TIME France

‘Love Locks’ to Be Cut Off Paris Bridge

FRANCE-PARIS-LOVE-PADLOCKS-BRIDGE
Charly Triballeau—AFP/Getty Images A couple locks a padlock on the "Pont des Arts" on May 29, 2015 in Paris as the Paris municipality announced that the bridge's fences have to be removed due to the weight of the padlocks put by tourists to ensure everlasting love.

Almost a million locks signifying eternal love will be removed

Locks fastened to a Paris bridge to signify eternal love might not be so eternal after all.

Paris authorities have announced that all the “love locks” fastened to the railing of the Pont des Arts bridge will be removed Monday, citing structural risks to the bridge and public safety, the BCC reports. Part of the bridge collapsed under the weight of the locks last year, and city officials have already tried to prohibit couples from adding more locks. “Love locks” have long been popular with tourists in Paris who want to leave behind a romantic token in the City of Love.

Almost a million padlocks weighing 45 tons will be cut off the Pont des Arts bridge. Locks will also be cut off the Pont de l’Archeveche, near Notre Dame. City officials said they want to keep Paris’ reputation as a romantic destination, but will encourage visitors to show their love in other ways.

The 19th-century metal grates to which the locks are fastened on the Pont des Arts bridge will be replaced with transparent panels later this year.

[BBC]

TIME Soccer

How FIFA’s Leader Has Clung to Power Despite Corruption Scandal

The rules of soccer's governing body are stacked in favor of entrenched leaders like the 79-year-old Sepp Blatter

There aren’t many venues in global politics these days where developing nations, especially from Africa, can overrule their wealthy European peers. But FIFA is surely one of them. Such are the rules of the mammoth bureaucracy that governs the game of soccer—in its decisions, one country gets one vote, regardless how big or powerful—that even the worst scandal in its history could not dislodge the technocrat who enjoys the support of the developing world.

Sepp Blatter, who has run FIFA since 1998, easily won re-election on Friday to another four-year term. And it didn’t matter that nine officials under his command, including two direct subordinates, had been indicted by the U.S. two days earlier for allegedly taking millions of dollars in kickbacks during Blatter’s tenure. It also didn’t matter that the most influential nations in soccer, including all of Europe and North America, were intent on finally ousting Blatter after those arrests.

It didn’t matter because of delegates like Amaju Pinnick, the head of the soccer federation of Nigeria, who emerged on Friday evening from the congress hall in Zurich, Switzerland, wearing a pinstripe suit and a radiant smile. His friendship with Blatter dates back to 1999, when the newly elected FIFA President paid a visit to Nigeria. “I was privileged to go with the VIP volunteers who worked with him,” says Pinnick, who was then a mid-level official in Nigerian soccer. “He told me what he wanted to do for Africa, what he wanted to do for the developing nations,” he recalled. “He wants the small nations in FIFA to feel very important.”

The FIFA congress was full of such testimonials. On the massive screens above the stage, videos promoting Blatter’s good works ran at regular intervals, one showing a montage of African children playing soccer on the beach. “We promote soccer, everywhere,” the voiceover explained. At one point, Isha Johansen, the head of the soccer federation of Sierra Leone, stood up to thank Blatter for helping her country fight last year’s outbreak of the Ebola virus with a “solidarity token” of $50,000. “That was the very first international donation Sierra Leone ever received to fight Ebola,” she said.

There was no such praise, however, from the soccer federations of the developed world, which represented about a third of the 209 countries and territories that comprise FIFA. When the voting ended on Friday evening, the Westerners sulked out of the hall, saying little to the news cameras that tried to capture their frustration. The few who agreed to talk, like Jesper Moller Christensen of Denmark, expressed “disappointment” over Blatter’s re-election. “This is not the end,” he insisted. “There are disciplinary actions we could take if the evidence appears.”

But so far, the evidence hasn’t appeared. The indictments unsealed on Wednesday in New York detailed decades of bribes worth a total of around $150 million, which top FIFA officials allegedly received in exchange for granting promotional contracts, tournaments and other lucrative deals to their patrons. Nine of these officials are now under arrest in Switzerland, awaiting extradition to the U.S. to face charges including racketeering and money laundering. But Blatter is not among them.

