TIME Money

And the World’s Most Expensive City for Expats Is…

Caracas, Venezuela
View of Central Caracas. Getty Images

Down and out in Paris and London? Try spending a year in the world's biggest cost sinks, Venezuela, Angola or South Sudan

A new ranking of the world’s most expensive cities for expats knocked the usual candidates — New York, Tokyo and London — off of the list. The true epicenters of sticker shock were Venezuela, Angola and South Sudan.

Global staffing firm ECA International surveyed prices in 440 cities, focusing on items that expats were most likely to buy on a daily basis, including groceries, clothing and bar tabs. The cities that topped the list tended to fall in one of two areas: Wealthy swathes of Scandinavia and economies coming apart at the seams.

Caracas, Venezuela topped the list after runaway inflation hurdled the city from 32nd place to 1st in one year. Surveyors found price levels 40% above the second costliest city: Oslo, Norway. Luanda, Angola came in third partly due to import tariffs that have hiked the price for a half-liter tub of vanilla ice cream to $31. Rounding out the list was Juba, South Sudan, where a 90 kilometer drive along one of the only continuous roads to the outside world can take upwards of 24 hours to navigate, according to the World Bank.

The list offers a stark reminder that outside of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, the real sticker shock tends to hit the people who can least afford it.

Global Rank 2014 Country City
1 Venezuela Caracas
2 Norway Oslo
3 Angola Luanda
4 Switzerland Zurich
5 Switzerland Geneva
6 Norway Stavanger
7 Switzerland Bern
8 Switzerland Basel
9 South Sudan Juba
10 Denmark Copenhagen

Source: ECA International

 

TIME Iraq

Violence in Iraq Could Raise the Price at the Pumps

The global oil market is already responding to violence in Iraq, one of the world's biggest producers, as Sunni insurgents of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria overrun northern towns with eyes on Baghdad, but it could get much worse

It’s not surprising that oil prices are at a three-month high, given the alarming unrest in Iraq. Oil traders do not react well to geopolitical instability, and that goes double when there’s an impending civil war in one of the world’s biggest producers of crude.

The Sunni insurgents of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) overran the northern Iraqi city of Tikrit, which hosts a 300,000-barrel per day refinery, while Kurdish forces are now in control of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk after Iraqi troops abandoned their post. Repairs to the 250,000 barrel a day pipeline that runs from Kirkuk to the Turkish city of Ceyhan, offline since March due to sabotage, have been interrupted because of the fighting.

The good news, of sorts, is that Iraq’s biggest oil fields are in the far south, well away from the fighting in the north, as Robert McNally of the Rapidian Group told the Washington Post:

While not beyond [ISIS’] geographical reach, an effort to expand operations into southern Iraq would risk overextension and expose the militants to the more determined defenders of southern oil infrastructure as well as Shia militia.

It’s possible that the Iraqi government in Baghdad—potentially with American help—will beat back ISIS and retake the north. And crude will keep pumping in the south even if the war drags on. The international oil companies that have come to do business with Iraq in the wake of the U.S. invasion are used to working in unstable places. If a civil conflict could stop the global oil industry, we’d have reached peak oil a long time ago.

But even if Iraq doesn’t collapse, the unrest will take a long-term toll on the country’s ability to produce oil—and that toll will be felt by consumers in the future. Iraq has the world’s fifth-largest proven oil reserves, which means the country has a lot more crude left to pump. And because Iraq’s oil industry was artificially depressed by years of mismanagement under Saddam, international sanctions in the 1990s and the chaos of war and reconstruction, the country has a lot of room left to improve. In February, Iraq’s production hit an average of 3.6 million barrels a day—the highest level since Saddam seized power in 1979. And a 2012 report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) projected that Iraq could reach 8.3 million barrels a day of production by 2035. That would make Iraq by far the largest contributor to new oil growth, which in turn could help accommodate the still growing demand from developing nations like China.

But that sort of expansion would require tremendous amounts of investment and a steady hand from the central government. Prolonged civil war would imperil both. And if that leads to consistently higher oil prices, the global economy could be at risk too.

TIME Japan

Check Out These Awesome Gadgets From the Tokyo Toy Show

Here are some of our favorites, ranging from the world's smallest multicopter to a bilingual robotic dog

The annual International Tokyo Toy Show opened Thursday, showcasing over 35,000 toys during the four-day exhibition. Check out some of the coolest toys on display.

