TIME Culture

No-Ah: Malaysia and Indonesia Ban Bible Flick

Russell Crowe in Noah
Niko Tavernise—Paramount Pictures/AP

Malaysian Film Censorship chairman said Darren Aronofsky's film Noah is not being screened in Malaysia -- whose population is 60 percent Muslim -- to protect the harmony and sensitivity of the country's multiracial community

Malaysia and Indonesia have joined other Muslim nations in banning Noah, Darren Aronofsky’s biblical epic, because depictions of a prophet violate Islamic law, state censors said Monday.

“The film Noah is not allowed to be screened in this country to protect the sensitivity and harmony in Malaysia’s multiracial and multireligious community,” said Malaysian Film Censorship chairman Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid said in a statement Monday, according to the Associated Press. Malay Muslims make up around 60% of Malaysia’s population.

Indonesian film censors also forbid the film, saying it contradicted both the Koran and the Bible.

Much of the Islamic world, including the Qatar, the UAE, and Bahrain, has already prohibited the movie on religious grounds. Noah is one of 25 prophets mentioned in the Koran.

[AP]

TIME India

Airline Passenger Attempts Suicide During Flight

The 30-year-old man, who works as a draftsman in Dubai, was on a flight to the Indian industrial hub of Hyderabad.

A passenger on an Emirates flight from Dubai to India attempted to commit suicide in the aircraft’s lavatory, the airline and police said Monday, according to the Associated Press.

Crew members found the passenger bleeding heavily shortly before the descent into Hyderabad, India. They administered treatment on board the aircraft before giving the passenger to a medical team on the ground.

The 30-year-old man, who works as a draftsman in Dubai, had wounds on his neck, ankles and wrists. He was in stable condition at an area hospital Monday. It’s still unclear what he used to injure himself or why he attempted suicide.

Emirates said the plane returned to Dubai without passengers for maintenance.

[AP]

TIME Environment

Renewable Energy Investment Is Down—and That’s OK

Solar and wind in Germany
Investment in renewables like solar and wind is down, but their share of global power is up Sean Gallup—Getty Images

Funding for solar, wind and other forms of clean power fell 14% in 2013, largely because it's now cheaper to adapt to the newer technologies, but that doesn't mean the shift to renewable energy has fully stopped

On the surface, the new numbers on the global renewable energy industry in 2013 do not look good for the planet. Investment in renewable energy fell 14% in 2013 to $214.4 billion, according to a new report from the Frankfurt School-UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate and Sustainable Energy Finance, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Bloomberg New Energy Finance. And that comes after a year when renewable energy investment was already falling—it’s now down 23% from the record investment levels seen in 2011. Given that recent reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) underscore the desperate need to increase the shift from fossil fuel to low-carbon power sources like solar or nuclear, the two-year investment decline is not good news.

But looking at the numbers more closely tells a brighter story. It’s true that investment in renewable energy has been falling, but that’s chiefly due to the rapidly falling cost of solar photovoltaic systems, according to Michael Liebreich of Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The average price of installing a solar panel has dropped by 60% in the U.S., which means that less money can buy more solar power. Globally, renewable energy aside from large hydro plants accounted for 43.6% of all new power capacity added last year—the same as in 2012—which translated to 81 gigawatts. That raised renewable energy’s share of total power generation from 7.8% to 8.5%.

On top of that, more clean energy companies can draw funding from public equity—a stock market index of clean tech companies was up 54% in 2013. And the biggest drop was in a form of energy—biofuels—that’s looking less green every year. Even with investment down, the shift towards a world powered by low-carbon sources hasn’t stopped. “The onward march of this sector is inevitable,” said Liebreich at a press conference Monday morning.

The biggest change on the global stage was in Europe, where investment was down 44% from the year before (U.S. investment fell by 10%). Some of that drop is due to the delayed effects of Europe’s economic slowdown, which led countries like Spain and Bulgaria to make retroactive cuts to subsidies for existing renewable energy projects, which killed off investment altogether. Renewable energy remains heavily subsidized in most of the world, which makes it extremely vulnerable to policy uncertainty. “For the last few years there has been enormous policy uncertainty, even in the heart of Europe,” says Leibreich. “We’re at a point where there will be a lot of regulatory cleanup.”

There are even some caveats to the caveats. Those 81 GW of wind, solar and other renewables added to the global grid last year is in terms of power capacity, not actual generation. Because wind and solar are intermittent—they generate power when the wind blows and the sun shines—they actually generate far less energy in practice than their listed capacity. In the U.S., the capacity factor for renewables—excluding hydro—was 33.9%, compared to 63.8% for coal and 90.3% for nuclear. Until we figure out how to balance out the renewable sources—either through cheap energy storage or through more advanced power grids—clean energy will often need to be supported by dirtier power sources.

