France Throws the Bums Out and Votes for a New Political Reality

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME)

France Throws the Bums Out and Votes for a New Political Reality

Apr 23, 2017
No matter whether centrist economist Emmanuel Macron or far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen wins France’s presidency in two weeks’ time, Sunday’s first-round election made history in France — ripping up the political system that has governed for generations over the world’s sixth biggest economy and a powerhouse of the European Union.

Both the ruling Socialists and the conservative Republicans suffered crushing defeats, as millions of French voters expressed years of exasperation, fear and disillusion by voting for insurgent or extremist candidates. The runoff round between Macron and Le Pen — Sunday’s two top vote getters — is on May 7.

As the polls closed at 8 p.m., the results appeared to be a collective cri de coeur against the establishment. “This is huge,” says Pierre Haski, political columnist for the news magazine L’Obs, speaking to TIME after the vote. “The two parties that have dominated the political landscape for three or four decades have collapsed.”

The next President of France now seems highly likely to be Macron, who captured the most votes among 11 candidates on Sunday. That itself is a stunning new reality. Macron, just 39, would be France’s youngest-ever president by far if he is inaugurated in the ornate Élysée Palace on May 15.

What is more, he has never held elective office and has no traditional political party to call his own; he quit President François Hollande’s government as Economy Minister last September to create his own political movement, called En Marche! (On the Go!), and drafted thousands of young French to knock on doors across the country, polling 100,000 people about how they wanted their country to change.

It was a gamble that seems to have paid off — and now, it could catapult this newcomer into power. It is hard to overstate the extraordinary and surprising nature of that accomplishment.

Emmanuel Macron speaks after winning the lead percentage of votes in the first round of the French presidential elections in Paris on April 23, 2017. He faces off against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen on May 7. Emmanuel Macron speaks after winning the lead percentage of votes in the first round of the French presidential elections in Paris on April 23, 2017. He faces off against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen on May 7 Mustafa Yalcin—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

“In one year we have changed the face of French politics,” Macron told his ecstatic supporters at his victory party in Paris late Sunday night, saying that his win brought “new hope for our country, and for Europe.” Amid the crowd of giddy supporters were many young French voting for the first time, who said in interviews they had been drawn to a candidate that appeared young and modern — a striking change from the fairly small group of grandees who have run the country for many years.

The preliminary results Sunday night put Macron at 23.9%, Le Pen at 21.7% and the Republicans’ candidate François Fillon around 19%. The Socialist candidate Benoît Hamon polled a disastrous 6% — a potential death knell for the party that has ruled France for five years. Fillon and Hamon, in somber concession speeches, admitted they were facing an entirely new political situation as outsiders. Both called on supporters to back Macron in the second round vote on May 7.

Standing in a hall in southern Paris, hundreds of Macron’s young campaign volunteers broke into wild applause and cheers of “Macron Président!” as Fillon, projected on a large-screen monitor on stage, said, “I will be voting for Emmanuel Macron.”

Indeed, Macron’s lead over Le Pen on Sunday could potentially increase once all the votes are counted. That is because the early estimates do not include big cities like Paris, which are bastions of support for the former Rothschild investment banker, who is intent on modernizing the country and unraveling generations of state-heavy intervention.

When TIME profiled Macron last July, while he was still serving in Hollande’s Cabinet, he said he believed the current system was “sclerotic” and could not survive. “I am a newcomer,” he told us then. “I want to remain a newcomer. It is in my DNA.”

Read more: Emmanuel Macron Has Big Plans for France. Is It Ready for Them?

Now, however, he will need to become the ultimate insider: Piecing together a coalition to smash Le Pen’s National Front in the runoff round, and then to force through an agenda that could well spark violent protests. That includes loosening the way companies hire and fire employees, cutting back on steep wealth taxes for the richest French and luring hundreds of thousands of French expats back home; those include countless high-skilled professionals in Silicon Valley and London’s financial hub, who left France in recent years, frustrated by the lack of growth.

