TIME Yemen

The U.N. Envoy to Yemen Has Quit

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MOHAMMED HUWAIS—AFP/Getty Images Jamal Benomar, UN envoy to Yemen, speaks during a press conference conference in Sanaa December 24, 2013.

Moroccan diplomat Jamal Benomar had lost the support of the Gulf countries in his mission

The U.N. envoy to Yemen has resigned, citing “an interest in moving on to another assignment.”

Jamal Benomar, who has served as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s special envoy to the Middle Eastern country since 2012, reportedly threw in the towel due to lack of support from Gulf countries for his peacekeeping endeavors, reports the AFP.

“A successor shall be named in due course,” read a statement from the U.N. “Until that time and beyond, the United Nations will continue to spare no efforts to relaunch the peace process in order to get the political transition back on track.”

Benomar had already mentioned the possibility of resigning in an interview with the New York Times on Wednesday, saying he had already expressed his desire to step down to the Secretary-General.

The conflict in Yemen is continuing to escalate as Shi‘ite Houthi rebels march on the country’s major port Aden after capturing the capital city of Sana‘a. The fighting has reportedly killed over 700 people and wounded more than 2,700 others.

The U.N. Security Council earlier this week adopted a resolution calling for the resumption of peace talks, even as coalition forces led by Saudi Arabia continued to carry out air strikes. The Saudi offensive has been criticized by other countries in the region, with Iran — whom it accuses of arming the Houthis — calling it “genocide.”

Iran’s neighbor Iraq also traded barbs with the Saudis on Wednesday, when Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said there was “no logic to the operation at all in the first place.” The Saudi ambassador to the U.S. later said there was “no logic” to al-Abadi’s remarks, and denied reports that Yemeni civilians had been killed in some of the air strikes.

Benomar’s successor, meanwhile, has been tipped as Mauritanian diplomat Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, who currently leads the U.N. Ebola mission in the Ghanaian capital, Accra.

TIME movies

Russia Bans Hollywood Thriller For Depicting It as a Nation of ‘Defective Sub-Humans’

In this image released by Lionsgate, Tom Hardy appears in a scene from the film, "Child 44."
Larry Horricks—AP In this image released by Lionsgate, Tom Hardy appears in a scene from the film, "Child 44."

Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman fail to impress officials in Moscow

The Russian Ministry of Culture canceled the local premiere of the Child 44 on Wednesday, saying the movie portrayed Russia as “a sort of Mordor, populated by physically and morally defective sub-humans.”

Produced by Lionsgate, Child 44 stars Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman and depicts a Soviet officer (Hardy) as he investigates a series of gruesome child murders in 1953, according to the Associated Press.

The distribution company, Central Partnership, supported the decision and in a statement accused the film of misrepresenting facts that “took place before, during and after the Second World War” and of making a false “portrayal of Soviet people living at that time.”

The decision raised concerns that film distributors will begin to self-censor to avoid having a movie premiere cancelled.

“It’s clear that now, if [a film] is about history, it has to correspond to some system of coordinates,” film distributor Alexander Rodnyansky told Russian media translated by the Wall Street Journal. “Now the self-censorship will begin: Many people will start being afraid to buy and distribute films here.”

Child 44 will be released in the United States on April 17.

TIME Malaysia

Search Area for Missing Malaysia Airlines Plane to Be Doubled if Plane Not Found

In this March 18, 2014 file photo, a young Malaysian boy prays at an event for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, at a shopping mall, in Petaling Jaya, on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Joshua Paul—AP A Malaysian boy prays at an event for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in Petaling Jaya, Kuala Lumpur, on March 18, 2014

The search area for the missing Flight 370 will be expanded by another 60,000 sq km

(KUALA LUMPUR) — Malaysia said Thursday that the search area for the missing Flight 370 will be expanded by another 60,000 square kilometers (23,000 square miles) in the Indian Ocean if the jetliner is not found by May.

Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai told reporters that Malaysia, Australia and China, which are leading the search for the Boeing 777 that went missing on March 8 last year, are “committed to the search.”

He told reporters after meeting with his counterparts from the other two countries that so far 61 percent of the 60,000 kilometer (23,000-square-mile) search area has been scoured off Australia’s west coast. The remaining area would have been searched by the end of May, he said.

“If the aircraft is not found within the 60,000 square kilometers, we have collectively decided to extend the search to another 60,000 square kilometers within the highest probability area,” he said.

