TIME Israel

At Least Four Killed in Terror Attack on Jerusalem Synagogue

Israel Jerusalem Palestine Synagogue Attack
Ilia Yefimovich—Getty Images Israeli emergency personnel take the body of an Israeli man out of a synagogue after a terror attack in the neighborhood of Har Nof, western Jerusalem on Nov. 18, 2014.

At least three victims were American-Israeli citizens

At least four people, including three American-Israeli dual-citizens, were killed at a Jerusalem synagogue Tuesday, authorities said.

The attack, which occurred at 7 a.m., was carried out by two Palestinian assailants armed with knives and axes, in the Orthodox community of Har Nof, Israeli police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld told CNN. Police shot and killed both of them, he added. One police officer was injured and remains in critical condition.

The attack is reported to be the deadliest attack against civilians in Israel in several years. All four of the confirmed dead were rabbis, including 59-year-old Moshe Twersky, the New York Times reports.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “We will respond with a heavy hand to the brutal murder of Jews who came to pray and were met by reprehensible murderers.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged Palestinian leadership to condemn the attack. “They must begin to take serious steps to restrain any kind of incitement that comes from their language, from other people’s language, and exhibit the kind of leadership that is necessary to put this region on a different path,” he said.

TIME National Security

Obama Said to Order Review of U.S. Hostage Policy

In the wake of several high-profile hostage cases with terror groups

President Barack Obama has ordered a review of how the United States responds to Americans who are detained abroad, according to a recent letter from a Pentagon official to a member of Congress, in the wake of several high-profile hostage cases with terror groups.

The letter from Christine Wormuth, undersecretary of defense for policy, came in response to an inquiry from Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., and outlines that emphasis will be placed on themes including “family engagement, intelligence collection, and diplomatic engagement policies.”

The government’s refusal to pay ransom has been publicly debated in recent months following the executions of Americans by the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria. Hunter’s letter was dated Aug. 20, one day after a video emerged of the beheading of journalist James Foley. A similar video appeared in September showing the death of journalist Steven Sotloff and, this past weekend, of American aid worker Peter (Abdul-Rahman) Kassig.

On Monday, according to ABC News, National Security Council Spokesman Alistair Baskey said the “comprehensive review” would include the FBI, Departments of Defense and State and larger intelligence community.

Read more at ABC News

TIME Terrorism

Terrorism-Related Deaths Up 60% Last Year, Study Says

AFGHANISTAN-UNREST-ATTACKS
Farshad Usyan—AFP/Getty Images An Afghan policeman is seen through the wreckage of a taxi which was destroyed by a suicide attack targeting a vehicle convoy of Afghan lawmakers in Kabul, Afghanistan on Nov. 16, 2014.

More than 80% of the deaths occurred in Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria

Nearly 18,000 people were killed in terrorist-related incidents last year, a 60% increase from the previous year, a new study found. Deaths have increased five-fold since 2000.

The report, compiled by the Institute for Economics & Peace, attributes the increased terrorist activity to the growing influence of “radical Islamic groups.” Two thirds of the fatalities came at the hands of ISIS, Boko Haram, al-Qaeda and the Taliban, the report said.

“Given the theological nature of the problem it is difficult for outside actors to be influential,” Steve Killelea, institute executive chairman, said in a statement.

As the number of deaths has expanded, the location of attacks has remained limited. More than 80% of the deaths occurred in just five countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria.

TIME Britain

Watch as the Man Who Wants to Be Britain’s Next Prime Minister is Taken Down by a Former Pop Singer

Myleene Klass attacked Ed Milliband over policy for a new tax on properties worth more than $3 million

Ed Miliband, the beleaguered leader of Britain’s opposition party Labour, was taken down on Monday night by a surprising foe: former UK pop star and television presenter Myleene Klass.

The clash took place on the UK panel show The Agenda, where both Miliband, who hopes to be voted in as Britain’s next prime minister in next year’s election, and Klass appeared as guests. Klass wasted no time in taking Miliband to task for his party’s proposed tax on homes worth £2 million ($3.1 million) or more — widely known as the “mansion tax” — in order to put more funds into the country’s National Health Service (NHS).

“For me, it’s so disturbing – the name in its own right: ‘mansion tax’” said Klass, who rose to fame in the early aughts, when she took part in Simon Cowell’s reality TV show Popstars. “When you do look at the people who will be suffering this tax, it’s true a lot of them are grannies who have had these houses in their families for a long, long time. The people who are the super, super rich buying their houses for £140 million, this is not necessarily going to affect them because they’ve got their tax rebates and amazing accountants. It’s going to be the little grannies who have lived in those houses for years and years.”

