TIME Hong Kong

The Main Hong Kong Protest Site Is a Perfect Anarchist Collective

HONG KONG-CHINA-POLITICS-DEMOCRACY
ANTHONY WALLACE—AFP/Getty Images Members of the Occupied movement rest in their tents on a highway blocked by protestor barricades in the Admiralty district of Hong Kong on October 16, 2014.

There are no leaders, but everything, from the supply tents to the recycling stations, runs just beautifully

Billy Fong is out of a job.

Until recently, this high school student had found a purpose helping Hong Kong’s demonstrators over the high median dividers cutting through their encampment in the city’s Admiralty district.

Yet, as the occupation of Harcourt Road enters its fourth week, getting over the concrete walls has become easy: protesters handy with tools have made several sets of wooden stairs for them, complete with handrails.

“I have somehow become useless,” says Fong, 17, standing idly at one such set of steps on a recent evening. “But it’s okay,” he said, shrugging his shoulders. “Now I have more leisure time.”

Call Fong’s job a casualty of this protest’s maturation from an uncertain settlement to a bona fide village—a transformation that smacks of pure anarchism. Not anarchy, meaning chaos, but classical political anarchism: a self-organizing community that has no leader.

Protesters in Hong Kong share a common goal of getting Beijing to agree to free elections for the Hong Kong government’s top job in 2017 (at the moment, Beijing is insisting on screening candidates). But no one is fully in charge of these demonstrations, and protesters are split over how to get their demand answered. A lack of leadership is widely cited as one reason why the conflict has not come to a resolution.

Yet leaderlessness has not stopped Hong Kong demonstrators from achieving social consensus at their biggest protest site in skyscraper-hemmed Harcourt Road (or Umbrella Square, as the protesters now call it). These days, the six-lane thoroughfare turned tent community is a microcosm of the city that hosts it except for one detail: it does not have a chief executive, as Hong Kong’s leader is called.

“We don’t have a central command to do anything,” says Daris Wong, 30, a paralegal manning a Cantonese-English interpretation booth, the latest in his string of self-appointed protest gigs.

“It’s maybe the not so good thing about these protests,” he says, “but it’s also the most beautiful thing.”

Over the past few days, Harcourt Road has acquired suburbs of camping tents. Most tents have numbers. Some are recognized addresses. A letter was recently delivered by the Hong Kong Post Office to tent 22, according to the Democratic Party’s Facebook page.

Protesters need not bring their own accommodation. Last Friday, Pat, a freelance graphic designer who declined to give her last name, opened registration at 8:30 p.m. for 67 tents donated to the supplies station she helps run. The assembled tents are called the Freedom Quarter, she said, handing a young couple waiting in line a list of rules: cleanliness is a must; checkout time is noon on Saturday.

Protesters bedding-in will find their stay clean, if not necessarily comfortable. Do-gooders ensure that public restrooms around the site are stocked with a mind-boggling assortment of toiletries, from face moisturizer to conditioning shampoo, many of them designer brands. Student volunteers mop out the facilities too, because the municipal cleaners can’t keep pace with the high numbers of people passing through the washrooms every day.

Roving trash collectors meanwhile bring waste to designated recycling areas, where the items are sorted and carted out to the city’s trash-collection stations.

“I saw that it wasn’t being done, and someone has to do it,” says Henry Ip, 23, a college student making one of his twice-daily rounds through the site with a plastic trash bag.

Meanwhile, supply tents — there are several around Harcourt Road — have become bursting emporiums of water, towels, face masks, Oreo cookies and McDonalds takeout.

“It’s messy because I just got here,” says Isaac Hung, 24, a law student who works an informal day shift at one such station, gesturing to a sprawl of snacks and medical supplies. “Every shift, I fix it, and then I come back, and it’s all messy again.”

Hung’s supplies tent has two couches, mats that suffice as carpeting, and lighting fashioned from flashlights and saline solution bottles. A walkie-talkie on the floor crackles insistently. Supply stations use them to call on each other if one runs out of something

Conservation and consideration rule this camp. Wong, the paralegal, says he often tries to pass out lunchboxes to protesters, only to be turned down: “They say, ‘Save it for someone who needs it more,’” Wong says.

“So then I say, ‘O.K., but if you don’t take it, I will give it to the police,’” he adds. “Then, they take it.” As he speaks, students sitting in a sprawling study zone that the protesters have outfitted with desks, lamps, and power outlets, politely decline a volunteer stooping to offer them tiny cakes.

