TIME Afghanistan

Wounded AP Reporter Vows to Return to Afghanistan

(NEW YORK) — Over and over, Kathy Gannon has re-lived the decisions that led to the death of her close friend Anja Niedringhaus and her own severe injuries, as they went about their jobs chronicling the story of Afghanistan.

Gannon, a veteran Associated Press correspondent, and Niedringhaus, an award-winning AP photographer, had worked together on countless stories and negotiated many dangers for five years. But they were always “very smart with how we went about doing the stories, because we wanted to keep doing the stories,” Gannon recalled.

Then, on April 4, they were sprayed with gunfire by an Afghan police commander as they prepared to cover the presidential election the next day.

Were she to go back in time, would she do anything differently? The answer, firmly, is “No.”

“We weren’t careless or cavalier about the security arrangements …,” Gannon said at AP headquarters in New York last week, in her first interview since the attack. “We really made sure that we had a safe place to stay, we knew who we were traveling with, we knew the area in which we were going. Honestly, I’ve thought it through so many times — I know neither Anja or I would have done anything differently.”

The stakes in the election were high for Afghanistan, a country already wracked by 13 years of war that was facing both the prospect of Western forces leaving and a renewed Taliban insurgency.

The two women had driven from Kabul, the capital, to the eastern city of Khost, then connected with a convoy under the protection of Afghan security forces that was transporting ballots to an outlying area. Their goal was to get a first-hand sense of how ordinary Afghans would respond to this window of democracy in a province considered a Taliban stronghold.

As they sat in their vehicle in a well-guarded compound amid scores of police and security officers, one of the men supposedly assuring their safety walked up, yelled “Allahu Akbar,” and fired on them with his AK-47. Then, he dropped his emptied weapon and surrendered.

Niedringhaus, 48, died instantly of her wounds. Gannon, 61, was hit with six bullets that ripped through her left arm, right hand and left shoulder, shattering her shoulder blade.,

“I looked down and my left hand was separated from my wrist,” Gannon said. “I remember saying, ‘Oh my God, this time we’re finished.’ … One minute we were sitting in the car laughing, and the next, our shoulders were pressed hard against each other as if one was trying to hold the other up. The shooting ended. I looked toward Anja. I didn’t know.”

As the AP driver sped their bullet-riddled car over bumpy roads to the nearest hospital, a municipal facility 45 minutes away, the AP translator told Gannon, “Kathy, don’t leave us.” She was sure she was dying.

“That time was very much about really making peace,” Gannon recalled. “I was so trying to just breathe and just go peacefully.”

At the hospital, Gannon was placed on a gurney, in excruciating pain. Yet there were reassurances.

“At one point the doctor said to me, ‘Your life is as important to me as it is to you. We really are working trying to save it.'”

In the operating room, she was sedated. When she woke up, she’d already been airlifted from a U.S. base near Khost back to Kabul. It was only there, still only half-conscious, that she realized her friend was dead.

Within days, Gannon flew by an air ambulance jet to a hospital in Germany, and, later, to the United States, to continue her treatment at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.

The months of physical recovery and therapy have been grueling. Gannon raves about the care she has received, in particular the reconstruction work overseen by Dr. Duretti Fufa at the New York hospital that involved rebuilding her left arm with bone, fat and muscle from her left leg.

“It’s so minute. You have to attach the nerves, you have to attach the arteries, the vessels,” Gannon said. “I had a gaping six-inch (15-centimeter) hole right through where several bullets had just smashed through the arm. There was nothing there. She has completely rebuilt it.”

“She has continued at every stage to do wonderfully,” Fufa said. The hand and reconstructive specialist praised the surgeons abroad for stabilizing the complex injuries enough to allow Gannon’s arms to be salvaged, and Gannon for doing all the hard work of a patient that followed. “She is an incredibly motivated person. I could not ask for a more motivated and pleasant patient to work with.”

Said Gannon: “As horrible as everything was, there were so many times you think, ‘My God, I’m so fortunate.’ Every nerve, even the smallest nerve in my left hand, was intact. How is that possible?”

