TIME Vatican

Pope Calls Palestinian Leader an ‘Angel of Peace’

Pope Francis meets Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas during an audience at the Vatican on May 16, 2015.
Alberto Pizzoli—AP Pope Francis meets Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas during an audience at the Vatican on May 16, 2015.

Pope Francis also gave Mahmoud Abbas a gift during their visit

(VATICAN CITY)—Pope Francis praised Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as an “angel of peace” during a meeting Saturday at the Vatican that underscored the Holy See’s warm relations with the Palestinians as it prepares to canonize two 19th-century nuns from the region.

Francis made the compliment during the traditional exchange of gifts at the end of an official audience in the Apostolic Palace. He presented Abbas with a medallion and explained that it represented the “angel of peace destroying the bad spirit of war.”

Francis said he thought the gift was appropriate since “you are an angel of peace.” During his 2014 visit to Israel and the West Bank, Francis called both Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres men of peace.

Abbas is in Rome for the canonization Sunday of two 19th-century nuns from what was then Ottoman-ruled Palestine. The new saints, Mariam Bawardy and Marie Alphonsine Ghattas, are the first from the region to be canonized since the early days of Christianity.

Church officials are holding up the new saints as a sign of hope and encouragement for Christians in the Middle East at a time when violent persecution from Islamic extremists has driven many Christians from the region of Christ’s birth.

In a statement Saturday, Abbas praised the two new saints as inspirational models for today’s Palestinians and urged Christians like them to remain in the region.

“We call on Palestinian Christians to stay with us and enjoy the rights of full and equal citizenship, and bear with us the difficulties of life until we achieve liberty, sovereignty and human dignity,” he said.

Abbas’ visit comes days after the Vatican finalized a bilateral treaty with the “state of Palestine” that made explicit its recognition of Palestinian statehood.

The Vatican said it had expressed “great satisfaction” over the new treaty during the talks with the Palestinian delegation. It said the pope, and later the Vatican secretary of state, also expressed hopes that direct peace talks with Israel would resume.

“To this end, the wish was reiterated that with the support of the international community, Israelis and Palestinians may take with determination courageous decisions to promote peace,” a Vatican statement said.

It added that interreligious dialogue was needed to combat terrorism.

TIME Nepal

All 8 Bodies Recovered From Crashed U.S. Marine Helicopter in Nepal

Nepalese soldiers prepare to leave for a rescue mission to the site where the suspected wreckage of a U.S. Marine helicopter was found, in Kathmandu
Niranjan Shrestha—AP Nepalese soldiers prepare to leave for a rescue mission to the site where the suspected wreckage of a U.S. Marine helicopter was found, in Kathmandu, on May 15, 2015.

The aircraft, with six Marines and two Nepalese soldiers on board, went missing while delivering aid on Tuesday

(KATHMANDU, Nepal)—The bodies of six Marines and two Nepalese soldiers who were aboard a U.S. Marine helicopter that crashed during a relief mission in earthquake-hit Nepal have been recovered, Nepal’s army said.

The wreckage of the UH-1 “Huey” was found Friday following days of intense searching in the mountains northeast of capital Kathmandu. The first three charred bodies were retrieved the same day by Nepalese and U.S. military teams, and the rest on Saturday, the Nepalese army said in a statement .

The aircraft went missing while delivering aid on Tuesday.

Lt. Gen. John Wissler, commander of the Marine-led joint task force, said in Kathmandu on Friday that his team could not immediately determine the cause of the crash or identify the bodies found.

He described the crash as “severe,” and said the recovery team at the site encountered extreme weather and difficult terrain.

The wreckage was located about 24 kilometers (15 miles) from the town of Charikot, near where the aircraft went missing while delivering humanitarian aid to villages hit by two deadly earthquakes.

The area is near Gothali village in the district of Dolakha, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) northeast of Kathmandu.

The U.S. relief mission was deployed soon after a magnitude-7.8 quake hit April 25, killing more than 8,200 people. It was followed by a magnitude-7.3 quake on Tuesday that killed at least 117 people and injured around 2,800.

The helicopter had been delivering rice and tarps in Charikot, the area worst hit by Tuesday’s quake. It had dropped off supplies in one location and was en route to a second site when contact was lost.

U.S. military officials said earlier in the week that an Indian helicopter in the air nearby had heard radio chatter from the Huey aircraft about a possible fuel problem.

