TIME ebola

Canada to Halt Visas From Ebola-Affected Countries

The restriction follows a similar move by Australia earlier this week and will not apply to Canadian nationals returning from West Africa

Canada will stop issuing visas to people traveling from the West African countries most affected by Ebola, the country’s government announced Friday.

“The precautionary measures announced today build on actions we have taken to protect the health and safety of Canadians here at home,” said Chris Alexander, the country’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister. “Our government continues to monitor the situation in West Africa very closely and will continue to act in the best interests of Canadians.”

The restriction will not apply to Canadian citizens returning from the region, but the government warned citizens against future travel.

Canada’s move is in sharp contrast to the World Health Organization’s (WHO)position that severely restricting travel impedes efforts to stop the spread of the virus.

“No evidence exists to support the effectiveness of travel bans as a protective measure,” said WHO Secretary General Margaret Chan earlier this week after Australia announced a similar measure.

TIME isis

Why the U.S. Can’t Beat an Army the Size of a Junior College

National Insecurity
National Insecurity

David Rothkopf is the CEO and editor of the FP Group, which is publisher of Foreign Policy Magazine, ForeignPolicy.com, and presenter of FP Events.

A fight against ISIS requires strategy and willpower—and endurance that can outlast Obama's presidency

The Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) is a pernicious, brutal organization that directly threatens the stability of the Middle East, and ultimately, nations worldwide. It is also roughly the size of a small American state university, fielding no more than 30,000. It doesn’t have an air force, a navy, a reliable tax base, or any of the other resources found in even the smallest and most fragile of nations.

The U.S. needed only three and a half years to defeat the Axis in World War II. During that war Germany alone was able to field more than 20 million soldiers. So why, when U.S. Admiral John Kirby, the spokesperson for the most powerful military force the world has ever known, was asked how long it might take to defeat the modest threat posed by ISIS, did he say that it could take five years, six years or even more?

While it’s well known that fighting insurgencies is challenging— witness the 13-year war against the Taliban— that’s not the whole answer. Unlike Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, ISIS isn’t fighting purely guerilla-style, fading in and out of the background. ISIS is seeking to claim and hold territory, build and maintain supply chains, protect illicit oil shipments—all in the effort to construct a state. ISIS is a hybrid force—part insurgency and part traditional army—and the U.S. should have no trouble defeating a traditional army.

But to do that, you need to rely on more than just air strikes. Ground forces are required to seize and hold territory where ISIS has been weakened. While those troops needn’t be entirely or even primarily American, if Washington is leading a coalition against ISIS—and it is—then the U.S. must be on the ground as well. There is no other way.

That leadership can’t be left up to the rest of the U.S. coalition. Most of the participants have really only signed up for secondary duty, far from the battles on the ground. Virtually none have made meaningful commitments to field the troops and take the risks needed not only to degrade ISIS, but to defeat it. With some—like Turkey or Qatar—it can be hard to tell whose side they’re actually on.

The coalition and the U.S. have repeatedly shown they lack the two things needed to ensure a decisive victory. The first is will. That means the will to commit the right forces in the right numbers, with the associated risks—and the will to work allies to ensure they do their part as well. Turkey, for instance, needs to know that failure to be a dependable partner against ISIS will call their NATO membership into question.

The second issue is a question of strategy. When President Obama admitted in August that “we don’t have a strategy yet” on ISIS, he lived up the old Washington maxim that a gaffe is just a politician accidentally telling the truth. But his later assurance that the U.S. did indeed have a strategy was unconvincing. Absent the will to win, there is no strategy that will work.

Even if the U.S. manages to defeat ISIS militarily in Iraq or Syria, there is no clear plan to fill the political, economic and social void that will be created by its elimination. In Syria victory over ISIS might end up empowering the brutal regime of President Bashar al-Assad, which is already responsible for a war that’s produced 200,000 deaths and a massive humanitarian catastrophe. In Iraq, if the only result is a Shiite-led regime in Baghdad that acts much like the last one, it won’t be long before Sunni unrest invites the rise of a new insurgency. We’ve seen that movie once before.

We need a broader strategy to curb the alarming spread of violent extremism, which currently takes the form of dozens of groups from West Africa to Asia Insiders call it “squeezing the balloon”—getting rid of the problem in one place only to see it burst forth in another. It’s not enough, as the President recently suggested, to simply see this as a “generational problem.”