“Right now he is unscathed,” said the dejected president of the soccer federation of Cyprus, Costas Koutsokoumnis, as he stood smoking outside the congress hall after Blatter’s re-election. “His name is not touched anywhere.”

This fact did not come as a surprise to Brett Forest, who has spent years investigating corruption in the world of soccer. “Many journalists for decades have been on to this guy,” said Forest, a senior writer with ESPN Magazine who recently published a book on match-fixing at the highest levels of the game. “But no one has ever found anything that’s really good enough. That tells you this guy is a smart player.”

Rather than exposing himself through blatant bribery schemes, Blatter has tended to use small development projects to win the loyalty of soccer federations from impoverished countries. He has steadily funneled some of FIFA’s enormous cash pile—the total revenues of the organization between 2011 and 2014 came to around $5.7 billion—toward building stadiums and supporting leagues in the developing world. Under his tenure, the World Cup also came to Africa for the first time: in 2010, South Africa hosted the soccer championships, which Blatter aptly referred to on Friday as “the goose with the golden eggs” during one of his rambling speeches.

“While a lot of that is really positive and shouldn’t be dismissed, only a fraction of the money intended for those projects often goes to the right place,” said Forest. Much of it gets siphoned off to corrupt officials in the recipient countries, further encouraging their devotion to FIFA’s incumbent leadership, he said. “It’s a cabal that perpetuates itself.”

European soccer federations have no easy means of dislodging it. Next week, the Union of European Football Associations, which is known as UEFA, will meet again in Berlin to discuss their options against Blatter. There was even speculation at the congress on Friday that the Europeans could split off from FIFA to form a rival organization. But Christensen of Denmark said that won’t happen any time soon. “The 54 members of UEFA will never agree to a boycott,” he said.

Instead they are counting on the arrested FIFA officials to give testimony against Blatter. “There would then be disciplinary actions we could take” inside FIFA in order to unseat the President, Chistensen told TIME. So even though Blatter managed on Friday to win another term, it is far from clear that he will be able to hold on for the duration of his latest four-year term. “No, no, we will not wait that long,” said Koutsokoumnis of Cyprus. “There are ways to get him.”

The clearest way would be another indictment, which the acting U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of New York has promised to produce as the investigation moves forward. “It’s only just beginning,” Kelly Currie said on Wednesday of the arrests so far.

In the coming months, FIFA and its President will still have to deal with the damning allegations that emerge from the ongoing probe. Working with U.S. law enforcement, Swiss authorities have launched a separate investigation into how FIFA allotted Russia and Qatar the rights to host the next two World Cup championships. But even if these criminal cases implicate Blatter directly, or discredit him enough to force his resignation, it is far from clear that FIFA will change.

“You have to understand the structure of FIFA,” said Forest, the investigative journalist. “In one sense it’s a beautiful and pure democracy. A small country like Togo has the same voting power as a country like Germany. But it’s also FIFA’s fundamental weakness.” In practice, it seems to encourage FIFA’s leadership to court the favor of the smallest federations, because they know that with their support, a FIFA President is effectively immune to internal demands for change.

In his parting remarks on Friday, Blatter seemed to signal that this culture would persist. Instead of addressing the corruption scandal directly—he only referred to it as a “storm,” as though it were a natural and temporary bit of turbulence—he promised to give more seats on FIFA’s ruling committee to representatives of Oceania, which is mostly comprised of Pacific Island countries like Fiji. That is what FIFA needs right now, he said, for the sake of “solidarity.”

And as long as Blatter can use such favors to keep the developing world behind him, there is little that the wealthy nations of the world can do to influence his leadership. They may just have to resign themselves to another four years under Blatter, who seemed to feel that his time in office hadn’t lasted all that long. “What is this notion of time? Time is infinite and we slice it up,” the 79-year-old remarked, turning suddenly philosophical as the congress wound down. “The more one ages, the more time flies by quickly, time grows short. So I am with you, and I would quite simply like to stay with you.” And with that, the majority of the audience broke into wild applause.

