TIME Iraq

Iraq Approves New Unity Government, Sets the Stage for Combatting ISIS

Hadi Mizban—AP Iraq's new Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, right, and Ammar al-Hakim, left, the leader of the Supreme Islamic Council of Iraq, during the session to approve the new government in Baghdad on Sept. 8, 2014

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hails the new administration as a "major milestone"

Iraq’s parliament has approved a new government, setting the stage for expanded U.S. military support to battle the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).

The new cabinet was sworn in amid mounting international and domestic pressure to end a weeks-long political deadlock between the nation’s Shi‘ite majority and its Sunni and Kurdish minorities. Incoming Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, a Shi‘ite, will be flanked by Sunni and Kurdish deputies, both of whom have also been appointed key ministerial posts.

Al-Abadi released a statement, in which he vowed to “work with all communities in Iraq.” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called the new government a “major milestone.”

Yet the power-sharing deal wasn’t reached until a stormy Monday parliamentary session spilled well into the night, just barely staving off the Wednesday constitutional deadline. Several key posts were also left vacant, including those of Defense and Interior Minister. Al-Abadi has promised to fill those positions within a week.

The new government arrives at a precarious juncture. Over the past few months, ISIS militants have taken control over vast swaths of Iraq’s northern territory and continue to pose a serious threat to the central authorities.

Many Sunni rebels have been recruited into the extremist group’s swelling ranks after becoming estranged by a government seen to support indiscriminate attacks against Sunnis. There is also a long-standing conflict between Baghdad and Kurds over oil revenues, the nonpayment of which has weakened the Kurdish resistance against the extremists.

Al-Abadi’s predecessor Nouri al-Maliki resigned in August amid accusations from the Sunni and Kurdish communities that he was bolstering sectarianism. The new Prime Minister touched on these tensions by praising Shi‘ite militias and citizens who stopped ISIS fighters from reaching Baghdad this summer, but also declaring that “any armed formation outside the authority of the state is banned,” Reuters reports.

The new cabinet sets the stage for U.S. President Barack Obama’s expected announcement Wednesday of a wider battle strategy against ISIS that would hinge on inclusive reforms in Iraq.

“Now is the time for Iraq’s leaders to govern their nation with the same vision and sense of purpose that helped bring this new government together in the first place,” Kerry said in response to the new government. “In that effort they should know that the United States will stand shoulder to shoulder with Iraqis as they implement their national plan.”

However, huge uncertainties remain over what impact the power-sharing deal will have. Sunni militants have indicated that they may switch sides if the power structure in Baghdad was reformed, the BBC reports, but there are also doubts over what reforms the election of al-Abadi, who comes from the same political party as al-Maliki, would bring. Al-Maliki was sworn into the mainly ceremonial role of co–Vice President on Monday.

“Appointing someone from the same Dawa party to succeed [al-Maliki] is like appointing a Baathist to replace Saddam Hussein,” a tribal leader going by the nom de guerre Abu Muhammad al-Zubaai told the British broadcaster.

In addition, the Kurdish parliamentary delegation has reportedly set a three-month deadline for sorting out their differences with Baghdad.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says “almost every country” has a role in fighting ISIS.

TIME Economy

A Global Jobs Crisis Is Coming, Says World Bank

And a new report says there’s no immediate solution in sight for the problem

We are heading for a global jobs crisis, says the World Bank, warning that 600 million new jobs would have to be created by the year 2030 just to keep up with current levels of population growth.

A study released by the organization Tuesday at the G-20 Labor and Employment Ministerial Meeting in Australia indicates there are currently over 100 million people unemployed and around 447 million that live on less than $2 per day across G-20 member nations, reports Agence France-Presse.

“As this report makes clear, there is a shortage of jobs — and quality jobs,” said Nigel Twose, the World Bank’s senior director for jobs. He warns that although progress had been made in emerging economies like Brazil, China and South Africa, wage and income inequality continues to widen in several G-20 countries.

“There is no magic bullet to solve this jobs crisis, in emerging markets or advanced economies,” Twose said, adding that the creation of enough jobs to sustain the growing population calls for “a whole of government approach cutting across different ministries, and of course the direct and sustained involvement of the private sector.”

