TIME Syria

Satellite Photos Show Most of Syria Without Lights

Scientists analyzed nighttime satellite images and found that 83% of lights had gone out

More than three-quarters of the lights in Syria have been extinguished since the internal conflict began four years ago this month, according to an analysis of new satellite imagery released on Wednesday.

Scientists based in China analyzed nighttime satellite images and found that 83% of lights had gone out. The study was backed by 130 international NGOs that are part of the #withSyria coalition, which aims to raise awareness about the ongoing conflict.

“What is happening on the ground in Syria is a humanitarian and human rights catastrophe of the first order,” said former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who briefed the media on the results of the analysis. “I believe it is the single most important issue in the Middle East today, yet it sometimes feels as though the world has forgotten about it.”

More than 200,000 people have been killed and another 4 million have fled the country in a conflict that started in March 2011 between rebel groups and President Bashar al-Assad. The ensuing power vacuum paved the way for the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, which has seized swathes of territory in both countries.

People fleeing their homes, physical destruction and power shortages can all contribute to the decline in night light, which provides a unique glimpse into the destruction wrought by the violence in Syria. Levels of night light have fallen more in Syria over the course of the conflict than they did in Rwanda over the course of the genocide there in 1994, according to Dr. Xi Li, the leader researcher on the project.

“Satellite imagery is the most objective source of data showing the devastation of Syria on a national scale,” he said in a statement. “Taken from 500 miles above the earth, these images help us understand the suffering and fear experienced by ordinary Syrians every day, as their country is destroyed around them.”

The eclipse was most accentuated in the northern city of Aleppo, a fierce battleground between rebel groups and government forces where night light dropped 97%. Government-held cities have fared somewhat better, including Damascus, where night light dropped 35%.

The activist groups behind the study called for the new data to serve as a wake up call for the international community. In a separate report being released this week called “Failing Syria,”several NGOs accused the UN Security Council of failing to to follow up on three resolutions to protect civilians passed in 2014. The death toll in Syria reached a new high last year.

“The international community can and must supply more intense political pressure to stop the violence and human rights abuses that are fueling this crisis,” Albright said. “I believe that we have a moral obligation to bring all partners to the table to find a solution and end the uprooting and destruction of the Syrian people.”

Read next: U.N. Security Council Comes Under Fire Over Failure to Help Syrians

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME twitter

Twitter Bans ‘Revenge Porn’

Social Media Site Twitter Debuts On The New York Stock Exchange
Bethany Clarke—Getty Images The Twitter logo is displayed on a mobile device

The social-media site has come under fire for its lax controls against cyberbullying

Twitter has updated its rules to prohibit posting nude or sexually explicit photos without the subject’s consent.

The new policies targeting so-called revenge porn mark Twitter’s latest move to crackdown on cyberbullying after previous updates over the past few months, including a new way to flag abusive tweets and a streamlined method of reporting harmful content.

“You may not post intimate photos or videos that were taken or distributed without the subject’s consent,” reads a line in Twitter’s “content boundaries” that was added Wednesday.

The social-media site has come under fire for its lax controls against cyberbullying, but has recently moved to take a tougher stance against online harassment. Last month, CEO Dick Costolo admitted in a leaked memo that, “We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls.”

Read next: How Social Media Sites Are Making You Spend More

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME movies

Still Alice Director Richard Glatzer Dies

AFI FEST 2014 Presented By Audi - "Still Alice" Premiere - Arrivals
Jeffrey Mayer—WireImage/Getty Images From left clockwise, actress Kristen Stewart, director Wash Westmoreland, actress Julianne Moore and director Richard Glatzer arrive at a premier of Still Alice at Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on Nov. 12, 2014

Glatzer died three weeks after Julianne Moore won best actress for her role in his film

Richard Glatzer, who jointly authored and directed the 2014 Julianne Moore drama Still Alice while diagnosed with ALS, died on Tuesday.