In Wichita, Kansas, Marine officials on Saturday notified the parents of the helicopter’s 31-year-old-pilot, Capt. Chris Norgren, that he was among those killed in the crash, a local high school president, Leticia Nielsen, told The Wichita Eagle newspaper.

A total of 300 U.S. military personnel have been supporting the aid mission in Nepal.

On Saturday, Elhadj As Sy, secretary-general of the International Federation of Red Cross, said an appeal had been made for $93 million to help some 700,000 earthquake survivors over the next two years.

The U.N. General Assembly also called for urgent assistance to help Nepal’s earthquake survivors and to rebuild the impoverished Himalayan nation, urging the international community to support the U.N.’s appeal for $415 million for essential needs over the next three months.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the assembly that it is urgent to get aid to all those in need before the monsoon season starts in June.

TIME Syria

U.S. Kills Senior ISIS Commander in Syria Raid

U.S. commandos also captured the ISIS leader's wife

(BEIRUT)—In a rare ground attack deep into Syria, U.S. Army commandos killed a man described as the Islamic State’s head of oil operations, captured his wife and rescued a woman whom American officials said was enslaved.

A team of Delta Force commandos slipped across the border from Iraq under cover of darkness Saturday aboard Black Hawk helicopters and V-22 Osprey aircraft, according to a U.S. defense official knowledgeable about details of the raid. The official was not authorized to discuss the operation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Americans intended to capture a militant identified by U.S. officials as Abu Sayyaf. When they arrived at his location, a multi-story building, they met stiff resistance, the U.S. official said, and a firefight ensued, resulting in bullet-hole damage to the U.S. aircraft.

Abu Sayyaf was killed, along with an estimated dozen IS fighters, U.S. officials said. No American was killed or wounded.

Before the sun had risen, the commandos flew back to Iraq where Abu Sayyaf’s wife, Umm Sayyaf, was being questioned in U.S. custody, officials said. The goal was to gain intelligence about IS operations and any information about hostages, including American citizens, who were held by the group, according to Bernadette Meehan, spokeswoman for the U.S. National Security Council.

Abu Sayyaf was described by one official as the IS “emir of oil and gas,” although he also was targeted for his known association with the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

U.S. officials said it was likely, given Abu Sayyaf’s position, that he knew about more than just the financial side of the group’s operations.

Despite the U.S. claims, much about the IS figure was in question. The name Abu Sayyaf has rarely been mentioned in Western reports about the extremist group and he is not known to be among terrorists for whom the U.S. has offered a bounty. The name was not known to counterterrorism officials who study IS and does not appear in reports compiled by think tanks and others examining the group’s hierarchy.

The U.S. official said Abu Sayyaf’s death probably has temporarily halted IS oil-revenue operations, critical to the group’s ability to carry out military operations in Syria and Iraq and to govern the population centers it controls.

But U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, cautioned against exaggerating the long-term gain from killing Abu Sayyaf.

He said IS, like al-Qaida, “has proven adept at replacing its commanders and we will need to keep up the pressure on its leadership and financing.”

A U.S. Treasury official told Congress in October that IS militants were earning about $1 million a day from black market oil sales alone, and getting several million dollars a month from wealthy donors, extortion rackets and other criminal activities, such as robbing banks. Kidnappings were another large source of cash.

U.S. airstrikes in Syria since September have frequently targeted IS oil-collection facilities in an effort to undermine the group’s finances.

IS controls much of northern and eastern Syria as well as northern and western Iraq, despite months of U.S. and coalition airstrikes and efforts by the U.S.-backed Iraqi army to retake territory. IS holds most of the oil fields in Syria and has declared a caliphate governed by a harsh version of Islamic law.

Also Saturday, activists said IS fighters pushed into the Syrian town of Palmyra, home to famed 2,000-year-old ruins.

The U.S. Army raid occurred one day after the U.S.-led campaign to roll back IS gains in Iraq suffered a significant setback in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province. IS fighters are reported to have captured a key government building in Ramadi and have established control over a substantial portion of the city, officials have said.

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, in a written statement Saturday praising the raid into Syria, said he was “gravely concerned” by the IS assault on Ramadi and that it threatened the stability and sovereignty of Iraq.

