TIME Northern Ireland

Sinn Fein Leader Gerry Adams Freed from Police Custody

BRITAIN-NIRELAND-POLITICS-MURDER
Republican party Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, left, next to Sinn Fein politician and Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland Martin McGuinness, talks to the media during a press conference at a hotel in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on May 4, 2014 following his release from Antrim police station where he was detained for questioning over a 1972 murder. Peter Muhly—AFP/Getty Images

The 65-year-old Irish republican politician was released without charge Sunday, after being arrested Wednesday on suspicion of ordering a 1972 killing while serving as the Belfast commander in the Irish Republican Army

Updated 4:13 pm E.T.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams was released without charges from police on Sunday after spending five days in custody.

Earlier in the day, the Associated Press, citing an anonymous police source, reported that the 65-year-old Irish republican politician would not face charges over a 1972 killing, but that police would send prosecutors a file of potential evidence against him.

Adams’ release was delayed by two hours due to angry loyalist protestors, who attempted to physically block his release until police officers, many of whom were clad in riot-proof gear, escorted Adams out of the building through an alternate exit.

Adams was arrested on Wednesday following allegations that he ordered the 1972 killing of a mother of 10 while serving as the Belfast commander in the Irish Republican Army. He has denied the accusations.

Adams’ detention period was due to expire Sunday. Police would have had to charge him or seek permission from a judge to extend his time in custody, as they did Friday.

According to the BBC, Sinn Fein politician and Northern Ireland deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said his party may no longer be able to support the Police Service of Northern Ireland following Adams’ time in custody.

In response, Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, accused Sinn Fein of trying to blackmail the police with “republican bullyboy tactics.”

[AP]

TIME Africa

U.S. Offers Congo $30 Million, On Condition President Steps Down

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The President of the Democratic Republic of Congo Joseph Kabila, right, welcomes US Secretary of State John Kerry at the Palais de la Nation in Kinshasa on May 4, 2014. Saul Loeb—AFP/Getty Images

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has pledged to up the United States' financial commitment to democracy in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but only if its current president doesn't seek re-election, in accordance with constitutional term limits

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has pledged to give the Democratic Republic of Congo $30 million to aid democracy and political stability, but only if its president Joseph Kabila does not seek re-election after his current, second term in office.

Kerry, who is on a tour of Africa, said the country needed to finalize the schedule for its next elections expected in 2016, the Associated Press reports. If Kabila seeks a third presidential term, he would be in violation of his country’s constitution.

“The sooner the process is announced, the sooner that the date is set, the sooner people have an ability to be able to participate,” Kerry told reporters after he met with Kabila. “And we believe it ought to be done in keeping with the constitutional process of the country.”

It is unknown if Kabila agreed to Kerry’s requests.

Kerry’s latest pledge is more than double the $12 million the U.S. gave to support democratic elections and political stability in the country in 2013. Last year, total U.S. aid to the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has been plagued by violence for decades, last year was around $210 million.

[AP]

TIME Ukraine

Ukrainian Special Forces Headed to Odessa After Deadly Clashes

Members of the nationalist political party and paramilitary collective Pravi Sektor rally at Odessa's police headquarters and the burnt-out Trade Unions building in Odessa, Ukraine, on May 4, 2014.
Members of the nationalist political party and paramilitary collective Pravi Sektor rally at Odessa's police headquarters and the burnt-out Trade Unions building in Odessa, Ukraine, on May 4, 2014. Cosimo Attanasio—Demotix/Corbis

A top Ukrainian minister said on Monday that a new special forces unit was drafted into southern Odessa after police failed to bat down days of deadly violence involving pro-Russian separatists that killed dozens of people

Update: 7:45 a.m. E.T. on May 5

Ukraine’s Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said on Monday that a new special forces unit had been drafted in Odessa, the southwestern port town, following recent violence between pro-Russian separatists and police that left dozens dead.

