TIME Egypt

Officials Say 2 Sons of Egypt’s Mubarak Freed From Prison

Gamal Mubarak, Alaa Mubarak
Combination Jan. 6, 2011 file images show Gamal Mubarak, left, and Alaa Mubarak, right, attending a Christmas Eve Mass at the Coptic cathedral in Cairo AP

Brothers will still face a retrial on corruption charges, like their father, former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak

(CAIRO) — Egyptian security officials say two sons of ousted President Hosni Mubarak have been released from prison, nearly four years after they were first arrested along with their father.

The officials said the two, wealthy businessman Alaa and Mubarak’s one-time heir apparent Gamal, walked free from Torah Prison in a southern Cairo suburb shortly after daybreak on Monday and were believed to have headed to their respective homes in the capital.

The two along with their father still face a retrial on corruption charges. The two sons separately face trial on insider trading. They had been acquitted of other charges.

Mubarak stepped down in February 2011 in the face of a popular uprising. He and his two sons were arrested in April that year.

TIME India

India Pulls Out All the Stops for Obama at Republic Day Parade

Indian soldiers march in formation down the ceremonial boulevard Rajpath during the Indian Republic Day parade in New Delhi on Jan. 26, 2015.
Soldiers march in formation down the ceremonial boulevard Rajpath during the Republic Day parade in New Delhi on Jan. 26, 2015. Prakash Singh—AFP/Getty Images

One of the South Asian nation's biggest occasions was made even more momentous by the choice of chief guest

Gloomy skies and a steady downpour were not enough to dampen New Delhi’s spirits on Monday, as thousands turned up to watch U.S. President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle and a sizable American delegation witness a display of India’s military might, economic achievements and diversity at the country’s 66th Republic Day parade.

Obama became the first U.S. President ever to attend the annual event, an invite for which is considered one of the greatest honors India bestows on foreign dignitaries. The President rolled up to the viewing platform in his armored limousine, known as The Beast, eschewing the tradition of riding in the Indian president’s vehicle over security concerns. He then took his place between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with whom he announced a “breakthrough” on a civil nuclear deal Sunday evening, and Indian President Pranab Mukherjee (whose choice of headgear caused a bit of a flutter on social media).

While the U.S. has become India’s biggest military supplier in recent times, the South Asian nation’s armed forces have traditionally been equipped with Soviet hardware, a fact Obama was reminded of as Russian-made T-90 and T-72 tanks rolled down the main stretch, along with a mobile launcher for the BrahMos missile jointly developed by India and Russia.

The parade-ending flyovers by the Indian Air Force did have American P-8 Poseidon naval planes, and although these too were flanked by Russian MIG-29 and SU-30 fighter jets, officials on both sides expressed hope and confidence in the 10-year bilateral defense agreement that Obama and Modi renewed on Sunday.

“None of these things should be considered small in terms of just what it means for working together as two defense industrial bases and what we can share with each other,” Phillip Reiner, Obama’s top South Asia advisor, told the New York Times.

“It’s a huge step forward,” Indian lawmaker Baijayant Panda agreed, even though other analysts remained skeptical but hopeful.

Between the displays of military might came a series of marches — including multiple all-female contingents and even a camel troop — followed by floats and dance performances representing various Indian states, as well as government initiatives like Modi’s “Make in India” and “Swacch Bharat” (Clean India) campaigns.

Finally, there were the motorcycles of the Border Security Force. Known as “Janbaz,” or Dare Devils, they showcased feats of amazing balance, focus and agility — all while tapping on laptops and dressed as peacocks and lotuses.

Judging by Obama’s reaction, one of his most animated during the course of the parade, they got the White House seal of approval.

TIME Japan

Japan Seeks Jordan’s Help in Gaining Hostage’s Release

Video of one hostage's death remains unverified as Japan scrambles to save another

(TOKYO) — Japan sought help from Jordan and other countries Monday in its race to save a hostage held by the extremist Islamic State group, with no signs of progress on securing his release.

The chief government spokesman refused direct comment on the contents of talks with Jordan, where a Japanese envoy is coordinating regional efforts to save hostage Kenji Goto.

The Islamic State group said in an online video on Jan. 20 that it had two Japanese hostages and would kill them within 72 hours unless it paid $200 million.

Over the weekend, a new, unverified video showed a still photo of Goto, a 47-year-old journalist, holding a picture of what appears to be the body of fellow hostage Haruna Yukawa. It included a recording of a voice claiming to be Goto, saying his captors want a prisoner exchange instead of ransom.

Asked if the latest demand, which brings Jordan into the picture, makes the situation more complex, Suga avoided a straight answer. But he said, “Naturally, Jordan has its own thoughts.”

“The government is doing its utmost as the situation is still developing,” he told reporters. “We are seeking cooperation from every possible party toward a release (of the remaining hostage).”

