TIME isis

Watch This Hollywood Actor Explain Why He’s Fighting ISIS

Michael Enright swapped celebrity parties for combat gear in Syria

Actor Michael Enright, 51, left Hollywood more than two months ago to join the Kurdish troops fighting the militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS). Rather than mingling with A-list celebrities, the actor now sleeps on the floor in his uniform in northern Syria.

“ISIS need to be wiped completely off the face of this Earth…This is a call to humanity to obliterate them,” says the British actor, who moved to the U.S. at the age of 19. He has acted in films like Pirates of the Caribbean, Old Dogs, Knight And Day and the TV action series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

According to the Daily Mail, Enright first wanted to join the war against terror after 9/11, but friends talked him out of enlisting in the U.S. army back then.

But in January, after seeing the ISIS video of Jordanian pilot Muath Al-Kassasbeh being burned to death, Enright was motivated to leave for Syria. He did not tell his friends or family of his plans in case airport authorities tried to prevent him.

Enright joined the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the Sinjar region of northern Syria. He had no military training beforehand, but received some basic training and drills with the YPG, with whom he is still fighting.

“I came to suffer, I didn’t come here for a party,” he says. “So I’m okay, I’m ready to go.”

TIME India

The Death Toll From India’s Hellish Heat Wave Is Now More Than 1,800

India Heatwave
Bikas Das—AP A rickshaw puller rests on a hot summer day in Kolkata, India on May 27, 2015.

The elderly, the homeless and those forced to go out and work in the blazing sun are most at risk from the extreme conditions

Ratna Devi is one of a dozen casual laborers working at a small construction site in the southern part of the Indian capital New Delhi, where her job is to help prepare a concrete mix. The work earns the 32-year-old a daily wage of 250 rupees or just under $4 — money that she uses to support her 7-year-old daughter. On Wednesday afternoon, as Devi went about her work on the site, her daughter fainted while playing nearby. The cause? A searing heatwave that has kept the maximum daytime temperature in the Indian capital above 100°F (40°C) for over a week now.

On Wednesday, the mercury topped out at 111.2°F (44°C). On Thursday, with temperatures hovering around 109.4°Fahrenheit (43°Celsius), Devi was back at work and her girl was once again playing near the site. For days now, authorities have been calling on people to avoid going out during the afternoon, when the heat wave is at its most extreme. But Devi simply can’t afford to stay indoors. “I can’t leave her alone because there is nobody to look after her,” Devi says. “I’m a single mother — I can’t stop working even for a single day.”

Forced to work under the blazing sun, construction workers like Devi, along with the homeless and the elderly, have been the hardest hit by the heatwave that so far has led to over 1,800 deaths, the vast majority of them concentrated in the southeastern Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Together, those states account for over 1,750 deaths. Deaths have also been reported in Delhi and other states, including Gujarat and Odisha, where temperatures earlier this week peaked at a sweltering 116.6°F (47°C). The heat is so severe that, on Tuesday morning, a local newspaper in the capital carried on its front page a picture of a pedestrian crossing on a main thoroughfare that had been disfigured, with its white stripes curled up, as the asphalt melted.

Already, hospitals in Delhi are “overflowing with heatstroke victims,” Ajay Lekhi, the head of the city’s medical association, told the news agency Agence France-Presse. “Patients are complaining of severe headache and dizziness. They are also showing symptoms of delirium,” he said.

Though the death toll so far this year is higher than that seen in 2014, India has witnessed severe heat waves in the past. In 2003, a heath wave led to 3,000 deaths in Andhra Pradesh. A similar number died in the same southeastern state in 2010, according to figures from state officials cited by the Wall Street Journal. The actual number could be higher, given the disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable.

Climate change has played a part in making heat waves in India more frequent and more severe, according to the country’s National Disaster Management Authority. It’s a point echoed in a report last year from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which said that “higher daily peak temperatures and longer, more intense heat waves are becoming increasingly frequent in South Asia as a result of climate change.”

