TIME Hong Kong

Abusive Employer Given Six Years in High-Profile Domestic Worker Case

Lo Wan-Tung Returns Home Amid Accusations Of The Abuse And Torture Of Two Indonesian Maids
Lam Yik Fei—Getty Images Police escort Law Wan-tung to her home for further investigation on Jan. 21, 2014, in Hong Kong

Judge Amanda Woodcock said “the defendant had no compassion"

A Hong Kong mother of two who criminally abused her Indonesian domestic helper, Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, was sentenced to six years in prison on Friday, concluding a landmark case that drew international attention to the plight of Hong Kong’s foreign domestic workers.

Judge Amanda Woodcock said, “The defendant had no compassion for the people she considered beneath her. It is regrettable that such conduct, attitude and physical abuse is not rare.”

Law Wan-tung, 44, was also fined just under $2,000.

Earlier in February, Law was found guilty of 18 counts of abuse. Sentencing was extended because her lawyer filed for a psychological review, but no evidence of psychiatric disorder was found.

Tales of the “near daily abuse” suffered by Erwiana highlighted an international problem, with young women often leaving impoverished countries in Southeast Asia to seek out higher wages but finding themselves in vulnerable legal situations that allow agencies and employers to exercise “slavelike” employment practices.

In Erwiana’s case, she was hit so hard that her teeth fractured, had a vacuum-cleaner tube shoved down her mouth, and was starved, forcing her to escape and knock on a neighbor’s door at 2:30 a.m. to beg for help. She also never received a paycheck from Law.

The 24-year-old Erwiana was listed in the TIME 100 in 2014 for her eventual decision to speak up, despite threats made to her family by Law, and was present in court during sentencing.

Speaking afterward through an interpreter, she said, “I do hope this judgment will send a strong message to the Hong Kong government, and governments around the world, to treat migrant workers like human beings.” She added that she now planned to return to Indonesia to study.

Despite problems with illegal “placement fees” that subjugate helpers to debt bondage, a controversial law requiring workers to live with their employers (making them vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse) and multiple accounts of women working unlawful hours, Hong Kong has better legal protections than other countries where Southeast Asian foreign domestic workers are popular.

Nevertheless, in its State of the World’s Human Rights report released Thursday, Amnesty International said Hong Kong’s domestic workers were “heavily indebted” and castigated the Hong Kong government for failing “to properly monitor employment agencies.”

Judge Woodcock opined that abuses could also be curtailed “if domestic workers were not forced to live in employer’s houses.”

Widespread exploitation of domestic helpers in Asia has prompted Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to suggest that Indonesia should no longer send helpers abroad because “we should have some self-esteem and dignity.” However, the notion has been slammed by activists as unconstitutional.

TIME Syria

Murdered ISIS Hostage’s Daughter Says ‘Jihadi John’ Is Better Off Dead

Mohammed Emwazi in a still image from a video obtained from SITE Intel Group website February 26, 2015
Reuters Mohammed Emwazi in a still image from a video obtained from SITE Intel Group website February 26, 2015

"All the families will feel closure and relief once there's a bullet between his eyes"

The daughter of British aid worker David Haines, who was murdered by the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) last September, has hit out at recently unveiled “Jihadi John,” saying he would be better off dead.

The London-accented militant’s identity was confirmed as 26-year-old Kuwaiti-born Briton Mohammed Emwazi by a U.S. intelligence official Thursday.

“It’s a good step, but I think all the families will feel closure and relief once there’s a bullet between his eyes,” Bethany Haines told ITV News.

Cloaked in a balaclava, Emwazi appeared in the beheading video of Haines’ father, as well as numerous other Western hostages, including James Foley, Steven Sotloff and Alan Henning.

Emwazi became radicalized after moving overseas to escape alienation and harassment in England, joining ISIS in Syria last year, according to reports.

Haines said she is waiting for Emwazi’s capture and does not fault British security for failing to thwart his journey to Syria. “It is shocking, but they’re doing their job, they’re doing the best they can they’ve not dealt with a so-called Islamic State like this before,” she said.

