TIME France

French Catholics Bought a Gay Bar So They Could Turn It Into a ‘Pub of Mercy’

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The harbor of Toulon Getty Images

The Missionaries of Divine Mercy, whose church is next door to the bar, said the purchase was part of an effort to evangelize the area

A gay bar in Toulon is set to be turned into a religious meeting venue, after a group of Christian missionaries in the French city bought it in a recent auction.

The group known as Missionaries of Divine Mercy, whose church is located next door to the Texas Bar, said in a statement that their purchase, which follows the bar’s bankruptcy, is part of an effort to evangelize the neighborhood.

“The bar of Sodom will become the pub of mercy,” they said.

But they might need “a whole bunch of exorcists to get rid of everything that’s happened in there,” one of the leaders of the city’s gay community told the Local.

The president of the Gay Power Toulon association, 41-year-old Titi, said he “would have preferred if someone else got it, but they’ve wanted the place for years.”

TIME Argentina

Argentine President Seeks Overhaul of Intelligence Services

APTOPIX Argentina Prosecutor Killed
A television screen in a restaurant shows a nationally televised address by Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez in Buenos Aires on Jan. 26, 2015 Ivan Fernandez—AP

Argentina's intelligence agency has been dissolved

(BUENOS AIRES) — President Cristina Fernandez called on Congress to dissolve Argentina’s intelligence services in the wake of the mysterious death of a prosecutor, strongly denying his accusations that she had sought to shield former Iranian officials suspected in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center.

In a nationally televised address late Monday, her first since the death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman hours before he was to give potentially explosive testimony on the alleged cover up, Fernandez said her proposal to create a new spy agency would be presented to lawmakers by the end of the week.

She did not say who might have killed Nisman, but in recent letters posted on social media she had suggested that rogue intelligence agents may have orchestrated the death in a plot against her government. In the speech, she provided no new details of the alleged plot and Fernandez herself oversees the intelligence agencies in question.

She said reforming the clandestine services was a “national debt” the South American country has had since the return of democracy in 1983. Argentina had several years of a brutal dictatorship, and Fernandez suggested that the problems of today had their roots in the years of that military government.

While government officials had previously labeled Nisman’s allegations as absurd, Monday’s speech was the first time Fernandez had taken them on directly.

“It’s unreasonable to think our government could even be suspected of such a maneuver,” said Fernandez, who spoke while sitting in a wheelchair because of a fractured ankle.

Nisman, 51, was found dead Jan. 18 in the bathroom in his apartment, a bullet in his right temple. A .22 caliber gun was found next to him. His death came days after he gave a judge a report alleging Fernandez secretly reached a deal to prevent prosecution of former Iranian officials accused of involvement in the 1994 bombing of Argentina’s largest Jewish center. The attack killed 85 people and injured more than 200. She allegedly reached the deal in exchange for economic and trade benefits with Iran.

Iran has denied the accusation.

Nisman’s death has produced anti-government protests and a myriad of conspiracy theories, ranging from suicide to the involvement of Iranian intelligence agents.

Appearing rested and calm, Fernandez began with a spirited defense of all her government had done to try to solve the 1994 case.

She lamented that more than 20 years later nobody had been convicted or even detained. She noted that her predecessor, husband and former President Nestor Kirchner, had appointed Nisman to the case after years of paralysis.

She said a 2013 memorandum of understanding with Iran, which many in the country have bitterly criticized, was aimed at obtaining cooperation with the Middle Eastern powerhouse to finally seek justice for the bombing.

Fernandez, 61, said the new “Federal Intelligence Agency” would have a director and deputy, and only a few in government would have access to the agency heads, apparently a critique of a system where many in Congress have contact with intelligence officials.

In her two letters the last week, Fernandez suggested Nisman’s death was a plot against her government possibly orchestrated by intelligence services, which had fed false information to Nisman.

In her first letter, published Jan. 19, she suggested that Nisman committed suicide. Three days later, however, she did an about-face, suggesting that he had been killed.

Argentina’s political opposition criticized Fernandez’s latest comments.

Before there are any reforms to the intelligence services, the government “should explain the 11 years it has managed” them, Margarita Stolbizer, an opposition member of Congress, told Todo Noticias.

“The speech was filled with imprecise (statements) and lies,” Stolbizer said. “She did not give answers to the doubts about this government nor about the content of Nisman’s denouncement.”

Employing the fiery rhetoric she is known for, at the end her televised speech, Fernandez told listeners that she had a message for her countrymen.

