TIME France

France’s Former First Lady: Hollande Mocked the Poor

FRANCE-CHARITY-POVERTY-SECOURS POPULAIRE
French former First lady Valerie Trierweiler is pictured on a beach in Ouistreham, northwestern France, on August 20, 2014. Charly Triballeau—AFP/Getty Images

It was just one of many incendiary allegations excerpted from her new tell-all book

France’s former first lady Valerie Trierweiller seems to have held nothing back in her new tell-all book, Thanks for the Moment, which airs the details of her break-up with French President Francois Hollande, according to excerpts published in France’s leading daily newspaper Wednesday.

“He likes to come across as a man who doesn’t like the rich,” read one extract reported by Bloomberg News. “In reality, the president doesn’t like the poor. This, the man of the Left, calls them in private ‘the toothless,’ very proud of his brand of humor.”

It was just one of many startling confessions excerpted from the 330-page book and printed in France’s Le Monde. Trierweiller, 49, said she “cracked” after news broke of Hollande’s affair with 42-year-old actor Julie Gayet, after which Trierweiller attempted to swallow a heavy dose of sleeping pills. Hollande struggled to strip the pills from her hand.

“The pills scattered over the bed and the ground,” Trierweiller wrote. “I managed to recover some of them. I swallowed what I could.”

Trierweiller also says Hollande flatly denied rumors of an affair until images of him riding a scooter to Gayet’s apartment surfaced in the news. She claims that Hollande begged to have her back at “whatever the price” while Trierweiller was still recovering from shock in a hospital.

The allegations come at a sensitive time for Hollande as he battles record low approval ratings and an open revolt within the ranks of his own party’s ministers, who dissolved his governing coalition last week.

TIME Syria

Murdered Journalist Sought to Give Voice to the Voiceless

American freelance journalist Steven Sotloff during a work trip in Manama, Bahrain, Oct. 26, 2010.
American freelance journalist Steven Sotloff during a work trip in Manama, Bahrain, Oct. 26, 2010. Mazen Mahdi—EPA

People who knew American reporter Steven Sotloff say he was evenhanded and driven to report on the humanitarian dimensions of the conflicts in the Middle East

Right from the start of the Syrian civil war, in March 2011, reporting from inside the country meant facing an unusually high level of danger. And as the country’s Arab Spring–inspired uprising morphed into a bloody, sectarian-tinged stalemate, the risks to journalists working there grew. That didn’t stop reporters like Steven Sotloff, who is believed to have been beheaded by the militant group the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) in Syria after spending more than a year in captivity, from risking their lives to tell the stories of Syrians trapped in the middle.

Sotloff leaped into the tumult of the Middle East with a passion for reporting the details of daily life in the middle of momentous change. He referred to himself on Twitter as a “Stand-up philosopher from Miami” and was known as an “easy-going, jovial and kind-hearted guy,” according to one of his closest friends, Barak Barfi, a research fellow at the New America Foundation. Barfi says he and Sotloff shared a love for U.S. sports teams as well as the Middle East, and often worked together as the Arab Spring took off in 2011. Sotloff, says Barfi, was drawn to the Middle East not by the wars and the battles, but by the opportunity to “give a voice to the people who didn’t have one. He always wanted to bring out the humanitarian aspect of a story.” That desire led Sotloff to Yemen, where he studied Arabic, and to Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, Turkey and eventually Syria. His stories focused on small human details rather than epic battles. And he was never content to take the obvious tack, notes Barfi. “He always said there were two sides to every story, and he was not ready to condemn a person without hearing what he had to say.” Sotloff, says Barfi, wasn’t just interested in getting a big interview: “He wanted to understand what made a man tick.” That desire took him to places few journalists would visit, and turned into powerful stories that brought distant conflict to life.

Sotloff grew up in Florida and attended boarding school in New Hampshire, where he got his start as a journalist while working for the school newspaper. He returned to Florida to go to university, where he continued with journalism at one of the University of Central Florida’s student newspapers. He left in 2005 to pursue journalism full time, moving to the Middle East to learn Arabic. Dedicated as he was to the events buffeting the region, he never lost touch with his favorite hometown team, tweeting frequently about the Miami Heat. At one point he wondered out loud on Twitter: “Is it bad that I want to focus on #syria, but all I can think of is a #HEATFinals repeat?”