“Once he’s captured there will be a lot of happy faces,” Haines added.

[NBC]

TIME Greece

Violence Erupts in Greece Ahead of German Vote on Bailout

Minor clashes in Athens
ORESTIS PANAGIOTOU—EPA Riot policemen try to avoid a molotov cocktail during clashes after the end of an antigovernment protest called by leftist groups in Athens on Feb. 26, 2015

Protesters clashed with police, throwing stones and setting cars on fire

Violence broke out in Greece’s capital, Athens, on Thursday for the first time since the new government came to power a month ago, and one day before Germany is set to vote on whether to extend the European bailout of the debt-ridden country.

Around 50 of the 450 protesters that took to the streets on Friday clashed with riot police, throwing stones and petrol bombs and burning vehicles, the BBC reports.

The outrage is directed toward new Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who came to power promising to end austerity measures imposed on the country because of its spiraling debt. Tsipras is now defending a four-month financial-aid extension on the condition of government reforms, causing dissent even within his own Syriza party.

Although the bailout extension has been approved by the euro zone’s Finance Ministers, it will only go into effect following votes from the parliaments of several European nations.

[BBC]

TIME isis

Global Art Community Condemns ISIS Destruction of Artifacts at Mosul Museum

A new video purports to show militants destroying ancient works

A new video purporting to show militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) destroying ancient artifacts at a museum in the Iraqi city of Mosul has sent waves through the global art community.

Militants in the footage are shown pushing statues to the floor and smashing others with hammers. The Guardian reports that a man speaking to the camera then aims to justify the acts, citing how they didn’t exist in the time of the Prophet Muhammad and were worshipped by irreligious people.

The director of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art condemned what he called the “catastrophic destruction to one of the most important museums in the Middle East.”

“This mindless attack on great art, on history, and on human understanding constitutes a tragic assault not only on the Mosul Museum, but on our universal commitment to use art to unite people and promote human understanding,” Thomas P. Campbell said in a statement.

Corine Wegener, a cultural heritage officer at the Smithsonian Institution who helps preserve ancient works at risk in war zones, labeled it the “wanton and unnecessary destruction of cultural heritage.”

“[ISIS] has a particular viewpoint about what’s offensive,” she told TIME. Wegener has helped facilitate workshops on how to protect cultural history in Syria and Iraq, in a partnership with the Penn Cultural Heritage Center and other groups. “The fact that they really feel this is something they have to do because they’re emulating the Prophet Muhammad makes our work really difficult.”

She adds, “the best we can do as cultural heritage professionals is to remind everyone that cultural heritage belongs to us all.”

The destruction at the Mosul Museum also prompted the cultural arm of the United Nations to call for the Security Council to hold an emergency meeting on protecting Iraq’s cultural heritage. “This attack is far more than a cultural tragedy,” UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said in a statement, adding, “this is also a security issue as it fuels sectarianism, violent extremism and conflict in Iraq.”

The video showing the destruction of ancient works, including statues from the UNESCO world heritage site Hatra, is among the latest attacks on significant artifacts by the Islamist extremists. ISIS has reportedly destroyed thousands of books and manuscripts from Mosul’s central library.

TIME faith

Harassment of Jews Across World Hits 7-Year High

Intimidation of Jewish people was particularly prevalent in Europe

The number of countries where Jews faced harassment rose to a seven-year high in 2013, according to new study on persecution of religious groups around the world.

The Pew Research Center found that Jews were harassed by governments or social groups in 77 countries of the 198 in the study, up from 71 countries the year before. The study measured both instances of government policies that restrict religious practices and private acts of hostility and found that Jews were far more likely to face private attacks or abuse than other religious groups.

Christianity, the world’s most widespread religion, faced instances of harassment in 102 countries. Among Christians, most instances involved government harassment. Muslims were harassed in 99 countries.

