TIME White House

Obama Administration Can Now Sanction Foreign Hackers

President Obama Holds News Conference At The White House
Leigh Vogel—WireImage President Barack Obama holds a press conference during which he discussed Sony Pictures' decision not to release "The Interview" in wake of the alleged North Korean hacking scandal at The White House on December 19, 2014 in Washington, DC.

President Obama added a new tool to respond to cyber attacks, authorizing the federal government to levy sanctions against suspected hackers.

Under an executive order signed Wednesday, the Secretary of Treasury can freeze assets of those who engage in “malicious cyber-enabled activity” anywhere in the world so long as that activity is dangerous to the national security, foreign policy or economic stability of America.

The White House is not currently targeting anyone for cyber-related sanctions, but Administration officials said on a conference call they felt it was important to have the framework in place.

The sanctions come in the wake of several high-profile cyber-attacks including Target andJ.P. Morgan Chase as well as a hack of entertainment giant Sony that was blamed on North Korea.

Though the Sony hack led to the first U.S. government imposed sanctions related to a cyber attack, White House officials said Wednesday they have never before had the authority to punish individuals based on the activity, rather than the region or country responsible.

“What we’re trying to do is enable us to have a new way of both deterring [action] and imposing new costs against cyber actors wherever they may be,” said Michael Daniel, a special assistant to the President and cyber-security coordinator.

White House officials say the new sanctions are not meant to replace the existing tools that the Obama administration has put in place to confront cyber threats, but rather to “fill in the gaps.” Under the authority, officials would also be able to target businesses that use illegally obtained trade secrets or information to gain an unfair edge, and individuals and companies that give or attempt to give serious hackers a financial boost.

“We don’t want to just deter those with their fingers on the keyboard,” he said.

TIME Tunisia

Star Wars Landmarks Safe From ISIS, Tunisian Officials Say

TUNISIA-TOURISM-ECONOMY-FILM-STAR WARS
Fethi Belaid—AFP/Getty Images A picture taken on May 2, 2014 shows, amidst desert sand, a film set where numerous Star Wars scenes were filmed in Ong Jmel, in southern Tunisia.

Tourism officials say the sets are unaffected by ISIS

Tourism officials in Tunisia say that landmarks made famous in the original Star Wars movie are safe from Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) militants, despite reports that the town of Tataouine was a “way-station” for ISIS.

The initial report by CNN was “without foundation,” Mohammed Sayem of the Tunisian tourism commission told the AP. The town, known as Luke Skywalker’s home planet of “Tatooine” in Star Wars, is actually hundreds of miles away from the primary film shooting locations near Tozeur.

Col. Mokhtar Hammami of the National Guard said the area is being patrolled by 1,500 men and that “all is normal, in fact we’ve seen a big influx of foreign tourists and Tunisians.”

The Wrap reports that the desert scenes for the next film, Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, were filmed in Abu Dhabi last year.

[AP]

TIME Tunisia

Watch the Moments Before the Tunisia Museum Attack

Tourists flee when they hear gunshots

A tourist has released a video showing the moments before the attack on the National Bardo Museum in Tunisia last week. The video, taken by Italian tourist Maria Tira Gelotti, shows a group of tourists exploring the museum in Tunisia’s capital Tunis when they hear gunshots and realize it is under attack.

“Did they shoot? Did they shoot?” a woman asks in Italian. The group flees when they hear a second round of automatic gunfire.

The attack killed 20 tourists. At least two gunmen opened fire after getting off buses at the museum inside the parliament compound. Both were later shot dead by police, and authorities say they are still searching for a third suspect.

The Bardo Museum held a ceremonial reopening Tuesday.

[NBC]

Read next: Deadly Museum Attack Highlights Tunisia’s Internal Struggles

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: March 23

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Modern American life — from smartphones to cars and even missiles — depends on rare earth elements. But we’ve let China take over the industry.