Like any village, this one also has its resident oddballs. One taciturn protester, wearing a skull-print ski mask pulled up to his eyes, passes plastic cups of soup to passerby. Glass bottles of beer bob inside in his big blue cooler. His area, furnished with a vase of sunflowers, is just one photographic opportunity for visitors wandering the protest village.

Art abounds, much of it inspired by the umbrellas that became the symbol of the movement after protesters used them to shield themselves from police pepper spray. There’s a tall statue of a figure holding out an umbrella that’s become the subject of countless Instagrams. A short distance away are exhibitions of photography and ink drawings. Tourists love to gather for photos in front of a long staircase leading up to the Central Government Offices that has become plastered with thousands of brightly colored Post-It notes, each bearing a message of support for the protesters. It’s been christened the Lennon Wall.

Not that life is always colorful here. Prominent pro-democracy figures — in fact anyone with something to say — give frequent lectures to considerable crowds, but “sometimes people get tired of public speeches,” says Ivy Chan, 40, a staffer for a Labor Party legislator and the organizer of nightly documentary screenings. She briefly interrupted a Friday night showing to let the sleepy-looking, supine crowd know she had found someone’s heart disease pills.

Meanwhile, a group of law students manning a tent for legal discussions were finding the hoped-for debates stymied by general agreement among those who stopped in. As Tilly Chow, 19, put it, “the people who are really against us aren’t here, and they don’t want to know what we have to say.” By midnight, the collective had drawn its tent door closed to discuss boiling a 60-something page legal analysis of the situation into something more concise.

Elsewhere, tents were faintly lit with the glow of Facebook’s smartphone app. A young man took a photo on his iPad of a young woman popping her head out of their newly erected tent and waited as she approved the pictures. Many people were already asleep, or at least trying.

Protesters, weathering criticism from conservative Hong Kongers and business owners tired of protests clogging major traffic arteries, have emphasized that this demonstration is not a jubilant sleepover. A sign posted in the main encampment reads: “Not a Party, is a Protest.”

Indeed, as midnight neared, three young women paused at a quiet, unclaimed plot of pavement and began unspooling tarp from a bag, looking anything but party-ready.

“This is not fun,” says Tracy Leung, 28, who works for a retail chain, holding a corner of the rumpled canvas, which she hoped would eventually be a tent, but did not yet look like one.

“No one likes to sleep on the street,” added her colleague, Carol Lee, 26.

But they had a critical role to play in this village, the three friends said.

“I’m here as one more body,” said Leung. “Because for every one less body here, it gets more dangerous for everyone else.”

TIME Syria

U.S. Aircraft Resupply Kurdish Fighters Battling ISIS in Kobani

TURKEY-SYRIA-CONFLICT-KURDS
Bulent Kilic — AFP/Getty Images Kurdish people watch jet-fighters fly over Kobani from the Turkish border in the southeastern village of Mursitpinar on October 19, 2014.

Kurdish troops on the ground in northern Syria appear to be gaining the upper hand against ISIS with the help of American air strikes

U.S. aircraft delivered weapons, ammunition and medical supplies to Kurdish forces in the besieged Syrian border town of Kobani who’ve been battling the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) for more than a month.

American C-130s made multiple airdrops over the embattled city on Sunday and met no resistance from ISIS forces on the ground, according to officials.

“These airdrops were conducted in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to degrade and defeat the terrorist group [ISIS] and the threat they pose to the region and the wider international community,” read a statement released by U.S. Central Command late Sunday.

During a conference call on Sunday night, a senior administration official confirmed that the White House had given the green light for the operation in order to provide the embattled Kurdish militia forces with the badly needed supplies.

“The President determined to take this action now,” the official told reporters.

To date, coalition aircraft have launched 135 air strikes targeting ISIS forces in Kobani. The aerial onslaught is believed to have helped reverse the battlefield momentum in favor of the Kurdish fighters holed up near the Turkish border.

Hundreds of ISIS fighters have been killed as a result of the air raids, thus allowing Kurdish forces to begin pushing the Sunni extremist group outside the city. However, scattered ISIS fighters are believed to be holding out in pockets of Kobani.

“[ISIS] is going to suffer significant losses for its focus on Kobani,” said the administration official.

