TIME Nigeria

Challenger Edges Ahead in Tense Nigerian Elections

Opposition candidate Gen. Muhammadu Buhari holds his ballot paper in the air before casting his vote in his home town of Daura, northern Nigeria on March 28, 2015.
Ben Curtis—AP Opposition candidate Gen. Muhammadu Buhari holds his ballot paper in the air before casting his vote in his home town of Daura, northern Nigeria on March 28, 2015.

Partial results so far give former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari a considerable lead over the incumbent, President Goodluck Jonathan

ABUJA, Nigeria — The second day of vote counting in a bitterly contested presidential vote started late on Tuesday and electoral officials hope to announce later in the day who will be governing Africa’s richest and biggest nation.

Early returns from half the states have President Goodluck Jonathan winning nine states and the Federal Capital Territory and Gen. Muhammadu Buhari winning nine states. Buhari won 8.5 million votes to Jonathan’s 6.48 million. A candidate must take at least 50 percent of all votes and at least 25 percent of votes in two-thirds of the states to win.

Electoral commission spokesman Kayode Idowu told The Associated Press he hopes for final results by the end of the day but results from only “a few” of the remaining states have been delivered.

TIME Iran

Iran Nuke Talks To Continue in New Phase To Reach Deal by July

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stands after arriving for a meeting with air force commanders and officers in Tehran on Feb. 8, 2015.
Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader/AP Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stands after arriving for a meeting with air force commanders and officers in Tehran on Feb. 8, 2015.

The deadline for the talks has already been extended twice

LAUSANNE, Switzerland — Wrapping up six days of marathon nuclear talks with mixed results, Iran and six world powers prepared Tuesday to issue a general statement agreeing to continue negotiations in a new phase aimed at reaching a comprehensive accord by the end of June, officials told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

The joint statement is to be accompanied by additional documents that outline more detailed understandings, allowing the sides to claim enough progress has been made thus far to merit a new round, the officials said.

The talks have already been extended twice as part of more than a decade of diplomatic attempts to curb Tehran’s nuclear advance, and the next stage will be presented as a new phase, because most of the parties had ruled out another prolongation of this round.

One of the officials said the statement was general in part because differences between the sides remained ahead of a new phase of negotiations toward a comprehensive deal by late June. The second official said other documents will be more technical in nature and will also be made public later in the day.

Both demanded anonymity because they are not authorized to comment on the talks.

American officials earlier had said the sides were aiming for a framework agreement by the end of March but then revised the language, speaking of an “understanding.”

That appeared due in part to opposition to a two-stage agreement from Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Earlier this year, he demanded only one deal that nails down specifics and does not permit the other side to “make things difficult” by giving it wiggle room on interpretations.

The documents were being finalized among the six countries negotiating with Iran, and the Iranian side had not yet signed off on them, said the first official.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who left Lausanne Monday, was heading back to the Swiss city, also indicating that an end to the talks was near. He departed on Monday but said he would return if a deal was imminent.

In Moscow, he told reporters: “Prospects for this round of negotiations were not bad, and I would even say good.”

Foreign ministers of five nations at the table already joined U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at the talks over the weekend in an intense effort to reach a political understanding on terms that would curb Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief.

Kerry and others at the table said the sides have made some progress, with Iran considering demands for further cuts to its uranium enrichment program but pushing back on how long it must limit technology it could use to make atomic arms. In addition to sticking points on research and development, differences remain on the timing and scope of sanctions removal, the officials said.

The Obama administration says any deal will stretch the time Iran needs to make a nuclear weapon from the present two to three months to at least a year. But critics object that it would keep Tehran’s nuclear technology intact.

Officials in Lausanne said the sides were advancing on limits to aspects of Iran’s program to enrich uranium, which can be used to make the core of a nuclear warhead.