TIME 2014 World Cup

World Cup 2014: Hello Long Shots!

Hey, not everyone can be a winner

The teams, the fans and the press are descending on Brazil for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and almost everyone is aware that host country Brazil is a big favorite, as are Spain, Portugal and Germany. Even a turtle can tell you that.

But even with 32 teams contending for the big prize, anything can happen, right? And the one thing a true fan loves more than a guaranteed champion is an underdog.

So take a closer look at some of this Cup’s “least likely to succeed,” because if fate smiles on one of them, World Cup history could be made.

TIME World Cup

Why America Doesn’t Like Soccer, And How That Can Be Changed

Nigeria at United States, friendly
Fans celebrate during the United States' 2-1 win against Nigeria in a friendly in preparation for the World Cup, at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Fla., on Saturday, June 7, 2014. Stephen M. Dowell—Orlando Sentinel/MCT/ Getty Images

The "Beautiful Game" can expand its reach beyond fringe support in the United States — but it'll need to change the rules first

As the FIFA World Cup begins in Brazil, pundits are already dusting off their explanations on why Americans don’t care for soccer. But only the most daring will offer proposals to change the game to make it more appealing to the American public.

First, the problem. Far and away the most common reason cited for the sport’s unpopularity in the United States is that you can spend 90 minutes watching and never see a goal. “Americans love to see scoring,” says Stephen Clark, a news anchor at WXYZ news in Detroit, who wrote a post on the subject ahead of the last World Cup in South Africa. “In soccer it’s too usual to see a game end at 1-0.”

Football — the one with the helmets and pads — may not always have a lot of scoring, but at least each touchdown delivers six points and an opportunity for a couple more. And then, between them, there’s the relentless to-and-fro across the field. “It’s almost military,” says Clark. “We like to march down the field and get rewarded for every victory. You’re rewarded every ten yards. It’s like conquering territory.”

Compare that to soccer, where it’s not unusual to see a team reset the play by kicking the ball back towards their own goal. The play never stops, but nobody gains lasting advantage. “When do you go the bathroom?” says Clark. “When do you get a beer?” More crucially, he points out: When does the broadcaster get a commercial break?

The problem isn’t just infrequent scoring, says Michael Mandelbaum, director of the American Foreign Policy program at John Hopkins University and author of The Meaning of Sports: Why Americans Watch Baseball, Football, and Basketball and What They See If They Do. It’s the frequency with which games end in a “draw” — or a tie, in American parlance.

Ties are impossible in baseball and basketball, he points out, and “as rare as eclipses” in American football. And when they do happen they aren’t settled by something as capricious and peripheral to the game as penalty kick shoot-outs. “This seems absurd to Americans, like deciding the Super Bowl through a field goal kicking contest,” he says.

Mandelbaum also offers a proposal to make the game more popular in the United States. He’d alter the rules to favor the offense, eliminating the offside rule, which forbids players from passing to teammates standing behind enemy lines. Alternatively, he’d use the number of corner kicks awarded to each team as a way to break ties, a method that would reward aggressive play. “For this to happen in the US, however, the rest of the world would have to do the same, which it won’t,” he says.

The close-mindedness of the sport’s establishment shouldn’t stand in the way of a good idea. And so, in that spirit, here’s a modest proposal: soccer should take its cue from boxing and install three field-side judges to secretly score every 15-minute interval. Goals would be like knock-outs. Points would only come into play in the case of a tie.

The scorecards would put greater importance on each moment of the game (Sorry Clark, still no bathroom breaks). Teams would be motivated to play spectacularly or risk losing on points. Squads that felt they had slipped behind would be doubly pressed to get that last minute goal.

Best of all, the change would bring an entirely new aspect to the game, one not unfamiliar to fans of boxing (or for that matter figure stating): judges. After all, it’s one thing to argue about a referee’s call on a set of objective, verifiable rules. Think of all the fun that can be had arguing about the secret decisions of the judges.

TIME White House

Obama on Iraq: ‘I Don’t Rule Out Anything’ as Militants Aim for Baghdad

Obama is not considering boots on the ground, a senior administration official said

President Barack Obama said he would not rule out military intervention to support Iraq’s government against advancing Sunni militants, two and a half years after the U.S. withdrew its last troops from the country.