He said, the two areas together would cover 95 percent of the flight path of the plane, which went missing while on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board. It dropped off radar, and investigators later figured out that it made a series of turns and headed in a completely opposite direction from where it was heading before crashing into the Indian Ocean.

“We are confident we are searching in the right area,” Australian Transport Minister Warren Truss said at the news conference, alongside Liow. “We are confident we have the best search equipment .. if the plane is in the area we will find it.”

He said Malaysia and Australia will continue to fund the cost of the next phase of the search. He or the other ministers did now say how much it would cost.

TIME Aviation

Here’s Why Wi-Fi on Planes Could Lead to a Terrifying Disaster

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Getty Images

You'll never complain again about not having the Internet at 30,000 ft.

Yes, having access to Facebook on a long flight helps to pass the time, but it could also be putting passengers in the crosshairs of terrorists and hackers, according to a new report released this week by a U.S. watchdog agency.

In a dossier released Tuesday, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) said new aircraft may be susceptible to having their inflight computer systems hacked through onboard wi-fi networks or remotely by individuals elsewhere.

“According to cybersecurity experts we interviewed, Internet connectivity in the cabin should be considered a direct link between the aircraft and the outside world, which includes potential malicious actors,” read the 56-page report.

The GAO stated that planes possess firewalls designed to block cyberattacks and protect the craft’s avionics; however, that software is still susceptible to being penetrated.

“Four cybersecurity experts with whom we spoke discussed firewall vulnerabilities, and all four said that because firewalls are software components, they could be hacked like any other software and circumvented,” the report said.

The situation is made all the worse by the prevalent use of smartphones and other mobile devices by passengers and pilots alike on flights worldwide everyday.

“The presence of personal smartphones and tablets in the cockpit increases the risk of a system’s being compromised by trusted insiders, both malicious and non-malicious, if these devices have the capability to transmit information to aircraft avionics systems,” stated the dossier.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it has already begun taking steps to make cockpits safer and is consulting security experts to single out areas of concern.

“This threat will continue to evolve and it is something that needs to be at the forefront of our thinking,” Michael Huerta, the FAA’s administrator, told a Senate oversight panel this week, according to Reuters.

Following the publication of the report, lawmakers demanded that the federal agencies act fast to counter any potential threats to the aviation industry.

“[The FAA] must focus on aircraft certification standards that would prevent a terrorist with a laptop in the cabin or on the ground from taking control of an airplane through the passenger wi-fi system,” Representative Peter DeFazio told CNN.

Read next: 9 Tips for Faster Wi-Fi Streaming

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Pakistan

Pakistan Could End Up Charging CIA Officials With Murder Over Drone Strikes

A landmark case may open the door for a possible multibillion-dollar class-action lawsuit launched by relatives of the alleged 960 civilian victims of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan

A senior judge in Pakistan has ordered police to formally investigate former CIA agents for allegedly authorizing a 2009 drone strike.

If the case moves forward, it may subject the U.S. embassy in Islamabad to sensitive police investigations and even result in U.S. citizens for the first time being charged with murder for covert drone strikes in the South Asian nation.

Last Tuesday, the Islamabad High Court ordered police to open a criminal case against former CIA Islamabad Station Chief Jonathan Bank and ex-CIA legal counsel John A. Rizzo for murder, conspiracy, terrorism and waging war against Pakistan.

The complainant is Kareem Khan, whose son Zahin Ullah Khan and brother Asif Iqbal were killed in an alleged December 2009 CIA drone strike in the mountainous Waziristan region bordering Afghanistan.

The case was lauded as the “first of its kind for directly implicating and naming a CIA official” by University of Hull international legal expert Niaz Shah.

However, the Pakistani police appear unlikely to comply with the judge’s order, having already refused on two previous occasions. “[We] are appealing the case in the Supreme Court of Pakistan,” Islamabad police superintendent Mirvais Niaz told TIME on Wednesday, citing jurisdictional disputes.

Mirvais maintains that the local Waziristan authorities should investigate the incident as that’s where the deaths occurred; Khan, a journalist, argues that an Islamabad bench should try the case as that’s where he contends the decision to launch the strikes was made.

However, the case appears to rest on whether Pakistan’s political apparatus is willing to pursue a sensitive legal action that police say may imperil U.S.-Pakistan relations.

