indonesia

Indonesia Tries to Save the Orangutan

A veterinary staff member of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme center conducts medical examinations on a 14-year-old male orangutan found with air gun metal pellets embedded in his body in Sibolangit district in northern Sumatra island, April 16, 2014.
A veterinary staff member of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme center conducts medical examinations on a 14-year-old male orangutan found with air gun metal pellets embedded in his body in Sibolangit district in northern Sumatra island, April 16, 2014. Sutanta Aditya—AFP/Getty Images

Their habitats and lives are threatened by growing plantations and poachers

This orangutan was rescued near the Langkat district on April 15 with air gun metal pellets in his body, the victim of a worsening poaching crisis in a country where primate habitats are shrinking due to the land being converted to palm oil plantations.

Indonesia’s ministry of forestry personnel and the Orangutan Information Center have rescued and cared for hundreds of critically-endangered orangutans from palm oil plantations, poachers and pet owners. Over 200 have been reintroduced into the wild.

Ukraine

Top Diplomats Agree on Path Out of Ukraine Crisis

From left: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry talks with Russian Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov at the start of a bilateral meeting to discuss the ongoing situation in Ukraine on April 17, 2014 in Geneva.
From left: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry talks with Russian Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov at the start of a bilateral meeting to discuss the ongoing situation in Ukraine on April 17, 2014 in Geneva. Jim Bourg—AFP/Getty Images

Representatives from the U.S., the European Union, Ukraine and Russia agreed to a joint roadmap that includes disarming illegal militant groups and turning control of buildings held by pro-Russian separatists back to the government

Top diplomats meeting in Geneva, Switzerland Thursday agreed on a joint roadmap to ease tensions in eastern Ukraine.

Representatives from the U.S., the European Union, Ukraine and Russia agreed after seven hours of discussion to establish a national dialogue regarding Ukraine, while also calling for illegal militant groups to be disarmed and for all parties to refrain from intimidation or violence, the AP reports. The deal will include amnesty for pro-Russian protesters except those found guilty of capital crimes.

“Our most urgent task is to de-escalate the tension in Ukraine,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a press conference following the meeting. “The parties agreed that all sides must refrain from violence.”

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which counts Russia as one of its members, will help monitor compliance with the deal.

The arrangement could ease a global political showdown over Ukraine that has pitted Russia against the U.S. and the EU which escalated last month after Russia annexed the southern region of Crimea. It also may put on hold additional planned U.S. economic sanctions targeting Russia, though Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday the U.S. will have “no choice” but to impose the sanctions if the deal falls through.

Tensions have spiked recently amid clashes in eastern Ukraine between pro-Russian protesters and the new pro-Western government. Russia has amassed troops along the border with Ukraine and pledged to protect the large Russian minority in the region from the new pro-Western government despite threats from the U.S. and the EU.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said earlier Thursday the U.S. would provide more nonlethal military aid to Ukraine amid concerns of a Russian incursion, though the White House has not offered lethal military aid to the country.

[Associated Press]

Ukraine

Deal Reached On Calming Ukraine Tensions

John Kerry, Andrii Deshchytsia
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) meets with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia (R) for a bilateral meeting to discuss the ongoing situation in Ukraine as diplomats from the United States, Ukraine, Russia and the European Union gather for discussions in Geneva, Switzerland, April 17, 2014. Jim Bourg—AP

(GENEVA) — Top diplomats from the United States, European Union, Russia and Ukraine reached agreement Thursday on immediate steps to ease the crisis in Ukraine.

The agreement, reached after seven hours of negotiation in Geneva, requires all sides to refrain from violence, intimidation or provocative actions. It calls for the disarming of all illegally armed groups and for control of buildings seized by pro-Russian separatists during the protests to be turned back over to authorities.

It also gives amnesty to protesters who comply with the demands, except those found guilty of committing capital crimes.

Monitors with the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe will be tasked with helping Ukraine authorities and local communities comply with the requirements outlined in the agreement. And Kiev’s plans to reform its constitution and transfer more power from the central government to regional authorities must be inclusive, transparent and accountable — including through the creation of a broad national dialogue.

