TIME Natural Disasters

‘Isis’ Removed From UN List of Hurricane Names

It was replaced with Ivette

Don’t expect Hurricane Isis to hit anytime soon.

The U.N. has removed “Isis” from its official list of future hurricane names, deeming it inappropriate because of the rise of the militant group the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), Reuters reports.

Clare Nullis, spokesperson for the U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO), said it’s not unprecedented for the group to strike hurricane names.

“Names are knocked off the list, which rotates every six years, if they are considered inappropriate if they caused too much damage and too much death,” Nullis said.

She told TIME how the process works to take a name off the list: “There was consensus on this. These sorts of decisions are always taken by consensus, there is never a vote.”

The WMO Hurricane Committee has replaced the name Isis with Ivette.

 

TIME China

China Building Runway in Disputed South China Sea Islands

Airstrip construction on Fiery Cross Reef in the South China Sea, seen in a satellite image taken on April 2, 2015.
Reuters Airstrip construction on Fiery Cross Reef in the South China Sea, seen in a satellite image taken on April 2, 2015.

The runway could increase China's influence in the region

China is building a runway capable of handling military aircraft in disputed territory in the South China Sea, according to a recent satellite image released Thursday.

The runway on a reef in the Spratly Islands, an archipelago also claimed in part by Vietnam and the Philippines, could stretch to nearly 10,000 feet and expand China’s influence in a region where at least six countries have overlapping claims. U.S. officials have expressed growing concern over China using reefs to build artificial islands and expand its military presence in the area. China has acknowledged that the islands will serve both civilian and military purposes, according to the New York Times.

President Obama said last week that he had concerns of China using “its sheer size and muscle to force countries into subordinate positions.”

“We think this can be solved diplomatically, but just because the Philippines or Vietnam are not as large as China doesn’t mean that they can just be elbowed aside,” added Obama.

Satellite images detail China's construction activity on Fiery Cross Reef.
EPASatellite images detail China’s construction activity on Fiery Cross Reef.

Construction on the runway appears to have begun in the past few months.

Read next: Veteran Chinese Journalist Gao Yu Sentenced to 7 Years

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Vietnam War

The Last 48 Hours of the Vietnam War in Photos

As thousands fled Saigon and others steeled themselves for takeover, photographers captured a city bracing for the end of war

On April 28, 1975, Saigon was under curfew as North Vietnamese forces drew near. The capital city that for years had evaded attack was now characterized, TIME reported, by “a strange blend of serenity and fear.” Some streets were clogged with a cavalry of bicycles, pedicabs and trucks heading for anywhere but where they were. In other corners, life went on as though it weren’t about to change irrevocably.

The following day, helicopters began airlifting evacuees as Americans and South Vietnamese clamored for spots. Some residents holed up in their homes and waited while others desperately sought a way out, whether by air, by sea or by the benevolence of strangers. One 18-year-old girl placed a classified ad in the Saigon Post, seeking “adoption by or marriage with foreigner of American, French, British, German or other nationality.”

At 10:24 on the morning of April 30, Duong Van Minh, president for all of two days, announced the unconditional surrender of South Vietnam. At midday, tanks stormed through the gates of the Presidential Palace, where Minh waited to cede what power he had left, and a war that had raged for two decades was over.

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LizabethRonk.

TIME

Is Saudi Arabia Setting the World Up for Major Oil Price Spike?

saudi-arabia-flag
Getty Images

Saudi Arabia will have very little spare capacity if and when the need arises

In order to maintain a grip on market share by pushing U.S. shale producers out of the market, Saudi Arabia (and OPEC) is willing to use up its spare capacity. That could lead to a price spike.

Saudi Arabia produced 10.3 million barrels per day in the month of March, a 658,000 barrel-per-day increase over the previous month. That is the highest level of production in three decades for the leading OPEC member. On top of the Saudi increase, Iraq boosted output by 556,000 barrels per day, and Libya succeeded in bringing 183,000 barrels per day back online. OPEC is now collectively producing nearly 31.5 million barrels per day, well above the cartel’s stated quota of just 30 million barrels per day.

