TIME Sri Lanka

This Man Survived a Tumble Off a 4,000 ft. High Cliff in Sri Lanka

Lucky isn't the word

A man miraculously survived a tumble off the 4,000 foot “World’s End” cliff in Sri Lanka on Saturday when his fall was broken by a tree.

Dutch honeymooner Mamitho Lendas, 35, said he fell over the edge when trying to take pictures of his new wife. He landed in vegetation growing out of the cliff face, after falling for about 130 ft.

“I fell down backwards two times, and then I sit in bushes for like three-and-a-half hours. The longest three-and-a-half hours of my life,” he told a group of reporters.

Soldiers used ropes to stabilize Lendas and lift him to safety. They then carried him for three miles before he could be driven to the hospital, where he was found to have no major injuries, AFP reports.

The World’s End cliff is one of Sri Lanka’s top tourist attractions.

In 2011, an Australian tourist named Christopher Pilther died after he fell off of the cliff, also while trying to take photographs.

TIME Ukraine

Ukraine’s Maidan Protests Anniversary Met With Bombs, Fresh Fighting

APTOPIX Ukraine
Sergei Chuzavkov—AP People march in downtown Kiev on Feb. 22, 2015, to commemorate last year's Maidan protest that toppled the country's pro-Kremlin government

A bombing in Kharkiv raises new questions about the fragile cease-fire hammered out earlier this month

Violence erupted in eastern Ukraine’s largest city on Sunday, as thousands across the country commemorated the anniversary of the popular uprising that toppled the pro-Kremlin administration, sparking a separatist revolt that so far has claimed more than 5,000 lives.

In Kharkiv, a northeastern city of some 1.5 million people, a bomb exploded as some 500 pro-Ukraine demonstrators marched through the city. Representatives from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe confirmed that the blast killed two people, while 11 were injured.

Ukrainian officials have taken four suspects into custody in connection with the attack, according to Reuters.

Another explosive device was discovered inside a shopping bag in the Black Sea city of Odessa on Sunday, though it was defused before it could detonate.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko described the bombings campaign as a terrorist attack designed “to spread panic and fear.”

“They are trying to make us afraid,” he said in a statement.

Earlier on Sunday, Poroshenko marched with the Presidents of Poland, Lithuania and Georgia, along with tens of thousands of ordinary Ukrainians, through the streets of Kiev to honor the Maidan protests, which culminated with the ousting of his predecessor Viktor Yanukovych one year ago.

In the separatist stronghold of Donetsk, a rebel spokesman said militants had begun pulling back their heavy weaponry from the front in accordance with the truce, according to the New York Times.

Over the weekend, the two adversaries successfully exchanged almost 200 prisoners of war, including 139 Ukrainian soldiers and 52 rebels, reports the BBC.

Nevertheless, the Kharkiv blast and reports that Ukrainian troops had held off a rebel offensive near the village of Shyrokyne continue to cast doubts over the staying power of a cease-fire signed in Belarus earlier this month.

TIME Australia

Australian Leader Outlines Tough New Anti-Terrorism Measures

Prime Minister Tony Abbott Announces Changes In National Security Speech
Stefan Postles—Getty Images Prime Minister Tony Abbott during his speech on National Security at the Australian Federal Police headquarters on February 23, 2015 in Canberra, Australia.

Abbott decried the spread of Islamic extremism in Syria and Iraq as a “new dark age”

Australians who hold dual nationality and flout antiterrorism laws will have their citizenship suspended or revoked, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced Monday during an address on national security.

Even those born in Australia could have citizenship privileges taken away if they are involved in terrorism, reports the BBC.

“These [measures] could include restricting the ability to leave or return to Australia, and access to consular services overseas, as well as access to welfare payments,” Abbott said at the federal police headquarters in the capital, Canberra.

The 57-year-old Premier stressed that the new legislation would also target preachers who incite religious or racial hatred.

“By any measure, the threat to Australia is worsening,” he added, calling the spread of Islamic extremism over Syria and Iraq a “new dark age.”

Abbott said that many of his compatriots were becoming radicalized and lured into the “death cult” of terrorist groups. About 90 Australian nationals are believed to have traveled abroad to fight with the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).

During his speech, Abbott also announced the appointment of a new counterterrorism chief and seven new financial analysts to crack down on terrorist financing.

The move comes in the wake of the Sydney siege, during which a lone gunman, Man Haron Monis, held 18 people hostage at a café in the city center. Three people including Monis, who had pledged fealty to ISIS, died at the scene.