Her recovery remains a work in progress; the fingers of her left hand are still immobile. As soon as she can, she wants to visit Niedringhaus’ grave near her birthplace in Germany to say a last goodbye. And she is determined, after further surgery and therapy, to return to Afghanistan — and to report again from there for the AP.

“Neither Anja or I would ever accept to be forced out by some crazy gunman,” Gannon said. (Their attacker has since been convicted of treason and sentenced to death by an Afghan court.)

Both her tight-knit family in Canada and her husband and stepdaughter in Pakistan worry, but know her well enough to understand she will go back.

Gannon has established a strong bond with Afghanistan over three decades of covering it. As she put it, “There’s history still to be told there.”

“Afghanistan is a tremendous story of people who have really been caught in such successive traumas that they always seem to come out on the losing end,” she said. “Afghans, through 35 years, have come through one war after another always believing that it’s going to get better. … I have a tremendous affinity for that struggle that they have constantly, constantly endured and never succumbed to hopelessness.”

Moreover, Gannon says Niedringhaus would want her to go back.

Niedringhaus loved shooting all sorts of subjects, including sports, but she spent much of her working life in trouble spots — Iraq, the Gaza Strip, Israel, Kuwait, Turkey — and was one of 11 AP photographers who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2005 for coverage of the Iraq War.

She and Gannon started working together in 2009 in Kabul, when Niedringhaus had just finished an assignment embedded with a military unit. The photographer was mildly irked when Gannon voiced some skepticism about such reporting arrangements.

But “That evening we were talking about stories,” Gannon recalled. “We just hit it off … it was as if we had known each other for ever.”

The partnership flourished as the two journalists found much in common in their approaches to their jobs. They did not do their work from a distance. Instead, they got away from officialdom and spent time in villages, sleeping on the floors of mud houses.

“I loved the way Anja got so excited about the stories,” said Gannon. “She loved getting up close with the people.”

Gannon recounts all the firsts they accomplished together. They were the first international journalists to embed with both the Pakistani and the Afghan armies. They traveled from Quetta in Pakistan to Kandahar aboard an oil tanker carrying fuel to U.S.-led coalition forces. They got details of the massacre of 16 Afghans by a U.S. soldier from survivors, and visited poppy fields deep in Taliban country.

Now, Gannon insists she will do it again — without Niedringhaus, but in her memory and with her spirit.

“If it was reversed, Anja would be out there telling those stories too — she’d be telling them in the most amazing pictures,” she said.

“I want to go and try and tell them. It might be physically half a team, but emotionally and every other way, when I go back, it’s a two-person team. We’re together on this.”

TIME russia

An Aeroflot Nightmare: How I Got Placed Under Virtual Arrest in Moscow

Russian Airlines OAO Aeroflot Operations
A passenger jet operated by OAO Aeroflot takes off from Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow, Russia, on Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Old practices are dying hard in Russia, including at its national airline

Russia at one point seemed to be embracing the West, and the transformation that came as a natural result. After the unraveling of the Soviet Union in 1991, politics became democratic and the economy capitalist. The Cold War was relegated to history books and outdated spy movies. Separated by ideology and fear no more, the economies of Russia and Europe became closely intertwined. The G7 turned into the G8.

But these days, Russia seems to be reversing course. Politics have slipped back into near-authoritarianism under President Vladimir Putin. Moscow is striving to reassert the influence it once held over its neighborhood during Soviet days. Sanctions and ill-will are again isolating the Russian economy from the West. I recently bought a T-shirt in Moscow sporting a picture of Vladimir Putin karate-kicking Barack Obama. The ideas and attitudes of the USSR have proven hard to change.

That seems to be the case at Aeroflot, the nation’s main airline, as well. During Soviet times, the name Aeroflot was synonymous with gruff flight attendants and dilapidated aircraft. But the airline has mustered ambitions to become a major international carrier, and has made tremendous progress upgrading its fleet and modernizing its services. It joined the SkyTeam alliance, which includes Delta and Korean Air.

But as my wife and I found out, Russia’s national carrier, much like the nation itself, is apparently having some trouble shaking off its past.

