TIME Opinion

Social Media Gossip Fuels Bigotry as U.K. Investigates Sex Abuse

Sir Cliff Richard seen arriving at Wimbledon on July 04, 2014 in London.
Sir Cliff Richard seen arriving at Wimbledon on July 04, 2014 in London. Alex Huckle—GC Images

Police search Brit pop star Cliff Richard's home in latest look at allegations of past abuse

The pop singer Cliff Richard seems not to have been the first person to learn on Thursday that police were searching his apartment in Berkshire, England, in response to allegations “of a sexual nature dating back to the 1980s [that] involved a young boy under the age of 16 years.” Richard issued a sharply worded denial, calling the allegations, that had circulated on social media for some time, completely false. “Up until now I have chosen not to dignify the false allegations with a response, as it would just give them more oxygen. However, the police attended my apartment in Berkshire today without notice, except, it would appear, to the press,” he said. Media camped outside the apartment published pictures of officers arriving at the premises and supplied further details alleging that the allegations related to a June 1985 rally held by the U.S. preacher Billy Graham in the northern English city of Sheffield.

Meanwhile, police stressed that the investigation was at a very early stage. That some commentators on social media chose to ignore such niceties is regrettable but not surprising. The courts of Facebook and Twitter have often shown themselves to harbor all the regard for evidence of a Salem magistrate prosecuting charges of witchcraft in 17th century Massachusetts. This tendency has been exacerbated in the U.K. by a series of horrifying revelations that started after the Oct. 2011 death of serial pedophile Jimmy Savile. The British TV personality had used his fame to shield himself against inquiry and abuse his many victims with impunity.

Operation Yewtree, the police investigation launched in response to the Savile scandal, expanded to look into a range of unrelated allegations of sexual abuse amid public outrage that the British establishment appeared to have turned a blind eye to crimes committed by its own. The police have already decided not to continue with inquiries into six people, some of them publicly named, because of lack of evidence. Other investigations and legal processes are under way and two have led to convictions, of the publicist Max Clifford and in June of this year of an Australian entertainer once beloved of British audiences, Rolf Harris. Separate inquiries are in train into a swirl of allegations linking Cyril Smith, a former MP who died in 2010, to a Westminster pedophile ring and abuse in schools from the 1960s through several decades. The officers who searched Cliff Richard’s house are part of another investigation again. Having failed for so long, the authorities seem intent on revisiting the past to try to make amends.

Justice served late is better than no justice; any halfway credible allegation of abuse should be investigated, however old and whether or not its target is famous and, like Savile, lauded for charitable works by Prime Ministers and royals. Yet increasingly the focus on possible historical abuse carries uncomfortable resonances, not cleansing but prurient, and feeding into narratives that seek to question lifestyles that fail to fit outdated models of the nuclear family. “This isn’t good news for single older men like me,” said a taxi driver listening to a news bulletin about the search of Richard’s property.

Richard never married. That fact shouldn’t be regarded as any meaningful guide to his sexuality, much less an implication of criminal behavior. But the phrase “unmarried”, frequently deployed as a euphemism for gay, has been freshly endowed with unsavory connotations too, by the focus on unmarried Savile (who turned out to have a predilection for girls though his victims also included boys) and unmarried Smith (whose alleged victims were boys). What is relevant is not whether these victims were male or female but that they were in many cases underaged and that Savile and Smith expertly used positions of power to behave as predators. But instead, each new revelation provokes public reactions that are not only misguided but dangerous. “I always knew there was something wrong with Savile,” Britons are much given to remarking. Well, maybe, but Savile’s single state was no more a reliable signifier of his criminal activities than was his flamboyant dress sense.

There are many things about Cliff Richard that some people find a little unsettling: his amortal determination to hang on to the appearance of youth, the bizarre calendar poses, the relentlessly chirpy public persona, the evangelistic tendencies. These do not mark him out as a guilty man any more than his evangelism—he told a Sheffield newspaper after the Billy Graham event “I go wherever Christians invite me to speak about Jesus. It’s a platform I’ve been given by God”—provides a guarantee of god-fearing behavior.