The tentative agreement could put on hold — for now at least — economic sanctions the West had prepared to impose on Russia if the talks were fruitless. And that would ease international pressure both on Moscow and nervous European Union nations that depend on Russia for their energy.

Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized the U.S. and its European allies for having what he called a double standard and said he hoped he would not have to deploy troops to Ukraine.

Ukraine was hoping to use the Geneva talks — the first of their kind over the crisis that threatens the new government in Kiev — to placate Russia and calm hostilities with its neighbor even as the U.S. prepared a new round of sanctions to punish Moscow for what it regards as fomenting unrest.

Meanwhile, Russia was honing a strategy of its own: Push the West as far as possible without provoking crippling sanctions against its financial and energy sectors or a military confrontation with NATO.

In a television appearance in Moscow on Thursday, Putin denied claims that Russian special forces were fomenting unrest in eastern Ukraine. He called the Ukrainian government’s effort to quash the uprising a “crime.”

In Washington, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the U.S. would send non-lethal assistance to Ukraine’s military in light of what he called Russia’s ongoing destabilizing actions there. He told a Pentagon news conference that the military assistance to Ukraine will include medical supplies, helmets, water purification units and power generators.

Ukraine has asked for military assistance from the U.S., a request that was believed to include lethal aid like weapons and ammunition. Obama administration officials have said they were not actively considering lethal assistance for fear it could escalate an already tense situation.

The U.S. has already sent Ukraine other assistance, such as pre-packaged meals for its military.

In Brussels, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the military alliance would increase its presence in Eastern Europe, including flying more sorties over the Baltic region west of Ukraine and deploying allied warships to the Baltic Sea and the eastern Mediterranean. NATO’s supreme commander in Europe, U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, told reporters that ground forces also could be involved at some point, but gave no details.

Officials said a full-scale Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine would result in broad U.S. and European sanctions on key Russian economic sectors, including its powerful energy industry. However, European nations are divided on whether to limit its access to Russia’s oil and gas supplies, and a vote to sanction must be unanimous among the EU’s 28 member states.

The sanctions that could be levied in the aftermath of the Geneva meeting were expected to focus on Putin’s close associates, including oligarchs who control much of Russia’s wealth, as well as businesses and other entities they control. It was unclear whether those sanctions would change Putin’s calculus, given that the U.S. and the Europeans already have launched targeted sanctions on people in Putin’s inner circle.

TIME 100

Justin Bieber Edges Out Egyptian Presidential Candidate in TIME 100 Reader Poll

Canadian singer Justin Bieber holds first place in TIME's reader poll for the year's most influential people, followed closely by Lady Gaga and Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt's former Army chief who is now running for the presidency

Despite a rocky year for Justin Bieber, the Canadian pop star surged to the top of the TIME 100 reader poll, edging out Egyptian Presidential candidate Abdul Fattah al-sisi. Though the final TIME 100 list of the most influential people of the year worldwide is always ultimately chosen by the editors, TIME seeks the input of readers in an online poll.

Music stars Rihanna and Lady Gaga take third and fourth place in the current poll, though Gaga has a clear lead. Benedict Cumberbatch, whose fans have come out strong on Twitter, has slipped to sixth place, just under Beyonce. On the same day that Orange is the New Black‘s season 2 trailer premiered, transgender actress Laverne Cox snuck into the top 10 above Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o and pop star Katy Perry.

Don’t like what you see? Voting’s still open–if not for long. Polls close at 11:59 p.m. on April 22. The final winner announced April 23. We’ll announce our official TIME 100 list on April 24.

Cast your vote in these categories: World, U.S. Politics, Business & Tech, Culture & Fashion, Movies & TV, Music, Media, and Sports.