Harassment of Jews in 2013 was particularly prevalent in Europe. Among 45 European countries, 34 registered instances of private attacks on Jews, a higher proportion than any other geographic region. In March 2013, for example, three men attacked a young man wearing a kippah in a Paris suburb, threatening, “We will kill all of you Jews.” In August, vandals painted a Swastika on the walls of a bull ring outside Madrid. Some 32 countries in Europe saw private attacks on Muslims.

Among the world’s 25 largest countries, the study found that overall levels of harassment against all religious groups were highest in Burma, Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan and Russia. But overall, the share of countries worldwide with social hostilities involving religion declined in 2013 — dropping six percentage points from 33% to 27%.

 

 

 

TIME energy

The Easy Oil Is Gone, So Where Do We Look Now?

Oil Rig Drill
Getty Images

Studies point to the Middle East, Latin America, North America and Africa as the key regions for future oil plays

In 2008, Canadian economist Jeff Rubin stunned the oil market with a bold prediction: With the world economy growing at 5 percent a year, oil demand would grow with it, outpacing supply, thus lifting the oil price from $147 to over $200 a barrel.

The former chief economist at CIBC World Markets was so convinced of his thesis, he wrote a book about it. “Why the World is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller” forecast a sea change in the global economy, all driven by unsustainably high oil prices, where domestic manufacturing is reinvigorated at the expense of seaborne trade and people’s choices become driven by the ever-increasing prices of fossil fuels.

In the book, Rubin dedicates an entire chapter to the changing oil supply picture, with his main argument being that oil companies “have their hands between the cushions” looking for new oil, since all the easily recoverable oil is either gone or continues to be depleted – at the rate of around 6.7% a year (IEA figures). “Even if the depletion rate stops rising, we must find nearly 20 million barrels a day of new production over the next five years simply to keep global production at its current level,” Rubin wrote, adding that the new oil will match the same level of consumption in 2015, as five years earlier in 2010. In other words, new oil supplies can’t keep up with demand.

Of course, Rubin at the time was talking about conventional oil – land-based and undersea oil – as well as unconventional oil sands. The shale oil “revolution” in the United States that took off soon after the publication of his book has certainly changed the supply picture, and the recent collapse in oil prices has forced Rubin to eat his words. With U.S. shale oil production soaring from 600,000 barrels a day in 2008 to 3.5 million barrels a day in 2014, the United States over the past few years has flooded the market with new oil from its shale formations, including the Eagle Ford in South Texas and the Bakken in North Dakota. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), total U.S. production (conventional and unconventional) will increase to 9.3 million barrels a day this year, the most since 1972.

Read more: This Huge Oil Buyer Is Appearing Nextdoor To The U.S.

While some observers, including oil giant BP, are now predicting a slowdown in U.S. shale oil production as wells are depleted at a faster rate, to be replaced by Middle Eastern output that has lost ground to U.S. shale, the thesis posed by Jeff Rubin in 2008, that the world is running out of oil, seems to have changed to: Is the world swimming in oil?

In this continuing climate of abundant oil production, Oilprice.com sought to find out where the new oil will be found. The data could be used in a further analysis to determine whether an oversupplied market will continue to depress oil prices into the future – or whether a price correction is likely given a tightening of the market on the supply side.

According to a 2013 report by Wood Mackenzie, the world holds 1.4 trillion barrels of oil equivalent oil and gas reserves, with the Middle East, Latin America, North America and Africa identified as the key regions for future oil plays.

Of course, many of the new fields are uneconomic at current prices, so it is instructive to look at the largest oil fields to see where oil producers are likely to keep pumping, even though many of these fields are in decline.

They include Ghawar and Safaniya in Saudi Arabia, Burgan in Kuwait, and Rumalia and West Qurna-2 in Iraq. These five fields were named the most important by Oilprice.com in an article last June. Ghawar, the world’s largest field, has an estimated 70 billion barrels of remaining reserves, more than all but seven other countries, according to the EIA. In production since the 1950s, it continues to produce at 5 million barrels a day.

