TIME Turkey

Missing Teen Girls Suspected of Traveling to Syria Were Spotted in Turkey

BRITAIN-IRAQ-SYRIA-CONFLICT-POLICE-CHILDREN-FILES
AFP/Getty Images A combination of handout CCTV pictures received from the Metropolitan Police Service on Feb. 23, 2015 shows British teenagers Kadiza Sultana, Amira Abase and Shamima Begum passing through security barriers at Gatwick Airport, London, on Feb. 17, 2015.

The three British girls are believed to have left the U.K. to join ISIS

Three British teenagers who are suspected of traveling to Syria to join Islamist militants were spotted on camera in Turkey not long after they boarded a flight from London to Istanbul last month.

The missing girls, who are classmates, were seen on closed-circuit cameras at an Istanbul bus station on Feb. 18, CNN reported Sunday. Police said the girls got off the bus before it reached the final destination.

London’s Metropolitan Police said last week that they believe the girls—Shamima Begum, 15; Kadiza Sultana, 16; and Amira Abase, 15—have already entered Syria. Before, their parents had publicly pleaded for them to come home, while British officials had encouraged Turkish media to urge them to return to the U.K.

Their disappearance has sparked tensions between the U.K. and Turkey, whose deputy prime minister said last week it was “condemnable and shameful” that British authorities had allowed the girls to travel to Istanbul.

[CNN]

TIME russia

See Russians Come Out in Droves to Mourn a Slain Putin Critic

Large crowds turned out in Moscow to march through the city in honor of Boris Nemtsov, a well-known opposition leader and critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin

TIME Aviation

New Plane Tracking to Be Tested After Malaysia Jet Mystery

Aerial view of airplane
Stephan Zirwes—Brand X/Getty Images

(SYDNEY) — Australia, Indonesia and Malaysia will lead a trial of an enhanced method of tracking aircraft over remote oceans to allow planes to be more easily found should they vanish like Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, Australia’s transport minister said Sunday.

The announcement comes one week ahead of the anniversary of the disappearance of Flight 370, which vanished last year during a flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing with 239 people on board. No trace of the plane has been found.

Airservices Australia, a government-owned agency that manages the country’s airspace, will work with its Malaysian and Indonesian counterparts to test the new method, which would enable planes to be tracked every 15 minutes, rather than the previous rate of 30 to 40 minutes, Australian Transport Minister Warren Truss said. The tracking would increase to 5 minutes or less if there is a deviation in the plane’s movements.

The trial is expected to use satellite-based positioning technology already on board 90 percent of long-haul aircraft that transmits the plane’s current position and its next two planned positions, said Airservices Australia chairman Angus Houston, who helped lead the search for Flight 370.

The trial will boost the frequency with which planes automatically report their position, allowing air traffic controllers to better track them, Houston said.

“This is not a silver bullet,” Houston told reporters in the nation’s capital, Canberra. “But it is an important step in delivering immediate improvements to the way we currently track aircraft while more comprehensive solutions are developed.”

There is no requirement for real-time tracking of commercial aircraft and ever since Flight 370 disappeared, air safety regulators and airlines have been trying to agree on how extensively planes should be tracked. The Boeing 777 veered sharply off-course and vanished from radar shortly into its flight on March 8.

An international team of experts that analyzed a series of hourly transmissions between the plane and a satellite later determined that the plane traveled for another seven hours before crashing somewhere within a remote 60,000-square-kilometer (23,000-square-mile) patch of the Indian Ocean. An extensive, monthslong search of that area is ongoing, but nothing has yet been found.

Houston warned that new method being trialed would not necessarily have allowed air traffic controllers to monitor Flight 370 — whose transponder and other tracking equipment shut down during the flight — to the point where it crashed.

“I think we’ve got to be very, very careful because you can turn this system off,” he said. “What would have happened while the system is operating, we’d know exactly where the aircraft was. If somebody had turned the system off, we’re in the same set of circumstances as we’ve experienced on the latter part of the flight of MH370.”

TIME Israel

Israeli Leader Departs for ‘Historic’ Mission to U.S.

Benjamin Netanyahu will address Congress on Iran's nuclear program

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled Sunday to Washington D.C. for a controversial visit that the leader described as “a fateful, even historic mission.”

