TIME russia

Over 27,000 Russian Tourists Are Stranded as E.U. Sanctions Take Effect

A group of 30 Russian tourists wait at Antalya Airport in Turkey on Aug. 4, 2014, after their Russian tour company went bankrupt
A group of 30 Russian tourists wait at Antalya Airport in Turkey on Aug. 4, 2014, after their Russian tour company went bankrupt Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Oligarchs are having to ditch their private jets, too

Over 27,000 Russian tourists have been left stranded abroad after the collapse of Russian tour operator Labirint. The firm cited a “negative political and economic situation” as a reason for its failure, Sky News reports.

Labirint is the fourth Russian tour company to tank in three weeks. “We worry that this is only the beginning and that there will be a domino effect,” a spokeswoman for the country’s Federal Agency for Tourism told radio station and news site Echo of Moscow.

The marooned tourists, in countries such as Egypt and Bulgaria, are a visible sign that the E.U.’s sanctions on Russia, imposed over Moscow’s role in the ongoing Ukraine conflict, are having some effect. Tougher punishments were imposed last week, following the downing of a Malaysia Airlines jetliner in eastern Ukraine on July 17, purportedly by a missile fired by pro-Russian separatists.

Besides affecting tour operators, sanctions have also led to a grounding of Russian budget airline Dobrolet, a subsidiary of state-controlled Aeroflot. The carrier ended up on the sanctions list because it provides direct flights from Moscow to Crimea, the Ukrainian region annexed by Russia earlier this year.

The targeting of Russian banks, meanwhile, has caused Russia’s second oil producer Lukoil to scale back investment plans because it cannot access funds, while Reuters reports that leading Russian banks have been forced to reassure clients that they are able to meet their commitments despite being on the E.U. list.

Prominent Russians are also being inconvenienced. Gennady Timchenko, a billionaire businessman close to President Vladimir Putin, has had his private jet grounded after Gulfstream stopped servicing the aircraft and its pilots were prevented from using its navigation equipment. However, he told Russia’s Itar-Tass news agency that he’d found an alternative to his Visa and MasterCard credit cards.

“As soon as the sanctions came in I got myself [a Chinese Union] card … and it works brilliantly!”

The sanctions could also hurt European businesses, however. Adidas has scrapped its revenue and profit target for next year because of its exposure to the Russian market, U.S. aviation giant Boeing could lose its contracts with Dobrolet, and the German Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations has said that more than 25,000 German jobs are in danger. There is an expectation among European investors that future growth may be hampered, with the euro zone’s Sentix investment index in August dropping to its lowest level in a year.

“As this slump derives from an event which is subject to politics and power play, the central banks, particularly the European Central Bank, will have difficulty in trying to counter this,” Reuters reported Sentix as saying.

Moscow has begun to hit back at sanctions by imposing bans of its own, mostly on food products. It has already banned Polish apples (it says for health reasons, but Polish farmers think the move is retaliatory) and Australian beef. Now, Reuters reports, Moscow is mulling a ban on U.S. poultry — it currently buys around 8% of U.S. broiler-meat exports each year.

TIME China

China Quake Death Toll Nears 400 With Rain Hampering Rescue Efforts

Villagers sit in front of their destroyed house following a massive earthquake in the town of Longtoushan in Ludian County in southwest China's Yunnan Province on Aug. 5, 2014.
Villagers sit in front of their destroyed house following a massive earthquake in the town of Longtoushan in Ludian County in southwest China's Yunnan Province on Aug. 5, 2014. Andy Wong—AP

Thunderstorms and huge downpours are forecast for the next three days, forcing rescuers to race against the clock

As rescuers continue to sift through the rubble left by a 6.5 magnitude earthquake that struck southwestern China’s Yunnan province on Saturday, heavy rain and landslides are slowing down rescue efforts and the delivery of desperately needed supplies to survivors — with worse weather to come.

Thunderstorms and torrential downpours are forecast over the next three days for Ludian County, one of the worst affected areas, forcing thousands of troops, police and other aid workers to race against time.

The death toll in what local officials say is the most destructive earthquake to strike the mountainous area in years is now 398, with 1,801 injured, China’s official news agency Xinhua reports. Over 411 aftershocks have also been recorded, some as high as 4.9 magnitude.

