TIME Malaysia

Malaysia Releases Opposition Leader’s Daughter After ‘Sedition’ Arrest

Lawmaker and a vice-president of the People's Justice Party Nurul Izzah Anwar, speaks to protesters as they gather to demand the freedom of her father, Anwar Ibrahim, in downtown Kuala Lumpur, March 7, 2015.
Vincent Thian—AP Nurul Izzah Anwar, lawmaker and vice president of the People's Justice Party, speaks to protesters as they gather to demand the freedom of her father Anwar Ibrahim in Kuala Lumpur on March 7, 2015

Critics have slammed Nurul Izzah Anwar’s arrest as the nation's latest crackdown on dissent

Nurul Izzah Anwar, a Malaysian lawmaker and the eldest daughter of jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, was released Tuesday after being arrested under the colonial era charge of “sedition.”

According to the Straits Times, Nurul Izzah, 34, was freed on bail after making a statement.

Nurul Izzah, the vice president of the People’s Justice Party, had voluntarily gone to the police on Monday to answer questions over an opposition rally, but was detained for a parliamentary speech she made last week, in which she criticized the conviction of her father, who was sentenced to five years imprisonment for sodomy last month, reports the BBC.

Anwar, 67, denies all charges, which have been slammed by human rights groups as politically motivated.

In the speech, Nurul Izzah read out a statement written by her father that questioned the independence of Malaysia’s judiciary.

The Southeast Asian country has parliamentary privilege and so normally lawmakers are not liable for criminal or civil actions over what they say in the house.

Critics slammed Nurul Izzah’s arrest as the latest attempt by the government to stifle dissent.

Prime Minister Najib Razak had promised to scrap the much maligned Sedition Act after protests in 2012. But last year he reneged on the pledge and since then a growing number of politicians and government critics have been investigated or charged under the antiquated law.

Nurul Izzah’s mother, who is also president of her People’s Justice Party, gave thanks on Twitter for her release.

TIME celebrities

Mitt Romney to Fight Evander Holyfield in Charity Bout

Mitt Romney is greeted by fellow Republicans at a dinner during the Republican National Committee's Annual Winter Meeting aboard the USS Midway on Jan. 16, 2015 in San Diego.
Sandy Huffaker—Getty Images Mitt Romney is greeted by fellow Republicans at a dinner during the Republican National Committee's Annual Winter Meeting aboard the USS Midway on Jan. 16, 2015 in San Diego.

"It will either be a very short fight, or I will be knocked unconscious"

Forget about Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, the real fight of the century is scheduled for May 15 when Mitt Romney enters the ring to battle Evander Holyfield in Salt Lake City.

Yes, you read that right. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, and Holyfield, the five-time heavyweight titleholder who smacked around the likes of Mike Tyson and George Foreman, are going to lace up gloves and duke it out in a charity exhibition.

However, Romney has no delusions about actually winning this contest.

“It will either be a very short fight, or I will be knocked unconscious,” Romney told the Salt Lake City Tribune. “It won’t be much of a fight. We’ll both suit up and get in the ring and spar around a little bit.”

A portion of the proceeds will help support Charity Vision, which provides doctors and facilities in poverty-stricken areas with equipment and resources to carry out eye operations.

[The Salt Lake City Tribune]

TIME Social Security

Flawed Social Security Data Says 6.5 Million in U.S. Reach Age 112

Social Security I.D. Cards
Duckycards—Getty Images Social Security Cards

In reality, there are only 42 people that old worldwide

(WASHINGTON D.C.) — Americans are getting older, but not this old: Social Security records show that 6.5 million people in the U.S. have reached the ripe old age of 112.

In reality, only few could possibly be alive. As of last fall, there were only 42 people known to be that old in the entire world.

But Social Security does not have death records for millions of these people, with the oldest born in 1869, according to a report by the agency’s inspector general.