According to court documents seen by TIME, not only does Khan’s case implicate ex-CIA officials, it also calls for an investigation into the U.S. embassy in Islamabad, where Khan believes the drone strike was ordered.

“The Pakistani government has questions to answer about why they have fought the filing of this criminal complaint if they are indeed opposed to the drone strikes,” said Jennifer Gibson, an attorney with international legal aid charity Reprieve. “They’ve been fighting it in court at every level.”

Even if the investigation receives the green light, bringing ex-CIA officials to trial will be an onerous battle in Pakistan. Should Bank and Rizzo fail to appear, one recourse is the international police body Interpol, which can extradite former CIA officials to stand trial, says Mirza Shahzad Akbar, the Pakistani attorney leading case. However, cases against CIA officials seldom succeed, even when Interpol is invoked, for reasons of diplomatic sensitivity. (In 2005, Italy unsuccessfully forwarded a request to extradite CIA agents to Interpol, an action repeated by Germany in 2007 with a similar result.)

“It’s very difficult to get the CIA to come to court in Pakistan,” Akbar told TIME in March.

The CIA removed Bank from Pakistan after he received death threats following his public identification in Khan’s initial $500 million civil lawsuit in 2010. He became chief of Iran operations but was removed for creating a “hostile work environment” and now works in intelligence for the Pentagon, the Associated Press reports. Rizzo, who Khan alleges authorized the strike that killed his family members, worked in Pakistan as a CIA lawyer and has since retired. Both are currently living in the U.S. and appear unlikely to return to Pakistan to stand trial.

CIA spokesman Christopher White declined TIME’s request for a comment on the case involving Bank and Rizzo.

As the case moves ahead, some see it paving the way for a possible multibillion-dollar class-action suit against U.S. officials. The U.S. has carried out more than 400 covert drone strikes in Pakistan, with the most recent on Sunday, according to data from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Since 2004, drone strikes in Pakistan have allegedly killed up to 3,945 people, including some 960 civilians. The U.S. counterterrorism strategy in Pakistan focuses on drones to uproot the Taliban, al-Qaeda and other militants in Pakistan’s fractious tribal areas.

In 2013, the Peshawar High Court, whose rulings apply nationwide, declared U.S. drone strikes illegal in Pakistan and demanded compensation for civilian victims. Likewise, in April 2012, Pakistan’s Parliament issued a resolution that “no overt or covert operations inside Pakistan shall be permitted.” Neither the 2013 Peshawar court ruling nor the 2012 parliamentary resolution seems to have halted the U.S. drone campaign inside Pakistan.

Should the former CIA officials prove difficult to prosecute, civilians harmed by drones may pursue other legal channels. “The [drone victims] may also be able to sue the state of Pakistan for failing to protect them from harm caused by someone else. The state is responsible for protecting people and their lives,” said the academic Shah, who also serves as an advocate of the High Court in Pakistan.

Nonetheless, the political will to pursue drone-related litigation remains shaky in Pakistan, where many believe “tacit consent” allows U.S. drone operations to continue. In 2012, U.S. officials familiar with the drone program told the Wall Street Journal that Pakistan clears airspace and sends acknowledgment receipts after the CIA faxes upcoming drone-strike alerts to Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI.

In an interview with TIME, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tasnim Aslam rejected the principle of tacit consent as a “rumor” and said Pakistan was continuing to pressure the U.S., both in private and public meetings, to end the drone program, given the success of its own counterterrorism operation in Waziristan, Operation Zarb-e-Azb.

“Drone operations without our permission are violating our sovereignty, and they result in collateral damage — killing off large numbers of innocent civilians — which creates more resentment,” she said.

Nevertheless, in the leaked 2013 Abbottabad Commission report, the former head of the ISI appeared to publicly acknowledge Pakistan signing off on U.S. drone strikes: “It was easier to say no to them in the beginning, but ‘now it was more difficult’ to do so,” said the ISI’s former director general Ahmed Shuja Pasha. The classified document reported that “The DG [director general] said there were no written agreements. There was a political understanding.”

The veracity of the report was confirmed by the Foreign Ministry, but suppressed inside Pakistan, prompting an inquiry into how information was leaked.

U.S. President Barack Obama has said that the U.S. operates drones with the cooperation of foreign governments, in part to protect strategic alliances. In a 2013 speech at the National Defense University, which remains the Administration’s most comprehensive and recent public statement on drone policy, Obama said “America cannot take [drone] strikes wherever we choose; our actions are bound by consultations with partners and respect for state sovereignty.”

