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Updated: 16 min 19 sec ago

Texas Seizes Polygamist Group’s Secluded Ranch

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 18:54

(ELDORADO, Texas) — State agents have seized a polygamous group’s Texas ranch where hundreds of children were removed during a 2008 FBI raid prompted by child sex abuse allegations.

The group’s leader, Warren Jeffs, is serving life in prison after being convicted of sexually assaulting two girls he took as child brides.

The Texas Department of Public Safety says its agents took possession of the secluded property near Eldorado on Thursday. In a statement, DPS says authorities were helping the remaining eight adults living on the ranch leave and to do an inventory.

A judge in January ordered the forfeiture of the Yearning For Zion Ranch, which was owned by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

The state sought to seize the property over allegations of mismanagement by Jeffs.

Categories: Magazines

Colin Firth Says the Wet Pride and Prejudice Shirt is a Fake

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 18:23

Colin Firth is kind of puzzled about why his wet Darcy shirt is such a big deal. The scene in which he emerges from the lake in the BBC’s 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice was voted by British viewers as one of the 100 Greatest TV Moments of all time. He and Darcy were so conjoined in people’s minds that several of his subsequent roles made fun of his Austenesque heart-throbbiness. But as close watchers of the old series know, he never actually did emerge from the lake. And now he says the shirt, one of seven made for the series, was never really that wet. Is there no end to the media’s deceit?

Firth, who visited TIME to talk about his new historically based movie The Railway Man, a sort of love-story-that-becomes-a-war-story, also addressed his reputation as an ideal romantic leading man. According to him, it’s all about context: if someone creates a story about a dreamy person and you are cast in that role, you become dreamy. He claims anyone could be dreamy. Even Marty Feldman. “Although,” adds Firth, “he doesn’t particularly do it for me.”

And in a development that could well make Pride and Prejudice fans rethink their veneration of him, Firth revealed in a fuller interview with TIME that subscribers can read here, that, until he was cast as Darcy, he had never read a word of Austen.

Watch the full interview below.

 

Categories: Magazines

Michaels Says Malware Compromised Up to 2.6 Million Payment Cards

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 18:20

Michaels Stores Inc. announced in a press release Thursday that as many as 2.6 million payment cards used at Michaels and Aaron Brothers craft stores may have been affected by a security breach. They say they have so far received “limited” reports of fraud.

A criminal attacked the largest arts and crafts chain in the U.S. using sophisticated malware. The company learned of a possible data security breach in January but did not discover the details until after several months of investigation. Michaels Stores said they had identified and fully contained the incident.

 

Categories: Magazines

Influx of Refugees Fans Xenophobia Among Some Lebanese

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 18:01

When Dima Wannous, a 32-year-old Syrian novelist and daughter of the renowned Syrian playwright Saadallah Wannous, hailed a taxi in Beirut on April 15 she did not expect her ride would end with the Lebanese driver assaulting her. Everything was going fine until a radio news bulletin mentioned that three journalists, working for Al-Manar, a TV station operated by the Shia militant group Hizballah, had been killed while covering the war in neighboring Syria. Wannous made a casual comment on the harrowing political conflict linking the two countries.

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“The Sayed should not interfere in Syria,” said the driver, referring to Hasan Nasrallah, Hizballah’s secretary-general, by his honorific title. “He should let the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham [an al-Qaeda-affiliated rebel group] grind you and your children to little pieces. Get out of here and go back to Syria, you dogs.” The driver then turned around and punched her in the face, according to her account, which she later posted on Facebook and confirmed in an email.

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Such incidents are becoming increasingly common in Lebanon with the rise of the Syrian refugee population, which many Lebanese blame for a recent rise in crime.

“The increase in numbers has increased xenophobia,” says Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “We have definitely seen an increase in things like locally-imposed curfews.” He cautions that much of what is pinned on Syrians is based on unfounded rumors, and that local politicians had been blaming Syrians for the country’s problems long before the arrival of large numbers of refugees. “To date, I have yet to see any statistical evidence that the dramatic increase in numbers has had a large impact on crime. There are anecdotes and plenty of fear spreading, but little hard data,” says Houry.

Still, obscene graffiti exhorting Syrians to go home is a common sight. At least four mayors have imposed strict curfews on Syrian workers residing in small towns. Anecdotes abound of altercations between Syrians and Lebanese ranging from snide remarks to outright physical assault. The driver who lashed out at Wannous was pro-Hizballah, she claims. Passersby stood by watching in silence as Wannous was unceremoniously thrown out of the car marking a grim end to her brief visit to Beirut from Istanbul, where she lives.

Hizballah has sustained considerable losses in Syria while fighting alongside the Syrian government and against a largely Sunni insurgency. As a result, many in Hizballah’s mostly Shiite constituency in Lebanon harbor deep resentment toward Sunni Syrians, whom they have come to view as a dangerous threat to their very existence. A recent spate of car bombings targeting majority Shiite neighborhoods in Lebanon has further exacerbated existing schisms.

Some in Lebanon fear that Syrians will permanently implant themselves and compound economic woes. The constant trickle of refugees is putting a strain on a war-damaged infrastructure, stretching the country’s scarce resources and worsening its ailing economy. And as Lebanon struggles to cope, some prominent public figures have suggested that refugees be forcibly relocated back to “safe” areas in war-torn Syria.

“Why not install some camps for them in Syrian territory where there is security? The area of Syria is 20 times greater than that of Lebanon,” said Cardinal Beshara al-Rai, the head of Lebanon’s Maronite Christian Church, earlier this month at a press conference. “They take all the work from the Lebanese people.”

Some Lebanese politicians have expressed the same sentiment. Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil has argued against allowing Syrians to stay in Lebanon in the longterm, and has also proposed resettling them outside Lebanese territory.

But some Lebanese, more sympathetic to the plight of their neighbors, have accused corrupt politicians of fostering apprehension about Syrians in order to deflect attention from their own failures to remedy the country’s social, economic and political problems. Syrian refugees have become convenient scapegoats, they say.