The reinforcement of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), as they’re known locally, by U.S. aircraft is likely to infuriate officials across the border in Turkey. Ankara has repeatedly refused to allow Kurdish reinforcements to enter Kobani because of the YPG’s ties to separatist rebels inside Turkey.

— With reporting by Zeke Miller / Washington

TIME indonesia

Joko Widodo Sworn In as Indonesia’s President and Faces These 5 Challenges

Incoming Indonesian President Joko Widodo visits Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
Anadolu Agency—Getty Images Incoming Indonesian President Joko Widodo, left, is greeted by outgoing president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono during a visit at the presidential palace in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Oct. 19, 2014.

The political outsider will be under fierce pressure from the outset

On Oct. 20, Indonesia inaugurates its first President truly of the people. Joko Widodo, known commonly as Jokowi, is unique in Indonesian presidential history because he comes from neither a politically elite nor a military background. Raised in a riverside slum, Jokowi ran a furniture-exporting business in the heartland city of Solo before he successfully ran for his hometown’s mayor in 2005. Two years ago, he was elected governor of Indonesia’s chaotic capital, Jakarta. Although he prevailed in the July presidential election against old-guard candidate Prabowo Subianto — a former general once married to the daughter of Indonesian dictator Suharto — Jokowi, 53, faces numerous challenges as he helms the world’s third largest democracy:

Political Gridlock: Jokowi may have claimed the presidency, but parliament favors Prabowo’s Red and White Coalition, which last month controversially blocked the direct election of governors, mayors and district chiefs. Instead of a popular vote, local legislatures will pick these leaders, preventing the rise of figures outside the political establishment, like Jokowi. Democracy advocates are strategizing how to roll back what some criticize as a legislative coup.

Economic Slowdown: With the commodity boom waning, Indonesia’s recent 6% annual growth looks harder to maintain. Jokowi promises 7% growth by 2018 by moving Indonesia up the value chain, improving logistics and positioning the world’s largest archipelago nation as a global transport hub. But will the populist President resort to the kind of resource nationalism that will spook foreign investors?

Religious Extremism: Indonesia hasn’t suffered a major terrorist strike since 2009 when a pair of luxury Jakarta hotels were targeted by suicide bombers. But it only takes one attack to shatter the sense that Indonesia has tamed a band of radicals who are trying to hijack the moderate, syncretic Islam that has long flourished in the world’s most populous majority-Muslim nation.

Dirty Bureaucracy: Jokowi won votes because of his pristine image and his anti-corruption campaign in Solo and Jakarta. He boasts of having cleaned up the once graft-ridden process by which government permits and licenses were granted. And he helped expand government coffers by enhancing tax collection. Can Jokowi promote transparency in a country notorious for corruption and bureaucratic inefficiency at every level of government?

Ethnic Relations: While mayor of Solo and governor of Jakarta, Jokowi picked deputies who happened to be Christian. In Jakarta, his No. 2 was also Chinese, an ethnicity that has suffered from race rioting. Although the sprawling island nation has maintained remarkable harmony given the diversity of its inhabitants, human-rights groups worry about a recent uptick in ethnic and religious intolerance.

Read this week’s TIME cover on Jokowi’s inauguration here.

TIME ebola

Nigeria Is Ebola-Free: Here’s What They Did Right

It's been 42 days since the last new case

The World Health Organization declared Nigeria free of Ebola on Monday, a containment victory in an outbreak that has stymied other countries’ response efforts.

The milestone came at about 11 a.m. local time, or 6 a.m., E.T. The outbreak has killed more than 4,500 in West Africa is remains unchecked in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, so Nigeria is by no means immune to another outbreak.

“It’s possible to control Ebola. It’s possible to defeat Ebola. We’ve seen it here in Nigeria,” Nigerian Minister of Health Onyebuchi Chukwu told TIME. “If any cases emerge in the future, it will be considered—by international standards—a separate outbreak. If that happens, Nigeria will be ready and able to confront it exactly as we have done with this outbreak.”

For the WHO to declare Nigeria as Ebola-free, the country had to make it 42 days with no new cases (double the incubation period), verify that it actively sought out all possible contacts, and show negative test results for any suspected cases.

Nigeria had 20 cases of Ebola after a Liberian-American man named Patrick Sawyer flew into Lagos and collapsed at the airport. Health care workers treating Sawyer were infected, and as it spread it ultimately killed eight people, a low number next to the thousands of cases and deaths in other countries. Nigeria’s health system is considered more robust, but there was significant concern from experts that a case would pop up in one of the country’s dense-populated slums and catch fire.

