TIME faith

Pope Francis Rails Against Modern ‘Throwaway Culture’

Pope Francis delivers his speech during a special audience with members of the confederation of Italian cooperatives in Paul VI hall at the Vatican
Tony Gentile—Reuters Pope Francis delivers his speech during a special audience with members of the confederation of Italian cooperatives at the Vatican, Feb. 28, 2015.

Condemns the global economic order once again

Pope Francis has once again spoken out about the global economic climate, decrying an economic system that “seems fatally destined to suffocate hope and increase risks and threats.”

Speaking in Rome, the Pope condemned what he called a “throwaway culture created by the powers that control the economic and financial policies of the globalized world.”

But he proposed a solution of sorts, in the form of economic cooperatives that would help spread wealth equally: “Money at the service of life can be managed in the right way by cooperatives, on condition that it is a real cooperative where capital does not have command over men but men over capital.”

He quoted his namesake, St Francis of Assisi, in calling money the “devil’s dung,” according to Vatican Radio. “When money becomes an idol, it controls man’s choices,” he added. “It makes him a slave.”

This is far from the first time the Pope has addressed the condition of the working class in the globalized world; in a speech at the U.N. last year, the Pope asked world leaders to redistribute wealth.

[Vatican Radio]

TIME Iraq

Iraqi Museum Looted During War Reopens in Baghdad

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi visits the Iraqi National Museum in Baghdad
Reuters Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, right, visits the Iraqi National Museum in Baghdad Feb. 28, 2015.

The re-opening was brought forward as a response to the destruction of art by ISIS in Mosul

Iraq’s national museum has reopened, some twelve years after being looted during the U.S. military operations in Baghdad.

The museum, which places back on display priceless artifacts from ancient Mesopotamia, was intentionally re-opened ahead of schedule, the BBC reports, as a response to the recent destruction by the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria of sculptures at a museum in Mosul, Iraq.

“Those barbaric, criminal terrorists are trying to destroy the heritage of mankind and Iraq’s civilization,” said Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

One-third of the 15,000 items stolen from the National Museum of Iraq during the Iraq War have reportedly been recovered.

[BBC]

TIME animals

Wild Giant Pandas Making a Comeback in China

Mother giant panda Juxiao is seen with one of her triplets at Chimelong Safari Park in Guangzhou, Guangdong province
Reuters Mother giant panda Juxiao is seen with one of her triplets at Chimelong Safari Park in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, Dec. 9, 2014.

The population has grown by 268 despite many obstacles

The Chinese government has some good news for panda lovers.

A new survey by China’s State Forestry Administration indicates that the wild giant panda population has grown to 1,864, representing an increase of 268 pandas since 2003. The number of giant pandas in captivity also doubled.

The census, which took some three years to complete, reflects the country’s commitment to protecting an animal with a lot of obstacles against it: Pandas are slow to reproduce and historically have been a target for poachers, and, per the census, now have 832 miles of roads running through their habitats. China’s 27 preserves for pandas account for the growth.

[NBC News]

TIME russia

5 Disputed Numbers That Explain Geopolitics

Ukraine
Vadim Ghirda—AP Russia-backed separatist fighters stand next to self propelled 152 mm artillery pieces, part of a unit moved away from the front lines, in Yelenovka, near Donetsk, Ukraine, Feb. 26, 2015.

From Argentina’s economic woes to Iran’s nuclear timeline, statistics that are up for debate can tell us a lot about geopolitics. 

Every world leader uses data for political purposes. But some take it a step further. Here are five disputed stats where the controversy itself sheds light on a deeper political question.

1. How many Russians are in Ukraine?

Estimates of Russian troops in Ukraine differ dramatically depending on which side of the border you’re standing on. (That is, if you can find the border—Russian-backed separatists continue to take territory in southeast Ukraine). Ukrainian President Poroshenko proclaimed last month that there are more than 9,000 Russian troops and 500 tanks and armored vehicles in his country. But Russia claims it isn’t that many—zero, to be exact. According to a spokesman for Putin, “there are no Russian tanks or army in Ukraine.” Other players split the difference: in August, a separatist leader claimed that 3,000 to 4,000 Russian citizen “volunteers” provided assistance to the rebels.