[AFP]

TIME Parenting

When Parents and the State Disagree Over a Child’s Medical Treatment

ASHYA KING
Filip Singer—EPA Five-year-old Ashya King is accompanied by his parents Brett, left, and Naghmeh King, right, on his arrival at the Motol hospital in Prague on Sept. 8, 2014

A British couple prevails after a long fight for access to alternative medical treatment for their son, but the debate over parental rights goes on

It almost sounds like the plot of a dystopian novel: a British couple was arrested in Spain and thrown in jail after they took their 5-year-old boy, who has a brain tumor, out of a British state hospital to seek alternative treatment abroad. The wrenching case has unleashed an international debate over parental rights, medical ethics and who should have the final word when it comes to the fate of an extremely ill child.

The boy, Ashya King, was diagnosed with a brain tumor in July. After a surgery to remove the tumor at Southampton General Hospital, in southern England, doctors recommended that Ashya undergo chemotherapy and radiotherapy. (The hospital told TIME that with such treatment, Ashya’s survival rate was between 70% and 80%.) But Brett and Naghmeh King weren’t comfortable with the idea of chemotherapy and began asking the doctors about proton-beam therapy, which is believed to target tumors more precisely than radiotherapy and is thought to be less physically devastating than chemo. According to Brett King, Ashya’s doctor told him that the treatment “would have no benefit whatsoever.” Yet the Kings, who had researched proton-beam therapy and had contacted a clinic in the Czech Republic that offered the treatment, felt differently. So, on Aug. 28, the couple took their son from the hospital and traveled to Spain, in order to sell their property to raise funds to pay for Ashya’s treatment privately.

Unbeknownst to them, the British hospital then contacted the authorities and notified them that Ashya’s life was in danger without proper medical supervision and the Kings were nowhere to be found. (Brett King later said he had told doctors he planned to take his son abroad.) Britain’s Crown Prosecution Services (CPS) issued a European arrest warrant for the couple on suspicion of neglect and cruelty to a child. It wasn’t long before the Kings were found and arrested by Spanish police, while little Ashya was placed alone in a hospital near Málaga, without his family to comfort him.

The ordeal made headlines across the U.K., where a lot of emphasis was placed on the family’s beliefs (they’re Jehovah’s Witnesses), and more than 130,000 people signed an online petition calling for the boy to be reunited with his parents. It was three days before the couple was released and CPS dropped their arrest warrant. The hospital has also suggested that they would now support the family’s decision to seek proton-beam therapy for Ashya.

On Monday Sept. 8, the family was able to transfer the boy to Prague’s Motol hospital where doctors will assess his condition before a potential move to a proton-therapy center. But the family’s ordeal has set raised a spate of questions. How did this happen? How did this couple — who are, by most accounts, loving, devoted parents that only want the best for their desperately ill child — end up being pursued by the authorities in not one, but two countries and thrown in jail? Why did a small boy find himself alone in a foreign hospital without his parents or siblings to comfort him? It’s a murky, complicated case and, for many reasons, it’s not clear just where the blame lies.

Despite the international police search and the arrest of the worried, loving parents of a sick child, British authorities have now admitted that Ashya wasn’t facing much danger. Though the CPS’s spokesman insisted in a statement that at the time the arrest warrant was issued authorities were convinced that there was a “serious risk of threat to [Ashya’s] life,” he also noted that investigators had later found that:

[Brett and Naghmeh King] did take certain steps to safeguard the health of Ashya, for example it appears they had ordered specialist foods to care for Ashya, and had managed to charge [his] food pump using their car battery. Also, evidence from two independent medical experts indicated that the risk to Ashya’s life was not as great or immediate as had been originally thought. Accordingly the necessary element of wilful neglect to support a charge of child cruelty could not be proved to the required standard.

As for University Hospital Southampton Trust (UHS), which runs Southampton General Hospital, they stand behind the decision to alert authorities about Ashya, saying in a statement that it was “in line with Trust policy.” Michael Marsh, the medical director at UHS, also said in a statement on Sept. 1, “We very much regret that the communication and relationship with the King family had broken down in this way and that for whatever reason they have lost confidence in us.”