A week ago, we arrived at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport to check into our flight back home to Beijing only to be told that we no longer had seats on the plane. The flight was overbooked and we had been bumped off. We are seasoned travelers, and in our experience, when flights are overbooked the airline usually asks for volunteers to surrender their seats, sweetening the request with some nominal financial benefit. If Aeroflot went through such a process, we weren’t involved, and when we raised the possibility of seeking volunteers, we were ignored. Apparently, the staff had determined who lost their seats in advance, and that was that.

Aeroflot’s decision, however, put us in a tight spot. Not only did we both have to be at work the next morning, but our visas were also expiring that night, so the delay would cause us to remain in the country too long. We explained our predicament to the Aeroflot staff, but nevertheless, they booked us onto another flight the next day. Then they demanded we sign documents agreeing to the change. When we continued to protest, one of the Aeroflot staffers told my wife we had 15 minutes to accept the new tickets or else he would call the police, have us thrown in jail for a visa violation and abandon us to deal with the consequences without the aid of the airline.

Left with the stark choice of prison or a delayed departure, we signed the papers and took our replacement tickets. However, what we weren’t told by Aeroflot is that we would not be able to move freely in the city, the airport or even a hotel until the boarding time of our new flight. The airline placed us in a special section of a Novotel hotel with a guard posted outside the door.

We were not allowed to leave the immediate area of our room, even to go to the hotel coffee shop, nor to order our own food. Breakfast boasted bread and spoiled yogurt but no coffee. Basically, we were locked away as if we had overstayed our visas, when we had not. The airline forced us into a situation in which we were treated as criminals.

We got a pretty good idea of how Edward Snowden must have lived during his first days in Russia. After arriving at the same Moscow airport, Snowden, too, was held in this travelers’ no-man’s land in a hotel not far from our own.

When I asked Aeroflot’s press officers about our case, they responded that “the procedure was completed in full compliance with the company’s rules and regulations.” The press managers added that “there were no offending words or any intimidations at your address [sic]” and that the Aeroflot staff employed “the persuasion approach” to resolve the problem.

As to the conditions at the hotel, they wrote that “there were no negative feedbacks received about the quality of service provided.” In addition, Aeroflot said that “we have taken the decision to organize additional training sessions for our ground personnel which will include the imitations of similar situations [sic].”

That might help. But if Aeroflot intends to shed its old reputation, it might want to ditch its Soviet practices along with its Soviet planes.

TIME National Security

More Americans Say Boots Are Needed on the Ground to Fight ISIS

Syrian Kurds Battle IS To Retain Control Of Kobani
Smoke billows following an airstrike by US-led coalition aircraft in Kobani, Syria, during fighting between Syrian Kurds and militants from Islamic State, on October 14, 2014 as seen from the outskirts of Suruc, on the Turkey-Syria border. Gokhan Sahin—Getty Images

Many believe the air campaign is not enough, a poll finds

More and more Americans say combat ground troops need to be deployed to take the fight to the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), according to a recent poll conducted by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal.

Approximately 41% of Americans surveyed said the military campaign against ISIS should include “air strikes and combat troops,” compared with the 35% who said the offensive should be constrained to aerial bombardments. Of the individuals polled, just 15% said they believed no military action should be taken against the radical Islamist group.

The findings represent a reversal in public opinion since a similar poll was taken in September, when 40% of those surveyed only backed air strikes and 34% were in favor of the use of aerial assaults and combat troops together.

Coalition bombers and fighter jets continued to batter ISIS positions across Iraq and Syria this week. U.S. Central Command confirmed that American aircraft and those from partner nations launched 22 strikes in Syria and at least one aerial assault in Iraq on Tuesday.

Read next: The FBI Wants Your Help IDing American ISIS Fighters

TIME Tourism

China Sets a Course for the Cruise-Ship Industry With Its First Luxury Liner

Employees stand in front of nearly completed ship at China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) Longxue shipbuilding ,in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou
Employees stand in front of nearly completed ship at China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) Longxue shipbuilding, in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou November 13, 2011. © Siu Chiu / Reuters—REUTERS

The world's largest shipbuilder does not have a cruise ship — at least, not yet

China is planning to build its first cruise ship, targeting the nation’s huge aspirational middle class as it looks for new ways of spending its money and vacation time.

