TIME europe

Europe Will Increase Security Checks on Trains, French Government Says

APTOPIX France Train Attack
AP French police officers patrol at Gare du Nord train station in Paris on Aug. 22, 2015.

The announcement comes in the wake of recent attack attempt on a French train

(PARIS) — European countries will increase identity checks and baggage controls on trains after American passengers thwarted an attack on a high-speed train from Amsterdam to Paris, France’s interior minister said Saturday.

Bernard Cazeneuve said the checks would be carried out “everywhere it is necessary” but did not give other details. He spoke after an emergency meeting in Paris with top security and transport officials from nine countries and the European Union in the wake of last week’s attack attempt.

He called for better coordination on intelligence and security across Europe’s border-free travel zone, and “coordinated and simultaneous actions” by European security forces, saying that is “indispensable” to protecting train travel.

He also said officials are looking at ways to work with the aviation industry on improving train security.

The suspect in last week’s attack had been on the radar of European surveillance but bought his ticket in cash and showed no ID, and brought an automatic rifle and a handgun onboard unnoticed.

The ministers were also talking about giving train security staff more powers, and increasing the number of mixed patrols of international police teams on cross-border trains, according to four French security or justice officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity as they weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

One thing not on the table Saturday: calling into question the principles of Europe’s border-free travel, known as the Schengen zone.

The security officials said there’s no way to monitor each passenger and bag without choking the continental train system, which Europeans rely upon heavily.

“We can’t do and don’t want complete, comprehensive checks on people or luggage in trains in Germany or Europe,” German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said on the sidelines of the meeting.

He said the main issue is to improve targeted cooperation and the exchange of information on suspicious people.

France alone sees tens of thousands of international train passengers daily, in addition to millions of daily domestic train travelers. The country’s national rail authority SNCF is concerned about the cost of additional security, according to one of the French security officials.

Countries involved in Saturday’s meeting were France, Belgium, Britain, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland, as well as the European Union’s top transport and interior affairs officials.

EU officials were expected to press for the increased use of closed circuit cameras in trains and stations and more metal detectors at entrances.

The European Commission was to raise the idea of using full-body scanners for people who try to board at the last minute. Another idea is the more concerted use of passenger information, which some companies already collect, like the traveler data collected in air transport.

Plainclothes “rail marshals” are another possibility.

The results of Saturday’s conference will be debated by Europe’s rail security group on Sept. 11, and forwarded for EU transport ministers to discuss when they meet October 7-8.

___

Geir Moulson in Berlin and Lorne Cook in Brussels contributed.

TIME Lebanon

Thousands in Lebanon Protest Against Government

Mideast Lebanon
Bilal Hussein—AP Anti-government protesters carry Lebanese flags during a demonstration against the trash crisis and government corruption, in Beirut on Aug. 29, 2015.

Demonstrations began last week over garbage piling up in the streets of Beirut

(BEIRUT) — Thousands of people began gathering Saturday amid tight security in downtown Beirut, ahead of a major rally to protest government corruption and the country’s dysfunctional political system.

At least two or three armored personnel carriers were deployed around the prime minister’s office. A man over a megaphone chanted: “Declare it a revolution!”

Saturday’s protest is expected to be the largest of the demonstrations that began last week over garbage piling up in the streets of Beirut, following the closure of a main landfill. But the government’s failure to resolve the crisis has evolved into wider protests against a political class that has dominated Lebanon since the end of the country’s civil war in 1990.

Two protests last weekend outside the prime minister’s office drew up to 20,000 people and were generally peaceful. But the rallies turned violent when security forces used batons, tear gas and water cannons to disperse groups of people who tried to break the security cordon around the prime minister’s office.

There were concerns that Saturday’s protest would also descend into clashes. To avoid friction with security forces, organizers of the protest shifted the location from Riyad Solh square opposite the government building known as the Grand Serail to Martyr’s Square, a major square few hundred meters away.

The government said a joint security-military operations room was set up to prevent chaos.

Thousands of people gathered in downtown Beirut, many of them waving Lebanese flags and wearing white T-shirts that read “You Stink,” the name of the main activist group behind the protests.