The clashes in Odessa marked the deadliest since February when Ukraine’s president fled to Russia and militants began to occupy government buildings in the restive eastern region. “The police in Odessa acted outrageously, possibly in a criminal fashion,” Avakov wrote on his Facebook page. “The ‘honor of the uniform’ will offer no cover.”

Fresh violence broke out Sunday after hundreds of people gathered outside the headquarters calling for the release of those arrested Friday, the BBC reports. They broke windows and forced open the headquarters’ gates while yelling, “Odessa is Russian city, one for all and all for one,” CNN reports.

In response, Ukraine released 67 people who had been detained.

“Based on the decision taken by Odessa’s regional prosecutor’s office and due to the demands of the protesters, 67 people previously detained for participating in mass disturbances on May 2nd in Odessa were released Sunday,” the Ukrainian Interior Ministry’s website read.

As Ukraine’s military began an operation to reclaim the eastern cities occupied by pro-Russia forces on Friday, gunfire broke out in the streets of Odessa, the Associated Press reports. The use of Molotov cocktails also caused a union building to catch fire, killing at least 31 people, most of whom were believed to be pro-Russian activists.

Although separatists released eight military observers on Saturday, officials in Ukraine warned that the situation in the country’s east was spinning out of control. “What is happening in the east is not a short-term action,” said Vasyl Krutov, head of the Ukrainian government’s antiterrorist center. “This is essentially a war.”

The former U.S. ambassador to Moscow made a similar warning Friday, saying the situation could lead to a full-fledged invasion by Russian troops. “The last 24 hours was a major escalation,” Michael McFaul told TIME. “This is real. This is war.”

Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk suggested Russia was to blame for the outbreak of violence during remarks in Odessa on Sunday, but he said local police were being investigated for their inability to maintain order on Friday.

“This is not a tragedy only for Odessa,” Yatsenyuk said. “This is a tragedy for all Ukraine.”

[BBC]

TIME Ukraine

Former U.S. Ambassador to Moscow Warns of War in Ukraine

A protester walks past a burning pro-Russian tent camp near the trade union building in Odessa
A protester walks past a burning pro-Russian tent camp near the trade union building in Odessa May 2, 2014. Stringer—Reuters

Michael McFaul, who served as the U.S. ambassador to Moscow until February, warns Russian President Vladimir Putin may be preparing an all-out invasion

Michael McFaul, who served as President Obama’s ambassador to Moscow until February, has warned that the Ukraine crisis is approaching a state of war that could trigger a large scale invasion by Russian military forces.

“The last 24 hours was a major escalation,” McFaul told TIME in a Friday interview, as Ukraine’s military began an operation to reclaim eastern cities and towns taken over by pro-Russia militants. The offensive has led to violence, including reports that Ukrainian helicopters were shot down by pro-Russian forces. Brewing violence in the southern port city of Odessa also claimed dozens of lives Friday.

“This is real,” McFaul said. “This is war.”

Amid reports that pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine are urging Russia’s military to intervene on their behalf, McFaul says he’s now reconsidering the widely-shared assumption that Russian President Vladimir Putin would prefer to destabilize Ukraine from a distance, without staging a cross-border invasion that would compel the west to take new retaliatory steps, possibly including arming the Ukrainian military.

“It would be very costly for Russia to invade Ukraine,” McFaul said. “It’ll be real fight — maybe guerrilla warfare for years. That’s not something one does lightly. But it got a lot more likely in the last 12 hours.”

Russia’s parliament has authorized Putin to intervene in Ukraine, though Putin said last month “I very much hope that I will not have to exercise this right.”

But many experts fear the rising violence may provide Putin with an excuse, even if it brings a harsh western response. “It would be a very foolish move on Russia’s part,” says Olga Oliker, an international security and defense policy analyst at the Rand Corporation. “However that does not mean that it can be ruled out.”

