TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: March 30

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

1. Blue-collar jobs are coming back, and pay well. But women are missing out.

By Mitchell Hartman in Marketplace

2. Ikea is known for affordable, flat-pack furniture. Now they’re selling the U.N. flat-pack refugee housing.

By Amar Toor in the Verge

3. With an eye on the White House, politicians won’t admit it, but the ethanol mandate is terrible policy.

By Josiah Neeley in the American Conservative

4. With billions in profits, tech giants must lead the charge against inequality in Silicon Valley.

By John D. Sutter in CNN

5. Can better customer service make primary medical care affordable and sustainable?

By Margot Sanger-Katz in the Upshot

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 Cameroon

More People Are Fleeing Northern Cameroon to Escape Boko Haram

In this file photo taken on Feb. 25, 2015, a family of refugees that fled their homes due to violence from the militant group Boko Haram sit inside a refugee camp in Minawao, Cameroon
Edwin Kindzeka Moki—AP A family of refugees who fled their homes because of violence from the militant group Boko Haram sit inside a refugee camp in Minawao, Cameroon, on Feb. 25, 2015

Cross-border attacks are fueling the exodus

The surge in violence and cross-border attacks by Nigerian Islamist militants Boko Haram has doubled the number of civilians in Cameroon displaced by the conflict, with some 117,000 people from northern Cameroon fleeing their homes in March alone, according to a U.N. survey.

Boko Haram, which has waged an insurgency in northern Nigeria since 2009, has killed 6,400 and carried out 337 attacks since January 2014, according to the U.N. Recently, the group has been launching cross-border attacks into Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

“The northern part of Cameroon was already under severe strain due to deteriorating climate conditions over the last three years. The growing insecurity has further exacerbated that situation,” U.N. Sahel coordinator Robert Piper told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Cameroon also shelters at least 66,000 Nigerian refugees escaping Boko Haram.

[Reuters]

TIME Yemen

Yemen Leader Asks U.N. to Back Military Action Against Rebels

A Houthi Shiite rebel with Yemen's flag painted on his face chants during a rally in Sanaa, Yemen, Feb. 27, 2015
Hani Mohammed—AP A Houthi Shi'ite rebel with Yemen's flag painted on his face chants during a rally in Sanaa, Yemen, on Feb. 27, 2015

The embattled President is looking for support against a Shi'ite Houthi insurgency

(UNITED NATIONS) — Yemen’s embattled president asked the U.N. Security Council to authorize a military intervention in support of his government to oust Houthi Shiite rebels who control much of the disintegrating country’s north and are advancing south.

President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi said in a letter to the council obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press that he had also asked members of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council and the Arab League to immediately provide “all means necessary, including military intervention to protect Yemen and its people from the continuing Houthi aggression.”

Hadi, the country’s internationally recognized leader and a key U.S. ally, asked the Security Council to approve a resolution that can be militarily enforced under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter.

The Houthis seized the capital Sanaa in September and have been advancing south alongside forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who stepped down in 2011 as part of a U.S.-backed, Gulf-brokered deal after months of protests against his rule. The rebels have recently closed in on the southern port city of Aden where Hadi fled and is now based.

Hadi said a Security Council resolution should invite willing countries to immediately support Yemen’s legitimate government “by all means and measures, to protect Yemen and deter the Houthi aggression expected to occur at any hour from now against the city of Aden” and other cities in the south.

Military convoys are heading to attack Aden and the south, Hadi said, and Yemeni air force jets controlled by the Houthis are continuing to fly and bomb Aden “in a very alarming and dangerous” way.

Hadi also said Yemen’s missiles have been looted, and asked the Security Council “to control the missile capability looted from the legitimate authority or assign a neutral country to monitor it.”

He said all efforts at a peaceful settlement have been rejected by the Houthis whose goal is to control the country.

“The Yemeni people have never faced such heinous aggression,” he said. “The threats posed by the Houthis are not targeting the security of Yemen but the regional and international peace and security.”

The Houthis are members of the Shiite Zaydi community, which makes up around a third of Yemen’s population and is concentrated in the north. Their opponents view them as a proxy of Shiite Iran, charges the Houthis deny.