(Reuters, CNN, LA Times)

2. How quickly could Iran build a nuclear weapon?

When Western leaders emphasize the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program, there’s a recurring, essential question: How long would it take for Iran to produce enough weapons-grade uranium to build a bomb? Iran consistently downplays the threat: an Iranian source cited the ‘breakout time’ at a minimum of 18 months. But Washington believes it’s drastically shorter: about 2-3 months. There’s also fierce debate about how long that breakout time should be. In ongoing nuclear negotiations, the Obama administration wants to ensure it would take at least a year. But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants to eliminate Iran’s ability to produce nuclear weapons altogether.

(Reuters, Institute for Science and International Security, New York Times)

3. Can China boast that its economy is #1?

Last year, the International Monetary Fund projected that China’s economy was about to overtake the United States’ when measured on a purchasing power basis (a less common way of measuring GDP that takes exchange rates into account). China became the world’s largest trading nation back in 2012. But even China is pushing back against any perception that it’s on top: the state-run news agency Xinhua ran a piece in January titled “China denies being world’s No. 1 economy.” Beijing is careful to stress that it’s still very much a developing country, not yet wealthy enough to take on a lot of global responsibilities. They have a point. Despite relentless growth—last year’s economic output topped $10 trillion, more than five times higher than a decade before—China’s output per person is still nowhere near that of the U.S.

(New York Times, Bloomberg, Xinhua, Economist)

4. Just how valuable for Americans would the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) be?

One of President Obama’s biggest foreign policy priorities before he leaves office is to ink the TPP, a trade agreement that includes a dozen countries that collectively account for 40% of world trade and roughly a third of global GDP. The administration is quick to point out the estimated economic benefits. According to John Kerry, “TPP could provide $77 billion a year in real income and support 650,000 new jobs in the U.S. alone.” But not everyone buys that jobs claim. The White House’s statistics come from a 2012 book by the Peterson Institute that didn’t provide a precise jobs estimate. The book’s author said he avoided doing so because, “like most trade economists, we don’t believe that trade agreements change the labor force in the long run.”

(Congressional Research Service, Washington Post)

5. How is Argentina’s economy doing?

Argentina’s economic troubles are common knowledge. So is the government’s tendency to cast the numbers in a rosier light. The government claimed 30% growth in GDP from 2007 to 2012 (5.3% annual average rate), but a study last year claimed that GDP only grew half that much and the size of the economy was at least 12% smaller than official government estimates. Then there’s the issue of inflation. The government estimates 21% inflation for this year—but some private economists expect a rate of nearly 40%. Furthermore, the government’s official exchange rate doesn’t reflect reality: one U.S. dollar is officially worth about 8.7 pesos, yet the informal rate is as high as 13.

(World Economics Journal, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, BNamericas, Bloomberg)

TIME Egypt

Egypt Court Declares Hamas ‘Terrorist Organization’

Palestinian members of al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, display weapons during a military parade marking the 27th anniversary of Hamas' founding, in Gaza City
Suhaib Salem—Reuters Palestinian members of al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, display their weapons during a military parade marking the 27th anniversary of Hamas' founding, in Gaza City Dec. 14, 2014. The Palestinian group has been declared a terrorist organization by an Egyptian court.

The Palestinian group once enjoyed support of Egypt's deposed Muslim Brotherhood

Egypt’s state news agency is reporting that a Cairo court has declared Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, a “terrorist organization.”

The short report Saturday by MENA said the Court For Urgent Matters, presided over by Judge Mohamed el-Sayed, issued the ruling Saturday. It did not elaborate.

Last month, an Egyptian court banned Hamas’ military wing, the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, and also designated it a terrorist organization.

The ruling further isolates Hamas, which once found open support under Egypt’s toppled Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. Egypt’s new government recently has begun clearing a buffer zone along its border with Gaza in an attempt to destroy a cross-border network of tunnels that Hamas considers a lifeline.

In Gaza, Hamas official Mushir al-Masri condemned the decision and urged Egypt to reverse course.

 

TIME energy

How Much Crude Oil Do You Consume on a Daily Basis?

holding-petrol-pump
Getty Images

Most of America's daily crude consumption stems from transportation

Oil. The commodity. We know what it’s worth – at least we thought we did – but what does a barrel of the black stuff get you in real life? Before we get theoretical, let’s first consider how much oil you use.

If you’re in the United States, that figure is approximately 2.5 gallons of crude oil per day; roughly one barrel every seventeen days; or nearly 22 barrels per year. That’s just your share of US total consumption of course; the true number is harder to discern – minus industrial and non-residential uses, daily consumption drops to about 1.5 gallons per person per day. Subtract the percentage of the population aged 14 and below and the daily consumption climbs back above 2 gallons. This is big picture, and it’s quite variable, so let’s go further.