The chaos deepened on Saturday as the Ukrainian military continued to press its offensive. The pro-Kremlin news outlet RT alleged on Saturday that residents in the eastern city of Kramatorsk chased off Ukrainian military forces with chants of “fascists.” In one bright spot, however, a team of international observers held for days by pro-Russian forces were released unharmed.

But the larger picture remains bleak. The events of the past couple of days, McFaul said, “make me more worried than ever before.”

TIME Afghanistan

Hopes for Survivors Fade After Afghan Landslides

At least 2,100 people are presumed dead after two catastrophic landslides buried hundreds of homes in the Argo district in the mountainous northeastern state of Badakhshan, Afghanistan

TIME Vatican

Papal Commission Wants Abusive Priests Held to Account

A church commission investigating child sex abuse called for the establishment of "clear and effective protocols" for dealing with the problem and says that all clerics proven guilty of sex abuse or negligence will be held accountable, regardless of rank

A commission set up to advise Pope Francis on the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church will recommend that negligent and accused church officials be held accountable no matter their rank, a cardinal said Saturday.

“Our concern is to make sure that there are clear and effective protocols to deal with superiors in the church who have not fulfilled their obligations to protect children,” Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley said. Accountability should apply to “every one in the church regardless of what their status is … both for those who perpetrate the crime of sexual abuse and those who are negligent in child protection.”

The eight-person commission, made up of four men and four women, met for the first time since the commission’s March formation, Reuters reported. The commission said in a statement that it sees “ensuring accountability in the Church as especially important.”

The commission will draw up protocols for the pope to consider in order to address the frequent cases of child abuse over the years within the church. In many cases, bishops have protected accused priests by moving them between parishes rather than handing them over to the police or defrocking them.

Pope Francis asked for forgiveness last month for the “evil” committed by priests who have molested children.

[Reuters]

 

 

TIME Afghanistan

Over 2,100 Reportedly Dead in Afghanistan Landslide

Approximately 24 hours after 2 landslides buried over 2000 residents of Argo district in the mountainous northeastern state of Badakhshan under hundreds of feet of mud. The first landslide buried some 300 homes and those who had been inside or on the streets at the time as well as those attending a wedding party. The second landslide struck as villagers attempted to rescue those trapped - digging with shovels and their bare hands. Today - Saturday - rescuers called off a search for survivors due to a lack of heavy machinery required for the massive task, however, some men continued to dig about above where there homes had once been. Mohammad Karim Khalili, one of Afghanistan’s two Vice Presidents along with a handful of ministers travelled from Kabul to pay their respects at the site of the landslide today. Saturday 3 May, 2014. Photo by Andrew Quilty / Oculi for TIME.
The search for survivors in the Argo district was hampered by poor weather and insufficient tools, May 3, 2014. Andrew Quilty—Oculi for TIME

Rescuers have called off the search in the mountainous Argo district after at least 2,100 villagers were buried under hundreds of feet of mud. They are now focusing on helping the estimated 4,000 people displaced by the disaster

The death toll of a catastrophic landslide in a remote part of Afghanistan reportedly rose to at least 2,100 on Saturday, after a rescue effort slowed by lack of equipment and bad conditions.

Rescuers called off a search in the mountainous Argo district of the northeastern state of Badakhshan after over 2,000 villagers were buried under hundreds of feet of mud, Reuters reports, and turned their attention to the estimated 4,000 displaced by the disaster.

“More than 2,100 people from 300 families are all dead,” Naweed Forotan, a spokesman for Badakhshan’s provincial governor, told Reuters.

Two consecutive landslides took place on Friday morning after the area had been pummeled by heavy rains all week, according to the United Nations. The organization said that in addition to the mounting loss of life, the landslide had caused widespread damage to property and agriculture in the district. Badakhshan, a mountainous province in the far northeast of the country, borders Tajikistan, China and Pakistan.

Local officials had warned that the search for survivors and bodies would be slow, given the lack of equipment on hand in the far-flung district. Rescuers themselves faced a third potential landslide as they set to manually trying dig through the some 330 feet of mud.

