TIME uk

U.K. Raises Terror Threat Level to ‘Severe’

But it doesn't mean an attack is "imminent"

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Updated at 12:39 p.m.

The United Kingdom raised its terror threat level from “substantial” to “severe” Friday, at a time when Britons have traveled to Iraq and Syria to fight alongside the Islamist militant group wreaking havoc there.

Britain’s Home Secretary Theresa May first made the announcement, but cited no specific threat in doing so. Prime Minister David Cameron later said he agreed with the decision to raise the threat level in the wake of Briton’s fighting for the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS). The new designation warns that a terrorist attack is “highly likely.”

“I understand and I agree with the assessment that they’ve made,” Cameron said, referring to MI5’s Joint Terrorism Analysis Center, which determines the threat level independent of the Prime Minister. “That there is a greater threat that we face from Syria and Iraq, that there is a greater problem of returning foreign fighters and also it’s worth remembering… you’re dealing not just with [ISIS], you’re also dealing with other al-Qaeda-linked franchises in Syria and indeed, potentially in Iraq.”

Cameron told Britons to “continue to go about our daily lives in our normal way.” He added that the changes will help the police put in place necessary security precautions.

“We must use all the resources we have at our disposal—aid, diplomacy, political influence and our military,” Cameron said, adding that the U.K. supports the U.S. airstrikes against ISIS. “Learning the lessons from the past doesn’t mean that there isn’t a place for our military,” he said.

London’s Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said earlier this week that at least 500 Britons have fought in the Iraq and Syria conflict on behalf of ISIS, and that about half have already returned to the U.K., BBC reports.

May, the Home Secretary, said the change in threat level doesn’t imply, and that there is “no intelligence to suggest,” that an attack is “imminent.”

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Friday that senior Administration officials have been in touch with their British counterparts about the change in the U.K. international terrorism threat level. “I don’t anticipate at this point that there’s a plan to change that level” in the U.S., added Earnest.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson confirmed in a public statement released Friday afternoon that the DHS and Federal Bureau of Investigation are “unaware of any specific, credible threat to the U.S. homeland from [ISIS].” Johnson also underscored recent efforts designed to improve U.S. national security.

“Additionally, in response to recent threats generally from overseas, the Department of Homeland Security over the past several weeks has taken a number of steps to enhance aviation security at overseas airports with direct flights to the United States, and the United Kingdom and other nations have followed with similar enhancements,” said Johnson. “This government, in close collaboration with our international partners, has also taken a series of steps to track foreign fighters who travel in and out of Syria, and we are contemplating additional security measures concerning foreign fighters. Some of the security measures will be visible to the public and some understandably will be unseen.”

 

TIME Crime

1,400 Children Exploited in U.K. Child Sex Ring, According to New Report

Abuse was allegedly ignored by police and other officials

Over 1,400 children in a town in Northern England may have endured sexual abuse that was systematically ignored by police and other authorities from 1997-2013, according to a report released Tuesday.

The independent report, commissioned by the Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council and compiled by Professor Alexis Jay, found that children as young as 11 were being raped and brutalized in Rotherham since 1997, and had been routinely trafficked to other Northern England towns for sex. The report concluded that at least 1,400 children had been sexually abused during the 16 year time frame, but that this was likely a “conservative estimate of the true scale of the problem.”

The stories relayed in the report suggest that police and other municipal authorities failed to take action against the problem for years, allowing perpetrators to continue to exploit children. One girl who was preparing to testify against her perpetrator received a text message saying that he had her younger sister, and “the choice of what happened next was up to her.” In two cases reviewed by Professor Jay and her team, fathers had tracked down their daughters and tried to rescue them, but were themselves arrested when police arrived on the scene. In some instances, police arrested the victims for drunkenness or disorderly conduct, but let the perpetrators go free. Schools complained that children as young as 11 were being picked up in fancy cars and being taken to meet unknown males, and secondary school heads reported girls being taken away on their lunch breaks to give oral sex before heading back to class.

The report also concluded that until 2007, there was evidence that police believed children as young as 11 were having “consensual” sex with their rapists. While the South Yorkshire Police Department had excellent procedures on the books, officers on the ground through the 1990s failed to implement these practices, and seemed to have very little understanding of the nature of child sexual exploitation.

Council leader Roger Stone, who has served since 2003, said he would step down immediately. “I believe it is only right that as leader I take responsibility for the historic failings described so clearly,” he said, according to the BBC.

