TIME Nigeria

All Malala Wants for Her Birthday Is Safe Return for Boko Haram Girls

Calls kidnapped girls her "sisters" during visit to Nigeria

Girls’ education activist Malala Yousafzai met Sunday with parents of the Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by the militant group Boko Haram and pledged again to fight for their safe release.

“I can see those girls as my sisters… and I’m going to speak up for them until they are released,” she told a crowd of parents, Reuters reports. “I can feel… the circumstances under which you are suffering. It’s quite difficult for a parent to know that their daughter is in great danger.

“My birthday wish this year is… bring back our girls now, and alive,” she added.

More than 200 schoolgirls have been missing since they were abducted by Islamist terror group Boko Haram on April 14 as they were preparing to take exams near Chibok, in the northeast region of the country. In the months since the abduction, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has been unable to secure their release amid widespread international focus, even as Boko Haram leaders threatened to “sell them in the market.”

Malala, who became renowned as an international advocate for girls’ education after she survived a Taliban assassination attempt, is scheduled to meet with the Nigerian leader on Monday. She turned 17 on Saturday.

TIME Television

Doctor Who Season 8 Full-Trailer Debuts During World Cup Final

The 12th Doctor will be played by Peter Capaldi

The official full-length trailer for Doctor Who season eight aired during Sunday’s World Cup final on BBC One to the general surprise of sports fans.

The BBC had previously only released short teasers in preparation for the season premiere on Aug. 23. The full-trailer replete with dinosaurs, robots and explosions quelled any reservations that fans might have had about the upcoming season after the death of the 11th Doctor, played by Matt Smith.

The trailer suggested that Whovians are in for many surprises next season, as indicated by Doctor Who’s companion Clara Oswald, played by Jenna Coleman. “I don’t think I know who the Doctor is any more,” Coleman uttered at the beginning of the trailer.

Peter Capaldi, who debuted on the show in the final titillating moments of the Christmas special in season seven, will play the 12th Doctor. Along with Capaldi, actor Samuel Anderson will also join the series as a teacher named Danny Pink.

Sunday night’s trailer appeared just a few days after scripts from the upcoming season had leaked after a security breach at the BBC.

TIME Japan

Is Shinzo Abe’s Notion of ‘Womenomics’ Just a Pipe Dream in Sexist Japan?

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe leaves a news conference at his official residence in Tokyo
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe leaves a news conference at his official residence in Tokyo on June 24, 2014. Abe has unveiled a package of measures aimed to boost Japan's long-term economic growth, from phased-in corporate tax cuts to a bigger role for women and foreign workers Yuya Shino—Reuters

As the Japanese Prime Minister's government pushes economic reform, it faces a major challenge: uprooting a male-centric business culture

On a recent state visit to Australia, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke of his plans to lift Japan from its economic doldrums and of the role women will play in that rejuvenation.

“Women have the greatest potential,” he told the business publication Nikkei, “and allowing them to demonstrate their full abilities is the core of our growth strategy.”

It wasn’t the first time Abe invoked gender equality in his developmental rhetoric. In September last year, he wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, in which he extolled the virtues of “womenomics”: “A country that hires and promotes more women grows economically.” Soon after the piece ran, Abe declared to the U.N. General Assembly his intention to “create a society in which women shine.”

The Abe government’s intent to rectify Japan’s gender imbalance is a key component in what has been dubbed Abenomics, a series of initiatives to prop up growth in the country. The first two “arrows” of the program have garnered praise among market watchers, who attribute low unemployment levels and a favorable exchange rate to aggressive fiscal stimulus and monetary easing. The third arrow, however, which aims at structural reforms to bolster Japan’s competitiveness, centers on the much more difficult task of overhauling a largely male-centric business culture.

“I used to be one of those people who would roll their eye at cries of sexism, and feminists terrified me,” says Mona Nomura, a Japanese woman raised in the U.S. “But moving to Japan has changed all of that.” Nomura, who works for an e-commerce company, says she has had an executive walk out of a meeting with her at the office, unhappy with her questions. She’s also been told to “go back to the U.S.,” where independent women are more welcome, by Japanese male acquaintances.

The numbers certainly paint a picture of a system less than inviting to women. On average, female workers earn 30.2% less than their male counterparts, and, according to 2012 data from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, women only occupied 11% of managerial positions in the private sector.

It’s a similar scenario of inequality in politics. Government estimates in 2011 noted that women took up just 0.8% of town and village mayorships throughout the country. Female legislators only made up 8% of Japan’s lower house of parliament and 16% of the upper house.

A public outburst at the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly in June showcased just that sort of male-dominated brand of politics. Akihiro Suzuki, an assemblyman who has since resigned from Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party but not his post, shouted at female lawmaker Ayaka Shiomura to “get married as soon as possible.” Another colleague heckled, “Can’t you even bear a child?” as Shiomura delivered a speech advocating more government support for pregnant women and young mothers.

Oyaji cannot be changed,” says Kotoyo Obikawa, an office worker in Tokyo, using the Japanese word for middle-aged man. “Teach gender equality to schoolkids.” She says sexism at her place of work remains rife — she has been asked as a project manager to do secretarial work and is obliged to pour drinks for men at parties. “Sexism is deeply rooted in Japanese culture,” she adds. “A lot of people unconsciously discriminate against women.”

But if the principles of womenomics are anything to go by, Japan’s future largely depends on its ability to uproot that status quo. Kathy Matsui, co-head of Asia investment Research at Goldman Sachs and longtime champion of womenomics, wrote last year that Japan could raise its GDP by as much as 14% if female participation in the workforce expanded to 80%. In an earlier report, Matsui and her colleagues noted an added benefit to bridging the gender gap: “Contrary to popular opinion, higher female employment could actually help raise, not lower, fertility rates.” That would help insulate Japan from the impending economic challenges posed by its aging population.

With that in mind, Abe has set targets, albeit some optimistic ones in the eyes of critics. He declared the goal of boosting female workforce participation from 68% to 73% by 2020 and challenged Japanese corporations to have women in 30% of top managerial positions, also by the end of the decade. As if to lead by example, Abe set the same 30% target for supervisory roles in the civil service, but his government has thus far only achieved a 3% rate. It remains to be seen how exactly his government plans to meet its lofty ideals.

Michael Woodford, the former CEO of Japanese optics company Olympus, says the recognition of the need for reform is “a positive sign of meaningful change in Japan.” He adds, however, that “it’s going to be a long and arduous journey to alter the entrenched behaviors of what I found to be an incredibly chauvinistic corporate world.”

Japan’s Minister of State for Gender Equality, Masako Mori, cited myriad challenges that need to be taken on in the reform process, among them better child-care support and more opportunities for female advancement in the workplace. “I’ve cursed the world around me as I’ve worked,” she said in an interview with Bloomberg. “It’s just so hard for women to work in this country.”

For the likes of Nomura, who are deep in the as yet inadequate bureaucracy, the hope lies in the waiting. “As everything else in Japan goes,” she says, “it will take a very, very, very long time.”

Correction: The original version of this story misspelled the first name of Japan’s Minister of State for Gender Equality, Masako Mori.

TIME Italy

It’s Make or Break for the World’s Biggest Marine Salvage Operation

The Costa Concordia salvage operation has entered its next, most dangerous phase

It’s a record attempt in heavy lifting that nobody wishes to ever be matched. On Monday, the operation to raise and refloat the capsized 114,500-ton cruise ship Costa Concordia was finally started. If all goes well, the vessel will be towed away to the Italian port city of Genoa, where it will be decommissioned. However, after more than two and a half years on the sea floor, experts fear the delicate maneuver will rupture the prone ship’s hull, spewing out its toxic load — including fuel and dangerous chemicals — into the pristine Tuscan archipelago.

The Costa Concordia veered off course and ran aground outside the island of Giglio in January 2012, killing 32 people and leaving the enormous liner partially submerged in the shallow waters. In tandem with a legal process against the ship’s captain, a salvage operation of unparalleled proportions was commenced. All but one of the victims’ bodies have been recovered, and in a massive September 2013 exercise, the ship was turned upright (parbuckled) and secured on an artificial platform.

Now begins the final phase. Giant tanks welded to the sides of the 290-m-long wreck will be emptied of water, slowly raising it out of the water. Every floor surfaced will be cleaned of debris and potentially harmful substances that could spill into the sea. They will also be surveyed for signs of Russel Rebello, the Indian waiter who remains missing.

“I strongly believe they will find the body of my dear brother,” writes Russel’s brother Kevin in a Facebook post.

Weather conditions have delayed the operation on several occasions, but even though the forecast still isn’t ideal, the salvage crew has pushed ahead, since the hulk would unlikely survive another winter. In fact, it could already have deteriorated too badly for the refloating procedure and subsequent 240-km tow to Genoa. The first 2 m of the raising are the most dangerous, and the hull will constantly be monitored for possible cracks and fissures.

Cutting up the ship in place is not an option. “It’s far more dangerous to the environment to leave it where it is than to tow it away,” Italy’s civil-protection chief Franco Gabrielli explained to Giglio residents. With luck, they could bid farewell to their unwanted, view-spoiling neighbor in just a couple of weeks. Refloating Costa Concordia and moving it into open waters is estimated to take between five and seven days, tugging it to safety another four to five.

TIME China

China Charges British, American Investigators Linked to GSK

GlaxoSmithKline Plc Headquarters As Novartis AG Buys GSK's Oncology Unit
The logo of GlaxoSmithKline Plc sits on a sign outside the pharmaceutical company's headquarters in London, U.K., on Tuesday, April 22, 2014. Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg via Getty Images

British private investigator Peter Humphrey and his American wife Yu Yingzeng have been accused of illegally obtaining information — the first time foreigners have faced such charges in China

Shanghai prosecutors have indicted British private investigator Peter Humphrey and his American wife, Yu Yingzeng, the official news agency Xinhua said on Monday. The two were linked to drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), which is the focus of a high-profile graft probe in the country.

The husband-and-wife team, who have been detained since July 2013, are charged with illegally obtaining private information. Their trial will be held behind closed doors next month.

It is the first time such charges have been brought against foreigners in China.

A spokesperson for the British Embassy in Beijing told TIME in a statement: “We are aware of Mr Humphrey’s case and are continuing to provide consular assistance to him and his family. Although the Court has announced that it will be a closed trial, we have made clear to the Chinese authorities that we would like Embassy staff to attend the trial and the need for a transparent and fair process. We will continue to do this.”

GSK hired Humphrey and Yu’s company, ChinaWhys, in April 2013 to investigate a former employee accused of anonymously disseminating a sex tape of Mark Reilly, the company’s former China boss, and of circulating emails alleging that GSK was paying bribes.

Prosecutors claim the couple as part of their business collected personal information on a significant number of Chinese citizens, including background information on family members, call logs and household registration details.

Reuters reports that in an interview on state-run television, Humphrey expressed “regret” and said that it was not his intention to “violate Chinese law.

[Xinhua]

TIME India

Yet Another Teen Girl Raped in India for Apparent Revenge

Demonstrators from AIDWA hold placards and shout slogans during protest against recent killings of two teenage girls, in New Delhi
Demonstrators from All India Democratic Women's Association hold placards and shout slogans in New Delhi on May 31, 2014, during a protest against the recent killings of two teenage girls Adnan Abidi—Reuters

Village leader is accused of ordering girl's rape to make up for her brother's alleged misconduct

A teenage girl has been raped in a suspected case of “retaliatory justice” in India’s eastern state of Jharkhand, according to police.

The 14-year-old girl was allegedly raped after villagers accused her brother of assaulting another woman, reports the BBC.

Three people have been arrested in connection with the attack, including the village leader who is accused of ordering the rape as a method of “eye-for-an-eye” justice.

The alleged crime comes amid burgeoning recognition in India that sexual violence has reached crisis proportions since the gang rape and murder of a female student aboard a private bus in the capital New Delhi in 2012. Four of the attackers in that case were sentenced to death, and the Indian government has since enacted several reforms designed to curb violence against women.

In the most recent attack, the head of a remote village in Jharkhand allegedly gave the order to have the teenager raped after her brother committed “misbehavior” toward another woman. The girl was taken to a hospital and has made a police statement, reports the BBC.

“This rape happened out of retaliation,” Jharkhand police chief Rajiv Kumar told the BBC.

[BBC]

TIME Japan

Japanese PM Abe’s Security-Policy Shift Blamed for Local Poll Loss

Japan's PM Abe delivers an address to both houses of parliament in Australia's House of Representatives chamber at Parliament House in Canberra
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers an address to both houses of parliament in Australia's House of Representatives chamber at Parliament House in Canberra July 8, 2014. Lukas Coch—Reuters

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe faces backlash just weeks after reversing Japan’s security policy

The first signs of a backlash against Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have appeared since he dramatically changed the country’s defense policy earlier this month.

Abe’s party, the Liberal Democrats, lost a gubernatorial election in Shiga prefecture in what is perceived as a protest vote against the July 1 ending of the country’s ban on “collective self-defense,” reports Reuters.

The pacifist policy has defined postwar Japan, but Abe argued that the nation needs a new security policy in the current political climate, hinting at territorial disputes with China. In response, however, voter support for the 59-year-old Premier has already dropped below 50%, according to a recent public-opinion survey.

Abe is not up for re-election until 2016, but three other prefectures will elect governors later this year. Japan will also have several more polls next April.

The ballot also revealed divisions within the Japanese electorate regarding the East Asian nation’s nuclear policy following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear meltdown.

Many voters in Shiga prefecture are wary of the Prime Minister’s plans to restart nuclear reactors in neighboring Fukui prefecture. By contrast, Shiga’s new governor, Democratic Party member Taizo Mikazuki, called for Japan to reduce its reliance on nuclear power.

[Reuters]

TIME Egypt

Rockets Kill 8 in Egypt’s Sinai Region

The attack was primarily aimed at the city of al-Arish

Eight people have been killed in a series of rocket attacks targeting security forces in northeast Egypt near the border with Israel.

Reuters reports that the attacks were carried out by Islamist forces in the Sinai peninsula, a region of Egypt that is home to many militant groups.

The Egyptian military has been cracking down on these groups since it ousted the country’s former President Mohamed Morsi just over a year ago.

Morsi had strong ties to fundamentalist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, and his overthrow has prompted backlashes against security targets.

The latest attack in Sinai hit the city of al-Arish. The first rocket apparently missed its goal of a large security compound, according to Reuters, and instead fell on a crowded supermarket, killing seven people and injuring 25.

Another pair of rockets then reached a security target and killed one official, injuring seven other people.

[Reuters]

TIME National Security

Holder Says Latest Terror Threats ‘More Frightening Than Anything’

"It's something that gives us really extreme, extreme concern"

Attorney General Eric Holder says recent intelligence reports of terrorists from Syria partnering with Yemeni bombmakers to create new types of explosives are “more frightening than anything I think I’ve seen as attorney general.”

“It’s something that gives us really extreme, extreme concern,” Holder said during an interview on ABC’s This Week With George Stephanopoulos that aired Sunday. Holder spoke from London, where he was meeting with European officials to discuss security issues.

U.S. officials learned earlier this year that a Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate was collaborating with the Yemen-based bomb designers behind the Christmas Day “underwear bomb” from 2009. Authorities have been aware of threats posed by both groups, but intelligence reports of their work together have raised fresh concerns.

The Transportation Security Administration has also recently increased security at overseas airports in response to concerns that Syria-based terrorists could try to hijack a plane bound for Europe or the U.S. with help from U.S.- and European-passport-carrying fighters in the area.

Approximately 7,000 people, including many Americans, have joined about 16,000 fighters in Syria, and FBI Director James Comey says the government is devoting “a tremendous amount of time and effort to identify” those who’ve gone to Syria, where the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) is active.

“This is not a test,” Holder said of new air-travel security measures. “We’re doing something in reaction to things that we have detected.”

[ABC News]

TIME Israel

American Citizens Among Hundreds Fleeing Gaza Airstrikes

PALESTINIAN-ISRAEL-CONFLICT-GAZA
Smoke billows from a building hit by an Israeli air strike in the town of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 13, 2014. Said Khati—AFP/Getty Images

“My body is leaving Gaza but my heart will always be here”

About 150 Palestinian-Americans evacuated the Gaza Strip Sunday after Israel stepped up its deadly airstrikes—bringing the death toll to 171 and raising fears that a ground invasion is imminent. More than 1,000 have been wounded in the airstrikes, Gaza’s health ministry said. Several Israelis have been wounded, but there have been no fatalities, Israel said.

Palestinians with foreign passports, including dual American citizens, began leaving Gaza through the Erez border crossing Sunday. “My body is leaving Gaza but my heart will always be here,” said Akram Mustasha, from Houston, Texas, who had been in the area on summer vacation until violence became unbearable…

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

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