South Korea

Captain of Ferry That Capsized Off South Korea ‘Really Sorry’

Coast guard members search for passengers near a South Korean ferry that capsized on its way to Jeju island from Incheon on April 16, 2014.
Coast guard members search for passengers near a South Korean ferry that capsized on its way to Jeju island from Incheon on April 16, 2014. Dong-A Ilbo—AFP/Getty Images

Lee Joon-seok apologizes to survivors and relatives after the Sewol capsized off South Korea, leaving at least 14 dead and more than 280 unaccounted for

The captain of a ferry that capsized Wednesday off the southern South Korean coast apologized Thursday for his role in the incident that left at least 14 dead and 282 missing.

“I am really sorry and deeply ashamed,” Captain Lee Joon-seok said during a coast guard investigative interview that appeared on South Korean television Thursday, ABC News reports. “I don’t know what to say.”

Lee, who was reportedly one of the first people to evacuate the sinking ferry, faces possible criminal charges over the incident.

Fourteen people have been found dead while another 179 have been rescued from the vessel. Another 282 passengers — many of them students on a high school trip — are still missing, Reuters reports.

Divers are still searching for survivors as some hope that still-missing passengers may be alive in air-filled pockets inside the vessel.

[ABC News]

Ukraine

Putin: I Would Be Justified Using Force in Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned during a live televised Q&A on Thursday that he would send troops to protect the people of eastern Ukraine and that Kiev gave him just the visuals he needed to revive his faltering narrative about civilians under threat

Vladimir Putin could not have picked a better day than Thursday, April 17, to hold his annual call-in show on Russian television. Two days earlier, Ukraine’s government had sent its military to fight armed Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. The result on Wednesday in the region of Donetsk was a series of clashes and confrontations between the military and the local separatists. So on Thursday, when Putin appeared live on TV, he clearly felt he had every excuse to move one step closer toward a Russian intervention.

“The people in the eastern regions have started arming themselves,” Putin said in response to a question about the Ukrainian crisis. “And instead of realizing that something isn’t right in the Ukrainian state and moving toward a dialogue, [the government in Kiev] began threatening more force and even moved in tanks and planes against the peaceful population. This is yet another very serious crime of Ukraine’s current rulers.” He then reminded viewers that the Russian parliament has given him approval to send troops into Ukraine. “I really hope that I’m won’t be forced to use that right,” he says.

But Russia has been warning for months that it would take eastern Ukraine “under its protection” if the local population came under threat of military force. The Kremlin’s television channels have meanwhile been hyping that threat with all the subtlety of a jackhammer. Their narrative has been simple: Ukraine’s revolution brought fascists to power in February; those fascists are out to repress the Russian-speaking regions of southern and eastern Ukraine; salvation lies in separatism and, if needed, in Russia’s protection.

MORE: Should Vladimir Putin be on the 2014 Time 100? Vote now.

In late February, when Russia began its invasion of Crimea on the pretext of protecting its residents from Ukraine’s revolution, that story was an easy sell. The new government in Kiev was only a week old at the time, and most people in Ukraine’s outlying regions had no clear idea of the leaders who would emerge from the revolution. Many people in Crimea bought into the Russian line that nationalist thugs were on their way from Kiev to terrorize the local population.

But in the past few weeks, the Kremlin’s narrative had grown increasingly hard to maintain. The people of eastern Ukraine have had nearly two months to size up their new leaders and compare them to the fascist cabal depicted on Russian TV, and they could see that Russia’s warnings were overblown. “It’s all lies,” says Vera Oleynik, a pensioner in the city of Donetsk who said she stopped watching the news – Russian and Ukrainian – weeks ago. “It’s enough to give you heart trouble,” she says. “I only believe what I see with my own eyes.” And it has been clear enough to the locals that no nationalist thugs have come to cause havoc, while Kiev’s choice for the new governor of the Donetsk region, Serhiy Taruta, turned out last month to be a local tycoon who runs the region’s football club. Even if his constituents do not like him, they know him well enough to tell that he’s no fascist.

For the region’s pro-Russian separatists, that has been a frustrating development. The crowds that have come out to support them in eastern Ukraine have been thin, numbering a few thousand people at most, many of them idle gawkers or truant teenagers. Opinion polls suggest that there is nowhere near a majority of people in these regions would favor breaking away from Ukraine and joining Russia, as the separatists managed to do last month in Crimea.