Macron’s ability to push through his programs will depend heavily on the parliamentary elections in June. His political movement, which currently has no representation, has scrambled in recent weeks to find candidates for the June vote. “En Marche! has received 15,000 people who want to be deputies,” Macron campaign spokeswoman Laurence Haim told TIME earlier this week. “We have commissions that are looking at each candidate, and we want parity and diversity, to completely transform the face of political life in France.”

That is just one challenge, however: Le Pen.

The 48-year-old won the biggest-ever support for the National Front in Sunday’s election. She has spent six years remaking the party from her father’s far more rabidly racist and anti-Semitic movement into an electable force. In some ways, she succeeded in that on Sunday.

Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Front, exits a polling booth after marking her ballot during the first round of the French presidential election in Henin Beaumont on April 23, 2017.Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Front, exits a polling booth after marking her ballot during the first round of the French presidential election in Hénin-Beaumont, France, on April 23, 2017 Marlene Awaad—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Tapping into deep unease over the migrant crisis and the terrorist threat, Le Pen stormed through the country arguing that France needed to close its borders and virtually halt all immigration, promising to hold a referendum to pull France out of the E.U. and drop the use of the Euro. Speaking to her supporters on Sunday night after the vote, Le Pen vowed she would take her support all the way to the Élysée.”Globalization puts our country in danger,” she thundered, to a packed hall in the northern France town of Hénin-Beaumont.

That message clearly hit home with millions of voters on Sunday. When TIME traveled the hard-hit Rust Belt of Northern France in February, many Le Pen supporters said they believed global free trade, which Macron supports, had failed French workers. “We don’t think that finding workers that are cheaper and cheaper, with worse working conditions, is a good thing for the people of the world,” National Front activist Éric Richermoz, 24, told TIME then. “The National Front is the only party that gives people hope in these elections,” he said in the northern town of Amiens.

Now, Macron will need to reckon with that fury—even if he succeeds in winning the presidency. And there is fury too on the other side of the political spectrum: 19.2% voted for the far-left politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who fought to nationalize major industries and to reconsider France’s E.U. membership.

“He has to take into account the anger of people who voted for Le Pen and Mélenchon,” Haski says. In addition, he says, Le Pen has attempted to cast herself as France’s Trump — the candidate of change — vs. a Hillary Clinton–type opponent — the embodiment of an old establishment. She has said frequently, including to TIME in recent months, that she regarded Trump’s victory as a sign that she too could prevail against all odds.

“She portrays this election as a replay of the U.S. election, Trump vs. Clinton,” Haski says. “That is a trap that Macron does not want to fall into.”

Russia Bans Jehovah’s Witnesses From Operating in Country

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME)

Russia Bans Jehovah’s Witnesses From Operating in Country

1:10 PM ET
(MOSCOW) — Russia’s Supreme Court has banned the Jehovah’s Witnesses from operating in the country, accepting a request from the justice ministry that the religious organization be considered an extremist group.

The court ordered the closure of the group’s Russia headquarters and its 395 local chapters, as well as the seizure of its property.

The Interfax news agency on Thursday quoted Justice Ministry attorney Svetlana Borisova in court as saying that the Jehovah’s Witnesses “pose a threat to the rights of the citizens, public order and public security.”

The Jehovah’s Witnesses claim more than 170,000 adherents in Russia. The group has come under increasing pressure over the past year, including a ban on distributing literature deemed to violate Russia’s anti-extremism laws.

The U.S. Just Dropped The ‘Mother Of All Bombs’ In Afghanistan. But What Is That?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME)

The U.S. Just Dropped the ‘Mother of All Bombs’ in Afghanistan. But What Is That?

Apr 13, 2017

The United States on Thursday dropped “the mother of all bombs,” the largest non-nuclear bomb it has ever used in combat, on an ISIS tunnel and cave complex in eastern Afghanistan.