With scores assumed dead, the U.N. mission in Afghanistan was said to have shifted its attention to at least 4,000 people forced to leave their homes, either directly due to Friday’s landslide or as a precautionary measure against future landslides.

The operation will test the capacity of Afghan security forces, which were deployed to the area to assist on Friday, according to reports. President Hamid Karzai, who is set to step down in the next few months once a new government is formed, said in a statement that he was “deeply saddened,” and that he had “ordered relevant entities to provide immediate assistance to people affected by the natural disaster and to urgently rescue those who are trapped under the debris.”

President Barack Obama, offering his condolences to the victims and their families during a press conference on Friday, said the U.S. was ready to help if requested. “Even as our war there comes to an end this year, our commitment to Afghanistan and its people will endure,” Obama said. “We stand ready to help our Afghan partners as they respond to this disaster.”

The disaster follows close on the heels of deadly flash floods in northern Afghanistan that left over 100 dead and displaced thousands more. “On behalf of the UN humanitarian agencies, I wish to extend our condolences to all those families who have lost loved ones as a result of these landslides,” Mark Bowden, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Afghanistan, said in a UN news release. “There have now been more Afghans killed through natural disasters in the past seven days than all of 2013.”

TIME Ukraine

Pro-Russian Insurgents Release OSCE Military Observers

OSCE observer Schneider walks among colleagues on a road 30 km (19 miles) from Donetsk after being freed by pro-Russian separatists
OSCE observer Axel Schneider walks among colleagues on a road 30 km from Donetsk in eastern Ukraine May 3, 2014, after being freed by pro-Russian separatists. Marko Djurica—Reuters

Pro-Russia insurgents in Ukraine released the seven OSCE military observers on Saturday who had been held for more than a week

The seven Western military observers held by pro-Russian insurgents in Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine were released Saturday as violence spread across the country, leaving dozens dead in Odessa.

The pro-Russian insurgents’ leader in Slovyansk, Vyacheslav Ponomarev, said he ordered the release of the observers because of increasing insecurity in the city, according to the Interfax news agency.

Deadly clashes have increased in Slovyansk, the epicenter of the unrest, and two Ukrainian helicopters were reportedly shot down outside the city Friday, killing two crew members. Two additional soldiers died in firefights, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said.

The freed military observers were on an internationally sanctioned visit to Ukraine as members of an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe team, when they were captured on April 25 in Slovyansk, the epicenter of the region’s unrest. The insurgents claimed they were NATO spies.

Russia’s appointed human rights commissioner, Vladimir Lukin, was sent to Ukraine to negotiate the insurgents’ release of the OSCE observers. The Kremlin denies it is in control of the violence in the region.

Conflagrations have broken out across the country as Ukrainian troops move to reclaim government buildings in the east, though many reports of violence have been difficult to verify. Pro-Russian insurgents claim that 10 local people were killed in a confrontation with soldiers at the edge of Slovyansk, the Associated Press reports, but reporters were unable to confirm the deaths. Other clashes were reported in Kramatorsk, a few miles outside of Slovyansk.

In the Black Sea port of Odessa, 300 miles southwest of Slovyansk, at least 42 people died in clashes between government supporters and opponents, raising fears of wider violence across the country. Thirty-one people died when pro-Russia demonstrators took refuge in a building that caught fire after protesters threw firebombs inside.

As the building burned with people inside, a crowd shouted, “Glory to Ukraine!” and “Death to enemies!” USA Today reports.

The Kremlin denounced the government in Kiev for encouraging extremism. “Their arms are up to their elbows in blood,” said Dmitry Peskov, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, according to Russian news agencies.