Uranium enrichment has been the chief concern in over more than a decade of international attempts to cap Iran’s nuclear programs. But Western officials say the main obstacles to a deal are no longer enrichment-related but instead the type and length of restrictions on Tehran’s research and development of advanced centrifuges and the pace of sanctions-lifting.

Over the past weeks, Iran has moved from demanding that it be allowed to keep nearly 10,000 centrifuges enriching uranium, to agreeing to 6,000. The officials said Tehran now may be ready to accept even fewer.

Tehran says it wants to enrich only for energy, science, industry and medicine. But many countries fear Iran could use the technology to make weapons-grade uranium.

TIME Bangladesh

In Bangladesh, the Slaying of Another Blogger Spotlights Spiraling Extremism

BANGLADESH-UNREST-RELIGION
MUNIR UZ ZAMAN—AFP/Getty Images A relative of dead Bangladeshi blogger Washiqur Rahman reacts after seeing his body at Dhaka Medical College in Dhaka on March 30, 2015, after he was killed in an attack in the Bangladeshi capital.

Monday's attack is the second of the same nature within five weeks

A young blogger was hacked to death by machete-wielding assailants in the Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka on Monday — the second such murder in just over a month and yet another case indicative of rising religious extremism in the South Asian nation.

Washiqur Rahman, 27, a secular writer known for openly criticizing Islamic fundamentalism, was attacked by three students in one of the sprawling city’s busiest areas.

Police caught two of the perpetrators on the spot with the weapons still in their possession, while a third reportedly escaped.

Monday’s killing bears eerie similarities to the murder of another blogger, Bangladeshi-American Avijit Roy, five weeks earlier. Roy died in late February after being attacked with machetes by two assailants while he was returning from a book fair in Dhaka with his wife.

The incident prompted widespread fear in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, and also criticism of the government for not doing enough to protect freedom of speech.

“We condemn the government’s failure to protect bloggers, especially those who cover or comment on religion, fundamental freedoms and extremism of all kinds,” Benjamin Ismail, head of the Asia-Pacific desk of media watchdog Reporters Without Borders, said in a statement.

The rising instances of violence against secular writers over the last few years — another writer Ahmed Rajib Haider was assassinated in 2013 — has many of the country’s online activists running scared. Omi Rahman Pial, another prominent blogger, told the New York Times that several of his colleagues may seek asylum outside Bangladesh. Several others are beginning to take down their blogs, another activist said.

“There is definitely a level of worry among the people who are involved in blogging and expressing themselves on social networks,” Mohammad Golam Rahman, a journalism professor at the University of Dhaka, and no relation of the murdered blogger, tells TIME.

While Rahman said sudden attacks of this nature can be difficult to prevent, he conceded that the government should be doing more to protect bloggers and ensure freedom of speech. Although Bangladesh is over 90% Muslim, he adds, those espousing an “extremist ideology” only form a “small segment” of the population.

“The general view and general psyche of the population is that they condemn these activities,” says Rahman.

However, many of the comments on the blogger Rahman’s Facebook page belie that notion. “I felt sorry when I first learned of your death. But then I saw what you wrote and I am not,” reads one, according to CNN.

“Get ready for the afterlife,” says another, while a third simply reads: “See you in hell.”

Abdullah Fahim, a business student at Dhaka’s North South University, told the Times that 80% of Bangladeshis are probably against Rahman’s writing. “I don’t know why our government gave him the liberty to write against Islam,” he said.

TIME Japan

Taiwan to Join China-Led Regional Bank, Japan Says Not Now

Chinese President Xi Jinping, center, with guests of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in Beijing, Oct. 24, 2014
Takaki Yajima—AP Chinese President Xi Jinping, center, with guests of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in Beijing on Oct. 24, 2014

Japan has no plan as of now to join the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, while Taiwan will apply for membership

(TOKYO) — Japan has no plan as of now to join the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, its government spokesman said Tuesday, while Taiwan announced it would apply for membership, joining dozens of countries in signing up to an initiative opposed by Washington.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters that Japan, the world’s No. 3 economy, is still seeking answers about how the regional financing institution would be governed. “As of today, Japan will not join AIIB and a clear explanation has not been received from China,” Suga said.