Only 13 of the people are still getting Social Security benefits, the report said. But for others, their Social Security numbers are still active, so a number could be used to report wages, open bank accounts, obtain credit cards or claim fraudulent tax refunds.

“That is a real problem,” said Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis. “When you have a fake Social Security number, that’s what allows you to fraudulently do all kinds things, claim things like the earned income tax credit or other tax benefits.”

Johnson is chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, which plans a hearing Monday on problems with death records maintained by the Social Security Administration.

The agency said it is working to improve the accuracy of its death records. But it would be costly and time-consuming to update 6.5 million files that were generated decades ago, when the agency used paper records, said Sean Brune, a senior adviser to the agency’s deputy commissioner for budget, finance, quality and management.

“The records in this review are extremely old, decades-old, and unreliable,” Brune said.

The internal watchdog’s report does not document any fraudulent or improper payments to people using these Social Security numbers. But it raises red flags that it could be happening.

For example, nearly 67,000 of the Social Security numbers were used to report more than $3 billion in wages, tips and self-employment income from 2006 to 2011, according to the report. One Social Security number was used 613 different times. An additional 194 numbers were used at least 50 times each.

People in the country illegally often use fake or stolen Social Security numbers to get jobs and report wages, as do other people who do not want to be found by the government. Thieves use stolen Social Security numbers to claim fraudulent tax refunds.

The IRS estimated it paid out $5.8 billion in fraudulent tax refunds in 2013 because of identity theft. The head of the Justice Department’s tax division described how it’s done at a recent congressional hearing.

“The plan is frighteningly simple — steal Social Security numbers, file tax returns showing a false refund claim, and then have the refunds electronically deposited or sent to an address where the offender can access the refund checks,” said acting Assistant Attorney General Caroline Ciraolo.

In some cases, she said, false tax returns are filed using Social Security numbers of deceased taxpayers or others who are not required to file.

The Social Security Administration generates a list of dead people to help public agencies and private companies know when Social Security numbers are no longer valid for use. The list is called the Death Master File, which includes the name, Social Security number, date of birth and date of death for people who have died.

The list is widely used by employers, financial firms, credit reporting agencies and security firms. Federal agencies and state and local governments rely on it to police benefit payments.

But none of the 6.5 million people cited by the inspector general’s report was on the list. The audit analyzed records as of 2013, looking for people with birth dates before 1901.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act in 1935, and the first old-age monthly benefit check was paid in 1940.

Many of the people cited in the inspector general’s report never received benefits, though they were assigned Social Security numbers so spouses and children could receive them, presumably after they died.

The agency says it has corrected death information in more than 200,000 records. But fixing the entire list would be costly and time-consuming because Social Security needs proof that a person is dead to add them to the death list, said Brune, the agency official.

Brune noted that the inspector general’s report did not verify that any of the 6.5 million people are actually dead. Instead, the report assumed they are dead because of their advanced age.

“We can’t post information to our records based on presumption,” Brune said. “We post information to our records based on evidence, and in this case it would be evidence of a death certificate.”

“Some of those records may not even exist,” Brune added.

Nearly all the Social Security numbers are from paper records generated before the agency started using electronic records in 1972, Brune said. Many of the records contain errors, with multiple birthdates and bits of information about different family members.

“We did transcribe paper records into the electronic system and over time that information’s been purified,” Brune said.

“But our focus right now is to make sure our data is as accurate and complete as it can be for our current program purpose,” said Brune. “Right now, we’re focused on making sure we’re paying beneficiaries properly, and that’s how we’re investing our resources at this time.”

TIME Research

Liberals are More Honest Than Conservatives When They Smile

President Barack Obama speaks at Georgia Tech
David Goldman—AP

But conservatives report being happier

In the “who’s happier?” race, a whole body of research shows conservatives report being happier. Four new studies published in Science hint at a possible reason why. Most happiness research is based on subjective, self-reported data, as opposed to objective measures of happiness, which can be harder to study. The new research highlights a difference between the two.

