TIME Philippines

Mighty Typhoon Barrels Straight Toward the Philippines

At least 600,000 people have already evacuated their homes

A destructive typhoon with sustained winds of 109 miles-per-hour caused thousands to flee for safety, as it churned its way Saturday toward the Philippines, a country that was ravaged by Typhoon Haiyan a little more than a year ago.

The new storm, Typhoon Hagupit, has already forced at least 600,000 people to evacuate their homes, the Associated Press reported. With gusts up to 130 miles-per-hour and rain clouds that stretch for more than 370 miles, the storm is not expected to be as devastating as Haiyan, but could still cause heavy damage in the country. Downed trees and power outages were already being reported early Saturday before the typhoon made landfall Saturday night.


TIME Terrorism

U.S. Hostage Killed During Failed Rescue Attempt in Yemen

Luke Somers killed in failed rescue attempt
Yahya Arhab—EPA A file photograph made available Dec. 4 shows Luke Somers, a 33-year-old British born US journalist who was kidnapped by al-Qaeda's Yemen affiliate and was reportedly killed in failed rescue attempt.

Al Qaeda captors had threatened to kill him

U.S. hostage Luke Somers, held by an al Qaeda offshoot in Yemen for more than a year, was killed late Friday amid a U.S. rescue mission.

“There were compelling reasons to believe Mr. Somers’ life was in imminent danger,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said. “Both Mr. Somers and a second non-U.S. citizen hostage were murdered by the al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula terrorists during the course of the operation.” The second victim was South African teacher Pierre Korkie.

President Obama issued a statement saying he’d authorized the rescue attempt after the terrorists holding him “announced Luke would be killed within 72 hours” on Wednesday.

“I’m looking for any help that can get me out of this situation,” Somers said in a video posted by his captors on YouTube the same day. “I’m certain that my life is in danger. So as I sit here now, I ask if there’s anything that can be done, please let it be done.”

The rescue raid, conducted by U.S. Special Forces, was the second acknowledged attempt to rescue Somers. Following the first attempt Nov. 25, Somers’ captors had said he would kill him if certain “well known” actions were not taken, and warned a second rescue attempt would lead to his death.

Hagel gave few additional details about the mission, other than to say it took place in central Yemen, “in partnership” with the Yemeni government.

Lucy Somers, Luke’s sister, told the Associated Press that the FBI told her of her brother’s fate. “We ask that all of Luke’s family members be allowed to mourn in peace,” she said.

Before the failed raid, the White House denied any suggestion that it had delayed the original rescue attempt to debate its risks. One hostage rescued in that mission said Somers had been moved from the initial raid site shortly before the rescue attempt took place.

Somers, a 33-year old freelance reporter, had been kidnapped in the Yemeni capital of Sana 15 months ago.

Hagel said “several” AQAP terrorists were killed in Friday’s effort. Seven of them were killed in the first raid.

TIME Libya

ISIS-linked Camps in Libya Fan Concerns About Growing Militant Threat

Libya Derna's Islamic Youth Council ISIS
Reuters An armed motorcade belonging to members of Darna's Islamic Youth Council, which pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, drive along a road in Derna, eastern Libya, Oct. 3, 2014.

With the elected government struggling to enforce its writ in the north African country, a top U.S. general has confirmed the presence of ISIS training camps in eastern Libya

When the commander of U.S. armed forces in Africa confirmed the presence of what he described as training camps linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) in Libya this week, he threw a spotlight on a growing source of anxiety in the Middle East: namely the erosion of the Libyan state and its consequences for both Libyans and the wider region as militants fill the vacuum.

General David M. Rodriguez’s remarks followed the news earlier this year that a local militant group called the Islamic Youth Shura Council had declared its allegiance to ISIS’s self-proclaimed state in Iraq and Syria. The group operates in eastern Libya, which is where the American general said ISIS had “begun its efforts.”