“Records indicate that it is likely that the numbers of cold days and nights have decreased and the numbers of warm days and nights have increased across most of Asia since about 1950,” the IPCC reported said. “Heat wave frequency has increased since the middle of the 20th century in large parts of Asia.”

Meanwhile, with temperatures remaining high, power cuts are becoming more frequent, as the constant running of air conditioners strains the grid. In Gurgaon, for example, at satellite city just outside Delhi, residents were hit by outages lasting as long as 24 hours earlier this year, according to the local Indian Express newspaper.

The extreme conditions are expected to persist for several more days, as the country awaits the arrival of the annual monsoon rains, forecast this year to hit India’s southwestern coast at the end of the month. But even after the rains hit the Indian mainland, it will take weeks for them to spread out across the country and bring relief to the dry plains and other parts of the subcontinent.

The longer it takes, the more likely it is extract a heavier toll from the most vulnerable. “Summers are generally hot in the city but this year it is very hard for me to work in the heat,” says Devnandan Saha, a 52-year-old laborer in the capital, who was helping lay the foundations at a larger construction site up the road from where Devi was mixing concrete on Thursday afternoon. “But I have to work every day because the contractor refuses to grant even a day’s leave.”


Rifle Linked to 7 Unsolved Murders Found on Display in London Museum

A man walks his dog past the newly re-opened Imperial War Museum in central London
Suzanne Plunkett —Reuters A man walks his dog past the newly re-opened Imperial War Museum in central London on July 16, 2014.

Authorities originally told relatives of victims that the weapon had been disposed of

An assault rifle tied to at least seven unsolved murders has been discovered on public display at the British Imperial War Museum in London, reports the BBC.

British investigators re-examining a plethora of paramilitary murders committed in Northern Ireland tracked down the VZ58 rifle to an exhibition at the museum dedicated to the period of ethnonationalist conflict in the region, commonly referred to as the Troubles.

A forensic examination conducted nearly two decades ago proved that the rifle was one of two weapons used in an attack on a Belfast betting shop in 1992. The weapon was also linked to the unsolved murders of two men in 1988, among other cases.

“I am absolutely shocked,” Billy McManus, whose father was murdered during the betting shop incident, told the BBC. “What does that say about their treatment of the case? They just don’t care.”

Authorities had originally told family members that the rifle had been “disposed of.”

Representatives from the museum said they received the gun from the Royal Ulster Constabulary Weapons and Explosives Research Center and were only told the weapon had been used during unspecified “events.”

Museum officials are reportedly working in tandem with internal investigators to see if any of other firearms in their collection might have also been tied to murder cases.


TIME Ecuador

This Picture Sums Up the Dire Threat Faced by the World’s Shark Populations

This photo released by Ecuador's Attorney General, shows hundreds of shark fins seized by the police in Manta, Ecuador, Wednesday, May 27, 2015.
Ecuador's Attorney General—AP This photo released by Ecuador's Attorney General, shows hundreds of shark fins seized by the police in Manta, Ecuador, on May 27, 2015

Hundreds of fins lie piled up in Ecuador, part of a massive haul originally bound for Asia

It’s a shocking image, but it only represents a fraction of the 200,000 shark fins seized Thursday by Ecuadorian police. They were about to be illegally exported to Asia.

The haul was uncovered in the port city of Manta, southwest of the capital Quito, and would have fetched up to $2 million had it reached its final market, reports the BBC.

Police raided nine locations and arrested six people, including a Chinese national, on charges of damaging wildlife.

The South American country’s Interior Minister José Serrano said authorities had “dealt a major blow to an international network that trafficked shark fins.”

The fins are often used to make shark-fin soup, considered a delicacy in most of China. But heavy demand from China’s increasingly affluent population, and brutal finning methods, have led to a decline in shark numbers and many countries have either outright banned finning or have heavily regulated the shark-fishing industry.

