TIME Thailand

Thai Police Search for Clues After 2 Brits Slain

The bodies of Hannah Witheridge, 23, and David Miller, 24, were discovered on Monday morning in a rocky alcove along the shore close to the hotel where they were staying

(BANGKOK) — Police on a scenic Thai resort island searched hotels and workers’ residences Tuesday looking for clues into the slayings of two British tourists whose nearly naked, battered bodies were found on a beach a day earlier.

More than 70 police officers were deployed to Koh Tao, a popular diving destination in the Gulf of Thailand, as the country’s leaders called for a swift investigation into the brutal killings that were a new blow to Thailand’s tourism industry.

“This should not have happened in Thailand. It will affect our image in the eyes of international countries,” said Prime Minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha.

He also urged the media to warn tourists about travel safety in Thailand.

“In their countries, (foreigners) can travel wherever they want, so they thought it is safe, but in our country, there are still problems. There are different types of people, so they have to be careful,” Prayuth told reporters. “Those related must warn them and this incident has to be investigated because Thaipeople won’t tolerate this.”

Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said police were working “to make an arrest as soon as possible.”

The bodies of Hannah Witheridge, 23, and David Miller, 24, were discovered Monday morning in a rocky alcove along the shore close to the hotel where they were staying.

Both had deep wounds and gashes to the head and face that police believe were inflicted by a bloodied hoe found near the bodies.

The pair traveled to Koh Tao with friends and met each other on the island while staying in neighboring rooms at Ocean View Bungalows, said police Maj. Gen. Kiattipong Khawsamang.

Police initially released a still image from surveillance cameras showing what they said were the two victims walking hand-in-hand. But they later said the image was not of the British couple.

They also said an Asian-looking man seen on closed-circuit camera footage was a prime suspect, but investigators were pursuing several leads.

“We are focusing on migrant workers because of the surrounding witnesses and evidence, including the video footage,” Kiattipong said. “We are sweeping hotels, bars, businesses and residences of migrant workers on the beach to find the suspect.”

Another police official, Col. Prachum Ruangthong, said investigators were also looking for a group of bar employees and had questioned a group of foreigners as well.

“This morning we surrounded three locations, including the residences of migrant workers, to search and collect DNA,” Prachum said.

On Monday night, about 100 local residents gathered on Sairee Beach for a candlelit vigil and said prayers for the young British couple close to the spot where their bodies were found.

The bodies of Witheridge, from Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, and Williams, from Jersey, Channel Islands, were sent Tuesday to forensic police in Bangkok.

The attack came amid government efforts to revive Thailand’s tourism industry after a military coup in May ended prolonged, sometimes violent political protests. Martial law remains in effect in many parts of Thailand.

Koh Tao, which is about 410 kilometers (250 miles) south of Bangkok, is a quiet, small island a short boat ride from the better-known Koh Samui and Koh Phangan, the latter known for its raucous “full moon” parties that attract young foreigners and Thais.

TIME Crime

NFL: Former FBI Director Will Probe Rice Case

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III speaks at the Pima County Sheriff's Office in response to Saturday's shooting of U.S Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) among others at a Safeway in Tucson, Arizona
FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III speaks at the Pima County Sheriff's Office on Jan. 9, 2011. Eric Thayer—Reuters

Investigation will be overseen by NFL owners John Mara and Art Rooney

(NEW YORK) — The NFL says former FBI director Robert S. Mueller III will conduct a probe into how the NFL handled evidence as it investigated domestic violence claims against former Ravens running backRay Rice.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in a statement Wednesday that the investigation will be overseen by NFL owners John Mara of the New York Giants and Art Rooney of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Goodell said that Mueller will have access to all NFL records.

The NFL’s announcement came after a law enforcement official told the AP on condition of anonymity that he sent a tape of Rice striking his then-fiancee at a casino to an NFL executive in April. Goodell has maintained that no one at the league had seen the tape prior to Monday, when it went viral online.