To venture into new waters, Chinese shipping officials have secured the help of Carnival Corp., the world’s largest cruise-ship operator. The Miami-based juggernaut of cruising said on Wednesday it had signed a memorandum of understanding with the China State Shipbuilding Corporation to help design its maiden cruise vessel.

Carnival said the joint venture — which will also involve a major Italian shipping yard — would support “the Chinese government’s plans to grow the cruising industry in China and meet escalating demand for cruises from Chinese travelers.”

The Chinese Ministry of Transport has said it expects the Chinese cruise industry to number 4.5 million passengers by 2020 and to be the second largest global cruise market, after the U.S., by 2017. Some 530,000 Chinese tourists boarded cruise ships last year, more than double the previous year, Forbes reports.

Global cruise operators, beleaguered by accidents and on-board illness in other waters, have been keen on cashing in on the Asian market and wooing Chinese consumers to their bunks and buffets, reports Reuters. Carnival already ports three cruise ships in China and is set to add a fourth liner to its China-based fleet in 2015. Other companies, including Royal Caribbean, have claimed a smaller chuck of the market’s burgeoning appetite for cruises.

China built 25,903 tons of ships last year, surpassing South Korea’s output by about 1,000 tons.

TIME Iraq

Report: U.S. Kept Mum After Finding Old Chemical Weapons in Iraq

US Army soldiers wearing their full chemical protection suits walk inside the courtyard of an industrial complex they secured which they thought was a possible site for weapons of mass destruction in the central Iraqi town of Baquba in May 2003.
US Army soldiers wearing their full chemical protection suits walk inside the courtyard of an industrial complex they secured which they thought was a possible site for weapons of mass destruction in the central Iraqi town of Baquba in May 2003. Roberto Schmidt—AFP/Getty Images

Based on 17 U.S. service members and seven Iraqi police officers who claimed they were exposed to mustard or nerve agents after 2003

American and Iraqi troops came across and, in some cases, were wounded by aged or abandoned chemical weapons between 2004 and 2011, according to a New York Times investigation published late Tuesday.

The report, which is based on redacted intelligence records and dozens of interviews with American and Iraqi officials — and, notably, 17 U.S. service members and seven Iraqi police officers who claimed they were exposed to mustard or nerve agents — analyzes how the U.S. apparently suppressed information about the discoveries and barred the injured from receiving proper recognition and medical care.

The investigation also notes that militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, which has seized large swaths of Iraq and Syria over the past year, controls a former production site that Iraq told the United Nations over the summer still held about 2,500 corroded munitions.

[New York Times]

TIME Ukraine

Crimea’s Gay Community Moves Out as Russian Homophobia Sets In

Yegor Guskov and Bogdan Zinchenko, who owned a gay bar in Sevastopol, feared for their business — and their family

The Qbar was always an awkward fit in the nightlife of Sevastopol. It was the only place in the Ukrainian city to host the occasional drag show, and certainly the only place where the all-male waitstaff wore booty shorts beneath their aprons. In other parts of Europe, and even many cities in mainland Ukraine, the camp décor would have raised few eyebrows. But Sevastopol is a macho place. It houses the Russian Black Sea naval fleet, and its streets are studded with the homes and memorials of veterans from Russian wars going back to the 18th century. So even before Russia decided in March of this year to annex the city from Ukraine along with the rest of the Crimean peninsula, the locals, both Russian and Ukrainian, looked at the Qbar with a bit of suspicion.

“For a long time they were afraid,” says Yegor Guskov, who ran the bar along with his partner, Bogdan Zinchenko, since it opened in 2007. Mostly out of a fear of the unfamiliar, the Ukrainian officials who worked next door at City Hall were “worried at first that someone would fondle them if they came inside,” he says. “But then they realized it was safe, and the food is really good. So they started coming to eat.” By day the bar would be full of dowdy bureaucrats on their lunch breaks; by night it was packed with lithe young men and women taking Sambuca shots and dancing to Britney Spears. It filled a niche, and business prospered.