A tweet from what appeared to be Serrano’s Twitter account showed what looked like several photos of the grim haul, accompanied by a demand to put an end to criminal networks destroying the ecosystem.


TIME India

See Images of Indians Trying to Cope With the Country’s Deadly Heat Wave

Temperatures are as high as 117 degrees Fahrenheit

More than 1,800 people have died as a severe heat wave persists across India.

The southeastern state of Andhra Pradesh has been the worst affected, with more than 1,300 people succumbing to the blistering heat that has driven temperatures as high as 117 degrees fahrenheit (47 degrees Celsius) in parts of the country.

“Our wards are completely full,” J V Subbarao, medical officer at the Rajiv Gandhi Institute for Medical Sciences in Andhra Pradesh, told the AFP news agency. “I have worked as a medical officer in this district for 40 years and I have never seen anything like this, with so many people arriving already dead.”

As the death toll rises, the country is bracing itself for a continuation of the extreme conditions, with forecasters expecting temperatures to remain high for several more days. In the meantime, ordinary people must try and keep cool in any way they can.

TIME Soccer

Top Soccer Officials Say FIFA Needs a New Leader

The tide appears to be turning against Sepp Blatter as officials back his rival in elections being held for FIFA's top job

FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s 17-year reign as the strongman of soccer’s international governing body may be coming to an end soon, as authorities from across the sporting world continue to call for his resignation hours before officials cast their ballots in the federation’s presidential election in Zurich on Friday.

Blatter’s reputation has taken an absolute pounding in the past 48 hours, after the U.S. Justice Department unveiled an unprecedented corruption probe into the organization on Wednesday that has lead to the indictment of 14 of the association’s current and former executives, including nine senior officials.

As the investigation continues to make international headlines, public figures worldwide and civil society groups, from the likes of British Prime Minister David Cameron to Transparency International, have called on Blatter to step down.

Meanwhile, top international soccer officials appear be rallying around Blatter’s chief rival, Prince Ali bin Hussein, ahead of Friday’s vote.

“Sincerely, as someone who loves FIFA and its history, I am sickened, and I am vexed,” UEFA president Michel Platini told reporters on Thursday. “People don’t want [Blatter] any more as FIFA president, and I don’t want him any more either.”

The UEFA chief’s comments came as U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati stated publicly during a press conference on Thursday that he would be casting his vote for Jordan’s Prince Ali.

“If you get good governance and good leadership, you make good decisions, and those good decisions will lead to the right outcomes,” Gulati told reporters. “So for us, this is a vote for good governance.”

Victor Montagliani, president of the Canadian Soccer Association, also came out this week in support of Prince Ali.

“The game deserves better. Period,” said Montagliani.

Despite the litany of voices calling for his resignation, Blatter appeared undeterred.

During a speech at the opening ceremony of FIFA’s 65th Congress in Switzerland on Thursday, Blatter tried to distance himself from the constellation of corruption allegations leveled at the federation.

“We cannot monitor everyone all of the time. If people want to do wrong, they will also try to hide it,” said Blatter.

The FIFA president went on to stress that the U.S.- and Swiss-lead investigations would be a “turning point” that would help clean up soccer’s ranks.

“More needs to be done to make sure everyone in football behaves responsibly and ethically — everywhere,” said Blatter. “Tomorrow, we have the opportunity to begin on what will be a long and difficult road to rebuilding trust.”

TIME Transportation

Setback for Uber as South Korea Bans Private Taxis

The Uber Technologies Inc. application and logo are displayed on an Apple Inc. iPhone 5s and iPad Air in this arranged photograph in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg via Getty Images The Uber Technologies Inc. application and logo are displayed on an Apple Inc. iPhone 5s and iPad Air in this arranged photograph in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.

It's the first country to introduce a nationwide prohibition

In a largely symbolic move that appears to be aimed directly at Uber’s cheap UberX service, South Korea passed legislation on Friday banning unlicensed drivers from providing taxi services — becoming the first country to institute a nationwide prohibition of the practice.