“I will not be extorted, I am not afraid” of being cited by judges or denounced by investigators, she said. “They will not make me move even a centimeter from what I have always thought.”

TIME Ukraine

Moscow and NATO Trade Barbs as Fighting Intensifies in Ukraine

UKRAINE-RUSSIA-CRISIS-MARIUPOL
Azif Alikberov recovers in a hospital after being wounded as fighting erupted in Mariupol, Ukraine on Jan. 26, 2014. Oleksandr Stashevskiy —AFP/Getty Images

Putin continues to blame a "NATO foreign legion" for the war in Ukraine, while the alliance says Russia is responsible for the resumed fighting

Clashes continued to escalate in Ukraine’s war-torn Donbas region Monday after a weekend of fierce fighting and shelling in the country’s southeast rendered a five-month-old peace accord all but dead.

On Monday, pro-Russian insurgents encircled a government garrison in the town of Debaltseve that lies along a main road and rail route between two vital rebel strongholds in Donetsk and Luhansk, according to Reuters.

The Ukrainian government has declared the imposition of emergency rule in the embattled Donetsk and Luhansk regions and placed the entire country on “full readiness,” according to President Petro Poroshenko’s office.

Moscow continued to saddle Poroshenko’s office with responsibility for the conflict this week, and chided his administration for refusing to engineer a political settlement with Kremlin-aligned forces that have effectively seceded from the state.

On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Kiev of relying on a “foreign legion” to wage war against separatist militias.

“Essentially, this is not an army but is a foreign legion, in this particular case, a NATO foreign legion, which is not pursuing Ukraine’s national interests of course,” Putin told students at St. Petersburg’s Mining University.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg later dismissed Putin’s accusation as “nonsense” following an emergency meeting with the alliance’s ambassadors and Ukrainian diplomats in Brussels — the first such session in six months.

At a brief press conference following the meeting, Stoltenberg lambasted the Kremlin for allegedly providing insurgent forces in southeast Ukraine with advanced heavy artillery, tanks, armored vehicles and manpower in recent weeks.

“We call on Russia to stop its support for the separatists immediately,” he told reporters.

Over the weekend, Human Rights Watch accused Russian-backed forces of launching a “salvo of unguided Grad rockets” that struck the government-held port of Mariupol and resulted in dozens of deaths. The organization described the assault as one of the most lethal attacks on civilians since the pro-Russian uprising first erupted in southeastern Ukraine last April.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs claims that more than 5,000 people have been killed and at least 900,000 displaced since fighting first flared. An additional 600,000 people are believed to have fled the country.

TIME Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s New King Refused to Intervene in a Controversial Beheading

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud looks on during a meeting with China's President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing
Saudi Arabia's King Salman looks on during a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 13, 2014 Lintao Zhang—POOL/Reuters

An alleged rapist was executed Monday but many Saudis believe the case against him was shaky

A Saudi man accused of raping young girls was beheaded on Monday in the first execution under the administration of Saudi Arabia’s new King Salman.

Teacher Moussa al-Zahrani, 45, was beheaded in the western city of Jeddah, the Associated Press reports. The execution drew an unusual amount of debate on Saudi talk shows and social media, with citizens and relatives pointing out inconsistencies and gaps in evidence.

Al-Zahrani repeatedly maintained his innocence throughout his trial and appeals, and pleaded to the late Saudi King Abdullah to intervene in a video, which circulated widely in social media. The video featured al-Zahrani’s allegations that police framed him, eliciting a Twitter hashtag in Arabic “We are all Moussa al-Zahrani.”

However, King Salman, like his predecessor, chose not to intervene in the execution. Saudi Arabia continues to apply the death penalty to cases of rape, murder and other offenses according to the theocratic kingdom’s strict interpretation of Islamic law.

[AP]

TIME Terrorism

Failed Iraqi Bomber Named in Islamic State Hostage Crisis

Sajida al-Rishawi
In this Nov. 13, 2005 file photo, Iraqi Sajida al-Rishawi, confesses on Jordanian stat- run TV about her failed bid to set off an explosives belt inside one of the three Amman hotels targeted by al-Qaeda. Jordanian TV/AP

The woman the Islamic State wants in exchange for Japanese hostage Kenji Goto is Iraqi citizen Sajida al-Rishawi

(BEIRUT) — In the moments after her husband blew himself up in the ballroom of a Jordanian hotel as part of an al-Qaida plot, Sajida al-Rishawi fled the scene of chaos wearing her own explosive belt.