The studies, led by Sean Wojcik, a doctoral student in psychology and social behavior at the University of California, Irvine, first confirmed what’s already known: In a survey of 1,433 people, political conservatives reported being more satisfied with life than liberals. But researchers found another pronounced trend else among conservatives: They were more likely to judge themselves and their circumstances in an overly positive way.

That may explain the happiness gap, the researchers thought. To test it, they embarked on a series of studies. In one, they analyzed transcripts from Congress to determine the kinds of emotionally charged language people used, and found that liberals used more positive words than conservatives. In another study, researchers assessed photos of Congress members and gauged the smiling intensity of the delegates, finding that liberals were more intense and genuine smilers. “We saw greater activation of the muscles around the eye,” says Wojcik. “That typically indicates more genuine feelings of happiness and enjoyment.” The same held true in non-politician liberals, according to an analysis of the profile photos of liberally and conservatively aligned LinkedIn users.

So when conservatives say they’re happier, but liberals actually display happier behavior, who is, in fact, happiest?

It’s impossible to call. “It really depends on how you measure and define happiness,” Wojcik says.

Wojcik says he plans to study the impact of the benefits of this kind of “self-enhancement” seen in conservatives but less in liberals. So far, research suggests it’s related to an increased ability to care for others, more creative and productive work and better mental health, Wojcik says.

“It’s not that conservatives are lying about their happiness,” Wojcik says. “They just have a more confident style of self-assessment where they evaluate themselves positively across a whole bunch of different kinds of traits, and happiness just appears to be one of them.”

TIME Economy

How FDR’s Radio Voice Solved a Banking Crisis

A Fireside Chat
MPI / Getty Images Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivering one of his fireside chats to the nation, circa 1935

Mar. 12, 1933: FDR delivers the first of his 30 “fireside chats,” addressing America’s dire financial situation

March of 1933 was a terrifying month for Americans. A quarter of the nation’s workers were unemployed. Farmers and bankers alike suddenly lost their livelihood. Stocks were down 75% from 1929 — and in those four years the suicide rate had tripled.

In New Orleans, hundreds of tourists in town for Mardi Gras found themselves stranded on March 2, with no money to get home, after Louisiana shuttered its failing banks. By the next day, 21 more states had followed suit. When Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office on March 4 — the last such term of office before Inauguration Day moved to January — his first act was to declare a national bank holiday to stall the run on banks that was quickly liquidating the Federal Reserve.

It was under these grim circumstances that FDR broadcast the first of his 30 “fireside chats” on this day, March 12, in 1933. These speeches, and his frank, down-to-earth manner, may have been the most effective tactic used to soothe the panicked public since the beginning of the Great Depression.

His language was inclusive. “My friends,” he began, “I want to talk for a few minutes with the people of the United States about banking.”

And it was intentionally simple. “I recognize that the many proclamations … couched for the most part in banking and legal terms, ought to be explained for the benefit of the average citizen,” he went on. “I owe this in particular because of the fortitude and the good temper with which everybody has accepted the inconvenience and the hardships of the banking holiday.”

These fireside chats were not literally delivered by the fireside. As TIME noted in 1937, they were broadcast from the White House Diplomatic Room, which has no fireplace. But the speeches, which ran anywhere from 11 minutes to more than 40 — depending on the speech itself and the number of “persuasive pauses,” per TIME — gave Roosevelt a chance to explain and defend his New Deal policies. They were known for their comforting effect on an uneasy populace, as much during the Depression as they later were during World War II.

While future presidents followed FDR’s lead, using the technology of their times (Obama broadcasts his own addresses via YouTube and has reached out to millennials on Reddit, Instagram and Twitter), it would be difficult to name anyone who did it better than Roosevelt. After this first chat, he was inundated with fan mail from listeners who felt they now knew him intimately. Herbert Hoover had averaged 5,000 letters a week; FDR got 50,000, according to “FDR’s First 100 Days,” a publication by the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library & Museum.