According to Reuters, the bill is a blanket ban on private taxi services but lawmakers who pushed the bill did so citing UberX, a service that matches commuters with individuals using their personal cars as a taxi.

Uber already pulled UberX out of Seoul in March because of backlash from the taxi industry and local authorities. But the company still maintains a presence via UberTaxi (matching passengers with licensed drivers) and UberBLACK (which can be used by the disabled, elderly and foreigners).


TIME Sports

U.S. Soccer Will Vote Against Sepp Blatter in FIFA Ballot

Sepp Blatter's sole rival is Jordan's Prince Ali Bin Hussein

The United States will not favor another term for FIFA President Sepp Blatter during Friday’s election, the president of U.S. Soccer acknowledged Thursday, instead casting a ballot for the embattled incumbent’s sole rival after seven top executives were arrested this week on corruption charges.

Sunil Gulati told the New York Times in an interview that the U.S. delegate would vote for Jordan’s Prince Ali Bin Hussein, who is not expected to succeed in the vote involving 209 member nations. Gulati said he made the decision to vote against Blatter months ago, but this week’s arrests confirmed his decision.

“Would I like to see the United States host a World Cup in the future?” he asked. “The answer is, of course, yes. But for me, and for U.S. soccer, better governance and more integrity at Concacaf and FIFA are far more important than hosting any international soccer tournament.”

[New York Times]

Read next: Meet the Prince Who Wants to Save Soccer

TIME Military

How Disbanding the Iraqi Army Fueled ISIS

MOHAMMED SAWAF / AFP / Getty Images Iraqi Shiite fighters battle Sunni Islamic State militants north of Baghdad May 26.

The U.S. decision 12 years ago has provided the enemy with some of its best commanders and fighters

After nearly a year of air strikes led by the U.S. and ground attacks by the U.S.-trained Iraqi army, the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) is proving to be a far more cagey and cunning foe than the Pentagon ever expected. A big reason for its success is the George W. Bush Administration’s decision to disband the Iraqi army shortly after the 2003 invasion—without the knowledge or consent of either the Pentagon or President.

It’s a jarring reminder of how a key decision made long ago is complicating U.S. efforts to fight ISIS and restore some semblance of stability to Iraq. Instead of giving Iraq a fresh start with a new army, it helped create a vacuum that ISIS has filled. Anthony Zinni, a retired Marine general and chief of U.S. Central Command from 1997 to 2000, said keeping the Iraqi army intact was always part of U.S. strategy. “The plan was that the army would be the foundation of rebuilding the Iraqi military,” he says. “Many of the Sunnis who were chased out ended up on the other side and are probably ISIS fighters and leaders now.” One expert estimates that more than 25 of ISIS’s top 40 leaders once served in the Iraqi military.

General Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, says the U.S. could have weeded Saddam Hussein’s loyalists from the Iraqi army while keeping its structure, and the bulk of its forces, in place. “We could have done a lot better job of sorting through that and keeping the Iraqi army together,” he told TIME on Thursday. “We struggled for years to try to put it back together again.”

The decision to dissolve the Iraqi army robbed Baghdad’s post-invasion military of some of its best commanders and troops. Combined with sectarian strains that persist 12 years later, it also drove many of the suddenly out-of-work Sunni warriors into alliances with a Sunni insurgency that would eventually mutate into ISIS. Many former Iraqi military officers and troops, trained under Saddam, have spent the last 12 years in Anbar Province battling both U.S. troops and Baghdad’s Shi’ite-dominated security forces, Pentagon officials say.

“Not reorganizing the army and police immediately were huge strategic mistakes,” said Jack Keane, a retired Army vice chief of staff and architect of the “surge” of 30,000 additional U.S. troops into Iraq in 2007. “We began to slowly put together a security force, but it took far too much time and that gave the insurgency an ability to start to rise.”