Glatzer, who was diagnosed with ALS shortly before he joined the project with his husband Wash Westmoreland, was 63, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The film, which Glatzer and Westmoreland adapted from the bestselling novel by Lisa Genova, starred Moore as a professor struggling with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. She won the Academy Award for Best Actress for that role last month.

Glazter was hospitalized before the ceremony, but he and Westmoreland planned to watch it from his hospital bed.

“When Richard was diagnosed with ALS, Wash asked him what he wanted to do,” Moore said in accepting her award. “Did he want to travel? Did he want to see the world? And he said he wanted to make movies. And that’s what he did.”

[The Hollywood Reporter]

TIME The Vatican

5 Leadership Lessons You Can Learn From Pope Francis

ITALY-POPE-VISIT
ANDREAS SOLARO—AFP/Getty Images Pope Francis (C) greets the crowd as he arrives for a visit to the Roman Parish of "Ognissanti" on March 7, 2015 in Rome.

The pontiff marks two years ahead the Catholic Church this week

Pope Francis, who marks his second year as leader of the Catholic Church this week, has garnered the type of favorability ratings that any leader would envy. In a Pew poll released last week, nine out of ten Catholics in America gave the Pope high marks—nearly on par with the hugely popular Pope John Paul II’s top ratings. Around the world, sixty percent of Catholic and non-Catholic respondents alike said they viewed Francis favorably.

And his achievements have extended beyond popularity. As Francis’s tenure reaches the two-year mark, the Pope can already look back on significant economic reforms at the Vatican, published a report condemning unbridled capitalism and fueled an evolving discussion on divorce and homosexuality throughout the Church (not to mention being named TIME’s Person of the Year in 2013).

So how has a relatively obscure Jesuit cardinal from Latin America become such a successful leader? Here are five lessons that Pope Francis’s early tenure offer drawn from The Francis Miracle: Inside the Transformation of the Pope and the Church by John L. Allen, Jr.

1. Set an example
The reformist Pope immediately set his sights on the Vatican’s finances, aiming to clean up a regular source of scandal. For the Pope—who took his name from the saint who devoted himself to a life of poverty—financial reform was a priority because it brought “together the three vices that distress him more than anything else: corruption, exaggerated clerical privilege and indifference to the poor,” Allen writes

But he also knew that ensuring clean books at the highest levels would set an example of good governance for the entire Church and clear the path for pursuing a wider agenda. “Today, perhaps the most audacious of all of Pope Francis’s plans is to make the Vatican into a global model of best practices in financial administration—not just as an end in itself but as a way of leading the Church at all levels to clean up its act,” Allen writes.

2. Don’t just hire your friends
Australian Cardinal George Pell was an unlikely candidate for spearheading Francis’s financial reforms. A staunch conservative, Pell was privately disappointed with the Pope’s election, concerned that he would lead the Vatican down a liberal path. In size–he’s a 6-foot-3 former Australian football player–and in personality, he also differed from the soft-spoken Pontiff.

But Francis had heard Pell’s rants against the status of the Church’s finances and knew that his blunt style would be effective in pushing reforms through the traditional institution. At a meeting in March 2014 during which the two spoke Italian because neither was comfortable in each other’s language, Francis asked Pell to become his finance czar.

3. Take advice seriously
From the very beginning, Francis has demonstrated a willingness to listen to those around him. As his first substantial move in office, for example, he created a Council of Cardinal Advisers comprising eight members from around the global who hold ideologically diverse views. The group has since advised him on each of his major actions, and Allen calls it the “the most important decision-making force in the Vatican.” Meanwhile, Pope Francis has given renewed significance to the Synod of Bishops, an advisory group that Pope John Paul II was known to occasionally sit through while reading a book. Francis, by contrast, attended one meeting almost entirely unannounced to join in the discussion (Allen compared it to a U.S. president walking into a meeting of a House committee), and he placed a heavy emphasis on the rare Extraordinary Synod that he convened to discuss family issues like divorce and remarriage.

