TIME foreign affairs

Syria’s Latest Victim: International Law

The crisis in the Ukraine has rightly focused attention on the implications for international law as well as international relations. But it is not the only contemporary example of disarray in the defence of international laws. The war in Syria is not only descending into a war without end. It is a war without law — international humanitarian law.

Civilians are not just caught in the crossfire—they are targeted.The statistics tell their own story. Out of a population of 22 million, 9 million Syrians have been displaced from their homes. 130,000 are dead; 180,000 have been carted off to government prisons; 2.2 million children inside the country, according to the UN, are not in school; over 4 million people have been designated by the UN as “hard to reach,” which means that they are making do with barely any help beyond what they can do for each other.

UN Resolution 2139 demanded access to besieged areas; respect of humanitarian law in the conduct of war; safe passage for civilians from conflict zones; and unimpeded passage for aid workers into those zones. The Security Council offered clear requirements and expectations which are now being flagrantly ignored. Laws of war that represent hard-headed, high-priced lessons from brutal conflicts of the past two centuries have been cast aside.

Civilians are not just caught in the crossfire — they are targeted by barrel bombs, artillery bombardments, snipers, massacres, chemical weapons attacks. All except chemical weapon attacks continue. There are six priorities if those inside Syria are to get some protection.

First, each permanent member of the Security Council, and others concerned with the crisis, should appoint a full-time Humanitarian Envoy. They would need to be people of genuine stature with seasoned global diplomatic credibility — former Ministers and UN or other Ambassadors with the personal mandate of their head of government.

They would work through the detail of the implementation of the resolution; support the UN Humanitarian Coordinator Valerie Amos; engage third parties, notably supporters of the belligerents; pool information about transgressions of the UN resolution; and reach out to NGOs. This proposal is not for a further UN Envoy: Lakhdar Brahimi is understandably focused on the political track. Nor a replacement for the diplomatic Special Envoy for Syria, recently taken up by Daniel Rubinstein. This would be a full-time humanitarian role.

Second, legitimize, enhance and support cross-border activity to provide relief supplies to civilians in rebel-held areas as demanded in the UN resolution. To meet the needs of victims is a right not a privilege under the Fourth Geneva Convention and related protocols. The duties of the Government of Syria and other parties to the conflict are clear — including to authorize entry and passage of humanitarian aid. In certain hard to reach areas, cross-border work is the fastest, most effective route to alleviate suffering. It needs to be resourced and delivered quickly and safely.

Third, make real the goal of access to besieged areas. There is experience from Sudan (Operation Lifeline Sudan) and Afghanistan (Operation Salaam) for how to negotiate access across conflict lines during a civil war. It requires political leadership, credible interlocutors, willingness to work with all sides, and clear pressure on all sides.

Fourth, engage all relevant powers in the humanitarian dialog. Whatever the reasons for Iran’s absence from the talks in Geneva, it is essential that the Government in Tehran is engaged in the effort to douse the humanitarian fire. It is clearly an active party in the conflict, and needs to be as accountable as others for the humanitarian consequences of the actions of its chosen side in the conflict.

Fifth, the UN and its agencies must maximize the potential of humanitarian organizations to fulfill the mandate of the resolution. This will only done if funding guidelines are flexible enough to include sub grants to NGOs working inside opposition-held areas of Syria; if the cost of NGO work from neighboring countries is included in the UN appeals; if there is logistical and supply chain support, including capacity mapping of transport providers and vetted partners.

And sixth, we need an effective system of resettlement in third countries. The UNHCR has now called for 100,000 refugees to be resettled in 2015 and 2016, calling the 30,000 it called for in 2014 a “first benchmark” — these are resettlements for those with the greatest needs including orphans, victims of torture, and the disabled. This is both a symbolic show of solidarity with the neighboring countries, as well as a substantive contribution to the individuals concerned. Only 18,000 places have so far been offered this year, and the IRC is calling on the US to fill the gap by creating at least 12,000 emergency places in the US in 2014.