When asked about the possibility of ISIS also moving into western Libya, Gen. Rodriguez said, “We’re continuing to watch that. But most of it is over in the east right now.” ISIS’s activities in eastern Libya, he added, were “mainly about people coming for training and logistics support right now.” “As for as a huge command-and-control network, I’ve not seen that yet.”

Although Gen. Rodriguez did not name the Shura Council, Issandr El Amrani, the head of the North African Project at the non-profit International Crisis Group, says he understood the remarks as a reference to the group. “That’s the only group we know of that has publicly made such an allegiance.”

Based in the eastern town of Derna, the group emerged as Libyan state institutions unravelled amid the ongoing conflict between the country’s elected government and Islamist militias, who have seized the capital Tripoli and proclaimed their own rival administration. More than three years after a NATO-backed uprising toppled the dictator Muammar Gaddafi, the country’s elected representatives have been forced to flee to the small port city of Tobruk.

With pro-government forces focusing on fighting the Islamist militias in Tripoli and the eastern city of Benghazi, much of the rest of the country has come under the control of a patchwork of other militias of various sizes and ideologies. In Derna, the Shura Council and other militants have been terrorizing the local population, carrying out at least three summary executions and ten public beatings in recent months, according to Human Rights Watch. In August, the Shura Council is reported to have overseen the public execution of an Egyptian man accused of murder, while more recently, eight men caught drinking alcohol were said to have been publicly flogged in a Derna square in late October.

“The real danger that the international community is concerned about is where does this lead over time?” says El Amrani. “How do places like Derna and the deep south look in five years time? Are these going to be hubs not just for Libyan radicals but for radicals from across the region?”

For now, though, the militants in towns like Derna operate on relatively small scale, according to El Amrani. “Generally speaking, this is people who have a few pickup trucks and guns on them and not much more than that, and there’s such a power vacuum that they’re able to do what they want sometimes,” he says.

There are, as a result, questions about the level of the Shura Council’s control over Derna, which was long a center of political resistance and virtually disregarded under the Gaddafi regime, with no representation in Tripoli. Some observers have also characterized the group’s pledge of allegiance to ISIS as little more than a bid to raise its profile.

But it’s existence serves to underline the growing chaos inside Libya. “It’s very divided on the ground,” adds El Amrani. “The local police force and state authority is so weak that they’re not really able to stop them from coming in and stop them from shooting people and holding executions.”

TIME conflict

American Teacher’s Family Reels After Abu Dhabi Killing

American schoolteacher Ibolya Ryan who was killed in a stabbing attack in the restroom of the Boutik Mall on the upscale Reem Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Footprints Recruiting /AP American schoolteacher Ibolya Ryan who was killed in a stabbing attack in the restroom of the Boutik Mall on the upscale Reem Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

"We are in shock"

The mother of an American teacher killed in Abu Dhabi has not been told the truth about her daughter’s death, a relative said Friday. Ibolya Ryan’s mother, who lives in Romania, was told she died in a car crash to spare her the gruesome details of Monday’s mall stabbing, sister-in-law Irina Balazsi told NBC News. Balazsi said Ryan’s brother, who is ill, was not even told she is dead. “We are in shock,” Balazsi said.

Ryan, 47, was born in Romania but was a United States citizen. She had taught in three other countries over the last 15 years before going to the United Arab Emirates with her 11-year-old sons in September 2013…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME russia

Putin’s Tigers Go On Killing Spree in China

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, left, looks at the tranquilized five-year-old Ussuri tiger as researchers put a collar with a satellite tracker on the animal in a Russian Academy of Sciences reserve in Russia's Far East on Aug. 31, 2008.
Alexei Druzhinin—AP Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, left, looks at the tranquilized five-year-old Ussuri tiger as researchers put a collar with a satellite tracker on the animal in a Russian Academy of Sciences reserve in Russia's Far East on Aug. 31, 2008.

Another border incursion from Russia

Russia’s latest border incursion has farmers on edge in northeastern China, where the authorities have banned them from climbing, hiking and collecting wood in a mountainous area where the two nations meet.