TIME Japan

Powerful Earthquake Strikes Near Japan

There was no tsunami warning because the quake was so deep

(TOKYO)—A powerful but extremely deep earthquake has struck off Japan’s Ogasawara islands, but officials say there is no danger of a tsunami.

Japan’s Meteorological Agency says the offshore earthquake struck Saturday at 8:24 p.m. at a depth of 370 miles (590 km). The U.S. Geological Survey says the quake had a magnitude of 7.8 and a depth of 421 miles (678 km).

Public broadcaster NHK said there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

The meteorological agency did not issue a tsunami warning because the quake struck so far beneath the earth’s surface.

The Ogasawara islands are about 620 miles (1,000 km) south of Tokyo.

TIME Soccer

Sepp Blatter Wins FIFA Presidency for Fifth Term

Amidst the worst scandal in FIFA's history, 79-year-old handily wins re-election

(ZURICH) — Sepp Blatter has been re-elected as FIFA president for a fifth term, chosen to lead world soccer despite separate U.S. and Swiss criminal investigations into corruption.

The 209 FIFA member federations gave the 79-year-old Blatter another four-year term on Friday after Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan conceded defeat after losing 133-73 in the first round.

Prince Ali’s promise of a clean break from FIFA’s tarnished recent history was rejected despite the worst scandal in the organization’s 111-year history.

TIME restaurants

Chefs Ditch the Straitjacket of New Nordic Culinary Rules

People enter the Noma restaurant in Cope
Casper Christofferson—AFP/Getty Images People enter Noma in Copenhagen, on April 27, 2010.

Rules on using local produce made Scandinavian cooking the most fashionable in the world but now chefs want more freedom

It has put exotic ingredients like sea buckthorn and reindeer lichen on menus from Helsinki to New York, and forced many a professional kitchen to employ its own forager in order to collect the delicacies. It has made stars of chefs in a region that, culinarily speaking, was previously known only for the decidedly acquired tastes of pickled herring and salted liquorice. It has turned Copenhagen and Stockholm and Oslo and even Malmo and Are into objects of gastronomic pilgrimage. And it is the foundation from which one restaurant in particular has risen to be judged best in the world. But now, it seems, even the chefs who helped create it are ready to move beyond New Nordic cuisine.

On Friday, several Copenhagen chefs used the launch of a new platform for the local culinary community, called Aorta, to call for liberation from the very paradigm that has made them and their region the object of intense foodie devotion. “’New Nordic is no longer Copenhagen’s food agenda,” the text reads. “Tired of the ‘N-word,’ [these chefs] explore the possibility of a Post-Nordic style of gastronomy.”

That was fast: new Nordic itself is only eleven years old. In 2004, twelve chefs, led by the Danes Claus Meyer and René Redzepi, signed a manifesto in which they laid out principles for a regional cuisine. Individually, the measures weren’t revolutionary: to reflect the changing seasons in the meals they prepared; to base their cooking on ingredients particular to their climate, landscape, and waters, for example. But in a region where ‘fine dining’ had until then meant one thing — French — it sparked tremendous change. New Nordic chefs began forging a sophisticated, creative cuisine that relied heavily on wild plants, native fish, and indigenous meats. Banished were olive oil, lemon juice, and foie gras; in their place came sea buckthorn, musk ox, and mahogany clams dredged from icy Norwegian waters.

Spearheading the movement was Noma, which Redzepi co-owned at the time with Claus Meyers. When that restaurant opened in Copenhagen in late 2003 in an abandoned whaling warehouse, its mission was to create a truly native cuisine. Redzepi began by simply swapping local ingredients for the classics of French cuisine: musk ox for beef in tartar, beetroot for stone fruits in desserts. But a revelatory run in with a wild herb growing on a local beach (It tasted like cumin, he says. “I thought, ‘We are a spicy nation!’”) made him realize that there was a world of local flavors there for the discovering. His chefs began working with foragers to harvest wild plants and even insects and treated them as new ingredients. Eventually, by using fermentation and other techniques, they increased the range of locally-available flavors even more. It wasn’t always popular; early on, some in Copenhagen accused Redzepi and his chefs of being people who did unprintable things to seals. And it wasn’t even 100% local — Noma has always, for example, included chocolate among its desserts and served wines from France. But in the hopes of spurring creativity, Redzepi encouraged himself and his chefs to find inspiration in the landscape around them.