But like a lot of things about life in Sevastopol, all of that changed after the Russian annexation. In response to this year’s pro-Western revolution in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops to occupy the region of Crimea, many of them fanning out from the Russian naval base in Sevastopol. The invasion quickly helped install a new set of leaders in the region, who organized a slipshod referendum to call for Crimea to secede from Ukraine. When the vote passed with an overwhelming majority – most of Crimea’s residents are ethnic Russians – Putin signed a decree absorbing the peninsula into the Russian Federation. Its two million citizens thus found themselves living under Russian law.

For the gay community in Crimea, the most worrying piece of legislation was the Russian ban on “homosexual propaganda,” which Putin signed in 2012. Although the law is billed as an effort to protect Russian children from learning about “non-traditional sexual relationships,” its critics say the law encourages homophobia, signaling to Russians that gays are somehow inferior and should not be allowed to insist on their equality in public.

Since March, the new leaders of Crimea have embraced these principles with gusto. The head of the regional government, Sergei Aksyonov, said that the West’s liberal attitude toward gay rights would be “intolerable and unacceptable” on his peninsula during a meeting with his ministers last month. “In Crimea we don’t welcome such people, we don’t need them,” he said, referring to homosexuals. If they ever try to stage a pride parade or any other public events, Aksyonov warned that the local police and paramilitary forces would “take three minutes to clarify what [sexual] orientation is right.”

That sort of discrimination began to hit home for the Qbar in April, after Moscow appointed a retired officer of the Black Sea fleet to serve as the acting head of Sevastopol. Through their patrons from City Hall, the bar’s owners learned that “someone had whispered to the new leadership that they have a gay bar sitting right underneath them,” says Guskov. A series of fire and tax inspections followed, hitting the bar with fines and official reprimands that made its managers understand they weren’t welcome anymore.

At first they tried some cosmetic remedies. They removed the Ukrainian-language sign from their door and made the waiters put on trousers instead of their trademark denim shorts. They even took the letter Q out of the name of the bar, Guskov says, because the local officials said it looked like a symbol for sodomy. “We changed the format,” he says. “We tried to make it into a normal eatery.”

But none of that made them feel safe in the city they call home. Not only are the pair among the most open of Sevastopol’s chronically closeted gays, but Guskov and Zinchenko have a two-year-old son, Timur, from a surrogate mother. The chance that some technocrat could question their custody of Timur, plus their desire to have more children, convinced them that it was time to leave Crimea behind.

In August, they joined the quiet stream of émigrés – thousands of them, even by conservative estimates – who have left the peninsula and moved to mainland Ukraine since the annexation. The largest groups have been from Crimea’s ethnic minorities, primarily Muslim Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians, who have both raised alarms over repression and discrimination since their towns and cities became a part of Russia. But the region’s gay men and women have also been moving away, as much out of protest at the annexation as out of a fear of becoming the targets of a state-backed campaign of homophobia.

Guskov believes that campaign won’t be long in coming. “When it became clear that Russia needs to prepare for isolation from Europe, it needed to smear the Europeans somehow, and the simplest is to spread this idea of perverted, decadent Gayropeans,” he says, using the derogatory term for Europeans—”Gayropeytsy”—that has entered the Russian vernacular. “So this witch hunt at home is needed as a tool to smear opponents abroad,” he says.

In Crimea, adds Zinchenko, the warning signs are easy to see. If elderly neighbors were happy before to coddle Timur and offer his parents advice on how to raise him, now the Soviet tradition of the “donos” – denouncing an acquaintance to the police – has started to return, he says. “People are writing these accusations against their neighbors just to show how patriotic they are, how loyal,” he says. “These are all signals for us. They show that we can become a target.”

That suspicion is what forced Guskov and Zinchenko to give up their business in Sevastopol, pack up their things and moved to Kiev. Along the way, the New York City-based photographer Misha Friedman joined them to document their journey, which he felt was emblematic of the transformation that Crimea, and the rest of Ukraine, have undergone since the annexation. “They just struck me as a normal happy family,” the photographer says. “They just got caught up in the politics of bigotry.” As they make their new home in the capital, they’re thinking of opening up a new Qbar, which will have to deal with a lot more competition in Kiev’s vibrant gay scene. But this seems like a minor worry compared to the risks they faced in the new Sevastopol.