The discrimination has become so pervasive of late that it has prompted sympathetic Lebanese citizens to rephrase offensive graffiti, create educational videos and launch a social media campaign to counteract the prevailing discourse that underpins negative perceptions of Syrians among some Lebanese.

In a video widely circulated by activists, young Lebanese people appear in succession, against a plain background, as they utter simple statements explaining why the country’s ills cannot be blamed on Syrians. “If my country can’t be self-sufficient, the fault lies with the authorities. It shouldn’t blame its failures on the refugees,” says one young woman in the video.

On a Facebook page called The Campaign in Support of Syrians Facing Racism, created earlier this month, a Lebanese man has posted a photograph of himself in which he’s holding a banner that reads: “I once met a Syrian who made us both proud.”

Houry thinks such campaigns send a strong message to both refugees and their host communities and should be amplified. “But, ultimately, Lebanon’s decision-makers need to develop a real policy towards refugees which would promote their rights while also objectively assessing the impact of the refugee crisis on host communities,” he said.

But not all of the anti-Syrian animosity can be solely attributed to economic and security concerns, sectarian tension or even politicians’ cunning statements. It is also deeply rooted in old grievances. Many Lebanese citizens have not forgotten the Syrian security apparatus’ violent interference in their political affairs, a meddling that lasted for nearly three decades following the end of Lebanon’s 15-year civil war. Damascus would often empower favored Lebanese politicians who in return facilitated Syria’s infringement on Lebanon’s sovereignty.

Violence periodically erupts in some overburdened areas. Last December, residents of Qsarnaba, a village in eastern Lebanon, set a tent encampment on fire after accusing Syrians of raping a mentally-disabled Lebanese man. The allegations turned out to be false. A doctor who examined the mentally-disabled man saw no evidence of rape, and a Lebanese local resident later told the press that the perpetrators had cooked up this pretext to chase out the refugees from their town.

With the Syrian conflict now in its fourth year, the situation could worsen as the influx of refugees continues. “There is not a single country in the world today that is shouldering as much in proportion to its size as Lebanon,” said Ninette Kelley, the regional representative for Lebanon for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, during a recent visit to Washington. “If this country is not bolstered, then the very real prospect of it collapsing and the conflict of Syria spreading full force to Lebanon becomes much more likely.”

Categories: Magazines

The Miraculous Life of Gabriel García Márquez

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 17:50

When Gabriel García Márquez was born, in 1927, in the sleepy little town of Aracataca, not far from Colombia’s Caribbean coast, there were certain established fixities in the world of letters. The centers of gravity were Europe and North America, with a few auxiliary poles in Wellington, perhaps, or Calcutta. The novel, just beginning to be shaken up by Joyce and Woolf, told mainly of carriages moving under birch trees and conversations on rainy boulevards. Its characters, as often as not, were the people you might meet at dinner-parties thrown for Count Tolstoy or Marcel Proust.

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By the time García Márquez died at 87 on April 17, all that had changed, and largely because of him. A new continent had been discovered, so it seemed, rich with tamarind trees and “pickled iguana,” and folk cultures everywhere had an epic voice. Villagers could be imagined seeking daguerreotypes of God, and men arriving on doorsteps amidst a halo of yellow butterflies. Macondo, a never-never town of almond trees and “banana wars” (a lot like Aracataca) had become as much a part of the reader’s neighborhood as Yoknapatawpha County or St. Petersburg.

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The story behind this was, of course, half-miraculous. The eldest of 11 children, “Gabo,” as he was universally called, was born to a telegraph operator and a colonel’s daughter. When his parents moved to another city in search of work, he was left behind, a tropical Pip, to spend his early years with relatives. From his grandfather he heard tales of fatal duels and his country’s unending civil wars; from his aunts and grandmother, he absorbed all the spells and spirits sovereign in a world in which Arab and Indian and African cultures mixed. Scarcely was he out of his teens than the boy was publishing short stories in a newspaper, while studying law with a view to help the disenfranchised. The newspaper for which he also wrote columns was called—too perfectly— El Universal.

One day, after 18 months of continuous writing, he completed a book, his fifth, so large that his wife Mercedes had to pawn her hair dryer and an electric heater to pay for postage to send it to the publisher. Cien Años de Soledad was published in 1967 (such was the interest in Latin writing then that it did not even make it into English till three years later), and Pablo Neruda, South America’s reigning Nobel laureate, pronounced it “perhaps the greatest revelation in the Spanish language since the Don Quixote of Cervantes.” He could as easily have called it a narrative Alhambra, a palace in the Spanish tradition but fluent with foreign shapes and dizzy curlicues amidst the water and the orange trees.

One Hundred Years of Solitude promptly established García Márquez as the defining member of what was called the “boom” in Latin American writing and a movement known as “magic realism”; yet, really, he was throwing open the gates for writers from forgotten everywheres—you can see his influence in India’s Salman Rushdie, in Nigeria’s Ben Okri, even in Murray Bail from Australia.

He was, essentially, a trafficker in wonder. “Incredible things are happening in the world,” says a sometime alchemist in the first chapter of One Hundred Years of Solitude, as he sees a gypsy’s dentures; García Márquez’s realization was that the world of the alchemist, the dew still on it, could be equally incredible to the denture-maker. He spun out his tales of everyday miracles with such exuberance that 30 million copies of the book were not just bought around the world, but read.

Not one to stay put, he followed that imaginative dawn with The Autumn of the Patriarch, an unflinchingly political novel that consisted of just six paragraphs, each 30 pages or more in length, and his tales of unexpected innocence were forever intertwined with more hard-headed stories of the solitude that comes with power. Realistic enough to be a true romantic, he treated dreams and revolutions with equal weight: if his fabulous flights were always, he insisted, just the documentary work of a reporter with an eye for marvels, his non-fiction accounts of corruption such as News of a Kidnapping featured secret messages transmitted on TV programs and kidnappers offering talismans to their hostages. A friend to presidents as well as revolutionaries, Garcia Marquez never abandoned the public world: even in his seventies, 17 years after winning the Nobel Prize, the most famous man in Colombia was writing articles like a cub reporter.

