TIME South Korea

Uber CEO Indicted in South Korea

Uber has hit another roadblock

South Korean prosecutors have indicted the local subsidiary of Uber, the ride-sharing app firm embroiled in numerous controversies worldwide, for violating the nation’s transportation laws.

The indictment also names Uber’s CEO, Travis Kalanick, for flouting a South Korean law that prohibits any person or company from using rental cars for paid transportation services without the correct license, Reuters reports, citing South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency.

Yonhap reports that prosecutors will not make any arrests but that the penalty for the alleged crime is a fine of up around $18,000 or a prison sentence of up to two years. Uber tells Bloomberg that it will cooperate fully with any investigation.

The U.S.-based company has weathered a year of scandals — most crushingly, the alleged rape of a passenger by an Uber driver in New Delhi — and has been banned in several countries, including Germany, Spain and Thailand.

TIME Soccer

A Nepalese World Cup Worker Dies Every Other Day in Qatar

Prakash Mathema—AFP/Getty Nepalese migrant workers queue to receive official documents in order to leave Nepal from the Labour department in Kathmandu on January 27, 2014.

The appalling toll comes despite Qatari claims of reform

The Guardian reports that Nepalese migrants building the infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar died at a rate of one in every two days during 2014.

The death toll excludes deaths among Indian, Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi workers. The Guardian believes that if these figures were included, the death toll would “almost certainly” be more than one a day.

Human rights organizations have accused Qatar on falling behind on the investigations and labor reforms they vowed to implement following a report by international law firm DLA Piper published in May.

“It’s Qatar’s responsibility to determine if deaths are related to living and working conditions, but Qatar flatly rejected a DLA Piper recommendation to launch an immediate investigation into these deaths last year,” said Nicholas McGeehan, the Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch.

The Nepalese foreign employment board told the newspaper that 67 of its nationals had died of cardiac arrest and 8 of heart attacks, while 34 death were logged as workplace accidents.

Read more at the Guardian


Iranian Prison Vows to Revisit Case of Marine Veteran Amir Hekmati

Hekmati family—Freeamir.org/AP This undated file photo released by his family via FreeAmir.org shows Amir Hekmati.

The Michigan resident ended his hunger strike Tuesday

Marine veteran Amir Hekmati has quit his hunger strike in Iran’s Evin Prison after officials said they would take steps to have his case revisited by Iranian authorities.

A spokesman for the Hekmati family declared Tuesday that the 31-year-old had ended the strike he started the week before, reports the Flint Journal.

Hekmati, an Arizona native and long-time Michigan resident, was arrested in Iran in August 2011 on allegations of being a spy. His family claims he was simply visiting his grandmother in Tehran.

Last week, Hekmati released an open letter to U.S. President Barack Obama that he dictated over phone to his family.

“It is my hope that after reading this letter you, or anyone who may see this, will help end the nightmare I have been living,” the letter stated. “As you are well aware, I have been detained in Evin Prison in Iran for more than three years. … I remain confined without a fair trial and no idea or understanding of what is to be my fate.”

U.S. officials have been outspoken in their support of Hekmati, and a group of fellow Marine veterans who joined Hekmati’s hunger strike have vowed to continue until “Iran does the right thing.”

“We welcome their willingness to revisit his case, but the only solution here is to free Amir unconditionally,” said Marine veteran Brandon Walker.

The Hekmati family’s spokesperson voiced their appreciation for those who support his case: “The family, particularly Amir’s ailing father, is deeply moved by the thousands who have joined the campaign.”

[Flint Journal]

TIME Canada

Life in Prison for Murderer Who Sent Victim’s Limbs to Schools

Rocco Luka Magnotta, also known as Eric Clinton Newman and Vladimir Romanov, is shown in this undated handout photo released by Montreal Police
Reuters Rocco Luka Magnotta, also known as Eric Clinton Newman and Vladimir Romanov, is shown in this undated handout photo released by the Montreal Police to Reuters on May 30, 2012

Shipments of body parts horrified Canada

A Canadian jury sentenced a 32-year old former porn actor to life in prison Tuesday for a grisly murder that shocked the nation.

Luka Magnotta was convicted of killing and dismembering his Chinese lover, Jun Lin, 33, and shipping his body parts to Canadian schools and political organizations. He even detailed his plan to a British reporter six months before the crime, according to the Associated Press.