Most of the nation’s daily crude consumption stems from transportation. If you’re an average driver in an average car, your crude consumption is in the order of 12 barrels per year. However, if your car is more than ten years old, chances are that figure is closer to 15 barrels annually. Does an electric car offer significant savings? Of course it does, but for an unconventional comparison let’s assume all of the electricity is sourced from oil – in truth, petroleum is not a very efficient fuel and accounts for just 1 percent of electricity generation in the US. Under this assumption, a Tesla Model S, with an 85 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery and a range of 260 miles, will consume approximately 8 barrels of crude per year.

Read more: The World’s 10 Biggest Energy Gluttons

Frequent flyer? Say 2,000 miles per year on a US carrier? Add about two-thirds of a barrel of crude to your annual consumption.

A 3,000-mile cruise on the MS Oasis of the Seas may sound relaxing, but at roughly 4 barrels of crude per passenger, the carbon footprint alone is worth reviewing.

What about residential use? Using similar assumptions to the electric car example above, we can calculate our annual home electricity use in barrels of crude. In 2013, an average American home consumed 10,908 kWh of electricity, or approximately 20 barrels of crude. The real number – considering oil’s role in electricity generation – is far lower at around one-fifth of a barrel.

Petroleum products are active in nearly every facet of our daily lives; food and consumer chains are no exception. Take a look at bottled water for example. It’s an energy intensive business, one with an estimated energy expenditure of 32 million barrels of oil per year – for 33 billion liters of bottled water purchased in the US. The production of the single-use polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles alone requires the energy equivalent of almost 17 million barrels of oil.

Obtaining an accurate picture of your daily oil consumption is truthfully quite difficult. Your consumption is dependent on my consumption, which is dependent on someone’s consumption halfway around the globe to make a simple analogy. Moreover, consumption is largely bound by perception and the barrel is still a relatively abstract measure – few will ever lay hands on one. So for the sake of understanding, let’s look at what else a barrel gets you.

Read more: The Easy Oil Is Gone So Where Do We Look Now?

According to Chevron, one barrel of oil produces: 170 ounces of propane; 16 gallons of gasoline; one gallon of roofing tar; a quart of motor oil; 8 gallons of diesel fuel; 70 kWh of electricity; four pounds of charcoal briquettes; 27 wax crayons; and 39 polyester shirts.

For good measure, it can power a 42’’ plasma television for about a year and a half – again, it’s not very efficient. It can charge your laptop PC every day for over 7 years, or your iPhone for more than 240 years.

Finally, on the open market, a barrel of West Texas Intermediate will fetch around $50.

* 1 barrel = 42 U.S. gallons = 5,800,000 Btu
1 gallon gasoline = 124,262 Btu
1 gallon jet fuel = 128,100 Btu
1 barrel = 533 kWh (Power plant heat rate of 10,991 Btu/kWh)

Source: EIA and EIA and EIA

This article originally appeared on Oilprice.com.

More from Oilprice.com:

TIME Cuba

Cuba Talks Turn Awkward Over Terror Listing

President Obama Holds End-Of-Year News Conference At The White House
Alex Wong—Getty Images WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 19: U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during his speech to members of the media during his last news conference of the year in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House December 19, 2014 in Washington, DC. President Obama faced questions on various topics including the changing of Cuba policy, his executive action on immigration and the Sony hack. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Another round of talks, another round of smiles Friday, as negotiators for Cuba and the United States joined in stepping carefully around the first obvious obstacle to emerge in their joint effort to re-establish diplomatic relations.

The latest meeting was only their second, this time in Washington. Diplomats from both countries crowded around an array of tables at the State Department for what U.S. officials cautioned in advance would be a more “workmanlike” session, less dramatic than the historic inaugural session in Havana in January. That was the first since Presidents Obama and Raúl Castro surprised the world by announcing an intention to reconcile in parallel announcements Dec. 17.