Though García Márquez lived in Paris, Mexico City, Havana and Barcelona, he was proudly claimed by Colombia—by all South America—as one who had taken an area too often associated with murders and drugs, and infused it with an immortal light: a literary Columbus discovering a New World that would soon belong to us all. When he fell ill, therefore, in the summer of 1999, much of the continent seemed to hold its breath, urging “el maestro” back to health. And when he died on Thursday in his home in Mexico City, it did not seem impossible that a man could open his mouth, and songbirds would fly out.

Pico Iyer has written nonfiction books on globalism, Japan, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, and forgotten places, and novels on Revolutionary Cuba and Islamic mysticism. He regularly writes on global culture and the news for TIME, on literature for The New York Review of Books and magazines around the world.

Categories: Magazines

Ukraine’s ‘Jew Register’ Either a Hoax or a Crude Extortion Scheme

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 17:31

The news of pro-Russian thugs trying to impose a tax on Jews first appeared on Wednesday morning on a small, local news website in eastern Ukraine called Novosti Donbassa. Along with a photo of a neo-Nazi throwing the Hitler salute, the website offered the story of three masked goons hanging around a synagogue in the city of Donetsk and handing out anti-Semitic fliers to local Jews. The site even ran a photo of the flier, which demanded that Jewish residents of Donetsk show up to “register,” pay a fee of “50 American dollars,” and offer proof of any property they own in the region. It all looked like a crude joke.

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But even though Novosti Donbassa is not the most reliable source even by the less than exacting standards of Ukrainian media, the story was apparently too scandalous to ignore. It ricocheted around the Internet on Wednesday before winding up in the Israeli press and, finally, on the website of USA Today. By Thursday evening, the article had reached U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who commented on it during high-level talks in Geneva. “In the year 2014, after all of the miles traveled and all of the journey of history, this is not just intolerable, it’s grotesque. It is beyond unacceptable,” Kerry told reporters after talks meant to resolve the separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine. By that point, this flier was making news around the world.

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But even if it looked like the start of some racist purge, the flier was more likely part of an ill-conceived extortion plot or a propaganda ploy against the separatists. For one thing, the sign-off at the bottom of the flier — “Yours, the People’s Governor of Donetsk, Denis Pushilin” — seemed off. This was a reference to the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, which was formed a week and a half ago by a group of armed separatists who seized the headquarters of the regional government. Theirs is perhaps the smallest breakaway republic in the world, as its territory is confined to that one building and a small patch of the plaza around it. Since April 7, they have barricaded themselves inside with a cache of weapons and demanded a referendum on secession from Ukraine. At the bottom of the flier was a reproduction of the stamp these separatists use on the press badges they have issued to journalists.

Denis Pushilin, however, is not the man who calls himself the “People’s Governor” of this pseudo-state. That would be Pavel Gubarev, who bestowed that title on himself in early March, during a separatist rally in the center of Donetsk. Three days later, he was arrested on charges of separatism and taken to jail in Kiev, where he remains. The alleged author of the anti-Semitic flier, Pushilin, is his ally and comrade-in-arms. But he has never gone by the title of “People’s Governor.” (His preferred title is the “co-chairman of the temporary coalition government” that he and his allies declared inside that building.) For his part, Pushilin denied on Thursday that he or his organization had anything to do with these fliers. “In reality this is a fake, and a pretty unsuccessful one,” Pushilin told the news network Russia Today. “It was all done with Photoshop.”

In the past few days, he added, similar fliers have been handed around to businessmen and foreign students in Donetsk. So all of this seems to be part of rather sloppy extortion scheme. If any separatists are behind it, they have probably done more to discredit themselves than to earn any extra cash.

The separatists’ ideology rests on two claims that were hard to defend even without their new anti-Semitic label. First, they have said that Ukraine’s revolution in February brought fascists to power in Kiev, and second, they have insisted that armed separatism is the only way to keep those fascists from taking over eastern Ukraine. At the entrance to their “People’s Republic,” on top of a pile of tires, is a poster with a big, crossed-out swastika and the words “No Fascism.” So for them to be seen as anti-Semites is a particularly painful irony.

That was part of the reason suspicion fell on their political opponents as soon as the fliers started making the rounds online. Dmitro Tkachenko, who helped organize a large rally in Donetsk on Thursday to support the unity of Ukraine, called the flier “a brilliant piece of disinformation” against the separatists. Asked if one of his fellow activists for Ukrainian unity could have staged it, Tkachenko says it’s possible. “But this is a sophisticated trick, and to be honest, I don’t think any of our folks are that smart,” he tells TIME.

More likely, Tkachenko says, the fliers were the work of an opportunistic splinter group, from separatists who just want to make money from their newfound impunity. Over the past week, they have managed to seize numerous government buildings in Donetsk, most recently the city hall on Wednesday, without any resistance from the police. “But their movement is very divided,” says Tkachenko. It includes various groups of armed thugs who answer to no single leader. So it’s quite possible that some of the more entrepreneurial goons among them just felt like making a bit of extortion money on the side.

Instead, they seem to have intensified the backlash against all their fellow separatists. The rally on Thursday gathered at least two thousand people, not bad considering that the local police had warned locals to stay away, citing concerns of a separatist attack on the demonstration. As for the Jewish community, its members have no intention of showing up to register their property with the vigilantes of the People’s Republic or anyone else. “It looked like a pretty stupid provocation,” says Larissa Loyko, a representative of civil society organization the Jewish Foundation of Ukraine. She suspects the separatists may indeed have been behind it, because Jewish leaders openly supported Ukraine’s revolution this winter. “But this is not the kind of matter that can be turned into a prank,” she says. “Someone will have to answer for this.”