The turmoil has undermined Yemen’s ability to combat al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the target of a U.S. drone program, and the country now also faces a purported affiliate of the extremist Islamic State group, which claimed responsibility for a series of suicide bombings killing at least 137 people last Friday.

Hadi also asked the Security Council to help Yemen face al-Qaeda and Daesh, the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.

TIME Environment

UN Report Warns of Serious Water Shortages Within 15 Years

INDIA-UN-ENVIRONMENT-WATER
Manjunath Kiran—AFP/Getty Images Residents in Bangalore wait to collect drinking water in plastic pots for their households on March 18, 2015.

If we continue on our current trajectory, warns the report, we'll only have 60% of the water we need in 2030

The world will only have 60% of the water it needs by 2030 without significant global policy change, according to a new report from the U.N.

While countries like India are rapidly depleting their groundwater, rainfall patterns around the world are becoming more unpredictable due to global warming, meaning there will be less water in reserves. Meanwhile, as the population increases, so does demand for potable water, snowballing to a massive problem for our waterways in 15 years’ time.

The report suggests several changes of course that nations can take, from increasing water prices to finding new ways of recycling waste water.

TIME Leaders

Pope Francis Will Speak at the U.N.

Pope Francis talks about importance of grandparents
Marco Campagna—Demotix/Corbis Pope Francis blesses the faithful, Vatican City, March 11, 2015.

The Pope will hold a town hall meeting with U.N. staff

Pope Francis will visit the U.N. in September during its annual gathering of world leaders.

The Pope will address the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 25, meet with U.N. leadership and participate in a town hall meeting with U.N. staff, according to a statement issued Wednesday by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s office.

“His Holiness Pope Francis’ visit will inspire the international community to redouble its efforts to achieve human dignity for all through ensuring greater social justice, tolerance and understanding among all of the world’s peoples,” the Secretary General’s statement says.

Pope Francis’ visit to the U.N. will come one day after he is scheduled to address Congress in Washington, D.C. He will be in the United States from Sept. 22-27.

TIME United Nations

U.N. to Reopen Probe Into 1961 Plane Crash That Killed Former Chief

Dag Hammarskjold
AP Dag Hammarskjold, former Secretary General of the United Nations, is seen in 1959.

Dag Hammarskjold died in a plane crash whose cause has yet to be determined decades later

The United Nations is reopening the case of a plane crash that killed former Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld in 1961.

Hammarskjöld was on his way to what is now a part of Zambia to help broker peace between secessionist fighters in the Democratic Republic of Congo and U.N. troops who were trying to stabilize the newly independent country, the New York Times reports.

A three-person, independent panel appointed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will have three months to investigate the evidence that has emerged since the U.N. first looked into the crash, according to a U.N. statement.

That evidence, the Times details, includes testimony from two U.S. intelligence officers stationed at listening posts hundreds of miles apart and who claimed they heard what sounded like the plane getting shot down; one recalled hearing “The Americans shot down the U.N. plane.”

The panel—made up of a jurist from Tanzania, a ballistics expert from Denmark and an aviation expert from Australia—is expected to submit a report to the Secretary-General no later than June 30.

TIME climate change

Global Carbon Emissions Flatlined in 2014 Even as Economy Grew

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Hans-Peter Merten—Getty Images coal power plant at dusk

In an encouraging sign, levels of the leading greenhouse gas were unchanged in 2014

Global carbon emissions did not increase in 2014, marking the first time on record that carbon levels have not grown without a concurrent decline in global demand.

Carbon dioxide emissions last year remained at 32.3 billion metric tons, the same as a year earlier, even as the global economy grew by 3 percent, according to a news release by the International Energy Agency (IEA) published Friday. Since the IEA began tracking carbon dioxide emissions 40 years ago, the rise has been halted or reversed only three times: in the early 1980s amid the oil price shock, in 1992 in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union, and in 2009 during the global financial crisis.

“This gives me even more hope that humankind will be able to work together to combat climate change, the most important threat facing us today,” Fatih Birol, the chief economist and next executive director of the IEA, said in a statement.

The IAE attributed part of the halt in emissions growth to China, the world’s largest carbon polluter, where the growing use of renewable sources like hydropower and solar energy have helped reduce the country’s reliance on coal. In a deal with the United States in November, China pledged to stop emission growth by 2030.