The bomb, officially called the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB), was dropped from a MC-130 aircraft in the Achin district of Nangarhar province, Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump said, according to the Associated Press. The target was near Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan.

President Donald Trump said Thursday the bombing was a “very successful mission,” according to Reuters, and he touted the mission as evidence of a stronger foreign policy under his administration. It was not immediately clear how much damage the bomb did, how many militants were killed, or whether any civilians were killed.

Here’s what you need to know:

What is the bomb?

The GBU-43 is a GPS-guided weapon that weighs an enormous 21,600 pounds, according to an article from the Eglin Air Force Base. Each one costs $16 million, according to military information website Deagel.

During testing in the early 2000s, it created a mushroom cloud that could be seen from 20 miles away, according to the Air Force story.

Why was it developed?

The MOAB was designed in 2002 as a replacement for the BLU-82 Daisy Cutter, according to the Air Force article. Its purpose was initially to put pressure on former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

“The goal is to have the pressure be so great that Saddam Hussein cooperates,” said then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in a 2003 interview, according to the Air Force article. “Short of that — an unwillingness to cooperate — the goal is to have the capabilities of the coalition so clear and so obvious that there is an enormous disincentive for the Iraqi military to fight against the coalition.”

Has it been used before?

The bomb was sent to the Middle East in 2003, but it had never been used before this week.

How many does the U.S. have?

The U.S. military says it has 20 MOAB bombs and has spent about $314 million producing them, according to CNBC.

What kind of destruction does it cause?

While not all details from Thursday’s blast have been made public, the bomb is very powerful. “What it does is basically suck out all of the oxygen and lights the air on fire,” Bill Roggio, of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Air Force Times. “It’s a way to get into areas where conventional bombs can’t reach.”

While it was initially intended to deter U.S. opponents, this week’s strike marks a change to using the weapon as an active tool in fighting ISIS. The use of the MOAB in the Nangarhar province indicates the U.S. still considers ISIS a threat in the area.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Introduces Bill to Legalize Marijuana in Canada

 

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME)

 

Justin Trudeau Introduces Bill to Legalize Marijuana in Canada

3:51 PM ET

(TORONTO) — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government introduced legislation Thursday to let adults possess 30 grams of marijuana in public — a measure that would make Canada the largest developed country to end a nationwide prohibition on recreational marijuana.

Trudeau has long promised to legalize recreational pot use and sales. U.S voters in California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada voted last year to approve the use of recreational marijuana, joining Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska.

The South American nation of Uruguay is the only nation to legalize recreational pot.

The proposed law allows four plants to be grown at home. Those under 18 found with less than five grams of marijuana would not face criminal charges but those who sell it or give to youth could face up to 14 years in jail.

“It’s too easy for our kids to get marijuana. We’re going to change that,” Trudeau said.

Officials said Canadians should be able to smoke marijuana legally by July 1, 2018. The federal government set the age at 18, but is allowing each of Canada’s provinces to determine if it should be higher. The provinces will also decide how the drug will be distributed and sold. The law also defines the amount of THC in a driver’s blood, as detected by a roadside saliva test, that would be illegal. Marijuana taxes will be announced at a later date.

The Canadian government closely followed the advice of a marijuana task force headed by former Liberal Health Minister Anne McLellan. That panel’s report noted public health experts tend to favor a minimum age of 21 as the brain continues to develop to about 25, but said setting the minimum age too high would preserve the illicit market.

Canadian youth have higher rates of cannabis use than their peers worldwide.

“If your objective is to protect public health and safety and keep cannabis out of the hands of minors, and stop the flow of profits to organized crime, then the law as it stands today has been an abject failure,” Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale told a news conference. “Police forces spend between $2 billion and $3 billion every year trying to deal with cannabis, and yet Canadian teenagers are among the heaviest users in the western world … We simply have to do better.”