Magnotta’s lawyer, Luc Leclair, argued that his client has schizophrenia and was unable to comprehend the immorality of his actions. Speaking on Magnotta’s behalf, Leclair recognized that the life-sentence was to be expected.

“[Magnotta] accepts the verdict,” he said. “For quite some time now he has been preparing for the verdict with his father, some friends and his therapist. He has been focusing on rebuilding his life.”

In May 2012, Jun Lin’s severed foot arrived at Canada’s Conservative Party headquarters; the Liberal Party received his hand. His torso was later found in a dumpster outside of Magnotta’s apartment complex, and a week later his other foot and hand turned up at two schools in Vancouver.

Jun Lin was a Chinese national who is said to have fallen in love with Montreal and had been living in the city since 2011.

Magnotta will be eligible for parole after 25 years.


TIME Thailand

See Personal Possessions of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami Victims

Ten years after the devastating tsunami killed more than 227,000 people, possessions of some victims found in a shipping container are arranged to be photographed outside a police station in Phang Nga province, Thailand on Dec. 19, 2014

TIME celebrities

TIME Remembers: In Memoriam 2014

Looking back at those we lost this year

From iconic comedian Joan Rivers to Westboro Baptist Church pastor Fred Phelps, and legendary Washington Post newsman Ben Bradlee to former Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, here’s TIME’s look back at some of the famous faces we lost in 2014.


Uber Training Session in China Raided by Police

There were more than 20 drivers in attendance, including one person who had recently been released from prison after a conviction for theft, a report said

A training session held by Uber was reportedly raided in a city located in southwest China, the latest woes to hit the ride sharing startup.

Police last week raided an Uber training session held in Chongqing, according to the Wall Street Journal, which citied a report by the 21st Century Business Herald newspaper. There were more than 20 drivers in attendance, including one person who had recently been released from prison after a conviction for theft, the Journal added. The Chongqing government has reportedly been investigating the legality of Uber’s business model using private drivers, Reuters has reported.

Fortune e-mailed a handful of questions to Uber and received a terse reply that never directly addressed any of the questions. Uber wouldn’t even confirm if the raid occurred, although the Journal says it told them that the raid happened.

“We are actively communicating and seeking clarification with Chongqing government. Uber remains dedicated to serving the local transportation needs in Chongqing, and making contributions to smart transportation development through our leading technology,” said Uber representative Natalia Montalvo in an e-mailed statement.

Uber first dipped its toes into the Chinese market in 2013 with an initial test launch in Shanghai. The startup has since expanded its reach to other Chinese cities.

Uber, now reportedly valued at $40 billion by investors, has faced a number of questions about the quality of background checks performed on its drivers. Fortune earlier this month dug into many of the woes the company is currently facing, including troubles overseas and public relations blemishes.

This article first appeared on fortune.com


Pakistan’s New Strategy to Beat the Taliban

The Peshawar massacre must mark a turning point in Pakistan's battle against Taliban militants

Nearly a week after Pakistan’s worst-ever terrorist attack resulted in the death of 132 schoolchildren in Peshawar, the grief has turned to anger. As the Pakistan army pounds militant targets, the country’s politicians have achieved rare unity against the Taliban. For the first time, there are large protests outside mosques in Islamabad notorious for their pro-Taliban sympathies.

None of this should be surprising. No society can remain unmoved by the mass slaughter of their most vulnerable. That message appears to have finally registered with horror-hardened Pakistanis in a way that hasn’t been the case these past several years. “We are not making any differentiation,” Khawaja Muhammad Asif, the Defense Minister, said of the new approach. “All Taliban are bad Taliban.”

But many are right to question the durability of this new resolve. After all, in the past, Pakistan has seen assassinations, massacres of minorities, attacks on high-profile installations, even the seizure of large territory. Each time, there would be a bout of public outrage that would inevitably dissipate. Old arguments about whether the Taliban should be confronted or negotiated with would be revived.

This time, though, there is evidence of real change. Since the summer, the Pakistan military has been mounting an ambitious ground offensive in North Waziristan, the most hazardous of the country’s seven tribal areas. The armed forces had long resisted doing so out of fear of a backlash, despite repeated Western pressure. It took worsening action from the militants and a new army chief to make a difference.