Japanese officials have indicated they are treating the video released over the weekend as authentic and thus accepting the likelihood that Yukawa, a 42-year-old adventurer captured in Syria last summer, was killed.

“It was an extremely dastardly act,” Suga said.

In Amman, Yasuhide Nakayama, the Japanese deputy foreign minister in charge of the crisis, emerged from meetings with no fresh progress to report.

“Due to the nature of is problem, please understand why I cannot disclose information such as with whom I had meetings,” he said.

Nakayama vowed to “absolutely not give up until the end.”

The Associated Press could not verify the contents of the weekend video message, which differed from earlier videos released by the Islamic State group, which now holds a third of both Syria and Iraq.

News of the likely killing of Yukawa drew international condemnation, and outrage in Japan. Goto is thought to have been seized in late October after going there to try to rescue him.

Some in Japan are critical of the two men for taking such risks. Some Japanese also are criticizing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for pursuing a more assertive foreign policy, saying it may have contributed to the crisis.

Abe has pushed to expand the role for Japan’s troops — one that has remained strictly confined to self-defense under the pacifist constitution adopted after the nation’s defeat in World War II.

While on a visit to the Middle East earlier this month, Abe announced $200 million in humanitarian aid to the nations fighting the militants.

TIME United Kingdom

A Prank Caller Got Through to British Prime Minister David Cameron

100 days to go to general election
100 days to go to general election. File photo dated 08/01/15 of Prime Minister David Cameron as the countdown begins on Tuesday of the final 100 days to a general election which is shaping up to be unlike any other in recent history Peter Byrne—PA Wire/Press Association Images/AP

But a government spokeswoman says no sensitive information was disclosed

A prank caller managed to get through to British Prime Minister David Cameron on Sunday, prompting a security review at 10 Downing Street.

The caller claimed to be Robert Hannigan, the director of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), a U.K. intelligence agency, according to the Guardian.

Another hoax was reported on Sunday when a caller managed to reach GCHQ and obtain the phone number of Hannigan.

A government spokeswoman said “Following two hoax calls to government departments today, a notice has gone out to all departments to be on the alert for such calls.”

The spokeswoman added that the phone call was “quite brief” and no sensitive information was disclosed.

Mr. Cameron has been duped before. In 2013 he tweeted at a spoof account for work and pensions minister, Iain Duncan Smith, without apparently realizing the account was a fraud.

[The Guardian]

TIME Qatar

Qatar Has Asked a U.S. Family if They Want Their Daughter’s Alleged Killer Executed

Prince Charles Visits Qatar - Day 2
A general view of the skyline in Doha, Qatar, on Feb. 20, 2014 Chris Jackson—Getty Images

They also have the option to pardon him or get financial compensation

A Pennsylvania family is being asked to decide on whether the alleged killer of their daughter should be put to death in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar.

A Kenyan security guard reportedly confessed to murdering English teacher Jennifer Brown, 40, who was found dead in her company apartment in November 2012, Agence France-Presse says.

Qatari authorities have now asked Brown’s family whether they want to pardon the guard, get financial compensation from him, or have him executed.

Brown’s case has languished in Qatar’s courts because of slow witness testimony, eliciting disappointment from her family. An announcement of their decision is expected on March 8.

[AFP]

TIME Philippines

Retrieval of More Than 30 Slain Filipino Commandos Under Way

At least 21 bodies found in southern Philippines, where separatist Islamic insurgency rages

(MANILA) — Philippine police have recovered at least 21 bodies of the dozens commandos who were mowed down by Muslim rebel gunfire in a far-flung southern village where they moved in over the weekend to hunt down one of southeast Asia’s most-wanted terrorists, officials said Monday.

Army-backed police and villagers also helped take 11 wounded members of the national police’s elite Special Action Forces away from the battle scene in and around the village of Tukanalipao in Mamasapano township, where the government suffered its biggest single-day combat loss in many years, officials said.

Mayor Tahirudin Benzar Ampatuan told The Associated Press by telephone that village leaders saw the bodies of at least policemen in a clearing following Sunday’s fighting. Many of the dead were stripped to their underwear, with their assault firearms missing.

“What they described to me was gruesome,” Ampatuan said.

The commandos had sneaked into the Muslim rebel community in two groups, but apparently had “misencounter” with members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the main Muslim insurgent group, which signed a peace deal with the government in March and has had a relatively successful cease-fire agreement with government troops in recent years, Ampatuan said.

Under the truce, government forces are required to coordinate anti-terror assaults and other law enforcement operations with the Moro rebels to prevent accidental fighting. But the aapproximately 100 police commandos did not notify the rebels before they arrived in the dark, Moro rebel leader Mohagher Iqbal said.

“If somebody barges into your house, what will you do?” Iqbal said by telephone.