And that’s the rub. One can’t help but look at the current ad hoc, half-hearted effort against ISIS without thinking that the goal isn’t really beating ISIS, but beating back bad press. It’s a policy built around keeping a lid on public criticism—at least until the President has cleaned out his desk in the Oval Office.

David Rothkopf is the CEO and editor of the FP Group, which is publisher of Foreign Policy Magazine, ForeignPolicy.com, and presenter of FP Events. He is also president and CEO of Garten Rothkopf, an international advisory firm. He is a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where he chairs the Bernard L. Schwartz Program in Competitiveness and Growth Policies. He is the author of Power, Inc.: The Epic Rivalry Between Big Business and Government and the Reckoning that Lies Ahead; Superclass: The Global Power Elite and the World They’re Making; and Running the World: The Inside Story of the National Security Council and the Architects of American Power. His new book, National Insecurity: American Leadership in an Age of Fear, is out this week.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Burkina Faso

What You Need to Know About the Unrest in Burkina Faso

Anti-government protesters gather in the Place de la Nation in Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, Oct. 31, 2014.
Anti-government protesters gather in the Place de la Nation in Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, Oct. 31, 2014. Joe Penney—Reuters

President Blaise Compaoré stepped down Oct. 31 after 27 year in power

The West African nation of Burkina Faso grabbed rare international headlines this week as thousands of people amassed in its capital, Ouagadougou, to protest plans to keep their longtime leader in office. After days of unrest that included setting Parliament ablaze, overrunning state TV broadcasters and deadly clashes with security forces, President Blaise Compaoré stepped down Oct. 31 after 27 years in power. Army Chief Gen. Honoré Nabéré Traoré quickly announced he would fill the void and said elections would take place within a year.

What are the basics about Burkina Faso?

Burkina Faso, which is densely populated with more than 17 million people and ranked by the United Nations as one of the world’s least-developed countries, shares borders with six countries: Mali, Niger, Benin, Togo, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.

The country gained independence from France in 1960 and would suffer from five military coups in the first few decades that followed. It was known as Upper Volta until 1984, when it was renamed Burkina Faso, meaning “land of upright/honest people.”

Who is Blaise Compaoré?

Compaoré served as minister of state under President Thomas Sankara, who ruled from 1984 until 1987. Compaoré seized power when Sankara and 12 other officials were killed in mysterious circumstances by a group of soldiers.

He subsequently won four presidential elections, most recently in November 2010, although only 1.6 million Burkinabés (less than a tenth of the population) voted. This latest term was supposed to be Compaoré’s last, but Parliament was considering a bill this week to remove the constitutional limit, igniting the masses. (The President’s plans to extend his term in office in 2011 also led to the popular protests.)

Why does his step-down matter?

Despite his low international profile, Compaoré was a key ally of the U.S., helping in the fight against al-Qaeda affiliates operating in the Sahel and the Sahara by allowing the Americans to operate a base in Ouagadougou. France, as a former colonial power, also has Special Forces troops based in the country.

Burkina Faso’s geopolitical position also meant that Compaoré held notable diplomatic influence in the region and frequently acted as a mediator in West African conflicts, including those in Mali and Côte d’Ivoire. A report from the International Crisis Group in July 2013 said that the collapse of Burkina Faso’s diplomatic apparatus would “mean the loss of an important reference point for West Africa that, despite limitations, has played an essential role as a regulatory authority.”

The report added that Compaoré “has put in place a semi-authoritarian regime, combining [democratization] with repression, to ensure political stability,” yet suggested this system was both unsustainable and unlikely to allow for any smooth transition after his departure.

The toppling of Compaoré’s government is likely to bring a new challenges to the West by creating even more instability in the region and, potentially, a space in which extremist groups could flourish.

The White House expressed deep concern over the deteriorating situation this week and urged “all parties, including the security forces, to end the violence and return to a peaceful process to create a future for Burkina Faso that will build on Burkina Faso’s hard-won democratic gains.” France, which welcomed Compaoré’s resignation, also called for calm and urged all actors to exercise restraint.

So what’s next?

