As the death toll rises from the sinking of South Korea’s Sewol ferry, which left 300 dead or missing, blame has been placed on the captain who decided to abandon ship as his passengers were left to die below—reportedly told by the crew to stay put inside the boat.MoreSeoul Warns of Possible North Korea Nuke Test as Obama Flies to East AsiaSouth Korean Ferry Investigation Broadens as Death Toll Tops 100Men Charged With Toppling Ancient Rock Formation Avoid Jail Time Huffington PostHere's An Updated Tally Of All The People Who Have Ever Died From A Marijuana Overdose Huffington PostDon't Believe the Hype: Kim Kardashian Didn't Go Blonde! People
Captain Lee Jun-seok’s actions have not only been derided as the “evil of Sewol” by the public and “akin to murder” by his president, but also led to his arrest on suspicions of negligence and abandonment. Crew members are facing charges as well. This has led to a widespread discussion as to whether a civilian captain abandoning their ship is not just a cowardly act, but a criminal one as well.
In spite of a historic precedence of valor — the Titanic’s captain is an iconic example of honorably going down with the ship — there aren’t international laws that require a captain to remain onboard. “There is nothing in any [international maritime agreement] to specifically require a captain to stay on board the vessel in the event of an incident such as this, however he/she does retain full responsibility for the safety of the vessel and those on board,” International Maritime Organization spokesman Lee Adamson told ABC News.
But according to Rod Sullivan, a professor specializing in maritime law at Florida Coastal School of Law, these laws do exist on a country-by-country basis — and South Korea is an exception to the general rule.
“Specifically under Article 10 of the Korean Seaman’s Act, it makes it a crime to go ahead and depart the vessels ahead of the passengers,” Sullivan, who has also taught in Korea, told TIME. “I know of no other country besides South Korea that has this specific provision requiring the captain to stay on board. There is no counterpart in U.S. law or an international law that would apply.”
Violating Article 10 would result in a maximum fine of $5,000. But Lee stands accused of far greater crimes, under various maritime laws that are applicable both in Korea and internationally. Sullivan told TIME that Article 11 of Korea’s Seaman’s Act mandates the “captain has a duty to take all necessary measures to save the lives” of those aboard a ship, and breaches of these duties could lead to a maximum of five years in prison.
“Clearly there was a major mistake on behalf of the captain,” Sullivan said. “I think that the thing up for question is whether this constitutes negligent homicide or manslaughter. If it was gross negligence or negligence it could be up to a life imprisonment.”
There are comparable laws internationally and in the United States. 46 US Code section 2303 lays out a captain’s duties relating to marine casualties and assistance, which amounts to getting everyone on board out of danger to the best of their abilities, or face a $1,000 fine and/or up to two years in jail. Lee apparently failed one of the first tests of being a captain, the way some sailors see it. “That guy’s an embarrassment to anybody who’s ever had command at sea,” John B. Padgett III, a retired United States Navy rear admiral and former submarine captain, told the New York Times.
While Sullivan says that his gut reaction would be similarly negative, he wonders if he might feel different six months from now. While both Joseph Hazelwood, the captain of Exxon Valdez,and John Lerro, the captain in the Sunshine Skyway Bridge disaster that killed 35, faced public scrutiny for their role in deadly accidents, Hazelwood was acquitted of all felony charges (he was convicted of misdemeanor negligence) and Lerro was cleared of all wrongdoing by the Coast Guard and a grand jury.
“The lesson to be learned here is that in times when we are passionate about ship collisions we tend to think everything that is done wrong is a crime,” he said. “But with the passage of time and before a neutral decision make like a judge and jury [is involved], more often than not they are not criminal convictions.”
The sudden spike in cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, in Saudia Arabia came soon after camel racing events at the Jenadriyah Festival in Riyadh. That suggested the surge in the incurable coronavirus, which resembles pneumonia but is fatal to one in three who contract it, confirmed what scientists already knew of the disease: that camels seem to be reservoirs for the virus, and transmit it to humans more easily than humans do to one another.MoreSaudi Arabia Confirms 20 New Cases of Deadly MERS VirusMERS Death Toll Climbs as Man Killed By Virus in Saudi ArabiaMen Charged With Toppling Ancient Rock Formation Avoid Jail Time Huffington PostHere's An Updated Tally Of All The People Who Have Ever Died From A Marijuana Overdose Huffington PostDon't Believe the Hype: Kim Kardashian Didn't Go Blonde! People
But with the number of cases picking up, there are worries that may be changing. And if the virus has mutated to increased person-to-person contagion, it has potentially catastrophic implications for another annual festival: the yearly pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina known as Hajj. More than a million Muslims from around the globe gather in the western Saudi cities during the first week of October, then return to their home countries, which last year numbered 188. In an age when international travel has dramatically exacerbated the spread of new viruses such as SARS, virologists say the mounting concern is only too clear.Popular Among Subscribers Barbara Brown Taylor Faces the Darkness Subscribe Shinzo Abe: The PatriotThe Blindness of Bigotry
The worries are aggravated by the performance of the Saudi government, which has failed to confirm whether the virus is, in fact, mutating. The Saudis have either not performed tests that would reveal the changes, or have not shared them with international authorities, virologists complain. On Monday, Health Minister Abdullah al-Rabiah was fired amid mounting criticism of the kingdom’s handling of the budding crisis.