Categories: Magazines

Weibo Chief: We’ll Be Watching Facebook and Twitter

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 17:24

The social network commonly referred to as the “Twitter of China” saw huge gains during its first day on the market in the U.S during a particularly rough month for both IPOs and tech stocks. Shares of Weibo, a subsidiary of the Chinese Internet company Sina, leapt 19 percent Thursday, from an IPO price of $17 to $20.24 when markets closed.

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Weibo quickly earned back some of the market valuation it had lost by pricing at the very low-end of its IPO range of $17 to $19. The company raised about $285 million Wednesday night in its IPO, less than the $380 million originally anticipated. But caution seemed to pay off with an offering that saw an impressive first-day pop. “The IPO market is kind of soft in the last couple of weeks and the [tech] sector was also hit hard,” Charles Chao, chairman of Weibo, told TIME just before Weibo shares began trading on the Nasdaq. “It’s not perfect in terms of timing, but relatively speaking, we’re pretty happy about this pricing actually.”

Weibo, like Twitter, is a mostly public social network through which celebrities and ordinary Chinese people discuss news and personal happenings in their lives. The platform boasts 144 million monthly active users, 70 percent of whom use the company’s mobile app. Also like Twitter, Weibo has debuted on the public markets as an unprofitable business. The company lost $47.4 million in the first quarter of 2014, though it posted a small profit in the previous quarter.

Weibo will now compete directly with social giants like Facebook and Twitter for the attention of American investors. For now, they operate in different markets, with Facebook and Twitter banned in China and Weibo’s English-language site having only a small presence in foreign countries. But Facebook has expressed interest in China in the past, and Chao wouldn’t rule out a potential expansion of Weibo to appeal beyond Chinese users in the future. “These are great companies with a lot of innovations and powerful user bases,” he said of Twitter and Facebook. “We from time to time will look into their innovations to see whether some of these can be applied to the Chinese market.”

Excitement surrounding Weibo’s IPO had deflated in recent weeks partially due to censorship policies in China that could ultimately stem user growth. Chao dismissed such concerns, noting that Internet companies have to regulate themselves to some extent in every country, not just China. “We always want to be compliant with the laws and regulations in China,” he said. “I don’t see too much problem there.”

More broadly, Weibo was just a victim of bad timing, arriving on the market during an overall downturn in tech stocks that has seen the tech-heavy Nasdaq slide 6.5 percent from its March peak. Earlier Chinese IPOs this year, like the IT training company Tarena, have underperformed.

Weibo, though, managed to fight past these headwinds and achieve a successful offering. The strong IPO may ratchet up the fervor for Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant that is prepping a huge offering in the U.S. later this year. It could also provide some stability to the tech sector, which has yet to have a hugely successful IPO since Twitter’s runaway success last November.

 

Categories: Magazines

Korean Air Jet Hits 2 Light Poles at LAX

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 17:24

A Korean Air A380 superjumbo jet filled with hundreds of passengers hit two light poles while taxiing to its gate at Los Angeles International Airport Wednesday.

An airline spokeswoman told the Associated Press that airport operations directed the plane to a taxiway that was too narrow. The airplane’s right wing was scratched and two, 30-foot light poles were scratched, but none of the 384 people aboard were injured during the incident.

[AP]

Categories: Magazines

Execution, Interrupted: Killer’s Life Spared Moments Before Hanging

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 17:20

Balal was standing on a chair, blindfolded and with a noose around his neck, when the mother of the man he stabbed to death seven years ago approached him, the Guardian reports. According to some interpretations of sharia law, the victim’s family participates in the punishment by pushing the chair from under the condemned man. But this time, the mother of the victim slapped Balal across the face and then helped the victim’s father remove the noose.

Photographer Arash Khamooshi captured the unexpected moment on April 15 in the northern Iranian city of Nowshahr. Khamooshi was following the public execution from the beginning, when Balal was dragged to the gallows in front of a crowd of onlookers that included Balal’s mother. And Khamooshi captured the aftermath, when the mothers of the murderer and the victim embraced.

But while Balal’s fortune is the story of forgiveness, hundreds of other condemned Iranians are not as lucky. An Amnesty International report released earlier this year found that Iran put to death at least 369 people and likely several hundreds of others — more people than any country in the world except China. Last week, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, rebuked Iranian President Hasan Rouhani for failing to improve human rights, including its high level of executions.

Khamooshi’s mother had already received calls from across the country, including from the prominent sportscaster Adel Ferdowsipour, to forgive Balal, and she said her son came to her in a dream days before the execution to tell her that he was in a good place and that she should not avenge his death. Her ultimate decision spares Balal the death penalty according to Iranian law, but does not necessarily free him from prison.

Categories: Magazines

Korean Air A380 Hits 2 Light Poles At LA Airport

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 17:05

(LOS ANGELES) — A Korean Air A380 superjumbo jet hit two light poles while taxiing to its gate at a remote end of Los Angeles International Airport with hundreds of passengers aboard.

Airline spokeswoman Penny Pfaelzer says the flight arrived from Seoul Wednesday afternoon with 384 people aboard. She says an airport operations vehicle guided the jet onto a taxiway that wasn’t wide enough.

The plane’s right wing was found to be scratched but no one was injured. Two 30-foot light poles were bent in the incident.

The A380 is the world’s largest commercial airliner, carrying passengers in a double-deck configuration. It has a wingspan of nearly 262 feet.

A Boeing 747 replaced the A380 for a flight to Seoul that was scheduled for late Wednesday night. The flight was delayed 11 hours.

Categories: Magazines

S&P Has Best Week Since Last Summer

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 17:05

Stocks bounced back from a poor start to the month and ended the shortened week ahead, with the S&P recording its best week since July.

The S&P rose .1 percent to 1,8645 Thursday and gained 2.7 percent on the week, which ends Thursday ahead of the Good Friday holiday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down slightly on the day, but both the Dow and the Nasdaq were up more than 2% for the week.