Read more: Latest EIA Predictions Should Be Taken With More Than A Pinch Of Salt

The enormous increase in production comes into a market that is still dealing with extraordinarily low prices. The move could be interpreted as a stepped up effort on behalf of Saudi Arabia to maintain market share at all costs. More output will prolong the slump in oil prices, which will force even more U.S. shale production out of the market. The signs of success are already showing – the U.S. is set to lose 57,000 barrels per day in production in May, and rig counts are still falling.

The increase in Saudi production would also suggest that global markets are well-supplied. But, more Saudi oil comes at the cost of a shrinking global spare capacity. Saudi Arabia is essentially the only oil producer that has significant slack production capabilities, which can be ramped up or down depending on market conditions. That is what has allowed Saudi Arabia to influence prices to its liking for so many years. But when the Kingdom produces near flat out, it starts to run out of ammo. It is kind of like a central bank running interest rates near zero – once you are at that point, you run out of tools in the event that you need to do more.

Read more: Why It Won’t Matter If Oil Prices Rebound

OPEC’s actual levels of spare capacity are somewhat opaque, which makes estimates difficult. But Saudi Arabia producing at its highest level in three decades certainly eats into that reserve. Moreover, Saudi Arabia typically consumes more oil in the summer for domestic purposes, which could further shrink spare capacity in the months ahead. PIRA Energy Group warned of such a scenario in its latest weekly oil report. “Incremental Saudi crude burn demand could push its volume this summer to levels that would substantially reduce global spare capacity, at a time when oil markets will be tighter and geopolitical risks to supply are growing,” PIRA wrote on April 14. Spare capacity may shrink to just 1.7 million barrels per day.

Saudi Arabia is succeeding in pushing out U.S. shale production, but in the meantime, the world is getting hooked on low prices. Oil demand is growing quickly – the IEA predicts global demand will jump from 92.66 million barrels per day in the second quarter up to 94.67 million barrels per day in the fourth quarter.

That will put oil markets in an interesting situation. U.S. production will continue to shrink as the year goes on and Saudi Arabia will have very little spare capacity. If a supply disruption occurs somewhere – more loss of Libyan oil, violence in the Middle East, or a faster-than-expected drop off in U.S. production – the Saudis will be left with little firepower to control a price spike (not that a price spike would necessarily be bad for them).

Read more: Top 12 Media Myths On Oil Prices

There is an argument that U.S. shale has emerged as a sort of collective swing producer – shale operations ramp up and down much quicker than conventional drilling. But they don’t turn on and off that quickly. They can’t mimic the latent supply that the Saudi’s have in their back pocket. Furthermore, shale production is the result of drilling by hundreds of companies, and future investments and drilling will be made by private individuals based on individual financial circumstances, as opposed to state-level geostrategic calculations.

In other words, shale producers, now that they are shrinking their footprints and production levels, will not be able to step up to the plate in a pinch. If global supplies shrink unexpectedly, and Saudi Arabia has run down its spare capacity to low levels, oil markets will tighten to a precarious point.

This article originally appeared on Oilprice.com.

More from Oilprice.com:

TIME conflict

Saddam Deputy Killed Near Tikrit, Iraqi Officials Say

Iraqi Vice chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri salutes during a ceremony at the Martyrs Monument in Baghdad, Iraq on Dec. 1, 2002 Gov. Raed al-Jabouri says soldiers and allied Shiite militiamen killed al-Douri on April 17, 2015 in an operation east of the city of Tikrit.
Jassim Mohammed—AP Iraqi Vice chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri salutes during a ceremony at the Martyrs Monument in Baghdad, Iraq on Dec. 1, 2002 Gov. Raed al-Jabouri says soldiers and allied Shiite militiamen killed al-Douri on April 17, 2015 in an operation east of the city of Tikrit.

Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri remained a wanted fugitive since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi officials said Friday they believe that government forces killed Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, the former deputy of Saddam Hussein who for over a decade was the top fugitive from the ousted regime and became an underground figure involved in Sunni insurgencies, most recently allying with Islamic State militants.

It was not the first time Iraqi officials have claimed to have killed or captured al-Douri, who was the “king of clubs” in the deck of playing cards issued to help American troops identify key regime fugitives after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion ousted Saddam. DNA tests were underway to confirm whether a body recovered from fighting around the city of Tikrit was al-Douri’s.

Reports of al-Douri’s death came as Iraqi forces are trying to push back Islamic State group fighters in Salahuddin province, where Tikrit is located. Government troops took back several towns near the country’s largest oil refinery at Beiji in the province, officials said.

Further north, a large car bomb exploded Friday afternoon next to the U.S. Consulate in the northern city of Irbil, a rare attack in the capital of the Kurdish autonomy zone. Iraqi police officials said three people were killed and five were wounded in the bombing. U.S. officials said there were no American casualties or casualties among consulate personnel or guards.

An Associated Press reporter at the scene said the powerful blast went off outside a cafe next to the building in Irbil’s Ankawa neighborhood, setting several nearby cars on fire. Shortly afterward, the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the Irbil attack, reported the SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks militant websites.

According to the governor of Salahuddin province, Raed al-Jabouri, al-Douri was killed by Iraqi troops and Shiite militiamen in an operation in the Talal Hamreen mountains east of Tikrit, Saddam’s hometown, which was retaken from the Islamic State group earlier this month.

Troops opened fire at a convoy carrying al-Douri and nine bodyguards, killing all of them, Gen. Haider al-Basri, a senior Iraqi commander, told state TV.

The government issues several photos showing a body purported to be al-Douri. The body had a bright red beard, perhaps dyed, and a ginger-colored moustache. Al-Douri was a fair-skinned redhead with a ginger moustache, making him distinctive among Saddam’s inner circle.

DNA tests were underway to confirm the identity of the body, Iraqi intelligence officials told The AP, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media. In 2013, the Iraqi government said it arrested al-Douri, circulating a photo of a bearded man who resembled the former Baathist. It later said it was a case of mistaken identity.

Col. Pat Ryder, spokesman for U.S. Central Command, said the U.S. has no information to corroborate the reported death of al-Douri.

Al-Douri was officially the No. 2 man in Iraq’s ruling hierarchy. He served as vice chairman of Saddam’s Revolutionary Command Council, was one of Saddam’s few longtime confidants and his daughter was married briefly to Saddam’s son, Odai, who was killed with his brother, Qusai, by U.S. troops in Mosul.

When Saddam’s Baathist regime collapsed as U.S. troops occupied Baghdad, al-Douri disappeared. He was No. 6 on the most-wanted list of 55 Iraqis after the invasion. When Saddam was killed months later and more regime figures were caught, al-Douri became the most prominent fugitive — and U.S. authorities soon linked him to the Sunni insurgencies that erupted against the American occupation and the Shiite-led government that replaced Saddam.

Early in the war, U.S. authorities linked al-Douri to Ansar al-Islam, a militant group with ties to al-Qaida, and he was accused of being a major financier of the insurgency. Sunni former officers from Saddam’s military and police were believed to have played large roles in the insurgency, whether with al-Qaida or other factions.

Al-Douri emerged as a leader of the shadowy Army of the Men of the Naqshabandi Order. The group depicts itself as a nationalist force defending Iraq’s Sunni minority from Shiite rule and as an alternative to the extremist version of Islam championed by al-Qaida. But last year, when the Islamic State group — the successor to al-Qaida’s branch in Iraq — launched a blitz across much of western and northern Iraq, al-Douri, the Naqshabandi Army and other former Saddam-era officers reportedly entered a shaky alliance with it.