Still, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif rebutted Obama’s speech a few months later, saying, “The government of Pakistan has made its position clear that drone strikes constituted a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty, violative of international humanitarian laws, besides being counterproductive to our efforts for bringing peace and stability in Pakistan and the region.”

Ultimately, the Islamabad High Court’s action may reveal more details of how the drone program operates in Pakistan and which state agencies, if any, interface with U.S. officials in the decisionmaking process. Pakistan’s courts, increasingly powerful and independent, have emerged as an important arena to wrestle for these answers.

For Khan, who is still desperate to learn who ordered the death of his brother and son, culpability is less important than accountability.

“The Pakistani government owes it to Kareem Khan, and the many other civilian victims of U.S. drone strikes, to honor the judgment. Justice and an end to drone strikes are long overdue,” said Gibson, the Reprieve lawyer.

In a statement after the judge’s order last week, Khan said, “I sincerely hope that authorities now will do their job and proceed against the culprits.”

TIME South Korea

Victims of South Korea’s Sewol Ferry Disaster Remembered One Year On

A relative of a victim of the Sewol ferry disaster holds a flower as he stands on the deck of a boat during a visit to the site of the sunken ferry, off the coast of South Korea's southern island of Jindo
Ed Jones—Reuters A relative of a victim of the Sewol ferry disaster holds a flower as he stands on the deck of a boat during a visit to the site of the sunken ferry, off the coast of South Korea's southern island of Jindo April 15, 2015

Nine bodies remain unaccounted for, and the disaster’s anniversary is again heating up as a political issue

Thursday marks one year since the Sewol ferry sank off the southwest coast of South Korea. But for Lee Keum-hui, it feels like only a day or two since she lost her daughter Eun-hwa, who was one of 476 passengers setting out from Incheon for Jeju, a resort island.

“Some people say it’s time to move on, but how can we do that when our daughter’s body is still out there somewhere?” said Lee, 46, sweeping at the placid waters off Paengmok Harbor, the nearest point on land to the tragedy.

Eun-hwa is one of nine passengers who were never recovered. Lee and her husband still make the nearly five-hour trip from Ansan, a southern suburb of the capital, Seoul, down to Paengmok two or three times a week. There, they sit and hope that somehow their daughter’s remains will be returned to them.

South Korea was overwhelmed with grief when the Sewol sank. People struggled to fathom how a routine ferry ride could lead to 304 deaths, many of them students on a high school field trip. As the ordeal dragged on, the initial sadness segued into fury as the public accused the government of an inept rescue effort.

South Korea engineered a quick rise from poverty after the 1950–53 Korean War and is today one of the world’s wealthier, and more technologically advanced, countries. The shock of the Sewol sinking was compounded by disbelief over how, in a country that had come so far, a simple ferry ride could go so terribly wrong.

In ramshackle Paengmok Harbor, the farthest point on mainland South Korea one can get from the shine of the capital, normal life has mostly returned, with the rescue mission having been called off last autumn. Before last year it was little known beyond the locals who rely on it as a port for fishing boats and traveling to nearby islets.

However, with the sunken hulk still off the coast and nine bodies unaccounted for, Paengmok remains the site of grieving by families and their supporters.

The long, narrow pier is strewn with tokens of the tragedy. Banners with messages of support hang from the railings, imploring, “We won’t forget” and “Kids, come back. It must be so cold out there.” There are flags with the names of the nine passengers who were never recovered. One of them, frayed by the sharp wind that constantly blows in off the water, carries the name Cho Eun-hwa, Lee’s 16-year-old daughter.

The disaster’s anniversary is again heating up as a political issue. Bereaved families have staged large protests in Seoul, calling for the government to carry out a thorough investigation.

In the emotional aftermath of the sinking, the nation’s Prime Minister Chung Hong-won resigned, in what he said was a gesture of responsibility amid a culture of neglecting safety measures. In addition, President Park Geun-hye’s approval ratings plummeted from about 60% to less than 40% in the wake of the tragedy.

Cheonghaejin Marine, the company that operated the Sewol, was also pilloried for failing to follow basic safety protocol and having, a couple of years before, carried out a dangerous refurbishment of the ship that allowed it to carry more passengers but also made it more vulnerable to tipping over.