Stocks were buoyed by a series of strong earnings reports this week, including from GE and Morgan Stanley.

But a couple heavyweights bucked the trend. Google and IBM both reported poorer than expected results and saw their stocks tumble, with Google down 3.7% Thursday and IBM down 3.3%.

Categories: Magazines

Watch Colin Firth Swear in Italian

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 17:04

Colin Firth’s wife is Italian. Therefore Colin Firth speaks Italian. When Firth dropped by TIME’s offices to promote his new movie The Railway Man, he acknowledged that he spoke it well enough to make an Italian movie, as long as he were playing an English guy. Firth’s particularly fond of Italian insults, which he claims are more precise than the ones in the language you are currently reading.

In Firth’s new movie, which also stars Nicole Kidman, he plays a former POW who worked on the horrific Thai Burma railway during World War 2. (This one of the most brutal episodes of the Pacific theater, but is not as well-known as some of the horrors of Europe.) Firth’s character is based on a real person by the name of Eric Lomax, a railway enthusiast who survived the war but not without a marriage-damaging amount of emotional damage. Lomax is bent on revenge and the movie follows what happens after he finds one of his tormentors showing tourists around his old prison camp.

In the fuller interview, which subscribers can read here, Firth also talks about the horror of naked costars and what he feels about his dreamy reputation.

Watch a longer version of the interview below.

Categories: Magazines

Chelsea Clinton Is Pregnant

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 16:52

Chelsea Clinton is expecting her first child, the former first daughter announced Thursday.

Clinton, speaking at the “Girls: A No Ceilings Conversation” event with her mother Hillary Clinton, said she and her husband Marc Mezvinsky are looking forward to parenthood.

“Marc and I are very excited that we have our first child arriving later this year, and I certainly feel all the better whether it’s a girl or a boy that she or he will grow up in a world full of so many strong young female leaders,” she said. “So thank you for inspiring me and inspiring future generations including the one that we’ll be lucky enough to welcome into our family later this year.”

Clinton insiders have said a Chelsea pregnancy is the “big wildcard” for whether Hillary Clinton will pull the trigger on a 2016 presidential campaign.

The daughter of former President Bill Clinton and former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has been in public life for more than 30 years, nodded to her parents as role models for her own parenting. “I just hope that I will be as good a mom to my child and hopefully children as my mother was to me,” she said.

Clinton had hinted last year that she and her husband were trying to get pregnant. In an interview with Glamour magazine about the Clinton Foundation and her plans for 2014, she said: “We sat down and said, ‘Here’s what we want to do.’ The first thing on the list was simple: We want, God willing, to start a family. So we decided we were going to make 2014 the Year of the Baby. … And please call my mother and tell her that. She asks us about it every single day.”

After the big reveal, Clinton let her Twitter followers know the news:

Marc and I are so thrilled to be expecting our first child in the fall! Thank you for all of the kind words!—
Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) April 17, 2014

Both grandparents-to-be Bill and Hillary Clinton also tweeted shortly after the announcement:

Excited to add a new line to my Twitter bio…grandfather-to-be! @hillaryclinton and I are so happy for Chelsea and Marc!—
Bill Clinton (@billclinton) April 17, 2014

My most exciting title yet: Grandmother-To-Be! @billclinton and I are thrilled that Chelsea and Marc are expecting their first child!—
Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) April 17, 2014

-with reporting from Zeke J Miller

Categories: Magazines

Your Baby Is a Racist—and Why You Can Live With That

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 16:51

You always suspected babies were no good, didn’t you? They’re loud, narcissistic, spoiled, volatile and not exactly possessed of good table manners. Now it turns out that they’re racists too.

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The latest evidence for that decidedly unlovely trait comes from research out of the University of Washington that actually sought to explore one of babies’ more admirable characteristics: their basic sense of fairness. In the study, 15-month-old toddlers watched an experimenter with a collection of four small toys share them either evenly or unevenly with two other adult volunteers. When allowed to choose which experimenters the babies wanted to play with later, 70% of them preferred the ones who had divided the toys evenly.

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Nice, but there was an exception: when the two adults who were receiving the evenly or unevenly divided toys were of different races and the race of the one who got more toys matched the babies’ own, the 70% preference for the fair distributor dropped and the share of babies wanting to play with the unfair one rose. The implication: unfairness is bad, unless someone from your clan is getting the extra goodies.

“If all babies care about is fairness, they would always pick the fair distributor,” said University of Washington associate professor psychology of Jessica Somerville, in a statement that accompanied the study. “But we’re also seeing that they’re interested in consequences for their own group members.”

OK, so that doesn’t speak well of human nature at even its sweetest and most ingenuous stage. But here’s the thing: if we weren’t rank racists when we were very little, the species probably never would have survived. The idea of in-group bias is well established in behavioral science, and it has its roots long ago, in humanity’s tribal era. The fact is, the people in your own band are more likely to nurture you, care for you and protect you from harm, while the people from the tribe over the hill are more likely to, well, eat you.

As soon as you become old enough to toddle away from the campfire and wander out on your own, it thus pays to recognize, at a glance, what an alien other looks like. Sometimes it’s dress or hairstyle that provides the telltale cue, but just as often it’s skin tone, hair texture and the shape of facial features. It was the human tendency to migrate and settle in parts of the world with varying climates that caused these physical differences to emerge in the first place.

“We didn’t start off as a multi-racial species,” psychologist Liz Phelps of New York University told me in my upcoming book about narcissism. “We have races simply because we dispersed.” Once we did disperse, however, those differences in appearance—skin tone especially—turbocharged our suspicion of the outsider.

A study by psychologist Yarrow Dunham, now at Yale University, showed that color is an especially salient feature for very young people to overlook. Children in a classroom experiment who were divided into two groups and given two different color t-shirts to wear were, later on, much likelier to remember good things about all of the children who wore their color shirt and bad things about the ones who wore the other. “Kids will begin to show these preferences right away, in the lab, on the spot,” Dunham told me. “It’s not just a preference, it’s also a learning bias—the children actually learn differentially about the in-group and the out-group.”

