TIME czech republic

8 Dead in Czech Restaurant Shooting

Czech Republic Shooting
Dalibor Gluck / AP A police officer patrols near a restaurant where a gunman opened fire injuring at least one person in Uhersky Brod, in the east of the Czech Republic, Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015

The shooter, a man about 60, was among the dead

(PRAGUE) — A mayor in the Czech Republic says a local man has opened fire in a restaurant in a clash that has left at least eight people dead.

Patrik Kuncar, mayor of the southeastern town of Uherske Brod, also said the shooter, a man around 60, was among the dead.

Interior Minister Milan Chovanec was also quoted by two Czech media outlets as saying that eight people had been killed. He was heading for the town, located 300 kilometers (185 miles) southeast of Prague.

TIME Canada

Canadian City Eyes ‘Freezeway’ for Commuters to Skate to Work

Edmonton, Alberta considers proposal to flood a 7-mile path to create a skating route into the city center

One Canadian city is looking to make the most of the frigid temperatures that come with winter in much of North America. The city of Edmonton, Alberta is eyeing plans to flood a 11km (7-mile) path in the city to create a skate route for commuters, or a “freezeway.”

Matthew Gibbs, a landscape architecture student who grew up in Edmonton, first floated the concept in 2013, when he took home the top prize in the Coldscapes international design competition. This winter, he presented it again at the 2015 Winter Cities conference, according to BBC, an event centered on finding ways for cities to make the best of the long, cold months of winter.

While Gibbs’ freezeway idea was a hit this year, many lawmakers and residents worry about cost and steering resources away from more serious issues.

Read more at BBC.

 

TIME Environment

UN Climate Panel’s Chief Steps Down Over Sexual Harassment Claims

R.K. Pachauri in 2010.
Manan Vatsyayana—AFP/Getty Images R.K. Pachauri in 2010.

R.K. Pachauri, 75, had chaired the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change since 2002

The leader of the U.N.’s expert panel on climate change stepped down on Tuesday amid an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment in his native India.

R.K. Pachauri, 75, had chaired the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change since 2002 and accepted the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize on its behalf.

The IPCC “needs strong leadership and dedication of time and full attention by the chair in the immediate future, which under the current circumstances I may be unable to provide,” Pachauri wrote in a letter to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

He did not elaborate but pointed to his withdrawal from a meeting in Nairobi this week to attend to what the IPCC called “issues demanding his attention in India.”

Pachauri is being investigated in India after a 29-year-old woman accused him of sexually harassing her while they worked together at the New Delhi lobbying and research organization he heads, The Energy Resources Institute.

Pachauri denies the allegations and has said he is “committed to provide all assistance and cooperation to the authorities.”

The IPCC said vice chairman Ismail El Gizouli will serve as the panel’s acting chairman, and a vote on a new chairperson was already scheduled for October. Pachauri’s second term as chairman was due to end then, and he had said that he wouldn’t run for a third term.

Pachauri said in his resignation letter that he “would be available for help, support and advice to the entire IPCC in its future work in whatever manner I may be called on to provide.”

TIME Drones

Mysterious Drones Spotted Over Paris

Earth Hour In Paris
Antoine Antoniol—Getty Images The Eiffel Tower is seen before the lights are switched off for Earth Hour 2012, on March 31, 2012 in Paris, France.

Flights over U.S. embassy and landmarks raise surveillance concerns

French police are searching for the pilots behind several mysterious drones that were seen cruising over Paris landmarks and secured compounds on Monday and Tuesday nights.

Unmanned aerial vehicles are already prohibited across the French capital, the Wall Street Journal reports, but the flights spotted this week have raised surveillance concerns in a city that is on high alert after the January terrorist attacks. The drones were seen flying near the Eiffel Tower, the U.S. Embassy and the Interior Ministry.

Police have not yet established how many drones were involved, or whether there was any connection between the flights.

Read more in the WSJ

Read next: Watch This Stunning Drone’s Eye View of Frozen Niagara Falls

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Syria

ISIS Abducts At Least 90 Christians in Syria, Activists Say

Militant Islamist fighters take part in a military parade along the streets of northern Raqqa province, June 2014.
Reuters Militant Islamist fighters take part in a military parade along the streets of northern Raqqa province, June 2014.

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Islamist militants seized members of the Assyrian community

Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) militants have abducted at least 90 Christian men, women and children from a cluster of villages in northeastern Syria, according to reports received by human rights activists on Tuesday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that ISIS militants seized members of the Assyrian community, a Christian minority sect, during a series of dawn raids centering on the town of Tal Tamr and neighboring villages.

Another group, the Syriac National Council of Syria, said that it had verified at least 150 people missing who were kidnapped in the raids.