The firm’s CEO was sentenced to 10 years in prison last November for having violated maritime safety laws. The ferry’s captain, Lee Joon-seok, received 36 years for professional negligence causing death, while the ship’s engineer was sentenced to 30 and other crew members between five and 20 years.

At the time of the ruling, some bereaved families argued that the captain was getting off too easy and should have been sentenced to death. Lee was reportedly not at the helm at the time the Sewol began listing and, along with other crew members, fled the ship while most passengers languished aboard.

Kang Min-kyu, the vice principal of Danwon High School, where many of the young victims studied, committed suicide two days after the disaster. The 52-year-old was among the 172 passengers rescued but couldn’t live with the fact that so many of his young charges were less fortunate.

Late last year, South Korea’s National Assembly passed a law that mandated the formation of a special committee to look into the sinking. However, the investigation hasn’t gotten off the ground because of disagreements between the families and government over the body’s composure and the limits of its authority.

In addition to her hopes for an official probe, Lee says she won’t be able to move on from losing Eun-hwa until her daughter’s remains have been recovered. “We’ve been here for the past year, and our goal is still the same: to find our beloved child,” Lee said.

In Korea’s Confucian culture, great importance is placed on holding a ceremony to mark the end of a person’s life. And experts say moving on is especially difficult for parents who could only watch on TV as their children perished.

“The parents’ grief has been exacerbated by their inability to have intervened, to have assumed the role of their child’s protector,” said Ansuk Jeong, a Ph.D. in community psychology and research professor at Yonsei University in Seoul.

Kwon Oh-bok, a 61-year-old who lost his brother, nephew and sister-in-law, has spent the past year living in a small housing unit at Paengmok provided by the local government.

When the Sewol sank, Kwon’s brother’s family of four was on their way to start a new life in Jeju, having purchased a tangerine farm. Kwon’s 6-year-old niece was the family’s only survivor and now lives with an aunt.

Kwon says he’s still waiting for some kind of closure and would like the government to raise the prone hull from the seabed, a process that could take more than a year, and cost $110 million, according to a study commissioned by South Korea’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries.

“Once they raise the ferry I’ll be ready to leave, but not until then,” Kwon said.

Lee wears Eun-hwa’s student ID card around her neck, with a headshot of the young girl with a slight smile and dark, horn-rimmed glasses. Lee says her expectations have dropped precipitously since she first came to Paengmok. Having arrived last April hoping Eun-hwa would be rescued alive, this faded into the simple desire to see her only daughter’s face one last time.

Now, facing the reality of Eun-hwa having spent one year in the briny depths, Lee says, “I just want to hug her bones.”

TIME Nigeria

Nigerian Military Focus on Area Where Abducted Girls Are Believed Held

Parents and community leaders dismissed the statement as political grandstanding

(LAGOS, Nigeria) — Nigerian military operations against Boko Haram are focusing on a northeastern forest where officials believe more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped a year ago are being held, the government’s counter-insurgency spokesman said Wednesday.

Parents and community leaders from Chibok town dismissed the statement as political grandstanding.

The outgoing government of President Goodluck Jonathan “remains resolute in finding and returning them (the girls) to their homes,” said Mike Omeri of the National Information Centre at a news conference in Abuja, the capital.

A military offensive has driven the Boko Haram Islamic extremists out of all strongholds except the northeastern forest, said Omeri.

“Presently, the military is moving into the Sambisa Forest,” he said, “Our intelligence indicates that the present military operation is focused in the area where the girls are believed to be held.”

His statements are a far cry from the uncertainty about the girls’ fate expressed Tuesday by President-elect Muhammadu Buhari, who pledged to be honest with the parents. Speaking on the first anniversary of the kidnapping, Buhari said he would not make any promises to find the girls because their whereabouts remain unknown.

Parents and community leaders told The Associated Press that their information indicates the girls were moved from Sambisa within weeks of their abduction. They insisted on anonymity for fear of attack by Boko Haram.

Community leader Pogu Bitrus said the last reported sighting of the girls was last year in the Alagarno forest. Nigeria’s military said it drove Boko Haram from Alagarno last week, but added there were no signs of the girls.

“They are using our girls for political purposes,” Bitrus said.

Parents met with a representative of Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala who promised work would start Monday by soldiers to rebuild the school burned by Boko Haram, community leader Dr. Idrisa Danladi told the AP.

