TIME France

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio Makes Solidarity Visit to Paris

"Both are cities that understand what it is to fight back"

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio toured Paris on Tuesday in a show of solidarity as the French capital reels from a recent series of terrorist attacks.

De Blasio arrived Tuesday morning and made at least eight stops on his trip, including meetings with Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and Jewish leaders the Wall Street Journal reports. “We’re here in solidarity because both of our cities have experienced terror, both are cities that understand what it is to fight back,” he said.

His first stop was the kosher supermarket where a gunman took hostages and later killed four of them. De Blasio then traveled with Hidalgo to the Charlie Hebdo office where, two days before the supermarket attack, two gunmen killed 12 people in retaliation for the satirical newspaper’s depictions of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad.

“Mr. de Blasio was the first person to call me just after he heard the news. This was very moving for me,” Hidalgo said at a news conference. She added that the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack “has made the people in New York stronger, and that is what he’s come to say to us today.”

[WSJ]

TIME Media

Why Taking a Page Out of a U.K. Tabloid Is Good for Women

Britain's biggest tabloid, Rupert Murdoch's the Sun, plans to retire its regular feature showing topless women

Across the globe only 24% of people featured in the news are women. Of those women who do feature, a significant portion appear in unhappy circumstances, as victims of violence or discrimination. Women with more positive messages to convey sometimes find themselves airbrushed out of the picture. So it may seem counterintuitive that feminists are hailing the decision by Britain’s red-top tabloid, the Sun, to drop a feature that for 44 years guaranteed women near-total exposure across the whole of its third page.

Yes, this Friday’s Page 3 Girl may be the last, and that’s — reasonably — good news. The Sun has not confirmed the move but its stablemate the Times of London reported that their mutual proprietor Rupert Murdoch had signed off on the decision to retire the photographs of bare-breasted models from the print edition of the tabloid. “It is about time, really,” as Yas Necati of the No More Page 3 campaign told the Times. She added: “When you open up the Sun, which is Britain’s biggest-selling family newspaper, you see images of men doing things — running the country, achieving in sport — whereas the most prominent image of a woman is one where she is sexually objectified.” The Sun’s skewed representation of the sexes was laid bare-naked in this film The Experiment, shot for the campaign.

But the film doesn’t entirely convey the pernicious genius of Page 3 or why Page 3 has been quite so damaging to women. Page 3 intends to be provocative, not just in the obvious sense, by titillating male readers, but in trying, and often succeeding, in provoking women into reacting against the Sun. Every complaint — and there have been many — served to foster a narrative equating feminism with joylessness, sexlessness, humorlessness and the ammonium stink of political correctness. The actual Page 3 items, by contrast, have often been funny, in the manner of British seaside postcards or the long-running movie franchise Carry On, in which bra straps twang and wide-eyed nymphets serve up double entendres. One Page 3 conceit provided each woman featured with space for a quote on a current-affairs issue of the day, under the punning headline “News in Briefs” — briefs being all the model in question would be wearing.

And if joy is not now unconfined among feminists at the departure of the Page 3 Girl, that’s partly because she isn’t actually leaving. She just seems to be putting on a wet T-shirt for appearances in the newspaper and will continue to disport herself topless on the Sun’s website. This is hardly a stride towards equality in the mold of the 1928 Equal Franchise Act or the 1970 Equal Pay Act, more of a tottering baby step on painfully high stilettos by a news organization that is just as liable to reverse direction if its bottom line suffers as a result.

Meanwhile bright individuals have rushed to act as the Sun’s useful idiots, decrying the disappearance of Page 3 as censorship and reinforcing the notion that a monstrous regiment of monstrous women are out to sabotage a nation’s innocent fun. Among their number, inevitably, are Page 3 alumnae including “international lingerie model” Rhian Sugden, who tweeted this:

Sugden is part right, except that the day has long arrived when people in comfy shoes and without bras determine the way the world is run and represented in the media. They’re called men. So if Britain’s leading red-top even slightly moderates the hostility towards women it cloaks as a bit of a laugh, that’s to be celebrated. In moderation.

TIME France

Paris Attack Hero Lassana Bathily Receives French Citizenship

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls (L) and French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve (C) award citizenship to Lassana Bathily in Paris, France, on Jan. 20, 2015.
Christophe Ena—AP French Prime Minister Manuel Valls (L) and French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve (C) award citizenship to Lassana Bathily in Paris, France, on Jan. 20, 2015.

The Muslim shop employee saved seven Jews from the Paris supermarket attack on Jan. 9

A 24-year-old Malian immigrant who hid a group of hostages during a terror attack at a kosher supermarket was awarded French citizenship Tuesday in a ceremony that showcased his courage and selflessness.