Read next: What the Vatican Really Said About Homosexuality

TIME Hong Kong

Claims of Police Brutality Threaten to Escalate the Hong Kong Protests

Police have been caught on video beating up a political activist

In a case that has shocked Hong Kong and inflamed tensions in a city now in its third week of mass pro-democracy protests, six police officers have been caught on video kicking and beating a prominent political activist.

The man allegedly assaulted was Civic Party member and social worker Ken Tsang, who was one of 45 people arrested early Wednesday as demonstrators attempted to throw up fresh barricades across a major thoroughfare leading to the main financial district.

(PHOTOS: See Inside Hong Kong’s Protests)

In the video, Tsang offers no resistance to police.

Mabel Au, local director at Amnesty International, said there was little doubt of “excessive force” after Tsang was filmed being “taken to a dark corner” and “kicked and beaten up by the police for four minutes” with hands secured behind his back. “We are very shocked and disappointed by such behavior,” she said.

Video of the attack has been repeatedly broadcast on local television news and the officers involved have been assigned to other duties.

A spokesman for Tsang told TIME the police’s actions were “clearly criminal” and reassignment was not enough. “They should be arrested,” he said.

A police statement early Wednesday expressed “concern” over the video and promised that the police would conduct an investigation “impartially.”

Trouble sparked shortly before 10 p.m. local time on Tuesday, when several dozen demonstrators stopped traffic at the Lung Wo Road tunnel, a key artery that runs by Hong Kong’s government headquarters and parallel to the main protest site.

After attempting to intervene, some 30 police officers became trapped in the tunnel, hemmed in by protesters on either side. Scuffles broke out and the police retreated.

Protesters then set about reinforcing defenses. Hollow median dividers were filled with water and steel railings intertwined with cable ties, car tires and plastic wrap. Concrete blocks were hauled out of the tunnel’s gutter and secured by steel wire to block the roadway. Meanwhile, hundreds gathered on the lawns of Tamar Park, beside the shimmering waters of Victoria Harbour.

Demonstrators also built a symbolic grave for the head of the city’s government, Chief Executive (CE) Leung Chun-ying, also known as “C.Y.” Protesters are demanding the 60-year-old resigns and his successor chosen by free elections in 2017. The central government in Beijing insists that it must screen all candidates first.

“Everyone wants C.Y. to step down, but if that’s all that happens the next [CE] will be just the same and nothing will change without first changing the political system,” says Angel, a 30-year-old protester.

An uneasy calm held over Lung Wo Road until around 3 a.m., when hundreds of police brandishing batons and pepper spray bore down to clear the area. Davis Matthews, 27, showed TIME video footage of an officer firing pepper spray into his face.

“I wasn’t protesting anything, or shouting, but just documenting what was going on,” he said. “It was like a military action. We made eye contact just before he sprayed me and he didn’t seem happy.”

Police and legislators insist the demonstrations are an issue of law and order, and that officers are simply reclaiming public roads. Supporters of the democracy movement insist the conflict—now the most politically significant protest in China since the Tiananmen occupation of 1989—can only be solved by dialogue.

“We are eager, we are happy to engage in dialogue, but they turn us down,” pro-democracy lawmaker Emily Lau told a Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents Club luncheon Tuesday. “The way out is for the government to have talks.”

However, the potential for meaningful negotiation is hindered by a lack of leadership. The democracy movement is comprised of a disparate collection of students, liberal politicians and activist groups—and protest actions, such as last night’s attempt to barricade Lung Wo Road, are happening spontaneously.

Alex Chow, leader of the Hong Kong Students’ Federation, admitted Wednesday that the previous evening’s foray “wasn’t the students” at all. “It was an action launched by people discussing it online … launched by the citizens,” he said.

Fred Choi, 35, a radio engineer speaking by the westernmost barricades on Lung Wo Road, told TIME “We are not [from any of the main political groups] but independents who care about democracy.”

On Thursday, Chief-Executive Leung—whose approval rating has dropped to an all-time low of 42%—is due to address the Legislative Council, but students have pledged to block his path, giving renewed potential for clashes with police.

Many ordinary citizens are becoming frustrated by the continued disruption caused by the protests. The city’s subway is at breaking point, as commuters try to find alternatives to taking motor transport through the protest areas. Retail businesses near the protests are also hard hit.