The abductions occurred as Kurdish Peshmerga forces, backed by U.S. airstrikes, have waged a campaign against ISIS strongholds in northern Syria, forcing ISIS militants back by at least 3 miles, according to Peshmerga commanders and activists on the ground.

Islamist militants swearing allegiance to ISIS beheaded an estimated 21 Coptic Christians in Libya earlier this month.

Read next: ISIS Uses Social Media to Lure British Muslim Girls, Think Tank Says

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Greece

Greece Submits New List of Bailout Reforms to Europe Chiefs

Greece Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras listens to Greek President Karolos Papoulias during their meeting at Presidential Palace in Athens, Greece on Feb. 18, 2015.
Thanassis Stavrakis—AP Greece Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras listens to Greek President Karolos Papoulias during their meeting at Presidential Palace in Athens, Greece on Feb. 18, 2015.

Dutch finance minister said list of planned reforms seemed likely to be an adequate basis for further negotiations

Greece’s new government has cleared the first of what’s likely to be many hurdles as it tries to buy time for its plans to get the country out of its economic mess.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch finance minister who chairs the Eurogroup committee of Treasury heads, said he had received, on time, a list of planned reforms that Greece wants to replace the less palatable aspects of the country’s €240 billion bailout plan, and that it seemed likely to be an adequate basis for further negotiations.

Getting the list to Brussels by close of business Monday was the first condition of a deal struck Friday which will keep the current program alive, ensuring that neither the government nor Greek banks will run out of money in the near term.

The list of proposals sent by Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis contains more general principles than concrete measures, most of which can be summed up in its final sentence promising that “its fight against the humanitarian crisis has no negative fiscal effect” – in other words, putting the bailout’s budget targets before its election promises to spend lavishly on those worst hit by the crisis.

The list also appears to back down on key demands made by the creditors on issues like value-added tax and pension reform. It also outlines ambitious plans to crack down on tax evasion and smuggling and to close loopholes in the system, in an effort to redistribute more of the tax burden to big companies and richer individuals.

It also commits not to roll back privatizations that have already been completed, and to phase in a new “smart” approach to wage bargaining, essentially opening the door to firm-by-firm agreements that the creditors insist are key to making the country’s labor market work better. Greece’s jobless rate of 25.8% (as of December) is the highest in Europe, after a five-year recession that destroyed a quarter of the country’s economy. Plans for an immediate and sharp increase in the minimum wage have also been dropped, replaced by another “phased in” suggestion.

Dijsselbloem said the Eurogroup would hold a conference call later Tuesday at which it would discuss whether to accept the proposals as a basis for negotiations.

The proposals were greeted with approval in Germany, Greece’s largest creditor in the Eurozone. Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel was quoted by Reuters as saying he was “cautiously optimistic that we are…moving step by step to a solution of the conflict,” while Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble asked parliament to approve Greece’s request for a four-month extension to the program, in line with Friday’s deal.

Greece’s stock and bond markets reacted joyously to the news, with the benchmark stock index rising 7.2% and the risk premiums on Greek government and bank debt tumbling. The yield on the government’s five-year bond fell by over two percentage points from over 14% to 12.12% by lunchtime in Athens.

Not quite everybody was happy, however. The government’s proposal to crack down on public procurement processes is bad news for companies that have done well out of the existing system. Shares in Dromeas SA, the country’s largest maker and seller of office furniture, fell 8.5% as Varoufakis took aim at non-salary and non-pension spending which “account for an astounding 56% of total public expenditure,” the letter noted.

This article was originally published on Fortune.com

TIME Greece

Greece Submits New List of Bailout Reforms

SYRIZA's parliamentary group meeting at the Parliament in Athens
Alexandros Vlachos—EPA Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and head of Syriza party addresses his party lawmakers during a meeting of their parliamentary group at the Parliament in Athens on Feb. 17, 2015

Greece Submits New List of Bailout Reforms

(ATHENS) — Greece’s left-wing government delivered a list of reforms Tuesday to debt inspectors for final approval of extended rescue loans, officials said.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was already facing dissent within his left-wing Syriza party over claims it is backtracking on its recent election-winning promises to ease budget cuts for the recession-battered Greeks.

Greece and bailout creditors have been in a standoff since Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ left-wing Syriza party won general elections last month on a pledge to tear up bailout agreements and seek a massive write off of bailout debts, totaling 240 billion euros ($271 billion).

But they reached a tentative agreement Friday to extend the country’s rescue loan program by four months, avoiding the risk of a Greek default and exit from the euro currency.

The government official said reforms focus on curbing tax evasion, corruption, smuggling and excessive bureaucracy while also addressing poverty caused by a six-year recession.

A Syriza official in Brussels said that “immediate priority” would be given to the settling of overdue debts, the protection of people with mortgage arrears as well as the ending of foreclosures of first residencies.