Lassana Bathily, who has lived in France for about nine years and filed his citizenship papers last summer, was fast-tracked for citizenship, sparing him from the notoriously arduous process of becoming a naturalized Frenchman.

Bathily, dressed in a black suit and white shirt, walked into Tuesday’s ceremony flanked by French Prime Minister Manuel Valls and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve. He stood with his head bowed and his hands…

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

TIME Japan

Japan’s Abe Faces Great Risk, Little Reward in ISIS Hostage Crisis

PALESTINIAN-ISRAEL-JAPAN-DIPLOMACY-ABE
Abbas Momani—AFP/Getty Images Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe looks on during a press conference with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Jan. 20, 2015, in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Japanese prime minister has few options to act after ISIS holds two citizens to $200 million ransom

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pledged to do all he can to secure the safe release of two Japanese citizens facing death threats at the hands of Islamist extremists in Syria. But experts say there’s little he can do — and he faces great risks in doing it.

Abe was winding up a six-day trip to the Middle East when militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) released a video Tuesday threatening to kill two Japanese men captured last year unless the government pays $200 million in ransom.

Militants said the demands were in retaliation for $200 million in aid that Abe had pledged just days earlier to countries opposing ISIS forces fighting in Syria and Iraq.

Abe likes to present himself as strong on defense, having taken office two years ago promising to boost military spending, ease long-standing restraints on Japan’s military and promote “proactive contributions to peace” overseas. Even before the Syria crisis, his administration was reportedly considering plans to beef up a Japanese anti-piracy base in Djibouti for rescue and other military missions in the Middle East region.

But polls show that Japanese remain deeply divided by Abe’s defense agenda. The hostage drama presents Abe with “a rather tricky balancing act,” says Koichi Nakano, a professor of political science at Sophia University in Tokyo.

“Abe needs to appear to be both tough on terrorist intimidation and deeply concerned about the plight of the hostages,” says Nakano. “If he appears soft and unable to cope with the pressure, he might start losing support. But if he appears uninterested in the lives of the Japanese hostages, he might also fall out of favor.”

Abe emphasized that his government would work to secure the hostages’ safety at a press conference late Tuesday in Jerusalem. “The international community needs to cooperate and take action without yielding to terrorism,” he said.

Even so, the crisis is certain to polarize the Japanese public. Polls show a majority remain deeply committed to Japan’s pacifist Constitution, despite a swing to the right by political leaders. Conservative rhetoric about patriotism is unlikely to sway them, says Nakano. “Their reaction is more likely to be that postwar pacifism provides a better means to protect the Japanese from such threats than Abe’s ‘pro-active’ approach.”

Perhaps ironically, Abe’s move towards a more robust defense agenda was inspired, in part, by a similar hostage crisis in the Middle East in January 2013 when ten Japanese nationals were killed by Islamist militants at a gas complex in Algeria.

In that crisis, Japan was forbidden by law from attempting a rescue operation, or even sending troops to escort survivors or bodies of the deceased out of the country. That rankled Abe – a staunch nationalist who had been in office less than a month — and almost certainly contributed to a more aggressive defense policy than he had signaled during his election campaign.

Since then, Abe has overseen three consecutive increases in annual defense spending – after 10 straight years of decline – and has unilaterally dropped a ban on collective self-defense.

He has also established a new National Security Council, which concentrates decision-making in the Prime Minister’s office, and has authorized Japan’s armed forces to form a new amphibious warfare unit to help defend Japan’s thousands of remote islands.

But for all that, Abe has precisely no military options in Syria, says Grant Newsham, senior research fellow at the Japan Forum for Strategic Studies, in Tokyo.

“Japan lacks the necessary forces for an overseas rescue. They aren’t organized or equipped or trained for such missions, even if they were ordered to undertake them. That requires a lot resources in terms of manpower, equipment, transportation and intelligence resources. It’s not that easy,” says Newsham, a former U.S. Marine Corps liaison to Japan’s Ground Self Defense Force.

Nakano says it is almost certain that Abe will not pay the ransom for the freelance journalist and self-styled mercenary who were captured separately by ISIS last year. With few options remaining and time running out, the odds of the prime minister being able to keep his pledge seem low indeed.

Read next: Japan Cabinet Okays Record Military Budget With Eye on China

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TIME France

Paris Mayor Plans to Sue Fox News

The network retracted and apologized for inaccurate reports on "no-go zones" for non-Muslims

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said in an interview Tuesday that she plans to sue the American network Fox News after it broadcast inaccurate reports on Muslim “no-go zones” in the French capital, in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks.