However, the video of police officers apparently assaulting a peaceful demonstrator will galvanize support for the protesters, who have planned a large demonstration outside the city’s police headquarters on Wednesday afternoon.

Kai Ming Wong, a 43-year-old engineer, tells TIME he couldn’t focus on work after hearing about the police violence. “It’s ridiculous,” he said. “How are we going to trust the police in the future? It’s never been like this in Hong Kong before.”

—With reporting by Per Liljas, David Stout, Elizabeth Barber and Helen Regan / Hong Kong

TIME Australia

These Are Some of the Most Australian Political Sound Bites Ever

Prime Minister Holds Joint Press Conference In Sydney
Prime Minister Tony Abbott speaks to the media at Sydney Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices on September 19, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. Mark Metcalfe—Getty Images

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has threatened to knock Vladimir Putin to the ground. Hey, that's just another day in Aussie political discourse

“Look, I’m going to shirt-front Mr. Putin … You bet I am. I am going to be saying to Mr. Putin, ‘Australians were murdered. They were murdered by Russian-backed rebels using Russian-supplied equipment. We are very unhappy about this.’”

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott isn’t exactly known for his oratory. But Russian President Vladimir Putin – and most Australians – were left scratching their heads over what exactly Abbott, who enjoyed a brief but successful stint as a heavyweight boxer, plans to do to the Russian leader’s shirt when he visits Australia for the G-20 meeting in Brisbane next month.

According to slangdictionary.org, shirt-fronting is a term from the Australian rules football code, and it happens when a player executes a “head-on charge aimed at bumping an opponent to the ground.” AFlrules.com.au adds that a shirt-front is “quite aggressive” and “illegal.”

Abbott’s comments were made in the context of increasingly loud calls to ban Putin from visiting Australia because of Russia’s apparent indifference to the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in July. Of the 298 passenger and crew who lost their lives in the disaster, 36 were Australian residents — making them the third largest group of nationals killed after the Dutch and Malaysians.

As a ninth-degree black-belt in taekwondo who could probably hold his own against Abbott, Putin did not dignify the Australian Prime Minister with a response.

While Abbott has since toned down his rhetoric, saying he simply plans to have a “robust conversation” with Putin, he is by no means the first Australian politician to put his foot in his mouth on the international stage. Products of a culture in which frankness is placed on a pedestal, spin-doctoring is despised and politics is sport, their propensity for speaking their mind is a large part of what endears them to the Australian public.

Here are some other famous gaffes uttered by Australian politicians over the years.

1. “The Chinese bastards”

“They’re communists, they shoot their own people, they haven’t got a justice system and they want to take over this country. I don’t mind standing up against the Chinese bastards and stopping them from doing it.” —Mining magnate and MP Clive Palmer during a live debate aired by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) in September.

2. “Swamped by Asians”

“I believe we are in danger of being swamped by Asians. Between 1984 and 1995, 40% of all migrants coming into this country were of Asian origin. They have their own culture and religion, form ghettos and do not assimilate. Of course, I will be called racist, but if I can invite whom I want into my home, then I should have the right to have a say in who comes into my country.” —Former MP Pauline Hanson delivering her maiden speech to parliament in 1996.

3. “Islam as a country”

“I don’t oppose Islam as a country, but I do feel that their laws should not be welcome here in Australia.” —Stephanie Banister, a candidate for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party, during a interview with Channel 7 in the lead up to Australia’s 2013 federal election.

4. “Put him down”

“The Leader of the Opposition is more to be pitied than despised, the poor old thing. The Liberal Party of Australia ought to put him down like a faithful old dog because he is of no use to it and of no use to the nation.” —Treasurer Paul Keating to Opposition Leader Andrew Peacock, 1984

5. “Walk to Bourke”

“I would walk to [the New South Wales town of] Bourke backwards if the gay population of North Queensland is any more than 0.001%.” —MP Bob Katter in 1989. Katter’s half brother Carl later came out as gay.

6. “A bum”

“Any boss who sacks anyone for not turning up today is a bum.” —Former Prime Minister Bob Hawke, following Australia’s victory in the 1983 America’s Cup.