So what did Nigeria do right? Chukwu and Dr. Faisal Shuaib of the country’s Ebola Emergency Operation Center, broke it down for TIME.

Preparing early. Nigeria knew it was possible a case of Ebola would make it into the country, so officials got to work early by training health care workers on how to manage the disease, and disseminating information so the country knew what to expect.

Declaring an emergency—right away. When Nigeria had its first confirmed case of Ebola, the government declared a national public health emergency immediately. This allowed the Ministry of Health to form its Ebola Emergency Operations Center (EOC). The EOC is an assembly of public health experts within Nigeria as well as the WHO, Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and groups like Doctors Without Borders. “[We] used a war-room approach to coordinate the outbreak response,” Shuaib said. “So you have a situation whereby government and staff of international development agencies are co-located in a designated facility where they are able to agree on strategies, develop one plan and implement this plan together.”

The EOC was in charge of contact tracing (the process of identifying and monitoring people who may have had direct or indirect contact with Ebola patients), implementing strict procedures for handling and treating patients, screening all individuals arriving or departing the country by land, air and sea, and communicating with the community. Some workers went door-to-door to offer Ebola-related education, and others involved religious and professional leaders. Social media was a central part of the education response.

Training local doctors. Nigerian doctors were trained by Doctors Without Borders and WHO, and treated patients in shifts with their oversight.

Managing fear. “Expectedly, people were scared of contracting the disease,” Shuaib said. “In the beginning, there was also some misinformation about available cures, so fear and inaccurate rumors had to be actively managed.” Nigeria used social media to to ramp up awareness efforts, and publicized patients who were successfully treated and discharged. “People began to realize that contracting Ebola was not necessarily a death sentence,” Shuai said. “Emphasizing that reporting early to the hospital boosts survival gave comfort that [a person] has some level of control over the disease prognosis.”

Keeping borders open. Nigeria has not closed its borders to travelers from Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, saying the move would be counterproductive. “Closing borders tends to reinforce panic and the notion of helplessness,” Shuaib said. “When you close the legal points of entry, then you potentially drive people to use illegal passages, thus compounding the problem.” Shuaib said that if public health strategies are implemented, outbreaks can be controlled, and that closing borders would only stifle commercial activities in the countries whose economies are already struggling due to Ebola.

Remaining prepared for more patients. Even though this outbreak was contained, Nigeria is not slowing down its training and preparations for the possibility of more cases. “Outbreak response preparedness is a continuous process that requires constant review of the level of the response mechanisms in place to ensure that the health system is ready to jump into action at all levels,” Shuaib said. “There is no alternative to preparedness.”

Advocating for more international response. “The global community needs to consistently come together, act as one in any public health emergency, whether it is Ebola or a natural disaster.” Shuaib said. “While a lot has been done, it still falls short of what is necessary to get ahead of the curve. We must act now, not tomorrow, not next week.”

Read next: Dozens Who Had Contact With the First U.S. Ebola Patient Are in the Clear

TIME ebola

Canada Shipping Experimental Ebola Vaccine to Curb Outbreak

Liberia Races To Expand Ebola Treatment Facilities, As U.S. Troops Arrive
John Moore—Getty Images U.S. Navy microbiologist Lt. Jimmy Regeimbal handles a vaccine box with blood samples while testing for Ebola at the U.S. Navy mobile laboratory on October 5, 2014 near Gbarnga, Liberia.

The vaccine is being tested on humans, Canadian authorities say

Canada will begin shipping an experimental Ebola vaccine to the World Health Organization in Geneva on Monday, the government announced Saturday, with the hope of addressing the current outbreak of the deadly virus.

The effects of the vaccine in animals have been “promising,” Canadian authorities said. The vaccine is just beginning to be tested on human subjects in order to determine the safety of the vaccine and the dosage required to stimulate a person’s immune system into producing the proper antibodies.

Canada is sending 800 vials of experimental Ebola vaccine contained at -80 degrees celsius in three separate shipments via aircraft to the WHO in Geneva. Canada’s Public Health Agency is supplying it to the WHO so it can be used as an “international resource.”

“This vaccine, the product of many years of scientific research and innovation, could be an important tool in curbing the outbreak,” said Dr. Gregory Taylor, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada.