“The broadcast brought you so close to us, and you spoke in such clear concise terms, our confidence in the Bank Holiday was greatly strengthened,” wrote one California woman.

She was not alone. Sixty million people listened to Roosevelt’s first radio address; the next day, per the Roosevelt Library, “newspapers around the country reported long lines of people waiting to put their money back into the banks. The immediate crisis had passed.”

Read original 1933 coverage of the state of the economy at the time of Roosevelt’s inauguration, here in the TIME archives: The Presidency: Bottom

TIME nation

The American Century Isn’t Over

I'm the Foreign Editor at TIME, handing international news in the magazine and online. Previously I covered energy and environmental issues for TIME, and was the Tokyo bureau chief in 2006 and 2007.

China won't end U.S. dominance—but political gridlock and isolationism could

As Harvard political scientist Joseph Nye takes a seat, he glances at the portrait that looms over the conference room. “There he is,” says Nye.

“He” is Henry Luce, the founder of TIME and LIFE magazines. (Hence the portrait–we’re at TIME’s offices.) In a 1941 editorial in LIFE, Luce urged the U.S. to enter World War II to defend democratic values and “create the first great American century.”

That term became shorthand for the period of U.S. geopolitical dominance that began around the end of the war. But from the moment the American century was born, Americans have fretted over threats to the country’s pre-eminence. In the 1950s the Soviet Union seemed poised to bury the U.S.; in the 1980s the Japanese were going to outwork lazy Americans.

Today a rising China is the great rival. A 2013 Pew poll of 39 countries found that most people believed China already was or would eventually become the world’s leading superpower–and that included nearly half of Americans.

To which Nye says: Not so fast. A pioneer in the theory of soft power and the dean of American political scientists, Nye knows geopolitics. In his new book, Is the American Century Over?, Nye makes a strong case that American geopolitical superiority, far from being eclipsed, is still firmly in place and set to endure. And the biggest threat isn’t China or India or Russia–it’s America itself.

It’s easy to forget what a global behemoth the U.S. remains today. Take military power: the U.S. not only spends four times more on defense than the No. 2 country, China, but it also spends more than the next eight countries combined. The U.S. Navy controls the seas, and the country’s military has troops on every inhabited continent. America’s armed forces have become more dominant since the dawn of Luce’s American century–not less. For nearly 50 years after World War II, U.S. power was checked by the Soviet Union. No longer.

The relative decline of American economic clout might seem obvious. By one measurement, China has already passed the U.S. to become the world’s largest economy. But that’s in part a trick of perspective. In 1945, thanks largely to the devastation of World War II, the U.S. produced nearly half the world’s GDP. By 1970 that share had fallen to about one-quarter, but as Nye points out, that was less a matter of American decline than a global return to normality. Nearly half of the top 500 international companies are owned by U.S. citizens, and 19 of the top 25 global brands are American.

But the most important reason the U.S. will continue to dominate is the lack of a viable rival. Nye dismisses each in turn: the European Union is too fractured, Japan is too old, Russia is too corrupt, India is too poor, Brazil is too unproductive.

As for China, Nye expects that as the country keeps growing, it will take up more space on the international stage. But Beijing faces major internal challenges that could derail its rise: a polluted environment, an aging population and inefficient state-owned industries. More important, China conspicuously lacks the ingredient that has made the U.S. unique–an openness toward immigrants. “As Lee Kuan Yew once told me,” Nye says, referring to the founding father of modern Singapore, “‘China can draw on a talent pool of 1.3 billion people, but the U.S. can draw on the world’s 7 billion.'”

It’s the potential loss of that openness that worries Nye. Should the U.S. decide to shut its borders or turn its back on international affairs–two recurring impulses in U.S. history–all bets are off. If political gridlock becomes permanent or income inequality keeps rising, that too could threaten American supremacy. “The question is whether we’ll keep living up to our potential,” says Nye.

