional leaders signed the unity accord in Morocco on July 11.

Also sentenced to death on Tuesday were foreign intelligence chief Abu-Zeid Omar-Dawarda and Gadhafi’s former Prime Minister Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi.

TIME India

India Pays Tribute to ‘People’s President’ A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

Kalam died on Monday aged 83

India continued to mourn one of its most beloved Presidents and iconic leaders on Tuesday, as tributes and condolences poured in for A.P.J. Abdul Kalam following his sudden passing Monday evening.

The Indian government declared a seven-day state mourning until Aug. 2 during which national flags across the country will be flown at half-mast, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

Kalam, 83, collapsed from an apparent cardiac arrest while delivering a lecture to a group of students in India’s northeastern city of Shillong and was declared dead at the hospital about two hours later. His body was flown to the country’s capital, New Delhi, on Tuesday afternoon, where it was received by the chiefs of all three military branches as well as several politicians including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and current President Pranab Mukherjee. It will then be taken to his residence in the city in order for people to pay their respects before being flown to his hometown Rameshwaram, in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, for the last rites, Indian broadcaster NDTV reported.

Modi earlier mourned Kalam’s loss on Twitter, calling him “a great scientist, a wonderful President and above all an inspiring individual.”

Mukherjee, who took office after Kalam’s successor Pratibha Patil, also tweeted a heartfelt tribute before announcing that he would make an unscheduled return to New Delhi from his tour of the country’s south.

International leaders like former Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also added their condolences via social media.

Although the office of the President in India is a largely ceremonial one, with the Prime Minister as the de facto head of state, Kalam used his tenure to reach out to the masses — India’s youth in particular — which earned him the moniker the People’s President.

He is also commonly referred to as the Missile Man of India, a reference to his role in shaping India’s missile program during his tenures at India’s space and defense-research agencies respectively from the 1960s to the 1990s. He was also a key player in India’s emergence as a nuclear power, playing an integral part in the country’s infamous nuclear tests of 1998.

Few Indian leaders in the 21st century enjoyed the kind of popular support experienced by Kalam, evidenced by the near-unanimous backing of his election as India’s 11th President in 2002 among all the parties across India’s fractious political spectrum, as well as the overwhelming outpouring of grief at his death.

Born in a small town in Tamil Nadu in 1931 to a boatman father, Kalam always encouraged young people to follow their dreams and genuinely believed India could be the next superpower. He advocated as much through his best-selling books like India 2020: A Vision for the New Millennium and Ignited Minds: Unleashing the Power Within India, as well as his iconic autobiography Wings of Fire.

“My message, especially to young people, is to have courage to think differently, courage to invent, to travel the unexplored path, courage to discover the impossible and to conquer the problems and succeed,” he once said. “These are the great qualities that they must work towards.”

TIME China

A Mother in China Fell to Her Death Inside an Escalator but Somehow Saved Her Toddler

A metal panel gave way as she stepped across it

A woman in China was crushed to death on Saturday after falling through a panel of flooring at the top of an escalator in a department store in Hubei province.

Xian Liujuan, 30, was carrying her young son at the time but managed to push him out of harms way as she fell, reports Agence France-Presse.

CCTV footage posted to YouTube on Sunday appears to show Xian stepping off the escalator onto a metal panel, which gives way. As she falls, Xian pushes her child away from her and a shop assistant drags him to safety.

The assistant then grabs hold of Xian’s hand but the escalator keeps rolling and she disappears into the mechanism.

According to local paper the Wuhan Evening News, maintenance work had been carried out on the escalator at the Anliang shopping mall in Jingzhou and workers had allegedly forgotten to screw the access cover into place.

Xian’s body was recovered four hours later by a team of firefighters.

The video, which contains graphic scenes that some viewers may find upsetting, can be seen here.

