TIME Pakistan

Bollywood Actress Veena Malik Sentenced to 26 Years in Jail For Blasphemy

Veena Malik during promotional event
Veena Malik promotes her movie Zindagi 50 50 at the India Today multiplex in Noida, India. Ramesh Sharma—India Today Group/Getty Images

The actress appeared in a scene that referenced Muhammad's daughter

A Pakistani anti-terrorism court has sentenced film and television star Veena Malik to 26 years in jail after she appeared in a scene that the Guardian describes as “loosely based on the marriage of the Prophet Muhammad’s daughter.”

The sentence stemmed from a blasphemy charge, which was also levied at Malik’s husband, businessman Asad Bashir Khan and Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, owner of the Jang-Geo media group which aired the TV show, for their parts in the scene which aired in May. Khan and Shakil-ur-Rahman were also sentenced to 26 years. None of the accused were present in court.

The offending scene was a reenactment of Malik and Khan’s own wedding, acted as musicians played a devotional song about the wedding of a daughter of the Prophet Muhammad. After the episode aired, the senior vice president of a chapter of the Muslim religious organisation Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat made an official complaint, saying the show had defiled the family of the Prophet Muhammad, by using the religious music.

The sentence was handed down by judge Raja Shahbaz, who said, “The malicious acts of the proclaimed offenders ignited the sentiments of all the Muslims of the country and hurt the feelings, which cannot be taken lightly and there is need to strictly curb such tendency.”

[Guardian]

TIME Soccer

Soccer Legend Pele Transferred to ‘Special Care’ Unit

Hospital says Brazilian football star's health became unstable

SAO PAULO — A Brazilian hospital says soccer great Pele has been transferred to a “special care” unit to be monitored while being treated for a urinary infection.

The Albert Einstein hospital said in a statement Thursday that the 74-year-old Pele was transferred after his condition became unstable.

The hospital’s press office said the three-time World Cup champion was not in an intensive care unit.

Pele was admitted to the hospital on Monday for a medical evaluation and was diagnosed with the urinary infection. He was being treated with antibiotics.

No other details were immediately available.

Pele was in the same hospital less than 15 days ago to undergo surgery to remove kidney stones.

 

TIME

Oil Prices in Freefall as OPEC Fails to Agree Output Cut

OPEC Secretary-General al-Badri addresses a news conference after a meeting of OPEC oil ministers at OPEC's headquarters in Vienna
OPEC Secretary-General Abdullah al-Badri addresses a news conference after a meeting of OPEC oil ministers at OPEC's headquarters in Vienna November 27, 2014. Heinz-Peter Bader—Reuters

Oil futures fall nearly 8% to their lowest in five years as Saudi Arabia tries to squeeze U.S. shale industry

Oil prices fell to their lowest level in over five years Thursday as the cartel that produces one third of the world’s output failed to agree on measures to tackle the current glut.

In what had been billed as their most important meeting in decades, ministers from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed to keep their self-imposed output ceiling at 30 million barrels a day, but promised each other they would cheat less on their agreed quotas.

Such promises have rarely held in the past, and the markets reacted by driving the price of the benchmark crude futures contract down nearly 8% to below $69. Oil hasn’t been that cheap since August 2009. Prices have now fallen by over 30% since the summer, and by 13% in November alone.

That’s going to make a Happy Thanksgiving for drivers, who are already seeing pump prices of under $3/gallon in the U.S., as well as for airlines, logistics companies, plastics and chemicals companies, all of whom have huge outlays on fuel and oil-based feedstocks. It’s also good news for retailers, who will hope to benefit from the fact that consumers have more disposable income.

But it’s less good news for the shale oil industry, which may find at least some of its investments losing money as the oil price heads firmly lower.

Thursday’s decision effectively sets the level of OPEC output for the whole of the first half of next year, news agencies quoted Abdalla El-Badri, OPEC’s Secretary-General, as saying. If that’s true, then any reduction in world output will likely be driven by marginal fields in the U.S.