Around 80,000 homes have been destroyed, and 124,000 others seriously damaged, the Yunnan Civil Affairs Bureau said on its website. And though some 230,000 people have been evacuated, thousands more remain threatened by aftershocks, landslides and floods. A lake has formed near the Hongshiyan hydropower station and is rising at one meter per hour, engulfing homes, forcing further evacuations, and threatening several power stations downstream, the South China Morning Post reports.

Collapsed infrastructure means that many survivors have yet to be reached. “The blocked roads and the continuous downpours have made some disaster areas inaccessible for heavy relief vehicles,” Liu Jianhua, a local party official, told Xinhua.

A volunteer teacher in Longjiang Village, Huang Min, told the Post that the situation was desperate. “We’re in desperate need of food, water, tents and electricity,” Huang said.

Yunnan province is prone to earthquakes. A series of tremblors in 2012 killed 81 and injured over 800.

TIME Middle East

If the Gaza Truce Holds, What Then? 5 Possible Outcomes

An Israeli soldier sits in an armored personnel carrier flying the Israeli flag as they return from the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip after pulling out of the Palestinian enclave on August 4, 2014 as Israel has begun withdrawing some ground troops.
An Israeli soldier sits in an armored personnel carrier flying the Israeli flag as they return from the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip after pulling out of the Palestinian enclave on Aug. 4, 2014, as Israel has begun withdrawing some ground troops. Gil Cohen Magen—AFP/Getty Images

How Operation Protective Edge might end — or carry on interminably

Egypt announced that Palestinian factions declared a 72-hour cease-fire to begin on Tuesday at 8 a.m. Israel sat out of the Cairo talks that produced the humanitarian truce but said it would hold by the cease-fire, a government spokesman told TIME.

Whether or not the parties actually make it through a full three days with no air strikes or rocket attacks remains to be seen. Every other cease-fire effort undertaken since the escalation in early July has failed. But there is a more pressing question: What now? Who and what can put an end to the humanitarian disaster unfolding in Gaza — with 1,865 Palestinians and 67 Israelis killed so far – and also propose a longer-term solution?

Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s Foreign Minister, on Monday offered a new idea for solving the Gaza problem: let the U.N. take control of the long-troubled territory. “Everyone is asking, What happens after the operation ends? Suppose Israel defeats Hamas. There are a few options. International control of Gaza, by the U.N., should certainly be considered,” Lieberman said at a press conference. This has been tried in other war-torn locales, from Kosovo to East Timor. Why not Gaza?

Well, for one thing, it would be an enormous and expensive undertaking for the international community to take responsibility for Gaza. It would also require Hamas and other militant groups to agree to participate in such a scheme, which is difficult to imagine given that they’ve built their entire identities around what they view as legitimate resistance to Israeli occupation. Still, many of the key players here say that almost a month into the bloodiest phase in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the second intifadeh, some significant change must emerge at the end of it. TIME looks at five possibilities for how this could end:

  1. Send in the U.N. This would involve what’s been referred to as mini–Marshall Plan, including a massive rebuilding program that would help Gaza pick up the pieces. The task would be huge: electricity and water supplies have been compromised, and an estimated 10,000 homes have been destroyed or severely damaged. Shaul Mofaz, a former Israeli Defense Minister and IDF chief, has proposed some specifics. These include having the international community oversee the demilitarization of Gaza — a goal recently endorsed by Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu, but opposed by Hamas — and approximately $50 billion for rebuilding. E.U. foreign ministers issued a joint statement July 23 backing demilitarization.
  1. Bring the PA back to Gaza: Israel and Hamas will eventually be brought into some kind of proximity talks under an umbrella of Egyptian sponsorship, and the outcome of those discussions would likely involve the return of the Palestinian Authority and its security forces to Gaza, casting them in a key role as guardians of the crossing points into Israel and Egypt — along with international help. The PA, run by the PLO’s secular Fatah faction, was forced out of Gaza in 2007 as part of a violent coup staged by Hamas, whose name is an acronym for the Islamic Resistance Movement. Bringing a PA political and security presence back to Gaza would help beef up the legitimacy of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. As part of such an arrangement, Israel would likely demand a joint patrolling mechanism on the Gaza perimeter to prevent infiltrations and renewed attempts to rebuild tunnels, more than 30 of which the IDF says it has destroyed. However, the rockets from Gaza did not start when Israel pulled its troops and 8,000 settlers out of Gaza in 2005, but rather, Israel points out, in 2001. Therefore, Israel is likely to refuse any agreement that doesn’t include a mechanism for preventing Hamas from rebuilding its rocket arsenal. The fact that Hamas and Fatah joined in a “reconciliation” government in April makes this form of cooperation more feasible than it was even a year ago.
  1. A 10-year truce: Almost two weeks ago, Hamas offered Israel a 10-year hudna, or Arabic truce. Its terms include — but are not limited to — the following: 1) the release of approximately 50 Palestinian prisoners who, after being released as part of the Gilad Shalit deal in late 2011, were re-arrested by the IDF in June following the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens in the West Bank, 2) the opening of the border crossings with both Israel and Egypt, 3) international supervision of the Gazan seaport instead of the Israeli naval blockade, as well as extended fishing rights to 10 km off the coast of Gaza, 4) an international airport under U.N. supervision, and 5) international forces on the borders of Gaza. Even if Israeli officials were prepared to accept all of that — which would be unlikely — they have said that the very concept of a hudna, a concept rooted in Islamic history, is problematic because it suggests Hamas only believes in a limited period of calm with the Jewish state but refuses a more permanent solution because it seeks its destruction.
  1. Possible reoccupation of the Gaza Strip: This is an option that is often mentioned by Israel’s far right, including some members of Netanyahu’s Cabinet. Coalition partner Naftali Bennett, the Minister of Economy, said last week that Israel should continue its military operating until Hamas is completely defeated. Lieberman, the Foreign Minister, had suggested in late June that Israel reoccupy Gaza, saying only that would stop the rockets. Ultimately, Netanyahu appears to have rejected these calls, realizing that such a move would likely cause far more bloodshed and further rattle Israel’s already compromised international legitimacy.
  1. Indefinite war: In this scenario, Israel withdraws its troops and tanks from Gaza, but continues to use air and naval strikes as it sees fit. Hamas stays in power and launches rockets at Israel whenever it pleases, and essentially, nothing substantial changes from how things looked a month ago — other than a great number of destroyed buildings and upwards of 2,000 lives lost. If the parties cannot agree on a cease-fire deal that feels satisfactory, Operation Protective Edge could simmer down into a indeterminate cycle of occasional attacks, robbing both Israelis and Palestinians of a return to normal life. Some are hoping that the right cease-fire deal is just around the corner, and some are wishing their leaders will keep holding out for more. But the possibility of a low-level war of attrition, lasting years and costing yet more lives, is not remote.

Ukraine Trauma Counselors Battle ‘Info-Intoxication’

With both Russian and Ukrainian propaganda outlets fanning divisions in conflict-ridden eastern Ukraine, local communities are struggling to move on