[AFP]

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TIME justice

Sandra Bland’s Death Draws Attention to Jail Suicides

Suicide is the leading cause of death in jails after natural illness

(DALLAS) — When Sandra Bland died in a small Texas jail last week, she became just the latest name on a long list of inmates whose deaths were determined to be suicides.

Bland’s death following her arrest for a minor traffic violation added fresh fuel to the national debate over police use of force on blacks. It also focused new attention on the longstanding problem of inmates who take their own lives.

The traffic stop “is one issue and that will be dealt with,” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said earlier this week. “But she lost her life in the jail. And that’s what we have to look at.” If the correct procedures had been in place, “maybe she would be alive today.”

Suicide is the leading cause of death in jails after natural illness. In fact, inmates take their own lives three times more often than the average population, according to a 2010 study cited in the National Study of Jail Suicide.

Since 2000, the total number of jail suicides has remained fairly constant — around 300 a year, according to the federal government’s Bureau of Justice Statistics. Improved awareness and monitoring have helped make suicides far less common than in the 1980s or 1990s.

“You talk to any sheriff 20 years ago and they would say suicides are not preventable,” said Lindsay Hayes, author of the national study. “Today, more often than not, a sheriff is going to be much more proactive or better-read about that issue.”

Statistically, white male inmates are most likely to die by their own hand, both nationally and in Texas. Women make up just a fraction of total jail suicides, and Bland was the only black woman found to have killed herself in a Texas jail since 2009.

The heightened risk of suicide behind bars results from various factors, including those that arise from the jail environment itself.

“Suicides are often spontaneous and notoriously difficult to forecast,” said a 2013 article on Texas jail suicides in the LBJ Journal of Public Affairs published by the University of Texas. “Some stressors may come from the jail environment itself where isolation, loss of control, conflict with other inmates or staff, frustration with legal proceedings, or distress and shame over incarceration may flare suicidal tendencies.”

State law requires all county jails to use one of two “objective jail classification” forms to determine an inmate’s suicide risk and whether enhanced security measures are needed, said Brandon Wood, executive director of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.

It’s then up to each jail to determine how inmates are monitored, he said, noting that state law requires only that a county inmate be observed in-person by jailers at least once every hour. An inmate who may be suicidal or who displays bizarre behavior must be checked every 30 minutes.

A doctor’s order takes priority, Wood added, so jailers must comply if there’s a medical order to monitor an inmate more frequently.

Waller County Sheriff Glenn Smith has said Bland was not on suicide watch and was supposed to be observed once every hour. But he also acknowledged that jailers at least once violated state rules by interacting with her via intercom and not in-person.

The intercom conversation, during which Bland asked how to make an outgoing call using a phone in her cell, came about an hour before her body was found July 13 hanging from a noose fashioned from a plastic garbage-can liner.

Two jailers who assessed Bland when she was being booked in the county jail were “adamant” that she appeared fine, the sheriff said.

Bland’s relatives have refused to accept authorities’ finding that she took her own life. Her death remains under investigation, as does the traffic stop that led to her arrest and detention three days earlier.

Authorities announced Thursday that an autopsy revealed no injuries that would suggest she was killed by someone else.

When the 28-year-old Chicago-area woman was booked into the county jail on July 10, records show, she reported having attempted suicide after a failed pregnancy. Her sister said the miscarriage happened in 2014. Other booking papers indicated Bland did not have suicidal thoughts at the time of her arrest.

The commission cited the jail last week for violating standards on staff training and observation of inmates, and the sheriff said he was forming a task force to review jail procedures.

Nationally, about 33 percent of all inmate deaths resulted from suicide from 2010 through 2012, compared with 29 percent for the same time period in Texas.

Women have been responsible for just 14 of the 140 inmate suicides in Texas since September 2009, when the jail commission began tracking deaths, according to data released to The Associated Press immediately after Bland died.

With jails becoming the largest providers of mental health treatment in many communities, they need more resources and better standards to keep up with increasing demand, said Michele Deitch, a University of Texas law school lecturer.