When Tikrit was overrun by the Sunni militant group last June, witnesses said fighters raised posters of Saddam and al-Douri. Fighters loyal to his Naqshabandi Army as well as former members of Saddam’s Baath Party were the main militant force in Tikrit at the time of its capture, local residents told The AP at the time. Still, the Naqshabandi Army criticized IS atrocities, including the persecution of religious minorities and the burning of a Jordanian coalition pilot in Syria.

Iraqi security forces recaptured al-Douri’s hometown of Dawr in March as part of its large-scale offensive to retake Tikrit. Government forces seized control of Tikrit on April 1.

In Washington, Deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said there were no U.S. casualties among consulate staff or local guard staff in the Irbil attack.

Also Friday, Iraqi security forces gained full control over a contested area south of the Beiji refinery as part of their push to secure the rest of Salahuddin province.

General Ayad al-Lahabi, a commander with the Salahuddin Command Center, said the military, backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes and Shiite and Sunni militias dubbed the Popular Mobilization Forces, gained control of the towns of al-Malha and al-Mazraah, located 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) south of the Beiji oil refinery, killing at least 160 militants with the Islamic State group.

Al-Lahabi said security forces are trying to secure two corridors around the refinery itself after the Sunni militants launched a large-scale attack on the complex earlier this week, hitting the refinery walls with explosive-laced Humvees.

Extremists from the Islamic State group seized much of Salahuddin province last summer during their advance across northern and western Iraq. The battle for Tikrit was seen as a key step toward eventually driving the militants out of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city and the capital of Nineveh province. In November, Iraqi security forces said they had recaptured the town of Beiji from the militant group. The refinery had never been captured by the militants but has been subjected to frequent attacks by the group.

In Iraq’s western Anbar province, Iraqi special forces maintained control of the provincial capital, Ramadi, after days of intense clashes with the Islamic State group left the city at risk. Sabah Nuaman, a special forces commander in Anbar, said the situation had improved early Friday after airstrikes hit key militant targets on the city’s fringes.

Sabah al-Karhout, head of Anbar’s provincial council, said there were no major attacks on the city Friday but that the militants still maintained control of three villages to the east of Ramadi, which they captured Wednesday, sending thousands of civilians fleeing for safety.

In Baghdad, a series of bombings ripped through the city on Friday, mainly targeting public places and killing at least 40 people, Iraqi officials said. No group claimed responsibility for the latest attacks, though the Islamic State has taken credit for similar attacks in the past, especially those targeting Shiites, as well as Iraqi security forces and government buildings.

TIME energy

100 Billion Barrels of Oil Below Gatwick? Maybe Not

A sign at Gatwick airport in London, England.
Matt Dunham—AP A sign at Gatwick airport in London, England.

The figure is merely an estimate of the entire area and not the plots licensed to drill

Only last week UK Oil and Gas Investments (UKOG) announced that it had discovered an oilfield in the Weald Basin near London’s Gatwick Airport holding as much as 100 billion barrels of oil. Shares in UKOG immediately soared.

A week later, Stephen Sanderson, UKOG’s CEO, says he’s not certain how much oil is in the field. The value of his company’s stocks immediately plunged by 18 percent, but managed to rally and level off to record a modest loss.

But Sanderson appeared certain on April 9 when he announced the discovery, declaring. “Based on what we’ve found here, we’re looking at between 50 and 100 billion barrels of oil in place in the ground. We believe we can recover between 5 percent and 15 percent of the oil in the ground.”

Read more: Top 12 Media Myths On Oil Prices

The upshot was that UKOG drilling in the Weald Basin could produce between 10 percent and 30 percent of Britain’s demand.

That was encouraging news to investors and Britons eager for their nation to become energy independent, but it also generated some skepticism. After all, 100 billion barrels of oil was about the same as the proven oil reserves of Kuwait, and would be more than twice as much oil as Britain has produced from the North Sea in the past 40 years.