Sometimes, for small children, there can be a certain sweetness to the bias, since they may feel concern for the person of a different race, the assumption being that anyone who doesn’t look like them must be unhappy about that fact. When my older daughter was three or four years old, we approached an African American cashier in a store and she asked her, “Are you sad that you don’t have light skin?” I winced and began to splutter an apology, but the woman answered, “No, honey. Are you said that you don’t have dark skin?” When my daughter said no, the woman responded, “So you see? We’re both happy with who we are.”

The sweet phase of simply noticing racial differences fades, to be replaced either by a higher awareness of the meaningless of such matters or a toxic descent into assigning ugly, negative values to them. Which way any one baby goes depends on upbringing, community, era, temperament and a whole range of other variables. What we will never be, like it or not, is an entirely post-racial species. Our better impulses may wish that weren’t so, but our ancient impulses will always test us. They are tests we must, from babyhood, learn to pass.

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French Military Frees 5 Aid Workers In North Mali

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 16:48

(PARIS) — French special forces backed by helicopters led a pre-dawn operation Thursday and freed five humanitarian aid workers who had been held captive by a “terrorist group” — killing about 10 of the alleged militants, officials said.

Working off intelligence tips, the French forces intercepted two pickup trucks carrying the hostage-takers and their captors north of the historic city of Timbuktu, one of three major towns in a vast region on the Sahara’s southern rim where the five went missing Feb. 8, said Col. Gilles Jaron, a French military spokesman.

In a joint statement earlier Thursday, the presidents of France and Mali said the five Malian aid workers — including four with the International Committee for the Red Cross —were in good health. Jaron said that two of the aid workers had sustained “light injuries” and would be soon handed over to Malian authorities.

Valery Mbaoh Nana, a spokesman for the Red Cross in Mali, told The Associated Press: “They are with us in Gao,” referring to northern Mali’s largest town. “We don’t know who had held them until now.”

Jaron declined comment about the suspected identity of the hostage-takers, and declined to indicate the source of the intelligence. The presidential statement didn’t identify the “terrorist group” responsible. But remnants of al-Qaida’s north Africa branch — largely purged from northern Mali last year by French forces — remain active in the area.

Remi Libessart, a spokesman for the continuing French operation in Mali, said: “We don’t know exactly which groups they (the hostages) were with. It’s always complicated because these terrorists change groups all the time.”

In the operation, French special forces first fired warning shots and came under return fire, Jaron said.

“We neutralized a terrorist group of about 10 people,” he said, adding that an analysis of the operation was ongoing. “Whenever you free hostages, it’s always a success.”

___

Eds: Baba Ahmed contributed from Bamako, Mali

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Astronomers Spot Most Earth-Like Planet Yet

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 16:46

(LOS ANGELES) — Astronomers have discovered what they say is the most Earth-like planet yet detected — a distant, rocky world that’s similar in size to our own and exists in the Goldilocks zone where it’s not too hot and not too cold for life.

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The find, announced Thursday, excited planet hunters who have been scouring the Milky Way galaxy for years for potentially habitable places outside our solar system.

“This is the best case for a habitable planet yet found. The results are absolutely rock solid,” University of California, Berkeley astronomer Geoff Marcy, who had no role in the discovery, said in an email.

The planet was detected by NASA’s orbiting Kepler telescope, which studies the heavens for subtle changes in brightness that indicate an orbiting planet is crossing in front of a star. From those changes, scientists can calculate a planet’s size and make certain inferences about its makeup.

The newfound object, dubbed Kepler-186f, circles a red dwarf star 500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. A light-year is almost 6 trillion miles.

The planet is about 10 percent larger than Earth and may very well have liquid water — a key ingredient for life — on its surface, scientists said. That is because it resides at the outer edge of the habitable temperature zone around its star — the sweet spot where lakes, rivers or oceans can exist without freezing solid or boiling away.

The find “is special because we already know that a planet of this size and in the habitable zone is capable of supporting life as we know it,” lead researcher Elisa Quintana of NASA’s Ames Research Center said at a news conference.

The discovery was detailed in Friday’s issue of the journal Science. It was based on observations that were made before the Kepler telescope was crippled by a mechanical failure last year.

The planet probably basks in an orange-red glow from its star and is most likely cooler than Earth, with an average temperature slightly above freezing, “similar to dawn or dusk on a spring day,” Marcy said.

Quintana said she considers the planet to be more of an “Earth cousin” than a twin because it circles a star that is smaller and dimmer than our sun. While Earth revolves around the sun in 365 days, this planet completes an orbit of its star every 130 days.

Scientists cannot say for certain whether it has an atmosphere, but if it does, it probably contains a lot of carbon dioxide, outside experts said.

“Don’t take off your breathing mask if you ever land there,” said Lisa Kaltenegger, a Harvard and Max Planck Institute astronomer who had no connection to the research.

Despite the differences, “now we can point to a star and know that there really is a planet very similar to the Earth, at least in size and temperature,” Harvard scientist David Charbonneau, who was not part of the team, said in an email.

If the planet is habitable, photosynthesis may be possible, said astronomer Victoria Meadows of the University of Washington, Seattle.

“There are Earth plants that would be quite happy with that,” she said.

Since its launch in 2009, Kepler has confirmed 961 planets, but only a few dozen are in the habitable zone. Most are giant gas balls like Jupiter and Saturn, and not ideal places for life. Scientists in recent years have also found planets slightly larger than Earth in the Goldilocks zone called “super Earths,” but it is unclear if they are rocky.

The latest discovery is the closest in size to Earth than any other known world in the habitable region.

Astronomers may never know for certain whether Kepler-186f can sustain life. The planet is too far away even for next-generation space telescopes like NASA’s James Webb, set for launch in 2018, to study it in detail.