“I am the emissary of all Israelis, even those who disagree with me,” Netanyahu said on Twitter as he departed. “I am deeply and genuinely concerned for the security of all Israelis, for the fate of the nation, and for the fate of our people. I will do my utmost to ensure our future.”

Netanyahu, who is seeking reelection this month, will address Congress on Tuesday to express his opposition to a possible nuclear deal with Iran—a speech President Barack Obama’s top national security aide has said will be “destructive” to U.S.-Israel relations.

“We are strongly opposed to the agreement being formulated between the world powers and Iran that could endanger Israel’s very existence,” Netanyahu said Sunday.

The visit has further strained relations between Israel and the Obama Administration, which was not consulted before House Speaker John Boehner invited Netanyahu to address Congress. Obama is not planning to meet with Netanyahu while he’s in town, and a few dozen Democrats are expected to boycott the speech, which has been criticized as interference in Israeli politics just two weeks before an election.

TIME Nigeria

Crowd Kills Girl Suspected to Be Suicide Bomber in Nigeria

(BAUCHI, Nigeria) — A crowd beat to death a teenage girl accused of being a suicide bomber and then set her body ablaze Sunday, according to police and witnesses at a northeastern Nigerian market.

A second suspect, also a teenage girl, was arrested at Muda Lawal, the biggest market in Bauchi city.

A spate of suicide bombings has been blamed on Nigeria’s home-grown Boko Haram Islamic extremist group, which wants to enforce strict Islamic law across Nigeria. The group has threatened to disrupt Nigeria’s March 28 presidential and legislative elections, saying democracy is a corrupt Western concept.

In Bauchi, the two girls aroused suspicion by refusing to be searched when they arrived at the gate to the vegetable market, said yam vendor Mohd Adamu. People overpowered one girl and discovered she had two bottles strapped to her body, he said. They clubbed her to death, put a tired doused in fuel over her head and set it on fire, he said.

It seems doubtful the girl was actually a bomber as she did not detonate any explosives when she was attacked, said Police Deputy Superintendent Mohammad Haruna. He described her as the victim of “mob action carried out by an irate crowd.”

Recently some girls as young as 10 years old have been used to carry explosives that detonated in busy markets and bus stations, raising fears that Boko Haram may be using some of its hundreds of kidnap victims in bomb attacks. It’s unclear whether such girls detonate explosions themselves or whether the bombs are controlled remotely.

President Goodluck Jonathan last week condemned the Boko Haram insurgents for choosing soft targets and said the series of bombings are a response to the Nigerian military’s recent success in seizing back a score of towns that had been in the hands of the extremists for months.

A multinational military force including Nigeria’s neighbors is being formed to stop Boko Haram’s attacks outside Nigeria’s borders.

Some 10,000 people died in Nigeria from Boko Haram’s violence last year, compared to 2,000 in the first four years, according to the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations, and some 1.5 million people have been driven from their homes.

TIME brazil

Brazil Arrests U.S. Cult Leader Wanted on Child Sex Charges

U.S. Marshals Service photo of Victor Barnard arrested late on Friday at Pipa beach in the northern state of Rio Grande do Norte in Brazil
Reuters Victor Barnard who was arrested on Feb. 27, 2015 at Pipa beach in the northern state of Rio Grande do Norte in Brazil.

Brazilian authorities said Saturday they arrested a self-professed minister put on a U.S. most-wanted list for allegedly molesting two girls in a “Maidens Group” at his religious fellowship in rural Minnesota.

A statement posted on the website of the Public Security Secretariat for the Rio Grande do Norte state government reported the arrest of Victor Arden Barnard, 53. The U.S. Marshals Service also confirmed the arrest in a statement.

The Brazilian statement said police captured Barnard late Friday in an apartment near a paradisiacal white-sand beach in northeastern Brazil. He was being held in the city of Natal to await extradition to face charges in the U.S., The Associated Press reported…
TIME russia

Moscow March Honors Slain Putin Critic

Russia Opposition Leader Killed
Dmitry Lovetsky—AP People march in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov near the Kremlin in Moscow on March 1, 2015.

Immense crowds turned out in Moscow on Sunday to march through the city in honor of slain Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov.

Nemtsov — an opposition politician and frequent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin — was supposed to appear at a Sunday rally protesting Russia’s role in the fighting in Ukraine. The rally was converted into a memorial march after the 55-year-old was gunned down late Friday on a street just steps from the Kremlin.