IS has made major inroads at Iraq’s Beiji oil refinery complex in recent days. Reports vary, but U.S. officials have said IS is largely in control of the refinery, as well as the nearby town of Beiji. It’s on the main route from Baghdad to Mosul, the main IS stronghold in northern Iraq.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter in Washington announced the raid, followed soon after by word from the White House.

Meehan, the NSC spokeswoman, said in a statement that the woman who was freed, a Yazidi, “appears to have been held as a slave” by Abu Sayyaf and his wife. She said the U.S. intends to return her to her family.

IS militants captured hundreds of members of the Yazidi religious minority in northern Iraq during their rampage across the country last summer.

A senior Obama administration official said Umm Sayyaf was being debriefed at an undisclosed location in Iraq to obtain intelligence about IS operations. The official was not authorized to discuss details of the operation by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The raid was the first known U.S. ground operation targeting IS militants in Syria. A U.S.-led coalition has been striking the extremists from the air for months, but the only previous time American troops set foot on the ground in Syria was in an unsuccessful commando mission to recover hostages last summer.

Syrian state TV earlier reported that Syrian government forces killed at least 40 IS fighters, including a senior commander in charge of oil fields, in an attack Saturday on the Omar field — where the U.S. raid was said to have taken place. The Syrian report, which appeared as an urgent news bar on state TV, was not repeated by the state news agency. State TV didn’t repeat the urgent news or elaborate on it.

U.S. officials said they had no knowledge of a Syrian raid and that the U.S. did not coordinate its operation with the Syrian government. Meehan said the Syrian government was not informed in advance of the raid. The U.S. has said it is not cooperating with President Bashar Assad’s government in the battle against IS.

“We have warned the Assad regime not to interfere with our ongoing efforts against ISIL inside of Syria,” Meehan said, using another acronym for IS. “As we have said before, the Assad regime is not and cannot be a partner in the fight against ISIL. In fact, the brutal actions of the regime have aided and abetted the rise of ISIL and other extremists in Syria.”

An NSC statement said President Barack Obama authorized the raid upon the “unanimous recommendation” of his national security team.

The administration clearly is concerned by the resilience of IS even as officials publicly express confidence that the extremists cannot sustain their territorial gains and ultimately will be defeated.

Saturday’s raid came as IS fighters have advanced in central and northeastern Syria. Activists said IS fighters pushed into Palmyra, home to famed 2,000-year-old ruins, after seizing an oil field and taking control of the water company on the outskirts.

IS said fighters took full control of Saker Island in the Euphrates River near Deir el-Zour, a provincial capital in eastern Syria split between IS and government forces.

TIME Egypt

Ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi Sentenced to Death

Ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi raises his hands as he sits behind glass in a courtroom in the national police academy in an eastern suburb of Cairo
Ahmed Omar—AP Ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi raises his hands as he sits behind glass in a courtroom in the national police academy in an eastern suburb of Cairo on May 16, 2015.

He was sentenced for a mass prison break in 2011

(CAIRO)—An Egyptian court on Saturday sentenced the country’s first freely elected leader, ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, to death over a mass prison break during the 2011 uprising that eventually brought him to power.

The ruling applies to another 120 people, and is the latest in a series of mass death sentences handed down since the military overthrew Morsi nearly two years ago. The sentence will likely further polarize Egypt, a longtime U.S. ally grappling with an Islamist insurgency that has intensified since Morsi’s overthrow.

In what appears to be the first violent response to the ruling, suspected Islamic militants gunned down three judges and their driver in the northern Sinai Peninsula city of al-Arish, according to security officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Egypt’s judiciary has come under mounting international criticism since Morsi’s ouster as it has handed down harsh mass sentences to Islamists and jailed secular activists for protesting. At the same time, the courts have acquitted or handed light sentences to top officials who served under President Hosni Mubarak, whose nearly 30-year reign was ended by the 2011 Arab Spring-inspired uprising.

“These sentences are yet another manifestation of the deeply troubling way the Egyptian judiciary has been used as a tool to settle political disagreements,” Emad Shahin, a professor at the American University in Cairo who was sentenced to death in absentia wrote in a Facebook post.

“Due process, regard for evidence, and minimum standards of justice have been tossed aside in favor of draconian injustice,” wrote Shahin, now a visiting professor at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.

As is customary in capital punishment cases, Judge Shaaban el-Shami referred his death sentences on Morsi and the others to the nation’s top Muslim cleric for his non-binding opinion. El-Shami set June 2 for the next hearing, and the sentences can be appealed.