Sure, social attitudes in the U.K. and many other countries have transformed. We are far more accepting of difference, not least because difference has become the norm, with fewer heterosexual couples marrying or staying married or having children and many more people living in same-sex relationships or alone for a wide variety of reasons. But these changes, and attempts by governments to recognize them, continue to provoke backlashes too. The gay community is one group that has suffered, as strident opponents of same-sex marriage on both sides of the Atlantic have ridiculously and deliberately conflated gay and lesbian relationships with criminality. And unfortunately, when 60 Texas lawmakers claim same-sex marriage could encourage pedophilia and bigamy, or when British peer and former Cabinet minister Norman Tebbit suggests such unions risk opening the door to incest, there are receptive audiences for their views.

Stonewall, a British organization campaigning against discrimination, has been concerned by the intersecting hostilities unleashed in the aftermath of Savile and during the debate on gay marriage (which became legal in the U.K. in March). “It’s deeply damaging and dangerous to make unfounded comparisons between pedophilia and homosexuality. Lesbian, gay and bisexual people still face daily discrimination. Those who falsely link loving, committed relationships between adults of the same sex and paedophilia only seek to further stigmatise gay people,” says Stonewall’s Richard Lane.

The lesson of Savile and the other investigations his case has inspired must be to listen to victims, not to make more victims by judging people on superficial grounds and creating room for bigots.

TIME space

A Satellite Took Pictures of Another Satellite and Now It’s a GIF

The launch of DigitalGlobe's WorldView-3 is seen from Vandenberg Air Force Base on Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014.
The launch of DigitalGlobe's WorldView-3 is seen from Vandenberg Air Force Base on Aug. 13, 2014. DigitalGlobe

Well, this is pretty meta

A series of pictures provided to TIME by DigitalGlobe shows what kind of fun you can have when you own multiple satellites.

The images captured the launch of the company’s newest satellite launching into orbit this past Wednesday.

The new WorldView-3 satellite, worth roughly a half-billion dollars and about the size of a small RV, became the highest-resolution commercial satellite in space. DigitalGlobe, the company that funded its manufacture, said it will offer 31-centimeter resolution, much clearer than the current 50-cm aboard the WorldView-2.

Technology aboard the new satellite will, among other things, supply Google Maps with higher resolution photos for “satellite view.”

The satellite that shot the photos was flying at an altitude of over 300 miles, according to DigitalGlobe, and orbiting at a speed of 17,000 mph.

Video of the launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California can be seen below.

TIME Iraq

Haider al-Abadi, Iraq’s Likely Next Leader, Has the World’s Toughest Job

Outgoing Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-Maliki, alongside his designated successor Haidar al-Abadi, delivering a speech in which he announced withdrawing his candidacy for a third term in a photo released Aug. 14, 2014,
Outgoing Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-Maliki, alongside his designated successor Haidar al-Abadi, delivering a speech in which he announced withdrawing his candidacy for a third term in a photo released Aug. 14, 2014, Iraqi Prime Minister's Office/AFP/Getty Images

With divisive Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki finally stepping down, Iraq looks to a new leader. But can he knit his country back together?

Few in Iraq this morning were mourning the loss of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who stepped down Thursday night after months of domestic and international pressure.

“We are thirsty for change. We had this government since 2003 and still it’s not united. We want someone now who can unite Iraq,” said Ammar Al-Jaf, watching al-Maliki’s resignation re-run on television in his barbershop in Erbil. A Sunni who grew up in Baghdad, like many here, he says al-Maliki favored his own Shiite—sect and in so doing deepened divisions between the people of Iraq.

Even in refugee camps, filled with Iraqis who fled the Islamic State of Iraq and greater Syria (ISIS) in June, there were calls for al-Maliki to step down. Many displaced Iraqis said they fled because they feared being caught up in battles between Iraqi government troops and ISIS, but still preferred the rule of the Islamist militants to al-Maliki’s Shiite-first agenda.

File photo of Haider Abadi at a news conference in Baghdad
Haider al-Abadi at a news conference in Baghdad in July 2014. Ahmed Saad—Reuters

The hope now is that Haider al-Abadi, a veteran Shiite lawmaker and the man named to replace al-Maliki, will be able to bring Iraq’s divided political factions together. “Al-Abadi promised to support dialogue with the Sunnis and said that he will consult Kurdish and Sunni factions,” said Sarmad al-Taee an Iraqi journalist and commentator. He argues that al-Maliki ran Iraq and his own Al-Dawa party with orders rather than discourse, alienating Kurds, Sunni and eventually his own Shiite sect.