On Monday, the Secretary General released his report to the Security Council on the first month of “progress” since the passage of the resolution. In fact, the barriers to humanitarian access are still in place. We have seen continuity, not change. On Friday, the Security Council is set to discuss the resolution — it is time for those responsible to be held accountable.

David Miliband is the president & CEO of the International Rescue Committee and the former UK foreign secretary.

TIME Secret Service

Secret Service Agents Booted From Obama’s Europe Trip After Drinking

Three agents from President Obama's security detail were sent packing after it became known they were drinking before his arrival to Amsterdam. One of the agents was reportedly found passed out in a hotel hallway

Three Secret Service agents were sent back to the U.S. from President Barack Obama’s Europe trip after spending a night out drinking in Amsterdam, according to the Washington Post.

One agent was reportedly found unconscious in a corridor by hotel staff Sunday morning, just hours before Obama was due to arrive in The Netherlands. Hotel staff alerted the nation’s U.S. Embassy, which passed along the message to Secret Service top brass accompanying the president.

Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary confirmed to TIME that three of the agency’s employees were sent home for disciplinary reasons.

The Amsterdam incident comes just shy of a year after a handful of Secret Service agents and officers spent an evening drinking and soliciting prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia, ahead of Obama’s attendance of an economic summit there.

A law enforcement source told TIME that none of the Secret Service staff involved in the Amsterdam incident were supervisors.

[Washington Post]

TIME Military

U.S. Special Ops Planning for Action in Globe’s ‘Dark Areas’

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Getty Images

Seeking “critical” but “non-existent” intelligence for a dozen nations

The U.S. military is always busy planning for war pretty much everywhere, but some places are tougher nuts to crack than others. That’s why the U.S. Special Operations Command is seeking “Geospatial Data on Countries of Interest for Which There is a Critical Need But Non-Existent Data.”

Just who might those countries be? According to a USSCOM announcement posted Monday, the “initial dataset” consists of “Jordan, Djibouti, Burma, Honduras, Iran, Morocco, Nigeria, Trinidad & Tobago, Burkina Faso, S. Sudan, N. Korea, and China (Guangdong).”

That sounds a story list on a cover of an old National Geographic (Guangdong—formerly known as Canton—is a province on China’s South China Sea coast. It is the most populous and richest of China’s 22 provinces, and its two leading cities, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, are among the largest and most important in the country).

“USSOCOM has a mission for Special Operations Forces (SOF) to prepare and operate in dynamic and diverse environments,” the announcement says. “Commercial sources and other government agencies have not yet gathered data and information on some countries of interest for which there is a critical need.”

The goal is to provide the U.S. military with satellite maps that chart people—and their activities—as well as topography. The Pentagon calls it “human geography.” Think of it as Google Earth on steroids.

“Contractor will provide geospatially referenced, rectified, socio-cultural data on a number of countries for which there is a critical need but non-existent data,” USSOCOM says. “Research will include, but is not limited to, data that informs customers of the countries’ ethnography, language, education, politics, religion, and economy.”

Beyond that, American commandos want to gather “locational data on infrastructure points of interest” including military installations, “GSM [cell phone] tower locations,” airfields, “companies conducting mineral/gas/resource surveys,” embassies, refugee camps, “Internet café locations” (as well as “information on owners”) and “smuggling routes” for narcotics, humans and arms. They also want to know about “VEO [violent extremist organization] sympathies versus host government/western sympathies.”

The U.S. military has long been plagued by cartographic complications. In 1983, American troops invading Grenada had to rely on photocopies of tourist maps. In 1999, an Air Force B-2 mistakenly bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, instead of the nearby Yugoslav Federal Directorate for Supply and Procurement after a string of errors, killing three Chinese.