TIME Thailand

Surrogate Offers Clues Into Man With 16 Babies

Thailand Baby Mystery
Thai police display pictures of surrogate babies born to a Japanese man who is at the center of a surrogacy scandal during a press conference at the police headquarters in Chonburi, Thailand, on Aug. 12, 2014 Sakchai Lalit—AP

"The agent told me it was for a foreign couple"

(BANGKOK) — When the young Thai woman saw an online ad seeking surrogate mothers, it seemed like a life-altering deal: $10,000 to help a foreign couple that wanted a child but couldn’t conceive.

Wassana, a lifetime resident of the slums, viewed it as a nine-month solution to her family’s debt. She didn’t ask many questions.

In reality, there was no couple. There was instead a young man from Japan named Mitsutoki Shigeta, whom she met twice but who never spoke a word to her. This same man — reportedly the son of a Japanese billionaire — would go on to make surrogate babies with 10 other women in Thailand, police say, spending more than half a million dollars to father at least 16 children for reasons still unclear.

The mystery surrounding Shigeta has riveted Thailand and become the focal point of a growing scandal over commercial surrogacy. The industry that catered to foreigners has thrived on semi-secrecy, deception and legal loopholes, and Thailand’s military government is vowing to shut it down.

Wassana’s story, which she shared with The Associated Press on condition that her last name not be used to protect her family and 8-year-old son from embarrassment, offers clues into an extraordinarily complex puzzle that boils down to two questions: Who is Shigeta and why did he want so many babies?

Shigeta is being investigated for human trafficking and child exploitation, but Thai police say they haven’t found evidence of either. The 24-year-old, now the focus of an Asia-wide investigation, has said through a lawyer that he simply wanted a big family.

He has not been charged with any crime and is trying to get his children back — 12 are currently in Thailand being cared for by social services. His whereabouts are unknown; he left Bangkok after police raided his condominium Aug. 5 and discovered nine babies living with nine nannies. Police say he sent DNA samples from Japan that prove he is the babies’ father.

Key to unraveling all of this are the women Shigeta paid to bear his children. And Wassana, whose account has been corroborated by police, was his first.

___

AN ANSWER TO EVICTION

Wassana’s Bangkok is not the city of skyscrapers and spas that most visitors see. The petite, soft-spoken 32-year-old with a ninth grade education has spent her life in a trash-strewn slum, scraping by selling traditional Thai sweets from a food cart and sharing a mildew-stained tenement with seven relatives. At $6 a day, it was affordable until her late father’s medical bills drained the family’s savings. They couldn’t pay rent for a year and faced eviction.

So when her sister stumbled upon an ad seeking surrogates in 2012, Wassana didn’t hesitate.

“I thought that any parents who would spend so much money to get a baby must want him desperately,” she says. “The agent told me it was for a foreign couple.”

She assumed it was customary to keep the biological parents’ identities confidential. In a country where deference to authority is expected — especially for poor, uneducated women — she didn’t probe.

She wondered, though, who the baby’s mother was.

“I don’t know if the doctor used my eggs or another woman’s,” she says. “Nobody told me.”

During the pregnancy, she developed pre-eclampsia, a condition that causes dangerously high blood pressure. She was rushed into the delivery room two months early and on June 20, 2013, she underwent a cesarean section, giving birth to a boy. Wassana’s family came to visit, but, she says, Shigeta did not.

The infant was placed in an incubator and after six days, Wassana returned home. She’s not sure when the baby was released from the hospital to Shigeta’s custody.

Two months later, she finally met Shigeta for the first time at the New Life fertility clinic, which had posted the Internet ad.

He was tall, with shaggy, shoulder-length hair, and was dressed casually in jeans and a wrinkled, button-down shirt he left untucked. His lawyer had accompanied him to the meeting, where he and Wassana signed a document granting him sole custody.

He wasn’t personable. There was no “thank you” for carrying his child, she says. There was, in fact, no communication at all.