It’s clear that there was definitely a breakdown in trust and communication between the Kings and the doctors. What’s less clear is how that breakdown occurred. For his part, Brett King has said, in a series of YouTube videos posted online, his son’s doctor didn’t appear to be willing to discuss alternative treatments. “He said, more or less, that if I questioned him in anyway regarding his treatment they would get an emergency protection order and take [Ashya] away from me.”

Peter Haughton, a senior adviser in medical ethics and law at King’s College London, tells TIME that in most medical cases, “the law and the ethics are very clear. Both the parents and the doctors have a duty of care [to act in the child’s best interests] and the law backs that.”

But in this case, when the parents and the doctors weren’t seeing eye to eye about what was best for the boy, things spun out of control. Though Haughton maintains that the hospital was in line with “their duty of care” in alerting the police, he adds that it’s typically only when it “can be demonstrated that [the parents] aren’t acting in the best interest of the child that society steps in. One thinks of that [in terms of] neglect and those sorts of things, but this wasn’t neglect. This was actually the parents desperately trying to find the best treatment which they thought they were being denied.”

“Normally these things get resolved with a conversation, you find a common perspective,” he says.

Many have suggested that both the police and the hospital overreacted and stepped out of line. (Court disputes over the medical treatment of minors are rare in the U.K., let alone a full-flung police investigation.) Several high-profile figures have also spoken out in support of the Kings, with Prime Minister David Cameron going so far as to publicly state via a spokesman that he believed they were trying to “do the very best for” their son.

Others have suggested that prejudice might have played a part in the incident. Suzanne Moore, a columnist for the Guardian, wrote on Sept. 1 that the Kings “have been effectively criminalised for their distress. And possibly their faith.”

That’s a view shared by British author Ian McEwan, whose most recent novel, The Children Act, is about judge who has to decide whether to force a child to have a blood transfusion against the wishes of his parents, who happen to be Jehovah’s Witnesses. McEwan weighs in on the case in an interview with TIME, calling it an “almighty screwup” and adding, “I’ve got a strong suspicion that when the hospital and the police overreacted, it was influenced by the fact that the parents were Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

Though there was no indication that the Kings’ faith played any role in their decisions, the clash between doctors’ wishes and the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses, who are generally not allowed to accept blood transfusions, has made headlines in the U.K. in the past. For their part, Southampton General Hospital denies that the King’s beliefs factored into their decision to alert the police.

Despite the arrest warrant being dropped, Ashya still remains a ward of the British court system and any subsequent decisions about his treatment must be approved by authorities. On Monday, Sept. 8, there will be a hearing in the U.K., where a judge will have the final say in Ashya’s course of treatment, if the Kings and the medical authorities are still in dispute. It seems likely that the Kings will be able to try proton-beam therapy in the end. But no matter the outcome, it’s hard not to feel that the intervention of the hospital and the state — all in the name of Ashya’s best interests — have worked against him and his parents all along.

— With reporting by Belinda Luscombe

TIME Israel

Israeli Cult Pimped Out Jewish Women to Non-Jews in Order to ‘Save Israel’

Having sex with non-Jewish men — for money — would make the female recruits better Orthodox Jews, leaders promised

A cultish prostitution ring in Israel has for years convinced female members that the future of the Israeli state weighed on them having sex with non-Jewish men, say local police.

Eight ringleaders of what police are describing as a “messianic” cult active throughout Israel are accused of telling female recruits that they must prostitute themselves to non-Jewish men “to save the Jewish people and expedite the redemption,” Haaretz reports.

The women, who also were plied with drugs and alcohol, were told that their own spiritual redemption depended on them selling sex to the cult’s clients, say officers.

Police have shut down the alleged prostitution ring and arrested eight suspects, including David Dvash, 60, a resident of the hard-line Bat Ayin settlement in the West Bank, Haaretz reports. Dvash, who calls himself David the Best, reportedly has 15 children and is married to two women, one of whom is also a suspect in the case.

Lawyers for Dvash and another male suspect filed an insanity plea in court on Sunday, Haaretz said.