[AP]

 

TIME Media

How We Failed the Lost Girls Kidnapped by Boko Haram

Women react during a protest demanding security forces to search harder for 200 abducted schoolgirls, outside Nigeria's parliament in Abuja
Nigerian women demonstrate outside the parliamentary building in Abuja, the country's capital, on April 30, 2014, demanding the government to search harder for more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by Islamist militants Boko Haram two weeks ago Afolabi Sotunde—Reuters

We were fascinated with the search for the Malaysian plane and the search for survivors on the South Korean ferry. Why wasn't the media also focused on searching for the missing girls?

Updated: May 5, 8:51 AM

In a speech on national television Sunday, almost three weeks after the girls were taken, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan vowed to rescue the missing schoolgirls and bring them home to their families. On Monday, a Boko Haram leader released a video claiming responsibility, saying “I abducted your girls” and “I will sell them in the market, by Allah.”

There’s nothing the media loves more than a good hunt. So for the past few months, news coverage has been dominated by the hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, the hunt for survivors on the South Korean ferry accident, even the hunt for the U.S.’s 2016 presidential candidates. But when Boko Haram terrorists kidnapped more than 276 Nigerian girls from their school on the night of April 14, Wolf Blitzer and his fancy graphics were nowhere to be found.

Eighteen days ago, the girls were just high schoolers trying to get an education. Now they’ve been kidnapped by terrorists and likely sold into “marriages” to men in Chad and Cameroon.

Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe, who runs a shelter for girls abducted by Joseph Kony’s rebel group, the Lord’s Resistance Army, in Uganda, says that’s just a euphemism for systematic rape. “This is not marriage,” she says. “They are being given in sex slavery. This is human trafficking. We should call evil by its name.” Sub-Saharan Africa is home to over 16% of the 29.8 million enslaved people in the world, and now these girls have likely joined their ranks.

It’s atrocious that the Nigerian government has made almost no publicized effort to find the girls. Mausi Segun, a researcher for Human Rights Watch in Nigeria, says that people who live near the group’s suspected camps haven’t seen any security forces searching for the students, nobody from the government has reached out to the families, and the government even lied and said that most of the girls had been returned.

But the media enabled the government to sweep the whole thing under the rug by ignoring the story for weeks. The kidnapping was mentioned for the first time on American nightly news on May 1, more than two weeks after the girls were taken, according to Andrew Tyndall, who runs the Tyndall Report analyzing TV news. NBC Nightly News ran the first story Thursday night, CBS ran a piece Friday morning, and ABC has been mum. The story never made the front page of the national edition of the New York Times. CNN has had a bit more coverage, but nothing approaching the coverage of the missing Malaysia Airlines plane carrying 370 passengers or the South Korean ferry accident that left over 300 people dead or missing. We only started paying close attention after salacious rumors surfaced that the girls were likely sold as child brides for as little as $12. That’s too little, too late.

By contrast, when the Malaysia Airlines jet disappeared March 8, the story was the lead story on all NBC, ABC and CBS news shows for 11 weekdays straight.

But does it matter what’s on TV?

Nyirumbe says global media attention is key to stopping the atrocities. “The media has the most powerful voice, the media can reverse evil if it is done correctly,” she says. “Even these people who are doing these atrocities against humanity, once they hear the media is coming, they stop.”

The irony is that by Netflix-algorithm logic, this should have been the biggest news of the past two weeks — stories about searches, schools and sexual abuse tend to capture our interest. Tyndall points out that the media tends to love stories about girls’ education in Muslim countries; just look at all the press Malala Yousafzai has gotten (she now has a publicity team to handle her public image).

The girls were kidnapped by Islamic extremist group Boko Haram on the night of they’d assembled to take an exam at the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, in the northeastern part of the country. That’s no coincidence, because Boko Haram’s name roughly translates to “Western education is forbidden.” The group has been terrorizing Nigeria for years, capitalizing on instability fueled by economic inequality and unemployment in Africa’s largest economy. They’ve attacked villages, caused explosions at bus stations and murdered boys at a boarding school, but this is their largest attack yet, the one that should have caught the world’s attention.