“It’s frustrating,” says Ian Mackay, an associate professor at the Australian Infectious Diseases Research Institute at the University of Queensland, who compared the Saudi handling of MERS with China’s response to the 2009 outbreak of swine flu. “With the H1N1 virus, China provided almost too much information. You worried about the privacy of some of the patients, given the level of detail that China was providing.
“But we’re seeing the complete opposite extreme in Saudi Arabia, where you can’t even get the sex of the patient in some cases,” Mackay tells TIME. “And the WHO doesn’t seem to be getting that information either.”
Indeed, the World Health Organization as good as confirmed it did not have the latest information from Riyadh in declining to comment on the outbreak on Tuesday afternoon. “Kindly be advised that we cannot comment on latest MERS figures since we do not have the latest case count,” the WHO’s media office said an e-mailed reply to questions from TIME. “And we can only communicate and comment on the cases that we have been officially notified of by a member state, namely Saudi Arabia.”
Concerns that the virus may have mutated are focused on two clusters of cases among health care workers: One cluster is in Jeddah, the western Saudi city through which pilgrims pass en route to nearby Mecca. The other cluster is among paramedics in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates.
Mackay, who noted the clusters in his blog, says he can see two possible explanations: “One is a fairly bad but widespread breakdown of infection control and prevention protocols” among the health care workers—that is, nurses or doctors failing to use gloves, surgical masks or other standard measures designed to prevent infection while working with a MERS patient. Such a breakdown would be possible even in a well-equipped and prosperous Gulf nation, Mackay noted, but for both outbreaks to take place at the same time “would be fairly coincidental.”
The other, more alarming possibility? “The other avenue is the virus has changed and become more easily transmitted between humans,” Mackay said.
That is cause for concern way beyond the Middle East. “When humans readily transmit to humans, that’s what will cause a worldwide outbreak,” Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told National Public Radio. “We are very concerned that … with what we’ve seen over the last two weeks … we may be at that point now.”
Whether the virus has, in fact, mutated dangerously cannot be known until the Saudis examine the genome of the latest samples of the virus and share the results. The WHO has said it is “working closely” with the kingdom, but has not issued any conclusions. Another way to find out if the virus has mutated would be if the number of cases were to skyrocket. But with only 344 cases worldwide so far—a decade ago, SARS infected at least 8,000, and killed 775—the count remains low, and awareness is growing.
In 2013, concerns over MERS kept many as a million people away from Hajj, an obligation that the Koran imposes upon any Muslim who can afford the trip. Saudi authorities discouraged attendance by the very young, the elderly, pregnant women, and people already suffering from chronic illness, a major risk factor for the virus. Still, more than 3 million people circulated at the holy sites for five days, at close quarters. With the risk of mass contagion in the air this year, the world may be hoping for a better reaction from Saudi Arabia than it has gotten so far.
Ukraine’s acting prime minister called Tuesday for security forces to resume “counter-terrorism” operations in eastern Ukraine after two bodies, including one of a local politician, were reportedly found in the region with signs of torture.
“The terrorists who effectively took the whole Donetsk region hostage have now gone too far, by starting to torture and murder Ukrainian patriots,” Oleksander Turchinov said in a statement.
The deceased politician, Volodymyr Ryback, was a member of a Turchinov’s party who had recently been kidnapped, BBC reports.
Ukraine had suspended the “active stage” of operations that began last week against pro-Russian separatists who have occupied towns and cities in the region, after international parties agreed Thursday to a joint roadmap to end the crisis near the Ukraine-Russia border. But the separatists have so far defied the agreement’s stipulation that they disarm. Vice President Joe Biden, on a visit to Kiev Tuesday, called on Russia to “stop talking and start acting,” Reuters reports.
