‘Black Widow’ Threat Hangs Over Sochi
Less than three weeks before the Winter Olympics are set to begin in the Russian city of Sochi, police there have begun hunting for suspected terrorists allegedly plotting attacks. Among them is at least one black widow, the term Russians use for female suicide bombers seeking to avenge their husbands’ deaths at the hands of the security services.
The warning followed one bombing in Pyatigorsk and three in Volgograd that have killed more than 40 people since October. The threat emanates from the North Caucasus region, where a homegrown insurgency is fighting to establish an Islamic state. On Jan. 20, a website linked to the insurgency posted a video of two men claiming responsibility for the Volgograd bombings and threatening Olympic tourists with more attacks.
The state has responded with what it calls a ring of steel around Sochi’s venues, sending some 40,000 security personnel to the area, along with surveillance drones, navy patrol boats and antiaircraft batteries. On Jan. 17, President Vladimir Putin said Russia would do “whatever it takes” to protect the Games. Putin and U.S. President Barack Obama discussed security measures in a telephone conversation on Jan. 21; the two nations are sharing intelligence and weighing whether to share special antiterrorist equipment as well.
The worry is that terrorists are adept at blending in. Of the six posters being circulated in Sochi, four depict female suspects, including a 22-year-old whose Islamist husband was reportedly killed last year. She fits the textbook profile of a black widow.
‘This behavior is beneath the dignity of a U.N. Secretary-General.’
MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, Iranian Foreign Minister, blaming U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for pulling an offer for Iran to join the Syria peace talks that began in Switzerland on Jan. 22. Zarif reportedly accused Ban, who appeared to bow to pressure from the U.S. and the Syrian opposition, of lacking the “courage” to explain his decisionmaking.
WORLD’S TOP BRANDS
BrandIndex conducted more than 2 million interviews across 15 countries to determine the brands that consumers most admired in 2013:
4 Apple, Volkswagen
5 Audi, Sony
Ukraine’s Crackdown On Protesters
Following a holiday lull, tens of thousands of people in Kiev ramped up demonstrations against the government of President Viktor Yanukovych after he opted not to sign an agreement with the E.U. in November in favor of closer relations with Russia. At least two people were killed on Jan. 22–the first fatalities since the protests began–as the government crackdown appeared to intensify. Reports suggest the government is trying to break the opposition in three ways:
New legislation hastily pushed through the parliament went into effect on Jan. 21, criminalizing the public use of loudspeakers, tents, stages, helmets and other typical protest gear.
The government reportedly began using locations revealed by cell phones to zero in on protesters and send them text messages saying, “Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance.” The Interior Ministry later denied sending the messages.
USING PROXY FORCE
Opposition leaders alleged to the New York Times that the government had supplemented its security forces with groups of young men armed with sticks; demonstrators suggested the youths had been brought in to incite violence.
In the Taliban’s Crosshairs
A man sweeps out a damaged car near Taverna du Liban, a Lebanese restaurant popular with expatriates and well-to-do Afghans, in Kabul on Jan. 18. The night before, a Taliban suicide bomber, backed by two gunmen, killed 21 people–including 13 foreigners. The attack was one of the deadliest on Western civilians since the war began and highlighted the conflict’s toll on both communities.
How to Prevent the Bees’ Demise
Australian scientists are studying honeybees in Tasmania to learn why 10 million hives worldwide collapsed in six years (and how to stop things from getting worse)
Attach High-Tech Backpacks
The bees are tranquilized; microchips are glued to their backs before they’re returned to their hives. Some have only nectar and pollen feeders; others also contain a small amount of pesticide.
Monitor Their Movements
Researchers can then track the bees as they return to their hives, or note if they stray. And they can see how pesticides affect the bees’ honeymaking and ability to finish tasks.
Study Pesticides’ Effects
Using a 3-D image of the bees’ movements, known as “swarm sensing,” scientists can analyze the effects of agricultural pesticides.
Adapt Food Production
The results, it’s hoped, can be used by farmers and fruit growers to better understand how to manage their crops, since about one-third of the food regularly eaten by humans requires pollination.
126 Number of families given $1,000 by the Health Ministry for naming their babies (78 boys, 48 girls) after the Prophet Muhammad, his wife or companions on Jan. 13 to mark the Prophet’s birthday
In an effort to alleviate congestion, a district in London began installing parking sensors so drivers can use an app to find empty spots
A nun from El Salvador who hid her pregnancy went to a hospital after experiencing cramps and gave birth to a boy she named Francesco
Parts of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro were damaged by a lightning strike but will be repaired
Israel’s Knesset gave initial approval to a bill that bans and criminalizes the use of Nazi terminology and symbolism (except for educational or historic purposes)
This appears in the February 03, 2014 issue of TIME.
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