This feeling of disenfranchisement among Sunnis may have helped ISIS claim, and hold, swathes of Iraqi territory. The well-armed Sunni tribes of Nineveh province and west to the Syrian border could have turned the tide against ISIS, but there was little incentive to fight for a government they felt has sidelined their needs for years. On top of that, many Sunnis and Kurds argue al-Maliki stacked what should have been a non-partisan, non-sectarian army with politically appointed, often Shiite commanders, turning the Iraqi national forces in to his own private militia. That army proved weak and thousands of Iraqi soldiers simply dropped their weapons and fled in June as ISIS fighters approached.

“In every country the military should be separate from the government,” said Al-Jaf. “But al-Maliki used the military to serve himself. The army should serve the country and the people. He filled all the military’s with high positions from his family.”

Now, there is heavy pressure from inside Iraq, regional leaders and the U.S. to dismantle the sectarianism that has fractured the country and left it vulnerable to ISIS. Al-Taee, who is from Basra, says many Shiite leaders now understand this and will push for more inclusive politics under the new government. “If al-Abadi doesn’t do this he will be considered weak and the other party leaders will sack him,” he said, noting that a failure on this front could cause the international community to withdraw diplomatic and military support. “The Shiites now know the importance of dialogue and they don’t want to make the same mistake as before.”

But it may be too late. The mistakes by al-Maliki’s government have further exacerbated the divisions in an already fractured country and may have made the disintegration of Iraq all but inevitable. Many here now talk of dividing the country into Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish territories. Since the start of the crisis with ISIS sectarian calls to arms have intensified on both sides of the Sunni-Shiite divide. The task ahead for al-Abadi will not be an easy one.

“If he can build a strong Iraq and share equally with all the people of Iraq, the people will support him and we can defeat ISIS,” said Irfan Ali, an engineer from Kurdish city of Sulaymaniyah. Getting the Sunni masses and tribes back on board for a national government will be key. But even if the Sunnis give their support, Shiites and Kurds may be hesitant to provide them with arms to fight ISIS—worried about where those guns will be pointed once the militants are defeated.

For their part, the Kurds have kept their distance with the central government, and are now engaged with ISIS themselves. They have been in conflict with Baghdad for months over power sharing and oil exports resulting in the central government halting transfer payments to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in January. “We have been clear that we are not just looking for a change in the faces in the government,” said Falah Mustafa Bakir who heads the KRG’s Department of Foreign Relations. “We want a change in the power sharing arrangement and a more inclusive government.”

Amid the chaos created by the ISIS invasion, the Kurds have managed to secure contested territories, such as Kirkuk, and have inched closer to independence. Last month, Kurdish President Massoud Barzani said that he will hold a referendum on Kurdish sovereignty, a decades-old goal of the Kurdish people.

It’s not clear what a new prime minister could offer the Sunnis and Kurds to bring them back into the political fold with Baghdad. But leaders in Iraq seem hopeful, though cautious. “This is the start of process,” said Bakir. “But we need to wait and see. We shouldn’t be too optimistic.”

TIME diplomacy

Reports: Germany Recorded Hillary Clinton Conversation

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI) to launch a community campaign to encourage parents to talk, sing and read to their young children in Oakland, Calif on July 23, 2014.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI) to launch a community campaign to encourage parents to talk, sing and read to their young children in Oakland, Calif on July 23, 2014. AP

The revelation is a potential embarrassment to Angela Merkel, who has decried American spying

German intelligence agents intercepted and recorded Hillary Clinton in conversation as she traveled aboard a United States government plane while she was Secretary of State to Barack Obama, three German media outlets reported Friday. Agents intercepted the conversation “by accident,” according to reports citing unnamed government sources by broadcasters NDR and WDR, along with the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

The revelation was among the more than 200 documents that a German spy, identified only as “Markus R.”, allegedly passed to the CIA.

The news, which comes as relations between the U.S. and Germany have soured over allegations that the U.S. spied on German Chancellor Angela Merkel, has the potential to embarrass the German government. As recently as last month, Merkel condemned alleged U.S. spying on Germany, stating, “I would see this as a clear contradiction to what I understand as trusting cooperation of intelligence services as well as of partners.”