There was a lot of talk Tuesday at the Supreme Court about the future of television—how we will watch it, how we will pay for it, and whether, crucially, the old broadcast model will be blown up for good. While such rhetoric is usually overwrought, in this particular case—American Broadcasting Companies vs. Aereo—it’s actually justified. If the court decides in favor of Aereo, a small, Brooklyn-based TV-streaming tech startup, it could have the effect of destroying traditional broadcasters’ business model, and fundamentally reshaping the way the TV industry operates.MoreFederal Suit Filed to Overturn Georgia’s Gay Marriage BanHigh Court Upholds Michigan Affirmative Action BanMen Charged With Toppling Ancient Rock Formation Avoid Jail Time Huffington PostHere's An Updated Tally Of All The People Who Have Ever Died From A Marijuana Overdose Huffington PostMegan Fox, Brian Austin Green Enjoy Trip to Disneyland People
Aereo captures free, over-the-air TV signals with thousands of small antennas that are rented to individual users, and it transmits that content to customers online for a small monthly fee—without paying broadcasters the so-called retransmission fees cable companies pay them to provide their channels to cable customers. While Aereo founder Chet Kanojia has publicly tussled with the big broadcasters over whether such a disruption is good for consumers—Kanojia says it will free viewers from pricey cable bills but the big broadcasters disagree—the Supreme Court on Tuesday homed in on another question entirely. Namely, this one: If it’s legal for someone to put bunny ear antennae on his roof and watch TV for free, and it’s legal for him to record that free TV onto a DVR (or an old school Sony Betamax VCR, for that matter) so he can watch it again later with friends, then does it matter, from a legal perspective, whether he actually owns that antennae, or that he is in possession of a physical DVR?Popular Among Subscribers Barbara Brown Taylor Faces the Darkness Subscribe Shinzo Abe: The PatriotThe Blindness of Bigotry
The antennae farm across town and a “DVR” based in the cloud, Aereo argues, are legally no different from the old antenna and VCR.
ABC, backed by CBS, NBC, FOX, and the U.S. Justice Department, says: not so fast. They argue that by capturing copyrighted television programming and then transmitting it back to thousands, or tens of thousands, of users, Aereo is acting exactly like a cable company and should pay retransmission fees.
The justices didn’t offer much in the way of clues as to how they might rule during hour-long oral arguments Tuesday. A ruling is expected in the summer.
Aereo’s lawyer David C. Frederick insisted repeatedly Tuesday that the company does not “perform” anything; it is nothing more than an “equipment provider.” ABC’s lawyer, Paul D. Clement, scoffed at the idea. Of course Aereo is “performing,” he said; to suggest otherwise “is just crazy.” Clement argued that Aereo—by essentially plucking copyrighted material out of the sky, selling access to that copyrighted material back to subscribers, and refusing to pay copyright royalties—is attempting to “get something for nothing. … It’s like magic.”
The justices’ questioning returned repeatedly to the implications that any decision on this case will have for cloud computing as a whole. If an individual downloads a video onto the cloud using a popular application, like Dropbox or iCloud, and then accesses it later and watches it on his computer, then does that also amount to, as Justice Elena Kagan asked, “public performance?” Both Aereo and ABC appeared to agree that an individual user of the cloud should not be required to pay royalties when he watches, say, an episode of The Sopranos that he has already purchased.
Clement urged the justices not to try not to “solve the problem of the cloud once and for all” in this one case. He instead attempted to steer the discussion toward what he characterized as a common sense interpretation of copyright law.
Frederick, by contrast, relished the cloud debate, warning the justices that if they decide in favor of the big broadcasters, they run the risk of fundamentally undermining the business model of the cloud. “If you turn every playback into a ‘public performance,’” he said, that will have “huge implications” for cloud-based businesses.
“The court’s decision today will have significant consequences for cloud computing,” Frederick said in a statement following oral arguments. “We’re confident, cautiously optimistic, based on the way the hearing went today that the Court understood that a person watching over-the-air broadcast television in his or her home is engaging in a private performance and not a public performance that would implicate the Copyright Act.”
When Facebook announced its stunning agreement to acquire messaging app WhatApp last February for $19 billion in stock, cash and restricted stock units, Mark Zuckerberg said that the startup was on track to reach a billion users. That pretty much explained his interest: It’s a figure that doesn’t come up often when discussing networked services other than…well, Facebook.
As of today, it’s official: WhatsApp is halfway there.
In a blog post today, it’s announcing that the app has 500 million users–not just people who registered, but ones who are active participants. I recently sat down with CEO and cofounder Jan Koum at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. to talk about the news.
Judging from its periodic statements over the past year, WhatsApp has been adding around 25 million new active users every month, a pace that isn’t slowing. The 500 million people now on board send tens of billions of text messages a day, along with 700 million photos and 100 million videos.