He bets yes–and believes that on the whole, that’s a good thing for the world. A strong U.S. has helped keep tensions in check in East Asia and has worked to integrate a rising China into the existing international system. In July a NASA probe will visit Pluto for the first time ever, and our exploration of the solar system–led from start to finish by the U.S.–will be complete.

America is far from faultless: the invasion of Iraq and intransigence on climate change stand out as two major mistakes. But it’s difficult to imagine that the world would be a better place if Vladimir Putin’s Russia or Xi Jinping’s China were running things. “I believe this is a different country,” says Nye. Henry Luce couldn’t have said it better.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Utah

Utah Lawmakers Vote to Permit Firing-Squad Executions if Lethal Injection Unavailable

The move still has to be inked by Governor Gary Herbert

Utah legislators on Tuesday passed a bill that, if ratified by Governor Gary Herbert, will allow inmate executions by firing squad in the event that lethal-injection drugs are unavailable.

The bill, passed through the state senate by an 18-10 vote, will make Utah the only state in America with such a provision. Herbert, a Republican, won’t comment on whether he will sign the bill until he has had time to review the final legislation.

But in a statement, the governor’s office told TIME, “Our state, as is the case with states around the country, is finding it increasingly difficult to obtain the substances required to perform a lethal injection … if those substances cannot be obtained, this proposal would make sure that those instructed to carry out the lawful order of the court and the carefully deliberated decision of the jury can do so.”

In 2004, Utah phased out the option of choosing execution by firing squad, but there remains a group of inmates who were sentenced before and so can still be executed in this manner. The last instance was in 2010 when Ronnie Lee Gardner, convicted of murder, was executed.

Wyoming, Oklahoma and Tennessee are also in the process of finding alternative execution methods.

Last year’s botched execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma — in which an untested blend of drugs led to a drawn-out and supposedly painful death — brought national scrutiny to the merits of lethal injections.

MONEY Economy

Most Americans Know Nothing About the Most Powerful Person in the Economy

Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen
Susan Walsh—AP Can you name this mystery woman?

Including her name

Does the name Janet Yellen mean anything to you? If so, that puts you ahead of most Americans.

To recap for the majority, Yellen is the chair of the Federal Reserve. As the central bank of the United States, the Fed sets monetary policy for the largest economy on earth. That includes things like keeping the dollar’s value stable and instituting policies to stimulate the economy, such as low interest rates and the now-completed quantitative easing program, during which the Federal Reserve bought $4.5 trillion worth of bonds.

So Yellen is kind of a big deal.

But most Americans don’t even know the chairwoman’s name. According to a NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 70% of the nation has no idea who Janet Yellen is. However, 92% of respondents said they were familiar with the Federal Reserve. That’s kind of like the vast majority of Americans saying they’d heard of the presidency, but couldn’t name the guy in office.

Too be fair, it’s understandable that Yellen would be less known than, say, Barack Obama, considering the policy-wonk nature of her work. After all, listening to someone talk about the finer points of macroeconomics isn’t most people’s idea of a good time.

And while most Americans may not know who Yellen is or what, exactly, the Fed does, they are clear on one thing: they want elected officials to keep out of its business.

TIME politics

How Hillary Clinton Fared the First Time She Was in the Hot Seat

Facing questions on her role in the Whitewater controversy in 1994, Clinton's response was described then as cool and measured

On Tuesday afternoon, Hillary Rodham Clinton is expected to hold a press conference to take questions on last week’s revelation that she exclusively used a personal email account instead of a government account during her time as Secretary of State.

The decision to take questions on a controversy after a period of silence calls to mind a press conference Clinton gave on April 22, 1994, regarding the Whitewater scandal. Remembered by some as the “Pretty in Pink” press conference for the hue of Clinton’s suit, the 72-minute Q&A came months after reporters began demanding that the then-First Lady discuss her role in criticized commodity trades and an Arkansas land deal first reported on in 1992.