The London-based rights group Amnesty International called on Lebanese authorities Saturday to investigate allegations that security forces have used excessive force to disperse rallies.

Amnesty said security forces fired live rounds, used rubber bullets and hurled stones or beat protesters, leaving 59 people hospitalized. It called on security forces to refrain from using “unnecessary or excessive” force during Saturday’s protest.

“Everyone in Lebanon has the right to peaceful assembly. Lebanese officials must uphold this right and send a clear message to security personnel that such attacks against peaceful protesters will not be tolerated,” said Lama Fakih, senior crisis adviser at Amnesty International.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk acknowledged there were “mistakes” that led to the excessive use of force and said an investigation was under way. Officials say more than 100 security personnel were also injured.

Reflecting concern over renewed clashes, the rally organizers from “You Stink” said they are deploying 500 volunteers to coordinate with security forces and prevent violence.

Assaad Thebian, a movement organizer, said his group wants to avoid any attempts to spoil their peaceful anti-government rally. They worry politicians would seek to hijack their protest, further entrenching the political establishment they are protesting against.

The campaigners say they seek radical reforms including an end the patronage system that divvies up power among Lebanon’s multiple communities — Shiites, Sunnis, Christians, Druze and more. That system has been the center of Lebanese politics for decades and helped fuel the 15-year civil war.

“We warn every politician trying to create chaos by opening a battle in one square that it will fire back at you,” Thebian wrote on his Twitter account.

TIME Germany

Germany Will Allow Syrian Refugees to Stay and Apply for Asylum

Migrants Seeking Asylum Arrive In Berlin
Sean Gallup—Getty Images A young migrant boy from Syria blows soap bubbles as other migrants seeking asylum in Germany wait to register at the Central Registration Office for Asylum Seekers in Berlin on Aug. 27, 2015.

The new rule comes as Germany is witnessing a surge in attacks on refugee shelters

In a move that will affect tens of thousands, Germany will now allow Syrian refugees to stay and apply for asylum instead of deporting them back to their country of arrival.

The Washington Post reports the country has decided to suspend a European Union rule, called the the Dublin Regulation, which says refugees are supposed to stay in the first European country of arrival until their asylum claims are processed. This rule places an unequal burden on Southern European countries like Greece and Italy, which are amongst the easiest to reach by boat from across the Mediterranean. Both Italy and Greece have faced unprecedented levels of migrant inflow this past year.

Under the new policy, even if the refugees first arrive in Greece or Italy but travel northwards to Germany, they will not be deported back to their first country of contact.

 

Germany appears to be the only EU country to suspend the Dublin Regulation so far.“This is only the one that we are aware of among the member states at this moment,” the European Commission said.

German chancellor Angela Merkel recently called the migrant crisis a bigger challenge for the EU than the Greek debt. The new rule come at a time when Germany is witnessing a surge in attacks on refugee shelters.

This decision seems was well received by the Syrian community, as evidenced by the outpouring of love notes and messages for Merkel on social media.

 

TIME swaziland

At Least 38 Women and Girls Killed in Swaziland Car Crash

The victims—young women and girls—were allegedly travelling on the back of an open truck

(JOHANNESBURG) — At least 38 girls and young women were killed in a crash while travelling to Swaziland’s most famous traditional festival, a rights group said on Saturday.

About 20 others were injured when the truck they were in collided with another vehicle on Friday, the Swaziland Solidarity Network said in a statement. The young women and girls were travelling on the back of an open truck, the rights group said.

The girls and young women were on their way to the Swazi king’s royal residence for the annual reed dance.

About 40,000 young women participate in the eight-day reed dance ceremony in which they sing and dance, usually bare-breasted, as they bring reeds to reinforce the windbreak around the royal residence. During the reed dance, the king often selects one of the young women to become one of his wives. Swaziland is polygamous and the king has more than a dozen wives.