“On one hand, we were kind of expecting it,” Koum says of reaching the half-billion mark. “We got to 200 million users, 300 million users, 400 million users. It was going to happen sooner or later. But we think it’s an exciting number to share with the world and a good milestone to acknowledge what’s all been organic growth.”
In the U.S., WhatsApp is still probably best known as that company Facebook is in the process of buying. (The FTC signed off on the sale earlier this month–while emphasizing that WhatsApp must continue to abide by privacy promises it made to users–but other regulatory approvals are still pending internationally.) In much of the world, though, it’s already the app all your friends and relatives are using instead of carrier-provided text messaging.
Koum says that the app’s torrid growth tracks with the boom of smartphones–especially Android models. As people in a country join the smartphone era, some of them get WhatsApp. And then their friends and family members do, too, and the service explodes.WhatsApp’s Android version WhatsApp
Right now, “the four big countries are Brazil, Mexico, India and Russia,” he says. “People who never used computers, never used laptops, never used the Internet are signing up.”
Rather than going after any particular country, Koum says, WhatsApp has always obsessed about the overall usage number. “We’re pretty confident that eventually we will a reach tipping point in the U.S. as well. Russia only tipped in the last six months. A switch flipped, and we took off.”
Though WhatsApp’s customer base may skew towards young people who like to share lots of quick messages and lots of photos, Koum says that it’s a mistake to assume that it’s just kids who are keeping the app growing. “We hear lots of stories where grandparents go to a store and buy a smartphone so they can keep in touch with kids and grandkids,” he says. That dynamic is helped by the app’s ridiculously easy setup–you don’t even have to create a user name or password–and features such as the ability to adjust the font size for easy readability.
The growth in smartphones isn’t enough to keep WhatsApp growing, however. There may be roughly two billion smartphones in the world, Koum notes, but between 500 million and one billion of them may be used without a data plan. In most cases, that’s because of cost, but the availability of Internet access isn’t a given everywhere.
“We take [connectivity] for granted in Silicon Valley, where you turn on your phone and see twenty different Wi-Fi networks,” he says. He told me how moved he’d been by a National Geographic photo showing people in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa standing on a beach with their phones in outstretched arms, trying to catch a stray wireless signal from neighboring Somalia, and says that he’s passionate about efforts such as Internet.org, a partnership between Facebook and mobile technology companies to bring Internet access to everybody, everywhere.
“We have no plans to change anything about how we execute.”Even in developed countries, “not everybody is on a data plan, which is unfortunate,” he says. So for the past two and a half years, WhatsApp has been busy partnering with wireless carriers around the world to offer affordable access to its service.
“We’ve done some really cool deals, and they’re not all cookie-cutter,” Koum explains. In India, you can sign up to get unlimited WhatsApp for 30 cents a month. In Hong Kong, you can buy a WhatsApp roaming pass. In Germany, there are WhatsApp-branded SIM cards, with unlimited WhatsApp service and starter credits for voice and data.
Rather than carriers looking at WhatsApp solely as a scary, disruptive force killing their ability to make money off text messaging, such offerings turn the service into a “win-win-win,” Koum says. “Users get unlimited WhatsApp. We get happy users who don’t have to worry about data. Carriers get people willing to sign up for data plans.”The Future–and Oh Yeah, Facebook
For all of its growth, WhatsApp remains a famously lean operation: It got those 500 million active users with a team that only recently reached 60 staffers, for a ratio of over eight million users per employee. Koum says that the company doesn’t need to grow huge to serve even more folks. But “we do need more people–we’re actively hiring,” he says.
In particular, it’s beefing up its ability to provide customer support in more languages, including Portuguese, German, Ukranian, Polish and Romanian. “If anyone reading this article speaks multiple languages, they should apply,” he jokes.
When news of the Facebook acquisition broke, it inspired many people to worry about what it meant for the future of WhatsApp, whose business model has had a decidedly un-Facebookian slant in the past. The company makes money from customers–who pay 99 cents a year for service after the first year–and has been staunchly anti-advertising.
Both companies said at the time that WhatsApp would continue to be run independently and according to its existing principles, a point Koum stressed when I asked him about it.
“What makes our product work is the way we’re tightly focused on messaging and being an SMS replacement,” he says. The company plans to stick with that approach as it looks to “continuing to get to a billion users, and then two billion users. I think Facebook understands that, and Mark [Zuckerberg] understands that quite well. We have no plans to change anything about how we execute.”
As for competition from other messaging apps–and boy, is there a lot of it–Koum told me that some of WhatsApp’s rivals, such as Japan’s Line and China’s WeChat, are getting distracted from their core missions. People use WhatsApp, he says, to “keep in touch with each other, not movie stars or sports stars or random people you meet on the Internet. That’s why we’re succeeding internationally.”