TIME Bermuda

Bermuda Faces ‘Extensive’ Damage From Gonzalo

Bermuda Tropical Weather
David Skinner—AP An uprooted tree lies across a street in Hamilton, Bermuda, Saturday Oct. 18, 2014 after Hurricane Gonzalo hit the island.

Tens of thousands in Bermuda were without power early Saturday after Hurricane Gonzalo ripped across the island with 110 mph winds, downing trees and causing untold damage. Weather improved as dawn broke and Gonzalo moved away from the island.

Damage from Gonzalo — the strongest Atlantic hurricane since Igor in 2010 — was believed to be widespread but authorities were waiting for daylight to assess the full extent of it, a spokeswoman from Bermuda’s Emergency Measures Organization told Reuters…

Read the rest of the story at NBC News

TIME Syria

Kobani Struggles Amid Medicine and Food Shortages

Turkish Kurds watch smoke rises over Syrian town of Kobani after an airstrike, as seen from the Mursitpinar border crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border
Kai Pfaffenbach—Reuters Turkish Kurds watch as smoke rises over the Syrian town of Kobani after an airstrike, October 18, 2014.

One local describes how some trapped residents have been forced to break into the houses of neighbors who have fled to take their food. He and others are eating whatever they had stored as well as that left behind by the tens of thousands of who fled

In some neighborhoods, the streets are littered with the bodies of militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), said Mohammed, a 42 year old Kurdish fighter, describing the aftermath of days of U.S. airstrikes in and around the besieged Syrian city of Kobani, just a few hundred yards from the border with Turkey. “Normally, if we have time, we try to bury them, but now, because of the new clashes, we cannot,” he said on Friday, speaking to reporters over the phone from the city center. “You can now smell the carcasses.”

A fighter for the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the Kurdish militia defending Kobani, went on to describe the increasingly harrowing conditions inside the city, which has been holding out against an ISIS onslaught for more than a month. “We lack drinking water, milk for infants, and medicine,” he said. “We had three hospitals in the city, but ISIS destroyed all of them. Now we have one mobile clinic, but all it has is antibiotics.” Yet Mohammed, who asked that his last name not be made public, remained upbeat. “If the airstrikes don’t stop,” he said, “we will have victory in ten days.”

The YPG has received a big boost from the U.S. airstrikes but continues to fight with its back to the wall, said Ismet Sheikh Hasan, the city’s defense chief. Except for a single, now temporarily closed, border crossing with Turkey, Kobani remained cut off from the outside world, he said, while ISIS fighters are able to receive reinforcements from their strongholds inside Syria.

“The strikes are very good, but they’re not enough,” Hasan said, “because ISIS is hiding in the houses and in the streets, and we need heavy weapons to go after them and defeat them.”

In recent days, he added, even the narrow lifeline connecting the city to Turkey had come under threat, making it difficult to evacuate wounded fighters and several hundred stranded civilians. From a hill south of Kobani, ISIS tanks and artillery guns were shelling downtown neighborhoods and the Mursitpinar border crossing. Snipers were targeting the area as well.“They’re trying to control the main gate to stop our injured from reaching Turkey,” he said.

“We’ve prepared for such days,” said Luqman Ahmad, a civilian speaking to reporters by phone from Kobani. He and others inside the city center were eating whatever they had stored, mostly canned foods, he said, as well as livestock left behind by the tens of thousands of locals who fled to Turkey over the past month. “We’ve had to break into the houses of neighbors who’ve left, and to take their food.”

Artillery fire echoed on the Turkish side of the border as he spoke. Two coalition fighter jets circled above Kobani.

As night descended on Kobani on Friday, Hasan, the defense chief, sounded a glum note. Thanks to the airstrikes, the YPG was holding its ground, he said, but remained unable to make progress. “The balance is shifting in ISIS’ favor,” he said.

Minutes after he spoke, heavy clashes broke out to the east of the Kobani. In Caykara, a small Turkish village less than a mile from the border, locals crowded the roof of a mosque, listening to the unrelenting cackle of gunfire and the thump of artillery shells. Red tracer rounds dashed from the city center toward ISIS positions on the outskirts. A single fighter jet buzzed overhead, obscured by the darkness and the thick clouds hovering above Kobani. Rain started to fall.

TIME Hong Kong

Fresh Clashes in Hong Kong As Thousands Take to the Streets

Protesters recapture Mong Kok occupation site

Thousands of people in Hong Kong recaptured a protest site Friday night that was cleared by police just a few hours before, in a show of force by the almost three-week-old movement demanding greater democratic rights.