U.S. officials, including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and White House Chief of Staff of Denis McDonough, have allegedly confronted their German counterparts on the recording.

The specific time and location of the recording remain unclear.

[NDR]

TIME

War Claims Thousands of Lives in Eastern Ukraine

As developments at the MH17 crash site have slowed, fighting in Eastern Ukraine has increased. According to the United Nations human rights office, the death toll from the Ukraine conflict doubled last week from 1,129 on July 26 to 2,086 on Aug. 10. Heavy shelling between the Ukrainian military forces and pro-Russian separatists continues, trapping civilians in the middle. Residents in and around the major cities of Donetsk and Luhansk find their lives interrupted as the military tries to regain control of two of its largest cities.

TIME stock market

Dow Drops 100 Points on News of Ukraine Violence

Reports say the Ukrainian military destroyed Russian vehicles

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped more than 100 points Friday on reports that the Ukrainian military destroyed Russian military vehicles that entered into Ukraine. Investors are concerned about further escalation.

Russian military vehicles carrying aid entered Ukraine over night following a days-long standoff over whether the more than 200 vehicles could enter the country, CNBC reports. The Ukrainian military destroyed the vehicles as they crossed, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s told British Prime Minister David Cameron by phone.

“The President informed that the given information was trustworthy and confirmed because the majority of that machines had been eliminated by the Ukrainian artillery at night,” read a statement on Poroshenko’s website.

The decline around noon Eastern time erased earlier Friday morning gains on news that Coca-Cola had bought a $2 billion stake in Monster. Markets around the world declined similarly.

[CNBC]

TIME Pictures of the Week

Pictures of the Week: Aug. 8 – Aug. 15

From the tragic death of Robin Williams and violent riots in Ferguson, Mo. to a balloon festival in Bristol and a dog show in Helsinki, TIME presents the best pictures of the week.

TIME Military

Pentagon Taps Crowdsourcing to Chart Future Threats

The Pentagon is already crowdsourcing weapons design. Now it's going to use it to help develop U.S. national security strategy. DARPA

Reaching out to multitudes online to determine how to best prevent and wage tomorrow’s wars

Think the Pentagon was ill-prepared and stumbled after it invaded Iraq and Afghanistan? Think you could have drafted a better war plan?

Well, the U.S. Department of Defense may agree with you. That’s why it said late Thursday that it’s seeking a “crowd-sourcing entity,” mostly likely a contractor, to chart “the types of future challenges to national security for which the President of the United States would expect U.S. armed forces to have the ability to address.”

The Pentagon wants the winning bidder to brainstorm online with “a large and diverse group of people collaborating in real time” to improve how the nation prepares for, and fights, its wars.

Crowdsourcing is the 21st Century’s version of putting our heads together, via the Internet, to tackle a problem and come up with the best solution. Instead of a handful of experts—war-planners, for example—it relies on a constellation of thousands or more individuals, often unpaid, who funnel their ideas into a central clearinghouse, where the optimum ones supposedly float to the surface.

The military is already using crowdsourcing on a more limited scale, to design a next-generation combat vehicle and considering its potential to help track nuclear proliferation.

But this latest proposal could put crowdsourcing’s fruits inside the Tank, the top-secret Pentagon lair where the nation’s senior generals and admirals train, equip and conduct the nation’s wars.

The Defense Department stresses that the crowdsourcerer it hires will only “enhance the Department’s understanding of the future security environment” and won’t actually be drafting war plans. But it’s encouraging creative thinking: “An understanding of a range of alternative futures and the types of national security challenges they may present is necessary to inform strategy development and force planning analysis within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense [for] Policy.”

The Pentagon wants the “crowd-sourcing entity” to produce these three “Performance Objectives”:

a. Identify alternative futures and global and regional security environments in the 2020-2025 timeframe that considers military, sociological, economic, scientific, technological, and environmental trends and potential shocks with implications for the Department.

b. Generate innovative scenarios that present pathways to a crisis or conflict that is antithetical to U.S. national security interests. Scenarios will provide a narrative description that captures a representative potential future national security challenge and includes the following key elements: identity of key actors, their interests and objectives, primary drivers to conflict and rationale for key actors’ decision-making and actions, key capabilities they could use in a crisis or conflict, description of representative activities they would take (i.e., the manner in which they would use their capabilities to achieve their objectives), and role of third parties. Scenarios should remain within the bounds of plausibility.

c. Develop and provide quick-turn analyses exploring the implications for the Department on new and/or potentially game-changing military capabilities of the adversary identified in the alternative futures environment and/or the innovative scenarios to inform the development of alternative strategies and force planning options to mitigate the impacts of the capabilities.