If you noticed the dominance of the Middle East in this list, you’d be right. Current estimates have over 80 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves located in OPEC member countries, with Middle Eastern reserves comprising 65 percent of the OPEC total.

Adding to the Oilprice.com list, Forbes named Majnoon in Iraq, Khuzestan (also the name of a province) in Iran, Kashagan in the Caspian Sea, Khurais in Saudi Arabia, the Tupi field offshore Brazil, Carabobo in Venezuela’s Orinoco heavy oil belt, and the North Slope of Alaska among its top 10 fields of the future.

Fortune places the Orinoco belt in Venezuela among its six largest untapped fields, at an eye-watering 513 billion barrels of recoverable crude. In comparison the Chicontapec Basin in Mexico, also on the list, is a Lilliputian at 10 billion barrels. Others include the Santos and Campos Basins in offshore Brazil, at 123 billion barrels, the Supergiant field in the southwest desert of Iraq, at between 45 and 100 billion barrels, and the Jubilee Field in Ghana, estimated to contain 1.8 billion barrels of recoverable crude.

The Canadian oil sands should of course also be included in the matrix of future oil supply. Despite the difficulty and higher-cost, compared to conventional sources, of stripping the bitumen from the oil sands and processing it into heavy oil, the vastness of the reserves contained in the sands of northern Alberta cannot be underestimated. According to the Alberta government the oil sands has proven reserves of about 168 billion barrels, the third largest proven crude oil reserve in the world, after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Canadian oil sands production is forecasted to grow from about 2 million barrels per day to 3.7 million barrels per day by 2020 and 5.2 million barrels per day by 2030, according to Alberta Energy.

Many have pointed to the Arctic as the answer to the depletion of existing oil and gas fields. The region, which crosses Russia, Alaska, Norway and Greenland, is estimated to hold 166 billion barrels of oil equivalent, more oil and gas than Iran and enough to meet the world’s entire consumption of crude oil for five years, reported The Daily Telegraph.

Drilling down a bit further, the US Geological Survey estimates that over 87% of the Arctic’s oil and gas resources are located in seven Arctic basin provinces: Arctic Alaska Basin, East Barents Basin, East Greenland Basin, West Greenland East Canada Basin, East Greenland Rift Basin, West Siberian Basin and the Yenisey-Khatang Basin.

The Prudhoe Bay field in Alaska, which has been pumping oil since 1977, is the largest oil field in North America, at about 25 billion barrels. Around 16 percent of the Arctic’s undiscovered oil and gas is located on land, with the remaining potential either locked in continental shelves or underwater at depths over 500 metres.

Of the seven basins outlined by the USGS, the most abundant is Arctic Alaska, at 29.36 billion barrels of crude oil, followed by the Amerasia Basin, at 9.72 billon, and the East Greenland Rift Basin at 8.90 billion, according to Geology.com.

Among the oil majors eyeing the Arctic prize, Shell has been drilling off the coast of Alaska for decades, Statoil is active in the Norwegian Arctic, and ExxonMobil is exploring with Russia’s Rosneft in the Russian far north. Last year Rosneft/ ExxonMobil discovered a field that could hold up to 730 million barrels of oil, but for the time being, exploration looks thin. With low oil prices, most oil companies are reining in capital costs, and exploration expenditures are a high-priority line item. Statoil and Chevron have both put their Arctic plans on ice, and the ExxonMobil partnership with Rosneft could be in trouble due to Western sanctions against Russia. Shell is currently the only company sinking any capital into the Arctic, with the Anglo-Dutch firm announcing at the end of January that it plans to proceed with a $1-billion Arctic drilling this summer.

Read more: Is Oil Returning To $100 Or Dropping To $10?