Still, renewable energy is poised to become an ever bigger part of the global energy picture—though perhaps not as fast we need if we’re to stave off the worst effects of climate change. We’ll need not just more investment in new wind and solar plants, but also in the sort of research that will yield breakthrough technologies that can change the rules of the energy industry (More nuclear, by far the biggest source of near zero-carbon power in the U.S., would help as well). This is a power shift that is just beginning.

TIME Israel

Anonymous Launches New Cyberattack Against Israel

On the first anniversary of their 2013 attack, the notorious group of hackers have again targeted Israeli government websites

Hacker group AnonymousOpIsrael attacked Israeli government websites Monday, Haaretz reports. The pro-Palestinian organization gained access to the websites of the Israeli Education Ministry, the Postal Service and the Central Bureau of Statistics.

Anonymous issued a warning message via YouTube Sunday urging their “brothers and sisters to hack, deface, hijack, database leak, admin takeover and DNS terminate the Israeli cyberspace by any means necessary.”

A cyberattack by the group on April 7, 2013 took down a large number of Israeli websites, including those of the Defense Ministry and the Prime Minister’s office. The hackers also published a list of credit card numbers and email addresses apparently lifted from the website of a business selling equipment to the Israeli military. The government said the actions had not caused significant damage to Israel’s online infrastructure.

AnonymousOpIsrael stated that the latest attack was in retaliation for “crimes against humanity” which the group says the Israeli government committed against Palestinians.

[Haaretz]

TIME europe

Pro-Russian Protesters Seize Buildings After Ukrainian Officer Killed by Russian Soldier

Activists prepare a barricade inside the regional administration building in Donetsk, Ukraine, April 7, 2014.
Activists prepare a barricade inside a government building in Donetsk, Ukraine, on April 7, 2014 Alexander Ermochenko—AP

Hundreds of pro-Russia demonstrators occupied government buildings in Donetsk on Monday and declared the eastern region a "people's republic" that is independent of the Ukrainian capital, Kiev

Hundreds of pro-Russia demonstrators who took over government buildings in Donetsk on Monday and who have called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to send troops to their aid are declaring the eastern region a “people’s republic” that is independent of the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.

The announcement, posted in a video on YouTube, was also delivered outside a building being occupied by protesters, the Guardian reports. “Seeking to create a popular, legitimate, sovereign state, I proclaim the creation for the sovereign state of the People’s Republic of Donetsk,” a spokesperson for the protesters told the crowd.

Police are negotiating with the protesters, who demand a secession referendum similar to the one carried out in Crimea before that peninsula was annexed by the Kremlin.

The unrest in Donetsk is adding to tensions stirred by Sunday’s shooting death of a Ukrainian naval officer at the hands of a Russian soldier. Russian media reported that Ukrainian soldiers on their way home from a night out got into a dispute with Russian soldiers who were guarding a military base. Dmytro Tymchuk, an analyst at Kiev’s Center for Military and Political Studies, later claimed in a Facebook post that Russian servicemen shot a Ukrainian naval officer twice in the head during a heated argument, the Guardian reported.

Tensions between Kiev and Moscow have been high since March around the annexation of Crimea, which is predominantly populated by ethnic Russians. The news of the Ukrainian officer’s death came just after interim Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk lashed out at Russia for allegedly stoking unrest in Ukraine’s eastern provinces.

“[Russia's] plan is to cross the border and seize the country’s territory, and we will not allow it,” Yatsenyuk said.

[Guardian]

TIME South Africa

Pistorius Takes the Stand in Murder Trial

The "Blade Runner" testifies for the first time about the murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day 2013. He began by apologizing to Steenkamp's family and said he was "simply trying to protect" his girlfriend

+ READ ARTICLE

The murder trial of Oscar Pistorius resumed in Pretoria on Monday as the double-amputee athlete took the witness stand for the first time.

The 27-year-old Paralympian is accused of murdering his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, 29, on Feb. 14, 2013. Pistorius has denied the charge of premeditated murder, maintaining he fired four shots through the bathroom door of his gated-community home after mistaking Steenkamp for an intruder.

Pistorius began by apologizing to Steenkamp’s family and said he was “simply trying to protect” his girlfriend. “I wake up in a complete state of terror,” he said. “I wake up in a panic. I can smell the blood.”