The news is an encouraging sign for the global effort to combat climate change ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris at the end of this year, which aims to establish a global pact on emissions.

TIME United Nations

Violence Against Women Is at ‘Alarmingly High Levels,’ U.N. Says

U.N. Women for Peace Association's International Women's Day celebration
Jemal Countess—Getty Images U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks at the U.N. Women for Peace Association's International Women's Day celebration in New York City on March 6, 2015

"Uneven progress" 20 years after the landmark Beijing conference on gender equality

Violence against women around the world “persists at alarmingly high levels in many forms,” according to a new U.N. report.

Presented by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday, the U.N. Women report marks the 20th anniversary of a U.N. conference in Beijing on achieving gender equality around the world. But the report finds that so far, “uneven progress” has been “unacceptably slow with stagnation and even regress in some contexts.”

The reports findings include these:

  • A World Health Organization study found that 35% of women around the world have experienced either sexual or physical violence from an intimate partner, or sexual violence from a nonpartner.
  • In a study of 42,000 women in the European Union, only a third of victims of intimate-partner violence contacted authorities or sought out support services; of those who experienced violence from someone who wasn’t a partner, only one-fourth did so.
  • That same study also found that more than half of all the women surveyed experienced sexual harassment at least one time since turning 15; nearly a fifth had experienced it within a year of the survey.

The report highlighted that victim-blaming attitudes play a role. In one 2010 study of 15 European nations cited by the report, 52% of all respondents agreed that women’s behavior contributed to domestic violence; in one of those countries surveyed, 86% of respondents agreed with that statement.

The report also outlines a few steps countries can take to combat violence, including improving data collection about violence against, devoting more resources to support services and launching education and awareness campaigns both in public and within education systems.

TIME Yemen

U.N. Chief Warns Yemen ‘Collapsing’ as al-Qaeda Group Makes Gains

APTOPIX Mideast Yemen
Anees Mahyoub—AP Protesters in Taiz, Yemen, on Feb. 11, 2015, shout slogans against Houthi Shi‘ite who have seized power in the country's capital, Sana‘a

Secretary general Ban Ki-moon issued the warning after rebel faction effectively ousted the Yemeni government

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned the U.N. Security Council on Thursday that Yemen was “collapsing before our eyes,” as a powerful al-Qaeda affiliate took advantage of the power vacuum in the country’s capital to seize a Yemeni army facility.

Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest nation, has been rocked by sectarian and political violence that came to a head last week, when the Houthi rebels that recently toppled the country’s President dissolved parliament.

On Wednesday, thousands of people in Sana‘a, the capital, protested the effective coup by the predominantly Shi‘ite group, and the U.S., Britain and France all closed their embassies amid security concerns.

As if to highlight the potential for turmoil, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the powerful al-Qaeda branch that controls large swaths of territory in the southeast, said Thursday that they had seized the headquarters of a Yemeni army brigade, the New York Times reports. While the Houthis are strongly opposed to the Sunni extremist group, the rudderless government in Sana‘a has risked empowering AQAP.

“Let me be clear,” Ban said. “Yemen is collapsing before our eyes. We cannot stand by and watch.”

The Houthi movement, which overran Sana‘a in September, had been overseeing talks among various factions to form a new government since the group’s aggression prompted President Abdel Rabbo Mansour Hadi to resign last month. But the group disbanded the government on Feb. 6.

Ban called for Security Council members to de-escalate tensions and return the factions to the negotiating table. “We must do everything possible to help Yemen step back from the brink and get the political process back on track,” he said.

TIME Sudan

Sudanese Government Denies Mass Military Rape

A woman rides a donkey past a convoy of government troops in Tabit village in the North Darfur region of Sudan, Nov, 2014.
Abd Raouf—AP A woman rides a donkey past a convoy of government troops in Tabit village in the North Darfur region of Sudan, Nov, 2014.

A Human Rights Watch investigation released at the United Nations on Wednesday reports that Sudanese army troops raped at least 221 women and girls during a 36-hour attack on the Darfur town of Tabit that began on Oct. 30.