Her comments, which aired on CNN, come in the wake of multiple Fox News reports that describe areas of Paris as off-limits to non-Muslims and governed by Shari’a law, reports that were untrue and for which the network later apologized.

“When we’re insulted, and when we’ve had an image, then I think we’ll have to sue, I think we’ll have to go to court, in order to have these words removed,” Hidalgo told Amanpour in an interview. “The image of Paris has been prejudiced, and the honor of Paris has been prejudiced.”

Fox’s coverage of no-go zones was widely mocked by Parisian comedy programs. The network has since retracted its reports.

Michael Clemente, executive vice president at Fox News, responded Tuesday to Hidalgo’s remarks. “We empathize with the citizens of France as they go through a healing process and return to everyday life,” he said. “However, we find the Mayor’s comments regarding a lawsuit misplaced.”

Read next: Paris Attack Hero Lassana Bathily Receives French Citizenship

TIME russia

Watch the Russian Military Present Putin With a Cyborg Biker

Russian combat robots?

The Terminator exists.

Or at least a primitive version of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s famous cyborg creation does. In an RT video posted Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin is shown at a research institute outside Moscow, where he’s presented a combat robot driving an ATV bike on a controlled course. Details on the cyborg are slim, but it seems to be driving very slowly and carefully, and looks a bit like a Star Wars Stormtrooper.

The Russian military has been testing a wide variety of combat robots, a program that the U.S. has largely eschewed in favor of bomb-defusing and reconnaissance robots only. A Russian tank the size of a small car, for instance, comes equipped with a heavy machine gun and can act semi autonomously, according to Popular Mechanics.

TIME Middle East

Meet the Americans on the Front Lines in the Fight Against ISIS

Dean Parker in the Iraqi Kurdish city of Sulaymaniah after spending weeks on the front lines with Kurdish fighters in Syria. Jan. 14, 2015.
Rebecca Collard Dean Parker in the Iraqi Kurdish city of Sulaymaniah after spending weeks on the front lines with Kurdish fighters in Syria. Jan. 14, 2015.

The U.S. has said it won’t be sending soldiers to fight ISIS but some Americans have found their own way there

When the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) surrounded the Yezidi tribes on Sinjar Mountain in August last year, Dean Parker was at his job as a commercial painter in the U.S.. That evening, he saw news reports of Kurdish fighters trying to liberate the mountain.

“I made the decision right there,” says Parker, now sitting in his hotel room in the northern Iraqi city of Sulaymaniyah. “I was online booking a ticket.”

He packed body armour, boots, clothes and downloaded a copy of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War on his e-reader. He left the U.S. without telling his family. A month later the 49-year-old grandfather and surfer had traded his paintbrush and board for a rifle and was inside Syria.

For some, the motivation seems to be a cocktail of feelings that the U.S. is doing too little to combat the extremists, and the desire for action.

“[ISIS] people are bad people. They use religion, but it’s not anything about Islam. They pervert it,” says Parker. “You know, you could probably take the Bible, you could take the Koran, you take Betty Crocker’s cookbook and twist the words around enough to justify anything you wanted to do.”

The U.S. has repeatedly said there will be no American combat boots on the ground in Iraq and Syria, but these Americans have jumped this policy and landed in Syrian Kurdish territory. There are at least three Americans among around a dozen Western volunteers now fighting with Kurdish forces.

Most of the foreign recruits who have joined the fight have done so with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, known by their acronym YPG. The group’s facebook page — The Lions of Rojava — features a cover photo of half-dozen armed foreign fighters in military fatigues with a lion posing in front of a burning cityscape. “I wanna go f–k S–t up!!!!!! PM me,” posted Anthony Coletti , who appears to be from New York, expressing interest in joining the fight.

Parker says he chose the YPG because they are not designated as a terrorist organization in the US, though he says carrying a weapon in Syria is likely to earn him the attention of U.S. authorities when he returns.

“I’m sure the Department of Homeland Security is going to want to have a talk with me. And the FBI is going to want to have a talk with me,” says Parker. “That’s understandable. I don’t have anything to hide. I’m sure we’ll have a five or six hour chit-chat when I get to the airport.”

Dean Parker with Kurdish forces in Syria in December via .
FacebookDean Parker with Kurdish forces in Syria in Dec. 2014.

While Parker has no military experience, some of the other volunteers are former soldiers who served in tours in Iraq or Afghanistan. American forces lost soldiers fighting to suppress al-Qaeda in Iraq from which ISIS emerged and some veterans feel the U.S. should be doing more to destroy the group which has also been beheaded Americans.