Reflecting on the week’s events, an official from the influential opposition party Movement of People for Progress (MPP), Emile Pargui Pare, told AFP: “October 30 is Burkina Faso’s Black Spring, like the Arab Spring.” Other commentators have also compared the demonstrations here with the Arab Spring, the wave of revolutionary protests and clashes that began in Tunisia in December 2010. Back in 2011, Burkinabés held up signs comparing Compaoré to the ousted Tunisian ruler, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.

The political events in Burkina Faso are likely to resonate across the continent, where several national leaders are due to step aside soon, including Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, who has hinted at extending his term as President. And on Wednesday in Benin, nearly 30,000 opposition supporters demonstrated in the streets of the country’s largest city, Cotonou, to push for local elections that were due in March 2013.

TIME

Fake Clowns Terrorize France

The scary clowns are no Halloween treat for the French

Creepy clowns are freaking out the French. A rash of scary pranks carried out at night by the costumed characters have put police officers on alert. Teenagers dressed as clowns and carrying weapons have spooked many French citizens.

The frightening characters have even led one town to ban the costume altogether for anyone over the age of 13.

Southern California, New York City, and England have all experienced a creepy clown craze like the one in France in recent years.

TIME Education

Think You Can Cheat on the SAT? The College Board Says Think Again

Security measures include air gaps, fake test takers, alarm doors, photo verification and handwriting samples

The SAT is never uploaded to the Internet. Test questions are never emailed. And even the computers that test creators use to write and edit the questions are never, ever connected to the web.

“The idea is that you can’t hack something that isn’t there,” said Ray Nicosia, the director of the Office of Testing Integrity at the Educational Testing Service (ETS), which oversees the security of the College Board’s SAT and SAT II subject area tests. Every year, those tests are administered at 25,000 test centers in 192 countries around the world.

Earlier this week, the College Board sent emails to all students living in China or Korea who had taken the SAT on October 11, informing them that their test scores would be reviewed and delayed for up to a month because of allegations of widespread cheating. It’s the latest in a long line of alleged and full-blown cheating scandals in the last few years that have involved not only the SATs, but nearly every other widely-administered standardized test, including Advance Placement tests, the ACTs, and English language qualifying exams.

“They’re always going to be people trying to challenge the system,” Nicosia said. “We stop a lot but there’s always someone trying new a way.” The advent of cell phones, tiny cameras and nearly undetectable recording devices, for example, has required his team to up their game, he said.

A quick search on YouTube reveals dozens of innovative cheating ideas, like scanning answers onto soft drink wrappers or printing formulas onto fabric, each complete with instructions on how to pull it off. One company sells an eraser that doubles as a microphone, designed to help sneaky individuals communicate with “helpers” up to 3,000 feet away.

In 2007, two students in China used tiny, wireless listening devices in their ear canals to cheat on an English exam; they were later hospitalized when the devices got stuck, according to China Daily. But, Nicosia said, those “James Bond tactics” are not as common as other, more run-of-the-mill cheating gambits. For example, in 2011, twenty students were arrested on Long Island, New York, for hiring other students—for a cool $3,600 bucks—to impersonate them in the SAT exam room.

Nicosia would not speak specifically about the allegations of cheating in the Oct. 11 test. But early speculation has focused on the possibility that the same test administered overseas on Oct. 11 had been administered previously in the U.S. ETS spokesman Thomas Ewing confirmed that ETS does reuse tests in different locations, though he would not comment on the Oct. 11 test.

Parke Muth, who volunteers as a consultant and advisor to Chinese students said he’s heard that test preparation companies will offer to pay test takers to memorize a half-dozen or so questions from a given test and write them down after they’ve left the testing area. “They do that a hundred times and they have the full test,” Muth said. He said he also heard allegations of students ripping out individual pages of a test booklet and smuggling it out of the test center.

Ewing didn’t seem too surprised by these suggestions. “The costs of test security have been steadily escalating over the years and ETS spends literally millions and millions of dollars in this area,” he said, adding that the Office of Testing Integrity, which Ray Nicosia has overseen since the mid-‘90s, has grown substantially. It now monitors every stage in the SAT and SAT II test-making and test-taking process—from the moment questions are written to the moment that students sit down to take the exam.

It’s a big job, made slightly easier by the fact that, unlike the ACT, which can now be taken on a computer in some locations, neither the SAT or the SAT II is available on any computer or digital device. Those exams must be taken instead with a good old-fashioned pencil and a paper booklet.