Sotloff was a committed reporter, eager to get to the source of stories. He was careful but was rarely frightened of the dangers of reporting in the Middle East. He knew where the red lines were, says Barfi, who also served as the Sotloff family spokesman while Sotloff was in captivity. Sotloff knew militants who had gone on to join ISIS, says Barfi, and he had heard enough about the group to avoid them. It was one of the few subjects he wrote about from a distance. “He knew about ISIS and the dangers they posed for Westerners and Syrians, that was one of the few topics he wouldn’t touch in person.”

Sotloff’s parents and supporters elected to keep his kidnapping out of the news in the hopes it would aid his release. But on Aug. 19, ISIS released a video of the beheading of American journalist James Foley; the video showed Sotloff kneeling in the desert and the ISIS member who appeared to have executed Foley said that Sotloff could be ISIS’s next victim. A week later, Shirley Sotloff, his mother, issued a video plea to ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to “grant amnesty” to her son.

Her request went unmet. In the video of Sotloff’s beheading, Sotloff describes himself as “paying the price” for the U.S.’s decision to strike ISIS targets in Iraq. It was most likely a statement made under duress, says Barfi. “Steve would never subjugate himself to making such a statement against the United States if he weren’t coerced into it.” Referring to reports that Foley may have been waterboarded while in captivity, Barfi suggests that Sotloff likely received the same treatment. “We know the torture these guys were subjected to.”

Sotloff and I reported together briefly in Bahrain in February 2011, as Bahraini citizens first rose up in protest against their government. He was generous with his contacts and was eager to share stories of people he had encountered while reporting. Proficient in Arabic, he even helped translate for reporters with rival organizations. We stayed in touch via email over the years, especially once he started writing pieces for TIME, but we never met in person again. The last time I heard from Sotloff, he had just returned from Libya, where he had managed to interview seven of the Libyan security guards who had been on duty at the U.S. mission in Benghazi on the night of the attack that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. It was a journalistic coup, and he produced an excellent account of the events of that night that contributed to the national conversation about the events in Benghazi. But Sotloff fretted that the politics of the issue had taken away from the personal accounts. “I should have written a feature piece about one of the guards and his emotions,” he told me in an email. For Sotloff, getting those personal stories was what journalism was all about. And, as for any reporter, the only way he could get them was by being on the ground.

TIME Foreign Policy

Obama Offers Muddled Message to Europe in Face of Crises

Barack Obama Estonia Europe
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at Nordea Concert Hall in Tallinn, Estonia on Sept. 3, 2014. Charles Dharapak—AP

Several questions remained about how he intends to deal with the multiple foreign policy crises facing his administration

President Barack Obama traveled to Estonia on Wednesday to set the world straight on his intentions. In a speech at the wood-paneled Nordea Concert Hall in Tallinn, he spoke of “steadfast support,” “solemn duty,” “crystal clear” treaties and “concrete commitments.”

“NATO must send an unmistakable message in support of Ukraine,” Obama said. “Ukraine needs more than words.”

The rhetoric hit its marks. The message, however, was muddled.

As he finished his speaking engagements, several questions remained about how he intends to deal with the multiple foreign policy crises facing his administration. He again condemned Russian incursions into Ukraine, and promised new U.S. and European help to train, modernize and strengthen the Ukrainian military. But his “unmistakable message” of support stopped short of defining or ruling out any additional U.S. military role should Russian aggression continue.

While he pointedly promised to defend those countries in the region who are signatories to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Obama offered no similar assurances to Ukraine, even as he highlighted that country’s voluntary contributions to NATO military efforts. Instead, Obama asked for a focus on a peace process that seems, for the moment, elusive.

“Since ultimately there’s no military solution to this crisis, we will continue to support [Ukrainian] President [Petro] Poroshenko’s efforts to achieve peace because, like all independent nations, Ukraine must be free to decide its own destiny,” he said, minutes after the Kremlin denied reports it had reached a ceasefire with Ukraine. As NATO leaders gather to consider imposing additional economic sanctions on Russia, Obama hailed the success of the U.S.-led sanctions regime, which has hurt the Russian economy but without stopping additional Russian military aggression in Ukraine.

This was not the only issue on which he left gray areas. During a news conference earlier in the day, he offered several differing, if not contradictory, descriptions of U.S. goals for handling the threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).

While highlighting ongoing efforts to build an international coalition to take on the group and promising congressional consultation, he offered no indication of his still developing strategy to take on the group.

“The bottom line is this,” he said at the start of a press conference. “Our objective is clear and that is to degrade and destroy [ISIS] so it is no longer a threat not just to Iraq but also the region and to the United States.”