He said the 11,000-strong Moro group would file a protest over the action of the police commandos, but added the incident was not likely to undermine the peace process, a view shared by Philippine officials.

“The peace process will not be affected because we’re not dealing against the MILF here,” Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said, referring to the Liberation Front.

“We are up against the enemies of the state,” Gazmin said, referring to breakaway Muslim rebels, called the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, who also have a presence in Tukanalipao and reportedly helped subdue the outnumbered commandos.

Gazmin said the police were trying to arrest Zulkifli bin Hir, a Malaysian terror suspect, and a Filipino bomb-making expert, Abdul Basit Usman. U.S. and Philippine authorities have blamed them for several deadly bombings in the south.

Washington has offered up to $5 million reward for the Malaysian’s capture.

Ampatuan said the fighting ended when members of a cease-fire committee and foreign truce monitors intervened.

The peace pact, signed in March, aims to establish a more powerful and better-funded autonomous region for minority Muslims in the south and end a decades-long rebellion. The conflict has left 150,000 people dead and helped stunt development in the country’s poorest region.

TIME Australia

The Aussies Just Made the Queen’s Husband a Knight

The First World War exhibition open - London
Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, attends the opening of "First World War in the Air" exhibition at the RAF Museum in Hendon, England, on Dec. 2, 2014 Eddie Mulholland—The Telegraph/PA Wire/AP

That's like "giving a Beyoncé CD to Jay-Z" says Aussie comic Adam Hills

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott spent Monday morning mired in controversy after his office kicked off Australia Day celebrations by making Britain’s Prince Philip a Knight of the Order of Australia.

Australians have long been acquainted with the 93-year-old royal, who is notorious for uttering headline-worthy gaffes. During a trip to the Lucky Country in 2002, the Duke of Edinburgh, as he is officially titled, asked an Aboriginal man: “Do you still throw spears at each other?”

Nevertheless, Abbott praised Prince Philip’s “long life of service” during a flag-raising ceremony in the Australian capital, Canberra, on Monday morning.

“This honor recognizes the contribution of the Duke of Edinburgh to Australia throughout the Queen’s 62-year reign,” read a statement released by Abbott’s office. “For three quarters of a century, Prince Philip has served the Crown, and the wider Commonwealth.”

Following the announcement, Australians took to social media to slam the decision to give the nation’s top honor to the Prince rather than an Australian.

Abbott attempted to defend the decision during an Australia Day function in Canberra.

“Social media is kind of like electronic graffiti and I think that in the media, you make a big mistake to pay too much attention to social media,” he told reporters, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

TIME miss universe

Miss Colombia Paulina Vega Named Miss Universe 2015

Paulina Vega
Miss Colombia Paulina Vega poses during the Miss Universe pageant in Miami, on Jan. 25, 2015 Wilfredo Lee—AP

Miss USA Nia Sanchez named runner-up

Miss Colombia Paulina Vega was crowned Miss Universe in a live show in Miami Sunday night. Miss USA Nia Sanchez from Las Vegas was named a runner-up, along with Miss Ukraine Diana Harkusha.

Vega, the 21-year-old granddaughter of celebrated Colombian singer Gastón Vega, is a student of business from the northern Colombia city of Barranquilla, and says this will be her final competition as she intends to resume her education, reported the Associated Press.

“It will be a dream come true to represent the woman of today,” she said this week before receiving news of her win. “A woman that not only cares about being beautiful and being glamorous, but also cares about being a professional, intelligent, hard-working person.”

A total of 88 countries participated in the contest, of which 15 contestants were narrowed down after a grueling selection process. The event allowed participants to spend two weeks sharing experiences like golfing and learning Zumba together.

For Sanchez, it was another year of disappointment: the 23-year-old also competed in the 2014 competition but lost out to Miss Venezuela Gabriela Isler.

[AP]

Read next: See Photos From the First Miss Universe Pageants

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Iraq

Angelina Jolie: The World Must Do More for Syrian and Iraqi Refugees

She says "the international community is failing" millions displaced by regional conflict

Speaking from a displaced-persons camp in northern Iraq on Sunday, Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie asked the worldwide community to pledge more financial support for refugees in Syria and Iraq to prevent a catastrophic humanitarian crisis.

The U.N. refugee agency, the UNHCR, is facing a a severe budgetary shortfall. Last year, it only received a little over half of the $337 million needed to fund a program for internally displaced Iraqi and Syrians, it reported in a press release.

“It is shocking to see how the humanitarian situation in Iraq has deteriorated since my last visit,” Jolie told media on her fifth trip to Iraq as a special UNHCR ambassador.

According to the UNHCR, over 7 million Syrians and almost 2 million Iraqis remain internally displaced from the ongoing Syrian civil war and attacks by the extremist group ISIS. Almost 4 million Syrian refugees are scrambling to survive in neighboring Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq and Jordan.