By Lesley Stahl on 60 Minutes

2. Men in New York own 2.5 times as many businesses as women. A new program aims to innovate against that gap.

By Alexis Stephens in Next City

3. In 2014, global violence surged, drawing a sharp contrast between the developed world and everywhere else.

By Peter Apps in the Project for the Study of the 21st Century

4. Tunisia’s response to a terrorist attack provides a hopeful model.

By the editorial board of the Christian Science Monitor

5. Want to change how you see the world? Rewire your brain by learning a second language.

By Nicholas Weiler in Science Magazine

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

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 Singapore

Late Singapore Leader Lee Kuan Yew Had Opinions on Everything

Singapore's former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, March 20, 2013 in Singapore
Wong Maye-E—AP Singapore's former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, March 20, 2013 in Singapore

Singapore's founding father shared his opinions on everything from democracy and leadership to terrorism and his late wife

Lee Kuan Yew had a strong opinion about most anything. As he once said, “I have been accused of many things in my life, but not even my worst enemy has ever accused me of being afraid to speak my mind.” Here’s a sampling of his other pronouncements over the decades:

On Singapore

We have created this out of nothingness, from 150 souls in a minor fishing village into the biggest metropolis two degrees north of the equator.

I have had to sing four national anthems: Britain’s “God Save the Queen,” Japan’s “Kimigayo,” Malaysia’s “Negara Ku,” and finally Singapore’s “Majulah Singapura;” such were the political upheavals of the last 60 years.

One arm of my strategy was to make Singapore into an oasis in Southeast Asia, for if we had First World standards, then businessmen and tourists would make us a base for their business and tours of the region.

To succeed, Singapore must be a cosmopolitan center, able to attract, retain, and absorb talent from all over the world.

Singapore is now a brand name.

My greatest satisfaction comes from … mustering the will to make this place meritocratic, corruption-free and equal for all races—and that it will endure beyond me.

On Democracy

One person, one vote is a most difficult form of government. From time to time, the results can be erratic. People are sometimes fickle. They get bored with stable, steady improvements in life, and in a reckless moment, they vote for a change for change’s sake.

In new countries, democracy has worked and produced results only when there is an honest and effective government, which means a people smart enough to elect such a government. Elected governments are only as good as the people who choose them.

Contrary to what American political commentators say, I do not believe that democracy necessarily leads to development. I believe that what a country needs to develop is discipline more than democracy. The exuberance of democracy leads to undisciplined and disorderly conditions which are inimical to development. The ultimate test of the value of a political system is whether it helps that society to establish conditions which improve the standard of living for the majority of its people, plus enabling the maximum of personal freedoms compatible with the freedoms of others in society.

There is no level playing-field of any government helping the opposition to win votes.

The weakness of democracy is that the assumption that all men are equal and capable of equal contribution to the common good is flawed.

On the U.S.

For the next two to three decades, America will remain the sole superpower. The U.S. is the most militarily powerful and economically dynamic country in the world. It is the engine for global growth through its innovation, productivity, and consumption. Today and for the next few decades, it is the U.S that will be preeminent in setting the rules of the game.

What has made the U.S. economy preeminent is its entrepreneurial culture … Entrepreneurs and investors alike see risk and failure as natural and necessary for success. When they fail, they pick themselves up and start afresh.

On Terrorism

Militant Islam feeds upon the insecurities and alienation that globalization generates among the less successful. And because globalization is largely U.S.-led and driven, militant Islam identifies America and Americans as the threat to Islam. That America steadfastly supports Israel aggravates their sense of threat.

The war against terrorism will be long and arduous.

On China

China’s history of over 4,000 years was one of dynastic rulers, interspersed with anarchy, foreign conquerors, warlords and dictators. The Chinese people had never experienced a government based on counting heads instead of chopping off heads. Any revolution toward representative government would be gradual.

China’s neighbors are unconvinced by China’s ritual phrases that all countries big and small are equal or that China will never seek hegemony.

If the U.S. tries to thwart China’s growth, China will surely want to return the compliment when it can do so.

China wants to be China and accepted as such, not as an honorary member of the West.