“We all have heard about the dark cloud that has befallen the ‘imbali,'” said King Mswati III, using the Swati language word for flower, used to refer to the groups of women dancers. Speaking Saturday at the opening of an international trade fair in Swaziland’s economic center Manzini, the king promised that the affected families would be compensated. He added that an investigation into the accident was underway.

Police in Swaziland, a small mountainous country of 1.4 million people bordering northeastern South Africa and Mozambique, discouraged reporting on the accident, said the rights group. Press photographers were prevented from taking pictures at the scene, said a Swazi journalist who insisted on anonymity for security reasons. However some people managed to take photographs of the aftermath of the crash with their cell phones.

A high-ranking police officer contacted by The Associated Press refused to comment on the accident, saying the matter was related to the “highest authority,” and no details could be disclosed to the media.

“You don’t hide a death,” said Lucky Lukhele, spokesman for the Swaziland Solidarity Network. Members of the Swaziland Defense Force alerted the rights group to the accident, Lukhele said, adding that he expected the death toll to rise.

The females were travelling on a highway between the Swazi cities of Mbabane and Manzini, when the truck carrying them smashed into a vehicle and was then hit in the rear by a second truck, the Times of Swaziland reported.

“We were about 50 on board the first truck that smashed into the Toyota van,” said Siphelele Sigudla, 18, a survivor quoted by the Times of Swaziland.

Swaziland is Africa’s last absolute monarchy, ruled by King Mswati since 1986. Swaziland held parliamentary elections in 2013, but many international observers say the electoral process is manipulated to prolong the king’s hold on power. According to the king, Swaziland’s image has been damaged by misinformation.

The country has one of the world’s highest rates of HIV infection.

TIME Turkey

Turkey Launches First Coalition Airstrikes Against ISIS

A Turkish Air Force F-16 fighter jet lands at Incirlik air base in Adana, Turkey
Murad Sezer—Reuters A Turkish Air Force F-16 fighter jet lands at Incirlik air base in Adana, Turkey on Aug. 11, 2015.

Turkey came to a decision to actively participate in efforts against ISIS after months of hesitation

(ANKARA, Turkey) — Turkey announced Saturday that its fighter jets have carried out their first airstrikes as part of the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State group in Syria.

A Foreign Ministry statement said the jets began attacking IS targets late Friday across the border in Syria that were deemed to be threats to Turkey.

After months of hesitance, Turkey agreed last month to take on a more active role in the fight against IS. Turkish jets used smart bombs to attack IS positions in Syria, without crossing into Syrian airspace and later Turkey granted U.S. jets access to a key air base close to the Syrian border.

The Turkish attacks that began Friday were the first launched as part of the U.S.-led campaign and came after Turkish and U.S. officials announced they had reached a technical agreement concerning their cooperation, which calls for Turkey to be fully integrated into the coalition air campaign.

“Our fighter aircraft together with warplanes belonging to the coalition began as of yesterday evening to jointly carry out air operations against Daesh targets that constitute a threat against the security of our country,” the Foreign Ministry said, using the Arabic acronym for IS. “The fight against the terrorist organization is a priority for Turkey.”

The statement did not give more details on the targets.

On Thursday, IS militants seized five villages from rebel groups in northern Syria as they advanced toward the strategic town of Marea near the Turkish border. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and other groups said IS carried out a suicide bombing on the outskirts of Marea amid fierce fighting in the area.

The IS advance was in the northern Aleppo province near where Turkey and the United States have agreed to establish an IS-free safe zone.

TIME Malaysia

Malaysians Gather Peacefully to Demand a New Politics

MALAYSIA-POLITICS-NAJIB-DEMONSTRATION
Manan Vatsyayana—AFP/Getty Images Protesters gather near the Independence Square during an anti-government rally in Kuala Lumpur on Aug. 29, 2015

The historic rally in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday drew tens of thousands, but saw no violence

Tens of thousands of Malaysians assembled near Kuala Lumpur’s Merdeka Square on Saturday to demand that Prime Minister Najib Razak step down from office.