Jonathan’s government initially denied the mass abduction and then made some misleading statements about the girls, as did the military. Both have faced international outrage for failing to rescue the girls snatched from a school in Chibok on April 14-15. Dozens escaped but 219 remain missing.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden called Buhari on Wednesday to express U.S. support for efforts to rescue all hostages held by Boko Haram, in efforts to counter the Islamic extremist group and to protect civilians, according to a White House statement.

TIME russia

Exclusive: Relatives of Boston Marathon Bomber Break Their Silence

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev
FBI/AP Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

Members of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's family tell TIME they tried in vain to dismiss his defense lawyers

Throughout the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the 21-year-old who was convicted last week of bombing the Boston Marathon in 2013, his family resisted the urge to speak out publicly in his defense. Tsarnaev’s defense team had advised them not to grant interviews, they say, as it could risk his chances at trial. But when the jury issued its guilty verdict on April 8, convicting him on 17 counts that could each carry the death penalty, some of his relatives decided to go public with their outrage.

On the evening of April 14, three members of the Tsarnaev family met at a café in the city of Grozny, close to their ancestral home in southern Russia, and told a TIME reporter how the trial had torn their family apart, how helpless they felt against what they see as an American conspiracy against them and, above all, how they still hope to convince Tsarnaev to fire his legal team and seek to overturn the verdict on appeal.

“It would be so much easier if he had actually committed these crimes,” says his aunt Maret Tsarnaeva. “Then we could swallow this pain and accept it.”

But two years after the bombing that killed three people and wounded hundreds near the race’s finish line on April 15, 2013, they still refuse to admit Tsarnaev’s guilt. From their homes in Chechnya and Dagestan, two predominantly Muslim regions of Russia, some of his family members have tried to convince Tsarnaev to fire his court-appointed lawyer, Judy Clarke, who has taken a surprising approach to his defense.

In one of her first arguments before the jury after entering a not-guilty plea, Clarke said that her client is indeed responsible for the “senseless, horrific, misguided acts.” But in committing these crimes, she argued that he was acting under the direction of his older brother Tamerlan, who was killed in a shootout with authorities soon after the bombing.

This line of defense has outraged many of Tsarnaev’s relatives, who have tried to convince him to dismiss Clarke and ask for a lawyer who will argue his innocence. “Why do we even need defense attorneys if they just tell the jury he is guilty?” his aunt asks. “What’s the point?”

Like many observers of the case in Russia, the Tsarnaev family has claimed — without providing any meaningful evidence — that the bombing was part of a U.S. government conspiracy intended to test the American public’s reaction to a terrorist threat and the imposition of martial law in a U.S. city. “This was all fabricated by the American special services,” Said-Hussein Tsarnaev, the convicted bomber’s uncle, tells TIME. A panel of 12 jurors in Boston reached the verdict after weeks of testimony from some 90 witnesses and 11 hours of deliberations spread over two days.

Tsarnaev’s mother, Zubeidat, made similar claims of a conspiracy soon after his arrest, but she seems to have come around since then to the strategy that her son’s lawyers have taken at trial. As a result, the family appears to have suffered a rancorous split. While the brothers’ paternal relatives, who spoke to TIME on Wednesday, have demanded a new legal team, their mother has refused to call for Clarke’s dismissal. “The mother won’t let us do it,” says Hava Tsarnaeva, the brothers’ great-aunt in Chechnya. “She won’t listen to reason.”

MORE Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Found Guilty on All Counts in Boston Bombing Trial

Their only real means of pressuring her is through Tsarnaev’s father, Anzor, a native of Chechnya who now lives in neighboring Dagestan. But he seems to have taken his wife’s side on the quality of their son’s defense. “As frightening as it is to admit, Anzor has been his wife’s zombie all his life, from the first day they met,” says his sister Maret.

In their desperation to reach Tsarnaev during the trial, his paternal relatives have tried sending letters, arranging phone calls and even encouraging a friend to go to the Boston courtroom and cry out to Tsarnaev during a hearing. But all of these efforts failed to reach him, they say, let alone convince him to fire his lawyers.

Their focus now has turned to outside help, primarily from rights activists and international institutions, though these efforts also have little chance of success. On Wednesday, they met with a leading rights activist in Chechnya, Heda Saratova, in the hope of filing an appeal in the case to the European Court of Human Rights. Saratova informed them that the U.S. is not a party to the court’s founding treaty, and therefore does not accept its jurisdiction.