TIME Bangladesh

Death Toll Rises to at Least 68 in Bangladesh Ferry Disaster

Bangladeshi rescue workers carry the body of one of the victims in Manikganj district, about 25 miles northwest of Dhaka, Bangladesh, Feb. 22, 2015
A.M. Ahad—AP Bangladeshi rescue workers carry the body of one of the victims in Manikganj district, northwest of Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Feb. 22, 2015

It's not clear how many passengers are missing

(DHAKA, Bangladesh) — The death toll from a weekend ferry disaster in central Bangladesh rose to 68 as divers searched for bodies Monday in the latest mishap in the South Asian nation.

Up to 140 passengers were thought to be on the river ferry when it capsized Sunday afternoon after being hit by a cargo vessel.

The accident happened on the Padma River about 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of Dhaka, the capital. Ferry accidents are common in Bangladesh, which is crisscrossed by more than 130 rivers.

The ferry, the M.L. Mosta, was 6 meters (20 feet) under water, said Inspector Zihad Mia, who is overseeing the rescue operation.

On Monday, a salvage ship was engaged to recover the ferry, Mia said.

Rescuers recovered 48 bodies on Sunday, and by Monday morning another 20 bodies had been found, according to a police control room at the scene.

Mia said officials had yet to determine how many passengers were missing. Ferries in Bangladesh usually do not maintain formal passenger lists.

“We don’t have a clear picture about how many were exactly on the ferry when it sank,” Mia said. “But I think many have survived.”

Jewel Mia, an official from the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority, told reporters at the scene that up to 140 people were on board when the ferry sank.

By Monday morning, police had handed over 50 bodies to their families, said local police chief Mohammaed Rakibuzzman. At least eight were children, he said.

A passenger who survived said many people were trapped inside the ferry when it sank. “The passengers who were on the deck survived, but many who were inside were trapped,” Hafizur Rahman Sheikh was quoted as saying by the Prothom Alo newspaper.

Sheikh said the cargo vessel hit the middle of the ferry.

A Ministry of Shipping statement said an investigation had been ordered.

The Padma is one of the largest rivers in Bangladesh, where overcrowding and poor safety standards are often blamed for ferry disasters.

Last August, a ferry with a capacity of 85 passengers was found to be carrying more than 200 when it capsized on the Padma near Dhaka, leaving more than 100 people dead or missing. The ferry’s owner was arrested after weeks in hiding on charges of culpable homicide, unauthorized operation and overloading.

At least five people die earlier this month when a ferry sank in southern Bangladesh.

TIME Military

The Pentagon Spills the Beans: Stupidity, or Strategy?

Dozens of ISIL militants killed in Iraq's Mosul
Emrah Yorulmaz / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images ISIS members set fire to tires Sunday to mask their escape after clashing with Kurdish peshmerga forces outside Mosul.

Lawmakers pounce on disclosures, which have been known for months

Back on Dec. 10, lawmakers wanted to know how many Iraqi troops would be needed to drive the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) from Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city. Brett McGurk, the State Department’s special presidential envoy for defeating the militant group, said a force of 20,000 to 25,000 would be a “reasonable” estimate of its size.

Spring was the goal for the timing of the counteroffensive, assuming the Iraqi army and their Kurdish peshmerga allies had enough troops and training by then. That timetable was a target freely, if privately, expressed by Pentagon officials since late last year, and surfaced in numerous press reports.

So why did a pair of influential Republican senators explode when they heard that an anonymous Pentagon official had relayed those same two key facts to reporters during a background briefing last Thursday?

“Never in our memory can we recall an instance in which our military has knowingly briefed our own war plans to our enemies,” John McCain of Arizona, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, also a member of the panel, wrote President Barack Obama on Friday. “These disclosures not only risk the success of our mission, but could also cost the lives of U.S., Iraqi, and coalition forces.”

Graham has served as an Air Force lawyer, so perhaps he can be forgiven for hyperbole. McCain, a onetime Navy pilot shot down over Vietnam and held as a prisoner for more than five years, surely knows better. There is only one way to take an enemy-held city: surround it with overwhelming force, and then attack it until the foe buckles, or choke it until he starves.

Everyone paying attention, on both sides of the fight against ISIS, has known for months that the battle for Mosul is going to be the climactic clash. “Certainly, ISIS knows that Mosul is the center piece of any counteroffensive,” Jack Keane, a retired four-star Army general, told Fox News on Sunday. “They know that. We’ve been knocking off lines of communications and isolating Mosul now for weeks, with air power, too. They know we would like to do that probably before Ramadan or do it after. So, timing is something that they can figure out themselves.”

Both sides also know that it’s better to launch a counteroffensive sooner rather than later, thereby limiting the defenses ISIS can dig and build, which narrows the timeframe down to the spring.