On Leadership

I was never a prisoner of any theory. What guided me were reason and reality. The acid test I applied to every theory or scheme was: Would it work?

The acid test is in performance, not promises.

It is not from weakness that one commands respect.

As long as the leaders take care of their people, they will obey the leaders.

On His Late Wife, and Life and Death

She’s gone. All that is left behind are her ashes. I will be gone and all that will be left behind will be ashes. For reasons of sentiment, well, put them together. But to meet in afterlife? Too good to be true.

There is an end to everything and I want mine to come as quickly and painlessly as possible, not with me incapacitated, half in coma in bed and with a tube going into my nostrils and down to my stomach. In such cases, one is little more than a body.

Do not intervene to save life. Let me go naturally.

I am not given to making sense out of life, or coming up with some grand narrative of it. I have done what I had wanted to, to the best of my ability. I am satisfied.

Sources: Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master’s Insights on China, the United States, and the World; Lee Kuan Yew: One Man’s View of the World; The Wit & Wisdom of Lee Kuan Yew

Read next: Global Leaders Pay Respects After the Passing of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Crime

How a Religious Sect Rooted in Yoga Became a Terrorist Group

Wearing gas masks, members of the Japan
JIJI PRESS-JSDF—AFP/Getty Images Wearing gas masks, members of the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) clean up subway cars late on March 20, 1995

March 20, 1995: Twelve people are killed and thousands sickened when members of a religious cult release nerve gas in the Tokyo subway

Shoko Asahara admired Hitler, so it was perhaps fitting that when the cult leader set out to terrorize Tokyo, he used a nerve gas called sarin, first developed in Nazi Germany. The Nazis had never used the highly potent chemical, which they’d originally produced as a pesticide, against Allied forces during World War II. Asahara is one of the few people in history to have unleashed it on the public.

On this day, March 20, in 1995, 12 people were killed and thousands were sickened in Tokyo when members of Asahara’s cult, Aum Shinrikyo, released sarin during the Monday-morning rush hour in one of the world’s most crowded subway systems. Members of the cult used the tips of their umbrellas to puncture plastic bags filled with liquid sarin on five crowded cars before hurrying off at subway stops and leaving their fellow riders trapped with the toxic gas.

It was an unusual move for a religious movement based on Buddhist and Hindu principles and centered on the practice of yoga, but Asahara was an unusual spiritual leader. TIME described him, in a 1995 story about the gas attack, as a long-haired, bushy-bearded bully, “usually pictured wearing satiny pajamas,” who claimed he could levitate and promised to give his followers superhuman powers.

And although Aum Shinrikyo, which translates as Aum Supreme Truth, began as a yoga school in 1987, it evolved into a doomsday cult focused on the apocalypse that Asahara said was on its way. He prophesied that government efforts to shut down his sect would signal the beginning of the end, and that Armageddon would take the form of a chemical attack by the U.S., leaving only his own followers and 10% of the rest of the world. Asahara’s cult attracted a substantial following, despite his paranoia and violent tendencies. TIME explained:

By 1994 Aum boasted 36 Japanese branches with 10,000 members and a raft of international offices. Some, like the one in midtown Manhattan, offer little more than cheap videotapes of the master’s lectures to fewer than 100 members. But in Russia, another country experiencing a spiritual land rush, the cult has been successful: it has six offices and somewhere between 10,000 and 40,000 adherents.

The cult’s popularity took a hit after the subway attacks, especially when Asahara and 11 other members were convicted and sentenced to death. But diehard devotees stayed loyal, and the group, which has since changed its name to Aleph, even attracted some new members. TIME interviewed a disciple in 2002 who said that the spiritual leader’s inscrutability was part of his appeal.

“It was always hard to tell what he was thinking,” she told TIME. “He never did what you expected him to.”

Read TIME’s 1995 story about Shoko Asahara, here in the archives: JAPAN’S PROPHET OF POISON: Shoko Asahara

TIME Australia

The Café at the Center of the Sydney Siege Reopened Today

AUSTRALIA-TERROR-SIEGE-CAFE-OPEN
Peter Parks — AFP/Getty Images A staff member cleans the front door windows ahead of the re-opening of the Lindt Cafe at Martin Place in Sydney on March 20, 2015.