Earlier, his legal team called pathologist Prof. Jan Botha to help assert his innocence. Pistorius was originally due to take the stand first, but owing to a family illness the prosecution permitted Botha’s testimony to be heard instead.

The sensational trial being followed closely around the world had been adjourned for a week after one of the judge’s two aides fell ill.

Pistorius, who gained his “Blade Runner” moniker owing to his distinctive prosthetic limbs, faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted.

[New York Times]

TIME Aviation

The Latest Pings Are the ‘Best Lead Yet’ in the Hunt for the Missing Jet

Pings heard for a total of about two and half hours some 1,000 miles northwest of Perth, Australia, are the "best lead yet" in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, says an Australian official. But the black box's battery could die at any moment

+ READ ARTICLE

Investigators are trying to triangulate signals picked up in the southern Indian Ocean that could come from the black box of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, but the race is on as the device’s transponder battery only has a matter of hours left to run.

“This is a most promising lead,” former Australian defense-force chief Angus Houston, in charge of coordinating efforts, told reporters in Perth, Australia, on Monday. “It’s probably the best information that we have had.”

Signals consistent with an aircraft’s flight and voice recorder were picked up Saturday night and Sunday morning by the Australian vessel Ocean Shield, which was towing a U.S.-made pinger locator. The first signal was received for two hours and 20 minutes, and the second for 13 minutes, some 1,040 miles (1,680 km) northwest of Perth.

Despite confirming that the signal “sounds to me just like an emergency-locator beacon,” Houston refused to be drawn on whether it was coming from MH 370’s black box.

Further detection “would be the trigger to launch the underwater autonomous vehicle with the more accurate sonar and potentially a camera for mapping and looking at the ocean floor,” said Peter Levy, commodore of the Royal Australian Navy.

However, the Bluefin 21, the unmanned submarine on hand to scour the seabed to verify the signals, would be working at the very limit of its capacity at that depth.

 

In addition, time is of the essence. The black-box transponder only has around 30 days of battery life, and Monday marked day 31 since the Boeing 777 disappeared an hour into a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Analysis of maintenance data transmissions indicates the plane crashed off the western coast of Australia with all 239 passengers and crew presumed killed.

“We’re not talking about days now, we’re really talking about hours left of the battery life,” Michael Daniel, an international aviation-safety consultant who spent over three decades at the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, tells TIME. “So we have to be cautious-optimistic.”

Unfortunately, the process of triangulation is laborious. The ocean is about 2.8 miles (4.5 km) deep — the equivalent of a dozen Empire State Buildings — and the pinger locator can only detect a strip about 4 miles (6 km) wide, meaning several passes may be required.

For the two vessels currently equipped with pinger locators to complete one 7-mile (11 km) route and then turn around again takes up to eight hours, owing to the huge length of cable needed to get the submerged device close to the ocean floor.

On Sunday, a senior Malaysian official told CNN that the twin-engine jetliner likely skirted Indonesian airspace to avoid detection. This ties in with previous assertions that the plane was taken off course “through deliberate action.” What caused the 200-ton jet to deviate from its flight path remains a mystery, although Malaysian police have ruled the 227 passengers out of any involvement.

The British navy ship H.M.S. Echo is checking out a separate signal detected by the Chinese vessel Hai Xun on Friday and Saturday, which also may be consistent with the black box’s beacon, but more than 500 km (345 miles) from the Ocean Shield’s latest detections.

TIME East Asia

Hagel to China: Respect Your Neighbors

From right: U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel shakes hands with his Japanese counterpart Itsunori Onodera at the end of their joint news conference at the Defense Ministry in Tokyo on April 6, 2014.
From right: U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel shakes hands with his Japanese counterpart Itsunori Onodera at the end of their joint news conference at the Defense Ministry in Tokyo on April 6, 2014. Issei Kato—Reuters

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel says it's wrong for major powers to "go around the world and redefine boundaries and violate territorial integrity," as he begins a visit to China, and calls on Beijing to embrace responsibility alongside military might

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel confirmed America’s commitment to defend Japan and demanded that Beijing respects the territorial claims of other Asia nations before landing in China on Monday.

After arriving in Qingdao, an eastern Chinese city of more than 5 million people, he was scheduled to visit a local naval base and tour China’s first aircraft carrier. The refitted Soviet-era craft has been viewed as potent symbol of China’s burgeoning naval ambitions amid increasing geopolitical tensions in the region.

Hagel didn’t pull any punches during a press conference in Tokyo on Sunday, ahead of his first trip to China as America’s defense chief. He urged Beijing to embrace the responsibility that comes with being a global power and rejected attempts by powerful nations to bully their smaller neighbors.