In the middle of summer, as the fighting in eastern Ukraine receded toward the Russian border, psychiatrists working in the area began to notice a strange affliction among the people caught up in the conflict. Its symptoms were hard to discern at first from the more typical psychological damage the war was inflicting on local people—anxiety, insomnia, depression—but they were distinct enough for the doctors to start giving the malady names: “info-intoxication,” they called it, or more simply, “Ukrainian syndrome.”
The difficulties of treating it became clear to Dr. Yuri Fisun in early July, when the pro-Russian rebel militias retreated from his hometown of Slavyansk, and he was finally able to see patients again, working as a volunteer at a makeshift counseling center set up inside the separatists’ former headquarters in the local City Hall. He never took sides in the conflict, but like many of the people who lived through it, he came away shell-shocked and suspicious of both sides. The Ukrainian military had bombarded this key rebel stronghold with heavy artillery for weeks, depriving it of water and power as they encircled it with military hardware. “The people who stayed during the fighting had trouble sleeping once the sound of explosions had stopped,” he says. “They had gotten so used to them.”
But the town has slowly started coming back to life as the government retakes control. Pension payments have resumed, the people who fled the fighting are returning home, a couple of cafes have reopened, and in City Hall, a group of trauma therapists is trying to treat a community that seems to be suffering from a collective case of post-traumatic stress. The therapists don’t see their work as merely a source of comfort for the locals. It is rather a test of whether the deeper tensions of this conflict can be resolved, or whether they are bound to bubble up again with another round of violence.
What Fisun and his colleagues noticed was that the forces feeding the hatred in Slavyansk survived even after the fighting stopped. Mixed in among the signs of trauma was a great deal of aggression and paranoia, usually expressed with peculiar phrases that Fisun sensed his patients were not coming up with on their own. He eventually found their source: television.
A slight man with a lulling timbre to his voice, Fisun did not own a TV himself, so he got into the habit of watching the news every evening online and taking notes in preparation for his patients the next day. He focused on the Russian state-run networks, which many of the locals still get through satellite dishes or the Internet, and he found a pattern. “Overnight they had internalized the latest propaganda,” he tells TIME. “And it was surprisingly hard to dislodge.”
Ever since the Ukrainian forces took back control of Slavyansk, Russian state media has insisted that wholesale purges of the population had ensued. There were mass arrests, “execution lists” and bounties for the bodies of civilians, according to Kremlin-run TV broadcasts. A particularly sickening report on Channel One, the Kremlin’s main network, claimed that Ukrainian soldiers had crucified a three-year-old boy on a bulletin board in the central square of Slavyansk and made his mother watch him bleed to death.
None of this had any basis in fact, as TIME confirmed through two weeks of reporting in the former rebel strongholds. These towns and villages have indeed suffered extensive damage from the Ukrainian bombardment, and the U.N. estimates that hundreds of civilians have been killed in the conflict so far, many from the impact of shelling. But once the army moves in to retake control, they have so far made few discernible attempts to weed out the remaining separatists, many of whom have melted back into these communities.
“They came once in the beginning, checked my papers to make sure I’m local, and I haven’t seen them since then,” says Alexei, a 34-year-old lumberjack in the war-ravaged village of Semyonovka, declining to give his surname. “I haven’t even heard of anybody getting arrested or interrogated,” says Sergei, a 38-year-old mechanic in the town of Debaltsevo, who also declined to be named, citing a distrust of journalists. Both of them said they had not joined the separatist militias themselves. But while Slavyansk was in rebel control, many if not most of the men in the area provided at least some help to the pro-Russian cause. Failing to do so would have drawn the suspicion of, if not also reprisals from, the rebels and their supporters.
These days armed soldiers are rarely seen patrolling the streets of Slavyansk, and state security agents identifiable by their bullet proof vests and sidearms seem to go out of their way to interact politely with locals while standing in line at a pizzeria or grocery store. “Don’t get me wrong, there is a desire among some of the boys to go in and raise hell,” says Taras Katsuba, a Ukrainian lieutenant colonel, standing with a group of soldiers outside town of Debaltsevo on August 1, the day after government forces took control of it. “They’ve seen their buddies get killed. But we know the situation is overheated right now. Folks are scared, and if we go in and start arresting people or whatever, it’ll only make things worse.”
Yet the rumors of Ukrainian death squads and “cleanup operations” have nevertheless persisted in these towns, and Fisun says it is the goal of mental health professionals to counteract them one by one. Armed with his notes on the latest Russian news broadcasts, he goes into therapy sessions with an aim to persuade patients that they are false, that they have nothing to fear from the Ukrainian government. “This is a top priority for us right now,” he says. “It is the main thing driving the neuroses and the social aggression.”
His colleagues have taken a more direct approach. Tatyana Aslanyan, a psychiatrist who is coordinating teams of trauma counselors working around Slavyansk, usually sits and listens quietly to the people who come for her therapy sessions. These sessions are open to the public, organized by civil society groups and run by local volunteers. But the mistrust in the city is so pervasive, Aslanyan says, “many people still see us as some kind of filtration center; they’re scared we’ll hand them over to the security services.” So it’s no surprise that turnout is usually modest, and men are rare among the people seeking help.
During a recent group session in the village of Semyonovka, about a dozen local women sat around in a circle at the village congress hall, whose roof had been blown open with a mortar during the fighting in May and June. Semyonovka has suffered more physical damage than perhaps any other place in the war. “It was better when we didn’t have electricity,” said one of the locals taking part in the session, a young mother of three. (The therapists asked TIME not to print their names.) “But now we can turn on the TV and get depressed again.”
For the first time Aslanyan interjected sharply: “No television!” she shouted. “Listen to me, turn it off, throw it away.” The woman began to cry.
The source of distress is not only the Russian media, Aslanyan says in an interview the previous day. Though most of Ukraine’s news networks are privately owned, they have often sought to fight fire with fire in the propaganda war, denouncing the separatist rebels as terrorists and their sympathizers as traitors. Numerous reports have accused the rebel fighters of “kidnapping” dozens of children when they were, in fact, apparently just trying to evacuate them from the warzone.
In May, separatist fighters helped evacuate the mental hospital outside Slavyansk where Fisun has worked for 35 years. It had been hit by a number of mortars by then, he says, and the rebels “brought buses around” to drive the patients to safety. “As I understand, these were the local boys,” says Fisun, “not Russians but men from Slavyansk who had joined the rebel militias.” He has no sympathy for their cause, but the depictions of them as terrorists on Ukrainian television have simply mirrored the warped picture available on the Russian airwaves. “As a result you hear people demanding more of a purge in their own communities,” says Aslanyan. “Many of them feel the Ukrainian forces have been too soft, that they have not done enough to punish people.”
Olga Kadysheva, another psychiatrist working as a volunteer in the warzone, also believes that what she calls the “info-intoxication” is coming from all sides, with television and online news reports feeding rumors that get spread by word of mouth. “The treatment is diet: cut off the intake of information, all of it, Ukrainian, Russian, it doesn’t matter.” But the deeper concern among the therapists is that the rumor mill is only feeding fears and prejudices that existed long before the conflict, and could persist long after the fighting stops. The ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine, who make up a majority in many towns across the region, have long felt like outsiders in their own country, in part because Ukrainian is the only official language.
“The polarization of society is what deepens the break in the psyche,” says Kadysheva, who came from the city of Kharkiv, outside the warzone, to help coordinate and train therapists in Slavyansk. “Am I Russian or am I Ukrainian? Am I a separatist or am I not?” As the rebels retreat from their strongholds deeper into southern and eastern Ukraine, the rifts in society that their war has left behind have looked more like a shattered mirror than any clean split down the middle. Those who stayed in bomb shelters throughout the fighting condemn those who fled the warzone. Those who did not support the separatists condemn those two did, and vice versa. The dividing lines now seem to form a tapestry of mistrust and mutual reprobation, the local psychiatrists say, and mending them up again will take years. In the meantime, the propaganda outlets on both sides will be able to play on these divisions, making it harder for the communities to get on with their lives.
With additional video reporting Maxim Dondyuk