For his part, Miliband seemed unprepared for the attack, in spite of recent criticism in the UK press and rumors of backlash from within his own party. He responded to the criticism by noting, “I totally understand that people don’t like paying more in tax. The values of my government are going to be different to the values of this [current Conservative] government.”

Yet Klass continued to grill the politician on precise figures, while questioning whether the tax would actually help improve national health care.

“You may as well just tax me on this glass of water. You can’t just point at things and tax them,” she said.

Many people watching the interview took to social media to comment on Miliband’s weak defense:

 

 

 

 

Of course, there were also viewers who were turned off by Klass — who has an estimated net worth of £11 million ($17.2 million) — arguing that a tax on millionaires would cause suffering:

 

 

 

TIME Japan

Japan’s Abe Calls Early Election to Save His Grand Economic Plan

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attends a news conference at his official residence in Tokyo
Toru Hanai—Reuters Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attends a news conference at his official residence in Tokyo on Nov. 18, 2014.

Second stage of VAT hike is put back by 18 months to allow the economy to haul itself out of recession again

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called early elections and delayed by 18 months a second big hike in value-added tax, in an effort to rescue his floundering plan to revive the economy.

Abe told a press conference that he would dissolve parliament and call the elections for December 14, just 26 days from now. Under normal circumstances, his mandate would run for another two years.

The news comes only a day after the shock announcement that Japan’s economy fell into recession in the third quarter, failing to recover–even moderately–from a plunge in output that followed the first stage of a two-stage hike in VAT in April.

Figures released Monday had shown gross domestic product contracting by 1.6% in annualized terms, with all components of the economy falling short of what economists had expected.

Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party currently holds over 294 of the 425 seats in Japan’s lower house, making it likely that it will be hold on to an overall majority barring disasters. However, it is less likely to be able to keep the two-thirds majority that it currently enjoys by virtue of its coalition with the New Komeito Party.

That super-majority, which means it can overrule the upper chamber of Japan’s two-chamber parliament, has been vital for pushing through a radical three-pronged economic strategy–dubbed as ‘Abenomics’–for jumpstarting Japan out of a 20-year struggle with stagnation and deflation.

The strategy revolves around a massive monetary stimulus from the Bank of Japan, and a sharp, two-stage increase in tax on consumption to plug Japan’s yawning government deficit, and deregulation of a range of business activities.

The economy had initially responded well to the first “arrow” of that strategy, with the yen falling sharply and fears of deflation fading in response to the Bank of Japan’s stimulus. Exporters also benefited, with companies like Toyota Motor Corp. posting sharp increases in sales and raising its full-year profit forecast after two strong quarters. But the 5% increase in VAT killed all momentum in the domestic economy, sending both consumption and business investment into reverse all through the spring and summer.

With signs of the “deflationary mindset” returning, the Bank of Japan ramped up the printing presses again at the start of the month. Abe admitted that the first tax hike had hit consumption and said that going ahead with the second stage, initially planned for next October, would jeopardize Japan’s chances of winning its battle with deflation.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME indonesia

Female Police Recruits in Indonesia Are Made to Take ‘Virginity Tests’

Incoming Indonesian President Joko Widodo visits Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
Firman Hidayat—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images Indonesian army and police during the rehearsal for the ceremony to greet Joko Widodo as the country's new leader at the presidential palace in Jakarta on Oct 19, 2014

"All women who want to become policewomen should keep their virginity,” says the police force's jobs website

Woman applying to join Indonesia’s national police are subjected to “virginity tests” that are described by recipients as “painful and traumatic,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Tuesday.

Although senior police authorities insist the practice had been abolished, HRW claims to have interviewed female police officers and applicants in six Indonesian cities who had undergone the “discriminatory and degrading” test — two of them in 2014.

Nisha Varia, associate women’s rights director at HRW, said the practice “humiliates women” and called on police authorities to “immediately and unequivocally abolish the test, and then make certain that all police recruiting stations nationwide stop administering it.”

The practice is administered as part of the recruitment physical examination, two senior policewomen told HRW, and is intended to determine whether female applicants’ hymens are intact.