The Special Ops command plans on expanding an existing contract for the data with GeoEye Analytics Inc., a subsidiary of DigitalGlobe, Inc. (the same folks who recently located a fake Iranian aircraft carrier for the U.S. Navy, who launched a crowdsourcing effort to find missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and who provide satellite imagery to Google Maps). USSOCOM’s statement provided no information on the cost of the original contract or the modification, set to happen Mar. 31; USSOCOM officials did not respond to questions about the price.

“Supporting a wide range of defense and intelligence customers, DigitalGlobe is committed to meeting and exceeding their strategic and tactical requirements and expectations,” the Longmont, Colo.-based company says on its website. “From supporting military actions and national security to emergency management and mapping intelligence, DigitalGlobe supports national and international customers to keep their citizens safe and protect precious resources.”

The contract is sole source. “This unique satellite constellation provides high resolution imagery not available from other commercial sources,” the government says. “Digital Globe purchased their primary competitor, GeoEye, in 2013. The only other competitor is Spot Image, a consortium of foreign state-owned interests led by the French Space Agency, Centre National d ’Etudes Spatiales.” Zut alors! Can’t have that.

“For over 20 years DigitalGlobe has compiled an exclusive in-house archive of over four billion square kilometers of high quality imagery used in high-fidelity geospatial information products,” the government adds (the company is currently photographing more than 3 million square kilometers daily). “DigitalGlobe has a unique satellite constellation for collecting data in areas not available through commercial means…The human geography field is in its infancy and data is non-existent for ‘dark areas’ of the globe and of interest to SOF.”

TIME

Central African Republic Marks a Grim Anniversary of Chaos

An African Union (AU) soldier stands guard outside a home at the end of a funeral of two men killed by sectarian violence in the Muslim neighbourhood of Kilometre 5 (PK5) in the capital Bangui
An African Union soldier stands guard outside a home at the end of a funeral of two men killed in the Muslim neighborhood of PK-5, in Bangui, on March 23, 2014. Siegfried Modola—Reuters

The lawless state struggles for stability a year after Muslim rebels overthrew the government and began a nine-month campaign of terror prompting retaliation by Christian militias

The Central African Republic marked a grim anniversary on March 24, one year after mostly Muslim rebels seized power and began a reign of terror that prompted largely Christian militias to respond with unprecedented fury. The newest clashes between militiamen and foreign peacekeepers in the capital, Bangui, left at least nine people dead and underscored how the chronically poor state, ravaged by corrupt governance and continually propped up by international aid, faces its steepest climb yet to stability.

Aid groups and experts estimate that untold thousands have been killed since Séléka rebels forced out President François Bozizé after his decade of rule. More than half of the country’s 4.6 million people are in need of basic aid and one-fourth have been forced to flee their homes. “This is the worst year in the country’s history,” said Joanne Mariner, a senior crisis advisor with Amnesty International who frequently documents abuses around the country. “It’s an unhappy anniversary.”

Séléka, with Chadian and Sudanese militants in its ranks, fed up with the government’s shunning of the historically marginalized Muslim minority, scrapped a truce. The installation of rebel commander Michel Djotodia as the first Muslim president became a free pass for Séléka to commit atrocities against the majority Christian population. Then, Christians and animists, including soldiers from the country’s disorganized armed forces, formed into armed groups called anti-balaka to fight back, leading to two days of December street warfare that killed about a thousand people.

That carnage made rare international headlines and prompted former colonial ruler France and the African Union to send in thousands of peacekeepers to protect civilians and begin restoring order. Séléka couldn’t match the foreigners’ firepower and began to retreat from Bangui. However, with troops focused on protecting Christians, anti-balaka filled the power void and began attacking Muslims in the capital and northwest. Three months of retaliatory looting and killing, a purge classified as “ethnic cleansing” by experts, has pushed an estimated 300,000 Muslims into neighboring countries. It also calls into question the efficacy of Catherine Samba-Panza, the mayor of Bangui promoted two months ago to Interim President, who pledged to end the violence.