But in the past two days, the tanks rolling into eastern Ukraine have helped Russia revive its narrative and build its case for an intervention. That effort has involved large doses of deception. In his call-in show, for instance, Putin neglected to mention what exactly these tanks were doing in eastern Ukraine. So far, they have mostly been surrendering to the local gunmen rather than firing a shot. In the village of Pchyolkino, a column of Ukrainian tanks was surrounded for hours on Wednesday by a mix of civilians and uniformed gunmen, and rather than forcing their way through, the soldiers abandoned their tanks and armored vehicles to the crowd.

Though humiliated, those soldiers most likely avoided a bloodbath at the cost of their pride and their careers. (The government in Kiev pledged on Thursday to put them on trial for “cowardice.”) But the separatists in eastern Ukraine still managed to get the gunfight they have been trying to provoke for days. On Wednesday night, a group of gunmen arrived at a military base in the south of the Donetsk region and demanded the Ukrainian soldiers surrender their weapons and “come over to the side of the people.” Though it is not clear who fired the first shot, the ensuing firefight reportedly left a dozen people wounded and as many as three dead before midnight.

The Russian state media jumped on this news immediately. The Kremlin-funded Russia Today network reported that the casualties resulted from a “confrontation between anti-government protesters and soldiers.” Its report neglected to mention that the protesters were armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles, which they were not shy in firing at the military servicemen. But those details are easily lost in the Kremlin’s broader picture of peaceful civilians being overrun by the Ukrainian army.

Across the Donetsk region, the increasing brazenness of the separatist attacks now seems geared to provoke that kind of violence. On Wednesday morning, for instance, a group of masked gunmen stormed city hall in the region of Donetsk. Calling themselves members of a group called Oplot – in English, Bulwark – the two dozen men walked into the building with shotguns and assault rifles and set up positions at every entrance. One of their leaders, a pudgy man in his fifties who identified himself as Igor, told TIME near the backdoor of the building that they were simply there to make sure that local officials “do their job without interference” from the central government in Kiev. And what if Kiev sends its military to interfere? “I don’t know,” Igor said, lifting his surgical mask to drag on a cigarette. “Maybe Moscow will help us.”

Barack Obama

Obama: ‘We Don’t Need a War’ With Russia

President Barack Obama walks from the Oval Office to the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, April 1, 2014.
President Barack Obama walks from the Oval Office to the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, April 1, 2014. Manuel Balce Ceneta—AP

President Obama downplayed the chance of a military conflict with Russia over the escalating tension in eastern Ukraine, in an interview that aired Thursday, saying it's not up to either country to decide what kind of relationships Ukraine has with its neighbors

President Barack Obama said in an interview that aired Thursday that “we don’t need a war” with Russia, downplaying the chance of military conflict between the U.S. and Russia over tensions in Ukraine.

“What we do need is a recognition that countries like Ukraine can have relationships with a whole range of their neighbors, and it is not up to anybody, whether it’s Russia or the United States or anybody else, to make decisions for them,” Obama said in an interview with CBS Chief White House Correspondent Major Garrett on Thursday’s broadcast of CBS This Morning.

Obama’s comments came days after a Russian fighter jet made multiple close-range passes near a U.S. Navy ship in the Black Sea. When asked if the aircraft “buzz” represented Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attempt to send a signal to Washington, Obama said Russia is “not interested in any kind of military confrontation with us, understanding that our conventional forces are significantly superior to the Russians.”

“As commander-in-chief, I don’t make decisions based on perceived signals. We make decision very deliberately, based on what’s required for our security and for the security of our allies,” Obama added. “And the Russians understand that.”

Putin has amassed Russian troops on Ukraine’s eastern border and threatened to invade amid tensions between the pro-Western government and a large ethnic Russian minority in the region, despite the threat of increased economic sanctions from the U.S. and Western European powers.

Zeke Miller contributed reporting.