One 24-year-old recruit described the test as “really upsetting” in an interview with HRW. “I feared that after they performed the test I would not be a virgin anymore,” she said. “It really hurt. My friend even fainted because … it really hurt, really hurt.”

In response to the HRW report, a spokesman of the Indonesian police told local media that “there are no virginity tests in the selection of policewomen.” But he added: “In the selection process, there are comprehensive medical tests for men. In medical tests for men and women, we also conduct examinations of reproductive organs, not virginity tests.”

However, the Indonesian national police’s jobs website still states: “Policewomen must also undergo virginity tests. So all women who want to become policewomen should keep their virginity.”

Only 3% of Indonesia’s 400,000 police officers are women. Married women are not eligible to join the police.

“So-called virginity tests are discriminatory and a form of gender-based violence — not a measure of women’s eligibility for a career in the police,” Varia said. “This pernicious practice not only keeps able women out of the police, but deprives all Indonesians of a police force with the most genuinely qualified officers.”

— With reporting by Yenni Kwok

Read next: ‘Virginity Tests’ Throw Spotlight on Indonesia’s Conflicted Sexual Morality

TIME South Korea

South Korea’s Labor Ministry Issued Sexist Job Advice for Women

A jobseeker looks at a board showing job information at an office of the Employment Information Service in Seoul
Truth Leem—Reuters A job seeker looks at a board showing job information at an office of the Employment Information Service in Seoul on May 11, 2011

You don't mind a bit of sexual harassment, do you ladies?

Women in South Korea were advised by a government website to tell potential employers they do not mind sex jokes in the workplace, had no plans to get married and were willing to take on menial tasks like making coffee.

The statements were among job-interview guidelines posted on a site run by the country’s Labor Ministry, the Korea Herald reports

The post, which incurred the anger of several local advocacy groups and was taken down on Friday, compiled “ideal answers” for potential interview questions.

When a woman was asked about her opinion on sexual harassment, her response should be: “I wouldn’t mind casual jokes about sex and it is sometimes necessary to deal with [sexual harassment] by making a joke in return,” the guidelines stated.

Women were told to say, “I have no interest in getting married for awhile,” even if they did plan to get married, because the ministry said women often quit their jobs after marriage.

And of course no woman should be reluctant to make trips to the pantry. “I will do my very best even if it is just making a single cup of coffee,” is what the ministry told female job seekers to say.

A group of NGOs, including the Korean National Council of Women, denounced the post. “The government is in fact encouraging employers to discriminate against women,” they said in a joint statement.

[Korea Herald]

TIME India

Angry Mob of Doctors Beats Man to Death in India for Stealing Cellphones

Police found him lying in a pool of blood after being beaten and slashed with razors

A group of about 12 junior doctors at an Indian medical school tortured and killed a man they suspected of being a thief, according to local police.

The doctors from the 140-year-old Nilanjan Sircar Medical College and Hospital in the Eastern Indian city of Kolkata (Calcutta) on Sunday allegedly tied the man up in a private room, beat him with bamboo sticks and slashed his genitals with razors, AFP reports.

Kolkata’s deputy police commissioner Dhrubajyoti De told AFP that preliminary inquiries indicate that the victim, who was found lying in a pool of blood in a room at the college, was accosted by the doctors for stealing mobile phones. “The kind of marks on his body bear the marks of inhumane torture,” De said.

The victim was declared dead upon his arrival at the emergency room and has not yet been identified. Local newspaper Hindustan Times reported that he was caught in the act of stealing a cellphone from a room in the college dormitories.

According to the Times, two canteen workers have been taken into police custody for questioning, although one of them told reporters he didn’t know anything about the incident.

TIME Hong Kong

Hong Kong Protesters Greet Court Officials With Indifference

Farcical scenes as bailiffs take down some barricades then retreat leaving other barriers untouched

Hong Kong officials began enforcing the first of several court injunctions and started removing barricades in part of the downtown Admiralty district on Tuesday morning, in the first attempt to clear the streets through judicial means since the Umbrella Revolution began almost two months ago.

But if the action was meant as a show of strength by the unpopular administration of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying against protesters who are demanding free elections, it was a failure and at times degenerated into farce.

The injunction had been obtained by the owners of an office building, CITIC Tower, against demonstrators who had erected barricades partially blocking vehicular access to the property, which looms over Tim Mei Avenue on the fringe of Hong Kong’s largest protest area.

However, bailiffs were only able to hastily remove a few barricades because the locations of those targeted for removal were only vaguely marked on maps relating to the injunction, allowing protesters to dispute the precise terms of the court order.