Goodale said they’ve been close touch with the U.S. government on the proposed law and noted exporting and importing marijuana will continue to be illegal.

“The regime we are setting up in Canada will protect our kids better and stop the flow of illegal dollars to organized crime. Our system will actually be the better one,” Goodale said.

But Christina Grant, a professor of pediatrics at McMaster University in Ontario, worries the government is conveying the message that marijuana is not harmful. She fears usage will go up because concerns about its safety will dissipate.

“One in seven youths who have used cannabis will develop an addiction to cannabis and that impacts your life, schooling, job prospects, social and emotional relationships,” she said. “And there is the risk of developing psychosis if you start using cannabis as a teenager. The more you use and the younger you start, you have up to four times the risk of developing some kind of psychotic illness.”

Former Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, who is the parliamentary secretary to the justice minister, said officials learned from the experiences from other jurisdictions like Colorado and Washington state.

While the government moves to legalize marijuana, retail outlets selling pot for recreational use have already been set up. Trudeau has emphasized current laws should be respected. Police in Toronto, Vancouver and other cities raided stores earlier last month and made arrests.

The news that Canada was soon going to announce the law was noticed online last month by Snoop Dogg , who tweeted “Oh Canada!” Canadian folk singer Pat Robitaille released a “Weed song” to coincide with the government’s announcement.

Russia Knew About Syria’s Chemical Weapons Strike Before It Happened: U.S. Officials

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME)

Russia Knew About Syria’s Chemical Weapons Strike Before It Happened: U.S. Officials

3:41 PM ET

(WASHINGTON) — A senior U.S. official says the United States has concluded that Russia knew in advance of Syria’s chemical weapons attack last week.

The official says a Russian-operated drone flew over a hospital in Syria as victims of the attack were rushing to get treatment.

Hours after the drone left, a Russian-made fighter jet bombed the hospital in what American officials believe was an attempt to cover up the usage of chemical weapons.

Until Monday, U.S. officials had said they weren’t sure if the drone was operated by Russia or Syria. The senior official said it still wasn’t clear who was flying the jet that bombed the hospital.

The official said the presence of the drone couldn’t have been a coincidence, and that Russia must have known the chemical weapons attack was coming and that victims were seeking treatment.

The official wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on intelligence matters and demanded anonymity.

Russia Tells President Trump To: Put Up Or To Shut Up Concerning Syria And Assad

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME)

Russia to President Trump: Put Up or Shut Up on Syria and Bashar Assad

The Russian government has questioned United States stance on Syrian President Bashar Assad, after President Donald Trump criticized a reported chemical weapons attack in Syria’s Idlib province by government forces.

The attack has killed at least 86 people, including 26 children, CNN reports. Countries including the U.S., the U.K. and Turkey have linked the attack to Assad’s forces. Russia has repeatedly supported the Assad regime, and did so again in the aftermath of the latest deaths, suggesting the deaths had been caused by a Syrian strike hitting a rebel stockpile of chemical weapons.

Trump, whose administration had previously signaled that removing Assad was not a priority, said Wednesday that the attack had caused him to change his mind about the Syrian President. He added that the use of chemical weapons was “heinous” and “crossed a lot of lines”.

But Assad had previously been suspected of using chemical weapons, and Trump did not offer any clarity on what a revised U.S. strategy in dealing with the Syria strongman would look like. So Russia posted the question on Thursday:

“Russia’s approach to Assad is clear,” Maria Zakharova, a Russian ministry spokeswoman, told CNN. “He is the legal president of an independent state. What is the U.S. approach?”

Canada Is Going to Legalize Marijuana in 2018

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME)

Canada Is Going to Legalize Marijuana in 2018

Mar 27, 2017

(TORONTO) — Canadians should be able to smoke marijuana legally by July 1, 2018, a senior government official said Monday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government will introduce legislation to legalize recreational marijuana the week of April 10th and it should become law by July next year, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to lack of authorization to discuss the upcoming legislation.