“I don’t rule out anything,” Obama told reporters at the White House after meeting with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott after being asked a question about the possibility the U.S. would conduct airstrikes in Iraq to support the government there. “We do have a stake in making sure these jihadists are not getting a permanent foothold in either Iraq or Syria,” Obama added.

Obama said that is was “fair to say that in our consultations with the Iraqis there will be some short-term immediate things that need to be done militarily and our national security team is looking into all the options.” However, a senior administration official said Obama is not considering putting U.S. boots on the ground once again in Iraq.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has expressed a willingness to allow the U.S. to conduct airstrikes on the extremists, who have over the past week seized Iraq’s second largest city, the country’s largest oil refinery and the city of Tikrit, the home of former leader Saddam Hussein. Fighting between Iraqi forces and advancing fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and other Islamic fundamentalist groups, who spilled over from neighboring war-torn Syria, has already displaced more than 500,000 Iraqis.

“This should also be a wakeup call for the Iraqi government,” Obama said. “There has to be a political component to this so that Sunni and Shia who care about building a functioning state that can bring about security and prosperity to all people inside of Iraq come together and work diligently against the extremists.”

The U.S. has provided Baghdad with $15 billion worth of equipment and training after spending $1.7 trillion and nearly 4,500 lives in almost nine years of war.

“Over the last year we have been providing them with additional assistance to try to address the problems that they have in Anbar, the northwest portions of the country, as well as the Iraqi and Syrian border,” Obama said. “What we’ve seen over the last couple of days indicates the degree to which Iraq’s going to need more help. It’s going to need more help from us, and it’s going to need more help from the international community.”

TIME Iraq

5 Things You Need to Know About the Militant Advance on Baghdad

IRAQ-UNREST-SECURITY
Iraqi policemen listen to a briefing inside a military base in the capital Baghdad, on June 11, 2014, after the declaration of a state of emergency by the government. Ahmad Al-Rubaye—AFP/Getty Images

As militants take terrain from the Turkish border with Syria to Baghdad, this is what you need to know about their plans

It took five days for an extremist splinter group of al-Qaeda to occupy the city of Mosul, one of the biggest cities in Iraq and 250 miles north of Baghdad. A day later the group, once known as al Qaeda in Iraq, and now known as the Islamic State of Iraq and greater Syria to reflect its broader role in the region, advanced on former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit. A 60-vehicle convoy of ISIS units rolled into Baiji on Wednesday to take the country’s largest oil refinery. In each instance the Iraqi security forces dropped their weapons and melted away, effectively ceding nearly a third of the country to a militant organization so extreme that even al-Qaeda has repudiated it. Meanwhile ISIS is cementing control over a large swath of eastern Syria. As the militants push towards Baghdad, here are the five things you need to know about ISIS’s advance.

1. Despite the $25 billion spent by the U.S. to train and equip the Iraqi Army, it’s not fit to fight a war

Corruption, fear and divided loyalties have hollowed out the Iraqi army over the past several years. Even before these recent attacks, the Iraqi Army was losing some three hundred soldiers a day due to defections, deaths and injuries, according to a recent investigation by the New York Times. Once ISIS arrived on the scene, soldiers disarmed en masse, an indication that mid-ranking commanders either supported the militants’ advance because of tribal connections, or may have been bought off. And American assistance, based on the United States’ experience in Iraq, may have focused too tightly on counterinsurgency training, even as ISIS evolved into a full-fledged paramilitary force capable of fighting a conventional war.

But it’s not just a failure by the Iraqi military. ISIS has capitalized on widespread Sunni dissatisfaction with Iraq’s Shi’ite-dominated central government. And the group’s superior fighting skills, honed in years of fighting against the Americans in the Iraq war, and more recently in Syria, has drawn funding and would-be jihadis from around the globe.

2. The Turkish citizens taken hostage in Mosul are in serious trouble

It’s not looking good for the 49 Turkish citizens taken from the country’s consulate in Mosul, or the 31 Turkish truck drivers who were also kidnapped. Turkish officials are talking to militants in Mosul about freeing their citizens, but Turkish media are also reporting that ISIS has demanded a $5 million ransom for the truck drivers. Kidnappings for ransom are ISIS’s bread and butter, and they drive a hard bargain. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told a Turkish television network that “any harm to our citizens and staff would be met with the harshest retaliation,” but as long as ISIS has control over Mosul, any kind of rescue attempt would be impossible. Even a prisoner exchange is unlikely: When ISIS takes a town, the first thing it does is fling open prison doors in hopes of regaining old recruits or attracting new ones. There is unlikely anyone left ISIS would be willing to trade for, and those officials may have little more to offer than threats that will be hard to back up.