Lewis Mudge, a Rwanda-based researcher with the Africa division of Human Rights Watch, just returned from a 10-day trip to the C.A.R.’s southwestern region. He called it “a lawless zone” where the anti-balaka confidently roam and where the last remaining Muslims in the country are trying to get out.

“They’re using artisanal, homemade shotguns,” he said of the Christian vigilantes, deemed “terrorists” this week by the African Union after they killed a Congolese peacekeeper. “They wound people with these guns and they finish them off with machetes. It’s pretty savage,” he told TIME, and others have stronger weaponry. “Anti-balaka groups feel that they have complete impunity on roads, and at often times they do. These killings are happening with nobody around to watch them and to witness them and to record them.”

In an interview with Deutsche Welle, Interim Prime Minister Andre Nzapayeke outlined the transitional government’s “two-pronged approach” to relieving chaos: dialogue with those responsible for the madness and the implementation of an effective and swift justice system. “We have to take concrete steps to arrest offenders, bring them to court and send them to jail,” he said. “It is only through the judiciary that we can restore the authority of the state in Central African Republic. It is the only way to restore confidence of the people in the state.”

How long it will take to embolden the crumbled political institutions is unclear. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has proposed sending in thousands more peacekeepers to aid the effort, but any force approved by the Security Council wouldn’t deploy before the end of summer. That bodes ill for a country that has driven out nearly all of its Muslims, the merchants and cattle herders responsible for its food production, ahead of the rainy season. “The worse the country gets,” said Mariner, “the more difficult it is going to be to put back together in any way.”

TIME Foreign Policy

Reid Clears Way for Ukraine Aid Package

Senate Democrats Speak To The Media After Their Weekly Policy Luncheon
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid speaks during a briefing after the weekly Senate Democratic Policy Committee luncheon March 25, 2014 at the Capitol in Washington. Alex Wong—Getty Images

The Senate is likely to pass a bill this week featuring $1 billion in loan guarantees for the crisis-stricken country after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid decided to drop an IMF reform provision that drew intense Republican resistance

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday that he’ll remove a controversial provision that tied U.S. aid for Ukraine to reforms to the International Monetary Fund.

Reid, the Democratic leader, made his move after discussions with swing Republican votes in the chamber and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez. House Republicans had opposed tying IMF reform to Ukraine aid, and in his comments Tuesday, Reid said he was following the lead of Secretary of State John Kerry; Kerry has said that if he had to choose between IMF reforms or Ukraine aid, he would opt for the latter.

“I feel very strongly about IMF reform, we need to get that done,” Reid said Tuesday. “But this bill is important. As John Kerry said yesterday, he wants both of them but the main thing is to get the aid now. So I’m following John Kerry’s lead.”

The Senate will now likely pass a bill this week that includes $1 billion in loan guarantees, an additional $150 million of security and governance assistance, and sanctions authorization against Ukrainians and Russians who were involved in the secession of the Crimea region from Ukraine to Russia. But it will not include reforms to the IMF, which would have boosted funding to Ukraine by $600 million and would have increased the voting power and financial contributions of emerging economies like Brazil, Mexico, China and Turkey, something the Obama Administration has sought since 2010. Just as Reid’s office was discussing removing those reforms from the Senate package Monday night with Republican Sens. Bob Corker and John McCain, Christine Lagarde, the Managing Director of the IMF, pleaded in the Wall Street Journal for the provision, arguing that it would improve economic growth and stability without costing America either in IMF influence nor finance, as some Republicans have warned.

In exchange for IMF financing, House Republicans had insisted on a one-year delay in Internal Revenue Service rules governing political activity by some nonprofit groups, an unpalatable offer for most Democrats. On Monday, Reid went so far as to link the Republican “obstructionism” to the loss of Crimea itself.