Plaques adorn the wall to honor the memory of two hostages killed

Coffee was brewed again, chocolate prepared and pastries sold at Lindt Café in Sydney on Friday morning, as the establishment reopened its doors months after it made international headlines in the wake of a hostage crisis that ended in bloodshed.

Hundreds customers snaked around the block and waited patiently in line to enter Lindt Café. Louie Doumit, who ordered the day’s first brew — a flat white — said he came to shop to prove that terrorism had not prevailed.

“It sends a strong message to all those people out there, any terrorists, we are not just going to give in to what they want or give in to their demands,” said Doumit, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

During an early morning ceremony, New South Wales Premier Mike Baird said the reopening of the café was an “incredibly important step” for Sydney.

Three people died, including the armed perpetrator, when police commandos stormed the café last December after Man Haron Monis held 17 people at gunpoint for more than 16 hours in the central business district of Australia’s largest city.

Two plaques now adorn the walls of Lindt to honor the memories of former manager Tori Johnson and customer Katrina Dawson, who were killed during the siege.

Survivor Joel Herat said getting back behind the counter and working with his fellow employees has been instrumental to his healing process.

“It was extremely important for me to be here and support Lindt and support the people I work with,” Herat told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

TIME Tunisia

Tunisia Reels From a Terror Attack Possibly Linked to ISIS

ISIS claims responsibility for a terror attack in Tunis that killed over 20 people

With Tunisians reeling from the terror attack that killed 18 foreign tourists on Wednesday in the heart of their capital, the government scrambled to try avert any further attacks, while accounting for how gunmen were able to mount the deadliest operation in decades, in broad daylight and with seemingly little difficulty.

Late Wednesday, security forces arrested nine people, five of whom were believed to be directly connected to the attack on the National Bardo Museum, according to Tunisia’s presidential office, which said the suspects were part of a terror “cell.” In the worst attack on foreigners in 13 years—and with the highest death toll perhaps ever—two gunmen cornered the tourists in the museum parking lot early Wednesday afternoon, massacring several of them, before holding several others under siege inside. Security forces stormed the building about four hours later, killing the attackers and freeing the hostages. Among those killed were tourists from Spain, Italy, Poland and Germany, most of whom were passengers on a Mediterranean cruise-liner that had stopped for a day of sight seeing in Tunis.

As the shock sank in on Wednesday night, 88-year-old Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi, who took office only in January after the country’s first presidential elections, vowed an all-out fight against jihadists. Tunisia, he said in a televised address, was “in a war with terror, and these savage minority groups will not frighten us. The fight against them will continue until they are exterminated.” Parliament on Thursday pledged more funds to beef up security and intelligence.

Yet despite the aggressive talk, Tunisians wondered whether their country’s security has been too lax, and how the growing threats within this small country of 11 million people had gone unnoticed. On Thursday, Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid admitted that one of the two gunman had been under surveillance, although it appeared that Tunisia’s security forces did not have information linking him to a specific militant organization. “He was known to the security services, he was flagged and monitored,” said Essid, speaking to the French network RTL. “We are in the process of further investigation. We cannot say which organization they belong to.”

Despite that, early suspicions of who was behind Wednesday’s attack point to the Islamic State of Iraq and greater Syria (ISIS). Tunisian analysts speculated on Wednesday that the attack on the museum might have been timed in retaliation for the death earlier this week of Ahmed al-Rouissi, one of Tunisia’s most wanted militants, who was killed fighting with ISIS in the Libyan city of Sirt.

On Thursday, the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist organizations, provided an English translation of an ISIS audio statement to the New York Times, in which the organization claimed responsibility for the tourist massacre, and warned of more violence to come. “We tell the apostates who sit on the chest of Muslim Tunisia: Wait for the glad tidings of what will harm you, impure ones, for what you have seen today is the first drop of the rain, God willing,” the paper quoted the statement saying. “You will not enjoy security, nor be pleased with peace, while the Islamic State has men like these.”