“We want to do one thing and do it really well. For us, that’s communications between people who are friends and relatives.”
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America’s elders are getting in on the smartphone craze.
Fifty-one percent of Americans 55 and older own a smartphone, according to a new poll. That’s a 10% increase from early 2013 and marks the first time that a majority of all age groups have owned smartphones, according to the the Nielsen survey.
Seven out of 10 Americans now own smartphones, and 85% opt for them when shopping for a new phone.
Apple continues to reign as the largest smartphone manufacturer, with 42% of smartphone owners opting for Apple products, according to the survey. Most smartphones in the U.S. run on Google’s Android operating system (which works across devices made by a variety of manufacturers), and 19% are made by Samsung. BlackBerry devices are continuing to fall out of favor, and Windows Phone handsets only make up 3% of all American smartphones.
I try not to judge other parents. If you want your whole family to sleep together in one giant bed, it is none of my concern. If you feel like breastfeeding your kid until he’s in junior high school, go for it. If you don’t want to or can’t breastfeed, hey, formula is good too. To binky or not to binky? Maybe that is the question in your house, but I am positive you will make the right decision. Either way, I could really care less. Most of your parenting choices don’t affect me or my children. Having a loaded weapon in your house does. It has the potential to do serious harm to, and possibly kill, my child. The same is true when you decide not to immunize your children against preventable infectious diseases.MoreStudy: Children Given Codeine in ER Despite RisksCleveland Clinic’s New MedicineMen Charged With Toppling Ancient Rock Formation Avoid Jail Time Huffington PostHere's An Updated Tally Of All The People Who Have Ever Died From A Marijuana Overdose Huffington PostMegan Fox, Brian Austin Green Enjoy Trip to Disneyland People
My kids are five and two. They have gone through most of their early childhood vaccinations. With all the coverage in the news lately about the return of the measles and the mumps (seriously, mumps is a thing again?), I called the pediatrician to confirm that their immunizations were up to date. I found out that I had somehow missed my two year old’s second MMR vaccination. Just in case you don’t know, those two “Ms” stand for measles and mumps! Crud… I was an accidental anti-vaxxer! It was an oversight that I quickly remedied. That was a close one! What if my little dude had come in contact with one of the unvaccinated!? Chances are, nothing. But maybe, something. And if it was something, that thing could have been catastrophic.Popular Among Subscribers Barbara Brown Taylor Faces the Darkness Subscribe Shinzo Abe: The PatriotThe Blindness of Bigotry
I’ve been wondering lately if I have any friends who are anti-vaxxers. Some of the dads in my playdate group are kind of out there: musicians, actors, and such. One is a big conspiracy theory guy. Another is active in the Occupy movement. Who knows what kind of wacky stuff they’re up to? Maybe they hopped aboard the trendy not-getting-your-kids-immunized train. I brought it up with a couple of them. Luckily, no true nut jobs. (Well, about this issue anyway. They’re an odd bunch, but in the best ways.)
There is one dad who is not fully on board with vaccines, deeming some of them unnecessary. He felt that the reason a lot of vaccines are required by schools is because the state has a financial interest in…I don’t know…their sale and distribution or something. It was the conspiracy guy, and I had kind of a hard time following his logic. He also does not agree with the recommended vaccination schedule, asserting that getting too many at a time weakens a child’s immune system. (A reasonable-sounding concern some might think, though there is absolutely no evidence supporting it.) But, even if somewhat grudgingly, he vaccinates his daughter. Whew! We can still hang out; our children can still be friends.
I’m sort of joking…but the truth is, I’m not sure what I would do if I found out that one of my playgroup buddies was an anti-vaxxer. I really like those dudes! And most of the kids have known each other so long, they view each other as second cousins.
At this point — especially since I rectified my earlier negligence — my children are out of the danger zone. Not all vaccines are 100% effective, but I feel relatively safe. Yet, I remain rankled by the anti-vaxxers. There is still a chance that my children could be a part of the unlucky few who are vaccine resistant. Though the risk to my children is small, there are other children who are too young for certain vaccines. Anti-vaxxers are unnecessarily putting those kids in harm’s way (not to mention the potential danger to their own offspring). They are, in fact, banking on others getting vaccinated to protect their own children from the spread of disease. It just seems so selfish. Of course, they believe that they are doing what is best for their kids and are likely discounting the exposure of other children.