Russians of all ages took to the streets under gray skies on Sunday, many carrying signs with a single word: “Fight” and clutching images of Nemtsov…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME russia

Why the Kremlin Is Blaming Putin Critic’s Murder on a ‘Provocation’

Anti-Putin Protest Held In Red Square
Sasha Mordovets—Getty Images Boris Nemtsov, center, and other opposition activists attend a rally at Red Square on April 8, 2012 in Moscow.

The loaded word is intended to hint at foreign enemies

On Saturday the Kremlin trotted out a favorite piece of Russian doublespeak to explain the murder of one of its most strident critics. Boris Nemtsov, a leading figure in the opposition to President Vladimir Putin, was shot dead around midnight on Friday a short walk from Red Square, and within hours the state had deemed the killing a provokatsiya, a word whose translation into English, “provocation,” does not begin to capture its ability in Russian to shift blame and manipulate suspicion.

The first one to offer this explanation was Putin, who remarked through his spokesman in the early hours of Saturday morning, as Nemtsov’s body still lay on the asphalt, that the murder “bears all the hallmarks of a provocation.” The phrase, vague as it seems, then appeared to set the tone for the subsequent coverage of the murder on state-run television and the pronouncements of Putin’s allies.

Sergei Markov, a long-time Kremlin spindoctor, wrote on his Facebook page that “Nemtsov was killed by Putin’s enemies with the aim of framing Putin for the murder.” Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of the region of Chechnya, took things a step further: “There are no doubts whatsoever that Western special services organized Nemtsov’s murder,” he wrote on his Instagram account.

But to the average viewer of state-TV, Putin’s use of the term “provocation” would be enough to evoke the invisible hand of Russia’s enemies, while also hinting that the Kremlin, once provoked, could be justified in responding in unpredictable ways. Back in 1983, for instance, the Soviet Union claimed that its downing of a Korean airliner full of passengers was in fact the result of a blatant American provocation.

The term was similarly useful in redirecting blame in Nemtsov’s case, as investigators made clear in their statement on Saturday. Before they could even complete the forensic testing in the case, the sleuths at the Investigative Committee, Russia’s version of the FBI, declared that Nemtsov had likely become a “sacrificial victim” in a provocation staged by those who “want to destabilize the political situation” in Russia.

The Committee’s statement went on to offer a variety of colorful theories, suggesting that anyone from Islamic extremists to “very radical” but unspecified forces from Ukraine could be behind the murder. For good measure, they left open the possibility that Nemtsov was killed due to a personal or business dispute.

But the investigators made no mention of the people most obviously interested in silencing Nemtsov – the state officials he had for years antagonized with his campaigns against corruption. By leaving that out of their initial conclusions, the investigators in effect dismissed even the slightest possibility that the President’s supporters, not to mention his direct subordinates, could be behind the assassination of a man portrayed for years on Kremlin-run media as an enemy of the state.

Much the same has been the case after each of the violent attacks that have befallen Putin’s opponents during his 15 years in power. After every one of these crimes, state officials have suggested that the attackers were not out to kill or hurt their victims, but to tarnish Putin’s good name.

On one occasion in 2007, Putin’s adviser even lumped two of the most notorious unsolved murders together – those of the investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya in October 2006 and the whistleblower Alexander Litvinenko the following month – as a “well-planned provocation” against Russia. “There are strong groups that unite with each other in a constant onslaught against the President,” the adviser, Igor Shuvalov, said in explaining the murders, which seemed to have no clear connection to each other.

It never became clear what “strong groups” he was talking about, as no one was ever charged in Russia for ordering those two killings. Last fall, the Kremlin even refused to cooperate with a public inquiry into Litvinenko’s death in London, where he was poisoned in 2006 with radioactive polonium. British authorities have linked that murder to Russian security services, but have been stonewalled in response.

Given those precedents, the investigation into Nemtsov’s shooting will likely be just as murky, leaving most Russians to choose from the range of theories their leaders have already offered them, and to wonder what else to expect from a Kremlin so crudely provoked.