It worked. In the course of a few years, Noma won international acclaim and a well-earned reputation as one of the most creative kitchens in the business. In 2010 it took the first place ranking in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants; a position it would regain four times (the restaurant will learn on Monday night if it has managed a fifth victory).

And just as Noma took off, so too did New Nordic, at least as a brand. Some of the restaurants so labeled did indeed try to adhere to the principles outlined in the manifesto, Others, such as Christian Puglisi’s Relae in Copenhagen, interpreted things their own way, using ingredients — like olive oil — regardless of provenance if they made sense for the chef’s individual style or local circumstances. When he opened Chef and Sommelier in 2010 in Helsinki, Sasu Laukkonnen was committed above all else to using organic ingredients. “At first, I was just importing everything from France,” he recalls. “It was Rene who really turned my head to Finland — who said to me, look what you have her. So we started foraging and farming ourselves, and our food became much more personal and intense. But it’s not possible for an organic restaurant in Helsinki to use only local products, so I never considered us a New Nordic restaurant. But we get called that all the time.”

The identity helped restaurants in Oslo, Helsinki, Stockholm, and ever far-flung corners of Scandinavia like Skåne, Åre, and the remote Faroe Islands make names for themselves as well. “The label has done so much for our region, and everything that came after Noma’s success has been so important,” says Esben Holmboe Bang, chef of Oslo’s Maaemo . “Any chef who says that “new Nordic” didn’t have something to do with our success is lying.”

It’s even spread far from the actual region; New Nordic restaurants have opened in Barcelona, New York, Edinburgh, and Long Island City. But back home, in the actual Nordics, chefs are now chafing against the label. One restaurant’s culinary tics — desserts made from vegetables instead of fruit, three-word menu items utterly lacking in adjectives — have ossified into near dogma. And limitations once designed as a spur to creativity have begun to feel more like a straitjacket for chefs who want, say, to shave a bit of frozen foie gras atop their beets, or — God forbid — serve a tomato. “ When you go really Nordic, you get flavors that are very acidic, very green, lots of fermentation, lots of pickling,” says Matt Orlando, chef of Copenhagen’s Amass. “Those are great flavors, and we use them at the restaurant. But there are things from my past that I also like to use, that can round all that acidity and greenness out.”

At Amass, Orlando grows many of his own herbs, works closely with local farmers, and changes his menu sometimes daily to ensure that peas, for example, are only served when they are at peak deliciousness. “That’s the way people cook in France and Italy; the only thing different here is that it’s new to this region,” he says. “But why does that need a label? Why can’t you just call it ‘cooking?’”

One of the chefs behind today’s “Post-Nordic” text, Orlando himself worked for several years at Noma. But because he is American (and has worked at both New York’s Per Se and England’s Fat Duck) he has other experiences and flavors that he likes to bring into his dishes. And he is hardly alone. There are a number of non-Danish chefs in Copenhagen who came originally to the city to work at Noma, but have stayed to open their own places. “You have Victor (Wågman) and Sam (Nutter) at Bror bringing an almost French interest in fat to their cooking, and the guys at Taller who are cooking Venezuelan. That’s another reason the label isn’t accurate anymore.“

It may be inaccurate, but it’s certainly been powerful: A lot of money and attention have been made by the New Nordic brand. Culinary tourism in the area has shot up; by 2011, one in three of every tourists to Copenhagen said they planned to visit a specific restaurant. The Nordic Council, an intergovernmental agency, devoted over $3 million to supporting workshops and other initiatives under the rubric “New Nordic Food” in the last ten years. Not long ago, Vogue magazine published a “New Nordic Diet” (headline: Is Eating Like A Viking the Next It Diet?). You can also buy New Nordic shampoo, and even a New Nordic liver cleanse. “As a label, it doesn’t really have any meaning anymore,” says Bang. “It’s lost its way.”