The decision is a victory for Saudi Arabia, which can better afford to play a long game with U.S. producers than its poorer colleagues in OPEC, such as Venezuela and Iran.

“It was a great decision,” Reuters quoted Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi as saying as he emerged smiling after around five hours of talks.

According to the Paris-based International Energy Agency, the cartel’s 12 members are currently produced 30.66 million barrels a day in October, so even if they were completely faithful about sticking to their quotas, they still wouldn’t cut output by enough to bring it into line with global demand for their oil, which the IEA puts at 29.3 million b/d next year.

Some of the OPEC ministers have made no secret of their desire to use a lower price to stop the rise in oil production from U.S. shale, which along with other “non-OPEC” sources of supply is running way ahead of demand from a world economy that has palpably slowed down this year.

The United Arab Emirates’ oil minister Suhail bin Mohammed al-Mazroui told the Financial Times Wednesday that the market would correct itself and that “there is nothing to cause us to panic.”

That wasn’t quite the view from countries that need a higher oil price to balance their budgets. The Russian ruble fell to a new all-time low on the news, with the dollar crashing through 48 rubles and the euro topping 60, both for the first time ever. The benchmark RTS stock index fell 2.1% close to a new five-year low.

Russia needs an oil price over $100/bbl to balance its budget. But the news agency Interfax quoted Maxim Oreshkin, a senior finance ministry official, as saying that even a forecast of $80 was “moderately optimistic” for the next years, in view of OPEC’s decision.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME India

Indian Girls Who Were Believed Murdered Took Their Own Lives

An official investigation into the gang-rape and murder of two girls in India in May rules that the victims actually committed suicide

Following worldwide outrage over the alleged gang-rape and murder of two girls, aged 14 and 15, in India earlier this year, the country’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has now ruled that the girls took their own lives and were not gang-raped and murdered.

When the two girls were found hanging from a tree in a field near their home in the Badaun district in the state of Uttar Pradesh last May, it was widely reported that they had been gang-raped and killed. According to the BBC, an exam initially confirmed several sexual assaults and death due to hanging and three men were arrested in connection with the girls’ deaths.

The men were released on bail in September and, according to the CBI’s investigation, subsequent forensic tests have since concluded the girls were not sexually assaulted. “Based on around 40 scientific reports the CBI has concluded that the two minor girls in the Badaun case had not been raped and murdered as had been alleged,” CBI spokeswoman Kanchan Prasad told the BBC on Thursday. “Investigation has concluded that it is a case of suicide.”

Women’s activists and the families of the girls have voiced their suspicions over the CBI’s findings.

“CBI has tried to fudge the case and save the accused from the very beginning,” Sohan Lal, father of one of the girls, told the BBC. “I am very angry with their decision. The team did not show any promptness while investigating the case.”

MORE: Photos of The Indian Village Shocked By Brutal Rape and Murder Case

[BBC]

TIME France

France Considers Scrapping Its 35-Hour Working Week

The French 35-hour working week might be under threat in light of the country's economic woes

France has long had the reputation of taking a lax approach to working life. But now, the New York Times reports that the country is reconsidering the official 35-hour working week amid reports that the policy is abused by employers and creating financial hardships for employees.

The shorter working week was implemented in 2000 by the then-Socialist government as a way to stimulate job creation. But according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, French employees work an average of 39.5 hours per week, just shy of the eurozone average of 40.9 hours per week. According to the Times, the shorter working week hasn’t kept unemployment down — which is at 10.2 percent in France — and might even have led to the rise in part-time contracts, which employers increasingly use to avoid having to pay full-time staff overtime.

[NYT]

TIME United Kingdom

Scotland to Be Handed ‘Biggest Transfer of Powers’ in a Historic Move

Commission set up after the independence referendum urges the biggest transfer of power in Scotland's history

The Scottish Parliament is set to be given new powers over tax and welfare as part of a deal following September’s referendum, when the country voted against independence.