There might also have been a warning shortly before the attack. A few hours before the gunmen opened fire at the museum, an ISIS supporter tweeted, “Coming good news to Tunisia’s Muslims,” according to Britain’s Daily Mail. The tweeter, whose handle is @riff0BA, promised “a shock to the disbelievers and the hypocrites, especially those who claim to be cultured.'” According to the Associated Press, two of the gunman involved in the attack left Tunisia in December and received weapons training in Libya.

When gunfire exploded on Wednesday afternoon, residents in Tunis could scarcely believe that their breezy seaside city was under a terrorist attack. Sayida Ounissi, 28, a member of parliament for the Islamist political party Ennahda, told TIME on Thursday that many of her colleagues in parliament at first brushed off the security alert, not believing that they might be in danger; the lawmakers were in session, discussing new anti-terrorism measures, when the gunmen attacked the nearby National Bardo Museum. “Despite all of the threats and assassinations, most of us living in the city think of terrorism as something happening outside, in Iraq and Libya,” Ounissi said, by phone from Tunis. “I was one of the rare people who took the alert seriously.” She quickly began to leave the parliament, followed by her colleagues.

That illusion of safety has been severely shaken. Indeed, Tunisian analysts believe that jihadist organizations see the country and its democratically elected government as a particularly juicy target. That is because Tunisia’s 2011 Jasmine Revolution sparked a wave of uprisings in Egypt, Libya, Syria, and Yemen, emerging as the sole democracy from the Arab Spring.

Wedged between Algeria, where al-Qaeda affiliates are active, and unstable Libya, where ISIS is waging increasing attacks, tiny Tunisia seems highly vulnerable. Tunisian officials estimate that more than 3,000 citizens have fought with jihadist groups in Iraq and Syria over the past four years—making it one of the biggest sources of foreign fighters in the world. About 500 of them have since returned. Battle-trained, some could be planning to wage attacks at home. “We know very well that the Tunisia model is not to everyone’s satisfaction,” says Ounissi. “You have a Muslim democracy in a region with extremist organizations, who do not want freedom and democracy.”

Still, Wednesday’s attacks appeared to have inspired intense determination among Tunisians to protect their democratic revolution. After dark on Wednesday thousands of people poured into Tunis’s main boulevard, Avenue Habib Bouguiba, signing the national anthem and holding handwritten signs proclaiming that terrorism would not prevail. Others gathered in a candlelight vigil outside the Bardo Museum, shaken by the gruesome bloodshed on the city’s streets. “You can see the sense of shock on everyone’s faces,” says Jerry Sorkin, an American tour operator who has lived in Tunis for many years, and runs a cultural-tour company called TunisUSA. “People are not going to tolerate the violence,” he says, speaking by phone from the capital on Thursday. “They have gone so far in forming a democracy.”

Nonetheless, Wednesday’s attacks are likely to have a drastic effect on Tunisia, especially on the vital tourist industry, which has suffered since the Arab Spring. The travel industry makes up about seven percent of the country’s economy, and employs nearly 500,000 people. A two-hour flight from Paris, Tunisia’s sun-baked coastline drew millions of tourists before the revolution. Tunisia was hoping that this year’s summer would mark an upturn in tourists, many of whom have stayed away since 2011. But Sorkin says he had received several calls and emails since Wednesday from nervous clients who have booked tours to Tunisia. ” All we can tell them is, we really think this is an isolated situation,” he says.

Tunisians are hoping that is the case. On Thursday, Tunisia’s former Minister of Information Oussama Romdani, who served under Ben Ali, sent TIME an email titled simply, “how to help after the attack.” Inside was a photograph of a sunny Mediterranean beach, with the words: “Keep calm and visit Tunisia.”