“He didn’t say anything to me,” she says. “He never introduced himself. He only smiled and nodded. His lawyer did the talking.”

___

PERJURY ALLEGATIONS

A month later, the same lawyer, Ratpratan Tulatorn, called and told her to go to the Juvenile and Family Court to finalize the custody transfer. Under Thai law, a woman who gives birth is the legal mother, and, if she is married, her husband is the legal father. A court approval is required to transfer custody, which experts say often involves perjury.

Police Col. Decha Promsuwan, who has questioned five of Shigeta’s surrogates, said several of the women told police Ratpratan had instructed them to tell the court they’d had an affair with Shigeta, resulting in a child their husbands did not want.

Ratpratan said he is no longer Shigeta’s attorney and declined to comment on the women’s statements, saying, “I don’t want to touch that point because it’s a legal matter.”

During the hearing, Shigeta told the judge he owned a finance company in Japan.

His story is being intensely followed in Japan despite legal threats against the press. After his case made headlines, a group of prominent lawyers sent letters warning Japan’s mainstream media not to report Shigeta’s name or the names of his family members, according to news organizations that received the letter.

However, several Japanese magazines and online publications have identified him as a son of Japanese tycoon Yasumitsu Shigeta, founder of mobile phone distributor Hikari Tsushin.

Yet even his heritage is shrouded in mystery. The company says it can neither confirm nor deny the father-son relationship, calling it “a personal matter,” and Thai police and Interpol say they are investigating his family ties. Multiple stock filings, meanwhile, show the elder Shigeta has a son named Mitsutoki and his company has a shareholder with the same name. The stock papers show that Yasumitsu’s child was born Feb 9, 1990, the same birthdate as the Mitsutoki Shigeta at the center of the surrogacy scandal, according to Thai media that published his passport page.

Yasumitsu Shigeta did not respond to a request for an interview and Mitsutoki Shigeta’s current lawyer did not respond to requests for interviews with his client, who has multiple addresses throughout Asia. Phone calls to a Hong Kong mobile number listed for the younger Shigeta went straight to voicemail, and he did not answer text messages. No one answered the bell at his Hong Kong condo, and the doorman said he could not recall ever seeing him there.

___

’10 TO 15 BABIES A YEAR’

In early August, barely a year after Wassana’s court date with Shigeta, she saw his face again — this time, on television. She almost didn’t recognize him; his hair was now neatly trimmed.

The Thai media was calling it the “serial surrogacy” case. It had broken just after another scandal involving an Australian couple who paid a Thai surrogate to carry twins, then left behind the one with Down syndrome.

Wassana was floored. What was happening?

Police wondered the same thing. So intricate was Shigeta’s quest for children that they crafted a flowchart to keep track of how he did it.

The 9-step diagram starts with Shigeta’s picture and traces the steps he took to get his babies, from hiring surrogacy clinics and nannies, to registering apartments in the infants’ names and completing legal paperwork required for birth certificates and passports. The deliveries were spread out at nine Bangkok hospitals.

Shigeta’s acquaintances offer varying accounts of his motives.

The New Life clinic, which is currently closed pending investigation, stopped working with Shigeta after two surrogates got pregnant and he requested more, said founder Mariam Kukunashvili.

Shigeta told New Life “he wanted to win elections and could use his big family for voting,” Kukunashvili said. “He said he wanted 10 to 15 babies a year, and that he wanted to continue the baby-making process until he’s dead.”

Kukunashvili said she reported his requests to Interpol in an April 8, 2013 fax to its French headquarters, but never heard back. Thailand’s Interpol office said it never saw the warning.

She rejected Wassana’s account that the New Life agent had portrayed the parents as a couple and withheld Shigeta’s identity.

“At New Life, surrogates are always informed fully and never treated this way,” she said.

The Medical Council of Thailand, meanwhile, spoke with Wassana’s doctor, Pisit Tantiwattanakul, before he closed his All IVF fertility clinic and emptied it of all patient files after the scandal broke. His whereabouts are unknown, but he has vowed to present himself for a police interview in early September.