The rally, one of the largest demonstrations against Malaysia’s government in recent memory, was the culmination of escalating public hostility toward Najib, especially after The Wall Street Journal reported that his private bank accounts held over $700 million in funds purportedly siphoned off a struggling state investment fund called 1Malaysia Development Berhad. Officials say the money came from private donors to be spent on the last general elections in 2013.

But, on Saturday, the call of the day — and the name of the anti-corruption movement that organized it — was “bersih,” which means “clean” in Malay.

“Today, this matter is uniting the voice of the people of Malaysia, regardless of race, religion, age, or even politics,” Lim Kit Siang, head of Malaysia’s opposition coalition, told TIME. He stood next to Mohamad Sabu, who leads the country’s largest moderate Islamic party. “We all want to save Malaysia — to promote good governance, to reaffirm the promise of democracy.

Though the government declared the demonstration unlawful, going so far as to criminalize the anti-government’s yellow t-shirts, a historically large crowd gathered in the streets of Kuala Lumpur City Centre by early afternoon on Saturday, appearing from afar as a sea of neon.

“We’ve curbed our fear of the state, it seems,” K. Arumugam, a human-rights lawyer in the capital, said about the public’s dismissal of state warnings. “People are aware that they need to stand up.

Unlike past demonstrations against Najib’s leadership, which have typically been the domain of student activists, laborers, and the politicians who support them, Saturday’s rally was in many respects a sociopolitical cross-section of Malaysia at large. Families came out in droves. White-collar executives were said to have booked rooms at five-star hotels near Merdeka Square as to be close to the political action, which organizers intended to continue through Sunday night.

The turnout spoke to the endemic national frustration with what as seen as equally endemic political corruption. The recent accusations of malfeasance first levied in The Wall Street Journal last month — which Najib has denied, even sacking his deputy prime minister for encouraging transparency in the matter — are only the latest development in a sociopolitical system marked by ethnic tension and economic languor.

“It’s supposed to be that the government works for us, not that we work for the government,” Jasmine Sim, a 30-year-old interior designer, told TIME. “People are feeling the pinch of living in Malaysia. Our standard of living is worse and more expensive. Our society is build on old racial lines.

Though the historical underpinnings of the current situation are complex, many Malaysians equate contemporary struggles with the leadership of Najib, who took office in 2009 and was returned in 2013 despite losing the popular in that election. (Malaysia’s parliament operates under a “first past the post” voting system.)

“He promised transparency, he said he’d take away draconian laws … and people bought into that, until 2010, 2011, when people realized what he was saying and what he was doing were completely different,” Wong Chen, a member of parliament representing the opposition coalition, told TIME as he traveled to the demonstration.

The amplification of popular dissent in recent months had led some to anticipate violence at this weekend’s demonstration. But unlike past rallies, which have ended when the police used tear gas and water cannons, the atmosphere near Merdeka Square on Saturday was urgent but largely festive. Protesters tooted loudly on air horns. A group of students sang Dylanesque protest songs in Malay, interspersed with a few chords of Tracy Chapman’s “Talkin’ ’bout a Revolution.”

One protester, standing near a stage where opposition leaders led the crowd in anti-Najib chants, raised a sign that said “Najib: Today is my birthday. Please resign as a gift to me.”

Read next: Police Arrest Foreigner in Bangkok Shrine Bombing

TIME Egypt

Egypt Sentences 3 Al-Jazeera Reporters to 3 Years in Prison

APTOPIX Mideast Egypt
Amr Nabil—AP Canadian Al-Jazeera English journalist Mohammed Fahmy, listens to his verdict in a soundproof glass cage inside a makeshift courtroom in Tora prison in Cairo on Aug. 29, 2015.

Al-Jazeera English's acting director-general said the verdict "'defies logic and common sense"

(CAIRO) — An Egyptian court on Saturday sentenced three Al-Jazeera English journalists to three years in prison, the latest twist in a long-running trial criticized worldwide by press freedom advocates and human rights activists.