Trudeau has long promised to legalize recreational pot use and sales. Canada would be the largest developed country to end a nationwide prohibition of recreational marijuana. In the U.S, voters in California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada voted last year to approve the use of recreational marijuana, joining Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska. Uruguay in South America is the only nation to legalize recreational pot.

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould declined to confirm the dates provided by the official, but said in a statement the government is committed to introducing legislation this spring that would “legalize, strictly regulate, and restrict access to cannabis.”

“This will be done in a careful way to keep it out of the hands of children and youth, and to stop criminals from profiting,” the statement said. “In order to meet our commitment to legalize, the legislation will need to pass through the parliamentary process in a timely fashion.”

The news was noticed online by Snoop Dogg , who tweeted “Oh Canada!”

The Canadian government is expected to follow the advice of a marijuana task force headed by former Liberal Health Minister Anne McLellan as well as the advice of former Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, who is the parliamentary secretary to the justice minister. Blair has been visiting police departments across the country.

The task force recommended adults be allowed to carry up to 30 grams of pot for recreational purpose and grow up to four plants. It also recommended that higher-potency pot be taxed at a higher rate than weaker strains. It also said recreational marijuana should not be sold in the same location as alcohol or tobacco. Under the task force proposals, alcohol-free cannabis lounges would be allowed.

The panel’s report noted public health experts tend to favor a minimum age of 21 as the brain continues to develop to about 25, but said setting the minimum age too high would preserve the illicit market.

Canadian youth have higher rates of cannabis use than their peers worldwide.

While the government moves to legalize marijuana retail outlets selling pot for recreational use have already been set up. Trudeau has emphasized current laws should be respected. Police in Toronto, Vancouver and other cities raided stores earlier this month and made arrests.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger Mocks President Trump’s Approval Ratings

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME NEWS)

Arnold Schwarzenegger Mocks President Trump’s Approval Ratings and Challenges Him to a Middle-School Visit

8:42 AM ET

Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday mocked President Donald Trump’s low approval ratings and challenged him to go to a Washington D.C. middle school to see after-school programs in action, after they were placed on the chopping block in the President’s proposed budget.

“Oh, Donald, the ratings are in, and you got swamped,” Schwarzenegger said in a video Tuesday. “Wow. Now you’re in the thirties?”

“But what do you expect?” he added. “I mean, when you take away after-school programs from children and Meals on Wheels from the poor people, that’s not what you call ‘making America great again.'”

Hey, @realDonaldTrump, I have some advice. See you at Hart Middle School? Here’s more info about : http://www.afterschoolallstars.org/programs/national-outcomes/ 

 The video is the latest addition to an ongoing feud between the two men. Trump regularly criticized the ratings of The New Celebrity Apprentice after Schwarzenegger took over as host earlier this year. The actor and former governor of California recently stepped down from the show after one season, prompting Trump to taunt him for “pathetic” ratings.

A Quarter of American Beer Drinkers Say They’re Switching to Pot

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME.COM)

(POT IS A STEP DOWN DRUG, NOT A STEP UP DRUG. LEGAL POT IS A THREAT TO THE ALCOHOL AND PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRIES AS WELL AS TO THE PROFITS OF DRUG CARTELS, POLICE DEPARTMENTS AND TO THE STATE AND FEDERAL PRISON FOR PROFIT SYSTEMS. THIS IS THE MAIN REASONS THAT POT IS STILL ILLEGAL, THAT AND PEOPLE LIKE THE AG JEFF SESSIONS WHO ARE TOTALLY IGNORANT OF KNOWLEDGE AND OR TRUTH OR SIMPLY DO NOT CARE WHAT THE TRUTH IS.) (THIS COMMENTARY IS BY TRS)   

A Quarter of American Beer Drinkers Say They’re Switching to Pot

11:34 AM ET

As legalization of marijuana grows throughout the United States, so does its popularity with beer drinkers.