Morsi already is serving a 20-year sentence for his part in the killing in 2012 of protesters outside a Cairo presidential palace.

The military overthrew Morsi in July 2013 following days of mass protests by Egyptians angered by his divisive policies. Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who had been appointed military chief by Morsi, led his ouster, and was elected nearly a year ago in a vote boycotted by the Islamist opposition.

Since his ouster, authorities have cracked down on Islamists and pro-democracy activists who were instrumental in the 2011 uprising. Thousands of Morsi supporters have been jailed and hundreds killed in street clashes over the last two years, including at least 600 in one day, when security forces violently dispersed two pro-Morsi sit-ins in August 2013.

After the verdict was read Saturday, a smiling Morsi defiantly waved the four-finger sign associated with the sit-ins.

As the government has cracked down on Islamists and other activists, the courts have been far more lenient to Mubarak-era officials. Mubarak himself was acquitted in November of charges linked to the killing of hundreds of protesters in 2011 and has not spent a single day in prison since his arrest in April 2011.

The 87-year-old Mubarak was sentenced to three years for corruption on May 9 but was later declared a free man since he had already spent three years in detention, mostly at a Nile-side military hospital in a southern Cairo suburb. Prosecutors have appealed his acquittal over the death of protesters, and a high court will decide next month if he should be retried.

Sentenced to death with Morsi on Saturday were 105 defendants, including some 70 Palestinians. The defendants include the Brotherhood’s spiritual leader, Mohammed Badie — who has already been sentenced to death in a separate trial — as well as one of the Arab world’s best known Islamic scholars, the Qatar-based Youssef al-Qaradawi. Most defendants were tried and convicted in absentia, meaning they will receive automatic retrials if they are detained.

Supporters of Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood, now outlawed and branded a terrorist group, chanted “down, down with military rule” as the judge announced the verdict in a converted lecture hall in the national police academy.

Prosecutors alleged that armed members of the Palestinian Hamas group entered Egypt during the 18-day uprising through illegal tunnels running under the Gaza-Sinai border. Taking advantage of the turmoil, the militants fought their way into several prisons, releasing Morsi, more than 30 other Muslim Brotherhood leaders and some 20,000 inmates, prosecutors say. Several prison guards were killed and parts of the stormed prisons were damaged.

Hezbollah and Hamas operatives who had been convicted and sentenced to jail terms over terror-related charges were also sprung out of jail in 2011.

In Gaza, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the sentencing to death of the Palestinians was “regrettable” and “shocking,” adding that “some of those convicted were killed before the Egyptian revolution and others are serving prison terms in Israel.” He said nothing about Morsi’s death sentence.

Hamas is the Palestinian chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood and enjoyed close relations with Morsi during his year in office, but has denied taking part in the prison breaks.

Amr Darrag, a Cabinet minister under Morsi and a co-founder of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, also blasted Saturday’s verdicts.

“Today will be remembered as one of the darkest days in Egypt’s history,” he said.

An Islamist opposition alliance led by the Brotherhood meanwhile called on Egyptians to step up the campaign to topple the “gang of treachery and usurpers” in the run-up to July 3, the second anniversary of Morsi’s removal from power.

Amnesty International also denounced the verdicts, saying “the death penalty has become the favorite tool for the Egyptian authorities to purge the political opposition.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said el-Sissi’s government was returning to the “old Egypt” by rolling back democracy. He also criticized the West, saying it had failed to speak out against such death sentences.

Morsi escaped a death sentence in a separate case before the same judge related to allegations that he, several of his aides and Brotherhood leaders allegedly passed state secrets to foreign groups, including Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, during his time in office. A total of 16 senior Brotherhood leaders and aides were sentenced to death in that case, including one woman.

A verdict on Morsi’s role will be announced in the June 2 hearing.

TIME Middle East

These 5 Facts Explain the Troubled U.S.-Arab Relationship

Obama Hosts Gulf Cooperation Council Summit at Camp David
Kevin Dietsch—AP Obama encourages Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah to make a statement alongside Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, following the Gulf Cooperation Council-U.S. summit at Camp David on May 14, 2015.