The case against Canadian national Mohammed Fahmy, Australian journalist Peter Greste and Egyptian producer Baher Mohammed embroiled their journalism into the wider conflict between Egypt and Qatar following the 2013 military ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

It wasn’t immediately clear how the sentence would affect the three men. Greste, earlier deported in February, spoke to Al-Jazeera from Sydney and said he believed an Egyptian appeals court would overturn the verdict. Fahmy and Mohammed, both on hand for Saturday’s hearing were immediately taken away by police after the hearing.

Mostefa Souag, Al-Jazeera English acting director-general, also criticized the verdict, saying it “‘defies logic and common sense.”

“The whole case has been heavily politicized and has not been conducted in a free and fair manner,” Souag said in a statement. “There is no evidence proving that our colleagues in any way fabricated news or aided and abetted terrorist organizations and at no point during the long drawn out retrial did any of the unfounded allegations stand up to scrutiny.”

Judge Hassan Farid, in his ruling, said he sentenced the men to prison because they had not registered with the country’s journalist syndicate. He also said the men brought in equipment without security officials’ approval, had broadcast “false news” on Al-Jazeera and used a hotel as a broadcasting point without permission.

Immediately after the ruling, Fahmy’s wife, Marwa, began crying. Others loudly sobbed.

“The verdict today sends a very dangerous message in Egypt,” said human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, who represented Fahmy. “It sends a message that journalists can be locked up for simply doing their job, for telling the truth and reporting the news. And it sends a dangerous message that there are judges in Egypt who will allow their courts to become instruments of political repression and propaganda.”

The case began in December 2013, when Egyptian security forces raided the upscale hotel suite used by Al-Jazeera at the time to report from Egypt. Authorities arrested Fahmy, Greste and Mohammed, later charging them with allegedly being part of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, which authorities have declared a terrorist organization, and airing falsified footage intended to damage national security.

Since Morsi’s ouster, Egypt has cracked down heavily on his supporters, and the journalists were accused of being mouthpieces for the Brotherhood. Al-Jazeera and the journalists have denied the allegations, saying they were simply reporting the news. However, Doha has been a strong supporter of the Brotherhood and other Islamist groups in the greater Mideast.

At trial, prosecutors used news clips about an animal hospital with donkeys and horses, and another about Christian life in Egypt, as evidence they broke the law. Defense lawyers — and even the judge — dismissed the videos as irrelevant.

Nonetheless, the three men were convicted on June 23, 2014, with Greste and Fahmy sentenced to seven years in prison and Mohammed to 10 years for being found with a spent bullet casing. On Saturday, Mohammed received an additional six months for being in possession of a “bullet,” according to the full text of the court decision carried by the Egyptian state news agency MENA. It wasn’t immediately clear why Saturday’s verdict referred to a “bullet,” rather than a spent bullet casing.

The verdict brought a landslide of international condemnation and calls for newly elected President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, who as military chief led the overthrow of Morsi, to intervene. Egypt’s Court of Cassation, the country’s highest appeals court, later ordered their retrial, saying the initial proceedings were marred by violations of the defendants’ rights.

Egypt deported Greste in February, though he remained charged in the case. Fahmy and Mohammed were later released on bail.

Fahmy was asked to give up his Egyptian nationality by Egyptian officials in order to qualify for deportation. It’s not clear why he wasn’t deported, though Fahmy said he thinks Canada could have pressed Cairo harder on the matter.

Angered by Al-Jazeera handling of the case, Fahmy has filed a lawsuit in Canada seeking $100 million from the broadcaster, saying that it put the story ahead of employee safety and used its Arabic-language channels to advocate for the Brotherhood. Al-Jazeera has said Fahmy should seek compensation from Egypt.

TIME Thailand

Police Arrest Foreigner in Bangkok Shrine Bombing

The man was arrested Saturday in Nong Jok on the outskirts of the capital

(BANGKOK) — Thai authorities arrested a foreign man Saturday they said had been holed up in a suburban apartment with bomb-making equipment and stacks of passports, the first possible breakthrough in the deadly bombing at a Bangkok shrine nearly two weeks ago.

All television channels broadcast a televised announcement Saturday evening on the suspect’s arrest, which came 12 days after the bombing that authorities have called the deadliest attack in Thailand’s modern history.