Frustrated by the government’s lack of action, some of the girls’ fathers and brothers have gone looking for them, without success. It’s possible (but unlikely) that the government is doing some behind-the-scenes negotiations for the girls’ rescue, but the families are still protesting that the government isn’t doing enough to help the lost girls.

The issue will be harder to ignore when representatives from other nations descend on Nigeria this week for the World Economic Forum. Nigeria just became Africa’s biggest economy, and the government wants to be associated with growth and opportunity, not terrorism and corruption. This mass kidnapping is bad optics for the narrative of a Nigeria on the rise, which is why they tried to bury the story.

Segun, of Human Rights Watch, says that the government’s lie that the girls were returned was partially intended to deceive the media. “The government is concerned about its image, and a lot of what happened initially was that to stave off that interest,” she says, adding that the government pressured the school principal to back up their story, but she refused.

But why did it take the press so long to catch on?

Because we have a tendency to overreport stories that affect our foreign policy (especially in India, China and the Middle East) and underreport stories that have less geopolitical relevance. There’s also the fact that most foreign bureaus have been decimated, and 20 newspapers and companies have eliminated their foreign bureaus since 1998, which means that facts about the kidnapping were hard to come by. And it’s impossible to ignore the racial implications: when a pretty blonde girl like Hannah Anderson or Elizabeth Smart goes missing, news outlets send helicopters and reporters to the scene; but when hundreds of black girls are kidnapped in a faraway country, it barely makes the news.

Now the spotlight on this case has grown, perhaps because of the impending economic forum. But it almost doesn’t matter what finally got the world’s attention because the media scrutiny came far too late. Two weeks ago the girls were taken in a caravan that moved slowly enough that some girls were able to escape. If we had paid attention then, when the girls were together and still in the country, they might have been found.

Of course Boko Haram are the villains here, and the Nigerian government bears the brunt of the blame for the lack of action. However, this tragedy is partly on us. We weren’t paying attention. We failed those girls. Let’s not do it again.

The map below shows how the conversation finally exploded on Twitter.

TIME Ukraine

Dozens Killed in Ukraine Gunfight and Fire

A protester throws a petrol bomb at the trade union building in Odessa
A protester throws a petrol bomb at the trade union building in Odessa, Ukraine May 2, 2014. Yevgeny Volokin—Reuters

Deadly gunfights between pro- and anti-Russian groups in the Ukrainian city of Odessa erupted Friday, and a fire linked to the clashes killed 31 people

Deadly gunfights between pro- and anti-Russian groups in the southern Ukrainian city of Odessa broke out Friday, and a fire linked to the clashes killed 31 people.

Odessa, a largely Russian-speaking city on the Black Sea near Crimea, had been generally free of the deadly violence that has erupted in Eastern Ukraine. But on Friday, police say three people were shot dead and 15 others injured in street battles, the Associated Press reports.

Another 31 people were killed in a fire that broke out in a union building during the clashes, but police did not say how the blaze started.

The violence Wednesday coincided with intensifying clashes in the country’s east, where government forces resumed operations against separatist militants who have taken control of towns in the region.

The government forces captured checkpoints outside the separatist-held city of Slovyansk and said they had “encircled” the city, according to Reuters. Separatists said Ukrainian forces killed three fighters and two civilians.

The Western-backed government in Kiev said two helicopters were brought down with missiles, killing two airmen, which it said was an indication that Russian forces were aiding the separatists, according to Reuters.

Russia, which has amassed thousands of troops on Ukraine’s eastern border after annexing Ukraine’s Crimea, has warned that it has the right to intervene to protect ethnic Russians. On Friday, a spokesperson for president Vladimir Putin called the assault by Ukrainian government forces a “punitive operation” and said the action destroyed “the last hope of survival” for a peace roadmap jointly agreed upon on April 17 by Russia, Ukraine, the United States and the European Union.

[AP]

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