TIME Vatican

Pope Says There’s ‘No Future for the Young’ If Elderly Aren’t Respected

Pope Francis attends his weekly audience in St. Peter's Square on March 4, 2015 in Vatican City, Vatican.
Massimo Valicchia—NurPhoto Pope Francis attends his weekly audience in St. Peter's Square on March 4, 2015 in Vatican City, Vatican.

“A society where the elderly are discarded carries within it the virus of death"

Pope Francis urged crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday to show respect for the elderly, saying people will be judged by how they treat their older counterparts.

“Where the elderly are not honored, there is no future for the young,” Pope Francis told the 12,000 followers who attended his weekly address, Vatican Radio reports.“A society where the elderly are discarded carries within it the virus of death.”

The 78-year-old Argentine pontiff denounced the lack of care with which people treat their elders, even as life expectancy has increased. “If we do not learn to look after and to respect our elderly, we will be treated in the same way,” he warned. “The quality of a society, I mean of a civilization, is also judged by how it treats elderly people and by the place it gives them in community life.”

[Vatican Radio]

TIME Australia

Part of Australia Might Change Time Zones to Avoid TV Spoilers

It's good for live-tweeting

The Australian government is considering changing South Australia’s time zone to align with the clocks of either Western Australia or the country’s eastern states.

“South Australia’s half-hour time difference to the eastern states and 90-minute difference to Western Australia can cause confusion across the spectrum of our daily lives—from sporting fixtures to public-service administration and business transactions,” South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill said in comments reported by the Wall Street Journal.

But there’s another reason the government thinks the change might be a good move: avoiding TV spoilers. “Most of us have a story about spoilers—like hearing the winner of MasterChef from an interstate friend just as the finale is getting interesting on our local TV station,” reads a government website calling for citizen input. “It puts us adrift of most other Australians.”

The region’s television industry is already on board. South Australia’s networks have turned in a joint statement in support of aligning with the eastern states, highlighting “the benefits of up to the minute national news and current affairs, and live social media interaction with popular programs,” according to Investment and Trade Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith.

Yes, the future of Australian time zones could just come down to live-tweeting.


TIME Television

Watch Conan O’Brien Sing, Dance and Shop His Way Round Cuba

TBS has released a preview of the late-night host's special from Cuba

Conan O’Brien’s much-hyped visit to Cuba airs on Wednesday at 11 p.m., and TBS has released a sneak peek.

In the clip, the TV funnyman dances with locals, sings karaoke, visits shops and chats with the “Cuban Andy.”

O’Brien visited the country in mid-February, becoming the first late-night host in more than 50 years to film a show in the country. The last time an American late-show visited Cuba was in 1959, when the Tonight Show‘s Jack Paar interviewed Fidel Castro.

TIME Ukraine

Coal Mine Blast in Eastern Ukraine Kills 1, Traps Dozens

Relatives of miners leave the main entrance of the Zasyadko mine in Donetsk after a blast occured on March 4, 2015.
John MacDougall—AFP/Getty Images Relatives of miners leave the main entrance of the Zasyadko mine in Donetsk after a blast occured on March 4, 2015.

With more than 30 workers trapped, miners were enlisted to clear rubble, but operations were hampered by limited access to the deep subterranean network

(DONETSK, Ukraine) — An explosion ripped through a coal mine before dawn Wednesday in war-torn eastern Ukraine, killing at least one miner, rebel and government officials said. An injured miner reported seeing five bodies.

With more than 30 workers trapped, miners were enlisted to clear rubble, but operations were hampered by limited access to the deep subterranean network.

The explosion at the Zasyadko mine in Donetsk, an eastern city under separatist control, was not caused by shelling, rebel authorities said. Eastern Ukraine has been wracked by fighting between government forces and Russian-backed rebels for almost a year, a conflict that has killed more than 6,000 people.

The blast Wednesday occurred more than 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) underground as 230 workers were in the mine, separatist authorities in Donetsk said in a statement, blaming a combustible mixture of methane and air — a common cause of industrial mining accidents.

By mid-afternoon, one miner was confirmed dead, 198 workers had been evacuated from the mine and the fate of 32 others was unknown, Donetsk rebel officials said.

It was not possible to immediately reconcile the figures given by different authorities.

One lightly wounded miner being evacuated, who gave his name only as Sergei, told The Associated Press that he saw five bodies being pulled out, but provided no further details.

Another injured miner, 42-year-old Igor Murygin, said at a hospital in Donetsk that he was blown off his feet by the impact of the explosion.

“When I came to, there was dust everywhere. People were groaning,” said Murygin, who doctors said had burns over 20 percent of his body.

Murygin said the mine had installed new equipment and that nothing appeared to be out of order.