The 2005 assault on three hotels in Amman, the worst terror attack in Jordan’s history, killed 60 people. Al-Rishawi, an Iraqi, was sentenced to death. But now, almost a decade later, she has emerged as a potential bargaining chip in negotiations over Japanese hostages held by the Islamic State group, a breakaway group from al-Qaida in Iraq that orchestrated the Jordan attack.

The Islamic State group last week threatened to kill Kenji Goto, a 47-year-old journalist, and Haruna Yukawa, a 42-year-old adventurer fascinated by war, unless it received a $200 million ransom.

On Saturday, a day after a 72-hour deadline for the ransom passed, an online message purportedly issued on behalf of the Islamic State group claimed Yukawa had been beheaded and demanded the release of al-Rishawi, 44.

“They no longer want money,” the message said. “So you don’t need to worry about funding terrorists. They are just demanding the release of their imprisoned sister Sajida al-Rishawi.”

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told national broadcaster NHK on Sunday that the online message likely was authentic, though he said the government still was reviewing it. U.S. President Barack Obama later called Abe to offer his condolences over what he called the “brutal murder” of Yukawa.

The Associated Press could not verify the contents of the online message, which varied greatly from previous videos released by the Islamic State group.

But securing the release of al-Rishawi would be a major propaganda coup for the Islamic State, following months of battlefield setbacks — most recently in the northern Syrian town of Kobani where Kurdish fighters on Monday managed to drive out the extremists after months-long fighting and hundreds of U.S.-led coalition airstrikes.

It would also allow the group to reaffirm its links to al-Qaida in Iraq, which battled U.S. troops and claimed the Jordan attack. The Islamic State group had a brutal falling out with al-Qaida’s central leadership, but still reveres the global terror network’s onetime Iraqi affiliate and its leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed by a U.S. airstrike in 2006.

On Nov. 9, 2005, al-Rishawi and her newlywed husband, Ali al-Shamari, entered the ground-floor ballroom of the Raddison SAS hotel in Amman, which was hosting hundreds gathered for a wedding reception. Al-Shamari set off his explosive belt among crowd. Al-Rishawi fled.

Al-Zarqawi later claimed the attack and mentioned a woman being involved, leading Jordanian officials to arrest her. Several days later, al-Rishawi appeared on Jordanian state television, opening a body-length overcoat to reveal two crude explosive belts.

“My husband detonated (his bomb) and I tried to explode (mine) but it wouldn’t,” al-Rishawi said during the three-minute television segment. “People fled running and I left running with them.”

Later at the trial, al-Rishawi pleaded not guilty and said through her lawyer that she never tried to detonate her bomb and was forced to take part in the attack. But an explosives expert testified that the trigger mechanism on al-Rishawi’s belt had jammed.

Al-Rishawi was sentenced to death by hanging and an appeals court later ratified her sentence, describing her as “guilty beyond doubt of possessing explosives and having had the intention and the will to carry out terrorist attacks whose outcome is destruction and death.”

Her sentence can be overturned by Jordan’s King Abdullah II.

Dana Jalal, an Iraqi journalist who follows jihadi groups, said the Islamic State group could be demanding al-Rishawi’s release because she is a woman and comes from a powerful Iraqi tribe that claims many senior Islamic State group members.

“Sajida was close to al-Zarqawi and this gives her special status with Daesh,” Jalal said, using an alternate Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.

TIME Justice Department

Sloppy Russian ‘Spymasters’ Burn a Deep Cover Operative in New York

Busted in the Bronx, he faces 20 years in prison.

Monday was a bad day for Evgeny “Zhenya” Buryakov, the alleged spy arrested in the Bronx for his role as a deep cover case officer in a Russian ring targeting female university students, business consultants and the operations of the bank at which Buryakov worked. But it was an even worse day for his alleged spymasters, two Russian officials operating under diplomatic immunity who come across as sloppy, bureaucratic buffoons in the Justice department complaint detailing the alleged conspiracy.

Buryakov nominally faces up to 20 years in prison on two charges of acting as a foreign agent. But practically speaking he will only have to cool his heels in a U.S. jail for a few weeks or months until officials in Moscow find a suitable American operative to arrest and trade for him. Thereafter, he’ll likely return to Moscow, and given what appears to be fairly entrepreneurial work as a deep cover agent in New York, he can probably expect to thrive in the public or private sector there.