Nervous looking representatives of CITIC Tower were drowned out by a cocksure protester with a loudhailer as they attempted to negotiate. Nimble young students in hoodies and face masks were also able to seize metal barriers before white-gloved, middle-aged bailiffs could reach them. The students then carried the barriers off to reinforce barricades erected elsewhere.

Pro-democracy legislator Albert Ho, who has been giving legal advice to the protesters, said the fact that a private entity such as CITIC Tower had to resort to a civil action to clear the barricades showed the government’s weakness.

“The only explanation is that the administration has lost its confidence — because of a lack of authority and a lack of legitimacy — to enforce the law,” he said.

Earlier in the day, uniformed and plainclothes police remained on standby as bailiffs read out a court order to smirking students before dismantling the makeshift barricades. But none of the expected clashes materialized. Instead, most demonstrators lazed in the bright fall sunshine, while 18-year-old student leader Joshua Wong nonchalantly skateboarded up and down the road.

Around the corner on Harcourt Road, the main protest area, dubbed Umbrella Square, lay unmolested. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of tents, formed a sea of color. At the western extremity of the site a large yellow banner read “Welcome to the Hong Kong Commune.”

Thousands of protesters have occupied crucial roads in the Admiralty district — a city-center area of gleaming corporate towers and the central government offices — and two other major commercial areas since a campaign of civil disobedience first commenced on Sept. 28.

They are seeking full democracy for Hong Kong, with the right to freely nominate and vote for candidates for the city’s top job. At present, the territory’s sovereign power, China, will only permit direct elections if it vets the candidates.

However, seven weeks in, the movement appears to be losing part of the goodwill it once enjoyed among the city’s residents. Ongoing traffic delays are forcing some parents to leave home before dawn to get their children to school on time, while retailers in the protest zones have seen their takings plummet.

A new survey published by the Chinese University of Hong Kong this week claimed that approximately 67% of the city’s residents are now in favor of the demonstrators leaving the streets.

But the feeble enforcement action on Tuesday shows that it will be difficult to dislodge the protesters, who continue to enjoy high levels of morale.

“Students and activists will respect the judgment of the courts,” Joshua Wong told TIME. “But it’s unnecessary to clear the whole of Tim Mei Avenue.”

For now, the protest site remains virtually unchanged. But many believe that today was merely a dress rehearsal for what is to come.

“This morning is more or less intended to be a show for the public,” said legislator Ho. He said he thought that the government also wanted to show the more radical protesters encamped across Victoria Harbor in the Mong Kok area of Kowloon, that it was serious about enforcing the law.

Others believe that it is only a matter of time before the government takes a tougher approach. “We think they are waiting for the right time to do something,” said protester Alex, 22. “We just don’t know what’s going to happen.”

With reporting by Helen Regan / Hong Kong

TIME faith

Pope Francis Says Children Have a Right to a Father and a Mother

VATICAN-POPE
Filippo Monteforte—AFP/Getty Images Pope Francis kisses a baby during an audience with members of the Association of Italian Catholic Doctors at Paul VI audience hall at the Vatican on Nov. 15, 2014.

The statement seems at odds with the Vatican leader's push to make the church more accepting of nontraditional families

Pope Francis caused quite a stir on Monday with a statement that was criticized as a rolling back of his much lauded attempts to make the Catholic Church more inclusive of the LGBT community.

“Children have a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother,” said the Pope during a speech at the Complementarity of Man and Woman conference in Rome.

The statement, made to the attending conservative religious leaders around the world, was the only concrete reference the Pope made to heterosexuality, with the rest of the speech remaining largely ambiguous on the concept of complementarity between man and woman.

Many religious leaders present at the conference took this to mean an unequivocal support of traditional families. “Pope Francis made clear that male/female complementarity is essential to marriage and cannot be revised by contemporary ideologies,” Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention tweeted.

However, the Pontiff’s announcement at the conclusion of his speech that he will attend Philadelphia’s World Meeting of the Families in September was conversely deemed a nod toward more acceptance of nontraditional families.

Sister Simone Campbell, an advocate on various social-justice issues who has taken on the church in the past, predicted that there would be several nontraditional families present at the Philadelphia conference. “He’s bringing in the various realities and letting people speak for themselves, and that creates change,” Campbell told the Washington Post. “He’s opening hearts. He’s not changing definitions.”

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