“It’s impossible to know whether events would have unfolded differently if the United States had responded to Russian aggression with a strong, unified voice,” Reid said. Those comments were echoed by Menendez on the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon.”I cannot believe that the House leadership will not put national security interests above a partisan, political interest,” he said.

House Republicans have argued that the Senate should pass the $1 billion loan guarantee measure its chamber passed on March 6 with an overwhelming majority. House Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday that the House will consider a sanctions package this week and that the Senate should stop bringing “unrelated objects” into the discussion. “The sooner we act, the better,” he said.

TIME

What You Need to Know About the Ebola Virus

A man desinfects a warehouse of the Swiss branch of the NGO Medecins sans Frontieres in Conakry, Guinea.
A man desinfects a warehouse of the Swiss branch of the NGO Medecins sans Frontieres in Conakry, Guinea, March 25, 2014. Cellou Binani—AFP/Getty Images

An outbreak in Guinea has killed nearly 60 people

Updated March 25, 2014, 2:32 p.m.

The West African country of Guinea is experiencing an outbreak of deadly Ebola hemorrhagic fever, and a brief scare that the virus had appeared in Canada this morning was quickly ruled out.

This is the first time Ebola has been detected in Guinea, and according to the World Health Organization (WHO), it has a fatality rate of up to 90%. As of Monday, there were 86 suspected cases and 59 suspected deaths from Ebola in Guinea. According to Gregory Härtl, head of WHO public relations, 13 blood samples taken taken from those suspected cases and deaths have been confirmed as Ebola. People outside of Guinea have little to worry about, but here are five things you need to know about the deadly disease:

What is Ebola?

Ebola hemorrhagic fever as an often fatal disease that can by contracted by humans and nonhuman primates like monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees. It’s caused by the virus Ebolavirus, the first cases occurred in 1976 in Nzara, Sudan, and in Yambuku, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Why is the Guinea outbreak more worrisome than others?

There have been other ebola outbreaks in Africa in the past, but this case appears to be especially contagious. “In Guinea, a country with a weak medical infrastructure, an outbreak like this can be devastating,” UNICEF Representative in Guinea, Dr.Mohamed Ag Ayoya said in a statement.But since nearly everyone with the disease dies, it’s unlikely to infect mass numbers of people like, say, HIV.

Where did Ebola come from and how is it transmitted?

The original host of the disease is unknown, but researchers believe it definitely came from an animal, with bats being the most likely culprits. Ebola infects humans through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs, or other bodily fluids of infected animals, WHO says. Human-to-human transmission is more difficult, but it’s possible through close contact with bodily fluids of infected people. Health workers without proper protection can be infected, as well as people conducting burial ceremonies where they have direct contact with the body.

Härtl says there may be multiple points of entry for the disease in humans in Guinea.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of Ebola can appear between two to 21 days after initial contact, and include fever, weakness, muscle pain, headache, and sore throat. These symptoms are followed by vomiting, diarrhea rash, and poor kidney and liver function. In some cases, a patient can also experience internal and external bleeding.

How is it treated?

There is no known cure or vaccine for Ebola. Patients are usually dehydrated, so they are given oral or intravenous fluid containing electrolytes. Patients must be quarantined. There are currently treatments and vaccines under development, but most have not been tested in humans. It may be a long time before any treatment is confirmed to work.

The story was updated with the number of confirmed Ebola cases.

TIME ukraine crisis

Obama Downplays Threat From ‘Regional Power’ Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin Attends An Award Ceremony At The Kremlin
Sasha Mordovets—Getty Images

President Obama downplayed the threat posed by Russia after its annexation of Crimea and threatened to enact new sanctions if the country goes "further"

President Barack Obama moved to downplay the international threat from Russia on Tuesday, branding it a “regional power” that is threatening its neighbors in Ukraine “not out of strength, but out of weakness.”

Asked by reporters if former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was right in 2012 when he called Russia “America’s biggest geopolitical foe,” Obama said the country’s incursion into Ukrainian territory was just one of a “whole lot of challenges” facing the U.S. “The fact that Russia felt compelled to go in militarily and lay bare these violations of international law indicates less influence, not more,” he said.