A summit in Camp David shows the growing gap between the U.S. and its Arab allies, thanks to changing oil politics and aging leaders

President Barack Obama just concluded a two day summit with America’s Arab allies. The meeting wrapped up a rocky week that started when Saudi Arabia’s King Salman publicly withdrew from the summit and sent his son and his young nephew in his place. These 5 stats explain the tense relationship between the U.S. and its Persian Gulf allies, and the challenges those alliances will face going forward.

1. It’s the Oil, Stupid.

Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia comprise the grouping of monarchies in the Persian Gulf known as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). They are all major oil producers, with Saudi Arabia the heavyweight of the lot. Together they account for 24% of the world’s crude oil production. But after decades of critical dependence on their oil, America, thanks largely to the mid-2000s shale boom, has surpassed Saudi Arabia and Russia to lead the world in oil production. The GCC has felt this acutely—Saudi Arabia saw its oil exports to the US plummet 23.74% between 2008 and 2014. The Saudis are not content to take this lying down. Riyadh is busy ramping up its own production (achieving a record high of 10.3 million barrels per day this past April) in an effort to drive down oil and price more expensive U.S. shale producers out of the global market.

(Middle East Monitor, Bloomberg, Energy Information Administration, Financial Times)

2. The Paradox of Plenty

While Saudis are increasing production largely to strengthen their long-term market position, the gambit poses significant short-term risks. Oil prices had already been tumbling for months, and the price of oil directly affects economies like that are heavily reliant upon the commodity. 45% of Saudi Arabia’s GDP comes directly from oil and gas, 40% of the UAE’s, and around 50-60% each for Qatar, Kuwait and Oman. By keeping production high, Saudi Arabia is helping to keep oil prices low.

Economists often talk about the “resource curse,” when a country’s abundance of natural resources stunts the rest of its economy. In a healthy and balanced economy, the private sector should drive research, development and innovation. But only 20% of Bahraini nationals work in the private sector. The rest of the GCC are worse: a pitiful 0.5% of UAE nationals have the misfortune of private employment. The GCC countries have relied so long on oil that their workforces can’t compete in a globalized world. The ruling powers are keenly aware of this fact.

(Forbes, OPEC – UAE, OPEC – Qatar, OPEC – Kuwait, EIA, Al Jazeera)

3. Arab Spring, Still Blooming?

The GCC countries had a front-row seat to the Arab Spring. Beginning in 2011, countries throughout the Arab World erupted in demonstrations and protests, even bleeding into Bahrain and Kuwait. One of the main drivers of the movement was mass unemployment, which afflicts the affluent GCC as well. Ernst & Young estimates that unaddressed unemployment of youths aged 20-24 could eventually reach 40% across GCC member states. Those are numbers ripe for revolution.

The only thing scarier than the uprisings to the Gulf monarchs must have been the U.S. response to them. For years the understanding was that so long as the Gulf countries would keep the world market flush with oil, the U.S. would provide them with protection. Egypt had a variation of this type of relationship with Washington, but Obama wasted little time in throwing Hosni Mubarak under the bus in 2011—at least as the GCC see it. If Egypt could be sacrificed at the altar of democracy, why couldn’t Saudi Arabia be next?

(Bloomberg, Ernst & Young)

4. The Threat of Iran

Looming over the GCC Summit is America’s reengagement with Iran. Washington’s greatest leverage over Tehran is the possibility of lifting sanctions in exchange for a nuclear deal. Experts estimate that Iran’s economy could grow anywhere from 2% to 5% in the first year after lifting sanctions, and then 7-8% the following 18 months. Those are rates on par with the remarkable growth of the ‘Asian Tigers’ in the 1990s.

It’s not just the additional economic competition that worries the GCC. Saudi Arabia has spent the better part of the last decade combatting Iran’s influence across Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, even Bahrain—the end of sanctions would give Tehran additional financing to escalate the regional rivalry. Further destabilizing the region are serious threats posed by groups like ISIS. This is why the GCC sought a formal, Japan-style security alliance with the U.S. The leaders who showed up in Washington couldn’t get the pact they wanted—a treaty requiring Congressional approval is a nonstarter—but they did get assurances of America’s continued military support and significant arms sales.

(Financial Times, Vox, Reuters, Economist)

5. Age Matters

The absence of the Saudi king, along with his counterparts from the UAE, Bahrain and Oman, sent the message that the status quo in the Middle East cannot continue. Their snub of Obama was intended to project an image of strength in the region. But the reality is that the oil-dependent GCC countries have serious structural problems that will take generations to solve. Instead of dealing with four rulers with an average age of 75, Obama sat across from representatives with an average age of 56. This younger generation is poised to lead their countries for decades to come. After 70 years of intense engagement, it is clear that the GCC countries need America as much as ever. The question is how much America needs them.