“There is no requirement for the work to be conducted at the Pentagon,” the solicitation adds, “with the exception of periodic briefings of deliverables as stated in the Performance Objectives.”

If you’re interested in helping hone the nation’s future war-fighting environment, you’d better get cracking. The Pentagon is seeking a three-year deal beginning next month, and the deadline to apply is Sept. 4. “A written notice of award or acceptance of an offer, mailed or otherwise furnished to the successful offeror within the time for acceptance specified in the offer, shall result in a binding contract without further action by either party,” the Pentagon adds. The winner will not have access to classified information, which could help things.

The solicitation warns that it may reject any bidder whose offer “is evaluated to be unrealistic in terms of program commitments, including contract terms and conditions, or unrealistically high or low in cost/price when compared to Government estimates, such that the proposal is deemed to reflect an inherent lack of competence or failure to comprehend the complexity and risks of the program.”

“An inherent lack of competence or failure to comprehend the complexity and risks of the program?” Talk about unilateral disarmament. Such a requirement would have kept the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq on the drawing boards.

TIME Security

Apple to Store User Data in China

China said to exclude Apple from procurement list
Young Chinese customers try out iPad 4 tablet computers at a branch of China Mobile in Chongqing, China, 31 December 2012. Chen jianhua— Imaginechina

For Chinese users

Apple confirmed Friday that is has begun storing user data in servers located in China, a first for the company and a shift from the recent trend of tech firms moving servers out of China due to censorship and other concerns.

The data belongs to Chinese users and is being stored in encrypted form on servers provided by China Telecom Corp, which will not have access to password keys needed to decrypt the information, the Wall Street Journal reports. User data will include pictures, email and other information stored in Apple’s iCloud service—the company says servers located closer to users will make service faster.

The move stands in contrast to Google’s decision in 2010 to move all its services out of mainland China and into Hong Kong after the company declined to comply with a Chinese government censorship order.

“Apple takes user security and privacy very seriously,” the company said in a statement to the Journal. “We have added China Telecom to our list of data center providers to increase bandwidth and improve performance for our customers in mainland China.”

The move has raised concerns about Apple’s ability, or commitment, to keep user data secure. The country has a history of playing rough with tech firms, including firms based in the United States. In 2005, Yahoo drew fire for complying with a Chinese data request that landed a Chinese journalist in prison. In July, Chinese authorities raided the offices of Microsoft in four cities across China in an anti-monopoly investigation.

[WSJ]

TIME Infectious Disease

West Africans Banned from Some Youth Olympics Events Over Ebola Fears

Taicheng Garden in Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province, Aug. 14, 2014.
Taicheng Garden in Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province, Aug. 14, 2014. Xinhua/Sipa USA

Three athletes will not be able to participate in pool sports or combat sports during the 2014 Youth Olympic Games

Young athletes from West Africa will be prohibited from participating in certain events at the Youth Olympics, organizers said Friday, in an effort to protect all participants from the Ebola outbreak in the region.

The games are set to kick off this Saturday and run until Aug. 28 in Nanjing, China.

Athletes from West Africa, where Ebola has spread rapidly over the past several weeks, will have their temperature and wellbeing checked throughout the 12-day games. The prohibition will also directly impact three West African athletes who will not be allowed to compete in combat sports and events in the pool to prevent potential infection.

“We regret that due to this issue some young athletes may have suffered twice, both from the anguish caused by the outbreak in their home countries and by not being able to compete in the Youth Olympic Games,” the International Olympic Committee and the Nanjing Youth Olympic Organizing Committee said in a joint statement. The committees also said countries are free to decide on their own whether or not to attend.

The Olympic committees said the World Health Organization had been working with the Chinese government in preparation for the games in light of the largest Ebola outbreak in history, but that these policies will serve as an extra precaution.

The Youth Olympic games started in 2010 and are held every four years.

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