The rebels said 15 miners were sent to medical centers in Donetsk.

“For now, I can say only that 32 people are below ground. One person has died,” Ivan Prikhodko, administrative head of the Kiev district in Donetsk, where the affected mine is located, told Donetsk News Agency. “Until rescuers get to them, speaking about how many people have died would be unethical.”

A mine rescue services representative, Yuliana Bedilo, also said only one death had been confirmed.

Miners arriving for their morning shift, shortly after the accident, have helped in the recovery operation. Reaching the stricken portion of the mine has been complicated, however, as one of the three entrances has been forced closed by artillery shelling that has blighted Donetsk. That entrance is the closest to the area where the trapped miners are located.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said in Kiev that rebels had prevented a team of 60 Ukrainian rescue workers from reaching the mine to provide assistance. But leading rebel representative Denis Pushilin denied that Ukrainian authorities had offered any help.

“If we truly need assistance, we will turn to Russia,” Pushilin was quoted as saying by the Donetsk News Agency.

Separatist officials trickled into the grounds of the mine throughout the morning, but all refused to respond to questions, a stance that frustrated many miners’ families.

Valentina Petrova came to the Zasyadko mine looking for her 47-year-old son, Vladimir.

“He was supposed to retire next year. Everyone is angry that they say on TV that 32 people died but nobody tells us anything,” she said.

Workers complained volubly about the long history of safety violations at the Zasyadko mine.

One, who gave only his first name, Kostya, said two of his brothers had been injured in earlier blasts at the same mine.

“We work like crazy for peanuts. We want this place to be safe. We want our children to be able to work here,” he told the AP.

The mine has a history of deadly accidents, including one in November 2007 that killed 101 workers, and two more in December 2007 that killed 52 miners and then five more workers.

Ninety-nine people were killed in Ukraine’s coal mines in 2014, according to mining safety bodies. Thirteen of those deaths were a direct result of the war in the east, where mines have frequently been struck in artillery duels between rebel and Ukrainian government forces.


Peter Leonard in Kiev, Ukraine, contributed to this report.

TIME China

Official Says China to Boost Military Budget by 10%

Chinese military officers arrive at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, March 4, 2015
Ng Han Guan—AP Chinese military officers arrive at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 4, 2015

The military budget will grow by almost 10% despite slowing economic growth

(BEIJING) — China’s military budget will grow by about 10 percent in the coming year, a legislative spokeswoman said Wednesday, despite slowing economic growth that fell to 7.4 percent last year and is expected to further decline in 2015.

It would be a slightly smaller rise than last year, but would reflect the fifth year in a row of double-digit increases, bringing the total military budget to about $145 billion. The Pentagon and global arms bodies estimate actual spending may be anywhere from 40 to 50 percent more because the budget doesn’t include the costs of high-tech weapons imports, research and development, and other key programs.

The higher spending is seen as a reflection of China’s growing economic might and its desire to assert itself in the region and internationally. Beijing says the bigger budgets are merely aimed at modernizing and improving conditions for the 2.3 million-member strong People’s Liberation Army, the world’s largest standing military.

The planned increase of about 10 percent — to be confirmed Thursday at the opening of the National People’s Congress — is in line with the overall increase in government spending planned for 2015, NPC spokeswoman Fu Ying told a news conference.

“China has a tougher road to travel than other large nations in terms of national defense modernization. We can only rely on ourselves for research and development of most of our military technology,” Fu said. “Meanwhile, we need to ceaselessly improve conditions for our soldiers.”

Fu reiterated China’s position that it maintained a strictly defensive military posture and had never used “gunboats to open routes” as a means of advancing its economic and trade interests.

Despite such assurances, China’s spending draws comparisons to trends among other countries in the region, many of which have been unnerved by China’s rise.

Japan increased its defense budget by2.8 percent this year to a record $42 billion, the third consecutive year of increases following 11 years of declines prior to hawkish Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s rise to power in 2012. Planes and naval vessels to counter China’s growing capabilities top the Japanese military’s shopping list.

Even more dramatically, India, the world’s biggest arms importer in recent years, increased its spending this year by 11 percent to $40 billion, with big increases for the navy and air force. China and India have a disputed land border and New Delhi has expressed concern about the PLA navy’s growing presence in the Indian Ocean.

China’s spending is still less than a third of the U.S. defense budget, a proposed $534 billion this year along with $51 billion for the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. But it comes against a background of anticipated flat or falling American spending on its armed forces in coming years.

China is seeking to improve conditions for the military amid rising labor costs and competition with the private sector for top graduates in science and technology.

The need for ever-more sophisticated weaponry is increasing its costs, with the addition of an aircraft carrier combat wing and the rolling out of two prototype stealth fighters.