As communications director for FOOD, an organization that promotes restaurants, producers, and agriculture in Denmark, Kasper Fogh started Aorta, the web magazine that published today’s protest, to “help spread the attention around a bit, to take some of what Noma has and get it to these young guys.” But perhaps one of the ironies of this situation is that few are more fed up with the New Nordic label than Redzepi himself.

Objecting to the way the phrase has become more marketing tool than meaningful signifier, he draws distinctions. “I don’t have a problem with ‘Nordic,’” he says. “It’s the only way to give a sense of place. But the ‘new’ in front of ‘Nordic’ should be erased, buried. I am so sick of that term.”

Although he got the chance to cook with soybeans and citrus while Noma was in residence in Japan earlier this year, Redzepi still maintains a regional-only ethos as a goal for his ingredients now that he is back home. But even he holds the future open. “We aim to only use regional ingredients because, you know the saying, the greatest catalyst to creativity is limitation? It made us more creative. But will it be like that forever? I doubt it, because we’ve already explored a lot. First we found new ingredients, and then we processed them in ways that developed new flavors. What comes after that? I don’t know.” He pauses, and laughs. “Maybe olive oil comes after that.”

TIME Fast Food

The Surprising Reason Wendy’s Is Making a Beefless Burger

Workers In Fast Food Industry Begin Efforts To Unionize Jobs
Spencer Platt—Getty Images A Wendy's sign hangs as protesters, many of them employees at Wendy's fast-food restaurant, demonstrate outside of one of the restaurants to demand higher pay and the right to form a union on November 29, 2012 in New York City.

The beef is definitely not here

A burger without beef? The thought is surely sacrilegious to most Americans.

But Wendy’s is no longer catering to just its home country. With the opening of its first store in Gurgaon, India earlier this month, the company has had to rethink its attachment to the meat that made it famous.

According to a report in Ad Age, Wendy’s is rolling out a menu featuring “spicy aloo crunch burgers and buns sprinkled with chili, turmeric and coriander,” but no beef. That’s because in India, where Hindu is the majority religion, the cow is considered sacred.

Other fast food chains, like McDonald’s, also offer beefless menus, but Wendy’s is differentiating itself in other ways.

According to Ad Age:

Wendy’s debut outpost in Gurgaon, just southwest of New Delhi, has less of a fast food feel and more of a casual dining atmosphere, though prices remain low . . . Meals are served at the table, on proper china plates.

 

 

TIME Cuba

U.S. Takes Cuba Off Terror List

It's part of the process to normalize relations between the Cold War foes

(HAVANA)—The Obama administration on Friday formally removed Cuba from a U.S. terrorism blacklist, a decision hailed in Cuba as the healing of a decades-old wound and an important step toward normalizing relations between the Cold War foes.

Secretary of State John Kerry signed off on rescinding Cuba’s “state sponsor of terrorism” designation exactly 45 days after the Obama administration informed Congress of its intent to do so on April 14. Lawmakers had that amount of time to weigh in and try to block the move, but did not do so.

“The 45-day congressional pre-notification period has expired, and the secretary of state has made the final decision to rescind Cuba’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism, effective today, May 29, 2015,” the State Department said in a statement.

“While the United States has significant concerns and disagreements with a wide range of Cuba’s policies and actions, these fall outside the criteria relevant to the rescission of a state sponsor of terrorism designation,” the statement said.

The step comes as officials from the two countries continue to hash out details of restoring full diplomatic relations, including opening embassies in Washington and Havana and returning ambassadors to the two countries for the first time since the U.S. severed diplomatic relations with the island in January 1961. The removal of Cuba from the terrorism list had been a key Cuban demand.

The Cold War-era designation was levied mainly for Cuba’s support of leftist guerrillas around the world and isolated the communist island from much of the world financial system because banks fear repercussions from doing business with designated countries. Even Cuba’s Interests Section in Washington lost its bank in the United States, forcing it to deal in cash until it found a new banker this month.