Hundreds of police officers attempted to keep the boiling crowds in the Mong Kok area at bay, many times with the use of batons and pepper spray, but to no avail. Around midnight, a canopy of umbrellas—an icon for the protest movement—triumphantly started moving down the thoroughfare of Nathan Road, trailing scores of retreating police officers.

“This sends the message that we can’t be suppressed or bullied, we will fight back,” said 17-year-old high school student Joel Christian Banerjee Dilan on the front line. “We’re not scared anymore.”

Since Sept. 28, protesters have occupied three areas of Hong Kong with the help of roadblocks and camping sites. They’re demanding the right for citizens to nominate their political leaders, but have so far received no concessions from the government. As their numbers started dwindling over the past week, authorities grew emboldened and became more aggressive trying to clear the protesters. But scenes of police violence have incensed the population, and boosted support for the protesters’ cause.

On Friday morning, police expeditiously tore down the barricades and tents of the Mong Kok protest site, leading to a call on social media to recapture the lost ground in the evening. As thousands of people bore down on the neighborhood, some cited anger with the police force as one of the main reasons they had shown up.

“They’re puppets, scum, they don’t know what they’re doing,” said Peter Ho, a 50-year-old trader.

Joel Christian Banerjee Dilan said not all officers were aggressive, but that the actions of a few were affecting the corps as a group. Ling Cheng, a 26-year-old wedding consultant, said she had never been afraid of the police, even though she always brings her protective goggles to the protests. “But I’m scared of the police now, they’re so rude,” she said.

Others said they were there because of the tactical use of the Mong Kok site.

“If we lose Mong Kok, then all the police can go to [the central site in] Admiralty,” said 26-year-old environmental engineer student Kwong Leong. “Then everything might be lost.”

The evening was fought on several fronts, as both sides tried to gain new ground as well as hold what they had already grabbed. With throngs of increasingly frustrated people spilling into alleyways adjoining the central boulevards, it was often a losing battle for the police. At the front line on Nathan Road, they whacked indiscriminately at the wall of umbrellas poking in their direction, dousing it with pepper spray—but had no alternative other than to fall back when protesters poured in from their sides.

Scuffles and heckling continued well into the first hours of Saturday on the fringes of the protest, with incidents involving police officers in riot gear drawing scattered roars from around the neighborhood. Some were busying themselves with erecting new barricades. Inside, on the newly occupied swathe of asphalt, several sleeping mats had already been carried in, aiding protesters to a moment of rest after several hours of tense altercations.

Police officers also took turns sitting down and having something to eat, the two groups curiously at ease in each others vicinity once not pitted eye-to-eye on a front line. It’s a few moments of well-deserved comfort, seeing that clashes erupt with increasing regularity.

Calvin Chung, 25, was busy raising a tent, even though he professed to not knowing how. “I’m a little bit afraid of violence during the night, but I get my courage from the people. You see,” he gestured around him.“I’m not alone.”

Video by Helen Regan

TIME conflict

Watchdog Group Says ISIS Has Warplanes

Ex-Iraqi army officials are reportedly training ISIS fighters to fly them

Militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) have acquired three “warplanes that can fly and maneuver,” a watchdog Syrian opposition group said in a new report.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said former Iraqi army officials who have joined ISIS are training militants to operate the planes at an airbase near the contested Syrian city of Aleppo. The report, which has not been verified, cites anonymous “reliable” sources. The U.S. military said it’s not aware of ISIS gaining air capability.

“We’re not aware of [ISIS] conducting any flight operations in Syria or elsewhere,” U.S. Central Command spokesman Colonel Patrick Ryder told Reuters.

TIME Israel

Raising the Dead: Lack of Space Forces Cemeteries Skywards

Cemetery in Petah Tikva, Israel
Dan Balilty / AP Cemetery in Petah Tikva, Israel

From Israel to Brazil, elevated cemeteries are providing the final resting place for thousands of people as space runs out at ground level

At first glance, the multi-tiered jungle of concrete off a major highway does not appear unusual in Petah Tikva, an Israeli city of bland high-rises. But the burgeoning towers are groundbreaking when you consider its future tenants: They will be homes not for the living but rather the dead.

With real estate at a premium, Israel is at the forefront of a global movement building vertical cemeteries in densely populated countries. The reality of relying on finite land resources to cope with the endless stream of the dying has brought about creative solutions…

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

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