“We let ISIS grow and did nothing about it,” Jordan Matson told a Kurdish journalist after entering Syria in August. “Me and several others are going to stay here until this fight is over.”

Matson, from Wisconsin, is believed to be the first American to join the YPG. He was wounded by a mortar bomb while fighting ISIS in Syria. Matson served in the U.S. army, but while he makes a great poster boy in military fatigues and a keffiyah, the YPG says these volunteers aren’t exactly what they need.

“Arms are more important than fighters,” says Ahmad Shiekh Hassan, head of the defense committee for Kurdish forces in Syria. He says the number of Western fighters to join his forces against the militants is less than 15, a drop in the bucket compared to the estimated 15,000 foreign fighters who have joined ISIS.

While the YPG says they are not actively recruiting foreign fighters, they have been pleading with the U.S.-led coalition for better weapons and more air strikes to help their battle, particularly in the border town of Kobani. “What do we need more fighters for if we don’t have the necessary arms and weapons to give them?” asks Hassan.

Kurds in Iraq and Syria have been promoting the idea that they are the front line in the fight against ISIS and extremism. “We are the only entity fighting terrorism in the whole Middle East,” says Hassan. “We are fighting terrorism on behalf of the whole world.”

While Kurdish forces have been more successful than others in taking ground from ISIS, U.S. law may cloud their claim that they are leading the fight against terrorism. The YPG is closely related to the Turkey-based Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), classified a terrorist organization by the U.S. and other NATO countries. And the PKK is fighting alongside the YPG in Syria. That puts these fighters in a murky area. Human Rights Watch also has raised concerns about the YPG’s use of child soldiers and accused them of violent crackdowns on Kurdish political opponents.

However, while Americans caught fighting with ISIS in Syria will face charges and jail time, State Department spokesperson Jennifer Psaki has said in October that she’s not aware of any specific law against what these men are doing. “We also of course remain concerned about any citizen traveling to take part in military operations,” she added. “We recommend any U.S. citizens remaining depart immediately.”

And beyond the risk of combat casualities, American and other Western fighters risk becoming ISIS trophies to be paraded in orange jumpsuits and possibly beheaded if they are captured on the battlefield.

TIME National Security

As Yemen’s Government Falls, So May a U.S. Strategy for Fighting Terror

YEMEN-UNREST-POLITICS
GAMAL NOMAN / AFP / Getty Images A Shiite Houthi fighter outside Yemen's presidential palace Tuesday.

Rebels launch coup against vital U.S. ally

As the nation awaited President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday—and any new decision on how he plans to wage war on Islamic fundamentalism—one of his key approaches seems on the verge of collapse in Yemen.

Shiite Houthi rebels attacked the home of Yemen’s president as they rushed into the presidential palace in Sana’a, the Yemeni capital. Government officials said a coup against President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi was underway. “The President has no control,” a Yemeni government spokesman told CNN.

Hadi is a key U.S. ally in the war against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, but his grip on power has been pounded by Houthi forces over the past four months. Fighting between Hadi’s Sunni government and the Shiite Houthis has created a vacuum that experts fear AQAP will exploit to expand its power base in the increasingly lawless nation.

Saïd Kouachi and Chérif Kouachi, French brothers of Muslim descent, said they carried out their attack on Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical magazine, on behalf of AQAP. “Tell the media that this is Al Qaeda in Yemen!” the Kouachi brothers shouted outside the magazine after their massacre.

Washington has cited its relationship with Yemen as breeding success in the war on terror. On Sept. 10, as Obama announced the start of a bombing campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, he heralded his lighter approach to dealing with terror by citing Yemen.

“I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he told the nation from the White House. “This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.” But 11 days later, Hadi’s government was driven from parts of the capital of Sana’a by the Houthis, who have since gained control of several ministries.

“U.S. counter-terrorism policies in Yemen worked in the short term to keep al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula from engaging in some attacks on the U.S. that al Qaeda wanted desperately to carry out,” former top Pentagon official David Sedney said Tuesday. “But that short-term success was never accompanied by a long-term strategy, and the result has been horrific—a country that is now in chaos, dominated by groups with diverse ideologies but who share a common theme—they hate the U.S. and want vengeance for the evils they believe we have wrecked upon them.”

The U.S. anti-terror policy in Yemen of a “light footprint”—drones, special-ops units and training for local forces—isn’t working, Sedney says. “The drone strikes and fierce attacks by U.S.-trained and -mentored Yemeni special forces have created hordes of new enemies for the U.S. who see us as supporters of a decrepit, oppressive, and corrupt leadership,” says Sedney, who from 2009 to 2013 ran the Pentagon office responsible for Afghanistan, Pakistan and central Asia.