On hearing the news, Maret Tsarnaeva, the aunt, let out a laugh through her tears. “So I guess the U.S. has really proven its exceptionalism in this case,” she says, bitterly. “It’s a closed circle.” And it leaves his family no choice but to wait for April 21, when the sentencing phase of the trial will consider whether Tsarnaev should face the death penalty or spend the rest of his life in prison.

Read next: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Probably Won’t End Up in Massachusetts

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TIME Iran

The 3 Things the Ayatullah Wanted to Achieve in His Defiant Speech

Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, speaking to crowds during a ceremony in Tehran on April 9, 2015.
Official Supreme Leader Website/EPA Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, speaking to crowds during a ceremony in Tehran on April 9, 2015.

The Supreme Leader appealed to hard-liners while leaving the door open to the U.S.

Ayatullah Ali Khamenei broke his silence on the outline of a nuclear deal with the West on April 9, in a speech widely understood to be a buzzkill. “I have told the officials to not trust the opposing side,” he said, “to not be fooled by their smiles, to not trust their promises because when they have achieved their objectives they will laugh at you.”

But was it really a nail in the coffin for the negotiations? There’s no one answer, not least because over the week that followed it has become clear Iran’s Supreme Leader was trying to do several things at once:

1. Take control of the narrative.

By the time Khamenei, 75 and ailing, took the stage in Tehran in April, it was clear Iran’s right-wingers needed to be let out of their cage. At that point, all the skepticism toward the outline agreement seemed to be coming from the U.S. Congress, and in these negotiations, skepticism back home serves to improve one’s bargaining position. Every harsh appraisal from the Hill — which appears poised to demand review of any final deal — arms Western negotiators with new leverage to push even harder for Iranian concessions, as the two sides seek to nail down specifics before the June 30 deadline for a final pact.

But American politicians outshouting Iranians in opposition to a nuclear deal is a strange and rare dynamic, like McDonald’s hawking the Whopper, with Iran in the role of Burger King. The Leader set out to right the universe. Three times in his speech Khamenei called on negotiators to heed or answer “critics,” conspicuously lifting the ban on smack talk. He also directed them to address two specific points that apparently remain outstanding: the timing of lifting all sanctions, which Khamenei said should be immediate, and access of U.N. inspectors to Iranian military facilities, which he at least appeared to forbid.

2. Quiet the crowds.

Iran’s theocratic government is not a monolith, and the unpleasant political reality was that the factions least identified with Khamenei received all the acclaim for the prospective deal announced on April 2. Cheering reformist Foreign Minister Javad Zarif upon arrival from Switzerland, the crowd at the airport chanted, “Kayhan, Israel, our condolences,” naming a hard-line newspaper (whose editor Khamenei appoints) as a loser. Khamenei used his speech to declare that there’s nothing to cheer yet. “Nothing has yet been done and no binding topic has been brought up between the two sides,” he said, in the transcript posted on his personal website, www.leader.ir. “Therefore, extending congratulations is pointless.”

Abbas Milani, who runs the Iranian studies program at Stanford, tells TIME that while President Hassan Rouhani was elected on the platform of striking a deal, Khamenei “doesn’t want Rouhani to get too much credit. He’s very clear: If there’s a deal, it’s because I wanted it. And if there’s not, it’s because these guys were too frivolous to understand they were giving away too much.”

3. Keep the door open.

Khamenei may well loathe and distrust America, but along with the usual name-calling (“obstinate, unreliable, dishonest and into backstabbing”), his speech made clear his willingness to seal a deal — and even work with Washington on future projects, should this one end well. “Of course, the negotiations on the nuclear issue are an experience,” he said. “If the opposite side gives up its misconduct, we can continue this experience in other issues.” He even raised the possibility of extending the talks beyond the June 30 deadline, one more measure of how badly Iran needs a final pact. The regime Khamenei inherited in 1989 from Grand Ayatullah Ruhollah Khomeini may or may not want a nuclear weapon, but without relief from economic sanctions it will be in continuing danger. It’s not only a matter of the hardship born by ordinary Iranians, but by the state itself. Iran’s public sector accounts for perhaps three-quarters of the national economy, directly employing 80% of the Iranian workforce. Small wonder that Khamanei authorized the nuclear negotiations with a call for “heroic flexibility.”