The U.S. has found itself isolated in its resistance to the bank, with more than 40 countries including major allies in Asia and Europe moving to join.

Washington maintains that the Beijing-based regional bank should work in partnership with existing institutions such as the Asian Development Bank, which by convention is headed by a Japanese official, and the U.S.-dominated World Bank and International Monetary Fund. It contends the bank might extend credit without adequate environmental, labor and social safeguards.

Beijing set a March 31 deadline for founding members to express interest in joining the AIIB. Taiwan’s Finance Ministry issued a notice Tuesday saying it was applying to join, following earlier comments by leaders in favor of the idea.

China claims Taiwan, a self-governing island, as part of its territory and has vowed to respond to any formal independence declaration with force, but the two sides have extensive economic and trade ties. It is unclear whether China would accept Taiwan’s membership in the regional bank, though its leaders have said it is open to all countries.

In Tokyo, Suga did not say Japan would never consider joining the bank. Recently, Finance Minister Taro Aso indicated it was a possibility, but backpedalled on the issue. Japanese media reports Tuesday said the ruling Liberal Democratic Party was still considering its stance.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told party leaders, “There is no need to participate hastily,” Kyodo News Service reported. He indicated Japan was siding with its powerful ally the U.S. on the issue, adding that “The United States now knows that Japan is trustworthy.”

Suga denied reports Japan was seeking more time to decide on the issue.

“We want to ensure there is clear governance,” he said. “We want to make sure no other lenders would be damaged.”

TIME Iran

Differences Persist on Deadline Day for Iran Nuke Talks

Kerry has been meeting with his Iranian counterpart since Thursday in an intense effort to reach a political understanding

(LAUSANNE, Switzerland) — Diplomats scrambled Tuesday to reach consensus on the outline of an Iran nuclear deal just hours ahead of a self-imposed deadline to produce an agreement.

Facing a midnight local time (6 p.m. EDT) target to conclude a framework accord, substantial differences persisted with officials predicting a long day of talks that may or may not result in success. The top diplomats of four of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany met alone and then with Iran’s foreign minister to try to bridge the remaining gaps. They hope to hammer out an understanding that would serve as the basis for a final accord to be reached by the end of June.

It was not immediately clear what missing the deadline would mean for the nearly two years of negotiations that have been twice extended since an interim agreement was reached in November 2013. Most countries involved have said they are not interested in another extension, although they have also said that the interim agreement will remain in place until July 1, suggesting talks could continue.

“Long day ahead,” the spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department said in a tweet announcing the early Tuesday morning start of the foreign ministers’ meeting with Iranian officials.

Late Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry told a CNN reporter that “everyone knows the meaning of tomorrow,” adding that “there are still some tricky issues.”

Kerry has been meeting with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif in the Swiss town of Lausanne since Thursday in an intense effort to reach a political understanding on terms that would curb Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief.

Kerry and others at the table said the sides have made some progress, with Iran considering demands for further cuts to its uranium enrichment program but pushing back on how long it must limit technology it could use to make atomic arms. In addition to sticking points on research and development, differences remain on the timing and scope of sanctions removal, the officials said.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Monday that Iran’s expectations from the talks are “very ambitious” and not yet acceptable to his country or the other five negotiating: the U.S., Britain, China, France and Russia. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov left the talks on Monday and planned to return only if the prospects for a deal looked good.

Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araghchi, told Iranian state television on Monday that the talks were not likely to reach any conclusion until “tomorrow or the day after tomorrow.”

The Obama administration says any deal will stretch the time Iran needs to make a nuclear weapon from the present two to three months to at least a year. But critics object that it would keep Tehran’s nuclear technology intact.

