TIME Lesotho

Resident: Lesotho Military Occupies Police Station

Unconfirmed rumors of attempted coup

(JOHANNESBURG) — The military in Lesotho has occupied police stations and surrounded some government buildings in the capital of the mountainous country and are moving to other districts, a security guard at the U.S. Embassy said Saturday.

Gunfire that rung out early in the morning has since stopped, said Bernard Ntlhoaea, a guard at the U.S. Embassy in Maseru, Lesotho’s capital. Some other residents were reporting continued gunfire over Twitter.

“The military has been moving around from 3 o’clock in the morning, occupying police stations in Maseru and moving around to other districts,” said Ntlhoaea. He said the military was armed and he saw at least one armored personnel carrier on the streets.

Radio stations were not broadcasting, except for a Catholic station, which maintained normal programming, he said.

Lesotho, located within South Africa’s borders, had undergone several military coups since gaining independence from Britain in 1966.

TIME Ukraine

U.S. Warns Against Ukraine Travel

People walk past a building damaged by shelling in Snizhne (Snezhnoye), Donetsk region
People walk past a building damaged by shelling in Snizhne, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Aug. 29, 2014. Maxim Shemetov—Reuters

Escalating conflict in the region prompted the new travel advisory for Americans

The U.S. State Department warned Americans Friday to avoid traveling to eastern Ukraine, in response to the ongoing conflict between Ukraine’s armed forces and Russia-backed separatists.

“The situation in Ukraine is unpredictable and could change quickly,” the statement said. “U.S. citizens throughout Ukraine should avoid large crowds and be prepared to remain indoors and shelter in place for extended periods of time should clashes occur in their vicinity.”

The announcement identified the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, which have been plagued with violent outbreaks for months, as the key areas to avoid. U.S. citizens have been threatened and detained in the region, according to the release. It also advised Americans to “defer all travel to the Crimean Peninsula.”

The U.S. announcement comes as the conflict in Ukraine continues to escalate with each passing day. Up to 1,ooo Russian troops appeared to enter Ukraine on Friday, and the Ukrainian government responded by instituting a mandatory conscription.

TIME natural disaster

Volcano Erupts in Papua New Guinea, Diverting Flights

PNG-VOLCANO
A photo taken on August 29, 2014, shows Mount Tavurvur erupting in eastern Papua New Guinea, spewing rocks and ash into the air, forcing the evacuation of local communities and international flights to be re-routed. Joyce Lessimanuaja—AFP/Getty Images

A volcanic eruption in Papua New Guinea on Friday sent smoke and ash spewing high over the South Pacific island nation, leading some aircraft to alter their flight paths.

Mount Tavurvur on East New Britain Island erupted hours before dawn, a bulletin from the Rabaul Volcanological Observatory said. There have been no reports of injuries…

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

TIME Military

Pentagon: Iraq Operations Costing U.S. More Than $7.5 Million A Day

Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby Holds Press Briefing
Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby listens during a press briefing at the Pentagon August 29, 2014 in Arlington, Virginia. Alex Wong—Getty Images

But the daily costs have been ramping up recently

The U.S. air and advisory campaign against the militants in Iraq is costing American taxpayers more than $7.5 million per day, the Pentagon said Friday.

The daily cost of the effort, which has included airstrikes and sending American military advisors to assist the Iraqi military on the ground, has hit $7.5 million on average, according to Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby. The daily cost in recent weeks has been higher.

“So as you might imagine, it didn’t start out at $7.5 million per day. It’s been—as our [operational tempo] and as our activities have intensified, so too has the cost,” Kirby told reporters, offering the government’s first official assessment of the cost of the operation.

U.S. ground advisors were ordered into Iraq in June, while U.S. Central Command began airstrikes against the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), as well as humanitarian drops to assist encircled Iraqi minorities in early August. CENTCOM announced Friday that it had conducted four airstrikes in the vicinity of the critical Mosul Dam on Friday, bringing the total number of strikes since August 8 to 110.

Kirby said the Pentagon continues to believe it will be able to fund the operations through the current fiscal year ending Sept. 30 using its existing resources.

The dollar figure comes as the Pentagon is drawing up plans to expand the military campaign against ISIS in Iraq and potentially into Syria following the killing of American journalist James Foley more than a week ago. President Barack Obama said Thursday that no decision on strikes in Syria is imminent, but said he may have to ask Congress to provide additional funding for the campaign against ISIS for the next fiscal year.

TIME Web

See Every Single Device Connected to the Internet

Internet Map
A map showing every device connected to the Internet. John Matherly /@achillean

Bright spots and blackouts trace wide disparities in global connectivity

A map of every device connected to the Internet shows the wealthiest parts of the world flush with connections, while poor and sparsely populated parts of the world are blacked out — as well as a few head scratchers in between.

The map was created by John Matherly, founder of Shodan, a search engine that probes the Internet’s backend for connections to all sorts of devices from routers to refrigerators. Matherly said it took about five hours to ping every IP address on the Internet and store every positive response. It took another 12 hours to plot the responses on a heat map which glows bright orange in densely connected areas and blue and black in sparsely connected areas.