But minutes later, he seemed to recast the goal more locally.

“Our objective is to make sure they aren’t an ongoing threat to the region,” he said. “As we’ve seen with al-Qaeda, there are always going to be remnants that can cause havoc of any of these networks, in part because of the nature of terrorist activities. You get a few individuals, and they may be able to carry out a terrorist act.”

Then, in a third formulation, he said he hoped to “shrink [ISIS's] sphere of influence, its effectiveness, its military capability to the point where it is a manageable problem.”

In place of answers on these most knotty challenges, Obama repeated the idealistic formulations of human progress that have long been his trademark on the international stage.

“The currents of history ebb and flow. But over time, they flow toward freedom,” he said. “Freedom will win, not because it’s inevitable, not because it is ordained, but because these basic human yearnings for dignity and justice and democracy do not go away.”

TIME Education

See the First Day of School for Students Around the World

Sharpen your pencils, TIME looks at the first day of school from the U.S. to Ukraine

TIME Infectious Disease

American Ebola Survivor ‘Not Worried’ About Stigma

Dr. Kent Brantly speaks during a press conference announcing his release from Emory Hospital on Aug. 21, 2014 in Atlanta.
Dr. Kent Brantly speaks during a press conference announcing his release from Emory Hospital on Aug. 21, 2014 in Atlanta. Jessica McGowan—Getty Images

"I'm not worried about that. It may happen"

Dr. Kent Brantly, the doctor infected with Ebola while working in West Africa, says despite his clean bill of health, he’s aware that the virus’ stigma remains with him.

“You know, I’m not worried about that. It may happen,” Brantly told TODAY’s Matt Lauer…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

 

TIME Military

Why the U.S. Won’t Buckle Under ISIS Pressure

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Kurdish fighters inspect an ISIS vehicle, bearing a jihadist flag, after it was hit by a U.S. air strike in northern Iraq last month. Ahmad Al-Rubaye—AFP/Getty Images

The murder of two journalists only highlights the terrorists’ weakness

In the clash between Islamic militants and the West, Steven J. Sotloff was an innocent player caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. But the shock of Sotloff’s murder, announced Tuesday in a video released by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), only serves to highlight the weakness of those who killed him.

It’s a classic case of what the Pentagon calls asymmetric warfare—where one side in the fight is so outgunned that it resorts to unorthodox—and sometimes inhuman—tactics to try to even the odds, scrambling the rules of war that have guided nations for centuries.

Over the past month, the U.S. military has launched more than 100 air strikes against ISIS targets in northern Iraq. While U.S. officials have publicly justified the attacks on humanitarian grounds—as well as protecting U.S. interests—they also have obliterated dozens of ISIS vehicles and checkpoints, and those manning them.

There is no way ISIS can counter U.S. air strikes. It has no air force and apparently has few, if any, anti-aircraft weapons. Its ground forces, once identified, are easy targets for American laser- and GPS-guided bombs and missiles.

Unable to thwart the attacks, ISIS has tried to derail them by murdering a pair of journalists it was holding in captivity. The first, James Foley, a freelance reporter for the GlobalPost website, was allegedly killed by a black-clad man speaking with an English accent in a video released Aug. 19. ISIS released a second video 14 days later, purportedly showing the same man murdering Sotloff, who had freelanced for Time.

War, at least between states, is guided by international law, which prohibits intentionally killing innocent civilians. But non-state actors have long been willing to resort to terrorism and murder to make their points. The masked man who killed Sotloff used a knife, but the video was the real weapon—a broadcast attempt to overcome impotence on the battlefield. “I’m back, Obama, and I’m back because of your arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic State, because of your insistence on continuing your bombings and in Amerli, Zumar and the Mosul Dam, despite our serious warnings,” the man said.

Because ISIS can’t stop the bombing by matching U.S. weaponry, it is trying to stop it by horrifying the American public in hopes they will compel President Obama to stop. That hope shows how little ISIS understands the American body politic: there is no indication the killings have put political pressure on Obama to slow his attacks on ISIS—if anything, the killings have increased support for the bombings.

Speaking to reporters in Estonia on Wednesday, Obama said, “Whatever these murderers think they’ll achieve by killing innocent Americans like Steven, they have already failed. They have failed because, like people around the world, Americans are repulsed by their barbarism. We will not be intimidated. Their horrific acts only unite us as a country and stiffen our resolve to take the fight against these terrorists.”

That said, horror isn’t the only way to win an asymmetric war: sometimes the points non-state actors want to make are as much political as military, and through their patience and resolve they can prevail over stronger foes.