I understand that injecting something into your child that you do not fully comprehend is scary. Most parents are not scientists or doctors. I’m certainly not. I also understand that nothing I say is going to convince anti-vaxxers that vaccinations are safe; their minds are already made up. Other people, who are much smarter than I am, have made a pretty compelling case for the efficacy of immunizations. Yet the anti-vaxxer movement seems to be on the rise. If you are on the fence, I ask only that you don’t just do your “research” on anti-vaxxer websites. That is not really research; it’s confirmation.
Not vaccinating your children is that odd family decision that has potential real life consequences outside your home. It should come with a certain set of responsibilities. If you have a gun in your house, you are expected to safely secure it. If you have decided not to immunize your children, it is incumbent on you to make sure other children are not exposed to an unnecessary threat of infectious disease. It may seem harsh to equate an innocent child with a loaded weapon, but if that child comes into contact with a virus he is not immunized against, the metaphor is apt. Most of the time, because of herd immunization, unvaccinated children are not exposed to these diseases. They are, therefore, harmless: unloaded and secured. As we have seen with recent outbreaks, however, the safety of the herd does not hold up when too many people opt out.
If you are worried about anti-vaxxers in your playgroup, you need to find out for yourself and not wait for other parents to bring it up. It is not a topic you should debate (trust me, you will not persuade your anti-vaxxer friend to immunize her child), but it is important to have the information. If there are unimmunized children in the group, consult your pediatrician about what increased risks there may be to your child. Then, you can make an informed decision about what is best for you and your family.
As the TIME 100 readers’ poll nears its close, Indian politicians Arvind Kejriwal and Narendra Modi have maintained their lead in a heated race for the winner.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Aam Aadmi Party leader Kejriwal led Bharatiya Janata Party’s candidate for prime minister Modi in terms of percentage of “yes” votes, while Modi also had a significantly higher share of “no” votes against him. Singer Katy Perry sits in third, followed by Justin Bieber, who has managed to edge out transgender actress Laverne Cox for fourth.
Following close behind Cox are Benedict Cumberbatch, Beyonce Knowles, and Rihanna. Aside from the Indian political race at the top, which mirrors the actual elections taking place currently in the country, entertainment figures appear to be dominating the top spots. TIME’s Person of the Year, Pope Francis is currently sitting in the 25th spot.
Though the final TIME 100 list of the most influential people of the year worldwide is ultimately chosen by the editors, TIME seeks the input of readers in an online poll.
Don’t like what you see? Voting’s still open–if not for long. Polls close at 11:59 p.m. on April 22. The final winner will be announced on April 23. We’ll announce our official TIME 100 list on April 24.
See the results below.
Gen. Stanley McChrystal has admitted having a crisis of identity after getting fired from the U.S. Army by Barack Obama in 2010, saying he bounced back by thinking creatively about the skills he learned in 38-plus years as a soldier.
“There is only one Army in which you serve,” McChrystal wrote in a blog posted on LinkedIn Tuesday. “When that identity is gone, it is gone forever. For me, it was gone in an instant, and on terms that I could never have imagined.”
McChrystal was the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan when, in June 2010, Rolling Stone ran an article depicting McChrystal and aides poking fun at top civilian leadership in the United States, including Vice President Joe Biden. In the article, by the late Michael Hastings, McChrystal says Obama looked “uncomfortable and intimidated” when in the presence of military brass.
“I boarded a flight immediately, returning from Afghanistan to Washington, D.C. to address the issue with our Nation’s leadership. Less than 24 hours later I walked out of the Oval Office and in an instant, a profession that had been my life’s passion and focus came to an end,” McChrystal wrote Tuesday.
At the time of the incident, McChrystal apologized publicly for the incident, saying “I extend my sincerest apology for this profile. It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and should never have happened.” But in his LinkedIn post Tuesday, the general describes his portrayal in Hastings’ piece as being as “unfamiliar as it was unfair,” suggesting he now disputes the article.
McChrystal says he recovered from the shock of the incident by re-thinking the skills he had amassed in his decades as a soldier. “Like leaders in many walks of life, my business has been to serve with, and for, others,” he said. “By focusing on this simple truth, and allowing it to guide my decisions through a difficult time, this curveball ultimately opened as many doors as it closed.” Since leaving the Army McChrystal has started a company, hit the speaking circuit and taught at Yale.