TIME infectious diseases

Ebola Diagnosis ‘Unlikely’ in New York Patient

New York Health Department officials said the patient had none of the known risk factors for Ebola

Updated 7:30 p.m. ET

A man who arrived at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City on Monday with a high fever and stomach problems is unlikely to be suffering from the Ebola virus, the New York Health Department said.

The patient had been visiting a West African country where Ebola cases have been reported, but department officials said the patient had none of the known risk factors for Ebola.

“After consultation with CDC and Mount Sinai, the Health Department has concluded that the patient is unlikely to have Ebola. Specimens are being tested for common causes of illness and to definitively exclude Ebola,” it said in a statement.

At a press conference Monday, hospital representatives said they believed the patient was suffering from a more common condition than Ebola and hoped to have a specific diagnosis within the next 48 hours.

Africa is in the midst of the worst Ebola outbreak in history, with over 1,600 reported cases and over 887 deaths in Nigeria, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

Dr. David Reich, president and chief operating officer at Mount Sinai, told TIME that because of the recent Ebola news last week, over this past weekend, the hospital had reviewed and prepared for what it would do if it received a patient with Ebola, including immediate isolation and strict infection-control procedures. “We are very pleased our staff reacted immediately based on their initial screening,” says Reich.

The hospital reported that the patient was being kept in isolation to prevent the spread of the deadly virus, and being tested to confirm whether his symptoms are from Ebola.

“All necessary steps are being taken to ensure the safety of all patients, visitors and staff,” Mount Sinai said in a statement.

When it comes to infectious diseases, Reich says the hospital is well equipped, and experienced. “In terms of contagious disease, the measles is in many ways much more contagious than this,” he says.