“We’ve been going after terrorist networks in that part of the world for more than a decade, with very good success,” Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, said Tuesday. “The real measure of success is that their ideology is ultimately defeated, and the only way that’s going to be done is through good governance. And we’ve said that time and again, but I think it’s worth repeating. There’s not going to be a military solution to this.”

But there too ISIS is showing weakness. Its rampaging militants have stormed towns and cities across much of Syria and Iraq, slaughtering civilians as they go and imposing the harshest form of religious law on territory they control. In more than a few places, the U.S. military intervention has not only hurt ISIS it has won support from their beleaguered victims.

In the latest recorded murder, the man threatened to kill another captive if the American bombings continue. “Just as your missiles continue to strike our people, our knife will continue to strike the necks of your people,” the man said. But ISIS is beginning to run out of hostages. The U.S. will never run out of missiles. And if ISIS continues its brutal tactics on the ground in Iraq, soon enough it will run out of local supporters, too.

TIME Foreign Policy

Obama: ‘Justice Will Be Served’ on ISIS for U.S. Journalist’s Killing

US President Barack Obama in Estonia to discuss security in Baltics
US President Barack Obama speaks during a joint news confernce with Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves (unseen) following their meeting in Tallinn, Estonia, Sept. 3, 2014. Valda Kalnina—EPA

The President's comments come as U.S. officials confirm that a video showing the beheading of U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff by ISIS militants is authentic

President Barack Obama vowed Wednesday the U.S. will bring to justice the Islamist militant group that executed a second American journalist on camera this week.

“We will not be intimidated” by the killing of journalist Steven Sotloff, he said, while speaking to reporters in Estonia. “Those who make the mistake of harming Americans will learn that we will not forget and that our reach is long and that justice will be served.”

The extremist group released a graphic video that showed the brutal execution of Sotloff, just two weeks after a similar video surfaced and depicted the execution of James Foley, another American freelancer who had been missing in Syria.

In a statement on Wednesday, National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said the U.S. intelligence community had analyzed the footage and “reached the judgment that it is authentic.”

But Obama offered a muddled vision for taking on the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), first saying the U.S. objective is to “degrade and destroy” the group, before saying his strategy is to contain the threat, rather than seeking to eliminate the group entirely.

“Our objective is clear, and that is to degrade and destroy [ISIS] so that it’s no longer a threat not just to Iraq but also the region and to the United States,” Obama said.

But moments later the president said wiping out the extremist group, which has taken over large swaths of Iraq and Syria, is not an achievable goal, but that the U.S. can still mitigate the threat it poses. “Our objective is to make sure that [ISIS] is not an ongoing threat to the region,” Obama said. “And we can accomplish that.”

The commander-in-chief added that it was unrealistic to expect that the entire organization can be dismantled. “As we’ve seen with al-Qaeda, there are always going to be remnants that can cause havoc,” he said.

Seeking to clean up much-criticized comments last week that he had “no strategy” in place for tackling ISIS, Obama said he was “specifically referring” to civil war-torn Syria and not Iraq. “What we have seen is the strategy that we’ve laid out moving effectively,” he explained of his administration’s efforts in Iraq, where U.S. forces have conducted 124 airstrikes and more than 1,000 American ground troops are protecting U.S. diplomatic facilities and advising Iraqi and Kurdish troops.

Even so, Obama cautioned that the campaign against ISIS will take time. “This is not going to be a one-week or a one-month or a six-month proposition,” he said.

Warning that “threats evolve,” Obama emphasized the need for a regional and global effort to take on the extremist group, noting he has tasked key aides with building an international coalition to that end.

With international help, Obama said, it’s possible to shrink ISIS “to the point where it’s a manageable problem.”

TIME Ukraine

Obama Says It’s ‘Too Early to Tell’ What the Ukraine Ceasefire Means

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US President Barack Obama and the Estonian President (not in picture) review an honor guard during an arrival ceremony prior to meetings at the Kadriorg Palace in Tallinn, Estonia on Sept. 3, 2014. SAUL LOEB—AFP/Getty Images

News of the truce broke shortly after the president's arrival in Estonia

President Barack Obama has adopted a cautious approach to the ceasefire announced Wednesday between Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“It’s too early to tell what this cease-fire means,” said Obama, explaining that he had not seen full details but “only wire reports.”

News of the ceasefire broke shortly after Obama’s arrival in Estonia, where he is showing support to a Baltic ally before traveling to a crucial NATO summit in the U.K. at which the Ukrainian situation feature high on the agenda.