Police first learned about the cult about four months ago after Lehava, an extremist Israeli group opposed to marriage between Jewish women and non-Jewish men, alerted authorities to the prostitution ring, Sky News reported. The ring, which had been active for about six or seven years and had recruited about five women, some of whom were minors, apparently attracted a Palestinian cliental from the West Bank, as well as foreign workers in Tel Aviv.

However, this is not the only Israeli sex cult making the news this week. In a separate case, the Tel Aviv district court on Monday convicted a 64-year-old man of rape, incest and other crimes, for keeping a harem of 21 subjugated “wives” who bore him 38 children — all of whom were given variations of his first name, Goel, or “savior” in Hebrew. Some of his daughters were among the rape victims, Reuters said.

Goel Ratzon was found not guilty on the enslavement charge, though former harem women at the sentencing told reporters that they had been in “total slavery,” the Associated Press said. Some of them, according to Reuters, had Ratzon’s name and face tattooed on their bodies.

TIME Infectious Disease

WHO: ‘Many Thousands’ of New Ebola Cases Expected in Coming Weeks

Abbas Dulleh—AP Health workers, attend to patients that contracted the Ebola virus, at a clinic in Monrovia, Liberia, Monday, Sept. 8, 2014.

Liberia taxis have turned into "hot sources" of transmission as infected people crisscross town in futile attempts to find hospital beds

The World Health Organization (WHO) says responders to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa need to prepare to scale up their efforts three to four times as the number of cases sees an “exponential increase” over coming weeks.

The U.N. body has been assessing the situation in Liberia, and outlines a desperate situation there and in other countries with a high rate of disease transmission in a statement released on Monday.

“As soon as a new Ebola treatment facility is opened, it immediately fills to overflowing with patients, pointing to a large but previously invisible caseload,” the WHO stated. “Many thousands of new cases are expected in Liberia over the coming three weeks.”

About 4,000 people have been confirmed infected with Ebola since the outbreak started in March, and around half of these have died. Guinea and Sierra Leone have been hard hit, but Liberia has recorded the highest cumulative number of reported cases and deaths. The transmission rate there remains perilous and in Montserrado county, which includes the capital Monrovia, “only half of the urgent and immediate capacity needs could be met within the next few weeks and months.”

The massive pressure on health facilities is aggravating the risk for further contagion. Sick people and their relatives are shuttling through the city in taxis, searching in vain for available hospital beds. Since Ebola is transmitted through bodily fluids such as blood and sweat, the lack of disinfection of these vehicles have turned them into a “hot source” for spreading the disease, according to the WHO.

At an emergency African Union meeting in Addis Ababa on Monday, officials said that measures to curb the outbreak such as border closures, flight bans and extensive quarantines had created a sense of siege in the worst-hit West African countries. Public health officials have previously deemed the closure of porous borders ineffective, and it has been pointed out that bans on transportation — most notably flights to and from the continental airport hubs in Nairobi and Johannesburg — are not only taking a severe economic toll on these stricken nations, but making aid deliveries more difficult.

African Union Chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said thorough border checks for people displaying Ebola-like symptoms should replace blanket bans on people arriving from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, but that the decision should be made by the individual countries themselves, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“We are not working on schedules, whether you will lift [the ban] tomorrow or this evening. We are working on principle decisions, which we expect our member states to implement,” Dlamini-Zuma said. “The decision was that it must be urgently done.”

Senegal officials announced at the meeting that they would allow humanitarian aid to pass through its closed borders.

Medics at the Ebola treatment unit in Monrovia’s JFK Hospital suit up in protective gear before attending to their patients.

TIME Chile

Suspected Anarchist Bombing Wounds at Least 10 People in Santiago

A police officer talks on his cell phone at the area where a bomb exploded in Santiago
Ivan Alvarado—Reuters A police officer talks on his cell phone at the area where a bomb exploded in Santiago, Chile, on Sept. 8, 2014

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but it parallels similar small-scale bombings levied on the city by anarchist groups

An explosion outside an underground train station in the Chilean capital of Santiago on Monday afternoon is a suspected “terrorist” act, say government officials.

At least 10 people were wounded in the lunchtime blast that shook a small shopping mall and food court inside Escuela Militar metro station in the affluent Las Condes neighborhood, Reuters reports. None of the injuries were fatal.