I had the chance to see the Grand Canyon last week for the first time, and I can tell you this: it is really big. So big, in fact, that I led my partner on an endless walk along the rim, searching for the entrance a trail that would take us some of the way down the canyon. It turned out that I misread the map scale just a tiny bit. I think she may have forgiven me by now.MorePoll: One in Four ‘Solidly Skeptical’ of Global WarmingPortraits of the Planet for Earth DayMen Charged With Toppling Ancient Rock Formation Avoid Jail Time Huffington PostHere's An Updated Tally Of All The People Who Have Ever Died From A Marijuana Overdose Huffington PostMegan Fox, Brian Austin Green Enjoy Trip to Disneyland People
Of course, there’s more to the Grand Canyon than its sheer size: Its exposed rock reveals some 2 billion years of Earth’s geologic history, a span of time that is unfathomable by human beings (our species Homo sapiens is about 0.00005% as old as the oldest rock found in the Canyon). And even that time period covers less than half of the Earth’s age. Our planet is ancient, and the only constant over the course of its 4.54 billion-year history has been change—albeit change on a scale that almost always unfolds far too slow for us to realize it. If the Earth seems as solid as the ground beneath our feet, that’s only because we haven’t been around long enough to see just how unstable it really is.Popular Among Subscribers Barbara Brown Taylor Faces the Darkness Subscribe Shinzo Abe: The PatriotThe Blindness of Bigotry
That’s something to keep in mind as we celebrate the 45th Earth Day. Human civilization has flourished over the past ten thousand or so years largely because our species has been fortunate enough to arise during a Goldilocks (not too warm, not too cold) climatic period known as the Holocene. It’s an age that has proven ideal for agriculture and other activities that now support a human population of 7 billion-plus. But it hasn’t always been this way, as a new study that was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences demonstrates.
A team led by Yale University scientists used a new method to determine temperatures in the Earth’s past, measuring concentrations of rare isotopes in ancient fossil shells found in Antarctica. The researchers found that during the Eocene epoch—about 40 to 50 million years ago—temperatures in parts of Antarctica reached as high as 63 F (17 C), with an average of 14 C (57 F). That’s far above the mean annual temperature of Antarctica’s interior today, which registers at a frosty -70 F (-57 C), and closer to the kinds of temperatures you’d see in today’s San Francisco. Seawater around parts of Antarctica was even warmer, a balmy 72 F (22 C)—or about the same temperature as the tropical seas around Florida today.
If there were people living 40 million years ago—there weren’t, FYI—they could have been snorkeling off the coast of Antarctica’s Ross Island.
Why? Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere during the Eocene were much, much higher, perhaps as high as 2,000 ppm or more. Even though human beings have been pouring carbon into the atmosphere by the gigaton for decades, that’s still far higher than current levels, which stand at a little above 400 ppm. But even that increase has helped global temperatures rise by about 1.53 F (0.85 C) since 1880, and despite 45 Earth Days since the first in 1970, global carbon emissions just keep on growing, reaching a record 36 billion metric tons in 2013.
As Brad Plumer puts it over at Vox, our chances of keeping global temperature increase below 3.6 F (2 C)—a figure governments around the world have adopted as a climate change red line—seem vanishingly small:
If you look at the current rapid rise in global greenhouse-gas emissions, we’re on pace to blow past the 2°C limit by mid-century — and hit 4°C or more by the end. That’s well above anything once deemed “dangerous.” Getting back on track for 2°C would, at this point, entail the sort of drastic emissions cuts usually associated with economic calamities, like the collapse of the Soviet Union or the 2008 financial crisis. And we’d have to repeat those cuts for decades.
Needless to say, that’s unlikely. Barring some major political or technological revolution, our Earth will likely change more in the decades to come than it has for the entire lifespan of human civilization—and that change almost certainly won’t be for the better. As the PNAS study shows, the climate we think of as stable—the “long summer” of humanity—has been drastically different over the course of Earth’s deep past. The Earth will change. The question for the Earth Days to come is whether we can change, too.
One thing that’s never been clear about Amazon’s rumored 3D head-tracking smartphone is how it would rise above cheap gimmickry and actually prove useful.
By tilting the handset in different directions while the device is in use, Amazon’s interface will display additional information on the screen without the user having to touch or tap anything. This will not only be a point of differentiation for the company’s phone lineup, but also a way for larger devices such as Amazon’s upcoming 4.7-inch flagship phone to be operated more comfortably with one hand.
BGR’s “trusted sources” provide some examples of how the Amazon phone could work: You might be able to tilt the phone in the Kindle app to bring up Amazon’s X-Ray feature, which provides supplemental information about what you’re reading. You could potentially tilt in the messaging app to bring up a panel of camera options, or tilt in the maps app to see Yelp ratings atop your search results. Even the phone’s menu system could be tilt-based, letting users slide a panel of options onto the screen by twisting the phone.
The immediate concern here is that all the tilt detection would become an aggravation. You wouldn’t want a bunch of menus to pop out of nowhere just because you shifted your weight.