The U.S.-ordered dissolution of the Iraqi army was a major error. But it was compounded by former Shi’ite Prime Minister Nouri al-Malaki’s wholesale firing of Sunni commanders in favor of more compliant, if less competent, Shi’ites during his 2006-2014 tenure. That turned what was supposed to have been a national army into little more than a sectarian militia that took orders from the Prime Minister’s inner circle. “Malaki went into that army and pulled out all of its distinguished leaders, whose guys were devoted to them, and put in these cronies and hacks,” Keane said. “And those guys pocketed the money that was supposed to be used for training.”

So how did the Iraqi army come to dissolve? The Bush Administration tapped Paul Bremer to head the so-called Coalition Provisional Authority on May 11, 2003. Twelve days later, he issued an order wiping away the Iraqi military, with a pledge to build a new one from scratch, untainted by any ties to Saddam’s regime. The army’s end quickly led to civil unrest, a growing insurgency and a U.S. occupation that would last eight years and cost the lives of 4,491 American troops.

Things would have been different if the Iraqi army had been scrubbed of Hussein’s loyalists, but otherwise permitted to exist, military officers believe. “I think it would have caused us to spend less time in Iraq—I think we would have been to leave a lot sooner than we were,” said Odierno, who commanded forces in Iraq during three tours between 2003 and 2010. “I think it would have given a better chance for Iraqis to come together.”

Bremer’s decision to disband the Iraqi army has been shrouded in mystery. James Pfiffner, a professor of public policy at George Mason University and an Army veteran who served in Vietnam, conducted one of the most detailed autopsies into the decision. “President Bush had agreed with military planners that the Army was essential for the internal and external security of the country,” Pfiffner wrote in the professional journal Intelligence and National Security in 2010. “When asked in 2006 by his biographer…about the decision, Bush replied ‘Well, the policy was to keep the army intact. Didn’t happen’.” Pfiffner suggests the decision made by Bremer actually came from Vice President Dick Cheney. (“It may have been a mistake,” Cheney said in 2011 without confirming it was his decision.)

Over the past year, ISIS has seized hundreds of U.S.-built Iraqi military vehicles given to Baghdad by the U.S. government. But history shows that the U.S., beyond providing ISIS with war machines, also made a fateful decision that gave ISIS some of its best commanders and fighters.

TIME Sports

Meet the Prince Who Wants to Save Soccer

Prince Ali Bin Hussein of Jordan is giving embattled FIFA President Sepp Blatter a run for his money ahead of Friday's vote

With FIFA’s 209 members set to vote Friday in Zurich on who should run the scandal-ridden global soccer authority, the prospect of ending the 17-year rule of FIFA President Sepp Blatter rests on just one unlikely person: A soft-spoken royal half his age, who has never played professional soccer or managed a FIFA club, and who was still a student at Princeton University when Blatter began his first term in office.

Jordan’s Prince Ali Bin Hussein, 39, looked a long shot to deprive Blatter of a fifth term atop FIFA when he launched his campaign in January, saying he wanted to end decades of endemic corruption within FIFA and turn it into “a first-class organization that is worthy of a sport that unites billions of people around the globe.”

Prince Ali still faces an uphill battle in Friday’s vote, despite the arrests of seven top FIFA executives on Wednesday on charges of money laundering and racketeering. In a day that left FIFA and the soccer world in turmoil, police stormed the officials’ five-star hotel rooms in Zurich before dawn, just as the U.S. unsealed indictments against them and seven others—and as Swiss police raided FIFA headquarters in the city. The U.S. charges detail decades of kickbacks and bribes worth some $150 million, while the Swiss investigation concerns suspected bribes around the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosting rights, awarded to Russia and Qatar, respectively.