At the time, Obama signaled what sounded very much like an inclination to remove Cuba from the short, brutish roll of nations the State Department lists as official sponsors of terror: The only other countries saddled with the designation are Iran, Syria and Sudan. “At a time when we are focused on threats from Al Qaeda to ISIL, a nation that meets our conditions and renounces the use of terrorism should not face this sanction,” Obama said. But actually removing a nation from the list, and freeing it from the attendant sanctions, turns out to be taking longer than expected. “On why it’s taking so long, I’ve got to tell you it’s just these processes tend to be a little bit more complicated than they seem, and that’s all I’m going to say,” a senior State Department official said in a telephone briefing with reporters on Wednesday.

The consequences of the delay may only be atmospheric, but mood has been one of the things the Obama administration has had going for it on this story. The head of the Cuban delegation, Josefina Vidal, said at the close of Friday’s session that removal from the list was not a strict precondition to resuming ties, but repeated that it is “a very important issue” to Havana, which has harped on it both publicly and privately. And privately,the terror list may indeed have been mentioned as a precondition to re-opening embassies: “It would be very easy to restore diplomatic relations,” the State Department official said in the background briefing with reporters, “if they would not link those two things.”

What’s more, a 45-day interval built into the assessment process means that Cuba will still carry the designation when Castro and Obama meet at the Summit of the Americas, set for the second week of April in Panama City. The confab was envisioned as a celebratory session that marked the end not only of the 50-year cold war between countries, but also of Washington’s estrangement from a Latin American establishment that largely esteems Havana.

The delay clearly pleases Congressional critics of the reconciliation, led by favorites of the Cuban exile community based in Miami. “President Obama and his negotiating team need to stop looking so desperate to secure a deal with the Castro regime to open an embassy in Havana, at any cost, before this April’s Summit of the Americas,” Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who also noted the arrest of 200 dissidents in Cuba the previous two weeks. Detentions of activists, often held only a short time, remains routine in Havana, the State Department has noted, and U.S. officials take pains to pay respectful visits to some of the island’s most prominent dissidents.

But on the narrow question of re-establishing diplomatic ties, the nominal point of the talks, both sides appear to be on the same page. “On the issue of the themes on the agenda that were of concern to us, I think we did make progress on a number of them,” said Assistant Secretary of State Robert Jacobson after the meeting. “Some of them, quite honestly, are close to resolution.” Vidal said much the same in a separate news conference. And the negotiators, at least, appeared intent on sustaining the gestures of good will that began in December with an exchange of prisoners, and is supposed to proceed to an exchange of ambassadors. Said Jacobson, in answer to question: “I do think we can get this done in time for the Summit of the Americas.”

TIME russia

Kremlin Critic Gunned Down in Moscow Ahead of Anti-Putin March

Russia Opposition Leader Killed
Pavel Golovkin—AP People lay flowers at the place where Boris Nemtsov, a charismatic Russian opposition leader and sharp critic of President Vladimir Putin, was gunned down, at Red Square in Moscow, Russia, Feb. 28, 2015.

The Russian President has pledged to oversee the investigation

The Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was gunned down in Moscow around midnight on Friday as he walked within view of the Kremlin walls.

Soon after the gunshots rang out in the heart of the Russian capital, President Vladimir Putin was informed of the murder, which he characterized as a “provocation.” Through his spokesman, Putin told Russian news agencies early on Saturday morning that, “This cruel killing has all the signs of a hired hit and bears the distinctive character of a provocation.”

Though numerous Kremlin critics have been assassinated during Putin’s tenure, none have been as prominent as the 55-year-old Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister in the administration of Putin’s predecessor, Boris Yeltsin. His killing will likely galvanize the opposition movement and once again test the ability and willingness of Russian authorities to investigate acts of violence against Putin’s opponents. Such crimes have tended to go unsolved since Putin took power 15 years ago.

According to police and investigators in Moscow, Nemtsov was shot several times as he crossed the bridge that leads to the southern gates of the Kremlin fortress. Police said they have launched a citywide manhunt for the assailants, who escaped the scene of the crime in a white car.

Nemtsov’s murder took place two days before he and his allies in the opposition were due to lead a massive march in Moscow on Sunday against the Putin regime. The demonstration, as well as parallel protests in more than a dozen cities across the country, is meant to condemn Putin’s handling of the ongoing conflict with the West over Ukraine and the damage it has done to Russia’s economy.

Outrage poured in from the ranks of Russia’s opposition movement as news of the murder spread. “I’m certain that this scum will pay a high price,” said Nemtsov’s close friend and ally Mikhail Kasyanov, a former Russian Prime Minister. “Right now every member of the opposition needs society’s protection,” he told the state news agency Tass.

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.

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