The Peshawar massacre demonstrates that the militants are being hurt by the offensive. They feel the need to raise the human cost to Pakistanis of such military operations—and they did so in blood. But this time, the politicians aren’t balking. They have resolved that this war is their own, and that they can no longer afford to discriminate between so-called “good Taliban”—those who operate in Afghanistan—and the “bad Taliban” fighting the military in Pakistan.

The problem in Pakistan hasn’t been support for the Taliban. That exists and exists still, as the well-attended funerals of militants hanged in the aftermath attests. The enthusiasts have always been a minority. The problem is with those who don’t believe the Taliban exist, pleading that Muslims could never slaughter coreligionists, fingering India, Afghanistan, the U.S. and Israel instead. And there are those who still see the militants as a merely misguided group that would cease if violence if the state stopped attacking them. These apologists and equivocators have long enjoyed prestige and influence in the Pakistani media.

The Pakistani leadership is finally taking a more clear-eyed view of the militant menace. They aim to destroy not only the Taliban, but, Defense Minister Asif told me, extremism altogether. “Extremism of any kind, of thought, action, religious or political extremism is bad,” he said. “We have to eliminate them wherever we find them.”

As for those preachers continue to retain some affection for child-murderers, ordinary citizens are assailing them on the streets. On Monday, protesters gathered in five different cities across Pakistan to “reclaim their mosques” from Taliban sympathizers who abuse their pulpits to incite militant violence. They are calling on the police to arrest these imams, braving serious threats from militants.

There’s reason to be skeptical. As one Pakistani columnist sourly mused, there have been so many “last straws” in the struggle against the Taliban that there’s now a mountainous haystack. And the response so far has been characterized more by an immediate desire for vengeance than a long-term pursuit of justice. The execution of convicted militants gratifies widespread calls for revenge, and helps the government and military show people they are doing something.

But when facing an enemy that craves “martyrdom,” such measures hardly constitute a long-term strategy. For a state that has nurtured jihadists as instruments of official policy, and long encouraged its citizenry to look upon them as holy warriors, rolling back that history is a tremendous challenge.

In recent years, Pakistan has only ever fought militants when it felt it absolutely must. More often it has appeased them when it could. It has tolerated those that don’t attack the state directly. And it has steadily supported the ones who use its soil to launch attacks in Kashmir and Afghanistan. As some have quipped, it has been both “the fireman” and “the arsonist” of militancy.

Given the frailty of a state that can’t enforce basic laws, collect tax or provide electricity, it would be foolish to expect Pakistan to mount simultaneous assault on this bewildering array of scattered groups. But Pakistan does need to stop being the arsonist, though. In the short-term, the militants that pose the greatest threat— the Pakistani Taliban—will have to be a priority. As the Taliban are targeted, the state will also have a responsibility to protect its citizens at the same time. More massacres would severely strain the new consensus. The government will also have to overhaul its security structure. In the cities, and the largest province of Punjab, the sledgehammer of military action won’t be effective.

They will need civilian law-enforcement agencies that can act, but also prosecutors who can effectively bring culprits to justice and protect those who help the state in that task. One of the greatest scandals of this government has been the failure to prosecute the self-confessed killers of hundreds of Pakistani Shias, murdered by sectarian militants who regard them as infidels. The witnesses, judges, and prosecutors were too afraid of reprisals to act.

This won’t be a short war, either. Unlike the U.S. in Afghanistan, Pakistan cannot simply withdraw from the region. It has to stay— forever. In the long run, madrassas will have to be reformed, mosques cleared of extremist preachers, and militant groups defanged of their vast arsenals.

It will be a war whose end cannot be foreseen today. It is easy to sit in Western capitals and complain that Pakistan isn’t doing enough, as many argued last week. But from the point of view of a long traumatized population that is repeatedly forced to lower its children in early graves, the sentiment trespasses the boundaries of taste. Pakistanis don’t want pity or sympathy. At this crucial moment, they deserve the world’s solidarity.


Car Crash Victim Woke from Coma Speaking French and Thinking He Was Matthew McConaughey

He hadn't spoken the language in 12 years

A 25-year-old British man awoke after a car crash believing he was Hollywood actor Matthew McConaughey and speaking fluent French, despite only having a very basic grasp from school.