U.S. Department of DefenseYemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi meets with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel at the Pentagon in July 2013.

“What is not clear is whether the Administration has learned any lessons as its failures mount,” he adds. “If the only U.S. response is to increase drone strikes and send in more special forces, then we better get prepared for some difficult, violent years ahead.”

Christopher Swift, a Yemen expert at Georgetown University, says U.S. efforts in Yemen have been lackluster. “Our relationships, whether they’re political or military, don’t extend beyond the capital,” he says. “The bad guys are out in the field, far away from the national capital, and to the extent we claim to have relationships out in the bush, they’re based on third-party sources or overhead surveillance.”

U.S. goals in Yemen have always been tempered. “We’ve been playing for very limited, very modest objectives in Yemen,” Swift says. “Yemen is still a place where people who want inspiration, or training, or a place to hide can go. AQAP isn’t going away. The Yemenis are not in a position to make it go away, and we’re not willing to help them defeat AQAP decisively.”

Between 2011 and 2014, the U.S. pumped $343 million into Yemen, largely to fight AQAP. The U.S. is slated to provide Yemen with $125 million in arms and military training in 2015, in addition to $75 million in humanitarian aid, according to the nonprofit Security Assistance Monitor website.

“Despite their aggressive actions against AQAP, the Houthis have continually expressed anti-American rhetoric,” Seth Binder of the Security Assistance Monitor wrote Jan. 9. “And AQAP has used the Houthi’s Zaidi-Shi’a roots, a sect of Shiite Islam, to frame their battle as a Sunni-Shiite conflict. Recent reports indicate the tactic may be working as an increasing number of disenchanted Sunni tribesman are joining AQAP.”

Sedney says the only way of transforming a society like Yemen’s is full-bore nation building, with the time and money required to make it work. “We always want to have an exit,” Sedney says, “and the problem with real life is there’s no exit.”

TIME U.K.

British Jihadist Who Faked Death To Return Home Is Convicted of Terrorism

Khawaja joined fighters in Syria in January 2014

A British man who faked his death in Syria to allow him to return home has admitted to four terrorism offences, BBC reports.

Imran Khawaja, 27, from London, fought in Syria for six months in 2014. After posting a message online on social media in June suggesting he had been killed in the conflict, Khawaja attempted to return to the U.K. undetected.

Khawaja admitted to preparing for acts of terrorism, attending a camp, receiving training and possessing firearms. The hearing took place last year but is only being reported now because of legal restrictions.

Police say Khawaja’s group in Syria committed acts of serious violence, as well as being involved in propaganda recruiting drives — with Khawaja captured on camera posing with a severed head.

His cousin, 44-year-old Tahir Bhatti, said he helped his cousin return, driving him back home from Bulgaria. The two were arrested at the English port of Dover. Bhatti has pleaded guilty to assisting an offender, while another man, 33-year-old Asim Ali, pleaded guilty to making £300 ($455) available to Khawaja for the purposes of terrorism. All three men will be sentenced next month.

Head of London’s Counter Terrorism Command, Richard Walton, said: “Imran Khawaja was not a vulnerable teenager that has traveled out to Syria and been corcerced to travel to Syria. This is a man who has chosen the path of terrorism…this is a dangerous man, a trained terrorist.”

[BBC]

TIME indonesia

AirAsia Flight 8501 Climbed ‘Beyond Normal’ Speed, Officials Say

AirAsia aircraft tail storage is recovered
Denny Pohan—Demotix/Corbis AirAsia aircraft tail is recovered from the Java Sea on Jan. 12, 2015, in Pangkalan Bun, Indonesia

The plane reportedly climbed at 6,000 ft. per minute before stalling

An airplane that crashed in Indonesia late December was climbing at “beyond normal” speed before it pitched into the Java Sea, the country’s Transportation Minister said Tuesday.

Ignasius Jonan told a hearing into the AirAsia Flight 8501 crash that the plane stalled after climbing at 6,000 ft. per minute — faster than a fighter jet, the Jakarta Post reports. A total of 162 passengers and crew are believed dead.

“The average speed of a commercial aircraft is probably between 1,000 and 2,000 ft. per minute, because the aircraft is not designed to soar so fast,” he said.

The update comes a week after the recovery of the plane’s “black boxes,” a flight-data recorder and cockpit-voice recorder.

Investigators have ruled out terrorism after reviewing the black boxes and are considering human error, technical malfunction and inclement weather as possible causes for the steep climb and the crash.

[Jakarta Post]

Read next: Search Crews Locate Missing AirAsia Flight’s Fuselage

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