Obama promised to address the Ukrainian ceasefire more fully during a speech later in the day. In the meantime, he noted that Russia’s forceful incursion into Ukraine served as a stark reminder of the importance of the NATO alliance.

“Obviously what’s happened in Ukraine is tragic but I do think it gives us an opportunity to look with fresh eyes and understand what it is that’s necessary to make sure that our NATO commitments are met. And that’s one of the reasons I’m here in Estonia today.”

Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves said “I just did hear that President Poroshenko and President Putin have agreed on a ceasefire. I just hope it holds.”

Speaking ahead of Obama’s arrival, at a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the withdrawal of Russian troops from Estonia, Ilves said that the situation in Ukraine showed “that the principle of collective territorial defense hasn’t gone away,” according to the AP.

His remarks came a day after Mikhail Popov, a Kremlin security adviser, stated in Moscow that NATO remained Russia’s biggest threat.

TIME Pakistan

Pakistan MPs Back PM Sharif as Protest Leaders Agree to Open Dialogue

Tahir-ul-Qadri and Imran Khan attend anti-government protests in Islamabad
Pakistani cricketer turned politician Imran Khan, leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, addresses his supporters during antigovernment protests near the Prime Minister's residence in Islamabad on Sept. 2, 2014 Mian Khursheed—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

More than two weeks of sometimes bloody antigovernment protests have quelled somewhat over the past few days

Members of Pakistan’s Parliament, representing several different political parties that don’t always see eye to eye, came together to express support for embattled Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a joint session convened on Tuesday.

The session, which the Prime Minister’s Office reportedly said would continue until the end of the week, comes after more than two weeks of protests championed by former national cricket captain Imran Khan and firebrand cleric Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri that have convulsed the capital, Islamabad.

Khan and Qadri allege that the country’s historic 2013 election was rigged, and say they will not back down until the Sharif resigns. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar called the ongoing protests a “rebellion against Pakistan,” reports Reuters.

Senator Aitzaz Ahsan, the leader of the opposition Pakistan People’s Party, said the entire legislature was behind Sharif.

The movement turned violent over the weekend as protesters clashed with police and took over a television station, prompting the army to briefly step in and restore order. Three people were killed and around 400 injured.

But the nation’s capital has been peaceful since Tuesday, with both sides reaching an impasse of sorts. Local news outlet Dawn reported that protesters camped in the “red zone” in front of the Pakistani Secretariat building prevented government officials from entering their offices. However, the parking lot was reportedly cleared of protesters Wednesday morning in order for the joint session of Parliament to resume.

Khan and members of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party also agreed to engage in an “open dialogue” with a group of opposition leaders.

Earlier in the day, Qadri reiterated the demonstrators’ denial that they were taking orders from Pakistan’s powerful generals. “Anyone who says the army is behind us is wrong,” he said.

Hassan Abbas, a professor at National Defense University and author of The Taliban Revival, says the army’s influence is blown out of proportion. “The army is sympathetic to Khan and has certainly some influence over the party, but to argue that Khan is being run by the military sounds to me as an exaggerated assessment,” he tells TIME.

And while Abbas says the protesters have some legitimate demands, their methods fall “outside what is permissible under the law of the land.”

Sharif has not yet addressed Parliament, but reports say he may do so before the session concludes this week.

TIME Afghanistan

Afghan Militants May Join ISIS Says Their Commander

The link-up could pose a renewed threat to an already fragile Afghanistan

An Afghanistan-based militant group with links to the Taliban is considering aligning itself with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the BBC reports.

Commander Mirwais of the Hezb-e-Islami, a group notorious for its brutality, called ISIS fighters “great mujahideen,” and told the BBC his group was waiting to see if ISIS met the requirements for a true Islamic caliphate. “We pray for them,” he said, “and if we don’t see a problem in the way they operate, we will join them.”

Hezb-e-Islami, along with the rest of the Taliban and its allies, are in conflict with an Afghan government in the midst of a leadership crisis. A winner of the recent presidential election has yet to be named, as the voting is being audited.

Mirwais said the current government was weak and had no control in rural areas, adding that the group will “continue to fight until we establish an Islamic state.”

Kabul-based politician and intelligence expert Amrullah Saleh told the BBC that politics and society in Afghanistan had changed too much for the Taliban to retake power. But a link-up between Afghan insurgents and extremist ISIS fighters could pose a renewed threat.

[BBC]

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