“Russia’s actions are a problem. They don’t pose the number-one national security threat to the United States,” he said at a joint press conference with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the close of the Nuclear Security Summit at The Hague. “I continue to be much more concerned when it comes to our security with the prospect of a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan.”

Obama’s response may have the counterproductive effect of further provoking Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom American officials have said is clinging to visions of reasserting Russia’s role as a global power.

But the president added that the international community is prepared to place economic sanctions on sectors of the Russian economy should that country go “further” in Ukraine, leaving unstated the specific criteria that would elicit such a response.

“Our preference throughout will be to resolve this diplomatically,” Obama said. “But I think we’re prepared, as we’ve already shown, to take the next step if the situation gets worse.”

U.S. officials have only said that Russia intruding deeper into southern and eastern Ukraine would provoke the economic sanctions, but have stayed mum on whether a continuation of the status quo would result in the highly disruptive action. Some European allies are uncomfortable with the notion of sanctions on the Russian economy, in particular sanctions on its energy industry, wary of the potential impact on their own economies. As he works to unify the opposition to Russia’s annexation of Crimea on a six-day foreign trip, Obama acknowledged the concern.

“Some particular sanctions would hurt some countries more than others,” he said. “But all of us recognize that we have to stand up for a core principle that lies at the heart of the international order and that facilitated the European Union and the incredible prosperity and peace that Europe has enjoyed now for decades. And so although it could cause some disruptions to each of our economies or certain industries, what I’ve been encouraged by is the firmness and the willingness on the part of all countries to look at ways in which they can participate in this process.”

Obama asserted that Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula is “not a done deal,” but added, “there’s no expectation that they will be dislodged by force.” Asked about the estimated 30,000 Russian troops massed along Ukraine’s borders, Obama said Russia is legally entitled to have its troops on its own soil, adding he believes Russia is “still making a series of calculations” about whether to push deeper into Ukraine.

“Those calculations will be impacted in part by how unified the United States and Europe are and the international community is in saying to Russia that this is not how, in the 21st century, we resolve disputes,” Obama said. “I think it’s particularly important for all of us to dismiss this notion that somehow Russia speakers or Russian nationals inside of Ukraine are threatened and that somehow that would justify Russian action. There has been no evidence that Russian speakers have been in any way threatened.”

TIME Domestic Surveillance

Obama Calls for Congress to Pass NSA Reform ‘Quickly’

President Barack Obama pauses before answering a question during a joint news conference with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the conclusion of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, Netherlands, March 25, 2014.
President Barack Obama pauses before answering a question during a joint news conference with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the conclusion of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, Netherlands, March 25, 2014. Pablo Martinez Monsivais—AP

President Obama has asked Congress to "quickly" reform a controversial National Security Administration surveillance program, allowing phone companies to keep data from Americans' calls but requiring authorities to seek judicial approval before accessing it

President Barack Obama called Tuesday for Congress to “quickly” pass legislation to reform a controversial National Security Agency surveillance program.

Obama’s proposal would end the spy agency’s bulk collection of telephone metadata, instead allowing phone companies to keep the data and requiring law enforcement and intelligence officials to seek judicial approval before accessing the information. The new Obama administration proposal follows months of reviews into the surveillance program following its revelation in documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Speaking to reporters Tuesday in a joint news conference marking the end of the Nuclear Security Summit with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte at The Hague, Obama said the dramatically scaled-back program would answer the concerns of many critics of the surveillance effort.

“This ensures that government is not in possession of that bulk data,” Obama said. “I recognize that people were concerned about what might happen in the future with that bulk data. This proposal that’s been presented to me would eliminate that concern.