Pisit told the council Shigeta said he had businesses overseas and wanted a large family because he only trusted his own children to take care of them.

Interpol has asked its regional offices in Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, Hong Kong and India to probe Shigeta’s background. Police say he appears to have businesses or apartments in those countries.

Japan has no law banning surrogacy, but the medical industry has issued orders against it that are strictly followed, which could explain why Shigeta flew to one of the few places in Asia where it is openly practiced. Since 2010, he has made 41 trips to Thailand and police say he traveled regularly to Cambodia, where he holds a passport and brought four of the babies. Cambodian police have refused to comment on the case.

One of the babies in Cambodia might be Wassana’s — a prospect that leaves her riddled with guilt.

“What if they’ve done something bad to the baby?” she says. “Did I deliver him to some terrible fate?”

Today, her own fate is uncertain. The money she received for bearing Shigeta’s child cleared the family debt but was not enough to drag them out of the slums. She still lives in the same derelict tenement.

She has held the boy just once, when Shigeta handed him to her briefly in court. But she told police that she would be willing to raise him if he is being mistreated.

“I thought he would be with a good family that would love him,” she says. “That’s what I thought.”

TIME Iraq

Group Accuses Extremists of War Crimes in Iraq

Mideast Iraq
Iraqi security forces hold a flag of the Islamic State group they captured during an operation outside Amirli, some 105 miles (170 km) north of Baghdad, Iraq, on Sept. 1, 2014. AP

Amnesty say atrocities amount to "ethnic cleansing"

(BAGHDAD) — An international rights group accused the extremist Islamic State group on Tuesday of carrying out a systematic campaign of “ethnic cleansing” in northern Iraq that includes mass killings, abductions and other war crimes.

In a new report, Amnesty International said militants have abducted “hundreds, if not thousands” of women and children who belong to the ancient Yazidi faith. The extremists also have rounded up Yazidi men and boys before killing them, the London-based group said.

The 26-page report adds to a growing body of evidence outlining the scope and extent of the Islamic State group’s crimes since it began its sweep from Syria across neighboring Iraq in June. The militants have since seized much of northern and western Iraq, and have stretched as far as the outskirts of the Iraqi capital Baghdad.

On Monday, the United Nations’ top human rights body approved a request by Iraq to open an investigation into alleged crimes committed by the Islamic State group against civilians. Its aim is to provide the Human Rights Council with a report and evidence that could shed further light on Iraqi atrocities and be used as part of any international war crimes prosecution.

In its report, Amnesty detailed how Islamic State group fighters expelled Christians, Shiites, Yazidis and others from their homes. It documented several cases where the militants rounded up Yazidi men and boys and killed them in groups after overrunning their ancestral lands in Iraq’s far north.

The report also said the group had abducted of hundreds of Yazidi women and children, most of whom were still missing.

The report corresponded with reporting of those events by The Associated Press.

“The massacres and abductions being carried out by the Islamic State provide harrowing new evidence that a wave of ethnic cleansing against minorities is sweeping across northern Iraq,” said Amnesty investigator Donatella Rovera.

Two of the deadliest killings occurred in early August after the Islamic State fighters overran the Sinjar mountains area.

It was also unclear how many men and boys were killed. The Amnesty report said in two mass killings, “hundreds” of men were likely shot to death.

Yazidi lawmaker, Mahma Khalil, called on the Iraqi government and international community to urgently help the Yazidis who are still facing “continuing atrocities” by the extremist militants.

“They have been trying hard to force us to abandon our religion. We reject that because we are the oldest faith in Iraq, that has roots in Mesopotamia,” Khalil said.