Many people who are arrested are already suffering from mental illness, trauma or addiction, Deitch said.

“All of those factors combined with the trauma of suddenly being in jail — the realization of the enormity of what has just happened to them — all of those things can be combined to make them particularly vulnerable in that setting.”

___

Associated Press Writer David Warren contributed to this report.

TIME fashion

The King of Stretch Jeans, Elio Fiorucci, Has Passed Away

Elio Fiorucci Next To A Sculpted Red Horse
Adriano Alecchi—Mondadori via Getty Images The Italian stylist Elio Fiorucci poses resting his left hand on a sculpted red horse in 1994

Fiorucci introduced stretch jeans to show off women's curves

Elio Fiorucci, the man behind stretch jeans, was found dead at the age of 80 at his home in Milan on Monday morning, according to New York magazine’s fashion news portal, the Cut.

He started his Milan-based fashion label in 1967, churning out pieces initially inspired by ’60s mod fashion in London.

But what he is best known for are form-fitting stretch jeans. Fiorucci got the idea for the pants after a trip to Ibiza, the Spanish island now known as one of the party capitals of Europe. He was impressed with the way wet jeans fit a woman’s body better, the Cut says, and wanted to re-create the effect.

At the time of waifish models like Twiggy, Fiorucci introduced his stretch jean silhouette to show off women’s curves. Once the 1970s hit, his designs spread globally, and he opened a store in New York City on 59th Street. Famous patrons like Andy Warhol, Liz Taylor and Cher came to buy up his designs, while a 15-year-old Marc Jacobs used the store as a hangout, the Cut reports.

Even in post-9/11 New York, Fiorucci fashioned a lasting legacy. His shop, which moved downtown, eventually transformed into a place for Fiorucci to sponsor and inspire new artists, among them DJ and design duo Andrew Andrew, who used the shop to launch their careers.

Fiorucci’s New York shop eventually closed down in 2003 because of financial troubles, but his iconic leopard-printed Americana style remains the inspiration of many designers and fast fashion labels.

[The Cut]

TIME Web

Grooveshark Co-Founder Joshua Greenberg, 28, Found Dead at Florida Home

No cause of death could be determined, although Gainesville police said they had ruled out both foul play and suicide

Grooveshark co-founder Joshua Greenberg was found dead on July 19 at his home in Gainesville, Fla., according to a statement released by local police via Twitter.

The department wrote that there was “no evidence of foul play or suicide” in the death of the 28-year-old. The cause of death was not immediately known. Lori Greenberg, Joshua’s mother, told the Gainesville Sun that a medical examiner’s autopsy had offered no answers and full toxicology results will not be back for at least two months. “They are as baffled as I am,” she said.

It had been a difficult time for Greenberg: Grooveshark, which he started with classmates in 2007 as a streaming website based on users’ own uploaded files, shut down in April after a string of legal battles in which record companies alleged copyright infringement. The final blow came on May 1 when a court ordered Grooveshark parent company, Escape Media Group, to close the site permanently and pay $50 million to rights holders. Nevertheless, Lori told the Sun that her son had been relieved rather than depressed about the outcome and had moved on to other projects.

A letter authored by Greenberg and his co-founders posted on the site offered an apology for “very serious mistakes.” Despite the founders’ good intentions, it says, “we failed to secure licenses from rights holders for the vast amount of music on the service. That was wrong. We apologize. Without reservation.”

TIME Utah

Utah Police Question Person of Interest in 12-Year-Old Girl’s Death

Police officials gather during an investigation after a 12-year-old girl was found dead in West Valley City, Utah, on July 17, 2015,. The search for the missing 12-year-old girl is now being investigated as a homicide after West Valley City police discovered the girl's body in a horse pasture. Police Chief Lee Russo says the girl's mother approached two officers at a convenience store near their home around 1:30 a.m. Friday,July 17, 2015. She told officers her daughter had been missing since midnight. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Rick Bowmer—AP Police officials gather during an investigation after a 12-year-old girl was found dead in West Valley City, Utah, on July 17, 2015.