The Smith Commission, after a month of talks between British political parties, has recommended that Scotland be given further powers. Speaking on Thursday, Lord Smith of Kelvin, head of the Commission, urged for Scotland to have responsibility for an estimated £14 billion of income tax and welfare benefits, the Guardian reports.

The British government welcomed the report, but Scottish ministers said it was disappointing and fell far short of promises made during the referendum campaign.

More constitutional change in the United Kingdom is expected over the coming years, allowing for more devolution within England and Wales.

MORE: Scotland’s vote signals big change for U.K. and the rest of Europe

[Guardian]

TIME russia

Watch Dozens of Passengers Help Push a Frozen Russian Plane

A group of intrepid passengers helped push a plane stuck on a Russian tarmac despite freezing temperatures

Though it sounds like a punchline of a joke, scores of passengers at an airport in Igarka, Russia, located about 100 miles north of the Arctic Circle, tried to push a frozen aircraft that was stuck on the tarmac on Wednesday. It wasn’t an easy task. The New York Times reports that the temperature in Igarka was -47.2°F (-44°C) and the aircraft, a Tupolev-134 jet, weighed 70-tonnes.

Oksana Gorbunova, a spokeswoman for the West Siberia Transportation Prosecutor, told Tass news agency: “In order to deliver the plane to the taxiway, the passengers were invited to leave the plane and move to a bus parked nearby. After that, some of them arbitrarily left the bus and approached the plane trying to assist with the use of physical force.”

A video of the mission was recorded and uploaded to YouTube where it quickly went viral.

Though there have been conflicting reports on why the plane broke down — and who was responsible for the mishap — the transportation prosecutor told the New York Times in a statement that the aircraft’s braking system had frozen and another key part had stalled. The statement added that prosecutors “will assess the legality of the actions of all those involved.”

[NYT]

TIME Middle East

Israel Says It Busted Hamas Cell Planning Attacks

More than 30 arrested in West Bank raids

JERUSALEM — Israel’s Shin Bet security service said Thursday it had uncovered a vast Hamas network in the West Bank that was planning large-scale attacks against Israelis in Jerusalem.

The Shin Bet said it arrested more than 30 Hamas militants who planned to kidnap Israelis and carry out attacks against Jerusalem’s light rail and its largest soccer stadium, among other targets. It said the men were trained and recruited in Jordan and Turkey and that various arms and explosives were recovered.

While the Islamic militant group Hamas rules the Gaza Strip, the West Bank is run by Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

The arrests come amid Israel’s worst sustained bout of violence in nearly a decade. Eleven Israelis have been killed in Palestinian attacks over the past month, including five people who were killed with guns and meat cleavers in a bloody assault on a Jerusalem synagogue last week. Most of the violence has occurred in Jerusalem, along with deadly attacks in Tel Aviv and the West Bank.

Hamas did not immediately comment on the arrests.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated the Shin Bet for thwarting the attacks, saying that if carried out they could have exacted a heavy toll of casualties.

“This is one operation that has been published but there are many more that remain secret,” he said of Israel’s intelligence work. “These foiling activities are against terrorists and against Hamas, which challenges the existence of a Jewish nation-state and the existence of Jews in general.”

 

TIME United Kingdom

Ferguson Protests Spread to Britain

People gather outside the US embassy in Central London,
People gather outside the US embassy in Central London, supporting the protests in Ferguson on Nov. 26, 2014. Andrea Baldo—LightRocket/Getty Images

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the U.S. embassy in London on Wednesday night.

Several hundred people marched in London in solidarity with protestors in the U.S., condemning the decision not to charge police officer Darren Wilson with the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Demonstrators held candles and placards outside the U.S. embassy and observed a minute’s silence before marching across central London to the Houses of Parliament, BBC reports. Many held their hands up and chanted the slogan of American campaigners: “Hands up, don’t shoot.” The protest was peaceful and no arrests were made.

The protest was attended by relatives of Mark Duggan, a young black man shot dead by a police officer in London in 2011 and Sean Rigg, a black musician who died in police custody in 2008.