The United State and Western Europe are, not surprisingly, awash in connectivity. Africa and central Asia have islands of connectivity centered on urban areas. Then there are head-scratchers like Greenland, which has a single isolated dot smack in the island’s center. A Reddit user speculated it was an NOAA observatory on the summit of the Greenland Ice Sheet.

“Oh my f***ing God!! You’re the guy!!!,” wrote another Reddit commentator, ForceBlade, who detected a mysterious ping request around the time of Matherly’s project. “You touched my heart, and my server.”

TIME europe

Only Gender Quotas Can Stop the E.U. from Being a Boys Club

Newly elected President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker is congratulated on July 15, 2014, in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.
Newly elected President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker is congratulated on July 15, 2014, in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France. Frederick Florin—AFP/Getty Images

The European Commission's president has asked that EU member states nominate female candidates. Here's why gender quotas are necessary

Gender anxiety is enveloping the top levels of the European Union. By the end of this month, each of the bloc’s 28 countries is expected to put forward their candidate to sit on the European Commission, the powerful body that drives policy-making and enforces E.U. law.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the Commission’s new president, has instructed member states to send female candidates, saying he wants more women in the top jobs. A social media campaign – #10orMore – is also under way to boost female representation at the E.U. to a record high.

Unfortunately, governments are not playing ball: so far only five countries have nominated women. Nineteen other nations have nominated a man, with four countries still to announce their candidates.

The goal of getting more women into top decision-making posts is simply common sense given that they represent more than half of the E.U.’s 507 million citizens. Right now this is not reflected by their visibility in politics, business or the media, meaning their interests are often sidelined.

The drive to change the status quo at the top echelons of the E.U. has attracted skepticism. On the Facebook page of Neelie Kroes – one of the nine women in the outgoing Commission and a co-founder of the #10orMore campaign – critics question why gender would qualify a person for one of the 28 commissioner posts.

Such knee-jerk accusations of tokenism greet most attempts to introduce gender quotas in politics or the boardroom. But while so many barriers stand between women and senior positions – and these range from sexism in the workplace, high childcare costs and the unequal distribution of maternity and paternity leave – quotas are one of the few measures that actually have an impact.

In 1997 the British Labour party introduced all-women short lists for parliamentary candidates in some constituencies. Later that year, a record number of women were elected, and Labour still has the highest proportion of female MPs in Britain.

Britain’s Conservative party, which formed a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats in 2010, does not support all-women short lists, and a U.N. survey of women in ministerial positions earlier this year shows Britain languishing at around the halfway point, below Morocco and Cote d’Ivoire, with women making up just 15% of the cabinet.

There are other poor performers in Europe, with Greece, Cyprus and Hungary faring even worse, reflecting the problems Juncker is having in rallying enough women for his Commission.

At the other end of the spectrum, however, are Sweden and Finland, which are in the top three of the U.N. survey with over 50% female representation in their cabinets. France and Norway are close to reaching gender parity.

What the top performers have in common are long-term and often legislated programs to improve gender equality across society. In Sweden, political parties have since the early 1990s imposed voluntary quotas for election candidates. Norway was the first to introduce quotas for women on company boards, while France has legally-binding quotas for both politics and the boardroom. “Quotas are nobody’s first choice but where they are introduced they do improve representation, they do improve visibility of women,” says Clare McNeil, a senior fellow at the London-based Institute for Public Policy Research, adding that they work best when coupled with penalties for non-compliance.

Given the pool of female talent in the E.U., having just a handful of women in the Commission would be a pitiful performance. It is crucial now that efforts to increase female representation go beyond headline-grabbing promises. Juncker and the European Parliament, which approves the Commission, must make good on threats to reject the line-up if it is too male-dominated.

Hopefully quotas will not need to be in place forever. But right now Europe is so far from being a level playing field that radical measures are needed to kick-start lasting change in society.

Charlotte McDonald-Gibson is a writer and journalist based in Brussels.

TIME Pakistan

Pakistan’s Army Steps in as Politicians Continue to Squabble

PAKISTAN-UNREST-POLITICS
Pakistani supporters of Canada-based preacher Tahir-ul-Qadri shout anti-government slogans during a protest in front of the Parliament in Islamabad on Aug. 29, 2014. Aamir Qureshi—AFP/Getty Images

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif asked the powerful army chief to negotiate a resolution to the political crisis

Just last May, Pakistan was celebrating its first ever successful transition from one elected government to another, after the completion of a full five-year term in office. Now, just 15 months after the last elections, hopes of democracy strengthening have dissipated after the country’s powerful army stepped in on Thursday night to assume a political role and mediate with anti-government protestors.

For over two weeks now, the Pakistani capital Islamabad has been paralyzed by tens of thousands of protestors led by the former cricket captain-turned-opposition leader Imran Khan and the prominent cleric Tahir ul-Qadri. The two groups insisted they were separate but led closely coordinated campaigns. Khan wanted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to resign, while Qadri has been insisting on a complete overhaul of the country’s political system as part of a self-styled “revolution.”

The government’s efforts to negotiate with the protestors repeatedly failed. Each time, Khan said that nothing short of the prime minister’s resignation would suffice. The former World Cup-winning cricket star claims that last year’s elections were systematically rigged to deny him victory—something the government strenuously denies. The European Union’s Election Observation Mission praised the 2013 elections as a demonstration of “strong democratic commitment,” in its July 2013 report, but added that “fundamental problems” remain in the electoral process that leave it “vulnerable to malpractice.”

Khan has become an increasingly polarizing figure in recent weeks: to his hardcore of supporters he is a rare, principled politician taking on a venal and inept political class; to his opponents he is a vain and reckless politician who is prepared to risk damaging democracy in pursuit of power. At the height of the protests, he incited his supporters to stop paying taxes and electricity bills as part of a “civil disobedience” campaign, and, in a flight of rhetoric, even seemed to be challenging Prime Minister Sharif to a duel.

Late on Thursday night, after weeks of holding out, Prime Minister Sharif asked Gen. Raheel Sharif (no relation) to negotiate a resolution to the crisis. The move seemed to underscore two abiding realities in Pakistan. The often squabbling civilians are still unable to resolve their differences among themselves, and that the true center of power remains the military’s headquarters in Rawalpindi.

There is no danger of the army taking over and imposing martial law. There appears to be little appetite for that in Pakistan, despite similar rollbacks of civilian rule over the last two years in Egypt and Thailand. But now the civilian government’s authority has been badly, if not fatally, weakened. Even if Prime Minister Sharif survives the current crisis, with his parliamentary majority intact, he will be hamstrung in his ability to implement many of his proposed reforms.

The Sharif government has scarcely helped itself, though. Prime Minister Sharif’s name was this week included among the accused in a police report looking into the killings of 14 protestors loyal to cleric Qadri in June, in the eastern city of Lahore. On that occasion, the notoriously heavy-handed Punjab police lived up to its reputation by assailing the crowds with tear gas and later opening fire. The prime minister isn’t likely to be tried for the incident, but his younger brother, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, is facing intense pressure to step down now.

Although Prime Minister Sharif formally asked the army chief to step in, it is widely suggested that he did so reluctantly. The Punjabi industrialist-turned-leader of the conservative Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has a decades-old difficult relationship with Pakistan’s generals. Once a protégé of the former dictator Gen. Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, Sharif turned against his mentors and has repeatedly clashed with every army chief during his two terms as prime minister in the 1990s. The last of those confrontations, in 1999, saw him overthrown in a military coup led by Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

Prime Minister Sharif’s current difficulties with the army appear to stretch back to his decision, soon after assuming office last year, to place Musharraf on trial for imposing a state of emergency in November 2007. His government’s other initiatives, including attempts at warmer ties with neighbors New Delhi and Kabul through an independent foreign policy, are believed to have chafed military leaders. Now, the army will likely play a more decisive role when it comes to Pakistan’s foreign and defense policies, relegating the civilians to the often messy and unpopular business of day-to-day governance.

Soon after it was announced that the army chief would step into mediate late on Thursday night, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, the defense minister and one of Prime Minister Sharif’s closest aides tried to gloss over the occasion by claiming that the army was merely playing “a constitutional role”. But another member of the Sharif cabinet was plainly dispirited by the sight of thousands on the street being able to imperil a national electoral mandate. A picture is worth a thousand words, tweeted Khurram Dastgir-Khan, the commerce minister, with an attached image. It was the movie poster for George Lucas’ Star Wars film, “The Empire Strikes Back.”

TIME Pictures of the Week

Pictures of the Week: Aug. 22 – Aug.29

From Michael Brown’s funeral and a cease fire in Gaza, to swarms of locusts in Madagascar and the US Open Tennis Championships, TIME presents the best pictures of the week.

TIME Israel-Palestinian conflict

Palestinian Leader Says Hamas Caused Prolonged War

(RAMALLAH, West Bank) — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has accused Hamas of needlessly extending fighting in the Gaza Strip, causing a high death toll.

Abbas told Palestine TV in remarks broadcast Friday that “it was possible for us to avoid all of that, 2,000 martyrs, 10,000 injured, 50,000 houses (damaged or destroyed).”

Israel and Hamas militants fought for 50 days before reaching a truce on Tuesday.

More than 2,100 Palestinians were killed, including hundreds of civilians. Seventy one people on the Israeli side, including six civilians, were killed.

Several Egyptian mediated cease-fire attempts failed. Hamas eventually accepted almost the same truce offered at the beginning.

Abbas, whose Palestinian Authority runs the West Bank, formed a unity government backed by Hamas earlier this year. Abbas questioned the future of that arrangement in the interview.

TIME uk

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

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

+ READ ARTICLE

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.”

 

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