TIME Military

Bowe Bergdahl Questioning on Disappearance Set to Begin

Bergdahl Being Treated At U.S. Military Hospital In Germany
UNDATED - In this undated image provided by the U.S. Army, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl poses in front of an American flag. U.S. officials say Bergdahl, the only American soldier held prisoner in Afghanistan, was exchanged for five Taliban commanders being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, according to published reports. Bergdahl is in stable condition at a Berlin hospital, according to the reports. (Photo by U.S. Army via Getty Images) U.S. Army—Getty Images

Army investigators are expected to probe allegations of desertion from Wednesday

Army investigators will begin questioning Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl on Wednesday about the circumstances leading up to his disappearance from an Afghanistan observation post and eventual capture by Taliban militants in 2009.

Bergdahl’s attorney, Eugene Fidell, told NBC News that Bergdahl will report to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Tex., where he will face questioning about his motivations to leave his encampment, which led to five years of captivity at the hands of Taliban militants.

The Obama administration negotiated Bergdahl’s release in May in exchange for five senior Taliban prisoners. Some soldiers that served with Bergdahl in Afghanistan, including his former squad leader, have accused Bergdahl of deliberately abandoning his post. Investigators will determine whether the allegations are substantial enough to file charges of desertion.

Fidell, in a previous interview with TIME, cast doubt on the assertion that Bergdahl left his post with the intention of staying away, and even then, would not necessarily face charges of desertion. “It’s utterly discretionary as a matter of clemency, a matter of judgment, and indeed even as a matter of politics,” he said.

[NBC News]

TIME Civil Rights

Report: Teenage Inmates at Rikers Island Face Institutionalized Brutality

Barbed wire fences surround a building on Rikers Island Correctional Facility in New York on Dec. 24, 2013.
Barbed wire fences surround a building on Rikers Island Correctional Facility in New York on Dec. 24, 2013. Lucas Jackson—Reuters

Correctional officers at New York City's Department of Correction use excessive brute force on teenage inmates, many of whom have mental illnesses, according to report

A report released by the federal government on Monday accused the New York City Department of Correction of failing to protect adolescents, citing a two-and-a-half-year Justice Department investigation that revealed correctional officers at three Rikers Island juvenile jails inflicted brutal force on male inmates between 16-18 years old.

The 79-page-report by the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, Preet Bharara, found that between 2011-2013 officers used excessive violence to punish inmates. In October 2012, 44% of the male teenage population had been subjected to brute force at least once. The report also found that correctional officers lacked accountability for their extreme use of force. When investigations were conducted, they were customarily untimely and incomplete. A “powerful code of silence” between staff allowed egregious offenses to go by unpunished, the Justice Department found.

One inmate said that he was heavily beaten by four officers in the hallway for cursing in the middle of a class, according to the report. A teacher told investigators that he could hear the inmate “crying and screaming for his mother” during the altercation, but failed to report the incident to avoid conflict with fellow staff members.

The findings also revealed that the most inexperienced officers were assigned to deal with inmates who had behavioral disorders and mental illnesses. Last year, over half of the 489 teenage inmates reportedly had mental illnesses. Many were sent to solitary confinement as a punitive measure, with inmates being kept by themselves from 23 hours to several months, the New York Times reports.

The report presented to Mayor Bill de Blasio and two other officials concluded, “a culture of excessive force persists, where correction officers physically abuse adolescent inmates with the expectation that they will face little or no consequences for their unlawful conduct.”

Federal attorneys offered a list of corrections to be made at Rikers, including compulsory reporting of use of force and more thorough training for all staff.

Joseph Ponte, New York City’s new correction commissioner, said in a statement that he would work to improve safety for the teenage inmates, adding that he was committed to redrafting the use of force policy to “bring it into the 21st century,” Huffington Post reported.

TIME Crime

Shooter Kills 1 at Pennsylvania Hospital

Hospital Shooting
Investigators work the scene of a shooting Thursday, July 24, at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby, Pa. AP

The suspect is in custody and injured.

A shooter opened fire in the psychiatric unit of Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby, Pennsylvania on Thursday, killing one female employee and injuring a doctor, authorities said.