Officials in Lausanne said the sides were advancing on limits to aspects of Iran’s program to enrich uranium, which can be used to make the core of a nuclear warhead.

Tehran has said it is willing to address concerns about its stockpiles of enriched uranium, although it has denied that will involve shipping it out of the country, as some Western officials have said. One official said on Monday that Iran might deal with the issue by diluting its stocks to a level that would not be weapons grade.

Uranium enrichment has been the chief concern in over more than a decade of international attempts to cap Iran’s nuclear programs. But Western officials say the main obstacles to a deal are no longer enrichment-related but instead the type and length of restrictions on Tehran’s research and development of advanced centrifuges and the pace of sanctions-lifting.

Over the past weeks, Iran has moved from demanding that it be allowed to keep nearly 10,000 centrifuges enriching uranium, to agreeing to 6,000. The officials said Tehran now may be ready to accept even fewer.

Tehran says it wants to enrich only for energy, science, industry and medicine. But many countries fear Iran could use the technology to make weapons-grade uranium.

TIME england

The Queen of England Is Facing a Staff Revolt at Windsor Castle

imsis750-143
Getty Images

Staff may withdraw services because of low pay

For the first time in history, the Queen of England’s household staff may take industrial action.

The Guardian reports that they are frustrated by paltry wages, and will cast ballots Tuesday to determine if they will continue with certain services they currently perform without pay around her weekend home at Windsor Castle — such as taking visitors on tours, interpreting and offering first aid.

The U.K.’s Public and Commercial Services union says more than 100 disgruntled staff members may rescind these free services, citing chronic underpayment.

The starting salary for household staff at Windsor Castle is reportedly as little as $20,000.

“It is a failure of leadership on the part of the Queen that despite receiving close to £300 million [$443,658,000] a year in public subsidy she continues to pay staff so badly,” antimonarchist campaigner Graham Smith told the Guardian.

However, the Royal Collection Trust, which administers the Queen’s homes, says the uncompensated tasks are not compulsory and only performed voluntarily. It further argues that employees are paid above the market rate and receive a generous pension.

[Guardian]

TIME Crime

British Man Duped Prison Officials Into Freeing Him With Fake Government Email

He instructed officials to release him—and they did

A British man is awaiting sentencing after he apparently created a fake government email address while in prison and used it to trick officials into releasing him.

A prosecutor said Neil Moore, 28, was awaiting trial on fraud charges last year when he used a cell phone that he snuck in to the Wandsworth prison to create a web domain (hmcts-gsi-gov.org.uk) that looked like that of Britain’s Royal Courts of Justice (hmcts.gsi.gov.uk), NBC News reports. He then created an email address with that domain and pretended to be a court clerk, messaging prison officials to say he had been granted bail and should be freed.

Not only did officials comply and let him out on March 10 last year, documents show, but he also turned himself back in a few days later, his lawyer says. According to the Ilford Recorder, authorities were already aware of his escape.

Moore will be sentenced on April 20 after pleading guilty to one count of escape from lawful custody and eight counts of fraud. He was already facing fraud charges when he made his escape after impersonating employees at major banks in order to convince financial companies to fraudulently transfer him roughly $2.66 million U.S.

[NBC News]

TIME Crime

Amanda Knox’s Ex Says ‘Part of Me Is Destroyed’ After Legal Battle

Raffaele Sollecito
Andrew Medichin—AP Raffaele Sollecito talks to the media during a press conference in Rome, March 30, 2015.

Raffaele Sollecito says he does "not yet feel a complete sense of freedom" after his conviction was reversed

Raffaele Sollecito, the ex-boyfriend of Amanda Knox whose name was recently cleared by an Italian court in the 2007 death of Knox’s roommate, says he will “never be the same.”

“At times, I realize that I do not yet feel a complete sense of freedom,” the 31-year-old told PEOPLE. “I was trapped in this for so long that now I won’t be able to switch back to how my life was before. Part of me will never be the same. Part of me is destroyed.”