And what of the shale oil reserves that have propelled the United States to becoming close to energy-independent and threaten to knock Saudi Arabia off its pedestal as the world’s top oil producer? In 2013, the EIA conducted the first-ever U.S. analysis of global shale oil reserves. It estimated “technically recoverable” (as opposed to economically recoverable) shale oil resources of 345 billion barrels in 42 countries, the equivalent of 10 percent of global crude oil supplies – and enough to cover over a decade of oil consumption.

According to the EIA, Russia and the United States have the largest shale oil resources, at a respective 75 billion barrels and 58 billion barrels, followed by China, Argentina and Libya. The other countries on the top 10 list of countries with technically recoverable shale include Australia, Venezuela, Mexico, Pakistan and Canada.

The EIA report also shows a marked increase in the number of prospective shale deposits globally compared to an earlier 2011 report. That report listed 32 countries with shale versus 41 in 2013, 48 basins versus 95, and half the number of formations, at 69 in 2011 versus 137 in 2013.

This article originally appeared on Oilprice.com.

More from Oilprice.com:

TIME russia

Putin’s Approval Rating Rises to 86% Despite Slumping Economy

Cyprus Agrees Military Deal With Russia
Sasha Mordovets—Getty Images Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades (L) during a joint press conference in Novo Ogaryvo State Residence on February 25 in Moscow.

Despite sinking relations with the West—or maybe because of it—Putin is nearly as popular as ever at home.

Russian President Vladimir Putin saw his approval ratings tick up to 86% even as the economy reels from Western sanctions and falling oil prices.

Levada Center, a Moscow-based pollster, released a poll Thursday showing Putin’s approval ratings increased one percentage point from a month earlier.

Putin’s approval numbers have soared nearly twenty points since early 2014, when Russia seized Crimea and sent relations with the West tumbling to the lowest levels since the end of the Cold War. His ratings reached a high of 87% in August.

The high ratings come even as the Russian economy faces recession. The ruble has lost nearly half of its value in the past twelve months, and the government expects the economy to shrink 3 percent this year, the first drop since 2009.

It can be hard to tell how reliable polling numbers are in Russia, though Levada is considered the most dependable. It’s likely though that Putin’s showdown with the West has won him fresh support amid a surge in nationalism — and the Russian media’s positive spin on everything Putin may have also helped boost his popularity.

TIME Military

China Now Has More Submarines than the U.S.

China Marks 60 Years Of The Chinese Navy (Getty)
ChinaFotoPress—Getty Images A Chinese Navy submarine participates in an international fleet review to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army Navy on April 23, 2009 in Qingdao of Shandong Province, China.

China is adding subs and sending them farther out for longer periods of time

China now has more submarines than the U.S., though the vessels are inferior to the U.S. fleet.

Vice Admiral Joseph Mulloy, deputy chief of naval operations for capabilities and resources, said the vessels are part of China’s expansion into more geographic areas of operation for longer periods of time, Reuters reports. His comments mark the latest expression of concern from some U.S. officials over the Chinese military buildup.

U.S. military officials have recently sought to highlight China’s growing capabilities in an effort to ensure that the U.S. can maintain its technical edge, though a recent study from the Rand Corp. challenged some of those concerns when it found “potentially serious weaknesses” in the Chinese military.

[Reuters]

TIME isis

‘Jihadi John’ Driven to ISIS by British Spy Harassment, Group Says

Mohammed Emwazi complained about his treatment to an advocacy group before he traveled to Syria

The Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) executioner who is believed to have killed several Western hostages in Syria was harassed by British security forces and prevented from moving to his native Kuwait to marry and start a new life in the months before he went to Syria, according to an advocacy organization he was in contact with.

Mohammed Emwazi, 26, was named by the Washington Post and the BBC on Thursday as the masked man who appeared in a series of videos that appeared to show him beheading hostages including American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and Britons David Haines and Alan Henning. U.S. and U.K security agencies declined to confirm the identification.

Media reported that Emwazi, who was brought up in London, was known to British security agencies and had been questioned and detained on a number of occasions since 2009. In 2010, however, he contacted CAGE, a London-based organization that supports people victimized by security agencies, to complain that he was being made to feel “like a prisoner” in the U.K.