TIME Television

The Real Problem With Sex Box Is That It’s Boring

WE tv

People are already getting worked up over WE tv's upcoming reality show Sex Box, where couples copulate on-air and then chat about it

WE tv caused a stir on Thursday when the cable channel — a subsidiary of AMC — announced that they had ordered a reality series called Sex Box to air in 2015.

Based on the U.K. series of the same name and produced by Relativity Television, Sex Box is billed as an “extreme therapy reality concept” where couples appear on television to discuss their relationship, before they head off to a camera-free, soundproof box where they — you guessed it — have sex. The couples then come out and, as per WE tv’s announcement, talk about their “experiences in the box and most intimate personal issues” with a panel of experts. Also, in front of a studio audience. Also, in front of everyone watching at home.

The idea behind the show is ostensibly that couples are more trusting and open post-coitus; therefore, they’re more able to communicate and work out their issues. In addition to the love hormones supposedly coursing through their bodies, a team of experts will be on hand to help — celebrity relationship psychotherapist Dr. Fran Walfish, clinical therapist and nationally certified sex therapist Dr. Chris Donaghue and Pastor Dr. Yvonne Capehart. But with its over-the-top premise and insistence that the sex take place in-studio, it’s really not surprising that the show has already been branded a “low point for reality television.

Yet if the show’s British godfather is any indication, Sex Box won’t be titillating or smutty or something to watch as a guilty pleasure. It’ll be boring.

While the logic might follow that couples are more open after they’ve had sex, it’s typically with one another — not so much with a host of strangers and millions of viewers. In the U.K. version of Sex Box, the couples — while all nice, chatty people — weren’t so overtaken by sex endorphins that they actually revealed anything vivid or shocking. It was all pretty tame, polite, slightly awkward at times and, overall, just dull. Not even the show’s panel could spice things up — and the U.K. version had Dan Savage as one of its experts.

So for all the voyeurs out there who are hoping to catch a glimpse of something risqué — or the pearl-clutchers looking for something to be outraged over — Sex Box probably isn’t for you. Who it is for, exactly, is anyone’s guess.

 

TIME Opinion

Idiot Fakes Own Death to Get Out of Wedding Because Idiot

Tucker Blandford hatched a terrible plan

It was to be a transatlantic love story worthy of the big screen, but instead of Hollywood romance it ended more like a slapstick comedy.

Alex Lanchester, 23 and British, was set to marry her American fiancé Tucker Blandford, 23 and terrible, on August 15. The couple met in Connecticut in 2012 while Lanchester was studying abroad in the U.S. and Blandford proposed before she returned to the UK. They planned their wedding but as the big day approached she got the call that changed—and let’s be honest, possibly saved, because this dude seems like a creep—her life.

“Alex, this is Tucker’s dad. There’s no easy way to say this,” said the voice on the phone. “I am sorry to say that Tucker is dead.” It was Tucker spoofing his dad’s voice in order to fake his own death, reports the UK’s Mirror.

Lanchester says she then called Blandford’s mother, who of course didn’t know what she was talking about.

“All I ever did was love him,” she said. “After this I’m not sure I can trust a man ever again”—a course of action that might be a good idea considering her record of judging character.

Blandford confessed to a reporter over the phone that he is “a terrible, awful person,” so he’s making some progress in the truth-telling department. “I know I shouldn’t have told her I was dead, but I didn’t know what else to do,” he said, according to the UK’s Daily Mail.”

“At the time I just felt like I couldn’t tell the truth and thought if I could just postpone everything it would be better,” Blandford said. Because if there’s one thing we know about death it’s that it isn’t forever. Nice plan, bud.

TIME uk

Prince William’s New Job? Medevac Helicopter Pilot

RAF Search And Rescue Teams Practice Ahead Of The Royal Wedding
In this image provided by the Ministry of Defence, Prince William takes the controls of a Sea King helicopter on April 14, 2011 in Holyhead, Wales. Handout—Getty Images

Prince William will begin training this fall and start work spring 2015

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, a former chopper pilot in the Royal Air Force, is taking a job as an air ambulance helicopter pilot next spring, according to Kensington Palace.

Prince William will begin training for the new role this fall and winter before working with the East Anglian Air Ambulance in England. The Duke will fly both day and night shifts, starting as a co-pilot before he may qualify as a helicopter commander.

Better known for his marriage to Kate Middleton than for his flying abilities, the palace added that though this will be his main job, he’ll continue his domestic and overseas visits that have been so widely documented, with his wife or son in tow. Prince William will also continue working for his various charities.