NASA has not yet decided whether to keep using the crippled Kepler telescope on a scaled-back basis. While the instrument may never detect another planet, scientists have a backlog of observations to wade through.

___

Seth Borenstein contributed to this report.

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Report: iPhone to Get Built-in Song Identification Features

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 16:45

Bloomberg is reporting that the next version of Apple’s iPhone software — iOS 8 — will bring with it the ability to tell you which song is playing within earshot. The feature will reportedly leverage Shazam technology, which is already available as a standalone song-identifying app on several platforms, including Apple’s.

Such a move would be a bit of catch-up for Apple, as similar song identifying features are baked into Android via the Google Now app — you can simply ask Google Now “What’s this song?” — as well as Windows Phone via Microsoft’s new Cortana personal assistant, which features a song-identification button.

Bloomberg merely cites a duo of unnamed “people with knowledge of the product,” so take this news with a grain of salt. However, this seems like a logical extension of Siri’s abilities — the report claims you’ll be able to ask Siri “what song is playing,” which would be similar to how the aforementioned Google Now functionality works — and it help pad Apple’s bottom line by providing direct access to music tracks for purchase through the iTunes store.

Apple is holding its annual developer conference from June 2 to June 6 — we’ll find out more then.

[Bloomberg]

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Fish Found with Mercury in Remote Western Regions

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 16:37

(FRESNO, Calif.) — Federal scientists have found high amounts of mercury in sport fish caught in remote areas of national parks in the West and Alaska, according to a study released Thursday.

Researchers for the U.S. Geological Survey and National Park Service said that most fish they caught had acceptable levels of mercury, but 4 percent exceeded healthy levels.

Mercury occurs naturally, but scientists say its presence in national parks, which are supposed to leave wildlife unimpaired for future generations, was cause for concern.

Among the most widespread contaminants in the world, mercury can damage the brain, kidneys and a developing fetus. Fish and the birds and other animals that feed on them are also at risk, the report said.

The two agencies behind the study don’t regulate health guidelines, but the National Park Service said it is working with officials in the 10 states studied on possible fish consumption advisories.

“For us this is a wakeup call,” said Jeffrey Olson of the National Parks, the agency that protects animals found in the wild. “We’re charged with keeping their habitat in good condition so generations to come visiting these parks can see what these landscapes look like.”

In the study, researchers caught 1,400 fish between 2008 and 2012 at 86 lakes and rivers in places such Yosemite National Park in California, Mount Rainier National Park in Washington and Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.

In two Alaskan parks, the average level of mercury in fish found bypassed the federal standard for human consumption. The amounts of mercury also exceeded healthy levels at parks in California, Colorado, Washington and Wyoming, the study found.

Mercury occurs naturally from sources such as volcano eruptions, but pollution from burning fossil fuels is the leading contributor, the study said.

The results are not surprising because pollution in the atmosphere is a global problem, said Olson, adding that these findings call for a better understanding of how mercury is introduced into the remote corners of nature and the risks.

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Gabriel García Márquez Dies at Age 87

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 16:33

Famed novelist Gabriel García Márquez passed away on Thursday, according to a family member cited by the Associated Press. He was 87 years old.

The Colombian Nobel Prize winning author was hospitalized for nine days in late March for an infection in his lungs and urinary tract. He had been recovering in his home in Mexico City since April 8.

García Márquez, known as “Gabo,” was born in Aracataca, Colombia on March 6, 1927. The northern Colombian town inspired the setting for his 1967 novel One Hundred Years of Solitude, which earned international critical acclaim and tens of millions of readers. García Márquez earned even more fans with his 1985 book, Love in the Time of Cholera. He was considered by many to be the most popular Spanish-language writer since Miguel de Cervantes, who wrote Don Quixote in the 17th century.

García Márquez won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1982 for his novels and short stories. When he won the award, he called Latin America a “source of insatiable creativity, full of sorrow and beauty, of which this roving and nostalgic Colombian is but one cipher more, singled out by fortune. Poets and beggars, musicians and prophets, warriors and scoundrels, all creatures of that unbridled reality, we have had to ask but little of imagination, for our crucial problem has been a lack of conventional means to render our lives believable.” He is credited with helping to invent the literary genre of magical realism.

His death was confirmed by two family members who spoke anonymously to protect the family’s privacy.

[AP]

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Garcia Marquez, Nobel Laureate, Dies at 87

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 16:27

(MEXICO CITY) — Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the Nobel laureate whose novels and short stories exposed tens of millions of readers to Latin America’s passion, superstition, violence and inequality, died at home in Mexico City around midday, according to people close to his family. He was 87.

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Widely considered the most popular Spanish-language writer since Miguel de Cervantes in the 17th century, Garcia Marquez achieved literary celebrity that spawned comparisons to Mark Twain and Charles Dickens.

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His flamboyant and melancholy fictional works — among them “Chronicle of a Death Foretold,” ”Love in the Time of Cholera” and “Autumn of the Patriarch” — outsold everything published in Spanish except the Bible. The epic 1967 novel “One Hundred Years of Solitude sold more than 50 million copies in more than 25 languages.

His stories made him literature’s best-known practitioner of magical realism, the fictional blending of the everyday with fantastical elements such as a boy born with a pig’s tail and a man trailed by a swarm of yellow butterflies.

His death was confirmed by two people close to the family who spoke on condition of anonymity out of respect for the family’s privacy.

“One Hundred Years of Solitude” was “the first novel in which Latin Americans recognized themselves, that defined them, celebrated their passion, their intensity, their spirituality and superstition, their grand propensity for failure,” biographer Gerald Martin told The Associated Press.

When he accepted the Nobel prize in 1982, Garcia Marquez described Latin America as a “source of insatiable creativity, full of sorrow and beauty, of which this roving and nostalgic Colombian is but one cipher more, singled out by fortune. Poets and beggars, musicians and prophets, warriors and scoundrels, all creatures of that unbridled reality, we have had to ask but little of imagination, for our crucial problem has been a lack of conventional means to render our lives believable.”