“Creditors will be skeptical. These are notoriously difficult reforms and, in the case of the latter, usually cost money,” said Megan Greene, chief economist at Manulife Asset Management.

“It will be difficult for the Greek government to provide concrete measures for achieving these goals, and they will almost certainly be unable to achieve much before the next round of negotiations in June.”

Tsipras is also facing pressure within his party.

Several prominent Syriza members have publicly said the party should honor its campaign promises.

Environment Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis, an outspoken bailout critic, lashed lead bailout lender Germany for insisting that Athens stick with austerity measures — an effort he insisted would fail.

“Red lines in negotiations cannot be crossed — that’s why they are red,” he told the weekly Real News. “If the Germans choose to push the issue to a rift, they will bring catastrophic consequences on themselves.”

The dissent could complicate approval of the overhauled reforms in parliament, with Syriza lacking a majority and relying on right-wing coalition partner, the Independent Greeks.

Government spokesman Gavrill Sakelaridis argued Greece is still locked in tough negotiations with lenders.

“No one can be expected to change everything in three weeks. We haven’t got a magic wand,” he told private Skai television.

Nikos Chountis, the deputy foreign minister, said the government had not abandoned its main goal of easing the country’s debt burden with a write off. Any talks on lightening Greece’s bailout burden would only come later — after the loan extension is approved this week, guaranteeing both sides have time to discuss the issue in depth.

“The big negotiation will be on whether the national debt is viable or not, and how it will be dealt with,” he told pro-Syriza Sto Kokkino radio.

Monday’s hurried preparations in Athens found Greeks celebrating a public holiday, the start of lent before Orthodox Christian Easter, on a day marked with picnics and kite flying.

Athens resident Christos Kotsabouyoukos took his young son and daughter to fly their kite on a hill facing the ancient Acropolis, and appeared resigned to more bad news.

“The way we’re living now isn’t nice … Greeks are hungry and they are miserable,” he said. “”If Europe now wants to kick us out, they can kick us out — what can we do?”

TIME LGBT

The U.S. Has Appointed Its First Ever Special Envoy for LGBT Rights

The former U.S. consul general in the Netherlands has been named in the role

The U.S. appointed its first-ever special envoy on Monday to defend and promote the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

The State Department named Randy Berry, a gay senior diplomat who previously served as U.S. consul general in the Netherlands, to the role, reports Reuters.

In his new role, Berry will work to reduce violence and discrimination against LGBT people around the world, including those in some 75 countries where homosexuality and same-sex relationships are criminalized.

“Defending and promoting the human rights of LGBT persons is at the core of our commitment to advancing human rights globally — the heart and conscience of our diplomacy,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement.

[Reuters]

TIME uk

ISIS Uses Social Media to Lure British Muslim Girls, Think Tank Says

Renu Begun, sister of teenage British girl Shamima Begun, holds a photo of her sister as she makes an appeal for her to return home at Scotland Yard, in London
Reuters Renu Begun, sister of teenage British girl Shamima Begun, holds a photo of her sister as she makes an appeal for her to return home at Scotland Yard in London on Feb. 22, 2015

"The promise of an Islamist utopia" entices young girls to join global jihad

The Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) is deploying social media and the promise of adventure to enlist young British Muslim girls to wage jihad in the Middle East, a counterextremism think tank said Monday.

Police are currently searching for three young British Muslim girls they believe might have traveled to Syria to join ISIS after apparently being seduced by the group’s fanaticism.

The trio, ranging in ages from 15 to 16, boarded a flight to Istanbul from London last week without notifying their families, Reuters reports. Turkey is a common waypoint for young extremists aiming to reach neighboring Syria.

ISIS uses social-media tools like Twitter, Facebook and Ask.fm as recruitment channels, according to the Quilliam Foundation, which estimates women account for approximately 10% of the 600 British Muslims so far recruited. The foundation released a 2014 report saying “the promise of an Islamist utopia” drew women lacking agency in their own lives in the West.

“Many of these girls are not allowed out, or to do certain things in society,” said Quilliam’s managing director Haras Rafiq. “When they are online, they are being targeted with messages of empowerment.”

“These girls are going abroad because they are not really achieving what they consider to be much in Britain,” Rafiq added.

[Reuters]

TIME On Our Radar

See 30 of the Best Photos Short-Listed in the Sony World Photography Awards

More than 170,000 images compete for the ultimate award

Five American photographers are in the running to win this year’s Professional Photographer of the Year title at the Sony World Photography Awards.

Getty Images’ John Moore, Aristide Economopoulos, Lisa Krantz, Kerry Mansfield and Jassen Todorov are among the dozens of photographers to have been short-listed for the competition’s 2015 edition.

Their work was selected from among more than 170,000 images from 171 countries.

The winners will be revealed at a ceremony in London on April 23, with the Professional Photographer of the Year receiving a $25,000 cash prize.

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