4. But also be willing to ignore advice
The Pope has also been willing to act unilaterally to ensure that his agenda moves forward, such as when he named Bishop Nunzio Galantino to be secretary-general of the powerful Episcopal Conference of Italy in December 2013. Galantino had a reputation of modesty that reflected Pope Francis’s persona,eschewing, for example, formal titles and rejecting a secretary or chauffeur. But he was not terribly popular with the Italian clergy. When Francis asked for potential names to fill the role of secretary-general, nearly 500 Italian clergymen submitted their recommendations and Galantino received only a single nod. Francis chose him anyway.

5. Be accessible
As the head of the Vatican, Pope Francis has plenty of headaches to deal with at home. But he’s also the leader of nearly 1.1 billion Catholics, and he has made an impressive effort to connect with his followers. There’s no better example of his outreach efforts than the cold-calls he makes to unexpecting people around the world. There was the call to Michele Ferri, the 14-year-old brother of a gas station operator who had been killed in an armed robbery; a call to a Vatican critic who was sick in the hospital; a call to an Italian woman who had beseeched the Pope in a letter to help her solve the mystery of her daughter’s murder; and many more that have not been reported in the media. In one case that was reported, the Pope dialed (he does the calling, not an aide) a convent of cloistered Carmelite nuns in Spain to wish a happy New Year. When they didn’t pick up, he left a message, jokingly asking, “What are the nuns doing that they can’t answer?” (praying, according to a local media report) He later called back, and this time the nuns were gathered around the phone to talk with Francis on speakerphone.

TIME politics

Netanyahu Will Be Speaking in Winston Churchill’s Shadow

Netanyahu is only the second foreign leader to address Congress three times

A leader of a close U.S. ally arrives in Washington to speak before Congress for his third time, as relations between the two countries begin to fray.

That was British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in January 1952, making what TIME then called a “cautiously billed” visit to the United States to attempt to restore the close ties that had carried the U.S. and Britain through World War II.

The same description might also work for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who addresses Congress on Tuesday, becoming only the second foreign leader to address Congress three times. The close relationship between Israel and the U.S. has been buffeted by Israeli policies in the West Bank (opposed by the White House) and by U.S.-led negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program (opposed by Netanyahu). Now, Netanyahu is hoping to convince Washington to see eye-to-eye with him on Iran’s nuclear program.

Netanyahu has already been compared to Churchill by Republicans in Congress. “There is a reason that the adjective most often applied to Prime Minister Netanyahu with respect to Iran is Churchillian,” said Senator Ted Cruz on Monday. House Speaker John Boehner said he plans to give Netanyahu a bust of Churchill.

Here’s how Churchill handled the situation:

In 1952, the post-war state of affairs had brought with it a new set of grievances between Washington and London. What approach should be taken toward Communist China? Would the U.S. support British influence in the Middle East? Would Britain allow the U.S. to use bases in England for nuclear-armed flights against Russia? “But above all else was the fact that, in the time of her own financial and foreign-affairs crises, Britain had somehow lost touch with the U.S.,” TIME wrote in the Jan. 14, 1952 issue.

Still, Churchill faced a friendlier environment than Netanyahu might on Tuesday. While the Prime Minister did not share the same bond with President Truman that he had with Truman’s predecessor, Franklin D. Roosevelt, he was warmly received in Congress and he met personally with Truman. (Obama has declined to meet with Netanyahu, citing concern about influencing upcoming elections in Israel.)

In an article in the Jan. 28, 1952 issue, TIME reported on his entrance into the chamber: “The great man, bearing his 77 history laden years with impassive dignity, walked slowly through the standing, clapping U.S. Congressmen. He had aged, of course, but Winston Churchill seemed hardly a shade less pink-cheeked, rocklike and John Bullish than when he spoke before the House and Senate during World War II.”

One of those speeches had been given nine years earlier, on May 19, 1943, when Churchill had spoken to Congress to provide a confident report on wartime progress and to pledge Britain’s support in the fight against Japan. It was “not one of Churchill’s greatest speeches,” TIME reported, “though any other orator might well have envied it.” The bar had been set high by his first appearance, on Dec. 26, 1941, when Churchill arrived in Washington to rally a disheartened nation that was still reeling from the Pearl Harbor attack three weeks earlier.