Outside the hospital, doctors feel similarly confident in Mount Sinai’s abilities. “If that’s the true diagnosis, I hope the patient does well because it’s a devastating disease,” said Dr. Gustavo Fernandez-Ranvier, a metabolic surgeon at Mount Sinai. “But I’m not worried. People weren’t talking about it at all. There’s risk every day, and this is a great hospital.”

The patient was put in isolation within seven minutes of entering the hospital. Staff members asked all incoming patients about their symptoms and travel histories as a part of the hospital’s plan for a possible Ebola patient.

“Any advanced hospital in the U.S., any hospital with an intensive-care unit has the capacity to isolate patients,” CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden told reporters late last week.

Because Ebola is not airborne and instead spreads through direct contact with bodily fluids like blood and saliva, the CDC has long assured Americans that even if there were to be a patient with Ebola in the U.S. (besides the two Americans with Ebola evacuated from West Africa), the risk for the disease spreading is minimal.

“We are confident that we will not have significant spread of Ebola, even if we were to have a patient with Ebola here,” Frieden said. “We work actively to educate American health care workers on how to isolate patients and how to protect themselves against infection.”

Unlike many health care workers in Western Africa, health care workers in U.S. hospitals have the resources to keep themselves adequately protected while treating patients.

TIME China

Earthquake in China Kills at Least 589

Infrastructure and buildings in remote area of Yunnan province left in ruins after huge temblor

Update: Aug. 6, 10:05 a.m. ET

At least 589 people were killed after a 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit a rural area of Yunnan province on Aug. 3, causing several buildings to collapse. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake was less than a mile below the ground.

TIME Belgium

World Leaders Gather in Liege to Commemorate World War I Centenary

Britain's Prince William, his wife Catherine, French President Francois Hollande, Queen Mathilde of Belgium, her husband King Philippe and German President Joachim Gauck attend on August 4, 2014 in Liege, Belgium, commemorations marking 100 years since the invasion of Belgium by Germany at the start of World War I. JOHN THYS--AFP/Getty Images

Heads of state from around the globe gathered to mark the centenary of World War I in the Belgian city where fighting started a century ago

King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium hosted dozens of heads of state and other international delegates on Monday to mark the centenary of the start of World War I. The dignitaries gathered on a forested hill overlooking the city of Liege, just a few dozen kilometers from the border where German soldiers took their first fateful steps 100 years ago, triggering a war which would engulf the world like none other before it.

Among the guests were Britain’s Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, King Felipe of Spain and US Secretary of the Army John McHugh. The speeches paid tribute to the fallen and included messages of reconciliation. But the remembrance was also tinged with anger that the world today is not quite as peaceful as many had hoped after the sacrifices of a century ago, and warnings that the ties that bind can so quickly be broken.

Speaking at the foot of Liege’s towering Allied Memorial, French President Francois Hollande spoke of the breach of Belgium’s neutrality a century ago, drawing parallels with the conflicts of today. “How can we stay neutral when people not far from Europe are fighting for their rights and territorial integrity?” he asked. “How to stay neutral when a civilian aircraft can be shot out of the sky in Ukraine? When there are civilian populations being massacred in Iraq, Syria, and Libya? When in Gaza a deadly conflict has been going on for over a month?”

German President, Joachim Gauck, also lamented that “millions of people are afflicted by violence and terror; millions have fled their homes.” He urged nations to remember the “terrible and bitter lessons” of a war which many once thought impossible.

The tumble into the Great War began with the bullet that assassinated Austria-Hungary’s Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28th 1914, putting the empire and its ally Germany on a collision course with Serbia and Russia, eventually dragging in Britain and France. No amount of diplomacy or warnings of a coming catastrophe were able to prevent the spiral of nationalism and paranoia. On August 4th, 1914, German soldiers crossed into Belgium, hoping for a swift advance to Paris. This triggered a British pledge to protect the small nation’s neutrality, and by 11 pm that night Germany and Britain were at war. “The lamps are going out all over Europe,” said the British Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, at the time. “We shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.”

A day later, Liege would become the first battlefield of the first global conflict, which would eventually draw in 65 million combatants from 72 nations, with millions of them never making it home alive.