(Crown Prince Court – UAE, Kingdom of Bahrain (a), Kingdom of Bahrain (b) AlJazeera, Reuters, BBC, Forbes, Al-Monitor, White House )

TIME Burundi

Attempted Coup in Burundi Fails But Tensions Linger

A woman passes by policemen in a street in Bujumbura, Burundi on May 15, 2015.
Goran Tomasevic—Reuters A woman passes by policemen in a street in Bujumbura, Burundi on May 15, 2015.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned “attempts to oust elected governments by military force”

Ambition and ideology, it seems, got the best of Burundian coup plotter Godefroid Niyombare. After nearly 36 hours of chaos and tension, in which a military force divided between those loyal to embattled President Pierre Nkurunziza and soldiers supporting his ouster battled for control of the capital’s airport and media assets, the former intelligence chief was forced to concede that his coup had failed. “We have decided to surrender,” Niyombare told the French news agency AFP in Burundi. “I hope they won’t kill us.” Niyombare is still at large, but the police have detained three other coup leaders. “We decided to give ourselves up,” the coup leaders’ spokesman, Zenon Ndabaneze, told AFP by telephone just seconds before his arrest. “We have laid down our arms. We have called the security ministry to tell them we no longer have any arms.”

The failed coup capped nearly two weeks of unrest in the capital, Bujumbura, as citizens protested the president’s announcement that he would seek a third term in office, despite a constitutionally mandated two-term limit. Elections are scheduled for June 26, though the African Union, citing unrest, has suggested they be delayed. President Nkurunziza and his supporters argue that he has the right to run again because he was not elected for his first term in office, but appointed by parliament. His elevation to the presidency in 2005 came at the conclusion of a devastating 13-year civil war. The hard-won peace accord, negotiated in part by South Africa’s Nelson Mandela, is also clear about term limits. Nkurunziza’s defiance threatens the fragile peace between the President’s ethnic Hutu majority and the country’s Tutsi minority, raising the specter of a return to a war with echoes of the genocidal mayhem that tore neighboring Rwanda apart in 1994. Tens of thousands of Burundians, mostly Tutsi, have already taken refuge in Rwanda.

In announcing his overthrow of the government on Wednesday, Niyombare, a former presidential ally, insisted that he had no intention of holding on to power. He only wanted to work for “the restoration of national unity and the resumption of the electoral process in a peaceful and fair environment,” he said, according to AFP. There is little confidence in Burundi that elections in which the president is a candidate will be free from rigging. The United States, the European Union and the United Nations have criticized Nkurunziza’s attempt to hold on to power, but they also decried the coup attempt. In a statement, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned “attempts to oust elected governments by military force,” while urging respect of Burundi’s constitution.

President Nkurunziza has yet to address the nation, but his office released a message on Friday: “President Nkurunziza is back in Burundi after the attempted coup. He congratulates the army, the police and the Burundian people.” Burundian police say they are keeping the detained plotters alive so that they can stand trial. The elections are still scheduled to go ahead, but it is not clear that tensions have calmed enough to allow for a serious campaign. President Nkurunziza may have emerged unscathed this time, but the widespread support for the attempted coup should be enough to make him think twice about running for a third term that much of the nation, and the world, deems illegal.

TIME Germany

Germany’s Next Topmodel Finale Canceled After Bomb Threat

Members of the audience leave the SAP-Arena venue after the German television casting show "Germany's Next Topmodel" is cancelled in Mannheim, Germany on May 14, 2015.
Uwe Anspach—picture-alliance/dpa/AP Members of the audience leave the SAP-Arena venue after the German television casting show "Germany's Next Topmodel" is cancelled in Mannheim, Germany on May 14, 2015.

An anonymous phone call prompted the evacuation of 8,500 people

Heidi Klum and thousands of others were evacuated from the live televised finale of “Germany’s Next Topmodel” after a bomb threat was made against the show.

Police said that an anonymous female called in the threat to the SAP Arena in Mannheim, Germany, at 9 p.m. local time on Thursday (3 p.m. EDT)—prompting 8,500 people to be removed from the venue and cancellation of the finale’s live broadcast.