Police and soldiers raided the apartment in an eastern Bangkok suburb and found bomb-making materials that matched those used in the Aug. 17 blast at the Erawan Shrine in central Bangkok, national police spokesman Prawuth Thavornsiri said in the televised statement.

The blast which killed 20 people and injured more than 120 was followed a day later by another explosion at a public ferry pier, which caused no injuries but exacerbated concerns about safety in the Thai capital, which draws millions of tourists.

“Our preliminary investigation shows that he is related to both bombings,” Prawuth said, as he showed photographs of what police seized, including detonators, ball bearings and a metal pipe that police believe was intended to hold a bomb.

Police chief Somyot Poompanmoung later told reporters that “the bomb materials are the same, similar or the same type” as those used in both bombings.

Police also found “a number of passports from one country,” Prawuth said. He did not name the country but photographs shown during the broadcast showed stacks of passports that appeared to be Turkish.

Earlier, Prawuth said that authorities had not yet determined his nationality and dismissed Thai news reports saying he is Turkish. Images of a Turkish passport with the apparent suspect’s picture were posted on social media.

“The passport you see is fake,” said Prawuth, referring to the online photos. “We don’t know if he is Turkish or not.”

A photograph of the suspect showed a young man with short brown hair and a light beard and mustache.

Asked what could be the motive for the bombing, the police chief told reporters, “it’s a personal grudge .. not international terrorism.” He did not elaborate or give a clear explanation.

Somyot said the suspect had traveled in and out of the country since January 2014.

The blast at the Erawan Shrine was unprecedented in the Thai capital, where smaller bombs have been employed in domestic political violence over the past decade, but not in an effort to cause large-scale casualties.

The shrine is a popular tourist destination, particularly with Chinese visitors, who are an important segment of the lucrative tourist market. At least six of the dead were from China and Hong Kong. It sits on the corner of a busy traffic intersection with a nearby overhead walkway in a neighborhood full of upscale shopping malls and five-star hotels.

Soon after the bombing, police released an artist’s sketch of a man seen in a security camera video leaving a backpack at a bench then walking away from the open-air shrine. A separate camera showed the man, wearing a yellow T-shirt, on the back of a motorcycle taxi leaving the site.

The man seen in the video was believed to have carried out the bombing, which police said was likely planned by a group of people. They indicated in Saturday’s news conference that the man arrested was not the bomber seen in the video.

“We believe he is a culprit in the same network. More details will be given later,” Prawuth said.

No one has claimed responsibility for the blast, sparking a variety of theories into who might be behind it.

Possible suspects include parties seeking to avenge Thailand’s forced repatriation of ethnic Uighurs to China. Uighurs are related to Turks, and Turkey is home to a large Uighur community.

Other theories included Muslim separatists from southern Thailand, opponents of Thailand’s military government and feuding factions within the security services.

Police have been criticized for releasing conflicting statements and rapidly hosing down the crime scene at the shrine before all forensic evidence was recovered. Many accused authorities of rushing to clean up the bomb scene to reassure the public — especially foreign tourists — that security in the city was back to normal.

Police say they have been handicapped by low-quality and broken surveillance cameras and a lack of sophisticated image-processing equipment to clarify the fuzzy images in security videos, which were the only firm evidence they had.

___

Associated Press journalist Papitchaya Boonngok contributed to this report.

Read next: Greece Appoints Its First Female Prime Minister

TIME Malaysia

Large Crowds Are Gathering to Demand the Ouster of Malaysia’s Prime Minister

Hostility towards the beleaguered Najib Razak is heightening as a massive financial corruption scandal comes to light

Thousands of protesters are expected to take to the streets of Kuala Lumpur and other Malaysian cities on Saturday to call for the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Popular discontent with Najib’s leadership has rapidly escalated since early last month, when an exposé in The Wall Street Journal revealed that his private bank accounts held over $700 million in funds purportedly siphoned off a struggling state investment fund called 1Malaysia Development Berhad.

Najib has firmly denied malfeasance and penalized those who have alleged it. He has threatened to sue the Journal for libel; more controversially, he sacked his deputy prime minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, in a cabinet reshuffle in late July after Muhyiddin called for transparency in the matter.