Though he is entitled to a salary, the Duke will be donating his medevac income to charity. He is believed to be the first member of the Royal Family in direct succession to have an employment contract with a civilian employer. The job will draw on Prince William’s experience as a search and rescue pilot for the RAF, for which he flew over 150 operations.

 

 

TIME Religion

Behind British Minister of Faith Sayeeda Warsi’s Resignation Over Gaza

Sayeeda Hussain Warsi, British Senior Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Minister for Faith and Communities in Islamabad, Pakistan on October 10, 2013.
Sayeeda Hussain Warsi, British Senior Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Minister for Faith and Communities in Islamabad, Pakistan on October 10, 2013. T. Mughal—EPA

Her choice is bold and dramatic, and it sends a strong statement that political will requires moral courage.

Politicians don’t often quit out of principle. They especially do not quit out of moral principle. But, on the rare occasion that they do, it is dramatic.

That’s what happened Tuesday morning, when Sayeeda Warsi, the United Kingdom’s first Minister of Faith and the first Muslim to serve as a Cabinet minister, resigned in protest of her government’s approach to the crisis in Gaza. “For some weeks, in meetings and discussions, I have been open and honest about my views on the conflict in Gaza and our response to it,” she wrote in her resignation letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, which she posted on Twitter. “My view has been that our policy in relation to the Middle East Peace Process generally but more recently our approach and language during the current crisis in Gaza is morally indefensible, is not in Britain’s national interest and will have a long term detrimental impact on our reputation internationally and domestically.”

Cameron replied in a statement, thanking her for her work and regretting her decision. “Our policy has always been consistently clear–the situation in Gaza is intolerable and we’ve urged both sides to agree to an immediate and unconditional ceasefire,” he said.

At first glance, one might assume that this story is simply “Muslim minister resigns over U.K. support for Israel.” Warsi is, after all, the first Muslim to serve in so high a position, and soon after her resignation, she called for an immediate arms embargo against Israel in an interview with the Huffington Post UK.

But that’s almost certainly too simplistic an understanding of what happened. Warsi has built her professional career on a foundational principle that religious and historic divides do not necessitate irreconcilable divisions or violence. She made it her mission to help create a government that, as she often said, would “do God” and advocate for faith’s place in society. That meant working for people of all faiths. She spoke out against Islamophobia and worked to make sure British government was inclusive for Muslims. In 2012 she let the U.K.’s largest ministerial delegation to the Vatican. Last year she came to Washington, DC, to speak out against the global persecution of Christians. One of her main goals was to encourage the international community to develop a cross-faith, cross-continent commitment to protect Christian minorities. Religious persecution, she told me at the time, is the biggest challenge of the 21st century. “It is about working up the political will,” she said. “It is about getting some consensus, it is about politicians being prepared to take on these difficult challenges.”

Her personal faith story is also one that bridges divides often thought to be unbridgeable. She is the daughter of Pakistani immigrants and grew up in a Muslim family with a blended theological background that included both Shias and Sunnis. “We were taught to respect and love other faiths as much as we loved our own, and I suppose, you know, quite strong teachings that you can only truly be a Muslim if you also are Christian and Jewish before that, that actually Islam is just an extension of the other faiths and it has been a process where various books have been revealed at various times,” she told me. “I don’t see there is a collision course between people of faith, I actually do think it is instinctively based up on the same values.”

Her whole story is rooted in commitment to a higher calling. It makes her decision to resign is all the more dramatic, and it sends a strong statement that political will requires moral courage. “I always said that long after life in politics I must be able to live with myself for the decision I took or the decisions I supported,” she said in her resignation letter. “By staying in Government at this time I do not feel I can be sure of that.”

She may have resigned, but that does not mean her voice has been silenced: it may be louder as a result.

TIME uk

Fighter Jets Escort Passenger Jet With ‘Suspect Device’ to Manchester Airport

A man is escorted off a Qatar Airways aircraft by police at Manchester airport in Manchester, England on August 5, 2014. A British fighter jet escorted a passenger plane into Manchester airport on Tuesday after the pilot reported that a suspect device was possibly on board.
A man is escorted off a Qatar Airways aircraft by police at Manchester airport in Manchester, England on August 5, 2014. A British fighter jet escorted a passenger plane into Manchester airport on Tuesday after the pilot reported that a suspect device was possibly on board. Andrew Yates—Reuters

Suspect detained "on suspicion of making a hoax bomb threat," Manchester police say

Fighter jets escorted a passenger plane as it came in for a landing at Manchester Airport on Tuesday, after the pilot had radioed in concerns about a “suspect device” on board.