The U.S. military knows that it cannot support its Iraqi allies in that fight without being confident they will prevail. Their training and outfitting will take at least several more weeks. The arrival of the Muslim holiday of Ramadan (June 17) and summer (June 21), pretty much shuts the window on the operation about that time, Pentagon officials say, citing religious sensitivities and heat. By default, that leaves the April-May timeframe cited by the Pentagon briefer Thursday as the soonest the counteroffensive to retake Mosul could be launched if it is to be attempted before fall.

The official from the U.S. Central Command, which oversees U.S. forces in Iraq, heavily caveated the timing of the Mosul operation in his telephone Q&A with Pentagon reporters from Centcom headquarters in Tampa. “The mark on the wall that we are still shooting for is the April-May timeframe,” he said, implying the timing wasn’t new and wasn’t secret. Beyond that, he said more than once, the U.S. and its allies would delay the assault if the Iraqi forces are “not ready, if the conditions are not set, if all the equipment that they need is not physically there.”

The fact is, the U.S. has routinely telegraphed offensive operations before launching them. There was a flurry of stories detailing the “shock and awe” bombardment that would open the 2003 invasion of Iraq before it began. “If asked to go into conflict in Iraq, what you’d like to do is have it be a short conflict,” Air Force General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in response to a question from TIME at a breakfast two weeks before it started. “The best way to do that would be to have such a shock on the system that the Iraqi regime would have to assume early on the end was inevitable.”

The U.S. military also offered previews of coming destruction before the battle for Fallujah in Iraq in 2004, and in advance of the offensive against the Taliban in Marjah, Afghanistan, in 2010.

Leaking word of such attacks in advance, Pentagon officials say, can convince enemy fighters to abandon the fight. But they concede it can also stiffen the backbone of others. Such a tactic can also encourage the non-ISIS population in Mosul to rebel against the occupiers.

So just how many Iraqi troops will retaking Mosul require? “We think it’s going to take in the range between 20,000 and 25,000,” the Central Command official said Thursday. He wasn’t risking the success of the eventual mission. He was simply echoing what McGurk told Congress more than two months ago.

TIME Ukraine

McCain ‘Ashamed’ of How U.S. Has Handled Ukraine Conflict

John McCain
Win McNamee—Getty Images Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) speaks during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on the conflict in Ukraine, Feb. 5, 2015 in Washington, DC.

"It is really, really heartbreaking"

Senator John McCain said in an interview Sunday that the United States and its allies haven’t done enough to stop the bloodshed in eastern Ukraine, where government forces and Russia-backed separatists locked in battle claim a cease-fire agreement has been violated and remains fragile.

“I’m ashamed of my country, I’m ashamed of my President and I’m ashamed of myself that I haven’t done more to help these people,” he told CBS’ Face the Nation. “It is really, really heartbreaking.” The United Nations conservatively estimates more than 5,300 people have been killed in the war since April.

PHOTOS: Scenes From Eastern Ukraine Show Cease-Fire in Shreds

McCain is in the camp that thinks the U.S. should send lethal weapons to Ukraine’s military, but President Barack Obama hasn’t made a decision yet. “The Ukrainians aren’t asking for American boots on the ground; that’s not the question here,” he said. “They’re asking for weapons to defend themselves, and they are being slaughtered and their military is being shattered.” Ukrainian forces fought their way out of the strategic rail hub of Debaltseve last week, suffering a brutal and bloody defeat.

The Arizona senator also made a quick dig against German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande, who recently helped broker the cease-fire deal in Minsk. The two have “legitimized for the first time in 70 years the dismemberment of a country in Europe,” he said. McCain later added that Russian President Vladimir Putin “wants Ukraine not to be a part of Europe and he is succeeding at doing so.”

[CBS]

Read next: Ukraine’s Maidan Protests Anniversary Met With Bombs, Fresh Fighting

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Tibet

See the Dalai Lama’s Life in Pictures

He has made a life out of advocating for peace and understanding

The Dalai Lama was enthroned 75 years ago on Feb. 22, 1940, at the age of 4. Since then, he’s been a strong advocate for tolerance; in 1989, he won a Nobel Peace Prize for his advocacy efforts for an independent Tibet. Here’s a look back at his life in photos, from before his young enthronement to his appearance at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., earlier this month.

Read next: Exclusive: The Dalai Lama Talks Pot, Facebook and the Pope With TIME

TIME National Security

Homeland Security Chief Warns Mall of America Shoppers After Threat

BLOOMINGTON, MN - JULY 16: (FEATURE STORY ON THE MALL OF AMERICA, 11 OF 15) A large sign hangs above an entrance to the Mall of America July 16, 2002 in Bloomington, Minnesota. The Mall of America is the largest shopping mall in the United States, seeing between 35 and 42 million visitors each year and employing more than 12,000 people. Approximately 520 stores occupy the mall's 4.2 million square feet. The Mall of America will celebrate its 10th anniversary this August. (Photo by Mark Erickson/Getty Images)
Mark Erickson—Getty Images

FBI says there is "no indication" of any specific threat

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson warned visitors to the Mall of America on Sunday to remain vigilant after the massive shopping center near Minneapolis was singled out for attacks in a new video posted by an Islamist extremist group.