China’s main security challenges range from its contested frontier with India high in the Himalayas to disputes over waters and islands in the South China Sea and a bitter spat with Japan over an uninhabited archipelago in the East China Sea.

New missions are also taking the PLA beyond its previous mandate to guard China’s borders and prepare for any contingencies involving Taiwan, the self-governing island democracy that Beijing has pledged to take control of, by force if necessary.

Alongside its active participation in United Nations peacekeeping missions, China is now poised to pass a new anti-terrorism law that would permit it to send military forces overseas to take part in such missions if granted permission by the host nation.

However, China’s forces are also seen as being hampered by political interference and top commanders have lately come under scrutiny as part of a nationwide crackdown on corruption.

Already, President Xi Jinping has overseen the arrests of two top generals, including the military’s retired No. 2, Xu Caihou, and this week announced a further list of 14 top officers who are now under investigation or have been convicted of crimes such as selling ranks, embezzling funds or taking kickbacks on contracts for housing and other projects.

TIME China

Joaquin Phoenix Speaks Out Against China’s Brutal Dog-Leather Industry in New Video

Actor Joaquin Phoenix attends 'Vizio Di Forma - Inherent Vice' photocall at Hotel De Russie on January 26, 2015 in Rome, Italy.
Elisabetta A. Villa—Getty Images Actor Joaquin Phoenix attends 'Vizio Di Forma - Inherent Vice' photocall at Hotel De Russie on January 26, 2015 in Rome, Italy.

It's "one of the worst things" the actor has ever seen

Hollywood star and longtime vegan Joaquin Phoenix has taken a stand against China’s dog-leather industry in a new video campaign by animal-rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

The sickening footage claims to show workers at a slaughterhouse in northeast China’s Hebei province beating dogs to death with a stick before having their throats slit and their skin ripped from their bodies.

Some are supposedly still alive when they are skinned.

In the clip, the Inherent Vice actor says it was “one of the worst things I’ve ever seen.”

The footage, originally released in December, is from a yearlong investigation conducted by PETA’s Asia department into China’s dog-leather industry.

The facility in the clip told PETA they bludgeoned 100 to 200 dogs every day and when the film was shot they had 300 dogs in the compound waiting to be killed.

Dog leather, which is cheaper to produce than material from cows or sheep, can be made into gloves, coat trims and other accessories, and is exported all over the globe.

China is the world largest leather producer, with exports this year slated to top $270 billion, but there are no penalties against abusing animals killed for their skin.

PETA claims the leather from such factories could end up in shops on U.S. or European high streets because, unless the skin is DNA tested, you won’t know where or what animal, it came from.

“If you buy leather gloves, belts or shoes, remember,” says Phoenix, who has appeared in several other PETA campaigns, “there’s no easy way to tell whose skin you’re really in.”

Warning: The video contains extremely graphic footage which viewers may find distressing.


TIME India

India Bans Documentary Featuring Interview With Infamous Delhi Rapist

British filmmaker Udwin speaks during a news conference in New Delhi
Anindito Mukherjee—Reuters British filmmaker Leslee Udwin speaks during a news conference in New Delhi on March 3, 2015

Speaking from prison, Mukesh Singh blames his victim for fighting back and being outside late at night

India has banned a documentary on the fatal gang rape of a young woman in New Delhi, which features one of the assailants blaming his victim in an interview.

The city’s police obtained a court order late Tuesday preventing Indian television channels from broadcasting the film because of its “objectionable content,” Agence France-Presse reported.

“We have only seen the promotional parts of the film. Based on that we took the matter to court because we felt that it will cause likely apprehension of public disorder,” said police spokesman Rajan Bhagat.

The documentary, India’s Daughter, is directed by British filmmaker Leslee Udwin and was due to be shown across seven countries on International Women’s Day this Sunday.

Mukesh Singh, one of the five men convicted for the 2012 incident that made international headlines and prompted waves of public shock and outrage across India, tells Udwin in the film that the woman could have avoided being murdered by not fighting back. He and four others, including a 17-year-old, picked up the woman and her male friend on Dec. 16, 2012, in a charter bus they had taken for a joyride. They beat up the friend before brutally raping the woman and injuring her internal organs. The woman died two weeks later, triggering widespread protests and subsequent harsher legal reforms against sexual assault in India.

Singh, who was driving the bus, also says rape is a woman’s own fault if she is out at night. “A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy,” he said. “Boys and girls are not equal. Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night doing wrong things, wearing wrong clothes.”

Officials at New Delhi’s Tihar Jail, where Udwin interviewed Singh in his cell, told the Associated Press that the film could not be released without their approval. “We want to see the documentary,” spokesman Mukesh Prasad said.