In 2014, the centenary’s resonance is keenly felt when conflict is blighting many corners of the world. Wartime leaders’ warnings of “monstrous slaughter” would not seem so distant to the Syrians today facing barrel bombs in a civil war that has now claimed more than 150,000 lives. The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has its roots in the carve up of the Middle East after World War One, and the number of casualties are still rising by the day in Gaza.

Even the belief of lasting peace in Europe has been shaken by events in Ukraine, such as Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March and an increasingly bloody separatist insurgency which last month claimed nearly 300 lives – 211 of them, European – in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

Belgium’s Prime Minister, Elio di Rupo, also used the occasion to warn about the rise of anti-Semitism and extremism in Europe after the bruising economic crisis. “It takes a great deal of time and effort to bring peoples together and unite them in a common destiny,” he said. “However, it often does not take much to shatter this solidarity and revive the worst tensions.”

But there were also celebrations of how a continent overcame differences that once seemed insurmountable, and a reminder that reconciliation is possible, no matter how deep the animosities, how cruel the conflict, how many dead.

Later in the evening British and German delegates will stand together at Saint Symphorien cemetery in Mons, where fallen soldiers from both nations lie side-by-side. “The fact that the presidents of Germany and Austria are here today, and that other nations—then enemies—are here too, bears testimony to the power of reconciliation,” said Britain’s Prince William. “We were enemies more than once in the last century, and today we are friends and allies. We salute those who died to give us our freedom. We will remember them.”

TIME Israel

Construction Vehicle Attack Shatters Quiet in Jerusalem

Photos show extent of the damage

Israeli authorities say a man rammed a construction excavator into a bus in Jerusalem on Monday before he was shot dead by a police officer; hours later a gunman reportedly opened fire near Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, injuring a soldier before fleeing on a motorcycle.

The attacks came amid terrorism concerns in Israel arising from the nearly month-long war in Gaza. Officials in Gaza say 1,831 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed since Israel launched its offensive July 8 with the aim of eliminating the means of firing rockets from Gaza into Israel. Sixty-four Israeli soldiers and three civilians have been killed.

The driver of the construction vehicle killed a pedestrian Monday and then overturned the bus in what police described as a “terrorist attack,” Reuters reports. There were no passengers on the bus, but the images above reveal the destructive impact of the rampage.

Assailants in Israel have used construction vehicles in the past. In 2008, a Palestinian plowed a bulldozer into a Jerusalem bus, killing three and injuring dozens of others. Weeks later, a man in a bulldozer plowed into five cars and wounded more than 2o people.

TIME health

Contagion Screenwriter: Ebola Isn’t the Pandemic. Fear Is

A 10-year-old boy walks with a doctor from Christian charity Samaritan's Purse after being taken out of quarantine and receiving treatment following his mother's death caused by the Ebola virus at the ELWA Hospital in the Liberian capital, Monrovia, on July 24, 2014 Zoom Dosso—AFP/Getty Images

What we should really be afraid of: our inability to assess risk

There is an animal somewhere in Africa — most likely a bat — that has worked out an arrangement with a microscopic agent. The deal is this: the agent won’t kill the bat if the bat will transport it to other warm-blooded animals and give it a chance do its gruesome work. All the bat had to do to enter this arrangement was build up a resistance to the agent over generations and become a good hiding place — and then continue about its business of being a bat.

Long before they provided cover for vampires, bats were reservoirs for viruses.

We identified such an agent in 1976 and named it Ebola for a nearby river. Unfortunately, we didn’t find it in a bat but as a virus in the blood of a dead man.

A virus that kills quickly does not take full advantage of the social behavior of humans and tends to burn itself out. That behavior includes the profound compassion of health care workers who are always among the secondary infections; funereal practices that bring the healthy in contact with the infected dead; and illiteracy, which keeps the local population from understanding what is afoot. The very lethality of Ebola — killing up to 90% of its victims — becomes a self-limiting proposition. It will never become a pandemic, according to public-health experts, unless we help it along.

And how would we do that?

Public health is a kind of math class we seem to fail year after year. Its most basic equation addresses the following question: for every infected person today, how many more infected people can we anticipate? The numerical answer to this question is called the R-nought of the disease. Smallpox has an R-nought of between 3 and 7, depending on population density. The Spanish flu of 1918 had an R-nought between 3 and 4 and killed an estimated 100 million people. Ebola has an R-nought of 1.5.

The people who are infected with Ebola develop a screenwriter’s list of symptoms: bleeding from the mouth, nail beds and eyes as their capillaries disintegrate inside them. Their brains, awash in the blood of hemorrhagic fever, become deranged. There is no vaccine and there is no cure approved for use.

It is a terrifying prospect.

And there is no more effective contagion than fear. Rest assured, it has an R-nought far greater than Ebola. To contract it you do not need to have contact with bodily fluids, only limited exposure to sensationalizing media or a water-cooler conversation embellished with misinformation. And fear has a tendency to shut down the parts of our brain we need most in these moments and leave us at the mercy of our most primitive urges.

There is an equation used in the security world that would help inoculate us against the paralysis and bad judgment symptomatic of fear. It goes like this: risk = threat x vulnerability x consequences. In the case of Ebola, the threat is isolated to West Africa. If you have not traveled to any of the countries involved, your level of threat is zero. Even if you have visited these countries, you would still need direct contact with a sick person or animal — or the American doctor or missionary being treated in isolation at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. But they are isolated and being treated by people who understand the equation above. Furthermore, your vulnerability is next to nil given our relatively robust public-health system that protects us from such an outbreak and, given the advanced medicine that exists in the U.S., even the consequences of such an infection are much lower.

Contrast this with places like Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. The threat is clear and present, and there couldn’t be a more vulnerable population. These are countries struggling to emerge from years of civil war and violence, poor places with little to spend on public health. Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Laurie Garrett has pointed out that Liberia spends $18 per capita on public health, Sierra Leone spends $13 per capita and Guinea a mere $7 per capita on the health of their people. (By contrast Hawaii spends $155 per capita on public health.) In addition, their cultural practices and distrust of outside aid make the consequences that much more dire. The death toll from the current Ebola outbreak tops 800. Yet 1.5 million people will die of malaria this year without the proportional coverage to the threat it poses, many of them dying in the same cash-strapped hospitals treating the current victims of Ebola.

So what should we be afraid of?

On the heels of 9/11, five deadly cases of anthrax shut down the government. And yet when 200,000 died from last year’s influenza, less than 37% of the population opted for a flu shot. It is our inability to assess risk that should scare us into action. The threat of influenza is high: we are all vulnerable regardless of geography, and the consequences can be extreme. The notion that vaccines can cause autism has long been discredited, but many of us still suffer from this fear that prevents us from protecting ourselves, our children and our neighbors.

The monster we can see — the nuclear bomb, the fanatic with the suicide vest, the swirl of hurricane in the satellite photo — leads us to build shelters, change security policy or head for high ground. But the monster in the microscope seems to sneak up on us every time. There is, without a doubt, another bat in another tree harboring another agent. But maybe this bat is in Southeast Asia or South America or in another war-torn country that can’t provide medical care for its people. And there are migratory birds crisscrossing our borders and differing standards of health care that are consorting with livestock and bringing with them novel viruses that will play genetic roulette with our collective futures. These are the real risks. This is the math exam the future holds for us.

The author would like to thank Dr. Larry Brilliant, president of the Skoll Global Threats Fund, and Dr. Alex Garza, former assistant secretary and chief medical officer of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, for their guidance on this piece.

Burns is a screenwriter, director, producer and playwright. He wrote the screenplay for Contagion, directed by Steven Soderbergh, and produced the Academy Award–winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth.

TIME russia

WATCH: Bird Launches Airstrike on Putin’s Shoulder (UPDATED)

No word on whether the bird was from Ukraine

Correction appended

A video shared online made it seem as if Vladimir Putin got some unwelcome love from a feathered friend Sunday during a speech unveiling a monument to Russians who served in World War I.

Putin was speaking about the sacrifice made by Russian soldiers in World War I, linking the Great War to his own current political troubles. “This tragedy reminds us what happens when aggression, selfishness and the unbridled ambitions of national leaders and political establishments push common sense aside, so that instead of preserving the world’s most prosperous continent, Europe, they lead it towards danger,” he said. “It is worth remembering this today.”

Correction: Reporting by The Independent reveals this video to have been falsely doctored to show a bird defecating on Putin.

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