Still, Nicosia said, his oversight process doesn’t cut any corners. It begins in the College Board’s secure offices, which are patrolled by security guards who monitor suspicious vehicles in the area. Employees dealing directly with the test questions are required to use computers that are not, and never have been, connected to the Internet, and no part of the test, perhaps needless to say, is ever stored on the cloud. Test writers themselves are subject to background and criminal checks, and can have their briefcases and bags searched upon exiting the building to ensure that they are not transporting a thumb drive or other device containing information about the test’s content.

Once the test is written, it is moved in “a secure carrier,” Nicosia said, declining to elaborate, to a print shop that uses security protocols similar to companies that print casino vouchers, which can be exchanged for cash. “All our printers have alarm doors and security cameras and whole list of other things we mandate,” Nicosia said. “You don’t have a print shop employee just walking outside for a cigarette break.” At the end of the printing process, the SAT test booklets are “packaged in a certain way” so that tampering with the booklets themselves is either impossible or immediately obvious, he said.

From there, the test booklets are delivered to pre-vetted test administrators and school principals, who have gone thorough an ETS training and who must, in turn, provide ETS with assurance that the tests will be kept in a locked and secured location. In some instances, ETS has arranged to have the test booklets hand-delivered by a ETS employee on the day of the test.

On test day, a host of precautions are also in place. For example, ETS requires test takers to upload a photo of themselves when they register for the exam and then provide on test day a photo ID that matches both their registration photograph and their appearance. Test takers are also required to provide a handwriting sample that can be used should any subsequent investigation be necessary.

In most locations, ETS does not search students for cell phones or other digital devices, but if a proctor sees or hears a digital device, the student is immediately dismissed from the test, his scores are canceled, and a review is launched. In areas where cheating is suspected, ETS also sometimes deploys undercover investigators—employees in their late teens or early twenties who pretend to be test-takers—in order to “get the birds’ eye view of what’s going on without raising any eyebrows,” Nicosia said. At the end of tests, students are required to leave all testing materials behind.

All told, while the extent of cheating efforts is probably “extremely overblown in people’s imaginations,” Nicosia said his team takes every tip, allegation or rumor “very, very seriously.” “Whatever challenge is next, we’re looking for it,” he said.

TIME Military

Fissure Opens Between Pentagon and White House Over Assad’s Fate

WASHINGTON (Oct. 30, 2014) -- Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel holds a press briefing with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey at the Pentagon Oct. 30, 2014. DoD Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Sean Hurt/Released.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday that internal Administration debate over what to do in Syria must be "honest" and "direct." DoD Photo / Sean Hurt

Hagel told Rice a lack of clarity is complicating U.S. efforts to combat ISIS

President Barack Obama declared in August 2011 that Syrian leader Bashar Assad must “step aside” for the good of his country after his forces had killed nearly 2,000 fellow citizens. More than three years later, with Assad still in power, the Syrian civil war has killed some 200,000 people and given Islamic extremists territory to occupy. That has led Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to warn the White House that the U.S. has to stop ignoring the Syrian dictator.

In a two-page memo to National Security Adviser Susan Rice two weeks ago, Hagel said the lack of clarity is complicating U.S. efforts to combat the militant group Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria, Pentagon officials say. The memo’s existence was first reported in the New York Times on Thursday.

It’s no secret that there’s much teeth-gnashing inside the Pentagon because of a belief that U.S.-led air strikes against ISIS have transformed the U.S. military into a Syrian air force, of sorts. And after more than three years of increasing violence—including Assad’s brazen use of chemical weapons against his own people that Obama vainly warned was a “red line” that he’d better not cross—frustration is mounting among the U.S. military.

They say plans to train 5,000 “moderate”—i.e., non-ISIS—Syrian rebels annually to fight the militants is complicated by the civil war inside Syria, even if much of the training is slated to take place outside the country. So long as Assad remains in power, they fear the moderate rebels’ attention could be diverted from fighting ISIS to battling Assad.

Hagel wouldn’t say much about his concerns. “This is a complicated issue,” he told reporters Thursday. “We are constantly assessing and reassessing and adapting to the realities of what is the best approach.”

Such internal debates are the “responsibility of any leader,” he added. “And because we are a significant element of this issue, we owe the President and we owe the National Security Council our best thinking on this. And it has to be honest and it has to be direct.”