His two bosses, on the other hand, broke basic tradecraft rules and exposed Buryakov’s work, as well as other intelligence efforts by the Russian espionage services, according to the complaint. Both have already left the U.S. for other assignments. And while the days of banishment to Siberia for failed spy-handlers are long gone, the two at least face a grim professional future of pushing paper in the bowels of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service in Moscow.

Buryakov was a particularly valuable asset known as a “NOC,” operating under “non-official cover,” according to the complaint. A regular employee of a bank in New York, with no diplomatic immunity, he was able to gain valuable economic intelligence that a Russian government official—even one pretending to be a normal diplomat not a spy—wouldn’t have easy access to, according to the complaint. Placing and maintaining NOC’s is one of the more challenging aspects of running spies in a foreign country.

But Igor Sporyshev, a Russian Trade Representative in New York, and Victor Podobnyy, an attaché to the Russian United Nations mission, managed to expose Buryakov by calling him on an open phone line and by using his true name in a conversation in the New York offices of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Services (SVR) which were apparently being bugged by the FBI’s counterintelligence division.

Even before they outed their deep cover man, the two come across as buffoons in the complaint. In April 2013, the Justice department recounts, Podobnyy tells Sporyshev how disappointed he is at how boring the life a spy runner is, contrasting his life with a James Bond movie. Sporyshev responds that he always “thought that at least I would go abroad with a different passport,” according to the complaint.

The two men also discussed their attempts to recruit young women from a financial consulting firm and from a major university in New York, which a Justice Department official identifies as New York University. Sporyshev blusters that “in order to be close you either need to —k them or use other levers to influence them to execute my requests. So when you tell me about girls, in my experience, it’s very rare that something workable will come of it,” according to the complaint.

But it is in the exposure of the NOC Buryakov that Sporyshev and Podobnyy really shine. First, in May 2013, Sporyshev calls up Buryakov over a phone that was being monitored by the FBI and announces that he needs his help. Sporyshev says a Russian news organization acting on behest of the SVR wants to know what questions to ask a source about the New York Stock Exchange, the complaint claims. Sporyshev says he needs the questions in 15 minutes.

Twenty minutes later, according to the complaint, Buryakov calls back and tells Sporyshev the news organization should ask about how Exchange Traded Funds could be “mechanisms of use for destabilization of markets” (Buryakov has to correct Sporyshev who thinks he says “stabilization”). Buryakov also points Sporyshev towards the issue of automated trading robots, and says he could also ask about the interest of NYSE participants in products tied to the Russia.

Buryakov later shows himself to be entrepreneurial in his efforts. In November 2012 and March 2013, he attended conferences in a foreign country for the bank he worked for, and gathered intelligence about a potential airplane deal that could benefit Russia, the Justice department alleges. The deal was potentially a good one for Russia as it would bring jobs and technology, but unions in the company’s home country were resisting, the complaint says.

Buryakov drafted and submitted to Sporyshev and Pobodnyy a proposal recommending that the SVR’s “Active Measures Directorate” take steps “towards pressuring the unions and securing from the company a solution that is beneficial to us,” according a recording the FBI made of a conversation between the two spy-runners in the SVR offices in late May 2013.

Having a deep cover operative who is capable of getting inside a potential trade deal and is clever enough to see how it might be positively influenced is, despite what movie watchers like Sporyshev and Pobodnyy might think, an unusually fortunate set of circumstances for a spy service. But the bureaucratic Pobodnyy hesitates, according to the complaint, because the action is taking place in the country Buryakov visited for the conference:

VP: It’s strange to offer a [Country-2] proposal from New York.

IS: Why?

VP: It’s considered bad taste. What the —k? Can’t [Country-2] sort this out?

Ultimately, Buryakov’s aggressiveness tripped him up. In the summer of 2014, the complaint alleges, Buryakov met a wealthy investor looking to develop casinos in Russia and willing to trade U.S. Treasury documents he’d obtained from a friend in exchange for help setting up a deal—a plot-line worthy of “American Hustle.” The investor was in fact an undercover FBI agent.

But if Buryakov was naïve, his handlers didn’t do much to protect him. Sporyshev said it sounded like “some sort of a set up. Trap of some sort.” But rather than warning Buryakov off, Sporyshev told him to go ahead and meet an associate of the “investor”: “You will look and decide for yourself.” Later in the summer, Buryakov allegedly received documents purporting to be from the U.S. Treasury regarding sanctions against Russia and passed them along to Sporyshev at a clandestine meeting.

Acting as a foreign agent without registering with the Justice department is a crime in the U.S., as is receiving coded documents and passing them along. And now Buryakov is under arrest.