TIME LGBT

U.S. Marine Suspected in Killing of Transgender Woman in Philippines

Friends and relatives of Filipino transgender resident Jeffrey Laude look on alongside his coffin and photograph in the northern Philippine city of Olongapo on Oct. 14, 2014.
Friends and relatives of Jeffrey Laude, a Filipino transgender woman who went by Jennifer, look at her coffin in the northern Philippine city of Olongapo on Oct. 14, 2014. Jay Directo—AFP/Getty Images

He's being held on a warship pending the investigation

A United States Marine suspected of killing a Filipina transgender woman he met in a local bar will remain in U.S. custody, officials said Tuesday.

The suspect, whom the military has not named because formal charges have not been filed, is assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. He is being held on the USS Peleliu warship while the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Philippine National Police conduct a joint investigation. Three other marines considered possible witnesses are also being held on the ship.

The strangled body of Jennifer Laude, 26, a Filipino national whose birth name is Jeffrey, was found shortly before midnight on Saturday, Oct. 11 at a hotel in Olongapo City, according to the Marine Corps Times. Her head had reportedly been pushed into the toilet and two used condoms were found in a trash can in the room. ABS CBN News, a Philippine news outlet, reported that Laude’s body was found less than an hour after she checked into the hotel with a male “foreigner” with “close-cropped” hair.

The suspect was in the Philippines for a longstanding joint military exercise between U.S. Marines and their Filipino counterparts that ended Oct. 10. Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, has ordered that the five ships and the marines to remain in port in the Philippines while the investigation is ongoing, according to spokesman Chuck Little. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki on Tuesday said the U.S. “will continue to cooperate with Philippine law enforcement authorities in every aspesect of the investigation.”

The case has provoked outrage among transgender activists in the Philippines and the U.S. and renewed criticism over a 1998 pact between the two nations that requires American service members to be held in U.S. custody during criminal proceedings. In 2006, an American soldier convicted of raping a Filipino woman by a local court stoked similar anger.

“The U.S. Navy says they are going to cooperate with national law, but they haven’t turned him over to the Philippine authorities,” says Geena Rocero, a Philippines native who founded the trans advocacy organization Gender Proud. “He is still inside the ship.”

TIME Soccer

Drone Invasion Halts Serbia-Albania Soccer Game

Mini drone carrying flag depicting so-called Greater Albania is flown over the pitch during their Euro 2016 Group I qualifying soccer match against Albania at the FK Partizan stadium in Belgrade
A mini drone carrying a flag depicting so-called Greater Albania, an area covering all parts of the Balkans where ethnic Albanians live, is flown over the pitch during their Euro 2016 Group I qualifying soccer match against Albania at the FK Partizan stadium in Belgrade on Oct. 14, 2014. Marko Djurica—Reuters

The two countries historically have had political tensions

Updated Wednesday, Oct. 15

Officials abandoned a soccer match between Serbia and Albania Tuesday after a drone carrying an Albanian banner was flown into the stadium, sparking brawls among players and fans.

The flag flown over the Euro 2016 qualifier game depicted Greater Albania, a conceptual state formed from all territories where ethnic Albanians live, according to Reuters. Yet many Serbs believe the region should still be united as Yugoslavia.

The banner, which was flown into the stadium near the end of the match’s first half, was soon pulled down by Serbia’s Stefan Mitrovic as punches were exchanged between players. Some fans started throwing garbage at the Albanian players.

Serbian officials on Wednesday accused Olsi Rama, the brother of Albania’s Prime Minister, of flying the drone above the field and causing the disruption, and authorities in Belgrade have arrested him, RTS reports. However, AFP reports that a source close to Rama said he had not been arrested in Belgrade.

The atmosphere was politically charged even before the match began, Fox Sports reports. The two countries have had a tense relationship since the conflict around Kosovo, the predominantly ethnically Albanian province of Serbia that was declared independent in 2008.

Serbia did not acknowledge the independence, and mediations under the European Union in 2013 led to Serbia abolishing nearly all of its political institutions in Kosovo. The game, held in the Serbian capital of Belgrade, was also Albania’s first match in the country since 1967, according to the Union of European Football Associations.

The game was abandoned after 45 minutes of unrest. The score was 0-0.

[Fox Sports]

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