Wrote TIME:

Churchill arrived like a breath of fresh air, giving Washington new vigor, for he came as a new hero. Churchill—like Franklin Roosevelt, not above criticism at home —is, like Franklin Roosevelt in Britain, a man of unsullied popularity in his ally’s country…. There were tears in Winnie Churchill’s eyes at the ovation which greeted him, from isolationist and interventionist Congressmen alike. He shoved his thick, hornrimmed glasses over his nose, blinked, balanced himself like an old sailor. With a sly grin, he made his joke, established himself as one of the boys.

Then he let go: eloquence, blunt, polished and effective as an old knobkerrie, the growling, galling scorn for his enemies, the passages of noble purple for his friends. Between bursts of applause in which Supreme Court Justices and diplomats joined as lustily as doormen, the galleries wondered whether ever before had such a moving and eloquent speech been made on the Senate floor. Actually it was not so much the speech as the personality that put it over.

Though Churchill’s third speech was received less “lustily,” Netanyahu, who previously spoke to Congress in 1996 and 2011, might learn from the British Prime Minister’s performance that day. Despite the circumstances, and despite not accomplishing all his aims, Churchill’s visit in 1952 ultimately proved helpful.

“In spite of the very serious failure to make progress on Middle East policy,” TIME observed, “the Churchill visit was a success; it reversed the Anglo-American drift away from unity.”

Read TIME’s story about Churchill’s first speech to Congress: The U.S. at War; Great Decisions

TIME National Security

U.S. Intel Chief: Roughly 40 Americans Have Returned From Syria

Director Of Nat'l Intelligence James Clapper Speaks At Council On Foreign Relations
Bryan Thomas—Getty Images Director of National Intelligence James Clapper speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations on March 2, 2015 in New York City.

James Clapper said the U.S. faces more global challenges than at any time in his half-century career in the intelligence community

About 40 Americans have returned from the jihadist battlefields of Syria — but they don’t pose a threat to American security, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said on Monday.

Clapper said during a question-and-answer session at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City that about 180 Americans have attempted to travel or have succeeded in traveling to Syria since the ongoing conflict began. But he said the Americans who have returned went for “humanitarian purposes or some other reasons that don’t relate to plotting” and they have not shown “nefarious” intentions.

“If they come back, and they are not involved in plotting, or don’t have nefarious purpose, that’s their right and privilege as an American citizen to come back,” Clapper said. The office of the Director of National Intelligence did not immediately respond to a request for more information.

About 20,000 foreign fighters from more than 90 countries are believed to have gone to Syria, where the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) has seized large swaths of territory. That has raised fears of radicalized fighters returning to carry out attacks in their home countries.

Last week, the FBI arrested three Brooklyn men and charged them with attempting to provide material support to ISIS. Two of the three men allegedly planned to travel to Syria, and the FBI said the men had discussed coordinating possible domestic attacks.

On Monday, Clapper said the U.S. faces more global challenges than at any time in his half-century career in the intelligence community.

“I’ve been in one capacity or another in the intel business for 52 years, and I don’t remember a time when we have been beset by more crises and challenges around the world and the diversity of these crises and challenges than we have today,” said Clapper, a retired Air Force lieutenant general. That comment came days after he told the Senate Armed Services Committee that 2014 was the most lethal year for global terrorism on record.

In 2014, 13,000 attacks killed 31,000 people around the world, up from 11,500 attacks and 22,000 killed a year earlier, Clapper said at the Senate hearing on Thursday. Fifty percent of those attacks took place in Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan — and ISIS was responsible for more of the attacks than any other group.

Clapper clarified on Monday that the terror assessment he gave Congress was not at odds with a statement from Secretary of State John Kerry, who drew criticism for telling a House subcommittee last week that global violent conflict is lower than it has ever been, saying that Americans were “safer than ever.”

Kerry “was thinking of a different context,” Clapper said. “What he was thinking about was the more cataclysmic case in point of — case with the Cold War. And he’s right; in that context we are a safer country. But I was looking at more the here and now, you know, what happened in 2014 and what kind of what we project out in the next year.”