The Weald Basin discovery seemed at first to be a savior for Britain’s oil industry as the nation’s North Sea operations are becoming less productive and more expensive. Costs for drilling there have risen by 8 percent while the global drop in oil prices has dramatically cut energy companies’ revenues to lows not seen in 17 years.

Read more: Is Private Equity Distorting E&P Asset Prices?

But now the Weald Basin appears not to be such a savior. UKOG’s statement of clarification said the figure of 100 billion barrels of oil is merely an estimate of the entire area and not the plots where the company has licenses to drill, called Horse Hill. These plots take up about 5 percent of the entire Weald Basin.

“The company has not undertaken work outside of its license areas sufficient to comment on the possible oil in place in either the approximate 1,100 square miles or the whole of the Weald Basin,” the company’s clarification said.

Read more: What The Iran Nuclear Deal Could Mean For Asia

This statement supported critical comments by Matthew Jurecky, director of oil and gas research at the consulting firm GlobalData. “Estimates for 100 billion barrels of oil are very misleading,” he said shortly after UKOG’s initial announcement. “Rarely are formations that homologous [similar in structure] where a single discovery can be extrapolated over a very wide area.”

The discovery, however big or small it may be, also has piqued the ire of British environmentalists. In its initial announcement, UKOG said the oil is held in shale, but that the underground rock is naturally fractured, meaning there would be no need for controversial hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, but only conventional methods to release the oil.

“UKOG has backtracked on the wild claims it made last week and admitted that it has no idea how much oil is under the Sussex Weald,” said Brenda Pollack, Friends of the Earth’s South East campaigner. “This is yet another example of the potential for shale oil and gas being overhyped by an industry desperate to starting pumping profits with little concern for residents or the climate.”

This article originally appeared on Oilprice.com.

More from Oilprice.com:

TIME Bizarre

It’s Raining Worms in Norway

And it's not even the first time

Forget cats and dogs. It’s been raining worms in Norway.

Biology teacher Karstein Erstad recently came across “thousands of earthworms” on top of snow at least half a yard deep while skiing on mountains outside Bergen, according to The Local, an English-language European news network.

“It’s a very rare phenomenon,” he said, citing reports he found of worm rainfall in the 1920s. “It’s difficult to say how many times it happens, but it has only been reported a very few times.”

“People have now observed the same phenomenon in many places in Norway,” added Erstad. “It’s very peculiar, I don’t know why so many people have discovered it. I don’t know if there have been some special weather conditions lately.”

[The Local]

TIME Canada

Report Finds Radio Station ‘Condoned’ Presenter’s Sexual Harassment

Former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi, left, and his lawyer, Marie Henein, arrive at court in Toronto on Jan. 8, 2015.
Nathan Denette—AP Former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi, left, and his lawyer, Marie Henein, arrive at court in Toronto on Jan. 8, 2015.

An independent report found CBC turned a blind eye to Jian Ghomeshi's behavior towards women

More than six months after the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation fired its popular radio host Jian Ghomeshi amid revelations of sexual assault and harassment, an independent report has found that the broadcaster itself had failed to previously investigate complaints made about their star. The report, released on Thursday, determined that Ghomeshi’s behavior was “considered to create an intimidating, humiliating, hostile or offensive work environment” and concluded that “CBC management condoned this behavior.”​​

After Ghomeshi was quietly fired from his gig hosting the CBC’s flagship radio program Q back in October, the 47-year-old star posted on Facebook that he had been dismissed because he enjoyed “adventurous forms of sex” and was being smeared by a jealous ex-girlfriend. Yet soon after the Toronto Star published a story featuring allegations by women who said that they had been punched or choked by the radio star without consent. The Star story also included allegations of sexual harassment by a former Q employee. The revelation spurred more women to come forward with their own allegations about Ghomeshi and, in November, the disgraced host was formally charged and now faces seven counts of sexual assault and one count of “overcome resistance – choking.” Ghomeshi has repeatedly denied that he inflicted any non-consensual violence.