Somalia-based al-Shabab, which claimed responsibility for the deadly siege at the Westgate shopping center in Nairobi in 2013, called for terrorist attacks against malls in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada.

“If anyone is planning to go to the Mall of America today, they’ve got to be particularly careful,” Johnson said on CNN’s State of the Union. “There will be enhanced security there, but public vigilance, public awareness and public caution in situations like this is particularly important.”

FBI spokesman Rich Quinn said “there is no indication of any specific, real threat” against American malls. Still, Tanya Bradsher, assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Homeland Security, aimed to clarify Johnson’s remarks: “Sec. Johnson didn’t say that they should not go to the mall, he told shoppers to be extra vigilant and that security was increased.”

[CNN]

 

TIME Government

Kayla Mueller’s Father Says U.S. ‘Put Policy in Front of American Citizens’ Lives’

ISIS claims the 26-year-old hostage died in a recent air strike

Slain ISIS hostage Kayla Mueller’s father has accused the Obama administration of putting its policy of not paying ransoms “in front of American citizens’ lives.”

In an exclusive interview with TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie, Carl Mueller said he had mixed feelings about the government’s refusal to negotiate with terrorist groups who kidnapped foreigners. Other Western countries are known to have paid millions to secure the release of their nationals.

“We understand the policy about not paying ransom,” he said. “But on the other hand, any parents out there would understand that you would want anything and everything done to bring your child home…”

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

TIME Yemen

Former Yemen President Flees Capital After Rebels Let Him Go

Houthi fighters ride a patrol vehicle outside a hotel hosting U.N.-sponsored negotiations on a political settlement for Yemen's crisis in Sanaa, Feb. 19, 2015.
Khaled Abdullah—Reuters Houthi fighters ride a patrol vehicle outside a hotel hosting U.N.-sponsored negotiations on a political settlement for Yemen's crisis in Sanaa, Feb. 19, 2015.

Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi had been under house arrest for several weeks

(SANAA, Yemen) — Yemen’s former president left the capital after Shiite rebels who surrounded his house let him go under international and local pressure, aides close to him said Saturday.

The aides said former President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi left Sanaa and later arrived in Aden. They say Hadi later plans to leave the country to receive medical treatment.

Hadi has been under house arrest for several weeks following a coup by Shiite Houthi rebels. The rebels earlier captured the capital, Sanaa, in September.

The aides say the rebels let Hadi go after pressure from the United Nations, the U.S., Russia and local political parties.

The aides spoke on condition of anonymity as they weren’t authorized to speak to journalists.

Witnesses said Houthis and others in the area later ransacked Hadi’s house and at least three people were seen each taking out a Kalashnikov assault rifle from the house.

Jamal Benomar, the U.N. envoy to Yemen, said Friday that rival factions, including the Houthis, have agreed on a new legislative body consisting of former and new lawmakers to serve during the country’s upcoming transition period.

But a coalition of Yemeni parties voiced objections to the plan, describing it as an insufficient half-solution.

Ahmed Lakaz, spokesman of the Unionist Gathering Party, which is taking part in the dialogue, said the parties told the Houthis that they would be out of the process if Hadi was not freed.

Yemen has been locked in a political crisis since the Houthi rebels took over the capital and eventually forced the resignation of the elected Western-backed president and dissolved the parliament while keeping Hadi under house arrest.

The political crisis cast also doubts on the United States’ ability to continue its counter-terrorism operations, especially with loss of Hadi, a strong U.S. ally.

However, the U.S. has continued to target al-Qaida’s branch in Yemen, known as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, with drone strikes. Tribal sources said Friday that two suspected al-Qaida members were killed in a drone strike in the southern province of Shabwa.

Meanwhile Saturday, Houthis tried to storm a special forces base outside the capital, exchanging fire with troops there, most of whom are loyal to Hadi’s predecessor, Ali Abdullah Saleh. The fighting killed three people, security officials said.

Saleh’s aides say he considers the base key to his survival and would never allow it to fall under Houthi control, unlike most of Sanaa’s other military installations, which are already in the rebels’ hands. Those aides spoke on condition of anonymity as Saleh had not authorized them to speak to reporters.

Thousands also marched Saturday in support of Hadi in southern Ibb province, where they urged the Houthis to leave the region and halt their interference in local affairs. Houthis opened fire, killing one demonstrator and wounding two, said security officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity as they weren’t authorized to talk to journalists.

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