The 12-year-old went out late at night and was found dead near her home

(WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah)—Police questioned a person of interest Friday in the death of a 12-year-old girl whose body was found in an overgrown horse pasture near her home in suburban Salt Lake City.

The girl left her house sometime around midnight with someone her parents didn’t know after speaking with him at the front door, authorities said.

West Valley City Police aren’t providing details about the person they’re speaking with, who isn’t considered a suspect at this time. “We don’t want the community to think this crisis is over,” Police Chief Lee Russo said.

Police also are serving a search warrant on a home nearby in connection with the case, West Valley City police spokeswoman Roxeanne Vainuku said.

The girl’s body was found after her mother got worried when she didn’t come right home. She told two officers at a nearby convenience store that her daughter was missing at around 1:30 a.m.

Police narrowed the search using the girl’s cellphone signal, honing in on the large, overgrown pasture about four blocks from her home and finding a depression in the grass where investigators think she was killed.

Her body was discovered at about 3 a.m. Police said there was “evidence of trauma” on her body, though authorities declined to specify how she died.

Her name was not immediately released. The family placed a handwritten sign on their house Friday asking for privacy.

Neither the girl nor her family had a history of run-ins with police, she said. A member of the family knew she was leaving, but it’s unclear how much her parents knew.

“This isn’t about parenting,” Russo told reporters during a press conference. “What we are investigating in the death of a 12-year-old girl.”

TIME Weddings

Funeral Homes Could Be the Hot New Wedding Venue

Cemetery Weddings
Darron Cummings—AP Danessa Molinder walks toward the Crystal Tower for photos before her wedding at the Community Life Center, which sits on cemetery land near a funeral home in Indianapolis.

The funeral industry is declining as costs increase

Funeral homes are looking to expand their businesses as the industry has become, er, sickly in recent years.

They’re helping people tie the knot, as opposed to simply honoring the dead.

The Associated Press reports that funeral home owners are seeing their profits shrink as people go for less costly funeral services these days. This week, Connecticut became the nation’s most expensive place to die because of hefty new fees for settling estates.

“As a business, we need to find ways to keep growing,” Bruce Buchanan, who owns a funeral home, told the AP.

“People aren’t as religious as they once were … and their attitudes toward death are changing,” he added. “Funeral homes were seen for one reason: to have a funeral. Now they’re being used for all kinds of things.”

The typical funeral costs $8,000 to $10,000, according to Forbes. Meanwhile, the funeral industry in the U.S. is reportedly worth around $20 billion. The average wedding costs around $30,000, and the industry is worth an estimated $55 million.

TIME Nigeria

Twin Blasts In Northern Nigeria Have Killed At Least 49 People

Another 71 were injured in the attack

Twin blasts struck a marketplace in the northeast Nigerian city of Gombe Thursday, killing at least 49 people and injuring dozens more.

The market was crowded with people doing last minute shopping on the eve of the Eid festival that marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, reports Agence France-Presse.

The first bomb went off outside a busy footwear shop at 5:20p.m. local time (12:20p.m. ET) and was followed by a second explosion minutes later.

“I and many other people rushed to assist the victims. While we were trying to attend to the wounded, another blast happened outside a china shop just opposite the footwear shop,” local trader Badamasi Amin told AFP.

Ali Nasiru, another trader at the market said he saw “people lying lifeless on the ground.”

A senior rescue worker said 49 people had been killed and 71 injured in the attack but warned the death toll could climb as some of the wounded were in a “critical condition.”

No one has claimed responsibility for the blasts, but in recent months Gombe city has been the target of bombs and suicide attacks by militant Islamist group Boko Haram

More then 15,000 people have been killed in the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria since 2009.

[AFP]

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