For their part, the CBC said that the Ghomeshi was fired after executives saw what they described as evidence that he had physically injured a woman. But the company soon faced questions over when higher-ups were first made aware of Ghomeshi’s reported harassment of women in the workplace. Janice Rubin, an independent investigator and a Toronto employment lawyer who works in the field of workplace harassment, was hired to examine the CBC’s handling of Ghomeshi. Her report also found that the CBC had failed to provide its staff a workplace “free from disrespectful and abusive behavior.”

“Less prevalent, but also present in a small number of cases, was behavior that constituted sexual harassment,” the report adds, although it states that management was unaware of the allegations of harassment. The report says that when information about Ghomeshi’s behavior was shared “upwards,” it had a tendency to become “diluted,” and also cites three instances where management failed to investigate allegations and concerns about Ghomeshi’s behavior while he was working for the corporation.

The CBC also announced on Thursday that two managers — Chris Boyce, in radio, and Todd Spencer, in human resources — were leaving the company after having been placed on leave following the scandal. (The company declined to offer details on the executives’ departure.)

TIME Africa

Ebola Nations Request Debt Cancellation and Billions in Aid

People stand in line for food to be distributed to them as a health worker makes an announcement in Freetown, Sierra Leone on March 27, 2015.
Michael Duff—AP People stand in line for food to be distributed to them as a health worker makes an announcement in Freetown, Sierra Leone on March 27, 2015.

The countries in West Africa affected most by the Ebola outbreak are asking donors to cancel their debts and give them $5 billion to $6 billion in aid over two years.

“Our social services are ruined, our economies have halted, and we need a real Marshall Plan to take us out of the woods,” Ernest Bai Koroma, the president of Sierra Leone, told Reuters Thursday.

Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia are working on a regional reconstruction program, but they will need about $4 billion in debt relief on top of the billions they are requesting to rebuild their countries. The countries’ will unveil their program at a meeting on Friday with the heads of the World Bank, the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund.

“If that (debt) is canceled and support is provided to our regional program, it will take us a long way forward in our transformation agenda,” Koroma said.

There were only 37 cases of Ebola reported in the region last week. But as leaders in West Africa and the World Health Organization have made clear, much more money and time is needed to fully eradicate the disease and help get the countries ruined by its spread.

TIME Cuba

Pope Considering Cuba Stop During U.S. Trip but No Decision

Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, April 15, 2015
Andrew Medichini—AP Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on April 15, 2015

Pope Francis has been credited with having helped the U.S. and Cuba reach their historic rapprochement

(VATICAN CITY) — Pope Francis is considering adding a stop in Cuba to his U.S. trip in September but no decision has been made, the Vatican said Friday.

Francis has been credited with having helped the United States and Cuba reach their historic rapprochement by writing to the leaders of both countries and having the Vatican host their delegations for the final negotiations.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Francis “is considering the idea of a Cuba leg” but that discussions with Cuba are at an early stage. He said it’s too early to say that a decision has been taken or that there is an operational plan underway.

The possibility of a Cuban stop was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Francis is scheduled to visit three U.S. cities in the last week of September. He will address Congress and meet with President Barack Obama at the White House, address the U.N. in New York and attend a church rally for families in Philadelphia.

If a Cuba stop is confirmed on either end of the U.S. trip, Francis would become the third pope to visit the island nation after the historic 1998 visit of St. John Paul II during which he said Cuba should “open itself up to the world, and may the world open itself up to Cuba.”

Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI followed up with a 2012 trip during which he voiced the Vatican’s long-standing position that the U.S. embargo was unjust and only hurt the most vulnerable on the island.

Francis also has spoken out against the U.S. embargo while also condemning socialism.

Francis’ personal intervention in the U.S.-Cuban thaw was one of the most tangible signs that he wants the Vatican to be a greater player in international diplomacy. A more controversial intervention was his recent declaration that the slaughter of Armenians by Ottoman Turks a century ago was “genocide.”

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com