MORE: Inside ISIS, a TIME Special Report

According to CAGE, Emwazi found himself the victim of harassment and abuse by U.K. authorities, which left him “greatly distressed.” In a statement about Emwazi, released on Thursday, CAGE research director Asim Qureshi said, “We now have evidence that there are several young Britons whose lives were not only ruined by security agencies, but who became disenfranchised and turned to violence because of British counter-terrorism policies coupled with long standing grievances over Western foreign policy.”

Emwazi’s first run-in with security officials took place in 2009, when he traveled to Tanzania with two friends, according to his testimony to CAGE. They were detained there and deported to Amsterdam, where he was interrogated by an officer of Britain’s domestic security agency MI5 who accused him of trying to travel to Somalia to join al-Shabab, an Islamist group. The officer then tried to persuade him to work for MI5.

During this time, M15 visited his fiancée in London who later broke off their engagement. Soon after, Emwazi moved to Kuwait, where he worked for a computer company and got engaged to a Kuwaiti woman. He visited London twice during this time, but when he attempted to return to Kuwait after his second visit, in 2010, Emwazi was detained and then barred from leaving the U.K. According to the BBC, Emwazi was being investigated by MI5 “as a suspected core member of an extremist network” operating in London.

In an email sent to CAGE in 2010, after he was prevented from traveling back to Kuwait, Emwazi wrote, “I never got onto the flight, what was the point, I said to myself: I’ll just get rejected. I had a job waiting for me and marriage to get started. But now I feel like a prisoner, only not in a cage, in London. A person imprisoned and controlled by security service men, stopping me from living my new life in my birthplace and my country, Kuwait.”

His message continued: “I have been trying to find out the reason for my refused visa issue from my home country Kuwait, and a way to solve the issue. So through my friends in Kuwait, it has been said to me that Kuwait has no problem with me entering, and the reason for my refusal is simply because the U.K. agents have told them to not let me in!!”

CAGE has claimed that MI5 also interviewed Emwazi’s fiancée in Kuwait and knew he was planning to “start a life” there.

Friends of Emwazi’s, who spoke to the Washington Post, said that it was after these incidents that the young man became more radicalized. CAGE’s Qureshi also noted in his statement that “suffocating domestic policies aimed at turning a person into an informant but which prevent a person from fulfilling their basic life needs would have left a lasting impression on Emwazi. He desperately wanted to use the system to change his situation, but the system ultimately rejected him.”

It’s unclear exactly when or how Emwazi left Britain and joined ISIS, though a former hostage told authorities after being released that “Jihadi John” was one of several militants guarding Western captives at a prison in Idlib, Syria, in 2013. Two other militants reportedly had British accents, along with Jihadi John, and the trio became known as “the Beatles.”

British authorities have estimated that as many as 600 Britons have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join groups like ISIS. Yet while the U.K.’s antiterrorism policies have many critics beyond CAGE, there are others who say that they’re not the cause of radicalization. Jonathan Russell, of the Quilliam Foundation, a counterterrorism think tank, told TIME in November, “I wouldn’t say that counterterrorism legislation makes people radical. It is a grievance that is exploited by radicalizers.”

TIME Canada

Canadian City To Overturn Ban on Sledding

Hamilton lawmakers say they will legalize tobogganing

A city in Canada that banned sledding after it was sued more than three decades ago plans to scrap the ban and take its chances.

“You can’t take the fun out of winter,” said Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger, CBC reports. “In a perfect world, I would love it if people didn’t sue the city, but we can’t stop anyone from suing us for whatever reason. We can’t shut down our entire city.”

The City Council voted Wednesday to look into establishing designated tobogganing areas as well as other options to legalize the pastime, according to CBC.

Currently, violators are liable to face up to a $1,600 fine thanks to a bylaw first established in the 1970s after someone sued the city following a tobogganing accident. Another suit forced the city to pay more than $700,000 in 2004.

[CBC]

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