In a surprise ruling on Friday, the Italian Supreme Court reversed the sentencing of Sollecito and Knox, who were previously found guilty in the death of Meredith Kercher, a British student. The decision ended a nearly eight-year legal battle that included four years in prison, a successful appeal that was later overturned by the Supreme Court, a retrial and a second guilty verdict by another appellate court.

Another man whom forensic evidence linked to the crime scene, Rudy Guede, was convicted separately and is still in jail.

Read more at PEOPLE.

TIME India

See the Aftermath of the Deadly Landslide in Kashmir

At least 6 people were killed in a landslide after unseasonal rains lashed India, authorities said Monday. It occurred in a village some 25 miles from Kashmir's capital city of Srinagar.

Read next: At Least 6 Die in Kashmir Landslide

TIME Daily Show

South Africans Rejoice and Regret Trevor Noah’s Ascension to The Daily Show

For South African comedians, there is no shortage of rich material. A President charged with using state funds to upgrade his personal home with a top-of-the-line chicken coop to an electricity company better at delivering excuses than power — the company recently blamed wet coal for power outages. So it is with some degree of regret, and with a great deal of pride, that South Africans welcomed the news that Soweto-born Trevor Noah is to take over The Daily Show when host Jon Stewart steps down later this year.

Twitter lit up with notes of congratulations and support, as South Africans bequeathed yet another star to the international pantheon of household names. “Could Trevor Noah be SA’s third A-lister after Madiba and Charlize?” wrote Capetonian Sibongile Mafu, using an affectionate term for Nelson Mandela and referring to Academy Award–winning actress Charlize Theron. “I think so!”

Other South African comedians celebrated with humorous riffs of their own, pondering the wealth that comes with taking the job of one of the best-paid television hosts in American history: “South African Google hangs as thousands search “John Stewart’s Salary” #dailyshow #TrevorNoah” tweeted radio host Darren Simpson, before going on to note that his ascension to Jon Stewart-dom “makes you realize your dreams.”

Simpson, who has known Noah since 2006 from their time together on South Africa’s comedy circuit, tells TIME that there is “no doubt that Trevor can deliver. He is a phenomenal talent. He is going to offer something completely different, and completely great.” His humor, notes Simpson, will make for a seamless transition. “The fact that he is from South Africa is superfluous to what an incredible talent he is.”

Not that South Africans will let it be forgotten that Noah is one of their own. “Congratulations, @Trevornoah, on the temporary reunification of South Africa,” tweeted author Richard de Nooy in a take on Noah’s bi-racial origins as much as his ability to transcend the legacy of apartheid and take on still-touchy race issues.

Noah, the son of a black Xhosa mother and a white Swiss-German father whose relationship was illegal during the time of apartheid, often likes to joke that he shouldn’t be allowed to exist. That mixed heritage sparked humorous debate on Twitter, as correspondents mockingly claimed Noah for one race or the other. “Breaking: amaXhosa and Swiss-Germans in fierce race to claim Trevor Noah,” tweeted Cape Town–based journalist Lester Kiewit.

Much has been made of the fact that The Daily Show has chosen for Stewart’s successor a relative unknown on the American comedy circuit. Noah has only made three appearances on the show since he came on as a correspondent in December, and the fact that he has supplanted other favorites may rankle avid Daily Show fans stateside. But for Americans who are only now starting to wake up to the serious race issues that divide the U.S., Trevor Noah could not be a better gift from South Africa. His brand of satirical sugar may yet make the medicine go down. For South Africans, however, the parting is bittersweet. “Trevor is going global, and that’s great,” says Simpson. “But we are going to have to get used to seeing a lot less of Trevor Noah, and that’s a loss.” But when it comes to commenting on the President’s chicken coop, there is sure to be plenty of folks to take his place.

Read next: Trevor Noah Is the Sort of Risk More Networks Should Take

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