“We welcome today’s announcement by the Secretary of State, which is another step forward toward a more normal and productive relationship between the United States and the Cuban people,” a White House blog post said Friday.

“For 55 years, we tried using isolation to bring about change in Cuba,” it said. “But by isolating Cuba from the United States, we isolated the United States from the Cuban people and, increasingly, the rest of the world. Through this new approach of engagement, we are finally in a position to advance our interests while simultaneously improving the lives of the Cuba people.”

The terror list was a particularly charged issue for Cuba because of the U.S. history of supporting exile groups responsible for attacks on the island, including the 1976 bombing of a Cuban passenger flight from Barbados that killed 73 people aboard. The attack was linked to Cuban exiles with ties to U.S.-backed anti-Castro groups and both men accused of masterminding the crime took shelter in Florida, where one, Luis Posada Carriles, currently lives.

“I think this could be a positive act that adds to hope and understanding and can help the negotiations between Cuba and the United States,” said director Juan Carlos Cremata, who lost his father in the 1976 bombing.

“It’s a list we never should have been on,” said Ileana Alfonso, 57, who also lost her father in the attack.

Still, top U.S. Republicans criticized the move, with House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio saying that the Obama administration had “handed the Castro regime a significant political win in return for nothing.”

“The communist dictatorship has offered no assurances it will address its long record of repression and human rights at home,” he said in a statement.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush called Cuba’s removal from the list “a mistake” and “further evidence that President Obama seems more interested in capitulating to our adversaries than in confronting them.”

Also critical of the move was New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has urged the Obama administration to demand the return of a woman who escaped to Cuba after being convicted in 1977 of killing a state trooper. Joanne Chesimard, now known as Assata Shakur, has lived on the island since the 1980s.

Christie said removing Cuba’s terrorism designation is “an unacceptable offense to the family of the fallen New Jersey State Trooper and every other wanted criminal that still lives freely in Cuba today. ”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, praised the move, saying that the State Department had “removed the burden of an outdated, outmoded strategy.” She called it a “critical step forward in creating new opportunities for American businesses and entrepreneurs, and in strengthening family ties.”

U.S. and Cuban officials have said the two sides are close to resolving the final issues but the most recent round of talks ended on May 22 with no announcement of an agreement.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Friday that “there continue to be issues that need to be worked out.” He said important progress had been made, but would not give a time frame for an announcement. “That’s obviously among the next milestones,” he said.

Even with the hurdle over the terrorism designation cleared, Washington and Havana are wrangling over American demands that its diplomats be able to travel throughout Cuba and meet with dissidents without restrictions. The Cubans are wary of activity they see as destabilizing to their government.

Both the U.S. and Cuba say the embassies are a first step in a larger process of normalizing relations. That effort would still have to tackle bigger questions such as the embargo, which only Congress can fully revoke, as well as the future of the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay and Cuba’s democracy record.

 

TIME Nigeria

Muhammadu Buhari Pledges to Fight Boko Haram as He Takes Over Nigeria

Nigeria New President
Sunday Alamba—AP New Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, salutes his supporters during his Inauguration in Abuja, Nigeria on May 29, 2015. Nigerians celebrated their newly reinforced democracy Friday, dancing and singing songs and praises at the inauguration of Muhammadu Buhari, the first candidate to beat a sitting president at the polls. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

The former military dictator calls himself a "born-again democrat"

(ABUJA, Nigeria)—Nigerians celebrated their newly reinforced democracy Friday, dancing, singing praises and releasing white doves symbolizing peace at the inauguration of Muhammadu Buhari, the first candidate to beat a sitting president at the polls.

To roars of approval, President Buhari pledged to take personal charge of the fight against Boko Haram Islamic extremists and said he will root out human rights violations by the military — abuses that prevented full military cooperation from the U.S. and Britain. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry attended the inauguration and a senior State Department official said Washington is ready to increase military aid and send more advisers.

Buhari, a 72-year-old former general who ruled briefly as a military dictator in the 1980s, calls himself a “born-again democrat.”

“We see him as our only hope against this crippling corruption,” said Efo Okorare, curator of an open-air exhibition of portraits of Nigerian leaders, pointing out the many in military uniforms.