Rory Curtis, a former semi-professional soccer player, suffered a severe brain injury after an accident in August 2012. He was in an induced coma for six days while doctors tried to save his life. When he woke up, he began speaking to nurses in French. Curtis told the Daily Mail: “I can’t explain how it happened. It’s incredible really…I was just casually chatting away about how I was feeling in this perfect French accent.”

He added: “I wasn’t really that good at it at school, so I don’t how my brain has managed to do what is has. I don’t know how I know it — I just do.”

“Also, in my head I thought I was Matthew McConaughey… At times I was in hospital thinking, ‘I can’t wait to get out of here and back to filming movies.'”

Thanks to an experimental drug, Curtis has now recovered and has retrained as a barber. But while he now knows he isn’t a famous Hollywood actor, he is still able to speak perfect French more than two years later.

[Daily Mail]

TIME foreign affairs

High School Revisited: Kim Jong Un Gets an Invite from Russia

AFP / Getty Images North Korea leader Kim Jong un, seated at right, visits a command center of the North Korean army in this undated photograph provided by North Korea.

Chilly relations persist between North Korea and China, its traditional date

It’s possible to see North Korea’s alleged cyber attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment as little more than high schoolers intercepting notes sent from desk to desk during class when the teacher wasn’t looking.

But geo-strategically, the schoolhouse drama ratcheted up Monday, when the Russians confirmed that they have invited Kim Jong Un to Moscow next May—before the North Korean leader meets with the leadership of China, his country’s historic benefactor.

Russian presidential aide Yury Ushakov said that Kim has been invited to Russia’s 70th anniversary celebrating the end of World War II. “Invitations have been sent to many leaders of countries, including Kim Jong Un,” he told reporters. “Signals have been received that he means to come to Moscow and participate in the celebrations.”

READ MORE North Korea’s Internet Comes Back on After About 9 Hours

All the international chest-thumping over the U.S. claim that North Korea hacked into Sony’s computers, destroying data and posting embarrassing revelations about the company’s internal workings for all the world to read, misses a bigger point: Beijing is not happy with Kim Jong Un, and Moscow’s move on the Outstanding Leader highlights just how far he has fallen in Beijing’s esteem.

Kim has counted on financial support from China to keep his impoverished nation alive. With the price of oil collapsing, there’s little chance that Russian President Vladimir Putin will be able to offer much financial aid to Pyongyang.

In a further example of warming ties, the official North Korean news agency on Sunday hailed the publication of Kim’s Let Us Brilliantly Accomplish the Revolutionary Cause of Juche, Holding Kim Jong Il in High Esteem as the Eternal General Secretary of Our Party in Russia. “Juche” is Korean for self-reliance, a mantra of Kim Jong Il, the father of the current North Korean leader.

READ MORE The Interview Is Not the First Time Hollywood Bowed To a Dictator

Kim has never visited a foreign country since taking over North Korea following the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, in 2011. China would be the natural place for his debut on the world stage, given the alliance between the two nations that dates back more than a half-century to the Korean War.

But strains between the two longtime allies began to show following missile and nuclear-weapons tests, including a 2013 atomic blast after Kim assumed command. The Chinese government summoned Pyongyang’s ambassador to the foreign ministry in Beijing to decry that test, and reduced energy shipments to North Korea.

Relations between Beijing and Pyongyang remain chilly. Chinese President Xi Jinping visited South Korea in July, the first time that a Chinese leader visited Seoul before Pyongyang. “The Chinese are so displeased with Kim’s leadership style and actions that Chinese President Xi has visited Seoul and hosted South Korean president Park in Beijing, but Xi has not visited Pyongyang and has not invited Kim to Beijing,” former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst John McCreary wrote Monday. “Last week in Beijing, President Xi met the speaker of the South Korean national assembly, apparently to emphasize Chinese preferences.”

Adding to the pressure, China is investigating North Korea’s possible role in the Sony hack, Bloomberg reported Monday.

READ MORE Ukraine Inches Closer to NATO in Important Vote

Things could get dicey in Moscow if Kim accepts Putin’s invite. In another flashback to high school, Moscow also has invited South Korean President Park Geun-hye to the anniversary celebration. If both attend, it could lead to the first meeting between the two Korean leaders.

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