MORE: The one battle Michael Brown’s family will win

Carole Duggan, Mark’s aunt, told the crowd: “We know the pain of losing somebody at the hands of the police. We stand in solidarity with the community of Ferguson. I feel they are very strong and brave people.”

[BBC]

TIME Hong Kong

Hong Kong Student Leader Joshua Wong Charged With Obstruction

Hong Kong Democracy Protest
Prominent Hong Kong student protest leader Joshua Wong talks to reporters outside a court in Hong Kong on Nov. 27, 2014 Vincent Yu—AP

His lawyer says the accusation is politically motivated

Hong Kong student leader Joshua Wong was charged Thursday with obstructing a bailiff clearing one of the city’s three protest areas, an accusation that the teenager’s lawyer says is motivated by the young protester’s politics and fame, not by fact.

Wong, 18, is a prominent face of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement. He appeared last month on the cover of TIME’s international edition and was named as one of TIME’s Most Influential Teens of 2014. He also features in TIME’s Person of the Year Poll.

He was arrested on Wednesday morning as police cleared a 60-day occupation of the Mong Kok district, where protesters had camped out demanding the right to freely elect their city’s top leader.

Wong was bailed for a modest $65 and, unless he is traveling to or from university, he cannot, as a bail condition, enter a large area of the neighborhood until his next court date on Jan. 14. The government could seek to end bail should Wong violate the ban or if he is arrested on another offense.

Should Joshua Wong Be TIME’s Person of the Year? Vote Below for #TIMEPOY

Wong’s lawyer, Michael Vidler, requested a court date as early as next week and accused the government of foot-dragging to prevent the popular student leader from playing a role in any future demonstrations in the volatile, contested district, located in the heart of the teeming Kowloon peninsula.

“The court should not be manipulated,” Vidler told the magistrate. “The real reason for this charge is that my client is a leader of a student organization that is involved in the call for true democracy in Hong Kong.”

“These are extraordinary times,” he added, outside court, noting that is was highly unusual for someone charged with a minor crime to have to seek bail from a court, rather than be quickly bailed by police.

A prosecutor said in court that the government was “not discriminating” against Wong and that it “treats each defendant equally.”

Wong has denied the allegations, and the details of his arrest are murky. A video shared on Wong’s Facebook page shows police tearing down a barricade without meeting any resistance, and a special police unit is then seen rushing into the crowd of protesters to arrest Wong. In the video, Wong appears to be standing still. A prosecutor declined to answer Vidler’s request in court that he describe the reasons for Wong’s arrest.

Vidler also said outside court that police had both punched Wong and “repeatedly grabbed him in parts of his body that caused him pain.” He declined to be specific. Wong also showed the media abrasions and bruising on his neck and the sides of his face.

Bailiffs began clearing the protest site in Mong Kok on Tuesday, acting on a civil injunction brought by bus and taxi companies frustrated with the continued occupation of a major thoroughfare in a busy shopping district. Police later took over the clearance and overnight chased protesters out of the area with pepper-spray cannons. In the morning, police pushed protesters out of the remaining protest site in a quick, methodical sweep.

Police arrested 148 people in the two days of clearing the site, including firebrand legislator Leung Kwok-hung and another student leader, Lester Shum.

Wong, who was without his usual glasses and was wearing two grey hoodies, was as fidgety in court as any teenager asked to stand still for too long. Standing with hunched shoulders, he chewed his lip, stretched his neck and shifted his weight as he surveyed the room.

Outside court, though, he was confident and straight-backed in front of dozens of media cameras — their bright lights on in the gray rain — and posed for photographs with a thumbs-up.

He told TIME that he hoped protesters would continue to occupy their camps in Admiralty and Causeway Bay districts until the government answers their demands for electoral reform. He also said he would “have discussions” with student leaders about what role he might have in any continued protests in Mong Kok.

“I hope the government will face the problem rather than have the bailiffs do it,” he said.

Vote Now: Who Should Be TIME’s Person of the Year?

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser