TIME Middle East

Iraqis Defy Security Concerns to Vote in First National Elections Since U.S. Exit

A resident casts her ballot at a polling station during Iraqi parliamentary election in Najaf
A resident casts her ballot at a polling station in Najaf, Iraq, on April 30, 2014 Ahmad Mousa—Reuters

Hundreds of thousands of troops and police were deployed across the country to protect voters, as militants attempted to disrupt the first national election since the exit of U.S. forces in 2011. Authorities also closed the nation’s airspace and banned vehicles

Iraqis went to the polls on Wednesday amid a massive security effort for the first national elections since the exit of U.S. forces in 2011.

Two bombings highlighted the security risks in the country, where sectarian violence has spiked in the past year. One roadside bomb killed two women walking to a polling station in the northern town of Dibis, and another bomb in the area injured five soldiers on an army poll, the Associated Press reports.

Hundreds of thousands of troops and police — many of whom were allowed to vote on Monday so they could provide security on Wednesday — were safeguarding polling stations as Iraqis voted, according to the AP. Iraqi authorities closed the nation’s airspace and banned vehicles to limit the threat of car bombings.

Roughly 22 million people were registered to vote in the parliamentary elections, with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Shi‘ite party expected to win the most seats but come short of a majority. The final results will not be available for several weeks.

In central Baghdad, checkpoints were set up roughly every 460 m. Streets were largely deserted, and most stores were closed, the AP reports. Buses were used to ferry voters to the polls in parts of the city.

A surge in attacks last year led to the highest death toll since 2007, when President George W. Bush announced a surge of U.S. troops to quell worsening violence in Iraq.

[AP]

TIME Iraq

Violence, Strife Persist As Iraq Holds Elections

Deadly Sunni anti-voting attacks rock the Iraqi election.

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Sunni insurgents have claimed responsibility for a new series of deadly attacks apparently designed to discourage voting as Iraq holds its first parliamentary elections since U.S. troops pulled out of the country in 2011.

These violent anti-voting attacks have killed at least 160 people over the last week, the BBC reports. Sunni insurgents blame corruption, high unemployment and a rise in sectarian violence on Shi’ite party leader and current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Maliki’s alliance of Shi’ites are expected to win a majority in the election despite the violence.

TIME TIME 100

This Nun’s Incredible Speech Wowed a Roomful of VIPs

TIME 100 honoree Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe teaches abused "lost girls" to work through their pain and live with dignity.

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Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe of St. Monica’s Girls Tailoring School in northern Uganda has a simple mission. She takes in girls who were captured by Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and gives them the skills—and the hope—to keep living. Many of the girls have children born to the men who were their captors and many of them are deeply troubled by what they had to do while in the LRA. When they return to their communities with their children, they are shunned.

Sister Rosemary has built a school for these young women, where they learn to sew and cook and love their kids. There’s also a childcare center and a school for the children. Some of the children are actually the children of Joseph Kony, so Sister Rosemary has made sure that local kids also come to the school, so that all the children from the area grow up together and are integrated.

To fund all this Sister Rosemary gets the girls to make bags out of pop tabs, which she sells all over the world. Because of the thousands of otherwise forgotten girls she has helped, she was named to this year’s TIME 100 and it is at the gala that she made this amazing speech. Afterward, her table was flocked by dignitaries and celebrities wanting to meet her, including David Koch, Amy Adams and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

Sister Rosemary is also the subject of a new documentary and a book, Sewing Hope.

TIME

Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Are Now In Every Part of the World

A report by the World Health Organization found that drug-resistant strains of infections have emerged in every part of the world, which means that patients who pick up E. coli or pneumonia don’t have an effective way to control their illnesses

In a first-of-its-kind report, World Health Organization (WHO) announced today that bacterial infections that can’t be treated with the antibiotics of last resort have emerged in every part of the world, which means that patients who pick up E. coli, pneumonia or staph infections don’t have an effective way to control their illnesses. In some countries, more than half of people infected with K. pneumonia bacteria won’t respond to carbapenems. A similar percentage of patients with E. coli infections won’t be helped by taking fluoroquinolone antibiotics.

MORE: New Report Says FDA Allowed “High Risk” Antibiotics to Be Used on Farm Animals

The growth of drug-resistant strains of bacteria means infections are either harder or impossible to control, which could lead to quicker spread of diseases and higher death rates, especially among hospital patients. But even more concerning, say experts like Dr. Martin Blaser, director of the human microbiome program at the New York University Langone Medical Center and author of Missing Microbes, is how these antibiotics are affecting the makeup of both good and bad bacteria that live within us – our microbiome. “The first big cost of antibiotics is resistance,” he says. “But the other side of the coin is [the fact that] antibiotics are extinguishing our microbiome and changing human development.”

MORE: The Good Bugs: How the Germs in Your Body Keep You Healthy

By that, Blaser is referring to growing research that shows that the trillions of bacteria that live in and on our bodies play a critical role in our health. Bacteria and microbes aren’t always enemies of a healthy body, but can be allies as well, helping us to digest food, fight off disease-causing bugs, and more. Early studies suggest that different communities of bacteria in the gut, for example, may affect our risk of obesity and of developing certain cancers. Other intriguing work hints that babies born vaginally and are exposed to their mother’s reproductive tract flora, may develop different immune systems that better prepare them to combat allergens compared to those who are born via Cesarean section. But overuse of antibiotics is slowing wiping out the good bacteria with the bad, and that may have serious consequences for public health years from now, warns Blaser.

The WHO report highlights how individual decisions about prescribing antibiotics can have more widespread, even global consequences. “If I prescribe a heart medicine for a patient, that heart medicine is going to affect that patient,” says Blaser. “But if I prescribe an antibiotic, that antibiotic will affect the entire community to some degree. And the effect is cumulative.”

MORE: A Hidden Trigger of Obesity: Intestinal Bugs

The first step in pushing back, public health experts say, is to reduce our over-prescription of antibiotics for minor infections that don’t necessarily require them, and that applies to both people and food-producing animals such as poultry and livestock. Animals can harbor and pass on drug-resistant bacteria as well as people can, and expanded use of antibiotics in agriculture in recent years has contributed to the growth of more aggressive bugs. In the home, people can refrain from using antibacterial soaps, which also push bacteria to become resistant.

“What we urgently need is a solid global plan of action which provides for the rational use of antibiotics so that quality-assured antibiotics reach those who need them, but are not overused or priced beyond reach,” says Dr. Jennifer Cohn, medical director of Doctors Without Borders’ Access Campaign.

That may also help to protect our microbiomes, which in turn could slow the appearance of chronic diseases such as obesity, cancer and allergies. As the WHO findings show, antibiotic resistance is now everyone’s problem.

TIME TIME 100 Gala

Celebrities Mingle on the TIME 100 Red Carpet

The world's "most influential" mixed and mingled on the red carpet before Tuesday's TIME 100 gala

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It was an event unlike any other.

The stars were there — Amy Adams, Alfonso Cuarón, Seth Meyers, among others — but there were also scientists and athletes, political leaders and activists, artists, designers and musicians, entrepreneurs and moguls, writers and inventors. Together, they are the TIME 100, an eclectic mix of the most influential people in the world, gathered together for a single evening in New York City.

Watch them mix, mingle and make new friends as they came together on the red carpet.

TIME photography

Orangutan Exams and Rhino Soccer: The Most Surprising Photos of the Month

Ever seen an orangutan get a checkup? Or a rhino try to play soccer? What about a gentleman covered in bees? Yeah, neither have we -- until now. Here are the most surprising photos from the month of April.

TIME South Korea

South Korea Ferry Owners ‘Ignored Stability Problems’

South Korean Ferry
A vessel involved in salvage operations passes near the upturned South Korean ferry Sewol in the sea off Jindo April 17, 2014. Kim Kyung-Hoon—Reuters

The regular captain of the sunken Sewol ferry says it had shown repeated signs of instability before the April 16 disaster, pushing blame on the doomed ferry's owners as poor weather continues to hamper efforts to recover more than 90 bodies still believed to be inside

Warnings regarding the seaworthiness of the doomed South Korean ferry Sewol were ignored, prosecutors said Wednesday, as rescuers struggled to recover more than 90 bodies still trapped within the sunken ship’s hull.

AFP reports that the regular captain, who was not working on the vessel the day it sank, repeatedly warned the ferry owners of serious stability problems, according to senior prosecutor Yang Jong-jin.

While the confirmed death toll from the April 16 tragedy currently stands at 210, there are 92 people still missing and presumed dead. All 15 crew members who helped navigate the ship have been taken into custody, accused of negligence and failing to help passengers.

The day following the disaster, Kim Han-sik, the 71-year-old CEO of owning company Chonghaejin Marine, issued a tearful apology for the “horrible tragedy” and appeared to take responsibility along with his senior colleagues for the “grave sin” that allowed it to take place.

A total of 476 people were aboard the 6,825-ton Sewol, most of them high school students, when it began to list heavily and eventually capsized. The Japanese-made vessel had an extra deck added to its upper levels, and investigators wonder whether this adversely affected its stability.

[AFP]

TIME europe

Separatists Seize More Buildings in East Ukraine

A pro-Russian gunman guards an entrance of the Regional Prosecutor's Office building they seized on Tuesday in Luhansk, one of the largest cities in eastern, Ukraine, April 30, 2014.
A pro-Russian gunman guards an entrance of the Regional Prosecutor's Office building they seized on Tuesday in Luhansk, one of the largest cities in eastern, Ukraine, April 30, 2014. Alexander Zemlianichenko—;AP

Pro-Russian insurgents met little to no resistance in the city of Horlivka as they began to occupy administrative buildings, pushing Kiev to acknowledge on Wednesday that its police and security forces are "helpless" in quelling unrest in the restive eastern region

Update: 7:10 a.m. ET

Armed, pro-Russian gunmen continue to whittle away at Kiev’s grip over its eastern territories, occupying a number government buildings in the city of Horlivka on Wednesday morning.

“They’ve taken them. The government administration and police [buildings],” a police official from Donetsk told the Moscow Times. The seizure of the state buildings in Horlivka comes a day after separatist insurgents overran several others in the nearby city of Luhansk, capital of the easternmost Ukrainian province of the same name. Police reportedly put up little or no resistance to stop the rebels.

“The regional leadership does not control its police force,” Stanislav Rechynsky, an aide to Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, told Reuters. “The local police did nothing.” Luhansk is the second provincial capital in which rebel forces have acted with such impunity since the annexation of Crimea last month.

Ukraine’s interim President Oleksandr Turchynov said on Wednesday that the country’s security forces and police are “helpless” in quelling the unrest in two eastern regions that border Russia and that, in some cases, they are cooperating with the separatists who taken people hostage and seized government buildings. The new goal, he said, was avoid further agitation and the gunmen from infiltrating other parts of the east.

TIME TIME 100 Gala

‘Gravity’ Director Toasts Future Generations

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Deciding to refrain from toasting his mother because “my Oedipus is rampant” and he still needs his eyes in order to direct movies, Alfonso Cuarón turned his praise to generations yet to come as he raised his glass at the TIME 100 Gala in New York Tuesday evening.

“Every single real inspiration I have in life has been one that has not betrayed the purity and the innocence of the 15-year-old that I once was,” he said “The one who dared to believe that the impossible can happen.”

TIME TIME 100 Gala

The TIME 100 Gala in Two Minutes

Everything you need to know about the event of the year

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They are the artists, scientists, entrepreneurs, leaders, writers, activists and performers who most profoundly shape our world. And each year, TIME invites 100 of them to meet for an evening of conversation, laughter and music. Watch what happens when these “influentials” get together to share a meal and compare notes on what makes things tick.

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