“The second thing that people were concerned about is making sure that not only is a judge overseeing the overall program but also that a judge is looking at each individual inquiry that’s made into a database, and this new plan that’s been presented to me does that,” Obama added. “So overall, I’m confident that it allows us to do what is necessary in order to deal with the dangers of a terrorist attack, but does so in a way that addresses some of the concerns that people had raised. And I’m looking forward to working with Congress to make sure we go ahead and pass the enabling legislation quickly, so that we can get on with the business of effective law enforcement.”

Administration officials said they will seek authorization from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to extend the existing surveillance program until Congress acts.

Asked by a Dutch reporter about lingering effects of revelations of American surveillance of European leaders and foreign nationals, Obama said “any one issue can be an irritant in the relationship between the countries, but it doesn’t define those relationships.”

Obama took aim at “sensationalized” reporting about the scope of American surveillance, but acknowledged why people may be concerned.

“I think the fears about our privacy in this age of the Internet and big data are justified,” Obama said. “I think the actual facts — people would have an assurance that if you are just the ordinary citizen in any of these countries, that your privacy, in fact, is not being invaded on. But I recognize that because of these revelations, that there’s a process that’s taking place where we have to win back the trust, not just of governments but more importantly of ordinary citizens. And that’s not going to happen overnight because I think that there’s a tendency to be skeptical of government and to be skeptical in particular of U.S. intelligence services.

“The step we took that was announced today I think is an example of us slowly, systematically putting in more checks, balances, legal processes,” Obama added. “The good news is that I’m very confident that it can be achieved. And I’m also confident that the core values that America has always believed in — in terms of privacy, rule of law, individual rights — that that has guided, you know, the United States for many years and it will continue to guide us into the future.”

TIME

Danish Zoo Behind Giraffe Killing Just Put Down Four Healthy Lions

Copenhagen Zoo lions tuck into the remains of Marius the giraffe, Feb. 10, 2014.
Copenhagen Zoo lions tuck into the remains of Marius the giraffe, Feb. 10, 2014. Gonzales Photo—Demotix/Corbis

A zoo in Copenhagen has put down two lions and two cubs to make way for a new male, who would have killed them "as soon as he got the chance," just one month after euthanizing Marius the giraffe to an onslaught of international outrage

The Copenhagen Zoo put down two lions and two 10-month-old cubs, all healthy, to make room for a new male lion Monday.

A spokesperson told Agence France-Presse that the lions were killed because the new male would have killed them “as soon as he got the chance.”

This news comes just one month after the Danish zoo incited international vitriol, not to mention death threats, for shooting a healthy 18-month-old giraffe named Marius in the head with a bolt gun and then publicly dissecting him in front of small children and feeding him to lions.

The zoo defended its killing of the giraffe because of Europe’s inbreeding laws, even though other zoos offered to take Marius off its hands.

[AFP]

TIME Africa

Pistorius Trial Adjourned as Prosecution Rests

The man known as Blade Runner could testify later this week

+ READ ARTICLE

Prosecutors in the trial of Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius rested their case Tuesday after 15 days of testimony, setting the stage for the accused murderer to take the witness stand himself when his defense begins.

The trial of Pistorius, who is accused of murder after fatally shooting his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Feb. 14 last year, was adjourned for two days as defense lawyers prepared the athlete’s case. He is expected to testify in his defense, possibly as early as Friday.

The final day of prosecution ended with Pistorius’ lawyer suggesting the double-amputee known as Blade runner and his girlfriend had been a loving and happy couple. The claim came after evidence was presented Monday of text messages Steenkamp had sent Pistorius, in which she admitted she was “scared” of him sometimes.

But attorney Barry Roux said only four messages out of hundreds showed evidence of any arguments, Sky Sports reports.

Pistorius has denied intentionally killing his girlfriend, maintaining that when he shot her several times through a locked bathroom door it was because he thought she was an intruder. The trial is in its fourth week and is not expected to conclude until May. If found guilty of murder, Pistorius could face life in prison.

[Sky Sports]

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