Despite the volcanic events at FIFA this week, Blatter made it clear on Thursday that he had no intention of resigning, and in fact looks set to win another four-year term. That is in large part because of a voting system that heavily favors Blatter—in fact, this is the first time since 2002 that anyone has challenged him for the seat. Each member-country has an equal vote in the FIFA presidential election, whether they are sporting giants like the U.S. or Brazil, or one of the dozens of poor, soccer-addicted nations to which FIFA dispenses millions for sporting facilities; Africa, for example, has 54 votes, and most of its members are expected to back Blatter. “People are always trying to knock Blatter,” Guinea Bissau’s soccer chief Nascimento Lopes told Inside World Football on Thursday. Labeling the opposition against Blatter “blasphemy,” he asserted, “Africa will vote for Mr. Blatter and I will follow that.”

Yet despite Blatter’s probable victory, Prince Ali has in some ways already won big. Through four months’ campaigning, the former parachutist in the Jordanian military has shifted perceptions about what kind of leader FIFA might have—if not, perhaps, as a result of Friday’s vote. (On Thursday, the president of U.S. Soccer acknowledged America’s delegate would cast a ballot for the royal, not Blatter.)

Prince Ali’s election manifesto—an unknown concept for FIFA—promises to transform FIFA into “a service organization and a clear leader in good governance” and to plow its mammoth profits into improving soccer organizations in the neediest countries. That includes quadrupling the annual funds that FIFA dispenses to each of its member associations, from $250,000 to $1 million, an easily affordable sum for the organization, whose financial statement released earlier this month showed its revenues between 2011 and 2014 totaled about $5.7 billion.

His proposals for FIFA entail a drastic shake-up in its management practices, including regular and open accounting of its finances, and he argues that he has the credentials to oversee it.

Born in 1975, Prince Ali is the son of Jordan’s late King Hussein and the younger brother of its current King Abdullah. Like many royals from the Middle East, he attended Britain’s Sandhurst Military Academy before Princeton. In 2004, he married a former CNN correspondent, Rym Brahimi, and the couple has two children. He has served as president of Jordan’s Football Association for 16 years, and for the past four years has been one of FIFA’s seven Vice Presidents; two other FIFA veeps were among those arrested Wednesday. He has also been a member of FIFA’s executive committee for the past four years, although he says he will abandon that position if Blatter is elected a fifth term. “I honestly believe I could not be a member of the executive committee under the circumstances for the next four years,” he told CNN in March. “I will not run.”

Throughout his campaign, Prince Ali has appeared unafraid to make enemies—and enemies he has made. He clashed earlier this month in Bahrain, with that country’s Shaikh Salman, who is a close Blatter ally and who heads the Asian Football Confederation. A day before Wednesday’s arrests, he revealed that back in April an unnamed person offered to deliver 47 votes for him in Friday’s ballot—for a price—and to disclose details of Blatter’s personal finances, which had apparently been illegally obtained. Rather than seize on a possible advantage in the vote, Prince Ali reported the incident to law enforcement officials.

All of that has gained Prince Ali powerful fans. Last week, the Dutch football federation president Michael Van Praag and the Portuguese football star Luís Figo both dropped their bids to be voted FIFA president, saying they were throwing their efforts behind Prince Ali instead, in what seemed designed as a strategic move to unseat Blatter. On Thursday, the football federations of Australia, Wales and Britain all said they would vote for Prince Ali.

Michel Platini, president of Europe’s powerful football federation UEFA—which does not have a vote but whose high-performing members have considerable prestige with FIFA—also backed Prince Ali. “He knows perfectly the workings of the institutions but has not yet had time to be crushed or deformed by them,” Platini told the French sports paper L’Equipe. “He has great freedom of mind and independence that make its strength.” That spirit might well have infected some of FIFA now, even if Prince Ali loses on Friday, which looks likely. Once this week’s tumultuous events have passed, UEFA and others will consider their options—including perhaps boycotting FIFA events, a decision that could leave this multibillion-dollar empire atop a Zurich hillside severely battered.

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