Air traffic at the airport was suspended for 25 minutes as a Royal Air Force jet flew wing to wing with the passenger plane, believed to be a Qatar Airways Airbus A330 from Doha in Qatar, the BBC reports.

Emergency vehicles waited on the tarmac as the plane touched down safely and armed police boarded the plane and reportedly escorted one passenger off of the plane.

A man is escorted off a Qatar Airways aircraft by police at Manchester airport in Manchester on August 5, 2014. Andrew Yates—Reuters

“We don’t know how genuine this threat is but it is absolutely vital we deal with the situation as a full emergency,” said Chief Superintendent John O’Hare of the Greater Manchester Police, according to the BBC.

Manchester police announced on Twitter that a suspect had been detained “on suspicion of making a hoax bomb threat.”

Eyewitnesses posted pictures on Twitter that appears to show a man being escorted from the plane by police and the fighter jet flying wingtip to wingtip with the plane.

TIME Books

U.S. Authors Snag 4 Spots on Man Booker Prize Longlist

Simon & Schuster

But Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch didn't make the cut

The longlist for the 2014 Man Booker prize was announced Wednesday and in the first year the prestigious British award changed its criteria to consider writers from all over the world, a whopping four novels by American authors made the cut.

Previously awarded to English-language works written by citizens of the Commonwealth, the Republic of Ireland or Zimbabwe, this year marks the first time the judges of the literary prize were able to consider works from writers across the globe, so long as they’re written in English and published in the UK.

The four American books to make the cut — We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler, The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt, To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris and Orfeo by Richard Powers — make up nearly a third of the 13-title longlist. Somewhat surprisingly, Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch wasn’t selected, though it won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

When the new criteria for the Booker prize were announced last September, it caused a minor controversy as some literary insiders complained that the rule change could lead to an American domination of the prize.

“Although it appears to let in lots more good fiction, it risks diluting the identity of the prize,” John Mullan, a former Booker Prize judge, told the BBC last year. “It’s going to be Toni Morrison versus Hilary Mantel, or Jonathan Franzen against Ian McEwan, and I think that’s really unfortunate.”

American authors didn’t dominate the longlist — the Brits still hold that claim with five titles making the cut — and the final winner will be announced on Sept. 9.

The 2014 Man Booker Prize longlist:

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, Joshua Ferris (US)
The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Richard Flanagan (Australia)
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler (US)
The Blazing World, Siri Hustvedt (US)
J, Howard Jacobson (UK)
The Wake, Paul Kingsnorth (UK)
The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell (UK)
The Lives of Others, Neel Mukherjee (India)
Us, David Nicholls (UK)
The Dog, Joseph O’Neill (Ireland)
Orfeo, Richard Powers (US)
How to be Both, Ali Smith (UK)
History of the Rain, Niall Williams (Ireland)

TIME royals

Prince George Hangs Out at the Natural History Museum With Will and Kate

BRITAIN-ROYALS-GEORGE
Prince George during a visit to the Sensational Butterflies exhibition at the Natural History Museum, London, July 2, 2014, in a photo released on July 19 to mark Prince George's first birthday. John Stillwell—AFP/Getty Images

The young royal Prince George celebrates his first birthday Tuesday

The world’s most powerful baby celebrates his first birthday on Tuesday, and parents Will and Kate have decided to grace the world with new photos of their little Prince George. The apple-cheeked heir has had a busy first year, filled with public playdates, a magazine cover, his very own currency and a serious friendship with family dog Lupo.

The United Kingdom Press Association released a new photo of the Buckingham baby on Saturday, from an earlier visit to the “Sensational Butterflies” exhibition at the Natural History Museum with his parents. The Duchess of Cambridge Catherine is a patron of the museum. Two more photos of the royal family are expected to be released Monday.

TIME royals

Prince George Lands Vanity Fair Cover

Prince George on Vanity Fair
BY MARK STEWART/CAMERA PRESS/REDUX

Everything you need to know about the royal toddler's first year

At just shy of a year old, Prince George has snagged his very own Vanity Fair cover. The magazine’s August 2014 issue is filled with all the juicy details about the royal’s first year, including tidbits from “palace insiders” about George’s celebrity status, sleep schedule, “permanently hungry” beginnings, colic and more.

On July 22, it will have been a full year since the world spent an entire day constantly refreshing this page while waiting on Royal Baby updates. In that time, as Vanity Fair’s Katie Nicholl reports, much has happened to little George Alexander Louis. He has moved on to solid foods, received a new nanny and enjoyed endless attention from the public as he toured New Zealand and Australia with his famous parents.

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