The press conference, which the Clintons had been considering for weeks but scheduled only the night before, gave Clinton the opportunity to reclaim control of the narrative, and according to press reports from the time, she nailed it. As TIME’s Michael Duffy wrote then:

What happened was a riveting hour and 12 minutes in which the First Lady appeared to be open, candid, but above all unflappable. While she provided little new information on the tangled Arkansas land deal or her controversial commodity trades, the real message was her attitude and her poise. The confiding tone and relaxed body language, which was seen live on four networks, immediately drew approving reviews.

Clinton also explained the unfavorable attention she was receiving as a reaction to the unusually high level of influence she held as a First Lady. “We don’t fit easily into a lot of our pre-existing categories,” she said of her family, “And I think that, having been independent, having made decisions, it’s a little difficult for us as a country, maybe, to make the transition of having a woman like many of the women in this room, sitting in this house.”

Her ability to muster the same measured confidence in response to criticism will undoubtedly figure prominently in her chances of sitting in that house again.

Read coverage of the 1994 press conference here, in the TIME Vault: Open and Unflappable

TIME cities

San Francisco Lawmakers Take on Big Soda Again

Three lawmakers plan to introduce three pieces of legislation tackling sugary drinks

Big Soda beat San Francisco lawmakers in 2014, when the industry spent $10 million to defeat a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages and narrowly succeeded. Now three lawmakers are returning fire with new measures aimed at reducing residents’ consumption of beverages that have been linked to health problems such as obesity and diabetes.

One of the proposals would make the city the first to require that advertisements for drinks like soda—on billboards, atop cabs, outside convenience stores—carry a warning label like cigarette advertising does. San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener, the man behind that plan, anticipates that hundreds of locations around the city would be spreading this message:

WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay. This is a message from the City and County of San Francisco.

“The big picture here is that these drinks are fueling an explosion of Type 2 diabetes and other health problems and we have a responsibility as policy-makers to act to protect public health,” Wiener says. “It’s a big problem and it’s only getting worse.” The measure would only affect new poster-like advertisements, so while the 80-foot tall sculpture of a Coke bottle at AT&T Park is safe, any new ads pitching fans on Pepsi inside the stadium would have a label to bear. The measure requires that the warnings take up at least 20% of the ad’s area for drinks that have added sweeteners and more than 25 calories per 12 oz. (Natural fruit juice, formula and milk get a pass.)

A complementary piece of legislation set to be introduced by Supervisor Malia Cohen would ban advertisements for sugary drinks on publicly owned property such as transit shelters; ads for alcohol and tobacco are already non grata in those spaces. Another measure, from Supervisor Eric Mar, would ban city departments or contractors from using city funds to purchase sugary drinks. Former Mayor Gavin Newsom, who called sodas “the new tobacco,” issued an executive order in 2010 banishing high-calorie soft drinks from vending machines on city property. The latter measure would give that sentiment the force of law.

The language in Wiener’s proposal was borrowed from a bill in Sacramento. In February, state Sen. Bill Monning reintroduced a measure that would require similar warning labels to be plastered across the front of sugary drinks themselves or at their point of purchase. Monning introduced a similar bill last year, which passed the Senate and then failed to make it out of committee in the state Assembly. “This bill will give Californians the at-a-glance information they need to make more healthful choices every day,” he said in announcing that he’d go another round in 2015. If his measure passes, it too would be a first for the nation.

During the fight to pass the soda tax in San Francisco, proponents like Wiener argued that history has proven education simply isn’t enough on its own. As he pursues this educational reform, he won’t say whether he’s going to try for a soda tax again. But he lauds the success health advocates had across the bay in Berkeley, where voters passed the nation’s first soda tax last year, and he says there is momentum for more of the same. “There are discussions happening,” he says. “But it’s too soon to say.”

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