The report documents 27 first-hand reports of rape, 194 other credible accounts of rape and even confessions of two soldiers who had participated in the attacks that superior officers ordered them to “rape women.” Sudanese authorities then launched a cover-up, Human Rights Watch details, which included detaining and torturing Tabit residents for telling the truth about what happened.

Sudan Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti categorically denied reports of a mass military rape in Tabit during an interview with TIME on Feb. 4, when he was in Washington as a guest of the National Prayer Breakfast.

TIME asked him about reports that his government’s armed forces are primarily targeting civilians and not combatants. Any claims of rape in Tabit, he claimed, are lies invented to keep people in refugee camps, where NGOs can make money. Tabit has been rebuilt, he said, with modern schools, health care and police centers.

“Nobody can expect a village like Tabit which had been a home for some hundreds of the soldiers there, they have their homes there, they have their wives there, and they are living in a camp near that place, no one will expect those soldiers will come and rape by hundreds in that village,” Karti said. “Not only the police is there, but the army is there, and it will protect you against anyone who will infringe your security.”

If NGO donors see the situation in the villages as unstable, Karti added, they will keep donating. “This is cutting throats of so many,” he said.

Media in Sudan, Karti continued, “have every right to go anywhere and talk about anything that may be causing atrocities to their homeland and people, so if nothing is coming out of that, that means that is only portraying the country in a way that will not at all help somebody like me to convince those who are in charge of a decision like removing Sudan from the list of terror.”

Sudan is one of three countries on the United States’ list of states that support terrorism, alongside Syria and Iran. Karti and the Sudanese government have been lobbying Washington to get Sudan removed from the list.

Sexual violence has historically been used as a weapon of war in the region—mass rapes were common in the Darfur massacre starting in 2003 and before that in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Special Prosecutor for Crimes in Darfur Yasir Ahmed Mohamed and his team talk to women during an investigation into allegations of mass rape in the village of Tabit, in North Darfur, Nov. 20, 2014.
Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah—ReutersSpecial Prosecutor for Crimes in Darfur Yasir Ahmed Mohamed and his team talk to women during an investigation into allegations of mass rape in the village of Tabit, in North Darfur, Nov. 20, 2014.

Until Wednesday’s Human Rights Watch report, international observers had not been able to adequately investigate what happened in Tabit. The African Union United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) failed to find evidence that the rapes happened at all when they were allowed to visit Tabit for a few hours on Nov. 9—government forces prevented peacekeepers from carrying out a credible investigation, Human Rights Watch and other activists explain, and days later Sudan shut the UNAMID’s human rights office in Khartoum before expelling two senior UN officials from the country altogether. The special prosecutor for crimes in Darfur, appointed by the Sudanese government, who visited Tabit on Nov. 20, also concluded that no crimes had been committed.

The details of the Human Rights Watch report are damning. Throughout the town, the report says, the pattern of the attacks was similar: armed and uniformed Sudanese military personnel went house to house, beating the men, and then raping women and girls, sometimes mothers with daughters and sisters with sisters. Survivors, including these two below, shared their stories with Human Rights Watch:

“Khadamallah, in her mid-teens, said that soldiers came to her home at about 10 p.m. on Friday night: ‘I was in the house with my younger siblings. We were sleeping when the soldiers came into our house. … They entered the house. I took firewood and hit one of them. One of them dragged me out of the room. … They raped me. … Two of them held me down while the other one raped me. Many others who were there were standing around. … And then they brought me back [to my room], tied me [to the bed], and left.'”

“Mahassan, in her twenties, said that she and three friends were raped by soldiers after sunset. They were in her home preparing perfumes for a wedding when about 10 soldiers entered the compound, dragged the women outside, and raped each of them multiple times: ‘[The soldiers] said that they were looking for a missing soldier. … They searched the compound. … [T]hen they came towards us. They grabbed me and they grabbed my friend. The other soldiers took the other girls in a different direction. They took [me and my friend outside of the compound] towards the school. They raped both of us on the street. … Three of them raped me and three of them raped my friend. … They raped us all night. That’s why I’m still sick. I cannot sit down for a long time like I could before.'”

The full Human Rights Watch report is available here.

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