3. ISIS may not be part of al-Qaeda anymore, but it still poses a threat to the United States

The split between ISIS and al-Qaeda is largely philosophical. Both seek to build an Islamic caliphate, but ISIS thinks this is best achieved through hard power, by taking terrain militarily and then enforcing Islamic law. Al-Qaeda’s leadership prefers to create a community of like-minded converts first, through displays of power. Either way, both groups seek expansion, and will use ungoverned terrain to train foreign recruits that could eventually turn those battlefield skills on Western targets. It may have already happened: last month Saudi Arabian officials arrested an ISIS cell accused of plotting attacks against the kingdom, and it is thought that the man accused of killing four in a gun attack on the Jewish Museum in Brussels fought with ISIS in Syria.

4. ISIS is unlikely to take over all of Iraq

Even if the militants had the manpower, they wouldn’t be able to hold that much territory for long. And unlike the Iraqi Army, they don’t have an air force. But they could incite a sectarian war, paving the way for success in the long term. “Sectarian civil war is the enabler,” says Jessica Lewis, an ISIS expert at the Institute for the Study of War. “They want to set conditions in Iraq that look like Syria so they can set up an Islamic state.” It may already be working: Shi’ite leaders have responded to ISIS attacks on Shi’ite targets with calls to form defense militias.

5. This newfound focus on Iraq doesn’t mean Syria is off the hook

Institute for the Study of War

ISIS’s vision for an Islamic caliphate modeled upon the early days of the Islamic empire straddles the border and erases colonial-era lines in the desert. Even as one ISIS wing took Tikrit, another wing encircled the city of Deir Ezzor across the border in Syria, cementing its control over Syria’s oil-rich eastern province of the same name. Lewis’ map of ISIS sanctuaries paints a vivid picture of ISIS’ future caliphate, and a current stronghold that not only threatens Baghdad, but the region.

TIME uk

Court Blocks UK’s First Secret Terror Trial

Plans to hold a terrorism trial completely in secret have been overturned by the UK's Court of Appeal, following a media challenge

Judges at the UK’s Court of Appeal have ruled that a proposed secret terror trial must be heard partly in public, though the core of the case can be held in private, the BBC reports. The swearing in of the jury, some of the prosecution’s introductory comments, the laying out of the case, verdicts and possible sentencing will all be heard in public.

Justice Nicol made the unprecedented decision in May that the case would be heard in secret and the defendants not named. Until Thursday, the accused, Erol Incedal and Mounir Rarmoul-Bouhadjar, were known only as AB and CD.

Nicol’s ruling prompted a joint challenge from a number of media organizations. On June 4, the Court of Appeal ruled that the media could report on their challenge. Prior to this, news outlets couldn’t even mention the trial’s existence.

The Crown Prosecution Service, who are prosecuting the two men, said the trial had to be held in private for reasons of national security. They added that were the trial to be made public, they might have to drop it.

In their ruling, the appeal court judges stated that they had “grave concerns” about holding criminal trials in secret and not releasing the identities of defendants. They also added that though the core of the trial would be heard in private, a small group of journalists would be in attendance and their notes held until the end of the trail.

The two defendants were arrested in October 2013 in what were described as “high-profile circumstances.” Both are charged with collecting information useful to terrorism. Incedal was further accused of preparing for terrorist acts whilst Rarmoul-Bouhadjar is alleged to have possessed false identity documents.

[BBC]

TIME brazil

Reporter Hit by Tear Gas Container as Brazilian Cops Spar With Protestors

Police clashed with a small group of protestors 7 miles from a World Cup stadium

Brazilian police fired tear gas canisters at a group of protestors demonstrating against the World Cup on Thursday. At least one arrest was made, according to CNN reporter Shasta Darlington, who was struck with a tear gas canister on live air during the fracas.

The protestors intended to make their way to Corinthians Stadium some seven miles away.

Similar protests have cropped up in recent weeks as many Brazilians are enraged by the World Cup’s $11 billion price tag. Some argue those funds would be better spent on local needs like housing, hospitals and schools.

[CNN]

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