The border has been breached by two large Siberian tigers that were personally released into the wild with much fanfare by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Both appear to have an appetite for Chinese food: One of the duo, called Ustin, went on a killing spree earlier this week, leaving 15 Chinese goats dead. Three more are missing.

Its partner in crime, Kuzya, crossed the border a month earlier…

Read more from our partners at NBC News

TIME Military

Missing In Action: Hagel Skips His Replacement’s Announcement

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP / Getty Images President Obama congratulates Ashton Carter after announcing his intention to nominate him to be the next defense secretary Friday.

His absence from White House ceremony highlights transition woes

Army Sergeant Chuck Hagel knew how to toss a hand grenade when he served in Vietnam in 1968. Friday he made clear he still knows how to do it, declining to attend the White House nomination announcement of his successor, Ashton Carter, after the Administration had let it be known he’d be there.

It’s the latest in a string of snafus that has marred the transition between President Obama’s third and fourth Defense secretaries.

In a nation engaged in combat in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, such theatrics might be viewed by outsiders as mere distraction. But inside the Pentagon—and in ruling circles around the world—such drama is often seen as a national-security team fumbling the ball. If they can’t handle a handoff, the thinking goes, how can they run a war?

Perhaps Hagel felt that putting him on stage Friday alongside the President and Carter would only have highlighted the problem. Pentagon officials said Hagel didn’t want to shift attention from Carter’s debut alongside the President.

But the President dragged Hagel into the announcement, anyway. “A year ago, when Ash Carter completed his tenure as deputy secretary of defense, Secretary Hagel took to the podium in Ash’s farewell ceremony and looked out at the audience of our civilian and military leaders, and he said, ‘I’ve known Ash Carter for many years. All of us here today have benefited from Ash’s hard work, his friendship, from his inspiration, from his leadership.’ And Chuck then went on to express his gratitude to his partner for ‘what Ash has done for this country and will continue to do in many ways.’”

“Couldn’t have said it better myself,” Obama added.

Hagel actually may have turned gun shy following his Thursday press conference at the Pentagon, where he rolled out the Defense Department’s latest sexual-assault report. After working for a year to reduce sexual assaults in the military—and actually having some good news to share on the subject—reporters only asked him about his impending departure, and the reasons for it.

Both Hagel and Obama have stressed that each felt it was simply time for a change. But White House officials made clear they were unhappy with his performance, which has driven Hagel loyalists bonkers. “This was a mutual decision based on the discussions that we had,” Hagel said Thursday of their discussions. “I don’t think there’s ever one overriding or defining decision in situations like this, unless there’s some obvious issue, and there wasn’t between either one of us.”

Yet Hagel put Obama in a tough spot by submitting his resignation Nov. 24, as soon as it became clear he had lost the President’s confidence. That put the White House in the awkward spot of hailing Hagel’s impending departure amid wartime without his replacement standing alongside.

So perhaps it was only fitting 11 days later—after background investigations into Carter finally wrapped up—that Hagel was the missing man this time around.

DoD Photo / Petty Officer 2nd Class Sean HurtDefense Secretary Chuck Hagel releases the latest Pentagon sexual-assault report Thursday.
TIME portfolio

The Best Pictures of the Week: Nov. 28 – Dec. 5.

From ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s acquittal to protests over Eric Garner’s chokehold death verdict and the launch of NASA’s unmanned exploration spacecraft Orion to the White House’s Christmas decorations, TIME presents the best pictures of the week.

TIME portfolio

Face to Face with Europe’s Military Cadets

Paolo Verzone's newest book saw him travel to 20 military academies from Portugal to Spain over five years to photograph cadets.

One of the most striking things, Paolo Verzone says, about photographing military cadets is that they really know how to pose. In fact, they are so good at it that sometimes, when he was taking their pictures, he wondered if they would ever stop.

“They are able to stay still for four seconds without moving,” Verzone adds. “That’s a long time, and it was pretty amazing. I actually had to light them less, it was my secret photographic weapon.”