The suspected shooter was also shot and is in critical condition, Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan said in a press conference Thursday afternoon. Whelan said the suspects’ injuries were not believed to be self-inflicted, but it’s still unclear who shot him.

Whelan added that the shooter had “psychiatric issues,” though police are still investigating the motive for the attack.

Mercy-Fitzgerald Hospital, a teaching hospital, is part of a regional Catholic healthcare network, Mercy Health System. It’s located several miles south of downtown Philadelphia.

TIME France

France’s Far Right Could Benefit From Sarkozy’s Legal Woes

Nicolas Sarkozy
Sarkozy's legal cloud puts his political future in doubt Kenzo Tribouillard—AFP/Getty Images

The former French President is under investigation, putting his political future under a cloud—and giving Marine Le Pen an opening

Even in a country where political scandals are a constant, the French were stunned to see their former President Nicolas Sarkozy hauled into a police station on July 1 for 15 hours of interrogation. Sarkozy was brought before judges well after midnight that day, where he was formally placed under investigation for corruption and influence peddling, relating to suspicions that Sarkozy had tried to wrest information from a senior judge about a legal case being built against him. An exhausted-looking Sarkozy was shown on television in the back of a police car, clearly shaken by his ordeal. “Is this normal?” Sarkozy asked in a national television and radio interview on the evening of July 2—his first such Q&A in two years—that had millions of viewers spellbound. “I’m profoundly shocked at what has happened.”

But besides his shock, Sarkozy, who lost his reelection bid to President François Hollande in 2012, might already be plotting his next political move—a move that could involve casting himself as the victim rather than the villain in his latest legal drama. As the French absorbed the newest accusations against Sarkozy, the ex-president has emerged in this week’s blanket media coverage as a lone wolf up against the establishment. That’s an ironic twist for a politician whose image as the consummate insider partly led to his reelection defeat. Two days after Sarkozy’s 15-hour police grilling, Sarkozy watchers say they believe he has several options ahead—not all of them bad. “He could become chief of the opposition in fighting both Hollande and the judges,” Christophe Barbier, editor of the French newsweekly L’Express, told TIME on Thursday. “That seems the most probable solution.”

Sarkozy has faced so many investigations since winning the presidency in 2007 that he and his lawyer had tried to avoid surveillance by using prepaid telephones registered in other people’s names. Police tapped those phones, however, leading them to focus on whether the two men tried to wrangle details about the case against Sarkozy from a top appeals-court judge—the subject of his grilling on Tuesday. The charges could lead judges to bring the case to trial, with Sarkozy and his lawyer Thierry Herzog potentially facing a five-year sentence and a $680,000 fine if found guilty. To say the least, that would hugely complicate Sarkozy’s ambitions for a comeback against the beleaguered President Hollande in the 2017 elections.

Even if the former president beats this new investigation, however, it is not his only legal battle. Last year, investigators finally dropped charges alleging that Sarkozy took advantage of the aging billionaire L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt by taking millions of euros from her to fund his 2007 presidential bid. But they are still probing allegations that Sarkozy sought some $68 million for his 2007 campaign from then-Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi—the investigation in which he is now suspected of interfering with the senior judge.

But this week’s grilling cuts to the heart of a deeper issue, and it is one that rankles French voters: whether the alleged behavior of Sarkozy was just business as usual for the country’s famously cloistered elites. It could be “simply part of the bullying tactics of people in power that have been tolerated so far,” says Agnès Poirier, author and columnist for the political magazine Marianne, writing in the Guardian on Wednesday. Sarkozy, says Poirier, has regularly demanded information from officials about investigations against him, including once calling the head of the French intelligence service. “If nothing else, this new episode is shedding some more light on “‘le système Sarkozy,'” Poirier said.

Still, Sarkozy is hardly ready to hang it up politically. After laying low for Hollande’s first year in office, he has spent months angling for a return, and has said he intends deciding his next moves—including a possible presidential bid—by summer’s end. Enraged and combative on television on Wednesday night, Sarkozy nonetheless worked hard to dismantle the image of himself as someone accustomed to special access. He called the new charges “grotesque,” but quickly added, “I’m not demanding any privilege.” His voice dropping to a low rasp, he said, “If I have made mistakes I will face the consequences.”