Buhari saluted Nigerians, whether or not they voted for him.

“I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody,” he said, to more applause. “I intend to serve as president to all Nigerians.”

Read more: Here Are 4 Challenges Nigeria’s New Leader Must Overcome

Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation with its biggest economy and is the largest oil producer, but government coffers have been hit by massive corruption, a devalued naira currency, fallen oil prices and a $63 billion debt which grows as Nigeria borrows more to pay government salaries.

Some nervous politicians feared Buhari’s promise to retrieve ill-gotten gains signaled a witch hunt. “These fears are groundless,” Buhari said, though he accused some of his predecessors of behaving “like spoilt children, breaking everything in the house.”

For the future, he promised to “ensure that the gross corruption” is checked.

Earlier Buhari, resplendent in cream traditional robes, took the oath of office as the crowd at Eagle Square in Nigeria’s capital roared its approval. The former general then inspected troops in the plaza, decked out in colors of Nigeria’s green and white flag, and waved to supporters from the back of an open vehicle.

A 21-gun salute boomed during the handover of power which is a turning point in Nigeria’s democratic evolution. Security was tight. In 2010, two car bombs and a grenade blast triggered by militants from Nigeria’s oil patch killed 12 people at Independence Day celebrations.

Outside, people danced and sang “Sai baba, sai Buhari,” meaning “Only father, only Buhari.”

The newly elected government “is basking in a reservoir of (international) good will and high expectations,” Buhari said, promising to take advantage of it. “Nigeria has a window of opportunity to fulfill our mission as our great nation.”

Kerry tweeted “Congratulations to @MBuhari & the Nigerian people. A privilege to be here to celebrate #Nigeria’s historic & peaceful democratic transition.”

Many African leaders attended the inauguration along with France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

Buhari thanked the leaders of neighboring Cameroon, Chad and Niger for contributing to a multinational offensive that this year has driven Boko Haram from towns where it had declared an Islamic caliphate.

Suicide bombings and hit-and-run attacks continue by what he called “a mindless, godless group” pursuing an uprising that has killed more than 13,000 people and driven more than 1.5 million from their homes.

As commander-in-chief of the armed forces, Buhari said “the command center will be relegated to me and remain until Boko Haram is completely subdued.”

Political science professor Richard Joseph of Northwestern University said Buhari’s victory has hopeful international implications.

“The world desperately needs a victory against cultist jihadism. Nigeria (under Buhari) can provide it,” he wrote in a blog.

___

Associated Press Diplomatic Correspondent Bradley Klapper contributed to this report from Abuja.

TIME United Kingdom

Orthodox Jewish Sect Tells Women to Stop Driving

Hasidic Jews London
Rob Stothard—Getty Images Ultra-orthodox Jewish men walk along the street in the Stamford Hill area of London on Jan. 17, 2015.

Rabbis say driving brings out "aggressive tendencies" which are not appropriate for women

Leaders of the Belz Hasidic sect in north London have declared that women should not be allowed to drive and that from August, children would be barred from their schools if their mothers drove them there.

Rabbis sent the letter, which was signed by leaders from Belz educational institutions, out to parents last week according to a report in The Jewish Chronicle.

The letter said the ban is based on recommendations from Rabbi Yissachar Dov Rokeach, the Belzer spiritual leader in Israel. It said that women who drive go against “the traditional rules of modesty in our camp” and that driving brings out immodest, “aggressive tendencies” in women.

Some within the Orthodox Jewish community disagree. Dina Brawer, U.K. Ambassador of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, said the instructions within the letter had no scriptural foundation. “The instinct behind such a draconian ban is one of power and control, of men over women,” she told the JC. “In this sense it is no different from the driving ban on women in Saudi Arabia.”

A statement issued on behalf of local women in the Belz sect disagreed, saying that they felt privileged to be part of a community that respected their dignity. “We believe that driving a vehicle is a high pressured activity where our values may be compromised by exposure to selfishness, road-rage, bad language and other inappropriate behaviour,” they said.

[The Jewish Chronicle]

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