Unsurprisingly, a White House spokesman agreed. “The President wants the unvarnished opinion of every member of his national-security team,” Josh Earnest told CNN on Friday. “That’s the way he thinks we are going to reach the best outcomes.”

TIME Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso Leader Steps Down, Vote in 90 Days

(OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso) — President Blaise Compaore stepped down Friday after 27 years in power following a wave of protests against his rule. He said elections for a new leader will be held in 90 days.

The announcement, read out on state television, was a sharp about-face from Thursday when Compaore vowed to hold power through next year, after protesters stormed the parliament.

It was not clear who would take power immediately, but Compaore’s statement referred to an article of the constitution that states the prime minister will be in charge. Burkina Faso’s parliament was dissolved on Thursday, however, and the military has played a visible role during the crisis.

For months, an opposition coalition has been urging Compaore not to seek re-election next year, in what would have been his fifth term in power. But Compaore and his ruling party looked set to push a bill through parliament on Thursday that would have allowed him to run again.

But protesters stormed the parliament, the vote was suspended and the military announced the legislature had been dissolved and a transition government would be formed. Compaore said that he would lead the government until new elections next year.

But protesters rejected that plan and gathered again Friday demanding that Compaore step down immediately.

TIME Iraq

ISIS Revenge Killings Reportedly Target Sunni Tribe in Iraq

Mosul Iraq ISIS
Fighters from the Islamic State group parade in a commandeered Iraqi security forces armored vehicle down a main road in the northern city of Mosul, Iraq, on June 23, 2014 AP

“We were fighting ISIS with rifles, and it was fighting us with heavy machine guns”

Fighters from the militant group that has taken over vast swaths of Iraq are summarily executing members of a Sunni tribe that resisted their advance, according to a new report.

The New York Times, citing tribal leaders and local officials, reports that the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) is exacting harsh revenge on the Albu Nimr tribe, killing more than 200 after the tribe fought for months to keep the jihadists out of their region near the town of Hit, 90 miles west of Baghdad.

“We put the responsibility on the government because they didn’t respond,” one tribal member. “We were fighting ISIS with rifles, and it was fighting us with heavy machine guns.”

Read more at the Times

TIME ebola

Aid Groups See Fallout From Quarantine Debate

Kaci Hickox, a nurse who arrived in New Jersey on October 24 after treating Ebola patients in West Africa, seen in a hospital quarantine tent in Newark, New Jersey, Oct. 26, 2014.
Kaci Hickox, a nurse who arrived in New Jersey on October 24 after treating Ebola patients in West Africa, seen in a hospital quarantine tent in Newark, New Jersey, Oct. 26, 2014. Reuters

The fight over Ebola quarantines in the United States is already discouraging doctors, nurses and other health workers from signing up to go to Africa and battle the outbreak where help is needed most.

Would-be volunteers are worried about losing three additional weeks of work when they return to the United States, about still-evolving isolation rules and about being holed up in an unfamiliar place, aid organizations say.

They also worry about mistreatment generated by the public fear of Ebola, the organizations say.

“We have seen a big deterrence,” said Margaret…

Read the rest of the story at NBC News

TIME Middle East

More Foreign Fighters Are Going to Iraq and Syria Than Ever Before, UN Says

Militant Islamist fighters take part in a military parade along the streets of northern Raqqa province in Syria, June 30, 2014.
Militant Islamist fighters take part in a military parade along the streets of northern Raqqa province in Syria, June 30, 2014. Reuters

More than 15,000 have come from more than 80 countries

More than 15,000 foreign fighters have traveled to Iraq and Syria to fight with the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) and similar extremist groups, according to a new United Nations report.

The report, obtained by the Guardian, warns that jihadists are traveling to fight on an “unprecedented scale” from more than 80 countries, including some that have not had previous links with al-Qaeda activity. Although the report to the UN Security Council did not give a full list of these countries, it said: “There are instances of foreign terrorist fighters from France, the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland operating together.”

The report also states the core of al-Qaeda remains weak but suggests that the decline of al-Qaeda has led to a boost in jihadist support for its successor groups like ISIS. The U.N. writes that ISIS is a “splinter group” of al-Qaeda but that the two groups “pursue similar strategic goals, albeit with tactical differences.”

Read more at the Guardian

Read next: ISIS Revenge Killings Reportedly Target Sunni Tribe in Iraq

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