About one in four Americans are now spending their money on marijuana instead of beer, new research from Cannabiz Consumer Group found. Twenty-seven percent of beer consumers are legally purchasing cannabis instead of beer, or suggested they would purchase it instead if it were legalized in their state. The research group surveyed 40,000 Americans last year.

About 24.6 million Americans legally purchased pot in the U.S. last year and that number is expected to grow, according to the study. Numerous states have legalized marijuana for medical purposes, and a smaller number of states have legalized it for recreational use. The Department of Justice under the Obama Administration relaxed federal enforcement of marijuana laws in states where it is legal, but the Trump Administration may reverse that trend.

Still, the group predicts the cannabis industry will grow to $50 billion. The U.S. beer market sells over $100 billion in beer each year, according to the National Beer Wholesalers Association.

If marijuana were legalized nationally, the beer industry would lose more than $2 billion in retail sales, the Cannabis Consumer Group says. The group anticipates the cannabis industry will take just over 7% of the beer industry’s market.

Other studies have supported this concept. As Money reported in 2016, the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, Oregon and Washington state contributed to beer sales falling in those states, according to research firm Cowen & Company.

Most recently, Massachusetts, Maine, California and Nevada passed measures to legalize the recreational use of marijuana late last year. More than half of U.S. states permit the medical use of marijuana.

Myanmar: The Civil War With All Of Its Ethnic Killing Continues With No End In Sight

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME)

‘This Will Be the Worst War’: Fears of Mass Displacement as Thousands Flee Conflict in Myanmar’s Northeast

1:27 AM Eastern

A steady stream of men, women and children arrive by the hundreds at Mansu Monastery in rural northeastern Myanmar. Each day brings a fresh wave of people fleeing a new outbreak of conflict that threatens to derail the country’s already fragile peace process. Powdered with red dust after hours on open-air flatbed trucks through mountain roads, they enter Lashio, the largest city in Myanmar’s Shan state. New arrivals walk into the monastery quarters carrying bundles of belongings and stories of violence from the streets and surrounding suburbs of Laukkai, capital of the Kokang Special Administered Zone bordering China.

Just before dawn on Monday, members of a Kokang-based armed group called the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) attacked a hotel in Laukkai and several outposts of Myanmar police and armed forces, known locally as the Tatmadaw. Government figures estimate that there were at least 30 fatalities, including at least five civilians, and about 20 of the deceased were burned beyond recognition. “I can’t live there anymore, there’s too much shooting,” Than Naing Tun, a 35-year-old sugar-cane farmer, tells TIME as he waits at the monastery to board a truck back to his hometown in Magwe.

Next Generation Leaders: Wai Wai Nu
Wai Wai Nu, 30, spent 7 years in jail in Myanmar as a political prisoner. She is now a lawyer and the founder of two NGO’s that promote peace and justice in Myanmar.

Most, if not all, of the displaced people arriving in Lashio — about 100 miles southwest of Laukkai— are migrant workers from Myanmar’s central plains. Attracted by the somewhat higher wages on offer in Kokang, many labor in the fields or work at recycling plants. “Our families found out from watching TV, and all of the phone lines [in Laukkai] were cut,” Than Naing Tun says, “they were so worried, they thought we were dead.” While the migrants try and make their way back to central Myanmar, the Kokang people, who are ethnic Chinese, have mostly fled across the border into Yunnan province in China. Humanitarian agencies and local aid workers estimate that more than 10,000 people have made their way over the border.