“With this power comes new and wider responsibilities as to how you use that power, how you employ that military power,” said Hagel, as he stood side by side with Japanese Minister of Defense Itsunori Onodera.

“I want to talk with the Chinese about all of that,” Hagel said, “particularly transparency — a key dimension of relationships. Transparency, intentions, what governments are doing, why.”

The top U.S. defense official also took time to criticize Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine, and warned Beijing against embracing similar tactics.

“You cannot go around the world and redefine boundaries and violate territorial integrity and sovereignty of nations by force, coercion and intimidation, whether it’s in small islands in the Pacific or large nations in Europe,” said Hagel.

“Nations must be clear on this and speak plainly. It takes courage from leaders.”

China and Japan have been deadlocked in a bitter dispute over a smattering of uninhabited outcroppings known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan and the Diaoyu Islands in China. Beijing is also engaged in territorial disputes with the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam.

China’s massive modernization of its naval forces, together with ambitious claims over contested territory in the East China Sea and the South China Sea, has sparked a wave of anti-Chinese feeling in the region.

TIME europe

Violence in East Ukraine Ratchets Up Tensions With Russia

UKRAINE-RUSSIA-CRISIS-POLITICS-REGIONS-DEMO
Pro-Russian supporters clash with members of the riot police as they storm the regional administration building in Donetsk, Ukraine, on April 6, 2014 Alexander Khudoteply—AFP/Getty Images

Amid mounting tensions, pro-Russian protesters in three eastern Ukrainian cities clashed with police as they waved Russian flags, called for independence and stormed government buildings in the cities of Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv

Pro-Russian protesters stormed government buildings on Sunday in three eastern Ukrainian cities, a move the Ukrainian government said was orchestrated by the Kremlin as tensions between the two nations rise further.

Protesters clashed with police in Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv, waving Russian flags and calling for independence from Ukraine. In the industrial hub of Donetsk, about 50 protesters broke from a rally of 2,000 and seized the regional government building, and protesters stormed security-service offices in nearby Luhansk, the BBC reports.

Ukraine’s interim President Oleksandr Turchinov called an emergency meeting in Kiev and canceled a trip to Lithuania to deal with the crisis.

The Ukrainian government blamed the seizure of government buildings on intervention by the Russians and now deposed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, Reuters reports.

“[Vladimir] Putin and Yanukovych ordered and paid for the latest wave of separatist disorder in the east of the country. The people who have gathered are not many but they are very aggressive,” Ukraine’s Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said in a statement on his Facebook page.

“The situation will come back under control without bloodshed. That is the order to law-enforcement officers, it’s true. But the truth is that no one will peacefully tolerate the lawlessness of provocateurs,” he said.

Russian President Putin has promised to protect Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine and has amassed tens of thousands of troops on the border in recent weeks. Ukraine blamed Russia for instigating civil unrest in Crimea before it annexed the territory in March.

[BBC]

TIME Africa

France Pulls Out of Event to Mark Rwanda Genocide

Rwanda Prepares For 20th Commemoration Of 1994 Genocide
Rwandan President Paul Kagame looks on at his office in Kigali, Rwanda, on April 6, 2014 Evan Schneider—UN/Getty Images

French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira canceled plans to attend events after Rwandan President Paul Kagame accused France of playing a "direct role" in the genocide 20 years ago that killed 800,000 Rwandans

The French government has withdrawn from Monday’s 20th-anniversary commemorations for the genocide in Rwanda, after the country’s President accused France of participating in the 1994 mass killings.

French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira canceled plans to attend the events in Kigali on Monday following Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s denunciation of the “direct role of Belgium and France in the political preparation for the genocide,” the BBC reports.

President Kagame’s remarks were made to the French-language weekly newsmagazine Jeune Afrique in an interview on March 27. The French Foreign Ministry said Kagame’s remarks hurt the reconciliation process between France and Rwanda.

More than 800,000 people were killed in Rwanda — mostly ethnic Tutsi, but also moderate Hutus — after the death of President Juvénal Habyarimana, an ethnic Hutu, on April 6, 1994. The violence only ended after Kagame’s Tutsi-led group defeated government forces in July 1994.

Kagame’s faction, which has held the government since, has long blamed France for aiding the genocide. France was an ally of Habyarimana’s government, and a Rwandan commission found France helped train ethnic Hutu militias, who prepared in the mass killings, and was aware of preparations for the genocide.

France has acknowledged serious errors it made during the genocide, but has said its forces protected civilians during the violence.

[BBC]

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