TIME russia

Russia’s Credit Rating Downgraded to Junk Status

Vladimir Putin Attends National Forum The State and Civil Society
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the National Forum "The State and Civil Society" on Jan. 15, 2015 in Moscow, Russia. Sasha Mordovets—Getty Images

Standard and Poor's dropped the country's rating to BB+ from BBB-

Standard & Poor’s rating agency on Monday downgraded Russia’s credit grade by one notch to junk status, citing a weakened economic outlook.

The agency dropped the rating to BB+ from BBB- as it sees the country’s financial buffers at risk amid a slide in the country’s currency and weakening revenue from oil exports.

“In our view, the Russian Federation’s monetary policy flexibility has weakened, as have its economic growth prospects,” it said.

Russia’s economy has been hit hard by the double impact of weaker prices for its energy exports as well as Western sanctions.

The Russian currency tumbled on the downgrade, dropping nearly 7 percent to 68.5 rubles to the dollar.

Standard & Poor’s said that Russia’s financial system is weakening, limiting room for maneuver for Russia’s Central Bank. It said the bank “faces increasingly difficult monetary policy decisions,” while also trying to preserve incentives for growth.

The Russian economy is expected to contract by 4 to 5 percent this year for the first time since President Vladimir Putin took the helm in 2000.

Capital outflows, which averaged $57 billion annually during 2009 to 2013, soared to $152 billion last year. “Stresses could mount for Russian corporations and banks that have foreign currency debt service requirements without a concomitant foreign currency revenue stream,” the rating agency said.

There was no immediate comment to the downgrade by the Russian government, which have sought to play down the anticipated move.

Prior to the announcement, Putin had a meeting with Cabinet members on anti-crisis measures. He said the government should focus on cutting spending, keeping inflation under control and making sure that the country doesn’t waste its hard currency reserves.

TIME Germany

Germans Weigh Response to Likely Demands of New Greek PM

Greece's new Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras arrives at Maximos Mansion, the Greek Prime Minister's official residence in central Athens, Jan. 26, 2015.
Greece's new Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras arrives at Maximos Mansion, the Greek Prime Minister's official residence in central Athens, Jan. 26, 2015. Lefteris Pitarakis—AP

The newly elected government in Greece will test the patience of its German creditors with its demands for more financial help

It would be hard to find a place in Europe that feels more cozily insulated from the troubles of the Greek economy than the marbled halls of KaDeWe, the posh department store in the center of Berlin. Its immaculate champagne bar and moneyed clientele practically ooze with the kind of wealth that Greece and other members of the European Union have struggled to regain since the global financial crisis hit five years ago. But as the electoral upset in Greece reminded Europe over the weekend, German fortunes and Greek misfortunes are deeply intertwined.

“We put so much money there, so much money, and for what?” asked Mark Schaefer, a retired German insurance executive, as he waited for his son to join him on Monday for lunch in the culinary hall of KaDeWe.

It is a common question for Germans these days. Since 2010, their country has shouldered the biggest share of the roughly $270-billion bailout program meant to save Greece from economic ruin. But the left-wing Syriza party that won Sunday’s elections in Greece has asked for some of its bailout loans to be forgiven. The new Greek Prime Minister, Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras, is sure to push for a new round of negotiations over the terms of those loans in the coming months, and they will again test the patience of German taxpayers as well as the solidarity and stability of the shared European market.

“I think maybe it’s time for a break-up,” says Kathrin Scheel, who was browsing the cosmetics section of KaDeWe on Monday. But the laugh that accompanied her remark was perhaps as telling as the sentiment behind it. Frustrated as Germans are with their Greek debtors, most of them do not seriously want to risk a break-up of the Eurozone that unites them with Greece and 17 other members of the European Union. They have, after all, profited enormously from their shared currency, and a Greek exit could put that system in jeopardy.

According to the Bertelsmann Foundation, a leading German think tank, the common currency has added an average of about 37 billion euros (or nearly $42 billion) to the size of Germany’s economy every year since its creation in 1992. Through increased trade and investment, that comes to an average of 450 euros in wealth per person per year in Germany, says Henning vom Stein, the head of Bertelsmann’s office in Brussels. “Germany has the biggest interest in keeping the single market together and making it function more dynamically,” he says in an email to TIME.

So it is no surprise that German leaders have shown a grudging willingness to compromise with a Syriza-led government in Greece. “Since the beginning of the crisis, the goal has been to stabilize the whole of the Eurozone, including Greece, and that remains the goal of our work,” the spokesman for the German government, Steffen Siebert, said on Monday.