Yet some of the consequences of Sarkozy’s legal battles are already contributing to the deep disarray of French politics. Sarkozy fares much better than President Hollande in most polls, and the former president is popular among many UMP voters, with supporters mobbing him on the sidewalk after his interrogation on Tuesday. Yet the UMP is locked in its own struggle for power. Jean-Francois Copé was appointed as leader only after bitter infighting. Since he resigned in May three former prime ministers have been running the party in an awkward, interim arrangement, as they wait to see what Sarkozy will do.

In fact, there is only one clear winner in this political upheaval: Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front, which won the most French votes in the European Union elections in May, and which grabbed nearly one-quarter of the votes in France’s municipal elections last March, largely by slicing off support by disaffected UMP-ers. Pitching the two major parties as corrupt and ineffectual, Le Pen has soared in the polls. She told TIME in May that she believes she is headed for the top, that she intends running for president and that she believes that “the National Front will be in power within 10 years.”

Barbier, editor of L’Express, believes that much will depend on whether Sarkozy can cast himself as a new man: calm and reflective, rather than the volatile, temperamental man the French remember from his time in office. “If he is more calm, more tranquil, if he goes into it in that style,” Sarkozy could perhaps prevail, Barbier says. He believes Sarkozy’s first move might be to take back control of the UMP, and knock it into shape, ready for the presidential race in 2017.

Sarkozy’s makeover might already have begun. After a mostly combative TV interview on Wednesday night the former president struck a more conciliatory tone afterwards, tweeting: “I love my country passionately and I am not a man to be discouraged.” His supporters hope that passion and tenacity will be enough to carry their man through.

TIME celebrities

Hermione in Trouble Over a Housekeeper

2014 Tribeca Film Festival - "Boulevard"
Actress Emma Watson attends the premiere of "Boulevard" during the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival at BMCC Tribeca PAC on April 20, 2014 in New York City. Steve Mack--FilmMagic

Hermione in trouble over a housekeeper

In news that’s less Harry Potter and more Bling Ring, British immigration officials are investigating Emma Watson over claims that her American housekeeper might have worked for the actress illegally in the U.K.

The Harry Potter actress allegedly had her U.S. housekeeper accompany her to London on a tourist visa even though the employee continued to work for Watson while in the U.K, the Independent reports. While on tourist visas, visitors to the U.K. are forbidden from working. A spokesperson for Watson didn’t comment to the Independent.

The housekeeper, who was thought to have been hired by Watson in New York in early 2013, was reportedly stopped by British immigration officials. Authorities were said to be investigating a complaint that the housekeeper was paid to continue working for Watson in her London home for three months.

If the investigation finds Watson did employ the American at her London home without the proper work permits, the actress could face up to £10,000 ($17,000) in fines.

[The Indpendent]

TIME Military

FBI Launches Criminal Probe Into Veterans Affairs Scandal

The agency director James B. Comey said agents in Phoenix are heading up the investigation

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is launching an inquiry into possible criminal wrongdoing stemming from mismanagement at Veterans Affairs clinics, FBI Director James B. Comey said in congressional testimony Wednesday.

“We will follow wherever the facts take us,” Comey said, in response to a question from Rep. Suzan DelBene (D—WA) in a hearing of before the House Judiciary Committee.

Stories of falsified records and serious misconduct have continued to surface after it was revealed earlier this year that more than a dozen veterans may have died while awaiting care at a Phoenix VA clinic. An inspector general’s report released Monday found that more than 100,000 veterans have waited longer than 90 days to see a doctor, including 64,000 over the last decade who simply fell through the cracks, never seeing a VA doctor after seeking an appointment.

The unfolding scandal brought down former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, who resigned under pressure from critics on May 30.

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