Today’s planned rally, which the authorities have deemed unlawful, is the latest exercise in political discontent within this once-promising Southeast Asian state. The engine of this discontent is an unofficial pro-democracy, anti-corruption coalition called Bersih, which in Malay simply means “clean.” Though the recent allegations of corruption have galvanized the demands for Najib’s removal from power, many Malaysians see the scandal simply as one visceral incident within an endemically broken system.

“He’s dropped the economy,” a taxi driver in Kuala Lumpur tells TIME. “Everyone is very scared.”

“It’s very simple: the Malaysian people are suffering right now,” Ravin Kabhi, a Malaysian man who recently moved to Australia, said. “Look at our currency at the moment — it’s 4.2 to the dollar. I’m a recent graduate, and there are no jobs, because multinational corporations don’t want to spend money in periods of instability.”

Malaysia has long sought to fashion its global image as a crucible of progressive politics and economic stability in Southeast Asia, and for many years, the portrait was compelling. Regular elections offered a facsimile of democracy. The construction of the Petronas Towers in 1998 — the tallest skyscrapers in the world until Taipei 101 opened in Taiwan six years later — provided an internationally recognizable emblem of the country’s capitalist triumph during the last two decades of the twentieth century.

The controversies that have surrounded Najib’s leadership since his narrow election in 2009 have exposed the weaknesses in this narrative. Najib leads the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), the right-wing Malay nationalist party that heads the incumbent National Front coalition and derives most of its support from ethnic Malays who benefit from its policies. In September 2013, Najib’s government fortified longstanding laws that reserve education benefits, government jobs, and entrepreneurship opportunities for the ethnic Malay population.

“I support their right to do this, to protest,” ethnic Malay student Ziela Rahim said, gesturing to the yellow-shirted protesters who loitered beneath the metro tracks above Jalan Tun Perak. “But [Najib] is my prime minister, and so I think he has the right to do what he feels is right for us.”

But those same pro-Malay policies, political and economic experts contend, have encouraged hostility and also weakened the economy, because they have encouraged Malaysia’s marginalized Chinese and Indian populations to seek better opportunities elsewhere.

Najib has also become increasingly strident in his dismissal of the growing opposition, even as ethnic Malays — the bulwark to his political legitimacy — join its ranks. On Saturday morning, the state held a full dress rehearsal for the country’s independence day celebration on August 31. The practice, held in the same public square where the anti-Najib protesters are to gather later in the day, was one of pomp and circumstance: military marching bands played the national anthem, which was amplified over loudspeakers; organized civilians in red t-shirts marched in lockstep, holding small Malaysian flags; military jets roared overhead.

Outside of Merdeka Square, some members of the opposition, dressed in Bersih’s yellow shirts, had started to gather in anticipation.

“Whether or not [today] has an effect on the political process isn’t important. It’s my duty — our duty — to align with the cause,” Lui Tuck, a 45-year-old factory manager from Kuala Lumpur, said. “The current government is disgusting. You want to tell lies, tell proper lies. If you want to take our money, take our money, but at least tell convincing lies that let us sleep at night.”

TIME U.K.

Glastonbury Festival Donates Abandoned Boots to Migrants

wellington boots
Lynne Cameron—AP Wellington boots on sale during the Country Landowners' Association Gamefair at Harewood House, West Yorkshire, England on July 31, 2015.

After it rained at the U.K. music festival, many left their bulky boots behind

The Glastonbury Festival donated more than 500 pairs of rain boots (or “wellies”) to migrants in Calais, France, the festival announced Friday.

After it rained throughout the U.K. music festival on June 25-28, many left their bulky boots behind. Liz Clegg, who works with the festival, decided to gather and present the boots to migrants in Calais alongside the French charity Association Salam, according to the festival’s website.

Volunteers “meticulously sized, paired and quality controlled” the boots, the website said. Then Clegg traveled to Calais herself, transporting the boots along with 2,000 new rain ponchos and first aid kits.

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