India’s home minister Rajnath Singh said he was “deeply hurt” when he heard about the documentary and was surprised that access to the jail was granted in the first place. Addressing the upper house of the Indian Parliament on Wednesday, Singh said Udwin violated the condition that the documentary was to be used only for social purposes and not broadcast publicly, according to local media.

But Udwin insists she obtained all the necessary clearances from authorities, and told reporters she submitted unedited and edited versions of the documentary.

“My heart is broken with this court order,” she told AFP. “The more they try to stop the film, the more they are going to pique people’s interest. Now, everyone is going to want to see it.”

TIME Ukraine

Top U.S. General Says Washington Should Consider Arming Ukraine

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin Dempsey testifies before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill
Joshua Roberts—Reuters Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army General Martin Dempsey testifies before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 3, 2015

"Putin’s ultimate objective is to fracture NATO," says General Martin Dempsey

The U.S. military’s leading general says Washington should now consider providing Ukrainian forces with lethal aid to help combat the nation’s pro-Kremlin insurgency.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey argued during a Senate hearing on Tuesday that the allegedly Russian-backed rebellion threatens to undo more than six decades of peace in Europe and could potentially splinter the NATO alliance.

“I think we should absolutely consider lethal aid and it ought to be in the context of NATO allies because Putin’s ultimate objective is to fracture NATO,” Dempsey told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The general’s remarks echo similar pleas made in recent months by a plethora of top American foreign policy officials. The U.S. has already provided approximately $100 million in nonlethal aid to Ukraine, but has refrained thus far from directly arming the country.

However, experts question whether supplying Kiev with advanced weaponry would force the Kremlin to reassess its policy goals in Ukraine.

“Russia is not going to give up in Ukraine, because it is protecting its strategic interests in Ukraine,” Alexander Korolev, a research fellow at the National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, tells TIME. “Even if the costs of the conflict are very high for Russia, Russia will be willing to bear those costs.”

On Monday, the U.N. published a report claiming that an estimated 6,000 people have been killed and at least 1 million displaced since the pro-Russian uprising erupted in southeastern Ukraine last April.

“All aspects of people’s lives are being negatively affected, and the situation is increasingly untenable for the local inhabitants, especially in areas controlled by the armed groups,” said Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, in a statement.

Representatives from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe reported this week that fighting in rebel strongholds in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions appears to be waning, after a tenuous cease-fire was inked in Belarus last month.

But during a press conference in Tokyo on Tuesday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said lasting peace wouldn’t be achievable until Moscow returns the Crimea peninsula, which was annexed by Russian forces last March.

“There could be no slightest way of normalizing or getting back to business in the relations between Ukraine and Russia without returning to status quo and establishing full Ukrainian sovereignty over Crimea,” he said.

TIME Australia

Australia Secretly Culled Almost 700 Koalas, Minister Reveals

John White Photos—Getty Images/Flickr Open

The region is facing problems such as the overpopulation and starvation of koalas

Authorities in southern Australia secretly killed hundreds of koalas in an effort to control their population, a state minister revealed on Wednesday.

A total of 686 of the furry marsupials from Cape Otway in the state of Victoria were sedated and euthanized by wildlife officials in 2013 and 2014, Australian news channel ABC reported.

“It is clear it’s an overpopulation issue and it is clear that we have had koalas suffer in that Cape Otway area because of ill health and starvation,” said Lisa Neville, the state’s environment minister.

Neville stressed a desire to be “transparent” with the Australian people in the future and said a koala-management program would be put in place for the iconic native animals, many of whom also die naturally because of lack of food.


TIME Australia

Australian DJs Whose Prank Call Led to Nurse’s Death Broke the Law, Says Court

People gather in the foyer of the building that houses the 2Day FM radio station in Sydney December 6, 2012.
Daniel Munoz—Reuters People gather in the foyer of the building that houses the 2Day FM radio station in Sydney December 6, 2012.

2Day FM could potentially have its broadcast license suspended

The High Court of Australia has ruled that two Sydney radio presenters broke the law when they phoned a London hospital posing as the Queen and Prince Charles in a prank that eventually led a nurse to take her own life.

In 2012, DJs Michael Christian and Mel Greig from 2Day FM phoned the hospital that was treating the Duchess of Cambridge for morning sickness to try to obtain details of her condition, reports ABC.

Nurse Jacintha Saldhana answered the call and following a media storm later killed herself.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) had originally ruled the station had breached New South Wales surveillance and broadcast law as they did not seek permission from hospital staff before the call.

But 2Day FM successfully appealed, saying the media watchdog had no power to determine whether they had committed a criminal offense.

On Wednesday, the High Court overturned the appeal, ruling the ACMA did in fact have the power to judge criminal actions of broadcasters.

The radio station faces serious penalties and could potentially have its broadcast license suspended.


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