Read More: ‘We Cannot Believe Aung San Suu Kyi’: Why Many in Burma Are Losing Hope of Peace

Several of those who fled to Lashio tell TIME that almost everyone in Laukkai is attempting to leave, as the sounds of gunfire, and what they believe were mortar shells, have resumed each nightfall since the early hours of Monday morning. Myint Kyi, 44, seated beside her 14-year-old daughter, says she heard gunfire and explosions for several hours before daybreak on Monday. When the sun rose and the sounds died down, she walked to a nearby hotel about 50 m away from her apartment, where the fighting first broke out. There she says she saw four dead bodies — three men and one woman — still lying on the ground outside. She decided to leave with her family. “We left everything behind,” her daughter San San Maw says. “We left so fast we didn’t even bring our slippers.”

But leaving has not been easy for many. Unable to enter the town of Laukkai , convoys of trucks are waiting in nearby towns for the thousands of people trying to head towards Lashio and on into central Myanmar. Meanwhile, bus drivers in the town are charging passengers 10 times the normal fare to leave — about $73 instead of the usual $7.30 — several arrivals tell TIME, consistent with accounts in local media. Myint Kyi says that “almost everyone” wants to leave, but most do not have enough money to pay the exorbitant fare.

This week’s outbreak is the deadliest escalation of conflict in Kokang since early February 2015, when the MNDAA launched an attack on Myanmar forces in an effort to reclaim control of the territory. The group’s presumed leader, Peng Jiasheng, was ousted by the Myanmar government in 2009, forcing him and his supporters to retreat into the remote and forested hills of Yunnan. When they re-emerged, the Tatmadaw fiercely fought off their surprise comeback, imposed a four-month period of martial law and ultimately sent the MNDAA back into hiding.

Read More: David Miliband: How to Bring Peace to the World’s Longest Civil War

Monday’s escalation sparked fears of a repeat, and concerns about the humanitarian cost. Myint Kyi, the mother TIME met at the monastery, says the city’s residents worry that “this time will be worse than the last,” which left hundreds of soldiers dead on both sides of the conflict and caused an exodus of tens of thousands of civilians, mostly to China. “I heard that the Tatmadaw will take down all of the MNDAA, they will get them all, and this will be the worst war,” she tells TIME.

The abbot of Mansu Monastery, Padanna Pone Nay Nanda, tells TIME that well over 1,000 migrants have already passed through his compound since Monday. Upon our visit on Wednesday morning local time, hundreds were loading up on trucks and leaving, while more trickled in. Another 300 were expected to arrive throughout the day. The Mansu complex is known far and wide as a refuge, having welcomed displaced populations many times over Padanna’s 28 years as a monk there, and he coordinates with local aid workers to provide for the displaced. “This is only the start, it’s hard to know what will happen over the next week,” he tells TIME, recalling the thousands that transited through during the previous conflict.

Read More: Burma’s Transition to Civilian Rule Hasn’t Stopped the Abuses of Its Ethnic Wars

Myanmar, which was ruled by a brutal military junta until 2011, has suffered one of the world’s most protracted and complex civil wars, with more than 20 nonstate armed groups fighting the Myanmar army for political autonomy over the course of nearly six decades. The new civilian government, led by Nobel laureate and now State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, has pledged to make peace a priority as it struggles to rebuild a nation devastated by conflict, corruption and poverty. In late 2015, a cease-fire was reached between government forces and eight of the rebel armies, though several groups abstained and others were categorically excluded from the process. Among those denied a seat at the table were the MNDAA, along with three other armed groups with which the Kokang have now formed a coalition. The Brotherhood of the Northern Alliance, as it is known since its inception last year, includes the MNDAA, the Arakan Army, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, and some parts of the Kachin Independence Army.

Suu Kyi released a statement condemning Monday’s attack and called for an immediate cessation of hostilities, warning that continued attacks can bring “nothing but sorrow and suffering on the innocent local tribes and races,” urging actors to join the national peace dialogue. The Tatmadaw, however, has repeatedly stated that it will not allow the concerned groups to participate in the peace process unless they immediately disarm. Having withstood previous cease-fires with the Myanmar army that later disintegrated, their leadership is disinclined to do so.

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