Officials found a suspicious bag but later determined it was not dangerous, the Mannheim Police Department said in a statement. It added that the all-clear was given after a full search of the…

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

TIME isis

ISIS Releases Message From Its Leader Calling for Muslims to Join Him or Fight Where They Are

Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
EPA Image purportedly shows the caliph of the self-proclaimed Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, giving a speech in an unknown location.

The tape calls on Muslims to 'go to war everywhere'

The Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) released an audio message Thursday purportedly from its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. If confirmed, this would be the first time Baghdadi has spoken out since November. There were numerous reports earlier this year that he was seriously injured in an air strike.

It lasts for 33 minutes and calls for Muslims to emigrate to ISIS’s self-proclaimed caliphate in Iraq and Syria, saying it is a duty to join or take up arms wherever they are.

“There is no might nor honor nor safety nor rights for you except in the shade of the caliphate,” the speaker says.

“Islam was never a religion of peace. Islam is the religion of fighting. No one should believe that the war that we are waging is the war of the Islamic State…It is the war of Muslims against infidels.”

Among those infidels are the leaders of the Gulf countries and Saudi Arabia, referred to as “guard dogs” and “apostate rulers” in the message.

Analysts have noted that the recording must have been made in the last seven weeks because the speaker mentions the Yemen conflict which began at the end of March.

The Arabic message is entitled “March Forth Whether Light or Heavy” and appeared on several websites with translations in English, French, German, Russian and Turkish.

[Guardian]

Read next: Why ISIS can survive without Baghdadi

TIME Colombia

Colombia Defies U.S. and Halts Spraying of Cocaine Crops

A police plane sprays herbicides over coca fields in El Tarra, in the Catatumbo river area of Colombia on June 4, 2008.
Luis Robayo—AP A police plane sprays herbicides over coca fields in El Tarra, in the Catatumbo river area of Colombia on June 4, 2008.

President Juan Manuel Santos said the country would find other ways to destroy coca plants

Colombia’s government ordered a halt Thursday to the use of a herbicide that has formed a major part of U.S.-backed efforts to wipe out cocaine crops in the country, the Times reports.

The country’s Health Ministry had cited concerns after the World Health Organization reclassified the weed-killer glyphosate as a carcinogen (a cancer-causing substance) in March. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2012 report disagreed, saying there was a lack of convincing evidence that the herbicide causes cancer in humans.

Over the past two decades over 4 million acres of land in Colombia have been sprayed with the herbicide, which kills coca plants (whose leaves are used to make cocaine).

The change in strategy may put a strain on Colombia’s relationship with the U.S. for the first time, as the two countries are usually close allies when it comes to a hard-line approach in the war on drugs. But earlier this month, a White House survey found that the amount of land in Colombia used to grow coca increased by 39% last year

Peru and Bolivia are the two other main cocaine-producing countries, but both avoid chemical herbicides, opting for a more labor-intensive manual eradication instead. This is riskier in Colombia, where the rebel guerrilla fighters have long protected coca crops.

Read More: Experts Fear Surge in Cocaine Supply to U.S. as Colombia Mulls Ending Coca Eradication

TIME Italy

Italy Says It Rescued 3,600 Migrants From the Sea in 48 Hours

A group of 300 sub-Saharan African migrants sit on board a boat during a rescue operation off the coast of Sicily, Italy on May 14, 2015.
Alessandro Bianchi—Reuters A group of 300 sub-Saharan African migrants sit on board a boat during a rescue operation off the coast of Sicily, Italy on May 14, 2015.

Some 200,000 are expected to arrive in Italy this year

Italy has rescued 3,600 migrants from rickety boats sailing from Africa to Europe in the past two days, officials said. Hundreds were taken to the Sicilian port of Catania.

The Interior Ministry expects human cargo to the southern European nation to increase by 30,000 to 200,000 this year, Reuters reports.

Many migrants embark from Libya, where a prevailing lawlessness creates conditions favorable to those seeking to profit from the demand for illegal passages to Europe.

This week, the European Union declared it would absorb an additional 20,000 refugees and more evenly disperse asylum seekers across member states.

The death toll from migrant boat journeys is expected to move beyond 2,000 in 2015. In early May, approximately 6,800 people were brought ashore to safety by European rescue missions.

[Reuters]

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