TIME India

India’s Modi Aims to Put Economy into Higher Gear With First Full Budget

India's PM Modi, President Mukherjee, Lok Sabha speaker Mahajanand Vice President Ansari walk inside the parliament premises as they arrive to attend the first day of the budget session in New Delhi
Reuters India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center left, and members of his government walk inside the parliament premises as they arrive to attend the first day of the budget session in New Delhi, Feb. 23, 2015.

Attempts to both satisfy the business community and help the poor

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government unveiled its first full-year budget on Saturday, ramping up infrastructure spending, cutting corporate taxes and unveiling plans for a new universal social security system.

Modi’s finance minister, Arun Jaitley, said the proposals laid out “a roadmap for accelerating growth,” as he delayed deficit-reduction plans to make room for new spending. But Jaitley steered clear of any measures to dramatically alter to the country’s economic architecture, sticking with, for example, food and fuel subsidies worth billions of dollars annually.

Instead, Modi’s government sought to balance the demands of business executives who were showing signs of impatience with the pace of economic reforms with measures to provide pensions and life insurance for the country’s poorest citizens. Here are five highlights from Saturday’s budget.

New infrastructure funding

Jaitley announced plans to pump an additional $11.4 billion in road, rail and other such projects across the country next year. He also said the government would set up a new fund to spur investment in infrastructure, long seen as a drag on growth as businesses both big and small struggle to move goods around the vast South Asian nation. The World Economic Forum’s annual global competitiveness report, for example, places India 87 out of 144 economies in terms of infrastructure. “Our infrastructure does not match our growth ambitions,” said Jaitley, as he also announced plans to set up five major power plants with a capacity of 4,000 megawatts each.

Taxes cut for business

Indian stock markets, which stayed open as Jaitley rose to speak in Parliament on Saturday, moved higher as the government unveiled a cut in corporate taxes from 30% to 25% over the next four years. “This will lead to higher levels of investment, higher growth and more jobs,” said Jaitley. A planned goods and services tax, meant to replace a series of federal and state-level taxes with a single levy, will be implemented from April next year. There was also a new tax on the country’s super-rich, or those earning more than Rs. 1 crore (around $162,000), who will now face a 2% surcharge on their incomes.

Social security reforms

While lower corporate taxes cheered business executives, Jaitley also unveiled plans for a new, wide-ranging social security scheme, including a measure that he said would provide government-subsidized accidental death insurance to the poor for an annual premium of Rs. 12 — or around 20 U.S. cents. There were also plans to provide pensions for the poor, and subsidize physical aids for senior citizens living below the poverty line.

Steps to bring tourists to India

The government said it would increase the number of countries covered by India’s visa-on-arrival initiative to 150 (albeit “in stages”) from the 43 announced last November, in order to boost tourism to the country. There were also measures to spruce up the country’s historic monuments, many of which are in need of restoration work.

A tax break for yoga

Prime Minister Modi approvingly thumped his desk in Parliament as Jaitley announced a move to class yoga as a charitable activity, making its promotion eligible for tax exemptions, according to the Press Trust of India news agency. A longstanding advocate of the discipline, Modi last year appointed a separate minister in his government responsible for the promotion of alternative therapies such as yoga and traditional medicine.

TIME faith

Pope Francis Rails Against Modern ‘Throwaway Culture’

Pope Francis delivers his speech during a special audience with members of the confederation of Italian cooperatives in Paul VI hall at the Vatican
Tony Gentile—Reuters Pope Francis delivers his speech during a special audience with members of the confederation of Italian cooperatives at the Vatican, Feb. 28, 2015.

Condemns the global economic order once again

Pope Francis has once again spoken out about the global economic climate, decrying an economic system that “seems fatally destined to suffocate hope and increase risks and threats.”

Speaking in Rome, the Pope condemned what he called a “throwaway culture created by the powers that control the economic and financial policies of the globalized world.”

But he proposed a solution of sorts, in the form of economic cooperatives that would help spread wealth equally: “Money at the service of life can be managed in the right way by cooperatives, on condition that it is a real cooperative where capital does not have command over men but men over capital.”

He quoted his namesake, St Francis of Assisi, in calling money the “devil’s dung,” according to Vatican Radio. “When money becomes an idol, it controls man’s choices,” he added. “It makes him a slave.”

This is far from the first time the Pope has addressed the condition of the working class in the globalized world; in a speech at the U.N. last year, the Pope asked world leaders to redistribute wealth.

[Vatican Radio]

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