The Supreme Leader’s speech can be seen as a kind of “Rorschach test,” Karim Sadjadpour, an analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who has written extensively on Khamenei, tells TIME. “He throws a lot of red meat to his hard-line base to reassure them he’s still an anti-American revolutionary. But careful readers also notice that underneath all the vitriol, he leaves the door of compromise with the U.S. slightly ajar. Given how badly the Iranian people want this deal to happen, Khamenei doesn’t want to be seen in their eyes as the obstacle.”

All of which, when the dust has cleared, looks like a stronger position for the West as the next round.

TIME China

Why This Chinese Startup Just Bought a Company Americans Love to Ridicule

Segway Ninebot China Copycat
Frederic J. Brown—AFP/Getty Images A woman commutes on a Segway electric, self-balancing scooter in Beijing, China, on June 9, 2009.

Ninebot's acquisition of Segway is signaling the end of "copycat China"

Two companies have sealed a deal that’s raising eyebrows: Segway, the struggling American maker of disgraced self-balancing scooters, has been bought by Ninebot, the Chinese rival that Segway recently accused of copying its signature two-wheelers.

Ninebot announced the curious acquisition for an undisclosed sum on Wednesday, which followed a combined $80 million investment from mega-rich Chinese smartphone company Xiaomi, investment firm Sequoia Capital and other backers. The two electric scooter makers will still operate as separate brands with their own products, but will unite under a “strategic alliance” to develop smarter, greener short-distance transportation vehicles.

The deal comes as a bit of a surprise given the companies’ history. Just seven months ago, Segway filed a trade complaint accusing Ninebot and other Chinese companies of violating its patents. Their products indeed resemble one another, but Ninebot has insisted it “independently owns its intellectual property.”

By itself, Segway is an interesting choice for an acquisition. The New Hampshire-based company’s self-proclaimed “future of transportation” didn’t quite catch on in America, perhaps aside from sometimes being the ride of choice among mall cops. (TIME once named Segway one of the 50 Worst Inventions.) Faced with limited success, Segway ended up being sold off twice to investors, once in 2009 and then again in 2013. The first, British investor Jimi Heselden, died in an ironic, tragic Segway crash in 2010, and the second, Summit Strategic Investments, intended to “refocus” Segway over several years, but that project was never completed.

Still, the Ninebot-Segway deal makes a lot of sense as it relates to China. Ninebot and its backers want to put an end to not only the copyright feud with Segway, but also to a larger, nationwide controversy that Segway called China’s “widespread pattern of infringement”—or what’s also been labeled “copycat China.”

“Today it’s not just copycat China,” Sequoia Capital partner Neil Shen said during Ninebot’s announcement in Beijing. “China will expand, through its own innovations and through acquisitions.”

Though the copycat reputation has long been a source of amusement, profit and convenience for China and its Western observers (the raging counterfeit markets, the full-scale copies of European cities, the fake Western hotels shamelessly named “Haiyatt”), the emphasis on imitation over innovation has contributed to a slow-down in China’s economic growth, according to China Market Research Group. China’s annual GDP growth rate continued to be sluggish at 7.7% in 2013, one of the lowest figures the country has seen in the past 20 years, according to the World Bank:

Some have attributed China’s lack of innovation to how private businesses proliferated only after being granted permission to operate during China’s economic reform in the 1980s. Others have dug deeper to argue the culture has historically prioritized hard knowledge at the expense of fostering creativity.

The Ninebot acquisition appears to be an active step towards unwinding China’s copycat problem by promoting innovation. After all, Ninebot’s most recognizable backer, Xiaomi, appears to be financing the journey. Xiaomi is an innovation king in its own right, having found massive success by filling a void in the market: high-quality, low-end smartphones. It’s also branched out into air purifiers and power strips, both of which are smartly angled towards the nation’s pollution problem.

But will Ninebot and Segway find a niche in China? It’s possible. And perhaps they already have. Chinese cops can sometimes be seen riding Segways and other electric scooters, and consumers there appear to have taken to the vehicles more than Americans have. In fact, former high-ranking leader Bo Xilai reportedly gifted his son a Segway, and tourists can often be seen renting Segways to zoom around cities from one destination to the next.

The Ninebot acquisition has the potential to give the vehicles an innovation jolt to boost affordability, smart technology and functionality, as the greater Chinese economy attempts similarly to ramp up businesses’ creativity. With Ninebot and Segway working together, perhaps the electric scooter can finally find a substantial customer base—even if it’ll never become cool.

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