But German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be under intense pressure from her own electorate not to give in to Tsipras’ demands for a reduction in Greek debt. Her popularity is based in large part on her handling of the crisis in the Eurozone, and any major concessions to Greece could dent her approval ratings, which hit a high of over 70% in August. That much seemed clear from the tone of the German press on Monday. The country’s most popular daily, Bild, mused on its website about how much the “Greek chaos” would cost German taxpayers, and called Tsipras a “Euro-horror” on its front page, asking: “Should Europe really tremble before the new Greek leader?”

But judging by the market reaction on Monday, the answer is probably not. European traders did not respond to the Greek election with a sell-off, and stocks remained flat at the end of the day, as did the value of the euro after a drop in early trading. So investors seem to believe that Greece and its creditors are likely to find a compromise to keep the Eurozone intact.

Somewhat harder to gauge are the limits of German patience. Asked how much more his government should do to help the struggling Greek economy, Schaefer, the retiree, answered: “It is already too much.” Rich Berliners are not the only ones with that opinion. In a nationwide poll published this month by the German state television network ARD, 61% of respondents said they want Greece to be forced out of the Eurozone if it does not meet the conditions of its loans. So as much as Germans have benefited from the common currency, they may not give their Chancellor much slack in negotiating to preserve it.

TIME ebola

Doctors Without Borders Sees Fewer New Ebola Cases

SWITZERLAND-HEALTH-EBOLA-REDCROSS-AID-TRAINING
Health workers of the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC) and medical charity Doctors Without Borders take part in a pre-deployment training for staff heading to Ebola areas on Oct. 29, 2014 in Geneva. Fabrice Coffrini—AFP/Getty Images

“We are on the right track," said Brice de la Vingne, the group's director of operations

The medical aid group Doctors Without Borders, or Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), says it’s seeing declines in new cases of Ebola in its centers in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

There are just over 50 patients currently in MSF’s Ebola treatment centers across the three countries, the organization announced on Monday.

“This decline is an opportunity to focus efforts on addressing the serious weaknesses that remain in the response,” Brice de la Vingne, MSF director of operations said in a statement. “We are on the right track, but reaching zero cases will be difficult unless significant improvements are made in alerting new cases and tracing those who have been in contact with them.”

There is still work to do on that score; in Guinea and Liberia only half of the new cases are people who are known contacts of people with Ebola. Since just a single case can spur an outbreak, more contact tracing is needed.

MORE: TIME Person of the Year: Ebola Fighters

In Sierra Leone, incidences of Ebola have dropped to their lowest levels since August, though there are still hot zones like the country’s capital of Freetown. Guinea’s caseloads are also dropping, but more cases are coming from regions that were previously thought to be leveling out. Liberia has experienced some of the greatest drops out of all three countries. MSF says that on Jan. 17, there were no Ebola cases at the organization’s ELWA 3 Ebola management center in the capital city of Monrovia, and currently there are only two patients.

The latest case numbers from the World Health Organization (WHO) show cases have reached 21,724 with 8,641 deaths.

TIME Spain

At Least 10 Dead After Greek F-16 Crashes in Spain During NATO Training

Spain Military Plane Crash
Smoke rises from a military base after a plane crash in Albacete, Spain on Jan. 26, 2015. Josema Moreno—AP

(MADRID) — A Greek F-16 fighter jet crashed into other planes on the ground during NATO training in southeastern Spain Monday, killing at least 10 people, Spain’s Defense Ministry said.

Another 13 people were injured in the incident at the Los Llanos base, which sent flames and a plume of black smoke billowing into the air, a Defense Ministry official said.

Most of the victims were not believed to be Spaniards, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of ministry rules preventing him from being named.

The two-seat jet was taking off when it crashed into an area of the base where other planes involved in the NATO exercise were parked, the ministry said in a statement.

Emergency crews were working to douse the blaze and determine how much damage there was to other planes involved in the NATO exercise, the ministry said.

A NATO spokeswoman declined to disclose details, referring questions to Spanish and Greek military officials.

The Spanish ministry said the jet that crashed was taking part in a NATO training exercise called the Tactical Leadership Program.

According to a U.S. Air Force Website, TLP was formed in 1978 by NATO’s Central Region air forces to advance their tactical capabilities and produce tactics, techniques and procedures that improve multi-national tactical air operations.

The first TLP course was located at Fuerstenfeldbruck Air Base, Germany. It has been based at the Spanish base since June 2009.

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