“This is an act that has all the hallmarks of a terrorist deed,” Álvaro Elizalde, the government’s chief spokesman, told reporters outside La Moneda presidential palace. “There is no doubt.”

The blast was the worst yet of at least 29 small-scale bombings and attempted bombings this year in normally peaceful Santiago. Anarchist groups have claimed responsibility for planting many of the devices, not all of which have detonated, and have called for the release of two associates who are imprisoned in Spain.

“This is a cowardly act because it has as its objective to hurt people, create fear and even kill innocent people,” said President Michelle Bachelet. “This is horrible, tremendously reprehensible, but Chile is and remains a safe country.”

No one has yet claimed responsibility for this latest bombing, but security footage shows two suspects putting an explosive device in a metal container, likely a trash can, Interior Minister Mahmud Aleuy told Reuters.

The attack also comes three days before the 41st anniversary of the 1973 coup that ousted socialist President Salvador Allende and began the 17-year dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet. Chilean politics are usually tense around the anniversary, and protests can teeter on violence. Chile returned to democracy in 1990.

Rescue crews search the area surrounding Escuela Militar metro station in Santiago where a bomb exploded on Sept. 8, 2014.

TIME Education

Donor Behind Largest Gift in Harvard’s History Explains Inspiration

Gerald Chan
Stephanie Mitchell—Harvard Public Affairs and Communications Gerald Chan

The family foundation's donation was partly inspired by a mother's volunteer work in vaccinations

Chinese businessman Gerald Chan explained the story behind his family foundation’s $350 million gift to Harvard’s School of Public Health on Monday.

The donation by his family’s Morningside Foundation is the largest Harvard has ever received and one of the largest ever given to an institute of higher education.

Chan said the donation was inspired by his mother’s volunteer work, vaccinating children in China in the 1950s. Chan’s mother, a nurse, administered vaccines to neighborhood children in the family kitchen, using the same needle repeatedly and disinfecting it in boiling water.

“As you can imagine, the needle was blunted by repeated use, so the injections got extraordinarily painful,” said the Hong Kong property developer. “It was no wonder that many children screamed and wailed in our kitchen.”

Chan said he was also inspired by his father’s decision to support the education of friends’ children overseas.

“In keeping with my mother’s work in improving people’s health and my father’s commitment to education, my brothers and I thought it most fitting to celebrate their legacy with a gift to Harvard School of Public Health,” he said.

TIME Iraq

Obama Pushes Back on ISIS Criticism

The President pushed back on critics of his stance towards ISIS during a recent television appearance

President Obama pushed back against critics of his handling of ISIS militants in Iraq on Meet The Press Sunday, as the first guest of new host Chuck Todd.

“Number one, this is a serious threat,” Obama said. “We have the capacity to deal with it.”

The President added that he plans to announce a more detailed strategy in a speech this week.

“This is not going to be an announcement of ground troops. This is not the Iraq war,” he said. “It’s similar to the counterterrorism campaigns we’ve been doing for the past 5-6-7 years.”

TIME Gambia

Gambia Passes Bill to Imprison Gays for Life

President of Gambia Jammeh speaks during the United Nations 68th session of the General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York
Shannon Stapleton—Reuters President of Gambia Yahya Jammeh speaks during the United Nations 68th session of the General Assembly in New York City on Sept. 27, 2013

The measure now awaits the signature of the country’s fiercely anti-gay president

Life for LGBT men and women in the West African county of Gambia just got significantly more difficult, as lawmakers passed a piece of legislation Monday that would impose terms of life in prison on people convicted of “aggravated homosexuality.”

The bill defines aggravated homosexuality as “repeat offenders,” people with HIV/AIDS, and instances in which one of the parties is under 18, disabled, drugged or an authority figure over the other party, the Associated Press reports.

The bill, which was passed by the National Assembly last month, amends a criminal code that already included a harsh penalty—up to 14 years in prison—for homosexual acts, applicable to both men and women.

The bill now awaits the signature of autocratic ruler Yahya Jammeh, who came to power in a coup in 1994 and made headlines in 2008 when he publicly instructed gays to leave Gambia or face decapitation.

[AP]

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