But I very much like the idea of tilting a big phone to bring far-flung elements within reach. Larger smartphone screens are wonderful for many reasons, but do require some contortion of the hands and thumbs for one-handed use. Being able to tilt a distant button into thumb range could be just the solution that no one’s thought of yet–as long as it actually works.
At a recent Q&A promoting The Amazing Spider-Man 2, actress Emma Stone calmly (and effectively) called out her co-star Andrew Garfield for a comment he didn’t seem to realize came across as sexist.
When a kid asked Garfield how Spiderman got his costume, the actor explained that the superhero sewed it himself — which, he said, is “kind of a feminine thing to do.” Stone, who happens to be Garfield’s girlfriend, interrupts him to ask, “It’s feminine how?”
Garfield immediately goes on the defensive, replying, “It’s amazing how you took that as an insult.” Stone remains calm, saying, “No, I’m not taking that as an insult, I’m asking how it’s feminine.”
Watch above as a very frazzled Garfield begins to backpedal.
Researchers say Chicago is the funniest city in America, according to an article in the New York Times‘s Sunday Review section. Below are the 10 funniest cities, according to the authors of The Humor Code, Peter McGraw, director of the University of Colorado’s Humor Research Lab, and Joel Warner:
4. Washington, DC
5. Portland, Ore.
6. New York City
7. Los Angeles
9. San Francisco
Based on interviews with experts in the funny business, the Times argues Chicago first secured its place at the top back in 1914, with Carl Sandburg’s humorous poem “Chicago”, while The Second City improv troupe (which launched Stephen Colbert) solidified it. Portland, Oregon, is on the list because of Fred Armisen’s IFC comedy Portlandia.
At the bottom of the ranking is Fort Worth, TX, followed by:
49. Jacksonville, FL
48. Miami, FL
47. San Antonio, TX
46. Arlington, TX
45. Tulsa, OK
44. Virginia Beach, VA
43. Las Vegas, NV
42. Tucson, AZ
41. El Paso, TX
40. Fresno, CA
Here’s the methodology for the “humor algorithm” that produced this lineup, according to the book’s website (which boasts the full list of the 50 funniest cities):
- Frequency of visits to Cheezburger comedy websites, such as Lolcats and FAIL Blog
- Number of comedy clubs per square mile in each city
- Traveling comedians’ ratings of each city’s comedy-club audiences
- Number of famous comedians born in each city, divided by city population
- Number of famous funny tweeters living in each city, divided by city population
- Number of comedy radio stations available in each city
- Frequency of humor-related web searches originating in each city
Crippling power cuts are a frequent and frustrating occurrence in Pakistan, but a new ambitious solar project promises to harness the sun’s heat to tackle the country’s growing energy crisis.
The government has spent $5 million to put in place a solar park in the desolate, desert area near Bahawalpur to benefit the entire Punjab province – the largest and most populous in the country, the AFP reported.
The government says the QuaideAzam Solar Energy Park, capable one day of generating up to 1,000 megawatts of electricity, will be one of the largest of its kind in the world.
In addition to the local government, private entrepeuners are taking interest in turning the scorched earth into a sea of solar panels.
“You see in my country we have a lot of sunshine, here we have long days of sun,” said Raja Waqar of Islamabad-based Safe Solar Power. Waqar’s company plans to invest $10 million to build a 10 MW project in this area. “It’s cheap and that’s why a lot of people believe in it.”
Pakistan is going through one of the worst energy crises in its history. At a time when a World Bank report suggested that around 44 per cent of Pakistan’s households are not connected to the grid, the country still falls short by providing only 13,000 megawatts of electricity out of the 16,000 needed to cater to daily demand, the state-owned Pakistan Electric Power Company said.
The project is due to be completed by the end of this year.
A low, breathy voice is what we’ve decided as a society is “sexy,” whether you’re male or female. But according to a new study, men are not very good at it.
In the study, published in Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 20 men and 20 women were asked to use a sexy voice, and 40 people listened to determine whether they were successful. Women were much better at it than men, by lowering their voice and adding a touch of hoarseness. Men could not achieve that. “In fact, although not significantly, it got a bit worse when men tried to sound sexy,” said study author Susan Hughes, a associate professor of psychology at Albright College in a statement.
So, why is it so hard for men to turn women on with their voice? Well, the researchers think it may have to do with mate selection. Men tend to care more about attractiveness when it comes to finding the right partner, so women have evolved to learn to play up their attractive qualities–like their sexy voice–in order snatch a mate and beat out the other competition.
The research also looked at other voice manipulation abilities and found that both genders are successful at making their voices sound smarter, but men outperform women when it comes to making their voice sound more confident.
To attract women, men may just need to lower their voices instead of trying to sound sensual. Other research suggests that women like men with deep voices because it makes them sound bigger.