TIME 2016 Election

Rand Paul Just Lost the Bulgaria Primary

Rand Paul
Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg/Getty Images Senator Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, listens to a question during an interview at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, Feb. 27, 2015.

U.S. ally hits back after the presidential hopeful's dismissive remark

Bulgaria has a bone to pick with Rand Paul.

The country’s Embassy in Washington hit back Friday at comments the Republican presidential hopeful made earlier this week, in which he seemed to dismiss the country’s importance while mounting an attack against Hillary Clinton.

“It goes without saying that Senator Rand Paul’s remark is inappropriate,” the Bulgarian embassy in Washington told TIME in a statement. “His dismissive attitude towards a US and NATO ally and a friendly country and his foreign policy record is to be judged by the American people.”

Paul on Wednesday reiterated his criticism of the former Secretary of State for not paying more attention to the situation on the ground in Libya ahead of the September, 2012 attack on a Benghazi compound that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Clinton has said she didn’t read a diplomatic cable requesting increased security at the compound.

MORE: Republicans Rediscovering Their Old Hawkish Message on Foreign Policy

“I could expect her not to read the cables from Bulgaria,” Paul told Yahoo on Wednesday. “But absolutely it’s inconceivable she didn’t read the cables coming from Benghazi.”

Bulgaria had kinder words for Clinton.

“Not that long time ago Secretary Clinton was on an official visit to Bulgaria,” the embassy added, referring to a 2012 visit by the now-presumptive Democratic presidential front-runner. “She stays engaged with us and is very well aware of the geopolitical realities of the region.”

Paul’s campaign declined to comment Friday on the Bulgarian embassy’s statement. He has long seized on Clinton’s tenure at the State Department and the Benghazi attack in particular as fodder for criticism and to tout his anti-interventionist, libertarian foreign policy ahead of a likely presidential run. Last year, for example, he came out swinging at a talk in Kentucky by pointing to the State Department’s spending bill on embassy décor.

“They spent $700,000 on landscaping at the Brussels embassy,” he said in August. “They spent $5 million on crystal glassware for the embassies around the world.”

The Bulgarian embassy said Paul could benefit from its foreign policy counsel.

“Among EU and NATO Member States Bulgaria is one of those standing closest to the major regional and global security challenges of today,” the statement said. “In this context the information coming from the American Embassy in Sofia might be more than useful to anyone striving to responsibly shape US foreign policy.”

TIME russia

Russian Opposition Leader Shot Dead

Rallies Held In Moscow Ahead of Secession Vote
Sasha Mordovets—Getty Images Russian opposition leader and former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov speaks during a rally against the policies and intervention in Ukraine and a possible war in Crimea, on March 15.

Boris Nemtsov served as deputy prime minister under President Boris Yeltsin

A leading critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin was shot and killed in central Moscow on Friday.

Boris Nemtsov, a deputy prime minister under President Boris Yeltsin, was killed by an unidentified attacker, Russia’s Interfax news agency reports.

President Barack Obama condemned Nemtsov’s murder in a statement Friday. “I admired Nemtsov’s courageous dedication to the struggle against corruption in Russia and appreciated his willingness to share his candid views with me when we met in Moscow in 2009,” he said.

Nemtsov, 55, was a prominent opposition member who was previously considered an economic reformer as governor of the Nizhny Novgorod region following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The opposition has been planning a “Spring” rally on March 1 that aims to draw 100,000 people to the march in Moscow.

TIME Iraq

ISIS May Have Committed Genocide Against Iraq Minorities, Report Says

IRAQ-CONFLICT-IS-YAZIDIS
SAFIN HAMED—AFP/Getty Images Members of the Yazidi minority search for clues on February 3, 2015, that might lead them to missing relatives in the remains of people killed by the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group, a day after Kurdish forces discovered a mass grave near the Iraqi village of Sinuni, in the northwestern Sinjar area.