With writers including Norman Mailer and Tom Wolfe, Garcia Marquez was also an early practitioner of the literary nonfiction that would become known as New Journalism. He became an elder statesman of Latin American journalism, with magisterial works of narrative non-fiction that included the “Story of A Shipwrecked Sailor,” the tale of a seaman lost on a life raft for 10 days.

Other pieces profiled Venezuela’s larger-than-life president, Hugo Chavez, and vividly portrayed how cocaine traffickers led by Pablo Escobar had shred the social and moral fabric of his native Colombia, kidnapping members of its elite, in “News of a Kidnapping.” In 1994, Garcia Marquez founded the Iberoamerican Foundation for New Journalism, which offers training and competitions to raise the standard of narrative and investigative journalism across Latin America.

Like many Latin American writers, Garcia Marquez transcended the world of letters. The man widely known as “Gabo” became a hero to the Latin American left as an early ally of Cuba’s revolutionary leader Fidel Castro and a critic of Washington’s violent interventions from Vietnam to Chile.

Garcia Marquez was born in Aracataca, a small Colombian town near the Caribbean coast, on March 6, 1927. He was the eldest of the 11 children of Luisa Santiaga Marquez and Gabriel Elijio Garcia, a telegraphist and a wandering homeopathic pharmacist who was also something of a philanderer and fathered at least four children outside of his marriage.

Just after their first son was born, his parents left him with his maternal grandparents and moved to Barranquilla, where Garcia Marquez’s father opened a pharmacy, hoping to become rich.

Garcia Marquez was raised for 10 years by his grandmother and his grandfather, a retired colonel who fought in the devastating 1,000-Day War that hastened Colombia’s loss of the Panamanian isthmus.

His grandparents’ tales would provide grist for Garcia Marquez’s fiction and Aracataca became the model for “Macondo,” the village surrounded by banana plantations at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains where “One Hundred Years of Solitude” is set.

“I have often been told by the family that I started recounting things, stories and so on, almost since I was born,” Garcia Marquez once told an interviewer. “Ever since I could speak.”

Garcia Marquez’s parents continued to have children, and barely made ends meet. Their first-born son was sent to a state-run boarding school just outside Bogota where he became a star student and voracious reader, favoring Hemingway, Faulkner, Dostoevsky and Kafka.

Garcia Marquez published his first piece of fiction as a student in 1947, mailing a short story to the newspaper El Espectador after its literary editor wrote that “Colombia’s younger generation has nothing to offer in the way of good literature anymore.”

His father insisted he study law but he dropped out, bored, and dedicated himself to journalism. The pay was atrocious and Garcia Marquez recalled his mother visiting him in Bogota and commenting in horror at his bedraggled appearance that: “I thought you were a beggar.”

Garcia Marquez’s writing was constantly informed by his leftist political views, themselves forged in large part by a 1928 military massacre near Aracataca of banana workers striking against the United Fruit Company, which later became Chiquita. He was also greatly influenced by the assassination two decades later of Jorge Eliecer Gaitan, a galvanizing leftist presidential candidate.

Garcia Marquez suffered a strong official backlash to his story about how government corruption contributed to the disaster recounted in “Story of A Shipwrecked Sailor.” A dictatorship seized power and Garcia Marquez made a new home in Europe. After touring the Soviet-controlled east, he moved to Rome in 1955 to study cinema, a lifelong love. Then he moved to Paris, where he lived among intellectuals and artists exiled from the many Latin American dictatorships of the day.

Garcia Marquez returned to Colombia in 1958 to marry Mercedes Barcha, a neighbor from childhood days. They had two sons, Rodrigo, a film director, and Gonzalo, a graphic designer.

After a 1981 run-in with Colombia’s government in which he was accused of sympathizing with M-19 rebels and sending money to a Venezuelan guerrilla group, Garcia Marquez moved to Mexico City, his main home for the rest of his life.

Despite being denied U.S. visas for years over his politics, he was courted by presidents and kings and counted Bill Clinton and Francois Mitterrand among his friends. He denounced what he considered the unfair political persecution of Clinton for sexual adventures

Clinton himself recalled in an AP interview in 2007 reading “One Hundred Years of Solitude” while in law school and not being able to put it down, not even during classes.

“I realized this man had imagined something that seemed like a fantasy but was profoundly true and profoundly wise,” he said.

Dirt poor and struggling through much of his adult life, Garcia Marquez was somewhat transformed by his later fame and wealth. A bon vivant with an impish personality, Garcia Marquez was a gracious host who would animatedly recount long stories to guests. Fiercely protective of his image, a trait shared by his wife, he would occasionally unleash a quick temper when he felt slighted or misrepresented by the press.

The author with the bushy grey eyebrows and white mustache spent more time in Colombia in his later years, founding the journalism institute in the walled colonial port city of Cartagena, where he kept a home.

Garcia Marquez turned down offers of diplomatic posts and spurned attempts to draft him to run for Colombia’s presidency, though he did get involved in behind-the-scenes peace mediation efforts between Colombia’s government and leftist rebels.

In 1998, already in his 70s, Garcia Marquez fulfilled a lifelong dream, buying a majority interest in the Colombian newsmagazine Cambio with money from his Nobel. Before falling ill with lymphatic cancer in June 1999, the author contributed prodigiously to the magazine.

“I’m a journalist. I’ve always been a journalist,” he told the AP at the time. “My books couldn’t have been written if I weren’t a journalist because all the material was taken from reality.”

In later years there were persisting reports about the author’s memory problems, which were not publicly diagnosed, and Garcia Marquez’s public appearances were limited, although he continued to enjoy socializing with friends.

When he turned 87, he was feted before the press by friends and well-wishers who gave him cake and flowers outside his home in an exclusive neighborhood in Mexico City.

Garcia Marquez did not speak at the event.

_____

Frank Bajak reported from Lima, Peru. Paul Haven and Michael Weissenstein in Mexico City contributed to this report.

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