It’s understandable, he continues, because from very early on in their careers many are trained to remain still during drills. Military personnel make even more capable subjects than models, apparently. Who knew?

This discovery came as Verzone was working on his newest book Cadets. The project stemmed from a short assignment for an Italian magazine in 2009 (for which he was sent to photograph French military personnel), and saw him travel to 20 military academies from Portugal to Spain over five years. The aim? To understand the military “soul” of European countries.

“I wanted to see these places, the [military bases] in these countries, many of which were once fighting against each other,” Verzone says.

It wasn’t always easy: Not every military academy replied to his requests. And even when they did, it took a long time for him, as a civilian, to get permission to go inside. And even then he was rarely left alone. But it was something he wouldn’t give up on.

“I wanted to see who these young people are. To go beyond the idea of the one who gets in the army and stays there for life,” he says. “Now, military academies are very different places; you can get a complete degree, and then, for many, you can get out. Times are changing.”

Paolo Verzone is a Paris-based photographer who has been published in TIME, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, The Independent, and The Guardian among others. Cadets is available now.

Richard Conway is reporter/producer for TIME LightBox.

Paul Moakley, who edited this photo essay, is TIME’s Deputy Director of Photography and Visual Enterprise.

TIME China

China Sets Deadline to Stop Taking Organs From Executed Prisoners

Starting next month, China will end its ethically unsettling reliance on transplant organs culled from its condemned prisoners, state media said

China will no longer harvest transplant organs from executed prisoners from the start of 2015, a decision praised as ethical but which renews questions about where the world’s most populous nation will find much needed organs.

State-run newspaper China Daily says the Chinese government will end the globally criticized practice of taking organs from its condemned population by Jan. 1.

China is the only country to as a rule take organs from executed people, a practice that has led to allegations that prisoners and their families are coerced into signing off on the donations and that demand for more organs could translate into more death sentences.

China carefully guards the number of people it executes as a state secret, but U.S.-based human-rights group Dui Hua estimates that the Chinese state killed about 2,400 people last year, an enormous drop from around 12,000 people in 2002 and marking a continuous decline in executions over the past decade.

Chinese supplies of transplant organs are far short of the nation’s needs, partly because of traditional burial procedures, as well as to public suspicion that organ waiting lists are holding pens for those who cannot pay their way out of them, Huang Jiefu, China’s Vice Minister of Health, was quoted in local press as saying. State officials said in 2011 that condemned prisoners provided about 64% of the nation’s transplant-organ supplies.

Huang told local media that about 300,000 patients are annually wait-listed in China for an organ donation that, ultimately, only about 10,000 of them receive. Just 1,500 organs have been donated so far this year, he said. The paucity of donated organs has fueled a black-market organ trade that has also raised considerable ethical questions.

In the U.S., which has a population about a quarter of China, 9,512 people donated organs in the first half of this year, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Some 120,000 people in the U.S. are still awaiting organs.

TIME Lebanon

DNA Tests Confirm Lebanon Is Holding ISIS Leader’s Child

A man purported to be the reclusive leader of the militant Islamic State Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Mosul, Iraq, in 2014.
Reuters A man purported to be the reclusive ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The woman also detained is believed to be al-Baghdadi's ex-wife

DNA tests have confirmed that the child held by Lebanese authorities is the daughter of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Lebanon’s Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk told domestic television channel MTV that the child’s mother is believed to have married to al-Baghdadi six years ago for a period of three months, the BBC reports.

The Iraqi government had said she was not married to the Islamist leader.

The woman, identified as Saja al-Dulaimi, tried to enter Lebanon over a week ago accompanied by two sons and a daughter when she was detained by border guards.

Machnouk claims al-Dulaimi is pregnant but the child is not al-Baghdadi’s.

“We conducted DNA tests on her and the daughter, which showed she was the mother of the girl, and that the girl is [al-Baghdadi’s] daughter, based on DNA from Baghdadi from Iraq,” Machnouk told MTV.

Machnouk said the children were staying at a care center while al-Dulaimi was being interrogated.


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