"Many minority communities continue to live under the threat of mass killing in Iraq," an advocate said

The Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) has systematically targeted minorities in Iraq and may be guilty of committing genocide, a new report from human rights groups says.

The report aims to shed light on the atrocities committed against minority religious groups, including Christians, Yazidis and Turkmen. Based largely on eyewitness accounts and field visits across Iraq, the report says ISIS has committed summary executions, sexual violence and torture that amount to crimes against humanity and possibly genocide.

“Information exists which would support a prima facie case that ISIS forces have committed the crime of genocide against religious minorities in northern Iraq, in particular against the Yezidi minority,” the report says.

The report, released in Brussels on Friday, comes days after ISIS kidnapped at least 90 Assyrian Christian men, women and children in Syria.

MORE: Inside ISIS, a TIME Special Report

ISIS overran large swathes of Iraq last summer and seized the Iraqi city of Mosul in June. Reports of the group’s persecution of the Yazidi population in the country’s north in August helped pushed the White House to launch airstrikes against the extremist group, but the report says the minority groups continue to be at risk even as the U.S.-led coalition air-strikes have halted ISIS’s advance in Iraq. It calls on the international community to provide more support to Iraq’s displaced and persecuted minorities and to bring the ISIS perpetrators to justice.

‘While military action against ISIS dominates the headlines, to date there has been no serious effort to bring the perpetrators of crimes against minorities to justice,” William Spencer, director of the Institute of International Law and Human Rights, said in a statement. The report was co-authored by IILHR, Minority Rights Group International, No Peace Without Justice and The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization.

Thousands of minority women and girls have been raped and forced into marriage, and the minority groups represent a disproportionate number of the more than 2 million people who have been displaced since January 2014, the report found. About 8,000 civilians were killed in the last six months of 2014, according to the United Nations.

“Many minority communities continue to live under the threat of mass killing in Iraq,” Mays Al-Juboori, civilian rights officer at MRG, said in a statement.

TIME

Here Are the Absurd Prices of 9 Items That Help Explain the Venezuela Crisis

People line up outside a state-run Bicentenario supermarket in Caracas, Jan. 9, 2015.
Jorge Silva—Reuters People line up outside a state-run Bicentenario supermarket in Caracas, Jan. 9, 2015.

From $800 sneakers to $31 Value Meals, here's a compilation of some of the most exorbitant prices.

Nowhere else has the collapse of oil prices has taken a higher toll than on Venezuela, where crude provides 95 percent of the country’s export revenue. Already facing recession, Venezuela is on the brink of economic collapse.

As that revenue dried up, the country has been thrown deeper into economic turmoil under President Nicolas Maduro. The economy is expected to contract by 7 percent this year, inflation soared to 69 percent—the highest in the world—and shortages of goods have forced shoppers to line up for hours at supermarkets to buy basic foods and products. The situation descended into the surreal earlier this week when the Prime Minister of neighboring Trinidad & Tobago proposed exchanging Venezuelan oil for Trinidadian tissue paper.

Meanwhile, the confluence of short supplies and government currency restrictions has distorted prices so much that some items are entirely inaccessible for Venezuelans who don’t have access to dollars—which is most of the country. Earlier this month, Bloomberg News reported that a 36-pack of Trojan condoms was available for 4,700 bolivars on the auction website, MercadoLibre, used by Venezuelans to obtain scarce good. According to the official exchange rate, that would amount to roughly $755. (According to the black-market rate for people with dollars, it would be closer to $25, Bloomberg reported.)

To check up on prices, TIME scanned the MercadoLibre auction site and and the crowd-sourced website Expatistan.com, which lists costs of various goods in stores. Here’s a compilation of some of the most exorbitant prices when converted into dollars according to the official exchange rate:

iPhone 5, in original box: $11,433

Rawlings Baseball Glove: $1,809

Nike Free: $796

Dog Food (3 KG): $288

Levi’s 501 Jeans: $405

Nescafe (170 grams): $232

Fast Food Combo Meal: $31

Laundry Detergent (100 Ounces): $31

12 Eggs: $10

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