“We are being tested here as an international community and so far, for all the immense efforts and good intentions, the international community is failing,” Jolie said.

TIME Military

The U.S. Needs a New Yardstick for a New Kind of War

IRAQ-CONFLICT
Buildings burn Saturday during a military operation launched by the Iraqi army to retake positions held by Islamic State outside the village Sharween, north of Baghdad. YOUNIS AL-BAYATI / AFP / Getty Images

America keeps measuring progress on a battlefield that no longer exists

Body counts are never a good a yardstick for measuring progress in a war of ideas. That’s why the Pentagon freaked out Thursday when Stuart Jones, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, told the Al Arabiya News Channel that America and its allies “have now killed more than 6,000 ISIS fighters in Syria and Iraq.”

The first counter-fire came, within hours, from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. “I was in a war where there was a lot of body counts every day,” the outgoing defense chief, who served as an Army sergeant in the Vietnam War, said in one of his most pungent observations in his two years on the job. “And we lost that war.”

Hagel’s spokesman piled on Friday. “It’s not a metric that we’re going to hang our hat on when it comes to talking to the success of this strategy,” Rear Admiral John Kirby said of the Pentagon’s internal body-count estimate. “This is not a uniformed army with identification cards and recruiting posters.”

While Ambassador Jones added that the 6,000 number was “not so important” in the overall scheme of things, the catnip was out of the bag. That’s because Americans, impatient over wars that drag on (like Hagel’s Vietnam and George W. Bush’s Afghanistan and Iraq), crave measurements that suggest progress.

Unfortunately, that metric mindset has little utility in wars against ideology. “I don’t know whether 6,000 [ISIS] people have been killed or not,” California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the intelligence committee, told CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday. “But that is not going to do it.”

That’s because conflicts like the one now underway against the Islamist fundamentalism represented by the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) are not constrained by national boundaries, or the national pressure points that have traditionally been the trigger of wars (and the foundation of ending them) among states.

Without the trappings of formal government—a capital, commerce, standing armies—non-state actors like ISIS or al-Qaeda deny military powers like the U.S. the kinds of targets they prefer. Their allegiance to ideology—be it theology or something else—takes away the fulcrum that victors used to leverage to bring wars to an end.

Industrial powers created industrial militaries, where rear-echelon bean-counters could tote up tanks, ball-bearing factories and troops destroyed—and thereby chart progress, or the lack thereof. But ideological war isn’t industrial in scope. Instead, it’s more like information warfare, where ideas, shared online, create alliances that ripple across borders and oceans.

It took a Detroit to build an industrial arsenal of democracy, with each weapon requiring dollars and sweat to assemble. Today, it merely takes a keyboard to build an ideological alliance, each member a low-cost addition requiring little more than fervor and an Internet connection.

The Administration of George W. Bush concluded the way to prevail after the 9/11 attacks was to invade and occupy Afghanistan and Iraq. Following wars that eventually will cost $3 trillion or more, and at least 6,845 American lives, his successor has decided not to tag along. Instead, President Barack Obama has told the nations involved—those with the most at risk—to step up to the plate to do the fighting, with the U.S. filling the role of best supporting actor.

Some see such a policy as too timid. “The U.S. efforts have always been halfhearted, half-resourced and focused on exit strategies rather than on success,” says David Sedney, who ran the Pentagon office responsible for Afghanistan, Pakistan and central Asia from 2009 to 2013. “We always want to have an exit, and the problem with real life is there’s no exit.” He argues that the U.S. needs to launch nation-building strategies in failed states that currently serve as incubators for ISIS and other groups.

Politicians aren’t calling for such radical action. But some believe the U.S. needs to step up the fight. “We need more boots on the ground,” Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, the new chairman of the Armed Services Committee, told CBS on Sunday. “I know that is a tough thing to say and a tough thing for Americans to swallow, but it doesn’t mean the 82nd Airborne. It means forward air controllers. It means special forces. It means intelligence and it means other capabilities.”

The U.S., McCain said, can’t simply direct wars against ISIS and similar foes from relative safety behind the front lines. “For [the Administration] to say, ‘we expect [Iraq and Yemen] to do it on their own,’ they’re not doing it on their own,” he said. “And they are losing.”

The last clear victory scored by the U.S. military was against Iraq in 1991, led by President George H.W. Bush, a Cold War commander-in-chief. It was a bespoke war tailor-made for the Pentagon: Iraq’s massive army stormed into Kuwait, occupied it, and waited for the U.S. and its allies to drive it out.

The world watched that conflict and decided, given Washington’s overwhelming advantages in that kind of war, not to fight it again. Unfortunately, too many Americans seem unaware that the rules have changed. So they continue to want to measure progress in today’s conflicts with yesterday’s yardsticks.

But such yearnings are doomed. Persistence and will, not body bags, are the keys to winning these kinds of wars.

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