Argentina

Argentina Rescues Girl Imprisoned in Garage for Nine Years

The 15-year-old was discovered by one of her biological sisters

Argentinean police said Wednesday they rescued a 15-year-old girl who had been severely beaten, starved and locked in a garage for nine years by her foster parents, the BBC reports. The girl was found in the Buenos Aires by one of her biological sisters, who had previously lost track of her.

Argentine officials said the girl was taken into foster care after a court declared her biological parents financially unfit to provide for her along with their seven other children. The girl’s biological family lost track of their daughter after 2005 for reasons unclear.

The girl had reportedly only been fed bread and water while in captivity and barely weighed 44 pounds when she was discovered. She had apparently been out of the garage twice in nine years, with only a dog and a monkey for company while she was detained. She claimed her foster parents physically abused her if she tried to eat any of the leftover food given to the pets.

The girl has been taken to a local hospital for treatment while her guardians have been arrested and charged with slavery and abuse.

[BBC]

ukraine crisis

Putin Tells Snowden Russia Doesn’t Collect Citizens’ Data

The Russian leader responds to NSA leaker Edward Snowden's question about whether the state intercepts citizens' communications "in any way"

Updated 10:15 a.m. ET Thursday

Russian President Vladimir Putin told National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden on Thursday during a live broadcast that Russia doesn’t intercept citizens’ data en masse.

“You are a former spy so we will talk one professional language,” Putin, a former officer in the former Soviet Union’s KGB intelligence agency, told Snowden after he asked during a televised questions-and-answers session if Russia intercepts “the communications in any way of millions of individuals.”

“Our intelligence efforts are strictly regulated by our law. We have to get permission to stalk any particular person,” Putin said.

The White House did not comment on the Snowden-Putin exchange.

Putin also admitted during the broadcast for the first time that Russian troops had been sent to Crimea, which Russia annexed last month after it split from Ukraine. He stressed during the show that he had Russian lawmakers’ blessings to deploy military forces in eastern Ukraine as well if necessary.

“I remind you that the Federation Council has given the president the right to use armed forces in Ukraine,” he said, referencing the upper house of Russia’s Parliament, according to the Times. “I really hope that I do not have to exercise this right and that by political and diplomatic means we will be able to solve all of the sharp problems.”

Putin’s comments come as Russia has massed troops along the border with Ukraine after pledging to “protect” the large Russian minority in the region. Recent clashes between authorities and pro-Russian protesters have intensified in recent hours, as three separatists were killed during a firefight early Thursday near a Ukrainian National Guard outpost.

“The question is to ensure the rights and interests of the Russian southeast,” Putin said, according to the Times. “It’s new Russia. Kharkiv, Lugansk, Donetsk, Odessa were not part of Ukraine in Czarist times, they were transferred in 1920. Why? God knows. Then for various reasons these areas were gone, and the people stayed there — we need to encourage them to find a solution.”

This post has been updated to reflect the White House’s lack of comment on the Putin-Snowden exchange.

[New York Times]

Syria

Facebook Removes Jihadist Preacher’s Page

The social media site is thought to have removed his page on the grounds that it violated restrictions on promoting violence

Facebook confirmed Thursday it removed the page of a radical preacher from Australia who reportedly used social media to encourage terrorist acts, The Guardian reports.

Musa Cerantonio, a Muslim preacher from Melbourne, was using his Facebook page to urge followers to kill American politicians. Cerantonio posted in December, for example, that “if we see that Muslims are being killed by tyrant leaders of the U.S.A. then we must stop them with our hands. This means that we should stop them by fighting them, by assassinating their oppressive leaders, by weakening their offensive capabilities etc [sic].”

The removal of his page comes after academics at London’s King’s College found that Cerantonio was among the most “liked” preachers among western jihadists who’ve traveled to Syria to fight. That finding came after researchers analyzed for more than a year the social media behaviors of 190 Syria-based Western fighters fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The Guardian claimed another radical preacher from the U.S., Ahmad Musa Jibril, has twice praised the deaths of British Muslim fighters killed in Syria on Twitter. Jibril reportedly deleted his account after the researchers published their report.

[The Guardian]

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