TIME Tunisia

Tunisia Bloodshed Threatens to Undo Nation’s Progress

Attack that killed at least 20 foreigners could throw the nascent democracy into turmoil

In the worst attack on foreigners since the Arab revolutions erupted four years ago, more than 20 people were killed in Tunisia on Wednesday along with two of the country’s citizens, when gunmen stormed the country’s most important museum.

The attack, for which no group has yet taken responsibility, raises the prospect that the terrorist attacks that have become increasingly common elsewhere in the region could destabilize the sole democracy to emerge from the Arab Spring.

Early Wednesday afternoon, two gunmen armed with automatic weapons attacked the Bardo Museum in the capital, Tunis, and opened fire on tourists, before taking numerous foreigners hostage inside the museum. Some three hours later, police stormed the museum, killing the gunmen and freeing the hostages.

Tunisian officials said those killed were Polish, German, Spanish and Italian. Local television aired footage taken inside the museum, showing a group of tourists, seemingly under siege, sitting on the floor of an exhibition room below ancient mosaics. The building sits close to the country’s parliament, and early reports suggested the gunmen may also have attempted to enter that building.

Prime Minister Habib Essid — who took office only in January — went on television after security forces killed the gunmen. Grim-faced and clearly shaken, he told Tunisians that they needed to help face down militant groups. “The citizens, the army, are all responsible,” he said. “All of us must support the security forces to fight against this scourge.”

To some Tunisians, the attack in the tiny North African country seemed all too predictable. Although Tunisia is one of the few countries wracked by the Arab Spring uprisings to have successfully held peaceful elections — which it did in December — the regional upheaval has pummeled foreign investment, and Essid told parliament on Tuesday that unemployment among educated Tunisians was now around 30%. These are the kinds of conditions that helped bring thousands of people into the streets in 2011 to drive out Tunisia’s longtime dictator — but also the kinds that can drive a young, resentful population toward extremism.

Indeed, officials believe about 3,000 Tunisians have left the country to join jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq, including ISIS, over the past four years. Tunisia’s most wanted terrorist, Ahmed al-Rouissi, was killed in Libya only two days ago, fighting with ISIS jihadists in the coastal city of Sirt. The government has long warned about the dangers the country faces as these battle-hardened fighters return home.

Militant groups in rural areas have staged attacks for several months on military personnel and police officers, killing several of them. Essid told parliament just this week that police had uncovered several big weapons caches in the remote southern desert, and dismantled militant cells. On Monday, Tunisian police arrested 22 people in Kairouan, a small central city, for allegedly recruiting locals for jihadist training and then sending them across Tunisia’s eastern border into Libya, which is wracked by militant violence and rising ISIS activity. Many believed it was only a matter of time before this violence spread to the country’s capital.

Early reports suggested that the attack might have been well planned and carefully timed. At the moment the gunmen attacked the parliament, lawmakers were debating a tough new antiterrorism law. The attack might also have timed in order to target foreigners, since Mediterranean cruise ships dock each Wednesday in Tunis’ La Goulette harbor. There, coach buses ferry tourists to the Bardo museum, which sits on the same downtown compound as the parliament building.

The fact that foreign tourists were killed seems sure to create major new problems for Tunisia, whose economy relies heavily on European visitors. For years, the country has been a favorite, close getaway for French tourists, with Paris a two-hour flight from its former colony, and with no laws banning alcohol or bikinis on the beaches. After the upheaval of the Arab Spring, many tourists stayed away. But in recent months Tunisian tourism posters in the Paris Metro have assured the French that they wanted them back in big numbers, and that the country was safe — a contrast, say, from other popular North African destinations like Egypt’s Sinai peninsula.

But it will be hard for officials to offer such assurances now. “This will be very, very bad for the country,” Mounir Khelifa, an English professor at Tunis’ Manoubia University, told TIME by phone shortly after the attack. “Tunisia has been hovering between hope and fear. Now, if the economy is hurt, there will probably be strikes and protests, and then who will care about building up democratic institutions?”

TIME

Witness Scenes From Tunisia Museum Attack

Gunmen opened fire at a leading museum in Tunisia’s capital, leaving at least 21 dead

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